celebrate

What Is Love?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Do you remember the Valentine’s Day parties in Elementary school?  I’m not sure why, but these parties stand out in my memory, not only for the candy or sugar hearts or oversweet punch, but for the cards and feelings that ranged from warm fuzzies to disappointment or indifference.  I also enjoyed getting the themed variety mini-valentine cards that I’d carefully select to be friendly and lite, but not too sappy.  I figured if I wanted to add any emotional content I could sign, “Love Sarah” and not just “Sarah.”   Of course I had classmates who were very emotional and they always signed, “Love _________.”

I always wondered what these classmates meant when they signed Love with their name.  Did they mean that they loved me?  Did they mean that they loved everyone?  Did they mean that they had warm and fuzzy feelings?  Did they sign love with their name because that’s what they thought they were supposed to do on Valentine’s Day?  And why sign your name with “Love” if you don’t mean it?  Clearly, I had a lot of thoughts about the “love” stuff and felt that this word had an immense amount of weight and importance to it.  Consequently, I was very careful about using the “love” word.

I still feel strongly about this word, regardless of it’s popular usage on Valentine’s Day or how it can be casually used for stuff like chocolate, Chuck Taylor shoes, coffee / tea, reading, Chris Pratt, flowers, NCAA basketball, fireplaces, beaches, Chik Filet, fast cars, etc.  I’m also not overly enamored with the general celebration of Valentine’s Day constricted to merely a romantic perspective of love.  Indeed, this holiday is named after a Christian priest in the 3rd century who was martyred for his devotion to Jesus.

So if Valentine’s Day is when we celebrate love, it seems appropriate to ask, “What is Love?”  I’d propose that Genuine Love is Who God is, based on 1 John 4:8 and Genuine Love is the core motive in God’s choices, priorities, actions and outlook.  To that end, God’s essential mindset toward you is grounded in love, full stop.  This says to us that the original and most accurate love story is experienced in God loving you.

So here are some interesting questions for you to consider for Valentine’s Day:  Do you let God love you?  Do you hide from Genuine Love or see yourself as disqualified or unworthy?  Do you believe that you deserve for God to love you because you’re good or because of your successes and achievements or because you haven’t screwed up too much?

Maybe Valentine’s Day is when we allow God to fully be Genuine Love to us, not allowing ourselves to receive calibrated love by our actions or “goodness.”  This reminds me of what Paul says in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

So let’s choose to celebrate Genuine Love on Valentine’s Day!  You are deeply loved and treasured!!

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Posted by sarahbowling in fellowship, Genuine love, grow, listen, living, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 0 comments

Unconditional Conditions

Happy Superbowl Victory to the Chiefs!  I wanted to add my congratulations for a great game!

On another subject that’s not quite as celebratory, I have some friends who have pre-existing physical maladies, that make it difficult and even impossible for them to get health insurance.  It’s extremely challenging and discouraging to them for lots of reasons, like managing the day to day health struggles, getting healthcare that’s helpful and say nothing of figuring out possible remedies or cures, along with proper diagnosis, etc.  The health insurance system in America is fraught with dysfunction, loopholes, service gaps, frustrating policies, endless bureaucracy and enough paperwork to choke a horse (since horses eat so much paperwork).

Ultimately, I’m a very simple-minded person when It comes to health care.  If I’m sick and I need medical attention, I want informed care so I can get better.  And it’s true that I have lots of pre-existing conditions that could include mental deficiencies, forgetting to take my vitamins, some residue from previous injuries and bad eating decisions during international travel that can make my digestion and adventure from time to time.

I think the same is true for each of us in relation to God’s unconditional love for us.  We each have pre-existing conditions that could disqualify us from receiving horizontal love in human expression and confines.  But God’s love for each of us is unconditional and we don’t have pre-existing conditions that disqualify us from God loving us.  There can be physical conditions that a health insurance company or doctor won’t treat.  But there’s no human condition that God won’t love, for the simple and profound truth that God is love.  You can’t have a pre-exisiting condition that will exempt nor exclude you from God loving you.  While it’s possible that we might agree with knowing that God loves us, but living in this reality might be a totally different life.

When I think about this for myself, if I was convinced of God’s love for me, infused into my very essence with God’s love, perhaps some things would be different.  Maybe I would have a different outlook on life, maybe my words and attitudes would have more grace, forgiveness and patience, maybe I would be more generous and maybe compassion would be more instinctual rather than purposeful and conscientious.  Possibly the most soothing reality of living in total certainty of God loving me is being still with and receptive to God’s presence, without condition, qualification, calibration, breathless activity or wearisome striving.

