Monday, August 23, 2010

Armed with Love: Forgiveness

"(Love) keeps no record of wrongs" 1 Corinthians 14:5
After our morning workout, my mom and I headed to the supermarket. When we came out of the store we notice a young man wondering around the parking lot. He was very young, about 18. He was covered with tattoos and dirt. He looked as though he had been sleeping with the pigs. He started to approach our car. When I began to back out he turned away. I started to feel compassion for the young man. I knew what my mom's reaction to him was. My mom has a heart for the homeless. She can't pass a homeless person on the street without giving them money. "Did he need something?" I asked my mom. She emptied her coin purse into her hand. "Pull around," she said, "If it was my son I would want someone to give him money no matter what he'd done to get himself on the street." The young man had sat himself down on a curb under a tree to escape the heat. I rolled the window down as I pulled up. "Did you need something?" I asked. The young man started to explain, "I'm having a really bad day. I was going to ask you if I could wash your windows for a couple of dollars." I reached my hand out the window. "Here you go," I said as I poured the change into his filthy hands. "Do you want my to wash your windows?" the young man asked. "No," I replied, "Do you know why I'm giving you this? Because God cares about you." The young mans face lit up and he smiled. As I drove away I thought about all the things I wish I'd said to him. I wish I'd asked him what his story was. I wish I had taken just a few more seconds to tell him about Jesus. I wish I had told him to call his parents, tell them he was sorry, and ask if he could come home. I wish I'd told him his parents would forgive him. That is what I would want someone to tell my prodigal son.

First Corinthians 13:5 says, "(Love) keeps no records of wrongs." This verse literally means that when we love, we don't keep an account of the bad things done to us. We don't make tally marks in our hearts every time we are hurt or offended. If we do we become hard hearted and resentful towards the people we love. We are bound to offend each other on a daily basis. The key to a happy marriage and family is being quick to forgive and graceful enough to not hold the offence against them.

How much offence are we supposed to take? When have we forgiven enough? Jesus says that we can never forgive enough. In Mathew 18:21-35, Peter asked Jesus this question. Peter wanted to know how much forgiveness was enough. He asked him if seven times was enough. Verse 22 gives Jesus' answer, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." Jesus did not mean that we could stop forgiving on the seventy-seventh time, but we should never stop forgiving. Jesus goes on to illustrate this in a parable explaining that we should forgive because we have been forgiven.

I also think about the Prodigal Son when I think about forgiveness (Luke 15:11-32). The most hurtful sin I can imagine is being abandoned by my loved ones. How can a spouse walk away from their partner? How can a child turn their back on their parent? Yet,I am amazed by the Father's response to the son when he returns. The Father welcomes the son back AND throws him a party. I think I would be happy to have my son back, but I don't think I would throw him a party! I would want my son to pay for the mistakes he made. That is the difference between my love, and God's love. My human love has limits, but God's love is limitless. If I want to love the way God wants me to love I have to have limitless forgiveness. The only way I can have limitless forgiveness is to love others through God's limitless love. I must ask Him to give me that love for my family every day. Lord, let me love with your limitless love. Let me forgive with your limitless forgiveness.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Indian Tacos

Whenever my grandmother comes from to visit from Oklahoma we look forward to Indian Tacos. Indian Tacos are popular in the southwest and in communities where there is a large Native American population. When my grandparents retired in Oklahoma years ago they discovered Indian Tacos at a fundraiser. My grandmother has been making them ever since. Indian Tacos are like Tostadas. An Indian Fry Bread is topped with all the fixings for a Taco Salad. Indian Fry Bread is easy to make and requires few ingredients. You can also top the Fry Bread with cinnamon and sugar for dessert or salted and used for dipping.This variation on the typical taco is a sure to become a family favorite.

Indian Tacos

1 pound ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning
1 can pinto or black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
Lettuce, shredded
Tomato, diced
Cheddar or Jack cheese, graded
Sour Cream
Avocado or Guacamole
Indian Fry Bread, prepared

Directions: Brown ground beef and season with taco seasoning. Mix in canned beans and corn. Layer all ingredients on top of Indian Fry Bread. Eat with great joy.

