Monday, May 31, 2004

Marriage heroes  

My wife and I are responsible for the quality and success of our marriage even if the world assembles against us. I truly believe that even if every other marriage on the planet were to fail, if everyone we know constantly criticized us for remaining committed to one another, and even if the federal government outlawed marriage as we know it, Mrs. Happy and I would still be accountable to God for loving each other the way He intended. Our world, fortunately, isn't quite as hostile as all that, but it is still a generally discouraging place for those of us who value marriage. So we look for encouragement wherever we can find it, and God has blessed us with a huge source of encouragement in our pastor and his wife.

Sad to say, but pastors' families usually fall well short of role model status. Their wives gossip worse than anyone, and their kids cut a wide swath of mayhem throughout their childhood and teenage years. Steve and Shelley Switzer, along with their three wonderful children, are notable exceptions to this rule. Every member of their family loves Jesus and is devoted to ministry. They are a God-centered family, full of love and worthy of emulation, and they are an inspiration to my wife and me.

We celebrated our sixth anniversary last week, while Steve and Shelley celebrated their 18th in December. I asked them each to write a little something about having been married for that long. I will post their thoughts tomorrow and Wednesday.

I thank God for them, for their family, and for the example they provide to all of us.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

Ryan talks about how a marriage's spice comes from differences between spouses.

The WorldMag Blog wonders whether Shrek 2 is a pro-marriage fairy tale. I haven't seen it, so I'm reserving judgment on that.

Irene is single and thinks a lot about marriage. She says that her desire to marry is enhancing her prayer life.

James at Loopy Meals thinks it's hilarious that his wife finds him attractive. I can certainly empathize with his feelings. (Thanks to Irene for the link.)

I ran across an essay this week called Stumbling Toward a Theology of Getting Married. It's a year old, but still fascinating.

Dr. Warnock created a list of his top ten favorite bloggers. Speaking objectively, I must say that he made some quality selections.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Affairs of the heart  

Ben at Marriages Restored has a great series of posts warning against the damage an emotional affair can do to a marriage. Go there and read part 1, part 2, and part 3. When Mrs. Happy and I were engaged, she told me that she felt good to be marrying a man incapable of adultery. I said, "But I thought you agreed to marry me!" I told her that I'm quite capable of committing adultery, and that the more I'm aware of my weaknesses, the more I can compensate for them, thereby lessening the chances of succumbing to temptation. Better men than I (King David, for example) have committed adultery, so it would be arrogant of me to think that I'm immune to that sin. We discussed that for several hours. She couldn't imagine me as an adulterer, but I knew that the moment I think I have any sin under control is the same moment in which I drop my guard and open myself up to failure.

We brought it up in premarital counseling, and our counselor confirmed that every man is capable of adultery and that every good man is constantly on guard against it. Women aren't immune to the temptation either. Ben's story shows that sex outside of marriage is only one of several ways to commit adultery. It's important to guard your body, your mind, your heart, and your spirit. The parts of your life that you leave unguarded are by definition the parts most vulnerable to attack.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

It's like buttah  

Mike Myers used to do a bit on Saturday Night Live in which he portrayed a character named Linda Richman who had her own TV talk show called Coffee Talk. She was an older New York Jewish lady who liberally sprinkled Yiddish words into everything she said and, two or three times per episode, would find herself overcome with emotion. Whenever that happened, she would announce, "I'm a little farklempttalk amongst yourselves…I'll give you a topic and you go with it…Diamond Shamrock sells neither diamonds nor shamrocks…discuss."

Real life is making me a little farklempt (which means choked up, according to a Yiddish dictionary, but I'm using it to mean unable to blog) right now. So I'm going to put out a topic and hope that a bunch of people comment on it:

A spouse can't make you happy. The most he or she can do is make you happier.

Discuss.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Looking back, looking ahead, and celebrating  

I met my wife in May of 1994. She was 19. I was 22. It was ten years ago, but it seems like yesterday. Sometimes I look at her and feel like we've known each other for only a couple of weeks. What a couple of weeks, though.

