In October of 2000, contemporary Christian singer and songwriter Jeremy Camp married Melissa Lynn Henning, a recovering ovarian cancer patient known for her unwavering faith in God and love of worship. After their honeymoon, doctors informed the newlyweds that the cancer had spread throughout Melissa's body. She passed away just months later in February 2001.
During this period of love and loss, Jeremy's hope in Jesus' faithfulness inspired the hit songs "Walk by Faith" and "I Still Believe," released in 2002. Jeremy gleaned life-changing insights during those precious days he had with his bride, among them the value of making memories — to deliberately hold on to moments that are fragile and fleeting — and the importance of talking about things that truly matter and last for eternity.
Jeremy found love again and married Adrienne Liesching Camp in late 2003. Today, Jeremy's career as a musician keeps him on the road half the year. Adrienne home-schools their three children and participates in a ministry that serves Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Much of the couple's valuable time together — either in person or via smartphones — is spent intentionally maintaining their vibrant relationship of more than 14 years.
Appreciating gifts from God
In part because his days with Melissa were overshadowed by her cancer, Jeremy treasures ordinary days with Adrienne and the kids, transforming simple events into significant memories. "The moments I spend with my family are so special because there are often times when the fear of losing someone hits me," he explains. "You have to take every moment and believe, This is literally a gift from the Lord."
Adrienne recalls her 30th birthday as a significant celebration: "Jeremy made me a little box filled with 30 handwritten notes. He'd written down things he loved about me. He made me read every one of the papers out loud." Jeremy then took Adrienne out for the day, and they did many of her favorite things. She says: "His thoughtfulness and attention to detail made me feel so special. I still think about it and still have the box!"
Other special Camp family moments are more spontaneous. Adrienne reveals that the family didn't intend to create a ritual, but "every time Jeremy comes home, we usually all have a family group hug for a couple of minutes. Even our dog likes to sandwich himself in the middle of it." After years of juggling their home life with Jeremy's travel schedule, Adrienne admits that having Jeremy walk through the door never gets old.
Sharing the details
The couple say his absences and their conflicting schedules force them to be intentional about developing good communication. "Very early on, we realized how easy it is to say you're fine, when in all actuality you're not," Adrienne says. "The deeper question is ‘How is your heart?'"
She strives to be honest with Jeremy about her feelings. This forces the couple to deal with deeper issues, so they don't let things grow between them or start to harbor offenses against each other.
They also like to share the details of their day. Jeremy wants to know how home schooling is going and how the kids' behavior affects Adrienne. She and the kids like to know what happens when Jeremy is on the road and what God is doing through the music and ministry each night. Jeremy explains that their marriage is not based on traveling separate paths. He needs to feel as if Adrienne is a part of the touring. When he's gone, he knows that she and their children support him through prayer; it's their way of saying they're "with him."
Being open about feelings
One time the Camps were eating a meal with friends, and Jeremy told a story about something significant the Lord had done while he was on the road. Afterward, Adrienne asked why he hadn't told her that story before. Jeremy had merely forgotten about it until that moment at the table. But Adrienne felt somewhat left out.
Jeremy was glad Adrienne admitted her feelings, even though it was a small issue. He doesn't want her holding resentment only to discover that she's been hurting. He says sometimes the temptation is for a spouse to think his or her feelings are bothering the other person and so it's best to keep quiet. But that puts the couple "out of balance, like there's a connection that's not a real connection."
Jeremy admits he and Adrienne have not always had good communication. During heated disagreements, one would say hurtful things he or she later regretted, or they would end up arguing about frivolous details. Jeremy would put up emotional walls.
Adrienne agrees: "During times of conflict, Jeremy would want to withdraw to process things we had talked about." Initially she didn't understand his need to go for a walk or take a drive to think. His reaction felt like rejection to her, especially after she had poured out her heart to him and made herself vulnerable. "Our arguments would then escalate," she continues, "because I wouldn't want him to go, and I wanted to sort through our difficulties then and there. We learned that we deal with things differently."
Encouraging each other in the Lord
The Camps believe that mutual encouragement is important to their marriage. Jeremy says, "If she didn't verbally support me or verbally encourage me, then it would be difficult." Jeremy explains that Ephesians 5 tells husbands to love their wives. He says, "I make sure that I'm encouraging her biblically and praying for her."
He appreciates that she never complains that she's at home and he's "out there onstage." Jeremy also wants to love Adrienne by affirming her and what she's doing at home. Adrienne has chosen a role that's out of the spotlight. "Music is not really her thing anymore," Jeremy explains.
Before they married, she was the lead singer of the Christian pop band The Benjamin Gate, but she now enjoys "loving on the refugees." She's there to encourage them and to assist them in adjusting to life in the U.S. by helping them find housing and jobs.
Knowing that each day is a gift from God, the Camps are careful not to let resentment fester. They encourage each other in their respective roles and stay open with each other, especially about each day's joys and frustrations. Adrienne says, "We want to sow things in our marriage today so in 30 or 40 years' time we're still best friends."Marianne Hering is the author of "The Imagination Station" book series and a senior associate editor of Focus on the Family magazine.
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