love

Loving Even When It’s Hard

There is a time in every relationship when it is easy to love someone else, whether it’s a friend, a family member, or a spouse.  Loving another gets put to the test, when it is no longer about relying on the feeling of loving someone but loving someone in spite of how they make us feel. 

Loviing when it's hard

When, not if, you find yourself in this situation, remember a few things:

1. Believe that truth outweighs your feelings.

The devil loves to make us think our feelings are more valid than the truth.  He will fan the flame of our hurts and try to get us thinking that we are justified in how we feel.  Even if someone has deliberately hurt us and brought us to the brink of emotional turmoil, we should not let our feelings dictate our actions.

Christ says to pray for those who mistreat you, not to give them what they deserve.  Oh, if we received what we deserved, salvation and redemption would not even be available to us!

When those feelings of hurt overtake us and all we can see is their wrong, stop and pray for them.  Beg God to give you Jesus’ perspective and see that person through his eyes.  Ask him to soften your heart so that God can be glorified.

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Luke 6:27

2. React and talk to that person like you are dealing with one of God’s children.

I love the analogy that Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, used in a video series I watched several years ago.  It has forever stuck with me.  If you are having a moment of intense fellowship with your spouse (or someone else), picture Jesus standing right behind them.  Take a breath then continue talking to that person like you are talking to Jesus.

Well, the same should be true for the child of God standing in front of you.  S/he is created in God’s image and is precious in his sight…even when you feel hurt by him or her.  If we keep our focus on Jesus and act like we are speaking to him during these heated conversations, the end result will bring us closer to God and to each other.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right had, I will not be shaken.
Psalms 16:8

3. Remember love is an action word that is not dependent on others actions.

Ouch!  This is one of the hardest lessons for my kids…and myself to learn.  What about you?  How many times has this phrase (or something similar) flown out of our mouths:

“Just because someone treats you badly, doesn’t mean you should treat them badly.”

or

“Did you treat ___, like you would want to be treated?”

showing God's love

I, too, have to take that step back and remind myself that my love is dependent on God’s truth, which is everlasting and does not show favoritism.

Did you know we will show we are true children of God by showing our love to others, even when they mistreat us?  Just as God does! Remembering this when our emotions are high is vital.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Matthew 5:45

Being a visual person, 1 Corinthians 13 always helps me to see where my love needs more action and truth and less feeling.

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.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 

Prayer to take Loving Action

Is there something in this list that runs counter to your feelings.  If so, take some time to pray about it and ask the Holy Spirit to help strengthen your heart in truth instead of these feelings.

Oh, how amazingly patient you are with us, Lord.  Your love and grace are truly astounding.  With humble hearts, knowing that we are not perfect,we ask that you show us where we can love more and rely on our feelings less.  We thank you for being merciful with us as we mature in our relationship with you and seek your wisdom and truth above the wisdom of this age that tries to trigger our emotions into action.  May we stand on your truth and share your love with all we come in contact with.   In the One who is the living example of true love – Amen!

We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to slow down…breathe…remember God causes the sun to rise…and He loves you!
Be blessed! 

What real love looks like

It had been a very hard day. Actually there had been many hard days recently. I was worn out and exhausted but my son needed to talk to me. There has been many sleepless nights in our little home over the past year and a half as we tried to heal and move forward from life with an unsafe person.

My sweet boy had looked evil in the face and he was struggling to understand why God would let this happen if He really loved us. And as the months have gone by with (what seems to him) no answers to our prayers he has been asking some really big questions.

Real Love

When someone tells you that they love you but they keep hurting you it’s confusing. Doesn’t matter if you are in your 30s or barely into your teens.  Our painful experience had done more than damage our hearts … it has made us question God’s love for us.

My heart broke for my son that night because he was echoing the cries of my broken heart as well. I had spent many nights asking God why He allowed so much suffering in our lives.  I pulled my boy close and I opened my Bible and began to read.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 ESV

 

We began to talk about the person that had promised to love us but then hurt us.  We asked if he had been patient or kind and worked our way through the rest of the verse.  It was something that we had done many times before. While this person had promised to love, honor, protect and provide those words ended being empty promises. When held up to the light of the scripture the truth was clear.

 

I turned the pages to a different verse:

 

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8 ESV
God wants more for you
My sweet boy looked up at me and sighed. “So God does love us Mama? And {that other person} did not?”  The truth of God’s real love was beginning to take root in his heart. And through a few tears we share all the ways that God was all the things that we read in 1 Corinthians.

