Tag: love

Forty years ago today he said confident words to me. Something about seeds of love being planted and I was thinking skip the poetry just say it. He did, the exact words I don’t recall, but he asked this 19-year old girl to marry him and I said yes. It was a scared yes but I carried scars from my parents divorce. Did I really know what love was?

I said yes, if. 

We’d been two months when he proposed. TWO! So my yes, if was if we could wait to announce our engagement. We weren’t strangers. We’d known each other from church, there’d been some flirting and me eyeing his shirtless body mowing the lawn at the church. But still….two months!

He said yes if, if we’d marry later that year.

 

We married eight months later. Our first child was born 13 months after that and our second 19 months after that. We found the breaks to slow this thing down to a manageable pace and settled ourselves in our small home. We planted roots in our church and with friends. We grew together in faith and relationships.

I learned what love is, or more what it isn’t.

Love isn’t always tender and sweet and romantic. It’s not scripted. It’s not cliche. Love isn’t easy.

Love is often duty and obligation. It’s getting children where they need to be and saying no more than yes some days. It’s putting nutritious food in front of them even if started it a box.

Love is saying I’m sorry and my fault and taking the blame at times it’s not yours to take. Love is reminding yourself of your faults every time you think of one of his.

Our love has taken us to a direction I once thought sounded old and tired: comfort. Maybe it is old and tired because I often feel that way. But this period of our comfortable love is more from knowing the other well. Knowing that he’s best early in the morning and has little left in the evening. Knowing when I’m muttering to myself or expecting him to answer. (This one still brings laughs) Knowing he’s a gentle soul and I need to be more gentle with my words.

Maybe it’s not so much a comfortable love than a knowing love. A love that knows we are there for each other. In the loud times and quiet. We know the moods, the seasons, the heart.

My scared yes was prompted by God. I know that. God provided for me what I didn’t know I needed. A man who could love me when I don’t much like myself. One who doesn’t turn away from my tears but pulls me closer and lets them fall on him. Before I knew, God knew. He always does.

Linking up with Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart

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I’ve scrapped two drafts on this word, fear. There is nothing better I can say than what God’s word says. Besides, it’s Monday and you don’t need a long post to muddle through. Just this truth:

[ To Love, to Be Loved ] God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. 1 John 4:18 the Message

no room for fear

 

P.S. I just ran across this article on A Deeper Story that sums up our human fears in words that have me whispering a quiet yes, over and over.

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“But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning. They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!” Psalm 18:16-19 the Message

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I wonder if that is the surprising thing to them? To the men who come into our Center, come dragging in their defeat, their hopelessness, their regrets and pride. I wonder if they know they can be loved.

I remember, in grade school, telling mama a boy was picking on me, annoying me and she said that means he likes you. Of course it does. Someone pulls your hair, calls you four-eyes likes you. Why didn’t I figure that?

It’s a mess that starts way back then when we don’t know what to do with our feelings and love gets all messed up.

It’s the way it was in my family, soft and gentle words not shared much, not speaking out loud of love and we all look for love and will take it anyway we can find it even when it isn’t really love.

So here they are, standing in that unknown place, still not free of the effects of whatever they took to numb that pain or make them feel something, anything, but not anything real.

And we tell them they are loved. We share from the scriptures we count as sacred and true and we believe these words but it has to be more than words. Love has to come another way and we have to wait. Wait for them to believe it for they must believe in love before they can accept love.

Oh, it’s a mess. We are a mess. And in this mess, God reached all the way from sky to sea, he pulled us out of the void in which we drowning. He stood us up. That moment of clarity we pray and wait for. We wait and wait because He is teaching us in our waiting. In our waiting He is there loving and waiting too. Waiting for us to believe in love, to recognize real love and to accept that we are lovable.

Surprise me by love today, God. By your love that is pure and unfailing. Sweep me away with your grace that makes me loved.

faith hope

She didn’t say the words to me. The words that made his heart pound wildly in his chest. The words that sucked his very breath right out and silenced his words, his balance gone. And he sat there thinking, wondering if they even read the same bible. This woman who stood before the congregation many Sundays, smiling sweet and saying kind words of welcome and repeating words from this book that he now thinks she reads in a different language, not his, not the language of love, of grace.

Listen to my prayer, O God.
Do not ignore my cry for help! My heart pounds in my chest.
The terror of death assaults me.
5 Fear and trembling overwhelm me,
and I can’t stop shaking.
6 Oh, that I had wings like a dove;
then I would fly away and rest!
7 I would fly far away
to the quiet of the wilderness. Interlude
8 How quickly I would escape—
far from this wild storm of hatred. (Psalm 55)

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The words were shot like those bullets they say tear the flesh and go clean through. Words can do that. My words can do that. I wondered if I’d been there would my words have fired back?

