Limits of Love

Christianity, love, marriage

It is the ultimate trump card. You toss it down with a flick of your wrist and no one dares cross you: ‘love.’ No one can question your actions. If done in the name of ‘love,’ it is good and decent and obligates others to support it. 
‘Love’ is god, we say.
But we have it backwards. God is love; He defines what it looks like, both its possibilities and its limitations. His love is far greater and more magnificent than I can ever understand, let alone write.
Since ‘love’ is our lowercase ‘god,’ we twist its definition into anything we want it to be. 
Love is messy. We know that. From the mama who wipes poopy bottoms, to the woman whose man keeps looking at porn, and the husband who tries but seems to have lost his wife to his children. Love is messy. 
And when Jesus went to the cross? That was messy, too. 
When we define love ourselves and manufacture our own cookie cutters of what it is and what it looks like, we miss out on the grandeur and truth of what God has given us. We tear down boundaries when we do not like them, because we are free, so there. 
If I made up ‘love’ myself, it would always be lacking. It would always be full of my mood swings and how I felt, instead of the everlasting and unmovable intrinsic characteristics of God. And because HE decided what love looks like, I no longer have to grovel in fear of being known, for He knows me, the real me. 
The moments I have most known love are those when I have sat on the porch of our house and cried, broken before my husband over sin in my life or confusion. Getting dressed up and smelling new roses is delightful, but it is only a symbol of love–not the substance. The substance of love is never sentimentality. 
Love is never a soft feeling that justifies sin. Rather, it is forgiveness and the hope that we can be more like Him today than we were yesterday.

Supreme courts do not define love. And neither do I. God does.

Those rose petals, lovely as they are, will fade and fall, and so will my relationship if only based on how good I feel. Love is messy. Who knew how beautiful messy could be, thanks to our Lord–Love in a manger, Love who sent the plagues, Love who told the adulteress to stop her sleeping around, and Love who is our glorious King.
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
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Tiny–in Memory of Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth Elliot, love, Memory, Missionary

Sitting in my favorite hotel lobby, I glance up as the manager strolls past me. Sometimes I want to be her: the snappy lady in business dress, iPhone in hand, and smile on her face. Her hair bounces ever so slightly when she walks. She manages an entire hotel–an entire hotel! I sip my coffee and peruse Pinterest, while she runs this tourist monstrosity. 
Has your life ever felt tiny? I know mine has. Living on an island thirty-five miles long and ten miles wide (at its widest) and attempting to be a writer can feel rather small. Oh, I know that my work as a teacher and tutor has been important, but sometimes when I see pictures of friends’ career exploits, road trips, and cheap, healthy food–panic arises. 
I know all the right answers to lecture at the panic gripping my heart and clawing at my throat. Avoiding my work I go to Facebook where I read that my heroine, Elisabeth Elliot died. Being in public, I cannot cry, and shouldn’t anyway. I didn’t know her, really. But her books are my greatest collection. Her words have both affirmed me when in distress and spanked me when I was acting a fool.

She made me feel less like a freak when I didn’t date in high school and was a mentor whose sharp words pierced through the excuses and lame defenses I put up against doing God’s will. And I thank God for her.

‘Tiny’ is merely a matter of perspective. To what am I comparing my life–God’s Word or earthly prestige? There is nothing wrong with a cool job, but there is plenty wrong with my feeble heart and questioning attitude. I am a woman, and Elisabeth Elliot helped teach me what that means:
“We are women, and my plea is ‘Let me be a woman,’ holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is.” 
She was a slight woman with a large gap between her teeth, and even wrote about her lack of external beauty, but God used her so, both by living amongst those who killed her husband, and by writing and traveling to share His love and wisdom. God can always use the tiny, if the tiny is given to Him. So today, as I am feeling a bit tiny, I will remember my darling and daring Elisabeth Elliot, a warrior of the Faith. May I wield my sword for the Lord as she did.
1926-2015
Thank you for everything, Ms. Elisabeth. I look forward to meeting you one day.
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
Photo Credits: reneeannsmith.com, sonomachristianhome.com wholesomereads.com, churchleadergazette.com

This Fraud: Some Thoughts on Sex [Appeal]

