Thursday, January 24, 2013

What Does a Healthy Dating Relationship Look Like?

How can you tell if your current dating relationship is a healthy one? Or, if you are thinking about dating, what should you aim for within a relationship? Here are five thoughts about the factors that make a healthy dating relationship:

  1. We are all wonderful creations of God! When Jake dated a girl in high school, the first time he picked her up for a date he was met by her father who had a machette in his hands. He said he was weed whacking out back with it but we all know he wasn't. The foundation of any healthy dating relationship needs to be the idea that we are all created in God's image and looked at as His sons and daughters. Therefore, we should be honored, respected and treated in a way that lives this fact out.

  2. We need to learn how to be completely selfless... We need to learn how to put another person before ourselves and to consider their needs more than our own. We recently wrote on this issue here.

    ...however this doesn't mean we let people walk all over us. A healthy relationship learns give and take. A completely unbalanced relationship tat is all about just one person is not healthy. It is not selfish to express needs and expectations within your own relationship.

  3. De-emphasize the physical stuff. Our bodies are hard wired neurologically and physiologically to progress through a pattern of deeper and deeper connection. Our physical connection is supposed to be the deepest and most intimate. Our culture however likes to put this first and doing so can actually damage our ability to connect in the most healthy way.

  4. Keep faith first. We both have wondered over and over again how anyone makes it in a relationship with Christ in their lives. Points one and two are almost near impossible without Him in your life. Prayer and connection on a spiritual level helps keep your relationship pointed in the right direction.

  5. Remember the holymess... Relationships take work and obviously that's the underlying theme of our entire blog. Just because there is a fight, disagreement or difficult season in your relationship doesn't mean you should end it right away. As we say all the time, it's the messy and difficult things in our lives that actually lead us to holiness.

    ...however, sometimes breaking up is the most healthy thing to do. Part of the point of dating is to assess how much work a relationship would be to maintain and then making the decision about whether you are up for it or not. Ending a relationship just because it's hard is not a good reason but abuse, lives going in two different directions, a different set of morals or other things are good reasons to end a relationship.
Jake and Melissa

If you want to check out the video or audio version of this info, click the links below:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Life Update


I'd just like to share some bits of great news with all our wonderful readers. Firstly, we are happy to say that after an intense, emotional year of waiting, a judge finally decided to terminate the parental rights of our foster son's birth-parents. This sounds harsh, but it is the best decision for our son. And we are beyond thrilled. We wait another three weeks for the appeal period to be over and then we can move into the adoption process. Our little guy turned one this week and had his first ice cream and enjoyed smashing a cake. He's walking now and says, "Raaaarrrrr!" when we ask, "What does a dinosaur say?" His smile lights up the room and we are so blessed to have him in our life. We can't wait for the day when we can legally call him our son.

Secondly, I (Melissa of course, it would be weird if it was Jake) am currently 20 weeks pregnant! It was a definite surprise after years of failed fertility treatments. We had actually decided to try 2 rounds of IVF this summer. A decision that was not made lightly. We made the choice not to discard any embryos, but it turned out that part of our fertility problems was embryo quality. Meaning the embryos would stop growing and not develop into a baby. Hence the miscarriage I had before. So we did have enough to try the two times, but both times failed and we hung up the towel on biological children. The doctors said that we could probably get pregnant if we kept doing round after round of IVF, but that it wasn't likely to happen naturally. And so we decided to be fully done with fertility stuff and if we ever wanted child # 2, we'd just trust we could adopt again somehow (having faith at this point that our foster son would be adopted).

So I went back to running, got off all the crazy meds, enjoyed my wine and beer again and wham! One month later, a pregnancy test came back positive. I actually put off taking the test for a couple days. I was like, "No Melissa! We are not going through this again! It's not happening, you let it go, so go have a glass of wine with dinner and forget about it." But I kept having this nagging feeling. And sure enough...a couple weeks later we heard a heartbeat! It was the weirdest moment. Right up there with walking into a hospital a year ago and leaving with a beautiful black baby, hoping no one would think I'd stolen him :)

So far baby Kircher is developing well. However, as joyful as this is, the pregnancy has been far from easy for me. I like to say, "There was a darn good reason it took six years to work!" I have been sick the entire time (all day morning sickness, virus, sinus infection, UTI, food poisoning..etc.) and I swear this kid is going to come out with ten heads after all the medication I've been on. I've been in a lot of pain as well. So we'd love prayers that my body would toughen up a bit and the rest of the pregnancy would go much smoother. But we ARE excited AND freaking out about having two little ones under two by June. How fast and crazy life changes after years of waiting!

