5 Ways to Stay Positive About Your Marriage

Have you ever found yourself in bitterness and resentment toward your spouse?

Maybe you see a friend post about how their husband surprised her by doing the dishes before she got home and you wish your husband would do that. Your co-worker gushes about the romantic evening her husband planned for her birthday and you remember how your husband forgot your birthday last year.

Maybe your wife doesn’t watch sports with you, and your co-worker took her husband to Wrigley Field this summer. You watch the way your friends flirt and hold hands during your double date, but you know your wife is uncomfortable with public displays of affection.

Do you find yourself comparing your marriage to the couples around you? or those on Instagram and Facebook?

Stay Positive

Let me remind you… No human is exactly the same, therefore no marriage is exactly the same. Not to mention, no person or marriage is perfect! 

What makes you just like all those couples you see, is that you all face hardships. You all have a level of brokenness, fault, & problems.

Comparing their instagram photos to your real-life-in-the-grind moments isn’t fair to anyone. Nor is it good for your soul.

So let’s turn this train around! How can we stop the negative feelings and start seeing that glass half full again? Here are 5 small tips:

1) Keep a Journal, but Burn the Pages

A Christian leader I respect and admire unwinds his mind and reflects on his day through a journal. Writing has always been a great way to process things, as well as reflect and reminisce through. However, he reflects back on the positive, but any page that is negative he rips out and burns. It is good to process your negative emotions, but it is never good to hold on to them. Take the time to do the hard work of processing, and the best work of letting go.

2) Keep a Record of Good

The Bible clearly states that Love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). But I do encourage you to keep a record of good.

A friend of mine keeps a list of all the reasons she fell in love and married her husband. She tucks it into the pages of her Bible and reminds herself daily of his strengths after her time with God. Make a list of your own and keep it as a book mark or reference when the time’s get rough.

3) Call it When You See It

Don’t let a good moment pass without recognizing it. It’s easy to take all the little things for granted, but you can develop an eye for noticing the simplest of gestures. Just like we choose to see the annoyances rather than dismiss them, we can choose to see the good and dismiss the bad.

We used to keep a chalkboard in our kitchen. Whenever we noticed something we would write it down on the board. It was a shout-out that their efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Sometimes we would get competitive and try to out do one another in love. What a great way to utilize that competitive nature!

4) Assume the Best

It’s easy to take offense quickly. We often react assuming our partner meant to hurt us with their words (aka He meant I was fat!). But it’s much more likely that they don’t mean to hurt us. They loved us enough to marry us afterall.

So take a deep breath, remind yourself they love you, and assume the best.

5) Pray Over the Rest

If we spent the same amount of time we do berating, arguing, complaining, nagging, resenting…. and instead praying for our spouse, the more effective our time would be spent. Prayer can do a funny thing though. Instead of fixing your spouse, it tends to fix you. Prayer can fix our heart by softening it towards our spouse, increasing our grace and our mercy towards each other.

 

What are your tips for turning away bitterness? Do you have a simple habit that helps you stay focused on the positive?

 

 

 

Summer Dates You Will Want to Repeat

Summer is my favorite season! With the warm weather life seems to open up again. The possibilities grow as we are able to get outside, move, and soak up the sun.

In this favorite season of mine, I’ve also noticed favorite dates play on repeat. Here are the Summer Dates we come back to time and time again.

RepeatDates

Ice Cream Dates

Ice cream is simply delicious and especially refreshing on a warm day. Repeated nearly weekly, Tappy and I will sit down and enjoy some icecream together.

This is Summer’s version of a “coffee date” for us. It gives us a treat while we unwind, share dreams, and update each other on our week. But there are some ways you can spice up your ice cream dates! Try to…

  • Make Homemade Ice Cream
  • Make Sundaes or Root Beer Floats at Home
  • Try a New Ice Cream Parlor
  • Order Something Different off the Menu

 

Sunset Walks

Unwind from work, eat supper, and then right before Dusk put on your walking shoes. The sunset not only offers a lovely backdrop for a romantic walk, but it also offers a break in the day’s heat.

Walks are great, because men enjoy side-by-side activities. As you move and the blood gets flowing, your brain starts moving too. Tappy can’t deny that he talks more on walks than sitting down at a table. There is just something about moving together! Plus it’s healthy!

