love me some fire wives!!

Warm and fuzzy in my heart, cool & breezy in my house. God is so, so good. Gabe and I had the most amazing weekend. Just what we needed and perfect in every way. Thank you, Jesus.

A few months ago (I think), my friend Lori asked me if I’d be willing to come speak to the first-ever Flame Fest, a gathering of Firefighter Wives (and their Firefighters, if they could make it) from around the country. Women who have connected online at FirefighterWife.com (a community dedicated to strengthening marriages and encouraging sisterhood) and were now meeting up in person (most of them for the first time).

ffwiveslogo

Um, women who are loving on each other online and helping each other’s marriages grow stronger and now they’re meeting face to face?

YES, PLEASE.

Oh, and it’s in Atlanta, and you want to fly me AND my husband down (and put him to work on video/photography) AND put us up in a nice hotel AND pay us AND I’m only speaking once for an hour and the rest of the time is making new friends, relaxing on the comfiest bed ever and eating at CHUY’S for the first (and second) time??

NO BRAINER.

So Wednesday afternoon, we met Gabe’s mom halfway, and she took our girlies (along with Gabe’s brother’s three kids), and I came home and leisurely packed and prepared. Thursday morning we headed to the airport, hopped on a plane to ATL, and my beautiful online friend, Becca, and her family picked us up. We hung out with them for 90 minutes or so in their living room, then on their front porch (she is EXACTLY like she says she is online, and I love her–and her whole fam), then her husband Adam drove us to the MARTA (train) station, and we headed up to our hotel.

Late lunch at Chuy’s. (I could die.) Evening reception with the Firefighters and their wives. Delightful, relaxing night.

ffwivestruck

Up the next morning for a day of listening and learning and sharing and laughing (including a fun talk from The Dating Divas). Gabe and the guys headed to a shooting range and lunch, and I spoke to the girls about internet friendships and intimacy and marriage. And also about that one time when my husband almost died and firefighters saved his life.

It was emotional and wonderful, and the women were so responsive and encouraging, and they shared prayer requests with me and personal stories, and it was just more than I could have hoped for.

And Saturday evening, they got all fancy and enjoyed a delicious dinner, a great speaker, and some fun, fun, fun.

I so admire and respect these women. They are some of the strongest women I’ve ever met. Holding down the fort when their husbands are gone for 24, 48, 72 hours at a time, washing their toxic clothes, running their homes and being single moms while their husbands get to “have fun” with their buddies at the firehouse, putting up with groupies (women who are obsessed with firemen like some are obsessed with Justin Bieber), facing the very real, very possible danger that their husbands may not ever come home because of the danger of their line of work.

So far in 2013, we have lost 71 firefighters in the line of duty in our country.

Break my heart.

And that short list ^ of struggles doesn’t even touch the surface of all the hard, complex issues firefighter marriages face. While the divorce rate in our country is a whopping 51%, the divorce rate among firefighters? A staggering 75%.

And these amazing women are determined to do everything they can to bring those statistics down, to save marriages, to mentor younger wives, to let them know they’re not alone, that they have a band of sisters behind them, before them, and around them to build them up and give them the courage and strength they need to make their marriage work.

The dynamics of this conference were like nothing I’ve ever seen. Because instead of a regular marriage conference where a typical couple might consist of a wife dragging a hesitant husband along with her, these husbands were thrilled to meet other firefighters AND are thrilled that their wives have such an amazing support group filled with people who get it. Who get the job, the stress, the lifestyle, the sacrifice.

AND the Firefighter Wives allow no husband-bashing, no mean girl trash-talking. It’s all uplifting, all encouraging, all the time. And I don’t mean that they’re fake happy, denying what’s going on in real life. They share honestly with each other, but the goal is always to build up, never to tear down. “This is what’s going on with me and my husband. How can I make it better, make it work?”

Friends, if YOU are married to a firefighter or if you KNOW someone who is, you could give her no greater gift than to point her in the direction of this amazing group. Everyone is included, no one is left out, and it could change her life. 

Gabe and I flew home Saturday afternoon and drove straight to a family reunion. We got home late, had a wonderful time of fellowship and worship at church this morning, now he’s taking a nap, and I’m blogging. And it’s the most gorgeous day in the universe.

So, Firefighter Wives, if you’re reading, THANK YOU. I love you guys, I’m proud of you, and I’ll be praying for continued strength and joy in your marriages. Thanks for letting me be a part of your fabulous weekend. xoxoxoxo!!

23 thoughts on “love me some fire wives!!

  1. Becca

    Love this, love you, and SO glad we got to hang out for a little bit 🙂 I was thinking about you and hoping your talk went so so well – glad to hear it did! love ya!

