True Love

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Danica and her new baby sister, Gracie.

It’s not what you say.

It’s not how you say it.

True love is what you do.

Doing…the truest of love…expressed.

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“If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us.  (I John 4:11)

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Remember What I Have Told You

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Sometimes it’s just too easy to forget, and the older I get the more this becomes my super-power.

I feel confident my friends over fifty can relate…hmmm…unless, of course, they have forgotten how often they forget.

It’s true, I walk into a room and forget my reason for being there.  I stand blank-eyed, trying to remember what I was just thinking about before I entered the room.  My reasoning is this, perhaps my last train of thought is what led me to this room, so if I can remember that then maybe that would jog my memory as to why I am standing helplessly looking at the contents scattered within the four walls.

One time I got out of the car, closed the door, and realized I had forgotten my phone.  Knowing I would need it later, I asked my daughter…(on the other end of the line) to wait a moment while I retrieved my phone.  (true story)

Another time, again with my daughter, I found myself stuck in the snow.

I was in the midst of helping her move just outside of Boston.  We finally finished unloading the truck and hauling her stuff up three flights of stairs, and now it was time to go out and grab a bite to eat.  Beth jumped into the passenger seat and I got behind the wheel, we were sooo tired but happy the hard stuff was over.

Well, if you’ve visited Boston in the mid of winter, you know, more than likely, snow will be upon the ground, and it was on this particular day. Thinking about a cheeseburger I cranked up the old girl (my truck), put her in drive, and proceeded to exit the parking space; however, the wheels would do nothing but spin in place.

Two hungry women on a mission would not be deterred…so I told Beth to get out and push.

When that didn’t work we dug the snow from around all four tires and tried it again…me at the wheel and Beth pushing as hard as she could.

When that didn’t work we searched for something to slide under the wheels, hoping it would give some sort of traction for the spinning wheels.  We finally found a scrap of cardboard and I put it under the left front tire, as we were parallel-parked.  We assumed the familiar position, me at the wheel and Beth, outside pushing with all her might…still the wheels did nothing but spin!

Beth, exhausted from pushing, finally stopped and came to sit beside me in the passenger seat.  We were now two hangry women.

Frustrated, I smacked my hand against the steering wheel of the truck and noticed the small red light that illuminated the word brake.

That was the last time Beth has ever asked me to help her move.

Thank God, enough time has passed so that now we can at least laugh about it.

These funny stories came to mind as I read my morning meditation.

The meditation had taken me to John chapter 14.  Here, I found Jesus talking to his friends/disciples saying,

“Remember what I have told you:  I am going away, but I will come back to you again…I have told you these things before they happen so that you will believe when they do happen.”

Jesus was telling his friends that soon he would die.  He loved them and was worried about how they would feel when he was killed.  He worried they would feel confused, abandoned and afraid all of his promises had been a lie.  So, over and over again in the four gospels, he tells them,

Remember what I have told you…”

Friends, I believe Jesus, rich in his compassion, is telling us the same thing…

“Remember what I have told you…” 

When things go wrong and people hurt us…it’s so easy to forget he is with us.  Feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and utter despair draw us down into those dark places we created as a child to keep us safe.

How easy it is to return to that lonely stomping ground.

Jesus knew this for his disciples and presently, he knows it for us, as well.   If we could but be still in those moments and just breathe…we would hear his voice gently telling us…

“Remember what I have told you…” 

I can write this with confidence because He has put his Holy Spirit deep within us and his Spirit abides with us even our in our darkest moments.  Jesus gave us his Spirit because he loves us so much, and he doesn’t want us to be alone or feel alone.  (It’s possible to be with people but feel alone…been there done that.)   In this world, our most loved friends and family may leave us, but Jesus never will.

“…know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you…the Father sends the Counselor…and by Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit, he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you.” 

“Remember what I have told you…”  (Jesus)

His Spirit moves within us…be still, breathe, and listen.

***

 

 

 

 

 

Disappear From Sight

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First time seeing Josh after 7 weeks of BEAST training at West Pont.

Have you ever had to eat your words?

I’m sure I have, but at the moment, nothing comes to mind.  Perhaps, even if I could, I wouldn’t share as “eating your words” is considered quite distasteful.