 

Sweet friend, I don’t know what you are facing today. But I want to encourage you to remember what real love looks like. Teach it to your children. And when something less than comes around, hold on to the truth that God wants more for you!

 

We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to slow down…breathe…remember God wants more for you!
Be blessed! 

Jesus: God’s Essence of Love

“For God so loved…”
John 3:16 NKJV

God so loved…

…so loved that He gave…

He gave of Himself, His only begotten Son Jesus.

Love, then, is embodied in Christ. For Jesus is the “express image of [God’s] essence.” (Hebrews 1:3 Received Greek Text)

Express image in Greek is charakter. Our English word character. It means the instrument (or person) used in engraving or carving, to cut into, also a stamp or impress, the figure stamped or exact copy.

Essence means substantial quality, nature, actual existence, substance, outward manifestation, etc.

Jesus essence love

Jesus is God’s real nature, His essence. The exact copy of God. All of God is embodied in Christ.

If God is love and Jesus is the embodiment of God, and if one is a believer, that Love resides in that one through the Holy Spirit. And each believer is then the extension of this great Love to others.

But it’s not always easy to love those who are unloving to us, is it? If “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 5:5 NKJV) then how do we not see other believers as vessels containing God’s Spirit, unless the snarling monster of self raises its ugly head? And then, our very unlovely and unloving side creeps out.

How can we love God and hate Him in other believers at the same time? Paul said to the church in Philippi, “Be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own. The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: He always had the nature of God.” (Philippians 2:3b-6a GNB)

But what about loving those who are not believers? The others who are rude, crude, and mean? Who vehemently disagree with us or who want to do us harm? Solomon said, “Those who have contempt for their neighbors are sinners.” (Proverbs 14:21a Voice)

The disciple John wrote, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love…and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:8 NKJV, 1 John 4:16b NKJV)

Jesus our example

Uh-oh! Not loving? Not abiding in God.

So, how do we know how to love? We look to Jesus as our pattern, our standard, our example. He told the disciples how to love, “Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends…Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 15:12b-13 Msg, John 13:35 NLT)

Do we really think about that commandment? Do we love others the same way Jesus loves them? And loves us?

May we continually abide in God and remember Paul’s exhortation, “Let all that you do be done with love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14 NKJV) For he says if we “didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever,” and we would be “worth nothing at all without love.” (1 Corinthians 13:3b TLB, 1 Corinthians 13:2b TLB)

“May the Lord bring you into an ever deeper
understanding of the love of God.”
(2 Thessalonians 3:5 TLB)

From His feet, Lynn

lynnmosher.com

Trust God’s Unfailing Love When Life is Hard

In a world of here today, gone tomorrow love doubting God’s unconditional love is easy. When people we love fail us, it is easy to wonder if God’s love will also fail.

Trust God's unfailing love

When my marriage suddenly and unexpectedly fell apart three years ago, I doubted God’s love. How could a God who loved me allow something so awful? As I struggled to believe in His unfailing love, even as I cried out in anger at God, He patiently led me down the road of rediscovering His Love.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

How amazing is that? NOTHING can separate us from God’s love. In the depths of darkness, trusting in that love makes all the difference in a life of despair and a life of hope.

discovering God's love

How can you trust in God’s love through the hard times?

Remember the past. One of the best tools for keeping faith in crisis is remembering how God met needs in the past. Grab a notebook and start writing down all the answered prayers and provision of the past.

Lean on friends. When life is hard, ask for help. Allow your community to be the hands and feet of God’s love, whether through asking for physical help or simply for prayer and encouragement.

Count your blessings. In the midst of heartbreak, everything seems wrong. Train yourself to find the silver lining by listing your blessings. Start small with simple things soon you’ll find many things to thank God for, even during crisis.

Trust that God has a plan. It may feel like life is off track, but God does have a plan even through this hard time. Keep pushing ahead, eventually the good of God’s plan will become apparent.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

At the beginning of my own crisis, I couldn’t image that any good thing would come from the shattering of my family. What began with a woman questioning God’s unfailing love, has become a beautiful life in which God’s love and grace are evident every day.

The truth is, that even when life is hard, God’s love remains. In the midst of chaos and pain, His love is unfailing and He has a plan.

