I sat up and groggily rubbed my eyes, then reached for my phone to check the time. Wow! I'd slept really late!
And yet, I wasn't all that surprised. My kids are all great sleepers, and considering the fact that we'd all been a little under the weather, I had gone to bed the night before assuming we would all sleep in.
I sat propped up in the bed trying to get myself completely awake, and after a couple minutes I heard the kids beginning to stir. I knew they'd all be up soon.
The first sleepy-eyed child came tiptoeing into my room soon after, and I was looking forward to a couple minutes of snuggling before we began the day.
But he seemed timid about climbing into the bed. “What's the matter?” I asked.
“Is the baby sleeping your bed?” he questioned in reply.
“No…” I answered, somewhat puzzled.
“Well, where is she? She's not in her crib.” He had a confused look on his face.
“Of course she is. She was in our bed, but Daddy moved her to her crib when he left for work.”
“No!” he shook his head emphatically. “It's just her blanket in there.”
“Well she must be under it,” I answered, knowing there had to be some logical explanation as to where she was.
“There's no way! It's just wadded up small in the corner of the crib!”
Confused, I swung my feet over the edge of the bed, pulled on my bathrobe, and made my way to the girls' room.
EMPTY. Her crib was most definitely empty.
Still half-asleep, I was trying to make some sense of where she could be.
She doesn't know how to climb out.
The “k” word briefly crossed my mind, but that didn't really make any sense. There's absolutely zero possibility that family or friends would take her, and it didn't seem likely that a random stranger would break into the house, pick up my baby out of her crib, and then LOCK THE DOOR back when they left (yes, I had checked by this time to see if anything looked fishy about the door.)
BUT WHERE WAS SHE???
I went around and checked in the beds of all the kids who were still sleeping.
I checked every nook and cranny of the house.
I checked the beds again.
I checked the nooks and crannies again.
While I was checking, I knew that the only reasonable explanation was that my husband had taken her to work. But taking your toddler to work isn't exactly standard procedure, and he certainly hadn't said anything to me about it.
Once I had determined that she was nowhere in the house, I picked up the phone and dialed my husband's number.
I knew that this phone call would either satisfy my curiosity as to why he had taken the baby to work or else it would usher in sheer terror for our family.
As I was dialing, I heard one of the kids holler from the kitchen, “Dad took the Suburban to work! And the diaper bag is gone!”
It seemed my little detectives were coming to the same conclusion I was.
I knew as soon as I heard the “Hey” on the other end that he was expecting me to call.
“Did……you…take the baby to work??” I asked inquisitively, knowing by now that the answer was yes, but still incredibly confused as to why.
“Yeah. Did you get some sleep?” he nonchalantly replied.
“Well…yes…but…why did you take the baby to work?”
“I knew you hadn't slept well all week. I really didn't think she was going to get back to sleep and I wanted you to be able to get some more sleep.”
It was all true. I hadn't slept well all week thanks to a lovely head cold and neither had the baby. We'd both been awakened early that morning as my husband was getting ready for work. I brought her into my bed hoping I could snuggle her back to sleep, but she was very restless.
Once my husband was ready for work, he picked her up and took her back to bed. “You're not going to get any sleep this way,” he told me.
Only he apparently wasn't putting her in bed; he was taking her to work with him.
“Why didn't you tell me?” I asked over the phone.
“Because I didn't want you worrying about whether she was okay or whether I was able to get my work done with her here. I knew you'd sleep better if you didn't have anything on your mind. And I knew you'd know where she was when you woke up. So anyway, now I'll bring her back home.”
So now as she rests comfortably back in her bed, and I sit here reflecting on the events of this morning, I ask myself what point I'm trying to make by telling this story.
And I guess it's this:
I was able to stay calm and assume that my husband probably had her at work even though I couldn't think of a good reason why at the time.
And he was able to make a decision like that, knowing that my reaction would be pretty much exactly what it was.
