Love Enough

“Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” – Jesus


February. It is the time of year we hear the most talk about love. Flowers, roses and candy can be seen in every store. The main focus during this time tends to be set aside for showing those special individuals in our lives how much we love and appreciate them. But the root of love is so much greater than the words expressed during this one month.


Love is a verb. It is action. At times it even can appear cruel when we choose to love enough. Christ gave us the perfect example of love. He loved enough.


Enough to leave His Father. Enough to embrace an image ‘below’ His heavenly status. Enough to speak truth even when it hurt those who needed to hear it. Enough to not arrive BEFORE the needed healing but AFTER the death. Enough to challenge the misguided leaders. Enough to die. For me. He loved enough! He chose to allow His actions to give glory to His Father instead of being the popular prophet of the day.


Although I am to walk as He did, too often I fall short of this ‘enough love.’ As a parent, I watched what I my kids ate. I did my best to choose more healthy foods over sugary snacks. We limited the access of shows or movies in order to protect their young minds and guard their spirits. Meal times were priority. Family devotions and prayer were at breakfast and before bed. Why? We loved them enough to be the gardeners of their hearts as Christ taught us to be.


Our decisions were not always appreciated by our kids during those years. And at times our decisions could have been made with more wisdom. Yet each was made from a heart of love. We loved enough to be those parents that didn’t follow the norm.


Lately, God has been asking me if I have that same type of love for the world around me. Do I love those I come into contact with on a daily basis? Or do I tend to judge them because they don’t follow the same dress code I feel is appropriate? As a parent, I sought to understand the ‘why’ behind my child’s actions before choosing my own response. Because I loved them. Do I love this world enough to do the same for them? Do I love my Father enough to ask Him to show me the ‘why’ in someone’s life so I can be Jesus with skin on for that person?


Why is my neighbor always angry? Maybe from a past hurt and Jesus wants to bind the wound.


Why does the cashier frown and rudely snap each time I am checking out? Maybe because the night before she was abused and is full of anger. Jesus wants me to love enough to let her know she is special.


Love enough. I can’t say I am measuring up as I need to in this area. Lay down my life? My dreams? My hopes? My opinion of what life should look like? All for others. Love enough. As John 15:13 says, greater love lays it all down for others. That’s my goal for this year. Love enough.


May we choose enough love. Daily. May we stop our responses to others long enough to breathe, “Lord, show me your love for them.”


Love enough.

Lessons from a Train

It was a priceless moment. As I got on the floor to play with my three year old grandson, his 14 month old brother spotted us. It didn’t take long for that bundle of energy to land in my lap. As much as I attempted to prevent it, those small hands grabbed the wooden train Dash and I had just put together. One section was now on the floor in pieces.


Disappointment was written all over Dash’s face. As I moved Roman to one side, I saw the moment Dash’s hand went up. His little person wanted to retaliate for the wrecked train. Our eyes caught and I softly said, “That’s not the right way, Dash.”


Here was a moment. Do I scold the three year old wanting to act out his frustration or let it be a life lesson? Life lesson!! We talked about doing the right things when we get frustrated. I told him how there are times I get frustrated and I just have to let it out.


He got it! With all his pent up feelings, he passionately looked at me and said, “I DO, GRANDMA!!” Instead of actions, he used his words and let me know how frustrated he was. Retaliation gone.


Christ talked about this principle. Matthew 12:7 records His words, “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” In Hebrew, the words would translate, “I am more pleased with acts of benevolence and kindness than with a mere external compliance with the duties of religion.”Too often we judge each other’s actions. Instead of getting into someone’s world, hearing their heart and finding where the root of hurt and frustration started, we decide to let others know how wrong they were acting. Most of the time they just need a safe place to learn life lessons.


Why not discipline or fuss at him for his attitude? Because he is not at that level. He is a compliant 3 year old who is now dealing with a 14 month old sibling who is nonstop and determined. His brother needs constant attention to make sure he is not found climbing in an unsafe place or grabbing something that could break. Roman has a tendency to attempt to instigate his brother. Dash didn’t need me to scold him. He needed me to get to his level and teach a life lesson. He needed a safe place to let out his feelings without being told he was wrong for getting upset at his brother.


We, too, should learn those lessons before teaching them. Let’s start today! Let’s choose to ask questions and search for the reason they feel frustrated. Just be there!

