Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #1
So, I’ve been asked by 2 different people to do the Love Your Spouse Challenge. I’ve seen mixed reviews about what people think about this, so I had tried to kind of stay away from it LOL. Some people think it’s totally awesome and want to do it, and some people are against and think it’s like showing that your life is perfect. So...when the second person tagged me to do it, I thought, Okay, well, I can do it my own way...right? And if you know me personally, you know I’m pretty authentic. I won’t vomit any business out here in Facebook land, but I will be real. Marriage is hard. We just celebrated 13 years, and I would say 9 of them have been happy LOL. The first ones were rough, and we had some big time stuff to deal with. We almost lost it in 2007, but by God’s grace and a lot of counseling, we pressed on. And let me tell you, if took both of us – both of us totally humbling ourselves to try to learn and seek God and stop addictions and bad habits and learn new beliefs that were actually TRUE about ourselves, individually. So, that’s my disclaimer. I want to participate in the challenge, but I want everyone to know...no perfection here. Struggles sometimes. Rough nights sometimes. Sometimes crying. Sometimes total intimacy that God completely intended for marriage. I wouldn’t trade the bad stuff we’ve been through, but at the time, it really did feel like death to me. But, guess what? It brought life. More life than I could have imagined.
So...here’s Day #1 of the Love Your Spouse Challenge. We look so young cutting this cake. I remember I was afraid Landon would smash my bite in my face, but he didn’t. I was so naive about marriage, and bless it, who isn’t?? I thought it was going to be a fairy tale. Looking back at our wedding day brings so much joy to see what we’ve made it through. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but today, God has sustained us, and I want to keep walking! My dress was beautiful, ya’ll! And my wedding rings – I would pick the same of almost everything today (well, except about 9 million things that I would change LOL). I will never forget our looooong vows, and Billy Joy doing our wedding, and David Wise and Christy Wise Descoteaux singing, and Jennifer Ritter Moore singing. It was total perfection in my mind. Such a wonderful and sweet day. Even spending our first night in new our home together – even if the car did drop us off and we were locked out of our house. Landon Frymire, I would choose it all again...I would choose YOU again. Here’s to unperfect, blessed, God-graced marriage.
Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #2
I have a confession to make. I was a weeeeee bit controlling when we first got married. And by that I mean, I really, really thought I was Holy Spirit to Landon. I mean, don’t I look godly??! I wanted to tell him EVERYTHING to do; I wanted to change that man – shape him up to be who I married. Thumbs up. Great idea. I remember one night while I was showering (because I’m a night shower-er), I could hear something in the kitchen. Turned out, when I went in to investigate - Landon decided to get ice cream while I was getting a shower because he knew I wouldn’t approve of his ice cream eating. By the time I was finished in the shower, he had washed the bowl and put it back in the cabinet as if nothing had ever happened. Oh yes. This is a great marriage – you can’t even get a bowl of ice cream without your wife being on you about it. Holy Spirit is a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it...right?? Wrong. I created an environment in my home that made it unsafe for my husband to be himself. Unsafe for him to make mistakes. To try and fail. To confess wrongs. And trust me because now I know, that’s not a good environment. It’s a GREAT environment to foster wearing a constant mask and hiding big stuff that later WILL come out and be a complete disaster. Looking back, I wonder what would have happened if I had been a safe person from the beginning. But, we all have a journey to take, and this was part of mine. And, remember that being safe does NOT mean being a doormat – it doesn’t mean accepting abuse or not living with boundaries – it just means being a balance of truth and grace living and actually letting GOD do His own Holy Spirit job. Good idea, huh?
