Last year, my husband and I went up to Oregon to visit his side of the family. While we were there, we had the opportunity to go on a marriage getaway for a few nights while the kids stayed with cousins and grandparents. It is one of the things that we are trying to do regularly in this season of parenthood even though it's a lot of work getting the kids covered while we're gone. While we were on our retreat, we were able to re-connect with a friend I hadn't seen for ages. We had reconnected through Facebook and the Lord provided a way for us to get together with Heidi St. John and her husband, Jay. Their oldest daughter, Savannah, was one of my preschool students for two years. I have appreciated their enthusiastic support and friendship when I have ventured out into starting a school of my own. That really meant a lot to me to have someone support me when I wasn't quite sure I believed in myself.
Since then, Heidi and her family began homeschooling, something that we eventually would start doing for our own family. Recently, she wrote The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance (Real Life Press, 2010), and when we got together, she graciously gave me a copy. When we got back to our retreat house, I read it cover to cover (pretty much). It was like talking with Heidi herself...funny, yet full of gems of wisdom.
As I was reading it, I thought that this would be a great book to go through with the moms at home. Even though most of the moms I know do not homeschool, I believe that her message is true for any mom. The principles she shares apply regardless of whether you homeschool or not. Because they are timeless, yet shared in an honest and humorous way, they really hit home for me. I think that was what kept me engaged in the book---sometimes books can be funny but fluffy in content or very meaty in content but dry as toast. Heidi has the right combination.
Heidi shares about being "That Girl," the one that your husband married, the one that got hidden when the first round of diapers hit. I appreciate her exhortation to look to the Lord alone, not our husbands, for all that we want and need. She covers a variety of topics, including learning to make white space in our lives, making our marriages a priority, body image, and yes, sex. Each of these, along with other topics as well, are illustrated with stories from her own experience and ministry. Much of her message resonated with me, perhaps because I have shared similar messages myself, but mostly because I have found her words to be true in my own life.
I think the one chapter that really challenged me is chapter 7, entitled "Parallel Lives: Partnering on Purpose." It hit me because at that time in our marriage, this was probably what was happening. It wasn't like anything was really bad in our marriage. It was that we were so busy with life---the kids, ministry and for me, homeschooling---that we were more like roommates than soul mates. It wasn't always like that, but as the years passed, I realized that was where we were headed.
The Lord used Heidi to convict us that this is not the way we want to live. This is not the marriage we want our kids to see. Over the last few months, the Lord has been slowly challenging my husband and I to begin thinking about where we want to go together. Right now, we are embarking on our biggest adventure yet. My prayer is that it will be one of God's ways of further cementing us as a couple as we delve into this new step of faith.
I believe God brings couples together to form new families, not just to have babies, but for a specific purpose. Dan and I are in that season of our marriage where we are discovering that the Lord has a lot in store for our marriage as well as our family, if we will only make that a priority. We're not "there" yet, but we are learning to make time for the things that will help build our unity so that when our kids are grown up, we are not strangers but stronger friends than ever.
I was especially touched by Heidi's last story about her grandparents' marriage. It gave me a vision of what I would like to see in my own marriage when our days come to an end. To be able to walk through all the trials and joys of life together and still be firmly committed to each other is not something that happens by chance, but something that is developed and grown through time and commitment.
I usually don't personally know the authors of the books that I read, but in this case, I do, and I can say that Heidi and Jay are the real deal. I only hope that the word "Homeschool" in the title doesn't keep you from getting your hands on this book. So many would miss out on the solid teaching and wisdom otherwise. Thanks, Heidi, for sharing your heart. I pray that the Lord uses you mightily in the days to come.