Father’s Day Fail

When Ben and I got married, someone gave us the book “The Five Love Languages”. I dutifully read it and took the test. When it told me that I best understand expressions of love like quality time, words of affirmation, and acts of service, this made sense. Gifts and physical touch, not so much. I like practical stuff, and I’m not a huggy person.

Ben never could figure out what his love languages were for sure. He didn’t take any test, but he thought physical touch was most important for him, and based on seventeen years of living with him,  I guessed acts of service were high up there as well. But I was pretty sure words of affirmation weren’t a big priority. Every year on his birthday, I used to write meaningful notes in birthday cards. I still write loving blog posts about him every year, and I always wait anxiously for him to read them. And his reaction is the same – he says, “Thank you. That’s very nice.” And that’s all. Since it never seems to blow him away, I just assumed words of affirmation were more my thing.

Here’s where my giant failure comes in: This year for Father’s Day, we were super sneaky about getting a gift that would surprise him, and we talked about what would be fun to do together as a family, but when the idea of a card crossed my mind, my thoughts were “A card? Hmm….nah, he’s not really into cards and words of affirmation”, and I totally ditched the idea.


So we were sitting in a restaurant waiting for our food on Father’s Day, and the topic of love languages came up. I was ready to get some answers out of this easy-going husband of mine, so I found a test on my phone, and made him take it right then and there. The results? WORDS OF AFFIRMATION!!! What in the world?! Also, physical touch and acts of service, just like we’d guessed. But I totally did not see that first one coming. And I skipped the card! And didn’t get our kids to make a card!!


Never again. I won’t let his easy-going reaction fool me anymore, and he will receive the most beautifully worded cards from now on.

Words of advice for everyone reading this: Take the test! And make your loved ones take it too! And never skip the card!! Sheesh.

But we had a fun day, and it was great to celebrate Ben.

I really, really love Ben. He’s the most wonderful person to be around. He is always in a good mood, he changes the atmosphere of any room he walks into, he draws people to him and laughter out of them, and he brings all the fun into our home, along with large doses of wisdom and level-headedness. And fortunately, he’s so easy-going that I’m sure he’ll be totally fine with my late attempt to honour him with words of affirmation! But I’ll do better next year.;)

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How I Met Ben

One of my favorite things is hearing how couples met. Those are always such fun, interesting stories, and everybody gets happy and a bit giggly when asked to share.:)

Even though Ben and I don’t make a big deal about Valentine’s Day, today seemed like a good day to share our little story of how we met:

I was determined not to like Ben long before I ever met him.

I was working on spring staff at Red Rock Bible Camp, and I had someone very different picked out for my future. But one day when I saw the summer staff list, I noticed Ben’s name on the list. I knew that some of my friends had gone to college with a Ben Dueck, so I asked one of them if the Ben she knew was coming to work at camp for the summer. It was the same Ben, but I was not impressed when she burst out with, “Kendra, you’re totally going to date him!! He has a girlfriend, but you’ll totally break them up!”

That made me mad. I was no boyfriend stealer. And I didn’t need any new potential-boyfriend material, because I already knew what I wanted.  And I would prove to her that I would not date Ben Dueck. Especially since his last name was “Dueck.” My last name was Dueck. That would just be weird.

When he arrived at camp a few weeks later, I did my very best to avoid him.

But people kept introducing him to me. I’d try to sneak past the crowd of people with Ben Dueck in the middle of it, but someone would call out, “Hey, Kendra, have you met Ben yet?” I would mutter something polite and hurry away. And then 10 minutes later, I’d get called over by somebody else saying, “Kendra, I don’t think you’ve met Ben yet!” And I would say, “Yes, actually I have.” And then I’d leave again.

Later that day, all of the staff had to go up to the chapel to find out what skills (camp activities) we’d be teaching for the summer. I was pretty sure that I would be teaching canoeing, because I had taught it the whole summer before. What I did not expect, though, was that I’d be leading canoeing together with… Ben Dueck.

And when the director introduced the Head Skill Instructors as “Ben and Kendra Dueck”, I was extremely unimpressed.

The boy that I actually wanted to date was right there. And I was not going to date Ben Dueck. So there was no need to make it sound like we were married.

But… the problem was that the more time we spent together, the more I found out how much we just clicked. I laughed at his jokes, and he laughed at mine. We talked about anything and everything, and I couldn’t help becoming friends with him.

Every year, Red Rock Bible Camp has an Open House. Anyone can come and try out all of the different camp activities, and see what the camp is like. My parents came to visit me that day, and since Ben and I had to be in charge of helping people get set up for canoeing, my parents spent the day with us down by the lake.

