Love

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

When we are trying to make sense of these times and to do and say whatever we can to make the world a better place to live, it can be challenging.  I believe that love will always be more powerful than anything that is not love.

There are so many examples of how goodness, even in the smallest acts of kindness, can change hearts and transform lives when done with the faith, hope, and love of God.

Faith, as small as a mustard seed, can move mountains.  You may be moving the mountain one stone at a time, but it can be done, with faith in a higher purpose and with others that have that calling.

Having just a glimmer of hope can make all the difference in emotional and physical healing.  We are moved when we see even the smallest example of encouragement offered to someone who needs it.  We need hope to believe in ourselves and others.  Hope keeps us going when life is hard.

Our attempts at love, no matter how meager, become so much more powerful when we let God love through us.  Like a single candle, love can light up the darkness.  Like a small stone thrown in the lake, love can create so many waves.  As with all the resources God gives us, God multiplies our love, no matter how limited it may seem, when we choose to love with grace and mercy, compassion and forgiveness.

When you think that your efforts, no matter how small, can’t make a positive difference, think of Margaret Mead’s quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Here is a song I wrote called “Small Wonders” about how something small can make a big difference.

Song

The best is yet to come

Chart

 

Here’s a chart that I came up with recently, about expectations about a future event and then how rewarding the event actually ends up being.  The chart shows the potential emotions a person can feel with the various levels of reward (on the vertical axis) and levels of expectation (on the horizontal axis).  For example, if you have high expectations that a future event will be very rewarding to you and it’s not, you will be disappointed.  It is possible that you will be less satisfied in that situation than with any other combination of reward level and expectation level.

Although I believe in having a positive outlook on the future overall, I also think that there needs to be a balance with how low or high our expectations are about any one future event.  Thinking that the best is yet to come and having a sense of hope for the future in general is good.  But expecting too much from any one experience can lead to disappointment.  Like when you have heard great things about a new restaurant and your meal turns out to be just average, you are often more dissatisfied than if you had no, or low, expectations about the food.

So, maybe we need to try to find a balance between feeling good about life overall, but not having overly high expectations about a particular event, person, thing, or place.

Accepting – low expectation and low reward. If you keep your expectations low about a potential reward and do not receive it at all or do not receive it at the level that feels rewarding, you can feel a sense of acceptance.

Elated –low expectation and high reward. This usually will mean that you will be at a higher level of satisfaction than any other of the options. You will be more likely to be pleasantly surprised and feel more gratitude when you kept your expectations low or weren’t even anticipating a reward at all.

Satisfied – high expectation and high reward. If you have high expectations and receive a high reward, you may feel satisfied, but not at the “Elated” level.

Disappointed – high expectation and low reward. This will be the least satisfying situation and may even result in feelings of loss or failure because you fully expected the reward and did not receive it at all or did not receive it at the level you wanted.

Lessons from a contented cat

Casey 2014

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV

Our cat, Casey, can purr very loudly, when he is inspired to, especially when it comes to food. For sixteen years, almost every time he has eaten in our presence, he purrs while he devours his food, in sincere gratitude. A person could easily become bored with eating the same meal, every morning and every evening, but not Casey. Every meal seems brand new to him, and is always received with great excitement. The sound of him crunching his food, paired with his ecstatic purring, resonates especially loudly when he has his face deep in his food bowl. It makes my husband and I smile to hear him respond with such enthusiasm to the small gift we’ve given him.

Watching and listening to Casey recently, I thought about how God might feel when we’re truly grateful to Him for blessings he’s given us. It must give God great pleasure when we are filled with thanksgiving for all the many gifts he offers us. I realized that it also feels good to us personally when we’re grateful and when we express the love and peace we feel to others and back to God. And though it has been especially challenging for me to be thankful when life is painful and difficult, I am inspired by Paul’s and by Jesus’ examples of gratitude in the face of suffering. Even when facing persecution from others, Jesus taught us, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” (Matthew 5:12). And as I write this, Casey is purring as he lays in the sun, showing me how to be content in all circumstances.

With me in the waiting

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One of my songs, “You’re Here for Me”, has a line “You’re with me in the waiting and nothing in creation can keep me from You”. It’s about how challenging it can be when you’re “not there yet” and you can’t see or can’t believe the best is yet to come. You’re trying to find the balance between accepting and loving yourself as you are, no matter what has happened in the past, and continuing to learn and grow into the person you were made to be. And trusting that God is with you as you grow in your faith.

The best is yet to come

I was having “one of those” Mondays, not really trusting my new blog’s “best is yet to come” concept… then on my drive home, I looked up and saw the Honda Pilot right in front of me had a personalized license plate that said “Best to come”! And as God is my “pilot”, I guess He was trying to remind me the best really is yet to come!   ;-D