Indian Fry Bread

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water
Oil for frying

Directions: Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Add oil. Pour in water gradually and stir until you get a moist, elastic dough. It should almost look like it is too wet. Do not over mix or knead. Let it rest covered for 30 minutes. On a well floured board, take golf-ball sized pieces of dough. Roll in the flour. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out about 1/4 inch thick into 6-8 inch round flat. Don't worry if they are not perfectly round. They can be whatever shape you roll them into. Let rest for a few minutes. Heat oil about 1/2 inch depth in a dutch oven or deep skillet. When oil is hot, gently lay the flat in the oil. Dough will puff up in the oil as it fries. When one side is brown and crisp, turn it over. When both sides are crisp, remove from pan. Top and enjoy while the Fry Bread is still warm.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Armed with Love: Anger

"Love is not easily angered," I Corinthians 13:5.
Anger is an emotion that is hard to control. Yet God's word teaches us that anger needs to be under our control.Proverbs 29:11 says, "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." My friend Teresa told our Bible study group about a recent experience she had at a local department store that tested her ability to keep herself under control. Teresa received a excellent coupon from a local department store. She knew a shopping trip was in order. After selecting her items she proceeded to the check out line. She was surprised to find no one in line and proceeded to the register. As she was checking out two women arrived in line behind her and began making bad comments about Teresa accusing her of cutting in line. Teresa began to feel her face get red and her emotions rise. She noticed an open register. Teresa turned to the women and said, "I didn't cut in line, but there is an open register right over there." As they proceed to the register the Drama Queens continued to complain loudly about Teresa. She wanted to give the women a few choice words of her own, but she kept herself under control. When the cashier finished ringing up the items Teresa handed her the coupon. The cashier scanned the coupon and gave it back to her saying, "You should hang on to this coupon. It is good for a few more days." Almost without thinking about it Teresa turned and handed the loud-mouthed, complaining women her amazing coupon. Dumbfounded, one of them responded,"Thank you." When Teresa settled in the seat of her car she thanked God for allowing her to keep her cool. She knew it was only by God's help she did not become a Drama Queen.
Drama Queens. We all know one, live with one, maybe we are one. Drama Queens are not easy to live with. They make mountains out of mole hills. They make little problems into big problems. They turn small disagreements into major fights. They seem to enjoy the craziness that swallows up their lives. Drama Queens do not have control of their emotions. When a wife or mom is a Drama Queen, it makes for a home built on very shaky ground. Her family is never sure where they stand. They are always afraid of the next eruption of emotion. Sometimes her family finds it difficult to be honest because they know what the reaction will be. They hide things for fear of causing chaos to storm. I do not want to be a Drama Queen. I want peace to reign in my home. I must maintain control of my emotions.
I Corinthians 13 says that when we love those around us we are not easily angered. This verse does not make anger a sin. In fact, God has been known to be angry at times. Even Jesus was angry in the temple when it was being misused as a market place. Anger is not wrong. Not being in control of one's anger is. Drama Queens do not control their anger. In fact, they use their anger as a weapon against the people they claim to love. When we are quick to become angry we are putting ourselves and our feelings above those around us. James 1:19-20 gives us some insight on how we should be. It says, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." This verse says we should listen first, speak second, and take our time becoming angry. By being a good listener we can show love to the speaker. If we listen first it gives us an opportunity to understand and sympathize with the speaker. Then we can make a more reasonable response. It doesn't always mean I won't be angry, but it does mean I will be pursuing a righteous life.
I don't want to be a Drama Queen. I want my family to feel free to share their joys and sorrows knowing I will listen without jumping into a volcano of emotions. By listening I will love them better.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Homemade Dog Food

