Love and Grape Jelly (and a SheSpeaks Scholarship)

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.  ~St. Augustine”

We were in a hurry.  We were late for school.  I was rushing and pushing and striving and, well maybe-just a little, yelling.  I had woken up as “Drill Sergeant Mom” and was fully committed to the role at hand.

Xander was making his breakfast toast.  Gluten-free brown rice bread with soy-free, vegan butter spread and Welch’s grape jelly.  A big, giant, brand new, (did I mention full?) glass jar of grape jelly.

“Come on, guys. We are going to be late for school! Let’s move!”

“I’m coming, Mom!” Xander exclaimed as he put the lid back on the jelly and shifted the giant jar to his left hand to open the fridge. I turned to give him the “don’t-sass-me” look, and time froze. In the painfully slow motion instant where you just know what is about to happen and are powerless to stop it I watched the giant, glass jar of jelly teeter in his hand and-

fall

to

the

floor.

The dull spl-thwack of the jelly glass snapped the space-time continuum back into full speed.  I leaped into action as I watched tiny shards of glass spray across the floor- lifting and swinging Xander and his bare feet out of the blast zone.  As I sat him down, I looked into his eyes. Tears were streaming down his face. With huge, remorseful brown eyes he looked up at me.

“Mama, I am so sorry. I have made such a big mess, and it’s all sticky and it was a brand new jar and now we’re late and it’s all my fault…”

You know what my first reaction to his repentant heart was? Was it  I can’t believe you made such a mess? Or clean this up right now? Or even an exasperated sigh and when will you ever learn?

It was none of those things.

Upon seeing his heartbreak and repentance, I melted. I immediately gathered him in my arms and held him. Loved him. Soothed him.

“Aw, Baby…it’s ok. We’ll clean this up together. Everything will work out just fine. Ok?”

Sniffing back the last of his tears as he started to calm down, “Ok…”

And then, “Mom…I love you.”

“I love you, too, Baby.”

I just want you to hear this one thing-

GOD LOVES YOU LIKE THAT.

With Mama-soothing-her-broken-hearted-baby-love.

I have lived a good deal of my life with a voice of accusation that I sadly labeled as God. Always believing that He sent his son for US to cover our sins, but, in some way never fully understanding that Christ came FOR ME…FOR MY SINS…and that nothing that I do could ever change the fact that He loves me so much that He would lay down His crown, put on our icky man- clothes, walk among us on this fouled planet, innocently die a horrific, tortured criminal’s death bearing up under the weight of all the sin that ever was and will be, conquered the grave and ROSE AGAIN (He’s alive, my friends- isn’t that the most amazing thing?)…HE LOVES ME that much- andHE LOVES YOU that much too.

The moment that jar of jelly hit the ground, and I looked into my son’s eyes and saw his despair at what he done, I felt the immediate, instinctive reaction to soothe that despair, to forgive that mess he had created, to forget it. In that moment, God changed my entire understanding of grace and forgiveness.

He spoke His word to me, “And now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..” Romans 8:1

I knew that God loved me like that- no, beyond that. That as long as I have a truly repentant heart about the mistakes of my life, God is stirred to soothe. To forgive. TO FORGET. It is the promise he makes us. I knew that the accuser of my soul was not my Lord, my Savior, but an enemy.  THE enemy.  There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. He speaks to us with words of love, and joy and encouragement.

Thank you, Jesus for ransoming my heart on the cross. Thank you, Lord for rescuing my heart with a broken jar of grape jelly! I love how you use the tiniest of moments to teach us truth….Keep teaching, Lord. I am listening.

What small moment has God used to teach you about His love?

This post is an entry for a full scholarship to the 2011 Proverbs 31 SheSpeaks conference. The She Speaks Conference is about women connecting the hearts of women to the heart of our Father God and my heart is to serve Him and His daughters, as He leads.

I have so wanted to attend for many years, and love that my word sister, Ann Voskamp is offering an opportunity for scholarship to this awesome resource. If you would like to be considered for scholarship, check out her blog post here.

Loving the Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Loving the Church often seems close to impossible. Still, we must keep reminding ourselves that all people in the Church – whether powerful or powerless, conservative or progressive, tolerant or fanatic – belong to that long line of witnesses moving through this valley of tears, singing songs of praise and thanksgiving, listening to the voice of their Lord, and eating together from the bread that keeps multiplying as it is shared. When we remember that, we may be able to say, “I love the Church, and I am glad to belong to it.
Loving the Church is our sacred duty. Without a true love for the Church, we cannot live in it in joy and peace. And without a true love for the Church, we cannot call people to it.” – Henri Nouwen

 

We are imperfect reflections of God’s love and grace.  Put a lot of us together in one body and the result can be A LOT of imperfection and A VERY LITTLE reflection of God.  But this is what we are called to.  To love, to be gracious, and to gather together- with all our good, bad and ugliness. When we are obedient to this duty, God takes all our strengths and weaknesses and uses them for His good, for His beauty.  It’s only together that we can truly reflect God’s grace and love.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

– Hebrews 10:25

Have you been forsaking the sacred duty of loving the Church? Do you have Church wounds that need to be healed? Can we pray for you?




