My daughter just confessed to me that she used to ask me to sit in a certain spot while doing flashcards so that she could see through them.
Was I really that dumb?
Sadly, yes, but I am secretly happy because I am certain we would still be sitting there had she not done that.
You see, flashcards with her were enough to make me think that I wouldn’t mind if I only had a few years left to live. They used to go something like this –
Me: “Makayla, what is 2 + 2?”
Makayla: “ ”
Me: “Makayla, what is 2 + 2?”
Makayla: “ ”
What is 2 + 2?!!!!”
Makayla: “You have a spot on your shirt.”
Me: “I don’t care about the stinking spot, and I don’t want you to care either. What. is. 2. +. 2.?!"
Makayla: “ ” ...while staring longingly out the window.
It didn’t help that our house overlooked farmland, and the window was squarely in the middle of the room.
Me: “MAKAYLA! IT IS SCHOOL TIME!!”
Makayla: “Look at that pretty bird. Can I go see it?”
One day, I kid you not, as this was going on, she spotted an emu. I didn’t even know we had emus in Nebraska. I had been trying to convince her that there was never anything nearly as interesting as school out the window to look and this did not help my cause.
Recently, I asked her how she has liked school through the years, and she said she’s liked everything–but not flashcards.
If I could go back and talk to my flashcard holding self, I would tell myself to enjoy Makayla a little more and to worry a little less about how the process looked.
I would say that the little flashcard hating, emu, bird, ladybug, spider, blowing grass, wildflower, tractor, cloud, sun, butterfly, gnat spotting girl would grow to love math and to know her math facts.
I would tell myself that the spunk I see in Makayla is part of the beauty that God has created.
You see, sometimes as moms, we are so afraid of messing things up, we forget to enjoy our kids.
There is a heaviness that so many moms are under because there is so much pressure to do it right, whatever it is.
The standard is always moving, and it changes depending on what circle you are in.
If you’re in homeschooling circles,it’s homeschooling things like what curriculum you use, how connected you are, how many field trips you take, or how many chickens you mummify.
In sports circles, it’s how many sports your kids play, which select teams they are on, how many games they’ve won, and how loud you are at the games.
In academic circles, it’s what clubs your kids are in, how smart they are, what grades they get, and what school they go to.
I don’t have to list them all because we know what they are.
Every circle has different expectations. Sometimes we are living in several circles at once.
No wonder we’re tired!
No wonder our children and our families are tired!
We are using standards and measures we were never meant to use. Most of those things simply don’t matter in the long run.
Chasing the right things in the wrong seasons will distract us from the important things in the season at hand. As a result, our calendars fill up, but we run on empty.
Sometimes the things we are chasing are important, but maybe not for that season.
The well-known story of Mary and Martha illustrates this beautifully.
In Luke 10:38-42, Mary and Martha welcomed Jesus into their home.
Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, but Martha was busy preparing. In verse 40, it says that she was “distracted.” Annoyed that Mary wasn’t helping, Martha pleaded with Jesus to tell Mary to help. Jesus replied in verses 41 and 42, “Martha, Martha, You are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part which shall not be taken away from her.”
Here is the thing: what Martha was doing was important. It was very important in fact. She was preparing for her guests, BUT Jesus was in the house. In THAT moment, and on THAT day, the important thing was sitting at His feet.
Are there times to worry about housework, preparations, academics, flashcards, sports and those things?
But when those things take the place of connecting with those around us in meaningful ways, connecting with Him, and are keeping us from what is truly important on a regular basis, then we have come to the place where we are “worried and bothered about so many things.” We have lost sight of what is truly important.
Word of the day: “Martha, Martha you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
Prayer: God, I thank you that You know my schedule, my family and my life. Thank you that even though sometimes I have a hard time sifting through what is important in my day, You do not. Forgive me for being “worried and bothered about so many things” that I have not chosen the “good parts.” Help me to have eyes to see the important moments in my day and the wisdom to lay down those things that are not. Amen.
Author: Wendy Gerdes
As we end these two weeks on the subject of love, it seems appropriate to pray a blessing of love over your precious spirit. May it wash over you and seep down into the deepest parts of you, reminding you that God loves you with an everlasting love. May it strengthen you, hold you, and give you a greater sense of Abba’s great love for you.
