Tag Archives: love

Love Never Fails

IMG_0177I was barely twenty years old when Mike and I married on August 23, 1975. I confess now, though I didn’t think so then, I knew nothing of love. I was ‘in love’, but was unaware of the truth that love was not much in me.

Love was all feeling. All desire. And so much about my personal happiness. Of course, I wanted to please Mike, make him happy and keep our love alive and growing, but I had no clue how the melding of two entirely different souls would forge and shape us. I had no idea the process would continuously be both marvelous and difficult, until our last breath.

Over many years of marriage, I have failed all of love’s definitions.

Every. Single. One. And have often prevailed in love’s opposites.

After all this time, I have yet to perfect even one of these:

Love is patient. Selfishness demands, “Now!”

Love is kind. Selfishness retaliates.

Love does not envy. Selfishness is discontent.

Love does not boast. Selfishness demands recognition and approval.

Love is not arrogant. Selfishness doesn’t admit, “I am wrong.”

Love is not rude. Selfishness must have the last word.

Love does not insist on its own way. Selfishness says, “My way or the highway”.

Love is not irritable. Selfishness has many moods.

Love is not resentful. Selfishness is bitter and accusatory.

Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing. Selfishness retaliates.

Love rejoices with the truth. Selfishness hides in lies.

Love bears all things. Selfishness says, “I’ve had enough. I’m done!”

Love believes all things. Selfishness cancels faith.

Love hopes all things. Selfishness feasts on distrust and fear.

Love endures all things. Selfishness builds walls of protection.

Love never fails. Selfishness gives up and walks away.

One year followed another and as time moved forward, my selfish heart awakened to the idea that love isn’t all about me. And the perception that I, in my own strength and by my human effort, could love as God loves, completely and unconditionally, is now banished. I desperately need His grace and help here. I am a work in progress. Always.

Forty two years ago, two imperfect people merged to begin a journey of growth and improvement. Iron is sharpening iron and two are still becoming one, as we continue to practice what love should be. I have deep gratitude for my husband who steadfastly forgives and doesn’t give up on me, though my love has often failed.

At this point, I think we understand a bit better, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I pray a year from today, I’ll fail less at this love thing as our Love Never Fails learning continues.


From~1 Corinthians 13:4-8 & 13

 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.” Mark 10:7-8

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

2 AM, Jon and Jesus

When I’m out with Jon until 2AM (or whatever time he decides to party ’til), I see a lot of IMG_0326humanity. It’s true, the dark of night often brings out what is most broken in people.

Last night I stood in line behind a man who’d obviously had too much to drink. He was loud and flirting with all the girls behind the counter. He seemed to be a ‘happy drunk’ at least. He turned around and started spilling words on me. I stood quietly looking at him; silently praying for him.

Then a conversation started that went like this:

Him: “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Me: “Because you’re talking to me and I’m listening?”

Him: “Tell you what I’m going to do, I’m going to pay for your order.”

Me: “Thank you. That’s thoughtful, but not necessary.”

Him: “No, I insist. You know why? Cause I’m a kind hearted guy and my mom always told me what goes around comes around.”

Me: “Well, Amen to that. Your mom is right. Mom’s usually are (I smiled). But those are actually the words of Jesus. He said, ‘What you sow, you reap.’ Same thing.”

Him: Don’t Amen me now. I ain’t going to church on Sunday.

Me: “You should. It would be a great place for you to be. Sit your butt in church instead of on a bar stool.” (I smiled again. So did he.)

Him: “OK, so order. I’m paying.” (He let me move ahead of him in line)

Me: Alright then, I’ll let you. The money you spend on me will be one less beer you buy and you’ll be blessed besides.”

I ordered. He paid. I thanked him. He stayed a few more minutes talking to everyone who came in and waved to me when he left. As I ate my sandwich wrap and drank my tea, I prayed He would be overwhelmed by the love of Father God and his life changed forever.

Jesus told us to go into all the world and spread the Good News and the good news is, we don’t need a platform, audience or microphone to do it. We just need to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit as we encounter people out in our world, the places we move through as we do life. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

So what is truth?

One man, Pontus Pilot, asked Jesus this question. The answer was standing right in front of him and like most of us, he didn’t ‘get it.’

Jesus said to him, “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

And what is love? “God is love” 1 John 4:8.

He doesn’t just give love, His entire being, nature and character consists of love. Love is who and what He IS.

