Love: It’s Not What You Think

Red heart-shaped candy on a wooden background.

I’ve looked for love in so many places. I’ve searched for it in my friends. I’ve tried to find it in my spouse. I even thought I found it when each of my children were born. On bad days I thought I’d find it in a bowl of ice cream.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized you can’t find something that you can’t lose.

Love is not something tangible that you can find and hold on to. Love is action. Love is doing. Love is loving.

The fascination I have is that the Bible teaches in 1 John that God is love.  So, if God is the very definition of love, then He must always be in action. He must always be doing. He must always be loving.

But isn’t God something we search for? Isn’t He something we want to hold on to? Isn’t He something we want to one day witness in His almighty glory in Heaven? If God is love, then love must be a thing. Right? That would make sense to this simple-minded Southern gal. That would make processing God easier for me. That would make Him easier to understand, easier to relate to and easier to teach to my children.

Oh, but that would also be putting Almighty God in a box. If we could contain God then it would cheapen how beautiful, powerful and mysterious He is.

So this is my challenge and something that quite honestly I think about a whole lot. The word “Love.”  There are so many facets to the word, the concept, and even the reality. I need to write about it. I need to work it out. I can’t wrap my brain around God and Love. And I never will, really.

To me, it’s fun to think about Love and to think about the infinite aspects of the word. Of God. It excites me. Inspires me. Drives me. And intrigues me. I can’t seem to get enough.

So, let’s explore Love for the next several days leading up to Valentine’s Day.  The Bible is abundant with the word, using it hundreds of times depending on the version you happen to hold in your hand. I encourage you to follow along with the exploration on the topic and join in any discussion. I just need to dig and I need to do it with you. There won’t be a rhyme or reason to it. I’m depending on the Holy Spirit for guidance on this one. I find that is the best for making me think anyway.

If this sounds interesting to you, join me! Follow my posts. I am excited to fall into Love with you!

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The Joys of Imperfection

I love to sing at the top of my lungs. I don’t normally reserve this practice for when I am alone either. Ok, so my co-workers appreciate restraint while I’m in the office. But my poor family will often be subjected to whatever I am diggin’ on the radio. And when I say radio I really mean my 6 disc changer that is almost always stocked with TobyMac. Isn’t that a commandment? Thou shalt always have TobyMac on your playlist? Maybe not.

I don’t care that my cd’s are already old-fashioned. I like them. I like having to physically manage my music collection. I like the colors, art and shine of the cd’s. I like to arrange them by artist, year, and my personal preference of the week. I like having them take over my car. And, this is nuts, I like the sound the changer makes when it’s looking for what I asked it to play.

I so shoulda been a DJ.

Once I find my jam I can kinda zone out. I forget about work. Homework. Housework. Making things work. I just lose myself in whatever and wherever the lyrics are taking me and I just sing. I sing off key. I sing the wrong lyrics. I sing imperfectly beautiful and perfectly inspired.

Imperfect

There is so much joy in the imperfection of singing just because you are inspired to do it. It reminds me of the lyrics in the old song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”

I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I am free!

There’s no time to worry about my imperfections when I delve into my freedom. It doesn’t matter that I won’t win a spot on American Idol when the object of my affections rejoices with every rugged note of praise I sing.

So I sing. I sing with my kids. I sing with my husband. I sing because I can’t help myself and it is my happy place. I’ll never be famous, on Broadway, or signing autographs.

But He knows who I am. And that is all that matters.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

I had some requests from my last post to leave this recipe on the blog. It’s super simple and delicious. I reach for this recipe often at my kids’ request.

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 can chicken broth

1 can refried beans

1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)

1 can chicken, un-drained (you can use cooked diced chicken or pulled from the bone)

1 can whole kernel corn un-drained

3/4 cup salsa

1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

 

Dump all the ingredients (except the cheese) in a large pot, mix well and heat through. I usually let it simmer for 30 minutes. Then I add the cheese and stir to melt.

Serve with tortilla chips, extra cheese, sour cream or whatever other toppings you like. Enjoy!

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Things You Shouldn’t Hide From Your Children

 

 

Hide and seek

I was in the kitchen with Lucy making a recipe I’ve made for years. In fact, someone brought the meal to me when Lucy was born and I asked for the recipe. It’s a chicken tortilla soup recipe that’s perfect for a busy and cold winter night. It calls for only a few ingredients and no prep at all. Just open a few cans and dump it all in one pot. Simple!

