What’s love got to do with it?

uhl31

We are in the “love month” – a perfect opportunity to talk about how love and unhurried living intersect. What does love have to do with unhurried living? E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

Love has everything to do with unhurried living.

Our ability to love others well requires unhurried living. We demonstrate love through thoughtful intentionality, quality time, patience, focused attention, engaged listening, perseverance, and undistracted presence… all of which require a lack of hurry.

I do not love well when I hurry.

Some of the things I try to do to unhurry my time with others:

  • remember people are valuable
  • put my phone facedown and lock eyes with the person
  • ignore the to-do list in my head
  • breathe deeply and be present
  • remember all those times when someone took time to listen to me
  • stop multi-tasking or invite the person (child) to help
  • relax and enjoy the time together
  • If I am truly unavailable temporarily because of a deadline or lack of emotional bandwidth, ask to schedule a time as soon as possible
  • leave margin in my day for unexpected interruptions
  • trust that God is ultimately in control of what I do in a day
  • repeatedly read over this list

Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible.

Living unhurried has all kinds of benefits for our health, our reflective thought processes, our decision-making, and our productivity. It only makes sense that unhurried living can also greatly benefit those we love. 

How can you unhurry your love for others this month?

29 years and counting!

IMG_0266Wind-blown.

Sand-blasted.

Sun-burned.

What a great way to celebrate a 29 year anniversary! It was a beautiful, relaxed afternoon on a gorgeous, almost-empty beach. A real treat…

Not all our anniversary days have been this pleasant. The wind, sand, and sun help describe our 29 years of marriage:

Wind-blown

When the winds are in your face, you have to work harder at whatever you need to do. The winds of life are the challenges, the stretching times, the growth areas, the new endeavors, the learning curves. Through the years, Steve and I have learned hard truths about ourselves and each other. Some times this required grace, other times forgiveness. We struggled with trials beyond our capacity as parents and as professionals, and we often had to lean on each other. Even when we were learning something good, it was often exhausting or stressful or hard. I am grateful for a husband who is a life-long learner – never complete, never a know-it-all, never too good for one more faith step.

Sand-blasted

Fast flying sand hurts when it hits. In 29 years of marriage, we have been hurt – by out-of-our-control circumstances, by other people, and by each other. Pain is a part of love. We protect each other from pain when we can; some times our selfishness causes the pain. I have cried for Steve, with Steve, and because of Steve… and he has wiped away my tears, and helped to give me hope again – to believe in myself, in him, in others. I would avoid pain and hurts if I could, but the resulting scars are a precious reminder of healing, redeeming love, and second chances. After 29 years, I am so thankful for a man who never gave up, never walked away, and never stopped loving me.

Sun-burned

I love sunshine! It warms my heart and soul. (I often joke that if I didn’t know the Lord, I might worship the sun!) Sunshine reminds me of the good times, the passion, and the love. OH, the fun we have had! Steve makes me laugh all the time with his silly jokes. He brings music and dancing into our life together. We have four of the coolest children (and now a son-in-law too) in this world! We have adventures – living in foreign countries, travels to the world, great friends from everywhere… and we make memories whenever we can! 29 years have given us so many good times – a faith and job that we get to do together, a family that we can never get enough time with, and a never-ending desire to keep holding hands as we walk (close) through this life together.

29 years are so worth celebrating, but they are just the beginning of what is still to come! Wind, sand, or sun, I love you, Steve Morgan, with all my heart.

_______

How do you view marriage? What helps you make it through the hard times? And enjoy the good times?

_______

**Check out Steve’s blog at: LeaderImpact

tribute to a lover

IMG_5818 smallJesse loved abundantly, creatively and sacrificially. A man with normal human faults and frailties, he gave her his whole heart when he married my mom. There was never any doubt – His love was great. It might have been his greatest testimony on this earth – his unquestionable love for her.

It always impressed me that he did not leave the house without kissing my mom good-bye. They enjoyed time together – family holidays, planting flowers, travels to the beach, meetings with long-time friends. Simple pleasures filled their later days – easy walks to see the ducks at the nearby pond, watching sports on TV, a day at the casino.

He bought her anything he thought might make her happy. He wanted to spoil her and would return and re-buy items until they were just what she wanted. My mom was not always easy to please, but he never stopped trying.

He cooked her favorite foods. New Mexico favorites – enchiladas and green chile stew – were delicious specialties. Jesse kept Mom’s ice cream bowl and coffee cup filled.

As happens, there were impatient, angry words at times, but there was also recognition of the wrong in that and quick apologies and forgiveness.

Jesse not only loved my mom, but he loved her family too. He always made us feel warmly welcomed in his home, greeting us and saying goodbye with a hug. He asked about our children and rejoiced in their accomplishments.

When Jesse was very sick in the hospital, he told a friend he had to get home to take care of my mom. He wanted to care for her until the very end.

God had other plans. He took Jesse before my mom, even though she is the one who has stage-four cancer. My mom ended up caring for him, tenderly cleaning, soothing, accompanying him at his side. It was not the “plan” for him to go first, but it gave my mom a chance to sweetly love him back in his last days. She will miss him very much.

