Monthly Archives: July 2012

What I Know About Love

Here’s what I know about love: not much!

All my life, I have longed for love. Since my dad wasn’t around, I always thought I wasn’t good enough to be loved. Love is a tough subject, it can be hard to discuss or to even think about. But I’m going to risk it.

Growing up, I always heard that “everyone loves in their own way.” As I got older, that turned in to, “everyone loves in their own way, but you don’t have to accept it.” While I agree that everyone does love in their own way (hence the five love languages) I have come to realize that I do not so much agree with the thought that you don’t have to accept it. That’s like saying, “I know my kids love me, but I don’t like the way they love me, so I’m not going to accept their love.” – that sounds totally absurd!! But we (people in general) do that to others on a regular basis. To say that you shouldn’t accept the love of others if it’s not the way you want it seems absolutely absurd to me. It seems like you’d be missing out on a whole lot of love and friendship.

It wasn’t until recently that I came to understand the truth of unconditional love. I have always been afraid of love, while at the same time craving it, because I was also afraid of rejection. But unconditional love, that’s a whole different thing. Unconditional love says that He’ll still love me even when I mess up…when I mess up bad!!

You see, you can’t expect other people to love you the way you want them to, but you can expect them to love you the only way they know how. My husband and I speak two different love languages, and once I realized that and began to accept that he doesn’t show his love the way I want to see it, I became happier. I became less bitter. I became less resentful. Too often we say that there is something wrong with the other person, but how often do we step back and even consider that it might be us?

If we changed our perspective, things would look a whole lot different. So before you decide that someone doesn’t love you, ask yourself: Am I expecting them to love me how I want to be loved or am I letting them love me the only way they know how?

1 Corinthians 13:4-13 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Sunshine and Hope

I woke up this morning feeling pretty crummy. I’ve been exhausted and missing Robert. I wanted to take the girls to the park today, but with the gloomy weather and the wet ground, I decided against it.

So we went upstairs to play. I laid down on the girls’ bedroom floor and played legos with them. Oh how these girls love to build. It brings me so much joy to see how much they enjoy legos considering how much I enjoyed them as a kid (and secretly still do).

But as I was laying on the floor, feeling like dirt, I rolled over and looked out the window. This sight I saw was breathtaking. What had moments before been a cloudy, gloomy sky turned into a sky filled with light and hope. The sun was breaking through between two clouds…light was winning over the darkness.

I am so thankful that God gave me that scene to look at. God knew exactly what would lift my spirits this morning and He delighted in giving me that. He keeps me on my toes a lot of the time, wondering what’s next, but this morning He reminded me that sometimes I just need to be still and bask in His presence.

God’s love never ceases to amaze me. When I’m feeling down and alone, He reminds me through small gestures, that He loves me and cherishes me.

God is good!!!

Faith and Works

Have I mentioned lately how much I absolutely love my church, lol. Recently, I’ve begun assisting with teaching the 5th/6th grade sunday school at my church. I wasn’t sure when I began, how much I would like it or how good I would be at it. But doing it has been such a blessing in my life.

We’ve been learning about the history of ancient Israel. Which for me, is something very exciting becuase I don’t know a whole lot about it. Today, we learned about the flood and the tower of Babel. But after the lesson, what we discussed was about faith and works.

We are saved by grace, through faith, but true faith leads to works. I love when it is put like that, because for too long I thought that if God is real, I had to be good for Him to love me. I thought that my works were saved me, but I’ve come to realize that, that is a gross misconception.

Hebrews 11:1-3 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of  things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by  the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of  things that are visible

I like the definition of faith in this passage, the assurance of things hoped for. Because I my faith, I know that I have been saved by grace and that even thoguh I cannot physically see God, He is delights in giving me the things that I hope for. How amazing is it that we serve an amazing God who delights in making us happy. I’m in awe most of the time.

Hebrews 11:6-7 – And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God  must believe that he exists and  that he rewards those who seek him. By faith  Noah, being warned by God concerning  events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of  the righteousness that comes by faith.

One of the questions we asked the kids was, “why is faith needed?” Verse 6 pretty much tells us flat out why we need it. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. If I don’t have faith that God exists and that He loves me and wants me to draw near to Him, then what good is faith? I think we often can use the term faith too lightly and sometimes the word can lose it’s full effect. When I first because a Christian I didn’t understand the different in faith and trust. I remember saying, “I have faith in God, but I don’t know if I really trust Him.” Now I see just how flawed that logic really was. You can’t have faith if you don’t trust.

James 2:14-16 – What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith  but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what goodis that?

I think verse 14 can be really misleading. If someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? At first glance, it almost seems like it’s saying that you must have faith and works to be saved. But that is not at all what that means. It means that if your faith doesn’t transform you and lead to works, then it is not a faith that will save you.

I love the reminder that it is not my works that will save me, but my faith. I often find myself in a cycle of sin, thinking that God won’t want me unless I act better. But then I get reminded that God wants me regardless of my sin because, because of Jesus my sins have been cleaned. When God looks at me, He doesn’t see what I see, He sees a beloved daughter, who He cherishes and loves.

