Balloon Ride to Rome (Love at Every Altitude)

Dear Lindsey,

I am just arriving home from Rome, Italy!  Ah, the beautiful country and people I miss!

Honestly, it could have been a trip to the basement of our first apartment in Hartland, MI, and it would have been almost as good, because I had Chris. No phone to pull him in one direction or children to pull me in the other.

The way it came about was really by accident. Chris was planning to meet in Rome with someone, regarding some future ventures, when the following conversation occurred between us:

Him:  “I think I am going to need you to go to Rome.”

Me: “Alright, well I will start working on a babysitter.”

Him: “You would go with me?! That would be awesome!! I was dreading the trip, hating the time away from you guys, but if you go, it would be so much better!”

Me: “I thought you said you ‘I think I am going to need you to go to Rome.’”

Him: “That’s ok if that’s how you heard it, it was meant to be. What I had said was, ‘I think I am going to need to go to Rome.’”

The misunderstanding led to an un-misunderstandable display of emotions: his.  He was SO excited at the thought of me coming along- how could I disappoint?

I know what you are thinking: who would not want to go to Rome? Why would this be a question?

A little insight into me, and you would see that I am frugal, and Rome is not. I am frugal with time away from my children, and business trips with my husband have many options.  I have been to Rome several times in the last few years, and although I love Italy, I am a country girl, and Rome is indeed a city.  I could go on listing the hundreds of logistical reasons I needed to stay home: the home school that was on pace, the diet and exercise just getting back into a routine, the Good Friday service for which I have been practicing with the choir, the garden to put in, the tasks that always seem behind in my life, the fact that we will be going to Italy as a family in a couple months anyway, needing to book a trip to see my folks in CO, etc.

But there was one reason to go: the excitement that was on my husband’s face at the thought of it.

Sometimes, I come upon a woman who feels it is her lifetime job to be the string and weight attached to her husband’s balloon, to keep him down to earth where he belongs.  Maybe she’s not even a string and weight, but a wet cloth, lying on top, between the man and his dreams, to make sure there is no heat that gets through.  Quite honestly, the thought runs through my head every time, “That could have been me!”

When Chris first came to me – while we were in engineering school- with the thought of racing Baja trucks across the desert, I put down the idea, with the biggest balloon tugging I could muster. Not married, or engaged for that matter, we had received a wonderful gift from God: good timing of a deep conversation.

“So you like me if I am a good-little-engineering student who wants a 9-to-5 job at a manufacturing company, but you would have issues if I wanted to do something a little off your defined beaten path?” he asked.

“No…” I had to deny the accusation, because of course I knew that kind of conditional love was wrong, but I really didn’t have any other reason for telling him that the Baja sounded like a waste of time…and dangerous too! Deep down, I was dangerously close to loving the prideful answer I could give when describing the man I was dating: “an engineer.” A Baja driver? not so much.

I look back now and see a young couple beginning to get to know each other. I saw God laying out the stepping-stones of what would be- riding in a balloon in the ups and downs of life –often his balloon soaring high and me trying to catch him.

The Baja dream was only the beginning of my big dreamer’s crazy dreams unfolding. During our engagement, he told me of his desire to be a published author, as he loves to write.  I was thrilled that he felt comfortable enough to reveal his real dreams, despite my prior Baja put-downs;  I prayed I would not apply the dreaded damp cloth. One year after marriage, he announced (after hiding it from me for four months!- probably aware of my damp-cloth tendency) that he had heard about a new business venture with a guy named Orrin Woodward, and he thought it was his way to get free from a job.  I felt my grip of the balloon string loosening, because I finally didn’t desire to yank it down, but watched to see where it would go.

His dreams continued to fuel his balloon, which seemed to have some valuable hot air 🙂 as it soared to get free from his engineering job (and me from mine, too), write his first eight books, own a second home in Florida, vacation for a month at a time in Italy, and the “crazy dream” list could go on. But by the grace of God, I stopped trying to pull down on the string in those first months when the income from that new business was $32.  It was then that I really wasn’t sure if God had created him to be a high-flyer, but I did know that God had not created me to be his ballast weight.