Share The Truth and The Love with someone today? And ask the Spirit to help you do it, not with an attitude or an ‘I-know-better-than-you’ self righteousness, but in the truth and love of Jesus Christ. It’s fun! And you never know what a planted seed might later produce in someone’s life.

Thanks For Loving Me

Jon was in his room, Mike had gone to bed and the house was quiet. I was in the family room reading a book when my phone’s text notification sounded.

I finished the paragraph I was reading, swiped the lock screen off and hit the message icon.

This text popped up:

??????????

I read it, re-read it. And read it again.

I don’t know what prompted my son to send this or what he was doing when he wrote it.  He’s a new father who is discovering how much a parent loves a child and what that entails.

I also don’t remember reading anything that touches my heart the way this simple, random text does.

The years of pouring into, providing for, caring, loving, hugging, teaching, disciplining, laughing with, crying over, worrying about, not giving in or up; all those hours invested in David, summed up in one eight word sentence.

There are no words to describe the fulfillment and joy it brings.

Those raised in dysfunction, abuse, conflict, abandonment, addiction, fear, neglect, anger or the myriad of other human frailties that cause physical and emotional scars, can change the trajectory for your children.

As imperfect parents we can still decide That stops here, whatever the That is, we can choose to not pass it on to another generation. By God’s power and strength we can be the parent our child needs us to be.

We can change. Be different. Make a difference. Forge a new family legacy constructed of grace, mercy, endurance, and forgiveness.

God set the example. He too says, “Thank you for loving Me like I love my Son.” He passed His love on by sending Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for us, and now “We love Him because He first loved us” (John 4:19).

dave asaDavid, now you understand how much you are loved by us and as a father, I hope you have a greater awareness of how much you are unconditionally loved by your Heavenly Dad. It’s your turn to pay that love forward. All the accolades, money and material goods in the world will never take the place of a love heritage passed to a new generation.

I pray, some quiet evening, years from now, when your season of parenting is over and your children are grown and gone, you receive a text like this one.

This one line text message is what parenting is all about.

This is a no regrets moment.

“Thanks for loving me so I can love!” This is the ultimate reward.

Psalm 127:3-5. “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.”

Isaiah 54:13 “All your children will be taught by the Lord and great will be the peace of your children.”

Proverbs 17:6 “Grandchildren are the crown of grandparents and parents are the glory of their children.”

That Extra Chromosome. A Letter to Jon

Do you know, Jon, the majority of humans have forty six chromosomes in each cell of their body, a combination of twenty three from both their mother and father?

This mix of DNA creates a brand new and unique person. Also adding to the individuality of a new life, are the blended chromosomal characteristics of many previous generations.

Chromosomes are us! It’s miraculous when you think about it.

Then..Surprise! Once in a while, someone wins the extra chromosome lottery, for a grand total of forty seven.

Someone like you.chromosomes

There are some theories about where that extra chromosome comes from, but no one really knows. According to experts, it didn’t come from me or your father, because we each only have forty six. The greatest scientific minds have yet to figure out this random occurrence. They can’t explain it.

I’m certainly not scientific. I barely passed the brain twisting subjects of biology and chemistry in high school, so if the smart people don’t know, then there’s little hope of accurate theorizing from me. But I’ve wondered about that extra chromosome at times.

Did it fall, like a shooting star, from the sky and right into you? Was it something I ate? Did God put it there? Were you specifically chosen for the purpose of carrying that extra copy of chromosome number twenty one or was it just…umm…a glitch? How does a person end up with an add-on?

It’s rather mystifying, so I don’t think about it too much, because doing so ties my brain in knots. But occasionally I find myself wondering who, what, you would be without it.

You probably wouldn’t be living at home with us and by now would have a wife, kids, two cars, a mortgage and a dog. Believe me when I tell you, you’re not missing much not having bills to pay.

I think you’d still love music and movies, and be funny and sometimes grumpy. Maybe you’d still like quiet surrounding you, be a night owl, enjoy long evenings out and slow eating, savoring each bite of your food.

I bet you’d still be messy, a bit obsessive, and would write notes to the people you care about. You would still believe, “Everyone deserves a second chance.” And your smile would light up your eyes, a room, and this mother’s heart, just like it does now.

We have traveled a long way together, haven’t we? You, me and that extra. What a difference it’s made! It’s been a life changer, a guide and a teacher and we are not the same as we would have been without it.

