Tag 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?


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.


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

© PhotoSpin.com

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.


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


An Unearthly Desire

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You complete me. We’ve all laughed at that trite phrase, right? But it struck me today, that even though most of us have mocked the idea, it’s exactly what we want the most— to feel complete. There is something we lack on our own.

In some ways, my circle of friends completes me. We share interests. It’s a give and take that is mutually beneficial. My friends know how to comfort me like no one else. My family members are also an important part of who I am. They share my genetic makeup and understand me in a way no others can. My husband is my partner for life. He loves and accepts me for better or worse. But—even though I find it difficult to imagine a life without my family and friends, not one of them completes me. Deep inside, I am still searching for more than any earthly being can provide.

For the first 30 years of my life, I looked in all the wrong places for that sense of completion. It took many years of maturing before I began to understand that I was largely motivated by my desire for love and acceptance. My parents were not verbally or physically demonstrative with their love [read about my path to forgiveness]. They set the bar for achievement and obedience very high and no matter how hard I tried, I always felt that I fell short of it. I knew they cared about me, but I was always left wanting. I had a longing that couldn’t be satisfied and it gave me a restless spirit. I went from dating relationship to dating relationship, always searching and never fulfilled.

So it’s no surprise that when it comes to apologetics, I identify the most with the argument from desire. It was my own path to discovering a personal relationship with Christ. The argument from desire follows this logic:

1. Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire.

2. But there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy.

Conclusion: If the object of this desire does not exist in this world, it must exist in another.

This argument doesn’t prove anything—the knowing can only come with growing faith—but it certainly verbalized the longing that had kept me searching for that feeling of completeness—the feeling that was always seemed just beyond my grasp.

Each of us has a hunger that cannot be satiated by anything of this world. If it could, life would be much less interesting. It’s the quest for that missing part of ourselves that keeps us going. Most of the time, we don’t even know what it is we’re searching for. We just yearn for more. How many times have you heard the complaint, “There must be more to life.”

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. Acts 16:31

Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 2:2

We are romantics searching the world over for our one true love, and we won’t be truly satisfied until we find that one. For me that search is over.  My greatest desire was to be reunited with my Creator. Once I made that discovery, I viewed the world with fresh eyes. It was suddenly clear that the world was not a source for fulfillment, but a lavish display of my Creator’s love for me.

Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” — C.S. Lewis


Love & LucyFur

A rescued rat terrier became a part of our family a couple years ago. At the time, we already had a rattie we adored. Wild Mandrake (Drake to us) came into the world in a loving foster home and joined our pack at eight weeks old. He has lived a posh, air-conditioned life with an abundance of food, toys and attention. Lucy, on the other hand, did not.

Within the first few days of her arrival in our home, we got an inside understanding of why the term for a female dog has been used in such a derogatory manner. Unlike Drake, her animal instincts had been thrust into full-blown survival mode. She would scarf down her food whole and be halfway through Drake’s before he could even sneak a morsel. She’d hide her chewy and steal his. She staked me out as her human and wouldn’t allow Drake within a few feet of me. To his credit, Drake remained his humble, loveable self.

After experiencing her near demonic mood swings, we decided that Lucy’s last name must be Fur. Lucy’s origins were unknown. The only background we were given on her was that she had ended up in a kill shelter, become pregnant in said shelter, and was subsequently on doggie death row.

Lucy was liberated in the nick of time by a nationwide group that collects abandoned rat terriers and places them in foster homes while looking for a furever home for them. She gave birth in the foster home, her puppy was put in the system and she was “fixed”—all part of their policy for making sure that their organization is not overwhelmed by additional unwanted dogs.

Her foster mother warned us that she had a tendency to snap at the other foster dogs in her home, but all we could see at the time was a very scared and shaky little dog that looked like a forlorn twin to our own beloved Drake. Their markings were similar and other than her smaller size and an unexplained scar on her snout, they looked almost identical. Well …

The similarities ended there. Our mild-mannered Drake was dumbfounded by her snarkiness. She would allow us all to hold her and pet her—minimally—but if anything startled her or made her the least bit uncomfortable (our young son approaching her with a little too much enthusiasm, or Drake copping a curious sniff, for instance) she would bare her teeth and attack with rabid ferocity. Did her foster mom actually use the word “snappy??” This poor, little dog had a huge load of baggage.

Now don’t worry yourself. This story has a happy ending. While Lucy hasn’t lost much of her snark, she isn’t vicious anymore. It was a slow road to trust, but she has learned to bare her tummy for a good rubbing with the best of them. She has become the pampered princess, everybody’s favorite nap buddy, and a joy to snuggle.

The point to my story? Lucy has taught me that snarky creatures are still God’s creatures and everybody needs unconditional love. Kindness, a lot of patience and an extra measure of grace will go a long way to melting even the toughest personalities. The tougher the facade, the more pain that is likely hiding underneath. But have no fear, my friend—love really does conquer all.

Love suffers long and is kind; love … bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Lucy gets a "time out" for misbehavior while on vacation last week, but still manages a pretty smile for the camera. Drake might have gloated just a bit.