Infertility, special forces and the love and faith to get through it all. Love. + Hope. + Faith. + Prayer. + Action. = Encouragement. The guest post below has it all!
I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Nina. We met many years ago in Texas, and our friendship has blossomed. Nina writes over at Millions of Peaches and her first book is out this month. I wanted her to tell you her story…
Marrying was never one of my priorities in life. Neither was having a family. Yet, I got married to my best friend, a 23-year-old previously married soldier and father of two when I was just 20 years old. Paradoxical, right?!
I should’ve known that saying “yes” to a man with baggage would lead to an interesting life. It wasn’t always easy, but we quickly found that supporting each other instead of blaming each other worked much better in finding resolutions to problems.
Supporting Your Spouse – it’s not always easy…
Because of his military career, my husband couldn’t always be present. As a matter of fact, he missed more holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries than I can count. While he was gone all things like finances, yard work, household chores, parenting, and more was on me. However, when he was around I always tried to include him in all tasks and make sure he had things to take care of, so that he would feel like he was part of our little family.
When he was deployed I always listened to what he had to say before I would go down a list of things I had in mind. Missing a phone call was detrimental and sad because I never knew when he could call again. SAT phones aren’t very reliable not to forget time differences and hazardous locations.
I picked up the slack when he couldn’t. Nevertheless we always supported each other’s wishes and dreams. It was my dream to travel the world, get a college degree, deliver babies and eventually have a child of my own. My husband made sure that we always had enough money to pay for all of these wishes and dreams.
In turn, it was his dream to become a U.S. Army Green Beret and later a Physician Assistant. I made sure he had time to train, study, and prepare for his chosen path. I supported and helped where I could through hidden notes, weekly goodie bags, home cooked meals, being present when there was a ceremony or promotion, watching him jump out of airplanes and helicopters, picking him up or dropping him off at the airport, sending care packages to let him know I miss him, keeping all added stresses away from him, and always making sure that our bank account was in better shape than when he left.
Loving him unconditionally and being his backbone, helped him succeed. Being a team and knowing that together we would conquer “our” world made the journey worthwhile.
Yet, I can’t forget the times we spent praying together. Praying for his safe return, for guidance in co-parenting his children, and for a child – one that we could keep forever. At first, we chose days of the week when one of us would pray. But because his job required him to be away from me often, we prayed separately as well. We prayed with our rector from our church. We prayed while snuggling in bed, on our knees, in church, in the car, in airplanes, at airports, and our kitchen table. Praying is definitely something we take seriously as a married couple.
The Path Forward – with LOVE and FAITH through INFERTILITY
And it is because of our faith and the strong belief in prayers that we have come to this point in our life where I was lead to write down our path in “Love, Faith, and Infertility – A Story of Hope and Special Forces” – the struggles, the good and the bad, to show that our God is good and no matter what my life or yours entails with Him nothing is impossible.
Opening Our Hearts
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Nina and I have known each other for a number of years. I had a small view into her life as a stepmom to children who didn’t (always) live with her. I knew she loved them with a mother’s self-less love, regardless where they resided. I also could only imagine how difficult it must be to see them come and go, with no control.
Then Gary and Nina’s little rainbow baby entered the picture. He’s the boy pictured on the front of Nina’s new book. I had a tiny, infinitesimal understanding of how difficult the journey was to holding this little son in their arms.
After reading Nina’s book, “Love, Faith and Infertility – a Story of Hope and Special Forces” my heart was filled with so many empathetic emotions. Many times, as I was reading, I wished she was beside me, because I wanted to give her a hug.
We have NO IDEA.
Yes. WE. All of us -those who have never experienced infertility, parenting step-children, living as a military spouse, and adjusting to a new country, have no idea the havoc (and joys) these events can play on a life – on a marriage.
Many people will not experience a miscarriage, infertility, a military marriage, step-parenting and relocation to another country. And yet we encounter people every day who do. We might think we understand… but we don’t. We do not have a clue.
Read this book for them. And yourself.
Read this book so you can have a kernel of understanding and to try not to say something to shoot an arrow into their hearts. (Unintentionally, of course.)
- Maybe your daughter or daughter-in-love has experienced infertility and/or a miscarriage? You need a view into this grief, desire and fight for a child that is beyond what many can imagine. Nina’s story will give you insight and hope.
- Is there a friend who is longing for a child? Read it for her. And him.
- Do you know a military spouse? Read it for him or her.
- Do you know women going through medical procedures to get pregnant? In-Vitro Fertilizations, Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injections, frozen embryo transfers and all the other physical aspects of trying to become pregnant?
