Saturday, August 12, 2017

How to Foster Honor in a Younger Generation

The younger girl spoke vehemently, and I watched the older lady wilt.

I watched her wilt because she knew what I saw—that tones of such a nature are rarely becoming when directed toward a person three times your senior.

It was awkward. But more than that, sad. How honor loses it's seat in our society baffles me. And as she spoke, I knew there was truth her mother needed to hear, but was unable to hear because it was spoken with such heat and disrespect.

Years of the same old had brought the ugly side forth. Like a dam waiting to burst, the girl's heart had finally had enough, and she was letting her mother know. But in letting her mother know, there was an even more vital thing she didn't know.

When we speak the ugly reality, we must speak it in an honorable manner.

There is little left in our culture to properly define and exemplify true honor. In other cultures, we read of children standing when a parent enters the room; here, parents are sassed about and disrespected while kids slouch in front of the TV, remote in hand, guiding their way through another movie which most likely feeds even more disrespect.

When our girls grew older, they began loving high school romance movies. Their father and I put a stop to them because these shows fostered selfish, vain, immature attitudes, rich-kid lifestyles, and pre-mature making out. Many of the main characters showed anything but honor to those around them.

It wasn't easy to say no to the girls. We wanted them to have fun. But rather than spending hours in front of the TV watching shows that lead them away from God more than toward Him, we tried to foster hard work, intense play and recreation, and more reading rather than more of those shows.

Fill your child's life with the good and they will have little time for the bad.

What are we feeding our kids? And why?

It's not uncommon to walk into a home and have a child ignore your presence completely because his eyes are glued to his video game. If you say hello, you get a quick, reluctant response as if you're not worth the time and effort to greet.

In our culture it is not unusual to see men wilt while wives emasculate them and strip them of their dignity—in public, at that. We forget that to a man, honor speaks love—just as to a woman, time, tenderness, and affection speaks love.

We attribute a man's need for honor to an egotistic desire for recognition and status, while forgetting that they were created a certain way for a reason—and it's not sexist to affirm that need and put forth effort to meet it.

In many other cultures, the elderly are cared for, respected, and seated at the table with their families; in our culture, they are often passed over, neglected as grown kids run their own families, and despised as “old fashioned” when they try to speak wisdom into a younger generation.

When a president in the most powerful country of the world is elected, people drive cars with demeaning bumper stickers and run protests until people get hurt. This happens regardless of which party is elected—because people have forgotten that in the same breath as we're asked to honor God, we are asked to “honor all men, and to “honor the king”. [1 Peter 2:17]

In our culture, we've forgotten the dignity of honoring a person for his office or calling more than for his perfection. We've lost our fear of God, and of those whom He's placed in powerful positions. We forget that despite our greatest efforts, God still has the final say of who enters the oval office in the White House.

When David was on the run, trying to escape a wicked king who was hunting him down out of sheer jealousy, he had opportunity to kill the king himself. Rather, he cut a corner off Saul's robe as he slept—and later berated himself for doing so. He warned his men severely not to kill God's anointed.

His honor moved Saul to repentance, and he returned from his jealousy driven man-hunt in shame. [1 Samuel 24]

David was able to show honor because he first possessed it. Only when honor is known vertically [with God] can we show it horizontally [to others].

The young girl in the first paragraph was obviously frustrated with her relationship with her mother. I spoke with her, for the trial had lasted for many years.

You must continue to be honest with your mother, but you must change your tone. There's a way to own your feelings in an honorable manner.”

Ladies, we can twist our faces into an angry knot—or we can express our feelings in a loving manner.
We can speak vehemently and forcefully to the aged—or we can allow powerful truth spoken in love to work its own force.

We can shake our head in disgust at our men—or we can get into their heads and learn more about them, including how they are hard wired to need honor because that's what God created them to need.

When we speak to our men, we need to treat them with the same courtesy we treat our girlfriends. Every relationship only lasts with certain dynamics in place, including your marriage. Never expect your man to put up with tones and attitudes you wouldn't expect your friend to put up with.

