Love (A Valentine's Day Post)

 

                                                                        A Parent's Love

My Dad and I.

My Dad and I.

I have experienced unconditional love from my parents. They love me and my brothers enough to have disciplined us when we were children. To give us an education. To bring us up to love the Lord and to know Him.

My mom and her first grand baby. She doesn't like to be in pictures ya'll so I never get pictures with her and I. ;)

My mom and her first grand baby. She doesn't like to be in pictures ya'll so I never get pictures with her and I. ;)

They care for our well being and health. They didn't begrudgingly buy us clothing or books or toys. Mom went and bought healthy food every week to feed my brothers and I (still does). They required us to do chores around the house to teach us to work hard and serve. They didn't indulge our unhealthy appetites for worthless t.v. shows, movies, books and video games because they cared for the condition of our souls and hearts. They bandaged every scrape and cut and paid for the doctor bills when my brothers had to get stitches. Special holiday traditions were made to bring us together as a family and to make those times memorable. They didn't complain when my brothers and I all had the chicken pox or the flu at the same time. They cared for us.

They care for us today as my brothers and I grow older. They don't bandage scraped knees or have us in school anymore but they show love in a whole new way. They talk and pray with us through difficult times. Encourage us in new ventures as we seek God's will for our lives.Through my twenty years of living my parents have shown unconditional love. A love that doesn't fade because of how difficult me or my brothers can be. Has never faded through the sad and difficult times. My parents love me unconditionally.

1 Corinthians 13:13 
"And now these three remain: Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

 

A Friend's Love

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 As I've gotten older, I have seen the difference between "friends" and true friends. People walk in and out of your life but there are only a few that stay. There are only a few who will stick with you through the good, bad and the ugly. There will be many that seek to gain from your friendship but only a few that seek to give in your friendship. 

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The love from these kinds of friends is truly a rare thing.  A "diamond in the rough" as my mom likes to say. I am privileged to be able to say God has blessed me with a few of these kinds of people. Even though I never had a sister, God gave me sisters in the form of a few friends who I have known for most of my life. Even though at times distance has separated us, grief has threatened to swallow us, misunderstandings have arisen and time has naturally changed us, we continue to support and care, admonish and encourage, mourn and rejoice together, love each other.

Roman's 12:9-10
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."

 

A Sibling's Love

With a few of my brothers. Justin in the green pants, Jared in the red jacket.

With a few of my brothers. Justin in the green pants, Jared in the red jacket.

Growing up with five brothers has been the most awesome blessing. Many people have said to me when they learned I was the only girl among five brothers, "You poor thing!" But I have enjoyed so much growing up with all of my brothers. 

My brother Jordan and I. 

My brother Jordan and I. 

We have had great adventures, especially in our back yard. When we were little we built forts and houses, pretended to be cowboys and Indians (I was a cowgirl in distress, of course), had dirt clod wars, sword and light saber fights, "cooked" with leaves and dirt, attempted to make jam out of the blackberries in our back yard and rode bikes that were decked out with cardboard to simulate cars. (Joel was usually the policeman and he wrote us out quite a bit of tickets for speeding, reckless bike driving and running red lights.) My brothers still loved me and had me on their team even when I ruined their hide and seek game by wearing those good ol' 90's "light up shoes" that pretty much defeated the purpose of hiding. 

I love being silly with my brothers. Joel is on the far right, Justin is in the middle.

I love being silly with my brothers. Joel is on the far right, Justin is in the middle.

This is a fairly old picture of me and my brothers but it's one of the few that shows us all together. From left to right: Jeremy, Justin, Jared, Joel, Me and Jordan.

This is a fairly old picture of me and my brothers but it's one of the few that shows us all together. From left to right: Jeremy, Justin, Jared, Joel, Me and Jordan.

Having your brothers for best friends is unlike any other relationship. My brothers are still my closest friends. Now that we are older we definitely don't play cowboys and Indians or cook with leaves but our love for each other hasn't changed. I've watched one of my brothers get married and have his first daughter, another pursue music, another has become a talented artist, another is on his way to becoming a doctor, and the youngest is almost done with high school. Life changes things. You may be separated by miles and even time zones. Good and bad times sweep through and other things change but a sibling's love does not. 

Song Of Songs 8:7
"Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned."


