'God’s love' tagged posts

Contentment vs. Complacency

Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi is an interesting read. He’s nearing the end of his life and he’s in jail in Rome. There are all sorts of discussions out there about “how do you want to be remembered?” or “at the end what will you say was most important to you?”  These are Paul’s last recorded words that we have. And while the letter as a whole is fascinating it’s what he says at the end that really stands out to me.

Philippians 4:8-13

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Over the years I’ve struggled with his statements about being content. Seriously, Paul, couldn’t you have given us a bit more info about what you mean when you say you are content?

The Image of God

I somehow made it through both middle school and high school without a random guy slapping my butt in an inappropriate attempt at humor and attraction. I was in my twenties before I realized this was a rarity among women and in my thirties before I seriously started to think about the intersection of my faith and of my gender. Just as importantly, I started to think about how society viewed those two, sometimes disparate parts, of my whole self. Now in my forties, I am closely observing how the church handles the ripples from sexism, feminism, questionable leadership, the #metoo movement, toxic masculinity, and other controversial topics- stones thrown onto the seemingly smooth surfaces of often patriarchal modern American church culture. One of the most frustrating aspects of this experience is that it seems impossible to engage in any kind of healthy dialogue without the discourse becoming entangled in a web of political extremes and biases that result in angry hackles being raised, ending the conversation before it can even begin.

I think that the tension surrounding these topics make us pause, hesitant to engage, hesitant to speak our minds, perhaps even hesitant to know our minds to begin with.

Thankfully Jesus had no such qualms, even though challenging gender norms held far more serious consequences in His time than they do now. He waded into danger, confident in who He was as the Savior of all and confident in the never changing character of God – Holy, Just, Loving, and Truthful.

Prone to Wander: A Comparison Driven Life

If I’m being completely honest with myself, much of my misery comes from wanting to live out someone else’s story.

Yes, I am a single woman, living on my own, with a job I enjoy. I have a terrific sister who allows me the latitude to play a large role in my nephew’s lives. I like that I can play the piano and worship God through music.

But comparison seeps in and the lovely aspects of my life lose their luster. What gives me life and light grows dim in the looming shadow that is Comparison.

It’s more than comparing my life to someone else’s. The comparison that gets to me are the “what could have been” and “what should have been” narratives.

I should have been more loving.I could have been a lovely wife.
I could have been a great parent.
I should not have to carry this burden alone.
I could have been more if I had more money, time, space, etc.

Sometimes I want to be all of these things, have all of my wishes, live my best life. And in the depths of my desperate thinking, I protest God because I don’t like the story he’s writing for me.

And I audaciously ask for different one.

What He Says of 2019

As what happens at the close of every year, we begin to look back on the 365 days we lived and we reflect on what that year held.

We think about the highs, the lows, the mountains, and the valleys. And in more recent years, our social media accounts, which begin to reflect those things as well. Our Facebook accounts pull up memories from three years prior. Our Instagram show us our “top nine” photos of the year. Spotify tells us our most streamed genres, artists, and songs.

I personally enjoy seeing these year-end round-ups; my Instagram top nine included photos of my 21st birthday, my transformation photo after losing thirty pounds, and photos when my best friend from Boston came to visit me after the tragic loss of twelve lives in our hometown. It truly showed some wonderful mountains and some really low and dark valleys, but in the end, it reminded me of some wonderful milestones that 2018 held for me and made me excited for what is to come in 2019.

My Spotify account reflected a similar round-up: a mix of songs that got me through some serious waves of grief, a tough break up, and a multitude of other events of 2018.

You Say

I was not surprised to see my top song of 2018 was “You Say” by Lauren Daigle.

If you haven’t heard this song, drop everything right now and listen to it. I discovered this song in August when I began my senior year of college, a year that I truly did not think I would make it to, after the hardships that 2017 and 2018 brought to me and my family. As I went through the first semester of my senior year, I was constantly bombarded with questions, doubts, and anxieties about things in daily life, things from the past, and the unknown of the future.

Love Covers…

I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays.

I am certain that I am not alone in this. There may or may not be breaks from work, travel, lots of food, time with family. And there is where the rub occurs for many of us.

Family.