If a friendship cannot thrive with certain things, neither can your marriage. Accept that fact, and cease to blame your man for being so sexist.

We can ignore the aging parents, or we can sit them at our dinner table and glean from their years of experience before walking the same journey. We can absorb the fact that we wouldn't even exist had they not given their own time and energy for our well-being and care.

Your mother needs to hear the truth,” I urged the young lady. “But she will hear the hard things spoken in a soft way much better than she will wade through a rebellious attitude. Allow raw truth spoken in love to work its own power.”

We mistake pretense for honor, but nothing could be further from the truth. When we learn to speak honorably, we have an open door to speak even more clearly. Honor never implies shutting down or putting up with wrong or hurtful things.

Being an honorable person simply means that you show respect as you disagree with another. Others will listen more carefully to you—not less—when you begin to know and possess your own honor.

Honoring others is not only for their benefit, but also for yours. When you see the value God places on you, you will be loathe to represent yourself in a manner others find distasteful and even disgusting. No one, not even your girlfriends, appreciate seeing a woman put down or dishonor her man, her friends, or her kids.

Own your worth and dignity by speaking honestly, but honorably! 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

How to be Something for your Husband Without Having to be Everything

I scrubbed up the mud marks from the bathroom drawer, the one I had freshly painted the other day. How kids can take merging beauty and turn it upside down in one day baffles me, still.

Painting white over ugly brown wood is one of the most rewarding things—and though it's hard work to renovate the old, it's one of the most refreshing, fun things to do.

Just the other day, I had stood by while two men loaded up an old, free hutch into my dusty mini van. It barely fit, but there I was, eyeing some old piece ready to be coated with chalk paint before it would grace the first office I had ever had. I was nearly giddy with excitement over having a lovely piece for all those books I had been storing away for some years because the shelves were always full--and some books, well, they don't go on the family book shelf! 

My man walked by as I painted away. “Thank you for making our home a lovely place to be,” he commented.

We had just bought our first home, and I had a few moments to swipe the brush after a full day of gardening. The extra rooms turning into each of our offices was a bonus I hadn't expected—and many nights I'd lay in bed scrolling Pinterest for inexpensive ideas on how to turn ugly into lovely.

But the son needed T-shirts today, and new shoes. “Part of the reason I have been growing my hair out is because I feel like it matches the clothes I have, Mama. I don't have any T-shirts.”

I hit the road with this son of mine, the one who has an adult head on young shoulders, and loves hanging out with older, wise kids. His shoulders are getting broad, hunky. And he tells me of his deepest heart while we drive.

I treasure it more than I treasure most things. I'm in awe that he trusts me. And we drive from one place to another in search of the clothes he needs until he's well equipped.

He walks by as I'm painting, later. “Mama, how do you like my shoes?”

I look at him, and his satisfied eyes let me know his heart is cared for once again. I don't really care that his shoes aren't my style, because happy hearts are more than a style—they are a miracle, a blessing not to be taken for granted.

He runs off for his weekly swim with friends. And I don't regret a minute of the time or money I spent on this child, because that's how he hears love. Spend time with him, and his heart settles peacefully. Care for his needs, and he's confident as he goes out. Hear his deepest thoughts without criticism, and he keeps nothing back.

I keep swiping paint. Old cabinets are detailed, and it takes a few hours just to put on the first coat. I'm weary when I'm through, just when my man asks if I'm opposed to him going to the gym.

I shake my head. I'm envisioning a quiet night with the little boys while everyone else is out. Clean up, shower, chocolate......and then, he asks if I'd like to go with him and read while I watch the little boys swim.

I hesitate. “Any good wife would join her husband,” my mind reasons.

I want a shower, chocolate, and Pinterest,” my hormone-wracked body argues.

I think I'll stay,” I say. “I'm not feeling well, and I'd love a quiet night.” He nods his head. He gets it. The days have been maxed for him, too, and I've found him alone in mind-repose on quite a few occasions lately.

This thing of not needing to be everything for everyone has taken me years to learn. And as I showered the day's dirt away, I realized it again.

