Loving in the little

Last year, Matt and I stood in the rain together and prayed for our country at the Missouri Capitol. Him being there with me was a beautiful act of love. Love is so much more than one day a year!

Valentine’s Day is made for grand gestures, thoughtful gifts and lovey-dovey profile pictures. Flower shops and even Wal-Mart stores are clogged with people grabbing a token of their affection to proclaim their love. Though we don’t really need a day like this to express our adoration, this holiday serves as a reminder to appreciate those we love.

Tomorrow, it all goes on clearance.

The chocolate gets eaten, the flowers die and the stuffed animals get thrown in a closet.

The grand gestures mean nothing if not backed up by the day-in-day-out loving in the little ways no one else sees. Filling the coffee pot, early morning snuggles, supporting them in their work and ministry, staying up late to help with homework, folding the laundry, giving each other a kiss before heading off for the day, always speaking well of each other in public, praying for God’s favor in their life, backing them up, doing dishes, watching TV together, making breakfast, giving compliments, showing up, being honest when it’s hard, putting their needs above yours, sending an “I love you” text just because you do, giving them space to process and not heading straight for the argument. True love is validated in the everyday.

Jesus personally showed us this truth:

  • Jesus helped people out in a jam (John 2:1-10)
  • Jesus touched a leper who needed Him (Matthew 8:3, Mark 1:40-41)
  • Jesus took time to answer the questions of those seeking (John 3:1-20)
  • Jesus stood in the gap to rescue and forgive those who didn’t deserve it (John 8:3-11)
  • Jesus was willing to be interrupted (Mark 1:35-37)
  • Jesus fiercely defended His Father (Luke 19:45-46, John 2:13-17)
  • Jesus saw Peter’s mother-in-law and healed her without being asked (Matthew 8:14-15)
  • Jesus had dinner with Matthew and his friends and didn’t care what anyone else thought about it (Matthew 9:10-13, Luke 5:29-32)
  • Jesus shared His ministry with His friends (Matthew 10:1, Mark 6:7-12, Luke 9:1-2, 10:1)
  • Jesus sent the disciples ahead and cleaned up Himself (Mark 6:45)
  • Jesus was patient and took the time to have deep conversation (Matthew 13:36-37)
  • Jesus challenged his friends to dig deeper in their faith (Matthew 14:28-33)
  • Jesus had great compassion and entered into other’s grief (Luke 7:12-15)
  • Jesus sailed through storms with His friends (Luke 8:22-25)
  • Jesus was patient when Martha was stressed (Luke 10:40-42)
  • Jesus got His hands dirty to help and heal (Mark 7:33, 8:23, John 9:6)
  • Jesus saw people no one else did (Luke 19:5, 21:1-2, John 4:6-7, 5:5-8)
  • Jesus showed his friends who He really was (Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2-3, Luke 9:29)
  • Jesus grieved with His friends (John 11:33-35)
  • Jesus loved his disciples despite petty arguments (Mark 9:33-37)
  • Jesus told the truth even when it wasn’t what a young man wanted to hear (Matthew 19:21-22, Mark 10:21-22, Luke 18:22-23)
  • Jesus wept over the lostness of people He loved (Luke 19:41)
  • Jesus stood up and defended those who loved Him (Matthew 26:10-13, Mark 14:6-9)
  • Jesus washed His disciples feet (13:4-5)
  • Jesus prayed for His disciples and for us (John 17:6-26)
  • Jesus loved Peter enough to tell him the truth (Matthew 26:33-34)
  • Jesus shared His sorrow (Matthew 26:38, Mark 14:34)
  • Jesus took care of His mom (John 19:25-27)
  • Jesus forgave (Luke 23:36)

Jesus loved. Scripture is seeped in His love. And when the time came for the Greatest Act of Love, when Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross, His disciples could believe and we can believe it now because every moment of His life was a testament to His amazing love for us.

The cross is the proof of a lifetime and eternity of God’s love. In a similar way, Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be just a one-shot love deal. Today, let’s celebrate the culmination of the 365 days before, and the promise of future days, full of loving in the little.

Love is

Lauren and her "Love is" mobile

Lauren and her “Love is” mobile

We had an amazing Valentine’s week planned for our family. To help us better understand God’s love, we were going to focus on one phrase of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 for seven days, correlate a person in Scripture who displayed that kind of love, do fun Valentine’s activities and give the kids a special Valentine’s gift each day. Everything was wrapped and ready to roll for Monday.

Then I had surgery to extract my wisdom teeth.

The kids stand in front of our Love Is wall hanging after Day 2, with bookmarks they made out of paint strip samples.

The kids stand in front of our Love Is wall hanging after Day 2, with bookmarks they made out of paint strip samples.

Sheer adrenaline and pain meds got me through the first day of “Love is”. We learned that love is patient and kind, and thought about how Joseph, son of Jacob, showed that kind of love to his family, and how God displays that love for us. We made Love Is Mobiles, which are proudly hanging on both the kids’ doors.

That’s as far as I was able to go in our family experience. Tuesday, my recovery turned for the worse, and Matt helped us learn that love is not jealous, boastful, proud or rude. John the Baptist exemplified that kind of love, and we studied about how John loved Jesus that way. The kids each got a Valentine’s book, and though they begged me to read to them, my face was so swollen and pain levels so high, I┬ájust couldn’t.

We skipped every other day of our Bible study.

To say I was disappointed is putting it mildly. I’ve literally spent the entire week sleeping on the couch or in bed, trying to get through the terrible pain and onset of vertigo.

Finally yesterday, after my oral surgeon treated me for a dry socket, God gave me some clarity through the pain. I sat in the car surrounded by my dear family, who had driven me two hours to my appointment, and realized we had each learned so much about love this week even though we didn’t finish our “Love is” study.

Love is patient and kind. Love picks up the slack for others. Love stays quiet so another can sleep. Love helps do the dishes and pick up toys. Love understands when another says no. Love is willing to wait until someone feels better (which is very difficult for kids who love to snuggle!). Love puts life on pause to make sure someone else is OK. Love sacrifices time and energy. Love gets through interrupted plans. Love takes the kids so the other can rest. Love turns down the volume on the TV. Love is there, no matter what.

The kids opened all the rest of their little love presents today, and are currently having a great time throwing new frisbees and blowing bubbles outside with my husband, while I continue to rest on the couch.

But as I watch them through the window, I see what love is.

Happy Valentine’s Day!