Tag Archive for marriage

A 10-Year Anniversary Photographic Journey

Our Wedding Day_6.15.2002

Today marks the tenth anniver­sary of the day I said, “I will,” to my hus­band Shane Pey­ton Alexan­der. Since that moment, we have lived in five dif­fer­ent cities and eight dif­fer­ent homes. We have earned three advanced degrees, worked with four churches, and made many new friends. We have had three chil­dren and got­ten a dog. We have lost two grand­par­ents. Our par­ents have started new careers, or retired from old ones. We have been able to travel by our­selves almost every year, thanks to the grand­par­ents. We have had dif­fi­cult times. We have had won­der­ful times. We still love to talk about base­ball, take walks together, and laugh. We do not get to see near as many movies as we did or be by our­selves as much as we’d like, but we are happy. We are still stub­born, but we have learned to give in to each other. We are a good team (read Shane’s recent post about our mar­riage here). We are thank­ful for each other.

For today’s post, I decided to take a walk back through these 10 years by post­ing some pic­tures of us together (As the years have gone on, it was dif­fi­cult to find pic­tures of just the two of us!). I’ve included the year and the city we were liv­ing in at the time.

Wed­ding Day: June 15, 2002.
We were liv­ing in Abi­lene, Texas, when we got mar­ried, where I was fin­ish­ing up a Master’s degree in Eng­lish at ACU. Shane had just grad­u­ated with his Mas­ter of Divin­ity a few weeks prior. We got mar­ried in the Hous­ton church where I grew up. Five weeks after our wed­ding day, we were liv­ing in Louisville, Ken­tucky, and I was begin­ning my Ph.D.

Leaving the church

This was my first time to ride in a limo, which is sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing I used to want to own one when I was a young girl.

Year One (2002–2003). Louisville, KY.

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander in the snow 2012

Snow in Louisville…in November!

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander at UofL 2003

On UofL’s campus.We loved Louisville and the peo­ple we met while we were there.

Year Two (2004). Louisville, KY.

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander, 2004

This pic­ture was taken at my sis­ter Kellee’s rehearsal din­ner. We always loved excuses to come back to Texas!

Year Three (2005). Gatesville, TX.

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander, 2005

Here I am, six months preg­nant with our first child. We are on a “baby­moon” trip to San Diego with some friends from col­lege. I had fin­ished my com­pre­hen­sive exams and was writ­ing my dis­ser­ta­tion at the time.

Year Four (2006). Gatesville, TX.

Dr. Kara Poe Alexander and Family_2006

I grad­u­ated with my Ph.D in May 2006 and started work­ing at Bay­lor in August 2006. I couldn’t find a pic­ture of just me and Shane of that day, so here’s almost one-year-old Eliz­a­beth with us.

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander, 2006Before I started work­ing at Bay­lor, Shane and I took a trip to see my dad in Wash­ing­ton D.C. He gave us a tour of the U.S. Capi­tol, and here we are at the very top of the rotunda, after tak­ing hun­dreds and hun­dreds of steps to get to the top. We did not feel very safe stand­ing here, and the peo­ple looked like lit­tle bugs down below. I wrote this blog post about our trip. Whew. I’m feel­ing anx­ious just remem­ber­ing the height!

Year Five (2007). Gatesville, TX.

This pic­ture was taken dur­ing our 10-day trip to Italy, our gift to our­selves for me grad­u­at­ing with my Ph.D. in 2006 and him being so sup­port­ive, flex­i­ble, and encour­ag­ing dur­ing this time.

Year Six (2008). Waco, TX.

2008_Shane and Kara Poe Alexander

This pic­ture was taken on our actual anniver­sary. Pey­ton, our sec­ond baby, was born three months prior. We went out to din­ner at a nice restau­rant in town.

Year Seven (2009). Waco, TX.

Port Aransas 2009

We like going to the beach dur­ing the sum­mer, espe­cially with the kids. I grew up going to South Padre Island every year because my grand­mother only lived 30 min­utes away. This pic­ture was taken dur­ing our trip to Port Aransas with Shane’s family.

Year Eight (2010). Mexia, TX.

At Fenway Park

Here we are in Boston at Fen­way Park. The Texas Rangers were play­ing the Red Sox the night we were there. We’ve been to four other parks together where we’ve seen the Astros (my favorite team) play (Mil­wau­kee, Cincin­nati, Arling­ton, and Hous­ton). Hope­fully, we’ll get to go to many more base­ball parks together!

Year Nine (2011). Mexia, TX.

2011_Shane and Kara Poe Alexander

Here I am eight months preg­nant with Levi and at the beach with the fam­ily. This pic­ture was taken at Galveston.

