True Love Challenge 2019

The funny thing for me about Valentine’s Day is that we take this one day out of the year to buy all the roses, huge stuffed animals (that you seriously can’t put anywhere), heart-shaped balloons, jewelry, chocolate, etc.(My bridal bouquet circa 2008.)

But the world will attempt to show you how easily you can fall out of love. “Love isn’t forever. It can change. You can grow apart,” the world will tell you.

Why celebrate something so wishy washy?

(If you believe that it is…which I don’t!)

Think about it.

What things are temporary in your life that you cherish or take great care of?

Ever notice how often kids treat a substitute teacher poorly?

What about your rental car?

How much care do you put into an apartment or rental house?

So I ask you: If we are going to use this day to celebrate love, shouldn’t it be a love with consistency?

My husband and girls have taught me so much about love and given me a glimpse into the kind of love God has for us.(Afton’s 2nd Birthday)

My oldest, Alexa, was love at first sight. Honestly, other than a rigid sleep schedule, she was so easy.(Alexa, 3 months old)

As she grew, she was so prissy. She hated to have her hands dirty and would sit with her legs crossed all the time. She would say cute things like calling shoes “sues” and flip flops “flop flops.”(Alexa, 6 months old)

As she has gotten older, you have the usual disciplinary issues, but over all she is a good kid.(December 2010, Me and Alexa)

She makes great grades.(Summer 2011)

She is well rounded – loving sports and outdoor activities as well as reading.(Alexa’s 3rd Birthday)

Even now as we prepare for the teenage years and the whining and everything is “unfair” begins, there are still so many things that make her easy to love.(Alexa, age 4)

She is very honest.(Alexa, age 6)

She is funny and smart and she says she is glad to have us as her parents. She hugs and kisses us every night. She tells us she loves us and how great we are.(Easter 2016)

Like I said…easy to love.(Fall 2017, photo by Megan Myrick Photography)

My youngest, sweet Afton….we loved her at first sight. She was a gorgeous baby.(Aug.17, 2015)

Of course, as early as day two she was proving to be more challenging.(For any new readers: my youngest was born with KCNQ2 causing seizures at two days old.)

And once we were home, there were days I couldn’t sleep. Weeks maybe.

I’m not sure…have I slept since she was born?

I say I have “mom hearing.” If she is talking in her bed, I can sleep through it. If a seizure begins, I am up in a second.(Sleeping Beauty, Halloween 2015)

Can you consider that really sleeping though? Probably not.(3 months old and back at Children’s Hospital.)

Afton never calls me mommy.

She will come and crawl up in my lap, but it is always for her comfort.

She never has said she loves me (even though I know she does.)(Afton, 5 months old)

Sometimes when I go to kiss her, she pushes me away.

Just before Christmas she swatted at me and knocked a cup of hot chocolate out of my hand. The drink burned my hand. It took almost a month for the marks to fade. She never knew what she did so she never felt remorse for it. No tearful I’m sorries.(Afton’s first birthday!)

She never says thank you.

Sometimes she doesn’t want Alexa near her, and it makes Alexa feel rejected. She never gives up on Afton, and that hurts my heart even more.(Photography by Laurie Stewart Photography)

And you know what?

She is easy to love. (Afton, 1 year. Photography by Chlee)

We adore her! We love her just as much as we love Alexa.

There is not a day – not an hour – not a second that I question my love for her.(Spring 2017, Meridian, MS)

There is not ever a time that I consider giving up on her.

There is not ever a time that I consider giving up the fight for her healing.(4th of July, 2017)

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t pray for her.

I don’t want to leave you thinking there is no joy with Afton.

There is so much joy!(Fall 2017, Tybee Island, GA)

She likes to be tickled and have books read to her. She loves music and sings songs. She loves being outdoors (especially on the trampoline!)(Feb. 2017, Richmond Hill, GA)

We truly enjoy her. As hard as some things are, we have a lot of fun with her!! I recently read from another mom “the deeper the sorrow the greater the joy.”(March 2017, Savannah, GA)

One day I was buckling Afton into her car seat. She looked so cute, and I leaned in to say I love you and give her a kiss.(June 2018, back in the hospital with seizures after 2 1/2 years seizure free.)

