Greg and I went out for Valentine's Day last Friday. He took care of the child care, made reservations at our favorite restaurant, and I planned the entertainment (much to his initial chagrin). I had read an article recently about a study done by psychologist, Arthur Aron. The study had identified a series of 36 questions that were said to accelerate relationships - basically, 36 questions to make you fall in love. Now, Greg and I are already in love, but I thought it might be fun to go through the questions anyway. I floated the idea out to Greg that it might be fun and to his credit he agreed to give it a whirl. (He made a lovely face that spoke volumes, but agreed to try it out.) We got to the restaurant and ordered our food, but it was apparent that my entertainment plans were being thwarted. The restaurant had seated us in a small area that had no separation between the tables, and no music piped in to the room. So, basically, every word we would say would be heard by the other couple sitting at the table right next to us. They seemed like a lovely couple, but if these questions worked there was a risk that everyone would start falling in love with everyone else - chaos may very well ensue! Just to make matters more awkward a third couple was soon seated on the other side of us and they very much needed the questions because they were fighting. So here we three couples sat, side by side, awkward, tense, and, in one case, arguing. Happy Valentine's Day! To our awesome waiter's credit he acknowledged the awkward situation and helped get us moved to a better table with a bit more privacy. Yay! We were ready for the questions.

(null) Despite some initial misgivings (on the part of one of us), I will tell you that it was one of the best evenings we have had in quite some time. It is easy to fall into communication habits and patterns after you've been married for some time. Greg and I will celebrate nine years of marriage this summer. He is, undoubtedly, my very best friend. None the less - we don't find a lot of time to sit and talk about life. With young kids, jobs, and a never-ending list of obligations, our conversation seems to resolve mostly around schedules, meal plans, and discipline strategies. And even if left to our own devices with the best intention of having deep conversation - we would have been hard pressed to come up with topics. Often I think you can start to feel like you know the other person too well, and you begin to believe there is nothing new to learn. As we went through the questions, some took a short amount of time to answer and some took a bit longer. We found a few stirred up conversation rabbit trails that we went down and strayed far from the original question. So far we have only made it through the first 20 - and in theory you can complete the entire set in 45 minutes, so we definitely found a lot to say. I learned a few new things about Greg and rediscovered some things I had forgotten. We both were able to share some things that we thought we knew about the other, only to find out we answered differently than expected. At the end of the evening we both agreed that it had been a really great exercise. It was illuminating not only because of the answers, but because it shined a light on an area of our relationship that we had lost without even noticing. We had a very quick courtship and part of those intense eleven weeks between meeting and marrying (yes, I said eleven weeks) was a lot of talking. A lot! Emails, phone calls, face to face conversations - we covered years worth of ground in just a few weeks time. I had forgotten how refreshing his perspective is on things and how much we enjoyed one another's company even when we had no shared agenda. So much of married family life is an intricate dance in the minutiae of life. In that daily dance you find yourself staring at your feet, your partners feet, and the feet of the littles you have created to insure that everyone is doing their part and hitting their marks. This Valentine's Day was a chance to lift our heads up and see the grand ballroom and here the music and remember that this dance is more than the steps. This dance is our epic love story, and Greg is more than a best friend that keeps our family going - he is my funny, insightful, quirky, amazing Prince Charming. Can these 36 questions make strangers fall in love? I don't know. But I do know that they are a great way to remind you of the love you are already in. Go ahead - try it! THE 36 QUESTIONS TO FALL IN LOVE 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? 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 dreamt 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. End by staring into your partner's eyes for four minutes without speaking (or laughing, Greg!).