Recently I started making dog food. We are dog lovers at our house. Currently we have three dogs. Lady is a Yellow Lab mix. She is the oldest at 11 years old. We picked her up at Petsmart when the animal shelter was doing adoptions. The youngest is a little Chijuajua mix named Zoey. She is 7 months old. We adopted her from my good friend Tanya. Her dog had three puppies who all look different. It looked as though she had gone all over town adopting puppies. Zoey was the cutest and the littlest. It was love at first sight. In the middle is our Basset Hound, Ozzie. We adopted him from a friend who is a breeder. No body wanted to buy him because he is a "lemon." He doesn't have the markings that most Basset Hounds have. He is all brown with white on his chest. We always get a lot of attention when we take him out because he is so cute. His personality is always happy and friendly. Because he is a pure breed he has a lot of allergies. He has spent his six years of live chewing and scratching. The vet recommended we put him on hypoallergenic dog food. It cost us $90 a bag! When I looked at the ingredient list the main ingredient was rice. I couldn't believe it! $90 for a bag of rice. Even premium dog food cost $50 a bag. I figured I could make it. It has helped Ozzie's allergies considerably. He also quit waking us up in the night to take him out. I only wish I had done it sooner. I buy the 5 pound chub of turkey at Winco for about $7.50. This lasts me a week. I buy the other ingredients once a month at Costco. The 20 pound bag of rice costs about $7. I also get a giant bag of carrots and a huge bag of spinach for another $8. You can see this is a considerable savings over buying the hypoallergenic or premium dog food. I make it twice a week. Here is my recipe.

Homemade Dog Food

5 pounds ground turkey, browned and chopped in the food processor
10 c. dry rice, cooked according to the directions
12 carrots, chopped in the food processor
6 c. spinach, chopped in the food processor

Directions: Cook and combine all ingredients. I cook all the rice in a large pot. Then I divide the rest of the ingredients and cook it in batches. Frozen, chopped spinach is good to use. Store or freeze in containers in the fridge.

I hope you have happier and healthier dogs. Don't forget your apron!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

One Pot Macaroni

I got this recipe from my friend Julie Bodenbender. She says, "It is a little like Hamburger helper but homemade and much better." I am always looking for quick and easy meals. I am a big fan of Hamburger Helper, so this recipe is right up my ally. I hope you all will give it a try.

2 pounds hamburger or ground turkey
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1/2 c. bell pepper, chopped
2 1/3 - 3 cups macaroni
16 oz. tomato sauce
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. garlic powder

Instructions: Brown 2 pounds of hamburger(we use turkey) with an onion and green pepper, chopped. When brown and drained add 2 1/3 to 3 cups macaroni, 16 oz. tomato sauce, teaspoon of salt, 1/4 of pepper, tbsp of Worcestershire sauce and tsp of garlic powder. You can add 16 oz can of tomatoes if you like. Add enough water cover. Simmer, covered for 25 minutes, or until macaroni tender. You might need to add water, if necessary.

Julie says her kids love this dinner. Thank you, Julie for this great recipe. It sounds delicious! Happy cooking, and don't forget your apron!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cola Pot Roast

The thought of a pot roast can be over whelming. The scrubbing and peeling the vegetables, and the hours of cooking time can make pot roast a dish only served on special occasions. This Cola Pot Roast is incredibly easy to make. It requires only 4ingredients. It is made in the crock pot, which makes dinner a snap. I make this quite often. The roast cooks in its own creamy onion gravy. It can be served over potatoes or rice. You can also eat it on a bun. Your family will be very satisfied.

Cola Pot Roast

1 3lb. roast (I like pork loin roast. It's lean and I can find it on sale regularly.)
1 can diet cola
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 packet dry onion soup mix

Place roast in the slow cooker. Combine next three ingredients. Pour over roast. Cook on high 4 hours or low 8 hours. Shred and enjoy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Armed with Love: Self Seeking