And it was so much fun, so natural. But he was the wrong guy! If I was going to spend the day with a boy and my parents, I would not have picked Ben Dueck!

But when my parents left that day, my dad told my mom, “He’s the one Kendra’s going to marry.

He didn’t say anything to me about it, but every time I called home that summer, my dad always asked about “his friend Ben.” This annoyed me, so I finally told him, “He has a girlfriend!!” And my dad replied, “That can all change.”

My determination NOT to date Ben was probably the best thing for our friendship, because we were able to get to know each other without any games or confusion. He had a girlfriend, he was off limits, but he really did make the most delightful friend.

Once summer was over, we went our separate ways. I was back at college with my dream boy, and even when my friend made sure to tell me that Ben had broken up with his girlfriend, I didn’t think it affected me in any way.

But one day, Dream Boy and I got into a fight, and as I sat there listening to him yell at me, all I could think was, “Ben would never do this to me. He would never, ever, EVER do this to me. WHAT HAVE I BEEN THINKING?!!!!” I walked out of that room, went back to dorm, and called Ben. Fortunately, he was gone on a mission trip for a few weeks, which gave me a little bit of time to clear my thoughts, but I didn’t need much time, because everything was suddenly crystal clear to me.

We hung out just as “friends” for a few months, although I think we both had a pretty good idea where things were going. It took a little while to move our friendship to dating status, but I think deep down, I knew from the very beginning that Ben and I were good together. God needed to get us out of where we were, but our relationship has always been pretty easy and natural. We have things to work through sometimes, but really, Ben is just the most wonderful person to be with. I am thankful for every single day that I get to spend with Ben!

Ben and Kendra

He Makes Me Laugh

It had been a long day of running errands in the city, and I came home feeling distraught, because I’d come dangerously close to hitting a pedestrian. The sun had been shining at the exact angle which made me unable to see the lights flashing at a pedestrian crossing, and I had slammed on my brakes just in time to avoid hitting the child who suddenly ran across.

I described what had happened to Ben, embarrassed by my mistake and feeling like a horrible driver. He listened patiently and sympathetically, and as usual, was quiet for just the right length of time when I finished speaking before saying anything. But after 16 1/2 years of marriage, I know that whatever comes after that small silence will always be worth waiting for, and once again, I was right. When Ben finally spoke, he said, “Just think about all the people you actually hit, and didn’t even notice!”

As always, he made me burst out laughing instead of bursting into tears, and reminded me for the millionth time not to take myself too seriously or beat myself up unnecessarily for a mistake made – or in this case, didn’t actually make!

Years ago, my older, wiser sister once said, “In the beginning, you think you know exactly why you’re marrying your husband, and what you love most about him, but as the years go by, you realize you hardly even knew him at the beginning, and you love him even more for all the things you’ve learned about him since then.”

Ben has always made me laugh, and I’ve known that from the first day, but as I look back over the years we’ve been married, I can see how his ability to diffuse an intense situation with his sense of humour and lighthearted warmth and goofiness has kept our whole family in balance. I love many, many things about him – his sensitivity, humility, wisdom, unselfishness, and amazing ability to listen, but lately, I’ve been thinking about how I love the way he makes me laugh.

He adds so much joy to my life, and has shown me repeatedly how laughter changes situations and people. I am so thankful our kids can grow up in a home where there is so much laughter.

Yesterday was Ben’s birthday, and it’s tradition for me to write birthday posts for my family. As I thought about what I wanted to say about Ben this time, the picture which remained stuck in my head was of him sitting next to me on the couch, grinning in the way he does after he’s said something he knows was hilarious and made me shriek with laughter.  I love the person he is, and I’m thankful for everything that makes him “Ben”, but today, like many days, I’m thankful for how he makes me laugh.

Ben and Kendra

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Ben Stories

Everyone in the room roared with laughter, and all I wanted to do was get out of there as fast as possible, but I couldn’t move.

I was on summer staff Red Rock Bible Camp, and one of the staff members was showing off his ability to perfectly imitate anyone’s way of walking – he had just imitated mine with uncomfortable accuracy, and there was something disturbing about seeing a bearded, six foot guy swinging his arms and moving his hips in a way I recognized immediately, even though I’d never consciously paid attention to the details of how I moved.

The rest of the summer staff in the lounge thought it was hilarious, but I sank into my chair, trying not to cry. I hated to be embarrassed and have attention drawn to me in a roomful of people. But if I got up to leave the room, I’d have to walk, and they’d all be watching me to see if he had gotten it right. I remember feeling trapped and panicky, trying to think of how to get out of there before I burst into tears.

Ben was also on staff that summer, and although we had become friends right away, he didn’t know me very well at that point yet, but somehow, he noticed how uncomfortable I was, and knew exactly how to help me. He quickly elbowed the guy beside him, they jumped up, grabbed my chair, and carried me out of the room.

