Today is my wife, Amanda’s 26th birthday (head over to her facebook and show her some love!).  Last year, I shared 25 reasons I love her, and as I was rereading them, I realized that a lot has changed in the last year – for the better. So in honor of this special occasion, I present to you 26 new and improved reasons I love my wife (in no particular order).

1. She’s a reader. I love that both of us read a lot.  She is always reading something – usually that I haven’t read.  It makes for some great discussions, and we can kill hours in a bookstore together. Also, she’d kill me if she knew I was telling you this, but I am slowly convincing her to get an e-reader.

2. She has great style. One of our first conversations revolved around our mutual love for Chuck Taylors.  She has a unique fashion sense that means she always looks great and probably different from anyone else in the room.  In the best way. She’s also getting VERY good at buying me clothes. Which means I am starting to look more stylish (maybe).

3. She is a people person.  We’re both super-extroverted, so she loves having a housefull of guests as much as I do.  She’s wonderful with people and has never met a person she couldn’t make into a friend.

4. She’s smoking hot. But I don’t have to tell you that.  Clearly she is the hottest woman on the planet.  Sorry, fellas! BONUS – her 3/4 sleeve tattoo on her right arm is about half done and is looking fantastic!

Triceratops5. She listens to great music.  We have the same taste in music, more or less, and she’s always up for heading to a show with me, or picking up a new CD from one of our favorite bands.  She only sings along when I do too, because I sing way louder.  But it’s still fun.

6. She loves coffee. This is good because we work at a coffee shop, but also because we can drink it together in the mornings. She is super-creative and makes some incredible lattes – always some new combination of flavors.

7. People like her better than me. No exaggeration, and no lie.  It’s well-known at BCN (our church family) that I was hired as the Young Adult pastor so that they could get Amanda to Dayton. I have a tendency to be too blunt and not very compassionate, not to mention task- instead of people-oriented.  She balances me very well in that regard, and I’m learning a lot from her.  It’s pretty awesome how much everyone loves her.

8. She is a great leader. She quickly earns the right to speak truth into other people’s lives, and she does so with grace and gentleness.  It’s quite a thing to watch, and she inspires fierce loyalty in those she calls friends.

Creation Museum 29. She thinks about stuff from a theological perspective. Even though she’s not formally trained in theology like me and a lot of my friends are, she doesn’t hold back from jumping into a conversation and offering her thoughtful opinion.  She does a great job of considering all aspects of an issue, and she offers really practical advice.  Speaking of which…

10. She is always very practically minded. At the end of the day, I’ve typically been content to contemplate abstract and detached theological ideas.  Amanda is always concerned with how this changes our lives in the here and now, how we can put something into practice.  She has taught me a lot about how to make the Scriptures and my faith more real. As I’ve been preaching more often, she’s helped me to drill down on making my messages digestible and useful, not just fun to listen to.

11. She listens to my sermons ahead of time.  By the time I preach a sermon, I’ve usually talked it through at least 2-3 times.  And usually Amanda has heard at least one of those practices, offering me critiques and feedback to make my talk more focused and practical.

12. She gives great feedback. Yup… like I just said, her feedback is really good.  It’s thoughtful and helpful. Not just with sermons (though my talks are always better after I’ve given them for her, and she does a great job of helping me come up with solid, concrete content that relates better). When I’m in conflict with someone, or need to talk through an issue, she helps me get my head around it.

13. She’s fluent in Spanish. Like for real fluent.  Remember how I said people love her?  You should see her in a Spanish-speaking country.  At least 3 different people told her her Spanish was better than theirs.  She’s truly a marvel to watch in action.

El Sal Group 114. She loves to travel. You know how she got fluent in Spanish?  By living in Spain.  Oh yeah, and Mexico.  And El Salvador.  And now she’s going to Honduras twice a year.  I love that she loves to travel so much. The world is our playground, full of friends we haven’t even met yet!

15. She plays Guitar Hero and MarioKart. She doesn’t play a lot of video games, but she does play Guitar Hero and MarioKart like a fiend.  In GH she’s bumped up to Hard for a couple of songs, so watch out world.  The only thing better than rocking out at a concert together is rocking out in our TV room together. And in the Mario games, she’s always Yoshi and she’s good. Watch out, people. She will ruin you on the track.

16. She enjoys Sci-Fi. She has a soft spot for Star Trek and we watched (and loved) Battlestar Galactica together, and discussed it much.  That is way hot.

17. She’s adventurous. If you haven’t picked up on this by now, she’s the first one out the door when it’s time to explore Dayton or drive across the country to visit a friend.  We’re rarely ever home, especially on weekends.

Brandon and Manda18. She loves her family.  She has a huge extended family, and most of them live in the immediate vicinity of St. Louis, so they’re all very close.  It’s a lot of fun to hang out with all of them, and – no shocker here – they all love her quite a lot.

19. She has tattoos. Not just a couple, but lots.  And she’s working on her 3/4 sleeve right now, which is blowing my mind. As I said before, it’s looking incredible.

20. She inspires me to exercise. I hate exercise with every fiber of my being. But in the last year I ran a 5K (the worst experience of my life) and have started working out again with some friends. Why? Mainly because Amanda loves to work out and stay healthy, and she inspires me to do it, too. Her example leads me to be better – even making healthier eating choices. My mom always said with my eating habits I’d die before I was 30. But thanks to Amanda, I’m 30 and going strong, and thanks to her I’m sticking around a while.

21. She does hair for fun. If you’ve never had Manda work on your hair, you don’t know what you’re missing.  For real.  This is one of her many forms of artistic expression. She’s talked about going to Beauty School at some point, just for fun. She is Anthony Mako’s personal stylist and if we’re in the room with any of her girlfriends very long, you’ll hear “Amanda, will you do something with my hair?”

22. She disciples really well. If you haven’t figured it out by now, people are drawn to Manda, and she is always on the lookout for younger persons to mentor.  She does a great job of helping them to discover how to live in the story of the Gospel.

23. She serves better than anyone I know. She is up and serving before most other people have even figured out there’s a need.  I love doing things like Target: Dayton with her, but she has an eye for the little, everyday needs that escape me.  She’s incredible! Yes, sometimes we skip. Don't judge us.

24. She uses technology without being addicted to it (blogs, TomTom, etc.). While I have a gadget addiction, Amanda is a lot more balanced.  She can use pieces of tech for what they do well without becoming obsessed with them (read: unlike me).  She is a great check for me in my gadget obsessions. She just moved into the Smartphone world and as I said earlier, I am convinced an ereader is only a matter of time.

25. She has the Sermon on the Mount memorized. Before she started on her 3/4 sleeve (which is Sermon on the Mount-themed), she decided to memorize the whole thing (Matthew 5-7) and spent a couple of months diligently doing so.  I’m blown away.  Impressed and in awe.  She’s so awesome!

26. She indulges my nerd-osity. Amanda will watch pretty much any super-hero movie with me and shares (or at least appreciates) my abiding love for the Batman. What started as a joking obsession with Wonder Woman (to mock me) has developed into a quiet appreciation and she’s as excited for the Thor movie as I am (she loved Favreau’s Iron Man movies). She’s read a few of my comics (The Watchmen, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, and The Ultimates, anyone?) and as I mentioned above, she enjoys Sci-Fi un-ironically. Seriously – she’s the perfect woman.

**BONUS** I just found out that Amanda and the Batman SHARE THE SAME BIRTHDAY! This is without question the most awesome surprise EVER!

There you have it… 26 of the 100s of reasons I love my wife.  And what about you?  What do you love about Amanda?

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