Foolish Love

I really love Valentine’s Day. I know to some people it’s magical because of the roses and chocolates and candlelight, and for other people it’s repulsive because of those very things. But I love it, because it’s the one day everyone sets aside to love each other. We can gripe about the capitalistic plot to make us buy Hallmark cards, or the hypersexualized cultural atmosphere, or the overpriced chocolate, but we are missing the point when we do that. Holidays aren’t a dictation of our love; they’re a reminder for us to show it. They are a mark on the calendar that says, “This day is special from all other days. Go make it so.”

And this is why I love Valentine’s Day.

Now that my PSA is out of the way, I want to talk about God. Sorry if you feel a bait and switch. But lately I’ve felt very drawn to the concept of the love of God, which I find poignant given the time of year.

The Bible tells us that God speaks in a still, small voice. A whisper. Lately I’ve been trying to grow more quiet and still so I can hear the whisper. But I’m not very good at it. I don’t talk much, but my internal chatter is loud. So I ask God a question, and He answers, but it’s in a whisper, and like a deaf grandmother I shout, “I can’t hear you!” but then I let my mind chatter more, so when God answers again, I have to warble, “What?” And He refuses to play this game, so I have many painful days of feeling that God doesn’t speak to me at all, and then I finally get the hint and start to turn down the internal chatter notch by notch, and then I hear God. And geez, does He talk a lot.

God: “Let me tell you about how much I love you.”

Me: “Oh I already know all about that. I was homeschooled.”

God: “I know. So let me tell you about how much I love you.”

Me: “I told you; I know all about it. I asked Jesus into my heart when I was like seven.”

God: “So then I assume you know all about how you can’t do anything to make me love you more than I already do? And you can’t do a thing to make me love you less? And that when you feel most weak and ineffective, that’s when you are most resting in my love?”

Me: “Well I have to do a little. I mean, there’s the whole bootstrap mentality.”

God: “F–k the bootstrap mentality.”

I’ve never heard God actually say the F word, but sometimes there’s a sense of Him damning an idea so heartily that the only English equivalent is the F word. Sorry if that offends you. If I knew more languages, I could do better.

Because the truth is, I know very little about God’s love. Not despite my Christian upbringing, either. Often because of it. As Christians, we get very used to the basics of Christianity. Saved by grace through faith, yada yada yada. We move on very quickly, because the gospel is simple. Ridiculously simple. Too simple. It makes us feel better to start squabbling about details. What words are okay to say. What music to play at church. How short a skirt should be. Whether to let a woman talk to people about God.

Little by little, we turn salvation into the exact opposite of what it was meant to be: works-driven. And when you grow up in the church, or spend extensive time in the church, and learn that [good behavior]=[people being happy with you]=[you are loved], it’s incredibly easy to transfer that same equation to the love of God. You learn that doing well in your Christian school satisfies the Christian school’s values of excellence, so that must satisfy God too. You learn that following the rules satisfies your parents’ values of a godly family, so that must satisfy God too. You learn that voting a certain way satisfies the popular paradigm of faithful Christian politics, so it must satisfy God too.

On and on we go, subconsciously learning that God’s love depends, or is at least enriched, by our good behavior.

A few months ago, I had to quit a job we desperately needed, because of some anxiety issues. Despite the peace I felt in God calling me to other endeavors, I still felt riddled with guilt. When money was tight and opportunities were limited, I cried out to God, but my mind beat me down.

What right do you have to ask God anything? It taunted. God doesn’t owe you any help until you start pulling your own weight. You got yourself into this mess; get yourself out.

This is the voice of sinful, works-driven human nature. This is the voice of the success-driven culture. This is the voice of American capitalism. This is the voice of legalism. This is the voice of the devil.

This is not the voice of God.

God asks me, pointedly, if doing stuff is how I got my salvation (it isn’t). God asks me why I’m trying to work for the wages of a house servant when I have the inheritance of a daughter (Gal. 3). God loves me with an everlasting love, which is never contingent on my action or inaction (Jer. 31:3, Eph. 2:9-10). God damns, quite harshly, anyone who preaches a gospel different than one based on the love He gives because He wants to (Gal. 1:8-9).

F–k the bootstrap mentality, indeed.

It sounds too good to be true, because it is. That’s the point. If anyone tells you there’s more to it than that, they are wrong. If anyone tells you, “well according to this one verse we found here, we actually have to also—” they are wrong. If anyone tells you there are structures and dogma you must also adhere to, they are wrong. Run so far.

God’s love is a welcoming love. God doesn’t wait for us to get cleaned up before He lets us into the house. God does the cleaning afterward, and yes, that’s not always fun. Sometimes we have layers of gunk that have to get washed off with a sandblaster. Good times. But that comes later. God never stands in the doorway, barring our entrance, pointing to the outdoor shower. God has no outdoor showers. God lets us in and sits us down and gives us something to eat and sends us to bed and gives us rest, and He doesn’t get mad as us for sleeping in (Matt. 11:28-30).

