Valentine’s Day Ode to Char
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Valentine’s Day Ode to Char

My hubby wanted to write a blog post sometime about me. I have to admit I was a bit nervous turning my keyboard over to him. But I relented and was swept away! One word of caution: He is quite the story teller! Maybe I should have done more editing, but here it is. I hope you enjoy his spin on our relationship. ~Charlaine Martin

So I had been reading my wife’s blog for quite some time and telling her that I should write an article for it about ‘us’ sometime.   You have to understand that my wife takes things pretty literally.  Ok, I probably did mention it a few too many times, but still, we don’t even take our President THAT seriously when he says something off the cuff, do we??!!  Ok, forget I said that. 

So here it is with the big V-Day looming large on the calendar and I have a promise to keep, and you would think that it would be hard for a non-writer guy to write an article on the “L” topic! Actually, the truth is that the hard part is keeping that article short and concise.  How do you write an article about the woman who is the most wonderful person in your life? I could write a book!  No!  A series! I could fill a library! Ok, for you millennials, that was a building where they used to keep print outs of text files that were bound in expensive yet semi-durable binders.There may still be one in your town if you go looking for it. They are buildings where elderly people go to read these durabilized hard copies, but I digress. And yes, I do have A.D.D.

And I will admit, if you really want motivation to write an article about how much you love your spouse, do it the morning after you get back from a week in Europe with gifts for her from Paris. It is the perfect time to shout it from the mountaintops! She is still asleep in the bedroom right now and has no idea I am doing this! I haven’t even unpacked my bags yet!

So you are probably wondering what's our story?  Char and I met over the internet. As you can imagine, it is REALLY hard meeting someone on the internet, if you are looking for a keeper. You can easily waste a lot of time if you don’t know what you are looking for.  But even after deciding what you want, it is not so easy to find it! I found that most on the internet are used car salesmen, who are more interested in ‘moving product’ rather than finding a good match. So I had decided to be as direct as I could be and as honest as I could be and see what I could find. I went to all the usual Christian dating sites and found no matches. It kept suggesting that I reduce the number of search criteria and I would get more matches! But, I was looking for a needle in the haystack.  A rare one.  The fact that I was not finding a match made sense to me.  So I continued to search and pray and wait. One day, I decided to look on a non-Christian dating site to see if there might be a match on it. I even felt a little guilty doing it, but I told myself, if you really are looking for a needle in a haystack, the probability calculations favor larger haystacks and better search engines. Did I mention that I am an engineer?

So I posted my profile, making sure it was very clear that I was an over-the-top committed Christian and looking for the same in a woman. I was looking for someone who did not think a great date was just going out to eat at a fancy restaurant and watching a movie, but was more about doing an activity and actually talking and getting to know about each other. You know, climbing the Matterhorn and then having your DNA mapped. Or maybe half way in between? 

So after posting my profile, I did the search and WOW! I got a match!!  I REALLY did!  I was SO EXCITED!!!  I immediately sent her a note saying that if her profile was true, then we HAVE TO MEET!!!  Unfortunately, my response  scared her to death.  But that was something we finally got past. So what was it that convinced me that SHE was the one.  Ok, just to be clear, I was NOT sure she was THE ONE at that point. That would have been creepy. But more correctly, it would have been making a decision on much too limited data.  I needed to increase the data set probably 1000 fold to have enough to make a conclusive decision of this significance. In short, I needed to date her. 
Now I also have to say that I am a voracious reader.  When I am in my element, I will read 1500 pages a week.  When I was studying for my dissertations at Oxford, I pushed that up to 3500 pages (I only need 4 hours of sleep a night). So of course I had read Gary Smally’s book on the “5 Love Languages” – great book. One of the many ‘take-aways’ from this book was that you needed to date a person at least 2 years before you could get that rosey tint all worn off those glasses to where you could see the real person you were ‘besmitten’ by.  So I prepared myself for the long haul of data collection, otherwise known as dating. No, I did not buy a new three ring binder in which to collect all this data and keep it organized. That would  just be weird!  I created a new sub-directory on my laptop, instead. 

But Char lived in another state!  It was 4.5 hours away. I knew if 2 years was going to be enough, I would need to be spending every weekend and some evenings together.  That was clear.  So I did the most logical thing I could think of -- I decided to buy an airplane! Did I mention that I was a pilot?  (Sorry.  I promise no more surprises.)  So by this point in time, I had driven to see her about a month and all was going rosy as expected. Now, I have to admit that I had a picture of what I wanted in a wife and what she would look like. It was very detailed and specific, but many times, God does not give us what we ‘want’. Instead, God loves us and gives us what we ‘need’. Even though I wanted ‘Y’, God gave me so much more.  He gave me ‘3 times Y’. So much more.  Not in size though! 

When we first me, I was surprised by Char’s size. No!  I was shocked. Cheated maybe?  Char was tiny, I often tell her jokingly that she is not a real woman – she is a ¾ scale replica of a real woman.  She is maybe 4’11” tall. She is tiny. And before you think that Char would be insulted by such a comment, Char has a HUGE amount of confidence for her size.  That is one of the many many things I love about her. We were walking down a street one time late at night past some very boisterous guys that had been drinking a little and could have caused us some problems. Instinctively, I switched my position to walk on the side of Char so that I would be between her and the guys as we passed them.  Almost as soon as I started this move, she countered to put herself between me and them!  Fortunately, nothing happened, but after we passed, I asked her why she did that.  She said that they looked like they may have wanted to start something, and she did not know how good my fighting skills were and that she wanted to have some room to take one of the two out with one quick kick to the chest. Oh, I assume you know by now that Char is a black belt in karate? I know, I promised no more surprises, so I hope you already knew this? 

