Did I Smile?

“Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.“ 1 Corinthians 13:13

An afternoon out of state, alone, with no agenda. What? When does that ever happen? What to do? That’s easy: Heavenly Dad/daughter date! Computer-check. Phone-check. Tablet and pen-check. Earphones-check. Thermal mug-check. Snacks-check, check.

Rrrrrrrrrrr, rrrrrrrrrrrr, the sound of chairs being pushed or pulled echo across the coffee shop. The smell of a fresh brew wafts as I scan for electrical outlets, but come up empty. How can that be? I order my coffee then make a lap. One outlet for 24+ tables! HOW does that work? The tables on either side of the precious outlet were occupied but only one plug was in use. My heart raced as I finagled a plan to snag the last treasured source of available power.

Sweet! The table directly across the isle way was available. What to do, what to do?!? I plug in and place a chair over the tripping hazard. Instead of the expected reprimand, a smile and a “good idea” are dispatched by the possible outlet occupants. Whew!

By the time I transferred my steaming deliciousness to my thermal mug and unpacked my gear, one of the tables became available. “YES!” The other occupant smiled as I made the tedious transfer, for the sake of safety .

Chris Tomlin serenades as I open my Bible app. Suddenly, I realize I’m missing the moment. There will never be a moment in time where the exact line of anticipating customers will be shared. I look at the young couple, his over-sized baseball shirt and she with the uncombed bleached then dyed neon red hair cascading down to the middle of her back. They stand next to the forty something couple. She’s scratching an inch through the precision cut snag in her jeans as her salt and pepper hubby, with the casual stone washed jeans, leans in to hear her low tone. Behind is a stroller and dad with two teenage daughters, both on their cell phones. I glance back at my apparatus. The line continues to fluctuate. A three-some of ladies, a single gentleman, a mom with a preschooler, one elementary and a middle schooler chatter with the grand and great-grandmother.

Next the tall teen with the double french braids, plaid shirt and her younger sis, in the fall rain jacket, speak without making eye contact. Behind, the chic twenty something in her leggings, ankle boots and large plaid print mid-thigh winter coat and sunglasses atop her heard speaks up to her other half. He is sporting a ball cap, fitted fitness jacket, jeans and brown leather loafers.

The Harley dad with the ponytail and 4 year old walk up to the counter with the group of three, one gentleman and two ladies. They ditch him quickly to order so they can munch on their snacks, already in hand. I smile wondering what their conversations consist of. The restaurant fills up, then empties out. People are coming and going. They are looking but not seeing each other. Time to write.

I prepare my heart. Chris Tomlin’s Sovereign, LIVE from Red Rock is typed into my search and the tears well with,”We lift the cross. That’s the whole reason we are hear tonight. We all come with different stories. Some come on the best of days, some of us come in on the hardest of days…” The disappearing crowd resonates in my mind.

This could have been one of the hardest of days for one or more of the crowd. Was it someone with whom I made eye contact? Did I give them a smile? My mind processes the gift of this afternoon.

Many times I was the one in the line on “hardest of days,” the coffee to take my mind off the loosing battle of tears from grief. It was a smile from a stranger that challenged me to dig and find a smile to return the favor. It was a precious gift that cost nothing. Tears well, as they often do, when Heavenly Dad graciously reminds me of our journey.

“Dad?”

I Corinthians 13:8 ” Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” Peel away all of the layers of what the world, scholars, even what some Biblical scholars say that have head knowledge but lack heart knowledge and the only “thing” left is…love: the smile, touch on the hand or shoulder, generous but secret gift, the call, email, or letter, the time given… . That’s all that’s left. That’s enough. We all have it to give and Heavenly Dad replenishes our reservoir moment by moment, if we ask and allow. What I receive I am challenged to give.

My 6 hours alone with Heavenly Dad went by so fast and not a moment was wasted. He reminded me of what was, what is and what could be.

Until next time dearest of friends: Blessings!

“…is Love.” But…

“Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.“ 1 Corinthians 13:13

Forever is a long, long time.

Last week was Valentine’s Day with me taking out the scales for love:me verses 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. Let’s just say my side of the scale was more than a little light comparing my effort to the reality of love God’s way. I got as far as five versus and then had to stop. I needed to bone up a bit on what I had.

One week later, I have my wooden spoon to bite on, and I am ready to face the scale again. Taking a deep breath, I mentally say,” Bring it on!”

Verse 6: “it(love) does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices when ever the truth wins out.” I think this one has to do, for me, with individuals who have done me wrong. When I see bad things befall them that they didn’t deserve or earn, I have a choice to feel happy because they finally know how I feel, or I can follow the Bible and grieve with those that grieve. I need to stop focusing on myself and focus on what that individual needs, through God’s eyes.

