With All of Your Heart

(excerpt from Love is Not an Emotion)

Most likely you’ve heard of The Ten Commandments. While they are God-given, commandments to follow, Jesus brought something new. In Mark 12, a scribe asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.[1]

I have asked myself, What does it mean—all of your heart?

In the physical arena, when you love someone or give them your heart, you want to spend time with them. If you’re married, think about when you met your wife or husband. I met Blaine on my fifteenth birthday. As we began to establish a friendship, we spent countless hours talking on the telephone late at night. My Mom asked what we talked about, and I told her “nothing.” We just wanted to be connected. get away

There was an anticipation and expectation before our dates. We could hardly wait to get together. As we dated, I enjoyed getting ready to see him, fixing my hair, picking out clothes I thought he’d like and anticipated his arrival.

Our relationship with God can often be similar to that. He waits for us. He is excited to see us when we come into His presence— where we are always welcome. He loves us more than we can ever imagine.

Physically, the human heart is the most vital of all organs. It is the life source that brings the life-sustaining blood by way of the heart to all the areas of the body. The heart is regarded as the seat of physical life. Often we use the word heart to describe the soul, or the mind, as the fountain and seat of thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, and endeavors, the life source of our inner being or spirit.

This call to love Him with all of your heart demonstrates God’s desire to become connected to us. His life becomes our life. Everything we are spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially and socially should fit into the heartbeat of the Father. Heart to heart means connecting to God on such a level that your own heart beats in rhythm with Him, and your lifestyle reflects such a heart.

You can read Love is Not an Emotion – available in paperback and on Kindle.

[1] Mark 12:29-30 NKJV

Thank You for the Journey Together

I had the honor and privilege of becoming a Grief Recovery Specialist. It has given me the specific things I needed to navigate the pain and loss in my own life and the  tools to assist others that the Lord brings across my path. I am so thankful to those who have opened their hearts and lives to me and given me such a wonderful opportunity of friendship and hope.

Below is a letter expressing my heartfelt thanks to those who have invited me to be a part of their journey.

Dearest Friend,
You have experienced an insurmountable amount of loss in your life—and yet, each day you find a way to rise above it and even encourage others.

I am so very proud of you.

  • You are real with your emotions. You don’t hide them, but instead give voice to what you feel with those you trust. Thank you for trusting me.
  • You are unwilling to isolate and grief alone. Instead, you encourage others to join you in your grief—even when they can’t possibly understand. I am grateful to you for sharing broken heart with me.
  • Forgive me when I say something I shouldn’t.
  • Thank you for allowing me to sit with you in silence—a silence that is neither awkward nor uncomfortable. You let me be me; and I let you be you.
  • You inspire me as I watch you navigate these difficult journeys. I love you and want to walk with you the rest of the way.

They are blessed who grieve, for God will comfort them.
Matthew 5:4 NCV

Friendship is Good for Your Health

It may seem odd to you, but Krista McLennan found that cows have best friends and become stressed when they are separated . She made the discovery while working on her Ph.D., at Northampton University, measuring how cows respond when isolated, specifically looking at their heart rates and cortisol levels. She believes her findings could help improve milk yields. According to McLennan’s findings, the cows are social animals that need friendship to ease their stress and anxiety.

If cows need each other—what about you and me?

I find when I spend time with girlfriends, it reduces my stress level significantly. As I’ve opened my heart to girlfriends, I’ve noticed my heart rate slowing and concerns from the day that weighed heavily on me slowly subsiding from my mind—much like when the tide sneaks out into the ocean.friends talking rgbstock

2 Samuel says, Your friendship was a miracle-wonder, love far exceeding anything I’ve known—or ever hope to know (2 Samuel 1:26 MSG).

It does us good to open up to others on every level. When we laugh or cry and express ourselves to one another, we share a piece of ourselves. We also can’t help to take a little something from one another.

I have girlfriends who add to my physical strength just by spending time with them. Others stir my creativity and help me to think in new and different ways. When girlfriends get together to offer positive support, I leave the gathering relaxed and ready to press in again to face another challenge.

