Falling in Love, Again

Falling in love - again

Falling in love is one of the sweetest things in life. Who are you falling in love with today?

I fall in love with my friends over and over again with each experience or conversation we have. No, that doesn’t make me fickle because I fall in love all the time – it’s not like I fall out of love with my friends. It’s more about my knowing them deeper every time we connect and that gives me more reasons to love them.

Falling in love can be (and is) a conscious decision we GET to make with each encounter we have.

Choosing to love people is really a gift. Love is so much easier than judgment and offense. When we learn to look for the treasure in others, we will begin to see them through the eyes of our Father. He has placed treasure in each and every one of us and it is our good pleasure to find it, brush it off and polish it up. We are made to make each other shine!

So often we don’t see the worth that is in ourselves – it takes someone else to point it out or reveal it to us. We are blinded by our past wounds and difficulties. Have you ever met someone who is simply amazing and they impress you by everything they do? I have and the crazy thing is, they don’t know any of this. They don’t know they are amazing – they feel the exact opposite actually. When I mention some of these things to them, speaking how I see them, they are frankly incredulous. They have never seen themselves in that light.

Because we so often can’t or don’t see the truth of who we are, especially who we are to other people, we walk around with half of our identity missing. This is why it’s so important for us to fall in love with people! They have no idea how lovely they are and if we don’t tell them, who will? All they will hear are the lies running around in their head that is designed to defeat them and keep them from being who they were made to be.

So again I ask – Who are you falling in love with today? Will it be a friend or will it be a total stranger? Could it possibly be a family member who is hurting? It’s up to you to decide.

G

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Love Thy Neighbor

neighbors

The other morning while I was just waking up – you know, that sweet place between being fully awake and fully asleep, I was thinking about love. I was thinking about loving my neighbor and how sometimes it’s easier said than done. Yes, I do know the scripture actually says, Love your neighbor as you love yourself. But, we’ll save that “Yourself” part for another time.

I was pondering this and praying that God would give me a love for those who I seem to have a hard time loving on my own. Help me love even those who irritate me and make me twitch at the mere mention of their name. Help me love the (seemingly) unlovable ones.

After praying and pondering this, I had a sudden thought of actually falling in love with these people – my neighbors and others. Seriously, falling in love? But, the more I thought about it, the more it made perfect sense.

What better way to serve someone and demonstrate the kingdom at the same time. That is, without an agenda whatsoever.  People see agendas coming a mile away and there isn’t any real love in them when it comes to relationships like this. The end “game” is love, not another notch on your evangelistic belt. (I don’t have a belt, btw.)

For me, the Gospel is and should be preached by demonstrations of love and practical things that people need and can understand in their lives, more than by words preached at them. I find that when words are being used to preach the Gospel, it is for the Believing body. Not always, but this is what I see most often. It’s always pointless to point out what we think is wrong with someone, especially if we haven’t even taken the time to love well first. There is no fruit in that.

We throw the word “love” around all the time. Often when we use the word, it’s for things, to people. For instance:
I love coffee

I love bacon

I love these jeans

I love Sunday mornings

I love Christmas

We also use this word love when we think and talk about our friends and relationships – which is what I’m talking about here.

Can we take a moment and think about this thing called love? What is it really about?

When I met my husband on a blind date, oh so many years ago, I fell head over heels in love with him. My thoughts were always on him. What was he doing? Was he thinking about me? When would we get to be together again?

Things have changed only slightly these days. Instead of me being in a state of head over heels, – I am able to take my eyes and thoughts off of him so I can accomplish some things. (That is sometimes necessary for functionality!) But that is what love is all about. Falling in love with Paul is something that I choose to do every morning when I wake up. It’s like the “Groundhog Day” of love. I get to do it all over again but the difference is, I am full of love when I begin the day, not emptied out only to start from scratch.

I used the illustration of me and Paul about falling in love because it’s a perfect picture of what we are capable of as people: We can fall in love with those around us and we can do it every day.

