The True Love of the World

Last night, after a delicious meal at our favorite restaurant in Fairhope; I was overwhelmed at the true love I felt during our date night out. While wrapping up our dessert I received the sweetest text from my brother-in-law, Dave. He was thanking me for his mom for my prayers 6 years ago on his behalf. I wasn’t thinking about those prayers. In fact, JB and I had just been reminiscing about special times we shared with each other and our children over the last 43 Valentine’s we’ve shared together. It was the sweetest time together.

Valentine's Tablescape

It was in the midst of these great memories that I received the text from Dave thanking me for my prayers 6 years ago. He even had a copy of the prayers I lifted on his behalf. There were literally 100’s if not 1,000’s praying for his physical healing back then, because he is truly loved by many. I believe wholeheartedly that GOD heard the masses praying for him along with my little prayers from Fairhope because there is power in prayer. But, to receive this text on this particular day is nothing short of a miracle from heaven above. Why you ask?

The True Love of the World

Yesterday I published the post about Heirloom China and received the nicest replies from my friend Karen, her daughter, husband and her father. It made my day. I had scheduled to publish this post on Valentine’s Day because that was the first tablescape idea we styled with the china she inherited from her aunt. Late yesterday afternoon she shared with me how members of her family had tears in their eyes as they read my post. It moved them to see her in photos with her grandfather who passed away on February 14th years ago. Her husband never got to meet him. I had no idea her grandfather died on Valentine’s Day. I believe God used me and that post to bless her family in a way that I never expected. I felt the love of my friend and felt once again the reassurance that my blog has a purpose. I confess that there are times I picture myself writing/speaking to an empty conference room. It can be disheartening.

Empty room

Then, as I read through the message from Dave’s mom the quote from the Statue of Liberty popped into mind. I didn’t know why at the time.

Statue of Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I immediately thought of the true love of our lives.  The true lamp of the world is Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the World. The DOOR to Heaven is Jesus Christ. He calls to this world that He gave His life for to come to Him to breathe free. He suffered and died so that the masses of tired, masses of poor, those who feel wretched like a piece of refuse, the tempest-tossed, and all the homeless can come to Him and enter into covenant with HIM. It is out of HIS great kindness that HE offers us repentance.

Everlasting Covenant with the God of the Universe

HE is a word-keeping GOD. When we come to HIM acknowledging that we need HIM and that we are not righteous as HE is, the GOD of the universe enters into covenant with us just as HE did with Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and through the Messiah.

rainbow a sign of promise
Natural rainbow. a sign of covenant

This is the true love of the world. There is no greater love than that of a man who will lay down his life for another. Christ is our example. As I contemplate the day of love fashioned by the world, I couldn’t let this day go by without inviting whoever might read this to come to the Light. Knock and the DOOR shall be opened.

All of this contemplation started with a thank you from my brother-in-law. God heard our prayers and healed him to a purpose. HE used him in ways where we see HIS purpose in Dave’s life then and now. He and my sister, Kristie are now allowing God to use them to teach us the meaning of being in covenant with the God of the universe. It is a life changer. A heart surgery by the greatest surgeon of all time.

I can’t begin to explain in this little blog post the great love I’ve felt today. I’ve marveled at the love God has and had for Dave 6 years ago. The love HE had for us to hear our prayers is overwhelming. The love He has shown me through my husband, friends and my extended family today is priceless.  The love HE has for Karen and her family, as HE comforts her on Valentine’s Day through a post about heirloom china. The thing I’ve learned today is that when I pay attention there is love all around me. And sometimes it even shows up from years previous.

the true love of this world

It surprised me at first that the quote from the Statue of Liberty is what came to mind when I received his text message.  Why didn’t the Lord remind me of scripture instead? I even replied to my sister and brother-in-law that I felt I was reacting quite dramatically to his gratitude by quoting from the statue. But, then I was reminded of HIS covenant. It was offered to Noah as an everlasting promise, to Abraham and all his descendants – FOREVER!! His covenant is for all who believe and obey HIS GOSPEL. If that is not for the masses, I don’t know what is!  When I think of the love that has transpired through the ages for each generation from the beginning of time to now, I am awed. I am humbled at HIS greatness through the ages. The love HE shows me by reminding me years later that HE listens and hears me when I pray is powerful.

true love of the world

The freedom offered through Jesus Christ is everlasting. And I am reminded that even an audience of one who might be comforted by this message makes it purposeful. I hope you felt loved yesterday. I most hope you felt loved by Jesus, the true love of this world.

The Friendships of Women

Some of the best gifts that I received for Christmas this year, were renewed friendships with several old time gal-pals. I’ve heard and believed for years that people are brought into our lives for a season and a reason. Well if that’s true, then the friendships of certain women can absolutely be brought back into our lives for another reason and hopefully an even longer season.

These ladies have been “out of season” for a spell, but for whatever reason HE chooses, they’ve been brought into the fold of precious friends again.

