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Faith Formation Ink Slingers Lynette Prayer

When You Say You Love Me

When You Say You Love Me

“I love you.” Three small words, but put together, they are the most profound three-word sentence that can be spoken using the many languages of humanity. Not unlike the ancient Greek philosophers who tried to define differing “types of love”, we continue to struggle with its multiple meanings today – from using it casually to express our feelings for our simplest preferences, such as “I love pizza,” to using it in its more deeper sense to try to adequately express our most intimate feelings in interpersonal relationships when we say, “I love you, ________.”

We humans have a significant handicap when it comes to love. Our fallen human nature will forever prohibit us from being able to experience, both in giving and receiving, truly authentic love. Yet that desire is written deep within our hearts and we are driven to search, often at great costs, to find it. Some are blessed to come into this world with a glimpse of what authentic love looks like. Some, much less fortunate, come into the world lacking anything that even remotely resembles authentic love. Then, as we journey through life, trying to navigate the numerous and differing types of relationships, we hunger to hear those three words. Whether it is a relationship with a parent, child, relative, friend, spouse, etc., we all long to be heard, understood, accepted – to know we are loved by others’ affirming us in word and deed. What we sometimes experience, however, is the exact opposite. With such obvious disparity prevalent in our worldly experience of love, is it any wonder we fail so often at what we all so desperately yearn for?

Creation very often reveals human nature in its beauty and its brokenness.  As I walked the beach one day trying to process what had happened between myself and a friend, it struck me how much “love” is like the ocean. Vast, deep and dark in parts, shallow and light in parts, some days rough, other days calm, stretching out beyond where I can see or comprehend – it encompasses all I can “experience” in love – enjoyment, relaxation, intimidation, inspiration, admiration, uncertainty, peace, thanksgiving, change, stability, rejuvenation, … and the list goes on…

When we choose to love, our “loves/relationships” are like shells that get tossed about the depths and shallows, carried by the tides of the ocean, eventually washing up on shore to be exposed to the bright light of day. Some of those loves make it to shore, small but whole and colorful. Some wash up still beautiful in appearance, but broken or with the tell-tale holes made by boring predators. Others, once part of something much more elaborate and grander, are now but a mere fragment of what they had been.  Exposed to the light, we are sometimes given a chance to examine and admire them for their beauty, despite their altered appearances. Sometimes, however, the tides come and sweep them back to the sea before we know it, sinking to the depths out of view, or tumbling about aimlessly among the waves, only to wash up, once again, on the shore.

Our human endeavors at loving seem to mimic the shells. Some loves leave us whole, but only a small version of who we can be. Some wash us up, still beautiful, but broken or with the scars of battle. Others allow us to grow into something elaborate and grand, but eventually leave us mere fragments of who we had been.  If we are fortunate,we will be given the enlightened opportunity to examine and admire the beauty in our relationships despite how they have altered us. There will be times, however, when our loves/relationships will slip out of our grasp and we will either have to relinquish them, or try to navigate the “bumpy ride” to bring them back to safe shores where they can be admired once again.

It is no surprise that the majority of shells on the beach are broken and altered, just like most human loves/relationships are broken and altered because of our inability to love authentically. Does that mean we are left then to journey through life broken and altered and without hope of finding that love we yearn for or to hear those three words said authentically? Every day we take the “good” we have experienced and the “bad” we have experienced in our loving and venture out into the vast ocean of humanity, hoping to “get it right.”

As I walked along the beach pondering this analogy, a shell just ahead on the sand caught my full attention. Brilliantly white, perfectly whole, nothing hidden, fully exposed to the light – the answer to loving in its completeness. Only one love/relationship can be everything that shell represented – the “I love you” God spoke when He chose to share our humanity, living on this earth to show me how to love, the “I love you” He spoke when He stretched out His arms on the cross, the “I love you” He spoke when He formed me in my mother’s womb, the “I love you” He speaks now every second of every day through the loves/relationships I currently have in my life (yes, even the difficult ones and the times I fail to love as I ought).  Until my earthly loves/relationships are examined in His light and then transformed (“broken and altered”) into reflections and mirror images of His love for me, I will continue to fall short of giving and receiving love authentically. It is only when I allow Him to transform my feeble attempts at loving that they will become occasions of grace, healing, freedom, fulfillment, and authenticity; only then will the shells in my life be whole, white, pure, and sanctifying.

