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On the line. Everybody on the line, I yell to my gathered throng of three- and four-year-olds.
Very few are listening.
One girl is picking clovers out of the grass. One of the boys is preoccupied scaling the goal. Two girls in the corner hold hands and twirl about, oblivious to the screaming parents, loud whistle and frustrated coach.
I should know. I’m the coach. One of the girls twirling away? That’s my daughter.
Welcome to a typical practice at my U4 YMCA soccer team. We do a lot of running and talking, but sometimes, it seems, we do very little soccer.
I spend more time lecturing about not using hands, not tackling our teammates and not picking grass while the ball is in play than I do actually teaching the game of soccer. Not that I can contribute a whole lot anyway. You see, I really don’t know much about the game.
Why would someone who knows nothing about soccer coach it? Two words: my daughter.
As a youth pastor, I’m gone from home quite a lot. By the time you add up youth camp, mission trips, winter trips, overnighters and long-weekend events, I figure at least one month of my year is spent away from my family and hanging with teens. That doesn’t include nights at football games, dance recitals or school plays. It also doesn’t include late night phone calls or hospital visits.
To put it frankly, I know my daughter misses some quality time with her dad. So what can I do to ensure we spend some time together? I volunteer to coach her soccer team. To be honest, at the U4 level (which means under four years old), it’s really just organized chaos.
I do the organizing. They provide the chaos.
The kids get to run around the field. They get to dress in a uniform and make friends on the team. At the end of each game, everybody has a fun time and they get snacks and juice.
I get so much more. As a dad, I want to spend as much time with my daughter as I can. These are formative years in her development. What better way than serving as her coach?
It’s a natural fit. It requires just a few extra hours a week, and for that, I get to be on the field while my daughter goes for the goal. I get to high-five her and her friends for a job well done. I get to be present with her as she’s learning to be independent, make friends and become part of a team.
You can’t replace that.
So here’s my advice. If you can, volunteer to coach or help in your child’s sports team, band or dance troupe. You’ll get quality time with your child that won’t cost you much money and just a little extra time.
We spend so much time doing other things that a few extra hours on the field or riding the bus is going to be far more valuable than the fun stuff you could fill it with.
Wayne Yeager is a youth pastor, a husband, a dad, a student at Liberty Seminary (currently seeking an MA in Pastoral Counseling) and a sci-fi geek.
This weekend I’m celebrating 42 years on this earth by camping with some friends.
Birthdays are time to reflect and celebrate life and work and family and love.
In honor of this occasion, I’ve updated an old post to share some things about me that perhaps you didn’t know.
1. My children are my heroes. I want to live with abandon and have an imagination like they do.
2. I was born in Texas, and have lived in Texas for most of my life – but don’t consider myself a Texan … even though it’s a cool state. Go figure.
3. I don’t really have a favorite sports team but I love sports.
4. In high school I used to wonder what it would look like to dip my finger in liquid nitrogen and shatter it on the table while in science class. Is that weird?
5. Turning 39 sucked, even though I thought I would be cool with it. My 40s thus far have been great.
6. One of my favorite movies is Under Siege. I’ve seen it far too many times. I hate to admit it, but I like Stephen Seagal in that movie.
7. I’d love to learn another language.
8. I’d also love to spend some extended time in Italy.
9. My sarcasm and humor gets me in trouble sometimes. Especially when I write up something I think is funny and post it on SM.
10. I’m jealous of musicians and artists. Especially the ones who can sit at the piano and play anything just by hearing it.
11. I have only a hand-full of really close friends. I do have a lot of people I consider friends though.
12. I’ve played basketball with the same group of guys for 16 years now.
13. My wife and I met when we were 13 and 15 (in the church youth group). We “dated” for 10 months before I broke up with her for no reason at all. I told her I didn’t want to date anyone for a while, then began dating another girl in the youth group a week later … not my finest hour, I know.
14. I watched Survivor for 4 years without missing an episode (thanks to them being online). I even sucked my wife into the vortex for a while.
15. From the first time my kids sat up on their own I’ve had an urge to tackle them.
16. Counting this past election, I’ve only voted 5 times in my life. Pretty lame.
17. I truly love that SM readers trust me enough to email me or comment about their struggles or share their life. One of my greatest joys is being able to offer some sort of help or insight that improves the quality of relationships for others.
