Date Your Mate

I enjoy spending time with my husband.  In fact, if I was given the ability to choose to spend time with any person on earth right now, I would - hands down - pick my husband.  I would rather be with him than anyone else!  I would not even need to think about the decision.  He’s my first pick.

In our per-marital counseling we were challenged by our Pastor to “Date our Mate” for as long as we were married. That was easy when were first married and it was just the two of us.  We spent every moment we could with each other.  Oh, young love!  However, when the children came (a result of spending so much time together, but I digress…), having those dates became a little more of a challenge.  When all of our children were little, and we did not have ‘built in’ babysitters like we do now, we had to come up with some 
ways to spend time being together.  

Here are some steps we found that helped us to be able to “Date our Mate” even with little kids underfoot:

1.  Bedtime

When our kids were little, we made sure that their bed times were early enough in the evening to allow us quality time to be together just the two of us.  We found when they were going to bed late (9-10pm) we were exhausted by the time they finally got tucked into bed and ready for sleep ourselves.   When their bedtimes were moved to 8:00 we found we still were alert and awake enough to be able to sit and talk together, play a game or even just sit on the couch together reading books and drinking hot tea in a quiet house.  (I don’t mind that type of date at all!)
There were sacrifices that had to be made in putting the kids to bed at an “early” bedtime.  Kids who go to bed at 8 are usually up at six.  There were times we debated if we would rather keep them up later, so our mornings did not come so early, but we found we enjoyed being able to be with each other as a couple more than we enjoyed a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning.  Looking back on the years of having just little ones in the house – I think it was a wise choice!

2. Plan Times

For as long as I can remember, we have had a “date night” set on the calendar; and for the most part it does not change.  When the children were little, we had a date night about once a month.  That night, we went out together as a couple on a ‘date’.  We would have loved to have done it more, but the bottom line was, when you have to pay a babysitter and a waiter – you just run out of money fast when you are just starting out as a couple and family.  Once a month was about all we could afford!  Now, we have babysitters that live with us – and we have the ability to make our date nights more of a weekly activity. 

3. Barter Babysitting

When the kids are little and it is difficult to find/ afford a babysitter, bartering babysitting is an option.  Find another couple with little kids.  (They need date nights too!)  Offer to be their date night babysitter in return for them watching your children the next week for your date night. 

When my husband was a Pastor we would host “Date Nights” for the couples in our church.  They could drop the kids off at the church and we would watch the kids and feed them dinner if the couples promised to go out on a date together and talk.  We enjoyed spending an evening with the kids of the church; but most of all enjoyed seeing the couples come to pick up their children holding hands and smiling.  It was like you could see a visible difference in the couples from when they dropped the kids off to when they picked them up.    It is SO important that couples have time to do this. 

4.  Take what you can get

There were times when the kids were little that we would take them to the park to play so that we could sit on the benches and talk.  No, it is not the ideal date night – where you are alone just the two of you.  Undoubtedly, there will be interruptions; but you can proactively handle that by promising ice cream cones on the way home for all the kids who played without disturbing Mommy and Daddy while they talked.  We have taken this same principle and done it at home too.  The kids were assigned to their rooms to play – they were not to come out of their rooms till the timer went off.  Then we would sit and talk about what we need to while they played. 

5.  Look for “mini-date” opportunities

Mini dates are anytime you are able to be alone together as a couple without the kids being in the center of your world.  As I looked at our weeks and the time we had together when the kids were little, I was amazed to find that there were several times when we were ‘kid-less’.  A perfect example of this would be the time we spent in adult Sunday school class.  The kids were all checked into the nurseries, dropped off at their Sunday school rooms and it was just the two of us in Sunday School.  There was almost an hour where we did not have to make sure the kids were behaving, chewing their gum too loudly, or writing in the hymnbooks! 

Making an effort to see these times as ‘mini-dates’ and connect emotionally with each other can be wonderful for a couple with little kids.  During Sunday school we would hold hands or sometimes pass a note to each other (don’t tell Pastor I said that….).  There are times when we are listening to the preaching and Pastor will mention something that pertains to us as a family or couple – and we will interact with each other by a poke or a nod – or even our eyes meeting and smiling; knowing that God had that part of the message for us.  We are listening together as a couple to the message and we are growing together under the preaching of God’s Word.    We were emotionally connecting – even though we were not OUT on a date. 

