Part of the 30 day challenge series

I’m going to make a guess and then ask appa for his answer.

My guess: That I’m of a cheerier temperament.  He told me before that your grandma always told him he needed to marry someone with a brighter personality.  If you look at our home now, the darker furniture, clean modern decor, and black and white photos are mainly your appa‘s influence (he took the black and white photos himself!).  The spots of bright color — yellow flower here, green wreath there, light birch furniture toward the kitchen side — are mainly my influence.  This doesn’t mean he lacks a silly, lithe side (he has enough for the both of us!) or that I’m never emo (this blog is proof); I’m describing us in broad strokes.

(about 20 minutes later)

His answer: Appa just walked in the door, and I asked him, “What is your favorite thing about me?  What do you love about me?” as I was bouncing on the exercise ball (I use it as my chair).  He said, “That you’re bouncy!”  I thought he was giving me a silly answer.  So he explained, “That you’re resilient.”

“Oh.”

Conclusion: I was wrong.

And a random observation: My answer was a paragraph.  His was two short sentences.

Part of the 30 day challenge series

Ian, this isn’t romantic at all.  The short answer to the question is: I knew your dad was “the one” when we said I do on our wedding day.

I didn’t feel free to say he was “the one” — mine — until then.  I hoped it, I wished it, but I didn’t know with any certainty until then.

Your appa and I both tiptoed into love.  He’s naturally cautious and deliberate in his decisions.  I’m usually more headlong, but I was still reeling from family pain and didn’t want to open my heart to be hurt anymore.  I didn’t want to risk loss anymore.  I really wrestled with the idea of gospel vulnerability during those months.  What am I afraid of?  I belong to Christ.  My security is in Him.  The worst assessment anyone can make of me, my sin, and my baggage has been made on the cross.  All I have is Christ.  What do I fear?

But appa hung in there with me.  We had no cloud nines to float on, only rock solid gospel to walk on.  And it was enough.  It still is. :]

First things first.

January 10, 2013

My first read of the new year was in Revelation 2 (following the chronological reading plan), Christ’s words to the church in Ephesus:

“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.  I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.  But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first … To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

Yes, do good.  Yes, be discerning.  Yes, suffer well.  Yes, be strong.  But not with a heart that slowly becomes cold and lifeless.  Loveless.

To love Him with our chief love.  To love the neighbor He has given us with gospel love.  First things first this year.  This river flows into the ocean of everything else …

I read this bit from Humble Musings the other day.

And.  I’ll leave it at that. :]

My grandmother had alienated our entire family with her rants and opinions. That’s because bad behavior has consequences. (If you abuse the people in your life, you shouldn’t expect a huge crowd at your birthday party.) Everyone close to her had called her out on it, put up boundaries even before there were books about that, and by 80-years-old, everyone was tired of her.

Granny was a broken woman. She fought with the devil from the day her young daughter died in a drunken accident, and then danced with her demons until she died. It made her feisty, though, and I can appreciate that.

I visited my grandmother every other month, and I called her every Tuesday. The truth was, she was an undiagnosed crazy with a capital C. (Or maybe she was just different from me.) Crazy runs in the family. What am I going to do about it? It seemed to me that taking her jabs personally wasn’t an option. She was who she was. After I’d asked her to make peace with God, there was nothing left to do but love her.

It’s possible to view your relationship with another person with grace, when after the dust settles and words are exchanged, you are okay with it being just what it is. That’s hard to do with family and with people we love. Somewhere muddled in that mystery is coming to terms with who you are yourself, certain that your worth is not dependent on another person’s acceptance or rejection of you. If I belong to Christ, is there someone better for whom I am striving to belong to?

We are so broken. Viewing each other through this lens shouldn’t give us a feeling of superiority but of humbleness, knowing that God reached out to us when I did not deserve it or earn it.

Granny was not going to be the kind of grandmother with cupcakes and kisses, and the sooner I was okay with that, the sooner we made our peace. I drew a line in the sand, the one that said, “Don’t rant about how my children shouldn’t have been born when they can hear you. They are too young,” because I had a duty to protect my children. But after that, she could cuss and chain-smoke and do her facist rants to her heart’s content. I just never saw Jesus as a guy who got offended at personal slights and the “f” word.

Even still.

August 11, 2011

God to Adam and Eve — I love you.

Seeking them as they hid from him in shame and guilt — Yes, even still.

Removing their fig leaves and clothing them in garments of skin — I promise.

Love’s first sight.

July 28, 2011

Her Father: I love you.

