Don’t Fear Love

Love is one of the greatest challenges of all times and has provided countless headaches over the centuries. This little word has created such a stir that I’m sure entire countries would split if someone tried to put the word in any type of legal or political documents. It’s a word we’ve become wary of, one that holds too many meanings (aka traps) and has been exhaustively over analyzed. It’s been used where it doesn’t belong, and as an inappropriate scapegoat. So we’ve run from it.

But what I realized today was that as we’ve run from our definition and application of love, we’ve run from Love. We’ve backed away from the one who can teach us what love really is, what it really means to love and be loved. We’ve put Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit in every other corner we can think of while throwing, maybe even catapulting, Love out of the ring. It’s no wonder that we’re so confused as to what love is and if we’re loved.

2 Timothy 1:7 says: “The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control.” Paul is reassuring Timothy here, as well as all of us that we have no reason to be afraid of what love truly is, specifically and especially when we are looking for the truth about love from Love itself.

Let’s be honest: it will be scary when you first open your heart, open your mind to love again. True love is all consuming, never ending and more patient than any of us deserve. But there are countless examples and verses of reassurance throughout the Bible that tell us that when we love God and are open to His Love we’ll get it and be glad we have it. He promises to be there for us, to support us, to affirm our beauty and value, to celebrate the great moments and comfort us in the bad ones. Feeling a little funny about all that attention, all that, dare I say it, love? It’s not easy to get used to what love really is, maybe that’s why so many of us have shied away from it.

Remember that old song you sang as a child, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…?” Life may have seemed a lot more simple back then, but the reality is that we’ve let other things get in the way of accepting that some things are just that simple. Love can be very complicated, but when you really take a look at it, it all boils down to the fact that Jesus loves us, has provided the best example, and always will be the best example of what love is for us.

This week I encourage you to take lots of deep breaths and open your heart to what God wants to tell you about love, and what it really is. He won’t rip your heart out and stomp all over it, He may have a strong dose of reality for you though. And no matter what the truth will always remain that God loves you and wants you to love Him.

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Creating a Habit of Love

This month as we talk about the topic of freedom I thought we would start with a great verse from Galatians. Galatians 5:13 says “Use your freedom to serve one another in love.”

We’ve got a lot of choices that we have to make as we navigate through each day of our lives. Sometimes we make choices because we’re tired or frustrated or annoyed or we don’t like someone or someone was mean to us. In those cases we are known to make some snap judgments and say things that we may not necessarily mean. Yes, there are things we can do to reduce those issues and increase our freedoms, and we’ll talk about that in another post. But the question is if there’s one thing, one habit, that we can take on that will make our lives and choices better what would it be? Galatians reminds us that it’s love.

Love is a persistent theme throughout the Bible. It’s not something that the Bible is shy about or paints as one dimensional. In fact the Bible can be pretty graphic about it, certainly so for a book that’s read by kids and adults alike. And while the Bible may not offer specific advice about certain situations we find ourselves in some 2000+ years after it was written, I can confidently say that there are a few things that haven’t and won’t change, including Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection which forever changed the futures of all who believe, and the importance of love in our lives.

If you’re looking for a little freedom in your life, for your life to start improving, for your relationships to get better, or even for a way to serve God more, I would encourage you to work on creating a habit of love in your life. It’s not something you’re able to get overnight like you can get a t-shirt or other special delivery, it’s something that you have to work on developing through changes and commitments in your attitude, heart, and mind. Not only will you benefit from choosing love in your life, so will the others you interact with. Will you choose love this week?

Mother’s Day Blessings

Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day we stop to appreciate and remember those women who have had an impact on our lives.  A word that I think really sums up this celebration is blessing.  It’s a word I’ve been sharing about quite a bit with you lately, because it’s an important word, one that often gets buried in our lives underneath “challenge” and “problem”.  This Mother’s Day think about these different blessings:

Bunches of Blessings:
One of the easiest and most popular gifts for Mother’s Day is flowers.  Personally, I prefer the potted kind instead of the cut kind because they last longer.  Whatever your flower preference is, don’t forget that what you’re giving isn’t as important as remembering to truly celebrate the one you’re giving them to.  Think of not only what you’re gifting, but also the gift of having a mother this Mother’s Day.

