Category Archives: Love

Loving Others: The Good, The Bad and The…Really?

 

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / sumners

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / sumners

The Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) has become almost oversimplified these days. You see it everywhere, reduced to four words: Love God. Love others. Sounds simple enough, right? Not always.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” – John 13:34

Although we are undeserving, we are truly and deeply loved by our Creator. And he has a command for us: to love others in the same way he loves us. Think of someone you have difficulty liking. Now imagine loving them. Visualize loving them with the same sort of passion and forgiveness your Maker has for you.

We must love everyone—not just those who are easy to love or those who return our love, but also our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48) When I struggle with this—when I find my mind resisting the worthiness of another to “deserve” my love—I must by mindful of my own unworthiness as a recipient of God’s love. Yet he gives it, freely and unconditionally.

“Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

Merely saying we love isn’t enough—we must show it and mean it. Our actions will always speak louder than our words.

“Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:20

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:22

I want to be recognized as a Christian by the fruit of my deeds. As believers, we are called to loving action—to be doers of the word.

Fellow humans, I love you. I love you! While my love may be a work in progress and far from perfect, I will make it my daily effort—my journey toward truth to be sincere in this love.

Challenge for the day: How can you show the people you encounter today that you love them? How can you be a living example of God’s love?

 


Should we follow our hearts?

©Photospin/Krillov

©Photospin/Krillov

I am an emotional creature by nature. I am driven by empathy. I feel things. Deeply. I can be as sensitive to the joys and pains of others as if they were my own. I would say that I make decisions more from my “heart” more than my “head.” So it caught me off guard one day when an acquaintance of mine expressed disgust over the fact that people mention following their hearts. She quoted Jeremiah 17:9 to support her belief that our hearts would only lead us astray.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:9

I was familiar with the verse and it inspired me to ponder use of the word “heart” to convey the source of our feelings and love—but also to express the source of our worldly desires. Yet, in Ezekiel we learn that God gives us a new heart and a new spirit—a soft, open and teachable heart, enabling our spirit to do his will.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” – Ezekiel 36:26-27

It has taken many years to develop what I would consider good discernment. I believe that discernment is an ability to hear and comprehend the leading of the Holy Spirit—an ability that I consider a gift of my heart.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:5

“For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” – Romans 10:10

With our heart, not our mind, we believe. We have a choice. We decide what and who is in our hearts. We must guard our hearts and make certain they are centered on God and not our selfish desires. If we love God with all our hearts, there is nothing safer to follow. Our hearts will be moved by His Spirit.

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” – Matthew 22:37

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Luke 12:34

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45

When seeking God’s will, would you say you act based on your feelings or thoughts? Your head or your heart?


Life, Death and Supernatural Events

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When my son turned three, my mother-in-law was battling cancer. The doctors had given her all the treatment they could and allowed her to travel back to my in-laws’ home in Florida where we—and more importantly, her grandsons—lived.

Looking back, knowing what I know now, I realize how very brave she was. I can only marvel at her cheerfulness to the end. She cherished her grandsons. On Brendan’s third birthday, she baked him a cake and played on the floor with him, as she had always been known to do. For someone who knew she was dying, she was so very full of life.  Only five weeks later, we lost her.

At only three, Brendan was still new to the world and still possessed much of the purity he came into the world with. Children that young seem to have an innocence of this world that allows them to see a spiritual world we can’t perceive.

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Luke 18:16

At Irene’s memorial service, Brendan was fidgeting and crying. We went to the cry room at the back of the sanctuary and watched the rest of the service from there. The windowed room we watched from connected with the outer sanctuary wall of stained glass windows and Brendan kept pointing to the window next to us and saying “Grandma!” I finally stopped to pay attention to what he was so intently trying to communicate and followed his little finger to the window that featured an angel. It gave me goosebumps, but with the emotions of the day, I couldn’t really process it. Later that week, as he was babbling away in his car seat behind me, he pointed into the sky outside his window and said “Grandma!” with a big smile on his face. Did she linger with us for a while? Were Brendan and his grandmother able to see each other after her life on earth ended? I’ll never know for certain in this life, but it gave me something to ponder.

Just this week, I received a book from Bethany House to review: “Angels, Miracles and Heavenly Encounters: Real-life Stories of Supernatural Events” compiled by James Stuart Bell (a collection of similar stories I recommend as an interesting and thought-provoking read). I pounced on this book the day it arrived and blazed through the stories, many of which I could relate to. It brought many personal memories to life in my mind. Over the past few years my husband and I have lost three of our collective parents. Life, death and the afterlife are on my mind more these days. As this book claims, there’s more going on in the world than meets the eye. There is an unseen spiritual realm, and occasionally God allows us glimpses of it.

