True love

Free Valentine printable from http://rachelwojo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/valentines.pdf

Free Valentine printable from http://www.rachelwojo.com

I love Valentine’s Day. Though I never had a boyfriend until my senior year in college, I always thought it was fun to make special treat for friends and enjoy a more low-key school day. When I started following Jesus in college, I realized that this just might be my favorite holiday- a whole day to celebrate love? And now I knew what true love was and had an eternal Valentine whom I could share with others!? This was just too good to be true!

“this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”                1 John 3:16

Valentine’s Day is a culturally acceptable day to love people, make them feel special, and point them to true love, displayed on the cross. I know that it’s important for married couples to carve out time for one another. And that is so great. But I also feel like this day, for whatever reasons, is a day of brokenness for many. This is an amazing opportunity to love the single, widowed, divorced,hurting people in our lives. This commercialized holiday can be redeemed and used as a chance to bless our loved ones, our neighbors, and those we don’t even know.

I am super excited to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my family. Tomorrow, Finn, Piper and I have some errands to run. I saw the idea online to take valentines out and about with you to give to people you encounter. Finn is at the perfect age for this- he is going to have a blast. And lest you think you can’t do something similar because it’s last minute, you can! Even if you just print something cute from pinterest, it could totally make someone’s day. It also teaches your little about loving others and being others-focused. (another sweet idea, which I would love to do in the future, is visit a nursing home or hospital). Even better- is there a neighbor or someone in your life that you’ve talked with a little but would love to get to know better? Grab your adorable little kiddo and a flower or something sweet or whatever and seize this day!

Maybe the idea of giving a stranger or neighbor a valentine really scares you. Can I double-dog dare you to give it a try? And, in the midst of heart-shaped pancakes and a date with your spouse, keeping an open eye and an open heart to who could really use some true love? Maybe it even means forgoing a fancy meal and as a family blessing another couple a gift card or having friends over (or maybe visiting http://www.compassion.com and buying someone a much needed item from the gift catalogue?) My point is this: it doesn’t matter how big or how small the gesture is, but let’s be pro-active to love someone in a special way this Valentine’s Day. With pinterest and social media the way it is it’s tempting to think that any thing we do has to be super cute and original and handmade and on and on. Thankfully, it actually just needs to be done with love. Here are some other ideas:

-take this opportunity to write an affirming note to someone: a coworker, friend, parent, missionary, sibling, spouse, etc.

-if you sponsor a child, take time to make them a valentine with your kids

-send flowers to your grandmother (or maybe someone who has lost a spouse recently

Please don’t read this post and then feel guilty for whatever. The last thing any of us needs in our life is more guilt. What we all need is more Jesus. Let’s let him saturate our hearts, our lives, and this Hallmark holiday and turn it all into a sweet offering unto Him. As you love your hubby, your kids, your single sister, the cashier at the grocery store, may it all be the overflow of a heart that is loved, cherished, and captivated by our One True Love.

P.S. one more idea for making this an extra special Valentine’s Day? Write a love letter to your Savior. It doesn’t have to be long or eloquent or written on parchment paper with a quill or something crazy… Just a few words of love, just loving the One who loved you first.

What are some ways that you like to celebrate True Love on Valentine’s Day? Would love to hear stories and ideas or ways that you’ve been loved!

Great parenting books (at great prices)

Don't Make Me Count to Three

 We refer to Finn as “the little tyrant” when it comes to bedtime. First he demands a song… Then another. Then some water. Then he says “I’m cold.” He’s getting crafty. I share this to say that parenting is an area I need to grow in! I’ve said before, I believe that the Bible is our go-to and only ultimately Authoritative book in our library. However, I also think reading books written by people who are loving Jesus and drawing their practices from His Word and the example of other godly people is a great practice for growing as a parent. It will challenge you, get you thinking, encourage you…but it can be pricey! I love my Kindle, and I thought I’d search out some great priced parenting books for Kindle and share with you here. I think I need to read them again myself….

The Duties of Parents, J.C. Ryle. Ryle’s writing reminds me of Spurgeon’s in that it makes me want to underline every single sentence! A short, but rich book. This is my favorite parenting book so far. At $.99: buy it and then buy one for every other parent you know!

Instructing A Child’s Heart, Tedd and Margy Tripp. One of the most-read and referred-to parenting books by many Christians, and not without good reason. The focus on the gospel, the heart, and being a proactive parent will challenge and bless you. $1.99 (Also by the Tripps; Shepherding A Child’s Heart, also $1.99)

Don’t Make Me Count to Three, Ginger Plowman. I loved this book. I especially loved it’s emphasis on using the actual Bible as our means of correcting and teaching our children. I felt challenged that in order to be a better parent, I needed to get more of His Word into my heart! She gives great examples, and for $1.99 (versus over $10 for paperback) this is a steal.

10 Gifts of Wisdom, Sally Clarkson. I haven’t finished this book, but I loved her book The Ministry of Motherhood. I have heard her speak on a podcast I like as well and appreciate her wisdom and heart for the Lord and for her children (and for the lost). She, her husband, and her four grown children almost stumbled upon this book as one evening her children shared with her things that they were grateful she had focused on and taught them well. A lot of food for thought at only $4.99 (way more long lasting than a frappucino!)

Hints on Child-Training, Henry Clay Trumbill. I am new to this book, but it looks good and the reviews are great. It was written over a hundred years ago by the man who campaigned for children to have Sunday school. Can’t wait to read it, $.99.

**note: these book prices are the same for a Nook, minus 10 Gifts of Wisdom, which is not available for Nook**

*book prices can be subject to change, these were the prices when this post was written*

Hope these help serve you as your love Jesus through loving your kids!