Friday, June 24, 2011

And the Winners are...

Hello, journal lovers, here are the winners to my journal giveaway determined by 
Commenter #3, McLesP and
Commenter #1, Nikki D. 
Timestamp: 2011-06-25 00:56:09 UTC

McLes, you get the first choice, of either the New Yorker Dogs journal or the Elvis journal. 
McLes and Nikki, either message me your mailing addresses on facebook or send it to and I'll be sending you your journal goodness next week. Congrats and happy journaling.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I'm Just Giving Things Away Over Here!

     Hey, friends, my last giveaway was so fun to do I'm doing it again! In my ongoing attempts to proselytize and convert the whole world to journaling, I'm giving away not one but TWO brand new journals. The first is a journal from teNeues.
     This is a hard cover, lined journal with a magnetic flap cover. It's approximately 200 pages and a fun journal. The line on the cover says, "Bad dog, bad dog," she said. "We should have gotten a cat."
     The second journal features the King himself...
     Another hard back, brand new ruled journal with Elvis' autograph on the bottom right corner of each right page and includes a ribbon marker.
     To win, just leave a comment here at If This Couch Could Speak by this Friday at noon. Winners will be chosen randomly. Winner #1 will get first choice and the runner up the other journal. Once the winners are announced, message me your address on facebook or email me your address at If you're not a journaler, try to win for someone who is. They make great gifts!
Thanks for stopping by, "thank you very much."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Beautiful Marty

     Almost 21 years ago, I met a girl in college. Once we became friends, I started calling her "Beautiful Marty," because I thought she was, well, beautiful. And she was, inside and out. I called her that so much that other people started referring to her as Beautiful Marty as well. Once it stuck, I don't think I ever didn't greet her with this moniker I had bestowed on her. And, although we weren't college sweethearts, our love story was meant to be.
     We started dating after graduating. When I would be filling friends in on my love life and drop Marty's name, many of them would come back with, "Beautiful Marty?" Yes, Beautiful Marty. Just recently I read a transcript from a friend's book that's about to be published. She asked Marty if she could include a conversation they had in her upcoming release. Our friend the author mentioned in her writings that in college I referred to my future wife as "Beautiful Marty." I never knew how widespread that nickname had become, but why shouldn't it? It is a very fitting nickname.
     When Marty had her surgery in 2008, it initially changed her appearance drastically. At the time, we had been married for 11 years. I've said it before, but I have never felt more married to her than when she was in that hospital recovering. This was my wife. We had made vows to each other, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, that we would walk side by side through whatever. As I watched her endure the pain of her recovery, I felt my commitment to her come alive. It didn't matter what her appearance was. I had fallen in love with the beautiful person that she was (is) on the inside and I would be the stupidest man on the planet to ever walk away from such an incredible woman. Let's not forget that she's loved me warts and all and stuck by my side when I hadn't made it all that easy for her to do.
     We were talking in the car and I brought up her famous nickname. She thought I was just being nice to her back in college and that I meant she was beautiful on the inside (I assured her it was inside and out). She said maybe God allowed me to see her that way all those years ago knowing what we would be going through down the road. It's quite a thought, but all I know is I still think of my wife as "Beautiful Marty," because she is. It's a fact, and it ain't ever gonna change.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Losing Bethany