Because we trust one another. And we trust one another because we know each other well. And we know each other well because we work hard at it!
These are all things we have to do to make sure we know each other well.
Daddy combing my hair
In conclusion, I have two things to be thankful for this weekend.
“I'm just so tired!”
“I can't even think with all the kid-noise and clutter!”
“We haven't had a date in months! We don't talk about anything other than what's on the to-do list!”
If you're feeling burnt out and disconnected from your spouse due to the busyness of life and the exhaustion of kids, it's time to take a marriage retreat!
There are 5 great reasons to take a marriage retreat that I can think of, though I'm sure there are more.
Hopefully you're already praying together with your spouse, at least before you go to bed at night. But I know from experience that when you're both completely exhausted, it can be hard to think coherently to spend a lot of time in prayer. Usually by the time the kids are asleep and the lights are turned out, one or both of you is already halfway asleep!
When you get away on a marriage retreat, you'll have plenty of time to spend time in prayer together without waiting until you're both half asleep at night.
What a blessing to come before the Lord together and lay the burdens of your family at his feet!
My husband and I were recently blessed to spend several nights away at the Appleview River Resort in Sevierville, Tennessee. Let me tell you, if you need some quiet time away, you should consider booking a few nights there.
A private condo was just the thing we needed to reconnect with each other and have some quality time to spend with the Lord as a couple.
It was all the more special to be there, knowing that the owners were outspoken Christians. All of their material – brochures, email confirmations, guest information in the cabin, even their text message letting us know our unit was ready for check-in – took every opportunity to tell of their love for the Lord Jesus Christ and of their desire to use their property for his glory.
When all the responsibilities at home are weighing you down, it's good to get away and just REST. You don't need to go, go, go during your time away. Take advantage of a nice place to stay and just hang out and sleep as long as you need to! Getting some good rest will do wonders for a marriage. Not only will it help refresh your spirit and give you a more pleasant outlook on life, it will give you a little more energy for physical intimacy with your spouse too.
I thought the bed at Appleview River Resort was super comfortable! My husband didn't like it quite as much as I did, but he still slept comfortably. It was either a memory foam mattress or else it had a memory foam topper. Either way, I slept long and hard all 3 nights we stayed there!
Of course, maybe I was sleeping so well because I got to soak in this amazing tub every night! It was so deep, and the water was so hot…oh I'm longing to go back just thinking about it. My dream house has a tub like this!
It's nice to be able to just be with your spouse and enjoy them for who they are, with no expectations getting in your way. No thoughts of household responsibilities can crowd in and ruin your time together. Getting away lets you just be best friends with your spouse while leaving the cares of life behind for a while!
When we went to Sevierville, we spent time taking walks together, hiking, eating together, and shopping at a leisurely pace.
We didn't have to go far to enjoy a quiet stroll together. Our condo at Appleview River Resort overlooked a lovely river walk, and we could go right outside and enjoy it any time we wanted to!
We also enjoyed quiet meals out on the balcony.
One day we went to Foxfire Mountain adventure park and took a hike through the property. It was a beautiful hike, just difficult enough to be good exercise, but not so difficult that it was miserable. We walked across America's longest swinging bridge and hiked up to a refreshing waterfall. You can see a video of our day there below:
We also went out to breakfast a couple times! We NEVER get to do that! (It's kind of hard to get babysitters in the morning, you know?)
One morning we ate at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant. It was right by our condo, and 2 complimentary meals came with the our room. This is such a nice place to eat. It's such a cozy environment, and the food is good too. Applewood is definitely on our “must take a return visit” list!
Another morning we ate at Flapjacks Pancake Cabin. My husband is still talking about the food he ate there two weeks later. “Any time we are back in that area, we are eating there. No if's, and's, or but's about it. That is the best breakfast I have ever had.” I'll have to agree with him that it was quite good. I was super excited that they serve gluten free pancakes too! The helpings were generous enough too that we had enough left over for breakfast the next day. I highly recommend it!
