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.)