On Her 40th

40 Things I Love About Kara

  1. From the very beginning, I’ve never felt like I needed to pretend to be someone I’m not when I’m with her. On the contrary, she—more than anyone else—welcomes and invites my truest self (the me that’s usually hidden from other people and even from myself) to show up and be known. 
  2. She’s a record-settingly good mom to our kids. They love being with her, and not just in a “young kids want to be around mom” kind of way. She’s fun, patient, caring, and encouraging with them. 
  3. When she laughs at something, she’s usually kind of a cute quiet giggler. But I love the sound of the rare times she has a good belly laugh. 
  4. She takes life at my kind of speed. An example is that an ideal vacation for either of us doesn’t involve moving fast and being around noise. Give us a porch with a view and a couple of rocking chairs and we’re happy. This means we have a good, long future of enjoying one another. 
  5. She cares deeply about people. 
  6. She cares deeply about our church. 
  7. She’s able to sense things I don’t have a radar for. And I trust her––she’s virtually always right on those things. 
  8. I’ve never known anyone else as talented at making a day or event to be meaningful for someone else–-whether it’s someone close to her (like me or the kids), or people she doesn’t even know (like some of the couples she works with on weddings at our church). 
  9. She’s so smart. (Who finishes a 90-hour graduate school program with a 4.0?) 
  10. I clearly remember walking past her on our college campus one day and thinking, “Man, she’s pretty. I love that red hair.”
  11. Her idea of a shopping trip is for me to take her to a couple of Goodwill stores, and she’s fine with me staying in the car and reading a book.  
  12. She loves her parents and her sister, and even though we live a long way from them, has stayed close to them while also enjoying our lives in the places we have been. 
  13. Even if it may take her a bit to warm up to the idea, she’s up for a good adventure (like the conversation when I told her I was thinking a lot about the possibility of us moving to Guatemala). 
  14. West Texas is where I grew up, not her, and it’s very different from what she was used to, but she loves our life here and she has made our corners of West Texas better places just by her being here. 
  15. She is a great friend to her friends. (If I were one of her friends, I’d be really glad to have a friend like her.) Her friends are thankful for her––and I think she underestimates their love and respect for her. 
  16. She loves God genuinely and profoundly. She has such high expectations of herself that she doesn’t feel this as often as she someday will, but I am certain that Jesus is glad to have a friend like her. All of my theological study convinced me that God feels gratitude for her—and I think she underestimates God’s love and respect for her. 
  17. She’s able to be patient and creative with our kids on things (like homework projects) for which I don’t have it in me. 
  18. She makes fantastic food. Especially when she has the space to enjoy cooking, I would choose her stuff over any restaurant. 
  19. I love the way her eyes squint when she really smiles. 
  20. I clearly remember watching her get ready for work the other day and thinking, “Man, she’s pretty. I love seeing her walk across the room.”
  21. She is thoroughly good and completely trustworthy. 
  22. Anyone who knows me well knows how I loved my dad. He and Kara got each other. He loved her, and she loved him—which brought me delight in both directions. 
  23. We sold the last of my dad's herd of cattle a few years ago, but if we have what’s now the more rare chance to go feed some cows with our kids, she still cares about animals the way he did. (I’ve never once intentionally allowed a cow to lick me––but when she feeds them, she’s going to get slimy, and have fun doing it.) 
  24. And she’s passing that trait on. The house down the street from us has an unusual variety of animals: peacocks, donkeys, goats, dogs, ducks, and more. Among the times she seems most like herself is when she takes some food down to feed those donkeys with our daughter and they both like how it feels when he’s nibbling food out of their hands. 
  25. She didn’t grow up playing or watching sports like I did, but she’s a trooper and jumps in on the interest I have and the kids are developing in it. I love watching her shoot baskets with our kids, or having her sit by me watching March Madness while she double checks her bracket to see who she picked in any given game. 
  26. We have been through our hardest stuff together—like losing people we loved (young, old, and in between) and the valleys we encounter in this life we have sought to dedicate to God and others. Obviously I’m not eager for any more of those kinds of experiences, but if and when they do come, she’s the one I want close. 
  27. We have been through our most thrilling stuff together––like delighting in our children, and enjoying big things and small things together. I love those times, and when the next one comes, she’s the one I want close. 
  28. This fall, we will celebrate our 17th anniversary. In seventeen years, we’ve had some of the hard stuff, and some of the thrilling stuff, and mostly––just the normal day to day stuff. To me, that’s the best of all. Every day that we keep building this wonderful life together, she’s the one I want close. 
  29. She has a gift for communicating love and respect for, and genuine interest in, older folks. As evidenced in the First Stories sessions she has put on in our church, people’s stories are a gift, and she loves honoring them.  
  30. I clearly remember looking over at her any of the thousands of nights of our marriage and thinking, “Man, she’s pretty. I love those lips and that I’m the one who gets to kiss them.”
  31. She gets my sense of humor, and I get hers. There are times that we both notice something––aware that other people may not even see it nor find it funny if they did––but we’re both laughing without even having to identify it to each other. 
  32. When she’s relaxed, she has a great playful side. She will jump in with our kids to climb a tree or run through the sprinklers with at least as much joy as they have in doing it. 
  33. It’s only relatively recently that I’m realizing this about myself, but I’m not that easy to live with––primarily because of how much more space and time I need by myself than most people. She has always been able to give that to me as yet one more way that she loves me well. 
  34. She likes an opportunity to get dressed up. I remember our first fancy date in college. She came down the stairs in her dorm, and I thought, “Whoa. Lucky me.” 
  35. I remember her leaving the house for a wedding last weekend and I thought, “Whoa. Lucky me." 
  36. We got lost in Lexington, Kentucky on our first date, and she wasn’t impatient with me. Instead, she began singing along to the old country music I had in the cassette player in my pickup, and it was clear that we had some potential. 
  37. I can easily go into geek mode in a variety of subjects, from theology to sports statistics to Star Wars. Yet she’s never treated me like a geek in any of it. She just loves me. 
  38. She was voted “Most Shy” in her high school class, yet now she’s regularly behind a microphone in front of hundreds of people, because she’s so good at it and easy to listen to.  
  39. She encourages me, challenges me, loves me, stretches me––and all in very good ways. I’d be a floundering mess without her. With her, I honestly believe I have the best life of anyone I know. (I hope that doesn’t come across as arrogant, because it isn’t my own doing. Rather, it’s just a statement of immense gratitude.) 
  40. We are entering our 40s, and I’m thrilled about it. I loved her and she loved me when we were 21 and dating, when we were 23 and got married, when we were 28 and moved to Guatemala, when we were 30 and moved back to the U.S. and had our son, when we were 33 and had our daughter. But as we go into our 40s, it’s better, deeper, and more satisfying than in any of those earlier years. Lucky me.