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Spiraling Upward

The lessons in spiraling upward helped me understand that it’s okay to go around in circles as long as I edge a little nearer to God with each lap.

Oz and the Tin Man

God used the tin man from The Wizard of Oz and Dewey Bunnell’s song The Tin Man to teach a powerful lesson this morning. I suppose the release of the movie this week had something to do with the vivid image and sweet song God used to teach His lesson in love. I marvel at how He uses everything in my path if I stop long enough to listen and learn.

I love The Tin Man and hearing it this morning was a blessing. The melody caught me and lifted me up beautifully. Rising up was the image Dewey Bunnell had when writing those lyrics. God’s used the image of spiraling upward a great deal during the past year, so I smiled when I read the author’s comments about his song, ’Spinning round, round, round, smoke glass stain bright colors…’–that’s all just purely kaleidoscopic imagery. The melody definitely dictated those words, because it was a swirling, rising thing.” Sounds like spiraling upward to me.

Take a moment to read the words and listen to the song written by Dewey Bunnell

The Tin Man

Sometimes late when things are real

And people share the gift of gab between themselves

Some are quick to take the bait

And catch the perfect prize that waits among the shelves

But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man

That he didn’t, didn’t already have

And Cause never was the reason for the evening

Or the tropic of Sir Galahad.

So please believe in me

When I say I’m spinning round, round, round, round

Smoke glass stain bright color

Image going down, down, down, down

Soapsuds green like bubbles.

The beauty of poetry, especially when set to music, is that it takes on different meaning based upon the heart of the individual listening. The same is true when it comes to God. I can certainly relate to the tin man because I’ve spent a lifetime searching for my heart. God reminded me this morning that it’s right where it’s always been, inside of me. God doesn’t give me anything I don’t already have. Christ brings His sweet Spirit into my life so I can see who He created me to be. My heart’s journey has been a difficult one, but I’ve finally come to a place of spinning upward. Those old images are going down, down, down as my heart spirals up, up, up. Like Sir Galahad searching for the Holy Grail, it isn’t about the Cause; it’s about the result.

As long as I am in this world, my heart will continue to be broken. It’s what happens to hearts when they love. The tin man was strong on the outside and had a perpetual smile. I’ve been there myself, but I’m glad God cracked opened that hard shell and exposed the soft, pliable heart that has always been inside. The tin man’s famous line, “If I only had a heart” is replaced with “I only have a heart.” The lesson for me this morning was it’s all I’ve ever needed, and I’ve had it all along. That heavy tin is on the ground where it belongs, and it feels great to finally be rid of it!

This is my 361st post, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence Coming full circle takes on a new meaning as I begin to spin upward.

Compete or Complete

Lillyann is four and getting her first taste of competition as she learns to play soccer. Yesterday, at practice, she didn’t take the ball away once and told her mommy on the ride home, “ I don’t like taking…I love everyone and it’s not nice to take!” Would that the world had her attitude about playing together and that her attitude would extend to sharing toys:)  We teach children to play nicely and then tell them it’s okay to forget those rules when competing. All’s fair in love and war applies to sports and to worship.

Christians, unfortunately, fall into the same patterns of competing against one another rather than coming together in completing the work Christ began. What should be a loving encounter becomes a fierce competition. I’ve been in groups that focused upon who’s doing the most and working the hardest. Fighting about who’s in charge and who has control takes the focus away from God. The need to be right or in control turns hearts from completing to competing.

I’ve left gatherings feeling just like little Lillyann felt after her soccer practice. Love is lost in competition, but the great news is that it’s found in completion. Last night, I felt a beautiful sense of completion as I sat with a group of women ranging in age from nineteen to ninety-one. There was a powerful connection that gave me a beautiful taste of heaven. Each of us was on a different journey, but we paused for a moment to share our journeys, our love for God, and our love for one another. He was in charge of the meeting, and that completed in a way that helped us move forward, fueled by the love we shared.

Love is about celebrating our differences while sharing our common love of God. It is expressed and experienced differently. Sharing love isn’t about determining who is loving the right way or the most. No two children are alike, and that is often the source of competition within families. Those differences can be seen as a source of division, or they can become the basis for completion. The choice is up to us. God’s family will only be complete when we turn from competing to completing. That requires loving in a way that radically differs from the world. Christ changes my definition of father, home, and family. That changes the way I love and allow myself to be loved.

I am not capable of loving or accepting love as God desires on my own. Christ knows competition is the greatest enemy of wholeness, so He makes sure I have the help I need to move from competing to completing. I wonder how my life and the lives of all Christians would look if we forgot about competing and let God’s love complete as we share it openly and honestly with one another and the world. The glimpse I got last night made me want more, and I pray I will live out God’s love in a way that makes others want the same.

Kissing God

The message yesterday was about the difference between forms of worship and worship itself. Pastor Jeff used the vivid image of kissing to describe our response to God’s love. He explained that giving his wife a kiss every evening is one way to let her know he loves her. He went on to describe how worship can become a routine little kiss if it is only about the kiss. Worship comes in many forms, and love is expressed in a variety of ways. The point of the message was the heart behind the kiss makes all the difference, and the same is true as I worship God. The message opened up a flood gate in my heart that reminded me of the kisses I’ve received and how they reflect the way I’ve worshipped.

As a young teen, I remember my first kiss. It was at a neighborhood party when we were playing spin the bottle. If you’re too young to know that game, I’ll explain. Soft drinks came in glass bottles then, and we would take an empty bottle and place it on the floor. We sat in a circle around the bottle, and some brave soul gave the bottle it’s first spin. When the bottle stopped spinning, the person spinning it had to kiss the person the bottle was pointing to. Baron was spinning, and my heart was pounding. He was so cute, and I was praying that bottle would point to me. When it did, I got my first kiss. It was so sweet and led to a brief, but beautiful little romance. I thank God for those sweet, innocent kisses that made me want to be kissed. God wants to be kissed too, but I’m afraid I’ve not been a very good kisser when it comes to responding to His love. When I think of my very first kisses, I am reminded that sometimes my worship is all about me being kissed.