This thing called love is really about choosing a place of humility. If we do that there will be no room for judgment or accusation for those who believe differently than us or act differently than we would in a given situation. We can love them because we give them honor from exactly where they are not someplace we think they should be.

 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never ends. . .(1 Cor. 13:4-8)

Falling in love with our neighbors is where the rubber hits the road. Love is a fruit of the spirit and if you know anything about fruit, it doesn’t suddenly appear. Fruit is grown from seeds planted and tended over time. Like fruit we won’t excel in love always, but we can develop love, deep love over time.

We need to treat people like our most beloved and cherished friend. We need to take the time to listen because they have a story that will rock our world and it needs to be told. If we treat them like beloved friends, that is what they will become. Can we love well enough to listen and actually show that we love?

I believe it’s time to fall in love with those around us. I believe it’s time for us to go out as an army of love and conquer the neighbors around us. Then let’s go take the world!

I’m falling in love, all over again.

G

Revealing of the Sons of God?

Drawn to the light

Do you ever think about those scriptures that say, For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14) and this one, For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God? (Romans 8:19)

I do, I often wonder what it will look like when the wait is over. I often wonder if I will ever be seen or known as a Son of God.

Last night I (eventually) got a glimpse of one possibility of how it might look. . .

I can’t say it was totally unexpected but when the attack came, I was shocked at how utterly ridiculous it was. Even though I halfway expected something, I didn’t expect what did come.

**********

When you find yourself being attacked you might want to take a step back and see what is really going on. Yes, it hurts when this happens. Yes, emotions rise up, you will want to defend yourself and refute the accusations. Believe me, I know all about it. Actually, I’m standing in this exact spot right now.

In order to see what might really be going on, we have to go deeper. Attacks are often reactionary as opposed to being responsive. The first is emotionally driven and the second is thought driven in their simplest forms. In this case of an attack, we are looking at the emotionally driven reaction.

In order to distance myself from an attack, I have to step back and look deeper to see what might be motivation or cause. (Even if it’s only perceived by them) Often it has more to do with the person that is attacking than the one who is being attacked. And often it has to do with wounds and hurt that have not been properly dealt with or healed.

Unhealed wounds can cause bitterness and negative feelings.

Resentment over things that have happened to us can make us feel like victims and that in turn sometimes causes us to make inner vows that we think will protect us from further hurts.

They won’t.

Well, they will but it will only be for a very short time. Eventually, those vows will become a prison that not only keeps things from hurting us again, they also keep anything good from getting in – like healing! Those wounds will begin to fester and become toxic. This is when seeming unreasonable attacks take place. Unreasonable to the person on the receiving end, that is.

When I was attacked last night, I’ll be honest with you – I wanted to attack right back! I vented, said a few (or several) things that weren’t very lady-like and even started writing out a reply to the person. Thankfully I have a husband who hears from God who advised me to wait, not respond until tomorrow. And also thankfully, I’m wise enough to listen to him!

Before falling asleep I repented for my behavior and outburst of wrath towards this person and asked God to soften my heart towards them because I certainly couldn’t do it all by myself. I didn’t sleep well. The enemy was having a heyday with my thoughts. It was difficult to rein them in but for the most part, I recognized his tactics and told him to stop. Mostly they did.

While drinking coffee this morning, Paul and I talked about the incident more. It was occurring to me that this person was very unhappy and had a very negative outlook on life. I gleaned this not from a place of judgment but from previous conversations I had with this person. Looking at the larger picture, I realized there had been signs that I didn’t recognize at the time.

This person was wounded and expected everything would be a problem, everything would go wrong. They were bitter because they hadn’t been healed. It broke my heart, but in a good way. (Not like when they attacked me. That one hurt, this one hurt differently) We were able to pray blessings and healing over them in a very sincere way. I was able to forgive them and let any resentment or need for punishment fall to the ground.

