Archive for ‘Love’

June 8, 2010

My Green Soul


Developing a Green Soul

I deeply believe that deep down in me somewhere, lives a gardener with a green thumb. Many things might account for this belief one of them being the fact that I was brought up under the shadow of a very green thumb; my mum grew everything from Cauliflower to Okra and we ate most of our veggies from her little garden. Of course this is Africa we are talking about and almost everyone’s mother (or Grandmother) had a little farm/garden.

That leads me to the second reason; I am African. I should at least know how to plant corn. Right? Wrong. Though I had a farm of about 6 ridges in which I planted corn and groundnuts when I was about 8 years old. But I digress. The question is why I thought I might have green fingers. Sure I love flowers and plants in general, but does that make one a gardener? Apparently not.

The Experiment

Nevertheless, I have entertained this head trip that I might be a green soul, if there is such a term. The first plant I tried my hands on when I came to Malaysia was the Lucky Bamboo. I have always loved that plant; the way it twists and turns and combines the hardness and solidness of the stalk with the softer more flimsy (yet substantial) elegance of the leaves – kind or like a marriage.

Anyway, after three months the plant seemed to flourish under my inexpert care which consisted primarily of dumping water in the container every other day or so. Encouraged, I ventured into the vast unknown and bought more plants; two Bachelors Buttons, an Evergreen (which we knew as a Christmas tree, growing up) and another plant which name I cannot quite remember.

Not-so-Lucky Bamboo

The first two days, I almost lost the plant with the forgotten name. This was because I had forgotten to replant it so it just sat, miserably in my sitting room. When I noticed the sadly drooping leaves (actually my mum who was visiting at the time was the one who noticed), I was finally spurred to replant the whole lot of them. The Bachelors Buttons flowered once to let me know how they can look then refused to flower again, until this morning. The Lucky Bamboo however, has not been so lucky. It is dying. I think from lack of light – at least we learned photosynthesis in school. This is really sad because the Lucky Bamboo plant is said to be almost impossible to kill.

I guess more than the water dumping, this plant (like every other plant) needs the warmth of the sun to flourish. I suppose love might be the same way.

Love and Nurture

I am doing the Love Dares and it focuses mainly on unconditional love, that is loving the other person whether or not you are loved in return. I definitely subscribe to that because it is what Jesus showed us by going to the Cross. But it is an unnatural state.

If I were asked the colour of love, I guess I would say green. Green is the colour of life and what is life without love? Like every living thing, love needs constant care and nourishment. Loves thrives where its needs are being met, where it is being watered. But more than that, love does best in the warmth of appreciation and care. Love taken for granted does not do well.

Like a plant, you do not get to a point where you can say Alright. I have cared for you for so and so years, it is now time for me to relax. You need to keep nourishing. Remember to say ‘thank you, I appreciate you.’ Do not forget to also say ‘I love you.’ These are the things that keep love going. And just as plants respond to touch, so also does love. That personal touch, the devotion to doing what is best for the loved one, is what in my opinion, makes a soul green.

Despite the yellowing Lucky Bamboo (which by the way is not even a bamboo at all), I am not giving up. I sincerely believe that somewhere in my green soul, resides a green thumb.

May 29, 2010

Love Dare 8 – Commitment


I think a lot of people go into marriage expecting it to be easy. Maybe they’ve seen too many movies. Marriage isn’t easy. Family isn’t easy. Close friendships aren’t easy. The best plan is to expect problems, stay committed, and develop a strategy for getting through the rough times.

- John Maxwell

John says it like it is the easiest thing to do – stay committed. Then again, he does say that we should not expect it to be easy. I was discussing with some friends of mine and we were examining the fact that it was difficult to see a young person stay 5 years at one job; the grass is always greener somewhere else. Not to say those who job-hop are not committed, I suppose in their own way they are committed to their welfare. But that is not what I am talking about here.

Commitment here is in relation to someone or something other than oneself. To understand it better, I checked the meaning:

The state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to a course of action or to another person or persons. – Dictionary.com


    • a consignment to a penal or mental institution
    • the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled
    • Merriam-Webster.com

That is the thing with commitment, it is not a natural state for man. It goes against the grain. Our first instinct is self seeking. That is, we hold on to someone or a cause as long as it is for our personal benefit. Once we cease to benefit from that quarter, it is time to move on.

Commitment says, regardless of if you are benefiting or not, STAY! Hold on. Believe. It is crazy! That is why I love the highlighted definition a consignment to a penal or mental institution. It takes a person who is not normal in the way we view normal to keep holding on to what appears a lost cause. And in a way, choosing to be committed despite every indication to be contrary is a sort of prison…you are bound.