Needless to say life is flipping nuts. I'm sick all the time, the kiddo is running around now and getting into everything, Jake's working full time and I'm trying to write part-time. Oh and we have our first marriage book coming out this February (Published by Group Publishing, more info to come). AND I'm turning 30 next month. Oh the humanity!

I think Jake and I are both learning a fair bit of "letting go." Ha! So much letting go has been happening over the past year I feel like it'd be really nice for God to be like, "Alright, now here have some control over this." Not to be of course. God has His plans. I have mine. Sometimes they're the same, sometimes not. What are you gonna do?

We've also been learning to laugh. Maybe me more than Jake. I have a hard time taking it easy. But a 1-year-old has now put me in my place. He is constantly doing things that make Jake and I look at each other and die laughing. The other night we gave him a plain old pancake and the kid acted like he was high as a kite! Laughing and giggling and eating and going, "Mmmmmm" and laughing hysterically some more. Grinning from ear to ear while bits of pancake spilled out of his mouth. We couldn't help but crack up.

Is marriage changing? Yes. But do I feel like we're caving into the American tendency to center everything around kids, despite the pressures and time drain that foster care has created? No.
For example, my 30th birthday present isn't a big party like I always envisioned, because now all I want is a date with my husband. Just time for us. And we went away before Christmas, just the two of us, for an entire week. And despite the fact that I was crazy sick the whole felt normal. Fluid. Like back before there was a cute being screaming at us to change his poopy diaper. We make family time now. But we also try to make time for each other.

Check back in when it's June though! You never know how two kids will change things. I might just have my head in the clouds. I guess we'll just have to wait and see!! Until then, I'm going to try not let pregnancy destroy what remains of my sanity and body and we're just going to keep going with the flow and be grateful for all the good things that 2013 will bring.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Four Questions to Ask About Dating BEFORE You Do It

When it comes to dating, there are SO MANY different opinions out there about it. Why should we date? What's the purpose? How old should we be to start dating? The questions go on and on...and you get different answers depending on who you ask them.

In January, as Jake kicks off the New Year with the students in our church, he launched a series on Dating, Marriage and Sex! It's one of his favorites to go through with students. However, students aren't the only ones asking the questions above. Young adults, and even those are older, are asking them as well.

As he goes through the series, we thought we would post the sermons on our site for your benefit as well. Even though the audience is middle school and high school students, the talks easily apply to those who are older. Honestly, some of Jake's leaders and some other adults who hang with the students from time to time really got a lot out of it.

So, talk number one begins the conversation about dating: what can we learn from the Bible about dating and how do we know if we should get involved in a relationship or not? Our opinion is that it's not about a certain maturity, a certain age or a specific life stage. Instead, it's about learning to be wise about our relationships and asking four different questions BEFORE you get involved.

In case you don't want to listen to the whole sermon, here is the quick synopsis:

1. Have you both talked to God? When we look to God for guidance and confirmation, He will provide it given time and patience. Prayer is a powerful thing and asking God to guide you both as you consider dating, will most likely help both people to be on the same page about moving forward into a relationship or not.

2. Have you talked to yourself? This question has to do with understanding why you want to be in a relationship. If you’re not looking to serve and give to the other person, it may be a good idea to wait on dating. Love requires sacrifice and unselfishness. It’s ok to feel like you might not be able to give to anyone right now. It’s also ok to feel like you’re mature and ready. Either way, take some time and self-reflect before dating someone.

3. Have you talked to others? God has put friends, parents, and others in our lives to provide insight and wisdom. If you are thinking about a romantic relationship, talk to a friend, a trusted adult or your parents for advice. All these people will have your best interest at heart. They might see a positive or negative about your potential relationship that you don’t. Having the blessing and support of those closest to you will help your relationship be strong.

4. Have you talked to him/her? Maybe that sounds a little obvious, but it’s important. If you aren’t both on the same page about what you’re both looking for, there will be hurt feelings and issues to work through pretty quickly.

We'd LOVE to hear any comments, disagreements or ideas of your own after listening! Just post them below.

Jake and Melissa

Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.