Wednesday nights afforded us the same opportunity as the children were all in kids club and we were able to be together for the prayer time and Bible study.  Sometimes during prayer meetings we pray together as a couple.  Even though we are at church (and not out on a ‘date’) we are connecting our hearts together in prayer. 

Our church holds monthly couples Bible studies.  Several of the couples have little ones that are upstairs being cared for by teens in the church; but really and truly they are on a mini-date.  Mini dates can happen in the car when you declare a “no-talking game” with the kids and hold hands and connect with each other as the kids look at the window. 

You were a couple before you had children.  It is imperative that while you have children in the house you find ways to connect with your spouse.  If you make the effort, you will find many opportunities to “Date your Mate”.    We have looked at it as an investment in our marriage.  I want to be married to my best friend when the last kid leaves the house – not find out that I don’t know the man I am married to anymore because life became too busy to connect and build a friendship with my husband.  I challenge you to do WHATEVER you can to find time alone with your husband.  Someday when your kids are gone and raising a family of their own they will thank you for the security you gave them by being best friends with their Daddy! 

Thanks for stopping by.  I’m so glad you did.


Letting Truth Transform Our Lives

It is so important that as Christian women we have a heart that is tender towards truth and willing and to accept truth when it pertains to our life.  There can be times when it is difficult for us to accept truth; especially when truth shows us something in our lives that is not biblical.  It is never easy to admit we are wrong.

However, if we never change - change never happens. 

It is easy for us as women to look at a difficult situation in our lives and see all that is wrong; but it can be incredibly difficult to accept truth (often times the solution to all that we see as wrong) when it requires us to admit or change something we have been doing wrong. As I have sat through different counseling classes I have heard of and seen the examples of people who realize that something is wrong – but then reject the solution to the problem. 

Truth must be received in order for things to change. 

Simply listening to truth will not change my situation.  Truth must be received and applied to my life.

So we must ask ourselves the question:  “What is truth?”

Truth is an absolute that will not change.  Our culture has accepted the lie of Satan that there are no absolutes.  However, the Bible is full of absolutes – and there is absolute truth.  God is the source of all truth.  Wisdom is learning to look at life as God looks at life.  We do that through the Word of God that He has given us.  It is FULL of truth.  God’s truth does not change.  When we take God’s truth and apply it to our lives we will experience spiritual blessing.  God has given us truth for our good – and because He loves us!    

We must place a HIGH value on truth.  If you read through Proverbs 2 you will see just how valuable God says it should be for us to seek wisdom (truth).   We must be willing to do anything to get truth; and then once we hear truth we place ourselves under truth and apply it to our lives.  When we value truth we are willing to admit we are wrong and change - even if it costs us. 

This will be a two part series on Letting Truth Transform our Lives.  Today, we will look at things that hinder us from receiving truth.  As I look through these hindrances I am able to see in my past where at one time or another all of these things hindered me from receiving truth and allowing my life to be transformed by truth.  Satan is the father of lies. Satan wants us to believe lies!   He does not want us to accept truth because truth can change us!  Accepting truth is vitally important in the Christian life. 

We must make it our motto that if God speaks to our hearts and gives us truth in regards to our lives we will respond to His conviction and apply the truth that He has shown us.  We continue in sanctification as we willingly obey the truth that He gives to us.  We also stop growing spiritually when we hear truth – but refuse to accept it, or fail to apply it to our lives. 

What are the hindrances in receiving truth?

1. It’s New

There have been many Christians who in their new found faith found things of God to sound different and wrong because they have never heard truth before.  When truth is new to you it may be difficult to readily receive it and apply it to your life because you are just learning.  God wants us to reason through His Word and learn; when we are hearing things for the first time there can be difficulty in accepting this new truth.  We must be aware that this can be a hindrance; but does not need to stop us from accepting truth – even if it is new to us. 

