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Dec 7 2011

Timeless Gifts…Or Seasonal Dish Towels (?)

For the December issue of Family magazine, I wrote about a few traditions Rob and I share as a family at Christmastime. Warning…it gets a little mushy. Enjoy!

Timeless Gifts

…OR Seasonal Dish Towels

Everyone has someone on their Christmas list who has everything they could ever possibly need or want. Maybe their Christmas wish list is so extravagant you know you could never possibly afford to buy them a pony, a new iPhone 4S and the new flat screen TV they have been leaving you hints about – hints taped as notes to the flickering TV you inherited from your in-laws newly refurbished basement.

Everyone knows someone it’s impossible to shop for. My husband’s arms are too long. Well, they are just right for him, but they are too long for any shirt that I have ever bought him. I really can’t buy him clothes. He returns them. Always. Then instead he buys himself a do-it-yourself soda pop maker with 17 varieties of pop you can make yourself.

My mother-in-law sees my need for domestic assistance whenever she comes for a visit, so I get an annual array of festive dish towels for our kitchen. My father-in-law has received about a thousand golf balls over the years, with socks to match.

After the thousandth golf ball purchase, Rob and I stepped back to think for a minute. While on the golfing green, did he feel our love for him radiating from the golden glow of the golf ball as it captured the light of the sunset? Did he feel the warmth we have for him as he snuggled into his new argyle socks? We had to admit to ourselves that he probably didn’t.

We decided to make gift giving personal. We gathered all of the pictures we could find from Rob’s childhood and pieced together a three minute DVD video. The song we chose to go with the photos was “You Are My Sunshine.” Rob’s mom used to sing that to him when he was little.

I was 9 months pregnant with our third daughter at the time, so the family graciously offered to visit our way instead of us having to trudge to Chicago, hopefully avoiding a “No room at the Inn, birth-by-stable situation.”

None of us will ever forget the look of astonishment on Mom and Dad’s faces when we started the DVD for them. They wept, they cried, they sobbed uncontrollably – major score for us and our talent for gift giving. Now, I don’t think they have watched that video since because they can’t quite figure out how to use the DVD menu, but I am sure it is locked away in their memory as the best gift they have ever received (aside from the argyle socks, of course).

That same year, I uploaded, edited and scrapbooked the twenty or so pictures we used in the video for them, so they would have easy access to the pictures and memories if they couldn’t figure out the DVD. They cried at this, too, which led to me spraining my arm from patting myself on the back.

We have really tried to be unconventional in our gift giving. A special tradition between Rob and me is the annual “Christmas Letter.” No, we don’t send it out to a 150 people from our address book. We send one to each other. We began the tradition in 1994, our first Christmas together. The letters are usually pretty mushy. Here are a few bits and pieces from our 18 years together so far. (Warning, serious mush.)

1994

Rob, you are a dreamer. Your dreams inspire me to live life wildly and freely. You have magic inside of you that draws the magic out of me. You inspire me to live radically and on the edge. What more could I ever ask for in a husband …

1997

Michelle, I want to help make your dreams a reality. I want to tell you the truth even when it’s hard. I want to build our family together. I want to always be inseparable. I want to be faithful to you in word, thought, and deed.

We had a lot of time for mush in our five years of marriage before babies. The letters from then till now all have a pervading theme of tiredness, but lots of love and great memories.

1998

Little did we know Christmas last year what would lay ahead of us. We didn’t know we could be stretched so much, hurt so much, or how tired a person could possibly be. Little did we know our hearts would be completely transformed as we watched our precious baby girl be born and turn into a great big smiley face right before our eyes.

And more recently, as we have seen our family develop its own little personality with all the quirks and kinks, uniqueness and joy.

2008

We see our three little girls growing into young women before our eyes. It is a wonderful thing, and suddenly I feel like we are in a new phase with them. No more baby stuff. They can walk on their own, get dressed on their own, I feel like my hands are free for the first time in 10 years!

With this new phase come new blessings and new problems. I’m sure we will learn more than we ever thought possible about raising three young ladies.

It means so much for us to read back through these old letters and reminisce about our lives together way back then up till the present. Quite honestly, I will treasure these letters more than any material gift, except maybe an iPhone 4s, but it’s a close call.

It is easier than ever to throw together a timeless gift that the special people in your life will treasure.  Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

DVD that will inspire elderly family members.

If you don’t know how, ask someone under 18. They could probably teach you in fifty seconds.

Make scrapbooks out of old photos.

Stores like Hobby Lobby are full of scrapbook materials, and there are endless websites that will help you get lots of ideas for really neat scrapbook pages.

