Sunday, February 27, 2011

The McLovin's WOW Date Night

Our church, Watermark Community Church, encouraged married couples to take a Saturday night out for a "Date Night Done Right."  In the busyness of life, it is so easy to forget why we fell in love and forget the joy that was designed for marriage.  We were instructed to go to the church parking lot, pick up our Date Night Kits, and simply spend an evening dating each other.  Instructions would be provided to help have a WOW date!  

Picking up our kits ... WOW!
Todd Wagner, our senior pastor, reminds us that we are either moving TOWARD oneness or AWAY from oneness in our marriage.  This point is important in every decision that we make in our lives once we make that covenant at the alter.  Often, we are moving away from one another because of selfishness.   We struggle to serve our spouse first, just as we struggle to put Christ first.  I know this is a daily battle in my life!  My husband becomes the enemy, as I fight for my own selfish desires.  This date night was a fun reminder for me of why I fell in love with my husband and a great step toward oneness in our marriage.  

"So they are no longer two, but one.  
Therefore what God has joined together, 
let man not separate."
Matthew 19:6

"What causes fights and quarrels among you?  
Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?"
James 4:1

The Date Night Kits were full of goodies, including a question/conversation guide, coupons, and candy.  Yes, it was all free, and who doesn't love free stuff?  Along with the guide, we had a challenge to total up how many times we could use the word "wow" throughout the night.  Well, we like to take things to the next level, so we used some creativity and created a pictorial diary of our night, with some "WOW" pictures!

WOW!!  Great stuff .. thanks Watermark!!
We headed south on I-75 and hit some traffic, but that's okay because we had our cute picture on the dash and our conversation guide in hand!  

WOW!  Now that's a cute couple!
It was a tough decision between Village Burger Bar and Patrizio's because we have great memories at both places.  In fact, I almost burned down Village Burger Bar with a straw wrapper and a votive candle.  You may wonder how this could possibly happen, but then again, you are dealing with the McDonoughs.  We chose to play it safe and eat at Patrizio's.  

Wow-wow-wee-wow ... that was delicious!
I think we overused our "wows" at dinner!  We couldn't even keep track, it was so ridiculous!  Our waiter, John, was a good sport and helped us out.  We are hoping for some points for creativity!  I'm thankful for a husband that plays along!  

Check please!  Wow, he did a great job! 
Next, we were off  for some dessert.  Ice cream is my love language, so Marble Slab was an easy choice!

WOW!  That's a lot of calories!  
After a night full of great conversation and laughter, we headed home.  But we were having so much fun, we didn't want the night to end!  We wanted more WOW!!  

Wow!  Candy!  Yummm!

Even Rambo wanted to participate!  

This was a date night that we will always remember!  It was a step TOWARD oneness for our marriage.  A night of fun and laughter.  A night of working as a team to come up with silly ideas to creatively WOW people with our pictures! 

WOW!  Gotta keep date nights alive in marriage!
Here are some of the conversation starters/questions from the kit, in case you need some ideas for your own WOW date: 

  • When we were dating, I tried to get you to say 'Wow' by ... 
  • When we dated, the thing about you that made me say 'Wow' was ...   
  • Something funny that only you know about me or that I only know about you is ...
  • Something I don't say "thank you" for nearly enough is ...
  • What about this restaurant makes you say, 'Wow'?
  • What's the hardest we have ever laughed in our marriage/relationship?
  • Your favorite way to waste time with your spouse.
  • An embarrassing moment in my life that I have never shared with you was when I ...
  • For Parents: The thing about you as a parent that makes me say, 'Wow!' is the way you ...
  • I understand more about Jesus because of the way you ... 
  • I am more like Christ today because of the way you ... 
  • Share a passage of scripture you read recently and why it was encouraging or challenging to you.
  • Something new you learned about your spouse ... 
  • The most encouraging thing you said to me tonight ... 

