Valentine

A Special Valentine's Message

Ahhh… Valentine's. The love holiday. For some it brings smiles, roses, candy and a nice dinner out. For others it brings knots to the stomach, tears, feelings of failure and anxiety. No matter which camp you find yourself in, I would like to share an idea that could potentially make any girl’s Valentines extra sweet and special. There's the coolest verse in the Bible found in a tiny little book tucked away in the depths of the Old Testament. Song of Solomon 1:2 says, “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth- for your love is better than wine.” I have pondered the exquisite beauty of that analogy. Even if you don’t like wine, you can appreciate the fact that one type of fruit, the grape, can make 20+ different categories of wines, and each of those are not exactly the same. If you look at music, there are 12 main notes on a piano, that repeat. And how many different songs are there? An infinite number. Simple songs, complex songs, short songs, long songs, happy songs, sad songs. The possibilities are endless, just like with grapes and wine.

It’s the same with God’s love. The sheer vastness of all the dimensions of His love is amazing. Not in an overwhelming way, though, because God knows just how to pair His love with your circumstances.

Some need His tender love, the comforting kind that lets you take a deep breath and rest in His loving-kindness. Some need His tough love to say, “No, you need to cut this out of your life if you want be healthy and grow.” Some need His Shepherd kind of love because you're walking through the valley of the shadow of death and you're afraid, and you need to remember that He's right there with you and His love can cast out that fear. Some need His Father’s love, to realize that you belong; you're a part of His family. Some need to know Him as Lover of your Soul. He not only fought for your soul, but He's deeply in love with you. His desire is towards you. Some need His faithful love, because you haven’t had an example of faithful love and you desperately need to know that He's still there and that nothing can separate you from His love- not your feelings, not your circumstances, not your loneliness. Nothing, can separate you from His love.

He wants you to know that He loves you this Valentine's Day and He wants you to experience a new dimension of His love. Try it. Carve some time out to spend with Him this year. A special Valentine's date. You and your Creator. If you need some inspiration, try putting on “The Very Thought of You” by Natalie Cole and sing it to Him. Write Him a note.  Have a moment, Woman to Creator. He will meet you there.

Valentine From God

Being romantics, most of us women enjoy wedding stories even if it is not our own.  So, let’s take a peak at Leah and Jacob’s wedding in the 29th chapter of Genesis. It was the morning after Leah’s wedding night. She heard voices outside of her tent, which she recognized as being her new husband, Jacob and her father, Laban.  As she listened intently, she heard the most chilling words a bride could hear coming from her husband’s mouth: “What is this you have done to me?” “Was it not for Rachael that I served you.” “Why then have you deceived me and given me Leah and not Rachael?” [Genesis 29:25]

Right away, I’m sure you recognize that this is not a typical wedding for women in our society.  You see, Jacob had bargained with Laban for Leah’s gorgeous sister, Rachael.  He had even endured seven years of hard labor in exchange to marry her.  As was the custom in those days, he waited in the dark tent after the ceremony for his bride to be delivered to him.  What a shock to awake the next morning and find that plain-looking Leah had been substituted for gorgeous Rachel.

It’s easy to get caught up feeling sorry for Jacob.  After all, a bargain is a bargain.  But, put yourself in Leah’s position as she heard her husband and father discussing the situation.  Here you see a picture of a father who was supposed to show affirmation, appreciation, unconditional love, and who was supposed to represent the very image of God to her, but had instead presented Leah as the “loser’s prize.” How would you feel about your new groom who was intimate with you, took what he wanted, but didn’t even recognize who you were until the morning after?  I shudder to think of it!!

As Leah continued to listen to the two men talking, she heard them cut another deal. Jacob could marry Rachael, too, if he agreed to work for Laban another seven years.  And so it was, one week after Leah’s wedding night, Rachael moved in.  Can you imagine sharing your husband with your sister?  Leah became the unloved and undesired wife.

Genesis 29: 31 says:  when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb; but Rachael was barren.”    The key words in that verse are:  The Lord Saw.  He saw that Leah was not loved for the beautiful woman she was.  So God compensated her with one of the greatest joys a woman could have---Motherhood.

