Valentine's Day

First Friday: Everyday Love

elove Once upon a time, I thought that married love would be all flowers and chocolate and candlelight. I just knew that the perfect man would sweep me off my feet and provide me with a lifetime of romantic gestures and happily-ever-afters. But then I actually got married.

And aside from the chocolate part (my love has that DOWN, y’all,) our love story has been an unexpected one.

We’ve shouldered hard things. Really hard things. So much so that I often wonder if we are screwing up in the “teaching our kids what married love should be” department.

But then something happens that suggests otherwise and I realize once again, that our love is different than most fairy tales but it is love, just the same.

Take for instance two weeks ago, when my husband was out-of-town and I had four kids and a mama puking all week. It was full-on heinous. But even in the middle of the roughest rough, I saw what kind of love story is written when you push through the tough stuff together.

We had finally reached bedtime after a blessedly long day when my 9-year-old came into my bedroom with a pillow and blanket and said, “I am going to sleep with you tonight so I can help you with Maddie…”

Quickly I answered her with, “Oh, honey, you don’t need to do that…you are still sick too and I want you to get some good rest…”

“Mom, Dad is gone and you need help. I am sleeping here.”

Bless it if this child is not president someday.


So I acquiesced and went into the bathroom to change into my pajamas. When I came out, I nearly burst into tears. My girl had made the bed just the way Nathan makes it every night, with pillows to prop up my arthritic knees and two others with just the right squishiness to cradle my shoulders and neck.

But then I noticed the clean bottles by the bassinet and the ice water on the nightstand…

And that’s when I blubbered. Full-on blubbered. For she knew exactly how much I was loved.

She knew.

Even though there were rarely flowers and candlelight. Even though we went to the hospital more than we went on getaways. Even though we bought birthday cards the day of and going out to dinner often meant carryout in bed.

She knew and saw love. Consistent and constant, everyday love. Couple that with her precious heart and I was undone. Completely undone.

For I was reminded once again of another love story, the one where a perfect Savior has consistently and constantly shouldered the really hard things with me. And I fell in love all over again. With him and Him.

Because flowers and candlelight are lovely, but the best kind of love is the one that shows up.

In the mundane…

In the tough stuff...

In the tears…

Everyday love trumps it all.

Sara Cormany guest posts on the first Friday of each month. Sara is mommy to six-year-old Grace, four-year-old Drew, one-year-old Sophie, and her new little miracle Maddie.  When she is not wiping noses, changing diapers or chasing her kids, she is a sometimes writer and a sometimes teacher to teenagers.  But her most cherished role is that of one who is perfectly held by Jesus. She loves watching Him take the broken, the messy and the seemingly mundane of her everyday and turn it into something beautiful. She recently began her own blog called Where Feet May Fail. Be sure to check it out.





Focusing on True Love

Gods love Valentine's Day is coming. Take advantage of the moment to use some of these ideas from the archives to help your kids understand God's love.

We throw around the word “love” a lot. We love pizza. We love our sports teams. We love our families. We love God. I’m pretty sure most of us love our families and God more than we love pizza, yet the English language makes no distinction between the two. We use the same word for both. Because of that, I think we sometimes miss the boat on how much God loves us. We hear the words, “God loves you,” and we think, “That’s nice,” and go on with our day.

It’s not just “nice” that God loves us. It’s amazing. It’s awe-inspiring. It’s unbelievable. It’s humbling.

The God who created the universe loves us simply because we exist. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die in our place. The Bible tells us that the punishment for sin (disobeying God) is death (being separated from God forever). God loves us and wants us to be near Him so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son to make that happen.

There’s no word in our language that can describe that kind of love. It’s nearly too big for us to wrap our little human brains around. Yet, too many times, we turn our backs on that love or we fail to appreciate it. God asks us to draw near to Him because He loves us, yet many times we choose to walk alone. He asks us to follow His commands because He loves us, but we often turn away to follow our own path. He asks us to join Him in His work, yet we get too caught up in our own work.

God’s love is a lot of things that human love is not. It is unfailing, never-ending, unconditional and all-encompassing. It fills us up and comforts us. It allows Him to rejoice with us and wrap us in His loving arms when things go wrong. Psalm 86:15 says, “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” God is abounding in this love. That means He has more than enough to go around — enough for all of us.

We’re going to hear a  lot about love in the next week. Valentine’s Day is coming, and we will become persuaded that true love is expressed with candy and flowers. We’ll measure love by what we get and how it is expressed by others. Take advantage of these “Valentine’s moments” and help your kids understand the difference between God’s love and human love.

  • Ask your kids to give you a list of ways that we show love to each other. Read John 3:16 with your kids. Ask them how God showed His love for us. Compare that to how we show love to each other. Ask your kids which type of love they think is greater.
  • Make a list with your kids of things that they “love.” Talk about how the word “love” sometimes means “really like.” Explain that we don’t want to confuse our love for pizza with how God loves us. Talk about how God’s love is so much more than any words can describe. Use 1 Corinthians 13 as a guide for what God’s love looks like.
  • Place some candy hearts in a dish on the table. Have each child grab a handful. For each heart, your child chose, have him list one way he knows that God loves him.