We ended this WOW date night with a kiss, as instructed, only a little different than most!  :-)  It took us several tries to get this picture just right ... and we enjoyed every bit of it!  

WOW ... we had fun making this picture!  
And since this date was designed for married folks, you know where the evening went from here ... NIGHT!  ;-)

No caption needed!  WOW!  

Saturday Swag

I love having girlfriends that aren't embarrassed to act like kids with me!  Saturday afternoon, we went to see the Justin Bieber: Never Say Never movie.  We may have been the oldest people in the theatre without children.  We may have been laughed at a few times, like when we purchased our tickets.  Sweet Joanna arrived early to purchase our tickets.  They asked, "Will that be one adult and one child?"  She had to sheepishly explain, "No, that will be two adults, please."  The ladies snickered behind their glass window, but it was totally worth it!!  

The Biebs, in his signature color. 
Watching this movie in the theater was an experience in itself.  I felt like I was back in middle school, with all the chattering girls and high pitched shrieks every time Justin appeared on the big screen.  "I love you Justin Bieber," I heard from the back (several times).  Everyone was singing and dancing along by the end of the show.  I may have gotten a little misty-eyed a few times throughout the movie (don't judge).  

Rockin' the 3D glasses!  
We got swagger!  J.B. t-shirts ... kid's sizes!  
Believe it or not, the movie was really well done, and Justin Bieber is a very talented young man.  I have a new found respect for him, and his journey to the top!  He comes from a Christian family and his production team prays before each show.  It was very refreshing to see this in the world we live in today.  As a young Hollywood star, Justin is going to be faced with a lot of pressures.  I certainly pray that he doesn't choose the moral paths of the others: Britney, Charlie, Lindsey, Mel, and many, many others. 

I do believe that the director was wrong with the final message.  Basically, it says that if you believe in yourself and work hard, you can reach your dreams.  I know it may be strange to tie in a Biblical thought to this post, but it makes me sad that so many viewers are getting a skewed message.  Although the movie's synopsis sounds nice and motivating, I prefer Biblical truth.  We must follow Christ first and foremost.  Although He does call us to work hard, as the Bible tells us that we will reap what we sow, our achievements are NOT gained on our merit alone.  It is through the Lord that we will succeed in our lives, and this may not look like success as the world sees success.  We may not gain fame and fortune, our rewards may be eternal...which are of MUCH greater value!!  

In his heart a man plans his course, 
but the Lord determines his steps. 
Proverbs 16:8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding; 
in all your ways  acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight. 
Proverbs 3:5-6

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

P.S.  I want you to know, Mr. Bieber, I had swagger before anyone even knew you existed!  Haha!  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rambo-nanza...the beginning

Well, I've told you about the love of  my life, David, but I had a first love (besides Jesus).  I want to introduce you to my furry, four-legged friend, Rambo.  Graduate school was one of darkest and loneliest times of my life, and I thought I needed a companion.  Yes, I had things a little backwards at the time.  Literally.  G-O-D spelled backwards is D-O-G.  Okay, bad joke.  I searched for a puppy.  I found Rambo on (yes, you can find true love on the internet).... a precious little jack russell, rat terrier mix puppy.  How could you turn away from this sweet face?

Rambo's Picture on
I went for a visit and it was love at first sniff ... or lick in Rambo's case.  He can't control his licker, as we like to say.  I signed the adoption papers and took him home with me!

Kisses from Rambo
Adoption Day: March 20, 2004
One problem.  His adoptive name was "Twinkie."  I couldn't live with having a male dog with the name "Twinkie."  I mean seriously???  Thankfully, he didn't respond to that name yet!  Therefore, I decided to overcompensate and give him a hyper-masculine name--RAMBO.  Perfect.  Especially, since he was full of energy.  So, he became my Rambunctious Rambo.

