This word called Love


ImageWhen I was six years old, my great-grandmother Ruth Knowles explained to me that people loved each other, they could choose to love God and Jesus, but people could not love the taste of her homemade apple pie or a television show. “Love,” she explained, “was an emotion.” She helped me to see that people used the word love so often and for so many reasons, we cheapened the very meaning of the word.

If I am not careful, even today, I will find myself saying that I love a particular television series or that I love to be alone sometimes, walking the edge of the forest. I always correct myself, knowing that my granny would disapprove. She explained, “We enjoy watching television or listening to the radio. People like the taste of ice cream, so they enjoy eating it now and then.”

Ruth taught me that people did not love ‘things’, they loved people and the God who created them. We enjoy the taste of, the sound of, the feel of, the smell of and the sight of things. “Bobbie, never say that you love an object or any non-living thing.” For me to do so would set her teeth on edge. If there was one person I truly did not want to disappoint, it was my great-grandmother.

As a society, we have cheapened the meaning of the word ‘love’. Because we have, people have a skewed understanding of the meaning of love. This was what Ruth was afraid would happen eventually.

When two people get married, they vow to love each other until death. Many couples are doing well to last five years today. Physical attraction is not love. However, if two people have no physical attraction for each other, it would be impossible for them to have a romantic love for one another. Isn’t it funny how love works?

We don’t have to be attracted to one another to show love and respect. There are many types of love. The love we have for parents is different from the love we have for a best friend. The way in which we love a spouse is different from the love expressed for our children. There are varying degrees and levels of love. Even in a relationship, one person may have a stronger love than the other.

One thing is true of love. It is never ending. People say they fell out of love. No more ridiculous statement has ever been said. By the very nature of love, it can’t stop. The truth is this: the couple who say they fell out of love, never loved each other to begin with. They may have had a physical attraction to each other, which can cease over time. If you ever feel true love for someone, you always will.

People should remember this when they have children and decide to divorce. They tell their children that they have stopped loving one another, but they will never stop loving them (the child/children). Children are not stupid. They have the ability to reason: if mom stopped loving dad, she can stop loving me. This is a traumatic awakening for a child.

How much better it would be for parents to explain it this way, “Your dad and I thought we were in love with each other. Over time, we realized that we had a lot in common, but there was no real love between us. Therefore, we have decided to live separately for awhile.” This way, the child realizes that mistakes can be made between adults concerning love, but both parents love the child. He doesn’t feel the fear of losing the love from mom or dad.

Love will take us down many roads in life. Memories will be made that will become bittersweet. Hearts will be broken. Lives will be changed forever. But know this, love is never ending. It is an emotion that is stronger than death. Real love does not end just because a spouse has died or divorced you. It doesn’t end when your child grows up. Love still exists somewhere inside you when a person speaks the name of the first girl/boy you feel in love with so many years ago.

Love is a beautiful emotion. It can grow and deepen through the years. It is a pity so many marriages end in divorce before love has had an opportunity to grow. I am realistic however. Some marriages need to end. No one should live with an abuser. No spouse should have to put up with a partner who parks his car in the garage of other women on a regular basis.

Think about the people you love this week. Just for a moment, picture life without them. Then go tell them just how much you do love them. Kiss the back of his neck, hold her hand, put your arms around each other and appreciate what you have. Next, go find the children and tell them how much you love them, then explain to them what love is and what it isn’t.

The difference between happiness and joy


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Everyone wants to be happy. That is a given. Ask people what it means to be happy and you will likely get a different answer from each one. Depending upon what we already have, perceived needs and our area of interest, we will give an answer based on who we are at the moment. Since every life is fluid, the definition of ‘happy’ is ever changing.

The feeling or emotion we call ‘being happy’ is a fleeting emotion. No one can be happy all the time. I know this because people die and this makes us very sad. We get hurt or become ill and there is nothing to be happy about in those situations. Even if you love your job, there are days when you just want it to be over so you can go home, kick off your shoes and collaspe on the sofa.

You may love your spouse and your children, live in a comfortable home and lack nothing, but you still will not be happy all day long every day of the year. Happiness is an emotion. Emotions change constantly. Joy is a state of being.