What was Leah’s attitude toward the Lord’s gift of Motherhood to her?  Each child’s name and their meaning captures Leah’s attitude.  [John Wesley Commentary]

Reuben: [Behold a Son or Look]  In a culture that placed high value on sons, Leah interpreted her first son as God’s way of enabling her to gain her husband’s love. But it didn’t work that way.

 Simeon: [Hearing]  Leah said “the Lord heard I was still unloved, so he gave me a second son.”  “Surely, this time Jacob will love me.”    But, he didn’t.

 Levi: [Joined] Leah explained his name this way, “Now at least my husband will become attached to me.”  But all her efforts with God’s help proved fruitless.  Jacob still had eyes only for Rachel.

 What was Leah doing with each child?    She was trying to win Jacob’s love! Just like Leah, many women in our society go to great lengths to win or keep the love of a spouse or boyfriend, only to have their hopes fall by the wayside. Many children spend a lifetime trying to win the love and approval of their parents to no avail. It’s easy to become disillusioned about a relationship we desire to have, but not quite within our reach.  We plot and scheme in order to achieve it, but just like Leah, it doesn’t work.

 But, something changed in Leah as she bore her 4th child.  She named him Judah, which means Praise. Leah turned from longing for Jacob’s love to accepting God’s love. Did Jacob change?  No, but Leah changed her focus and realized it was God who gave her unconditional love, worth, and significance.

And so, if Valentine Day passed you by and you were left feeling unloved, unaccepted, and unappreciated by people in your life, The Lord Saw.  Today, He has a post Valentine message just for you.

For a Special Daughter

You were made in my image. [Gen. 1:27] I knew you before you were conceived. [Jerm. 1:4-5] I knitted you together in your Mother’s womb. [Ps. 139:13] I am familiar with all your ways. [Gen. 1:27]

My thoughts of you are more in number than the sand. [Ps. 139:17-18] I know when you sit down and rise up. [Ps. 139:2] You are my treasured possession. [Ex. 19:5] My plan for your future is filled with hope. [Jerm. 29:11]

I am your husband and best friend.  [Is. 54:5; John 3:15] I am also your father and I love you as I do my son, Jesus. [John 17:23] For in Jesus my love for you is revealed. [John 17:26] He came to demonstrate that I am for you not against you. [Rom. 8:31]

My son’s death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. [1 John 4:10] I gave up everything I loved so that I might gain your love. [Rom. 8:31-32] If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. [1 John 2:23] And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. [Rom. 8:38-39]

Facing Another Dark Valentine’s Day? How ‘bout a little light…

Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day can be really hard. I remember a few years in particular that were gut-wrenching for me.  I got so annoyed with those stupid jewelry commercials. I had to leave the room when they came on.  I went out of my way to avoid the Hallmark store. I remember watching The Notebook and feeling utterly lost in the heart-break of my own story.  The last thing on earth I wanted to see was someone else’s romance.  My happily-ever-after seemed trashed and life was very dark. But, there was a light that shined into my darkness. If you’ve faced another Valentine’s Day alone, or you are in a difficult place in your relationship, allow me to share a little light:

You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.

Psalm 18:28

Know that God is in the business of turning darkness into light. It’s nice to know that you don’t have to do that yourself. You don’t have to make yourself shine-y. Allow God to shine on you.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God…my Savior…Psalm 42:11

It’s helpful to talk to yourself! The Psalmist did it all the time. Put your hope in God. There is nothing to hard for Him. When life comes crashing in around you – that’s exactly when you need a Savior!

Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord! Psalm 31:24 AMP

Let your heart take courage. Wait. Hope. Expect.  Some relationships end. Sometimes, it just feels like the end.  But this is not the end for you! There is always a new beginning with God!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned… Isaiah 43:2

The key word here is THROUGH.  Whatever you are facing, there is an “other side.” God so sweetly beckoned my wounded heart with this verse.  Just Keep Walkin’ Baby. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will make it THROUGH.

