Road Trippin’

 

IMG_20170703_184306Because let’s be honest, the end of a 7 day journey gets pretty trippy.  When you start making up your own idioms.  When a McWrap sounds gourmet compared to your daily diet of peanut butter sandwiches.  When you start playing the alphabet game against yourself — and lose.  You see your spouse’s best dance moves and more corn fields in Minnesota than you ever care to see again.

Life with Luke is certainly a grand adventure–full of braving lightening storms in a tent and hiking in hailstorms.  The endless fields of the Great Plains were the perfect canvas for great planners to paint their future dreams.

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2 for 2

We’re officially clocking in on our second year of marriage today, and I’d give this whole married thing a solid two thumbs up.  So far, we’re 2 for 2 as far as amazing years of marriage go.

After birthdays and Christmas and Valentine’s Day, we both felt like our gift-giving abilities were limited so we’ve made it a tradition (2 years in a row counts as a tradition, right?) to go in on a gift together for our anniversary and pick out something that is edifying to our marriage or brings us closer.

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This year’s gift.  Can you guess what it is? 🙂

I’ll be sharing about the gift we chose this year next week on the blog (some related exciting news coming soon–stay tuned!) but in the meantime, here’s what I’ve learned from last year’s anniversary gift.

His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-Proof Marriage

We thought we had read all the marriage books before we got married, but we were wrong.  This one is my favorite because the author isn’t afraid to deal with the reality of a married relationship.

Central to the book is the concept of a “Love Account” that we each have with everyone else in our lives. When we feel loved, a deposit is made in the account. When we feel hurt, a withdrawal is taken out.  For two budget nerds, this double-entry accounting method of describing a relationship had a great appeal but I understand that it sounds a little too mathematical to some.

These Love Accounts explain why you can be in love with our spouse/significant other but still have an affair with someone else.  You can have two love accounts with lots of deposits each with two different people.  As you can tell by the title, the book then describes how to keep withdrawals to a minimum with your spouse and how to avoid making the wrong kind of deposits in someone’s love account who isn’t.  What I really appreciated about this perspective is that it explains why

(A) trust and love can be eroded but recovered

(B) it’s easy to get stuck in a non-stellar relationship (romantic or otherwise) but not be able to let go if the love deposits are just marginally greater than the love withdrawals.

One of the ways we can make deposits in the right love accounts is by enjoying recreational time together. During the chapter on this need for joint leisure, the author frankly states that if you don’t share any favorite activities, you’ll need to do some brainstorming to find mutually enjoyable hobbies and then ditch your favorites to make time.

We hear about sacrifices in marriages in vague terms, but I loved the bluntness of this author’s approach.  Being married might mean giving up your favorite activities.  And that’s okay.

All this to say, read the book.  Whether you’re married, engaged, dating, or not interested, it’s an insightful look at how we love.  It’s encouraged me to not always insist on my way. It’s also inspired me to be more intentional about finding ways to make those deposits into Luke’s love account.

For a $12 book, I’d say that’s a pretty good ROI.

Onward and Upward

I can’t be my true self around my husband.  I can’t say whatever I want, do whatever I want, or act however I want.

And that’s a really good thing.

Because my true self is selfish and way too worried about schedules and spreadsheets (I would have made an excellent railroad operator).  My true self doesn’t think about the fact that she’s living with another human being who may not want to get dumped on about the day’s littlest details the moment she walks in the door.  My true self has sky-high expectations for her husband’s every word, thought, and action without holding herself to that same standard.  My true self is careless about feelings, quick to offend, and slow to forgive.

So thank goodness that my husband draws out the best in me and challenges me to be my better self instead of my true self.

“But shouldn’t we be able to be vulnerable and open with our spouses?  Shouldn’t our homes be safe places to share our feelings?”

Well, yes.  Of course.  But whether if you’re bound to someone in a marriage covenant or just split a rent check each month; you are no longer an autonomous being.  Our moods and words effect our housemates and spouses.  We should strive to build relationships that encourage truth.  But those beautiful relationships aren’t just the result of throwing all filters out the front door and saying whatever comes to mind.  Sometimes loving your spouse means shutting your mouth.

For me, it means checking my mood when I get home from work. Right before I turn the corner leading towards our studio apartment and right after making a few quick glances into the dark corners of the gardens to make sure our not-so-neighborly skunk isn’t waiting to sabotage me, I think “would I want to greet myself in this mood after a long day’s work?” If the answer is no (and it usually is, because even the best days at work end with a commute in Southern California traffic), then I pause and take a moment to reset my perspective on the day and stop dwelling over the little angsts from the past 8 hours.

My true self still shows up a lot.  I say things that are unkind and worse yet, I really mean them.  I am grateful that my husband and friends continue to shower me with love that appreciates me for where I am but also can see the better me and continually encourages me to become that person.