Have you had a similar experience? Tell your story in the comments.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.  John 5:24

In loving memory of
Irene Dubicki Lynch

1942-2004


Honoring a Lost Soldier

My Uncle Stan … handsome guy, wasn’t he?

Every Memorial Day, I think first of my Uncle Stanley, who joined the Army at twenty, was sent to Vietnam, and never returned. He entered the U. S. Army on July, 11 1967, and was trained at Fort Lewis in Washington State where he grew up. He started his tour in December of 1967, turned twenty-one while serving, and died exactly seven months later in the Quang Tri Province of South Vietnam.

Uncle Stan served as a Cannon Fire Direction Specialist

He was a younger brother to my mother, an older brother to my aunt an uncle and an oldest son to my grandparents. I was the firstborn and the only niece he ever knew, two more nieces and two nephews came after me that he never had a chance to meet.

I mourn the man he would have grown to be, the uncle I never grew to know, the family man he never had a chance to be—but I am proud of his bravery and his sacrifice.

He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

Each day is precious. Take time to remember our friends who have laid down their lives for us. We honor the many soldiers who have served.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

In loving memory of
Stanley Lloyd Grunstad
1947-1968

Who do you honor on this day? Leave a memorial note in the comments.


For The Love of An Only Son

My sweet baby boy on a “benture” in the woods in 2005. (Photo: © Lauren Lynch)

In my last post, I shared that my son had played a role in saving me, and promised to elaborate on that claim …

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. 1 Timothy 2:15 ESV

Like Eve, I was deceived in the past (1 Timothy 2:13-14), was lost in a life of sin, and discovered redemption through the process of bringing a life into the world. Women are uniquely cursed and uniquely blessed. Bringing a child into the world is a painful and exhausting process, yet if we continue to invest in our children, there is no greater reward.

May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful! Proverbs 23:25

As women, our unique blessing—the opportunity to experience life growing in our bodies—to serve as a vessel of creation—brings immense joy. There is no greater way to learn of putting the needs of another first than to have a child. The single act of bringing a child into the world stripped away so much of the selfishness that was holding me back. I still need to endure in faith to finish strong (2 Timothy 4:6-7), but God used my son to teach me of sacrificial love, denying my self, of pouring myself into another.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Nothing could truly help me understand God’s sacrifice of his own son than to experience the kind of intense love I have for my son.  There aren’t many parents who wouldn’t sacrifice their own life to save their child, much less sacrifice the life of their child. The giving of a beloved only son is a gift beyond measure. I know how precious my own son is to me.

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

Children are a valuable inheritance from the Lord and our legacy after our life in this world ends. In childbearing, I was savedyet againfrom myself. And because of this, I will do everything in my power to encourage my son in his faith.

A sacrifice has been made for you. Do you know how precious a gift that is? Have you acknowledged it today?


The Hour Has Come: The Story of Brendan

Brendan and I meet face to face for the first time. (Photo: © Patrick Lynch)

Before I brought a child into the world, I lived a very self-centered life. Although I was raised in a Christian home, I didn’t have a saving faith until I married and had a child well into my thirties. The process of bringing my son into the world was a difficult path for me, but I would not trade it for anything. It opened my eyes to a whole new realm of truth.

During my pregnancy, I had gestational diabetes. I was also old enough and had enough other health issues that it was considered a complicated pregnancy. I followed the hospital’s suggestion of writing out a birth plan that included my desire for natural childbirth. After all, it was what women in my family did and they all seemed to have pretty simple childbirth experiences. I was so confident in this eventuality that when we missed the Lamaze class on caesarean births, I didn’t even bother to read up on it in my books.

That must have been some sort of insanely stubborn denial because I was completely surprised when that was what played out for me. My obstetrician had scheduled an induction date for me because of the gestational diabetes and for four days of varying levels of pitocin-induced labor, I labored in vain. I had strong “camel back” contractions without a single centimeter of dilation. No one had warned me that induced labor might not work.

I had entered some sort of zone of pain management in my mind. I fixated on my hands gripping the railing of my bed and the hours slipped by, but no amount of visualizing my cervix opening made it so. Still, I had my mind set on natural childbirth, so it actually surprised me when my doctor told me in the middle of the fourth day of unproductive labor that she had already assembled a surgical team and prepped the room for a c-section.

