Divisive Love

“I love you,” my 7 year old daughter cooed…….

……..as an invisible fist punched my soul.

I don’t consider myself a jealous person – but it’s what struck me in that moment.

My daughter’s affectionate words were not meant for me. Or her dad. They weren’t for a sibling (wouldn’t that be great though??). Not for a cousin or a grandparent or aunt or uncle.

She gave her love to someone else.

For a split second I felt betrayed. I am her mother after all; how dare she love someone else outside of the family? It’s not natural! – is it? A child’s greatest affection is supposed to be for her parents and family, right?

And after the feelings of betrayal, insecurity took over: what if she stops loving me? Am I a bad mom?

Yet in my spirit I knew these feelings and questions were not right, were not of Truth. They were rooted in fear, selfishness and pride.

Yes, pride. Because if I want my kids to love me more than anyone else, I am setting myself up as God in their lives; making myself an idol for them to worship, fear, obey.

Often when I think of love, I think of it as something that brings people together; as a unifying force. But if that is the extent of our understanding of love, then we miss the mark – we misunderstand the depths of love.

I’m coming to understand that a unifying love is first a dividing love. A pure and holy love, in its very nature, must first separate itself from any impure and unholy loves of this world.

Psalm 97:10 – Hate evil, you who love the Lord….

I John 2:15 – Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Jesus makes it even more personal. Painfully personal.

Matthew 10:37-39 – He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

It’s hard enough for me to follow Christ this fervently; can I bear to allow my children to follow Him in this manner too? To tell them to think of me as nothing so that they will sanctify Him as everything in their hearts?

I hope my children will obey Christ’s greatest commandment to love God and love others. I even pray it over them. But have I really meant it all this time?

Meaning it requires me to relinquish my claim on their love.

If I really want them to experience Supernatural love, I have to be prepared to offer up the natural love of mother and child on the altar of my heart.

One day, I fervently hope and pray that each of my children will declare with their mouths and by their lives that they love Christ more than all else – even me.

Maybe that ‘one day’ is beginning now. What if the whole point of parenting is to guide our children away from us and toward their Heavenly Father? They are born attached to us; naturally. But from the moment of detachment from the womb, maybe our number one purpose is to reflect the love of God so vividly that it propels them toward a perfectly pure and holy re-Birth and attachment; supernaturally.

And maybe, beyond the logic and reason and rationale of earthly genius, this division leads to a greater unity because of our unified love in and for the triune God.

When I point my children in the direction of the Savior and urge them to depart from me, we will actually journey together toward a deeper unity.

No longer will it only be a unity based on biology, but instead a unity based on eternity!

The natural for the supernatural.

It’s the way God has always seemed to deal with His people, Old Testament and New. He called out the nation of Israel, separated them from the rest of the nations, loved them uniquely, and unified Himself to them in that love. Through that unity, His people were a beacon for the nations to join in that same relationship.

He has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light – together with Him and His people. We are a Holy, Royal, and Chosen people belonging together to Him. Through this unity, we are messengers of His excellencies to the nations – proclaiming that all may enter this beautiful relationship

Natural affection is clingy, jealous, and limiting of the beloved. It’s the invisible fist that assaulted my soul at my daughter’s declaration of love for someone else.

Supernatural love divides for the sake of greater unity. It’s what prompts me to declare, “Yes! Daughter! Love others! Love Your Creator! Our supernatural unity as sisters in Christ far outshines our biological bond as mother and daughter!”

Matthew 12:46-50 –  While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”


To Tame the Pain – A Tame the Crave Update

Pain craves comfort –relief.

So I crave salty & sweet.

Though I’ve been silent on my my health journey the past month and a half, Tame the Crave still has occupied many of my thoughts. I’m daily conscience of my healthy and not-so-healthy eating habits. I’m continuing to work in work-outs to my lifestyle. And my weight is still flat-lined. No change for a few months now.

Flat-lined. It’s the summer story of my heart; and becoming my autumn story too.

I can’t seem to find the joy that should clothe me with proof of my abundant life in Christ. It’s like emotional anemia.

No tragic or traumatic event has befallen me or my family; but a deep seeded thorn of pain has grown and begun to wrap its wandering vines around my heart. I’m giving attention, and pursuing healing; but it’s an arduous process.

It’s a process that almost audibly begs me to reach for comfort from ooey-gooey sweets and fancy melty cheeses. And I’ve succumbed on occasion. And it has comforted temporarily. But here I am still – processing the same deep pain.

Maybe it’s a testing? To teach me to seek full-heart comfort instead of full-belly comfort?

On the brighter side – because of the mental and physical changes I’ve adopted this year, my splurges are far less ‘splurgy’ than past splurges. Like a handful of chocolate chips rather than a large chocolate peanut butter brownie milkshake from Sonic.

I  know it’s a fairly short update, but emotional anemia makes it difficult to communicate well. This is what I have to offer. And I offer it in hope that maybe one other person out there can be comforted by simply knowing they are not alone in the struggle — can say, “me too.”

