Date Night Ideas

Why date night? Because you both work hard and deserve to play hard.  Date night is a scheduled break to keep your lines of communication from breaking down. It’s a time to dream, plan, and create together. Date night is a way of saying, “You are a priority to me.” Date night can be fun, productive, romantic, or silly. But being intentional about date night is a serious matter. Why date night? Why work? Why gym? Why chores? Because they are all important to the overall health of your marriage and family.

Date nights serve several purposes but one that is most important is fostering a feeling of lasting love. Being deliberate about date night is a simple way to invest in your marriage that yields great reward. Dating your spouse is a wonderful way to decompress from stress and strengthen your commitment to one another. Date nights give you something to look forward to and are a great way to share new experiences with your spouse. Below are a few date night ideas.

 

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If you don’t currently have a weekly date night here’s your chance. Grab your spouse and follow the steps below.

  1. Agree on a night of the week or day of the month to have a standing date night. 
  2. If you have small children, select another couple you could swap date nights with. (If you don’t have small children, pay it forward by offering to babysit so a couple can have a standing date night.)
  3. Create a plan by listing restaurants, local activities, and landmarks that interest you. Take turns with your spouse. Keep it handy so you are never at a loss for things to do.
  4.  Create a date night budget.
  5.  Ready, set, DATE! Be READY on time. SET boundaries with technology. (Take your date night selfie but wait to post. That way you can focus on being present and loving your spouse well.) DATE keep your word. Bear in mind that everything else you do in life like work, fitness, church activities, get done because they are standing activities. Date night is equally important.

What are some of your favorite date night ideas? Please share in the comment section below.

One of our favorites is playing the “Ungame for Couples” while waiting for dinner at a restaurant. It’s a non-competitive game that encourages listening.

 

Jenny & Buster Frith Revisit Their Vows

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To Have

Jenny Frith knows her husband, Buster. She knows his looks, when he needs to talk when he needs downtime, what drives him, his strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly she knows that he lives his life to serve God and their family.

To Hold

When Buster holds Jenny she feels secure, safe, and connected.

For Better or Worse

Something the Friths feel they can do better in their marriage is to take date nights and spend more time alone time together without the kids or any distractions. The worst year of their marriage was when their older kids were ages 1 and 2. “I was working full-time at night so I could keep them during the day.  I was missing seeing my husband, and I was exhausted because I would come in from work as he was leaving, and the kids were just getting up. Not seeing each other was the worst thing ever. I was emotionally and physically exhausted.”

For Richer or Poorer

As they talk about their relationship, it’s clear that the Friths are best friends and their marriage is rich in laughter and levity. They dance in the kitchen and laugh a lot. Jenny confesses, ” I love watching him read and study the Word- that is so hot to me! I love that he knows me. He knows when I need chocolate, he knows when I’m upset he’ll say, “come here,” and he gives me a big ole bear hug. I love spending time with him, I love my man.” Whenever there is poor communication between these two frustrations arise because they are big communicators. If something doesn’t seem right, they discuss it and get it solved. If there is a miscommunication, they believe in owning their fault so they can apologize and move forward. 

Through Sickness and in Health

The Friths are not strangers to sickness and health struggles. Jenny shares “There have been so many. We both helped take care of my grandmother as she aged.” She recalls a time in which her grandmother fell and broke her hip which led to her being wheelchair bound. Being picked up in her wheelchair and carried up the stairs to enter their home would frighten her grandmother so Buster singlehandedly built a large wooden portable ramp so Jenny’s grandmother would no longer have to worry. “It meant the world to me how he cared for her in that way.”

5 years ago, Jenny had breast cancer, and Buster never left her side. When she came home, she had to sleep propped up on a couch in their den because of her drains and Buster slept right there on the other couch just to be close to her. He cleaned the drains, cooked, took care of the kids, helped brush her hair, and helped her in the shower daily.

