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Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

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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The day of love has arrived … so says our calendar.

Flowers, chocolates, lingerie, jewellery, cards and more are purchased as declarations of our love. Dinner reservations (or home deliveries) are made, candles are lit, chilled drinks poured into stemmed glasses … all to show and celebrate love for someone close to our hearts.

I’m kinda lucky, because my special guy got me freshly fallen snow … could there be a better Valentine’s gift?

The following three verses about love are probably the most frequently quoted love verses in the Bible.

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

The first, written by Paul to the Corinth church. He is instructing the believers in this community on what is important in how to live as followers of Christ.

The second are from the lips of Jesus. He reminds us that we are first to love God, then others. It is through our love of God that we have the capacity to love each other.

The third were the words of Jesus on the night before his death … after the foot washing, after Judas left the room. These were his closest followers, who would build his church on the foundation of these words.

The thing is the word love in each and every use in these verses, is the Greek word agape.

agape is the love to die for …

more specifically,

it’s the love that would die for you

Agape love is unconditional, self-sacrificing, never-ending. It is the highest form of love, the most difficult love to give, the most innately sought. As humans, I believe we were created longing for that love … it is in our DNA to seek it … for it is how our Creator-Father loves us.

Agape love costs nothing, and everything.

It takes no time, yet all of our time.

It requires that we just be ourselves, yet, in our own strength we cannot love like that.

It is the sum total of the reason for the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus … for his Father (He) loved the world so much that he gave so that we would live (John 3:16).

Agape love is to love as does not come natural for us, as humans, for it requires that we say and do things that we do not want to … because someone else needs to receive … and their need, seen through the eyes and heart of agape love (God’s eyes and heart) trump our own.

As we declare our love for those around us, today, may our words and deeds be in line with the unconditional, self-sacrificing, never-ending love that God has modelled for us.

love, as I have loved you

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February … the month of love …

As I drove to work yesterday I voiced three voice texts, one to each of our adult kids. It has become a (mostly) weekly ritual, so that I am being intentional about connecting with them, wishing them a good week and reminding them they are loved.

As I finished the third voice-to-text, I laughed out loud. Our son’s text was longer than to our two daughter’s for it included, and don’t forget to clean your bathroom.

I love you and don’t forget to clean your bathroom …

This is the struggle of loving each other up close and personal, under the same roof. It is where my business is your business and love is often interpreted as putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher, making a B+ (or higher) grade meal (family joke), not letting the dog on the bed, spraying the bathroom before you leave it and don’t forget to clean your bathroom … because we have to cohabitate together.

Living together means love isn’t just heart-warming words, kisses in the moonlight or sharing an episode of the Mandalorian together … it is living out our love as respect and service to each other.

And that’s the tough where the rubber meets the road truth.

Loving words are important, are good to share. They can be the gas that keeps love on the road. But our daily deeds, done in love are the oil which reduces the friction of bumping up against each other everyday. No love vehicle can stay on the road without both.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18

… by the way, I came home to a sparkling clean bathroom

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The Apostle John wrote Jesus’ words, concerning love :

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15:13

This is a verse that we pull out when one has done a sacrificial act to save another, when one dies in battle, when one jumps in the line of fire to save the life of another.

This is the depth of love that we remember on this fourth Sunday of Advent. It is the John 3:16 love,

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The God of Creation was so desperate that our lives be redeemed, he committed the greatest act of love, sacrificing his own Son, so that we might live.

When I focus on this greater love, in these ways, it would seem that most of us do not even have opportunity to show this greater love. For who among us encounters opportunity or reason to give up our lives for another?

What if,
perhaps,
greater love means something more?

What if greater love means sacrificing beyond our physical lives?

What if we are given opportunity to express greater love when :

  • we make efforts to befriend the less popular, less appealing, prickly person in our class, in our workplace … in our church pew
  • we respond with loving-kindness, rather than setting people straight, when
  • we leave the coffee shop, see a man begging just up the sidewalk and we take out coffee to him (and go on our day without … feeling the sacrifice personally).
  • we listen … rather than speak
  • we make the time to make the meal, write the note, send a gift to one who is grieving, lonely, one who simply comes to mind
  • we say yes, when we want to say no
  • we offer grace and forgiveness, when revenge might be a just response
  • we believe what we are told, rather than reading in to what we think is meant
  • we keep persevering … investing even when relationships poke and push us
  • we get out of our comfort zone to love others in ways that communicate love most to them

This greater love is the anthesis to what our world preaches today about cancelling friends, relatives and groups of people because they haven’t lived up to what we believe they should say, how they should live, what they should think.

It is up-side-down thinking. And this is exactly the kind of thinking … living that Jesus modelled. There is nothing he spoke more of in his recorded lifetime than love. It is through this virtue that he gave the first and second greatest commands (“love God, love others” Matthew 22:38-39)

This greater love, is the love defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 :

Love is patient, 
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud. 
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking, 
it is not easily angered, 
it keeps no record of wrongs. 
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres.
Love never fails …
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love.

This is the greater love of sacrificing for another.

May we be found loving other as Christ loves us.