  2. Sharon

    Marla,

    A friend today just told me that her husband is contemplating a job change. The new job he is hoping to get? Being a fireman! I told her that when/if the time came that he became one, I had just the group for her to join up with. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Lyn Backlund aka CakeGirl

    Hey Marla!!! I had so much fun chatting with you! I was so comfy with you! LOL! I forgot you weren’t a fire wife for awhile! ;)! Must be the sister in CHrist thing instead! My husband had a great time with Gabe too! He loved hearing that Gabe went back to thank the Fire fighters. No one does that, he said. aye one he whole time he has worked at his department. it means so much, I am sure, to those ff’s. ALSO, Thank you so very much for praying for us!!! I can’ tell you what happened here, but we had a huge road block in our journey, be full on moved by God, that was for sure n my pray list to you. like the next ay. So. Uh maz ing. ANywho, I shared this on my bloog’s page! I hope you don’t mind! I also really really want to get some of those bracelets you mae and thoe tonite magnets. my brain went out the window and I forgot!
    This is part of what I said about you, “I can’t tell you how amazing Marla Taviano was. How much I could relate to her story… SO many times have we, on faith alone, built our businesses, invested in people even though we had no gas money, or food money. Go on a trip to serve a couple in need. maybe who so desperately needed something, even as simple as a dream of hope, believing on GOd for our next gas fill, or meal, or place to stay, even though we had negative signs in our checking account, and were borrowing money forever from our kids’ piggy banks, we are here because of it. Eating ramen noodles fro the 5th time that week. “… I wanted yo to know how much your story struck me. HUGE hugs. WE have so ben there. still are. WE didn’t know how we were even going to Flamefest till about five minutes till we were leaving. OY VEY!! LE SIGH! Thank you again!!! Can’t wait to see the pictures and get the email so I can read the book!!
    YAY!!! GOD BLESS YOU GUYS!

    1. Marla Taviano

      I love you, Lyn!! Thanks so much for your sweet, kind words. I know Gabe enjoyed talking to Micah too, and I’m praying for your family. I know it’s not easy, where you’re at right now, but God is building character in the two of you that you’re gonna need when his BIG plans kick in. I’ll send you an early link to the other e-books. 😉 xoxoxoxoxo!!!

  4. Lisa Green

    Thank you for your heartfelt article – it made me smile. I am the proud wife of a firefighter/paramedic and a proud member of the FirefighterWife.com sisterhood. I was unable to attend Flame Fest yet felt I was there. My sisters sent text messages, pictures, and videos ensuring no one was left behind.
    In this amazing group we draw strength from one another (especially on shift day when it seems if something can go wrong, it will). Thank you so much for honoring us…in doing so you are honoring the fire service.

    1. Marla Taviano

      You are so welcome, Lisa. Thank YOU. And I can testify to the fact that those girls at Flame Fest were so, so, so determined to include ALL of you who couldn’t make it in just about every detail of the weekend. You mean the world to them. Next year will be AMAZING!! (I might have to sneak in someone’s suitcase somehow!)

  5. Stacey Wells

    I love me some Marla Taviano! You are simply amazing!! Thank you for sharing your very personal story with us & your words of wisdom. I walked away feeling inspired & geared up to face the next challenge in our path. Your offer to pray for the fire wives & their specific situations means so much. Thank you for being wonderful, incredible you!

  6. trina

    Thanks so much for joining us! It was great to have you, even if Laura and I are bit too goofy for most of the world to handle, you did great with us. Thank you, again! <3

    1. Marla Taviano

      Believe it or not, you and Laura aren’t the craziest people I’ve ever met (close though!). You’re actually just my style. So glad the two of you got to have such a fun get-away together!! xoxoxoxo!!

  7. Rhonda Samples

    Thank you for coming and speaking at Flame Fest – I’m glad you took Lori up on her offer! 🙂 I loved your stories, but most of all I love your heart!!

  8. Michele

    Thanks so much for coming to Flame Fest! I really enjoyed hearing you speak. BTW-that great speaker Friday night was Hal Runkel author of ScreamFree Marriage.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Thanks, Michele! I totally meant to link to Hal’s website!! I just fixed it. I love his message. I’m hoping to read his book(s) soon and write a post about them. xoxoxo

      1. Michele

        Thanks Marla! When you write the post can you let me know. Would love to share it with everyone. I was telling my husband your story last night about what you went through with Gabe. You guys are such a great testimony of trusting God and strong faith!

  9. Cynthia

    Marla, this is such an honoring blog post. Thank you for your kind words and thank you more for coming to Flame Fest. I feel incredibly blessed to have met you there and gotten the chance to talk. I wish there had been more talking time, but it seemed the weekend just wasn’t long enough.

    It’s funny to read what you thought of us though. It all seems normal to me. But as you spoke about what happened to Gabe, I broke out in goosebumps and felt sick at the thought of going through that with Tradd. I was amazed with the two of you! Haha! I guess it’s all perspective.

    While I sat reading your book in bed last night, I couldn’t help laughing again at my girls’ being grossed out. Someday they’ll understand and appreciate the loving example we give them.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I told my girls all about your girls and that they thought my book was gross but that they liked the nice lady with the camera. 🙂 Looking forward to chatting more and hooking our girls up!

  10. Hannah

    That sounds like such a great time! And a great community! Praise God!
    I didn’t realise your firefighters do so much – that they are paramedics as well as firefighters. Here in Oz, that role is split into two very different professions.
    On a similar topic: we watched that movie ‘Fireproof’ before we got married – such a great movie!

  11. Heather Isaacs

    Thank you so much for coming to Flame Fest. You were an incredible speaker and your faith was inspiring. And also, a HUGE thank you for asking us to give you prayer requests.

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