- Is someone you love grieving over a miscarriage. Read it for them.
- Think of all the step-parents you know – read this book for them and their children.
- Do you write to encourage? Then this book will open your heart in new ways.
- Are you in ministry? Or do you know a pastor who seeks to understand step-parents, those longing for a baby, military spouses, and parents grieving over a miscarriage? This book is for you all.
There are many reasons why this book will be a journey of discovery – of yourself and what you believe. You’ll probably cringe when you remember some of the phrases that have come out of your mouth. (Yeah. We’ll be together in that.)
What if you have experienced any of these life-altering experiences? Why should you read this book?
Read this book because it will fill you with hope.
(I just want to say thank you to Nina for gifting me a copy of her book! Yes. Even though we don’t collect many physical books because of space issues in our little-house-on-wheels, I’m so thankful to have a physical copy!) 😉
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Do you and your spouse share a daydream?
I’m so happy to introduce you to Amy Dickerson. She says about herself, that one day she realized her cooking had hijacked her social media accounts. She was forcing herself not to post stuff about food on her Facebook every day, and her personal journal had become the annals of her culinary journey. After that self-realization it was only a short jump, skip, and a hop to starting her blog, “Happy Accidental Baker“
Her guest-post today is a daydream she and her husband shared for many years. Sometimes it’s encouraging to share a dream together…
Here’s Amy’s post:
What’s unique about every recipe?
I believe that every recipe has a story, every favorite dish a tale, that our tastebuds have the ability to take us back in time to our most beloved memories or to places we’ve never gotten yet, but only dreamt about.
Ever since the beginning of our relationship, my husband and I have had this ongoing daydream when things get stressful and tough, that we would just run away. I remember writing him letters saying, let’s just run away together. You and I, that’s all we need to survive.
Of course, that’s when we were young and in college and there was this unspoken hopefulness that it could actually happen. One day we’d just pack a bag and run off into the sunset.
For 14 years, through the good times and the bad, this has always been our little daydream,
“Let’s just run away.”
Over the years, even though we knew that our responsibilities would never allow it, the daydream got more specific. We narrowed down a place where would we run to, dreamed up a dream of what we would do in our new life when we’d escape together.
The daydream took shape.
We’d have a seaside cottage, in down-east Maine. He’d sell collectibles on Ebay and read comic books; become a reclusive hermit. I’d wear thick cable knit sweaters and wool socks with birkenstocks; drink tea while I read novels and grow bunches of blueberries.
We went so far as to look up real estate in Maine and found a house we loved the look of online.
A daydream made real…
The Dickersons in Maine – a daydream realized!
Then one summer, we packed up the kids for vacation and we went there.
It was a lovely trip, probably one of our most favorite family vacations. At the end of the trip, on a lark, we decided to drive out to the town to look at the house we’d set our daydream around for so long.
The house itself look exactly like it had on the real estate website. A little white cottage, with a screened in porch, perched atop a cliff with a lovely ocean view.
However, omitted from the description, and the pictures, was the neighbor’s house and yard, which was comprised of heaps of rusty, crushed old cars and towering stacks of abandoned appliances.
Not exactly the idyllic locale that we’d imagined.
Real life – with the taste of the daydream!
Even though our little daydream was crushed by reality, it still remains,— this idea that we could just run off and we could leave our problems behind and have storybook bliss just living off each other’s love. It’s silly, it’s juvenile, it’s impractical, and it’s ours.
Every time we have blueberry pie, it makes me think of Maine.
It makes me remember our secret little daydream. It makes me think of the “what if’s”, but also makes me appreciate the life we’ve built together where we are.
Does your spouse hold a secret wish?
Perhaps it’s not anything like running away to a whole new life together, but maybe they wish they could…
- change careers,
- climb a mountain,
- go back to college,
- deep sea dive,
- visit a foreign country,
- start a band.
Even though it might never happen, I believe it’s super important to let your spouse know, that even in the sometimes impractical, sometimes impossible, you support them and would be right by their side through it all.
So, while I doubt that we’re ever going to leave the business, and run off to Maine to be hermits – so in love we’re oblivious to the world and eat blueberries all day long – we can sit on the porch eating blueberry pie and know that the dream lives on.
Here’s a taste of our daydream, for you!
¾ cup white sugar
5 Tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups fresh blueberries
pastry for a double crust pie
1 Tablespoon butter
Preheat the oven to @ 400 degrees.
Line a 9 inch pie plate with one pie crust
Mix together the blueberries and lemon juice.
