Friday, February 26, 2016

Love

Free Printable
As February, the month of love, nears to a close, I have been studying the topic of love. Valentines Day has come and gone, but what do I really know and understand about love? More importantly, how well do I actually live out love? The Bible has a lot to say about love, and I have a lot to learn. Something as elementary as love, seems like a no-brainer, at times. We love our family, our spouse, our kids, our friends. I love Jesus, and He is the greatest example of real love, in all of history. There is so much more to it than that.

1 Corinthians 13 is known as "the love chapter". It's probably the most popular passage quoted and read at weddings. But do we really grasp the magnitude of what those 13 verses tell us? It's not just a recipe for a happy marriage. It's a recipe for life. At the end of every day, what it all boils down to, is how well I loved, or didn't love. Whatever I do, no matter how good my intentions are, if it's done without love, I might as well have not done it at all. 

1 Corinthians 13 is a pretty amazing list of what love is and isn't. Immediately I realize how much my heart needs to adhere to this list more closely. 

Love suffers long and is kind. 

Love does not envy.

Love does not parade itself. 

Is not puffed up.

Does not behave rudely. 

Does not seek its own. 

Is not provoked. 

Thinks no evil. 

Does not rejoice in iniquity (sin), but rejoices in the truth. 

Bears all things.

Believes all things.

Hopes all things.

Endures all things. 

Love never fails. 

Never fails. It almost seems like an impossible standard to live up to. In fact, it is an impossible standard to live up to - on our own. Have you ever read 1 Corinthians 13 and thought to yourself, I'm going to do that! That's how I want to be! Or am I the only one? And then, less than an hour later, you find yourself snapping at your husband over something trivial, or selfishly thinking about what YOU want, or just behaving less-than-lovely? Why are we so quick to forget? I don't know about you, but for me, love doesn't always come naturally. I often feel like it shouldn't be so difficult, but my heart is filled with selfishness and thoughts of me, me, me. Self. Pride.

When I started thinking about the topic of God's love and reading more about it, I kept running into the same verses, in random places, in the same week. Coincidence? Not likely. I always know when God is trying to press something on my heart when the same themes keep showing up, over and over. I love when that happens.

One of those examples is 1 Corinthians 13:12, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." This verse has always seemed a little unclear to me. But it makes complete sense. The light bulb went off in my head. My whole why-can't-I-just-be-more-loving way of thinking is for a reason. When we look in a mirror, we only see part of the picture and portions of our reflection. It's a pretty close representation of reality, but it's not a real, living, breathing, thing. The love that we experience here on earth, as wonderful and inspiring as it may be, or as disappointing and flawed as it may be, is only a dim reflection of the magnitude of God's perfect, all-encompassing, overpowering, beautiful, true love. Even our best efforts to "love better" will always fall short. But not God's love. The way he designed real love, never fails. Never. 

1 John 4:8 says, "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." I think the first Bible verse I ever learned as a child was, "God is love." So simple, yet so profound. God IS love. Love IS God. We will never be capable of fully loving the way that God intended, until we are in Heaven, with Him, face to face. For now, He's given us just a glimpse of what love is about, and shown us the greatest Gift of love, through Jesus Christ, His Son.

So, what can I do now to be a more loving person? 1 Corinthians 13 is an excellent guide. We should cling to these love attributes and strive to live them out in everything we do. Bearing, believing, hoping and enduring all things. ALL things. Will we fail? Of course. Will we mess up and be unloving at times? Yes. Will envy and selfishness creep in, sooner than we'd like? Unfortunately, so. BUT, we serve the God of the universe who created love and who IS love, and HE never fails. Ever. It's only through HIM can we learn what love is, and try to reflect His love to the world around us. 

Next time you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror, remember that we are reflecting His love. And one day, we will see the whole beautiful picture and feel love like we've never known. 

You're welcome to save and share the free "Love Never Fails" printable above. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

First Birthday Party


We celebrated our little Marshall turning ONE with a party at our home. I was so excited to plan his first birthday party! It was a lot of fun choosing a theme, making decorations, planning the menu and assembling favors and treat bags. Our guests and the kids all seemed to have a great time! We are so grateful and blessed by the love, thoughtfulness and generosity of our family and friends, some of whom traveled quite a distance, in not-good weather, to make our little boy's day extra special. Marshall is blessed, indeed!


I admit, I was initially a little disappointed that Marshall's birthday falls in the coldest month of the year, around here! The day of his party was no exception - below zero temperatures and lots of snow. BUT, he is our ray of sunshine and warms our hearts, everyday. So, I decided to go with a forest and winter woods theme. Marshall loves being outside, and it seemed like a natural choice. Trees, sticks, pine cones, wood - very boyish! I was especially excited to design his invitation and printed it on natural brown paper. 





The treats table was my favorite part! Pretzel "sticks", chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, popcorn, and chocolate number ones on a stick. My father-in-law cut all of the wooden discs for me to display food and use as centerpieces on the tables. Aren't they great!? They were exactly what I had imagined. And I don't think he minded the opportunity to use his chainsaw :) 


A lot of the decorations were "free." Marshall and I gathered pine cones and acorns on many of our walks together, and there was no shortage of sticks in our yard. I wrapped and glued twine to vases and jars that I already had. I had a collection of burlap runners from previous parties (you can never go wrong with burlap!). Conveniently, I was able to snag some little pine trees and additional pine cone garland on clearance after Christmas. I was also excited to display Marshall's completed photo series. I am so glad I did this. It's really amazing to look at his growth each month!



I used brown paper lunch bags for favors, and decorated them each with personalized initials cut from scrapbook paper. I also wrote each name and stamped "thank you" on the bottom of the bags. Inside was a coloring activity pack with crayons and stickers, a bouncy ball, a twisty straw, bubbles and fruit snacks. They were a hit! 



Marshall had so much fun playing with friends and opening gifts! 


And of course, eating his cupcake! He was all smiles when we sang "Happy Birthday" to him.


What a memorable day! Thank you to everyone for making is so special. We love you, Marshall, and can't wait to see everything you do in your second year.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Marshall's First Birthday!


Happy FIRST birthday to our sweet, lovable, wonderful baby boy, Marshall!

I cannot believe that a whole year has gone by. From the moment you entered our lives, we have loved you with more love than we knew was possible. It is a joy to take care of you and watch you grow and we're so thankful you're ours! 

Happy birthday, sweet boy. You are precious and special and funny and more wonderful than we ever could have imagined. We love with all our hearts! 

I was so excited to see Marshall's monthly photo project come together! It's amazing to see the transformation from 1 to 12 months. What a difference a year makes. 

I plan on taking more photos to document his "official" one year, but the last photo was taken this morning, on his true birthday. The party hat didn't last very long!