My husband, Trevor, and I have a bad track record when it comes to our weekly date night. Often we return home unhappier than when we left.
A couple years ago, I surprised him with tickets to Cirque du Soleil. A friend told me she and her hubby loved the show, so I assumed we would too.
Ticket prices were steep, so I had to get creative with our budget. I depleted our date night category . . . discretionary category . . . garden category . . . and charged the rest to my personal spending category. (How did I think this was a good idea, being married to an accountant?!)
The evening began, lighthearted and fun, with Trevor guessing what we were doing and not getting even close. When we pulled up to the stadium, he was convinced it was a hockey game. It wasn’t until after we’d walked through security that he saw a sign advertising Cirque du Soleil.
Another Date Night Goes South . . . Again
We began our ascent up, up, up. My friend had told me there wasn’t a bad seat in the house, but apparently she hadn’t ventured this far up. Our seats were in the very last row at the tip-top of the stadium, and an arch was obstructing our view. And that’s when the whole tone changed. Trevor grew silent and sullen.
When the lights went down thirty minutes later, I moved to a better seat, Trevor trailing behind me. (He wasn’t thrilled with moving seats, as he’s more of a rule follower than I am.)
I didn’t feel I could enjoy the show, knowing that Trevor wasn’t thrilled. Even if he had been upbeat, though, the performers were speaking some gibberish language, and there didn’t seem to be a coherent storyline to follow.
To his credit, Trevor thanked me a couple times at the end, but it seemed forced. When we went to bed that night, he wasn’t looking me in the eyes. So much for my epic date night.
Many times I’ve just wanted to give up and say, If they’re gonna hurt this bad, let’s just forget date nights. Have you had a similar experience?
I always knew that wasn’t the answer, though. Here are a few problems we’ve bumped into on our date nights, as well as a few solutions we’ve found:
Date Night Problems . . . And Solutions
Problem #1: You don’t have a plan beforehand.
Solution: When we realized that coming up with a plan “on the fly” wasn’t working for us, we tried surprising each other by planning a date night for the other (as I did with Cirque du Soleil). However, it didn’t take long for us to realize that was not a good idea for us.
So we compiled a Google document of date night ideas that we’d both enjoy. Give it a shot, and consider adding categories like:
Cheap (ahem, Paula!)
In-home (for when you have kids)
Save yourself some heartache and don’t try to figure out what you’re doing as you’re climbing into the car. Be intentional in planning ahead.
Read the other four problems—and solutions—over at TrueWoman.com.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you resonate with this struggle? Do you go on date nights? If you do, what has worked well for you?
If you do feel like you’re one of the only married couples who doesn’t have wonderful weekly date nights, know that you’re not alone. At the very least, the Marstellers are with you! We hope and pray that our struggles and attempted solutions help you to pursue deeper intimacy and enjoyment of one another.
Good morning! I’m responding to a few questions about my long-distance relationship with Trevor at DatingAtADistance.com today. Questions like, How did you:
Grow in your relationship with God while you were in a long-distance relationship?
Make the decision to move to the city where Trevor lived before you were married?
How did the two of you manage conflict and communication?
What advice would you give to someone just starting a long-distance relationship?
Here’s a short sample:
How did you grow in your relationship with God while you were in a long-distance relationship?
In the same ways I had while single. By digging into God’s Word daily and communicating with Him through prayer—though definitely in a more distracted state!
I was also challenged to search the Scriptures and reconsider some beliefs I’d always held. Trevor had differing views and more freedoms than I was used to—specifically when it came to drinking alcohol. Another biggie was his understanding of how to discern God’s will, which was quite different from mine. That has resulted in much greater freedom in my life. If you’d like to read more on this, here are some posts on decision making.
Trevor has also been such a tangible picture of God’s steadfast love for me, even when the ugliness of my sin has been laid bare.
Have you taken a more passive role in your relationship with God since marrying? How so?
