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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

5 Long-distance Date Ideas

Getting through the holidays is never easy when your loved one is miles away. You watch as others spend time together while you spend a majority of your time looking single even though you're not. Once upon a time, this was my husband and I. While we were dating and engaged, he was in Grad school at the University of Oregon while I attended West Virginia Wesleyan College. Thankfully, we'd see each other for a few days around the holidays, but then it would go right back to the way things were. It wasn't easy. Besides a few people, many doubted our long-distance relationship would last, and they didn't hold back their opinion. Opinions aside, we made it work. We were loyal to one another and we loved one another, and here we are today married and getting ready to have our first baby!

Anyone who has been in a long-distance relationship knows that creativity must take place in order to keep the relationship strong. With that being said, below is a list of date ideas for the long-distance relationship that stood the test of time for Wes and I. If you've been in this relationship for a while, you've probably done many of these. It's my hope that at least one of these will be a new idea for you or will spark new ideas of your own. I'd also like to be one of the few to say that your long-distance relationship will work as long as it's God's plan. 

1. mail dates
There's nothing like getting home from work or school and finding a letter addressed to you from your date. Instead of going about your single-life ritual, you sit down and take in every word they have to say. By the time you finish reading, it's like you were actually with them for a few minutes. Note: Spray some of her favorite cologne or some of his favorite perfume on your letter before sending it. When it's opened, it'll smell like you, making your date feel even closer to you. 

2. game dates
Thanks to technology, skype and facetime are both options to see your date face to face, and while it's through a screen, it's better than nothing. Aside from just talking, you can plan an evening where you both play a few games together. It can be as simple as I-spy or as complex as Scrabble. If you are still new to the relationship, you could play 20 questions which will allow you both to get to know one another better. Game options are limitless, just be sure to keep it fun! 

3. study dates
Since Wesley and I were both in school during our long-distance relationship, we had to spend time studying. Rather than study alone, we'd sometimes study together. We'd help keep each other accountable and focused for a while, and then we'd take short breaks in between studying to reward our efforts. It may not sound like a fun date, but it was rather enjoyable to be productive and studious while also spending a little time with the other person. 

4. phone dates
Skype is great. Sometimes, however, it has a way of making you feel alienated from your date because you can see them but they aren't actually there with you. When these times arise, it may be best to take a short break from skype and call each other instead. As long as you have a phone plan with unlimited talk time, you can spend a half hour or so talking. The difference between talking over a phone compared to talking via skype is that you both can spend a couple hours on skype but never really have a very close conversation because you're both working on other things. By talking on the phone, it allows you to spend quality time together in which you are both talking for a bit instead of doing other things, which results in a certain closeness that skype just does not give you sometimes. 

5. dinner dates 
For some reason, neither of us thought of this until we'd been in a relationship for a while, and I have to credit my husband since it was his idea. We had gotten on skype to talk one evening and I was feeling a bit emotional because I missed him and and felt alone. We can't skip over the fact that love must have been in the air that day, because everywhere I turned, couples were holding hands or kissing. Wesley, understanding what I was feeling, suddenly had a great idea. He said, "go get dressed up and make some dinner and then we'll get back on here when you're ready." Confused, I went along with his suggestion, and when I got back on skype, he had also gotten dressed up and made himself dinner. He had lit candles and placed rose petals all over his table from a memory box gift I had sent him a few months ago.  To this day, we both agree that this was our most romantic date together, because it came at a time when we needed it most. 

NOTE: I'll be posting gift ideas for long-distance relationships before the end of December, so if the memory box sounds interesting to you, you'll soon find it in the 'For Relationships' tab at the top of my blog! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The "I Can" Journey

"I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." -Philippians 4:13

When I was young, I'd repeat this verse anytime I heard the word can't. My brother would say, "I can't do my homework," and I'd quickly remind him of Philippians 4:13. After a while, he'd complete his homework, thus reminding both of us that with Christ, all things were possible.