This picture is from July of 2008. We were celebrating our 5th anniversary at the Sundial in Atlanta. We had been living in Atlanta then (in Woodstock) for 2.5 years. We had been through a lot in that past year. In fact, we’d been through a lot since we were married. Soon after we were married, Landon felt a call to ministry, and I felt that too. With some great wisdom and incredible God stories, we moved to New Orleans for Landon to go seminary. 3 months later, we lost our home in Hurricane Katrina. Had no clue what to do. Moved back home for a semester. In the fall of 2005, we met Pastor Johnny Hunt and were introduced to Woodstock, and that forever changed us. Because of the mentoring opportunity Landon had with Pastor Johnny, he completed seminary remotely in Atlanta and in the middle of 2007, right in the middle of his mentoring year, we nearly lost our marbles (and by that I mean our marriage). God had sovereignly placed us where we were – a safe environment for help and counseling and groups when a big mess came out – and we fought for it and we learned and we made it. We began to learn what a marriage meant. So, by the time we took this picture in 2008, we were looking hopeful. Genuinely hopeful at our life. So, here we are at the Sundial. 5th anniversary. A broken man and a broken woman looking to Jesus for our identities and counting on Him for the Plan. And, that’s still what we’re doing. I learned that the real Landon is the one I really love. The real one – who leaves clothes on the floor sometimes, and forgets his stuff once in a while, and has some real struggles. Guess what...just like ME (gasp). The real Landon who I now intimately know and love – his deep thoughts and feelings, and his greatest loves and hopes and dreams, and fears. And you know, it was worth it. I don’t know what the future holds. Beats me. But I know I’ll make it because when I thought I would die almost 10 years ago, I didn’t. I made it. And Father became more real to me than I had ever known He could be. And that is what living is about.
Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #3
I still love to travel with Landon, and I’ve learned (um, some) to tone down expectations. One of the most memorable trips we’ve ever taken – and probably will ever take – was our trip with Pastor Johnny to Israel in 2007. It was absolutely incredible. That’s the picture I’ve attached today – us standing in front of the garden tomb. I’ll NEVER forget Billy Goodwin singing “Arise My Love” in front of that tomb. We love to go to Gatlinburg to cabins together, always love to visit the Mouse, we’ve been on three cruises (long ago...), out to L.A., oh, and lest I forget...NYC. That’s one of our very favorites. I think we could actually live in NYC. Traveling is awesomely fun with someone you love to hang out with (as long as they don’t have a cold).
One more story about our trip to D.C. We’ve had this bad argument. It’s the middle of the night. We are sleeping...soundly. All of a sudden, someone is knocking on the door. Out of a dead sleep, I start yelling, “SOMEBODY’S IN HERE!” In my mind, this is what you say when you are in a restroom, and someone knocks on the door. I guess, in my sleeping stupor, I was trying to tell the killer/stranger/housekeeping that someone was in the hotel room, so go away. Well, Landon thought I was yelling that someone was in our room, and it scared him to death. I laugh and laugh thinking about how funny that was.
Marriage as a team is great. Marriage feeling isolated and alone just plain sucks. Unrealistic expectations have caused me to feel alone many times, when if I’d just been willing to embrace reality, and lighten up a little bit, we could have laughed and moved on. Next trip for us...I don’t know, Landon Frymire, what’s your dream? I’d love to go out west somewhere. But we’ll see...hopefully, we have plenty of years together to travel to lots of new and exciting places...with realistic expectations, of course.
Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #4
Man, having kids changes EVERYTHING. Not in a bad way...but if you were a regimented type person before...hahahahaha...you get to learn some lessons on flexibility. I remember trying to decide together if we were “ready” to have children. I had people say that if you wait until you are “ready”, you’ll never have children. I think that is somewhat true. We had James after being married for 7 years. We didn’t plan to wait that long (I only had us on the 5 year plan), but life circumstances prevailed, and that’s just the way it went. I was fortunate to get pregnant easily, not having a clue that I actually had some issues that would require a couple of surgeries before being able to get pregnant again about 5 years later. I remember looking at the pregnancy test and thinking, “Oh my goodness! I am too crazy to be a mother!” LOL. It’s been the most wonderful journey. A journey of learning soooo much more about who I am. Motherhood is a new piece to discover about your personality, how much capacity your heart has to love, and how fiercely your desire is to protect someone. James was the sweetest baby. We were thrilled when he was born (born early...I went into labor on Father’s Day night, and our parents drove all night to get to the hospital just in time for the C section), and watching him change and grow has been an incredible privilege. In the midst of just regular daily life, it sure is hard to juggle – husband, children, job, going to the bathroom, cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry...I could continue for pages and pages of all “mom” responsibilities. One thing that I really, really struggle with is putting Landon above our kids. I wish I was writing this to say, YES! I got it figured out, and here’s how to do it!! But, I’m not. I’m writing as one tired momma, saying I know this is where I really fail most of the time. I feel guilty about it, and I just keep getting up and trying again. What I fear is waking up one day when our children our gone, and saying, “um, who are you again?” I want to fight to know Landon deeply despite being in this season where our children pull every last ounce of energy from us every day.
