Thursday, November 29, 2012

what is LOVE?

A few weeks ago, I woke struggling with my reaction to a recent event in our lives. The details I can't get into but my response I can. I responded wholly in the flesh. There was no grace in my heart. The worst part is I knew it and even vocalized it in the moment. No, the worst part is that it was in front of my precious six year old. I didn't want to respond in a Christ like manner to this issue, but I felt the weight of my behavior staring at me through innocent eyes. As a parent, I feel I have the responsibility to behave in a calm, mature manner but that doesn't always happen. As a child of Christ, I feel the weight of responding in a manner that is honoring to Christ.  Not just in what I say or do but in my heart also. And that, unfortunately, doesn't always happen. My brokenness drives my responses at times. I really hate when that happens but I also recognize its a symptom to a bigger issue. The issue that He's walking me through right now is love.

I know how to love but the Holy Spirit is gently showing me that I'm not doing it well. It's easy to love those that please you but how in the world do you love those that have hurt you, hurt your loved ones, someone who is just mean, uses you or less dramatic, someone who is just annoying to be around?  We all know people like this but what does it look like to love someone like this?  That's easy to answer but hard to live out.  I LOVE how God works. This has been part of the sermons lately at church and was brought up in my small group.

So the answer to this is in scripture:  Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your sound and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." matthew 22:37-40   We also see in 1 Corinthians 13. That scripture talks about some selfless things you can do for others but then says "...but have not love, it profits me nothing."  1 Corinthians goes on to say "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails...And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

I've been spending a lot of time marinating over these scriptures the last couple weeks. This has been a hard post to write because I wanted to study the scriptures and hear what God was saying to me in these verses. Like I said, I LOVE how God works. These same scriptures have been preached at church. It has felt like Pastor Garry preached these sermons just for me. He gave the example of the Good Samaritan from Luke and how the definition of a neighbor is helping anyone that you can, not just those that live next door. I see my kids live that out more than I ever could. I've watched my kids reach out and try to help people that I wouldn't even take notice of in my introverted me centered daily living. I've seen my kids extend grace and kindness to other kids that were being mean to them. I look at that and I wonder where I lost that love and what I can do to first, recapture it and second, how can I help protect my kids from losing it. I'm not sure where I lost it, somewhere in my journey of life before Christ, when I was angry and bitter about what I perceived as the injustices of this world. Somewhere in the back of my mind I do know how to recapture it. Live my life for Christ. Which I do, I've come a long way but I struggle with looking at those deep dark corners of my being, knowing that when I do open those doors they will cause pain. I know the flip side of that too though, that after walking through the pain, there is great joy and freedom. I've experienced God's healing in many broken areas of my life. So the answer to recapturing that type of love and protecting my kids from losing it, is the same; live my life for Christ. Sounds easy, as easy as just loving someone. However, I'm finding it's a daily, sometimes minute by minute decision to love, to keep my thoughts captive, my tongue behind my teeth and to allow Jesus to speak through me. I know the more I allow Jesus to live through me, the more it just becomes who I am. 

In this day and age of "Five Easy Steps to..." there really are no five easy steps to learning to love. It's a daily submission to Christ, it's a daily dying to self and the instant gratification of responding in the flesh, it's putting aside hurts and extending grace to those who do you wrong. I look at the things I've done in my life and God still loves me, still extends grace and mercy. Who am I to withhold that from others? I'm grateful for the opportunity to practice Christ's love that was recently placed before me and I look forward to experiencing ways to live out God's love as I continually learn and grow in Christ. 

Dear Lord, 
Thank you for the family you've given me. For placing a loving, grace-filled husband in my life that sets a daily example of Christ's love towards others, for kids who just live out Your love in a natural selfless way. Thank you for opening my heart in this season to teach me how to love better and for giving me opportunities to practice Your love. Ephesians 4:2 says Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. I look forward to the day I'll stand by Your side and truly understand what Love mean.
Amen



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

thoughts for today


today....

Outside my window...it's gray and cold but not yet quite winter out there. 