Often, the words we have to eat are bitter.

I believe the words we say never disappear.  They linger and take their abode within the minds of those who hear.

I remember the day, Corinne and I left Josh, our son, at West Point.  As a new cadet, he was about to enter basic training, or “BEAST BARRACKS” as it is referred to at West Point.  Beast Barracks is a 7-week program designed to transform young men and women into cadets worthy enough to be sanctioned Plebes, the lowest rank on campus.

My heart hurt at the thought of what he was about to face, and as most moms in this world, my imagination soared beyond the realms of reality.  Sitting in the auditorium I heard an officer beckon the new cadets to come forward, and I knew this would be the last time I’d see Josh for what would seem an eternity.  I looked at him and he looked at me, and I’ll never forget the words he said, “Write and write soon.”  Tears ran down my face as I watched him walk away and disappear from sight.

I was able to write him immediately; however, it would be weeks before he would be allowed to write home.  When those letters came, I couldn’t wait to open the envelope and devour the words on the page.  The words were few because he rarely had a moment to spare during BEAST, so I hung on every word.  His words were important to me.  Finally, after seven weeks, we were allowed to go and visit him at West Point, and that is a moment, and a hug, I will never forget.

When we love someone, their words matter.

This was true of King David’s relationship with God.  In the book of Psalms, he has this say about the words of God,

“They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.  They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.”

The more we fall in love with Jesus, the more we want to listen for his still small voice.  They become a balm for our soul.

On the flip side…guess what?

Our words are just as important to God.  He loves us so much, that our words matter, and he waits patiently to hear them.

Talk to God today…He loves your voice.

***

Daily Prompt:  Disappear

 

Okay, I remember a time when I had to eat my nasty words…I even wrote a blog about it.  Almost two years ago on election night, I colored the world of Facebook with a wide array of colorful expletives.  As a result, there were consequences to bear.  I was unfriended by friends and family.  Those family members, to this day,  ignore my Christmas cards, and of course, I get none from them. Words matter.

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May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer.   (Psalm 19:14)

 

 

 

Warm, rather than Frigid

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My morning reading was all about the golden rule.  You know, “…do to others as you want others to do to you.”

I ask, “Why is such a simple concept, so hard to achieve?”

If I had to guess as to why this can be such a difficult task, I would credit the blame to greed and selfishness.  This world it seems is fueled by greed and selfishness, and sad to say, America does her part well.  We have a leader who is all about greed and selfishness.  His very logo, “Make America Great Again,” reeks of selfishness.  And when it comes to greed I dare say, his whole life and empire has been built upon it.

As a nation, this is not who God calls us to be.

A nation is made up of individuals…you and me, and for it to change, we must change.  This is why Jesus stresses the concept of loving your neighbor.

Who is your neighbor?

I dare say, it is the person closest to you.  It’s the cashier who takes your money at Kroger…the mail person who brings your bills…the police officer who pulls you over for speeding…the homeless person with their hand out…the person driving the car that just swerved into your lane…the one who hands you an ice cream cone on a hot summer day…it’s the bill collector knocking at your door…the telemarketer on the phone…the next door neighbor who drives you crazy…the other next door neighbor who brings you pie…the person across the street who lets their dogs run rampant…the elderly lady down the road who never fails to smile when you meet…the old man down the road who curses you on sight…and on and on and on….  My point is, most of the time, we cannot choose our neighbor, and we certainly cannot choose what they will say or do.

We can, however, choose what we say or do.

People mistakenly think love to be a feeling, when it fact it is an action.  Feelings are fickle, and change with the wind, but love weathers the wind, and continues to act accordingly in spite of discomfort.

Corinne and I celebrated our 12th anniversary on April 2.  I remember our “commitment ceremony” well.  (I say “commitment ceremony” because gay marriage was illegal at that time)  We decided to come up with our own vows to one another, and I fashioned mine from I Corinthians chapter 13…

“Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  Love does not demand its own way.  Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.  It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  Love will last forever…”

In the past 12 years, I can’t say I’ve totally lived up the this statute, but it is, and always will be what I strive toward.  Love is a verb…it is what we do.

Instead of saying “I love you,” show “I love you.”