Fast-forward to now and his recent excitement over my going along on the trip to Rome. There was so much more to this.  It wasn’t that he just didn’t want me pulling down his string, but that he wanted me to ride alongside. I don’t know if my analogy would have us in the basket of a hot-air balloon together, or flying balloons side by side, but regardless, I am thrilled to be the one with whom he chooses to fly. Our balloon ride has had lows of collapsed restaurant ownerships and serious illnesses, wrecked cars and bug-infested basement apartments, but I am so grateful that we were riding together, at all of the altitudes.  Sometimes the highest-flying days were simple picnics watching a sunset, mountain biking in the neighborhood or a paddle ball game in the park, as a break from our intense studying.

Girlfriend, if I had any advice for myself of 20 years ago, it would be: Dear Terri, When you’ve been given a man who wants to fly, encourage him to fly to the highest potential for which God created him; resist any urge to pull him down.

If I had thoughts to share with a sister presently in the midst of demands of motherhood, it would be:  sometimes the damp cloth needs to be applied to the tasks that wait at home (and will still be waiting upon return), because when your husband asks, “Would you ride in the balloon with me?” it’s time to climb into the basket and soar. Whether you go to a park, the basement apartment, or Rome, Italy, soaring in a beautiful balloon together just might result in a soaring, beautiful marriage.

God bless,

23 thoughts on “Balloon Ride to Rome (Love at Every Altitude)

  1. Thank you, Terri, for this post…I love reading your words of wisdom. I don’t want to be a damp cloth to my husband’s dreams! We both have big goals and dreams and thankfully we are both working together as a team to achieve them ;0).

  2. Terri,
    Tears are flooding from my eyes! You are such an eloquent writer and you always seem to capture the true desires in every woman’s heart! Thank you for the reminder that I too want to take air balloon rides with my spouse!
    Sharon Hoffman

  3. Dearest Terri, Your timing is impeccable and the message has been heard loud and clear. I pray that I am able to utilize my hot air to keep my wet rag, dry, each and everyday. The good lord has brought to my attention, how I walk around singing “Don’t Rain on My Parade”, and yet it had not occurred to me until now, to turn it around and apply these words to the Love of my Life. I thoroughly enjoy and am enlightened by each of your heartfelt “Letters to Lindsey”.
    God Bless, Annie B. Hardiman

  4. Thank you so much Terri for re-inspiring us again! Even though my husband and I have been married almost 30 years, it is good to be reminded that my he has been given a great calling and I that I need to remeber to be an encourager instead of a discourager. It’s been a crazy ride, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Blessings to you and yours.

  5. Thank you for giving us a look into what a perfect marriage looks like!!! LOVED your CD, “Cherish Your Marriage”!!! Thank you for all you & Chris, and the rest of the Team/Life Leadership, do for us out in the field!!! You are amazing!!!

  6. Such wise words (as always!). I wish I knew what my husband’s balloon was so I could soar with him. I feel like the damp cloth who gets stuck with all the responsibilities but am working on that!

    Thanks for your inspirational thoughts and stories!!!!

  7. Dear Terri, Yes God definitely has impeccable timing and thank you for sitting down to write these thoughts out. I think I’ve been throwing wet wash clothes on everything around me lately! I am glad to hear you are back safe from Italy and hope you enjoyed meeting Guy and Sandra. Your messages are always inspiring and I anticipate your book someday….thank you again, I really needed a shift in thinking!

    Lynda Varada <'

  8. Terri-
    Thank you so much for this one. You seem to parallel many areas in my life, I am certainly not comparing myself to you, nor do I wish to see resemblances that show me, “I am just like Terri” as I never will be. I am just amazed that so many of your thoughts, your life experiences and patterns of thought are similar. God’s kiss to me….comically even down to living in Howell, Michigan for a bit.
    Getting to the point….I too have a relationship such as this. I am in love with a dreamer. I am the “practical one” that is still fun loving. I don’t like camera’s on me, but love to take pictures of the beauty around me. I love adventure, but by nature would lead to a “guide” initially over his irritation with being led like cattle through the “tourist” spots. He is all dream, no “what if”. He has been sharing his dreams, BIG DREAMS, Dreams that would put most people in a lovely white jacket that buckles in the back, for a long time. At one point the dreams scared me as I realized he was serious. You see, the business we share has been a perfect fit for him in many ways and slowly over time it has been revealed to be the same for me. He will see his dreams come true, I have no doubt anymore. I have learned to dream as well, finally finding my own…similar to Chris’s but uniquiely Heather’s (my name). I have been the wet rag. I have tugged on the string. However, with God’s insight and an incredible collection of people and guidance to draw from (the “little” community we share), I have learned to loosen my grip, learn to tie on a basket, step in and enjoy the new heights I would have NEVER experienced left to an unfinished self. I am taking in the whole ride. I don’t wish the trip to be over or wish away the experiences yet to be explored while looking forward to one day sharing a trip with you. Whatever the journey, I am grateful. I am grateful for you and so appreciate the gift you have decided to share in your writing. B well dear Terri and continue to share your personal adventures. We are with you in spirit.

