Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Love-Hate Relationship with Valentine's Day

I have a confession to make....I have a slight disdain for Valentine's Day. Oh, I adore celebrating love. My mantle is decorated, my front door adorned, my table set all with pinks and reds and hearts. I love love. I love having an out of the ordinary day of red velvet heart shaped pancakes and candlelit dinner with my family of 5. What I hate is the superficial demand placed on men to buy flowers and chocolates and bears. It's become a comparison game of whose husband does the best; my husband is better than yours, he bought bigger flowers, better chocolates, so I must be loved more than you. Nonsense. I'd rather have 365 days of thoughtful, faithful, simple love than one day of "I better get her something or I'll be in trouble" love. Why can't we see that this absurdity all derives from our need for validation? If I get an over the top, romantic gift, I am incredible. If he fails, I'm nothing. Perhaps that's slightly extreme, but for many women it's precisely true. Several years ago, I chose to take a different approach to this beloved day. After all, I can't walk away from the delight of decorating for this sweet day! As a family, we celebrate God's love on this day. Not to sound overly spiritual. But, after all He is love, the author of this incredible gift. Apart from Him, love is a self-seeking, self-serving pursuit of empty romance. I celebrate my husband on this day, but through the lense of God's love for me. We would have nothing if it were not for God's love for us and in us. And I will be delighted when I do not receive flowers and chocolates ( I told him years ago to stop wasting the money....seriously. And no, I do not get my feelings hurt. They really aren't allowed on this day.). I want my kids to know lasting love, Song of Solomon love. I do not want their concept of love to be formed by the hopeless idea this world offers. So, tonight we will play Valentine's minute to win it and we will have a candlelit fondue dinner for five and we will teach them from God's word about God's love, true love, Song of Solomon love. And everyday, through the good and bad, they see their dad love their mom. And they know it's because of Him. And I pray that we drive them to pursue the God who is love and gives love. Only in Him is love fully, wholly, found and only through Him do these earthly, fallen relationships provide a measure of joy and wonder and romance. We have this all backwards. We've traded His love for other love. The love we are given in this life are to be glimpses, not replacements, of His great love. My prayer for my precious 3 children is that they would know the width and length and depth and height of the love of Christ that passes all understanding.

"Let me hear, in the morning (and every morning), of your steadfast love." This is our hope as women. When we awake, each day, to the reality of His steadfast love, we are not desperately hoping for the love of another.

Have a blessed Day of Love. I hope to post next week about our festivities for the day. The kids are out of school Friday and Monday so I'll not be on here for a few days.

UPDATE: It's Easter and I'm finally posting pictures of our Family Fondue Feast!

We feasted on a candlelit cheddar fondue dinner complete with steak strips, shrimp, potato logs, pretzel bread sticks and roasted veggies! I froze pink punch as ice cubes to put in our sprite :)

All food items, of course, were found on sale/reduced (fine dining done on the cheap delights me!). This was a very simply supper and the kids raved! This was a memory they won't soon forget.

We had to let our stuffed tummies settle so we played 5 rounds of heart themed Minute-To-Win-It games! Abbi was the overall winner! This was not all hearts and love as I have a competitive crew, but we did share lots of laughs!

We ended our family fun with indulgent dessert! Chocolate fondue with strawberries, heart marshmellows and red velvet cake balls. Oh my, it was divine! Again, this was super simple (and cheap) which was all the more delightful :)

Oh yes, that is Abbi turning our candlelit dessert into a marshmellow roast!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Unchecked To Do List

Nothing about this year has gone according to plan. At the beginning of January, I spent several hours updating my home manager, restructuring my monthly/weekly/daily schedule to allow for some goals I want to accomplish this year and also to help me be more productive; you know, like daily blog posting. You realize this is February 7 and this is first post of the year, right?! And nothing, I mean not one single thing, has gone according to plan. With a sigh of relief, I can say than it’s not entirely due to me (already) slacking, but due more to unexpected things that have come up. Of course, this recovering perfectionist allowed myself to get to an utter, epic failure frame of mind. My sweet Savior has begun to speak gently, quietly to my heart over the past few days, reminding me that, “Many are a man’s plans, but it is the Lord who directs his steps.” I may not be getting one single thing accomplished that I had hoped, but the interruptions and changes have not been annoying irritations to my plans but rather His plans. I am in no way attempting to justify my lack of productivity. I simply needed a refocus. My youth minister in high school taught us on a mission trip to “Be Flexible. Be Yielded.” That phrase has been invading my mind during the past week of this epic failure pity party I’ve been throwing. I do not believe God is giving me a free pass to be lazy or unproductive. That would contradict His word. What He is trying to teach me (I think-I'm a slow learner) is that I need to be flexible in my plans and yielded to Him. I’ve had it backwards. I’ve been yielded to my plans. Do you know how good it feels to cross every single item off a To Do List?! Yes, today I have a list of things that I need to get done, however my “plan” for what I should accomplish, according to my Home Manager, on this Thursday of the first week of the month is not going to happen. An important truth of delighting in everyday life is allowing God to guide my day. Of course we must get up and go to work, if we work and get laundry done and meals prepared for our family. God isn’t going to lead us to neglect our responsibilities. What I mean, especially for us over-achievers, is that in our attempt to be organized, planned, productive, we leave God out. Then when He meets us in our day, wanting to accomplish something in us or through us, we feel as though our space has been invaded. Oh yes, I know all about the psychology of human nature and that we will never achieve our goals if we do not take steps to work towards them, but today is all I have to honor God and walk in step with Him. Perhaps that is just it; our goals are self-centered rather than God-centered. Maybe my goals are really vain attempts to feel a sense of worth and control. Just maybe all the things I want to get done, those adorably cute ,Pinterest projects and perfectly organized home, look nothing like what He wants to get done through me today. Delighting in my everyday life is not about having my life perfectly together, but rather allowing Him to accomplish His perfect plan. The unexpected phone calls, the sick child, the sudden burden to pray; having my eyes open to how He is wanting to work through me and my heart receptive to how He is wanting to work in me should be my goal for this day. As I move through my to do list of responsibilities, He must become my frame of mind. It is possible that a half marked To-Do list is delightful after all?