Lorri Dudley

Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

Category: Valentine’s Day

child's surprised face

God Never Gasps

Surprised face

While we panic and run out to stock up on toilet paper because we didn’t see this pandemic coming, we can be reassured God did. God is all-knowing. There are no surprises for Him.

 In October of 2001, I remember sitting at my desk and the phones not ringing for months. The world was still in shock after the 9-11 terrorist attack, and commerce had shut down. My husband and I had just purchased our first home, and his business was still in the toddler stages. No phone calls meant no customers, which meant no income to pay the new mortgage or other incoming bills.

To quote Dickenson, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

I say this because it was the 9-11 realization that evil existed in the world and it was trying to kill us that drove my husband and myself to find God. We warily stepped into church seeking answers, hope, and connection, and God met us at the door like an old friend with open arms.

God didn’t create the terrorist attack, nor did he create the coronavirus, but He will use it for His good. As I look back, I can see how his hand has been preparing things within my sphere of influence behind the scenes.

  • Within the last year, my church felt compelled to launch an online campus. With Massachusetts not allowing gatherings over 25 people, we were able to hold church at home.
  • A year ago, I started writing The Merchant’s Yield, which has a main character who struggles to release the fear of sickness and death to God after moving to an island where disease is prevalent. Little did I know how relevant it would be today, and I’m praying it will get into the hands of people who need encouragement and the message that we can’t live in fear.
  • In the past six months, my husband took on the financial costs of hiring a Chaplin service for our employees who needed prayer, and it has been utilized significantly, especially recently.  

Could these be coincidences? Perhaps. But, then I remember how Jesus stood whipped and beaten to the point of death. He’d been nailed to a cross, experiencing a pain I can’t even imagine, but He called out to the disciple John, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26-27). While His lifeblood was being poured out for us, He was arranging for the care of his mother, Mary.

God is working. He knows every detail, every need. He doesn’t drop the ball. Evil may work to create chaos, but God turns all things around for His good (Romans 8:28).

We need to seize the opportunity. Now is the time to text, call, or use social media to reach out to those who are scared. We have a chance to be the hands and feet of Christ. God has prepared us for this moment. Fear may rule them, but we know God is in control. The world craves the peace we have, and God has given us an opening to talk freely about our eternal perspective. Now’s our chance to checkmate evil.

“For we are to God, the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” – 2 Corinthians 2:15

Hands holding earth

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Sihouette of couple

How Deep is your Love?

Silouette of close couple

The L word gets tossed around so easily: I love ice cream, I love summer, I love football. I’m at fault for using it flippantly, unfortunately doing so devalues its meaning. As a romance writer, I get to ponder about love daily, but even more so, with Valentine’s day right around the corner. It got me thinking about what the definition of love means to me:

  • Love is a connection, an intimate knowledge of one another, mentally, spiritually, and physically.
  • Love is sacrificing your needs over theirs, and the secure feeling of knowing that if the situation were reversed, they would do the same for you.
  • Love is setting aside pride, grudges, and being right because you value the other person above those things.
  • Love is believing in someone and seeing their potential sometimes, even when they don’t.

The Bible doesn’t leave us in the dark. It tells us specifically in 2 Corinthians 13 what love is and what love isn’t.

Love in scrable letters

Let’s start with what love isn’t.”

  • Love doesn’t envy
  • Love doesn’t boast
  • Love isn’t proud
  • Love doesn’t dishonor others
  • Love isn’t self-seeking
  • Love isn’t easily angered
  • Love keeps no record of wrongs
  • Love doesn’t delight in evil

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs writes in his book Love and Respect about a couple who were given a tour of a brand new home with lots of amenities. The wife without thinking says to her husband in a joking manner, “You need to get a second job.” I can imagine the husband, wife, and homeowners chuckling, but the husband’s smile is a little tight. His wife has no idea she just dishonored and wounded her husband.

