Tag Archives: love

To Love A (Wo)Man

It’s a humbling experience to return to a blog after nearly a month and see that the stats are still quite high. I almost cannot fathom that so many days have passed in silence, here, and yet, people still visit and read. In many ways, I’m still speechless, because of what has happened to me while I’ve been away, because of what is still happening to me on my journey.

I’ve taken a break from most of my regular activities. I stopped holding meetings at church. I didn’t attend my life group last time around. I skipped church Council meetings to stay home with my children. I haven’t written much of anything in the last four weeks. I haven’t read much in the last month. I haven’t commented, haven’t logged into Twitter, haven’t passed along many blog posts. I’ve been on a break.

And you know what I found in the silence? in the stillness? in my swing?

I found love.

There’s no big announcement there. I’m not getting married or anything. I’m talking about the love of friends and family and kids and regular readers.

I’ve found that love isn’t some grand romantic gesture but a card in the mail on the day you want to give up.

Love is the friend who humors you with another round of online Scrabble at 2 am, because you need to keep talking to someone.

Love makes you dinner and draws you pictures in crayon (Thanks, Sara!)

Love wakes up early, drags a stool into the kitchen, and pours you a cup of chocolate milk (Thanks, Mia!)

Love gives you big squeezy hugs until you think your head will pop off (Thanks, Wendy!)

Love chases you around the house, and when you’re caught, demands to be tickled (Thanks, Matt!)

Love is the honest assessment of mistakes you’ve made and the just-as-honest assurance that you can meet your goals and achieve yours dreams.

Love brings sandwiches to the homeless, groceries to the elderly, goes door-to-door and makes quilts for people affected by disaster and poverty.

Love shows up to teach students who are eager and those who can’t wait to leave.

Love plans ahead and love is spontaneous.

Love is green in the mail when you are staring at an empty bank account and your kids are in need of school supplies.

I’ve been blessed to have the best friends and family in the world, who know just how to love a (wo)man. I’ve been blessed to have each of those forms of love visit me in the past month, like the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, to show me a better way.

I just want to say Thank You. Thank you for reading. Thank you for sticking with me. Thank you for Tweeting and FB messaging. Thank you for cards and calls and prayers and cares and thank you for the love.

How has someone loved you recently?

 

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The too late

Sometimes, I don’t check my email all day. I’ve got into a bad habit of just checking in late at night and answering only one or two essential email messages, groaning that it’s too late to do too much,  then simply going to bed. In those messages I skip, is a daily deal from Living Social. On those, you have to buy that day or lose out.

I’ve never bought a Living Social deal, even though I’ve been getting their emails over a year. I’m always too late, or they cost too much or I wouldn’t use it. Mostly, I’m too late. I never commit before the day expires.

There are two ways I could go with this post now: I could preach a mini sermon on the 2nd coming of Christ, or, I could do what I’m going to do, and encourage you to live your life in the now, not the too late.

Don’t lose sight of the big deal.

Carpe diem.

What are you waiting for… to show love to others? Love is not cheap, it’s going to cost you. Perhaps that’s why you hesitate. Love will almost certainly cost you your pride, your time. You have to lose your cowardice and go after it, instead of watch it languishing in your inbox. Love won’t speak itself.

Tell your family you love them. Call your sister. Email your cousin. Send your mother flowers before mid-May. Take your dad out to the green and play golf. Read a book to your children. Tell them before the too late, before you run out of days here, or before they do.

Show your friends your love. Invite them over and be hospitable. Play games. Sit and talk. Treat them to a delicious dessert and then tell them that you know you’re all busy, but this time together is worth carving out a spot in your schedule.

Give love away to those who cannot repay. Take some clothes to the man who sits at the exit with a cardboard sign, before it’s too late to share with him. Volunteer at the shelter or soup kitchen. Life expectancy is alarmingly low for those families living on the street. Tomorrow might be the too late for any one of them.

Treat your significant other significantly. I’ve seen more than one marriage (including my own) destroyed because love is withheld or gone silent. By the time someone manages to eek out the words “I love you,” the relationship is darkened in the haze of the too late. Be bold, be honest, be pure, be prompt.

We have only a finite number of days. We have busy lives and insecurities and hesitations. I’m encouraging you today not to let the too late catch up with you.