God’s love is simple, rather juvenile. The Bible actually calls it “foolish” (1 Cor. 1:24-25). It’s a love that enjoys, not because it’s obligated to based on our merits, but because it wants to based on His nature.

And this is why I really love Valentine’s Day.

 

 

I Made Something! And Other Matters

Every week I used to have a “Crafterday” post here (think clever pun between “craft” and “Saturday”), which I haven’t done for a while. I guess I found different things to talk about. That, and I got too busy on Saturdays.

But if those posts were your cup of tea, you’re in for a few! (Cups of tea.)

Ever since we moved I’ve been obsessed with homemade banners to decorate the house: they’re cheap, they’re easy, and they’re whimsical, all winners for a poor college student!

(I apologize in advance for the crappy photos. I lost my light and the camera was put out about it.)

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I’ve made a few tiny triangle banners like this, using paint sample cards from Walmart. This is my Valentine’s palette, but I also have a winter one, a Christmas one, and a longer strand of blue and gray for our bedroom. I’m a tiny bit obsessed.

So imagine my joy when one of my favorite bloggers featured a No-Sew Heart Garland for Valentine’s Day!  Disney over at Ruffles and Stuff has the best ideas. (And the cutest kids, btw.)

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This was my version. I didn’t have the felt the tutorial calls for, and I wish I had – these scraps of Minnie Mouse-esque silk were hard to work with. :) I simplified the design with only three hearts; they pack a punch!

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Disney’s tutorial also inspired me to make another garland using my leftover crocheted hearts from last year. I love how it turned out!

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I also copied this with some plain fabric cutouts for my sewing corner:

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Gosh, I need help! We’re drowning in beautiful heart garlands!

In all seriousness though, I have been wanting to share Ruffles and Stuff on this site for a while (so thank you, garlands). I’ve followed Disney’s blog for several years now, and it’s been a constant source of encouragement to me. This is not only for the clever DIYs, but also for her honest and joyful approach to life, even when life gets really really bad. She has helped me to see that life is a very beautiful thing, and that one of the truest ways we can worship God is to live in gratitude, because He’s created every beautiful, ridiculous facet of life as a gift to us.

These ideas played a part in my resolution to “Take Joy” this year. Last year was difficult on many levels, and I learned a lot about myself and the people around me – lots of good things and lots of bad things, which are still good to know. As someone prone to anxiety more than I realized, learning to take joy in the little gifts of life is literally a life saver.

So go visit Ruffles and Stuff; you’ll be glad you did! Every day there’s something a little different to enjoy, and and Disney really is the sweetest ray of sunshine. :)

Have a great week folks! (Sorry about all the hearts!)

Curiosities: Mr. Right

                                                Mr. Rightmr. right

“Make your own Mr. Right!”

The box was full of paper men and sticker clothes.

(A little creepy, I’ll grant you, but it was Valentine’s Day.

What do you expect.)

I made my own Mr. Right;

he has brown hair

and a nifty blue hat.

His shirt is purple,

(it takes a real man to wear purple)

not girly purple,

but a rich winey purple.

(Mm, wine.)

But something was missing.

I gave him a suave beard

with a ballpoint pen.

Now he resembles a certain someone,

from his shoes to his nifty blue hat.

Heart Day

Hello folks! I hope you’ve had a great week!

I hope you all enjoyed the festivities of Valentine’s Day, too. I know this can be a very difficult holiday sometimes, and a very over-commercialized holiday other times. But I’ve always been a sucker for the ruby-red hearts. There’s always been something about making Valentines that makes me happy. I think it’s the lace and glitter.

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I found a pattern to make these adorable crocheted hearts. They take literally five minutes. I cranked out about eighteen of them over two episodes of Gilmore Girls. I pinned them to some little folded cards I made (Dollar General sells a package of pearl pins for a buck!) and voila! lovely little Valentines for some of my friends.

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I also got to use my German fountain pen (with a real little ink bottle)! for the inside writing. It was a very classic Valentine-making process!

More good news this week: I am finally making headway on my story for our book! It took some rearranging, but I think I have a bit of a good story. Here is a long promised excerpt.

Frank Vossler came into the coffee shop at one o’clock, his usual time, to join the group of other old fellows who were gathered at one of the round tables by the large front window. He came in calm and unhurried, his neatly combed gray hair without the slightest ruffle and his mild blue eyes blinking slowly behind his round bifocals. He ordered a hunk of biscotti (“bees-COT-toe” as he called it), and a cup of decaf coffee.

    “Make sure it’s hot,” he said to the barista at the counter. He flashed a smile and she nodded knowingly and rang up the usual three dollars and twenty-two cents.

These are the first two paragraphs of my story, which centers around this man “Frank” and his days spent at the coffee shop. I don’t want to give too much away, but stay posted for more glimpses of this very interesting man.

What do you think? Does it pique your interest, or do I have work to do? Did you do anything special for Heart Day? Will you try your hand at the ridiculously fun crocheted hearts? Let me know in the comments below and have a happy week!