Tag Archives: love

Mothers’ Day

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Today is Mothers’ Day in Costa Rica.  Since we have lived in the U.S., Mexico and Costa Rica, I think I should get three Mothers’ Days a year.  There are two times of the year when it’s best to make big purchases in Costa Rica.  One is Mothers’ Day and the other is Black Friday… which is neither on a Friday nor are sale prices to be expected, but sometimes you get lucky.  (That idea still catching on down here.)  But Mothers’ Day is the day to make big purchases here.

Though I’m not expecting a car or a refrigerator or even a blender, I would like a coffee date with my husband or maybe, as my 6-year-old says, “a pack of flowers”.  The fresh-cut flowers are one of my favorite things about Costa Rica.  They are cheap and exotic, beautiful and fresh.  Sometimes I buy myself flowers just for the sheer pleasure of having beautiful things in my house.  Nothing makes me “mushy” like getting a bunch of flowers for no reason at all.  I just love that!

So today on Mothers’ Day I will feel sorry for all of you Mothers back in the States who only get one Mothers’ Day per year and who just get ordinary roses or carnations which your husbands pay outrageous prices for.  I will gaze lovingly at my “pack” of lilies, bird-of-paradise, daisies and hibiscus and think about how lucky I am to get three Mothers’ Days per year.

Love is in the details

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pizza faceWhen we were in Youth ministry all those years ago we were poor… dirt poor.  And most of the time we did not get reimbursed for things like having teenagers drop by the house after school for a snack and a bit of conversation.  I always assured the kids that if they stopped by the house I could always make popcorn and Koolade even if I had nothing else in the house.  Sometimes I had enough ingredients to make cookies.  And we tried to keep a stash of frozen pizzas on hand for those spontaneous “parties” when a bunch of kids would land at our house after youth group.  But anyone who knows teenagers knows that they are worse than a plague of locust- they can clean out your pantry in a matter of minutes.

I discovered that many of our kids really liked the strawberry lemonade I made from scratch.  I started freezing large ziplocks full of lemonade to have on hand too.  Eventually I started giving away frozen lemonade as birthday presents to some of my girls who particularly loved it.  It may seem like an odd gift, but I paid attention to what people enjoyed and remembered what made them happy- that was the real gift.  The girls loved getting frozen lemonade for their birthdays.

Here in Costa Rica, in the absence of Starbucks and Caribou Coffee shops, I have started a new trend among our students.  I serve iced coffee.  I have asked various missions teams to bring me bottles of coffee syrups and we set up a regular coffee shop in my kitchen.  Our “regular” students know the formula now and can instruct the newbies in how to prepare the best iced coffee drinks on the planet.

Just because I know someone will ask me for the recipe, I’m going to share it here.  It’s pretty easy.  It’s a cold press base which means you dump a small package of coffee into a pitcher, fill with cold water, and put it in the fridge for 24 hours.  Then you scoop and strain off the grounds and top off the pitcher with more cold water if needed.  That’s the coffee base.  Now you need sweet cream.  This is made my mixing one can of evaporated milk and one can of sweetened condensed milk.  To make the iced coffee drink, start with a cup of ice.  Pour half of the cup full of coffee base and half full of sweet cream.  You can add syrups if you like.  I like to drink mine with a straw… because I like straws. 🙂

Anyhow, my point is that love is in the little things like paying attention to the details of a person, knowing the things they like, remembering their birthday, or being causally gracious when they stop by your house unannounced.  You don’t need to be fancy to show someone they are loved and accepted.  Nothing makes me happier than to see my kitchen full of teenagers or University students munching on handfuls of popcorn and enjoying a homemade iced coffee drink.  Love is in the details.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/uggboy/5287980888/”&gt;|| UggBoy♥UggGirl || PHOTO || WORLD || TRAVEL ||</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/Art/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>CC BY</a>

Without Love this is all Worthless

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I had already been thinking of writing something about 1 Cor. 13 from a missionary point of view when a friend of mine posted this version that she had saved from her language school days. So I decided to save myself some time and just shamelessly share Cindy’s post.  

