Friday, December 17, 2010

More Thoughts on Contagious Love...

Can you say? “I am loved!” “I am one who God loves.”

I am giggling a bit as I type this…picturing a little girl twirling about in her fancy dress proclaiming not only her beauty but how loved she is. Or in my house there are no little girls twirling in dresses; but little boys proclaiming their exquisiteness in their own unique ways.

Why do we sometimes shy away from proclaiming this? I’m guessing we either don’t feel loved and worthy or we don’t want people to think we are conceited and full of pride.

Where is the balance…the middle ground of proclaiming God’s gifts to us?

Can we all speak with such boldness and stoutheartedness like Mary when she said, “From now on all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:48) I love that my NIV Bible commentary addresses this stating,

"When Mary said, "From now on all generations will call me blessed," was she being proud? No, she was recognizing and accepting the gift God had given her. If Mary had denied her incredible position, she would have been throwing God's blessing back at him. Pride is refusing to accept God's gifts or taking credit for what God has done; humility is accepting the gifts and using them to praise and serve God. Don't deny, belittle, or ignore your gifts. Thank God for them and use them to his glory."

I am also so tickled that one of the fisherman, Jesus’ friend calls himself, “The disciple whom Jesus loved.” (This is referenced 4 times in the book he wrote titled, John).
Do you know what it is to be loved? I thought I knew what love was…but it wasn’t until I met Jesus that I really knew what it meant to be loved.

Honestly, I sometimes think our culture is a bit twisted with the meaning of love…we can get so caught up in it…starved for it and even thinking that we don’t need it. All of these perspectives are unhealthy.

How does someone who knows and believes that he is loved act? If you are considered beloved, how do others describe you, but even more importantly, how do you describe yourself?
Acting out our belovedness (I know I just made up this word) is contagious!!! And this is the kind of fever I want to catch.

So to help catch this…I thought it would help to learn a bit more about John. I was recently reading what John, the beloved disciple had to say about Jesus and who He is to us and what His love really means. May you beloved, be blessed in what I found and reflected on:

John 6:35: He is the Bread of Life…say with me,
My spiritual hunger is sustained with Jesus.”
John 8:12: He is the Light of the World…say with me,
“I will not walk in darkness with Jesus, for He makes any darkness I encounter full of light.”
John 10:7-9: He is the Gate for the sheep…say with me,
“I am safe and protected with Jesus.”
John 10:11-14: He is the Good Shepherd…say with me,
“I am known and loved by Jesus.”
John 11:25: He is the Resurrection and the Life…say with me,
“I will always LIVE with Jesus.”
John 14:6: He is the Way, the Truth and the Life…say with me,
“I have a secure path with Jesus.”
John 15:1: He is the TRUE Vine…say with me,
“I have a prosperous, fruitful life with Jesus.”

We will act what we believe and we will believe what we keep saying to ourselves.
Hoping you catch Jesus’ contagious love this Christmas.
And proclaim it…shout it out in your own way!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Contagious Love

My husband picked out some new shirts for baby Jacob while we were shopping the other day, this is one of them.

The other is now packed and ready for Jacob to wear home from the hospital because Daddy picked it out with his older brothers in mind.

After showing the boys the new shirts for their little brother I couldn’t help but join their contagious giggles; as my boy uttered, “It’s so tiny!”
Later I caught my oldest son cradling the shirt and pretending he was holding baby Jacob in his arms. His actions were contagious and my other son joined in, pretending to rock and cuddle baby Jacob too.
I took a snapshot of the moment in my mind as well as captured the whisper from my Heavenly Daddy which said, “Just as these boys will love and cradle and encourage Jacob, I have and will continue to love and cradle all of you!”
I wanted to just sit there and snuggle and freeze frame the moment; wishing the moment could last FOREVER!