Major change begins with one small act of kindness, and kindness is contagious.

Let’s do our part to spread it.

 

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Daily Post: Frigid

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Accepting Bridges, Instead of Walls

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God has called us to build bridges and not walls.  The whole story of Christ’s life, testifies to this.  During his ministry, Jesus broke down many walls of separation.

For example:

  • Jesus was a Judean Refugee living in Egypt.  (What if Egypt had built a wall?)
  • Jesus had many women disciples. (Gender Wall)
  • Jesus praised the Samaritans, whom the Jews considered dogs. (Race Wall)
  • Jesus spent his time with sinners, instead of the religious. (Religion Wall)
  • Jesus admonishes the poor, instead of the rich. (Status Wall)
  • Jesus proclaimed Grace instead of Law. (Rule/Regulation Wall)

Jesus leveled the playing field, where all are equal, and He calls us to do the same.

For He is our peace.  He has made us both one body, and has broken down the hostile, dividing wall between us.  Ephesians 2:14

 

Daily Prompt: Acceptance

 

The Lord is my Shepherd

When, blessings like a river, swarm.

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“The Lord is my shepherd.”  And thus begins Psalm 23.

King David is the author of Psalm 23; however, as much as we Christians would like to believe, David was not the first to pen the idea of God as shepherd.

History tells us, this metaphor, of comparing god to shepherd, was common place within the Eastern world.  For example:

  • There was a song written about Marduk, patron deity of the city of Babylon, during the early 18th Century BC, describing his care for the weak like a “benevolent shepherd.”  
  • Another song written of Shamash, Mesopotamian sun-god, proclaims, “You shepherd all living creatures, together, you are the herdsman, above and below.”
  • Hammurabi (c.1750 BC) claimed kingship by providing “the people with pastures and watering places, having settled them in peaceful abodes.”
  • A phrase, which closely parallels Psalm 23, was found inscribed upon ancient Samaritan text and it reads,  “A man’s personal god is a shepherd who finds pasturage for him.  Let him lead him like sheep to the grass they can eat.”

Some Christians, learning of this, may feel it weakens David’s writing, but I feel quite the opposite.  I’m sure David, a learned man, was aware of such comparisons; therefore, when he chose to liken his God to that of a shepherd, he, in essence, was elevating his God, Yahweh, above all other gods.

David spent many of his younger years, tending his father’s sheep.  The book of II Samuel, speaks of two incidents where David had to kill a lion and a bear in order to protect the fold.  David understood the lambs were vulnerable, and without his protection, they would most likely die.  Knowing this fact, when he wrote Psalm 23, he visions himself to a lamb, that is dependent upon the shepherd, and for David, this shepherd could only be Yahweh.  David humbled himself, and placed his entire well-being, within the hands of God.

I love how David makes Psalm 23 personal.  He could have written, “The Lord is a shepherd” and that would have been true, but instead he writes “The Lord is ‘my’ Shepherd.”  By that simple two letter word, David sheds light upon his close relationship to God.

I believe when we read Psalm 23, God desires of us, to make it personal.  He wants each of us to slip our identity within this passage, and when we do, this ancient scripture becomes alive.  We like, David, can proclaim a personal relationship with God, and when we are able to do that, God Himself walks with us.

Oh, what peace and joy this brings!

My Daily Prayer:

Lord, you are my Shepherd.  You care about everything in my life, even unto the minutest detail.  Help me today to ponder this thought.

When I’m tired, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will feel rest.  When I’m afraid, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your protection.  When I am lonely, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your presence.  When I am guilty, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your forgiveness.  When I’m down upon myself, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know I’m enough.  When I feel unloved, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your love.  And in that time, when I face death, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and I will know comfort and peace.

Lord, thank you for this day, you have made for me.  Help me to live it, with my hand in yours.  Help me, to be a blessing, to those you bring to my path.

In the name of Jesus, my savior, I make these requests.  Amen

***

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  — Jesus

When blessings, like a river, swarm

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(Information about comparisons of gods to shepherd was taken from the NIV Study Bible)

 

 

 

 

 

Never Hesitate To Prove Your Love

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Some two thousand years ago Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”  Not once, but three times Jesus asked this of Peter, and three times Peter replied, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

One may question, why did Jesus ask this three times?

