Love Languages

My sister and I have several things in common. We are in helping professions, we consider chocolate a gift from God, and we adore her kids. Oh, and we both think we have an awesome sister. We are also uniquely different. I like to stay up late; she doesn’t. She always did her homework first thing; I did mine last. I enjoy the great outdoors; she prefers a world free of bugs and insects.

Another way we are different is expressions of love. I love fresh flowers and a beautiful bouquet brightens my week. My sister could care less for flowers that will be dead in four days. So, when I want to honor her by showing up with a gift in her first-grade classroom, the only bouquet I have is one made of Diet Dr. Pepper, chocolate and new school supplies.
Part of really loving someone is knowing what pleases them. It requires paying attention to the little things that communicate love and respect in big ways.

The same applies for honoring God. Sometimes we are tempted to believe that God wants some grand display or gesture. But, that is not what God requires of us. Our Creator wants us to live lives full of love – love for God and love for each other, and often this love is best expressed in ordinary, small ways each day. Empty words and mindless rituals to God are like bouquets of flowers for my sister. They don’t say, “I know you and I love you.”

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  Micah 6:8

*This was my devotion from our church’s daily devotions which are produced and distributed daily via email throughout the year. You can sign up to receive those devotions written by various church members here.

Checking Off the Right Stuff

Hi. My name is Melissa and I’m a list person. (Hello, Melissa.)

I love lists. I believe in lists. If I do something and it wasn’t on my list, I write it on my list so I can have the satisfaction of marking it off my list. When I complete a task, a simple check mark fails to capture the profound awesomeness of my productivity and efficiency. I eradicate it from existence with the repetitive stroke of my pen or, even better, a single stroke of an extra wide sharpie that has the final word even as it vanquishes all others. I hear cheers from imaginary friends as I stand under a glittery rain shower of confetti. Ate breakfast? Done. Brushed my teeth? Completed. Closed my garage? It. Is. Finished, y’all.

Success looks a lot like productivity to me. If I don’t look closely, I get duped into thinking I matter because of what I do, that I am worthy because of what I accomplish. I imagine success comes in disguise to you, too, sometimes, and, like a skilled knock-off designer, it can be difficult to tell the difference. Not until you wear it a few times and it begins to unravel do you realize you bought the cheaper imitation instead of the real deal.

Success is not found in what we do but rather in trusting Whose we are and what has been done for us. This is the real deal.

I still enjoy lists. But maybe I should start each day with these instead: Beloved by God? Check. Saved by grace? Done. Free from shame? It. Is. Finished, y’all.

Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” Romans 10:9-10, The Message

*This was my devotion from our church’s daily devotions which are produced and distributed daily via email throughout the year. You can sign up to receive those devotions written by various church members here.

Basketball and God

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My 5th grade nephew doing his thing last season.

I doubt many folks think of God when they think of basketball. I’m sure a multitude of prayers

have been lifted up from courts and stands across the nation with the desperate hope of a buzzer-beating shot. But on the daily, not so much.

I certainly didn’t relate the two until a couple of months ago. I was in the middle of a personal retreat, wrestling with my soul-crushing inability to allow God’s love to define my worth rather than work and ministry. It was an agonizing couple of days struggling to traverse the deep canyon from head knowledge to heart knowledge. My head knows God’s unconditional love constitutes my worth. My heart, however, tends to think God is far too nice to hurt my feelings by telling me how much I’ve disappointed him. Maybe God doesn’t even realize he is disappointed. Maybe he isn’t being honest with himself. But I know. Which makes me feel worse so I work even harder to be worthy of His love and not let Him down. Pity party for one, please.

It was in the middle of this wrestling (excuse the mixed metaphors) when I thought about basketball.

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