Last year, The Friths found out about a tumor on Buster’s pancreas. Jenny says, “He showed he had the strength and faith of a warrior. When he came out of surgery, he was so pale… He spoke quietly, “come here.” When I leaned in gently to give him a hug, he said, “I love you so much.”

The way the Friths maintain the health of their marriage is through communication and spending time together. “We work together to get things done and truly enjoy each other. We pray together each day and make God first in our marriage, family, and lives.”

To Love and to Cherish

Jenny, who was 15 years old when she first met Buster says, “we’ve always been friends, but marriage brought new experiences like finances, children, work, ministry, sickness, etc. I thought I knew what love was back when we were young, but I have grown to love him more deeply than I ever knew possible. “

The way Buster cherishes his wife is through supporting her in every way. Before he leaves for work, he kisses her on the head and tells her to have a great day and reminds her that he loves her. He also calls her during the day to check on her and the kids. From housework to homework he helps out daily, even after a long day at work. “I love that when he comes home, he will find me before he does anything else. He will come to wherever I am to find out about my day and hug me and kiss me as soon as he gets home. He always puts others first and has such a servant’s heart.”

 Til Death Do Us Part

When asked about to talk about how death makes Jenny appreciate her spouse she responds, “This last year was eye-opening for me (referring to sickness). We can talk about death and try to imagine it, but until it comes or we are faced with an attack, we

simply cannot imagine how overwhelming and gripping it is to experience even the thought of truly losing your spouse.”

Though the spot on her husband’s pancreas was discovered a year ago and has since been removed. She vividly recalls what it was like to receive the news. “I had to literally sit down as I received the call. I knew he had not looked well and was having abdominal pain and of course, being a nurse immediately thought of pancreatic cancer.  That phone call literally took my breath away. I had to go and sit down at my kitchen table and ask the nurse to repeat what she just said. I heard it, but I needed to process it. I had to leave immediately and go get orders for another scan to be done at the hospital. As I got into my car, I started saying, “this is not happening” out loud.” The thought of losing her husband was too much to bear.

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Something Old Something New

When asked to share some old school advice Buster refers to scripture, In 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul tells us to pray continuously and give thanks in all circumstances, for that is Gods will for our lives.” Buster adds “in marriage, we should pray continuously together, as a display of unity in our appreciation for His many blessings, regardless of what we might be going through.” 

 He continues with some new school advice for husbands, “Youll commonly hear the old saying happy wife, happy lifebut don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the words or trapped into believing that her happiness is fueled by material things. Your wife has a fundamental need to know shes loved, cherished, and appreciated. A light touch as you walk by or an unsolicited compliment on her looks or what she’s wearing lets her know that she is noticed. Listening to her and holding her when she’s upset (even if shes upset with you) shows you care.” Buster believes that if a man really wishes to show commitment to investing in a marriage that arranging a surprise date night or weekend away sends a strong message. “When the pace of our world (especially if you have children) makes you feel too busy unselfishly spending time together and small displays of affection strengthen the bonds of marriage in ways a new house, car, or diamond ring cannot.

 Something Borrowed

 Once while preparing to teach a couples’ class about expectations, Jenny and Buster realized that even though they had been married for more than 10 years, they were guilty of letting misplaced expectations cause division within their own family. As they taught they learned strategies for communicating expectations. As they set out to pour into the couples in the class, God used the information they were sharing on expectations to not only strengthen their marriage, but also their relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. 

Something Blue (something extra just for fun)

Buster has a brilliant strategy of finding out what’s going on with his wife. He has learned to listen to their children who are homeschooled because they are his wife most of the day. By listening to their kids, he can tell if she is stressed or simply needs encouragement. Buster says, “my daughters occasionally greet me when I come home and quietly inform me about something she is struggling with. Those are the days she especially needs to know she’s loved, cherished, and appreciated.

