Monday, June 30, 2008

What Goes Around . . .

This morning I had to get up before Monica to go to work, while she slept and relaxed. This is the first time in 4 years that I will have to get up and go to work before Monica on a regular basis. I have to be the one to deal with the alarm clock each and every morning. I think this is supposed to make me feel like more of the provider or something.

If you’re not up to date, Monica’s last day of work was June 20th. Last week we were at camp, so this morning was the first real day of her unemployment. She gets two months to figure out what she really wants to do as well as enjoy life outside of corporate America. I’m really excited for her! This girl is on a mission to find a job she doesn’t have to settle for just because we need money. She’s good at any job she does and usually excels at it, but this time she wants to be doing something she loves and is good at--quite a revolutionary idea!

All you cheapskates and penny pinchers will appreciate this: Since Monica decided to take this leave of absence from the world of work, I decided to enforce the “no accumulation” law. Basically, this law states that while we are only on one income, we are not allowed to accumulate anything—no furniture, no clothes, no decorative items, and no Wii Fit (that one hurts, I may need to rethink this). Yep, we are strictly purchasing perishables only. All violators of this law will be punishable by lectures.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mmmm . . . Cognitive Candy

I was reading the great blog of James Wood and checked out a website he recommended. I now own the Brain Rules book by John Medina and have a great quote for the day: “Physical activity is cognitive candy.”

I don’t know how much you follow brain research, but I an beginning to more and more. As a counselor I am basically just trying to help people rewire their brains. Back to the quote, there is overwhelming evidence that exercise improves brain functioning. In fact, you don’t even have to do a whole lot of exercise. A 20-minute walk a day can make a big difference. Exercise also appears to help alleviate depression (of course, who wants to exercise when they are depressed). So exercise can help you function better cognitively and tighten your rear. Did you ever wonder why runners, apart from the crazy idea to wear the shortest shorts in cold weather, seem to be more on their game?

I highly recommend this book. If talk of evolution offends you and keeps you from seeing the bigger picture, I would encourage you to not read this. It is an easy read and practical. It is not overly-scientific and he is able to relate, regardless of the fact that he is an engineer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Church Camp '08

Monica loves church camp. She went to at least three weeks of church camp every summer growing up. She had many camp boyfriends through the years (I lose count at 10). She has a certain peace about her that only shows up at camp, and I love seeing it. It’s like she’s exactly where she needs to be. Besides that, she now brings her camp boyfriend with her.

Camp is another Incredible Hulk moment for me. I hated church camp growing up. I went 4 times total in my life. One with a friend when I was about 8 or 9. The other three times were with my youth group, and I mainly went on those to please my mom. I was one of those righteous kids who hated church camp because it seemed to be more about hookin’ up than focusing on God. That’s really a lie . . . my real issue was that I wanted to be one of the sought after alpha males, and I couldn’t because my insecurity was out of control. Camp was tough for me.

Church camp is next week! For the first time, I can say that I am really excited about it. I will be a counselor in the oldest boys’ cabin, which means I pretty much get to hang out all week and play cards. Plus, I need a good week off of work because I’m starting to feel the burn-out. This year I have no graduate classes the week right before or after camp, which makes a huge difference. Also, I get paid for being there because I am using vacation time.

This Friday also marks Monica’s last day at work. I wasn’t supposed to blog about it yet, so I won’t say much more (although most people won’t read down this far). What I will say is please don’t ask if she is doing this so she can have a baby, although that seems to be her only culturally acceptable option in life as a woman besides work. Now, if you know of a job that Monica would be great at you can let her know. Here ye this, we are in no way bound to staying in Memphis, or even Tennessee. More on this later when we feel more free to talk about it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

BTW, I Gradu8ed

Well, I’ve had my diploma since December, and being at a small theological seminary means one graduation per year. Really, though, I had an extra $150 and thought I’d love to use it towards graduation expenses. I had the privilege of being in the 50th graduating class at Harding Grad School. The ceremony was ceremonious and Monica, my parents, Monica’s parents, and my sister and brother-in-law were all present. I now have a baby blue tassel. I thought it should be pink since the degree was in counseling, but baby blue will do.