We spent one evening walking around the Tanger Outlets, holding hands, browsing the stores. It was nice to shop just for the sake of shopping and not have to worry about keeping track of kids or taking them potty.
There was a lot of evidence throughout the city of Sevierville of the respect they show for our veterans. I thought that was really great.
My husband needed a new pair of work shoes. He found a fantastic deal on some at the outlets.
No matter your circumstances, you and your spouse no doubt have things you hope to accomplish, things that need to be done around the house, parenting and family goals you'd like to meet, etc. The biggest obstacle we've found to meeting those goals is just finding the time to sit down an plan out how to get from point A to point B.
If you have family projects that are needing to happen or if you just want to re-evaluate how you're doing on your marriage or parenting, you need to take a marriage retreat and spend some time talking and planning together!
Here we are at our condo, getting a nice dinner prepared so we could have a planning session over dinner.
When is the last time you did something fun together? When you go on a marriage retreat, you'll have all the time you need just to laugh and have fun! There is something about having fun that is good for both the soul and the body! (“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”) Plan some good old fashioned fun into your marriage retreat and it will benefit you both!
We went out to Ripley's Old MacDonald's Farm mini golf one evening and had a blast trying to beat each other! (I won't say who won, but it wasn't me. 🙂 ) We laughed when I knocked the ball completely off of the course we were on. We laughed at how seriously my husband took his shots, measuring the exact trajectory and speed he would need. He cheered for me when I followed his suggestions and got a hole in one. It was just plain fun.
One day we drove around looking for the cabin we had stayed in on our honeymoon, which was near Sevierville. We had no clue which road it was on, but we had a vague idea, so we went hunting for it. We never did find it, but we had a ton of fun getting lost in the mountains together, and we ended up being rewarded with a beautiful view!
If you're feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, and disconnected from your spouse, I encourage you to make the effort to get away and spend some time with your spouse praying, resting, playing, planning, and spending quality time together.
As you can see from the getaway we took, Sevierville, Tennessee is a fantastic place to do that. It offers the quiet you need to recharge right along with plenty of options for having fun together. I hope you'll consider investing in a trip for the health of your marriage!
Many thanks to the city of Sevierville as well as the places mentioned in this post for providing complimentary lodging and meals to facilitate this article!
Last week my husband and I had the opportunity to go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and spend some time together kid-free. It was so restful, and we enjoyed having the opportunity to talk and get to know one another as best friends again rather than just a parenting team.
Gatlinburg is such a great location for anyone living in the southeast when you need an easily accessible place for a quick getaway, so I thought I would share all about our trip to give you some ideas for spending your time there!
Where to stay
We were blessed by the kind folks at Gatlinburg Falls Resort, who were willing to partner with us by providing a place to stay so that I could tell you all about it! We actually stayed there last year with our kids and had a positive experience, so I'm glad we were able to go back again!
Would you like to take a tour of our cabin? Take a peek inside in the video below!
We arrived in Gatlinburg well before check-in time, so I called the office to see if there was any possibility of checking in early. The girl at the front desk was super nice and helpful. She put our cabin in as priority to be cleaned so that it would be one of the first ones done. Their policy says that check-in time begins at 4 pm, and that each cabin may not actually be ready right away since they have so many cabins to prepare for guests. Ours was one of the first ones done and we were able to get in right at 4:00. I felt like we were rushing them because my husband had a migraine and I was hoping he could go lie down. While we sat around in the office, the clerk contacted the crew several times to see if they were done yet.
As soon as we got into the cabin, we got a knock at the door from a maintenance man. Evidently we had rushed them too much and there were a couple more jobs that needed to be taken care of. The hot tub needed to be checked, the beds did not have their comforters on them yet, and a broken towel bar needed to be re-hung in the bathroom. He was very apologetic and did his best to work without disturbing us.
Everything in the cabin was very clean. I get grossed out easily, so it was nice to be able to enjoy my stay without feeling like I couldn't touch anything.