God's Love

I am awed. I am humbled. I am blown away by the most perfect love of all time. God's love is the most perfect and unconditional of any form of love. He sees our imperfect nature and loves us anyways! His love is not just words. His love has been shown by the greatest action of all time. An act we can neither understand nor fathom. He gave his only Son for us.

Romans 5:8

"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 

Immediately I was struck by the meaning of this verse. We didn't do anything that merited Christ's love and death on a cross for us. He did it because he loved us while were still dead in our sins! Not anything that we could have done would have been enough to deserve the death of His only son. 
God loves us so much that he blesses us, disciplines us, heals us, gives and takes away, guides and directs, comforts, atones, redeems, justifies, adopts, sanctifies, and glorifies.
Our God's love is perfect. God doesn't just love those who are "easy" to love but who are hard to love! He loves without condition or standard. Not a selfish love that seeks to gain. Not a love that rejoices in someone's calamity or hurt. A love that is that there in the darkest and brightest. Not a love that runs when things get hard or we become too difficult. 
We look here on earth for people and things to love us perfectly. We seek the steady, reliable and unchanging. We look for shiftless love. But no one and nothing can give us that kind of love but God.
I can never hope to understand it, but all I know is that I believe it. I believe in His immovable, unquenchable, breadth-less, untiring and never failing love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres."

For now, 
Jennifer

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Questions For The Suitor

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It takes questions, lots and lots of questions (and a lot of observation to see if their answers match their character), to expose beliefs and viewpoints in a potential "suitor". Sometimes it's hard to know what questions to ask, especially being a Christian where lots of things come into play when looking for a spouse. As you will see in these questions, the Lord is first and foremost to me and must be to that guy as well. If you aren't looking for a Godly guy (or girl! Some of these questions are for guys to ask, too!), I don't think these questions will come in handy for you. ;) But if you are, please keep reading. 
I compiled these slowly over time before ever having a boyfriend, after experiencing a breakup and now again as a single young lady. Going through a relationship myself helped expose some very important questions that might never have occurred to me to ask before. I have tried to think of questions that expose the core beliefs of a young man/woman that will help you see what their spiritual walk, view on relationships, personal character, and lifestyle are like. 
You may not need to ask all of these questions if, for example, you have been friends long enough to already know a lot of them but if that's the case, you personally will know what questions to ask.
And beware, questions are not foolproof. You need to dig deeper to find out how a guy/girl's answers to questions line up with their everyday way of living, decisions they make, how they treat people, etc. 
 

Walk With the Lord

  • Can you pin-point the exact time when you became a Christian? What changed for you after that?
  • How important is prayer?
  • Who is your mentor? Do you have a mentor?
  • What do you do to continually be growing spiritually? (1 Timothy 4:7-10)
  • How important is knowledge and rhetoric in the Christian walk? 
  • What are your daily personal devotional practices?
  • How important is corporate worship? Other participation in church life? What is the proper use of that day? Are you faithful in church attendance?
  • How do you view giving tithe to the church? Is that important to you?
  • Do you believe in family worship? Does/did your family practice it?
  • Do you practice ministry to others? What personal call do you feel God has placed on your life in the area of ministry?
  • What has continued to be your greatest weaknesses/spiritual struggles?

Beliefs

  • What are your views on birth control? Natural family planning? Contraceptives? Anything at all? Explain.
  • What is your view on baptism? Child, adult?
  • What is your view on alcohol? Can it be used rightly or should it be abstained of completely?
  • Would you ever adopt? Why or why not?
  • Do you think coarse joking or cussing is out of place with godly character? (Ephesians 4:5)
  • What is your standard of modesty?
  • Do you want a big family?
  • Do you believe in any form of patriarchy? Explain.
  • What is your view on homeschooling? Would you homeschool your children?
  • Would you change anything about how you were raised?
  • What is your position on sabbatarianism?
  • Do you believe in head coverings?

Leadership

  • What is the meaning of submission and headship in the Bible and in marriage?
  • What does being a leader mean to you? What do you think leading a family entails?
  • How do you handle conflict? Do you avoid confrontation and dealing with issues? 
  • Who is the main breadwinner? 
  • Should a wife work outside the home? Would you require her to have a job? Before kids? After kids? With kids at home?
  • Should a wife continue to pursue god-honoring dreams or goals after marriage and kids? Explain.
  • Are you ready to be a parent?

