Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Just Another Day

"Are you going to do anything special for your anniversary?", my sister asked me last week. Nothing was 'set in stone' as to what we were going to do but we had talked about going to Las Cruses -about 40 minutes away- to just get away from the house. As it turned out, we didn't go anywhere til much later in the day. My dad was not feeling well and looked like he needed some help getting around. He's been
struggling with health quite a bit and we couldn't just leave him. We wouldn't. Breakfast was an 'you're on your own' affair and we took our time getting ready. We hung around the house and watched the final three episodes of Mythbusters that we had recorded. We laughed and we even got teary eyed over their farewell. Our son Jonathan has loved that show and we all just sat around in our favorite spots in the living room watching tv together. There was no celebratory cruise or vacation. There was Chick-fil-A, however, for lunch that John went out and brought home. And who can complain about that?? Not me. It was just us enjoying another day together. Later, after Dad felt a bit better and was resting, John took me to the mall to do some shopping and we ate dinner at one of our favorite TexMex restaurants. The walk to the truck after dinner was spent admiring the lighted trees in the surrounding area, enjoying the spring evening, and listening to a Frank Sinatra era song that was playing outside for all to hear.  There wasn't much to the day of our anniversary if you want to count how much money we spent on the occasion. But there was a lot to the day. A smile, a wink, the holding of hands, the companionship. Just because we didn't go and do and spend a lot of money, or spend the night somewhere else...that didn't make our anniversary any less special. We are still together, we are still in love - and really, we were never promised another tomorrow so just another day together is pretty special. I'm amazed at how fast 21 years has gone and how much life can be lived in those years - how much joy we've celebrated, how much sorrow we've waded through...It was just another day, one not promised... and one not taken for granted, either.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Lover Or A Liar ~February Scripture Writing

February's theme for the Scripture Writing Plan was all about love. No surprise there, right? What God says about our love for Him and about our love for others is pretty straightforward and convicting when I really really think about it. I learned quite a bit from this study during February and I hope to share a few things that are on my mind concerning some of the passages. It's easy to 'generalize' the Scriptures and say what's good for us all. But to read as if God was specifically
talking to me was a bit hard to swallow. It puts the responsibility square on my shoulders. God is calling me to do something and I need to respond. Ignoring the call is a response just as much as is making some necessary changes. Last month's post was about already possessing the Spirit and power of God, but really only understanding 10% of how He can work in our lives. In studying about love this past month, I realize I have the capacity to love like He does, but only practice 10% of what I am called to do. I've scratched some notes on the side of my Scripture writing notebook and I hope I can make sense of them here.

From King David in the Old Testament to Paul in the New Testament, many verses I read professed God's love and steadfastness. I studied about His comfort, sacrifice, and giving. Compassion, deliverance, and grace were included as well. I had read all these verses before and writing the verses out each day was a great reminder that He remembers me in my 'low estate' (Psalm 136:23). He remembers my need for access to His grace (Romans 5:2) and kindness (Ephesians 2:7). He remembers I need a place to heave my troubles and that I need advice on how to stay out of trouble
(I Peter 5:6-10). All that was easy to read. Such nice thoughts to know that He cares for me. When I started studying about what my love is supposed to look like for others was when things got rough.

I John 4:12, "No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us." Verse 13 says, "Hereby know we that dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit". If I say that I am of God and that I have His Spirit in me, to love others
should come naturally. In the same chapter verse 21, "And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also." Uh-oh. Even if they don't love me back? Even when I don't feel like it? And here's the thing that 'kicked me in the teeth' so to speak and that has stuck with me the most. I John 5: 3,4, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." [Grievous: dreadful, unbearable, distressing, heavy, distasteful, offensive, sad....Ohhhhh.....ouch.] How do I know when I can exemplify God's love? When I can accept, delight in, bear, be blessed by His commandments, I know the love of God. Verse 4, "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." I wonder if I don't see more victory in my life because I have not loved as I was commanded to. I am nothing if I do not have love, compassion, grace, and mercy for others. I can be gifted in a lot of areas, I can be knowledgeable about many subjects, I can have faith to move mountains, but if I don't have charity or love, I am nothing as Paul says in I Corinthians 13:2. I am nothing and any good I do has no profit if I do it without love. Service without love brings no true harvest or value.

"He that saith, I know him, and keepth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him", (I John 2:4). I John 4:20, "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" Strong words to be called a liar, but that's what I am. I have not loved like I should have loved. Love hangs in there when things get tough. Love lives the kind and thoughtful. Love shuns boastfulness and pride. It's not to be displayed simply to show off or to be noisy and distracting...but is to be offered simply. No strings attached. "Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things", I Corinthians 13:7. To know the love of God is to preserve and protect that love that the Spirit has given me. To live without love is to live in vain.

I have been the liar. So now that I realize that, what do I do about it? I mentioned above that I wonder if I don't have more victories in my life because of my refusal to love and even forgive. Or maybe because I have loved half-heartedly. In a previous post, I briefly mentioned looking for balance this year in many areas and one of those areas is in relationships. My brother, sister, and I have never been a close unit and there are some issues that have been left unresolved. It's easier to leave those things behind and just move on. But I felt convicted during this study that no matter what the outcome - even if it meant no closer of a relationship than before- I needed to apologize for my actions as the big sister and work on the elements of love that I had been studying all month. While no fireworks went off after my apologies were made, there is a different sense of peace I sense. There is a new quietness of mind and a solace knowing I did the right thing.

I have been the liar. I say that I love God, but when my schedule for the day gets rearranged, how do I react to my dad who needs my help? When the arthritis in his back rears its ugly head and he needs to me to drive him hither and yon and when homeschooling gets put on the back burner again and house chores are neglected all week because I'm yet again on the move being a help to my dad..what is my response? I could give my body to be burned, but if I cannot love, if I cannot put his needs above my wishes,  'it profiteth me nothing', I Corinthians 13:3. So what do I do about it? I am learning to relax my posture a bit and to release my need to control my day. I adore my dad and to show impatience with things that he cannot control is not kind. To sigh and huff is to be easily provoked into frustration - which I can control.

I have been the liar in saying I love my husband and son and friends and family. "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly",
John 10:10b. He gives life MORE abundantly and tells us how to keep it alive. Yet, I reject His ways at times and look for the easier route... To wait for someone to do something for me first and sit back and hope. I say 'easier', yet it brings no victory and more struggle and just disappointment. I choose to learn the hard way. How about you? "Charity never faileth", I Corinthians 13:8 - It never breaks down, never deteriorates, is never defeated. It can't be defeated if all is given and nothing is expected in return.
It's this: Purity. Quietness of mind. Simplicity.

To know the love of God - do I want that? The hard road, but the most rewarding. To make one right decision, to offer one act of kindness, to extend one mercy at a time...When broken up into bits like that, I can digest that. It doesn't have to be so complicated.  The word 'love' has been thrown around all month due to Valentine's Day, but it's not about the flowers and fluff, nor the magic and chemistry between two people. God has thoughts about loving our enemies, our family, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Any relationship we possess between friend or foe has to be governed by love. It's in the disciplining of the mind to do what's right and needful for the other person, despite how I feel. There's a saying that says, "He's a lover not a fighter". I'm doing some attitude adjusting this month through this study and the question or call I feel the need to respond to is this:
Am I a lover or a liar? I'm workin' on the answer to that.