On June 30th, 2012, I married my best friend. Yes, I know, that’s super cheesy, but our wedding was anything but. It was seriously the best day yet of my life so far. I had so much fun, I didn’t even know what to do with myself. For those of you who were there, or even those weren’t, there was this:
Feel free to watch that and giggle like I generally do. (I actually bought a second dress just for that dance number so I could move as necessary!)
But this post isn’t about *that* June 30th, it’s about the two following it. A warning? This post isn’t going to be my typical, GIF-filled, silly, happy-go-lucky post. It’s going to cover some tough stuff. And that’s why it’s taken me so long to write it. July is hard. But love is beautiful, and Jesus loves me, so that should make this possible.
On our first wedding anniversary, we went away to a beautiful Victorian B and B in Bradford, New Hampshire. Feel free to check it out below.
It was a magical weekend, and it happened to have a little providence attached. We had been trying and preparing to become parents since February of that year, and, after much pain, medication, money and appointments, it appeared the stars were aligning and our anniversary was the possible “right time.” And it worked. Yup. I knew immediately. And I was blown away. But then what I truly couldn’t prepare for happened: a short time later, we lost the baby. I felt like I was dying inside, and the procedure was excruciating and I felt like I was being robbed twice. I felt like this amazing gift that I had been waiting my entire life for was ripped away from me. I’m bawling while writing this because it’s still so hard to even think about. I comfort myself sometimes with looking forward to meeting my son or daughter in Heaven someday. I wonder if he or she would have had hazel eyes like Tim and I…
So this past fall, when we moved to West Point, I was feeling ready to start a new job, get health insurance, and start the long, painful, expensive process all over again of trying to start a family. But things didn’t work out that way. Tim couldn’t find work. I found myself working 12 hour days to make ends meet. I was an anxious, overburdened mess and I began to withdraw. As possibly the most social person ever initially, this was totally out of character for me.
I think I might have been a little depressed. I didn’t mope and cry all the time, but Tim and I fought, a lot. I was angry and felt alone in my partnership. I needed him to be there for me and I didn’t feel like he was. I needed him to hold up his end of the bargain and I didn’t feel that he was. Our pastor in Massachusetts had told us during pre-marital counseling, “marriage isn’t 50/50, it’s 100/100” and he told us to constantly “die to yourself” and to put that at the core of our marriage. I tried, God knows I did. But I failed, miserably. I was ugly, entitled, belittling, bitter, demanding, resentful and malcontent. Man, this post is so much harder to write than I thought it would be, and it’s going somewhere I wasn’t planning on. I think I’m being…brutally honest?
After a few months, Tim found a job that paid very little but it had the promise of commission attached so he buckled down and got to work. In a couple short months, it was clearly not working out and the money wasn’t coming in. Not a single dollar of commission was given, despite his contracts with several companies and the promises of his boss. He left that job in the winter after working just under three months.
I began to despair for ever having stable income in my home, or Tim ever having a decent position. I gave up on getting insurance, or ever getting to start a family. There were other financial issues as well, and some things came to light from the previous year that rocked me to my core. I struggled with worrying, “can this marriage survive?” I feel very strongly that a vow is for life, but I was at my wits end.
We attended a marriage seminar in March and it truly helped rekindle some of that lost tenderness. No immediate change happened, but I was holding on. For those of you interested in checking that out, here’s the link for their promo for “Weekend to Remember”, which we attended:
Then we started talking about fasting. The conversation kept coming up because I believe food has always been a stronghold in my life and is for my husband as well.
By the time members of the church held a meeting to let folks know about their own fasts, I had already mentally signed on. I vowed to fast for our marriage, my health, and for little Paquettes. Obedience. Humility. Ugh. This fast has stripped me of every last inch of pride. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Step back a couple months to just after the Marriage Seminar. Tim wanted to start working for AFLAC and saw dollar signs immediately. He was convinced that he would make tons of money in the biz, and would be able to show “everyone” how successful he could be in sales. I was skeptical, but Tim was so certain, so adamant, and so heart-set. I agreed and Tim poured himself into yet another career. Despite long hours, and me providing money, hand over fist, for gas, licensing, etc, Tim never saw a penny back from that company. It was awful. He even turned down a gig managing his own AT&T store for decent money to stay with AFLAC, and I was ready to lose it.
