Category: Nov/Dec 2011

Balloon

balloon2I had a humbling experience not too long ago.

I was at a carnival with a friend and her 2 or 3 year old niece. The little girl was given a bright balloon, which my friend convinced her to give to her mom for safekeeping.

While we were in line for a game, the little girl looked up to the sky, then suddenly became quite anxious. My friend and I looked up to see a bright balloon floating away. The little girl began to whine and squirm. My friend smiled and shook her head. “That’s not your balloon.” she told her niece. “Mama has your balloon.”

The little girl, however, wasn’t convinced. She was almost in tears at the thought of losing her balloon. She didn’t take her eyes off it floating away in the sky until we reached her mother.

“See?” my friend said. “Mama had your balloon. And look! She got you a bunch more!”

Not only was the little girl’s balloon still there, safe and sound, but it was now surrounded by four more balloons.

How many times do we panic as we watch something slip out of reach, even if it was really never ours to begin with? We hold tight to our idols; our shiny objects that we are sure belongs to us.

But in reality, nothing truly belongs to us. Everything belongs to God. The Lord gives and takes away because everything is His to give and take away. We try to keep things for ourselves, but we can never own them. We even do this with the people we love because we fail to accept the fact that people can’t belong to us. We need to realize every human being belongs to God. Digging our nails into someone out of fear of losing them only makes matters worse.

But even in our anxiety, how much more does God give us? When the little girl thought she had lost her precious balloon, she came to find that not only had she not lost it, but she had gained even more. God gives us more blessings than we could ever attain from going out and trying to get them ourselves. Sometimes when we’ve think we’ve lost what’s important to us, we sooner or later realize that it we didn’t truly lose anything, because it was either never really ours or because God had so much more to give us.

Verse to Think About:
Matthew 7:11
So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.

10 Romantic Pizza Ideas

chocolatepizza2Want to spice up your Saturday night pizza tradition? Try one of these romantic pizza ideas!

Make Pizza Into a Heart Shape
This is fairly simple to do if you’re making it yourself. Just form the pizza dough into a heart and cook. You can even find that some pizza places will do this for you if you ask, so don’t be afraid to!

Make Pizza Bite Sized and Feed Each Other
You can have a bit of fun with this one. Hold your sweetheart’s pizza “hostage” and feed it to them bit by bit in exchange for an answer to a question. Ask them things like, “What is your favorite thing about me?”, “What is your deepest fear?”, or “If you had a band, which instrument would you like to play?” The fun thing about pizza is that you can feed them with a fork or your fingers!

Write a Message Using Toppings
Think Valentine’s Day candy hearts. Take your toppings of mushrooms, bell peppers, or sausage and write out a message such as “I luv u”, “ur lovely”, or “true love.” It doesn’t take a lot of time to do, and it’s sure to make your pizza date just a bit more memorable.

Form Hearts With the Toppings
Cut out the pepperoni into heart shapes if you have the time. If you’d rather take a less time consuming route, just form heart shapes on top of your pizza with the toppings. Your sweetheart is sure to find it adorable.

Get Out the Fine China
Create a gourmet pizza and then use the fine china. This improves the ambiance considerably, making it far more romantic.

Surprise Your Sweetheart With a Pizza Delivery
If you know they’re putting in some extra work at the office or studying extra hard for a test, why not drop by with a free pizza delivery? Make sure it’s their favorite pizza! If you don’t want to make the pizza yourself, or you simply don’t want to distract them from their work, order a pizza from a local place and have it delivered to their door.

Go to a Ritzy Italian Place
As great as your typical pizza delivery places are, they completely lack the ambiance of a fine Italian restaurant. Pizza is usually overlooked at fine Italian places (pasta seems much more popular) but it could be an overlooked gem!

Base Pizza Recipes Around Aphrodisiacs
Aphrodisiacs are foods that are supposed to make you feel more sensual. There actually is no scientific proof that aphrodisiacs work, but they are pleasant on the eyes and light on the stomach. How about trying a breakfast pizza made with walnuts, bananas, and honey? Or a dessert pizza made with chocolate and strawberries? Or you can just add chile peppers to a cheese pizza. Look up aphrodisiacs and find out how they earned their place in this category, then discuss it over your invented pizza.