Meet Luke.

I’ve been waiting a long time to write this.  But it never felt right until today, which is Luke’s birthday.  Today is the perfect excuse to gush about my incredible husband, without having to apologize for it.

I’ve come to realize over the past 525 days that I have married the best man in the world.  I had my suspicions long before we were married, but I think 12,600 hours of observation and empirical evidence seals the deal.

Now you know why I couldn’t write this earlier. Telling the world that I have the best man is natually going to be disappointing to everyone else.  Men like Luke only come once in a generation and since I’ve claimed this one, it’ll likely be another 50-60 years before anyone else has a chance.

There’s not enough room on the Internet to explain each and every thing about Luke that makes him so incredible, so I’ll focus on the most obvious case study: myself.

Since knowing, dating, and marrying Luke, I am so much more myself in so many better ways.  He focuses my natural competitive nature, dislodges deep set insecurities, and keeps this prone-to-take-life-way-too-seriously girl laughing every day.

He’s taught me that it’s okay to slow down and rest while at the same time explemifying a hard work ethic and dedication to one’s responsibilities.

I have a slight allergic reaction to all Christanese but I’ll risk it to say that Luke truly brings me closer to Christ as we learn more about God together.  He’s also slightly allergic to Christianese which is great so I don’t have to worry about any pithy sayings cross-stiched on pillows showing up anytime soon.

Luke has woken up the brave soul inside of me. He’s taught me that life is the greatest adventure (and Hook is one of the best movies of all time) and that I do like a lot of foods that I’d been habitually avoiding for 20+ years.  He inspires me to run faster and lift more and actually stretch after a workout.

Luke is also good for the environment. He’s taught me that recyclying isn’t just for hippies (oops) and was the first in our family to pioneer the capsule closet journey (which in his case, is the same 5 grey t-shirts that he’s had since high school).

Luke has shown me how to be kinder to others, especially store clerks.  In return, I taught him how to avoid eye contact with kiosk people trying to dump lotion on you.

I could keep going, but if you’ve read this far, you’re probably going to have a sugar crash soon from all this syrupy sweet stuff.  It’s not my normal blog fare, but days like today only come once a year.

With a warm heart and cold toes,

Chloe

My 49 Cents

For the first year of dating, my now husband and I communicated almost exclusively through hand-written letters. You might assume that we were separated by a great body of ocean or some other romanticly difficult situation. In reality, we lived on the same campus the size of 3 football fields.

Eventually, we both were connected to cell phones and discovered that e-mail is a valid form of communication. One thing led to another, and now we are married and live in the same house so communicating is a tad faster than the snail mail days.

While it was mildly frustrating at the time, I wouldn’t do have started our relationship any other way. Now, I have multiple shoe boxes full of meaningful letters from my beloved. And I’ve often taken the habit of letter-writing to my other relationships. Just this week, I received a beautiful note from a long-time friend. Writing a note doesn’t take long, but that one made my entire week brighter. Totally worth the 49 cents.

The company I work for is a huge proponent of sending out personal notes to serve one’s customers better. It was the first time I had heard of them being used for professional purposes, but the hundreds of notes and letters that I still cherish are a dust-collecting testament to the fact that the written word is alive and well, and emojis haven’t completely killed all communication.

I love this company’s practice of sending personal notes, even between employees! No better way to start a Monday.

A photo posted by Chloe Sayers (@chloejsayers) on Feb 1, 2016 at 3:43pm PST

 

I was actually in the middle of writing this blog when I came upon this article about Peyton Manning’s habit of writing hand-written notes (verified by comparing his signature on an autographed helmet) to football players and figures who had inspired him over the years–even if they were bitter enemies on the field. If you know me, you know I know nothing about football. But I do know that celebrity sports players don’t have a lot of time, and if Peyton could make space in his schedule to appreciate those around him, so can we.

Hands Free Dinner (2/3)

I promised you all an update on my grand hands-free dinner experiment and I’m glad to report: So far, super easy, super successful. We have a few favorite recipes and not-so-favorite ones but all the meals have been yummy, edible, and best of all–so efficient! There is really not much better than coming home from work with dinner already made. We also invested in a small rice cooker with a delay timer so there is literally nothing else to do but serve yourself some delicious pre-cooked grub.

I also promised some of my more general tips on how to eat good, healthy food on a budget. While making this list, I realized I had too many for just one post so stay tuned! More culinary craftiness to come.

Tip #1: Buy in Bulk. Always.

Whether you’re single, married, or have 10 kids, bulk just makes sense. For those of us in 1455221148.pngthe 2 and under households, this doesn’t mean buying all your fresh produce in bulk. Here are the staples that we’ve found save money and trips to the grocery store –>

The first time you do this, the bill will be upwards of $250. DON’T PANIC. You will only have to replace these items every few months, so the overall bill is significantly less.