We each had a lifetime of experiences before we met. Looking back, I can see how my circuitous life led up to meeting her, and how our meeting served as a springboard for my life since. My entire life, from the moment I was born to this moment right now, seems to have involved her in some way.

I love her. I can honestly say that I can't remember a time when I didn't, and I can't imagine a time when I won't. Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of our wedding in 1998, the first day of our seventh year as husband and wife. I eagerly anticipate finding out what the future holds.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

How is marriage doing? Fox News gives some detailed statistics concerning the state of marriage in the United States. Not that they have any relevance to specific situations, but they're still interesting if a little depressing. Thanks to Ryan for the link.

Messy Christian ponders how marriage would affect her life. She seems to think the effect would be bad, but I say it all depends on whom you marry and how you cultivate the relationship.

Marla has a great story about her sleep-induced psychosis. It reminds me of a time when I cooked some soup while Mrs. Happy took a nap. When the soup was done, I woke her up and told her to come to the table. She looked at me coyly and said, "The soup's done? You must have been coming in here and messing with me quite a bit." I had no idea what she meant. I tried to help her out of bed, but she fought me off desperately and refused to even sit up, saying, "If I get up, it'll all fall out!" A few moments passed and she began laughing hysterically. She laughed for several minutes without stopping and couldn't tell me why. She finally was able to come to the table, catch her breath, and tell me that she had been vividly dreaming that she was a can of soup. We had been married less than six months at the time.

One columnist in an African paper expresses some doubt about a study that assigns monetary value to a year's worth of good sex as well as a year of a good marriage. I'm not entirely sure what currency he's referring to, but if it's Rupees, then 100,000 Rupees is roughly equivalent to 2,200 US dollars.

 

Rey says a thank you to everyone who's been praying for him.

Friday, May 21, 2004

His and Hers XI  

His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday (though I forgot to do that this week). On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the topic. I invite other bloggers to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in celebrating marriage. This week's question is:

What question do you dread hearing from your spouse?

Mrs. Happy's response

"Have you written your His and Hers yet?"

This question, invariably posed to me on Friday afternoon, is almost always met with a long, whiny groan, followed by, "Why didn't you remind me earlier in the week?" whether he did or not. Don't get me wrong—I think it's a great "meme," but by the end of the week, all I want to do is collapse in a heap on the floor, not rack my brain for some witty, insightful blah, blah, blah, heap, blah, blah, floor.…

Curt's response

"Can you tell I've lost weight?"

At least she doesn't ask if she looks fat. Still, I'm never sure how to answer. I know when she's been watching her diet and exercising more just because I see her doing it. I also know that probably translates into weight loss. I know she needs the validation, but an ounce dropped from her hips and fraction of an inch from her waist are not obvious the way five inches off her hair are. (Honestly, though, I don't always notice when she gets her hair cut either.) I see her many times a day every day, and to me she looks the same from moment to moment, and she's always beautiful.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Q & A time with Curt  

I don't do this very often (actually, I've never done this before), but today I'm going to open the floor to questions. Some of these are questions people have actually asked. Some are questions people want to ask. Some of them are questions no one cares to ask. I'm not making obvious which is which in order not to embarrass people who have asked me silly things.

Q: How old are you?
A: I'm 31 years old. I'll be 32 in June.

Q: How old do you look?
A: About 20.

Q: How do you stay so young looking?
A: Live clean, drink lots of water, and stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Q: Is that why you're paler than an Englishman?
A: Shut up.

Q: Why should I get married when it would mean the end of life as I know it?
A: Marriage is the end of the single life in much the same way that birth is the end of life in the womb. It's a huge change, but wow—so worth it.

Q: How long have you been married?
A: It will be six years on Sunday, May 23.

Q: What has surprised you most about marriage?
A: The rapidity with which a woman goes through a roll of toilet paper.

Q: What do you think should be the boundaries of physical affection in a Christian dating relationship?
A: Ideally, hand-holding should be the physical limit, and maybe hugging.

