Archives for February 2014

Vignettes of Love, Part 4 of 4—YOU Are Love, Post #17

Thank you for peaking with me this month into the lives of three loving, Godly couples and families. Today’s last “love vignette” glimpse is all about you.

You are loved and are made to love. No matter if you are married or single, you are loved because “God is love.” (1 John 4:16b NIV 1984). Jesus and His Love are really the cornerstone of Christianity.

Some people think Christians are conservative rule followers. It’s not like that at all. Love is the divine glue that binds us together, giving us the freedom and deep desire to be more, to serve and love others, to do our best.

You know what Jesus said were the two most important laws to follow?

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.“            (Matthew 22: 37-40 NIV 1984).

Isn’t it wonderful and such a relief to know that the two most important “rules” Jesus wants us to follow are to love Him wholeheartedly and love others. By the way, our “neighbor” is everyone.

My pastor told a story recently to illustrate the point. A Christian pastor was on an airplane trip and happened to sit beside a Muslim leader. The Muslim leader began talking with the pastor and a discussion began on the different points of their perspective faiths. People around them started listening and even stood up to watch them and hear them more clearly.

The debate became so heated, the Christian pastor paused, took a deep breath and looked the Muslim leader directly in the eye. He said, “I will convert to Islam if you can tell me you love me more than I love you right now.” The Muslim leader was silent.  They shook hands. Debate over.

Many of you may be familiar with the well-known “Love Chapter” in 1 Corinthians 13, often read at weddings. Let’s look at this passage carefully, differently and challenge ourselves.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV 1984).

Now for the challenge. In this passage, replace your own name with the word “Love” and read it aloud. Whew. It’s a tall order. I sure do fall short of living this.

For Valentine’s Day this year I gave my precious Mom a card. Inside I  wrote her name in this passage. For those who know my beloved Mom Maxine Jordan, she is June Cleaver and Jesus all wrapped up in one beautiful package. She lives this. She is love.

“Maxine is patient, Maxine is kind. She does not envy, she does not boast, she is not proud. Maxine is not rude, she is not self-seeking, she is not easily angered, she keeps no record of wrongs. Maxine does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Maxine always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Maxine never fails.”

Dear one, you are loved and you are love.  Let’s live it out loud. Let’s live love.

 Reflect:

–How will you love more with your heart, starting today?

–Do you love the Lord? If so, do you love Him with your head or your heart?  Are you ready to love Him more deeply?

Renew:

–“May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You.” (Psalm 33:22 NIV 1984).

–“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God…And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him… We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4: 7, 16, 17, 19 NIV 1984).

Recharge:

–Which people or strangers will you demonstrate love to this week?

–Open you Bible and read some daily from it. Feel the Love pouring forth on you.

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Vignettes of Love–Part 3: Parent Judy, Child Tim & Cerebral Palsy, Post #16

The saying goes that we can pick our friends but we can’t pick our families. I am so thankful my family was picked for me. I have some precious jewels as family members. My first cousin Judy and her son Tim are examples of good people, good friends, good family members, and they have taught the world how to demonstrate love beautifully.

Tim was born with cerebral palsy in 1963. Tim’s doctors told the family he wouldn’t be able to walk. Judy’s parents, Tim’s grandparents, lived down the street from me growing up. They built a “walkway” with little handrails for Tim to prove the doctors and everyone wrong. With much prayer and perseverance, at three years old, Tim walked.  No is not an option with the Lord and perseverance as your rear guard.

Over the years, it has been a joy to watch Judy, her husband and family love on Tim and encourage him. I watched Tim graduate from high school in 1983. One of Tim’s most proud accomplishments was receiving his degrees from Cape Fear Community College, a degree in Business Administration (1999) and Accounting (2001).  We celebrated Tim’s 40th birthday in 2003 and 50th in 2013.

Like many in our family, Tim has such a servant heart and strong work ethic; he works at Easter Seals. Tim is brilliant. Although his speech is slurred, when you look into his big hazel eyes, you can understand him perfectly.

In December 2006, Tim had a stroke leaving him paralyzed except his left hand. His caregiver, Scott, taught him how to bowl using a ramp to assist him. Tim competed for two years in the NC State Olympics Bowling Tournament. In 2012, he received a first place medal and in 2013, a third place medal.

It’s touching to watch how much the lavishing love of family and friends can bolster a soul, bolster a whole life, like Tim’s. They dance (Judy and her husband dance like professionals), laugh, pray together, eat supper together, go to church together, serve others together.

One detail I left out is that Tim’s mother Judy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and continues to fight her stage four breast cancer while taking care of Tim and her family, her friends, her neighbors. Judy said, “It breaks my heart to watch my child struggle with his special needs but nothing like the pain God felt when His only son was nailed to that cross.”

Through her doctor’s visits and chemo treatments, Judy’s effervescent, positive, Godly perspective still encourages Tim, her family and friends–all of us.

