The Sound of My Own Voice:)

When I talk with a dear friend about what’s on my heart, I am often surprised by the sound of my own voice in an atmosphere of honest communion. As I returned to the week my mama died, I let out some frustration and found that I was hanging on to something I needed to release. I also realized my selfish need for the world of others to stop when mine does. It cannot, and I’m thankful God helped me see that this week. In fact, He made it clear that the world doesn’t ever stop. It brings me to my knees when it spins out of control, and it puts me flat on my face when I try to stop it. When I look up and remember Whose world it is and Whose child I am, I find the balance I need to walk and love in His kingdom here and now.

Yesterday was a fourteen hour day with the girls, and my patience wore thin as Lillyann refused to put away her Kindle, go to the bathroom, and lie down. Poor Mylah was awakened by the music at the end of her movie, so I had two girls awake at nine o’clock. I didn’t lose my temper, thank God, but I did wonder if it wouldn’t be better to just live somewhere else, pop in once in a while with some goodies and a little cooing, and be a different sort of Gigi. I really didn’t like the sound of my own voice in the atmosphere of impatience and knew that I wouldn’t trade living with and loving this sweet little family for anything in this world. Living and loving, like praying, requires a deep connection that is much more than once in a while. It is the forever love in 1 Corinthians 1-13.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or aclanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part;  but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.  When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. NASB

I told Lillyann that I couldn’t help her if she didn’t listen and obey. I could hear God in my own voice and had to smile. I am very like little Lillyann when it comes to obeying, and I know that getting her and myself where we need to be is not a simple task. I don’t want to take the easy path when it comes to loving God, Mylah, Lillyann, or anyone else, and I thank God for not taking the easy path when it comes to loving me. Love is not giving in or giving up. It is giving as I’ve never given before. The girls may not understand now, just as I often don’t understand God, but they will when it matters:) I plan to keep listening to God and doing what I know He wants me to do. That’s love, and that’s not always easy, but experiencing love at its truest level is worth whatever God asks me to do. 

I can do my best and love the best way I know how my entire life and be miserable in my failure at love, or I can love the way God loves and find Him in the love I have for myself and for those in my path. There is no self help book or video that explains love any better than the beautiful scripture above. God continues to bring me back to His Word and His way when it comes to loving because He is love and the best teacher ever. With His help, I’m learning:)

Vast Difference!

There is a vast difference between knowing what is right and the need to be right. God made that difference very clear yesterday with the cliff I came close to falling off! The scriptures this week had the crowd ready to toss Jesus over the cliff when He didn’t say what they wanted to hear. I didn’t like what He had to say to me and came close to slipping over the edge myself as I backed away from Him.

Evil has a way of disguising itself as good. It’s Satan’s greatest power, and my need to be right and desire to be loved brought me to a place of decision yesterday. A friend reminded me as we prayed together that I know what is right, and God reminded me again this morning. I do know what is right and what is good, but I am a stubborn and willful child who refuses to obey.

Disobedience breaks the heart and keeps the body from the wholeness God has in mind. The most difficult lessons are those which reveal sin for what it is. I chide myself for living up to daddy’s expectations when I see my stupidity. I don’t like to use the word he used to describe me on a daily basis, but it was the word that came to mind as I took inventory and prayed. God didn’t use it, but I did.

He loves and comforts me when I see my own mistakes with an attitude of true repentance, and loves me all the more when I decide to turn from them and heed His lessons in loving. Lust and love are not the same. Wanting what I want rather than what He wants is lust. Love is many things, but wanting isn’t one of them.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 has also been in my path this week, and I know that wasn’t a coincidence.

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”NASB

I have taken and twisted those passages much in my life, and it has caused my heart to be broken over and over again. Yesterday, I looked at the brokenness and asked God to help me pick up the pieces. He had a better idea in mind. He asked me to leave those pieces at the cross and let Him give me a new heart, one held together by the sweet, powerful glue of His Holy Spirit.

I’m all for fixing things that can be fixed, but I also know that God knows best when it comes to hearts. I’ve tried for decades to repair my heart, but it only gets worse with each patching. I’m always left feeling less that what He desires, and that hurts deeply. Yesterday, I felt worse than ever and did not like what I saw. I know I must see myself as more before I can be who He wants me to be and have the love He has in in mind for me.

I’m ready to let Him have those pieces and accept the whole heart He has for me. Obedience is the key to wholeness and holiness, and I trust Him to help me find the joy that comes as a result of that obedience. My heart’s in good hands, and that’s just where it belongs. I feel like His beloved and cherished daughter, and that’s a new and wonderful feeling. A vast and beautiful difference from what I was feeling yesterday. Joy does come in the morning:)

Preparing for God’s Presence

The path which leads me through this world is a very tiny part of my journey, but it is a very important part that prepares me for God’s presence. This leg of my journey is about learning to love, and the lessons learned allow me to begin walking in His kingdom now.

The lessons in love this week have reminded me of the simple truth that God is love, and he who doesn’t love doesn’t know God. Sobering lessons indeed. Love isn’t complicated and is described beautifully in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” NASB

Love never fails, but people often do because we are imperfect. Attempts at love keep us humble in that regard:) God knows the struggles we face when it comes to love, and He hears my heart as I struggle. I take love and make it what I want it to be, and that is as silly as taking God and making Him what I want Him to be. I’m guilty of that too.

God is patient and rejoices with the truth. He never fails and neither does true love. As God reveals Himself to me, I see love in a new light. Christ’s precious love is the life and the light behind love beautifully expressed. He is the heart of God’s Word and stands as the ultimate example when it comes to love.

When I drift off course, I turn to God’s Word. He shares His journey with me and invites me to come along and abide in Him. When I accept His invitation, He abides in me. That abiding becomes the most beautiful connection possible on this side of heaven, and I can have it with Him and those with whom I share His love.

The world tempts and tries to fill me with a variety of cheap imitations, but once I taste love in God’s light, my heart will not settle for anything less. My journey here presents a perfect path to prepare my heart for love. My path has been a convoluted one which has left me reeling at times, but it has led to a greater understanding of just who God is and who He wants me to be.

As a minister once told me, all we can do is nudge a little closer to God and help others do the same. Wise words that aptly describe this path which prepares us for God’s presence:)

The Gift of Love

John 10:27-29 are the most comforting words in the Bible to me.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  NASB

Along with the comfort comes a sobering  reminder that I must follow when I hear Christ. It is, and always will be, true that no one can snatch me from His hand; but it is also true that I can hop out anytime I want. He will let me wander for however long it takes to create my own kingdoms, make my own mountains, and plan my own projects.

Christ doesn’t close his hand around me because it would become a fist. His open palm allows me to be who I am. God is the ultimate example self-differentiation, and His love only exists in an open, honest environment. He doesn’t force or coerce, and He refuses to fuse. I must do the same if I am to love Him and others as He desires.

When my kingdoms crash, my mountains topple, and my projects fail, I crawl back into God’s loving hand. He doesn’t gloat or fuss or say, “I told you so.” He loves. His love never changes or moves, and it is best described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffereddoes not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” NASB

This is a season of love, and as we light the Advent candle of love tomorrow, I pray our hearts will remember the love that brought Christ down to where we are. There is nothing that compares to it. May we trust His love and love Him and others as He loves us. That means letting go, being who we truly are, and allowing others to be the same:)

God created His kingdom with love, and this is a season designed to celebrate His love. His love is the greatest gift ever given, and it becomes the greatest gift we can give to one another. Let love lead the way this Christmas when it comes to giving because it is what we all need and want.