Wednesday, February 13, 2013

You, Yes, You!

Earlier this week I posted about my feelings on Valentine's Day. If you haven't read can read it here. I truly adore Valentine's Day. It makes me happy...even as a single girl I can say that I absolutely think it's a delightful holiday. I so enjoy seeing people take the time to express their love. You may be the exception to the rule, but as a whole, many of us don't do it quite enough. Telling someone that they are loved can change their life. It's so important to stop for the one. I was at the bank today and as I was leaving I passed an employee that was positioned as a "greeter" next to a table that had a bowl of lollipops on them. As I went to get myself a sucker I looked up at her, smiled and wished her a Happy Valentine's Day. Her demeanor completely changed from a forced smile to a relaxed smile. Now, did I just take away all her problems, issues, worries, fears? No, not at all. Did I let her know that she was worth the 5 seconds it took me to wish her well and a smile? Yes.

Life is tough. It has its many challenges. It has plenty of hurts and hard learned lessons. BUT...and I'm so thankful for that but...we can all make it a little easier by treating each other with grace, mercy and love. After all, you want to be treated that way, don't you?

It is hard to give away something you don't have to give though. If I wrote you a check for $1,000 and I didn't have anything but $0.10 in that account the bank isn't going to give you that $1,000, right? Well, if you have chosen not to receive grace, mercy and love from God than you won't be able to give it away. You can't cash out what you don't have in your account. If you haven't filled up your love bucket with His love, you're not going to have any love to give. Why is it easier for us to believe that God could love others and not accept that He truly, passionately, furiously loves us? Because He does love you with an intensity that go beyond anything our hearts and mind can fully comprehend.

The other day I was listening to an audiobook by Brennan Manning called The Furious Longing of God. He made a statement that stopped me in my tracks. I was in the car and literally said out loud...Stop It! Hit rewind on the phone and played it again and again several times. He said that God loves us as much as He loves Jesus. Now...I know that God loves Jesus and I know that He loves us...but the concept of God loving us as much as He loves Jesus seems not to add up. In John 17:23 Jesus says "...and have loved them as You have loved Me" (NKJV). Wow. It took me aback a little...and to be quite honest, I'm still trying to process that. But it's true. He does. His love does not change and is not more or less because He is LOVE. He loves you as much as He loves me and as much as He loves Jesus. Each day it is our responsibility to accept that love for ourselves. And when we accept that love, we need to freely give it away to everyone around us. It's too good to keep to ourselves. And I'm not quite sure how it works, but the more I choose to give, the more I have. I can never run out of the love of God because He is Love.

What would it look like if we all decided that each morning as we woke up we made the decision to accept the love of God and not actually get out of bed until we received it? What would it look like if we honestly knew that we were so loved and so filled with Love and were never going to run out of Love? Loving others may be easier than loving yourself, but you really can't love others until you love yourself....not in its fullness.

Maybe this Valentine's Day you should focus on letting God be your Valentine (even if you're not single) and let Him tell you how much He loves you (and don't forget to accept it!).


Monday, February 11, 2013

Show Some Love

There are not too many holidays that create such strong opinions as Valentine's Day. Now granted, there are not many holidays that are fully about one of the strongest emotions...LOVE (although, one could argue that all the Christian holidays are about love because they celebrate Love himself). 

I personally adore Valentine's Day! Yes, I am single and yes, I said I adore Valentine's Day. In fact, I got Valentine's Day gifts for my 3 nieces and as of today have given them their gifts because I couldn't wait! The gifts were small and I definitely did not spend much, but their faces lit up as the opened their gifts...each one of them. And, of course, that melted my heart. The only thing that has driven me crazy about this Valentine's Day is all the online dating sites posting an overabundance of ads everywhere. We get it and eharmony, we get it.

You see, it very well may be considered a consumer holiday...but that's because as Americans we've made it that way. There is not much that's actually known about Saint Valentine either so I know that doesn't really help. But what if we chose to look at the holiday as a reminder. Let it be a reminder for you to tell those you love just that...that you love them. We certainly do not do that enough. Life is short and each year it only seems to go by faster. Life is full of stuff. We get busy. We get distracted. We forget. We think that just because we think it that others know it. 

Many of you who are reading this (and I thank you for doing so) have lost a loved one. I know that many of my friends have felt the sting of a life being taken way before we thought appropriate. Last week we commemorated a five year anniversary of losing two of the most amazing people we have ever known. These type of events change us...forever. And one lesson that I hope we take away is to hold and squeeze your loved ones a little tighter, make time for family and friends and tell them that you love them. 

In America we have people that are physically hungry, but even more so than that type of hunger there are emotionally starving human beings. They are deprived from the one thing that they want the most, but don't always know where to find it. People are dying to be loved. They try to fill their lives with whatever they think will satisfy them. Their love buckets are empty. And there are simple things we as fellow human beings can do for each other. One being to actually tell those around us that we love them and that they are loved by God. For such a small word it packs a power punch. It can tear down walls. It can bring life. It has power. And you can never give enough of it away. 

You are furiously loved by Love himself. Accept that love and give it away. Give it freely without strings attached. Give it because the more you give the more you have (strange, but true). So, whatever your feelings are about Valentine's Day choose to let it be a reminder to tell those around you that you love them. After all, we have a holiday to remind us to be thankful, why not then have a holiday that reminds you to tell others that you love them. 

It doesn't have to be about gifts. Some of my favorite gifts ever in my life were homemade cards, drawings/paintings, simple crafts and letters. They are the gifts that were personal...that were made with me in mind. Homemade meals, picnics, quality time with each other, heart conversations...those are just as wonderful as fancy made plans. If you see Valentine's Day as a consumer holiday...don't do quality time or a letter expressing the reasons you love them. It's worth more anyway.

Love on some people today and every day....if we did a better job at that maybe we wouldn't need a holiday to remind us to do so. And if it helps, remember how it makes you feel when you are told that you are loved. Embrace the holiday...and show some love!

You are loved!

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."
1 Corinthians 13:4-7