Everyday Heroes: My Wife

Hi, world.

This is Amanda.

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Amanda is my wife. Amanda is my best friend.

Amanda is my hero.

For SO many reasons.

Amanda is 37 weeks pregnant. She has fourteen pounds of babies growing, squirming, and kicking inside her.

She went to work today.

I’ve told her for weeks that she should take her leave early and just rest.

But that’s not Amanda.

She is always working, always knocking out to-do lists, always hustlin’ to complete the tasks that need to get done.

She is always thinking about others.

Amanda has worked in public schools in Fairfax for the past eight years. She spent seven of those years as a special education teacher. Her passion for those kids was remarkable. She never gave up on them and never judged them by their disabilities.

She’s always treated me the same way.

I have done a lot of dumb stuff, made too many mistakes, told a lot of bad jokes, and I have some weird eccentricities. I have dragged Amanda to two Britney Spears concerts and two Backstreet Boys concerts. We went to WWE Monday Night Raw on the night of our first anniversary.  I have worn silly mini-shorts, every color of pants imaginable, and I spend too much money on sneakers. I make dumb music videos and yell a lot during sporting events.

Despite all that, never once has she judged me, mocked me, or walked ten feet behind me so people wouldn’t know we were together. Being yourself is a critical part of any healthy relationship and Amanda helps make that possible for me. She has helped me become a better man, even if it has taken a lot longer than she probably hoped. She is more than I deserve.

Amanda is my hero.

Bye.

The Mistakes of Marriage

Regrets

It’s almost time for Austin and Madison to make their big debuts.  Although it feels like we should be on month five or six of the pregnancy journey, we’re at Week 37 and only have a few days left.

Honestly, I’m filled with so many different emotions.  I’m infinitely excited, I’m stressed about getting the “IT’S TIME” phone call, I’m humbled that I can be a part of something so wonderful, I’m intimidated by the idea of being a role model for two living creatures, and I feel a fulfillment that I’ve never known before.

However, I also feel sad.

No, I’m not sad that we’re having kids (even though we gave up our Nationals season tickets this year because of the babies).

I’m sad that I didn’t live the last eight years to the fullest. Amanda and I are about to enter a very special season of our lives, but it is a season that will look nothing like the past decade. I’ve been becoming increasingly nostalgic about the “old” days when we ate cheap pasta 3-4 nights a week, spent our evenings watching bad reality television, and got home from work at 5:15pm.  We wandered through an Egyptian desert, hiked through Austria, and lived in Cambodia for two months.  We have a lengthy list of things we loved and appreciated about our 8+ years of childless marriage, but it’s hard not to think of the missed opportunities.  

Regrets

It would be nice to say I lived a life without any regrets, but that’s not true. However, I’ve learned from those mistakes.  After eight years of childless marriage, here’s what I wish I had done differently:

I wish I worked less.

I wish we went out to dinner more.

I wish we spent more money. Saving is great, but saving just for the sake of saving isn’t worth it. Sorry, Dave Ramsey.  #yolo

I wish I studied less in law school.

Although we went to 13 different countries, I still wish we traveled more.  There are few things more important than seeing how the other 6,999,999,999 people on this world live.

I shouldn’t have wasted so much time watching TV.  Especially “Heroes.”  That show was terrible after the first season.

I wish we went on more walks.

I wish we never spent a single second trying to blame each other for our marriage problems.

I wish we prayed together more.

I wish I spent less time looking at my phone.

I wish we didn’t walk ten miles through shady parts of Los Angeles to save $20 on a cab.

I wish we did more DC touristy stuff.

Although I didn’t drink a ton of alcohol, I still wish I drank less.

I wish we adopted a second dog. (No offense, Napoleon.)

I wish we bought a grill.  Both the cooking kind and the sweet rapper mouthpiece.

I wish I cared less about what people think and cared more about what God thinks.

I wish I never made Amanda stay at a $5 hostel in Bangkok that had poop on the wall.

Well, that’s the list.  I’m sure there are more things to add, but my metro ride is coming to an end.  I won’t sit around and wallow about those regrets, but the missed opportunities do make me feel a bit sad.  However, reflecting on such things encourages me to do better during this next stage of life.  And I’ll make sure we splurge on the $10 room next time we go to Thailand.