Which is why careful thought and consideration is needed before making a commitment. Expect problems; think, what is the worst that could happen, and prepare for it. Of course, that is easier said than done, we never really know exactly what can go wrong in a relationship of any kind. But if you know in your heart that things could go terribly south then at least you will think twice about making that commitment and if you still choose to make it, there is no going back.

Marriage is a commitment – a romantic relationship is not (most of the time). That is when you get to decide if you really want to make the commitment. Like everything else, there are exceptions. This goes for friendships too. Make a decision to choose your friends and not to just fall into a friendship. True friendship is a commitment to doing and being the best for that person.

Commitment says although I know you are not perfect, I am your biggest fan. Even when I see stuff I do not like, I will not turn away from you. Instead, I will encourage you and pray for you to be the best that you can be.


LD 8:

The list of negatives from yesterday… burn it ladies. Instead of harboring jealous thougths, fueled by all his faults flaws and failures, we are going to intentionally be their biggest fans. Burn that list and tell him how proud you are of him, how much you appreciate him, how deeply you value him. Decide inside that you are going to be his biggest cheerleader. Build him up and openly embrace his victories as your own.

May 9, 2010

Love Even When It Hurts?


Love is one of the most difficult subjects to tackle and I think it is particularly hard for the Jesus follower. Our perception of love is sometimes quite different from what we are told love is. Movies and popular fiction lead us to believe that love is a two-way street. Well, if you read your Bible or have listened to any sermon on love, then you know that love is not always a two-way street. And when it is not, we are called to still keep loving. How absurd is that?

There is this particular woman I have been trying to reach out to for the past four months. I am just about ready to give up. She has rigidly refused to meet me half way. What is worse, she does not really have any friends. I guess she is content the way she is. It is just that each time I am about to throw the trowel, I feel this urge in me to not give up. The recent urge came from my mom. Loving someone who does not want to be loved is a challenge.

I belong to a group of women on facebook called Being Mrs V. We have been treating the Love Dares for some time now. After a break, the lady handling the Dares came up with this:

“…truly loving each other means that we ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS do what’s best for the beloved, deserved or not, easy or not, comfortable or not. We dont do it based on what they do in return. Not at all. We do it because living out God’s kind of love won’t allow anything else.”

(You will have to read the rest here)

That is the absolute truth and a bitter pill to swallow. How is it possible to keep loving even when the object of our love so obviously does NOT deserve that love? Funny, when it is in relation to a partner or a friend or even family, it becomes a riddle of epic proportions. However when it is the love a mother has for her child, the answer seems too obvious does it not?

No matter what a child does, or how undeserving of her love a child is, the mother will always love that child. Now I am aware that not every mother loves her child and not everyone had a mother to love him/her. But let us generalise a bit.

When we hear that someone was really horrible to his mom, we do not automatically think right! Now she is going to stop loving him! In fact, when we hear of a sacrificial love from a mother to a child, we are touched sure. But it does not take us by surprise.

This is the kind of love Jesus had for us. We, who were the most undeserving of the undeserving. He went all the way and even gave up his life for people who did not care. It was a thankless action. And that is the kind of love he expects from all those who follow him and seek to model their lives after him.

I really want to please him with all my heart but sometimes I think he asks for too much. How am I supposed to keep showing love to my husband if he quits doing the same? If he begins to treat me in an unloved manner, am I still supposed to shower him with love? I guess the answer is a resounding YES. I have to keep loving him whether he deserves it or not and whether I feel like it or not. Same goes for other people.

So back to this woman…I am trying to show my love by reaching out. She does not really deserve my love; matter of fact she has rejected it. But I’ll try some more. I am not promising that I will keep trying indefinitely. I do have my limits, despite what it says in 1 Corinthians 13: 7 (Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance).

June 5, 2009

A Song in My Heart…


“I Almost Let Go”

This song by Kurt Carr never ceases to inspire and encourage me. It is a song, which God puts in my heart when I’m really down.

One thing about me, I love to sing. Nothing gives me greater joy (not even writing). When I am heartsore, I cannot sing. When I know that the Lord wants to do a new thing in my life, he does not just give me back my ability to sing, he brings to my heart, a song. This was what he gave me.

Below are the lyrics and a link to the YouTube video of the song. I hope you are blessed and encouraged!

I almost let go.

I felt like I just couldn’t take life anymore.

My problems had me bound

Depression weighed me down.

But God held me close, so I wouldn’t let go.

God’s mercy kept me, so I wouldn’t let go.

