Strands of Love



As a writer, I always struggle with what to share because I want to say something that is authentic.  I also struggle with wanting something that others can relate to so that those who take time to read what I write find their time well spent.  As I wrestled through how/what to say for this post I had an image of strands of thread.  All I can offer you is a beautiful strand - it doesn't amount to much when it stands on its own, but if you can take a strand or two of mine and combine it with other strands that you yourself hold in your hand, then perhaps, out of those strands something beautiful can be weaved.

In this post, I want to look at how relationships can lead us to a deeper understanding of God's love towards us.  I know that not everyone has experienced positive examples of these types of love, but that is why we should glean from others when possible.

So here are a couple strands for you to add to the life experiences that you yourself hold.


Parental Love Strand:
I had a heart-rattling dream where my son was lost for a day-and-a-half.  The emotional upheaval of thinking he was dead really shook me.  During the dream I made the statement, "How can I live without him?"  In the rawness of that dream, I realized how deeply entrenched the parent/child relationship is - there is no ceremonial moment of declaration for this love - it just is.  This child, who is birthed out of you and becomes a separate, individual person, is deeply connected to your heart. 

In awe of this love, I stepped back to reflect on the fact that our God declares that He is our Father and we are His children.  I know that the pain in my heart from a nightmare (that I got to wake up from - and not everyone gets to wake up from) is only a mere droplet of God's heart for us.

Where did humanity come from? 

It was birthed out of the heart of God. 

How can I live without them?

 Maybe, just maybe, this is a small glimpse of how our Heavenly Father longs after us.  We, who were created in His image - individual and separate yet deeply connected to His heart. It isn't through ceremony nor anything that we have done. Perhaps seeing Him as Father, through His eyes (instead of looking upward as a child) will help you to see how full of love He is for you, His child.

Marital Love Strand:
I'm coming up on 14 years of marriage and I love it.  I've been to two weddings recently and each time I hear those vows repeated they hold so much more meaning.  You realize that in that moment you had no idea what you were actually declaring, yet how true each and every word would need to be to carry you through life.

I found love on a swing
I found love on a swing.  I was young, he was young.  I remember the sun setting and the rocks tickling between my toes.

As the metallic chains twisted we talked about life.  He said, "What's the point of dating if it's not the person you plan to be with all your life?"

We were young.  How could we know what life and love would throw our way?

We are still young, I'm sure in many ways but in other ways I feel we stand at a crossroads: watching our grandparents teetering at the end of life.  Watching our parents whom we remember as young as us entering "old age." The letting go of today and welcoming the unknown.  We see our kids young and impetuous, full of life and dreams yet just starting to touch their toes to reality of hardships that life brings.  And in this place of middleness, I remember finding love on a swing.  The words and promises that were made without knowing the depths it would take us.  The snapshot of perfection in time.  I know that I was given a gift from above.  A gift that undergirds my entire life.  

I found love on a swing; it is such a gift to me.

There is something about marital love that is unique and special.  Unlike parental love, it emerges from a choice that we make after we learn more about the other person.  It is a type of love that strengthens and deepens with time.  God has invited us to not only know Him as our Heavenly Father but we have also been invited to be the Bride of Christ.  This next type of love, is an invitation for us to know Him more deeply, to experience everyday life with Him.  Yes, there are moments of declaration of this love, but only time lives out the reality of this love.

Lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the age.  This is the love that He has declared for you.  A love that was declared in a moment of time, yes, but also a love that walks beyond that moment with you through time.  Do you see it embedded into your life?

As I said in the beginning, these are mere strands that I offer to you.  I know that not everyone has experienced true parental love and/or marital love.  I do pray though that what you walk away with is a pinprick to stop and reflect on when you have experienced a type of love that moved you.  How has that love moved you?  Does reflecting on it give you a greater glimpse to the depths of the love that God has towards you?

In Christ,
 



Photo from:  http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=37443&picture=red-heart

Timeout for Mom

Well, Mother's Day was a test of my emotions, not because of a lack of love or appreciation from my family, rather it was due to what rose up inside of me.


"It's my party and I can cry if I want to..." would probably have been an appropriate theme song for that weekend. I don't usually need attention but something about that weekend awakened a quietly sleeping selfish beast. This beast thought: I should be served and appreciated and I shouldn't need to lift a single finger on Mother's Day weekend. (I'm just being honest.)
While this picture didn't turn out because I was trying not to squint, it does ironically capture a look at the beast.

The next day was no picnic either. After being loved on, celebrated and appreciated, you'd think it would be a beautiful day of peace and calmness where I eloquently demonstrated that I am that mother that was celebrated. But it just wasn't so.