Have you ever lost out on something wonderful because you waited too long?

Make a plan for showing love today. Right now! Write it down and follow through.

Perils of young love and other school plagues

Mia has a love/hate relationship with a boy in her class. She loves him, he, well… you get the idea. To protect the poor boy, shall we call him…. Tim? (try not saying that like the Monty Python Holy Grail character. Go on, try).

First, she talked about him non-stop.  Even three-year-old Wendy had taken to teasing in a sing-song voice about Mia’s boy-oy-friend. Then, she related stories of how mean Tim was to her. Finally, after I let her engage in some art therapy white board and dry-erase markers, she created a picture of his name, a green & pink striped heart, underscored by an angry black “X.” She interpreted her picture to mean that Tim broke her heart.

Tim has so invaded her psyche that the other night, she claimed she couldn’t sleep because she couldn’t stop thinking about him. Six years old, and already, insomnia strikes because of a male. I thought I would write her a letter.

Dear Mia:

This probably won’t be the last time a boy breaks your heart. It probably won’t be the last time that someone you thought was a friend didn’t love you in the way you love them, when your kindness is repaid with a cold shoulder and your soft heart melts against their icy one.

Let me tell you as your mom, as someone who has been brokenhearted, as someone who may have broken a heart and as someone who wants nothing more than for your heart to remain whole and pure and full… don’t stop loving because Tim in Kindergarten said he didn’t like your pigtail and didn’t want to play monsters and princess at recess.

If you guard your heart, you miss it. It is the butterfly in your stomach when the person you’ve had a crush on since you can remember, asks you to dance. It is the pads of fingers interlaced with yours on a first date. It is a timid kiss on the walk to your door. It is bringing you feel-better food when you’re sick. It is that one glance that makes the world stop.

The most dangerous thing about love is giving up on it too soon. Mia, there are many communicable diseases we fight in this life, cold, flu, strep, stomach bugs, and you have caught all of those at school at one time or another, but love is a malady you should aim to keep. Don’t fight this one, Mia Bee. Just because your heart’s been broken, don’t create love antibodies. There is love out there for you.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds – Psalm 147:3

——————————————

I’m telling you what I wish someone had told me when I had my first heartbreak – give your best gifts away (don’t take this the wrong way… some things you should KEEP, but we’ll have that talk later). I wish I had given love where I had the chance and received in when it was offered. Love: the real, live, hopeful, dizzying, giddy love that rushes to your head and kapow’s your heart like a Batman episode.

So, what I want you to take away from all this, my beauty, is that I’m going to keep praying for you to keep your heart open as it heals. I’m also going to pray that Tim never meets Wendy, because I think she has some retaliation in mind for the boy who hurt her “stiss-ter.”

Give it to me straight: what was your first heart-break?

Loving First Wins

Mia and I play a game.

I love you.

I love you more.

I love you most.

I love you mostest.

I love you bigger than the Earth.

I love you bigger than Outer Space.

I love you more than infinity.

I love you more than infinity squared.

I love you more than infinity cubed.

I haven’t extended the math lesson, there, to explain about how infinity can neither be squared, nor cubed. I haven’t extended the English lesson to cover the nonexistence of the word “mostest.”

Mia thinks that whoever says “I love you more than infinity cubed” wins the game, because it’s the biggest thing she can imagine. After multiple repetitions, she’s learned that in order to win this game, she has to say “I love you” first. (To her credit, she’s also learned that if I say “I love you” first, she just has to add in “most-est-est” and it all comes out right).

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16.

Really, in the “I love you” game, no one loses. Even if Mia gets to say “I love you more than infinity cubed,” I win, because I’m loved infinity to the third power, and with that much love, how could I lose?

What games do you play with your kids? How have you loved someone else first this week?

Love is done

My step-dad and I are two completely different creatures. I don’t know why that is, exactly, but it’s never been a secret that our perspectives couldn’t be more different. He’s quiet. I’m… not. He’s a picker (as in, will pick on you to be funny, not his nose). I’m… not. He’s conservative. I’m…. not.

This is Mia, but, she looks just like me....

