Wonky Looking Love

I’m trying to get better at writing as a discipline and not just writing when I feel inspired – but bear with me as I find my new rhythm. And if you are here reading, despite my learning and inconsistency, thank you.

 Consider this an inspired blog.

Maybe it’s because of Valentines Day or maybe I’m just doing a series that I wasn’t aware of but we are learning how to love others still/again/forever.

“For the whole law can be fulfilled in keeping this one command:
“Love your neighbour as yourself’”
– Galatians 5:14

Sunday morning at church we heard from our lead pastor Joel A’Bell on loving others. He tied a beautiful bow around the thoughts of love being kind and patient and if we are not kind we are not being loving. If we are not patient we aren’t loving.
Because love IS patient, love IS kind. While we like the idea of this, we tend to find it more difficult to live out. He made a comment about how we love to highlight the parts of our Bibles that really resonate with us and maybe those we feel we are nailing in life. He also brought up an idea that has shaken a lot of how I see the scripture and people. He admitted that sometimes he’d love to highlight the parts of the scripture that he didn’t agree with or didn’t want to try for with a black marker.

I think everyone would admit that they enjoy highlighting what they feel they’re good at. I do – but when I focus solely on my strengths and what I’m good at, what I’m not good at REALLY starts to suffer and I become an extremely unbalanced person. What about scripture? What if we truly gave ourselves the freedom to look at the Bible highlighted black with the bits and pieces and chunks and sections that we don’t agree with? What if we took a marker to the parts of the Bible that are too convicting or hard to wrap our minds around?

When I focus only on my strengths in my personality – I become an unbalanced person. When I focus on the bits of the Bible that I love – I break my own theology and God becomes that much smaller, love becomes that much more distorted and what Jesus came to do becomes a nice story.

And what of my relationships? Family? Husband? Best friends? Acquaintances? How many people would I prefer to highlight with a black marker because they’re too convicting or hard to love? Maybe they just aren’t convenient to love.

So I mix my unbalanced personhood, with my broken theology and give what’s left to others.
But only some others, because the OTHER others have been written off.

But, if God is love – and love is in me, then love CAN’T just translate to my fluro-yellow highlighted friends, my quotable friends, and my Instagrammable moments in my marriage. It needs to stretch into my soft convictions and my difficult people to love. If it doesn’t, is any of the rest of what I offer my friends and family LOVE? Real Love?

What even IS real love?

Love it Patient.
Love is Kind.
It does not envy.
It does not boast.
Love is not proud.
Love does not dishonour people.
Love is not self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not rejoice at injustice.
Love DOES rejoice in truth.
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.
God is love.

And if God lives in me then I have to believe that I can outwork all of these attributes.

However, if I put a check mark by what is listed that I felt GOOD at… there would be less checks than black spaces. If I went even further and marked myself 1 out of 10 for the check marks… I’d probably be good at loving 4%.

I think we learn to love when we take time to figure out what any of this really means to us. I remember reading over this list thinking,
“What the heck does ‘love ALWAYS protects’ even mean for my relationship with my husband?”

Truly, I still don’t know.

I wish I had all the answers, but that would just be for my ego. I wish even more to do this journey with people; best friends and acquaintances.

What does it mean that Love always hopes? I think it means that I always have expectancy for the unseen best that is to come. I think LOVE means that I HOPE that for all people. Not just for some. It means that at the end of this I believe for you ALL who might read this,
I believe truth to find you, for genuine care to surround you, and for steadfastness in your heart to continue despite what you might be walking through.

I’m not very good at any or all of this, but I’m pretty good at writing – so lets do the harder stuff together. I love you the best I know how, and I need you for the rest of this.

 

“For the whole law can be fulfilled in keeping this one command:
“Love your neighbor as yourself’”
– Galatians 5:14

 

As We Tarry There

((Maybe don’t read this one at work, or maybe grab a tissue.


It’s really hard for me sometimes to say that I miss my grandparents, when I don’t honestly remember that much about them. My grandma (on my mothers side) died when I was about 4 or maybe 5 years old. I remember that she was heavy set and soft. She had white hair and my own mother has the frame of her hands, they’re rounded and not harsh. They are soft and always in need of physical contact to show love. I have those same rounded hands too; my fingers and features are soft. So while I can’t say that I miss her because I don’t remember much about her I do know her. I remember her Bible being filled with so many highlighted and written in words that it was like 17 devotionals in one. This is a part of my heritage. I remember that when she died I cried because I saw my cousin Ricky crying, and I knew that something bad was happening if he (in my eyes at the time a ‘big kid’) was crying. I remember Precious Moments coloring books at the hospital. I remember telling my brother that I was sad and I wanted to see her again, he told me that if I wanted to see her I would need to go to heaven. He brought me to my mom and I got saved that day (so that I could see Mee-Maw again).

So although I don’t remember her well – I know that she knows me and I know that she has molded my life without being in it.