Sometimes, kissing is simply a stepping stone. I’ve had too many experiences with those kisses. Many were harsh experience that left me feeling emptied and used. Perfunctory kisses are superficial at best and apathetic at worst, and I’ve experienced what seemed a lifetime of them. I’m only kissing you because I have to in order to get what I want. Those kisses are the worst, but I’m sorry to say that I’ve kissed God the very same way. I’m enduring this because I know I have to. When I think about those years of worship, my heart sinks. I did what I had to do, and that is not what love, worship, or kisses should be about.  I’ve had kisses that were filled with passion but still simply a stepping stone. No matter what form the perfunctory kisses take, they still are all about getting what I want. Being on the receiving end of those kisses isn’t pleasant, and I’m sure God completely understands because I’ve kissed Him far too many times with what I want in mind.

The best kiss comes from two hearts filled with love, and there aren’t words to adequately describe the feeling it gives. Fairy tales try to capture the feeling of true love’s kiss, but it cannot be understood until experienced. Kisses that connect hearts heal as nothing else can and leave me wanting everyone to know the feeling. Love no longer is about me. It becomes about the other, and that is what worship is all about. God’s heart is filled with love for all, and magic happens when my heart connects with His. Kissing God is like kissing others; it can be perfunctory or it can be perfect. The choice is mine. It’s always perfect on God’s side, so I’m the one who has to change the way I kiss. When I love God with abandon and join with others to praise and worship Him, it is the ultimate kiss that makes me forget about me and focus upon God and the love He has in mind for His world. As I sat by the fire singing praise songs last night, I was kissing God with abandon. It was an exquisite feeling that left me wanting more. It’s precisely what worship does to the heart.

Giant Lessons From a Little One

Last Sunday on the way home from church, Lillyann and I had the following conversation:

Me: What did you learn about today?

Lillyann: God

Me: What was the story about?

Lillyann: God

Me: Who was in the story?

Lillyann: God!

Me: What did God do in the story?

Lillyann: He picked up three rocks and killed a giant.

Me: Oh, you heard how David killed Goliath

Lillyann: No, God did it!

Lessons from little ones are the most profound, and I needed the message God delivered through little Lillyann. It’s been a week of trying to slay giants on my own, but God reminded me that He had put a very wise little minister in the path before the onslaught. If I had heeded His message on Sunday, my week would have been much easier. Instead, I decided to face fear, guilt, and jealousy on my own and found myself face down on the ground before I remembered Lillyann’s little lesson.

Lillyann knew the story of David and Goliath before Sunday, but she got the greater meaning on Sunday. I knew the greater meaning behind the story, but God reminded of it this week. I have always tried to slay giants and dragons on my own because I preferred to have God watch and then say, “Good girl!!” Lillyann and Mylah both insist on doing things on their own, and I appreciate their desire for independence. I have the same desire myself. It’s great to learn new skills and be independent, but it’s also wonderful to remember that it is God who is working through me. The greatest lesson in independence is knowing that I am totally dependent upon God. That is freeing, and that is at the heart of independence.

The nonsense in Washington and all around this country reminds me of what happens when slaying giants becomes all about getting credit and being right. The left and right have one thing in common. They are killing the country with their agendas. I’m not a red person, and I’m not a blue person. I’m a purple person living in the middle of the mess. The country is being bruised by the rocks flying from both directions, and I’m tired of the folks on both sides claiming to be heros.

David didn’t see himself as a hero. He was simply letting God work through him. That is what a true hero does, and I pray I will remember that. God will take care of the giants in my path if I will let Him do what He does best. I don’t suppose those in Washington will solve their differences until they are able to let go of the need to be right. It is the way of this world to wage war, but the collateral damage is always played out in the lives of those in the middle who are trying to live and love in an imperfect world. God becomes lost in the battle He has already won.

Agendas are like rocks, and they’re flying all around as the country tries to find its balance. I pray we’ll trust God, as did David, to slay those giants looming in the distance. Working together and remembering what is truly important are the smooth stones that will kill those giants.

Lessons in Sharing

Sharing is rarely easy, but it’s far easier to share material possessions than to share my burdens with others. Inviting others into my story means opening my heart to possible hurt and rejection, and that’s more painful than having to do with a little less. Healthy sharing lets others hear my heart. Unhealthy sharing is about dumping my problems on others or holding tightly to them. Like most folks, I’ve had my share of unhealthy sharing with things and my heart. Unhealthy sharing either weighs me down with guilt or leaves me clueless. Both knock my heart off balance.

Sharing as God desires leaves my heart balanced and stronger than ever. When it comes to weight, distribution is the key to balance. The same is true when it comes to sharing burdens. Carrying burdens alone wears me down quickly, but handing it off to someone who will ‘take care of it for me’ is even worse. My son is dealing with his father’s illness, and I’ve watched him share his father’s burdens in a powerful way. Being a loving presence and helping him find his balance has given Tyler a new sense of balance. That’s what healthy sharing does, and I thank God for the lessons we are all learning during this special time of transition.

I hear hope in Tyler’s voice, and I’ve never been more proud of him. Love changes everything, and that is especially true when it comes to relationships and life. Burdens are lightened and loads are are lifted when love enters the picture. Children lift and lighten as no medicine can, and they need be part of the sharing process. Tyler and Gina are allowing the girls to be present in a positive way. That’s healthy sharing, and it creates balance. It is what weight distribution is all about. The joy the girls bring grows as it is shared, and that’s the best sharing of all.

