love

Week 5: Love in Growth & Transformation

Love in Growth & Transformation

Written by Krista Monson

New growth is exciting! It is happening right now outside our doors. Green is starting to sprout up from the ground, and seedlings are sprouting as well! Hooray!

We experience growth too. We take our first steps, we lose teeth, we learn to ride a bike; no matter how old we are, we keep growing. 

Growing can be difficult too. Growing pains are experienced by our bodies aching and hurting as we stretch taller and bones grow. In order to get a new tooth, we first had to lose one. Losing a tooth can be scary and hurt a bit. But it doesn’t last long! Soon a new tooth grows and maybe you are rewarded for losing a tooth and growing.

Same goes for moments that happen in life. Painful or scary moments may happen only for a little while, but we still get nervous about them. We try to avoid feeling pain. Doing our best to protect ourselves from it. When it happens, we can get upset and frustrated. We tried so hard to avoid these moments! Why do they still happen?

That is where love comes in. Pain and fear are facts of life. They cannot be avoided. The blessing experienced in those moments is the opportunity to learn and grow. We need to express love and care to ourselves in those difficult moments. It is okay to be frustrated. It is okay to need to take a pause or a break to unpack and sit with these hard moments; to take a deep breath and let ourselves feel. It is important to share love with people close to us feeling these frustrations too. Showing them care and giving them support.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
— Romans 5:3-5

Self-Care

A great way to help with transitions and tough moments is to take care of yourself. What do you do to show yourself love? Is it treating yourself to something delicious? Taking a bath? Taking a nap? Doing a favorite activity? Having quiet time?

Challenge

Try something new. A new place to eat, a new hobby, a new book, etc. Pay attention to yourself. How do you feel beforehand? How do you feel while trying something new? What do you learn?

-OR-

Share as a family, or ask someone close to you who has known you a long time to reflect with you, about times in your life that you have grown (physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally)? Share your own moments or highlight other’s that you have witnessed.


Week 4: Love in Darkness

by D.J.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been a fan of darkness. I can vividly remember pitch black nights spent alone in my childhood bedroom, where I imagined I was someplace else--usually warm, sunny and with the ones I loved. I learned to fall asleep as fast as I could, so that the light and promise of a new day would come sooner. In the darkness, my greatest fears confronted me--losing my parents & sisters, not being cool enough to fit in at school, not being good enough or smart enough or attractive enough or liked enough. My mind would race through these many scenarios of hopelessness and unworthiness, pretty ridiculous looking back now, knowing that the people who loved me more than anything in the world and always reflected that love were only a bedroom away. Darkness came with a sense of uneasiness, uncertainty and worry.

Coincidentally or not, “Beware of Darkness” is one of my favorite songs, written by George Harrison. Darkness, to George, is associated with false voices, greed, people who wrong you, pain, self-doubt.This song, like many cultural references, paints darkness as a bad thing. I’d have to agree with that idea, from many life experiences beyond being afraid of the dark as a little kid: pneumonia that left me hospitalized, the deaths of close family members, rejection, toxic friendships and relationships, crises of self-confidence, feelings of loneliness, bullying, injuries and frustration. Yet at the same time, I repeatedly find myself searching for hope amidst the darkness. Hope of a better future. Hope of little pain. Hope of healing and forgiveness. Hope of reconciliation. Hope for a world where all are loved as God’s children. Hope for the light of a new day to get back up and get after it again.

Pain, darkness and suffering are things no one really likes. In fact, we go to great lengths to avoid the three at all costs, fearing their return to our lives. What if, in this Lenten season, where we witness darkness turn to light, marked by the lengthening of days and the reminder of Jesus’ resurrection, instead of fearing darkness, we hope for and look to that new light to arrive in our lives? I’m not saying to go ahead and embrace darkness and all its toils and troubles, but instead, recognize that like the seasons, it’s a natural part of life. By bewaring darkness, or “being aware” of it, we can recognize life for what it is and bring the light of God’s love to those places where all other lights seem to go out.

TIME TO CHAT.

