Monthly Archives: November 2007

Boxes, Boxes Everywhere . . .

I have not deserted this blog. Honest. But I’ve been a little busy with boxes lately.

The toys are boxed up. The pictures are off the walls and snuggled in bubble-wrap. And if you want a drink of iced tea at my house, you’re drinking it out of a styrofoam cup because all the glasses are wrapped in newspaper and stacked in a box. Much to the delight of the children, I’m boxing up the homeschool books this afternoon. And whatever happens to have found its way into that tiny closet in the dining room is about to be discovered and boxed up.

We’ve made more trips to Goodwill and the dump than we can count. Actually, we’ve probably donated things we didn’t really want to donate because the children tend to add to or take away from the Goodwill piles.

In the midst of all the boxing up or carting off, we have also been saying our goodbyes. We’ve had friends over for playing or chatting, friends over for saving the universe on the Xbox, friends over to help fill boxes. (The great thing about moving is that all your friends totally expect the house to be a wreck, so you don’t have to clean first.) We’ve met friends for coffee and dessert or for lunch. We’ve traveled to see relatives we won’t see for a year, and we’re both celebrating and mourning our last AWANA night and last Sunday in Children’s Church. We’ve had goodbye parties, and we have a couple more to go. Honestly, it’s been difficult for me to drag out all the goodbyes over the course of three weeks. I’d rather do all my crying in one afternoon.

We’re feeling excited to finally be going where we have wanted to be for more than a year. We’re sad to be leaving the only home our children have ever known. We’re very sad to be leaving the friendships we have taken years to build. Some of us are nervous about going to school. Some of us are nervous about finding a new church. Some of us are sad that when we walk around the grocery store in our new town, we won’t know anyone. We are exhausted from all the sorting and boxing. We are exhausted from all the emotional highs and lows. I am exhausted from reassuring and comforting my children, from trying to make this move easier on them.

So . . . that is how I am. But I am also at great peace. I know we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. It is difficult to leave behind so much of what we love. But we are following our Lord’s leading; we are going where we know He has called us. And so it is a privilege to sacrifice, a privilege to leave it all behind and follow Him. We are compelled by His love for us and our love for Him.

As long as I keep my mind fixed on that, I am content and at peace among my boxes.

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A Yummy Tradition

My sweet friend, JavaDawn has been writing about Christmas traditions over at her blog. So I thought I would tell you about one of our favorite (and certainly our yummiest) holiday traditions.

We have banana splits for breakfast on Christmas morning. I know it’s a little weird. It’s most definitely a tradition unique to our family.

Before the banana-splits-eating tradition, I made these really cute little French toast Christmas trees that I had seen in a Family Fun magazine. We made French toast, cut them in half triangularly, and sprinkled green sugar on top. Then we stacked them to look like a tree and used link sausage as the trunk. (Can you picture that?)

The problem with these cute little trees was that our children didn’t actually want to eat them. With the green sugar and the syrup, they were just sicklying-sweet. (Yes, I know . . . . and like banana splits aren’t!) Anyway, my children wouldn’t eat the French toast.

So I was sort of searching for a new Christmas morning breakfast tradition. I considered monkey-bread, cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs. But none of those seemed special and unique to Christmas. So on I searched.

Then one October, my husband was out-of-town for business. He had been gone since very early Monday morning, and it was Wednesday night. The children were wired from AWANA, and I was exhausted and wanted them to go to bed. I didn’t want them to get up a hundred times to get drinks or tell me that someone else was talking. I didn’t want laughing or punching or wrestling. I just wanted them to sleep. So I resorted to bribery.

We had ice cream in the freezer and bananas on the counter. I told the children that anybody who went to bed quietly and quickly and fell right asleep would get a banana split for breakfast. Remember — it had been a difficult week; I was tired and running out of options. I had five small children and my husband was all the way in California or somewhere.

It worked! The children went to bed perfectly that night. And everyone got banana splits for breakfast the next morning. A whole banana, one and a half scoops of ice cream, a little bit of hot fudge, some nuts. It involved fruit, dairy, and protein — not a bad breakfast, really. 🙂

So a few weeks later, we were discussing what to do about Christmas breakfast. What would make a good replacement for that green French toast nobody ate? All of the children screamed out, “Banana splits!” And a favorite Christmas tradition was born.