He has been the best addition to my life!  It is wonderful to have someone (okay, something) to come home to that is always happy to see you.  His tail never, and I mean NEVER, stops wagging!  We have been inseparable ever since (he is napping right next to me at the moment)!  Rambo loves to cuddle and is always there when I have a bad day!  He is the most loving creature I've ever met.  He greets everyone with kisses, and all he asks for is a little belly rub.  He is smart, playful, and thinks he's human (is that a bad thing?).  He couldn't hurt a fly.  You can yell at him, and probably hurt him, and he would come right back to you with unconditional love.  

Sleeping like a human, after I've gotten up for the day.
Dogs are special animals.  How often do we show them attention when we want something in return, such as when we've had a bad day.  But as soon as we get busy, we don't give them a second thought.  We can forget to feed them, and they don't get mad!  Regardless, every day, when we come home, there they are with the same response ... a wagging tail, just happy to see us home.  

This reminds me of our often fickle relationships with Jesus.  Everyday, He offers us a free gift of unconditional love and a relationship with him.  He wants to communicate with us daily.  But how often do we ignore Christ?  Either our lives seem to be going well, or maybe we are just too busy.  We don't think we NEED Him, until something happens.  Then, we remember that He is there.  Sometimes by that point, we are angry at Him because we didn't get what we want or life didn't work out the way we think it should have.  We hurl insults at him, ignore him, or blame him for the poor choices we made.  Is that really fair?  Thankfully, Jesus is going to remain faithful.  

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, 
slow to anger, abounding in love. "

Psalm 103:8 

That doesn't mean there won't be consequences for our behavior, but He will be right by our side loving us along the way while we pick up the pieces.  Deuteronomy 31:6 says, "he will never leave you nor forsake you."  The Lord will meet us where we are with unconditional love, but he wants more.  He wants a DAILY relationship with us.  He wants to communicate with us daily and wants us to live out our faith each day.  This is the challenge Jesus gave his disciples: 

"Then he said to them all; 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.'" 

Luke 9:23-24

He challenges us to love others like He loved us!  This is where we will truly find life and joy in our lives, when we make the most of our relationship with the Lord.  Perhaps we should think about how we treat this most important relationship.  How much attention do you give your relationship with Jesus?  


And don't worry ... there will be many more Rambo stories to come in future blogs!     ;-) 

A Time to Laugh ...

It's Thursday morning.  Most of us are having to drag ourselves out of bed by this time in the week, just trying to make it through Friday and to try to get some rest on the weekend.  I thought that we might need something light hearted today to help us get to the weekend.  

I love that laughter is Biblical!  Solomon writes that there is a time for everything: 

"a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,"
Ecclesiastes 3:4

Laughter has been proven to be a wonderful stress reliever.  They say it is the "best medicine."  I'm not sure who "they" are, but I know I feel a lot better when I am laughing then when I am down in the dumps.  Jesus can turn even our worst times of sadness to joy if we are faithful and allow Him to do so.  

"Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, 
The Lord has done great things for them."
Psalm 126:2

I like to look for the little things random things around me in life that make me smile.  You never know where you are going to find them.  I am not a photographer, mind you!  But with technology, I am able to take pictures of these moments with my handy iPhone.  Who knew someday I would be able to use them to bring a smile to your face (hopefully).  

Someone decided to make my car more aPEELing! 
Happy Lego Family

Best HUGGIES ad I've ever seen!  
Isn't this the cutest banana?
A bird in the hand is worth ...
I hope at least one of those made you smile or giggle!  If not, at least tomorrow is Friday!  :-)  Open your eyes ... you never know what's around you.  And don't forget to laugh at yourself and laugh at life a little.  It will make each day a little bit easier!  Remember, the Bible says there is a time to laugh!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I've Got the Joy In My Heart!

As a child, I sang a song in Sunday School called I've Got the Joy In My Heart.  In case you didn't go to Sunday School or the song has faded over the years, here is a gist of the lyrics: 

I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Down in my heart!
Down in my heart!
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay

And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart
Down in my heart
And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart.