Sister, I bless your spirit to know the breadth and length and height and depth of Abba’s love for you. You are the apple of His eye. You are His beautiful, gifted, strong, brave daughter. In Him you are fully loved, fully seen, and fully accepted. He knows when you sit and when you rise. He knows your thoughts even from afar.
Sister, I bless you to anchor your heart in His great love for you. Let His grace carry you—sustain you. I bless your spirit to know that Abba is a mighty warrior who will save and protect you. He will faithfully hide you under the shadow of His wing. He will rejoice over you and with gladness and quiet you with His great love. I bless you to know the soothing songs of love He sings over you when your heart is hurting, broken, confused, or lost. May the familiar melody of His love always serenade you with the offer of His peace, His goodness, His wholeness, and His healing.
Sister, I bless you to hear His life giving words as He declares them over you.. Open your eyes and heart as He woos you with the dazzling array of colors that He splashes across the evening sky at sunset. Let Him delight your heart as He playfully flings the rich shades of pink across the canvas of the morning sky. Behold, the swirling colors of aqua blue and emerald green of His vast ocean. Take notice of His majestic mountains, rivers, and streams. All these wonders are grand displays of His love boldly inscribed in the four corners of the earth. I bless you to receive these love letters with openness and gratitude.
I bless your spirit to know the goodness of the Lord in the land of living. I bless you to take Abba’s loving hand and dance with joy knowing His love is greater than your past mistakes, your weaknesses, and your sins.
I bless your spirit to celebrate your uniqueness. Abba knew you before the foundation of the earth. He placed you inside your mother’s womb with great care and love. Heaven rejoiced and Abba danced at the moment of your birth. You were born with great purpose.
I bless your spirit with the capacity to receive His words of truth and may they settle in your heart grounding it deeply in the foundation of Abba’s unconditional eternal love.
Author: Maryanne Abbate
“Mommy, please tell me the story again. Who am I named after?”
My middle son, in his animated bedtime-stalling fashion, would beg me to tell him about his beloved namesake, the biblical hero who is one of the greatest human examples of unselfish steadfast love.
“His name is Jonathan.” I would reply.
My son knew I would always retell the story because I love the deep ties of love that bound the unique soul friendship between Jonathan and David.
Jonathan, respected warrior and eldest son of King Saul was the probable heir to the throne of Israel, according to tradition. This all changes when David, the obscure shepherd boy arrives on the scene. David’s skilled harp playing and impressive defeat in the brave fight against Goliath affords him great favor, respect, and notoriety. But, long before this great feat, God had a different plan for a king.
David was His choice, and Jonathan stood to lose a great deal.
Jonathan could have shunned David with royal arrogance, treated him with contempt, boasted, and fought for his rightful position as the king’s son. Instead he embraced David. They had so much in common: leaders, warriors, and men of integrity.
David and Jonathan developed a soul friendship: one knit together with the deep abiding strands of love that desires only God’s best for the other. Although scripture isn’t specific, at some point in this forging friendship Jonathan realizes that it is David who is destined to be the next king of Israel.
He unselfishly gives David his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt—all the things that represent his royal status. Without a trace of envy, he steps aside and willing lives in the shadow casted by David’s divine destiny. Jonathan, rightful heir to the throne, graciously steps aside pledging his enduring love, protection, and support for the future King David.
Everyone needs a Jonathan in his or her life. And we all need to be a Jonathan to someone.
This kind of friendship is a rarity. It is a relationship that is defined and rooted in the eternal love of God. Characterized by freedom, this friendship encourages each person to be everything God created them to be. It is a friendship that is healthy, unrestricted, enriching, and it is one that expands the depth and width of life.
Today, let’s reflect on these questions and let Jesus speak into our closest friendship(s). Thank Him. Ask Him to strengthen the ties of love. And then let Him clarify and purify the places in our friendship(s) that need additional health, vitality, and, healing.
Who is your Jonathan? And, who are you a Jonathan to?
Are you able to freely love a friend? Are you able to extend grace accepting them for who they are? And, are you able to encourage them in their divine calling?
