Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Date Night

Traversing the bouldering cave at the rock climbing gym.

Every Tuesday, Jon and I have date night. Throughout our relationship, ever since it got "serious," we have had a once a week time that we designate as an open forum. Date night has always been a time when we enjoy the simple pleasures that we both enjoy - bike rides, walks, kayaking on our lake, dinners to restaurants we enjoy. They never need be expensive or exhausting. We have had many free date nights close to our house! Now, however, we do budget a certain amount of money every pay check to use on date night. I like a respite from the kitchen once a week! Despite the different activities we do, we always make time to have conversation that revolves specifically around us. We do, of course, discuss other things, but this is "relationship work time."

We have a tradition of asking these four questions:

What is good in our relationship?
What is bad in our relationship?
What are your dreams?
How can I help you achieve them?
I'm sure as life progresses those questions will change or be added on to, but for now they suffice. They give us an open, neutral space to discuss our relationship, help us to stay in touch with each other's perceptions of it, and figure out what is going on in the hearts of our spouses. While some people may not need a designated set of questions, we find it helpful!

For the past three weeks, date night has consisted of rock climbing and dinner out. I think that these have been some of the most fun date nights!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Whisper in the Rubble

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Elijah - Elijah probably had one of the hardest vocation in the world - prophet in a society that really didn't like him. Elijah, hunted by Jezebel, flees to the desert and cries out to God in the middle of his pain and human anguish. God, watching out for his beloved and chosen feeds him, then takes him to the mountain. This is what transpires:

1 Kings 19:11-13
"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face."
Much has been written about the significance of God's whisper here, and I have mulled this over a lot when I have been seeking to follow God's will. I am guilty of searching for the earthquake, the fire, the whipping wind. I want God to have giant flashing bulbs and arrows point in the direction I need to go, but it doesn't usually work like that. Sometimes God's silence is the answer.

To write candidly, this year has been the first time in my life that there has been a very clear silence from God. It was terrifying. It lasted for what seemed like forever. I searched and searched for his ever-present quiet whisper, those gentle nudges. I wish I would have found this passage earlier, because I would have known what would have come next - a conversation with God and the sweet relief of direction. (oh, but it's so hard to GO in that direction sometime! A whole 'nother post can be written on that!)

So - back to the story. God was there, quite after the violently whipping wind, earthquake and fire. Elijah, knowing better to look at God, pulled his cloak over his face and had a little conversation with God that went something like this:

Elijah: "God! What should I do?"
(paraphrasing mine.)
God: Go find these people and tell them what they need to do! I'll make it work!
And guess what - Elijah, the hunted, the hated, the divinely inspired, went down off the mountain where he had known fire and wind and movement and then finally, peace. He did what he was told to do, and God watched this, blessed him, and continued his presence in Elijah's life.

Photo by SLworking2

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Five Mile Challenge

Jon and I are on a quest for simplicity. We've been on this particular mission quite a while, and I have to admit that living in the country has simplified a few things in my life - I don't have the rush of things to do, decisions to make, and life certainly does go slower (though the weeks fly by still!). Our food is more and more local since things grow, well, right down the block. We "commune with nature" a whole lot more, since we live right in the middle of it, too!

However, we drive more. One thing about michigan is that it is just so darn car friendly and just so darn bike unfriendly - at least outside of the People's Republic of Ann Arbor. I have, even a year later, still not adjusted to the fact that what was 25 or 35 in Wisconsin is 45 (and since everyone goes ten over, it's more like 55!)

I had pretty much given up on bike commuting. Until, that is, Jon pointed out that we drive so much and everything is pretty much close by! *According to the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey, 25 percent of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40 percent of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50 percent of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. Yet more than 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle. Oops...and I call myself a cyclist!

Jon and I have decided that all trips five miles or less are going to, from here on out, be done via human power! He has also promised me he's going to finish the grocery getter bike tomorrow before work so I can effectively do this. In milwaukee, I NEVER had to think or deliberate about whether or not I'd hop on my bike to go somewhere - I would just do it...I have lost that moving out in the country.

I'm not sure what killed the commuting spark, perhaps the asshole michigan drivers, the really high speed limits, or facing commuting death on a daily basis? Or, maybe it was the one time I commuted the 55 miles home from work on our first 97 degree day, which included a two mile stretch down woodward...but, I'm ready to give it a try on a smaller scale, with the five mile challenge, and get back to my commuter roots.

Photo Credit: Amsterdamize
*Source: League of American Bicyclists