Given: A Sacrificial Love Story

SnapseedWhile I own my life, my life is not my own.

This statement became very real to me after I had my first baby. He regularly needed his diaper changed (obviously)… and I remember thinking that motherhood’s no small task and what an awesome responsibility it was. This tiny little human was totally dependent on me, a 20 year old girl. I guess, technically, I was a woman for all intents and purposes. After all, I did give birth to this boy child! Little did I know that was only the beginning of the sacrifices I would be making. For the following 6 years, I would give birth to three more children and my days of wiping bottoms, making bottles, and chasing toddlers had just begun. I’m not gonna lie, those years left me bone tired and overwhelmed at times. But, the love for my babies flowed from a deep place within, and I knew from the very start that I would give my life for them. No matter how many messes I had to clean or how many nights I’d spend without sleep.

While I own my life, my life is not my own.

I have been fortunate to share life with some pretty extraordinary people. Folks who lay their lives down everyday for the well being of others, these include pastors, teachers, stay-at-home moms, working moms, fathers, directors of recovery homes, counselors, youth leaders, and countless others. Folks whose unseen giveness reaches beyond a superficial lifestyle. They may not drive fancy cars or live in pinterest-perfect homes, but the work they do , the love they give, the sacrificial lives they live speak loud to the hearts of lost souls. They choose daily to live given. I’ve heard it described as living cruciform-cross-shaped, arms open wide, face to the heavens, heart rendered to serving. They put others needs above their own… and they own it.

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Scripture is full with passages about sacrificial love. I’m reminded of Ruth and Boaz- the sweetest little love story in all the Bible. (Seems appropriate to share on the eve of Valentine’s Day). This familiar narrative is a beautiful example of selflessness. As Ruth mourned the loss of her husband and the life she dreamed of, she clung to her mother-in-law with faithful determination, vowing to stay in it for the long haul. We find later in the text that this decision to live given led her to Boaz, the family’s kinsman redeemer. Boaz, loyal and filled with compassion, was merciful to Ruth and brought her into his community, his life, his heart. He redeemed her. This was only the beginning of the mission to redeem generations to come. A foreshadowing of Christ redeeming us. Both Ruth and Boaz exemplify how, when we are willing to do the hard things, we make space in our lives for blessing.

We’ve all been given this one life to live. We get to choose how we will spend it. Will we keep it to ourselves? Will we stay wrapped up in our own plans, in our own little worlds, having our own cake and eating it too? Or will we put ourselves out there as vessels to be poured and used for His purpose?

~ Carly

 

 

 

 

Unconditional Love…

IMG_2887 He promised to love me unconditionally, with no limits and no expectations. So simple is the love he gives. Just the kind of love that I needed in my life. I was an 18 year old bride, my life up to that point had been a good mix of joy and pain. The summer before we married my biological father was killed in a motorcycle accident. My step father was battling his own demons, so needless to say my heart knew rejection, abandonment, heart-ache.

He delivered on his vow, and now 25 years later, I look back and see many ways that I’ve received Unconditional Love. As a young wife and mother, I too had familiar demons. I was only able to find rest when my heart surrendered to the Lover of my Soul. While the love of my husband is rich and long-suffering, it pales in comparison to that of the Unconditional Love of God.

I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve this love I’m experiencing here in my life, in my home, in my everyday …

When I fall short and make a real mess of things, when I use harsh words that tear down, when I doubt His faithfulness. Unconditional Love loves me back to the bridegroom.

For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name…” Isaiah 54:5a 

We can take joy in being the bride of Unconditional Love! The kind of love that lays His life down for us, no matter how undeserving. Who loves us when we’re unlovely. Who wipes away our hot tears when for the life of us they. just. won’t. stop.

No matter our status. Married. Single. Young. Old. This Love is for all.

FINDING UNCONDITIONAL LOVE…

Love covers  1 Peter 4:8

Love binds us together  Colossians 3:14

Love is a gift  Ephesians 2:8

Everlasting Love  Jeremiah 31:3

Eternal Love  John 3:16

Love remains  1 Corinthians 13

Love Sacrifices  1 John 3:16

 

 

all my life…

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“All my life you have been faithful”…

These were the words my husband and I heard first thing Monday morning. Our oldest daughter, Anna Marie, serenaded her daddy and I unknowingly, as we lay in the bed, and she takes her morning shower. My heart filled with thanks to God for His faithfulness to our family.

“All my life you have been so so good”… as she continues to sing every word of this sweet chorus I am overwhelmed with a rush of memories from when she was a child. So full of spunk and enough love for others to fill a thousand buckets.

“With every breath that I am able”… she doesn’t let up, her voice held conviction. Holding onto every word, she sounds like an angel to her daddy and I. We just laid there letting her song pour over us, as if  we were allowing it to set the tone for our day. For our week.

Her wedding week…

Her last Monday morning at home… perhaps, the last time I”ll ever hear her singing from the shower.

I suppose I could choose to be a mess, depressed, and maybe even a little stressed. There’s certainly plenty of reasons to feel all of these. There’s always a possibility that I will before its all been said and done. But for now, I’m holding fast to those powerful lyrics that started this week and claiming them as my own!

I will sing of the goodness of God”…

That three year old you see in the picture above, she too often woke us up singing playful tunes and catchy choruses …

“If you’re happy and you know it…”

“YES! Jesus loves me…”

“This little light of mine…”

So, here’s our challenge. Right here in the middle of our week..

Let’s rise above the temptation to start days with gloomy attitudes, as if to expect things to go bad.

Let’s tune into the melody God is singing over us on the hard days.

Let’s practice peace by leaning into His goodness.

Let’s remember His faithful presence every step of the way.

” Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” Psalm 63:3-4