Most nights, once I get Silas in bed, then I move to James (if Landon is not already working on getting him to bed). After reading to James and praying with him, I tell him goodnight and leave his room. Sometimes it takes me what feels like forever in my exhaustion from the day to kiss him goodnight – he wants me to throw him on the bed, to try to kiss him and he tries to get away, he wants to to roll over at the last second when I try to kiss him, and do all that stuff over and over and over. Sometimes he grabs my head to keep me from getting away, and ya’ll, the truth is that sometimes I just want to bite him. He won’t let go, and I am D.O.N.E, and I have this urge to just bite him. Now, don’t worry, I’ve never bitten him, so no need to call law enforcement – just trying to convey how over it I am some nights. Even in the privilege of motherhood, exhaustion prevails. And then, I’m supposed to leave his room and be ready for the “wife” role. Caring about someone else more than myself when that’s all I’ve done all day, too. And you know what I really feel like? I wish I had rules. Commands. Don’t touch me. Nobody touch me. Not for one single reason. I need space. NOW. And lots of it, or I might bite you. I need to sit down. Alone. I need someone to get me some water and put it on the table by my chair. Did I mention please don’t touch me? Because at that point, I have to get started on my part time job that I do from home – and I work 3 or 4 hours, normally, each night, at least. I don’t feel the need for space every single night, but I do lots of nights. I love to wave to Landon across the room....hey, how are you?, how was your day?, hope it was good, don’t ask for me anything, I don’t want to help you with anything, I need space. But hey, that never created oneness, now did it? That only created two-ness. So, it’s a battle I fight in my mind. How to serve my husband best. How to put my needs aside. And Landon is awesome. He totally gets the season of life we are in. Heck, he’s exhausted too! He’s on the couch trying to do his work, too, even though he’s already worked all day. We are a tired mom and a tired dad. Yet, we know in our heads that intimacy is important – all kinds of intimacy.
The other night, we were climbing into bed, and Landon goes, “What’s this???” There was something dark brown raked all down the side of the bed – on his side. It was Silas’ banana chocolate chip muffin – the chocolate part – from where Silas has to grab onto the bed as hard as he can with his little fingers to pull himself up onto our tall bed. It cracked me up. I thought, yep, this is life. Landon said he could have a snack later if he woke up and needed some chocolate chips. I guess I need to change those sheets, huh?
Marriage is such a privilege – as is motherhood. And it’s a lot of work. A lot of investment. And I know that God gives a lot of grace. Grace for seasons of life. Grace for wanting to bite your kid. Grace for leaving the sheets on two days after you realized there was chocolate chip smashed down the side of your bed. Being Landon’s wife is a privilege, and sometimes when we once in a while sit together on the couch and eat dessert and watch Law and Order SVU, I feel settled and stable and grounded and reminded that this is where I want to be, and I’m willing to do the work. In this chocolate chip streaking, too long goodnight kissing season and the next.
Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #5
The boys are in bed, Landon is working on lesson plans for this new school week, and I have work to do. Oh, and I have a cold. I need some rest. Shoot, I need a vacation. Landon asked me tonight, “Do you ever think at any point in life you won’t feel stressed?” I said, “Maybe in retirement?” We laughed and went on, but it made me think how life is so much of what you focus on – if you focus on stressful things most of the time, then you are stressed most of the time. This is always, always a struggle for me. Always has been. I mean, haven’t we all been in a church service where the pastor asked us to bring our worries to the altar and leave them? I’ve left mine a million times and picked them back up. Every. Single. Time. Without. Fail.
Back in the fall of 2013, I was struggling with some health stuff. I began having heart palpitations that I knew were probably stress related, but they started to scare me. I couldn’t get a handle on it. I wore one of those heart monitors for 48 hours or so, and the results came back that I had PVC’s. Premature Ventricular Contractions. No big deal (unless they become a big deal), but one of the causes was stress. Our family had been going hard. We’d been dealing with church stuff, infertility/surgery stuff for me, James being in preschool, juggling my part time work, etc. We had not planned to take much time off for Thanksgiving, but as Thanksgiving drew near, we decided we really needed some family time. Some time to just get away and relax and recharge. After visiting my Granny down in Winter Haven over Thanksgiving, we headed to see Mickey Mouse. James had never been, and having grown up in Florida, Landon and I had been a ton of times and loved going as much as possible. We got a GREAT Costco deal (have I mentioned I crazy love Costco?), and stayed at a beautiful hotel. I remember us checking in on Saturday night, around 8:30pm-ish, and hauling our stuff up to our room. We busted into the room, and threw our stuff down. You know how funny kids are. James was checking it out, running all over the room (probably licking all the furniture before I could Lysol it), and then we heard a noise. Our hotel was shooting off fireworks, and guess what, they were right outside our window. We all laid down on the bed – facing the window. James in between us and our heads propped up on our hands. And all of sudden...I rested. I took the fireworks in. I only thought about fireworks. I glanced over, and I could see Landon watching them, and I could see James completely enamored by the fireworks, and I thought, “This is a really special moment. Remember it.” I wasn’t thinking about the church or my job or whether or not I was a good mom or a good wife or what James was going to have for lunch the next day, or what I needed to do to serve someone better - I just enjoyed something. I was actually in the moment.