When I'm not trying to be everything for him, I get to be something for him.

I got to love on him last night in one of the best ways he really gets love.
We got to hold each other numerous times today.
I got to interrupt my project to care for a business call he needed me to make.
I got to put food aside for him when he returned, hungry and sweaty, from the gym.

There's this little fear-thought the enemy of peace wants to thrust into my head when I decline an outing with him, even if it's only to the gym. “What if some other pretty girl with a perfectly toned body does arm curls beside him when you're not there?”

And I feel the pressure of it all, this need to be everything at once no matter how tired I am. I decline anyway—because I'm learning slowly that driving myself hard for too many good things will drive me away from the one good thing.

Because a good thing, at the wrong time, becomes the wrong thing. 

I'm learning that the pressure to be everything will keep me from the blessing of being something he needs most of all.

I stay home. I clean up, shower, and spoon that chocolate ganache into my body which has been demanding hormonal balance all day long. As I shower, words begin flowing into my head and I can't wait to finish and type them out.

I wonder, would they have come had I been bone weary at the gym, trying to be something for someone when I could have been simply me, loving from my small corner as best I could?

Sometimes, love is as simple as gladly interrupting your favorite project to make a call for your man.
Sometimes, love means you smile and offer him food when he comes home.
Love means you take your son to town when you'd rather be home—that you spend the money on clothes for him when you really want throw pillows for your new home, instead.

I'm painting away, and this son walks up again. “Mama, look.”

He's dripping blood, and I swipe away, this time with wet paper towel. I know taking him into the house is my version of love for that moment. Placing a bandage on his forehead becomes a privilege, an honor, a special moment because he's here, and he holds my heart, and I hold his.

Love requires you to give until you're full, not dish out until you're bare.

Get this, mothers and wives—you don't need to be everything, because you already are something so vital to your loved ones' existence, and you're irreplaceable.

When you calm down, breathe deeply, and love hard in all those small moments, you give your man something so precious that it can't be replaced by some girl at the gym doing her big moment of weight lifting.

Do your own thing, and do it well.

You don't need to compete with Hollywood—just care for your body, maintain your weight, and do well with what God's given you.
You don't need to prove anything—just be entirely full of Proven Love.
You don't need to be the best cook—just work to please your man with his favorites every once in awhile, just because.
You don't need to be an entrepreneur—just find out what your gifts are, and utilize them well.
You don't need to save every penny—just make the most of your man's budget—and pick up those free pieces of furniture beside the road.

You don't need to do it all in one day—you just need to embrace the process of each day.

My hutch is partially painted, and I didn't join my man at the gym. I'm so human I can't do it all, and I'm so finite my energy is dependent on rest and sleep.

Why is it that women tend to live as though they should have no human needs at all? Why the guilt over saying no to those we love?

Because we fail to see that in saying no, we get to say yes. In saying no to more activities, we get to say yes to extra room for love to grow in our hearts.

I enjoyed the process today. I slowed down, and relaxed. Each bite of chocolate was a gift, and when the crew walked in, I got to smile and welcome them home.

Because perfect love never meant perfect performance.

I get to paint the hutch partially. I get to accomplish what I want for others, partially. I get to know it's OK, because my humanness was never meant to compete with God's perfection.

Embrace the journey, and know that, when you don't perform perfectly, you get to know and show Perfect Love—and that is all that will ever last. Refuse fear of failure, and make way for peace in the process.

Give your all to small moments, for they make up a large life of love.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How to be a Real Christian in a Fake World--loving Christ and loving people

I looked at him, and spoke it out with tears, “I want what you have.”

Some people are a magnet for grace. This friend—well, one look at his face across the room let me know he was one of those God-people.

He didn't just talk about it—he owned Jesus and Jesus owned him. And God did breathtaking things through him because God was in him.

When God is within you, big things happen because He's a big God.

See this? He is Omnipresent, Omniscient, Almighty, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 
He's the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, and He loves you desperately.  

