Lost and Found

August 10th. August 10th was a bad day in 2012. Really bad day. It all started in May though.

Things were great until May. We belonged to a great church at that time. Sunday morning service was a modern production with rock music, theatre and a great message. This was the first time my husband or I felt comfortable inside church walls. Plus, this church was only 5 minutes from our house.

We were community theatre actors who loved drama more than God. God didn’t even factor into our daily lives. So when we got turned onto God, we became very active in that church. Our daughter loved going to church every Sunday. We were involved in the childrens’ program there: skits, music, improv and Sunday school lessons, even Jesus Bingo! We were also on the adult worship drama team. We served, volunteered, wrote, directed, played, performed, got really close to God and got our hands dirty. We loved it. Until we didn’t love it. I was on fire for God, but my husband stood near me with the firehose. Even though we were doing what we thought was right, we were so far from being right. What we didn’t know: my health was going to take center stage.

I thought that this was the church I would grow old in. God had different plans for us.

May 2012-I was sitting at the breakfast table, helping my daughter get ready for school. I was about to brush her hair when my brain just shut down. It was like being inside of an agitating washing machine; wobbling drone in my ear and I couldn’t speak. I could hear my daughter calling my name, but I couldn’t respond. She got very scared. Me too. After a few seconds, I could physically speak again, but I was in tears. What was that? Was that a stroke? A near heart attack? Oh God.

In late May, I started having breathing problems. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t get a deep breath. I thought I was developing asthma or something to do with my lungs. I couldn’t walk, exert myself, read from the Bible in small group without struggling to breathe. I certainly couldn’t perform on stage without being out of breath from very small movements. Even sitting and speaking loudly. I never once thought of going to the doctor. I managed my symptoms. I made a resolution to get into shape. Start walking. I thought I just needed to be more active.

June and July of 2012-We joined a gym. Started working out. Walking, biking, swimming. Every time I got in the pool, the pressure in my chest seemed worse, but I loved feeling nearly weightless. I was working out, but I wasn’t losing weight. I could just tell by the fit of my clothes. I didn’t really weigh myself. I had an idea of what I weighed, but didn’t really care. The last time I weighed, I was about 478 lbs. And that was a year before I had any problems.

August 2012-I was eating right. Or so I thought. I was eating low calorie foods, salad, lean meat and drinking plenty of water. August 9th, I had a very large intake of Gatorade after a very vigorous lap swim at the pool. And down I went. Crash.

August 10th-I was admitted to the ER with congestive heart failure at 513 lbs. Needless to say, everything changed. Low-sodium diet, exercise, 100 lb. weight loss. August 10th, 2012, was like walking out of a forest and finally looking back at the place where I was lost.

Guess what day my first meeting with someone about my weight loss surgery is…August 10th. 2016. 4 years to the day. I’m going to walk out of another forest. Life is so weird. And great.

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Birdhouse In Your Soul (Heart, Mind, Life)

Birdhouse In Your Soul is a song by They Might Be Giants. One of my husband’s favorite bands. We saw TMBG in St. Louis at a street concert just before Lilli was born in 2003. I was very pregnant and it was very hot, but it was a very cool experience. I stood until the very end on my swollen, achy ankles. We also saw the documentary, Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns), in Columbia, MO that summer. Just after Lilli was born, we played TMBG’s album, No!, for her almost every day. And when Lilli was older she saw TMBG at Jiggle Jam in KC twice. We like TMBG. 🙂

According to Wikipedia, the song “…tells the listener to make a birdhouse (being a safe place for something small and vulnerable) for the light it creates in their mind and soul.” A year ago, I wrote about my day and a little birdhouse building on Facebook. I wanted to share it here on my blog.


From June 25, 2015:

I went to the pool yesterday with my daughter. A gorgeous day for our non-heated pool (any day over 90°). It was wonderful and warm. I had so wanted a day at the pool to relax and think.

I plopped down in the water, investigating a forgotten toy. Lilli and I started throwing the little plastic fish back and forth. She squirted me with her new gun. And we just enjoyed each other. She’s my best female friend. I trust her. She’s funny. We can say anything.

According to the lyrics of Birdhouse, there’s a little blue canary that’s protected by the lighthouse. She’s my canary (she sings all the time) and I’m the light. I think. (Or I’m HER little feathered friend sometimes and she saves me.) Depends on the day. 🙂

As we were throwing the fish around, I saw a boy. All alone. I wanted to ask him if he wanted to play with us (be a good and vigilant neighbor and all), but he didn’t seem interested and he was older than Lil. But it made me think of her friend. So we called Friend to see if he wanted to enjoy our pool. A privilege we have relished. Inviting friends over for pool time. If you have nice things and don’t share them, what good is it?

