We love like we have been loved

We love like we have been loved

Recently,I got to sit around and reminisce with our oldest son about past Christmases he had with his Grandma Lewis. (my momma) He reminded me that she showed up one year in her car completely packed from front to back, top to bottom, with Christmas presents and only enough room for her to sit in the driver’s seat with her little head of her barely 5 ft frame peeping over the steering wheel. This was the perfect example of a Christmas with my mom or any holiday truthfully,  and for no reason that I can comprehend, Lee accused his father and I of being worst with his kids. Just because we always bring his kids something when we come to visit or send presents on holidays when we can’t be there. As I explained to my daughter-in-love. We love those kids like we have been loved. It can be as something as silly as a bag of apples and oranges that Jeff will bring in a box and act as if it is something super special, lining the children all up and telling them to close their eyes because he has a prize for them. To the better gifts that the grandchildren say I know how to pick out. We all laugh and have a good time, just making them feel special.

 

I guess you could say gift giving was my family’s love language. I can’t even image only giving one gift a piece to my grand kids at Christmas. Now mind you, we don’t necessarily give big expensive gifts and I have even been know to buy good used toys for my grands and give them. I can remember my mom wrapping a 6 pack of sock by taking each pair out and wrapping it individually, just so it looked there were like a lot of gifts under the tree. My mom who lived on less than $700 a month in her retirement years, found so much joy in giving that she would find ways to make sure all 3 of us (at the time) would have tons of gifts under the tree. Not that buying presents is the only way to show love, but it is and outward sign of an inward feeling for my family. My parents who raised me, showed me such unconditional love when they took me in as a newborn and raised me as I was their own. I know without a doubt they would of given their lives for me.

 

I was talking this past week to a friend who had, a negative experience in love. She was previously in an abusive relationship and now that she has found new love she was scared to take the next step. She told me,” If you have never felt a love like that than it is hard to realize you can be loved in that way.”

 

That really got me thinking, in this world where New York just approved to legalize abortion up to the day of birth, made me ask “What are people so scared of? As parents, our jobs are not easy it can be a scary thing raising a child and being solely responsible for it.  Especially if you have never really been loved. We live in a society where the traditional roles have been shattered and whether you agree with it or not you have to say that it has only made people more confused about their place in relationships are. Perhaps that is why marriage seems to becoming more and more extinct. People are afraid to commit to marriage and we have to ask the question why? Are they afraid to love because they have never really been loved?

 

Marriage is a covenant between two people before God committing their love to one another forever and the wise ones who make that covenant know it can’t be done without God’s help. Many who make that covenant these days know they need to love like the way they have been loved. With an unconditional love that the father above has given them. It is only when we accept that love and trust in the Heavenly Father that we can really love like we are suppose to love. Jeff Miller knows me, He knows every part about me, the good, the bad and they ugly,  and he still loves me. So when I get upset with Jeff, I have to remember how much he has put up with from me.

 

If we will all just be honest with ourselves, none of us are perfect but yet we have the God who created the universe who wants to be part of our life. Yet, we can’t grasp that kind of love. We can’t grasp the idea of God not expecting perfection but, He is simply looking for surrender. As a child it wasn’t uncommon that under the Christmas tree each year it would be full of gifts. Jeff and I did the same with our children and now with our grands. We simply are showing the love that we received. I hope today, you realize there is a man who hung on a tree and gave His life for you. Because He loves you. How about today we love Him with unconditional love too. How about we surrender our life to Him and share the amazing love He has given us with others.

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The Not So Perfect Couple!

Recently, Jeff and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary. On Facebook, I posted a video I had asked our daughter to put together a couple years ago which reflected so much of our past. But, as I watched it this year, it seemed incomplete to me. Oh, sure, there were the pictures of Jeff and me from our teen years; pictures of us dressed up so much we could have gone to a prom. (We never did though; that’s a long story for later.) Pictures of our honeymoon; pictures of Jeff, headed to the airport to leave me for nine long months to go to the Philippines with the USAF, after being married for just three weeks; pictures of our babies, from birth till now. And, all that caused a plethora of memories to rush in.  

But honestly, it all looked a little fake to me – or maybe I should say, the premise of it all made us appear to be something that we aren’t.  We aren’t “Perfect”! What you didn’t see in that video is the tears that have been cried over loved ones dying, infertility, the extended childhood illness we went through with our son, the learning disabilities,  the financial infidelity,  the rejection of our extended family, emotional infidelity, homelessness, joblessness, the harsh words said to each other, and the tender moments when forgiveness came. You didn’t see the 13 moves we made – in three states and two countries – and the 18-plus jobs Jeff had to support us.
The “perfect pictures” you see on the video aren’t what makes our life perfect. What does make our life perfect for me, is knowing that Jeffrey Miller knows the worst of me and still chooses to find the best in me. It is knowing that, no matter how aggravating I am to that man, I know he would give His life for me! It is the times we have stood together through the trials and prayed together. It is the times that we couldn’t stand to be in the same room with each other, but God’s grace brought us together once again.
See, the video, which makes our life appear perfect, is just a perception. If anyone had been a fly on the walls of our lives for the last 36 years, they would never say, “This is a ‘Perfect Couple!’” No, they would be scratching their heads, asking, “How did this young couple, who met at the ages of 13 and 16, even make it down the aisle, let alone still stand together 32 years later?”
But i am here to proclaim, it is simply by the grace of God! There is nothing good within either of us that deserves the grace that God has given us, let alone the grace we have received from each other. God’s faithfulness has completed us and, without that grace, we would not have had the stamina it has taken to stick out this life-long commitment we made some 32 years ago.
Were their times we wanted to quit? You bet! The odds were stacked against us, yet we still prevailed; not in ourselves, but in the strength of God. There were days when we could not have taken another step in this relationship if it wasn’t for the grace of God, carrying us through. But God directed our steps and saw us through. He is the One who gave us the strength to try it one more day.
In this day and age, when the sanctity of marriage is being attacked all around us, we must remember that the only way we can make it another 32 years is not in the strength that we have within ourselves, but it is only through the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ.
In our first 32 years of marriage, we have learned that love is not a feeling, but a choice; an action; a verb. It isn’t about what we feel, but it is about what we know and then, what we do!
Yes, love is a choice, and I am so glad that through it all, we made that choice! Even when it was a tough one! So don’t let the pretty pictures on Facebook deceive you. There isn’t a couple that has been married for very long that won’t tell you that they have all had their struggles and their trials. The only difference in the outcome is the choices they made.
So I encourage you: whatever issue you are having right now with the person you love, remember, “Love is a choice.” I will also give you some amazing advice that a good friend of mind gave me – after she had almost lost her marriage – when I was in the hardest part of our marriage, and was ready to walk out the door. She told me, “All I can tell you, Alesa, is this: If you will hang in there and not quit, it will be worth it – I promise!”  She was right. It was those words that God used through her that encouraged me to stay one more day and is why we are where we are today.
So hang in there, don’t quit! I promise, “it will be worth it!!”