Write meaningful letters that are timeless.

Print them on fancy paper and keep them in a special folder. Maybe even handwrite them in cursive, although now that Indiana doesn’t require kids to learn cursive anymore, they might not be able to read it fifty years from now. Maybe add a sidebar translation with block letters and all caps.

Have fun this Christmas. Be creative, thoughtful and timeless with your gifts. You and your loved ones will be so, so glad you did


Mar 12 2011

18 Years of Wedded Bliss

wedding 

I was 19 when Rob and I got married on March 13, 1993. I’ve loved him more and more every day since, although I never knew that could be possible, since my heart was exploding with love for him since I was 16 years old. He’s officially the most awesome guy on the planet, and I am the luckiest girl in the world to be married to him. He gets more handsome to me every day too!

We get to spend some time in our old stomping grounds this weekend in Chicago. We’re going to see the play Shadowlands tonight—the story of C.S. Lewis and his wife Joy. That story has meant the world to us since the year we got married. We couldn’t believe that it was playing in Chicago tonight!

Have a great weekend everyone! I know we will.


Feb 14 2011

The More Things Change…

The more they stay the same.

 

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Rob asked me to be his girlfriend way back on a summer night in 1989.  I held his hand and laughed and laughed all the way home.  It was real joy.  I still hold his hand and laugh today. 

It’s real joy waking up to him every morning, munching our cereal across from each other, cleaning up pools of vomit on our upstairs white carpeting, travelling around the world together, praying together, and trying to make a difference in this world. 

It’s real joy watching him love our girls, encouraging them to be the women of God He has created them to be.  It’s real joy watching him hold their hands as they giggle and laugh as they walk home from the park.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  I’m in love with my Valentine and he loves me. 

Happy Valentines Day everyone!

 

 

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Apr 17 2010

I Was A Lucky Girl In The 80’s

Rob and Jason, Mullets

Gotta love a mullet, a pipe organ, ripped up jeans, and a guitar.  Rob was, and still is my dream boy.

I was a lucky girl in the 80’s, and I still am.


Mar 22 2010

I Answered…

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You all certainly didn’t let me off easy with your questions.  I was talking to Rob last night, and he laughed and  said, “You asked for it!”  Yep, I did.  I hope my answers shed some light on what it is you wanted to know.

 

 

What is the biggest challenge your marriage has ever faced and how did you overcome it together?

I think it was the first year after Isabelle was born.  Belle was hospitalized at 2 months old, and had lots of early delays.  Immediately after she was born, I had some pretty serious complications which required  a few surgeries, and lots of rest.  Having 3 kids under 5 left no time for rest, so it took me a long time to get better.  Quite plainly, we stuck it out together, nothing heroic.   We just did it with all the love and grace we could, and came out stronger in every way on the other end.

 How has your marriage lived up to your expectations of what it would be like 17 years ago, when you were engaged?

We knew that our relationship was exceptional back then.  We got married knowing we were signing up to a life of ministry together, and we were in it for the long haul.  It’s what we were made to do.  We also knew family would be important, and that Jesus was the most important person in our lives.  We’ve grown a ton, but the basics haven’t changed much.

 

What advice would you give a couple considering marriage?

I would say to them that being married is awesome, but it is daily work that you’ve never done before.  It takes practice just like anything.  I would say that you need to go into a marriage realizing that “it’s not all about me”, and figure out ways to be sacrificial and giving to your spouse on a daily basis.  These small things are what keeps a marriage alive.

What advice would you give to a couple who has been married 5 years and has 1 toddler and 2 baby girls?

I’ve never had twins, but I did have 3 kids under 5, and it was the biggest challenge of my life.  Like I said earlier, just do it.  Do it with gladness when you can, but know that Jesus is in the mix with you , and his strength is perfect for the most trying moments.  You might not see that He was there the whole time until you are out on the other side of the craziness, but He’s there.  Just trust that He is.

 In what practical ways do you build hedges around your marriage?

  • We never go anywhere alone with a member of the opposite sex.  Never.
  • We say “I love you”, and “I’m sorry” all the time.
  • We try to go on regular date nights and at least one over night get away every few months
  • We laugh a lot
  • We don’t have any secrets

How are you able to keep your identity and not just be Pastor Rob’s wife?

I could most certainly fill an entire book with the good, the bad, and the ugly of the answer to the “identity” question.  The truth is that there are moments of each, so I’ll answer as honestly as I can:

  • The good:  I have a front row seat on the work God is doing in Granger and around the world.  I’ve been here since 1992, and have watched this movement of God unfold.  I wouldn’t change the past 17 years for anything. 

