Monthly Archives: April 2014

The More We Get Together

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Alone Time. Quiet Time. Me Time. On Time.

These phrases in my vocabulary have been replaced with things like Bed Time, Bath Time, No Time and Time Out.

A friend of mine recently posted “Nap Time = God’s Grace to Mothers”.

Amen, Sister.

These days, the most time I get to myself is probably in the bathroom and even that isn’t a guarantee. When Nature calls she seems to beckon an audience as well, be it a child or a dog or all of the above. I know you moms out there feel me because I hear you and your little audience in the stalls next to me.

The story of Jesus and the disciples crossing the lake in Luke 8 so resonates with The Mom in me. Jesus was tired, as He should be from all the walking and preaching and loving He was doing, so he lay down for a nap. But while He was asleep a storm came upon them and the disciples freaked. “They rushed over and woke him up. ‘Master, Master, we are sinking!’ they screamed.” (Luke 8:24)

Of course, Jesus was not concerned. He simply told the wind and waves to “quiet down” and they did. Then turning to the disciples said, “Where is your faith?” (vs. 25)

I try to say things like that to my kids, only it’s more like, where is your head?

Needless to say, Alone Time with anyone (including myself) became a rare commodity once I became a mother. As I’ve recently confessed, time alone with my husband is hard to come by in this season of life and the truth is, so is my time alone with Jesus.

Oh how I used to spend an easy hour with the Savior and Lover of my soul… Early in the morning while the world was still. Hot cup of coffee. Comfy reading chair. I’d pray, journal, cry a little. It was cozy and intimate and special.

Then came Motherhood.

Pulling all-nighter after all-nighter with a newborn makes it rather difficult to rise before dawn to spend an hour in prayer and Bible study. Even through the toddler and school-aged years it seems there either aren’t enough hours in the day or not enough fuel in my tank to make it happen. Like Jesus in the boat, I’m tired and I want a nap.

The fact that I struggled with this embarrassed me. Good Christian moms spend at least an hour a day in prayer for their children, don’t they? I felt so incredibly guilty, I dare not share this secret with anyone.

I thought I HAD to be alone for my quiet time, in that special place. The Rule Follower in me wanted to force it to happen “like it’s supposed to.”  The idea of spending a mere five minutes reading and praying left me feeling ashamed. I felt Jesus was disappointed with me, that I wasn’t juggling all the Pins of Motherhood well enough if I couldn’t even keep my scheduled time with The Savior Who Died for Me. I felt I was failing as a Christian and a mother.

But The Holy Spirit knew my secret.

“Do you think God is upset with you or do you think The Creator of the Universe might possibly understand the season you’re in? Don’t you see? Even Jesus’ relationship with The Father changed when He left heaven to spend 33 years on earth. It’s okay that your time with Me looks different. I want it to.”

“This is a new season with a new way.”
~Angela Thomas
Author, 52 Things Kids Need from a Mom

Girls, by God’s grace The Spirit has spoken truth to my heart and removed my guilt! Though I’m still a work in progress, these truths have liberated me more than I can say—I’m finally out of the box! (Or at least I’m starting the climb.)

If you’re struggling like I was, I pray this post will bring comfort and freedom to your heart as well. We have more in common with Jesus than we think…

Jesus’ time with The Father changed, so it’s okay if mine does, too. Jesus, once by His Father’s side, face to face, walking and talking with Him—One with Him—willingly gave up that intimacy to become a man and live amongst God’s children.

“Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God.”
~ John 1:1 (Living)

“I and The Father are one.”
~John 10:30

Talk about a change! Jesus gave up the best seat in the house for two reasons:
1—His love for The Father

“Father, the time has come. Reveal the glory of Your Son so that He can give the glory back to You.”
~John 17:1

2—His love for us

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Live within my love.”
~ John 15:9

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
~ John 15:13

If Jesus could give up the comfort of Heaven and change His ways, then I can do no less. Remember, Jesus said, “A slave isn’t greater than his master!” (John 15:20). I must embrace this season and all its change if I want to be effective.

Imagine if Jesus had tried to live on earth as He did in heaven, demanding a crown and a throne with angels flanking every side. He didn’t! Rather, He changed and became like us in order to reach us, because He loves us.

“Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, you must change and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’
~Matthew 18:3

I love my children, so I will change my ways, too. I will become like them with a childlike spirit and faith so that I may reach them with the Gospel of Christ.

Jesus shared His relationship with The Father, with His children. Jesus openly showed His disciples and everyone around Him how to love and honor The Father.

“Jesus said, ‘Pray along these lines: Our Father in heaven, we honor Your Holy Name. We ask that Your kingdom will come now. May Your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food again today, as usual, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. Don’t bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One. Amen.’”
~ Matthew 6:9-13

“Jesus took the five loaves and two fish and looked up into the sky and gave thanks…”
~ Luke 9:16

“I am the Agent of my Father in everything…”
~ Luke 10:22

I get to share my relationship with Jesus—and my husband—with my kids. My love for both God and my kids’ earthly father should be an open book because my children are watching me, learning how to love them, too. I must model honor and respect for both Jesus and my husband if I expect my kids to do the same. Whether I like it or not, they do as I do, not as I say.

“I will be careful to lead a blameless life…I will walk in my house with blameless heart.”
~ Psalm 101:2

“You must be an example to them of good deeds of every kind. Let everything you do reflect your love of the truth and the fact that you are dead earnest about it.”
~Titus 2:7

Jesus was rarely alone with The Father and that was a good thing. Although Jesus “often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer,” (Luke 5:16), He was constantly with His disciples, giving them a living example to follow because He knew He wouldn’t always be with them. My kids are my disciples and I will not always be with them, either. They are following in my footsteps today—literally! (Enter the bathroom audience, stage left.) Being with me 24-7, I realize they are either learning or not learning how to love Jesus, to serve Him and include Him in their day, their life.

“…He took Peter, James, and John with Him into the hills to pray.”
~Luke 9:28

“Then, accompanied by the disciples, He left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives…He walked away, perhaps a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed…”
~Luke 22:39-41

“…Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
~ John 15:15b

There’s many a time this blog is written with a toddler in my lap, reaching for the keys as I type one-handed. (As I type this very sentence there’s a two year old to my immediate right, beating the dog with a chocolate bunny-on-a-stick and shouting, “No! No! Ma’am!” How’s that for solitude and focus?)

Since scripture reveals Jesus was rarely alone, away from his disciples, I realize there must be a happy medium for me as well. I can either find a way to be flexible in my faith walk OR let my kids become an excuse to put it away completely. (Sorry Jesus, see ya after graduation!)

The truth is there will always be an excuse not to do it.

“Parenthood is quite a long word. I expect it contains the rest of my life.”
~Karen Scott Boates

I don’t have to keep my Quiet Time “quiet.”  What used to be an hour of solitude and prayer has become a 10-minute devotional read—if I’m able to rise before the clan, because I’m never guaranteed that much time alone in the mornings. I’m not even guaranteed a shower every day. (I KNOW I’m not alone on this one—just yesterday a fellow mom at Walmart testified to this with me!)

If that quick time alone with Jesus (or my shower) doesn’t happen, I don’t fret. I simply throw on a hat and find another way to spend time with Him that also includes my children. I’ve adopted the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality. Rather than try to keep them out, I invite them in.

“But Jesus called the children to Him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’
~Luke 18:16

“Then Jesus took the children in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.”
~Mark 10:16

One trick I’ve recently discovered is reading the kids a quick children’s devotional while they are in the tub. It’s not uncommon for me to read to them while they splash, but this way we all spend time in God’s Word. I am using the book Momma used with my brother and me, “The One Year Devotional for Kids.” It has daily readings that include scripture, a short story and discussion questions.

Before my kids were old enough for this, I would bring music to the tub. I didn’t realize this could be considered “quiet time,” but now I see that it is. A “Quite Time” is merely a focused, intentional time with Jesus—but it doesn’t have to be quiet! Turn on your favorite worship music or find a fun kids worship cd. Pandora also has kids’ worship stations.

Physical and spiritual cleansing can happen simultaneously!

If I abide in Him, He will abide in me.

