Ode to Caleb

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This past weekend Caleb and I celebrated five years since getting hitched. Five years since the 28 year-long dry spell of singleness ended. Now that’s a reason to celebrate! I have excelled at a few things in my life. Singleness wasn’t one of them. But that’s another story for another day. This seemed like an appropriate time to muse on the past five years of matrimony. Fear not, although we are very happily wed, this is not one of those ‘golden secrets to a happy marriage’ posts. There are a few memories and thoughts that pop out when I consider our shared life so far. So here ya go:

I will NEVER forget the day I discovered that at least half the world did something everyday differently to the way I had always assumed it should be. I can’t even remember how the conversation started, but it was the first year of our marriage, and we were in our bedroom talking about something to do with going to the loo. It may have been the time-old folding vs scrunching debate. I said something about standing to wipe, and Caleb just froze. His eyes went like saucers and he was like, “You stand to wipe?” Then my eyes went like dinner plates and I was like, “You SIT???!!” It. Was. So. Funny. Neither of us could stand. I don’t how long we laughed for, but I would be lying if I said a little bit of wee didn’t come out. (Also, if you didn’t know there are standers and sitters…you’re welcome).

When we first started dating Caleb had a secret he kept from me for months. He was so poor. Like putting petrol in his car with coins poor (and when gas runs at around $8 a gallon, that’s saying something). He had been given a contract at a small church for around 20 hours a week, but part way through they cut his hours in half. So he was like on minimum wage for 10 hours a week. I’ll let you do the math. But I had no idea. He would buy me coffees. He would pay for dinner. He bought me a CD because I mentioned I liked a song. Then the rest of the week he was literally eating rice and soy sauce. To this day it makes me want to cry! It was the sweetest thing, and so true to who I know him to be. He loves it that I had no idea. I’m glad he found another job soon after. Because it would have been challenging dating a guy with scurvy.

One of the most precious photographs I have ever seen is one of Caleb sitting in a hospital corridor in blue scrubs holding our wee Judah just after his birth. Because of the emergency situation, I was under a general anaesthetic and Caleb wasn’t allowed in the theatre. So the first parent to cuddle Judah was Caleb. In the photo, Judah is just staring at his D. I know it sounds a little silly, but I feel so grateful that because I wasn’t able to be there, Caleb was. There’s no one else in this world I would rather have give our kiddo his first cuddles in this life. It was also awesome because when I came around in recovery, Caleb was sitting beside me in scrubs. I have always had a thing about doctors. I’m pretty sure my first words were, “Is that my baby? You look hot…” (Then I ate some McDonalds, which is contraindicated immediately after undergoing surgery. But so worth it.)

Many of you will know about Caleb’s accident, but two years after we were married, and when I was seven weeks pregnant, Caleb got impaled on steel rebar at the building site. That also is a story for another day, but one of the sweetest moments of the whole thing occurred when I was able to visit him in recovery. Caleb was lying in a big room, hooked up to a bunch of machines, and empty except for him and a recovery nurse monitoring his vitals. He was all painted bright pink from the iodine, and there was a metal rod wrapped in plastic lying beside him. Which was so weird. Like who thinks an impalee would want to keep a souvenir of the big day? After we talked for a bit, another medical professional came in and asked the nurse how he was doing. She mentioned that he was holding steady, “Except his tachycardia went up when his wife walked in.” It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy that I can still make his heart race after a lifesaving surgery.

We don’t really fight at all. I’m not holding that up as the gold standard of marriage, we just really aren’t fighters. We discuss things when they need to be discussed, things are sometimes a bit weird or tense, but generally we feel pretty lucky that our personalities seem to just click. We do however have an ongoing thing where we’re very aware of each others hypocrisies. Mostly to do with farting. It amazes me that after five years it is still a thing, but it so is. When I fart, it’s hilarious. Sometimes I just start laughing, and Caleb’s like, “Did you fart?” When he farts it’s as if I’ve been mortally wounded. I’m like, “Babe!! That. Is. DISGUSTING!! Omygosh. GROSS! Open a window. That’s not okay!” He calls me out on my hypocrisy and I’m just like, “I know.” We have this conversation about twice a week.

