Blaine and I just got home from an amazing vacation.
It was just the two of us - no kids. We sailed for seven days and nights on a cruise through the Caribbean. We thought it was the perfect way to celebrate the fact that we started dating this time exactly 5 years ago.
It was glorious. Fun. Magical, even.
But there was a moment on that cruise that was very pivotal for me.
At one point on the boat, I caught myself just looking at Blaine. He was sitting on the pool chair next to me, simply watching people as they passed by, minding his own business. But as I looked at him - with his scruffy beard and black rimmed glasses, so handsome and strong - I almost broke down in tears.
Because my mind went back - back to a time...where things weren't so sunny.
And as I started remembering those dark times - it was as if the Lord told me, "write it."
So, I will.
What most of you don't know, is that around this same time 4 years ago, we almost called it quits.
Yes, that's right. "Blaine and I" almost weren't "Blaine and I" anymore.
Now let me be clear - I'm so not a fan of "airing dirty laundry." It's tacky. And I'm actually not a fan of too much "transparency" either, as some things are better left unsaid.
But what I do know, is my God is a God of restoration - and, that even in the most impossible of situations, He can still bring sunshine after a devastating rain.
So knowing that, and in obedience to what He wants me to share, I'm going to tell you about this dark time with us, and what God did to bring us through it.
Because someone - I don't know who - but someone, needs to hear this. And maybe it's you.
I've always wanted to be a wife.
I was very boy-crazy growing up. If I had a boyfriend, I would write out my potential "new last name" in perfect penmanship a thousand times, dream about what our babies would look like, and even fantasize about romantically kissing in the rain after a heated argument in classic "The Notebook" fashion.
I loved love. I loved the idea of love. And I loved to picture how amazing that love would feel as someone's wife.
It seemed like those dreams came true so quickly for me, at only 23. Blaine and I met, got engaged, and got married - all within a 6 month time frame. He was handsome, loved Jesus, and was obsessed with me at the time - everything I ever wanted. Everything that surrounded our very short courtship was nothing but - well - perfect.
But the moment we got married - literally, THE moment - it was like something changed with the both of us.
The "real" us began to shine through. And neither one of us could stand it.
For him, I was immature. I was whiny. I was messy. I would get my feelings hurt over everything. I wasn't working nor contributing to our family financially.
This picture he had in his head of me being an "always well-groomed, goal-driven, TV-career-pursuing, strong and independent woman," was pretty much NOT who I was at all.
And it freaked him out.
For me, he was harsh. He was moody. He was prideful. He would go golf or hang out with friends for hours without asking if I had any plans myself. He wouldn't compliment me or hold my hand in public anymore, nor randomly express his love for me like he used to.
This picture I had in my head of him being an "always kind, compassionate, always fantasizing-about-our-future, and always reminiscing-on-our-love-story kind of man," was NOT who he was at all.
And it freaked me out.
Finally, after only four months of being married, I'd had enough.
And he did too.
I packed my bags and went back to my parent's house. Embarrassed, bitter, and defeated. Too much fighting and too much torment surrounded our life together. We were only bringing out the most toxic parts of each other. There was no love, no happiness, no peace.
And in the heat of the moment - we thought it was over.
But at the same time - as a couple who was still truly, and madly, in love - those two weeks of separation were agonizing.
We missed each other - terribly.
Surrendering to the fact that divorce wasn't an option for us, we agreed to go to a weekend-long deliverance session with spiritual counselors from The Bethesda House in Galveston, TX.
From what we had heard about the place, it was supposed to be a powerful time of prayer and restoration that could mend even the worst of situations and relationships through the precious love of Jesus.
So, reluctantly yet willingly, I re-packed my bags, went back to Fort Worth, and met Blaine at our apartment.
Together the next morning, we drove to Galveston for the weekend - with open hearts, and a desire to heal.
And y'all - let me tell you something - that place, The Bethesda House, was nothing short of miraculous. For the both of us. It was the most powerful weekend of - just - letting go. Letting go of baggage, pain, past experiences, insecurities, unforgiveness, and clarity to what our flaws truly were.
And with tons of intense prayer over us together and separately - God mended us that weekend. And we have never, ever been the same.
Finally - our marriage was finding the self-awareness, true compromise, and unconditional love it deserved.
It took us 4 months to know what it actually felt like to be in the "honeymoon stage" of life. And though it took longer than expected, all of those dreams I had of being a wife in a passionate and harmonious marriage - were finally coming to pass.
But then - a "suddenly" happened.
Just a few short weeks after returning home from Galveston, we discovered that a little human was growing inside of me.
A little human who was conceived on the very night I returned home to Blaine, after being separated for two weeks, the day before we left to go to The Bethesda House.
A little human who, despite the birth control and despite our rocky circumstances, was being knit in my womb, as a sign that God has so much more planned for Blaine and I - together - as one.
God's timing is so amazing, and so perfect.
I totally get how easy it is to compare your stories with the stories of others.
How easy it is to see someone else's pictures, the parts of their relationship they choose to share, and think "man, my life is so not that good."
But let me tell you - neither is theirs. Heck, neither is ours. There's still so many days where Blaine annoys the absolute hell out of me, and vice versa.
There is NO ONE who has a picture perfect marriage, a picture perfect story, a picture perfect life. A life free from pain, free from hurt, free from tears, free from turmoil.
But I will tell you what we learned through that time, 4 years ago. We learned that when things were full of pain, full of hurt, full of tears, and full of turmoil for us - there was a root to all of our problems:
We expected to find happiness in the hands of each other, not in the hands of Jesus.
We expected our needs to be met in the hands of each other, not in the hands of Jesus.
We expected to change each other on our own, rather than letting Jesus be the one to change us.
That weekend taught us to always, always look inward (at ourselves), and then look upward (at Jesus). If we looked forward (at each other), we would always, always be disappointed.
Relationships are hard. They are so, so hard.
And my friend, if you're in a place in your marriage where you think you can't go on, where you think you can't find restoration, do these things for me:
1) Look inward (at yourself).
2) And look upward (at Jesus).
He is the God of peace, the God of hope, the God of renewed strength.
And the ONLY way to get through seasons of rain, is to reach for the Son instead.