Christian, love, marriage, Sex

It is the beat of every drum, the rhythm of every song, and the butt of every joke–sex. We can’t even sell a hamburger without giving a little peek-show. Men and women struggle to see themselves beyond how appealing they are–for sex. Cosmo offers up hundreds of new ways to be satisfied–in sex.
And while we swallow it up, it is we who are consumed. 
The Tempter has taken this precious, valid, and fun gift of God and twisted it into something the very opposite of God’s plan. Our Father gave us bread, but the Prince of the Earth gave us rocks. And we keep  gnawing on them–choking them down like we are dogs. Growing up in a Christian home and church, I knew sex in marriage was okay, but it still seemed like a dirty word–it seemed more like a Satan-word than a God-word. 
The innuendo of movies and TV shows is rarely of married sex, but rather forbidden sex–glorified affairs, uncontrolled passions, and people taking their clothes off in a way that they must have practiced a hundred times, seriously. It is ridiculous.
Bachelor and bachelorette parties become a “last hurrah” a.k.a orgy, because apparently sex inside the confines of marriage is never going to be as fun as sex outside of it.
And we believe. 
The intensity of these lies has continued to build, social norms have shifted, and nothing is off-limits.
Under the guise of liberation, women have succumbed to objectification. Confusing fiction with reality, we flaunt our bodies and say we have every right–men should get over it. What we forget is that we do not get to define what it means to be dignified, what it means to be human. God already did that.
What a dichotomy it is–we say we want to be appreciated for our minds, but we make the focus of our persona bulging breasts or a swaying booty. And yes, a man’s mind is his business, not ours, but we are fools if we think we can will his brain to work differently when he see us scantily clad. Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton University, presented some some fascinating/horrifying research on the subject. Look it up.
Girls, if we want men to see us as more than our anatomy, then we must first believe that, indeed, we are. True beauty is that of an honest smile and the light in joyful eyes. It is found in the love of Jesus Christ revealed through our everyday lives. 
Perhaps you have killer legs and perfect hair. Good for you! But this is not who you are. We berate men for objectifying us, but the truth is, we have also objectified ourselves. Placing our value in ten pounds lost or gained, in the size of our bra, or a new outfit, we are left hollow. 
Satan lures us all to a harem–to sell ourselves, telling us this is all we have to offer, our bodies as instruments of sensuality. But we know there is more; there has to be more. 
In the Christian circle we have hammered the “modesty” topic into the ground. But whether we wear full-length skirts or cut-off jean shorts, we must always check ourselves to examine if we are believing the lie. Dear girl, your body (and the way you present it) is important, but it is not who you are. 
So scoff at Satan’s version of sex and what he says about your worth. It is a bunch of malarky. Embrace the truth of what God has said.
Go ahead, reread Song of Songs, and enjoy good, married sex.
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19, ESV).
Photo credit: Google Images/pccwired.org

This Genocide

Christian children, conflict, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Iraq, Jesus, love

 children who fled the violence in Mosul
There is so much noise, so much clamor. I open up cnn.com with one hand over my eyes. I don’t really want to know; I want to pretend it has all died down. It’s just another “run-of-the-mill,” Middle Eastern conflict, right? And then I hear of children beheaded…systematically, the man said. It is chaos, this world. The persecution of Christians has been going on since Christ’s return to heaven, and it’s been rapidly rising in the last century, but now it makes the news…even the liberal news. My people, God’s people, are hurting, being forced from their homes with only the clothes on their backs. It is that or death. It shakes me, jars me, and reminds me of the reason for living: Jesus, and that this war (not merely of flesh and blood) is real.
I go to Pinterest to get my mind off of it. “Paleo dinners,” “fall styles,” and “small home decor” are my search titles. But I am really searching for escape, for peace, for forgetfulness. I skip over to Facebook and find my friend, Carrie (missionary to Cambodia) facing things head-on and offering ways to get involved and help the situation. She’s one of those who faces things. I want to be one of those, too.
children from Mosul carrying water to refugee camp
Opening my Bible, I read these beautiful verses of response when David was dealing with those who would cause harm to God’s people: 
“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them…for You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.” Psalm 5:11a, 12
“Be angry and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.” Psalm 4:4-5
Sometimes when atrocities occur (such as the beheading of children), we are tempted to question how God can truly be there with them and allow it to happen…at least I do. But He is there, and He WILL be there with them and meet them on the other side. This conflict began with Ishmael and Isaac (the account starts in Genesis 15) and it will only end with Jesus. 
Watch the video:
And here are some ideas of how to be involved:
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann


Photo 1 credit: REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
Photo 2 credit: pinned by Kurdo K on Pinterest

Of Water and Sacrifice

flowers, Jesus, life poured out, love

Growing up, one of the morning rituals for my mom was to go outside and water her flowers. She had some amazing flower beds and taught me that every home needs some flowers growing around it, even if it is just a few.

Now that I have my own place, I have planted a few flowers (nothing like my mama’s) and enjoy the pop of color and life they bring. We have a large, green watering pot, but many times I simply use an empty Folger’s coffee container to water the flowers. The container sits in the same spot, under the spout for Sue, our remaining dog, and I water the flowers and fill it up again for her.


It is an old, ordinary, plastic container, and it is certainly nothing at which to look. On its own, it is worth diddly-squat. But that does not matter, because it holds the elixir of life: water. What matters is not the carrier, but what is carried. What matters is not the vessel, but what is brought. And so it is with us: it is what’s poured out that matters.



Ugo Bassi, a preacher and writer of the 1800s penned these words:


          Measure thy life by loss instead of gain;
          Not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth;
          For love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice

And what is this water of life to be poured forth? It is the love of Christ, love that we cannot earn or buy, only freely accept and offer to others by sacrificing our lives. We don’t have to thirst, and we don’t have to be empty (even if there are days we feel we are). The Water of Life comes from a well that will never run dry. He promised. 

“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:14 (NLT)

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann


Photo Credits: Google Images/www.freephotosandart.com