Injustices are never right, even if they happen to people that have wronged others. These are not a matter for me to judge. God will set their scales in balance for their sins, just like He will for mine. My job is to love in spite of who they are and what they have done—easier said than done.

Verse 7: “ Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always helpful, and endures through every circumstance.“ I could totally take the easy way out of the first part, “love never gives up,“ as that is the definition of a parent with a child. It does not matter what my child does, I will always love her.

I’ve never understood how that could be but it doesn’t translate into marriage… . I am the kid of a divorce, so I’ve lived in it. Marriage is hard, sometimes ugly. Words in marriage are not always sweet, hopeful, or even close to encouraging, putting it mildly. I just don’t understand how we can choose to love our children over, and over when they know how to push our buttons, break our hearts, use and abuse and there is no question that our love is forever.

Why doesn’t that kind of unconditional love translate into marriage? Shouldn’t Parenting be the extension of the love of the marriage instead of the other way around? Eh, another question for my,”Questions to ask God when I get to heaven,” box—it gets fuller all the time!

I do want to clarify, this thought does not pertain to parents who abuse their children or abuse in marriage. That’s a completely different topic. I wouldn’t give Tylenol to a cancer patient for pain any more than using one verse to stop or justify abuse.

Verse 8:? Wait! I think those last two are enough for a bit. Since we are dealing with “Forever” another week is just a drop in the ocean of time.

My prayers continue! Until we meet again dear friends: Blessings!

“and the Greatest of These…”

“Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.“ 1 Corinthians 13:13

Happy Valentine’s Day to my blog family :-).

I have been talking about Eric and me trying to figure out what true love looks like, to us. I can’t tell you that what we find is going to be right for you or anyone else. We all have different love languages, the way we want/need to be loved and express our love, so there can’t be only one “Look” for love.

I can tell you that Archie and my love looked very different than Eric and mine. I can’t and won’t compare because Archie and Eric are complete opposite’s. It would definitely be like comparing apples to oranges.

I hear a lot of people complaining about ways that they are NOT shown love by the one or ones they need to feel it from the most. I wish I could change that, as I know how that feels. What I can do is share with you some absolutes.

1 Corinthians 13 is my outline and the only list I can honestly compare my efforts of expressing love. Today I decided it’s time. I need to pull it out and see how I’m measuring up.

Verse one, “If I could speak all the tongues of earth and of all angels, but didn’t love, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging symbol.“ I used to travel a lot, and speak to/with a lot of people. Though it would be cool to know other languages, what I am hearing from HD is that I need to be observant. I need to honor those with whom I speak or as Dani Johnson explains it: speak to an emerald as an emerald, a sapphire as a sapphire, a pearl as a pearl, and a ruby as a ruby. Talk and express myself in a way to make others feel comfortable and at ease: My self- check right now,”and of all angels,” is reminding me that the words that come out of my mouth, if not sincere when doing that, mean nothing.

Verse two,” If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possess all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.“ This one, to me, is really focusing on my head knowledge: scriptures I know or have memorized verses the way I love other people. It doesn’t matter what’s in my head, people are not going to see or feel that. They may hear it but if they’re needing bread and I’m quoting scripture, that’s not going to quiet their tummies. They’re not going to hear the words I say because they’re focusing on the growling of their stomach. I need to meet physical needs not just say words. Am I showing or making scripture come to life? Am I being Jesus with skin on?

Verse 3,”If I gave everything I had to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” This one gets a little sticky. This is a reminder that what I do for the Lord needs to be done in secret, meaning He gets the glory and I’m not glorified.

The church of Siloam did a great job with this one. Those individuals showed up at my house time after time, with no parade or “shout outs” for what they had “done for the widow.” One of the guys, Rod, Grace’s husband, was a regular at the cat house. Saying very few words, he would set to work, in the freezing temperatures of February and there was no heat. He never posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or anywhere else for that matter. It was done in secret, giving Heavenly Dad all the glory. They are my measuring stick for that verse.

Verse 4 stops telling me what love IS NOT, but what it actually is. “ Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud.” This is the one I struggle with, to be honest. Patience and kindness sound easy but you can only be patient when you have to wait. You have to be kind even when someone’s mean, not just when there’s a cute kitten or puppy in the room and I have,”awwwwww” feelings.

Expectations was and is one of my biggest battles this year. This may be a life long struggle as I need to recognize this fault in myself as situations arise.

I sometimes feel like people aren’t kind, generous, loving—whatever—ENOUGH and that frustrates me. I’ve had to embrace the fact that it’s my expectations that are in the wrong. People need to love the way God leads them to. If they truly aren’t showing love, then it’s up to God to tell them, not me.

