3 easy steps to a romantic steakhouse dinner at home

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3 Easy Steps to a Romantic Steakhouse Dinner at Home #KingOfSoup #ad

When Christy and I were dating in college, one of our “go to” dates was to go to one of the local steakhouses and order potato soup. We would sit and talk for hours, munching on the endless rolls they would bring us and savoring every bite of the creamy soup. It was something we did quite often. We even went there for potato soup and rolls after I proposed to her (and almost dropped the engagement ring into the Doe River). I guess you could say that potato soup has a special place in our family’s story.

Since those college days, we have eaten at some pretty memorable restaurants over the years, including an airplane restaurant and chapel-turned-microbrewery. I’m sorry to say that we haven’t taken many opportunities to eat at fancy schmancy steakhouses, though. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve eaten at some pretty amazing and romantic establishments. But we really haven’t gone out like we used to. And we haven’t shared a bowl of potato soup in a long time. Continue reading “3 easy steps to a romantic steakhouse dinner at home”

Sweetest Day is almost here!

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Sweetest Day #SweetestDay

What? You’ve never heard of Sweetest Day?

That’s OK. I’d never heard of Sweetest Day until a friend of mine from Chicago mentioned it while we were at Milligan.  I wondered.

Well…

Yeah. It is. It’s a made up holiday. Its roots have something to do with candy makers wanting to “bring happiness to those who were forgotten,” like the poor, old folks, and orphans. Since the first Sweetest Day in the early 1920s, the day has evolved into a day to spread goodness and cheer to everyone – especially your significant other, and especially if you decide to give away sweets. Because that’s what makes it sweet, right?

So, it might be true that Sweetest Day really is nothing more than a made up holiday in a thinly-veiled attempt to get us to buy more chocolate on the third Saturday of October, even though we’re already stocking up for Halloween. It’s still a good opportunity to make sure that Special Someone knows you’re thinking about him or her. Right? I mean, who doesn’t like being told that they’re on someone’s mind?

Go Big or Go Home?

You could choose to go all-out and do something like plan a romantic getaway with BedandBreakfast.com. Since Sweetest Day is always the third weekend in October, you might want to check out south central Indiana. It’s beautiful this time of year!

eCreamery $10 Off Banner AdOr there’s ice cream. There’s always ice cream. What’s sweeter than ice cream? That’s the perfect gift for Sweetest Day, do’t you think?

And what makes ice cream an even better treat for Sweetest Day? Personalized ice cream!

We like to say that there’s always room for ice cream, even if you’re full beyond full. That’s because ice cream oozes through the cracks. It’s proven.* Because science.

Of course, if you haven’t done it yet, you could always try your hand at writing a love note.

Or, there are a few other small gifts you could give for Sweetest Day. They’re simple. They’re corny. And they’re sweet. For Sweetest Day. Get it? And you can find many of these items at Dollar Tree (you can order them online with FREE In-Store Pickup. [Restrictions may apply]). So it’s a pretty good deal!

Socks

Sweetest Day gift

Who says you have to give food for Sweetest Day? You could give a pair of socks with a note attached that says something like “You knock my socks off!” They could be serious socks. They could be silly socks. It’s really up to you!

Corny? Yes. Absolutely. But wait. There’s more!

Donuts

Donut you know I love you? #SweetestDay Sweetest Day

Or you could always surprise that Special Someone with donuts (or some other type of snack cake) with a silly note like “Donut you know I love you hole lot?” Or something like that.

It’s goofy. I know. You might even call it punny. But it’s a simple way to celebrate Sweetest Day, don’t you think?

I know there are other simple, punny Sweetest Day gifts you can give. Share your ideas in the comments below!

I hope you have a fun day, sharing sweetness with your friends and family!

 

 

*No. It isn’t proven. This is just a joke. But it sounds good. Doesn’t it? That’s why we use it as an excuse to eat ice cream.