Love’s Seed

Cleansing water rushes

Purging me.

Carried by His current

Letting go of self.

Spirit’s flame consumes

Changing me.

Refined by His fire

Letting go of self.

Fire’s ash settles

Preparing me.

Planted by His hand

Letting go of self.

Love’s seed scatters

Growing me.

Watered by His grace

Holding on to Him.

A Chance for Change

Change is a difficult challenge as I have to choose whether or not to embrace God’s will and let go of mine. Change is necessary to manifest His will, but I must trust God and give Him the chance to change me. Security, my need to control, and pride keep me from changing as God desires. When I am ready to surrender, the Holy Spirit begins a transformation only He can accomplish.

Security is linked to safety, and I cling to what I know in a desperate attempt to remain safe. The irony is that my tendency to stick to the known threatens the very safety I try to protect. I settle for the way things are and convince others I know what I’m doing. The problem comes when trying to convince myself or God.

The chance for change requires leaving my comfort zone and stepping into the unknown. That puts me in a prayerful state of mind and requires faith that God is who He says He is. It’s precisely where I need to be, but exactly where I don’t want to be. Like the Israelites, I complain and ask God why I have to change. I prefer rearranging to real change which requires more reflection than I care to do.

Moving away from the known is extremely difficult, even when I know it is for the best. I stay in terrible situations simply because I worry that I may end up in a worse place if I step out, which shows a lack of faith on my part. I also have to admit I am wrong, and that bruises my pride. Christ was willing to leave heaven and God’s presence to make the single most powerful change this world has ever experienced. If He can do that, surely I can make the simple changes He is asking of me.

Change asks me to surrender and have faith in God. I have to let go of my need to control, and admitting I need God is the first step in that surrender. When I finally let go, God always shows me how pleasant it is to have someone who knows the way take me where I need to go. I would never step off a plane in a foreign country, signal for a taxi, and tell the driver to move over, but I am guilty of doing just that when it comes to God.

Several years ago, I was in San Francisco on a business trip. It was during Chinese New Year. My colleagues and I decided to go to China Town for the festivities. I’ve never seen so many people in one place and soon found myself caught up in a group of revelers dressed in a large red dragon costume. They were setting off firecrackers in front of each store to bring good luck to the owner in the coming year. I started to panic as the fireworks got closer and my colleagues got further away. I was lost in a sea of foreign faces and filled with fear.

When faced with danger, I look for help. When in a ditch, I’m open to suggestions. The challenge of change is having the same attitude without the danger or the ditch. Successful people know the importance of change and are willing to take the risks involved. Like a child in the backseat, I tend to bombard God with questions. When will I get there? How much longer? Where am I? I’m hungry! Can I have a drink? My father responded to those questions with the threat of pulling off the road. God is much gentler, but He makes it clear that I free to go my own way if that’s what I want. God’s patient love lets me wait until I am ready for the changes He has in mind for me.

God could easily take control, but that goes against the nature of love. He loves me too much to force His will on me. Besides, He knows it’s an ineffective method for true change. If I see the second ‘c’ in chance as my need to control, change it to a ‘g’ for God, and give control to Him, I’ll find the joy that comes when I trust and obey Him. Pride and fear keep me from giving God the chance to change me. Pride doesn’t go before the fall when it comes to change; it keeps me from falling back into my faith in God. Falling in faith is a lot like falling in love. I have to just let go and trust God to catch my heart. As I looked at this amazing sunset this evening, I wondered how I could possibly not trust God.

Dorms bring people together in a powerful way, and God taught me the importance of getting a dorm attitude if I am to live and love as He desires. I was working at Western Carolina University several years ago and teaching a class at UNC Asheville. I decided it would be more convenient to stay in the dorm during the week and not hassle with the hour commute twice a day. I came close to changing my mind, packing my bags and heading home on Sunday evening, but I’m glad I decided to stay.

When I arrived on campus, I felt a sense of revival and couldn’t wait to begin preparing for the week-long class. It was a beautiful summer afternoon, so I decided to unpack my things and take a long walk. This was going to work out perfectly, and I applauded my wise decision to simplify the busy week. I was pretty smug about my wisdom until I was reminded that dorm life was a unique way of living with others and nothing like the quiet life I had been living since leaving my husband.

I finished unpacking and was relaxing when company showed up at my door. The knock had an authoritative ring to it, and I was taken back to my childhood for an instant. Was I in trouble already? I opened the door, and a very young  and very surprised young lady looked past me into the room for signs of habitation. I imagine she thought a squatter had taken temporary refuge in her suite. Her living space was suddenly invaded, and she had come to get  a look at the intruder. I imagine she was expecting a leftover freshman from The Summit Orientation and was prepared to get rid of them. That notion quickly fled when she noticed I was older than her mother. I explained I was teaching a graduate class for the week and would be in the room for the duration. Her demeanor immediately changed when she found herself face to face with an old teacher. She sweetly explained that she wanted to meet me since we would be sharing a bathroom. I smiled and agreed that it was important to know those who share such private quarters.

When she left, I wondered what I had been thinking when I decided to stay in the dorm. I knew the skyrocketing gas prices and the long commute were at the heart of my decision, but the thirty-year gap between my experiences in dorm living was proving to be significant. Things, especially me, had obviously changed. Shortly after my conversation with my suite-mate, I heard a concerned male voice. This added a new dimension of stress as his presence make the sharing more complicated. Naturally, I had to go to the bathroom. I would just wait them out or go somewhere else. Surely, he would leave soon. Minutes stretched out, and so did my bladder. I realized I was acting like the freshman she thought me to be earlier. I smiled at my panic and realized her boyfriend had more to fear than I because he was the one squatting. I opened the door and set off to find relief.

