7 Things I’ve Learned in 7 Years of Marriage (updated)

Ten years ago today Michelle and I stood before family and friends and committed to being life partners. It’s hard to believe how much time has passed and yet, there’s always a newness in our relationship as we keep working on being better individuals, and working through challenges to grow closer and stronger as a couple.

3 years ago I wrote this post and upon revisiting it, a lot of the things I wrote still hold true. But to mark this anniversary I also wanted to add 3 new things I’ve learned from our 10 years of marriage. Here’s the original post with some new thoughts: Continue reading “7 Things I’ve Learned in 7 Years of Marriage (updated)”

Everyday Thanksgiving

givethanks
Wherever you are in the world, whoever you are, as you read this I am hoping that you have something to be thankful for.

Amidst all the things going on in the world, specifically the misguided attention that the media and businesses try to emphasize regarding Thanksgiving and the holiday season in general, I’m asking that we consider this time right now as an opportunity to refocus and intentionally think about what it means to be thankful…before it’s too late. Too late for what?

Loss. Separation. Regret.

In the spirit of the upcoming holidays, in light of the terrible situation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, and reflecting on 20 months of being a volunteer, I’ve realized that if our world is ever going to change for the better, it will have to start with our values. We can start by being more appreciative of what we have at this moment because life can change in an instant. I will be the first to confess that I Continue reading “Everyday Thanksgiving”

Home is wherever I’m with you

In honor of a commercial-free, no-shopping Valentine’s Day, this photo is a self portrait we took on our first ever road trip together. At that point, although we had known each other less than three months, we had already committed to get married some day but just didn’t have the ring yet. We have now been married for three and a half years!

I used the quote “Home is wherever I’m with you” from the song by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros because it seems to characterize our marriage. I don’t know how many different places we’ve lived and visited in the short time we’ve been together so far- probably over a hundred. And today, as I look toward our two years abroad with Peace Corps and the endless possibilities of where we may be in the future, this phrase rings even more true. Even though we may be thousands of miles away from anything or anyone else familiar to us, I will never leave home as long as Jedd is there with me. He truly is my home.

A Toast…

I’m back. After taking a hiatus and feeling a bit silly for being self-conscious for what I assume is random babbling, I have decided that there are things I want to share and that people have a choice to like it, hate it, or not even read it, so why should I care that much. Thanks T for inspiring me to share…

Photo by the Avenna Studios

Michelle and I recently celebrated our two year anniversary(!!) and this summer, a lot of amazing friends are getting married so as you can imagine, I’ve been thinking and reflecting a lot about love and relationships. This is my toast to them…

First of all, I want to tell you both how much Michelle and I love you and will be there when you call, email, tweet, or facebook. Some days, it might take a bit to respond, but we will be there to support you, not just today, but for all the days of your lives together in thought and in prayer.

I wanted to share with you two thoughts- well, really hopes- from my extensive two years of marital experience, wisdom that I hope will be a blessing to you in your marriage. (And please know that I really believe that in all things in life, you discover so much on your own).

The first thing I hope for you is that you live your lives with intentionality. Be intentional. Do what is right, not always what is easy. Lower the toilet seat down for her. Talk about issues that are difficult to talk about instead of easily walking away. Protect your time as a couple and figure out for yourselves what it means to be a couple. Forgive each other for inevitable hurt and sadness you will cause each other. Take time to enjoy each other.

We can easily fall into patterns, belief systems where we feel trapped in a relationship, trapped in regimen and routine, not taking full advantage of the gift of what love really is: freedom. The wedding day is a celebration of your intentional choice to live together, to love each other.

Love is choice. Choose to love. You cannot force anyone to love you and you cannot force yourself to love them. You can choose to love each other. From personal experience, we must also respect each other’s freedom and ability to choose, especially your spouse’s. You must intentionally protect their right to make their own choice for their life and trust that they are considering how their choices impact you, and I hope they will trust you in the same way. Choose to be there for each other. Choose to bring the truth of what you really feel and think to conversations (this one is very important in Michelle and I’s relationship) and choose to learn more about each other and what is important to each other. Remember, no one is forcing you to get married, you are choosing to get married.

Michelle and I hope you have laughter and grace (and plenty of babies or puppies). We hope you know that your family and friends love you both and are cheering for you, thinking and praying for you no matter where life may take you and whatever you may do.

May you live life intentionally and may you choose to love each other every day….

Here’s to the beautiful newly wed couple. Cheers! Banzai! And as Grandpa Shigeme would say, “Now suck’em up” 🙂

Hope for Haiti

I’m in shock. My heart is crushed, and I am deeply saddened.

It’s been about 7 months since our journey to the Haiti we once knew, now forever changed, a Haiti in desperate need of help and hope. You might recall posts from our recent trip about the land, our pictures, our love for the people.

First of all, many thanks to you for your prayers, thoughts, and financial support to organizations like the Red Cross, Mercy Corps, One Days Wages, and of course, our dear friends at Haiti Foundation of Hope. Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti, for the relief work, for those missing loved ones, for the aid workers preparing to travel, and for humility and a way to connect on a humanistic level to those affected by this disaster. There have been many tragedies in our world, yet this one feels so different to me as we think of our friends and the people there, the magnitude of the situation, barely being able to imagine what it’s like down there.

It pains and angers me to read comments that people believe that Haitians somehow deserved this (Read this CNN article about Pat Robertson), that the damage could have been prevented, that we should focus on putting blame on someone or God for the situation. Thankfully, there have been a lot of amazing reflection about this issue (like Donald Miller’s Response) and I am reminded that I do not help the issue by getting angry at others and trying to debate, but instead, I am called to support the relief efforts in anyway possible.

We must use our energy and resource to act and respond to help. I can’t even fathom how people have the audacity to cast away human suffering and need and focus on issues that distract from the true need at hand. I know there are some who can relate to this kind of suffering and tragedy, but for the most of us, we don’t and could never comprehend something to this magnitude.

Imagine sleeping in a building with no steel rebar in it for reinforcement, let alone on something that is kind of mattress. Imagine being one of thousands of homes that are built next to each other, on top of each other. Access to clean water, food, and medical care is scarce. Human waste and trash is hard to remove and transportation to and from your home is either walking or making your way in cramped trucks on rocky pathways that are meant to be roads. There is no stable economy, your country has been hit with several natural disasters, natural resources have been depleted from human action as well as mother nature, and you are too poor to be able to afford to leave and try to make a better life for yourself.

Now sadly, this was just day to day life for the average Haitian. Reality now, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake has just leveled and ravaged this country. All I can think of is, “Why of all places, Haiti?”, especially an earthquake. I read a report about the last major California earthquake and how it caused $20 billion worth of damage and over 80 people were killed. From the reports coming in through the media, tens of thousands have died in the Haitian earthquake and worst yet, aid such as clean water, food, and medicine can’t even make its way on to the island with damaged ports and blocked roads meaning that millions could suffer.

It’s been hard these past couple of days to not feel so saddened, to not feel for so many who have lost loved ones and in many ways the life they’ve known. Yet even in the midst of this chaos, I choose to believe that there is hope for Haiti, I know there is hope for Haiti. If there is a group of people who can endure through hardships, a group of people who know how to survive, and a group of people who will teach us all important lessons about life, it will be the people of Haiti. For many years that have not received the aid and respect they deserve. I hope that in these next couple days, months, and years, we will find a way to come together to work side by side with them to help rebuild their nation and their lives. There is still hope for Haiti.

Here are some pictures I took to get a sense of the buildings that once were, that probably do not exist anymore.

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