I am thinking...about getting the Christmas tree up

I am thankful...for my hubby's job even when it pulls him hours away from home

In the kitchen...I'm loving my new present and excited about the pending remodeling we'll be working on

I am creating...ornaments for the tree, a video album for a family member, various crochet projects

I am hoping...for a white December

I am looking forward to...our Christmas celebrations with family

I am struggling with...learning to love as Christ

I am learning...to recognize when I'm not loving like Christ


In the classroom...we are doing a light load of classes for December

A favorite quote for today...Open your mouth only if what you're going to say is more beautiful than silence

One of my favorite things...the sound of our kids

A few plans for the rest of the week: get the Christmas tree up, try a new bread recipe, bible study and a play date

A picture I've shared before but means so much to me:






Saturday, November 24, 2012

so much to be thankful for

Thanksgiving.

It's my favorite day of the year. A day of family, friends and looking back on all God has blessed us with over the previous year. This also includes the trials He allows us to walk through. The trials, more than anything, help to mold my heart of thankfulness. I love the week leading to Thanksgiving because as I'm preparing a meal that pulls our family together, I really get to reflect on all I have to be thankful for.

I've been making a Thanksgiving dinner for 20 years now. Some years I attended one at my parents house or helped my Mema make dinner and most years I also cooked my own the day after, at my house. My Mema has taught, encouraged and walked me though many dinners. There were times when she'd be in California for the winter and I'd still have to call her to get tips or suggestions. She really helped to shape what Thanksgiving became for me and passed on the tradition to me, to make the big dinner that brings most of the family together.

Here are the past Thanksgiving that Randy and I have shared together...(our 2005 pictures seem to be missing...)

Mema and Esther ~ 2006

2006 

2007









Mema, helping me with gravy. I always needed her help with gravy...I still do.
This turned out to be her last Thanksgiving diner with us.  2008.

2008

2009 - We have very few pictures of this Thanksgiving. Mema was in the hospital and it was a more somber dinner.

2009 ~ My 30 lb free range turkey. I was a bit overwhelmed by the size of this bird.


2010


















Did you notice the theme of changing kitchens/dining rooms? In the spring of 2011, through much trial and testing, we were able to purchase our first home together and the last two Thanksgivings have been celebrated here.  The last two have been an extra blessing because some of Randy's family have begun joining us.


2011 ~ this is about the only picture we have. Not sure why we didn't get more of them.
Randy's mom, sister and brothers joined us for the 1st time this year.


2012


This year was quite different from other years because we had so many coming and some of the kids were able to make it this year. We wanted to do something different...Randy and I did not want a bunch of individual tables set up and when we figured out how to make one big table we were thrilled. Both sides of the family would sit together at one big table, as one family. 

making a wheat stalk bread centerpiece

Michael testing out the comfort of the table 
some things never change!


Grammy's reaction to Cody's surprise visit for Thanksgiving


we had 22 family members all together for dinner 

My mom, sister-in-law and I






I think they were all trying to avoid the camera!



finally an opportunity to sit

my wheat stalk 




Thank you Lord for all that you have provided us with this year, for all the trials you've been faithful through and for all the grace you've pour on us. 

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His faithfulness continues through all generations.
~ psalm 100: 4-5 (NKJV, NIV)








Sunday, November 11, 2012

thoughts for today

today....


Outside my window...it's partly sunny and a bit warm!

I am thinking...about all I need to accomplish this week

I am thankful...that our house has the space to hold all that will be here this Thanksgiving


I am going...as few places as possible this week

I am wondering...why God forgives the ugliness within me

I am reading...Silas Marner

I am hoping...in the Promise of eternity with our Father

I am looking forward to...no lessons tomorrow

I am struggling with...self control over my time usage 

I am learning...a better way to interact with my daughter

In the kitchen...making a pumpkin pie today to taste test a new crust I'm trying

Around the house...trying to finish and organize putting our books on my new bookshelves 

In the classroom...we are putting all of our efforts into getting Tink to read independently 


I am pondering...disabling facebook over thanksgiving week.

One of my favorite things...quiet time alone

A peek into my life....


Loving the birds out our window. These little guys will right out of our hands.