Friday, March 11, 2011

Our Common Life

"Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each may be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy." -- The Book of Common Prayer

I read this quote to my husband the other night as we were ending the day. This quote sums up what I love about our marriage, and what I most want our marriage to be. A few glimpses into our "common life:"

On my birthday, I got a pedicure. My husband drove me to the spa of my choice, and walked me in. He's not the kind of guy who has a whole lot of experience with such places. It was like taking him to another planet! We walked in the door (keep in mind this is a super-nice place) and he immediately grabs his nose and says "Oh my GOD it stinks in here!" I started cracking up. Then he says "It smells like that stuff Mackenzie uses!" (This is proof positive how badly my pedicure was needed, seeing as how he didn't even REALIZE that I own any acetone product at all.) He sat through the toxic fumes, got me all checked in, and didn't even freak out or run away when the spa employee came over to us and said "Two pedicures?" (We were the only two in the waiting area.) He saw me settle in the chair, kissed me goodbye and went to pick up the kids from school.

This afternoon we ran some errands. With kids in tow, our tasks involved getting everyone in and out of the car, stroller, seat belts, etc. There is no verbal exchange, just a smooth operation as if we were only one person. I lay the baby down in the back and a diaper appears in my hand. He buckles the car seat straps and I fold the stroller. I love being part of a team.

On our back patio, there is a bench swing. Dwayne bought it for me for Christmas. That swing is quickly becoming our favorite place to hash things out. Whether it's a disagreement that we are negotiating through, or brainstorming a solution to some difficulty we are facing, or laughing over something crazy that's happened, we can often be found on that swing talking it over.

Last week, we walked a few miles as a family. We set out from the house with the stroller and the kids. Levi scooted ahead on his scooter. Mackenzie kept her own pace as she walked and texted friends simultaneously. Dwayne fell in step beside me. There's something about the way he stands next to me, something about having him beside me that makes everything right with my world.

The other day, he had a day off and helped me with the morning rush to get out the door. Usually he's long gone before the kids wake up, so I do the morning routine on my own. It was nice having him there in the morning. I'm shepherding everyone out the door, making sure no one forgot a lunch or a folder, and checking to see if I have enough diapers in the diaper bag. He stands by the door with the baby in the car seat and I slip my sunglasses on as I step outside. He grins at me and tells me I look like a movie star, and in that moment, with his eyes smiling down at me, I feel like one, too.

Sometimes we argue. We're both pretty strongwilled people and I worry that we're loud enough to wake up the kids. However, sometimes we laugh so much I worry that we're loud enough to wake up the kids.

We've made it through a long distance courtship, a surprising and very dangerous pregnancy, serious financial craziness, moving, figuring out step-parenting, figuring out how to practice our faith together, and there are plenty of other things we're still hammering out. It's all part of our common life... all it's joy, it's laughter, it's fun, it's sadness, it's frustration, it's crazy pace... is ours to share together.

"...a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy." With God's grace we are becoming all these things to each other. There's nothing I want more than just this common life.

Thursday, March 03, 2011


I walked through the living room at work today. One of our residents stopped me. She's from Cuba and sometimes has difficulty finding the English word that suits what she wants to say.

She took my hand and looked up at me. "You look so... I mean you are so... (gesturing toward my general person) You are always so... EFFECTIVE!"

I'm grinning ear to ear as I write this. Unexpected remarks such as this always make me think. I've been called pretty before, or kind. I get the occasional "You're losing weight, aren't you?" or "Love your hair!" But "You are always so EFFECTIVE." takes the cake. Perhaps it's what she meant, and perhaps she was reaching for something else, but I don't care.

If there's one thing I want to be, it's EFFECTIVE.

This has thoroughly, completely made my day!

Why I Love Old Ladies

Today, I did a talk for a small group of older women. Since it's Mardi Gras, I thought the appropriate thing to do would be to bring a King Cake to share with the group. So I stopped at LaLouisianne, my personal fave in the King Cake department, and purchased a cream cheese filled masterpiece. This King Cake, unlike some others, has no hole in the middle. It's chock full of gooey cream cheese filling, iced with a creamy white icing and covered in fluffy purple, green, and gold sugar.
(Yes. The sugar is fluffy. It's amazing.)

I was about to begin my talk, and I asked "Shall we talk first and then eat, or eat first and then talk?" The immediate reply was: "Eat first, honey!" Not one to argue with that, I started cutting the cake. I cut large slices, since there were only about 13 in the group and I didn't intend to leave with cake. The room immediately went into action. Soft, wrinkly, yet able hands passed around napkins and cake. Everyone participated in the distribution, and everyone jumped right in on eating her piece. They declared in agreement with me, that this was indeed the BEST King Cake there is.

As they buzzed around the room and exclaimed over the cake, I had an epiphany. I noticed to myself that not ONE person had anything to say about the calorie count of the cake. Nobody said "Oh, not me! I couldn't POSSIBLY have a piece, it's not on my diet!" Nobody said, "I'm too fat to eat that." Nobody even said (my own pet peeve of dessert rejection phrases) "That's TOO SWEET for me!" (preposterous!!!)

These ladies, the youngest in her mid sixties, thoroughly enjoyed the cake AND (so they said) the talk. I thoroughly enjoyed their enjoyment. No pretense. No feigning a lack of desire for the deliciousness of that King Cake. No worries about the waistline or even worse, worries about LOOKING worried about the waistline. (You ladies KNOW what I'm talking about.... and YES I said it out loud.)

This kind of abandon is rare among women my age, and sadly among believers in general. But for that shining moment, they indulged, I enjoyed... and I really believe.....

God smiled.

THAT, my friends, is why I love old ladies.