Make a Pizza Together
Have one person make the dough, the other make the sauce. Make mini pizzas with experimental toppings and discuss the results.

Go Long Distance
There are a lot of amazing pizza places in the world. Do not feel confined to your own area! If there is a review for an amazing pizza place that’s 3 hours away, drive there. Go to Chicago. Go to Italy! The romance is in the spontaneity and thrill of going somewhere unknown.

5 Dinner Dates

diningTrying to come up with a romantic twist on your usual Friday night dinner for two?

The Reminisce Dinner
Try and recreate a memorable dinner from a previous time in your relationship. You can go to the place you went to on your first date, or recreate the dinner when you realized you were completely in love with this person, or have a picnic where you proposed. Talk about all the things you loved about each other when you first met.

Foreign Dinner
If you’re going to insist on Chinese take out, at least do it right. Set up the dining room to reflect the culture of the dinner you’re having. Play popular music from that country in the background. For your menu, create popular dishes from their history or look up a popular restaurant and recreate some of their menu items. Dress up in a way that reflects their culture if you want to. Then, create a cheat sheet of romantic sayings in that country’s language and be sure to recite them during dinner!

Dinner and Dancing
Dinner and dancing may be losing its edge. It’s harder to find places that have dinner and dancing, and most people don’t try it because they can’t dance! But both of these are terrible excuses for not trying your hand at this wonderfully romantic dinner. If you can’t find a place that has dinner and dancing, clear a spot in your house or in your backyard. Split your meal into courses, and insist that the payment for each course is a dance. If your problem is two left feet, there is a solution. Many dance studios and nightclubs have social nights that teach simple dance steps for a lot cheaper than private lessons.

Character Dinner Date
This dinner is for the really bold, creative people. Pick characters from novels, movies, or even video games if you want and have dinner together in character. Turn the dinner into a theme, using menu items that are inspired by your characters. This is a great idea for a dinner party or double dinner date. You can do this in public if you’re brave enough!

Dessert Sampler
Not all dinners have to be based around chicken or beef. Create a half dozen mini desserts, not skipping out elegant presentations of the dishes. (You can either split the task of making assorted desserts, or you can go to a local bakery and pick up a few different items.) Some countries consider cheese a dessert, so if you’re not in the mood for sweets, make a cheese platter instead.

How is Your Speech?

speech2We could all take mental note of how we speak to our spouses. When you have gotten to a place in your relationship where you are comfortable enough to say anything on your mind, you forget to take caution to what you are saying. Before you speak, test to see which category your remarks belong to.

Encouraging Verses Discouraging
Some people feel the need to be “reality police.” They do not encourage big dreams and they do not welcome change. There are enough people in the world crushing your spouse with reality. Encourage your spouse in their interests and desires, even if it is not in your own best interest. You can be honest with someone about the situation without dragging down their enthusiasm. Your job is not to tell your spouse what will or will not succeed. Your job is to stand by your spouse whether they succeed or fail.

Hopeful Verses Hopeless
The last thing a person needs when things go wrong is someone saying how hopeless the situation is. A lot of hopeless statements include pessimistic elements such as, “We’ll never get back on our feet again after this set back” or “Now our kids will never get a good education.” Not only do these statements hurt the person you are saying them to, but they are also false. No one knows the future. What your spouse needs is someone who encourages them to work through what has happened. No situation is hopeless. Be the voice that says so.

Honest Verses Dishonest
Is your husband really the most selfish human being on the planet? Is your wife really the most agitating person you know? Probably not, so why say it in the heat of an argument? It is in the midst of intense emotions that people make false accusations against someone’s character. For example, you might call your husband lazy for not mowing the lawn all weekend, but in reality you know it is not true because works 50 hours a week. It is not fair to accuse someone of a character flaw they do not have simply because you are not getting your way. And if you do honestly think they are lazy or selfish or agitating, do not speak of it out of anger or heightened emotion. Say something such as, “I know the economy is hard, but I do not feel like you are doing all you can to support the family financially.” Bring it back to how you feel, not to what you think the other person lacks. Let them reflect on their own character and make a decision about it. You are not around to fix your spouse’s flaws.

