Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wife Rule #120: It's Nice to Share

It's one of those lessons you learn in kindergarten. It makes snack time go so much more smoothly. It makes your mom happy because there's less fighting in the home. It helps people to like you. It even helps you win friends and influence people (just ask the lobbyists).

It's nice to share!

And tonight is one of those nights where the niceness of sharing is on the top of my mind, because I just got back from a very uplifting meeting and I'm floating a little. It's nice to come home in such a mood and grab the hand of my sweetheart and lift her up onto the cloud with me. The view is great up here tonight.

On the other end of the spectrum, we've recently had some more bad news with regard to my dad's cancer. It's nice to have someone to share that with, too. Her shoulders and neck are just the right height that when such tidings sort of drain the life right out of us, we can lean against each other and our heads kind of fit together. We can help to hold each other up when we share the downs.

And when we sat together Monday night with our little flock of five kids and watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the first time together (we recently finished the book), and little 1-year-old Charity decided that instead of watching the movie, she would dance and twirl and look over her shoulder and shrug and flirt a lot, we shared a giggle, and then we shared a laugh.

Sometimes after the kids have gone to bed, and we have diligently denied them dessert (because good parents have to do that sometimes), we share an indulgence of a dish of ice cream. Often when we share this way, we have to get seconds. But we share those too.

And last of all, before (and often after) we turn off the lamps in our bedroom, we share a final wrap-up conversation for the day. It's often the first chance we've really had to talk when the rest of the house is shrouded in silence. It's a great time to decompress, to discuss our kids, our parents, our siblings, our neighbors, and certainly not least, our marriage. We analyze, we plan, and sometimes we share a dream, just a little bit.

It doesn't matter so much what we are sharing; the important part is that we are sharing, at least a little bit, every day. We're both so much richer for it.

You can take that to the bank.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wife Rule #119: Shoot for the Stars

She loves me, and that opens up a universe of opportunity.

We recently got back from three days--three marvelous days--of "roughing it" in the form of camping, cooking, and hiking in the wild, at Arches National Park.

Arches National Park isn't just any dumb old national park, either. It is a technicolor wonderland of sculpted red rock fins and canyons, hidden surprises and treasures, astonishing life eking out an existence under impossible circumstances, and electric blue skies so intense that they could literally cause your brain to blow a fuse if you stare heavenward too long.

And for me, it's absolutely dripping with nostalgia. Arches is a large part of the magic stuff of my childhood memories. It is where Dad used to drive us after he got off work, arriving late into the night when all we could make out were the strange silhouettes of the red rock formations against a backdrop of starry sky. It is where we once got lost in the maze called the Fiery Furnace and had to "escape" by lowering ourselves down cliffs and landing in secret arches in the sandstone fins. It is where I caught my severe case of desert fever, which still tends to flare up every spring and fall. It is where I first learned to love camping and hiking. It is where I concentrate my current efforts to brainwash my children into loving camping and hiking.

And it's working.

My younger sister, her husband, and her toddler accompanied us on this trip. At one point, as she struggled with her very energetic little boy, she pondered the work required for us to lug our family of seven (five children, ages 9 to 1) out here in the sand and rock, and asked my wife, "Why do you keep doing this?"

"If only you knew how much Matt loves this, you would understand," was my wife's simple reply.

Because she loves me.

And I love her, too. I also do inconvenient things to accommodate her needs and wants. We sometimes "go to Arches" for her, in her own way. We have agreed to do this stuff, together. It's just part of the package.

One of my favorite moments this trip was late the second night, after my wife had taken the younger three children to bed in the furnace-equipped trailer (it gets cold in the desert at night). I was sitting with my two older daughters by the last glowing embers of the fire, enjoying the silence and the stars before heading off to our tent. There was no moon during the duration of our trip, which opened the starry heavens above us in a glorious fashion. I can't remember ever seeing the Milky Way so clearly and distinctly before; we could make out individual shapes and features in the visible arm of our galaxy and discuss them together. We saw a number of shooting stars and spent a long while staring upward, relishing in the sights that are only available away from civilization.

I took the opportunity to tell my two daughters of the covenants the Lord made to Abraham and Sarah, that their posterity would be "as the stars of the heaven" (Genesis 22:17). After all, when the Lord made those promises to Abraham, he was most likely sitting under a starry sky much like this one, undiluted by city lights, in the stillness of the desert.

The stars of the heaven: mere billions is a drop in the bucket. The expanse of God's creations, as evidenced by the swirling clouds of light visible tonight, far exceeds the scope of what our minds are capable of comprehending.

This is what He promised to Abraham and his wife. This is what a husband and wife, joined together by God's power, are capable of. Consider the alternatives, I told my young daughters: an eternity of solitude, unattached to loved ones, or a family as great as the stars in the heavens.

My wife and I, after all, love each other. The small choices, like trips to Arches, are evidence enough of that. We're shooting for the stars.