I think the thing that amazes me most about Caleb, is that he has never tried to change me. I have never met anyone who just accepts me fully and doesn’t try to alter aspects of who I am. In pondering that, I think it’s when we are attempting to get others to meet our needs that we try and get them to be different. We hope other people will fill the gaps in our lives, and when they don’t, we want them to change. I guess Caleb is really secure. And I am so grateful. I’m slowly learning to be more like that too. So here’s to you babe. You’re the best gift to me, and I la you to the moo and back.

Deb xx

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Our House in the Middle of our Street

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I get migraines, which totally sucks. But a wee silver lining is that in my drugged-out post-pain haze I sometimes hear God speak to me really clearly. Once such time was while leading worship at a Getsmart Youth Conference about ten years ago. I was staying at my Auntie’s house in Auckland, and while I lay in bed recovering, I heard God say, “I’m going to give you a house”. It wasn’t an audible voice, but it was the loudest silent voice I’ve ever heard. I was pretty excited and ready for a stranger to waltz up to me with the keys to a brand new house and a story about how the Angel of the Lord came to them in a dream. Of course, as with many things God does, things don’t work out the way we think they will. But He did give us a house…and here’s the cool story:

Our plan upon arriving in the States was to stay with Caleb’s parents for roughly six weeks whilst we hunted for a house to purchase. I had started saving for a house when I was in my early 20s. Due to being extraordinarily single and with no hope on the horizon, I figured I wouldn’t necessarily be able to count on Mr Right to swoop on in with bags of money and a huge property portfolio. As it turns out it was a solid plan; I did meet Mr Right eventually, but he was as poor as the proverbial church mouse when we met (albeit a super hot one). So we had a decent deposit for our house, and a perfect credit score…in New Zealand. Which translated into absolutely zero here. Long story short, we ended up staying with my long-suffering parents-in-law for six months while we waited to build a good enough credit score for a loan.

Once we were finally good to go, the dreaded house hunting process began. The Bend market is pretty hot right now, definitely not as pricey compared to New Zealand’s major cities, but expensive compared to surrounding towns, and very competitive. The first house we looked at was small, on a tiny section, next to a very busy road, and it looked as if it had been decorated by a small well-meaning committee of Grandmothers. But it was in our price range, and it was a bit of a reality check. We concluded that our first home was unlikely to be our dream home, and that significant ideals would have to be laid aside. Not long after that, we got a call from our realtor. He had been chatting with a colleague who asked him if he knew of anyone looking in our price range. She had this house that was on a short sale. A short sale, a misnomer if ever there was one, is like one step away from a bank foreclosed property. It’s basically a precursor to a long and messy process. An investor had put an offer on this property six months previously, and the bank had just decided it was slightly too low. So the investor was going to pull out, and the listing agent said she couldn’t be bothered re-listing the house due to the hundreds of calls she would have to field, given the price.

So, one freezing and dark evening, we armed ourselves with torches and went to check it out. There was something so odd about the house. It felt like a ghost town. So unlived in. And just crazy…like a whole wall in the lounge was a giant mural of tulips. And one room was completely bright pink on one half, and bright blue on the other. And there was a giant jeep mural (badly) painted in another room. And there was a hole just cut out of the wall by the fireplace as a dog-door. So odd. But perfect for us. We wanted a house we could put our own stamp on, but it felt unethical, not to mention unaffordable, to buy a turnkey house and change it just because. We drove away that night and I said to Caleb, “I think that this might be the the house that God has for us.” And he was like, “Same.”

The agent was pretty much sure it was ours if we wanted it. And we did. But then the listing agent got in touch to let us know the dumb news that the bank decided they wanted to put it back out on the open market – they were convinced that they would be able to get much more for it. We were so gutted, and a little disillusioned, but just decided to put our offer in at the price the bank had told the investor. The crazy thing was, the bank accepted our offer like two days later. It was like they’d forgotten they were going to put it back on the market. Which was awesome…for about three hours, until we got the call to say that the investor still hadn’t pulled out. But fret not dear friends, the story ends well. He waited until the very last minute of his contract, then pulled out. The valuation of the house in its current state was $235,000. Our realtor said with a coat of paint it would easily sell for $270,000. And we got it for $212,000.