If you’re still single, what are your expectations for what it will mean for your husband to be your spiritual leader?
Taking a Back Seat in My Relationship with God
You may have heard—or believe—that your husband is your spiritual leader. But I wonder what that means to you.
Based on this belief, when I entered marriage, I subconsciously unbuckled my seatbelt, got out of the driver’s seat in my relationship with God, and moved to the back. I looked to the front seat where my new husband, Trevor, sat and waited for him to lead us in daily time in God’s Word and prayer. . . .
Somehow, my complementarian ideals had led me to live as if I was in pre-Reformation days when only an elite few had access to God’s Word. I looked to my husband to lead me to God, rather than enjoying the direct access Christ purchased for me. But 1 Timothy 2:5 is clear. There is only one mediator between God and humanity, and it is not my husband. It is Jesus.
What Are Your Expectations of Having a Spiritual Leader?
What are your expectations of your husband being your “spiritual leader”? When you’re together, do you:
Leave all the praying up to him, or do you pray too?
Invite him to read and pray with you, or do you believe he is the only one who can initiate that?
Stay home with him because he doesn’t want to go to church, or are you faithfully frequenting its doors whether he comes with you or not (Heb. 10:19–25)?
Are you afraid:
To confront your husband in love about unrepentant sin in his life (Heb. 3:12–15)?
That you can’t pursue intimacy with God too fervently, because you might intimidate your husband and keep him from stepping up?
If you have children, do you teach them God’s Word, even if your husband doesn’t (Deut. 6:5–8)?
Dear Christian wife, I hope you aren’t tempted to “quit” your relationship with God in order to be a good, “submissive” wife. These two things are not mutually exclusive!
Yes, God has given your husband the role of “head” in your relationship. But rather than this limiting you, this should propel and empower you. Think about it. Do truly great leaders do all the work themselves, or do they empower those under their care to thrive, initiate, and lead? . . .
Why do I write? This is something I had never answered . . . until Cyber Monday. That’s when I splurged on Michael Hyatt’s “Get Published” course. (Yes, I’m already a published author, but that doesn’t mean my wheels haven’t been spinning in the mud for a while now.)
In Michael’s first session, he asks, “Why do you want to write?” Here are eleven reasons why I write (and plan to continue), in no particular order:
Why I Write: First for Me . . .
Because doing so makes me dig deep into God’s Word like nothing else (and I profit more than anyone!).
To be a healthy me. (If I haven’t journaled in days, it’s a sure red-light-indicator that things aren’t great in my soul.)
To think thoughtfully about life and to discover what I actually believe.
As an outlet for my much more challenging 24/7 job as mom of two sweet-but-needy little boys.
Not just to be a “faith writer,” but to be a “faith-filled writer.” (Thanks for sharing this truth, Lore Wilburt.) I write to combat the negative voices in my head that tell me I don’t have what it takes. I write to be faithful with the gifts God has given me—even when they’re not as bright and shiny as the next writer over who’s stringing words together in a most beautiful way.
To open more doors to speak (that’s just how it works in our world, folks). I “feel God’s pleasure” (Eric Liddell reference) when I teach like I do in no other way. I want to keep honing my skills and blessing others in that way.
To keep up—and actually improve—my skills so I can be prepared to re-enter the full-time workforce should I ever need to.
Why I Write: Then for Others . . .
In order to obey Scripture’s command to use my gifts of teaching and exhortation to serve the people of God (Romans 12:6). Thanks for continually beating this drum, Erin Davis!
With the hopes of helping my talented husband, Trevor, with the financial burden he shoulders as the sole provider for our family. My most recent contracting project for Revive Our Hearts enabled me to replace the impenetrable fortress of our broken garage door (which is pictured here behind me).
Because I’ve found I’m bolder to speak truth with a pen or a mic in hand, and God seems to bless that boldness.