I had prepared myself for the inevitable confrontation and was almost disappointed at the empty bathroom.  I was heading back to my room to prepare for class when a new distraction came from the neighboring suite. The community bathroom was next to my room, and a symphony of “Oh My God” permeated the air. I shook my head and seriously questioned my sanity in booking the room and wondered how long it would take me to pack and get home.

As day turned to night, I reconciled myself to the fact that I was completely surrounded by people who not only were speaking a strange dialect of my native tongue, but were also in a different time zone. I had the sinking feeling that I was not going to get much sleep. I’m not sure when human beings start to think about how much sleep they get, but I think it must be in their mid forties. Before that, we don’t think about it. Young people don’t worry at all about sleeping, and older folks seem to worry about nothing else. I realized, in the midst of my panic, there was a silver lining in all the chaos. The bathroom was sure to be free at six in the morning.

I decided to change my attitude, mostly because I was outnumbered. Besides, I doubt the the chancellor himself could solve my dilemma. I had been working on being less rigidly attached to things, and I was spreading the word that my new attitude was making life more pleasant, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that God gave me a little hands on experience in relaxing and going with the flow. I’ve learned that recognizing a test increases my chances of passing.

Eastern philosophy says doing things you did as a child, allows you to transcend time and literally feel younger physically and mentally. The aging process not only slows down when you play hopscotch, eat an ice cream cone, or ride a bike, it actually goes backward a bit. I needed to think like and act like a college student. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If I stopped worrying and threw myself into the dorm atmosphere, I could benefit from all the energy surrounding me. I decided to go with the flow instead of swimming upstream.

I put on some music to get me into the appropriate mood and turned up the volume. I stopped worrying about the clock, and it was great! I read, wrote, and studied to the music. It was way past my bedtime by the time I rolled into bed, but that didn’t matter. I didn’t have any trouble getting to sleep. Dorms don’t have bedtimes, and that’s what makes them so wonderful. There must be something to the mind-body connection of those Eastern philosophers after all. Those who worry about how much sleep they have gotten and are going to get are always tired while those who don’t count the hours they sleep are never tired. Getting a dorm attitude taught me to quit thinking about sleeping and start thinking about more important things. I’ve always been able to write best in a restaurant or busy place. Writers know it’s much better to be surrounded by energy than silence when it comes to creativity, and dorms are the place where you find lots of energy. A simple change of attitude got my creative energy flowing, and sleeping like a teenager was just icing on the cake.

My Son

From the moment he entered my life, my son Tyler has been a source of joy to me. It was clear early on that he had an unusually sweet spirit, and his father and I thanked God for blessing us with him. Tyler’s father, Billy, died yesterday, and I’ve never been more proud of my son than I have been during the past two months. When Tyler learned his dad was dying, and he immediately began making that process more pleasant for him. He took time from work and his family to spend it with his dad. The girls got to get to know their grandfather during a visit a few weeks ago, and their presence blessed Billy so very much.

Billy and I had a difficult marriage, but we were always in agreement when it came to Tyler. We loved him dearly and believed him to be the best thing either of us ever accomplished. Tyler is selfless and loves with his whole heart. There aren’t many folks like that in this world, and I thank God for placing him in my path because he has taught me much more than I ever taught him. My heart has gone out to him as he has had to deal with some very serious matters and emotions. He has persevered in a beautiful way, and I thank God for giving him and his dad a special time together.

Death makes all of us stop and take an accounting of our lives, and I’ve done that over the past two months. I made peace with Billy years ago, and I was glad to be able to spend time at Tyler’s wedding last year talking to him about our sweet son. Dealing with the death of a parent is a difficult part of life, and I watched my son deal with his dad in a way that was surprising even for him. He’s a giver and always has been. As he told me once, the way we love isn’t easy, but it’s the right way. He was right then, and I’ve seen firsthand lately what that love looks like as I’ve watched it play out in his dealings with Billy. You’re right Tyler; it is the right way to love. Thank you for reminding me. I love you!!

His Journey

During the past four years, I’ve focused upon writing my story so I could share it with Lillyann and Mylah when they are older. Lillyann saw a printed copy on my desk one day and asked me what it was. I told her I was writing it for her and Mylah to read. She said, “That’s a big book Gigi!! When I’m your age, I’m gonna read it.” I laughed and told her I hoped she would.

Writing has opened my heart in a way I never expected. God knew that hearing and sharing my own story was an important part of my journey. As I wrote, I remembered. As I remembered, I wrote. It was very like cleaning out and going through my storage unit last month. Leaving memories hidden away is the easy thing to do, but like those boxes in my storage unit, they have to be dusted off and sorted at some point. Otherwise, treasures get mixed in with trash and end up lost.

Taking the time to go through each box was not simple or easy. I cried and laughed in equal portions. My heart came out feeling much lighter as I got rid of the stuff that needed to go and cherished that which needed to be kept and passed along. Some things, like Tyler’s Ninja Turtles, immediately came out to play. I’ve enjoyed watching the children play with those old toys. I know the little turtles were ready for some action, and they certainly have gotten it and blessed me for a second time.

Writing about my journey has been very difficult, but it has been instrumental in healing my heart. When Billy died this week, I realized my heart was clear. It was as if it finally caught up with me. When I stopped to remember our time together, I realized that half my life was spent with him. We had good times and bad times throughout the  thirty years we were together, but the bad times increased and became more intense at the end of our marriage. I knew I had to go eleven years ago, but I carried a lot of guilt with me when I walked out the door. I left my marriage the same way I entered it, with a heavy heart. It was good to let go of all that this week.