In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Sprinkle this mixture over the berries and then pour the berry mixture into the crust.
Dot the top of the berries with butter.
Cut the remaining pie crust into ½ inch strips and weave for a lattice top.
Crimp and flute the edges of the crust.
Before baking, fit a small ring of aluminum foil around the edges of the pie crust to keep them from over browning.
Bake for 50 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil.
Turn on the broiler and place the pie under the broiler for around a minute to brown the top of the pie. Let sit for at least one and a half or two hours before slicing and serving.
What are some of the dreams you’ve supported with your spouse?
Robert and I are pursuing a dream we had 31+ years ago – we’re traveling full time with our truck and 5th wheel…
What about you? Have you ever tried out a “dream”?
If you could, which dreams would you and your spouse try? Leave a comment!
(at least try out Amy’s blueberry pie – it looks delicious, doesn’t it!)
I’d like to introduce you to my fellow marriage blogger, Dawn. The vision of her ministry, Marriage Dance, is to enhance unity and partnership in Christian marriages so couples experience more of God’s good intentions for marriage, reflect the Biblical principles of marriage to the world around them, glorify God and advance His Kingdom on earth.
Could Dance Be the New Couples Therapy?
“Whether a couple is newlywed or has been married for decades, dance can create a positive change in confidence, communication and intimacy between partners,” writes the author of an online article with this title. “It’s like couple’s therapy but far more fun!”
A similarly titled article posted on today.com quotes Tony Dovolani of “Dancing with the Stars” who, while presenting seminars and instructing private dance lessons between seasons, sees many couples reconnecting through ballroom dancing.
“It’s almost like you have a newfound love for each other,” Dovolani says. “Discovering new steps together teaches couples to interact with each other. They’re looking into each other’s eyes, anticipating the next move. It opens up energy channels of feeling and connection. It rejuvenates everything.”
Dovolani cites communications skills, respect, stress relief through physical activity and positive feelings about the shared experience as further relationship benefits of dance lessons.
Learning to dance with your spouse is much more than a fun thing to do, though we don’t recommend firing your counselor. Both counseling and dance can be valuable and constructive ways to strengthen your marriage.
Want to experience the benefits of dance for yourself?
Join us at the 2013 Better Marriages Conference in Raleigh, NC, where MarriageDance will present “Dance for the Life of Your Marriage.”
This international conference also features Gary Chapman, well-known author of the The Five Love Languages, and Jay and Laura of the Ultimate Date Night. Visit Better Marriages for more information and online registration. We look forward to seeing you there!
Dawn McDowell is an avid social dancer who has a heart to see Christian marriages strengthened for the glory of Creator God, who intentionally designed men and women distinctly and complementary in his own image. She finds dancing to be a little glimpse of heaven on earth, as a man and a woman operate in those moments in accordance with the Grand Design. She has studied and practiced ballroom and swing dancing since 1997, and she conducts training for Christian couples including pastors and church leaders who wish to facilitate the MarriageDance workshop.
I’m so happy Fawn Weaver from The Happy Wives Club has written a guest post for Encourage Your Spouse! Because she’s both the president of a company, and a dedicated blogger/advocate for marriage, her life is just a tiny bit busy. (Or more than a tiny bit, perhaps?) Have you ever felt this way?…
Oftentimes when my husband, Keith, is arising for the day, I’m just going to sleep.
It’s happened more often recently than usual. I have team members around the world and oftentimes, if there is a problem, it can easily turn into an all-nighter for me.
I’ve been tired lately.
Exhausted really. And one of the easiest things would be to pull away from my husband because I need some rest. But the better –and more encouraging- thing to do is in the midst of this busy season of life, to make sure he knows [outside of God] he is the most important person in the world to me.
Thinking about this today caused me to recall something that happened when I was going through a similarly hectic period in my life. I remember waking up early one morning while Keith was still enjoying his beauty rest. It was late in the morning and I needed to get up and wash my hair so I could begin the day. With hair still wet, I walked over near the bed and Keith lifted the covers inviting me to lie next to him.
First thought: my honey’s awake and I’d love to hold him and to be held. Second thought: My hair is wet and I have so many things I need to get done before leaving the house.
In a situation like this, always go with the thought closest to your heart.
My first thought won that mini battle and I accepted his unspoken invitation to lie beside him. Holding me in his arms and his tender kisses reminded me of an all too important truth: My husband needs me to slow down to stay physically connected with him.
Oftentimes we make the mistake of taking for granted the time we have with our spouse. We run here and there, to and from, and forget how much our husbands need to simply be held, caressed and shown –through physical affection- how much we desire them.
