Friday, April 7, 2023

Love Is Not Self-Seeking


We put so many unfair expectations on each other.

The pressures and weight we place on each other is too much for someone’s shoulders to bear.

No one can meet the expectations we place on them, all of the time. And even if they meet them some of the time, they probably aren’t genuine. Not if we clearly lay them out before them. No. They are met out of guilt, or to keep some sort of peace in the relationship.

Love does not place expectations on someone else’s plate. 

Yes, there are certain boundaries that need to be upheld in relationships. Certain character qualities, and morals that need to exist for a healthy dynamic. I’m talking more about physical and emotional expectations that are only there to meet some sort of inner need put in place by the person who lays them out before the other.

It’s never fair. Never healthy.

It’s control.

People were meant to be free. Free to feel how they want to feel. Free to run life slowly or fast, depending on their personal bent. Free to express their hearts how they want (or don’t want). Free to be quiet, or outgoing.

We cannot, and should not place expectations on our relationships simply because we are insecure, lonely, depressed, anxious, regretful, or you fill in the blank.

These kinds of expectations damage otherwise healthy and normal relationships. They suck the life out of people. 

Maybe we “wish” things were a little bit differently than they currently are. Okay. But other people aren’t “us.” And we can’t make them “us”. 

Sometimes we rate people on our own scale - not on a scale that is tailored to them. And that is never fair. 

We rate their efforts based on the efforts and energy WE have, not on what they have. We rate their interactions based on the interactions WE prefer, not on what they prefer. We rate their expressions and feelings based on how WE think they should be expressed, not on how God created THEM!

And instead of seeing the beauty in the differences, we strangle the life out of a relationship because it doesn’t fit into a mold of where we think it should be.

That’s never love. 

It’s time we love people as they are, WHERE they are. Pray for God to fill in any holes in their lives that need filling, as well as working on our own hearts to be His servants and love others wholly in spite of it all. 

Never placing demands, complaints, regrets, or disappointments onto someone else’s heart.

Love is not self-seeking.

It’s good to remember that.

If we can just let our relationships exist with all their intricacies, we can find joy in learning and sharing life with another human being who adds to our life in ways we hadn’t considered on our own.

This world has enough stress and pressures without us putting it onto each other.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

We Want to Avoid It.....But We Should Walk Through It, Together

“Let’s Focus On Something Happy.”

That is something I hear from time to time when we have gathered with family. We start talking about some relative going through something tough, or some crisis or tragedy that has made big news. And we can get in-depth and long-winded about it - to which, I will inevitably hear someone say “Let’s focus on something happy.”

And listen, I get it. There is a time when talking about the unhappy or sad, has had its place. But you know what? Talking about the unhappy and sad.. also has ITS place.

And all too often we want to avoid it.

How can we learn, grow, walk through life together, or learn how to share both the happy and sad in our lives - if we avoid even discussing it?

Life is not happy all the time. We are all too aware of that. Life is happy, sad, ups, and downs. It has hard moments just as equally (sometimes it feels like more) than good. And we should be able to share, talk, lean on, cry with, and discuss those moments with those we trust, love, and who are closest to us.

Those things do have their place. We can revisit them at appropriate times. We can use discernment when a conversation has run its course and we need to move on. But avoiding them altogether - I feel is a mistake.

So yes. We should focus on the goodness of the Lord. We should be thankful for the blessings, answers to prayer, and joyful times in life that we are graciously given. We should share those with others too - so that God gets glory and honor and that other people can grow in their faith.  But we should also take the time to walk through the deeper waters with one another, too. We NEED to.

No one can keep all the sadness a heart carries to themselves. Nor should they. We are here to be there for each other. To strengthen. To advise. To LOVE.

Let’s focus on being there for each other. Whether that means focusing on the happy…. Or the sad for a time.

Let’s focus on helping each other be better, stronger, wiser, and healed from the trauma we all go through in various ways.

THAT should be our focus. THAT should be our goal. 

