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.

 

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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.

 

It’s my pleasure to welcome Christina Hubbard to the blog today. Christina is a member of the Five Minute Friday community, and she recently released a new e-book, called Five Ways to Love Like You Mean It.

Today she’s sharing three habits that have helped her to love more lavishly. You can find Christina at her blog, and on Twitter @Creatively_Free.

 

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There’s a limit to my love.

I always see it in the lack of gummy worms on my frozen yogurt at our local self-serve dessert dive. My kids, on the other hand, do their dishes up right with piles of waffle cone bits, whipped cream, and cherries.

They seize the moment to fill up on every sweet thing, as kids will do because they know how good a little extra on top makes us feel. They understand something wonderful about the limitless way God wants us to experience life, a secret I often forget.

On a recent afternoon, I found myself standing between the terrific choice of sweet cream and strawberry yogurt. The kids heaped their cups full of Heath bar chunks, goji berries, and sprinkles at the all-you-can-eat candy smorgasbord.

“Look, Mom! I’m getting strawberries! That’s healthy.” Kyle proudly showed me his creation. He saw how my shoulders slumped and my eyes flashed, “Too much.”

The cashier measured ounces of chocolate, cinnamon, cupcake, and raspberry swirls. Dollops of Hershey bar, Heath bar chunks, peanut butter cup, and gummy worms practically fell onto the silver scale.

“That’ll be $19.09,” the cashier said. I picked my jaw up off the floor and paid up. I looked at my bowl, so conservative and neat with just enough berries for a bird.

The difference of a few dollars shouldn’t have mattered so much, but I saw how the family behind us paid $11 for three cups. I couldn’t let it go.

I peered at the other family’s half-filled cups and back at the kids’ dishes exploding with color. I sighed heavily.

“Guys, you can’t eat that much.” The scolding exited my lips before I could repent.

“Sorry, Mom,” my daughter said sheepishly. “We promise we won’t do it again.” She couldn’t hide her grin, the joy gleaming behind her apology. Oh, how a limitless gift of sugar can thrill a little girl’s soul.

For days, I wondered why I had such a hard time letting go of a few bucks for my kids. Maybe I was a sugar control freak or a tyrant of food waste.

 

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” -1 John 3:1 NIV

 

I had failed to remember the two best reasons in the world a mother has to splurge. How it is a privilege to show my kids they are loved beyond comparison with an extravagant treat. Later I apologized to the kids and resolved to look for more opportunities to share the limitless affection of the Father, whose love breaks the scale every time.

 

God's love breaks the scale every time.

 

 

What this world needs more than limits is the excessive sharing of God’s love. Unexpected, extravagant, and abundantly sweet. I’m talking about a lavish love so over-the-top, it makes people wonder, “Why are you doing this for me?” That’s the secret to the kind of love that captures the very heart of God: like the richest chocolate or a dish of frozen yogurt with the works.

Here are three practices that help me love without bounds:

  • Doing what the other person chooses. I always gain a lesson in selflessness with this one.

  • Sharing something I hold dear.

  • Giving out of the ordinary. (Ice cream after school, an unexpected gift, a surprise phone call.)

 

 

It’s always worth the cost to lavish others with the Father’s love. Even if it means paying for a few extra gummy worms.

 

How did you feel the last time someone loved you with a little extra on top?

 

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Check out my new e-book for more great ideas to love people better: 5 Ways To Love Like You Mean It.

 

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Christina Hubbard is a writer and poet who shares about identity, worth, and the creative process to help others find God’s imagination in their own lives. She loves her motley tribe by reading great books together, making wonderful messes, and giving them plenty of space to run free on the suburban prairie of Kansas. Connect with her at http://www.creativeandfree.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Ooh, I love your dress!”

“I love rainy days.”

“Don’t you just love her hair?”

“I loved your blog post!”

“Chocolate is my love language.”

Do you ever get tired of it? This word that is used and somewhat abused, over and over and over again in pretty much any and every context imaginable?

I can hardly point any fingers. I’m guilty as charged. I use the word “love” way. too. much.

So much that it loses its meaning? Its depth? Its sincerity?

The media has certainly succeeded in diminishing its meaning, if our own daily language usage hasn’t.

We can hardly turn on the TV without being bombarded by so-called love stories and scenes.

The truth is, love sells.

But at what cost?

In spite of its profuse appearances in a multitude of forms in our language, online and in the media, the vast majority of these expressions will pass away.

Only one will remain, for “the grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

Do you want to know what love is?

 

Love {Day 7}

 

 

This is Day 7 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes. Check out the other posts in this series by clicking here.

 

Five months ago, our little family of five crammed our most precious earthly possessions into twelve overstuffed suitcases, and traipsed across the Atlantic.  In a manner of speaking, that is.

To many, twelve bags weighing fifty pounds each may sound like a whole lotta stuff.  And it is.  I agree.

And yet, there remain other things, little things, things that didn’t make the cut when the bags were zipped for the umpteenth and final time.  Things I didn’t think I would miss, but I do.

During the ten years I spent living in South Africa before moving back to the States, I grew to love so much about that beautiful, diverse land.  The hikes up Table Mountain and Lion’s Head.  The orange sun slipping below the horizon at Camps Bay beach, with the Twelve Apostles as a cloak over the shoulders.

Those are some of the big things.

But then there are the little things. Image

Like Rooibos.

Literally ‘red bush’ tea, I had my cup down to a ‘T’ … pun intended.  Sage-colored mug, about an inch worth of milk on the bottom, one semi-heaped spoon of sugar, microwaved for forty-six seconds while the electric kettle boiled.  Insert sweet-scented bag of Rooibos, pour in boiling water, and there you have it.

Comfort in a cup.

Yet somehow, those square sachets of comfort didn’t find their way into my backpack at the final boarding call.

Fast forward a few weeks.

We were in a new church in the States, surrounded by freshly acquainted faces.  One of the dear congregants, herself familiar with South Africa, took my wrist after the evening service, placed a palm-sized packet into my hand, and wrapped my fingers around it.

Somewhat bewildered, I looked down, loosened my grasp, and couldn’t believe my eyes.

Resting in my palm was a bag of Rooibos tea.

Having lived in multiple countries herself, the woman who bestowed this nugget of gold upon me knew what it was like.

She understood. 

And with a token as tiny as a tea bag, she had shown me love.

That evening, I clasped my left hand around the prized treasure, and slipped it into the pocket of my black pea coat.

And to this day, there the tea bag remains.

I could have savored it, steeped in a mug of steaming water and hot milk.

But instead, I keep it in my pocket. 

And every time I reach my hand into that left pocket of my pea coat, I am reminded of warmth – a warmth that is greater and longer-lasting than that of a recently consumed cup of tea.

It is the warmth of a sister in Christ, reaching out to wrap my hand around a token of kindness and compassion.

It is the warmth of God himself, using the ‘little things,’ the things that didn’t get packed, the tea-bag-sized glimpses, to remind me of His everlasting grace, kindness and love.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

~ Jeremiah 31:3b