When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. John 16:21

After the decision had been made, it all went relatively quickly. Within an hour, my baby boy met me on my head side of the blue curtain and I knew without a doubt that it had all been worth every moment of difficulty.

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. 1 Timothy 2:15 ESV

This much-debated verse certainly has a personal meaning for me. I know that I received my salvation through God’s son alone, and yet God used my son to draw me to him as well. (More on that in my next blog entry)

How has (or would) bringing a child into the world changed you?

(Photo: © Patrick Lynch)


How I Met My Father, and …

How I Met Your Father – Part Two

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I don’t know why the kayak got to me so much (see my previous blog entry), but it did. It was just so darned adorable. Patrick has always been cute that way. He used to make these confetti bombs. I worked in a cubicle when we worked together. And that was back when film was still used in cameras.  He’d take a film canister and fill it with little bits of paper, then some compressed air and put the lid on. He was also pretty stealthy for a big guy. He’d sneak up and put his little happy bomb on the ledge of the cubicle and disappear—a few seconds later there was a mysterious explosion of confetti. I guess the funniest part about the silly bombs was that they were delivered by a man with a very dry sense of humor. He was also the office curmudgeon. How often do you meet a confetti-bombing curmudgeon? I had to make him mine.

Patrick and I didn’t marry until our early thirties. By that time, I had years of selfishness, shallowness and indifference under my belt. I had pretty much given up on finding a compatible life partner. I figured I’d eventually end up being one of those crazy ladies who spends all her money feeding birds from park benches then going home to a shack full of cats.

A friend who worked with Patrick got me the design gig where they worked. She told me she had a husband picked out for me. After I finished laughing, I eventually had to meet him to borrow a camera lens. A few minutes later, with lens in hand, I stopped by to visit my friend and let her know that I wasn’t seeing the possibilities—but that was before the confetti bombs and before I figured out how dry and amusing his humor really was. It is so dry, I am most amused by how many people miss it. It still entertains me to see how often it baffles people. Without knowing him, you can’t really be sure whether he’s kidding or not.  It’s just enough to make you wonder.

She gave me the disclaimer: he’s a bit of a Bible Banger. Looking back as the believer I now am, I wouldn’t say that at all, but he wasn’t shy about letting you know he was a Christian. He just let that part of himself shine. I am sorry to say that at the time, the Christian feature wasn’t a bonus to me—much less the necessity it should have been—but I had been raised in a Christian home, so it didn’t put me off either.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.
Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)

Therein lies one of the greatest influences Patrick has had on me. After 30-some years of being a self-centered follower of fun, the Holy Spirit started to work in me. First, I had the very surprising and newfound interest in having a baby … for the first time … in my thirties! And God knew what he was doing. He sent a great guy, with an interest in marriage and kids smack in my path, so I practically had to trip over him.

God was also drawing me to himself. So I not only met the love of my life and my future child’s father in Patrick—I met my Heavenly Father through him as well.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

The rest is history. After only six months of dating, Patrick and I were married. A couple years later, we had our son, Brendan … but that is another love story.

Who showed you true love?

My guys on top of Pilot Mountain. Two peas in a pod …


What Kind of Love is This?

How I Met Your Father: Part One

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Last night my son asked me if I had ever loved anyone before his dad. He just turned eleven and these kinds of things are beginning to occur to him. I told him, that yes I had—but not in the way that I love his dad. It brought to mind the realities of true love.

For the first time, I wished I could use the intricacies of the Greek language to explain the various kinds of love we can feel, but maybe we do have it right in the English language. Maybe there is only one kind of true love—the only kind worth labeling as such. In either language, though, the various kinds are easily distinguished.

My husband, Patrick, isn’t a man of deeply expressed passions, but he is capable of the truest kind of love I have ever experienced. He is fiercely loyal and capable of both enduring and sacrificial love.

When I first met Patrick, it must have been right about the time his former wife left him to have a relationship with her supervisor at work. We had become friends through work and I learned details of his personal life here and there as I got to know him. It may have been Patrick’s treatment of his unfaithful wife that caught my attention first. He handled it all in such a respectable manner. During their one-year separation, while she dated her boss, he remained faithful and gave her every chance to return to their marriage. He waited patiently until she initiated divorce proceedings.

Love is patient, love is kind. 1 Corinthians 13:4a

Meanwhile a friendship had formed between us and we realized we had several interests in common—photography, scuba diving and kayaking to name a few.

