Dress to Impress

Let’s Date-Part Five

I love to dress up.  I am not a sweatpants and sweatshirt type of gal.   If you know me very well, you know I love to wear a dress or a skirt most of the time. It is the style I like.  Ballroom dancing gives Dan and I an opportunity to dress up when we go on our date.  I love it when Dan wears a suit and tie.  He looks quite smashing indeed.  : )

Our very first date together was on New Year’s Eve, 1980.  He was taking me to a fancy restaurant and a night of dancing.  It was his time to impress.  Dan drove out on the country gravel roads to pick me up on the Manning farm.  He was dressed up in a light blue polyester suit,  white dress shirt, and tie.  This was not only a time to impress me but a time to impress my parents.  It was their first meeting together.  My parents liked Dan right from the beginning.  I think his suit and his nice personality started him off to a great start.  

Dan in his polyester suit was a step up from what I was used to him wearing.  I was used to polyester but it was a brown and orange uniform with a sailor hat.   He smelled like burgers and french fries.  Yes, we met at a very romantic place called Hardee’s.  It was a fast-food restaurant.  We both were employed there.  So I should say we both smelled like burgers and fries.  We both had greasy brown shoes to match.  It’s a miracle that Dan would even ask me for a date under those circumstances.  Hmmm, I guess we both could see something beyond the brown and orange polyester since it was not very flattering.   

Now fast forward 42 years and we live in a much more casual dress America.  I remember with Dan’s first accounting jobs,  he would wear a suit and tie to work every day.  Now, thanks to Covid, it’s even more casual since his office is at home.   Shorts and t-shirts can be your dress for the day. 

So I enjoy the occasional times we can dress up, look our best for each other, go dancing,  and make it a special date night.  

Dressing up once in a while will go a long way in impressing each other for that special date night. 

2009

The First Dance

Tomorrow, Dan and I have the privilege of attending the wedding of a friend of the family.  The engaged couple approached us about teaching them a few ballroom dance steps for their first dance together as husband and wife.  Dan and I were happy to share our knowledge of ballroom dance with them.  

They chose a song they liked and a slow dance was the best fit for their music.  We taught them a couple underarm turns, a rock step, magic turns, and a final dip for the finale.  

Spending time with this young almost married couple was a reminder of what it is like to always want to be together.  Always wanting to do whatever is asked by the other.  Wanting to dance, just because they know it will please the other.  Smiling at each other-just because.  

They thanked us for teaching them slow dance steps.   They told us that learning the slow dance is something they can take with them in their marriage together.   The slow dance can be easily done in the kitchen, in the garage, or in the bedroom.   

I told them that I believe any married couple that dances with each other daily-would most likely never separate.  

It would keep them close.  Closer together as husband and wife!

Dinner With You

Let’s Date-Part Four

It saddens me to go to a restaurant with Dan, and I look over to see a couple at a table with their heads down-staring into their cell phone screen.  Their attention is obviously not on each other.  How do they know what is going on in each other’s life?   How do they know what is happening in their day?

In my book of etiquette-all cell phones would be put away when eating a meal.  We need a break from technology.  Especially our cell phones.  Dan and I have this as a standing mealtime rule at home or when on a date.  We don’t bring our phones to the table.  A cell phone is easy to grab if it is sitting on the table next to you.  You want to share the world’s latest news, pictures, or statistics.  I have done this a few times.   You have to be disciplined at not grabbing your cell phone.  Your phone seems to have a trance on you.  You don’t even realize what you are doing.  That is scary.  

When Dan and I go out to eat at a restaurant it is an event.  Besides our yearly vacations, it does not happen very often.  We have become more choosy on where we go for our eating out date.  I enjoy a quiet romantic atmosphere.  This really limits our selection.   I despise having TVs in the room where I am eating at.  At one restaurant we went to, I seriously could watch 11 televisions from the chair I was sitting at.  How many TVs does a person need?  You can’t help but have your eyes on at least one of those TVs.  Dan did not have my attention, the 11 screens did.  It was a horrible experience that I would never go back to.  It was not a date.  

On more than one occasion, the venue was so noisy, that Dan and I had to yell at each other to have a conversation.  I would rather stay home. 

We in America have lost the importance of mealtime.  When possible, eating together should be done daily. Mealtime is not just to stuff our faces.   It should never be rushed.  It is a time to connect with our spouse, family, or friends.   This only happens when putting away the screens!

Come Dance with Us!

Let’s Date-Part Three

After teaching our first year of ballroom dancing with ‘Dance With Me Ministries’,  Dan and I wanted to plan ongoing dance opportunities for our graduated dance class to attend.  It would keep us dancing and fellowshipping together when our weekly classes had finished.  After many years of dance class ministry, we still have our monthly dances where couples can go out together for a date.  An added bonus is the food, fellowship, and a wonderful venue that these events bring.  