Lynn Marie Cherry has a heart to encourage women towards freedom and plant seeds of hope. She enjoys sharing insight from God’s word and the world around her. She has been married for almost 20 years to the same great guy, they have two amazing boys. You can read more at http://lynnmariecherry.blogspot.com/

Valentine Shmalentine

I have never been much for Valentine's Day. I'm actually not crazy about many holidays but Valentine's Day just seems especially unnecessary. However, when Kristian and I first started dating I can't say I wasn't excited to have someone to celebrate this otherwise lame holiday with.On our first Valentine's Day together, Kristian went all out. He told me to get dressed but there were no specific instructions, just don't wear heels. I waited in anticipation the entire day wondering what he had up his sleeve. I bought him a few gifts that I knew he would enjoy, new shoes and a book about art techniques, since at the time he was very into art. I also gave him a journal full of things I had written that I thought would help him get to know me better. When he finally picked me up I was in a new dress and flats. We drove to a place I had never been before, a park just 15 minutes from my house! He handed me a rose and walked me into the woods where he set up a tent and was making dinner inside. Oh my gosh, how romantic! We ate dinner and exchanged gifts and with this being the first Valentine's Day I ever really cared about, everything seemed perfect.

The next year we moved to Florida and spent Valentine's Day riding around on scooters and discovering our new city. This was its own kind of romantic. We were on a new adventure and so excited to be doing life together. To be honest I can't really remember what we did the year after that. I'm sure it involved flowers and dinner though. And this year, well, we both have to work so our Valentine's Day will probably be spent with a quick chat over the phone.

Now this isn't to depress anyone or to say that we get any less romantic as time passes. In fact, I don't think we need one day to show someone we love them or expect to be spoiled by our significant others. I can only hope that as Kristian and I get older and things continue to change, we still remind each other everyday how much we love each other. As cheesy as it may sound, I hope that we don't ever need Valentine's Day to celebrate each other. Don't get me wrong, its nice to have one day where you can say "Okay, we're going on a date, no work, no wedding planning, no chaos, just a normal dinner", but that day won't be tomorrow... and that's okay! Maybe you have lots going on, wedding plans, work, maybe kids, but whatever the busy circumstance take a minute each day and let the people you love know that. Life is too short to wait for one day a year to make someone feel special. Surprise your husband with a new watch (or new lingerie) any old day! Give your boyfriend that x-box game he's been asking for... I know it'll take away from your "quality time" together, but lets be honest, he stops listening after the first 10 minutes of your story anyway. Splurge on any random day of the week and just see how it changes the mood of the relationship. Even if you are a roses and chocolates kind of girl, the more time you spend figuring out nice things for your man, the more he'll actually think about getting things you like. Not that that's the point... but hey, it doesn't hurt.

Valentine For One?

He loves me, he loves me not.  He loves me, he loves me not.  How many times have we pondered that thought  in our head over and over?  We wrestle with the thought trying to dismiss it until finally, the dreaded day comes….Valentines!  Ugh!  The answer we dreaded the most pierces our hearts as the 14th arrives and our prince charming has still not called.  To make matters worse we are forced to bare all the commercials and red and pink hearts at every turn that all seem to be screaming, ‘Where’s your date girl?”  Well, who said Valentines just had to be for couples or just about romantic love? When I was single, I found the best way to beat the Valentines blues was to hang out with my girlfriends.  And you know what?  I love my girlfriends!  They were and still are at times the best date I have all week!  Great girlfriends are the best Valentines gift a girl can ever have.  So, if this Valentines your find yourself repeating the phrase, “He loves me, he loves me not,” throw away that old flower and ditch the table for one.  Instead, make room at the table for as many as you want by planning a fun night out with the girls.  Here’s some great ways to feel the love on Valentines.

*Dancing!  Valentines is a great night to put on your favorite red dress and head out for a night of dancing with the girls.  The guys will all wonder, “Why doesn’t he love her?  She’s hot!”  Plus, dancing the night away with great friends is always a blast!

*Spa Day/Weekends is one of the best ways to say, “I love you!”  Pamper yourself with a great mani/pedi, Swedish massage or facial.  Heck, try all the above!  It’s better than a box of chocolates!  Girl spa days refresh the mind and heart!

*Fancy dinners aren’t just for couples.  Make reservations at one of your favorite restaurants for all your girls and enjoy!