For me to live out genuine love in my daily horizontal existence, it’s very helpful, even essential, to continually come back to God loving me for my default existence.  Neither you nor I have pre-existing conditions that will ever exclude us from God’s love, based on Romans 8:35 which says that nothing separates us from God’s love!  When I think in this way, it helps me lavishly live love, unlimited and unconstrained!  Let’s not let our pre-existing conditions be hindrances for unconditional love since this is Who God is – Genuine Love!!  We can see examples of this in Jesus’ interactions with the Samaritan Woman at the well in John 4, the woman caught in adultery in John 8, Zaccheaus the tax collector in Luke 19 and lots more!

 

 

 

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, listen, living, prayer, relationships, thought life, uncertainty, values, 1 comment

The Christmas Hangover

My house looks like heaps of people threw a party and didn’t clean up after themselves.  We’ve left dishes on the couch, tissue paper on the floor, trails of wrapping paper residue, cups and mugs on end tables and snacks litter the kitchen counter from us grazing types.  When I scan our family room and kitchen, it looks like we had a magnificent party, enjoying everything!  And rightfully so because we celebrated the birth of the Savior of the world!!  We celebrated that God entered human existence as a baby, along with shepherds and magi discovering God’s genuine love displayed in human skin!

How could we not celebrate and party!?!?!!!

So the day after Christmas, my house looks like a party hangover and maybe there’s also some food coma hangover from the sugar, treats and tasty delectable that we enjoy on this special celebration.

Once we get some helpful caffeine in the bloodstream, we’ll begin the clean up and recovery process, restoring order and more healthy eating choices.  And while we sweep, rinse, restore order and prevent bug infestations, I don’t want to throw out the baby with all the cleaning.   Because Jesus’ birth isn’t merely for Christmas and then it’s over.

Jesus’ birth is a great reminder of many things that we’d be wise to continue cherishing in our daily living and pondering moments.  While we clean up from Christmas, let’s keep these treasures readily accessible for our attention:

  • Genuine love:  no one expresses genuine love better than Jesus so it’s good to stay in His love which helps us stay loving.
  • Pervasive peace:  one of Jesus’ titles is the Prince of Peace.  Having Jesus in our hearts can keep us peaceful inside when the world around us could be sheer chaos or deadly silence.
  • All knowing:  having wisdom in our daily living is essential, so looking to Jesus helps us have solutions for problems, answers for questions and provisions for needs.
  • All powerful:  reading through Jesus’ life in the Gospels gives me great assurance that nothing in my life is impossible for Him, including me!
  • Ever present:  maybe one of Jesus’ greatest Christmas presents to us is His presence and He never leaves nor forsakes us!

As we wrap up this Christmas season and begin to close out this year’s activities and responsibilities, let’s be sure to carry over Jesus’ life into our daily existence.  We can do this by grabbing some time in the Bible (maybe read a Psalm per day or grab a daily Bible reading plan from a quick google search), making a playlist on our phone with our favorite Jesus songs, using red lights as reminders to look for Jesus when we’re driving, put a helpful Bible verse on the lock screen on your phone, make a pact with a friend to do daily reciprocal prayer for each other, join a small group at church and heaps more ways!  Instead of a Christmas hangover, let’s have a Jesus carry over, being purposeful to find Jesus in meaningful ways throughout each day!

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Christmas, cooking, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Weak Coffee

My dad used to say, “Weak coffee makes you sick.”  So whenever I can see through coffee, it reminds me of my dad & his helpful observations 🙂

Let’s also think about our Heavenly Father & His helpful observations, particularly about each of us. Here are some of God’s observations that can help us today:

  • God sees you through the lens of genuine love.
  • God says that nothing in your life is impossible.  
  • God has peace for your soul no matter what’s happening around you.

I’d encourage you to listen to God’s observations during this day & you’ll be very encouraged!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, cooking, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Preparing for Mother’s Day

On Sunday, we celebrate the annual holiday, Mother’s Day. For lots of people, this is a wonderful day to remember the great care, nurture, sacrifices & relationships with their moms. And for other peeps, this holiday pokes a wound to remind them who their moms were not. So this holiday has a wide spectrum of reaction in consideration of our upbringing.
But more importantly, let’s be committed to the truth that God is our Heavenly Father, as reveled & confirmed to us by Holy Spirit, based on Romans 8:16. Let’s be certain that we honor our earthly moms but let’s live from the reality that we are the sons & daughters of our Heavenly Father. In this truth, we have our true identity, genuine love, unlimited power, eternal life, infinite resources & grace beyond the sky. Happy Mother’s Day!
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Posted by Sarah in busy, cooking, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 0 comments

Celebrate Genuine Love!