"Love is not self-seeking," I Corinthians 13:5
Before my children arrived, I was a very busy part-time Children's Minister at a Southern California mega church. Anyone who has ever worked in ministry knows that there is no such thing as a part-time minister. My husband also worked part-time in the same ministry. We lived and breathed for the weekend when we were serving at our church. It was a fun and exciting job. It was truly one of the best times of my life. I enjoyed it for a number of reasons. I enjoyed working with the kids. Children can make you feel important. I put on comical productions. There is nothing like an audience laughing and enjoying my work. I liked the way it felt to have my peers and bosses tell me, "Well done." I constantly wanted to out do my last production. After a while I had begun preforming the job for very selfish reasons. Ministering became less about serving the Lord and more about serving me.
During the height of this we adopted our three children. They got sucked into the tornado that was our lives. We spent the entire weekend at church. They noticed the extra attention I got. They asked me, "Mommy, are we famous?" My answer was, "Yes, of course we are!"
Although I loved my job at church, I was very overwhelmed with my new responsibilities at home. I wanted nothing more to become a mother, but mothering was much more difficult then I had anticipated. I struggled to find a way to put myself and my children first. I felt like a plate spinner in the circus. I was constantly trying to keep all the plates spinning at once.
One weekend a mentor I respected called me into her office. She had noticed that my kids were in child care every service, every weekend. It was taking a toll on them. They had begun acting out in the class and being disruptive to the teacher. She told me that I could not continue having them spend so much time at church. At first I was very angry. I thought, "How dare she suggest such a thing? Doesn't she know that I can't continue working at church if they aren't in child care? Doesn't she know that the children's ministry can't function without me?" I was so prideful and arrogant. I left the meeting very angry and frustrated. I had a good cry about it, and the Lord started speaking to my heart. I had to put the needs of my children ahead the job I loved. My friend was right. I returned to her office in tears. She listened as I told her how overwhelmed I felt. I had to make some changes. Over time I gave up more and more responsibilities. God began braking me of my prideful attitude and renewed a desire to serve Him above all others, including myself.
"Self-seeking" in I Corinthians 13:5 does not require a complicated explanation. It simply means seeking after yourself. The Message Bible says, "(Love) Isn't always 'me first.'" Being self-seeking is looking out for "number 1." I was not loving my children when I put my self ahead of their needs.
Don't get me wrong, I do not think life needs to revolve around the kids. This can produce very self-centered kids. However, life doesn't need to revolve around me either. It does need to revolve around God. I have to measure my choices against what God would have me do. I trust that He will keep our family in balance. Philippians 2:3 says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." This is a pretty tall order. I can't do anything out of selfish ambition. The decisions I make must not be based on my own selfish desires, but on what will benefit those in the world around me. Sometimes it does benefit my children to take a "mommy time out." Taking some time for me can refresh me and make me a better mom. Balance requires me to take my eyes off me and put them on God.
Lets tie our aprons tightly, girls. This battle requires selflessness.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Armed with Love: Honor

"Love is not rude," I Corinthians 13:5.
We are a family who loves to laugh at each other. With three teenagers in our home, we are very familiar with the foul odors that can be made by a person. We tend to make light of it. Some people would consider this incredibly rude. I consider this making the best of a very bad (smelling) situation. My grandmother used to call this "bathroom talk." My cousins and I used to tease her by going into the bathroom and having pleasant conversation when she would reprimand us for our poor choices in humor.
I Corinthians 13:5 tells us, "Love is not rude." The word "rude" in this sentence is the Greek word "aschēmoneō" which means, "to act unbecomingly." My Today's New International version says it this way, "Love does not dishonor." To dishonor someone is to treat the person as if they had no value. If we want to battle dishonor we must learn honor. To honor a person is to understand their value. In the Bible the words for honor and respect are the same Greek word, "timaō." Timaō is defined, "to honour, to have in honour, to revere, venerate." In I Peter 2:17 we see this command, "Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." The word respect in this verse is the word "timaō." If I love someone with honor and respect then I revere them. Webster's Dictionary defines revere as, "to regard with respect tinged with awe." This sense of awe I must have brings something new to the mix. I must look at those I love with a new sense of awe. These creatures I live with are created uniquely by a loving God for His purpose. That is awesome.
I forget sometimes how awesome my children are. I neglect to consider my children's feelings when I am frustrated or overwhelmed. I am annoyed when they express the way they are uniquely made by God when it doesn't appeal to my sense of purpose for their lives. I sometimes say things that can be down right rude. I must learn to love them as God loves them realising that He has made them each for a special purpose. I must stand in awe and respect His creation.
Sometimes I forget how awesome my husband is. Truth be told, the dogs are the most excited creatures in the house to see my husband come home. They leap up when they hear the key slide into the lock. They jump and cheer as he enters the door. The dogs can't wait until they each receive their pet. The dogs should not be the only ones glad to see him come home. I should leap from my chair ready to greet him. I should show my appreciation for the sacrifices he made to provide for our family. I must show him the honor due him.
Domestic Warriors, we must fight our battles with honor. Prepare for battle with aprons on.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Simple Oreo Truffles