And THAT will be our strength. Each other.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

When The Pressures On Your Life Are Great

There are times in life, where I really feel like the pressure is great. It seems as if everything comes down the pipeline at once. On multiple fronts, there are things going on that demand a lot from a person - physically - sometimes. Emotionally? Always.

These are the times where I’ve learned the spiritual stakes are high. For me and for the others that God has placed in these scenarios in my life.

We can grow weary. Drained. Our soul can need refueling - badly, at times. But somehow, we must persevere. Tread on day in and day out. Give our “all” to whatever pressures are bearing down on us.

Satan gains ground when we are weary. And he knows it. He knows if he can distract us, defeat us by making us tired, or emotionally drive us into a weak state, that he gains momentum in the situation. I think that’s why multiple things happen at once. He wants victory.

I detest these times. They feel like they go on forever and ever. Days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months. The heart and soul take a good beating.

Or so it seems..

Yet somehow, as weak as I feel in these seasons, as much as I long for them to stop, somehow, I come out stronger for clinging to faith. Clinging to God. Oh, how I look back in hindsight and wish I’d done things differently. I often feel like I should have said things more eloquently, took action in a more timely way, and been stronger… or calmer. Yet still… when I remain faithful, God has an amazing way of planting something deeper inside of me. He grows me, as painful as it is..

I am better. 

Even if those times weren’t for me - I am better for having to turn in tears to the One who is the ONLY One who can provide answers, solutions, and a clear path.

I am ever grateful for that.

If you find yourself feeling pressure bearing down on you from multiple sides - friend - please persevere. Please muster what you can each day to stay loving but strong. Generous but wise. Believing, hopeful, and carrying yourself with integrity. Turn to God every day; every moment if you have to. But turn to Him.

He WILL carry you. He will give you that “just enough” that you need for one more day, hour, moment.

Don’t let satan gain ground over you, or over those you love.

We may have to crawl through these times - but they WILL have an end. They will bring forth results. And for me? I want to breathe deeply knowing I made I through and I didn’t give up. I didn’t give in.

There is someone who is afraid of you. He is called satan. Give him good reason to tremble. 

Monday, September 5, 2022

There Is Something Beautiful About Who You Are

My way may not always be the easiest way. It may not be the fastest. It may not even be the smartest. But it’s unique to me. And it fits ME. It fits my comfort level, my voice, my thoughts, and my goals.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that even though someone may be able to do something more efficiently than I, it’s not necessarily better. 

For it doesn’t represent my vision.

We compare ourselves so often. We get intimidated by others. We measure our weaknesses, by their strengths - coming up short. But the stick in which we use to compare, isn’t a fair one.

If I am to truly flourish, I have to know myself very well. I have to know my values, moral compass, how I come across to others, what areas I need to work on, and where I excel. I need to know all of it. And I need to be honest about it. Recognize, acknowledge and work within those boundaries.

This applies to my relationships, as well as my work life.

In my “methodical” approach, I may encounter so many things that someone who is gifted at laying something down quickly… cannot. In someone else’s way, they may fine-tune something that my vision doesn’t consider. 

Neither is wrong. It’s simply uniqueness. It’s human identity coming out in thousands of ways with unlimited potential and opportunities lying ahead.

As we communicate with each other, we can’t always run over someone else’s way of seeing something. It’s THEIR way. Not ours.

As we learn to serve one another, we discover these things. They often present themselves to us in the most unexpected ways. Providing blessing to our souls in the process.

You are you. I am me. And that is how it is supposed to be. 

And yet we try so hard to be like one another. 

We look online and imitate to the point where unique identity is considered wrong. Out-of-tune.

Oh that we would each grow to be comfortable in our skin again - not trying to conform it, change it, mold it, or deny it!

Yes. We all have ways we need to grow. But motivation is different than shame. And inspiration fuels us and encourages us to get stronger in who we already know we are. 

There is something beautiful about who you are. Something no one else on earth can touch. Whether you are a creative, a technical mind, someone who loves people, or works better in the still quiet of dawn…may you and I learn how we are gifted, why we are gifted, and how it can be put to good use in this life.

