My husband and I went to a hotel this Valentine's Day weekend.
With all of our children.
It would be illegal in the States to have that many bodies in one hotel room.
Here--no problem. The twins shared a pack 'n play. The hotel workers slid an extra queen size mattress onto the floor for two of our boys, and a third boy took the small couch. Our daughter shared a separate room with a short-term missionary who also went with us.
That may not appear romantic, but it is the stuff love is made of.
Why did we do this?
One of our goals this year has been to involve our children in ministry. So this weekend, in preparation for the evangelistic drama our college students would be doing at the church of a pastor-friend of ours, our family went there for the weekend as a team to pass out invitations and tracts and encourage people to attend. I'm not sure if our efforts brought in any or many extra bodies for the drama, but we were blessed as we went house to house visiting members and their neighbors and meeting people in the surrounding streets.
The church members themselves did a fantastic job of inviting people: the church was packed, the singing was contagiously happy, and the drama ended with a soul-searching message.
It was a joy, all around, to see the Lord work.
But, speaking of Valentines Day. . .
What are our presuppositions about romance?
Concerts? Flowers? Chocolates? Dinner out?
I did get flowers. My husband came home late Thursday night bearing a sheath of velvety red roses. And we did eat out on Valentines' Day (with a bunch of other people). And today, while ransacking the freezer, I discovered a dark chocolate bar that our recent Singaporean visitors gave us. Now I can include chocolate on my list of Valentine's weekend treats.
So I did get most of those things, just re-packaged for a family of eight.
What did love look like to you this Valentine's Weekend?
Maybe your spouse surprised you with a weekend at a Bed and Breakfast in your dream location. Praise the Lord for that, and rejoice. Build awesome memories.
Maybe, though, your life's circumstances didn't permit that. Maybe you had a weekend of dirty diapers. Sick kids. Maybe you shared a coffee because there was no money for a candlelight dinner.
Maybe your kisses in the kitchen were interrupted by teenagers asking for the keys to the car, or by boys skateboarding right between the two of you, or by little girls chanting, "Saw you kiss!"
Maybe your spouse is with the Lord, and you took out their picture and looked at it with tears in your eyes.
Maybe you are single, and longing to be married, and you spent your weekend avoiding the Hallmark card aisles at the grocery store.
You were not gypped.
You have a good God who loves you. Every other love comes from Him. He is the foundation of all loves. And you have His love. Forever and ever. Nobody and nothing can take it away from you.
Here is what the Bible says about that love:
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What Does Love Look Like?
As far as human love. . . it doesn't come pre-packaged to suit the current cultural romantic fantasies.
It isn't one-size-fits-all. Don't be jealous if your Valentine's Day didn't look like your best friend's Valentine's Day. You wouldn't want it that way. Love is tailor-made by a loving God for each of us. Love will look different to you than it does to me.
But this is what love looked like for my husband and I this weekend:
children, sprawled all over the hotel room;
singing together in church as a family;
walking the streets of a relocation village at dusk on a Sunday afternoon, talking to people about the Lord and inviting them to church;
visiting dear friends who will be leaders for the next generation of Christian Filipinos;
watching my children fearlessly pass out tracts;
listening to those same children argue the transcending benefits of boys vs. girls in an exuberant late-night gender war;
experiencing the beyond-generous hospitality of believers and friends;
seeing gifted college students give of their time, energy, and talents for the Lord's work;
meeting brothers and sisters in Christ who are being His light in a dark place;
and, of course,
the everyday, ordinary fun of a big family serving the Lord together.
It was more beautiful than a concert. Funnier than a rom-com chick-flick. More profound than a novel.
I'm full-up of love this Valentine's Day weekend.
My husband and I try to set goals every year.
We have been doing this for at least the last year.
Actually, we have done this before, but this year we took it a twist further. We actually (ssshhh. . . this is a secret!) READ THOSE GOALS EACH MONTH.
Yes, we do.
One of our goals is to read our goals. It is listed right there on our goals printout. Can I promise you that we have actually accomplished that goal for the first 9 months of this year? I can't remember, but I think we have come really close. I know this: some years I forget our goals by February. This year they are constantly on my mind. The result? We are not accomplishing all of them, no, but we have accomplished many.