Yes, I was attacked but at the end of the day, it wasn’t about me. It was about them and their dissatisfaction with themselves. I am still praying for them, prayers of healing and prayers of discovery. I continue to pray they will discover what love is and Who Love is. I pray they will encounter joy and peace and kindness in the most unexpected places.

It’s not always easy to pray for those who hurt us but who said it would be? The easy path is not always the right path to take. The path that pushes us past our comfort zones causes us to take our eyes off our own selves and makes us love stronger, is the one that will bear much fruit. It is the path that will identify us as Sons of God.

The whole world is waiting, you know. The world is waiting for a light in the world to be drawn to – that Light is in you!

(Photo credit ~ https://stocksnap.io/photo/3E6O5228GU)

 

Is fear causing us to be problem focused instead of God focused?

Focus

I was sitting here thinking about some things in my life and I had this thought – does God wonder if we will ever quit looking at our problems and start looking at Him? I also wonder if we don’t sometimes make idols of our problems and difficulties. They are so often at the very center of everything we do and that makes me wonder sometimes about God’s thought on it.

If I spend most of my time worrying about problems and focusing on what might go wrong if this happens, or that happens, I would never accomplish anything. I just might have placed all my trust in the wrong kingdom. That’s fear, my friend. Fear wants us to have so much trust that bad things are going to happen that we completely forget who we are. We forget that our trust is in God – and that’s not good at all.

Fear is the number one thing we are warned against in the Bible and I think for a very good reason. Could it be that fear is so prevalent and such a great adversary that we need to constantly be reminded that it’s a lie? And not only that it’s a lie, but that it’s something we need to guard against? Fear not, indeed!

I am also reminded of the scripture that perfect love casts out all fear. How does that work in a practical sense? (I’m all about the practical)

As far as perfect love pertains to problem focus, I think the answer lies in the ability to turn my focus back to God. I need to remember the things He’s promised me, i.e. what are the prophetic words over my life? Once I remind myself of all those things, I can remember His goodness and realize that my trust has been on the wrong things and turn back to Him. Trusting in God is the way to peace and the way to freedom.

If I told my husband I trusted him and yet every time he said or did something, it made me fearful and anxious, I wouldn’t be showing very much trust. No, that’s not me trusting him at all. Instead, that’s me trusting in the bad things more than all the good things that he could do. We need to realize this fear is from the enemy and whenever we engage it, we empower it. Fear that is empowered will stop you and any good you want to do in its tracks.

The enemy isn’t at war with God; he’s at war with us! He wants our eyes looking at our circumstances and our problems so we won’t be looking at God. He wants us looking at all the terrible things going on around us so we can’t see the beauty of what really is. When our eyes only see bad things or potentially bad things, we will never see a solution. We will never go out and BE the solution.

It’s true that so much is going on in our world lately. But when we have wrong focus, this is all we will see. We will operate out of fear and there won’t be any peace around us. Fear is a self-perpetuating thing; the more you operate in fear, the more it grows. The more it grows, the more anxious we become. It will keep growing until the cycle is broken and that can only be broken by putting our focus back on God.

He is our Hope. He is our Prince of Peace.

Let’s remember Love, perfect love does cast out fear. And as long as fear has a foothold in our lives, love is very difficult to achieve – if not impossible.

I have enough things in my life that seem impossible. They aren’t with God, but in my own strength, they answers might as well be on the moon.

With all these thoughts and ponderings, I’m more determined than ever to keep my eyes like flint on Him. When my eyes begin to wander I have to pull them back. I have to give them something to focus on and look to Jesus who has all the answers.

Stay ~ Influence ~ Occupy

jeremie-cremer-4419

 

My question is this: Are you having a bad day? Are you feeling insecure, angry, threatened?  If so, don’t withdraw! Stay engaged and fight for your space and your place… Sometimes life IS just hard. Sometimes things are coming at you all at once – you feel attacked maybe, things seem to go wrong and things start to pile up all around you. It can be very overwhelming!

