Letting God

Lillyann taught a funny little lesson on letting go of what I want and letting God give me what He has in mind, which is always much better. I am learning that differentiation, or letting go, isn’t about losing love. It’s about letting God get rid of all that keeps me from loving as He desires. Fusion is unhealthy and causes feelings that do not belong in my heart. God knows when I truly do let go of  that which I cannot have, He can give me what He desires. He literally used a very sweet example to teach me that as we celebrated Tyler’s thirty-second birthday.

We had just finished our meal and Lillyann wanted the little gummy bunnies she usually has for dessert. She went to where I keep them and got a pack. I told her that we had a very special dessert planned.  Gina had made Tyler a wonderful chocolate mint birthday cake, and I had chocolate mint ice cream to go with it.  Lillyann’s favorite ice cream in the world is chocolate mint chip, so I knew she would quickly put those gummy bears right back where she got them. Instead, she began to wail and say she didn’t want birthday cake, she wanted gummy bunnies!!

Tyler stepped in and told her that she was not getting either if she didn’t put the snack back. Her wailing got louder! He started to count; when he got to two, she turned off the waterworks and behaved as if nothing had happened. I had to grin and think how like her I am when it comes to what I want and what God has in mind for me. God had gotten to two with me the week before when I pitched a fit with Him about what I wanted and how unfair it was that I couldn’t have it! I am so thankful He used humor rather than fear to teach the lesson I so needed to hear.

As Lillyann looked at the rare and beautiful treat, she squealed with delight and ate heartily. With her mouth full and face covered, she chatted away about how wonderful it was. We all looked at one another and laughed out loud! No one mentioned that she almost settled for gummy bunnies, but I was thinking of how much I miss or almost miss that God has for me because I stubbornly hold on to my desires. I seek immediate gratification and think I know what’s best for me instead of trusting God who has something wonderful in mind.

I have never tasted a cake as delicious as the one Gina made, and the fact that she wanted to make something special for Tyler had a lot to do with it’s amazing taste. God showed me that His plan for me is much better than mine. He will amaze me even more than mommy amazed Lillyann and all of us with the special birthday treat. If I go with want I want, I’ll miss out completely on what He has in mind. I’ll get gummy bunnies instead of a cake lovingly prepared and topped with ice cream!

God placed Henri Nouwen in the path to finish the lesson before I went to sleep.  “True love between two human beings puts you more in touch with your deepest self. It is a love in God. The pain you experience from the death or absence of the person you love, then, always calls you to a deepest knowledge of God’s love. God’s love is all the love you need, and it reveals to you the love of God in the other. So the God in you can speak to the God in the other. This is deep speaking to deep, a mutuality in the heart of God, who embraces both of you.” (The Only Necessary Thing) Wow! No wonder I slept like a baby. His healing is beyond what I can understand, and His love is more powerful than I will be able to imagine until I am in heaven. Till then, I look forward to drawing nearer to Him and to those I love as I answer His call for a deeper love of His Word and a closer walk through intimate prayer. So thankful for a patient, loving Father.

 

Calling Out to God

Calling out to God is my way of making sure He is still there.  I know that sounds silly, but maybe Lillyann can help me explain what I mean. She spent the night with me the week before her third birthday and woke up at three in the morning. She came into my room quietly asking “Gigi?”  I assured her I was there and  put her in bed with me. She snuggled closely and fell right back to sleep. She didn’t need anything. She wasn’t scared, and she really knew I was there.  She wanted to check and  make sure, but more importantly, she wanted to be near me.  I  lay there for a long time holding her, listening to her breathe, and thinking of how much I love her and how glad I was that she was next to me. It made me think of praying.  I pray often and love to be in God’s presence.  I know it makes Him feel the same way I do when Lillyann comes looking for me.

I call out to God in a variety of ways many times a day and often whisper “God?” around three in the morning myself when I wake and need company or reassurance. I cry out when I’m hurting, argue when I’m angry, plead when I’m scared,  ask a quiet question when I’m confused, or whisper a soft thank you when I’m happy.  Like Lillyann, I just need to know He is there. Calling out comforts no matter what circumstances surround me. His presence is all I ever need and wonder why I pray for anything else.  The desire to be with God is the center of my relationship with Him and with others. God is the ultimate loving presence.  Pastor John continues to remind me that I can be such a presence in the lives of those I love.  It truly is all we can be or do in this world.  So simple yet so very difficult for me at times.