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chocolate, and sunrises, and beaches, and writing, and lilacs, and red leaves, and piano music, and doing new things, and getting groceries (really, I do), and math (uh ha … you heard that right), and my husband, and my wonderdog, and lazy days, and snow, and …

love …

a four-letter word.

the four-letter word …
love.

It is a noun, a ‘thing’ … like pizza, or a flower, or my dog. It is a verb, an ‘action’ … like a hug, washing the dishes, sticking with ’til the end of the movie.

It is a word, made up of letters, equal doses of vowels and consonants. One vowel whispering not a peep, the other masquerading as another. No one letter taking the center stage, but all four working together to hold itself together as one. complete. word.

This word, like the word, in the beginning of the story of humanity. Like that silent ‘e’, which is never spoken … but always there … always … here.

He said “where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3) …

who is He?
God is love (1 John 4:8)

where is He?
he (the Spirit of God) lives with you and will be in you (John 14:17)

why?
as I have loved you, so you also must love one another (John 13:34)

how?
live in me (love), and I (love) will live in you (John 15:4)

how he loves us …

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It can seem that our world is a dire place, with so many evil acts, selfishness and hatred. It can seem hopeless … we can feel hopeless.

For Christ-followers, hope is the gift that we have accepted, that we are purposed to share, in acts and attitudes of love.

1967 might have felt similarly hopeless. It was during the time of the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Movement, Detroit riots, China tested it’s first hydrogen bomb, the Six-Day war (between Israel and neighboring Arab countries).

It was at this time that song writers Bob Thiele and George David Weiss wrote a song, that would be sung by Louis Armstrong … What a Wonderful World … in the midst of such a hopeless time in history.

Thiele stated, “We wanted this immortal musician and performer to say, as only he could, the world really is great: full of the love and sharing (that) people make possible for themselves and each other every day.”

Though this song was not written or sung as a song of praise, or from a Christian perspective, I find myself thinking of the words of writer and theologian, Fredrick Buechner:

“The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

As a Christ-follower, I have been called to my family, my community around me physically, as well as this virtual one. My deep gladness is simple, it comes from the gift of love that God has offered and I have accepted … this is where I meet ‘my world’, who is hungry, ravenous for the life-giving hope of the love of Christ.

But I cannot meet my world’s hunger, I cannot offer nourishment from a place of hopelessness, from a place of fear. I need to first be fed the good fruits, be encouraged in hope which will allow the love to grow … hopefully spilling over to the world around me.

Garbage in = garbage out

Good people, we do life in the midst of such sorrow, for so many reasons these days … but we cannot allow it to dim the light that is in us.

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” MLK Jr.

LR Knost, author, feminist, social justice activist, said:

“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”

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Forty-nine years ago my parents spoke their vows, exchanged rings and sealed them with a kiss. This happened after a short engagement, in an old stone church, surrounded by family and friends.

Forty-nine years of for better … or worse, richer … or poorer, health … or sickness. Forty-nine years of love, and arguments, and silence, and disagreements, and children, and inlaws, and bills, and holidays and memories … so many memories.

They married, but their marriage did not begin as two, for my two-year old self was there to keep them from focusing too much attention on the other. Fifteen months later their son followed and twenty-six months another son.

There were numerous dogs and cats and even a few fish (but NEVER anything from the rodent family … NEVER).

In forty-nine years there were only two homes, one built by my dad’s father, the other a new home in a neighborhood with other young families. One phone number … just one.

They raised us kids, just like they were raised. Fed us what they had been fed. Spoke words, rules and wisdom that they had been given. Disciplined us as they had been disciplined.

In their house there was always yarn, cheese and the daily newspaper. Hockey ruled the TV most evenings and closed eyes were no indication that it was okay to change the channel.

The vegetables were peas, beans or corn (or all three at once). Most meals were made in quantities that would last much of the week and appeared in casserole dishes.

Physical ailments could be fixed with Vicks Vapo Rub, Absorbine Jr. or Polysporin. Home improvements could be fixed with a nail, tape (copious amounts of tape) or wallpaper.

Christmas morning always started before the sun even imagined rising and has always included a green tree. Birthdays were never without a cake, candles, ice cream and a call to serenade the birthday girl or boy (woman or man) with Happy Birthday singing. Spring was not spring without pussy willows. Hot summer days were for potato salad (with peas). Hot summer nights would hold the possibility of a drive to Sussex or the village for ice cream. Soap operas were enjoyed by both partners (though one wasn’t as quick to admit this truth).

One spent too much money when out, the other spent too much time away at the ball field (for better or worse … so the vows say and is the reality of marriage between humans).

In recent years summer evenings were spent on the swing, looking back, looking forward.

But there are other memories. Ones a daughter or son do not remember. Ones of just the two, in their wandering through married life together. They are the spectacular memories of words said and life lived that only one other person on the planet shares. These memories of joys and even heartbreaks bring wordless smiles and tears.

Memories of a long marriage are sure to awaken us all to the brevity of life.

It is in looking back that the preceding years seem to have gone in a flash. These memories of marriage are what we hold on to. They are the gift and the offering wrapped up together … the offering in their original experience and a gift when looking back at life and love shared.