Guest Post- We Aren’t Islands

Many of us long to live in a world where we shouldn’t have to do anything for anyone else. We set the course for our own lives; we decide what paths we will take; and nobody should have the power to derail our dreams. Freedom is our rallying cry!

What I can’t figure out, though, is why freedom is so great. So many of us are so busy proclaiming our autonomy, saying “you can’t make me do this,” that I wonder if we’ve ever stopped to question whether being beholden to someone is actually such a bad thing.

Modern day feminists, for instance, cry that no man should be able to tell a woman what to do, and that no woman should twist herself in knots to get or keep a man. Instead, she should seek to fulfill her dreams, and any guy who wants to tag along had better adapt.

Yet speaking as a woman who is greatly in love with a certain man, I have to wonder why it’s so bad to want to please him? What’s wrong with wanting to make the house nice for him to come home to after he’s been on call for thirty-six hours straight and he’s exhausted? What’s wrong with doing his laundry? After all, he gives great foot massages, and he contributes more of the income! But even if he didn’t, isn’t it nice, sometimes, to have someone to fuss over?

I don’t do these things because I have to; I do them because I want to. I know some would call me an oppressed wife, but I don’t think those people have ever really experienced the joy of a give-and-take relationship. Besides, he cleans off the car for me, takes out the garbage, and figures out how my Bluetooth device works. It’s a two-way street.

It’s not only feminists telling women that they should never change for men, though; a new cohort of young men has concluded that they don’t need relationships, either. One night stands might be fine, but commitment is out of the picture. In fact, one man in a very open relationship once reported to me that he was as happy as he could imagine; neither of them made any demands on the other, and because of that the relationship was perfect.

Five years later that relationship is long gone, and I often wonder if ultimately they would have been happier if they had made demands on each other—demands that they stay faithful, do things together, be nice to one another, forge a life together instead of just side by side.

When we focus our lives solely on what we want life becomes rather shallow and awfully erratic. We can never achieve real intimacy with anybody, whether friend or significant other, for when we don’t make or accept demands, nothing can be permanent. And if nothing is permanent, we can’t be vulnerable. We can’t really open up. Sure, you may be able to pursue surface things, but what about our deepest needs to be accepted, loved, affirmed, and cherished? Without vulnerability and transparency, which can only come when we do make demands on each other, real intimacy can’t be achieved.

Loving someone isn’t a burden; it’s a privilege. Sometimes we should do things we don’t really want to do. Sometimes we should let someone else set the course. True love, after all, whether it’s with a sibling, a spouse, a child, or a friend, is so much better than autonomy. And, in the end, it’s far less lonely.
Sheila Wray Gregoire is the author of four books, including To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother. She blogs at http://tolovehonorandvacuum.blogspot.com and has a great newsletter called Reality Check.
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A Divine Love Story

It is late. Or early (depending on your “half empty/half full” viewpoint. About 4 am.  I  have been lying awake for nearly an hour now…restless…and repentant.

I have been working this ministry for the last 7 months now…taking this God given message and kneading it like a piece of dough. What happens to dough when you work it over too much and don’t let it rise within the pan…yep, it gets all stale and hard and not at all appealing. Dear God, I am so sorry…

I am haunted this morning by a post I read at (In)Courage, a challenge of sorts, to write your divine love story.  When I first read it, I thought, “self, you should so do that!” and then I closed my email and when off about my business.  But I kept coming back to  it, and as I lay in bed tossing and turning and asking God to forgive me and give me strength to run this race called life, he whispers, ever so softly in the night, “I still love you.”

Extravagantly, He loves me. Even when I mess up. Even when I let the busyness of life take over and stand in the way of our communication. Even when I get so focussed on doing His work I forget to live His work. He cares for me and blesses me in more ways than I can even fathom, let alone recount. He holds me and comforts me, keeps me safe when I have run headlong into the path of the enemy, and He heals my hurts, my scars, my self-inflicted wounds.  He is my peace in the storm, my strength in the race, my light in the darkness. And even in my imperfect humanness and all my failed efforts to live life on His terms instead of mine, he STILL loves me. THAT, my friends is divine.

The most amazing thing about this love is that he only asks two simple things in return: that I love Him back and that I tell others. And I do both. Not nearly enough…not with extravagance that I should, but here, in the wee hours of the morning I making a new start. I am telling you.

His love is so perfect, and it isn’t just for me…it’s for you, too.  He’s already given it to you, you just have to accept the gift and invite Him in.  Will you?

If you would like to learn more about my journey with the Lord,  you can read My Testimony here.

Visit (In)Courage for more Divine Love stories….