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Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

There are numerous things that get harder as we age, but I am learning that there is one thing that can actually get easier.

I thought of this recently, when saying good-bye to a friend. As I spoke the words, I realized how they easily rolled off my tongue, how much more often I speak them and how saying them now comes with little requirement to hear them back.

Just three little words, yet, they come forth with ease, meaning and a burning need to speak them … now, while I can.

I love you

I am not certain of when it happened, or why, but those three words have been falling out of my mouth, in increasing frequency. Though they are words that have often been shared with my family, I have sensed a need to speak them to others … and not for the purpose of hearing them echoed back in my own ears … but simply because I need to hear myself affirming those around me that they are loved … that loved is how I define them.

As I think about it, I think that maybe God has been working on my heart.

All of our lives is a constant refining process. We begin deeply loved by our Creator. He loves us, just as we are, even though we are saturated by sin. But, he doesn’t leave us to decay from sin, he works within us to purify and refine us, purging us of what can destroy us, even though it might hurt for awhile.

As I look back I can see evidence of that refining process. Those times that left me crying out for help, for relief. Those times when all I could say was why? Those times when the life hurt, when loneliness was great, when I didn’t have any answers.

No one wants to be refined, but we all want the results of the refining process.

Through refining we become a combination of harder and softer. We become more aware of our reliance on God. We become more aware of who God places in our lives.

We become more aware that our need is greater to give love than to receive it … and that in giving it, we receive it.

Love is the tool as well as the product of the refining process of God in us. As he works through us, our weakness to truly love is exactly what he uses to refine us, strengthening us to love others … not in our strength, but in his.

“If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2b)

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other.” (Romans 13:8)

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12)

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I was beyond discouraged, for so many reasons.

It seemed that what was happening in my circle was dire, without hope. It seemed that I was unable to provide any assistance, any real, lasting help for the ones who were tugging at my heart,

and I felt a profound, heavy sadness.

Every time I thought about it … this profound sadness, I thought of the the great sadness, described by William P. Young in his book The Shack.

This profound sadness is an all encompassing, weighted, life-smothering sadness that steals not only the present, but each moment that follows.

My mind was preoccupied with my helplessness, the hopelessness of the situation at hand.

Then I discovered words that stopped my circling the drain. Words that I had spoken to my daughter, about a client who had her heart aching.

love that girl … realizing that your reach into her life has limits. You can’t undo the past, you can’t decide her future (or even help her have a future), but you can leave her with the sweet taste of being loved.

Our ability to leave the sweet taste of being loved, in the mouths of people who are hurting, who are struggling, who are, themselves, experiencing profound sadness … could there be a better gift?

I think I (we?) want to do something that makes a difference, that makes it all better. I think I (we?) forget that there is nothing we could do for another that is outmatched by love … not even hope (or faith).

“And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13

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Love Leads Us Home

“The things that we love tell us what we are.” So said St. Thomas Aquinas.

If that is true, what are we? what am I?

I love my God, my hubby, my kids, my family. I also love my Wonderdog, my job, teens, snow, Americanos, wit, math, writing and creating. So, what does that tell about me? Other than I use love in a variety of ways.

Recently, while watching a truly trashy, useless, hilarious comedy, I heard these words:

“Sometimes you love someone just because they feel like home”
(Bridget Jones)

Maybe, such simple words actually do speak to the truth of love. Whether it is romantic love (like with my hubby), parental love (with my kids), intellectual love (math), visual love (snow) or palatable (coffee) …

all of these different loves are both comfortable … and complicated.

Sometimes they make our heart soar, and sometimes they leave us with heartburn.

But, they are all loves that keep us coming back for more, that have created within us pathways back … like coming home at the end of the day.

They tell us what what we are through our need, our reliance and our daily choosing of them. They lead us home, they are our home.


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IMG_4462An early morning drive to take my son to his weekend job at a camp out of town was such a gift as the weekend began, and the previous week came to a close.

As I returned home yesterday, under the cobalt blue sky, as I absorbed the serenity of the silence in the vehicle, as I reflected on the week, I realized how many times I had experienced something like kisses blown from heaven, and was completely unaware.

When the week began I had a plan of self preservation, to ensure that I would not be working on empty. Within hours of deciding on my plan, it became apparent that my plan was thwarted before I even gave it breath.

Isn’t that a common human experience?

Don’t we all have days, times, situations
when our plans for good are halted?

Don’t such times
just make us throw our hands up
to the heavens in frustration? defeat?

The rest of the week passed … a week of  living for the weekend.

(don’t tell me you’ve never had one of those)

It wasn’t until I was contentedly driving home alone, until I whispered one sentence …

I so needed this drive full of visual beauty …

And, like a light being turned on in a dark room, pushing all that hindered full sight of what the room contained, the blessings of the week came into full view.

  • the end of the horrible, awful, terrible cold early in the week
  • the celebration of our son’s birthday with he and his friend
  • the laughter in the kitchen one night as our daughter regaled us with a spider story
  • attending the birthday party of a long since graduated student
  • the words of affirmation and thanks from another long since graduated student
  • a forecast of sun, sun, sun
  • the warmest greetings from a mom I barely know, whose daughter graduated with ours
  • an unsigned, cheery postcard in the mail

Each event, as I reflected, were like lightly placed kisses on ones forehead. The kind that  are more about adoration than passion, more about giving than taking, sometimes barely felt at all … yet they build up, are more intimate and last longer than any other.