When I woke this morning, I was shocked to find I had slept eight hours in what seemed to be a split second. It was as if I slipped in and out of a time warp. The girls were at Pepe’s; Gina was still in Florida, and Tyler was already at work. I soaked in the sweet stillness and prayed. I felt God’s presence as powerfully as I’ve ever felt Him. He bid me to tell His story now that my heart had caught up and used Biddy Chambers to help me understand what He meant.

Many people know her husband Oswald, but a lot of those who enjoy his books don’t realize that she is responsible for writing down his messages over the course of his brief ministry. He died at forty-three leaving behind only three books. Biddy took her transcriptions of his messages and came up with over thirty beautiful books and booklets. They have been a blessing to me, and God knows the sweet connection I have with Chambers. His love for God is obvious and enviable. My favorites are The Love of God and If Ye Shall Ask. I’ve transcribed before, and it’s the most tedious and frustrating thing I’ve ever done. That’s with a computer and a recorded message. I cannot imagine doing it by hand without a rewind button!!

Biddy Chambers spent her life making sure that her husband’s love for God was written down. A friend gave me Chambers Complete Works seven years ago today. I had forgotten the date and was taken aback when I noticed it in the volume this afternoon. I love it when God does that! The book marked the beginning of my spiritual journey to draw nearer to God. I remember being amazed when I learned of Biddy’s devotion to God and her willingness to tell His story instead of her own. She could have written a sad, self-serving autobiography about how much she gave up and how tragic her life had been. That seems to be the way writing is heading today.

I heard two commentators discussing why the Nobel Prize for Literature hasn’t been awarded to an American author for two decades. One noted it was because we are a society obsessed with writing about ourselves and our tragic lives. I thought about that for a moment and realized there is a lot of truth in that statement. It’s a me, me, me world anymore. We love to write about our hurt, and others love to read about it. This morning, God bid me to be more like Biddy and let His story be my focus. Don’t misunderstand my heart; it’s vital that I tell my story and hear the stories of those around me. God just reminded me this morning that it would be nice for His story to be told and heard, as well. The inscription in the book from my friend reads, “Truth and light for the eternal path. Companions together on His journey.” That pretty much sums up the message God had for me this morning.

Thanks Biddy for your beautiful example of love.

God is love, so loving Him is what Christianity is all about. God created me to love Him and others. It was, is, and will always be the message Christ relays. His life is a life of love, and the world crucified Him for loving in ways they could not understand. The world doesn’t want someone telling them to love everyone. People wanted, want, and will always want someone to tell them what they want to hear. God allowed, allows, and always will allow earthly things to take the place of His love in the lives of His children even though it breaks His heart. God never has and never will coerce or cajole because that isn’t love.

Love is something you fall into. It might happen at first sight and feel like jumping, or it might take a while and be more like a gentle slide. The fall depends upon the individual, but falling in love changes everything. Just as all human relationships are different, so is the love between God and each of us. I am sick to death of theological arguments, denominational disputes, cajoling, coercing, how-to books, and hierarchies when it comes to Christ’s body. None of those work with love. God is love. We are His creation. He loves us and wants us to love Him back. Humans got, get, and will always get that wrong and make a mess of God’s simple truth.

John 17:18-22 beautifully describes Christ’s desire for me.

As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.  For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;  that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

The nature of love is oneness, so why doesn’t the world look more whole and less like a pile of broken glass. No one is perfect. God knows that, and He loves us anyway. Jesus knew that, and He came any way. The Holy Spirit knows that, and that’s why He’s here to stay and encourage us not to give up. I cannot love as God desires or find the oneness Christ offers without the help of the Holy Spirit. On my own, I’m just a piece of broken glass being crushed by the weight of the world’s desire to be right. With God, I become something more than I can be without Him. It’s what love does.

Oneness isn’t about forming a club or creating a new church or denomination so I can find those who are like me or criticize those who aren’t. Oneness is seeing God in everyone and everything. It’s loving those who do not or cannot love me back. It’s living in the mess knowing that that I am part of something wonderful. I’m part of God. I am love too!

I did an exercise this week that humbled, but helped me see the importance of keeping my focus upon love. I took 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and put my name in front of the descriptions of love. I’m sorry to say I didn’t do as well as I thought I would when I took an honest look at how I compared to the nature of love. Try it yourself to see where you need some help and ask the Holy Spirit to help you where you need help so you can get you closer to God and others.

Here’s the verse with the blanks where love should be:

___________ is patient, ______________ is kind ________is not jealous; _____________ does not brag and is not arrogant, _________does not act unbecomingly; ______________ does not seek her own, ____________is not provoked, ___________does not take into account a wrong suffered, ___________does not rejoice in unrighteousness, _________ rejoices with the truth; ________bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I hope you did better than I did, but don’t worry if you didn’t; love is patient Thanks be to God!!

Doing a Little Gardening

When I find silence in a tumult, solitude in a crowd, or simplicity in a complicated life, I know I have come to a place of sweet intimacy with God. The peace that passes understanding in Philippians 4:5-7 becomes real in my heart, and I’m able to go forward knowing I am loved and capable of loving others.

Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” NASB

I’ve also looked at the parable of the soils in Luke 8:4-15 this week and realized I am anxious far too much of the time.

When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear,let him hear.”His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.“Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” (NASB)

The thorns of doubt, fear, and worry choke my peace and hide me from God’s love. It’s safe in the thorn patch. The weeds and thorns keep me out of the open where God wants me to be. The fruit of the Holy Spirit only thrives in the open field, so I pray for the perseverance to bear love in my life and in this world. Love brings joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I need all in my life and know love will flourish as I ask the Holy Spirit to do a little weeding.

Doubts, fears, and worry are uprooted when I remember Who God is and who I am. I am loved, and I am not alone. That clears out those thorns and lets Christ’s light shine on my heart in a way that makes me want the intimacy and peace that only comes from loving God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. Then I am able to love others as myself. Wonderful growth cycle that is much better than going around in circles or hiding behind the thorns.