It’s easy to forget that God’s love is so much bigger, so much stronger and so much better than any other kind of love. Use the next few days to remind your family that God’s love is everything we’ll ever need.

Love is...


Today is Valentine's Day, the day we celebrate love. There will be chocolates and flowers. You'll probably give your kids a little something to remind them that you love them today.

As we celebrate love today, it's a good time to show and talk with our kids about what love really looks like. Unfortunately, the world has distorted what God intended love to be. We're constantly bombarded with the idea that love is a feeling -- that we can fall in and out of love, but that's simply not true. Love is a choice -- every day, sometimes every moment, and our kids need to know that.

True love has certain characteristics. Use Valentine's Day to talk with your kids about those characteristics. Begin teaching them what true love looks like, so they'll know it when they see it and not fall for the false version the world wants them to have.

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

Love does not envy.

Love does not boast.

Love is not proud.

Love does not dishonor others.

Love is not self-seeking.

Love is not easily angered.

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects.

Love always trusts.

Love always hopes.

Love always perseveres.

Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Kids Need Love

Today is Valentine's Day -- a day devoted to celebrating love. The longer I'm a parent and the more time I spend with kids of all ages, the more convinced I am that love is the most important thing to kids. They need to know for certain that God loves them and that their parents love them. They need to know that no matter what they do, both of those things will always be true. Last week, we talked about how to create Valentine's moments that help our kids to see how much God loves them. Today, I want to encourage you to use the day to show your kids how much you love them.

To best show love to our kids, we have to understand what says love to them. My girls are really different from each other in the ways they need to be shown love. My youngest needs to be touched. She wants to be hugged and snuggled. When she's feeling down or frustrated, she needs to be wrapped up in someone's arms and reassured that she is loved. My oldest, on the other hand, has never been much of a cuddler. Even when she was a baby, she wanted to be left alone. Too much cuddling would send her into a screaming fit. My oldest feels loved when you praise her and when you spend time with her.

Every kid is different in what they need to feel loved. If you haven't figured out what actions make your child feel most loved, check out The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman. This is a great book that will help you determine the things that make your kids feel loved. Along with the book, talk with your kids about the things that you do that make them feel loved. You might be surprised to find out that something small can make a big difference. For example, my youngest loves it when I have a "special snack" ready for her when she comes home from school. It's a little thing, but it says to her that I love her.

Celebrate your love for your kids today. Even if you have plans for the evening with your spouse or significant other, make time in your day to make sure your kids feel loved. Choose to do something for each child that specifically meets that child's needs. Consider these ideas:

  • Make a special meal for your kids. If you have a child who likes to cook, let them help you prepare it.
  • Surprise your kids by taking them lunch.
  • Set aside time to spend doing something your child chooses -- even if it's not your favorite thing to do.
  • Get a few small, inexpensive gifts and hide them around the house for your child to find. Mark them with hearts so your kids know they are loved when they find them.
  • Put everything aside and sit on the couch and talk with your child. Let your child tell you all about his day without you being distracted.
  • Declare today a hug day. Give your child a hug every time you see them.

It's important for our kids to know they are loved, and we need to show that in whatever fashion our kids need most. Jesus told us "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34). He shows His love to each of us in the way we most need it. Some of us need to read it, some of us need a friend to be "God with skin on" and some of us need to hear Him speak to us. No matter how we need to be loved, Jesus loves us that way. We need to do the same for our kids.

Find the best way to show your love for your kids. Spend some time on this day that we celebrate love to make your kids feel loved. You won't regret the time spent.

Linking up today with Time-Warp WifeGrowing Home and A Pause on the Path.

Friday Introductions: Inspired By Family

All week we've been looking at the characteristics of God's love. We've learned that God's love is unconditional, everlasting, and bigger than we can imagine. But you know what else God's love is? It's useful.

God loves us in a way that lets us fill ourselves up with His love. His love offers us strength and comfort. It allows us to love others, even when they are unloveable.

As parents, our first reaction might be to let God fill us up with His love, so we can love our children. And we certainly need that. But if you're married, the best thing you can do for your children is to allow God's love to fill you up so you can love your spouse.

Let's face it, we all go into marriage with some unrealistic expectations of the fairy tale that it is going to be. But marriage is hard work. It may be the hardest thing you'll ever do in your life. Waking up every morning and loving the same person for decades takes dedication, perseverance and forgiveness. Some days it takes more than we have to give. Only when we let God fill us up with His love can we continue to love our spouses the way God tells us we should.

Sometimes the bumps in the road of marriage are more than bumps -- they're mountains. We don't think we can take another step. That's when God's love and strength come in. That's when He provides what we can no longer conjure up on our own. 1 Corinthians 12:9 says "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'” It's when we are at our lowest point that God is at His strongest. When we have nothing left to give to our spouse, God can step in and provide the love, compassion and even forgiveness that we need.

