For my husband on his 30th birthday.
You are a lover of lists. Other people’s and your own. You catalogue every book you read and movie you see. You collect lists of books you should read (Newberry Medal and Pulitzer Prize winners to name a few) and movies you want to see (Academy Award winners, AFI top 100). To do lists, shopping lists, packing lists, pro/con lists … you bring order to the universe (and our lives) via lists. I hope you enjoy this list. 😉
You love coffee. Making the coffee every morning is one of the best ways you love me. 😉 I love that one of our first dates was at a coffee shop and that so much quality time has been spent sitting across from one another drinking coffee. From trying Kopi Luwak for the first time in Bali, to the disgusting sludge they called coffee on the boat to Ko Phi Phi, to Antipodean flat whites, I love sharing coffee with you.
You are quite competitive. I got glimpses of this during the Cabin days. A monkey-esque climb up the rafters to beat Joshua to a stick of some sort comes to mind. I didn’t realize the full extent of your competitive nature, however, until I beat you at Hand and Foot, and I was really surprised by how much it bothered you. Thankfully you’ve gotten used to my beating you (at least at Connect Four) and you are a much more gracious loser. 😉 That hasn’t taken away your competitive drive, however, and I love that I can always count on you to give your all … and a run for my money. Someday our names will be on the Rook plaque …
On our first date (to which you also invited your best friend), Chandler called you the “King of Analogies.” And you are. Analogies are your primary method of explanation. As an English teacher and lover of all figurative language, I’m constantly impressed by your ability to make unusual, profound, and often hilarious connections.
You love music. All kinds. Our first one on one outing (which wasn’t a date) was a Shearwater concert, and our conversations in the car on the way there and back sparked an exchange of mix CDs. I remember being impressed by your knowledge of bands because it almost rivaled mine. 😉 I also thought it was cute that you thought you were introducing me to Bright Eyes. You did, however, introduce me to Joe Pug and Josh Ritter and then took me to their concert for our actual first date. I can’t even count the number of concerts we got to attend that first year. My favorite concert memory (of which there are many) would probably be hearing Josh Ritter sing a stripped down extended version of “Change of Time.” Over and over he sang a lyric that became an anthem for us in such an uncertain yet exciting time; “Rough seas, they carry me wherever I go …”
You are musical. God bless your parents and all the money they spent on piano lessons for seven kids. I can only play a one handed version of “Edelweiss” despite my six years of lessons, but your skills have stuck around. I love listening to you play the piano, and I’m so glad God has used your gifts to bless others these past couple years both at school and at church. I’m excited to raise our daughter in a musical home.
You are organized. From planning our epic five-week tour of Southeast Asia to arranging the kitchen after our move when I was nine months pregnant, you are a master of organization. Your attention to detail and your tidy nature make our home a better place.
You are an animal lover. I know almost all these pictures are of cats, but you’re really a dog person. You have such sweet stories of growing up with Frankie, and you gave Cato his name (long before The Hunger Games). One month into our marriage, however, a cute little kitten meowed his way into our lives and hearts. Little did we know what havoc Hassan would wreak over the course of the next year. Fleas. Pee. Torn carpet. Scratched furniture. Knocked over water glasses. He really loved you, though, although probably not as much as Biddy. 🙂 I’m nervous to ever get another cat because I know he or she could never be as perfect as #LittleBiddyCrookedTail. And the kittens! I’m so glad we got to experience that together despite the amount of stress they added to our lives …
You are an excellent driver (and even better parallel parker … seriously, a random girl at Yummilicious once complemented your parallel parking skillzzzz). I appreciate this so much more after moving to Jakarta. While most people hire drivers because of the crazy traffic, you navigate the streets with ease. I kinda enjoy being your navigator as well.
You’re a great teacher. Sharing many of the same students with you for three years, I got to see this up close and personal. Your students have profound respect for both your knowledge and your ability to communicate that knowledge in interesting ways. Your sense of humor provides a context where kids are interested and engaged. Your students trust you, as many approach you for advice and guidance on how to better understand the Bible as well as concerning their personal issues.
