The dangers of unmapped chocolates

I’m not a big Valentine’s Day person. In fact, I’m really not a big gift/special day person at all. It’s just not the “love language” I speak.

But, occasionally, I will find one of those iconic heart-shaped boxes on my desk or kitchen table, and I always regard it with intense suspicion. I’ve noticed an unfortunate trend on the part of chocolate makers to fail to include one of those little “maps” that identify each piece by shape and size and reveal its contents.

Without the map, you’re wandering blind in a minefield of strange nuts and coconut bombs that might go off at any moment! One false taste and BOOM!! there you go, gagging all the way to the water fountain and hoping your taste buds will have mercy on your brain and die quickly.

I always feel like Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series: quietly scrutinizing my box of assorted treats, trying to use logic to determine which ones might have horrors within. Then, almost sure I’ve chosen “a nice toffy,” I bite into an unassuming chocolate to find – UGH!! almonds!

I’ve learned by now the flat ones are just chocolate with nothing inside. Pieces with bumps on top likely contain nuts – but not always. Oval-shaped puffy pieces could contain chocolate mousse or fruit cremes… but they could also contain coconut… which is even worse than nuts. It’s like starting Jenga and waiting for the last pieces to fall.

Some people enjoy this uncertainty; I find it stressful and unhappy. If I wanted to play Russian roulette with my taste buds I would buy jelly doughnuts and not check the color first.

What eventually happens is that I break open every piece to find the ones I want and then try to pass the busted ones to the Mister or anyone else who might want them, which I understand isn’t incredibly appetizing.

So this is an open plea to chocolate-makers everywhere: PLEASE! For the love of fruit cremes, include a diagram in every box! Not just the fancy ones for rich ladies, but the little samplers for us common folk too.

Maybe then I could open an unassuming box of chocolates without feeling like I’m playing “Operation” and waiting for the buzzer to go off.

**Am I the only one who does this?**

 

Our Soundtrack – A letter to singles everywhere

I was flipping through the CD collection in my car over the weekend, and I came across a disc I had forgotten exists.

“Our Soundtrack.”

I put this mix together while in an old relationship and had forgotten it was still in the case with the others. Popping it into the player, I recognized some of the songs because they are still popular today, while others I’m completely rediscovering. I’m sure I painstakingly assembled this collection with an exact reason for each track selected. I’m sure it took me days, maybe even weeks, to decide on the final list. But to tell you the truth… I don’t remember what those reasons were.

There are only two songs of the 14 that I can relate to a specific event in that relationship, but the others are just music.

When I made that CD I was either 16 or 17, chasing a guy that I had to beg to love me at every step. Don’t get me wrong, we were wonderful friends and I cherish the many good times we had together, but I was also convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was going to spend my life with him (if only I could make him see that).

Over the two+ years that I tried to make that relationship work, I had so many adults smile their all-knowing smiles and tell me that I was too young to possibly have any idea what love was. They all told me that when I got older I would look back and realize that my childish infatuation wasn’t love at all. Well, I’m older now, and I still have to disagree. I hate when the older generation tells the younger that it doesn’t know what love is, and I hope I never laugh at my children and say those same things. I believe, even now, that I was in love at the time. I was in love with all the heart that I had at 17. It wasn’t reciprocated, and it wasn’t meant to be, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real on my end.

It also doesn’t mean it was the kind of love to last forever – not all love does. One of the most important things that relationship, and that boy, taught me is that love isn’t meant to be something you work for. Yes, you have to work on it constantly, feed it and help it grow every day, but it’s not something you should have to grovel for, collect scraps for. I never had much luck with boyfriends in high school or in college; I think I killed the potential by trying too hard. (That mixed CD, for example, probably wasn’t a good idea.) But all those failures only taught me what an amazing thing it was to meet the man who is now my husband and be able to have an easy conversation, not feeling like I had to be constantly witty, not being bothered by the fact that my hair hadn’t been washed in two days. If I hadn’t had that first sort of relationship, I may not have recognized how special the second was – and still is.

So this is what I want any unmarried person who might be reading this to know: You don’t know what your future holds, and if it doesn’t hold that guy or that girl you’ve been trying to catch for years, then that’s ok. Because you know what? There’s a reason for that. Love can be real in many forms, but love is only lasting if you didn’t have to beg and plead for it in the first place. If you have to come up with a list of reasons why that person should want to be with you, then you are better off waiting for someone who knows those reasons on their own. I promise; I’ve made those lists and had those arguments and I can tell you that it’s so much better knowing you were enough all on your own.