*Plan a cozy night in watching chick-flicks.  Watching chick-flicks with the girls you don’t have to worry if they see you cry, laugh at cheesy jokes or be irritated with all of those never-ending sighs that always seem to come from a bored date.

So girls, get up and set a table for a lot more than one this Valentines.  You’re worth it!  Don’t let ridiculous advertisement with red hearts yell louder than you.  Shout back “I’m single, I’m sassy and I’m fun!”

Happy Valentines, girl!

Simply Strawberry Valentine Cupcakes

If you're looking for a "hit" at home, work or party, this recipe is it! People will beg for you to share your secret. The following recipe is a shortened version from Cupcakes from the Cake Doctor by Anne Byrn. Mix the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Blend with an electric mixer and pour 1/3c. batter  into cupcake liner and bake for 20-25 min. @ 350.

  • 1 pkg. (18.25 oz) plain white cake mix
  • 1 pkg. (3 oz) strawberry gelatin
  • 1 c. finely chopped fresh strawberries with juice, from 11/2c. whole berries
  • 3/4c. milk
  • 3/4c. vegetable oil
  • 4 large  eggs

Prepare Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • ¾ cup fresh ripe strawberries, rinsed, capped, and mashed to make ½ cup, then drained well
  • ½ cup frozen unsweetened grated coconut, thawed
  • ½ cup of chopped pecans

Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the sugar and drained strawberries.  Blend the frosting on low until the sugar has been incorporated.  Then raise the speed to medium and mix the frosting another minute or until the frosting lightens and is well combined.

Frost those pink babies and enjoy!!

Sprinkle your Valentine's date

Everyone loves sprinkles. Sprinkles on cupcakes. Sprinkles on cookies. Sprinkles are a universal love language wherever you find them. Yum. They make you smile, don’t they? Kindness is a universal love language as well, no doubt. Yes, even with men. Never underestimate the impact of kindness, especially when delivered from a confident, powerful, and feminine woman. This Valentines Day, try one, two, or a dozen simple thoughtful ideas that ooze kindness and caring compassion to melt the heart of the man in your life (or the one you want in your life). Notes. From a long love letter, to a simple card, to a series of small notes scattered about, written notes can touch his soul. Tell him what it is that you like, love and admire about him- his personality, values, little oddities, likes and dislikes. Tell him how much you appreciate what he does on a daily basis or maybe something big over the course of your relationship. What does his soul possess that you are grateful for?

* I love the way you look in a white t-shirt, blue jeans and Frye boots. * It’s so cool that you love to build things. * I really appreciate it that you make coffee every single morning, and never complain about it. * Your curiosity about life and learning new things really makes me smile.

Actions. Think about his favorite things in life and pick one, two or a dozen to incorporate into his day. What is his favorite food, candy, or drink? What is his favorite pastime? Maybe it’s a thumb’s up to a hunting weekend, a Vegas weekend or night out with the boys. Which outfit does he love you on the best- that extra short little black dress with those uncomfortable stilettos? Maybe it’s the racy lingerie instead of the sweet cute ones? How does he like your makeup and hair- curly or straight, smoky eyes or au natural? Put away those frumpy sweat pants, shave, wax, and paint your toes (and not blue, unless that really makes him smile).

Don’t let your man’s tough exterior fool you. All men are little boys deep inside who absolutely love (and dare I say, even, need….) the caring, thoughtful, and gracious touch from the woman in their life. Don’t be skimpy. Would you rather get 3 roses or two dozen?

Let kindness sprinkle your Valentine’s date, and entire day this year, whether you cook a foodie feast of all his favorites or let him take you out to a fancy dinner and dancing, to putting together a creative scavenger hunt through out town to even snuggling up and having a non-traditional evening in, being cozy, ordering pizza, and watching a movie. One of my most favorite Valentines was skipping the fancy dinner and having a hamburger at Hut’s Hamburgers (a beloved, funky dive in Austin, Texas). It was oddly intimate and a whole lot of fun!

Kindness will make whatever you do- traditional or out-of-the-box, an extra special event that he won’t forget. Neither will you. Everyone loves sprinkles. Happy Valentine's Day!