Tag Archive for valentine’s day

Does this generation know what love is?

I read an article the other day that made me wonder if our current generation understands love at all.

It was entitled “Survey: Sleeping together before a first date is a-okay, but cracked phones are a put off.”. My heart hurt after reading it, and though I know these types of surveys aren’t completely accurate, I couldn’t help but feel concern for a generation who is looking for love and connection so desperately that the cultural norm is sleeping together on the third date.*

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The world interprets many lesser things as “love”–

  • cheap clicks on social media
  • attention gained through sexting and skin-baring
  • gaining a “following” by revealing your most private self for men to gawk at on Instagram or Snapchat
  • “being together” even when abuse is present because anything is better than being alone
  • indiscriminate s*x outside of marriage

The hurt and regret that follows such a misguided pursuit of “love” makes me wonder where our kids have learned this. Can we blame them entirely? Kids learn from examples, and we have to ask, where were we in this teaching process, and do we know what true love is? Have we demonstrated self-less love in our marriages and to our kids?

If we haven’t, the world has certainly been busy indoctrinating them to reject God as Creator (ultimately dismissing Him from any say in their life, erasing accountability) and to embrace self-love as the “ultimate good”, doing what feels right in the moment, an act which in itself makes loving others impossible.

Which leads us to confess that apart from God, we don’t know what true love looks like. Without His example of extreme sacrifice, we’d believe that the greatest love is the one that gets me what I want, feeds my ego, lets me use and dominate others, and always caters to my needs.

God shows us a better way. True love serves and sacrifices, as seen on the cross.

Love actually does the hard thing. When you want to fall in love, know this, love costs and invites inconvenience.

And we have to ingrain this in our kids and live it out before them. Sometimes love is not a feeling. Sometimes it costs us something. Sometimes we lose so others gain. Sometimes love is self-denial instead of indulgence.

Peter and I have been married for 25 years, and though I’ve married one of the finest men alive, it’s not the flowers, notes, dinners, or get-a-ways that show me how much Peter loves me.

It’s his love displayed in the daily self-denial moments.

  • It’s holding his tongue when he feels like telling me off.
  • It’s getting up for work every day for 25 years to provide for us.
  • It’s standing by me in my worst moments, through 5 pregnancies, the “unattractive days” of morning sickness, the bed rest, the encouragement through postpartum depression, the getting up early on Saturdays so I can catch some extra rest while he walked the floor with cranky babies.
  • It’s the speaking truth to me when it’s not popular.
  • It’s giving me opportunities to do things I love when he could have used the time or money on himself.

Love looks a lot like sacrifice that doesn’t wait around for reciprocation.

You and I can relate to this kind of love in motherhood. What mother doesn’t want the best for her kids? We do hard things because it’s best for our kids. When we are exhausted, we still get it done for our kids. When they’re praised, we don’t pout and wish we were the one praised. (Love does not envy.) When they are excited about an opportunity, we rejoice–we don’t brag about our own opportunities. (Love does not boast. Love is not proud.) It’s not about us, it’s about them, and we’re happy to have it that way.

(Side note: when you struggle with that problem person in your life, compare your love toward them to your “mother-love.” Ask, would I be excited if my child was honored or given an opportunity? Yes, because, mother-love. Then how does my love for this person compare? Why is it lacking? Would I be glad if my own child received good gifts that I never had? Yes. Then why do I feel the need to downplay or stew over their happy moments? Usually, you’ll find that love is lacking, friends.)

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this week, let’s remember that we only know what true love looks like in purity when we see Christ. We can’t define love our own way. God has modeled and defined it:

Love is patient and kind. It doesn’t ever envy or boast because it’s always happy for the other person. It isn’t proud because it mainly serves. True love doesn’t keep track of wrong doing. Doesn’t tally up your mistakes as ammunition later. Love overlooks and extends grace. Love protects and cherishes. It always expects good and hopes with eyes that sees all the possibilities for a person.

Don’t settle for lesser loves. Don’t embrace a love-fraud that promised happiness and leaves you hurt. Let your love be regulated by scriptural bounds and tested for truth and purity by Biblical standards.

As Christians, we’ve known the Giver of the greatest love, and as we know and enjoy Christ more every day, and find our satisfaction in Him, that knowledge will revolutionize the way we love others in return.

Want to love your spouse better? Plan to sacrifice more. Want to love your neighbor as your self? Serve him in ways you’d appreciate being served. Want to love that church member as Christ commands? Plan to deny your flesh, and expect inconvenience as ministry (aka–service).

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  ~John 15:12

 

*Side note: no matter how conservatively or conscientiously you’ve trained your kids, they are more like the current culture than you’d ever believe. For reference, read Generation Me and Already Gone and Revolutionary Parenting, all very helpful books for understanding how the “rudiments of the world” stick to your kids and shape their thinking.

