The Full Extent of Love by Kenika

February is pretty epic because it’s the month of my birth, but apparently there is another holiday as well called Valentine’s Day.  This year is special because it will be my and my husband’s first Valentine’s Day as a married couple.  After almost 9 months of marriage, I’ve had a good amount of time, plenty more to go of course, to understand some of the peaks and valleys of love.  I’m pretty sure I thought I knew enough about what it would take in order to make the plunge into marriage, and I am now fully confident I didn’t know the first thing about real love.  Okay maybe I knew the first thing, but not the hundreds of others!  

When I think about what my truest understanding of love is, my mind immediately goes to John 3:16, one of the most popular, familiar, and commonly quoted verses of scripture.  It makes perfect sense that it would be, because it is a description of the Gospel in a very simple form.  You could poll one hundred women about what love is, or one hundred men on what love looks like, and I am positive that the responses would run the gamut.  But when I look at John 3:16 I see the full extent of love in the sacrifice that God made for the world.  This is our model of true love and we can learn a lot from this level of self-denial.  I could try to break it down but I really like the way William MacDonald dissects this verse in the “Believer’s Bible Commentary” so I’m going to let him take it from here: 

3:16 God, we read, so loved the world.  The world here includes all mankind.  God does not love men’s sins or the wicked world system, but He loves people and is not willing that any should perish.  The extent of His love is show by the fact that He gave His only begotten Son.  God has no other Son like the Lord Jesus. It was an expression of His infinite love that He would be willing to give His unique Son for a race of rebel sinners.  This does not mean that everyone is saved.  A person must receive what Christ has done for him before God will give him eternal life.  Therefore, the words were added, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish.” Boreham says: “When the church comes to understand the love with which God loved the world, she will be restless and ill at ease, until all the great empires have been captured, until every coral island has been won.” 

3:17 God is not a harsh, cruel ruler anxious to pour out His anger on mankind.  His heart is filled with tenderness toward man and He has gone to the utmost cost in order to save men.”

Happy Hour by Bombi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever since I’ve entered back into the work force as a mom I quickly adopted a favorite time of day. It truly is the happiest part of my day. A time to let my hair down, let my guard down, and just let loose. My co-workers agree that this is their favorite hour as well. As a matter of fact, throughout the years I’ve been invited to enjoy happy hour with them. However, I have an ongoing decline to their invite.

You see, my happy hour isn’t the same as theirs. I have a happy hour all my own. Mine doesn’t include chips, salsa, and a martini at the nearby bar. No my friends, my happy hour is the hour I get to go home. It’s the first moments I get to see the faces of my kids and the man I love. Happy hour includes, “How was your day?” and, “Did you find out what grade you got on your test?” and also, “What did you guys want to eat for dinner?” I don’t know if you’ve found it commonplace to meet folks with families who are constantly trying to escape them, but I seem to find them all around me. They might not notice that in passing they air their frustrations about their “baby of a husband” or “annoying kids they can’t wait to send off.” If this is news to you, I apologize, but sadly it’s no exaggeration. These statements are ones I’ve actually heard, and more than once.  While no one’s earthly life is perfect, I can tell you that mine is blessed and an answer to prayer.

I can remember like it was yesterday, trying to be a good mom to my daughter, as a single mom at times it was hard and exhausting, and at times lonely, but I always loved being a mom, and I always desired in my heart to have a chance to parent alongside someone who loved and respected us both. I also desired to have a son, but I wasn’t about to go have a baby out of wedlock to fulfill this secret want. But in the midst of life God heard my heart and within time, I got a chance to know life as I experience it now. It’s one where I don’t have to escape my life and family by being at some neighborhood bar. It’s a life that I don’t dread or want to run away from. It’s one where my husband shares the same sentiment, so rather than run from his place as a leader in our home, he runs to home. It’s a life where I not only have a precious daughter, but also the son I longed for.

Life now isn’t all roses and sunshine at every moment. But it’s still a dream come true, and as I said earlier, it’s an answer to prayer. It’s one I could only daydream about at one point, but now experience it all the time. It’s a life that I know in just a few short years or so, my husband and I will transition into an “empty-nest” so to speak, but one where I don’t have to sit alone as I watch my daughter go off and live life as an adult. It’s a life where we can experience together sending both of our kids into the world to be the best they can be. It’s a life of lots of laughter, and sometimes tears, and prayers, and meals, and talks, and stay at home movies, and homework, and basketball practice, and choir concerts, and all and everything in between. It’s a life of happy hour every day. It’s a blessed life, and I thank God I get to be a mother to my Avery and Noel.  I also thank God I get to do it not by myself, but with my precious, passionate, servant-leader of a husband.