You are teachable. Your insatiable thirst for knowledge drives you to seek out good teachers and resources. You are confident in your skills and knowledge but humble enough to know there’s so much more to learn.
You are naturally athletic. It’s a shame you didn’t play sports in high school because I know you would have been so good at them. I was a little jealous when you rolled out of bed to run your first official 5K (not having trained at all) and handily beat my own PR (for a race in which I actually placed!). Your speed and agility make the guys’ team at Thanksgiving football unstoppable. One of my most cherished memories is sledding with you post Blizzaster 2011. You probably carried that heavy toboggan up the hill over thirty times; I remember being really impressed. You even do yoga with me! Our dropping in on that class in Bangkok is another favorite memory for sure.
You come from a big family. As the oldest in a family of four (me) married to the middle child in a family of nine (you), you’d think I’d be a bit overwhelmed. However, your family has become very much so my own. I love how each of your siblings (and in-laws) are so different yet truly complementary. Everyone has their own niche. It’s bizarre to think about what the family will be like in ten years! We’ve already hit 21! Compared to my family’s now six (counting you and Clementine), it’s a pretty different world. Early on in our relationship I was so impressed by your relationship with your parents and siblings, and now I am so proud to be a part of the Hall-Szabo-Atkins-Noetzel-Spencer clan.
You have excellent taste in television. I have loved discovering new shows with you (Breaking Bad, The Wire, Better Call Saul) and introducing you to some old classics (Seinfeld, Designing Women, Gilmore Girls). I think the show that really jumpstarted our love of working through a series together, though, was Friday Night Lights. Coach & Tammy. Texas forever. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.
You’re especially good looking. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
You are a peacemaker. You don’t enjoy conflict, but you don’t pretend it doesn’t exist either. You actively work to bring peace to a situation rather than falsely proclaiming peace when there is none. This may not always translate well into a culture where a lack of conflict is seen as the greatest good, but your authenticity and peacemaking heart are godly virtues that I truly admire.
Food! You love all kinds. I love planning our meals, shopping for groceries (I MISS you, Central Market!), and cooking together when we can … you make an excellent sous chef! One of my favorite parts of traveling has been getting to try so many delicious new foods with you (and some not so delicious). I’m still a little bummed we didn’t try brains in Myanmar when we had a chance, but goat intestine and duck feet can be our weird food claims to fame. I love that we were able to take a Thai cooking class together in Bangkok, and I’m quite impressed that you actually ate the partially formed chicken (I think it was a chicken, right?) egg in Ho Chi Minh City.
You love to read. More than anyone I know, excepting maybe my dad, but it’s a close race. My first visit to the Cabin I was astounded at the number of books (floor to ceiling, wall to wall) owned by you, Joshua, and Will in the “library.” We spent our first summer together completing the Wheaton library’s summer reading challenge, and when we married, we married our books together as well, complete with a clovered “From the Library of David and Sarah Hall” stamp. I am still impressed by your yearly reading goals, especially your 100 books feat of 2014. Your interests are myriad from history, to science fiction, to Biblical Studies (especially). You even read books on labor and delivery in preparation for Clementine’s arrival. #DaSHbookdates are my favorite dates of all because nothing’s much better than discussing literature with my best friend and dialogue partner over margaritas and Mexican food.
You are very intelligent. Your reading habits obviously enhance this, but in addition to your breadth of knowledge, you are naturally clever. You are analytical and meticulous. You understand and express arguments extremely well. I love the way your mind works.
You’re the fun uncle. Even to kids who aren’t your blood relatives. 🙂 You have such energy and enthusiasm, and children love you for it. From playing trains with Caleb to Dominion with Hannah, you give your time and attention selflessly to each of your nieces and nephews.
You love movies. The prequel to our first date was a viewing of Kill Bill Volume 2, a mutual Tarantino appreciation further cementing our interest in one another. Casting our own ballots for the Oscars has become tradition, and I love going back and watching all the Best Picture winners with you.