I don’t pretend to understand that chromosome or how or why it chose you. Maybe it’s divine or just ‘fate’. I can’t say.

But it doesn’t matter, Jon, because you with your added chromosome are gloriously loved. And when it comes to love, chromosomes don’t count. We’re all on a level playing field.

“For God SO loved the world…that whosever..” (John 3:16)

The brightest mind on earth cannot begin to comprehend the how and why of this kind of love.

If every single chromosome, in every single cell, in every single ‘Whosever’ in the world, is SO incredibly, fantastically, marvelously loved by the Creator of it all, maybe the playing field isn’t as level as I think.

You must be extra loved.

At least that’s how I see it.

Lucky you!

Ornery Love -The Secret to a Long Marriage

“Can you believe it’s been forty years?” I asked Mike.us web

“Yes and no.” He answered. “It seems like yesterday and like a long time ago all at the same time.”

“When you’ve been married this long, people wonder what the secret is. People ask me that now? So what do you think it is – the secret to making it?”

My husband said exactly what I’ve been thinking lately, “There’s no big secret. It’s hard work and a lot of showing up and not giving up”

Our son, David, recently wrote a great song to his wife, Clara, for their fourth wedding anniversary titled, “Ornery Love”. You can listen to it here.

The word ornery doesn’t typically have a positive connotation but one definition is, stubborn. I like the idea of using it to describe a long lasting marriage because an obstinate commitment to each other is what it takes to keep a marriage alive and growing in a culture that does everything possible to slaughter it.

I’m thrilled our son and his wife are discovering this early on and hope both sets of parents, his and hers, have modeled ornery love well enough to be certain our kids will take the marriage journey from four anniversaries to forty and beyond, as we are doing now.

We’ve done an incredible amount of ornery loving through our years of togetherness and by a miracle of God’s grace we’ve never quit.

August 23, 1975 – 2015! Happy, Ornery #40 to us.

1 Corinthians 13:7 “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Unconditional Love – My Special Education, Lesson #8

Unconditional-loveJon was wandering around the kitchen before I left for Sunday morning service, taking stock of the plate I had prepared him and gathering more food from the pantry and fridge.

When I came home, he was standing next to the dinette table just off the kitchen, and had methodically arranged all his food, dishes, silverware and some treasures from his room on and around a place mat.

He’d barely eaten anything while I was gone which is typical for him. He has to have things arranged a certain way before he feels settled and his obsession will often stretch the process out for hours.

The caregiver left and I started on lunch for Mike and I, warming up leftovers, putting a meal together in about fifteen minutes and setting our places on each side of Jon’s. Our son rarely wants to sit and eat with us but it looked like he was about to settle down and I was hoping the three of us would have lunch together this day.

The unspoken Jon rule is this: he can invade your space at any time, day or night but you take a risk invading his. Sometimes you are received, many times not (read more about that here).

It’s somewhat like the kings in the Old Testament who raised a scepter to show their approval if you entered their presence without being beckoned. If approval was not granted you could quickly be missing your head (see Esther 4:11-16).

As Mike and I took our seats, blessed the food and began eating, the expression on Jon’s face tuned into a scowl. We had invaded his space and he wasn’t happy about it.

“Come on Jon,” I said, “sit down and eat with us. You did a great job setting your place here so let’s have lunch together today.”

It wasn’t happening. He began snatching his things off the table and moving them to the dining room, stomping back and forth from one table to the other until everything was moved. No amount of encouragement or pleading convinced him to stay.

It’s always his choice, never ours.

I’ve learned so much about the father heart of God from Jon through the years. I know what it’s like to feel rejected by your child and I also have a greater understanding of unconditional love.

Jon has days when he barely acknowledges my presence. But regardless of how that makes me feel, I’m aware of his social limitations and I still love him. I will always be here for him, reaching, waiting; doing everything I can to give him the best possible life.

There are many ways I want to show Jon how much I love him that he often doesn’t want or accept, so I have to meet him where he is and on his terms.

As I read the Bible, I see so many illustrations of God’s love for His people. His children.

He longs to be with them. He wants to bless them, rescue them, and shower them with love and mercy. He comes into their situations over and over, making Himself available in their darkest hour; if they would only acknowledge Him and respond to His love.

But they don’t. They turn away and break His heart.

Again. And again. And again.

So God waits.

And He’s still waiting.

Waiting for me and you to acknowledge Him.

Waiting for us to respond to His love.