Tip #2: Switch convenience for cheapness

What is easier? Opening a can of beans, ready to throw into a soup or soaking them overnight for 10+ hours and then cooking them for another 2-4? Convenience sells which is why I am convinced grocery stores make most of their profit off of individual-serving and pre-made foods. Don’t spend an extra $5 on adorable individual servings. Buy a box of 150 Ziplock sandwich bags, and make your own.

Tip # 3: Say goodbye to snacks and sandwiches

For the BLT lovers out there, this one is hard (I feel your pain). What is lunch without a sandwich? The reality is, deli meat and sliced cheese is costly. And snacks can be pretty pricey simply because they are easy to grab off the shelf in the store and your pantry (see Tip #2). By doubling the size of your dinners to make enough leftovers for the next day, you can have delicious and healthy lunches all week long. The additional cost to make more of a meal you’re already prepping is far less than buying sandwich supplies and snacks.

More to come!

Until then,
Chloe

Game Point

Confessions of a Newlywed: I kept score.2541312.jpg

You’re not supposed to. According to the marriage books and the Bible, love keeps no accounts of who did the dishes last and who most ordinarily plans the meals and who has the longer commute. Yet I continually struggled through the first few months of marriage to not mentally keeping track of these things and feel personally offended when chores weren’t done EVEN THOUGH I WAS CLEARLY AHEAD IN THE IMAGINARY GAME AND HAD MORE POINTS.

And then I got sick. Evidently, camping in 20 degree weather after you’ve been nursing an ear ache and low fever for a month is not a recipe for health. I lay helpless on the couch, coughing, hot and cold, feverish and peevish. And Luke, being more wise and better at listening to marriage books, the Bible, and marriage vows, took care of me and the house, made the food and deep cleaned the kitchen.

All of a sudden, I didn’t want to keep score anymore. I realized I not only wasn’t in the lead but I was losing points rapidly. Keeping score is only fun when you think you’re ahead.

As merciful and kind as Luke was in my hour of need, God is immeasurably more so in our lifetime of inadequacy. Yet I ask Him why He hasn’t delivered on certain things I believe I deserve. I am confused when I don’t see things in my life unfolding the way I imagined, the way I planned for, the way I worked to achieve. Why do I feel this way? I’m keeping score because I think I’m ahead and God owes me something.

The only thing I’ve earned from God is a cup of wrath and suffering. Yet He dumped out that cup on my behalf to save me from myself and my sin. That would be enough. But God continues to amaze me as He takes that cup, now empty of wrath, and fills it with blessings beyond belief. A husband who doesn’t keep score, an apartment, family, good food, friends, a fairy garden, Costco ice cream, warm bread, sunny walks.

So I’ve put away my scorecard for good. In that game, winning is losing.

Loving Better

Since May 15th at 7:00 pm, when I triumphantly handed in my last final of my Junior year, I’ve slept in 8 different beds with 2 more to go before I return to my bright raspberry creamsicle room.

I never expected to stay in (multiple) strangers homes, co-author and self-publish a childrens’ book, go to Boston, or take up kickboxing during this past 3 months span.

Through a series of  conversations, packing up and moving out, getting caught in the rain (always), making friends at the Y, learning how to write (again), learning about what makes a family, Skyping Siberia, and waiting tables at barn weddings, I finally picked up on God’s creative ways of teaching me to love better by:

Loving Myself Less
I’ve always had a surplus of confidence, allowing me to walk into almost any situation with the assumption that I will not only learn quickly the necessary skills to thrive, but that I would come up with a better way of doing things.  Being an intern for HOPE International, an excellently run organization with competent leadership and a vision way beyond my overly confident self, was incredibly humbling and refreshing.  I was valued for my skills but expected to stretch myself and learn from those around me.  Not hard to do, when surrounded by some of the most intelligent and faithful servants of God I have ever had the pleasure of working alongside.
Loving Change More
Even though I’m leaving the summer with more to-do lists than I came in with, I’ve learned that plans not only can change on a dime–they will.  It’s part of life and being able to embrace the unpredictability of not having the world under my control (who knew?) has released me from the impossible burden of always arranging everything just so.
[This book helped immensely.]
Loving Others Better
 
It’s only because I am a mere 4 days from seeing my fiance again that I can say that this summer has been a wonderfully growing experience in learning how to one day (soon!) be a godly wife and in the meantime, love and serve to the best of my ability.  Of course, a month ago, I would have just whined about time zones and distance.  Thank you to all who have showed me examples of Christ-centered marriages and shared their candid advice.   More on this to come.
Loving Life Fully
 
Its a crazy adventure, but it’s worth living.