The Everyday

When a trip to Target changed me

June 8, 2015

Following my recent chronicles of our trip to Florida, there was one highlight I left out because I felt like it needed a post of its own.

While we were there, we did get to take a couple hours and venture off by ourselves. We knew that a date was in order while we were in the company of family who would very willingly take care of Selah so we could have some time together. With all honesty, our date bank account (if you will) is in the negative, and I’m not sure how many dates we need to catch up on before we will feel normal again. Moving 12 hours away from your support system will do that to ya, and before you know it, you will find yourself redefining the term “date night” to include a really cute three year old, and a lot of child-like activities and conversation.

This would be one of those areas that I grieve the most about our move. I have hope that it won’t always be this way, and I know there are “hire a babysitter” solutions, but we just haven’t nailed one down yet. Most friends we’ve made here are in similar situations, so I feel like everyone is in “claim your sitter” mode. And it’s no cliche, and only the truth, that time alone for couples is super important, especially when there are children involved.

So since we moved to NC, we’ve gone on two dates. Two. Very. Quick. Dinner. Dates. And as MUCH as we love our kid, both times, I can recall extreme sadness inside that the dinner had to end. Grateful? Absolutely. But when 100% of your awake time involves a little girl who shoves herself in the middle, and needs the constant attention and affection of her mom and dad, you just find yourself clinging to the moments alone even more.

Then there’s the guilt. No kidding. I was having this conversation face to face with someone here (an experienced “dater” in marriage), and she literally told me that we just aren’t making the most of date night. We don’t have enough excitement. Apparently you have to make a golden plan that involves THE most fabulous dining experiences, level 10 spontaneity, wild concerts, and live-like-you-are-dying moments to really make the most of your hours together. Otherwise, yes. You will buckle your seat belt, and make the trek to pick up the kid feeling like you shoulda spent your time more wisely than a chain restaurant, over a too-salty filet of salmon and a mediocre glass of wine.

And you know? I get the point. I know there’s some truth there. And I mean some in a very small amount. Because let’s not discount togetherness. We all need excitement in our lives. And spontaneity is awesome. Bucket lists are great motivation. But my feeling sad over the date ending had nothing to do with the salty salmon and mediocre wine. It had to do with the moment being over with the incredible guy I get to sit across from. He is why I don’t want it to end. No matter the level of excitement swirling around us. Regardless of how wild and spontaneous we feel. Whether we’re hiking through some tropical rainforest, or just the forest at Crabtree Lake. Whether it’s Justin Timberlake serenading us, or that one lady and her jazz guitar guy at the restaurant… It’s the time together that matters most.

So we found ourselves kid-free on a Sunday in Florida. We knew the town. Our favorite spots. So we took off for some good coffee. We drove downtown, it was hopping with people, a baseball game, an arts festival… and not one single coffee shop was open. Not one. So we kept driving, down the scenic route to our backup options, and closed. We weren’t hungry, so we ruled out restaurants. Storms were looming, so no beach. And we had just wasted an hour driving and looking for coffee. Without venturing even further away to areas of town that didn’t offer any more options for a good cup of joe, we decided to turn back and head closer to the house. And no joke, we landed ourselves at a tiny little table at a Starbucks in a Target shopping center.

Target date1

This is ridiculous. I’m sure we both laughed as we exchanged similar thoughts there while we watched the entering and exiting of Blue Angel Parkway shoppers. Maybe at first glance it seemed silly to us. But something happened there that left an imprint on my heart forever.

It was some of the best conversation I know I’ve ever had. And while he talked, I swooned. I mean, I don’t know. Maybe this is where you stop reading. Maybe this is where you stop caring. Maybe the mush is too much for you. I don’t care.

This guy is probably one of the best anyone will have the pleasure of knowing. If you’re his friend, then you know what I’m saying. And if you’re not his friend, I hope you have one like him in your life. He’s the kind of person who just keeps the calm. He’s easy to talk to. And while he may be on the more quiet side, his words have impact. His questions are thought-provoking, and his spirit is so gentle and humble. I feel like he thinks about everything. He’s pondered it all. So if something needs answering, Jeremy would know how to answer. He’s level headed, and emotionally sound. He knows who he is, and he owns it. And you know those dads that you see out and about with their kids, who look like they just love the moment they’re in with their kid? That’s him. Whether he just takes her to the store with him, or she’s out in the garage with him mimicking his every weightlifting move, he is constantly engaged and teaching her, and winning her heart all along. He’s sensitive in the best ways, and for the right things. Watching him get teary-eyed at the mention of something dear to him – God help me. He’s the right amount of confidence. The perfect amount of wit and personality. And being a part of his life will make you feel more intelligent. He’s trustworthy. Committed. Hardworking. I’ve watched friends come and go in his life, and it never makes sense to me when they go. When they stop following or calling or pursuing. He’s so worth it. And after spending half my life with him, I know the blessing of having him as a friend.


This date changed me. It changed my ideas and heart for dating my husband. This little trip to a Target Starbucks proved that the substance of the date is what makes the date. It’s definitely not the place, money spent, or social media ratings. It’s in losing sight of your surroundings and getting lost in conversation. Getting lost with each other, losing track of time, forgetting responsibility for a minute, dreaming, and growing in love. And it’s in a ridiculous date like this one that I realize that if we can bond on such a level doing nothing, then we can bond on such a level doing anything. One day, the kid will be grown, and we’ll have all the time and resources in the world to live at a level 10 spontaneity together. And for now – and always – we enjoy what we have together. We enjoy each other. We give thanks for each other. Celebrate each other.

We left Target and went back to Selah better parents. And then we came back home to NC and put on a movie for the kid, and escaped to the back porch with a Belgian Ale and each others company. And we’ll do that over and over for as long as we have. And we’ll still look to secure a sitter so we can change up the scenery a little… But the surest thing is:

Dates may not always include something or another… But they will always include him. And I am game.

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  • Reply Catherine Andrews June 8, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Just beautiful Jess. You are an amazing writer with such a talent to express the beauty in the everyday and extraordinary joys in life. Continually happy for the wonderful family God has blessed you with!

    • Reply jess June 9, 2015 at 2:10 am

      Thanks, Caty! I am blessed! Miss seeing you!

  • Reply Janie Woodburn June 9, 2015 at 12:02 am

    Jess, you have missed your calling as a writer, sweetie. This had me hanging on ever word and brought tears to my eyes. You have what only comes along once in a life time. So many young people could learn so much from you. You are a smart, lovely young lady, mom, wife and mother. Be proud of yourself also, you found a winner and so did he. This is what happens when you ‘both’ follow God’s will. Miss you being here. Janie

    • Reply jess June 9, 2015 at 2:09 am

      You give the best encouragement, Mrs. Janie. Thanks for your belief in me! That book you often speak of might not be far off! Love and miss you!

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