7 last-minute Valentine's Day ideas

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7 last minute Valentine's Day ideas

It’s OK. It happens sometimes. You were planning on buying something for your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day, but you wound up putting it off. And putting it off. And putting it off. And now you’re sitting here on the brink of Valentine’s Day and you’re empty-handed. Good luck getting a dinner reservation. You’ll need a police escort to make it to your local store’s cards aisle at this point. And flowers? Forget about it. You’ll have to take out a loan to get some now. And you probably don’t have time to order them online and get them delivered by Valentine’s Day.

It happened to me once, some 20 years ago. It was Valentine’s Day evening and I was working at an ice cream shoppe at the mall. A card store was nearby. I figured I’d mosey on over to that store during my break. I could easily buy a card and some nice little token for Christy and it all would be just perfect. I thought I was planning ahead.

I was wrong.

By the time I got there, about an hour before closing, all of the cards had been bought. There wasn’t an appropriate Valentine’s Day card in the entire store! And they had already replaced all of the Valentine’s Day gifts with St. Patrick’s Day gifts! I was doomed.

Maybe you’re in a similar predicament. You’re stuck. Valentine’s Day 2016 just might be a disaster. What are you supposed to do?

Thankfully, not all hope is lost. Here are some things you can do to rescue your Valentine’s Day…

1. Breakfast in Bed

Breakfast in Bed

Grab your waffle iron, a can of cinnamon rolls, and some maple syrup. In just a few minutes, you’ll have some amazing waffles. Just follow these simple directions. It’s a great way to start off the day.

Or end the day. Why not flip the script and have breakfast in bed for dinner? This is a sweet little recipe and would a perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day. Or any other day, for that matter.

You can take this meal to another level by making some mimosas. It’s a pretty simple drink to make. Here’s how.

2. Plan a weekend away.

The gift of a getaway
Take the initiative and plan a romantic weekend getaway by pulling out all the stops. You can still give her a card and some candy, but why not keep the Valentine’s Day spirit alive by celebrating it at a later date? The hotels and bed and breakfasts won’t be as crowded. And you can save money doing it! If you purchase the BedandBreakfast.com Getaway Gift Card, they’ll throw in an additional gift card on qualifying purchases. That’s a great deal. It’s like they’re giving you money for procrastinating on Valentine’s Day.

3. Give Candy

I know. Candy is so predictable. But what if you grabbed your loved one’s favorite candy bars and created an amazing candy bouquet? That, friends, is going above and beyond. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of creative energy to make one. But it shows you’ve been paying attention. Right? How else would you know what candy to buy?

4. Speaking of candy…

If you have a little bit of time to get it done, you could always make a Valentine’s Day piñata. Check it out here.

5. Buy Tickets.

VenueKings.com

Why spend so much money on flowers and candy – things that aren’t going to last? Why not make a memory instead? Tickets make great Valentines Gifts! Save $6 Off orders $40+ at Venue Kings! Code: VKHEART16 (Exp.2/14/16) Find Tickets Now! From athletic competitions to concerts to musical theater, VenueKings.com gets you access to almost any event you can think of.

You’ll make this a Valentine’s Day to remember by surprising your special someone with tickets to a great show. It’s definitely something to consider. Right?

6. Go to a movie.

Here are some family-friendly movie night ideas for a great Valentine’s Day.
There’s plenty out there to see. Go. Share some popcorn and a drink. Maybe grab some dessert after the film. It’s a classic date. You can’t go wrong with a classic date. Buy your tickets through Fandango. and save yourself some trouble.

7. Write a love note.

write a love note

Grab some stationery. Put your thoughts on paper. Tell your significant other how you really feel.

Come on. Just do it.

Here’s the deal…

Yes, Valentine’s Day is a big deal to some people. But we can do many of these things any time. Don’t limit expressing your love on just Valentine’s Day. Let’s work on finding some creative ways to say “I love you” all year long!

Love notes. They're not as tough as you think they are.

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How Do I Love Thee

Cards and love notes. Those are a big deal. Right? Well, they might not be a big deal for you, but they’re a pretty big deal for us. It all goes back to when we started dating almost 20 years ago. And while we don’t really give as many love notes to each other as we have in the past (after all, I’m no Casanova – remember?), I’ve discovered a few cool ways to share that you care through the written word.