2.  Opinions Taught as Truth

Unfortunately, this has happened in Christian circles; and the results are that people become leery of accepting truth for fear that it just another man’s opinion that is given for self-serving reasons.  When a man’s opinions have been taught as truth, only to find that his opinion was faulty and incorrect, people are fearful to accept truth from others teaching the Word of God.

3.  Feelings are Viewed as Truth

How we feel is real.   Just because I feel something, however, does not make it true.  I can feel all alone.  Truly feel completely alone and that no one cares.  However, no matter how deeply I feel that – it is simply not true.  God is always there for me.  Even if every single person in this world walks away from me and leaves me – God will NEVER leave me.  I must place my feelings under truth when I find my feelings to be contrary to truth.

4.  We think that there are Exceptions

This I truly believe is a working of Satan in our thoughts.   I remember distinctly one time in my life when I was so overcome with how to handle a situation.  I had come up with my own solution for how to make it better – even though my solution went against Bible truth!  For some reason I had told myself that while I believed the truth – and knew that it was how it was supposed to be – my particular situation was an exception to that Bible truth.  I have are talked with several ladies through the years, who have this same mindset about their problem.  This happens often and I believe with my whole heart it is a work of Satan to cause us to think this way. 

5. We see a Dead-End

There are many ladies who do not accept and receive truth, not because they don’t believe the truth – but because they believe that the truth will not change their situation.
  I have heard it told how a Pastor and his wife were counseling a couple because of marriage problems.  The Pastor was talking with the husband and telling him he needed to be the leader in his home.  The husband looked right at the pastor and said, “Pastor, I would take the lead in my home if my wife would just submit .”  At the same time the Pastor’s wife was talking with the wife of this man telling her she needed to submit to her husband’s as the leader of their home.  The wife looked at her Pastor’s wife and said with all sincerity, “I would submit to him if he would just lead.”  Both that husband and wife had stifled their marriage relationship from moving forward because neither one saw where the truth was going to change the situation.  They were stuck – and unless one of them received truth and applied to themselves – nothing would ever change.

6.  Self-Gratification

Have you ever met a person who is always negative?  If the day is cloudy and rainy they complain about how they hate the rain.  However, you come to them on a clear and sunny day and expect to hear them joyful and happy about the beautiful day; but are met with only a negative spirit about how hot it is – or how the sun is too bright.  No matter what the weather is like – they will always complain because they derive some sort of gratification when they are being negative.  There are those who do that with truth also.  No matter what truth says – no matter how much truth will help them solve the problems that they are finding themselves in– they enjoy having the problems more than solving them.  Perhaps it is because they are able to get people’s sympathy; or perhaps it is because they have gotten so used to thinking lies that they almost are incapable of receiving truth.  This can definitely is a hindrance to accepting truth. 

7. Pride

A proud person has a hard time (and often time will not) admitting they are wrong.  Let’s be honest here, all of us have a hard time saying we were wrong.  It is human nature.  It’s a sinful part of human nature!  Pride is perhaps the greatest hindrance to accepting truth. 
The second part of the series we will take time to explore how we can accept truth into our lives; and look at examples of people who changed their lives because they received and applied truth to their situations.   I hope you will join me again next Wed for part two of Letting Truth Transform our Lives

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I am so glad you did.


She Has Done What She Could

I remember years ago the guilt that flooded my soul one Sunday when someone asked the question, “What have you done for God this week?”  In the few minutes that followed the question I was told about various ministries from which I had been absent that previous week; all of which had been done by the person asking the question.

I remember sitting there feeling guilty.  It was as if the letter “F” had been taped to my chest as I sat there in front of the A+ Christian. 

The week had been crazy.   With a preschooler, a toddler and a baby to fill my day there did not seem to be much time to accomplish the things on the accountability card.    Then there was the morning sickness; and even more worry – four kids in a five year span!  Are we nuts? 

The girls had all been sick the week before.  One night they had each thrown up faster than I could get laundry through the washing and drying cycles.   (Seems I have one that never vomits in a toilet – by a toilet but never IN one!)  The house was a mess, and with taking care of sick kids while I still was feeling less than perky myself had left me physically drained from energy to pick up the toys that seemed to multiply as they lay on the floor. 

