Tuesday, February 8, 2011

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12

I came out for my first cup of coffee today at 6:05 a.m. I smiled when I looked at the clock and reminisced for a few minutes, till 6:14 a.m.

This is only relevant because today is my daughter’s 8th birthday. You see, eight years ago, at 6:05 a.m. I was in the throes of crazy labor, barely making it to the hospital to give birth. We pulled in to the emergency entrance at 6:00 a.m. and Abby arrived at 6:14 a.m. The labor and delivery rooms were on the third floor and the poor nurse taking me up there in a wheelchair had to sprint or she was going to deliver Abby. Abigail Genevieve was very determined to enter this world with a bang, and she did. She was not patient at all, giving her Momma no time for the help of pain medication and was almost born before the doctor arrived.

I laugh when I think about all this, because that is generally the way this darling girl lives life. Intense, active and determined. She has a joy and zest for life that is infectious. She loves Jesus and shares that love all the time. She inspires her Momma more than she knows.

My journey with Jesus really took off during my pregnancy with Abby. A friend was married to a minister and while I would sit and eat at the table in our office, they would engage my curious heart in conversations that stirred emotions I never knew I had. It instilled a longing to know more about this God – someone vastly different than the God of my youth.

Not long after Abby’s birth, I had my little world rocked. At least I thought it was my world at the time. I lost my job only days after returning from maternity leave. As shattering as it seemed – I was the main breadwinner for our family – something inside said “stay calm, this isn’t as bad as you think it is.” I chose to trust that feeling. Oh sure, I was scared. But within weeks, a new opportunity came about and now I can see that it had God’s hand all over it. It opened up doors that I could have never imagined. More importantly, it opened up my heart and eyes to a relationship with my King and Creator. Driving to my new job one day, I pulled off the road and prayed with Chuck Swindoll, asking Jesus into my heart.

The past eight years have been a journey on a number of levels – as a Christian, parent, wife and friend. Today, my world is so much bigger than the trials of each day. I am not nearly as rattled by the things of this earth as I was back then. And, I see things with a fresh set of eyes, knowing there is more to the story than I can see and experience now. And I want my life to make a difference for His Kingdom, a purpose that just was not in my field of vision in the past.

Intense, active and determined. When I think about this verse in 1 Timothy, I can almost visualize gripping on to Jesus as we navigate this life, shining a light for others to see, with a divine drive and determination. This is something I can see in my daughter. And, this is how I want to live my life as well. Happy birthday, Abby.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

I don’t know about you, but I have been loving from the wrong places of my heart. And not just that, I have been loving for the wrong reasons. But, I am not discouraged. No way. In fact, I am encouraged and feel like I’ve been given a fresh start in the love department! After a weekend retreat featuring teaching on the Biblical definition of love and incredible demonstrations of how that love was lived out in the life of Jesus, I have a new take on the word “love” and all that it truly means.

In 1 John 4:19 we are told, ‘we love because he first loved us.’ I don’t think I came close to really understanding that concept until this weekend. You hear about unconditional love and I think I scratch the surface of that with the love I have for my children and husband, but if I’m really honest, there are times when I let that love become conditional. I can build a wall around my heart and hover in there alone because my feelings were hurt, or I’m angry over something, or I just don’t “feel” like it. What I’ve learned is these are the times when it is especially important to tap into the well of love that Jesus wants to fill us with through His grace and mercy.

It’s easy to “love” when the person makes you happy, does nice things for you, tells you what you want to hear, listens to your direction, and on and on. It is not so easy when that person is difficult. It is even more difficult when someone truly hurts you or inflicts serious pain on you. But God is telling us to do just that. Not in our own strength, but His. Tapping into that love is the key. Knowing that I cannot do this alone, nor was I ever meant to. He wants to be that love resource, filling my well so that I can love from the overflow of my heart. That is a whole different picture of love for me.

I have written four “confessions of love” on my heart and my prayer is that they transform both my thinking and my doing (thank you Beth Moore):
• God is perfect love.
• Nothing can separate me from God’s perfect love.
• God pours His perfect love into my imperfect heart.
• Accessed, I can love anyone through anything.

I pray these will become the foundation of my truth about love. Loving others is not about what they can or will do for me. That is not even a part of the equation. A simple one-way street of overflowing love built on the rock of Christ’s love and power in me.