I’ve learned many lessons in love over the course of my life, but those lessons have became more intense in the three years after mama’s death.  God sees my potential and beauty, and His love helps me see both in myself and others if I reach out in love. What a difference it makes when I find the courage to risk reaching into the hearts of others and into my own to find the love God has in mind for me. Finding that love is the point of my journey.

A great friend is one who knows me at my very worst but still sees and loves the very best in me. That level of love changes me and allows me to experience kingdom love now. God not only loves me that way, He shows me how to love the same way.  Just as I go to God when I am, hurting, troubled, or just out of options, I can go to a friend who hears and understands my heart. It isn’t easy to open up and expose my feelings.  It’s why I preferred those cages for so long.  I could hide and pretend all was well, but I wasn’t able to love as God desires.  Love and truth go together and cannot be separated. Honest communion combined with love,  allows me to walk in God’s kingdom now.  I believe children understand kingdom love and walk in God’s kingdom until we teach them not to reach out, not to open up, and not to trust.

I think of myself at Lillyann’s age and wonder how it is possible for anyone to take out their frustrations on someone so tiny and vulnerable. I am struck by how fragile  Lillyann’s little body is next to mine. She trusts me to love and care for her. The thought of hurting her is beyond me, and I would die keeping someone from hurting her. I thank God she and Mylah are surrounded by those who love and cherish them. The beauty of being re-begotten is that it means to get a new Father, one who draws me near when I find myself alone or fearful. A Father I can cry out to in the darkness and trust Him to hold me closely until my fear subsides. I am loved in a way that allows me to be who He sees in me. Through reaching out and loving, I am able to see beauty and potential as it is reflected in God’s heart and through the hearts of those sweet friends He places in my path.

Flave’s Field

Granddaddy Holden’s farm was located near Brevard in Transylvania County, North Carolina. The soil in Flave’s field was a sight to behold.  The black, rich dirt would grow anything, and God used that image to teach me an important lesson.  I’ve always seen myself as a potted plant, a spindly one at that, but God sees me as a fertile open field. Flave Holden’s farm still stirs powerful childhood memories and is a perfect example of  the kind of growth God has in mind for my heart. Daddy used to tell us that you couldn’t leave a hoe or shovel out in granddaddy’s field overnight because there would be two of each when you woke up the next morning. The richness of the soil in his field was due, in part, to the fact that it was nestled next to the French Broad River and the Pisgah National Forest. His was unlike any other garden I’ve ever seen.  Flave was a Baptist preacher, a farmer, and the biggest kid I ever knew.  He loved to play, and I loved him.  He always had a smile on his face, wore thick glasses and was a very big man.  There was a silent strength in him that comes from one who has deep faith in God.  He loved to play the piano and sing hymns with abandon.  We learned to follow along as he played the shape-note hymns we grew to love. I followed him around like little puppy when I visited his farm. 

I once caught him in a very private moment that gave me a glimpse at the love he had for the land God had given him.  Granddaddy didn’t know I was watching as he looked lovingly at a the black rich dirt he was crumbling in his big hand.  As the dirt fell, I sensed that this field was more than a place to grow food. He loved that dirt and what it represented. It was life itself and connected him to his God in a way that I am only now beginning to understand.  He knew God was the giver of life, and he was a good steward of the land God entrusted to him.  He also knew God delighted in watching His children grow as much as he loved to see the vegetables in his garden ripen. Both are well worth the trouble it takes to tend them.

God prefers plants in a field, birds in the open sky, and fish in His waters. We insist upon putting birds in cages, fish in tanks, and flowers in a pot. We so want to contain and control and take His creation and make it our possession. We even attempt to define and limit God. Granddaddy knew who owned the land and gave thanks to God for allowing him to harvest His fruits, both in the field and in the church. Unlike Flave, I’ve always gravitated toward a cage, a tank, or a flowerpot. My heart didn’t venture into open spaces. There is safety and security in a cage, so fear kept me from allowing my heart to accept the kind of love that grows in the open. My witness suffered because of my inability to open my life and my heart in the way God desires. Love and truth go hand in hand, and neither can be contained.

