This is a recent photo I snapped of my husband at Penzey Spices in Houston. It's one of his "happiest places on earth," I think. I like it. I like him. Today we are celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary and this photo inspired me to make a list of 23 reasons I would marry this man all over again (in no particular order).
1. He has been part of my life longer and more consistently than anyone not related to me by birth. He knows me well. The good, the bad and the boring parts. He knows it all and he still wants to spend more years with me. It's hard to find that in a person.
2. He loves with a passion and dedication that very few people understand. I don't get it most of the time. He loves deep and he loves wide. Once you are in the folds of his life, he will never, ever, EVER let you go. And that's a good thing. Really.
3. He is strong. Yes, physically, he's great for moving heavy furniture, but also, he's emotionally strong. He's leadership strong. He's headstrong. So when I get to the point and I'm digging my heels in about something, he matches my efforts (or goes stronger) so that there is no possible way I can push him away when all my instincts tell me I must push everything and everyone away -- because sadly, I try to do that in times of stress. He will not budge.
4. He is humble. Ha! Most people who know this man, know that he is really good at pretty much everything -- just ask him! But seriously, if you dig a little deeper and really, really get to know him, you'll learn that he credits all of his abilities, strengths, gifts and talents to God and God alone. He is bold and confident in these things the Lord has blessed Him with, but he is certain of that one thing: it's the LORD who has blessed him with those things.
5. He is forgiving. I've screwed up a lot in my lifetime -- in the course of our marriage -- and he is always first and fastest to forgive me after God does. The same is true for our kids and other people who have wronged him in this life. He is great at extending genuine grace. He loves doing it.
6. He's cute. Okay, so maybe physical appearance isn't an important factor for marriage -- but if I'm going to be looking at someone for the rest of my life... I want to be able to look deep into his blue eyes and see past that crazy, swirly, multi-colored, 42-year-old man beard and remember the adorable teen boy who first caught my eye in all his freckle-faced, neon-yellow ski jacket wearing, fast Mustang driving glory. That boy back then wasn't near the great man he is today -- but he was the spark that ignited the fire. He was the start of something great between us that would grow. That physical attraction is still there all these years later. Because deep down, I'm still that same teen girl who fell in love with that teen boy.
7. He is smart. He has great intelligence and knows encyclopedia volumes of information because his brain just works like that, but most of all, he is just really smart. That is to say, he makes careful decisions and calculates risk, cost and reward before making a move most of the time. I don't worry about a lot of things as much as maybe I should (like our finances), because I know that he is figuring that stuff out all the time. This all leads me to the next point...
8. He is trustworthy. He is. I am the kind of person who struggles to give over trust to people in authority over me. I want to fight for control all the time (ask my parents). I still sometimes do this with my husband -- after years of marriage! However, the fact is, he is trustworthy. I can and DO trust him. Even when I get freaked out over something stupid and start fighting to control things again. I know the truth. Sometimes, I just forget.
9. He makes me laugh. Face it, a lifetime commitment leaves room for a lot of boring days. It's good to have someone beside you who can turn the mundane into the best day ever with just the right sense of humor. A lot of people tell me how funny he is and how he should be a comedian. The stuff they are laughing at usually only barely scratches the surface of his best material -- which only I "get," because it's totally based on our own absurd life experiences. So yeah, he's funny. But you'll notice I barely laugh at the stuff he says that everyone else thinks is hilarious. He's even funnier when I'm his only audience.
10. He listens to me. You've read my blog posts and maybe my Instagram posts -- you know I tend to blather on and on and on. Well, he reads all those, too. But then he opens his ears for me to verbally blather on and on and on some more. The older we get, the better he has gotten at actually hearing me, too. Not just my words -- but my emotions and my insinuations and my deeper meanings. Over time, he's also learned how to gently tell me when he's all listened out and if I need him to hear me, I'd better wait for another time.
11. He is a hard worker. Of course, he will always try to figure out the smartest way to work so that he doesn't have to work quite as hard, but if hard work is called for, he does not shy away from it. He will dig in and do whatever it takes. Always.
12. He is a dreamer. I'll admit it. I don't always appreciate this aspect of him. I'm not very good with hypothetical situations, which is why I do best writing about real life and can't write fiction for the life of me. I have "goals" in life, but I don't ponder them often or discuss or plan for them. They're just out there and whatever. But he wants to talk about and plan for his future goals all. the. time. It's what keeps him working on whatever is going on right now. While I don't understand this need to hope and dream about the future, I do appreciate the fact that it keeps our family on a projected path, moving forward. We are never stagnant. And maybe someday, the Lord will reveal to me the importance of the balance between my focus on here and now and his focus on someday and I'll get it.