I don’t have a CD of mine and the Mister’s soundtrack, but if I did, it would include the sound of canoe paddles splashing in the Duck River as we go backwards through the rapids; the excited bark of our dog as she chases him through the backyard; and probably my laughter as he threatens to put ice cubes down the back of my shirt. It would also have arguments and door slamming and the angry rev of an engine. It’s been put together on the fly – as life happens on its own. It’s not painstakingly assembled, and it’s not labeled with perfect sharpie hearts and swirls. It’s made from real life – real love and real mistakes – and it’s so much better that way.

Part 2…

I’m not going to post a link every time he updates (at least I’m not planning to at this point), but because of the interest I wanted to let you all know that this blogger is creating additional parts for his original post, which I linked to yesterday. Follow him on wordpress or scroll to the bottom of his blog and follow him via email if you’re interested in his additional thoughts in the coming weeks. 🙂

How I Know My Wife Married the Wrong Person (Part 2).

How I Know My Wife Married the “Wrong” Person

Obviously my wife didn’t marry the “wrong” person (haha – get the joke, people), but these are excellent thoughts by somebody that I don’t know, but I already respect just from reading this. Enjoy.

-the missus

How I Know My Wife Married the “Wrong” Person.

Thoughts from the “Marriage Manual”

This week marks the Gardner Church of Christ’s spring gospel meeting, and it is off to a spectacular start. Keith Mosher, the guest speaker and a teacher at the Memphis School of Preaching, is just a wonderful speaker. Words can’t even describe. He’s conversational, engaging, funny and relevant. He doesn’t talk “at” you or “over” you like so many preachers do; he talks TO you and makes you think. Seriously, when a preacher can talk for an hour and fifteen minutes, and you don’t even notice, that’s when you know you’ve got a good one.

Last night he spoke of marriage and brought out a few points from Matthew 19:3-6; and Ephesians 5:21-31.

First of all, leaving aside the fact that marriage is stated to be between one man and one woman and can only be scripturally ended by death or adultery (since those are a whole other ballgame), Mr. Mosher started with Matthew 19:5, where Jesus is speaking on marriage and says, “…For this cause (meaning marriage) shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (King James Version).

As Mr. Mosher pointed out, and as so many of us have already observed in society, the adolescent phase of life is getting longer and longer. Instead of children becoming adults at 20 or 21, they are now waiting to really grow up until 25 (women) and 27 (men). They are getting their degrees and then moving back in with mom and dad to finish growing up. They are not being taught to be adults on their own in the world. This contributes to the high percentage of failed marriages these days, because in many cases you essentially have two children getting married and then having no idea how to run their own homes.

People don’t seem to know what it is to “leave father and mother” anymore. I totally agree with Mr. Mosher when he said that “the husband is to be the protector and the wife is to be a supporter in A NEW HOME.” If you’re getting married and then moving back in with mom and dad, or grandma and grandpa or whoever, maybe you should have waited to get married. Whether it’s a maturity issue or a money issue, it doesn’t really matter. If you don’t have the money saved to support a new home, then you should still wait. Now of course, there are obvious, temporary reasons where this might be acceptable. Maybe you’re moving, maybe the house is being remodeled, maybe your husband is deployed and you’re expecting a baby so you move home to get help with the pregnancy – makes perfect sense! But these are all temporary situations.

(This also applies to in-laws and parents being involved in the new home. STOP IT! To all you parents out there who want to make your married child’s decisions and “help” run his or her home – get out of it! That is not the biblical way, and you, regardless of how well-meaning you may be, are disrupting God’s design for their new marriage. [And no, I’m not talking about my own parents and in-laws. You guys are great.])

Mr. Mosher’s second point was the idea of “cleaving to his wife” (or husband, as the case my be). Couples are to be each other’s best friends, closest companions and first resource. The marriage relationship comes even before the children, because you train the children to leave the nest, but you will always have each other. How sad to get all the children out of the house and then look at your spouse (notice, not “partner”) and realize you have nothing in common.

Moving in Ephesians 5: Wives are commanded to be subject to their own husbands. This does not include other men, only the one you married. There is no commandment that a woman is to be in subjection to the whims of the man down the street who thinks he’s better than you because he has a Y chromosome. Ignore that man. He’s got bigger problems. Marriage is structured this way so that it will function properly, because “the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church…” (verse 23). Many women take this offensively, with the attitude of “Why should I have to listen to a stupid man?” Well, if you thought he was stupid, why did you marry him?