So then, Friend came over, we had a snack and then back to the pool. We were putting our stuff down on two lounges and had strung out our possessions very sloppily in our eagerness to get back in the cool water.

In walks a woman with a horde of children, a stroller, arms full of stuff. Lilli and Friend were already in the pool and I was laying the last of our towels/bags/snacks down. I looked over at the only lounge left on our side. It was covered with some sort of spilled gummy snack which rendered the lounge useless. The snacky bits were beginning to melt in the sun.

She was headed for our side. These were the only lounges in the shade and she had a baby. She was about to set her stuff down on the undesirable place. I could tell she was hesitant and didn’t want to, but the alternative was to stand there with an armful of crap.

“Oh, wait! Here ya go. Let me move our stuff to just one, we’re in the pool, we don’t need it.” And I started moving our stuff to just one chair.

“Are you sure?” she said. “Thank you so much!”

I would have even given her both chairs (and the swimsuit off my back, ha!), but if you set your stuff on the ground around here, there will be ants carrying off your bag in about 30 minutes.

“No problem! We only need the one.” And off I went back to the pool.

She jumbled and juggled her kids/stuff around and got settled. I relaxed at the edge of the pool in a chair that sits in the water. Top half sun, bottom half refreshingly cool. I was enjoying myself watching Lil and Friend play-water guns and dangling over the edge of the pool. They flipped and rolled and splashed.

Before I knew it, the mom I had addressed earlier was moving around behind me. She seemed agitated, but I thought it was concern for her kids who seemed to be having trouble settling into a nice play routine. Then she sat down right beside me.

“I don’t know you, but I have to say something to an adult.”

I knew whatever was about to come out of her mouth was going to trouble me. But my brain went into soap-opera mode and couldn’t resist the tales of juicy gossip that were about to spill from her lips.

“What’s up?” I said without revealing my intense curiosity.

“These aren’t all my kids. I’m watching my nieces. My sister-in-law passed away last night from cancer and I’ve been alone all day with them.”

My heart dove to the bottom of the pool. Like that silly pucker-faced fish we were tossing around earlier.

“Oh no! I’m so sorry.”

And we talked for the rest of her time at the pool. She needed a friend to talk to and I was the only person there alone. I wouldn’t have been free had I not thought of Lilli’s friend. This woman needed me and I was available. I can’t tell you how thankful I was that God made me an instrument of his peace.

The convoluted process was not lost on me. I had to go to the pool, see the boy, think of Friend, invite Friend, wait for Friend out front, have a snack at just the right time, walk back to our lounge and be there just as Lady was arriving, sit in the water alone and wait. Just sit in the beautiful, cool, refreshing water and relax. Sun on my shoulders, at peace. And Lady goes to the church where we donate to the building fund. God is so amazing.

We may not always be the one to reach out, but as long as we are available, God can do the rest. Stay loose, take what comes and be open. Always have a smile. And God can use you. Even in the pool.


I didn’t know it at the time, but when Lady told me about her SIL dying of cancer? I had cancer inside my body. I had a large benign nodule on my thyroid that I was having out in just a few short weeks, but what I didn’t know…there were 3 small cancer nodules on the right lobe as well. Life is weird. complicated. surprising. lovely. I had my thyroid out and I’m cancer-free for now. So-

So. Be a lighthouse. Or be the bird looking for the light. You never have to fly alone.
Build a little birdhouse in your soul. Be a friend. Protect the small, vulnerable space inside of others and yourself by connecting the two and caring for both.

Ready!

I went to my weight loss surgery (WLS) seminar at The Bariatric Center of Kansas City on Monday. I was very excited to go and begin the long process of approval for WLS. 10 years ago, I visited the same WLS clinic. I was 460 lbs. and too fat for surgery. I needed to lose 55 lbs. before I could be considered for surgery because my BMI was dangerously high. Too high for safe surgery. I needed surgery, but if the surgery might kill me, then what have I gained? Aside from weight. Ha.

I can’t tell you how frustrated I was after I left the clinic 10 years ago on the day they told me that I needed to lose 55 lbs. to have WLS. What? I have to lose weight to lose weight? Huh? If I could lose 55 lbs. I wouldn’t need WLS. Am I right?? I gave up that day. I gave up on trying for approval from insurance companies, doctors and people in general. I got mad at others and myself. At myself, for letting my body get to 460 lbs. Mad at others for not giving me exactly what I wanted when I wanted it. Yeah. Because that always worked so well for me before. Ha.

