Friday, November 2, 2012

Choose Love.

The Message says it this way:

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.  “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”  Matthew 5:43-48

When we are hurt, when we are being mistreated what is our typical response?   To lash out in anger?  And what does that create?  Only more anger that you carry that with you long after the encounter has passed.  

Or maybe your response is to withdraw, retreat, walk away putting up the cold steel cage of protection around your heart.  It's understandable especially if you are dealing with someone who has hurt you again and again.  But what is the result of that?  You never get to experience the fullness of love that way because real love is keeping your heart open even when it hurts.  Closing off your heart to someone who has hurt you affects your ability to truly love even those who are lovable.   

Looking for a radical way to live our your Christian faith?   Choosing to not only love but to show affection and offer words of kindness to someone who is being downright mean to you and rejecting you isn't easy.  But loving through the hurt and anger and praying through the human reaction to withdraw and protect yourself is the way of sacrifice.  It is putting others above yourself.   It is understanding that this person in front of you?  The one who is behaving in the most unlovable way you can imagine?  This the one who needs your love the most.   This is what Jesus calls us to when he says to love your enemies and to pray for those who despitefully use you.  Love even when they don't deserve it.  And what are the rewards?  You get to walk away from that encounter knowing that you represented Jesus in the best possible way and with that comes release and freedom.  It releases that person to God and it gives you freedom from the anger and the hardened heart you would otherwise walk away with.  It brings peace and leaves the door open for reconciliation and healing in that relationship.  

I had the opportunity to put this into practice recently with someone I had poured my life into over the past few weeks.  One day everything was fine with us, there was a lot of love and laughter and affection and gratitude for one another.  And the next day there were angry words and criticism and complete rejection for reasons I will never know.  My reaction was to be angry.  I wanted to not care anymore, to just walk away and let it end.  I was completely justified in my feelings!  But through the encouragement of my dear Husband, I saw it through and held onto love even to the point of being physically pushed away.  It was hard.  It hurts to love even in the midst of hurt.  But I was able to walk away knowing that I gave it my all, no matter the cost, I loved anyway.  I know it was God doing the loving through me because God loves the unlovable even when we can't.  All I had to do was to choose to be willing and He did the rest. 

Anyone can love the lovable.  Anyone.  But being courageous and through the praying, being able to love the one that no one loves - that's the way of the cross.  That's the way of Jesus.   It is grace.

 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Growing in Love


Today was a good day.   For one thing, the weather was just gorgeous.  A beautiful sunny fall day, it felt good to be outside a bit.  We watched as a neighbor had two of her big old trees cut down and enjoyed looking at the pink/orange/red leaves on our own maple trees. 

Mama had a good day, too.   She was feeling well enough to get out a bit.   We had a nice dinner together this evening with lots of conversation and laughter.  And tonight we were able to sit down and do some planning for her future.  I think she is feeling pretty comfortable with what we came up with.  

We are learning how to communicate with her better.  Rather than getting frustrated with her, we need to have some humor.  If we need to encourage her to see something in a different way, we are learning that we need to have eye contact and be truthful and direct without being demeaning.     

The other day a friend told me she would be praying for my affection to grow for Mama.  I see those prayers being answered daily.  I was thinking today about how long it's been since I've had an older person in my life.  It's been nearly 20 years since my own mother died and there just hasn't been anyone else.  So I'm really starting to enjoy having her here.  



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Loving the Lost and Lonely

One week ago today we began a new journey.  We drove the 1200+ mile round trip to Mississippi and back to bring home Mama, my husband's 72-year-old mother.  She has lived most of her life in the same house, in the same small town, yet was terribly, tragically alone.  No family.  No friends.  No one to go out of their way to visit.  There are many reasons for her aloneness in a place where her face is familiar to most.  She has alienated anyone who has tried to befriend her and has refused our visits for most of the past 4 years, locked away inside a confused, terrifying state of delusion.  She has spent her life a revolving door, in and out of relationships, in and out of mental hospitals and in and out of reality.  Yet later in life she spent 14 years caring for her own aging mother, devoted to meeting her every need.   After Nanny died, things went downhill quickly.  The loss of a beloved pet and the death of the only neighbor who kept in touch left her with too many days, hours and minutes to drift into an obsessive, ruminating fog.  I don't say these things in a critical way, it is simply the reality of this situation we find ourselves in.




