Dating Well

Dating Well

How are you energizing your date life? Unless we push ourselves and fuel our creative ideas, most of us will just go into auto pilot. You have a lifetime to unravel the mysteries of their heart, personality, and desires. There are no shortcuts here. Learning the art of dating well is a worthy endeavor to continually cultivate!

And you don’t have to have a lot of money to go on a date. So if that’s your excuse let’s get it off the table right now! The date is about the pursuit, not the event. This is so vital to remember!

When I was in my teens, I would go out on dates often. I had chosen (after a bad break up) to not “go steady” with anyone. Instead of just going solo for a while, I used people incorrectly to go out and do “events”.  I had no intention of pursuing the person and I hurt quite a few hearts.

The world of social and dating apps have only amplified this situation. It is no longer about people, relationship, and soul connections. It is about popularity, how many likes the picture gets, and how cool the place or activities are. How many of us are so focused on getting the picture of the event for our social feeds we are missing the real purpose? Pictures are not bad. I love Instagram and Pinterest as much as the next person. The question is, Are you hurting your relationship by focusing more on the activity than the person?

What habits will you change in order to energize your date life starting today? If you are not in a relationship, I encourage you to do this for yourself! Ask yourself if you are investing in you well? I can not encourage it enough! The positive effects of taking the time to infuse the pursuit of relational (and self) discovery is one of the most beautiful gifts we have as humans!

… seize every moment and don’t let a day go by without thoughtfully planning how to maximize it to the fullest!

Your Implementation Time:

  • How much money do you spend on dating?
  • How often do you date/ pursue relationship development? (Not an event but a person!!!)
  • Carve out time with your significant other to spend time pouring into your relationship ( a retreat, reading a book together, building out goals for your year).
  • Plan time with someone you love without the distraction of ANY technology. I watched someone just yesterday listen half heartedly and text someone at the same time! It is so normal now that, the person telling the story saw no problem with the fact that he was being half paid attention too! 
  • Have you ever turned off you phone completely for dinner? If you haven’t I encourage you to try it; for a whole entire week!

 

“You’ve got to turn the phone off, shut the laptop down, put in the vacation days, … Never stop dating. Never stop the pursuit. I promise you’ll never regret that decision.” – Steve Dahlin

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Do You Have Room for Me?

Do You Have Room for Me?

Recently I had someone I wanted to try and meet up with and they couldn’t. It got me thinking about how much we max out our lives and then can’t find time for people. So as not to confuse you that this was a one time ask and during the end of the year, I was asking this person back in August for a get together they couldn’t make until January.

I had another person recently tell me; “You want us to be friends, but we just aren’t.” Ouch. That one stung. Hard.

As I jump into the holiday season of busy schedules and with more excess but not enough bandwidth I was reminded of another person who possibly was so busy, (even serving people) that he failed to see what really matters. The person I am talking about is the inn keeper in the Christmas story. I believe not having room, is one of our generations biggest struggles. So as I thought on this I did a study. What I found was fascinating.

I knew that in Jewish culture hospitality is one of the utmost and highly important aspects of their lives. I had always been in awe of how the children’s version of this story shows a mean person shouting “no room!” at poor pregnant Mary. How could someone do this to a pregnant woman? Most especially someone who is from such a culture of hospitality.

I personally would have offered her my own bed. I would have! And then I got to thinking about last years Thanksgiving where I housed 17 people in my home for four straight days. I had air mattress everywhere and we had blow ups literally in closets. I spent so much money on food we had to cut back for three months after that. Then I hosted an extended family potluck gathering on the Friday after thanksgiving for over 32 people. Whew! I was so busy I failed to really see anything past what was physically right in front of me. I also didn’t really get to enjoy it either. Is this how the inn keeper was when Mary and Joseph arrived?

It was census time, so he was already hosting and probably had been for a while. The scripture clearly states there was no room. I wonder if there was just emotionally no more room. Tired, exhausted, and in need himself his capacity for one more thing was not possible. One more thing was just not in his wheel house.