  • Walk Your Favorite Neighborhood
  • Walk the Trails at your Local Park
  • Visit a Botanical Garden or Zoo

 

Outdoor Grilling

We love grilling so much, that we have done it in the rain and snow before… But let’s face it, it works much better in the summer! Our favorite thing to grill is Kabobs. Although, we won’t turn down a BBQ hamsteak, corn on the cob, burgers, or sausages either!

Keep your partner company while they make dinner, eat it outside on paper plates, and enjoy the relaxing nature of it all.

  • Try a new Grill Recipe (Kabobs, Grilled Pizza?)
  • Invite friends over for a cookout
  • Use this marinade recipe we love!
  • Make it a Picnic

 

Visit the Lake

Tappy and I love to take out the family boat. Being on the lake reminds me of God’s hand in all of creation. I admire His work, and think about the blessing He has given us to enjoy it in such neat ways. Who thought of being pulled by a rope attached to a speed boat just to skim the surface of the water on sticks?! I’m pretty sure God gave man that idea.

  • Swim in the Lake
  • Lay on the Beach
  • Go Boating, Tubing, Skiing
  • Kayak or Canoe

 

What Summer Date Ideas do you play on Repeat?

Give us some suggestions for our next date night!

Why #LoveYourSpouse Challenge is Good

I understand why people are rolling their eyes at the #LoveYourSpouse trend…  Because the reality is, life is NOT A FAIRY TALE.

And for most people who are against the trend rightly feel that it is a little too polished and perfect to be true. However, this challenge is a reminder of something all couples need a little more of.

Positivity. Bonding. Forgiveness. Solidarity. Encouragement.

#loveyourspouse

Here are three short reasons why the #LoveYourSpouse Challenge is a good thing.

-Keeping a Positive Outlook on Your Marriage is Healthy-

I’ve shared before that Tap and I have made a commitment to not bash each other in public. When we do this we feel safe in our relationship, we don’t fear embarrassment in-front of or away from our spouse. Our spouse knows our deepest and most hidden flaws, and with this rule I feel safe with him knowing all of me.

So no, facebook doesn’t show the reality of our roller coaster relationship, but it shouldn’t have to. Fights are for us in our own space and time, until they’re too big- Then they’re for us and a mutually trusted counselor or wiser couple.

-Telling and Sharing Your Story is Bonding-

In all of my communication & relationship courses in college the theme of “story” was studied. The premise was that “memory sharing” creates and reinforces a bond between two people. Just watch a couple recite their story, over time they can finish each other’s sentences and they can repeat this story with bravado! You also begin to see them lean into each other, and show outward signs of affection.

Why? Because, once you walk down memory lane it tends to resurface some of those initial butterfly feelings.

Furthermore! Every positive memory is like an investment in your relationship. So when those imperfect hard times hit, you have an investment that softens the blow! We need to keep remembering the reasons we love our spouse, as well as create more reasons and memories for future hardships.

-We all Desperately Need Encouragement-

We should never stop encouraging our spouse… or our friends, family, or other marriages and love stories.

Just after 4.5 years of my marriage, I may feel like I’m not the woman my husband married. Fear that I have disappointed him with the pounds I’ve gained, the patience I’ve lost, and the slow change of personality that happens with experience and time. We all doubt ourselves, and need the reminder and reaffirmation that our marriage is still strong in the midst of challenge or change.

Even in a healthy, loving, committed relationship, I’m glad to still hear I love you.. still.

It is important to remind each other that we did, do, and will always love one another, despite the surfacing flaws, bumps in the road, and challenges we face.

And in a world that pushes divorce, selfishness, and the pursuit of happiness over holiness, it’s good to see love conquer.

How about you? Will you be joining the challenge? Why or why not?

 

Best and Most Challenging Parts of Marriage

A couple-friend of ours is engaged and currently doing pre-marital counseling. They were told to interview three couples (in different stages of marriage) with three questions.

And guess who was a lucky winner?! Tap and I!

We had a lot of fun mulling over these questions, and discussing them with our friends so I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. What is the BEST thing about marriage?
  2. What is the most CHALLENGING part of marriage?
  3. What is your #1 best piece of ADVICE?