It may take time to discover, or it may be hidden down in the recesses of our heart….laying buried because we feel it’s inconsequential. But there it is. 

And the world needs it. SOMEONE needs it. Someone needs YOU. Just as you are. Quick or slow. Cautious or risky. Quiet or bubbly.

Step forward. With confidence. Love. Joy. And peace. Do YOU. In color or black and white. But do YOU, knowing you are contributing to life. 

And LIVING it as only you can.

Monday, July 4, 2022

In This World, But Not Of It

“In this world but not of it.” 

My heart’s desire.

I love life. I love to see and experience new things.

But I want to be seen as different, (in a good way).

I hope that people see strength and courage in me that comes from deep convictions.

I hope they want to have the inner joy in me that comes from my faith and my God.

I hope that they want to love with all their heart and soul, as I do.

I hope.

I love America. I also love the people in all the nations I’ve got to step foot in.

I love children and unborn babies.

My heart bleeds for the widowed and the homeless. For the child who doesn’t know the love of a mom and a dad.

This is my world. And I do love it so.

But I always want to be a little bit out of step with it. Sometimes, a lot.

I want to never quite conform. Never quite fit the mold. Never quite be so comfortable that I don’t look up and long for the “ever after”.

In this world, but not of it.

I don’t want to fit in so much, that there is nothing I would long for, apart from my God.

I am so thankful for life. For love. For family, friends, and a world full of mystery and beauty.

But my heart is sold out. Bought at a price. 

And I’m completely “in”. In so deep that I can’t get out. I don’t want to get out.

I want to see what He sees. Love how He loves. Grieve how He grieves. And soak it all in. Feel every minute of the fullness of life. The joys, the sorrows… all of it.

Because I’m in this world. And I love this world. But it can never have my soul.  For I’m not part of it.

I can’t lose sight of where I come from. Or where I’m going.

There is an inner boundary I must always hold up, as I remember where the true treasure is.

May that boundary always hold firm.

Saturday, June 4, 2022



Acceptance of ourselves is one of the hardest things we may learn in our lifetime. Accepting the fact that we are overweight, but still beautiful. Accepting that we are very emotional, yet still have the right to feel things. Accepting that we are alone, but valuable company. The excuses are as vast as the struggles. 

We are so hard on ourselves. We are so hard on others.

Everyone is different. Yet everyone is the same inside. We all long to be worthy. To be loved. To be held in high esteem. And no, not everyone will accept us. Not everyone will see past the “look” or the things we project. But most often? Most often - they will. And the thing holding us back the most… is ourselves.

WE don’t feel we are worth it. We just can’t begin to accept the flaws, missteps, inadequacies, imperfections, and “unique” things that make us up. The things we have labeled “less than” acceptable.

But if we could? If we COULD see ourselves authentically enough to know that some things we can work on and in the process still be lovable, valuable, and fun? Oh what milestones we could make in life! What joy we could discover! What things we could do!

Acceptance starts and ends with us. It means we learn to be okay with our weaknesses, while still trying to work on them in the process. 

Growth is always possible. But we can’t sit back and wait for it to come in order to live, to love, and to give of ourselves to life.

EVERYONE is valuable. EVERYONE has gifts to give. We all come in different sizes, packages, and doses. That’s what makes everyone so uniquely fascinating and beautiful!

Learn to accept where you are. What you’ve been given. And just LOVE the life you’ve been given and the people placed in it.

The first step to freedom is acceptance. That first step may be hard - but it is so worth it.

Take one today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Becoming Part of Someone's Life Story

Growing up, there was a sweet older neighbor lady across the street. Her name was Rosie. Rosie had a tomato garden and every summer she would bring over tomatoes from her garden. One of the ones she grew, were small, little yellow pear tomatoes. I grew to love them. I would eat them warm, and ripe from the sun.

To this day, I love yellow pear tomatoes. Maybe because I actually do enjoy them. But maybe, also in part, because there is a sweet warm memory attached to them.

Rosie became a part of my story. 

We all have a life story. But what we often don’t realize, is how often we wind up in someone else’s story.