Luke 2:7:

and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

I found out that the Greek word, used here is kataluma, which means “lodging place”not “inn”. For example, in Mark 14:14, Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples in an “kataluma”.

Joseph wasn’t turned away necessarily however, the “inn” was probably someones home more than it was a hotel. The inn keeper’s upper room was already full. I don’t believe this person was being mean on purpose. They just didn’t have any more physical or emotional space. Oh my, does this speak to our “first world” problems!

How true is this during the holiday season. We have room for stuffing and turkey and Christmas presents but have no capacity to help feed the forty-million people who die annually from starvation and malnutrition, (roughly 7 Jewish holocausts).

Who in your life is begging for room in your heart and you are already so busy and so full that you can’t see it? A question I often give to my clients when they are looking for mentors is:

“Do they have the time and energy to invest in you?”

It might sound harsh but so many people do not have the capacity anymore, whether by choice or circumstance. Sickness, trauma, and job loss are all circumstance that steal our time from relationships. But so does watching six different TV shows, keeping up with social media platforms, online shopping for things we do not need, and playing gaming systems for hours on end. In this dilemma we find many of us are missing out on something really extraordinary when it comes to relationships. Our capacity to love and to see need is being COMPLETELY wiped out.

Back to the story we find something else. There wasn’t any space in the upper room. But what about the family room? What about where the inn keeper slept? Did this person even ask the other guests if they minded sitting on the pillow cushions in the main room for a little while so the woman could deliver her baby? My guess is no.

Mary ended up giving birth in the “garage area,” of the then Jewish home. This is where people kept their animals. The Savior of the world was right in front of this particular individual and due to being so maxed out, exhausted, and full of his own life he fails to see. The feeding trough in those day’s was not the pretty little baby bassinets we make in our manger scene these days. They were dug out dirt holes in the center. The feeding area that was built into the floor of his home ended up holding his King. The very king this inn keeper and his ancestors have been praying for, for generations was lying in his personal dirt hole for his animals.

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Who are you giving the bottom hole in your home too? The last dirt and grimy place you have? Jesus was born in the middle of lowly, busy, hectic, everyday life and that is so very beautiful! But, what isn’t beautiful is the detail of who missed it. The irony is not lost on me. Are you and I missing the real life people in front of us because we have allowed ourselves to have no room?

An exert from our book An Exceptional Romance

“When we are spinning out of control like this we will never have the bandwidth for what God has laid out for us as the greatest gift…

My husband and I say it often when we speak.

“Busyness will ALWAYS be the death of romance.” – Kate Dahlin

We are missing out on the biggest romantic story in all of eternity when we are so full we fail to see God’s people right in front of us. As we step into the holidays my question is…

Do you have room?

 

+ statistics found in book by Jen Hatmaker 

Season Change

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“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”  -2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)

 

I’m sitting in my office today watching the last of the rain pass and admiring the beautiful bursts of color in the trees that seems to have manifested overnight.  The cloudy weather has only amplified the colors and made them more exquisite.  Yellows, hints of orange and burgundy, deep maroons, and brilliant reds.  Make no mistake, there is still a lot of green out there.  The transformation has started earlier for some than others, but they’ll all get there eventually.

What season of change do you find yourself in today?  Is it a good one?  Are you waking up with a bounce in your step and refreshed energy because things seem to be going your way?  Maybe you acheived a big goal, paid off some debt, closed that large deal, found some news friends, got some great news from a doctor, or seem to be excelling in work and ministry?  Or have you been caught off guard and find yourself defeated, exhausted, and frazzled?  Financial woes, a job loss, family dissension, marital strife, a sudden illness or health setback, spiritual exhaustion/fatigue, moving and loss of friendships can have a significant impact on our outlook.

Here’s the good news.  Everyone goes through change – no one is immune.  It may be easy to look around at everyone’s “perfect life” and wonder why you’ve been dealt all the bad cards.  But you know as well as I do, that is all a lie.  The book of Ecclesiastes talks about this alot.  The author, Solomon, came to the conclusion that there is nothing new under the sun and that everyone is impacted both positively and negatively.  This isn’t very comforting when are are in the valley.  It’s also not very comforting when you are on the mountain top either.  Kate and I have had to deal with thoughts of fear during the times when things are just going our way.  Afraid that we are one phone call or email away from something going awefully wrong.  We kept wondering, “how long is this season going to last before the bottom drops out”?