I thought for a long time that he didn’t love me. That’s not a bad thing on him; it’s more a comment on my kiddie understanding of what love entailed. See, he’s not one to profess his love aloud. I’ve seen him sign cards to my mom with love, but I didn’t hear it from him growing up. I thought not hearing the words “I love you” meant he didn’t love me.

As it happens, I was wrong. He’s been my step-dad since I was a toddler, 15 months old. He married a lady with a baby and raised me like I was his own. That’s what love does.

 He made sure we had a safe place to live, food to eat, and when he was laid off from his job and my mom found work, he stayed home with me. He overcame his nausea to change diapers and sat for hours reading me stories. That’s what love does.

I can remember that after my bath, I would scramble into my nightgown and run into my parents’ room, so that he could spend the next 10 minutes carefully blowdrying my hair that reached down past my waist. That’s what love does.

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers – Malachi 4:6

 

When I got married, he agreed to drive us to the hotel in his 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook, a beauty of chrome and seafoam green. I got in the car, fluffy white dress rising around me. and for the first time that day, I think, I cried, not because the wedding was over, but because he had a song, playing on a loop. Not exactly a father-daughter song, but the sentiment, that I was a special gift to him, showed he loved me. That’s what love does.

Love is done. It is performed in multiple ways over the course of a lifetime. True love compels us to act our love. My step-dad loves me, and it shows in what he’s done. I love him, too.

*James Taylor on April 22… Think about it, Dad 😉

How do you show love to your children? How do you DO Love?

Love Styles – Worship Edition: Ludus

Some love styles are nearly impossible to view positively. I’m challenging myself to come up with as many pros as cons for this one, because Ludus is a love style that is based on game playing. It’s so difficult, in fact, most articles that discuss Ludic personalities don’t even mention that there might be the possibility for long-term affection. I think I’m up to that challenge, especially because I believe that no personality type or inclination is excluded from the ability to worship, but we might have to overcome the challenges associated with that personality.

Ludus = Game

Ludus comes to us from ancient Rome. Ludus has several meanings, which include play, games, sports or training. Ludus was a board game of sorts that was played with bones, something like chess. There was a strategy involved, and smart playing won the day. Other ludi include military strategy games, like Stratego. Man, I love Stratego. Someone should buy me that. Or Risk. I love Risk. So, that’s where Ludus gets it rep: games and game playing. That’s the bad part.

Cons:

* Ludus lovers (plural, ludi) think of love as a game. In worship, I believe that looks like goofing off. Ludi mess around and don’t take worship seriously. It’s not entering into the presence of God, it’s sucking helium out of the balloons and singing a solemn hymn. Ludi don’t typically put too much stock in their relationships, and that would extend to relationships with the divine, at worst.

* Ludic worshippers are seeking entertainment. They like the beginning of things, but once the relationship settles in for the long-haul, they are mentally preparing their escape. They get a high off juggling multiple tasks or relationships at once. Ludi stray… often, and usually feel no qualms about it. You can recognize the ludic worshipper because they are singing, checking Facebook, sending meaningful glances to their friends, giggling, messing around and already planning where to go to lunch during the one-hour worship time.

*As I said earlier, most psychologists who study personalities as regards love agree that ludi aren’t fit to commit. I am not nearly as pessimistic, because I want to focus on the positive aspects of ludus.

Pros:

* Training – in ancient Rome, ludus was the name for schools, both for elementary-aged children and gladiators. If we see worship as training, a preparation for heaven, then ludus can be a positive thing. Remember when I said that ludi love the beginnings of things? When ludus is viewed in the context of preparation, or a prelude, the emphasis shifts from one of game-playing to creating a strong foundation right off the bat. If your entrance hymn is weak, if the opening prayer is half-hearted, no one should be surprised when people are falling asleep mid-sermon. It’s a well-known communication principle that we are influenced by primacy — what comes first.

* In addition to being a prepatory school, ludus is creative. Ludi are always looking for the next big thing. They have their eye on entertainment and excitement. Try putting a ludus in charge of a new program at your church and see how far outside the box they can get. We’re planning on starting a committee at church to look at possible facility expansion, and while we want some pragmatic people on that committee, we’re also looking for those who aren’t going to be fettered by the way it’s always been done. We need a couple of dreamers, we need someone who’s looking ahead, we need ludic contribution.

