Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Marathon Walk

At work, I get to interview and write stories about some inspiring people. The most recent is a woman who is going to swim across Lake Ontario this summer (45 kilometers) to help raise money for Kaitlin's Legacy, the young woman who donated her children's wish to bring clean water to children in Africa. I got to thinking, "Hey, why can't I do something like that?" So after thinking it over, I've decided I'm going to....drumroll....Walk a marathon to raise money for Highly Vulnerable Children.

I'm not really sure yet about all the logistics, but I'm going to walk from Palmer Lake to Downtown Colorado Springs sometime in June or July this summer. (From the lake in Palmer Lake to the Pioneer Museum in Colorado Springs is 26.2 miles. Who knew?!) The entire way will be on my favorite - the Santa Fe Trail - so it will be a nice little sojourn.

I decided to try to raise funds for this particular fund because it helps the neediest children that Compassion serves. Much of the time they are orphans or children abandoned by their parents who have nowhere to go but the streets. Compassion helps put them with a foster family, helps their caregivers learn ways to earn an income, and offers counseling to those who have gone through trauma. The stories I work on for this fund are always amazing.

I decided on walking a marathon because I love walking/hiking (and hate running) and wanted something that would be a real challenge, while allowing me to bring Allie. So I've officially started training! My goal is to walk/hike for 1-2 hours 4 times a week. I'm going to record my walks here to give me some accountability and motivation to get outside even when I feel like sitting on my duff. (My ulterior motive isn't philanthropic, but my desire to get my duff back in shape. Though I'm nearly back to my pre-pregnancy weight, things seem to have...rearranged themselves.)

So stay tuned. And let me know if you're interested in walking with me!

P.S. That picture is what I'm going to look like by June. Intense walking turns your hair blonde.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kindness at Work

Here's a devotional I wrote for Compassion.

I also put together this post, the beginning of a series on partnership. Have a happy Monday!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Ah, such simpler times.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Another Episode of Allie TV

In which Alexandra learns how to fly and how to sing.

This is one of Allie's favorite things to do:


And she makes these noises all day long, especially when she's hanging out alone. We think she likes the sound of her voice.


On a side note, after Allie was finished singing with dad, he turned out the lights and she went straight to sleep with nary a peep. She has to be the easiest baby on the planet to get to sleep. Love her!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


My husband is a funny kind of guy. Not funny "ha-ha." Funny "oh-my-gosh-what-have-you-done-this-time?"

I really only have myself to blame. Just before we started dating, we went on a trip to the Mile High Flea Market with some friends. Mike decided this was the perfect chance to 1) dress in costume and 2) test the limits of my affection. I, already wary of his somewhat questionable fashion sense, was dismayed to see him show up on this all important day when I was trying to decide if I should date him or not wearing his finest "white trash" outfit, complete with wife beater, handlebar mustache, rat tail, and camo fishing hat. We were not amused.

But my love survived the fashion test. And it has survived subsequent tests throughout the years, such as that Indiana Jones hat he just can't resist and his leather cowboy hat he got at a tourist dive. And once again, my love faced the test last night. Several nights before he had told me, "I'm going to surprise you in the next couple of days. Not a surprise for you, just a surprise." "A good surprise or a bad surprise?" I asked. "Neither, just a neutral surprise," he said.

Then last night, I noticed Mike was spending an awful lot of time in the bathroom. "Surely he can't still be combing his hair," I thought. I hoped to myself that he wasn't once again cutting his own hair, an unfortunate affliction I'm trying to cure him of.

Finally, I knocked on the bathroom door and he opened.

His hair was red.


His eyebrows too.

"See? I told you I was going to surprise you, that it wasn't a good or a bad surprise." I could have begged to differ. He said he just wanted to look like Allie and me with our nut-brown hair, so he had bought brown hair dye. Upon closer inspection, the package said "dark blonde." And apparently Mike's dark blonde hair + dark blonde hair dye = red hair.