I think the thing that keeps many people from sharing notes with each other is the misconception that you have to write some type of long sonnet similar to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. You really don’t have to write anything long. Or even profound. Sometimes the effort is the most important thing. It could be just as simple as one of my favorite poems:

The gift of a getawayRoses are red
Violets are blue.
Some poems rhyme
Some don’t.

Try it. Write your own. It might be more fun than you think.

Of course, you don’t have to try your hand at poetry. And you don’t have to write some long piece of prose that will sweep her off her feet. Sometimes, the simplest of notes will do. You can grab them from a a book of quotes about love. Or the Internet. Or the Bible. Or a combination of the three.

What if you can’t wait and want to give it a try right now? Well, you’re in luck. Here are a few quotes that would be perfectly suitable for a little love note. You can put it in a card. Or on some fancy stationery. Or on a sticky-note (or on a bunch of sticky-notes). Or you can text it sometime in the middle of the day. Or you can write it on a mirror.

No. Really. Get a dry erase marker and write something on the mirror. It wipes right off. And then you could write another note the following day. And the day after that. And the day after that. And I think you know what I mean.

And what is a kiss when all is done? A rosy dot over the “i” of loving. – Edmund Rostand

Love conquers all things: let us, too, give in to love. – Virgil

‘Tis you alone that sweetens life… – John Hervey

Look at you! You are beautiful, my true love. Look at you! You are so beautiful. Your eyes behind your veil are like doves. – Song of Solomon 4:1 (God’s WORD Translation)

Or you could copy Ms. Barrett Browning’s well-known love poem, Sonnet 43. It would probably take up the whole mirror if you decide to go that route.

These are just a few suggestions. I’m sure you can come up with your own. So what are you waiting for? Valentine’s Day? Well, that’s a good idea. I’m sure you can come up with some pretty spectacular notes for that special day. But why limit love notes to only one day a year?

I’m no Casanova. But we can do better, fellas.

Hearts

You might remember the series of  guest posts that I published a year or so ago. They were written in response to this question: “What’s the most romantic thing someone has done for you?” You, Dear Reader, responded . Some pretty awesome posts were written. Here they are, in case you’ve forgotten…

 

See? Pretty awesome stuff.

You know what wasn’t so awesome? The amount of times I was told, “I don’t think I can write thing. [Insert Name Here] isn’t into doing anything romantic. I’m lucky if I get a card for Valentine’s Day.”

Unfortunately, there have been several seasons in our relationship where Christy would say that about me. I have had a lot of great ideas for romantic gestures. I just…well…I haven’t been very good at following through and carrying them out.

I have always struggled with forgetfulness. And I’ve had a perpetual inability to follow through on things throughout my life. That kinda comes with the ADD territory.

Case in point:
2015-01-14_04-31-22

That book in the photo? I bought it for Christy as part of a “12 Days of Christmas” series of gifts that I gave her last year. My thinking was that I’d fill in a page each day for the next 50 days (because there’s 50 pages in the book). Pretty neat idea. Right?

It’s still blank.

Not because I can’t think of anything to write. I can think of tons of things to write. I can come up with countless words to talk about what I love about my wife. She’s pretty amazing. But I still haven’t sat down and filled in the blank spaces on that book.

I need to fix that.

I’ve managed to discover all kinds of tips, tricks, and methods to help manage my ADD and get things accomplished. I’ll probably share some of those at a later date.

Things like this book and dozens of date nights I’ve conjured up in my head? They still suffer from poor execution. Throw in our busy schedules, three kids, and a limited budget, date nights and other romantic efforts have been put on the back burner. It’s easy to do. Unfortunately.

