As many of you know I have the most precious 2 year old daughter any parent could ask for! She is dainty, sweet, kind, and gentle. She is also tough, loud, and demanding when she wants to be. As I was thinking about what I would write this month (taking valentine's day into consideration) the Lord brought some gentle reminders of his truths to mind via my little Amy Kate. Its amazing what we can learn from the children in our lives, have you ever noticed that? Just this past month my husband and I celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary. In the past we've always celebrated our anniversaries with a nice vacation away from it all, but with Lucas only days old, we obviously decided to stay home this year. Instead of some fancy dinner out, or even gifts we decided to attend an event hosted by Kirk Cameron and Warren Barfield called "Love Worth Fighting For".

We have been trying to get to this event for at least 2 years now, mostly to support Warren Barfield, who is a friend of my brothers, but also to take a chance to take in any Godly wisdom/advice to apply towards our marriage. I recommend any couple in any stage of their marriage relationship attend one of these events. I will admit we did not make it through the entire evening, due to our current state of sleep deprivation, we were doing good to be out past 7:00pm to begin with! The message was great - why not try extending the same kind of grace God has given you to your spouse, ESPECIALLY when things get hard. This sounds so simple, but is so hard to practice when you are in the heat of the argument, when you're so desperately  trying to win at any cost, you know those times...the ones where you have the weapons of mass destruction on hand JUST IN CASE you need to use them. We've all had those times, no relationship goes without them, including friendships, child/parent relationships, romantic relationships, working relationships, etc...

So when you think about God extending you grace for all the times you've managed to hurt him through blatant disobedience, for words and actions that are not pleasing to Him, and for the hidden things of your heart that may bring shame, you probably think about God's love and forgiveness for you; how he selflessly gave up his perfect Son who had NEVER caused him any pain to pay the price for all the sin and shame in YOUR life.  We've all heard the saying that God forgive's and forgets and we know that the scripture tells us  in Psalm 103:12 that he has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. What an amazing thing to know that our heavenly Father just tosses our sin aside when we take the time to lay down our pride to seek his forgiveness.

Do you know how humanly impossible that is for us to do? Oh we can forgive, but our mind NEVER let us forget. We try to forget, we even suppress the feelings over time but in those moments, the ones where you have the weapons of mass destruction on hand, we always seem to remember, don't we? Where do we learn to do this? Who teaches us to do this? We learn from our own natural sinful nature. How do I know this? Because my 2 year old has taught me this.

Let me explain:

My sweet Amy Kate is enamored with a little boy in her class named Drew. Drew is the son of some dear friends, and AK and Drew have known each other since birth, being only 6 weeks apart, you could say Drew was AK's "first" friend. Everyday it's "Drew this" and "Drew that". If you ask her about her school, her goto response is "Drew". If you ask her about church, her goto response is "Drew", she pretend talks on the phone to Drew, she can spot Drew out in a crowded room of people. She even talks about Drew's Mommy and Daddy, she can even point out "Drew's Mommay's Car" in the carpool line at her preschool. You get the point...she LOVES Drew! Back towards the beginning of the school year several of the children in AK's class went through the typical toddler "biting" phase, and unfortunately AK fell victim to one of sweet Drew's biting episodes.It has probably been at least 6 months and AK will still tell us and show exactly where Drew bit her that day. She still loves him dearly, but has never forgotten about that incident. She has obviously forgiven him, but never fails to mention where he bit her when the topic/disciplining of biting comes up in our home. Isn't that so like us to bring up a "forgiven" incident when we need to cover up our actions to make ourselves look better. We quickly find a way to make the other party feel guilty or take the focus off ourselves, because that is our selfish human nature.

Remember those weapons of mass destruction? We inherit the ability to use those from our sinful nature as well. More recently Drew and AK had another biting incident at school. This time we saw the bruise on her arm asking what happened. She responded "DREW", followed by "Ms Mary said No No Drew". This type of conversation at our house always makes us giggle, because she responds to anything about school with "DREW". We thought that since she always brought up the previous incident from months before that she must have been mistaken. I decided to investigate and ask one of her teachers about the recent biting event. The teacher giggled and responded with "Did Amy Kate tell you what happen". I mentioned she said something about Drew but that we weren't sure if that was the correct answer, she said Drew did bite AK, but that AK finally bit him back, in fact her exact words were "She nearly took his finger off" . At first I was shocked...not my sweet, kind, gentle AK?! Then I got tickled at the thought, then I was embarrassed,  then I realized it just comes with the territory when you get a room full of 2 year olds together. The point here is that this time when Drew bit, AK pulled her weapon of mass destruction with intent to cause harm.

Now these two have definitely "kissed" and made-up, but the point is, we never forget no matter how hard we try to forgive. But the good news is God always forgives and never hold it over our heads again. He just continues to forgive over and over again. This is not to say he doesn't let us suffer the consequences of our actions, but he is faithful to forgive us and it is our duty as Christians to strive to forgive and extend grace just like God does towards us.

Do we do this enough in our relationships? Next time the battle starts to get intense, and you are ready to reach for those weapons of mass destruction, take a deep breathe, think about Drew and AK for a moment, and then think about God's love for you. Now, do you want to replicate the actions of 2 year old children or the actions of a loving God?

Let me leave you with the perfect love song for the month of February...

"Love is Not a Fight" by Warren Barfield

Love is not a place To come and go as we please It's a house we enter in Then commit to never leave

So lock the door behind you Throw away the key We'll work it out together Let it bring us to our knees

Love is a shelter in a raging storm Love is peace in the middle of a war And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

To some, love is a word That they can fall into But when they're falling out Keeping that word is hard to do

Love is a shelter in a raging storm Love is peace in the middle of a war And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

Love will come to save us If we'll only call He will ask nothing from us But demand we give our all

Love is a shelter in a raging storm Love is peace in the middle of a war And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

I will fight for you Would you fight for me? It's worth fighting for

Celebrate love this month with someone in your life, no matter what the relationship, just focus on extending God's grace to their lives and choosing to forgive and trying to truly forget! Happy Valentine's Day!?

Until Next Time, Be Blessed and Be a Blessing!