Q: That's weird. Why not kissing?
A: Anything beyond hand-holding is part of a process that leads to intercourse. Beginning that process and stopping short of intercourse only serves to frustrate your body and create more lustful desire both physically and mentally.

Q: But isn't it a little unrealistic to expect a couple in love to never even kiss?
A: Okay, stopping at hand-holding hardly ever works out in reality. Personally, neither my wife nor I had sex before we were married, but we did go beyond hand-holding. All I can say is that it's best to minimize physical contact as much as possible before marriage. Develop all the other aspects of your relationship, and you'll be ready for the physical part—as it was meant to be—on your wedding night.

Q: Could you elaborate on that a little more?
A: Most couples start off with sex before they bond emotionally and spiritually, and they're bored with it by the time their relationship has developed to the point that sex would really mean something. That's why you hear so many jokes about married people having very little sex. But marriage isn't supposed to be the end of sex—it's supposed to be the beginning.

Q: What is the best advice you've ever received about marriage?
A: I got lots of advice when I was engaged. My dad told me that my wife and I should agree on whether to hang toilet paper so that it dispenses from the top or from the bottom before either of us ever tries to hang it. I'm sure that isn't the most profound advice I received, but it's the only bit I remember. Probably because it had something to do with toilet paper.

Q: How do people usually respond when you tell them you're married?
A: They say, "What?!! You don't look…married." I'm never quite sure what they mean.

Q: How do people usually respond when you introduce them to your wife?
A: They usually say, "That's your wife? But…she's so pretty."

Q: Is your wife really as hot as you make her out to be?
A: I use three words to describe the effect women have on men. Pretty is something we like to look at. Attractive is something we want to talk to. Beautiful is something we want to look at, talk to, and bask in. My wife is the only beautiful woman I know.

Q: But is she hot?
A: Absolutely smokin'.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Will Rogers on divorce  

I don't know how well acquainted international readers are with Will Rogers. For that matter, many Americans have sort of forgotten about him. He was a vaudeville, Broadway, and movie performer in the early part of the 20th century. His stage act consisted of doing tricks with a lasso and making jokes about the day's news. He was so funny, refreshing, and down to earth that he reached a level of popularity that even today's biggest stars can't match. People really loved him the way they love a close personal friend. For a while he had a weekly radio address as well as a biweekly newspaper column that provoked more water-cooler conversations than Mike Royko and Dave Barry combined. He died in a plane crash in 1935, but his insights and witticisms live on. I found the following bit in a book I have. It's part of his observations of his tour of Russia in 1934:

Then we went down to where everybody wants to go, and that's the Divorce Court. Mrs. Rogers got kind of itchy in there. I even got a little scared after I got in there. Boy, I behaved myself while I was in Russia, I'll tell you that. Well, we were sitting in there, with a girl interpreter. And the first thing you know, a fellow come in with a brief case. He put his things down on a desk, and he was in there a minute, and they asked him a couple of questions, wrote down something—then he got up and went out. I said—I'd been watching—I said to the interpreter—what did that guy do that just come in here?

She said: he got a divorce. I said: huh? That guy that just went out got a divorce already? He wasn't in there longer than I've been telling you about it. And sure enough, yes. I said—my Lord, where was the girl he got the divorce from?

She said: well, they'll send her a card tomorrow, saying: you ain't with us any more.

I asked: Is that the way they get married, too? I can come in here and marry somebody, and announce that I am married and then send Miss Greta Garbo a card, and say: Miss Garbo, you're married to me?

She said: No. You've got to bring the girl when you get married.

Now that sounds awful easy, but wait a minute. Divorce ain't like right here in Hollywood, where we are now. Say listen, here you come in with three or four of those marriages and divorces. But they got a limit on them over there. Out here there's no limit to what you can do, but over there, they do. You come in on about your fourth marriage, and they've got all your records down there, and they'll say: Wait a minute! This thing has gone about far enough. See? This is a Communistic country, and we believe in dividing up, but you ain't going to get all the women in Russia. Now you better go back and make up with the old one.

