Posts tagged marriage
Dropping my Daughter Off at College was a Blast!

With every passing season, it can be hard to close the chapter and move on to the next season of life. I remember very clearly the night I decided I was nursing Reagan for the very last time; tomorrow she would wake up and we would be officially done with the weaning process. With a sigh that this chapter was ending, it was time to embrace the next season.

Sending my daughters off to grade school for the very first time was also the end of a season of life that I loved and cherished. I loved having my girls home as toddlers 24/7. I loved being the voice of influence and now I would share that time and authority with others. With another season ending, I was no longer the only voice shaping and molding my impressionable daughters.

Moving from Kindergarten through the elementary years, into middle school, and then high school, each season was wonderful. With every chapter closing, there were emotions that I would never get this time of life back, I would never have a "do-over." But with every ending, there was the most beautiful beginning to be enjoyed and cherished. We transitioned from instructing our daughter to sharing profound discussions about life, theology, and morality. Oh, how I missed the days of Reagan in her big white bow, eager to learn in Kindergarten. But now, I had the joy of engaging my daughter in intellectual and weighty conversations about life.

Driving my girl cross-country was no different. Another chapter was ending. She moved out. She moved 24 hours away. She is now an adult doing life on her own. But with another season ending, my only sadness is knowing that I have completed all the seasons of life of having my girl at home. I will never get back the days of nursing and cuddling Reagan as a newborn. I will never get a do-over of the toddler years and school days filled with homework, teachers, and sports. The only sadness is that I loved each season to the fullest that I didn't want it to end. And yet, I did live life to the fullest, I did embrace every season. I have no regrets about each new chapter, because I lived in the moment. And when it was time to turn the page and enter into the wonderful new season of launching, this too has been nothing short of spectacular.

Launching our daughter was a blast! Honestly, it was so much fun! Reagan was incredibly busy during the summer with an internship. So our time was limited for our last summer together. But the week before she needed to be at school, we embarked on the most incredible 2-week journey. We took our time driving across the United States making our way from Virginia to Texas. We made multiple stops, just having fun from theme parks to the Smokey Mountains; from hot springs to the Ozark Mountains. We took our time. We drove. We talked. We had fun. We laughed. We relished our last week being together just my husband, myself, and Reagan.

Decorating her dorm room and saying good-bye was filled with friends, laughter, tears, and blessings. As we stood among the several thousand freshman students and parents, the chaplain asked for the students to open their hands in an act of receiving a blessing while parents laid hands on their children to pray for them. We prayed blessings over our children, entrusting them into our Father's loving care, and we said good-bye.

The journey home was just as fabulous and special as the trip down. There were no tears, no sadness, only laughter and smiles. It was a celebration of gratitude that God had chosen and entrusted us to be Reagan's parents. We have known she is not ours to hold tightly, but rather a gift that would eventually fly. Celebrating each season while embracing the next has allowed us to live in the moment with no regrets. There were so many fun stops along the way home from Austin city limits to the charm of Nashville. My husband and I celebrated the joys of parenting. We made time to celebrate "us". We didn't rush home, instead, we took time to soak up the joys and seasons we had experienced for 18 years. After our children launch, our marriage is what will last. We celebrated God's goodness in allowing us to parent our girls and watch them grow into World Changers.

A Decade of Love & Learning

My husband and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage today… 15 years of falling in love.

I’m not entirely sure why 10 years gets so much attention — maybe it’s because you’re entering into double digits. Maybe it’s because it has this new name that sounds so accomplished — a DECADE — … Maybe it’s because when you’ve been living with another person for a DECADE, you finally start to feel like you’re possibly beginning to get the hang of it a little bit. For us, celebrating 10 years is a big deal because it’s not 6 years or 8 years — those were hard, HARD years for us — but we made it, and we’re stronger, and we’re happy about it {and also happy that we’re not in year 6 or 8 anymore 😀 }. Maybe we’re able to focus on celebrating a little more because we’re not changing any diapers this anniversary… though, you know, there’s still a chance someone will wet the bed tonight… 😉

It is true that fifteen years is a long time to invest in someone; Ten years is a long time to be voluntarily bound to someone. We’re lucky that our marriage is fun {for the most part} and that we’ve come to be on the same page about a lot of things — those factors make it easier to enjoy life together. Though I’m not sure lucky is a very accurate word — we’ve put in a lot of hard work to get here. And I’m sure there’s much ahead of us. That’s something I feel like no one tells you about marriage. It’s hard. But also very much worth the hard. We tend to either get this picture that marriage is one long romantic comedy or that it’s the end of the world as we know it and something to be terrified of. I’ve found it to be not much like either.