If you are going through a hard time I pray that you trust in God’s love to see you through to the other side of the pain. He has a good plan for you!

Cling to the knowledge that through it all God’s love remains.

What Kind of Love

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. ~ 1 John 3:1

February is the month of “love,” and to be honest I was intimidated by the topic. I ran to my bookshelves to determine if there was anything I had read or needed to read so I could properly address the subject of “love.” I realized I had purchased, but not yet read Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, so I was determined to digest this book and wait for the Holy Spirit to speak. Right as I was about to pour the coffee and break out my pad and paper, my past came back to haunt me. I’ve been weeping and praying for the past 24hours and determined that I would go ahead and share.

what kind of love

Present day: I am a married woman of 20 years (going on 21). I have the house, two kids and the fluffy puppy. One could argue that I am living the American Dream. I can attest to the fact that I never dreamed that this would be my life. I describe myself as a recovering Postmodernist Feminist but everyone that has known me for the past 23 years doesn’t realize what exactly that means. They’ve only seen the “sanctified” version of me. Truth be told, I keep God rather busy in my sanctification process on a daily, hourly and let’s just be honest, a minute-by-minute basis. Thank goodness He is Omnipresent!

In her latest book, Openness Unhindered, Rosaria Butterfield said what I live on a daily basis:

“In order to have real community, we need to tell each other the stories of our lives. And we need to listen when someone else’s story makes us uncomfortable… I want you to know from what country I emigrated, and in which country my citizenship permanently and eternally resides. I’m not a native speaker of this country. No real convert is. I will always speak in broken godliness, as new paradigms reread old feelings.”

With that said, let’s chat about that visitor from my old country. As I said, I had rifled through my bookcase and was ready to read C.S. Lewis’ Four Loves – between Lewis and my Bible, I thought I was ready to write this devotional. I receive an alert on my phone and I immediately recognize the name, and upon closer examination, the face. My husband happened to be home sick and I walk into our room and ask him if he’s awake. I tell him. It was my ex-husband, he found me.

There’s so many lessons to derive from this. One thing is for sure, the internet is forever! Don’t think I didn’t use that teachable moment on my girls, but I digress. I felt compelled to respond, but I wanted to talk to my husband first. He gives me the green light. I responded. I’ll spare you all the details and simply sum up our conversation. There’s a couple of things you need to understand about my immigration process.

Being a pro-life activist and looking back has afforded me a whole lot of perspective; perspective that had me weeping when our conversation was complete. When I met him, I was drawn to his story. My mother had me at age 15 only to turn 16 a week later; my biological father was 45. While the circumstances surrounding my birth were less than ideal, I was welcomed in my family. I was loved. My ex was born with “club foot,” making him what the current Progressive movement refers to a less than desirable. In family court, he watched his mother leave and his brother get adopted while he was left behind. Of course, I being young, vulnerable and for added measure let’s throw in some hormones, I felt that if I just “loved him well,” I could fix him. Therein lies the rub.

Dear friends, this is the ultimate egoism to think that I, a mere mortal, can love someone better than God can. His love is perfect, mine is far from it. Being a Christian, I now know that the only person capable of loving that deeply and healing all those hurts is Jesus. Not me, no matter how noble my intentions. But in my faulty humanity, I believed I could. I failed in epic proportions and naturally this led to our inevitable divorce.

Fast forward, I have before me a broken man, who is seeking peace and closure. During our conversation, I reminded him that I thought we had parted ways amicably and that we did in fact have closure. Then he reminded me of just how broken I was during our last meeting. I was headed to a far-away country; and just like a prodigal, I threw my fist up to the heavens and would listen to no one. I was willing to forgive his indiscretions and the abuse, but I wanted no part of what he had to say or offer. It should be noted that while present day, I advocate fiercely for the unborn and for the weak, I aborted this man’s child. Deeply humbling is all I can say.