It is not an enemy who taunts me—
I could bear that.
It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—
I could have hidden from them.
13 Instead, it is you—my equal,

Maybe saddest is she doesn’t know the pain she caused. Ignorance is like that. She told him she didn’t want his fellow addicts and alcoholics involved in her church that has become his church. She didn’t want their bad influence around the children. There were other things said, things worse that I will not give to print. And there he sat, taking each shot a direct hit to his heart. The heart that just pounded louder.

I listen to him and become incensed, incredulous this would or could happen. Today. From our own family, God’s family, we are his, right? All of us created by God. Not all follow Him but that’s the point, right?

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In concert with Phil Laeger

He and I talk about Jesus and the people he chose to be with, to go into their house for dinner. The questionable and unclean. That Man of Peace inciting the religious leaders of His day but we are not trying to incite so we shake our heads in sadness.

I think that could have been me at one time. Eyes quickly darting away from those men. I didn’t know I could love them but I’ve always known I should.

But I will call on God,
    and the Lord will rescue me.
17 Morning, noon, and night
    I cry out in my distress,
    and the Lord hears my voice.
18 He ransoms me and keeps me safe
    from the battle waged against me,
    though many still oppose me.
19 God, who has ruled forever,
    will hear me and humble them. Interlude
For my enemies refuse to change their ways;
    they do not fear God.

20 As for my companion, he betrayed his friends;
    he broke his promises.
21 His words are as smooth as butter,
    but in his heart is war.
His words are as soothing as lotion,
    but underneath are daggers!

22 Give your burdens to the Lord,
    and he will take care of you.
    He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. (Psalm 55 NLT)

faith recovery Salvation Army

I played in the school band. It wasn’t so much by my choice as it was my father’s choice. He was very musical, able to pick out most hymn songs on the piano, not with great skill, but to get by if needed. His real instrument was the trombone. He played in school and later in select bands in The Salvation Army. He loved the brass music and played it on the stereo in our home so me playing an instrument was more of a given than a choice.

I liked music and enjoyed knowing how to read the notes and musical terms. Because our church was a brass band kind of church I learned to play an instrument, a cornet, few recognized for what it was (it’s NOT a trumpet ;))  and even fewer girls played it in school bands. Girls played woodwinds and the boys played percussion and brass but there I was, stuck in the middle of rude, adolescent boys unsure of what to make of this girl playing a shorter version of their instrument.

Other than remembering all that part of my school musical experience, I remember preparing for competition and our bandmaster telling us start strong and finish strong, the judges won’t remember the middle.

That statement transcends music. Finish strong. That’s what people remember. That will be our legacy.

I don’t remember how 2013 began other than it was quiet as it was just the two of us home. But we finished strong. We finished with a wedding on New Year’s Eve with the Hudson clan, small as we are in number, gathered to celebrate and we finished strong.

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family christmas
Hudson cousins with spouses and children
parents of those cousins (we are now the senior generation!)
parents of those cousins (we are now the senior generation!)

Henry performed the ceremony for our nephew with our granddaughter as the flower girl. All five cousins finally together and we celebrated the new life of a husband and wife and it was good.

We have celebrated too many passings over the past few years but the last day of 2013 celebrated the birth of a beginning.

We are a family that loves strong, loving in spite of because that’s what love does.

These words from the “love chapter” were shared at the wedding reminding us what real love does:

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” 1 Corinthians 13:4, 5

And we have messed up every one of those. There have been more times where we haven’t been patient or kind and we have demanded our own way and definitely been irritable and kept records of wrongs. Yes, yes, we have, and will again. But we have also done what verse 7 says: “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

That is our family, trying our best to finish strong, not giving up, not losing faith, holding on to hope and helping each other get through the hard times and we have them.

Am I being biased? Am I looking at this motley group with rose-colored glasses? If you think that, you don’t know me. Me the mom who manages to make stupid jokes that end up being hurtful to a family member. We’re a mess, this family of mine. I protect the privacy of others not from denial but from respect. We have this faith built on something, on Someone, stronger than all of us combined. God is our hope. Jesus our salvation and redeemer. His Spirit our help and endurance. We finish strong because God is our author and finisher.

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They tell you these days won’t last. People who’ve lived life and have been where you are but you don’t listen. These days are unending and some days you just want them to move, faster. Diaper and teething days and the lack of sleep days, these days seem to last far too long.

The days of youth and life and living full, these days will last. Won’t they?

And you blink a few times and find they’ve gone too. Youth and what the world says is beauty and value have gone in time but you keep thinking this, this time, will last.

Your nest is empty now and these days seem like they are lasting too long but you will blink again.

When I search for things that last, I find few. The banana’s and bread will spoil in a few days. Size 4 no longer hangs in my closet. The granddaughter has started kindergarten and the memory of my dearest friend, my mama, has failed.

Love is first and it is last. It is lasting.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker at Five Minute Friday, click here to read more.

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“Brokeness breaks us from our need to be right and breaks us open to our need to extend the grace we have been given.” Ann Voskamp

It had been a night of sharing. Nearly one hundred of us gathered in the dining room, our new meeting room as the renovations move throughout the Center. Men who seldom share in the large group stood, took microphone in hand and some shared hard things. It was good, all of it good. Men in their first few months finally getting some clarity and men who’ve completed the program (again) speaking from their experience and fears and standing strong in spite of their fear.