We had everything we needed for an enjoyable stay – TV's, internet, washer and dryer, dishwasher, jetted showers, game room, porch with rocking chairs, and of course, no relaxing getaway could possibly be complete without a hot tub!
I've checked out the prices on the website for Gatlinburg Falls Resort several times, and I think they are quite reasonable. If you follow them on social media, you'll find that they often have last-minute 50% off specials, which is a fabulous deal! Follow them here: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
What to do
We spent a good portion of our time just hanging out at the cabin, relaxing in the hot tub, cooking nice meals together, and catching up on about 5 years worth of sleep. 🙂
I was excited to find out that the Elkmont fireflies would still be in season while we were there. There is an area about 7 miles from our cabin where there are thousands of fireflies. They all light up at the same time and then they all go dark at the same time. It is a spectacular show and Elkmont is only one of 2 places in the world where this happens, from what I understand. We hiked a good ways up the Little River Trail right before dark and then just sat in the woods until dark. Once it got dark the show began, and it was fantastic! We tried to video, but with our unprofessional equipment, the video did not turn out. However, here is a professional video of the experience. Since we went a week after the predicted “peak season”, there were only a few people out on the trail, but the show was still good!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
If you like to get out in nature and enjoy a hike or just drive through the beautiful scenery, you're only minutes away from doing so when you stay at Gatlinburg Falls Resort. Here is a directory of hikes rated by how easy or hard they are. (I had to stick to the easy ones! 🙂 )
We took our kids last year, and it was nothing short of stressful! There were so many people, and it was hard to keep track of all the kids in the crowd. Going as a couple was so much more fun! We leisurely browsed all the gift shops and just enjoyed each other's company. This year, instead of spending money on parking, we took the Gatlinburg Trolley. We parked for free at city hall, which was just down the hill from our cabin. Then we rode the Trolley into downtown for the whopping cost of 50 cents each. (Parking downtown is around $8 – $10, so we saved ourselves a heap of money, plus we got the pleasant experience of riding the trolley.)
If you like to play miniature golf, go to Hillbilly Golf! We've always looked at it when we have gone to Gatlinburg, but this trip was the first time we have gone. We will be back! Not only was it a unique experience playing mini golf on the side of a mountain, the course itself was challenging, which always makes it more fun! The owners were super friendly too!
There we are in the middle seat:
They pull you up the mountain in this little car and then you play golf on the side of the mountain!
No trip to Gatlinburg would be complete without heading over to Cades Cove. Cades Cove is an 11 mile loop that you drive around. You're almost guaranteed to see wildlife along the way. Stop at the little pavilion right before you enter the loop road and pay a dollar for the little map/guide thingy. There are houses and churches spread throughout the cove, and knowing the history of them makes the drive more interesting. You can also get out and walk around the buildings, and there are some short hikes you can take as well.
If you're not into driving around bumper to bumper with dozens of other cars, and long for a bit of peace and quiet, you can pull off Rich Mountain Road about a third of the way through the cove. Be sure that's what you want to do since it's a one way road and you won't be able to re-enter the cove. Instead you'll travel a windy 12 mile gravel road up to the top of the mountain and wind back down again where you come out in Townsend, TN. There's not much of a view other than the forest and the switchbacks below you as you make your way up the mountain. But you'll have the pleasure of being alone, and you'll get to enjoy two beautiful overlooks.
