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The years teach much
which the days never knew.

-RalphWaldoEmerson


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Dates and gifts

cupWe went on a date on Saturday night ― out to dinner to a place I love. Well, I love going out on dates anywhere, so the place or location really doesn’t matter to me all that much. Actually, even dates at Home Depot or wherever, whenever and however the time happens, dates are sweet to me (and make me sweet to him, btw).

So we went on a date. Yes, it was wonderful date and adding to the delight, it was a double-date with dear friends. We went to a local restaurant that serves beautiful food beautifully and the atmosphere (aided by fond memories of previous dinners there) is always marvelous. It was the first day of my umpteenth diet, and so following dinner, I *shared* dessert. So today’s the first day of my umpteenth and one diets. We saw the sunset and had delightful conversation and laughed as shared common “parenting stories” and ways the LORD is dealing with us and in and through our families.

Later, sweet conversation lingered as we drove home in our sports car. Well, to us for that evening it was a sports car to others, it might’ve looked like a doctor’s waiting room on wheels — and with only two patients sitting in the waiting room, the 13 empty seats make the waiting room look much larger than when all the seats are occupied (with people, carseats and assorted paraphernalia). We chuckled that we can sit in that waiting room for $100. for 400 miles now. We laughed at how quiet it was ― and after stopping to turn off a reading light that must’ve been left on from the last family ride, we laughed at how far back those seats really are. The lengthy roll of paper that was on one side: a Costco receipt, was a reminder that we weren’t really alone… just on a date.

We reflected on the dinner table conversation earlier in the evening where we talked about dates, dating, all the definitions of “courtship” and children. Our friends were talking about the recreation of dating and its assorted other recreational activities and how kids are entertained to death with recreation. We had talked about how we’ve shared with our children over the years that regardless of how things look or seem presently, the boy or girl they might “date” is, in stark reality, someone’s husband or wife. Somewhere, sometime, someplace, that person will be someone’s spouse. And if our children have “dated” that person and it’s not their spouse, they will have defrauded that person. We told our children many times through the years that they come with, or are born with, many gifts—many “firsts” — and it’s these gifts or “firsts” that they will give to their spouse. If they’ve kept them all, then when they get to the alter on their wedding day, their groom or bride will receive all their gifts—all their “firsts.” Their first love, their first embrace, their first hopes, their first kiss, their first promises, their first attention, etc., etc. All those “firsts” will have been preciously preserved or they will have been thoughtlessly and foolishly squandered. How sad it would be to arrive at the alter with no gifts… or tarnished gifts.

We have shared with our children that we are ashamed that many of our gifts were squandered on others. That we didn’t arrive at the alter with all of our gifts… I’ve been quick to say that I am thankful I arrived at the alter with the big gift intact… but how much sweeter it would have been and would be today if all my kisses, all my promises, all my embraces, all my dreams had been reserved for the one man the LORD had chosen for me—the one man I was chosen to complete. How much more complete I could have been had my life been totally yielded to the LORD.

We’ve shared that dating is so sweet, so delightful. And I suppose this is a matter of semantics and some might think I’m beating a dead horse, but dating is so misunderstood. Courtship’s even becoming misunderstood and perhaps it’s becoming sort of glorified dating. But real dating is for married people—for only married people can enjoy or have a whole date with no regrets. Any other sort of “dating” is simply recreation… playing at marriage, playing at emotional divorce, playing house. And like I’ve shared many, many times: marriage is for keeps—playtime isn’t. We pray for all of our children (even married) to fully enjoy authentic love and authentic dates! With no regrets.
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