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True Love

The love that God has for us is “true love.” We often refer to it as unconditional love. But do we really know how to receive it?  Growing up in a family where there were unspoken conditions and God’s love was never mentioned.. I have struggled to embrace this love that He offers. Without realizing how deep it has gone, I have always performed for Him.

In some way.. I am re-creating the same dynamics that existed in my childhood. My parents were very successful, both held doctorates and earned quite a bit of money. They were intelligent intellectuals.. thinkers. I was not and knew I could never be what they were. So.. I was the “perfect” daughter.. the one that excelled in school and tried never to bring them any pain.

Once I began to follow God and nurture a relationship with Him, the same pattern emerged. I worked in ministry, tried to be a perfect mom and wife, keep the house just right and basically performed for Him. The ministry experiences were messy and so was our home. I married an addict and was far from the perfect Mom.

God’s love was such a mystery to me.. I think deep down I felt that I had to keep performing or He would soon give up on me. I raised the bar higher and higher until I almost collapsed..

God has me in a healing season..helping me to receive the “true love” that only He can deliver. I can’t  perform the way I once did.. I am beginning to realize that this is a blessing for me. I know now that I may never “do” some of the things I dreamed I would do. God is OK with that.. in fact He is behind that whole idea. I can almost hear Him saying ” I love you with an everlasting love.. I created you and my love for you is not based on anything you ever say or do” 

“God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will.
   Expect love, love, and more love!”

Retreating

“The act or process of withdrawing, especially from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant.” Interesting definition. That word came to mind as I sat down to write. I am on an extended retreat..given by God.. a resting place. In some ways I am doing living out the word ” retreating.” My life is quiet.. I am working to keep it that way so I can recover from the stress of the last few years.

Being in a quiet place can be difficult for those of us who have spent much of our lives rushing from one thing to another. Busyness is the idol of our culture and often the idol of our churches. There appears to be a contest among all of us..who can live the most significant life..serving, giving, doing, doing, doing. I know all about it.. I was one of the contestants.

Not any more.. I quit. No more worrying about my life being meaningful..about God using me..about accomplishing more for His kingdom. God has slowed me down so I can remember..relax..rest and recover. He is reminding me that I belong to Him..that I have followed Him..that He is pleased with me. He is pursuing me to rest in His peace and remember His goodness. He is the Good Shepherd who knows everything about me. He has all my tears in a bottle. He holds me in the palm of His hand. I am His daughter and His friend.

” The Lord is my Shepherd.. I lack nothing”

A little break..

We just got back from a few days away. .away from our normal routine and away from the phone and computer. There were stressful moments while we were gone.. it takes more than a couple of days to relax and unwind. Actually I have no idea how long that would take.. or if it is even possible anymore. The world is a stressful place. People drive too fast and too close. Everyone is too busy and too loud.  What has happened to our culture? We seem to have lost something very important in our rush to accomplish it all before it is too late.

It was wonderful to come home to our quiet, peaceful home. I am grateful for this place..  I know many people do not feel relaxed..even in their own home. Learning to slow down..to  enjoy each day fully..a challenge for all of us and very counter-cultural in our technological age. Almost everyone I know is busier than me, except my 90-year-old mother. Coming home yesterday, I felt so fortunate..so thankful, and so amazed at this season that God has given me.

You may be in a very busy season, with little time to yourself.. I remember those days. Find a way to take a little break..to enjoy yourself..to be still..to relax..to be refreshed..to enter His presence. Put the phone down, turn off the computer or TV.. listen, remember, believe.. He is with you.

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.”

 

 

 

God’s Heart

I am surprised by the way people see God. Since I love to talk about Him and have many friends who believe in Him, these conversations happen frequently. Our perception of who He is comes through teachings, life experience, scripture, and our own imaginations. It is very easy to fall into disillusionment and begin to think of Him in a way that reinforces our own negativity. It is also easy to find scripture to back this up.