1 john 3:1

He said to me, “I have had dreams that you were dead.” That hit me square in between the eyes. When I paused to reflect the country he was seeing me head into, it’s no surprise that he wondered whether I was even alive. He said to me, “You were so far gone!” and I gently replied, “Not too far for God”

I think Christians tend to forget that “but for the Grace of God, go I” we really do. We forget we were enemies of God. While I don’t recognize that person I once was anymore, this was the last impression I left with him and it left an impact. In our short interaction, I realized the footprints that we leave behind when Jesus is not at the center of our lives. In this new country, I seek to make an impact for God’s Kingdom. I offer up the only thing I can offer and that is the Greatest Love of All – and no, it is not loving yourself. It is full surrender to the One and only that can heal all your wounds and take a heart made of stone and soften it. Only He can make things new. I know. Here I stand, as the song[1] says, “Greatly blessed, highly favored, imperfect but forgiven child of God”

 

 

[1] Gaither Vocal Band

We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to slow down…breathe…remember God’s love makes all things new!
Be blessed! 

Love – Jesus Took Our Place

Years and years ago, I was a night shift nurse… And one night during my walk into the nursing home where I worked, I distinctly remember praying a prayer.  It went something like this, “Lord, show me what it means to be like you.”

I don’t remember if I thought of that prayer again until I walked back out after my long shift; but I do remember the extremely huge lesson I was taught that night.

Jesus took our place

That night I worked with a dear sweet nurse, who was much older than me.  Being a nurse was hard on these older nurses, the new charting methods, the computers, new policies; all of that made it hard for them to adapt.  On this night, that sweet old nurse accidentally popped a narcotic from a pill sheet that was laying on the med cart and handed out her first pill of the night.  A few minutes later as we put the new shipment of narcs away, we realized one was missing.  Together, we realized that she had given it to the wrong patient.  The wrong med, the wrong person, and a narcotic on top of it all.

She didn’t even think long about it and said, “Oh, she will be ok!” She went on with her life.

I, however, knew that wasn’t what was supposed to happen… No matter what the med given in error was, we still needed to write up the report.  There was a certain procedure that needed followed.  The doctor needed called, charting needed done, and vital signs taken.

I had a choice.  And that night, I choose the right one.  I took the problem as my own.  I wrote up the report, called the doctor, took the vitals, and charted the incident.  Doing all this caused it to look as though I had given the wrong med.  It looked as though I had made the error.  

I took the blame for her.

As I walked to my car that morning headed for home, I realized that God had answered my prayer.  He showed me what it meant to be like Him.  He showed me what it felt like to take the blame for someone else’s wrong on my own shoulders.  He showed me a true-life example of what he had done on the cross for our sins.  That was true love… And that was our Jesus.  

Love like Jesus

This month, 1 John is in my focus-  In chapter 4, we read about this very love!  Verse 7:  “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his ONLY begotten SON into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Dear friends, since God loved us, we ought to love one another.

We have His great example of love- He lay down his VERY life for us!  To take the blame for our sins!  So that we might be free.

Little me, I laid down myself for one little night, I took the blame for one little thing.  The nurse passed away a few years back, the patient is long passed away… Yet what Jesus did lasts forever.  

He laid down himself so that forever we might be free!

May we love others as He loves others, before they love us.  Even those times that they don’t notice or acknowledge or care about what we just did for them.  Those times where we love and don’t get love back.  Those times we take the blame for something we didn’t do. Those times we apologize first.  Those times we love and don’t get love back.

Every day.  Every time.  Like Jesus, our great example.

We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to slow down…breathe…rememberHe laid down himself so that forever we might be free!
Be blessed!

Modeling God’s Love

It’s February, and love is in the air this month more than any other time of the year. When we step back to consider God’s love, really the entire Bible is his love letter to us. As moms, especially homeschool moms, we’re constantly showing our love to our families our husbands and others all around us.

Modeling God’s Love Through Service

The message of the God’s great love letter to us is LOVE and generosity, “For God so loved the world that He gave…”  John 3:16

When we give to our families, our friends and others of our time, talents and resources, we are acting as God’s love in the flesh. When you feel like you just can’t give any more, moms. Remember that our Heavenly Papa gave us Jesus and Jesus gave it all. For us. So just keep giving and loving, holding fast to God’s promise in Proverbs 11:25, “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

Modeling God's Love

I have friends that ask me all the time how I keep going? I think it’s God’s super natural way of giving us more energy than the energizer bunny. In fact, I’m kind of tired of being compared to that silly commercial bunny, banging his drums together. Instead, I’ll hold fast to God’s word and promises. As I refresh others, He will refresh me. What God sends out will not return void. Just keep giving, mamas. It’s the Lord’s boomerang affect, only His multiples. If we keep refreshing others, then we ourselves are refreshed.