Commitment to Purity

  • How would you handle things if you found yourself in a situation where you were alone with the opposite sex?
  • How do you protect the hearts of young women in your friendships with them? How do you practice honoring your future wife? Do you believe it's still important to honor her even in a committed relationship? How would you do that?
  • Is it your habit to regularly text/private message young women? What do you think is proper behavior towards a young woman who is just a friend?
  • What is your standard on movies/television? Are you careful? Do you sacrifice morality for entertainment? For example, would you go watch a movie at the theater without first checking it out thoroughly?
  • What types of physical expressions do you feel is appropriate in a relationship? Have you made mistakes in this area in the past?
  • What does purity mean to you?
  • Do you believe that friendships with the opposite sex should change after entering a committed relationship? What would have to drastically change for you personally? 
  • Have you ever struggled with pornography? Is your struggle a current one?
  • What does compromise in a relationship mean to you?

Approach To Relationships

  • What form of relationship has been your practice in the past? Dating, courtship? Or if you have never been in a relationship, what would you see as a wise and biblical way to approach a relationship? Explain.
  • What do you see as the purpose of getting to know a young woman intentionally? 
  • Who has the role of God-given protector and leadership in a young woman's life?
  • Do you see a young woman's, or your own family, as playing an important role in a relationship? How so?
  • Do you think accountability and godly advice from others is important? Who would you see that accountability and godly advice coming from? Example: pastors, her father, young friends, older mentors.
  • Do you believe in long term relationships, or do you see a courtship/dating relationship lasting only as long as you are both seeking God's leading toward marriage?
  • Do you believe that God comes first in courtship/dating and marriage? That all decisions should be based off what is honoring to God? What does the role of honoring God play in your everyday life?
  • Would being in the Bible and praying together during courtship/dating be important? 
  • What has been your previous experience with romance/dating?
  • What is your view on "alone time" spent with the person you're courting? Example: Going out together to coffee, dinner, etc.

View of Marriage

  • Have you thought seriously about what the meaning of marriage is? Is marriage important to you?
  • What does "leave and cleave" mean to you? Are you prepared to put your wife above all others, including your family? Give me an example of what this may look like to you (Genesis 2:24).
  • Do you believe marriage is about making yourself happy? Explain what the biblical purpose of marriage is.
  • What role would your wife and children play in your life purpose?
  • What does the term "help meet" mean to you?

Priorities

  • How important is your career to you? How many hours a week do you work? Does your work sometimes come in conflict with personal time with God? Does your job require travel and if so, how much?
  • If relocation were offered to you by your job would you accept? What would weigh in on your decision?
  • What are your views on homeschooling? Do you believe it's important, or do you wish for public education for your future children?

Personal Character

  • How would those you know well describe your personal character?
  • Do you have a teachable spirit?
  • What makes you angry?
  • Do you have a good relationship with your parents?
  • In what ways is self-centeredness expressed in your life?
  • Have you ever had to deal with a broken relationship? How did you handle it?
  • Do you like reading? What are your three favorite books besides the Bible?
  • How do you relate to children? Do you enjoy being around them?
  • Are you honest? Even in business? Do you ever slant the truth for your own benefit?
  • What tendencies do you have towards prejudice or racism?
  • What do you value most highly in life?
  • If "your" daughter were marrying "you" what cautions would you have for her?
  • Can you describe your life purpose, i.e., how you intend to use your interests, skills and talents to serve and glorify God?
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years, 20 years?
  • Recognizing we all have weaknesses, what are one or two areas you think God wants you to work on?
  • Do peers play a major role in swaying your decisions? Is peer pressure a major factor? Who are the people you ask advice or wisdom from?
  • What are your five strengths?
  • What has been the most difficult thing for you to forgive?

What Are You Looking For?

  • List the five most important characteristics in a wife (for you personally).
  • List the five characteristics that would bother/irritate you in a wife.
  • What are your views on health/exercise/eating well?
  • What are your expectations of me?
  • What interests do you have that would be important for your wife to share or at least join you in?
  • What are the "non negotiable" things for you when looking for a spouse?

Miscellaneous Questions

  • What has been the hardest thing you've ever been through?
  • What do you want your sons to be like at 18?
  • What is currently the biggest thing God is using in your life to sanctify you at this time?
  • Is romance important in the everyday life of a couple? How do you keep it alive?
  • What is your biggest fear?
  • How do you serve your family?


This concludes my "questions for the suitor." I hope you will find these helpful as you seek God's wisdom in your relationships. 

For now,
Jennifer

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