Friends that visit CANNOT believe we got this house, in this area, for this price. It’s amazing. It’s light, sunny and warm. It has a big yard. It’s right across the road from a massive park. It has views of the mountains from the front yard.

We found out the story of the house from the neighbours soon after moving. It had been empty for 8 years. 8 YEARS! I know that I know that God saved this house for us. And handed it to us on a platter. It’s a total miracle and such a blessing.

So that’s our cool house story. Isn’t it a good one?

Deb xx

Oh Baby!

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Over the past five to six months Caleb and I have been on an unexpected journey; a fertility one. Since we got pregnant immediately, like instantaneously, with Judah, we always joked about having to be careful sneezing around each other in case I got pregnant. It would seem that for now the sneeze-conception danger is low.

I hesitated a wee bit to write about this, mainly because we’re not out of the woods yet, and it appears that most people tend to communicate their struggles in this area after there is a resolution. I totally get that. It’s a private thing, and can be so fraught with emotion, that the thought of more than a handful of people knowing could be really overwhelming. However, I’ve always been a heart-on-sleeve kind of person. And I really am doing okay. If I wasn’t, I don’t think I’d be able to share all this. So here’s the story so far…

We weren’t totally off-base in our high opinion of just how fertile we are; it would appear that the actual making of the babies isn’t a problem. It’s just that my uterus is not being very hospitable right now. It appears that we’ve managed to make at least three teeny-tiny babies that haven’t been able to find a place to rest. So I recently visited an OBGYN. I say that because it’s so much more palatable than the alternative; gyna******st is like Voldemort (he who must not be named). It makes my inner-teenager want to gallop towards the hills with my legs crossed! Anyway, it’s not yet totally clear what’s going on, but we have a plan in place, and there is plenty of hope.

The focus of my blog this week though, is not the nitty gritty of fertility land. It’s the emotional landscape I wish to explore. When I say I’m okay, this of course doesn’t mean that there haven’t been rough days. I had just found out about the latest early miscarriage and I was sitting on the floor admiring Judah’s Duplo tower-truck. And then he just smashed it over my face. So I cried and went back to bed for three hours. Naturally there are going to be days like that. And the days of fevered pregnancy testing, the hope of early positives, the disappointment of ensuing negatives, and the anxious googling to see if it’s possible to get a positive – negative – positive test.

So yes, there have been those days. But the place I stand right now is one of such hope. And genuine joy. I feel like the journey I’ve been on over the last several years, but particularly in the past year, has been one that has solidified my trust in the kindness of Jesus. I read a book for my counselling degree some time ago that has impacted me greatly. The author talks about the many things in life that clamber for the Number One spot in our affections and attentions. Many of which are good and valid things; family, relationships, health, finance, church, kids, work. However, when anything other than the pursuit of Christ takes top spot, things get out of sync with the way God designed life to work.

Through his comforting kindness, I am beginning to see this journey from a more eternal perspective. I was out walking by the canal the other day, and I felt like God spoke to my heart and said, “Deb, I really wanted those babies with me. Thank you for taking care of them.” That may sound a little harsh to some, but it really did change the way I viewed this season. I don’t know about you, but I look at my little Judah, and although he’s definitely my son, he is just so much more God’s son. Our kids are humans that God has placed with us to love and guide and take care of. But they are ultimately his. So are my little babies that we didn’t get to meet. And they are in SUCH a good place!

I’ve also come to realise nothing other than Jesus will provide the satisfaction that my soul longs for. That includes another baby. I really want another child. But I want Christ more. I really do. Because I know he has my best interests at heart. As a result of his overwhelming kindness, I am able to say, for now, that he is at Number One. The cool thing is that he’s promised us another kiddo through a myriad of cool ways. So we really look forward to that. And in the meantime I will continue trying to trust my lovely Saviour, resting in his open hands, and keeping my gaze in his general direction.

Bless you friends,
Deb x