Pursuing Love

We’ve been given nineteen years of love days together. This Valentines day was our best. one. yet. We had a wonderful date of adoration and conversation… No, this date was not filled with fancy clothes, flowers, jewelry or a lavish dinner… none of those things, really. We did not give each other gifts… we gave each other ourselves. We knew ahead of time we would not exchange gifts, we rarely do. Our expectations of each other were met, not by wants of material things we do not need, but the ease of an evening simply being together.

Our kids were well taken care of, unbound by any time frame, thankful money was no worry. We set out for a hole-in-the-wall middle eastern restaurant… Adam had a coupon for, of course. I love my thrifty man 😉 We prefer our own home cooked food to most restaurants, and enjoy cooking together, so we typically have low expectations of food when we eat out… yet we always hold high expectations of the coffee shops we frequent. We’re weirdos, I know.

We meandered our way thru downtown Portland, enjoying moments, even those we spent in traffic. Parking spot scored, with coupon in hand, we strolled on over to the restaurant. The owners greeted us and we settled in at our table. Their place is tiny, with only 5 tables, bustling with local customers coming and going. After we ordered, we observed everyone in the space was speaking Arabic, and greeting the husband and wife owners as if they were their own parents. Even though we were the only Caucasians in the restaurant, and I was the only female, besides the owners wife, we felt at home.

As we waited on our food, we were both in awe of what God was orchestrating. We were in the middle of another country, in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we were on our mission field. After we finished our food, the owner asked us how everything was. We told him the truth – they were the best gyros we’ve ever had. He began sharing about the restaurant and how he has been running the business. As we talked more, he came and sat down with us and we talked more. He was hilarious, sharing stories of how he took over the restaurant a few years ago, and made many changes, including not accepting coupons anymore – darn! 😉 But we didn’t care about the coupon, we only cared about the fact that our Valentines date was now being spent with an old Arabic man sharing his life story…

As we continued the conversation, we asked him, “How can we pray for you? How can we pray for your business?” He opened up, and we began to share with him our walk with Jesus. Adam told him he was a Pastor. Their response – “A priest? You’re too young to be a priest!” He hears that a lot from people, and he’s been serving in ministry for 20 years. He shared his own convictions and how he sees his relationship God… how he honors Jesus, Moses and Allah. I asked him more about Jesus… “How do you see Jesus?” He did not see him as equal to God or as Lord, but a prophet. We agreed to disagree, and after talking more, Adam shared with him John 14:6 and Jesus’ claim to be the only way to the Father. We talked with him for an hour, He kept saying, “I love talking to you about religion. It makes me feel good!” Their business began to pick up again, and he had to start cooking again. We thanked him for the wonderful food, said our good-byes and practically floated out of the restaurant.

Our date was spent sharing the pursuing love of Jesus with this precious man. Afterwards, we went to a coffee shop and had the honor to meet and pray for 2 more people the Holy Spirit connected us with. Throughout the whole evening, as Adam and I worshipped and talked about God’s furious love for us, His love could not be contained within us. The overflow of His love poured out of us and onto those we came in touch with.

We had the best Valentines date… in fact, the best date of all time. The evening ended with a deeper understanding and revelation of God’s love for us and His love for others. We were rested, refreshed and renewed from the amazing moments we shared with each other and others we met. We are honored to be used by God and look forward to the next person Holy Spirit leads us to!

For Valentines and every day, I am a girl who longs for the presence of God in every moment. Flowers will die, clothing will become outdated, jewelry will fade, fancy dinners will go down the toilet… but God’s furious love is everlasting and is the only treasure worthy of my pursuing. 

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

Do you know God’s love? His love changes everything. The pages are open to share your story… feel free to comment, ask for prayer, ask questions and share this blog. Our stories rage on… In Him, Leslie

Fifty Shades of Love…

…because nothing says “I love you” more than a film laced with porn and violence… Happy Valentines Day!

A few months ago, we saw three minutes of porn and violence in the form of a romanticized trailer for an upcoming movie. The movie we actually paid to see was an intense WWII film, based on a true story of courage and unbroken determination. Yet, during most of the movie, I was distracted and disturbed by what I had seen in those three minutes. I wanted to scream. But I didn’t think that would go over too well in the middle of the movie. So I asked God to erase everything about it from my memory.