Celebrate His Designs

I Iove art! Classical art is my preference. I love a good landscape or floral painting. When I look at more abstract or modern work, to me it feels as if the artist took too little time on the focus. I often do not see the purpose of such work. But my daughter loves it! Where it has no meaning to me, it usually speaks to her. So as she chooses the style she loves, I choose to applaud her and admire how she decorates. Which in truth looks great.


Often our lives and giftings are the same as art. Each person is uniquely created with a different mold. A different personality equipped with different gifts. Sometimes when we are mentoring others, we have to make a choice to applaud what we might not understand. Instead of trying to fit today’s generation into the mold of our generation or of what was given to us by the previous generation, we can ask the great Artist what mold He has chosen for them. And celebrate His choice.

It’s an issue that has been around since Cain was jealous of Able. Christ dealt with it when He looked at Peter and said, “What is it to you how I decide that John will die?” (my paraphrase) Paul had a different personality than Peter and ministered to a different group. John was opposite of both Peter and Paul. Yet each of them took part in building the early church.


Let’s choose today to not become frustrated that those under us like different songs or art or a dress style. Instead, let’s look deeper into what uniquely speaks to their heart and ask the heavenly Designer to help us applaud their growth in Him. Let’s keep adding brush strokes of encouragement to the Kingdom’s canvas and speak of His love to the world around us. The big picture is worth it!

Oil for the Season

Who doesn’t love the beauty of the mountains covered with majestic conifers?! When the mist is settling above the trees, it brings a sense of peace in its beauty. We see the Master’s handiwork in full display. But how do these green trees survive the harsh months of winter with almost no effect? It’s in the oil!

Conifer trees send oil throughout their branches in the winter to protect them from freezing. The colder the temperature, the better the oil works. The actual essential oil of the tree acts much the same as antifreeze does in our cars. For the trees, the oil is stored in the roots during warmer temps.

How like our spiritual lives! When the cold harsh trials of life are hitting us and we feel the stark deadness of a winter season, it is then that we can start to rise above the circumstances as we allow the oil of His Spirit to protect us from the death often found in the cold. Scripture is filled with references to the oil of the Spirit and its power. Kings were anointed to lead. Priests were anointed to serve. Christ was anointed to walk in the role as our Messiah. And the bridesmaids were instructed to store up the oil for that day when the Bridegroom would appear.

“For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of the Lord— for wheat and new wine and oilTheir souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more at all… For I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow. I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:11-12, 14

In the Vine Parable, Jesus stressed to His disciples the importance of abiding in Him. He said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser… Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:1, 4-5).

About six months prior to my husband and I being called to minister in Missouri, the Lord spoke to my him saying, “You and Rhonda need to spend more quality time with Me because you will need My strength for what you are about to walk into.”

This could very well be compared to the oil that is stored in the roots of the tree, which later would act as a preservative during the harsh winter season. That is what Jesus was conveying to His disciples before His departure. He told them to abide in Him and in His Word. By doing so, He would abide in them and supply all they needed to endure the trials they were about to experience.

It’s as simple as this: Spending time with Jesus produces the needed supply of oil – His Spirit – for each and every encounter we will face at home, in the church and in the world. What a blessing that He has promised an endless supply of fresh oil of His Spirit to help us in our time of need!

Winter's Beauty

In the midst of the joy of starting a new year, we recognize that this‘newness’ comes during the coldest season of the year. Winter. To many, winter appears to be a season of cold, bitterness and death. Most plants lay dormant during the winter months. No new life seeming to appear. Yet there is beauty hidden beneath the layers of cold earth.


The snow on top of mountains will eventually melt into streams and rivers giving life to others below them in many directions. Both plants and animals in dormancy are taking a rest from their labors. In that, there is a beauty in the midst of the harsh conditions of the winter season.

Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of a harsh winter season in our spiritual walk. Yet during those times our heavenly Gardener is giving us rest as well as preparing us for that burst of new life that is to come with Spring. Afterall, there has to be an ending of one season before the next can begin. We cannot connect to a future season without a shift into that season. But just like the winter snows, He promises that the fruit of our harsh season will be worth weathering the storm. We just need to seek the hidden beauty of the situation trusting that He has a purpose for the season. What may seem as cold snow or ice in our lives today will be water of refreshing that will flow to others in the next season. Perhaps even for years to come.