I love my family, except in those moments when I don’t. We all have these moments. Someone says or does something that raises your ire. Maybe harsh words follow. Feelings are hurt. Then comes the awkward dance trying not to make things worse as some tiptoe around the eggshells. I am fairly certain that all of us have experienced some version of this.

I am perfectly willing to take some of the blame within my own family. I can be pretty opinionated and not always sensitive to the feelings of others. And why can’t my family see things the way that I see them? It is such a selfish position. Why doesn’t everyone else feel the way I do, why don’t they see things the way I do, why don’t they believe the same things, and more. In those moments I add to the struggles, because all I am focused on is myself and what I want or care about.

The Bible is pretty clear that relational strife has been around for a very long time. It is actually part of the curse for Adam and Eve after eating the forbidden fruit. In fact, the first books of the Bible, which tell the history of the people of Israel, are filled with stories of dysfunction. Lying, cheating, adultery, abuse, murder and more–and that’s just in one family over multiple generations. The really crazy part is this is all part of the family heritage for Jesus.

That is where things get even more complicated. As followers of Jesus we are now called part of the family of God.

What?

Something to Talk About: A Couple of Things We’ve Learned About the Dialogue of Marriage

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I still have the email.  Received nearly 17 years ago.  Sent from one side of the country to the other.  The one where he told me he loved me.

With joy I received those words from the one who’d already so completely stolen my heart.

But in the same email he shared his fears.  He referred to an Oscar Wilde play, “Our House.”  In the play the husband and wife of many years stop talking to each, not because they are angry, but simply because they have run out of things to say.  If he and I continued to pursue this relationship, if we eventually committed to a life spent together, would we too someday run out of things to say?

Celebrating Dr. King: Five Ideas from My Family to Yours

The focus of our attention indicates who and what we will become—both as an individual and as a people. Reflecting on the monuments of our past, then — monuments of both good and of evil — can build in us resolve and direction for the character of our future. And for the follower of Jesus, these monuments serve also to build in us gratitude and confidence in the activity of God — as well as to build a horror of the ways that the ‘normal’ sins of pride and self-indulgence and mindless conformity inevitably work to compound into monstrosity. We do not look back to become mired in the past — we look back to build into ourselves character that propels us forward.

This weekend, Americans celebrate a magnificent monument of our past — a monument that reminds us both of the haunting expanse of evil and of the brilliant momentum of good. For much of my life, I missed what that meant, and, aside from an obligatory school assembly, I gave little thought to the significance of the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday.

The result of my white privilege? Absolutely. Of the self-centeredness of my youth? Yeah… that too.

A number of years ago, however, I began to recognize an opportunity — the opportunity to honor a noble man, certainly, and thereby to honor and strengthen the values for which he stood … and in doing so, to build for myself and my family a forward-propelling character.

Here are some ideas, from my family to yours, for honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr — and perhaps, for gleaning some of his character to build into your own:

The Quilt

Many years ago a young woman started a quilt for the baby she was expecting. It started with one small square, two inches on each side. Diligently she added one square at a time, each hand stitched to the next. However, when the baby girl arrived, life got overwhelming and she put the quilt aside […]

A Message from the Mountain

Mr.RainierRounding the turn on Highway 16 on my way to work each morning, past Cheney Stadium, then a quarter mile more and, on a clear day, I’m struck by the towering presence of Mount Rainier.  Her prominent position immediately demands attention, lifting my eyes upward to glorious heights.

Sometimes the Mountain is shrouded in misty, low lying fog, only her peak showing.  Sometimes she’s capped by soft curving clouds, shaped by the wind that sweeps up and over.  And sometimes the sun shines unhindered on white slopes and craggy outcroppings, revealing all her beauty, yet leaving the mystery of grinding glaciers and deep crevasses to the imagination.  At this distance it is not a terrible or dangerous beauty laid bare before me; yet I know she is not a gentle hill.  A heart of fire beats within her, and though I cannot see the fearful power in her grandeur from behind the wheel of my Toyota, I know it’s there.

Almost daily I lift up my eyes to that mountain.  For a moment my thoughts are stilled and I remember – I am small.

It’s All About Me

It’s all about me. Have you noticed?  Me seems to think that “Me is the center of the universe”.  Occasionally, Me thinks of other things, but mostly, Me just thinks about Me.  This has been a puzzlement to Me.  Me doesn’t want to be thinking just about Me all the time.  You know, “me this; […]