A question that Buster would like for his wife to answer is, “What is one aspect of our lives we could change to make our marriage and family stronger?” and a question that Jenny would like for her husband to answer is “What is something I can do to make your life easier?” When asked if they would do it all over again Jenny and Buster referred to a sign they have hanging in their bathroom, “If I had my life to do over again… I’d find you sooner so I could love you longer.” They said they would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

 

For the reader: What question would you like to ask this couple?

 

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Jay & Katie Wilson Revisit Their Vows

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To Have

Katie describes her husband, Jay as being “the even to my uneven, the sweet to my salty, the order to my chaos, the calm to my stormy, and the tame to my wild. ” She seemed both thrilled and surprised that he still thinks she’s funny after 24 years. She knows he is the perfect guy for her because he can sleep soundly while she moves a million times while trying to get to sleep. Katie says, “unlike Jerry Mcguire, he doesn’t complete me, only Jesus does that, but we are most definitely better together.” 

To Hold

The 3 words that go through Katie’s head when she is in Jay’s arms is, I am picked!

For Better or Worse

One thing the Wilsons feel they could do better in their marriage is to cook and eat meals at home. They couldn’t really recall the worst year of their marriage, but Katie can remember the hardest. “The year my mom was sick and dying in Memphis, I had to be there a lot. My oldest son had his “wild” (but short-praise God) phase, and Jay had to travel internationally a ton. I’ve never felt so “out of any sort of control,” like a horrible daughter, mom, and wife all at once.” Katie admits that through the power of hindsight, “I see clearly that Jesus never took His hand off the wheel and I was not a complete failure in the roles God entrusted me with.” Katie was present when her mom peacefully passed away. Their son survived the crazy season, and her precious Jay continued to provide and be present while working from another continent.

For Richer or for Poorer

After 24 years the Wilsons share that their marriage is rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, and intimacy. When there is poor communication between Katie and Jay, she becomes physically distant, overly sensitive and has a hard time talking. “The enemy tries to capitalize on division.” Katie has developed a strategy to defeat the devil in this area. “Whenever I recognize that we are fighting a spiritual battle I do exactly opposite of what I feel like doing. So if I don’t feel like talking, we talk, and if I don’t feel like connecting physically, we connect.” She found that the sooner she does that, the faster the devil flees.

Through Sickness and in Health

Through the sickness and death of Katie’s mom, the Wilsons are more dependent on God, more than ever. “We had to depend on Him to guide and hold our kids when we were not as present as we wanted to be. We had to trust God for guidance, comfort, wisdom,  and peace as we traveled; sat in hospital rooms, boardrooms, classrooms, and funeral homes. What the enemy banked on taking us out with only made us stronger, more tightly knit as a family bound together by the scarlet thread of Christ!”

Due to Jay’s travel throughout their marriage, the Wilsons have been very intentional about date night and communication. “We’ve never taken the gift of presence for granted. Something that could have been a hindrance (Jay’s travel for work) only helped us in the end. Only Jesus can do that time and time again!” Absence has undoubtedly made this couple’s heart grow fonder.

To Love and to Cherish

Katie, who is an artist paints a picture of what love looked like to her before marriage. “I saw rainbows, unicorns, and butterflies as what marriage was supposed to be, but now that I’m married I see much much more. The rainy seasons made double rainbows with colors more vibrant than neon Crayola. There is NO ONE I’d rather weather a storm with than my Jay! The unicorn fairytale set me up to believe that happily ever after was possible. But, the Love Story Christ was coauthoring with us was far better than an imaginary kingdom. We are princes and princesses in a REAL LIFE STORY set in a Heavenly Kingdom within us! The beauty of a butterfly is even more spectacular when you experience metamorphosis together! I used to think marriage was the destination but now realize it’s all about the journey.”