So this morning, I had to give myself a timeout and be brought back to what I know to be true. I've prayed the prayers, "Lord, take my selfishness away. Make me patient, loving, gentle and kind!" And what I meant by that is: rip out all the evil and immediately upload the good. Do  a massive reboot today and let me look like who I really want to be in my mind. But as usual, I was reminded that just isn't how He works (at least not with me). Instead, He promised to walk with me today and teach me how to live and love by being daily transformed from inside out. Instead of the wave of a magic wand, I have to do the hard work of saying I'm sorry, asking for forgiveness and demonstrating by action that I need God to help me be a mother. So during my timeout, I went back through some old posts about what He has taught me in the past because I needed the reminder. So if you too were reminded on Mother's Day that you are far from the perfect mother and that you need God to be the builder of your home feel free to glance back with me:

10 pennies: which now reside in my pocket, 6 pennies in one and 4 in the other...

Gentleness: Oh, what a good reminder.

Training Children: Maybe better yet it should be called Training Parents.

This is a better reflection of how my family really makes me feel.


















In Christ,


Confidence in Christ





Even as I write the title to this post, I cringe at the cliché those words can bring.  We need to have confidence in Christ can sound so spiritual and heady that even as the words drift off the page they easily get tangled up into our misconceptions and misunderstandings:  

Yes, I need to have more confidence in Christ.  I will work on that and put it at the top of my to-do list.  As the day goes by, I will try to remind myself that I need to have more confidence in Christ.”

While words are powerful, it is easy to mix them up with misunderstanding and rip the mystery and depth right out of them.

In the past 5 years, I have fallen in love with liturgy and the church calendar.  These were tools that facilitated the renewal of my tired heart.  Liturgy has challenged me, it has centered me, it has calmed me and it has given me confidence in Christ.  

I have written before about why I love Daily Prayer, so I won’t go into all the reasons again, other than to say I still find myself in love with it.  It weaves all of Scripture together for me on a daily basis, the Psalms, Old Testament, New Testament and the Gospel.  I’m reminded daily that I am part of a story that is bigger than I am and that this great Creator has been intimately involved in human history for thousands of years and He will still be there when I am long gone. 

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“If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.”
Julian of Norwich


We live in a world of heartbreaking news.  There is no way to wrap our minds and reality around the tragic events that plague our world.  I read in the news about 200 Nigerian girls who have been raped and tortured for months and then I look across the room at my daughter, the same age no doubt as some of these children, who is carefree and loved.  And my heart cries out, “Why not the same for them?  Why did their childhood have to be torn away?”  And I pray for their precious babies, conceived in horror, will they find a life where they are loved, embraced and cherished?
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As these words wrap around me, I begin reading Paul.  I’ve come to realize that there are some in the Church who view Paul as harsh and demanding.  They can never quite measure up to “his expectations.”  But I think that for many who feel that way it happens because they have separated these holy words from the story of life.  Somewhere along the way we’ve lost the mystery, the awe and the beauty of Scripture because we have turned it into merely a rule book that reminds us of how far short we still are from God’s beauty and holiness. Instead of an invitation to learn about God’s love.
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I have found no other way to experience life in my own life apart from Christ.
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But I love Paul and he no longer strikes me in this way.  He is passionate and he struggles with putting words around the beauty and mystery of the cross.  He has seen human history, he has studied religious history, and he understands firsthand how cruel humanity can be.  Yet he has fallen in love with a Saviour whom he is willing to die for.  When he sees humanity putting confidence in themselves and selling short the beauty and mystery of the cross, yes, he does get upset and expresses it.  But I don’t see it as an angry, why don’t you get your act together?  Rather I see it as a cry “What can I do to make you see with my eyes?  What must I do to make you understand?”

Ephesians 2: 1- 9
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

So what does confidence in Christ mean to me?  It is something that is always changing, growing and challenging me.  But it means learning to rest in the beauty of who He is and learning to walk in His love.  

Love not guilt, 

grace not shame, 

mercy not me trying harder. 

Loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbor as myself.  

Starting here, always, every day, every hour, every minute.  

He loves us (period).  

He loves us – believe it.  

He loves us – accept it.  

He loves you, yes you.

Let’s start there. Let’s live it out as reality in our lives so we have something to offer this brokenhearted world, to bring life, hope and healing to their hearts.  Sometimes I think we are so busy fighting our own hearts, our own weaknesses that we find ourselves with nothing left to offer.  But perhaps if our confidence was in Christ alone we could walk forward offering the Bread of Life, the water that is free and available to all who are weary & thirsty.  

