Love. The word sounds so warm, sweet and wonderful.

Yes, to be the recipient of love feels amazing.

But to be the giver of love…well that can be an entirely different story.

Giving love is oftentimes painful, but oh so rewarding. This giving kind of love is God’s kind of love.

It is opening one’s heart…exposed, risking rejection, but possibly discovering a warm acceptance and embrace.

It is saying, “I welcome you”…knowing that you may not come, but if you do there is a beautiful fellowship to be had.

It is saying, “I love you”…knowing that you may not respond in kind, but if you do there is joy.

It is saying, “I forgive you”…knowing that you may not open up, but if you do there is the balm of restoration.

This kind of love can be painful or can be most rewarding. This kind of love is shown by self-sacrifice, and is caring for others more than caring for yourself.

This kind of love is won in the battle of dying to self…and living to follow and honor God.

Love is the ultimate way to live…and we know deep in our hearts, that love is the only true lasting thing worth pursuing in life.

God showed us this kind of love. We are the blessed recipients of it.

So we can choose…to follow God’s example and love…even when it hurts, or to stay safely at arm’s length from others.

The earthly rewards of love are great, but the eternal rewards so much greater.

Galatians 2:20 

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Luke 9:23 

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

1 Corinthians 13 

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Date Night

Movie theater date night…nope.

Fine dining date night…nope.

Delevan National Wildlife Refuge date night…yep!

Tonight Johnny and I took off for an adventure. We went to observe thousands of birds take flight at sunset.

About 15 minutes from our home there is this amazing refuge for birds! We have gone once before in more of an “off” season. But, last night a friend informed me that at sunset a massive amount of birds fly off to the nearby rice fields to feed each night.

And, since Johnny and I have one coveted day off together each week, and today happened to be that, we decided that this was the perfect time to go visit the birds. So armed with my camera, tripod and a variety of lenses we ventured out about an hour before sunset.

The refuge takes about 45 minutes to drive through, and we wanted to be there in plenty of time to find the best location for sunset photos. Sounds kind of romantic right? Well, the hazy cloud filled sky caused me some creative challenge, but even still, I think that I was able to get some pretty shots. Johnny took a video on his phone, and the sound of all the birds taking flight was nothing short of amazing!

Oh, about that movie and fine dining…our sweet home provided both!

What a lovely date night.


Party in the Park

So whoever said that moving to the country would be “quiet” was…well, wrong. At least when it comes to Johnny’s and my experience! I suppose “quiet” may have different meanings to different people. But to us, quiet means slow-paced and relaxed. The thing is, we moved just far enough away to be in a rural setting but still close enough to family and friends to be able to stay connected. This is what creates that lack of slow-pace quiet that I am talking about! We love our little town, but we love our family more. So…this means that we are always driving back to the bigger town to be with them.

But not on this particular day! This day was different. They met us part way and we partied in the park!!! This week was Lindsay’s birthday. We choose the Sunday afternoon before her birthday to celebrate because it was the day that we all had off work together at the same time! We met up at a wonderful park where…

We lay in the sun.

We had a take-out lunch and a playful dessert.

We made kites out of her birthday balloon.

We gave gifts.

We spoke blessings over Lindsay.

We relaxed.

We enjoyed the babies playing…and the guys playing their share as well!

We talked.

We loved!

It felt like the most decadent gift that I had been given in a long while. My spirit was rejuvenated. That drive became a “Sunday afternoon drive”.

Birthdays are always heartwarming, special and fun to celebrate. But, seeing my daughter and husband raising their beautiful children made my heart even fuller. They are doing such a stellar job trying to figure out their lives. (Proud mama here!)

And they are going to make me a Lolli a third time! So that means one more birthday to celebrate!

Oh JOY!!!