Thursday, February 17, 2011

2. My Mom

(Many apologies for my tardiness in posting this. I'll try to be better on the rest of my list!)

Here are some adjectives to get us started on this one : athletic. beautiful. caring. determined. educator. friend. gifted. helpful. intelligent. joyous. kindhearted. loving. mama k. nicknamer. oleta's daughter. patient. quality time. realistic. sarcastic. thoughtful. unifying. verbalist. wise. youthful.

(#50 is my mom!)

Beautiful: While my mom is indeed beautiful on the outside, the most beautiful part of who she is lies beneath the surface. Her servant heart, genuine consideration for everyone she meets, and patience with me over the past 30 years makes her truly beautiful.

(We LOVE the Care Bears!)

Determined: One of my favorite things about my mom is her determination to help me see situations in life from every possible angle. Her determination to teach me how to solve my own problems, resolve my own conflicts, and live out what I claim to believe. While I know she is always there to help me up when the crutches of life are being kicked out from under me, she has helped me develop a strength that I never knew I'd need, the ability to think for myself, and how to look at life with open eyes and an open heart knowing everything happens for a reason.

(So true, especially in the eyes of a 9th grade English teacher! I don't know how she does it!)

Friend: In my life I have realized that not many people can consider their mom to be one of their best friends. What a blessing it is to be able to say that about the most influential, strongest, faithful prayer warrior that I know. I love that even when I don't know what to say, she knows what I'm thinking. I love that as soon as I walk in the room, she knows if something is wrong. I love that she sees far more potential in me than I have ever seen in myself. I love that I have been called a carbon copy of the most important woman in my life. My mom. My friend.

(One of my favorite things to do is listen to her play the piano!)

Helpful: From helping me with projects when I was young, to editing papers for me through high school and college, to refining resumes for me as an adult I certainly would not be where I am today without her help!

(I get my love for books and reading from my mom!)

Joyful: The house is clean. The fridge and pantry are full. All of the beds have clean sheets. Why? The kids and grand kids are coming home. This is the time I see my mom with the biggest smile on her face. Nothing feels better than pulling up to the house and seeing her on the front step waiting. Big hug. Bags carried into the house. Let the conversations begin. Pure joy.

(Friendly and generous by nature!)

Lucky: For one very obvious reason... I'm her daughter! :)

Mama K:
(She loves her Kaycin and Madilyn!)

Nicknamer: I love hearing stories about students in my mom's classes. Teaching English for the past 30 years means she has some pretty good ones to share. One of my favorite things that she does when a new school year begins is she makes up nicknames for some of her kids. I remember her telling me one time that she remembers what it was like to be the shy, quiet kid in the classroom that never really got noticed because she wasn't a troublemaker. I can definitely relate to this. So she makes up nicknames for the ones who seem like outcasts or that no one seems to notice. The reason is because she wants them to know that she sees them, she notices them, and she cares enough about them to make up a silly nickname. I can't even imagine how it makes those students feel, even if they won't admit it. They are teenagers, after all.

Oleta's Daughter:
(Two beautiful, amazing, women of God - my mom and my Gran!)

Prayerful: No one on this earth prays for me more than my mom does. She has helped me see that there is power in prayer and reminds me that the Bible tells us that we should pray about everything, pray without ceasing. I know that I have made it through countless, seemingly hopeless situations in my life because my mom was praying for me. Nothing means more than knowing that.

Quality Time:
(She loves her grand babies!)

Realistic: Over the past 5 or so years I have become a dreamer, a visionary. I love that I have developed the ability to see beyond my current situations and dream of what things could be like or envision life done this way or that. While I wouldn't say that my mom lacks the ability to dream or visualize, she is oftentimes the little dose of reality I need before I jump too far into the "what if" category. She brings me back to earth. Never hindering me from being a visionary, but helping me keep things right where they need to be. Focused.

(Definitely got my sarcasm from my mom. Oh, and we love Friends!)

Thoughtful: From birthdays to Christmas to exam weeks to Valentine's Day. For as long as I can remember my mom has always thought to send a card or a box of goodies to me whether in college or to my office at work. She doesn't forget anything! My first day at work at ETBU, she sent me a plant. The plant didn't last very long, as I don't think I ever watered it, but it's the thought that counts. Always thinking ahead. Always thinking about others more than herself.

(She's the glue that holds us all together!)

Verbalist: One skilled in the use of words. I love having conversations with my mom because I feel like I learn new words each time we talk. She is great with words - perhaps being an English teacher for 30 years is the reason why - and I know that I get my love for words from her. We both love to read and write, which is something I am so glad we share.

(Growing up, this hung on the wall in my bathroom. I used to read it every morning and now, as an adult, it's something that comes to mind often. The wisdom that pours out of my mom's mouth astounds me. I pray I have even a fraction of her wisdom to share with my children.)