Why wasn’t one “yes” enough for Jesus?

Was Jesus so insecure that he needed to hear Peter, say it three times?

Of course not.  Jesus was trying to  teach Peter a valuable lesson about true love.

This account is found in John chapter 21.  When reading the story, we notice after each “yes” from Peter, Jesus says, “Feed my lambs,” “Take care of my sheep,” and lastly “Feed my sheep.”  In doing this, I believe Jesus is trying to convey to Peter that, true love is not how you feel, or what you say, but rather, true love is what you do.  True love is action. 

I think it probable, Jesus asks us the same question, many times a day, and it’s not an answer he seeks, but rather a response.

We prove our love for Jesus, when we take care of his people.

My Daily Prayer:  Lord, as I go through this day, help me to hear your question, “Do you love me?”  May I hear it when I see the hungry, the poor, the lonely, and may I love you, by loving them.  Jesus, fill me, that I may be you, to all those around me. In your beautiful name I ask, Amen.

***

Never hesitate to prove your love.

 

 

 

You Are a Masterpiece

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Little Lisa

My morning devotional, that I try to consume every day with a cup of coffee, told me,  “We can live by the truth of God’s word and not by the way we feel.”

I grew up with low self esteem.  I never felt good enough.  As a child, I didn’t understand this to be a lack of self worth, rather it was just “my normal.”

One of my earliest memories of this was when I  was in kindergarten.  A symphony came to visit our school.  It was a beautiful day outside, so the group set up their instruments and played under the pine trees of our school yard.  As a poor kid, living in a cotton mill town, I had never heard such beauty.  Spellbound, I sat crossed legged in the pine straw, trembled, and thought, “This is too beautiful, and I’m not good enough…” 

At five years old, this was my realty.

Forty some years later, my knee-jerk reaction is to fall back into that same crippling mentality.

  I want to be a writer and I think…“I’m not good enough…”

I want to be an artist and I think… “I’m not good enough…”

I want to be a friend and I think… “I’m not good enough…”

I want to be accepted and I think… “I’m not good enough…”

and the list goes on and on…

Now, that I’m older, I realize I can rise above these feelings, …but sometimes…sometimes…I…. well, sometimes I just don’t…

So, it’s always refreshing when I read or hear words of encouragement.  They become a balm, soothing and healing my soul as they are applied.

Eagerly, I hold fast to what God says about me.  I eat it all the day long.  I breathe into my being.  I long for it to become my reality.

What does God say about me?

You are God’s masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

Guess what?

Whatever God says about me, He also says about you.

You are a masterpiece!

***

Check out what Joyce Meyer has to say about this subject:  :   Finding My Identity in Christ

It was a blessing to me and I think it will bless you as well

Daily Prompt: Tremble

The Day I Floated

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Today’s word, float, reminded me of when I truly put my trust in Jesus.

I was sitting in a revival service, and the evangelist was teaching from the text of, II Kings 6:5-7.  I listened as scripture was read and this is what I heard that night:

 But it happened that as one was cutting down a beam, the axe head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Oh no, my master! It was borrowed!” The man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut off a stick and threw it in there, and made the iron [axe head] float. He said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out with his hand and took it.

In the story, the man of God, Elisha, asked the one who had lost the axe head, “Where did it fall?”  The individual, extremely upset because the axe was not his own but borrowed, pointed to where it had fallen.  Elisha then, threw a stick into the water, and the iron axe floated.

Somehow, sitting in that service, I identified with the axe head that had fallen into the water.  I felt lost, heavy laden, and unable to save myself.  I recognized my helpless plight and called out to Jesus.  Jesus, by his Grace, lifted me from the water, my sins fell away, and I was safe in his embrace.

Jesus lovingly tells us, “Verily, verily, I say unto  you, he that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

My prayer:   Lord, thank you for speaking to my heart that night.  Thank you for lifting me up, so that I could pass from death unto life.  I was lost, but now I’m found, and it’s all because of your love and grace.  May I fall more in love with you, as each day, of my earthly life, passes.  Amen 

(In participation of today’s daily prompt: Float)

 

 

Confident and Full of Hope

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Photo from: http://www.supernaturalmothering.com/is-your-future-full-of-hope/

Good day, dear friends!  Here we are at close of another year.  We’ve run, walked, and sometimes crawled these past 365 days.  Now we find ourselves tying the bow, on the box we call 2016, but before we put the box upon the shelf,  may we take a moment to ask the question:  What has 2016 taught us?