As a mama, what can we do for other moms and sisters in Christ, refreshing them to enter into God’s heart and love? It’s His promise, that we will be refreshed, yet it seems so impossible to give any more. Let’s face it ladies, this mommy thing. It’s hard. Add that with all the rest of the responsibilities of this nonstop society and we seem to be up against a mountain.

We’re all familiar with Paul’s definition of love in 1 Corinthians 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.”  In those same first letter to the Corinthians, 16:18, Paul reminds us, ”For they refreshed my spirit and yours as well. Show your appreciation,therefore, to such men.” I say the same goes for our sisters. Refresh others and others will refresh you, come along side you and partner in this thing called life. It’s God’s Kingdom life.

God’s Love

We showcase God’s never ending love for us by refreshing others.  What if we became extra super ultra generous with giving out God’s love? What If we started with giving more, a living example of God’s generosity to our children, to our sisters who we walk in this life with. We homeschool together in, hang out in MOPS groups, at co-op groups, Bible studies, park and play dates. In turn, are we giving our sisters more to take home to her own families, and being refreshed ourselves? I think so. In fact, I know so.

God's Love

As I’m writing this, I’m riding in the car with three dear Christian sisters on our way to our third #LetYourWriteShine retreat. It seems that the more energy I put into making these events special, to refresh my sisters in Christ, asking the Lord to fill their hearts with God’s love through our events and sharing that with my Christian sisters, the more energy I have to do things in my every day life. I guess it’s just supernatural.

God’s love for us is unending. It’s hard for us to grasp how deep and high and wide. To be living as He did, the more we press into loving others, the more He shows up with his treasures for us.

Where is God stretching you to give more, sisters? I’d love to hear from you!

Bon Voyage~

 

We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to slow down…breathe…remember God’s love for us is unending!
Be blessed! 

Unselfish Love

“Love is in many ways fine:
      Like a nickel, like a dime.
But love is more valuable to me
      Than one, two, or even three.”

And so begins one of the most *ahem* “memorable” poems I’ve ever written. (I won’t make you suffer through the rest of it.) Judging by my handwriting at the time, I’m guessing I was around nine or ten years old when I penned that masterpiece. Back in the day, apparently, those two silver coins represented huge value for me, because I compared them to the one thing everyone on the planet desires: LOVE.

It should come as no surprise that my nickel and dime view of love wouldn’t last forever. As I entered the teen years, my experience of love shifted from coins in my pocket to “teardrops on my guitar.” (Well, make that my pillow. Taylor Swift, I am not.)

unselfish love

All the Feels

In high school, hormones had me convinced that love was a feeling (or more than a feeling)—one I couldn’t fight anymore. When “the feels” eventually subsided or my heart was broken, that all-consuming “love” evaporated into thin air. And then, I was all out of love, and so lost without ____________ (fill in the blank). Emotion took me over—tied up with sorrow; lost in my soul. And time? It kept flowing. Like a river.

As I matured, I struggled to wrap my mind around that crazy little thing called “love.” It’s such an ambiguous term, we shouldn’t be shocked that people go looking for love in all the wrong places. For with this singular word love, I express my passion for penguins, “The Princess Bride,” dark chocolate, football, and family.

If I were to explain the power of love according to hit singles on the radio, it might sound a little bit like this:

Love is an open door…in the air. It keeps lifting me higher and higher. Love is higher than a mountain and thicker than water. It’s all we need, because we found love right where we are. It will keep us together! I love you. You love me…tender. The fact is, I will always love you, because you’re my endless love. And there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do to make you feel my love. I’m gonna love you forever. Forever and ever, amen. I’m literally lost in love, but I have just one issue: I wanna know what love is!!!

Stringing together lyrics from a few famous love songs weaves a fascinating tapestry of the feelings-based, self-absorbed, narcissistic version of love our society promotes 24/7/365. The problem is that it’s a poor impostor of the real thing. And let me tell you, ain’t nothing like the real thing, Baby!

demonstrate love

Love is More

In his first letter to the Corinthians (chapter 13), the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, beautifully describes love as patient and kind. Rejoicing in the truth. “It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails.” Did you notice anything in this list connecting love to how someone makes me feel? No? Me neither. Paul’s point here is crystal clear: Loving someone has nothing to do with meeting my own needs and everything to do with how I relate to and treat others in my life.