On the upside, it really brings out his green eyes. He has quite the charm of the leprechaun. He's magically delicious.

And so now all that is left to decide is what to do: shave? dye again? wait for the grass to grow? Pull that Indiana Jones hat back out?

Oh, Mikey, how I love you.

Canada vs. USA

Here's a little blog post I wrote for work. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Allie Takes a Bath

This post is exactly what it sounds like...Hope you enjoy it grandparents!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Myths of the Working Mom

In life, it's easy to base our thinking around generalities and stereotypes. It's how the human brain works: We form schema that help us to order and understand the world. (Psych 101 pays off!) So, as my husband would say, "Stereotypes are useful!" But the weakness of generalities and stereotypes is that they are only generalities. Generalities that represent individuals. And, as it turns out, individuals have feelings.

I've thought for a couple of days about whether or not I should write this post because I realize my motivation for writing it: My feelings are hurt. Generally I try not to write in the heat of the moment because I can get a bit saucy. But at the same time, feelings are a kind of truth of their own. (A fact I am learning as a mother.) So I will venture to write in a balanced (non-saucy) way on the topic of working moms even though my feelings are involved.

I recently was excited to join a book study about motherhood. Since I'm new to this thing and pretty much clueless, I was excited to delve in. I was hoping to gain some vision for my role as a mother. But upon reading the first chapter of the book, I was faced with what I've read many times before: a defense against the working mom; a liturgy of why women cannot fully be good mothers if they work outside of the home. I was, frankly, crestfallen. Join me just momentarily in my pity party: Here I was, excited to read Scripture about being a mom and explore how I can be a good mom to little Alexandra only to read about how I really can't because I work. It hurt my feelings.

I thought it would be useful to break down some of these generalities about working mothers (which the author leaned on). Not that they're not sometimes true. But that they're not always true and there are women around you who may also be getting their feelings hurt.

Myth 1: Working moms work because they have prioritized their career over their family. I'm sure there are some women out there who have done this. But there are also women out there who work because they have to. In my circle of friends, I have one who works because her husband is unemployed, one who works because her husband's income is unreliable, and one who works out of submission to her husband's wishes. This myth is especially hurtful because the implication is that moms who work care more about themselves than about their babies. Each of these friends of mine would do anything for their children and the implication that they somehow love their children less is, in a word, insulting.

Myth 2: Working moms work to maintain their inflated lifestyles. This is also true for some women, but certainly not all. I for one don't work so that I can pay for my iPhone. I work so I can pay the mortgage, the heating bills, the grocery bills. This generalization is hurtful because it implies that working women are frivolous (on top of being selfish), which is just not a word I would use to describe any of the working moms I know.

Myth 3: Working moms just throw their babies unthinkingly into day care to be "raised by someone else." The way some people talk of day care, you would think moms barely slow down the car before they boot their babies out the door on the curb of the day care. And once the babies are there, some make it sound like a baby work camp, grey and forboding, where babies are just shuffled into the corner and ignored all day long, rather than the bright places they are where babies have the attention of staff all day. Perhaps there are some women who throw their babies into some day care arrangement uncaringly, but the working moms I know work hard and look hard to find the care they think is best for their babies. They research and pray and even agonize over the decision. This generalization is hurtful because it implies that working moms just don't care about their babies and are too self-interested to be bothered with the raising of their children. The working moms I know love their children fiercely and would do anything to ensure they are in the best situation possible.

OK, so that's my emotional rant. I post it mainly in defense of my working mom friends. I, being a work-at-home mom, have a "Get Out of Jail Free" card when it comes to working. But just remember that behind every generalization there is a person, and many times that person is a mom who is working so hard to care for their children who they love so very dearly. Sometimes we might talk about the generalities, assuming the people we're talking to know that we don't mean them. But they just might not realize that, and you just might be hurting their feelings. That's all.

P.S. If anyone can recommend a book on mothering that won't make us working moms feel like second-class citizens, please let me know!

P.P.S. Here are some great thoughts on a related topic.

