Posts Tagged Love

Erasing Gaps Between Church And Community With A Bridge Called Love

The following is from my personal Facebook status tonight. It’s just my thoughts about an amazing day I thought I’d share. It’s really nothing other than me just thinking from the heart out loud…

Homeless woman in San Francisco

Homeless woman (Photo credit: Franco Folinihan

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After my day today in this community, and praise and worship in community tonight, well, I am just beside myself with few words, because I sit in awe of God. I love community. All communities. But I love this community with a passion, because of the relationships built with the people in this community. All of them. Rich, poor, it doesn’t matter. But, I do have to say that I LOVE getting hugged by the homeless person that knows my name and asks for prayer. I don’t mind that the person wanting to join hands for prayer reeks of body odor and is filthy. I love having a conversation with the person picking up cigarette butts to roll whatever they can get out of them because it’s all they’ve got. They just want to have a friend. And I am blessed these same people will confide HUGE, massive, and scary things (they used to scare me and I’d tell God I wasn’t ready to help pray for such intense things) but I thank God that they feel comfortable enough now to ask for prayer, and I no longer fret, because God shows up every time!

It’s not about preaching in a church building or having church between four walls. It’s being the church wherever you are! The body can pump life into the world when it reaches out into the community and doesn’t try to change people, but rather just love them. It’s loving people enough to be the Light, speak the Truth, and build real relationships. That is church to me. It’s community. Inside the church AND out. Those relationships matter so much. And I am so FREAKIN’ blessed because of them. (I normally don’t use that word, because I feel it is almost too strong, but it fits here in strength!) God doesn’t bless them with us, but rather He blesses us with them!

I believe that we build up the church when we build up the people outside of it. And that is how community erases the line between them. The church exists in the community. And the community exists in the church. That’s when they become one. I’d say I need to turn off my brain and stop thinking, but that’s not what this is about. It’s not my brain or smarts at work here. It’s all heart. And if the heart stops beating…well, we don’t want that! GET involved in community. It’s not hard. And everyone has time. Could be why I am so passionate about life management. We ALL have time to do something and do it well. Time, Talents, and Resources. You’ve got them! Don’t be afraid to give them! Live a life of faith in action. Go. Do. Be the Light. 🙂

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Navigating Life In A World Of A Million Voices

I wanted to post an article about a few recent questions individuals in a life management training session asked me to help them with.

With so many people in the world today given a voice through normal day-to-day conversations, the use of social media, the endless flood of opinions, and constant noise level of our world in this day and age, how in the world do people find their direction in a world of a million voices?

In a day and age when people feel it’s their obligation and duty to give you their opinions on what you should do in your life no matter how well or how little they know you, how can you filter the noise? Those were some GREAT questions, by the way! I wanted to answer them again in my blog, so others could see some of the advice I gave this group on their concerns.

All too often our lives are flooded with defeat or constant second guessing by people everywhere. And that keeps many individuals confused or paralyzed. They are afraid to move forward, afraid to make a decision, and many times find themselves stressed.

All they hear is an overwhelming:

Maybe this.

Maybe that.

Maybe you should have done this.

Maybe you should have gone that way.

Maybe you shouldn’t be going this direction at all.

Maybe you should have taken my advice.

Maybe you just aren’t ready.

Maybe, maybe, maybe is what some people are hearing over and over again. And it is not helping. It’s highly confusing and defeating. After all, there is a point when too many voices becomes too much, and people start to suffer from information overload.

This is why people need to filter the voices they listen to and is a primary skill in life management. Some things to consider: (from a faith-based perspective, since this was in an environment of faith-based individuals. However, these same techniques are important and relevant to everyone, faith-based or not.)

1. Is the advice coming from people who are Godly? Are they giving you worldly and likeable or popular advice? Or are they honoring your core beliefs and giving advice and wisdom found in the Bible? Are they directly experienced with your situation? Do they know you well? Are they possibly too close to the situation? If they are too close, it is wise to find someone you trust who is neutral,  so there isn’t a bias.

2. Are the voices from people you trust? A word about this: Sometimes people who think they are in your circle of trust are not really in it. They want or feel they have the right to be in it and can try to force their way in beyond the boundaries you have set. Be firm in the boundaries you set, but do so as kindly as possible. This can be a very delicate situation, but it can be handled effectively and with tact. Not everyone needs to be or should be in this circle. Set your boundaries and go with your gut. You have the right to privacy, and you’re not under obligation to share your personal life, desires, or struggles and successes except with those you are comfortable in doing so.