Summer Lake McBride Dance-For over 10 years our outdoor venue is a large deck that overlooks Lake McBride in Solon, Iowa.  A couple that had joined us for ‘DWMM’ has opened their lovely property and home for us to dance the night away.  We start with a pot-luck dinner together and then have a 1-hour dance.  Dancing to either a Fox Trot, Swing, Rumba, or Waltz overlooking the lake.  : )  At the end of our dance, we are treated to a pontoon boat ride to enjoy the moonlit lake.      

Christmas Tree Market- A fall and spring dance awaits us in the midst of the evergreen Christmas tree market.  Another couple that has attended our ballroom dance class has opened their acreage, barn, and outdoor space to our group.  Food is always a part of our fellowship/dance time with a cup of hot chocolate or cider to help with the coolness in the air.  

For many years we had a Valentine’s dance at a local coffee shop.  The venue is a historic older building, with hardwood floors, and a rural setting.  Most couples would dress up for this once-a-year event.  Homemade delectable desserts would be served along with their house coffee.  A music playlist of romantic songs would be played for this festive occasion. 

Our most attended event is our annual formal Christmas Ball.  The venue has changed throughout the years, but our favorite has been the historic CSPS building in downtown Cedar Rapids.  High ceilings, wooden floors, and large windows to see the snow lightly falling makes for a perfect evening.  Everyone brings a festive Christmas finger food to share.  Punch is served. Our music playlist is all Christmas tunes with the beat of Waltz, Fox Trot, Swing, Polka, Rumba, and Slow Dance.  It is quite the evening. 

As with many fellowship and dating outings, the last few years of a virus have made it difficult to continue on.  But we need each other and especially need to date.  As long as we are able, we will plan to dance!   

Kava House Valentines Dance-2013

Why Don’t We Just Dance

Let’s Date-Week Two

My parents met at a ballroom dance.  Back in the day, the Col-Ballroom in the Quad Cities was a great way to meet others and try out your dance moves.  Many times live bands would play for the crowd. For my dad, it was a time to get out of his farming clothes and dress up for the girls.   Technology did not keep a person at home.  Times have changed.

We are thankful that there are some area venues for Dan and I to try out the steps we have practiced.  Here are just a few of the dances we have attended:

Congenial 100-Dan and I are part of a ballroom dance club that started 90 years ago here in Cedar Rapids.  We go once a month, 8 months out of the year.  It is time to dress up!  We enjoy a catered dinner with dessert and live music. We have met many congenial friends. 

USA Dance-This is a nationwide organization that offers ballroom dancing and a one-hour group dance lesson.  Our local chapter meets once a month at the Old Brick in Iowa City.  Dan and I have learned many new dance moves by attending USA dances.  

The Barn Dance- A horse arena turned into a dance venue.  We dress up for this once-a-month dance that has a huge dance floor.  This is quite the venue.  Snacks and beverages are provided.  

Dubuque Fairgrounds-A big band would be the highlight of this New Year’s Eve event.  Everyone would dress up for this dance.   We would ring in the new year with champagne, party favors, and a midnight buffet. 

Walford Ponderosa-Rod Pierson Big Band would be the highlight of this formal Valentine’s ballroom dance. 

Many of the ballroom dance events are in danger of no longer continuing.  We attend and invite so we can continue our dancing out!

Dating keeps you closer as a couple and with others!

Let’s Date

Let’s Date-Part One

For me, one of the best benefits of ballroom dancing is that you have a scheduled date together.  When  Dan and I  began ballroom dancing, we did not realize that we had local ballroom dances that we could attend together.  Before Covid began, we had at least one dance a week that we would go to on a date.  We would often say we wanted to go on a date, but unless we had it on our schedule, it never seemed to happen.  Ballroom dancing made date nights easier.

Ballroom dance dates are a time we can dress up, get away from technology, meet others and get away from our regular routine.  It’s a great activity to do in the winter when life slows down a bit.  

Ballroom Dancing also has the added bonus of being a physical activity that keeps you moving and active.  Because of the fun and laughter while dancing, it is also great for your mental health.  The fun and laughter part is up to you.  

Let’s face it, we can all get busy and not spend quality together time.  Too busy=danger in a marriage. 

We need face-to-face time with our spouses and you get plenty of that when dancing together.   Dan and I have other activities that we do together, but it does not give us the important face-to-face time that we need.  

Who or what has your attention?  Dating will have your spouses!

God’s Word-1 Corinthians 13:13-13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV)

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Part Eight

God’s Word-Psalms 138: 1-18

1 You have searched me, Lord,

    and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;

    you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;

    you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue

    you, Lord, know it completely.

5 You hem me in behind and before,

    and you lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

    too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?

    Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

    if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

    your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

    and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;

    the night will shine like the day,

    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

    your works are wonderful,

    I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you

    when I was made in the secret place,

    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;

    all the days ordained for me were written in your book

    before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!