To leave a legacy. I am aware my days on earth are limited. If my words (which point to God’s enduring Word) stick around longer than me, that’s a win (1 Peter 1:24-25).
Why do you write, or do that thing you do? And if you’re only dreaming of doing it, then why do you want to write, or carve, or start that business? As Michael Hyatt shares, you need to know your “why” if you’re going to succeed.
PS: If my writing, editing, speaking, or interviewing skills can be of use to you or your church or your organization, please let me know. Now that our garage door slides open quicker than your tush can land on black ice, I’m ready for my next assignment.
Some men don’t care if their home is clean or messy. Not my hubby. He grew up with a mom who could challenge anyone to the Heavyweight Cleaning Champion of the World title. Trevor is used to a spotless home (and I really do mean spotless). Mess stresses him out. But his high expectations for a clean house stress me out. Sounds like a killer combination, huh? Yes, I’ve shot lots of heated words his way over this volatile subject.
The Clean Freak I Married
You know from my first book how for thirty plus years I ached for a pair of strong arms to hold me close. In God’s extravagant kindness, He granted that gift. However, in all those years of pining, I never gave a thought to what might accompany such a gift.
Turns out, marriage involves more than being adored by a man. With a husband come kids, and that husband and those kids must live in a house, and that house must be cleaned, and those hubby and those kids must be fed and clothed with freshly laundered clothes . . . again and again and again.
I was not prepared for that kind of service. In one childish-sounding journal entry I spewed,
“Cleaning is stupid. As soon as you finish, it’s messy again. It’s futile . . . It’s not creative . . . I hate it.”
Truth be told, I thought myself above such dull tasks as dusting and mopping and window washing. After serving in women’s ministry for well over a decade, these sorts of tasks felt like the demotion of the century.
My Cleaning Conundrum
Now, lest you think him a chauvinist pig, let me clear the record. Trevor does pitch in and help me clean. If it weren’t for him, our fridge, oven, and floors would never get a deep cleaning. But we’ve worked out a deal of sorts.
See, he’s handy, and I’m not. We have been—and still are—in the middle of a home renovation. So anytime there is something I can do, I try to do it myself rather than asking him for help, in order to free him up for the tasks that only he can accomplish.
In Search of Answers on Why a Clean Home Matters
There was simply no way around it. I needed to clean, and I didn’t want to hate every minute of it for the rest of my life. I desperately needed some big questions answered. Is there any redeeming value to cleaning? In light of eternity, why does cleaning matter?
First, she showed me how housework is connected to the two greatest commandments of loving God and loving neighbor. My closest neighbors are my husband and kids, and work in the house is for them. This was an “a-ha!” for me:
“Laundry is for people to wear. Food is for people to be nourished. Clean floors are for people to crawl around on. Dishes are for people to eat off. The people and the physical work of the home are not in competition. They are two sides of the same coin. . . . The physical work of the home exists for the physical people in the home.”
I was wrecked (in the best kind of way).
Another paradigm shift I experienced from reading her book is that work is not about my personal fulfillment; it is for the good of my neighbor. How have I missed that for all these years?! I wondered. Courtney quoted Martin Luther more than once in this regard:
“If you find yourself in a work by which you accomplish something good for God, or the holy, or yourself, but not for your neighbor alone, then you should know that that work is not a good work.”
Keep the Whole Law with a Clean Home
Ever since I read these truths, things have been changing in my house and my heart. As long as I keep the big picture in view, I don’t resent the poop stains I have to magically remove from my son’s shorts. I don’t mutter about the smooshed grapes I have to clean off the floor. I don’t cry over the onions I have to chop for supper (well, actually I do, but for a different reason!).
Life is too short not to love my closest neighbors with a clean house, clean clothes, and food on the table. Do I do it perfectly? Not even close. But I keep working hard at it, because in this small, ordinary way, I can actually fulfill the whole law (Galatians 5:14).