P.P.P.S. Here is an old post I wrote on a related topic.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Admitting Failure

Here's a blog I wrote for Compassion on failure.

It's interesting to see how admitting failure works in personal life as well. When I think of the times I admitted failure compared to the times I tried to maintain that I was in the right...the former always went much better - especially in marriage. It's also so freeing to allow that we are imperfect. I can let out a big sigh knowing that you know I'm imperfect and I know I'm imperfect. Then we can spend our energy working on our imperfections rather than hiding them!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wanderlust: Bruges

After going to Italy, my hankering to see the world was only getting stronger. The church that I was a part of was focused on church planting, and my friends and I dreamt of helping to start a church somewhere in Europe. We went on a scouting trip to Amsterdam to find out if that might be a good place for us...I'll tell you about that later. But on that first trip to Amsterdam, we took a day trip to Bruges, Belgium.

Bruges has to be one of the most romantic places I've ever been. The canals and towers and bridges look like the perfect setting for a storybook fairy tale. Most of the architechture from medieval days survived WWII, making it one of the best preserved medieval cities. After the train ride down from Amsterdam, I spent the day with my friends Melinda and Diane.

We took a tour down the canals, learning all about the history and peeking into the row-house windows. Then we had lunch at one of the many luscious looking cafes. The cafes windows were lined with pastries like fruit tarts and profiteroles. For lunch, I had the crunchiest, butteriest croque monsier...basically a glorified grilled cheese, but everything tastes better in French.

After lunch, including one of those beautiful fruit tarts, we climbed all 366 steps to the top of the 12th century belfry, making our thighs burn and our chests heave. As I climbed the worn stairs, I ran my finger along the cold stone and wondered what other fingers had done exactly the same thing for hundreds of years before me. At the top, we overlooked the colorful market square below.

In the market, we shopped for chocolates and lace for our families. As twilight came upon us, we found a little cafe tucked back in a corner of a side street. The specials were written on a chalkboard outside the place, including steak au poivre. I had what was, at the time, the best meal I'd ever had in my life. All I remember now was the most delicious steak with mushrooms I'd ever had in my life...and I don't like steak.

At night, we took the train back, our bellies full and our hearts warm as the rumble of the train lulled us into a sweet Belgian sleep.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Allie Got Her Tips Frosted

If you recall, this is what Allie's hair looked like when she was born.

Until we took her today to get her tips frosted at the baby spa.

She's so high maintenance.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wanderlust: Roma

After our time in Torino, we headed to the eternal city, Roma. The city of romance. The city of intrigue. The city of history... I hated it.

It started well. We took a six-hour train ride down the coast. We bought the cheapy seats, which were not actually seats. So we stood for six hours or perched on our luggage, catching occasional glimpses of "the wine dark sea," the Mediterranean, glittering at the bottom of the steep cliffs that spilled down into the water.

It was a long trip, and by the late hour we reached Rome, there was only one bus left to our country inn. It also happened to be the only bus that could take every working man in Rome home to his mamma. And there was a bus code, one I had never been taught. As we waited at the bus stop, the groups of men got thicker and thicker and thicker.

When the bus finally pulled up and the doors slid open, I, who had once been standing first in line, was somehow jostled and elbowed and pushed until I was outside the bus and every other man was inside the bus, along with the rest of the team I was with, who apparently got the aggression lessons I must have missed. The men by the doors were oozing out of the bus and while holding on to the bars would thrust inward, trying to squeeze their way in to the fold.

It was 11 at night. I spoke no Italian. I had no idea where I was or where I was supposed to be going. I caught my pastor Steve's eye for one desperate moment and remember thinking, "This is it. This is the last friendly eye I will ever see before this bus pulls away and I am left stranded in Rome to be devoured by the night." Finally I pushed my manners aside and grabbed onto that bus. The men continued to sway and ooze and push. I couldn't figure out if they were trying to push me out with their manueverings or simply make more room, but somehow when all was said and done, the bus doors closed, and I was inside of them.