There was also Reuben Larson at church. The man with the twinkle in his eyes, the robust heart “Santa Clause-like” laugh, who always belted out my name in such hearty joy. And he would always say it wrong. He knew me. He cared for me. And yet he could never get my name right. And I didn’t care. Not one bit. In fact, it endeared me to him all the more.  I grew to love Reuben as a child. And I grieved when he died of cancer. 

Reuben became a part of my life story.

These people crafted me. They invested in me. They loved me.

There are so many more people along my road in life, who have become a part of my life story. Shannon, who nurtured and took me under her wing when I lived far from home. Carl, who always believed in me, and ended up becoming my boss, and dear friend. JoAnn - with her small hamburger diner, who made me feel special with her extra love and attention.

Strangers at first, these people. But they cared. They loved. And they became embedded in my heart.

I wonder if I will wind up in anyone’s story? Have I done anything I think is normal or simple, that someone else will always remember and cherish. Do they tell stories about that neighbor lady, or the girl at the supermarket who helped them?

We each have our own life story. We have people who became embedded in our hearts. But we all play a character in someone else’s as well. Do we play a good character, or one we’d rather erase? Did we say something unkind or mean, and someone always remembered it? For we can be remembered - good AND bad.

I pray that I will always keep in mind how I treat others and that I can do something to make someone else’s life a little better and easier. 

May that be a wish for all of us.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Mistakes Happen

We are free to make mistakes. We are free to feel what we feel about those mistakes. 

As long as we learn and grow from them.

No one gets every choice or decision right in life. No one is perfectly eloquent in every reply, or does the right thing in every circumstance. So many of us regret speaking when we should be quiet, and being quiet when we should speak up.


The thing is - we tend to beat ourselves up about those “missed” occasions, moments, and words. Humanly speaking, there might be apologies that need to be made. There might need to be some hard truths we speak to our own heart and soul about our motivations and our actions. But once those are dealt with and given - we need to sew the “mistake” into a legacy.

No one gets through life doing it all perfectly. 

God says, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” NONE of us, gets it all right. 

It can be hard to see ourselves with objective eyes.  Even IF we know and acknowledge our imperfections, truly allowing ourselves to feel things without shaming or criticizing ourselves in the process, is hard.

So I say, feel. FEEL. Cry. Get angry (in a safe environment). Feel “Blue” for a bit. But then get yourself up. Allow God to empower you to turn that “feel” into “fuel”. Do something right for yourself and for others. Be better next time. Stronger, Wiser. Gentler. Kinder. More thoughtful.


Saturday, February 19, 2022

Finding Strength

Strength looks different for every individual.

For one person, strength may look like standing up and using their voice in a firm way, to protect boundaries that they usually never set up.

For another person, strength may look like having a smile on their face and a determined “joy” in their life, despite the hurts and scars that sting every morning that they wake up.

Still… for someone else… strength may look like not letting life chase the “belief” in goodness, right out of them.

Strength can show up in so many ways.

But one thing I never believe strength shows up as… is meanness. Harsh tones.  Bitterness. Payback. Or Indifference.

Strength - although it has a solid, firm, determined, resolute component to it…. Also involves gentleness, compassion, forgiveness, freedom, and love.

For even though those are “soft” words - they take great strength to have when you have open wounds, deep scars, and painful memories.


It’s hard to grow strength. But it’s like a muscle. Once used, it gets easier to re-use. We just need to tap into that part of us that is tough to get into. The part that acknowledges all is not as we wish it would have been. That all is not as we wish it IS. But we refuse to let that knowledge define us, corrupt us, steer us into another direction, or.. simply put.. win.

I pray strength for your life. And for mine. I pray God will breathe strength into my heart when I want (and have a right to) criticize, or grow hard. I pray God will grow strength in my soul when I’m weary.

Whether one day it looks like a cheerful disposition, and another day a silent determination not to engage - may we all learn that strength that comes from the Lord is always directed towards TRUTH and GOODNESS for everyone involved.

True strength has wisdom, discernment, and purpose always intertwined in it.

Let us draw on THAT.