“Why are you in despair, O my soul?

And why have you become disturbed within me?

Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,

The help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 42:11

This is the truth I am attempting to feast upon as my source of full-heart comfort. Will you join me at the table?

A Breath of Love

Who knew a short walk would be so difficult?

Our family recently visited Yellowstone National Park. We were awed by the magnificence of it all – the deep blue hot springs, yellowish and auburn rocked grand canyon, vibrant wildlife, shooting geysers, and bubbling mud pots.

But, I remember one short hike in particular; though, not because of the scenery, as you might suppose. What I remember about this walk was how labored my breathing became after a few brisk steps.

My lungs function quite well at my home in the valley. But, at 7,000 feet above sea level, where oxygen is a bit more scarce, they began to shout discomfort.

Breathing – most of us do it without thinking; minute after minute, day after day. However, when breathing becomes difficult, it suddenly becomes our most consuming focus of the moment. Inhale. Exhale. It is our very life. No Inhale, no Exhale, no Life.

As Christians, love is to be our very life. Love of God and love of others.

And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’  “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’

Matthew 22;37-39

But loving others is just downright hard sometimes. It’s one of my greatest failings. Even this past week, I perceived in my soul the labored struggle to love others. I’ve been convicted about the many times I haven’t let love be the motivating force in my attitudes, actions, and conversations with others.

I long for a solution to this problem.

For quite a while, I bought into the world’s lie that, ‘you can’t love unless you love yourself.’

Don’t buy it. The idea begs so many questions.

How can we, as imperfect people who don’t even know the depths of ourselves, possibly show fulfilling and perfect agape-love to ourselves!? It would be like expecting my oxygen deprived lungs to create oxygen for themselves from nothing. It has never worked and it never will! We can show deference to ourselves above others, we can say positive things about ourselves to try to mend our broken pride, we can pamper ourselves in excess; but none of this will make us feel more loved, and it especially won’t help us love others!

You see, God did not create us to love ourselves. Just like I could not muster up breath in and of myself to satisfy my body’s need for oxygen, I cannot muster up in myself the love I need to satisfy my soul, let alone someone else’s. It’s not in loving myself more (which, let’s be honest, almost always leads to self-centered attitudes and actions) that I gain the ability to love others, it’s in breathing in His love that I can exhale with love for others.

God created us to be thankful and worshipful recipients of His perfect gifts. One His greatest gifts is His love.

“…man’s love for God… must always be very largely, and must often be entirely, a Need-love.”

~C.S. Lewis

God made us to need Him and His love. That need must drive us to find love in Him alone. Because it’s in His love alone that we have the power to truly love another.

 We love, because He first loved us.

1 John 4:19

…Not because we love ourselves, not because of obligation, not because of any goodness within us.

We love because we are loved.

Humility before our Creator is required if ever we are to receive – breathe in – what He is offering to us, His creatures. The more we are filled with His love, giving Christ-like love to others becomes effortless – like breathing in the valleys.

The labored breathing on my 7,000 foot walk was a stark reminder of my need for oxygen. Difficulties in love should be a flashing neon sign that point us in the direction of the One true Source of life-giving love.

“Just as the Father has loved me, I have also love you; abide in my love.”

~ Jesus (John 15:9)

If it’s hard to catch your breath today, if love is elusive, take a deep breath of the Savior’s love for you. Come worship and bow down, kneel before the Lord your Maker, and abide in His love.

Inhale love. Exhale love.

I’ll be doing the same.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

St. Augustine


How My Marriage Saved Me

I was a 22 year old mess when I married my husband. Poor guy hardly knew what he was getting himself into! I had yet to overcome the oppression of fear, insecurity, and anger that seized me in my teen years. 1 John 4:8 says, “He who does not love does not know God.” This was me. I was a Christian, but I didn’t understand God because I didn’t understand His love and I certainly didn’t know how to share it with others.

Twelve years have gone by now. God has taught me so many things about Himself through my marriage. And thankfully, God has used my husband as a key player in His ultimate plan to heal me by His love.

A couple years ago, I sat down to write a note to my husband for our tenth anniversary. I couldn’t help but think about the transforming power of God’s love through him and the tremendous change wrought in my soul as a result.

To  My Dearest Husband,

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear”

[This is 1 John 4:18. Not sure why, back then, I used the version with archaic language……]

For so long, even since childhood, fear has had a strong grip on my life. I would even say at times it has paralyzed me. I so desperately longed for close relationships yet they seemed so elusive because I felt so inept and fearful. This cycle only proved to bring me down and to prevent me from the growth I needed. But God in His kindness has not stopped working in my life. As I grew to better understand His love for me, fear has slowly slipped away. And as God has shown me, through you, that another person can love me just the way I am, even more fear is relieved and is replaced with a sure confidence in who I truly am and what God really thinks of me because of His Son.