One of the ways that Jay builds his wife up is through affirming her with words, but he doesn’t stop there he also offers her the gift of presence. “He has taken the red-eye for business on many occasions just to stick around and hear me give a talk at church or at a conference.” Once when Katie was teaching water aerobics, Jay came to her class on his day off, fully engaged. Whether it’s supporting her through commenting on a blog she has written, hanging a work of art in his office she has created or being at the finish line for every race she has ever won… Jay is so present that he has even occasionally stepped out of a business meeting to listen to his wife share a poem she wrote when it was hot off the press. 

Til Death Do Us Part

Katie’s response to the question “How does the thought of death make you appreciate your spouse?”, was a pleasant surprise. “Honestly, I don’t think about our deaths. I appreciate every second we have. My nature is not a worrier and I know I’ll spend eternity in Heaven with him and Heaven will be perfect beyond imagination, so I live today with great expectation but fully present in the here and now, as one.

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Something Old Something New

Jay’s old school advice is a classic, “Never go to bed mad at each other!  I did not even realize this was biblical advice, but it was also the words of wisdom shared with us by my grandparents before we were married.” Jay’s new school advice was the perfect contemporary response, Don’t substitute electronics, texts, emails or even FaceTime for real face time with your spouse!”

*Couples, please note, that if you don’t take Jay’s new school advice, you might find yourself in need of his old school advice.   

Something Borrowed Something Blue (Something extra just for fun)

Jay’s borrowed advice is “Always respect your wife!” Jay’s advice to husbands is “Don’t bring your work-related pressures and problems home with you, but also don’t bottle things that only your best friend can help you deal with.”

Jay’s question for his wife is, “What is the one thing we enjoy most about each other?” Katie’s question for her husband is, What is the number one thing you learned from your parents about marriage that you have carried into ours?” If the Wilsons had the chance to do it all over again, they wouldn’t change a thing because they can’t.

For the reader: What is your question for this couple?

 

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Afraid to Fall

Yesterday I went to a 1980’s/1990’s themed skate party. Prior to then, I am not sure when was the last time I wore skates. It was probably in the 80’s or 90’s. I was praying that skating was like bike riding, hoping that the moment I tied that awkward bow, I would magically know how to skate again.

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As a mom of 6, who has had a knee surgery and double foot surgery, the thought of skating slightly terrified me. Allow me to clarify, skating wasn’t what scared me, falling is what frightened me. Memories of air blowing in my face, loud music and laser lights excited me; but the memory of falling made me hesitant. Who would care for my kids if I hurt myself? What would happen if I dislocated my knee? What if I re-injured my feet? Is 40 too old to be rolling around a rink?

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All my fears subsided when my husband grabbed my hand, led me to the floor and said, “Come on Babe, trust me, you won’t fall.” Like a goofy, gullible kid, I trusted him and guess what? I did not fall. After rolling around the rink a few times my shins started to burn, but other than that, it was smooth sailing. We had an amazing time!

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We shared a memory that would not exist if I did not allow him to lead me. We laughed, danced, rapped and sang as we skated the night away. I wish I could tell you that skating is like riding a bike but I can not. What I can tell you is that life is like skating. Don’t allow your fear of falling to keep you from living.

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Falling would not have meant that I was a  hopeless cause. Falling would have actually meant that I was one step closer to my goal of finding balance. Seeking stability is not much different from falling while skating. You fall, laugh, dust yourself off and let the lover of your soul lead you back into the circle of life.

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Your shins may burn, but that is just because you are exercising (faith) muscles that haven’t been used regularly. Keep trusting, keep skating and fight the urge to focus on falling. Make it your aim to find balance so you can enjoy the experience.

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To find out more about our marriage read my previous blog entitled:

Anniversary Q&A

Invisible Diner

My husband and I stopped for breakfast at a not so fancy restaurant. We were in a tiny town in Tennessee. We sat down at the counter, and I am sure we stood out. The service was good, the food was fantastic, and all was fine until Melvin said “Ma’am, is that our check?” The lady hushed him with a strange look and acted as though we were invisible. It was awkward but I had peace but only because just seconds before everyone was so warm and friendly.

