It was as if I were 21 again. I took more time getting ready than I had since before we were married nearly 10 years ago. I spent some time with a blow dryer and a curling iron. Some red polish. Lotion. He wore a tie and I pulled on heels. A dress. A sparkly thing in my hair. New earrings.
After getting the sitter situated with our three young kids, we went out into the dark winter night and headed downtown. We found a lucky parking spot, I lost an earring back, he found a pencil for me, and I fixed the eraser as a makeshift back as we walked down the city sidewalk. I felt like a real grown up with my real man on a real date, rushing through the cold dark, anticipating the evening together, the sound of my heels hard on pavement. But things aren’t always what they seem – and this wasn’t really a date. Because I? Was not the only girl in the room.
That’s my husband there in the middle of 10 beautiful girls – girls from our youth group at church. And you guessed it – he’s the youth pastor. We had a winter social, and it was fun. It was also his job. It was also not a date.
Except that it was a date. Because after 10 years and 3 kids, I’ve discovered that date nights are more of a frame of mind than a date on the calendar. There was a time when I would have complained my way out of a night like this, lamenting that if we spend the time and energy to get a sitter and dress up, by all means we should be alone at dinner! But I’m learning to find the date in the plans rather than always trying to plan the date. And while I believe that date nights (without 100 high school students around) are important, I’m also learning the importance of flexibility, and of finding the unique gift in what I’ve been given.
As it turns out, we really love high school students. And we really love each other. And that night was fun and relaxing and life-giving. When thinking about time with my husband, it helps to remember that life is a series of seasons, and youth ministry and having young kids is the season we are in right now. And it’s okay to embrace that, and to be flexible with the date nights.
Do you have a creative and unexpected date night story? We’d love to hear it and be inspired!
by Emily Freeman, Chatting at the SkyLeave a Comment
And yet, what an amazing example to give the kids in your youth group, of being happy, married and in love, hey! Thank you for reminding me that for everything there is a season:) Blessings, Jonny
emily freeman says
Thanks, Jonny! It helps me so much to remember the seasons of things!
Cindy in PA says
Last night while having four new tires and an alignment on my van, Wonderful Husband and I went out to dinner at the Texas Roadhouse. Weird question. How is it that the Texas Roadhouse started in Indiana? lol I saw us accomplishing a chore after a long weather-filled week of work, and the bonus was the dinner date!
emily freeman says
Love it. It reminds me of my sister The Nester who talks about how much she loves when things are imperfect, because it gives the opportunity for creativity and imagination. And often times, the imperfections are the very doorway through which we discover the even more beautiful things. Sounds like you’ve done this with your Texas Roadhouse date 🙂
Love this Emily! I’m getting ready to go into a busy season and I hope that I remember the wisdom you shared here!
i love this – date night is a frame of mind! well, my boys are getting older and are out a lot with their youth group (and my husband isn’t the minister!) so we end up with time alone these days. sometimes we go out sometimes we just enjoy the time at home alone. what’s AWESOME is that we love it and we have things to talk about and it’s ALIVE! our 19th anniversary is coming up and we are really really in love!
Angel Jones in NC says
Love the build up and surprising twist! Great truth to this season of our lives. A Wallyworld evening in our tiny town is valued as special now, where a fine dining spot was desired in the pre-mommy days. Either way I am thankful for all. Last night it was Movie-Pizza Friday for us and the out of town guests.
emily freeman says
Oh Angel – you remind me of how much I love “movie-pizza night”!! I think tonight just might be the night for it!
Love this, Emily! What a great way to manage your heart. You’ve taught us to not miss the sweetness of what is there, as opposed bemoaning what is not there. There’s something precious there about ‘sharing’ your husband with young gals…in a healthy and sweet way that also speaks to me.
Your heart is very generous.
Our date nights are usually going to get something to eat before we go get groceries, without out children. Just the other day, our van needed to be inspected and then the tag renewed. So we spent an hour waiting for the mechanics at the garage to look at the van. We were by ourselves and able to talk and spend some time together. For us, any time that it is just the 2 of us, is a date. I have learned to enjoy every little minute with him, regardless of the situation. 🙂
Barbara Collins says
I loved what you said about finding the date in the plans rather than making plans for a date. Our date nites sometimes come in the middle of the day running errands around town, or driving long distances to see our six daughters or just spending an evening at home watching tv alone when our 14 year old is sleeping over. It is a great way to think, it is and will be the catalyst for a solid marriage and God’s way of carving out slivers of time for you to discuss His plans.