Seems simple to sing a little Bible song and and clap your hands when you're a kid with no cares in the world.  But, then we grow up.  LIFE happens.  We experience challenges, failures, broken hearts, suffering, illness, and death.  We lose some of that innocent happiness and joy.  I can speak for myself and say that I haven't been full of joy over the years; I've struggled with negativity and years of depression.  

You may ask: how am I supposed to be joyful in a world full of suffering and pain?  Am I supposed to clap my hands when the bills come in the mail?  How am I supposed to feel joyful about dealing with difficult coworkers or going to a job that I hate day after day?  Should I sing when my heart hurts from a damaged relationship or when illness or death strikes a loved one?  

The answer:


WHAT????  The reason why you might have a problem with this answer is because we think we can only be happy when things are going OUR way.  We often think we will be full of joy when circumstances are going the way WE planned them.  Have you ever had thoughts similar to these?  

  • I will be happy when I get that next job I really want. 
  • I will be happy when I finish college.  
  • I will be happy when I get married. 
  • I will be happy when I move.
  • I will be happy when I meet that guy or girl that is the ONE!  
  • I will be happy when I get that promotion.   

Think back throughout your life.  Moving on to the NEXT thing never made you truly joyful.  It may have made you happy for a few moments, but most likely your problems followed you.  Why?  Because all of these things are temporary.  All of these things are focused on ourselves--they are "me" focused.

Our ultimate purpose on this earth is to worship our heavenly Father!  That is what JOY is really all about!  Taking the focus off of ourselves and focusing on Him and his perfect attributes!  Our God is our creator and has graciously given us everything that we have; without Him, we have nothing!  Psalm 100 describes how the Lord's love endures forever!  He is faithful.  That alone is something to be joyful about.  We should enter the Lord's presence with thanksgiving and praise.

Maybe we should go back to singing songs from Sunday School ... there's more to the simple songs than we think!  Do you have the love of Jesus in your heart?   


Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; 
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his; 
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise; 
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; 
his faithfulness continues through all generations.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

The McLovins

Now that you know why I decided to start a blog, I want to tell you a little bit more about myself and my family.  Our identity tends to be intertwined with how we grew up: our families of origin, where we grew up, our education, our beliefs, life circumstances, and the choices we make along the way.  

I can't tell you how thankful I am that I was raised in a Christian home with loving parents.  I have a brother, Austin, who I have always looked up to.  There are no perfect parents, but they certainly did their best!  My dad was in the military, so we moved around quite a bit and finally settled in Dallas, Texas when I was in middle school.  After graduating high school, I went to Baylor University and completed both an undergraduate and graduate degree in Exercise Physiology.  I moved back to Dallas, Texas and started a career in Cardiac Rehabilitation, working as an Exercise Physiologist.  Although faced with some hardships at work, I loved teaching my heart patients how to live healthier lives and watching them achieve their goals.  My life has been a characterized by a series of challenges, which the Lord has used to make me stronger, but we will get into those stories another day.  

In 2007, I met my best friend and the love of my life ... no, not Rambo (although, he is a close second).  My relationship with David, or Dave, began as a friendship and blossomed into love throughout the summer and fall.  What originally drew me to him was sense of humor.  Oh, the humor!  If laughter is the best medicine, then Dave is my drug of choice!!  This is where we "just get each other."  We are a mess; drama follows us where ever we go.  Below is a picture of the infamous Starbucks sign that will always hold a special place in our heart.  Since, we were already friends, Dave asked if we could go grab some coffee and talk.  While walking in, I banged my head on this sign.  I tried to play it cool, but I had blood dripping down (sorry if this is TMI) my head, and Dave didn't know what to do.  He said, "it looks like your head is having it's period."  I assured everyone that it was okay "because I didn't have any STDs."  Dave drove me back to my apartment; I held pressure on my head wound, suffering from dizziness and a massive headache.  This was his moment!  He asked me out on an official date.  I was in a moment of weakness!  ;-)  I said, "yes."  And this is how our relationship began.    