As the night came to a close Eric stood, the one who sings but doesn’t share a lot, didn’t use song this time to remind us it wasn’t addiction that was the common denominator in the room but it was grace. Yes, grace is what makes us the same.

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Grace makes sinners saints and saints with open arms to all.

Grace doesn’t hide our scrapes, chips, and broken bits but allows those parts we thought weak to become strong in God, in his grace.

Grace is that thing given that is never deserved. It is loving because he loves.

Grace is living a messy life because lives that are lived in truth get messy.

Grace doesn’t draw lines around this denomination or hold signs telling you your sin or decide who’s in and who’s out or what’s fair because grace isn’t fair.

It seems grace always comes when we are at our lowest, our ugliest, our most broken, in our deepest pain. When we can hush our tears just a bit we can hear grace calling and it is saying, you are loved. Not as the world loves, not as man loves but as God loves with love that has no conditions and no limits. It is beyond reason and understanding but it is.

Mike Yaconelli, speaking of Jesus, wrote in his book Messy Spirituality:

He prefers the lost ones over the found ones, the losers over the sinners, the broken instead of the whole, the messy instead of the unmessy, the crippled instead of the non-crippled.”

“…all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death…” Colossians 1:18-20, the Message

Because of Jesus. Always. And His grace.

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We were in church Sunday, not the service we lead but another. The music team was leading songs and this one I’d not heard but immediately couldn’t sing the words. Not from my heart.

“It’s so easy to love  you, It’s so easy to love you, It’s so easy to love you”

Yes, we were singing to God, yes to the God who I know as love but He is love, not me. Not always and there have been times and will be times it is not easy to love Him.

It’s not the song writer, whoever that may be. Bless them if they’ve come to that point in their life where it is easy but I have squirmed and fought and withheld my love. Asked “why, God?” and I’m not sure it’s easy to love when I’m asking why. Why did he choose that way to live? Why did she marry him? Why are we moving again? Why am I so stubborn? Why can’t I just love?

An employee is especially warm and friendly and free with hugs and she says “I love you” and I don’t respond as I don’t know her. . I return her hug but the words? No, won’t come out. I want to be done with the fake stuff and it would be fake. She’s a nice person and as I’ve come to know her she is genuine and this is who she is

It’s me again. Taking words too serious perhaps, especially a word like love that we throw around about all kinds of things. I love this picture, I love that shirt, I love your purse. So why isn’t “I love you” easy to say?

We sing another song, “There is no God like Jehovah” and I believe that. Believe there is none greater. I believe he is my all in all and he knows my name and of course, how great is our God? Yes, yes! But Lord, it is not always easy to love you.

Forgive my wandering heart as I withhold from you what you so freely give. When you love me in spite of me, of my doubt, my pride, my impatience, my hurt and yes, my shame. Unlock that dam where the love gets caught and stuck in the mire of self-pity and resentment and let me come to you with love outpouring.

I’m a saint and a sinner

I’m a lover and a fighter

I’m a true believer, with great desire

I’m a preacher of grace, prophet of love, teacher of truth

I’ve fallen down so many times

But here I stand in front of you

Take me as I am

But please don’t leave me that way

‘Cause I know that you can make me better than I am today 

(This is Who I Am, Third Day)

 

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I have this necklace with a tiny charm hanging from it that says “Love has found me”.

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God has found me. His love found this empty heart and I need not wander anymore.

They are words stamped into metal that hang around my neck. Or inside a drawer with other strands, some with words, some not. They are words with meaning to me if to no one else.

I don’t need this necklace to remind me God loves me. I don’t need this visual statement though I love words and put too much meaning in some while letting other words fall empty.

I’m thinking more about this little phrase and why I give it such meaning and how do I know that God loves me? How do I show He loves me or that I love him back?

“For God so loved Debby that he gave…..” (my paraphrase of John 3:16)

“I have loved you, Debby, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”

(my paraphrase Jeremiah 31:3)

That’s the burden for me. Words have power. These words do. They demand a response. Love has found me. Does it stop there?

“Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another,

just as you heard from the beginning.” 2 John 1:6 NLT

His love is more than an adornment around my neck but I would rather it be just that. Something I can hold between my fingers, touch the letters and let it dangle, hoping the words alone will be the love I’m called to share. But they are not. The words become dead if they only dangle from chain no matter how pretty they are and too often this charm is the only love I carry.

I am still trying to learn real love. I know the kind of love that is scared of life. Of not getting back. Of not being accepted. The fragile love that is easily disappointed when I don’t get my way. This is the love that shows most often. It would be easy to engrave this on a very tiny charm because it is spelled with two letters: ME

I am unworthy of the Love who has found me, the Love he shows me. And this alone scares me because it is a love bigger than I can understand, so I quit. Quit trying to understand so I can start trying to love. Just love. Risk and all.

 

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