She gave her full attention to the other patron and whispered something to our waitress about us. Once the other customer left the building, magically we were no longer invisible. She could see us and she even spoke to us again. She said, “I’m sorry, but that man insisted that I let him take care of your bill, and not say anything about it until he left.”

As we all sighed a sigh of relief and laughed; I wondered to myself, “What, other than our skin color, could have made us stand out from anyone else at that counter?” The only answer I could come up with was that we held hands and blessed our food before we ate. Thanks kind stranger!  Sadly, we live in a country that tries to make everything about race when most of the time the issue is light vs darkness.

I shared this on Facebook in December of 2015. I wanted to share because it received so much engagement. Hope it warmed your heart during this holiday season. Be the light and let love always be your highest aim!

What’s Left

Have you ever encountered,

A love so pure,

That it looks beyond your sickness,

And straight to the cure? 

One who knows your beginning,

Yet sees your end. 

One who lets love cover,

Instead of seeing your sin? 

Maybe you’ve wondered,

Can such a love be found? 

When darkness surrounds you,

Love’s light will abound. 

Maybe such a love sounds rather odd. 

If our hearts don’t condemn us,

Then we have confidence towards God. 

Whatever is condemning you,

Just let it go.

Guilty ground,

Is no place to grow. 

Every flower that I’ve seen,

Has gone through some dirt. 

They know what it is like,

To endure when it hurts. 

Broken clouds,

Will bring forth life’s rains. 

You will break through the soil,

And heal from the pain.

The battle is not yours,

So don’t even fight. 

Joy will soon come,

With the morning light. 

Although you can’t take back,

The words that were said. 

You can take captive

The voices in your head. 

Yesterday is gone

And tomorrow may not come. 

At the end of the day,

What’s done is done. 

Choose your words wisely,

And cherish every breath. 

Don’t focus on what is lost,

Focus on what is left. 

Something to Love

When I was little I wondered if I was adopted. My personality was so different from my siblings; adoption was the only explanation for my pensiveness. I was a melancholy middle child who was always aware that I was different.

The irony is, I looked just like my father’s side of the family. So, I knew I was at least his. The older I got, I started to look like my mom, there went my adoption theory… Alas, I was hers also. I had no idea of what to do about my inner yearning to belong. What do you do when you feel like you just don’t fit?

I found something to love. I loved my stuffed animals, baby dolls, Barbies and I babysat. I had best friends, boyfriends and bold dreams of someday having a big family. Fast forward into my future, I am now a married mom of six.

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My youngest three sons are adopted, they are ages, six, seven and eight. As much as my childhood adoption daydream was my answer to “being different,” for them I wonder if it is what makes them question if they fit in.

When our boys are feeling forlorn, I am the first to notice. I can detect when they feel dejected and naturally it burdens my heart. Hands that were made to help, have often been used to hurt and steal. I prayed and prayed to God for answers and He showed me, they need something to love.

I went to the local thrift store and found three little stuffed bears. I brought them home, put them in the washer and told our boys the bears needed someone to handle them with care. The boys were exhilarated. The eight year old named his bear after himself and said he would call him, “Junior.

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Our first trip to the store with our newfound friends was the most stress-free experience we have ever had in public. I kept thinking, “Wow! I wish I would have given them bears when they were one, two and three.” Someone asked me, “Aren’t they too old for bears?” My response was, “We are never too old to learn how to care and we all need something to love.”

The same God who prompted a precious birth mom to share the gift of life, compelled someone to donate three little bears to fill a void in our boy’s lives. If your heart is longing for something, take note, it’s not always about what you can get. It is more blessed to give than to receive. Our boys did not need another lifeless object, they needed something they could pour their lives into.

Love you to life!

Toya

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Our three little bears when they were one, two and three.