Now—I must confess—Patrick wasn’t the kind of man that would have caught my eye in the past. I had many years of responding to vain, cocky, shallow types in my many years of dating before I learned how to look deeper. Patrick was an understated handsome minus the attitude—the kind that you can truly appreciate only by peeling back the layers. And, thankfully, there were enough layers to occupy my thirty-something, I’ve-grown-blasé-about-dating self.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4b

I always enjoyed boating and had done so often in dating relationships—both power and sail. So when Patrick asked me at work one day if I would like to see his new boat—well, I had the been-there-done-that attitude already forming at the back of my mind. Hmm, I thought, but he melted my inner sarcasm with a shy smile, and I took the bait. Okay, I said, wondering where I would have to go to see it. Was he asking me on a date?

Maybe not. He asked me to follow him. Here at work? Okay, that increased my curiosity. I followed him to the parking lot, and there, on top of his truck was a brand new double kayak.

Now, I’ve committed to not droning on more than 500 words or so and this story will become a bit longer than any blog entry should be. If you would like to hear how Patrick melted my heart some more, tune in tomorrow …

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-3

How did you first discover true love?
Leave comments—I LOVE A GOOD LOVE STORY!!

Patrick took this photo while we were kayaking and dating back in 1999. As you can see from the expression on my face, I was concentrating very hard on getting my little kayak through the big maze of mangroves.


A Triple Braided Cord

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I have loner tendencies. I have since I was a kid. Even as a preschooler, I’d find little hiding places in the house, ferret away some art supplies and have some creative alone time. As an adult, that is pretty much still my inclination. That’s not to say that I don’t like people. I do. But—my sanity and creativity is grounded in my alone time.

I value my friendships, but my friends—knowing my tendencies—often need to drag me out of the house to be social. When I get out in the world, I always have fun. I just don’t seek out social situations on my own very often. Knowing this weakness in my character, I have to be conscious of my friendship skills. When I make an effort, I am a devoted friend, but I can sometimes fall into times of friendship neglect if I am not careful. What I need to do more often is make a concerted effort. By definition, I can’t make a “concerted effort” alone. I can only work “in concert” with others.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.   Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)

That convicts me. My loner tendencies could land me “in real trouble.” Alone, I could be attacked and defeated—even broken. When we are united, we find warmth and comfort.

From the time of Eve’s creation, humans were designed to interact and relate to each other. In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” We need to interact with other Christians to encourage and be encouraged.

There is certainly nothing wrong with a desire for solitude. It can be just as important as being relational. The key, as in most things, is to find the right balance. Without that balance, we risk being too self-focused.

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. Proverbs 18:1

So, dear friends, I renew my effort to be a better companion and to draw strength from my relationships with you. I will do my best to act on my love for you more often. Together, we are a force to be reckoned with. We are a triple-braided cord.

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 (NIV)

How do you find balance in your friendships?


An Enchanted Life

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Although it often has magical connotations, the word enchantment, can mean to attract and move deeply—to allure and captivate. Enchantment is derived from the Latin incantare, meaning to sing, as if our response to being allured is beyond mere speech. We are reminded of fairy tales with princesses singing in a forest glen as birds are drawn to their fingertips.

Who doesn’t love a tale of enchantment—of maidens in distress and the hero who saves them, of deep and mysterious forests laced with exotic flowers—of true love. We all want to lead a charmed life, and yet we often turn our back on that possibility.

As a young girl, I loved to imagine myself a princess, but I never truly believed. It took years of looking for love in all the wrong places (read An Unearthly Desire), of darkness and despair, before I allowed myself to be rescued by my prince.

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.  1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (ESV)

Once we open our hearts to Christ and receive the Spirit, we become heirs to things beyond our wildest imaginings. We begin a journey of deeper understanding.

Paul told the believers in Corinth that they were a letter from Christ, “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:3 (ESV)

Imagine that. We are living messages from Christ. If we choose to believe what was written on our hearts, we are sons and daughters of the King. We are heirs of all that is good. Who needs fairy tales when we can have the real thing. No matter who we are, or where we’ve been, or how long we have waited, we can still live happily ever after … believe it.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (ESV)

Then we can’t stop at simply believing with all our hearts. As living messages, we have a responsibility. We need to impress the truth upon the next generation—teach them to meditate on what is noble, pure and lovely by example. We need to show them how to claim their royal inheritance as well, so we can all live an enchanted life.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8