This is another great recipe from my friend, Shelly Brown. If you love Oreos you will love this one. I think you could use a small scoop to make these. I am going to make these for my next girls night. Yum!

Simple Oreo Truffles

16 oz package of Oreos
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
16 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted


Completely crush Oreos and place in a bowl. Add cream cheese. Mix until blended. Roll cookie mixture into 1-inch balls. Dip in chocolate and place on wax paper to cool. Decorate truffles as desired.

Refrigerate until firm, about one hour. Eat them all. Or cover and refrigerate.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Oatmeal Fudge Nut Bars

At our Valentine's Day Tea my friend, Shelly Brown, made this delicious dessert. She was kind enough to let me share it with you. These bars are delectably delicious. Warning  to those watching their weight: Make these only for company. That way you won't have any leftovers to gobble up later.

Crumb Mixture:
1 cup marg/butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Salt
3 cups quick oats
Cream together butter & sugar. Add eggs & vanilla. Mix together flour, soda, salt, oatmeal and add. Mix till crumbly and set aside.

Fudge Nut Filling
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 14oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup walnuts partially chopped

Heat first 3 ingredients in microwave until smooth, add vanilla & nuts. In bottom of greased 9x13 pan spread 2/3 of the crumb mixture.Spread filling over crust, then drop spoonfuls of remaining mixture on top of the chocolate. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Thank you, Shelly Brown! If you would like to submit a recipe e-mail it to
Happy baking and don't forget your apron!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Armed with Love: Boasting

"Love does not boast" I Corinthians 13:4

"I told you so," was on the tip of my tongue. I knew the best way to handle this problem, and of course, I was right. "If you had just done it my way we wouldn't be in this mess," I wanted to declare. As I looked at the down cast look on my husbands face, I knew I couldn't say that. He needed my support, not my judgement.

We learn in I Corinthians 13:4 that love does not boast. The King James Version uses the words, "vault ones self." When I was a girl I loved to watch gymnastics on T.V. At the Summer Olympics in 1984, Mary Lou Retton scored perfect 10 on the vault. It earned her the gold medal. I could imagine the feeling of running at full speed toward the horse, springing into the air, twisting, turning, and sticking the perfect landing. I was inspired to take gymnastics class after watching her amazing performance that summer. My experience was not so graceful. I was too chicken and weak to succeed at it.

We often use our words as a spring board to lift ourselves up higher than is naturally possible. We say things to give ourselves a boost, to make ourselves look better than we really are. Thayer's Lexicon describes this form of boasting as, "a self display, employing rhetorical embellishments in extolling one's self excessively." Boasting is putting myself on a pedestal for all to see. While I stand up there I will give myself complements that need no response other then your gracious applause. We have very sneaky ways of doing this. We might say, "If I wasn't here you would all starve," or "If I want it done right I guess I'll have to do it myself." My personal favorite is, "I wish you would have listened to me. This never would have happened." The fact is none of these statements are true, but I say them to make myself look better and my loved ones feel worse.
Romans 12:3 says, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." This verse says we should judge ourselves honestly, not putting ourselves higher than those around us. My opinions and methods are not better than my husband's, they are just different. I am guilty of making mistakes also. Only God knows the outcome of our situations.

Philippians 2:3-4 takes this to the next level, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." I should humbly consider the things I say. My feelings are not the only feelings that matter. If I follow Philippians 2:3, I will consider other people better than myself and put their interests before mine. This is being a servant leader in my home. I would like to see my kids model this in their own lives, so I must display it in mine.