The image of Flave’s field blesses me in ways I can’t describe, just as I am unable to explain the beautiful way God communicates with me. So patient, so kind, so loving, but most importantly, so aware of who I am and how I hear and learn. That is the most beautiful blessing of all. God knows me, loves me, and helps me love Him and others as I’ve never dared to love before.  We each love God in a different way. I’ve learned to focus upon my relationship with God. I cannot tell others how to love Him. I can simply let them see how I love Him. That is what witnessing is all about. When a friend is hurting, I can only listen and love. I need not do anything. A loving presence is more than enough and models what God does for me. Pastor John has been trying to teach me that powerful truth for a very long time. I am only beginning to understand the concept.

God is the Master Gardener and will provide all I need to grow into His disciple if I will simply yield my will and let Him do the tending. He sees potential in me just as Flave saw all that dirt would yield as it ran through his fingers. The fruit of Flave’s field filled our table as we carried home carloads of the delicious vegetables it produced.  I especially loved the fall when his apple trees were full of ripe fruit.  There was nothing quite like the soft pink apples that grew in front of his home or the big white mushy ones that grew near the barn. Knowing God loves me and wants me to be the fruit of His Spirit humbles me and changes the way I live and love. It gives my heart the same feeling of freedom I found on Flave’s farm. A yielding field allows the Gardener’s plow to break and take away all that hinders growth. God’s plow has cut deeply at times, but the results have been well worth the pain.

Birds of a Feather

I want to share a beautiful memory of mama.  I said goodbye to her on July 5, 2009. Mama and I are birds of a feather.  Our journeys are forever woven together. She and I share a bond beyond mother and daughter; we are kindred spirits with similar hearts. Here’s a glimpse at Mary Sue Holden. She is a powerful part of my journey,  so I want you to get to know her a little better.  She never drove a car or worked outside the home, but she made our house a home and loved me dearly. She was my first taste of love in this world, and the way I love has a lot to do with the way she loved me.

Lillyann and Mylah remind me of her all the time. I know she would love them dearly because she loved all her grandchildren and great grandchildren dearly. She once told me that you haven’t lived until you have a grandchild. I agree wholeheartedly.  I loved mama dearly while she was with me; I love her even more now, and I know I will love her in a way I can’t imagine when I join her in heaven:)

Mama always makes me think of birds. She was fascinated by them in a way I’ve never known anyone else to be. She also loved Mig, a black lab she had as a child. She asked frequently during the last year if her life, if Mig would be in heaven.  Mama was like a child in so many ways, and she was truly concerned about seeing Mig again.  I told her that I wasn’t sure all the people I thought would be in heaven would be there, but I was sure that Mig would be:) That made her smile and reassured her as she prepared to go home. My father tolerated no pets other than birds in his house, so mama had birds when we were growing up. She fed wild birds, watched birds from the kitchen window, and had birds in the house. Mother loved her birds and would, much to the frustration of my father, let them out of their cages. She would talk to them while they sat on her finger or rode on her shoulder.

Those birds, especially Pete, loved mama because she delighted in them and would sing  when they sat on her shoulder. Pete was a green parakeet who flew at the sound of daddy’s voice, but he would sit on mama’s shoulder for hours and look longingly at her and sing happily. Daddy was always trying to capture Pete and insisted that he stay in his cage. Pete knew mama enjoyed his company, and he loved her. They both ignored daddy! Pete and his companion Repeat would stay out of reach when he was around. I think part of mama’s attraction to the birds was the fact they were a source of frustration to daddy!

