Love That Does Not Disappoint

Yesterday I read a


on how to reduce stress in my life.

Don't believe for a minute . . . you'll get the number of servings the recipe says you will . . . you can perform a complex computer task with a single click of the mouse . . . your call is important to them . . . the "push here on red" button will get you across the street any faster . . . you're indispensable to your company . . . your cake will look anything like the one illustrated on the box . . . the battery will last anywhere near what they claim. Get smart. Lower your expectations.

That's right! I can

reduce my stress

in life if I don't believe the claims, think of myself as dispensable, lower my


, and basically, just

plan to be disappointed


Know what? I am not only


by that tip-of-the-day, I am


Lower my expectations? Settle for less?

Don't take me wrong. I know I can’t believe all of the claims I hear.  I agree there are times when I do trust them and find myself stressed. Like when I spend two hours assembling something that clearly states on the box can be assembled in

five easy steps


I began thinking about Valentine's Day in light of this stress-reducing tip. Many people have high expectations of how they will feel loved today. Many have a little jingle playing in their heads ~

every kiss begins with Kay

~ and dream of a small velvet box filled with something that sparkles! Many envision how the events of the day will fall into place to create the ultimate romantic evening. And, I predict, many will be stressed out if their valentines do not live up to their hopes and expectations.


my valentine

is not feeling so good. In fact,

my valentine

is asleep on the couch hoping the combination of decongestants, antihistamines and cough suppressants work its


to help him feel better.

The sight of

my valentine

lying there in his sweats could be cause for disappointment. I mean ~ nobody is receiving breakfast in bed this morning and there won't be much hugging and kissing going on. It is just not going to be that kind of day!

When we base our view of love on what the world claims, we are in for disappointment!

I am thankful that there is a love that

does not disappoint

; not based on circumstances or the actions of others. A love that is as much an act of the will as it is a response of the heart . . . that seeks the highest good of another . . . with claims that are trustworthy and believable. It is a love that


circumstances that seeks to disappoint.

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.
I Corinthians 13:4-7

Here is a new


for Valentine’s Day ~

Don't believe in what the world calls love . . . you will get what you deserve . . . it is all about you . . . love comes in small velvet boxes . . . it is alright if he yells at you ~ at least he comes home at night . . . she better look great . . . if it doesn’t feel right, find someone new . . . Get smart. Raise your expectations.

Decide today to embrace

a love that does not disappoint . . . 

and expect your relationship to be transformed.

What If I Knew . . .

What if I knew today would be the last day I had with my child?
Would it transform the words we exchanged?

Would it alter the non-verbal messages I expressed?

Would I focus less energy on the chores left undone?

Would I linger a little longer as we hugged goodbye?
The morning of February 5th, 1996 began like any other in our home. There was no forewarning that it would be my last day at home with our precious son, Scott. But at 11:36 a.m., I received the phone call all parents dreads. Your son has been in an accidentScott was declared brain dead on February 6, 1996.

As I reflect on our last days together . . .
I am grateful for Scott’s humble spirit on February 4th that caused him to seek reconciliation and forgiveness.

I am grateful for our loving and fun conversation that morning.

I am grateful I took time ~ on that particularly hectic day of school for me ~ to say Goodbye and I love you.
Psalm 90:12 reads ~
Teach us to use wisely all the time we have. 

Oh that His Wisdom, His Grace, and His Love would transform relationships in our hearts and homes.

Resurrecting My Resolutions

Yes, I know that 2010 is less than thirty days old.

Yes, I know I just made my New Year resolutions.

But if you are like me, New Year resolutions made on January 1st are often D.O.A. before the end of the month. I like to think that I am not a flake. I do not consider myself unmotivated. But what I know about myself is this ~ I am a creature of habit and old habits are hard to transform.

Oh, I breathe life into my resolutions for a few days ~ sometimes for two or three weeks. More often than not though, I finally remember them about mid-month. Quite honestly, at that point, I tend to just declare them pulseless and non-breathing. As I go through the ritual of mentally burying yet another set of New Year resolutions, I am struck with both guilt and grief. I heap loads of guilt upon myself for failing ~ once again ~ and allowing my good intentions to fall lifeless along the roadside of the routine of life. I mourn the fact that it was not my old habits that died, but my good intentions that are once again found too weak to survive.

Sadly, this year’s resolutions are no different. Knowing my habit of making and breaking resolutions, I made just a couple. I kept them for a few days. But alas, as the number of days of the month increased, so did the number of fatalities on my list of resolutions.