There is a time when scripture says it is okay to boast. Jeremiah 9:23-23 says, "This is what the Lord says: 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the Lord." When my husband is going through a difficult time I want to boast, "Thank God! We have Him on our side. He can take care of us." I want to say, "We serve a God who is always kind," when my kids make mistakes. I want to keep my finger pointed heavenward to the God who sees us(Gen. 16:13) because His love never fails.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dump Cake

This recipe is in honor of my grandmother, Carolyn Dunn. I love her so much I named my daughter after her. She is a very kind and compassionate person. She is also a fabulous cook! My love of cooking has been past down from her. She has been making Dump Cake as long as I can remember. Dump Cake got it's name because it is made by dumping the ingredients in the pan. Dump cake is like a cobbler, but much easier and with better results. It can be made with any type of fruit, even pumpkin. Our favorite is peach. I've also made it using homemade apple sauce. Yummy!

Dump Cake

3- 4 cans of fruit
1 yellow, white, or vanilla cake mix
1 stick of butter (You can use margarine, but everything is better with butter!)

Dump cans of fruit in a 9 by 13 pan. Dump dry cake mix over it evenly. Pour 1 stick of melted butter over the top. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and cake is firm when you shake the pan. There will be some liquid in the bottom. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Thanks for the good eating, Grandma! I think I'll make a Dump Cake for my husband,Larry, today. Happy baking and don't forget your apron!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Carrot Cake Cookie Bars

Easy desserts are always welcomed by a Domestic Warrior. I learned how to make these delicious bar cookies from my dear friend, Julie Hines. She makes a variation using lemon cake mix and white chocolate chips that is divine. I tried it with carrot cake Monday night and it was a major hit. If you need a quick dessert this is the one to turn too.

Carrot Cake Cookie Bars

1 box of Carrot cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 bag of white chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cake mix, eggs, and oil until combined. Add the entire bag of white chocolate chips and mix. Spread into a 9/13 greased pan and bake 30 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean. Enjoy and don't forget your apron!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Armed with Love: Envy

"Love does not envy." I Corinthians 13:4

When I think of envy, I think of wanting something someone else has. I can't easily relate this to my spouse. After all, what's his is mine and what's mine is his. How could I envy him? In some translations of the Bible it says, "Love is not jealous." I think with both these words something is lost in the translation. I have been a little confused regarding envy. I've done some research that has helped me understand why love does not envy.

The word envy used in this verse is the word "zēloō." Blue Letter Bible defines zēloō as "to burn with zeal." Webster's dictionary defines zeal as, "fervor for a person, cause or object;eager desire or endeavor; enthusiastic diligence; ardor." Don't you hate it when you look something up in the dictionary and then have to look up another word in the definition to figure out what that means? Me too. Fervor is defined as, "great warmth or eagerness of feeling; passion; intense heat." Zeal means passion for a person, cause or object. This makes me scratch my head a little. I'm not supposed to have passion for my spouse? I thought passion was a good thing? Zeal can be used in a good or bad way. We are encouraged to pursue service for the Lord with zeal. Romans 12:11 says,"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." God operates in zeal all throughout the book of Isaiah which says,"The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."(Isaiah 9:7,37:32) Jesus was overcome with zeal when he cleared the temple of the money changers(John 2: 17). In all of these cases they have one thing in common. There passion was so great it expressed itself with a some heat, even anger.

The second definition of envy in the Blue Letter Bible is, "to boil with envy, hatred, anger." This is the kind of passion that is so strong it burns within you, even causing hatred or anger. To zealously pursue someone is to desire someone so greatly it consumes you. You want to possess the person. For me envy boils down to one thing: control. I start to feel this kind of burning when I feel as if I've lost control. I get angry when things don't go my way. I want my husband to want to spend his time with me. When he chooses to spend time doing something else, like play video games, I get angry. (Okay, God, I see how lame this sounds right now.)