There's no room for apathy and depression because God is doing exciting things in you, through you, for you. 

Others are drawn to your Source because each human heart craves a Source greater than the one they know. 

In this technology-savvy world, where people get to promote themselves to thousands with the push of a single button, where they get to hold selfie sticks out far enough to capture themselves, where they are taught to compete more than serve and feel pressure to acquire personal followers more than they are led to follow the One Who created each person—in this world, one must be intent on knowing Jesus because it won't just happen.

He drew me in long ago. But there was this stuff I kept carrying, and I was always captured with clarity and joy on a countenance.

I wanted more than to warm another church pew. If God was real and good, satisfying and magnificent, why were so many churches dead enough to turn souls away more than draw them? Why do 75% of church youth leave rather than cleave? Why, through out the years, did I dread another stuffy sermon but light up with joy when the real and authentic stood to speak only for the promotion of Jesus Christ?

You can rather feel it in the air when someone has an additional agenda. Tacked right up there with knowing Jesus is the interest in their own promotion. This brings a sickening vibe into their person and causes them to succumb to club-based operations of programs, to be offended when people leave “their” church, to preach what it takes to keep people there rather than live out Jesus so real that it draws people to Him.

Replacing knowing Jesus with a mere knowledge of the Bible shrivels up the very foundation on which Christianity was birthed. To be a Christian means to be a “little Christ”.

It doesn't mean growing up with Christian parents.
It doesn't mean going to church.
It doesn't mean marrying a good person and starting the good family all over again.

Being a Christian means knowing Jesus so fully that He becomes a part of yourself. Without knowing what's happening, you become a magnet for people like my friend is, because people are created to want to know this Source of Life.

I watched young and old, male and female pursue his presence. I watched faces light up—because he was lit up. And though I knew his time was entirely booked, I asked for ten minutes for myself. He gave it gladly—only he gave an hour.

Christ is a giver. When others are in your presence, do they sense you giving out rays of light, encouragement, and joy? Do they know you are interested in them because you love them?

Is your life marked with giving, or with taking? Do you fill others, or drain them?

Your actions are merely a symptom of what's inside. Therefore, trying to remedy your actions will prove futile and fruitless. You must host Christ and ask Him to take over from the inside out.

Our sinful nature will never, ever change on our own. We may grit our teeth in determination, but unless Christ abides in us, we will be overtaken with our own selfish agenda. Even loving on others can become selfish because we want our agenda filled more than we are enjoying Jesus.

But when Christ has His place in your heart, He loves others right through you because He is love. You don't realize how much you're drawing others because you're just being you.

No striving to be something or someone. Simply loving Christ and enjoying His presence.

This, my friends, is the one and only way to be a true Christian. Allow Him to take you where He wants to bring you—you, created as one to whom all His promises are meant to flow.

You will be as my friend is—a magnet for the grace of God and His favor all over your countenance.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Saltless Oatmeal and Salty Christians

I took a bite of the oatmeal, and nearly choked.

With limited options to jump-start your body for the day, breakfast can be a challenge to enjoy. Sometimes, this is why I head for a salad, cold pizza, or simply down a green kale smoothie as quickly as possible.

When you take a mouthful of smooth, creamy oats, there should be subtle hints of brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and last but not least, salt. Oats cooked without salt don't even deserve the name oatmeal. The pot is worth tossing before serving, and the oats worth choking on instead of swallowing.

I stared at the large pot of oats served to me that morning many years back, and I wanted the salt shaker desperately. Was it rude to ask for? The large pot of saltless oats sat in the center of ten hungry bodies, and I was convinced was sure cause for a doomed day.

A splash of salt could add so much flavor to my bowl. Without it, I finally choked down those oats.

Jesus says His disciples are the salt of the earth. A large earth full of human people doing all their own things is like a large pot full of oats with no flavor. Jesus wants His children to bring a splash of the good and real into the mush pot. Instead, we try to fit right in with the flavorless world as if we weren't supposed to be salt at all.