I love His promise in Isaiah 55:10-11 “For just as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, yielding seed for the sower and bread for eating, so will my message be that goes out of my mouth it won’t return to me empty. Instead, it will accomplish what I desire, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (ISV)

My prayer for you today is that the Master Gardener will show you the beauty in each situation you are facing. Let’s start this new year preparing for that harvest that is even now preparing to burst forth with new life!

(Copied from my post on lasisterhood.com)

Charting a Path

2020. A new year has begun. With it comes the tradition of looking back at the previous year and setting resolutions for the upcoming year. Too often when we look back, we find ourselves discouraged or disappointed because of targets we set and missed. But what if we chose to see the ones where we hit the mark? Or even those where we found ourselves closer to the mark than ever before.

In the movie Moana, the character Maui is teaching Moana how to sail. His first instructions came as an explanation of the sea sailing art, “It’s called wayfinding, princess. It’s not just sails and knots, it’s seeing where you’re going in your mind. Knowing where you are by knowing where you’ve been.”

Knowing where you’ve been. It’s a concept not born by the creators of a kids animated movie. Instead it is one that started with the Creator Himself. He had Moses repeat over and over to Israel what God had delivered them out of. Throughout the Old Testament, people and leaders continue to remind the nation of their previous state of slavery and God’s deliverance. Why? To help them focus on where they should be going. To remind them that they were in slavery because of their actions and they were delivered out of slavery in order to fulfill their purpose. Paul also made a similar statement in the New Testament.

“Remember your desperate situation before God saved you so that you will rejoice in what Christ did for you on the cross.” Eph 2:12 (paraphrased)

Often we hear the term, “three steps forward; two steps back.” When said, the statement seems to bring defeat. But what if we chose to focus on the truth that one step was still gained? That means we are one step closer to the mark than before we took the three. We can rejoice in that!

As we take time to reflect on 2019 and set goals for 2020, let’s choose to see the progress we DID make and start fresh being encouraged that He who started that journey with us will continue to assist us in charting our path forward!

Look to the Manger

“…You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger…” Luke 2:12

This time of year brings to mind so many memories! Events such as family gatherings, class parties, school and church plays and cantatas, each brings a rush of fond memories. In fact, many stanzas that resonate often in my mind are songs that were part of a church choir cantata or one of the many Christmas productions I have directed throughout the years. But there is one that stands out most in my mind.

Let’s revisit the scene — The play was a broadway style musical. Time frame was just after World War II when so many people still had little money in the bank. Among the ’40’s musical pieces, we see a cast doing their final shopping rush on Christmas Eve. And one of the main characters, the local shop owner, has lost hope in the true meaning of Christmas. But he ends up at the live nativity outside his store and comes face-to-face with his own life. The song sung during his heart change is one that to this day reverberates in my own heart. “Start at the Manger”. This song paints a beautiful picture of the scarlet thread of redemption from the manger to the cross.

“Start at the manger on a cold winter night look for the star in the sky then follow its light

It leads to a Savior for a world that is lost. Start at the manger and go to the cross.

Start at the manger at a Child in the hay, the gift of our Father in heav’n, the price He would pay to save all His children no matter the cost.

Start at the manger and go to the cross.

Imagine that you own the wealth of the world, all of its silver and gold. What good will it do when tomorrow arrives and your heart is empty and cold?

Start at the manger, where redemption began where Jesus stepped down from His throne to die as a man.

All of our riches, we will count them as loss if we start at the manger then go to the cross.

To this day, The Christmas Post is still one of my favorite productions to have been a part of. Not only was it fun with its newsies, ’40’s choreography and costumes, beach balls flying throughout the sanctuary during the shopping rush, and all kinds of fun, but it had an ending that pointed back to the ‘why’ we celebrate Christmas. It was about the Child that would lead us to the cross of salvation.

This Christmas, let’s remember that it is not about trees or lights, presents or food. It’s all about a manger, a Child, a Father and a cross. That night was just the beginning of a love shone to a needy world. A loved wrapped in swaddling clothes and later hung on a tree.

The manger. It’s just the beginning of His story!

“……and a little child will lead them.” Isaiah 11:6