Evil Strikes Back

Unfortunately, there is evil in our world today.

Sometimes, hope wins. Sometimes, evil strikes back and crushes your hope, love, and peace. Sometimes, you have a snow day and want to make a movie with your Star Wars Legos.

Evil Strikes Back

Enjoy! This is really nerdy…

Second Chances

I turned 31 today.

I thought about writing a post about how I still feel young, but that would be a lie.

I feel old.  My knees pop when I walk. I have to take knockoff Ibuprofen every day to keep the swelling in my ankles down. My favorite drink is sparkling water. I fall asleep by 11pm on weekends if I don’t have any plans. I’m always tired. Gardening excites me. I turn on the radio and I don’t recognize most of the songs playing on the “hip” stations (but I still know all of Deliah’s jams at night). I am constantly reminiscing about the “old” days of AIM, *NSYNC, and answering a telephone and not knowing who was on the other end.

Honestly, some of that stuff makes me sad.  I miss being able to lose five pounds over a weekend.  I miss the late-night shenanigans of college.  I miss TRL.

But, yo, I’m so thankful to be 31. I’m so thankful to be alive. I’m so thankful for my friends, my family, my church, my job, and my Chihuahua. I’m so thankful for Justin Timberlake.

I’m so thankful for second chances.

Just a few years ago, I wanted to give up on God. I wanted to walk away from my marriage. I wanted to quit on my dreams. I was bitter and confused.

Thankfully, I’ve seen each of those areas of my life restored. I’m undeserving of such a gift. I thank God for His limitless grace, my wife for her infinite patience, and my friends and family for their constant encouragement.  I thank Justin for “Mirrors.”

I’m thankful for second chances.

I’m also thankful for all of you who feel inspired to babysit our twins.

Man in the Mirror

I turn 31 next week. (Please don’t feel obligated to buy me a present that costs more than $100. I understand that times are tough.) I’ve spent most of those 31 years hating the way I looked. Shopping in the husky section as a kid sucked. Pool parties and beach days were worse. I wasn’t trying to start a new fashion trend by swimming in the pool while wearing a t-shirt.

Six years ago, I finally got tired of that mess. In early February 2008, I went to the gym and did the stair climber. After twenty sweat-drenched minutes, I died, went to heaven, and swapped stories with Abe Lincoln (FYI – he is Team Edward). Thankfully, God sent me back because someone had to take care of my dog. I went to the gym the next day.

And then the next 50 days too. I lost seventy pounds.

Man in the Mirror

For once in my life, I finally felt good about myself. It’s ridiculous that it took 26 years. It’s tragic that we live in a society that puts so much emphasis on obtaining an unattainable standard of beauty that so many of us walk around feeling like Jabba the Hutt. Social media doesn’t help. You see everyone else at their best, but you don’t see the 12 awkward versions of the photo that weren’t posted or run through an Instagram filter. The constant bombardment of images of perfectly fit and digitally-enhanced celebrities doesn’t help either. Put your shirt back on, Zac Efron!

Losing 70 pounds is one of my proudest accomplishments. However, I still struggle with my weight. Every. Single. Day. It is an albatross around my neck. I’ve gained 20 pounds over the past year. I feel guilty, I feel ashamed, I feel uncomfortable when none of my clothes fit anymore. All my pants have gone from slim fit to barely fit. I refer to myself as “fat” at least once a day. I think it a lot more times than that. I feel weak and worthless after eating that 19th Oreo or 7th slice of pizza. I feel miserable when I repeatedly fail at fitting exercise into a schedule that is packed full of so many other activities. I’m terrified that things will only get worse when the twins are born.

That’s not how we’re meant to live.  I don’t think you can have a healthy relationship with your friends, family, or even God if you don’t have a healthy relationship with yourself. That is still a struggle for me. I don’t know how to overcome it, but I think trying your best, understanding that the standards of beauty set by the media are stupid, and being content with yourself are prerequisites to living a joyful life. I also think it’s important to know that you’re not alone when you struggle with your insecurities.

I’m right there with you.