Talents

Original Photo by  wallyir on Morguefile.com
Original Photo by wallyir on Morguefile.com

“Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?” –Benjamin Franklin

Repairs seem to be the order—or perhaps, the disorder—of the day. While at work this morning, I waited for the repairman to fix the church’s dishwasher, only to come home and find my husband busily working to repair our bathtub faucet. Not a trained plumber, my husband still has the talent for looking at such a problem and being able to find a solution. I, on the other hand, would most likely have to do hours of research in order to be able to even discern the problem. Luckily, opposites do attract.

One of the many benefits of my marriage is living with and loving someone who has vastly different talents than I do. My husband has numerous practical skills that I seem to lack, or perhaps just haven’t developed. He loves everything technical and mechanical, easily taking apart a radio, for instance, and finding its problems. Woodworking and even metalwork aren’t farfetched when it comes to his abilities either. He’s one smart cookie as I often say.

Obviously, learning to appreciate our differing talents has been a blessing to our relationship. Even as our skills grow and change over time, we readily compliment and utilize the other person’s talents. As we’ve gotten older and our relationship has changed, we realize that there’s no need for competition within our marriage. God has blessed each of us with our various talents, and we can use them to benefit both of us.

While being married to your opposite can bring about some lively arguments, it can also bring some great opportunities for learning and growth. While I may never reach the technical proficiency of my husband, I can easily let him know just how much I appreciate his work around the house.

I may not be able to fix a faucet or disassemble a television, but I’m certainly capable of expressing my admiration for his efforts and sincerely thanking him for that work.

Cooking

Original Photo by mconnors  on Morguefile.com
Original Photo by mconnors on Morguefile.com

Growing up, I just knew I was going to be a career woman. Unlike the woman in the Enjoli commercial, I might bring home the bacon, but I wouldn’t have to fry it up in the pan. Soon enough my ambitious plans for kitchen freedom would face the reality of adulthood and marriage. As a wife, I would need to learn cooking skills, often to humorous results.

My mother insisted that I take home economics in high school. Much of our class time, though, consisted of discussions of measurements, with very little cooking. Indeed, we spent quite a bit of our time discussing cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons, along with writing down random recipes on index cards. Our one moment in the kitchen consisted of making pizzas with mostly prepared ingredients. For some reason, though, my group ran out of time for shredding the cheese for our pizza; I came up with the brilliant idea of making up for the lack by using Parmesan to fill in the gaps. It was edible, if not exactly Italian.

Still this lack of knowledge of cooking didn’t bother me. I was going to be a working woman and so wouldn’t need such pedestrian information. Yeah, right. When I married my husband, my idea of grocery shopping consisted of buying the big box of frozen corn dogs. For the first few months, my husband and I lived off of such prepared meals. Luckily, I married a forgiving man.

Soon I would need shopping and cooking skills, however. In order to survive on my paycheck, we needed to live as frugally as possible, and that finally required me to fry up the bacon myself. I spent hours and hours reading on the internet and in books in order to obtain the information and the recipes that I would need. Unfortunately, as with my home economics class, I would soon realize that information does not always translate into ability.

For my first cooking adventures, I generally chose casseroles, usually Mr. Food’s recipes in the beginning and later moving on to recipes that I found on the internet. My husband regretfully calls this the “Summer of Casseroles.” My inexperience in cooking led to our eating every variation of tuna casserole possible–whether Mexican or Italian, with vegetables or without, and with rice or noodles. During this early time, I also learned to evaluate a recipe as I eventually realized that not all recipes are good. This would certainly apply to a Spanish casserole that I baked during this time. Although it looked good on the website, the casserole was a soupy mess due to a lack of noodles in the recipe.

I also found a rather brilliant idea in my research–making bean burritos ahead of time and putting them in the freezer. I happily purchased a truckload of ingredients and went to work on my burrito assembly line. My husband came home to witness the process with a somewhat bewildered look. After I had stuffed the freezer with my pre-made burritos, though, he realized how easy it was to grab one for lunch. We eventually grew tired of the many bean burritos, but it was a good idea at the time.

Yes, I was very inexperienced in both cooking and baking. Although I had baked muffins and cookies, I had never baked more practical items such as bread and rolls. This would take yet more research and experimentation, especially when it came to yeast bread. No-knead breads were becoming popular at that time, though, and so I was in luck. Indeed, here was something domestic that was easy; my husband certainly appreciated having fresh bread with his meals. It was only later that I learned how to make fresh bread the old-fashioned way, with lots of elbow grease and loving care.