I was not too excited about graduation, and I have always seen graduation as boring and unnecessary. Graduations for me were more for the family than for me. I decided I would try to make this one different. I used this as a big transition marker for me. A master’s degree is a big deal! It marks a big milestone academically, professionally, and personally. As I tell Monica, I now have a license to be her master, as if the Bible didn’t already give me that right! Oh, my religious fundamentalism is just out of control today. In all seriousness, it has been easier to look forward to after looking at graduation as a transition point. Now, some people ask me when I am planning on going to get my Ph. D. My answer is, “It’s going to be awhile, and maybe never.” I am actually pursuing an honorary doctorate. OC gave out two this year--would it hurt to give a third? I wonder if I could find some obscure school on the internet and get one for a small donation.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Claiming Dominion Over Yard Devices

Last night Monica and I tag-teamed the yard. She is an incredible lawn cutter and enjoys mowing, which makes me one of the luckiest men alive. I, however, had the task of starting the weedeater for the first time this year. Now imagine this: Monica peacefully mowing in the backyard whistling with the birds, and behind her the Incredible Hulk in a war with lawn equipment. I could not get this thing started for the life of me, so, as a show of my dominion over the weedeater, I hurled it across the yard. Monica just kept mowing and didn’t see it, nor did she see me repeat this epic battle four more times. I could just imagine one of our neighbors watching us and seeing this angelic wife mowing in peace, while her monster husband hurls lawn equipment across the yard. I finally won the war and ate weeds and edged the driveway, and we all lived happily ever after. . .

Oh, and one more thing. I am declaring my independence from making Monica any more lunches for work, because without fail, she somehow accidentally forgets about it and goes out to eat every time. I spent two whole minutes this morning making a sandwich for her that remains uneaten—how much more does she expect me to do, huh? On our 450 miles of discussion home the other day, she asked me if I remembered her making lunches for me when I worked at ISIS in OKC, and I didn’t remember it, so I guess we’re even.

Monday, June 2, 2008

We Would Drive 500 Miles, and We Would Drive 500 More

Last Wednesday after work we made the 500 mile trek to Edmond to visit Ben's mom after her kidney transplant surgery. We stayed through Sunday and came back home last night. Mom is doing great and is back at home now. She is in pain from the surgery and the anti-rejection meds, as her body is trying to adjust to having a new kidney in it. Please continue to pray that she will heal and the kidney will not be rejected by the body. Mike Fowler, a family friend, donated the kidney—we are so thankful for his willingness to go through this for my mom!

Out of the 500 miles we drove back, we probably talked for 450 of them. Monica was sleeping for the other 50 of them. Car trips can be a dangerous thing in a marriage because you can't get away from the other person without jumping out of a speeding vehicle. We had a good car trip due to a new method we use with each other to relieve tension. Here's how it works: Someone perceives the other one doing or saying something that puts him/her in defense/rejection mode. The other person, tongue-in-cheek, says, "It's not about x, I am rejecting you as a person."? For example, Monica orders a drink with her meal as we're on the road, and she maybe drinks ¼ of it (we call this a kitty sip). I'm frustrated because we just paid $2 for sugar death water and she didn't even drink it. So I sarcastically say something like, "I'm so glad you got that drink, I guess our kids are looking at community college now,"? and she gets quiet and a little defensive and we get in a little struggle. I then say, "I'm not frustrated you got the drink, I am rejecting you!"? We have a little laugh at this absurdity and move on with our lives.

I am not suggesting anyone do this! We do this because we sometimes have a tendency to feel rejected by the other and go into "angry bunny"? mode, even though there was no good reason to feel rejected in the first place. Well, the reason is based on past experiences and the way they've been ingrained in the brain, which causes certain neurons to fire and blah, blah, blah . . . If we are on the way to eat and Monica changes her mind after I've selected the restaurant and I retreat like an angry caveman, a saying like this will bring me back to reality--she just wants to eat somewhere else, it has nothing to do with me! It took us a few years to get to this point.