We need to be reminded and take comfort in knowing that our point of reference and “hope” is not in what we see around us.  Our achor is Christ.  He will use these season changes, if we allow Him, to mold, shape, and transform us into His glorious image.  What does that mean?  We will begin to reflect the attributes of God more in our life, despite what is going on.  Instead of FEAR, we will be prone to PEACE and rest.  Instead of WORRY, we will TRUST His goodness and timing.  Instead of ANGER, we will sense JOY welling up within us – even when there is not natural reason why it should be there.  Instead of JEALOUSY, we will find ourselves CONTENT with all things.

God’s image is much more glorious than anything we could ever possibly create on our own.  Yielding to his Spirit’s power will not only empower us to walk through whatever season of change we find ourselves in, but will also radiate beautiful colors to those around around us.  I sometimes think about God in heaven looking down on His children.  I wonder… might he possibly see all of us, in our various stages of change and transformation, like the autumn leaves that we see in the midst of fall?  A glorious and beautiful bouquet of all shapes, colors, and sizes.  He’s smiling at you, and he wants to radiate through you.  All you have to do is let Him.

 

-SD

 

No Longer Legal

No Longer Legal

On one particular “girl nights” this past summer I played one of those question games where you get to know people better. Things like, “If you were a unicorn what would you do?” or “If we were all in a fire who would be best equipped to handle the exit strategy?” All of these questions were really funny but the answers made them even funnier! This little game however led my husband and I to use one of the questions in a very different capacity.

As most of you know, we speak, write and encourage couples on relationship success, lifestyle, and high performance living.  One of the questions on that specific night loaned itself to some incredible insight.

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“If you could make one legal thing no longer legal what would it be?” 

The answers on the night of that ladies trip were broad and humorous. What was interesting was that this particular question sat in my mind for a while. It kept coming back up for me but in totally different ways. It caused me to think further and more profoundly on the matter of what we choose to allow to dictate space and ideas as ok in our lives.

The thought that I kept coming back to was, what we allow to be “legal” in our lives that shouldn’t be. Things we absorb and the things we deem ok. These ideas and concepts that  for whatever reason we just take as fact and acceptable. They are not good, right, or beneficial in any way. Things  and phrases like “marriage is hard,” verbal assault under the blanket of “constructive feedback,” violence in any form, hate, malnutrition. All of these things are things we should deem “No Longer Legal.”

When I rattle off this list most of us would say we would love to have all of those things eradicated from our lives.  Yet, personally we malnourish ourselves all the time, we hate any and every single opinion that is different from our own, and we orally assault ourselves with negativity that we would never ever let anyone else say.

So I ask again, What legal thing should you make no longer legal in your life? Not in any way should you accept this, not from others or from your self. Choose to say enough.

Things like:

  • verbal assault
  • hate
  • negative venting
  • gossip
  • malnutrition
  • substance medicating
  • rudeness
  • judgement
  • unhealthy thoughts that don’t serve you
  • negative feedback
  • arrogance

None of these things are loving. And like Carrie Underwood says: “We believe that in the end love wins!”

Creating Exceptional standards for what we are going to allow in our lives will help us to live more fully! So what standards are you making for yourself and for your relationships?

Galatians 5: 22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
+++ If you enjoy these concepts and would like to have Steve and Kate as special guests on a podcast, blog, or to speak at an event near you go checkout An Exceptional Romance for further information on how to engage with these authors!

For the Love of Books and Relationships

For the Love of Books and Relationships

 

 

I heard once that 82% of the world has at least one book idea, some have many more. Only 20% of people move past that phase and go on to the next. To write it and to publish. I am one of those stats. When we first started on this journey, we never thought it would be what it is today. We are humbled and over joyed!

