Different Tastes

The subsequent love challenge sticks I chose from Tim's jar were not so exciting: Do Laundry. Pack my lunch. Make tasty dinners.

1. DO LAUNDRY? You guys. I do laundry daily. I can't stop doing it. I've tried. But I just feel compelled to keep doing it. It's a hamster wheel that I can't seem to get off. So when I read this I laughed out loud. Why would he make this a stick? But then my heart softened because I realized that by writing it on a stick, he was recognizing it as a way he felt I loved him. He was calling out a way I served him already daily. Okay humbled.

My glamorous laundry area in my basement. Keepin' it real ya'll. Side note: I hate my basement's guts. Anyone else's laundry area look this way? Please someone tell me yes!

My glamorous laundry area in my basement. Keepin' it real ya'll. Side note: I hate my basement's guts. Anyone else's laundry area look this way? Please someone tell me yes!

2. Pack my lunch. Easy enough. That was quick and relatively painless and sometimes I just do it now without need of a stick. This is the point isn't it? To see that loving each other extravagantly can be in the smallest and easiest of ways. To not need the love challenge because our hearts are oatmeal enough and shaped enough by God to be considering others better than ourselves.

It's really simple, but Tim really loves when I do this for him. It gives him more time to be with us in the morning.

It's really simple, but Tim really loves when I do this for him. It gives him more time to be with us in the morning.

3. Make tasty dinners. Okay then! This one got me excited. I like to cook! But since I have to do it everyday, it is hard to get motivated to try anything that takes a bunch of dishes, a lot of time, pinterest investigation, library cookbooks, a trip to the grocery store, yada yada. It just doesn't seem so sexy off the food network channel and into real life.  I got myself through all the steps and made it to the first dinner, armed with my buddies Giada de Laurentis and Mario Batali. My Mr. likes Italian so how could this go wrong? 

Some books I picked from the library from which I would "make tasty dinners."

Some books I picked from the library from which I would "make tasty dinners."

I worked really hard shaving parmesan, shaping raw sausage into meatballs, chopping onions, parsley, garlic. I simmered in the pot for a few hours. The kitchen was a mess, and the recovery would be epic, but everything was sizzling according to the correct level of sizzle required. When it came to tasting time, my anticipation had risen to a dangerous peak. Expectations are the worst, aren't they? When I asked how he liked it, he said, "It's okay."

It tasted so good...to me. 

It tasted so good...to me. 

OKAY? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

To which I answered, "Okay" and brewed some good old bitterness inside while I went to clean up the mess of my kitchen and the mess of my heart. Tim had no clue the trap that was wrapped inside that homemade tortellini. It wasn't really about him not appreciating my effort. He did. It just wasn't really a gift for him.

I had tried. I mean really tried. But you know what ingredient I missed? I neglected to ask him what HE wanted in the first place. I ASSUMED he would like what I liked and his idea of tasty was my idea of tasty. So I picked the recipe that I really wanted and was mad at him when he (surprise!) didn't love it like I loved it.

We are so inherently selfish, even when we try to serve others, we serve them the way we want to be served. The Vincent Love Challenge was our way of trying to fix that, of getting into the other one's head so we could serve the other how they really wanted to be served. But this stick was up to interpretation, and of course I interpreted it selfishly. 

I had to apologize and try again. Ask him what he meant by tasty. I hear they call that communication skills. Tim likes the simple stuff.  He didn't really need a fancy cookbook. But a good old batch of my Mom's homemade spaghetti would have done the trick just fine.

Do me a favor and learn from me. Before you put all the effort into a gift, make sure that gift isn't really for yourself. Talk to love of your life and seek to understand what, really, in the name of all tortellini and spaghetti and ravioli and gnocchi, they need from you. Love them the way they need to be loved, not the way you think they should want loved. It's not about you.

Puzzles and Pancake Day

In my upstairs hallway, this framed puzzle sits on the wall and collects dust. If you were a new visitor to my house, you would probably ho and hum past it without a second thought. It would have no significance to you whatsoever. You would have to guess at what story the puzzle is telling, if you understood it was telling a story in the first place.

If the puzzle was in pieces, you may be able to tell a distinct feature or two. Maybe you would see a screwdriver head or a bubble from the foam in the latte. But still you wouldn't be able to interpret any sort of meaning from those features. Not without the rest of the picture.

On the morning of January 16th, 2010, Tim took me out to breakfast to eat the most GINORMOUS pancakes I have ever seen in my life. After we ate, he gave me a love letter in an envelope that also contained some pieces to a puzzle. Throughout the day, we went to several different meaningful locations to us and in each location, he gave me yet another letter and yet another set of puzzle pieces. In each letter, he explained why he thought we were better together than apart, what he saw in me that he loved so much, and how he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. At the end of the day, he gave me a final set of pieces and we sat down to put the puzzle together. One side was a latte heart that I had texted him during in our dating relationship, like a true twitterpated college barista. On the other side was a screwdriver heart that he had sent me back. He had overlaid the hearts in true mechanical engineer style, in a Venn Diagram. They overlapped over a center piece that was missing. He completed the puzzle by placing a piece with a cross in the center of our two hearts. Christ in the center of our overlapping hearts. On top of the cross, he placed an engagement ring and asked me to be his wife. 

The day after we got engaged 2010. 

The day after we got engaged 2010. 

Pancake Day 2014

Pancake Day 2014

Pancake Day 2014

Pancake Day 2014

Every year, we celebrate Pancake Day, January 16th. We take the puzzle off the wall and sneeze at the years accumulated dust. We eat pancakes together next to the framed puzzle and tell each other the story again. We remind each other why we are better together and what God has done through and with our small piece of His Kingdom Puzzle. 

Pancake Day 2015. Our first pancake day as parents! Titus was 5 days old. 

Pancake Day 2015. Our first pancake day as parents! Titus was 5 days old. 

Now if you walked past that puzzle in my house, it would mean something to you. Now you know the whole story.

The Bible is like that. In studying the book, Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin I realized that you can't simply glance at the Bible and expect to know its meaning or be moved by it without knowing the history behind it. You can't simply take out a piece of it and expect it to understand it in full. God wrote us a story. He gave us a puzzle. With each piece, He is pursuing us in love, wooing us to himself, showing us himself. When you know the author of a book, the people and their stories for whom the book was originally intended, the landscape of the place in which they lived, they're historical culture, the type of literature of the book, you will experience the richness and meaning God intends for us as well. You will move from being a spectator to being a character in the story yourself. The puzzle will begin connecting and jumping out at you from the wall. You will be drawn in. God's story will become your story because your story will be enveloped in His. And Christ will be at the center of our overlapping hearts. 

Our most recent Pancake Day, January 16, 2016! 

Our most recent Pancake Day, January 16, 2016! 

Ask "So what's the story behind this?" Get curious. Dig in. You might just discover a love story.