    How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,

    they would outnumber the grains of sand—

    when I awake, I am still with you.

These words should motivate each of us to live the unique life God has called us to. 

What better words to end this series, ‘Not Comparing Ourselves To Others.’ You are wonderfully made!!!

Your Journey

Part Seven

You are fearfully and wonderfully made!  Does anyone believe this anymore?  The bible tells us this, but I look around and find more unhappy people than ever.  They do not want to be who they were born to be.  They want to be someone else.  They are not happy with their lives.  

You have a calling that is unique to you!  No one in the whole wide world is created for your purpose and for your journey.  If you really think about this, it can bring peace to your soul.  

I am wondering if social media has a lot to do with this dissatisfaction?  YouTube?  When we see what others are doing or what they have, we can tend to lose our personal focus.   

For example, I found myself wanting my garden to look like those I was following on Instagram or YouTube.  I wanted all the plants they had.  I wanted my yard to look like their yard. I wanted what they wore for garden attire.  Good grief, how does a person keep up with this kind of living?  This kind of thinking keeps us from being personally creative. 

I knew my yard and my situation in gardening is specific to me.  No one has what I have.   If I take the time and energy and put it into the uniqueness of my situation,  think how beautiful life and my garden would be.  

In my personal observation, I feel the happiest people on earth are individuals who are content with who they are.  They walk in their gifts and talents. They are thankful to the God above for how they were fearfully and wonderfully made.  They have the peace of knowing they have a Savior.

God’s Word-Psalms 139:14

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well. (NIV)

 

Having Faith

Part Six

Having faith in yourself might be the hardest hurdle when chasing your dreams or sharing your gifts.   You will think you are not good enough.  You might feel that you need to clean up your life before God can use you.  There is good news for you.  Except for Jesus, God never uses perfect people to accomplish His will.  

You will not find one earthly perfect person in the Bible. (except Jesus) 

I am reminded of Moses in the Old Testament.  Moses was asked by God (burning bush) to go to Pharaoh to free the Israelites.  I am sure Moses was overwhelmed by the calling.  He began to give God all the reasons he was not adequate for the job.  “I am poor in speech, please send someone else.  Who am I to talk with Pharoh?  ”  Exodus Chapter-4

But God told Moses that He would be with Him.  He would help Him speak and teach Moses what to say.  

When I began writing for this blog, I could come up with every reason not to start.  For example, “I am not a good writer.  I didn’t go to college.  I have no experience with a blog.   I have many flaws.” : (  (Just to name a few).   If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, I am sure you have found grammar errors and poor writing.   Writing a perfect blog is not my goal.  My goal is to encourage couples in their marriages.   I don’t have to have perfect writings to encourage!  : )

It is easy to focus on our weaknesses instead of God’s strength within us.

I am thankful God is with me and will help me, whatever my calling may be.  

God can use you right where you are at.  He will be with you!  He is not looking for perfect! 

Such great news!

The Hurdles

Part Five

Anytime you are called to a ministry or using your gifts for others, you will find that it will not come without hurdles.  You will face people that don’t believe in what you are doing.  They might discourage you.   It is easy again to compare and look around at what others are doing and feel inadequate.  You might want to give up.  You might have some people who disagree with your mission.  It may be something no one has ever done before.    It’s Important to keep your focus on your purpose for your dreams to move forward.  You will need to surround yourself with those who will support and encourage your calling. 

We found this to be true when we started ‘Dance with Me Ministries’ over 13 years ago.  We began to approach the small group pastor of our church about teaching ballroom dance to married couples.  At the time, no dancing was allowed in the denomination we were attending.   There had never been a dance ministry.  So as you can imagine this was our first hurdle.  We shared with a Pastor about our mission of gelling ballroom and marriage ministry together.  He became our first big supporter.   Thank you, Pastor Dave!  He loved the idea of a ballroom dance marriage ministry.  He approached the other Pastors and elders of our home church about our small group idea.   We were on vacation at the time of receiving the news that we had the okay to begin ‘Dance With Me Ministries.’  It surprised us both.  It was a bit frightening, to say the least.  We didn’t think we would get past that first hurdle.  

Excited to share the news with others in the church, I began to spread the news of our upcoming dance ministry small group.  One of the first church ladies I spoke to, just laughed at the idea.  Not sure exactly why, but you definitely will run into those who don’t share your vision.  

We have had venue changes,  couples drop-out of our class,  low attendance, discouragement, challenges of writing curriculum, and Covid for more hurdles to jump.   

But Dan and I can share how God has opened doors when we needed doors to be opened.  God jumped the hurdles and laid them down as they came before us.   We just ran right over those laid-down hurdles. 

Don’t look around and keep your focus.  Believe in yourself.  Believe in your mission. 

God’s Word- Jeremiah 29:1111 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)