But that was only the beginning of the ordeal. I scanned the crowd of smelly men to find any of my friends, but though only feet away, we were all irrevocably separated by the mash of humanity. Italian men aren't shy. Hands and elbows and backsides brushed and pinched and poked. I didn't know which way to turn to protect myself and I didn't know which I wanted to protect more - my backpack or my backside. I couldn't move anyway.

With each stop, more men left the bus and we became slightly less mashed into unfriendly arms. Slowly, one by one, we were reunited with our friends on the bus. The guys formed a protective circle around the girls as we shared our stories of the unwanted hands that had groped in the confusion. The Italian pastor, Frank, shared how a man had tried to steal his backpack. Of course, there was nowhere for the man to escape to, so Frank struggled back and forth with the man and was finally victorious.

By the time we got to the countryside, we were exhausted, molested and downtrodden. I felt sick to my stomach. And that is why I hated Rome.

But, while weeping may tarry for the night, joy comes with the morning. In the morning I woke to see what had been in darkness in the night: the rolling, green hills outside of Rome. It was pastoral and sweet, and I felt like I had returned to the home of man somehow. The inn we were staying at was run by nuns and when I could finally suffer to drag myself out of bed to the kitchen, they served me what remains the best cup of coffee I have ever had in my life. It was rich and thick and...amazing. And I'm not even a big coffee lover. I topped it with milk from the white pitcher on the table, and that delicious, fat cup of coffee soothed my soul.

After its healing powers, we headed out for the day. I can still picture it: A line of Americans pulling their bags up and down the rolling roads lined with poplars. Lovely.

Our time in Rome was packed. We saw Trevi Fountain, my favorite. We saw St. Peter's Basillica. I even saw the Pope wave from his window. We saw the catacombs where Christians hid and were buried during Nero's reign. We saw where Paul was imprisoned. We "saw" the Spanish steps. "Saw" because they were so incredibly busy that we only really saw the people standing on top of the Spanish steps, while we fretted over our pockets and wallets as little kids tried to sell us trinkets and, we suspected, pick our pockets.

Although it was amazing to see such history, as my idea of a vacation is to be alone in the middle of a forest, its history and riches couldn't quite make up for the crush of people.

But our last night there was crowned with a jewel. We had dinner sitting on a piazza that was the quintessential Italian scene. We sat on the patio and watched the people go by. We had red wine, which I was sitll immature enough to pretend to like. The middle-aged rotund waiter hit on all the girls in fine Roman style. The candle twinkled on the table as we talked on into the night. Although I didn't love Rome, I loved the Italian pace of sitting and talking and enjoying life. I left Italy dreaming of returning, of drinking its espresso and walking over the rolling hills and simply soaking in life.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wanderlust: Italia!

Since Juarez and British Columbia can't really be considered faraway, exotic travel, my first real adventurous trip was to bella Italia my junior year in college. I studied a semester of Italian in college (the entire fruits of which you have just read in the previous sentence), and I dreamed of moving to be a missionary in Italy...you know, suffering for Jesus. So I went on a mission trip with my college buddies to help kickstart a new church that was being planted in the lovely city of Torino in northern Italy.

The missionaries starting the church had just barely arrived in Torino themselves, so we were helping out by visiting the university, chatting with students, and finding out if any of them were interested in this new church (a friendly way of saying "cold-turkey evangelism"). My partner was Daryl, one of my good friends and someone bold yet comfortable enough to make evangelism slightly less terrifying. Our translator was Ena, a to-the-point woman from Estonia.

What we discovered first in Torino was the espresso....machine espresso, but still wonderful to a couple of wide-eyed American college students. Each morning, our first stop was to the espresso machine on campus to get our fix and try to blend in while fumbling with our teensy little coffee cups. We learned that the silver coins with the gold middle were like gold - they could buy you one nice little cup of espresso.

