Honor – Because we’re honorable

 

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.

 

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Returning to Your First Love

first love - take the risk

When Paul and I first met, the only thing we wanted to do was spend time together. Of course that wasn’t really possible, but we took every opportunity we could find to make it happen. When we couldn’t, I spent all the time we were apart thinking about him.

It’s amazing how consumed we were with each other – it was our first love. It was a time where everything else slid to the background and we became the forefront of everything we did or thought about.

When I was in the kitchen cooking, Paul joined me so we could still be together. I had an arm chair in the dining area that fit him perfectly. We would talk about our day but mostly we would simply share about our lives – our hopes and dreams, our disappointments, our victories and even our defeats. All the places in our hearts that hadn’t been shared came out into the open and were celebrated with love.

What was happening was, I was cooking and preparing a meal but my attention or my focus was on Paul. Spending time with him and being interested in his day and really, his whole life. The actual act of cooking was simply one of those things I did without all that much thought, and I wasn’t all that great of a cook back then either. That wasn’t the point. The time in the kitchen was about us spending time together while I multi-tasked and cooked meals but, the main thing going on was the soul or emotion connection; relationship.

We fit together like two clasped hands. I adored the ground he walked on. I was his biggest encourager and his was the same for me.

It was the best of times.

These kitchen conversations continued on after we were married. I began to take a huge interest in learning how to cook. I had no idea how people knew what spice or herb went with what. The only way I could figure it out was to try it. So I started growing and studying herbs. I began devouring cookbooks and trying every recipe that intrigued me.

But that was many years ago.

These days when I’m baking, I’m often somewhere else in my mind. I am physically there in my kitchen but my thoughts are miles away thinking about friends and conversations we’ve had or often, I am thinking about the person who will receive what I am currently baking.

Occasionally, I even have conversations with people who aren’t even in the room. More often than not if no one is physically in the room with me, I’m having conversations with God. We talk about many things. Sometimes it’s me praying and other times it’s not. When I interact with God like this, I am at complete rest; there is no anxiety or worry, I multi-task with ease. With my physical hands I am baking something but in my heart and mind or in my imagination, I am having a conversation with someone I can’t see with  my natural eyes – yet my conversation and communication is as if I can.

When I am in this place, I am at rest. I am comfortable knowing that what is transpiring is real and affects my relationship with God. It is just as real as when Paul is in the kitchen conversing with me – I’m enjoying first love with God.

While in this place of rest, everything that tries to remind me how bad some circumstance is or how dire a problem seems – falls to the wayside. I am in a bubble of protection and love. I am instead consumed with the One who has all of my attention and I believe it all comes down to this:

When Pau and I first loved, there was so much rest when we were together, even though in reality it was one of the toughest times of our lives. When we were together we were strengthened so that when we needed to be strong we would be because there was a history or testimony of a love that could not be shaken. There was a safe place to dwell in the midst of storms.

How do you find rest? You return to your first love, of course. That is where the testimony lies. My first love with Paul is like my walk with Jesus – even more so because in Him I find rest. They are both my safe place.

When I’m going about my day to day endeavors and find myself getting frustrated because the car stalled or the recipe isn’t working out like I thought it would and yet those muffins have to get in the mail, I have to stop for a moment and breathe. I have to listen to my heart reminding me that it will work out – I need to return to my first love and let my focus be there, not on what isn’t going right.

When I was thinking about these things the other day, I realized this was a key I needed to engage more often. I’ve heard the phrase, “Return to your first love” many times but mostly swept it aside as one of those “spiritual” things that I didn’t understand. I would shrug it off and move on because I couldn’t figure out what it meant in context of my life or even in the context of things I was going through at a particular time.

“Return to your first love” I know it’s talking about that time when all of my focus was on Him and this new amazing love we shared; those giddy days of adoration and almost being oblivious to anything else – at least for me. But that was all I knew.

What I didn’t realize until just a few weeks ago was that “first love” was also the seat of my resting place. It’s a safe place to come and let worries and stress fall away. It’s the place where I can labor and not grow weary. It’s the place where I can walk out my calling and not fear the judgments of man. It’s also my lampstand and it’s my great reward.

”He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ (Rev. 2:7)

When I find myself in situations that aren’t in my control, read most of the time, I need to remember that I have the key to rest and the key to peace. I simply have to enter in and have a seat.

