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Archive for February, 2013

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy
but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power,
revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day,
and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps,

but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr,
but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.

So, no matter what I say,
what I believe,
and what I do,
I’m bankrupt without love.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-4

In 1 John 4:7  we are told, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” Then, later in 1 Corinthians 13 we are told it is “is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (v. 4-7).

It would appear that if we are to love like God loves, we need to do so with the mind and actions of Christ in all that we do … otherwise, Christ, and all that He brings to the table is omitted.

Everywhere we go today we are faced with two words. They are ‘trendy’ words. They are ‘in’ words. But they are not always accompanied by the love of Christ. They are … social justice.

Social justice is an attempt within a society to address issues such as world poverty, clean water, sickness, human trafficking, homelessness, the environment, and oppression around the world. It is a valid, and valiant desire to fulfill the Golden Rule (“do for others what you would want done for you” aka Luke 6:31).

Our North American society is gaga over social justice. The phrase “first world problems” (complaints made by only those of us who live in the privileged 10-15% of the world) has replaced the phrase “out of the box thinking” of just a few years ago. The Occupy movement that littered many cities with everything from human refuse to biodegradable coffee cups, preached an end to the injustice of economic inequality.

Politicians pull out Social Justice issues to win over voters and elections. Teachers integrate into our curriculum teaching of the need to give and to do for those who are not as fortunate as those of us in the ‘first world’. Preachers preach of our need to love our neighbor … in another country, another continent.

“… but if we don’t have love …”

Back in December, I wrote in my post, A God Thing, about the apathy of my homeroom class in choosing one of the prescribed causes to support. The overwhelming response was, “I can easily donate _____ to one of the causes, but it really does not have any real meaning for me.”

I wonder if what these teenage students were really saying, “I can give, but I don’t have love … heck, I do not even know who I am giving to.”

I believe strongly in social justice, I donate to causes and organizations that are the hands and feet of my moula (as well as of Christ), but I have to admit that, like those teens in my homeroom, I have become so satiated with the message of social justice that it is losing any real meaning for me.

Social justice has become so trendy, so … loveless.

What if, rather than try to save those living on the streets of Tijuana, we help our neighbor who is struggling under financial burdens that might make that family homeless?

What if, rather than try to get kids out of prostitution in Thailand, we work towards building up the young girls in our neighborhoods, our schools, our churches, so that they are not tempted into

What if, rather than helping the sick, the lame, the disabled in a third world country, we got to know the senior citizen who lives alone, or the single mom whose son is Autistic, or the gentleman in the wheelchair who you see whenever you go to the swimming pool?

What if …fec41385b476074eb5cbf7fe81e454fd

we showed love …

to those most near to us?

Could there be a more ‘just’ action to do as a society?

Then maybe helping those under oppression, without basic needs, and without hope around the world would have more meaning to us?

if-we-cannot-love-the-person-whom-we-see

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We humans are hard-wired to ‘do’ things. I wonder if that was the case in the garden of Eden? I wonder if Adam and Eve awoke with a mental list of all that needed to be accomplished in the hours that day provided to them? I wonder if they were goal-oriented individuals?

Can’t you just imagine it, Adam’s eyes opening as the sun creeps across his butt naked flesh, he stretches, stirring Eve. Adam then declares:

“Eve, I need to get up from this cozy lamb wool bedding, and praise God.
Then I will walk over to the animals, and praise God.
Then I will look at the trees, and praise God.
Then I will wade into the water, and praise God.
Then I will look up at the sun, and praise God.
What are you doing today?”

I am just not thinking that this is how it was before sin entered the garden, and all of humanity was banned from it’s perfect beauty. I somehow think 4fbaa0a968bbc5f72c0f50452a2524e7that Adam and Eve were hard-wired differently. They were never concerned with existing, they just breathed the breath that God had given, and everything else that they needed was there, for them to enjoy.