My grandfather died when I was 10, I remember a little more about him. I remember him eating Ritz crackers with peanut butter on them every time I was over at his house. I remember that he would tickle you until you shrieked and then act like he was going to let you get away but as you ran his arms would catch you and pull you close again. I remember his big funny glasses that now remind me of the guy from Up (or a hipster). I remember his skin being terribly thin and me being afraid of hurting him when I hugged him later on in his life. I remember mom waking me up the day after a celebration ceremony I was a part of for having read the entire bible and memorized a zillion scriptures (seriously a zillion) and maybe learnt how to build a fire? It was pretty much girl scouts for Christians. She woke me up to tell me we were off to Georgia because my grandfather had passed away. I remember his favorite song was In The Garden. A few of the cousins, my mom and myself sang it at his funeral and THAT I can never forget – I can never forget this song.

I may have not known much about my grandpa but I do know that he had a heart to be with the Lord, he was good at sitting with Him.

I don’t remember much about my grandparents, but I do know them.

memawThey’ve been apart of molding who I am since way before I was conceived. I’m so thankful for my heritage that has since passed on and I’m thankful for my grandparents who are still with me.

I love my Grandma Cheri (dads side) more that I could ever explain and I hold part of her personality with me always. I know that without her realizing she has an inflection in her voice when she speaks and emphasizes different syllables. And I know that she has already forgotten how to log in to her Facebook. My love of dogs comes from her and I’m fully convinced that as soon as I can, I won’t be able to keep away from having those lovely fur-babies in my home. I do things that she does without even realizing they probably came from her, like mass cooking awesome food and loving to decorate cakes. We enjoy sushi and being feisty and stubborn as.

But, G-d reminded me of this song this week, as I’ve been so focused on what’s coming this year, what is the next thing I have to do I’ve forgotten too quickly how to tarry with G-d.

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

Refrain:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

To tarry is to stay longer than you intended, or delay leaving a place.

Time spent with G-d cannot come back void and you can never be there ‘too long’. Life happens all around you and all around the world without you, the worries and tasks will be there after the morning and after you’ve sat with the Saviour.

He walks with me. He talks with me. He tells me I am His own.

Lately my prayer has been that G-d would restore to me the joy of salvation. I’m not unhappy, but I want more joy. I want more peace regardless of circumstance and joy that is simply based on what Christ has already done by saving me. No greater joy have I found than to sit and be in His presence and have Him tell me that I AM HIS OWN.

And the JOY we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.

Although I didn’t know my grandparents enough to ‘miss them’ as much as my older family members – I do know my Saviour, and sometimes I just miss tarrying with Him.

Sometimes you need extravagant moments with Jesus. Sometimes you just need to sit and hear Him calling you His own. Sit and listen to the melodies He is singing over you, let it echo through your being. Learn to seek Him and find the characteristics you have learned from Him that you might not realize are in you.

We truly come by them honestly.

I Don’t Believe In Fear

 

Story Time With Laina at it’s finest.

Some tunes to read to

I’m on top of the world today, and by that I mean I swam under the world with giant sea turtles, massive stingrays and sharks ranging from 1-3 meters long. I couldn’t have been more excited unless you told me I had a dinosaur of my own.

We showed up and got (wet) suited up and were taken to a small pool where two turtles had already come by to say hello and make sure we were fully trained with our underwater breathing gear. We got in the pool and one by one were strapped in with an oxygen tank and handed a mouthpiece to start breathing through. I was given a mask that looked less than flattering on my partially Native American cheekbones and told it was time to start breathing underwater. We were told to put our faces under the water and keep our ears where we could hear them for the next bit of instructions.

Breathe Normally.

Breathe in and out of your mouth. I know that sounds simple for some of you obnoxious mouth breathers currently walking around the earth, but for me, trusting that I wouldn’t die if I tried to breathe in through my nose accidently was terrifying. I actually was given to a second instructor to walk me through one on one and talk through everything. She assured me of the facts that I already knew; that the mask wouldn’t fall off, that the oxygen tank had more than enough for our dive, that my natural survival instincts will take over and in the aquarium tank I wouldn’t even think about how I was breathing but my body in fact, would breathe.

Take deep breaths… 1, 2, 3, in… 1, 2, 3, out

The instructors made their way through the little manhole from the pool to the aquarium with the fish, turtles, rays and sharks and the other 3 people I was diving with went through. Right before the person in front of me swam into a 30-minute adventure – I got on my knees and tried to practice not dying underwater. I instantly wanted to give up. Then realizing everyone was already through my only option was to leave alone or fight fear.

Fun fact about me… I LOVE SHARKS.

For me, getting in a tank with jagged-toothed, 10.5 foot, and 350 lbs. beauties was easy. But trusting in what I was given to get there was hard. Sometimes fear comes not from what is ahead but from the equipment you have to move ahead. Sometimes I have issues trusting what I’ve been given to be enough for the journey.