No one has the final word when it comes to scripture interpretation. We can read study Bibles and commentaries..we can attend Bible Studies and Seminary classes..we can listen to sermons and read books..all of these things teach us, but in the end we may still only see through a glass darkly. Where do we go from there? Call on the Holy Spirit..the spirit of the living God who wants to reveal truth to us. He is the real interpreter and it brings Him pleasure to open our eyes to the goodness of God.

I find myself praying for God to reveal Himself to those around me. That is the only way they will really know Him. He is so often misrepresented by those who claim to know Him. His character is often misunderstood by those who believe they understand Him. Our only hope is knowing that He desires to come close to us..to show us His amazing love and grace without the help of well-meaning people. In the same way we desire to be known..really known, He has that same desire. 

 “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.”

Humpty Dumpty..

Yes.. He put me back together 😀 God is good.. He comes for us. The challenging times close in on us and we tend to forget all the “rescues”. Let’s remind ourselves right now of those times when we thought we were forgotten and we weren’t. His timing is a mystery but His heart is not.

Earlier today I was remembering a lesson I learned about 12 years ago. It changed my life completely. During the most difficult time in my life I was afraid..that God would leave me..that He might not pick up the pieces of my life..that His promises might not be real. At the same time I had nowhere to turn but to Him. I made a choice to believe that what I knew about Him was true..the other choice was too terrible. I had to cling to my faith minute by minute. He came through and rebuilt my life..one day at a time.

He took my old life away..but only because He wanted to give me more than I had ever imagined possible. The transition was hard..the fears were real..but He was there with me in a tangible way. I learned that when He takes things away it is not to punish us..it is because He loves us and wants to give us even more than we had before. Our part is to believe and trust Him for what we cannot see..even when the odds are against us.

Yes..He put me back together and He will do the same for you when you need it. He is bigger than our fears..and worries. His heart overflows with love for us. Our God is with us!

“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
      and I will be naked when I leave.
   The Lord gave me what I had,
      and the Lord has taken it away.
   Praise the name of the Lord!”

 In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.

One another

The whole one another thing is difficult. We are to love one another..to bear each other’s burdens. It is difficult because we need each other and yet we must have boundaries..places where we stop. The trick is to learn what this means. Where does my world end and another person’s begins? How much should I give? What is God saying about all this? Our world is an unhealthy place..privacy is hard to define now that we have the internet. What is our own personal struggle and what do we want the whole world to know? I’m a blogger so I certainly don’t have it all figured out.

So much of what I write is based on my struggles and trials..yet most of the details remain hidden.  I believe that there is an art to sharing without over sharing. Not just online but everywhere. There are some places where it is safe to open up completely..others where that is way too risky. We need wisdom to understand the difference. God is clear when He tells us we need each other..there is no confusion there. At the same time we need Him more. He is completely safe every single moment of every single day. He won’t use what we bring to Him to hurt us or someone else. People may..not always intentionally..but people are people..imperfect and flawed. (myself included)

So..be real.. be authentic..but be careful. Trust God..take risks and ask for help when you need it. Remember that we were created for Him and for one another. No one can take His place in our hearts but there are those around you that He has placed there for ” such a time as this.”

“So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart.. I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding”

Encouragement

Do you need it today? I do. Life is challenging every day. We face an uncertain future and we live in an unstable world. As I began to write I felt like God was saying..bring encouragment to those with heavy hearts. We get beat up at times. We lose sleep. We eat too much and we exercise too little. We keep trying..sometimes we fail. We hear so much advice..some of it good and most it confusing. Our hearts become weighed down as we continue to believe and trust that God is in control.

He knows all this. He is not surprised by it and He can handle it. He doesn’t want us to hide..from Him or each other. He knows all our struggles and they break His heart. I wish we truly believed this..it would help us persevere. Many of us live in isolation..wondering if anyone cares what happens to us. Some of us have many friends..but no one knows our deepest longings.  All of this builds up..can we keep going.? Our only refuge is the Lord..our safety net is the loving embrace of our God. He is the solid rock..the lover of our souls. We can’t count on people..even the ones that love us.. to truly understand.. not the way the Lord does.

He is closer than a sibling..parent..spouse, or child. He is our refuge in the storm. He stays the same..never wavering in His committment to us..not scared away by the intensity of our feelings. We are not too much for Him..ever. Remember all of this today wherever you are. Your God is with you and He will not forsake you. He loves you with an everlasting love.

“What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.”  ♪♫♪

Happy Birthday!

Today is the 1st birthday of this blog. I had to post this because it is a milestone for me. When I wrote my first post I never dreamed that I would have anything left to say after writing over 250 posts..God is amazing. He continues to give me ideas and help me express them here.

Thank you to Steve..my amazing husband who is saving all my blog posts for me in a word document so that maybe someday they will become a book..you are the best! Thanks to my daughter who is the real writer in the family for believing in me.. I am so grateful for you.

I want to thank all of you who subscribe..it motivates me to keep writing and to each person who comments..your encouragement is wonderful. A special thanks to Sarah..my internet friend who also writes a blog. Her encouraging words are a constant source of refreshment to my weary spirit. You can visit her blog at http://sarahlunsfordwriter.wordpress.com/.

Time to go celebrate.. May the God who set the universe in place bless you today!

Cupcakes made by my daughter for her daughter's 4th birthday!!

 

Every Day

I try to think about this blog and post to it as often as possible..ideally it would be every day..but life interferes with that idea. Why every single day? Because every morning when we wake up..or in the midst of a sleepless night..God has something new to say. He is waiting for us to come and ask Him about the day. What do you have in store for this day, Lord? What new thing do you want to do? Interrupt my day, Lord, with a fresh glimpse of your activity in my life. Teach me to sit still so you can speak to me. Help me to realize how much I need you..even if all my ducks are in a row.

Walking with God is a daily thing..receiving His grace happens daily..comfort and reassurance are needed daily. Each day we make decisions..we relate to people..we have opportunities..we face new circumstances. This is true even if we never leave the house. We may talk on the phone..email someone..pray for a friend..write in a journal..cook dinner..wash clothes..feed the cat..clean up our desk..whatever we do..God is with us and He is speaking to us. He is teaching us to lean on Him moment by moment..to remember His presence..to rely on His wisdom..to grow closer to His heart.

When I come home and look around I see God’s fingerprints all over my home. The things that others have given me…the beautiful view..the quiet..His provision is evident. I never imagined living in such a beautiful place..enjoying such an abundant life. He had this in mind for me back when things were very different. He kept all my desires in His Heart and when it was time He began to unfold this life that I could never have imagined.

He is doing the same for you. He is holding on to your dreams nad desires. He has not forgotten you..in fact He remembers things you may have forgotten over the years.  He is the perfect friend, Father, brother..He longs to have that time with you daily when you remember His goodness and He renews your hope.

” His mercies are new every morning! Great is His faithfulness!”

What really matters?

This is a question I need to keep asking myself. As we go through the motions of daily life..what really matters? Our culture says accomplishing things matters..the church says serving matters. Where do we go to find the answer? To God. He says He really matters..His ways..His plans..His direction for our lives..His truth..His larger story..His promises..His character..these are really matter.

This is absolutely essential to us as believers. We can always find something to do..someone to care for..a mission..a cause..a job. Yet..it is all meaningless unless God is in it with us. How do we know if He is? We have to pray and wait..yes wait..waiting is the key..seeking and waiting and asking. It is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural to wait. All around us we are hear the message of our society..get going..move on.. hurry up..do more..don’t waste another minute..time is short..now..now..now. The drum is beating faster and faster..messages are flying around the world from one electronic device to another.

God says “wait on me..trust me..remember me..look for me..cling to me..slow down..make time for me.” A totally different message. He wants to interrupt our lives with His grace..His love and His encouragement. He wants to teach us about Himself. His heart longs for more of us and we are the ones that need more of Him! Let’s agree to grapple with this together..to start waking up each morning and asking ourselves ” what really matters?” listening for the voice of God.

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”