25 Days of Christmas

For the past seven years I have celebrated Christmas by showering my hubby with sweet notes, little gifts, and set aside time for each other in this crazy month we call December. I have twenty-five envelops, with notes inside. Some have presents that go with them. Others have food. Some have nothing at all. But I LOVE getting this ready to show him extra love during the month of December.

With Hannah here and old enough to understand this year, I have added some things into the mix for her as well. I still have to finish wrapping everything for this month’s fun, but I cannot wait to start our 25 days together on Friday!!!

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More Than a Teacher

Have you ever walked in to a place and felt at home? Somewhere you’ve never been or seen until then and just known that it’s the place your supposed to be? I’ve had it happen a few times in my life and a month ago I had another one of those experiences. I walked into Calhoun Elementary School and immediately felt at home. It was welcoming and almost screamed “You belong here!” The three administrators I met with were inviting and pleasant. I could picture myself working for them and alongside them. I didn’t get the sense that I shouldn’t mention my husband, daughter, or faith. I believe that it was welcomed to mention things about who I am away from school. 

So many times teachers are asked to come to work and be just a teacher. When we are at school we are not a wife, mom, Christian, or republican. We are a teacher and only that. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t work that way. I am always a Christian. It doesn’t matter where I am. I am praying while I teach. I am shining my light for Jesus everywhere I go and I cannot put it away when I walk into work. AND… the only reason people call me Mrs. Ruff is because I am married. I cannot pretend that my husband doesn’t exist for 8 hours a day 190 days a year. I should be able to talk about him while I am at work and not be sorry for it. To top it off, I finally became a mother last year and I will not avoid any conversation about my sweet girl. I am a Christian first, wife and mother next, and teacher last. I have been able to be all of those things and so much more at Cartersville Elementary School for the past 6 years and I felt that I could be the same way when I stepped inside of Calhoun Elementary School last month. It was so nice to know that other schools allow their teachers to be so much more than just a teacher!

Do you want to get some chicken? 

“Do you want to get some chicken or something?” Yea, that is how my sweet husband asked me out the first time. He also spelled my name “Danyell” on my first birthday card and referred to me as “Dan the Whoa-man” for quite sometime. He’s special. My guy is something else. But he is mine and as he reminds me so many times…I chose him above all else. 


We have known each other for nearly 12 years and with time I forget some of the strange things about our relationship. Habits that are so much apart of us that we forget how odd they may seem to other people. Since joining Trinity Baptist Church I have been realizing all over again how unique we are. It’s fun to watch people as Kyle tells true stories that seem insanely impossible (in one summer he was bit by a tiger, a student was bit by a shark at youth camp, and we were in a volcano warning). Or see the reactions to some of Kyle’s quirky sayings (Yea right, get real, no way). It’s brought about a new playfulness that I have missed. 


So much of our relationship is joking and poking fun at one another. As new people realize our strange relationship I hope they also see our immeasurable love for one another. There is no one in this world who I would rather do life with! Kyle is my best friend, biggest fan, and greatest encourager! 

He is taken ladies! Find your own! 😜

So many lessons

We are love abusers. We use the word love for everything. I love your outfit! I love grilled cheese sandwiches. I love my husband. Don’t you just love my daughter? Love is one word in the English language, but it has so many meanings. 

About a month ago when I was studying “love” in the Bible I came across a verse that only said the word love once, but it was assigned two different Greek words to represent that love. “Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,” ‭Titus‬ ‭2:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬ 


This verse led to several impactful lessons for me. 

1. Philandros and philoteknos were both used in this verse. Philandros means fond or man, affectionate (as to a wife), while philoteknos means fond of one’s children. Where we used one word, there were actually two words! Before children I don’t know that I would have thought this was important or even interesting, but now…I get it! Completely! I love Kyle and Hannah in completely different ways. And I’m not quite sure how to put it into words. I love my husband and cannot image life without him. I love him more today than I did yesterday and I hope our love continues to grow as we get older. My love for Hannah was deep from the moment I held her. It didn’t take time to grow. It was a fierce love from minute one. My love has grown, but it was always there for her. It’s just different, and completely fitting that two different words represent this in the Greek.