So, one morning each year we have ice cream for breakfast. And, unlike the green French toast trees, there’s not a bit of banana split left in anyone’s bowl.

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No Giver’s Remorse

Sometimes my children get caught up in the moment of love and generosity and they give each other extravagant gifts.  Caleb will wrap his favorite toy in a blanket and present it to his sister for her birthday.  Rachel will put a beloved stuffed animal in a box and lovingly give it to a brother who is having a tough day.  It really is very sweet.  In that moment, overwhelmed by love for a sibling and the desire to give a gift that represents that love,  the giver truly wants to give his most precious possession.   

But the next day, or sometimes only a few hours later, those feelings of generosity and love have faded a little.  In their place is a giver’s remorse, a longing for the favorite toy.  So the generous little giver goes in search of his favorite robot or her favorite stuffed animal or his favorite rubber frog.  Finding it, he takes it back to his room as if he had never given it away.  She sleeps with it because, after all, it is her favorite brown dog and her brother may not care for it as lovingly as she would.   

Now, there is a certain understanding in our home that these loving, spontaneous gifts are only symbolic tokens.  Every child understands that when Caleb gives you his fuzzy bear blanket, he doesn’t mean for you to actually keep it; he only means for you to see that he loves you and would like to give you a bear blanket if he had two of them.  He fully intends to sleep with that blanket tonight after you give it back to him.   

When our daughters were born, we stood in front of our church family and dedicated each girl to God.  We promised that we would teach them about Jesus, love them and nurture them, raise them in the admonition of the Lord, and train them in the way they should go.  In front of God and everyone, we gave these little girls to God for His glory.

It was a lovely ceremony.  I received a rose from our pastor.  We received a certificate of dedication to put in their baby books.  We took lots of pictures and even videotaped it all.   

In a way, though, those ceremonies were very much like the little gift-ceremonies my children do with each other.  The whole thing was a symbol.  I liked the idea of giving my children to God for His glory.  I presented them to Him, fully expecting Him to hand them right back to me so that I could enjoy them and raise them the way I thought was best, so I could love them and watch them grow up.  I was sure God understood that I never intended Him to actually keep my daughters.  He was supposed to be pleased with this token ceremony, this symbol of my love and dedication to Him.   

When Rachel, our second child, was three months old, she stopped growing. She stopped getting longer, and she even started losing weight. Not only that, she was not reaching developmental milestones appropriate for her age. She couldn’t lift her head or control her neck. Her gross motor skills were those of a newborn.

Our doctor was concerned; the specialist he referred us to was concerned; and we grew concerned. And so we began a variety of medical tests. I collected stool samples. From a four month old. What a challenge! I also collected urine specimens. An even bigger challenge! We did the sweat test for cystic fibrosis. Our doctor tested her blood, looking for signs of cancer. We scoped down her throat and into her stomach. We scoped up her . . . well, you know. The doctor did a biopsy of stuff he scraped from her colon and of stuff he scraped from her esophagus.

After all the tests, we waited for results. The waiting was the hardest part. Our precious, beautiful little baby was not growing, not developing, and we waited to hear why. Did she have food allergies we would adapt to? Or did she have a disease like cystic fibrosis that would take her life in early adulthood? Or did she have some cancer that would take her life even sooner?

One evening, in the midst of all the waiting, I drove to the grocery store. On the way, I talked with God. I cried and explained all the reasons He should spare my daughter, all the reasons He should make her grow and develop at a normal pace. I laid out my plans for her, my plans to raise her to love Him and serve Him. I explained what a blessing her life could be. Finally, I arrived in the grocery store parking lot and turned off the engine. There, in the darkness and quiet, I stopped telling God what He should do. I was out of words. So I just sat in the silence and cried.

In the quiet, the Holy Spirit spoke to me.  Jennifer, did you or did you not give Rachel to Me? When you said you dedicated her to Me, were those empty words? Do you trust me? Remember, I love Rachel even more than you do. I know what is best. Trust me. Give her to me.