Heaven Without Love?

In his book, God is the Gospel, John Piper asks, “If you could have heaven with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven if Christ was not there?”

I thought about that question for a moment and quickly decided absolutely not. Without Christ, there would be no love, and there are not enough wonderful things in this world to take the place of one moment of love. I’d rather have the mess here with Christ’s love than an eternity of what I want.

The absence of love is hell, God is love, and His presence is heaven. If Christ isn’t in heaven, then it isn’t heaven. I had this discussion with a dear friend this week, and we decided that heaven without God would be a field full of happy California cows chewing cud and looking at the beautiful scenery. It may be bovine bliss, but humans are created to love. Without love, having everything I wanted would leave me empty and searching. Cows are contented when fed, and so are humans who have given up on love.


Without love, life is lifeless, and heaven is heavenless. Love is what makes the difference in life. I cannot make others love me, but I can love them with the help of the Holy Spirit. God could make me love Him, but He knows love doesn’t work that way. He could easily give me everything I want and make all things perfect, but how would I learn about love? My heart’s been broken, but I still believe in love. Loving and being loved is what makes life worth living. Love reigns supreme in heaven, and that’s because it’s God’s home. I get a sweet taste of the heaven to come every time I spend time with someone I love. It whets my appetite and makes me want more. As long as I’m in this world, love will be a challenge. I plan to keep on loving and being myself because God loves me just as I am and so do all who understand true love. God knows better than anyone that I’d be miserable if I got everything I wanted. The most miserable people in the world are the ones who get what they want because love gets lost in their selfishness. I’m learning to ask for what God wants, and that’s changing everything.

Working Out of the Old Me

I started interval training last week and love the way I feel. I’ve always loved hanging out at the gym because of the close connection that comes when I sweat with others. There’s a realness to the gym, especially when I’m pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. The vulnerability that comes from exposing weaknesses brings a new strength and resilience as others cheer me on and sweat with me. I’m encouraged by my sweat and theirs.

My instructors are amazing; they make me believe I can do the impossible and help me when I get off track. That’s important because I begin to see myself as they do. Knowing that God believes in me is what makes me continue along the path He sets before me. He always stretches me beyond my own limits in a loving way, and that changes the way I see myself.

Working out isn’t about getting a new body; it’s about getting rid of the old me. The me that believes I can’t, I’m too old, I’ll never be able to…. Love enables me to beat the old me and see myself in a new light. It’s what transformation is all about. Recognizing and getting past the old me’s negative notions are the keys to moving on to the new and improved me. When I saw the photo Sussy posted this afternoon, I smiled and thought about what working out means to me. It means working my way out of those negative notions and into a whole new me.

I know I can’t get to where God wants me to go until I work my way out of the cocoon that keeps me from getting out into His world in a way that allows me to be who God knows I can be. Working out is never easy, but it is much easier with a guide and others in the same boat beside me. The same is true when it comes to living and loving as God desires.

Crystalline Delight

The poem “Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe goes from the light silver bells we associate with love and life to the heavy iron bells of a church tower announcing death. I used to tell my students that I would begin with the iron and move toward the silver so the reader would be left with a sense of hope and love. God reminded me this morning that love begins with those sweet silver bells and leads to the mellow, golden wedding bells. From there, alarms bells go off and death inevitably comes at some point. The way to love as God desires is to make the trip back from death.

I know it’s a strange image, but it’s one God knew I needed this morning. I understood perfectly and could relate completely to those bells. Love changes everything, and love itself changes on this journey. I came to a place of letting go yesterday, and God showed me that death isn’t the end when it comes to love. It is the beginning. Those iron bells weigh heavily upon my heart, but they lead to the brass bells that sound the alarm when flames arise.

The golden bells of marriage take on a new meaning when applied to God’s way of loving. He’s the patient groom who waits for me to accept  His proposal and unite in a way that allows my heart to be one with His. I’m afraid I’ve left Him waiting at the altar far too long. When I do show up occasionally, I give Him a warm embrace, tell Him how very much I love Him, and quickly get back to my busy agenda. He is left waiting, and that is a terribly lonely place for the heart to be. It hurts deeply to be left waiting, but it hurts even worse to realize I’ve made God wait.

The silver bells that come after the wedding bells remind me that loving God puts me in the Spirit. Christmas bells bring my heart back to a time of innocent love that has hope and is filled with a lightness that only pure love can bring. The love God has in mind doesn’t weight down my heart or scream about a four-alarm fire in my body. It makes my heart tinkle with a “crystalline delight.” Keeping love pure and in the Spirit isn’t easy, but I’m thinking the image of those bells tolling, clanging, swelling, and tinkling will help me keep my heart out of the graveyard and on the sleigh!. Those little silver bells make a heavenly sound when they join with other silver bells.

I
Hear the sledges with the bells-
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

II

Hear the mellow wedding bells,
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,
And an in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

III

Hear the loud alarum bells-
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor,
Now- now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows:
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells-
Of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

IV

Hear the tolling of the bells-
Iron Bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people- ah, the people-
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All Alone
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone-
They are neither man nor woman-
They are neither brute nor human-
They are Ghouls:
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
Rolls
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells-
Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells-
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells:
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells-
Bells, bells, bells-
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

It’s Personal!

Matthew 5:21-25 is a very humbling verse that reminds me that Christ not only fulfilled the law; He made it personal. I’m guilty of saying, “You idiot!” when someone cuts me off or veers in front of me in traffic. I immediately go into defense mode and come up with reasons why I have every right to call them names. They are driving like an idiot. They could kill me or someone else. They have no right to do what they did to me. They are at fault, so I can call them anything I want. Idiot is not as bad as some names I would like to call them. The list gets longer while God waits for me to get back to Matthew 5.

