Our MEA Days

Every October the Montana Educators Association schedules a long weekend for teachers statewide to go and learn and acquire re-certification credits. Doesn’t that sound fun……

My husband was blessed with not needing to attend the conference so we created a different version of MEA Days. Our Marriage Enhancing Adventure Days were spent making a quick and memorable trip to the Oregon coast. It’s important for couples to find time to reconnect and do a status check on their marriage. We caught up while driving, discussed big decisions that we’re coming up, prayed about the future, and talked and talked and talked some more.

Toes in the ocean in October
Toes in the ocean in October

Christopher and I have these “State of the Union” type meetings almost quarterly as a means of maintaining and assuring the health of our marriage. Sometimes we’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to conduct a performance review while on a mini vacation, other times we’ve done it snuggled up on our couch. It’s simply a time and a place to genuinely discover how one another is doing, discuss any problems you might be having, any changes that need to occur.

Although my husband didn’t garner knowledge from the real MEA Days, here’s a few things we happened to learn from our trip.

Sleeping in a Hostel…makes Amy hostile.

Making our bed on the top bunk of our shared room....happily naive here.....
Making our bed on the top bunk of our shared room….happily naive here…..

And did I mention this was all my idea? Sensitive sleepers beware, having no control over lighting, noise and smells in shared sleeping quarters is a big no no. Hey, European travelers do it all the time right? And no wonder my husband kept asking in a very skeptical tone, “We are staying at a hostel?”

Lesson #1 Just pay a little extra for your own room and a good nights rest. Oops!


Always try new places to eat, do not eat at chain restaurants on a road trip for heavens sake!

in White Salmon Washington. Er’ body is how we kept saying it, and although it was a brewery, we were not there to get tipsy. We don’t drink, we eat. Mmmmm that peanut
butter brownie sundae was incredible.everybody'sLesson #2 Eat where the locals eat. And it’s okay to budge a little on your normal diet as long as you eat healthy for most of the trip. The last thing you wanna do while traveling is get food sick, or feel crummy from too much fast food.


Stay calm, it’s just lots of people and fast driving….

I'll take a dirt road over this any day!
I’ll take a dirt road over this any day!

Lesson #3 Be patient with each other. Whether you’re the navigator in the passenger seat or the one behind the wheel, give each other a break. It’s a challenge driving through big cities together when you’re so used to flying down mountain roads. It’s even more difficult when neither of you have an iphone, Garmin or TomTom. More like, AmyAmy.


Do something new and be in the moment.

us train

Lesson #4 Don’t let your expectations ruin the adventure. Our train ride from Hood River to Parksdale was a great time spent seeing sights and chatting about what we saw. Although it wasn’t the best train ride in my opinion, having quality time with my husband was all that mattered. If my review doesn’t scare you away here’s a place to get tickets.


Stop and smell the sea lions…..


Lesson #5 Stop rushing around so much – on vacation and in our day to day lives! I’ll admit as chief booking agent, adventure planner and date coordinator in our marriage I struggle with just letting plans unfold. I’m all about getting places on time, having a set schedule of things to do, this is an area in our marriage and in life that I need the Lord to work in me some patience. When you’re so focused on the A, B, and C, you miss out on the beauty of spontaneity with your spouse and moments of magic that a perfectly orchestrated agenda can’t give.


When we were heading out of Astoria the morning we had to head home we stopped at a Safeway so we could get some Starbucks of course 🙂 I ordered while Christopher was outside taking pictures of the gigantic freight ships in the Columbia River. You could hear the sea lions just down the road on the docks yelping to one another. Getting into the car I was anxious to get on the road cause of the long drive ahead of us, and Chris said he had to use the restroom. Of course I grumbled, “hurry up please!” I think to myself we don’t have time for any more stops today. Then moments later he returns with a bouquet of sunflowers and my entire attitude changes. What a loving gesture on a rushed morning home. As we pull out of the parking lot to get on the road, we both decide to drive over to that little dock and take a few more minutes to watch the sea lions, cause who knows the next time we’ll be in this place…..


A Time for Grace

A loud clattering against our bedroom window, banging on the glass it sounded like someone was trying to break in. I squeeze Christopher so hard in my sleep I wake myself up in a panic. It was only a dream. My hearts racing and I’m breathing rapidly. He tries to calm me and ask me what’s wrong. I tell him I had a bad dream, and apologize for waking him. Only he’s been awake for awhile now too from having a nightmare as well, he heard the sound of someone being choked outside our bedroom window. It was just a dream. I slow my breathing and ask him why we both had bad dreams? It’s 4:00 am. We haven’t watched any scary movies. Then in my dreary alertness I mutter to my husband “it must be that time of year.” He agrees.

