Archives For My Life

This post originally posted on February 14, 2014.

Well, today is Valentine’s Day, a day when love is shared, boxed chocolates are enjoyed and roses are ridiculously over-priced.  Don’t get me wrong – when my husband & I were dating, I wanted all of the ‘outward’ expressions of love.  Now that we’ve been married for 18 years, I appreciate love more throughout the year than just focused on the day you’re supposed to show it.

One way I appreciate the love my husband and I share is through our date nights.  Over the years, our date nights have evolved.  As newlyweds, Friday nights and all-day Saturday were our date days.  When children came along, our date days became “meet you on the couch after we put the children to bed”.  As the children got older and our calendars became more jam-packed, carving out time together would include breakfasts, lunches, dinners, coffee or weekends away.  We just wanted to be together, to talk, to look into each other’s eyes as well as each other’s hearts and listen to each other.  In my book, date nights (or days) are non-negotiable.

Last fall, I received a copy of 10 Great Dates: Connecting Faith, Love & Marriage by Peter & Heather Larson and David & Claudia Arp.  I thought I’d wait until Valentine’s Day to share my thoughts about it.  The book was released in September 2013 by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

About the Book

The book’s purpose is to “help you connect faith, love and marriage in ways that result in a deeper spiritual connection.”  The book offers 10 great date night options, each with its own chapter within the book, outlining pre-date preparation, date night tips, and post-date spiritual application.

The date night options are:

  1. Connecting Faith and Love – You’ll talk about how connecting faith in your marriage can help you build a more loving, growing relationship.
  2. Appreciating Your Differences – You’ll talk about two key core values: acceptance & forgiveness.
  3. Experiencing God Together – You’ll talk about factors that bring you together spiritually as you worship God together.
  4. Getting Into the Word – You’ll be given simple tools to help you grow spiritually through studying the Bible together.
  5. Loving Your Closest Neighbor – You’ll talk about how to love and encourage your spouse.
  6. Talking Together With God – You’ll talk about how to overcome some of the obstacles to praying as a couple and practical ways to develop a meaningful prayer life together.
  7. Building Your Marriage on a Strong Foundation – You’ll talk about the importance of what the Bible calls leaving, cleaving and becoming one.
  8. Facing the Storms of Life Together – This date will help you talk about how to stay close and face the storms of life together.
  9. Guarding Your Heart Under God’s Canopy – You’ll look at what it means to have God’s sacred canopy over your marriage and how to guard your heart.
  10. Making Your Marriage a Lighthouse – You’ll be encouraged to talk about how you can continue to draw close spiritually and how your marriage can be a lighthouse to those around you.

What I Liked

If you notice what each date encourages, you’ll discover what I love about this book. It gets spouses talking to one another.  These dates make talking to each other a priority, and I love that.  And not just talking to fill time – but meaningful discussions. That’s a winner to me!

I also love that the book takes the guesswork out of what to talk about.  It’s so easy to talk about work, children, family and friends but being intentional and having guided spiritual conversations that will benefit your marriage is another winner for me.

What I Think Was Missing

I’m a pretty practical person, so I was expecting more practical ideas.  Maybe something like, “Over coffee, talk about…”  I wasn’t expecting that there would be ‘homework’ before and after the date.  This aspect might be a turn-off to some readers and might result in one of the spouses doing more prep-work than the other.

Also, my husband isn’t a big reader, so I’m not sure how practical that would be.  I would see myself as the primary date conversation facilitator, which would be extra work on my part.

My Recommendation

Overall, I think the book is a great read for marriage rookies and veterans alike.  If you’re looking to make your date night conversation more meaningful, then grab a copy of this book today!  Visit their website for more information.

Have you read 10 Great Dates: Connecting Faith, Love & Marriage?  What were your thoughts?

Bethany House provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  No compensation was received.

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Rest, Growth, Health

I love being by the water.  Being in such a tranquil place restores my soul like nothing else.  A few weeks ago, our entire church staff retreated to Pennsylvania together to worship, eat, play and reflect upon three specific themes: Rest, Growth, and Health.