Loving Verses Manipulative
Love includes freedom. Love has nothing to do with trying to control someone or rigging an event to lean in your favor. Guilt trips and false accusations are forms of manipulation. We want someone to react to us or a situation a certain way, so we throw out things like, “You don’t really care about my needs”or “A good wife wouldn’t do that.” The more you try to manipulate someone, the more they are going to resent you for it.

12 Days of Love-Mas

starOn the first day of Love-mas, I got from my true love: A full day of nothing but us
Schedule a day where from sunrise to sunset, it is nothing but you two. No phones, no emails, no tag-alongs – just you and you love.

On the second day of Love-mas, I got from my true love: 2 concert tickets
Pick a band your partner loves and buy tickets for you both to go see them live. Don’t pick a band you like and they are okay with listening to, pick one of their favorites.

On the third day of Love-mas, I got from my true love: 3 different kisses

Be creative with your kisses on this day. Try something weird like an upside-down kiss, something classic like a kiss to the hand, or something traditional like a mistletoe kiss.

On the fourth day of Love-mas, I got from my true love: 4 new hubcaps

When was the last time you bought something car-related for your sweetheart? Buy them some shiny new hubcaps that really makes their car pop.

On the fifth day of Love-mas, I got from my true love: 5 minute hugs

Hug your partner at least 5 times today, for 5 minutes each. See how much 25 minutes of hugging a day can improve your relationship.

On the sixth day of Love-mas, I got from my true love: 6 scoop sundae
Make the ultimate romantic sundae. Use 6 scoops of your sweetheart’s favorite ice cream and toppings. (Not yours!) Surprise them with it when they get home. Share the sundae together by candlelight.

On the seventh day of Love-mas, I got from my true love: 7 love letters
Write your sweetheart a love letter each day this week, but don’t give them to him or her until the end of the week. Wrap the letters in a bow and leave them on the doorstep or their pillow.

On the eighth day of Love-mas, I got from my true love: 8 compliments
Try giving your sweetheart 8 compliments in one day. Spread them out over the day and see how it cheers your sweetheart up. Every relationship could do with a few more compliments.

On the ninth day of Love-mas, I got from my true love: 9 heart shaped cookies
Bake some homemade cookies and carefully decorate each one lovingly. Wrap in a box and give as an elegant, surprise gift.

On the tenth day of Love-mas, I got from my true love: 10 reasons why I’m loved
Tell your love 10 reasons why you adore them. Be specific and elaborate. For example, anyone could have “pretty eyes” but your love has “deep, emerald eyes that piece through the heart every time someone looks into them.”

On the eleventh day of Love-mas, I got from my true love: 11 romantic songs
Pick 11 romantic songs that have special meaning to you. Put them on a CD or MP3 player and give them to your sweetheart. For ideas on songs, check out our article “Love Song CD” for song ideas.

On the twelfth day of Love-mas, I got from my true love: 12 white roses
White roses symbolize honor and purity. They are usually used for marriages as a reminder of new beginnings. Attach a vow to your white roses, promising an honoring attitude towards your relationship.

Craft Idea: Pumpkin Centerpiece

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFall produces a lot of wonderful pumpkins for decorating. Why not make a romantic centerpiece for your table?

Materials:
1 small pumpkin
Pumpkin carving knife
Spoon (to clean out pumpkin)
A small assortment of flowers
1 LED tealight candle (Not a real tealight candle)

Rinse off the pumpkin, then carve a large hole in the top around the stem. Gently pull off the “lid” and toss out. Clean out pumpkin seeds using a spoon, and scissors if need be. Put pumpkin seeds in a dish to be baked later. (See recipe below.)

With a pencil or pen, lightly draw your design on the pumpkin. Make it a heart, a message, or something that is symbolic of your love. Carefully carve it out of the pumpkin.

Get a bouquet of flowers and cut the stems. Note that these flowers won’t last very long without water. You can use fake flowers if you’d like, or simply leave the flowers in the centerpiece for the duration of dinner and then put them into a vase afterward.

Needless to say, don’t use a candle in this pumpkin while there are flowers in it. For a firelight flickering effect, use an LED candle.

Pumpkin Seed Recipe: Put pumpkin seeds in a strainer and rinse, removing the excess pumpkin membrane. Spread out pumpkin seeds on a greased cookie sheet, add some salt, and put in the oven at 350° for about 15 minutes.

