Love you long time…

I was thinking, the other day, about my family and how well we all get along together.  I mean we genuinely enjoy each others company!  I wondered, “What is it that makes our family sing?”  How did we get four children that not only hang out together but even live in the same apartments, with one married son near by?  It seems that many of the families I’ve witnessed work hard to get away from each other.  The siblings don’t ‘sib.’  Family gatherings are a tortuous affair to be avoided or at least softened with a shot or two of tequilla.  And it’s usually not long after the alcohol starts flowing that this one is mad at that one and that one is still mad at this one for some event that happened in 1982.  Really?  Is that what families are all about?  Should the people who are the closest to one another reserve their good behavior for strangers and conclude that it’s okay to say whatever to whomever because they are family?  Again, really?

So what is it that we do that others maybe don’t do and do we in fact have a secret that might benefit someone else?  When we are together our words aren’t always the most kind.  We definitely aren’t the Duggars!  We argue; we fight; we disagree passionately at times.  We have strong opinions about everything.  We gang up together on certain issues and our heated discussions have been known to last three hours or longer.  We might cry; we always laugh and our volume is often off the chart.  Yet, we get together again and again and again.  Why is that?

Well, I think there are a couple of reasons actually.  The first one and arguably the most important one is that we just plain old love each other.  I suppose every family loves each other, but we carry that love in our hearts no matter what is going on.  Maybe that’s the spirit of God in each of us.  We don’t decide to love each other because the other person is behaving nicely and is deserving of our love.  We love each other unconditionally and that’s a whole different kind of love.  Unconditional love has no conditions in it.  Conditional love is chock full of rules.  Conditional love demands behaviors and withdraws its love if those behaviors are absent.  Conditional love has no tolerance for bad behavior.  You either behave in the way that I think is right or I don’t love you anymore; at least in my actions.  Crazy huh?  Conditional love chooses not to forgive or at least not until sufficient penance has been paid to deserve it.  In short, conditional love sucks!  Family behavior is just too diverse and varied to hold up under the strains of endless conditions and expectations. Sure we need some rules to function together, but we need unconditional love more than any rule.  Interestingly, unconditional love doesn’t require rules at all because love always has the other person at heart.

The next reason perhaps goes hand in hand with that unconditional love.  We don’t judge each other.  We just don’t!  Judgment chaps our collective hides!  Whether it’s my son defending his friend or my daughter speaking up for her brother, we defer our judgments with a clear understanding of our own lives and foibles.  Maybe each of us has participated in enough absurdity that we totally ‘get’ absurdity from other people!  In any case, we choose not to judge each other.  We play together and we sometimes “go hard in the paint” as my kids would say, but the end result is always precious, good times together with lasting memories for the future.  We have enough trust among one another to be able to communicate how we really feel and there’s no reason to agree with something we don’t think is right.  And, the reason we feel safe is because we already love each other no matter what!

Please don’t think I’m saying my family is better than yours (I don’t judge, remember?).  I’m just acknowledging that we happen to be doing something right.  It’s pretty clear that unconditional love is something God had in mind when He came up with the idea of family!  So, why not decide to love in that way?  Why not carry that unconditional love over to your friends and everyone with whom you come into contact with?  You will instantly become a very popular person because all of us need that kind of love.

Personally, I’m grateful for my family.  I couldn’t have asked for a better group to live my life with.  And, I can only imagine how many other people will eventually benefit from their love after I’m long gone.  That’s a legacy worth living for!

Love you long time Washingtons…a long, long time!


Obstacles, Hurdles, Hold-backs…and How to Overcome Them!

If you’ve spent any amount of time on Earth, you realize that there are things out there that hold you back.  The things you really, really want in your life don’t come easily.  It seems the more you want something, the greater the obstacles that stand in the way of you receiving it.  So, how can you go through those obstacles; jump over those hurdles and stop getting held back?  Hmmm?  People pray and pray and pray and still get defeated… And, in an attempt to justify their defeat make up reasons like, “God must have a better plan for me!”  Now I’m guessing that God probably does have a better plan than our plans, but it seems like He would sorta clue us into what that plan is.  And here’s a shocker; perhaps the things you want are EXACTLY those things God wants for you as well!  The problem isn’t the supposed mysteriousness of God; the problem is us humanoids not knowing how to overcome those things that hold us back!

