Category Archives: Love

Superhuman Part 2: Finding Your Superpower

Superhuman, imposed on a heart.

by Lydia Floren

Last week, we talked about the challenge of loving others with God’s impossible love, something we can only do with His superhuman strength.  Today, let’s explore how we can access that love, how it can be such a reality in our lives, that it becomes easier and easier to love others in the same way.

Two boys in super hero costumes - Captain America

So, how can we love others with this superhuman, “1 Corinthians 13”, love?  It starts with learning to be loved, choosing to accept, experience, and live in the reality of God’s impossible all-encompassing love.

Choose to

  1. Accept the reality of God’s love. Acknowledge the truth that even though you don’t deserve it, God loves you in this mind-blowing, all-encompassing way.

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. Love never fails;    

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

  1. Experience the reality of God’s love. Knowing something, in your head, is the starting place, but experience is what solidifies the truth in your heart and spirit.  Only when you make the decision to trust God’s love, will you experience the reality of it.  What does that look like?  It means letting go, and accepting His help/grace. Letting go of the need for control, of self-hatred, or guilt, or hurt, or fear, or self-centeredness, or self-protection – whatever has been dominating your life, and holding you captive. And then, grabbing on to the truth that He will take care of you, and lead you in the way you need to go. It means resting in the truth that you are loved, cared for, valued, important, wanted. That you belong. That you are safe.
  2. Live in the reality of God’s love. Living in the reality of God’s love for you, is simply this:  practicing steps 1 and 2, over and over again, until they become a deep habit that marks the fabric of your life.

The more we live in the reality of God’s love for us – the more we acknowledge the truth of it, and then choose to trust it – the more power we have to love others in the same way.

We love because He first loved us.  1 John 4:19

Meme with "be loved, love.  Soak in God's love & shine."

Are You My Answer?

Little bird with caption:  Are You My Answer?

by Lydia Floren

Are You My Mother? is a classic children’s story about a little bird who broke out of his shell and found himself alone in his nest. Somehow, he knew he had a mother and that he needed her, even though she wasn’t there. So, he hopped down from his perch and started looking for her. Each time he spied a potential candidate (animal or object), he would ask, “Are you my mother?”   And each time, he got the same response, “No, I am not your mother.”

The baby bird continued searching until he finally encountered his mom.  Curiously, he didn’t ask her, “Are you my mother?”,  because when he saw her, he immediately recognized her.

“I know who you are,” said the baby bird. 

“You are not a kitten or a hen or a dog. You are not a cow or a Snort”

“You are a bird, and you are my mother!”

We can often wander around in our lives in search of someone or something, to take care of our deepest needs.

We don’t use words, but like that little bird, we do ask the same question over and over again, “Are you my answer?”,  or in other words, “Will you be the person or thing that will fill that big hole in my heart?”

For example, we can do this when we rely on attention or accomplishments to bolster our self-esteem. Or when we focus more on what we can get out of a relationship than what we can give.  “Are you my answer?”, we query. “Will you give me the sense of significance, the feeling of belonging I so crave?”

But no person, or thing, is able to satisfy our deep hunger for unconditional love. Only God-Who-Is-Love can do this.

“Are you my answer?”

When we ask God, His response is always the same:

“Yes, dear Child, I am your answer.  Come. Lay down your burden of shame and self-contempt. Stop trying to fix yourself.  Rest in this truth: you are completely known and fully loved by Me. God. You are so precious to me that I chose to die for you. Nothing you do – past present or future – will ever change my love for you.”

When we truly encounter God’s love, when we allow it to seep into the core of our being, we don’t need to ask. We know. He, the God-Who-Is-Love, is our answer – is The Answer – to our deepest need.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.   Ephesians 3:17-19

Huge tree with tangle of roots and the caption, "Be rooted and grounded in love."

What I Want

12:11:15 What I wantby Lydia Floren

Sometimes I avoid God.  I’m not even sure why.  Maybe I am afraid.  Or I don’t want to feel guilty.  Or maybe I don’t want to change.  Or I don’t want to face myself.  I don’t.  I don’t.  I don’t.