Should You Date?

frogsThere is no rule saying that everyone needs to be dating. There is no rule saying you should “try on” members of the opposite sex to see “who fits,” and there is no rule saying once you are old enough to get married that you have to date. In fact, many painful and complicated relationships could be avoided if people took the time out to ask, “Should I be dating now?” And there are a few situations in which the answer should be “no.”

Reason #1 – You Want a Relationship Because it Will “Fix” Your Feelings
Some people reach out for romantic relationships when the other areas in their life are falling apart. There is a huge problem with that: relationships do not take away problems, they add to them! That infatuation high that distracts you from the hardships of life is nice, but it is going to pass away sooner or later and you will just end up having a bigger mess to clean up.

The truth is, if you are unhappy outside of a relationship, you will probably be unhappy in a relationship. On top of that, you are going to end up taking that relationship down along with your feelings. A relationship will not cure depression, anxiety, or even abandonment and insecurity issues. Sure, it will distract you for a while, but those feelings will resurface themselves and your relationship will suffer for it.

If you feel like a relationship is the only way to “cure” you, you are going to be gravely disappointed. No relationship can cure your suffering, except for the relationship you have with Christ.

Reason #2 – You Are Too Young to Get Married
If you are too young to walk down the isle, you probably do not need to get into a relationship. Although you are not too young for romantic feelings, the truth is, dating at a young age causes more problems than fulfillment. Relationships are complicated, even for people at a marrying age! As a teenager, your focus should be on your friendships, schoolwork, and hobbies. These things solidify your future and need all the attention they can get.

Relationships at a young age might do more damage than good. Dating can cause a lot of anxiety, confusion, and pressure that you do not need to deal with at this time. It can turn into one big distraction. It is not that your feelings are not real or are not important, but just because you want a relationship does not mean you are actually ready for the responsibility of one, or that it is profitable to have one.

This is probably the only real time in your life where you will be able to focus on what you want to do and where you want to go. Take it. You have a better chance of meeting your future spouse while pursuing your interests than you would making googly eyes at someone in a classroom. Remember: if God wants you to be married to that person someday, He can bring him or her back to you easily in the future.

Reason #3 – You Are Not Really Ready for the Full Commitment
Just because you are old enough to date, does not mean you have to. Dating can be seen as a recreational sport, and people will tell you to “go have fun,” but it is really not “fun” for the person sitting across the table from you who actually is interested in the full commitment. Dating someone without intending to commit is leading them on. No one deserves that. If you still want to date without intending to commit, at least be honest about it. State your intentions at the very beginning to avoid any unnecessary damage.

From another angle, if life it too hectic or your focus needs to be elsewhere, you are probably at a point where you are not ready to commit the way you need to. So don’t. No one told you that you have to. And if someone did, they are wrong. Pursue a relationship when you are ready to, not when other people tell you to. You will only cause a bigger mess by acting prematurely.

Reason #4 – You – or the Person You Are Interested in – are Married to Someone Else
It seems like so obvious a reason that it needn’t be mentioned, but some people need a gentle reminder. If you have made a lifelong commitment to someone, that is the only person you are allowed to date. It does not matter if you are on the rocks or even separated, your commitment was made to God and in front of a bunch of witnesses. (Remember that line, “For better or for worse?” This just happens to be the “worse” season.) It is not acceptable to break it your vows because you do not “feel” like keeping them. Your feelings are not in charge of controlling your actions. Dating someone else is only going to hurt them, make your life more of a mess, and ruin your marriage even more. Dating around will not make you feel better about your suffering marriage.

On the flip side, if you are interested in someone who is married and is pursuing a dating relationship with you, think about this: all the promises and commitments they make to you, they made to someone else first on a much larger scale. Hardships come in every marriage; long periods of marital storms are inevitable. If they bail out when times get hard now, they more than likely will do so again later.

Just because you want to date does not mean it is profitable to. Look at your life and decide if it is something you should be doing. Even if you are ready for marriage, but do not think the time is right, it is better to wait.

There is no rule that says dating is a requirement! Do not feel pressured to. You will not miss out on anything if you choose to wait.. Your future spouse might thank you for it later!