Tag Archives: Love

What is True Love?

heart-1170606For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading 1 Corinthians 13, the famous “love chapter” of the Bible. Why? Because I’ve needed a refresher on what it really means to love people and to put it into practice. I’ve been reading it in the NLT version (New Living Translation) and let me tell you, it really puts love into perspective. Love isn’t some lighthearted feeling we feel bubbling up inside our chest. In fact, some of the word choices the NLT uses really brings home what love is… and what love is not. Let me show you.

First, I love how Paul talks about all the great things a human could do, and in context, how the Corinthians thought if they could have these more amazing spiritual gifts, they would be something. Instead, Paul says it doesn’t matter if you can speak all the languages of the world, have all knowledge and even know God’s secret plans, be willing to sacrifice yourself, or give all you have to the poor, but if you don’t love your fellow man, it doesn’t mean anything. In modern terms, it doesn’t matter if you win the Noble Peace Prize, broker peace in the Middle East, give all you have to help the homeless, or be the smartest person in the world, but don’t love—I mean really love—those around you, it doesn’t mean a hill of beans. Useless. A waste.

So what does true love really look like? Here is how Paul breaks it down:

Love is Patient. Yeah, that means being patient with the people who cut you off in traffic or drive slower than you do. Or when the Walmart clerk is slow, or someone has more than 20 items in the 20 item line. Patience is a facet of true love.

Love is Kind. Kind to children. Kind to the elderly. Kind to the disabled. Kind to your co-worker. Kind to spouse. Love oozes kindness.

Love is not Jealous. Nope. Instead, it is glad when someone else receives a blessing.

Love is not Boastful. Boasting is saying “look what I have and you don’t.” Love doesn’t do that.

Love is not Rude. Rudeness is a form of selfishness. Rudeness only looks out for #1 and shoves everyone else aside. Love doesn’t do that.

Loves does not Demand Its Own Way. Ouch. I’ve really had to work on this one. I have one way of cleaning the kitchen or loading the dishwasher or folding the towels. Real love gracious allows others to do things in other ways. Most often fights occur because we want our own way, when in truth there are many ways things can be done.

Love is not Irritable. Notice it doesn’t say gets angry. The word irritable makes me think of a small dog who-when you get close to it-starts to growl, then snaps at you. I do that to people, especially first thing in the morning. True love doesn’t do that. It doesn’t let things get under its skin. Next time you want to snap at someone, or feel yourself growling inside, remember love is not irritable 😉

Love keeps no Record of Being Wronged. No back pocket list. No hidden paper with every offense. If you have a list, let it go. Especially toward your spouse. But, but, but… Nope. If God doesn’t keep a list about us, we shouldn’t be keeping a list about others.

Love does not Rejoice About Injustice. We should not be cheering when injustice happens. That is not love.

Love rejoices when the Truth Wins Out. This is truly something to be happy about! Love always wants to the truth to win.

Love never gives up. Have you giving up on someone lately?

Love never loses faith. Have you lost faith in someone lately?

Love is always hopeful. Have you lost your hope recently?

Love endures through every circumstance. Every single one.

Looking back at this list, real loves seems impossible, right? Sometimes I think that. “But God, you don’t know that person. They really get under my skin!” Or, “God, that person hurt me really, really bad.” In some circumstances, there is absolutely no reason a person deserves our love. That is why real love transcends human nature, and why it takes God’s power to love. We can’t love like this on our own. But we can through Jesus Christ. After all, this is how He loves us. Patience, kindness, no record-keeping, never gives up on us, never loses faith in us, always hopes, and endures through everything.

This, my friends, is real love.

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For Love or Money?

moneyA friend of mine posted a question on Facebook: “Would you rather do what you love and barely make ends meet or do what you tolerate for abundance?”

Good question. I think most people would say they would rather do what they love. After all, who wants to be chained to a mundane job day after day for forty years if they had a chance to do what they love?

The problem is, I think people view the whole “do what you love and be poor” idea with rose-tinted glasses. Sure, they would live in a smaller house and drive a cheaper car if they could just do what they wanted. However, sometimes being poor doesn’t mean having less, it means not having at all.

Dan and I are both currently doing what we love and what we believe we have been called to do. Dan is a pastor and I am a writer. We wouldn’t trade what we do for the world. But love for our work is not always enough to sustain us:

-When medical bills come in.

-When your doctor says you need a procedure done and the insurance doesn’t cover it.

-When a family member is facing death and you can’t go to be with them because you can’t afford the plane ticket.

-When the car breaks down and you don’t know how you’re going to fix it.

-When you wonder how you’re going to feed your family.

The reality is there are times when you get tired of scraping by and wondering how you are going to provide for your family every month. Sometimes the stress out weighs the love. That’s when love is not enough to sustain you.

So how do we do it?

Honestly? I cry. I pray. And God meets me where I am. He has always taken care of us. We have never went hungry, never went without a roof over our heads. Each and every need He has provided for. And I have learned to be content with what I have in the process.

