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July 13, 2011 |


BY Jen Hatmaker

I’d like to think that the older I get, the more self-aware I am. I recognize my personality quirks and preferences. I can predict how I’ll respond to pretty much any scenario, because I know what makes me tick, what makes me crazy, what terrifies me, what motivates me. I get why I love what I love and hate what I hate. Now, am I bettering myself in these areas? Of course not. But I’m aware of them. I’m sooooo self-actualized, yall.

For instance.

I’m what you might call a “big picture girl.” I like ideas. I like gigantic, stimulating concepts. I’m totally into words and books and fascinating conversations. Adventure? Yes, please. I love the fun parts of the story. Give me an experience to feel any day. You want thoughts? Oh, I have thoughts. Tons of thoughts. Ladies and gentlemen, I think things. I love to bang out my little ideas on my MacBook Air and stand on stages teaching these truths and thoughts about Jesus and life and how it all intersects in this tiny sliver of time we occupy here on Planet Earth.

But details? Not. So. Much.

I would sever a limb if I could seize the adventure and the experience and The Big Moment without wading through the ten million steps to get there. Details utterly overwhelm me. It’s severe. I think I have a disorder. My brain doesn’t contain a satisfactory compartment for minutia. Concurrent details get all jumbled together into one giant potential aneurysm, and something just clicks off. *CLICK* *GOOD-BYE* *JEN HATMAKER…OUT*

Girlcation in NYC. My friends are planning our day and route. I’m on Twitter.

Now, take every word I’ve said and think of the exact opposite. Imagine: detail person, iCalendar, spreadsheets, ledgers, To-Do lists, phone alerts, long-range and short-range planning, time management, stability, and extreme left brain functionality: That is Brandon. (The first description under left brain is “logical, sequential, rational.” Under right brain? “Random, subjective, looks at wholes instead of parts.” Have these people been spying on us?) I’m the partner who takes our offspring swimming all day. Brandon is the one who keeps the electricity turned on.

He LOVES how I manage details.

This has never caused an ounce of tension in our marriage.

When it became clear that Ben’s case was in distress and we needed to bring Remy home, we (meaning Brandon) looked at our adoption account and did some quick math. This added a third trip to Ethiopia onto the budget. If you’d like financial details here, you’ll have to ask Brandon, because I don’t know how much money we make, how much our bills are, how much it costs to fly to Ethiopia an extra time, or where our money comes from. (I tried to wade into these waters once, and after a rather aggravating conversation with me, Brandon said, “Awww. At least you’re pretty.”)

So for about a week, our plan was for me to fly to Ethiopia alone and bring Remy home, saving the exorbitant cost of a second round-trip ticket. I tried to act brave and self-assured, like, “Who can’t get to Ethiopia and back with one smallish former orphan by herself?” Forget the fact that after 12 days in the country in March, I still have no idea how many birrs equal a dollar or what street the Guest Home is on even though we (Brandon) told cab drivers the address twenty times. With Mr. Responsible by my side, I had the luxury of kissing babies and taking pictures of camels and drinking the Best Coffee On Earth every day while he worried with exchanging money and making sure we got to court on time and littlestufflikethat.

Me reading under my mosquito net in Ethiopia while Brandon does important stuff.

So I’m certain the notion of me traveling to Ethiopia alone to bring Remy home petrified Brandon to no end. We probably had a 58% chance of making it home. That train could derail at the slightest curve. I’ve already jacked it up, in fact, and we haven’t even left. I told my sister Lindsay in NYC that we’d be there Thursday for our layover and YAY I’ll get to see you for nine hours, so get off work because we need to make the most of our time, which she did, and I tell Brandon aaaaaaall about it, because OMG I haven’t seen my sister in a year so good on me for this awesome layover for once and I’m so glad her boss let her off on a busy Thursday, then Brandon tells me:

“We’ll be there Friday, not Thursday, Genius.”
“Oh my stars. Where did I get Thursday??”
“God only knows.”

And now she has to work an overnight shift because the only person who would trade with her for Friday works graveyard. This is how Brandon feels about these moments with his beloved:


So back to the doomed single parent trip. Evidently, we had enough saved for him to make the trip too, but we needed to jettison some to fund the impending third trip to bring home Beniam. Until my sister-in-law Lana and her new hubby TJ stepped in and bought Brandon’s ticket and wouldn’t hear boo about it. *Insert warm, loving feelings toward Lana and TJ* This is their Love Ben picture. On their honeymoon. In Italy.

*Insert jealous, green-eyed feelings toward Lana and TJ*

So much love and thanks to them, because now Remy will probably actually get home with a mother who has not been thrown in Ethiopian jail for forgetting to exchange birr back to dollars before leaving the country (leaving with the equivalent of $23 is illegal, and “oops, my bad” would probably be ineffective). With Brandon on board, this trip is back on the rails.

However, the quantity of details I am managing would even overwhelm The Fly Lady (I once read four sentences of her website and curled up in the fetal position. She and I would never, ever be friends.) In a helpful twist, Brandon left yesterday for the week. That’s right. The four days before our international trip, with three bio kids going in fifty different directions, bags to be packed, donations to be organized, church camp to engineer, Art Camp to figure out for Sydney next week, Caleb’s football registration, getting phone numbers/paperwork/release forms/keys/suitcases/cars from this caregiver to that one (as every kid has 1-2 house transitions in the 8 days we’re gone), and making sure we have a spotless house to bring our newest member home to, Brandon left to do the Lord’s work.

“I’ll just meet you in New York,” said Brandon Hatmaker casually.

Tra la la.

So understanding my visceral reaction to a long list of details, this week I have:

Gone to Schlitterbahn.
Taken two naps.
Invited my friends over to sit on my porch.
Invited my sister and mom over to sit on my porch the next night.
Gone to the movies.
Read “The Postmistress.”
Written a silly blog about avoiding details to avoid the details longer.
And I’m about to go to the pool.

Never fear, lambs, it will all get done. I’ll cram it in at the last second and run around like a whirling dervish, annoying everyone and acting melodramatic. And even as my detail-laden brain is suffering overload and threatening to implode, I’ll remember one last little detail and it will all be worth it: