The one Valentine you really need

psalm 45My fourth grade daughter tells me the news while we chatted about Valentine’s Day in the school cafeteria.  Some of the kids in her class are dating.

I leaned across the table to make sure I heard correctly.  I’d come for a casual lunch at the school, just some ‘us’ time for me and my girl.

I didn’t expect to have a panic attack with my bottle of water.

“Dating?” I ask, hoping I misheard.

“Yeah…..seems like lots of them are dating each other.  One boy gave his girlfriend a necklace already.  Another couple kissed.  On the lips.  The girls who are dating are excited to see what they get on Valentine’s Day this year.”

So it begins.  Boys and girls already coupling up.  Girls wait expectantly for the special Valentine from their fourth grade suitor, for whom dating probably means little more at this point than playground silliness, passed notes, and an occasional gift ( I hope).

No more box of 20+ Valentine’s that you sign, tear along the perforated line, and then hand out to all the classmates saying things like “U Rock” and “U R Sweet.”  These girls are looking to feel special.  They want chocolate or a flower and a hand-picked card.

I don’t even launch into my normal ‘save yourself, guard your heart, focus on God….” lecture with my daughter.  She’s heard it before.

But I want to tell her something more.

I want to tell her that without childhood flirtations and the first ‘real’ Valentines,’ long before anyone has kissed her on the lips or asked for that first date, she’s already being passionately pursued by a God who is crazy about her.

There’s something about pursuit, something about being chosen and treated special, that fills deep cavernous holes in a woman’s heart.

In her book Captivating, Stasi Eldredge says:

“We desire to possess a beauty that is worth pursuing, worth fighting for, a beauty that is core to who we truly are. We want beauty that can be seen; beauty that can be felt; beauty that affects others; a beauty all our own to unveil.”

These fourth graders are just stepping into that world of pursuit and wooing and sorting through what it means to be worth noticing, worth waiting for, worth sacrificing for, worth fighting for….just worthy.

And my girls need to know they are all that already.

We all need to know that.

So that when the world beats us down with reminders of standards we can’t meet and the girl next door makes us feel ugly and clumsy with her model-like beauty and when we’re run-down from dishes and laundry and carpools and mess . .  .we still feel that message deep down.

Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
    honor him, for he is your lord (Psalm 45:11)

You are captivating.

Covered in your toddler’s breakfast and frantic from putting your kids on the school bus? 

You are loved.  

Exhausted from the day and crashing on the sofa by 9 hoping that no one asks you for one more thing?

Deeply and truly loved.

Not only that, God pursues you.  That is always part of our Great Romance.

Stasi Eldredge reminds us that:

“The story of your life is also the story of the long and passionate pursuit of your heart by the One who knows you best and loves you most”

God doesn’t have to romance or woo us.  He could remain distant and unmoved, disappointed and disciplinary.

Yet, He bends low and tenderly calls. He watches as we trample after worldly enticements and search for worth in achievement, in status, in relationships, in looks, in Valentines and chocolate, and then He calls us back to Him time after time…..to the place where we are loved not because of what we do but because of what HE has done.

Like Hosea relentlessly chasing after his wife, the wayward Gomer, so God says:

“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
    I will lead her into the wilderness
    and speak tenderly to her.

God Himself laid aside the glories of heaven to walk among us, to live for us, to die for us, and to make a way for us to spend eternity with Him.

That’s love.  That’s pursuit in the most wildly passionate and extravagant way, more than any bouquet of flowers or Hallmark card.

 

 

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Fourteen Things I Love About You….

It started on February 1st at dinner.

We sat in our usual places with our usual place setting, but beside each plate was a construction paper heart.

Just a simple thing.  After all, I’m no Martha Stewart of crafts.  In fact, for weeks I had hunted for pre-cut paper hearts—to eliminate all use of scissors on my part, but when that failed I just piled up all the pink, red, and white construction paper we had and started making hearts myself.valentine

I kind of succeeded.

Fourteen days of hearts x 4 people = 56 hand-cut paper hearts.  Then, project complete, I laid the first heart out on the table and waited.

“What’s this?” my daughters asked and then turning it over they found the note: Fourteen things I love about you…

And there it was, the first of fourteen days’ worth of things I love about my husband and three daughters.

My middle girl figured it out first.  “You mean we will get 14 hearts with 14 things you love about us?”

Yes, baby girl.  One for each day of February until Valentine’s Day.

Soon, they were trading hearts, swapping them around the table to read what I wrote about others.  Sometimes what I said made them giggle:

How you love to laugh and tell jokes….

The way you collect fun and unique objects like your rock collection….

The way you an talk in accents and mimic characters’ voices and make funny voices of your own….

And others made them grin a little sheepishly, a little precious, a little sweet, a little blessed to know someone sees beauty in them.

You are such a good friend, kind and compassionate….023

You are so good at teaching others.  It is one of the amazing ways God has gifted you….

You are great at encouraging others and telling them that they are doing a great job….

Within a few days, I was swatting hands away from the kitchen counter before dinner.  They hovered around the kitchen, not to sneak a bite of food, but to sneak a peak at those love notes.

This joy, this privilege, this responsibility of loving these daughters of mine means I have a job, not to spoil them like unsatisfiable princesses, dooming their marriages by giving them unreasonable expectations of romance and fulfillment from their husbands.

Not that.

But this.  Telling them—you’re precious and totally loved.  I see Jesus in you and He made you beautiful and valuable.

So, don’t let your head be turned by any scruffy teenage boy who looks in your eyes for more than 2 seconds.  You’re not some cheap thrill, there for his amusement and enjoyment, available for use and abuse so he can get what he wants without giving you some basics like respect, compassion, service, self-sacrifice, commitment, honor, and the like.

You don’t need to throw away your own identity and bury your amazing self in order to get the slightest second of attention from some guy who can’t even be bothered to hold the door open for you, or call me “Yes, ma’am,” or listen to what you have to say, or put God first in his life, or make you a priority.

My girls may be so far away from middle school drama and the high school years of emotional pitfalls and relationship crises.

These lessons, though, start here and now.  Eight, six, three years old—you are a treasure.  Thirteen, eleven, eight—-you are worth God’s very best.  Sixteen, fourteen, eleven—-you deserve to be treated like a lady.

This is what you are: “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” (Colossians 3:12).

This is what we are.

So all that fulfillment we seek in habits and praise from people, from attention and temporary happiness, from worldly success and stuff—just stuff, it’s all nothing more than a pimply faced teenaged boy who doesn’t care about us at all.  It’s all just unsatisfying time-wasting and inevitable emotional vomit.

All of it.

But we’ve been given these love-notes from God:

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:16

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God…
1 John 3:1

 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—
Ephesians 2:4-5

Knowing how we are loved, knowing the price He paid and the extent of His sacrifice, reading these love notes and knowing He prizes us and treasures us,  surely then we can cease the worrying and striving and searching for fulfillment.  Surely we can trust Him.
After all, see how He loves us.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King