Photo Courtesy – Kevin Curtis at Unsplash

Tap and I have been married for 4 years on the 10th of December, and we are still learning just as much as the next couple…. But here are the few insights we were able to give.

What is the BEST thing about marriage : Friendship

Tappy and I probably could have said this in unison… we BOTH feel that this is just truly great.

We love that our team-mate, friend, and lover is always there. We don’t ever have to be alone, we have each other for all the hurdles and celebrations of life.

From this day forward, for better or worse, you always have someone there to go through it with you.

What is the most CHALLENGING part of marriage : Fighting Fair, Balance, & More

To be honest this question came with more than one answer… In the four short years we’ve had together we’ve seen different challenges… and I am positive it’s only a glimpse of the challenges yet to come.  But for each year of our life, I thought there was a challenge worth mentioning.

Year 1: Comparison

In year one, we compared our reality of marriage to our imagination of marriage. We had to learn what the difference was between our ideals and what was. But comparison went further for me… it was comparing myself to other women and specifically Tap’s ex’s. I had to learn confidence and grace for myself, and trust in how God made me, and trust what Tap said when he complimented me.

Year 2: Learning to Fight Fair

This is really more of an every-year thing… We still pull the gloves off every now and then and fight dirty, but the earlier you can drop the bad habits the better!

Tap and I have learned that we cannot go to bed angry, otherwise we can’t sleep.  However, this doesn’t work for everyone. It’s usually best to give yourself a “time-out” to clear your head, minimize the emotion, and get back down to business.

Another great thing for us is to remind ourselves we are a team… whatever we are fighting about, it should be us fighting together to tackle the issue. Try not to forget you are a team.

Year 3: Balancing Life

We don’t have kids yet, but we still had to learn to balance our lives: house chores, work, church, friends, alone time, and date time. It only gets harder when more things add to this list!

Because Tap works in ministry, there was an added dynamic to this.  It is wise to prioritize your life in this way: God, Wife, Kids, Work. But if Tap works for God (in ministry) then this list gets a little blurry. We had to define what items on his Job Description were “God things” and which were “Work things.” It was hard to define this line…. God’s work is important, but it is also important not to become a workaholic and to give your family the proper time they need.

What is your #1 Best Piece of Advice : Dating & Communication

It surprises me how many couples are scared to be vulnerable and honest in a culture that seems to be so “out-there.” Conversations can be tough, but if you can be courageous to discuss things and humble enough to listen it will save your marriage a lot of heart-ache.

Tap said Dating is his best advice… “Happy wife, happy life!” But really, dating allows you to stay connected, keep in touch, and grow together. It’s important to always invest in your relationship.

Tap didn’t realize this until he was married, but he opens up best when we go on walks.

In my studies I learned that men connect “Side by Side” while women tend to connect “Face to Face.”  While I can sit over coffee and talk for hours, a man typically prefers to bond through doing something… fixing a car, playing basketball, etc. So try to connect through doing… go on a walk, kayak, work on a project he’s passionate about, etc.  Don’t always expect him to open up by facing him directly (and possibly intimidatingly). haha.

See some great date ideas at TheDatingDivas.com or the book 10GreatDates, got a budget try $10GreatDates!

What questions would you ask? How would you answer these questions? Engage in the discussion!

Where to Begin Planning a Wedding

How do you plan for a wedding?  Where do you start?!

My facebook feed is full of happy tears, giant smiles, and sparkly rings. If you are one of these giddy new fiances, this one is for you!

Planning a weddingThese are the steps we took –  or should have taken  – in preparing for the Big Day.

This is my all-time favorite marriage book. It helped me focus on what marriage truly is, not what Hollywood (or myself) makes it out to be.

It gave me an opportunity to reflect on my unrealistic expectations, and ground myself in God’s purpose for my marriage, not my own.

This is a SOLID way to start. It was truly humbling… changing the perspective of “Marriage is to make me happy” into “Marriage is to make me holy.”

  • Figure out how much you will spend. e.g. Absolutely no more than $__

We need to start off with a well defined price cap. Once we begin planning a wedding, one decision leads to another, and every little expense adds up big time.