I love how God has changed my heart and transformed my soul. Where I used to be selfish and stingy, I am now giving and generous. I enjoy giving to others, what God has given to me. That’s faith. Works of faith don’t mean you read your Bible and hate it, you give with reluctance, you pray but don’t mean it. Works of faith means that you are motivated by God’s love and grace for you to draw closer to Him and share His love with others.

That’s Why it’s Called Grace

Redemption is an amazing thing. To have the sin, guilt, and shame of my past removed and loved regardless of any of that…it still blows me away

That’s Why It’s Called Grace
The story I want to tell you
Is all about redemption
About how God can take the things
That we’re afraid to mention
If you’re anything like me
You bottle up your secrets
You think you can deny it
If no one could see it
But I’ve learned a long, hard lesson
That, that’s not the way it works
Just because you say it doesn’t
Doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt
I found a lot of ways to hide
What was breaking my heart
But the things that I would hide in
Only ripped me more apart

It’s like the story of the woman
Jesus met at the well
It’s a story that many of us
Know all too well
She didn’t understand
Why Jesus would speak to her
Most saw her as unclean
But He touched her with His words
She knew her life was sinful
And tried to conceal the truth
But she quickly learned
That He already knew
And He offered her a gift
This thing called “living water”
And that’s when Jesus told her
“I am the Messiah, your Savior.”
Jesus loved her enough
To confront her with her sins
He kindled hope in her
And she lifted her chin
Jesus took her shame
And He offered her love
The kind that can only come
From the One up above

You see, I’ve lived this story
From beginning to end
I was the woman
Who couldn’t understand
Why Jesus would want
Anything to do with me
But that’s when I met Him
Where I was redeemed
I cried, “Why do you want me?
I can bring nothing to this place.”
His response was breathtaking
“That’s why it’s called grace.”

It Has Been Covered

I shared a poem this eveing with my Celebrate Recovery family. I love this group of people so much. CR will forever have a place in my heart and I feel so blessed to be able to be a part of it. I have encountered more love, support, encouragement, mercy, and grace by this one group of people in the last 8 months than I think I have in the reast of my life. Thank God for Celebrate Recovery.

It Has Been Covered
She sheltered her life
In the rags of her shame
And the guilt that she felt
Said she was to blame
She listened to voices
That told her “you’re worthless”
Not knowing, to Him
She’s precious, she’s priceless
So she kept on running
Afraid to face the hurt
All the time, not knowing
This guilt wasn’t hers
She gave up her body
Hoping for love in return
But when love didn’t happen
She was left broken and burned
She’d reached her breaking point
She thought her life was over
But that’s when her Savior
Said, “Your sin is covered,
Child, you’re precious,
Just look at the Father
He doesn’t make junk
And He made you His daughter.”

He left his wife and his kids
Stranded and alone
And after that moment
They never knew a “home”
He regretted his past
Thought they’d be better without him
But his choice caused a wound
That he silenced with gin
Years passed and kids grow
He missed every moment
First steps, first date, first loves and heartbreaks
He just couldn’t take it
He knew he’d messed up
But too much time had passed
Although he knew their hearts were broken
He just couldn’t go back
At the end of a bottle
He decided, “It’s over”
But that’s when his Savior
Said, “Your sin is covered,
Go home to your family,
Your daughters, they need you
Just as you still love them,
So your Father loves too.”

The moral of the story:
Is it’s never too late
To turn from your sin
And let go of the shame
God offers salvation
He forgives every sin
Because of Jesus’ blood
God’s inviting you in
You may think you’re too broken
That you’ve fallen too far
But I guarantee that He’ll save you
Just lift up your eyes and hold out your arms
Hold on tight to the promise
That He won’t let you go
Pray for His truth everyday
And the gift of His hope
When you can’t go on, can’t take another step
And you think it is over
Just remember God’s love, His mercy and grace
Jesus will tell you, “Your sins have been covered.”

What Children Need

I’ve felt a weird distance between God and myself lately…and I don’t like it!! I know it is me, not God, because He’s promised that He will never leave my side. I know why the distance is there, what I’ve done to create it, but what I haven’t been able to figure out is how to draw closer to Him again.

Until tonight.

I attend an AMAZING church. I came in tonight with a lot my mind, my thoughts scattered, and trying to get myself focused on the wonderful worship going on around me…and with the beginning of the first song, the hardness in my heart melted away and God opened me up to fully praise Him, the way He should be praised, and to listen to and receive His Word with full attention.

So this blog entry is about how this single sermon changed something inside of me. Dave, I’m sorry if I steal quotes from your sermon 😉

The sermon was titled “What Children Need” and it came from Proverbs. When our pastor introduced the sermon I thought, “haha, that’s kind of ironic, parenting is where I’m struggling. God works in funny ways sometimes.” But just like God always does, He uses something intended to teach me about my relationship with someone/something else and teaches me about my relationship with Him.