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

I try to control my thoughts, pray for peace and the strength to let things go. But I suppose I’m still a work in progress. It’s amazing how the mind can just sweep you back and memories can overtake you like tidal waves. The harder you try to ward off the flashbacks the stronger the hold they’ll have on you. “God I’ll charge it to you.”

“It must be that time of year”. I was referring to a year ago this week. The day our car was stolen. The day we weren’t harmed physically, but emotionally and mentally we’d been damaged.

I see many differences in our lives from that day.

Every single time we walk into our house, Christopher locks the door behind him, he has such a habit of doing it he’ll even lock it if he knows he’s going back out in just a minute.

We used to take walks with our dogs at dark, during certain times of the year when getting off work around sunset we’d go out despite the darkness. We’ve done that only a few times since then.

Loud noises and strange sounds send us both jumping and scared.

Our sleep is less restful, creaking walls wake us easily.

We moved to a new neighborhood when we bought our first house, this has brought us some relief.

Hunting season was a struggle for us both, leaving early to trek through the woods before dawn left us anxious and nervous.

We try not to talk about “that morning” very often because when we replay it in our minds and hear the sounds in our head our hearts race and our chests ache. Panic attacks.

We avoid discussing the what could’ve-of-happened because it is far too painful to imagine.

We pray more together as a couple. (which is a positive outcome 🙂 )

We praise God for his protection and His grace, we pray for guidance in the moving forward. We ask for the strength to forgive and the power to not have to understand it all. We seek God for his wisdom in having to see the person who did this. We pray for soft hearts when the anger sets in. We look to God for truth when we feel like justice has not been served. We ask God to take our revengeful spirits and let us allow Him to handle the punishment. We too are sinners in need of grace.

We both know it was just a car. A large piece of metal with a hefty price tag attached. It’s value was nothing compared to a life. Human life is so precious, God created it, He created us all in His perfect image. When you’re faced with having to protect your life from someone else, that changes you. Your perspective is never the same. Our marriage is different from that day.

Everyone on the planet will go through things, events, disasters, tragedies that produce a before and after point in their life. A wedding. A birth. A death. A natural disaster. A fire. A job loss. A move. A failure. A success. A broken heart. A hope renewed.

I ask God sometimes what the lesson was supposed to be? Have I learned it? Why did He allow this situation to happen? God doesn’t cause evil, because He is perfect, holy and blameless. But He can allow certain circumstances in our lives to be used for good, to be used as a way of sanctifying us, to be a chance for us to grow and learn.

Was I to learn fairness? Cause of course I felt like it wasn’t fair. Am I supposed to have a clearer understanding of God’s justice versus ours? Our justice system seems pretty broken down here. Was I needing to learn forgiveness? The moment I think of that day, or when I drive our new car, or when I hear the persons name I have to pray to God, “help me forgive him.”  By now I’m think I’m past the math that Jesus gave to Peter, forgiving up to seventy times seven. More like 7 times 365 days 🙂 Ask for God to help you forgive someone who’s wronged you, because you wont want to do it, but He can help change your heart.

I am to forgive others as I have been forgiven. Even if they never say sorry. Surprisingly as I continue learning this lifelong lesson in forgiveness it has been beneficial in my relationship with Christopher. I find myself extending grace to him more easily. Forgiving him for little things and giving my frustrations back to God and not him.

As I look down the road ahead of me, I am faced with the reality of having to see this person more frequently. This person that God loves, and Jesus died for just as He did for you and me. As I navigate this new situation that He is allowing I pray for abundant grace and mercy for myself because I know I will all too often fail and come up short, I am a sinner too. Perhaps one day I’ll get the chance to extend my forgiveness to this man, maybe not in words but in deed. I just pray for the strength and the dignity to do so when the opportunity comes.

Starting Again…

Amy Q.

Continuing, It’s said to be one of the hardest pursuits we humans can strive to do, according to my Pastor. So many of us can begin, but how many of us persist and follow through to the end?

I guess there is no “real” end in terms of creating a blog that is not only successful but meaningful and inspirational. I suppose my destination would be the satisfaction I feel when I see readers commenting on my stories, or when people respond to my work. When I can see that what I say matters to someone and that I encouraged them to do something different in their life or their marriage.