Why am I like this? I think it comes down to the very beginning. We can look to our mother, Eve. After Eve sinned in the garden she received some very hard consequences. Painful childbirth was one of them. The other one is this, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.(Gen.3:16)" My desires, passion, even, dare is say, zeal are for my husband because of the fall. However, he is in charge of his own feelings and behaviors. I can't control him no matter how hard I try. Why would I want to? I relate this to God. He could have created us only to love Him because He is all powerful and can do whatever He wants. We could have been robot drones to love and worship him. If he forced us to love Him would that really be love? No. He created us with free will because love can only be given freely. I want my husband to also be free to love me. I don't want him to love me out of obligation, or because I have expectations I want him to meet. I want us to share a mutual affection that is only made better and stronger together. So I'm going to quit nagging him to get off the computer. I'll quit complaining when he's late home from work and forgets to call. I'll love him freely and release him to love me freely as well. Next time you start to feel that passion burn within your belly because your expectations have not been met, remember "love does not envy." These battles are best won with aprons on!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Armed with Love: Kindness

Love is kind. When I think of being kind I think of being nice. I want my teenage children to be nice to each other. Many hundreds of times have I said, "Treat people how you want to be treated." I want to be treated well, so I will treat other people with the same respect. The problem comes when someone treats us badly, then we want to treat them worse. After all, they must want to be treated bad. They have acted badly towards me.

Kindness goes far deeper then just being nice. Kindness is described by Richard Trench as being,"the expression of a beautiful grace." Kindness is the action of grace. Grace is something you can't earn and you don't deserve. Giving some one a gift is kind because we give it out of love, not because they deserve to receive it. Kindness isn't treating people how you want to be treated, it's treating people better than they deserve.

Kindness is attractive. We were attracted to God because of his kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 says, "The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'" We want to be in relationship with God because of his kindness. He treats us better than we deserve. The reward for our sin should be death, but instead God gives us eternal life through Jesus (Romans 6:23).

We probably worked very hard to attract our current spouse by being kind to them. When we were first dating, Larry would bring me a little gift every day. It wasn't an expensive gift. Sometimes the gift wouldn't cost him anything, but he still wanted to show me kindness and give me a treat. To me those little gifts were priceless. He still does this. He'll bring me a soda when I really need one, or a little piece of chocolate out of the candy dishes on his customer's desks. I still appreciate it and feel loved. This kindness shows me he was thinking about me through out his day.

I also showed him an extra amount of kindness when we were first dating. The first day Larry came over to a family gathering he got a terrible bloody nose. All the woman in our family rushed to take care of him. I sat by his side and cared for him until the bleeding stopped (which took a while). He knew he wanted to be a part of such a kind family. Not long after that I went to his house when he was sick to take care of him. I enjoyed nursing him back to health. What? Now I run from the room and shut the door when he's sick. I used to baby him, now I want him to man up. This is not kindness. I want to treat him with an extra level of grace, not just when he is sick, but also when he is well. I should treat Larry with more kindness than I treat everyone else and that kindness will draw him to me. I should be so kind he feels as though he does not deserve such good treatment.

Being kind takes extra effort. The extra effort is what makes the recipient feel humbled by the action and therefore loved. This type of kindness is represented by David's mighty men in 1 Chronicles 11:10-19. David had a few super heroes on his side. They were able to win battles and defeat hundreds of men. He was privileged to have them as friends. At this time David was hiding out in a cave that overlooked his beloved hometown of Bethlehem. The Philistines have captured the city. He is reminiscing about his life as a shepherd boy and how sweet the water from the well tasted after a long day with the herd. The mighty men loved David and would have done anything to make him happy. During the night his three friends snuck past enemy lines to fetch David water from that well in Bethlehem. When they offered the water to David, their kindness humbled him. He poured out the water before the Lord saying, "God forbid I should do this! Should I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?" He knew the water they offered was too good for him. Their offering was only good enough for the Lord.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if our kindness got the same reaction? What if our spouse said, "The kindness you have showed is not good enough for me, it is only good enough for the Lord. I feel loved by God because of you." What efforts can you make today to show more kindness to those around you? Do something special for the one you love every day.