It’s times like this that I want to exit out of life sometimes. I want to withdraw and quit participating with those around me. (But I don’t.)

Does that ever happen to you?

First of all, I’m not really talking about suicide here although I suppose it could apply. I’m talking about the feeling we sometimes have of being hurt and maybe overwhelmed by everything that is going on around us and the desire to withdraw from the game – pick up your marbles and go home where it’s “safe” and no one can hurt you anymore.

The problem with that is, we can’t really afford to bow out. Why? Because we each occupy a specific space, uniquely our own and it’s important that we stick around and fill it. If we leave, we will be missed and not only that, there are things we do that will not get done.

Don’t believe me?

 It’s like this…

God is so big that He knows each and every encounter we have. He knows who we will meet, who we will interact with and even who had the potential to offend us. He has given us influence from this space, our own flavor or sorts, and a certain scent that no one else has. There are things we do and say that no one else can do.

Don’t leave your space
None of us is an island; at least we’re not supposed to be! We have a connection, physically and spiritually to each other.  The space we occupy touches other spaces. Who we are and what we do affects those around us – for good or bad. Those we “touch” can be either blessed or hurt by our actions, whether we choose to stand or to flee, encourage or discourage. Other people occupying their own space will affect us too. Of course, this is who we get hurt or how we get blessed. The connections are not just in the physical realm, there are spiritual connections too.

Back to don’t leave your space…

It’s true when we’re hurt and try to back away from everyone, escape in order to avoid any more pain, that it feels like the right thing to do. The problem is, we don’t always realize what a void we leave behind. Our lives are not our own – what we do affects those around us in ways we may not have considered.

When we withdraw and stop participating, we leave a void, a vacuum in the space we once occupied. The emptiness if felt. Sometimes that feeling may be one of relief for a time to those we leave, or it may be one overwhelming grief.

Don’t be alarmed that some may feel relief when we depart – insecurity and anxiety are not always very comfortable to be around. But that relief is only short lived because we are supposed to occupy and thrive in that space and whether we are told or not, we are missed. The void/emptiness that’s felt by our absence can create a longing in others that is not unlike grief. It stirs up an ache in their souls that can’t be explained away.

We need to realize who we are and be aware of the space we occupy. We need to know we matter and are important to the people around us. Maybe we haven’t been told how much we matter and maybe that should change; but whether we are told or not, it doesn’t change the fact that the space we fill is ours to occupy and influence from.

If we don’t occupy and tend our spaces, we can become an island and that is NOT good. We will become isolated and alone because that is the effect of withdrawing. Departure believes the lie that we don’t matter. Know it for what it is – a lie! We matter more than we know.

You do matter! We matter!

I believe it’s time to stand in the place we’ve been given. It’s time to grow up in the things of God and begin to work from our places (spaces) of influence and boldly be who we are meant to be! And if for some reason you don’t know who that is, take a look around you – who are your friends, who are your companions, who influences you? This is who you are.

Now go be you and influence those around you!

Photo by Jérémie Crémer on Unsplash

Focus – Love or Injustices

Today's Goals
I’ve discovered that if you spend all your time focusing on what is unfair, what hasn’t been accomplished, or even what someone did to you, there’s a big chance bitterness will take over your conversations, which would have started in your thoughts.
 
I do realize there are lots of things in our world that need justice but I’m also aware of the beauty that surrounds me. Every place I see something negative or “out of place”, I can also see things that are simply beautiful or even astounding.
 
What do you see when you see a homeless person on the side of the road? Do you see someone who is most precious to our Papa, or do you see all the disadvantages the person has? Both are true. Both are important. But only one has life and only one can bring solutions and answers.
 
Yes, there are injustices in our world and there are plenty of things that need changing but for me, I think it’s more important to dwell on the one thing I can bring to the game – right here, right now. That “thing” is love. I can bring love into any situation I encounter.
 