Sobbing, I asked God to forgive me. And in that moment, I truly placed Rachel in His hands.

There were moments that I wanted to take her back, moments when I was tempted to believe I could handle being in control. But the Holy Spirit gently nudged me each time and I remembered my conversation with Him.

As it turned out, all of Rachel’s tests revealed nothing. For a long time, she was not even on the growth charts. Her lines were way below the zero percentile. For one year, a physical therapist worked with her to develop her gross motor skills. A speech therapist taught me how to work with the muscles in her mouth so she would be able to eat solid food. In time, though, Rachel did grow and develop.

Today, she is a short eight year old who can run and jump and twirl and dance. She still has some sensitivities with food textures and, of course, she has Tourette Syndrome, which we believe is unrelated to her developmental and growth delays as a baby.

When she was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and now, on her rough days, I still need the Holy Spirit to gently remind me that Rachel belongs to God. He loves her far more than I do, and He has perfect plans for her. I can trust Him.

And so, even when I am tempted, I do not take her back. I mean for God to keep her because I know she is better off in His care than she is in mine. I trust Him. And not only with Rachel, but with my five other most precious gifts. I have no giver’s remorse.

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Miscellaneous Monday – 11/12/07

Today, I’ll begin a list of great Christmas gifts for under $25. If you have any ideas, please add them.

1. P31 Woman magazine subscription for $15. This magazine is an extension of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Just click on this link to order a subscription.

2. Steven Curtis Chapman’s latest album, This Moment. $13.99 at Family Christian Stores, $13.88 at WalMart, $9.99 through iTunes.

3. Any book by author Jill Briscoe. She is a phenomenal communicator and will draw your heart closer to God.

4. Any of the Sisterchicks books by Robin Jones Gunn.

5. Two soccer balls for impoverished children in a country like Kenya. These soccer balls replace a ball of banana leaves or wads of trash. $16 through World Vision. What soccer coach wouldn’t be pleased to receive a card explaining you bought this gift in his honor?

6. Tell Me What You Know, the newest CD from Sara Groves. $14.99 if you order it from her website. $13.99 from Family Christian Stores and a portion of the proceeds goes to the James Fund, a non-profit organization that meets the needs of widows and orphans around the world.

7. While you’re at Sara Groves’ website, you should go ahead and order a copy of the NOMAD DVD featuring Sara and subtitled Just Showed Up For My Own Life. It’s $14.99.

8. A jar of home-made apple butter. You can make it in your crock-pot, and it is super-easy. Just peel and slice apples to fill your crock pot and begin to cook them on low. After the apples start to cook, sprinkle on about 2 – 3 cups of sugar and stir. After the apples have cooked down a little and the mixture has gotten somewhat juicy, sprinkle generous amounts of cinnamon and some nutmeg, ground cloves, and allspice. Mix and cook until the mixture is as smooth as it will get. Stir with a mixer on low or use a hand-blender to smooth out the remaining chunks of apple. Then spoon apple butter into canning jars. Tighten lids on and the lids will seal themselves while cooling. Easy apple butter! A great home-made gift. Give with a basket of biscuits or a loaf of bread or a basket of spice muffins.

9. Angela’s Thomas’ Do You Think I’m Beautiful?. This book will be an encouragement to any woman on your gift list. Angela’s humor and straightforwardness make you feel like you’re sitting on the sofa having conversations with her while you read this book. And her heart to help women be drawn to the Groom will bless you.

10. Ghirardelli chocolates. My favorites are milk chocolate filled with caramel, but the dark chocolate filled with caramel aren’t bad either. 🙂 And the dark chocolate filled with mint are pretty good. And the plain dark chocolate squares are yummy with coffee. Oh, yeah, and the plain milk chocolate squares are also delicious. I’m not too picky about my Ghirardelli chocolates.

Soon, I will post creative ideas for themed gift baskets.

What about you? What inexpensive gift ideas do you have?

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Row, Row, Row My Boat, Spinning In A Circle

Do you ever have days, or strings of days, when it seems you can’t get your act together? I’ve had a couple of those days lately. It’s discouraging. It’s frustrating.

