Loving Others Radically

What does that look like?  Loving others radically.  It sounds a little overwhelming and intimidating if I’m honest.   But I want to live that way.   Last week our Bible Study challenged my small group college girls to go out and love others radically.  Last night they came back with some great and inspirational stories.

One of the girls just started talking to a guy in her dorm that was always alone.  She said he seemed a little different and was never really talking to anyone else.  He plays the piano, so one day she just started talking to him and he invited her to come sit down and listen to him play the piano.  They are now friends, so the speak, and she says hi and makes a point to talk to him.  Who knows what that has done for him, but she made the effort and got uncomfortable to make someone feel loved.

Another one of the girls saw a woman crying  in a parking garage and just went and sat by her and asked the woman if she could pray for her.  The lady was an older woman, maybe in her 50’s and told this young lady she was surprised to hear that from someone so young.   They prayed together and then parted ways.  Only God knows how that affected that woman, but it might have been just what she needed.  Instead of just avoiding the lady and staying comfortable, this young lady did something, she didn’t say no to the Holy Spirit.  She loved someone radically right where she was.

We have to remember that God loves us radically and through that we need to be sharing that love with others. Every single day.  I know I need to work on this.  I need to search out those opportunities and just let the Holy Spirit lead me.  That is how we glorify God and further His Kingdom.

Things My Husband Has Taught Me

I love my husband. I guess that’s an obvious and pretty predictable statement, but I do.  I really do.  A lot.  

I love him for many reasons, but today I am so thankful for the things he has taught me and continues to teach  me every day.

He is so patient with me.  I mean, I can be a handful at times.  For many people who know me, that might come as a surprise (hopefully), but I promise if you asked him he would agree with me.  I just get a little “ramped up” about certain things at times.  (that’s a nice way to put it).  Here are some of the things he has taught me.

1.  Patience.   It’s funny because he doesn’t think he has much patience, but he does.  He has taught me (as early as this morning) to just be patient with certain things and to not let them get to me. 

2.  It’s Okay To Ask.  I continue to learn from him that it’s okay to ask people for help.  I’ve never been good at that.  I was taught to be independent and self-sufficient.  I take that to an extreme and tend to try to do everything myself.  Well, you can imagine how that goes sometimes. 

3.  It’s No Big Deal.  He is always helping me realize that most things that I might think are a big deal, are indeed not.  Nothing is really worth getting stressed or uptight about.  That is such a good lesson for me.  I am pretty laid back most of the time, but when it comes to certain things that involve other people I tend to get a little “ramped up” as I stated before.  For instance if we are having people over I tend to get a little OCD and think everything has to be perfect.  He has taught me that its way more important to have people in our home and way less important if there is a little dirt on the floor when they do.  What a relief.

4.   Don’t Be Afraid.  He has encouraged me to step out of my “shell” and try things and to do things I would never have done otherwise.  He’s gotten a lot of push back  in the process. Sorry honey.  But I’m so thankful for it.  For example, I love to sing, but I had never done it in front of anyone before I met my husband.  I sang in front of him and he encouraged me to sing in front of others, so I did, and that led to singing in front of more people.  Wow, it was so much fun.  He pushes me, but I need that.  We all need that.

5.  Acceptance.    He has taught me that I have no reason to feel guilty or ashamed about my past.  He has been so accepting of me as is and encourages me constantly that God will use my past as my ministry to other women.  He accepts me for who I am today and for everything in my past that has brought me to this place.

Thank you honey for all that you have taught me so far and continue to teach me daily.  I’m so glad God brought you into my life.  He knew I was stubborn enough to need the love of a wonderful Christian man to get me out of my shell and to calm me down all at once.  You bring out the best in me, and for that, I am grateful.

Celebrating Christmas

Yesterday at church, one of our pastors spoke about lifting our eyes.  Lifting our eyes and not being concerned with ourselves, but being more concerned with those around us and what we can do to help them.  To love them.

I think especially during this time of year we can all get a  little too caught up in our list of “to-do”s and easily miss out on so many simple opportunities to help others, to serve, and to just love.  To spend quality time with our kids and talk about what this time of year is really all about.   Gathering friends together to help feed the homeless.  Baking cookies to bring to an elderly neighbor.  Giving money to those who need it more than we do. 

I’ve really been re-thinking how I view Christmas this year.  I want it to be so much less about buying and more about giving.  Giving of my time, my heart, my hands and my love.  I want it to be about sharing my life with others.  I want it to be about getting to know people better, reaching out more.  I want it to be more about my incredible Savior.  I want to celebrate His life through my actions.  I don’t want to make the malls and stores and bazillionaires more money while throwing away mine.  I want to pour into those who need my help, who need my encouragement, my care and my understanding.