You can sometimes see what is coming, we are diagnosed with cancer and told we will go through treatment, it will be hard but there are facts about what we can expect. We are dealing with the loss of a loved one and we are told to see grief coming but not to worry – there are steps that are known and trained help to get you through. We prepare for our university exams that will make or break our career choices and can see it coming by the date the teachers have set. We get a birthday gift to swim with sharks and research the breed to a make sure how tightly you can hug it before it gets irritated and tries to hug you back… with it’s teeth.

What is coming isn’t often as scary because we know it’s coming. But trusting that YOU have enough inside of you to make it becomes a risk. Are you strong enough to fight after chemo leaves you weak? Are you brave enough to plan a funeral and still let you emotions breathe and not shove them into hiding? Are we intelligent enough for exams or do we need to get a day job? Will the oxygen in the tank run out?

Are we equipped?

Do we have enough for the journey?

G-d, is Your Word REALLY enough?

I’ve recently decided that I don’t believe in fear anymore; not to say it doesn’t exist, but I’ve tried to redirect the emotions that I might have once called fear and accept them as something else. Am I really afraid? Or am I nervously excited? Can I call this something else so that one word doesn’t take a hold of what I am and how I function?

When you put your BELIEF into something you feed it. It gets bigger and bigger until it paralyses you from doing what you want or need to do.

I refuse to get there; I don’t have time to believe in something so strongly that it won’t help anyone. I don’t have time to be too afraid to move when the adventure is forward, and when the things ahead are prepared for. I can’t fall back simply because I don’t think I have enough.

I can’t fall back simply because I don’t think YOU have enough, Lord. I trust that what You’ve equipped me with is more than enough to carry me through. I KNOW there will be bumps along the way but I know that you will sustain me. My tank wont run out. You have me. 

 

Sucky Sound Systems, Surprising Stories, and Skepticism

G-d is actually beautiful.

I was thinking this morning about how doing #ThinkBackThursday is getting more challenging the longer I do it. It’s weird – I’ve used the majority of my old posts from Facebook (be my friend! If you mention my blog you get a 3% discount on being my friend!) and I was running out of material. I was about to start creeping through my 10 year old journal but, no one REALLY wants to read who I was crushing on at 14.

Lo and behold, I found a post from October 2010 that I don’t recall ever stumbling over in this last year. And wouldn’t you know it… it’s in perfect timing with what I NEEDED to hear this week.

I write for me.  I publish for accountability. I pray that somehow in the middle it might be the encouragement, challenge, blessing or honesty you need. I truly could never say ‘thank you’ enough if you pray for, support me or have been apart of reading my stories. Please enjoy this #ThinkBackThursday


 

Thursday we had a worship night at church and all was going well until Jesse and I here a loud pop in the monitors in front of us. Jesse was roughly 4 feet away from me so I casually and in the full attitude of worship lean over and ask if he can hear Kevin anymore or the piano.

“No”
wonderful.

You see, when we cannot hear Kevin that’s a bad thing. While I have attempted to train myself to just know what key we’re in and sing it in tune the whole way- there is still comfort in being able to hear the piano and KNOW you’re in the same key.

I couldn’t get the attention of our wonderful sound man Steve (thanks for the photo Steven B.) without making a scene so I felt pretty stuck, and then suddenly, the monitor popped back on.

This actually was wonderful.

Unfortunately, our sound system didn’t like leaving people feeling happy and fuzzy so again, the sound went out. I wasn’t sure what to do, there wasn’t much I could do, so instead I just prayed. If I remember correctly it was something like, “G-d, this might be a silly request but… I don’t want to create a distraction with not being able to hear correctly so if at all possible could You somehow make the monitor start working? I mean, I’ll still love You and do my best either way… it’d just be nice”

I felt in that moment like He was legitimately asking me if I’d be surprised if He did, He reminded me of the scripture in James 1.6-7 about coming to G-d with our requests, “Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way…” I felt like He was asking me if I was going to truly believe that He could; if I was going to believe that He would answer something so – in my mind – trivial. In an honest answer back to G-d I said, “I’m not sure.” I couldn’t tell Him that I w o u l d n ’ t be surprised but I remember thinking, “G-d, I don’t honestly know if I will be surprised, I just know that You can”.

((Before I completed my thought the monitor came back on. I smiled.

I don’t know what it was in my heart that shifted to where I just decided to believe. I still don’t understand why I can’t live there constantly. Where I ask G-d without doubt and know that He’ll answer if it’s His will. I’m ok admitting that in my almost 20-year-old mind I still struggle with trying to figure out why it seems G-d answers some prayers right away and on some He waits. All I know is to trust that His word and promise to me are true. And that I must be patient in not understanding because HE knows whats up.

I’m not perfect. I don’t have everything figured out. I’m learning. I’m accepting when I can’t do things alone. I’m committed to the only thing that has never let me down.

I’m His and that’s all I need.