There is many more things to talk about in Russia. So let me know. Write and let me know your questions, I'll be glad to answer any question. Anything I don't know about the country, I can make up. For Russia is a country that no matter what you say about it, it's true. Even if it's a lie, it's true.

 

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Why marry?  

I mentioned in Saturday's Marriage links for the week that Irene had written a few recent posts about marriage. She posed a question in one that I felt a need to respond to:

Yesterday I was driving Emmy (my housemate) and I to a nearby shopping mall when I asked her if it was ok to get married for companionship or because we're lonely. After all, if God said , "It is not good for man to be alone"…

She said no. Yeah our gut feeling is to say no, you shouldn't marry just because you're lonely, or you shouldn't marry for companionship alone. But why? Or rather, why not?

Why get married at all? It's a good question to ask, both generally and specifically. Here's what the book of Genesis says:

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."…

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said,

This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

We should get married because God created us (most of us, anyway) for marriage. I think it's okay to marry for companionship. I think companionship is actually the main reason to marry. But that's just a general rule, not necessarily applicable to a situation in which one considers the possibility of spending a lifetime with a specific person. Here's another general rule: "Because we're in love" is a terrible reason to get married, if by "in love" you mean the intense physical and emotional response brought on by another person's presence. If being "in love" is the foundation of a relationship, the relationship can't and won't last. It is a feeling both blissful and ecstatic, but also unsustainable. It is good for a married couple to be in love, to have that infatuation and preoccupation with one another from time to time. It's like having icing on your cake after a satisfying meal. But that feeling can overpower rationality and even impede growth and hamper a deepening of the intimacy two people can share, and therefore can't be the basis of any successful relationship.

Reasons for marrying a specific person vary with every couple. When I considered proposing to my best friend, I took into account several things:

Those were just some of my practical reasons for proposing. There were definitely other reasons, reasons that can't really be put into words—emotional reasons, spiritual reasons, reasons that you might even call mystical. They all boil down to one thing: marriage (this specific marriage) felt right, and remaining single and apart from each other felt wrong. We reached a point where we felt that every day that we weren't married was just a day we spent running on a relational treadmill, having fun and learning about each other but not making progress consistent with our effort. It took us three years to reach that point, three years so full that they felt like a lifetime. The years since have been even fuller. Whatever reasons we had, whatever feelings compelled us, whatever guidance we received from loved ones and from God, they have worked out. Messy Christian said in a recent post:

Marriage means the end. I don't want to end up having that perfect suburban life because it terrifies me. Because then I'll end up like everyone else, part of this endless cycle of marriage, birth and debts; part of millions. I want something more than that.

Well, MC, marriage is more than that when the husband and wife are both committed to making it so. A good friend brings out the best in you. A good spouse brings out more good than you could ever have on your own. Two people who do that for each other make for an amazing couple, and a fuller life than I could ever imagine.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

Irene has a lot of friends getting married this year. It has prompted her to ponder her own expectations for a future husband, as well as her reasons for wanting to be married and some challenges she is only now beginning to understand. Great posts, all of them.

Joe McKeever explains the importance of creating and maintaining family traditions.

Marla, the Proverbial Wife, has some thoughts on the proper care and feeding of husbands.

Wizard Needs Food Badly. Apparently that's a song I somehow missed in my teens. Affektion calls it "a great '80s child song about husband and wife relations, or boys and their toys." Maybe he's right.

The secret to a happy, long lasting marriage? According to researchers in England, it is "a common agenda quietly negotiated in those first few tricky years and then stuck to." Check out the bottom of the article for some other interesting links.

There is a mathematical equation for determining a person's optimal marrying age. I can't quite decipher what the equation is, but my best guess is M = (Y+1)/e + X - Y, with M being the age at which a person should take what they can get rather than gambling on the possibility of a better spouse coming along, Y being the age at which you start looking for a partner, X being the age at which you would give up and stop looking, and e being 2.718. According to this, I will reach my optimum marrying age next year, after seven years of marriage. I often repeat this to myself: "In matters of human will, statistics are irrelevant." I can say the same about mathematical equations.

