I'm an ordinary woman living an extraordinary life by learning to recognize the God-sized moments in my day to day world. I'm the wife of a pastor, a mother to four amazing creations, and a friend. I hope you'll consider me yours...
Our family came across a poster this last week that caused a good laugh in our house. It read, "Introverts UNITE.....separately....in your own rooms."
Because we have a full house of six people that is also pretty evenly divided when it comes to introverts and extroverts, we could see the humor. The extrovert bunch love to go and do, they love crowds, and they are energized by being around people. The introvert bunch loves the moments of solitude (hard to come by in a house our size), intimate moments with close friends, and being energized by quiet reflection and creative endeavors.
Neither are wrong. Just different from each other.
But, I also came across a passage by theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer this week that carries a warning to both. “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called.” “But the reverse is also true. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called, the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone, even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you.” “We recognize, then, that only as we are within the fellowship can we be alone, and only he that is alone can live in the fellowship. Only in the fellowship do we learn to be rightly alone and only in aloneness do we learn to live rightly in the fellowship." “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.” (from Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer) So, like everything else in life, balance is required. My introverted self needs community to be sharpened. My extroverted friends need some quiet time to deal with their own hearts. And we get to live life together...just sometimes in our own rooms.
Author's Note: This is the last of a three part series on date night suggestions. Happy Valentine's Day!
Date Night #3: "TheCheap Skate Date"
Prepare each other a gift that cost you nothing. Give it to one another as you leave the house. It will set the "thrifty" tone!
Go to at least 4 fast food locations. Order ONLY one item per person at each restaurant. (Example: your drink at Taco Bell, your appetizer at Wendy's, your main dish at Arby's, and your dessert at McDonald's)
If you have a smart phone that has a good photo app, take a picture of yourselves at each place and create a photo collage of your "dinner."
Find a free community event and attend it. Choose something that you never would have attended otherwise--it'll make it more memorable.
Take a blanket to a scenic spot and watch the sun go down together, with a carafe of coffee from home!
Recreate your first date as closely as possible. If you still live in the same town, this will be fairly easy to do. If you live in a different location from where you began your relationship, you might have to substitute some things, but make the evening's agenda as close as possible to what you did the first time you went out together.
Talk about your favorite memories from the first days and weeks of your relationship. What special things do you remember from your first few dates that endeared your spouse to you early on?
Bring along your wedding album and/or your box of photos/mementos from your dating days and go through them together.
If you still have a copy of your wedding vows, read them to each other again.
Bonus thought: If you still have an article of clothing or jewelry that you wore early on in your relationship, wear it on your date. Depending on its out-of-dateness, it may cause a laugh or two, but that will only add to the memory making!
A couple of years ago, my husband and I realized we needed to step up our date night game. The kids were getting older, we were getting busier, and it was becoming easier and easier to forget about taking time to be together.
One on one time.
Where we dressed up.
And ate nice food.
And talked about big people things.
And had new experiences together.
And came home not just loving each other, but really, really liking each other.
So, now it's something we prioritize, which is harder than it sounds. And what we've found is that the more time and attention we put into our date nights, the more they lend themselves to heart connections and the more memorable they are. Not that dinner and a movie isn't a perfectly nice thing to do, but if it's all we ever do, the dates seem to run together in retrospect instead of sticking out as special highlights as one calendar page turns to another.
But, I'll be honest. It's hard to come up with creative dates again and again. Which is why I'm a big fan of taking other people's ideas. So, in the spirit of generosity, "Treasure the Ordinary" will be offering three date night ideas for the next three days, leading up to Valentine's Day. I pray they might be a blessing to you as you jump start creativity in your relationship.
And if you happen to be someone who is without a significant romantic relationship in your life right now, might I offer this suggestion? What would happen if you prayed for God to show you someone who needed encouragement, someone who is alone in this season of their life, and asked them to accompany you on a friendly outing? You can take these ideas, make them completely platonic, and you might just change someone's outlook on life.
Date Night #1: "The Something New Date"
Guys: Bring your spouse a type of flower you've never purchased before when you come home!
Go to a restaurant you've never been to before.
Order something you've never ordered before.
Tell each other a story you've never told before.
Go to a bookstore and buy a "how to" kit for something you've never done before. (Examples: origami, playing the harmonica, paint by numbers, etc.) Go somewhere and tackle the new project together!
Stop in for coffee before heading home in a new environment. This is a great time to try out a new, hipster coffee joint!
"There is beauty and adventure in the commonplace for those with eyes to see beyond." - Jonathan Lockwood Huie The older I become, the more I've realized that my life is not made up of hills and valleys like I once thought. It's made up of tiny moments on the road that stretches over hills and valleys.
Tiny moments like making my husband a cup of coffee.
Brushing my daughter's hair.
Listening to my son laugh.
Feeding the whole crew yet another meal.
Hearing about my child's day.
Watching the oldest wink at the youngest.
The choked up feeling in my throat when my friend tells of a victory.
The choked up feeling in my throat when another tells of personal pain.
The feel of the blanket in my hand as I tuck in the one who still asks.
Starting the last load of laundry for the day.
The sound of his breathing as he settles into sleep.
These moments make up my life. They lead me from the valley to the mountain that always stretches in the horizon.
They are everyday. They are common. They are nothing.
"When my anxiousthoughtsmultiplywithin me, Your consolationsdelight my soul." - Psalms 94:19 I commented to my husband this morning that with my poor gardening skills, weeds are the only thing that seem to grow for me without a great deal of effort. He responded, "That's true for everyone. I've never heard anybody say, 'Man, I just can't keep those roses out of my yard!'"
Our conversation made me laugh, but the truth of it is ringing in my soul today. The seeds that need to grow in my heart are often the ones I neglect, while the crops that spring up without any care on my end are the ones I really don't want to be harvesting.
Especially the seeds of worry.
I don't have to work hard to get a worry harvest. It seems to come faithfully, all by itself. And what an abundant crop it can be, multiplying again and again from one small, errant thought.
It's why Psalm 94:19 is such a balm to my heart.
When my anxious thoughts are threatening to stomp out all of the life within my soul, He comes like the gentle gardener that He is.
What a relief to give Him the harvest I do not want today, and receive instead the beautiful fruit in His outstretched hand.
Midway through the year, I remember thinking to myself this would be a one-time event. It's a lot harder than you'd think to remember to take a picture every day, it was one more thing to think about, and my family sometimes rolled their eyes when I would holler out, "Picture of the day!"
Eventually, though, I just got used to the routine of it. Take a picture on my phone every day. At the end of the week, take five minutes to arrange them in order in an album labeled "365." It eventually just became a habit.
And then came the reward.
New Year's Day brought my whole family to the couch, all six of us crowded around my phone. And that's where we spent a solid hour looking through 365 photos of a year in our lives. Photos of things we had all forgotten until we were reminded by our own faces looking back at us from a picture.
The high points, the low points.
The big events, and the everyday occurrences.
The friends around us, and the intimate conversations at home.
The huge road trips, and the mundane details.
They were all there, marching before us in order, chronicling time in a way that sobered me and made me smile all at the same time. Because it's bittersweet to see the way time waits for no one.
Our children's faces changed right before my eyes. The seasons passed, without waiting for a nod from me. And then the year was over, and it won't come again.
So, it's a new year. And I've begun a new album.
I've decided to name this one "365 Treasures."
Author's Note: Here are some of my favorite treasures from last year. I've realized that the ones I go back to look at again and again aren't the huge moments (the big concert, the new car), but the little moments from home. They fill my mama heart.
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