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    Thirty for 30

    July 17, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    Thirty for 30[dropcap]T[/dropcap]oday is my wonderful husband’s thirtieth birthday. My, how time flies. We met shortly after our eighteenth birthdays. I have had the privilege of watching him improve for over a decade. He’s like fine cheese wine. He he.

    So I thought that, in honor of the Big Day, I’d make a list of thirty things I really like or find interesting about Si. Don’t worry, I’ll explain most of them.

    So here it is, Babe. The spotlight’s on you today.

    1. For seven years, he thought my birthday was his birthday. I think it was just that, when we were beginning our marriage, he didn’t like saying he was a couple months younger than I am. So, each year when my birthday hit, he began to “round up.” When I turned twenty-three, so did Si. Maybe it’s because he’s a twin and so having a birthday by himself bothers him. Whatever it is, he had a suspicious streak of independence this year. I turned thirty, but he remained twenty-nine until today. He says turning thirty doesn’t bother him, but this behavior makes me wonder…
    2. He’s a twin. I’ll get this one out of the way since I mentioned it above. He and his twin are so incredibly close that they promptly moved to opposite coasts when they left home. Just kidding. They actually love each other very much. They are fraternal, but they look a lot alike. I only got them confused once and it’s because they were dressed similarly and I wasn’t really paying attention.
    3. He wrote a best seller. Okay, so it wasn’t a national best seller. However, for one bookseller in our local community anyhow, he was last week’s Number Two. Not bad for a first-time author!
    4. He’s honest to a fault. How can honesty be a fault? When it interrupts a board game, that’s when! Si takes great pains to be truthful at all times. I can only remember him bluffing during a game once during our twelve-year history together. I was shocked, but what was interesting was so was he. And he’s never done it again.
    5. He likes to kick things. In high school, he was the kicker for his school’s football team. He’s never quite gotten over it. Early in our marriage, we even went to the park and I would watch while he kicked a football around. He also kicks soccer balls and rocks. I think this is genetic as two of our three kids began kicking balls around the house the minute they could walk.
    6. He is a man of conviction. Si is one of those people who did hard things before it was cool. He is one to give up his own pleasure for the greater good. He will fight the good fight even when he fights alone. He will do the right thing even when it requires great sacrifice. This is why I was never scared of marrying him.
    7. He is getting grey hair. He used to say it was one for each kid. But now that there are more than four, he admits that he’s greying a bit. It’s just the sideburns, really. He seems to find this fact interesting. I love it.
    8. He mows his own lawn. There is approximately one other guy in our entire neighborhood who does this, so this is actually very significant, especially since the other guy doesn’t do nearly as good a job as Si. Our lawn looks great. So do the flowerbeds. And trust me when I say that this has been an uphill battle {the landscaping was a bit out of control when we moved in}.
    9. He involves his son. Si doesn’t just mow the lawn. He uses it as an opportunity to train the little one. About three years ago, there began a Saturday morning tradition. Si would mow the lawn, and E. would faithfully follow behind him pushing a drop-seeder. A year later, E. began to receive his own lawn tools from family and friends. Si taught him how to pull weeds and how to use a hoe. Now, E. is a full-fledged gardener who wants to be a farmer when he grows up. All because of a daddy who took the time to share his work with his son.
    10. He wrestles with the kids. Men are so interesting in this regard. Never in a million years would you find me on the floor, rolling around, covered in children. It just wouldn’t happen. {Perhaps it’s because I’m perpetually pregnant.} But Si will often do this for half-hour stretches without complaint, and even when he’s tired. Somehow, he manages to be aggressive enough for the big one and yet tender enough with the little sprite. It amazes me.
    11. He has dimples. This was not on my list of husband requirements, but my do they delight me.
    12. He keeps his laugh a secret. When someone says something funny, Si is much more likely to give a little grunt than he is to laugh exuberantly out loud. A good thing about this is that he doesn’t go giving his laughs away for free. If you are an aspiring comedian, you have to earn this man’s laugh. And if you get it, you will know that you were really, truly funny.
    13. He really believes. I have watched Si faithfully follow the Lord for a long time now. I have seen him cling to his faith in hard times, and grow a bit with every passing year. Have you ever met someone and been surprised to learn they were a Christian? Have you ever met a Christian about whom you later wondered if they really believed in the first place? Si is the complete opposite of that sort of person. I’m not saying he’s perfect. I’m just saying that I know his faith is true.
    14. He is good with kids. I’m not just saying this because he’s a dad. I mean that, before we were ever married, he was just plain good with kids. He even ran a little after-school club for kids at one point in college. Some people are good with their own kids, while other people are good with kids. Si is good with kids.
    15. He used to misspell his own middle name. This is not his fault. Apparently no one ever really bothered to make sure he knew how to spell it correctly. Don’t worry. By our third year of marriage, he had it down perfectly and he’s never looked back.
    16. He didn’t chase a dream. There has been a lot Si has given up for his family. We didn’t exactly plan our life the way it’s turned out {though we see now that this is God’s perfect plan}. He had a lot of things he wanted to do in terms of travel, education, and career. Some men chase those things to the neglect of caring for their families. Si never did that. I never had to worry that he would choose a dream over us. He has faithfully taken care of me and our ever-growing family.
