The Bell Family

Random ponderings on God, life, and the humor all around us

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Date Night–Blue Lagoon & Art-tiques

For one of our date nights at the end of the year, Bill took me to Sears to use a gift card to buy more clothes.  Later we went to Art-tiques which is in downtown Jeffersonville.  It was a small art festival on the river, and he bought me two pairs of my first hand-crafted earrings.

After the festival we used one of our coupons to go to a new restaurant in Louisville called Blue Lagoon.  It is now seriously one of our favorite restaurants with amazing food that is beautifully displayed and great service.  The atmosphere was well-done, making you feel as though you were sitting outside.  We had shrimp scampi as an appetizer (sorry, no pictures but freakin’ awesome).  Bill had a fish & chicken dish, and I had the Mahi-Mahi.  For dessert Bill had some kind of pistachhio ice cream dessert (can you tell we’re not foodies?).  I had fried cheesecake.  Yum!

Things we discussed: Is there anything we need to do/change now to finish the year glorifying God?


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Note About Who Plans Our Dates

I have realized through this series it may come across that I plan most of our dates.  I just want to clarify that this is not true.  I am the one posting because our family setup allows me to have a bit more time to blog but leaves very little time for Bill to do so.  Bill does read over all my posts before publishing them, so you could often just as easily read the “I” to be Bill.  Having said that, neither does Bill plan all the dates, and I’d like to explain why.

 There is a school of thought that says only the man should plan dates, most often to show male leadership in romance in the relationship–which we gladly affirm.  But, as Bill has said to me about this issue, “If I planned all of the dates, then they would only be as creative as the ideas I could come up with and would totally ignore all the creativity you bring to our marriage.”  We don’t have dates just for the sake of having them, but as a venue to really connect in a way that we can’t in normal daily life.  So, while we do agree that men should lead in all parts of a marriage–romance included–we also agree that God set up marriage for both spouses to take joyful responsibility in romancing and caring for each other.  It just looks different for each sex and for each person.  Besides, we feel like it would make for a really one-sided relationship if only one of us planned all of the dates.  Therefore, we usually take turns planning both our in-home and out-of-home dates.  When I have opportunities to plan some of our dates, it gives me an chance to challenge myself to think about my husband’s needs and desires and to try to creatively love him in different ways and vice versa.  In that vein, it allows us to plan outings or gifts for the other that they wouldn’t necessarily do for themselves.  In this, we make opportunities not only to carve out time for one another, but to do so in ways that show our deep love for each other tangibly.

Incidentally, the way we plan often gives insight into our spouse’s desires.  For example (truly an example, not an actual scenario for us), Bill doesn’t like coffee, so it might never occur to him to take me to a coffee shop.  Because I love coffee, that might be the first thing I think of when planning a date.  If I plan a coffee shop date, it gives Bill a glimpse that this is a kind of date that might bless me in the future.  On a side note, we should be planning our dates around blessing our spouse, not ourselves, so it probably wouldn’t be a wise decision for me to plan a coffee shop date when I know Bill doesn’t like coffee.  🙂  In so doing, we become a better “student” of our spouse and learn more of them so that we can in the future show them even more specific forms of love.  Planning dates becomes a playful challenge for both of us where we ask ourselves each time, “How can I bless my spouse in particular for this date?”  And that’s really the bottom line for us when it comes to dating each other.


My Christmas Present

Our friend Rachel blessed us yesterday with a night out while she watched the kids.  As many of you know, we are in need of a van so we have room for three car seats.  Bill has been trying to figure out if it would be best to trade in our Chevy Lumina or to sell it for parts (it’s barely drivable).  He found a place we could sell it that he thought would be the best value, so he asked Rachel to come over a little earlier to give us time to take the car to the buyer.  I was following behind him talking to him on the cell phone (we were on a date, remember) when he pulled into the business.  I was already driving in the parking lot before I looked to see where we were.  The sign said Enterprise Car Sales.  I experienced a moment of absolute bewilderment because I knew we were planning on purchasing our van from Enterprise, and I knew we weren’t going to start looking for a couple more months.  I got out of the car to see my husband with a huge grin on his face.  He had already been working with our friend Drew (Enterprise car salesman) for a couple of weeks, and everyone and their mom (including two women who were at our house right before we left) was in on the fact that Bill was surprising me with a new-to-us van that night.  He already had it picked out.  All we had to do was test drive it and sign papers.  We left Enterprise last night with a black 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan, and I love it! 

For those of you who don’t know, C.J. Mahaney has nothing on my romantic husband.  Bill is always looking for new ways to romance me, and this was just one more thing he went out of his way to do to touch my heart (in case it doesn’t seem romantic to some of you to buy your spouse a mini van, a mini van is basically my dream car–laugh if you want).  Well, Baby, you touched it and have it as always.  I love you! 

Man, it’s going to be tough to match that Christmas present.

