He is Risen Indeed.

THIS Easter, I think I feel a NEW depth of what Christ has done for me, in His incredible act of love on the cross.

The weather has been beautiful these past few weeks…really gorgeous weather…there is new life springing up all around us…such beautiful flowers…beautiful blossoms.  I am asking Him for NEW LIFE through Him this Easter…recognizing HIS love in dying for someone who did not love him, but who now bears His righteousness as His child because of this great act of love.  He brings beauty forth in New Life.

The kids and I did a simple lesson on Good Friday this year…I felt it really hit home for all of us this year.  We made a lego garden and prayed…fell asleep…and prayed…fell asleep…and prayed again.  Lewis commented that he would not have fallen asleep the 3rd time on Jesus.. ;).  We took a bear and a lion, to represent Christ’s arresters, and taped Jesus to the cross, and talked about how much He must have loved us…each…to die for us even while we were still sinners.  They were really moved by this.  Hannah laid down on the kitchen floor after I put the cross magnet back up on the fridge…and told me she was sad, so we all decided to lay down together and pray and thank Him for His love.  It was a sad moment on Good Friday, but I was careful to explain the joy of Sunday to come!!!

We spent the rest of the day picnicking yesterday and today, hiking at Weston State Park and eating at O’Malley’s Irish Pub Restaurant, one of our favorite places.  The sun was beautiful, shining down on our faces and we crossed paths with other believers celebrating the joy of Easter.

Really, I cannot fathom the sacrifice that Jesus made for me.  This past week, Emma was sick and teething and very upset–she was unable to eat or sleep much throughout the week.  She alone was a handful for me to bear.  I am thankful for all the ways God provided for me.  I am thankful she ate for the first time again yesterday.  I am left at the end of the week feeling well acquainted with my own weakness.  To think He went to the cross, not just out of obedience, but out of JOY, and LOVE, and DESIRE for me to be saved…is more than I can fathom.  This is LOVE.

I long, more than anything else, for my family and I to love God and others the way that Christ has loved us.  Only by His grace can this dream come true.

Happy Easter 2014.  May His love guide you and enable you.

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LOVE.

The Lord is showing me how to LOVE.  He is showing me that each and every family, town, state, country, and race of people have a different language and different ways of receiving LOVE.  I must learn their language, learn about THEM, and ask for wisdom in how to LOVE them.  This is true no matter where I go and who I meet.  It amazes me that I don’t have to go to a different country to learn a different language or learn about different ways of loving….even within my own native tongue, there are so many ways of speaking and relating.

I long to learn how to love as God loves.  I long to be those hands and feet of Jesus….to learn from Him how to love–first my family, and then all those people God brings into my life.

Let us love DEEPLY and CONSISTENTLY….from the overflow of His love to us.

Maturity in Faith

The Lord has gently impressed upon my heart different levels of maturity in faith.  He takes us on the next level when He feels we are ready.  Our hearts have to be willing and ready.  He never forces us.  I love that.  Our love is a gift to Him.  And that is what He truly wants.  I feel like I am about at the level of a toddler spiritually!  I think I am past the infant spiritual milk.  The constant needing of miracles…immediate answers to prayer…to be told how much He loves me…making demands, getting frustrated when He does things I don’t like or understand…etc  I WANT to be past this!  Sometimes, perhaps I return…but mostly I am in the toddler spiritual phase of distraction.  He distracts me oftentimes from the things I really want…by giving me glimpses of hope here and there…but holding out on fulfilling them in their entirety.  Granted, I always have the hope of my salvation, but I get my heart set on other things…Godly things…that He doesn’t have planned just yet for us.  He is teaching me the discipline of waiting…and the discipline of the mind.  I am so thankful.  But, it isn’t easy.  I WANT to be ready to move on to the next level.  I am wondering though….what does the teenage spiritual phase look like?  Yikes!

To give a tangible example of my level of faith compared to where He wants me…the other day, I woke up feeling a bit unloved…I don’t know how this is possible to start out a morning like that after sleeping all night, but perhaps I had a few bad dreams..I don’t know!  I prayed that the Lord show me His love for me that day…wondering what He would have planned for me to show His extravagant love to me….feeling warmer already…BUT, God showed me…indeed…I am ready to move on to a more mature level of faith.  I heard on a radio broadcast that morning, upon entering my car to make our rounds for that day around post, a pastor, telling his audience: “Why do we ask God to show us how much He loves us? It is CLEAR how much He loves us; He showed us by having His only son die for our sins so we can spend eternity with Him in heaven, He shows us over and over in His Word, He displays His love for us in His creation everyday, He shows us His love for us all the time….the real question is not How much He loves us, but, How much do we love Him?”  Ouch.  So true.  I snapped out of it that day and set about being confident in His love for me and seeking to show Him my love for Him…through all the different ways I can show Him my sincere love.

The Love of a Father

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)”

In order to love others fully, we must know how deeply and everlasting our Father loves us.  There are so many aspects of His love…and when I dwell on all the ways He has loved me, is loving me, and will love me…love starts pouring out of me to others.  When I don’t feel loved, it is so hard to love.  I am starting to see that my ability to love others doesn’t really have to do with the particular people…but rather how much I feel loved by the Father in that particular moment.  May I know how deeply, fully, and everlasting His love is…so that I might POUR out His love to everyone He brings into my life.  They are worthy of His love…we are fearfully and wonderfully made by our loving Father in Heaven.

Beautiful encouragement…

THIS is my most favorite passage in the Word right now:

Zephaniah: 3:17:

The Lord your God is with you,

he is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

he will quiet you with his love,

he will rejoice over you with singing.”