What to eat
The benefit of staying in a cabin is that you have a kitchen. By eating most of our meals at the cabin, we save a lot of money on food. We can eat a lot healthier than we would if we were eating out too, which makes us feel better, which means our getaway is more enjoyable! Plus, my husband and I enjoy cooking nice meals together when we are by ourselves. There's something relaxing about cooking when you don't have a bunch of people to clean up after! But of course, it's fun to eat out once in a while too. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of healthy options in Gatlinburg when it comes to restaurants. Here's where we ate:
Whole Earth Grocery
This was a little health food store tucked away up on a side street in Gatlinburg. They have a cafe inside that serves healthy lunch options. I had a chicken salad sandwich with potato salad. They serve salads and sandwiches there with potato salad, pasta salad, or organic blue corn chips as the side. You can grab a bottle of kombucha out of the fridge for a drink if that's your thing. 🙂
I did not care for the atmosphere inside of this restaurant. It seemed like the bar was the main focus, which we didn't even realize until after we ate and went inside to pay. They had tables outside, and we enjoyed people-watching while we ate. 🙂 The food was amazing! My husband had a reuben sandwich, and I had a burger. It was huge!
The first words my husband said when he took a bite of his sandwich were, “Oh wow.” Since he's not easily impressed, I'd say he enjoyed his sandwich as much as I enjoyed my burger. (Or maybe he was saying “Oh wow” at the sight of me trying to stuff that whole burger into my mouth! 🙂 )
Other things to do
You can certainly find much more to do in Gatlinburg than we did. You can visit the Ripley's Aquarium, go up in the space needle, or ride the skylift to Ober Gatlinburg. You can visit the arts and crafts district. You can go ziplining or horseback riding or whitewater rafting.
Whatever types of things you enjoy, they are probably there. For us, we were more than satisfied with hanging out at the cabin, spending time in the woods, and getting a small dose of the gift shops.
If you are in need of a relaxing time away with your spouse, I highly recommend slipping away to Gatlinburg for a few days!
Don't forget to follow Gatlinburg Falls Resort on social media so you can take advantage of one of their specials!
Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Psalm 128:3
Our pastor mentioned that verse in a message last year, which prompted me to study the idea of children being like olive plants. Boy, did I learn a LOT! I came up with 12 Lessons About Child Training from an Olive Tree and it has been one of my most popular posts. I love going back and reviewing these things every so often.
Fast forward to about a week ago, and I read over that verse again in my daily devotions.
I thought, “Hmm…since there were so many lessons to be learned from the idea of children being like olive trees, I wonder if there are lessons to be learned about the wife being like a fruitful vine?”
I couldn't resist digging into that further, and here's what I found:
First, I needed to know if there was a specific type of vine the verse was talking about. I looked up the Hebrew word for vine in that verse and found out that it basically means…vine.
So then I looked up the Hebrew word for fruitful and it basically means…to bear fruit.
Okay, so that left me with basically any type of vine that bears fruit. Take your pick – grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe…it doesn't really matter.
Then I began researching every other instance in the Bible where that same Hebrew word for vine was used, and that's where it got interesting.
I noticed right away that over and over, God was talking to Israel about the fact that when they turned away from God part of their judgment would be for their vines to be destroyed.
I also noticed that when God spoke of his blessing on Israel, he would mention how that their vines would be fruitful. In fact, in the very verse of which I am talking, God is telling Israel that part of his blessing on them would be for their wives to be as fruitful vines and their children like olive plants.
The verse is speaking of prosperity and blessing upon the children of Israel when they followed the Lord and obeyed his commands.
Lesson #1 from the fruitful vine – Am I a blessing to my husband? When he thinks of me, does it make him thankful for how God has prospered him by giving me to him? Am I flourishing physically, spiritually, and emotionally so that I am a joy to be around? Or am I dried up and withered? Yes, my husband has some God-given responsibilities to keep his “vine” well-watered so that it can easily flourish, but how am I responding? Does my husband see caring for me as a duty or a delight?
The concept of “fruitful” also carries with it the idea of bearing children. God has stated over and over that children are a blessing and a reward. In the verse we are studying, He clearly states that a fruitful wife and the little “olive plants” are part of the blessing he would pour out when his people obediently followed Him.
