But Will You Still Give Me Hugs and Kisses?

What is your love language? This is the question I asked my 11 year old son, Jonathan and my 9 year old daughter, Emory last night before bed. My 7 year old son, Benjamin, had already fallen asleep after playing with great determination in his second basketball game of the season.

Jonathan and Emory looked quite puzzled in response to my question. I had listened online to a Focus on the Family radio broadcast with Gary Chapman. He is the author of The 5 Love Languages of Children. This had sparked my interest concerning the love languages of my own children.

First of all, what is a love language? I described it to my children as the way you prefer for someone to show you they love you. Chapman says the 5 love languages are acts of service, quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, and gifts. After discussing it for a while, Jonathan and Emory each decided which way they prefer for us to show them we love them. We talked and laughed and they also guessed which love language I prefer the most.

This morning I explained it all to Benjamin, who had slept through the conversation last night. Immediately after I described each love language to him, he said, “I like to spend time with you!” He was very proud of himself for being able to answer so quickly and definitely. Within a few seconds however, he sadly and almost desperately said, “But will you still give me hugs and kisses?”

I quickly explained that I will always give him hugs and kisses. I told him that just because he likes to spend quality time with me doesn’t mean I won’t also love him by giving him gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation, and yes…hugs and kisses.

Don’t you just love the way the mind of a child works? Even Emory, who had decided last night that her love language is physical touch (with quality time being a close second), asked me this morning if I can still give her gifts. 😊 Jonathan had a difficult time deciding, but he was sure to let me know that even though he put quality time at the top of his list, he’s hoping I will still perform acts of service for him (i.e. Please clean my room for me sometimes, Mom.)

The ongoing conversation made me laugh. I explained again that I will love them in ALL ways. We were simply trying to decide which love language we lean toward the most.

I laughed at my children, but I’m very much the same. I told my husband that I lean toward words of affirmation, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Maybe I should have said acts of service?” I do feel quite loved when he helps me clean the house!

As I remember these moments with a smile on my face, I am reminded of my Heavenly Father. I am comforted by the knowledge that He loves me. He loves me in every way I can possibly imagine. He loves me in ways I don’t even realize or comprehend. I don’t have to worry that He might be too busy to spend quality time with me or that He could possibly forget to bless me with gifts.

As an earthly mother, I’m positive there are days that I fail to express my love to my children as I should. Not so with God. Every moment of every day, He reveals His love to me. He has given His Son to redeem my life. He is the Creator of the Universe and He calls me His own. He reveals Himself to me through the Scripture and is listening whenever I call. He always has time for me. He always comforts me. He guides me and protects me. He blesses me with unimaginable gifts. He is the ultimate Father.

My children are correct to fear that if I focus on spending quality time with them I might forget to give them hugs and kisses. I am only human. They know me well enough to realize I am not perfect.

Aren’t we thankful that God is perfect? He knows how to love us in every good way. He knows what we need and when we need it. He doesn’t have to ask what our love language is…He already knows.

Resting in His Love,
Karen

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Brave

We watched the Disney/Pixar movie “Brave” this weekend. I was never very impressed by the trailers of the movie. It looked a little dark and violent to me. However, we had a free Redbox rental for the weekend and “Brave” was the movie of choice.

My first impressions were correct. It was a little dark and violent. A witch with spells, a bear that kills, Scottish men who fight for no reason. You get the picture. I was prepared for the possibility of those things, but I was not prepared for the daughter who was so disrespectful to her mother. Yes, she apologizes in the end and all is well, but I was not impressed at all.

The next day, as scenes from the movie were replaying themselves in my mind, I started thinking about the title of the movie. Brave? Who was brave? Merida, the daughter and main character was very skillful in archery. She was also quite adventurous, but I don’t remember her being so brave that the entire movie would be named after this quality. Was she brave when she yelled at her mother and told her she would never want to be like her? Was she brave when she asked a witch for a spell to change her mother so she could have her own way? Maybe I’m missing something, but I didn’t view Merida as brave.

I discussed it with my husband and he agreed. We couldn’t come up with an explanation for the title.

As we were having lunch Sunday afternoon, my oldest son, Jonathan shared with us that they had heard two stories during Sunday School. They were true stories from the “One With Them” website.