My husband is the best at trying to create fun ideas for us, but we have 3 girls that make it kind of hard to do all the things we want so sometimes its necessary to enjoy each other with them around. So he surprised us with late night trip to our clubhouse pool where there is a 5 story sun deck. We all went up with blankets in tow and laid on the lounge chairs and stared at the stars. As the girls chatted and marveled at the stars and what constellations they saw, we snuggled on a chair together and enjoyed the closesness of us in a very romantic setting, with our kiddos, because if we don’t find time now, we won’t find the time later on. Besides, we are teaching our daughters how to love and how to be loved by a man.
emily freeman says
Yes! I love this…teaching our girls how to love and how to BE LOVED by a man. That is so important.
I love, love, love how you are setting the example of a good, romantical marriage.
“…because if we don’t find time now, we won’t find the time later on.” <—-that is awesome! so true! thanks for the reminder 🙂
Your words: “But I’m learning to find the date in the plans rather than always trying to plan the date”…i so relate. I had seen the date as another thing to organize, schedule and it sounded exhausting and, frankly, i often found myself convinced it wasn’t worth the effort.
Last year we put our youngest in preschool three days a week as we discovered that it was only $30 more per month than the two-day option. My husband typically has Mondays off. When the lightbulb went off that we could have potentially four dates a month for $30, it changed everything. Being able to spend time in the daylight hours (a big deal for a mom of three who is pretty weary at the end of the day!) is a gift. I am truly thankful for this gift of time.
Thank you, as always, for sharing your heart. Your words touch mine.
I love your creative heart (that understands real life)!
It can be hard to share a ministry husband…especially when your kids are small and you’re home all the time.
I have big kids now (college & high school) and date nights are so much easier when their lives are flying in so many different directions.
Still, there are times when “alone” would be cool!
Just this weekend, we thought we’d have some home alone time…..our college son pulled in the driveway unexpectedly. Change of plans!
But we had all our chicks in the nest at the same time and that’s a huge blessing when they’re growing up and moving on,
Thankful for a marriage that rocks and a family that does too!
What a great perspective!
I remember one anniversary date night when we had little money to spend. On the spur of the moment my husband stopped by a car dealership he had once worked for and they were in the middle of filming corny commercials. Guess what two lovebirds made an appearance in those corny commercials that night? Definitely a creative date night to remember!
emily freeman says
Bonita! I love that! So sweet…
Flower Patch Farmgirl says
Our date night was a bowl of guacamole and Ally McBeal reruns after the kids were in bed. We take ’em any way we can get ’em!
Also? You always have me thinking about how blessed those girls are to have you in their lives. Some of the most meaningful relationships of my life came out of youth group and, particularly, a past youth pastor and other adults who helped. I know how much they love you, because I know how much I loved my own. 🙂
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Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms says
Emily, this is beautiful, insightful, divine truth! My man and I have been married 15 years now, and like your words reflect…”date night is more of a frame of mind” we’ve learned that our dates can happen inside or outside our house. With our military lifestyle, family is never close and babysitters are often hard to come by. So, we date in our house when we can’t go out. We shut the laptops, turn off the “to-do’s”, and talk, eat a treat, snuggle! Sometimes we watch a movie together. While I wish we could get out-and-about more together, I’m content to take the gifts we have and make them work!
I love this, and I love you!
I’ve been thinking what I could share here, well, there’s some ‘what not to do’ that my husband has suggested (and we now laugh about) like ‘the life plan’ while we were interning overseas or calling supporters (in this same years) who we love, but, well, not quite;)
We have loved watching the Tim Hawkins dvd’s that we got two years ago (actually he bought them) when he came to our Campus Crusade staff conference in Colorado. My hubby told me he ‘made an investment in our marriage’ and that it has been. Side-splitting, knee slapping, being light and laughing after kids are in bed at-home date. I also figured out AFTER we had our first child that hubby gives great foot and calve massages:)
What an awesome example you set for those girls you TWO are leading. For them to see the example of a great marriage is a wonderful gift to those young eyes watching.
Holley Gerth says
Can I just say that you are too adorable for words? Look at you all dressed up with your man. LOVE It! My hubby and I have a weekly breakfast date–cheaper than dinner and they don’t care how long you take up a table at Panera. It’s my favorite time of the week. 🙂
…making note of this date idea! love it 🙂
Oooh, that sounds fabulous!
So beautiful and such a great reminder for all of us in this season of life. On our 10th anniversary, we were at dinner each assisting our 1 and 3 year olds with their meals when my husband said, “When we said ‘I Do’ it was ‘I Do’ to all of this. This, our family, is what is most important. This is really what anniversaries are for – celebrating THIS.” I’ve never looked at anniversaries quite the same! Thanks so much for sharing your heart!
I love that. Your husband is very wise.