On the first day of friendship renewal, my TRUE LOVE gave to me:

Linda. This is my partner in Fashion Crime and the inspiration behind Fashion Fridays. We met several months ago for a cup of coffee and talked for hours and hours. During this talk I was so very sad to hear about the death of her father and the engagement of one of her daughters to the man of her dreams. It goes without saying why I was sad about the death of her sweet daddy whom I knew and loved dearly, but I was sad, too, that happy times had happened to her children. Children that I had watched grow up, get “sea-damaged” at the beach, one march around their yard waving an American flag bigger than me because he wanted to be president someday, and the girls with curls! Oh, how we loved shopping and dressing our girls!  And now one of those girls was engaged to be married and I new nothing of this young man or how they fell in love. That made me sad. The daughter I remember deserved nothing but the best and from what I hear of this lucky dude, she got it. Now one year later, I am blessed with the news that she is expecting. I will get to be a part of this very, very, happy addition to their family. I am going to LOVE watching my dear friend be a grandmother. She was an absolutely perfect mother, in my opinion, and I can only imagine how much love she has stored up to lavish on this grand addition.

Linda is the friend who ALWAYS makes me laugh and I am looking so forward to the stories of labor, delivery, first night home with the baby, you name it and there WILL be a funny side to it. I know you have a friend like her, too. Her southern drawl, southern charm and knack for telling great stories, makes me look forward to every minute I can spend with her. And… she always makes me feel special. In addition to the gift of telling stories, she has the gift of making her friends feel her love. Regardless of how insecure I might be feeling about any certain topic, she has the ability to show me why that insecurity is just a lie that I have believed without looking deep enough. Needless to say, I love her dearly.

My friend, Linda.
My friend, Linda with her daughters.

I moved and we lost touch for several years. That will NEVER happen again.

On the second day of friendship renewal, my TRUE LOVE gave to me:

Bonnie. Now Bonnie and I go back even further.  All the way to kindergarten.  She lived two doors down from me and we were truly inseparable from the age of five until high school. I became a high-stepper and she a cheerleader and the horizon of our friendships was broadened. She became close to the cheerleaders and football team and I was close to the whole band. She traveled on one bus to football games and I on another. We both have the HAPPIEST memories of Friday nights on the football field.

Bonnie was dearly loved by my whole family. My daddy gave her the endearing nickname of “Barnhead,” which we still don’t really understand, while my mom and sisters called her Bon-Bon (which I might add is what her precious grandson calls her now). Although, our positions on the field may have been apart, we still spent most Saturdays together and even double-dated with our future husbands. Our husbands were best friends in high school, too, only across town in a different high school. Bonnie and her future husband met at a basketball game and the rest is…as they say. She was always welcome in our home, never knocked, had free access to snacks, clothing and a pillow beside me for any nights we could make a sleepover work. To say she was a part of our family is an understatement. She is the third sister. Do you have a childhood friend like this?

We had the extreme pleasure of meeting for breakfast one morning during Christmas. It was lunch time when we parted. When I left her, in true Bonnie-fashion, she told me she’d be needing my pillow again for a few nights this spring. It will be a pleasure to be entertained by her again for a couple of nights on the coast. Miles have separated us in the past, but with children grown and adapted, they need not separate us anymore.

Bonnie and me.
Bonnie and me.

On the third day of friendship renewal, my TRUE LOVE gave to me:

Denise. Denise and I met over 21 years ago in a Sunday School class. I did not like her at first. (She knows this.) But then, God in His infinite wisdom, used a tragedy to bring us together. Her beloved mother passed away. I could see her grief and only imagine what it must be like to lose your mother when your children are just babies. In obedience to HIM, I rang her doorbell with the book, “When God Doesn’t Make Sense” by James Dobson and we were the best of friends by the time I left that day and remained so for well over a decade.

We had so many traditions together that when we drifted apart, many of those traditions felt empty and without meaning for a long time. But you see, Denise is my friend that sharpens me and makes me stronger by speaking what is on her mind. I can say now, looking back on it, that the reason HE planned for that season was to make me a better friend, a deeper listener and to teach me about confidence. I’m sure you have a friend like this, too.

If you’ve read the book, “Seven Habits” by Stephen Covey, you are familiar with the habit, “Sharpen the Saw.” That is what Denise does for me. Through my blog and her incredible gift of hospitality, we were reunited on New Years Eve. It was like we had never drifted. Her hug when I walked in her front door was like going home again. Her tears and “I’ve missed you,” were so touching that I can’t imagine ever drifting again.

My friend, Denise and her hubby, Rick
My friend, Denise and her hubby, Rick

The friendships of women are gifts from the Father, however complicated, however distant and however faithful. They are meant to “sharpen the saw.” They make us better women, better mothers, better daughters, better wives. They make us better listeners and storytellers, better friends and give us confidence. We may not know until we’ve drifted apart what the reason for the season was, but if you are given the opportunity for a second season, may it be at Christmastime when you can accept your gift from THE Reason for the Season.