Jesse has set the standard very high. I know I could do a lot more to show love to others every day.

When I am gone, I wonder what people will say about how I loved them…

Do you demonstrate an abundant, creative, sacrificial love to others? 

a Valentine’s Day Grinch

sunset holding handsI admit it. I’m a Valentine’s Day Grinch.

I don’t like the commercialization of love or the marketing scam that says that you can somehow make up for months of relationship neglect by spending a big wad of money at Zales. I do like chocolate (dark), but the last thing I need is a huge box of it around my house. I’m no big fan of heart jewelry or stuffed animals or lacy lingerie or cut flowers that die and have to be thrown away in a few days. I really don’t like doilies or ruffles… and I especially don’t like PINK anything!

I’m not your typically “girly” girl … and I have struggled with that much of my life.

Especially in my marriage, I have often felt pressure to squeeze into a mold that does not fit me. Thankfully, that pressure does not come from my husband – just the opposite (!) – but it does come from others who assume – and promote – that certain generalities and stereotypes are – or should be – true for all. Some of the pressure I have put on myself.

Some seem to believe that there exists a sort of all-inclusive pink, ruffled, girly way that make all woman feel loved… and some definite blue, rugged, manly ways for all men to love.

Similar to how Valentine’s Day is sold as the perfect version of love for all:
boy buys sweet card and pink flowers + girl feels loved = happily ever after. ♥ ♥ ♥ 

It’s just not like that for everyone – and certainly not for me or my marriage. After many years, I’ve finally realized that it’s ok not to fit into all the generalities and stereotypes. God has created me uniquely and perfectly the way I am. Pink ruffles and jewelry and heart shapes are truly GREAT love gifts for some… just not for all women… and definitely not for me.

I prefer to use I Corinthians 13 as my love model:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

(1 Cor 13:4-8a NASB)

No lace or doilies or stuffed animals mentioned. 🙂

My husband has worked very hard for almost 30 years to love me this way – kind and not seeking his own interests first, patient and not arrogant, forgiving and believing the best… and I try to do the same for him. Now that speaks love to me!

Have you ever felt pressure to fit a stereotype or role that didn’t work for you? 

What demonstrates true love to you?

How can you use your uniquely perfect self to show love to someone today?

____

Originally posted 2-2013 in MissionalWomen.com – Check out their great site!

learning to be thankful

ID-10087368I’m not very good at being thankful. Well, maybe I’m not that bad when it means saying “thank you” to the waitress or the hotel clerk. I do that pretty well. I am less quick to express my gratitude to those closest to me… my husband, my family, my God. That is a bit ironic since they are the ones who give me the most and the best of themselves. They give over a long period of time. They give well.

I suppose it is that very consistency that leads me to take them for granted. I hardly notice the effort, or I deem it expected and obligatory… just an ordinary part of life.

But love and sacrifice are so not ordinary.

When a husband stays with his wife through hard times and sad times and keeps loving and laughing and giving and forgiving, that is something special. When children respect and enjoy their parents… and each other… in spite of hurts and differences and distance and time, that is something special. When God loves without limits, unconditionally and unendingly, that is something special.

Not to be taken for granted.

I want to notice these special gifts and be more grateful. Thanksgiving is such a wonderful reflective time of year. It so frequently gets lost in between the other holidays, and yet it is so important for me. I need the continual reminder.

So I don’t just expect and assume with those I love… so I remember to say “thank you”.

Who do you want to thank today? 

a place of community

Grandpa's cabin - courtesy of Sarah Joelle PhotographyI have just been blessed with a few days of family vacation time in the gorgeous Colorado mountains. My dad has a rustic cabin next to the Conejos River, and for many years the extended family (and some special friends) meet there to relax, fish, play games, and eat WAY TOO MUCH. It is a special time and provides sweet memories that last for the rest of the year.

Family get-togethers help me practice being grateful for varieties of talents and differences of opinions! Although we get along amazingly well even with the diversity represented at these gatherings, our personal preferences definitely surface…

  • Some like to talk while others want to sleep in the hammock
  • Some want to fish; others want to read on the porch
  • Some sing; others play games or do puzzles
  • Some enjoy “olympics” competitions; other a talent show 
  • Some shoot; others hike; some run trails
  • Some tell jokes; others laugh ’til they cry
  • Some sleep in late; others go to bed early
  • Some cook; others just eat… and eat… and eat

There is a lot of freedom at the cabin – not much judgement or criticism when we choose to do our own thing. There are usually plenty of people around for any activity, and there is plenty of space to find solitude too. Experts teach how to play guitar or fish or build something; those who think they are experts have a captive audience for their lectures.

We work hard to accommodate each other; bigger families get the bigger rooms, and showers get shortened (except by the teenagers) to save hot water. There is no agenda or schedule or routine. We share groceries, dinner prep, and clean up. We watch out for each other’s children and dogs – with only minimal complaining. It is a place of real community… and love.

