Lorri Dudley

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

Tag: Love

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!

Parts of a Flintlock pistol

A Flash in the Pan

I’ve been reading up on weapons (don’t panic, it’s for my latest manuscript), specifically, about pistols and duels in the 1800’s. I discovered it’s where the term a Parts of a Flintlock pistolflash in the pan originated. It began with the construction of the flintlock musket. Where a piece of flint strikes a frizzen to create a spark that ignites a small amount of gunpowder resting in the part of the weapon known as the pan. If it fails to ignite the rest of the powder in the barrel of the gun, then it results in a flash of light and a bang, but no discharge of the weapon. Hence, the expression a flash in the pan. (Source: Late Regency Period Technology: Flintlock, Percussion Lock, and Your Plot | Romance University)

Today the term is used to describe someone has a showy beginning but quickly fizzles out. One hit wonders, like Mark Dinning (Teen Angel, 1960), Michael Wilder (Break My Stride, 1983), and Vanilla Ice (Ice Ice Baby, 1990), all had catchy songs that soared to the top of the charts. They rose to fame, but without another accomplishment, their success was a merely a flash in the pan.

MC Hammer in Hammer pantsI asked all five of my husband’s siblings and spouses (for our Dudley family trivia game night) what fashion trend they regretted. The #1 answer was pegged jeans followed closely by the mullet haircut, teased bangs, and MC Hammer pants. While I was in college, one year the fad diet was to eat only carbs. Fat-free labels on foods were plastered across cartons and boxes. I remember this because my roommates and I ate an entire gallon of fat-free mint choc-chip ice cream in one sitting. The following year the Atkins diet became popular. Carbs were quickly cut, and fats were no longer the enemy.

How does a person know what is right? How do we know what is going to stick around?

Well, the Bible has been around for well over 2500 years. According to The Guinness Book of World Records, it’s been the number one best seller selling approximately 5 million copies and translated into 349 different languages. I’d say that moves it out of the trend phase and into the well-established category.

Just like in Hollywood and high school, there are also trends and fads within the religious community. A lot of Pastors have traded in the suit and tie for skinny jeans and horn rimmed glasses. I’d dress in plaids and polka dots if it would bring people to Christ, but it’s easy to get caught up in the trends and methods and lose touch with the intent and true meaning. Some people believe you need to worship a certain way, dress a certain way, or act a certain way. However, we need to remember the message is more important than the methods. Relationship is more essential than religious doctrine.

There are a lot of strong opinions out there, and I don’t have the answers, but I do know Jesus didn’t take on human form to condemn the world. He came to save it. Jesus’ first response was love. He spent a lot more time being an example of how to love than he did on instructing us on how to look or worship. Before he healed the sick, he didn’t stop and ask them their religious affiliation. Before he allowed the lame to walk, he didn’t inquire about their political affiliation. Before he raised the dead, he didn’t question their sexuality.

I’m not saying to compromise on beliefs. The Word is the Word, and the Message is the Message. I’m simply saying to do what Jesus did and to love first. When love takes root in a person’s heart, it opens up doors in which God can move and change a heart.

God’s love is not a flash in the pan. He is the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end. He loved each of us before we were formed in our mother’s womb, and He will love us for all time. All he asks is that we love in return.

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Bridal bouquet pink

Love Beyond the Grave

I know my title sounds like the name for the next Twilight movie, but bear with me. I came across this magazine article clipping on the internet.

The text reads: “My sweet husband, John, and I were married for 46 years. Each Valentine’s Day, he’d send me the most beautiful flowers containing a note with five simple words: ‘My love for you grows.’ Four children, 46 bouquets and a lifetime of love were his legacy to me when he passed away two years ago.

“On my first Valentine’s Day alone, 10 months after I lost him, I was shocked to receive a gorgeous bouquet addressed to me… from John. Angry and heartbroken, I called the florist to say there had been a mistake. The florist replied, ‘No, ma’am, it’s not a mistake. Before he passed away, your husband prepaid for many years and asked us to guarantee that you’d continue getting bouquets every Valentine’s day.’ With my heart in my throat, I hung up the phone and read the attached card. It said, ‘My love for you is eternal.’”  – Sue Johnston, 68, Houston, TX

Even as I retype this, tears well up in my eyes.