Divorce is high among ex-NFL players. Love and trust are the two most important ingredients in marriage. Men fall in love more quickly than women. Mothers never get a pie in the face in movies. So says one columnist.

Friday, May 14, 2004

His and Hers X  

His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday. On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the topic. I invite other bloggers to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in celebrating marriage. This week's question is:

How has marriage affected the other relationships in your life?

Mrs. Happy's response

My first thought regarding this question is a little on the sad side, as I feel that I have neglected many of my other relationships due to the closeness of my marriage and the directions it has taken me through the last six years. However, upon greater reflection, I realize that Curt has modeled a deep sense of family devotion and loyalty that I am still learning to adopt and apply to my own family—and my friendships, too. Even though I've been a poor correspondent at times, I would hope that everyone I love knows that I love them and that I would do everything in my power to be the friend, sister, daughter, granddaughter, etc., that they need me to be.

Curt's response

My marriage has affected my relationships in one major way. It has made them better. Being married and loving my wife as deeply as I do has taught me how two people can relate on an intimate level. This knowledge now informs all of my relationships with family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and passersby. I understand myself better because my wife brings out aspects of my personality that I was unaware of before I met her. I understand relationships better because I'm more aware of what makes them work. In short, I'm a better friend and a better person because of my marriage, and that shows in my other relationships.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Sadness and loss  

My heart is breaking right now for my friend Rey. Read his post from Wednesday to see why. My spirit has been heavy since I read that, and I've been praying for him and his family at every opportunity. I'm going through a structured Bible study right now, and today's lesson coincidentally (or maybe not) focused on coping with grief, pain, and fear. Though the grief I feel on his behalf is nothing compared to his own feelings right now, I found comfort in this passage in Luke 22:39–42 (ESV):

And [Jesus] came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.

I'm sure I've read that before, but it has never really sunk in that God sent an angel to strengthen Jesus. My NASB notes that the verse about the angel doesn't appear in some ancient manuscripts, but I find it powerful nevertheless. If God comforted Jesus with such divine intervention, maybe He does that for some of His adopted children as well. That is my prayer for my friend and his wife tonight.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Busy  

Mrs. Happy and I have been busy learning lines and rehearsing for a dramatic presentation we're doing at our church on Friday, so I've had little time for blogging. I always feel a little guilty when I claim my RLTB™ rights, but I try to keep in mind that no one's life suffers in the absence of my contributions, and the world continues to rotate and revolve just as it did before I ever started this blog. And Real Life does indeed Trump Blogging. Some bloggers apologize when they're unable to post anything of substance, but I generally find such posts a little self-important, so I'm not going to do anything like that. Unless this post is like that.

Anyway, here's this week's His and Hers question:

How has marriage affected the other relationships in your life?

Don't forget to visit Spare Change for this week's Christian Carnival. If you don't have time to regularly read a variety of blogs, the Carnival gives you a chance to sample some of the best in Christian blogging, so check it out.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Thought I'd be Ecclesiastes  

 

You are Proverbs
You are Proverbs.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Mrs. Happy and I have never done one of these (completely silly and inane, but also kind of fun) Internet quizzes together before. We came out the same. Almost all of the description applies to me. I do crave knowledge, understanding, and wisdom more than almost anything in life. My wife, on the other hand, is more intuitive than logical, often feeling the right solution to a problem I've only begun to analyze. She definitely has a tender heart, and people flock to her asking for guidance. I think the part that says "You don't speak much" doesn't really apply to her, although she swears she doesn't talk much when I'm not around.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Reminiscence No. 4  

It's time once again for my periodic foray into blogocentrism. A couple of people have told me that they have made a point of reading every single post I've ever written. It's gratifying to know that my words and experiences have touched people so deeply that they would invest so much time and effort into exploring as many of my thoughts as they possibly can. But, sadly, I don't think it happens that often. In fact, tomorrow I could probably post something from my archives and pass it off as new with no one the wiser. It pains me to think that my posts—as a writer, my posts are the closest thing I have to children—go unread and even unnoticed by most visitors. So about every six weeks I look at things I wrote four or five months previously and call attention to some of my favorites. I am sad to report that, comments prior to January 6, 2004, seem to have disappeared into cyberspace. I don't know why.

