"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her..."
Yesterday was one of those nearly epic summer days with my kids. It was 80 degrees and sunny and breezy, low humidity. In the morning we played outside in our backyard, then Evelyn asked if I knew of any new parks that we haven't been to where we could have a picnic for lunch. I remembered one that I found on a run last spring a few miles away. So we packed a picnic and drove around until I found the one I was thinking about. It was great. I pushed all four of my kids on the merry-go-round and they squealed. Alot.
Later in the afternoon after the boys' naps we went to the pool for two hours, and they squealed and laughed and played together. I love having enough kids that they are their own little team in any game they create.
After two hours of swimming, sunbathing, and snacking on chocolate animal crackers and twizzlers, the big three ran to the playground while Griffin and I packed the car. Again, they squealed with delight as they chased each other up ladders and down slides. What absolute music to my ears.
Then we got home and ate hotdogs and fresh fruit on a summer evening. MMMMMM.
Baths, bedtime snacks, the three-year-old peeing in the potty (much rejoicing!), books, and sweet bedtimes followed.
Then it was Girls Night in my living room. Six of my closest girlfriends showed up at my house with decaf and brownies. It's been a busy summer, and last night was the first time we've connected in several weeks. Great fellowship. Two of them stayed until midnight, listening to some of my struggles in a much needed heart to heart.
God's blessings abound.
It's been a stressful summer in many ways at our house. Many great picnics, parks, and pool days, but many stressers too. Like many young families, finances are tight. Marriage can be hard. Parenting is hard. Three-year-olds are defiant. I ache for my mom. Paul's chronic back pain has worsened. Life isn't easy. Just like Jesus promised, "In this world you will have struggles; but take heart, I have overcome the world."
But yesterday, on that epic summer day filled with squeals of laughter and girlfriend heart to hearts, I was reminded of how God's love pursues us.
In the book of Hosea, God's people of Israel are far from Him. They have gotten caught up in the struggles and temptations of this life, and have forgotten God's love. But God's love is never far from us. We can turn our backs and walk far from Him, but His love is always waiting for us.
And that's what we see in Hosea. Even though His people have turned their backs on Him, God loves them unabashedly. He says, in Hosea 2:14 "Therefore, I am no going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her."
WHOA!!! God's love pursues us. Just like in every romantic chick flick, God wants to lead His beloved into the wilderness, allure her with His love, and speak tenderly to her. Captivating, relentless love.
And that was yesterday. In the midst of lots of stress, God spoke tenderly to me.
Through 80 degrees and sunshine, through the soft breeze, through a new playground, through squeals of my children on the merry-go-round, through the splashing at the pool, through seeing my kids' strong arms and legs race up ladders and down slides at the playground, through hotdogs and fresh cantaloupe, through my girlfriends and decaf coffee and brownies late at night. God spoke tenderly to me all day long. He's got this. In the midst of all that I see as stressful, God's got this. His love covers over us.