Tag Archives: Love


Love the giver more than the gift. ~Brigham Young

During Christmas one year the adults sat in a circle opening family gifts. As I flipped the lid off of a box, I started to cry. Inside was an oddly shaped piece of wood.

“What is it?” my brother-in-law asked, looking around the room for an explanation.

Tears streamed down my face as I crossed the room to kiss my father-in-law. “It’s the ears to the donkey Pap made for me years ago. The original ears broke last summer.”

My husband’s parents had been down to visit and noticed the broken wooden planter on our porch. My father-in-law remembered when he got back home and made the ears to set atop the old donkey. I was touched.

Gifts are not my ‘love language.’ I enjoy a nice gift, but a gift that takes time and effort, that gift I will cherish.

Philip entered a foreign land to tell people about a gift that was given to each of them. All they had to do was accept it.

But Simon wanted to purchase the gift. He wanted to have control of the gift: pick it out, wrap it the way he liked, and give it to whom he chose.

Philip refused to give the gift to Simon because of his ulterior motives.

The gift Philip and God offered was the gift of the Holy Spirit. But don’t we sometimes act like Simon with our gifts as well?

We want to be able to understand scripture so we can crack someone over the skull with it. Or we want to pray like the apostles so we can have whatever we ask for- health, wealth, and fame. Maybe we want the gift of patience so we can avoid confronting people, or the gift of spiritual sight so we don’t need faith, or the gift of joy so we don’t have to deal with that grumpy neighbor.

The best gift-givers know what a person needs and in the end what he will desire. Like a cut-out of donkey ears that brought me to tears, so just the right gift can move you toward true gratitude and appreciation of not just the gift, but also the Giver.

What gift do you need to kiss the Father for today?

“You give your mouth free rein for evil,
    and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your brother;
    you slander your own mother’s son.
These things you have done, and I have been silent;
    you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.

“Mark this, then, you who forget God,
    lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
    to one who orders his way rightly
    I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm 50:19-23 ESV

Love Eternal

A pen never knows what it will write, a brush never knows what it will paint and a chisel never knows what it will sculpt. When God takes someone into his hands in order to accomplish a new work in his Church, the person doesn’t know what she will do. I think this might be my case: I’m only the tool. ~Chiara Lubich

A year ago I began working with a company in Beijing. I love the job, but it means my work schedule is a bit earlier than most Americans. Because of that, I haven’t seen the news in a year.

I now subscribe to a news source that provides a quick read of what’s going on in the world. I can usually get through it in ten minutes or so and have a basic idea of what is happening here and abroad.

Sometimes I regret that.

A few days ago I read through the headlines and fell to my knees in prayer. Poland was having a Supremacy March. An earthquake in Iran and Iraq killed hundreds of people just as winter is beginning. Thousands have been killed in the Philippines drug trade. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Yemen are starving people and threatening war. Women are coming forward in unprecedented numbers to expose sexual harassment and exploitation.

The world is a tragic, sinful place.

In the early 1940’s a young Italian woman also fell to her knees. Chiara Lubich wondered what it would be like if everyone showed love. In a world where bombs fell because of hatred and greed, Chiara wanted love and peace to fall instead. Her desire turned into a movement- Focolare -that is practiced in 182 countries today.

What do they do?

Show love 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Love neighbors, enemies, strangers, and brothers.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Chiara will be remembered for the love she showed and the movement she created.

God doesn’t ask us to start a movement that circles the world. He asks us to love, right where we are.

My grandmother will be remembered for years because she sent food to a family who had less than her own. My grandfather is remembered for saying hello to everyone he met on the street. My friend, Larry, will be remembered for extending a hand of friendship to criminals and druggies. I have friends that I will always remember for asking about my children, for helping me with needs, for listening, for praying, for being inside my life instead of on the edges.

You don’t have to stop a war. You don’t have to rescue disaster victims. You don’t even have to start a movement.

You do have to love the least of these. (Mt. 25:40)

What have you done today to love?

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:30-32 NIV

The Dreaded Mother-in-Law

flower-1163652__180My mother-in-law fell down a wishing well. I was amazed; I never knew they worked. ~Les Dawson

I have two sons. I love them enough to take a bullet for them. I would give them my kidneys, my bone marrow, and my liver. They wouldn’t want my eyes.

