It never fails… once I begin to feel like I’m getting a handle on this church planting thing, our lives get even busier. There are rarely nights home as a family… our laptops come out to finish work as soon as the kiddos are in bed… and my hubby and I forget to connect. It isn’t until we are laying in bed, ready to say prayers, that I realize… “I have so much I want to say to him… but he’s almost snoring already! I should have put my laptop down and just forced him to talk to me earlier.” Ha!
The thing is, within our marriage, I’m not the only one who notices when we barely have time for each other. Just the other day, Michael spoke to me, with a slight whine to his voice. “Hun, are you going to be busy every night this week with meetings?” He gets it. I get it.
So… when we realized we had to get a handle on our time together, we sat down and made some specific choices that are helping our marriage.
Put Down Technology
For us, after a certain time (decided by both of us), we put down our laptops, phones and turn from the TV to actually engage in each other. We need to talk about anything BUT work. (And it’s usually church work that we want to discuss…)
This is something that begins to lack noticeably when we began to become more and more busy. As of now, we’ve stopped grabbing a bite to eat even when we’re running late from soccer. We go home, make sandwiches (or I prepare something in the crockpot beforehand) and we sit down as a family and talk. I’ve seen a huge difference in our boys’ lives. They are more self-controlled, less whiny and are more content than when we’re forgoing our dinners around our table. Plus, we take this time to discuss serious and silly matters that we don’t normally talk about (and they LOVE this.)
Regular Date Nights
Many of you may think… “Yeah, yeah, yeah… we’ve all heard that before.” But seriously people… are you taking dates with your spouse regularly (at least twice a month)? This is so important! And they don’t need to be extravagent! We have had a date as simple as putting the kids to bed, grabbing a “redbox” DVD and snuggling on the couch.
No kids allowed. Seriously. We have, since we were newlyweds, made sure that we have an escape away from our home in order to reconnect with each other. Every other year, at least, we schedule a weekend away (using calling our parents to come and stay with the kids) and GO. We usually take this time to focus on us as a couple… and not on anything else that’s going on around our lives. (Check out a Weekend to Remember… they have great marriage retreats and hotels lined up fairly often.)
This is extremely important. My husband and I have decided that we will try to take a minimum of 2 vacations as a family. Find someone reliable to fill in your shoes at the church while you’re gone and go visit family that lives in another state… travel more to stay at a resort hotel with water slides for the kids… or plan a quiet camping trip. We all need time where our kids will see us “stress-less” or more in tune to them. Sometimes getting away from your church can be useful. It will give you a time of rejuvenation, stillness and extra bonding time for your family. When you return to your church plant, you will be ready to jump back in, fully recharged.
It’s Worth It
True rejuvenation will occur when you see the fruit that God has planted within your church. You will watch as it grows and matures into something beyond understanding. I love this passage in 1 Thessalonians where Paul is speaking so sweetly to the church there.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 (The Message)
9-12 You remember us in those days, friends, working our fingers to the bone, up half the night, moonlighting so you wouldn’t have the burden of supporting us while we proclaimed God’s Message to you. You saw with your own eyes how discreet and courteous we were among you, with keen sensitivity to you as fellow believers. And God knows we weren’t freeloaders! You experienced it all firsthand. With each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life.
13 And now we look back on all this and thank God, an artesian well of thanks! When you got the Message of God we preached, you didn’t pass it off as just one more human opinion, but you took it to heart as God’s true word to you, which it is, God himself at work in you believers!
Keep pressing on, friends. Remember that God is with you and wants the best for you… no matter how busy you become!