Marching to Our Own Drum

Over the past several months while living in America it has become evident that our family marches to the beat of a different drum. Our pace is less hurried and more relaxed than most. Being in constant motion is not enjoyable to us and quite honestly has been a difficult adjustment. Unlike many, we don’t need nor want to fill our time with endless activities. We cherish the unstructured, unhurried moments we have at home…together. Someone recently commented, “The girls “hang out” well.” And they do! There is a contentment, a quiet peacefulness in being able to just BE. NO activities, NO rush, NO detailed plan, NO running from house to house, NO driving across country, NO hours of meal preparation, NO endless clean-up.

The realization that we march to the beat of a different drum was exaggerated during Christmas. When others asked about our Christmas plans and heard that we were going to stay home as a family. Their response was always the same. (Insert “poor baby” tone here) “Oh , so your aren’t doing anything for Christmas!” After hearing this comment several times in the weeks leading up to Christmas our daughter walked in the kitchen and frustratingly exclaimed, “Why does everyone think we AREN’T DOING ANYTHING for Christmas!?!”

I guess here in the states people are accustomed to endless activities. Calendars are packed to the brim. Each weeknight, a commitment and weekends are booked months in advance. Most people travel to spend Christmas Eve or Day with extended family. We even know one couple who spends Christmas Eve with his family in Memphis and then rises early Christmas morning to drive 9 hours across Tennessee to spend Christmas Day with her family in Knoxville. Why is this considered “doing something”? Why is this considered “normal”?

Perhaps it’s our years of living in Mexico or maybe it came from my up bringing. Growing up in a divorced family, I always felt pulled during the holidays. I made a vow then, that when I grew up, I didn’t want my holidays to be filled with endless travel and activity. At any rate, no matter the reason, this year, like every other year, we planned to stay home and just hang out. In the weeks leading up to Christmas we shared meals and activities with extended family, but the 24th, 25th & 26th were spent at home, just Rodney, me and the girls.

Days later when one of our daughters was asked what she enjoyed most about Christmas. She quickly replied, “Staying home together, just our immediate family…we didn’t have to go anywhere, we just hung out and enjoyed being together!”

Her response was interesting, because to many, our Christmas plans seemed less than impressive. and yet to each of us, staying home together was the highlight of the season.

I am not suggesting that our family’s Christmas plans should be the norm. As I said, we march to the beat of a different drum. However, in this hurried world, I do think it is important to plan family moments in your schedule. Time where you plan to stay home, sharing meals together, playing games, singing, cooking, decorating, crafting, reading…connecting.

Thankfulness

Let’s face it, marriage is tough. Becoming “one” is not easy! In order for that to happen, half of each person must die. So don’t think everyone’s got it together and your the only one who struggles. If that were true the divorce rate wouldn’t be as high as it is. While very worth the effort, marriage is work.

So I’ve been thinking of some little things that can make marriage a easier. And since we celebrated Thanksgiving this week, it seems appropriate to highlight two simple words that can really improve your marriage. Those words are, “Thank You!”

The Bible says to, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)

I know this sounds so simple that it could easily go overlooked. But the fact remains, EVERYONE wants to be appreciated! This is how to put an appreciative attitude to work for you! Don’t only say “Thank You” when they’ve done something extraordinary, say it when they do all the things that they “should” do, the things we take for granted. Look for opportunities to show your gratitude. “Thank You for getting up & going to work faithfully. Thank you for providing for our family. Thank you for coming home today. Thank you for cooking dinner. Thank you for taking out the trash. Thank you for watching that T.V. show with me. Thank you for working out and keeping yourself healthy. Thank you for putting up with me when I’m difficult.” There are a million opportunities everyday that you can tell your spouse how much you appreciate them. Learning to say “Thank You” is a simple way to strengthen your marriage.

KD

The Secret to a Better Marriage

If I could tell you 1 SECRET to building a successful marriage, would you do it?

In the book of 2 Kings there is a story about a commander of an army named Naaman who had leprosy. His wife’s servant girl, who was a captive from Israel, suggested that Naaman could be healed if only he would visit the prophet Elisha.

Naaman went to see Elisha expecting an elaborate healing ritual, but when the healing instructions came, Naaman was disappointed with the simplicity of the remedy and he left angry. Fortunately Naaman’s servants came to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” Fortunately Naaman decide to follow the simple instructions and was healed.

I tell you this story, because “The Secret” that I am going to share with you is simple. It’s not difficult nor elaborate, so I don’t want you to walk away, like Naaman, “disappointed with the simplicity”.

Here it is….the BIG SECRET.…unveiled.

One secret to building a successful marriage is to have a WEEKLY DATE, with your spouse.

I know, I know… you don’t have time, you don’t have the money. We had the same excuses the first 50 times someone recommended a weekly date to us. BUT finally we got to a desperate place and decided that we had nothing to loose. We took the plunge and began “dating again” and that was the catalyst which literally SAVED OUR MARRIAGE.

THE RULES

1) SET ASIDE TIME each week to “go” on a date. (It doesn’t have to be the same time Each week, but that makes planning easier.) It can be Morning. Noon. Night. Over the years ours has changed several times to accommodate our ever changing schedules and responsibilities.

2) NO TALKING about ministry, work or your kids. This is NOT a meeting! It’s a DATE! This is a time to RECONNECT with each other….enjoy each other and remember that you like each other.

3) Be CREATIVE! – Your date does NOT have to Break The Bank, In fact, It doesn’t have to cost anything. IDEAS- a walk in the park, go feed the ducks, go on a hike or picnic, go swimming, get a coffee, have breakfast. (Both breakfast and lunch are CHEAPER than dinner.) Go to a movie, play or dinner theater. The sky is the limit!

4) HAVE FUN!!! The idea behind a weekly date is to connect, communicate, have fun and remember why you got married in the first place. It is NOT a time to D-I-S-C-U-S-S ISSUES, PROBLEMS or ATTACK one another. Just remember…NO FIGHTS!!!!

5) Think of this as an INVESTMENT in your MARRIAGE! Both the time and the money will be well spent. It’s cheaper and MORE FUN than therapy or counseling & a whole lot better than eventually getting a DIVORCE b/c you have grown apart.

6) GUARD this time WITH YOUR LIFE! This is your time to build your marriage. Do NOT cancel this time in order to accommodate others’ schedules, work or church events or all the 1,000,000 things that could come up that could take its place. This is time to BUILD YOUR MARRIAGE & should NOT BE cast aside at the drop of a hat.

Sure others will NOT UNDERSTAND. LET ME REPEAT….OTHERS WILL NOT UNDERSTAND!!! They will try to get you to make an exception “just this once”, they will say. They will get hurt and offended because you won’t give in & when this happens REMEMBER what you learned about setting BOUNDARIES and about your 1st Ministry.

So that’s it…the MAGIC TIP….THE SECRET…to having a strong marriage. Don’t grow apart! Stay Connected! & Happy Dating!!!!