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

In the Midst

A letter to my sister who is waiting…

First of all, cling to the truth that you are never alone. This truth brings the ultimate comfort. God’s presence is like a comfy couch that just envelops you and makes you never want to leave. It’s so easy to just keep looking to the future, seeing all these plans ahead of you. Plans that you want. A new job, a baby, a house, a solid income, or even just an answer. But it seems as though you are stuck in this place. You find yourself wondering when these things will happen.

It’s in these seasons of life, these seasons of waiting, I find my prayer life totally reflects how I’m feeling. My prayers tend to be more selfishly focused because in my brain I’m like…I’m gonna pray for this again..and really hard this time…the more I pray the same thing over and over again, the quicker I get what I want.  Insert eye-rolling emoji here. We become so enveloped by our own thoughts and prayers that our perspective becomes misplaced.

God is always quick to remind me that He is Immanuel, God with us (Matt.1:23). God left us with the Holy Spirit so that we are never alone. I’ve been reading a new devotional on my phone, and I think the author words it perfectly.
“Here we are , living in the church age of history, the Holy Spirit alive in us and through us. Jesus has come! Still, we ache and we long, and we search for God and pursue heaven on Earth, and we come up empty-handed. Why is this so? I think it’s because we forget that He is Immanuel…He is with us on our job, at school, when we do the dishes, at the grocery store…He is with us when we lock ourselves in the bathroom from our kids, when our marriage hits a rough patch or when life breaks our heart in half.”

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So when we are waiting, and seem to feel like our heart’s desires will never be met, God is there. He hears your cries when you don’t know how you will make ends meet for the whole month or pay the bills that were due last month. When you lie in bed at night, while your husband sleeps soundly, and you think no one else will hear your tears and sniffles, Jesus is there, arms open wide, ready to hold you, His precious daughter. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” God has used this verse so many times to comfort me. Lately it’s what comes to mind with every negative pregnancy test I take. Month after month a dumb little stick tells me no again and for a brief or long time, I let it control my feelings. My husband and I will be waiting for a yes from God in this area of our lives, and then later, He reveals another good reason He has kept us waiting. But at times, it just stinks.

On the other side of waiting, there is joy and expectancy. Waiting does not always bring sorrow. It is ok to long for something and expect something because of who God is. We serve a God who is mighty, powerful and sees beyond our vision. He does not waver or cower when we ask Him to move mountains in our lives. He remains firm and assures us through His faithfulness that He has this totally under control. Isn’t it so comforting that God sees the big picture? Sometimes I imagine Him texting me back and saying, “girl, chill. You don’t even know what I have for you in the next 5 minutes, so quit worrying about next Tuesday and whether or not you’re going to hear from that job.”

It’s thoughts like these that make me so thankful that He gave us His word. A book of truth full of His promises. The Bible is full of people who waited way longer than we ever will. People who waited to hear from God, waited for a child, waited for Jesus.

In Psalm 139, David poetically expresses how beautiful the Lord’s love for us is. He describes how he knows us in verses 1-16.

O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night–but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

So in your everyday life, remember that we don’t have to wait. You have Jesus. And God has your life in His hands. Ask for His will even when you want your own. Ask the Holy Spirit to align your heart with the Lord’s.

I’ll leave you with Judges 18:6 “Go in peace,” the priest replied. “For the Lord is watching over your journey.”
❤ Ran

Here is one of my current favorite songs that really helps bring my perspective back to a kingdom one. With most worship songs, I prefer to listen to them once to become familiar, then another time to truly take in the words (normally googling the lyrics), and then I will sing along. When our ears hear our own voice speaking God’s truths, it produces more faith. So sing it out, girl.

Try It Out Tuesday!

We proudly present to you our very first resource of online devotionals! Whoot!! The RARK sisters respect the Word of God as Truth. Diving into it regularly is one way of nurturing our relationship with the God of the universe. If you don’t know where to begin when you pick up that big intimidating Bible, these resources below will guide you and make reading the Bible fun, more convenient and exciting!  

 

She Reads Truth: This is a community of women who pursue Jesus and get in the Word daily! You can become part of the community. Visit their site and get plugged into one of their reading Plans, available in paperback as well in case you like flipping those pages or smelling a fresh new book. You can follow SRT on social media and connect with other women who thrive in God’s good book.  *Cool perk: SRT provides a pretty image for your phone’s lock screen so that you can see it often, read the truth throughout the day or even memorize it.

 

Hebrews 4:12 ‘The Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.’

 

First 5: The app that will transform your time with God. It’s a totally free, very modern and very beautiful app that takes you through a book of the Bible(currently Joshua). The short daily studies look deeply into Scripture and make it come alive with videos and great writing. *Cool perk: In the app you can write a private thought in ‘My Moment’ or even write out a prayer. Then you can look back at your moments as a journal and see glimpses of your faith walk. Also, there is a section for public ‘Comments’ which you can share with the general First 5 public. Reading through the comments gives me encouragement just as much as reading the First 5 teaching sometimes.

 

John 1:1 ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.’

 

The Bible Project: This very modern movement specializes in making videos, podcasts and series to help make the Word come alive! Their main goal is to help believers grow in Bible literacy. They also have an app. *Cool perk: Entertaining, thought provoking videos which would be great for a family Bible study! The breakdown of the stories make it obvious that the Bible is one continuous story that points to Jesus.

We’re just getting started with this list of FREE resources for Bible-reading-women. Check back for more when you’ve gone through all 3!

Happy reading!

Much love,

KJ