But back to the plane. I had been truthful with Char that the drive was getting to me, and that I really needed to get a plane if we were going to continue to date. She later told me that she had thought this was some elaborate scheme I had to win her heart and that she thought it was just talk.  So she was a little surprised when I called her and told her that I had found a plane near her that I wanted to go check out.  She was even more surprised when I bought it!  To me, it was no different from just buying another car, but apparently, Char read it as, “This guy really IS interested in me!”  On the other hand, when I heard her reaction, my thought was……“Strange.....Girls.....Weird.”  But the important thing was that Char was now in love with me. 
It took me a little longer to fall in love with Char. I was certainly wanting to fall in love, but I also knew that I did not want to go there until the 2 year mark, but I also knew that there were some courses we could sign up for that were good at flushing out some issues and that might allow us to shave off a few months if they did not uncover some lurking skeletons in someone’s closet.  Hey, she was a black belt! Who knows what she was capable of if she got mad at me?!?! I was genuinely concerned! 

But she was so very caring with people. Everyone I met at her work had so many kind words to say about her and she always treated my friends with great respect. She was very kind to the elderly, to children, and to me! Finally, I could not help myself. I was in love and trying to stave it off any longer was just futile. I was a hopeless mess. I needed this woman in my life. 

We prayed together, we studied scriptures together, we went to church together, we sang together, we walked together, we flew together, we rode our bikes together.  Oh!  Bikes!  I forgot that one!  Char had put in her profile that she wanted to ride her bike more and wanted a guy who liked to bike. I love to bike, but had really given up on finding a woman who enjoyed it as much as I did. When I ride, I ride for speed and distance – not to sight see, although nice scenery is a plus. I usually ride about 16-19 mph.  So I thought I would, “take it easy on her” on our first bike ride. It was a short 20 mile ride to the beach and back. Unfortunately, Char does nothing physical without pushing herself to her absolute limit and then another 15% above that, just for kicks. Jillian Michaels has nothing on this woman!  Char is an animal on a bike, and I was not ready for that! I had a pretty nice amateur athlete bike and she had her ‘beater’ cross fit bike that was a few years old, but it was all that my high tech bike and love crazed heart could do to keep that girl in sight!  She showed no mercy!

I learned much later that Char had been questioned by others who worked in her gym that they had not expected her to fall for a guy who was not a super athletic jock. Yes, Char is the one with six pack abs in the family, not me. But Char was confident in herself. She knew what she was capable of doing.  She had decided that it was harder to find a guy who loved the Lord, and who loved her, and who kept things in that order. She said she was very confident that if she found a guy who had those two ingredients, that she was a good enough Personal Trainer that she could build the rest.  It was her version of “BYOB” -- Build Your Own Boyfriend!   And she is a REALLY good trainer!  Very subtle. Once, we were upstairs and she complained that she left something in the car and asked me to go get it. After I went down two flights of stairs and got it, she said something like, “Oh never mind." I meant the other one. I should have been more specific. I’ll go get it.”  At which point I told her, “No.  I’ll get it.”  After I returned a second time, she just smileed and went over to a chart she keeps on the wall and marked me off on the ‘Stair Climb’. Then she sat the heavy box in the corner and continue doing whatever she was doing before. Seriously!  I have even had a dream that she had me carry my roto-tiller up the stairs to our bedroom once! She is so good at getting me to exercise and does it in love! I know I have no choice in this. I am in love. What can I say. I actually enjoy and look forward to working out with my wife. 
She also has cleaned up my eating.  It is not that I eat junk food, but that she is very purposeful in what we eat.  She packs what I eat for lunch, and it is always tasty and nutritious.  She has a catalog in her head of ingredients of almost everything. This stuff is not just a hobby of hers. It is her passion and I have learned that Char is not half-hearted in anything she does. I enjoy the fact that I do not have to worry about what I eat any more. She does our meal plans, and I just eat and smileand am thankful for her. But she knows that I love her and I know she loves me.

There is no place either of us would rather be than with each other.  Most of our evenings are spent on laptops together -- She is usually working on her blog with her online community and doing her Healthy Lifestyles, and I am usually doing research on either my work or my airplanes. Char has me completely and hopelessly in love with her, and I am so thankful to God, in his unfathomable mercy, to have given me someone like her to spend the rest of my days with.  Every day I find myself more in love with her than when we first got married.  I look forward to her hug as I come in from work every day. I honestly cannot remember a single time that she has not given me a smile, a hug, and a kiss as I came in the door. She says that it is something she sees as basic and yet as important as doing stretches after lifting weights. How can I not be head over hills??!! I just wish I could find more ways to make her as happy as she makes me. I am constantly searching, but she refuses to be out performed in anything, whether it is bike riding or love. Whew!   

This Valentine’s Day, be thankful to God for what He has given you, but more than that, take that extra step and present yourselves as living sacrifices to God by showing the same kind of selfless love to your spouse. Be purposeful. I am pretty sure you will not have to carry two boxes of rocks or a roto-tiller up two flights of stairs to the bedroom!  But, go that extra mile and do something. If you ask God, He will put on your mind something to do that will be a blessing to your spouse.  Embrace that thankless act and do it with everything you’ve got. As Char would say, “Straighten your back!  You can do this! Go! Go! Go!”

May God bless you this Valentine's Day! ~ Char

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