I believe that most Christian folk have erroneous beliefs about God.  (Yeah, I said it!)  They foolishly think that God honors their requests because of their good behavior; sort of like earning stamps for your coupon book.  If you get enough stamps collected, you get something really cool.  Haha, nothing could be further from the truth.  If God only answered prayers based on good behavior, there would be no answered prayers!  We would be Screwed (with a capital S).  Ooops, I just said, “screwed,” more prayers not answered!  LOL  Follow the logic here for a moment…  You are having a good day, doing good stuff.  You are being kind to people; helping people and loving people.  Your stamp book is filling up quickly.  Then, that lady cuts you off on the drive home and you call her an, “effin idiot!”  Stamp book erased; do not pass go; do not collect $200.  And on and on it goes.  The harder you work at making yourself righteous, the less righteous you become and along the way you are getting pretty dang angry with God.  Soon you stop talking to Him completely because after all, He thinks you are an evil person anyway!  Or maybe you become so good at “being good” that you have a distaste for the rest of the lowly humans you are forced to interact with.  By God, why don’t they just live as righteously as I do?  “Move over Jesus; I get the best seat now!”

The truth is (yes, you can handle this truth) that you cannot make yourself good enough for God’s love.  You cannot work hard enough to make yourself righteous before God.  You can’t!  Or, if you are particularly stubborn, give it a whirl.  Let me know how it works out for you.  So, God, being God (i.e. real smart!) solved that issue for you.  He gave you a Savior that saved you and you didn’t have a blessed thing to do with it!  LOL  All you had to do was believe and all you have to keep doing is believe!  You see, believing has nothing to do with how good or BAD you are!  God honors believing!  In fact, God honors any believing from anyone.  God honors people’s believing who don’t even believe in Him.  He is cool like that!  So, the first step in overcoming those obstacles in life is to get off that ridiculous treadmill called, “earning God’s favor!”  Have you seen the commercial where the kids are washing Dad’s Toyota, windows down, inside and out?  Not good, right?  But what does Dad do about it?  He tells them they missed a spot…(smile)  BECAUSE HE ALREADY LOVES THEM!  (yelling!)  I’m thinking God can be at least that good to you.  He isn’t cataloging your sins; you got that from somebody at church.  In fact, that little voice that accuses you of wrong, night and day, isn’t Him either.  (he whispers…so stop listening and responding to it…)  You gotta get this stuff straight in your noggin, or you just won’t be able to believe.  And, when you don’t believe nothing happens.

Next you have to change your subject of focus.  I know you have heard that what you focus on, you get.  So you have to stop focusing on the obstacles.  Stop obsessing about your problems; your weaknesses; your failings.  Quit idolizing what is wrong with you!  What’s wrong with you is the same thing that is wrong with all of us.  We are humans…  We are imperfect creatures that love a perfect God.  Keeping that straight will solve a lifetime of difficulties.  So instead, shift your focus off of yourself and on to God!  Understand that He already understands you.  “He knows all about you and still loves you!”  🙂  He solved your biggest problem (sin) and is more than ready to solve all of your other problems, if you will just let Him by believing.  So get that vivid clear image in your mind of your victorious self and stop bowing to that image the enemy keeps presenting of you.  He’s lying to you man!  He knows that if he can keep you focused on yourself, you will end up frustrated and defeated, and you will never overcome!  See yourself getting what you want and see it often!  See those obstacles moved out of your way.  Is anything too hard for God?

“If thou shalt say to that mountain, be thou removed and cast into the sea, and shalt not doubt in your heart, but believe, thou shalt have whatsoever thou sayest!”  That, my friends, is a guarantee!

If you are like me, you have probably had it up to here (hand moving up to my neck) with being held back.  Get serious about overcoming.  Get serious about getting what you want.  Get God involved!  He knows exactly what those barriers are and is glad to help you overcome them!

And then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.”  II Corinthians 12:9 (The Message Bible)

You can do it folks, I guarantee it!