**This post contains affiliate links, at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog when you use these links.

We don’t need Valentine’s Day to show us how needy/clingy we are.

We don’t need Valentine’s Day to show us how needy and clingy we can be. All we need is a day when we feel lonely, overlooked, pushed aside, or under appreciated, and the inner rumblings of our hearts and mind reveal that we’re looking for love in all the wrong places.

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We look to people to fill the heart needs that can only EVER be met in a relationship with God.

But we ask people to be things they can never be to us and make these impossible demands on flawed, human people.

Did you ever expect your husband to do more than he did and feel disappointed and unloved when he didn’t?

Or a friend? Ever expect a friend to always be there for you? Always support you, say the right things, do the right things, remember special days, keep up with you?

We ask people to meet needs that only God can ever meet, and we are frustrated when they don’t deliver.

Whenever we are in despair over a failed relationship, or find ourselves feeling hopeless when people don’t love us the way they should, we’ve allowed these things to morph our small g-gods.

“Whatever you cling to or confide in, that is really your god.” Martin Luther

To whom do you cling to? When things get tough, do you head for the phone? A gallon of ice cream? Sleep? Hours of TV? Shopping?

What are you banking on for happiness? Respect, kindness, great relationships? A fulfilling career? A doting husband?

Where do you place your hope? What elates you? Excites you? Makes you want to spring out of bed in the morning when you have it?

These needs are supposed to be found in Christ. In Him we have all the things we ever looked for in a friend or husband:

  • a best friend,
  • someone to listen to us,
  • someone to be there for us,
  • someone to love us unconditionally,
  • someone to be faithful to us.

Knowing this lets our friends, husband, family, and expectations off of our happiness-hook. It allows them to be human. It allows us to accept their limits. And it helps us to see the Awesomeness of Christ.

Valentine’s Day is simply a catalyst that exposes that in our heart of hearts, we need Jesus.

But we aren’t quick learners, are we? We tend to straddle the fence between God and other “lovers”: career, perfect children, romance, a Pinterest home, a perfect body, experiences, food, drink, fun, best friends, fulfilling work, respect.  When they fail us and leave us disappointed and disillusioned, we move back towards the God-side of the fence.

Straddling is no way to live. God wants your heart. All of it. And He is jealous for it. He wants you and I to love Him first and best and most. 

Let’s stop with the spiritual adultery and idolatry. Let’s call out and dethrone any idols that challenge the Lordship of Christ in our life.

Still not sure where your idols are lurking? Here’s the surefire way to know: How do you react when it’s taken from you or withheld? What gets an unrighteous rise out of you?

  • When your husband is unloving and you believe you deserve love, do you go all.the.crazy? A loving husband, though a good gift from God, has morphed into an idol for you. Something you believe you can’t live without.
  • When your “supposed” friend says hurtful things, do you find yourself self devastated or holding a grudge? Trying to hurt them in return? An understanding friend has become your idol. God calls us to love anyway, and when He is our God, we’ll do this whether they deserve it or not.
  • When your co-worker gets recognition you desired, do you sulk and envy? Respect and self-love are your idols.
  • When a friend gets an opportunity or an honor you wished you had been given, do you resent her and belittle it? Honor is an idol for you. God calls you to rejoice with those who rejoice and to refrain from envy, and if He is your God, you’ll happily obey.
  • When God answers someone’s prayers for good, can you rejoice with them when you’ve been praying for the same thing and God seems to be withholding it from you? That
    “prayer request” has become a demand and an idol.

 

Let’s let God be God and fill our hearts with the abundant love He’s offered. Let’s let our husband (and friends and positions) be put into proper perspective. They are blessings from God that we can enjoy. They are wonderful gifts but not rights. We are free to love them because we don’t expect them to bring happiness that only God provides. We can thank God when we have them, and praise Him– that He’s our all in all– when we don’t.

What about you? Is your happiness dependent on people or circumstances? Have you determined to seek God first to put Him in proper perspective?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or on FB. 

What My Daughters Need to Know This Valentines Day

Ask your daughter this question: “Who are you? Describe you.”

I work with teen girls and I’ve asked this very question. They nervously and giggly begin telling me what they excel at and enjoy.

I’m so and so’s girl friend. I play the piano. I draw and paint. I write stories. I am a dreamer, runner, friend, singer, student, soccer player, Spanish speaker, etc.  

They describe attainments and roles.

What answers pop into your mind when you think about who you are? I find that we self-define in similar ways: I am a wife, mother, teacher, grandmother, speaker, artist, author, secretary, ministry wife. I homeschool, knit, grow organic food, vaccinate, don’t vaccinate, etc.

Although we play many roles in life, but this is not who we are. We are first and foremost a PERSON in a personal relationship with Christ.

Why does knowing this matter?