Being in the moment is a struggle for me. In fact, being in the moment is such a struggle for me that years ago, a counselor told me I needed to “plan to be spontaneous”. That means you struggle with anything that is not planned ahead of time (AMEN and Can I get a witness??). That trip to Disney World was fabulous. We had an awesome time. Landon and I enjoyed the time together, and we enjoyed watching James discover everything DISNEY! We weren’t stressed, and it’s a great memory in my mind of a time when we really, really needed a break – some rest – physically and emotionally – and we got it. We were physically tired by the end of the trip, but I was mentally completely rejuvenated. It is a time I look back on now and remember. I don’t always have to push so hard. I don’t always have to have things figured out. It’s okay if I am not perfect sometimes. It’s even okay if someone doesn’t like me (GASP – I still have to repeat this one to myself often). And, it’s okay to rest. My best is good enough.
Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #6
Almost the end of the challenge. As I think about BIG moments for us in our marriage, I would say a big one was when James became a Christian last year. We have talked with James about Jesus since he was born – I remember singing “Jesus Loves Baby James (instead of the little children)” over and over to him, and “Jesus Loves James this I Know” while rocking and rocking in his room during those midnight feedings. The house was so quiet and still in the middle of the night, and he would drink his milk, and I would pray and pray. I saw Jen Hatmaker’s FB post yesterday from where they took their oldest son to college. I cried reading her post. She just left him there. Left him at school. And that was it. That season is over and done. I can hardly take it. I immediately thought I should have another baby right away so that I could have one more baby here that would be left and go to college last, at least. But then I came to my senses and knew I shouldn’t decide to have another baby just so I’d have a few more years with another child at home. Well, I think I came to my senses, at least.
My children knowing Jesus is life to me. I want to hold those two little buddies so tight in my hands. I want to squeeze them and never, ever let them out of my sight. We were discussing a situation with a wise friend about letting go of your children to do something I thought, specifically, was risky and could be unsafe, and I actually said a cuss word. And ya’ll, I don’t say many cuss words. The helicopter is sometimes so loud hovering above my children that I can’t hear myself think! But at night, when I’m rocking Silas (still, because he lets me), I pray and pray. I pray that I will hold both my boys with open hands. I visualize my hands literally open and both of them sitting in my hands and me lifting them up to the Lord. I ask Him to do anything in their lives for His glory. To bring Him glory. To show His power and might. And I ask Him to bring me to my knees before Him – not my will, but His. I pray for their future wives (hopefully), and I pray that I wouldn’t make any choices in my life that would count me out of my children’s lives later. You never know. We are all one decision away from stupid.
Silas can’t say Jesus yet. We are working on it. He says “pay” when we pray at meals, and he says “men” when we finish for Amen. But he runs his mouth and eats during the whole prayer. Hey, one step at a time, right? James asks lots of questions. And I mean a lot. He’s asked questions about Jesus for a long time. Just about since he could talk. We’ve answered them, and let him take the lead. I remember last September when he began really asking more and more questions. We could see he was close to understanding. We sought the Lord deeply to ensure that it wasn’t us leading him. That he really was coming as a child; understanding as a child understands. And he did. And now, discipleship. That seems more difficult to me than the initial leading to Jesus. Leading by example – are you kidding me? I want my children to grow up and remember that when they got out of bed in the mornings as kids, their mom was sitting at the table reading her Bible. If they were gone from the house now, they wouldn’t have that memory, because I don’t do that. But it’s a desire I have. And I pray that I will make it a reality. The night that James told me he was ready to become a Christian, but he wanted to talk to Daddy about it...my heart soared. It literally grew wings and flew around rejoicing.