Thanks to Crossway’s generosity, I’m giving away five copies of Courtney’s book, Glory in the Ordinary. If you think you or someone you know could benefit from reading it, enter here.
You guys, we survived potty training! The first day was exhilarating. (And no, I never imagined using those two words in the same sentence!)
Potty Training, Day One
Around lunch time, Iren sat down on his potty chair and laughed with delight as he saw pee coming out. “Do some more!” “Do some more!” he squealed. And he did. He’d sit back down, let a few drops out, laugh, and go dump it in the big toilet. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat.
That first day felt like my first major “mom win.” I needed that. In one sense, I had nothing to do with the day’s success. But in another sense, I did. I researched, prepared, and coached Iren along. At the end of the day, I wrote in my journal,
“God has equipped me to do my job as a mom well. I long to embrace it and one day soon say without hesitation, ‘Yes, I love being a Mom. Yes, I am content with the lot God has given me.’”
Iren resisted potty training, and I found myself resorting to bribing him with a pretzel or a piece of Trader Joe’s Pickle Popcorn, because that seemed the only way Iren would agree to go.
I was much more uptight than I was Monday, and as the day went on I remembered just how important it is not to prompt him continually, and to give him space to have accidents. I wrote in my journal,
I hope this isn’t telling of future parenting; I need to be okay with him making mistakes. Only God is perfect.
Potty Training, Day Three
On day three, new help arrived. (Did I mention that I recruited back-up?) The first two days, an unemployed friend joined me to watch Hudson while I trained Iren. For days three and four, my mother-in-law joined me. I wrote in my journal that morning,
“I see how every day there’s something new to be anxious about. Rather, to trust God for! Today’s area for trust is that Patti will cooperate with our potty training method. Please help us work well as a team today, Father.”
The day felt like an emotional roller coaster ride, it was all so fast-paced. The highlight of the day was when Iren pooped in his potty as I was reading him a book. We praised him up and down.
At the end of the day, I recorded,
“My fear was unsubstantiated: Patti was calm and cool and played according to my potty training rules. She also brought us breakfast and lunch. Amazing. . . . I could never have done this without help. Thank You for sending Patti, God, who also did my laundry and more. Please help me love and bless my future daughters-in-law, should I have them, half as much as she blesses me and our family.”
Potty Training, Day Four
By day four, I felt confident enough to leave the house for a small test outing. I brought Iren to the library for the first time ever. He had a blast. He asked me to help him get a “ball” (the library had planets hanging from the ceiling). We colored, he made some new friends in the play area, I checked out some books on going to the potty for him, and he went potty on their big toilet.
My friend, Caitlin, told me about this method where you could train your kid in just a couple days. That sounded too good to miss out on. So I got the book. (I only discovered recently that it has 1,166 Amazon reviews, so I’m not the only one who has found this author’s advice to be spot on!)
Psyched Out by Potty Training
At first, what I read psyched me out:
I was supposed to keep my eyes on my two-year-old non-stop for the entire process?! I’m more of a hands-off mom, plus I have a five-month-old, so that just didn’t sound doable.
I also read that Iren’s success would depend upon me not being stressed out. Ha! Anxiety has been my middle name for years now. So I put it off for a few more weeks. I think I’d rather have changed two kids’ diapers for years than potty train!
But after Iren got blisters a second time from sitting in poo overnight, I knew it was time. Iren was ready; out of love, I needed to do what was best for my boy. The author also explained that it gets harder–not easier, as many believe–the older kids get. So after blocking off a week on my calendar two times, and bailing twice, I finally “set my face like a flint.” No turning back. July 8-13 we would do this.
And we did! I never could have done it successfully without Jamie’s book. Do yourself a favor and get a copy. If not for you, then for a young mom. The idea of potty training initially made me want to hide in a corner, but this book gave me the confidence I needed to empower my boy to learn a life-skill that he will use for the rest of his life. Thanks, Jamie!