Josh Groban’s song, “When You Say You Love Me” recently came up on one of my music stations.  As I drove home from the beach, the words came to me again, but this time, I found myself singing them in response to the best “I love you” I could ever hear and the only “I love you” that will ever authentically fulfill my heart’s greatest desire for love.  In this month of “love”, as you celebrate the loves in your life and perhaps mourn the loves where you have failed, may you hear the “I love you” He longs for you to hear – the one true love you have this side of heaven and the only love that can transform our earthly love into a glimpse of the divine.

When You Say You Love Me

Josh Groban

Like the sound of silence calling

I hear your voice and suddenly I’m falling

Lost in a dream

Like the echoes of our souls are meeting

You say those words, my heart stops beating

I wonder what it means

What could it be that comes over me

At times I can’t move

At times I can’t hardly breathe

 

When you say you love me

The world goes still, so still inside

When you say you love me

For a moment, there’s no one else alive

 

You’re the one I’ve always thought of

I don’t know how but I feel sheltered in your love

You’re where I belong

And when you’re with me if I close my eyes

There are times I swear I feel like I can fly

For a moment in time

Somewhere between

The heavens and earth

I’m frozen in time

Oh when you say those words

 

When you say you love me

The world goes still so still inside

When you say you love me

For a moment, there’s no one else alive

 

And this journey that we’re on

How far we’ve come and I

Celebrate every moment

When you say you love me

That’s all you have to say

I’ll always feel this way

 

When you say you love me

The world goes still so still inside and

When you say you love me

In that moment, I know why I’m alive

 

When you say you love me

 

When you say you love me

Do you know how I love you?

 

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Ink Slingers

Welcome Back One-piece

(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

This summer I am welcoming back the one-piece bathing suit. And you can too! It’s not about hiding stretch marks or feeling more confident than in a two-piece (because I do!). It’s about reclaiming modesty.

I think most of us women can reflect on our coming of age years and realize that we hit a certain point––we didn’t want to be “girls” anymore; we wanted to be “women.” We wanted to grow up already. We wanted to wear makeup, shave our legs, and wear two-piece bathing suits (which are essentially a bra and underwear, right?!). We didn’t want to be “cute” anymore. Without knowing it at the time, we were also rushing to give up our modesty and innocence.

I don’t know about you, but that rush into womanhood (as defined by culture) led me down a path away from God and from who I really wanted to be. The culture taught me that my identity as a woman and my beauty was on the outside. I lost respect for myself and for others and that was revealed in my dress–too tight, too revealing, too short. Turns out, this way of living was not fulfilling, nor life-giving.

I suppose this is a prodigal-daughter-like story because God sent a beautiful holy woman into my life to show me what is was like to be a real woman. You might have heard of her, Mother Mary? I came back from a pilgrimage to one of her shrines and my life was forever changed. I first and foremost learned the truth––my identity and beauty came from being a daughter of God and Christ living in me. This changed everything. I gained respect for myself and for others and within six months, I had a new wardrobe.

Mother Mary taught me that her beauty comes from the fact that she loves God with her whole heart. The more I strive to do the same, the more I recognize things in my life that obstruct my love for Him. She has taught me that we must be pure to enter the Kingdom of God. Modesty guards our purity. Our childlike innocence is what lets us see the angels who gaze on God. Mother Mary is the true and best example of womanhood. From her, we can learn everything God desires of us as women.

So back to the one-piece bathing suit. Having learned what I have in my journey and now as a mother of two girls, I feel the importance of this responsibility to show my daughters what true womanhood is. Yes, the culture is still going to tempt them with the rush into womanhood, with manicures at four years old and two-piece bathing suits at five years old, but we cannot underestimate that they still look up to their mothers!

I’m wearing a one-piece bathing suit for my almost three year old daughter. You might be thinking, “She’s three! She doesn’t notice!” but when we went to the beach this past weekend, do you know the first thing she said when she saw me? “Mommy, we match!” as she pointed to her one-piece suit. I smiled and thought to myself, that’s exactly why I’m wearing it. I never would have thought that wearing a one-piece could ever feel so good!