Maybe the end goal is to not let the numbers of “views” and “visitors” on my site ultimately be what defines me as a writer. Anyone can be a writer that’s what you become when apply pencil to paper or fingertips to a keyboard. But for me I wanted to create a site, a blog where you can come for ideas, a place to find words of hope for your marriage. A page that tells you that your spouse is worth fighting for and your marriage deserves to be invested in. A voice that reminds you that God loves you.

Perhaps I started this blog over a year ago because that is something that I was looking for? Being married for almost 8 years, I don’t know all the answers about how to be a godly wife, or how to make a relationship last. But what I did recognize was that I didn’t have anyone around me to mentor me, or to speak highly of the institute of marriage, or to show me how it’s done. Both my husband and I lacked seeing healthy examples of what a marriage should look like. In our small town there were maybe one or two married couples who’s relationship qualities we felt were worth modeling in our own.

I can still remember the feeling of being a starry eyed couple at St. Regis High School, and looking around at the broken lives of all the families in our community and asking myself “Are we all destined to fail at this?”

To fail at love. To have shattered families like our own. To repeat the mistakes of our parents. To one day have children and see them go through all the pain we’ve experienced. I pray to God no.

us lake como

You see one day when my husband and I were very young, naive to say the least, but very much in love we simply decided we’re not going to live our lives like everyone else. We see where our parents did the best they knew how but fell short, and we’ll learn from their mistakes. We’ll go against the grain, we’ll not fit in with our classmates, we’ll be different. Friends laughed at us when we say we don’t drink. Family and acquaintances snickered doubtfully at us when we got married so young and assumed it was “for other reasons”. But we continued.

But from the day we made our vows and said our “I will’s” instead of “I do’s” we knew this business of being a husband and wife would be difficult. We understood that it would take being intentional on a daily basis. It would require choosing each other day in and day out, choosing to respect, choosing to be faithful, choosing to love, choosing to use kind words, choosing to compromise, choosing to talk it out and not walk away. Continue to choose. Neither of us were shown these things.

Think back to how long it took you to learn how to drive. You weren’t just thrown behind the wheel and someone handed you the keys. You practiced hopefully 🙂 and were supervised while doing it. Who has shown you how to be married? How did you learn to be a good wife or husband? Where did you learn what a marriage should be? Well if you’re in the same boat as we are, here’s your life jackets, and don’t let go (of each other). Continue to try. If your marriage isn’t everything you thought it would be, then change it. Throw out any negative influences you have on marriage, look past the broken examples, and start again. O, and a great starting point is to create a plan. Kind of like a blueprint for a house, God has the greatest how-to guide for marriage, it’s called the Bible.

So I guess the point I am trying to make is continue, whatever it is you may be facing, march forward with faith. Life is hard, and that is a huge understatement. Marriages can struggle and cause pain, but by putting Jesus in your heart and in the middle of your relationship everything can be renewed.

I have to admit, I have been too embarrassed to write over the past several months simply because I stopped posting in the first place. I didn’t know how to continue. I hit a rough spot, and I gave up too quickly, I felt like I wasn’t making a difference. I let numbers and statistics get the best of me, and instead I should’ve have anchored my self worth and confidence in Christ. Which is something I will strive to continue doing for the rest of my life.

But for now, I would like to say that I am back, prayerfully! I want to share my date ideas again, my awesome adventures I get to partake in in this beautiful state of Montana. I want to motivate, even if it’s just one couple to go out and date with their spouse because they looked at this blog. And regardless of who reads this, my biggest desire is to bring honor and glory to God through what I say. I want others to be encouraged in their marriage and for a husband and wife to know that someone is here rooting for them!

Thank you for reading my past posts, now it’s time to Continue.


Love don’t cost a thing, but dates do!

By – Amy Q.

When you crunch the numbers dating your spouse on a weekly basis can possibly seem flippant and cavalier when it comes ones expenses. I disagree. What kind of price tag can you put on an evening out with your wife/husband sharing a new experience and at the same time learning something new about them? You can’t. I know that going to the movie alone these days cost as much as a steak dinner for one. I realize that budgets are tighter than ever, and that job prospects are bleak and uncertain. I get it that you feel stretched thin already, that you can’t picture finding any amount in your budget to delegate towards date nights.

But my friend, it comes down to choices and not income, it’s your personal daily preferences and not your bottom line. Living on a teachers salary and my part time job equals small bits of wiggle room to make sure we have the funds to fuel our marriage each month. So here is how we do it. Not everything we compromise on or sacrifice is right for everyone, I understand that. This is simply our way of making date nights happen each week and still being financially responsible.

