In Front of the Fire

Some of my favorite moments in my relationship with Ashley on a daily basis are the times when we are able to simply be together. No agenda, no project, only us.

I do not have a lot of memories from the early years of our marriage. My head was not in the right place and I rarely was in the moment. I was always looking for the next stage, the next job, school being done, our kids being a year older, etc. But, there is a moment I remember fondly.

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I Met Someone Else

Sophomore year had left me ready to move on. I had a big mission’s trip to Mexico City planned, and I was ready to forget about you and Liz. I left Phoenix feeling excited about the future. When I landed in Dallas and took the bus to our training camp, I couldn’t help but wonder what was in store for me. When I arrived at camp, I immediately met my team who were all super friendly and just as excited to be there as I was. There was a boy on my team who immediately singled me out. Jackson was a southern boy who lived in white t-shirts and jeans, played guitar and sang like an angel. He wasn’t you, but he was really into me.

 
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I remember thinking, “But…I’m not the prettiest or coolest girl here, and he’s obviously the prettiest coolest guy here, maybe I’m imagining things.” But nope. That kid was totally into me. So I leaned into the feeling and thought, “Well, if I can’t have Tim…this guy is pretty amazing, maybe I should go for it.” So I did. Jackson and I agreed to continue our relationship long distance. He called me every night and for a few months, it was perfect. I had a boyfriend. He would sing to me over the phone, tell me about his football games, and say, “I love you” in his southern drawl. We made promises to each other to wait for each other and reunite in college and then get married. He was trying to persuade his family to come to Arizona on vacation. I talked at length with his Mama on the phone, got to know his little brother who adored me, and generally felt like this could be it. It wasn’t you, but at least he had wanted me, and this felt easy.

As with most high school relationships, Jackson and I slowly drifted apart. I got the sense there was someone else, and to be honest babe, I never really got over you. You and I became closer during the first semester of junior year, and I started to relax around you. We dissected cats in Anatomy class, joked around in Chemistry class, and solved crimes in Forensics class. You got flirty, but I convinced myself you were that way with every girl, and tried not to think about it. After all, I was still dating Jackson.

Eventually, Jackson called me one day to tell me there was another girl and he wanted to take her to homecoming. I had a mixture of emotions, part of me was relieved. Things had grown tense between us, and I was ready for the relationship to end, but I also felt like, “Was I not enough? He found someone else when he told me he wanted to marry me!” I hung up the phone with a pit in my stomach, feeling both relieved and sad. And alone again. Back at square one.

I hadn’t been enough for Jackson. The guy I had dated my sophomore year left me for someone he swore “meant nothing” to him, and I had convinced myself that You were never going to be into me. November ended with me feeling like I never wanted to date again. And then something shifted with you that left me reeling…

-Ash

I looked into the crowd & found Ashley...

I’m all the way to the right, #33

I’m all the way to the right, #33

My senior year in high school it became a thing that every time I made a free throw during a basketball game I looked into the crowd, found Ashley and winked at her. I do not know how it became a thing or when I started doing it, but it ended up being a memorable event for Ash and I.

I tend to be a private individual. Shocking as that may be given that Ash and I are now putting our life out in public. But that is not my natural bent. Ash feels more comfortable in public. She thrives off of being around others. Ash loves theater and being on stage performing. I used to feel uncomfortable expressing public affection to Ash. Quite frankly, I do not know how I started the wink thing, given the fact that for that moment, Ash and I’s relationship was on public display. My friends on the basketball team gave me a hard time and my coach would shake his head. But I think the fans found it endearing and Ash loved it.

You can see a clip of this below.

As Ash and I have gone through our relationship, I realized that she enjoys it when I acknowledge our love and her publicly. I am just fine with telling Ash Happy Anniversary or Happy Birthday in private and giving her a homemade card. She enjoys those things, but I also know that she enjoys it when I acknowledge her publicly. As result, I make an effort to do so. I will go on Facebook and write on her timeline or tag her in a post, even though I do not usually post on social media.

Often times, the way that your partner feels most loved is different than yours. You must be mindful of the way your partner feels loved and move outside of your comfort zone to love them in that way, even if it may make you feel uncomfortable.

The basketball wink is one of my fondest memories in high school. My love for Ash overcame my uneasiness of putting our relationship on display and I’m so glad we can look back and remember those moments.

-Tim


MARRIED with kids...

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First of all, No- we are not currently pregnant, this is an ultrasound photo from our first pregnancy, the day we found our our oldest had boy parts. That was a surreal day. But more on that another time. Today, I wanted to share a little bit with you about being “Married with Kids.”

A little backstory- here was our plan… Get married, wait 5 years, have 2 maybe 3 kids, be perfect parents. You’re laughing inside, aren’t you? That’s fine, I’m laughing too. We plan, God laughs, right? Well, that WAS our plan, here’s what actually happened… Get married, get pregnant 5 weeks later (while on the pill), have 4 kids, be okay parents (we are doing our best, but are nowhere near perfect.)

So these two crazies got married and had to get a babysitter for their first anniversary. I don’t recommend this plan. But there we were.

We hadn’t even gotten used to each other yet, and here was this little human we suddenly had to make space for. I’m going to skip a LOT of time here and say, we didn’t really understand the absolute necessity of putting each other first every time, until we were probably about 8 years in. By that time, we had 3 kids and were trying for a 4th. Our lives revolved around breakfasts, snacks, Daniel Tiger, zoo trips, changing diapers, cleaning up all manner of human bodily fluids, scraping boogers off the wall, and collapsing into bed at the end of the day exhausted and not even sure we wanted to be there sometimes. Sure, we managed a date night once in awhile, but neither of us were living mindfully, and we certainly weren’t living mindful of the other person. I think Tim would agree with me when I say we eventually devolved into roommates who had good sex. We were basically in survival mode. And you know what? That happens. It happened to us, we know it happens to a lot of couples, because let’s face it- our kids often tend to demand more than our spouse does, and so naturally, we put the kids at the very top of the priority list.