Here are a few things we’ve learned during this first decade of marriage… things that at face value may not seem worth celebrating but OH. ARE. THEY. EVER. Many of these are things we pray our daughters learn BEFORE they get married. Though some can only be truly realized through experience. If you’re not married yet but think maybe one day you possibly might be {careful writing it off too quickly there — at 16, I didn’t plan on ever getting married…I also met my husband at 16…ha. ha. ha. 😉 } — I hope you’ll take these things to heart. If you’re currently married, and you’re in a season of HARD — I hope you’ll find encouragement here at least in knowing that you’re not alone. If you’re in a really fantastic season of marriage, I hope you’ll tuck these away to draw strength from when it gets tough. Maybe your marriage will always be a bed of roses, but that’s not our story…unless you consider that the gardener forgot to remove all the thorns before making that bed we’re laying in… 😉

  1. Love is a VERB. It takes action. True love {and no I don’t mean Disney fairy tale princess love where your eyes meet from across the room and suddenly you live happily ever after…or, having never met you, he kisses you while you’re sleeping, and you live in some deranged world where you don’t wake up and knock his teeth out for the audacity…okay, sidetracked}… TRUE LOVE requires action. effort. work, if you will. You may even find yourself feeling like you are literally fighting for it. My best advice is to get on the same side and fight for it together.
  2. Being High School Sweethearts does not set you apart on a pedestal of romantic hierarchy. Nor does it doom you to misery, as some would have liked to convince us was our future. But for us, it definitely meant extrawork. Because as grown as I thought I was at 16, 17…22…I was not. We both had a lot of growing, self discovery, and change ahead of us that we were not prepared for, independently nor to walk through together. I honestly believe it would be in the best interest of everyone’s hearts to not get romantically involved until you’re in your mid twenties and you’ve hopefully really discovered who you are and what this life has to offer. It’ll be a different kind of hard to meld 2 lives that are well established, but that brings me to my next point… 
  3. “You Complete Me” is a load of {you fill in the blank with anything that smells unpleasant} destined to lead your heart and your relationship into {you fill in the blank again, still unpleasant}. DO. NOT. attempt to “find yourself” in someone else. Do not walk into someone else’s arms while attempting to find yourself. While I 100% support and encourage having friends and mentors who walk alongside you as you discover who you were created to be and determine how you’re going to embrace that, it should be a primarily independent seek & find adventure, at least in terms of who you’re committed to {or distracted by}. If you have tied your heart to another before you have found yourself as a complete person, you will {possibly inadvertently} tie your identity to that person rather than to your destiny… see below ::
  4. Your identity, and the confidence you walk in, should be defined by your Creator & Savior. No one else can rescue you. And really, expecting them to is unfair to both of you. Trust me, I’ve been there. I was broken… he seemed strong, made me smile, built me back up…so I put my faith in him. That was wrong. I set him up for failure, set myself up for disappointment. He is a person. and people will always let you down. It’s not an excuse, just a reality.  We have let each other down many times over the course of 15 years. I’m confident we will let each other down in the future, try as we may to avoid it. But we have also learned along this journey where our faith, hope, trust, joy, and ever present help come from — and it’s not one another. There are a lot of things we can, should, and love to do for one another. Filling the role of Savior should never be one of them.
  5. Unspoken expectations are the ammunition of a loaded gun, waiting to be fired. If you’ve been within 50 feet of relationship advice, leadership advice, interacting with people advice… you’ve probably heard “communication is key” — it’s truth. That’s why “they” say it. all. the. time. Set aside time to be open and honest with one another {when you’re not in the heat of a spirited debate} about your needs, about the expectations you have on yourself in this relationship and how the other person sees those, what you want to be and may need help with, what you feel like you need from your partner, what you would love to see, experience, what you dream of doing independently and together. Approach this time prayerfully and with as much of an open mind and spirit of grace as you possibly can. Your relationship will be richer for it. See point 1 ❤
  6. Connection is the other key. Without connection, communication is cold. Marriage is so much more than a contractual agreement. Remember why you wanted to marry this person in the first place. Reflect on their charm. Remind them of it. Give yourself space and permission to discover new things you love about them. Find something you both enjoy to do together — and make time to do it. Invest in your relationship the way you would when you were dating. Love on them through their favorite things. Has it been a while and you’re not so sure you know what his/her favorite things are? Ask. And then follow up with action.  If you don’t know your spouse’s primary love language(s), figure it out! It’s an easy place to start — and could be a great date night focus. Kindling connection will keep the spark alive and help to burn that fire around which you can enjoy authentic communication.
  7. Your marriage bed is sacred. This is a hard one to put out there on the internet. In the world of acceptable Christian issues, this one is still pretty scarlet. Listen to me, I believe this is ESPECIALLY important BEFORE you are married. It is of course equally important having entered into marriage, but I think too often we discount the things that happen “outside of marriage” when we weren’t married at the time. This is mostly directed at those of you who are young and maybe even think yeah, yeah, you know, you’ve got it. Or maybe you’re searching for the why and struggling to understand it in the heat of your relationship. For those of us already married, or already having “given up” this sacrament, read on to #8. But for those of you who hold it, whether intentionally or by circumstance — hold fast. Maybe you don’t find the Bible making a convincing argument. That’s fine. I didn’t either. So hear mine. EVEN IF you marry the person you are intimate with outside of marriage, in my experience, there is a whole world of emotional baggage you could avoid, both in your inner personal battles, and in your relationship, pre and post marriage, by abstaining. We use the word intimate for a reason. It is a deeply personal connection that is filled with vulnerability. There are plenty of other things that will be messy and require your emotions — don’t let this be one of them. Let it be beautiful.
  8. This one applies to so many aspects of life but I also want to highlight it in reference to those of us who feel the pangs of guilt when reading #7, — and not as a permission-giving excuse to those addressed there {because I promise you it is just. not. worth it and there are always consequences that ensue and must be carried}, but — our God is a great redeemer of ALL things — and I believe this to be no different. Surrendered to Him, He will make it new. He will heal the hurt. We may carry scars but He brings beauty from ashes. And this to all realms of our relationship — bring your hurt, bring your troubles, bring your doubts, bring your struggles, and surrender them at His feet. I pray, so hard, that you are able to do this together as well. That your marriage will be unified under a loving Savior and great Redeemer. Yes, there are times, many times, to come to Him personally, but coming to Him together as well brings a whole new level of strength to your relationship. I believe He wants you to walk in freedom and in unity and though I may not know you, I am praying that over you with hope today. ❤ 
  9. Community is priceless. Your relationship NEEDS other relationships. Growing together with others you relate to personally, and learning from couples who are a few steps ahead of you, one day imparting wisdom on those coming behind… being embraced in an encouraging community can be such a powerful catalyst to the growth and development of your marriage!
  10. Never stop learning. About each other, from each other, for each other. If you’re going to be invested in this relationship, learn to love it. You will never arrive there. Encouraging, right? We are multi-faceted creatures, ever changing, planted in an ever turning world where influences come and go and grow and wither… these lives we’re living never stop changing, and we are encouraged to never stop growing — but growing comes with pain, it comes as a result of effort and investment, it comes bearing beauty and strength — and in a marriage, there is someone next to you, with whom you aim to be intertwined, who is also changing, and hopefully growing — and you can either get tripped up in the process, irritated by their change, distracted by your own, or you can make the choice to be better together — by learning to love the process and to process the love. Wash, rinse, repeat. Keep your relationship in the light of Grace, allow it to be watered by your community, and learn to love learning to love.