Men actually have it harder, because they are commanded in verse 25 to “love (their) wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Wives are told to give their husbands the last word, but husbands have to be willing to die for their wives. Now, ladies, which would you rather be? There is no commandment in scripture that wives be ready to die for their husbands. Personally, I think this is because God understands that men are oftentimes difficult to live with and do not always live up to what we wives hope they will be. It’s a reminder to men that, while wives are to be subject, they (the husbands) cannot lord themselves over their wives and exalt themselves to a position of infallibility.

Mr. Mosher’s last two points came from verse 33: “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” He talked about how women, because of the way we are wired, need to hear that we are needed by our husbands; women need to be told how much we are appreciated for our daily efforts in the marriage and the home and whatever else. Men, on the other hand, need to be “reverenced.” Many women hear this word and see themselves physically bowing down to their husbands, and reject the idea. (Of course! Who wouldn’t?) But, that’s not what that means. In this context, it means “respect.” Wives should respect their husbands, not only in words but in deeds; not making fun of him or bringing him down, letting him know he is a good provider for his family, etc. This really shouldn’t be so difficult. If you don’t respect him, why did you marry him?

(Also, if you were just planning to “change him,” why did you marry him?)

 

So, in summary:

  • One man, one woman, NEW HOME.
  • Parents and in-laws, stay out of it.
  • Wives subject to own husbands.
  • Husbands be willing to die for your wife.
  • Tell your wife you need her.
  • Tell your husband he is good at what he does.
  • Don’t marry him if you’re just wanting to “change him.”

 

Thoughts? Comments? Opinions? Have you ever had to move in with your parents or in-laws? How did that work out?

Little Victories

I backed my car into a parking space today all by myself and didn’t damage anything.
If you’ve ever seen the way I drive backwards, you would understand why this is such a big deal. Parallel parking, mastered that. Backing up, however, is a problem.
I come from a long line of what I call “master backer-uppers.” My dad and grandfather can both back a full-size truck pulling an extra-long RV and a tow car across a ditch, between the mailbox and a tree, down the driveway and into a specified spot under the pines and stop before they hit the shed. The Mister can back a university cattle trailer down a narrow barn aisle. I, on the other hand, have a hard time backing the lawn mower in a straight line. Forget about blind spots and pedestrians.
It’s little victories that make the difference, really. The big triumphs only come on occasion, so you have to revel in the smaller satisfactions when they come. Today was one of those days. Not an overly fantastic day, but with enough of those small things to make it worth smiling about. My boss included me in an email sent to “his staff;” I got to play with a newborn lamb and coaxed a barn cat into letting me carry him around; cooked a corn casserole even the Mister liked; and didn’t get eaten by the normally-aggressive ducks we feed at the city pond.
I feel sorry for people who have a hard time appreciating those little gifts – the friends around them, the love of family, the opportunity to get an education… the list could go on and on.
I know this is a shorter post than usual, but I just want all of you reading this to take a moment and think about something that happened in your day that was a little victory, even when the rest of the day may have felt like a loss.
“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

And for anyone who made need another extra boost of encouragement, take a look at this awesome video from the Kid President. At the very end, he mentions a little girl named Gabby fighting cancer. She’s a real little girl from middle Tennessee and my in-laws know her. Take the video to heart and remember, no matter what you may have gone through today, it could always be worse.

Power Cords Don’t Count

Allen, the father on “Boy Meets World,” bought his wife, Amy, a trash compactor for their anniversary. She, predictably, was unimpressed.
Of course, Allen was confused. Amy had been mentioning how she wanted a trash compactor for months. Allen saw a need, a problem, and set out to be a hero and fix it. He bought her the best trash compactor on the market and came home so proud of himself.
I paused the DVD and turned to the Mister. His prompt response was, “I would never do that. I’m not stupid. If I ever get you an appliance, it’ll have something attached to it or inside it.”
And actually the Mister has been really good about that. He’s good about remembering when I mention things that I like and about coming up with cute ways to surprise me with them. His parents and I are in complete confusion about where these romantic impulses come from. They certainly don’t come from either of his parents, and they would tell you that themselves.
The father in law let the mother in law pick out her engagement ring, after being prompted by his own mother, and then handed it to her and said, “Here, do you want this?” Neither of them know where the Mister ever got a romantic bone in his body.
So I just want to preserve in writing, for posterity’s sake, the fact that the Mister has promised never to buy me a gift simply for the purpose of solving a problem. This would include kitchen appliances, cleaning products and generally anything with a power cord.
Unless of course I have specifically asked for such a thing with the intent that it should be given on a holiday or special occasion. For example, this past Christmas I had several things on my list that were appliance-like, or at least had power cords, like a candle warmer. I intended for those to be Christmas presents. Thankfully the Mister is smarter than my Christmas list and knew that there needed to be something else along with the power cords, and he came through admirably with jewelry hanging on our tree.
His family is still reeling from that one.
Being the academic dork that I am, I relate this to something akin to the “nature versus nurture” argument. Nurture tells the Mister, “Power cords are acceptable Christmas presents.” But something in his nature, something from a generation or two back, says, “Buy her something shiny. Surprise her. Make her smile.”
I guess God knew to put backup reserves in place, even if only to save some men from themselves. (Now if only we could find a way to transfer some of those reserves to the many poor, helpless, untrained young men out there in the world. But that’s a problem for another column.)