That’s pretty cool, but I couldn’t stop there. I needed to see what was happening around this verse because it uses a pronoun (they) which I do not know who it refers to. 

“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” Titus‬ ‭2:1-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

2. This passage is directing the believers in Christ on how to live their lives. The older women should be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, or slaves to wine (vs. 3) so that they can teach the younger women how to love their husbands and children (vs. 4). This is to be done in action as well as in spoken teaching. I think about the older women who have given me advice and smile. Many of these women have spoken advice and lived it out. My mom and mother in law of course have done this for me, but so have Sarah (one of my friends who has walked me through becoming a pastor’s wife) and Carla (a sweet friend from church who sets an amazing example for my marriage). These ladies and so many more have told me how to love, but more than that they have showed me. 
3. One thing I always try to be aware of is how the teenagers watch my marriage. Because Kyle and I do ministry together the students see our marriage weekly. They observe how we respond to stress, disagreements, love, humor, and so much more. I want to be a “older woman” (you may never see me type that out again) who sets a good example for the next generation. I want to be someone that a young girl looks to for advice, but I also want to be someone who they watch working with my daughter and husband and say when I’m in that position I want to do it that way too. 
Looking into the love in this verse has taught me so much more than just the Greek word behind our English word. It has taught me about who to seek advice from and to be aware that others may be seeking advice/watching for an example from me. 

Six

Six Easters, Thanksgivings, and Christmases. Six birthdays each. Six Springs, Summers, Autumns, and Winters. Six years of waking up beside you. Six years of kissing you good night. Six years of praying together, laughing together, and holding each other. Happy Anniversary!!!

I love you so much more now than then. I adore the way you look at our daughter. I feel safe when you’re with me. I know you will provide for and protect our family. The butterflies still take off in my tummy when you’re around. The giddiness of a date night still brightens my day. I chose to say yes a long time ago to my best friend becoming my husband. I would do again today if you asked. I love you Kyle!

New Year, New Love

Love is something God has been teaching me about since Hannah arrived. This year my word is going to be Love. Love for my daughter, husband, family, Lord, church. Love! 
I want to focus on how I love people and whether they receive love that way (5 love languages has helped me in the past…just need to refocus). Kyle bought the love language books for kids and teenagers a few weeks ago. I want to apply them to my students and youth at church. I have recognized that some family members receive love in the total opposite way of how I give it…so I need to adjust to better show my love for them. 

I also want to learn so much more about how to love my husband. I have been gifted several books on loving Kyle and strengthening our marriage (I asked for them). I can’t wait to read them. Our love should only grow with each day!

The Bible has so much to say about love, God’s love for us, and how we are to love others and Him. I want to focus my quiet time on love. I want to surround myself with scripture teaching me how to love. 

So here is my disclaimer: my posts this year may get repetitive, seem mushy-gushy, and slightly obsessive with love. You have been warned! BUT I think we can all learn how to love others, ourselves, and God better. So this year I am choosing to LOVE!

Youth Pastor Super Heroes 

Think about to when you were in youth. Who was your youth pastor? I had a few (Mark Chandler and Spencer McCoy) but never realized how much they really did for me. Now, as a wife of a youth pastor, I have a behind the scenes view of all that really happens. Youth pastors are super heroes!


These men who devote themselves to leading teenagers toward God do so much more than plan trips to Six Flags and teach a bible lesson once a week (which I do believe is what 16 year old Kyle Ruff thought they did). They see a hurting student and take them fishing. They see a crisis in a young person’s family and go to the hospital to just be there. They hear a student share the gospel with a child and text the parent to encourage them. They spend a week on local mission, basically without sleep,  and then leave with the youth group on another mission trip across the country. They listen to girls cry and some lucky pastors have wives to send them to (others learn to handle girl tears). They guide boys on how to handle being turned down by the girl they like. They make crazy videos to get the group pumped for events and lessons. They love on smelly teens after long days of work, fun, or …some teens just smell. They wrangle up volunteers for summer camp. They pray for teens by name daily. They lift up other youth pastors and bear each other’s burdens. They share there hearts with their church families. They write curriculum for events which they may not even be attending. They share Jesus as much as they can work it in (which is more often than you would think). They go to sporting events, concerts, graduations, birthday parties, and other life events for students. They… I could keep going, but I think you get it. 