We choose to not have TV. We do own one. But it’s primarily used for videos we rent, from Exxon, one or twice a month. Or watching movies we already have, like Rudolph last night. Throughout most of our six and half years of marriage we’ve never once paid for cable. It’s not just a financial decision to forgo this cost each month but an intentional way we protect our marriage. TV is not the enemy. But complacency is. Many couples/families I know are completely consumed by their televisions. It’s like the third wheel in their relationship. Especially if it’s in your bedroom. Maybe it’s a hidden blessing that we can’t fit a television in our small bedroom?

I find so much joy in not having the option to come home from work and just zone out to a tv show. Why? Because this forces me, even on the bad days to open up to Christopher, and share how my day went. I have more time to devote to prayer and reading our Bible together. And this allows for a consistent time throughout our hectic week to come home and focus on us and not the news or latest episode. Do we miss having this luxury? Sometime, in the winter mostly, when we are more limited in our outdoor adventures. But in all the others months of the year, we barely have the time to sit down and watch anything. So when you hear of all the expensive places we dine out at, just keep in mind that by saving $50-100 every month we automatically put that towards investing in our marriage through dates.

Another way we save and put money towards our monthly date fund is by saying no to fancy phones with internet. And we don’t have internet at all actually. We both have jobs where we have access to computers and the internet, and the once a week walk across the block to mooch internet from my husbands mother. We don’t have smart phones, I-phones, or any expensive new gadgets. We both have dumb phones, a.k.a. flip phones. Mine has had a broken screen repaired with tape for over a year now. Our monthly bare bones phone plan from Page Plus Cellular is $12.50 each. You can barely buy two lattes from Starbucks for that much.

I’m not mentioning this to complain or gripe. I am proud of our savvy and frugalish ways. Learning to live without is a challenge we will all face one day. I honestly don’t envy everyone around me who has instant access to facebook while they are out camping. I don’t feel the need to share with the whole word what I’m eating everyday or post every single picture I have ever taken. It feels good to have memories that no one else knows about. Because to me going out each week and sharing my life with just Christopher, that is my whole world. Being disconnected long enough to go on a evening walk with him and our dogs without answering our phones, thats important to me.

When we are eating together, or even with a group of friends, we stand firmly on the rule of no phones at the table, or counter (that’s where we eat every night). When you don’t live in a constant stream of text messages and voice mails, and twitter tweets, and facebook updates, you have time for the now, for real life, for the precious people in front of you. This habit not only saves us money, but it builds our marriage by prioritizing us when we are together. Turn off your phone, and pay attention to your spouse, not just at dinner, but at all times of the day.

Paying off our debt has been a huge blessing and also a huge struggle this past year. But God is strengthening us to persevere, through His monthly provisions, and growing us as a couple. By not having debt to hold us back I know God will allow us to give more freely to others and live a life closer to His will. Dave Ramsey has a program on how to get out of debt for good. You can read his book, check out the plan online either way you will not be sorry for at least covering the basics of his system.

We have paid off our car loan with this method. We are in the midst of paying of my student loans and the weight is lifting ever so slightly from the burden of carrying debt. Debt is not only toxic for your financial future it’s also a major cause for marriage troubles and ultimately divorce. Dave Ramsey is a Christian with biblical principles and guidelines for becoming a team when it comes to money and learning how to use money the way God intended it to be used. We wouldn’t be where we are on our journey to debt free living without this tool, but without God at the center of it all it would be impossible.

A way to cut costs on dining for date night is no alcohol. Christopher and I don’t drink whatsoever, at home or on dates. It’s just a choice we make and a command of the Bible not to get drunk on wine. So we get drunk on our love instead. I am appalled at the prices of one glass of wine at a nice restaurant. If you add that to your dinner it could nearly double the cost. Plus my reasoning is this: why ruin the evening by either forgetting it entirely, getting a DUI, or puking on your spouse? None of those sound very memorable. Cutting out the cost of alcohol all together results in a more romantic evening cause your not tricking yourselves in to relaxing and flirting with each other, it should just come naturally. No booze equals more budget for more dates. Good math.

Lastly some pointers on the costs of actual dates. Here is our magic number: $200.00 each and every month is taken right from our bank account and put into our DATES envelope. (Dave Ramsey can teach you how to start the envelope system). This money is used only for dates. Most months that means it’s about $50.00 each week. But some months we plan ahead and know that we have a special event or activity that costs extra so we simply shuffle the amounts around.

