“If we commit ourselves to one person for life, this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather, it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation.” Madeleine L’Engle
Who is that over there? I was working as a camp nurse at a Young Life camp in Colorado. I was twenty-one-years-old with the world at my feet, my whole life ahead of me—my college life behind me. Who is that guy? I know I just saw him in the crowd of the newly assigned team for the month of July. Where did he go? I strained my neck to see better. There he is. What is it about him? Red hair. Friendly brown eyes. Great smile.
Thus, the infatuation began, friends. Erin Kelly Hale had arrived in my life. I would never be the same. He was part of the Program Team, the folks assigned to camp to bring laughter and joy to the kids’ lives while at camp. I came to learn that Erin Kelly Hale is one of the funniest and most talented people on the planet. Quickly, I was drawn to his compassionate heart and his sensitivity—he was tuned in to how others were feeling and would cry right along with them. I’m not looking for this right now, Lord. If God cussed, I’m pretty sure He would have said, “That’s too damn bad, Adge. This is who I’ve picked for you and I cannot wait for you two to figure that out.”
When I recall our first date, the details are actually not fuzzy at all. I casually asked Erin out…more like, “Hey, um, want to hang out on my day off?” We got Chinese take-out and took our Crazy Creek chairs (and our hormonal selves) to this gorgeous wilderness area in Pagosa Springs. I remember laughing and talking easily—in awe of the beauty around me and who I had beside me. I was completely falling for this guy. It felt completely right and overwhelmingly exciting. Driving back to camp, we experienced something I didn’t know was possible. A massive rainbow was ahead of us on the dirt road and we actually went through it: The rainbow didn’t keep moving ahead of us…it was planted like a tree in the middle of the road and I remember looking at Erin completely bewildered. We began laughing and shrieking, “Did that really just happen?” If a rainbow is a symbol of a promise from God, we were quite literally entering into His promises for us…for us together. I love how I felt for Erin in the first few weeks of knowing each other, more than anything, I loved the giddiness and expectation. The freaking excitement I’d feel when I’d see him come around the corner and our eyes would meet. I was all in, and I felt “all in” every moment of the day. I don’t want this to change. Ever…
Last winter, Erin spent about six weeks in Idaho guiding fishing trips then came home at the end of February for ten days. The ten days started with the arrival of our amazing surprise puppy, Bridger, who woke us up several nights in a row with whines and needs to go out for explosive diarrhea. Awesome. Rarely do I ever get sick, but the flu hit me so hard that I was in bed for three straight days. Erin worked and I did a few night shifts. Ten days together seemed like none. We had an argument or two, gave hugs, said “I love you,” and then he was off again on another trip, this time overseas. It was a tumultuous ten days to say the least. Not how I wanted them to be since I had missed him like crazy when he was gone for the six weeks.
I have learned over the years to be prepared for this season of being apart while he does his destination guiding trips. All in all, I do just fine. Honestly, I do feel like a single mom at times, making sure the kids are doing great and the house stays in order. Desiring for life to run smoothly while he is gone so no extra stress is on him, or me for that matter. Though I do know he is working every day he is gone, I find myself a bit jealous. His work just sounds like fun with days full of fly-fishing, adventure, travel, and storytelling. A few nights before Erin returned home, I heard God whisper to me a very simple request, “You need to make Erin your priority.” I sat and thought about that over a few emotions, like confusion, and even frustration. I had quite a few replies, many of which were really just defensive questions. I built a case for myself quickly... I feel like I already do that? I care for our kids while he is gone for so long. I even took them skiing, solo! I keep the house running, make sure bills are paid. I work 2-3 night shifts a week. Now I’m caring for our new dog who poops every ten minutes between the hours of 1 am to 6 am. I submit documents, mail letters and packages for Erin’s business when he is gone to help him out. I don’t get why you are telling me this. Are you sure you’re not meaning to say to Erin, “You need to make Adge your priority?” Silence. A long one. Then, that clear voice whispered in my heart again, “You need to make Erin your priority.” What the heck does this mean? What else can I possibly do to live this out? I think I’m a pretty amazing wife?!
It turns out that there is a great deal I can do to make Erin feel like a priority. I can choose to say no to distractions after the kids are put to bed. It's so easy and comfortable to tune out and look at my iPhone or tune into Netflix. Making my husband a priority is choosing to engage with him. Maybe I sit on the kitchen floor and ask him how his day was... Ask him how he's feeling about life? How is he really doing? What is he excited about right now? I can choose to pursue intimacy with him rather than let my fatigue from the day control my actions. Loving Erin isn’t just about serving him by doing tasks…it’s about turning my heart, mind, soul and body towards the man God gave me to love. Prioritizing Erin is a choice I can make each day that allows my heart to pursue his heart in the way he needs it most. A relationship is living and active. Why do I treat it as something that I can pay attention to once in awhile? Why do I allow my marriage to passively float along in our lives?