I love your perspective! My husband and I have been married for 15 years now, and have 5 children. Now that our oldest is able to babysit, we have the flexibility to have a date night more often than when they were all so young. Our ideal date would be dinner and maybe a movie. Sometimes when our finances or time don’t allow for the ideal, we end up having a burger somewhere (with a “BOGO” coupon) and running errands. Remembering our love and commitment to each other and the season we’re in makes it fun…no matter if we’re eating good food at a restaurant or getting the groceries together. “…finding the date in the plans rather than always trying to plan the date.” Love it!
Angela @ Homegrown Mom says
It’s been months since my husband and I have been on an actual date-date. But we do go grocery shopping, to homeschool meetings, to get our taxes done… and it is TOTALLY a frame of mind!
i know this place from which you write. the time i’ve spent with my youth-pastor hubby knee deep in teenagers on retreats or missions trips has added a depth and richness to our marriage that could never have happened had it just been us two.
what a treasure, this life. this calling.
Very good reminders in here.
I think we all need to remember that no matter WHAT we are going through, it IS just a season. We will be with our SPOUSE the entire time we are on this earth and the relationship needs to nurtured. You don’t need fit the murturing in to the “typical” box of what the world tells you. You need to make up your mind to appreciate the little things and moments as they come.
Will definitely be passing this on to my “girls” 🙂
Katie @ Imperfect People says
My hubby was a youth pastor for 10 years. Such a blessing of a job. Beautiful girls in your gruop. I know they are over the moon that you put their pic on your blog. I love the date night re-cap before valentines day!
“….Because after 10 years and 3 kids, I’ve discovered that date nights are more of a frame of mind than a date on the calendar. …”
THAT is my favorite line… and the one I remember the least. We have been married four years with two small children. With my husband being in school/working and my working weird hours, there’s just not much time for a date night. Instead we have to work in time… have a lunch date, watch a movie while the boys are napping, etc. Glamorous? No. But, it is needed quality time with my husband, and I suppose that’s what’s most important. 🙂
Be grateful for any time with your husband(s), because you never know what may come. I lost my husband seven years ago and oh, how I miss any kind of “date” with him!
Mel @ Trailing After God says
That’s awesome! I hope my husband and I can work with the youth group soon. Next fall for sure, I will be as I’ve been asked by the church to write youth bible studies for them! I love being with the older kids. You are so blessed to have the chance to get all dressed up. I would like that 🙂
Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God
Looks like a great night!
Amanda @ A Sweet Life Rocks says
This might sound so silly, but here it goes…… I love love love our ‘in house’ dates. That is when we plan an evening in our own home. The evening includes our favorite food (usually too much of it), our favorite TV shows (old seasons of LOST on dvd), and lots of lounging/talking/whatever…… staying up late into the night.
You see, date night has always been a priority for us. We get a babysitter and go out alone quite often. We desperately need to. It is ‘staying in’ and bonding in the comforts of the home we have built together, in the atmosphere of peace we work so hard to cultivate……that is what I long for sometimes.
Sounds corny?? Why am I nervous about pressing “Submit”?
That has been my unexpected joy.
melissa @ the inspired room says
As a former youth pastor now pastor’s wife, I totally relate to this idea of finding the date within the plans. With three kids, a budget and 24 years of married life, we’ve had lots of dates involving simply coffee, walks or grocery shopping. One of our favorite dates has been roaming the aisles of our local gourmet food shop eating the samples they offer. Not as awesome as a dinner by candlelight, but memorable just the same. Love that you got dressed up, wore heels, and joined your man at the winter formal!! You are a great example to those girls!!!
yeps. Because if we wait for those magical alone babysitter-ed date nights…we might have to wait MONTHS and MONTHS! Soooo cheers to dvd rentals and ice cream and to running errands together at Home Depot, and everything in between. Of course, I still think a romantic night out alone is the hoooly Graaail…but I’ll settle for Chuck and a cookie.
hello gorgeous…and yes, i mean you! sounds so fun…winter social! and i know at the end of the night, he was glad he was going home with only one beautiful girl…his beautiful girl.
I’m another youth pastor’s wife. We had the night to ourselves last night because our foreign exchange student had a basketball team sleepover. Our date night turned into dinner with some old friends and a stop at the drive-through at Tim Horton’s for coffee before wandering the aisles of Home Depot for paint and carpet samples. And it was perfect because I was with my man.
Thanks for giving a part of your life to the youth group. My youth pastor and his wife still serve as such a strength for me today. Because they sacrificed so much of their life and time (and rides home afterwards), out of that grew my strong faith which has got me through unbelievable odds and keeps me close to Him.
Way to have your priorities straight, if you will.
A big hug to you.