Our dating relationship was fun, exciting, and always full of laughter!  As we grew deeper into love, I was drawn to how Dave had the desire to grow closer to the Lord and to be a Christian leader for his future family.  Of course, he is quite handsome!  He always put me first, after his relationship with Christ.  We both wanted to keep our relationship pure until we were married, and he never kept me guessing on where our relationship was headed.  Dave proposed June 10, 2008, we were married on January 24, 2009.  It was a beautiful wedding, and I believe one of the best ceremonies and receptions ever!  But, then again, I could be biased!  

One of the first movies we saw together was Superbad (not very wholesome, I know).  If you have seen it, you may know of the character, "McLovin."  We quickly embraced the nickname from our friends the "McLovins."  Now, everything becomes Mc-something, we were "McMarried," and I recently became a "McBlogger" ... I think you get the idea. 

We recently celebrated our 2nd anniversary, and we will both agree that marriage definitely takes work.  It doesn't come easily.  It's not something that "just happens."  We are sinners: selfish, prideful people that want things done OUR way!  I can honestly say that I love David more today than the day I married him, and I have a deeper understanding of UNCONDITIONAL love.  Although I haven't read the book yet, I truly believe there is something in the question from the Sacred Marriage, "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy"?  Through the ups and downs and challenges of marriage and life, I can say that I have grown to cling to the Lord and find my identity in Him.  

Two Roses for Two Years!  

As I started off this post, saying that so much of our identity comes from our families and life circumstances, we must go back to the truth: our TRUE identity is in CHRIST.  If we have accepted Christ, we are free from our past sins and hurts ... we are a new creation!  What an incredible gift!  

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, 
he is a new creation; the old has gone, 
the new has come! 
2 Corinthians 5:17

Be Joyful Always

I've noticed a lot of my friends transitioned from Facebook to blogging when they announced their pregnancy or their families started to grow.  For some reason, it seems like the natural form of social media progression.  My reason for starting a blog isn't because of any family transition but instead to explore and share a LIFE transition, one that will be a continual, daily challenge.  

On January 4, 2011 I lost my job.  Since then, I have been challenged with what it means to truly follow the Lord's plan for my life.  I can look back even further and see where God has been stripping me of all control of my life's circumstances so that I will learn to rely on Him.  As I heard in a recent testimony, I am learning to be okay with the "I don't know's" of life.  

I've always liked the passage 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  I think many of us read these verses and think, "oh, that's nice" or "of course we should do all of those things."  Then, we go back to our busy lives, filled with work, friends, family etc. and don't really consider the true meaning.  What would our lives look like if we lived out these verses in our lives?  The first verse says to "be joyful always."  We were created to praise the Lord!  For me, this has been a challenge with life's many ups and downs.  I still struggle to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.  Scripture reminds us to always praise the Lord for who He is and what He has done for us!  Next this passage calls us to "pray continually."  We were designed to have a personal relationship with Jesus, so close that we can constantly turn to him in prayer.  Give thanks in all circumstances.  Okay, seriously?  You want me to give thanks for bills or illness or a death in my family?  This seems so unrealistic in a world full of suffering, but God calls us to do so.  There is always something that we can be thankful for.  Through my life's unexpected turn of events, I have been reevaluating my life and asking the Lord what His plan is for my life.  Well, the answer is in the next part of this passage, "this is God's will for you."  We are called to do all of these things; it is an act of obedience.  By now, you may be thinking, "how in the world are we supposed to do all of these things?"  It seems like an impossible task.  Don't give up!  There is one more part of this passage that we must not overlook--"in Christ Jesus."  Whew!  The beauty is we don't have to walk through this life alone!  All we have to do is be faithful and let the Lord take control.

Thus, the inspiration for my blog!  

I hope you will walk with me as I discover the Lord's plan for my life and as I walk with Him daily.