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Still

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I wander

Oh, how far I wander

But still You remain

Watching, waiting, loving

Looking for my return.

I turn away from You

But still You remain

I am unfaithful to You

But still You remain

 

I rail at You

But still You remain

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I go my own way

Do my own thing

Make my own choices

But still You remain

I shake my fist, dare You to stop me from doing what I want to do.

It doesn’t matter. You love me still. You will never leave me. You will never forsake me.

Every day you watch out for me, waiting for me to notice that You’re still there.

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For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. Check it out!

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The Pursuit of a Heart

Neuroscientist Curt Thompson has said that each one of us comes into this world looking for someone looking for us.

IMG_9760We long to be known. To be loved. To be pursued.

Thompson goes on to say, “We can grow up in homes in which the food finds the table, the money finds the college funds and the family even finds the church each Sunday, but somehow our hearts remain undiscovered by the 2 people we most need to know us: Our parents.” (Quoted by Adam Young LCSW in a podcast titled “Why your family of origin impacts your life more than anything else” April 16, 2018.)

I was the 3rd child in just over 3 years for my parents. That’s rough on anyone. I don’t have specific memories of my very young years, so I can’t say with absolute certainty that my parents were thrilled to welcome another baby into a home already hopping with a 3 year old and a 19-month old.

I never felt unloved, but I did feel undiscovered.

12 years ago I was with my mom the week after my dad died. Returning from dinner atIMG_9761 my brother’s house I said to her, “We’ve never been very good at heart-to-heart talks.”

She said, “No, we haven’t.”

And that was the end of the conversation. 16 months later she passed away from pancreatic cancer.

I determined when I became a mom that I would have open and honest conversations with my children. I would answer their questions no matter how embarrassing they might be. I would pursue their hearts. I would get in their business.

IMG_9762When I started being interested in a guy (who has been my husband now for 27 years plus), my mom never asked me about him. When I asked her why that was, she said she didn’t want to pry. Umm, you’re a mom. That’s your job. It doesn’t make you a busybody; it shows me that you care to know.

My mom loved me. I know that. But she didn’t pursue my heart. I don’t think she really knew how.

I don’t hold it against her, I’d just like to do better with my kids. Their hearts are worth knowing as deeply as they’ll let me know them.

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This post is a part of the Five-Minute Friday link up. Join the fun!

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These 3 Remain

IMG_5453And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV).

These famous words, often heard in wedding ceremonies, can easily get lost in the familiarity of them. But their significance, penned by the Apostle Paul prompted by the Holy Spirit, could radically change the way we do things.

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a resounding gong or a clanging symbol.” (v. 1)

That means if I go and feed the homeless, they might get fed, but if I don’t sincerely love them and desire to build a relationship there, then it really means nothing.

If I serve my family by making a delicious organic dinner every night, but I grumble about having to go grocery shopping or slaving over that hot stove, then that food might as well be poison in their bellies. Yes, it will sustain their bodies, but what will it have done for their souls?

These 3 remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.IMG_0654

Faith: taking God at His word. Not just believing IN God, but believing God. Believing what He says about me, about the worth of others, about salvation and redemption and grace.

Hope: to know that the future is in His hands, that there is a better place prepared for us, that God wins in the end.

And Love: powerful, redemptive, coverer or our sin. If we don’t have it, all else fails.

It wasn’t just a song of the 60’s; it was a truism: What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No, not just for some, but for everyone.

 

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up, with the prompt of “Thirteen.” Join the fun!

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The Sound of the Ocean

IMG_3895Crashing waves on a foamy shore

Wash away all that went before

Words carved into sand by little feet

Can’t compare with the power they meet

Pounding, pounding all day long

The waves bespeak the Creator’s song

Come to Me, come to Me, all is behind
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You are always on My mind.

See the sand washed clear each day?

That’s what happens when sin’s washed away.

There is no reason to stay afar

I love you so much the way you are.

Let me wash you like I do the shore

Your sins I will remember no more

Let the sound of the ocean tell you it’s true

No matter what, I love you.

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This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. Join the fun!

I Accept You As You Are

I accept the fact that I’m never going to be an Olympic Athlete.

I don’t like it, but I accept it.

103_0372I accept the fact that my sons will never play Major League Baseball. I always hoped they would continue their baseball careers after Little League, but they just didn’t want to continue. I wish they had, but they just didn’t want to.

I accepted the package the UPS man handed to me. It was addressed to me, and I had ordered it, so I took it and claimed it as mine.

I accepted the change the cashier at the grocery store gave me. It was due me and he was handing it to me, so I accepted it.

We use the term “accepted” in many different arenas these days, and I think there might be a misconception about what it means.

Acceptance does not mean that you agree with everything a person does; but it does mean that you love them for who they are. I can say that I accept my husband the way he is, but if I see something in his life that needs addressing, I am going to bring it up.

I heard a wonderful message years and years ago by one of my favorite pastors, Chuck Swindoll. He titled the message “Love, Sweet Love.” At one point he listed the ABCs of love: I Accept you as you are, I Believe that you are valuable; I Care when you hurt; I Desire what is best for you; I Erase all wrongs.

Now, it has been a really long time since I listened to this message, but even without it right before me, I’m thinking I have those right.

What everyone wants to feel is that they are accepted and that they are valuable. But if IMG_7277someone is participating in a behavior that I don’t think is healthy, I am not going to accept the behavior, but I AM going to accept them. It is they who are valuable, not their behavior.

I think many times we equate the behavior with the person. My kids would get mad at one of their siblings and say, “He’s so mean!” I would say, “No, he is not mean. What he did was not kind, and could even be called mean, but he is not mean. He just did something that was unkind.”

I didn’t want the behavior to define the person.

Labels of any kind can be dangerous for people. The beauty queen, the smart one, the loser, the one we can count on, the one we worry about. These can define a person; but they are not who that person is at their very core.

But it’s much easier to stick a label on someone than to spend time getting to know who they really are. Does the child who struggles in school deserve to be labeled as “slow” or “dumb”? Does the person with amazing athletic talent deserve to be labeled as a jock? Is that performance or behavior going to define them for the rest of their lives?

I accept you as you are, and I believe that you are valuable.

fullsizeoutput_96f7You are too valuable to be accepted solely on the virtue of your behavior or your performance. Those things can change over the years. When I am no longer able to throw a football downfield to a receiver or run a mile in record-breaking time, that label of “athlete” becomes useless to me.

Acceptance means that I see you for who you really are. I believe you have value because you are an image bearer of God.

That’s a label that never changes.

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

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