It was in line one morning that we met Titziano - who seemed to me to be the breeziest, coolest person I had ever encountered with a devil-may-care attitude and a cigarette to boot. We struck up a conversation and started talking about university, life, religion, espresso, and everything under the Italian sun. He suggested we get together later in the day (over espresso, of course) to talk more and he would bring a friend, John Franco.

We met him and John Franco that afternoon at the cafe patio near the university to drink and talk. It strikes me now how unusual this would be in America. We simply don't (or rarely) meet strangers, start up a conversation, and then decide to just sit around for hours talking and drinking coffee. But to them, they didn't seem to view us as weirdo strangers wanting to convert them, but friends from another place and an opportunity to have some good conversation and a good afternoon. What a refreshing pace of life!

We met John Franco and Titziano for coffee several more times before we left. Each time we would say hello to John Franco, he would say "Hi, hi!" and wave both of his hands at us. He seemed to figure that since we say "bye, bye," we also say, "hi, hi." He would then say goodbye to us in the same fashion, but with "ciao, ciao." I still to this day wave both hands and say "ciao, ciao" to say goodbye to people occasionally. They have no idea what I'm doing, but I do.

One of the things I remember most about bella Italia is, of course, il cibo - the food! My first taste of gelato was under a colonnade on the piazza - the creamiest strawberry ice cream I'd ever eaten in my life. It was like butter. Strawberry butter. We stopped each day for lunch at a pizza place on the colonnade where we bought hot and saucy calzones with the euros jangling in our pockets. My first experience of Nutella was at our hostel, where Nutella and rolls were our daily breakfast fare. Meeting Nutella was a religious experience.

One morning, I had what has gone down in the history books as my "most embarrassing moment" - an easy out whenever this topic comes up. For although the memory doesn't smart anymore, at the time, I was agonizingly embarrassed. Daryl and I went to the bank to get some extra cash. I, with my handy little Rick Steves Italian phrasebook, completed the entire transaction in Italian and was rosy cheeked with smug pleasure. As I headed out, I saw a door with "uscito" written on it - Italian for exit - in green lettering. Green means go. Nevermind that there was another longer word before "uscito" that I didn't quite know.

I pushed out the door. Sirens went off. The whole bank went into lock-down. Apparently that long word before uscito was important. I had tried to go out the emergency exit. The small Italian man from behind the counter came out, splattering Italian all over me and pulsing his hands in the air in exasperation. He picked up a trash can and very loudly...and with feeling...plunked it down in front of the green uscito to keep the stupid Americans from making the same mistake twice.

It took a minute or two to get the alarm turned off and the doors unlocked, and in those two minutes, it felt as if every dark Italian eye turned on me and seared into my skull. When we finally escaped, I wanted to crawl under my hostel bunk bed and die. My rosy cheeks were no longer smug, but humiliated. The mere thought of walking up to any Italian strangers to strike up a conversation was simply too much for me, so Daryl and I spent the afternoon shopping along the streets of Torino with the white Alps towering over us in the distance. So not too shabby a day after all.

My overall impression of Torino was of its beauty. The city oozed romance to me. I realize now that it was simply atmospheric conditions, but it was simply lovely. This zero-humidity Colorado girl had never experienced the beauty of mist. Each morning as we walked down the green hills and passed over the bridge on the river Po, a pink mist hugged the city, making everything soft, friendly and mysterious. The harsh lines of the marble domes and columns were enveloped by the feminine mist of the river. It made me want to recite Italian poems, wear gauze, and eat strawberry gelato. (And move to Italy, of course.)

Next up...Roma!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Donald Duck and the Girl

Mike's many nieces and nephews primarily value him for his high quality Donald Duck impressions. We found out today that Allie is also a Donald Duck fan.

After three days of the grumpity grumps, her laughter was sweet to our ears.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bummers and Blessings

When I was pregnant, they noticed some odd results on the routine lab tests, namely that I had protein and microscopic amounts of blood in my urine. And so after many a prick in the arm, multiple "24-hour urinalyses" (in which I got to carry around my pee in a jug all day), and several visits to the kidney doctor, I was diagnosed with a kind of kidney disease, called IgA Nephropathy. I don't have any symptoms now, but it could or could not lead to kidney failure in 10-20 years. So not the most awesome news ever. But I was reminded of all that I have to be thankful for despite this diagnosis.

