Friday, February 13, 2015


LOVE.  The most sought after, fought after, laughed about, pined over, mystifying concept in all the world.  There is nothing more sung about, ranted over, written about, danced about, sacrificed for, declared, celebrated, scared off, confused, delighted, acted out or cheered on around the world.  There are infinite rites, passages, ceremonies, gifts and customs among the nations to express it.  Besides greed, perhaps no more exorbitant sum of money has been spent on anything else in all of time!  Love is the ultimate international language.

Love is well studied and myriads of books, seminars, conferences, retreats, pod casts, etc. have spewed out the inadequate, can´t-do-it-justice findings.  The ancient Greeks would most likely be horrified to know that we have only one word in English for love!  How can ¨I love ice cream¨ and ¨I love you¨ possibly require the same verb?  I guess some cultures are just smarter...

Many of us are familiar with the six loves in Greek (four of which are found in the Scriptures): eros (romantic, sexual love), philia (deep friendship), ludus (playful love), agape (selfless love), pragma (longstanding, practical love) and philautia (self-love).  I couldn´t agree more with Roman Krznaric, an Australian cultural thinker, who wrote: ¨If the art of coffee deserves its own sophisticated vocabulary, then why not the art of love?¨  Indeed!

In our quest to understand love, we have been known to look at love pyramids, love diagrams, love circles, love lists, love charts, love graphs, outlines, designs, stages, types and kinds (these all really exist!)  We have terms to describe various versions of love outside of the Greek ¨classics¨ including: puppy love, maternal/paternal love, tough love, brotherly love, self-love, conditional love and divine love, just to name a few.  

But no one can hold a candle to God´s love.  Love was the major reason I decided to become a follower of Christ.  Discovering at 16 the amazing, crazy, ocean-sized love He has for me simply blew me away!  He captivated me then and He still does today.  His agape love for us is the only perfect love we will ever experience.  Every other version of love - no matter how wonderful - is still marred in some way, for we are imperfect.  How could I resist Him?

Last year, in spite of the pain, we experienced a beautiful love in our family like never before.  As one of us suffered, we all suffered and there was no sacrifice too great to make for Jenna.  Dani stayed by her side, massaged her every day and demonstrated a loyalty & depth I had not seen to that level before in her.  Jordan wrote her notes, cried for her in his room, prayed for her on her bed, did his homework at the hospital & dedicated goals to her in his soccer playing.  Bruce left work behind, read Psalm 23 over her, held her hand for hours, ran several times a day to Burger King for shaved ice for her and valiantly tried to keep us all together in one piece.  As for me, I have never known maternal love to the extent that I did last year, even when I held them as beautiful babies and couldn´t keep my eyes off them.  The love & adrenalin that ran through my system day and night that subconsciously & organically warned me ¨a child you love is in danger¨ carried me through sleepless nights, long waits at the hospital, endless medical errands  and the suffering of my mother-heart that the whole process dragged me through.  It was a year to think about her, pray unceasingly for her, sacrifice for her, love on her, write about her, dream about her and serve her - plus hold my other two dear ones in their anguish.  And although I did it far from perfectly, I didn´t know I had it in me. Most of all, burned into our minds forever, is Jenna´s love toward us - in her gratitude, in her uncomplaining attitude, in her surrender, in her humor in the midst of pain, in her fighting, in her concern for us, in the verbal gifts of love she gave to each one of us as she realized the end was drawing near.  She left us with words we will always treasure as she recounted & affirmed her love for each one.  The closeness of death brought out an appreciation for the preciousness of one another like nothing else we have experienced.  Love can bring out the best you have to give.   

All of these assorted, random thoughts about love this year come down to this:  there are no borders for genuine love.  No political frontiers that can keep it out, no bitterness that cannot be conquered, no sin too big to be forgiven, no relationship too difficult, no war too awful, no illness too devastating and not even death itself, for:
¨love is as strong as death, 
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame.¨
S. of Songs 8:6

Whatever kind of love you are celebrating on Valentine´s Day, I hope you will remember all the kinds God has given you to enjoy.  I pray most of all that you will experience His divine, sacred, unrelenting love for you - for that is the most stunning love of all.  Love without borders...that is the kind He has for you and for me - and all the world.  Celebrate it!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


" It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter
Psalm 74:17

The winter of grief pierces my heart.  The bitter cold has made bones of the trees outside.  They stand naked, vulnerable, frozen in their dormant posture.  They seem much like me in their waiting, in their defenseless exposure, in their inability to move.  They have been reduced to attitudes of  essential survival.

My heart goes down early with the sun (how soon the darkness comes in winter!) and withdraws in loneliness.  It instinctively searches for warmth & quiet in its hibernated state.  It is a serious season, a seemingly unending one and its barrenness stretches out before me.

Yet in spite of the cold, there is a certain beauty - pristine snow and its painting of the winter wonderlandscape, glowing indoor fires, hoodies & hot chocolate, flannels & fleece, cinnamon candles & music floating like the flakes themselves - all a juxtaposed part of this season.  There is the hope of the evergreen, the uniqueness of each snowflake, the fun of snow sports, the warmth of family, the sweet dreams of sugarplums and even the early crocuses with their promises of spring.

But my grief is desolate & raw right now in winter. I cocoon up against the flurries of sadness, the wind chill of depression and the bleakness of the wasteland of energy & passion.  I observe the beauty of this season from afar, like a tourist, yet I am restless & yearning for another.

Where I live now there is no snow in winter, just the cold.  Last week the almond trees blossomed.  They are always the first and most eager for spring.  But they brought false hopes; two days ago another northern chill swept over the country in defiant response.  My heart ran again for cover.

I reflect, somewhat bemused, on the fact that the southern hemisphere of the world is in summer - maybe I am just in the wrong place!  And those countries along the equator who have no winter at all... do they not have a ¨winter¨ in their grief there?  I seriously consider moving...but I´m pretty sure the winter of my grief would stubbornly refuse to leave me until it´s time is done.  It clings to me with chilling yet intentional purpose.

My soul yearns for warmth, sunshine, the soft-hued colors & fresh air of life-giving spring.  I long for its promises, its breath and spirit.  I long to come outside, out of my hiding, out of my cocooning, out of the sadness of loss.  I know I have a long journey in front of me but I just want to turn this corner into tender, verdant spring.  To move, grow and progress.

Oh may I be persevering during this winter of grief!  It will not last forever and there is purpose in it just like all the seasons.  Help me to understand that in this apparent dormancy, there is growth and life; it is just not as evident.  Things are hibernating, resting, preparing for the surge of growth & life that is to come.  Let me walk this one out faithfully, one day at a time.  There will soon be a thawing, a warming, the songbirds will return and the flowering will begin...  

¨Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him.  
As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.¨
Hosea 6:3  

Photo by:  blmiers2