Tuesday Tiny Tips

  • 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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  • 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.

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  • Family and Parenting Tip- Adoption

    This is a picture of an orphan from a third world country whose mom died of starvation. No dad in her life.

    When this picture was taken this baby was starving and had been eating clay to survive.

    You can’t see them in this photo but her body is covered with bites where intense insects were eating her alive.

    She has a bloated stomach from starvation and her ribs are almost sticking through her skin.

    Stick arms and stick legs.

    When her 18-year-old mom died of starvation, this baby’s cousin at 16 was trying to keep her alive. The cousin was starving so she traveled away from her village and gave the baby to some missionaries saying, “Please save this little girl, she is very special.

    The little girl in this picture is almost two.

    Do you know any two-year-olds or have you within the last few years. I have. It seems like just yesterday my nephews were two.

    Two-year-olds know whats going on. This little girl realized that her closest friend and source of love was gone when her mom died. She was left alone.

    She was without a family.

    My oldest son Josh was eight when this picture was taken. At the tender age of eight, he had orphans on his little mind.

    I know this because he asked me what our family was going to do about it.

    The little starving girl in this picture became Joshua’s baby sister.

    Yes. She is our beautiful daughter Mareah.

    The missionary woman who saved her life called us her Forever Family.

    It took a long time before Mareah began to heal from the brokenness of the trauma she experienced. There were some very rough years for Mareah, Carol and me.

    Now that we are starting to see the other side of the mountain of suffering, Mareah has told me many times that she is so grateful for parents who love her like we do.

    Through her years of brokenness, anger, and pain we have told her time and time again that there is nothing she can ever do to push our love away.

    Carol agreed with me several months ago and said that Mareah is a different person these days and laughs a lot.

    Because we are imperfect parents, there are still days that we grate on her nerves and get under her skin. And there are days that Mareah would admit that she is not a day at the beach.

    However, this forever family is here to say Satan will not have the final word in the story of the little girl he tried to destroy.

    There are more smiles than frowns these days on her beautiful Haitian face and the truth is, she just needed to really know that there was nothing she could do to push our love away.

    Mareah has told me she believes we will never push her away. She believes these days that she is the daughter of a Forever Family.
    There are millions of orphans who need a family.

    If this Tip is stirring something in your heart God may be trying to get your attention.

    Be motivated by God’s invitation to love, never by a sense of guilt.

    Ask yourself these four questions:

    Do you have a loving environment in your home?

    Do you have room in your family to add a son or daughter?

    Are you able to adopt? Not everyone is.

    Is God stirring your heart to adopt?

    If the answer to those four is yes, then there may be a little boy or girl somewhere in the world waiting for you to make the first move.

    For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

    I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me,
    -Matthew 25: 35 and 36a (NIV)

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