Love alone doesn’t keep us going. I’m not sure if it could keep anyone going in the long run. But doing what we love and placing our love in God’s hands, trusting Him to take care of us, that is what helps us during the rough patches.

How about you? Would you rather do what you love or be secure financially even if that meant doing something you don’t necessarily enjoy?

 

Twilight

Dan and I love to read books together and discuss them. We have read Harry Potter together, many of the Star Wars together, Artemis Fowl, Percy Jackson, etc… When I decided to read Twilight to see what all the hoopla was about, Dan read that series as well.

I found it was not as bad as people were saying. The writing aspect of the book accomplished what it was suppose to: create a powerful, emotional experience and explore the question, “What if a vampire loved me?”

But the question Dan and I talked about was the appeal. Why were millions of girls (and mothers) swooning over this series? Dan, I think, came up with the best answer: because we long to be loved by something we perceive is so much greater than ourselves.

Bella is a klutzy, moody, average looking teenage girl. She isn’t on the cheerleading squad and she isn’t class president. She comes from a divorced family and goes to live with her father in the backwoods of Washington. There is nothing special about her.

But for some reason, she is the only one who attracts Edward, a handsome and most desirable vampire.

I think every woman feels this way to some extent: that there is nothing special about her. Average, perhaps klutzy, moderately smart, and maybe only good at cooking. But secretly, inside her heart, she wishes to be something more. To be special enough to attract the one man/attention/award/_____ everyone wants.

Now I’m not going to end this post saying that something special is offered to every woman (and man), even though it’s true. We are sought and loved by something much greater than ourselves. God. But it is one thing to know God loves us in our heads, and to learn to embrace that truth in our hearts.

I’ll be honest. I’m still learning to embrace that. Sometimes it seems it would be easier to have a handsome vampire fall for me than to have faith in a God who I cannot see and believe that He loved me enough to die for me. Why? Because I could see it. Faith is hard, my friends!

But if you compare the two loves, even though God’s love is invisible to the eye, it is way better than the love of a vampire ;).

Romance

Dan left for Kansas for 7 weeks and what did I do? I put in a chic flick and watched Little Women. As I was watching, I thought about the human draw to romance. There is a verse in Proverbs that puts it this way, “There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don’t understand… how a man loves a woman.”

I love romance. I love to see a man and woman fall in love. I enjoy it in movies, books, and real life. Romantic love is a mysterious, power thing. It is what pulls us toward the opposite sex. And for many of us, it is what brought us to our spouse.

God is no stranger to romance. In fact, He is the inventor of it. He could have made Eve many different ways: hairy and muscled like an ape or round and prickly like a hedgehog. Instead, He made her similar to Adam, but also different: beautiful, feminine, inviting. Like a puzzle, each edge fit perfectly with Adam. And Adam’s response when first meets Eve? Wow!

The book of Song of Solomon follows the romantic love between a man and woman: their powerful draw to each other, but also reminders not to awaken love until it is time. The story reads like a poetic dance between the two, culminating to marriage and the night thereafter.

There is nothing wrong with romance. It is a beautiful thing to experience personally and watch unfold in the lives of others. That is why we celebrate weddings and anniversaries. The love between a man and a woman is a mystery, and an amazing one at that.

 

The Things We Do for Love

I was struck the other day how many things we do for love. Now I’m not talking about heart pounding, hands clammy infatuation. What I’m talking about is true love. Everyday love. The kind that shows up in little ways.

For example, I love my pets. I have two dogs, two longhaired guinea pigs, and a cat. There are things that they cannot do for themselves, so I do it for them. Like cleaning out the cat box. It’s a messy, stinky job, but someone has to do it. And I love my cat, so I do it without complaint.

Same with my little guys (aka guinea pigs). They are stuck in a cage and depend on me for food, water, and a clean place to live. I love those little fuzzballs so much that I have no problem doing that for them (ask my husband, you won’t find 2 more loved pigs in this world that Butterscotch and Vanilla :)).

I also love my kids. I have changed more diapers, wiped more bums and noses, and held a bowl beneath queasy tummies than I can count. But it is a labor of love. I give my time to hear their stories, laugh at their jokes, and play video games. I give up my house and yard so that they might have a place to play and grow up. My hands cook and do laundry. Little things I do everyday because I love my children.

With Dan, it’s holding his hand or rubbing his back. I love surprising him with chocolate from the store or with a quick text that says “I love you.” It’s making homemade chicken noodle soup when he’s sick in bed. Wearing his favorite shirt, laughing at his quirky jokes, making him a cup of coffee.

I also forgive him and say I’m sorry. I put my own habits aside and do things Dan’s way (like close the cap on the contact lens solution). I don’t put vegetables in the casserole and never buy Folgers coffee :). Its what I do because I love Dan.

Little things. Everyday things. Things we would not knowingly for anyone else, but we do without thought for those we love. Why? Because they mean more to us than inconveniences and messes, more than money, or time, or stuff. Its love shown in the details. The kind of love that glues people together.

So what do you do for love?