What do I want?

I DO want to press past my guilt to forgiveness.
I DO want to be free of my compulsions.
And I DO long to—need to—hear God say:

All is well, Child.  All is well.  I love you right now, just as you are.  Always have.  Always will.  There is nothing you can do that will change that.

I am here.  I am not going anywhere.  There is no need to be afraid.  You are safe.  You are not on this journey alone.

Now come to Me, Dear One.
Step into My love
Receive My embrace.
Tell Me what’s on your heart.
Listen to My wisdom.
First Come.
Then follow.

What I want – what I need – is to be loved.  Only then can I love as He calls me to love.  No need to avoid God.  He is the best thing that ever happened to me!
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Matt. 11:28 NIV

We love because He first loved us.  1 John 4:19

This holiday season, Be loved.  And then Love.  Soak in God’s love and shine!

Be Still and Know that I am God.

be-still-recby Lydia Floren

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

In the swirl and stress of the holidays, or just daily living, God often uses these 8 words restore my soul.

Be still and know that I am God.

The simple acts of being and knowing free us from the Twilight Zone of Anxiety, the Abyss of Never Enough:

Be still and know that I am God.

Be.

  • Just be.
  • Be aware of being alive. Appreciate that you have a beating heart, and air to breathe.
  • Settle into the truth that
    • You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
    • You are wanted. Treasured. Valued. Loved.
    • You are known and you are loved.

Be still.

  • Just stop. Rest. Take a breath. Or two. Be still.
  • Be still on the inside, as well as the outside.
  • Release all those thoughts swirling around in your head.
  • Take your mind off your responsibilities, your concerns, those things in your head that are nagging you.
  • Let go right now, and just be still.

 And know.

  • Let truth sink in.
  • Be aware of what is real, and what is not.
  • What is beyond seeing and understanding—and in the realm of just knowing.

Know that I

  • Know the Person who made you,
  • Who knows you better than you know yourself.
  • Who loves you with an everlasting love, which is in no way dependent on what you do or don’t do.
  • Who lives within you.
  • Who has your back.
  • Who has shown, and will show you how to live.
  • Who will never steer you wrong.
  • Who goes after you when you stray—deliberately or unintentionally–and brings you back to the path of life and joy.
  • Who restores your soul, leads you into the light and away from the darkness.
  • Who will never leave you or reject you.
  • Who keeps you safe—protects your identity, value, belonging and calling—for all eternity.

 Know that I am God.

Know that this person–your heavenly father, your friend, your one and only guide in life, your creator—is God.

He is God.

He is

  • 100% good.
  • The most powerful being in the universe.
  • Wise
  • Trustworthy
  • Present
  • compassionate
  • understanding
  • forgiving
  • uncondemning
  • full of life and joy
  • available
  • ready to show you a better way to live
  • Committed to walking with you on that way.

Be Still and Know that I AM GOD.  Psalm 46:10

How has this truth changed your life?  Please share with us!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Living Grace

living grace titleby Lydia Floren

Do you ever feel bogged down? Not by anything external, but by what goes on inside your head?  I know I do. Regrets and  hurts sap my strength. Worries and  frustrations drain away my joy.

Lately I’ve been figuring out a cool way to get back on track every day, so that I can go forward refreshed and energized:  I’ve been learning to pray GRACE.

Pray GRACE:

Give thanks

Release

Accept

Continue

Enjoy

 

For example, in the morning I might pray something like this:

 

Give thanks

Thank You Father, for life that is in me and in the world around me. Thank You for air to breathe, a beating heart, five senses and four limbs. Thank You for the past, present, and future. Thank You for You:  Your goodness, Your commitment to be with me and within me, Your love and care. Thank You for the particular situations that are on my mind, that You work all things to good, that You understand and will lead me in the right way to look at things, and how best to proceed.

