Sunday, February 28, 2010

Love, etc.

We hear a lot about love during the month of February. Valentine's Day coming right smack dab in the middle of it seems to set the tone for the month. There's a lot of conversation about love, good and bad.

Whether it has been on the radio, in magazine articles, on the internet or television - I've heard a lot of discussion about love. While a lot of it focused on the feeling of being in love, thankfully some went deeper into the true meaning of love.

Last week at our monthly R & R Working Women's lunch we talked about the many faces of love, sharing recent examples in our own lives of what living love out loud looks like. Our reminder of true love came straight from 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. I was encouraged to find that I am not the only one who struggles with loving as God calls us to love. It is definitely NOT at all about the feeling, it is about the choice of how we love. 'Cause frankly, there are lots of times when I do not feel like being patient or kind, when I am easily angered and want to hide away in my heart that feeling of being wronged, when I do not want to trust or hope or persevere. But God calls me to love in a different way - not in the realm of feeling but in the realm of making the choice to love like He does.

Then on Wednesday in Girlfriends & God, there it was again. The subject of love! Brenda asked us to describe love. And you know what?! Not one description centered on romantic love or the feeling of being in love. Every single description was one of sacrificial love. Many compared it to the love a mother has for their child, being willing to give up everything, even life, for their child.

Again, back to the Bible, this time Matthew 22:34-40. Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." and then "Love your neighbor as yourself."

If I truly love God with everything I have, with every part of myself, then I will desire to love others as he does. And if I truly love my neighbor (others) as I love myself, then I will desire to be patient, to be kind, to not be easily angered, to keep no record of wrongs, to always protect, to always trust, to always hope, to always persevere.

Oh, that it was so easy to love that way. I can truthfully say that from deep within my soul, I want to love that way. But the self-centered human side of me can find all kinds of reasons not to. And so it goes - yet another of those battles that Paul described when he said in Romans 7, "For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." So what's a girl to do? When someone says hurtful things about me. When someone's actions cause pain in my loved ones' lives? When I am treated unfairly?

I wish I could tell you that I immediately go to my Heavenly Father for help. That I never entertain a thought of revenge or wishing they 'get theirs'. I really wish I could. But, girlfriends, that would not be honest. It would be putting on that 'good Christian mask', all the time telling you one thing when I live out something different.

What I can tell you, most honestly, is that while my thoughts may temporarily wander into those mind games of 'what I will tell them when I get a chance'., I do not allow them to stay there. 'Cause I know by staying there, my thinking will become even more 'stinking' and I could find myself going from thinking to doing. What I do is pull my focus back to God, asking Him for the desire, strength, and guts to love that person like He loves them. To help me to see the person through His eyes.

And it works! Not instantly, but over time it works. And during the time it takes to work, He is doing His amazing work in my heart. Which always brings good results.

So I leave the month of love behind, but not love. Love is something I never want to be without, something I want to get better at doing. So that one day I will truly be able to say that I love like Jesus.


"P.S. I shared this post on Heart to Heart with Holley."
(This is the actual hyperlink:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tragedy to Triumph

Victim…of name calling, neglect, an unsafe home, parents who abused drugs, three divorces which lead to a father whose part-time participation in her life was less than stellar and two step-fathers, one good – the other, not so good, childhood sexual abuse. In her memoir “Thin Places”, Mary DeMuth shares her story, one of tragedy and triumph, of despair yet also of optimism. With gut wrenching glimpses of her childhood and how the impact those circumstances carried into her adulthood, Mary’s story is also one of faith, of healing, of love and forgiveness.

In the beginning chapters I found myself asking again, “Why does God allow such horrible things to happen to children?” That is a question that I don’t think can be satisfactorily answered according to our limited human vision. But as I continued to read, I saw how the loving and powerful touch of our Heavenly Father has healed those painful scars and restored beauty in Mary’s life. Not in a one-time, earth shattering, apocalyptic event but through time. We want the pain to end instantly, but that is not God’s way. Just as our physical body must heal from injuries over time, so must our emotion and mental healing come.

Not all of us experienced everything Mary did as a child. However, we all carry into adulthood things that happened to us as children. We are a composite of our experiences and environment. It is what we do with it that determines who we become. I invite you to read “Thin Places”. I believe you will find the beginning of your own road to healing when you do.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Shoot the groundhog!

O.K., maybe we won't shoot him. At least not yet. But if that pesky little critter really did hold the keys to an early spring or a longer winter...let's just say I would be fighting to be first in line at Walmart to buy a hunting license!

I'm not a huge fan of winter to start with. I love the other three seasons, but winter? For years I've simply endured it so that I could enjoy the rest of the year. Some times endure is really a matter of survival. I know, I know. I should appreciate every season because God created them all. Just like life has seasons. Some are easy to enjoy and others take a lot of work to get through. Learning to have joy in spite of the season, whether it is weather or life, is key to enjoying life.

I'm trying y'all! And I do find that I have a much more positive outlook on most winter days than I once did. I think the biggest reason I don't like winter is all of the dreary days without seeing the sun shine. Granted, I don't like to be cold and I hate to have to bundle up when I go outside. But it is the dreariness of it all that is most disheartening. It can be bitter cold out but if the sun shines, I automatically cheer up. I see a very real improvement in my outlook on life.

Thinking about how the sun can make a difference in my emotional/mental well being, I am reminded about how the Son makes an even bigger difference. No matter the season of life and how many gloomy days I find myself living through, having the Son in my life brings peace and joy.

I can't imagine the dreary hopelessness of life without the Son but I see it in the faces of people all around me. It may be the young woman asking for help with her rent, her sarcastic remarks and belligerent attitude covering up a scared and hurting heart. Or perhaps it is the man in line at Walmart giving the cashier a hard time because his credit card just rejected, wondering how he is going to feed his family. Maybe it is someone I see at church every week, living a 'church lady' life but inside wondering what it is really all about. So instead of dwelling on or grumbling about the latest weather report, I want to choose instead to focus on people. The people that Jesus came to give His abundant life to. The ones that are all around me every week. The ones that Jesus asks me to love and to tell about the hope found in the Son.

Notice I said I want to choose. It is definitely not something that comes naturally to me. My self-centered little self falls too easily into the poor me syndrome. So I am asking God to help me this week to take my eyes off the weather and to keep them focused on Him, wide open to see the people He will have me speak words of hope to.

Spring, with its promise of new life, is coming. Oh, the joy that can burst open in hearts as people are introduced to the Son, with His promise of new life. May we each be His messenger this week!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Learning to Live Like an Eagle

Eagles have long been a symbol of power and strength. It is easy to understand why our forefathers chose the eagle as a symbol of our great nation. We find many comparisons of eagles and their characteristics to the life of God’s people throughout the Old Testament.

I have heard many such accounts used in sermons and have read even more in articles and other books. Still I was intrigued by the title of the book co-authored by Avery T. Willis Jr. and his grandson, Matt Willis, “Learning to Soar: How to Grow Through Transitions and Trials”. The book did not disappoint. While most of my previous encounters with eagle comparisons focused on their power and related it to the power of the Holy Spirit or the strength of God, the Willis grandfather/grandson team begins where many of us have the hardest struggle – in our hardships, the trying circumstances of life, the times when we simply can’t understand why God has allowed something to happen or is allowing it to continue.

From there, they discuss the ways we learn patience (waiting rooms, anyone?!) and then progress to how our faith grows through stepping out, risking failure but dependent upon God. And then finally, they conclude with a refreshing challenge to live our lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, thereby fulfilling God’s plan and purpose for our life.

By comparing the process of the eagle’s growth from birth to maturity to our own spiritual growth, the authors have captured well the reality that our own maturity comes through various transitions, trials, and steps of obedience. I highly recommend this book, no matter where you currently are in your faith journey with God. You will be challenged and comforted, convicted and set free. As Avery said at the end of the book, “Catch the wind of His Spirit and soar.”

Come soar with me, sweet sisters!


p.s. Look for this book coming soon to the Hillcrest library or purchase your own copy at or
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