Over the past couple of months I have grown increasingly convinced that even my best estimations of God’s love will always fall embarrassingly short.

I love the book of Hosea. If you are looking for a place to start reading about the faithful and all pursuing, perfecting love of God, you must read the book of Hosea. I am not going to recap the book of Hosea because it is so beautiful that any summary I could write would fall embarrassingly short of honoring its message. Stop what you are doing and read it right now.

But long story short- Hosea describes God’s unfailing love and faithfulness, despite our forgetfulness and pursuit of everything else but God. He waits and lets us gorge ourselves on those pleasures until we feel totally empty. He waits to pursue again, until we remember it is all about the Creator and not the created.

You may seek after your lovers, who gave you bread and water. But God’s love is so jealous and perfecting that He is going to knock down those idols until you see that it all was from Him and Him alone.

Hosea 2:

For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
who give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns,
and I will build a wall against her,
so that she cannot find her paths.
She shall pursue her lovers
but not overtake them,
and she shall seek them
but shall not find them.
Then she shall say,
‘I will go and return to my first husband,
for it was better for me then than now.’
And she did not know
    that it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine, and the oil
,
and who lavished on her silver and gold,
which they used for Baal.

I easily forget that God is the provider of every good and perfect gift in my life. I start to look at the people whom I love so much and forget that it is only by his grace that I get to spend another day with each one of them. It is only by his gracious provision that I even know and deeply love those people.

God provides it all. He gives it all. It is all from Him and points back to Him.

“It was I who gave her the grain, the wine and the oil.”

My heart is quick to idolize those I love around me. I forget that every astounding act of gracious love I experience from my husband, friends or family is all ultimately from Him.

Or on the flip side, when I feel any sort of tension or brokenness in any of those relationships I quickly forget that He is control. I forget that He sees the brokenness and is working in the midst of the hearts of all those involved. All pain is purposed. I am only called to honor other people above myself and trust Him.

Here is the thing. Only God is truly good. I have the best husband and family ever but they are not God. Our loved ones are all broken people. My responsibility is to love them more than need them. God has and will provide everything I need.

He is so good. Every beautiful miraculous thing we experience and those we love all come from Him. He is totally in charge and only He sees it all.

“It was I who gave her the grain, the wine and the oil.”

Tough painful seasons come and they tempt us to take our eyes off the astounding goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. Well it is a trap. Do not believe it. Do not give it a second thought. Sit patiently before God. Seek him, do whatever you need to do to remind yourself of his holiness and goodness. Our feelings are so fleeting but the truth is He is always good and ALWAYS working.

That is true. That is the truest truth I know. Every good and perfect gift comes from above. It is all from Him. All for Him. All about Him. It has so little to do with me, you or us. He sees it all, knows it all and is working throughout it all.

“It was I who gave her the grain, the wine and the oil.”

I love olive trees and olive grooves so so so much, it just does not make sense. There is just something about olive trees that always makes my heart so happy. The light shimmery, green color of the leaves on the olive tree is just the most beautiful color in the entire world in my book. You can not manufacture or reproduce a color that light, shimmery and beautiful. Florence is totally surrounded by olive grooves and vineyards for days. You can just wander through any of the surrounding countryside and walk through the most beautiful olive grooves. It is so romantic and peaceful. My favorite photos from our summer are these photos from underneath those olives grooves. I just love remembering these moments because they encompass so much joy. I will never forget it.

Below is a list of things you MUST do while you are in Florence…..

  1. You must walk to the Piazza Michelangelo and watch the sunset. Make sure you buy some wine and cheese to enjoy while the sun sets. Crowds gather every night to watch the sunset from this point and it is well worth the short little hike for this beautiful view of the city.
  2. Buy a ticket to see the Bardini Gardens and Balboa Gardens. I loved the Bardini gardens more than the Balboa gardens but the ticket they make you buy allows you access to both so you should see both for sure. You could spend an entire afternoon walking through these beautiful gardens.
  3. See the David. No explanation really necessary. The David is totally epic and worth an entire trip to Florence. Plan ahead and make sure you buy your ticket ahead of time because the museum sells out most days during the summer.
  4. Make sure you wander across the Arno and check out the Piazza del Passero. This is our very favorite Piazza and basically has everything you could possibly ever want on every corner. There is such a cute bar on the corner where  you can drink as many Aperol Spritzs and cappuccinos as your heart desires. After drinking your Apertif, eat dinner at 4 Leoni or Il Maggazino. Either of these restaurants are fabulous and both open up onto this adorable piazza.
  5. If you want to explore some of the neighborhoods a little more you should have dinner at Trattoria del Orto in the Oltarno neighborhood.
  6. If you are feeling fancy and want to grab a $12 euro drink (most drinks around $5 euro), we love the rooftop of the Hotel Continental. This is an awesome place to have a drink and enjoy a beautiful view of the city.
  7. Wander through the Santo Spirito square and grab a pizza from GustaPizza.
  8. Buy as much beautiful paper as you can possibly get your hand on! There are so many gorgeous paper stores in Florence and you should buy as much handmade paper as possible while you are here.
  9. Finally! Rent a scooter from New Tuscany Scooter Rental and explore the gorgeous countryside surrounding Florence. Only rent a scooter in Italy if you have prior scooter driving experience! Driving a scooter surrounded by crazy Italian drivers is no joke and this is definitely not safe for first time scooter drivers!

^^ Totally in my happy place in the olive grooves

^^ A few more pictures from scooting around Florence

  

^^On the step of our apartment 🙂

^^ Love this guy