Love Goggles

 

  
Love is blind.”

I’m sure that’s a quote you’ve heard more than once in your lifetime. You might not believe it to be true, but take a quick stroll through your local Walmart and I’m sure you’ll find at least one couple that makes you scratch your head and go “What did they ever see in that person to fall in love?!”

They had love goggles on!

What are they, you ask? I’d like to think they are a better (and Christian approved) version of beer goggles…you know, the eyes a drunk person sees someone through after one too many drinks, when they think everyone is just amazing. Now take that, but minus the feeling/need to distort reality, via alcohol – and you’ve got love goggles my dear readers.

But how does this pertain to love? Do we have to be drunk to fall in love with, dare I say, the unlovable? No, of course not!

1. I’m a firm believer that there is someone for everyone.
2. Love isn’t blind – it’s just got “love goggles” on.

On one of those fun outings to Walmart, I saw a very unconventional couple. A tall, skinny, well dressed, and good looking guy with a wife who weighed easily 350lbs, tattoos galore, clothes that were wrinkled and stained, and hair that was more unkempt than a rat’s nest. Does that paint a picture for you of how odd a couple this was to see?

As I walked passed them, I found that I was comparing myself to this woman I didn’t even know, and asking God the whys:

Me: Ok, if SHE can find someone, then what the heck is wrong with me? I guess love really is blind if HE can love someone like THAT.
God: Love isn’t blind. It simply allows you to see the beauty in everything. When you see people through MY love, you’ll see them the way I do – you’ll see the unique beauty that each person holds because I created them!

I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. It took me a few minutes to fully grasp what I had just heard, what I had just received a rhema on.

“Love isn’t blind. It simply allows us to see the beauty (God’s beauty) in everything!” This might be one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard from God. Definitely in my top five.

The inmate in prison. The soldier that returns from war without his limbs. The woman who was disfigured in an accident. The sinner on the sidewalk. Get off of your high horse! Not one of us is more righteous than the other. We are all sinners saved by grace and transformed by His love. The easiest thing to do in life is judge a book by its cover – or a person by their outward appearance. But when we do that, not only are we not showing God’s love, but we aren’t seeing with His love either.

God created each of us in His image. We might, along the path of our life and free will, make decisions that may alter our appearances in negative ways (I type this as I’m munching on salt & vinegar chips, even though I’m supposed to be low-carbing it right now). But no matter the changes our body and outter appearance go through, God will always see us as He created us – He’ll always see our heart and our true beauty.

I challenge you all, this week, to put this to work in your own lives. Stop seeing only the outward appearance. Stop looking at the circumstances – past and present. Stop seeing people with your worldly eyes. See people through God’s eyes this week. See them through His eyes of love. I’m not talking about passionate Eros love; I’m talking about compassionate Philia and Agape love. Determine now to see the beauty in all of God’s creations. I promise, if you set in your heart and mind to do this, not only will your view of people change and your heart expand, but it will rock your world in a way only God can!

 
  

In the Blink of an Eye

This has been an interesting week here in Texas to say the least. And quite possibly one of the longest weeks I can remember. Sunday brought freezing rain that we were driving home in. Monday was more ice and a crazy, hectic day at work. Tuesday was mostly the remnants of Monday. But, oh, Wednesday brought some hope! Wednesday morning started off with a snow covered car and gray, gloomy skies. But by lunch time, just four short hours later, there wasn’t a single sign of snow left and beautiful blue skies had emerged!

As I was sitting there on my lunch break, I started thinking about what I had written the week before about staying focused on the future that’s ahead of you and not getting side tracked on what’s currently happening around you. But God took this one step further with me, when I started thinking of how quickly our circumstances can change for the better.

In a matter of just four hours, or 240 minutes, the weather here in “bi-polar Texas” changed from freezing, gloomy, with snow to cool, sunny, and clear blue skies. If the weather can change that quickly, how quickly can our circumstances change when God is involved?

Given God’s track record, I’d say quicker than the speed of light.

When God was creating the world, and the world was without light, God spoke change into the void and light was. God didn’t speak it and then several days later, after a bunch of other things happened and fell in to place, light finally happened. God didn’t speak it and light only showed up in one place, but not another. No. God spoke “let there be light and light was!” (Genesis 1).

I started thinking about this in my own life and my own circumstances. I’ve seen it happen personally before. I can think back to last summer, when I had been told I was at the top of my pay grade for my position and there was no hope for a raise if I wasn’t willing to change departments. But God’s will was for me to stay right where I was and to be obedient to Him (staying forward focused and not being distracted by the present facts).