Dinner had been brought in by a husband who could hear the desperation in my voice when he asked his daily question when he got ready to leave the office:  “So what’s for dinner?"  My reply had been the same several days that week, “I have not thought that far ahead.”  Store bought pizza has a way of making a stay at home Mom feel like a failure.  (Especially when there is more than one in the week’s garbage can sitting on the curb waiting for weekly pickup.)

The question seemed to scream again, “So, what have you done for God this week?” 

I remember thinking about how I could not have attended visitation that week.  How do you take a vomiting child into someone’s home and try to tell them the good news of the gospel?  No, I had not gone on visitation for God that week.  I had not handed out tracks to anyone – I had not even left the house the entire week.  There had been no time to sit down and read a Christian book, or minister or serve someone in the church.  I just had been home; I had been busy all week; but not doing anything spiritual like – leading souls to Christ or feeding the hungry.

“But God, I cleaned up more vomit from the floor than I ever care to clean up again… does that count?”   

   Then I started to wonder if taking care of sick children could be counted as something done for God?   
Almost immediately the Holy Spirit started ministering to my discouraged heart.  “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  The verse came to my mind; and I started to think.   I had lovingly cared for my sick girls.  I had lost sleep doing load upon load of soiled laundry.  I had wiped brows, prayed fervently that God would watch over them and heal them of their sickness.   I had cleaned my house, (even though the results were not clearly seen when you stepped in my front door).  I had kissed my husband when he walked in the door and told him I loved him (as I took the pizza box from his hands and plopped it on the table, but that is beside the point).

It has taken me years to realize that serving the Lord is a matter of learning to listen to the Holy Spirit as He leads and shows me what He has for me to do each day.  The Christian life is not supposed to be a competition to see who does the most.   That week the Holy Spirit had allowed me the opportunity of serving Him by getting on my hands and knees and cleaning behind the toilet, doing countless loads of laundry, reading stacks of golden books and watching Barney with a fevered child sitting on my lap (breathing less than desirable smelling breath in my face).  I had served God – and never left my house (and even a couple days not even gotten out of my pajamas!)

I love the passage in Mark 14 where Jesus and the disciples are eating together when a woman comes in and 'interrupts' their meal.  As soon as she reaches her Savior she empties out a box of expensive ointment on His head. In worship from her heart and out of great love she anoints the One who saved her from herself and her sin.  The disciples witness her worship and are horrified.  Expensive ointment that could have been sold for a lot of money and used for evangelistic purposes has been 'wasted' by this woman!  Jesus comes to her defense and silences the criticisms of the disciples by this one statement: "She hath done what she could..."

 I guess when it’s all said and done; that is what I want Him to say of me.   

“She hath done what she could...”

All I want is the view of His eyes to be that of joy when He looks at me.  I want my life to be lived graciously doing whatever He asks of me – knowing that He will strengthen and I will follow.  That the ones I help each week are not another tally mark on a check off sheet; but souls that felt the touch of the Master as I allowed Him to work through me.  I can serve the Lord and never leave my home if that is His will for me that week.  I can show the love of my Savior to my children as we go throughout our days.  I can just listen and follow as He leads – just doing what I can – with what I have, where I am – as He enables me. 

I see young moms with little ones under foot; and I want to tell them what took me so long to learn.  Being there for your kids when they need you – IS serving God.  It’s as needed as visitation, choir, counseling and even church cleaning! There may be those who will witness the time you spend raising your children - doing the mundane everyday things and think of how much time you are "wasting".  Perhaps they view the time it takes you to minister to your family like the disciples viewed the ointment that was poured out on Jesus.  Time that could have been spent for more spiritual work that is being wasted on the everyday.  Then, I hear the words of Jesus again, "She hath done what she could..." 

I would challenge you to look this week for how He would have you do what you can.  Follow His leading.  Will He ask of you to minister to a neighbor who is ill?  Do you hear His voice urging you to meet a need of a homeless person you pass while you’re in town?  Or perhaps, this week will be like mine years ago, He calls on you to care for the little ones whom He has entrusted into your care.  Do it for Him – do what you can.