Being that today is Halloween, the last day of October, it’s a great day to celebrate genuine love!  I say this because Halloween was always a scary holiday to me, with all the skeletons, tombstones, ghosts and macabre images.  When I was a kid, this day often left me fearful.  In contrast, 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear.  So instead of accentuating fear, today I choose to celebrate genuine love!

Here are a few suggestions that might help you celebrate genuine love today:

  • Look for people to encourage throughout today – what they’re wearing, nice hair, friendly smile, beautiful eyes, witty wisdom & LOADS more
  • Let Jesus love you throughout today – reject the enemy’s lies that say you’re inadequate, have no hope, going to fail, or that you’re a mutant
  • Smile & watch for gratitude opportunities – clean air, warm sun, nice coffee / tea, clean water, beautiful trees & HEAPS more!!

Happy Genuine Love day to you!!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Doing Difficult

What is difficult for you to do?  Do you struggle with self control on various things like eating, sleeping, Netflix or something like that?  Is it difficult for you to engage with people or do time alone?  All of us have things that are difficult to do. And sometimes we just flat out don’t do what’s difficult even though we know we should. 

Here’s some help, possibly, to do difficult:

  • Start w what’s most difficult & finish with what’s easiest. This can help you keep going
  • Coach the mental game – recognize that your thoughts play a role in doing what’s difficult
  • Pray for Heavenly Help – Holy Spirit helps us do difficult things
  • Celebrate progress & not just completion 🙂

Here’s to doing difficult stuff!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Anniversary Celebration!

My husband and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage this week & that’s a noteworthy achievement!  It’s noteworthy for lots of reasons such as:

  • lots of seasons and changes to navigate: doing hefty careers, an intense baby season, growing in our careers, raising teenagers & a few medical challenges along the road
  • distinct personalities:  we are very different in our personalities, so this requires us to give each other lots of grace, space & affirmation to be unique but complementary rather than combative
  • prickly insecurities:  just because we’re married doesn’t mean our individual insecurities don’t get triggered from time to time; so it’s helpful to recognize such weak spots & decide to nestle into genuine love 🙂

I’m definitely a better person from being married to Reece & there’s no doubt that God has helped us to grow in our relationship over the last 25 years!  Let’s remember that being a person who is growing in character, love and strength is a decision we make one day at a time!  And be certain to celebrate the milestones along the journey!

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Posted by Sarah in family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 1 comment

Happy Rest Day :)

In the US today, we celebrate a national holiday called, “Labor Day.”  The official year that it was started in America was 1882 & laborers had to strike to get the day “off” for a pause or rest from work.  And I think it’s the universal human experience that we all need a pause from work.  Perhaps we agree on this because of Divine design.
If you think about it, even God took a pause on the seventh day of the Creation week, when He rested.  And to reinforce the need for rest, God established the Sabbath as one of the Ten Commandments.  The Sabbath is one day a week to rest from our work & set our attention / affection toward fellowship with God.

So let’s celebrate not only success and productivity, but also rest because without rest our souls become thin, weary, unsettled and broken.  Happy Labor Day!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Being Wasteful

My dad grew up in the Depression, so i was raised with a firm appreciation for not wasting anything.  To this end, he composted kitchen scraps, saved leftover paint remnants in addition to finding bargains at garage sales, etc.  In Matthew 26:8, Jesus’ disciples had the same mindset when they asked Him about a chick wasting expensive oil, since she poured it on Jesus’ head, as an expression of worship.

And worshipping Jesus is never wasteful, regardless of what people may say.

Indeed, let’s be extravagant in how we worship Jesus!  The chick in Matthew 26 was extravagant in worshipping Jesus, using expensive oil.  And in our modern culture, we can be extravagant in worshipping Jesus by:

  • spending time with Jesus, giving Him our attention
  • being generous with our finances in church, with ministries and to the poor
  • choosing to wholeheartedly participate in the worship time at our churches whether we like the songs or not
  • expressing gratitude and worship to God before we go to bed each night

 

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Posted by Sarah in busy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 0 comments