Love {2.14.17}

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! I hope you are giving and receiving love on this day and every day. It’s hard not to think of love this time of year in our part of the world isn’t it? We are bombarded with suggested gifts for our loved ones. flowers I was in our neighborhood grocery store yesterday and before I even got into the store, the “in between area of carts” was FULL (I mean full) of flowers! It was beautiful! There was hardly room to get in the door. Our retailers help remind us all to give up some cash and show someone we love them. It’s not all about cash though. There are many things we can do and say to show our love. We can get creative and think like a child. They usually know what it’s all about.

I have felt God calling me to write a message on love for this Valentine’s Day and I actually typed one up yesterday but never could get it finished. It just didn’t seem “right” somehow. This morning I realized why. God gave me a message as only He can.

I checked Facebook to see how a friend is recovering from her surgery. Praise God she is doing well. While I was in Facebook I saw a post from another friend. It was a prayer request for a dear friend of hers who is waiting for a transplant. Then it hit me – right in the heart. You see I had a dear friend years ago who was also waiting for a transplant. It’s a terrible time of mixed emotions. You want the transplant because it will give the person needing it hope for continued life here on earth. However, you realize that in order for them to live, someone else must die. We don’t wish death on anyone (or at least we shouldn’t) so that’s a hard thing to wrap our heads and hearts around. Usually the person dies of illness or accident. While that’s a tragic time in the life of their family, it brings hope to the one waiting the transplant. Hope and despair sometimes go hand in hand.

There was another though who died so that we could live. His death was no accident. It was caused by no illness. He willingly gave up His life out of love for The Father and love for all of us – ALL OF US. His name is Jesus. He suffered more than any of us will ever be able to truly imagine and He knew exactly what it would be like before going down that road. Now that is love – true love – sacrificial love – pure love – everlasting love.god-is-love

“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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:16-21)

We all seek love. Millions of songs, poems, books, movies, etc. are centered on love. We all want to be loved and to love. But this Valentine’s Day, let’s remember where love started in the first place.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

spread-loveToday it seems like we see a lot of hate in our world rather than love. Don’t you wonder what would happen if we turned that hate around by loving others? Let’s give it a try. It’s possible even to love our enemies when we have God in our hearts. We can make the world a better place – one person at a time. Like the song says, “Love is all we need.” Let’s share it.

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-38)

Desires of the Heart {2.3.17}

Recently a teenager asked me this question: “What did you want to be when you grew up”? I didn’t have to think twice. My answer: “A wife and mother with a large family.” I think he was surprised by my answer, as many others might be as well. But, I never was career minded. I never had a desire to climb a corporate ladder or be famous. I didn’t even desire college. Somehow I just knew as a teenager that I wanted to be a wife and mother, the best I could. I had some good role models in my family. Of course, getting a baby sister at age 13 may have influenced my decision. I did work out of the home though for over 40 years and still fill in from time to time at my last job. I am thankful that God led me to that job which lasted 18 years and was what I considered perfect for me. How that all came about is another story for another day but God always wants to lead us. Sometimes we are just hesitant to follow (speaking to myself here).

Back to the story at hand…After I was asked that question this scripture came to mind, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) I have been thinking about that ever since. I didn’t “know” God or have faith in Jesus until my children were in double digit ages, unfortunately for them and me (I could have made much better choices). So I didn’t come across this scripture until many years later. I have thought about it often since becoming a Christian but until recently didn’t put all the pieces of my life together (hindsight is 20/20 they say).

As I have been looking back, I realize that God did give me the desires of my heart. Even before I knew Him, He had a plan for me. Of course, my choices got in the way many times but He was always there – waiting for me. I am so thankful that my eyes were finally opened and I was able to see my need for a savior. WOW – life changing. Joyful in the midst of trials (who would have thought that possible?). My desire for a large family had one view (mine). God’s view was quite different. As I pondered this I realized that my family has been and continues to be much, much larger than I imagined.

psalm-37-4The thing is, I always wanted a large family. But, in my mind I had a picture of what that would look like. Lots of kids, all loving each other (never fighting of course); great family gatherings (which we have had), all making positive choices in life (don’t we wish), etc. Funny how life doesn’t turn out like we imagine. I do have a large family by today’s standards. But like every other family, there are struggles. We are told in scripture to expect trouble. We sometimes make bad choices which bring consequences. There is sin in the world and we are all affected by it in one way or another. It’s a constant battle. But, the hard times help us grow and appreciate the good times.

Over the years we have had other children live with us for short periods of time. We’ve had our own children come home now and then for various reasons. We’ve had grandchildren live with us off and on over the years. In the past few years we’ve hosted foster children in our home. Some have come for days and some for weeks but we have had the blessing of touching many young lives with the love of God.

So…I guess all this to say – take a look at your life. Maybe God has given you the desires of your heart and you just haven’t realized it because it doesn’t look like you imagined. Remember, His ways are higher and what He can do in and through you is far greater than what you can imagine or do on your own because… our ways are not His ways and our thoughts are not His thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9) but He has a good plan for our lives. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Do you have the desires of your heart? If not, maybe the first part of this scripture is missing.