I stepped out onto my porch –cup of hot coffee in hand–in a stupor. Although the alarm had gone off and I had plenty of time before having to leave the house this am, Gracie Lou wasn’t about to let me lie in bed. Her little four legs ran to the end of the bed, pacing back and forth looking for the perfect dismount for her little miniature poodle frame to land easy. Once she did, the “chuh, chuh, chuh” of her paws wouldn’t let me continue my rest.
Once the cup was full and a fleece jacket was on, we stepped out into the cool, brisk air of our front porch. Downtown living even in our small town is quite loud even at 5am. I’m always amazed at the number of cars passing by. I may be up at 5am but I’m certainly not out and about. Gracie trots into the wet grass and I not so gracefully gulp the black coffee down–partially for warmth, partially for the energy I’m hoping it will bring. One too many episodes of Call the Midwife had me up far too late.
Standing in the brisk fall air, I was struck with a reminder that hit me this summer as I worked through Shauna’s Present Over Perfect Study. One of the most spiritual practices I can do is to go stand on my porch in the early morning and late evening and breathe in and out the day. Even with cars whizzing by, there is something calming about that. My mind drifts to each of the women who gathered at my house this summer for that study. Our lives so randomly interconnected for this season of the study, but not really sure what else. We live in four different towns here in Central Kentucky–each one making a major sacrifice to be present. But that is the gift–presence. Striving to live into the day-to-day in the most authentic and intentional ways. And I think of each of them standing on their own front porch with me in spirit on this cool October morning.
My mind is brought back to reality as something glimmers in the streetlight. A spider web in the streetlight. So common this time of year. Even if the temperatures are not fall-like, the spiders still do their thing, trapping (what is hopefully!) the last of the mosquitos and flies of the summer. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, they are still there doing their job at the same time of year.
Yesterday, the beau and I celebrated our eighth year of marriage. In the midst of busy seasons at work, a busy toddler, pending job transitions, a very full September, it was still our anniversary yesterday. Thanks to busy lives and cancelled plans, we had a impromptu date night Friday to celebrate and will squeeze in breakfast today during 3 days straight of 12-hour shifts for the beau.
Even when we don’t feel like it, we commit to our marriage.
And “feeling like it” in this season doesn’t mean that we’re not committed to marriage or that we don’t want to celebrate. It just means that we’re tired. The to-do list is long. There are dishes always waiting to be washed or put away. Same with clothes. The list of friends I want to connect with always has one that’s not checked off at the end of each month. Our lives are so full.
What we have made the decision to do however, is put our marriage at the top of our priority list. That means date nights. Often at home. Time together with the TV off. Walks out of the house so we can have a conversation and not be distracted by dishes and laundry. And regular time away a few times a year.
I know that last one is a kicker for most. Childcare. Disconnection from the kid over the weekend when the weekend is the only time you have to see your child as working parents. Money. Cost. And for us–getting out of our comfort zone.
Pre-kids, we did a lot of travel and it was common to do a few overnights a year to local spots–cabin in the mountains, nearby city, you name it. Now–that just isn’t feasible. And when we have done that, often, we find that we are so tired, we zone out, fall asleep way to quickly on a bed we’ve paid too much for, eat way too much and don’t have near the time we had hoped for intentional conversation.
Enter Couples Camp.
2 days. Not too hard on the budget. Hiking in 1.5 miles with all your gear on your back. Sleeping together in a tent. Camp coffee. Time alone without a cell phone or a watch. Time to focus on your spouse and your marriage. Getting to know other couples in similar or not similar at all stages of life and marriage. Seeing the commonalities we all have regardless. Being reminded of the goodness of God even in hard times.
It’s not easy. Nothing worth doing is easy. And our marriage is all the better for it. Every time we get out of our comfort zone and come back to reality, we are a little sharper. A little more attuned to our spouse. A tad more aware of what God might be speaking and growing and doing in our own lives and how that impacts our marriage. And a little more awakened to the fact that our society does not build up and support marriage. And being committed to make our marriage a priority in spite of that.
We’re going back in the spring. We want other married couples to experience this. We believe in this. We know it’s going to have hard moments again. But we’ve seen the fruit of what doing difficult things together can do for our relationship.
Life is about real moments. Camping for 2 nights in 90 degree weather gives you a photo like this when you’re leaving. I’ll be honest–I’m not a fan of this pic–but it’s real life. It’s hot and sweaty; grimy and bug-bitten; sunburned and sore. But there is joy in my face and a sparkle in my beau’s eye that I can’t deny.
Nothing worth doing is easy. If I’m honest, posting a very unflattering photo of us isn’t easy, but it’s our present being WAY over anything resembling perfect in this season. And that level of authenticity is always valued in my book.
I step back inside to refill my coffee. A busy, full day awaits me. But I know that I get to start across the table from my beau. And a week later of being back into the swing of reality, and after a long night of work for him, I’m pretty sure I’ll get a hint of that sparkle.
PS-we’d LOVE to have you join us for camp in April. I promise–you and your marriage won’t be the same!