Cheap plug:  We are convinced of Enterprise Car Sales (especially because there’s no haggling–we always struggle with our conscience on that one).  We don’t think we will ever purchase a vehicle from anyone else.  If you are as convinced as we are after investigating, you need to purchase from our friend, Drew.  Contact us if you want his info.  🙂


The One Who’s There

Many women I know will tell me that they are not very dependent on their husbands.  Not me.  I am pitifully dependent on him.  Bill is by far my favorite person to be with, and he is what brings me more joy than anything else.  I have amazing friends, but I can never think of a time when I wanted to be with a friend (or my children) more than with Bill.  When I’m with him, I feel complete.

Lately, though, Bill has been working quite a bit of overtime to help with future purchases we have to make.  Needless to say, I have been a bit lonely and a bit clingy when he does finally get home. 🙂  A few mornings ago, though, I was reminded of the One I have who is sweeter than Bill.

Bill leaves during my quiet time, and I became very sad when the time came that morning.  After he left, I had one of those precious, rare (at least for me) moments of prayer when you don’t want to do anything but sit at God’s feet.  I usually only pray for 5-10 minutes in the morning, but I couldn’t get up for more than 45 minutes that morning, and then only by sheer will.  As I was pouring my heart out to my Lord, He seemed to wrap me in His arms and remind me that He never leaves and that He is the only true source of joy.  It was almost as though I realized for the first time that God doesn’t go to work, doesn’t go to the store, doesn’t take the kids out, doesn’t even leave to go to the bathroom.  He is always there listening to my prayers and listening to my heart when I am too self-centered to approach Him in prayer.  Bill’s name means strong protector, but God is a much stronger protector than Bill could imagine. 

I have been going through a long season of self-pity, and it was a beautiful wake-up to be reminded that there is One who knows my heart better than I do, and He never leaves me alone, even for a second.  He is still working all things, including every circumstance in my life, together for the good of those who love Him.  I pray He continues teaching me to sit with Him and talk to Him each time I long for an unavailable Bill.  I especially pray that He will show me grace to make Him my only God instead of trying to use Bill as a substitute.


Bill and Courtney Sittin’ In a Tree

As some of you saw in my previous post, Bill and I got some alone time last week.  Here are some things we got to do that are rare treats for us anymore:

  • Went to see “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”  I know some people have reasons against all the Harry Potter stuff, but we are huge fans.
  • Got coffee from Starbucks (O.K., Bill got a vanilla bean frappuccino–not a coffee fan)
  • Went on evening strolls, one of our favorite pastimes pre-kids
  • Visited some friends
  • Ate lunch together every day
  • Went out to eat
  • Went to the jazz factory
  • Stood in line at midnight to get “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”
  • Prayed together for our kids
  • Read the new Harry Potter book together (I know it’s a big Harry Potter week.  Did I mention we’re huge fans?)
  • Talked, talked, talked, talked, talked
  • Solved a Rubic’s cube
  • Reevaluated some parenting issues
  • Laughed a lot
  • Listened to and watched a thunderstorm through our screen door
  • I drove him to work and picked him up

I was missing the kids at the beginning of the week, but now that they are back I’m missing my special time with my hubby.  I’m ready to do it all again!

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Mommy Vacation

For those of you who are stay-at-home moms, you know that it’s difficult to actually get a true vacation from your job.  Even when on vacation, you usually still have the kids with you, so you’re still working.  For about four days last week, I got my first only-Mommy vacation.

A couple of weeks ago I let myself give in to so much sinfulness because I was having a pity party.  I was tired from the pregnancy, sick from Crohn’s, unsatisfied with finances, desiring to be lazy, lonely for adult conversation, and, probably worst of all, getting annoyed with every little thing Bill was doing.  All I did was think about the future and a better time instead of getting on my knees before my Savior and repenting for my discontentment.

Bill and I discussed the possibility of sending the kids to stay with our parents for a few days.  I asked several people for their opinion on the matter, and every one said they felt sending them would be a wise decision, so basically it was me against them.  I was the only one who didn’t want to give my children up for a break and reevaluation (I convinced myself I would be shirking my responsibilities).  When I finally gave, I realized I didn’t want to give them up because I was scared to live with just Bill again.  I had forgotten how to do that, and it made me uncomfortable.

Well, the kids left Tuesday afternoon and came back Saturday.  Tuesday was hard, but the rest of the week was glorious.  Bill and I have gotten to reconnect in a way we haven’t done since Liam was born.  He has been loving me beautifully while being honest about some ways I have been selfish, and through God’s grace I am seeing other sinful areas of my life that need work.  I am becoming aware of how I look like the world as taught in 1 John 2:15-17.

Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them.  For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world, and the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

How easily and quickly I forgot to look at life in terms of eternity and fell in love with the world instead!  What a shameful example I’m laying out for my children and others who see me, and what a grotesque lack of respect and submission I was showing Bill.  I praise God for revealing this sin to me and pray for His grace to transform my heart in this area and to desire Him and His ways above the things in the world.  I want the love of the Father in me.

By the way, the kids are back now, and we received them with very ready, loving arms!