Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Yesterday was the day of love (does anyone else hear the voice of Barry White?). At least, the day of love, the Hallmark version.

So, I am thinking that the day after a day with so many expectations (and we have all had them at some point), some expectations that may have come to fruition, but probably many more that did not … and that is real life.

The other day, I was reminded by a poet about the love that

exceeds expectations …

every. single. time.

"He said love is patient, then He said: I am love
He said love is not not easily angered, then He said: I am love
He said love keeps no record of wrongs, then He said: I am love
He said love always protects, then He said: I am love
He said love always overcomes, then He said: I am love
He said love never fails, then He said: I am love"
- Unka Glen

As I read each line, I could (literally) feel the love.
The love of truth of those words. 

The love of One who is love. 

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Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, today (did you know?) is Galentine’s Day. It is the day to celebrate friendships.

According to Cosmopolitan magazine online, Galentine’s Day is worth celebrating “because regardless of whether you’re coupled up this month, romantic love isn’t the only kind of love that deserves all the attention.”

The Greeks had multiple words for love.

Philautia is love of self. Though it can become selfish, it is actually really important as a foundation for loving others (many verses in the Bible refer to loving others as self, so if we do not love self, how can we love others?).

Philia is the love of Galentine’s day … it is the love between friends who share mutual affection and devotion.

Ludus, or playful love is like the flirty interchanges between people who just meet.

Eros, or sexual love. THIS is what seems to be most ‘advertised’ leading up to February 14.

Pragma is the long-haul committed form of love.

Storge is love within families and/or friends who feel dependent on each other.

Mania is … not a healthy form of love. Think obsession.

Agape is the most unselfish, undemanding. There is NOTHING required or expected from someone loving in the agape way. Truly, I think it is other-worldly, for how can one love, and love, and love and never (not once) expect something in return, yet keep loving? There is only one who can love like that.

Jesus love is that agape love. He loves and loves and never, not once, expects anything in return. That is not to say that he does not hope for us to love him.

Whenever I think of agape love I think of the love a mum has for her newborn. That is full-on, full effort love. There is no payback, no guarantee of the love being reciprocated. It is just 24-7 work! And yet, mums do it. They love, because this child is theirs … irregardless of whether or not the child chooses to (ever) love back.

Love is … so varied.

My mind keeps coming back to the Cosmo quote,

romantic love isn’t the only kind of love

Don’t get me wrong, lit candles, sweet words whispered and spine-tingling touch are delightful, but love …

love is more than flowers and feelings. It is more than wrapped gifts and going to a restaurant.

It is more than receiving …

it’s giving, and hard, and for the benefit of another/others.

Here’s the thing …

We love each other because he loved us first

1 John 4:19

No manner of love, be it for ourselves, our family, our lover, our friends or neighbors …

none of it is possible except that the ultimate love was offered to us, at a cost, by the very creator of heaven and earth and us.

And so, as we stock up on Hallmark’s priciest greeting cards, and boxes of chocolates, and light the candles, and share heart-shaped cookies, this love of a day or of 365 days … they are all possible because we are loved, because He loved us, giving his best and brightest as evidence.

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One of the relationships between two people in the Bible, that I am most in awe of is the friendship between David and Jonathan. They loved each other as brothers (perhaps this is the relationship David’s son Solomon was thinking of when he wrote the Proverb about “a friend who sticks closer than a brother … though, I guess, if this was the case it was only so because of what he heard his father say of his dear friend Jonathan).

Their souls were knit together (1 Samuel 18:1).

At the death of Jonathan, David declared, you were delightful to me; your love to me was extraordinary (2 Samuel 1:26).

After Jonathan’s father, Saul, ordered all of his servants, including Jonathan to kill David, Jonathan warned him because he delighted greatly in David (1 Samuel 19:1).

The faithfulness of Jonathan to his friend had great weight when Jonathan was one of the names given to our son. My hope for him has always been that he would love his friends with such commitment.

I think part of my admiration for Jonathan’s friendship for David is that he was such a better friend than I am. He was committed, consistent, sacrificial. I can be inconsistent, selfish.

I have a wonderful group of friends. Some I see regularly, some too rarely. Some I met through work, or church or through my husband or kids. Some who I have known since children, when we attended elementary school together and some who I have met in recent months. Some who are my age, others who are a generation younger, or older. No matter the amount of time we spend together, the length of our relationships, our ages, or what/who brought us together there is a beautiful bond that, as I get older, grows sweeter, dearer, more important to me existence.