Hmmm….these are contagious moments of love.
What are we doing in this life that is contagious? I’ve been reflecting a lot this week about all of the great things that God has done for me. Specifically, how God has erased the shame which was burned on my heart during the days of my youth and my dad’s abuse; and replaced the void with His love, joy, hope and peace…and so many other wonderful gifts. Most importantyly the gift we remember this month which He sent to all of us—baby Jesus.

Today is my eldest son’s 10th birthday…he was due on Christmas day 2000 but surprised us all by coming early. With his birth and now my third son due just a week before Christmas, I have thought a lot about the birth of our sweet savior Jesus in some unique ways. Even though they are not my words, I have easily taken Jesus’ mother’s words as my own. I’m not pregnant with a savior, but I am pregnant with a son…a boy loved and cherished by God.

There was a time that I was afraid of having children, as much as I dreamed of having them, I thought the abuse from my past would ruin them and the skeletons buried in my generational closet would haunt them as much as they haunted me. I did not want to pass these horrors down to a precious child…
Since knowing God and His son Jesus, I have found healing and wholeness one piece at a time and I can claim Mary’s words as my own, for it is true….”From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me.” (Luke 1:48).
Do you know you can claim these same words? Do you know Jesus? His love is contagious. He has also done great things for you and He wants you to know both Him and these wonderful things. He is the reason for this beautiful season!
I have been thinking so much about Jesus and reflecting on both who He is and who He says I am.
You see Jesus too suffered great trials like abuse—first before His ministry even began Matthew Chapter 4 tells us how He was tempted and tried in the desert and after that He began to do some specific works and a few men began to follow Him. These average men, fishermen to be exact, were convinced that following Jesus would change their lives forever. Jesus did the work He was born to do…to teach and preach the good news; as well as help and heal. My heart just melts knowing that Jesus was there to teach and offer healing to those hurting and suffering.
Have you ever been sick? Has your heart ever been broken? Have you ever needed healing of some kind? I know I surely have and Jesus came to help us—to heal us—to love us.
Do you know how loved you are? Do you live like one who is loved?
I hope you have the opportunity to catch God’s contagious love this Christmas and then spread some around for those near you to catch as well.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Preparing To Open Gifts

I thought the third time was going to be the charm when I was up late into the early morning hours with contractions keeping me from a blissful sleep. Yet, it’s just another tedious night of consistent uncomfortable contractions, the third false alarm. The contractions are consistent but they have yet to be painful enough to signal my cry towards the hospital.

God is preparing my body and family for the big day. My due date is now 11 days away and my mind is cluttered with various details pertaining to baby, the holidays, birthdays (my oldest son’s 10th birthday is just days away), and schedules.

To pass the time, I’ve been checking items off of my list left and right and slowing down the pace of my heart, body and mind. Partially due to the physical limitations with this expanding belly and also my own sanity, I’ve been saying no to that request, finishing this job, and wrapping up that commitment…all to prepare my heart, mind and home for our precious new gift.

It’s nice to have something concrete to release myself from all sorts of expectations; and the fact that I know God has prepared all of this in advance for me to do (Eph 2:10) drives my heart to be like Mary was described in Luke 2:19 “…treasure up all these things and ponder them in her heart.

Slowing down to embrace the God given treasures of your life is good practice even when you are not 9 months pregnant.

I don’t want to forget this…not this moment and not this truth! For God, surely gives us one gift after another. (John 1:16) Surely there is a gift waiting to come forth once these contractions take over with gusto and there will be another and another until the final gift with Him for eternity. (Just to clarify, I’m not talking about more children—but one blessing after another which God promises).

I don’t want to sit here and whine and complain about the discomfort I am feeling for this short time, or be distracted by any other discouraging thought…but take it all in with great anticipation.

You may not be pregnant anticipating the day of your newborns arrival, but there is a gift awaiting you in the horizon too. Let’s roll up our sleeves, put our minds in gear and be totally ready to receive the gift…whatever it may be. (1 Peter 1:13).

Maybe we can open them together!