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Archive for the ‘love’ Category

ginkgo quote 3.jpg‘Live in harmony with one another’

Words spoken every Sunday –

part of a blessing as we leave, but not always heard or taken to heart.

Today I hear those words loud and clear, as though spoken with a megaphone. These words meant to bless and encourage, this morning they convict.

The last 48-hours have been far from harmonious for me.

A trip to Chicago with my husband and youngest son brought out my Mrs. Hyde. Who is this crazy, uninvited woman in the car with us who lashes with the tongue, cuts with ugly words, who absorbs the stress of traffic, running late, and wrong turns, and spits out arrows of blame and accusations only to fuel an exchange of heated words and hurt feelings?

Far from my finest moment.

Far from a life of grace.

And that’s only one example that I’m brave enough to share with you.

Then these gentle words spoken directly to me as I sit in the pew, God speaking right in my ear, a holy arrow bypassing my conscience and going straight to my heart:

‘Live in harmony’.

What exactly does that mean – to live in harmony? Is it all of us standing in a circle, holding hands and singing “Kum-ba-Yah” or “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” with coke in hand? Of course not. Rather a harmonious life is one filled with peace instead of drama, patience instead of quick tempers, understanding instead of assumptions, and forgiveness instead of grudges.

We are all far from living a life like that.

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As I dwell on this more, I think about what harmony means in music – this combination of simultaneously sounded notes that produces a pleasing effect. Translation – living lives that support and compliment each other. When someone in my life has the melody – melancholy or joyful – I must willingly step back to be supporting harmony, and hopefully vice versa. Sometimes I need to put my own wants, needs, and opinions aside to make way for someone else’s.  And a lesson well-learned on the road to Chicago – sometimes the best harmony is the one unheard – when the tongue is kept silent so the ears can hear the melody of others. Saint Paul says:

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Could humility be essential to living in harmony? Putting others first. Sacrificing self. Counting others more significant than self. Humility. Yes, I see it’s importance, but it’s not so easy for the ‘me first-ers’, ‘I know best-ers’, and ‘it’s not my fault-ers’. Somehow being humble has a negative connotation, but perhaps humility is misunderstood.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” C.S Lewis

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Love is the other key ingredient. Letting love lead and fuel conversations, rather than anger and self-righteous thoughts. Remembering that I am loved by a God who is patient, understanding, and offers forgiveness and peace, should spur me on to show the same for those in my life.

Daily I fail like on that road trip. The tongue often speaks before the mind can tell it not to. Apologies and forgiveness are part of the music woven in a life, and the weekly encouragement to live harmoniously becomes a necessary reminder. There is blessing in humility, whether we have the melody or the harmony of a moment. In God’s eyes, being humble and letting love lead our actions and reactions, it’s all sweet melody.

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Blessings,

Tracy

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I’m honored once again to have one of my devotions featured over at A Word For Women. I struggled with this one for days – so many possible angles and ways to write about God’s love. When it finally came, I couldn’t stop writing about the many ways  . . . praying this will touch your heart and move it closer to His.
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song of songs
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‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
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It’s always made me a little uncomfortable
anytime our relationship with God is set in a romantic context.
Falling in love with God.
Just doesn’t seem right to look it like that.
Maybe it’s my German-Lutheran upbringing.
Yet as I study more about Him
delving deeper in the Word,
I see the Bible as one long love letter to me –
to each of us.
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How many times does He say “I love you”?
Over and over again, it’s written with every stroke of pen.
From the very beginning, when I turned my back on Him in the Garden of Eden
lied and hid from Him,
He still sought me,
and gave me a promise that would demonstrate the greatness of His love.
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Through the books of the Old Testament,
when the obstinate people of Israel constantly turned from Him
He said, “I have loved you.”
Isn’t that me?
Every thoughtless sin a slap in His face,
every time I insist on doing life my way,
His heart hurts,
yet still He says, “I love you.”
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How can I read Song of Songs and not see it?
The vastness and tenderness of a love so deep and personal.
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Woven through the life of Jesus
every act was done out of love,
every motive was love
even the cross . . .
the ultimate act of love
each step taken to Calvary
was taken with a heart full of love.
And even though I pounded nails in His hands
He. Still. Loves. Me.
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How can I not fall in love with a God who loves me like that?
A God who relentlessly pursues me,
who holds my bare heart, sees me and knows me
yet loves me unconditionally –
no matter what I have done
or how many times I have done it
He forgives
And He. Still. Loves. Me.
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He woos me with daily reminders of His love.
Each blessing a gift
for me to unwrap and see
that nothing, absolutely nothing
can separate me from His love.
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Who can say that about any relationship?
No matter how many times your heart has been broken, hurt, or disappointed,
I challenge you to take this love dare:
Open yourself up and dare to be loved like this.
Trust your heart to the One who treasures you and will never hurt you.
Open your eyes to see the gifts He lavishes on you.
Open those love letters bound within Scripture,
it’s there that He’s waiting to say to you:
“How do I love Thee? Let me count the ways.”
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Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; 
for love is as strong as death, 
   its jealousy unyielding as the grave. 
It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
–  Song of Songs 8:6
blessings,
Tracy