  • It was found early - thanks to pregnancy. Had it not been picked up now, it might have only been found when renal failure was close at hand. Thank you, Baby Allie!
  • I'm in one of the lower risk categories for kidney failure, in that I have good blood pressure, normal body weight and I don't drink, smoke or have diabetes.
  • Although my test results are high enough that I'm in the category that should be put on drugs, I'm just low enough that the doctor is OK with me waiting to start medications until I finish breastfeeding. (Although she's going to check in 4 months to make sure my numbers are holding steady.)
  • I live in a place and time in which the condition could be found early and treated, rather than me simply dying one day at age 50 and Mikey crying and wondering why. In the (hopefully) unlikely event that my kidneys do start to fail, dialysis is available...if not palatable.
  • Since I'm waiting at least four months to start medication, I have a chance to see if I can lower my numbers through diet. Studies aren't conclusive, but some show that a low-gluten diet can help. (Perhaps a blessing and a bummer.) I'm going to try it since these are my child-bearing years, after all, and I can't be on medication while with child or nursing.
  • Perhaps I'll suddenly have Cameron Diaz's body through aforementioned diet. (Doubtful.)
  • I'm healthy and symptom-free now. I never want to take for granted that I can run, hop, and skip to my heart's content!

So although it's a bummer that I have this disorder, it reminds me of how many blessings I have!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Allie's New Hobby

This is what Alex does all day long these days.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Diary of a Good Day

January 1st was a good day. Not because of anything extraordinary, but simply the little joys of life and the grace of a new year.

First, baby went to her first communion. She didn't take communion, of course, but she was dressed as if she was going to her QuinceaƱera in the new dress Aunt Tara gave her. She looked even more Hispanic than she usually does. She doesn't look quite sure how she feels about such a fussy dress, but nonetheless, her mother will be relentless in dressing her so.

On a side note, I found that little girl's hair bows that fall out can also snazz up a thirty-something woman. Thanks for the stylish bow, Robin!

After church, we came home and had grilled cheese for lunch, my favorite. I then proceeded to fry brussel sprout leaves in my new deep fryer, my new favorite snack. (But a snack which has unfortunately been banned as my husband is sick and tired of the home smelling like fried brussel sprouts.)

We laid around and read good books. Allie chewed on things, like Sophie.


Then Mike got to hold his daughter while we watched the Harry Potter DVDs we got for Christmas. (Note: This is actually a video of Mike watching Star Wars fan videos with Allie on his lap after he put her to sleep. This is Mike's version of heaven.)


In this new year, I am reminded of grace and a clean start. We start the new year - and we can start every day - clean and forgiven in Christ. And that's awful nice.

Monday, January 2, 2012

You Marry Whom You Marry

Yesterday at church, being that it was the first day of the new year, we had one of our very few topical sermons, which was on planning and goal setting. That's the kind of thing that really gets me going. My parents had me listen to Tony Robbins when I was a teenager, and I guess it's still in my blood. I wanted to run out from the sermon and set huge goals and climb huge mountains. But my husband is a very different person from me. He would prefer to have plugged his ears during the message. It got me to thinking of how you deal with such different approaches to life in marriage and reminded me of one of my mantras in marriage that has been ever so helpful: You marry who you marry. Or rather, "whom" you marry, since this is a grammatically correct blog.

So often in marriage when we come up against someone who is different than us, we can do one of three things: 1) try to change that person, 2) have steam come out of our ears in frustration, 3) realize that we chose to marry the person we chose to marry.