I’m not a devil-behind-every-rock kinda girl, but I do think there’s some spiritual warfare going on around our home. I think there has been for quite a while now. We’re in the midst of a huge life-change, a big step of obedience to follow God’s plan for our lives. And our adversary is not one bit happy about it. So things keep going wrong and we often feel like we’re trying to accomplish the tasks on our to-do list, but we find ourselves spinning our wheels. Like the disciples in Matthew chapter 14, we feel like we’re rowing against the wind. We know we’re in the middle of God’s plan for us. We’re obeying Him; still, we’re making no progress and we’re being tossed by the waves.

Today, I have been so discouraged. I’ve felt so useless and impotent. So, of course, I’ve been grumpy and short-tempered with my family. Finally, I just couldn’t stand myself any more, so I sat down with my Bible and a notepad. I felt a little like Jacob, determined not to let go until I received a blessing.

So I turned to Matthew 14 and the story I just mentioned about the disciples rowing against the wind. Jesus had told them specifically to get in the boat and go that direction. Jesus knew the wind would pick up. That storm didn’t catch Jesus by surprise. But the disciples were scared and frustrated and going nowhere fast. And then comes my favorite part of the story, the part that gave me a blessing today. Jesus walks out on the water toward them. It’s so dark and scary that they don’t recognize Him at first. They actually think He might be a ghost. But then He speaks. Don’t be afraid! Take courage, I am here!

Of course, there’s more to that story. But that’s where I stopped. As I look over my to-do list that seems to get longer and more complicated, and as I stand over the latest mess and newest problem to deal with, and as I row and row and row and get nowhere, I imagine Jesus confidently calling to me, Don’t be afraid! Take courage, I am here!

Then as I rest in the presence of my Savior, His Spirit whispers these reminders to me:

as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. — Joshua 1:5

Do not be afraid . . . Remember the Lord great and awesome — Nehemiah 4:14

The Lord your God who goes before you, He will fight for you . . . — Deuteronomy 1:30a

But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail. — Luke 22:32a

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. — Psalm 118:6

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. — Hebrews 10:23

And like Jacob, I receive the blessing I came looking for. We are not in this battle alone. Though it appears we are making no progress, we are obeying. We are exactly where our Father has called us. And when He chooses, He will bring us safely to the destination. Until then, He comes walking on the water calling to us, Don’t be afraid! I am here!

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And My Neighbor As Myself

In Matthew chapter 28, Jesus went beyond the first and greatest command and said that the second command is like the first,

You shall love your neighbor as yourself

So as I’ve been thinking about these two great commandments, these two commandments that all of the Old Testament hinges upon, I’ve had to ask myself what loving my neighbor as myself really means. Let me warn you, this has been convicting. It’s been painful to see how miserably I have failed. And it has been tempting to wallow in guilt, which is a big waste of time. No, I don’t want to examine this commandment and its application to my life and then only feel guilty. I have been repentant, and I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me and help me change.

In thinking about loving my neighbor as myself, my lightbulb-going-off sort of moment was realizing that just as I cannot love God without first absorbing His love, I cannot love my neighbor without first absorbing His love. My love for my neighbor must come from an overflow of God’s love in me. I just can’t do it on my own.

In a way, that is freeing. Because now, loving my neighbor isn’t about a to-do list I can check off. It’s about resting in God’s presence and being filled with His love and then sloshing the overflow of that out on others. Perhaps that’s not such a beautiful analogy, but I think that’s it. It’s about being love to my neighbors. Reflecting Christ, Who is (of course) Perfect Love.

So, from now on, everything I am going to say presupposes that we are, first and foremost, being filled moment-by-moment with the love of Christ.

OK. So what does loving my neighbor as myself look like? Well, I think it does not involve giving my cast-offs, my crumbs, or my leftovers to others. I think it means that I will begin to truly love other people the same way I love myself. I will want the same opportunities and blessings and resources and experiences for others that I want for myself and my family.