As my daughters get older and we live strive to live the faith, which is often counter-cultural, I hope they always know that I’m on their side fighting with them. That I’m always striving to be a woman like Mother Mary. That they can look up to me. That we match, even if the rest of the world doesn’t.

Mother most pure, pray for us.

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7 Quick Takes Domestic Church Homeschool Ink Slingers Michelle Motherhood Parenting

7 Quick Takes: Signs You Don’t Want Summer to End

jake 2
If you are anything like me you aren’t ready for summer to end. Yes, you know it has to at some point, but not right now.

My newsfeed has been filling up with kids going back to school already. Cute kids in new clothes, holding new lunchboxes and backpacks, stand dutifully with a smile for first day of school pictures. The pictures melt my heart and make my toes curl all at the same time!

“It’s only the beginning of August! There’s still some summer left!” I want to yell at the school officials who have decided that kids must return. Why do they have to go back so early?

Thankfully we homeschool so we don’t have to worry about summer being over yet. Maybe you are like me and aren’t ready for summer to end either. Here are some sure fire ways to know if you are suffering from the “Summer-Can’t-Be-Over-Yet” Blues…

1.

You have no desire to make your kids wear clothes all day. Swimming suits are easy and cut down on laundry, amiright? Sure, cute new outfits are great, but they come with a price- extra laundry. Who wants that kind of responsibility? Not this lady! Not only that, swimsuits don’t get dirty like regular clothes; I mean, all they have to do is jump in a pool or run through a sprinkler and laundry is done!

jake sprinkler

2.

You have no desire to set the alarm even earlier than normal to meet a bus or drop kids off. 30 more minutes of sleep? Yes, thank you very much!

3.

You have no desire to worry about bedtime routines. When summer ends and school starts, sleep is even more important (even when you homeschool). Right now I like not having to worry so much about what time they get to bed. Sure, we still have a routine (I like my peace and quiet at night!) but if they go to bed late I don’t stress about it as much as I do during the school year. It’s so much nicer on all of us.

4.

You have no desire to worry excessively over dinner time. Its’ 9 o’clock and you’re just coming in from playing so we’re just sitting down to eat? No problem! Oh, everyone’s having a bad day? Ice cream for dinner for everyone! That kind of attitude just doesn’t seem to fly during the school year- schedules really need to be followed and brains need more sustenance than that. Of course, you don’t want that happening all the time in the summer, but occasionally it’s fun to eat sundaes for supper while watching the fireflies flit around in the backyard.

5.

Speaking of schedules- you have no desire to have to stick so strictly to a schedule. Want to go to the zoo on a Tuesday morning? Let’s go! Play date at the park on Thursday? I’m in! Stayed up late eating too much ice cream for dinner? Ah, sleeping in is the best!

6.

You realize you just can’t get the beach out of your mind. You can feel the sand between your toes and hear the waves crashing on the shore- oh wait, that’s just the kids dragging in dirt from the yard and pots and pans crashing in the kitchen. But the fact remains, you want to feel the sand and hear the waves. You dream of sitting beneath your umbrella, your perfect little darlings building sandcastles beside you, and a gentle breeze caressing your hair. Ah, paradise! Summer just isn’t complete without a day at the beach!

Mike and me in the crystal clear waters of Wakulla Springs last summer!
Mike and me in the crystal clear waters of Wakulla Springs last summer!

7.

You still want to catch fireflies, build forts, make mud pies, watch the kids run through the sprinkler, have silly string wars, ride bikes, get an ice cream cone from the ice cream man, and do so many other summertime activities with your kids. Once the days begin to change and the school bus comes regularly each day, it gets harder and harder to do those things.

We may not be able to stop summer from coming to an end, but we don’t have to let go quietly. We can enjoy the last little bits that are left to enjoy. Today we might just have to play all day, and then stay up late, eat ice cream till we pop, and watch the fireflies twinkle in our backyard. We’ll cling to summer for just a bit longer.

kids outside 1

 

Craving more Quick Takes like you crave more summer? Head on over to This Ain’t the Lyceum to read more 7 Quick Takes!