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Monday, January 28, 2013

Agape Mom

Have you ever heard the word Agape?
It's Greek for unconditional love.....I love to teach about it, I wrote about it here a few years ago.
Here's the definition in my Bible Dictionary...

From The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament, by Spiros Zodhiates, page 878.

This was life-changing for me when I learned that God's unconditional love doesn't mean that He always does what I want. I began to learn to cut out the manipulation prayers {I promise I will________, if YOU will __________ }. I began to stop letting little bits of the lie that bad things, slow things, uncomfortable things in my life meant that God's love was conditional or worse, insufficient or inattentive, have place. I found comfort in the boundary that God loves me for my best. Period. So, I've applied this lesson as the child being loved by the parent. This week I learned to apply this lesson as the parent loving the child. When it comes down to it, will I love my kids for their best even when they don't want that?

I like to be liked.

As I began to realize that I had allowed some safe boundaries in our family to get a little bit too broad, I knew what I needed to do. The knowing wasn't the hard part, the doing was. Little crops of entitlement and selfishness had grown up in the lives of my children because I hadn't been disciplined enough to keep them out of my own yard.  And pulling them up was easily the right thing until my teenaged kids were standing over them, guarding.

I'm usually a pretty decisive mother. I won't make a decision about vacation or where to eat or what color couch to buy.....but when it comes to discipline and my kids, I'm pretty swift and sure. Until they turned into teenagers. 

  • Could it be the knowledge that young adult grown-up life is just around the corner has robbed me of confidence?  
  • Could it be fear of losing their childhood favor has made me wary to confront? 
  • Could it be regret over mistakes made and lessons untaught has slowed my zeal for creative instruction?
  • There are lots of "could it bes"....and they were kicking my tail.

And then I remembered Agape {Benevolent} Love, 
"Its benevolence, however, is not shown by doing what the person loved {teenager} desired but what the one who loves {parent} deems as needed by the one loved {child}..."

So we had the hard talk, and set the safe boundaries, and answered the honest questions, and made the necessary apologies, and walked away secure knowing we are LOVED.

Sweet mommas reading this; stay true to His course. Receive His benevolent love so that you can pass it along to your children.....they don't always want it, but they need it so much and there is no substitute. 
Be Loved so that you can love your beloveds well.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hope Resting

I have this sweet new devotional that I got for my birthday. Jesus Today, by Sarah Young (the author of the super popular Jesus Calling devotional).  The theme of the entire book is Hope. The very first day talks about how some of God's children have forgotten how to hope. It was good and so encouraging and I needed a little spiritual pep-talk. So I grinned and thanked Jesus and then my eyes wandered to the supporting verses on the next page.  The ones that go along with the devotion.  They are supposed to teach our great need to keep an eternal perspective and find joy in all circumstances as we place our hope in God.....and they totally do that. But I saw something else too.  I saw rest. Do you see it?

"We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.  May your unfailing love rest upon us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you."  Psalm 33:20-22

"A faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time." Titus 1:2

Maybe I was just tired...
It could be that even in the early morning hours I was feeling overwhelmed and undone by the chaotic To Dos that awaited... 
Perhaps it was the blessed burden of teaching preparation... 
Or it could be that one of my children is in a stage that feels very much like we've lost some hard fought ground and I'm floundering to figure it out... 

The mundane is draining...
The time needed to prepare for what matters most feels squeezed out...
The fear of a parenting "crisis on the horizon" is frightening... 

I'm not sure, but it could be those things that led my eyes to this one small word...


As I read both of these verses I saw that in the first verse love rests on us.  In the second verse our faith rests on something else....hope. 
Could it be that hope is actually the love of God resting on me as I allow what I believe and understand to rest on Him? 
It's a vicious circle that actually works; one that produces movement and growth. A circle that is beautiful and leads to joy as it pushes our gaze to the eternal and shifts our perspective from the exhausting present.

What I know (knowledge) and what I believe (faith) can rest on hope because God doesn't lie. When I settle into that and refuse to be carried away by doubt and insecurity and a hundred other things that threaten my peace, I acknowledge and snuggle into the love of God already resting on me.....and all of that gives me confident hope.

This seems so trite and simple, to the point I hesitate to post it, but it's my lesson this week. And I'm starting to see the fruit of it.

My To Dos are getting done, from the mundane to the important, many with joy...
I am courageously preparing a message to teach that I never would've chosen on my own...
I am trusting Him daily for wisdom and patience to parent in a difficult stage; learning to be thankful for little victories...

There is security in settling my hope on God; both for the everydayness of this life and the perfection that awaits in heaven.  

Maybe acknowledging that His love rests on me even as I settle what I know and believe on the certainty of Him is all I needed to do...

"And she smiles at the future." Proverbs 31:25b NASB