But I’m so glad that I walked out of that clinic that day and didn’t go back. For 10 years. I had much to learn, many resolutions to make and a few puzzle pieces to find. I’m ready now. I wasn’t then. I am emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually ready for this change.

Over the last 10 years, I have learned so much. My health continued to deteriorate for the first 5 years after my initial WLS consult. My blood pressure was out of control. I was sick all the time. I hadn’t quit smoking yet. My joints started hurting all the time. And the vivacity that I summoned in my 20s to overcome the effects of obesity was dying. My sleep apnea got worse and I started packing on the pounds from a series of bad choices and unchangeable circumstances. And I fell into the inescapable well of morbid obesity. And what I didn’t know, my thyroid was starting to go bad. Real bad.

In August 2012, I entered Truman Medical Center-Hospital Hill (some of the finest treatment I’ve ever had, BTW) at 513 lbs. with congestive heart failure. I was devastated. But I quickly bounced back and fought hard to regain any bit of health. My condition stabilized, I went on a regimen of drugs and I lost 60 lbs. It came off fast because I was taking generic Lasix-it’s a powerful diuretic called furosemide. I lost 25 lbs. the first week after being admitted to the hospital. I was like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory after she chewed the gum and swelled to an enormous size-I was being juiced!

I changed my diet, I took my meds, I worked out 3-5 times per week, at least an hour every time. My heart was weak, but I just kept trying. For 2 years, I ate a low-so diet, worked out at the YMCA and obeyed my doctors. I began a spiritual journey that I’m still on. An eye-opening, mind-blowing journey of connection between mind, body and spirit and how God can be in charge of weight loss and body discipline. If you let him.

Unfortunately, I ended up in the hospital again in 2014. Same thing. Heart failure. Couldn’t breathe. I honestly felt that I was days or even hours away from dying. This time the techs did a whole body scan looking for blood clots using ultrasound and other imaging equipment.

The ultrasound tech who scanned my neck found a lump. A BIG one. 6 cm. I truly don’t think they would have found it as soon as they did had they not been looking for clots.
6 months later, I’m undergoing a thyroidectomy for the 6 cm benign nodule and also for the 3 smaller cancerous nodules on my right lobe. Big nodule was benign, but that big one led to pictures of the whole thyroid and they found the 3 small nodules that coulda killed me. Thank God for heart failure. Never thought I would say that. Dr. John Ellis saved my life!

After I had my thyroid out, I started thinking. Hm, maybe this wasn’t all my fault? Maybe I’ve been struggling against my body for a long time? Maybe I’m not completely lazy, insatiable and unworthy. Maybe I don’t have to submit to guilt and shame over my weight problem. Maybe I can beat this? I can beat this. I just have to get answers.

I don’t have all the answers yet. I am still struggling. My thyroid meds are still outta whack and my numbers are too high. I have other problems like arthritis and lethargy. I’m not as sick as I used to be, but I do have mild sleep apnea that leaves me tired and headache-y. Often. And every time I see one of my doctors-cardiologist, primary care physician, gastroenterologist, others…they all give the same recommendation–go get WLS!!

Boy, that’s hard to hear. Over and over. Every time I hear it, something breaks inside of me and the tears come. I feel embarrassed and ashamed. Mad and sad. Frustrated and scared. But. I woke up about a month ago and had an epiphany. I’m ready. I usually make decisions like this. I do research, I ask questions, I think hard about what I want and then one day, without warning or pressure, I just finally know with 100% certainty that something is right, for me, and there’s no going back. And until I feel that 100% confidence about something, I simply don’t do anything. I can’t say what or why I just know, but I just know. It’s time. And I’m so excited!

I know I picked the right doctor. Things are falling into place. And it all feels so right. And it just didn’t before now. I’m just so ready to get healthy and I accept the really hard road ahead. I can do this, because it’s right, for me, right now.

Well, Well, Well

I’m putting a hold on my fruits of the Spirit for a moment. I am too excited to talk about that because of what I read today with Lilli. I’m helping her through the gospel of John. We read about the Woman of Samaria.

As we began to read, the Bible talked about Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. I knew, from so many times before, that the mention of Jacob’s well was significant. Why? Because the Bible doesn’t just drop random facts on the reader. If it’s mentioned, there’s a reason. And Jacob’s well is only mentioned once in the NT.

