Love You More

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Hispanic woman holding large, woven heart

It’s a thing I send to my best girlfriends when we’re texting and have to say goodbye.  “Love you.”  “Love you more.”

I say this to my mom or my sister when we’re ending a phone conversation.  “Love you.”  “Love you more.”

So when the words came out of his mouth, it brought immediate tears to my eyes.

“Have a great week pastor, love you.”

“Love you more.”

Three small words.  Three small words which crumbled my heart into a happy bit of rubble.

My pastor loves me.

Really, this shouldn’t be such a big deal.  A pastor is supposed to care about the people in his church.  A pastor is supposed to teach, lead and guide.  A pastor has many ‘things’ to do in the life of a church.  And a pastor should love the people in his church, unfortunately many don’t.

Then my pastor said “Love you more”.

I wrote awhile ago how we had started the search for a new church.  We had visited a few churches in the area, but nothing seemed to stick.  So when husband said we should check out the church down the street, I figured the same thing would happen again.

We’ve only missed a handful of Sunday’s in the past six months.

We walked in and found a place where ‘real’ness and sincerity met.  We walked in and found a place where safeness is a goal.  We walked in and found a place where it’s OK to be broken and healing.  We walked into a family, we walked into a home.

And it freaked me out.

Terror filled my spirit.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of being hurt again.  Fear of being disappointed.  I wanted to run away, the risk seemed too great.

But each week, I return.

Leaders are showing themselves to have integrity.  Teaching is deep and challenging and biblical.  The people are sincere and willing to come along side and walk life’s journey together.

Each confirmation, each step forward causes me to shed tears.  Tears of freedom.  Tears of healing.  Tears washing away the stain of hurt and bitterness.  Tears that drip down my face and chin, leaving their trails on the front of my dress.  Tears which are breaking down the wall I built for protection.

My pastor said, “Love you more.”

Weeds

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weeds

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I wake up and move through the steps of my morning routine, familiar habits signal another day is starting.  After the kitchen has been cleaned and a candle lit, I slide into my rain boots and go out to water the flowers.

Happy flowers which are blossoming and growing each day; the marigolds having tripled in size in just a few weeks.  I turn on the hose to shower their upturned faces with life sustaining water.

Then I look more closely at the beds where the mulch has been spread thickly and evenly.  Weeds have invaded.  Not giant spiky weeds created to choke the life out of my flowers, but small, innocent looking shoots of green enjoying the sunshine and water provided each day.

I tug out a few of the bigger weeds, their roots easily giving way from the dark, rich soil.  With each one I pull out of the ground, three more are there to take its place and happily give life to more.

Tomorrow I will take the time to eradicate the problem.  In the cool of the morning each weed will be removed and thrown away, so the beauty from each blossom can be enjoyed.

The next morning, routine is ignored; sunscreen and deet are applied as I make my way out to the flower beds.

I kneel and start to pull out each of the invaders.  As each weed is discarded, my mind wanders into a prayer.

Remove the weeds of self doubt and insecurity from my heart.  Pull out the poison of comparison.  Uproot the trap of business and distraction.

I work my way around the bed and continue to yank out the weeds.

Cultivate grace for myself and others.  Nurture seeds of love, so I may give out of abundance.  Plant a deep sense of Your guidance and direction.

I rip out the last weed and take in the color of these blooms.  The deep orange Marigolds, the creamy white Zinnias, the hot pink Gerberas; each petal an individual prayer, each plant a song of beauty and thanksgiving.

The work continues each day, both in the flower beds and in my heart.

Remove anything which may steal away essential nutrients, and cultivate everything needed for a flourishing life.

Hungry

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Santa Maria Magdalena Cemetery, Close-up view of praying angel statue

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My mentee and I are reading a book right now about God-Sized Dreams.  One of the chapters talks about characteristics of God-Sized dreamers: faithful where they are, keep their hearts open, embrace enough, encourage others, etc.  One of the lines I underlined in this chapter said: You’re feeding someone today.  Who is the hungry heart in your life?  These few words gave me pause thinking of all the hungry hearts I know.

I decided to write a list.  Students I work with, friends, family, acquaintances, anyone I could think of.  For each person I wrote “K is hungry for _______”; “G is hungry for ______”; M is hungry for ______”.

Hungry for true friendship

Hungry for physical healing

Hungry for adventure

Hungry for peace

It was an eye opening exercise; so many hurts, but just as many joys.  Then the question comes: “What can I do?”

Nothing

I cannot solve the hurts; I cannot deepen the joys.  I can do nothing.

Thankfully I believe in a God who can.  I believe in a God who loves to bring healing and create stories of redemption.  I believe in a God who loves to deepen our joy and give good things.  I believe in a God who can.

And He gently reminds me of my role to help with the hurts and the joys.  Pray.

Spend time in prayer bringing these needs before Him.  Pray peace over the broken hearted.  Pray healing over those battling sickness.  Pray thanksgiving over new adventures.  Pray.  Pray.  Pray.

What is your heart hungry for today?  Share your hunger with someone.  Ask for prayer or help.

Who is the hungry heart in your life?  Offer prayer, give encouragement, be love.

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ps – Does anyone else think the word ‘mentee’ is weird?

pps – The book we’re reading is You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream by Holley Gerth

Old Habits Die Hard

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Blackboard with days of the week schedule

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How long does it take to develop an ‘old habit’?  The rule I’ve always heard is 21 days, but in doing a slight bit of research, 21 days is a myth.  In some people a habit may form in as little as 18 days, and in others it may take 84 plus.  In one of the articles I read, a good average is about 66 days to form a habit.  Just a hair over three months.

My habit crumbled in less than 30 days.  And my old friend fear showed up as a replacement.

I could write daily of my struggles with fear.  It ranges from being a good wife/friend/daughter/sister to the ability to keep up my home, wanting to be a better writer/artist, wanting to have a deeper relationship with God – fear touches every part of who I am and who I want to be.

BUT ultimately, I desire to banish fear from my mind, my heart and my vocabulary.  I want to rid my life of the fear I let rule me.  I want to learn to keep fear at bay and live a life of freedom.

So in this desire to banish fear from my life:

  1.  I am starting out on the twelve week journey of “The Artist’s Way.”  Writing every day, assignments to complete, fieldtrips to take, and a path to connecting with my creativity.
  2. I have been told there are 365 verses in the Bible which deal with fear.  I want to find a few to memorize.                                                                                                                           Psalm 56:3 – When I am afraid, I will trust in You.

Fear feeds off of the un-known and the un-doing.  By putting myself back onto a path of knowledge and action; maybe just maybe, I’ll learn to put fear in its place and become more of who I was created to be.