They put me and my chair down right outside the doors to the lounge and ran back in, leaving me alone to flee to the safety of my cabin with no one watching.

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A little girl living at Red Rock Bible Camp was lost, and no one had seen her for hours. She had followed her little brother into the bush, and taken a wrong turn. It was during Staff Camp a few days after I first met Ben, and the staff spent one terrible afternoon searching for her, walking through miles of bush and calling her name, until she was finally found later that evening.

The full time staff were all so busy dealing with the crisis, no one had time to serve dessert when we took a break for supper. The dessert cart was put out, and it was announced that we should all help ourselves while those in leadership left for an emergency meeting. It was a quiet meal as everyone forced down some food before heading back out to search. I remember looking up just in time to see Ben jump out of his seat, head for the dessert cart, and start serving all the other staff members. Nobody needed to do it – we could all just have gotten up and served ourselves, but as I watched him, I was thinking it was a really kind and thoughtful thing to do, caring for a group of people feeling tired and stressed.

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It was my twentieth birthday, and my camp mailbox was filled with little notes and cards from my friends. There was a note from my new friend Ben – “If you ever need to talk, come find me, and whatever I’m doing, I’ll stop to buy you a chocolate bar and hang out for a little while.” A few days later, I went to find him to take him up on his offer. I remember finding him with the weed whipper, wearing safety googles and ear phones. He stopped what he was doing as soon as he saw me, and I said, “I think today would be a good day for that chocolate bar, whenever you have time.”

He said, “I have time right now.”

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This weekend, it’s 16 years since we got married.

Ben and KendraFor some reason, I keep thinking back to that first summer I met Ben, and all the little snippets of memories I filed away in my mind as I got to know him. He was dating somebody else, and I liked a different boy at camp, which changed how we became friends. He didn’t flirt with me and do things for me just because he was trying to start anything – he was always just his kind, thoughtful self, and even though he hadn’t known me very long, he somehow seemed to sense exactly what I needed. He would drop whatever he was doing to care for a friend.

I kept thinking of him as a very nice friend for many months, until one day, it finally dawned on me that someone as amazing as Ben was exactly who I’d been trying to find. He wasn’t dating anyone anymore, I had finally seen the light, and suddenly his friendship was far more important to me than I’d realized.

I went straight to my dorm room and called him at his dorm room 20 minutes away, trying to sound terribly casual, mentioning I’d be in town later that week, and we should go for coffee. He sounded enthusiastic when he agreed, but I felt very awkward, because everything had just changed for me. I tried to act the same as I always had, but when he asked me why I was in town, and the truth came out that I needed a new battery for the answering machine in my phone, I think he started to get suspicious. He asked, “Couldn’t you have gone somewhere closer for that?!”

But I don’t remember what I said. I just remember him pouring milk all over his brownie, drowning it into a soggy mess, and eating it with as much satisfaction on his face as he still gets today.

We hung out “as friends” a few more times, and then it was his turn to awkwardly call, asking me out on an official date. It’s so funny to think back to those early memories, because in some ways, he really hasn’t changed. He is still always looking out for me, somehow knowing what I need, dropping everything he’s doing to help me out, ready to listen, wanting to make me feel better. If I could still eat chocolate, I’m sure he would bring me some all the time.

Thank goodness God finally opened my eyes all those years ago. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this for anything.

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Quoting Ben

Both my mom and my mother-in-law often ask if I’m remembering to write down all the funny things our girls say, and I do. But I’ve also started writing down the funny things Ben says. Between the three of them, we have a lot of funny moments in our home. (With Everett’s goofy personality already showing strong, I have no doubt I’ll be laughing for many more years to come!!) Ben has taught them well…

Today is Ben’s birthday, so in honour of my favorite person to laugh with, I share with you some of his best moments from this last year:

Ev & Ben

While reading an article about how my personality type interacts with Ben’s personality type in a marriage relationship:

Me: “This article says we have an effortless relationship, and I’m drawn to your positive energy.”

Ben: “It’s like you are the moth, and I am the flame.”

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On a day when I was feeling a little discouraged and down about myself:

Me: “Tell me something nice about myself.”

Ben: “Your voice is like the caress of 1000 puppies licking my feet.”

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Me: “So my physiotherapist says if I keep clenching my butt muscles while I do squats, I’ll be able to squeeze a penny between my butt cheeks.”

Ben: “Ah, yes, the old penny trick.”

Me: “You talk as though you have experience!”

Ben: “I never saw that penny again…. I don’t like to speak of it.”