Bountiful Blessings:
In this world of abundance, abundant gas prices, abundant unemployment, and abundant opportunities for growth, change and development, one thing we don’t stop to think about is having abundant blessings.  Psalm 23:6 sheds some light on where we get those abundant blessings: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  More so than anyone, mothers should be dwelling with God.  If they’re to be amazing mothers, they need a lot of strength, wisdom and many blessings from God.

Boxes of Blessings:
Sometimes our blessings come in disguise.  I’ve been meditating a lot on a song by Laura Story, Blessings, (on YouTube).  Her song reminded me that sometimes our blessings are like items that we get in boxes in the mail.  We don’t really know what’s in the box, but we hope it’s what we want.  Sometimes, the box doesn’t contain what we want, or what we did want is in the box but it’s not in good condition.  It’s the boxes of blessings that most often bring us to our knees asking for guidance.

Bundles of Blessings:
Mother’s Day is a celebration of the gift of life. Psalm 139 contains David’s thoughts on how God begins our lives with us.  God’s special plan for each of our lives includes our mothers.  If you are blessed with the opportunity to be a mother, remember to thank God for it, because not everyone is blessed with that calling.

This Mother’s Day, in all of the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to say a prayer for all of the mothers around the world, and those who have a desire to be mothers.   Also, consider the bunches, bounty, boxes and bundles in your life.  These aren’t just lessons for Mom, they’re lessons that everyone needs to gather in their life.

Psalm 16:5 says “Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.  You guard all that is mine.”  I hope that blessings overflow in your life (and your mom’s life) this weekend, and I encourage you to take the time to celebrate and recognize all the blessings God sends your way.

Reality Reflection: Letting Love In

This month one of the things we’ve been talking about is love.  As I was thinking about love I thought about all the different ways we can see love, feel love, express love, share love and define love.  Love isn’t black and white, it’s something that evolves, changes, grows, multiplies, and can be different for each and every person.  There’s a lot more to love than just saying “read a romance novel” or “get married.”  Love isn’t something you can really put in a box.  Plenty of people have tried though, and I think more often than not it’s those people who have the worst experiences when it comes to love (and try to ruin it for the rest of us).

If you want the best experience possible when it comes to love I think you have to be open to seeing where it takes you.  You have to be willing to take the good with the bad, to listen to the experiences of others, to try new things, and to work for it.  Sometimes it is effortless, but if you let it go for too long without contributing or exploring, the overall quality and longevity of love may begin to suffer, especially when it comes to relationships.

Yes, some people can go through life with a very narrow view of the world, very limited skill set or very limited interaction with others.  However, now more than ever people are wanting to get more out of their lives and actually have the opportunity to get more out of their lives.  We aren’t as limited as we were even 5 or 10 years ago in many regards, let alone 50 or 100, now more than ever we have the ability to become our best self ever and get the most out of our lives and the world we share.

The same is true for love.  Some people have very limited interactions with love and they leave it at that. However, I don’t believe that’s the way to live life.  I believe that our lives are better when they have love in them and that we’re better people when we choose love.  Love isn’t always easy, but in some ways it can be much easier if we’re willing to be open to how it changes and reveals itself to us and the teaching/learning opportunities that are presented to us.  There are tons of ways to have more love in your life, the question is are you willing to experience all that you may feel and see when you really let love into your life?

A Little Love for Everyone?

As we think about this month’s topic of love and the celebration of Earth Day later this week I wanted to share a verse that will challenge us on both topics: Psalm 24:1 says:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

First this verse reminds us that if we really care about God and are following Him, we’ll take care of what He has given us.  That means being a little more aware of what you’re buying and doing and how you’re interacting with nature and the impact you have on it.  We all have an impact, but we can make smarter choices to minimize that impact and protect the gift God has given us.

Second this verse reminds us that God created everything in the world, all of the plants, animals, creepy crawlers, and people.  I know it’s hard to imagine the God that created you and me also creating things like scorpions.  It’s also hard to imagine the God that created Billy Graham created Hitler too, but according to this verse, He did.

Which brings us to our challenge.  It can be really easy to be sloppy and lazy and not take care of the earth, after all there’s a really good chance that it will last through our lifetimes regardless of the damage we do.  It can also be really easy to just focus on the nice and good people and ignore those who display their faults and imperfections more than the rest of us do.  But this verse challenges us to remember that God has called us to care for that which is His; all of it.  That means attempting to remove our judgements, preconceived notions, prejudices and opinions and trying to see things from God’s perspective, which can be easier said than done.