I’m not making excuses here. I’m merely sharing my struggle. Because there really isn’t any excuse. So I’m preaching to myself as much as anyone when I say this. There’s a reason hotels come up with a Man Proof Package  where everything’s taken care of and a guy just simply can’t screw it up. There’s a reason a co-worker of mine, who used to work at a pharmacy, has already reminded me that Valentine’s Day is approximately one month away (she was always amazed at how many guys were in a panic searching for last-minute gifts on Valentine’s Day evening). There’s this stereotype that is floating around that most guys wouldn’t know romance if it slapped them in the face. Unfortunately, many of us have unintentionally reinforced that preconceived notion.

We can do better, fellas.

Simple Date Night IdeasLet’s do better. Let’s start working at making this stereotype obsolete. We can’t wait until the evening of Valentine’s Day to start dating our spouses. Because practice makes better.

As you know, I’m no Casanova, but I’ve recently come to realize that it doesn’t require a giant production with enough candles to burn the house down and enough roses to awaken the entire neighborhood’s allergies to have a memorable time with your significant other.  I’ve also discovered some simple date night suggestions that I’d like to share on this blog.  And I hope to share some fun ways to say “I love you” along the way, too.

I’d like to build a nice resource here. One that will be helpful throughout the year. So keep checking back as we work to shatter this stereotype.

A lifetime of romance [Guest Post]

Christy and I have known Jon and Cindy for more than a decade. Cindy was at the airport when we brought Mihret home. She took some pretty amazing pictures. They have a similar heart for orphans and adoption. Oh – and they happen to have just started another amazing adoption journey. You really should check out 2000 Tutus, which is their fundraising effort. Who knows? Maybe you’ll buy a tutu

or two.

See what I did there? 😉

Cindy wrote a great post about romance. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You might laugh some more. Enjoy. I know I did. Thank you, Jon and Cindy for sharing your story.

 

Cindy and Jon - 25th Wedding Anniversary

My husband and I started dating just before Valentine’s Day.  Twenty-eight years ago.  Wow. That sure sounds like a long time ago, eh? Before you categorize us as those old folks who are about to impart marital wisdom, though, don’t. First of all, we aren’t that old.  Just so you know, we ancient ones have a one-year-old daughter waiting for us on the other side of the world.  Secondly, while we’ve learned a thing or two about marriage and relationships, either of us will be the first to tell you that we’ve probably got a thing or two left to figure out.

So back to that first Valentine’s Day.  It was our first “official” date.  It was wildly romantic.  It included flowers and candy, my favorite Mexican food and the company of a handsome young man who seemed pretty taken with me, as well.  It was perfectly perfect.  It was the beginning of the two of us spending every opportunity together.   Within weeks we were talking about our future. Within months we were shopping for rings. And on the following New Year’s Day, he asked me to marry him. On a beautiful fall afternoon in 1988, we sealed the deal.  Husband and wife.  Till death do us part.  No take backs.  We were so ridiculously giddy.

What is the most romantic gift I’ve ever received?  I could never answer that in a sentence.  I could never qualify one thing as the most romantic.  How could I pick? That’s akin to choosing the most significant moment in my life.  ONE??  No way.  For the same reason, I resist personality tests.  I prefer questions that have only one answer.  The ones where it’s based on interpretation?

Kill me now.

I can tell you we’ve lived a lot of life in the past 28 years.  Army life, wartime deployment, infertility, cross-country moves, childbirth, unemployment, loss of parents, international adoption.  These are just the biggies.  Each of these is a chapter of its own. And, as in any good story, the chapters are interwoven, with one pivotal moment evolving into the next.  In between are the everyday moments that fill you with such emotion that a chapter wouldn’t contain your thoughts.  And then you find yourselves nearly three decades down the road.  There was definitely romance at the start.  So where’s the romance now?  Wait.  Refresh my memory.  What is romance?  I’ll admit it.  I looked it up.  On a side note, back in the day, that would have meant touching an actual book.  We are that old.   Blessedly, the internet is at my fingertips because I probably couldn’t even find that book in a reasonable amount of time.  Anyway, if we’re talking the textbook definition of mystery and excitement associated with love, then, as the cliché goes, how do you keep the romance alive over the course of a lifetime?   In that regard, I can say that romance has managed to maintain its presence in our relationship in the company of one or all of these things: commitment, forgiveness, a healthy sense of humor and a willingness to take a leap of faith here and there.  And anything that falls into any of those categories qualifies as the most romantic gift ever.