Your role in this growth is monumental. Without your unconditional love, I know I would still be the same fearful, angry, hurting teenager that I am so glad to be rid of. Thank you for showing me that I too can love this way. I think this will be my next great challenge – now that I am finally learning to be loved, I can truly begin to love others unconditionally. I am convinced that the most powerful catalyst for change in someone’s life is God’s love, especially when it is manifested through those who love Him.

Please know that I mean this all with the greatest sincerity and that I truly desire to show you even more how much I love you in the 10 years to come!

I love you so much and wouldn’t trade our life together and our family for the world!




God used my marriage to save me. It saved me from a loveless life. It took one person and his unrelenting love and commitment to me to break through the pernicious walls of fear and lies I had constructed to ‘protect’ myself. My husband’s willingness to be a conduit of God’s love served to draw me in, closer to God’s love.  

But he’s not the only one who has shown me God’s love: parents, siblings, extended family, friends – the list is massive – have all contributed too. That’s the beauty of the Body of Christ! We are truest to our identity when we Love. Period.

That’s what it takes for any of us to be healed by Love. It doesn’t have to be marriage. Maybe it’s a brother, a sister, a friend. Whoever it is, God’s love at work in His people changes lives. It changed mine. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Can I offer some encouragement to those of you feeling fearful, insecure, and angry? To those feeling a bit – or a whole lot – of a mess? Tune your minds to the Love around you. It is there. God is living and active in His people. Maybe, like me, it’s been so easy to get wrapped up in your own feelings that you miss the love your spouse, family member, or friend is showing you. They aren’t perfect, but neither are you. Intentionally see the love – and then accept it. You have a responsibility to recognize and reckon with the truth. If you chose to shirk this responsibility, then you are ultimately the one to blame. I can boldly say these things because I have been there. We are not victims to our emotions or to lies, we are culpable for what we choose to believe. Don’t be like the nation of Israel in Malachi 1:2: “‘I have loved you,’ says the LORD. Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’” They dared to say this back to God after his millennia of favor toward them. Have regard for the lavish Love of your Heavenly Father!

And to those of you spouses, friends and family members doing your best to share God’s love with someone like me: Don’t give up. Don’t grow weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9). Keep loving with God’s love. Your love might be returned with injury, but please, please, please, don’t stop! God’s love streaming through you can save a life! And remember, that sometimes love is tough. It doesn’t put up with lies and self-pity and it doesn’t bow to the whim of the loveless person’s emotions. God-love stands firm on God’s truth. My husband does a wonderful job of stopping me in my tracks when I go down the path of lies. He simply won’t let me continue. I can recall many occasions where he left the room when I was spewing caustic insults and lies his way. You don’t have to stand there and take it. But continue to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Stay rooted in your walk with the Lord so you will abide in the resource of His love to pour out to others.

I was sinking deep in sin

Far from the peaceful shore

Very deeply stained within

Sinking to rise no more.

But the master of the sea

Heard my despairing cry

And from the waters lifted me

Now safe am I. 

Love lifted me

Love lifted me

When nothing else could help

Love lifted me!!!

~ James Rowe


Finally, we stepped off the airplane and onto the little island of Okinawa – a bit behind schedule. Our new friends Kenji and Heather were there to sweep us away for a quick night’s rest before we were to be ferried away to the even smaller island of Tokashiki.

Easter morning greeted us with early morning sun and warmth as we huddled in a convenience store parking lot. We were about to pile into vans and head for the port when a brief phone call halted us.

Somewhere, in some ocean (I’ll be honest, my geographic knowledge of that part of the world is somewhat lacking), a typhoon was churning  and in turn making our route unsafe for travel.

We really needed this day to get things set up before the students’ arrival on Monday. And we were hoping to have a great time of getting to know the Cadence* staff as well.

But God is good. And He has His own plans.

Though this turn of events threw off many peoples’ plans, I am pleased to report that everyone handled the problem with grace and flexibility, resulting in a unification that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred. The Body of Christ really has an opportunity to shine when faced with difficult circumstances, and this time our group and Cadence staff did just that.

We spent Easter Sunday studying God’s Word, going to sushi, and visiting Cadence run youth groups on a couple different military bases.  This allowed us to get to know some of the staff and students before camp (Shorebreak). Looking back, this was extremely valuable. Relationship building with students got off to an even earlier start than expected!

Monday morning was a repeat of Sunday morning, and this time the route was safe for travel! So our Corban team, the Cadence staff, adult volunteers, and all the students boarded the ferry and arrived on Tokashiki around lunch time. It was a mad dash to get set up, but it happened!


Bare feet required at this sushi restaurant!




Some of the Corban Team (Andrew, Bjorn, Tori, Lisa, and TJ)


On the ferry to Tokashiki

Next blog I hope to share with you more about the specific roles Cyrus and I had for the week. So much more to come!

* Please take a minute to visit cadence.org to learn more about Cadence International and the wonderful ministry they have with military members and their families. It was a privilege to work alongside them!