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one family's decision to choose hope over despair

View the 2017 Newsletter

Me and You

Nineteen years ago, my alternative rock fiancée and I were picking out music for our wedding, and I had finally convinced him that “Me and You” by Kenny Chesney was the perfect song! I excitedly announced “our” selection to Pastor Steve Sampson, and he shook his head and said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t approve that song.” My furrowed brows and dropped jaw must have hinted at my indignation, for Pastor Steve gently explained, “That song only talks about you and Paul. In order for your marriage to last, you’ll need more than you and Paul—you’ll need God, too.” I look back now and wonder how many ugly, painful moments could have been avoided in our marriage had I acknowledged the wisdom Pastor Steve tried to impart all those years ago...

In the beginning marriage was so easy! Paul was the yang to my yin. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. My days were dedicated to showing him how much I loved him. After a few years of marital bliss, we decided to start a family. We filled the bedrooms upstairs with pooping, screaming machines, and together poured our love and affection all over Paige and Brooke.

Then, one bright, sunny summer day 13 years ago, Paige was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF). What little time we had left after working all day and caring for two little ones all night, was spent doing medical treatments and "hand-sanitizing" the world around us in hopes of reducing the number of sick days and doctor appointments. We were so busy we had nothing left to give to one other. I needed him to help lessen my load, and he needed proof the "fun" me still existed. On "good" days, I knew I loved him (but was too tired to do anything about it). On "bad" days, I started wondering if things would be easier without him.

Fortunately, on one particularly "bad" day, I was out shopping for airplane material and stumbled upon “The Love Dare;” a book that teaches unconditional love. In an effort to bring that loving feeling back into our relationship, I purchased the book and started following each of the daily “dares.” Dare 21 challenged me in a new way: “You may have realized that nothing can repair the damage sin leaves. Every day you place expectations on your spouse. Sometimes they meet them. Sometimes they don’t. But never will they be able to totally satisfy all the demands you ask of them—partly because some of your demands are unreasonable, partly because your mate is human. God, however, is not. And those who approach Him in utter dependence each day for the real needs in their life are the ones who find out just how dependable He is. Can your spouse give you inner peace? No. But God can. Today’s Dare: Make time to read your Bible and pray.”

The next time bitterness and resentment came knocking at my door, Dare 21 came to mind. Through clenched teeth I reluctantly prayed and asked God to show me what He loves about Paul...and you know what? He did. Thoughts of Paul’s supportiveness, loyalty, sense of humor, and relationship with the girls quietly crept into my icy heart. As my heart warmed with love and forgiveness, perspective flooded in. It was not my job to judge or change Paul, and it was not his job to save me when this world left me feeling overwhelmed. Both jobs belong to God.

Life is a constant exercise in self-improvement. Over the years, I have learned that God brought Paul and me together to help us (and our girls) grow and develop into our best selves. While this journey is difficult at times, it is one designed to improve the soul and foster great compassion. I am so blessed to be on this journey with my best friend, my teacher, my fan, and the love of my life.