Are you willing to stand in the background and cheer them on?
Are you able to celebrate their gifts and talents?
Do you ever feel a sense of competition?
Scriptures of the Day:
“A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
“A person without a soul friend is like a body without a head.” (attributed to St. Brigid of Kildare)
Sometimes, it’s the small faithful actions that speak volumes about love. They have the makings of creating rich history between two people who have journeyed a lot of life together.
This lesson was learned as I watched a love story from a peripheral position. The person I watched was Tom, a long time resident of our neighborhood. I didn't have the privilege of knowing him or his family beyond a passing greeting, but, our daily paths crossed at a close distance during a particular life season, and that made an indelible mark on my life.
I was knee deep in the childrearing years with all the ongoing responsibilities that typically consume that season of life for a mom with four children. Often, my time felt like sand being greedily gulped through an hourglass. I just couldn’t see beyond or rise above the chaos of my life.
On the other hand, Tom and his wife were in those “Golden Years” that I imagine weren’t as golden as they had hoped. With each passing year his precious wife’s mind and body deteriorated, falling prey to the cruel ravaging effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Even as a bystander, I could see her decline. It was heartbreaking.
Yet, everyday, until her overwhelming care required a nursing facility, Tom faithfully gathered his wife and took her for a walk in the early afternoon days of fall, spring, and summer.
She was his bride; it showed by the tender way he held her hand. Sometimes they would sit on one of the benches near the playground or tennis courts. I observed his benevolent ways and heard his gentle kind voice as he spoke to her. It was touching, moving, heart softening.
This brand of gentleness can't be fabricated. It was so organic—so authentic.
True sustaining lasting love is often expressed in the simple everyday ordinary things of life. It isn’t in the glitzy commercial expressions of a one day holiday like Valentine’s Day.
Tom taught me so much about sustaining love, and his actions changed the way I lived my own life. His example reminded me of the utmost importance of being intentional with my love for my husband and kids even in the chaos and responsibilities of life. Kindness, intentionality, and faithfulness are ongoing choices and small things really matter.
My sisters, Tom taught me that beautiful moments are so often made in the trenches of hard. And small things over a lifetime are the solid foundation of a legacy of love.
Today, in the quiet of your own heart, ask God to show you how you can be more intentional with showing love for your husband and children.
Verse for the Day:
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
1 John 3:18
Let this precious song, “Walking her Home” by Mark Schultz wash over, touch you, and inspire you to build your own legacy of love.
Author: Maryanne Abbate
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends…
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13)
These beautiful words, which we so often equate with weddings and marriages, are meant to transcend all of our relationships.
The Apostle Paul wrote these powerful passages to the Corinthian Church, which was struggling to live in some semblance of community. In other words, they were behaving poorly: acting in the flesh, jockeying for position and prominence, asserting themselves at the expense of others, and inflating the value of their own spiritual gifts over another. It had the makings of a disaster, creating broken relationships and schisms within their church community.
It never works when we operate in the flesh... And, please don’t ask how this girl knows…Sigh!
Just like the Corinthians, we’re not capable in our own strength of the kind of love that is beautifully portrayed in verses 4-7. These verses describe the highest form of love, agape love, which was demonstrated first by God through the offering of His son Jesus Christ.
Today, take a few quiet moments and follow the suggestion of Keith Krell, pastor and professor at Moody Bible Institute-Spokane, “If you go back through these verses and everywhere you find the word “love” substitute the word “Christ,” all these statements will still be true.”
Jesus’ love is selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional. He loves us with this amazing agape love. Our human love can’t go the distance in demonstrating this kind of love in any of our relationships, including with God.
Admittedly, I can’t wholly and completely love God because of my brokenness. I earnestly need Him to give me the capacity to love Him with all my heart. My human heart is far too fickle, petty, selfish, and prone to stray. Sadly, my humanity affects my other relationships, too. It breaks my heart, but I don’t always love well.
Sisters, our only hope of loving well is to fully abide in Christ. His love transforms our love. And then we can be earthen vessels of His agape love… “We love because He first loved us” (1John 4:19).