Jon and Cindy Martens wedding

Let me explain.  That mystery and excitement? It definitely ebbs and flows.  It’s easy to earmark the big ones.  Flowers on holidays.  Dinners out.  Breakfast in bed.  Sweet gifts.  It’s definitely flowing on those days.  But those other things take work and a daily effort to keep on keeping on.  And those other things help you to claim that romance on the days when it’s ebbing a bit.  Like that first week of married life where we thought it sounded romantic and adventurous to drive through the night to Fort Lauderdale.   Round about 2 am, we discovered we were not drive-through-the-nighters.  Reality washed over romance in an ebbing sort of way.  Or the first Valentine’s Day after we were married.  Remember, the bar had been set high, so I had pretty hefty expectations. My sweet budget-conscious young husband came home with a little bundle of grocery store flowers accompanied by a frozen pizza with a coupon on the box for free tickets to the latest John Candy movie, “Who’s Harry Crumb?” Um, we’re ebbing here. Or the year he brought me a new blow dryer because I’d mentioned I needed one. Thoughtful, but ebbs-ville, dude. Or the year we were too sick to even consider a romantic dinner out, let alone breathe through our noses, and curled up on the sofa with our fellow runny-nosed little ones.  Blew right past ebbing on that one.

But I can just as easily name the times the romance flowed that weren’t accompanied by a gift or romantic gesture.  The day we were baptized together, incidentally on Valentine’s Day of the year we were married. The time he stuffed a tiny black puppy under his coat with an air of permanence and headed to the register to pay for her.  The card he wrote to me on our tenth anniversary, listing a significant life event for every year.  The willingness to go with me to a concert he knew nothing about just to make me happy.  The way he didn’t run the other way when I told him I heard God speak to me.

Out loud, people.

The obedience to pray about my crazy idea.  The tears in my husband’s eyes the night I knew he was in it with me. The night of our 25th anniversary in a hotel room in Florida…on the one “only us” vacation we’ve taken since becoming parents…he made sure we took the time to complete and submit our adoption application for our second adoption and our fifth child.  Mystery and excitement associated with love? You bet.

I think the frozen pizza story may be my favorite marital anecdote. I was so annoyed at his seeming lack of romance at the time.  Now it just seems silly.  There have been plenty of days since I would have knocked someone over for a frozen pizza and free tickets to any movie, let alone flowers on top of it.  More than his sense of romance, it showed a lack of my own.  Being married is hard work.  As much as we love each other, some days, I dare to say it’s hard to like each other.  But it’s still for keeps. No take backs.  This is where the commitment, the forgiveness, the humor and the faith come in.  Those things filter out our imperfect human ways and leave the one gift that’s always perfect, love.  Now that’s romantic.

p.s. If you’re wondering how we’re celebrating this year?  We’re grabbing Qdoba take-out, lighting the fireplace and curling up in our pajamas with a couple of our kids to watch a movie.  And we’re using a coupon.

Wedding Dreams – a guest post

Leah was one of the first people in Muncie that I followed on Twitter way back in the day. She has been a constant encourager since Day One. It’s also partially because of her that I have my current job. She’s good people. So if you aren’t following her (@LediaMedia), what are you waiting for?

I am humbled that Leah would share such a moving story for this series of posts about romantic things people have done. He definitely sounds like a keeper, Leah! Thanks for sharing your story!

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When Matt initially asked me to write about romance, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I’m not what most people would consider romantically inclined … Sure, I like chick flicks, and yes, I cry every time I watch the Notebook, but for the most part I get annoyed by the mushy, gushy stuff. I laugh at emotional moments in movies (which can really make people who love that crap very upset.) I guess I can’t help it … romance in movies is so over the top that I can’t imagine things like that happening to me or anyone I know in real life.

