Category: love and marriage

the village it takes

In this past week, I have come to newly appreciate some of the existing friendships in my life. First of all, there are a handful of special people with whom I have somehow grown closer since we moved away. How is that possible? I give some credit to the constant touchstone of technology, for allowing us to share instantaneous photos & videos, random texted moments, and any-time-of-day deep thoughts. Hallelujah for these people.

And then, just when I give up on making new friends or deepening friendships (I know it’s stupid, but we all have our stupid places where we go), God surprises me with crazy-enlightening conversations, surprising encounters, and total familiarity with brand new people.

I love it all. I love you, ‘my people.’

And I guess there is no better time than an anniversary weekend to count some blessings…

It took a team of 4 sets of babysitters to allow us to get away for 2 nights, not counting the 2 sets who would have if Randa had not been diagnosed with the flu the day before I left (to meet Rod, who was already in Columbia waiting for me, as we’d planned back in December. Ah…plans…).

I often miss and lament the presence of my parents in our geographical lives. This weekend, I was blessed with the older siblings, the surrogate grandma, the surrogate auntie…we are so blessed.

usSo shout-out to Paige, Josh, Kirsten, Sue, Rebekah, Tanja, and Katnetra for loving our littles enough to babysit them (or volunteer to until Randa got the Bug)…so I could be with my favorite person in the world. Thanks for not only administering medicine and cheese and sugar, but sending us pictures of the smiles you put on Randa & KK’s faces!

During our weekend away, we enjoyed seeing Les Mis for the 6th time together (and my 8th overall) at Columbia’s Koger Center For the Performing Arts. Please do not get me started on the scrawny (but well-voiced) Valjean, or the obstructed view (a letter is being written). Anyway, it was fun watching Paige see it on stage for the first time, and hearing one of the best written lines ever never gets old (wait until the end).

On Saturday, we did a glorious bunch of nothing most of the day. I will only disclose that both Superman and Superman II were on the hotel’s HBO, and Christopher Reeve’s earnest but pretty terrible acting and sweet, little curl do stand the test of time.

Oh, and Ruth’s Chris still has the best steaks anywhere!

I will wax sentimental and sappy all week long about our “first” 10th anniversary (Annual disclaimer for new friends and readers: we were married in March 2003 and had our big wedding in August 2003, and we celebrate both because we love celebrating!) I often joke that no one makes me laugh like *I* do, but no one gives me joy like he does! He, as well as this family he gave me, gives life to my favorite line penned by Victor Hugo, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Amen.

PS: If you care about bloggy sorts of things, I have finally updated my “about me” page. A good time was had by all.


When stuff got real {and in health, part 2}

(part one is here)

IMG_1122The human condition (I assume. Maybe it’s an American condition? A Christian condition?) means we can make ourselves feel guilty for everything. Sure, my husband is in the hospital and we don’t know what is wrong, but it could be worse. I thought of the wife from a popular southern gospel group, who has spent more than a month at her husband’s side after a stroke and complications. I thought of my friend Kelli, who spent weeks by her son’s bedside in a different state, with her teenage daughter, new home, and fairly new husband left behind. It can always be crazier, more complicated, more serious.

But to me, Rod being on major IV nutrients for 36 hours, and then being told one of his levels had gone back down, felt serious. In fact, I think of that moment as when, er, “Shtuff got real.” Because moments before, in the quiet, early-morning moments before visitors and phones, Rod pledged he was coming home that day, Friday. And even though we both played it brave, it wouldn’t make sense for him to come home if things weren’t doing what they were supposed to do.

And meanwhile, life had to go on. I had no sitter for KK on Friday. There were some floors that desperately needed sweeping and clothes that were piling up.  There was a very special project at work that also involved “the human condition” (a formerly homeless lady we’d ‘adopted’ was moving into her apartment, and I was already a day late with linens and dishes and things…) that had to be cared for. A friend of mine had received disturbing news, and for that, the world needed to stop for a moment. A single mama at church had a scary situation with her baby in the ER of the same hospital, and no one cries alone in my presence. Another friend had a miracle take place on an operating table, and that needed to be celebrated. And on. As much as I wanted the whole world to stop because mine felt like it was imploding a little bit, I couldn’t. Couldn’t cry. Couldn’t really hug my husband. Couldn’t stop being a grown-up.

That turned out to be the best thing.

The details of Friday, of the whole experience, still unfurl slowly in my head. The summary is that I left Rod at 11am for a full day of Life Stuff, and the more I wanted to head back to him, the more delayed I was. The more I wanted my head to be quiet, the more people reached out (which my heart longs for… and here it was, happening. People in 10 states praying for him. I became a one-woman Rod Burton PR Firm… again! :) The more I longed for things to be resolved, the more out of control they felt (’tis why, inexplicably, in the middle of that crazy day, I swept all my floors and did a load of laundry. That, I could control).