Matthew 5:13 says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

You might want to toss out that saltless oatmeal and forget that the world often wishes it could toss out saltless Christians as well. A religious hypocrite is often worse to be around than a non-believer, but a disciple of Christ full of His Spirit brings life and light to all those around him.

Just as salt changes the flavor of the breakfast pot, so a Christian is to change the atmosphere around him. If we're not changing the atmosphere around us, we are not the salt of the earth. Truth is, whatever we are most engaged and in love with is what we will bring into the atmosphere wherever we go. 

Salt changes things. Salt makes one go from spitting out the oats, to appreciating each wholesome bite. A small amount of salt flavors large amounts of food, and a little sprinkle goes a long way.

A jar of tasteless salt takes up space in the cupboard and ends up a useless, annoying commodity. At first taste, we wish to toss the thing.

Christians void of Spirit inspired life are the same. They make noise but give no life. Jesus wants us to scatter life, joy, and His Presence everywhere we go; these are the marks of a true Christian. Anything less, and the world will turn up its nose and wish to avoid us.

When people spend time with you, surround them with flavor. Be the salt of the earth, and change your atmosphere with Spirit Presence! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Broken is Better Than Brittle

In my mind's eye, I see the earth baked hard and brown for the vast expanse of it. If rain were to fall, it would cause rivulets of water to stream unchecked right over the brittle surface, falling down and away in a crystal stream over the edge.

Brittle can't absorb water like broken can. Break that earth, and it will absorb the water, softening its depths into soil made rich for seeds to grow.

Life broke me for awhile. I rather know what it's like to want to bash my head into the wall to relieve the pain and pressure. I kinda know that feeling of wondering what it would be like if that semi headed my way on the highway just crashed into my car. Of asking God, “Why is she dying of cancer, and not me?”

I know how to conjure every possible way to avoid and eliminate the things causing pain. I know how to spend endless hours of tension trying to tell my heart everything's OK—when I'm not OK.

Sometimes life brings the unexpected. The phone call comes, and your brother's disappeared into eighty feet of foreign water. You think he'll surely come walking along the bank, but he doesn't, and after three days they pull his limp body out.

You bury him on the mountain side, and stare at his coffin. It refuses to open, forever. His phone rings and your mother needs to answer it and tell one more person that her son is gone—and he's not coming back. The mountain side is wet, dark, and smelly, a blur of people until you climb into that long bus, head to a house you don't know, hit the pillow, and ask for sleep.

Broken is what we were. Here, there was no place for avoidance, no way to pressure the heart into being OK. We accepted it.

Flying through the clouds toward US soil, I realized that my heart felt as soft as they appeared. No need to bash my head against the wall or spend nights trying to find a mental way out. I was no longer afraid of being broken. I just was.

Here, I learned that broken is OK. Broken is better than brittle. Broken means love gets to pour in and grace holds my hand. Broken means truth over takes denial, and truth always, always sets us free—even if the truth is that we're so broken we don't know a way out, or around, or over.

The broken end is the first and only way to a whole new beginning. This is why, my friends, we need never, ever be afraid of broken things. Saving grace delivers us not only from sin, but from those places we avoid, skirt around, or deny. 

Saving grace helps us acknowledge the pain, then release the pain.

Your worst nightmare, though you don't know how to walk through it, may well become your greatest avenue to wholeness. Embrace your broken places—Jesus will meet you there with the truth about your pain, and then, with the truth of your deliverance. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

One Small Way........Helping Others Want to Live

I pulled the car out hastily.

It was loaded with recycle garbage, and the day was nearly over. I hoped the waste center would still be open, and I'd be able to unload a few months worth of plastic and tin into the large green bins before it was time for our guests to arrive.

Usually, people don't look too thrilled as they pull out smelly cans from their cars and sort them into the appropriate bins. But this time, I noticed a mother and her son working together in peace and obvious harmony.

The boy was near eleven years old, like my son at home who had loaded up my car for an attitude discipline. I commended him for helping his mother, to which he responded little.

A few moments later, I noticed the mother walking towards me. “My son would like to help you with your garbage,” she said with a smile.