Jonathan had heard about a 14 year old girl in Uganda, named Susan, who lived with her Muslim father and brother. One day at school she trusted Jesus as her Savior as the result of a visit from an evangelist. A month later, she could hold it in no longer. She shared with her father about her new life in Christ. In response, he locked her in a dark room and instructed her brother not to give her food or water and not to tell anyone. Her brother could not bear it and slid roasted bananas under the door and made a small hole in the floor so he could pour drops of water for her to lick with her tongue.

After six months in a dark room, a neighbor began to question where Susan might be. The police eventually found her. She had lost the use of her legs and of course was very malnourished. After 10 months in a hospital bed, she was able to go live in Kenya with a family who loves The Lord. Her prayer is that she will regain the use of her legs so she can tell others about Jesus. She has forgiven her father and prays for his salvation.

Needless to say…Susan is brave. This was the perfect opportunity to discuss the glaring differences between Merida and Susan with my children. They completely understood and agreed that Susan was so very brave to tell her father about giving her life to The Lord Jesus Christ. She knew that most likely she would be punished severely. However, she couldn’t hold it in. She loved her Lord and she loved her father as well. She wanted him to know the peace and joy of salvation in Christ. She would not be ashamed of Jesus, no matter the cost.

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Susan’s story is one story out of hundreds of thousands. Every day, Christians are being tortured, persecuted, imprisoned, and killed because of their faith. Yet, they are not ashamed and they proudly proclaim Jesus as Lord. This is my definition of brave.

Lord, make me brave. I have nothing to fear but rejection. I have no threat of persecution and You have blessed me with legs that work just fine. Yet I shy away so many times from telling others how You’ve saved me from sin and changed my life. Forgive me, Lord. Help me to love You and love others enough to share with them how to stop living in darkness and find eternal life in You, the Light of the World.

Praying to be Brave,
Karen

To Be Like Mary

Brother Rob’s sermon this morning included references to the death of Lazarus and the resulting reactions of his sisters, Mary and Martha (or “Motha”, as Bro. Rob so richly says in his “old South” way.)

As he talked about Mary and Martha, my mind drifted to the story of Jesus visiting their home in Luke 10:38-42. I know the story very well. Five short verses, but packed with eye opening life application.

“As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

When I study these passages, I am encouraged by the words of Jesus. He is actually telling someone to forget about the chores and focus on Him! But at the same time, I know in my heart that if I had been one of the sisters in the story, I undoubtedly would have been Martha.

The account of Martha begins very favorably. “A woman named Martha opened her home to Him.” (Very hospitable of her.) But the next thing we hear of Martha is that she was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Wow! How easily I could replace the name Martha to say, “But Karen was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” I just know in my heart I would have done the exact same thing as Martha!

Then, the account of Martha takes a terrible turn for the worst. She begins to sound like…well…like my children when they believe they have been given more chores than their brother or sister.

I pray I wouldn’t have gone as far as Martha in asking The Lord Jesus Christ to reprimand my sister for not helping with the chores, but you never know! Poor Martha. She started out so great, but then she bombed!

It’s a difficult lesson for people like me. As much as I hate to admit it, I suffer from the sin of perfectionism at times. It sounds like Martha did as well. She wanted everything to be just right. As a result of her perfectionist personality, she couldn’t see what was the most important thing. She was distracted.

You might say, “So, what’s wrong with that? Why is that a sin?” The sin is not in taking care of things that need to be done or putting forth your best effort, the sin is letting things distract you from Jesus.

How many things in my life distract me from spending time with The Lord? It’s very easy to justify them. Of course I must prepare dinner, or go Christmas shopping, or do the laundry. Yes, these things might need to be done, but not at the cost of missing out on precious time with my Lord.

So in order to avoid being distracted from Jesus, I look to the other sister. Mary, the one who Jesus says “chose the right thing”. Mary knew how to prioritize. She knew what was at the top of her “to do” list for the day! Can’t you just visualize her list? At the top in BIG, BOLD letters….
SIT AT THE FEET OF JESUS AND DRINK IN EVERY WORD.

What a beautiful picture those words paint in my mind. Oh, to be like Mary!

Still, I can’t help but feel sorry for Martha. Apparently her “to do”list for the day was a little different than Mary’s.