You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.” NASB

I can summarize what those verses do to me with one word. Ouch!! They humble each time I think of them. As I was driving home from a wonderful meal with my son and his family, I found myself calling someone an idiot. God placed Matthew 5 in my path earlier in the day. I had been thinking about the way Christ’s life, death, and resurrection changed the way I must look at God’s laws.

Each time I think someone is an idiot, I commit murder. I was thinking that seemed too harsh. Wasn’t Christ supposed to make it easier between God and me. It seemed He was making it harder.  I’m not perfect. I do the best I can. Are you saying that I can’t even think a bad thought when someone almost kills me??

God is faithful to let me rant and rave and rationalize while He waits for me to get the lesson He has in mind. As I drove, I thought about  those scriptures and what God wanted me to learn. I asked for help because I wasn’t going to understand this lesson without some assistance. The Spirit helped me see that as soon as I call someone a name, I take away their humanity. In essence, I murder them. They are no longer Mary or George; they are simply an idiot. It’s easier to deal with an idiot than a real person who has problems. I asked God how I could do that with someone I didn’t know and never would.

His answer was, as always, a simple one. Pray for them. I have learned that sincerely praying for someone who hurts me changes the way I see them. They go from an enemy to someone I truly care about. That changes everything, and I figured it would be much easier with someone I didn’t even know who only caused me a moment of grief in traffic. If I see them as a person in need of prayer, I won’t be angry with them. If I think of them being in my path so I can pray for them, I see God in the circumstances.

The next time I find myself starting to call someone an idiot, I plan to stop, say a prayer, and thank God for placing them in my path and granting me the privilege of praying for them. I plan to do that every day for those who do things that make no sense to me. Seeing them in Christ’s light will not only keep me from murdering them, it will also help me build them up. God reminded me of Ephesians 4:29 in that regard.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” NASB

We are here to edify and encourage one another, and that includes all in my path, not only those unknown folks who veer in and out of my life while driving. Christ makes obeying God’s laws very personal, and He wants me to stop murdering those who irritate or aggravate and start loving them in a way that gives them and me the new life He has in mind. I can do that with His help, and He made it very clear to me tonight that He’s always right beside me waiting for me to ask for help.

To kill or not to kill? That’s the question God is asking. When He puts it that way, even I know the right answer!

Lessons in Love and Loyalty

RC was a beautiful dog who was part of our family for over a decade. He was a Chow/German Shepherd mix who had the reputation for being very vicious. He was a vicious dog when my husband brought him home from the construction site where he was working back in 1975, but my son Tyler could lay on RC’s belly while he drank his bottle or watched TV. The message on Sunday morning was about following God’s path because He’s the one who set us free. I immediately thought of that beautiful red dog that loved my husband with a loyalty that I’d never seen before.

RC had been chained to a cement block in the middle of yard filled with hard, red clay mud. His sole purpose was to scare off intruders, and he did it very well. His master was a mean man who gave him enough water and food to keep him alive and poked at him in order to teach him hate. As a result, he attacked anyone who came within reach of his chain. He made the mistake of turning on his owner one day, and that would prove to be a turning point for this dog who had never known love.

My husband was doing some work for the dog’s owner when he informed him that he was going to kill that @#$% dog because he was out of control. Billy couldn’t bear to think about the dog being killed, so he said he would take him home. The man told him he would be sorry, but Billy decided he couldn’t just stand by and let this poor dog die. When I heard Billy come home that afternoon, I went out to meet him. I quickly slammed the door shut when RC came at me with teeth bared, hackles raised, and barking as though he were going to kill me!

Billy managed to get past RC and in the house, leaving him on the front porch barking. He began to explain the whole story to me, but I was shaking my head no and telling him there was no way we could have a dog like that with our tiny apartment in town. Our landlady would never agree, and the neighbors would surely be upset. RC had calmed down by this time, and I went out with Billy to look at the creature he had rescued. My heart went out to this pitiful animal that had been abused and used as a guard dog since birth. I had to admit he was beautiful, and I knew he was also very hungry.

I learned about food and love from my mama, so I went after a peace offering. He swallowed the large piece of cornbread in one bite and looked at me with pleading eyes that said, “More! Please!!” So, I went inside and fixed a plate for him. I know it wasn’t the right way to feed a dog, but I didn’t have any dog food. We became fast friends, and RC made it clear that he would literally kill anyone who came near me. For that reason, we had to keep him contained. We always made sure he was comfortable, and Billy took him wherever he went. There was nothing RC loved more than riding in the back of Billy’s truck.

We moved, and Tyler came along. RC was more protective of him than of Billy and I put together. We let him run free unless someone was coming for a visit, and he always walked back and forth in front of Tyler as if to form a line that better not be crossed. RC knew about boundaries and lines, and he made it clear to all that Tyler was not to be touched. Tyler would hold on to RC’s fur when trying to stand up. RC would whimper, but he never so much as frowned at little Tyler.

I used to tell Billy that he was RC’s god. He didn’t like that analogy, but it was true. Billy set RC free, and RC followed him everywhere he went. I thought of their relationship on Sunday and realized that I should be more like RC when it comes to following God. His devotion and love for Billy is a beautiful model to follow. RC so wanted to be free, and freedom meant following the one who set him free. It is really what Psalm 119:32 is saying. It was a beautiful message on Sunday and a sweet trip down memory lane for me this week as I thought of an old friend who lived out his love and loyalty in a way that I should live out mine.

RC hasn’t been in our lives for a very long time, but there are many stories I could tell you about his adventures. It was nice to remember him today. Thanks old friend for the sweet lesson in love and loyalty. I needed it today.