That’s the question Typology podcast host, Ian Morgan Cron, posed in an episode I listened to yesterday. I’ve heard a variation of that question before, and it’s such a powerful one! Ian mentioned that he has started a list of what he would do if he weren’t afraid, so I started my list yesterday.
I imagine that when Ian posed that question, he had in mind big feats, like:
Climb Mt. Everest,
Write that book, or,
Start that business.
If I Weren’t Afraid, I Would . . .
But when I face that question head on, ordinary tasks come to mind:
Pick up a paintbrush,
Create a Facebook event page,
Hang a picture frame on a wall,
Cut a piece of wood with a machine,
Figure out why the video isn’t working on my computer,
My lack of confidence isn’t a new revelation; marriage to Trevor has revealed just how dependent and helpless I’ve become. (He’s always trying on new hobbies for size; watching YouTube videos and then renovating our house . . . amazing!)
Thankfully, Trevor continues to encourage me, “You can do it.” And slooooowly I’ve started to respond, “I know.”
Goodbye Fear, Hello Freedom
In fact, the other day I was thinking, I’ve given birth. Twice! Oh, and yes, I’ve written a book. But, I’ve given birth . . . twice! In light of that feat, I sell myself far too short. And I’m finally fed up with playing the role of helpless damsel.
So while Trevor practiced his sermon last night (he’s preaching on Mark 14:1-11 this Sunday), I pulled the Knackwurst out of the fridge, fired up the grill, and went for it.
I wonder if you can relate. You don’t have to tell me your answer. But do yourself a favor and ask the question of yourself. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Are you selling yourself short? Are you walking in the freedom Christ purchased for you, or are you still living as a slave to fear?
This past Lord’s Day, I was tempted to skip church. Trevor was leading worship at our church plant, so I was on my own for the morning. And when I woke Sunday morning, Saturday’s tears were still flowing. I did not relish the idea of causing a scene. Like, not at all.
But I hurried out the door, Rudolph-red nose and all, because I remembered that these are my people, and it is okay–even healthy–for them to know when I’m struggling.
In this week’s Lord’s Day post, I want to tell you about “our people”–just one of many families we love. They have an important need you can easily help meet, as long as you have the ability to communicate and the willingness to love a family you haven’t met yet.
Meet the Trouts
Meet Jon and Christina Trout. They were preparing to adopt back in 2016, when they learned they were pregnant with Grant. Adoption plans weren’t forgotten; just postponed.
In addition to his obsession with trucks, Grant also loves babies. Christina once told me that the greatest gift her parents ever gave her was a sibling, and she and Jon want the same for Grant.
So they’re ready to adopt again. Court certified and everything. Only thing is, it’s up to Jon and Christina to find the birth parents themselves.
The Part Where You Come In . . .
This is where you and I come in. Will you mention Jon and Christina to your friends, families, co-workers, and neighbors? Will you like and share their Facebook page on your social media accounts?
In this case, there is no such thing as oversharing, and you don’t even have to live in New York to do so. For all we know, their child could be in . . . Montana . . . or even Mongolia!
Thanks so much for loving our friends in this important, doable way.
I went into this Lord’s Day with a near-empty fridge and no menu plan. That’s not good any day of the week, but especially on a Sunday. For months now I’ve been working toward having my grocery shopping and cooking done Saturday so I can truly rest from my work and worship God on the Lord’s Day, as He designed.
So this morning, I asked God to please provide food for us this day. Here’s how He did.
A Favorite, Easy Breakfast Recipe: Floppy Eggs
Thankfully, Trevor didn’t have to lead worship at our Cazenovia church plant today, so I asked if he’d make his delicious “floppy eggs” for breakfast. He whipped them up—along with the last of the frozen hash browns—all while carrying Hudson in the carrier. What a “super-mom” dad!