So for any parent reading this, or if you one day hope to be, I challenge you to change the worlds definition of “Happy Hour.”  I encourage you to realize that your life doesn’t have to be one where you’re daily yearning to escape your family to find a breather, but one where you’re experiencing and cherishing the blessing that God always intended it to be. Because in case you forgot, “those kids” aren’t a burden, they are your true reward.

Psalm 127:3-5(NKJV)

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,

The fruit of the womb is a reward.

4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,

So are the children of one’s youth.

5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;

Photo Credit: ID 99964469 © Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com

 

The Big Day by Kenika

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little over three months ago I got engaged to my husband to be.  It was so exciting for my family, my friends, and me as I was seemingly thrust into a season that I had only dreamed of. We decided on a short engagement, which means an upcoming wedding in the month of May! There I was just minding my business in life and experiencing the highs and lows of a standard boyfriend girlfriend relationship, when all of a sudden I became a “bride to be.” Nothing super spiritual to offer up here, but the gravity of it all sunk in pretty quickly as different elements became so vital. The ring on my hand secured itself as becoming the most important piece of jewelry I had ever owned. Not just the most important ring, but the most important, valuable and sentimental of every piece in my possession.   As I was picking out my dress I thought, “Whoa, this is the most important dress purchase I’ve ever made.”  The same emotions were present while planning the honeymoon trip, every accessory that will be worn on the day and so on.

My background is in event management. I’ve organized and led countless events, conferences and concerts all over the world, literally, during the course of my life.  I’ve also helped to coordinate and assist at weddings of close friends but again, no event will come to be as important to me as our own wedding day.  The most important venue, caterer, dessert, tablecloths, and centerpieces you name it.  All of that is taken care of and my mind and my prayers have gone to the vows and commitment I will make to who is now the most important man in my life, outside of Jesus of course.  I’m preparing my heart and my mind to speak the most crucial words and promises I’ve ever made.  Promises that I will profess and fully intend to never break.  Outside of the prayer of salvation, there hasn’t been a declaration from my lips that has carried so much weight.  To love, cherish, obey, in sickness and in health until death separate us. That is pretty heavy stuff!

As the checklist dwindles I am more ready now than ever to say, “I do.”  At the beginning the exterior elements got me thinking of their importance, but as the day draws near I’ve shifted to the importance of the interior elements as well. I’m not only ready because I’m a decent planner with event details, but I’m also ready because God has lovingly been preparing me for this extremely important day for a long time.   We are in the home stretch to becoming man and wife; please pray for us during this significant time!

Photo Credit:ID 85433172 © Dimabl | Dreamstime.com

Be Present With Your Love by Sonya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The upcoming Valentine’s Day has me thinking about how I can better love my spouse. God put it on my heart to be more present.  We have a busy life with four kids and carving out time to go on dates can be hard. However, being present is key in the way we interact with our spouses. I look at all aspects of our relationship and I’m more aware that connecting with my husband will allow him to feel more loved by me. It is in the little things like when he calls me.  Am I focused on the conversation or am I distracted? My husband knows when I am not fully listening to him on and off the phone. In order to affirm that I am listening on the phone, I ask questions or repeat what he just said to make sure I understand.   Eye contact is the key in person and truly giving him your attention by turning off the television and phone, or going in another room where your kids can’t distract you. Giving of your time and listening well allows you to be present in the moment with your love/valentine. Our spouses deserve to be loved well and if we can’t give them our time and focus, then we are missing out on a deeper relationship that we can have with them! My husband does a great job at loving me well.  For Valentine’s Day he makes a homemade dinner and we stay at home and just be together. He shows me he is present by making himself available and carving that time out. It is not complex, but a simple gesture to just spend time with your sweetie and it doesn’t have to cost to be present with your love. I challenge you this Valentine’s Day to take a break from the busyness and spend time with the ones you love.  You will never regret being present in their lives!

Photo Credit:  ID 82818616 © Viacheslav Iacobchuk | Dreamstime.com