Top Ten Books I Love

It’s Friday and I’m coming into the weekend after my first full week of work. To celebrate (and because my brain is recharging), I thought I would do a light fluffy post today. This post is also the kickoff for my next three posts where I will talk about what it means to be a writer (and why you should find a more sane hobby :)). So here we go!

These books are like comfort food. When I want something to read and have nothing new, I grab one of these. I have read them over and over again. These books are old friends who live on my shelf (you know what I mean?).

1)   Anne of Green Gables. L. M. Montgomery’s books take me to a time and place filled with unique characters. If you haven’t read the series (past the first book), I would highly recommend you do :).

2)   The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings/The Silmarillion. It was The Hobbit that first sparked my love for the fantasy genre. I also love the Silmarillion. Basically it’s the history book for anything Middle Earth.

3)   Pride and Prejudice. Personally I think this is the best romance written. Girl meets boy. Girl hates boy. Girl realizes she was wrong about boy. Boy does everything to win girl back. Love it!

4)   The Scarlet Pimpernel. I read this book for the first time a couple months ago and absolutely loved it. It takes place during the French Revolution (fascinating time period) and revolves around a mysterious man who, with the help of a group of young English noblemen, smuggles French nobility out of France.

5)   Jane Eyre. A darker tale of love, but beautiful as well. It is about a young woman who has to choose between the way of love and the way of virtue. She chooses to stand by her convictions. At the end of the book, she is finally free to marry the man she loves who by then has paid the price for his past wrongs. A wonderful book about enduring love.

6)   Mark of the Lion Series. Excellent three book series that takes place during the Roman time period right after the fall of Jerusalem. The story follows a young Jewish woman who is sold as a slave into a roman household. Great historical fiction.

7)   Star Wars: Heir to the Empire series. There are many Star Wars books out there written by many different authors, but my all time favorite is this first series written by Timothy Zahn. If you want to read Star Wars, start with this series.

8)   Harry Potter. I first began reading this series after the teens in my youth group were asking about Harry Potter. This post is not the place to discuss the controversies surrounding Harry Potter (instead, go to this link* where I friend of mine discusses why Harry Potter is important to Christian discernment in reading). I love the books. J.K. Rowling has written an amazing world and deep characters.

9)   Sherlock Holmes. Yep, I love the man of deduction. It always fascinates me how Sherlock Holmes is able to solve each mystery by seeing what we all see, but in a different way. Classic mystery.

10)  Chronicles of Narnia. I could not end a post like this without mentioning C.S. Lewis and his stories about Narnia. I will say the books are better than the movies. So go read them.

So there’s my list. I would love to hear from my readers what are your most favorite books, those books whose covers are worn and pages dirty, but you read time after time after time again. Please share in the comments. Maybe I’ll find a new love amongst your lists :).

 

*http://www.speculativefaith.com/2011/07/07/harry-potter-and-the-issues-beyond-fiction-part-1/

Why isn’t Marriage Romantic Anymore?

Dan and I were watching The Event one night. Afterwards, I turned to Dan and told him they should have had two of the main characters married instead of just dating. I would have pulled for them more. Then Dan pointed out something: most of the world does not see the romance or permanence of marriage anymore.

Dan’s words saddened me. I guess I’m one of those that still believes marriage can be the strongest human relationship in the world. Where a man finds a woman and chooses to love only her the rest of his life. Where a woman stands beside her man as his lover, friend, and ally. The kind of bond that if the woman went missing, the man will go to the ends of the earth to find her (cue music “I’ll Always Find You”).

I have a hard time believing in that kind of permanent love between two people merely dating. And even harder time believing that of total strangers. Yet that is the romance we see on the big screen or read about in books.

I know, I know, you’re saying that kind of romantic marriage is more fairytale than reality. And considering the amount of divorce, infidelity, and disrespect in marriages nowadays, it’s easy to see why. But isn’t the heartthrobbing, I-will-throw-myself-in-front-of-the-monster (even though I’ve only known you two days), let’s kiss (and do more) but I may or may not be here tomorrow kind of love just as fairytalish?

Why is it that marriage has to be unexciting, unromantic, or the big problem in a movie/book? Why can’t it be the romantic element? That together, the hero and heroine are stronger than they would be apart?

I love the opening scene to Star Wars: Survivors Quest by Timothy Zahn. We watch Luke Skywalker and his wife Mara Jade totally clean out the bad guys. But not just in that scene. They do that through the entire book. And Star Wars series. Apart, Luke and Mara are pretty good jedis. Together, unbeatable. They are a fictional example of a great husband/wife team. They love each other exclusively, watch each other’s backs, powerful in their own right, but even more so together. Why can’t we have more romance like that?

Or how about Spy Kids? The movie starts out with two international spies assigned to take out the other. Of course, they fall in love instead and choose to embark on the “greatest journey of all”: marriage (and kids :)).

I would love to see more of this kind of romance when I read or watch a movie. A romance where marriage is a good thing, something to be desired. It reinforces my own desire for a good marriage, one worth fighting for.

How about you? Would you like to see more of this kind of romance? What books or movies have you seen marriage portrayed as romantic?