You can split up the money anyway you want. You can spend it all on one date if you feel the need to, but just make sure you can get creative and think of three more dates that month that are FREE! But speaking of free, that is a great way to afford date nights every week. On my resources page I listed several sites that have events calendars. Many of these community events are free or cheap to attend. Take advantage of these outings and it will help you stretch your dates budget.

I am well aware that our magic number may be well out of reach for some. But like I mentioned earlier if you’re willing to make some sacrifices in some other areas affording your monthly date night fund will be much easier. I suggest starting with any amount you can afford, even if it’s $50.00 for the whole month. If you can find a place to eat out for $12.50 and find a free event or activity to do your set.

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t scrounge up a lot of money right away, the important part is to at least consider it. And during different seasons of your marriage and life you’ll have to adjust your date fund to fit your circumstances. The dollar amount is not set in stone, but I do know one thing that is permanent, your vows to your spouse. Date nights may not make your relationship perfect, or fix every issue you have but it’s a starting point. It’s a meaningful way to actively put your relationship first in your life. Date night each week communicates your husband/wife comes first to all else following God.

Deerly Beloved

By – Amy Q.

gate amygate chrischris buck

Here are some truths I realized about marriage as I was helping my husband drag out his first trophy buck this weekend. I do understand that finding any sort of correlation between hunting and marriage makes me quite a redneck, and that this could therefore be used as a Jeff Foxworthy joke. Jokes aside, here are some thoughts I had after we got the buck home and collapsed from exhaustion.

Finding a buck, like finding your spouse is not about luck

God made it quite clear to Christopher and I where we needed to go the morning we got his buck. Our original and favorite hunting spot was taken so we left rather frustrated and had to quickly think of a second location. For some reason Billy Gulch came to my mind, I told Chris, I second guessed this idea and then he pointed the truck that direction and we drove. An important thing to keep in mind is that Christopher and I are not die hard, know-it-all, Montana hunters. In fact we usually sleep in on the weekends, we know what time sunrise is and then we head out afterwards. This morning was no different we started hiking around 9am, we are very lazy hunters. And an even more divinely planned fact is because my husbands brother couldn’t get us Cat-Griz football tickets for that same day we were out hunting instead. Chris didn’t get this buck because he is a great white hunter man, it’s because God wanted us to have it, plain and simple. We prayed the morning we went out, Chris was even praying out loud during the hike and he prayed specifically for a big muley buck. How crazy is that? But it’s not crazy at all, cause that’s Gods provision, His plan. It had nothing to do with luck, chance, karma, or our incredible hunting skills, we just prayed, believed that God would help us and He did. But without Him you can sit there believing that stump is deer until your blue in the face and that’s not going to make it a deer. So what does this have to do with finding a spouse, a lot actually. How was it that a boy born in Rhode Island, moved across the U.S. and wound up in my little town. I gave my life to Christ at church camp a year before he moved to St. Regis. We started dating when we were 15, ten and half years ago. And now we are married, and Christopher will be saved going on three years this Easter. God placed us together for a reason, it wasn’t the stars aligning it was His divine plan. As my pastor explained, God puts you with your spouse because only He knows exactly what you need, and God knew that I needed Christopher. Lord knows it wasn’t just my good looks…

Taking the shot, is like making a vow

When Christopher had the buck in the cross hairs of his scope once he pulled the trigger there was no going back. You choose to shoot and it’s your responsibility as a hunter to finish what you started, which is take the animal down, and not let it go to waste. We know that bagging any kind of animal for meat is a blessing and a provision. And marriage is one of the greatest gifts from God. I know that marriage vows are immensely more serious, they are a promise, a covenant between you and God and your spouse forever.  Marriage is an unbreakable bond between one man, and one woman for the rest of your life. According to the Bible once you make that vow it too is one you can’t take back. You can’t stop a bullet once it’s been fired, and you can’t change your mind after the wedding day. That is why you are taught in hunters education to be 100 percent sure of what you are about to shoot. And when you marry you need to be absolutely positive that this is God’s will for your life, and secondly that with His guidance you can keep your marriage vows.

After the kill feels like the honeymoon phase

Christopher checked through his scope that the buck was down and not breathing before we raced over to it. Both of use overcome by sheer joy and excitement as we came upon the massive beautiful animal that Christopher would get to tag. He was giddy and shaky as I snapped pictures of him posing with his kill, and he kept praising God for this gift. We prayed together thanking the Lord for our answered prayers, and then we field dressed the deer. If you’re a hunter you know what this part is like, if not, let’s just say this is the part of the marriage comparison where you share with your spouse everything about yourself, the good, the bad, the sin, the scars, the parts you want left hidden. This is the time it all comes out. Literally. Of course in marriage this may be over time, but to build true intimacy, you have to share it and bare it all to one another. And as a couple who is just beginning in marriage the journey is usually filled with joy and adventure and laughter as your leaving the starting gate. This too is similar in the process of dragging out the trophy buck your husband just killed. Still high off of the adrenaline and the rush you start out optimistic. Both of you holding one side of the horns stomping the snow in unison, until twenty feet later it hits you, this is going to be a long, hard, grueling journey.