“Abide in Me, and I in you.”
~John 15:4

Here’s the kicker. What I thought would be a lesson on time management and prioritizing has actually been a spiritual growth spurt in abiding.

The lump sum of it all is this: learning what it means to abide in Him, finding practical ways to abide, and understanding how He abides in me.

“Abide” literally means to remain, continue, or stay. God is able to remain with us continually (omnipotent), stay beside us throughout our day (omnipresent), and be part of each moment and breath (omniscient). This is the very nature of who He is and how He abides in us.

I on the other hand, must be intentional if I want to abide in Him. My nature is to abide in myself, so each day I must choose to mindfully walk with Jesus and listen for His voice. It takes a purposeful attitude and deliberate action, but He gives me the power to do both.

“Then Jesus said, ’Anyone who wants to follow me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carry his cross with him every day and keep close to me!’
~Luke 9:23

Abiding happens when I “keep close” to Jesus in my actions and thoughts. When the kids and I sing along to our favorite Veggietales worship cd we are abiding in Him. When we spend a quick second reading a scripture I’ve strategically plastered around the house, we are abiding in Him. When we turn on Christian radio outside while we play or Pandora on my phone as we clean, cook, etc., we are abiding in Him.

“Jesus said, ‘If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this…’

~John 15:7-8

So Jesus, You mean I can actually bring glory to God by exchanging soothing, quiet solitude for loud, noisy, interrupted time with You?

Yes!

Hallelujah!!!!

Sister-Moms, We Can Do This! Contrary to the way our legalistic, fleshly minds tend to think, God is not out to make life harder than it naturally is. He loves us and is on our side!

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
~Romans 8:31

Just like my Quite Time doesn’t have to be “quiet”, Family Devotion Time doesn’t have to be either. That June Cleaver, black-and-white portrait painted in my head is just not going down in this house. You know, the one where all the children are clean and dressed, seated mannerly around the dinner table as Father calmly reads The Word aloud?

If that’s not likely in your house either, it’s okay! God is more pleased with joyful, heartfelt noise than heartless, perfect somberness.

“Make a joyful shout to The Lord…serve The Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.”
~Psalm 100:1-2

“Therefore The Lord said, ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me…’”
~Isaiah 29:13

So bang the pots and clang the pans! Swing from the monkey bars and splash in the tub! Be mindful of Jesus and include Him in whatever you do! What matters is not that it’s perfect, just that it happens.

“The thing that shapes them more deeply is that you and I pursue God in the everyday of living—that our spiritual lives become the backdrop for their childhood.”
~ Angela Thomas

Remember my life motto for this season?—Just go with it. I am still learning to do this. On those rare occasions when that calm, quiet morning with Jesus does happen, I relish in it. It is sweet and it deepens my love for Him even more, just like a rare Date Night does with my husband.

The key is to be okay either way, to enjoy whatever I get. Like I tell my kids, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. I’m finding time together can be just as rewarding as time alone. As the song says, “The more we get together the happier we’ll be.” Indeed.

“What will your children remember? Moments spent listening, talking, playing, and sharing together may be the most important times of all.”
~Gloria Gaither

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition.”
~ Samuel Johnson

Sometimes I refer to my children as “Gift” and “Reward” because that is what they are! (Psalm 127:3) And, sometimes I need that reminder. I have been entrusted with two little “vacant souls,” to teach and lead in the ways of The Lord. I want to do my very best in this, even in the midst of chaos and noise. I know I will never be a perfect parent, but if I abide in Jesus and He abides in me, they will see Him in me and my prayers for them will be answered.

Look at the last part of John 15:7 again. “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

My wish is that my children will love Jesus even more than I love Him. That they know the joy of His salvation, hear His call to service and find His plan for their lives. That they boldly proclaim The Truth and are a blessing to their generation.

If you have the same wish for your children, won’t you pray this prayer with me?