Year Ten (2012). Mexia, TX.

Kara Poe Alexander and Shane Alexander_2012

Here is the most recent pic­ture taken of us together back in March.

Here’s to many more won­der­ful years together.


Inventing a Winning Machine

Ear­lier this week, I was look­ing through my 1st grade daughter’s back­pack and found a piece of paper from school with Elizabeth’s writ­ing. Eliz­a­beth wrote the following:

My inven­tion is the mushen that can make you win evry game. I invented the mushen that can make you win evry game.”

Children Racing Black and White

Image cour­tesy State Library by New South Wales. Flickr’s Cre­ative Com­mons License.

Two sen­tences. Two sen­tences that reveal a lot about my daugh­ter. Eliz­a­beth likes to win. She doesn’t like to lose. When given the oppor­tu­nity to imag­ine a machine to invent that would make life bet­ter, eas­ier, she chose a tech­nol­ogy that would make win­ning at every­thing pos­si­ble. (Of course, there are prob­lems with such a tool, because some­one has to lose, right?)

(Funny note: One of my friends told me that her inven­tion already exists; it’s called “The Bribe.” Ha!)

Eliz­a­beth comes by this desire hon­estly (just like she does her stub­born­ness, inde­pen­dence, and strong-willedness). She gets it from me. I like to win. But if I could invent such a machine, I would want the oppo­site of her; I would want some­thing that would never allow me to lose. Because, yes, I like to win, but even more than that, I don’t like to lose.

When Shane and I first moved to Louisville, Ken­tucky (we had prob­a­bly been mar­ried 4 months), my dad was mak­ing a speech in Indi­anapo­lis and we drove up to see him. It’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive to the city. We picked him up at the air­port and walked around down­town for a while, vis­it­ing the stat­ues, parks, and other out­door sights. Indi­anapo­lis has such a lovely feel. We ate din­ner and then were head­ing back to the car (after sev­eral hours of walk­ing around).

On the way back to the car, Shane was argu­ing with me about the route we were tak­ing back to the car. He said the car was the other way; I said it was not, that we were headed in the right direc­tion. This was ten years ago, well before GPS and Smart Phones. Shane kept insist­ing that we were going the com­plete wrong way. He decided to ask my dad what he thought.

My dad told him that he thought we were headed in the wrong direc­tion (my way) and that he thought Shane was right and that we had come from the other direction.

Then my dad paused and said, “But I’m going to just keep fol­low­ing her. I learned a long time ago that you don’t argue with Kara. Even when I dis­agree with her about stuff like this, I have learned to go with it. Why? Because Kara is never wrong. Really, she is always right. But, if she IS wrong, then we can give her a hard time.”

We all burst out into laugh­ter. It was a les­son from the father-in-law to the son-in-law. My daughter/your wife is right.

At this point, I started second-guessing myself. I kept walk­ing the way I thought was the way to the car, and, voila, I WAS RIGHT. We found the car, and, whew, I wasn’t wrong.

I don’t like to be wrong. I don’t like to lose. It comes from lik­ing to play games, just like Eliz­a­beth does. Card games. Board games. Sports games. I’m com­pet­i­tive. I don’t like to lose.

When I win, I don’t gloat. I don’t cel­e­brate. I don’t “rejoice” (this is the term I use for ath­letes when they start gal­li­vant­ing down the court after mak­ing a bas­ket or a touch­down, espe­cially when they’re on the OTHER team, and I don’t want to see such cel­e­bra­tion!). Instead, I act like I’ve been there before.

Because I have. I have won lots of things. Small things. Big things. Things that mat­ter. Things that don’t. Things that had major con­se­quences for me in terms of schol­ar­ships, pres­tige, fame, and recognition.

[L]losing draws on my inse­cu­ri­ties of not being good enough, not being smart enough, not being able to do it all. Los­ing hurts. And it hurts real bad. Not when I lose a card game, but when I lose big things.

[One side­note: It is inter­est­ing when I play games with other peo­ple, which I love to do, they ALWAYS strive to beat me. They gang up on me so that I will lose. They tar­get me (in Hearts, Double-9 domi­noes, Monop­oly, etc.) so that I will lose first. Then, they make big shows of it when they win. They rub it in. They jump up and down. They cel­e­brate. They “rejoice.” I guess that’s what I get for being com­pet­i­tive and win­ning a lot. I can take it. It’s just a game, right?]

But win­ning isn’t what moti­vates me; what moti­vates me is NOT los­ing. I’m sure there’s a lot of com­plex­i­ties going on in this state­ment, but let me just say that los­ing draws on my inse­cu­ri­ties of not being good enough, not being smart enough, not being able to do it all. Los­ing hurts. And it hurts real bad. Not when I lose a card game, but when I lose big things.