We marry our spouses at the exclusion of every single other person on the planet. No one forced us to marry that particular specimen of the species, and I think we have to take responsibility for what we ended up with. When I married Mike, I knew what I was getting. I knew I wasn't getting a football player or a banker or a Tony Robbins. I knew I was getting a funny, intelligent, laid back dude. And I love those things about my husband. So whenever my husband and I are at odds on a particular subject, I remember the strength that is the complement to whatever personality trait we're dealing with and remember why it is that I love my husband so darn much. And here are just a few examples for you:

I am Tony Robbins, he is island boy. As I said, I love having goals and planning my life. I'm a big planner. I would love to have, as the speaker at church yesterday did, a three-ring binder detailing three goals for each aspect of my life with action points and deadlines attached. But such an idea makes my husband's face turn green. He explained it well to me yesterday: "You know how you feel when you have too many plans on the weekend?" (I hate having lots of social commitments on the weekends, and if I do, I feel a horrible clenching of my esophagus.) "That's how I felt about that sermon today."

Eww! I wouldn't wish that on anyone, and it reminded me of who my husband is and why I love him: He is one of the most laid back, chilled out, stress-free dudes you could meet. Recently someone on our small group asked him, "Does anything ever bother you?" Being that I am easily stressed out, he is my perfect match. If I was married to a Type A dynamo, the two of us would probably run ourselves into early graves. But as it is, I can spur Mike into action when he needs a little kick in the pants, and he can help me just calm down for a gosh-darn minute and enjoy life. I knew this about Mike when I married him, so rather than wishing he was a go-getter slick business Alpha Male, I remember that I chose him because he was a thoughtful and thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable person to be with.

I am impulsive, he is methodical. Have you ever taken the Strengthsfinder test? On that test, I am an "Activator." I want a lot less talk and a lot more action. If I have an idea, I'm going to jump on it like a rabid puppy with a chew toy. Mike, on the other hand, is one of the slowest and most methodical decision makers on the planet. I cannot go grocery shopping with that man. He weighs the pros and cons of each different box of cereal in the football-field sized aisle of cereals, holding two boxes in his hands and looking back and forth from one to the other for 10 minutes.

I am more like Theo Huxtable on the Cosby Show who, when he asked his father if he could take trombone lessons, his father reminded him of all the many, many hobbies he had started and did not finish. Just this summer, I excitedly started taking piano lessons and then stopped out of disinterest after two months. My husband, however, started talking about learning to play the drums about one year ago. He talked about it once or twice and then never brought it up again. Yesterday, he started looking on Craigslist for cheap drumsets. "You're still thinking of playing the drums?" I asked, having assumed he had forgotten the idea and moved on, like I would have seconds after my first show of interest. "Yes, I've been thinking about it for the past year," he answered. If it were up to me, Mike and I probably would have moved to seven different countries by now, held seven different jobs and started learning to play seven different musical instruments. While Mike needs me to get him to take action sometimes, I need him to help me to drop the chew toy in my mouth that I am rabidly slobbering all over. I knew when I married Mike that he wasn't going to be the man to drop everything and move to Uganda with me. Good thing, because I really don't like African food, truth be told.

We are, neither of us, millionaires. One of the first things that drew me to Mike was that he was a philosophy major. I like the thoughtful tortured type. And so I always knew that if I married such a type, I'd have more the Raskolnikov existence than that of an aristocrat's wife. Despite our liberal arts degrees, God has blessed us so much, but we won't be rollin' in it any time soon. But I chose my husband because I loved talking to him, not because I expected trips to Fiji (though I wouldn't mind that). So the next time, I start getting that island feeling, I'll remember instead how much I love my smart, bookish man.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Why I Won't Be Quitting Facebook This Year

'Tis the time once again when we all make renunciations and proclamations and enunciations of the things we will or will not do in this year, the year of the dragon. For the past several years, there have begun to pop up article after article, post after post of people swearing off their beloved social media, such as this recent Relevant article by a young woman giving up Facebook for the year. While I heartily respect those making such commitments based on personal convictions, I want to add my own perspective to the mix. Looking back over my 3 1/2-year relationship with Facebook, I can confidently say that it has brought good into my life, and I look forward to our year ahead together.