I almost gave up.

I was right at the edge of a breakthrough but couldn’t see it

The devil really had me;

but Jesus came and grabbed me,

And He held me close,

So I wouldn’t let go.

God’s mercy kept me,

so I wouldn’t let go.

So I’m here today because God kept me.

I’m alive today,

only because of His grace.

Oh, He Kept me,

God Kept me,

He kept me,

So I wouldn’t let go.

Lead

I almost Let go.

I felt like I just couldn’t take life any more,

My problems had me bound,

depression weighed me down,

God held me close

So I wouldn’t let go.

God’s mercy kept me,

so I wouldn’t let go.

So I’m here today because God kept me.

I’m alive today, only because of His grace.

Oh, He Kept me, God Kept me, He kept me, So I wouldn’t let go

Kurt Carr Singers ‘I Almost Let Go’

May 17, 2009

The Transcience of Life


In the past 9 months, I have been running a mission guest house, catering mostly to missionaries and people who serve God in other ways. Sometimes, we get Honeymooners. These are my favourites and I take special pleasure in serving them (that is probably my romantic streak rearing it’s head).

We had the most recent Honeymoon couple a month ago. I remember them well because the man came with his laptop and when he locked himself away in the den, the new wife came to spend some time with me. That did not happen often though, in fact it was just once. The lady kept throwing up even though she had such an appetite! She 1080946_sad_silhouettejust kept eating yet could not seem to keep any food down. I even remember my assistant making a joke about putting the horse before the cart or something like that. Anyway, I really felt sorry for her and we seemed to bond. I keep a record of the wedding dates of all my Honeymooners and I was really looking forward to sending them an anniversary card next year.

I just found out that she passed away a couple of weeks after they left. I was horrified! I felt so bad, I wept. I wept for her life cut short; for her poor husband – how could he be a widower after three short weeks!

Then I began to think; if he had known he had such a short time with the woman he loved, would he still have married her? I don’t know. I remember once when I was little, I overheard some family friends discussing a woman in that slightly derogatory way Christians have of speaking about a fellow christian who has ‘fallen’. In this case, this ‘sister’ left one of their serious brothers to get married to another less serious one who even wore jeans! Anyway, a few years after the wedding, her husband died. She was a widow before she was 30. They felt it was because she did not obey the will of God, so she was suffering the consequences. Even in my limited understanding, I knew I did not agree with them.

I have never lost anyone I really loved so I cannot say that I know how it feels. But I do know that even if I knew that I would only have a few years with my sweetheart, I would still get married to him and treasure every one of those years. I feel very strongly about that and I guess Jack also felt that way about Jade, the British reality queen who died of cancer not long after they were married.

I believe love should be willing to go the distance, no matter what. I asked my fiance if he would marry me if he knew I had only a few months to live and he answered without thinking too hard about it: He would.

I have a question for you:

If you knew the person you were in love with was terminally ill and had only a few months to live, would you still get married to him or her?

April 22, 2009

Guest Blogger – Living the Christian Life


guest-bloggerSay hello to this month’s Guest Blogger! It’s the second part of Doug’s letter, this one on everyday Christian living. Read the first part here. If you like what you read, be sure to hop over to his blog and let him know how much you enjoyed reading this.

# 1 The sacred/secular myth

All of us (if we are spiritually alive) are God’s ambassadors to the world- period. As I understand the scriptures, all of us are in full time service. Some of us may be pastor/ teachers, some of us may be lawyers ;-) (justice by the way is very close to the heart of God) and some of us may be swinging a hammer for the Glory of God, but this sacred/secular distinction is a crock.

When I read the scriptures and hear Peter telling me ” but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people…” He’s talking about the priesthood of all believers. and when Paul says ” whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” and , present your bodies as living sacrifices,….which is your spiritual worship,” that isn’t just written to those who are in “full time” ministry.

#2 Effective ministry

I have come to the conclusion after reading a multitude of books on discipleship, attending and teaching classes on evangelism that Loving people without pretense is 95 % of effective ministry…know the correct verses to quote is the other 5%. I do not like it when I sense someone is reaching out to me with ulterior motives..so I refuse to do that to the people in my life.

I call it having a “scalp mentality” In the days of the wild wild west in America, the goal of the the native Americans was to see how many “scalps” they could collect. If I sense a pastor (or anyone for that matter) is looking to add me as a notch on his belt then I am not interested in what he is pushing…if they are not interested in me as a person..then who needs to feel used?