Time to Turn Around

When it comes to matters of the heart, God knows best. He is love, and hearts are built to hold and share His love. The decisions I’ve made when it comes to love have put my heart in harm’s way my entire life. I love with my whole heart because it’s the only way I know how to love, but I love those who are unable, for one reason or another, to love me completely. I struggle with worthiness when it comes to love. I don’t expect to be loved because I don’t believe I deserve to be loved.

God’s lessons this week left me feeling like an empty cupcake wrapper. He put the image in my heart on Tuesday, and it wouldn’t go away. My heart is empty, and it’s a feeling much worse than anything I’ve felt before. I’ve held on to hope that isn’t there for a very long time. God gently, but firmly, opened my hands and my heart to show me the emptiness. I knew there was no hope, but I thought if I held my hands clasped tightly and pretended it was there, I might convince myself that clinging to it would make a difference.

The emptiness of that cupcake wrapper turned into a vast canyon when I came to the end of the path yesterday. It stretched out before me sending my cries back in a hollow, haunting echo. I’m used to dead ends when it comes to love, but this wasn’t like anything I’ve felt before. Standing on that precipice was like standing on the pier as a child. I could step off into the nothingness or turn and go in a new direction. At five, I didn’t have a choice, but God showed me that I am not who I was. He also told me in no uncertain terms that I am not who He knows I can be either. It is tempting to just step off, but I’ve learned enough about love to know that I will not settle for life without it.

Repentance simply means to turn, and God assured me that He’s right behind me waiting for me to make up my heart and let Him lead me down a different path. There is a part of me that can’t bear to face Him, but there is a much bigger part that wants to jump into His arms. Admitting I went down the wrong path and saying I’m lost is the first step when it comes to repentance. Knowing God is patiently waiting to pick me up and carry me until I am ready to walk on my own gives me the courage to turn around. Matters of the heart matter most in this world, and it’s time for me to turn around and let God decide the direction when it comes to love.

At the Last Supper, both Jesus and Judas make up their minds to obey. Jesus decided to obey His Father, and Judas decided to go with his gut. Jesus knew about Judas’ heart, and I know it broke His own to see His disciple and close friend go in a direction He knew would bring separation and intense pain. Jesus would taste such pain on the cross as He bore the sins of the world. Christ’s pain turned to joy as He obeyed His Father. Judas’ momentary victory turned to unimaginable pain as he decided to go his own way. Satan satisfies self beautifully, but the pleasure is temporary. God satisfies the spirit beautifully for an eternity.

Each moment of every day, I make decisions in regard to my heart, soul, mind, body, and spirit. When I decide to follow God, I often find pain; but it gives way to indescribable joy. I get a taste of heaven when that happens and feel very close to God. When I decide to follow self, I find great pleasure; but it gives way to terrible misery. I get a taste of hell when that happens and find myself far away from Him. Decisions are, and always will be, up to me. It is so tempting to go with the immediate pleasure. I’m human and too often make my decisions based upon feeling good.

The beautiful news is that Christ made it clear at the last meal He shared with His disciples that He wasn’t leaving them, or us, alone. In John 14:16-20, He says to them:

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” NASB

He says the very same thing to me today and every day. The problems I have with decisions come from forgetting that I am not alone or on my own. I am one with God and Christ through the Holy Spirit. If I follow God, as did Christ, those decisions are clear. If I follow myself, as did Judas, those decisions are also clear. The difference is in the feeling that follows those decisions. With self, I get a great feeling followed by a terrible let down. With God, I get confusion and pain followed by understanding and joy. Life is all about the ending. Life with God is guaranteed to end well, and that is well worth any temporary pain that may come as a result of obeying Him.

Christ kept His eyes upon what was to come, and I have to do the same if I am to live a life, as a dear friend reminds me, worth living forever!

Not Exactly Physics or Rocket Science

What goes up, must come down when it comes to both gravity and my heart. I was reminded this week that the heart and the  hypothalamus gland have much in common. The hypothalamus controls body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, sleep, circadian rhythms and more. There is a delicate balance in the gland that must be maintained. Envision a straight line being the perfect balance for the gland’s function. If I take a stimulant such as caffeine, the line will go up – think of a seismograph. In order to get back to that place of balance, the line must go down in equal proportion to the stimulation. What goes up…must come down before getting back into balance. It forms the basis for addiction and is one of the most important glands in our body.

Love is a lot like that hypothalamus gland. It affects body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, sleep, rhythm, and much more. A high is followed by a low that is equal in proportion to that high. What goes up, must come down. The trick with both the heart and the hypothalamus gland is to find and stay in a place of balance. The Holy Spirit’s peace passes understanding and is that line for me. When I am in God’s presence, His peace fills me as nothing else can. Balance comes to my heart there, and I want to stay forever.

The trouble is life happens, and that causes the ups and downs that are inevitable as I love my way through this incredible journey we call life. When I’m in heaven, I’ll be in that state of sweet peace forever. Until then, I’m learning to ride out the waves on that seismograph and stay as close to the center as I possibly can. I wander off the path when it comes to my heart and my hypothalamus gland, and that gets me out of God’s rhythm. It’s so tempting to grab for a sweet treat and feel the high it provides for a moment, but the corresponding crash brings me down to earth and reminds me to be careful.

The great news is that God created both my heart and my hypothalamus gland to auto-correct unless damaged or broken. A healthy heart and a healthy hypothalamus gland come from taking the time to make good decisions that will keep both on the path that leads to peace. I’m human and like those sugary treats, but as I get older, I’m learning that peace is the ultimate high. It’s not exactly physics, and it sure isn’t rocket science because I know better than to mess with the sweet balance God provides for both my heart and my body when I take His advice.

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