13. He is supportive. If there is a way to make my (limited) vision come to pass, he is on board. He is more likely to say YES to any idea I come up with no matter how hair-brained. Even if everything about my idea sounds terrible, he will help me tweak it just so that we can make it work for better or for worse. I mean, sometimes I'm just talking about stuff and then wham! next thing I know, we're doing it. He's like a genie in a bottle sometimes. I wish it and he makes it happen. And maybe "supportive" isn't the word I was looking for exactly. But he's supportive in the traditional sense, too -- like as I go through a bunch of medical craziness and he attends doctor's appointments with me, helps me make hard decisions, deals with insurance and the pharmacy and comforts me as I have bad side effects from new meds.
14. He's got my back. And maybe this is more supportiveness. But basically, when I'm struggling with the kids, he's right there to help us work through the problem. He stands behind me when I make a parenting call even when I don't really understand why I made a particular call in that moment. He builds me up in front of the kids and expects them to treat me respectfully.
15. He is a good dad. I'm glad our kids have him to look up to. He's an excellent male role model for our boys and he sets a high standard for what our girls will hopefully look for in a husband one day. He is patient, loving and generous. He is firm and expects a lot. He loves their mother a lot. He is tender and caring when needed and bold and loud when the situation calls for it. He forgives. He loves. He never gives up on any of us.
16. He is organized. I used to think I was the organized one. Time has really sorted the wheat from the chaff though. I am much more of a free-thinker than I ever knew I could be (in some things) and he prefers order over chaos consistently. Maybe work and life have changed these qualities in us. Motherhood has certainly taught me to live with chaos and to think outside the box and working for a company in leadership roles has certainly required him to be more orderly in nature -- so maybe I was more organized to begin with. But whatever the case -- his organizational skills certainly help our family now. Planning for anything. Keeping the bills paid. Coordinating moves, repairs, deliveries, schedules and whatever. We could not survive on my "organizational" skills -- his are far superior. And much needed.
17. He keeps me alive. I'm laughing as I type that, but it's really true. When left to my own devices, I forget to eat on a regular schedule and I get dehydrated easily. I tend to get lost in thought -- or lengthy blog posts -- and forget to take care of my own basic needs. He knows this about me and regularly checks in to see that I've eaten or fed the kids. He cooks us amazing food and when he's too busy for that, he is the main hunter and gatherer of groceries and meals for the house. He scolds me when I forget to eat, when I don't do better to rest or sleep and when I get sick from forgetting about those things. It's all in love and he is usually the one to help me fix the problems I create for myself, but seriously ... I'm alive because of him mostly.
18. He drives long distances. I like to travel. I enjoy road trips. But I get tired behind the wheel so easily. So he drives. Most of the time. He prefers it this way. I'm okay with that. It's a good partnership. He also commutes to work quite a distance every day so that I can live near the water and not in the city. He's good to me.
19. He is consistent. He kisses me at least twice every day. Once in the morning when he leaves for work. Once in the evening when he comes home. Sometimes I want more kisses than that and if I ask, he'll give them to me. But I can count on those two every day. Even if we're having an argument. That's love.
20. He always tells me he loves me at the end of a phone call. Even when he's at work or around other people who will hear him say it. Sometimes, he's so consistent about this, he accidentally tells the pizza delivery guy he loves him on the phone. See number 9.
21. He wants to spend time with me. There are a lot of days when we don't have a lot of time to spend together. Life gets busy and we have five kids. But he still wants to and makes time for small moments between other stuff like inviting me to run to the store with him or having sushi dates in bed. That means a lot to me.
22. He appreciates my weirdness. Sometimes, he even encourages it and supports it. On the best days, he joins me in it.
23. He is a man of God. I didn't find out whether he truly believed in Jesus Christ until after we were married. I was a starry-eyed teenager, caught up in the romance of it all and I neglected to ask good questions that I teach our kids to ask before they even date someone. He didn't accept Christ until a few years into our marriage. But he's never looked back. He's never given up his faith since. He walks uprightly with the Lord and tries to live in a way that glorifies Him. He is a good example of Jesus to me and to our kids. Not a PERFECT example, but I haven't found anyone better that I'd want as a husband. Not that I'm looking. I am thankful for his example to us every day.