Love: Build Some Bridges

We started a mini-series on love last week (in honor of the month of love), and this week’s subject is very personal to me. So personal, that my husband and I sat down with our children in our living room a few weeks ago and began to have a deep talk about how our family will operate. Not just how we will operate for every day routines, but how we will choose to function when the world around us seems to do the opposite.

We will include others: We will look for outsiders. No matter where they come from, who their family is, what they look like, what they sound like…we will choose to be the first to reach out and connect with others. We will be inclusive and invite others to share life with us; no matter if they have little or lots, no matter if they talk differently, have different customs or traditions, we will include them, surround them, and share life with them.

We will love our neighbors: No matter if they have the same beliefs as we do, or if they disagree with us on many levels- we will try hard each day to demonstrate love.

We will build bridges to connect to others: Much like a bridge connects and extends, we will choose to connect to others and extend hope and love to them. We will build relationships that can connect others to the resources, inspiration, and relationships they need.

We will build bridges. We will build bridges. We will build bridges between us and not walls to divide.

Walls offer a false sense of security in which the builder imprisons and isolates themselves instead of keeping themselves safe. We will not build walls between ourselves or others – we will build bridges.

Why did I type it so many times? Because that’s how many times I said those words to our children. We needed them to know that being a part of this family means loving and serving others. Being a part of this family means protecting those who need protection, and providing support to those who have no one to support them. We had to stress the fact that there are so many in our own little world who don’t have a voice to be heard or an audience to cheer them on. We had to. In the middle of a tv program, we had to stop and talk about how we will choose to operate as a family. How we will love, who we will serve, and why it all matters.

You see, Love is an action and a choice and our choice is to build bridges relationally because that is what Love did for us; Love himself left heaven and embraced humanity. Love gave us direct access to mercy and grace and compassion and forgiveness and hope. Love built a bridge between the divine and the mortal. Love took on our brokenness and frailty and gave us strength and healing. Love lived, died, and came back to life so we could live and become bridge builders for those who need to experience unconditional love. Love builds bridges, love builds up people, love builds up communities.

My children know the message now. They see why we choose to make these statements and who our actions affect. They are growing up in a world that wants them to do the opposite. Our hope is that they will choose love and choose hope, no matter the cost. So that by doing so, others can feel accepted, embraced, remembered, supported, and above all else, loved.

Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we want to be love to those in need today. Lord, so much of our culture pushes the image of isolation as a means for protection. So much of what we see or how we operate in society is to keep everyone at arms length and pretend to not see needs staring us in the face. Forgive us God, forgive me. Lord, help us today to open our eyes and hearts to those around us. Help us build each other up with our words and with our faith. We ask for You to show us opportunities where we can lavish love on others – whether they are in our home or miles away. Help us to live by the example You set for us. Lord, we want to live lives that honor You – lives that point directly back to the unconditional love that You alone provide for us. Today Lord, we desire to be living, breathing, bridge builders for all of those around us who need to feel connected to community. Thank You for reminding us today that Love will go out of its way to build a bridge relationally. Amen. Peace – liz

Go The Extra Mile: Today, Listen to this awesome anthem from Switchfoot about Love! It’s so good and will get stuck in your heart and mind!

Love: Small Actions

Happy Valentines Day Everyone!!! I wanted to be sure to send you this amazing message about love from my dear friend Melissa! In the next few posts you’re going to read about, you guessed it, LOVE. Not the commercialized version of love and gifts we see on the store shelves. No, I’m talking about the real deal- love in it’s greatest forms. So to kick-us off, I’ve invited Melissa to share her thoughts on love. I have long admired her wisdom and strength and heart of service. I know you will be inspired by her too. Friends, my hope is for each one of you to be encouraged, challenged, and active with the love you can share with this world! -Liz 

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I was asked by Liz to be a guest blogger and she said I could talk about love. Now I thought that is going to be easy because love is an easy topic; there is so much to say about love. But after mulling it over several days, it feels that love is not so easy after all.

For those that know the Bible, there is a whole chapter dedicated to love. “Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 NLT). Phew! That was a mouthful. And if we were honest with ourselves, some days it feels like love is exhausting and love is overwhelming.

I want to show love; I really do. I repeat this scripture over and over in my head especially when I’m dealing with a difficult situation. I remind myself, “You must be kind. Stop wanting your own way. Please don’t get irritable!” I find myself busily putting little check marks on my love checklist ready to feel satisfied once I’ve marked every action complete in this love chapter. But before I know it, I have turned love into a task instead of a way of life.

