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

Tag: Love

Miss Dodd Meme from The Captain's Quest

Shocking the System

The Captain's Quest, Miss Dodd Meme "If you ever consider drugging me, it better be with poison."

All authors today, whether traditionally or independently published, are expected to do some of their own marketing. The creativity it takes to capture readers’ attention spills over somewhat into the marketing realm, but we only get one or two lines to grab the reader. I used the above quote, “If you’re going to drug me, make sure it’s with poison,” from Miss Dodd’s character in my recent release, The Captain’s Quest.  As part of my marketing strategy, I created it into a meme to shock the reticular activating system of people’s brains in an attempt to gain their attention.

The brain’s reticular activating system is a bundle of neurons only about two inches long at the base of the brain that acts like a nightclub bouncer or gatekeeper for the brain deciding what stimuli pass through into our conscious. For example, as I’m sitting in my quiet office, I can hear the muffled song of my son’s video game, the shower running, a tiny house wren chirping outside the window, the cars passing by my street, and the clacking of the keys as I type out this sentence. In order to concentrate on what I’m writing, my reticular activating system will filter out most of these sounds, keeping them corralled in my subconscious. However, if my son turns off the shower and the sound of water dripping continues. My reticular activating system will release that stimulus into my conscious, alerting me that a pipe is leaking.

 It’s also why in restaurants, we can drown out the other conversations going on around us until someone’s conversation gets heated or the waiter says our name. Suddenly our attention locks on those things and starts to block the person to whom we had been speaking. The same goes visually for what is out of place. We can see rows of pink bunnies, but our eyes will be drawn to the purple one. Or, with a row of pencils, our eyes will hone in on the one that is out of alignment.

God made our brains amazing in this aspect. Think of the onslaught of stimuli that we feel, taste, touch, hear, and see within even a few minutes. Despite the bombardment, we can focus on attention or be alerted to danger. As God’s children, we are called to be salt and light. We are challenged to stand out and live differently to be a beacon for the rest of the world.

shocked man

Today society has made it easier than ever to shock people’s reticular activating system. One of the ways my husband does it in his industry is by not swearing. In construction, it’s so rare for a company not to use foul language that his business stands out by comparison. He doesn’t have a formal rule about not swearing. He merely leads by example, and others follow suit. For the past three years, his company has won Best Places to Work in the Boston area.

It’s sad to say but speaking the truth stands out nowadays enough to shock someone’s system. This might not have been the same in years past, but now telling the truth and showing love instead of hate are reticular activating catchers. An act of love, especially when it isn’t deserved or anticipated, not only makes us stand out, it makes others take notice. People will see the light of Jesus in you. Love can stir dead hearts back to life. Speaking truth creates a craving, awaking a hunger for more.

People not only desire salt and light, but they also need it. So go ahead and show them some love–shock their system.

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Proposal picture

Mission Critical

Don’t abort the mission. You may have to re-strategize, change tactics, or reprioritize, but keep your eye on the goal. I left this message for a friend before he proposed to another friend of mine over the weekend. He’d elaborately worked out a scheme to ask her to marry him at the top of a mountain where the view is spectacular, but the climb isn’t for the faint of heart. Wielding cameras, music, and even a change of clothes for pictures, he had friends get up early and climb to the summit to wait and record the special moment. With the careful, well-thought-out plans, the mission was set into motion.

Who would have thought you’d need a reservation to climb a mountain?

Turns out, in 2020, you do. Thankfully after some quick thinking, he finagled the park director to let them hike an obscure trail. They made it to the summit where friends hid behind a rock playing, Marry You by Bruno Mars. She caught sight of one of the people hiding and broke into tears before he could get on one knee. She was crying so hard he had to ask her if she was okay before he could say, “Will you marry me.” Thankfully, the tears were happy tears. She said yes, and they have the most beautiful engagement photos.

My friends

Plenty of obstacles attempt to hinder us or thwart our plans, but we’ll never experience the joy and spectacular view of heaven if we abort the mission.

In this case, my friend’s mission was to propose to his girlfriend, and despite the roadblocks, he forged the climb and was successful.

But what is our mission?

To love.