Picture credit: https://unsplash.com/@roy23

Mother’s Day and Honoring Women

Beautiful-Butterfly-On-Pink-Flower

Mother’s Day is on May 8th this year and that makes it less than a month away. I have to find a victim, quick! No, really. Let me explain…

My mother passed away 7 years ago and because she has gone on, it doesn’t exempt me from honoring mothers all around me. There are single mothers who need encouraging, spiritual mothers who need honoring, sisters who have forgotten how awesome they truly are or maybe you’re a mother to orphans who simply needs someone to listen to what has happened in your day. The need is greater than we know.

I’ve heard it said that Mother’s Day is only a ‘Hallmark’ holiday and it doesn’t really matter that much but this couldn’t be further from the truth! It matters a lot. No, it doesn’t matter how the world celebrates or even doesn’t celebrate; WE are of a different kingdom and we know how important mothers are, right?!

Mothers are the very first teachers we have and they impart so much with their time, their love and their wisdom. Mothers are our first confidants and the first ones we run too when we are little. Remember those mashed up flowers we grabbed with our tiny little hands just so we could present them to our mommy’s? Remember how she kissed our owie’s away and everything was all better?

And when we are older and our relationships with our mothers were more than a little strained because WE knew absolutely everything and she was only trying to keep us from all that WE knew we could do. Right – even those days she was there; washing our sheets, making us meals and even praying for our safety and for wisdom to “please dear God” land on us! I know I wasn’t the easiest daughter to raise; maybe not the worst but in hindsight, I could have honored her more.

But this is not about regrets! NOPE. This is about loving and honoring the women who have raised us and mentored us. It’s also about those we came to depend on in our time of need. Let’s not let an opportunity pass to honor these great women. And you do realize,  whether a woman believes in Jesus like we do or not has nothing to do with it at the end of the day. Jesus knows her and He loves her well. We should also.

So, my challenge to you is this…

Find someone to honor and celebrate extravagantly this year. Take them to dinner, send them something in the mail, go clean their house or buy them flowers. And most importantly, tell them how much they’ve meant to you, how they’ve spoken into your life. How awesome they are!

And then, come back and share the testimony of how blessed they were by your kindness!

Entering the Kingdom of God ~ from the perspective of the unsaved spouse

leaves

I’ve been walking with the Lord 10 years now.  Who knew He could be so good to me!?

Paul got saved first and I’ve got to tell you, I was not happy about it. No, if fact I was pretty ticked off. I wanted to know who came and stole my husband away. What happened to my “cool” husband? He started acting really weird and quoting the Bible to Chelsea and me and frankly, it only made us both mad. Just who did he think he was anyway? He couldn’t judge us like that! HE was trying to share his new reality but it felt like condemnation to both of us. We didn’t appreciate the change in him at all.

Did this happen to you; did you get saved before your spouse or them before you? It does not make for a happy marriage I’ll tell you that much. When Paul got saved, we were living on the grounds of an Episcopal church in a one-room cottage, as caretakers and grounds keepers. Much of our responsibility entailed installing many gardens and all things landscape.

We were also members of the church and attended every time the doors were open. Due to this; I felt we were more holy than the Pope! I mean, how much more spiritual or holy can you get right?  I would later learn that church attendance had nothing to do with how spiritual or holy you were, much later.

I was also very much into the social aspect of the church because it gave me an opportunity to cook and entertain, which is my passion. This led to me befriending the new caterer who began using the church’s commercial kitchen. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I had found my tribe.

You see, I always joked around about writing a book entitled, A Day in the Life of a “Wannabe” Caterer; only eat the ugly ones. I lived for cooking and entertaining. As my friendship grew with this caterer, I began to help out and was able to share with her the many things I knew that would be useful in her business. I began helping with the flower arrangements, menu ideas, recipes and even working for free. Of course, I also worked full time during the week in our family business too. Every weekend, I would be up at the church lending a hand and have the time of my life.

I did get paid for my work after a few months, though. We become great friends, doing everything together for many years. We took care of each other’s children, we did charity events together, and we partied and cooked together, vacationed together; we celebrated life the best way we knew how.

And then Paul got saved. . .

That changed everything. He was seriously making me not want to be around him very much. He stopped hanging out with our friends and began going to meetings every chance he got.  We were still members of the Episcopal Church but when not attending a meeting there, he would run off to meetings where he could be around other people like him who were experiencing God. When he’d return from these meetings, he wanted to share and talk about what he’d experienced, but I would have none of it; I didn’t want to feel condemned by his words.

