It’s the morning after Valentine’s Day, and some single women and even couples are waking up with the lingering hangover of disappointment, crumpled tissues littering the floor next to the bed and swollen eye bags greeting them in the bathroom mirror.

But it’s not only the single ladies waking up to a clouded dawn of disappointment. A handful of wives threw away all hopes of a romantic evening with the middle-of-the-night dirty diaper.

Three years ago was my tenth married Valentine’s Day, and per my request, I opted to spend it at home with a few single girls from church. My husband was laboring late into the night, and would only get home after the kids had to be tucked into bed.

As we sat around the table laughing and playing games, my attention kept shifting to my watch, as the minutes ticked later and later into the darkness. Eventually I picked up the phone to call my husband, as I expected him to be home much sooner from work. Much to my surprise, he was at the store, looking for the toilet paper I had asked him to buy.

 

love

 

Husbands who love their wives like Christ loves the Church might take their brides out for a candlelight dinner. But they might show the extent of their love by scouring the aisles of the grocery store for the right brand of toilet paper after working late on a Friday night in the middle of a freezing cold winter.

The world will tell us that love looks like chocolate and roses. God says that husbands ought to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Christ didn’t show His love for His bride with chocolate and scattered rose petals. He demonstrated His love through the ultimate sacrifice — Himself.

Men who love Christ and seek to imitate Him will go beyond the champagne and candles. They will show their love by imitating their Master, who laid down His life for His bride.

And sometimes that looks a lot like buying toilet paper.

 

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, my hunch is that deep down, you long for connection. Maybe even crave it.

Am I right?

The reason I can say I’m pretty sure this is true about you is because I know where you come from. I know who made you, and how He did it.

What does this have to do with craving connection? Well, this creator God exists as three persons in one being—a holy trinity. He has perfect fellowship within Himself, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and like I said above, He created you in His image.

We’re designed for fellowship. For connection—with God, with friends, and with community.

 

Join me over at iBelieve for the rest of this article on

How to Cultivate the Connection You Crave

 

And guess what?

The community at (in)courage is hosting 5 Weeks of Craving Connection Challenges, and you’re invited!

connection
Photo credit: incourage.me

Join (in)courage for 5 Weeks of Craving Connection Challenges!

From the (in)courage website:

For five weeks we are inviting you to join us in completing challenges described in Craving Connection. Starting next Tuesday, February 7, we will share an excerpt from a chapter in the book, as well as some discussion questions and the challenge for that week. We’ll ask you to complete the challenge by Friday. (And, friends, we are SO EXCITED to hear how it turns out for you! We know God is going to show up big time!!) To encourage you in your weekly challenge, the author of each week’s chapter will join us every Thursday for a conversation on social media (stay tuned for info on these chats on both Facebook  and Instagram.)

Here’s the plan:

Tuesday, February 7: A Grand Blueprint for Hospitality by Jen Schmidt (page 256)
Tuesday, February 14: I Can’t Even by Amanda White (page 86)
Tuesday, February 21: A Safe Harbor by Robin Dance  (page 120)
Tuesday, February 28: He Knows and He Is Near by Eryn Hall (page 22)
Tuesday, March 7: Longing for Loyalty by Erin Mohring (page 128)
Tuesday, March 14: Time to wrap up and talk about what’s next!

There’s no need to sign up or join a group or anything, though you may want to subscribe to emails from (in)courage to be sure you don’t miss any of the posts. Just join us on the blog each Tuesday, carry out the challenge in your daily life during the week, catch a live chat with the authors each Thursday on Facebook, and know we’re here cheering you on!

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Loss

 

I’ve been celebrating Christmas without my mom since 2011.

I wish I could say it gets easier.

This year I’m tempted to go back to Mom’s church for the Christmas Eve service we attended every single year without fail. But I know I’ll never make it through without gobs of snotty tissues and red, swollen eyes, so why bother?

Let me start by saying that if there’s one thing I’ve learned about grief, it’s that it’s different for everyone. Shucks, it’s not only different from person to person, but it can be different for the same person from day to day or even hour to hour! It’s completely unpredictable.

 

 

So maybe you can relate to my experience, or maybe you’ve responded completely differently – and that’s totally fine. My reaction has bent and morphed from year to year.