Lord Jesus, I want to intentionally share You with my children, regardless of what we are doing or where we are at. I want them to be able to recognize You when I’m not around to point You out. And that they not only recognize You, but feel comfortable with You, too. If this desire of mine can be fulfilled by abiding in You—Lord, help me abide! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

~ Jessie

“O God, You have given me a vacant soul, an untaught conscience, a life of clay. Put Your big hands around mine and guide my hands so that every time I make a mark on this life, it will be Your mark.”
~Gloria Gaither

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Resurrection Reflection

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As I write this it is Resurrection Eve, the day before Easter.  It’s been a busy week and an even busier day.  We’ve dyed and hunted eggs, baked Resurrection Rolls, shared time with family–all the usual activities Easter brings.  But amidst the busyness and hurry-hurry of the day, my heart has been heavy and full.

I wonder what the disciples and followers of Jesus felt like on the very first Resurrection Eve?

Confused?  Fearful?  Doubtful ? Angry?  Depressed?  Foolish?

They had believed Jesus was who He said He was.  They had left everything behind and followed Him when He called.  They had trusted Him, given up their lives for Him.  They watched as He healed blind men right before their eyes, as the lame stood and walked, the dead rose to life.

How could it be that He was dead?

How could Jesus have healed lepers, cast out demons, saved tax collectors and robbers but then  couldn’t  save Himself?  Did they feel duped?  Had it all been a dream?  Did they wonder what they were thinking to have ever believed Jesus was really the Son of God?

How could Jesus give eternal life if He was dead?

I can’t help but think the disciples and family and followers of Jesus questioned Him on this day so long ago.  Sometimes I think of people in Jesus’ day as being somehow super-human, not toying with the emotions and feelings that weigh me down today.  But surely they had to!  Jesus was gone, as far as they were concerned, and though He tried to prepare them, scripture gives no implication that they awaited Jesus’ resurrection.  This is what they did instead…

  • “[The women] went home and prepared spices and ointments to embalm Him…but by the time they finished it was the Sabbath, so they rested all that day as required by the Jewish law.” (Luke 23:56)
  • Peter denied ever even knowing Jesus. (Luke 22:56-62)
  • Judas hanged himself. (Matthew 27:3-5)
  • They were sad and doubtful, even on the third day. (Luke 24:17-24)

What those Believers felt that day is what a lot of us still feel today.

Anger when God doesn’t come through for us when we think He should.

Disappointment when it seems Jesus isn’t living up to our expectations.

Foolishness for believing the Son of God could ever really love us.

Doubtful of His plan for our lives and His authority in the world.

Friend, if you’ve felt these things toward Jesus, you’re not alone. 

 

Even John the Baptist doubted.

“He sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask him, ‘Are you really the Messiah? Or shall we keep on looking for him?'” ~Luke 7:19

Jesus said, “Blessed is the one who does not lose his faith in me.” ~Luke 7:23

The men and women who traveled with Jesus and saw with their own eyes the things He did, found it hard to believe at times.

“And [the disciples] were filled with awe and fear of Him and said to one another, ‘Who is this man, that even the winds and waves obey him?'” ~Luke 8:25

“Then, turning to the twelve disciples, He said quietly, ‘How privileged you are to see what you have seen. Many a prophet and king of old has longed for these days, to see and hear what you have seen and heard!‘” ~Luke 10:23-24

“We had thought He was the glorious Messiah and that He had come to rescue Israel.” ~Luke 24:21

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘You are such foolish, foolish people!‘” ~Luke 24:25

Vulnerable, desperate souls reached for Jesus, though it felt He was miles away.

“…A woman who wanted to be healed came up behind and touched Him…” ~Luke 8:43

“‘Daughter,” He said, ‘your faith has healed you. Go in peace.‘” ~Luke 8:48

 

“But the corrupt tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed…” ~Luke 18:13

I tell you, this sinner…returned home forgiven!” ~Luke 18:14

 

Regardless of what you’ve experienced up to this point, Jesus is who He says He is.  He is who God says He is (Luke 3:22).  His deity and authority are not affected by our unbelief.  He Is Life for He is the only One who can resurrect the dead, not just by raising others but by raising Himself.  In all of history there is no religion that can boast such a claim.  All the founders or prophets of the other world religions are dead men; Jesus is the only Living King.

Recently, I’ve run across a few intellectual disbelievers who simply cannot fathom what I believe.  Here are common arguments proposed against Jesus’ resurrection and a bit of factual evidence against each.