Reflecting on that special time, I wonder why I don’t act like that more often… more at rest with time and more at peace with the people around me. Why can’t I judge less what others choose and enjoy more fully what I am doing? Why can’t I give up my space, comfort, and expectations without a negative attitude?

I am hoping this year that I don’t just remember the fun activities, but also the heart attitudes and the shared service that made it so much fun. I hope I can apply those principles not only to vacation, but to everyday life also.

What does your family enjoy together? What do you learn from those times?

who do you trust?

Easter is one of the most reflective seasons of the year. Many people consider faith options during this time, searching for truth, peace, and purpose. When I was in college, I found these things for my life in a personal relationship with God. I took time to investigate options, ask questions, study further… eventually I trusted in what Christ did for me on the cross, rather than in my own efforts. That decision changed my life; it gives me hope for each day and security for my eternal future.

If you are searching, questioning or studying… I offer you this video as part of your process. Our ministry, cru, created these four minutes of powerful visual images to help people understand God’s love and forgiveness, and the reason we celebrate Easter = Christ’s death and resurrection for us. I hope you enjoy it and that it is helpful for your own personal journey. Let me know what you think!


bitter is not better

dark chocBitter may be OK for dark chocolate, herbs, or ales, but it is not good for people.

Bitterness is so ugly.
Amy Heckerling

The last few weeks, I heard numerous times about the need to fight against becoming a bitter person. I’m not sure if people were seeing the tendency in me, but I have decided to take the counsel seriously. We all have the ability to become bitter people; life is hard, but we choose how we will respond to the hits that life brings our way.

We start out life very naive and optimistic. We believe that we can do anything if we work hard enough, and we live our days with a (false) sense of immortality and invincibility. We erroneously think we can easily choose our career path, change our spouse, and control our children.

Somewhere between 30-50 years old, we discover that life did not turn out like we thought it would. Individuals and families struggle with terminal illness, unemployment, prodigal children, tragic accidents, incurable medical disorders, loved one’s early deaths, long-term singleness, separation and divorce… unexpected, unplanned, and unavoidable chips to our perfectly manicured world. We get hurt in relationships that cause conflict, under-appreciate and undervalue our work, misunderstand and overlook our contributions. Life is hard – really hard.

It is a simple but sometimes forgotten truth
that the greatest enemy
to present joy and high hopes
is the cultivation of retrospective bitterness.

Robert Menzies

If we focus on negative circumstances, compare our life with others’, or refuse to forgive wrongs, we harden our heart and pave a path toward bitterness. We find ourselves critical, complaining, angry and discouraged with life. It is natural and easy to do.

On the other hand, if we practice gratitude, contentment, and peace with others – even during the hard times – we can pass through our struggles singed by real life, but not burned and destroyed. The pain is real, but it does not have to define us.

Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it.
Bitterness paralyzes life; love empowers it.
Bitterness sours life; love sweetens it.
Bitterness sickens life; love heals it.
Bitterness blinds life; love anoints its eyes.

Harry Emerson Fosdick

I do not want bitterness to control my life. I am praying and asking others to help me process the hard experiences in my life so that I respond with love instead.

How do you fight bitterness? Do you need to ask someone for help?

honoring a great woman

patronsaintsmidwivessynchroblogIn honor of International Women’s Day, Sarah Bessey is hosting a link-up for us to honor the Spiritual Midwives and Patron Saints in our lives. My mind immediately began to race about all the incredible and amazing women who have graced my life…

Spiritual Midwives (those I know personally), Patron Saints (those I have never met), and precious lives that have intersected with mine through the years. I could write about so many of them…

Today I have decided to honor one woman in particular… my sister.

terry n lulu

This very special lady was instrumental in introducing me to a personal relationship with God. In her new faith, she bravely shared with me her child-like knowledge, facing my skepticism and scoffing, and her changed life was one of the key elements in my ultimate choice for saving grace. Her continued faith through the years is a great encouragement to me.

Her life has not been easy and she has had her share of struggles and stumbles along the way, but she continues forward always. She has never given up – although I know she has felt tempted. She prays for, serves, defends, and loves her husband, children, family, friends, and community. She is authentic and real about her life story, and her lack of pretense attracts others to her.

She is a faithful listener and a truth-speaker. We love to walk and talk together, and she has challenged me more than once to reconsider my heart attitude and my natural inclinations for something better. She speaks without judgement, but rather with a sincere desire to help and encourage.

My sister’s help is so often sacrificial. We have to remind her to take care of her own needs. She is hospitable, generous, creative and humble. She is often found cooking, cleaning, running errands, or babysitting for others. She has welcomed my whole crazy family into her small, cozy home for too-long periods of time more times than I could ever count. More than that, she has welcomed us into her heart.

My sister will probably never be famous outside of a small community circle, but her influence will reach the world through the people she prays for and supports.

I love you, Laura, and I honor you on this International Woman’s Day! May your legacy be an encouragement to many other woman today and in the future. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

_____

Who are your spiritual midwives or patron saints? Who would you like to honor today?