When an arti­cle I’ve writ­ten gets rejected.

When I don’t get a grant or sab­bat­i­cal for which I’ve applied.

When I don’t get a posi­tion for which I’ve applied.

When I receive a set of neg­a­tive teacher evaluations.

When some­one says some­thing neg­a­tive about me.

When I com­pare myself to other moms. 

When my chil­dren mis­be­have and dis­obey me.

When I fail as a Christian.

My iden­tity is wrapped up in NOT los­ing. And when I do lose, it hurts. So, if Eliz­a­beth could invent that machine, I would buy it. But I don’t think it would be enough to con­front the under­ly­ing inse­cu­ri­ties of losing.

 


Letting Go of Superwoman: Beginning the Process

Superwoman graphicI was at one of my rou­tine doc­tor appoint­ments last year, preg­nant with Levi. After hear­ing the baby’s heart­beat and fin­ish­ing the exam, my doc­tor, who was now see­ing me through my third (and final) preg­nancy, asked me how I was doing, how I was feel­ing about life and moth­er­hood and work and all the other com­mit­ments I have.

She has known me for sev­eral years, since the time before I took a tenure-track job, when I was just writ­ing my dis­ser­ta­tion. She is in her late 50s/early 60s and is the best doc­tor I’ve ever had (Shane even told her that he wishes she could be his doc­tor!).

I guess I looked stressed out or overwhelmed—I don’t know. But before I knew it, words and tears and emo­tions came gush­ing out, like water from an unmanned fire hydrant.

I feel guilty, this is what I told her.

Guilt in regards to my chil­dren: about being a work­ing mom; about not being there at some of their school events; about not tak­ing them to or pick­ing them up from school because I have an hour com­mute each day; about being so tired when I’m home; about being on my com­puter too much; about work­ing too much from home; about not being present when I’m with them; about yelling or scream­ing or being unforgiving.

Guilt.

Guilt in regards to my job: about hav­ing a fam­ily; about hav­ing chil­dren that pre­vent me from being as pro­duc­tive as some other of my col­leagues; about liv­ing so far away.

Guilt.

Guilt in regards to my hus­band: about him hav­ing to fill so many of the typ­i­cal “moth­er­hood” roles, such as doing the laun­dry, doing the dishes, putting the kids to bed, or cart­ing the kids to and from school each day, par­tic­u­larly when he did not ask for that or expect it (he is won­der­ful!); about every con­ver­sa­tion we have being about tenure; about being so exhausted in the evening that I fall asleep dur­ing a movie we’re watch­ing together; about him being the go-to par­ent so much of the time; about not hav­ing time to go out on dates (which we love to do); about being stressed, mean, rude, and selfish.

Guilt.

Guilt in regards to my sis­ters, fam­ily, and friends: about not keep­ing in touch bet­ter; about not being there more when I want to be; about tak­ing for­ever to send thank-you cards, or not even send­ing them at all; about not see­ing them as often as I like; about not notic­ing when they are strug­gling or going through a hard time; about not call­ing to say hi.

Guilt.

Guilt in regards to my house: about its messy state; about the clutter.

Guilt.

Guilt in regards to my role as a preacher’s wife: about not being able to teach Bible class because I have no time to prep; about not cook­ing a home­made meal each week for potluck; about not sign­ing up for nurs­ery duty because my hus­band needs me to be in there lis­ten­ing and sup­port­ing him as he preaches; about not fit­ting the typ­i­cal preacher’s wife role (what­ever that is); about being shy.

Guilt.

Guilt in regards to my body: about being over­weight; about using food to sti­fle my emo­tions; about not hav­ing time to exer­cise; about my body chang­ing through 3 preg­nan­cies and 2 c-sections.

Guilt.

Guilt in regards to my rela­tion­ship with God: about not pray­ing or read­ing the Bible as often as I desire; about going for weeks with­out even talk­ing to God; about won­der­ing who God is; about doubt, doubt­ing cer­tain things I grew up believ­ing but that I now question.

Guilt.

About every­thing.

Think­ing and talk­ing through many of the ways I was feel­ing guilty didn’t take too long (she is a busy doc­tor after all). When I was done, she said she under­stood. But she also told me to stop. Stop feel­ing so guilty about things. Just stop, she said. Stop feel­ing guilty about not liv­ing up to my own or society’s  expec­ta­tions of what makes a good mom, wife, employee, or friend. She pointed out that I wasn’t Super­woman; no woman is. And, yet, we all think we need to be her in order to be loved, admired, respected, or valued.