If you're in need of some of that strength right now, check out the great series going on over at Inspired by Family, Loving Your Man When it Hurts. Six women are sharing their stories of how God worked in their marriages. When those bumps became mountains, God showed up. Let their stories encourage you if you've hit a rough patch with your spouse. God cares, and He shows up in the tough moments to provide everything you need to make it up the mountain and down the other side.

While you're there, check out Inspired by Family's other great posts, as well. From recipes to crafts to encouragement for moms, this site has something for everyone. Check it out and let Mari know you popped over from Everyday Truth.

As we finish off this weeklong series on God's love, remember that God's love is powerful. It can mend hurts, offer forgiveness and heal wounds. His love is all we need to make it through this journey of life.

Unconditional Love

I like to think I love my kids unconditionally.

But I don't.

I love them the best way that I can.

But there are moments.

Moments when disappointment overwhelms love. Moments when anger pushes love to the side. Moments when the desire for just 30 seconds to myself becomes the driving force in my life.

I love my kids more than life, but I have moments. We all do.

God doesn't have moments.

He loves us unconditionally.

All. The. Time.

Frustration and discouragement never push His love aside. Anger never overpowers His love. He never wants 30 seconds alone more than He wants 30 seconds with you.

He loves us when we walk with Him and when we're far away. He loves us when we obey and when we don't. He loves us without condition.


God loves us and asks for nothing in return. Even if we go through our entire lives never turning to Him, never believing in Him, He loves us.

He loves us so much that He sent His son to die for us. Even if we never acknowledge the sacrifice.

No matter what we do, God never turns away. He never gives up waiting for us to run into His arms. He never stops loving us.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthian 13:4-8

God's love doesn't come with a list of rules. It doesn't come with conditions.

It comes with grace and compassion. It comes with no strings attached.

I'm a failure at unconditional love. But God's love never fails.

Join us all week as we talk about God’s love, and how you can create “Valentine’s moments” with your kids that help them understand God’s love.

Linking up today with Women Living Well  and Your Thriving Family.


Big Love

When my girls were little, they loved the book Guess How Much I Love You. It's the story of a mommy rabbit and her child. Each night they tell each other how much they love each other, each trying to outdo the other one. It finally ends with the baby rabbit saying, "I love you to the moon" and falling asleep. After he's asleep, the mommy rabbit says, "I love you to the moon -- and back." I must have read that story hundreds of times.

I think the reason kids love Guess How Much I Love You so much is because it gives really good examples of how big love can be. It starts with the child and mommy rabbits stretching out their arms, and saying "I love you this much." Each time they say something, the distance gets farther and farther away -- until they end at the moon. The message of the book is that a mom's love is bigger than a child can fathom.

We all have a yearning to be loved in a big way. We make choices -- good and bad -- based on our desire to be loved. We have a hole in our hearts that desperately needs to be filled with love. Yet, no matter how much our families love us, no matter how much our friends love us and no matter how much public adoration we get, that hole remains. We can try to stuff all sorts of other things in that hole, but the only thing big enough to fill it up is God's love. Everything else is just a poor substitute.

We don't often think about God's love being big. We think about it being unconditional or everlasting, but big is not an adjective that often comes to mind. Yet His love is big -- it's the biggest love there is. It can't be contained, and it covers everyone. God doesn't just love us "to the moon -- and back." He loves us beyond the edge of the galaxy -- and back. Psalm 57:10 says "For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies." God's love is bigger than we can imagine. Ephesians 3:17-18 tells us that unless we are planted in that love, we'll never know how big it is. "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."

Helping our kids grasp how big God's love is can give them a better sense of how much God truly loves them.

  • Ask your kids to give you examples of how people show love to each other, especially at Valentine's Day. Talk about how big they think someone's love for another has to be to show love in certain ways. For example, you may love your friend who sits with you at school, and to show them love you might share your pencil or invite them over. That's different from how you might show love to a parent or sibling. Talk about how God shows His love for us. Discuss how big God's love must be for us to have sent His Son to die for us.
  • Get three or four boxes of differing sizes. Ask your kids to label the biggest box with the name(s) of the person or people who they think love them the most. Continue down the line to the smallest box. You don't have to use names for this exercise. Think more along the lines of categories of people. When your kids are done, ask them how they made their decisions about how big each person's love for them is. Explain that God's love for us is so big, it won't fit in a box. Talk about how we can tell God's love is that big. Help your kids to think of examples of how God's love shows up in their lives.
  • Put a big heart on the wall or draw one on a dry erase board. Label it "God's Big Love." At the end of the day, ask your family to write down in the heart ways God showed His love for them today. Help your kids compare God's love and how He shows it to how we show love to others.

God's love is big. It's so big that it covers all of us. Even better, it's so big it covers all of our sins. Too often we shrink God's love down to fit in a small box, but God's love can't be contained. It's bigger than we can ever imagine. It's more all-encompassing than anything our brains can fathom. God loves you this much -- the distance between two nail-scarred hands.

Join us all week as we talk about God’s love, and how you can create “Valentine’s moments” with your kids that help them understand God’s love.

Linking up today with {Titus 2}sdays , Beholding Glory and On Your Heart Tuesdays.