So many pull away from their husband’s physical advances because the thought is it will lead to sex and sometimes there isn’t time for sex at that exact moment. But pulling away is a mistake. Our husbands need to be held. We need to be held. Holding hands, stroking the side of his face and him doing the same to yours, embracing each other with a simple hug. Sometimes that’s all the current moment will allow. And most times, that’s more than enough.
Have you ever found yourself pulling away from your husband’s advances when you’re rushed because you think he’ll expect more? Fall into the moment. You may be pleasantly surprised. Your husband knows when you have to go and you won’t need to abruptly pull away to make that point.
Simply allow yourself to be embraced.
Stay in the moment. Then go about the business of your day. Because no matter what is pressing on your schedule, it will never be as important as that exact moment because you never know what the next minute may bring (because, of course, we know that no breath beyond the present is guaranteed).
Have you been over to the new website Happy Wives Club and entered to win a Trip to Disneyland and all the other awesome bonuses? Check it out!
photo by David K. Yamamoto
Fawn is a happy marriage advocate and the founder of the Happy Wives Club (www.happywivesclub.com) with nearly 100,000 members in more than 100 countries around the world. Working daily to change the tone of the conversation worldwide in terms of marriage and the negativity often accompanying that term. The Happy Wives Club is a go to place for wives successful in their marriage to share their thoughts and advice with others hoping to achieve a happiness and contentment in their own relationship.
When she’s not blogging or connecting with her online community, she is the president of ValRent Corporation.
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Fellowship Fridays | Thrive @ Home
Have you ever imagined yourself gliding across a glittering ballroom floor with your spouse? (Imagine “Dancing with the Stars”, but with more romantic music and no judges.) In our imagination we would never step on each other’s toes, or stumble – we’d be perfectly synchronized and move together in grace and beauty. We would flow…
That’s what this post is about – flow. It was written by my friend, Robert. (He’s also my husband.) He writes about values and how they translate into marriage, leadership and marketing on his blog, FergusonValues.
The first time I heard the concept of “flow” was in a business setting. It was proposed as a model to help improve productivity. This was a new term to me and I decided to explore it.
The concept of flow comes from the field of psychology, first proposed by Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi. He pioneered work in the understanding of happiness, creativity, and human fulfillment.
Psychologists argue that the hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy while performing a task. Other familiar terms of this concept include: in the moment, in the zone, orin tune.
At the heart of flow is the answer to Czikszentmihalyi’s question: “What makes a life worth living?”
How would you answer that question?
As a differentiating value, Flow means move or progress freely; or continuous progression.
Rather than focusing on tasks, this led me to the question:
How can flow add value to a marriage?
Flow like Dancing
The image that comes to mind that might best portray flow in marriage is dancing.
Visualize a married couple moving easily together, in sync, and thoroughly enjoying the moment. It’s a wonderful thing to watch. It’s even better to do.
Imagine a husband and wife who are motivated to work together with a single-minded focus, harnessing their combined energies to perform their God-given purpose.
This spans numerous areas including: raising a family, involvement in their church, running a business, volunteering in their community, or whatever else they feel called to do.
Doesn’t that sound like a positive and powerful combination? It feels like the perfect marriage of happiness, creativity, and fulfillment – as God meant it to be.
If this excites you, there are a few different ways you can build flow into your marriage.
Building Flow into Your Marriage
1) Leverage your strengths. As with any team, each person needs to know their areas of strength. It’s where they take the lead. But two people can’t lead at the same time. Where should the man lead? Where should the woman lead? Focus on your areas of strength.
2) Practice together. Once you know your role and where you lead, it’s important to practice it. Mistakes happen. Try again. Just like dancing, one must lead and the other must follow. In ballroom dancing, the man invites the woman to follow his lead. She in turn does not lean on him, rather holds her own weight. Practice hones your skills of working together, leading and following – in your areas of strength – while continuously progressing through the dance.
3) Celebrate improvements. At times you will naturally step on each other’s toes. Apologize and move on. One day you’ll notice less problems and more success. You are progressing forward. Don’t forget to celebrate! If practice makes perfect, the celebration makes certainty. Confidence grows with competence that you CAN do this together.
So…. flow in action is not just for couples on the TV show “Dancing with the Stars.”
All married couples that desire to move freely in a continuous progression in their areas of strength can experience the value of flow. It also makes for a life worth living – together!
Note: If you are interested in learning to dance together as a married couple, I encourage you to contact Marriage Dance. This program is an adventure into combining the beauty and romance of partner dancing with scriptural truth about marriage.