So, I opened all the cans that needed to go in the soup and Lucy was in charge of the dumping and mixing. I handed her the chicken broth.

“I never knew there was chicken broth in this soup!” She seemed really surprised.

Then I handed her the can of refried beans.

“Beans? I never knew beans were in this soup either!”

Next the jar of salsa.

“Salsa too? Wow! It’s amazing what you learn when you cook with your mom!”

It was cute and we both laughed, but I thought to myself that I must have been doing her such a huge injustice all these years. How have I made this soup for nearly 10 years and she didn’t even know the basics of it? How did she not know that the foundation of chicken soup is chicken broth? It seems so simple, but it’s just because I never showed her.

So I made a mental note to make a better effort to show her the things she should know before it’s time for me to kick her out of the nest.

Don’t hide your affections: Be generous with hugs and kisses. And slather on the praises. It may surprise you how making a big deal over noticing that they FINALLY put their shoes away without asking makes a kid feel good. It makes them feel noticed. It makes them feel like they pleased you and it makes them want to do it again. It also teaches them that you meant it when you asked them the very first time. Maybe the next time it won’t be as big of an issue.

Don’t hide your affections with your spouse: I’m not talking about elaborate expressions of PDA because, EEW! But your children need to know you love your spouse and you aren’t afraid to show it. On the same token they need to see how the two of you handle your arguments and kiss and make up. This world is driven by a “My way or the highway” mentality these days. Your children need to see you work out any simple disagreements. And that it’s ok to disagree and move on.

Don’t hide your praises and thankfulness: I hate Winter. I just can’t stand the cold. So when I walk into my nice warm home I often say out loud, “Thank you, Lord for my warm home.” After a long drive home from vacation, when we arrive safely in the driveway I will say, “Thank you, God for a great trip and for getting us home safely.” This shows my children two things; I am thankful for the blessings and that God is always there and in and active relationship with me. Hopefully, one day they will understand the same things.

Don’t hide your prayer time: Yes, have your quiet time in private as we are called to do. And don’t flaunt the fact that you are spending time with Jesus. But don’t make a secret of it either. There are some days when I have to tell my children to leave me alone for a few minutes because I need time with Jesus to just lay a few things at His feet. They don’t need to know what those things are necessarily, but they need to know that I trust Him and can go to Him when I need Him.

Don’t hide your vulnerabilities: Lucy can’t stand it when I cry. She’ll run to my side and try to make it all better. But she needs to see that I do. She needs to know that I get scared, upset, frustrated and angry and she needs to see how I handle those emotions. Some days, I will admit, I do not handle them very well. But she needs to know that it’s ok to cry and ask for help when it’s needed.

Don’t hide your flaws: When you mess up, fess up. Because we all do. Admit your mistakes and share with your kids how you plan to fix it and move on. Ask for forgiveness if it’s needed. I’ve had to do that way more than I want to really admit.

Most of all…

Don’t hide the Gospel from your children. Share it openly, freely and find it in your every day surroundings. The love of Jesus is such good news! If that’s all you ever reveal to your kids, that will be enough!

“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11

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Why It Is Impossible To Love A Child Like Your Own

I have to give up on loving my children. I have tried since before they were born to love them well, but I just can’t do it.  You would think it would be easy to love such a sweet and perfect gift. You would think that the adorable way they mispronounced “breakfast” as “bref-tist” every morning when they were toddlers would be enough for me to fall head over heels. Their contagious laughter should be enough for me to hold on and never let go.

But I have to let go.

The truth is they aren’t even mine. They are on loan from their Heavenly Father who has entrusted me to raise them for Him.

As much as I think I love my daughters, their Father loves them more. I can’t compete with that. No matter how many peanut butter sandwiches I cut into hearts, or how many notes I leave in their lunchboxes I can never love them as if they were my own.

Sometimes I wonder what He must have been thinking when He loaned them to me. Surely there would have been someone else better suited for the job. But the truth is that God knows what He’s doing and He never makes mistakes. So, if He thinks I am capable of raising His gorgeous Abby Faith and Lucy then it must be true. Of course, I cannot do it without His help and guidance, which I often fail to seek.

I wish I could do it. I wish I could love them like He does. I wish I could give them all the grace, mercy, love and patience they crave. But I can’t.

My only prayer is that they know that too and one day will seek His face over mine. That would be the ultimate reward for taking care of His kids here on Earth.

God's daughters striking a pose on a walk today.
God’s daughters striking a pose on a walk today.

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