Happy birthday, Abe!

Sunday was Abe’s thirty-fourth birthday. Am I so glad he made it to 34! I’m constantly in thinking-about-the-worst-that-could-happen mode, and usually the worst thing that I could imagine happening to me, personally, is if Abe died. Wow, that’s a morbid way to start a happy birthday post!

In a roundabout, macabre way, I am trying to say that Abe is my most favorite person, and he is also one of the greatest people to have ever graced the face of this planet. Posterity, if you happen to be reading this and didn’t ever get to know Abe, please know that I am not even exaggerating. He is really that amazing.

Why, you might ask, is he that amazing? Well, he’s an incredible husband, for one thing. When I was flat on my back last week from illness in Mexico, Abe sat by my side for the entire day and refused my repeated requests that he leave and at least feed himself. He did not eat until I felt well enough to eat a couple bites of fruit at 8pm, at which point he ordered fruit to the room and ate some with me. After that, I went to bed for the night and he finally, finally left for his first real meal of the day–around 9pm. SO: he’s devoted, loyal, and so kind.

Also, he’s forgiving. When he performed the marriage of our dear friends, the Hongs, Abe also gave the most beautiful sermon on marriage. My favorite line from the sermon was “Forgive, forgive, forgive.” The reason he probably included that in the sermon was because he has so much practice at forgiving in our marriage! In over seven years, I have never seen him hold a grudge, ever. The minute I have ever asked for forgiveness for my (frequent) displays of bad behavior, Abe has always, always immediately forgiven me.

I’m not talking about the kind of forgiveness where the person says, “I forgive you,” but then continues to feel resentful on the inside and still behaves in passive aggressive ways. I’m describing a forgiveness that is genuine and so heartfelt that I always feel his sincerity and love for me–immediately! It’s a miracle and it’s unbelievable.

Usually Abe even pre-empts my asking for forgiveness by literally holding out his hand to me so that we can hold hands. It is a risky move because sometimes I am too annoyed to gracefully accept the gesture and have been known to ignore him or pull away. Despite that, he continues to take risks and extend his hand whenever there’s a chill in the air. And I can probably count on one hand the number of times that chill started in his corner.

The other day I asked Lydia if she had ever seen Mommy and Daddy fight, and she looked at me, confused.

“Do you mean the grown-up fighting that’s nice fighting? Like ‘I’ll do it!’ ‘No, I’ll do it!’ type of fighting?” she asked.

“No! I mean real fighting, the kind where people are mad at each other. Have you ever seen Mommy and Daddy get mad at each other?”

“No,” she said simply.

Now, Abe and I suffer the occasional chilly moment, but honestly, it has been a very smooth, easy seven years. And I attribute that all to Abe. That’s not false modesty or humility or anything like that–it really is Abe being a tremendous spouse. If I were married to someone with a temperament like mine, let’s just say it this way: We would not still be together, and Lydia DEFINITELY would have witnessed at least a few loud fights.

Just as he forgives on the spot, Abe also gives others the benefit of the doubt.  Abe looks at people and finds their goodness. He talks about their goodness. He doesn’t gossip or even verbally insinuate that other people have weaknesses that he would like to talk about. He’s just not interested in putting other people down because, as far as I can observe, he’s not seeing things to put down. He looks around and sees a world filled with kind, friendly people who bless his life. That outlook is both a gift and a virtue, and it’s one I hope and pray our kids inherit from him.

Also, Abe is an eternal optimist. This trait can actually be annoying to someone like me, who is always seeing gloom and doom everywhere.

I’m all: “We’re all so sick! I hate winter. The air here is so bad. Life is so haaaarrrd. UGH.” Closes eyes and collapses in bed. 

Abe’s all: “But we’re getting better! The winter’s been so warm. It’s almost spring! Aren’t our children beautiful? Can I give you a massage?”

Which is when I stare at him, mouth agape. Yesterday he continued in this vein so far as to say that if it weren’t for my health, he would want a new child every year because he is so pleased with ours. All I’ll say about that one is that again, we have very different thought patterns.

Above all, Abe loves God with all of his heart. Abe has no time to himself, and that is something I hope we change soon. But in the seven years we’ve been married, Abe has never had much (if any) time to himself, and whenever he finds a crack of space, he fills it with scripture study, prayer, and spiritual journalling. His scriptures can be found all around the house because he totes them to the dinner table, and from there to the couch, and from there to our closet, and from there to bed. He loves to think and talk about the gospel, because the things of God are what are closest to his heart. I love talking about the gospel with Abe because he is the wisest person I have ever met.