We’re told to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and love our neighbor as ourselves, but we can get so caught up in our own detailed plans that we take our focus off our mission. Loving our neighbor sounds easy until obstacles arise. What if the neighbor throws their lawn clippings over the fence into your yard, spouts off about their different political views, never returns what they borrowed, or cranks loud music while you’re sleeping?

Inside we might fume. We might retaliate in kind or run mental replays of how we’d tell them off, but where does that leave us? Loving someone can be easier said than done. However, that is our purpose, and more than ever it seems like we’ve reached mission-critical. When the world starts to spew hate, we are supposed to love. When your “neighbor” acts like the devil incarnate, it’s time to kill him with kindness. When life throws one battle after another at you, open up your arsenal and choose to love, because love conquers all.

Don’t be fooled into believing that love is wimpy, soft, or naïve. Love is a powerful weapon. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always endures, but best of all, love never fails (1 Corinthians 13). It takes a strong, brave person to love. Nevertheless, we can do so because God first loved us.

Don’t abort the mission. Love people throughout the rocky climb, because there are spectacular rewards awaiting us at the summit.

My engaged friends on Mount Monadnock summit

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I couldn’t tease the proposal without showing you the video. Enjoy!

couple embracing

The Musings of a Love Connoisseur

Couple embracing

I love love.
Although this sentence sounds strange and looks repetitive, it’s true. Writing romance novels gives me free rein to study love and people in it. There is nothing more heart-thumping than the moment the hero realizes his life is better with the heroine by his side. When in a grand gesture, the hero sacrifices the one thing he said he’d never give up because her love was well worth the cost or vice versa. It’s the moment when two people battle their demons to find happily-ever-after, within their grasp, and they take the leap.

While romantic love is what sells in boxes offices and books, there’s a love just as powerful and self-sacrificing—a mother’s love. I often had nightmares as a child. I remember repeatedly running into my parent’s bedroom and waking my mother. She’d calm me down and sit with me until I fell back asleep. While I know I appreciated her helping me, I didn’t truly understand the full sacrifice until I had kids of my own who also had terrible dreams, and I’d go and sit with them by their bed. Kids don’t fall asleep that quickly, and at 3 am, when you’re utterly exhausted with a big day ahead of you, one minute feels like an eternity.

Mom holding baby

Mothers are continually making sacrifices for their children, but you don’t find too many books written about a mother’s love. Often, it’s taken for granted, with kids thinking it’s a mother’s job or just how moms are wired. But the love that changes diapers, cleans up vomit, sacrifices their Sunday night to do a forgotten, last-minute panorama project, and loses sleep worrying until they hear their child pull in the drive past curfew, this love doesn’t expect anything in return. In fact, a mother knows the day they endure excruciating pain to bring their child into the world that the goal is for that child to grow up, spread their wings, and someday fly away.

While a mother’s love is special, God’s love is even greater.

Isaiah 49:15 asks what mother would forget the child at her breast? But, it states, even if she might forget, God will never forget you. One of my most treasured memories is sitting in a rocker-glider with my newborn baby boy looking at his sweet little face, feeling the warmth of his little body cuddled in my arms, and thinking there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my precious little man. God’s love is even greater, stronger, and more passionate. It’s the marrying of romantic love where the groom comes for his bride and the sacrificial love of a mother. There is no height nor depth, no angel nor demon, nor any power in all creation that could keep God’s love from us (Romans 8:38-39).

He loves you beyond fathomable because you are that precious to Him.
What an amazing love.

To all the moms out there, happy Mother’s Day this Sunday! 

A special shout-out to my mom. Thank you for staying up nights with me, for the countless packed lunches, and all the spelling words you helped quiz me. Thank you for every moment of worry and every tear shed. Thank you for believing in me, cheering me on, and cheering me up. I love you.

Happy Mother's Day

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Love and hate heart

The Opposite of Love isn’t Hate

Love and hate heart

My middle son had to pick something up from his locker at school, so I drove him during this time of social distancing. As he got out of the car, another boy was entering the school who recognized him. The boy’s face lit up, and he waved with and exuberant, “Hi Jim—” but then he stopped. It was as if he realized he wasn’t supposed to be near people or even speak to them. He dropped his hand, lowered his gaze, and continued into the school as somber as if attending a funeral.