In contrast to what love is, Paul utilizes negative definitions to further explain what love is not. Love is neither envious nor boastful. “It is not arrogant or rude. It’s not irritable or resentful. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing.” In other words, love literally limits the influence of negative emotions on our actions.

Love is not a feeling: Love is a verb. Offering Christian love—selfless, no-strings-attached, generous—to another living being is a free-will choice, and that’s what makes it so precious. When we choose to love, it’s always a risk, and it’s always a dare. There are no guarantees that our gift of love will be received; however, since love is not made of physical matter, the only way a person can know he or she is loved is through the selfless actions of another. Words, while welcome and worthwhile, mean nothing without the corresponding actions to back them up: Love must be demonstrated to be known.

The Lord Himself modeled this when, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Are we literally called to die in order to prove our love? Of course not! But we are called to die to selfish desires—and our own personal agendas and expectations—and simply LOVE one another. Not merely with words, but mostly with actions. Not for recognition or kudos, but solely for the benefit of the other person. No ropes attached.

But what about me? Don’t I need love, too? Of course! And who better to supply the exact love we need to fill us up than the Lord God Almighty? Our Heavenly Father. Abba. It’s only because of our personal relationship with Him and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we are able to share any love  with anyone at all! Out of the overflow of that relationship—knowing that we are drawing from a well that will never run dry—we are able to share unselfish love with others.

Pause for a moment and inhale deeply. Hold it. Exhale slowly. Do this a couple times, and then offer this simple prayer:

“Lord, thank you for loving me as-is. Thank you for not giving up on me. 
You are faithful and your love endures forever. (lift your hands)

I lift my hands to you in worship and adoration.  (open your hands)
I open my hands to receive what you have for me today. (bring your hands to your heart)
Fill my heart with your love once again, O Lord.
I’m completely yours.

Open my eyes to the needs of those around me, 
and help me share your love without expectation.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Amen.”

music
Did you catch all the song allusions in this devotional?
Come visit my website for a complete list
AND a free printable of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.
http://laurazielke.com/devotionals/

Rich, Sweet, Chocolatey Love

I remember hearing someone say that the 10 commandments are just like Hershey’s kisses. Well, THAT got my attention… chocolate always does!

What they really meant was that all the commandments in the Bible are just LOVE wrapped up in different colored foil wrappings – same thing on the inside, but different packaging on the outside. You see, if you truly love God, you’ll not take His name in vain. If you have love for your neighbor, you won’t covet anyone’s things. And you’ll certainly not kill them, will you?

That’s why Jesus said “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 love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

Just like chocolate.

chocolate love

It’s all chocolate …just wrapped up in different scenarios.

OK. Well that makes it easy, right? Well, not so much.

Love is more

That’s because it’s hard to love others and sustain it. Real love is more than an emotion. It is something we purpose to do, regardless of what the other person does. Real love is selfless and sacrificial, not depending on what our spouse does for us, how our children behave, or how that guy in the car next to us drives.

Now, we get it when it comes to our family. When our children disobey us, we still love them. We may discipline them, there will be consequences to their behavior, and we might feel sad because of their disobedience. But we still love them. Why? Because love is not based on feeling happy.

Love is intentional. We have to purpose to love others. God pursued and purposed to love us (Jn. 3:16-17). And he did that even though we were not worthy, not lovable – Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Why does he love us when we don’t merit it? Well, we can see Jesus loving those who were outcasts or unlovable in the Bible: those with leprosy, the Samaritan woman, tax collectors, and even those who crucified him. It is because God purposes to love us and pursues us even when we are not worthy of it. Love is intentional.

Love is foolishness. Unconditional love does not make sense to the world. Yet it is the wisdom of God. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

God works through us broken believers to make it clear that the power to love lies with Him. We can love our spouses, our children, and others not because we are exceptionally wonderful people, but because we can trust that the Lord will enable us to love them. That brings Him glory! Indeed, love is foolishness to the world.

chocolate love

Now this can sometimes be hard, particularly when our children are struggling to obey while doing their chores (or while our teens are dealing with raging hormones). But success comes from allowing the love of the Lord to work THROUGH us. I am fallible, but He is strong. He gave me my children and my husband, and He desires me to call out to Him for the strength to love and serve them.

It is a daily thing. It is a humble thing. It can even be a difficult thing. But it can be the greatest action we can do.
Love lays down what I want and lifts others up. Love has no personal agenda, but serves those it purposes to serve. That is what I see my husband do for us day in and day out. Slowly and steadily. Going to work each day, fixing the broken dryer, teaching one of our children to drive…

Moms, when you go through the regular, day-to-day motions of wiping children’s noses, doing laundry, quizzing spelling words, and encouraging your husbands, you are exhibiting love.

Because love is not a feeling. It is selfless, intentional, and even foolish. But through God’s omniscient design, it is also rich, sweet, pleasing, and even refreshing!

Like chocolate.

We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to slow down…breathe…remember love is rich, sweet, pleasing, and refreshing.
Be blessed! 

 

My Junk Drawer

my junk drawer

A dried up glue stick
One chopstick
A used band aid
Half of an eraser
15 pennies
An empty chocolate wrapper
An unused tea bag
An unsharpened pencil
One envelope
A small spring
Post-its
A comb
Lots of crumbs
Several pieces of chalk
A package of ketchup
A plastic fork
A ball of twine
An empty Chapstick
Two small tubes of lotion, both empty

 

The official Carman Family junk drawer is in the kitchen. It is supposed to have handy writing utensils, a post-it pad, some scissors-yeah, right-some tape, maybe a Sharpie, you get it, miscellaneous stuff. But those things are not usually in there.

It’s supposed to be a place we can go to quickly to grab some essential tool to complete a task. It’s not supposed to be hard to open. It is. It’s not supposed to be filled with trash. It is. It’s not supposed to constantly be disorganized. But it is.

It’s supposed to be neat, clean and handy.

Instead in our junk drawer contains things that should be in the trash. Why do we even bother to open the drawer and put these things in? The trash can is right beside it. Why do we stuff the drawer full? Why do we avoid cleaning it out? Why do we put it off till we can’t close it out anymore?? Why do we hope someone else will do it and we won’t have to?

Our family junk drawer is like my heart, my mind. It’s supposed to be a place where useful and helpful truths are stored. It’s supposed to be neat and clean. It’s supposed to be full of God’s love and His praise. It’s supposed to be easily opened not jammed shut. But it isn’t.

Often my heart and my mind are full of trash, things that are polluting my thoughts and attitudes and actions. I have stuff there, I put stuff there that contaminates me. Instead of being pure in word and deed, my thoughts and my heart become trashed.

This happens when I don’t practice discernment about what I put in. When I just allow whatever to enter into my mind–whatever music, whatever television show, whatever movie, whatever book, whatever whatever. When “whatever” sets my standard, I’ve chosen to passively poison my heart and mind with junk, useless, broken, worthless junk that needs to be in the trash.

Capitol One currently has a successful advertising campaign featuring Samuel L Jackson who simply asks, “What’s in your wallet?” For many, bank accounts, credit limits and other financial assets are what’s most important. But Scripture tells us, it’s a heart issue.

God asks, “What’s in your heart?”

guard heart

Junk Does

Hebrews 12:1 admonishes us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”. My junk hinders me. Junk does that. It gets in the way of our ability to function. It inhibits our focus and often frustrates us too. I can’t find a sharpened pencil in the drawer for all of the broken ones there, can’t find a clean piece of paper for all of the wadded ones, can’t find a piece of tape for all of the empty rolls.

The last time I cleaned out the kitchen junk drawer, I determined to pause before I put anything it. I decided to resist the urge to just stuff something in, to avoid thinking it doesn’t matter, to throw away trash. So far, so much better.

Now, about my heart. Scripture admonishes me to “guard my heart”. To store up for myself “treasures in Heaven”, to “love the Lord with all of my heart”, and in doing these things, there’s not any room left for junk.

The best way to guard my heart is to be intentional about what I allow in it, to actively resist allowing junk in. Storing up treasures in Heaven is best achieved by filling my heart with His truth and serving others. And loving the Lord starts with how we live each day, acknowledging and worshiping Him in all we say and do.

Do you have a junk drawer or closet or garage that you are putting off cleaning out? Why are you avoiding the task? Make an appointment with yourself to get it done. What about your heart? Is it overflowing with the love of God or is it crammed with junk? Make of list of things that need to be cleaned out.

Take some time now to pray and praise Him, this is the first step to cleaning out your heart.

 

We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to slow down…breathe…make a plan for actively guarding your heart and keeping the junk out.
Be blessed!