Loving my neighbor means that when I hear about a homeless family in my town, I will give away my own groceries to feed their children. Loving my neighbor means that when I hear about a mother in Cambodia whose daughter was stolen and sold to a brothel the next country over, I will weep for her and send whatever money I can to International Justice Mission to help them shut that brothel down and rescue that daughter. Loving my neighbor means that when I read a headline on CNN about genocide in Africa, I will attempt to grasp the idea that thousands of people, people made in the image of God, people for whom Christ also died, have been wiped off the face of the earth as if they were nothing, as if they never mattered. I will not be able to skim that headline and move on down to the latest news about my favorite TV show.

Loving my neighbor might mean getting out of my comfort zone and visiting someone in prison. It might mean overcoming a fear of flying and traveling to Brazil to help build a church. It might mean leaving all the comforts of home and the safety of family to care for AIDS orphans in Uganda. Loving my neighbor might mean inviting my actual neighbor over for dinner, even though I can’t see that we’d have anything in common. It might mean sitting with a bedridden, elderly man so his wife can go to church.

I am certain that loving my neighbor as myself means that my heart will be broken more often, my life will get messier, my spending habits will change, my leisure activities will change. My plans won’t be the same because I won’t be the center of my attention.

If I’m loving others as I love myself, I’ll want that elderly woman trapped in spirit-worship in an obscure tribe in Papua New Guinea to hear God’s Talk, the Gospel, and have an opportunity to know Christ before she dies. I’ll want her grandchildren to have clean drinking water, and I’ll want to do whatever I can to help eradicate malaria in her village.

In the past two months, God has poured out His love on me; and the greatest miracle is that I have begun to receive His love. I have begun to absorb it and watch it puddle up in my heart, then pool up, then pour out. I cry now when I read the news. My heart hurts for people whose homes and photographs and grandmother’s hope-chests burned up in wildfires. My arms ache for the grandma who wants to hold her grandchild again but cannot because someone murdered him. I cry because someone’s daughter was killed in a car accident and because children drowned in a flood in a country I will most likely never visit.

But loving my neighbor as myself isn’t only about mourning with those who mourn, it’s also about rejoicing with those who rejoice. I have also found myself rejoicing over the news that a brothel was shut down somewhere in Asia. I have rejoiced that my brothers and sisters in the Banwaon tribe in the Philippines are finally going to get the cataract surgery they need. I have rejoiced, and I mean jump-up-and-down rejoiced, with my friends in Brazil as we watched God provide $30,000 in 29 days for their new church property. I rejoice that IJM helped prosecute and put away a rapist in Kenya and, not only that, but they are counseling with the victim and helping her move beyond that horror by paying for her schooling in a safe environment where she can heal and recover.

I can only love like this when I am filled to overflowing with the love of Christ. I can only love like this from the overflow of Him. Believe me, I can’t even love the children I gave birth to, the ones who are flesh of my flesh, unless He helps me. I certainly can’t love strangers without Him. On my own, I am selfish, and I would spend all my money and time buying books and shoes and pretty jewelry and Ghirardelli chocolate, and then I’d wear my nice shoes and pretty jewelry while reading books and eating the chocolates. I am selfish; and left to myself, I only love myself. But when I receive the love my Father has for me, when I really bask in His love, soak it in, then He will fill me up to overflowing.

I love Him because He first loves me. And I love my neighbors because He first loves me.

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All My Heart, Soul, and Mind

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about loving God. You know, Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind. So I’ve been mulling that over, pondering it, meditating on it.

I guess the first thing I notice is what the first and greatest commandment is not. Jesus did not say that the greatest commandment is to behave like a religious person. He did not say the greatest commandment is to dress like a proper Christian woman. He did not say that the greatest commandment is to teach Sunday School and cook for every potluck and help one Sunday a month in the nursery. According to Jesus, the first and greatest commandment doesn’t have anything to do with who is busiest in the church or who decorates for Vacation Bible School or who runs the ladies’ circle or who gives the most money. We can do all of those things and not love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds.

As I’ve pondered this commandment, I have found myself going back to scripture about how much God loves me. 1 John 4:19 tells us that we love because He first loved us. Until I begin to grasp God’s love for me, I won’t be able to love Him with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind.

We all know that Jesus loves us. We’ve been singing about it since we were toddlers. Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. But do we really grasp that Jesus loves us? Do we understand that the God who created the universe intimately, deeply, completely, really loves us? He loves us so much He uses wedding language to describe it. Psalm 18:16-19 describes the way God rescued us and gives us a glimpse of His heart —

He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.