A few weeks ago, I took my children (whose eyes *see* everything) to a bookstore. My eyes glazed over the cover of this book laced with violence and porn, displayed on a table a few feet from the toy section where children play in this bookstore. I promptly turned it over. I wanted to pull a “Jesus in the temple with the money changers” and flip over the tables, but I held back my disgust and turned a few of the books over instead.

A few nights ago, the world celebrated, applauded and awarded a ‘song of the year’ grammy title to a song about a one. night. stand. I only caught a glimpse of the grammy’s the other night. And for the few moments I watched, while changing channels, this award being given. Sam Smith thanked the ‘man who broke his heart’ for the inspiration to write the song and win the grammy. and My heart broke. We rarely sing of true love anymore. We can not sing of what we do not understand.

If we do not know God’s love, we can not understand, receive, express or give Love. God is Love.

Nothing says “Happy Valentines Day” like a film full of porn and violence. Nothing says “I love you” more than a song about a one night stand.

Seriously?? …Is this what we have reduced LOVE to??

Please do not see this movie. ‘Fifty Shades of Shit’ (which was my original title idea, and my husband suggested I go another direction) Please do not waste your time, your energy or your money. Let’s get one thing straight – this movie is about MONEY. This is not art. This is not sex education. This is not sexual enhancement. This movie was made -and the books were written- purely to make money. Sex and money should never be partners.

My concern and disgust for ‘Fifty Shades…’ goes deeper than the movie or the books. We have a culture of choosing to believe and accept LIES. The lie says, ‘it’s okay to watch this movie, read this romance novel, peek at this magazine, listen to this song about a one night stand, scroll thru some porn…’ The lie says, ‘it’s harmless to invite porn into our marriages.’ The lie says, ‘it’s harmless to flirt, have a fling, have an affair.’ The lie keeps us in denial, ‘making it possible for a “john” to take advantage of a young girl and allow others to abuse her, to view her as his property, to make money off of her used body over and over again.’ The lie whispers to the buyer of the young girl held in bondage, ‘this is okay. there is nothing wrong with this abuse.’ When the TRUTH IS – there are SO MANY THINGS WRONG with this!!!

The TRUTH is we have a choice // don’t hire the prostitute // don’t participate in the cycle of human trafficking // don’t see the movie // look away from the magazine // close the book // turn off the t.v. // stop browsing porn sites // remove yourself from negative sexual conversation // flee from the temptation to flirt, have a fling, have an affair //

The TRUTH is there are many women, children and men in forced into slavery, held in bondage and sexual violence, being used against their will. They do NOT have a choice. WE have a choice. And yet we have the audacity to choose to SEE and applaud this movie and read the stupid books???? NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please. no. stop!

We need a ‘Joseph culture‘. We have a choice to flee from sin as Joseph fled from Potiphars wife… even when an opportunity presented itself… even though he probably would not have been ‘caught in the act’. He made a choice to flee. To be faithful to his God. Faithful to God’s Love. Joseph knew the Love of God, so he made the choice to say “No” and flee.

We have a choice to turn away from the images, even when know one else sees. We have a choice to say “No” and stop participating in the abuse. We have a choice to flee from sin and into the Love of Jesus. Wherever you are on the ‘spectrum’ of believing these lies, believing these things are okay… From browsing thru a soft porn magazine to becoming a “buyer” or a “john” caught up in the web of sexual slavery… You have a choice. Wherever you are – His Love is for you. and He is for you. You can choose the Love of Jesus. God is Love and He is for you. He desires to redeem mankind to Himself. To understand who True Love is. Who He is.

Then we will see Freedom Come. We will reject these movies, these books, these porn films, these magazines, the ability to oppress and abuse another human being in bondage. We will reject these lies and know the Truth. He is Jesus.

Please share your thoughts. Please freely share this blog. This is much deeper than a movie or a book series. I am praying for us. For freedom from these lies and for Truth to be known, as our stories rage on… In Him, Leslie