     When I was still a student at Bethany College, I would go into the library and pick up a periodical or two and read them by the fireplace. One magazine I browsed through on a regular basis always had several ads for other Christian Colleges. Sometimes I would wonder what would have had happened if I had gone somewhere besides Bethany. Thinking about all the great friends I had made on campus would always put a stop to the wondering. "If I had gone to Northwest, I never would have met ______________ and I can't imagine my life without them." I know had I enrolled elsewhere, I wouldn't have known any better. I would have been oblivious to Josh and Marlon and Trent and Justin and Eric and... but since I knew them, I didn't want to think about not knowing them. And I never would have known these great friends were it not for a little college called Bethany.
     After 92 years of equipping, training, and sending people into all the world in the Name of our Lord, my alma mater is closing it's doors. I knew it might happen,  but when the official word came that Bethany would be ceasing operations, I was surprised by the emotion I felt about it. It is like a death in my family. I am mourning the loss of this great institution along with thousands of others. If you don't believe me, check out the Bethany Alumni group page on facebook. A funeral is taking place; people expressing their grief, some their anger and denial, but mostly a lot of memories and smiles are being shared. The only thing missing at this memorial service is the physical hugs and the spread. Otherwise, we've all pretty much gathered to say goodbye.
     But how? How do I say goodbye to this place that I called home for four years? That time shaped me, challenged me, stretched me, and prepared me for the real world beyond the classrooms. There's too much to say, too much to thank her for in one setting.
     My Bethany experience was redemptive for me. I hated Junior High. I was picked on and nerdy and loathed that place with every fibre of my being. High school was a little better, but I still kind of blended in, got lost in the crowd. Bethany was different. It was as if God was saying, "Let Me redeem those lousy teen years, and have a good time." And that good time started immediately my Freshmen year.
     For all the social experiences I had (including being socials director my Sr. year), the most impacting times were spent one on one with God. I loved walking down to the Redwood Bowl amphitheater and gazing up at the majestic redwood trees convinced that it was God's handiwork. I loved the little prayer room under Craig Memorial Chapel where I could sing my brains out in worship. And I loved that chapel, late in the evening when no one else was around. I would cry out to God for unsaved loved ones and ask for God's forgiveness and direction for my life. And He met me there time and again. I "built" many altars in that holy place, and I will mourn not being able to go back to revisit them.
     So, I'm losing Bethany. Yet no one can close down my memories, my friendships, the milestones, and the lasting impact that college had on my life. She was 92 when she passed, but her impact will touch generations beyond. Goodbye, ol' girl. You served us well and will be sorely missed.

The Bethany Ambassadors singing at Glad Tidings Temple in San Francisco, where it all began in 1919.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Big Two Wheel Deal

    There were certain milestones I was anxious about my kids reaching; potty training, losing that first tooth, being able to swim... and learning to ride a bike. About a year and a half ago, I took my eldest out for her first lesson in bike riding. It pretty much turned out as it did for the dad in the Berenstain Bears classic story, The Bike Lesson, except the child didn't learn to ride the contraption in the end. She was afraid of falling, naturally, and I went into cardiac arrest running behind her. It was an unfruitful first outing for us, yet the people lucky enough to be watching we're highly entertained, I'm sure.
     That bike sat neglected in the backyard for several months. Every once in a while I would ask Julia if she wanted to try again. Not interested. Then the anxieties began. What if my kid doesn't learn how to ride a bike? All kids eventually learn how to. It's a rite of passage. It's a kid's main form of transportation.   But what if she doesn't...? Would I be okay with that? I wasn't going to force her to ride her bike, was I? Should this be a "this is for your own good" scenario, or should I allow her to march to her own beat? I think the question I really wanted answered was am I a failure as a dad because I didn't teach my kid to ride a bike? I imagined Julia being 30 years old or so and in a casual conversation someone asks her. "You want to go on a bike ride?" and Julia replies, "I can't. My dad never taught me how." As Calvin once stated, "Egad! Bad dad!"
     In the last few days, Julia has had a renewed interest in learning how to master bike riding. We went down to the play ground, and this time, there was no middle aged man chasing behind his frustrated daughter. Instead, I encouraged her to push off the ground with her feet and get used to keeping her balance. Then I suggested she try and pedal. "Not yet," she responded. Okay. It has to be in her timing, so I kept encouraging her, saying she was getting the idea and was on her way. I did the classic parent thing, turned my back for a second, and then I heard Julia call out, "Dad!" I spun around to behold my daughter pedaling, balancing, steering, and not falling to the ground. Yes. Yes, yes, YES!! Now I have dreams of Julia giving her valedictorian speech and starting it with, "After my dad taught me to ride a bike, I knew I could conquer the world."
     Or, I dream of her growing up and having a career such as...