  1. Jesus was unconscious and later revived.– Nope.  A Roman soldier told Pilate Jesus was dead (Mark 15:44-45); the Roman soldiers didn’t break Jesus’ legs because He was dead and one even pierced his side with a spear (John 19:32-34); Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus wrapped Jesus’ body and placed it in the tomb (John 19:38-40).
  2. The women made a mistake and went to the wrong tomb.– Not hardly.  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus saw Jesus placed in the tomb (Matt. 27:59-61, Mark 15:47, Luke 23:55); on Sunday morning, Peter and John also went to the same tomb (John 20:3-9).
  3. Unknown thieves stole Jesus’ body.– No way.  The tomb was sealed and guarded by the Temple police and probably Roman soldiers, too (Matt. 27:65-66).
  4. The disciples stole Jesus’ body.– Not likely.  The disciples were ready to die for their faith.  Stealing Jesus’ body would have been admitting their faith was meaningless (Acts 12:2).
  5. The religious leaders stole Jesus’ body to secure it.– Seriously?!  If the religious leaders had taken Jesus’ body, they would have produced it to stop the rumor of his resurrection (Matt. 27:62-64).

This evidence proves Jesus’ uniqueness in history and that He is God’s Son.  No one else was able to predict his own resurrection and then accomplish it!

Jesus can not only resurrect Himself, He can also resurrect you.  Your life.  Your marriage.  Your family.  Your hopes.  Your soul.  He’s proven Himself faithful, even though there was a day when it all seemed a sham.

Oh friend, turn to Jesus.

Even if it seems foolish.

Even if your family or friends tell you it’s not real.

Even if your hope of True Love has been shattered.

Even if doubt seems to outweigh faith.

You Are Loved By God.  You Are Worth Saving, Jesus Loves You That Much.  The Father Has Promised To Accept Jesus’ Death On Your Behalf And Give You Life.

Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” ~ Romans 10:13 

Believer, THIS is the HOPE we have in JESUS!  THIS is THE GOOD NEWS WE GET TO SHARE!

“He has come back to life again!” ~Luke 24:6

No more sulking.  No more disappointment. Jesus is ALIVE and there is JOY in that!

“Don’t be afraid! Though I am the First and Last, the Living One who died, who is now alive forevermore, who has the keys of hell and death–don’t be afraid!”

~Revelation 1:18

Share this hope with those around you and you, too, will witness the dead resurrected.

Happy Resurrection Day, Friends!

Jessie 🙂

 

Date Night Dilemma

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Remember the Johnson & Johnson ads with the tag line, “A baby…changes everything”?  Well, they used to scare me.

They scared me because change scares me.

I really enjoyed my life before kids, before I became a mother and “decided forever to have my heart go walking around outside my body,” as Elizabeth Stone put it. I loved the way Stevie-P (that’s The Hubs) and I had time to ourselves. We went on dates, spontaneous weekend getaways and took vacations. Sure, we worked and had crazy schedules like we do now, but we were free to spend our time as we wished.

Thus, we (and by “we” I mean “I”) wanted to wait a while before starting our family. Our eighth wedding anniversary fell a week after Prestridge Baby #1 was born and as predicted, that sweet baby girl changed everything.

I don’t say this as a bad thing, it’s just reality. Change is a fact of life. There are seasons for everything, just as God’s word says.

 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

Fast-forward to the present season of my life. Prestridge Baby #1 is almost 7 (SEVEN!) and Prestridge Baby #2 just turned two. My life’s drama is kindergarten and Pull Ups. Our house is loud and messy and our schedules are full. “Alone Time” is scarce and “Date Night” has vanished. But I wouldn’t change anything about our crazy life, for this is the season we are in and God is faithful.

That said, let me confess one tiny thing: Sometimes I’m tempted to forget this and I often succumb to the temptation.

A couple weeks ago as I lay dying with strep throat, Facebook scrolling was about all I could muster. It was a Friday and it seemed couple after couple was posting “Date Night” plans and pictures. It didn’t take long for The Pity Party to swing into full effect.

