Tag Archives: relationships

Day 20: Date Night (31 Days of Simple Truths)

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(Obviously, we’re not watching NCIS here. But we’re cute anyway!)

Tuesday nights are probably my favorite night of the week.

My husband and I have been fans of the show NCIS for all of our marriage. He actually introduced me to it on the flight home from our honeymoon—awwww! It’s been our weekly ritual for our entire marriage (except during the summer, the annual State of the Union address, a few random by-weeks, and severe weather tracking—so sad, although we do have a funny story about the weather tracking one. Maybe another time!).

But there was a small wrench in the plan once we had kids who were big enough to not sleep through the whole thing or go to bed at 7pm. It’s not a kid-friendly show.

Separately from that, we were living far from family, he was working crazy hours, finances were strained to the max, and date nights were extremely rare.

So Tuesday nights became our thing. We told the kids that we needed a stay-at-home date night. They would have to go to their beds early, but they could have books, coloring things and a toy or two until we came to tell them “lights out.”

We fiercely protect this time. No, we cannot do anything else on Tuesday nights! And we try to make it special—a bottle of wine, a special dessert, a pint of ice cream, or even a cup of tea. It’s a chance to laugh together, to just be, to not feel the weight of all the hard, life, grown-up things.

And this I know for sure, relationships—any relationship, but especially marriage—take some creativity in order to maintain connection through every hurdle that manages to line up in front of us. It is worth the effort, and it is definitely worth prioritizing.

What relationship needs a little creativity from you these days?

As a weird sort of P.S.: Over the past few weeks of this NCIS season, I’ve noticed that the vast majority of the commercials during the show are aimed at senior citizens. What does this say about Jonathan and me? Are we watching an old people show? Are we old? No one told me! Oh well! We love Gibbs!

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Day 19: Kitchen Therapy (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Food Network's image of the cookies we made. I forgot to flatten mine slightly, but they still came out good, just probably a little more chewy.

Food Network’s image of the cookies we made. I forgot to flatten mine slightly, but they still came out good, just probably a little more chewy.

In spite of my best efforts to slow down and take my time, most days I feel like I end up in a hurry. It’s a race against time to squeeze in all the things that need to be done. I tend to be a more task-oriented person. I used to be feel guilty about this, but that fades more and more all the time, mainly because the world would never get anything done without people like me in it!

Still, especially when it comes to my family, I have to be very intentional about slowing down and letting the moments of connection take higher priority over the to do list. And one of the things that helps me make that happen is cooking.

If I’m in the kitchen, inevitably one or both of the kids want to come help. Or even if they don’t want to help, they tend to gravitate into the room anyway, a coloring book or toy in hand. They’ll sit on the floor and chatter away to me while I do my best to not trip on them or spill anything on them. I love it.

On top of that, cooking forces me to slow down. There are so many things in the kitchen that simply won’t turn out right if you try to rush them. Things like kneading bread or even making mayonnaise (SO easy! Who knew?) become holy moments as I take a deep breath and let go of all the other things begging for my attention to simply focus on the task in front of me.

And whatever’s happening, whoever is gathered, you can be sure there are taste testers always at the ready. So we linger, munching bread or cookies fresh from the oven, getting a spoon to dip into that sauce, sniffing the spices to see what else we should add. It is sacred and nourishing, not only to our bodies, but to our souls as well.

We made these cookies tonight (again!) and this time added 1/4 t. of ground cloves as well. Perfection!

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Day 8: Listening to Understand (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Death to Stock/Foster & Asher

Death to Stock/Foster & Asher

There is listening to understand and listening to defend.

If I am listening to understand, then I will hear the entirety of what you have to say without cutting you off to interject my own opinions.

If I am listening to understand, I will not be dismissive of your reality, even though I may have had a different experience.

If I am listening to understand, I will not automatically counter your thoughts with all the reasons you are wrong.

If I am listening to understand, I will not make assumptions about your heart, character, or personal convictions; instead, I will lovingly seek clarity where it’s needed.

If I am listening to understand, I will respond with thoughtful questions that show my desire to draw out the essence of what matters to you.

If I am listening to understand, I will take time to ponder what you have to say instead of promptly brushing it aside and moving on.

It’s not easy to listen this way, especially if you are challenging me, convicting me, or calling me into territory I am unfamiliar with or uncertain of. It’s not even a little bit easy.

But it’s necessary if I want to establish trust with you and if I want to walk alongside you. It’s necessary if I want to value your heart. It’s necessary if we ever hope to make a positive difference in this world.31daysOfSimpleTruths

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The Act of Choosing Every Day

We have spent the last few days celebrating seven years of marriage. Seven! We enjoyed a much needed, relaxing, kid-free weekend (hallelujah!), and then yesterday–the official day–we let the kids in on the fun of celebrating with us.

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Anniversaries of any kind invite so much reflection, and this has been no exception. My heart is full as I realize the strength and gift of what we have. I would by no means claim to be an expert, but I think I have realized one very important truth for building a healthy marriage: you have the opportunity every single day to choose each other all over again, to turn towards each other even when you’d rather turn away.

I always wondered how people could say they had just drifted apart. How does that happen? How do years go by and suddenly there is nothing where there was once a loving relationship? And I think it has something to do with this choosing.

Our responses and interactions with each other in the flurry of ordinary, every day living either add a brick towards forming a wall between us or they bring us a step closer into deeper connection with each other. It is not enough to choose each other as a spouse and have a pretty ceremony and say our vows. We have to go on choosing each other every single day.

When I don’t take him granted and I express my appreciation for all the little ways he helps carry the load, I am choosing him.

When he hurts or disappoints me and rather than attacking him, I express myself with humility and grace, I am choosing him.

When I hurt or disappoint him and I swallow my pride to say I’m sorry and make it right, I am choosing him.

When I recognize he is weary and stressed and I say, “Hey, why don’t you go for a run?,” I am choosing him.

Again and again, countless ways, I can move closer to his heart or I can step away.

We haven’t always gotten this right. There have been seasons when poor communication or overwhelming circumstances were allowed to build a wall between us, and it was tremendous work to tear that thing down. And I can see how something like that could grow insurmountable to where it seems completely hopeless. Those chasms can get harder and harder to cross.

But in the opposite vein, even when vulnerability and humility seemed the painful option, I have never ever regretted choosing that path. It becomes easier to choose that step now rather than deal with the wall later.

And with this understanding, I have a renewed passion for the next season of our marriage, a renewed commitment to being even more intentional about choosing this amazing man all over again, every single day. There are so many ways we can still say, “I do,” and I am looking forward to finding them.

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