Welcome to my corner of the world. I believe our experiences are not only for our benefit, but should be shared. I hope you will find something in my journey to encourage and inspire you.

Friday, November 8, 2013

What is love?

Image courtesy of digitalart at
Has there ever been someone you have struggled to love? A family member? One of our daughters has been a challenge for me pretty much from the start. We thought our family was complete with three children, but God knew that with three children, it was too easy for me to rely on myself instead of leaning on Him. 

I was head over heals in love with our fourth child, knowing that she probably would be our last. She was (and still is) funny and filled with joy. Along with her Daddy, she was challenging me to be less serious. Then her determined nature began to show itself. I should have known we were in for quite a ride when she was about eighteen months old and told me "No, that!" as I took an outfit from the dresser that she did not want to wear.

The more I did things that seemed loving - an extra story, letting her choose an outfit, ... - the more she wanted. I said no to more in an effort to preserve my sanity. Then she became more difficult and I felt my heart start to harden towards her. At some point I realized love isn't always pretty, sometimes it has to say no, stand firm, and endure the backlash. I just didn't know how to love this little girl God gave us to raise.

What is love anyway? Is it mushy, gushy feelings?  Is it just feelings of deep affection for someone? It really goes far beyond feelings. Jesus tells us to love our enemies! You can't do that on feelings alone. I think God's love is based on the high value He places on each person, the same value He wants us to place on people.

Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love God and that the second is like it - love your neighbor as you love yourself. I can try to do that, but my selfish nature really doesn't want to put much effort into loving others. I mean what have they done for me anyway?

Then in John 15:12, He gives a new commandment:
"...that you love one another, just as I have loved you."
That will look a lot different than loving as I love myself. And a lot better.

I know there is only one way to love like that - lay down all that I hold onto that gets in the way and let God love through me. That is scary. The things I hold onto are what keep this protective wall built around me so no one can see the insecure, frightened woman behind the "has it altogether" facade.

As I started to consider how God loves us and what that would look like if I live it out, I headed to my concordance. I just love research, digging into a topic to learn all I can. I searched for all of the places the Bible tells us about God's love.

I found some of its characteristics: it provides and protects, is just, merciful, everlasting, lavish, unchanging,  compassionate, sacrificial, tenacious, and for everyone.

Somewhere in the middle of all that study, all that knowledge I was trying to stuff into my head, I realized I had missed something vital:

God's love isn't learned by studying it.
Image courtesy of phanlop88 at

We learn how God loves by LOVING others and experiencing God's love ourselves.

I understand God's compassionate love when I walk through cancer with a friend.

I understand God's sacrificial love when I give up my desires in order to serve.

I understand God's unconditional love as we raise our children.

I've come to the conclusion that I don't really know how to love, not like God does anyway. If I want to know more about God's love, I have to let go of my fears (which usually are the result of my selfishness and pride) and just love people more. I can learn how to do that by watching those who really know how to love and by soaking up God's love letter to me.

It has been a rocky ride, but that little girl is eighteen now. She loves Jesus with all her heart and loves people, especially children. She has stretched me, often to the breaking point. Maybe that is the point - I have to be broken before I can love as God does. There have been many times I have cried out to God asking Him to teach me to love her - I'm still learning.

Friday, November 1, 2013

An Emotional Transition - Life after being a full-time mom

The other day I took this mug out of the dishwasher and started bawling...

 because I didn't see these beautiful young ladies.

Photo by Gabrielle Handwerk

 Those grins made me think of these little girls who used to play and giggle as they ran through our home.

Photo by Dan Blackwood

The little blond is a college freshman and the brown-haired sweetie will graduate from college and get married in the spring.

This all left me wondering...

what's next for me.

I've been a full time mom for almost twenty five years. We home schooled for nine of those. The years when there were four (these cuties have an older brother and sister) little ones around my legs all wanting my attention at once were the most fulfilling years of my life so far. I was tired most of the time, and there were days that I wanted to quit, but my days were filled with purpose and joy. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was doing what I was made to do. 

And now as our house empties, I wonder where I am to pour all of the energy that went into nurturing and training our children.

Then that still small voice reminded me that my husband would love more of my time and attention. We have a good marriage and have worked to make time for each other, but it isn't the same as before kids. Then there are the friends who I've always longed to spend more time with. God will lead me if I trust Him to show me the way. 

And so I wept for:

 days gone by and the sweet little girls and boy who take part of me with them as they go,

and for the love in our daughter and her fiances eyes and a wedding that will give us another wonderful son,

and for joy as I look at who our children are and consider how God will use them to change their worlds,

and with fear as I wonder what employer will be willing to take a chance on a fifty plus year old whose only experience is managing our home and home school,

 and with  anticipation as I wait to see where God will call me next.

All of this makes me think of this quote:
E.E. Cummings

 I have more questions than answers right now, but I will trust that God has a plan and wait patiently (or sometimes not so patiently) to see where He leads.