I claim myself a writer. A blogger. And an avid reader. However my blog is a small audience and my claim of “writer” was because I write almost everyday in a private journal. I read but I am not as fast as I would like. I have more books in my “want to read” list as much as I have actually read. I have files on my computer for novel’s and book ideas.

Ann Lamot would say “mostly its all trash.”

I always dreamed I would write a book and have it published. Floating out there in the world  of “one day”, I could also claim the title that I was a “visionary” and a dreamer too. It was just a dream and a far off one at that. One of those pie in sky, may never really happen kinda things.

One day on a date, my husband who encourages me the most pushed the button of one day to “lets make it today”.

We cannot tell you how thrilled we are to have this small part of our journey written down! Initially, this was going to be written for our children. Just a small snapshot of the things, we believe, that can set you up for the best romantic relationship possible.

As we continually talked about the content to friends, publishers, and young people, we were encouraged to write it for more than our two kids. We heard from many that despite hundreds of relationship books out there, the need is still great. 

It is a short manual of sorts. We wanted this book to be a quick read and a powerful punch that anyone could get a hold of and use for their benefit. Our viewpoints are Biblically based, infused with real life stories, and has a culturally informed premise. We offer feasible life application that ensues success as you cultivate something unique in your relationship. By choosing to walk out the concepts outlined in this book, we hope to help inspire by empowering you in your romance. 

This is our journey of a dream. From the idea all the way to full on published authors. We hope it inspires you on how you too can put your idea out into the world!

  • Write. We started on napkins at a restaurant high top but the point is just get it out from your head and make it tangible.
  • Ask someone if it s a good idea before moving forward. We talked to some very strategic people in our life to make sure this was something they thought would be good for us to venture into. You need to find someone who can be fully honest with you. “Is it a good idea? Is this the right time? If nobody likes it would you still write it?”
  • Write more. Once you have decided to go all in on it, write. Then write some more. We started with a motivational speech really. That became our introduction. We took some of our blogs on the ideas and concepts we wanted to elaborate on and then wrote a proposal. After that we wrote and wrote. Lots of it was not used. Ans we wrote on chapters that ultimately we shifted and had the other write instead. Be prepared for this.
  • Have a co author or accountability partner. I would not have ever put it out there if it wasn’t for my husband. It would still be sitting on my desk unedited. he on the other hand would probably have never started the process. Having someone to be accountable to made all the difference.
  • Create a cover design. We spent some time really thinking about the design and look we wanted for our book. If you want it to grab people make sure it would grab you and of course that you love it!
  • 99Designs. We took our ideas to a company that then formatted 100’s of different ideas for our book and paid the extra money to make it happen. this was by far one of the best ideas we did! They formatted it for paperback and for kindle versions. We recommend them to everyone!
  • Meet with as many authors and publicist as possible! Ask lots of questions. We ended up meeting with over six different authors and four different publishing houses to learn as much as possible about this process and all the different approaches you can take.
  • Edit. This is my least favorite part. personally. I am horrible at editing. It is time consuming and reveals my flaws like nothing else.
  • Have a friend edit. Pick someone who will comb through it and kindly give you feed back. Preferably someone who is excellent at grammar.
  • Higher an actual editor. This is not a step I would ever skip. I know that there are many places now where you can just upload your work but if you want it to be done well and to be an enjoyable read for more than just your mom you must choose to invest in professional editor!
  • re-read. As you do this you will go through so many emotions! You be so proud and then you will thing everything you wrote is garbage! Just read. Make some notes think about it and talk to your co-author or the team behind you.
  • re-write entire sections due to the re read.
  • Find a publicist and launch as well as you know how. You only know who you know, and what you know. A pub-list can help you reach wider than that. Do your best and allow God to use it however it is suppose to be used. Don’t fret about sales, reviews, or the fear of being buried in a saturated market. You did your part. Continue to do so and leave the rest to God.
  • CELEBRATE! After everything it is hard not to get wrapped up in the next project or relive the relief that it is done. Do not forget to give yourself the acknowledgment of your accomplishment!

If you are interested in reading our book or supporting us in anyway with this project go to Amazon, Lulu.com, Or Barnes and Noble to order your copy today!! You can use any of the links above or go to An Exceptional Romance and order your copy today!