I’ve been thinking for about a week about my answer to your question, “What’s the most romantic thing someone has ever done for you?” After lots of soul searching and scanning old journal entries, I realized that I’ve been blessed with lots of romantic gestures over the years.  However, this one particular moment sticks out in my mind. Read on for my answer…

Leah

My boyfriend and I have been dating for five years, or is it six? I have trouble keeping track of that sort of thing. Anyway, the topic of marriage came up while I was watching Bridezillas on Netflix (and he was watching me react to the hilarity). We were snuggled on the couch, laughing at the upset bridal party and disenchanted groom, and started talking about weddings and how stressful they can be.

ME:
“There is so much to do for a wedding … I don’t know if I can handle it.”

HIM:
“No matter how much effort you put into planning, something will go wrong.”

ME:
“Yeah you are right. What do you think is going to stress you out the most when we get married?”

HIM:
“Figuring out how to keep you fed throughout the entire day so you don’t get hangry and insult our guests.”

So why is this an earth-shattering and distinctly romantic moment for me? Because I realized that he knows me (and what’s important to me) in a way I never imagined anyone could. He “gets” me and loves me anyway, hanger and all.I'm sorry what I said when I was hungry t-shirt

That’s LOVE, people.

Will loves Heather. Heather loves Will [guest post]

Will, Heather, and their kids used to live next door to us. We enjoyed getting to know them during the short time we were neighbors. When I asked Heather if she’d write something in response to my question about romance, I knew she’d have something awesome to say.

Glad to know I wasn’t wrong.

You can find out more about Will and Heather’s journey by reading her blog. And if you have a story to tell, I’d still love to share it. It’s not too late! Just let me know and we’ll get things started.

Thanks again, Heather, for sharing your story!

Heather Loves Will

Matt asked me if I would do a guest post about something romantic that Will has done for me, I was quick to say yes. I then began thinking about our ten years, almost eleven, that Will and I have been together and it was harder than I thought to come up with something. I don’t know if I would call Will a romantic all the time, but at least he tries. 🙂

Grinstead wedding photo

When I look back on the years that we have been together, I can think of many ways that he has made a great effort to make me feel special. I remember for one anniversary. He put together a scavenger hunt with clues he made himself and each clue that I found had a rose waiting. The last clue was waiting at a nice restaurant with him waiting for me for dinner. I remember the time that he stayed up late working on a paper for one of his classes and I got up the next morning and opened the laptop to check email and facebook and found about 50+ sticky notes all stuck to the screen and keys with something he loved about me written on each one. (I still have them) I remember the time he searched the internet for recipes that he could make and he cooked me a candlelight dinner and it was actually amazing! I remember the times that when I would have a rough day with the kids, he would prepare a bubble bath for me with candles and soft music. I remember the morning that he made breakfast in bed for me. And the list could go on and on.

As I was thinking about our years together, I also remember the not so good times. For a younger couple, I feel like we have been through some things that not many can say they have been through for our age. We have faced the loss of jobs, infertility, the loss of a child, several moves, deaths, etc. What some couples would not make it through, we did and those things made us closer. We have had our bad times but we have also had some really good times. We have gone on trips and have have been really blessed by God. Some of our best times are currently sleeping soundly in their beds with their blankies and their favorite stuffed friends. Whenever we have a rough day or a day of uncertainty, we tend to take a look at our precious children and all the worry goes away. God answered our prayers for children, so we know that God hears our prayers even if we don’t get the answers when we think we should or if we don’t get the answers we want.

Grinstead family

As I took a trip down memory lane in my mind for this post, I realized something.

My husband of almost seven years doesn’t always have to be romantic. There is something that means more to me than any gift or any romantic evening he could put together. Something that this world is lacking and needs more of.

My husband is my husband.

Duh, right? No really. He fulfills everything that a husband should. He loves me unconditionally, he still gives me compliments, he is a GREAT father, he respects me in front of our children, he takes care of me,  he comforts me when my hormones rage and my mood can go from happy to sad in seconds, he still has that sparkle in his eye for me even if I have gained some pounds since we met, he protects me, he provides for me, and the most important…..my husband loves God.

