It was just 2 weeks ago when our church and first family experienced this huge blow to our hearts. We lost one of the most passionate, quick witted, fast-talking, hilarious, resourceful, wise, inspiring, hardworking, genuine, down to earth, LOVING, inclusive, unselfish persons that you'd ever want to meet. He was life, charisma, laughter and joy all packed into one man. I can assure you that wherever he was, there were smiles... often, a result of his antics or - encouraging words.
I called him Uncle Swann Swann... We weren't related.
The wholeee summer flew by.
I literally don't know where it went.
One minute I'm sleeping over a friend's house, then maybe I was singing somewhere, then there was church, a few family get togethers, cookouts, a wedding, and what happens...?
I'm driving to work one day and it occurs to me --
"I haven't stepped foot near one, large, body of water.."
(...and my tub, doesn't count)
... for every time You didn't give me what I asked for..
... for every prayer you "didn't answer.."
... for every replacement, every removal -
... for every clear path, out of the rubble...
(#2) I've Learned... That If You're Going To Pray, You Might As Well Be Honest. He Knows Already, Anyway...
Growing up in church, I must admit I've heard all kinds of prayers.
Wordy prayers. Short prayers. Prayers that were full of heart, and prayers that lacked luster and thought.. Prayers full of scripture, and prayers full of drama. Prayers of faith, anxious prayers, and prayers that I just simply could not understand... another case of the deacon and his lost dentures? ...Perhaps.
"He has brought me to his banquet hall, And his banner over me is love."
(Song of Solomon 2:4)
This one, is everything...
When I think about banners, and what they symbolize... I can only conclude that we are simply unable to escape God's eternal, uninterrupted, unconditional, very LOUD love... And who would want to?
My parents separated when I was 8.
They divorced when I was 13.
When I came across this video, it was all too real to me..
It reminded me of the heartache I endured.. his words mirrored mine.
Playing small doesn't serve the world....
All your fun isn't worth a fail.
Is time like money, does it grow on trees?
Are you wasting yet another great commodity?
Your gifts and time, your heart -- opportunity.
Don't you pretend, when you and I know...
Yes, you and I know...
There's more, much more...
Wisdom will change your course.
Only courage will beg your try.
Yes...you must try.
You know, and I know, what you prefer...
You. Prefer. Peculiar.
Try... You must try.
Give yourself permission to fall.
Give yourself permission to soar.
Give your voice permission to speak.
Give your heart permission to roar.
Own. Embody...Live your truth.
Grow and Give...
There's more to you...
(#1) I've Learned "...that sometimes you can only love someone in the love language they understand."
It's practical, I guess. When two people intend to share their love for one another, you would think that the message is successfully sent without any undue interference, confusion, refusal to accept, and etc. for all other possible hindrances. You could assume one's determined demonstration would yield happy receiving.. But not always...not so much.. Complications can occur when a person doesn't really comprehend the way that you show love. Would you believe that relationships are challenged and can even end where these gaps occur...?? ...Over the issue of how love is demonstrated?? I have a particular family member who shall remain nameless - who technically requires big gift givings and expenditures every Christmas, birthday, and oh fine, I'll tell you - Mother's Day :) President's Day, and Fourth of July (I kid now..). But if the occasion suggests gifts are in order, you best have them wrapped and packed, ready for presenting. Now I love gifts, and we all do, but I would experience an unnecessary amount of pressure as I gave thought to how much I'd spend trying to buy my way to meeting the value of the relationship. I could be in stores forever for my parents -- just to show them that I wanted the best for them...just to show them that I loved them. If I could give them the world, I thought, why not? But since I knew I couldn't, I'd ask, why try? Call me weird, but quality time, pictures, affection, jokes.. kind words...a day spent celebrating life and good times, that was my preference. Memories made my holidays. The memories.. were priceless.. ..Since my mom is the type who knows what she wants, as these holidays drew near, my sister and I would sometimes receive a list of suggestions for gifts that we were to pull from if we were thinking of doing anything. Forget creativity, forget any risky "from the heart" type gift, forget surprises - "Here is a list of items I will accept on this occasion.." In my college years, especially, I was a little appalled as I compared my "low-maintenance" lifestyle to her's and considered what I thought to be a tasteful way to handle holidays. Why wasn't an evening in watching a movie over a home cooked meal, enough? ...She didn't light the house on fire if we didn't pull from the list, but it was clear that gift giving put the biggest smile on her face. I realized she had a point - a good one :) After talking with my mom and considering the principles of giving, I understood this one thing... There wasn't anything wrong with her, per se... we were just different. We literally saw things differently. Sacrifice, savings, and discipline towards checking off her wish list added to her appreciation of our expression of love. When quality time and affirmation may have been enough for me, tangible gifts spoke louder than words