Then, this past weekend, I remembered the words of a wise friend ~ words spoken in a sermon over 30 years ago. Ben West was the pastor of the small church we attended in northern California. Near the end of January, sometime in the late 1970's, Ben delivered a homily about keeping our resolutions. The focus of his sermon was not so much about making resolutions but rather on breaking them. That’s right! He wanted to address those of us who seemed to not be able to keep the resolutions alive for more than a few days or a couple of weeks.

It was one of those sermons where I felt he was going to preach directly to me. You know, when you feel like the pastor must be looking in the windows of your soul! I prepared myself for another dose of guilt.

Ben’s words that morning were not accusatory. His message was not filled with ‘should of’ and ‘ought to’. Rather, his words were gentle, encouraging and full of hope. Here is what I remember from that Sunday morning over 30 years ago.
We make New Year resolutions and we break New Year resolutions.

We can focus on our success at keeping them, or look at our failure of breaking them. Rather than focusing on what was not done, focus on what was accomplished because you made the resolution.

Maybe today you are able to say:
  • I exercised 5 days in January ~ when your habit is to not exercise at all!
  • I read my Bible for 3 days ~ when your Bible usually collects dust during the week.
Realize that you have accomplished something because you made a New Year resolution. Take heart and keep going from there.
Ben’s words were life-support to my dying resolutions back then, and are again life-giving in 2010.

Thank you, Ben, that today I choose to resurrect my resolutions and keep going from here.

Thank you that I can redeem this new year as I again breathe life into my desire to change old habits; as I lay aside the guilt and grief of failure; as I keep on being transformed into something new.

Hope of the New Year

Here is a fact you may not know. I am sentimental. Very sentimental!

Perhaps nothing makes that point quite as much as the small gift tag from Christmas 1992 that I have tucked away in a drawer. As I remember, this tag was not attached to a very memorable gift.  But this tag is in my mother's own handwriting.  It simply says To Bonnie, Love Mom and Dad.  She passed away the following February.  This tag marks the last of the forty Christmases we shared together.

So it comes as no surprise to my family that I tend to become sentimental, okay, pensive as New Year's Eve approaches.  I want to hold on to those precious memories of the past twelve months, and yet, I long for the fresh start the New Year brings.  I have to confess that in my desire to learn from my past mistakes, I often take them to heart a little too much ~ rehashing them again and again in my mind.

I want this year ~ 2010 ~ to be a redemptive one year!

How will God redeem my failings and transform me into a better wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, and mentor?

With all honesty, I am very hopeful this New Year's Eve.  I am relying on His power that redeems all things to Himself. I am resting in His promise to restore and reshape me for His good pleasure; to re-establish my path; and to renew my thoughts with His thoughts.

As I read the prayers of the Daily Office for December 31st, it included the wonderful story of the healing of the crippled man found in The Gospel of John. Here is the story in the Apostle John's words as it appears in the Book of Common Prayer:

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids ~ blind, lame, and paralyzed ~ waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred the water: whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. ~ John 5:1-15

What an incredible story of transformation! Jesus not only restored this man’s health, but redeemed his future ~ Take up your bed and walk . . . sin no more!  The man did not leave his bed behind, but took it with him, perhaps as a reminder of the transformation he had experienced.  The man obeyed and took those first courageous steps of faith as he walked out into the city of Jerusalem on his own two feet ~ for perhaps the first time!  The man was truly transformed ~ from the inside out as he was encouraged to sin no more.

And yet, as I re-read the story, I find Jesus' question to the man a little strange.  Why would Jesus ask a man who had been invalid for 38 years if he wants to be healed?  Isn't the answer pretty obvious?  I think Jesus asks the question because Jesus knows that lifestyles are hard to change.  We tend to be quite comfortable, thank you with how we use our time, how we spend our resources, and how we treat one another.  In many ways, we have become invalids ~ stuck in our own bed of old habits and traditions.

I want this story of redemption found in John 5, to be my New Year’s story!  I want Jesus to restore to health to those areas of my life that He knows need healing.  I want Him to redeem my future.   May I Him with all of it, and be willing to take some courageous steps of faith as I walk where He leads me and become who He wants me to be!

Yes, I am quite hopeful this New Year's Eve ~ as I fix my gaze on the His redeeming love ~ that 2010 will be a redemptive year .