 

Release 

Father, I know I have been carrying around all kinds of baggage, and right now I just want to leave everything right here at Your feet.  I release

  • my self-reliance: those times that I have gone my own way instead of your way.
  • regret for what I have done that may have hurt myself or others, and
  • any hurt that I am experiencing as a consequence of someone’s actions for what has been done to me.
  • my habit of beating myself up over stuff. Thank you that you do not want or expect me to live under condemnation, a slave of shame or guilt. That is precisely what you gave your life for.
  • grudges I am holding against others: resentment and/or unforgiveness
  • things dragging me down that I’m not consciously aware of: You know even more than I do what those things might be.

Accept 

Thank you for my life

  • where I am in time and space,
  • my unique gifts and talents, my incredible value, and belonging to you and the family of God
  • the privilege of joining with You to love those around me, and that you use me just as I am, not “perfect” by my own false standards.

Thank You for You

  • You being with me and within me, and never leaving me.
  • That You are committed to me: You have my back.
  • that you are Truth, and You have freed me.

Thank you for the freedom

  • of your forgiveness
  • from hanging on to hurt, condemnation, and the expectations of others.
  • From fear as I leave my worries with you.

Thank you that every day is a new day that I can embrace with anticipation.

Continue

Help me to continue moving forward in the direction You’ve already led me.

  • According to the plans carefully—and prayerfully– formulated.
  • Utilizing the habit(s) you have led me to establish
  • keeping the commitments you have asked me to keep.

Thank you that you fill in the blanks of my imperfect efforts with your perfect sufficiency.

And as I go, thank you that you will show me what  changes you might want to make in those plans, habits and commitments.

 Enjoy today

Thank you for the constants in my day:  your love, your presence, your commitment to provide and protect and lead me, your working in this world.

Thank You for the unexpected:

  • the gifts You give me throughout the day:  a beautiful sky, a smile, a connection, a new friend.
  • the surprising ways You work sometimes. ways I don’t anticipate or understand.
  • opportunities to love and bless those around me.
  • unique ways You communicate with me through your still small voice, your word, circumstances, your creation, and other people

Praying GRACE—it’s a great way to live!

PS:  I am really excited about this GRACE model!  I am finding all kinds of applications for it.  Expect to hear more about Living Grace in the near future!  Below is a tool that can be printed on a 4×6 card so you can try Praying Grace, filling in your own blanks. (You can also find this on our Pinterest page)

Take a moment and share with us:  How are you living grace in your day?  

grace workpage 4x6

Does God Have Favorites?

Does God have favorites? Does God love me?

By Lydia Floren

I have a confession: It has always annoyed me when Jesus’ disciple, John, described himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.”   When I see those words, my insecure, overachiever brain thinks like this:

  • Phase 1: Annoyance: “Boy, John really thought a lot of himself!”
  • Phase 2: Insecurity: “Does God have favorites?  I thought He loved everybody.  Does he love some people more than others? Where am I on his favorites list?”
  • Phase 3: Competition:  “What makes John so special?  Personally, I like Peter the best. He was one of the Big Three too, you know. And I’m not so bad either.”
  • Phase 4: Reality check: “You know, John didn’t call himself ‘The disciple Jesus loved MOST’, or ‘The ONLY disciple Jesus loved.’  He simply called himself ‘the disciple Jesus loved.’”

The truth takes awhile to work its way through my convoluted thought processes, but eventually I get it:  John wasn’t proud of being loved by Jesus.  He was awed by it.   John had experienced Christ’s love so profoundly that it had become THE defining characteristic of his life.  To John, Christ’s love was a magnificent gift, a bright light that obliterated all his faults and failings.

For example, In the gospel of John it is interesting to see what John didn’t say about himself.  He didn’t identify himself by his

  •   Importance:  “John, one of the Big Three”  (Peter, James and John),  or
  •   Role: the only disciple Jesus asked to care for His mother Mary,  or
  •   Occupation:  “the Fisherman Disciple”, or
  •   Family connection: John, a son of Zebede.
  •   Accomplishments:  the NYT bestselling author of 4 books in the Bible—yes, THE BIBLE.

