Like most everyone, 2020 has been a year of… let’s call it, a “trying of our faith!” January was an exciting month for our family as we purchased airline tickets to leave for Argentina on March 31, 2020. We were nearly packed by February, had all our visa paperwork in order by March, and then the now familiar statement that has been made countless times over the last six months… “and Covid happened!” This is when a rollercoaster of emotions, frustrations, and revival happened in my, and Ashlee’s hearts together.
I’m not sure how to describe how a man feels when he is in a place of limbo, not knowing when he will be able to “get back to work,” or make plans, or schedule new meetings, or anything else for that matter. The best way to describe it was; I felt unemployed with a salary. Since we didn’t have any scheduled meetings past March 31st, I tried to get on the phones to do just that. The problem was, churches were not even able to meet for several months! The one’s that did start, certainly were not scheduling missionaries that were not already previously scheduled. So frustration began to set in.
I tried to use the time I had to enjoy my family. I began taking a few online courses using my Montgomery G.I. Bill from my Army service. I even researched and wrote a small book that really helped me grow in my personal convictions, if it helped no one else at all. However, I was still growing weary, which made me short, and sometimes unpleasant to be around.
One afternoon, my precious wife, humbled herself, and came to me with these concerns. The Holy Spirit of God gripped my heart as she brought to light the errors I was making in leading our family. My heart broke, I fell to my knees, I prayed and asked God to forgive me, then I went to my wife and children and asked them to forgive me. I can without hesitation tell you, that that was one of the worst, and best days of my life, and became one of the best weeks of my family’s life!
Ashlee and I made a commitment to each other, and to the Lord. It was time for us to regroup, and refocus on our responsibilities as husband and wife, and parents to our boys. For some time, we had gone through the motions. We each had our own time of devotions and prayer, we read our own books, watched our own shows, basically, did our own thing. The problem was, none of it was together. We may be in the same room, but we might as well had been miles apart. When it was time to turn the lights out and go to sleep, we each rolled to our side of the bed, checked email, checked facebook, and stared at a 2×5 inch phone until it was time to sleep.
Our boys had their own deal as well. They did school work in the morning, played outside in the afternoon, maybe some video games in the evening, and were in bed by 9pm. We’ve always taught them to be in the Word and allow God to speak to them. The homeschool curriculum we use has lots of bible, and so I took for granted that they were “getting what they needed.” Again, the problem was, they weren’t getting it from me. So we made some changes.
We have a “new routine” and I, we love it! I lead the boys in family devotions before starting school work in the morning. We take as long as they want if they have questions, and I will pick out several things to discuss. Peyton, Eli, and even Neyland at times will pray for the day, and over specific prayer requests. Everyday, weather permitting of course, I will take a few minutes to just play with them. Honestly, I think I enjoy it more than they do. By the way, 9pm is still lights out! (I’m mean like that.)
At night, Ashlee and I will read a marriage book together, out loud. We will discuss what we read, any issues that need to be addressed, either between us, or with our sons, and then we will make a plan for the next day. We will end each day reading from God’s Word together. This was something we started just after we were married, and like many other things in life, often neglected over time. Our phones are plugged up on the opposite side of the room and silenced. We have set aside time that is 100% devoted to each other. Its at this time, I ask Ashlee, “what can I help you with tomorrow? Is there anything you need me to take care of?” Usually, she simply says, “just love me.” Isn’t it truly amazing that the one thing most wives desire from their husband is not more things, its simply love and time?!
Is our marriage perfect? Not by a long shot! Do we agree on everything? Not at all! But as we create new routines, replace bad habits with good ones, grow in our relationship with God, and each other; even our disagreements are filled with love and tenderness. Right now, Ashlee and my marriage is the strongest it has ever been! I know this is a long post, but I also know that there are likely many others that especially during this time are facing many of the same frustrations we were and are. If this will help give you some ideas about nurturing and protecting the MOST IMPORTANT human relationship you have on earth, you and your spouse, then to God be the Glory! Please know that Ashlee and I are praying with you and for you as you seek to honor the Lord together, and raise your children to follow Him, even in these uncertain days!