How To Give When We Feel Empty

I don’t have anything else to give.
I’m tired of trying.
I’m done.

Do you have anyone in your life who is just hard to love sometimes?  We try. We pray. We seek advice or perspective from others. We try again . ,. and sometimes we get tired of trying.

God knows we are going to struggle to love others sometimes, just like others are going to struggle to love us at times.

We pour out all that is in us—We encourage, help, listen, share time, try to be thoughtful, and express love. Yet, as we pour or give, we empty.  When we experience hurt or offense in the form of absence of appreciation, indifference, criticism, or judgment, it’s like the faucet gets turn on full blast. We’re drained dry. Our feelings of love and our desire to give deplete.

We are not created with a limitless reservoir of love inside. God IS the reservoir. “God is love.” (1 John 4.8b)

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4.16)

We have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.

Have you come to know God’s love for you?

Do you believe He loves you as much as much as You’ve heard He does?

As we seek to know God, he grows our understanding of how great his love for us is.  It’s humbling to recognize how conditional our feelings can be.  And it’s a relief to discover that God’s love for us and in us is intended to be the means for relationship with others—not how we feel in the moment.

You and I are made to be loved by God.
Say it out loud… I was made to be loved by God.

Slow down and let this truth move from your mind into your heart.  Invite God to sink this amazing truth into the deepest place of your heart—God, You loved me as you formed me, and You want me to enjoy Your love every day.

When we draw deeply from the reservoir of God’s love for us, His love flows through us. He replenishes our exhausted heart.

Filled with God’s love, we can release to Him the hurt or offense, and forgive.

Filled with God’s love, we can experience His healing, strengthening, and grace to begin anew.

Filled with God’s love, we can have a conversation with that person and remain calm.

Filled with God’s love, we can love our child through his rebellious days, just as God loves us through ours. Our child experiences, “I’m for you. I love you. I’m not going anywhere.”

Filled with God’s love, we love WITH HIS LOVE.

God’s love transforms hearts, beginning with ours.  When we draw from His reservoir, and let His love fill us full, it’s His love that overflows to others.

Dear God,
Thank you for your love. Help me come to know and believe more fully your love for me. Please remind me to draw from your unending reservoir of love, and help me be a vessel of Your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Power of a Smile

dsc01540Picture this. Your child or husband glances your way or walks in the door—and smiles just at you. It’s a moment, fleeting yet formative. We love our family most, so it makes sense that their smiles are of greatest value to us. So, this means that our smile is of greatest value to them.

It’s a moment, fleeting yet formative.
It is one way that we encourage and build one another up. Our facial expression carries influence to a child’s heart. Throughout the day, a child receives all sorts of messages – at school, among siblings, on the bus, among peers at an event, at a sleepover, or on social media. The warmth of our smile helps wash away the film of the other messages. We communicate value.
When we’re in a challenging season with a child, a smile says, “I love you no matter what.” It’s a tangible way to demonstrate and distinguish that our dislike is toward the challenging issue at hand, not the child. When we smile, God’s love shines through and stirs relief in a child. When we smile, we invite nearness. We extend grace. We love.
dsc01529At different times God has gently shown me the absence of my smile toward Terrell or our children. I’ve realized this mostly happens when I’m distracted by a circumstance or busyness. It’s so easy to unintentionally move through a day in our home without a smile, even though these are the very people we love most on this earth. Thankfully, God is our help in all things.
“A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face” (Proverbs 15.13, The Message)
The key to a cheerful heart is our personal relationship with Jesus. He knows that daily circumstances can give us emotional whiplash. In the Old Testament, David wrestled through hard relationship challenges, yet God was his focus and this relationship sustained him. His gladness was in God and his countenance displayed this.
“I bless the LORD who gives me counsel:
     in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices…”  
(Ps. 16.7-9a)

dsc01525Our desire to smile rides on the condition of our heart. It’s easy to smile when we’re happy,  when good or encouraging things happen. But when disappointment, discouragement, or disobedience color the day, it’s hard to muster such desire. Our optimistic-tank is drained dry. God knows. Like David, we can “set the LORD always before” us. With God at our right hand, we will not be shaken. We can smile because God is good.

Dear Jesus,
I want my relationship with you to be more. I want my gladness to be found in You—and then overflow to my family. Thank you for your love. Amen.

A Daddy-Daughter Story

Scan“I hope I’m doing okay at what God still has me here for… I pray a lot… but there’s not much else I can do.” Rocking on the back porch looking out at the marsh, Dad softly voiced his heart as mine quietly responded with admiration and sadness. Later, I scribbled his words to paper, adding: May 2010, age 85.

Dad and I covered a lot of territory in those rocking chairs. Due to foot problems, long walks weren’t an option, so late afternoons on the deck were a daily ritual when I visited. I treasured this time with him – identifying shapes in the clouds, teasing, laughing, sharing and inevitably, Dad holding forth about something.

It wasn’t always like that for us. The panoramic view of our relationship includes some really hard times. By the grace of God we pressed through. I tried and he tried. He prayed and I prayed. All the while, God held us both, molding individuals and shaping a daddy-daughter relationship that would be uniquely ours.

In mid-November my sweet “Daddio” went to be with the Lord. He was 90. I loved him deeply…and I’m so grateful that God gave me Dad to be my dad.

dad2When I think about Dad, I don’t see segments of our relationship. I see the whole picture. His impact on me and to me. He loved our family with everything he had in him. He gave us himself. He poured out all that he knew and all that he learned along the way. He was a life-long learner, as a disciple of Jesus and as a man who knew he was privileged to be a husband and a dad. He taught me to persevere, to give-it-all-I’ve-got, to live thankful to God, to be humble. He lived what he taught. He demonstrated that forgiveness includes laying down the offense and moving forward. He knew he needed God.

One fascination that swells my heart with gratitude and awe to God is how He continued to significantly enrich our relationship even in Dad’s last years through the simplest conversations. Our phone calls often covered the same questions – How are you? How’s Terrell? Followed by inquiry about each of the kids…Then he’d share about his weekly lunch with a friend, errands he and mom had run, the weather or doctor appointments. Usually, somewhere in the space of all those words, a heart-thought would spill out and the other of us would respond. Still, God was growing “us”.

Our story is unique, as is yours. I cherish the whole thing – great memories and great challenges – and the beautiful things God grew through them.