Of course, that emphasis is mine because I want you to see why God rescued us. He rescued us because He delights in us. And why does He delight in me? Or in you? Because we are really good? Because we do things that really impress Him? That thought makes me laugh. As if I could do anything to impress the God who spoke this universe into existence! No, He delights in me because I belong to Him. He delights in you because you belong to Him. He delights in us because He made us in His very own image.

Let that thought sink in. God delights in you. He loves you and finds you delightful.

Zephaniah 3:17 is a beautiful example of God’s love for His people. This passage describes God’s love for Israel, but I think God feels the same way about His bride.

He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

Can you imagine that just for a minute? God, the God who reigns over the entire world, the God who parted the Red Sea, the God who knocked down the walls of Jericho, the God who enabled a donkey to speak, the God who makes barren women pregnant, the God who empowers and dethrones world leaders, the God who miraculously made a teenage virgin pregnant with His only begotten Son, the God who exists in a Trinity that we cannot comprehend, the God who made Himself a perfect, blameless sacrifice so I would not have to endure the eternal punishment for my sins . . . that God rejoices over ME. He sings over me. He laughs over me. He quiets my fears with His love.

This isn’t just a Jesus Loves The Little Children Of The World kind of love. This isn’t just a generic, God-loves-everyone kind of love. God loves me. He loves me so much my tiny, little finite mind can’t even begin to comprehend it unless the Holy Spirit helps me. And God loves you. And though your mind might not be quite as tiny as mine, you can’t comprehend without the Holy Spirit’s help either.

For this reason, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. — Ephesians 3:14-19

Paul prayed for the Ephesians (and for us, all the saints) to be strengthened and taught by the Holy Spirit so that we can know the measure of God’s love for us. This love goes beyond knowledge, beyond anything we’ve ever known before. This is a supernatural, exceedingly abundant love. Yes, God does love each of us with these same vast, immeasurable measurements, but this is a personal, individual love. God loves me with a love so wide and long and deep and high that I can’t even begin to imagine the size unless the Holy Spirit teaches me! He loves me that way! And He loves you that way!

As the Holy Spirit reveals to me again how much our God loves me, my heart swells. And I begin to love Him back. I have to receive His love and be filled with His love before I can really love Him. Any emotion I produce on my own is a shallow imitation of real love. It certainly isn’t the whole heart, whole soul, whole mind kind of love that Jesus talked about. The love I can muster up certainly doesn’t look anything like the love described in the 1 Corinthians 13 Love Chapter. I can’t love unless I am filled up with His love. When I am all filled up with God’s love for me, then that love overflows and gushes out and that’s how I love Him back. My love for Him comes from the overflow of His love for me. I love because He first loves me.

Loving Him isn’t the same as doing a bunch of stuff in His Name. Loving Him isn’t the same as being busy in my church. Loving Him isn’t the same as giving lots of money to my church or missions. Sure, love from Him and for Him can produce those actions — church work, giving, serving, helping. And it should. But I know me, and I know that I’ve substituted busy-ness and work and actions for real love. I’ve gotten busy with doing church-things and trying to appear like a good Christian, and I haven’t spent a whole lot of time sitting still and spending time with God and absorbing His love for me. Yet I know He is calling me to just be still and know that He is God, and I know that He is trying to rejoice over me and quiet me with His love if I would only sit still in His presence for 5 minutes.

My Father, my Groom, my Creator, my Lord . . . He wants me to take in His love. He wants me to soak it into my dry, dusty heart. He wants me to be with Him long enough for Him to fill me up to overflowing. Often, if I do sit down in His presence, I’m satisfied with only a tiny sip rather than waiting for Him to fill the cup over. No wonder, then, that I don’t have any overflow from which to love Him back. No wonder, then, that my attempts to love Him are pathetic shadows of the real deal.

I want to obey that first and greatest commandment. My soul longs to love Him with my whole heart, my whole soul, and my whole mind. I ache to give Him all I’ve got. But first, I must stand still, take a deep breath, and allow Him to pour out His love in me.

I love because He first loves me.

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