The point is that without love, missions is pointless.  I think some of us THINK  we have love, but when that emotion is twisted and broken by culture clash, then we realize that what we had was a sort of romanticization of missions.  We loved the IDEA of being missionaries rather than loving Jesus enough to love fallen humans.  

Love isn’t easy.  If you think it’s easy, you aren’t doing it right.  Jesus said even sinners love those who love them, so what’s the big deal if you do the same?  The really hard thing is to love those who don’t love you back, who hate you and your nationality and your skin color, who don’t want you in their country.  Now that’s real, gritty love.

love you

A GUIDE TO CULTURE (According to 1 Corinthians 13)

If I speak with the tongue of a national, without love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I wear the national dress and understand the culture and all forms of etiquette, and if I copy all mannerisms so that I could pass for a national, but have not love, I am nothing.

Love endures long hours of language study, and is kind to those who mock his accent; love does not envy those who stayed home; love does not exalt his home culture; is not proud of his national superiority; does not boast about the way we do it back home; does not seek his own ways; is not easily provoked into telling about the beauty of his home country; does not think evil about this culture.

Love bears all criticisms about his home culture, believes all good things about this new culture, confidently anticipates being at home in this place, endures all inconveniences.

Love never fails, but where there is cultural anthropology, it will fail; where there is contextualization, it will lead to syncretism; where there is linguistics, it will change.

For we know only part of the culture, and we minister to only part.

But when Christ is reproduced in this culture, then our inadequacies will be insignificant.

When I was in America, I spoke as an American, I understood as an American, I thought as an American, but when I left America, I put away American things.

Now we adapt to this culture awkwardly, but we will live in it intimately. Now I speak with a strange accent, but He will speak to the heart.

And now these three remain: cultural adaptation, language study, and love.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/brandoncwarren/4164759025/”>Brandon Christopher Warren</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/Love/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>CC BY-NC</a>

Helping Naomi

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I thought you might like to see some of the pictures from this week.  When Naomi’s house burned to the ground, they lost everything.  Well, not quite.  They found their family Bible, with all its names and dates carefully recorded from generation to generation.  The Bible survived the fire with only singed edges.  They have their family and they have their history in Jesus.  How sweet is that?!

A room full of donations for the families who lost everything.

A room full of donations for the families who lost everything.

Anyhow, we took up a collection among some of my missionary friends in San Jose.  We sent clothes, toys, food, kitchen items, and shoes.

One of the team members from Dothan, Alabama that is here to do construction for us brought an entire suit case full of mens’ clothes just to give away.  None of us knew how necessary those clothes would be to the father and grandfather of one of the families who lost everything.  You should have seen that father pick up the entire suitcase and toss it on his back with such enthusiasm that you would think it was full of nothing but feathers!  He didn’t mind the weight one bit!  The women were even excited about that old suitcase.  I heard them say to each other, “Something to put our clothes it!”

New Clothes for Dad and Grandpa plus a suit case for storage!

New Clothes for Dad and Grandpa plus a suit case for storage!

But my favorite part of the story involves 6 year-old Naomi.  When we asked her about the fire a few days ago she said, “Me queda sin muñecas.”  It left me without dolls.  Then suddenly something clicked in my memory.  At Christmas we went home to Minnesota for a visit.  A friend of ours at our home church was selling some very lovely china dolls in period piece clothing.  I originally planned to buy two, one for each of my daughters.  But my husband said, buy them all and give them to some girls in Costa Rica.  When our friend heard what we wanted to do with the dolls, she said she wanted to GIVE them to us!  We were touched.