Her: But … I don’t see it anywhere in my life.

Her Father: Oh?

(Pointing) Child, what do you see there?

Her: The cross.

Her Father: Whose cross, child?

Her: Your Son’s cross, Father.

Her Father: Yes.  Go there, child.  Sit, consider, and don’t hasten to leave.

Her: But why?  I don’t understand.

Her Father: Dear child, if you don’t see My love there first, you won’t see it anywhere else.

Yes.

July 14, 2011

A few weeks ago, over the phone: “What are you doing for 4th of July?  Let’s go biking!”  He wanted to explore the trails by my apartment.  “Okay!” I happily agreed.

I slipped a little walking my bike up the hillside.  He had already reached the trail and set his bike down.  He jogged down the hillside, took my bike from me, and walked it up for me.  I love him.

“Whoa!  Did you see that?” he called back to me.  “No?” I called back.  “A mountain lion just ran up the hill!”  Please God, I prayed.  Don’t let us get mauled on our first bike ride together.  And as he picked up a little speed, I held onto my hat and sped ahead, too.

We approached a chain link fence and slowed to a stop.  “Hmm … they don’t show fences on Google maps …”  And as he puzzled over the map on his phone, I had to smile: he didn’t believe in using the navigation feature; he believed in using his head.  One of the little things I admired about him.  “We could just turn around and go back the way we came,” I suggested.

“Got it?” he asked.  “Yup!”  I lowered his bike the last few inches of the way down.  My bike was already on the other side with our backpacks, and after everything was over the fence, JohnE climbed over (around), too.

My brows furrowed for a second as I puzzled over the scenery.  After riding through an unfamiliar neighborhood, we had reached a park perimetered by a silver wire fence.  And beyond fence and foliage lied a sleeping lake, waves lapping like the rise and fall of a sleeper’s chest.  This looks oddly familiar.  And then, I realized — “Wait, what??  How did we get here??”  I turned to him, half incredulous.  “We’re at Almaden Lake!” I continued. “My hiding place is here!  Did I tell you about it before?  Did you know we’d get here??”  He smiled his quiet, knowing smile.  “Yea.”

“There it is!” I pointed to the weathered, wooden bench.  Still had the old piece of rope tied to one of its posts.  “That was my hiding place!”  Felt like I was walking in a dream.  That lakeward bench was my refuge in high school.  In college.  At every critical point in my life since 9th grade.  I walked my pups there when they were puppies — now, Atom is in his last years of life, and Choco is gone.  I shed many tears on that bench, with my back to the world and no one to witness except lake and geese.  I spent hours reading my Bible and journaling there — sometimes by light of the final rays of the setting sun.  I’ve grieved over the past there.  Sought God in prayer.  Rejoiced.  Gave thanks.  Sorrowed.  Wondered.  Agonized over the confusing male species — haha, or so I thought.  And now, seeing JohnE in that dear old spot was like a kiss between my past and my present (and little did I know, soon my future, too).

I pulled our smooshed sandwiches from my backpack.  Along with our smooshed peaches.  And our smooshed rainbow goldfish crackers.  And we ate lunch, watching ducks disappear and reappear on the water, watching the lake’s rhythmic dance with shadows and blues.  I’d include the fact that kids were screaming and splashing water on one another in the fountains a little ways behind us, but that doesn’t sound like it belongs in a romantic, he-took-her-to-her-old-hiding-spot engagement story, does it?  If it does, you can leave it in.  If not, backspace backspace.  (Hehe.)

“Tia, I made something for you.”  He reached into his backpack.  Is he going to propose?  Or is it a one-year gift?  A one-year scrapbook? He handed me a large book titled Upward and Forward: A Parable.  When I opened it, I found myself looking through windows to images of my past.  And I couldn’t stop the tears.  He took the post I had written in March, Upward and forward, and followed its description from my work, to my old schools, to my childhood home, to my old church … and took photo after photo of all those memory-haunted places.  He’d been to my past.  That meant … everything to me.  In ways I can’t express so freely here.

And there, in my hiding place, the place where I prayed so many times for God to bring me the right man at the right time, God answered my prayer.

JohnE asked me to marry him.

And I looked at the book.  Looked at the lake.  Looked at him.  Looked back at the book.  Looked back at him.  Made sure it was all very real.  Then I ventured a “Ye-es.”  Why the sudden shyness?  Not sure.  Too many dials and knobs on my heart and brain.  Not sure which one turned the shy volume up.

But I said, “Yes.”

Yes, yes, yes!