Hi everyone! Tonight was the night we get to serve dinner at Rare Breed. They steal my heart every single time. Rare Breed Youth Services is located off the square in downtown Springfield. It's a two (maybe three) story brick building. It's a pretty building and it stands alone - with a large field to one side and a parking area to the other. In a small, but crowded, urban downtown it stands out in the fact that it stands alone. Perhaps a fitting metaphor for the children that grace this space - unattached. When you walk in, the front of the building is devoted to the services made available. The kids check in and can be helped with specific needs or questions. Just past this area is the kitchen - this is where we get to set up shop and serve dinner. They have various organizations and churches that come in every night to serve dinner. (The schedule is fairly consistent, but there are open nights still available if you are interested.) It's a utilitarian kitchen - bright and open. The back is where the kids can come and finally relax - feel safe, unwind. There are laundry facilities along with showers and toiletries made available. There is an exercise room, craft area, and computer room. I'm still learning all the various services that are provided but I can tell you that it is not enough. The staff is unstoppable but it takes a wide variety of people willing to make this their passion to really branch out and offer these kids a fighting chance. _______________________________________________________________________________ "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." Nelson Mandela _______________________________________________________________________________ I sit here and I stare a the keyboard and I try to figure out what the magic combination of words are to convey all the feelings that Rare Breed raises up in me. I am tempted to walk away if I'm honest. To just walk away and forget all about it because I'm so overwhelmed and humiliated by the amount of need and my inadequate response. I want to fix it all and just like I wrote last time - I can not do enough. I will never be able to do enough. And while admitting that it is fine, to not do enough in the confines of a nice safe blog post, confronting my lack in the face of a young person whose story starts with, "I was beat up yesterday and stabbed today," is a far different reality. (Actual comment overheard.) These kids are not polished, well spoken, clean cut kids that are down on their luck. Some of them are pretty rough. Some of them have substance issues. You can just tell. Too many of them have babies of their own. I can't tell you what they do with their days or if they make good choices. As a matter of fact, I can guess that by our standards their choices are probably not the best. They use rough language and I'm sure many can be unkind. I can't say that all the resources in the world would turn things around for each one. But it will help some of them. It will make a difference for some. Despite their circumstances, they are so appreciative of the meals. They make a point to say thank you and they are sincere. I see an earnest face that says thank you and I just want to sink through the floor because one night a month is not enough. I've done nothing. I wish I could just ask them all to pray for me. For all of us. In the land of plenty, we are failing these kids. They are just kids - brains not yet formed to the point to understand the long term implications of their actions. Kids, ill equipped to survive in a world that is a kill or be killed existense. Kids with no one to tenderly hug them and tell them they are loved and valued. And I wonder about their parents - what pain they too may be going through. I wonder if it their situations stem from poverty, lack of education, mental health issues never properly diagnosed and treated, or just bad luck. Perhaps their parents kicked them out - a decision made from a position of pain. Do they know where their babies are right now? Do they care? _______________________________________________________________________________ "Every child you encounter is a divine appointment." Wess Staffod, Compassion International _______________________________________________________________________________ I was able to speak with Justin tonight. He is the current program director at Rare Breed. I told him that we have a group of 15 people that are willing to help. He was really excited and thought of several ways that a monthly income of funds could help. We talked about the best way to get the funds to the kids in ways that would help. He mentioned a few different things - one is monthly bus passes for the ones that use public transportation for school and jobs. So that will be one thing we will be helping to fund. I told him that we would trust him to use the funds as he sees fit since the needs can changes unexpectedly. Justin and the people that volunteer day in and day out at Rare Breed - they will be the collateral beneficiaries of your generosity. It may be difficult to find the funds to dedicate every month - but it is nothing compared to what these folks do. I think that many times they must feel hopeless and a bit abandoned. How must it feel to live in the most religious country in the world and yet have to serve homeless and hurting children. Our gifts will allow them to fill real needs, but it will also send a message that their efforts are seen and appreciated. I also spoke with my church and we are going to establish an online giving option specifically for Rare Breed. I'll be posting the link on Monday. This will allow anyone from anywhere in the country to go in and make a monthly contribution to Rare Breed. I am the treasurer right now for the church so I can personally assure that the funds earmarked for Rare Breed will be delivered each month. In addition, this will allow us to provide tracking of your giving and an end of year statement. Streamlining the giving through The Commons will also alleviate some of the administrative burden at Rare Breed. For those local - I'll be posting here about opportunities to volunteer or specific needs that they have throughout the year. As always, the first Thursday of the month we will be serving dinner and I would love to see some of you join us. If you have a group that would like to pick up another night I can get you in contact with the right people. We have an amazing lady from The Common's that wrangles all of us each month to put together a nice meal for the kids - she is amazing! _______________________________________________________________________________ "God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them." Bono _______________________________________________________________________________ Part of me wants to be careful here and not push to far - but I'm going to ignore that part of me. Please give. Please find $10 or $20 a month (or more!) that you would be willing to give to Rare Breed. Please share this post and ask your friends to give. We will add them to the facebook group and they will get the link on Monday. You'll be able to schedule a recurring amount each month to make it easier. We have people that are local and we have people that are out of town - and I'm so thankful. As many of you know, this idea came about when we worked the Christmas party in December and saw hundreds of kids standing in line for several hours in the cold waiting to come in. It was the only Christmas many of them had. I can vouch for this place. I can tell you that I've stood in the building, I've looked the kids in the eye, and they need us. More importantly - we need them. We need to be a part of this. I don't usually do this - but please share this post! Please get the word out. My original hope was to have 100 people signed up and I still believe there are another 85 people out there that just need to hear about these kids. If you want to be a part of this please comment on facebook or send me a message. I can add you to the Rare Breed group we have set up. That will provide links to the online giving site (starting Monday) - and also updates on what current needs are or volunteer opportunities. _______________________________________________________________________________

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