“We NEVER go on dates anymore,” the forlorn voice in my head said. “It’s not fair! All these other couples get to go out—even the ones with kids. When will we get to? Poor Pitiful Us.”

Is it possible there is simply a season of life in which Date Night is just not realistic? No money, little time off, no reliable sitter, sick babies…? A season when even “scheduled” time together “after the kids are in bed” isn’t always feasible?

I believe such a season exists because I am living it.

If you’re one who gets a weekly date night or monthly getaway, this post isn’t intended to make you feel guilty—I’m not hatin’. This post is simply for the silent majority of us who do NOT enjoy such a luxury, who may need to gain a healthy perspective on The Date Night Demand being preached by every social and religious outlet in society. This isn’t another sermon on why you SHOULD have a Date Night; this is about why it’s okay NOT to.

No one ever talks about the “No-Date Night” years and how to embrace them or how they can actually be GOOD for your relationship. At least all I seem to hear is how “crucial” Date Night and Alone Time are for the health of a marriage. Not that I disagree, but if our marriage is only to survive because of our uninterrupted daily or weekly “Alone Time”, we are in serious trouble!

I talked with my husband at length about this and believe it or not, he’s in agreement. We both feel this unrealistic pressure to have scheduled time together or else we’re doing something wrong. But as we talked, we realized that all of the healthy marriages we know of do not have a standing, regular Date Night practice; they struggle with this just like we do. In fact, we realized our own parents didn’t have Date Nights when we were kids—and they’re still married—TO EACH OTHER. We have no memories of our parents going on weekly dates or taking trips without us. What we do remember is our parents spending time with Jesus, praying and reading God’s Word. We remember them spending time with us, too, having dinner together at the table or (gasp!) in front of the TV. We remember taking family vacations with our grandparents and attending church fellowships at others’ homes, playing outside while the grownups visited.

So what is this sudden fascination our generation has with Date Night? Why do we as healthy couples feel obligated to implement this ritual at all cost? Is this a scriptural concept or command; Thou shall honor Date Night and keep it holy?

Date Night is a fantastic, encouraging concept, no doubt, but when “dates” become an added “to do” I must calendar and check off in order to attain The Perfect Christian Couple status, then what good does that really serve? That is called Legalism and it typically elicits two emotions: Pride or Guilt.  I’m not fond of either.

I decided to ask Momma her thoughts on Date Night. She says the “No-Date Night” years ABSOLUTELY exist and they are the season in which your marriage grows the most. It is in those times of stress, crisis or trials, when Alone Time is hard to come by that your love is forced to endure and withstand. The result: a stronger bond and deeper love.

So… it’s not “dates” that make our love stronger but rather, the lack thereof?

Precisely.

Perhaps part of the problem is that couples simply aren’t prepared for the “No-Date Night” season. There is little discussion of how parenthood largely consists of sacrifice and unselfish love, putting the family unit first. Rather, the climbing divorce rate has shifted our focus toward the couple and away from the family as a whole. We have a generation of young adults who believe “living together” is the way to prepare for marriage and family and this saddens me.

There is no “testing the waters” when it comes to marriage. As a couple, we must go All In. We are in this season of life together; it’s not “yours and mine” or “maybe we’ll make it, maybe we won’t.”  As parents, we must be invested in our kids. If that means sacrificing our plans and spending our nights in, laughing and sharing our time with them, then so be it. As parents with young children, our God-given priority for this season is to raise “Kingdom Kids”, as Tony Evans calls them. This season is about equipping them for life, not fulfilling our own.

 

“Teach [these commandments] to your children. Talk about them when you are sitting at home, when you are out walking, at bedtime, and before breakfast!”
~ Deuteronomy 11:19

“Then He said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.’
~ Luke 9:23

“Remember, you are not managing an inconvenience. You are raising a human being.”
~ Kittie Franz

We have become a cart-before-the-horse society and it’s destroying our families. The time to “work on your marriage” is not after you have children, it is before! You can’t make preserves with rotten fruit; you can it while the fruit is fresh so it will last. We must put forth the effort to preserve our marriages before they need rescuing, rather than sacrificing our kids’ formative years to focus on our love life.