Proverbs 29:15-18 – The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself  brings shame to his mother. When the wicked increase, transgression increases, but the righteous will look upon their downfall. Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Discipline is a scary topic for me. I’m afraid of it – not of receiving it, but of giving it. But children need discipline and delight. Discipline without delight makes a child feel rejected and unloved (I know this one from experience). But delight without discipline leaves a child lost in a world with no boundaries. I mean, think about it, if you don’t discipline a toddler/young kid now because you think they’re just too cute/free-spirited/whatever your excuse, what makes you think it’ll get easier as they get older. I love my children, that’s why I need to discipline them. I need to teach them and show them about the world. I need to teach what they can and cannot do. If they don’t learn that it’s dangerous to run out in front of a moving vehicle, what’s going to stop them from doing it?

But in teaching children about dangers in the world, I need to be careful not to make them fearful. Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. My children also need boldness and caution. They need to know the dangers of the world, but they also need to know that they can, prayerfully, take the right safety precautions and face those dangers head on. Life is hard. We love in a broken world. But God is good and God will make straight their paths if they walk with Him. If they walk with Him, He will help them to navigate this scary world. I want to give my children a boldness that tells them that, with God, they can do anything, for nothing is impossible with God. The end goal of parenting is to move my children from dependence on me, to dependence on the Lord.

Children also need holiness and mission. As a parent, I need to protect my children and remind them that God wants to make them holy as He is holy. But God also wants them to be going out and inviting others in to the amazing celebration that happens when you follow Jesus. Be generous. Help those who are stumbling or hurting.

It’s my job to discipline my kids, but I need to pray for guidance. Ultimately, what my kids need is Jesus. God uses parents as the primary vessel to bring Jesus to children. I need to make sure my kids realize that I can’t do this on my own. I can’t do anything without Jesus.

So here is where I also learned something about my relationship with God: I am a child of God and He loves me with an unconditional love that I cannot fathom. But being that I am a child of God, I need realize that He disciplines those He loves. God’s discipline is an amazing guiding tool. God wants what is best for me, and He knows a lot better than I do what that is. If God disciplines me because I am going down the wrong path or doing something dangerous to my soul, I need to follow His guidance and turn from whatever I’m doing. God delights in me. God tells me that I don’t need to be afraid because He is with me and He will strengthen me. But He also says, Deuteronomy 6:16 – You shall not put the LORD your God to the test. God wants me to be holy as He is holy. He wants me to be separate and different from others. But He also wants me to be sharing His love with others. My theory: once you’ve felt the full force of God’s love, mercy, and grace, you physically CAN’T keep it to yourself.

But back to my distance from God for the past week or so. I’ve had family in town and been preparing for Robert to leave for a school a few weeks. I think that it is largely in part of these two factors (a few smaller ones may be included though) that I’ve started to turn back to the thought that I can do things with Him. When things get hard, my natural human instinct is to run and hide from the world and lock everyone out. But God tells me that I need to pray. Philippians 4:6 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done (I really love how the NLT words this verse).

The moral of my story: We are God’s children and He will discipline us as such. He will never abandon or forsake me. God is always there. Even when I stray, He still forgives me and welcomes me back with open arms…that’s the beauty of grace!

Who Am I

In my life, I have pretended to be someone on countless occasions so that people would like me. I have struggled with trying to find out who I am. I’ve spent most of my life looking for my identity. But I was reminded of it this morning.

John 1:1-5 –In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

So who am I? Who are you? We are creations whom He loves. Psalm 33:13-15 – From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth-He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.

I became a Christian in November 2011. My life changed when I searched for and found my biological father. When I began talking to him, he started telling me about a God who loved me so much that He sent His Son to die for me. Until that point, unconditional love seemed unreal. I didn’t understand how anyone, especially the God of the universe, could love me unconditionally.

Before I understood God’s love, mercy, and grace, I didn’t understand much of anything. I faked my way through life with pretend smiles and made up personalities. Because I wore a mask for so long, now I don’t know who I am. Removing the masks is terrifying because I don’t know who’s under there. But removing the masks is something I have to do to let God mold me into who He made me to be.

So who am I? The honest answer is that I have no clue. But what I do know is that I am the daughter of a King. I was made and am loved by an amazing God and as long as I know that, everything else will work out.

I am still in awe that just eight months ago, I didn’t know who I was and I was destroying myself and my life to figure it out. I wore so many different masks and told so many different lies that I couldn’t remember who I was anymore. Removing the masks is painful, unless you’ve ever done it yourself, you have no clue what an emotional struggle this is. But with God’s help, I can remove the masks and begin to learn who I am in Him instead of who I am in the world.

Back to John 1:3. Through Him all things were made. If I forget who made me, who molded me, who loved me before I was born, then I am forgetting who am and I am forgetting what my sole purpose on this earth is.

When people talk about who I am, I want them to know that I am only who I am because of the love, grace, and mercy shown to me by our wonderful God. I can only love because I am loved. I can only give because God has given to me.

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