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Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

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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The marriage relationship is not an easy one. If the classic rose colored glasses were ever worn, by either party, they have usually been shoved askew before the nuptials even take place.

The bonds of marriage are legal as well as spiritual and at times (for all people) it can feel like a life sentence.

The marriage of two people, is often the language used of God and the church.

“‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Sometimes I look at my own marriage and cannot, for the life of me, see any comparison to how God loves his church.

I am selfish … He is unselfish

I seek my own well being … He seeks our well being.

I give up easily … He is committed eternally.

Perhaps if our focus is on how he loves the church, rather than on how our spouse loves us … perhaps then we would see his plan for us in our marriages. Perhaps that is the true mystery.

First we need to understand His purpose for the church, as well as for our marriages.

The purpose of the church is to glorify and worship God … such is the purpose of marriage.

Now that is a mystery! For few of us can say that others would see our marriages as examples of the glorification and worship of God. Yet, our marriages are to be the mirror through which others see the love, the sacrificial, selfless love of God. If we were to achieve this lofty goal, it is a mystery as to how profoundly our world might change.

Two flawed mortals tied together in marriage can make a great deal of knots, twisting and turning us inside and out. It can also be the binding that can make you feel more freedom than anything else … I think the later is how it was intended. Loving our ‘other’ as an outpouring of our love for God … that he, God, be glorified … and in fulfilling this we are more freed than bound.

“The covenant that binds can be what sets you free to be.
The covenant that binds can be what holds

when everything’s blowing up.
The covenant that binds

can bond your heart to your one place of belonging,
when everything else lets go.”
Ann Voskamp

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Almost thirty years of marriage!

That’s what hubby and I will be celebrating in a few weeks.

Thirty years ago our understanding of love was not what it is now. There have been seasons when my perspective on marriage was all about me, or all about him … not where it should have been. Eventually we all need to land where it is supposed to be, if we ever hope to thrive in marriage … in life.

Gary Thomas said, “the irony is that thriving and celebration is rooted outside the marriage rather than within it …

When God rather than your marital status defines your life, marriage changes dramatically. ” 

“don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life” (1 Cor. 7:17).”

God, not your marital status, defines your life

I had thought that in being married the definition of my life was being constructed, but then I discovered that if I first allow God to define my life, my marriage is one of the first areas of life to improve, to thrive. Mainly this is because …

love is no longer defined by what I do for hubby, or what he does for me, but by who God is.

This marriage (ours, everyone’s) is not about me, it’s not about him … it is and was and will ever be the outliving of our relationship with God. Not about me or he, but about God’s strength in the midst of our weaknesses, God’s purposes in the midst of our wanderings, God’s love in the midst of our selfishness.

Our marriage is a reflection of God in our lives … some days a poor one, some days much clearer. We reflect best when we are reflecting the love of God, rather than reflecting each other or ourselves.

We love each other best when we love each other as God’s creation and through His eyes, rather than our own.

God, not your marital status, defines your life.

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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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