In November, each staff member was provided a workbook that would help us reflect on these areas in our personal lives as well as our roles here at church.  Because our church leadership believes that a healthy staff is imperative to a healthy church culture and a healthy church is vital to our effectiveness in our Kingdom work, they provided questions for personal reflection in these five areas of health: Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Financial, Vocational.

The exercises and questions were good for me to think through.  As I did my work, I realized two prevalent themes in three of the five areas of health.  The themes were distractions and excuses.  Although I knew I struggle with these areas, it wasn’t until I saw them written on paper several times that I realized they were a common thread running through many of my shortcomings, both personally and professionally.

Another ‘aha’ moment for me was when I asked the question: When do I feel most alive?  My answers:

  • Getting to dream
  • Working on bigger projects (as part of a team and individually)
  • Working on my own projects where I have creative control
  • Creating things

So, in thinking of terms of Rest, Growth, and Health, what does this look like in my life?

REST

I think I do a pretty good job of resting, especially after a busy season.  Sometimes what I struggle with is just resting…not entertaining myself or letting someone or something entertain me.  Sometimes I struggle with simply resting and resisting the urge to be doing something.

Rest for me looks different at different times.  Sometimes I rest alone, catching up on TV shows, reading a good book or magazine, praying and journaling, enjoying a latte from Starbucks, pinning to Pinterest, listening to music or a podcast.  Sometimes I rest with others, spending time with my family, having coffee or lunch with a friend, or shopping.  Sometimes I simply rest by sleeping.

Here are a few resources that speak to the need for rest:

Hidden in Plain Sight by Steve Adams

The Gift of Sabbath by Danielle Bell

GROWTH

In my opinion, we should never stop wanting to grow and expand our knowledge.  It doesn’t matter how old you are – keep growing and learning!

I consider myself a student of kidmin, leadership, and ministry.  I want to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in my field.  I want to lead well.  How do I do that?

  • I read books, magazines, blogs, articles…anything having to do with kidmin and leadership.
  • I connect with other leaders.  I love spending time with people who do what I do.  We have so much to learn from each other.
  • I attend workshops and conferences.  Again, I love connecting with like-minded people but I also need to learn new skills and techniques.
  • I take risks.  Yes, this is scary, but very necessary for growth.  God wants to enlarge your borders!

Here are a few resources that speak to the need for growth:

Great Leaders Grow by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller

Evaluating Yourself for Growth as a Leader by Orange Leaders

10 Steps to Becoming a Better Children’s Ministry Leader in 2015 by Dale Hudson

HEALTH

An article in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of Kidzmatter Magazine says, “‘Busy’ is the new ‘Fine’.”  I’m sure you’ve experience that when you ask someone how they’re doing.  The truth is that many of us are not fine.  Life is hard.  Many of us are depleted spiritually.  Many of us are not taking care of our bodies by getting enough rest, eating healthy, exercising and having regular doctor’s appointments.  Many of us deal with anxiety and depression.  Many of us are desperately trying to make ends meet each month.  Many of us are at the end of our ministry rope and are ready to throw in the towel.

Here are a few resources that speak to the need for health:

How Bill Hybels Stays Replenished by Carolyn Burge

Leading On Empty by Wayne Cordeiro

I’d encourage you to download this modified self-evaluation and spend some time honestly evaluating your life.

Join the conversation: What God is teaching you in the areas of Rest, Growth and Health?  Let me know by leaving a comment below.

In recent months, there has been a heightened sense of racial tension and discussions here in the United States as a result of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Today, we honor the life & legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was a man whose heart’s desire was that people would not be judged based on the color of their skin.  This is my prayer, too.

Until then, let’s not shy away from having these important discussions about race relations.  After all, we were all made in God’s image, right? (Genesis 1:27)

10 Inspiring #MLK Quotes

Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in Washington, DC

Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in Washington, DC

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”