Love is…Advent Devotional Week 2

Love is… Advent Devotional Week 2

The small decoupage plaque hung on the wall in my parents bedroom. There were four cartoon like boys and one girl painted on the plaque below the inscribed words “Love is marrying a man with five children.”  Marrying a widower with five children was a life change requiring devotion, work and sacrifice for my second mom. Not everyone has faith (or sheer stamina) to commit to such an undertaking even for a wonderful man like my father.

In not such a dissimilar way, my husband, by marrying me, a paralyzed woman with a high level spinal cord injury, has more than demonstrated a great heart of service, commitment and sacrifice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure my mom was blessed and my husband is blessed in both tangible and intangible ways….not just in spite of their situations…but because of them. For that I am most grateful.

In pondering the advent of Christmas and the theme of love for this week, I appreciate human examples that help me glimpse the true love of God and inspire me toward that great love. I see them all around me when I choose to stop and look and appreciate. It’s so easy to be tainted by the negative and destructive voices and actions that are so prevalent in our society….and in our own lives.

Why not choose to see each day with grateful, compassionate eyes and fight against the negativity of this world and the lust for earthly comforts that do not satisfy?

In fighting this negativity, I’m adding an emphasis on “no complaining words”…a kind of “complaining” fast so to speak. Who knows, maybe it will change the way I’ve been handling health issues and other frustrations recently. Words have power. Words matter.

Last night, after bemoaning to my husband about the slow and uncomfortable healing of a wound, I caught myself. Stopping, I realized that if I wasn’t complaining I might be crying (Ah! The ways we cope). But you know what? I may have needed a few tears and a hug of comfort to acknowledge that sometimes life and love are tough – and I’ll venture to say my husband may have appreciated that hug much more than the complaint.

How about you? How are your words? Especially to those who are closest to you?

Father, help us embrace your unending love for us and freely share it with others, always using our tongue as a weapon of blessing.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power….to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”  
Ephesians 3:17, 18 NIV

May we speak the truth in love and may we love with ALL our words as we prepare to celebrate the Savior’s birth… ~Madge


Fourth week of Advent – Peace!

It was September 1999 after Brent and I had dated for 2 1/2 years when, in typical female style, I wanted commitment. Although I was crazy about him, my peace with our relationship was waning. Brent was understandably cautious about taking the ‘marriage’ plunge with
anyone, much less a gal with my disability…yet I needed to get commitment or back off and regroup. That was when, after much prayer and agony, I talked to Brent about a ‘break’. It was a difficult but healthy time for both of us. When Brent called me a week after our ‘break’ started to ask me out it was almost impossible to say no, but God gave me the strength to do it. Test – passed!

Even though this ‘break’ was rife with sadness, I had peace. No matter what happened I knew we would both be fine – whether together or not.  My heart dealt with grieving the potential loss of Brent as well as the loss of my mom four months earlier.  It was my relationship with God and love for wisdom that gave me the strength to make a tough choice. I knew that peace within is not a mere absence of grief or difficulty, but an active experience of following God that promotes peace regardless of circumstances.

As we light the advent candles we remember that Christ’s birth set the stage to bring us life with hope, love, joy and peace. He is ever present in our times of grief and difficulty. I can’t help but pause to think of those who struggle to celebrate this season because they grieve.

The focus of peace reminds me to find gratitude and celebrate by making choices – wise choices – that may be tough but bear good fruit. Peace is present when we choose to thank, choose to let go of fear, and choose to trust the One and Only – especially in our grief and heartache – and even if it means a girl might never get married or never walk again!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Obviously, the story of our relationship ended in marraige…we took our healthy ‘break’ and after a couple months began to see each other again. To my complete surprise within two months Brent proposed! I think I said something like ‘Huh? Are you sure you want to get married?’ Oh yeah, then I said ‘Yes!’.

As we approach Christmas  ‘may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15:13 NIV

Would love to hear about your difficult, yet ‘peace-full’ circumstances…

Third week of Advent – Joy!

We are two weeks away from Christmas! Are you ready? Have you experienced hope and love as we intentionally take time to reflect on the season? This week’s advent focus is joy! Today we light the candle of hope, the candle of love and the candle representing joy!

I’m grateful for the focus of joy because even though this season has been overflowing with joy, today, for no reason I could pinpoint, I lacked joy. Pondering, I was reminded of Psalm 126. This psalm encouraged me and refocused my heart on joy. Here’s an excerpt:

“The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.”
Psalm 126:3

During times when we don’t ‘feel’ so joyous, contemplating our blessings, especially the blessing of our ‘come to earth’ Saviour, is sure to help us reframe and refocus.

Let us rejoice this week!

Let us choose to thank.
Let us choose to forgive.
Let us choose to hope.
Let us choose to love.
Let us choose joy.
He has done great things!

“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the rock eternal! ” Isaiah 26:4.

Let us choose to trust.
Let us laugh with those who laugh and comfort those who mourn.
He has done great things!

Let us smile and appreciate our friends and family….my precious friend Andrea loving on Tahoe warms my heart with pure joy!

Let us sing songs of joy!

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

How are you fairing this week? Won’t you choose hope, love and joy with me?

The Lord has done great things! Joy to the world!
Choosing Joy!


Second Week of Advent – Love

This week we re-light the candle of hope and we add the candle of love. We remember with grateful hearts the gift of Jesus, who came as a babe in a manger, lived and loved among us, died on a cross, and arose! His love endures forever.

Jesus brought his unselfish, compassionate and unconditional love. It’s amazing He loves us just as we are. He gives us love so we can, in turn, give it away in the same unselfish, compassionate, unconditional way.

‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ John 13:35

We can choose to offer love or to hold it back. In situations where it is hard to offer love, let’s ask for an abundance of love in our hearts so we are able to offer it to others by the power of his grace.  It seems like this season has the capacity to bring out the best and the worst in us.  Just yesterday I found myself getting grumpy with my amazing man over ‘busy’ activities. Oh, such ‘stupid stuff’ to cause a missed opportunity of gratitude and love.  I remember again and again what a gift I have in my husband!

Let’s be reminded of the distinguishing mark of love that we carry as followers of Christ and ask for His love to be evident in our words and actions as we interact with others. May we seek to bring unity and balance into relationships or situations, and listen to people with sincerity and interest.

We have hope. We have love.  Let’s live it and give it.

Father God, thank you for your generous love to us. Help us to offer that same gracious love to those we encounter. Pour your love into our hearts so we can give it away. To God be all glory. Amen.