Category Archives: Faith

Sixty One Years of Inspiration

Sixty one years.  That’s how long my grandparents have been married.

Sixty one.

That’s why when Katy Widrick asked, “What does inspirational really mean?” I thought of them instantly.

Sure, triathletes and marathoners and Ironmen are inspirational.  But anyone who is or has been married will tell you that sixty one years of marriage is like running a marathon every weekend every single year.  It takes hard work, dedication, and commitment.  Lots of times, you wake up and think, “Why did I sign up for this?”  Sometimes it leaves you exhausted.  There are even times you wonder how you could possibly keep going.  But you do.  And throughout it all, there are amazing moments that make it all worth it.  The ones where you realize that you couldn’t possibly have it any other way.

We'll catch up to them in 58 years. (Photo: Becky Hill Photography)

My grandparents joke that the reason they have lasted so long is “whoever left had to take the kids.”  (They have seven children.)  Having spent years watching them interact, I can tell you with certainty that this is not the case.

I have never seen a more selfless woman than my grandmother.  She dotes on people with affection, kindness, and generosity.  It is all straight from the heart.  She goes out of her way to make sure all of her children and grandchildren know they are loved.  (And all equally, of course.)  I remember sleeping over at their house as a child and mentioning to my grandma that I wanted cereal for breakfast.  When I woke up, every kind of cereal they had was neatly displayed on the kitchen table, bowl and spoon waiting for me beside them.  If doting on her loved ones ever gets old or tiresome, she never lets it show.  My grandmother definitely shows her love through acts of service.

My grandfather is a proud, mostly serious German man.  He values his family and the family name is important to him.  As he ages, I have seen him become more expressive with his emotions.  But as long as I’ve known him, his love for my grandma has been clear.  His eyes light up when she walks into a room.  When he tells the story of how they met, his whole face lights up. His smile is from ear to ear as he animatedly shares that he was so ticked off that my she wasn’t available the first time he asked, and he fully intended to “date her until she was hooked and then drop her like a hot tamale.”  Well played, Grandpa.  Well played.

I will forever be in awe of their solid marriage, and I’m sure I will spend my whole lifetime trying to measure up to it.  (And my parents’ marriage, too!  Thirty three years, people.)  The older I get, the more I appreciate the hard work that they have put into their marriages to make this possible.  Marriage is the most fun I’ve ever had, but it’s also a whole heck of a lot of work.

And man, sixty one years is a long time.

Mom & Dad in their datin' days. Could they be any cuter?

So who do you admire?  Who inspires you?  Do you agree that marriage takes a lot of work?

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What Language Do You Speak?

I am fascinated by the concept of The 5 Love Languages.

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The idea behind the book is that there are five main ways to express and understand love.  If you and a loved one understand love in different ways, you may be missing some of the ways they are showing their affection for you!  This applies to romantic relationships as well as friendships and family relationships.

The 5 Love Languages are:

Words of Affirmation
People who speak this language value hearing about how much their loved ones care about them and support their dreams.  They thrive on unsolicited compliments and words of support.

Quality Time
Individuals who speak this language need undivided attention. Nothing says “I love you” like a heartfelt conversation, hike in the woods, or a shared meal.

Receiving Gifts
Despite the way it sounds, this isn’t a greedy love language. People who speak this language value the thoughtfulness and effort that goes into gift giving.

Acts of Service
A person who speaks this love language would love it if you took out the garbage or ran errands without asking.  They love anything you can do to help them out.

Physical Touch
This person is that touchy-feely friend that you have.  The one who hugs hello and goodbye and grabs your arm with excitement.  They need you to be physically present with them.

To read more about the Love Languages, visit the official website.  Although you probably have an idea where you fall, you can take a quiz on the site to determine what language you speak.

Me?  Words of Affirmation.  This is no surprise.  I love to write letters and tell the people I adore how much they mean to me.  One of the most important things I did before the rehearsal dinner when Goose and I got married was write letters to my bridesmaids, parents, in-laws, and Goose.  It meant so much for me to get my thoughts on paper about how important they were to me and what it meant to have them be part of my wedding day.

I’m mushy-gushy.  I’m the friend that will randomly send an e-mail or note to tell someone I adore them.  I’m quite certain I’ve creeped out some bloggers with my overly-emotional “thanks for writing that post” e-mails.  It’s just who I am.

 

And that’s exactly why those kinds of gestures mean the most to me.  Last summer, Goose spent three weeks in China.  While he was there, I completed my first triathlon, started an internship, and began a new job.  Before he left, Goose left three cards for me.  Each envelope was labeled for the occasion when I needed to read it.  Race Day. Internship. First Day of Work.

It was so special to me that Goose took the time to write me these notes, and I loved reading them!  He even had flowers, with another little note, sent to me the day before the triathlon.  Because I value those kinds of things so much, the notes meant a whole lot to me.  Had he communicated his support in a different way, I may not have understood it in the same way.

Do you think these “languages” have merit? What Love Language do you speak? 

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I am Catholic.

I don’t talk about my faith too much here.  In fact, aside from number 4 on my 30 before 30 list, I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it at all.  It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it.  It’s just that it seems, well, kind of personal.  I prefer to be one of those people who shows her faith through acts of love instead of running my mouth about it.  Still, as Lent, the most important liturgical season begins, I’m feeling inclined to talk about it, complex as it may be.

I consider myself a liberal Catholic, if there is such a thing.  Growing up, I attended a parish that is not really known for strictly adhering to Roman Catholic guidelines.  (We actually *gasp* didn’t even have kneelers until a few years ago!)  Yes, the core components of the faith are there, but sometimes, a woman would gets us and gives the homily.  Teens are invited to plan their own liturgies and music is joyful and lively.  People are loved and accepted as they are, and there isn’t a whole lot of judgment.  I consider myself lucky to have grown up attending a church like this.  The endless quest for a church closer to home has taught me that most Catholic churches aren’t quite like it. 

My inability to wake up to my alarm clock on the weekends makes me wish I felt inspired by the church that is just a five minute trip, door to door.  However, my desire to feel happier, better, smarter, and more fulfilled when I leave Mass keeps me going back to the parish where I grew up, even if that means an hour (round-trip) in the car on Sundays.  And so, some weekends, I “church shop.”  When I get sick of shopping, I head back home.  When I get sick of the drive, I shop again.  I just hope to get it sorted out sometime soon — all this jumping from place to place has me feeling quite restless.

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