18. I paid a bartender to write a paper for me in High School – once again, brilliant, I know. I scored a 50 out of 100 on it. Serves me right.
19. Being a waiter while in High School and College was one of my favorite jobs.
20. Most of the time, “organized church” drives me crazy. Too much time spent trying to play nice and not upset anyone rather than serving and helping people.
21. If I could eat burgers and fries every day – I would. I love a good, greasy burger.
22. I love to snow ski. Learned to ski when I was 6.
23. After I earned my Ph.D. I felt weird any time someone called me doctor.
24. In elementary school, I popped my friend’s tires on his new bike because he wouldn’t let me ride it. Once caught, I blamed it on a different friend. We both got in trouble – he actually had nothing to do with it yet was grounded longer than me. I sucked as a friend then; and still feel bad about that at times.
25. I didn’t like reading until 11 years ago. I hated it actually and couldn’t read more than a couple of pages before falling asleep. Now I read a couple of books a month.
26. I got a “B” in my last class in the doctorate program. It was the only one I got, and it was an independent study class.
27. I’m grateful every day for the love of a good woman.
28. I can’t stand bananas. I think this is because my mom made too many banana and peanut butter concoctions when I was a child.
29. I have a tattoo. I wished my wife would have got one as well, although I don’t know why I wanted her to.
30. My daughter is just like me. I love this and it scares me.
31. I love building legos with my son. But it’s hard to keep up with his imagination.
32. Gina and I almost canceled Sexy Marriage Radio less than a year in to the show. So glad that didn’t happen.
33. I’ve been going to the same Panera almost every morning for 6 years. So long in fact, that I even bring in my own coffee some times.
34. I have a great date night planned for my wife to celebrate our 20th anniversary at the end of May.
35. I’d love to travel the country in a RV and meet Simple Marriage readers. I’ll even buy the coffee.
The classic scene from every jewelry store commercial or romantic comedy has the suitor dropping to one knee to present a shiny engagement ring to his gleaming girlfriend.
She puts her hands to her mouth and gasps with excitement – and surprise!
The more I hear engagement stories nowadays the more I wonder whether she was really all that shocked.
Chances are she may have picked out that shiny diamond ring herself and maybe even helped to plan the romantic night out where the question was popped. I’ve even had friends whose girlfriend basically dictated every detail of their engagement.
And given that nearly half of couples now live together before marriage, could she really be all that surprised when the night arrives for the proposal? After all, she may have helped pay for the ring herself.
Yet, the hopeless romantic in me has to believe that there are still couples out there doing it right!
Our Engagement Story
I don’t think I’ve ever shared the story of how I proposed to Bethany, so I’ll give the quick version here.
Keep in mind that we were high school sweethearts (gag if you must), and we’d been together for around 4 years at the time. I believe I was 20, and she had just turned 19 so we were pretty young…and broke.
While Bethany certainly had some idea this next step in our relationship was coming, I did my best to keep it romantic and tried to surprise her.
We had visited ring stores a few times where she slyly (or not so slyly) hinted about the types of engagement rings she liked…a classic solitaire with a gold band…the bigger the better.
I bought the ring without her finding out, and I actually took out my one and only student loan to help pay for it. I do not recommend doing the same, but I was desperate to get this ring!
Before the night came, I very nervously called up her Dad to ask his permission not just for his daughter’s hand in marriage (the easy part) but if I could take her somewhere overnight (NOT easy to ask) – I unwisely chose a time when she was back home on a college break.
I lucked out and got to talk to her Mom instead, which was a bit easier. The stage was set.
I sent her a letter beforehand using fancy language to explain what she should wear and that she should pack a bag. I picked her up from her parents’ house and headed to downtown St. Louis for dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town – Tony’s.
At the time, I hadn’t spent much time in the city, and I couldn’t find the restaurant! We drove all around and finally found it, nearly losing our reservation after showing up 20 minutes late.
We enjoyed an extremely nice and super expensive meal that took much longer than I had anticipated. I was nervous the entire meal and felt completely out of place with the tuxedo-wearing waiters that swooped in to clear every crumb and tried to help you sit down when you returned from the bathroom. I was just a simple country boy.
The next part of the night was supposed to happen outside in a quaint river town called Elsah, Illinois where Bethany had mentioned she’d love to visit sometime for a romantic getaway when we were older. I had reserved a room at a nice little bed and breakfast on the riverfront.