During this time, I also published the love stories shared by Rey (Jan. 22) and Larry (Jan. 29). If you'd like to share your love story, please send it to me in an e-mail. I love to hear them.

If this is your first look into The Happy Husband's past, check out Reminiscences No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

Doug at CoffeeSwirls has some good things to say about the damage pornography can do to a person and to a marriage. He also provides some practical advice for overcoming the temptation pornography offers.

I've mentioned before that I love hearing people's love stories. Bryan (of Spare Change fame) tells the story of how his daughter came into the world. Excerpt: "She brings honor and favor to her parents by her conduct, her reputation, and her demeanor. I am incredibly proud and blessed to be her daddy. I daily pray for the wisdom, grace, and provision to be a father worthy of such a child. I ask God to bless her and protect her, but most of all to use her for His own purposes."

King of Fools had a death in the family this past week. His wife's grandmother died. They attended the funeral and visited with family. The grandparents apparently had an incredible marriage. The KoF offers his own reflections and also links to a newspaper article describing the couple on their 61st anniversary. From KoF's post:

Dealing with death is a difficult thing for all of us, but it has fallen most heavily on the Queen's grandfather. For the past several years, he has served as caretaker for his wife without complaint. The last five weeks of her life was spent in the hospital, following a major stroke. He spent each of those days and nights by her side, speaking, praying, reading and singing to her.…A few days prior to her death, he told his oldest son, "Sixty-one years with her was not enough."

Jim Priest, founder of MarriageWorks!, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening marriages and reducing divorce, offers predictions and prognostications about your marriage. You can log into the newspaper's site with the e-mail me@privacy.net and the password m1a2r3, credentials obtained at BugMeNot.com, perhaps the most useful site on the Internet.

Can research and numbers tell us anything about marriage? They might help to describe it, but not to predict it, in my opinion. One watchcry for my life is the statement, "In matters of human will, statistics are irrelevant."

Friday, May 07, 2004

His and Hers X  

His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday. On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the topic. (We didn't actually have time to write anything on Friday. I'm posting this on Saturday and dating it Friday in order to keep my archives consistent.—Curt.) I invite other bloggers to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in celebrating marriage. This week's question is:

In your early 20s, what did you think you'd be doing in your current stage of life? How does your expectation differ from the reality?

Mrs. Happy's response

When I was a child, I used to fantasize about being older. I could hardly wait 'til I was 10 years old...then what would it be like to be sixteen, eighteen, twenty? Then I'd go off to college until I was 22. That's about where my future, as far as I could imagine, was completely up in the air. When I actually reached the age of 22, I realized I had still never envisioned my life beyond that year, mainly because I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, and the uncertainty was a little scary. From my limited perspective, I figured I'd probably live with my parents until I got married in my mid-twenties to some faceless, nameless man (only because I couldn't imagine him, not because I didn't have extremely high standards). I would continue to live in Texas for the rest of my life, own a cute little house in the outskirts of Austin, and certainly have two kids by the time I was thirty...which is right about now. That all sounds fine and good, and I admit there are days when I long for that safe little picture, but now I realize how much more of an adventure I had in store for me, and how I wouldn't trade it for anything. At 22, I knew nothing. By 23, I had a nice job and was engaged and then married to my best friend, who encouraged me to utilize my talents and further my education, which brought us to New York by 25. That's right, NEW YORK!!! That's the last place I thought I'd ever live, but here we are! So by 29, I've earned my Master's degree, had multiple fascinating job experiences, joined the most wonderful church in the world, made some incredible, lasting friendships, and continued to cultivate and strengthen a unique and beautiful marriage. I still have about 5 months to make some twins, but that was kind of an arbitrary estimate in the first place. Now I don't really have any more projections for the future, 'cause really, what do I know?!

