Summer Days

Summer Days

I don’t know about you but it is a breath of relief when summer rolls around.  No school, less traffic, weekends at the pool, 4th of July, summer vacations (BEACH), and long days of sunlight that extend evening socials.  Each season is unique and has something to offer but summer time… well… let’s just say I’m a little partial.

The question for me and for you is, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SPEND IT.  Intentional time is something that Kate and I talk about alot between us and with other couples.  If you are not managing your schedule, your schedule will manage you.  This “intentionality” is key.  Whether that is directed at family time, career or personal growth, slowing down and relaxing, dating your spouse, exercise, or household projects.

But every single day there will be dozens of people, agendas, schedules, and requests that will compete for your time.  Maybe it’s healthy to shift the filter through which you are reacting to everything that is coming to you.  What is priority?  What is essential during this season of life?  Is that filter relationships, health, ministry, personal development, family, or liesure?

We feel like we just started our summer on Father’s Day weekend.  There was a lot going on with school finishing, hosting friends and family at our house, recitals, VBS camp, working on getting the final draft of our book to our editor and prepping for a speaking engagement at a marriage event.  We now have several weeks of downtime that we plan to fully maximize as a family and be extremely purposefuly with our time.  No matter what season you find yourself in right now, you can not only simplify but prioritize so you can achieve the maximum results.

If you find yourself in a season where margin is absent and “stress free” sounds like a fairy tale world, then try something.  Pick a day (we like Sundays), turn off your cell phone and devices, disconnect from social media and apps, and figure out what you want to get out of these summer days.  There is no perfect answer.  The answer should come from your soul.  What are you craving and not getting right now?  What do you need to feel alive and charged?  What is currently cheating you of that satisfaction?

Before you know it, school will be back in session (if that pertains to you), the sunshiny days that seem to have no end will end, the pools will close, the lake activity will settle, summer concerts completed, vacations will be sidelined, and schedules will pick up.  Don’t waste this opportunity to replenish, restore, and recharge your soul.  AND, take some time to prioritize how you want to tackle this amazing journey called life.  You won’t regret it.

SJD

 

Give It A Break

Give It A Break

We are very neat people, both of us, and because of that we could be tidying and doing projects every second of every day. Failing miserably at connecting relationally we would be organized and task driven but then what is the point of that? I mean really? What is the point? The fact that my counters sparkle more than yours? How lame! I have missed the entire thing and become Martha in the story where Jesus comes to visit. The only problem is I have dragged my husband along with me and dubbed him “Project Steve” for the day.

A Sabbath from chores and tasks is the reset for us that the chores, the difficult issues, and even the relationship handicaps will still be there, but the moment won’t. Recently we had to do this. We had had about six straight weeks of travel and sickness and everything was piling up. I was feeling all the feeling of overwhelm. No rest in sight.

Exodus 20:8-11

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

God knew this struggle would be real for us and created a day for us to not do anything more but to just enjoy. We personally take this very seriously. We take one day a week, usually it is Sunday, to completely rest. No work, no screens, no crazy projects.

Let me be clear that if we are serving at church and have meetings with small group leaders or are teaching bible lessons to 30 preschoolers we have to pick another day. Because as much good as that is and as much growth as that produces, it is not rest.

One person doing all of one thing, exhausted, and worn out while the other person gets a pass is not healthy, either.  We know of a friend who has deliberately not learned how to do laundry, so that they aren’t ever asked to do it and I have another acquaintance who has done everything when it comes to child raising and now her husband has no idea how to manage the kids and the poor woman has never left them. 

Steve had to take control of the entire household one summer when we decided I was to head on a mission trip to Africa. Our children were little and not in school at the time and he would be juggling work on top of it. For ten whole day’s he handled it all, with no communication from me, and with amazing talent. I know that I left the entire operation in great hands. I know too that we could reverse the roles and I could do the same for him. We all have skills we are great at and certain areas we are stronger in and so letting each other shine in those is wonderful. However, that doesn’t stop us from helping each other out. This area on tasks and chores is to encourage all of us to make sure we are not allowing one person to bear the brunt of most of the tasks or that we are unaware of the sacrifices and the diligence that someone is taking on our behalf. As you think about this topic thank your spouse for something they do regularly and are not being recognized for. Give each other a sabbath. Give each other a vacation.

photo of bare feet on hammock
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Build Your Legacy

 

 

I was asked a few years ago by a dear friend to come along side her son while he came into the older elementary ages and into middle school. To just be another voice and another person he could talk to about anything and everything. Also just to have fun and be there for him. Doing life side by side with kids is one of the greatest privileges in this world. I was honored to take on the opportunity. What surprised me was how much I have learned from doing this!!