I had plans to take her to a park in town to pop the question, but with my poor planning it turned out to be pitch black dark outside when we arrived. We walked to the park, but we actually found it eery since everyone in the town was already asleep!
I abandoned those plans and nervously returned to our room at the B&B. I decided just to go for it, so I gave Bethany a card that shared my feelings, and at the end it asked her to turn around to make me the happiest man alive.
You guessed it, I was there on one knee with that sparkly ring. Fortunately, she said yes and we’ve pretty much lived happily ever after.
What’s YOUR Engagement Story?
I’d love to hear your engagement story in the comments below. Was it a planned event or did he surprise you? Did she do the proposing? What went right or wrong in the process?
Share your story in the comments!
After dating for some time, you decide it’s time to pop the big question: “Will you marry me”?
Tying the knot is wonderful, but the pre-wedding preparation process can be painful, especially when it comes to planning the budget.
You can choose to have a low-budget wedding – some couples are even getting married inside McDonald’s fast food restaurants for just £250 in Europe these days.
Yes, this includes your ceremony, reception, wedding cake and catering for about 100 guests, according to the Daily Mail. However, there is no special treatment such as jumping the queue to collect your Big Mac burger and fries because McDonald’s will operate as usual. Moreover, alcohol is banned inside the family-friendly restaurant chain.
Most couples don’t have to resort to a fast food outlet and you can still have the perfect wedding with wine, gold rings, exotic food and a magical honeymoon without breaking the bank. Here are some tips for saving and planning so that you ensure you have a magical day whilst also keeping your HSBC current account in check.
The Big Day
Determine your approximate budget beforehand. Work out what you intend to spend on the venue, tuxedos for the bridegroom and yourself, dresses for your bride and bridesmaids, wedding rings, honeymoon and so on. Then think about how you can meet the expenses.
If you are someone who wants to plan ahead before your big day, map out a timeline to help you stay on target. Wedding planners told the Washington Post that planning should start immediately after the engagement.
If you do so and your wedding is several months (or years) out, you can work extra and cut out other expenses to save a large amount of money. Ensure that you maximize the interest by putting the money in a fixed deposit or a tax free ISA.
It is more likely that you stay debt-free if you are organized. Develop a budget and make a plan – be proactive!
Don’t panic if you are leaving it until the last-minute, as there are a few alternative ways to finance your wedding. You can take a wedding loan from either of your families, relatives or friends.
Alternatively, you can use your credit card to pay for part of your wedding expenses and repay the balance and interest over time. Just be sure to think about how much you will realistically be able to pay back over time without causing a lot of marital distress about money in your first few years as Mr. and Mrs.!
Affordable Honeymoon Destinations (European Edition)
After several months of stress leading up to the wedding, you definitely need to relax and spend some romantic time with your new husband or wife. However, this is another area to plan carefully so you don’t break the bank.
If you’re looking for clear blue waters and soft white beaches, the Indian Ocean is a perfect destination for pampering yourself and your other half. The island of Mauritius is rich in architecture and food; you can enjoy fine dining and beautiful beaches, watch the sunset and ride a horse on the beach.
For those who want to hide away from the world, the Maldives is a beautiful location to swim in the clear lagoons or play water sports.
Alternatively, Oman’s spectacular mountain scenery, deserts plus beach hotels, offer a calm and relaxing atmosphere where you can enjoy spa treatments and snorkeling along the coast. There are additionally a variety of water sports for those who are active.
If you are really struggling to finance your honeymoon, why not think about cheaper all-inclusive or package holidays somewhere closer to home, or ask your wedding guests for money towards your once-in-a-lifetime trip instead of gifts?
How do you manage your honeymoon expenses while you are away? If you have a current account with a bank and if you’re eligible, you will be issued with a visa debit card that provides instant access to your money while you’re overseas. You can use your card to pay for the hotel and food in the restaurant. You can also withdraw cash from cash machines worldwide, and linking the card to a special “honeymoon only” account will ensure you stay on track with your spending.
Of course, you probably won’t experience smooth sailing the entire way. You need to adjust your wedding budget and make allowances to account for unforeseeable expenses.
Most importantly, ensure that you don’t overspend on one day so that you have some savings left over for starting to build your new life together.
Jay Marcelo is a freelance writer who loves spending time with his new wife while traveling Europe (for cheap when possible).