Dragging a 200 hundred pound animal is hard, and so is marriage (in a good way)

We make it another 20 yards and we drop the horns both of gasping for air. We bobble back and forth with our hands on our heads trying to allow more air into our lungs, our thighs are burning and our 25 year old young backs are already hurting. I keep thinking to myself this is going to be a long day… Christopher and I have been married 6 and half years so I realize I am by far not even close to a marriage expert or really have any reason to be giving advice. The only reason I am married today is because of God’s grace. I literally was raised not knowing what a marriage was, my parents were never married and then later separated. My husbands parents divorced when he was very young and remarried several times. Realistically and truthfully we both shouldn’t even know how to make this marriage thing work. But we do and it’s because we are doing our best to put Christ at the center of it everyday. To love God first and let Him lead our relationship allows us to love each other the way God commands us to. Of course our marriage wasn’t always like this, Chris wasn’t even saved until we had been married for four years. But I believe God shielded us from temptation and from crumbling until Chris gave his life to Christ. Our life together is not without trials and pains, and challenges, but we learned from early on that we have to prioritize our marriage to make it work. Put our relationship first before work, cleave to each other and leave our families as the Word instructs us to. Chris and I came into marriage young (19) and unprepared, but we weren’t naive. We knew the risks, the chances of it failing, the broken families we came from and the many more breaking around us. We weren’t immune to the possibility of divorce, we simply fought for our marriage every day, every week, and then God came in and took over. We both knew that dragging out this huge buck was going to require strength, determination, patience with each other, and perseverance. We set out, even though we stopped more than we moved forward, but we did it together as a team.

It’s crucial to make goals and strive together to reach them

In our marriage our biggest stepping stones were our first home together, buying our first vehicle that started regularly, surviving our year of hospital bills and surgeries, my oophorectomy and my appendectomy, then Christopher breaking his elbow. Next would be graduating from college together, working at the newspaper, Christopher getting his first teaching job in Superior, then him giving his life to Christ. It’s really vital that as a couple you have dreams to share and look forward to, it gives you focus and something to work towards as a team. When we were dragging out the deer every time we stopped for a break we’d catch our breath and then one of us would point out a stopping point ahead, like the next bush on the left, or that pair of trees on the right. Each time we started pulling this gave me the push I needed to keep going a few extra feet to reach our goal. As my fingers would start to slip and my legs were giving out Chris would huff and puff, “Almost there…just a bit further”. Then we’d lurch to a stop right at our goal marker. Without this goal method I know it would have taken many more hours to get back to the truck. What’s your next dream you want to accomplish as a couple? Make it your intention to share your hopes and finds ways to reach them together. Write them down, put them on paper and in a place you can see them every day. Our next steps in marriage would be getting out of debt, buying our first home, then starting a family.

There will be times in both when you’re tempted to give up

I believe that I have un-diagnosed asthma, and on top of that I’m not the most in shape twenty five year old huntress you’ve seen. But thankfully my sweet and encouraging husband never let me stop. At times I felt like passing out or just laying down and quitting. I was so tired, hungry, and depleted of strength. But Christopher with his humor and support would keep talking to me, and encourage me to continue. And at times I had to be the one who cheered Christopher on, he was exhausted too, his head was pounding and his leg was hurt from pulling. So don’t forget that you have to take turns, give each other permission to feel weak or to even fail. You will fail one another, you’ll hurt and disappoint your spouse, not on purpose but because we are sinners. Your relationship will see mistakes and trials, and terrible pain sometimes but it’s in these seasons of struggle that God is growing the both of you. So don’t walk away from your marriage in these times, instead walk towards God who can heal and bring comfort. Because you’ll learn that you both can’t be strong and unshakable all the time. In marriage sometimes you’ll be the one who has to wipe the tears and hold your spouse up, months later it could be the other way around. Be there for each other, find your stability in Christ, and take turns being the shoulder to lean on. Pray for your spouse when there is nothing you can do to help them.