So this morning she sits at the kitchen table, just as she does most days, quietly staring out the back window and doing puzzles. Over the past few days the compulsive talking, the telling and retelling of stories filled with paranoia, anxiety and the list of wrongs perpetrated on her over the past 30+ years has finally quieted down.  She is still having sleepless nights but seems more content. 

Being that alone, no matter what the cause, cannot be good for anyone.  To see familiar faces in the community that turn away, to spend days on days in a home where there are no other voices, no visitors and only memories of abuse and dysfunction would be an unthinkable way to live the last years of one's life.

I can't help but wonder how many others there are like her.  The rejected ones.  The ones who for whatever reason are the undesireable ones.  The ones who have been sent to the far reaches of loved ones' minds and forgotten.  I only know that there is this one, this mother.  And she is here.  I want so much to demonstrate the kind of love and devotion shown by Ruth to Naomi, to show the kind of compassion and grace that Jesus did.  I am weak - we both are merely human.  I know it will be difficult.  I know there will be many challenges.  But I also know that we are not alone in this. 

Nothing comes into our lives that is not filtered through the hands of a Loving Father.  God does not call us to something without giving us what we need to carry it out.  So I am keeping my eyes and my heart fixed on him.  We are praying the confusing fog will clear and the tortured memories will fade. We are praying that peace will come for all of us. 

 ~~~

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27 (NIV)

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.  James 1:27 (The Message)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Personal Sacrifice

A friend of mine shared this the other evening and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.  I wanted to post it here to share and for safekeeping so I can come back and reflect on it again and again.

in the first centuries
of christianity
the hungry we fed
at a personal sacrifice,
the naked were clothed
at a personal sacrifice,
the homeless were sheltered
at a personal sacrifice.
and because the poor
were fed, clothed and sheltered
at a personal sacrifice,
the pagans used to say
about the christians,
“see how they love each other.”
in our own day
the poor are no longer
fed, clothed and sheltered
at a personal sacrifice
but at the expense of the taxpayers.
and because the poor
are no longer
fed, clothed and sheltered
at a personal sacrifice,
the pagans say about the
christians,
“see how they pass the buck.”
- peter maurin

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hope Deferred

Hope Deferred - SOLD!
Thank you!
Week two of my painting commitment of doing one large piece per week until September.  I think I'm gonna like this!  I can feel myself stretching and learning as I go.  They say you don't get to your true self as an artist until you've painted 100 paintings.  Well I am nowhere near that but I'll definitely be working toward that goal!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Abiding in Faith


abiding(adj.)  continuing without change:  "an abiding faith."
enduring, imperishable, unceasing:  "an abiding belief"; "imperishable truths"

My faith is not abiding by the above definition.  My faith often takes a beating having to deal with the day to day struggles we all face:  relationships, finances, sickness, unfulfilled hopes and dreams. I wrestle with my faith often and I fail often.  How about you?

I'm learning, though, that faith is a two-way street and that God's faith in me is abiding, continuing without change, enduring, imperishable and unceasing.  He never gives up on me no matter how bad things get.  He is the perfect and faithful Father.  

*****

So the above painting is the first of many I'll be creating over the next 3 months.  That's about 12 weeks that I have to prepare for an art fair that I've applied to participate in in September.  I should be notified in the next couple of weeks but I want to be prepared and so I begin.  

This one is listed in my Etsy shop for sale HERE.  






Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunshine and Cool Breezes

Sunshine and cool breezes.


Some of my favorite things about Spring.


~love~