“No-Date Night” doesn’t mean our kids control us or we don’t make each other a priority or that we’re not as crazy about each other as we used to be; we are still very much in love and in charge. But after a while, the giggly “Crazy About Each Other” season wanes and another kind of “Crazy” sets in. When that season hits, there’s got to be more substance to a relationship if it is going to survive. There must be commitment and determination.

A consciously committed couple is a free couple. I realize now that what I actually feared was a loss of freedom. Ironically, our relationship has more freedom today than it did in our early years because of our long-standing, conscious commitment to love each other for the long haul, “for better or worse,” with Date Night or without.

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”
~ Song of Solomon 6:3

 

Jesus Christ must be The Priority of my life; my relationship with Him must come first. Date Night with Jesus must come before Date Night with my husband or Family Fun Night. If I don’t spend time with Him then Alone Time with my husband won’t do much good either, regardless of how committed we are to our Date Night schedule. (More about this in my next post.)

 

“When I have learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.”
~C.S. Lewis

Because of our salvation, Jesus Christ is committed to my husband and me indefinitely. Unconditionally. We can rest in this and feel secure. By faith we can focus on our children because this is the season where God has us. Jesus will sustain us. The Father will provide for us.

“I will be your God through all your lifetime, yes, even when your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and be your Savior.”
~ Isaiah 46:4

Friends, this isn’t justification for not spending time with our spouses; quite the opposite. This is a reality check on how and why I spend time with my spouse. Do I love him every day, whether he takes me on dates or not? Do we pursue Date Night to appear we have it “together” as a couple? Do I include my kids by showing them how a marriage survives when Alone Time is scarce, or do I fret and complain that I never get time away from them?

My stance is now this: I refuse to feel cheated because I don’t have a weekly, regular Date Night. I will no longer feel slighted because my husband, who works crazy hours to provide for us, can’t squeeze in one more night off for a weekly date. I won’t feel martyred because we can’t afford to take a weekend away once a month, or once a year for that matter. I will stop feeling sorry for us because our carefree days are behind us.

Rather, I will be thankful for all the time and trips and dates we had in our early days and look forward to the day when we may be provided such things again (notice I say “may” because there are no guarantees). Just as we eagerly anticipated our wedding day, we will anticipate our later years and the beauty of “old love.” Isn’t that the ultimate reason we wed in the first place?

“Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life for which the first was made;
Our times are in His hand…”
~ Robert Browning

Thankfulness is cultivated in the soil of awareness; attitude is the seed of gratitude. So let’s embrace whatever season of life we’re in.

If you’re single, recognize your freedom and maximize it for God’s glory.  Get close to Jesus.  Spend time in prayer for your future spouse, though you may not know who it will be.

If you’re newly married or married without kids, realize life won’t always be this “quiet” and take advantage of that—spend time strengthening your friendship. Invest in your relationship with Jesus and each other now so you’ll be free to focus on babies when they arrive.

If you’re where we are and the whole Date Night Dilemma is real, praise God for the family time you have together and remember these days will pass quickly. We’ve only got this one shot at raising our kids.

If you feather an empty nest, rejoice in the faithfulness of God to carry you and yours through this life. Celebrate the journey you’ve traversed. Then, encourage the young families within your reach. Talk about the “No-Date Night” years and how you persevered and what you learned from your mistakes.

No matter what season we find ourselves in this morning, my prayer is we each find the strength of Jesus to persevere and the grace of the Father to accept our lot. As Alan Jackson so sweetly sings, may we all find contentment and “Remember When”.

 

“…Remember when we vowed the vows and walked the walk
Gave our hearts, made the start, it was hard
We lived and learned, life threw curves
There was joy, there was hurt…

“Remember when the sound of little feet was the music
We danced to week to week
Brought back the love, we found trust
Vowed we’d never give up…

“Remember when thrity something seemed old
Now lookin’ back, it’s just a steppin’ stone
To where we are, where we’ve been
Said we’d do it all again…

“Remember when we said when we turned gray
When the children grow up and move away
We won’t be sad, we’ll be glad
For all the life we’ve had
And we’ll remember when”

~ Alan Jackson