Waiting for His kids to understand the Cross was the very best He could offer to exchange our wayward and distant heart for His limitless love.

He longs to be with us and waits to be invited.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”  (Revelation 3:20)

God will not force Himself into this relationship. It’s on my terms, not His. It’s all about my willingness to open the door, set a place at the table, pull out a chair and invite Him to sit with me.

And it makes His heart very happy when I do. Just like it makes me happy when Jon decides he wants to be with me.

Unconditional love hopes.

“Maybe today will be the day.”

Unconditional love never gives up.

“Not today? OK, then maybe tomorrow?”

Unconditional love reaches.

“Whether you want me or not, I’ll always love you.”

Unconditional love waits.

“I’ll still be here when you return.”

 

Isaiah 49:15 -16 ““Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Jeremiah 3:14 “ You are unfaithful children, but you belong to me. Come home!”

Luke 3:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Luke 15:20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”

Still Doing The “I Do”

We were just a couple of crazy kids when we said “I Do”. We thought we knew the meaning but we didn’t have a clue.Us Aug 23, 19750002And here we are, thirty nine years later, still figuring out what all those promises mean.

There’s been plenty of star spangled love and plenty of days when we don’t do the first-Corinthians-chapter-thirteen thing quite so well. But we never quit and are learning the art of forgiving, letting go and how love isn’t always a feeling but a choice.

Showing honor and respect is about putting aside our own selfish desires, shutting our mouth when we want to speak, speaking when we’d rather shut it and allowing for our differences. It’s been tough sometimes, but we’re getting better at it everyday.

Not had much of the richer, at least in great wealth, but precious unseen riches we’ve held; wonderful sons, a roof over head, food in our bellies, so many people in our lives to bless us and to bless. Some things can’t be measured in dollars.

Poorer, yes, we’ve gone without many times through the years. Cut coupons, shopped sales, bought used instead of new (still do:), shared a hot chocolate and a bag of McD’s fries for date night and learned to live on what we have and watch our faithful God provide everything we need.

In sickness, it seems there’s been way more than our fair share, dealing so long with chronic illness and a child with disabilities. But hard times are a teacher and forge us into something better than before. In the midst of all the things we don’t understand we trust in God, our strength.

We’ve seen health in many other ways, in laughter and in joy and how God heals the broken hearted and helps us endure. Patience and compassion, contentment and peace have been our reward.

God has been faithful to us even when we are not. He’s been our anchor in every celebration, joy, failure and heartache, the North Star to which we always turn when we loose our way.

So, Michael Connis, on this thirty ninth anniversary of our happy wedding day, I want to say, if given the choice, I’d do the “I DO” all over again. Thanks for hanging in there on this great adventure of ours.

It isn’t over yet. We’ve come far but there’s still more to see, do and conquer and we’re just getting started!

I did, I Do, and I will…for always.

 

 

 

 

The End Is Just The Beginning…again.

It’s been so since the beginning – God – just wanting to be with us. return

 God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

He created us for relationship, friendship, love. He wanted to hang out with us, come down from the Heavens in the cool of the day and walk and talk with us in the beauty of His earth creation.

 Then one poor choice ruined everything.

The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?Genesis 3:8-9

Throughout history God continued to call mankind back. He came and spoke in many ways: through clouds, pillars of fire, a burning bush, and a golden box filled with Himself, signs, wonders, miracles, prophets, judges, priests, kings.

Until Jesus arrived – ‘Emmanuel, God with Us’ – proving His desperate longing for me and you and providing us rescue from all our poor choices.

The end will culminate with God returning to His original plan. John saw it in a Heavenly vision and was told to write it down so we would know…God still wants us.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Revelation 21:1-3

In the beginning, God created out of desire, longing and love for us. And that is exactly how it will begin again in the end; a new creation, a new earth where He can finally physically dwell among us.

All He has ever wanted is you and me. No other god or human ever has or ever will go to such depths to demonstrate love.

How is it that we go to such depths to refuse Him?

When it comes time for the creation reset button to be pushed, I don’t want God calling for me, “Where are you?”

I’ll be right here. Still waiting and reaching in desperate gratitude for the One who loves me like no other; for the One who’s greatest yearning is to be with me.

Forever.

1 Corinthians 3:16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”

My Favorite Love Story

I heard an interesting statistic this week.

Less than 2% who claim to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, spend any time reading the Bible.