*As with any of these love/worship styles, just because we default to or fall into a category doesn’t mean we can’t refocus that characteristic. I love that I heard a worship leader change the words to “Sweet Home, Alabama” into “Sweet Home, Greens Bayou” for the meet-and-greet portion of the service. Sure, it was jokey and silly, but it made people smile and got them out of the sharing-the-peace rut.

If you’re a ludic worshipper, how do you overcome your tendency to stop paying attention? What are other ways we see ludus at play in worship?

Love Styles – Worship Edition: Pragma

As I continue to work through the love/worship styles, I thought I would go for some contrast. Today, we’re going to examine the characteristics, the pros and cons of a Pragma worshipper. Eros was all about a sensual, engrossing worship encounter, but Pragma is time-honored and more detached. Pragma is intellectual and intentional and the relationship created therein must meet the needs of those involved.

Pragma is right on target

 Pragma gives us the word “pragmatic” and that connotes rationality, reasonable thought and usefulness. Usually, practical people are down to earth and traditional. Pragmata (Pragma lovers/worshippers, plural), tend to be planners. According to Lee, in his book, Colors of Love, Pragma lovers don’t stray as often, because they’ve already made the comparisons and weighed the costs and benefits. How does that translate to worship? What are the disadvantages and advantages to being a Pragma worshipper?

Cons:

*All gold-diggers are Pragma lovers, but not all Pragma lovers are gold-diggers. Pragma worship (and love) is concerned with getting the best deal. Pragma worshippers might, at worst, be looking for the country club experience, rather than the Jesus experience. You can identify them because they are scanning the crowds for the nearest Congressman or CEO, while everyone else is singing. If you choose worship based on the number of influential movers and shakers (in the financial sense, not Spiritual fervor) on the pew next to you, you…. might be a Pragma worshipper.

*Pragma worship would be reserved and detached, leaving depth of feeling and passion behind. Leave it up to a foul-mouthed, British transvestite to sum it up so well (warning, clicking on this link, you’ll see a man in make-up and he says one bad word): “There’s something weird, something phenomenally dreary about Christian singing…And the Church of England, well, all those sort of Christian religions, which is mainly Caucasian white people, with all the power and money – enough power and money to make Solomon blush, and they’re all singing, ( dirge-like ) “Oh, God, our hope in ages past, our hope for years…” They’re the only groups of people who could sing, “Hallelujah” without feeling like it’s a “Hallelujah!” thing. ( drearily ) “Hallelujah, hallelujah, joyfully we lark about.” It’s just not kicking, is it?God must be up there, going, “What on Earth is that?”

*If your worship leader sounds like Ben Stein on Xanax, he or she might fit the pragma worship schema. Worship that is entirely practical, entirely socially acceptable, entirely devoid of emotion might sound clinical and calculating, but there are advantages to Pragma and a way to do Pragma worship right.

Pros:

*Pragma worship is intellectual. Pragma lovers take an objective stance on love – they are looking for someone who will understand and meet their needs. Pragmata weigh the costs and benefits of the relationship BEFORE they enter in, and so, since they have processed the net outcome prior to giving their love/worship, they go in with their eyes wide open and they are less likely to leave. Pragma has the potential for long-term satisfaction.

*Pragma worshippers want to meet a common goal – they may not appear demonstrative in raising their hands or get choked up during a particularly heartfelt rendition of “How Great Thou Art,” but they are there to serve the body of Christ because they’ve made the commitment. Their worship comes from the work of their hands or investment of their time.

*To newer upstart denominations with their flashier bands and a hip, cultivated look on stage, Pragma worship looks bland and boring. To the liturgical churches with deep roots in the past and pride in the continuation of a long-line of apostolic credo, it looks like blessed tradition.  As one who has switched, only recently, from the former to the latter, I can say that a traditional worship going back thousands of years, makes me feel connected to my brothers and sisters in Christ every bit as much as mood lighting and synthesized notes.

In order to bring out the best in Pragma worship, they should focus on the best of what tradition has brought us: truly inspired hymns, quality study of the Scripture and having tested what else existed out there, and found it lacking.

Does Pragma sound more like you? Yesterday, SCL covered a dearth of church organists, only to find that hearty breed alive and well. Do we write off Pragma too quickly in today’s worship climate?