*Send Lazarus to catch fish
*Mend the clothes
*Buy vegetables at market
*Mop the floors
*Prepare the fish
*Bake the bread
*Set the table
*Serve dinner
*Clean the dishes
*Talk to Jesus

Apparently, Jesus wasn’t concerned about a meal, or a clean house, or whatever it was that Martha was doing. He loved Martha. He wanted to spend time with her. He wanted to get to know her better, to know her thoughts and desires. He wanted to tell her stories about His Father. He wanted her to know who He really was. He said only one thing was needed and that was spending time with Him.

It’s the same for us today. Jesus desires for us to spend time with Him. He wants us to read about Him and allow The Holy Spirit to open our eyes to who He really is. He wants us to talk to Him and share with Him our thoughts and desires. He wants us to simply sit at His feet each day and drink Him in.

The world we live in calls us to be like Martha. We have so many things to do that even if we place Jesus at the top of our to do list for the day, He often gets pushed to the bottom and maybe even knocked off the page.

Jesus calls us to be like Mary. To drop everything and spend time with Him. I must admit there are days when my time alone with Him gets pushed to the bottom of my list and sometimes even off the page. Those days never seem quite right. I don’t experience the peace, wisdom, or love for others that I experience when I begin my day with The Lord. Days that begin with Jesus are days that might not be perfect, but they are days that I’m prepared for because I’ve been given wisdom and strength through my time with Him.

Lord, make me like Mary and change me when I fall into my Martha-like ways. I can’t imagine anything more splendid than sitting at Your feet and drinking in Your every word.

Striving to Be Like Mary,
Karen

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The Realization of Life in Full Bloom

The name of my blog is based on 1 Peter 1:24-25 “For all men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”

When I study this verse, I am filled with a sense of sadness at the brevity of my life. But at the same time, it wakes me up, gives me energy, and causes me to prioritize. My entire being is flooded with the realization that my life on this earth is fading. And like it or not, I am not a flower that just sprang forth from the earth, I am IN FULL BLOOM! And as beautiful as a flower may be in it’s glory, we all know what is happening to that flower as soon as it hits that mark. It begins to fade and fall away.

There’s a sense of urgency that wells up within me, and even to some degree, a little bit of panic. It’s an urgency related to all things in my life. I am quite often amazed at how many thoughts can simultaneously go through my mind. All at once, I visualize my children grown and away from home, and immediately regret all the things I planned to do, but never did. I think of my sweet husband and become aware that I rarely give him the time and attention he deserves.

So many things flash through my mind, but one question always comes to the forefront…what have I done for the glory of The Lord? I seem to live much of my life thinking…when I’m a little older I’ll be completely committed to the cause of Christ. That’s why I named this blog “in full bloom”. To remind me that the time is now!

In full bloom is a glorious place to be. I want to take full advantage of it for the glory of The Lord. God created me for a time such as this. He has freely given me His forgiveness and grace. He has blessed me with opportunities to learn about Him and fellowship with Him. He has empowered me with His Holy Spirit. He has nurtured me each step of the way as I’ve grown from a tiny bud to a blooming flower. There is no more time for excuses or procrastination. This is the time to bloom and shine for Him.

A few songs come to mind as I think about the scripture in 1 Peter. One is “Live Like You Were Dying.” This scripture does not move me to go sky diving or Rocky Mountain climbing; and if you know me at all, you know that I will most likely never ride a bull named Fumanchu. But loving deeper and speaking sweeter sound pretty good. And overall, living like we’re dying just means to focus on what’s really important while we’re here. For me it’s doing the will of God. And although I’ve failed miserably throughout my life, it’s good to know that God is patient with me. He is ready and willing to assist me whenever I allow him to do so.

Another song is “The Motions” by Matthew West. It is a perfect reminder for me to give my all for Him.

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day,
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me.
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
“What if I had given everything,
Instead of going through the motions?”

So tomorrow is the next day of the rest of my life. What will I do for Christ? Will I go through the motions as usual or give my everything? I must be aware of John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Apart from Christ, I can do nothing. I will call on the name of The Lord for wisdom and guidance and know that He hears me when I call. And then I will be strengthened.

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I love the part of 1 Peter 1:25 that says “the Word of The Lord will stand forever”. All the things that pull me away from Him, will not remain. So why do I worry with them? He is all I need.

Blessings from a Girl in Full Bloom,
Karen

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