3. What does our gut say? What does your internal radar indicate? Have you prayed and sought God? Have you given some time for reflection? Have you listened or waited for a response? Sometimes it comes from the most unlikely source. Does the decision you’ve made require a leap of faith? Or do you sense that you are to wait it out? Grab a pen, journal, doodle, read, take a break, get some fresh air, and watch to see what answers arise. Just remember: We should seek God first when making decisions, and not seek Him last.

As I thought about this post, and after thinking about the conversations and questions that people asked me that sparked this article, I had one final and profound revelation about finding direction in a confusing world of so many voices.

ALWAYS move toward LOVE.

Look at this image again: When in doubt, move toward LOVE!

Why? When you’re moving toward love, you’re likely moving toward God.

Now when I say move toward love, I am not saying to move toward a new relationship. I’m not saying to move toward the hot guy or girl that just moved to town. That is not the type of love I am talking about at all.

Move toward God. When there seems to be a million voices, a million choices from all of those voices coming at you, and you can’t seem to find your next step or path because of all of the noisy confusion in your midst, simply move toward God. Pray. Seek Him. Listen for His wisdom. Open your Bible. Ask, Knock, and open the door that leads to His presence. Seek him first:

Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.[a]

As I thought about that, as we simply remind ourselves in a noisy world to filter the chaos and move toward love, we will find we will move toward God. And when we are moving toward Him, being closer to Him, and growing our relationship with Him first and foremost by making that our life direction, most of the other things we are confused about or unsure of will fall into place. When that happens we’ll likely know what steps to take next.

So, the solution can be really simple!

Simply move toward love. Simply move toward God.

Suddenly it will all become so clear as to whose voice you should be following and in what direction you should be moving toward in a world of opinions, voices, and anything goes. Life management is about utilizing filters to eliminate the chaos of daily life. It’s essential that we prioritize what and who you listen to to move in a direction that is prioritized by you.

So the next time you feel there is too much surrounding you in the way of voices saying this and that: Remember to get to a place where you can get with God and move toward Him.

Always make your next step in His direction.

Simply keep moving toward Love.

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Are You Infecting Others?

Prototheca wickerhamii, an infectious alga, is...

Image via Wikipedia

As I was pondering the many questions about life and leadership floating around in my head this morning, I wondered if being infectious could change the world in a positive aspect. Normally we describe being infectious as a bad or unhealthy thing. But, I believe we should be infectious in a positive and uplifting sense. Our attitudes and perspectives can have just as much of a positive impact as a nasty, discouraging, diseased, and fearful world can have on so many things.

I came across this video I’d seen a while back, and it confirmed how we as leaders and ordinary people can have a positive impact when we become infectious in the right ways. Spread the love. Spread the laughter. Spread hope.

Spread something good in this world.

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A Loaf Of Luvin’

Love for Arts

Image via Wikipedia

Today in church our pastor started off with a thought, and it’s just stuck with me all day. It’s made me laugh, ponder, and think about numerous life areas. He was talking about showing our love after a song “Show Me Your Love”, and he spoke about how a man gives a woman gifts to get a reaction. I thought about it. And I contemplated why we do give those we love gifts. We do want to see how they react. Appreciative, excited, surprised, happy, or in some instances cold and non responsive.

Have we ever had that happen? We give a gift to someone and we had anticipated them loving it, but then we realize they really could’ve cared less? There was no appreciation, celebration or thankfulness? Of course we can relate this to our personal relationships and marriages. But where our pastor was going was this: God has given us gifts. He’s given us blessings. He’s given us salvation, freedom from the bondage of our past and forgiveness, yet how many of us have treated the gifts as though they didn’t matter? That just breaks my heart. As our pastor said this morning, God doesn’t force us to love him. He gave us the gift of love in so many blessings. But He leaves it up to use to show Him our reaction. Do we embrace it? Do we just ignore it? Do we not give it back? Do we just take it for granted? Is this how we love? Wow. It makes us think about love spiritually and within our relationships. What have our reactions been? And are we truly showing the reaction we want the giver of love (who ever it is) to see? If not, we’d better change it and quick, because love is on the line!

To live is to love. To live without love is like trying to breathe without air. That just came to me one day, and it’s something I love to reflect upon. We want our lives to change. We want to live with people who really care about us, fall in love, feel secure, grow and mature in love, but we treat love like it’s a loaf of bread. We let it sit out. We forget to tie the twisty-tie to keep it fresh. We forget how to enjoy it. After all, it’s just a loaf of bread, right? It is. Yet we forget it has many purposes, much like love does.