Meanwhile, Rod wasn’t alone. Paige visited…our elder pastors..our friend and his son. The nurses were excellent. The phone calls and texts were abundant (even though he was still being covert about his stay). And then, by the time I drove through Taco Bell with the girls and headed back to the hospital, he had a diagnosis.

It happened without me there to listen, without me there to Google, without me there to hold his hand. We had an answer: Celiac disease. One quick read answered a dozen questions from the last few years, and a weekend of reading has answered countlesss more. The more we know, the more empowered we feel, the his history makes sense to us.

room 204Friday night, when all else was said and done, I sat next to my husband, my best friend, my love, in that teeny and kind of awful hospital bed, and after two pretty sleepless nights, he leaned against my shoulder and fell almost immediately to sleep. That is who we are and that is how we do things, and I know it makes me sound like a high school girl to be all “I just want to be with him,” but I just want to be with him, especially when he is vulnerable. That’s our love story. We do this crazy life together, and we are both better for it.

Rod left the hospital Saturday afternoon, not quite 72 hours after entering. I had left him to shower while I went to buy gluten-free bread and Bisquick (thank you, Kroger), and pick up the girls (thank you, Somalia!). By the time I returned, he was dressed in his Kentucky blue, holding his bags, and waiting in the sunshine for us. We made a few calls, put our phones away, and spent most of the remainder of the weekend resting, reading, snacking on gluten-free food (exotic stuff, like fruit!), and generally being thankful for home and health.

There are a hundred themes that this experience has touched in my life. Fear… control… responsibility… marital love… parental love… the fact that I am my parents’ daughter no matter how old or far away I am… the fact that I married a man 13 years older than me… the fact that some friends are friends who call themselves friends and some friends are there in the trenches…faith, trust, reliance on God – not just for my own peace, but for my husband’s life and my family’s wholeness.

I don’t know that there is any one place where I was supposed to “arrive” through this experience. I do know that some things that seemed challenging before, now seem just fine; in particular, eating healthier and weaning myself from my Internet/iPhone addiction. I know that when the chips are down, it is not just a handful of other people who hold us together: it is God, working through me, The Wife, The Mama, of this beautiful family that was made by His grace! And this family is what God gave me to”do.” It is what I will focus my thoughts on. It is what I am so incredibly thankful for.

GF-welcomeThank you to everyone who called, prayed, cared, visited, and also, to those who have already begun sharing your stories!


and in health {part one}

and in healthWritten late night on Wednesday, March 6, 2013

There are certain occurrences that make me want to run home… to Chicago… even after nearly 2 years and an internal voice that often whispers, This is home. But sometimes, things happen there… momentous things… like a baby is born to a sister, or best friend breaks her foot and needs help for 6 weeks, or a gramma goes into the hospital, or there’s a retirement party, or someone is moving away to a place I may not ever get to visit, or any other of a dozen (a hundred?) things.

And sometimes, things happen here, and I find myself caught off guard because it is still new, because even though this is home, the natural, instinctive reactions I might have had to a circumstance 2 years ago do not yet exist in this version of our life.

It happened this week. It was a simple phone call… well, two really. One came in the late morning, when Rod said, “I have to go have my blood work done again.” He’d finally gone for the check-up we’ve all been nagging him about for three years, as his weight, energy, and strength have dropped. His doctor identified a level that was so low she thought it must have been a lab error. So he went back to the lab, and I went to Google. As soon as I started reading symptoms, I knew it was not a misread. I just knew. (“I knew like you know about a good melon.” {When Harry Met Sally}) But Rod went about his day, taking care of business and even pausing to buy me an anniversary present, two weeks early. So after a hectic work day, I got home, prepared food for the girls and snacks for our Wednesday night church classes, and forged ahead.

Then another call came, the one I’d talked myself out of expecting. Rod confirmed: he had to check into the hospital to be dosed with calcium and tested for causes of his dangerous shortage.

And I was gripped with panic. And tears. And, “Oh my Lord, how do I manage all these pieces?” Because I wanted to be with my husband, but I have little girls, and big kids with jobs, and friends with jobs and kids of their own, and another friend who’d had surgery earlier that day, and my MOM AND DAD ARE A THOUSAND MILES AWAY!

Cue the goodness… knowing who to tell was key. Rod did not want grand announcements and fussiness.(No church phone tree, no Facebook). I texted my co-workers. How awesome for me that they are pastors and friends as well? The prayers were immediate, as was the support. A few key people in town were contacted, ones who had the right words (‘Pack a phone charger!’ among them). A few others were contacted with the no-holds-barred I am panicking. Please help! I had a good cry while I ‘got stuff ready’ and then got over it. Because we have to.

