One time when I was about eight years old, I was outside with my dad when I heard a bird chirp a three-note melody: “tweet-tweet-tweet.” I looked over at my dad and said, “That bird’s singing a song,” and then I imitated it with a whistle — “tweet-tweet-tweet.” My dad’s face warmed; he gave a soft, kind smile; and his eyes twinkled.
It’s two weeks into the national coronavirus meltdown and I’ve got good news: My wife and I still like each other. That’s remarkable, considering the fact that we’re semi-quarantined and living in a world that’s collapsing around us — not to mention being trapped in a house with three kids who think we’re a couple of vending machines. While we’re just as tired of wringing our over-washed hands as anyone else, we’re still managing to stay happily married. I think it has to do with a few things that have kept us in good spirits so far …
The headline was ominous: “School now closed after parent tested positive for coronavirus.” I clicked on it, curious to see which school it was. To my dismay, it was the one where my church meets.
The other night, I was lying in bed feeling anxious about a vexing situation that was out of my control. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. You’re blowing this out of proportion, I told myself, hoping it would help me stop mulling it over. It didn’t.
It was our first year of marriage and Raquel asked the same question she had posed many times before: “Do you want to pray and read some Scripture together tonight?” I said yes, but she knew I didn’t mean it. It wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t want to pray with her. We just had mismatched desires for spiritual intimacy. She wanted extended Bible study and prayer, and she wanted it all of the time. I just wanted to get it over with and go to sleep. She wasn’t having it.
When I was three, I lost part of my dad that I never got back￼. He had a nervous breakdown when the two children from his first marriage died in a small plane crash. My mom told me that after that it was like Dad didn’t want to live anymore.
It was early in the morning in Washington, D.C., and I was driving down Montana Avenue about ten minutes from home. But suddenly, the blue lights of a police cruiser zoomed into the reflection of my review mirror. My stomach dropped. When I pulled over, the officer swerved his car off the road and pulled up behind me. Then he got out, swaggered over to my window, and peered in. “Do you know why I pulled you over?” “I have no idea,” I answered flatly as my heart raced.
One thing I never imagined when I began writing my book was that one of the chapters would be written by someone else. I especially didn’t imagine that my wife, Raquel, would be the person who would write that chapter.
A few years ago, I was on a crowded D.C. Metro car during rush hour when I noticed a young woman do something that caught my attention. She saw a guy at the other end of the car, waved at him and started plowing through the other passengers to get to him.
I have friends who adopted a little girl from another country, and their child has some significant disabilities that require her to wear a brace on her leg. You would think that fitting braces for a child’s leg wouldn’t be a difficult thing, but it has actually been a long process that has been debilitating and painful for her.
Ten years ago today, my first child — only six days old — was sleeping soundly, as was my wife. I was exhausted too, but in the stupor of exhaustion, I decided to start a blog. My baby girl inspired my first blog post: “Six days into fatherhood, my baby teaches me a lesson about marriage.” And in the days, months, and years that followed, I continued sharing stories about discovering God in everyday life. Now, after 575 blog posts, essays, and/or online articles (plus a book!), I’m still writing.
It was a couple of days before Christmas and my wife wanted to go to the mall to do some extra Christmas shopping. I hate shopping — I’ve hated it ever since I was a kid. But that day, there was one store I wanted to go to more than any other.
My wife didn’t know what to expect the first time she met my dad, and I wasn’t sure how to prepare her for it. As I explained to Raquel, “My dad is like — I don’t know — this truck driver preacher who talks to everyone he meets. He’s kind of eccentric.”
This past year was a hard one for my marriage. My wife had to take care of me for a few weeks when I got extremely sick. I completed the final manuscript of the book I’d been working on for over a year (the book, which is about building a happy marriage, required me to rely on her heavily for insights and edits). Then I got a new job, which resulted in us selling one house, buying another, jumping through five temporary living arrangements and restarting our lives.
Most people haven’t had the opportunity to work with the book publishing industry and they don’t know how it works. I’m going to let you in on a secret: There’s a really, really important rule that all first-time authors have to live by (if they want to write another book).