It is easy to be pressured by perfect pictures on Pinterest, pushy salesmen, and blindsided by wedding etiquette. Be sure to know your price-line early, and NEVER cross it.

Keep in mind that the research shows the less you spend on your wedding, the lower the divorce rate. Also, you don’t want to start your life off with a huge pile of debt!

  • Choose your priorities

For me it was: 1) Dress 2) Photographer 3) Dancing.

When you know your priorities, you know where most of your money should go. When the money starts getting slim, remind yourself that the priorities have already been taken care of.

Equip yourself to say no to good things, in order to say yes to the best things. Knowing your priorities will give you the courage to skimp on the decorations or the location.

  • Make a Budget

Now that you know your price cap and your priorities, it’s time to make a Zero Line Budget.

This means, every single dollar of the budget needs to be allocated to something. You can give yourself wiggle room by having a miscellaneous category.  If you need more money for a certain category, you learn that you have to decrease another category to make up for it.

Here is a suggested Budget Breakdown according to Dave Ramsey’s daughter Rachel Cruz:

-Reception 55%
-Ceremony 12%
-Photographer 10%
-Dress 8%
-Wedding Planner 10%
-Misc 5%

  • Schedule Top-Quality Pre-Martial Counseling (it’s worth it)

I know a lot of Pastors offer pre-marital counseling, some for free. However, many of them do not have the time or the expertise to give you the best.

Tap and I spent 6 weeks with a wise couple who gave us tests, assessments, and discussed the nitty-gritty details with us.They listened and tailored our meetings to meet our needs and potential problem areas.

I highly recommend starting your marriage off on a strong foundation. After all, you are really preparing for a marriage, not a wedding day.

If you are unsure of local pre-marital counselors or have a long-distance engagement, check out Don Miller’s resource: Before You Get Married. Or find someone certified to give the Symbis assessment.

Focus on the Family just advertised this Ready to Wed kit, saying that couples who do pre-marital counseling are 80% more likely to stay together! Wow.

  • Choose a season/rough date

Venues can book up a year in advance, so I wouldn’t be too specific on a date. Pick a season, most likely the venue will guide you to the actual date.

  • Start a Date Night Tradition : With NO Wedding Talk

Planning a wedding is really exciting… Thoughts of cake and flowers and decoration details begin to fill your mind 24/7 and live even in your sleep.

However, these details can get really taxing. Discussing them All.The.Time can get really annoying.

Start a date night tradition now, where wedding talk is off limits. Your future spouse will appreciate it.

Also, this tradition can carry on into marriage! Only then, you’ll have to put all arguments on hold, or talk of in-laws and children.

  • Find a location for the wedding and the reception.

If you can’t find a suitable location on a Saturday, be willing to consider a Friday or Sunday wedding. Like I said, Saturdays book up fast!

Some locations are even cheaper than the premium Saturday prices.

  • Hire a photographer for your engagement and wedding photos

Good photographers take the time to know you, your vision, and how best to portray your personality through the photos. Having the extra time to spend together through an engagement shoot will prepare all of you for the Wedding date itself.

A trusted photographer and professor of mine has put together “The Smart Bride’s Photo Guide.” This would be a great place to get an extensive look at how to pick your photographer.

  • Select a Stress-free Wedding Party

Your bridal party or the groomsmen are what can make or break your day. Don’t feel pressured to have a large party, have the same number on both sides, or pressure to ask someone who expects to be up there.

A lot of friends are here just for seasons, but some are full-lifers. Find the friends that love you and support your upcoming marriage. Friends that will last through the changes ahead of you and will only enrich your day- not fill it with drama.

  • Agree on the Guest-list

Be sure to ask your parents if they have any “must-invite” guests.  You may not know them as well as the girl that lived three doors down in your dorm hall, but they watched you grow up.  They prayed over you, taught you in Sunday School, and want to witness your special day and bless you with their presence and possibly present… (and they have a bigger budget then that dorm-mate).

  • Enjoy Planning! Find your florist, cake, caterer, dress, and tux! Just don’t stress it, enjoy it!

Remember… It is one day, your marriage is a lifetime.

What are some tips you would give the blushing bride? What absolutely made your wedding? What would you have changed?

