3 Ways Marriage Ruined My Picture of Marriage

Before Hannah and I were married, we sat down more than a few times to talk through the issues we thought we were bringing into marriage. Yet, as we talked through what we thought might be problems, we realized that we didn’t have all that many assumptions about marriage. We’d heard many couples talk about the assumptions that they brought to marriage, and it scared us a little:

One friend’s husband assumed that she would pick the chicken out of the chicken noodle soup, just like his mom did. No such luck.

Another friend assumed that her husband would listen, so much better than her father did. He didn’t.

So we decided to talk through, or ditch as many assumptions as we could before we got married. However, we’re learning that marriage is just like the overused onion metaphor- you’re constantly peeling back layers (and crying a lot).

1). We Thought We Would Feel Married
Both of us assumed that we would somehow feel instantly married when the rings went on our fingers and we had our first kiss- as if suddenly there would be a flash of light and we would be man and wife. We got married, walked back down the aisle and felt exactly like we had before. Two different people, totally married, and totally individual. I felt like a single man with a ring on my finger and a hot woman by my side- good, but slightly confused! To be totally honest, growing in marriage and becoming one is just another process, something that takes time.

2). We Thought Sex Would be Easy

Movies, books and TV Shows portray sex as something that is always 100% instantaneous and fun, and even the church aids this picture by encouraging couples to be servants to each other in every area of life. While the church is correct, nobody really says that this is a process or something that you have to work at. Let’s put it simply: you don’t drive 10 MPH your entire life, and then suddenly decide to go 80 MPH. Something has to change, and your view of sex has to be healthy, in order for you maintain a healthy sexual relationship with your spouse.

3). We Thought Things Wouldn’t be a Big Deal

Hannah and I aren’t big fighters. I’m really easy going, and she likes to resolve things quickly, so when we were dating, we didn’t fight very often. We went into business together after we got engaged, and found just how well we worked together, as well as how we handled stress (both poorly and well). What we didn’t know was exactly how we would act being together 24/7. Everything tends to be a little bit more of a big deal, and we try to engage each other, because living with another person means learning to live with them. 

Marriage is in the process of shattering the picture of marriage that I always had in my head, because I thought marriage would be easy. It isn’t, but it’s always good.

The bottom line is something that we’ve known throughout our relationship: We’re constantly morphing, changing and as Christians, conforming to the image of God. This new thing called, “being married” is hard, but it’s also filled with the humbling experience of learning to serve each other in everything that we do. It’s filled with opportunities to represent Christ to each other in every action, and show a much bigger picture of who He is, through who we are.

Our Pictures Aren’t Perfect. Our Reality Isn’t Either.

Hannah and I wake up early to start the shoot. We eat breakfast together, scrambled eggs, dusted with garlic, pepper and sea salt, mixed with sauteed onions and sprinkled with strings of cheddar cheese. We split an avocado. “These things really are happy food,” she states. I mention something about them literally effecting your mind. I can’t remember the details, but I think they stimulate your neurotransmitters. We pray and eat, and it is good.

We’re shooting in my parent’s kitchen, and there isn’t a huge amount of real light that comes in on the dark-stained wood counters, so we grab an old table, prop open the back door, and wedge it into place in a large shaft of defused sunlight. We’ve decided to tackle three recipes today, and we pretty much ban everyone else from using the door until we’re done. It’s going to take all day.

Unless you’ve worked in photography for a number of years, you don’t have any idea how much work goes into one shot. Look at the crepe cake, or the banana ice cream recipe– each photo in those articles took well over an hour to prepare. The crepe cake took the better part of five hours to make, style and finally grab a few good shots, not to mention the post processing that goes into every picture.


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Preparing a beautiful drip of lemon curd for Hearth Magazine.


Mid-afternoon, we’ve been shooting Jam all day long. We realize that we’re missing ingredients and Hannah is about to melt. We somehow pull ourselves together, bundle into the car, and drive down the road to a fruit and vegetable stand. Plum jam goes in the book, because cherries are out of season, and we can’t find them anywhere. Somehow Taylor Swift ends up on the radio and we blast the song as loud as we can just to get a little energy flowing. “Trouble, trouble, trouble!” We’re laughing, because we’re both not Taylor fans, but we’re exhausted and it’s only 2 p.m. We don’t just take pictures because it’s on the schedule-for us, it’s a way to preserve life. It’s our way of capturing all those years that we had in the kitchen with our parents.

Here’s the schedule: cook the food, style the food, shoot the food, clean up after ourselves and then get ready to cull the photos, print the photos, cull the photos again, and finally fall into our own beds for a well-deserved sleep. This is hard work and there are some things that taste amazing, but don’t look half-way appetizing on camera. We want to be honest, and let you know that we aren’t perfect. Part of being authentic, is being imperfect. Part of being genuine, is showing we aren’t a standard.


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Left, a non-edited spread of lemon curd, and cream scones. Right, a richer color, a few well placed crumbs and a lot less table cracks


There isn’t any standard. Recognizing this is so important to how you view yourself and your creative work. If you take a picture, and it doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen on Pinterest or on one of those fancy food blogs that you love to visit, don’t be surprised. Photographers take pictures of the best food. We take pictures of the best sides of the best food. We scatter crumbs on the table, and then in post, we edit them out. We do this in an effort to present the most beautiful rendition of what we see, the most perfectly remembered piece of cake.

