The one about the questions you ask to fall in love…


The other night, Megan and I were at home watching the first episode of this season’s The Bachelor. I think of that show the same way I do American Idol. I have no interest in it.

…except the first couple shows.

Is it okay to admit that? The first few episodes are downright hilarious. There’s something inside of me that takes an unusual amount of joy from seeing a train wreck. And that’s exactly what this show is. So anyway, we’re watching this show and I’m cruising news sites on my phone and I come across this article that says any two people that talk through a list of 36 questions can fall in love. Well, Bachelor was on the tv, love was in the air, and my curiosity was piqued. So I looked into it a little bit.

The story goes like this:
In 1997, a psychologist named Arthur Aaron was able to make two complete strangers fall in love in his laboratory. He had a man and woman enter his lab from two separate doors, where they sat across from each other and answered a series of questions. The result: rainbows, unicorns, and l-o-v-e. Arthur went on to publish his studies, which flew under the radar. Only recently did the study find popularity, after an article in the New York Times. The article, written by a university professor named Mandy Len Catron, tells of her interest in the topic. She then persuades a pseudo-stranger she knows from the gym to try it out with her. In her article, she talks about the series of questions (they start simple and get more and more intimate) and the final instruction to stare into each others eyes silently for 4 minutes (scary, right???). Her results? Wedding bells.

You can read Mandy’s article here…

Now I’m not saying that any couple who does this will fall in love. Many of the couples in the lab didn’t. And I’m not trying to offer pointers to singles who desperately (Bachelor style) want to find love. But what I’m saying (specifically to the couples from my church who are really my only audience) is that taking the time to be with someone is always thrilling. But too often, couples spend far more time maintaining life than they do just enjoying each other. I could go on and on about the importance of dating your spouse, but you’ve read all the research and blogs and “Top 10 Reasons Why…” already. I find it incredibly sad though, that no one dates less than a married couple.

…except a married couple with children.

So my challenge to you is this: clear out your weekend schedule. This weekend. Next weekend if you’re too lame to make it happen now. But date your spouse. Make it fun. Get dressed up like you would if it were a first date. Girls, put them sassy heels on. Guys, take a shower. Maybe even wear cologne. Go to a nice restaurant and spend a couple hours falling in love again. Take your time. Order appetizers. Smile. Eat dinner. Laugh. Don’t skip dessert. Blush. Stick around for drinks afterward. Bask in each other. And make it fun by taking these 36 questions with you.

Think this all sounds stupid? So did I. Out of curiosity though, I talked Megan into going over them with me. Wanna know what happened? We fell in love to a degree that man has never seen. The heaven’s parted and we saw the face of God, who smiled, winked at us, and sang love songs over us, in his deep baritone voice, while we slow danced on a cloud.

Okay, that’s a lie.

But it was fun! Some of it, we could answer for each other. Some of it surprised us. But it was fun! And if you’re honest with yourself, you and your spouse don’t have enough fun. And that’s just not right. You married because life wasn’t the same without them. Now life is just the same every day. Break out! Do something fun!  Do something romantic!  Do something silly!   Just do something!

Here’s the thing. You married your spouse when they were one person. We age, we grow, we mature (some of us), and we change. The beauty in marriage is changing together. We don’t stay in love with the same person for years and years and years. Rather, we fall in love with that person over and over and over. But this is a very intentional act.

I’ve heard the story too many times. A couple goes through life maintaining and 30 years later, don’t even recognize each other. The husband has changed. The wife has changed. They didn’t do it together.

But you’re not that couple. That’s not your marriage. You’re meant for the long haul. So rediscover your spouse this weekend. Enjoy them. Let yourself get butterflies again. Find today’s new reason to love them. And just for kicks and giggles, ask these questions…

Set I
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set II
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
17. What is your most treasured memory?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling …”
26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

Grand Finale
Stare into each other’s eyes silently for four minutes.

Have fun, you crazy couples!!!!