Love heals.

Love forgives.

Love embraces.

Love accepts.

Love gives.

Love appreciates.

And love bonds.

What do you want to be bonded to?

A loaf of stale bread? Or a life of love?

If we choose a life of love, we’d better get off our buns and show our gratitude and appreciation, and show our love in return. If we don’t, we’re just allowing it to go stale. It’s time to stop loafin’ and start lovin’.

If you want your life to change, embrace the love.

You’ve got some luvin’ to do.

Show me your heart:)

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The Four Aspects of Love Sermon

The Four Aspects of Love: Unconditional, Fearless, Fruitful, and Shared.

I was asked to be a guest speaker in a local church. And today was the first time I ever delivered a sermon. As a public speaker and trainer I have no problem speaking in front of large groups of people. But when I was asked to deliver the sermon, I have to admit it was a little nerve wracking during the preparation process! I had 30 minutes to speak, and for me that is not hard to fill. I got down to 29 minutes in my practice sessions, and I felt relaxed and at peace about the message. And, I was very excited, because sharing the word of God is so exciting! But I remember thinking when I was first asked that I had not ever prepared a full sermon before. I’d done devotionals, but nothing like this. PANIC! No, I prayed and asked Him for guidance! When God asks you to do something, He equips you, and I found myself writing the message and diving right on  into His word.

Several individuals I know who couldn’t be there had requested to hear the message even though they couldn’t attend. So, as promised,  it has been recorded and posted below. During the service, the recording was unable to take place due to unforeseen technical issues. So, it was recorded right after I finished it the first time. I just did it all over again, so I could make sure those who wanted to hear it could.

I am honored to have been asked to speak and teach into the lives of this congregation  This is truly the work of God, because his guidance for this message was incredible and it came together beautifully-without thorns I might add! (You’ll understand that comment as you listen to it.) I pray he continue to grow and stretch me while he teach me how to reach those with His word. I pray that He be honored and glorified for His works and His wisdom. And I have a whole new appreciation for those who write sermons each and every week. WOW! That is a HUGE responsibility and much, much work!

For a first time opportunity to preach a message in church, I am grateful and blessed.

Follow the following link if you’d like to listen to the recorded version:

The Four Aspects of Love: UNCONDITIONAL, FEARLESS, FRUITFUL, and SHARED.

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Breathing Without Air

Author: Bagande

Image via Wikipedia

I know. I am busy today, and a blog post was last on my “to-do” list.  But nonetheless here it is. It’s become a priority. And that’s only because it’s something I’m passionate about. It may not be the first order of the day to build people up by writing about something that’s been laid heavily on my heart today, but I have made it a priority.

#1. Because I can’t stop thinking about it until I write about it.

#2. People are a priority…period and reaching out to people is something that just doesn’t need to wait.

There are so many people hurting out there. And my heart just breaks when I think about it. It breaks even more though when I think that people’s hearts are breaking because of the very people they love in some cases. When I thought about why relationships of people I knew were falling apart, why people sometimes hurt each other, or children and parents relationships start colliding, my heart broke even more.  This message became more important to write about.

I started pondering all kinds of questions. Are we becoming a society that is trying to live without love?  What is love? Isn’t love about focusing more on others and less on ourselves? Yet how many of us are self focused?  We all are. We’re fallen and self-centered around what’s better or more important to the self. Yet when we do that, when I think about how that works in relationships, it reminds me of this:

Breathing without air.

How can we breath without air? We can’t. We gasp, grasp, and trying to pull in our directions whatever little bit we can get. We simply starve of oxygen and cannot survive. And then it turns into a survival instinct. It snow balls and gets worse. We’re taking what little air we have and then taking it from those we love who are around us. So essentially, because we are starving of air, we start starving everyone around us. Is that how the world operates today? Are we love-starved air hogs?

This thought popped into my heart this morning: Living without love is like breathing without air.

What happens when we start living our lives without love? Isn’t it similar to trying to live without air? Love is essential for our survival. It’s not an option. Humans need love. But, it’s not just about the need. It’s also about the give. We are also designed to give love. So I wonder: Where and how do we give love? Do we simply focus on giving or providing love ourselves by focusing so much on our own selfish needs and desires? Do we give ourselves the most love and give to those around us what is left over? Can our relationships survive on leftovers? (That answer is NO!)  Can we breath on leftover air and live a quality life with half or less of the oxygen we really require for survival and live an optimal life? I don’t think so. We might be able to survive for awhile, but I believe it will take it’s toll.  The same holds true in our relationships.