He really was only sharing the awesomeness of God, but I only felt condemnation. I began to find opportunities to be gone when he was home which often meant I was at my friend’s house, 35 miles away.

Our marriage began to suffer and I began to not even care. I felt hopeless. We had always been able to converse for hours and hours and now all of a sudden, we had nothing to say to each other. All he ever wanted to talk about was God and I didn’t want to hear it. What I didn’t know was at the same time that I feeling hopeless and experiencing these things, Paul was also. But, he wasn’t content to let things just drift apart, no! He began talking to God about how He would have to send him a new wife because he (Paul) was so holy and pure now that he simply couldn’t have a wife who smoked and drank and cussed like a sailor. No, he needed a holy wife. (Dang!)

I was already feeling somewhat rejected and not good enough anymore so I’m glad I didn’t know he wanted a new wife! Yes, even though I was mad at him and didn’t understand what was happening to us, I would have been devastated to know what he was feeling at the time. I only learned about this years later.

God told Paul He wasn’t going to get him a new wife but instead, Paul would have to fall back in love with me. Paul needed to start making a place for me in his “new” life. This struggle continued for a couple more years.  In the mean time, we left the Episcopal Church because they began ordaining gay Bishops and although we both had personal friends who were gay; neither felt it represented God at all. When we left the church, we also had to leave the cottage we’d been living in for years and that was sad. The good news was, we were getting our own place and that was a dream come true, finally.

Paul had begun praying in the local healing rooms a year or so before and was now in leadership. He still kept running off to other meetings and conferences while I kept on catering, but now I was working with my brother. We were almost living separate lives, but God was still working on this thing!

This is just an excerpt of the journey but needless to say, Paul did make a place for me. He prayed for me all the time, without me actually knowing about it except things began to feel different. He no longer fought with me or tried to correct anything I was doing. He literally just loved me where I was. And also, by falling back in love with me again, he made a way for me to enter into the kingdom. My offenses began to fall away. God started whispering to me there in that place and I even began to love my husband again.

Prayer works as we know but it also takes honor and respect. When I began to receive that (and I absolutely did not deserve it!), my heart changed. I felt a tangible place being made for me to come alongside my husband. I had no clue what it was, or what it meant. What I did know was that it felt good and it felt safe.

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I pray my story might encourage you to pray for your spouse and simply love them right where they are. We can change nothing on our own, but my Jesus certainly can. Persistent prayer along with respect and honor is a game changer and I know we all need change to happen.

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Note: This post is about a journey, not theological understanding. Many things I believed at one time are not what I believe now. I call it a progressive revelation. That is to say, if something I have shared in this post offends you, stop it; this is not where we land. This is where we have journeyed through. We’ve all come through many things . . . GG

Perfect Love

 

perfect love

ter·ror  ˈterər

noun  1. extreme fear.

Terror – to bring terror through intimidation and fear.

I’ve been thinking on the recent events happening in Paris and even other parts of the world. I’ve also been thinking about the word terrorist, which loosely means to bring terror through intimidation and fear.

It doesn’t take a big man to terrorize someone with a gun. No, that man, or woman for that matter, hides behind that weapon with the intent to use violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, to get their way.

I know this is a very simplistic view but I’m staying with this view for a reason; terror isn’t my focus. Love is my focus. Perfect love casts our fear…. terror.

With all the media outlets spewing s much coverage of what is going on and what they think is going on, I can only believe it is helping the terrorist to spread the terror to even more people. I’ve seen this happening even where I work. Yesterday, they turned the TV channel on to CNN and let it play for a while. All the numbers were listed as expected; how many dead, how many wounded, how many terrorist found, how many dead, etc. etc. While not burying my head in the sand, I did not allow the terror to enter into my spirit. That was not the case for other’s watching. I could see how terror was doing its work; how they were hanging onto every word the reporters were speaking as if this terrorist were on their very doorstep.

After the reports began looping, repeating the same information all over again, I suggested we change the channel and watch some football or something. But even after the news was turned off, the terror was doing its work, having its way; I could see it on their faces, on one person especially. She was terrified that this would happen to her. She felt she had no control over her life and was helpless. I think this is what scared her most. She kept talking about moving away to the ‘islands’ because for some reason this would be safer. There was no comfort I could give her because she was so terrorized that she convinced herself that it was inevitable, only a matter of time. She expected it to occur.