The next generation is truly amazing! They are doing more, juggling more, and being expected of more than any other generation behind them. They are incredible when you think about all that they are managing and fighting against. As an older sister to three brothers I was even more thrilled to get to do this. A few times a year I would get to be out of the pink tutu’s and ballet bars that my life revolved around. I didn’t have kids yet and having the opportunity to go to an arcade and to ride go carts was a no brainer! I was going to be there.

When I was young, I had three individuals in particular that came around me and encouraged me. They took me places, they showed up for me, and they took an interest in what was going on in my world. I knew first hand what that influence had in my life. It meant the world that I mattered to them and that they really wanted to see me succeed. They were “super cool”  and to know that they had my back really shaped me.

“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” — Denzel Washington

Contribution has one of the largest upshot in all of life. It is when you are contributing to a greater cause or a greater idea that you are pouring out rather than taking. Consuming money, space, time, and negativity helps no one and lest of all you. When you are nervous to go for it, remember, contribute verses consume. Building your legacy is not about buildings, or money, or empires, or even influence. Its about people. So which one is it for you? Some of us think we are contributing but in actuality all we are doing is consuming.

Many of us can come up with incredible ideas but it takes a multitude of people to spread something exceptional. It takes a village to raise a child, it takes a mob to create a movement, and it takes a congregation to have a revival.

Look at the very gospel of Jesus as an example. Become part of something bigger than yourself. Go mentor, and go be mentored! Who do you need to come along side today?

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12: 6-8

 

Boredom in Marriage

Boredom in Marriage

As a lifestyle coach and former athlete I am all about efficiency and schedules. But that can get boring real fast. The pain of regiments and disciplines becomes the pain of regrets. It can become so monotonous to do everyday life that one day we wake up and cry from the dullness. Unaware of how we got from burning passion to “Did you feed the dog?”,  we except it as is.

We crawl into the ho-hum of routine and settle in for consistency and average mediocrity.  This does not have to be you.  This is not what you were made for.  This is not the standard you should hold yourself up to. It is not what God considered good when He made man a partner in the Garden. This is not acceptable. 

We were made to be in God’s bigger picture and our marriages are the foundation of that.  Making sure we are focusing on developing our romantic dreams can keep us excited for creating something extraordinarily above average. Stepping up and raising our standards to live boldly and fearlessly can create immense drive. Despite all this encouragement on dreams and romance, you can still become bored. How? Two things, you’re either living life too fast or too slow. The pace of your marriage is crucial in creating excellence. 

Are you so busy you’re losing your wonder and curiosity for what it could be?  When was the last time you paused just to give a soft kiss? How many times have you promised you’d be somewhere or do something for your wife or kids only to allow situations to derail that commitment?  Sure, there are always exceptions that cannot be avoided (like a flat tire, emergency, or sickness).  I’m not talking about those.  I’m talking about the times you failed to prioritize, failed to watch the clock properly, failed to account for traffic, failed to close the laptop on time, or failed to tell someone else the word “no” rather than your spouse.

Exhausted from the normal speed of our existence we squash out any fire. If you’re so busy and you’re so overwhelmed in your day to day that there is no margin for dreaming, or engaging, you lose all zeal. You only have room for flipping the television on, maybe not even that. You find yourself out of energy to engage in anything. Game night, laughter, special plans for date night, gifts, and deeper conversations have no place because you physically have no band width for thinking of it.

On the flip side of this, perhaps your dreams are so slow at coming to fruition you’ve lost hope of reaching it entirely. Some dreams are life dreams and it’s a long time coming to make them happen.

To wait it out is really hard and very daunting. It’s much harder if your also not focused on smaller dreams during the wait.

When your timeline isn’t God’s, unfilled desires are painful.  

During a particular season where we were at this point we studied Paul, the apostle. Paul, who spent the better part of his last days in prison. He managed to stand fast despite beatings and massive persecution. How could he write such passionate and inspirational things while going through so much pain and so much boredom? Prison, (I am guessing) is very boring. I believe it was because he knew the bigger picture, his purpose, and the part he played. Do you know the part you play in you marriage? Do you know the bigger picture? God said it was not good for man to be alone in the garden. It was the only thing “not good” before the fall of man. We were created for connection with God and our spouse from the very beginning of time. 

