Our life is noisy.
Besides the fact that we have three bouncing boys who, God bless their souls, don’t understand the words “inside voices” or “walking feet,” we’re in general just a pretty raucous crew. (Just yesterday, I responded to the high-pitched screams of two boys who were cleaning up their yard toys. In the nude. #boymomproblems)
Some families live in quiet homes where Alexa provides the relaxing background music of their lives; crashing Legos, furniture leap landings and light saber battles provide the background tunes of ours. (Which is exactly why I wake up at 4 a.m. “Quiet hours” are only those when little male humans are not awake.)
But if I’m honest with myself, the sounds of small gorillas — how I love them — leaping through the halls aren’t the loudest noises in our home.
My phone, my Facebook feed and my calendar all scream pretty loudly with demands these days. And sometimes, if I’m just keepin’ it real, their cries sadly drown out the sounds of the superheroes in my life who love and deserve my attention — especially the biggest one.
And sometimes, in order to reset, recalibrate and reprioritize, I just have to totally unplug.
It’s why I took a 15-month hiatus from Facebook. (My boys saw my forehead more often than my eyes.)
It’s why I silence my phone for “family hours” each day. (Because otherwise, this extrovert could easily talk, text or email away the few precious hours I have each day with our family unit as a whole.)
And it’s why Supersoldier and I decided three years ago to get away together by ourselves once a year. (Because we have to live together longer than we have to raise superheroes, and when these three little boys are no longer wrestling in our hallways, we want to still not only love each other, but actually still LIKE one another. And that means we can’t lose touch with one another in these rowdy, rip-roaring, rambunctious child-rearing years we love so much.)
It’s not because we’re awesome at prioritizing family and marriage quiet time. It’s actually because we’ve historically STUNK at it. And after many years of allowing our devices and our schedules and our calendars and the extra-curriculars of our children to ring the most loudly in our ears, we’ve finally recognized, after many failures, the need for silence. And the need for quiet time TOGETHER. To turn off the noise, turn off the distractions and turn our eyes and our ears back on our God and the spouse He, in His goodness, so generously gave us — as more than teammates and co-crazy-parents — if only for a weekend.
That’s why our time at the military marriage conference at The Cove last weekend was such a precious gift.
The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove is a Christian conference and retreat center in Asheville, North Carolina, where attendees can embrace the mountains, hear some of the most prominent speakers and worship leaders of our day and also enjoy the most amazing food we have ever had at a marriage conference (and believe you me, this couple who stopped pretending long ago we had any marriage answers has been to MANY!).
The Cove is this incredible place of respite and rejuvenation with the warmest people and the sweetest staff, and for an entire weekend, Supersoldier and I got to unplug and reconnect as we ran miles of trails at sunrise, hiked to a beautiful chapel, sipped coffee on porch rocking chairs and enjoyed stunning mountain views as we read together, prayed together, talked together and sat in beautiful silence. Together. (We won’t mention the copious amounts of soft serve ice cream we also enjoyed together over root beer. We’re sorry, Cove staff, but we take all-you-can-eat very seriously in this house.)
There were no televisions or computers, no cell phone calls or electronics for the weekend. And I didn’t even realize until we experienced electronic QUIET that our marriage, like most, could use a li’l tune-up.
I love my man fiercely. After 12 years of marriage, his heart (and, let’s be honest, his rockin’ body) still gives me butterflies, and I still count down the minutes each day until he’s home (most days, for the amazingness of the man I married, NOT for his beautiful gift of boy refereeing, although I admit that refereeing is a pretty sexy quality in a husband). :) He is and always will be my forever boyfriend, and that man, even when he forgets to hold my hand, is my most favorite person in the history of the world.
But sometimes in this life, we don’t always HEAR each other clearly. (Not at all because we have little people interrupting us to tattle on one another.) And with all the peripheral noise of our lives, sometimes, our wires get crossed.
This military life is loud. Besides the helicopters that circle our homes (that we’ve all learned to tune out) and the constant echo of artillery in the background of our drives, the schedule (or lack thereof) in this life can be drum-beating deafening. And there is no time in this military life when it’s permissible to just turn the noise off.
Because our country may call at any time.
Because of his job, Supersoldier is always on. He’s ready at a beckon call. And that means that I have to be, too. We can’t just turn off our cell phones, because if our country calls Supersoldier, he has to call me. And I have to immediately call my mama, who can then brace herself to begin chauffeur duty. :)
Our calendar is insane, and not just because of the things this overly-scheduled girl places on it (although I’m admittedly purging our calendar and crying through “no” emails now). There are TDYs and trainings and business trips and overnight exercises on nearly every month of the calendar year no matter where we’ve been located, which has resulted in Supersoldier spending more weeks of the year away than home three of the last five years.
To spend a weekend away, whether at The Cove, another marriage conference or just on a weekend vacation, was to be “off.” To turn the volume of our lives DOWN long enough that we could hold a conversation not about the next business trip or the next PCS move or the next boy activity, but about the relationship that God graciously gave us to represent the future union of Jesus and HIS bride. About how we could best love and serve and “help” each other. About how we could be teammates who didn’t just manage a brood of boys together but actually prioritized the Savior and the marriage that this brood of boys would benefit from.
Just as importantly, a weekend of electronic silence allowed me the time, space and mental clarity to personally BE in the Word and REST in God’s arms, not just glance over it and high-five Him between trips to the commissary.
I needed to turn off the world to tune into the WORD and allow God, in His amazing grace, to give me ears to fine-tune my marriage.
It’s amazing how quickly, when we’re matching our tone as individuals to GOD’S tuner, not to the world’s, the song we play as a COUPLE becomes IMMEDIATELY sweeter. Stronger. More melodious.
On Saturday night, after two days of listening to one of the most amazing speakers whose passion for the Bible lit Supersoldier and me on fire and motivated us to spend more time in ours, we had the privilege of participating in a personal concert by Michael O’Brien, the former lead singer of NewSong, who was also our worship leader for the weekend. (WHA?! Yes, THIS is how highly The Cove thinks of the military. No started-yesterday street performers for us.)
And as Supersoldier and I enjoyed music that did not include a Veggie Tales character, we held hands. We laughed hysterically at the artist’s song about asking his kindergarten love if she liked him. And as we snuggled up together, like real live married people with no stuffed animals between them, we cherished this relationship that, when given a quiet moment and a divine Tuner to match pitch with, had an opportunity to SING.
This is the gift of “getaway.”
And this time at The Cove, it was all completely free.
Thanks to incredibly generous donors, active duty military, Guard and Reserve families can attend up to TWO conferences per year at this incredible facility for ABSOLUTELY FREE. (Military friends, whether you live near Asheville or are stationed across the country — we traveled to this conference — it is BEYOND worth your time to prioritize one of these upcoming conferences! We are counting down the days until we can return!)
To The Cove, speaker Michael Easley (we won’t let the world teach us theology!), worship leader Michael O’Brien and all the incredibly generous donors who made this weekend happen, THANK YOU. The gifts you gave us this weekend have reignited our passion for Jesus, marriage and each other.
Our military marriage song is brighter, louder and more on pitch thanks to you.
Active duty military, National Guard and Reserve can attend up to two conferences at The Cove each year for FREE! Register for the next Military Marriage Conference HERE.