We have to make living a life of love a priority. It means determining the importance of those you value in your life. It means giving and providing the “air” or love they need so they do more than just survive. It’s providing and sustaining those relationships so they thrive. If you merely give just enough to survive, it can’t thrive for long.

I believe the world needs CPR. It needs oxygen to the heart. It needs a revival of the spirit of love. We need to become a people that focuses more on others and less on ourselves. Don’t we have more when we give more? Can’t we survive on less when we provide some of what we have to others? Isn’t life about focusing outward to meet the needs of those around us? And do we most often miss loving those who are around us the most? Do we take for granted the air we breath? Are we simply breathing air in and not giving the breath of life to another individual? Our breath can be used to build those up around us.

In a world where everything is consumed, are we putting anything out there that puts something positive back? Everybody wants love. But are we giving love? Or are we living without love and trying to breath without air?

Some posts I ask many more questions than I can begin to answer. And I don’t have the answers. I’m just pondering some of the great questions I think of sometimes. If anything-these questions change the way I live and love. And I’m going to live a life that breathes love and life to others.

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That’s What Momma’s Tears Are Made Of

Collage of baby picturesTonight for the sixth year in a row, I had the privilege of attending the Hutchinson Public School’s Mass Bands Concert. Every band student from 6th grade on up to 12th grade plays in this massive concert sometimes referred to as the “mass mess”. I’ve never thought it to be a mess, but a medley of all the things big and small the students have learned in their musical lives.

I know that each time I attend a school function where one of my kiddos is performing, I will suffer from “allergies”, so I try to always be prepared. I have my camera, flip video, and tissues ready for all the things I’ll need to do. The electronics handle all the memories, while the tissues handle those pesky allergies. Ok, so my allergies are not real allergies. Instead it’s my way of saying I’m a “mush”.

Anytime I see my kids perform, my eyes will fill with tears. And the amount of liquid that fills them is directly related to how hard whatever it is that causes this to occur pulls on my heart string. I never really knew why this happened until tonight. As I watched my oldest daughter play her flute for the sixth year in this concert and my youngest her first, I suddenly realized that it wasn’t necessarily this performance that brought the flood of tears to my eyes. I started thinking back to my oldest daughter’s last concert. I wondered: What makes me tear up? What pulls at my heart when I watch my kids achieve something new? Tonight it hit me like a ton of bricks. And I think when those bricks hit my heart it set off a chain reaction.

My eyes teared up quickly.

My lip quivered.

I started chewing my gum and squirming in my seat to stop the previous two reactions.

It worked to control the tear flow. At least temporarily. It started again during the next song, and here’s why:

Every achievement my kids make is like a rerun of their lives played right before me. I’m not witnessing this one time thing, this one single performance. Maybe that’s what my eyes see at this point in time–just this one thing. But when I experience my kids doing something new, or performing something different, or spreading their wings, I am actually experiencing stacked memories. As I watched my oldest tonight, I saw not just tonight’s Mass Bands Concert. Nope. I saw 17 1/2 years of concerts. My mind flooded with memories of dances. I saw countless Halloween’s of princess and Barney costumes replayed in my head. I remembered Christmas mornings and the pitter-patter of those tiny feet running in to remind me that Santa had come and left presents under the tree even though I’d barely made it to bed before the kids would awaken. I could hear the infectious belly laughs of those toddler years, and the nightly singing in the shower from my kindergarten opera star who’d sing her heart out unaware that I was listening at the door just soaking it all in! (My lip quivers again, because it’s like experiencing an earthquake of love in my heart!)

I realized that memories get stacked. And each new thing becomes yet another memory. So, as I sit and watch one performance or concert, or see one of my children reach a new milestone, I see many, many years of incredible moments flash before my eyes. It seems like a movie of the sweetest and most memorable events. And all the memories gathered year after year are what tug the heart string that is directly connected to my eyes and fills them with those precious tears that only a mother could understand. There are no words for all of those wonderful experiences. There are no easy ways to describe the joyous emotions that surface. And that’s because they are likely too much for one heart alone to contain.

I realized those tears have nothing to do with being mushy and everything to do with witnessing a life. Because that’s what your Momma’s tears are made of. They are made of life!

Mom and her boy!

Baby picture

My big girl!

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