Much like your parents attic, treasured memories lay within. So, wipe the dust off my ruminations and remembrances, sit back and enjoy!

Happy Valentine's...everyday!

Genesis 29: 16-20 ‘Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel." Laban said, "It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me." So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.’

When Jacob saw Rachel, it was love at first sight! He could not take his eyes off her. He proceeded to perform nearly superhuman feats for her benefit in hopes of capturing her heart and eventually, her hand. He agreed to work long and hard for the right to call her his wife. Even when he was tricked into marrying Leah, her older sister, he was willing to work another seven years so that Rachel could become his wife.

Today is the ‘official’ day for romance and love…Valentine’s Day. Today, all across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. Ok, my issue is this…why an official day? Don’t get me wrong, I think Valentine’s Day is fun! I get a chance to be romantic AND creative! But come on…if you have a loved one, shouldn’t you be actively looking for ways to be romantic? I’m sure most if not all of you have experienced being in love before. The excitement of the chase…the first embrace…the first kiss. I was on top of the world and everything in the world seemed to align themselves and I frequently found myself walking around with a permanent smile on my face! Over time, this ‘infatuation’ matures and a relationship usually eases into a ‘comfortable’ place. While this is a awesome place to be (being relaxed in and confident in your relationship), NEVER confuse comfortable with complacency! As couples, we need to daily keep our romantic fires stoked. This is what I’m trying to say…romance and love shouldn’t be highlighted just one day a year, we should strive to be romantic…work to be creative every day of the year! Yes, I said work! Keep in mind that as with any type of work, there will come a benefit…a harvest! In Ephesians 5:25 the bible says ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her’. Work is effort and effort requires concentration and sacrifice. Look back to Jacob, he loved Rachel so much that he sacrificed 14 years of his life and those years weren’t spent lounging around waiting for the time to pass, he worked hard! And yet…to Jacob, it only seemed like a few days! Happiness, joy and contentment are just a few of the benefits we will reap for our efforts (making your wife or husband happy will reap you even more!).

Love...love with ALL of your heart! Treat her/him like they are the MOST important person on earth...because they are! Do more than say 'I Love You'…SHOW it! 1 John 3:18 tells us, ‘Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue alone, but with actions and in truth.’ You don’t have to be extravagant, elaborate or even planned…a simple hug…time to sit on the couch without any distractions (no TV, when the kids are in bed) to talk…a back or foot rub…just be creative and your spouse will LOVE it!

I like to do little things for Lisa that she doesn’t expect. Things like doing her dishes…working on a faucet or rubbing her feet (I LOVE her feet!). None of these require a huge amount of time, effort or money, but knowing this will help her and that she will appreciate and love me for doing them, gives me joy! Speaking of Lisa, this is our first Valentine’s Day together as a couple and while we are spending it ‘physically’ apart, our hearts and minds will not be far from each other.

I love you Lisa Marie! With the wedding being just about 4 months away, I want you to know that I am looking forward with excitement and joy to the many, many years filled with being your Valentine…everyday!

Will you be mine? :)

~ V (M.L., M.W & J.E.)

What's in a Name...part deux

Thanks Hon! Thank you for sharing your heart! I really do love the times when we ‘BLOG’ together! It gives us an opportunity to show our support for each other and yet allow us to share our own point of views and feelings. I must admit, it never even crossed my mind what impact Lisa changing her last name might have on the boys and therefore the impact it would have on her! I don’t think men generally (uh oh…dangerous territory!) think about what it means to a woman, or how it makes her feel to change her name. It wasn’t my intent to not think about this from their perspective, but that’s what ended up happening. So, when this came up, I struggled with the implications of her keeping her ex-husband’s last name, what did that mean to our identity as a couple and how would that make me feel. As Lisa revealed the boy’s concerns over their identity and her own concerns over how it might effect them, God began speaking to my heart and revealed to me that the boys needed me to show them my love…they would need to see from me that everything was going to be alright and that in no way would I want to erase their identity…I would never want them to feel like they aren’t a part of our blended family. We ended up having a great discussion where we both felt free to be open and honest (always a good thing!) about how we felt about it and ended it in prayer, asking for God’s wisdom in making a decision, peace to accept that decision and guidance in how to relate that decision to all of the kids.

This got me thinking about our own identities. We have an identity with our families …with our friends…with our co-workers…even with the service repair man who fixes our cars when they breakdown. But what about our identities in Jesus?

The bible says that if you’ve placed your trust in Jesus, then you have been adopted by the Father. You are His child. He will give you His protection, provision, inheritance, His love and incredibly, His name! This is not to be taken lightly or taken for granted. It is an incredible gift, and one that Satan does not want us to be reminded of.

Because of His name and our identity in it, Ephesians 1:13 tells us, ‘…having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.’ The benefits of taking His name…belonging to God’s family and being called one of His children provides us with a sense of spiritual security much like the physical security we get by having an earthly family…

2 Chronicles 7:14 ‘If my people, who are called by my name…’

Isaiah 62:2b ‘…You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name.’

John 1:12 ‘Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’

Romans 8: 14-16 ‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, for if we suffer with Him, we will also be glorified with Him’

Ephesians 1:5 ‘He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.’

Galatians 3:26 ‘You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ.’

Galatians 4:7 ‘So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.’

1 John 3:1 ‘How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!...’

While I won’t be adopting the boys in the legal sense, as far as I’m concerned, they are part of our family and therefore, I will proudly call them my sons. I consider it a privilege and a tremendous responsibility to mentor and help raise them…one I don’t take lightly, but will approach with light-heartedness, joy and love.

…God continued to speak to me that night well after we said our good-nights. What He showed me was that Lisa’s love for me, the care she shows me and her commitment to me isn’t tied to or dependant upon a name. Whether her last name was Evans or Howard…her love will remain the same…yesterday, today and forever! And after all, that's what really matters isn't it?

~ V