Paige, the Glue, Paige, our daughter, who is always there for us, was there for us, was there for her sisters. And a steady stream of people offered their presence. And some others offered scriptures (Hi, Psalm 139). And Rod’s boss… who lives 4 hours away… offered delivered meals and lawn service (I have yet to meet this man, but I love him).

We are blessed. In good times and bad, lean times and plentiful, sickness and health. There is honestly nothing that derails me more than my husband being unwell. Even in this case, when he feels fine, having him away from me physically, and in the emotional sense that automatically seems to accompany it, is sucky to the core. I hate when *I* can’t take care of everything he needs. I hate when he is in a place I can’t reach. And quite honestly, even though I am all Woman… Hear Me Roar, when it comes to our marriage and our family, I don’t like being the strong one. It is his place, and he is really, really good at it.

When he is away for work, I have learned to embrace the quiet of nights after the girls are asleep. Music or videos play on my little tablet, lights are dimmer, and I enjoy the silence. With him in the hospital, i want brightness and noise and distractions. I want not to be lulled asleep by soft glows or mellow tunes, but pounded into unconsciousness by sensory-overload. I want him back where he belongs.

To be continued.

Yep. We love us.

I am not a marriage expert.

But I am an expert on my marriage.

(I may have said here that before)…

Rod and I have been best friends for a long time now… almost, as I like to remind him, half of my life. In just 2 months, we’ll have been married for 10 years. And in those years, we have packed in a whole lot of living. Sometimes I feel like time has been compressed in a 2-for-one deal. Having little kids and big kids, crazy whirlwind career-changes, and of course, the big move and all that followed, have rocked our world time and time again… sometimes in a rock-n-roll fun kind of way, sometimes in a “Gee, we’re between a rock and a hard place with big old boulders hanging by a thread over us” kind of way.

And yet…

Rod travels a lot for work, and since my job pace has slowed, he’s been wanting me to make a little trip with him. The wedding of 2 of our friends this past weekend allowed us to do that. It took some planning, and 3 cars eventually going about 3 hours from home, but it was so worth it.

We excitedly reunited in the hotel lobby.

We ate pretty, pretty grown-up food:


And then, we actually skipped going to a movie (one of our favorite things), for which we had gift cards (another of our favorite things), to go back to the hotel, lounge around, and watch “old” movies on cable (and by old, I do not mean black-and-white, groomed eyebrows and cool cigars. I mean Twister).

It was fabulous.

We talked about the kids only a tiny bit and work only a tiny bit. We talked about some plans for the year, some friends and what they’re going through (we love you, D-Js!), and we talked about the fact that even though every other day something makes me wish we could have one more baby, it’s awfully nice to have time for Just The Two Of Us.

’cause you know? We love us.

I’m really grateful we have a daughter we can trust with her little sisters~

our pretty girls

~ and have been able to for several years, so that we can steal away… be it for an hour or 24, to get time together. And I am really thankful that even though Rod often has a very imperfect wife, who is 30 pounds heavier and about 30,000 nerves shorter than that girl he married, he still sees how much I love him. He sees me trying to be my best not just for me, God, and our kids, but especially for him (there is absolutely still a hair-fluff and a lipstick-refresh when I am about to see him). And during this particular season of time, I want to say to every wife I know… that if you are having a rocky time, an uncertain time, a difficult time connecting: let your husband know you appreciate him. He might not ever ask for it, but everyone needs it.

This guy? As my sweet Gramma says, he is a “good man.” To me, he is the best.




Is it better than the Bahamas?

Seven years ago this weekend, to celebrate the end of my student teaching and completion of my college degree, Rod took me to Nassau, Bahamas.

It was an unprecedented move, that weekend of paradise in December. We lounged in hammocks and didn’t wear shoes and ate at the buffet and drank at the ‘adult slushie’ machine (well, one of us did). And at one point, while floating in tubes on the private beach, we decided we would do this, the first weekend of every December.

During the first weekend of the following December, Miranda was exactly 2 weeks old and Rod was returning to gospel music. And the story goes on.

Today, on our last full day of vacation, the girls had just done something adorable or hilarious…

And I made some sappy comment to Rod about “what did we do before they came along?” and he answered, “We went to the Bahamas.

Minutes later, they were doing something disobedient or irritating, and he said:
THIS is better than the Bahamas? And I snapped the above photo.

And..honey… I still think YES, but I’d be happy to accompany you to Nassau (or perhaps to Disney Aluani) in December 2025ish….