5 ways to enjoy your family this weekend…


The weekend is upon us!  PTL!  It’s difficult to find ways to engage your family and keep them all smiling together.  The following are 5 ideas for you to have a blast with the people God has given you.  I daresay, these may even be social media worthy… you know, the stuff you and your kids like so much you show it off online.  So keep the mower in the shed and look past all the dust bunnies on your floor.  Your family is much more important than little tasks.  I also encourage you to be open minded with what you do with your family.  Especially when our kids get older, we think we always have to be cool and avoid anything that looks hokey.  But you know what, hokey can be great.  We get the idea that we always have to be super entertaining, especially when it comes to sharing our faith.  But that’s just not the case.  Your kids will appreciate hearing from you, regardless of how spectacular your stories are.  You’re intentionally taking time to be with and share with them.  That’s far more important than keeping things hip.  And if it’s the first time you’ve talked with them about faith, it can feel a little awkward.  But embrace it.  I always tell my youth group: awkward is awesome.  It means you’re doing something new and different that stretches you.  Besides, the more you do it, the more natural it will become.  And sharing our faith with our kids should be natural.

So I’ll get off my soapbox and let you continue reading.  Pick something fun and get after it!

1. Volunteer – Get your family out serving!  This weekend will be easier than others.  No need to set up anything in advance.  With all the storms and wind we’ve had, there’s limbs and junk all over the place.  Pack up some rakes, saws, and other tools, cruise town looking for people to bless, knock on a door, get permission, and do work!  BONUS: after seeing how many houses you can hit in an afternoon, grab some Dairy Queen and talk about how Jesus modeled having a servant’s heart.  Point out scripture with Jesus, the savior of the world, washing the feet of His disciples.  Discuss how we’re called to lead like Jesus, by being a servant and meeting the needs God makes us aware of.

2. Food Fight – Not literally, but if you do, you’re probably the coolest parents in the world!  Have a dessert making contest!  Before dinner, split the family into two or more teams.  Give them a spending limit, invade the grocery store, and get to cooking.  After dinner, serve up both desserts.  Winner has bragging rights, loser has dish duty.  The only thing better than delish desserts with the fam is the fun of working together!  BONUS: over dessert, share your journey of faith with your kids.  Talk about how God used all sorts of ingredients to make your life great.  Focus on all the characters God brought you and how they helped you or all the situations he used and redeemed to lead you to where you are.

3. Take in a Game – It doesn’t need to be big leagues to be enjoyable.  Find a school that’s competing or hit up the local fields to see if anyone is playing a game, be it 3 year-olds playing soccer or travel baseball.  Bring a cooler full of popsicles or a whole mess of walking tacos to give out to everyone else watching the game.  Make lots of friends, cheer for good plays, and have lots of laughs!  BONUS: if you’re watching young kids play, have your family break apart after the game and tell each of the kids playing how great they were and offer them compliments.  Something along the lines of “You played great out there!  High five for those wicked awesome [cleats, fingernails, hair bow, eye black]!!!”  BONUS: on the ride home, talk about the smiles you saw on the kids faces and the joy it brought them.  Mention scripture where we’re told that our tongues can be used for good or bad.  How it’s our choice to be people who speak joy, life, and encouragement.

4. Read Aloud – Who doesn’t enjoy being read to?  Have everyone pick out a short story or fable that can be read in 20 minutes or less.  Have a fire outside, or turn off the lights and light candles inside.  Get absurdly comfy with an overwhelming amount of pillows & blankets and take turns reading stories to each other.  A living room fort would work wonders too, just skip the candles!  There’s something magical about storytelling, when a person takes on characters and leads the listeners through a grand tale!  The one rule for the night, no pictures.  Even if the book has pictures, encourage everyone to use their own imagination to visualize the story.  That way, after the story, you could talk about how differently you pictured the people and events.  BONUS: once the stories are read, point out how scripture tells us to pass on our own stories.  How the Israelites use to set up altars at different places so when they walked by them, they’d remember what happened and how God cared for them.  Talk about your family’s stories: times where God took care of you, the story of the kids’ births (they love that story), funny things the kids did when they were little, how God has led your family to where you are now.  Celebrate God and His story of your family!

5. Photo Contest – Split the family into teams of two or more.  Choose a location: the backyard, a nearby park, your church.  Arm teams with cameras (phones work great).  Snap away!  Encourage teams to take pics of their favorite things, play with angles, new perspectives, close-ups, etc.  Have a stop time and meet up together.  Load the pictures onto a computer and have the family gather around close.  Pick a favorite from each team and celebrate all your favorites.  You can also buy frames and put them up in the house to remind you of the fun and encourage you to do it again and swap the photos out.  BONUS: When you’re done with the contest, flip through your wedding book or the kids baby books.  Look back and celebrate each other.  Share stories of the people or events in the pictures.  Praise God for His goodness and all the joy He’s brought your family.

Hope you’re at least inspired!  Now go!  God has given you an unbelievable family.  Enjoy them and make memories!