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Me: frantically mixing some biscuits so I’ll have something to eat for breakfast.
Ben, coming into the kitchen: “Oh, you’re a good mom!”
Me: “These are for me…..”
Ben: “Oh. I thought you were baking a birthday cake for Anika.”
Me: “Shoot, am I not a good mom after all??!!”
Ben: “Oh, you’re still a good mom, just…not in the way I was acknowledging…at this moment….”

He’s always able to word things so delicately.

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Telling the girls about our first date:

Kendra: “I remember that Daddy was wearing tan pants, and a black and blue sweater with green stripes.”

Ben: “Mommy was dressed in starlight and beauty.”

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Kaylia: “I want to have a Frozen birthday party. I want a Frozen cake, and Frozen cupcakes, and everyone can dress up like Elsa or Anna.”

Me: “How about we don’t have a theme this year? It’s your birthday, not Elsa’s or Anna’s. How about we just celebrate your birthday, without Frozen stuff?”

Ben: ” It’s JFK’s birthday – she could have a JFK-themed party.”

Hang Up and Try Again

When Ben and I were in that awkward, in-between stage of “More Than Friends, But Not Actually Dating Yet”, we met for coffee one evening. We were at the restaurant for hours, and I was thinking everything was going really well, until Ben started telling me a story about one of his friends who happened to be female, which was fine, except that for some unknown reason, he felt the need to clarify, “I have lots of friends who are girls.”

Well, then.

I analyzed that one all the way home, and for the next few days. What was his point in telling me that??! I was convinced it was his subtle way of letting me know I was just one of the masses of other girls he spent time with as friends. Maybe he was making sure I didn’t read anything into going out for coffee, and get the wrong idea.

That was 17 years ago, but I remember it clearly. I can still feel that wave of disappointment as I sat there feeling foolish for ever thinking there was anything beyond friendship going on between us. How could I have misread everything?! Obviously Ben, with his MASSIVE fan club, was out of my league…

Ben, on the other hand, does not remember a thing. He has absolutely no idea why he said it. And then a month later, he asked me out on our first date, and I was no longer just one of the crowd of girls he was friends with. Lucky me.;)

usI think about this sometimes, because it amazes me how crazy communication can be. How we can say something in the moment, meaning nothing serious by it, but the other person can take it COMPLETELY the wrong way? How can one sentence can be taken deeply into the heart, while the other doesn’t even remember saying it?

I think about grumpy waitresses, or sales people who seem incredibly rude, and I struggle with keeping a good attitude in spite of their responses to me. Or I think about those mornings when I am completely frazzled by the time I get all three kids out the door, and we’re not operating at our peak – there are probably times when we cross paths with people who hear something different coming out of my mouth than what I’m actually meaning for them to hear.

There’s this fantastic scene in the movie “What About Bob?” where he is explaining how he deals with these kinds of situations:

“I treat people as if they were telephones – don’t break the connection, just hang up and try again.”

Sometimes I hope people will hang up and try again with me! And often I think of needing to forget an unfortunate encounter with someone, and give them a second chance.

Sometimes, I still misunderstand Ben, and need to unravel the emotions that get fired up in the miscommunication.

I realize there are people who know how to do this very naturally (because I live with one of them!), but then there are those of us who need a lot of self-talk to remind ourselves not to take everything quite so seriously, and to hang up and try again!;)

Anniversary ABCs

Today is our 15th anniversary. As I was thinking about this week, the two big things on my mind were our anniversary and school starting, which resulted in my idea to write some anniversary ABCs for my dear Ben, which I’m sure he’ll find really cheesy, but we’ll go with it.;)

usAlways able to make me laugh in any situation.

Brilliant at making gravy, pancakes, or stir-fry. (Not at the same time!)

Calm and caring.

Doesn’t say unkind things about people.

Eats anything, willing to try everything, and is not picky about what I cook.

Fun-loving and playful.

Generous and gentle.

Helpful and willing to do whatever he can around the house.

Imaginative.

Joyful.

Keeps getting more handsome with each year.:)

Listens amazingly well and never interrupts.

Massages like a professional.

Never loses his temper.

Outgoing and friendly.

Patient.

Quick to apologize and forgive.

Respectful of other people.

Speaks logic and insight into my stressful situations.

Turns on music to make the work more fun.:)

Unselfish.

Valuable opinions about getting along with people and understanding what makes them tick.

Wise.

eXcellent at bringing fun into any situation.

Young at heart.

Zany sense of humour.

Being married to Ben is the best thing ever! I’m sure we’ll do something terribly romantic to celebrate tonight, like…take Anika to Junior Youth for the first time, give Kaylia a bath, clean up the kitchen, and watch our latest favorite show after making kale chips! Or something like that. Hopefully we can get away for something a little more out of the ordinary sometime soon!