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Posts Tagged ‘love’

Conspire with me.
Show me your heart and all that lies within.
Let’s see how much good we can do!
In the quiet…scheming.
Creating beauty through secret acts between us and God.
Extravagant gifts and over-the-top acts of service…
The day’s end filled with whispers of joy and adventure.
Praising and thanking Him for allowing us to be some small part.

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There are few things as moving as witnessing some one show genuine love for others. Big hugs, and sturdy greetings with sincere eye contact. The receiver wears an expression showing how much it means to them to be loved as they are.

In my adventures this weekend, I was blessed to witness such an exchange and it was beautiful. I spent the evening observing and processing, while inwardly scolding myself for being such a goof when introduced to quite a few people that I did not know. Nothing quite like standing there awkwardly after giving my name, while the others are standing there waiting for some polite conversation to occur. This was one of those times where I wished I had a t-shirt or memorized phrase to spout off something to the effect of: please excuse any weird behavior. I am an introvert trying to cope with a new situation and/or human interaction.

Lately God has been bringing back to my heart the desire to love people, build relationships, and serve them in whatever way possible. I am not talking about the pretty, everything is perfect type stuff. I am talking about the beautiful, messy, walking with imperfect people toward a perfect God journey. I am talking about Mother Teresa in the slums of India loving lepers and helping people die with dignity, and Shane Claiborne becoming “family” with the people in a not-so-pretty neighborhood in Philly.

Honestly, I don’t know where He wants me to go with this or what He wants me to do from here. It scares me a bit, like the anxiety of going up the sharp incline of a roller coaster. I don’t even know how to go about it when I struggle to interact with people. I don’t know if it will be something I will just discover and do one day, or whether I will be a part of a team that could help me in the areas I am weak in. Sometimes it can be so terrifyingly exciting thinking about it! I am thankful that He is the one orchestrating it, because I have no clue how its all going to happen.

All I know is this I want to serve God. I want to serve others. I want to love people, not just say it. Family is my main core value and I want others to feel the sense of family, especially those who don’t quite fit in. If I could do anything with my life, I would serve others full time, whether it be local mission work, helping local churches or smaller non-profits. When I think about all those things, it makes me both happy to know where my heart is, but sad I am not there yet. I am in a place where I don’t know where that fits into my current life, especially as a single mom of 3 kids. There are times I feel so discouraged because it feels impossible, yet I feel excited to have a goal to attain even if I have no clue how I will get to it or what it will look like.

So for now I keep praying, hoping, and learning as I go. I know God has this all mapped out, and will guide my steps. It gives me a peace know that its ok to go through all these thoughts and feel overwhelmed and excited all at the same time. My prayer is that in the end, it will be yet another small chapter in the big story of God big love for us.

 

 

 

 

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Lately, every chance I get to go to that little old house, I am flooded by the echoes of the place I took for granted so many years. Each time, I wonder if it should be the last time I get to go there…and each time I see it slowly fading away. Within the walls, the whispers of lives lived can be heard. From celebrations and mournings, giggles and arguments…tell of the joy and pain of family.

Lazy summers spent lying in the cool clover patches watching the cotton clouds float by, while the strange smell of earth and pool water filled my nostrils.Then there was the feeling of cold moist concrete on bare feet as we dared to run down the sidewalk to jump into the pool, when the adults weren’t looking. Even now, I can see my younger self turning the front porch into a stage and my little brother and I chasing a portly blond Chihuahua until we are out of breath. Walking into the old shop I close my eyes, and imagine back when it was full of tools and wood…and the hints of sawdust, oil and paints still hang in the air. I remember those summers spent digging through the box of wood scraps, hoping to find the perfect pieces for building swords.

All these things (and so much more), I hope to remember for as long as I live, even if they bring tears to my eyes. One day, I hope my home, no matter where it might be, will bring similar memories to my kids and their kids. I pray that they will have memories that will bring to mind all the things about love and family as I do. There is such joy in these things, even as I mourn the changes of life. God, help me to not take anything for granted again.

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Of Grace…

One of the things that have been on my mind lately is God’s grace.  I would be lying if I said I understood it, but thankfully I don’t have to understand it to receive it!