Reasons are:_Love_Story

Don’t have time

Don’t understand

Can’t relate

It’s outdated, irrelevant

I used to be one of those and have recently been thinking about why and how that changed.

For many years the Bible was just another rule book to me, a list of things I should and shouldn’t do.  It seemed dry and irrelevant to my daily concerns; a Girl Scout manual of hoops I needed to jump through to gain the next God-Is-Happy-With-Me–Again, badge.

Honestly, I was more worried about keeping the people around me happy, than a God I believed in but couldn’t see.

I memorized my Sunday School verses, learned the Bible stories, listened to countless sermons and did my duty devotional reading somewhat daily, but none of this was life giving. It was no different than brushing my teeth or making my bed every day; just something I did because I was supposed to.

I’d sat in church since toddler-hood but God was little more than the Big Meany in the sky.

I could see Him in my overactive imagination, a gigantic, glowing, being sitting on a golden throne with angels on both sides, a pen and a scroll in their hands.

God’s narrow, piercing eyes, always watching and searching for wrong doers, would zero in on me.

 Suddenly God would exclaim, “There, see her?!  That Diane girl?  Look at what she’s doing now!”

He would look away from my activities here on earth to the angel on His right; the one who records sins for names starting with A through M.

Both angels, stretching their necks to look around the big fluffy cloud in their way, would follow the pointing finger of God; trying to see what I’m up to this time.

“ She’s doing that thing again!” God would purse his lips in disgust and shake His giant head.

“Write it down! Now!”

The angel, who was still trying to find me in a sea of humanity would snap to attention and start recording the date, time and my newest offense. He didn’t have to ask God my name. He’d written it so many times he always remembers.

In my mind, God was the giant Santa in the sky, making a list, checking it twice, finding out who’s naughty or nice.

And you better be ready when He comes to town ‘cause you’re in for it! No blessing for you only guilt, shame and punishment.

Since I was a small child, I’d heard and read that God loved me even sent His Son to die for me, but I couldn’t justify the God of the Old Testament with the Jesus of the New Testament.

God seemed psychotic, wiping whole people groups off the planet one minute and dying on a cross for me the next.

I didn’t get it.

Through a series of life circumstances that aligned like the planets, I came to a place where all the Christian cliches and doctrines I had memorized didn’t give me the answers I was looking for anymore.

I wanted more, needed more than my shallow beliefs. I knew about God but I was miserable. What I desperately wanted was for Him to be my soul mate. I had to know if He really loved ME and I could love Him back.

If He was the God of love that Jesus portrayed, why did I feel so unworthy? Why did I feel like God didn’t like me?

We each have filters that are the sum total of our experiences, thought process, values and beliefs which influence the way we view God. All my life, I had believed only what I’d been told, but hadn’t diligently searched it out for myself.

I came to the realization that my concept of God might be faulty and I didn’t know Him at all. So I began to ask Him to show Himself to me, if He truly was my Heavenly Father, to reveal the greatness of His love.

When I opened the Bible, I prayed that I would not read anything into or pull anything out of it that wasn’t truly there. I asked God to let me see exactly what He wanted me to see in its pages.

The transformation was slow but amazing, and gradually I fell in love with the God who loves me, the God in my Bible.

He began to strip away all the things I thought I knew and replace them with a simple trust in who He is.

My filters and assessment of God never changed who He truly is; they only distorted the way I had perceived Him. I began to see everything differently.

Religion told me I had to do more, be more, be better. God just tells me He loves me and calls me into His love.

God’s Word is no longer a rule book but a love letter and God isn’t a mean, score keeping, dictator but my friend and merciful, caring Father. Now, I want nothing more than to make Him happy, not out of fear or obligation but because of love.

From beginning to end, the Bible is God’s love story for humanity. It explains how He created us for friendship but also created us with choice. While I am busy choosing everything else, God mercifully and constantly calls me back to his heart, because with Him is where I belong.

 My Bible is that special letter God wrote to me; like one a lover would send and I keep in a treasured place, unfolding gently so as not to tear the worn, yellowed creases.

I read it again and again and am filled with joy in discovering He loves me and thinks I’m beautiful. I am adored, and cherished by the God of the Universe and His heart breaks whenever my own wanders far and He can’t be near me.

What girl doesn’t love a good love story?

And how amazing to be the main character in the best one of all.

I think I’ll stop writing now. I need to read my love letter again, today.

He’s Everything to Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ywzlq2AiAuM