These thoughts were inspired from the afternoon main session by Jill Savage. I have looked to her for "advice" from her books, blog, and Hearts at Home for many years and to see her on stage REALLY helped to cement her words deep within. She truly is a woman of God and you can't listen to her transparency without seeing it radiate.
This year's theme for HAH was "Mom Revolution". If you look carefully at the word you can see that the 2nd through 5th letters reverse to spell love! How awesome is that!
How many of us REALLY need a LOVE revolution? Revolutionize means to change and reform. I will be willingly to stand up and say that MANY times I am need of that reform in my own heart. Gosh, some days I should just hide under the covers and not come out because I'm not feeling very loving towards anyone, including God or myself.
The first really strong point that she made is that motherhood IS a valid profession. I know that, I believe that, I've read that many times, I've heard that countless times.....but my heart was TRULY ready to accept that FOR myself. It is a REAL job! Knowing that DEEP down sure changes perspective and brings about a more intentional approach. I have believed that God placed me in my role for a purpose for MANY years, but it is easy to lose track of that. When people tell you that you are wasting your potential, your education, that you need to put your kids in "real" school, that you are not doing anything "real" for God and that it's selfish to waste it in your own home, etc... it becomes a bit harder to believe. It's easy to get lost in what we in our house call "wet blankets". Thankfully God sends just the right messenger at just the right time to remove those wet blankets and relight the fire that warms you from head to toe and lights every place in between!
Something she also drove home was that MY value is in Christ. It isn't found in how successful of a job I have (or don't have), my children's good behaviour (and it isn't lost in their BAD behaviour), isn't defined by the number on the scale (in the losses or the gains). ALL of those things fluctuate or change. The only thing that is TRULY constant is Christ. He NEVER changes and my TRUE value comes from being His daughter.
Though those things were important for me to remember and will really help renew my spirit, it was her message about love that is the most life changing. I needed to hear her words to encourage me through the hard day (weeks, months, etc...), but they didn't challenge me to CHANGE. Kevin and I talk about how important it is for us to be encouraged, but it's equally as important for us to have our toes stepped on and for someone to challenge us to be more Christ-like. Jill did just that. She warmed my heart and then she stepped ALL OVER my toes!
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 tells us to "Be on guard. Stand firm in faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love." (This is from the NLT version. You can see a parallel version of NUMEROUS versions by using http://www.biblos.com/ thanks goes to Wendy Pope for teaching me how to REALLY study God's word and I CAN NOT wait to put it into action more and more!) I've heard that verse many times and have quoted it countless times. However, when Jill read it from The Message and then spoke about it, my eyes were open in a new way.
"Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you've got, be resolute and LOVE WITHOUT STOPPING."
When I first looked at those words on the screen, I immediately had one of those God given aha-moments (you know those goosebump Holy Spirit ones!). I needed that touch of "hold tight to your convictions, give it all you've got". He got right down deep and gave me the encouragement to stay on the path we are on even though it feels like we are swimming upstream many days.
However, it was those NEXT words that started the toe stepping on. "Love without stopping". I truly love my children and my husband. There is zero doubt about that. I don't withhold my love from them when they fail. I don't love them any less when they mess up and I don't love them any more when they do something great. I don't love myself less when I mess up and I don't love myself more when I do something right. Oh wait......if I'm going to be transparent and honest...maybe I should back up. Maybe I should admit that I may LOVE them (or myself) unconditionally but do I ALWAYS ACT like it? Ummm perhaps, I don't like the answer that I would have to give. Wow---that is some serious toe stepping on right there.
Do I act with love when the kids are bickering, when they've messed up something that I JUST picked up for the 5th time in the last hour, when they've made me late getting out the door because they couldn't find THAT item, when they've struggled with something that I think should be easy, etc... that list could go on indefinitely!
Do I act with love when my husband forgets to do something I've asked him to do MANY times, when he makes the mistake of saying "what did you do all day?", when he doesn't treat me as romantically or tenderly as I need, when he doesn't appreciate something I've done, etc.... that list could ALSO go on indefinitely.
Love without stopping. Love isn't stop and go. Do we really only love when life is going easy or when things are going our way? It doesn't depend on whether you are making me happy and meeting my needs. Isn't that what is wrong with so many failed marriages? Isn't that why we think we are no longer in love with someone? If they aren't meeting OUR needs than we think love has flown out the window. Going a step deeper, do I only love God when I think He is meeting MY needs and answering MY prayers the way I want them to be answered? That's some pretty deep stuff right there.
Love IS a CHOICE. Love isn't a feeling. Love is a DECISION. It just doesn't happen.
Love is a VERB. It is an action. Mature love knows that love takes work and action. Immature love is a noun. Mature love is about US. Immature love is about ME. Love as a noun demands, serves US, and thinks that it has to always be warm & fuzzy. Love as a verb knows that feelings ebb & flow, understand differences, and serves others.
Love is TRANSFORMING. Sometimes love IS tough love and has to be grace-filled.
Love is COUNTER-INTUITIVE. Admit it. We sometimes don't FEEL like loving. Sometimes it IS hard. However, REAL love is pushing through those feelings and behaving with the right actions. Kevin and I have used the phrase for many years and as the years have gone by with their ups, downs, and obstacles it has meant more and more. "I may not LIKE you right now, but I LOVE you." How very true is that!
Love is UNCONDITIONAL. It may mean we have to say (to our child, to our spouse, to a friend, or even to ourselves)..."I love you enough to tell you the truth, but I won't withhold my love from you." Loving like God loves is unconditional.
Isn't that a powerful way to look at mature love? I loved it! Love to me is also being the first to say I'm sorry and meaning it. Jill talked about revolutionizing our relationships one choice at a time. Sometimes the greatest growth comes in the wrong choices we make. In those moments we have to stop and say, "I'm sorry" or "Forgive me". Victory comes in those moments. Own your mistakes, seek forgiveness, and move forward.
Something very important to note (and it was mentioned many times in many different ways, but the premise was the same). You can't give what you don't have. You can't teach what you don't know. You can't impart what you don't possess. YOU CAN'T TRULY LOVE if you don't first accept God's love. God is dumping it on us, we just have to accept it and soak it in.
A couple of last points that she made that "stuck" in my head.
Mothering is more about US growing up, not just our kids!
Marriage FIRST, children SECOND.
More HIS way, less MY way.
Jesus is the potter, I am the clay. Am I dried up playdough or am I a fresh can that is moldable? (Sounds like a blog post waiting to happen!)
Why do the choices I make today matter? Because they affect generations to come. Even if you didn't have an ideal situation growing up, CHANGE it NOW. We deliver a message to a time that we don't see, one child at a time.
Though this post is longer than I expected (imagine that....that tends to happen REALLY often with me!!!), I have one last thought. It's the wish I have for my home and the wish I have for every aspect of my life. Once again, reading the verse from The Message really lit a fire in me. 1 John 4:17-18 NLT (And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels fear.) The Message words it just slightly different.....
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, LOVE HAS THE RUN OF THE HOUSE.....
Lord, may LOVE have the RUN of this house every moment of every day and let it begin with me. Can't you just picture it? Oh, I can and I LOVE what I see.