Some day I know I will have to give them over to those girls I have been praying for all of these years. In some ways, I want to say, “They’re all yours, girls! Good luck!” and other times I imagine yanking their pretty little ponytails and yelling, “Get lost! These are MY boys!”

The love of a mother for her son is special and strong. So when I tell you how much I love my mother-in-law, you have to first understand that I took away her firstborn son. I think she would have given even her eyes for her boys.

But she has never chosen her son over me. She has never tried to drive a wedge between us so that she could have her way. And she has never, in any form or fashion, been ugly to me.

I love having her come to visit. Not only does she do my ironing, help with the yard work, and take the kids shopping, she takes time to talk to me. She wants to know how I am, with all sincerity and love.

My mother-in-law and I talk on the phone and text several times a week. When she wants to tell someone how her mother is doing, she calls me. When I want to tell someone about my bellydance lesson, I call her. When she sees a movie that she thinks I would like, she calls. When my pile of laundry reaches Mt. Everest proportions, I ring her up.

Because her husband and her sons are so much alike, she gives me advice. It only makes sense; I mean, she’s been dealing with it twice as long as I have. (I’ll never tell you, Matt and Larry!)

She encourages my writing, and she is my biggest PR agent. No one has sold more copies of my book than she.

My mother-in-law has become one of my best friends. I know this will get some West Virginia comments, but I have to say, she isn’t just my husband’s mom, she’s my mom, too.

I love you, Connie. You’ve been the perfect example of a mother-in-law. I hope to be as good as you are some day.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:28-30 NIV

Love the Unknown

wedding-443600__180Love does not need a reason to love,
Else it would not be love.
My love, I have no reason I love you,
I just do.  ~Unknown

Is it possible to love someone you have never met? You can display human compassion, empathy, concern, but love?

Our family adopted a little girl through World Vision several years ago. We send her pictures, presents, and letters, and we pray for her. She responds with letters of her own. We encourage her to keep up with her school studies. We ask about her family members and her aunt has been instrumental in helping her return letters. We celebrate her birthday and spend as much money on her at Christmas as we do our sons. As much as possible we have tried to love her.

Though it is doubtful, some day we may actually get to meet our daughter. If that ever happens, then we will be able to put all we have learned into a package that we can hug and kiss: our daughter.

However, we have two other daughters that we haven’t met yet, and we definitely intend to meet them. Since the conception of our first son I have prayed for his wife. Our second son kept himself secret so that I couldn’t pray for a wife until he was born, but ever since I have prayed for her as well.

These young women, whom I have yet to meet (or at least know that I have met), are very precious to me. I pray for them and their families often. I ask God’s guidance in their lives, for their safety, their experiences, for everything that will make them the perfect wife and daughter-in-law.

So do I love them? All I can say is that God loved me before I ever knew him. Daughters-in-law, yes, I love you.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:10-12 NIV

An Anonymous Love Letter

sailing-ship-659758__180I once loved a sailor
once, a sailor loved me
but he was not a sailor
who sailed on the wide blue sea
he sailed in an airship
sailed like a bird on the wing
and every evening at midnight
he would come to my window and sing… George Evans and Honeyboy Shields

Satan’s demons slithered low on the cabin floor. A nightly battle raged. “Jesus lives here. Get out!” the First Mate commanded, holding the baby close.

Marked by God. Birthed as a blessing. The child had been noticed by the Rebellion. All hands were on deck, but a mightier Admiral steered the ship.

Time passed and the babe grew in stature and wisdom. “Why don’t we pray for Satan to change his ways?” Goodness asked. And so the prayers began.

But Satan fought the good intentions. He wanted his way and his alone. Though Goodness attempted a counter-attack, the demon mariners fought back. Satan’s battleship maneuvered around the obstacle to return another day.

The child grew into a man. Goodness reigned victorious in the grand battles, but smaller vessels attacked from behind. Cannons and gun fire exploded, creating cracks in the ship’s armor. Water seeped into the hull, but the Royal Navy pumped relentlessly.