Her words res­onated with me. I went home from the doc­tor feel­ing bet­ter. I resolved not to feel guilty. My chil­dren love me, my hus­band loves me, my par­ents love me, my friends and fam­ily love me.

I can give up my per­fec­tion­ist ten­den­cies. I can­not do it all; I am not Super­woman. I can just be myself—that’s all I can be. But I don’t have to feel guilty anymore.


Up In the Clouds or Down on the Ground: When Marriage Is Difficult

A few weeks ago I was on the couch read­ing a book. My hus­band was sit­ting on the other couch read­ing a book. We had been there a while when I glanced over at my hus­band. The title of the book caught my eye. Here is what I saw.

What If I Married the Wrong Person?

(Of course, I didn’t take a pic­ture of him actu­ally read­ing the book, so this pic­ture will have to suffice.)

Before I had a chance to process the title of the book, he caught my eye and smiled. Then he began giggling.

I asked, “WHAT are you reading?”

Appar­ently, one of his men­tors was clear­ing out some of his books and my husband–hilarious as always–couldn’t resist tak­ing this one. He and a friend even brain­stormed all the ways I should “dis­cover” this book, even antic­i­pat­ing how I would react when I saw it.

Know­ing the two of them, I laughed. It was a joke. He got the book as a joke. He doesn’t think that about me (whew!).

For sev­eral weeks since, I have been won­der­ing about this book.  It’s been sit­ting on the counter for a while. Lin­ger­ing. Wait­ing for one of us to read it. We still haven’t, and I don’t know if we will. But, I finally put it on the book­shelf next to C.S. Lewis, our Bibles, and some library books (for now). Guests perus­ing our book­shelf will see this…

What If I Married the Wrong Person? Bookshelf

I won­der what they will think when they notice the title.

I haven’t read the book, nor do I think I will, but I do think the book poses an inter­est­ing question,

“What if I mar­ried the wrong person?”

The week before I got mar­ried, I was rid­ing in the car with a female men­tor of mine. She had been mar­ried for almost 30 years at the time. She told me, “Kara, one day, you may regret your deci­sion to marry Shane. You may come to a point where you do not love your hus­band. You may want a divorce. You may become resent­ful, or angry, or dis­con­tent. And I want to tell you that it’s okay. At var­i­ous points through­out my mar­riage, I felt this way, too.”

As a per­son a few days shy of get­ting mar­ried, this con­ver­sa­tion, frankly, shocked and sur­prised me (yes, I was naive). I couldn’t believe that this woman I admired and sought to emu­late had felt this way about her hus­band. She always seemed so happy in her mar­riage. She respected, admired, and pub­licly demon­strated her love and devo­tion to her husband.

But she had gone through low times, too. She wanted me to know that if (or when) I felt this way to remem­ber that I was not alone. Oth­ers had been there.

My friend pro­ceeded to reveal to me what she did dur­ing these times.

She prayed.

She prayed for her hus­band.
She prayed for her­self.
She prayed that God would help her focus on the things she first loved about her hus­band.
She prayed that God would help her fall back in love with her hus­band.
She prayed that God would keep her com­mit­ted to her hus­band, even when her heart did not feel it.

I can­not count how many times I have come back to this con­ver­sa­tion through­out my soon-to-be 10 years of marriage.

I have remem­bered her words. 

When I was hurt by my hus­band.
When my expec­ta­tions were not met.
When I was dis­ap­pointed.
When I wanted to be alone.
When I was depressed and lonely and sad.
When I dis­liked some­thing about my husband.

I remem­bered: Per­haps my imme­di­ate sit­u­a­tion will not change, but, through prayer, the way I feel about it can change. I can’t con­trol what my spouse does; I can con­trol my reac­tion. I can con­trol my feel­ings about him. I can still choose to love him.

My friend may never know how much her words impacted me. And as I was soon to learn, mar­riage is not easy. But, my friend’s will­ing­ness to share some­thing so per­sonal, so real, has been a source of encour­age­ment to me again and again. You see, her words taught me, first, to take my strug­gles to God. And, sec­ond, to look at myself…the only per­son in the mar­riage I can control.

Note: I don’t mean to triv­i­al­ize mar­riage or the real dif­fi­culty of mak­ing mar­riage work. Mar­riage is hard. It, lit­er­ally, takes two peo­ple to work. I know many peo­ple who have tried for years to work on their mar­riage, only to be met with abuse, affairs, or an unwill­ing, unbend­ing spouse. I only point out here that being hon­est and real about marriage–rather than idealistic–can make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of young peo­ple about to embark on the jour­ney.