It reminds me of my struggle with the story of Mary and Martha:

“As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”
Luke 10:38-42

I tend to relate to Martha … I would be inclined to be in the kitchen preparing the grub for the gang that has just descended on my house, unannounced. I would be fuming because my sister (no doubt a younger sister) was not helping me to prepare what might be served to the guests.

But my ways are not God’s ways … thank goodness!

The main course has nothing to do with food, but spiritual sustenance.

He only requires that we live a life relying on Him for sustenance for life.

He only requires that we sit at His feet, and “hang on every word.”

No ‘to do’ list required!

 

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images-1I HATE waiting!

Convinced that at some point in my life I must have prayed for patience, and God is now cursing blessing me with regular experiences that will test my patience, I now avoid praying for patience, like the plague!

Within our family there are members who are natural tools in God’s hands to do this in my life. ‘Someone’ regularly makes me wait to leave for school/work in the mornings. ‘Someone’ else makes me wait to return borrowed money. ‘Someone’ else makes me wait to return text messages. And ‘someone’ else makes me wait … for everything!

UGH!

Just recently I thought I would explode if I had to wait much longer for something deeply desired, something I felt I deserved, and yet all indicators were that my only guarantee was that I would need to continue waiting, and that there was a good chance that what I was waiting for might not ever be mine in this life.

Anger and bitterness started to really pervade my thoughts.

“But, I deserve this”

“But, I have followed the rules”

“But, but, but …”

As I was having my pity party I kept hearing in my heart, “what is your purpose in life, Carole? To please Me, or to be pleased by others?”

UGH!

How do I respond with “well to be pleased, of course” to one who sacrificed His Son … for me?

And so I was brought back to my purpose, to not just please, but to live for Christ. To love Him, and to love His creatures … even the ones who make me wait!

So, while I wait, through the seasons that might never end in this life,

“I will serve You
I will worship
I will not fade
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait
… though it’s not easy …”

“Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.”
Psalm 27:14

images

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Oh ya, you decided to read my post today based totally on the title, didn’t you?

Well, all you moms and dads of cute little children, who write the cute little things their kids say, all over social media … look out! Their questions and comments may just go where my kid’s have!

While driving in the van with my daughter, the radio was playing and, as often is the case, my daughter zeroed in on the useless information that they were sharing between songs.

The information was about an article written by psychologist Seth Myers, who wrote that make-up sex ignites similar brain neuron firing to that of cocaine to an addict (I know you are dying to read the whole thing, so here is the article that Mr. Myers wrote).

Before the next song could start the question was flowing from the lips of my daughter:

“Mom, did (notice the past tense) you and Dad have make-up sex?”

Immediately I thought to myself, “why, in heavens name did I think that having an open relationship (complete with ‘ask me anything’) with our kids was a good idea?”

Then I replied, I thought rather brilliantly (yet not too direct), “honey, I think everyone has had make-up sex.”

And I sighed a breath of thankfulness that our Q&A time of testing was over 🙂

… NOT!

She was just warming up!

The next question just about floored me (for so many reasons … none of which I will share here).

“Mom” she then said, face screwed up like she had just taken a bite of a lemon, “do you and Dad s t i l l (draw that one out) have sex?”

The palms started sweating!

My only response to my daughter was (with indignation), “You know that there are couples who are in their eighties who are still having sex?”

Her facial response was a mix of shock and disgust, which (finally) silenced her!

Watch this clip of the Happy Huffmans, aka Bruce and Esther, (they have become famous for their video of them utilizing technology, and their love story as well … worth checking out too) . And if you cannot watch the entire thing, start the video at 1:40 … although shocking to my daughter, I may have been right 😉

Love it!

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Dave and Susie are the bloggers at Double Hockey Sticks. They write about marriage, conflict … life.

I love reading their posts, and I feel I am becoming quite acquainted with this pair.