If I only see negative things, all the problems, then I will never get around to loving anyone or anything. No, I will only become bitter and hard and that is the way I will see everything. My lens will be clouded by the cares of this world.
 
Speak life.
 
Choose love
 
I challenge you today to bring love, forcibly if necessary, to every single situation you find yourself in today. Sometimes that looks like smiling and walking away. Other times it may look like hugging a homeless person and letting them know that have value and are loved and then perhaps you give them something that will cost you something. Who knows, that hug could have cost you everything. That cup of coffee might be the big sacrifice. Only you and Papa know.
 
Love those impatient drivers. (You might be the most impatient one!) Love those coworkers, love those neighbors.
 
You get the picture – wherever you find yourself today, love big. Love strong.
 
And by evening time, may we all say, “This was a good day, Lord!!”
Rinse and repeat…

 

Love april 17

When I commented on a post earlier today it made me realize a few things about what I said and it also made me see how much I had changed over the last few years.

I honor people not because they deserve it; I honor people because I’m honorable.

I got to thinking about this statement and what it was really saying. It said, I’m honorable, and can now extend honor because of it. Hmmm

I also thought of loving my neighbors as I love myself. We all know this is one of the major commands of Jesus – Love God and love your neighbor, as you love yourself. But what if I don’t love my neighbor? What if I don’t even like my neighbor? If I find it this command impossible to do, the lack is mine, not theirs.

If I take the honor principle above and apply it to loving my neighbors it must mean that if I don’t love them it’s because I don’t love me – and I can’t give what I don’t have. That being the case, I should back up and find out why I can’t love them. Obviously, there is something that feels unworthy of love in me. This is what needs dealing with before I can love them.

Love is a Fruit of the Spirit and is something that takes a time to grow. If there is no love growing, I need to find out why and get healed.

Walking in the Fruit of the Spirit is healing and allows the (Holy) Spirit to do a work in me. It usually doesn’t happen overnight, it’s often a process. The Spirit will send in others to walk alongside to help you with getting healed. Sometimes it’s a full-on healing session but other times it’s more talking about and processing things to see them in a new light over a conversation, in the midst of a relationship/friendship.

Fruit takes time; it doesn’t simply appear on the branches. Flowers have to come forth and they have to be pollinated before any fruit will set. After that, the fruit will begin to grow but will still have to weather storms and hang on to that branch for what may seem like a long time before the fruit is ready to harvest.  Once the fruit is harvested I now have something I can give away – I can now extend love or peace, for example.

Then I get to grow more fruit.

It works this way with all the Fruit of the Spirit. When I find that I’m being impatient and letting situations frustrate me, I’ve prematurely gotten knocked off that tree branch! The fruit of patience wasn’t fully developed in me.

The more I get healed, the more I learn about my identity – my true identity. When I feel unworthy of love because of something in my past that either I did or someone did to me I really can’t love anyone else because I don’t have any to give. But when I get all that stuff healed and dealt with, I have room in my heart to love others the way they deserve to be loved.

I’m not fruitful in all areas of my life but I have come a long way. You too can measure your own progress simply looking at how you love people who are not like you or how you honor people. This was a little eye-opening to me. I realized the places I couldn’t “do” something were the places I needed to improve on in myself. (Or get healed)

As I begin to walk more and more in my true identity I can become an honorable person, full of love and happiness. It’s a process but progress is good!

 

We honor because we are honorable

We extend love because we are loved

We cry because we now can see the broken ones

We laugh because we have joy

We are kind because we know what mean-spiritedness is

We treat people and situations with gentleness because we have peace

We sing because He sings over us

We give hope to the hopeless because He gave it to us first

We are patient because we trust in Him

We are peacemakers because we have the Prince of Peace living in us  

We are alive because He lives

 

The Fruit of the Spirit is – unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.