But that first year, I surprised myself. After 30 years doing the same thing to celebrate the holidays, after my mom died, I didn’t want any of it. Not the music, not the lights, not the cookies. Nothing.

I completely recoiled at the thought of “celebrating” these traditions without my mom. I couldn’t bear it. It hurt too much.

My kids complained. They wanted to decorate a tree. They wanted to bake cookies. They wanted to sing Silent Night. Of course they missed their Grandma, but they didn’t realize the strong emotional tie that she had to each of those activities for me. They couldn’t understand why something like my grief would or could or should “ruin” their Christmas.

So we compromised. With some traditions that year, I simply said, “I can’t.” With others, I agreed to go through the motions, but they didn’t transpire without silent sobs and gobs of snotty, tear-stained tissues.

If you’re facing the holiday season after experiencing a loss, head over to iBelieve.com to read the rest of this article, including my six tips for facing the holidays after a loss.

 

Purchase the e-book, Letters to Grief:

Letters to Grief

 

Related post:

An Open Letter to Grief

 

 

It has been a frequent topic of conversation lately, during the drive home after school.

“But Mom, why can’t we do that? All my friends at school get to do it! It’s all they ever talk about, and it’s in my face all the time! I just don’t understand!”

I look at my daughter in the rearview mirror, and I see myself. I pause, knowing that a lecture is not what she needs in this moment of genuine frustration.

 

Thanksgiving

 

It’s one of those times when I need to take the log out of my own eye before trying to remove the speck out of hers. I tell her I understand. That I know how she feels. That I feel that way too, sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time.

As we wait for the traffic light to turn green, we talk about that vicious cycle that leads to ingratitude. Through continual experience, I’ve come to learn that thanksgiving’s greatest enemy is not simply ingratitude.

It starts much sooner than that.

It begins with negative comparison.

As soon as I start looking at what other people have that I don’t possess, I’m instantly discontent. And as soon as I’m discontent, I’m no longer grateful for what I do have. The seed is planted in the fertile soil of comparison, gets watered by discontentment and quickly sprouts into a spreading weed of ungratefulness.

It happens fast. And far too often.

Satan has been using the same trick since the beginning: “Look at what you don’t have. Doesn’t it look good?”

He said it to Eve, and he says it to me. I’d venture to guess he has said the same to you, as well. Eve looked down at her palms and saw empty hands.

Don’t we do the very same today? We look around at what others have, then we glance down at what we don’t have, and we want more. We forget that what we have in our hearts through the Lord Jesus is far more valuable than any earthly treasure.

Read the rest of this article over at iBelieve.com by clicking here.

 

homeI am Eilis from Brooklyn.

 

I wonder if the main character in the 2015 film Brooklyn would say the same about herself.

 

Would she introduce herself as Eilis from Brooklyn or Eilis from Ireland?

 

I watch her story unfold and see my own in the reflection of her eyes. I ask myself, “Am I Kate from Michigan or Kate from South Africa?”

 

I was born and raised in the small, Dutch town of Holland, Michigan. A month before I turned twenty-one, I moved to Cape Town, South Africa, for my final semester of college. What I thought would be a six-month stint turned into a ten-year transformation.

 

Eilis was born and raised in Ireland. In 1951, as a young woman living with her mother and sister, Eilis is miserable in her small, gossip-filled town. She works part-time in a shop with a terrible boss and shows no interest in any Irish boys.

 

Seeing Eilis’s despondency and bleak prospects, her sister, Rose, contacts an Irish priest named Father Flood in Brooklyn, New York, on Eilis’s behalf. With the priest’s help, Rose arranges for Eilis to make passage on a ship bound for America and work in an upscale department store in Brooklyn.

 

As I watched the immigrants gripping the ship’s railing with one hand and waving farewell with the other, my own hatred of good-byes caught hard in my throat. Family members lined the dock, stoic-faced, except for the stray tear. I swallowed hard, dozens of past airport scenes banging on the back door of my mind, demanding to come in.

 

Eilis didn’t realize it yet, but her life was about to change forever. Home, as she knew it, would never be the same.

 

Join me over at Off the Page for the rest of these reflections …

Back story: My editor at Discovery House recommended this film to me, as the themes parallel those found in my forthcoming memoir — so much so that if you want to know what my book is going to be about, just watch the movie. 🙂

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