Every picture you see has been modified to some extent, to present reality in the best possible light. In truth, this creates a sub-reality, one that isn’t even possible to achieve. There isn’t anything wrong with this new created reality, but it easily breeds discontent and frustration with true reality. Hundreds of boards across Pinterest make this point exceeding clear: You’re missing something. You’re missing the perfect moment, the perfect coloring. Feel that longing? It will be satisfied if you just. do. more. Subtle lies are spoken and we believe.

But there is truth: None of us are perfect. We just aren’t. We aren’t a standard. We don’t deserve to be held up as a banner for the work that we do. We’re imperfect people in a broken world, drawn to perfection for one reason: to point us to the perfection of the Son. We strive to create perfection in a subconscious effort towards something greater than what we have.

Hannah and I put away the cameras, and do another load of dishes. Our best memories are made cooking in the kitchen together without trying to create a masterpiece, and as we roast asparagus together, kiss in the kitchen, and rub each-others sore backs, we find that imperfect-perfection: being simply satisfied in what He has given us.

A Poem for 365 Days

Hannah and I celebrate a year together, today. For all that captivates us about each other, there is more. More of Him through us, and more of all that He has made.

summerclouds

Blowing, warm, summer wind,

haze across the fields where,

pitched mounds of hay

lie for bringing in.

Carry me to her, with your billows

and your peaks of rose-tinged clouds,

with your milkweed-blooming,

cottonwood-floating, honeysuckle-breeze.

Through summer nights, carry me,

down past the worn stump,

and the soft fields of tall plants,

grassy slope waiting for us to lie,

and watch Draco, Polaris, Ursa.

Peering up at the skies,

soaking silence and marveling,

at the pointing of earth,

and you, and me.

Eyes to see, ears to hear,

lips to touch,

all that has been made,

and lifted on this setting,

cotton-blossom sunset.

365 days is far too short for me to enjoy all that I know about you, love.

Roasted Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream

Caramelized banana and peanut butter ice cream

Caramelized banana and peanut butter ice cream

I made this ice cream last week, and it was gone by then next day. Apparently if you leave ice cream in your freezer, people just tend to gravitate towards it, as if there was some sort of invisible pull. This ice cream is a magnet. It’s a light, sweet, banana flavored ice cream, with a rich texture. For people who are lactose intolerant, it is a close replacement to dairy treat, as it contains no lactose. It’s also sugar free, so all in all, you’re eating an amazingly healthy desert. If you don’t like bananas, however, then you’re a little out of luck.

8 very ripe bananas, sliced
1 additional ripe banana, mashed
6 tbs honey
1 additional tbs honey
3 tbs coconut oil, melted
3/4 smooth, natural peanut butter
1 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

While preheating your oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour honey and coconut oil into a bowl with sliced bananas, mix and spread onto a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes.

Remove the bananas from oven, and pour the contents of the parchment into a high-speed blender. Add 1 cup almond milk, or as much is needed to smooth your mixture out and begin the blending process. I needed to add just over a cup. Add the peanut butter and blend until very smooth. Add the additional ripe banana and the tablespoon of honey, pulsing to incorporate. Pour the ice cream into a freezer safe container and freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight.

The ice cream won’t melt very easily, since it is made up mostly of bananas, but if it’s too hard to scoop, allow it to sit for a little while on the counter until it is thawed. Top with chopped peanuts and enjoy!

Italian Meatballs and Eggplant Salad

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There isn’t much Italian in my veins, more Irish, German and French than anything else, but somehow I learned how to cook amazing meatballs. My family has cooked standard Italian fare since I was a kid, and we know our way around lasagna, spaghetti, homemade pizza and eggplant Parmesan. This recipe was born more out of an overabundance of eggplant and cabbage than a taste for rustic Italian spices, but the flavors meld wonderfully in each bite.

 

Eggplant Salad

 

 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head coarsely chopped green cabbage
1 large eggplant, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large chopped onion
1 1/2 pounds fresh mushrooms
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
2 14-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon white pepper

Heat oil in heavy large pot or skillet over medium-high heat. Add cabbage, eggplant, onion and mushrooms. Sauté until tender and reduced. Add garlic, paprika, tomatoes with juices and water. Bring to boil. Cook until mixture thickens slightly and is reduced, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Add parsley and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Italian Meatballs

 

 

1 lb ground turkey
1 lb ground Italian pork sausage.
4 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 large eggs
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
4 teaspoons garlic powder
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon black pepper
4 teaspoons dried parsley
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 jars tomato sauce (Vodka tomato sauce works really well)
1 jar regular tomato sauce

Mix everything together, and form into golf ball size meatballs, or smaller if you prefer. Pour spaghetti sauce into and pan and set meatballs into the sauce, bringing to a boil, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, gently, so meatballs don’t stick and crumble in the pot.

Serve hot on Italian flat bread or with pita bread and feta cheese!