For us to get out of bordom and the rutt we decided to create a vision statement that we both could stand on for our relationship. That no matter what, in the up’s, the downs, the storms and the calm, we would hold fast. We didn’t want excess, we wanted excellence. We wanted to continually be Creating Exceptional. We wanted to guard the good deposit that we had been given. (2 Timothy 1:14).

Do you have a vision for your marriage? Is it written down? Do you both take ownership of it?

Psalms 23:7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Accountability

Accountability

This is such a beautiful and vital place to start the conversation on showing up correctly for your marriage. In order to show up correctly, you must surround yourself with people who will hold you to higher standards and push you to achieve more than you could ever think possible. Ruth is one of the best examples in the Old Testament to showcase this principle. The book starts by explaining about a woman who got parenting all wrong. Naomi uprooted her family from their native country and people because of a famine in the land. In doing so, both her boys ended up marrying foreigners far from home who had very different religious backgrounds. This was considered taboo and a very big “no no” in that day and age.

Despite all of that, Naomi became a legend for her daughter-in-laws. They wouldn’t leave her side even after Naomi’s husband and sons had died.  She had lost everything and was far away from any relatives or any semblance of home. She had sacrificed greatly to protect her family. We don’t know exactly why she left, but I personally believe it was out of fear. Naomi had simply run away from a famine. Why is she even mentioned?  She wasn’t very notable.  The story is a tragic, melodramatic one for sure. The thing is, Naomi made such a massive impact on her daughter-in-law’s lives that these foreign, non-God fearing women wanted to follow her back to a land where they would be considered outcasts and lower citizens.  

Do you have anyone in your life that inspires such greatness? Naomi was this for Ruth. Because of her guidance and wisdom, Ruth was able to find a husband that would value her despite being a non-Jew. Boaz, the son of a foreigner, would ultimately marry Ruth. Why would he accept such an offer? Because Boaz was Rehab’s son. He was part of another famous story involving a foreigner. Rehab was a prostitute and non-Jew who saved her family by letting down a red cord for some spies. Boaz was probably the only Jew in the entire city that would understand Ruth’s situation so completely. Not only is this story one of my favorites but it is the epicenter of true romance and heroism. To top it all off, Ruth is stated in the lineage of Christ!  

Mathew 1:5: “Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth…”

I wonder where Ruth would be without her mentor and how her story would’ve unfolded without her guidance.  Naomi coached Ruth on cultural norms, ways of life, and how to ultimately approach her husband. I firmly believe that without her Ruth’s life would not be what it was.

Who are the people who instill excellence in a bountiful way in your own life? If you don’t have this, I encourage you to find someone who can cultivate greatness in your marriage. Who is that couple that you just love how they do life as a team?  We personally have people we look up to because they are awesome at parenting and have incredible kids.  Others we look to because they represent exemplary status in career growth and personal development.  We have some individuals that are beautiful examples of a life focused on service and spiritual growth. Our most prized mentors are the ones that have “rock star” status marriages and they push us to have that for ourselves.  The individuals that radiate joy, fun, love, and growth in these areas of life will be the most incredible mentors you can give yourself.  I believe marriage mentors are irreplaceable, invaluable, and incredibly important. 

Proverbs 15:22: “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”

 

Date Night Ideas

Date Night Ideas

We believe in date night with a passion! We beleive you should do it often and with out condemnation. It is such a joy to carve out time to have fun together! Life can get boring with monotonous chores, schedules, home routines, work, and family life juggling. Take time for adventure and for cultivating your romantic relationship. For your pleasure here are a few ideas to take from. We personally have done every single thing on this list. Spice it up and get out of the dinner and movie rut. Many of these ideas for date night are free. (All of these activities should be done with phone silence.)
Relishing in late breakfasts over mimosas
A long, quiet walk
Reading a good book out loud together
Doing a unique activity – cooking class, white water rafting, building a fire-pit or outside deck
Gazing into a fire
Spending time in a hot tub
Cooking a multi-course meal
Star gazing late at night (we have a telescope)
Cuddling under a blanket with the person of your dreams
Watching the sunrise or sunset
Swing in a hammock
Hiking
Eat at an Indian restaurant where you sit on pillows and have fire dancers put on a show
Pizza picnic night – lay a blanket on the floor while you watch a movie
Game night
Indoor sky diving (iFly)
Indoor rock climbing
Helicopter ride
Dance club
Concert/shows
Sporting events just the two of you
Train for a race as a team
Gun range
Couples massage
Kayaking
Camping trip
Pedicures
Ride horses
Ice skating
Art and wine show
Wine and beer tastings
Drive in movie
Apple/blueberry/pumpkin picking
Rent scooters or vespas
Scavenger Hunt
Rent a limo
Drive around looking at Christmas lights with coffee
Dueling piano bar
Ballroom dance lessons
Botanical gardens/aquarium/Atlanta underground