The battles were tiring. Sometimes Goodness fell back, thwarted, but he never surrendered. This God-anointed seafarer would never stop, never give up in defeat.

And all of the officers of the Royal Navy saluted.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32


sonIf you would have your son to walk honourably through the world, you must not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them – not insist upon leading him by the hand, but let him learn to go alone. Anne Bronte

My baby leaves home this year for college. Although I will miss him, I’m not sad for him to leave. It is right, he is ready, and the world needs him.

Amos is what people call an old soul. He likes NPR, talking politics, visiting antique shops, and sitting on the porch talking. He believes in good manners, listening to others, and giving your seat to your elders. He is respectful and responsible. And he is only 17.

Amos plans to study Soil Science in college. He is thinking of joining the Peace Corps afterward and perhaps working for an NGO for a few years before settling down in the States.

Amos was born with a compassionate heart. He takes time to listen to people. He talks to everyone; he has never met a stranger. He writes thank you notes with sincerity, calls me to tell me good news, and texts his grandmothers.

When Amos was little, maybe 6 or 7 years old, he wanted to buy a ribbon at one of the book stores. He chose a red ribbon, second place. I said, “Amos you can buy a blue ribbon. Why not get first place?”

“No. Someone else might want first place. It’s ok to get second.”

Wow. If that isn’t what Christ spent his life teaching us, I don’t know what is.

I love you, Amos. Not only are you a great son, but you are a wonderful brother in Christ.

Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing. Philippians 2:3-4 TLB


jokeMy other brother-in-law died. He was a karate expert, then joined the army. The first time he saluted, he killed himself. Henny Youngman

Some people disdain adoption because you never know what you will get. The birth parents may have mental health issues in the family, maybe addictions are prevalent, perhaps the child has disabilities that won’t show up until later.

These naysayers don’t appreciate the ridiculous premise behind their statements. You cannot guarantee the perfection of a child you bear biologically any more than you can the child you adopt. Having children is a game of roulette.

So is the game of choosing your in-laws.

When I married Matt I chose him as much as I chose his parents. I knew that if he had been raised in a family that loved and respected the Lord and each other, then he would make a healthy husband. I didn’t know, however, that I better check out his brother as well.

For a while I wasn’t sure what I got myself into. Mark is a bit . . . different. He can spout off long monologues and dialogues from movies and shows, in all of the voices and accents. He enjoys practical jokes and puns. He wears shorts in all types of weather and to all kind of events. He plays board games, video games, and ball games. And all of these he does barefoot.

Mark gives one the impression that he is all about fun and nonsense, but over the years I have learned he is a sensitive, compassionate man. He loves his children immensely, coaching their games, attending their practices and recitals, and taking them on dates. He is committed to his wife and her family as much as he is to his own. And he loves the Lord.

He serves children and young adults at work, he teaches Bible classes at church, and he hosts studies at home. He knows all of the neighborhood kids and makes himself a part of their lives. He makes business decisions based on God’s Word. And he prays.

I know he prays because I have heard his son pray. Prayer is where the rubber meets the road. You learn to pray by praying, by hearing prayer, and by being prayed over.

So although I may not have checked out my brother-in-law before I took him as such, it was a gamble that I won. And good thing too. Genetics and personality don’t just run from father to son – sometimes an uncle gets thrown into the mix. My sons often act just like him.

I love you, Mark.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20 ESV


auntsAn aunt is someone special to remember with warmth, think of with pride, and cherish with love.  Unknown

On Friday I received a proof copy of the cover for my newest book, The Potter of Paradox. I am excited about the book, not only because it is my first large-scale attempt at fiction, but also because the story has a lot to say about our calling in life and how we go about answering that call.

The story also has a lot of my own story in it. Yes, about calling, but also about my family. There are little pieces of my family sprinkled throughout the story.

My mother has three sisters; my father eight, plus four brothers who married some exceptional women as well. My aunts have been an important part of my life since the day I was born. They have taught me how to cook, how to raise children, and even how to sing. They have taught me how to be a good daughter and a child of the King.