To me, that is more important than any flower arrangement, dinner out, bubble bath, or breakfast in bed. A husband that loves and serves God is something this world lacks, and I am so glad that I have one of those rare finds. He prays, he makes sure we are always at church, he is a leader, and he truly has a servants heart.

So to my Valentine, I have loved you from day one through the good and they bad and the ugly. Yes, we get on each others’ nerves and sometimes we just need our space from each other, but my love for you gets stronger with each passing day as we search for where God would have us. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for always loving me for who I am and for always supporting me in my decision and crazy ideas. I am so glad you are the father to our children and that you love all of us unconditionally. I believe that God brought us together for a reason and I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with you. Here is to many more years together filled with love, laughter, tears, heartache, mountain-top experiences, and fun.

I love you, Will Grinstead for now and for always.

A guest post about Motherhood, Romance, and Yearbooks

Christy and I met Jason and Rachel around two years ago – just a few months after we moved to Greenwood. Whether we’re serving together in our church’s Children’s Ministry or hanging out in Life Group together, I’m happy to say that they have become good friends of ours. And in a pretty cool plot-twist, we share the same wedding anniversary as Jason and Rachel do. We were married just a few hours apart! Pretty spooky, huh?

I am honored that Rachel was willing to share part of their story with you. I’m not ashamed to say that I may or may not have needed some tissues when I read the end of this.

**This post is part of an ongoing series in response to this question“What’s the most romantic thing someone has done for you?” You have a story to share? Let’s hear it! Shoot me an email at mattdantodd[at]gmail[dot]com and let’s get it started!**

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In the world, every day, 361,481 babies are born. Many of them – the best estimates (more like guesstimates) I found are around 81% – will stay with one of their natural born parents. They will see their mothers for the first time on their birthday.  For the rest of us, the adopted ones, we may never meet those that gave us life.  That is unless you are married to this man!

Jason and Rachel Long

Meet Jason Long. He is a steadfast husband, consistent father, and great provider for his family. We were married on 8/15/1998 in the tiny church I grew up in, in Reelsville, IN. We made a home in Austin, Texas for several years while he finished college and I worked. My husband is many things; however, a Romantic? Yeah, not so much. He is kind, loving, passionate about University of Texas football, and supportive of the kiddos and I, yet I still wouldn’t call him Romantic…except this one time.

On April 26, 2000 I only became a mama for the first time. It was a girl! A dream come true! Yes, she was healthy. Yes, she was smooshy and succulent and kissable and MINE! Yes, she looked…

wait a minute…

she looked LIKE ME. ME!

This was, at the age of 25, the first time I met someone that favored me. My steadfast hubs (after almost fainting at the joy that is childbirth) noted this in his engineer brain and saved it for what would become a single gallant act of Romance.

Now you know the back story, fast forward three years. Now I am 28, I have two kiddos and we are 5 years into our marriage. I am contacted by my bio-mom’s sister (that is only 6 years older than me, another fun story for another day) and the ball is in motion to meet my bio-family. I am so excited, I can’t stand it!!!!

Thhhheeennnn tttthhhiiinnngggss sssllllooowww dooowwn.

Although Auntie and I are ready to meet, bio-mom is still dealing with the trauma of “giving-up” her only child, me. I was a source of pain to this person and that broke my heart. I decided to let it rest rather than push another person to confront their past. I would leave it, hence causing myself this empty melancholy that I didn’t know existed before I knew there was hope to see her.

The Hubs gets to stand witness to this ordeal. I hurt, so he hurts. When a man of his level of wonderfulness sees his beloved in pain, there is but one option, sooth her. He didn’t try to fix it, but did do all that is within his power apply a salve of kindness. Unbeknownst to me Jason took a day off of work and went to Franklin Central High School were my bio-mom had graduated from. He used his sly cunning (or he just asked nicely) to see the year books from the three years that surrounded my Bio-mom’s possible graduation date.  He found her. He copied every page that had her picture on it, every club, and every candid, all of them.