Unfortunately, not one person I have talked to about the Bible had ever mentioned the importance of Jacob’s well. The well had run dry, so to speak. Not in my 43 years of in and out of church, in and out of the Bible, in and out of Bible discussions, in and out of Sunday School, Bible studies, life groups, Sunday sermons, etc. did anyone ever mention the significance of Jacob’s well. And I’ve read the story of the woman at the well many times. Today, I knew to ask what happened at Jacob’s well. Why did he meet this woman at this spot?

Jacob’s Well. Really important! If you Google that, Jacob’s well is a definite landmark. So, go all the way back to the OT and you’ll find that Jacob built an ALTAR at the well. HUH?! An altar. WOW!

Guess what Jesus was talking to the woman about? Yeah, he’s talking about her 5 husbands AND how he’s the Son of God AND living water and all that stuff. BUT! he is also talking to her about, “You know how the Jewish priests tell you that you have to worship in Jerusalem? Yeah, well the Son of God, the CHRIST, ME! I am telling you, you can worship anywhere, anytime if you worship God in Spirit and truth.” AND he’s telling her this at the ALTAR and well that belonged to Jacob. A forefather of the Israelites. Who was later named “Israel” instead of Jacob.

Why did Jacob build an altar at the well?

Genesis 35:7 NLT “Jacob built an altar there and named the place El-bethel (which means “God of Bethel”), because God had appeared to him there when he was fleeing from his brother, Esau.”

The most important part of this verse for this point…God had appeared to him! God revealed himself to Jacob. And Jesus, all these years later, revealed himself to the woman. He told her who he was. WOW!

Jesus didn’t tell Bob at the local fruit market. He told a Samaritan WOMAN, a person he shouldn’t even have a conversation with, a person who had 5 husbands and was living with a man, at a significant Jewish landmark that depicts the perfect summation of what Jesus was saying. JESUS: We, you and I, can worship at this well, in this moment, if we believe in the truth and Spirit of God.

That woman believed that he was the Son of God. She knew who she was talking to because he told her, a perfect stranger, how many men she had been with. And I’m sure that this conversation with Jesus changed her whole life.

Another thing, the well was also called Jacob’s Fountain. And Jesus is there at the well, the fountain, talking to this woman about the living water that springs up and never runs dry. And that well, Jacob’s well, is deep. And so is Christ’s love, truth and Spirit. I am just blown away at the deep meaning of the Bible.

The Bible doesn’t fall apart when you dig deep, it becomes more and more clear. The Bible is so good. The words are so good. The themes and history and stories and love in the Bible will last forever. The word of God will stand forever. Because it’s true. There is truth there. And love there. You just have to dig deep and that well will spring up inside you. When I read the Bible, I can’t read it aloud for very long because I burst into tears when I hear the love of Christ pouring out. When I hear the truth of what it says. The Bible touches my heart so deeply that I can’t keep it in. That is hearing God’s voice and connecting deeply to Him. I am so thankful for understanding and the depth of connection I feel at 43 because I didn’t understand at 6 or 16 or 26.

AND we can worship anywhere, anytime. At church, in the street, in our bedrooms, with our husbands and wives, with total strangers, on a bus, at the park, at work, standing on our heads. We can access a relationship with God whenever we want and wherever we go. We can praise and worship him from any spot in the world. That is a revolution that we take for granted.

The Samaritan woman was told she had to make her way to Jerusalem to worship and Christ turned that notion on its head. This is exactly why Christ did not come through the Jewish temple and priesthood to establish his kingdom. The priests would have kept him in Jerusalem and hidden him away. Instead, he came through John the Baptist and established his kingdom, his church through the people in the wild, on the outskirts of the holy city. Jesus wasn’t meant to be hidden away, he was brought to the people, to bring us salvation and to set us free from the law. He was brought to those who desperately needed him and needed to hear his message.

The next time you read the Bible, look a little deeper and it might blow your mind. Google that stuff! Context is everything.

Have Faith

I would say worry is anxiety. And I would say peace is freedom. And the internet agrees. 🙂 Thank you, Internets. Who would want to live in a prison of fear, worry and anxiety? I want to be free.

I am worried about climate change. Terrorist attacks. Kidnapping. The election. Money. Health. Marriage. Housekeeping. Job. What family, friends, strangers think of me. I have to admit. I do have anxiety. Sometimes, much anxiety. Mostly when I’m triggered emotionally and I feel vulnerable or afraid. But…

WE SHOULD NOT WORRY! WE DON’T HAVE TO WORRY! WE ARE WASTING ENERGY ON WORRY!