The next day, I made a grocery store run. It was pretty chaotic. People eyed me as if I was holding a knife on them. When I reached to grab an item, a woman who’d been standing nearby jumped out of the way as if I’d suddenly caught fire.

As a business owner, my husband feels like he’s going into battle every day. He’s making tough decisions and doing what he believes is best for the long-term to keep as many people employed as possible. However, not everyone thinks it’s the right decision. He says his days recently have turned into 70% managing people’s emotions and 30% working on the company activities.

We are living in a strange time.

It’s as if other people pose a threat to our existence. However, people are not our enemies. As it says in Ephesians 6:12, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

man sitting alone on bench

Isolation may be the best way to save as many lives as possible, and I’m not saying go against the current protocols, but I think it’s wise to bring to light some things we should be conscious of so that we can protect ourselves from sneak attacks.

It has always been the devil’s best tactic to separate individuals from their herd so they can be easily picked off. Being alone allows doubts to creep in. It’s where a person can be attacked, maybe not by a virus, but by fears, insecurities, and vulnerabilities. In the confinement of our man-made safe haven, it can feel as if nothing can touch us.

Sometimes, not even God.

But this is a lie.

There is no place we can go where God can’t reach us.

God’s arm is never too short (Isaiah 59:1).

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

Mark Batterson, in his book, Chase the Lion, says, “The opposite of love isn’t hate. The opposite of love is fear.”  Even hate can join people together, but fear isolates. Evil does its best to use fear to try to drive out love.

However, 1 John 4:8 reminds us, “God is love,” and God will not be moved. The devil may think he’s winning, but this is when God’s love shines through us, and we see it in greater online church attendance, in Christians who are grocery shopping for those who can’t leave their houses, financial support to those in need, and by texts and phone calls to check in on the lonely.

What opportunities do you have to reach out to those who might be feeling alone and frightened?

If you are feeling alone, please email me. I’d be more than happy to encourage you or connect you to others.

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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Crown of Bavaria

Kings Aren’t for Everyone

Crown of Bavaria

My family rented Aquaman over the weekend. One line in the movie stuck with me and instilled a new perspective on kings. Here’s the dialogue:

Mera: Atlantis has always had a king, now it needs something more.
Aquaman: What could be greater than a king?
Atlanna: A hero. A king fights only for its nation, but you fight for everyone.

Okay, so maybe a king isn’t for everyone?

Atlanna was right. Throughout history, kings have fought mostly to defend or expand their nations. European Kings rose to power due to their ability to conquer and maintain their holdings. After William the Conquer seized power in 1066 A.D., he established a feudal system in England where land was granted to Barons, who in return, offered their fidelity and service to protect the king and his country. After that, it became rare for a king to ride into battle himself. Kings sent their best warriors to fight on their behalf.

Should we hold out for a hero, instead? 

Boy dressed as superhero

We are fascinated with superheroes. Marvel Studios, the maker of the Avengers films and others, has proven our obsession regarding people with superpowers by grossing nearly 11 billion dollars in sales. Little boys dress up in capes and pretend to save the day. They dream about catching the bad guys and fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. 

What if saving the day isn’t enough?

In college, I took a world religions class. I was fascinated by all the similarities and differences between the religions. As the professor taught from a non-biased perspective, part of me wanted to stand up and yell, Don’t you see? In all these other religions, humans desperately work to sacrifice to their god or gods. They seek to earn favor, but Christianity is different. Jesus not only freely offers his love to anyone who’ll believe, but He sacrificed Himself for us, not the other way around.

A hero may save the day, but a Savior saves us for all eternity.

God didn’t send his best warriors out to fight the battle. He came himself. He assumed our fallible human form and laid down his life as a sacrifice. Out of His unfathomable love for us, he allowed himself to be beaten, mocked, and crucified during a time when the most brutal means of torture possible was used to extend the torment. He did this for us knowing our past sins, the filth of our present sins, and willful acts of sin we’d commit in the future. He bore them all and chose to die because He loves us.

Jesus stepped down from his throne, took off his superhero cape, and allowed nails to be driven into his hands.

All hail our Savior! 

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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!

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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