To see how our wedding turned out take a look:

How We Met

The Proposal

Engagement Photos

The Wedding Day

My Wedding Album

Our Honeymoon

Why I’m Tired of Hearing “Marriage is Hard”

When Tap and I first got engaged we were constantly reminded by many well-intentioned friends and family that “marriage is hard.”  Hearing this repeatedly sure puts a damper on the excitement of finally being a fiance instead of a girlfriend, the oncoming dreamy wedding, and the happily ever after that follows.  Because of this negative-nancy feeling, I try not to ever say this myself; atleast, not without a disclaimer.

 

“Marriage can be work, BUT it can be fun.”
“Marriage is hard, BUT it is worth it.”

 

Skitter Photo on StockSnap.io

I know there are a LOT of people out there who struggle in marriage, and wrestle with the idea of divorce.  The divorce rate proves that much. Divorce is everywhere, but what about the flip side? How much marital support do we see in today’s culture?

It is easy to side with our dear friends, especially for fear of losing the friendship.  When they come to us with the struggles of their marriage, it can be tempting to add on more reasons why their spouse has failed them.  Quickly the line between sympathy and discouragement is blurred and we become part of the problem-adding another number to the statistic.

Except in the cases of emotional, mental, and physical abuse; what our friends need most is an encourager, a warrior in the battlefield next to them, a personal advocate for their marriage.

We need to step alongside our friends and let them know that they aren’t alone, because, like we’ve all been told, marriage is hard.

Maybe it’s time to put on some humility and let them see a few of our own battle scars.

We should remind them of all the good in their partner, share with them the strength that comes with each obstacle that’s defeated, and share with them that there’s light at the end of the tunnel if they would just.hold.on.

Really, if we attended their wedding, this is what we vowed to do.  They vowed to each other for better or worse.  Then all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen, all of the wedding guests, the father that walked down the isle and the mom crying in the front row, we all attested in that moment that we would fight for their marriage too- That they did not have to fight for it alone, and we would stand by their vows and by their marriage. So, that’s what we should do.

Have you ever felt tempted to join the negativity of marriage? Have you chosen to be the one friend who encourages marriage instead of encouraging divorce? What are some ways you can fight for your marriage and your friend’s marriage?

 

Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated[d] always in her love.
Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?[e]

Proverbs 5:15-20

EmTap Christmas

This Saturday we celebrated our fourth married Christmas! Since we got married in December, Christmas seems to have an added sentimental value.  It’s hard to celebrate such a joyful and memorable holiday without reminiscing over the ways we’ve changed over the years or how we celebrated in the past.

When we were dating, Tap was the first boyfriend of mine to ever stop by my house on Christmas day.  He swayed his hips to the beat of Dance Central, our hit family Christmas present that year.  When we were dating, we never swapped gifts, but always went on dates instead.  We celebrated by snowskiing in Northern Illinois.  During the ski-trip, we were taking a hot-cocoa break, and this was the first time Tap let me in on the notion of wanting to marry me.  He tells me now, that it was “the moment” he knew.  He took my sapphire ring off my right hand, and slipped it onto my left ring finger telling me, “Someday I’ll be putting a ring on this finger…” The next December we got hitched!

Ski Trip 2010

Our first married Christmas was a mere week from our honeymoon in Kauai.  I had hand-knit him a scarf and hand-painted a popcorn bowl which he still wears and uses today.  He made me a small scrapbook of the many ways he loves me, and filled my stocking with other things.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The second Christmas, and our one year anniversary, we went snowskiing again; This time in Steamboat Colorado.  I bought him a used pair of snowski’s, and he gifted a beautiful green amethyst necklace to me for our anniversary.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Christmas number three was our first Christmas away from Illinois.  Just the two of us celebrated with Christmas cookies from a local bakery, hot cocoa, and a gift swap.  We were in Ohio until he wrapped up his first Christmas Eve production, and we hit the road for a long 5 hour trip racing to hit the bed before Santa came.

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This year was Christmas Four!  We got up, ate cookies, drank hot chocolate, stayed in our pajamas, opened presents, watched a movie, and spent the whole day being lazy and loving one another.

…But I am going to be honest.  Christmas isn’t always picture perfect. Unfortunately this year, I was hormonal and grumpy.