Another inspiring Godly parent and child relationship is that of Dick and his son Richard Hoyt. Although I have never had the pleasure of meeting them, their story resonates in my heart. Richard was born with severe cerebral palsy. He and his Dad Dick enjoy triathlons. Dick carries Richard all the way, pulling him in the ocean as they swim, pushing him as they run, and carrying him on his bicycle for the cycling portion of the race.

Isn’t that a perfect image of how our Heavenly Father, our Abba—which means “Daddy”—carries us?

Just like God chose Judy, Tim and me to be part of the same family, and Dick and Richard Hoyt, God chooses us as part of His family. The love shared between Judy and Tim, Dick and Richard, is a touching example of the love God shares for us as His imperfect children. You are chosen. Feel the love.

“Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”   –Mark 9:7

Enjoy this inspiring video link of Dick and Richard Hoyt’s persevering journeys together.

Father and Son Persevere in Triathlon

Reflect:

–What can you learn from the loving relationship of Judy and Tim, Dick and Richard Hoyt? Please comment below.

–How can you love differently based on this?

Renew:

–“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”  –Isaiah 46:4

–“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.” –John 15:16

Recharge:

–Seek out one family member, friend or neighbor to lavish love on this week and beyond.

–Open your Bible and feel your Abba, Heavenly Daddy, loving on you, speaking to you.

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Vignettes of Love–Part 2: Dawn,Chris,Carson and Zackary, Post #15

What do you do when life throws you a curve ball? Dawn and Chris know how to handle curve balls. They have always been such a precious couple in my life. They met when they were 19 years old at college and were inseparable. We as Dawn’s best college friends knew they would marry.  They married right after college, in 1995.  They epitomize–back then and today– a Christ-centered marriage.

For almost 20 years, their whole marriage, Chris has awakened daily at 6am to have his quiet time and Bible reading, and eats breakfast with his family, then he leaves for work.  They pray together, laugh together, work hard together, and have fun together as a family. Life often seems so perfect in the calm before the curve ball.

Their curve ball came in 2003, when Dawn was 30 years old. While enjoying their two-year-old son Carson and pregnant with their second child,  Dawn was diagnosed with colon cancer… Just typing those words brings tears to my eyes, recalling the shock. How could someone our age have colon cancer, especially Dawn who was pregnant?

A prayerful decision was made to operate. When the growing baby in her womb was five months along, anointed doctors made an incision from her breasts down to her pelvis. The nurses held that baby outside of her body while 13 cancerous inches of her colon was removed, then gently placed the baby miraculously back into her body. Miracles never cease.

The surgery was not the worst of the battle. Her incision down the front of her body had a difficult time healing because, as the baby grew inside of her, her skin and stitches stretched tautly. Dawn could hardly stand up straight because it hurt too much to stretch her healing incision. Not only could she not stand up straight, she also was not supposed to pick up her beautiful two-year-old son Carson.

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” echoed in my heart from A Tale of Two Cities.

How did we respond as Dawn’s friends? What did we do? We prayed and rallied around her. We all came to Charlotte, took Dawn out for a spa day with a manicure/pedicure, then rented a hotel suite to have a slumber party. She was real in telling us all the details. We were real to listen. To cry with her. To laugh with her (although it hurt to laugh, she loves to laugh). To hug her. To hear her. To let her know we love her and value her. 

Dawn, Chris, and Carson came to Charleston to visit and stay with me two months later. By this time she was seven months pregnant. I remember us going to Fort Sumter and Dawn trying to push Carson in his baby stroller, and she couldn’t stand up straight. We heard the ferry boat whistle indicating that we needed to get on the boat. Dawn ran like “ET” with baby stroller while Chris ran ahead with our tickets. We laughed so hard. We had so much fun. Dawn laughed through her pain. Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.

Dawn delivered baby Zackary on Mother’s Day 2004, the miracle boy. We say he was “born again” on the day he was birthed. Dawn began chemo two weeks after he was born and couldn’t breast feed.  Both Zackary and big brother Carson have hearts of gold. They are good boys, good students, are good role models. I love them as I would my own children.

Dawn and Chris  go on date nights often, and go on “Celebration of Life” cruises each year on the anniversary of her cancer surgery.  They savor every moment. Dawn and Chris are such an inspiration, and their marriage is one of dying to self and living for God, each other, their two sons and others–even when life throws you curve balls.

Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club” featured Dawn and Chris’s story in December 2012. Enjoy their poignant feature video clip now by clicking on the link below.

 The 700 Club–Baby Born Again, featuring Dawn, Chris and Zackary

Reflect:

–Why does it seem sometimes that bad things happen to us? To draw us closer to God?

–Please comment below.

Renew with One of Dawn’s favorite verses:

–“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” –Joshua 1:9

Recharge:

–What can you learn from Dawn, Chris, Carson and Zackary?

Resource:

— http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/amazing/Carrs121206.aspx

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