I’ve never felt pressure to be anything or do anything I’m not comfortable with.  I’ve been allowed to just be me, and everyone is fine with that.  There has always been room in our marriage and in our ministry for me to be who I am.

  • The bad: On the flip side, as the church has grown, there is less of a need for “average” people like me to help with the really exciting stuff.  I used to do drama, teach classes, go to important meetings, etc.  As time has brought a phenomenal amount of people our way, there has been a phenomenal surge in amazingly talented people.  To put it plainly, I feel left out a lot.  Part of my own perception of my identity has been squished because of this.
  • The ugly:  I’ve lost more friends than I can count because of Rob’s job.  It’s strange really. I am not sure of many jobs that make you lose friends faster than being a pastor, or pastor’s wife.  When someone disagrees, they leave or block you out of their lives.  It’s painful, and identity squishing also.
  • The great  With all the change at GCC, I have been able to refine my focus, and sharpen some skills that are important to me, which would be lost if I was doing all I was doing before.  It’s been a bad thing that really has turned great, but it’s still hard every now and then.

 How do you handle being the “neighborhood mom”?

I love it.

 

How have you been able to carve time out just for the two of you and keep the relationship strong with such such great kids?

It’s hard work, and it costs a lot of money.  Getting a babysitter is always a challenge, since we don’t have any family in the area.  Time away is so important for us.  It’s worth adding childcare into the budget to get out on a date together.  We also take advantage of the times when all 3 kids are at school occasionally to go out to coffee and talk.  Next year it will be easier to do this, since all of them will be in school full time.

 If you only had $15.OO to spend and it was date night where or what would you do??

We would probably go for a hike somewhere , then spend the $15.00 at Starbucks.

 Name one thing that you disagree on.

There are no major issues that either of us disagree on.  We get along very well on a day to day basis.  I think it’s the teeny tiny details that we disagree about, like:

  • laundry
  • where to put area rugs
  • where to hang towels
  • I’d rather play now, clean later.  Rob would rather clean now, play later
  • We don’t like the same kinds of movies

We agree on way more than we disagree on, and I think that’s a good thing.


Mar 14 2010

Anniversary Blues

blueman-756904 Rob and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary this past weekend.  Last year we went to Sedona, Arizona for a few days, but this year we decided to save some money and just do a local thing.  We were able to get a room at the Sheraton Towers through Priceline for ridiculously cheap.  We decided to go see Blue Man, since neither of us had ever seen them live.

Right after we got to our seat, the usher came over to us and asked us if we would like to be in the show.  Rob said “yes”, and I immediately felt like I was going to faint.  The usher took us to the very back row, and told us that we were going to be the “late” couple.  We didn’t have many other details, and I prepared myself for anything.

While we were waiting for the show to start, there were funny announcements going across the screen…they had one woman med Cheryl stand up because she had just won the Pulitzer prize.  Another Guy was asked to stand up because he had mapped the human genome.  Everyone had to congratulate them, say funny things to them, etc.  Then it said, “Everyone say Hi to Rob Wegner!  Rob stood up and yelled (we were in the far back row), then the screen said, “…because he its a man of entirely no consequence…he’s pretty ordinary and hasn’t accomplished much…he must be very lonely and sad….everyone say, “We love you Rob to make him feel better”…and it went on and on.  We laughed so hard.

When the time came for us to “walk in late”, they blasted this loud alarm, a sign that said, “YOU’RE LATE” flashed on the screen, they played this “you’re late, you’re late song, the Blue Men stopped what they were doing and glared at us (VERY SCARY!) I was breaking out in hives at this point (for real)…and Rob decided to ham it up and hide behind me so he didn’t get on the screen.  It was both horrifying and hilarious at the same time.  It is the only time in all my years of knowing Rob that he has hidden behind me for anything.  They paid us $10 to do it, so he decided to earn his  money.  People laughed, so it was great.  The Blue Men acted like they were going to launch these balloons filled with some sort of mush at us, and I am really glad they didn’t.  

Once the pressure was off, I really enjoyed the show.  It was so unbelievably creative and fun.  Rob and I went to a little Italian place near the theater afterward and had a great conversation about creativity and innovation.

We had a great 30 hours away, and are so thankful for Rick and Maribeth taking all 3 girls for us so we didn’t have to pay a babysitter.  It was great to know they were having a blast and being spoiled by 2 of their favorite people.

It is so important for Rob and I to get away alone together to celebrate these important milestones.  It was great to talk without being interrupted, go to sleep when we wanted, eat whenever, and sleep in a little. 

Next year we decided we are going to Greece.  Ha!  Just dreaming, but we think it would be amazing.