A friend is truly a gift in this life. They make life better … simply by being yours.

In this month full of chocolates and flowers and candle-lit dinners, may we not forget to express our love for those who are our friends who stick closer than sisters … or brothers.

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Happy birthday to my firstborn.

There will be no birthday number talk, since … well, to rewrite Shakespeare,

“what’s in a number? One Mrs. Dunster’s donut would taste as sweet as two.”

I am writing this days before the day that marks your birthday. Writing just hours after being in my chlldhood home, sitting with my mum, your grandmother.

I heard your name quite a few times as I was with her. I heard stories about the months that you spent on the East Coast (the ‘other’ coast) as you did a semester at a university there a number of years ago. I heard about drives to look at the foliage, meals around your grandparent’s table, an early Christmas meal at your other grandparent’s home, your fashion advice for Grammie, the pet names you had for them. 

Mostly, maybe with the most excitement, I heard about how, since that short semester you have continued to keep in touch, with calls, texts and emails.

On this day of celebration of the gift of your very breath, this day I especially offer thanks for your very life, this day of gifts for you to unwrap … I just want to tell you how you have taught me about your great gift …

the present of intentional presence. 

If you have a gift that is wrapped especially glittery it is that of your intentional presence. When you are with someone, you are completely there, completely invested in the people, in that very moment. Not only that but you also make choices as to who you want to invest in and you apply your all to making the deposits necessary in their lives so that one day there will be dividends.

You invest in those you’ve chosen, even when there is little payback, even when the recipient has been unappreciative of your efforts. I believe you do this, because you are committed to doing that which is right, that which leaves few regrets, that which, one day, you believe in your heart will grow.

When you make those regular contacts with your ‘G-units’ (grandparents) you are ensuring that you have given them your sparkly best. Not only that, but you have also reminded them that they are a gift to you and your life. That they are still worthy of your time and effort. That they are still needed and wanted and thought of … even when they are out of sight and so far away. 

Keep doing what you’re doing girl. 

You were a gift, you are a gift, you will always be a gift as you give your intentional presence.

This you have taught me.

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Months ago I began writing a blog post. The title, above, was all I wrote. Though I do not remember what exactly I planned to write, I know that I planned to reflect on our anniversary, as we reached the milestone of 32 years married.

And here we are, 32 years under our belts and a title for a blog post.

So, what is a promise?

  • a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen (Oxford Dictionary)
  • a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

But, these are nouns, things like a piece of paper, a marriage certificate, a legally binding document.

A marriage is more than paper and ink, more than a one-time declaration.

Marriage is a living entity. A moving, breathing organism. So, to define a promise we also need to look at it’s verb definitions:

  • to tell someone that you will certainly do something (Cambridge Dictionary)
  • to undertake to do something in the future (Free Dictionary)
  • to give ground for expectation (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

It is here, in the verb definitions, that our understanding of what a promise is takes form and brings understanding … understanding not just in words, but with feet to put it into practise.

Let’s be quite honest here, promises are not easy.

To make this marriage promise-making even more difficult, they are promises made in ignorance … trust. For neither knows what events, challenges and decisions are to come, that will poke and prod us as individuals and as a couple, that will change us, that will change the face, behaviors and mind of the one to whom we make these promises.

  • to have and to hold from
  • for better for worse
  • for richer for poorer
  • in sickness and in health
  • to love
  • cherish

Hubby is not the man I made those promises to …

and I am not the woman who he made those promises to either.

We have changed. Changed in how we live and think. Changed in how we spend our time. Changed in how we spend our money. Changed our location of living. Changed in our perspectives about issues that are important. Changed in how we see the world. Changed in how we see each other.

yet …

(and I can only speak for me)

I made a promise to you …

till death us do part …

And a promise should not be kept with gritted teeth, but with intent to make good what was said.

For the promise I made did not come with a caveat … no conditions or limitations.

It was not a promise to our marriage if … but even if.

Marriage is the covenant that God chooses to show, to reflect his holiness.

This promise-making is what can bring us closer to understanding the love of God (the groom) for His bride (the church). His promise is eternal, unconditional, unwavering and has far more to do with the promise maker (God) than the one to whom the promise is made (the bride).