Fast forward to now. I still know this verse and it's hidden in my heart; however, I sometimes forget the truth of the statement. You see, when we were kids, homework was the biggest thing in our lives, but now it seems so small in comparison. When I was a kid, I believed this verse over every 'big' thing in my childlike mind, but now, as an adult, I sometimes struggle with believing it for the 'big' things in the here and now. There are two goals I hope to accomplish, and it's so easy to let the word can't slip into my vocabulary. Goal #1: I hope to be a good mom. Goal #2: I hope to write a book. 

There are many days where I feel unable to complete either task. When does the word can't slip into my vocabulary the most? It's when I feel defeated. For writing, it's when I've sat at the desk for an hour and words will not come, when I read over the muck I've written and tell myself it's not good enough, and when I've read another's book and tell myself they are different and more capable of writing than I am. For being a good mom, it's when I've lost my cool with my husband and pray my daughter never sees me that way, it's when dinner concoctions turn out to be disgusting, and it's when I look at other mom's who seem to have it all together and I can't imagine myself ever having it all together.

Lately, I've been reading what God says about me as His child, and that has helped. Also, I've been reading a book by Lysa TerKeurst and these words ring true:

"I am not a woman who should be labeled unable. I am a woman on a journey of learning how to make sure my reactions don't deny Christ's presence in me. I am a woman who says yes to God not because my emotions and reactions are always perfect. No, I say yes to God because He is perfectly able to forgive me, love me, remind me, challenge me, and show me how to weather trials in ways that prove His Spirit resides in me. I remind myself often that people don't care to meet my Jesus until they meet the reality of Jesus in my life." -Lysa TerKeurst, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, pg. 70.

What a great reminder! We don't have to be perfect. We don't have to have it all together. We are on a journey, and as long as we are doing our absolute best, that's enough. As long as we are learning along the way, that's what's important. In our lives we will try and we will likely fail, but we will continue to learn, and ultimately grow in Christ. We will learn that it is only through Christ that we can do anything. Philippians 4:13 rings true when we know that our righteousness are as filthy rags, and we will never be perfect, but we can be perfected through Jesus Christ.

The reality is that I don't have it all together. The reality is that I'm not perfect nor will I ever be perfect. However, Jesus is perfect and He's molding me each and every day. I am journeying on a road that is filled with potholes, jagged gravel, and dirt, but that journey is leading me closer to Christ, and I don't want my road any other way because I long to follow Jesus.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Lessons From A Shower

Lessons From A Shower

Every time I take a shower, I lose myself in thought. This morning was no exception. I was thinking about packing that needed completed, crafts that needed worked on, and laundry that needed washed, among other thoughts. I so easily become lost in thought as soon as my eyes open in the morning, and I'd say I'm not the only one. It's normal.

But lately, someone has been stopping me in my tracks and turning my morning thoughts on God. Emily begins kicking me soon after I wake up. Oftentimes, it happens while I'm showering. I immediately begin to move and breath slower so I don't miss each precious kick and tumble. I cherish each time she moves because it reassures me that she's growing healthy and strong. I cherish each time because God has blessed me with this beautiful gift. I cherish each time because I know many women unable to have children.

The truth is that every time Emily moves, I am reminded of how unworthy I am to experience this phenomenal connection. I am humbled that God would allow me the ability to carry this baby. I am humbled that our baby is doing so well, and that there haven't been any complications. Yes, I am already experiencing back pain. Yes, I have an ugly blue bruise after having blood taken to check for gestational diabetes. Yes, I wake up every hour simply to turn over in bed. But, I am humbled and I am blessed, and every time she moves, I don't want to take it for granted.

This morning, I read from Psalm 139. I am reminded of God's relentless pursuit for his creation. I stand in awe trying to understand the fact that God knows these very emotions I'm now sharing with you, and that he knows me, and even Emily, deeper than anyone ever will. This knowledge alone is enough to fall face-down and worship him! Below is part of Psalm 139, but I encourage you to read the whole chapter. It's one of my favorites.

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