Though we can interpret each of these events as simply just individual events, just the happenstance of life, there is more benefit from them, more purpose and life-giving in them if we can see them as (I believe with everything in my being) the gestures of love from a very loving God, who desires that we see his love and care for us as constant, as abundant.

And so, I look back at the events of this week and I can see the love my heavenly father has for me.

May I prompt you to also look back at your week, and see if you too were so busy living life that your missed the kisses blown from heaven into your week.

“For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Zephaniah 3:17

 

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Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 8.50.57 AMMarriage should never be boring … right?

So, I recently learned something about my hubby of nearly twenty-nine years, and it all started with an invite to a shower (no, not a bridal shower … the one in the bathroom) … is that too much information? Probably … oh well …

So, he was heading to the shower and I said, quite innocently, “can I pop in too?”

His response was … typical (I am NOT going to define that), followed by a shocking comment, “as long as you don’t wear that shower cap”.

Truly the floor fell out from beneath my feet.

I mean I had just gotten it (new house, new shower cap) and it was so nice to replace the one with the broken elastic that could easily have been replaced with a Ziplock freezer bag, with better results.

What followed was a hysterical conversation about how … uninspiring my (pretty) (new) (practical) shower cap was, in his eyes.

This was a breath-of-fresh air, humorous sharing that felt so good … so … not serious.

Sometimes marriage can become all about the decisions, the hard stuff, the heart-breaking stuff, the mundane stuff. Sometimes marriage just needs laughter that is inspired by something unimportant and silly. Sometimes marriage just needs giggles about something that no one else would understand. That laughter is from a place that is deeper and more intimate than any other words or act.

“Live happily with the woman (man) you love
through all the meaningless days of life
that God has given you under the sun.
The wife (hubby) God gives you
is your reward for all your earthly toil.”
Ecclesiastes 9:9

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Screen Shot 2018-07-26 at 8.01.09 AM

I am a big fan of the story of the Velveteen Rabbit. Though I did not read this story until I was an adult, and a mother myself, I would have to say it had a profound effect on my life, how I think, how I live.

It is the story of what it is to be real, and how one becomes real

… by being truly loved.

One of my favourite parts (and there are many) is when the Skin Horse explains to the Velveteen Rabbit what real means: “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

There was something in that message that spoke to my young mama heart, and it transformed how I lived, how I saw the experience of living … real living.

As I look back now, I think I understand why that message penetrated my heart.

As a stereotypical first born individual, I was a seeker of perfection, of pleasing others, of doing what is expected of me. That worked well for me as a child and a teen, but adults know well that there is no perfect formula for living that will draw the perfect, desired results.

Sometime, life is hard.

Sometimes, life does not work out perfectly.

It was as I began to internalize the message of the Velveteen Rabbit that, bit by bit, I began to allow my worn bits to show. I did not hide the reality of life and living to others around me. Not overnight changes, but, like the Velveteen Rabbit, slowly, through the years.

Just the other day I laughed at myself … like great big belly laugh … in front of a cashier in a store, for some silly thing I had said or done. As I was laughing at myself I realized that I would not have done that when I was a teen, a young adult. Instead I would have interpreted my error as failure, I would have hung my head in shame and embarrassment, hiding my flaws and foibles so that no one would know that I made mistakes …

… that I was real.

Learning to be really real, learning to embrace the lack of decorum, the kinks in our armour, the flaws in our personalities, is what it is to be authentic, to be real. And we are all real! We just aren’t all comfortable in the fact that being real is to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly, that we all really are.

Those years ago, when I discovered the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, it was then that I realized that, like the boy in the story, it is God who truly loves us. It is he who made us real, it is he who love us for who we really are … not who we think we need to become. And when we learn to accept the price of his love for us (the sacrifice of his own son), it is then that we become real to others around us.

“If you stick with this, living out what I tell you,
you are my disciples for sure.
Then you will experience for yourselves the truth,
and the truth will free you.”
Jesus
(John 8:31-32)

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Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 10.36.09 AMOne would have to have been living under a rock to have not been aware of the royal wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle yesterday.

There was pomp and circumstance, movers and shakers in many arenas, delightful children being … children, spectacular music and decor, the exchange of rings and vows and even a rather evangelistic message of love and redemption.

The vows that were made were simple, traditional and sombre (serious). There were vows spoken by many before them, from the most prosperous to the lowest pauper. Perhaps that universality is what makes them as significant as the promises themselves, for the effort to keep such vows is as daunting for all, no matter their circumstance.

A vow is many things. It is a promise, but more than that it is a pledge, a commitment, a dedication, a pledge … a guarantee. When one makes such a vow, as one at a wedding, one is saying,

I will see this happens, until death.

Vows are not necessarily a mandatory custom of marriages all over the world. Nor are they legally binding. So, why say them?

Tradition is probably the main reason that many people still respond to or repeat in their wedding ceremonies. Yet, is that all that wedding vows are for those who repeat or speak them?

In the Bible, vows were addressed, by Moses,

“This is what the Lord commands:
When a man makes a vow to the Lord
or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge,
he must not break his word
but must do everything he said.”
Numbers 30:1-2

This message from God reminds us that the words we speak, whether to God or another promise or pledge, is a serious commitment, and must be honoured. Truly we could say that this scripture is the same message as the phrase, my word is my bond, which is “used to indicate that one will always do what one has promised to do” (Mirriam-Webster).

Our vows, spoken in a wedding ceremony, are not just words of tradition, but words of the will. We rise each day willing ourselves to fulfil them, in honour of our word.

May God grant Harry and Meghan, may God grant us all, strength and will to do what has been said … as long as they, as shall live.

 

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