One afternoon, while in a drive-thru for lunch, I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me to pay for lunch for the car behind me. I did so out of obedience and keeping my focus straight ahead instead of thinking, how tight my finances already were and what the current facts around me were screaming. Not ten minutes after I made it back to work from lunch, I was called in and given a raise that I had been told before was impossible! Not only impossible, but RETROACTIVE! And God’s change didn’t stop there…just three months later, I received another promotion that could only come at the hand of God!!

And as I am writing this, I am listening to a testimony at a church service, where a congregation member lost consciousness and a pulse, but as they began to pray over him and speak God’s life changing power over him, that situation changed and he was brought back from death!

Even now, as my hearts deepest desire is for a spouse at this time in my life, God quickly reminded me of Adam. Adam saw all of God’s creation around him, and it was good, but none were a match for him. God took from Adam and created his helpmate, Eve. And you know how quickly that change occurred? It didn’t take months of searching through online dating – no, Adam’s change took place in the course of an afternoon nap!

I know it might not be logical to think when you wake up from your Sunday afternoon nap, your helpmate will be right there waiting for you. Of course not. That would actually be a bit weird and perhaps worth calling the police over (I mean how would they get in to your house if you’re sleeping?). But it is logical to believe and EXPECT God to move that quickly to change your current circumstances!

When you are obedient to God, and in the right place where He wants you at that time, the circumstances around you won’t matter because you know how quickly they are going to change – In the blink of an eye! In the time it takes to speak them in to existence! In the time it takes to activate your faith and put it to work, God’s change is going to be right there waiting for you!!

So be encouraged. No matter what you are facing. If God can speak and light is… If a man can be dead, yet risen again by faith… If Adam can take a nap and wake up with a wife… What issue can you possibly think is too big for God to change instantly when you believe and put your faith and obedience in to it?! The answer – NONE!!!

Forward Focused

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Proverbs 4:25
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.

One morning, this past week, I got in my car to go to work looking through a windshield of frozen dew droplets. I didn’t know at first that they were frozen. No, I figured that out when I went to wipe them away, halfway down the road, and they didn’t move. No big deal though; I just had to focus ahead of me, seeing past what was directly in front of me on the windshield.

This got me thinking. What a great metaphor for our own lives. How often do we get so focused on what is directly in front of us that we forget to continue looking forward?

It’s easy to do. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible not to give place to what we see right at that moment. What is important is that we don’t give place to what’s right there when we know our promise in God, our blessings, are still ahead of us.

Think back (I know you might have to think a LONG way back) to when you were learning to drive. How many of us had a hard time learning to watch the road out in front of us instead of the road just 10ft in front? I know when I was learning I did this. I’d literally keep my focus on the road right at the end of my hood. Then I’d find myself constantly correcting the wheel trying to stay straight in the lane. My movements were sporadic and jerky, with a vehicle moving back and forth in the lane, and a parent in the passenger seat just about as stressed out as I was.

When things happen in life, with circumstances you weren’t expecting, we can easily lose focus of the goal ahead of us. Our attention quickly goes to the here and now. We begin correcting and over correcting every little thing going on. We begin stressing over things we are focusing on, to the right and left, instead of focusing on the goal out ahead of us. And we lose our peace in the process of it.

Colossians 3:2
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Isaiah 26:3
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Don’t stress over the small things. Don’t stress over the things you see happening now; they aren’t part of your future God has for you. You’re just passing through this valley and moving around the mountain you see. None of it is worth losing your peace over. Set your sights on things above…set your focus on the blessing God has for you. Look out and ahead to His plan, not your own. Don’t be swayed by what’s around you – be swayed only by what the Word says. Keep pushing on, friends. The scenery ahead is a lot better than the scenery around you at the moment!

Fifty Shades of a Lie

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If you’re anything like me then you are probably thinking “how the heck did these books become so popular and mainstream?!” Well, it wasn’t their stellar writing, I’ll tell you that much. It wasn’t a great plot line either. And it definitely wasn’t the strong, female heroine in the story. No. It was the one-dimensional, bland leading lady that every woman, who has ever doubted her own self-worth, could wholeheartedly relate to. And (are you ready to tip this cow?) it’s the same reason Twilight became so popular.

So, what’s wrong with that, you might ask?