Cindy Outlaw Gragg says
I enjoy your posts so much Emily! I am down at Faith and Troy’s enjoying Gracie.
I loved raising our 7 children–I just wish could remember more from those years!!
Your stories and insight always make me smile! Rod and I celebrated our 37th anniversary recently. You two remind me of us years ago. But I can truly say, now that I have been blessed with 4 grandchildren, that the later years truly are golden.
Elizabeth (@claritychaos) says
Having no money for so long has really helped us create and maintain the habit of ‘date night in’. Yes, we still have to get the kids to bed. But it’s no computer, no email, no facebook or blogs or Daily Show on hulu. Sometimes its dinner for two after the boys are in bed, sometimes it’s a movie, half the time it’s spent in bed 😉 – which you can’t really do on a date night out anyway!
we couldn’t swing a traditional date. and our date nights in have held some of our most quality times.
Elizabeth (@claritychaos) says
(and the key is that we *planned* these nights in advance and designated them date-nights-in.)
My husband offered to take me ballroom dancing over Christmas break so we could “try it out.” We took the free lesson the studio offered and really liked it, so now we are ballroom dancers. We go every week for a date night, and it’s wonderful! We have dinner, and then we spend an hour in each other’s arms. It’s wonderful and romantic, and it’s taught me a great deal about our marriage (read about it here: http://bit.ly/ibdZTJ).
Thanks for sharing your wonderful date night!
Richella at Imparting Grace says
When our boys were very small, we almost never got to go on a date. We lived 500 miles away from our families, so there were no “automatic” baby sitters. Money was too tight to get a sitter very often–and besides, we were in a tiny town, so there wasn’t really anywhere to go. But one autumn we were really longing to get away, to have some time to ourselves. . . so we hired a boy from the church youth group to spend all day Saturday with our kids. We drove to the nearest big city and had lunch together, then strolled around and looked at shops, then went to an afternoon movie, then had dinner together. The lunch and the dinner weren’t fancy, and the movie was a matinee, so none of it cost very much–but we were alone together for 10 wonderful hours! Our kids were happy that they got to play with Jason for so long; Jason was happy that he had the chance to earn some money; we were happy that we had a refreshing time away. Maybe it’s about time we did that again!
Your words really touched my heart, and also I just had to leave a quick comment to tell you how pretty you look in that picture!
Two of my four children are old enough to be in Emily’s hubby’s youth group, both boys. May I add that they LOVE “The Man” and Emily.They are excellent examples of Christ’s love and passion. I can’t wait for my girls to experience this someday soon. How fortunate we are. And they have even inspired my 16 year old to pursue youth ministry in college. Praise God! Love you guys.
My husband is a pastor and I home school our children, so I’m with our kids 24 x 7 usually. We don’t get out for dates all by ourselves all that often, but we look for times when we can spend some time alone. We, too, look at things creatively. I love getting all dressed up for a wedding where he is officiating. Yes, he is working, but I get to watch my man at his very best uniting a couple in the sacrament of marriage. Then afterwards we go to the reception and give our well wishes, then slip off together for a coffee and delicious dessert on the way home. Completely romantic! Other times, we put the kids to bed and then have a date night at home. We’ve been known to go sit out back under the stars with or without a little fire. But you’re exactly right–creativity and the right frame of mind makes all the difference in the world!
Ah, great post! I am always so encouraged hearing stories of other YP wives/families. It’s a wonderful calling, but such a unique one. Keep it up! You are letting Jesus use your marriage in such a mighty way. My husband is also a YP, and we have 5 young boys. Having children sure changes the dynamics of my role, but I still love it immensely.
Dates change as the years pass, but the devotion continues. Recently, I was able to spend several hours a day on dates with my husband. He couldn’t talk, and was paralyzed,by a stroke, but I kept my daily, day-long dates with him. I sat by his bed and crocheted a pillow cover. I would get my little foster son off to school, and spend precious hours with my life-mate, then pick up our little charge after school and finish the evening with him. My love graduated to a Re-Hab center, where we continued our silent dates. And I kept crocheting. By the time he came home, I had finished the pillow, which will always be a precious souvenir of our “dates” together, communicating but not communicating.
Happily, he is now home, walking and talking and our little foster kid has gone home to his grandma. Now, we have all the time we need together. Cherish your young years, because life is indeed fleeting.
Emily, you and your husband are building your Heavenly Home, hug by hug. God bless you!
Sometimes a trip to the grocery store or shopping for office supplies becomes a date for us. I’ve learned that anything we’re doing, if we’re spending time together, can be a date!
Teri Miller says
So sweet, and SO true! Gotta take those evenings and turn ’em into date nights whenever & where-ever you can!
I wrote about our “such-a-mom” date night here:
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