How does darkness make you feel? Are you like me and uneasy, or are you attracted to those hours? It’s difficult to talk about dark places or thoughts or feelings in our lives. Are you one who internalizes and self-processes these things or do you have a friend, family member, mentor, loved one or someone else you share these thoughts, feelings and experiences with? What are some things you do to bring light or joy or even laughter to dark places/moments in your life?

CHALLENGE.

Check-in with yourself to notice how you feel when the lights go off at the end of the day. Are you looking forward to tomorrow? Are you afraid of the dark or what’s to come? Or are you so exhausted that your mind is able to shut off right away? The next morning, check in as a family how everyone felt the night before.

Week 3: Love. What do we expect?

Love. What do we expect? -Written by Krista Monson

Let’s face it. We love to be loved. We need to be loved. Many times we want to be loved in specific ways. Our hearts may be just a bit happier if we got a hug, or if someone we love sent us a nice text or phone call. Maybe a bad day would be brighter if we spent some time with a friend or someone close to us. When we do not experience love in a way we want or expect, we tend to feel more lonely, isolated, and even disappointed in the people close to us.

We all show love in different ways. There are different love languages. Five to be exact, according to Gary Chapman’s work. Five ways to show/speak love: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Quality Time. The 5 Love Languages highlight that there are specific ways people tend to give and receive love. Think of a bad day; perhaps one that you have had recently. What did you need to get better? How could someone have helped you feel better? What does that show about how you like to receive love? Now, reverse it. How do you like to show others love when they are experiencing a hard time?

A fun way to consider the 5 Love Languages!

A fun way to consider the 5 Love Languages!

1 Corinthians 13 shares that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” We can get caught up in how we expect to be loved and miss seeing love around us. We also can feel burdened by the expectation we feel to show love and not experience love in return. Or some of us even neglect to let others help or show us love! 1 Corinthians is an invitation to release our expectations on love. To allow the unexpected and communicate to one another through love and compassion.

Time to Chat.

Which do you think is your top love language? What ways do you like to receive love? For example, I like hugs. Which way do you tend to give love? I am a helper, so I tend to give acts of service. Is it the same language of giving and receiving for you? Want to learn more about the 5 Love Languages and take a quiz to learn yours? Kids, teens, couples, and singles can all take a quiz here.

Challenge.

Take what you have learned about love languages and apply it through a random act of kindness this week! That’s unexpected! We need to learn and challenge ourselves to continually show love to others. A great way by doing this is random acts of kindness. Try using words of affirmation and leaving a kind note for someone in your family or a stranger. A post-it note or small note of encouragement can go a long way! Acts of service can be helping a neighbor clear their sidewalk of ice or picking up litter. There are multiple ways to show love! Choose one language and try to “beef up” your skills and show love all week.

Week 1: Love in Lent

Love is a verb.

There are three types of love: philos, eros, agape.

As families, we are familiar with philos, family love, brotherly love, friendship. Philos is that shared admiration for those who accompany us through life. Those with which we spend time.

Eros is romantic love. It is rooted in the strong way we feel around those to whom we are attracted.

Agape is unconditional love. This love is not based on merit of the person loved, but rather unconditional and based on them as an image bearer of Christ. This love is kind and generous. It continues to give even when the other is unkind, unresponsive and unworthy. It only desires good things for the other and is compassionate. [Huffington Post]

Love, especially agape love, is going to be our focus throughout Lent. Every week we will have a new blog post sharing about another way to consider love in this Lenten journey. So bring the family together and get ready to share stories, activities, and conversation about how we express, experience, grow, and learn in love.

Time to Chat

Where do you experience love? Who shows you love? How do they do that?


Photo Challenge

Where are you experiencing love? How does it show up in your day? Love is shown in many ways. It was seen in random acts of kindness this past week with people coming together to clear snow! Perhaps you have experienced it in someone sharing a kind word, or a memento of a loved one reminding you of a love you can experience over and over.

We want to know your stories! Capture love via photo and post it with the hashtag #gloriadeilove to your social media throughout these next weeks of Lent. Let us be mindful to look for love within us and around us every day.

Left: Love is an encouraging note from my sister in the mail! #gloriadeilove

Right: Love is being reunited with my German host brother, Lukas, after four years apart. #gloriadeilove