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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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Father, forgive them…even the bullies

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

I have spent a number of weeks both at home and in my “day job,” trying to teach compassion and kindness. Encouraging children to not point out differences as if they are an abomination. But learning to love and accept the differences we all have.

Many times I have failed. Thinking the bigger bully. The one with the loudest voice wins. At times I have been deeply discouraged. Feeling as if my effort to teach kindness and love is falling on deaf ears.

I have not been immune to bullies myself. Yes even adults are bullied. Even kindness warriors are treated unkindly. And in our home we have experienced what happens when a friendship goes sour, and a young girl becomes a target.

So despite the hatred, we seek to infuse our world with kindness. A love for all. To demonstrate and model these in the hopes that it will create a more kind, and less cruel world.

Love and kindness are both the way of Jesus.

But, so is prayer for those who are anything but kind.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27

But Jesus took the call to prayer even further. He didn’t just pray for those who were outcasts, or deemed unacceptable by society; he lived among them. And he was criticized and questioned each time he stood up or dwelled among the least of these.

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law saw him eating with the sinners, they asked the disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.” Mark 2:15-17

And it is what we should do. Call the sinners. Spend time healing the sick. Many times we focus on the victims, as we should. But what if we did something different…and prayed for that bully? Or the person we don’t like? The person who is mean and rude to us day after day?

Jesus was clear when he called us to minister to the “least of these” in Matthew 25:40. He was clear that we are to feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Welcome the stranger. Stand up for the oppressed. Visit the prisoner. Love the unloveable.

Even the most unloveable bully.

This kind of love may make you an outcast. It may scare some folks who don’t embrace different. Praying for the bully is radically different. But we are called to be all these things. Because we are called to be like Jesus, and call the sinners.

So, next time you find yourself lamenting about the harsh words of another person. The actions of a bully. Or the cruel and hateful world. Speak the following in prayer instead:

Lord, I pray that you give them a new heart and put a new spirit in them. Lord remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

Remember to pray for the least of these. Encourage the least of these. Build up that bully. Sit amongst those who are not like you. Who may make you cringe, or hurt you. Because you may be the only one who is praying for them. The only one who is praying for their heart to be changed.

And because it’s what Jesus would have done: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” 

 

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2019 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Others

 

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A BFF like no other

The subject of friendships has been the topic of much discussion in the many roles I have in this crazy thing called life. Friendships, especially those you have when growing up, can be hard to navigate. Tough to figure out who is true, and who is not really that good for you. Who is going to be there through it all, or who is going to drop you when life becomes too much to handle.

We also define our relationships with our friends based on our similarities, not realizing that our likes are often fleeting, and thus can’t sustain a relationship for very long. When a difference or conflict occurs because we don’t agree, if our friendships are based on being the same, it is hard to move past these differences.

Since I have grown out of the girl drama, and now firmly believe that everything I truly need to know is right in God’s Word. The same is true for friendship.

The friendship formed between Ruth and Naomi was one example, but the friendship of David and Jonathan is another great example of the amazing, unexplainable, unbreakable bonds of friendship that can endure through immense hardship and trials. Showing how a friend can also be a powerful mentor or role model.

First, David and Jonathan were unlikely friends. 

“So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as King.” 1 Samuel 15:23

The “you” mentioned here is Saul, the king. However, the decision he made to go rogue in battle and disobey God meant his family lost the honor of inheriting the title. His son, Jonathan, as a result lost the chance to become a king.

Then…enter David. Twelve years old. To become the newly anointed. The next in line to become king. Jonathan, once in line. Now losing his place to a kid!

Even still, there is a bond between the two, and a love for “self.”

By the time David had finished reporting to Saul, Jonathan was deeply impressed with David-an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David’s number one advocate and friend. 1 Samuel 18:1-3

Consider that Jonathan is much older than David. David was a young boy at this point, chosen to soothe Saul’s anger with music. He has defeated the giant, and claimed victory for the Israelites. He has also now become a threat to the king.

This little kid.

At some point he was going to need an advocate. A friend. God knew this.

So he sent Jonathan. Who could have been jealous, too. I mean he was standing in front of the kid who was going to be seated one day where he should be. But he set his own desires aside to love David. As much as he loved himself. Making a vow to love him and take care of him.

Jonathan was a mentor and encourager.

Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. 1 Samuel 23:16.

David is hiding. His enemy Saul wants him dead, and Jonathan goes looking for him? Of course he did. To encourage him. To remind him that he was chosen by God. To steer him in the right direction. To help him not falter in his walk, and to never give up. That’s what a loyal friend and role model does. Encourages. Lifts us up. Steers us to the right path. Reminds us who to look to for strength when we feel like giving up, and they drop everything to come find us when we need encouraging, too.