God has been speaking loudly to me lately.  He is wanting me to get uncomfortable again.   He wants me to get out there and HELP people.  Casting out all fears and just washing some feet for a while.  

Isn’t that what Christmas should be about?  Shouldn’t we be celebrating the life we all should follow?  Imitating the perfect role model. 

I mean really, can you see Jesus at the mall buying gifts and fretting over what he should buy his neighbor or his boss?  No, he would be helping, serving, loving and teaching.  So simple and so much more important than anything we could ever buy.

When I was looking for a graphic to put at the top of this post, I came across this blog post from last year at this time.  I love it, so I wanted to share it. 

Letter from Jesus

Baggage Claim

“Baggage Claim” is the name of our current message series at church.  Our pastor, Mac, started the series off this past Sunday. 

What a great message for anyone.  We all have baggage.  He listed out the types of baggage:

1.  Hurts and wounds.  Those things that others have done or said to you that have hurt you.
2.  Bitterness – not engaging in forgiveness.
3.  Circumstances – these are things that are nobody’s fault including yours.
4.  Family – what our family looks like and how the relationships work within them.
5.  Failures – moral  or mistakes

Mac then went into a discussion of Joseph in Genesis 37-50.  He referred to Joseph as the “Biblical Baggage Holder”.  Jacob had a lot of things going for him in his life, and a lot of them fell into many of the categories above.  However, he did not let his baggage label him or rule him.  He actually allowed God to use his baggage for good.  If you are not familiar with the story, you should read Genesis 37-50.

The moral of the story is that no matter what our baggage is, we need to allow God to use it for good.  Don’t turn away from it necessarily, but definitely turn it over to God.   He can then use it to help others and to heal you. 

I have some baggage in my life that I am not necessarily proud of, but I’ve worked through it with God by my side, and I’ve given it over to Him.  He has begun to use it for good and I’m amazed by that.  Something that can seem so heavy as you carry it around day-to-day can be lifted to God, in turn, lightening your load and helping others.   God can do amazing things with your baggage.

He also allowed you to go through those trials and mistakes for a reason.  So that he could use you in a certain way.  Your baggage is part of you and it has made you who you are, and remember God loves you just as you are……baggage and all!

Ezer Kenegdo

Some of you may already know what the phrase, “ezer kenegdo” means.  Some of you may not.  Today I just wanted to spend a little time talking about it because it is something I think about and strive for on a daily basis.

Ezer kenegdo is a Hebrew phrase that has been translated to mean “helper” or “help meet” or “partner”.   “Ezer” (help)  is actually a very strong word used in the Bible, it is used for someone who saves or protects another, the one that needs help.  “Kenegdo” (meet)  means facing or corresponding to.  She will provide the help he needs and is neither superior nor inferior to him, she is equal yet different.   The original Hebrew verse was translated this way in Genesis 2:18   “The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  (NIV)

Now some people (some women) at first glance may take offense to this translation.  They may think it sounds as if we are  just little helpers that are like assistants to our husbands.  However, as you can see from the explanation above it is much more than that.   Personally I am my husband’s assistant and I love that role.  I love making his life easier, more manageable and more stress-free.  I definitely see that as part of my job, but I know that God intends there to be so much more….

The true Hebrew meaning of “ezer”  is actually a combination of two words, strength and power.  God is not referring to a small task or some remedial little helping job where we make sure he gets dressed in the morning and gets off to work. Not at all. Our role as “helpers” is a very important role.  We are called to be right by his side helping him with life,  with decisions, with struggles, and celebrating blessings. We are to “save and protect” him.  That reminds me of a line in the movie “Pretty Woman”….at the end when Richard Gere has climbed up the fire escape stairs to “rescue” Julia Roberts and he asks her what happens now (now that her knight in shining armor has saved her) and she says…”she saves him right back” (because he was scared of heights and climbing those stairs).  If you haven’t seen that movie then this analogy will be lost…but to me it is a good illustration for this dynamic.  Our husbands are there to protect and provide for us, but we are there to protect and provide for them as well…just in different ways.

God gave our men a big role with a lot of responsiblity.  We are here to help put them in a position to succeed at what God has planned for their lives.   We are to be supportive, loving, respectful and nurturing.  They take care of us and we take care of them.  This includes helping them with daily tasks,  with long-term goals, with their spiritual walk, with their struggles and their doubts and anything else in between.

That is how it supposed to work.   A husband and wife both have big  jobs, and I promise most men would not want to trade jobs with a woman.   However, men appreciate a wife who is always there to support, respect, love and help them.