Well, I can’t speak for you, but here are just some of the lessons I’ve learned from 2016:

  • Strict New Year’s Resolutions never last.  Most New Year Resolutions have something to do with diet and exercise. I begin the new year with strict rules as to what I’ll eat and what I’ll not eat.  I plan a strict regime of running with at least three days of strength training per week.  I start out with the best intentions but as the weeks pass so does my determination, and I eventually find myself paying $20 a month to house a treadmill I rarely use.  So this year, my resolutions are not as strict.  Instead of limiting myself to a 1000 calories a day, I’ll pay more attention to eating healthier…you know, more vegetables and less junk food, and most of my exercises will consist of doing those things I love like playing with my dogs and taking long walks in the park.
  • True friends/family still love you, even when you’re ugly.  I’ve never been as ugly as I was on election night 2016.  That night I sat in front of my TV, and as I watched state after state vote for Trump, I entered into a downward spiral, one that wouldn’t stop until I drowned myself in gin and vomitted obscenities all over Facebook.   Friends, it was ugly…very ugly.  I was ugly.  If you’d like to read the sordid details visit my post Vomiting All Over Facebook  After that night, I was unfriended by many, however my true friends, understood I was in pain, and that the pain must have been great, for me to do something so out of character.  My true friends didn’t judge me, but rather offered a shoulder for my tears.  Most importantly, they gave me the space to hurt, while lingering close enough to feel their love.
  • Depression fades with passion.  I’ve battled depression for as long as I can remember.  I use to think, if I awoke in the morning with a feeling of depression, that I was doomed to spend the rest of that day feeling sad.  This past year I’ve learned, that my depression fades and sometimes, even disappears, when I’m doing the things I love, like painting, writing, reading, cooking, gardening and taking long walks.  The hard part is making myself begin, as the depression I battle begs for solitude and darkness.  The key, for me, in 2017 is to have the initial will power to set my passions in to play.
  • Making a difference in the world, happens one person at a time.  After Trump’s victory I fell into hopeless despair.  The very next day, I hid within my home, crying and thinking America was lost.  I worried for my fellow-man.  I worried immigrant families would be torn apart.  I worried suicide would increase  within the LGBTQ communities.  I worried, my rights as a gay American would be stripped away.  I worried young girls would lose self-esteem in a world that judged them by their  appearance. I worried for my Muslim friends…would they be sent to internment camps?  I worried for all out-casts…myself included.  I worried so much, I became debilitated with fear.  The third day after the election I forced myself to go outside.  As I drove, I noticed a homeless person standing on the side of the road, holding a cardboard sign with the words, “homeless and hungry,” scribbled across the front.  With tears running down my face I handed the gentlemen a twenty-dollar bill, our eyes met, and as we stared at each other, I felt the fear inside deminish. I smiled and he smiled and I felt hope.  I realized in that moment that, yes… “we are stronger together.”  Regardless of who our president happens to be, we still have the power to change the world…one person at a time.

Everyday I try to read something encouraging and then spend time in prayer.  The last day of 2016 I read a portion from “My Utmost For His Highest,” a devotional book written by Oswald Chambers.  His words gave me hope for the coming year.  When I sat down to write this blog, my intentions were to simply share this hope with you, but one word led to another, and so after 725 words, I still haven’t shared Mr. Chambers words.

His words reminded me, that our future is not contingent upon our past.  We are not bound by the mistakes of 2016, but rather we can be transformed by them.   By God’s Grace we have been given a new slate to write upon in 2017.

May his words bless you with hope for the coming year…

“…Our present enjoyment of God’s grace tends to be lessened by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders.  But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future…As we go forth into the coming year…let us go out with the patient power of knowing that God will go before us.  Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us.  It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future.  Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ.  Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.”  ___  Oswald Chambers

Friends, let us go into 2017, confident and full of hope!

(May hope fill the interior, and radiate outward.)