Like mama and her birds, God gives us the freedom to sit in the palm of His hand and looks at us with delight when we love Him and sing along. We must choose to get out of our cages and sit in the palm of His hand if we are to find the peace He desires for us to find in life. The cage is a safe place where we think we will find security, so is hard for us to leave it unless we get Pete’s attitude. He had no trouble getting out of that cage and got to the point where he would squawk until we let him out. Daddy finally learned that if he would be very still and talk lovingly to Pete, he would sit on his finger too:)

I love thinking about mama and her birds, I miss her so very much. I went into a tail spin the week mama died. The world didn’t make sense anymore; I lost my bearings and was more out of balance than ever in my life. I was hurting, but God offered this beautiful image a few weeks after her death to help me see the importance of getting away from the cages in my life.  You don’t have to be in the cage to be held captive. Pete and Repeat were examples of that. Getting out of the cage inside the house is great, but flying outside in the open is something my heart has only recently experienced. I know God will continue to show me His way and help me get where He wants me to go. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (KJ) “Be still” would be the only tattoo I can imagine myself ever getting. The verse is tattooed on my heart, and I am beginning to understand what it means. It’s so hard for me to be still, but I pray  I will get better so I can hear and heed and obey in a way that blesses and glorifies God. He is to be exalted! He is God after all, and that is something I keep forgetting as I try to do things on my own, slip inside another cage, or settle for flying around inside the house. God prefers the open air, and I’ve been enjoying it a lot myself lately:)

A Deep Breath of God’s Love

Messages to Mylah

1/6/12

A Deep Breath of God’s Love

Acts 19:1-7  NASB

Now, it happened that while Apollos was away in Corinth, Paul made his way down through the mountains, came to Ephesus, and happened on some disciples there. The first thing he said was, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?” “We’ve never even heard of that—a Holy Spirit? God within us?””How were you baptized, then?” asked Paul.”In John’s baptism.””That explains it,” said Paul. “John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you’ve been baptized in John’s baptism, you’re ready now for the real thing, for Jesus.”And they were. As soon as they heard of it, they were baptized in the name of the Master Jesus. Paul put his hands on their heads and the Holy Spirit entered them. From that moment on, they were praising God in tongues and talking about God’s actions. Altogether there were about twelve people there that day.

I love these beautiful scriptures, Mylah, and I hope you will love them too. Paul knew Jesus was the real thing, and he also knew that breathing in the Holy Spirit is what makes Jesus real in our lives.  Spirit means breath, and that’s what this message is all about.

You were not breathing when you were arrived in this world, sweet Mylah. I was at my home with your big sister Lillyann, so I did not see Tyler’s face when he realized you were not breathing. Mere told me that tears were streaming down his face, and your poor mommy was desperate to know what was happening. The doctors quickly cut the cord, took it from around your neck, and whisked you from the room. All held their breath collectively as they waited for you to breathe for the first time.

Nothing is more comforting than taking a deep breath of fresh air after you’ve momentarily lost it. Sometimes our breath is taken away; sometimes we suffer from asthma or some other condition that keeps us from breathing. Your breath wasn’t taken away, but your first breath was delayed. I suffered from asthma after being exposed to black mold, so I understand the fear that comes from not being able to breathe. It is a feeling of utter helplessness and more frightening than anything I have ever experienced. I know what your daddy felt when he realized you couldn’t breathe was far worse and cannot imagine what must have been going through his heart and mommy’s.

God feels the same pain when we don’t accept His Holy Spirit. It breaks His heart to see us without His love and gasping in vain for something to fill the emptiness. I thank God for your first breath, and I thank Him for every breath you have taken since. Each time I hold you, I take in a deep breath of God’s love, smile, and thank Him.

God is love, and the Holy Spirit is God’s breath. Christ gives His Spirit to comfort us while He is with God. Christ promises He will never leave us; He, the Holy Spirit, and God are One. The Holy Spirit lives within us and fills us with the most beautiful sense of peace imaginable. We are one with God and with one another when we love as He loves. The peace, love, and joy He gives cannot be described, but it can be felt. It’s a difficult concept for expert theologians to tackle sweet Mylah, so just remember breath gives life, and God’s breath makes life worth living. The Holy Spirit gives a new way of breathing and living. A life, as Pastor John would say, worth living forever:)

God gives me beautiful images as He teaches because He knows I’m a visual learner. I hope to pass those lessons along to you, your sister, and others. The image this morning was the most amazing one yet. I say that each time God gives an image, and I pray I never get accustomed to them or take them for granted.