Happily Ever After requires intentional investment. There’s a slew of helpful resourcing out there, and even this is a list I’m sure I’ll be coming back to myself, because no one’s got it all together, least of all me. In learning to love actively, I have to remind myself to find my completion in my Creator, to kindle the connection with my husband, to cultivate open communication, to engage in encouraging community, and to celebrate the freedom found in the constant truths of Christ and the beautiful change of established growth. It is such a beautiful journey ❤ 

Guest Contributor:

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Andie Fair is the starry-eyed wife of her high school sweetheart, Executive Creative Director of Chaos to their kiddos, a quirky, open-door homemaker with a soul wired to explore the unknown, a heart crafted to lead with love, and a second mug of coffee forever in the microwave. She’s a certified health coach, aiming to make healthy living easier for families and a volunteer disciple maker who gets her thrills guiding others to engage in an active relationship with their Redeemer. She writes randomly and strives to live intentionally. 

Adoption: Welcoming Sons and Daughters

I remember sitting on my couch during a 6-week recovery from major surgery.  It was summer of 2003 and there was no Facebook, so I was limited to daytime TV since I could not drive or keep my eyes open to read a book due to the pain medications.  I soon filled my mornings by watching 2 back-to- back shows on TLC:  “Birth Days” and “Adoption Stories”.  I was drawn in by the emotional and happy moments these reality TV families experienced; tales of how they came to love the babies they bore the first hour and adopted the next.  I cried happy tears for those families I did not know, but I also knew deep down that they were tears for my own longing to get married and have children of my own.  

I was 37 at the time and had always wanted to be a wife and a mother.  I had a successful career as a medical social worker for 15 years, and for many of those years I enjoyed the perks of being single.   As I started to close in on my 40’s however, worry set in that marriage and becoming a mother would never happen for me.  The medical world backed up my fears, telling me that I was running out of time for motherhood.  Sometimes it was difficult to see so many of my friends get married and then welcome all the new babies that soon followed.  My weekend social calendar was full of both bridal and baby showers for years.  During my quiet times with God, I sensed Him telling me He would work it out, that I just needed to wait a little bit longer.  Walking closely with God during those times gave me hope.  