Youth pastors give so much of themselves and ask so little in return. My husband is just part time, but his time is not his own. It is our students’. I love how he sees a need and instantly wants to take care of it. It doesn’t matter that technically he doesn’t work today…super heroes don’t have set working hours, and neither do youth pastors. 

Today, take the time to encourage your youth pastor, or your student’s youth pastor. 

Wisdom Teeth and His Wisdom

For years Kyle has lived with his wisdom teeth, but lately they have become bothersome. He claims that he isn’t in pain, but two of them are impacted and one even has a big hole in it. Today, right now, he is having them removed. We were hopeful that our health insurance would cover the cost, but they aren’t fully impacted (go figure) but God has been good to us and we had the money to cover this expense. 


To be honest, Kyle would have loved to ignore them longer, but I don’t want to be taking care of him and a baby when they really need to come out in who knows how many months. So yes, today is partially because of my selfishness. 

The most amazing thing happened yesterday even though. We were in between our doctors appointment for Hannah and the hospital tour when our pastor called us. He informed us that someone in the congregation gave a gift to help cover the cost of the surgery. What? Are you kidding? Is this for real? My brain still cannot wrap around how much our church loves us and how God provides for our every need. God provided a lamb for Abraham (Genesis 22), manna for the Isrealites (Exodus 16), and each day He provides me with so much more than I could ever imagine. 


So this morning I will praise you Lord! You provided us with the means to take care of ourselves, but then showered us with a gift that relieved so much burden! Lord, You are impossible to understand, but I know you love me. Thank you for your never failing love and always enduring grace and mercy! 

Scary Moment

It was almost 10 pm, so I headed home. I left Kyle and two other adults with the teenagers from our church for their night long youth event. When I made it home, I fed the dogs, watered my plants, and locked up the house. I was asleep before 11 and apparently sleeping hard. 

Sometime after midnight, I was awoken by Kyle, in the house, with lights on and everything. I didn’t hear him drive up, the dogs bark, Kyle call out to me through the windows, unlock the door, turn on the lights, fiddle around in the house…I heard nothing. 

When I woke up this morning the reality of my hard sleeping hit me. I was home alone and was completely unaware of anyone coming into my home. It scared me. What if I don’t hear Hannah crying? Or someone who isn’t Kyle break into my home? What if I sleep so hard that I don’t hear the smoke detector go off? Luckily for me, Kyle and I don’t spend many nights apart from one another, but what if…?

Tuesday Night Date Night

A few years ago, as Kyle was adjusting to working for a church, we sat down as a couple to talk about our new phase in life. I was frustrated with not having a husband who would safe guard a night for us and needed to be heard. Since that night we have kept Tuesday nights as a night for us. We rarely go out on an actual date, but we do have our time together no matter what. 


Marriage is tough. And the stresses of life can put a strain on anything, but especially on relationships. Our marriage is very important to both of us and we have spared ourselves many stressful, tearful nights just by saving Tuesday nights for each other. 

Some things we do that don’t cost much:

  • Cook together
  • Watch a movie on a pallet of blankets in the living room (Redbox or something we own)
  • Go fishing at the neighbor’s pond
  • Go kayaking down the river (we own our kayak)
  • Read a book / bible together
  • Lay in our hammocks on the back porch and talk
  • Take our dogs for a walk / hike
  • Drive around with the windows down and sunroof open
  • Play a video game together (we like Peggle, Fortune Street, and Just Dance-well, I like just dance)

Dates don’t have to cost money or be fancy. They can be simple. 

I love Tuesday nights!


Yesterday we had a Tuesday day date…lunch at Cody J’s, baby appointment, shopping at REI, And That!, Motherhood Maternity, and Academy (mostly window shopping), frozen treat from Chicfila, and a car wash and vacuum (so we can install a baby seat!). Then we came home and cooked dinner together. The night ended with Kyle catching a few fish while I read a book on the dock. Nothing special, but an entire day together refills my love tank (I’m a quality time girl)!!!

How do you stay close to your spouse? Do you have a night set aside for each other? How do you do something similar with kids (my life is about to change)?