Remembering back to my early relationship with Facebook
is funny, but I'm glad all the poking, licking and pet penguins are a thing of the past. And contrary to popular belief, rather than miring me in the minutiae of others' lives or turning me into a social cripple or transforming me into Narcissus, Facebook has connected me with those long lost, awakened my empathy and enlivened my reading.

Here are just a couple of the myths of Facebook that have been proven false in my own experience:

Facebook is a platform for grandstanding and self-involvement: Many think Facebook is rife with possibilities for, on the one hand, bragging, and on the other hand, jealousy. And I suppose it is. But not necessarily so. If all I ever did was think long and hard about my own status and how it would make me sound, a bit (or a lot) of the Narcissus would creep into me. And if I only ever read others' posts as a measuring stick for my own, it would be a vat of jealousy waiting to be jumped into.

But my experience is quite the opposite. The more I read of others' lives, the more I am taken out of my own self-focused mindset. While carelessly surfing the internet and thinking only of frivolity, I am reminded that a friend of mine is on a home-IV for her high-risk pregnancy. I learn that it is a family member's 10th wedding anniversary. I remember that friend who could really use a word of encouragement. If Facebook is rife with opportunities for jealousy and bragging, then it is even more so full of opportunities to empathize, love, support and encourage.

Facebook will socially cripple you and make you withdraw from "real" relationships. Facebook hasn't socially crippled me. (I was already socially crippled!) Rather, it has helped this introverted, shy woman find a venue that is safe and comfortable. Rather than decreasing my "real" relationships, it has increased and deepened them. Perhaps it's sad, but I am simply more comfortable in writing than in person. This is why my husband and I got to know each other over email. Facebook hasn't allowed me to "withdraw" into inauthentic, shallow online relationships, it has given me a place in which I can relate to people in a way in which I feel more able to be open and myself.

In "the good old days" before Facebook, I wasn't engaged in deeper relationships because I didn't have the easy out of online relationships, I was simply still the person I am today, but without a tool that aids me in friendship. When I look at my friendships today versus five years ago, they have multiplied and thrived, rather than shriveling in the "fake" land of Facebook. If you don't need any online tools for friendship, then bully for you! But for me and my fellow awkward introverts, it's great. It's also quite helpful for those of us who are awful at keeping in touch with old friends. And it is no less authentic in keeping in touch with these friends than a letter sent a century ago would have been or a telephone call 50 years ago. New technology, but same old friendship and sentiments.

Facebook is a time suck that prevents us from doing "real" life. This is probably true for some. In my own life, however, I'm a work-at-home mom and Facebook is on many days my only link to the outside world (especially as we currently only have one car and it's too cold to walk outside with a wee babe on many days). The people I "talk" to on Facebook may be the only people I talk to that day, aside from my husband and my own inane cooings at the baby.

Many seem to think that if we weren't spending our time on Facebook, we'd be spending our time baking cookies for neighbors, gardening, keeping a perfect house, and saving drowning puppies. An apt question would be: Did we do all these things before Facebook came along? I did not. Facebook is not my problem. Before there was Facebook, there was the Food Network. Before the Food Network, there were frivolous books. Before frivolous books, there was gazing out the window.

Although for many Facebook can become an over-involved and mindless time suck, for me it actually expands my worldview and my reading. I am challenged by the recommended links and articles of friends of mine from different faiths or worldviews. Sure, I click on my friends' videos of cats falling asleep in their milk, but I also am led to many articles, blogs and videos on current events, faith, and development work that enrich my knowledge and challenge my thinkinng.


Facebook is simply a tool. Like all tools, it can be used for good or bad. As with every new technology, it faces scrutiny based on, perhaps, an idealized memory of what we were like in the good old days. But as for me, it's a link to the outside world during my work-at-home days, a reminder of those who need encouragement, and a resource for great thinking and writing. And so, me and Facebook will remain friends for one more year.