Then we started the fast.
4 days in, Tim announces he needs to let AFLAC go, because it’s not right for him. Even though he hated to admit defeat because he didn’t want to be labeled a failure, he let it go. And within a couple more days, he was hired at a job and making actual money (not much, but it was still money).
Got all that? Yes, this post is long-winded. Yes, that’s why it’s taken so long to write. #sorrynotsorry
WHATEVER YOU’RE THINKING, DO *NOT* STOP READING YET, THIS IS THE GOOD PART AND TOTALLY WORTH WAITING FOR!!!!
Okay, fast forward to *this* June 30th. Tim and I had followed the traditional gift giving list for wedding anniversaries for the last two years. Year one is paper, year two is cotton. I went to open my gifts this year and he strangely had four of them, labeled #1, #2, #3 and #4, and the last one also said “the other 25%”. I was confused and opened #1. I was a silly, goofy card. I loved it. #2 was a sweeter card, and it had a $1 bill in it. Odd??
The inside of the card proceeded to explain that the dollar bill is 75% cotton. (DID ANYONE ELSE KNOW THIS?!) The card then asked me to take the dollar bill, open gift #3 and put the dollar bill inside it. I was then further bemused. In my head I thought, “is it a piggy bank or something?” When I opened the third gift, it was a picture frame. Now I was really bewildered. I looked up at him and asked, “You want me to frame the dollar bill?” He grinned from ear to ear and shook his head yes. He was clearly taking great pleasure in my perplexity because he has never yet been able to totally surprise me as I always figure out what he’s up to. I followed his directions and opened the back of the frame. Out fell yet another card.
The card starting talking about a change of heart. He’d written about how he’d been selfish, how he’d not done his part, how he’d left me alone in the finances. I felt my lip start to tremble.
His writing turned to understanding all of the heartache I had experienced this year and how what he’d done was wrong. My eyes began to well up.
Then came the explanation of the dollar bill and the following declaration. The dollar bill represented his oath to work 60 hours a week at a crummy job he hated if it was necessary to provide for the family, to keep up his end of the bargain. He told me to store the card inside the frame, and if I ever he stopped making good on that promise, I was to take the card out and make him read it to me again. A dam inside me broke, and I fell apart. I was sobbing by this point. Something you should know? I don’t do well with vulnerability and valid expression of emotion. I usually feel so self-conscious when opening presents that I can’t really engage at all. But this floored me.
(Gift #4, the other 25%? It was a 25$ gift card for Victoria’s secret, cause, yeah, that’s cotton. Eh-heh.)
This fast has been amazing. And awful. I will write more in a couple days about the last several days, and how God has continued to strip me down, and to rebuild us from scratch. I am hungry. And I have a lump in my throat. But God, I have so much joy. I am so nakedly broken and ugly and beautiful and in Him those things can coexist. And I don’t even know how to explain it other than to say I am grateful. He loves me. He loves Tim. Even in our wanton disregard for His direction in our lives, He still blesses us. I am *onmyface* in awe. I don’t even know how else to describe it. Thank you, Papa.
Okay, apologies first. I’m not good at consistency. Obviously.
I will now crawl out of this hiding place and attempt to atone.
Now then: Day 7 and 8: I know I already posted about day 7 but I didn’t get to write about the end of day 7 when I was able to meet with other folks doing this fast and the author of the book I’m working through. You can get it here: http://amzn.com/1938050002
The discussion was really excellent and encouraging and being with other folks who are going through this, to quote the author, made me feel “normal.” Usually, if you tell people what you’re doing – usually in the process of refusing something delicious to eat – people get really confused and upset. The most common response, “So wait, what do you even eat?!”
And my thoughts? Please, please don’t make me explain this again.