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The Giver

Advent dec 23

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today’s thought is simple:

give

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you’ve heard of them –

random acts of kindness

maybe you have even experienced one,

being surprised by someone’s unexpected kindness.

there’s joy in being the receiver

but even more joy as the giver

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the love of God that manifests itself at Christmas

was not a random act

 the gift of his son was planned long ago

Jesus was born to bring love,

born to save

a world that so desperately needed him

we desperately need him

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this gift is truly indescribable

the great Giver has blessed us beyond what we deserve

beyond what we can ever repay

so we simply receive with grateful hearts

and respond with overflowing joy,

to give

random or not,

let’s pass it on!

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Blessings,

Tracy

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Advent dec 22

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i’ve been thinking about love this week –

Advent’s fourth candle.

capturing God’s love with a few words isn’t easy

a love so vast and deep

constant, unconditional

boundless, selfless

amazing

and senseless

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senseless because it doesn’t make sense to me –

how the God who created the universe,

the great I am,

can love undeserving, unlovable us?

how can he love us so much that

he gift-wrapped that love

and gave us what he loves the most –

his only son.

why would he, who created all things,

come as a vulnerable, helpless baby,

to live among us, his creation,

to save us from ourselves –

it doesn’t make sense

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then he tells us to love one another

and to do an unnatural, difficult thing –

love the unlovable

love those who hurt us

love those who have betrayed us

love those who are hard to love –

that really doesn’t make sense

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draw near with the shepherds

peer in the manger

see tiny hands of God

see love come down

and let it warm you –

that senseless, amazing love

that love that gives us hope, and peace and joy

let it fill you and overflow

and love those who are hard to love

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who can you show that love to today?

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blessings,

Tracy

 

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Advent dec 20

Advent dec 21

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one of my favorite things about Christmas is time with family

the traditions of singing carols, making eggnog,

reading Luke 2 to the kids . . .

we all have our favorite traditions

but traditions change

because life changes

kids grow up,  move away,

start their own families and begin their own traditions

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or maybe life has brought a harder change

one that has dramatically altered the landscape of your family

through a painful loss

leaving a huge hole of emptiness

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here’s the good news

that through all the changes

God doesn’t change

He is constant

He has given us the greatest gift of His love

and that love fills every empty place

every crack and crevice

and begins to makes us whole again

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so those traditions?

remember them, cherish them, be grateful for them

but to dwell there, in the past

denies the joy that can be found in the present

this is where God is

here in the now.

maybe it’s time to begin a new tradition

or maybe it will take all you have just to get through this Christmas.

wherever you are at in life

 you have a gift that’s yours to open –

the gift of God’s love

it is unchanging, abundant, and knows no bounds

let it fill your empty spaces up

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Blessings,

Tracy

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love letters ~ part one

don’t you just love getting letters?

they make me feel so special

especially in this age of texting and emails

handwritten letters have become a lost art

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today, being valentine’s day, reminds me of love letters

and my favorite love letter of all is one that we each have received

yet it seems so personal – like it was written just for me

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it’s the love letter from our loving God which was written ages ago, and yet it speaks to my heart today

like it was written just for me

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all those beautiful words that he uses to tell me how much he loves me

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 He is jealous for me

he wants my whole heart

because he loves me with all of his

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 
   so great is his love for those who fear him; Psalm 103:11

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his love for me is so strong and powerful

 like a hurricane

flooding me with waves of grace and mercy

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Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; 
for love is as strong as death, 
   its jealousy unyielding as the grave. 
It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. –  Song of Songs 8:6

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his love for me runs so deep

so deep that he willingly gave his life for me

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

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he loves you SO much, too

he loves you just as you are

only his love can fill all the empty places in your heart

only his love is everlasting

and never fails

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39 

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revel in his great love for you today

happy valentine’s day

blessings (cont)

11. handmade valentines

12. conversation hearts

13. loveliness in everyday things

14. hearts in nature

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