So we came home with 4 extra dolls in our suit cases.  And I waited for the Lord to show me who to give them to.  When Naomi lamented the loss of her dolls, I knew what to do.  There are 2 older girls in family who also lost their precious keep sakes and stuffed animals.  The girls should get all of the dolls, I decided.  Naomi’s mother later told me that she had been saving a very special doll from HER mother for the last 15 years.  She had planned to give it to Naomi someday, but now it was gone.  It was touching to her that Naomi once again had a special doll.  The mother vowed that they would all take care of the dolls.  I just hope Naomi gets to play with it!  🙂

Naomi and her new dollies

Naomi and her new dollies

Finally, my little 5 year-old decided all on her own that she wanted to give those girls something special too.  She selected 3 of her own beloved Barbies, a few outfits each, and a Cinderella princess costume for dress-up.  Lucy wanted to give generously, and I didn’t stop her.  I think not only did she learn a valuable lesson about sharing our possessions, but I think she earned herself a reward in Heaven.  I was so proud of her thoughtful kindness.  Naomi jumped up and down squealing with excitement.  Apparently she loves everything Princess.  We were all happy.

Happiness

So I thought you all would like to see some pictures from our time of sharing with Naomi’s friends and family.  Enjoy and be blessed.

When someone loves you…

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Once upon a time, I found this cute list of things little kids said about Love.  I think their simplicity is so precious… and sometimes humorous.  We could benefit from some of these reminders about how to really love someone.  I want to grow old with my husband, and at the end, to feel that I have loved really well.  I don’t believe in keeping regrets.  I leave the past alone.  But taken as a whole, I want to feel that I’ve loved with all my heart and been loved in return.

When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.  You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.  Billy age 4

Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.  Karl- age 5

Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French Fries without making them give you any of theirs.  Chrissie- age 6

Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.  Terri- age 4

Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is right.  Danny- age 7

Love is when you kiss all the time.  Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more.  Emily- age 8

Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.  Bobby- age 7

If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend you hate.  Nikko- age 6

Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.  Noelle- age 7

Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.  Tommy- age 6

Mommy loves me more than anybody.  You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.  Clare- age 6

Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.  Elaine- age 5

Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Brad Pitt.  Chris- age 7 (This one made me laugh.)

Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.  Marianne- age 4

I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.  Lauren- age 4

When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.  Karen- age 6

You really shouldn’t say “I love you” unless you mean it.  But if you mean it, you should say it a lot.  People forget.  Jessica- age 8

This weekend, make a concerted, focused effort to tell someone you love them.  You might think that they should already know, but tell them anyways.  Say it first, don’t wait for them to say it to you.  And while you’re at it Guys, here’s a tip for you:  She wants hear WHY you love her too.  It makes the “I love you” special instead of generic.  Make an effort to love well.

In the Name of Love…

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There is a chapter in the Bible that is commonly called “The Love Chapter”.  No it’s not in Song of Solomon… but if you want a sweet little blush on this Valentine’s Day, read that aloud with your Spouse.  No I’m talking about 1 Corinthians 13.

Here’s a challenge for you today as we focus on Love.  The Bible says “God is love,” but what does that mean?  Here in 1 Corinthians, we have a tangible measure of what Love is.  Try this challenge:  Read 1 Corinthians and insert your name in place of the word “love.”  Now read it again and insert the name “Jesus.”  This is what love should look like.  Jesus is the standard against which all human loves should be compared.  See, we fall short each time.  Jesus is the definition of love in the flesh.  And while you are thinking about THAT definition, think about this measure of love:  God showed his love to us in this way, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Now read this with your name in place of “Love”

Love is patient. Love is kind.  Love does not envy.  Love does not boast.  Love is not proud.  Love is not rude.  Love is not selfish.  Love is not easily angered.  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not enjoy evil but is happy about the truth.  Love always protects. Love always trusts.  Love always hopes.  Love always perseveres.  Love never fails.

(Did you throw up a little in your mouth as you read that?)  Now read that with the name of Jesus in place of “Love.”  That’s who loves YOU.  Happy Valentine’s Day from your Beloved Jesus.

Those who despise grace…

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Friday is the day for our weekly spelling test in my 5th grade class.  When the test is over, the kids exchange papers and we grade them together as a class.  Those kids are so hard on each other.  Every week someone complains that their friend’s “O”s look like “C”s or their “A”s look like “U”s.  They demand that every “T” be crossed and every “I” be dotted.  I’m sure some of them have a future in some government office.