Any intelligent person would worry. According to scientists and the media, the world could explode in a fiery ball of terror from one reason or another at any moment. You could worry about that. But not one thought of worry can change what is to be.

If you are a Christian, you should know that what was, what is and what is to be has already been written. Maybe you believe that the pages of time can be changed, altered or rearranged. That time has not been established yet. But you should know this. At the very least. The ending has definitely been written. It says many times. Christ has overcome the world and God will reign forever. You should know the bible explains, our lives and innermost beings have been laid out like cards before God and He has seen our desires, thoughts and actions, now until forever. You should know, from the Bible, that God goes before us. Where we go, God has already been. What we have to do, God has already done. He has prepared a path for us. You should know this. But maybe you don’t.

We can worry. Sometimes worry can bring an idea of change. Sometimes worry can propel inventions for safety, protection and efficiency. I’m sure the invention of the gun (and all its incarnations) was worry over people, things and territory. Holding onto something that was precious and elusive. But worry is the opposite of peace. And the Spirit doesn’t grant worry, he grants peace. Peace is the 3rd fruit of the Spirit.

Why do you worry? What do you fear? What is your anxiety?

If you know you should change. If you want to change.

Simply pray: God fill me with your Spirit so I may have peace and not worry.

If we trust God. If we truly do. Then we will be filled with peace and not worry. We will have assurance in things unknown, for the future, if we love and follow God. He promised, “I have brought you this far and I won’t forsake you.” Have faith in his promises.

Ode to Joy

Oh, Joy.
A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
Where do you find happiness? In what things? Stuff? Does stuff bring you happiness? What lasting joy do you have? Any?

My daughter sent me an email yesterday. It was simply a link to a YouTube tutorial on how to build a light box. She wants an artist’s light box to trace her drawings. (Light box: small lighted box to shine light through paper to help artists trace and enlarge drawings and other artwork) She doesn’t like the pencil marks, eraser smudges and tiny, little, outside-the-lines mistakes that she makes. She wants her drawings to be perfect. Her method is to trace the completed pencil drawing, ink it, and then color it in with some really awesome colored pencils she got from her Aunt Karen. She wants it to look professional, like a comic book or graphic novel.

I can’t say I blame her. It does look better. But I’m afraid her dad and I have instilled an ever-growing need for perfectionism. And as perfectionists know, expensive items to up your game are almost essential. Almost.

A few weeks ago, I gave her some of my tracing paper from art school. I went back to school in 2009 and pursued a two-year art degree. In all the time I was at art school, I only used the light table 2-3 times. I had tracing paper and other methods to duplicate and manipulate my art. Heck, scanning your art work into a computer can take out most of the mistakes you make and the rest can be cleaned up in Photoshop. Work-arounds become a way of life for artists. Sometimes because we are lazy, but mostly because we don’t have access or means to buy the most expensive product. Being creative about how to solve a problem in art? That’s essential. More essential than a light box. To my dismay, I may not have taught my daughter this fundamental element of being a good artist. Yeesh.

So. Like a bad mom, I snapped. We had talked about a light box and making one, but I actually don’t have the money, time or motivation to make a light box. And I thought that might be a project to accomplish by the end of summer. So when she sent me a link about the light box after several requests and inquiries about price and project completion and project summary and etc. I snapped.

But my failure was this. I had not been clear.

Yes! She should be patient. Yes! She was bugging me about the light box. Yes! She was nagging me to death.

And yes. I was exactly like her when I was a kid.

But! we had a nice, little come-to-Jesus moment yesterday. After I snapped and ranted (I didn’t yell!) for a few minutes, I realized…I haven’t been clear. This is why she is nagging me. And she’s bored. And she wants something to do. And I have failed her in some way.

But! she is also responsible for not fixating on this one thing in the first place. But! it’s my job to guide her. I haven’t focused her. I haven’t found a work-around for her. I have left her fixated on this one thing because I said, “Yes. Maybe. Later. Okay. We’ll figure it out.”

I need to be clear.

First. I told her.
You do not need a light box. I’m an adult artist and even I don’t have a light box. You have tracing paper. Or you can just scan the drawings into the computer and mess with them in Photoshop.

Second. I told her.
I will work on this project when I have time. I don’t have the materials to work on this now. Some materials are in storage, some will cost money and I have other things I need to accomplish.

Third. I told her.
I love you. I’m sorry I haven’t been clear. But let’s be thankful for what we have.