#3 Evangelism

Evangelism is a process…it is not just “harvesting” (getting someone saved) It is also tilling the soil (building bridges and relationships into their life) , planting spiritual seeds, watering spiritual seeds and sometimes harvesting . When we pressure people into making a premature “decision” it’s like trying to induce a woman to go into labor before she’s full term.

#4 Transparency

I believe we are more credible when we are willing to admit we don’t always have it all together. If I’m struggling with some life issue..I will not pretend I have it all together…I remember at one point, where we were beside ourselves as parents as our kids began hitting the teen years- I told this guy who was not a believer, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Would you believe that actually made me more credible in his eyes?

Don’t get me started on Christians wearing masks :-) When I am around people who always have this fake smile pasted on their face they give me the creeps.

#5 Evil

I believe all of us are capable of committing all sorts of evil. If someone says to themselves…”I would never do such and such” then I believe the devil has already greased their slide. If King David, a man after God’s own heart, took another man’s wife and eventually had him killed, then you and I are also capable of anything.

#6 Mentors

- I’ve had several, mostly in the form of good authors. Some of the mentors/ books that have the biggest impact on my life include: Charles Swindol. Dropping Your Guard, Strike the Original Match, Corrie Ten Boom, Brother Andrew and Wilkerson (The Cross and The Switchblade) all tell stories from their lives about how God is as active today as he was in the book of Acts. A. W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God impacted me deeply and finally Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church where he articulates what real spiritual maturity looks like. Spiritual maturity is not just cramming my head full of Bible Trivia. Knowledge (while key) is only one sliver of spiritual maturity. The last thing many Christians need to be in is another “Bible Study” or workshop- we need an outlet for the wealth of truth we already know…or we become like the dead sea, always taking in but no overflow, and we wonder why we are spiritually stagnant.

#7 People skills-

You’d think with as much space the Bible devotes to getting along with people Christians would be masters at knowing how to relate to people, how we speak, honor,and love…but that is often not the case. A book (thoroughly rooted in scripture) that helped me in this area is the book by Dale Carnigee “How To Win Friends and Influence People” I can just see the eye rolls (if someone other than yourself ever reads this letter) -especially the more hard core “Bible only” crowd who will only read the Bible..they won’t pick up any other book because according to that school of thought, the bible has everything we need if we just read it.” To them I would ask…how many non-believing friends do you have in your life- or have you burnt all your relationship bridges by now and see this as being persecuted for righteousness sake? Try telling that to Christ on the day of judgment when he asks you why you had such little impact on your culture.

#8 Balance

We are in it for the long haul. I’m not a runner, but I know enough to know, if a person expects to make it to the end of the course, they better pace themselves, that means to me, “burning out for the Glory of God” and burning the candle @ both ends of my life for ministry is just plain stupid. Jesus took time to go to weddings, dinners in peoples homes, quiet times by himself to keep his bearings. A caring Christian can very easily fall into the trap of being a work-a-haulic in the name of dying to self…Our ministry can then become just another way we think we can earn God’s approval and living in the flesh.
I regularly take naps (now) w/o guilt, host live musical events as a way of reaching others, blog, tend an apple orchard, run a bed and breakfast and a plethora of other things to give my life balance. I can assure you, I see way more spiritual fruitfulness now in my life than I ever did when I darkened the door of my local church 4 times a week and was too burnt out to reach out to other people…just my humble opinion ;-)

#9 The Gospel

The word gospel, as I’m sure you know literally means good news. I believe as I am in relationship with God, then his life is flowing through me. The Gospel is not just “Hell insurance”….the gospel is Jesus Christ living his life through me….just as in the Old testament when the presence of God came down and inhabited the tabernacle in the wilderness, and later Solomon’s temple…now that same presence , in theory anyway dwells in this cracked pot, these earthen vessels of you and I.

#10 Sense of humor/and joy

A Christian who evidences a sense of humor and joy is a rarity, and such a powerful tool in the hands of God in drawing people unto himself. Ask yourself- How many truly joyful Christians do you know? Why are they so rare? When I read the accounts of Jesus and how normal non religious types wanted to be around him, I get the sense he was a fun to be around…who had trouble with that? the religious leaders. Who did he have conflicts with? the religious leaders

It is possible to maintain and cultivate a sense of humor in the midst of a broken world. @ one point in our family, when all hell was breaking loose again, I was standing in the Dr’s office as the Dr suggested another one of our kids should be on zoloft. (it’s an anti-depressant) I started laughing- it was either that or go crazy…I asked if it was possible to get a volume discount :-)

If you would like to do a 'Guest Blogger' post,
just leave a comment here and I will get back to you.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.