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Love Your Neighbor

love God love peopleA woman fell outside my house today. I was just arriving back from my morning bike ride, sweaty and dripping, when I saw a huddled group of 3 ladies on the sidewalk. One was sitting on the ground next to a motorized scooter while one of her friends fanned her.

I stopped and asked if they were OK and did they need help. They explained that the woman on the ground, Carolyn I think her name was, has MS and didn’t have use of her legs. They weren’t strong enough to lift her up. Thinking they would need at least 2 men to get her up, they had called 9-1-1.

Unfazed, I told them I had an 18-year-old son in the house and I would get him and I was willing to bet that, together, we could get her back onto that scooter. There was roadwork right outside our neighborhood that was holding up traffic in both directions. The first responders would be awhile.

So, I rode around my yard into my garage, ran into the house and woke my son and told him a lady had fallen and we needed his help getting her up.

Without hesitation, he jumped out of bed, threw on a shirt and ran with me out the door.

Together, and with the help of another friend who was driving by, we got Carolyn back onto her scooter, a little traumatized, but none the worse for wear.

The ladies were effusive with their thanks, grateful that there were still “good people in the world.” Watch-Tower-jehovah-witnesses-31065655-549-720

Here’s the thing: When I had moved aside a bag to get a better angle to help, I had seen copies of The Watchtower pamphlet. I knew these women were Jehovah’s Witnesses, coming through my neighborhood to spread a false gospel. So, though kind and well meaning, these women, some would say, are my enemy. Their false gospel leads many people away from the truth about Jesus. In all I do, I try to connect people with God through a relationship with Jesus.

We are at odds.

And yet, I didn’t even consider not helping. They were in need and I and my son had the means to help them. And so we did.

When we knew they were OK and Carolyn was situated again, we were getting ready to leave, the sound of an approaching siren in our ears, when one of the women offered us a pamphlet to read. I kindly declined and we walked back into our house.

What I didn’t say was that we do what we do because we love Jesus, not because we’re good people. It didn’t feel right in that circumstance to talk about faith. I just pray that our actions spoke for themselves.

In that moment, differences didn’t matter. Theology didn’t matter. What mattered was that we operated out of love.

gong“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, ESV).

 

images from: steadfastlutherans.org; fanpop.com; gambarbercata.com

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Beauty and the Beast: A Movie Review

beauty and the beast“Can anyone really be happy if they’re not free?”

Yes, I did take out my phone during the movie so that I could jot down this quote from Disney’s live action “Beauty and the Beast.” My 14-year-old daughter and I finally got to see this amazing movie with some friends on Friday night. I had read the hype. I had seen the posts about the gay kissing scene. I couldn’t believe all that was being said in such scorn.

Fake news doing its best to cast dispersions wherever it can.

A father’s love for his daughter (Maurice, played very well by Kevin Kline, and Belle, portrayed beautifully by Emma Watson of “Harry Potter” fame) and a daughter’s love for her father take a very close backseat to the love story of Belle and the beast in this grand tale. What was added to the original animated movie and what was left out did not take away from the pleasure.

I went into this movie with an open mind, wanting to watch it critically, yet not wanting to jump to any early conclusions. I soon found myself caught up in the fun of the old songs brought to new life and the way computer generated imagery brought to life the household objects in the beast’s castle.

Gaston (Luke Evans) was as dastardly in this film as he was heroic in The Hobbit: “Battle beauty and the beast castof the Five Armies.” The mob mentality of the citizens on the hunt for the beast reminded me sadly of how easily people are swayed by one charismatic person’s twist of the facts. Does the beast have claws? Yes. Does he have big, sharp teeth? Yes. Use those things to scare people and a mob is born.

Though the timeline is vague, it appears to be a few days later when Belle has become friends with the beast. He takes a chance and addresses the idea of someone like her ever having affection for someone like him. When she suggests, “Why not?” he is encouraged and asks, “So you could be happy here?” That’s when Belle says what I’ve quoted above: “Can anyone really be happy if they’re not free?”

When Belle discovers that her father is in danger, the beast immediately says that she must go. He’s willing to give her up, though at this point he loves her, because he knows it’s the right thing to do. Through her act of caring for him after the wolf attack even though she was very afraid, and his letting her go, though it would condemn him to beasthood forever, sacrificial love is shown.

Love grows not from boasting and blustering about how wonderful we are and how much the other person needs us, but by the acts of kindness that help the other person see how valuable they are, despite appearances. Belle tends the beast when he’s injured, even though he had raged at her just moments before. The beast gives Belle access to the most wonderful library (definitely her love language) she has ever seen. Small acts; huge results.

Courage, hope, service to another, sacrifice, freedom. These are all themes brought out and examined all from within the package of a well-loved story and grand musical numbers that will continue to stand the test of time.

Love that is required and devotion that is paid for is not real. Only when we give those things freely can we be truly happy.

 

images from (1) movies.disney.co.uk and (2) IMDb

Fairytales: A Guest Post From Instagram

My 13-year-old daughter recently posted something on her Instagram that I wanted to share. I was blown away by her words. I fixed the spelling but left the punctuation as is.

prince on horse“You know the perfect fairytale has a prince and a princess, and in the tale, the princess is in danger and the prince comes to rescue her? Well let me tell you one of those fairytales right now.

It’s about a prince, a noble, kind, and truthful prince who loved his princess very much, but his princess was in danger, she was in danger of herself, she was broken.

The prince made it his mission to help her, for even though he loved her, he could not be with her if her shattered parts were never mended.princess by hedges

He sacrificed everything to be with her, fixed her with the power of his blood, and he took her and told her to trust him, he loved her with all of his heart, and he promised her that one day, she would be his bride, and they would live happily ever after in his kingdomperfect kingdom. The End.”