You are a sports guy. Your knowledge of baseball (especially baseball), basketball, football, and even hockey is astounding. I didn’t really like sports growing up; I hated Sunday afternoons in the fall because it meant my dad monopolizing the TV with Cowboys games. I actually enjoy watching sports with you, however. You explain things in a non-condescending way, and your enthusiasm is infectious. You bought (and then later gave away to your dad and brother) Rangers World Series tickets. You almost got beat up for my Spurs sign at a Bulls game. A random Japanese man struck up a conversation with you in Tokyo because you were wearing a Darvish shirt. I’m glad Clementine will grow up in a home with such an avid sports fan!
You are a critical thinker. A mutual professor in grad school once said that he wanted to teach his children to be critical thinkers, not critical people. I see this in you and am excited to raise our daughter with this mindset as well. You listen with an open mind and give all arguments their due consideration. You’re not necessarily easily persuaded, however. You hold strong convictions, but they are hard won. My own critical thinking skills are enhanced by you, and I treasure you as a dialogue partner.
You love to travel. Whether it be a two hour road trip or a five-week tour of Southeast Asia, you are always up for an adventure. You love the outdoors, so you’re right at home hiking Colorado mountains or Lombok volcanoes. Riding elephants, trekking ancient ruins, taking sunset boat rides, eating unusual food … these are the memories I will cherish forever.
You are a true servant. You help where it’s needed, whether that be teaching Sunday School or leading worship in chapel. You wash the dishes and change dirty diapers. You make sure my water glass is full before bed and get up with Clementine in the middle of the night. You make our lives easier, and I am so grateful. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “… everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” I am married to a great man.
You’re a Texan! Considering I hadn’t lived in Texas since I was 18, I pretty much hit the jackpot when at 28 I fell in love with a fellow Texan in Illinois of all places! Not only does this make coordinating family holidays waaaay easier, but there’s something to be said about coming from a common culture … and Texas definitely has its own culture. From visits to The Big Texan to pics with Big Tex (before he burned down), bluebonnets, the Alamo, and a giant armadillo, to quote the little kid from Terms of Endearment, “Texas is the best!”
You are a great father. After watching you interact with your nieces and nephews, I had no doubt this would be the case. From before Clementine was even born, you were a great dad. You read books about childbirth and newborn care and dutifully assembled all her baby gear. Immediately after her birth the two of you had an instant bond as she quieted down on the measuring table once she heard your voice. You give of yourself so selflessly, from walking her to sleep for hours to reading her innumerable books innumerable times. We’re obviously a bit biased, but Clementine and I think you’re the greatest.
I couldn’t ask for a better husband. You love me so well in a million different ways. This past anniversary we both made lists of what we loved about the other, and as I think over those things I am overwhelmed with gratitude that God saw fit to give you to me. To quote Julia Sugarbaker, “I don’t deserve him, but nobody else does either, so I may as well have him for myself.” Amen.
You are a lover of the Lord and his Word. You are an example of what it means to love God with your mind. You are whom I think of when I hear Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” You’ve dedicated seven years of your life to studying Scripture in an academic context, and yet you don’t desire to dwell in an ivory tower. You are a bridger; you model sound hermeneutics for the Church and desire to see people’s lives changed as they encounter Jesus through the Word.
You are exceptional. Because you’re an introvert and don’t draw a lot of attention to yourself, it’s sometimes easy for people to overlook you or underestimate you. Once people truly get to know you, however, they tend to have immense respect for the person you are. You are exceptionally gifted, and you use your gifts in quiet, unobtrusive ways. The opening lines to a song we both love put it so well: “I was raised up believing I was somehow unique, like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see. And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be a functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.” I certainly think you’re a snowflake, but no matter where we end up, I know that our greatest satisfaction ultimately comes through serving Someone beyond us, even just as cogs. As you continue to use your gifts faithfully in seemingly small and insignificant ways, God will do exceptional things through you. From a fellow functioning cog, I love you and the life we have together.