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Drink deep His love.  It is healing, it is real, it is life-giving and it is the hope our real world needs.
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“God loved us before he made us; and his love has never diminished and never shall.”
Julian of Norwich

So I end this post with a song, “Looking for You” by the Lone Bellow.  I have fallen in love with this haunting song and I’ve wanted to share it with you all.  I don’t know the intention behind this song, but for me I see it as a call from Christ’s love to our hearts.  Sometimes we are captured more easily by music then words alone.  If you are feeling lost and broken, maybe this song will minister to your heart and encourage you to put your trust in Christ’s love. 

In Christ,

Gentle Beauty





Romans 2:4 (NCV)
Perhaps you do not understand that God is kind to you so you will change your hearts and lives.

If someone were to observe me for several days they would begin to notice something about me; I am one who follows the sun.  It starts in the morning. My husband and I’s bedroom faces the rising sun and especially right now the bright glorious sunrise kisses me awake every morning.   


As I start my work day, I open all of the shades in my house and plant myself in the chair that is nearest the glorious rising sun.  Sometimes this will involve me switching between a couple chairs and squeezing myself smaller and smaller to get the last bits of direct sunshine as the sun begins to fade.  If the weather is warm enough, I’ll take my computer out on the back deck and sit in a chair that is still exposed to the sun.  As the day progresses, the sun switches to shining on the front end of my home, so I will then move to the front room or porch to soak in the sun.  Again, if the weather is warm enough, you will find me sitting smack dab in the middle of a sunny spot.  


Towards the end of the day, you will find me searching for a glorious sunset.  We usually get one out our front window or if I’m lucky enough I will drive to the lake so I can sit and watch the sunset.  I told my daughter that a perfect day for me, would be chasing an everlasting sunset.



The start of the day in the sunshine is like a gentle kiss from my Savior.   After my niece’s death 6 years ago I went through a season where it physically hurt my heart to get out of bed.  In sorrow and confusion, darkness was what I seemed to constantly feel in my heart.  During this painful season the Lord gave me Psalm 19:

1-6 (NCV):
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies
Announce what his hands have made.  Day after day
They tell the story;
Night after night they tell it again.
They have no speech or words;
They have no voice to be heard.
But their message goes out through all the world;
Their words go everywhere on earth.
The sky is like a home for the sun.
The sun comes out like a bridegroom from his bedroom.
It rejoices like an athlete eager to run a race.
The sun rises at one end of the sky and follows its path
to the other end.
Nothing hides from its heat.

This is where I began each day during that difficult season.  Reading this Scripture daily as the sun rose in my bedroom.  I loved the image of the sun coming out like a bridegroom from his bedroom.  The announcement of the sky.   



There was a joy, a joy that continued daily and didn’t fail.  A joy that started each day, and did not grow tired nor decide to check out and take a day off.  It didn’t get disillusioned by life; there was something greater than all the sorrows of this life that was worth announcing day by day.  His creation spoke a message, a silent yet powerful message, and this is where I sat my heart for a season.  As the sun rose, I lay in bed and allowed the message of the sun’s joy in life to speak to my heart.

Another reason, I fell in love with this Psalm because from the very beginning it drew me in with its gentle peace but also because it continued on tying His creation to the power of His word (7-10):

The teachings of the Lord are perfect;
They give new strength.
The rules of the LORD can be trusted; they make plain people wise.
The orders of the LORD are right;
They make people happy.
The commands of the LORD are pure;
They light up the way.
Respect for the LORD is good; it will last forever.
The judgements of the LORD are true;
They are completely right.
They are worth more than gold, even the purest gold.
They are sweeter than honey, even the finest honey.

Just as I could rest in the faithfulness of His creation, I too could rest my heart in the faithfulness and beauty of His Word.  His teachings were perfect.  They give strength.  His Word could be trusted.
When your heart has been through a war, there needs to be a time for healing.  Psalm 19 provided a safe place for my heart to heal.  It allowed me to take the extravagant beauty that I can so easily see around me and parallel it to Scripture.

There are benefits and pitfalls to being a Christian your entire life.  It provides a solid foundation that takes a lot to demolish.  However, you also get exposed to LOTS of versions of Christianity some really good stuff and some not so good.  Combine all that information with a perfect storm of tragedy and your heart, mind, soul and spirit can end up a mess.  What I learned (and still learn) is that Jesus is a gentle Savior, who knows how to gently and patiently untie the greatest of messes.  Just as I place my body physically in the light of the sun every day, spiritually, you will find me too following the Son.  Immersing myself in His Word; knowing that my understanding or use of it won’t always be perfect or clear.  But what I do know is that it is trustworthy, it is pure and it does light up my way.




In Christ,


Daily Prayer

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