Youthful: Teaching 9th grade Engligh. Teaching 4th grade Sunday School. Getting on the floor, playground, or in and out of bounce houses with Kaycin and Madi. Helping with youth activities. Faithfully serving at Vacation Bible School every summer. Always willing to do whatever she can for the success of the program or organization. Always focused on reaching kids, students, adults with the love and grace of Christ.

I know I skipped 2 letters but they are "x" and "z" so I'm going to ask you to go ahead and get over that. Haha.

There are so many things I could say about my mom. Wife. Mother. Grandmother. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Teacher. Friend. Pages and pages of paragraph after paragraph, but I tried to go with a format that might be a little bit more pleasing to the reader. My mom and I have definitely been through our ups and downs, as all moms and daughters do, but I love the fact that I can adequately describe her as the strongest person I know, the woman with more wisdom than anyone else I know, and one of my very best friends.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

1. Jesus

Let me start this one by saying that Jesus falls under a completely different category of "love" than other items you will read about later such as baseball, music, or sleep. The love I have for Papacita's salsa cannot in any way, shape or form be even remotely compared to the love I have for the One who died for my sins, accepts me completely as I am, and knows everything there is to know about me and yet loves me with an undying love that I can't even begin to comprehend. No, that's not the kind of love I'm talking about here. This is what I mean...

The Greek word agape is often translated "love" in the New Testament. How is "agape love" different from other types of love? The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. Unlike our English word “love,” agape is not used in the Bible to refer to romantic love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Agape love is unique and is distinguished by its nature and character.

Agape is love which is of and from God, whose very nature is love itself. The Apostle John affirms this in 1 John 4:8: “God is love.” God does not merely love; He is love itself. Everything God does flows from His love. But it is important to remember that God’s love is not a sappy, sentimental love such as we often hear portrayed. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. He loves the unlovable and the unlovely (us!), not because we deserve to be loved, but because it is His nature to do so, and He must be true to His nature and character.

It all starts here. It all starts with Him. Nothing else in life matters unless we get this right and understand that there is NOTHING we can do to escape the love of Christ. (Romans 8:38-39)

God’s love is displayed most clearly at the Cross, where Christ died for the unworthy creatures who were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), not because we did anything to deserve it, “but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). The object of agape love never does anything to merit His love. We are the undeserving recipients upon whom He lavishes that love. His love was demonstrated when He sent His Son into the world to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and to provide eternal life to those He sought and saved. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for those He loves.

In the same way, we are to love others sacrificially. Sacrificial love is not based on a feeling, but a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own. If we are to love as God loves, that love—that agape—can only come from its true Source. This is the love which “has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us” when we became His children (Romans 5:5). Because that love is now in our hearts, we can obey Jesus who said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another” (John 13:34). This new commandment involves loving one another as He loved us sacrificially, even to the point of death. But again, it is clear that only God can generate within us the kind of self-sacrificing love which is the proof that we are His children. “By this we have known the love of God, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). Because of God’s love toward us, we are now able to love one another.

With that said, let me say this...nothing else I say today, tomorrow, or 10 weeks from now matters unless you grasp this. If you don't read anything else I write, I hope you understand that there is a God who is bigger than you, more than capable of handling life's ups and downs, and who longs for a relationship with you that resembles an "agape" type of love.

If you have questions or want to know more, I would be truly honored to dive deeper into this with you. Making the decision to follow Christ will be the most important decision you will ever make and I'd be thrilled to help you get there.

Teaser for tomorrow : "Be good. Be sweet. I love you." -- My mom

The 50 Things I Love Most Challenge...

Although I am calling this a challenge, it is actually more of an exercise to get me writing again. I came up with an idea to blog about the 50 things I love most in the whole world. The 50 things that, today, I think it would be difficult to eliminate from my life. While some have to do with people and others are more "luxuries" that I am able to enjoy, they still fall under this category.

I read one time that you know your true passions, your true loves, by what you spend your time doing and how you spend your money. I took this into consideration while making my list of 50 items. Some are quite silly, others are quite obvious, while some might be a little surprising to those who know me. This is all in fun, with a little serious mixed in, but a challenge/exercise I am excited to begin.

The plan is to write about one thing each weekday. I'm not typically around a computer over the weekend so I won't set myself up to fail by requiring a post on Saturday and Sunday. Monday through Friday, for the next 10 weeks, I will blog about the next item on my list. With the exception of the first 8 (my family members), they are in no particular order.

So hopefully you will find this interesting enough to keep reading. Oh, and I will mix in some pictures for those of you who find it daunting to read a wordy blog. Feel free to comment if you feel so inclined. The first post will be published tomorrow... Aren't you so excited?!? Stay tuned!

Below is a teaser picture for one of the items on my list - this is no surprise to anyone...