I am constantly trying to teach them about grace.  My 5th graders are hard on each other and don’t give each other much grace because they don’t recognize their own need for grace.  They have very short and selective memories.  They remind me a lot of some Christians.

When Christians are hard on each other, demanding perfection of each other, it is because they do not see their own need for grace.  Pride has blinded them to their own faults, and they undervalue God’s power to forgive.

Jesus talked about this.  He said, “He who has been forgiven of much, loves much.”  The woman weeping at his feet was a prostitute.  The host, who forgot to give him water to wash his dusty feet when he arrived at the house, was a Religious Leader.  Who loved Jesus more?  The one who had been forgiven of more sins.

Those who do not recognize their own need for grace will always be hard on the people around them, like my 5th graders who are tyrants with a correcting pen.  Once a person sees their own trashiness, smells their own filth, and understands all that God has had to put up with in cleaning them up, then that person is tender and sensitive to the cleaning up process in his neighbor.  He says, “There but by the Grace of God would I go.”  If it were not for God’s Grace towards me, you and I would be in identical straits.

Has Pride blinded you to your own need for grace?  Are you hard on people?  Ask God for the brokenness that comes with understanding your own pathetic state before a pure and holy God.  Tenderness comes through brokenness.  Compassion is born of humility.

Did Jesus say, “Change your neighbor as yourself”?

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A Friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page as her status update one day:

“I have quite a diverse group of friends on my Facebook….many of whom believe and behave very differently than me. I have friends who are adulterers, at least one murderer, a rapist, an assorted atheist or two, a whole slew of gossips and slanderers, several liars, a couple exotic dancers, porno models and porno readers, gun lovers and gun haters, gays and lesbians, and more whiners than I can count.

Someone recently chastised me a little about this.

As gently as I could I pointed out that Jesus didn’t say “Change your neighbor as yourself.” He said “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

My job is to love people….it’s God’s job to change people. He’s welcome to start with me because I have my place in that list, too. How am I going to love someone if I will not learn how to be their friend…even on something as simple as facebook?

Here’s something I’ve learned from reading the status updates from all my friends no matter where they are in life: we all have emotions, we all get sick, we have jobs that make us a little crazy, we long for relationships, we have families we are trying to figure out, and we want a better future. I’d say we have enough in common to be able to get along and love each other.

May God help me to love the people that He loves…and, yes, to be friends. And I pray that I can love people enough that they feel safe to ask me the hard questions of life and that maybe, together, we can search out those answers that might lead to the change process that only HE can do.”

Did I mention that she’s a pastor’s wife?

I admit that my list of Facebook friends is a little more sterile than hers.  But I admire her heart and spirit and spunk.  She says strong things in a loving way.  This is a lesson that I am constantly trying to learn for myself.  I think this is the core of Grace.

Heart Language

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It does not matter how fluent I am in Spanish, there always seems to be a point at which the words coming out of my mouth feel inadequate to describe what is happening in my heart.  When I hit that linguistic wall, I know I need to revert to speaking my heart language.  There are some things that are just better expressed in your native tongue.  For me, the top two situations that require English are Praying and Expressing Love.

Probably because both love and prayer come from the deepest part of my heart, I have a hard time breaking my thoughts down into verb tenses and indirect object pronouns.  Finding the right words is hard work, not the work of the “moment”.  My mind refuses to violate my emotions by forcing them into an unnatural form, twisting and tangling the strings of the heart until they no longer play a pure tune.  It’s like contaminating the deep well of sweet caring with the sweat of labor.  Some things just need to be expressed in my heart language.

For some time now, I have had a desire to tell our best Costa Rican friends just how I feel about them.  I want them to know just how much their friendship has meant to me.  I want them to understand how special I think it is that they would take a risk and get close to a foreigner… especially knowing that we are missionaries who come and go every few years.  It is a lot of work to be friends with someone who struggles to communicate in your language.  I wonder if I would have the courage to be that kind of friend if the shoe were on the other foot.