Sappy teenaged-girl story? Or a truth for the ages?

He loves us. Oh, how He loves us.

 

 

 

 

 

photoillustrations from: imgur.com and Pinterest (2)

What You Can Learn From Parenthood

ParenthoodPretty much on a weekly basis, I cry over Parenthood. I’m not talking about the actual state of parenthood, I’m talking about the TV show “Parenthood.” I was drawn to the show because it’s about family, but I was also drawn to the show because it takes place in Berkeley, Calif., a place near and dear to my heart. I love seeing familiar places and hearing them talk about the sports teams.

There is much I don’t like about the show: I don’t like the immorality. I don’t like the fact that they take things like premarital sex, abortion and drug use so lightly. Commenters on their Facebook page will tell you that they’re handling things very delicately and all, and, as I mentioned in a previous post (Speaking My Language) I shouldn’t expect people who don’t follow Jesus to embrace the things that He embraces, but it still makes me sad.

But what I love about the show is that they make family important, they don’t make the men into idiots, the adult siblings have a really great relationship, and children are valued, talked to and actually parented, not the way I would parent, but in a loving, concerned, I’m-there-for-you manner nonetheless.

When one of the siblings goes through a separation, her adopted son calls her from his dad’s apartment where he and his sister are spending the weekend. Why? He had a bad dream. All he wants is to talk to his mom.

The teenage boy of one of the sisters gets his girlfriend pregnant. She has an abortion without his consent. Who does he talk to about it? His mom. She loves her kids and they talk to her about everything. She’s been a single mom most of their lives.

Here’s the kicker for me: The patriarchs, Zeke and Camille, are still married after nearly 50 years. She feels like she’s put aside her dreams  for years to raise her family, so now she’s wanting to branch out. She spent a month in Italy painting, without Zeke. She wants to sell the family home, the place where everyone gathers and so many memories have been made. He doesn’t want to leave. It’s his home. But after spending a month without her while she pursued her dream, when his youngest son is indignant that they would consider selling his childhood home, Zeke tells him, “Your mother and I have been together 47 years, and we’ve been through a lot, we’ve been through a lot of milestones. She goes away to Europe and all of a sudden I’m left here at the house, I’m all alone, and I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do. And I miss her. I miss her like crazy. I realize that I love her a lot more than I love this house, and if selling this house makes her happy, then that’s what I’m going to do. So that’s about it, Son, that’s the ballgame right there.”

That is the ballgame. Zeke and Camille might not know a thing about having a godly marriage—one that honors God and is a window into the spiritual realm—but Zeke got it right: Oneness and commitment to his wife supersedes everything. No house is worth promoting isolation in your marriage. No other relationship means more.

Now he just needs to get that little bit of advice into his son-in-law, Joel. Sheesh.

 

Parenthood logo from tv.com

I See You

IMG_7606This morning, I noticed this cryptic message on my desk. I would normally attribute this kind of message to my husband, as we have been known to hide a small flyer with the Geico eyes on a stack of money in each other’s underwear drawer. But he says he didn’t do it. Must have been one of my kids. Perhaps fans of stalker movies would be unnerved by such a thing, but my mind immediately went to the movie “Avatar,” which came out in 2009.

The premise is that a group of ugly Americans bent on mining a precious ore from the planet Pandora send in a specialized team to try to talk the indigenous people, the Na’vis, into moving away from the area where this substance is most concentrated. If they don’t leave, the company plans on wiping them out. Problem is, this place is where their central spiritual life lives. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but, in a nugget, “avatars,” or beings made to resemble the Na’vis, are controlled remotely by an amazing scientific process of a sort of mind control. Anyway, a crippled former Marine gets the job of an avatar guard for a team studying the planet for research reasons, gets separated from his team, and ends up falling in love with one of the Na’vi women. In the process, he agrees to infiltrate the people and try to convince them to move. What he learns changes his mind. They cannot be moved, and should not be moved, and the wealth-aquiring aspirations of the mining company are really evil. (Check out this link if you want to know more.)

OK, so, what does that have to do with seeing? Well, instead of saying, “I love you,” Jake, the former Marine, and Neytiri, the Na’vi woman he loves, say “I see you.” It goes deeper than just saying, “Oh yeah, there you are.” It means I know you. I am a student of you. I am invested in learning your soul.

I recently read a really great article by Dr. Kelly Flanagan (see “Why One Text Message is More Romantic Than a Hundred Valentine’s Cards) about how something one loves is something one searches for when it’s missing. It’s called “object permanence” and babies learn that as they grow. That’s why “peek-a-boo” works with babies. Now you see it. Now you don’t. When you show up again, the child is thrilled. But if you take something a baby is enjoying away from them, they won’t go and look for it; they simply assume it doesn’t exist anymore. Eventually, they learn that it’s still around somewhere, and if they want it, they need to find it.

Dr. Flanagan asserts that letting your significant other know that you’re thinking about them throughout the day is more a sign of how much you love them than the most extravagant of gifts. A text message saying “I’m thinking of you” once a day can do more for your relationship than a dozen roses once a year. When you’re not there, I’m searching for you. When we’re not together, a part of me is missing. When I’m with you, I really see who you are. I see into your soul.

More than 20 years ago I heard a wonderful sermon by one of my favorite pastors, Chuck Swindoll. It was titled “Love, Sweet Love” and it contained the ABC’s of what love does: I Accept you as you are; I Believe that you are valuable; I Care when you hurt; I Desire what is best for you and I Erase all offenses.

I see you.

Happy Valentine’s Day