It is not promise making for the sake of our happiness, but to bring us closer to THE promise-maker!

We must continue to hold firmly to our declarations of love, of faith. The one who made the promise is faithful.

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I love a love story with a certain storyline:

We will call them one and the other.

One is in love with the other, who is not so sure about the first one. One pursues the other, relentlessly, despite all efforts being pushed away by the other. Not pursuit as in pushy, inappropriate or abusive, but pushy as in being willing to go to any lengths for the other‘s good, even if it is never reciprocated.

Basically, one does not love for their own good, but for the good of the other … the one values the other beyond their own needs and wants, for their needs and wants come to serve the other. The love of the one is so great that, if required, they will even stay away from the other.

You see this storyline in movies such as Love Affair (1939, 1994), An Affair to Remember (1956) or in the Francine Rivers book, Redeeming Love.

Of course, the premise of such a story is a tale as old as time ( 😉 ), for it is the premise of God’s love for His created, his bride, us.

He pursues us, endlessly, every day of our lives.

He is ever available, willing and wanting for us to receive Him … his love and presence and guidance. Yet, he is not rude, not pushy … for He knows that love is best, most sincere, when it is given freely … when we choose to love.

My most favorite poetic writing is by Francis Thompson, The Hound of Heaven. In this poem, the writer is equating God’s pursuit of himself to that of a hound. I think I love this ode because I can so easily see myself in the writer’s pursuit of life, with my back firmly in God’s face. Through much of the poem we read of fleeing Him, avoiding Him, Ignoring Him. Though I (we?) do not acknowledge His presence, we are always aware that he is there … here.

This poem ends with a not so classic happily ever after. The pursued turns to his Pursuer, takes his hand. But I think that he, like many of us, like CS Lewis, simply gave in … knowing that there was simply nothing left to run to that is better than who is chasing after us.

It is after we turn (often dejected) to Him, tired of our running, tired of our own pursuits, that that joy of forfeiting our life and will to Him begins to invade our souls, bursting through ourselves to reflect the greatest love story.

“I am He Whom thou seekest”

Francis Thompson – The Hound of Heaven

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So, what’s your main thing?

You know, the thing that you love above all else?

We all have a main thing, a love greater than all else.

Exodus 20:3 tells us:

“You shall have no other gods before me”

Are our main things like gods in our lives?

Are they the main things in our hearts?

What if they ceased to exist, to live? Could we carry on with just the love of God?

I ask myself these questions sometimes … wondering if the things, the ones, that I love most have become idols in my heart and mind. I wonder if I have elevated them above my reliance on the one who made me. I wonder if I love him above all else.

As I was pondering my God, my loves, my heart, I sought out what Jesus had to say about this first commandment, for, though he does not retract from the Old Testament commandments, he does provide further clarification (Mark 12:30)

Love the Lord your God
with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind
and with all your strength.

It would seem that whereas the OT commandment sounds very much like a rule, the NT version would seem to sound sound like an act of choice (can love ever be anything but a choice?). To love with heart, soul, mind and strength is to love with every part of us, who we are.

Love is a pretty big deal in the ministry of Jesus. After expressing the greatest commandment (above) he left us with one additional commandment,

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

They really go together, for in our choosing to love God, we seek to be like him and there is no greater expression of our love for him than to love others.

Now back to the beginning … our main thing?

I think I have come to realize that God has to be my main thing. That I have to love him above all else, not just as a security blanket that keeps me safe for all eternity, but because I cannot love anyone else well if I do not first dwell in my love for my Creator. For it is in loving him that I am able to love others.

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It was overwhelming. Loving. Thoughtful. Lavish. Generous. Openhanded.

During a time of healing, my co-workers, colleagues, friends lavished love on my regularly. Each day I received texts with well wishes, updates on their lives, silly things, stories of students and queries as to how I was doing. Each week was a drop-off … flowers, meals, a puzzle, cards (even hand made ones), treats, soaps and more. They overwhelmed me with their thoughtfulness, their loving acts and hearts.

They lavished their love on me …

And that is our calling. Love is what we are … because we have been loved by the Father, we are to love others. My sweet friends showed this God-love so abundantly. They went so far beyond, beyond what I need, beyond what I deserve.

