Category Archives: Relationships

Before the week slips completely away…

As we head into the big Memorial Day weekend, you just might find yourselves eating some graduation cake and something or two cooked over the grill, putting flags on graves and gathering with friends and family for some fellowship.

Russ and I have a graduation and a double birthday celebration to look forward to…because some little dudes in our lives will be turning another year older…

So before all that merriment ensues, I wanted to share a little about our visit to City of Praise Church last Sunday.

Our church has begun a partnership with this congregation and quite a few of their members ventured out to visit us one weekend.

Russ and I were kind of touched that they would make the effort to worship with us, so we found a weekend where we could go there for their 11:00 service. We were joined by three other class members this past Sunday.

Pastor BJ told us we would be welcomed warmly and promised it would be a lively service.

He was right on both counts.

I have never been hugged so many times by so many people nor have I been so blessed.

I don’t just mean I felt blessed.

I mean THEY kept blessing me…just speaking blessing over me.

Then there was the pastor who in the midst of the worship songs admonished us to just focus on the Lord…whatever we brought in with us…leave at the door.

He said that over and over…

Leave it at the door…just leave it at the door…don’t bring it in with you today…just leave it at the door…..

because he must have realized some of us are slow to listen and there may have been a blonde lady in the third pew that needed to be told repeatedly to forget everything except how wonderful Jesus is.

Cause she finally did.

Finally forgot about the worries and the cares and the things I am always and forever asking Him to do and fix and take away and give.

And I just entered into praise about who He is <3

And they just kept inviting and welcoming the Holy Spirit and He most assuredly felt welcome because it was impossible to not sense His Presence among us.

The message was honest and powerful…about asking ourselves all the time…”Why do I do what I do?”

And how if it is for recognition or thanks or notoriety…well…that’s not the right answer.

We do what we do…I do what I do…because I love Jesus…and it is my joy…and my job….to serve Him.

We knew it would be a longer service than we are used to so when the pastor apologized to the ladies who were going to be setting up the bake sale in the back that he was ending early …

so they better get scooting to get the table set up…

I looked at my watch for the first time and realized we had been enveloped in this precious service for 1 hour and 58 minutes….

Apparently we were two minutes shy of the usual service time.

All in all….

Best.Day.Ever.   <3

 

A special day here on the Journey <3

First off, thanks for taking time to send comments to our Rachel for her beautiful post yesterday – blessed her and blessed us <3

Today I am celebrating another offspring because this one…

has a milestone birthday.

Not Joel.

This one…

We celebrate her life and the joy she has brought to us and to all whose lives she touches.

Several birthdays ago, she told me she woke up and her first thought was waking in our home as a little girl.

I had bought a ginormous plastic purple drinking glass for her that year and set it in her room for her to see first thing in the morning.

For some reason she remembered it and that year she said the thought of it made her feel loved.

We laughed to think that such a simple memory was tucked away in her heart for such a time as that morning.

As parents, we pulled out all the stops for birthday parties…we didn’t have Pinterest but we had the public library and Parent’s magazine and we were all into themes.

Games, decorations, food…were all centered around the theme of the  year…and she remembers a plastic glass perched by her bed.

Makes me smile to know she knows she is loved <3

So happy birthday Sis…may your day be filled with delights that echo through the years to come…

you…

are….

loved

<3

Along the way…

As I continue to use The Message for a journey through Psalms during Lent, I found this jewel in Psalm 69:9.

“I love you more than I can say. Because I’m madly in love with you, they blame me for everything they dislike about you.”

Packs a punch, doesn’t it?

Of course the “you” is God.

And the “they” is those who are convicted by the Light they see shining in those who love God and have chosen to walk with Him.

The psalmist, in acknowledging his deep love of God, recognizes that the animosity he encounters by others who DO NOT share this love of God is going to manifest as a personal attack on him.

We see it out there in the world but sometimes fail to comprehend it as the basis for some of the uncomfortable tension we encounter on a more personal level with those who share our bubble.

As I meditated on this concept today, I thought about how difficult it is to feel truly and intimately close to someone if I have to subtract my love for our LORD from that relationship equation.

I can be left feeling defensive, judgmental, critical, cold and even question if I am hypocritical…as in…”I love this person. I love God. God loves this person. Why do I feel this huge wall? Why can’t I express His love to them unconditionally?”

From there my mind rabbit-trailed to looking for an example and here is what I came up with.

It doesn’t fit perfectly because it is a picture based on humans, but here we go…

I love my husband AND I am in a covenant relationship with him.

In all my other relationships, that part of me, that is joined to him, is interwoven into the fabric and context.

If you were, for some reason at odds with him, it would affect our relationship because of the very nature of my love for Russ, expressed in the commitment he and I made to each other.

Any depth to the growth of relationship with someone who is at odds with my husband will be stunted at best and severed at worst.