How to Make Your Life Better

How to Make Your Life Better

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Simple idea. Go on vacation. Harder to implement. Traveling is wonderful, but it is also expensive and exhausting in the planning. However, I encourage you to get away. 

You should use every single day of vacation you have, every single year of your entire life and you should be making it special.

Just go gain some perspective. You will be better for it and able to tackle life strong. Creating passion despite all the hustle and bustle. 

This year has been no exception to that rule for our lives and it has further encouraged us to keep up this practice up and to make it a top priority for growth in our lives and our relationship.

When you get away from your jobs and your chores and your house projects and routines it creates space for the creative mind to breath and to be refreshed in ways only separation  can. It makes you appreciate things like hot water and your own pillows. It makes you love cultures that talk about afternoon down time and of the long two-hour dinners where not a phone is in sight. It makes you love history and people more! There is a way to do this though that maximizes the potential’s and minimizes the damage. Our very first “vacation” trip was the fall after we got married and just months after our first official jobs. We went to wine country. We stayed with extended family to help with costs and we hiked the red wood forests (cause it was free) and dipped our toes into The pacific waters (cause it was free). To this day we talk about the tone that trip set and how we’re always going to take trips. No matter what else happens.

So here are our tips. In just over one year between the two of us, we have been to Africa, Italy, The Bourbon trail in Kentucky, Disney World, Canada, Palo Alto, and soon Scotland, 30A, and Colorado.  Our Advice: Go Somewhere Special! Anywhere. Save up your vacation, and your money, – hit the road. You will never regret it.

  1. Do not take a curling iron. Waste of space and time.
  2. Save up for your vacations ahead of time. If the money is there it is no longer a budget issue and you aren’t nickel and  dimming everything. If the money isn’t there, go somewhere cheaper. It’s just not fun to be penny-pinching on vacation.
  3. Do invest in the plug adaptors kit from amazon!
  4. Take time to rest, coming home exhausted isn’t a vacation in my book, it’s a trip but not a vacation. Life is busy and crazy enough. As the house keeper in Italy told me “no stress, no worries.”
  5. Hit all of YOUR top places and realize you can’t do it all. So do what you want and not what you “should” do or see.
  6. Disney World fast passes are a joke – the lines are crazy. Just expect it.
  7. Gelato anywhere is amazing
  8. Never travel to Canada unless it’s the summer time! (You will freeze)
  9. Buy yoga flops. They are awesome!
  10. Take tons of pictures
  11. A Vespa is a must
  12. Plan outfits ahead of time and only bring one extra. Wrinkle free preferred.
  13. Don’t forget your favorite fragrance and your toothbrush on the plane. You never know the smells you could encounter.
  14. Leave room in suitcases for bringing back souvenirs – note again on not over packing. 😉
  15. Dance whenever challenged
  16. Always carry band-aides, chapstick, and essential oils for muscle relief
  17. Neck pillows are an awesome investment! My Africa plane trip without it was a nightmare, buy the memory foam ones.
  18. Ignore all the audio tours. But If you can get the VIP tour with a real guide do them. The guides personalities and passion are awesome to witness as a bonus!
  19. Order “WHITE” wine everywhere in Italy just to hear them say it
  20. African safari’s are over rated you can see just as much at Disney Animal Kingdom
  21. Drive yourself if you can, Being car sick is not fun but on vacation it is the absolute worst
  22. Carry a backpack purse.
  23. Make copies of your passports, leave a copy at home, one in your suitcase and of course have your real one always
  24. Always take a fun read
  25. A hard copy map is great. Someplace’s the apps just don’t work
  26. Journal about all of Gods beauty you witness and experience while away

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