This is God-love … going beyond what we deserve.

His love exceeds expectation, it is extravagant.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God … We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:7, 19-21

What a model of God-love these amazing ladies have been to me. They have raised the bar of loving to such a height that I have a deeper understanding of the extravagant, lavish love of God.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1

Our calling
is to love the world around us
in such a way
that they will know him.

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Three little words can really pack a punch. They can move me through memories, years and so many emotions. They give me that warm and fuzzy feeling, but one that lasts …

Jesus loves me

I hear the words (or write them) and the song starts to play in my mind. Learned in a tiny Sunday School, on Canada’s other coast, the words take me there, take me through the evidence of life and living that the words are more than just simple song, but solid theology lived out.

I know that others struggle more in their belief and understanding of who Jesus was and is. For me, I have always known the truth of his presence, the simplicity that my belief in him achieves, the sacrifice that he made on behalf of me, of my eternity. Learning to sing this song only confirmed what my heart knew, before it was taught,

that Jesus loves me.

It has been the song of my life.

Though I am no scholarly theologian, like Karl Barth, I would echo his response to the question to summarize his theology with :

“Jesus loves me, this I know.”

It was one of the first songs I taught to our children. As each one learned it, I would make a call to my grandmother, so that she could hear each one sing it to her. Though I am certain that they might have sung it in various church or camp related gatherings, I am also certain that it was rare, as other songs have taken it’s place.

but still, how does one replace the security and comfort of its message?

I recently saw those words, written on a screen, on a social media post … and the heart song began within.

Jesus loves me—this I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to him belong,—
They are weak, but he is strong.

Jesus loves me he who died 
heaven’s gate to open wide. 
He will wash away my sin, 
let his little child come in.

Jesus loves me, this I know, 
as he loved so long ago, 
taking children on his knee, 
saying, “Let them come to me.” 

Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! 
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so. 

I sought out the words, to see their message and realized how very valuable they are in how we see and know truth, ourselves, as well as how we see our place in relationship with our Creator, with our Redeemer.

This song is a reminder of how very loved we are, not because of who we are or what we have done (or what we haven’t done) but because of whose we are and what he has done.

May this song play in our hearts today.

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The feeling of being in love is euphoric, but it is not necessarily intimacy.

Intimacy is (poorly) defined in dictionaries as close familiarity, an intimate act, sharing secrets, knowledge of another.

The thing about intimacy is that if it is to be authentic intimacy, is cannot occur in isolation with just one person.

Nor is intimacy necessarily physical. Sex is often viewed as intimacy, but it cannot truly be intimate unless both individuals feel safe and share a connection beyond just the physical experience.

My definition would be :

intimacy is a deep, unexplainable connection between two or more individuals who attend to each other in their sharing of time and space

I have to say I think there cannot be a more intimate relationship than that of prayer, between a mere mortal and the God who created them.

In a comment on a blog post the other day (A Prayer of Trust) a dear friend left me the following (names changed) experience she had in prayer, not for herself, but for another :

The other day I got an email from Tammy. I had promised to pray for her one day a week and I had forgotten! So I started to pray and then asked him if he took retroactive prayer into consideration (I love the honesty 🙂 ). As I was muddling through this concept I got this feeling, like he was looking at me. Jesus was looking at me. Not at Tammy and those I was praying for but looking at me. Seeing me with such an intent look. Like while I’m praying he is interested in me and not all those other people I’m concerned about. Then I realized that that is what prayer really is. Just talking to Jesus with our eyes fixed on each other like lovers, holding hands,not saying much. He loves ME! He accepts me like I am and he will deal with those I care about in the same way.

As I read her words, specifically those which are underlined, a feeling of familiarity came over me … for I knew exactly of what she was describing.

Moments in prayer when the words I speak fade into the background as the eyes of my soul meet his, when I know that I am present with him, that he is present with me. When everything and everyone one else disappears into the background. When prayer is not about praises, and confessions, and requests but about a relationship of intimacy.

when it’s just the two of you and you know you are loved beyond measure

Early mornings, no interruptions, out in the middle of nature, in the middle of a sleepless sleep, standing in the shower with the water beating down, sitting on a city bus, standing on a beach … the place doesn’t matter, plans don’t matter, failures don’t matter, even prayer requests for others don’t matter … just the intimacy between you and your God in shared time and place.

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