To me, this is exactly the work terror is trying to accomplish, and I think it’s winning, for now. We have to see a bigger picture, a truer picture and not be moved by this spirit.

Just like that day when we were all shocked to hear what it happened in France and what happened the night before in Beirut; it makes us afraid. We need to collect ourselves realize that God knows this is happening, and the reason this is happening is because there’s not enough love in the world. Yes, this is a rather simplistic view, but don’t we tend to over complicate things anyway?

This is about a love deficit and love is what will transform the world. This Love the world needs is a Person and this Person needs to be encountered. These terrorist need love, they just don’t know it yet. Of course I don’t condone what they do, but what they do shouldn’t make me hate them. Nope, instead it should move me to intercede for them.

I believe we all need to look at it this way. I think when these atrocities occur; we should grieve not only for the victims but also for the perpetrators. The focus of our prayers should be that love with fall down on them. That love would overcome their hatred and need to punish others who don’t believe as they do. Our prayers should be that Love would work through us to be the instrument of change the world so desperately needs.

And then I read this……

“After her son committed a horrific crime, Terri Roberts expected rage and calls for vengeance. What she was greeted with instead healed an entire community”

Full article here Forgiven (Follow link or copy and paste into your browser)

This is what Love looks like.

Love Wins, whether you see it or not

love wins 2

Do you ever find yourself discouraged when all you seem to see are hurt and broken people, everywhere you look? It’s hard and sad at the same time. And sadly, the church has all too often been to blame for much of this. But in actuality, its people who hurt people, even if it happened in a church setting or in the name of religion it’s still people, sometimes called “flesh” that wounded them. We need to see a bigger picture of what’s going on here. Our battle is not with flesh, by the way. What we are battling are forces of darkness in the spirit realm.

These dark spirits are whispering things into the ears of people who have been hurt and in effect, prodding them into agreement with thoughts of punishment and vindication toward those who hurt them. These thoughts don’t originate in the person but they may very well sound like their own voice. They are not. These are the strongholds that are mentioned in 2 Cor 10: 3-5. We need to pull them down and not come into agreement anymore.

I have found that it’s not always the church that causes these things. Sometimes people are broken and hurt because of bad choices they’ve made along the way and now they don’t even know the truth anymore. And other times WE are the broken ones. I believe that because of this we have an affinity with other broken people. Heck, we are their champions sometimes because it’s validation for our own brokenness.

Often when people are wounded, it wasn’t the intent of the person inflicting the pain to cause harm; no, they’re usually doing things with the best intentions in mind.  Maybe it’s not the way you would have done things, and maybe you would have treated people better, but maybe not. We all fail from time to time and people get hurt, it happens every day.

However the hurting came about, it all stems from one thing; continuation of wrong belief about one’s self and coming into agreement with what has been spoken over them, whether it was intended or otherwise. These wrong beliefs are not who they/we are.

Most people don’t admit to actually believing the curses spoken over them or the sense of worthlessness they feel about themselves, audibly or even on a conscious level, but they are the thoughts that are entertained day in and day out. I imagine that much of the inner thought life of most broken and hurt people are simply tapes of every bad thing that has ever been spoken over them. I know that’s been the case for me in the past; I assumed it must be true.

So how do we help someone who is broken and wounded? We show compassion for what happened but then show them how Jesus sees them.

One of the problems in dealing with wanting to show compassion to those dealing with broken and wounded people is that we aren’t always sure how to do so because we don’t want to cause more pain.  I mean, they are already hurting right? So what ends up happening quite often is that in order to avoid causing more pain, we get down in the hole with them and begin to commiserate with all the pain and suffering they are going through. We begin to agree with the accusations that come about the person who caused the pain to begin with. And then we call it compassion. It’s not.

I sometimes feel that when we spend so much time looking at the problem, i.e. the woundedness and brokenness, that we become accusers and may not even realize it. How often do we find ourselves in a stance of accusation?  There is only one accuser and it’s not us, or at least it’s not supposed to be! That is the identity of a victim. Yes bad things happen to people all the time but it doesn’t change who we are.