This world doesn't boast of many helpful people now a days, so watching two people pull smelly garbage from my old mini van was a sight to behold. I felt nearly embarrassed, but they did it with such obvious joy.

I knew the mother had taught her son much before this day. Somehow she had taught him that giving is blessed. Somehow, she had integrated service into his daily life—or he'd never be serving a stranger by dealing with her smelliest job.

They pulled the last bag out of the car, and I thanked him sincerely. “You're a fine young man,” I told him. “Keep up this attitude and you will go far in life.”

He walked away shyly, while his mother gave a bright smile. And I pulled away thoughtfully.

If I hadn't blessed him with encouraging words, he most likely would never have wanted to help me out. Somehow, the words I spoke in the beginning, those few simple words of admiration for helping his mother had kindled something deep within his heart.

He wanted to help more when he was encouraged in what he was already doing.

Words bring out the best in people, or the worst. Today, let's watch for small ways to bless a heart. Let's keep our criticisms to ourselves—but more than leave the critics behind, we must join the life-givers.

We may be surprised at how much better the world goes round when we begin to speak words of encouragement purposefully. Proverbs 25: 11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” [ESV]

Women are meant to be life-givers. Bringing beauty into the world is one of the greatest things we do. Too often, we allow our emotions to take us into the ugly rather than the lovely.

Today, we don't need to hit the mall for a new wall hanging of gold and silver tones. A word well spoken brings beauty into our homes more than any amount of home d├ęcor will do.

A few days ago, I noticed a troubled looking teen walking out of the store. She looked wasted, as if her night had been troubling and she had little hope for the day. I paused, then spoke these words to her, “God has a beautiful purpose for your life. When you were created in the womb, the plan for you was good—and it will always be good.”

The blood shot eyes looked at me, and she thanked me before pulling away. I'd been hearing of one suicide after another, and asking the why's of it all. How can someone be so discouraged about life while the rest of us remain clueless—until we find the bodies hanging from the ceiling?

I remember feeling so alone and desperate that I wanted to bash my head open to release the pressure of it all. I'd see that semi barreling toward me on the highway, and wonder at the relief I'd feel if it all ended for me. I'd visit a friend with cancer and ask God why she's dying and I'm still alive.

People don't always appear full of despair when, in fact, they are. This is why bringing life to everyone around us should be our greatest prerogative—we may never know how much it's needed.

Someone should never feel alone and desperate when there are multitudes of God's people on this planet. It's just that we've gotten silent, absorbed in our own worlds, and sometimes even our own worlds aren't much more encouraging than theirs because we haven't tapped into the wonder of grace.

A few days ago I spoke sharp words to someone who had tried me to my limits. I apologized in tears, and later, I admired her work and told her I'd love to watch for awhile. She put in time and effort to move her tools and display her expertise—because it meant so much to her that someone saw her worth.

Get this—she needed my encouragement more than she needed me to fix her. Enough encouragement may lighten her steps so much that she just might walk lightly into the very things she needs [with no criticism at all].

The people who encourage me most are not those who love telling me what I do wrong. They are not those who quickly point out what I could do better. Those who bring a smile to my face and lightness to my steps are those who speak out life more than they point out death.

Are we focused on what others are doing wrong, or on the lovely already displayed in their lives? If you focus on the lovely, you will bring out even more good. On the contrary, if you focus on the bad, you may cause another to be so discouraged that they show even more ugliness.

I pull away from the waste center, and I ponder it all. I'm grateful for those few who've taught me that loving others best means you pull out the best in them. It means you speak out words on purpose. It means you engage them in what means most to them. You love the good in them more than you show disapproval of the needs they have.

People have given to me, and now I get to give to others. What if, on the parking lot or at the waste center, I get to help someone want to live fully, right where they are?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

How to be Your Child's Best Friend

I dropped her off in Seattle at 5:00 a.m., and whispered loud, “God, thank you for a mother like her.”