John never said that he was “the disciple that loved Jesus,” although his life showed that he did love Him. John understood that even his ability to love was due to Christ’s love for him:  “We love,” he pointed out in 1 John 4, “because He first loved us.” 

I imagine John experienced Jesus’ love most profoundly when he was at his worst. John discovered that Jesus’ love did not waiver when he was imperfect, off track, or had his priorities mixed up.  Jesus loved John just the same when he…

  • Cowered in the boat while his buddy, Peter, climbed out and walked on water.
  • Tried to manage things, like shooing the kids away, or sending the 5000 to scavenge for supper.
  • Stood by while his helicopter-mother jockeyed for a better position for him in heaven.
  • Conked out  – in spite of Jesus’ plea to stay awake and pray – in Jesus’ greatest hour of need.
  • Hightailed it, when Jesus was arrested, and when they tore his clothes off while chasing him, he kept on running naked.

In his darkest times, John could understand that Jesus’ love was a gift with no strings attached:  it had nothing to do with his performance, and everything to do with God’s grace.  Jesus loves us the same way. God’s love has nothing to do with our performance, and everything to do with God’s grace.  His love is as constant as the sun’s rise.  So wherever you are – at your “best,” or at your worst, or somewhere in between – claim this truth by saying today:   “I am the disciple Jesus loves.” 

Does God have favorites? Of course He does.  We are each His favorite. 

The steadfast love of the Lord never changes. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning.  Great is your faithfulness, O God. Lamentations 3:22-23

What about you? When do you experience the love of God? 

Breathing In

I have done mouth to mouth resuscitation many times in my medical career.  I have performed it on apneic newborns, overdose victims, and heart attack sufferers.  Like anything, mouth to mouth is pretty routine when you have done it enough, kind of like riding a bike, but it is important to know the process.  To do it effectively, each of the following steps must be followed, and each done in sequence:

  1. Check to see that nothing is obstructing airflow into the patient’s lungs.
  2. Position the neck so the airway is straight, and pinch the patient’s nose.
  3. Take a deep breath in.
  4. Seal  your mouth over the patient’s mouth, and blow.
  5. Observe the patient’s chest, to be sure it rises and falls.

It is amazing how effective this simple little procedure is, and how often it has saved a person’s life.

God breathes life into us in a different way, a more enduring way, and helps us in turn to breathe life into those around us.  Jesus said:

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.  (John 10:10 NASB)

I want to live life abundantly, and help others to do the same, but often my efforts have seemed futile or ineffective.  Even worse, they seemed to drain me.  This important truth is changing my life:

In order to give love to others, I must first receive love from God. I must take a deep breath in—soak in God’s presence, and His love for me personally.  The more life-giving love I receive, the more I have, and the more I have to give.

Step #3:  Take a deep breath in. 

embrace God's lifechanging love

How does one take a deep breath in of God’s presence and love?

This is what has worked for me so far:

  • Make space in my life to be still and quiet, usually in the early morning.
  • Remember that everything in life, including life, is a gift from the father above.
  • Focus on the fact that God is with me, and within me, and loves me, and is taking care of me.
  • Thank God for who He is, what He is doing, what He has done, and what He will do.
  • Listen for His still small voice in the morning.
  • Be aware of the many ways He chooses to communicate with me throughout the day.
  • Make it your number one priority.  This is probably the most important suggestion I can give.  On your “to do” list, put this item at the top every day:
  1. Be loved.

Be loved.

Breathe in God’s life-giving love every day.

It is the most important thing you can do.

His love will give you the joy-filled life you so desire.  In turn He will empower you to breathe life into those around you.

We love, because He first loved us.  (1 John 4:19 NASB)

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.   (Job 33:4 NASB)

And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us.  God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  (1 John 4:16 NASB)

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”   (Jeremiah 31:3b NASB)

Share with us:  How have you learned to breathe in God’s presence and love every day?  What works for you?  

God breathes life into us