for her. I remembered that she would go out of her way to leave no space under the Christmas tree every year. But I also remembered, that as a pre-teen, gifts weren't everything to me, that this form of Christmas left me unimpressed. We were different --- By high school, I was sure that I could easily save up and go buy what I wanted when I wanted to. I didn't need or want gifts to validate her love for me. I was thankful -- and amused of course, but it didn't light up my heart like perhaps some pleasant quality time might have. You can't pay for that. She still had a point -- a good one: Quality time is fine and appropriate all year long, but on her day, or any gift giving occasion, it's another chance to give honor where it's due. Holidays are set aside to remind us that we have to take time to celebrate what's special in our lives; and, if we don't take the time to do so, it's simple... we will forget. It lets your loved ones know you value them enough to do something particularly special - that even if it cost you a little, you wouldn't let the day go by without watering the relationship with a little heartfelt giving. Relationships blossom even the more when a person feels appreciated and is certain about the significance of the role they play in your life.. So why GIVE if it costs you? Well, because giving is the very embodiment of love. Any sacrifice for the good benefit of another.... is love in action. I'll try to stay on task, but here, I must:
John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
***Ever read this book? The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman I appreciate the author. Not because these 5 languages are settled in heaven and earth.. and not because it's the rule of thumb when it comes to love, but it assists us in creating dialogue that effectively articulates our needs and gives voice to our misunderstandings. Most importantly, it removes us from judging one another. The 5 Love Languages: Words of Affirmation Acts of Service Quality Time Physical Touch (Affection) Receiving/Giving Gifts When you rate these on your personal scale of love expressed - which are the most important? What can you go without? What is absolutely non-negotiable? Are we in relationships with people we love, but because we don't speak their "language" they'll never know? I look at the five languages and realize mine are affection, quality time and affirmation - I've once dated a guy who had completely different love languages. I thought it wouldn't be much of a challenge initially, but I then realized it WAS if his way of showing "love" was mostly acts of service and giving gifts. If at that time I considered myself to be fairly independent, then an act of service was practically a crime.. I can tie my own shoe! And I don't need you to buy me shoes, I want you to tell me I'm wearing nice shoes and spend time with me at the mall as I look for them : ) Please don't get me wrong - I do appreciate a strong arm, but as you may be able to tell.. that was just one reason it didn't work out lol.. No worries people : ) I'm fine, and I digress.. *** My mom is turning 50 this year, and because I love her, I know better than to surprise her with a default, surprise 50th birthday party. She's a supervisor at heart - so as much as I'd love to rid her of all tasks, blindfold her and walk her into a room full of loved ones, I know deep down that she'd love to be involved in the planning and picking, the theme development and menu. I know that she may not even want a party, she may want a trip. And because I love her, I know to give her a choice. "Party or trip?? Or is there some unrighteously priced pair of earrings you have your eyes on?... What can I give? How can I love you on your birthday?" She's got 4 months to decide... I'm waitingggg.. I hope this helps you in some way or another : ) Remember..I don't insist you spend your life trying to prove your love to an incompatible, BUT, the least you can do is meet the object of your affection half way.... All for the smile... All because.. well, why not?
*** Bible Verse References***Acts 20:35: "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” 2 Corinthians 9:7: "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." Hebrews 13:16: "Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." Romans 13:7: "Pay everyone whatever you owe them—taxes to whom taxes are due, tolls to whom tolls are due, fear (respect) to whom fear (respect) is due, honor to whom honor is due." Luke 6:38: "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." Proverbs 3:27: "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it." Proverbs 21:26: "…the righteous give and do not hold back."
Have you noticed..how the world turns??
How everyone needs inspiration;
And everyone needs a friend?
So much talk about getting out of the boxes we've put ourselves in.
..There must be an enemy...
a worldwide discourager
that we're all up against
because we're all fighting for:
freedom, expression... joy - settled hearts.
Each morning, like a team, we take swings at the dream killer..
We post public minute motivators, happy quotes and choice words...
...we push forward...
Jubilantly. Unrelenting. With tact.
We advance together as an army, with the Champion of the skies.
For we know and we're sure,
We're champions in disguise.
Everyday realizing, that we are not alone.
Everyday we realize that we are not alone.
Did you notice how the world turns?
how everyone needs a friend,
and everyone wants inspiration...
...that everyone wants to win?
Our victory is here: He's near.
He is Present. He is Friend. Daily strength and unmatched courage...
...hovering above... ...residing within.