But here’s the thing...the kids should not come first. Your person, your partner, should come first. Now before the mommy bloggers come after me with torches and pitchforks, let me explain why.

 
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I called up my mom, since she and my dad have weathered a nearly 30 year marriage and are still happily married with their parenting days behind them. In her words, you need to put your partner first, “Because you’ll have them longer!” She went on to say that parenting  goes so fast, and one day it’s behind you, you’re at your youngest daughter’s wedding dancing, and realizing- you’ve made it. You fought the good fight. You want to arrive at the end of your parenting journey hand-in-hand with your spouse and onto the next adventure.

This rings so true, I can’t even tell you the number of divorces I’ve seen after the kids leave home, because these two people who made this family have nothing in common anymore. I asked her, “Okay, so what would you say to our readers about why, if parenting is such a brief period of time in your marriage, why can’t you put the kids first while they are at home, and then work on your marriage and devote your time to that once they leave?” Her answer was that marriage just doesn’t work that way. She says that had she and Dad not worked on their marriage actively, there wouldn’t have been anything there to go on with once all us kids were grown.

Marriage is an investment. An expensive one, but one that is well worth the blood, sweat and tears. Tim and I are still in the thick of the parenting stage, so how do we invest in our marriage now?

We go on dates. We go on weekend away trips at least once per year. We talk about things. We text each other through the day. We’ve learned to be active listeners and to be humble when confronted. We laugh together, we cry together. We also dream, and make plans and goals together.

This sounds so much simpler than it actually is. Finding time and money to do these things is difficult, but however you’re able to carve out that space to put each other first, that has to happen if you’re going to have a chance at a long and happy marriage.

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You have to look at your marriage like a business, in a sense. Not just something that happens to you. You wouldn’t start a business without first making a business plan. If you fail to plan, you can plan to fail. Sitting down with your spouse, making a plan, setting goals and talking through your priorities enables you both to be on the same page. These goals and priorities can of course be fluid and flexible as life happens, but the one thing that should always be at the top of the priority list? Your marriage.

Not just for you, but for your kids as well. Showing your kids an example of a functional and happy partnership between you and your spouse not only gives them hope for their own marriages should they choose that one day, but it gives them the comfort and security kids crave from a peaceful home.


The First Time I Saw You -Ash

I remember the first time I saw you.

It was freshman year in highschool and we were on a field trip to GCU. You and your friends were playing frisbee on the lawn and this girl Cait who had a crush on you at the time was remarkably how cute you were and pointing you out to us girls. I remember thinking you were really cute. Then at some point later on she sat you down at lunch and asked you out. You turned her down. I remember thinking, “Who turns Cait down? She's one of the prettiest girls in school.” And suddenly, you were super intimidating to me.

Sophomore year, I remember being so excited on the first day of school when you showed up in every single class I was in. I would just sit and stare at you all during class. I would sit and think, “I'm going to marry that boy.” I had it all planned out. Your dad, I found out, was a military chaplain so that was perfect. He could marry us in his uniform. As I sat observing, I began to notice you paid a lot of attention to this other girl, Bekah. You guys were just friends, but I could tell you liked her a lot.

We weren't really even friends at that point and I sent my best friend, Jess over to ask you what you thought of me. You told her you didn't like me “like that” but thought I was a cool girl.

Never ask questions you don't want the answer to.

I wanted to cry. Pretty soon thereafter, you started really hanging out with this girl, Liz. She was pretty, blond and super athletic. I felt like she was the opposite of what I was and that's what you wanted.  My heart hurt. I wondered if maybe being around you more, you would finally see the light and develop a crush on me, so I decided to join the youth group at the church where you and a few of our friends went. On my first night there, they announced the missions trip to Mexico and asked who would be interested in going. I shot up my hand thinking maybe you would be impressed by me volunteering to go.

You didn't even notice. But you did go on the trip, and I was so excited to get to spend some time with you without Liz there. On the drive down in a van full of girls, I remember sitting in the back listening to, “Stand By Me” I cried quietly to myself feeling very hopeless that we would ever be together. I begin to wonder if I should date someone else or move on. But no one else interested me.

In Mexico, we talked more and I felt like we were becoming friends. I knew I shouldn't get my hopes up, but you let me borrow your sweatshirt when I was cold one night. It smelled so good (Old Spice Pure Sport) and I thought, “Okay, maybe he likes me?” But no, you were just being a good guy and a gentleman. I still held onto a small shred of hope after that trip, but then track season started.

I joined because you and Liz were joining and I wanted to keep tabs and maybe impress you with my skills. In track, you just ran- how hard could it be??

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Sadly, not being a runner, I was terrible. Like really bad. So any hope of trying to get your attention pretty much died. Although one day, my knee gave out during practice and you carried me back to the school. You were strong and I was so smitten. One practice we had at Mesa community college, my grandparents came to watch and afterward we went out to lunch at Burger King. My mom had pointed you out to Momo and she remarked to me at lunch how handsome you were and said she had a feeling things would work out. My heart sank and I try not to cry because at that point, I had truly given up on that. I felt like I had lost you, which was weird because it wasn't even like we had dated. I was done though, my friend Jess had encouraged me to move on. You just weren’t the right one. So I did. And that was how sophomore year ended… little did I know, things were about to get serious. But not with you.

-Ash

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