In the process of looking for a laugh, we can put our self-seeking desires first and say unkind things that break the trust of our loved ones. In the same way that we flippantly use the term love and devalue its meaning, hurtful words are tossed around that devalue the people we should be protecting.
Now, what love is:

Grandparents holding grandkids
  • Love is patient
  • Love is kind
  • Love rejoices in truth
  • Love always protects
  • Love always trusts
  • Love always hopes
  • Love always preservers
  • Love never fails

Love never fails. I believe the reason the U.S. has a 40% to 50% average divorce rate is that people have forgotten the true definition of love. Read up on what the Bible says about love. Love doesn’t try to catch our spouse, child, or family member doing something wrong. Love tries to catch them doing something right. Love gives the benefit of the doubt. However, it’s more than just a behavior change—it’s a heart condition.

The words always and never aren’t casually added to 2 Corinthians, because our God isn’t haphazard. It means love always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres, and love never fails. You don’t fall in and out of love. It’s more than a whim—even more than a decision. Love is a mandate. God is love, and if we abide in God, then we too should radiate love. We each have an ugly side that rears every now and then, but God has loved us not only despite our ugly sin but also through it. Let that be the example we follow. God pours His unfailing love upon us so that we can do the same.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.             
2 Corinthians 13: 4-8

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Stone art people passing a Valentine

Love Because You Are Loved

Stone art made to look like people passing a Valentine

If you hang up the phone first, then you’re in control of the relationship. I don’t know why I thought this when I first started dating. My husband and I met over summer break during college and continued to date after I went back to school five hours away. Somehow, irrationally, I got it in my head that I could protect my heart from rejection if I could be the first one to say goodnight and get off the phone. The problem was he beat me to it every time. As soon as I’d pause and say “It was good talking—” he’d jump in with, “Yeah, miss you. Talk to you soon,” and then he’d hang up.

I’d stare at the phone gritting my teeth, torn between astonishment and outrage. Anger is often a coverup for a deeper fear—which in my case was rejection. We dated long-distance for two years. In all that time, I never was able to get off the phone before him. But he continued to call and, over time, his love and devotion allayed my fears. Now, I realize just how silly I had been.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18). In my manuscripts, all of my heroines start with a fear:

  • the fear of not being good enough,
  • the fear of not being loved,
  • the fear of rejection,
  • the fear of their past defining their future,
  • the fear of lacking purpose.

We all can relate to these fears in some way because they are real-life struggles. How many of us ever …?

  • Checked our phone wondering if he or she will call you back?
  • Pushed a proposal across the table praying it will be considered?
  • Walked into the class reunion dressed to impress, hoping they won’t remember you as the dorky, shy, or strange kid from third period?

There are a hundred other scenarios. With my stories, somewhere around the midpoint to the last third, the heroine realizes she is loved. It gives her the confidence to drive out fear and leads to the happily-ever-after.

girl dressed as a princess in front of a play castle

Happily-ever-after isn’t just for fairy tales.

My husband says I won’t argue with anyone except for him, and he’s right. I like conflict in my story characters’ lives not in my own. So why would I argue with my husband? Because he loves me. His love has driven out my fear of conflict. I can argue with him knowing he’ll still love me. Most people might not find that romantic, but I do. I love my husband all the more because I have the security to speak my mind.

It is this kind of love that sets us free, not a box of chocolates, nor a bouquet of flowers (even though those are very thoughtful and much appreciated). But love is even bigger than that. We live in freedom without fear because God loves us. His love has removed the sting of death and the guilt of sin. We have confidence in the day of judgment because of Jesus’ sacrifice and his love for us. When we understand the depths of God’s love, fear shrinks back and looses it grip.

His love is so overwhelming, it fills to the brim, overflowing. Not only do we have plenty of love to give away, but we also have the confidence to do so. You’ll see Love Because You Are Loved on my website and in my emails as my tagline. It stems from 1 John 4:18 “Perfect love drives out fear,” and 1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.” Because we know he has our best interest a heart, God’s love helps us relinquish the struggle for control. His love gives us freedom from fear and the courage to love one another.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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So, go ahead and love because you are loved!

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