I love Christmas, but I struggle with the materialism, the over-hyped anticipation, and the unrealistic expectations that influence my happiness.  I hated myself for being one of those.  I let myself take my life and the gifts for granted, I let myself get distracted from the true meaning of Christmas.  Not only that, but I even struggled with holding on to our special married meaning that Tap and I have created over the years.  After looking back I think it was a combination of things: breakdown from stress, being hormonal, selfishness, and distraction.  Yes there are things I could not have controlled or changed, but I could have- and eventually did- choose to react in a more positive way.

The moment I let go of me, and refocused on God- His ultimate gift, and His personal gift to me-my husband, our little celebration got better.  I am so thankful for my husband, who tirelessly encouraged me, and spiritually led me to the manger this Christmas.  If you feel yourself getting wrapped up in a bahumbug, stop and pray, and refocus on the true blessing this season.

“Love is Blind”

From Shakespeare to hit songs.  From movie quotes to the name of the restaurant down the street- “Love is Blind” has become a popular idiom used often to describe the sensation and results of true love.

However, I believe this little line can cause a lot of trouble.  Before blind love can ever flourish, blind lust has already been born.

Blind lust forms in the beginning stages of a relationship.  You may only know the surface qualities of your mate, and you believe them to be infallible. When they pick you up late for a date, you brush it off assuming they tried their best.  You get in a quarrel, and sooner than later you decide that you were the one and only culprit.  Before too long, your friends are telling you to dump them, but you insist that they don’t truly know him or her the way you do. You parents mutter under their breath that you simply cannot “see it” because you are “in it.”  However, your “in it” blindness further propels you to believe it MUST be love, because love is blind!  If any of these symptoms describe you, please look at these red flags and make a serious and prayerful reconsideration.  Being blind to one’s faults does not prepare you to be a good lover, nor a stable person when those curtains get drawn!

But now… Let’s talk about LOVE.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

Love is not BLIND to wrongdoings; Instead it is fully aware of them, but chooses to not keep a record of them.  Love is acknowledging that your spouse is imperfect, but loving him anyway.  Love is coming home to a dirty house when your husband said he’d clean it, but being patient and understanding.  Love is to be excited for your spouse to find the job of his dreams, not being jealous that you have yet to find yours.  Love is knowing about his past, but not resenting him for it.  Love is getting into a fight and admitting you are the one who is wrong! Love is saying “I am sorry.”  Love believes that marriage has NO OPTION of divorce.  Love endures a miscarriage. Love endures temptation and affairs.  LOVE endures ALL THINGS, because LOVE is the greatest of all these: Faith, hope, love.

True love is not blind, it sees.  In fact, Love sees past the problems and mistakes and the imperfections.  Love sees the big picture.  To be good lovers, we need to understand that we are not perfect ourselves.  We are so unworthy of the love God unconditionally and unlimited-ly gives us.  Likewise, I often feel I am unworthy of the love of my husband, but he continues to give it, because he gets it.  He sees past my mistakes, and in doing so, he reflects the great and unlimited love of our Father.  And if I’m not perfect, I cannot constantly expect my husband to be- and thus there is Love. True love, that keeps no records of wrong, but loves all the mistakes out.  Like Christ who loved all of our mistakes out.

Catching Fire and Lighting Trees

It has become quite rare for my husband and I to go to the movie theatre.  Between the quality plummeting, and theatre prices skyrocketing, it simply doesn’t make the cut for date night.  However, there are still those shows we highly anticipate, and simply must see on the silverscreen.  Catching Fire was one of them.

Hunger Games Date Saturday 23 Nov

While we were dating we had both read the series.  The suspense kept us flipping the pages, the characters made the stories real and full of emotion, and the plot was worthy to fight for.  After seeing the first come to life, we just simply had to see that new arena and how the characters from the book would come to life through this second installment.  Even though the movie was two in a half hours long, we thoroughly enjoyed it and did not find a single scene to drag (quite an accomplishment!)  The only problem was that it left little room for quality bathroom break opportunities.  However, I made it through full bladder and all!