And yet he’s still fun! Abe has the craziest, silliest moments with the kids, who love having a fun and funny dad. He has dance parties with them, gives them rides, tosses them in the air, and loves playing with them. The other day my mom and I were talking about how much we hate the snow, and Lydia asked why.

“Most grown-ups don’t like dealing with the snow, ” I said.

“But dad loves the snow! He even plays in it by himself!” she cried.

“You’re dad’s a kid,” my mom and I replied in unison.

Lydia stopped and looked at us, confused. We then explained that Abe is a kid at heart.

He’s not just silly with the kids. He’s silly with me, too. He makes me laugh every day, multiple times a day. Oftentimes his humor with me is, um, different than his humor with the kids. But trust me, he’s hysterical and such a fun husband…and that’s all I’ll say about that.

Basically, Posterity, you might be wondering now whether Abe is actually a perfect person or if I am just prone to speaking in manic hyperbole when the subject is my husband. Maybe you’re wondering if Abe secretly beats me because I sing his praises so much that I need to butter him up to protect myself–or at least I have some other covert reason for always writing about how great he is.

Believe me when I say: Abe is perfect to me and for me. As people go, I can’t imagine they get much (if any) better than Abe. Does he have weaknesses? Yes, he does, and to prove I am not painting a Picasso-esque, distorted picture of my husband, I will list the very first faults that come to mind here too. Happy birthday, Honey!! 🙂

I listed five traits to demonstrate his amazingness: 1. He’s an awesome husband, 2. He performs the spiritual alchemy of forgiveness with regularity, 3. He is an optimist, 4. He loves God above all, and 5. He’s so, so fun.  I’ll try to list five faults to even it out.

  1. Abe lacks a sense of direction. We almost always make at least one wrong turn when we leave the house, even if we are headed someplace we have been many times. This is probably because, as stated before, Abe has no free time. When he is in the car, he grabs at the opportunity to go to God in thought, and he sometimes forgets to make the right turn in the process.
  2. Abe has a hard time remembering names. So do I. If you struggle with names, Posterity, maybe you got it from us!!
  3. Abe runs life at a very hard pace, and so he can get very tired and stressed as a result.
  4. Ummmmm….I’m honestly, honestly racking my brain here. Abe runs late? He actually does, and now after being married to him, I do too. I kind of feel like the pot calling the kettle black, but I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel, so gotta do whatcha gotta do.
  5. Abe’s too nice??? He gives people the right of way even if he has the right of way, which then leads to me rolling my eyes and making an annoyed huffing sound, which then leads Abe to holding out his hand and everything described in positive trait #1. I suppose this can still fit down here though because being too nice is not necessarily the best trait for a salesman. (Or at least it’s not a highly valued trait in sales culture.) At any rate, it’s all I can think of and I’ve been trying desperately to think of negative things for a while. Time to move on!

As you can see, Abe is a remarkable person. I had to think long and hard to figure out some of his faults, but honestly, I could roll out an untold more number of  positive traits and explain how those all describe Abe perfectly. He is the most wonderful husband and father, and I can’t wait to share the next thirty-four years (and the thirty four after that, too, please!) writing long, adoring posts about him on his birthday. He’s just the best.

Happy birthday, Abe!!!

P.S. I had a moment of panic envisioning my Posterity reading this feeling bad if your marriage or spouse is less than perfect. I guess I always grew up thinking marriage would be a lot harder than mine has been, and that is partly why my marriage to Abe is such a source of wonder and delight to me. But I think there are lots of possible dynamics in a good marriage, and I hope the dynamics of my marriage won’t cause any self-doubt in yours! We’re all just here making our way through the best we can, and I pray all the time that my children and Posterity will be blessed and all find spouses as magnificent as Abe.

Abe loved how Lydia spelled “congratulations.”

Lydia sewed this stuffed animal for Abe. My mom helped her for the three hours it took for Lydia to do this. Didn’t it come out so adorable??
While Lydia was sewing away, Mary patiently waited for an opportunity to ask Nana to tie this scrap of fabric for her so she could make her daddy a tie for his birthday.

The girls drew a bunch of “treats” for Abe.