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Ugliest Thing Marty Gave Me

     Marty likes junk. She's always been so classy, yet she can find garbage in the street and see it as something worthy to be in our home. My mom would be so proud, and I tend to roll my eyes like my dad would. On Craig's List, she found what was advertised as "the world's ugliest desk," so ugly that it was free and the owner was willing to deliver it to get it out of his life. My wife took him up on his offer, and what one person saw as ugly, Marty saw as...

... my new home office. She set this up in the garage for me, and I must say, I think it's pretty cool. 

     Here's my boom box that I so appreciate because it's the only tape player in the house, and I have cassettes that still must be heard! And check out that lamp. I picked it as a white elephant gift during a youth Christmas party first try and instantly fell in love with it. Someone actually tried to steal it from me, but I knew their motives were sketchy so I broke the rules and took it back. Love makes you do foolish things. It is so hideous that it is beyond cool. 

This was a desk set I collected in the late 90's. Kind of forgot all about it until Marty pulled it out and set it up on my new desk. I still like it.

     These items are sitting on top of a very old record player, maybe from the '50's. It still runs, but the records don't sound too good. The nostalgia factor is through the roof on this one. The sun picture was made by Julia in Kindergarten. A note attached says, "Dar dad, this is speshul, made just for you." And that would be the Joker, Two Face, The Penguin and The Riddler standing guard (or scheming to swipe something, those rascals).

 Another shot of my new home office. This office idea caught on with my kids. Max initially set up his own  next to mine complete with army men, action figures and his journal. "Office Max" we named it. Then the kids started taking turns setting up shop in my mom's "little desk," (that's what it was dubbed years ago).

Julia has current possession of it right now. 

     Someday, I'll write about the big slab of wood Marty found in the gutter and prophetically called it a book shelf...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Melancholy (or Plaque Build-Up)

     I signed on to facebook. Within eight posts, three of them were about saying goodbye to someone who died recently. I hate death. I know loss too well, but it is a part of life. Add that to the possible closure of my Alma Mater and you get melancholy (plus the music I'm listening to isn't helping. Might as well be "Theme from Ice Castles"). It's been reported that if Bethany University doesn't receive a total of $500,000.00 by midnight tonight, the doors will close.  Sad. So very sad to me. I spent four years of my life there, made lifelong friends, met my bride, encountered God in unforgettable ways... But it's just a piece of property with buildings on it. Why would I get all worked up over that?
     As I mentioned, God met me in so many ways and in various places on that campus. In the Old Testament, people made altars at places where God had done something significant. I have many personal altars at Bethany. Since graduating it has been nice to be able to go back and visit them. So, that would be a loss if Bethany is no more. I would also have to give up the idea that my kids would attend there someday and have similar experiences as I did. Of course they will be on their own tracks and God has His plans for them, but it is still a nice thought.

     If the school does close, there's one thing I want. During my Sr. year, a friend of mine and I spent a Tuesday night walking around the campus and taking fun pictures in creative places. I was on senate so I had a key to the offices. We came across a plaque in the Sr. class president's desk that had the title "Seniors of the Year." Underneath the title were engraved names dating back several years of people who had been elected "Seniors of the Year." There was one blank spot left, and the last engraving was from the graduating class 2 years before ours. The tradition had obviously been dropped and the plaque tucked away, but we thought we had the perfect candidates for our graduating class. We took a piece of binder paper and wrote our names on it and the only adhesive we could find was band aids. So we "taped" our names on the last empty space, took some pictures then put it back in the drawer, all but forgetting about it.
     The following year the new Sr. class president came across the plaque with our bandaged self nominations. He assumed his predecessor just didn't get around to having the names engraved, so he took it upon himself to do so. Though our class had no idea, my friend and I were officially named "Seniors of the Year."
     I want that plaque. I have no idea where it is on campus or if it even still exists, but I want it. I want more for the school to stay open, and God can do a miracle in the next hour and forty nine minutes. But open or closed, I want that plaque. What a fun memory. And now that I've written about it, I'm not feeling so melancholy after all. God is in control.

UPDATE: They located my plaque! It's a little worse for the wear, but it still exists! It is now being held in Sacramento at the District Resource Center. I don't know what hoops I have to jump through or who's palm I have to grease, but let the jumping and the greasing begin!