Tuesday Tiny Tips

  • Marriage Tip- Date Night Part Two

    I ended last week’s Tip about Date Night by thanking our marriage mentors, Dave and Ann Wilson, for challenging us hard to have a Date Night throughout our married life. Then I said that Carol and I are handing their challenge down to the next generation.

    One of the great blessings of doing the Tuesday Tips is hearing you, the readers, give feedback and encouragement about each week’s Tip.

    Last week I received an email from Sarah Dunlap, an awesome young mom, and wife who is married to a passionate youth pastor named Perry.

    Carol and I have been actively mentoring Perry and Sarah for a few years now (picture below was taken on our first night of mentoring four years ago) and today they are two of our dearest friends.

    When I say we are handing down the Date Night challenge to them, I mean they have picked up the ball and are running beautifully with it on a weekly basis.

    I was so deeply encouraged by Sarah’s email that I wanted to put the scheduled Tip for this week on hold and share with you instead, Sarah’s email:

    Brett, I love that so often when I read a tip it’s something I’ve heard you say frequently to us and not just something you think sounds great so you wrote it. I love these. 

    Perry came up with the best date night strategy last year for our current life season! I used to love to cook but I started growing weary of it for kids who rejected it and just from the daily grind of NEEDING to do it. But he knows I loved it so we started doing date night where we wait until the kids go to bed (no babysitter needed) and cook something brand new together.

    New recipe, fun ingredients. It’s so fun because the process of cooking together is a blast and he has an easier time talking and bonding while doing something together. Then we get to enjoy a fun new meal together like a restaurant but with the satisfaction that we made it together. 

    Since we save so much date night budget money doing it this way each week (all those dates are basically covered by our grocery budget), we go out once a month and we go big  we are going camping for a night tonight for “big date night!”

    Each month we take turns planning for the big date night and it’s usually a surprise for the other until the day of or a few days before if it’s more involved like an overnight. 

    Thanks for urging us to prioritize this!! It is like a cleft in a rock for our marriage, a safe place the Lord puts us in regularly for our protection. 

    Did you catch that last part? Sarah and Perry believe that a routine date night is a protection for their marriage.

    Dave and Ann, I know you read these Tips. What do you think? Pretty amazing and filled with great wisdom wouldn’t you say?

    Date Night: More than a cute idea? Carol and I would say it’s been a marriage saver for us. The very reason Dave and Ann challenged us so hard from the start of our marriage.

    Have a wonderful week. Thanks, Dunlaps! Thanks, Wilsons!

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    Right Choice Communications
  • Marriage Tip- Having An Awesome Date Night

    Our pre-marriage counselors Dave and Ann Wilson really challenged Carol and me to work hard at keeping a date night going once we got married.

    That was fantastic advice.

    Carol and I took up that challenge. We decided to see how long we could go dating week after week without stopping.

    We were married in 1989. I got the brain injury in 2007. When I hit my head I had to stop going out for a while because I couldn’t handle being away from home.

    From September 30, 1989, until June 4, 2007, Carol and I dated every single week I was home and only missed approximately 5 -10 times in those 18 years.

    Some people would say that is pretty crazy, but I am telling you that God used it as glue to help hold us together through some pretty tough times.

    There were always excuses not to go.

    We put it in the budget.

    We put it in the budget.

    I have heard a lot of couples do this; find another couple to watch your kids on date night and then return the favor on their date night.

    When we just had next to no money at all we went to the park and packed dinner from home. Or went to Taco Bell and spent a few dollars on tacos.

    Another excuse was being too tired.
    We went anyway.

    It really paid off and gave us a little retreat from the stress of work.

    This is the best Tip I can give for those of you considering to try to do a consistent date night: Do not talk on your date about anything controversial or touchy. If finances get you worked up, don’t talk about them on date night. Just have fun and stay away from “Hot Buttons” in your relationship.

    Some couples have given up on date night because they get together for their date and fight all night. Just have fun; you know you need the break.

    If there is any way to pull this off, try to go on the same night of the week each time. It is easier for it to become a habit this way.

    After I am done writing this Tip I am calling our favorite restaurant to get call-ahead seating for tonight. After all these years, date night is still so important to us.

    Thanks, Dave and Ann for the challenge, this has been huge for us and we are passing the challenge on to the next generation.

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  • Family Tip- The Tradition of Family Vacation

    Traditions are so important because they say, “This is who we are.”

    They give us a sense of history.

    Carol and I started life-long traditions from our first month of marriage.

    We had many different traditions and traditions with vacations were important to us.

    For as long as the kids can remember we have gone to the same place for our family vacation.

    Vacation means a weekend trip to Cedar Point, the world’s greatest amusement park. Which means we spend the nights at The Breaker’s Hotel, which is on the Cedar Point peninsula and though the hotel is over a hundred years old, they have kept it gorgeous.

    Some people’s important tradition may be to go to a different location every year, which honestly I think is great. But for us, the same vacation spot is still our tradition.

    When we arrive at the hotel we go for a walk on the beach, looking over the fence at the amusement park rides that we will be on the next day.

    That first night is always a special dinner 15 minutes from the park in Sandusky. And we would start the next day with the same ride when the kids were growing up.

    We have been doing this since 1993 and our vacation a month ago found us once again at Cedar Point. The seven of us, our future daughter in law and four great friends had the time of our lives.

    Threats of rain scared people away and we had the park to ourselves. Ten minute waits for the greatest collection of roller coasters on the planet!

    We were celebrating 25 years of family vacations and our kids made it a point to tell Carol and me that this year was in the Top 3 of all time best vacations.

    As the kids were growing up there were always reasons not to go on vacation, the biggest one being finances.

    So we put it right in our budget and saved each month for our once a year vacation over a long weekend.

    However, I will say there were two different years where we just couldn’t swing it financially. So we did a Staycation both times and stayed the nights at home while visiting local parks, the zoo and going to see a ballgame or movie.

    Carol and I and the kids loved it all the same.

    What are your next plans for vacation?

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    Right Choice Communications
  • Parenting Tip

    Some people may think the picture above is photoshopped. It’s not, it’s authentic. I know this because it was taken by one of my favorite photographers and I have followed his work for years.

    He and his wife Sandy are very close friends of ours.

    He was doing this photo shoot for one of our favorite ministries (Dutton Farms) and as he focused on the Lavender candle, this chicken (I think it’s a hen but it may be a rooster? I should know this) jumped up and into the picture.

    Click! Wonderful! Yes!

    I love this picture so much because it is authentic.

    Allow your family to be authentic. This was a huge goal for Carol and me.

    We were a family in the spotlight often (because of our ministry) as our kids were growing up. It was very important back then that Carol and I teach them how to respect other kids, grown-ups, each other and us as their parents. It was also very important to us that they be polite and not rude to the people around them.

    However, with that said, we never asked them to act differently when the spotlight was on and everyone was looking. We always encouraged them to be themselves and never pressured them to act a certain way in the public eye.

    Being a family on tour with my speaking ministry and meeting new people in every new city along the way was pressure enough without us being obnoxious, fake parents.

    We wanted our family to be authentic.

    Yes indeed, teach your children to respect people and be kind and polite to the people around them, and then let them be real and not put on a show.

    The photographer of the chicken and the candle (Greg McDonough) is one of my favorite photographers.

    But much more than that, he and his wife Sandy have an authentic young family with three children who are wonderfully polite and allowed to be themselves in front of all of us around them.

    And it makes a world of difference in their children’s lives.

    Read more
    Right Choice Communications

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