Attempt Two

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been reminded over the last several weeks that moving is one of the most stressful things in life. Evidently, on the stress scale, it falls just behind death and divorce. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard.

But as my husband, Doug, and I prepare to move on Saturday, I believe it.

Without a doubt, moving is stressful. In fact, it’s one of the most stressful experiences we’ve encountered in our married life, something that’s been evident in the higher than normal number of arguments Doug and I have had over the last month and in the fact that rather than show one another patience and grace, lately, we’ve been extremely quick to pick fights with each other.

Because of this, I haven’t exactly been looking forward to Valentine’s Day. In fact, this year, Valentine’s Day has just felt like one more source of stress during an already insanely stressful season of life.

I was still thinking about this today as I sat down at my desk to do some work. When I did, I noticed a card recently unearthed in the packing process that simply says “Attempt #2. Love, Doug.”

It’s a card from Valentine’s Day two years ago, when Doug failed at gift giving, something he rarely does since he takes great pride in giving me the most perfect, unexpected, delightful gifts.

Two years ago, the perfect, unexpected, delightful gift Doug planned for me was the creation of this website.

The only problem is I hated it. I didn’t want this particular gift. But how do you return a website that your husband built and designed for you himself?

So I kept it.

But Doug knew I was disappointed in his gift. So a few days later, he showed up at home with attempt #2: A stuffed bear and flowers, two generic gifts that I love.

Within a couple weeks, though, the flowers died and the cute bear found its way to a shelf with a dozen other bears.

But about six months later, I remembered Doug’s original gift and thought, “I’ve always wanted to write. Let’s give this blogging thing a try.”

And so I did and I found that I love it. I love writing – both the creativity and the discipline of it. I love the chance to share ideas. I love the process of discovery and I love what I learn about both myself and God as I write.

Of course, Doug has known this about me for a long time. And so he created the most perfect, unexpected, delightful gift for me – long before I was even ready for it. Doug did so because he knows me, in a way that few people do.

Perhaps that’s why today, in the midst of stressing over packing and schoolwork and work, when I saw the card saying, “Attempt #2” all I could do was cry – out of thankfulness for a husband and a partner who knows me, understands me, and truly embodies Christ to me.

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

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