I love dates! And, I not talking about the fruit. Dates, romantic or social, are what I’m talking about! Simply put, dates are quality time with people I love. Because I am not a surfacy person, I enjoy the times where I can relate one-on-one or in small groups: those times are living water to me. The “set apartness” of dates are perfect for deepening friendships and developing intimacy.
While I haven’t gotten a gold star in the category of sleep this January, the area of dates has exceeded expectations. My lack of sleep has been partially due to quality time with a good book or two. I’ve started the second book of three in the trilogy Follower of the Word by Morgan L. Busse. No wonder I’m hooked. After looking up information to provide the link, I noticed that after about 900 reviews across the three books, she is averaging 4 1/2 stars! Yes, I am a fan. I’ve had to instill some old time discipline in limiting myself to one chapter before bed.
Another reason for lack of sleep is my darling teenager. When they are babies, they say, “Sleep when they sleep.” Good advice, but now, not so much. I can’t sleep when she does and she is up past when I need to sleep: I am not good at tuning her out, so I stay up! And, she sleeps much later in the day than I do. She inherited her father’s nightowlness. I used to be one of those fun types, but jobs, life, and age have forced my hand and now, I need more sleep—whether I get it or not.
We’ve stayed up several nights to watch a movie or catch up on a special show we watch together. I’ll take less sleep to have more time with my girl. Nighttime is when the girl wants to hang out…unless we are shopping! This is where the date part, daughter component, shopping detail, and reading enjoyment start to connect.
My daughter and I have had several dates around shopping. She had Christmas money to spend and something to return, so I took her shopping. (I attempt to avoid shopping in general, but especially shopping for myself–see My January Rest for more details). But, it isn’t fair to make her wait a whole month, because it is My January Rest (MJR), not hers. She will be the first to tell you that I am an impatient shopper, but I’ve come to see it as quality time and I’ve learned to take a book. Other than sitting on a hard floor minus a cup of coffee, I could be anywhere reading, engroused in the pages of the book. As of late, I am traipsing around fantastical countries with Rowen, waiting for her romance with Lore to blossom.
The book was mentally tasty, but not physically filling. My backside was getting sore, and she was nearly done trying on clothes. God smiled on me because my girl hadn’t eaten and it was after 2:00 pm. She asked me if I would stop by Wendy’s on the way home: she would buy her own because it was My January Rest. Instead, I offered to take her out; my treat. One of my Christmas presents was a gift card to Red Robin (they have a gluten free menu and gasp a dedicated fryer for french fries!) While burgers and fries are not on my get healthy list, I chose relationship over rules and off we went for our date. And as luck would have it, she didn’t have her phone. Bonus: we ate and talked! Along with my belly, my love tank got filled up!
In years past, when my daughter was little, we didn’t go out to eat at all in January. It was hard, but good. A few years ago, I realized it was harder to avoid eating out, and that it wasn’t entirely fair to our girl, who loved (at that point she wasn’t a full-blown teen) going out with us for dinner. Once, we lost money because of a restaurant closing and we had gift card expire. Now, I will go out—if I have a gift card—especially, if it will expire. That wasn’t going to happen again!
This year, I had a Panera card that would expire in a few days, so I got a cup of coffee and journaled about my winter break. Our family had some sickness, injury, and heartache. I wrote about it in such a way as to reframe my experience. I wrote where I saw God in the midst of the hard. After a half hour, I grabbed black bean soup to go, a cookie for my girl, and gave the 70 cents left on the card, to the young woman next to me.
Next, I headed to the studio, enjoyed the soup, and painted. If not for MJR, I might have felt like I shouldn’t have taken the time to stop at Panera. My January Rest gives me permission to take the time, to pause and reflect. It was a transformative selfie-date (minus the picture). More was accomplished at the studio, because a weight was lifted and I had a deliciously healthy meal!
Since I’ve been doing My January Rest for years, most of my close friends know about it: they graciously support me in it. We will meet at a home or meet at my studio. One group I’m a part of call ourselves, Girls Night Out, because we go out and try something new or someplace new. It is a lot of fun. We always shared food, but when I went gluten-free, it became harder to do that. We’ve adjusted and they have been fantastic. What did we do for January? We had a Girls Night In!
One my friends invited us over, banished her family for a few hours, and fussed over us a bit. We each brought something to share. We talked and realized we “stayed out” longer (even on a work night) than we generally do when we go to a restaurant. It was what My Rest is all about: it was relaxing, nourishing (friendship and food), and it slowed us down. Refocus.
Another favorite date this month was with God. After dropping my girl off at school, I planned on going to the closeby library at Heartland Community College to catch up on some reading and reflect on the Psalms for my Sister’s Bible Study. The month of January, we are taking a rest from an intense Bible Study, instead we are reading and sharing our favorite Psalms. After working our way through Hebrews with six days a week homework, the Psalms are a nice break! In February, we will explore a chapter book called, Sneezing Jesus. While Hebrews focuses on the deity of Jesus, Sneezing Jesus focuses on the humanity of Jesus. I’m looking forward to exploring Jesus deity-humanity dichotomy.
Rhythms are nice and our group has fallen into the nice rhythm of an inductive study (which are more intense), then a winter break reading the Psalms (sometimes called songs of Jesus or folk songs of Jesus), then we read and discuss a book. Over summer break we independently read the book selected, then come together for a social at the end of summer and discuss the book. It’s a rhythm that suits me!
Since we are sharing Psalms each week, I planned on stopping at the library instead of driving all the way back home. The library was close to where I needed to be in an hour. When I showed up at the library, it was still closed for Winter break–even though Google said it was open! I had a thermos of hot coffee, my books, and a journal. I was all set and disappointed.
Then I remembered the cafe, which is really a large cafeteria now full of self-serve vending machines with a lot of seats for students. I let the disappointment go and decided to make a cafe experience for myself. I found a nice booth (I could have any one in the place) and I set up my space to study and sip coffee. It was one of the outrageously cold days (that I’ve complained about enough already) so I put two pairs of socks on and dressed in many layers. Little did I know that I would be prepared: I don’t think the heat was fully on, since the campus was still on break.
Thankfully, clothing-wise, and with the thermos of hot coffee, I was warm enough. And I was warmed through and through—God gave me a special date with Him. I thought my trip to study and reflect had to be abandoned, but no! What I love, is in the moment before completely surrendering to disappointment, there was a spark of promise. My morning turned into an adventure with my love (God) and it ended even better than if my plan had worked.
My awesome husband, the other love of my life, took me out for a dinner date while our girl was away. Red Robin again! He is the one who bought the gift cards for me for Christmas. They have cheaper burgers and unlimited fries. He likes the unlimited fries! He lovingly tells me he doesn’t need dates, because he married me for the dailies of life. While I love the dailies of marriage too, I need the dates. And he indulges me. The time away, to focus on each other and explore other places, refreshes my focus toward him.
There have been other special times with friends too, but I fear you would get bored with my retelling of them all, so I chose a few memorable dates that came about because of My January Rest.
Do you take time for dates? How is your January going? Are you getting any rest and quality time with those you love?