He got home early from “work” that day. We had dinner, we did baths, we did stories; no big deal. After the kiddos were snug in their beds, he came to the table to talk. Now, this usually meant I had forgotten a bill or we needed to cut back here or there, but tonight was different.

He pulled out a manila envelope and with love in his eyes and tenderness (and maybe a tad of fear, because, really, at this point, my reaction could go either way) in his voice explained what he had done that day and why he had done it. He slid the envelope to me and I looked upon the second face that looked so much like mine. Tears were in abundance and I have never before and never since felt more “romanced” by someone then right in that moment.

Bravo, Jason, Bravo!

 

What is Love? [Guest Post]

What is Love Guest post

I met a little more than a year ago when she accused me of cheating with my chocolates. Me. Little ol’ sweet, innocent me. A cheater? Impossible. I still argue that I just looked so pathetic that the kind lady couldn’t help but notice that I needed help boxing those chocolates, but I guess I can see her point. You could say that I might have had an unfair advantage. But since all of us got to take some chocolate home, I think we were all winners that evening. So I’m pretty sure we’re past that controversy.

I really appreciate the thoughts Liz (@eternallizdom) shares on her blog, Eternal Lizdom. So I was excited when she agreed to write a guest post in response to my question, “What’s the most romantic thing someone has done for you?” I’m sure she’d love to hear what you have to say about her thoughtful response to this question. Feel free to either leave her a comment on this post or contact her via email at gentlemomlc [at]gmail[dot]com.  Thank you, Liz, for writing such a great response!

What about you? If you’d like to tell about something romantic someone has done for you, I’d love to share your story! Shoot me an email and we’ll get the ball rolling.

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What is the most romantic thing someone has done for you?

Eternal Lizdom

That’s a hard question to answer. While my mushy side sometimes wishes for grand gestures of demonstrative love like flowers and chocolates and fancy date nights and serenades, I have to say that I haven’t had a lot of that Hollywood type romance in my everyday real life. My husband’s proposal didn’t have a production crew and will never go viral on YouTube. No one leaves rose petals on the steps and we never light candles because we seem to always lose our matches.

I do remember a boyfriend when I was in high school that I accused of not having a fun and spontaneous side when he scoffed at our double date friends and I for dancing around in a public park wading pool at 10 p.m. When I challenged him and told him that if he really loved me he would jump in with us, he not only jumped in but laid down in the water. I have to admit to being pretty impressed.

But that relationship didn’t go anywhere. That love wasn’t really Love.

I’ve been married to my husband, Jeff, for 10 years now. I think we’re a pretty standard family. We live in the suburbs. We have 2 kids. We both work full time. We’re involved in our church. We pay our bills on time. We go to doctor and dentist appointments and meetings with teachers and play dates and kid events and activities. We try to schedule time for a date night when we can but that only seems to happen once every few months. We support each other in our individual interests (for me, it’s going out to dinner with friends and for him, it’s participating in Star Trek Attack Wing tournaments). We watch TV and sometimes have a movie night and we both like to read. We eat out more than we should and we’re both terrible about cleaning the house.

And I think all of that is about as romantic as it gets. For me, all of that adds up to something that is the most important thing and that’s choosing love every single day.

I believe that love is an action word.

When my husband clears the snow from my car, that’s love.

When I remind him to take his medicine, that’s love.

When he does the dishes or takes out the trash, that’s love.

When I cook dinner, that’s love.

When we have a disagreement and snip at each other and then we kiss and make up, that’s love.

There are few things better in my life than holding his hand or feeling his arms around me. We laugh together, sometimes at strangely inappropriate times. We find each other attractive – the “spark” is certainly not lacking. I know that he is plugged in to our family, he is committed to me and to our kids and to our marriage.

So it might not be something I can show off or something flashy or something that will go down in any books of romantic history. The most romantic thing someone has done for me? It’s my husband choosing to love me and making love an action each and every day.