Free At Last!!

FreedomGod used the image of an invisible fence to help my heart get where He knew it needed to be. Assertive pups quickly learn that the shock of the fence is temporary and well worth the freedom that lies beyond that invisible line drawn in the lawn. Other dogs find contentment in their confinement and learn to live within the space given. I was like the latter until last week when I finally found the courage, or maybe the faith, to cross lines I’ve allowed to confine and define my heart all my life. I learned that pleasing others is not the same as loving them, and that beautiful lesson freed my heart in a wonderful way.

God doesn’t want me to please Him or others, and He certainly didn’t create me to be a happiness slot machine. He created me out of love and simply wants me to love Him, myself, and others. The invisible fence wasn’t His; it was one I installed early in my life in order to keep my heart safe. Boundaries are important in life. They keep me from straying into unknown territory and help me know who and where I am, but the heart is not designed for any kind of fence.

God’s love knows no boundaries, and He expects my love to be like His. I crossed lines last week that I’ve never dared to cross before, and I have to say it felt great. I stood up for what I believed and for those I love. I felt an immediate sense of freedom after an initial shock of leaving the known and heading into territory I’d always considered too dangerous for me.

At the heart of loving and being loved as God desires is a willingness to know and be known in ways that shock my heart. As I ate and talked with a new friend yesterday, she expressed her reluctance to allow herself to get to know someone too deeply and her struggle with allowing others to know her deeply. I knew exactly what she was feeling because I had been there myself.

I allowed myself to be deeply known decades ago and again a few years ago. Both friends changed me in a beautiful way. I’m blessed to have three sisters who know and love me deeply and friends who do the same. Their love encourages me to continue to reach out and to be who I am. That level of love enabled me to take a flying leap at that electric fence and head out into the world in a way that is sure to make a difference in my heart and in the hearts of those I love.

Falling Up :)

My son Tyler gave Shel Silverstein’s book, “Falling Up,” to me for Christmas one year. He knows how much I love poetry, and Shel’s a favorite. I thought of the book’s cover as God’s powerful lessons became crystal clear this morning. A dear friend reminded me that the journey is about spiraling upward, and as he made a twirling motion with his index finger pointing to God, I realized falling upward is part of spiraling upward because falling is part of the journey.

Life involves stumbles, trips, and flat out falls, and that’s why it’s so important to travel with company. Rita will be out of town for a while, and I’ll miss our long treks up the mountain. I’ll stay near the bottom and circle a lot while she’s gone because I don’t go up alone. It’s not the fear of bears or snakes that keep me from the higher ground; I just don’t want to fall with no one around. I did that at Whiteside Mountain once and drove home a bloody and embarrassed mess!

Having someone who loves me walk with me helps me keep my attention on the path and the beautiful scenery, and that’s where it belongs. It’s easy to lose focus; that’s why I need a loving companion. I can catch them if they trip, and they can catch me when I do the same. If we both fall at the same time, we can still help each get up, dust off, and find our balance once again. It’s not funny when you fall, but I thank God for love that lets us laugh together when wounds are healed and feelings mended:) It’s the beauty of love, and God is the very best example of love that looks at mistakes and finds humor in lessons learned.

There is nothing sadder that someone who has fallen alone or been left behind when they fall by those who don’t care enough to stop and lend a hand. I thank God for surrounding me with loving companions who make my journey a sweet joy and share both the tears and the laughter that come with loving as God desires. Love humbles as nothing else, but it also brings greater joy than anything else in this world. It is a taste of what is to come, and I thank God, the source of all love, for helping me help others when they trip and for putting those in my path whose love lifts and encourages me to keep going.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says it best, Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” Words to love and travel by if you want to fall up and help others do the same. Too often we bring others down or beat ourselves up. I’ve done my share of both, and that causes everyone to fall and many to stay down. If we don’t find the courage to get back up and help others do the same, the body of Christ will be less than God desires. If we love as God desires, our falling will result in honest communion and love that makes others see Him in us and in our relationships. That’s what this journey is all about 🙂

Going up :)

The Victory is God’s

Psalm 30:5 reminds me that “Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.” Yesterday was a day filled with weeping as beautiful young children were taken from us in a deeply disturbing way. Many others died across the country yesterday; one was a special young man in my own town who ended his own life. He was a former student and very dear to me. My heart was filled with much weeping yesterday, and my sleep was troubled throughout the night. God reminded me this morning that the final victory is His.

Weeping may last for the night, and I know many will be weeping for many nights to come, but joy does come when we remember that death has lost its sting. We cannot lose sight of God’s victory or death’s grip will take hold of our hearts and steal our joy. Loved ones leave us lonely and hurting as we long for their love, but we can rest assured that they are in God’s loving presence where death does not exist any more.

Death has no authority in God’s kingdom. Christ put an end to death when he rose from His grave. It is the hope that allows us to continue living and loving in a world designed to make us  give up. God bids us to remember who He is and that His kingdom has a new design. We are here to learn about love and grow closer to Him and to one another. That is a plan that brings hope, joy, peace, and love if we will remember that the war has already been won. The victory is and always will be God’s.

Let’s help each other as we walk through the times of weeping. Holding a hand, saying a prayer, and just being present. Having someone hear my heart helps me find joy in the morning, and hearing someone’s heart does the same. When we weep together through the dark night, we find the strength to make it to the morning light together. Loneliness is at the heart of all those who are hurting, and I pray that I am more mindful of those in my path who need a little love.  Instead of arming ourselves with bigger guns, I pray we will arm ourselves with bigger hearts filled with compassion and reach out to one another in love. It was love, after all, that won the war in the first place.