Well, let me tell you dear readers.

I was one of those women. Yup! I read the Twilight series. Devoured is more like it. And more than once. I remember the excitement I would have when I found another friend who was reading them too. It wasn’t a secret to be reading them, but this was long ago enough that they weren’t totally mainstream yet – and it wasn’t PC to be reading about (gasp) vampires if you were a Christian.

All I could think, after finishing them though, was how much I wanted to have a love like that. Every woman wants a man to come along and give her value. To make her feel like she’s the most amazing woman in the world. To make her feel beautiful. To make her feel like she is worth giving everything up for, even their own life.

It’s been several since years my friend “E” and I spoke of the issues with the series Twilight. In fact, I had totally forgotten about our conversations on it until I read her post on Facebook this week about Fifty Shades of Grey.

“It’s not about the sex…it’s about playing on a woman’s fears that she is unlovable. Playing on the fantasy when you don’t love yourself – some perfect man will see you for something more…and love you unconditionally. The heroine in this book, and another famous one, are indeed blank…with just enough thoughts like what every woman thinks to make it a perfect form for the reader to place themselves into the story. Now they are the one in the book, with the rich-bigger-than-life guy, being loved and cared for. All boiling down to a lack of knowledge on how much God loves you and how perfect we truly are IN HIM.” – quote from “E”

Therein lies the problem. Therein lies the greatest lie of all lies.

Just as I touched on in Know Your Value, you are looking in all of the wrong places if you are waiting for a man to give you value. This void can only be filled with the true knowledge of who you are in Christ, just as “E” said above.

Do you want to feel like the most important person in the world? Jesus would have died, even if it was just for you. Do you want to feel beautiful? You were made in the image of God – His perfect image. Do you want to feel like you are worth giving everything up for, even giving a life for? God loves you so much, He gave the life of His only child so you could live.

It is an absolute lie to believe that you aren’t worth all that God has done for you. It is a lie to believe you aren’t worthy of love. It is a lie to believe you aren’t deserving of the best there is out there. I’ll even go a step further (another underlying issue with these books – more than I want to write about today)…it’s a lie to believe the abusive, controlling, and manipulative relationship, you might be in, is all you deserve to have. It’s a lie to believe that is all you are worth. It’s a lie to believe you can’t leave because you’ll never be loved or worth anything again.

YOU are worth so much more than all of that! You are worth more than what any book of fiction could ever tell you. You are worth far more than the fifty shades of lies you’ve read. Just turn to the one book of truth, the Bible, if you want to hear of Love that exceeds all expectations. A Love that is unfailing. A Love that conquers all, even death.

Seeing Past the Imperfect

This last week I pulled my crochet hooks out of hiding and dusted off my mad skills to start working on some goodies for a little boy that’ll be here this summer (a friend’s, not mine).

So I set my sights on making something I’ve never even attempted before: baby booties.

If you know me, then you know once I set my mind to something, I’m going to do it and redo it till it’s perfect. Yes. I will absolutely admit to being a perfectionist.

As I began following the directions for these super adorable baby booties, I quickly noticed two things: 1. The person who wrote the directions obviously couldn’t do math as the stitches didn’t add up – which irritated this perfectionist to no end (who is now holding a lumpy bootie) and 2. Sometimes, no matter how closely you follow the directions, things don’t always turn out the way you might expect them to.

I knew the moment I realized this, that there was a big life lesson to learn here.

I have worked very hard over the years at letting the small imperfections go. Every time I give something away, all I can think about is the one stitch that was missed or the seam that is slightly uneven. But the receiver of that gift will never notice that imperfection unless the giver points it out.

This is like us and God. We spend all of our time focusing on our imperfections; focusing on the things we wish we would have changed, could have done differently, or let go of.

Oh, BUT GOD!!

God doesn’t see the imperfections in us. He sees us as His beautiful creations, made in His image. He sees all the good still ahead of us, not the sin in our past that we’ve been forgiven of. He sees us through eyes of love, not eyes of hate.

It’s us who continually bring up the “but”s. But what about? But don’t you remember? But I’m not? But I can’t?

But what about the really big but? The…But what about when you follow the instructions/directions exactly and things still don’t turn out the way you expected? Like, for example, all of the expensive education I have, and feel absolutely 1000% that it was what God wanted me to do at the time, but I’m not using any of it right now?

That’s where the only two “buts” there should ever be come in, the “but God” and the “but faith”.

