I was at a holiday party talking with a friend when I overheard a woman behind me say the name of my wife in a conversation. I naturally started listening in and then realized that the woman, a friendly acquaintance, was talking about Raquel’s ethnicity. “I’ll tell you what,” said the woman snidely with a laugh, “she looks like a Mexican if you ask me!” (Raquel is Puerto Rican).
When my wife and I stood at the altar and promised to love each other “for better or worse,” we had no idea how much of the “worse” times we would go through. In each of our 12 years of marriage, there’s been some major, stressful event that has rattled my wife and me. It’s gotten so predictable that we’ve come to expect it.
I put the phone down and walked out of the room. A friend had just called and shared some horrible news he had received about a beloved family member (I’m not going to share any of the details here). “Raquel, can you come in here?” I called down the hallway.
I was five years old when I walked into my mother’s bedroom and told her I wanted to give my life to Christ. We got down on our knees beside the bed and I asked Jesus into my heart. After that, I proudly told everyone that Jesus had saved me, but my pride slowly diminished over the years.
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.