I included the picture of the day he was baptized. What a celebration. To know that he will be with us forever and forever in heaven. And I’m sure a day will come where he will understand more and more and will come to a deeper understanding of what sin is and what Christ did for us and what that means as a young adult/adult. I pray we will continue to disciple him well. That God will give us the grace to meet James exactly where he needs it.
James also asks questions like, “Mom, does Dad get to see your chest?” And, I am not even joking. This was a conversation we had last week – one evening I was putting him to bed. I gotta pray for LOTS of wisdom for those kinds of conversations, too.
Having children is a privilege. Watching them with their Daddy is an unbelievable privilege. Landon is a great dad. He invests time with them, and not just time talking – hands on time, playing, wrestling, doing “man” stuff outside together, and talking to them about Jesus – on their level. There is no man I could have chosen for a husband that would have been a better dad for these two boys. Watching him with them makes me love him even more. I’m grateful for a life partner who is in agreement that Jesus is the most important thing we need to teach them – and when they grow up, I pray that they will say: I watched my parents follow Jesus. They didn’t just raise me in church; they raised me in Christ.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4
Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #7
There was a year when I didn’t think I’d make it. A moment for me when my world stopped turning. When the little Barbie doll dream house I invented in my mind was crushed. I was numb. I went to work like a zombie. I vividly remember pulling my keyboard tray out and typing like a shell of a person without any feelings. I rode home in carpool. And then when I got home, I would fall apart. Every day. For months. I would cry in almost every room of the house. One night I cried out on the deck and it started pouring rain, and I didn’t even care. I cried and I cried and I cried, and when I didn’t think there were any tears left, I cried again. But God. But God intervened. But God redeemed. But God whispered that He had a plan for me. It wasn’t what I thought. It wasn’t what I signed up for, Lord knows. I thought if you prayed hard enough and tried to make good choices that nothing bad would happen to you. But that’s not the way a sin fallen world works. A sin fallen world mows you down until you don’t think you can get up. Until you cry in every room until you are hopeless and spent and exhausted. But God. Months passed. I began to feel more. Deep pain came sometimes, but sometimes I almost felt like myself. Counseling continued. Changes happened. Boundaries were set. Healing began. Humility reigned after recognizing pride. I was prideful. I was black and white regarding life but expecting not to be judged in a black and white way. Friends stood by. They held on tight and didn’t let go as we walked a dream crushing journey. The journey that led to death. But the journey that then, after death, led to life. Sound familiar? Jesus’ death led to life. Jesus’ death led to healing.
And you know what? I sat today – almost 10 years after the year I didn’t think I’d make it – and I cried in a counselor’s office. Not for the same reasons I cried all those years ago. I cried trying to explain to the counselor how proud I am of my husband. How incredible I think he is. How much I respect him. How in the last couple of years, I’ve watched him walk through adversity and trials and betrayal and difficult people – and we’ve been a team through that hurt. If we hadn’t been through the death and rebirth of our marriage those years ago, I don’t think we could’ve remained such a team during the last few years. I’ve watched him seek God’s face. I’ve trusted beyond a shadow of a doubt his sincerity in hearing the Lord speak. I’ve trusted his honesty. I’ve watched him rise above situations that would have pulled me in and burned the fire out of some bridges. I watched our gracious, gracious Father open doors I couldn’t have imagined. Providential doors for the safety and emotional health of my family. Open doors to provide rest and healing. Genuine care. And even though I’ve seen Him work....through a calling to the ministry, losing our home in a hurricane, a loss of trust in marriage and then restoring that trust in an amazing way, our first pastorate...I am still moved with deep gratefulness for His love for me. His love for His children. He is not just good. He is amazing. In the midst of it seeming like He was not moving, He was saying, “Wait, Precious Daughter, I have a plan. Wait on Me. Keep walking. Just wait.”
And then. Boom. He moved.
Every season of our lives has highs and lows. Things we learn and take with us into the next season. More than ever as we begin a new season, I feel solid as a team with Landon, but not in an idolatrous way – not with Landon completing me. Walking beside Landon, as a team, trusting each other – faults and strengths – to work together with great, deep love for each other. I trust that God is completing me. God is enough to take care of me – no matter what in marriage. No matter what in life. And I’m sure He’ll allow me to be shaken again – because in this sin fallen world, that’s just how it works. And I’ll look back again when that time comes. I’ll remember that what I thought would bring death brought life. And I’ll pray for eternal perspective. Because my God is faithful.