At two this morning, God woke me with a simple illustration. I put a Breathe Right strip on my nose before going to bed because the workout earlier was a tough one that left me a winded and wheezy. I keep the strips and Benedryl handy just in case I have trouble breathing. I rarely use them and keep them mostly as a security blanket. I don’t like those sticky strips and end up taking them off during the night. When I woke this morning, I got rid of the strip and rolled over expecting to go right back to sleep. God had other plans.

The image was Christ breathing God’s love into me and then bidding me to breathe deeply. As I took deep breaths, comfort surrounded me. Breathing is something I try not to take for granted. Each time I get wheezy, I panic and remember the mold that literally took my breath away. This image was about taking my breath away and replacing it with God’s sweet breath of love. As I lay there breathing deeply, I felt God’s presence in the most intimate way, as if we were sharing the same breath. As with all His images, I am frustrated in my attempts to describe what I don’t have words to describe.

The fruit of the Spirit is love was the message. That goes right along with the sweet lessons this week and reminds me of Galatians 5:22. God wasn’t finished and continued to bid me to get rid of my breath and breathe in His. The love of His Spirit gives joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control when we take our breath away, pray for the Spirit’s help, and breathe deeply. When I emptied my lungs and breathed deeply, something wonderful happened. Each breath became a prayer.

I’m lonely Lord, but I don’t want to be. Spirit, take away my loneliness. I inhaled deeply and felt the loneliness disappear as love filled the space.

I’m sad Lord, but I don’t want to be. Spirit, take away my sadness. I inhaled deeply and felt the sadness disappear as joy filled the space.

I’m frightened Lord, but I don’t want to be. Spirit, take away my fear. I inhaled deeply and felt the fear disappear as peace filled the space.

I don’t want to wait Lord, but I know I must. Spirit take away my impatience. I inhaled deeply and felt my impatience disappear as patience filled the space.

I’m angry Lord, but I don’t like the feeling. Spirit, take away my anger. I inhaled deeply and felt the anger disappear as kindness and goodness filled the space.

I don’t trust you Lord, and I know I should. Spirit, help me to trust completely. I inhaled deeply and felt my worry disappear as faithfulness filled the space.

I want to be in control Lord, but I know that I am not. Spirit, take away my need to control. I inhaled deeply and felt gentleness fill the space as I let go of my need to control.

I have feelings I should not have Lord, and I know they get in Your way. Spirit, help me to do the right thing. I inhaled deeply and felt my lack of control disappear as self-control filled the space. I knew I could obey in a new and beautiful way.

Each time I took my breath away, cleared space for His, and let the Holy Spirit fill that space, I felt a sense of intimacy with the Trinity that was better than anything I’ve felt before. Eugene Peterson calls it the Trinitarian dance. I have never been closer to God than at two this morning. I thank God for the early morning dance that took my breath away and filled me as I have never been filled before. I thank Him for bringing me to the place of breathlessness that allowed me to remember the panic of not being able to breathe. It helped me appreciate the sweet lesson and the beautiful image. We need to breathe deeply, and we need to pray deeply too. We need to pray as often as we breathe because prayer is more essential to life than breathing.

As I write this message, sweet precious Mylah, I humbly recall that you arrived in this world not breathing. I cannot type or think that without crying tears of gratitude to God for giving you that first sweet breath. That image will always remind me not to take love for granted. Enjoy each breath Mylah and never take a single one for granted. Take a deep breath of God’s love, know that you are loved, and love with all your heart. God does indeed promise to love you always, and so do I. Each time I hold you, I smile, thank God you are breathing, and take a deep breath of God’s precious love.

My Love Always, Gigi:)

In Love’s Wake

Messages for Mylah

10/18/2011

“In Love’s Wake”

You are growing so quickly sweet Mylah, and I delight in holding you. You, Lillyann, mommy, and daddy met me at the Cork & Bean for lunch on Sunday, and you were just adorable. You slept most of the time, but you were awake long enough to know that you were surrounded by love. The folks in the cafe were all staring at you, and a sweet little boy about the same age as your big sister came over and just stood and looked at you. His parents made him come back to their table, but I told them that he wasn’t bothering us. I know how he feels; I can’t stop looking at you either. You are so very beautiful as is your big sister. You look like her and your beautiful mommy, but you also remind me so much of your sweet daddy when he was little.

