Love Is


I noticed this morning that I will be finishing the book of Daniel on Friday and starting Hosea on Saturday. Song of Solomon is known as the love book, but if you ask me Hosea deserves just as much credit. To say I am excited to start Hosea on Valentine’s Day would be an understatement.

Like most girls I’ve always enjoyed Valentine’s Day, but I’ve noticed in the last few years it has grown considerably less exciting and important to me. I still buy cards and candies to show those I love that I do love them, but honestly it all seems superficial to me. I thought it was because growing older has taught me that loving well the other 364 days is more important than buying into the hype of one day. That is true, but this year I have changed my mind about Valentine’s  Day.

For the last 5 years or so we have busied ourselves each year with our youth group and hosting a Valentine’s  banquet for the adults at our church. I often think and plan ideas for my own loved ones early then it flees my mind and I’m grabbing last-minute gifts, and few to none of my plans materialize. Since becoming parents, we have a traditional seafood dinner at home where we exchange gifts with each other and the children. It’s quaint but lovely.

Not this year though. Maybe it’s because we aren’t busy hosting a banquet at church, but I have been thinking a lot more and a lot deeper about Valentine’s Day.

The story of Hosea is the true definition of love. Humans define love as an intense feeling of deep affection. 1John 4:8 defines love as God Himself. If God is love, and He is; then we should look to Him for how to love. Hosea is the example of how God loves.

God told the prophet Hosea to marry and love a Harlot. He married Gomer and it wasn’t too long after what we will call the honeymoon phase; that Gomer was being adulterous. Hosea pleaded with her (2:2). Hosea threatened to leave her with nothing (2:3). But Gomer continued to seek other partners and sin (2:5). Hosea lovingly took her back, but her faithfulness was short-lived and she would be in adulterous relationships again. Gomer finally officially leaves Hosea.

This is horrible! Why would you want use this story for Valentine’s Day? Why would God ask Hosea to do this you ask. Hosea was our relatable symbolic example of the depth of love and loyalty God has for us.

Hosea ends up having to buy back his wife for 15 pieces of silver and some barley (if the sin itself wasn’t humiliating that would be). This all has me thinking; if Christmas is the when and Easter is the how then Valentine’s is the why. Love is not an intense feeling of affection. Love is sacrifice. Love is keeping your promises when they break theirs. Love is when nothing makes sense. Love is when it isn’t wanted or deserved. Love is God.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 1John 4:8

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Guilt By Association


I thought she was a righteous woman. Never mind that I ignored the prompting of the spirit and the pleading of my bored child to hightail it outa there. How could anyone say these things let alone someone I felt an understudy to. I knew what was being said wasn’t kind and I had hoped to sway her to love and compassion. I never intended to get caught up in the heinous crime. I wasn’t even aware that I was guilty by association until I was told to , “not talk so loud!” And if it ain’t about you, and it ain’t about me, and nobody’s having a surprise party… It’s gossip. CRUD! The slippery ugly sin of gossip. BUT— I was trying to speak kind words in her defense. BUT— I myself did NOT say ANYTHING ugly. BUT— I still feel like I did, and I still stayed when God said go. I still laughed at the ugly to fit in. If gossip is murder and the Bible says it is; then I was guilty by association. My heart hurts; partly because she pointed out the singularly most painfully discomfited part of me–my voice. The other part–I’m smack dab in the middle of gossip. The ugly murderous kind that’s in the Bible. I held the tears back until I got to the car, and even then made it a good way home before Josh ask me what was wrong and I outed the whole ugly story between sobs. Particularly broken by how this woman I had admired so much had not just disappointed me but had embarrassed me in an area I had been vulnerable in confiding to her about. The next morning I cracked my Bible. My eyes moved across the words but that was the extent of it. Desperate for peace I took my Bible to the bath (When I am sad I clean; the house, my body. It doesn’t matter I clean it.). I knew Ezekiel was a bust that morning. I needed lighter reading. So it was David. You know how David loved Saul even though Saul hurt him and even attempted to kill him over and over and over? Why on earth would he do that? I mean Saul’s a nut, a bad egg, a hot head. David, you know he can’t be trusted?! All I know is David kept saying Saul was chosen and anointed King by God and that was enough for him. So I pick up my book, and wouldn’t you know Max Lucado cleared it up. Max told of how he had left his dog at a kennel and another dog had managed to get in with his dog nearly killing her. Max wrote a letter to the other dog’s owner suggesting the violent dog be put down. Max took the letter to the kennel and the owner of the kennel said, “I ask you to reconsider. What that dog did was unthinkable, but I’m training him and I’m not done with him yet.” Max explained that sometimes people do unthinkable things, but God isn’t done with them yet. Is Gods forgiveness only big enough to cover my part in the crime? Does this mean this woman is not the righteous, anointed, mentor-worthy woman she was a week ago? David was hurt, scared, lonely: BUT— He knew that Saul was still special, chosen, anointed. I was embarrassed, ashamed, disappointed: BUT— I know God’s no more done with her than HE is with me. guilt by association

How Long


I believe in sharing the raw and ugly. I believe doing so is the only way to find purpose for our pain, and finding a reason for your hurt is the best salve for the wounds. David said, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long…” When I read that I felt like he took the words right out of my heart.

I am grateful to have received a beautiful text from a beautiful soul. Susie Sidebottom embraced the vulnerable and exposed the raw and ugly. I pray it was soothing to the wounds.

You can imagine my joy when she agreed to write a guest post. It was a testimony that stirred my heart. I had a feeling it would yours too.

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This week, while doing my studies of the Psalms, I was consistently drawn to the thirteenth Psalm. In this Psalm, David was praying for relief from despair. Within the first two verses, David asked “How long?” four times.

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” ​​​​​​​Psalm 13:1-2 ESV

Ten years of marriage to my soul-mate, and I can promise you that I have asked “How Long” more than just four times. How long until we have a baby? How long do I have to work a job where I am unappreciated? How long until I am the number one priority? How long until we aren’t in a financial upheaval? How long are we going to be just the two of us? How long will this pregnancy last? How long will this test or trial last? How long until God finds and shows favor in me? These are just a few examples of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times that I have asked “How Long?”. Confession – the last of my thoughts are thanking God and rejoicing in Him and his salvation at those moments when I am asking that question. In reading the thirteenth Psalm, that is exactly what David did at the end of that prayer.
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”​​​​​​​Psalm 13: 5-6 ESV

I can say that in the last couple of years I have been able to find greater peace because I have been able to let go and let God. These last two years, I have been trying to focus more on being thankful for everything that God has afforded me. Admittedly, David made me chuckle with the sixth verse, because it is inherently true. God has dealt bountifully with me.

God knows exactly the right timing for everything in our lives. He is the master designer of our stories. Looking back on my life, and the trials within, I can understand the answer to some of my “How long?” questions. God answered by showing me that He has the perfect plan and that His timing is impeccable.

It was easy to find great solace in reading this Psalm, because the great King David felt the way that I do and have in the past. David sets an excellent example and reminder that it is okay to ask of our God “How Long?”, but we also need to remember that He is the great provider, and we need to be thankful for everything that He has already done for us. Remember, He has dealt bountifully with us. That is quite a job on most days.image