Because it’s a fundamental. Knowing who I am in Christ keeps me grounded and secure in His love and Word no matter what happens to me in life.

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Ephesians is one of my favorite go-to Scriptures for spiritual identity. It tells us that in Christ we are

  • blessed (1:3)
  • chosen (1:3)
  • adopted into God’s family as a son/heir (1:5)
  • redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1:7)
  • forgiven of all my sin (1:7)
  • lavishly given God’s grace (1:8)
  • sealed and secure through the Holy Spirit (1:13, 14)

I am who God says I am in scripture. I am not the sum total of my roles.

  • My husband is a blessing, but if he leaves, I am not diminished or loved any less by God.
  • When my children leave home my job may change, but my purpose in life is the same: to live to the praise and glory of God no matter what I am doing.
  • If we lose our house, or friends, or ministry, we will not be shaken because our standing in Christ can never be taken away.

I fear that we confuse roles for true identity and look for significance in what we do and how others relate to us in our roles.

Girls, you are a person first and your God wants a personal relationship with you.

You may never have a husband. Or maybe you will and he will walk away. At your core, you are still a person living in the presence of God. He wants a personal relationship with you first, before all of your other relationships. He wants your satisfaction to come from Him alone, not in your roles, your abilities, or your achievements. Keeping Christ central is essential to fulfilling your other roles in a godly manner.

We live in a world that is no friend to my daughters. It screams and promotes worldliness which is contrary to Scripture. The world peddles its goods to my girls, promising them satisfaction in everything and anything apart from God.

You have to flaunt it to be noticed. You’ll never be anything if you don’t look like this. Follow your heart, forget the rest. To be popular, you need to _____, and the more popular you are the better. “Likes” matter. You need to be extraordinary. The pretty girls are the thin ones. You need Botox. You need this brand to be popular. You need, you need, you need.

At its root, of course, the world promotes worldliness. It’s usually a self-centered, grasping, covetousness message meant to make you unhappy with what you don’t have and ready to do what it takes to get it. Covetousness is the very essence of worldliness. (James 4:4)

James 4 tells us that we crave, and strive, and war because our worldly passions are driving us to seek satisfaction in all the wrong places. “You desire and do not have, so you…war.” (James 4:4)

War is one response. When we sin to get what we want, we know we are acting on covetous desires. What lengths will you go to get what you believe will satisfy you?

James also tells us that our satisfaction is elusive. “You covet and cannot obtain so you fight and quarrel.” (4:2)

And mercifully, God is not willing to give you your covetous desires. “You ask and do not receive,  because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions.” James 4:3 (envy, covetous motives.)

Why? Because God is jealous for your heart and wants to dwell in it exclusively. “Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us.” James 4:5,

It all comes back to you and God. God wants your wholehearted devotion. He doesn’t want you to do great things for Him or be great things for Him. He wants you to love Him.

That’s what I want my girls to know this Valentine’s Day, because all of life and love starts there. If Jesus Christ doesn’t satisfy you, nothing ever will. When you are satisfied in Christ, your circumstances almost don’t matter.

 

Last Minute Valentine’s Day Ideas {for those with little time, money or energy.}

Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day, girls. Yup. And if you are in need of some last minute, frugal ideas, I have a few for you.

1. No money to go out? Hype the kids up for a special early dinner (pizza?) in front of a short movie (ahem–so you can prepare), then put them to bed early so you and your husband can have some alone time. Then eat in.

  • If you can’t afford a sitter, but can afford a meal, set up a pretty table and order your favorite meal from a local restaurant. (call ahead about take out wait times on Valentine’s Day.)
  • If you can’t afford a meal or sitter, make something your husband loves. Mine loves French Onion soup with cheese and anything roast beef or steak.
  • If you are on a tiny budget, make a really special dessert and coffee. Some ideas:
  1. Chocolate Covered Strawberries are quick and simple. Micro 1 cup of chocolate chips with 1T butter for 45 seconds. Stir. Continue heating and checking every 20 seconds until smooth. Dip clean, washed and patted dry strawberries. Yum! You can also dip pretzels, oranges, etc…
  2. Martha Stewart’s Molten Chocolate Cake is to die for.

2. Set the Stage: Light an entire package of tea lights ($1/dozen at the Dollar Tree) while you eat. Stick them in anything glass and group them together for an airy, romantic atmosphere.

One year, I brought patio furniture into our bedroom and set a table in there. On the window, I filled whatever I could find with a tea light candle. It was lovely.

3. Gift? All you need is a card. Can you lean in so I can whisper some advice an older woman gave me once? She said “Honey, guys don’t care about gifts. Just buy him a card, and inside of it tuck a new pair of the tiniest lace undies you can find.” Total winner of an idea. I promise.

What are your last minute Valentine’s Ideas? Share in the comments.