There are two aunts in the book who help guide their nephew, Jack, as well. They encourage him to choose what he loves, pottery, over what seems to be the logical, practical choice: business. They point out which girl would be helpful in that pursuit. They remind Jack that family relationships are of high importance, and they are instrumental in bringing him back together with his father.

Now those aren’t exactly what my aunts have done for me, but they have been my guides, my cheering section, and my menders. They have reminded me of what and who is important, and they have done it with patience and humor.

So to all of my aunts: If you think you are in the book, you are. Thanks for all you have given me over the years. I love you.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

Papaws and Paps

grandfatherOn occasion, I like to reread my grandfather’s letters. While leafing through them, I’m saddened by what is being lost in modern communication. Soul-baring sentimentality isn’t typically poured into text messages, tweets and emails. All too often, personal connections are brushed aside for the sake of convenience in a fast-paced world. Kristina McMorris

Papaw Fitzwater always wore gray work clothes with a pocket protector in his shirt front. Papaw Sharp wore overalls and a flannel shirt, sometimes a white thermal shirt. They were practical men, worked hard and expected the same from everyone else. They were tall, thin, smiling men.

Papaw Fitzwater will forever be sitting in the passenger seat of a Buick while I drive. “Don’t ever sneeze while you are driving,” he warned. “You can’t sneeze with your eyes open.” When we got back home, he told my parents what an excellent driver I was. I was sixteen.

Papaw Sharp most often walks across the road from our house to his with his hands clasped behind his back, eyes cast down watching the rocky lane. I can still see him other ways, tilling and hoeing the garden, slobbering kisses all over Grandma and asking how his bride is doing today, even driving me home from school when I was sick.

But the way I see him most is that walk. The one that follows me through time. My father, his brothers, even I walk that way across the hill, down a trail. Thinking, contemplating, resting while we walk.

Grandfathers seem so distant compared to grandmothers that they often get the short end of the stick. But there are times when grandfathers have made me take notice of the soft hearts inside the hard men.

Like the time Matt’s grandfather told me the story of his nickname “Abe”. I thought he was joking that it came about because of his large nose. When I laughed, I saw all the pain of his youth mirrored in his eyes. Or the time I made light of Matt in front of his other grandfather. I don’t remember what I said, but I remember the fierce devotion that burned me with its flame.

Papaw Sharp gave me two books the year before he died. One was a cook book the other a canning book. “I got these for you. I thought they might be helpful.” That’s the grandfather mantra: Look out for the grandkids. Protect them, prepare them, and provide for them.

They did it perfectly. I love my Papaws and Paps.

 “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.

Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” Genesis 48:9 NIV

Best Friends

friendship-1057660__180“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that gives value to survival.” C.S. Lewis

My first best friend was Lisa. I was new in school and she talked to me. We sat at the same table, she asked my name, and that was all it took. We were inseparable for years. She was the first friend I ever called on the phone. I can still tell you her family’s phone number. Her house was my first sleepover.

Next came Michelle. We were in youth group together at church, meaning she and I were the same age and sat together. We learned how to be teenagers together, and how to get lost and then found again. When I was first driving she and I planned to go to a store in another town. That required highway driving. I got lost. For those who know the area: I drove from Grafton to Bridgeport to Morgantown back to Grafton. I couldn’t find the Fairmont exit for Gabe’s! Michelle was my Matron of Honor.

Erica was the following best friend. We were in college together studying to be elementary teachers. We were newlyweds, neighbors, and went to the same church. We made school crafts together, and dreamed about being teachers.

Erica was followed by Gayle and Denise. Again we had similar life experiences. This time POOR married graduate students. We went for cheap pizza at Crystal’s (99 cents with coupon), cheap burritos (49 cents on Wednesdays), and cheap movies (99 cents and free popcorn, but the popcorn was sooo salty you had to buy a not-so-cheap drink. Tricky, tricky.).

Andrea was next. This time we added new mother to the list of commonalities. We walked the babies together while our husbands were studying or at work. We shared hopes and dreams on those walks, as well as frustrations and fears. When we moved again, we still visited and always it was just like we had never left.

In fact, that is what makes these women stand out as my best friends. No matter how long we are apart, when we see each other again, it is like no time has passed. That must be the definition of a best friend. I love you, Ladies!

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10 NIV