  • We hope that you will pass this book out to friends, co-workers, and small groups. Use them as birthday, wedding gifts, and Christmas presents. Help us sell books. It’s that simple! The only way new writers are ever heard of is by people like you and me shouting about it. By doing this you are supporting writers, the reading world, the publishing industry, and relationships everywhere! The hope is that this book will encourage, equip, and give life!

Thank you for your confidence and support in this project. We are honored to see how our simple story and thoughts might bless others to do the same things in their romances and with their dreams.

Happy Reading!

How to say “Yes and No” to Optimize Your Relationships

I am very good at saying the word “no”. I say that not to boast but because I have two friends that say it to me a lot. “Your very good at saying no.” These are loving people who think the best of me and mean well. They are giving me a compliment. Basically they are saying they admire my discipline to say “No” to things that are not going to benefit me and my family. Sometimes the no is for “not right now” and sometimes it is a no for forever. Saying NO is a very good skill to be able to have. It creates space in your life. It takes a ton of discipline to do well. There are so may wonderful things I’d love to do right now that I have had to say no to. All of them are wonderful things!

Here is the secret I use when it is so hard to say no. When you want to help the teacher out at school but you know you don’t have the bandwidth, or run the half marathon despite your knee is giving you issues and you have a nursing baby. What about when you want to go on a trip you can’t really afford. (All of these things have come up personally in the last month for me, besides a nursing baby 😉 ) There is a certain tool I use that helps do this the best. What is the the secret for when you want to learn french but also read piles of novels, be available for tennis lessons, yoga and a small group? The concept that changes everything is: Focus on saying “YES”.

It might sound counter productive but it is a perspective shift that will change your life. I don’t see myself as a “no” person. No is a catchy word that is really in right now. I mean it is as much a thing as productivity journals and pumpkin spice lattes. If you are anywhere near the self-help industry or a mom circle in any way you hear about this often. Personally, I believe the focus on this is overrated. My girlfriends say it is because I can say it that it isn’t really a big deal for me. I have another theory. When my friends seem overwhelmed or have said “Yes” to too much, they are talking to me about my ability to say no as a gift. I think they have it confused. No, is so you can say Yes!

I don’t focus on saying no. To me it has a negative view point. “No I can’t help.” “No, No, Don’t do that.” “No, we aren’t going out tonight, we already ate out this week.”  “No, you can’t do five sport activities this summer.” “No, I am not available.”

Instead I focus on what I am saying Yes to. “We are not going out tonight because we are gonna get to go to the beach next week and eat out everyday!!” “I can’t help with ______, because I am already helping with _____, and I am really passionate about ______.”  “I am not gonna do five extra curricular things this fall because instead we are going to go hiking, camping, pick apples, find a sunflower field and learn to bike ride!”

I tell my clients that if they can’t say no, the world will fill them up so much that they will never be able to say Yes to what they are meant for. Instead of focusing on all the “No’s” in your life – what you can’t do, say, be apart of, fix, or buy, let’s focus on your “Yes.”

  • What are you saying “yes” to?
  • What or who do you want to say yes to more?

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’… Mathew 5:37

For me, My biggest Yes is always to my husband. Then my kids and so forth. What I mean is that if I can say Yes to them, I do. If I can’t it is my red flag I haven’t said No somewhere where I should have.

Example: Let’s say my husband says “Can we have sex tonight?”

If my answer is “No” to my husband, what have I said yes to that day that has helped create that answer? Did I say yes to too much tv and now it is too late? Did I say yes to giving too much attention to my crying toddler? (Who is perfectly capable of soothing himself.) Now I have no energy. Have I said yes to too much work and chores and not enough “yes” to a workout and me time and now I want to read in bed instead?

  • Who are the people you want to always say yes to? Ex: husband, family, sister, a certain friend
  • What are the top things in your life you never want to say No to? Ex: Exercise, healthy eating, a certain charity, a certain vacation every year.

“Life is about who is holding your hand and, I think, whose hand you commit to holding.”  ― Taylor Jenkins Reid

 

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