God’s Daily Provision
I saw Steve walk into Missio with his arms full of fresh baked loaves of bread. Pick us, pick us! I silently wished. (Steve is an older widower who gifts homemade bread to congregants each Sunday.) Steve chose my father-in-law for his first gifting, and my father-in-law passed it on to us! God’s kind provision.
A Favorite, Easy Lunch Recipe: Tuna Melt Sandwiches
After service, we met a young woman who is newer to Missio, and invited her to lunch. While I nursed Hudson, I asked Trevor to pull some cans of tuna out of the pantry, and start making these yummy tuna melt sandwiches.
It’s a gamble, serving someone you don’t know tuna fish. But of all things, she exclaimed with delight when she saw it! Apparently her college housemates used to protest her use of tuna in the kitchen. Again, God’s sweet providence.
Our Lunch Conversation
This young woman is a speech pathologist resident who works at a nursing home. We learned a bit more about how unethical most nursing homes are due to insurance requirements, how patients’ health usually declines upon arriving, and how this woman is often asked by her patients to “please just kill me” (seriously).
It made me ask new questions like,
“Do we have more nursing homes in the United States than in other countries, due to our every-man-for-himself mentality?”
“How many nursing homes per capita does Syracuse have?”
And maybe most importantly, Am I willing to walk into those dreary, sterile places to offer hope? Maybe even with my sweet boys? (I have a few memories of playing the piano at nursing homes when I was younger.)
After a long walk (we kept running into people we knew), Trevor asked what was for supper. “I don’t know; God will provide,” I responded.
And then I remembered. Our sweet Muslim neighbors had brought us “Iraqi KFC” the day before, and we still had some in the fridge. We have some lettuce already growing in our garden, so we served it with a simple salad.
I’m so grateful for how God provided today—through my husband, through Steve, and through our neighbors. Now it’s time to buckle down and menu plan for this new week. Because most of the time, God provision for my family includes me planning ahead.
In an effort to get the most out of each Lord’s Day, I’ve been sharing highlights on my social media accounts the past couple of weeks (here on Instagram, and here on Facebook.) Today I’m bringing my Lord’s Day to the blog. Here are a few highlights from this past Sunday, May 5, 2019.
An Apology from Our Worship Leader
Our worship leader, Nate Maxfield, apologized to us for not including more songs of lament in our services. “The lament is our song this side of heaven,” he said.
The Fig Tree: When Jesus curses the fig tree, He’s acting out a parable rather than telling one. This particular parable is against Israel, as Israel is often described in Scripture as a fig tree or a vine. (See Jeremiah 8:13 as an example.) In this moment, Jesus is setting up what’s about to take place in the temple.
The Money Changers & Pigeon Sellers:Who are these men whose tables and chairs Jesus flips over? “Money changers” were the guys who exchanged travelers’ money for Jewish currency. These money changers were charging exorbitant exchange rates in order to pocket some hefty change.
We also know from the Old Testament that pigeons were the offering the poorest of the poor offered to God. These pigeon sellers were taking advantage of the poor, hiking prices for pigeons way up.
In his sermon, Adam pointed out that this whole scene was a battleground for glory. The religious leaders of the day were incensed at Jesus. They were fighting Him–the true Temple, the true High Priest, and the true and final Sacrifice–for power and glory. Why? Because they–and we–don’t easily give up what gives us significance. They were using what God had intended to be a place where people from all nations were welcomed to meet with Him, as a means to personal gain.
Again, I was challenged: Am I using Jesus to attain my dreams and gain significance, or am I on board with His mission, bearing good fruit as I seek to share the good news of the gospel with my neighbors all the way to the ends of the earth?
Christian, are you using Jesus as a means to an end, or does your heart beat for His agenda and glory?
Korean Egg Bread
I love it when Trevor cooks. He made Korean egg bread for breakfast. It had us oohing between each bite. If you’d like to make it, watch this video and find the recipe in the description. Then, if you’re interested, check out for more pictures from our day on Instagram, and Facebook.