But just like with caring for the earth and making earth-friendly decisions, treating all others with respect and courtesy, and maybe even love, is something you can get into the habit of doing.  God didn’t say it would be easy, but He called us to set the example for our fellow man.  So as we move away from Easter and toward Earth Day, I encourage you to consider how you can be more considerate of “everything” that the Lord has created.  What ways will you choose to show love today?

Love and Happiness

This month one of the topics we’re talking about is love.  It’s a big topic and one that impacts all of us on a regular basis.  Today I want to talk about one aspect of love that’s always controversial, the topic of happiness.  Some people see love as the answer to their everlasting happiness, and that’s not surprising given the number of happy endings and happily ever afters we’re seeing on TV and movies or reading about.  And love can play a role in happiness, some of the happiest people I know have love in their lives.  But there are also people who expect love to bring them that happiness or create happiness in their life and don’t experience it.  In some cases love did exist and then life happened and the love changed or died.  That happens, but it’s not the full answer to the love/happiness debate.

Let’s start with the good side of love and happiness: it works.  People who have love in their life, whether the love of a pet, a family member, a significant other or a career that they love and truly fulfills them are often happier than those who don’t.  Those bonds of love can be part of the reason that they’re happy and give them the courage and strength to work through challenges that happen as a natural part of life, meaning they’re unhappy less often than other people.  Of course the reverse can be true as well: those who are happy tend to have more love in their life.  It’s not really easy to love a grump, but it is easier to love those who have a good attitude towards life.

That’s not to say that love or happiness means you’ll never have problems or that life will be perfect.  That’s not true for anyone, not even the happiest or most in-love person.  Everyone has bad days.  Those who depend on the love of another for their happiness are taking a big risk and putting a lot of responsibility where it doesn’t really belong.  It’s no one’s job but yours to ensure your happiness, health or satisfaction with life.  If you’re not in a situation that makes you happy and you’ve really given it a full effort to make it work you should leave.  I’m not encouraging that you chase every rainbow or every bit of greener grass, but if you’re not in a good situation and you can’t make it better and the other people in the situation won’t help you make it better, then be encouraged that there are many other opportunities and people out there.  You may find that you have to kiss a few frogs first as the saying goes though.

We’ll be talking on the Life and Business blog tomorrow more about the relationship between love, happiness and relationships, but for today I want to finish here with a bit of encouragement.  Love can be messy, as can life. But I believe there is hope and happiness to be found in each and every day if we’re open to it and willing to work for it.

Reasons of the Heart

What motivates you?  Today I’m thinking about motivation as I deal with unmotivated clients and have personally struggled to find my stride again after dealing with some life and health situations. I think the biggest challenge is that we say to ourselves that we’ll deal with “x” when we’re through this challenge.  But as soon as we get through a challenge we’re hit with something else and that thing, “x”, that seemed so important still seems really important, but is just getting further buried under the challenges of life, things that seem more pressing than “x”.

So what if we backed up a whole lot and thought about why we get up in the morning. And no, I’m not really talking about the fact that you get up because the sun is up or the alarm goes off or the kids run in and bounce on the bed or because you have to go to a job or because the kids are up and may be heading to school.  Some of those things can be indicators for why you get up, but in most cases if we really were honest, they’re not the reason we get out of bed.  The unfortunate thing is that many of us don’t get out of bed because we’re excited and thankful for a new day.  We get up because we have to, or at least that’s the attitude we have about it.

Sure, you could stay in bed, and maybe your boss or kids would be willing to work with you on that.  Maybe the kids are willing to climb in bed with you with cups with lids and watch a TV show or two for an hour so you can mentally wrap your head around the day ahead or just rest with them and maybe even catch up on your emails or read a book.   Maybe your boss would love someone to come in an hour later and leave an hour later because it will help deal with the client issues that always seem to crop up at the end of the day better.  You don’t know until you ask.

But now we’ve completely gotten sidetracked.  The question, if you remember, is why do you get out of bed in the morning?  What really and truly motivates you to live your life each day?  Is there anything that you’re really feeling motivated by, or have you let life get the best of you and you’ve stopped looking forward to what the day will bring.  I believe each and every day can hold some really amazing things, but we don’t always have the open eyes or heart to receive them.

As part of what we do for the last week of the month I do want to take a look at being motivated, but I really want to work on tapping back into our hearts and listening to them again, believing in them and ourselves and opening up to the best this world has to offer, rather than just floating along.

“The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.”  Blaise Pascal