Take some time this week to share a cup of tea or coffee with a girlfriend and recharge.

Your Father Knows the Steps

(An excerpt from Love is Not an Emotion)

I carry vivid pictures in my mind as a four- or five-year-old looking down at my little white, frilly laced, sock-feet, as they move without effort from me. My tiny hands grasped tightly by my father’s rough and sturdy ones. My little feet rest securely atop my father’s heavy, leather work boots—each tiny foot planted on top of his.

An image like that from my childhood reminds me of God’s love. It is easy to go from that memory into my imagination—watching myself dance with my Heavenly Father. No matter what age I am, I see myself as that little girl moving with him.

Repeatedly throughout Scripture God shows His great, divine, everlasting kindness. Nehemiah 9:17 says:

And they refused to listen, And did not remember Thy wondrous deeds which Thou hadst performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But Thou art a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness, and Thou didst not forsake them.[1]

He knows the tune we dance to, and the steps necessary to gracefully complete every dance we will ever dance through the moments of our lives.

As a young adult, I thought my plan was better.

I believed a lie that still prevails today. If I gave in and did things God’s  way, I’d have to give up on my dreams. I’ve discovered over the years He put most of those dreams in my heart. And he knows the way to get there far better and easier than I do.

Now, I want every movement to be within His rhythm—His plan. I have learned I can flow through life’s dance floor, never missing a beat as long as I keep my feet planted firmly on His. From experience, I know when I let go of His hands, step off and venture out on my own, things become shaky. I suddenly become aware of the obstacles I hadn’t had to navigate while in step with him.

Once I realizing my mistake, I search and find Him. I don’t have to look far because He calls my name . . . and once again I’m secure, moving in step with Him.

Your Heavenly Father knows the steps required to gracefully complete every dance you will ever dance.

[1] NASB

Your Soul is Where Your Spirit Breathes

(excerpt from Love is Not an Emotion)

When paramedics arrive on the scene, aside from checking for a pulse, they look to see if the injured person is breathing—a sign of life. It could be said that our soul is where our spirit breathes.

Strong’s lexicon comments that the human soul “by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness.” The soul is regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life; and as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body).”[1] This is where our eternal spirit resides.

It is the place where our spirit man can touch the presence of God.

When we are in love physically, the presence of the person we love can be intoxicating. Have you ever experienced such an attraction that you feel your heart almost stops, or you discover you’re holding your breath— waiting for his or her next communication with you. What will he say? What does he think about this or that? That’s somewhat close to the deep, desire from your heart and soul to touch God, that Jesus is talking about.

So far we understand that we are to love God with all of our heart—or make Him the very heartbeat of our existence. On top of that we are to love Him with our soul—that is our mind, our will and our emotions.

The mind is a faculty of understanding, feeling, or way of thinking. God desires to be a part of our intellect. He wants us to love Him with our thoughts. He wants us to include Him in our intellectual studies. The Bible is key in that. When we read His Word we are in touch with Him.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.[2]

I think to love God with all our strength means to hold fast to Him without compromise. Our strength includes being closely joined to a person or a thing. This reminds me of the covenant exchanges I’ve read about in the Bible.

David is one my favorite people to read about in the Bible. I’ve learned so much through his life because I can apply so much of his life to my own. 1 Samuel 18:1 says The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. When people made a covenant to one another like David and Jonathan did, the two parties agreed to join themselves together until death. They joined their strengths to overcome all of life’s battles.

If you read the exchange between David and Jonathan, you’ll find they swore to give to the other all that they were. What once was David’s now belonged to Jonathan and likewise; what once belonged to Jonathan was now David’s possession.

God’s covenant with us goes much deeper. He exchanges all He is for the little that we are. He holds fast to us; while we hold fast to Him. We love God with all our strength knowing He will never fail us; therefore we should strive with all that we are not to fail Him.

linae coverYou can read Love is Not an Emotion – available in paperback and on Kindle.

[1] Thayer and Smith. “Greek Lexicon entry for Psuche”. “The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon” http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/kjv/psuche.html

[2] Hebrews 4:12 NKJV