Curt's response

When I was in my early 20s, I could not imagine a pleasant future for myself. I thought that at the age of 31 (my current age), I would be making a barely livable wage as a reporter or copyeditor on a weekly small-town newspaper and living alone (or possibly with a roach or a mouse) in an efficiency apartment in a questionable part of town. That was my vision before I became friends with the pre-Mrs. Happy. That vision did not really change much in the following years, except that I began imagining myself with a good friend. Things have turned out much, much differently, as you can see just by reading this blog's title. I have a good job. I rent part of a house that is blessedly free of vermin. I'm married to a beautiful, wonderful woman. I'm so glad. I hate roaches.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Off topic: Bible translations  

If one thing annoys me about the modern church, it is its tendency to rifle through every obscure Bible translation and paraphrase until a unique combination of words in a particular verse makes just the right point in just the right way. When I was a child, I heard the majestic language of The King James Version read in church, and I memorized Bible verses in King James English. Later, when I could read and understand for myself, I turned to the New American Standard Bible, which updated most of the obsolete vocabulary while retaining much of the KJV's poetic power. I never have liked the NIV, though I can appreciate its mission to make scripture more accessible to those who are uncomfortable with the KJV and also to those who have never read the Bible before. I'm not qualified to comment on the accuracy of any particular translation. I can only say what I prefer (I've really been getting into the English Standard Version lately), and I respect the preferences of others in choosing a translation that fits their style of learning.

Even so, I find that I have an intense dislike of paraphrases. They remind me of a fellow student in a Shakespeare class I took in college. He drew great pleasure from reducing the Bard's flowery language into the coarsest language he could summon. For example, he once read the lines:

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.

And then he said, "So, in other words, Romeo's saying 'Juliet! Take off your clothes! I'm horny!'" I got a sick feeling just hearing him talk. I get a similar feeling when I read things like: "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life (John 3:16, The Message)." I grant that it's not nearly as crass as my obnoxious classmate, but neither is it as elegant or as credible as "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (KJV)."

So I cringed when I read Jeff's recent post in which he included the full text of I Corinthians chapter 13 from The Message. It's such a beautiful passage about the nature of pure love, with layers of meaning I've only just begun to fathom. Whenever I feel like I'm flailing around, not knowing God's will, not feeling like my spiritual gifts and good intentions amount to anything, this chapter lifts my spirits and focuses my perspective. When I was in high school, I memorized the whole thing from the NASB. When I read The Message's version in Jeff's post, I just kept thinking, "This is an interesting take on it, but it's just not right." So I reread the chapter in the NASB in an effort to refresh my memory on the "right" way for the passage to read.

It wasn't like I remembered it. There were parts of it that I didn't particularly care for, parts that I would have written differently had it been up to me. But like I said, I'm not qualified to testify to the accuracy of any given translation. All I can say for certain is which translation communicates best to me. In the case of I Corinthians 13, I find that no single translation forms a cohesive whole that connects with my thought patterns. So I gained sort of a new respect, or at least an uneasy acceptance, of paraphrases. I also opened my mind a little more and took a strong dose of spiritual humility.

In any event, here is my own version of the Bible's love chapter. It is mostly NASB, but it has touches of KJV, NKJV, ESV, and my own sensibilities.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, believes no evil; does not wallow in depravity, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But where there are heavenly secrets, they will be revealed. Where there are tongues, they will fall silent. Where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see our Lord in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. I know only in part; but in that day I shall know fully even as I also am fully known.

Now and forever we all have faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

Update: Rey brought to my attention that The Message is not a paraphrase in the strictest sense. The NavPress.com Web site says that "It is probably most accurately called a 'translation of tone' or a 'paraphrase from the original languages.'" See the Web site for a more thorough explanation of how it came to be.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

RLTB™  

I'm sort of busy and drained today, so I'm claiming my Real Life Trumps Blogging rights.