When we, as Christians, fully understand God’s love for us, and His desire to prosper us, not to harm us, we’ll understand that even when things don’t happen the way we want or think, it’s ok because God’s got it!

God doesn’t just see past any imperfections, He sees the big picture, the beginning from the end. He sees what we don’t. When all we see is how something didn’t go according to plan or how the instructions said it should, He sees the true end and all of the steps in between that we’re still going to take. This is where we have to trust wholeheartedly, by faith, in God and His love for us.

So the next time something happens and you find yourself frustrated with the outcomes and are left feeling imperfect, remember to see yourself as God sees you and have faith that the best is still to come, because it’s not over yet, not by a long shot in God’s plan for you!

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The “perfect” vs my “imperfect”

Know Your Value

IMG_6471-0The last few weeks have been rough for me. These last 5lbs before hitting my first goal have been very stubborn at coming off. Of course the holiday eating and get-togethers with friends and church members hasn’t helped either. But all of this has really had me thinking about my own self esteem and self worth.

Last week I was talking on the phone with my bestie. She’s been so encouraging with the progress I’ve made so far, but I told her a little attention from guys wouldn’t hurt every now and then. I really need to be more careful with the words I use though. “T” came out of the woodwork last week after I mentioned the wiper blades on my car being bad on Facebook. Even offering to come to my work and fix my car there. Ok God, I get it…I need to be more specific.

Receiving a compliment or some attention can really go a long way when your self esteem is low. Feeling pretty is one thing. But knowing that someone else sees you that way can mean even more. And God has always been so good to me when it comes to these low points in life. A marriage proposal from a drive-thru attendant who thought I was the most beautiful woman ever was a nice pick-me-up. Or the sweet little Jewish soldier, who not only gave me a custom parking place on the sidewalk, but also “guarded” my car because “I was the most beautiful woman” he had ever seen was definitely a self esteem booster.

Recently, I was talking to a friend about this and how it pertains to relationships. That’s when I realized I was looking for a relationship to fulfill something that God had already done. I was looking for a guy to give me self worth; to see value in me.

God treasures us. We are His and His love for us is so great that He’d do anything for us, including giving His Son in death so that we could live. If that isn’t something to give you worth and value, I don’t know what is. But the Word doesn’t just stop there in John 3:16 about how much God loves us. God loves us so that He made us in His own image (Genesis 1:27). He didn’t make us in the image of some idea He had….He made us perfect in His own perfect image. He knows us and values us so much that He knows the numbers of hairs on our head (Matthew 10:29-31). He loves us so that He planned our futures before we were ever born (Jeremiah 1:5).

People can give you value, but it’ll never be worth as much as the value God has given you because that value knows no limits. If you are looking to find your value in a man (or for the guys, finding value in a woman) you’ll find yourself disappointed because you’re looking for the world to fill a need that only God can really fulfill. Worldly value will fade with time and wane with a person’s feelings. But your value in God will never change.

So know that you are worthy, you are valued, but above all else, you are loved deeply and passionately in a way only your Creator can.

  

A Samsonite Past

Shortly after I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I began planning a trip to Europe with a friend of mine. I never had any of the typical high school or college experiences, so I had these ideas of grandeur to make good on one cliche – backpacking through Europe: a 20something girl, traveling through a half-dozen European countries, hopping trains, and making memories. Dad quickly put the kibosh on that one when he explained that I’d never be able to pack all I wanted or needed into a backpack and traveling the ancient, cobblestone streets, with a rolling suitcase behind me, just wouldn’t have the same appeal.

So in October of 2007, complete with a great traveling companion and more bags than any one person would ever need, two single girls set out on the trip of a lifetime. I remember dad telling me, as he was trying to fit all of my suitcases into the trunk on our way to the airport, how I would never be able to handle all of my own bags and that I was taking way too much stuff with me. Of course my independent, I-Can-Do-Anything-I-Want, self said I’d have no problem finding a guy on the airplane or at the baggage claim to help. And I didn’t. Chivalry isn’t dead; you just have to know where to look for it. I had all the assistance I needed to put my bags in the overhead bins or to pull them off of the baggage carousel. But what I hadn’t planned on was a cranky, middle-aged, taxi driver in Madrid, Spain.

