happy valentine’s day

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Valentine’s Day:  A holiday that some love and others love to hate.  A day where your Facebook and Instagram feeds will be filled with pictures of happy looking couples and posts about gifts and probably even an engagement or two.  Seeing all of this can ignite negative emotions for some.  If you’re in a relationship, it may make you feel upset because someone else’s partner did something more than yours.  If you’re single, it may make you feel alone, insecure, or unwanted.

I thought a lot about what to write for a Valentine’s day post.  So I’ll just start with a confession:  I’ve never had a Valentine.  There have been times when I’ve bemoaned that fact.  I’ve sat at home feeling lonely and upset more times than I’d care to admit because all my friends were out with their significant others.  But over the years, I’ve truly begun to learn and lean on the love of Jesus.  The only real, true, and flawless love we will ever know.

One of my absolute favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Hosea. If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend it.  In the story, the Lord asked Hosea to go and love a promiscuous woman.  To bring her to himself and love her as God loves his people.  He had him do this as a parallel to His love to “promiscuous” Israel.  So Hosea married a woman named Gomer, who many scholars believe was a prostitute.  Gomer had a few children by Hosea and was unfaithful to him.  At first, God seems very harsh in how he punishes her.  He speaks of taking away everything He’s given to her because she doesn’t realize that it is the Lord who has given her everything she’s had until now (Hosea 2:8).  So there’s half a chapter dedicated to everything the Lord is taking away from her(and when he is speaking of “her” he is really referencing his own rebellious people in this parallel).  Then, halfway through chapter 2 in one of my favorite verses, he flips the script.

 “Therefore, I am going to persuade her, lead her to the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14).

 He goes on from there to say that he will give her everything back and will take her to be His wife forever.

 “I will take you to be My wife forever.  I will take you to be My wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion.  I will take you to be My wife in faithfulness, and you will know Yahweh.”  (Hosea 2:19-20).

This is the kind of love that is hard to even fathom!
And certainly not a love that is able to truly live in the flesh of men.  This type of sacrificial, sometimes unrequited love is only able to come from the true lover of our souls.  Our Savior, our Messiah, our Lord.  Gomer in this story is every single one of us.  She is the one who has been unfaithful to her husband.  She is the one who has made idols of work and legalism.  She is the one who has put her love life or her marriage on a pedestal above her true King.  She is the one who has sat at home on Valentine’s day bemoaning her single life instead of reveling in the Love she already has.

Gomer is all of us.

My challenge to you this Valentine’s day, no matter where you are or who you’re with, is to remember this story.  Remember the love that our God has for us, that no matter what we do, how we behave, He is ready and waiting to lead each of us into the wilderness to speak tenderly to us. So while you’re getting ready for your Valentine’s dates or girls nights, put on some worship music and praise Him.  If you’re home alone, consider spending at least part of your evening in prayer and reading about the immense love God has for you. That is what earthly men can only ever strive for.

 You will never know a more sacrificial or righteously jealous love.
You will never know another lover who will want you back,
after you’ve turned so far away from Him.
You will never know a love so great as the love of God.
Let Him love you, dear sister.
On this Valentine’s day and every day.

Love,
Ashley

The Unexpected Christmas

Luke 1:26-38

There’s a piece of garland on my mantle that doesn’t quite look like the rest.  One side hanging down is luscious and full with lights while the other is sparse in its branches with the ribbon a bit crumpled.  I also have a string of lights that keeps falling down so it’s more like the shape of a boot than a beautiful, twinkling border around the peephole to my kitchen.  When I look at the uneven garland or hear the sound of my twinkle lights falling down once again, I get a little agitated.
You see, Christmas is my favorite time of year.  Everything feels magical to me, until the small details don’t quite live up to my expectations.

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When I notice those minute details, I can’t help but almost immediately feel a pang of guilt and think back to our dear sister Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus.  I’m sure she had her small annoyances in life (though I feel confident they looked awfully different than uneven garland).  But when we read about Mary, we read of a girl who had much more than small things not pan out as she expected.  Mary was engaged to be married.  Before her little visit by Gabriel, she and her family were probably excitedly making wedding plans.  She likely imagined that she and Joseph would have children.  That Joseph would spend his days working while she tended to the children.  She would raise them to be warriors, workers, and homemakers and when she had faithfully completed her task of raising the children, she and Joseph would grow old together.  Just a simple, normal existence our young friend probably imagined. What she didn’t dream of?  An angel telling her she would become pregnant—out of wedlock—with a One coming to save the whole world.  Who could imagine something like that?

But that’s just what Mary experienced.  She must have been terrified.  Terrified for what her life would look like, what others would think, what her betrothed would think!  There are many ways she could have responded to that conversation.  In anger, disrespect, or despair she could have replied to Gabriel.  But she had only one question:

 “How?”  As soon as it was explained to her, she quietly submitted and accepted the Lord’s will for her life.  “’I am the Lord’s slave,’ said Mary.  ‘May it be done to me according to your word.’” (Luke 1:38)

Have you ever been caught off guard by something the Lord has asked of you?  Have you ever had your picture perfect life plan derailed?    Sometimes, we feel disappointed by the way He is asking us to live or the gifts he gives us that we do not necessarily regard as gifts.  In those instances, we can scream and cry and stomp our feet in resistance, or we can quietly accept the Lord’s will for us.  It will not always look perfect, but we can know that our lives are working according to His plan.  Through Mary’s obedience and submission, we were all given a Savior.  A sweet, beautiful, baby boy destined to save the world because one young Jewish girl was obedient to her calling.  During this season, I’ll be sitting back with a cup of hot cider, staring at my boot shaped lights and uneven garland praying that God continues to shatter my “perfect” expectations for life so He can replace them with a more holy path.

Where is He leading your life, sweet sister? Will you follow Him?

Love,
Ashley

Hey y’all!
We are so excited to have this opportunity to share our lives here. We have been dreaming, planning and praying for months, and it is almost time to fully launch!
Our official launch date is December 1st!
We hope you find your way back here time after time. When you do, you will find encouraging words, wisdom, humor and so much more! We hope you feel right at home and a part of this special sisterhood when you are here.

Hope y’all have a happy thanksgiving, yummy food, and feel surrounded by love.
Love,
The Sisters