“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…” Ephesians 3:17-1 9
Since we are in the season of kids going back to school, the word knowledge stuck out to me in this passage. However, knowledge did not hold my attention for long because I quickly was drawn back to the “rooted and grounded in love” part. And it takes faith in the One who is love Himself to even begin to wrap our minds around real love. There is a difference you know, but I will let you and the Lord sort that one out.
What difference does it make in our lives if we are anchored and steadied by love? Have you ever met a well-loved person? They seem to shine a bit brighter don’t they? How do you think they got this way? I can give you a hint and it is one that I think I have said over and over. Here it is, “We love Him because He loved us first.” (1 John 4:19).
So I ask you the same question I ask myself, are you living loved? If the answer is no, we need to check our root system. For if we are rooted in Christ, we are grounded and discerning, even when it does not make sense. Let the political arrows fly, let the Covid fear rage, but we will remain steady and compassionate. Our speech will reveal our roots. And one more thing, be on the lookout for those who need a reminder of love because sometimes we all forget.
*This picture is of the bracelet we each wear in our family that reminds us He Would Love First (H.W.L.F.).
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship of breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42
Maybe because we are not gathering often, I appreciate when we do more than I use to. The groups have been small and the fellowship has been sweet. It reminds me of these early days described in Acts. I wonder what they ate besides bread? What were they learning? Wouldn’t you have loved to hear them talking out loud to our Lord? I have many questions.
When you read this verse, does it create a longing in you too? I want more of this. Not necessarily more bread, chips and salsa perhaps, but it is the teaching, fellowship and praying together that pulls on my heart. It brings a sense of belonging and being known. Hearing what others are learning is encouraging too and gives us more to think about.
Community is healthy and we have been isolated for too long. And it might be why people are struggling because we need each other. I think about kids, especially teenagers, hurt for them and wonder what our family can do. The alone feeling can bring one into a dark place and the increase in suicides points to that end. So maybe it is time to open our doors. Say yes to small groups of teenagers that need a place to belong among their peers. Maybe we can make our homes known for something too. I make a pretty good homemade salsa:)
What ideas do you have to live out this practice of the early Christians?
Today I was invited to a birthday celebration that was memorable. What made it so were the people gathered around the table and the words spoken. We were asked to come with a word to describe our friend. Around the table we went, each saying in their own unique way the one word and why that described our mutual friend. It was absolutely beautiful! I couldn’t help but think how encouraging this simple gift had to be for our friend. This should happen more often.
Another aspect of my friend that was taken into consideration is how healthy she eats. The menu was planned and served accordingly. It was fantastic! Even the birthday cake was made with pure ingredients, no artificial stuff and nothing that was not beneficial. This became a picture of my friends heart. She is not one to add unnecessary words to a conversation or life in general. She keeps things simple and pure. She loves God and humbly relies on Him continually. There is a genuineness to her that is rare; she is a friend of great value. When you meet her family, you see the reflection of her work. They are a delight!
I do not know what your circle of friends looks like, but I pray you have a table full of them. Ones that are anything but counterfeit and love God with their whole hearts. Friends that speak truth in love and kindness. Ones that sit beside you in good times and hard ones too. We need each other. May the Lord make us the kind of friends that do likewise all our days.
“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
A few months ago are family got a new dog. He came with a great name but would not respond to it. We tried out a few new names and still nothing. We all agreed on Charlie and began to say it an obnoxious amount of times. We gave treats and encouragement but still no response. We kept at it and I am happy to report he now knows his name.
Another challenge when our dog was new is he likes to run and is incredibly fast. A few times he escaped and was hard to catch. It was all a game to him and he was unaware of the danger outside of our fence. He doesn’t do that anymore.
Do you want to know what I think made all the difference? Charlie knows he belongs to us and is loved. He is taken care of, played with and spoken to with kind words. He is disciplined appropriately and is still learning shoes are not chew toys. He has really taken to one of our girls, who needed him the most. He seems to know these kind of things. I have heard about other dogs with this strong sense of knowing who needs care.
What I have watched in a dog, I have seen in my own life. Knowing to whom I belong, that I am loved beyond measure, known by name and have no reason to fear, has made all the difference. My Heavenly Father is well able to take care of what belongs to Him. I accept His discipline because I know He loves me too much not to. Friend, if you do not know this kind of love, acceptance and belonging, I pray you will not waste another day running. There is nothing like being known by your Redeemer.
This may seem odd, but everyday I receive a short video on a different business topic. While I do not work outside of our home or own any kind of company, I translate what I learn to either parenting or kingdom building. It is actually one in the same. Today’s topic was on changing someone’s mind and it was fascinating. He talked about how we cannot control others, but we can show respect. He talked about standing firm on our beliefs, but affirming the other person; which we can do by calling out what we see good in them. He even gave an incredible political example that I had not heard about.