—-

What more could I ask of Him?  How much more intimate could He be to me?  He is with me, walking with me throughout trials and tribulations, hand in hand; He saves me from anything that may try to take me away from Him, He DELIGHTS in me!!!; He quiets me with His love (those are just the most beautiful words ever); and He rejoices over me with singing!!!

THIS is the God I love, the God I fear with awesome wonder and amazement.  This is the God I am coming to know and serve.  I cannot believe that He would love me so, no matter how unfaithful I might be.  What a incredible God He is to all.

 

Loving Extravagantly

God is calling me to love extravagantly and tenaciously…no matter what.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to do this…it involves a lot of things that are so hard for my sinful heart to do…pretty much everything in 1 Corinthians 13.  It is impossible to give this kind of love without Jesus, because this is the Father’s love and we get the Father’s love through Jesus (“I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me”).

What I am finding lately is that if I love this way, it will always open me up to rejection.  This is the rejection of the Lord–He loves us so fully and wholly and we constantly reject Him and His ways.  Only through His grace, can I find help to face this kind of rejection.  The Lord is familiar with it…a God of comfort and compassion…a God who can relate.  He was perfect in love and rejected by the world and His own followers.  Feeling rejection helps me identify with the Lord (as long as the rejection is coming from doing what God wants me to do and not my silly own ways!), and only He can help me overcome it without feeling a desire to retreat or a desire to fight back or become passive or despondant…so many wrong ways to respond to rejection…and through Jesus’ example–total forgiveness and undying love–can I be free from the pain of rejection and be able to continue to love with the Father’s love.

More of Him…and less of me…this will help me overcome anything….it will be HIM overcoming!!!

Valentine’s Day ideas

There are SO many aspects of God’s love to focus on…that I really didn’t know where to start this Valentine’s Day.  I love that though!  There isn’t any one way to display it or appreciate it!  I love differences in expression and understanding and always love hearing how different people perceive things.  It broadens my horizons and blesses me to be around other ideas and understanding and personalities.  It truly is a reflection of God’s incredible creativity!!!  I love that about Him!

This Valentine’s Day, I tried to focus on being still to sense God’s love for me throughout the week…and also sense His prompting in different ways I could show His love to other people, as the opportunity provided itself. 

I was BLESSED SOOO MUCH by other people…even today as my car battery was dead, as I went to leave the house with the kids all loaded up (I have to watch that light in the back where the kids are that it is turned OFF)…my neighbor left her house immediately with her kids…despite other things that she certainly had planned to do…and also not feeling very well…to drive me and the kids to where we wanted (not even needed) to go that day.  I was blessed so much by her love for us…she totally MADE my day!!!  And then my husband drove back from the field to jump my car…in which he focused very hard on giving me hands-on training…but stopped when I almost electrocuted myself by putting the two clipper things accidentally together (with sparks flying) while talking to him (don’t do that!!!).  Wow.  All I have to say is that he is amazing and I am NEVER doing that on my own…EVER!!! 

That was just one day of so many blessings…sweet encouragement and beautifully penetrating words from friends…lots of time to chat with other women while our children played (so nicely together I might add!).  Lovely time with my husband with babysitters and a date…and sweet cards and gifts from family.  The kids had a blast!  And so did we!

My focus with the home was putting hearts around the house in different ways and places and labeling them with different characteristics of the 1 Corinthians 13 love paragraph.  Also, decorating separate hearts that were labeled with our favorite ways God has loved us recently.  And finally, labeling my kids doors with hearts and qualities that I love the most about them right now.  Hannah was joy 🙂  (She is either weepy, or super joyful right now!)  And Lewis was strength and being helpful.  He is so strong, especially when he gets hurt or gets sick (unless it is a very long sickness…and then he loses heart at some point!) and thinks a lot about being strong.  He also helps me all the time in the house, with things I couldn’t imagine a 3 year old could do…like separating the laundry, putting the laundry from the washer to the dryer, taking out (little) trash bags, bringing in the groceries, helping keep his sissy safe and helping mommy remember where sissy is…., helping me water the plants, helping me clean the floor…he even tried to carry the laundry basket, full of clothes up the stairs…he is a boy who delights in relationship and loves to be with me and help me in every way.  And he is so responsible!  I am so glad I have a child who is because he REALLY keeps me on my toes!  I am so thankful for my kids.  This past year and a half has really been a time to FOCUS on my family.  And God has blessed that time immeasurably.  I am most thankful.

I love to give out cards with the candy for the kids and moms around the neighborhood, and this year it actually worked to do that!  It is really fun to spread God’s love to others…especially when the opportunity provides itself.  We had a blast…and the kids had a blast sucking on their lollipops too.  My 3 year old is starting to understand the importance of giving things to others and helping others…and it is beautiful to see.  But, for right now, it works only after he has had his own lollipop to suck on first!!!  🙂  I LOVE his heart to help others and put their needs above his own.  He really tries his best!  His transparency, honesty and deep love for others is so wonderful.  He is very concientious and I can see his own desires battling within him.  He really is light years beyond where I was…and am sometimes now too!

I look forward to seeing God’s plan develop and grow each year for Valentine’s Day and each day of the year in how to receive His love and show His love to other people.  I really feel, right now, that showing God’s love to others is doing the best I can in each moment to do His will in living out His design in His Word to love others.  One moment, it may be giving a listening ear…another moment, it may be not sinning against someone (!), another moment it may be lavishing love on someone in some extravagant way…and so on.  Each moment holds its own opportunity for loving God or others.  Every single moment holds that opportunity.  Over the years, I know I will grow in my ability to love God and others.  I am looking foward to understanding His unfathomable love and receiving it more, so I can pour out more to others.