    17. He did chase a dream. There has been a lot he’s given up, like I said, but he also has learned that there are things he can pursue without any detriment to his responsibilities at home. And he’s also found versions of previous dreams that were a little more practical. Writing his book would be one of those dreams. He worked so hard to write it. And he did it. And it’s in print. And I’m so proud of him.
    18. He extends grace to those who need it. I think one would expect a guy who wrote a book like Culture Makers to be judgmental in a bad way. After all, part of the purpose of the book is to teach discernment, which isn’t exactly popular in this anything-goes world we live in. But what I see in Si is a reflection of our Savior. Jesus saw where people were. He understood that they were sinful and that their beliefs were wrong. And His response was compassion. He pulled them out of their sin and set them free, telling them to “sin no more.” I see something similar in Si. His awareness of others’ beliefs doesn’t bring about condemnation. It brings about compassion that flows from a heart of grace.
    19. He is objectively handsome. It always embarrasses Si when I say this, but still I think it is true! When we first met, we were just friends. The relationship was purely platonic for many years. In fact, had you told us when we were eighteen that we would marry someday, we would have both laughed at you! However, I always knew that he was handsome. He was handsome in the way a waterfall was beautiful. There was a set of objective criteria that he met. With his newly grey hair, he meets it even more!
    20. He used to play horrible practical jokes. I live in fear that this character flaw trait will rear its ugly head once our oldest son is old enough to appreciate it. My memories of Si in college include, but are not limited to, a certain fish placed inside the ceiling of our dormitory. It absolutely stunk for weeks before anyone discovered the source. When we were older and more mature, he took one of our baby’s dirty diapers and left it under his younger brother’s bed when we were visiting.
    21. He isn’t afraid of manual labor. To me, there is nothing more effeminate than a man who is afraid to sweat a bit. I’m not saying a man has to toil all day long to be a man, but I occasionally see guys at Starbucks who look like they are afraid of good old-fashioned hard work. When Si sees the vacant lot in our new backyard, he sees potential, even though nothing will happen to it but by the sweat of his brow. I am conveniently giving birth soon in order to avoid having to offer my assistance. Si isn’t afraid to put in effort in order to glean a reward.
    22. He isn’t afraid to ask. If he doesn’t understand something, Si will ask for an explanation. If his salad was big enough for two dressings, but he was only given one, he’ll ask for an extra. {He’ll also manage to get it free, but that’s another story.}
    23. He is convinced that my drink tastes better. This has been the main struggle in our marriage. Only in the past year has he finally accepted that he can have his own cup at the dinner table and still enjoy his drink. For years folks would offer him a drink and he would decline in favor of drinking mine. I have no idea how our daughter got the way she is.
    24. He likes his toddlers. I always joke that each child gets their chance to be Daddy’s favorite around here. Sure, he likes all the kids. But Si has a special place in his heart for the ages of about 14-30 months. It starts right around the time they can yell, “Daddy!” when he gets home from work.
    25. He eats like a chipmunk. In fact, his roommates warned me before we got married. They told me that I would find him with a bit of food in his mouth, and I could know with certainty that he hadn’t finished. The other half of that cookie was somewhere, hidden away as a future snack. A more recent example would be eating half a popsicle and then putting it back in the freezer {in its case–it was all very sanitary, mind you} for some other time.
    26. His nickname is Depression-Era Dad. Si is very frugal. I mean it when I add the very in there. Once, when the kids asked for fruit bars at the store, Si bought one. And then he cut it in half! I teased him that it was like that Disney movie where they are all standing around watching while one character slices a little bean into equal portions. Even though I find this amusing, I must also say that Si has taught me a lot about making wise expenditures, as well as forgoing foolish ones.
    27. He is humble. This is something that has struck me about Si. He simply isn’t very prideful. Si truly believes that others are important, that they have dignity. He esteems others while often denying himself.
    28. He has good aim. Si doesn’t practice shooting very often, but let’s just say you don’t want to be the other guy.
    29. He studies. Si is a thinker. He doesn’t pretend to know everything. To the contrary, he often admits how little he knows. And when he finds a question turning around in his head, he pursues it with determination. He seeks out experts, whether in print or in person, and learns what he can. I admire a person who studies; they are such a rarity in this world.
    30. He feels thirty. Whenever I tease him about turning thirty, this is his response. It supposedly doesn’t bother him because he feels thirty. It didn’t bother me, either, but I like to torture him just the same. And then I think that, indeed, he seems thirty. He’s a grown man, after all. He has a job, a wife, almost four kids. He is responsible and thoughtful. Thirty, it seems, has arrived just in time.


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    1 Comment

  • Reply Si July 18, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    I blushed all the way through your post. Thanks for thinking so much about me to write all of that. You think enough about me to cover both of us, and I like it that way.

    Since we’re giving compliments liberally, I should offer my sincere appreciation for such a wonderful wife. I didn’t realize what a great deal I was getting 7+ years ago when I said, “I do.”

    I love you magnanimously.

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