The road is long, really, really, long, but you’re in this as a team

I know that God put Christopher and I together as husband and wife for a reason, because through loving Christopher I will become the wife and woman God wants me to be. Through the lessons I have to learn, the character traits I will glean from being with this one man my entire life, the struggles we’ll go through together. I’ll admit the hardest part of life and marriage for me is the sheer unknown, not knowing what’s around the next corner. When dragging the buck out it was suddenly like we had both forgotten the entire hike in. Every corner we came to on the road we thought we were almost back to the truck. Maybe after this one, or it’s just one more straight stretch away. It made us more despondent and pessimistic with each turn realizing we were further away then we’d thought. God can’t reveal his plan for our life like a neat colorful brochure, as much as I would love it. We can’t plan for tomorrow, or next year if it weren’t for God granting us life to wake up each day. Making goals is a great tool but we also have to life in the present and listen for the ways in which God wants to live in us and through us today. If you can trust God to come through for you, living in the moment rather than praying for what you want down the road you realize He is blessing you more and more every step. As we concentrated on walking in unison and finding ways to make each drag easier on each other the load felt lighter. We needed to remember that God has us equally yoked, and that pulling as a team kept us from injury. Don’t ever forget that God is with you every step of the way, and that he has given you an amazing partner to share the weight of the journey.

The finish line is the truck and for marriage it is Heaven

Making our way around the final corner every lift of my boots felt like walking through drying cement. My hands were burning, blisters formed at the base of each finger, my throat was raw from breathing the harsh cold air. For a hunter seeing your truck at the end of a long and strenuous drag out, it’s a bit like seeing the pearly gates. And on this drag we did actually have to make it past two not so pearly gates which is ironic. Making it for the long haul happens so rarely in this day and age. And a lifetime marriage means the finish line is both of us meeting our Maker in heaven, still married. I sadly wonder how many couples who are my age will make it to their golden anniversaries. I do have hope though and that comes from the Lord, and from the great role models that God has placed in mine and my husbands lives. Like our Pastor Alan Damron and his wife Sarah who will be married for 41 years this December. Now that is the kind of trophy that both Christopher and I pray we’ll receive one day. The effort and the endurance that is takes to stick it out for a lifetime. We are blessed for this example in our lives and the advice we receive from them. Like how marriage is a  never ending game of who can out give the other, who can serve one another the most, and that marriage requires sacrifices, compromise, and a love that does not waver. Marriage needs a lot of mercy, compassion and forgiveness from two imperfect sinners who will spend their lives loving and serving our Holy, sinless, and perfect God.

I am grateful for a successful hunting season, but even more blessed to have Christopher by my side through every season of life. The seasons of change and chaos, the seasons of fear and doubt, the seasons of hope, adventure, and joy and laughter. I praise God for my hunting partner, my life partner, and for giving me Christopher to love for a lifetime.

When life gets in the way…

By – Amy Q.

I know, it’s been a few weeks. About three to be exact. And it’s been that long since Christopher and I have been out on a date. To me, that feels like a long time. I had every intention of posting something about the times when making date night happen is difficult. But that was before life got really difficult for me and my husband.

As my husband and I were looking forward to hunting season, which eliminates our dates on weekends, we weren’t prepared for the unexpected to happen. But really how can we? On the 17th, our car was stolen. It was early morning, still dark and foggy, Chris had to go into Missoula for the MEA Conference for teachers.

As I slurped down my slimfast breakfast shake I murmured to Chris to go start the car. Like he has done hundreds of times before. He came back inside, let the car warm up a few minutes and then we were headed out the door. But before I reached to turn the door knob I heard a loud sound outside. Brushing it off in our rush to leave, I opened the front door, stepped out onto our front stoop and froze on the last step. The noise I heard was even louder now and it sounded like it was coming closer to us. I had just flicked off the front porch lights as we headed out the door. The street light by our yard is burnt out. It was pitch black. The noise stunned me, growling, moaning, zombie-like is the only way to explain it. I asked Chris again what the sound was coming from. Praise God Christopher reacted quickly, grabbed my arm and sprang back into the house, slamming the door so hard I thought all the pictures would crash to the floor.

He locked the door behind us, saying “someone is out there.” Someone I thought? How could that have been human, it, he, was making the scariest sounds I had ever heard. But my husband confirmed that it was a person because he saw the figure of a man coming through our arch at the end of our walkway. He was coming toward us, toward our house. The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind that this person outside would take off in our car that was running.