If you're desperate for something to read, though, be sure to visit this week's Christian Carnival at Parablemania for some of the finest in Christian blogging.

Here's this week's His and Hers question to ponder until Friday:

In your early 20s, what did you think you'd be doing in your current stage of life? How does your expectation differ from the reality?

And, for good measure, here's a picture of Mrs. Happy as a superhero (you can see my superhero picture here if you're interested):

Just to be clear, my wife is much too modest to actually wear an outfit like that in public. She always makes sure the tentacles are concealed until they're needed.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Quality time  

I remember one particular weekend before Mrs. Happy and I married. We spent nearly all day Saturday shopping and planning some stuff for the wedding. We spent much of Sunday the same way. On Monday, we attended our weekly premarital counseling session. At one point during the session she said, "I feel like we're not spending enough time together." At first, I was confused. In those days, we actually had very little time apart. But as we talked it over, I realized that her complaint wasn't a statement of fact based on the concrete number of hours we spent in each other's presence, but rather an expression of her feeling that we weren't spending the right kind of time together. Shopping and planning didn't meet her desire for personal connection. As long as our focus was not on each other, the time we spent together did not make her feel loved and cherished.

I remember hearing a pastor speak once about quality time. He told us that he had come to a point in his marriage where he needed to make special, conscious efforts to set aside time for his wife. So he began taking her out on dates regularly. One day, his wife told him that she felt like his work was getting in the way of their relationship. He couldn't understand why. In his mind, he was making sure that work never interfered. Trouble was, though, that he was multi-tasking, making phone calls in the car as he took her on their date. He was letting work distract him from her, therefore invalidating his efforts.

Romantic love and the inner workings of the heart can be bewildering at times. Sometimes love is frustrating, sometimes it's infuriating, but it's always worth it. Find out what you can do to make your wife feel loved. If you don't know, ask. Once you know, do it. And do it a lot.

Monday, May 03, 2004

A meeting of bloggers  

I mentioned on Saturday that I had the privilege of meeting a small group of fellow Christian bloggers in Manhattan. It was my first time meeting any blogger in real life, with the exception of Jeff and Rey, both of whom I knew before I started blogging.

Dr. Adrian Warnock, Mac Swift, Messy Christian, and I met at Dr. Warnock's hotel and chatted briefly before setting off to find a place where we could sit and converse in relative peace and quiet (there's no actual peace and quiet in Manhattan, so you take what you can get). We ended up at a Starbuck's near Times Square. Our conversation topics covered blogging, cultural differences, Calvinism vs. Armenianism, the importance of church, the significance of brain chemistry and spiritual oppression in mental illness, the merits and drawbacks of remaining anonymous online, whether English tea is superior to Malaysian or vice versa, and how a professional rugby player—even with full padding—would not survive an NFL football game in any position other than kicker. We didn't agree on all the issues (especially the whole football/rugby thing), but we had fun and loving Christian fellowship.

You can read the others' accounts of the time on their own blogs, and even see a picture of the four of us on MC's site: Adrian Warnock's UK Blog, Vessel of Honour, Messy Christian.

Most of you can stop reading now. I just have a few personal messages for my three new friends:

I hope the four of us can meet again this side of Heaven, but even if we don't, we can take comfort in knowing that we can have fellowship in eternity, provided Adrian can stay awake long enough to get us reservations at a decent restaurant.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

What a day  

I'm coming to the end of the fullest day I've had in quite a while, and I'm exhausted. I don't really have the energy right now to do a collection of marriage links for the week.

I will say, though, that I had the absolute pleasure of spending several hours this afternoon with international bloggers Dr. Warnock, Messy Christian, and Mac Swift, chatting in a Starbuck's near Times Square. It wasn't quite the drunken brawl that Mac predicted, but there was a good deal of lively discussion. I'd like to say more about it, but like I said, I'm exhausted. Check back Monday for the full story.