The reality is we are not going to win anyone over by hate or ridicule are we? We each come to the table with our own opinions, that have been shaped by many different factors. We place so much trust in our need to control, to be right and underlining fears, that we run over hearts in my opinion. Is this what we want to be known for or is there another way?
Friend, if we answer the question “What confidence is this in which you trust?” (Isaiah 36:4), with anything other than God, we are on shaky ground. Our pastor reminded us of this just yesterday. The choice is ours to make each day, each conversation. May the God who gave us minds to think and hearts to feel, remind us of who we are and in whom we trust.
It has been a week full of grace. The kindness that has been shown to our family has been grace on display. Because the truth is change, good, bad or a bit of both, is not easy. Moving a child into college is good, but takes a toll on everyone involved in every way. Nothing is spared. Having children start a very different looking school year, is hard and takes time to navigate. All of this marked our week and so did grace.
And this is what I know going into the coming week, grace is wonderful to give and to receive. Grace is undeserved, but given anyway. It has looked a bit like friends asking questions and listening. It has been sweet texts and prayers daily. It has been coffee with friends and slower walks. It has been phone calls from a lonely dorm room, but many encouraging events of long days.
Grace has also shown up in the classrooms of our other children. It has been hearing teachers talk with kindness during remote learning days. It has been times of one on one with the kids, as we have slowly rolled into this school year. It has been watching one son get up before dawn, drive off on his own to go run effortless miles. It has been walking alongside one child entering high school and another middle school; major change for them too. Grace to not make their transitions any less important.
It has been a week of taking more than giving, but there is grace for that too. I would probably get uncomfortable to stay in the place of always receiving, so this coming week will be different. For I know that He will supply the grace I need to give away; it is His anyways. “My grace is sufficient for you…” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
*Our middle school girl took this the other day:)
“No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
Do you like to know what is expected right from the start? Similar to when our kids go back to school and the teacher gives them a syllabus for the year, we have been given one for life in this verse. We may fail, act in a way we should not, say things that are hurtful or turn our backs on love itself, but there is forgiveness for each one. There will probably be consequences, but there is grace in the midst.
As the new school year begins, maybe we should go back to class ourselves. If there are some subjects we are rusty in, like mercy and humility, I know a great place to learn. Open the scriptures and hear the Lord speak to you. Pray and ask for His help. He knows what is good and the best way for us to live. Who knows, He may even put us to work this year as the teachers aid, showing others love. Serving is a great place to start.
*Picture is from our oldest daughters Bible study group. The ones leaving for college, wash the feet of those still in school. Beautiful example!
“And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name.” Acts 22:16
I read this verse in a devotional book recently and appreciated the simple, get to the heart words spoken. Maybe you are a bit like me and have spent too much time waiting around instead of diving in. Our reasons might be different, but we wait nonetheless. Sometimes the Lord has us to wait, but there is usually something while we wait. Have you asked Him what that might be?
Perhaps you are waiting to be invited in and stand on the sidelines watching. Have you turned to those beside you and spoken a kind word of encouragement? Helps get your eyes off of yourself and onto those right in front of you. Trust me, I stayed self absorbed way too long. Do those beside you have a need you could meet? Get creative and help meet that need, let them know you see them. Just whatever you do, please do not be critical. You never know if those fellow side liners are just resting a minute, worn out from battles you have no idea about.
There is another idea to consider. What if you are waiting because of past sin that you think disqualified you? Have you confessed your sin to the Lord? Have you repented and turned? Do you need to ask another to forgive you? Have you done that yet? What are you waiting for? We are not always right. Imagine the weight that would lift from your shoulders if you confessed. Then maybe you would be able to get up, washed, free and truly able to love. And this I can say for certain, “her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” (Luke 7:47). If you need help, look for those who love well.
“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.” Luke 8:16
The day is fast approaching where we will take our oldest “light” and place her in a tiny college dorm. While I would love to keep her at home, it would be like trying to hide her away. Much has been placed inside of her and it is time. A prayer for her is that everyone she comes in contact with see and feel, the light of Christ inside of her. Her smile may be masked, but her eyes sparkle with love. May she continue to love out of the overflow of her Savior. May she give grace in abundance, because she remembers the grace she has been shown. For those who do not yet know the Lord, I pray that her light makes them curious enough to find out why. And may the Lord bless her in abundance with friends that shine with the same light. It is not easy, but I am going to let you shine and keep fanning into flame that which the Lord ignited long ago.
*Picture by Corrimages
I find it quite amazing how one person can share a few words that change the narrative completely. We were talking about moving and she shared some advice she had been given. It went something like this, “Do not waste time adjusting. Go ahead and jump in where God has you.” Unbelievable right?
All of us are in the ever changing pandemic days. Some of us are moving or have moved into new chapters of our story. Are we going to jump in, keep looking back or dreading what is right around the corner? Honestly, I have been in a pit of grief looking ahead. My friend unknowingly tossed down a rope into my pit with her words and I chose to climb out. It shifted something in my mind and then heart. It feels like I can breath again!
Hope this helped you as much as it did me:)