    • Thanks for your encouragement, friend. C.S. Lewis says that friends are made the moment one says to another, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one!”
      It’s funny about you living in Howell, MI, because I never lived there! Ha! Funny, but when I read your comment, I thought, “I said I lived in Howell?” That was the first time I noticed I typed it wrong. We lived NEAR Howell, in Hartland – which I will have to edit now.

      Thank you for spreading your uplifting seeds!
      God bless,

  9. Thank you Terri for your story. I’m new to the business and my wife has not fully involved but has given me the freedom and trust to build it. I will be working as hard as I can so that I can have her riding in that balloon with me.

  10. Thanks Terri! Perfect timing for this reminder 🙂 I sure hope when we get as far along in our life/marriage that my husband will still be as excited about setting sail with me by his side as Chris is about you joining him in Italy. 🙂 Beautiful story!

  11. Terri, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy days of serving to share from your heart the lessons that God is teaching you. Your insight and wisdom is so wonderful. As I read this letter, I couldn’t help thinking of my own dreamer and praying that I might allow him to soar and not be his ballast weight. It brought me to tears with my own dreams of our future together and thinking about where we will be in the next ten years utilizing the business that you and Chris work so hard to improve for all of us. Thank you so much for your friendship and service to others. You are always such a light and I miss seeing you. I can’t wait to see you in Columbus in April. Love you and miss you all.

  12. My husband left this blog open and God led me to the computer today. I was wavering on going to the Major in April and leaving my 2 young kids and newborn whom I am breastfeeding behind for 3 days. After reading this I decided to “fly” next to my husband and go to the Major with him!!! Thanks for your blog!!! Alison Ruhlman

  13. I always appreciate your openness to sharing. Loved how when you thought your husband needed you you were ready to drop everything that you had going on to complete his needs. That is a trait I am so desperately trying to learn. Thanks for sharing. I always look forward to your stories. I am glad you guys had fun in Rome.

  14. Terri thank you! I have always been cautious, conservative, damp cloth if you will, while my husband is my complete opposite and I love that about him. God has been breaking those comfort zones down, allowing me to see that I need to let him fly, enjoy life and be glad he wants me to be with him. We just had the chance to see Fully Alive -Ken Davis I highly recommend it. Funny but just another reminder God placed in my path to enjoy life and live!!! Thanks so much for taking the time to write and touch lives!! Your a blessing to me.

  15. Another analogy came to mind, because personalities can differ, and sometimes the wife is cramming her husband in the basket and trying to get the balloon off the ground with her own hot air. The balloon stays deflated, much like his spirit.
    Her encouraging words are the “burner” that heats the air that fills the balloon.

    I had zero example growing up of a wife speaking encouraging words to her husband. I didn’t realize it until I tried to speak it myself, and I might as well have been asked to speak in Chinese, or Martian! Luckily, there are resources I’ve found to help me learn the language of encouraging words. My best source is the example of women who do it, and the next best is from books. I frequent your blog because you uplift me by showing me a proper example of being a wife and mother. Thanks for all you do, and the time you put in to share with us.

    • Julie, I LOVE your analogy of our words being the hot air that lifts our husbands’ balloons:)!! And cold words would deflate it and make him sink. Thanks for sharing…and reading!
      God bless,

  16. Can’t realize how this hits close to home since I’m actually a real life hot air balloon pilot trying to let go of some ballast that is keeping me down… Still looking for the one willing to fly with me!

  17. Wonderful story of a very wise woman who knows how to stand by her man and is thankful for having an extraordinary man who wants to fly

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