There is honesty and truth between the two, even when it is hard and hurtful. 

Saul called his son Jonathan together with his servants and ordered them to kill David. But because Jonathan treasured David he went and warned him. 1 Samuel 19:1-2

Jonathan knew that what Saul was plotting was wrong. Because he had committed to advocate for David, he was also committed to stand up against Saul’s jealous rage even if it meant he lost the favor of his father. Jonathan proved that honesty, truth, and loyalty are not only hard, but can be deeper than ties to family. They also require loyalty to ones values and often tremendous sacrifice.

Promises are kept, even to the end.

“God will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever.” 1 Samuel 20:42

Even after Jonathan’s death, David remains loyal and committed to the friend he loved as a brother, taking in Jonathan’s child, and returning Saul’s land to him in his late father’s honor.

And Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, just like one of the royal family. 2 Samuel 9:12

So, what is so special about David and Jonathan? I think it goes back to what we all desire in the bonds of friendship. They were true. To each other and the promises they made. It was not a relationship born of jealousy, deceit, or betrayal; but one where the desires and needs of the other were placed above one’s own. And neither dropped the other when hardships and life became too much to handle.

At some point we will need an advocate. A friend. And God knows this. And when the time comes, I pray he sends you a friendship and a bond like David and Jonathan’s. Someone who will love you as they love themselves.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2019 in What About Your Friends

 

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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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Passing the “Love” test

No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I am bankrupt without love. 1 Corinthians 13:3, MSG 

Love.

It’s something we all crave. Deep down in the very core of our beings. Sometimes when we have not received it, it’s also the very thing we reject.

Because we want to be loved we will look for love and acceptance in a variety of places. Things. Stuff. Approval from others. And often this approval from others looks nothing like the love that makes long-lasting relationships in the future.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently. As my daughter gets older. As she has struggled over the years with friendships. As my oldest is now engaged. As I watch a load of preteens “think” they have mastered the art of dating. As I also watch many of these “masters” choose to date because it is “cool.” Pick mates that are mean to them and others. And move from one relationship to the next. Struggle as well with the “mean girl” mentality in their own friendships, and reject adult wisdom.

But is any of the worldly approval really “cool?” Are these ways of seeking approval and acceptance at all loving?

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it does not keep a record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NLT

I know I’ve dissected this before…but it stands to be discussed again. Because I have a daughter who now thankfully says she just has no time for boys, she has too much worries with pre-algebra. She comes home and tells me the things her friends go though with their “bf’s” (because we do this thing called “talk”), and has decided she don’t want no part of that! Her mind will change one day I am sure. And, I don’t want her to choose a mate solely based on the opinions of others. I want her to be treated right. I want to make sure she does so in return.

That she knows the true meaning of “love” not only in its romantic form, but in its purest form when thinking of how we love ALL. That when she comes home all starry-eyed over some crush, this is the conversation we can have:

Oh, mommy. He’s so cute! But, he is kind of mean to my friends. And, sometimes he calls me names, and gets jealous if I spend too much time with them. He also just has a really bad attitude about things. He’s negative all the time. 

Here goes. The moment she has to place his name in that Love Chapter. Let’s say his name is Bob. Sorry to any Bob’s out there. Here, in our house…everyone is Bob (insert eye roll).

Hayley, is Bob patient and kind? Is he NOT jealous, boastful, proud or rude? Bob doesn’t demand his own way, get irritable, and keep a record of your mistakes, right? He doesn’t laugh when others are oppressed or hurt, but stands up for them, right? Does Bob never give up, have faith in God, and remain hopeful?

If she can’t answer these, then he probably isn’t the boyfriend for her now! She can pray he has these qualities in the future. But, for now? I want her to have someone that is kind and patient with her. That doesn’t hold her wrongs against her, but forgives her. And someone who is also kind to others, and stands up for them when they are hurt or in danger.

I would do the same for my sons. I want the same for them. Not someone who mistreats them, or thinks it’s “cool” to mistreat others.

For all of their relationships. Even with their friends. Even with the adults in their lives. Do these people fit? Can they say they are patient and kind? Are they jealous? Or do they create situations that cause us to envy others, create drama, or keep us far from God?

 And if their relationships are lacking, I ask they insert those names and pray those hearts change and the characteristics of love and kindness begin to dwell in them.

Because they don’t dwell in our bank accounts. They don’t dwell in our looks. Or our job  or “cool” status. Those things fade and can be taken away.

They dwell in the heart. A heart that loves, cherishes, and treats others with kindness, goodness, respect, and mercy. That lives on forever.

Love never gives up. Love never dies. 

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2018 in Loving Others, On Parenting

 

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