When we behave this way, it’s as if we’re saying, or acting as if Jesus has left us all alone, He doesn’t seem to care about us or them and then from that wrong belief, we come into agreement with the lies that started all the brokenness in the first place.  We start to believe they are true.

Simply loving someone where they are is what really needs to happen. But if loving them turns in to agreeing with the victimhood aka that their identity is what has happened to them, well we really aren’t helping at all.

While this can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, did you know that there is another way to see these things, that there are things going on that can’t be seen with our natural eyes?

The answer to all this isn’t to keep speaking about and focusing on how so many people are broken and hurt. Of course I’m not saying that people aren’t hurt, that’s just silly, of course they are. No, the answer lies more in what question we’re asking. Why do we ask why, or why do we feel the need to even ask? Who are we accusing of this really? And what does it say about our relationship with Jesus when all we do is ask why and focus on what we don’t see with our natural eyes? What does it say about us if we need a scapegoat for all that is wrong with people?

The answer lies in knowing that we are loved. When we truly know this and trust Him, we will stop believing those lies that try and define us differently than who we actually are. Then the need for answers to wrong questions will stop. And maybe, just maybe we will begin to ask real questions! Questions like, what can I do to help bring healing to a situation, how can I show ‘them’ that Jesus loves them so much and open their eyes to the fact that those things that have happened to or have been spoken over them don’t define who they are; especially if they stop agreeing with it!

Let’s introduce those who are hurting and wounded to the Jesus who’s so in love with them that He’s already laid down His life for them. All we have to do is love and open our ears, for He will whisper the words they are longing to hear and we get to speak them! How cool is that? He already has a plan for us all and it is good.

For me, the thing to remember is this:  Jesus is still pursuing them. Even now He’s wooing them back to wholeness, even if they don’t know it. No one is exempt from His love. He will have His way; just you wait and see. Keep loving them even when other’s around us don’t and we will see Him win every time, for He’s as close as we will allow. He really is tangibly right here, right now! Let Him have His way. And feel honored to be the one to show this unfailing love to someone else.

                                                                 The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me 

                                                                 because God anointed me.

                                                                 He sent me to preach good news to the poor,

                                                                  heal the heartbroken,

                                                                  announce freedom to all captives

                                                                  (and) pardon all prisoners.

Love wins

Honoring Mothers

Mother's day post

Mother’s Day is on May 10th this year and that makes it less than a month away. I have to find a victim, quick! No, really. Let me explain…….

My mother passed away 6 years ago and because she has gone on, it doesn’t exempt me from honoring mothers all around me. There are single mothers who need encouraging, spiritual mothers who need honoring, sisters who have forgotten how awesome they truly are or maybe you’re a mother to orphans who simply needs someone to listen to what has happened in your day. The need is greater than we know.

I’ve heard it said that Mother’s Day is only a ‘Hallmark’ holiday and it doesn’t really matter that much but this couldn’t be further from the truth! It matters a lot. No, it doesn’t matter how the world celebrates or even doesn’t celebrate; WE are of a different kingdom and we know how important mother’s are, right?!

Mothers are the very first teachers we have and they impart so much with their time, their love and their wisdom. Mothers are our first confidants and the first ones we run too when we are little. Remember those mashed up flowers we grabbed with our tiny little hands just so we could present them to our mommy’s? Remember how she kissed our owie’s away and everything was all better?

And when we are older and our relationships with our mothers were more than a little strained because WE knew absolutely everything and she was only trying to keep us from all that WE knew we could do. Right…..even those days she was there; washing our sheets, making us meals and even praying for our safety and for wisdom to ‘please dear God’ land on us! I know I wasn’t the easiest daughter to raise; maybe not the worst but in hind sight, I could have honored her more.

But this is not about regrets! NOPE. This is about loving and honoring the women who have raised us and mentored us. It’s also about those we came to depend on in our time of need. Let’s not let an opportunity pass to honor these great women. And you do realize,  whether a woman believes in Jesus like we do or not has nothing to do with it at the end of the day. Jesus knows her and He loves her well. We should also.

So, my challenge to you is this…….

Find someone to honor and celebrate extravagantly this year. Take them to dinner, send them something in the mail, go clean their house or buy them flowers. And most importantly, tell them how much they’ve meant to you, how they’ve spoken into your life. How awesome they are!

And then, come back and share the testimony of how blessed they were by your kindness!

This is a picture of my mom when I was 8.

Mom pic