But not in this group. Yup, they were awesome. They also thought I was funny, which is both worrisome and wonderful. Mostly because I’m not all that funny, but I’ll take the laugh. 😀
So now onto Saturday. Saturday started with a client session which wasn’t ideal, but I had a great drive to the session with some fabulous music and prayer time. Click the link below and feel free to listen to it for the rest of this post. I think it kind of explains my mood that day.
The next day was church and business, and then the week started like a blur. Details lost their significance because the week was crazy busy, with something every single night.
For example, a typical week looks like this:
Sunday: Church (Tim ushers, I sing), then softball games in Gloucester where Tim pitches. Then me furiously working on my weekly notes for work (yes, I know, I am a serious procrastinator) orrrrrr going to leadership summit at the Kingsway campus and then furiously working on my paperwork.
Monday: WE BOTH WENT TO WORK BECAUSE WE ARE BOTH WORKING NOW. I’M JUST SAYING, NBD, KTHANXBAI.
Monday night: small group with some fine folks in Toano.
Tuesday: AGAIN, BOTH AT WORK, NBD. Tuesday night Tim had a men’s small group so I had a friend over for ladies night.
We’re pretty fabulous, obvi.
Wednesday: I’m still excited he’s working, but I’ll stop shouting at you.
Thursday: Work, then worship practice.
Friday: work, then Tim has a night meeting and I cuddle with Ladybug and my mistress: Netflix.
So things got dicey last week because we ran out of money. As in, open the bank account and:
We had to put gas and other basic needs on credit cards, and I *hate* using credit cards. Also, I couldn’t adequately prepare for Tim’s anniversary present the way I normally would.
First. A little background on me. Have you ever read or been told about the Five Love Languages? If not, do it. Here’s the link:
It’s an easy, short read and under $10. It talks about the five basic ways that folks give and receive love. Generally, people fall into one or two categories and they give and receive love similarly. I’m a weirdo (shock, I know) and I fall into three. I give and receive love through quality time and physical touch, but I also (and only) like to express love through gifts. That means I spend a lot of time thinking about, planning for, and presenting my gifts. If someone was disappointed, I’d be devastated. I love to personalize and take my time with a gift. And spend a good amount of dough, especially if it’s someone important to me. Like, say, my husband. For our wedding anniversary. I was not in my happy place.
So we agreed to wait and exchange gifts on our actual anniversary, Monday, when my paycheck would come in, and put our anniversary entertainment costs on a credit card. So Saturday came, and I was literally awake and singing in the shower. BECAUSE I COULD EAT FOOD THAT DAY!!!
Then we went to an epic breakfast at this adorable little place in Gloucester and I could literally feel joy in my stomach.
After that, it was a Bluegrass Festival in Mattaponi, and on the drive there, the sky was a perfect blue, the fields a perfect green, the sun beat warm on my skin…it was…perfect. I turned to Tim as we were driving and said, “When I dreamed about coming here, this exactly the summer days I imagined.” To which he replied, “I’m glad I could make your dreams come true.” Sure, he’s a cheese, but still.
The festival was adorable, complete with dancing old folks, classic cars, etc.
We even got into a massive helicopter and took a selfie (as you do).
The next leg of the journey was “lunch” for fro-yo at Sweet Frog in Richmond.
And then, finally, off to dinner/movie at Cinebistro. This little chain is only in Florida and here, and it’s awesome. High end, black tie style waiters serve you in classy, comfy leather seating in a posh theater that’s 21+. They had a version of “chicken and waffles” that was super high end and mega delish.
And popcorn, and soda. Also, I got massively sick. Shock.
We also drank coke, several cups worth. That was a huge mistake. No caffeine and sugar x14 days followed by that? Welllll…
The entire. Way. Home. I was wired for sound. I could hear colors, man.
Sunday was lovely, and I managed to increase the sunburn I’d already earned at the Bluegrass festival at Tim’s softball games.
I want to tell you all what happened with our actual anniversary on Monday, but that needs to be it’s own post. Because it’s so great. Srsly.
Get ready for a great story!!
More to come!!