I want to tell my friends that I love them so dearly, but I just can’t find the right words in Spanish.  I want them to know that I see the risk they took, I appreciate the work it takes, and I am so very thankful for their patient love.  Our friends have opened their lives and their homes and their hearts to us.  They have shared their food and their family.  They have given us more than they will ever know.  They have, in many ways, gone against their own cultural current and opened doors for us that we could have never opened on our own.  Their sacrifice does not escape me.

For a long, long time now, my friends have been silently precious to me.  When I am with them, my heart pulses telepathically.  I love you dear friend!  I love you!  I don’t know how, but I think they can hear my heart beat.  I think they know that my heart is open to them.  They can sense it, though I can’t express it.  I love you with my heart language when my second language doesn’t feel like enough.  And I look forward to the day we meet again in Heaven and we both will speak and understand the language of the heart.

 

Thanksgiving for a New Friend

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Recently I have made a new friend at the school where I teach.  She is more than 10 years younger than me, but age has never been an issue with me.  I have had friends who are much older than me and friends who are much younger than I.  The quality that really attracts me to any friend is her authenticity.  Nothing is more delightful than someone who is comfortable just being her self.

A friend like that is like your favorite pair of jeans.  Sometimes you just want to grab your “go-to” outfit without thinking too hard about how nice you look.  Sometimes you just want to wear something comfortable that you won’t have to be adjusting or fussing with all day long.  Sometimes you just want those jeans that are a bit worn and always the perfect fit.  Yeah, a real friend is like a great pair of jeans… you never want to take them off.

My new friend is “sweet”.  That is the first word that I would use to describe her- and it’s a genuine quality in her.  The other day I had a crazy thought.  I wondered if it could actually hurt to be so sweet.  I mean, it would pain me to try so hard to be sweet, but she seems to come by it naturally.  I don’t think anyone would use the word “sweet” to describe me.  I have a stubborn, ornery streak that spices up the flavors of my personality.  (I come by that naturally too.  My mom says I’m just like my dad.)  At least I don’t perceive myself as being sweet like my friend is.

But my favorite thing about my new friend is how she talks about Jesus.  Our conversations nearly always wind their way around to Jesus.  We both love God with all our hearts and have dedicated our lives to serving Him, so naturally we would talk about God a lot.  My friend’s conversations are always so uplifting and refreshing.  I’ve had some friends who talk about God in a pious, self-righteous sort of tone and that just rubs me the wrong way.  But my friend talks about Jesus in a personal way that I can identify with.  She is not ashamed to tell of times when Jesus has scolded her in her heart for a bad attitude or revealed a falsehood in her way of thinking.  She is not afraid to admit when she screwed up and to ask God to forgive her.  And this is a lesson that I am still learning for myself.  I always feel closer to Jesus after I’ve talked with my friend.

In my taxonomy of friendship, I know I have a really great friend when I feel like I never get enough of spending time with this person.  Normally people wear me out, but when I realize that a friend fills me up instead of drains me, this is a good thing.  I only get to eat lunch (18 minutes) a few times a week with my friend and to see her a few times in passing in the hallway.  So yeah, I feel like I don’t get to spend enough time with her.  She doesn’t drain me; she leaves me always wanting more.

Since she is a single girl living overseas and away from her family, I invited her to our Thanksgiving dinner with the other missionary families that we work with here.  Secretly I was hoping that we would get to spend more time talking together… and we did.  We spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen together.  (I broke a wooden spoon stirring my thick, gluey mashed potatoes and we died laughing at that!)  Then we joined the other missionaries for our big feast.

Not only did we get full of food, but we filled up our spirits as well.  We talked of Jesus and what he’s doing in our lives.  We laughed and enjoyed each other’s company.  We got teary-eyed telling each other touching personal stories.  I feel like our hearts were even more knitted together over our turkey and pie.  So for me, it was a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and I have so much to be thankful for.  I am very thankful for my new friend who encourages me and builds up my faith.  I wish we all had a friend like her.

My sweet friend. Isn’t she adorable?!