The checklist doesn’t apply just in difficult situations though; unfortunately, the checklist has also applied in the purest of desires to find a way to change the world. State Farm has summed this up very well. Yes, you read that right, State Farm. About a year or so ago they aired a commercial titled “Following”. It begins with a man on the subway seeing a wall advertisement to adopt a pet. Immediately he turns to his side and sees a cute, little white dog that begins to follow him. The man’s computer screen displays an ad to help a veteran and then a tv to be a mentor to a child. The shot pans out to a following of vets, homeless people, children, and animals behind a weary man everywhere he goes. With the hand of a child on his shoulder, the man chooses to make one small decision to walk into a community mentoring center; and just like that the following is gone.

The commercial wasn’t about getting rid of the weariness of love but rather show that one small action, turning a checklist into a lifestyle, can release that burden of love. Love does not place the responsibility of changing the world on your shoulders but rather it is allows Christ to use one small action from an honest heart to have a ripple effect in the world. There is no burden, no task, and no brownie points to be earned. Love is just love and oh how amazing love is. –Melissa

State Farm Commercial- “Following”

Melissa lives in Southern Colorado with her family. She is a Forensic Chemist by day, but she prefers to spend her free time riding elephants, swimming with the piranhas, and serving those in need:).

Funky Part 3: Get Out

When I was a teenager with a fresh drivers’ license, I would often ask my mom for the car keys and just drive around because I could. Not because I was going anywhere particular, but just because I wanted to explore. Growing up near the Front Range of Colorado, I was blessed to see the majestic Rocky Mountains in full view, right next to the spans of crops on the plains. And if your have ever been near my hometown, you also know there is a very pungent aroma that fills the air:). Many say its the smell of money, but the rest of us know its just the smell of manure:). But anyway…

My times of going for a drive were actually a means to explore and decompress; to put my thoughts in order and take some time to clear my head. This week as I was reflecting on this series of walking through seasons of feeling Funky, I was reminded of the beautiful effect getting out has on us.

You see, I often found myself driving to the nearby open fields in my hometown. Today, most of those fields are subdivisions, shopping centers, and gas stations (I see you Greeley, growing and industrializing:). But to me, those areas hold a special place of clarity and calmness. The open roads around them remind me of the times I would empty my mind as I drove around, thinking and praying.

Sometimes when we feel Funky, one of the best steps we can take to move forward is to get out into nature.

I recently read 2 different studies from Stanford University, that suggest getting out into nature provides great benefit for our mental well-being. A walk outside in a natural environment can help reduce our feelings of anxiety and internal negativity, and helps us to generally feel better.

Will our circumstances change immediately with a walk outside? No. Will our difficulties immediately vanish if we hug a tree? Nope. Can our outlook on life, as a whole, improve because we took time to get some fresh air, and submerge ourselves in the beauty of nature and in the faithfulness of God, Our Creator? Absolutely.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Friends, Nature itself was meant to draw us closer to Our Creator. The splendor of all that God has created and the beauty and majesty we find all around us are direct reminders of the majesty and might of our God. If He put so much detail into the very creation all around us, individual blades of grass, multiple varieties of each plant and crop and animal and insect, how much more detail has gone into the creation of our heart and minds? How much more care has He put forth for tending to our needs? I’ll tell you: a lot.

As you think over the Funky season you may be in or have previously experienced, remind yourself of this: Our God, Creator of all, has a beautifully tender way of speaking to us through the times we can pull away into the very nature He created for us. Reflect back even further: When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, God came to walk in the garden(Genesis 3:8). He was looking for them there; He already knew where they were, yet He still went to meet them right where they were and showed them where they were physically and spiritually. Friend, Our Creator has that same amount of love towards us, to know exactly where we are, to come find us and meet us where we are in our time of need. No matter what kind of a Funk we find ourselves in.

I encourage you to go for a walk today; clear your mind and give God your thoughts and concerns. He will meet you there, and will renew your strength.

Let’s PrayDear Heavenly Father, Thank You for reminding us today that it’s ok to stop and get out for a moment. You are always willing to meet us, and listen to us. Lord, for these seasons in our lives that feel uncertain, we choose to trust that You will help us to clear out thoughts as we place our focus on You and Your faithful love and perfect strength. Lord, when we feel weak, help us to remember to run to meet You. When we feel faint of heart, help us to move closer towards You; to look around us and see Your peace sustaining us. Be it in a field, a forest, or a flower bed, help us to run into Your arms. Your hope and strength are real and just as You created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them, You created us and You know us better than we know ourselves. Lord, we lean into You today and hold tight to Your promise to renew our strength when we wait on You Thank You Lord for Your love and for reminders of renewal all around us in creation. Amen.

Go The Extra Mile: I’m taking it way back to 1912 with this incredible hymn “In The Garden” by Charles Austin Miles. Listen as “The Church Sisters” sing it. My only other favorite rendition of this personal favorite is when my mom and her sister sing it:).