Happiness isn’t about wanting things, getting things and being satisfied. The truth is, wanting and getting things is so temporal and temporary. It doesn’t last. The thing we thought we wanted or couldn’t live without can sometimes turn out to be disappointing. It can lose its value over time. We only wind up wanting another thing that we can’t live without. It’s a never-ending cycle of excitement and anticipation devolving into boredom and disappointment.

True happiness is having some perspective. Making a list of things to be thankful for is a start.
1. I’m alive!
2. I have a roof over my head. 🙂 A really nice one that doesn’t leak.
3. I have clean water to drink and food to eat.
4. I have pencils and paper to draw on.
I could go on and on.

And also. The type of happiness that lasts? Comes from God. The second fruit of the Spirit is joy. Joy from the Spirit lasts. It is deeply satisfying and has nothing to do with getting things. Deep joy and satisfaction come from loving and helping others, not acquiring things.

Simply pray: God fill me with your Spirit so I may be happy, joyful and satisfied.

I have failed to remind my daughter of these things. But we had a long, productive talk about wants and needs yesterday. I’m HAPPY/JOYFUL/SATISFIED that we talked. I don’t know if she is (LOL), but I think so.

LOVE

Love-First fruit of the Spirit.

Fruits of the Spirit are benefits and products of allowing Jesus’ spirit to take over our lives. We can’t live without them/Him. We try, but we fail.

Love-noun, (I shouldn’t have to define this but I will) an intense feeling of deep affection.
I love ice cream. I love puppies. I love that sweater, Girlfriend!

I’ve never loved a sweater, but I’ve heard people say this. I usually hate sweaters. Based on the fact that sweaters do their job. They make you sweat. Sweaters are truthful, at least. If not appealing. They could call them heaters. B.O. trappers. Pill-ballers. Snaggers. Wastes of yarn. Still don’t love ’em. Hate ’em.

Anyway, we throw the word love around like crazy persons. I LOVE your new HAIR-do!!! I love your makeup today. I love your car, your purse, your shoes.

Do we ever say, “Hey, I love YOU.” Not really.
“Love ya! Call me! Let’s do lunch!”

Do we really love people? Or do we love what people do for us? Buy for us? Tell us? Don’t tell us? Do we love people for what they look like or what they’re wearing? Do we look past the hair, makeup, clothes, shoes, teeth? Do we get down to the soul of a person and love it? Do we love the dirty man on the sidewalk, the man with desperate and hungry eyes? Do we accept the disgusting, gaping flaws of other human beings and pour love on top of the  ridiculous dirt sandwich they call an attitude or relationship offered up for us to consume??

Not really. No.

True love. Real love.
What are those?
I would say, real love is letting someone ruin your entire day with their negative attitude and still eating dinner with them. Real love is hard, developed over years and sacrificing of the most difficult thing to give up…EGO/PRIDE/VANITY.

True love is what Jesus displayed every day of his life. He stopped and talked to the most insignificant people on the side of the road. He talked to everyone who chose to follow him. He truly cared deep down for every single creature that he came in contact with. And he gave up his LIFE for all. He asks us to do the same in his name, in his spirit. No greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (loved ones, wife, husband, children, etc.). Laying down your life can be as simple as laying down selfishness, vices or your own agenda.

Love isn’t eternal kisses, hugs and compliments. Love is saying the hard things. Love is holding on when someone pushes you away. Love is eating a dirt sandwich with a smile. Love is (famously) never having to say you’re sorry.

What does that mean?

If you love someone, saying you’re sorry is just totally unnecessary. Sorry is so totally worthless! The intention and sentiment are nice, but true love and repentance are demonstrated in actions and care. If you really are sorry, you want to apologize, you change your behavior so you stop hurting the people you love. No matter what. No matter how hard it is. You try. And if you fail, you remain humble in your total wrong-ness. If you don’t do that, you don’t really love someone. You love yourself more.

Understandable.

Self-preservation is an overwhelming, overpowering, all-consuming desire that is difficult to overcome. We overcome this innate biological imperative by loving others. And Jesus’ teachings are summed up in this one concept. LOVE OTHERS! Without limits.

Without limits.
How?
How do I love someone who is completely and utterly un-love-able? (And let’s face it, we all are un-love-able at some time or another.)
Through Christ who strengthens. Through his spirit. Through the fruits of the Spirit.

It’s simple. Not easy, but simple. It’s the first fruit. All you have to do is ask.

Simply pray: Fill me, God, with your Holy Spirit of truth and love. AMEN.
And see what happens.