Armed with my traveling expertise and what little broken Spanish I still knew, I negotiated a flat fee taxi fare before we ever put a bag in the trunk. After our 45 minute ride to our hotel had turned into an 1.5hr tour of every back road and alleyway there was to downtown Madrid (unknown to us or our taxi driver, the main streets had been closed due to a bicycle race) I felt really good about negotiating that fare up front that now would have been double had we been paying off of the meter. Good that was until he abruptly pulled over on a side street, dumped all of our bags on to the curb, insisted we get out of the taxi, and pointed in a general direction saying in broken English “Your hotel! Your hotel!”. The moment he drove off, leaving us stranded and dumbfounded, I turned to my friend and plainly said, “that’s NOT our hotel”. suitcases

After 7+ blocks, walking the busy Gran Via (uphill), lugging behind me two full-size suitcases, two carry on bags, and a personal bag, I could do nothing more than stop and begin laughing hysterically thinking “if dad could see me now he’d be saying ‘I told you so'”. Those words haunted me the rest of the trip, included as I was flying back and missed our connecting flight in Chicago and I found myself running barefoot (no time to put my shoes back on after security) through the terminal, trying futilely to catch another connecting flight, only to arrive at the gate, bags in hand, as the connecting flight was pulling away. I had never hated baggage so much in my life as I did at that exact moment.

These memories are what have come to mind each day this week as I woke up every morning with a song on my heart, Suitcases by Dara Maclean.

How can you move when they’re weighing you down? What can you do when you’re tied to the ground…You carry your burdens heavy like gravity. Just let them go now, there’s freedom in release. You can’t run when you’re holding suitcases. It’s a new day, throw away your mistakes and open up your heart, lay down your guard, you don’t have to be afraid.

Have you ever tried running with a bunch of suitcases? As you can see above, I literally have, and it isn’t easy; it’s downright exhausting. Now think of those suitcases as your past and give them a name:

  • Shame
  • Fearluggage
  • Abuse
  • Hurt
  • Bitterness
  • Anger
  • Blame
  • Failure
  • Worthlessness
  • Betrayal
  • Offense
  • Unmet Expectations
  • Broken Hearts

Can you imagine running, or even just walking, through life carrying all of that baggage around? People do it every day. Now think of your relationships – every one of those bags that you hold on to gets carried in to that relationship. Add to that, the baggage your partner brings, and before you know it you’ll be so weighed down by the past, you won’t be progressing forward any more.

You can probably guess what I’m going to say next – my one reoccurring theme: this isn’t God’s best for you! Carrying around your hurts, your brokenness, your baggage isn’t what God wants for you. It’s just like the new series my church has started, Found in You. In Him, in Christ, we have been redeemed, we have been washed clean of our past, and we have been made righteous in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

Ephesians 1:7
In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. 

When we were redeemed and made righteous in Him, our past was wiped clean. Every bag we once held on to was thrown away. God keeps no account of our past we have been forgiven of. It’s only us, and our human nature, that continues to bring it back into the present. His word very plainly tells us that over and over again:

Psalm 55:22
Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.

1 Peter 5:7
Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you. 

Favim.com-12254Micah 7:19
Once again You will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under Your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

Those cares and sins are the bags we hold on to. The baggage of our past. God has a plan for every one of us (Jeremiah 29:11). When we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the plan (or flight) we had for ourselves got replaced (rerouted) with the plan (flight) God has for us. But the more baggage you hold on to, the more you’ll get held back, and the more likely you are to miss the next flight and have to be rerouted to another one.

God’s mercy on us will always bring us back to our final destination in Him when we repent and seek Him, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to be the person standing at the gate, holding all of your bags, as you watch your plane pull away and wait for the next one. No, God’s standing at the ticket counter saying “Give ME all of your bags. You don’t have to worry. You don’t have to care. I’ll take your cares and lose them over the Atlantic ocean and make sure you have everything you need when you arrive at your destination and I’ll exceed any expectation you might have.” Trust me, it’ll be one flight where you won’t mind having your bags lost.

So don’t be someone who holds on to your past, to all of those bags. And don’t allow that baggage to define who you are. There should be only one thing in life that defines us – Christ. I don’t want my past to define me. I want who I am in Christ to define me and my future. The only piece of baggage I want to take into my future – into a relationship – into a marriage one day – is the suitcase labeled “Redeemed and Righteous in Him”. Let go of your Samsonite past, throw your suitcases into the ocean of forgetfulness, and look ahead to the future God has for you! He’s got a first class seat waiting for you, but checked bags aren’t allowed, so pack light.

Philippians 3:13
…BUT one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.