It always intrigues me when I read a post that seems to be exactly what I had been pondering, and that is the case when I read Why I Am Creating Margin.

explainmargin

The concept of margin is something that my hubby introduced to me a few years back when his medical doctor introduced him to the book, Margin, by Richard Swenson.

Like the crisp, clean space around a piece of loose-leaf paper, margin in all areas of our lives is not just a helpful, but a healthy thing to save, to plan for, to protect. In our lives today, margin is not a common concept.

We live financially from paycheck to paycheck.

We live physically medicating our ailments rather than get the rest, the physical activity, the healthy eating that could prevent some of those problems in the first place.

We live emotionally … wait, no we do not live emotionally! We live medicated due to stress and worry and fear that something might happen that stops us from ‘contributing’ to society.

We live tied to the clock!

All of this, margin-less living, means that we need to live our lives in such a way as to keep the machine going. This hinders us from living the passion-filled lives … in our jobs, in our communities (school, church, recreation), in our relationships with those we love, that our Creator breathed life into us to live.

Give the blog of Dave and Susie a read, or take a peek at the website of Dr. Richard Swenson, and consider what the margin in your life looks like.

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Why do I forget what I know?

Why do I overlook the obvious?

Why do I look for what I need in the wrong places?

Why do I look at all, when what I need is right in front of me?

“A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 18:24

3cc4f3db908903d40e74834f0fc5823dWhen we experience disappointment, loss, loneliness, discouragement … and we all will … it is important to remember that we are never alone, and that all that this Earth and life offer (people and things) is dust in the light of what god offers.

We have all had hours, days, weeks, even years when it seems as though there is no hope at all in our life. The future, whether tomorrow of every tomorrow until our last breath, can appear to us to be void of any hope.

But we have it all wrong!

Our hope is not in ourselves or our abilities.

Our hope is not in our families.

Our hope is not in our job.

Our hope is in nothing but Christ.

He is always with us … “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

He is always for us … “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

He is our strength  … “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

This song came on the radio one day, when hope seemed lost:

“You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It can not hide the light
Whom shall I fear?”

Along with the fitting lyrics of that song, were the words I had written on My Loves page, Numero-Uno. It was a good reminder to me that my hope is not in anyone, but Christ.

The words of that page were written on a ‘good’ day, but they are true for every day!

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photo-3In my work position I get to introduce students to various workplaces.

We work together, sharing the experience.

Lately the experience has been at a greenhouse, where we have deadheaded, pruned and attached bug packs to hydrangea plants and rose bushes.

On one day we were working in the greenhouse filled with short and long-stemmed roses. I could not wait to get into that greenhouse! I had driven by numerous times, wondering how delightful it must be in such an lush and warm environment. I had imagined the heady scent of thousands of blossoms, and colors to brighten even a gray, rainy Pacific Northwest day.

What I got were scratched hands.

The thorns were out to get me. They scratched the skin, they poked my flesh, they even left remnants into my epidermis to fester days later (see those bad boys in the photo to the right! Downright nasty!).

The thorns became my focus once I started through the rows of roses, getting scratched and pricked. I was grumbling under my breath, wincing with each sharp contact. Soon I was not considering the plants as roses at all, but just rows of thorns, and enemies as well.

Then, in irritation, I raised my head, to peer above the thorns …

photo-1

… and everything changed.

The thorns, the scrapes, the scratches, the punctured skin were all forgotten in a vision of beauty, glorious beauty.

Row on row of perfect white roses standing straight and tall, reaching for the heaven, as if that is what they were created to do …

And it hit me, that is what they were created to do … grow up towards the light, the source of energy for the rose.

And that is what we are created to do … grow and increase in energy by focusing on the light created by and through our Creator, Savior.

It is when our eyes drift away from our Creator that the thorns begin to prick and invade our days and our lives. God is the one who lifts our head, and shows us the beauty of the roses, despite a few thorns … and we all have thorns.

“He told me,

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness thorn.”

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen.
I quit focusing on the handicap thorn and began appreciating the gift roses.
It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness thorns.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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