When I did, she screamed and shoved my face away.

This isn’t the first or only time this has happened. Some days I just go on like nothing happened.(4th of July 2018, Brunswick, GA)

But this day it hurt my heart.

I started to cry.

Then I had this thought.

What does God feel like when we turn from Him?

When we push Him away?

When we scream at Him?

When we refuse Him?

When we never say thank you?

When we don’t say I love you?

What about those who deny Him as a father?

How does he feel when we don’t love his other children?

You know…other people in the world. All of them. Every person is His child. Good, bad, ugly – whether they acknowledge Him or not…they are still His.(Easter 2017, Meridian, MS)

And the Bible says He still loves us.

And I believe it!

In a small way, I understand it after loving Afton.(First meeting with Afton)

But it is a small way…far removed…because God sent his son to die for you and me.

And as much as I love Afton, I can’t imagine sacrificing Alexa for her.(Fall 2017 Photography by Megan Myrick Photography)

And when I try to understand that kind of love in my small human brain, it is incomprehensible to me.

Then there is my marriage.

I remember attending a premarital counseling session and our pastor at the time said “one day you will not be the attractive, young couple I have sitting before me.”(pre-marriage…I’m guessing we were 24 & 29)

I remember thinking, I know! One day we will be old.(Spring 2008)

But he knew that life changes you inside and out and we wouldn’t be the same at the end as we were at the start.

When I think about the years that Chad and I have been together, I think about the sweet cards he gives.

I think about how he will do the dishes after dinner.

I see him sleeping on a piece of foam on the hospital floor because he said we should be there together for our daughter. He says we are a team.(Aug. 2015 in the NICU with Afton.)

I think of laughter, trust, consistency, and sacrifice.(My favorite picture of these two. ❤️)

It’s not glamorous, but it’s true.(Chad and Afton, Sept. 3015)

It’s not perfect, but we never give up.

Love is shown by what you do for people And how you treat them.(Aug. 17, 2015)

If you say you love people but don’t serve them, do they feel loved?

If they don’t feel loved, does it matter that we say we love them?

You’re probably familiar with 1Cor. 13:4-8. It begins “Love is patient. Love is kind.”

I want to use it to give you a Valentine’s Day challenge.(Valentine’s Day, 2017)

From now through Feb. 14th, I challenge you to apply this verse to as many people as you can.

The Bible says this is the standard for love and calls us to love each other.

So let’s look at what this verse really calls us to do.

Be patient with each other.

Be kind.

Don’t be jealous of one another.

Don’t brag.

Don’t be prideful.

Don’t be rude.

Don’t be selfish.

Don’t keep score with each other.

Love doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices in the truth of Jesus Christ.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

You will notice that it calls us to love people in a way that is completely unselfish.(Sweet friends at Bitty & Beau’s – a coffee shop that employees people with developmental delays.)

I would love to see us challenge each other to take this holiday to truly love others and see what happens.

Make this your own! Maybe you show love to someone in your life that is hard to love.

Maybe this means you show love to a stranger, or someone less fortunate.

You could just send a sweet card to a friend and let them know they are loved.(Afton’s Sweet friend. He never gives up on her either. 💜)

Maybe this means you simply don’t lose your temper driving to work.

Whatever this looks like for you, I encourage you to share your experiences and challenge others to do the same. #truelovechallenge2019

Hopefully, it will spark us to show love all throughout year.

Let me wrap it up by saying if you are feeling like a black Valentine’s Day is in order for whatever reason, please don’t forget that you are loved by the one who is the best at love. #jesus

He gave everything for you. #heavenlyfather

He loves you in a way that is wreckless and impossible to understand. #savior

And He is waiting for you to accept Him every day of the year – not only on Feb. 14th. #creator

“And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1Corinthians 13:13

4 thoughts on “True Love Challenge 2019

  1. Thank you again, Jessica, for sharing your heart! God is continuing to bring you along this path that he has chosen for you! I love you and am proud to share a small part of the journey with you!!!❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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