A sappy Siri moment

My husband enjoys tormenting Siri.
For those of you who may not know, Siri is the personal assistant available on most Apple products. She can create reminders, set off alarms, open applications, play requested music selections and perform a variety of other tasks.
I use her primarily to make calendar appointments and get the most recent weather forecasts. The Mister, on the other hand, enjoys asking questions like, “how do you cure the common cold?” He also likes to ask how she’s doing today, if she knows any good jokes and what she likes to do for fun.
He gets a kick out of the confused answers he gets, since Siri can’t answer emotional questions. I, however, enjoy the way Siri never seems to understand the way the Mister’s country boy accent mixes words together. It’s pretty hilarious to see what she comes back with as a translation.
But I still love the silly boy. Despite his sometimes crazy antics, his goofy faces and the times he goes out to the dumpster wearing soccer shorts, knee-high socks and muddy boots, I still love him.
I’ve heard it said that “we’re all a little weird, and life’s a little weird, but someday we find someone who’s weirdness complements ours and we fall into a mutual weirdness and call it love.” (Or something along those lines, at least.) And I believe it’s true.
Ultimately, I have no complaints. I married a wonderful man who loves me and takes care of me. He cooks dinner when I’m sick (albeit a bit warily), washes the dishes when I’m overwhelmed with work, and generally tries to be helpful around the house. He calls when he’s going to be late or if he’s not coming home for lunch; he asks if I want anything from somewhere before he comes home… He’s wonderful.
But alright, enough bragging on my part. I wouldn’t want every other woman in the world to get jealous.
And ok, so maybe I’m in a bit of a mushy, sappy mood this week. I haven’t felt all that great since Thursday afternoon, and the Mister has been doing a wonderful job letting me rest and bringing me things I need and generally taking good care of me.
So, in other words, everybody say a quick prayer that I get to feeling better soon (no mom, I do not have flu-like symptoms at all. Do not text me frantically as soon as you read this.) and don’t let opportunities pass to tell someone that you love them.
There, sappy moment over. Everyone return to your regularly scheduled activities.

I Don’t Know Much, but I Do Know Some

“Nut House” has had 70 visits on its busiest day. Most weeks I spike around 50-60 visitors on Monday with new posts and trickle down throughout the week.

            But I’ve become increasingly aware lately that my readership is much larger than that – including grandparents, coworkers of my in-laws and church members who read printed rather than online versions.

            And I hope those 50-60+ visitors continue to read regardless of content, because this week I’m going to take a short break from the newlywed theme and address a few things I don’t know and a few things that I do.

            I don’t know why the Lord permits bad things happen to good people. I don’t know why a young mother in the prime of her life, with two young boys and a fabulous husband, has stage four colon cancer and has called in hospice. I don’t know why someone who has never smoked a day in his/her life can suffer long years with emphysema. I don’t know why deserving couples can’t have children and crack addicts can have multiples.

            Now for what I do know.

            I do know that the Lord loves us all and that nothing can separate us from that (Romans 8:35, 38-39). I do know he wants everyone to spend eternity with Him in heaven (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

            BUT, I also know that we must play by the rules. We can’t just pick and choose which areas we like and throw out the ones we don’t. We can’t say, “I think God would like this because. . . .” If the Lord had wanted full-fledged concerts in His worship He would have added “electric guitars” to Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 when he commands us to worship Him with “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” He didn’t need to wait for electric guitars to be invented – He knew they were coming.

            So many people want to turn the situation around and say that those who “judge others” for being homosexual are the ones who anger God because of their intolerance. No, we should not judge people from our own hearts because we are not perfect ourselves and must avoid hypocrisy. Yes, we must reach out to all people because all souls are worth the same. But when I tell you that homosexuality is a sin, it’s not me that judges you – it’s God. It’s the many instances when He specifically lists homosexuality as an “abomination.” I didn’t write that. He did.

            Christians must belong to Christ – to the church that belongs to Him. He bought it with His own pain and suffering and does not deserve to be pushed aside in favor of any man. The church of the Lord was not founded by Joseph Smith (Galatians 1:6-9). It was not established by the Nicene Creed in the 4th century. It did not include a catalog of special prayers or a crowd of men wearing tall white hats deciding what sin is and is not. If we needed extra books or extra creeds the Lord would have provided them.

            When the Lord sends a soul to Hell for disobedience that does not mean He does not love you. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. But parents punish their children – who they love – when they are disobedient and unruly. Thus will the Lord, our Father, punish those who disobey. None of us will be able to stand before Him on judgment day and say “Well I thought. . .” and reason our way out of the punishment we have earned. Not just been given – but earned. All those who end up in Hell will have earned that position. Scary thought, huh?

            Now for something else I know.

            I know this is not a religious column. But I also know that while that may not be the main focus of this blog, it should not be something I purposely avoid. I know that “political correctness” is a tool of Satan to silence those who carry the truth. I have the greatest of friends, the finest of coworkers and the most beloved of family members who would be lost if the world ended today. I know that and it eats at my heart that I have not done more to show them their separation from God.

            Why are certain topics taboo at family gatherings? Why do we not tell those we love that they are wrong? It’s because we are afraid to lose them. I don’t want to lose them. But at the same time, if I see them in Heaven one day it will make up for never speaking to them again in this life. This is hard to accept, but it must be accepted.

            I expect comments and controversy. I expect to be told that I am wrong and hateful. But I also expect each and every person who responds to provide me with scripture to back up your “I think” or “Well we believe.” Prove me wrong. Show me it’s ok to walk your own path. Show me an example where the Lord has ever accepted someone into Heaven who was “a good person” but not an obedient, baptized Christian. Only the Lord knows the heart of a man, and only the Lord can judge us. But He also provides us with instructions. He knows when we willfully decide to lay them aside and we will be held accountable for them all, even those we do not choose to acknowledge.

I struggle with my own demons and I fail my Lord in countless ways each and every day. I am just as much in danger of falling as anyone else. I am not claiming to be beyond the influence of sin; to make such a claim would not only be a lie but would make God a liar as well, since he has said that “every man has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

            One day we will ALL have to face the music. We will ALL kneel before the Lord, whether you believe in Him or not. Those who do not live in obedience will be lost. So I ask you now, why should you be the exception?

Finding Faith in Love

We all have things happen in our lives that can shake our faith in love.

Maybe your parents got divorced, or that perfect couple broke up, or someone got caught cheating.

Maybe you’ve seen your own heart shattered and stared down at the pieces littering the parking lot and wondered how you would ever fill the space they left behind.

It is far too easy these days to focus on the bad things, the heart-breaking things. I know too many young people who are too old for their years. They have seen too many seemingly-solid relationships fall apart to really believe in the power of love.

So they settle. They settle for the security of money or the promise of being able to leave their parents’ house. They cling to the idea that “at least he treats me better than the last one.”

I do not claim to be anywhere near an expert on this topic, having only been in love twice and married for two months. But I do know that love is not about pride. It’s not just about finding something better than what you’ve got.

It’s about endurance and faith and trust. It’s about knowing that it doesn’t matter what hardships may lie ahead, you have someone who will always walk those rocky paths beside you.

The mister and I have only been married for two months, and we only dated for two years before that. We have not yet had to endure true hardship.

However, we were privileged this past weekend to witness the marriage of two young people—the bride younger than me—who have already been through more in their seven-year relationship than many couples endure in a lifetime together.

They have been through military deployments and radical job changes. They have been 7,000 miles apart and still managed to have movie dates on Friday nights. They have made it through those difficult years where you truly learn who you are, and have come out the other side still each other’s better half.

Now I’m not saying they are that mythical “perfect couple;” they’ve had their issues just like everyone else. But even when they’ve disagreed, fought and even broken up, they have always found their way back to each other. Even across oceans.

D and J are an inspiration to everyone who has ever hoped to be in love. But just because they finally have rings does not mean their battles are over—the hardest part has only just begun. However, of all the couples I know who have gotten married this summer (the list is at 14 right now since May 12), they are the ones I have the least worries about.

Their wedding was beyond gorgeous, and they are two of the most deserving people I know to have had a celebration like that. And it truly was a celebration.

So for those of you who may be cynics, for one reason or another, remember that there is real love in this world. There are those who, whether you believe in “fate” or not, were somehow meant to be together.

People are not perfect, and those we love will sometimes break our hearts. But even through the heartache there is hope; you just have to remember to believe in it.

(Click here for sneak peek pictures of D and J’s wedding!)