So now that I’m middle-aged, I will wholeheartedly admit that the skills related to cooking have become my most useful. All of my knowledge of English and American literature would not be able to feed my husband and myself. I have since moved on from these cooking basics to food storage and whole wheat baking, but those early casseroles provided me with the foundation for more advanced kitchen adventures.

Marriage would have been much easier, however, if I had learned to fry up that bacon beforehand, or simply even taken an interest in it. Having a kind husband with a sense of humor—and a strong stomach—made the process of learning to cook a bit easier, though.

C.S. Lewis on Love

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Geek Love

Original Photo by  PMaz on Morguefile.com
Original Photo by PMaz on Morguefile.com

I’ll admit it. I’m not your typical romance-loving girl. In fact, I generally hate that genre. You could call me a nerd girl, one who is in love with science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction. It hasn’t exactly made me “one of the girls,” but geek guys generally enjoy a woman who can jump into the Kirk vs. Picard argument or discuss the intricacies of the themes presented in Battlestar Galactica.

My dad can certainly take credit for making me what I am today. Even as a kid, I remember hearing “Solyent Green is people!” For that, he received Solyent Green crackers for this past Father’s Day. Too he took us to see all of the latest scifi flicks, including Star Trek I and Star Wars. My growing love of Star Trek: The Next Generation renewed his interest in scifi at that time, and so we began reading all of the Star Trek novels from all generations. We later began to attend scifi conventions and thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie that we found there.

My love of science fiction didn’t end when I left home, however. I joined a group of geeks to travel down to Texas to see the latest Star Wars film in one of the few digital theatres of the time. I went on to meet other geeks who introduced me to Photoshop, hobby rockets, and gaming. Being with the geek guys was fun and comfortable.

It was later that I met my husband, the ultimate in geeks. He has been immersed in the geek/computer culture since the 1980’s. While I was studying German and English literature, he was building and growing a BBS. Computers, the internet, virtual worlds, and gaming became his life and passion.

Loving a geek guy is a bit different than your regular husband. Becoming married can be something like an intensive foreign language course. I became immersed in the world of LAN parties, computer partitions, and cyberpunk. Later came Second Life and now, Ingress. Our marriage can be a bit odd at times—whether it’s hearing about the locations of different “portals” in his augmented reality or the ongoing fight of Dr. Who vs. Star Trek, our conversations often have a bit of a Matrix feel.

However, our love remains the same, and our devotion is solid. We may not agree on the best scifi television show—it’s Star Trek—but we love each other. And in a world like ours, that can often be a greater victory than defeating the Death Star.

Rejection

grantburkebox

We all have to learn how to deal with rejection in some fashion. Whether it is a “thanks but no thanks” email from an HR department to which you’ve sent an application or a betrayal by someone you love, rejection hurts and finding positive ways to cope with continued abandonment can be a challenge for even the strongest of us.

Lately I have experienced rejection in all of its different and interesting facets–automatic emails from companies thanking me for my interest in a position that has just been filled, the loss of friends and acquaintances due to drama not even associated with me, and public humiliation at the hands of another. It has been a difficult month, to say the least.

As Burke says in the quote included with this post, experiencing rejection can lead to introspection and self-evaluation. Being afraid of loss or abandonment will not lead to a mature outlook, and it just isn’t reasonable. It will come into our lives, no matter who we might be. And often it will not be as a result of anything we have done. Persecution and the feelings of rejection that result are a part of life. How we deal with rejection is another matter.

Personally, I have found that a realization of the fallen nature of our world helps. We know that this world and the people in it–including ourselves–are not as we should be. There is evil in the world, and I have seen a small portion of it in my own little corner of the universe. A strong statement? Perhaps. Any look at the actions of people throughout history and in our current events might confirm this. We all have a fallen nature and need salvation; then can the goodness of Him who is greater than we are help us to act in a kinder, more loving fashion.

Too I have a stubborn streak. I will not be chased away from a difficult situation. As we experience difficult feelings and are forced to rely on ourselves, we either discover an inner strength or capitulate. I think of what my grandparents must have gone through during the Great Depression as well as the many Christians facing persecution across the globe, and I will not back down.

Does it hurt? Darn tootin’. But in this time of trial I have found an unexpected and wonderful group who are providing me with support. Their kindness and the love of my family help me to stand. With the evil of this world, there is goodness. And with that shared goodness there is strength.