My first Letter to Lillyann was about a special time at the Cork & Bean when she was one. This letter is not about a special time at the cafe, even though it was a beautiful time together. It’s another message about love. This time the scriptures that inspired me where from Exodus 33:12-23. They describe a time when Moses asked God to let him see His glory. God’s glory is something we are not able to look upon, and His face is too much for our tiny minds to absorb. God told Moses that He would put him on a rock and cover his face with His own hand as He passed by so Moses could see His goodness. That was more than enough for Moses, and He was reassured that God was with him and would always be with him.

Exodus 33:12-23 NASB

12 Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.” 14 And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. 16 For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?” 17 The LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.” 18 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” 19 And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” 21 Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”

God will always be with you Mylah; that is His promise and His Son’s promise. God provides His Spirit to accompany us on this beautiful journey. Moses was able to see the wake that followed God. I create a wake when I travel through this world.  As I love, I enter the lives of those in my path and leave an impression on their hearts. Just as a boat, truck, plane, train, or any other moving body leaves a wake, so do I. Love opens the heart the same way a boat splits the water. How my love affects another depends upon many things. Love sometimes hurts and cuts deeply into my heart. I may love with abandon and find myself abandoned. I can feel what isn’t love at all. I can miss love completely because I’m not paying attention. There is no way to guard my heart in the wake of others except to trust it to God and let Him help me discern the truth. True love enters unexpectedly and leaves an impression upon my heart that lasts for eternity. God’s love enters my heart when I accept the love He so beautifully offers in His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ comes into my heart and helps me understand love and all it can be. He sends His Holy Spirit to stay in my heart and bring comfort during those times when it is broken.

I wish I could say your heart will never be broken sweet Mylah, but that would not be true. I love with my whole heart, and my heart has been broken several times. Each time, it comes away a little stronger and better able to love again. This has been a difficult year for my heart. I was caught in the wake of one who hurt me very deeply last week. I am thankful God showed me the truth even though it hurt me. I am also glad you and sweet Lillyann are here to help my heart heal and grow in new directions. God showed me what true love is this year, so I will never accept less now that I have a new gauge to help measure love. You are surrounded by love, so your name is fitting.  Your mommy made up your name, so you are the only Mylah I’ve ever known. I hope you will always remember that your name means you are loved always. Don’t settle when it comes to love. I used to think I didn’t deserve to be loved. I know better now thanks to God’s sweet Spirit. I hope you will always know better:]

My Love Always, Gigi:)

You Are Loved

Messages for Mylah

5/15/11

You Are Loved

I heard your name for the first time last month, and it is absolutely perfect for you. It means My Love Always. You are loved by many sweet Mylah. Your middle name, Isabella, means God’s promise. God’s love never fails, and He promises His love always. People may disappoint when it comes to love and your expectations, but you can always count on God and His promises.

I began writing letters to your big sister, Lillyann, in April, 2010. I wanted to do something different for you. I am leaving my work in the church office in September, a few weeks before you are expected to arrive. God is calling me to write, pray, and study. I also want to spend time with you and Lillyann. While I am not sure where the journey will take me as I go in this new direction, I know God has amazing plans for all of us.

I began studying 1 Peter two weeks ago. I had a very bad attitude when it came to Peter. I saw him as hard-headed and not giving Mary enough credit. I thought he had a bad attitude toward women. When I took the time to get to know him better, I learned that I was wrong. That is always the case when I judge someone before I truly know them.

Peter taught me about love and brought me closer to God, so I will always have a special place in my heart for him. I am not only loved, I am called to love. Peter learned about God’s love and, like me, he did it the hard way. That’s another reason he captured my heart; we have a lot in common in that regard.