And here is where my example will need a bit of expansion and fails to be a perfect comparison to what God laid on my heart about this passage.

While the verse helps me realize that my love for God can not be separated from who I am…

AND…

therefore, will just BE a factor in all my other relationships…

my covenant with God DOES include unconditional love for all people.

I would naturally take your rejection of my husband personally because, well, he’s my better half and to continue any depth of friendship would smack of betrayal to him.

But this is not how it works in relationships marked with tension because of my love for Jesus.

As we are studying the book of Matthew in our current sermon series, Jesus warned us we would encounter this kind of tension in relationships with non-believers.

His words encourage us to model God in how we respond to those who are not warm toward the God-loving part of who we are.

We are to love them and show grace and mercy to them because He has shown grace and mercy to us.

It isn’t easy but it helps to know that we are not dishonoring God when we extend His love to those who do not love Him back.

I believe as we begin to understand that the issue is not rejection of us but rejection of His Love in us, our hearts expand to see their resistance with God’s eyes.

He desires that none should perish.

So let’s brave a cold shoulder as we continue to extend wide open arms to all people in His Name.

The ability to love those who reject the thing that matters most to us is another Grace-gift from our loving Father.

If you are struggling in this tension in any of your close relationships, ask Him for His love to be poured through you.

I believe this is a prayer He delights to answer.
<3

Blessed from rubbing elbows with the Body

How was your weekend?

Ours was full and as I sit here mulling over what to write you all today, I keep thinking how much I hear church and church people dissed these days.

Not just by the world, but by other believers.

I hear things like how we are hypocrites and how all people know about us is what we are against…and how we need to live it out better…and how the reason people leave church is because of people in the church…

and like I said … that stuff is said by BELIEVERS.

So I look back over the weekend we just had and I thank God for the Church of Jesus Christ I got to rub elbows with this weekend…

Like Friday night as we packed into an overflow crowd of friends and church family and people I have never seen before…200 plus strong…and enjoyed a wee visit to Ireland through the varied talents of a variety of musicians.

Right there in the cafe and lobby of our church. A whole different way to worship…with the Body…

Saturday we attended the pancake breakfast at the church of some long-time friends. We go every year and eat enough carbs to last us quite a while.

We sit at the tables with people we don’t know, but we make conversation because we love Jesus…and pancakes, of course.

Then there was Sunday morning when I stopped in the prayer room and found a spot at the table where two warriors kept their heads bowed in prayer for the services and the people who would be gathering to hear God’s Word.

And when they lifted their heads…the peace and the slightest remnants of tears because they had been at the Throne on behalf of the hearts and souls entering the doors of our church or the ones God is calling who have not yet responded.

As one left to attend the worship service, one lingered and we talked a bit.

We talked about things of God…about what we lack and how He provides…about His grace and His mercy….about hope.

Not because we have the answers but because we know He does.

And we shared and encouraged and gave Him glory and she went on and I stayed.

Encouraged and edified because I am part of something bigger than just me, myself and I …IN Christ…I am attached to the Body.

Later we went up and watched these yahoo’s while their mommy and daddy went to rub elbows with some other parts of the Body.

They had small group and so they left the basketball games that our son-in-law would love to watch…and they studied a bit and talked a bit with other young couples around their age.

And they prayed.

Not because they have all the answers but because they know who does.

And they came home and we had dinner together, which was as much a circus as a meal with three boys can be….and their dad got up and picked up macaroni and broccoli from around the high chair and there were numerous reminders to finish the protein and keep the milk glasses from the edge of the table….

I am quite certain this morning they are wiping up crumbs and doing it all again…

as they try to apply the good things they talked about last night.

Living out their faith one messy day at time.

Just like all of us who follow Christ.

Sometimes falling short…sometimes seeing a marvelous sign post of God’s faithfulness.

Pressing on…

elbow to elbow…

side by side…

arm in arm…

with others who love Jesus.

Not perfect…but not hypocrites or phonies or anything ..just fellow sojourners…travelers on the journey…learning as we go.

Let’s be careful how we talk about each other.

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church:

every part dependent on every other part,

the parts we mention and the parts we don’t.

If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt,

and in the healing.

If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

1 Corinthians 12: 25-26    The Message <3

 

A slice of life on the journey

First a little bit of floral loveliness just for you….

Because it’s snowing here…

S.N.O.W.I.N.G.

Ahhh…the Midwest…where you get all four seasons in a week, year round…

This weekend we spent some time with this girl…

having some excellent food…

and visiting the Degas exhibit at the art museum where the only picture I took was…

because…I can still hear the voice of the children’s librarian reading this in story hour with a squirmy couple of little Reimer’s on my lap.

And this one…

because…

Best. Day. Ever.

<3

Happy Monday!

Now go put your snow boots on and conquer your world <3