 It’s been one of those things I have struggled with for so long, wrestling with my own worth, my own pains. I had a hard enough time accepting love from people, much less God. The more I think about it, the more I realized that was probably one of the triggers for my depression. As I spend more time with Him, getting to know Him, I am (very) slowly learning to accept His love and growing in confidence of who He created me to be. There are times when it all “clicks” and other times it’s tough to let go of the old thoughts.

I spent so much time trying to fit in to what I thought would help me accept God’s grace. Sometimes it was being apart of certain denominations. Other times it was looking a certain way or believing in one (or more! ) particular standards or “passions”.  Then there were instances of saying and doing the right things, so that by some mystical formula I would be able to feel and live in His grace. My prayer these past few years has been, “Father, please help me to truly accept Your love, without trying to earn it. Help me to unlearn the bad habits and teachings I have picked up over the years.”

The beautiful thing is that I don’t deserve grace. I don’t deserve to be loved…but He loves me passionately anyway. Just like I still love my kids when they mess up, He loves me even more than I can even fathom. I don’t have to wear certain clothes, I don’t have to go to a particular church. I don’t have to jump through hoops for Him to give it to me. He loved me before I was ever born…before I was ever conceived.  He knew when and where I would be on this earth, and He knew every heartache I would have. He knows everything I will do, yet He loves me anyway.  I still don’t understand, and I still struggle with accepting it…but thank God He is patient and loves regardless

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It seems that every time I leave from my Grandma’s I have to fight tears for the next hour or so. I can’t tell you how hard it is to drive away to her frail body standing on her porch watching us drive off. I can hardly remember a time she wasn’t standing there when we left, the only difference then was a taller, stronger (physically), and younger Grandma. Even now, I am crying, because I know all too well that as old as she is, she has few days left. It could be tomorrow or in the next year or two, but not many more.

I find myself wanting to spend every day I can, even if I have to hear her read all the side effects that her meds may cause, or even if I have to hear the same story 15 times. To hear the nuggets of our family history and the ups and downs of her and Grandpa’s 50 year marriage are priceless. The look of pride on her face when she hears how far I have come in the last couple of years means more to me than anyone can ever know. How my heart aches when she hints at how lonely she is, or when she confesses she ventured out for a drive (even though I know full well she probably has no business going alone anyhow). I can’t tell you how much I dread losing her, but know that one day I will see her, and she will be the stronger, healthier Grandma I remember alongside my Grandpa who has been waiting on her to join him up there.

The elderly have a special place in my heart. I used to be annoyed when I was a cashier in high school, when an old person would take forever or chit chat my ear away. I had lessons to learn though losing my Grandpa to cancer, watching my Grandma stay by his side almost every second, and working as a CNA at a nursing home and home health. It was there God showed me how to truly serve others, while preparing them for the next phase of life, physical death. Here are these people, piled into nursing homes, alone at home, where ever, and they are forgotten. These people have AMAZING stories to tell, wisdom to pass on, and love to give if we would only stop long enough.

Our lives are truly not that busy, and we should not be making excuses. Yes, it’s emotionally draining, and it’s going to hurt to see them so frail. But my oldest daughter’s observation makes my heart warm, “Grandma sure likes to give BIG kisses on the cheek!” I am so thankful that my older 2 will be able to remember their Great Grandma clearly, and my youngest will probably have bits and pieces of memories, but most of all they will remember her love for them. I hope when I am old that I will have as much love for everyone as she does, but with one difference to not be so alone.

People, Life is too short. I know that there are several of my friends who know this too well. I don’t care how old your loved ones are, this moment could be their last. Don’t wait to spend time with them. Don’t wait to listen to them. And most of all don’t forget the elderly. Spend time with those you love, and not just your kids. Never grow too old for Grandma’s big hugs and kisses either, because I sure haven’t…

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The more I have reflected on serving and what God’s call might be in my life, I find myself realizing that serving in church is easy.  It’s when you start hearing God call you beyond what is comfortable where it gets hard.

The past couple of weeks I have been diving into books written by people I want to be like.  My ultimate goal is to be like Christ, but there are people who are striving to be like Him too, and I am learning so much! My friends on FB and in real life probably get sick of me mentioning Shane Claiborne, and now Mother Teresa, but there are is much to be gleaned from their lives. I also look forward to whoever God leads me to read about next! The more I read about them, the more I realize that I should be doing more…not that I should add another activity to my serving schedule at church, but that I should be concentrating on doing small things with great love. I should be striving to see Jesus in everyone, and reaching out to the hurting, to the outcasts, and whoever else God brings my way.

That’s all easy in theory. I struggle with knowing how short I come to truly loving my neighbor. I know that I cannot be perfect, and that I will mess up, but I want to be so much better! I find myself avoiding people that probably need me (or better worded, Jesus in me). Or looking the other way. Or thinking of how much better I am. Sometimes I don’t even realize it until after it’s all said and done! Then I end up talking with God, admitting how awful I am, and thankful He is patient and loving. He is ever working on me, helping me be more aware of my shortcomings so I can work on those areas.

Just this morning, He reminded me that I am still resisting Him. For the past 2 years, He has really wanted me to trust Him (ok maybe my whole life! lol). He picked me up when I was cast aside, and held me at some of the loneliest moments I have experienced. He revealed His love to me and delivered me from depression and anxiety. He has provided for me and my children financially and emotionally. There is so much, and yet I hold back. I still hold on, wanting to stay in control. But then there is the other part of my heart wanting to let go. I am thankful that I am more aware of that tug of war in my heart…because I think not having that awareness is worse. At least I know so I can pray about it specifically. I don’t know why I feel like I can’t fully trust Him, He is good, and would never hurt me. Maybe it’s because I feel so unworthy to be used by Him…I don’t know.

What I do know is God is calling me to something so much bigger than my life. There are still a bunch of unknowns, but I do know that He is calling me to let the rejected and outcasts know that He loves them. I have brief glimpses of part of it, but there is an overwhelming feeling of how broad it could be. I know that God has filled my heart with such compassion and the desire to help people…even since I was a child! And now, I know trusting God is going to be an important part of this call.

I have to admit that I am a bit scared and excited…kinda like a wild roller coaster ride. I am praying about all of it, and reading all I can. I am also being faced with my own insecurities and faults. I know that my call will be relational…which means risk. For me I will have to risk getting hurt again by people in general, and that’s pretty much a guarantee. I will have to risk people misunderstanding me, and I will have to be secure in my identity in Christ. I have to weigh how it may affect my family, and make sure whatever I do, is what He wants me to do. There is so much to consider and I have to be careful not to let considerations paralyze me with inaction.  All I know is that I want to love on people with the love God has given me, so by doing so I pass on His love, so that they may one day do the same.

Here is a passage I read by Mother Teresa in No Greater Love

Who is Jesus to me?

Jesus is the Word made flesh.

Jesus is the Bread of Life.

Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the the cross.

Jesus is the sacrifice offered at holy Mass for the sins of the world and for mine.

Jesus is the Word to be spoken.

Jesus is the truth to be told.

Jesus is the way to be walked.

Jesus is the light to be lit.

Jesus is the life to be lived

Jesus is the love to be loved.

Jesus is the joy to be shared.

Jesus is the peace to be given.

Jesus is the hungry to be fed.

Jesus is the thirsty to be satiated.

Jesus is the naked to be clothed.

Jesus is the homeless to be taken in.

Jesus is the sick to be healed.

Jesus is the lonely to be loved.

Jesus is the unwanted to be wanted.

Jesus is the leper to wash His wounds.

Jesus is the beggar to give Him a smile.

Jesus is the drunkard to listen to Him.

Jesus is the mentally ill to protect Him.

Jesus is the little one to embrace Him.

Jesus is the blind to lead Him.

Jesus is the dumb to speak for Him.

Jesus is the crippled to walk with Him.

Jesus is the drug addict to befriend Him.

Jesus is the prostitute to remove from danger and befriend Her.

Jesus is the prisoner to be visited.

Jesus is the old to be served.

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