As I thought about it years later, those TV reality shows were a part of the hope He gave me and they left a lasting impression on me.  I believe they were placed in my life at that time to prepare me for what God had planned to come.  I remember loving these 2 reality shows because either way those babies joined their families, biologically or through adoption, both were wonderful and special.  Those reality families loved their babies whether they birthed them naturally or adopted them.  I also realized that it was then, during my recovery from surgery, that God planted the desire in me to experience both a “Birth Day” and an “Adoption Story” of my own.  

At ages 41 and 38, Karl and I were married and we knew that since we both wanted at least 2 children, we needed to get started right away.  I was a little sad that we would not have some carefree time as newlyweds, but I also knew the urgency of our situation.  The road to having our children was relatively short, but rocky.  Our daughter, Emily, was born after the heartache and anticipation of 4 back-to-back IVF cycles.  After a spontaneous miscarriage and some more infertility treatments a year later, we knew the final chapter of our Birth Story was written and we were ready to start our Adoption Story.  

Adopting was indeed, a very different story.  There was a mountain of paperwork, interviews, and fingerprints to be examined.  And then there was the waiting.  Throughout the whole experience there were a lot of questions, some that we did not see coming or know how to answer right away.  We had not anticipated the level of detail that the adoption application itself would entail.   Would we accept a child or any race or ethnic background?  If not, which ones?  What if the biological family had a history of cancer?  How about mental illness?  What if the mother smoked, drank alcohol, or took drugs while pregnant?  And if some drugs were ok, which ones weren’t?  What if the child was the “product” of a rape?  How about multiples?  Some of these questions were “easy”, and others stopped us in our tracks and caused us some considerable thought and discussion, as we wanted to make sure we were equipped to handle any situation that might come along—as if that’s even possible!  

Other  “interesting” questions came from the people around us.  Perhaps they meant well, but their questions indicated to us that they were leery of adoption.  “Do you think you will be able to love both the children the same even though one is yours and one isn’t?”  “Why would you want to raise someone else’s kid?”  Wow.  It was hard sometimes to not be defensive since we knew this was the plan for our family, and we had little doubt that we would love our adopted baby just as much as Emily.  

The reality is, we are ALL adopted by God, or at least have the opportunity to be adopted by God.  Galatians 4:4-5 says, “ But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under that law, that we might receive adoption to sonship”.   God walked with us in some amazing ways through our adoption of Abby because He reminded us that we are all adopted by Him and that was the whole purpose of sending His son, Jesus.  

God welcomes all of us who believe in Him to become his adopted sons and daughters.  There are no limits when He adopts us. He doesn’t require an adoption application and if He did, it wouldn’t matter which boxes we checked and which ones we didn’t.  He already knows all there is to know about each of us and He accepts us right where we are.  His love is unconditional.  He loves ALL and wants ALL to come to know Him and become part of His family.  His love is vast and beyond anything we can fully comprehend as humans.  He loves us fully and equally.  

Eight, almost nine, years later I can tell you with certainty that we love our Abby just as much as Emily.  She is ours, no matter how she came to complete our family.  We can’t imagine life without her and firmly believe that she is the child God planned for us.  We don’t even think about her being adopted, unless we are talking about adoption (which I love to do!)  I like to think of Emily as the gift God gave us, and Abby as the treasure He lead us to.  

Abby sometimes doubts that she is loved as much as Emily because she knows she is adopted.  When she expresses her doubt, we do our very best to convince her with hugs and every “love word” we can think of.  Still, sometimes she isn’t quite convinced.  In those times we tell her she needs to make a choice to believe us, even though her inner voice still tries to make her think otherwise.  It’s that way sometimes with us too; we wonder how God could love us enough to adopt us.  But that’s the whole reason Jesus came- so He could welcome each one of us into His family, in spite of our imperfections. Sometimes, in the midst of doubt, we just need to step out in faith and believe.  And when we accept His love for us, He will always be there to welcome us as His sons and daughters.

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Sherry Fischer grew up and still lives in Northern Virginia.  She obtained her Bachelors Degree (James Madison University) and Masters Degree (Virginia Commonwealth University), both in Social Work.  Sherry worked in a hospital setting as a Medical Social Worker/Case Manager for 20 years.   Sherry married Karl when she was 38 and is now a full time stay at home mom to Emily (12) and Abby (9).  When the girls were preschoolers, Sherry was an active participant and eventually served as a leader for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS).  Once both girls were in school full time, Sherry joined the Passion4Moms team, where she is currently the Director of Hospitality and enjoys writing periodic blogs. For fun, Sherry enjoys making cherished memories with family and friends at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland.