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Love that “sticks”

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle. Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others. Doesn’t revel when others grovel. Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth. Puts up with anything. Trusts God always. Always looks for the best. Never looks back, but keeps going to the end. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, MSG

I read over the passage before me again. I had read it hundreds of times over the course of a year or more. Had prayed it probably just as many. As I read it, I wasn’t expecting it to tap into the very reason it pulled at my heart.

A sticky note. Yes. A simple yellow post-it. Written on it in kid writing: “Always be kind and work hard on your dreams.”

A sticky note I was never even supposed to have. After all the other notes with inspirational messages were hanging on other doors and walls throughout school, as planned-this one remained on the original door in which it was posted. Right in plain sight as I opened that door. The only one left. How did I miss it? I could bet my life I took them all down.

But, no. There it was. Staring at me. So completely out of character, it seemed. Those words. When others spoken had not been so loving or “kind” at times.

I still have that yellow post-it. No, I didn’t chuck it in the trash, though in all truth-I wanted to. Not believing at the time anything written on it.

But, God is who He is, and not a lot He does or asks us to do makes sense. So, instead of ripping that small piece of paper up and tossing it, I took it off my door, and posted it in my Bible.

I slapped that note on the page where 1 Corinthians 13 was printed. And every day…I prayed.

I prayed that the author of those words would indeed be kind and have all their dreams come true.

But I didn’t stop there. I prayed that same “author” would learn to be kind. Not rude. Would refrain from being irritable. To always speak and seek the truth.

And I prayed I could do the same, so this person would know who Jesus was through me.

To know His “true” love.

See, love isn’t always the romantic version that the movies portray. That isn’t what Paul is referring to in the Love Chapter. While it makes for a great reading at weddings, it isn’t reserved for husbands and wives. We don’t simply desire these things in only our romantic endeavors.

We are called to show unfailing love to all. To all God’s children. And, yes, that even means His “hard to handle” children. Some whose names are written on sticky notes.

Love is freely given. It doesn’t come with strings attached.

Love that “sticks” is an encourager. It speaks kind words, wise words, and doesn’t seek to tear down with harsh words.

Love is forgiving. Seeking to always reconcile with others, restore relationships, and not keep bringing up past hurts and mistakes.

Love sacrifices. Even if it’s scary. Even if it’s hard. Even if everyone else is bound and determined to do something different. It doesn’t think of self and reputation, but instead thinks about what is best, good, and true for others.

No. You don’t have to be in a romantic relationship to desire a love that sticks around.

Nor do you have to be in one to show it.

We are all called to love whoever God places in our path, or whomever He places on us His burden.

So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. 1 Corinthians 13:3

I don’t know what post-it note you need to stick in your Bible. But someone out there is bankrupt because they don’t know His unfailing love. Love them today. Love them until one day it finally “sticks.”

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2019 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Others

 

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Love that simply gives

“I filled it up. There are more left, but I stopped at 316.”

316?

“Yes. 316 mints.”

A jar. Filled to the top with 316 mints counted out by my daughter.

“You know. For John 3:16-For God so loved the world He gave…and you are giving.”

Or so I thought.

They, however, were never given. Instead all 316 sat on a shelf at work, attracting others to grab a few as they headed back to class.

For God so loved…

My hope was that each time a mint was given, someone felt a little more “loved.” That although the one for whom those 316 were originally intended never received them, others felt love that was offered with no strings attached. Just simply given.

For God so loved the world…

There was a part of me that resented those mints. I could not wait for them to all be gone, and I was determined I would not buy anymore-ever!

When I was encouraged to buy more, I remembered my initial reason for getting them in the first place. So that little “blessings” of love would be handed over to someone who needed it.

Because He gave…

And if He kept giving, certainly so could I. It didn’t matter what happened then, others needed me to give…now.

His one and only son…

He became flesh and dwelled among us. And my flesh was called to do the same. I had been placed in a new neighborhood. I was still called to go and love others, no matter what happened in the old one.

No matter what happened after the 316th mint was counted. It was still love that motivated the giving. Nothing else.

Whosever believes in Him…

No matter where circumstances may have moved me, I was still called to be the one who followed the example of the One. Who helped people feel as if they belonged. Feel cared for. Accepted. So that maybe in the giving, others would believe in Him, because they saw Him in me.

Something different. Someone like Jesus.

Shall not perish…

So that spirits would be quickened before unwise choices are made. To learn love does not fade when certain conditions are not met.

And if that love, belonging and connection comes from a silly mint.

So be it.

I know I would do it again. And again. And again.

All so someone can feel the love of God.

A love that simply gave.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2019 in Loving Others

 

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Fear not

I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

“I’m not sending the kids up, since you are asleep.”

This is what my husband had declared to me as he got the kids off to school. Part of the morning routine he has handled for several years.

This morning I was not getting up and getting ready to head to my own school. An on-line threat kept area schools closed. I was home for the day.

Now, letting me sleep in was a kind gesture. But I was up. I wasn’t going back to sleep, and as I lay there I had this thought for the very first time: “No. I have to get up and hug them, and tell them I love them. What if they don’t come home?”

For the first time, I feared that. That I would be at home. My kids would be at school. And I would not be able to reach them, keep them safe, or even get them home. And, my kids are Caucasian. Not even the intended “target.”

Fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Terror. Fear. Being scared. Anxious. These things come from the enemy. Constant worry and panic is an attack from the devil to keep our eyes away from the one who can conquer evil. It’s Satan’s tactic to keep us crippled so we can’t act. So we can’t move our hands and feet to show up where love needs to be seen. To show it. To give it.

You know what else comes from Satan? Let’s be honest: Hate. The kind that thinks it’s OK to instill fear in a group of people, simply because they don’t look, think, see things the same way we do.

Let’s call it what it is: Evil. Sin.

Nothing of this kind of act is born of love.

I can sit here in fear. Fear for my children. Fear for those that aren’t mine that I love and care for deeply.

Or I can do something to make sure that fear and terror, caused by the enemy does not take residence in my heart.

I choose to love and teach my kids to love all the same. If it makes us a target. So be it.

I choose to teach my children that hate language of any kind is not accepted. Not in our house. Not at school. Not in their community.

I choose to teach my kids to stand up and speak out against those who use unkindness and hate speech to intimidate and create fear in others. To call out the bully. The mean people. Let them know it’s not OK. It’s not just the “way they are.” Because we are called to be better.

I choose to teach my kids to love the outcast. To eat with the lonely. To love the unloveable. To break bread with everyone, even those that are far different. Because that’s how we learn from each other. That’s how we grow. That’s how we ensure that people are not feared.

I may be just one little white woman. I may not be able to change an entire world with my love. Or my kindness.

But I can be a living example for my white children. So they know hatred and bigotry of any kind is not accepted. That we will not fear the message of love that comes from Christ. That we will love, honor, respect, and walk with people from all walks of life.

Even if we don’t look like them.

Even if we don’t talk like them.

Even if we don’t believe like them.

We will not fear love.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2019 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Others

 

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“Real” Love….getcha some.

I’m going to show my age here. Urban Cowboy. It’s a movie. John Travolta. Not so Grease and Saturday Night Fever cool.

Common boy meets girl, fall in love, fall out of love, do whatever you can do to make each other jealous until you realize…well darn, he really was the one type of movie.

Classic.

I remember the movie. Yes. But, I remember one of the songs even more. Probably because when I think of this song it brings to mind a late friend. Singing it over and over in the middle of my living room, doing the same exact thing: “Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places/Lookin’ for love in too many faces.”

Sound familiar?

Looking for acceptance from the number of likes on your Insta post.

Looking for approval from the “in” crowd. The “cool” kids.

Changing who you are, or ditching your own goals because someone else has told you they were lame. All because he or she “loves” you.

Looking for love from the first person who looks extra long at you, or gives you a sideways glance, even if they may be oh-so-wrong for you. Even if you know this already. You need love.

Looking for attention from those who will laugh at any little thing you do, even if it’s not some nice stuff. Maybe some downright cruel stuff.

You will change your style to find love.

You will do whatever you can to lose weight for love.

You will give up on a dream for love.

You will forget who you are.

All for what you believe to be love.

Love like that. The kind that demands you be someone you are not. The kind that is all based on that “Ooooohhhh. Aaaaahhhhh. I need that” feeling. It’s fleeting. It goes away once that “need” goes away. And then you move on to something else.

There is, however, a love that never leaves.

God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!” Jeremiah 31:3, MSG

It’s the love that comes from our Creator.

How would I know?

Because I knew the fleeting kind of love. I knew the kind that caused me to sell myself short because someone “loved” me. Because it was “cool.” Because I “needed” something.

But when I realized that all I ever needed to be was wholly and gloriously me in the eyes of God. That I could be accepted in all my broken pieces, and he would love me anyway, and create in me something new and amazing-I didn’t need the approval of the world anymore.

Love found me. It loves me when I am unloveable. It pushes me towards a dream that is all my own. It knows my personality. My style. What I bring to the table. To the room. The space I am in, and uses that, because He put that in me. He loves those gritty, fiesty, inner fighter parts of me.

The world will look at those parts and see something different, and there was a time that used to break me down. But I’m not looking for love from those faces.

I’m looking for it from One place. The One.

Because I’ve never known anything else quite like it.

Want that kinda love? The “real” kind. Unconditional. Everlasting. You can getcha some, too. It’s pretty amazing.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2019 in Craving More of God, Loving Oneself

 

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Through his eyes

In my job with students during the weekday, I get to spend my time supporting them in various activities. I have had the pleasure of learning how to play the saxophone. I have sat through many an assembly. Gone on a number of field trips, and completed a number of art projects. This was no different.

The assignment was 20 things. Each student had to turn to a page in their book and list 20 things that described themselves.

I noticed something. So many were struggling with those 20. Needed help even coming up with one. Looked around the room for a word. Even asked their peers to describe them, wrote what their peers said, or some word they over heard. “Oh yes, that’s me.”

It bothered me enough that I sat in the lunch room the next day and did the same thing. I wanted to make sure I was just as distracted. To see if this was the reason it was so hard. If I could come up with my own list of 20, or if I would need help along the way. If I would get stuck. Need to look around for validation. Seek the faces of the people around me for support.

‘Cause you stood right there, And then you broke apart the lies. You told me I had something beautiful inside. You brought to life the part of me I thought had died. ‘Cause you stood right there until I saw me; I saw me through your eyes  -Brit Nicole, Through Your Eyes

And I realized why it wouldn’t take me long. And, after seeing my list, why mine was so different than the lists of those preteens in that art class. Because words like forgiven and redeemed would not be on their lists. They were seeing themselves through the eyes of the world. Placing value on themselves based on the opinions of those around them.

I knew in the moment I wrote my 20 things who gave me my value: God. I see myself how He sees me.

But I didn’t always feel this way. I am pretty sure my preteen self looked to the world for approval. I didn’t seek God. I know for sure I didn’t have the relationship I have with Him now. My friends were much “cooler.” Or so I thought.

If I only knew what I know now. No one will love you like He will. No one will accept you in your brokenness like He will. No one will forgive you in the way He will. No one will see all your wretchedness, and look at you with tender love the way He will. No one can  see you the way He does. So stop looking at yourself through the lenses of everyone else, and start looking at yourself through His eyes.

https://youtu.be/WJzaQP1GmEc

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2019 in Loving Oneself

 

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Until His voice is louder

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“Whose voice is loudest in your life?” -Sadie Robertson

“You failed again.”

“Not good enough.”

“Yep. Told you they were right. Nothing redeeming in that one.”

“No one cares. No one is listening. Where is your God now?”

“Mmmmhmmmm. You messed up good this time. He isn’t coming to save you.”

Imperfect. Failure. Incompetent. Naive. Ineffective.

The voices that drown out the loving words of my Father, are the ones of criticism and contempt. These take residence in my head. Mess with my deepest insecurities and doubts. And, after they do, then Satan has done his job. Had me believing all the lies he and others have told me.

But, this is the thing about the devil:

“He was a killer from the very start. He couldn’t stand the truth because there wasn’t a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies.” John 8:44, MSG

And, the Liar fills our heads with them, too. Our homes. Our hearts. Our relationships.

I don’t want the loudest voice occupying space in my head to be the one that tells me how horrible I am. How unloved and unworthy I am. I don’t want the one occupying space in my home, my relationships to be the author of destruction.

I want the voice that speaks the loudest to me. The one that drowns out all the nonsense and lies of the world to be words of encouragement.

I don’t want the words that are the loudest to be reminding me every time I fall (because I do…flat on my face!)…but, to remind me of all the times I have gotten back up, and to gently pick me up when I don’t feel like I can go on, because that voice gives strength.

But, how do I push away those other voices-those dirty, lying, abusive, no good to me voices?

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Stay in His word. Armed with His truth!

Just as Jesus was as he walked with Satan in the wilderness. Even the King of Kings wasn’t immune to the incessant, lying schemes of the enemy (Luke 4:1-13)

When Jesus needed sustenance, the devil used his voice to attempt to diminish God’s ability to provide: “Come on, Jesus. Can’t you provide your own bread if you are so great?” (v. 3)

When Jesus was suffering, hurt, broken, ready to give up…he offered him a way out; not once, but twice. “Come on, Jesus. Don’t you want all of this? This kingdom before you instead of that cross?” Jesus listened to God’s voice (v. 6-7).

“Come on, Jesus. Just jump and give up already! Your God will save you, won’t he?” (v. 9-11). But, Jesus once again listened to God. Each time rebuking the devil with God’s voice. He will be my provider. He will meet my needs. He is my one and only God. I will not test him.

Our critics. Our naysayers. The insecurities the devil knows so well…because he does. He knows them. Those negative thoughts cannot become the loudest voices in our heads.

The voice that needs to shout above all the lies that Satan attempts to throw at us while we walk in the wilderness needs to be our Father’s. The one that reminds us we are not failures, we are worthy. We are not imperfect, we are wonderfully made. We are not incompetent, we are qualified through Him; made powerful through His strength.

When the devil tries to tell us anything different, we shout the truth. When the devil tries to convince us to give up, we remember God’s word that encourages us to persevere. We make His voice the only one allowed to have permanent residency in our head.

Until His voice is the loudest!

 

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2018 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Oneself

 

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It’s OK…He gets me

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I’m fully known, and loved by you. You won’t let go, no matter what I do.  -Tauren Wells, “Known”  

I have been blessed to have some fantastic friends who have been placed in my life. The kind that just seem to get me. Who know what I need at just the right time. And, give without being asked when I need it the most.

The tribe who sends silly pics to get me through the hard days at work. Surprises you with coffee and chocolate for an even tougher Wednesday evening, because they know how hard the first “shift” was, and they know this one may just kill ya.

The ones who send the “Hey, you were placed on my heart today, and I was just checking on you,” text. The one you get at the moment when…well, your heart was breaking just a little.

The ones who know what you are going to say before you say it (and stop you from saying it). Who you can give “that look” to from across the room, and they know just what it means (and make sure to remind you to “fix that face.”).

The man who comes home with your favorite candy because he knows, he just knows it’s been a hard day, and you could use just a little “joy.”

And, God bless the ones who utter the words: “Girl, you look down. You need a hug.” Because, they can see it in your face, and they want to carry your burden.

Yes, I am blessed with some amazing friends.

But, there are still times when I wrestle the darkness, and I feel alone. When I feel people don’t get certain parts of me.

The parts that hold in tangled emotions that if shared, I fear these people who have my back, would turn theirs and leave. The passions about which I feel so deep. The desires and the burdens of my heart. The reasons why I don’t just simply give up on some folks. The reasons why I cry…a lot. Why I am angry, and want to run away screaming.

So, instead…I just hide. I hide these things from those who love me. Because, I think they couldn’t possibly get me.

And, the truth is…sometimes they won’t. But God does. He knows me. He gets me.

O Lord, you have examined my heart and you know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I am far away. Psalm 139:1-2

He knows our anger. He knows our bitterness. Our hidden sorrows. Hurts. Passions. Desires. Those things we just don’t think we can explain to other people, and He gets us.

Even in our deepest, darkest, weepiest moods…the kicking, screaming, fighting, and crying ones. He gets us. Just like a blessed friend, He knows exactly when we need a reminder that we are loved, and sends a note slipping from the crevices of a Bible. A note, saved, but long forgotten.

Just like coffee from a friend. Chocolate from my man. Or a hug from my beloved coworker.

He gets you. Even if you think no one else does. He knows you. All of you, and He loves you just the same.

 

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2018 in Broken, Yet Beautiful

 

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