She had hugged me long before walking away. And when she walked away, somehow she stayed with me. Because no matter how many changes come, somehow her heart syncs with Christ's, and I'm in awe of her grace and presence of love.

My mother left a legacy of love behind her. She has more patience and grace for ten children than most have for two, and I'm watching her after thirty seven years so I can learn more of the Christ in her.

My mother cares little for earthly things, but much for heavenly. After, and even during raising her own ten kids, she'd bring in other kids who needed a home. She'd bring out the math books for those kids as well as her own, and she'd hold and nurture them at night just as she held her own.

Now that her ten are grown and most of us have left home, she has four girls in her home from three different families. Girls who need her love and care because they've been through more than girls should have to walk through at their ages.

She's reading books and learning all she can about helping others—and all the while she's serving her own family. 

My mother knew how to turn ancient old houses into cozy homes, how to serve her family without resenting it or thinking she'd be better with a career. She took what money she had, and multiplied it with her contentment. And no matter what, she always loved, laughed, and shared her heart with our own.

A child cannot make her mother her best friend. Only a mother can make herself worthy of that name. My mother did, even through those years many call turbulent teens. Somehow she knew how to require obedience while still holding the heart.

All ten of us knew beyond doubt that mama loved our hearts no matter how icky they were, and that, when our lives were blessed, she was happy enough to soar through the sky with joy. And when we were tots, all of us knew she was in charge and had the final say.

We didn't get to boss mama around because mama knew that kids in charge of their own lives bear too much weight on their shoulders—weight meant only for adults to carry. She led us to good places because we weren't wise enough to do so on our own.

We learned that mama meant what she said—and it was all said in love. And I asked her the other day, “Mom, how would you train your eleven year old son to clean his room as I've asked him to?”

“Consequences—I just wouldn't put up with it,” she replied.

I run upstairs and follow through. I know by her example that grace and love doesn't mean permissive disobedience. It's a bit like Christ, Whose love washes away sin.

Contrary to what some teach, Christ's love, when fully realized, removes sin from our lives rather than condones it. No one can know Love without being changed by that Love.

My mother knew that true love in her would guide is to Love Jesus truly—because isn't that what the heart was created for most of all? She knew that requiring obedience in love would ultimately enable us to know what Christ's gift of love really meant.

When we're not changed by Love, we don't truly know love.

If Love didn't change lives, it wouldn't be Love at all. 

Perhaps, rather than expecting Love to accept all things, we need to accept that Love changes all things. 

Love is what love is—and when you know Love, you do what love does.

What amazes me most about my mama is her lack of pride. She really doesn't care about any kind of persona—she's just her, and just being her means her heart is open wide to live and love with no agenda.

Her heart, it's kinda like an open book. You get to read it, and you also get to have your own heart read. Nothing's threatening because when love is, there's only growth to be found and love to be shared in the best days or worst. I think this is why Christ in her is so alive—because hasn't He said He's with the lowly, but abases the proud?

Kinda like all being human together rather than some of us trying to be super-human when we're not.

A week before mama came, I attended the funeral of my dear friend's mother. As I watched the family share, I observed a girl go up to the microphone who was not immediate family. Many years ago, she had been invited to my friend's home, and there she found love, belonging, and blessing enough to cause her to return many times over—and cry hardest at the beloved mother's funeral.

Another mother who left a legacy of love.

Today, what will you leave behind you? What are your priorities? What drives you most? What satisfies you?

Will you leave the world as barren of love as when you came, or will it be a better, richer, fuller place because of you?

Bring hearts to your own. Whether you have ten kids or two, love on them extravagantly—and then, dare to love even more.

Will your legacy be worthy of bringing you fruit, and will it praise you in the gates long after you're gone? [Proverbs 31:31] 

I drove home from Seattle with the sun rising above the mountains, and my thoughts twirling with life-giving truth. Early risers took to the four-lane freeway with me, and I'm impressed with how much can be accomplished so soon in a day.

It's a bit like life. What we choose to accomplish, we will. Because where our treasures are, there our hearts will be.

May our treasure be changeless love so we can bring love to a changing world.