1 Peter 1:17-23 NASB

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times forthe sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

If I were asked to sum up God’s Word in one word, it would be love. The Old Testament says God is love; the New Testament says Jesus loves me, and together they represent a beautiful living love letter written just for me. God’s love is something Peter knew first-hand, up close, and personally. He is the rock upon which Christ built His church, and he holds the keys to heaven’s gate. I’ve always thought of that as a position of power. One who stood at the door and decided who got in and who didn’t. Many feel the same way, but that’s not what Peter does. Peter knows the key to entering God’s kingdom, whether here or after we die, is accepting God’s love. He could not keep that wonderful knowledge to himself and knew that I couldn’t either once I got a taste of God’s love. Peter understood the rock upon which God’s church would be founded was Christ’s perfect love. There is nothing in this world more powerful than love. When I realize that beautiful truth, everything changes. I learn I can walk in God’s Kingdom now.

Peter tells new believers that God’s plan has always been in place. He knew before He formed the world that it would take His love to make it work. He begs us to love one another as if nothing else matters. The problem with love is that it involves trust. I have a problem with that because trusting involves being vulnerable. Peter is trying to get me to understand that God is different, and His love is unlike anything I’ve ever known. God sacrificed His only Son to give me access to that special love.

I am called to live a new life and love differently. My love must reflect God’s. Christ is a living, breathing example of God’s love. By giving me a connection to the Holy Spirit, Christ makes the impossible possible. My heart is turned upside down, and my world changes as a result of the change that takes place in my heart. I am re-begotten; that means more than simply born again. It means that I have a new father. My new Father is Love, and Christ offers a perfect example of God’s love in human form. He asks that I be a witness of His love, and He gives the Holy Spirit to help me carry out His commission.

God is love, and God’s Word is love. Christ lives out God’s love in an amazing way, and the Holy Spirit enables me to do the same. That’s what Peter is trying to tell me as He reminds me that my new life is conceived in the very heart of God!! How can I hear that and not be affected? Easily. My heart must mature before I am able to understand what God’s love truly means for me and His world. Love must be received; it cannot be forced upon another. God will not force me to love Him. If He did, the very nature of His love would be destroyed. Peter tells me what the prophets said about my old life being as short-lived as grass and wildflowers, but God’s love and His Word last forever.

The beautiful news is that I do not have to wait until I die to receive God’s love. In fact, if I do wait, I miss the opportunity to share God’s love with others. Peter knows the point of God’s love is to share it with others. Love and sharing go together, and that goes against human nature. I guard my heart and hold tightly to those I love out of fear. Kingdom love differs in that regard; the more I love, the more I am loved. God’s love is a love meant to be shared with abandon. Selfish love never survives, and Kingdom love will not survive unless it is shared. That’s the beautiful difference Peter is trying to show me.

In the realm of human love, sharing may mean adultery and infidelity. It means children leaving home and starting new lives with new loved ones. I hold tightly to those I love out of fear of losing them. Fear causes fusion, and fusion results in breaking because even human love does not fare well when held captive. God refuses to fuse. Unfortunately, old habits keep us from loving as God desires. I take God’s love and try to conform it and Him. God is the Great I AM. He is Who He Is, and that is what the family systems literature would call self-differentiation. In order to love as He loves, I must follow His example and become who He created me to be. Christ follows God’s beautiful example and remains true to Himself all the way to the cross. When I am who I am meant to be and accept others as they are, I begin to see the beauty of God’s plan for love. Love cannot be contained or held down. Our fear results in the need to control and causes me to miss the kingdom love God so desires for me. It is the love I will have in heaven, and Peter knows I can have it now.

It’s important to understand and accept God’s plan for love and love one another as though our very lives depend upon it. Peter is telling me that it is not only my life, but the lives of others that depend upon it. Peter understood the power of God’s love to transform and had the key to the Kingdom-God’s love. He knew he was loved and wanted everyone to share God’s love. Knowing I am loved changes me and fills me with the desire to be a witness of God’s love. Know that you are loved sweet Mylah and open your heart to the love God has for you. Don’t settle for anything less in this world because it is God’s world, and He allows us to love here on Earth as we will one day love in heaven.

My Love Always, Gigi