My children and grandchildren bring me joy. I enjoy gardening, making things with my own hands, writing, living in the mountains and going to church with my fellow Christians. I enjoy watching the deer graze in my front yard and knowing that a black bear cub makes his rounds through the edge of my property where he robs the wild honey bees every summer.

There is much joy in my life. I am content most days to do the things I normally do. I don’t live in a fancy house or drive the newest vehicle. I don’t have everything I want or many things that would make my life easier. I do have joy in my life.

Learning that a friend has overcome an illness and is back at work makes me happy. Seeing my children and grandchildren makes me happy. Winning the lottery would probably make me happy. Being happy comes and goes. God never promised us we would always be happy once we became Christians. He did say we would know peace and joy.

No matter what happens in our own lives or what happens in the world, we can live in peace and joy. The kind of peace that comes from knowing there is nothing too big for God to handle is the ultimate peace. It is a lasting peace. We can have a lasting peace and lasting joy in our lives by knowing that God is in control of everything.

We won’t be happy every minute of every day. There is too much life in living for us to always be happy. We have to earn money to pay bills and buy food. We have obligations that come even when we don’t have the energy to deal with them. We will have our hearts broken by people we thought we could trust and believe in. We will experience great sadness when those we love die. No, we just can’t be happy all the time. But, we can know joy every day.

Does the beauty of a sunrise or sunset bring you joy? Do you know joy when a cool breeze touches your face on a hot summer day? Can you feel the joy on a late summer night when the heat begins to wane and the crickets sing? Maybe you feel the joy when it rains at night or when you hear your child say something that proves he does listen to you after all.

Joy can fill your day. Happiness comes and goes. Don’t expect others to make you happy. It is not their job. It is not your job to make others happy. You can make them comfortable. You can feed them good food. You can make their lives easier, but it is not your job to make them happy.

Enjoy the riches of your life. You don’t have to be wealthy or be the prettiest or most handsome to know joy. Accept what you have and be at peace with who you are. If you believe you need to change, change because you want to change. Don’t change who you are to make someone else happy. Happiness comes and goes. People come and go. Sometimes, it is just time for them to go. Let go. You may be sad for a while, but sadness comes and goes also.

Christmas plus credit cards equal overspending


English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Esperanto: Patro Kristnasko kaj malgranda knabino Suomi: Joulupukki ja pieni tyttö (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Humans are strange creatures. We reason that, since we don’t have any extra money to buy Christmas gifts, it is okay to charge the gifts. With a credit card, it is too easy to charge and charge until we have created a huge bill. Where will the money come from to pay the large monthly bill? No problem, we have an entire month before we have to start paying it back.

Every parent wants to buy gifts for his children. Nobody wants young children to learn too early that Santa doesn’t exist. If Christians would tell their children that Santa is just a fairy tale like Cinderella or Snow White, and mom and dad have to buy the gifts, maybe they wouldn’t be so expectant of expensive gifts. For some reason, parents believe it is justified to lavish children with anywhere from five to 15 expensive gifts. Children won’t expect what they have never received.

Keep Christmas gift-giving sane. Don’t get carried away and try to buy every gift on a child’s wish-list. The entire family suffers when the credit card bills come due anyway. Even if you have already established a pattern of over-giving at Christmas, you can still halt this run-away train and put it in reverse.

If children are old enough to understand, explain that Christmas will be lean due to financial circumstances. Ask them to choose just one gift this year. If children are too young to understand about finances, they are too young to know the difference between what they received last year and what they will receive this year. In other words, just buy one or two durable, but inexpensive gifts. Too many toys just overwhelm children anyway.

For gift exchanging among friends, church family and relatives, bake your best desserts, cookies or make candy and wrap it in pretty package. You can’t really please everyone anyway. Food puts a smile on their face every time. You could also get ideas for homemade gifts that look as elegant as anything you could buy by checking pinterest or stumbleupon.

Don’t let Christmas put you in depression when the bills roll in for the new year. Take charge instead of letting the charge cards take control of you. Getting out of debt is like losing weight. It takes a few minutes of pleasure to gain it, but a lifetime to lose it.