If you are wondering how we could afford such a treat, I’ll let you in on a little tip.  One we put our marriage before our budget.  We realize budgeting and stewardship is important, but money does not last forever.  Our marriage, if properly invested into, will.  So we have budgeted for such romance, fun, and adventures- to keep our marriage alive, healthy, and growing.  BUT! on top of that, we’ve found that – even the nicest theaters – have deal days or times.  We go to the RAVE at a beautiful shopping center called the Greene.  Their normal evening tickets cost anywhere from $12 – $18.  Their matinee is still steep at $8.25.  However, we go to their first showing of the day on Saturday with the grand Early Bird price of $5.25 a ticket!  So we get the small town rundown theatre price at the grand RAVE where arm rests come up for the honeymoon cuddlers, and the seats lay back a few inches, and your butt doesn’t fall asleep from the worn down cushions!  Definitely something to look into.

Ahi Tuna Tempora Roll Cheesecake Factory

Ontop of this luxurious treat, we had a giftcard for the Cheesecake Factory where we split our favorite Ahi Tuna Tempora Roll appetizer.  Then browsed the shops and enjoyed the Christmas decorations. While we were window shopping we had several shopkeepers ask if we were staying for the lighting of the tree.  We didn’t even know what it was! So we had them fill us in on the details and decided to go… It was the perfect romantic snowy night.  The wind was harsh and cold, but the snow was beautiful against the dark night sky.  We sipped on Teavana samples as the parade rolled through, and then we went out to countdown Santa’s lighting of the tree.  It was so fun, and the best part is we simply happened upon it!

Cold Winter DateThe above picture was my favorite from the whole day.  It was so beautiful to see the white snow collect ontop of everyone’s heads and on everyone’s coat.  My husband couldn’t stop telling me how much he loved this date.  He even mentioned today how he loved to hold me in the cold while the snow swirled around us.  My favorite part of snowy dates like this, is feeling his warm lips on my ice chilled face in the midst of such a cold dark night.  He’s my favorite.

Lighting of the Tree

Authentic Intimacy – Just my beginning

For one semester in 2009, I was able to attend Focus on the Family’s Leadership Institute in Colorado Springs.  Ever since then, I have had a lot of respect for my teachers, and I have held dearly to the truth they spoke into my life.  In particular, Juli Slattery taught me a TON about relationships and life through her Marriage & Family course. In fact, I was learning so much that I would journal it for my future husband! Whom I had not met!  Things I knew would help us, give us insight, and may soften those bumps in our path.

A month of so ago, I saw her update her facebook status.  It said something about being in Ohio.  To me this seemed like a strange coincidence.  First, I meet her in Colorado Springs.  Next, I find out she’s only thirty minutes away from my hometown in Illinois for the Hearts at Home conference; And now, I move to Ohio and she’s coming here?!  I was stoked, and decided to look more into it.

I had not realized, but Juli had left her comfortable job at Focus to start a ministry all about SEX!  If you haven’t yet, you should really hear the amazing story of how God called her to this new place in life-  It is a story that only God could be the answer to.  So, this ministry is called Authentic Intimacy, and their first big huzzah is their Bible study Passion Pursuit.  Passion Pursuit is all about confronting the devil’s lies, the cultural views of sex, our past, our husband’s past, the abuse, the hurt, the pain… and slowly dragging ourselves through this journey, into healing, into redemption, and back into the intimacy God created for us to have with our spouses.  But it doesn’t stop there.  This study is also about creating the same authentic intimacy with the God who redeemed us, who is our groom, who we have been anxiously awaiting.

It is extremely evident that this ministry needed to happen.  When culture is soo loud about sex, but Christians are soo quiet- where can we find answers, healing, or truth?  The world is full of pornography, high divorce rates, blurred gender roles, rape, and affairs. Just during this weekend’s conference my niece-in-law would elbow me and say, “Oh my goodness, that’s so you!”  Then just seconds later, I would look back at her with a knowing eye.  Just moments after that my heart would whisper the names of other dear friends who were not with me. I am so thankful that someone has taken the first step, and broken ground on this issue in a highly intelligent, sympathetic, hopeful, and challenging way.

I will keep you posted on my own walk as I start the study! I do hope you will take a look at it.  As intimidating as it may be, everyone is a sexual being, and everyone is being affected in this spiritual battleground.

 

If you want a better taste for this ministry, check out their website, blog, podcast, or book.