The Bible says that marriage is a mystery. Maybe the memories of a long marriage are the unravelling of the mystery, slowly reminding us how fortunate we are to have these mental souvenirs of the past.

And, even though health may fail, though life here may have an end, the memories live on in our minds, in our hearts and even in the generations that are woven into the marriage story.

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Cinnamon hearts, Hallmark cards, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, flowers priced double (triple) what they will be in a week … the consumable expressions of love in our society.

If they are consumable, they don’t last … so what are the lasting expressions of love?

I look at my ‘ring finger’ on which is my gold wedding ring sits. Though it is not my original wedding ring, it does symbolize the vows we took, the promises made thirty plus years ago.

If he were to die ahead of me (which is not my plan), it would provide a constant reminder of the love we shared for each other … it does that now while we are both still alive and well … well, most days.

The Bible speaks of an expression of love that lasts into eternity.

“Greater love has no one than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). This is a verse which tells of the expression of love from Jesus, through the willing sacrifice of his life on the cross. It is also the model of love for us all.

Jesus’ expression of love for us is the example of the Golden Rule,

Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31).

And we read it, and we quote it, and we post it on social media … like it’s easy!

It’s not easy!!

When Jesus went to the cross, as the ultimate and most everlasting expression of love he did so for ALL people!

He did so for :

  • his mother
  • his disciples
  • for the sweet church lady
  • for the child with special needs
  • for the man who gave wealth to care for the homeless

But he also gave his life for :

  • the Jewish leaders
  • Pontius Pilate
  • Adolf Hitler
  • the addict who just stole a purse to buy more drugs
  • the man convicted of child abuse

I struggle to even write that Jesus gave his life for … these people. For I struggle to see them as worthy of such love. And that is where the lesson of love rests, for me and you. The love of God is greater, goes farther, reaches lower all to reconcile, to pardon, to redeem the vilest of us all ..

me … with my hard heart (and matching hard head), my selfishness (opposed to his selflessness), my judgemental attitude.

God gave his life for me … even if I choose to not receive his gift of love, even if I choose to not be transformed by his love … he gave anyway.

The love of God is the greatest, most lasting expression of love.

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To infinity and beyond … how can one go beyond infinity?

Infinity is without limits, boundless, it is eternal. So how could one imagine going beyond limitlessness?

Perhaps the answer is in the hummingbird.

I saw one the other day, as I was scraping off my vehicle windows at -1ºC temperature and heard a noise above and behind me. Up on the deck of my neighbor’s house was a petite but quickly moving hummingbird, near a feeder. I paused, watching it’s movements, as my mind slipped to the ones that my father fed at his front window.

Later I did a little research on these small but mighty birds. Their wing movements are quite amazing, moving back and forth fifty to eighty times every second. Their wings move so quickly that they can only be seen with the use of special cameras. Their movements are not simply forward, up and down, but they can fly backwards as well. 

The movement of the hummingbird wings is in a figure eight … which really is the same shape as an infinity symbol. This seems rather perfect, as the speed of the hummingbird’s wings is almost limitless, their energy seemingly boundless.

Infinity and beyond … that’s also how far love can go. It does not end, but always keeps moving. Even after death, the love continues to go on, to infinity and beyond.

What we Leave Behind

After the ending, never regretting
Never forgetting, what we had between us
And when it’s over, it’s never over
Cause of those moments, never really leave us

What we take with us is love, love, love
Labrinth


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It’s half over …

was my sorrowful thought one day this summer, as I lay in his arms, head on his chest … my place in our world.

Thirty years of marriage have now come and gone.

Thirty years, three provinces, seven homes, numerous work places, eight pregnancies, three children … adult children now, good days, bad ones, seasons of plenty and those of want, health and sickness … mutual love and disdain at time too.

But today, as we celebrate thirty years of living under the covenant of promises that were both kept and broken (’cause there is none who keeps such lofty vows perfectly) I keep thinking, as I did that day this summer …

it’s half over
and I feel the weight to make the best of each day that is left …

be it thirty years, or more, or much less.

To know that you are entering the second half, is to know the value of what you have spent the first half fighting for, because now dawns the realization that together is not forever.

I have started to awaken to realities, since that summer day in his arms. That dinner for two is less about the food, and more about the two. That rolling over in bed, in the middle of the night, is an opportunity to whisper I love you. That driving together in silence can make you smile, just for the pleasure of being together. That the sounds of football (baseball, hockey … ) are indicators of his presence. That touch still creates shivers. That thank-you can’t be said enough. That the season of dreaming together isn’t over until we return to dust. That it’s not too late for ________ (fill in the blank) … yet.

The gift of thirty years of marriage is that each remaining day is sweeter, more valuable … not a moment to be wasted by attitudes or actions that could only bring regrets. This is the season for adventures for just two, for shared laughter and private jokes, for kisses that linger and amen whispered each night.

The gift of thirty years of marriage is waking up, thankful for the day together.

“Grow old with me
Let us share what we see
And oh the best it could be
Just you and I
And our hands they might age
And our bodies will change
But we’ll still be the same
As we are”
Grow Old With Me – Tom Odell

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