Yet, there is an even greater love story than that of Sue and her husband, John. Let me tell you the story:

Once upon a time, there was a Prince who fell in love with an indentured servant. She resided just outside the castle gates and toiled for her master. The Prince loved her instantly. Despite the squalor in which she lived and the hard callouses on her hands, he saw her inner royalty, so he donned peasant clothing and left the King’s castle to spend time with her.

He offered her his name and protection, but to the servant woman, the Prince’s offer seemed too unbelievable to be true. She feared her master would laugh at the very idea or become enraged. In fact, when her master saw the Prince paying attention to his servant, the master grew angry for he feared the Prince would take his servant from him. To disillusion the woman, master offered her rich food scraps and wine from his table. He misled her with lies that she was too poor, too weak, and too ugly, to ever leave his home. He lured her into his bed, and when he grew tired of her, he cut her hair and sold it to a wig maker. Her appearance now disgusted him, so he sold her to another master to fill his coiffures.

This master was even harsher than the last. However, the Prince’s love for her never diminished. He pursued her to the lowest valley of the region. He asked her to come to his kingdom, become his bride—his princess, but she couldn’t meet his gaze. She stared at her dirty bare feet and the rags draping over her abused frame. Shame rooted her to the spot.

The Prince wasn’t deterred and asked her master the price of her freedom. The evil master saw his opportunity to thwart the king. He told the Prince the only way for her to gain her liberty was for the Prince to take her place. The Prince immediately removed his signet ring and slid it onto her finger. He covered her rags with his royal robe. The evil master had his men seize the Prince and beat him until he was bloodied, raw, and barely recognizable. They strung him up in the main road for passersby to witness and scoff at his humiliation.

Word reached the King who arrived with a vast army. He lowered his son to the ground and clasped his son’s battered body in his arms. The Prince’s eyes remained steadfast on his beloved. With the last of his ebbing strength, he stretched out his hand in her direction as his hoarse voice scratched out his final words, “Father, I have paid for her with my life. She is now your daughter. Love her as you would love me.” 

This is our love story. We are the servant woman, and Jesus is our Prince. His unfathomable love has no end. Because of his infinite love, He endured a humiliating torturous death, to pay our debt, to set us free, so that we can be welcomed into His family. One day He is going to once again ride out of heaven this time on a white horse. He’s coming to collect His bride—His eternal love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Bridal bouquet pink

Downtown Boston

Living Christmas with Purpose – Seeing People as Individuals Not Objects

Turns out I’m not a city girl. I lived in Boston for a year while in college. Although Downtown Bostoncity-life was fun and exciting, I drove white-knuckled, swerving around double-parked cars, oncoming trains, and jaywalking pedestrians. I lugged grocery bags six blocks because it was easier to do that than to find a parking space. I packed into a tight commuter-rail car amid a plethora of unpleasant smells. I’m ashamed to say it, but, I knew it was time to move back to the burbs when I began to see people as objects in my way instead of as individuals.

Animal Behaviorist, John B Calhoun, created a utopian society for rats.  Within his barn in Maryland, he constructed the ideal environment for rats to live. No disease, no natural predators. He provided them with food and even kept their pen at a balmy climate. At first, the rats thrived. They congregated together at food distribution and bred rapidly, but then overcrowding began. In the stress of limited space, it didn’t take long before the rats became aggressive and even ate each other.

Now, we are not rats. I’m not worried about cannibalism becoming a problem in cities, but I’ll never forget the horror of people being trampled for a black Friday deal. As Christmas approaches and the stress of buying presents, mailing out cards, and making a dish to pass for the next party overwhelms us, we can become too frazzled. We can lose the purpose of this wonderful season, and begin to see people as a task to check off our list.

John Hambrick, author of Move Toward the Mess, said, “You know you’re too busy when messy people become a problem and not an opportunity.” People are not barriers, they’re not boxes to be checked, or hurdles to be jumped. We (myself Love ornamentincluded) need to take a breath and remember God has placed these people into our lives for a reason. God loves them, and Jesus died for them. So when you’re looking at that Christmas party invite and creatively thinking of an excuse to turn it down, consider if God has a reason for you to attend. As you place stamps on your Christmas cards, take a moment to pray for that family. As you order gifts or bake cookies, ponder who else you might have the ability to unexpectedly bless. You’ll be blessed in return. Don’t just survive Christmas. Live Christmas with purpose.

 And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

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