Lesson #2 from the fruitful vine – Children are a blessing; not something to be avoided! When God states that children are a blessing and a reward, why are so many married couples doing all they can to prevent their blessings from coming?! I am not an advocate of the so-called “quiverfull” movement, where many families hold to the idea that they are supposed to have as many babies as the wife's body will carry. If a couple feels that the wife is physically worn out, I don't think God intends for her to be a haggard, run-down woman, forcing her body to continue producing “blessing” after “blessing”. God gave us the knowledge of how babies are made and I believe couples should use that knowledge responsibly, with the understanding and willingness for God to override our personal plans according to his will.
But at the same time, couples do not need to fear the idea of large families. I'll say it again; children are a blessing; not something to be avoided!
Finally – and this goes right along with lesson #2 – in the Bible, vines had a lot to do with lovemaking! Read Song of Solomon, and you'll find that they made love among the vines. You'll also find multiple references to body parts being like the fruit of the vine.
Lesson #3 from the fruitful vine – A fruitful wife is a wife who satisfies her husband's physical desires. Read Song of Solomon to get an idea of the demeanor we wives should display in the bedroom! We need to be doing as much as we can to take care of our bodies and keep them beautiful for our husbands. We need to delight him and allow him to delight us.
1. I'm praying for you.
Every husband should have the privilege of knowing his wife is laboring in prayer for him as he faces the pressures of the day. But don't stop at praying for him…let him know that you are!
2. Thank you for…
Show gratitude even for the little things.
3. I love it when you…
Don't focus on what you don't like about your husband. Telling him about the things you like will encourage him to do more of it.
4. You do such a great job at…
Husbands love it when their wives pump up their ego a little bit. Just sayin'.
5. I made this/did this/bought this for you.
When's the last time you did something for your husband just because you love him?
Other posts you might like:
We've all heard that husbands and wives should be best friends. But how does that actually play out in real life?
You might want to be best friends with your husband but you lack the knowledge to do so.
I talked this post over with my husband before I wrote it because I wanted to be 100% sure that what I was writing was something with which he would agree!
When you're out with your girlfriends no doubt there is a good deal of laughter that goes on. You enjoy each other's company and you're naturally going to smile and laugh with each other.
But it goes to a whole deeper level when you're laughing with the one who is also the love of your life.
My husband and I share a million and one inside jokes. We're always cracking up at what seems to others as random moments. But we each know without even looking at the other what the other one is thinking.
It's funny. And it's beautiful.
My closest friends throughout the years have been those with whom I share a spiritual bond. Those with whom I've shared my prayer requests, no matter how big or little. Those who aren't afraid to give me a spiritual kick in the tail when I'm off track. Those who challenge and edify me through our conversations.
A husband and wife who want to be the best of friends will also help one another grow in Christ. They'll pray together. They'll share with the other what the Lord has been teaching them through their personal quiet time. They'll ask the other for help when they're having trouble overcoming a certain character flaw.
Quality time together is one of the foundations of friendship, isn't it?
Why then do so many husbands and wives neglect to set aside regular time to date one another – to make time to talk about something other than which bills need to be paid and what time Johnny needs to be at soccer practice?
Do you know your husband's hopes and dreams? Have you spent enough time with him to find out?
I get that life is busy, but you truly have time for what you make time for. Make time for your husband. Get creative. (Here are 25 Stay-at-home Date Night Ideas if you need some help, then scroll down for a super-fun date night giveaway!)
I'm not talking about major tragedies that couples might face. Of course you're going to bear that burden with him. I'm talking about the little things.
When your husband comes home from work frustrated because he didn't have a productive day, give him a shoulder rub and tell him you're sorry. Don't roll your eyes and say “Oh yeah? Well let me tell you about my day!”
Physical intimacy in the bedroom should be just that – intimate. Rather than succumbing to the temptation to make it a purely physical act, strive to connect on an emotional and even spiritual level.
Little touches throughout the day also tell the other person, “I enjoy being around you. You're special to me. You're my best friend and there's no one I'd rather be with right now.”
For some awesome, inspirational reading, I recommend the following books:
100 Ways to Love Your Husband: A Life-Long Journey of Learning to Love (by Lisa Jacobson)