After Chris locked the front door, I ran to the back door to make sure it was locked too. Chris ran to the bedroom, where our handgun is stored, unzipping the bag he heard the music get loud (the radio was on) as the car door was opened. The motor was revved viciously and the car bolted from our drive way. Flying through all the stop signs in the neighborhood our car vanished from sight. Chris was on the phone with 911 as I foolishly suggested we try and follow the thief in our old beater dodge. We weren’t the best police, or detectives.

Long story short, our car was later recovered that same day abandoned and totaled up a dirt road. Not only were our plans for the day ruined but our peace of mind felt taken from us too. Chris and I didn’t sleep for days. Panic attacks ensued the moment either of us would replay the morning out loud or in our heads. I had nightmares and both of us were afraid of the dark for the first time in our lives. Through it all we were never alone though. God kept us safe that morning, and we learned the ever recurring lesson that possessions mean nothing in this life. I was safe and so was my husband that’s all that mattered.

Within minutes of it happening we contacted our closest circle of family, church family and friends. And we know so many of them prayed us through it. God would bring glory to His name in this mess, this was not a surprise to Him, He knew it would happen to us, and there was a purpose for it. In the hour right after it happened all we could do was wait at our home in the still darkness of the morning waiting to hear something from the police. So I sat down on the couch still shaking and heart racing and read the Bible out loud to Chris. There was nothing we could do, it was out of our control. So we read, and we waited some more. Waited to hear that the person had gotten into a wreck, and potentially hurt or killed someone else in the process. By Gods grace that didn’t happen. That is a miracle.

In the days to follow we had to handle police reports, talks with our insurance, began a search for a new car and before you know it two weeks had passed by. In the midst of it we clung to God and each other. Prayed to God for sleep, and peace, and for forgiving hearts. And we talked, and talked some more to each other, checking in on one another through the days, offering comfort and support. Our need for quality time together was replaced in those days by a need for shelter, which only our God and our marriage could have provided. My safe place to run in trying times like what we faced this month is into the arms of God the Father, and He gives me the gift of physical comfort here on earth through my husband. The last several days we have discussed how badly we both need a good date, which will have to come next week following a Youth group lock-in.

In all this madness and chaos, in the fear and the stress it’s so easy to overlook each other, and forget to meet our spouses needs instead of just surviving. Everyone has reasons to be short with each other, to retreat into ourselves when we are hurt and scared, to forgo the effort when times are challenging. Relationships get in ruts, all shapes and kinds and they are formed in many different ways. Maybe you’re sleep deprived new parents, or perhaps you both work grueling jobs and crazy shifts, or maybe your so broke date night would consist of stealing money from a fountain to go by some spaghetti-o’s.

We are both spent, and tired, and emotionally exhausted but just this morning my sweet, persevering husband shot me an email with a date idea attached. Check this out he says, http://www.missoulaevents.net/11/07/2014/laugh-for-a-change-presents-broke-is-no-joke/.  A free night of laughter, comedy sounds like a splendid idea after these hard weeks. Just like with any other routine in your life, whether it’s reading your bible daily, or exercising, or a hobby, making time for a date each week is so invaluable. Life will get in the way some weeks, for even a few months at a time, but don’t let a season of being stuck in a rut keep you from ever getting back into the game. Get back out there and date your spouse, you really have no legitimate excuse, now do you?

Why am I blogging about Date Nights?

Amy Q.

The answer is simple, yet so profoundly important and real. I have been married to Christopher, my amazing husband for almost 6 ½ years. We are highschool sweethearts living in our hometown of St. Regis, Montana trying to create a life for ourselves, reach our community for Christ, and treat every waking moment like a grand adventure. I want to blog about our dates to inspire others to date their spouses. I want to encourage other young couples who are just starting out that need good role models, just like Christopher and I do. I hope to give you ideas on how to plan a date for your husband or wife, and motivate you to establish a standing date night every week for the rest of time (or at least attempt). I want everyone who reads this to understand that marriage takes effort, commitment, and requires you to be intentional every single day. But O, what fun it can be! When you prioritize your relationship, through quality time together, romantic gestures, sweet surprises, everyday affection, communication, intimacy, and prayer, you will see a difference in your marriage. I know that date nights aren’t the cure all for every relationship trouble, but for the mundane, stuck-in-a-rut, spark is flickering out couple it can help tremendously. So if you’d like to follow along, here are some of the best outings you and your better half could dare to go on from Spokane WA, all the way to central MT. We have a lot of ground to cover, and so many restaurants to eat at, vistas to take in, activities to check of our bucket lists (I’ll cover that in another posting later), roads yet to be traveled, and memories for the making.