My husband has the most incredible heart I’ve ever known and it’s a deep, deep sea. I love that water, rivers, oceans are so sacred to Erin. It reminds me that one of the greatest adventures of my life is to search out every area I can of Erin’s vast and enormous heart—to voyage in the deep water. I have always loved this verse and it has become my heart’s answer to God’s request of making Erin a priority: Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me -Psalm 42:7. More often than not in our relationship, I’ve been lazy and stayed in the shallows. Erin deserves more from me than that. I’m convinced that listening to that request from the Lord has shifted the trajectory of my marriage. We have been married for almost 14 years and I feel as if a magical renewal has taken place. There is a tenderness and a closeness present now that I didn’t realize was missing. A few new anchors have been set in those sweet places in marriage that makes you feel more steady.
God is always surprising me with how good He is at knowing what to say and when to say it. His simple request that He spoke to me months ago made me examine what is important to me. Erin is so important to me and I want Erin to know that. Erin started his own fly-fishing outfitter from the ground up, running after a dream that brings life to him and to the kids and I. He works incredibly hard to provide for our family, spending countless days in horrific weather and cold temperatures so our family can have food on the table. He breaks his body for us, subjecting his hands and feet to freezing rivers, standing for 12 hours straight to give his clients the best day on the water. He spends countless lonely hours driving on the road before dawn and after dusk. And that’s nothing compared to how well he loves our kids. I love hearing the laughter that comes out of my kids when Erin is tickling them or chasing them in the house like a roaring bear, “Wheeerrre’s mmmmyyyy kiddddsss? ROAR!” He speaks their language with play, with imagination. He sees them, listens to them. Erin makes me feel beautiful, he makes me feel set apart. He makes me out to be so much cooler than I really am with the way he says, “I can’t wait for you to be around them. I told them how amazing my wife is.” Erin is constantly speaking the best of me and building me up to people that we do know and to people that we don’t know. He invites me to dream and then lifts me up so I can grab hold of them.
When I’m so focused on “ME,” I completely lack gratitude. When is the last time I told Erin that I’m so thankful for him? With tears rolling down my face, I know this piece of writing was God’s way of inviting me to have clearer eyes to see Erin as He does. I could go on and on but the bottom line is that had I not listened to God whispering that request to my heart, I would be the one missing out. Completely missing out. I think our marriage would have been fine, but I don’t want “fine” to be our descriptor. That’s settling! I would not know Erin like I do right now and I certainly would not be who I am today. I can’t imagine life without the joy and the laughter—I mean what other couple do you know that makes recordings of themselves lip-syncing to rap songs in front of their kids and then sends the video to twenty friends? I can’t imagine missing the moments when we look at each other and stop what we are doing and just smile. Erin says he sees a new confidence in me. That confidence has come from knowing I am deeply loved by God, and that knowledge has come through loving Erin with intention and Erin loving me right back. Looking at my first few reactions to God’s request, I feel embarrassed by my reaction of, “But what about me? What are you doing FOR me by asking this OF me?”
Today, I see that God has been so steady, so incredibly kind to me, so creative and purposeful in His constant pursuance of me. God’s instruction in my life is one way He shows me how much He loves me. I hear him saying, “Adge, what about you? Just wait. Be excited, not hesitant. Erin is going to teach you about love and He is who I’ve chosen to love you in this life like I do.” Years ago, a wonderful person took the time to pray over Erin and I—she prayed that we would be a spearhead. What she prayed for us was written on a piece of notebook paper in bright Kelly-green ink. I have stared at that paper every couple of months wondering what “spearhead” means. I now know.
There is a realization, even a profound revelation, that’s firmly anchored in my heart now. It is quite simple really. I want you to come in close when you read this… When God asks us to make something a priority, it’s an invitation to a blessing, to an epic adventure, to healing we didn’t know we needed, to a greater love. Not to another task to be completed. Not something to drain us or exhaust us. Not to be one more thing to tackle on a to-do list. God doesn’t get it wrong, Sister. God cares more about our hearts and relationships than we ever could. When God gave me the invitation to make Erin a priority and I obeyed, love started increasing between us.
Through Erin, God has been loving my heart so beautifully. I found myself re-learning the simple truth that I can trust God. He’s not going to trick me. God knows what is best for me. I invite you to ask Him if there is a relationship that He wants you to take a closer look at. A relationship He is wanting you to engage in more deeply? Pursue even more? Travel to the deep waters in? If He has one in mind, He will let you know! God is always after the best for us. One of my favorite quotes is from Oswald Chambers, “The good is always the enemy of the best.” I don’t want to settle. I don’t want you to either. Voyage on and trust the One who’s calling you to more
Colorado Springs, CO
Adge is an adventurer by heart, climbing 14ers (mountains over 14,000 ft high) and simply being in the wilderness refills her cup. She married a man who shares that passion with her, Erin, and together they have three children, Everleigh, Finnley, and Bodie. Adge has a huge heart for women. She works as a labor & delivery nurse, loves one-on-one conversations, and lattes with intricate foam designs!