I just listened to an amazing sermon that was posted by my brother-in-law, Nate. From Elevation church, the pastor said I need to tend and grow MY OWN fruit instead of trying to make other people grow theirs. That’s God’s job. I need to focus on where He has planted me and let Him have the freedom to move them to where the sun shines the best for them. This is a hard lesson that I will be chewing on for a while.

Verse 5,”or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wrong.“ That one I feel like an utter failure. I think it’s hilarious that it starts out with “or rude.“ I don’t think I’m a rude person on a regular basis, but when I get my feathers ruffled, I can play the holier than thou or, “I can’t believe you just did that to me” card with the best of them.

The “demand its own way” has been a revelation for me this year. In previous relationships there’s always been expectations across-the-board about what we would DO for each other. This year all of that went out the window. I can’t expect someone to do or be something if that’s not who God created them to be. Sometimes I have to be myself, do for them and plan for me. When they show up, I hand the reins over, they give and are 100% of themselves, and I count my blessings. Some people aren’t givers, and don’t even think about it. It’s not a character flaw, it’s a God design. If I make a plan, we’re all happy with it, and they smile and join in, I’ve learned to love the memories that I make during those events. It was again my demands aka expectations that were the problem.

The last part of that verse I absolutely adore, though it is tougher than tough. When someone does hurt me, and I’ve been cut to the core, I have been commanded to forgive, 70×7 times for each offense. I’m going to be very honest here. I admit that sometimes I say “I forgive you“ but don’t feel like I forgiven them. I have to recognize that feelings come and go and my Heavenly Father commanded…it’s not a choice… me to forgive. I will say the words and trust that the feelings will follow. That also means that I do not have the right to bring it up again. There’s no reliving or rehashing the past offense because it supposed to have been thrown into the sea of forgetfulness. If I am following my Father’s footsteps, the sin or wrong has been removed from them and me as far as the east is from the west. Another measuring stick… .

Ye-ow-zers, that’s a lot to chew on. I’m going to pray and work on these on this Day-of-Valentine, and come back for the rest.

Praying for you! Until next time: blessings!


People or No People? That is the Question

 Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.“

I’m tired! When I saw this verse, if I were a a cat I could safely say my fur stood up on end. Seriously? Aren’t you tired too? I know they say we’re supposed to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep, but how many people really do that? Our average is probably 6 1/2 and that’s if we are lucky. Saturdays lately are either catch up, travel, or normal business as that’s our one day off. Sunday, which is supposed to be our day of rest, ends up to be running to church, to pick up whatever we forgot during the week, and then small groups.

As you can tell, our day of rest has been put on the back burner once again. How did we get here? One “urgent“ matter after another. When we were trying to figure out what to cut out, Sunday night seemed like our only valid opening, but that was small groups. We examined: do we look for another night for small groups? That means we’d have to switch groups and we didn’t want to do that. What do we do?

Let’s hit the pause button: Little things have come up in our lives, or in the lives of our group, challenges or things heavy on their hearts. We have a group text of about 6 to 8 people and when they have concerns they just pop in “Hey, can you pray for me for…“. Everyone rallies around. There’s been some awesome answers to prayer like Eric‘s job. Sometimes there’s just support and someone else to check in so that we feel like we’re not alone. Honestly, though, it’s more than that.

Yesterday I heard about a lady who was desperately looking for a personal relationship. She wanted to be accepted and loved. Someone did show up, but it wasn’t anything close to what she had in mind. In this decision to pursue this relationship she made the choice to turn away from what she believed (spiritually), all of her family, her friends, and everyone associated. My heart hurts for her and everyone that misses her so dearly.

I was comparing her situation to when I was a widow. I felt Very alone. When I would connect individually, often the questions were directed to/at me. One secret of a relationship is if you don’t share some of yourself, the other person feels interrogated. I had a couple of those relationships. I think they were curious about the widow’s life.

Of course, then there’s the miracle in my story, with the church of Siloam and amazing Grace who walked into my life. When I think about this lady’s story in comparison I see how my story could’ve ended much differently-not that it’s over, LOL.

Time to hit the play button: when considering where we cut out time, I look at the people around us. If the people from Siloam and Grace would have focused on how tired they were, they would never have had time for me.

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.“

Those people, especially Grace, encouraged and challenged me. Grace still does when we get together for coffee. If it weren’t for them I truly believe I wouldn’t be on the other side of healing. I would never have felt the joy in my daughter’s wedding. I would be grieving and not be able to fully feel the blessing of my granddaughter yet to be. I was and am capable of loving Eric.

With them as an example, I realize that my time of needing people to fill my cup is over. It’s time to be there to pour into someone else. I can’t do that if I am cutting the “people“ and getting together, out of my life.

Back to the drawing board, but this time with an attitude of gratitude ❤️.

Until next time: Blessings!