Part of anyone's success with goals relates to how realistic and attainable they are. That is a subject for a different post. But a good part of that also relates to keeping them constantly in front of us.
Anyway, one of our goals for this year is to strengthen Christian marriages. After all, strong marriages make for strong families. Strong families will result in strong churches. And strong churches can change the landscape of a country!
So we decided this year to do something really big. We are renting the Araneta Coliseum and will be holding the first annual Metro Manila Christian Marriage Conference (MMCMC). Tim will be sharing some of his stunning insights on How To Be a Fabulous Husband, and I will follow him with a session on How To Love And Respect Your Fabulous Husband. We are splitting this 50/50 in an effort to show that "Marriages Take Two To Prosper." (That, by the way, is the title of our new book, which will be released in May, 2015.)
Here is a picture of our venue. We are hoping for a sell-out! Buy your tickets now at 1-800-MAR-IAGE.
By the way. . .
I really hope you didn't think I was serious.
There is no MMCMC. There is also no book. There isn't even a 1-800 number.
No. The reality is that we are holding weekly small group "Couples' Nights Out" at our house. We have 8 people plus us. That makes ten. Quite a difference from that stadium with the 10,000 seats. And Tim and I aren't speaking. We are using a set of DVDs that we have found very helpful.
Not very BIG of a thing, right?
Not something to plaster on the front of a newspaper.
Not something, hardly, to write home about.
But it is a big thing in God's eyes, and that is why we are doing it. And it is a success! (I know this because of the conversations we are having and the fact that we have to shoo people out our door just before midnight. Last Thursday night we were tempted to tell our guests, "Sige, we are going to bed. Have fun together and lock the door on your way out!") Everybody is enjoying these nights.
(If you are one of our guests and you are reading this, please know that we would be happy to have you stay until three o'clock, if you want to. Seriously. We love you guys and LOVE being with you! Just put another pot of coffee on and enjoy. Yaaawn. Oops! 'Scuse me.)
How many times do we think we have to do something BIG in order to accomplish something for the Lord? I grew up singing one of my dad's favorite songs, "Little Is Much If God Is In It." It is emblazoned on my brain that anything God asks me to do is big. . . to Him. I just need to be faithful.
And we all know that little things become BIG things when they are left undone.
For instance. . .
This is why smart mamas everywhere insist on doing the dishes immediately after the meal. That oatmeal that swishes right out of the pot at twenty minutes after 8:00 in the morning somehow morphs itself into a hardened gloppy monster by twenty minutes past 8:00 in the evening.
Okay, back to marriages. How many times have you watched a marriage fall apart and thought, if only I had. . . (done something).
How many fewer children would cry themselves to sleep at night? How many fewer divorces would litter the landscape of America? How many more family reunions would take place with 37 cousins all under the age of 16 running barefoot through the cornfields at dusk in the biggest, bestest hide-n-seek game ever? How many more watermelon-seed spitting contests? How many more happy memories for the next generation?
You see? Little things, if left undone, have big consequences.
And you can apply this to every area of your life.
Play a little game with your son.
Have a little chat with your daughter.
Give your husband a little kiss.
Clean that little bathroom.
Bake a little cake for a sick neighbor.
Pay a little credit card bill.
Be a little friendlier at the grocery store.
Have a little compassion for the beggar on the street.
Do a little witnessing for Christ at your workplace.
Use a little self-restraint at the dessert table.
I've mentioned before that the entire Bible is pertinent to our lives, even Zechariah. Zechariah 4:10 has something to say about this very idea of despising the "day of small things," and speaks of the eventual rejoicing that will result from these seemingly little things. Read it and see for yourself. This is especially pertinent when you are a mom of many small children, like me, and entire days can be made up of diapers, dishes, and dirty laundry.
Take the time to do something little today.
It is big to the Lord.
Tim and Laura
Timothy and Laura Berrey are missionaries with Gospel Fellowship Association. They share a passion for missions which has taken them to several countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They currently minister in the Philippines.
Want articles like this delivered to your inbox?
We send out occasional updates about recently published articles and books. To receive these updates, please subscribe to our newsletter.
READ MORE ARTICLES: