Holiday on the Farm Event!

I feel blessed beyond measure to be a featured author (again) at Holiday on the Farm Artisan & Craft Market. Author LG Boyle will be on the scene with copies of Touched, Immaculate AND (God willing) a special preview of book three: Triumvirate! I may even have advance copies available – YAY! I hope to see you there. I’ve included the details below:

7626 Ashley Rd, Yorkville, IL 60560-9741

Saturday, September 30th, 10 AM – 4 PM

Admission: $5 per car

Meanwhile, enjoy this synopsis of TRIUMVIRATE!

Three young children, Mal, Ari and Martha, have been “touched” and are in possession of enormous talents, bestowed on them by a chance encounter with the Young Master. Now Ari, Mal and Martha find themselves in the wrong place and time because Ari has done the unthinkable, resulting in a perpetual red dawn. But that is the least of their worries! Ari is on the run, while Mal and Martha attempt to keep their enemy at bay. The Strange Man is back and he’s got even more sinister tricks up his sleeve …

 

On Hiatus!

Dear Gentle Readers,

I wish I could assert that I am taking a well deserved, much-needed break from work, writing and reality. Sadly, that would be far from true! I am fully immersed in all three, while in the process of editing the latest novel in the Touched series. I am, however, taking a vacation from writing this here blog so that I can deliver the best book EVER!

Triumvirate promises to be everything you’ve been waiting for and I am so thrilled to share even more adventures of Ari, Mal and Martha with my fans! From conception, I believed this effort would yield a trilogy (at least) and now we’re here! Look at what God has done! I anticipate that the e-book will be released by the end of summer, followed by the official launch and book signings in early fall! More to come, so keep a sharp eye out for your email notifications. Be sure to subscribe so you’ll be among the first to receive announcements regarding upcoming events. That’s all for now. Singing ala Disney’s Seven Dwarves: Heigh Ho! It’s off to write, I go (whistling) …

Wishing you all the best,

Loria

Don’t be afraid of the Dark

Are-You-afraid-of-the-dark-1024x552“When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.” Edward Teller

It’s time to take a leap of faith. Again. Launch out into the deep. Get out of the boat. ARGH! Why can’t things ever be easy? The unknown is a dark, murky place. And I’m afraid of the dark! I’ve always been “scary,” ever since I was a child. I grew up watching one too many Creature Feature movies. (And Svengoolie – it’s a Chicago thing!) My brothers didn’t help matters by always trying to scare me. Spooky stuff happens in the dark. It’s the place of “what if?” and all sorts of horrible things that could possibly occur. Nothing good ever happens there.

I had cause to rethink that assumption after reading a little blue book, The Secret to Success. It made me see that on the other side of that fear – that very thing you don’t want to do or go through – is where your success can be found. Maybe you’ve tried once before and were defeated. That should’ve been enough to stop you but it merely curtailed you. It slowed you down, yes. But also, it made you more hungry and determined to succeed after you’d gotten back on your feet. We go through and persevere, not because we are unafraid, but because our fear of what many NEVER happen, what we may NOT be able to achieve if we don’t go through it, is greater than our reluctance to tackle the unknown. This thought alone is enough to propel me forward.

Fear can be so debilitating. My son recently shared with me a nugget of wisdom gleaned from a friend who broke it down thusly: Everything falls into one of two categories, familiar and unfamiliar. Things that are unknown to us, we fear. BUT, and here’s the good news, once you’ve done that unfamiliar thing there is no longer any need to fear it. You have conquered it and can quite reasonably move it over to the things now familiar to me or “known” silo. It loses it’s power to terrorize you and you can expect that the next time will be easier. For example, the process of writing a book once frightened me, but no longer. God has enabled me to do it twice and now, we’re working on book three. The thought of book signings used to make me want to hide somewhere! But after doing several events, I have a handle on them now. I am not fearless when it comes to such things but I push past the fear because what I’m trying to accomplish is on the other side. I can’t NOT do it.

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Matt 14:29

We know from many stories that Peter was brash and bold. He could be cocky at times. But he was a regular person like you and I. His faith could fail. I think any confidence he had was owed to his association with Jesus and not naturally occurring. To step out of the boat required great faith, true, but he was relying on Jesus. When the disciple took his eyes off the Master, he began to sink. Looking to Jesus in the midst of that storm allowed Peter to walk on water. He became his own miracle. Any confidence I have to work miracles or do great things comes from my relationship with God. 

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4

Peter, like us, could become discouraged or disheartened and give up. But, as in the second scripture example, encouragement from the Lord was all it took to get Peter to try “one mo’ gin.” After a night of fishing and catching NOTHING, Peter obeyed the command and caught more than humanly possible. Jesus is our constant source of encouragement. In His power, we can do more, be more. He stands before us saying: Yes you can. He prods us to go a little bit further.

To walk in the dark is to be aware, more than ever, of the presence of, and need for light. Even as a pinprick, it will be evident in it’s display and proof of existence. When light is all around us, more light is hardly a necessity. It is in the darkness that light is made more brilliant and more needful. We lean on it. Search for it. Look to it for illumination and for guidance. Move towards it. Oh, how we need it then!

When things are dark and hopeless is when I need Him most. He IS the light and His Word a lamp unto my feet. When I’m struggling with how to move forward, I know I can look to Him to show me the way. I can depend on you, Lord, to help me work my miracle, too. I’ll leave you with the words of a song I learned as a child which encourages me to this day:

When you walk through a storm, keep your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm is a golden sky and the sweet silver song of the lark.
Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone.

So, don’t fear the destructive power of that storm, I say to myself. Yes, it will tear up some stuff and leave you heartbroken with your loss. But, and here’s the important thing to remember, you will recover. Don’t be afraid of the dark, or the unknown. Though your steps may falter, walk with the sure knowledge that God is with you. Get to the other side where the air, heavy with moisture, smells like fresh rain and vegetation. And you just know all of that rain is a harbinger of good things to come. It is sustenance for the soil, preparing the earth to bring forth new things. Likewise, our storms may be meant to bring to fruition our vision of better days ahead.

Be blessed,

Loria

Reflections

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” Oprah Winfrey

I came across a picture of my daughter and I among my FB memories that made me smile and reflect. So much ugly has been going on in the world, it’s been all too easy to become distracted from my purpose. It’s the goal, or should be, of every Christian to somehow be in this world but, not of it. To know that we are but travelers and should not find ourselves so easily ensconced in the intrigues of this society. But we do succumb, despite our best efforts. It’s what happens when we walk by sight, instead of by faith, by what we see and what’s in front of us, instead of what we believe. 

I recently had an episode where I wound up in the hospital for a few days. It was nothing major, or at least, not something that couldn’t be aided with fluids delivered intravenously and emptying the contents of my gut – an evacuation order which my stomach willingly obliged. It was scary at the time, but simultaneously, not. I think it helped to clarify some things for me, helped to put my life in perspective.

My daughter always accuses me of being overly dramatic when I am sick (a few others may have agreed with her, lol!) but I made my peace with the idea of this being the end, just in case. Yes, I saw a white light – but my brother assures me that was merely in the process of fainting. No, my life didn’t flash before my eyes but my purpose did. I thought of my latest novel and how it wasn’t complete. Not now, Lord! I thought of my children and what leaving would do to them. I needed to tell them I love them. Then, I realized that this is the moment we Christians are supposed to be joyfully awaiting, preparing for this very event – to be absent from this body and present with our Lord. 

Today, a week later, life is back to normal. Obviously, I survived the ordeal with very little harm and a new respect for medications. I probably received the much-needed break and medical attention that I had put off for so long. It’s not what I wanted to happen but I see how the entire episode worked to my benefit. But that’s not what I’m reflecting on today. I heard a song by Brian Courtney Wilson, Worth Fighting For which stirred to remembrance in me:

Eyes haven’t seen, ears haven’t heard, all you have planned for me …

And when I had reached the end of the song I was near tears. Maybe God isn’t finished with me yet. But more than that, I saw what God had already done. This is the day that my life flashed before my eyes. I was suddenly grateful; I am ashamed to admit, as I had never been before. This life is not what I expected. But it has been so worth it, worth living and worth fighting for. No, I didn’t see myself divorced before I turned forty but neither had I seen myself married either. That was an unattainable dream. I knew I wanted marriage but for some reason, I didn’t think it was in the cards for me. Same with children – never saw motherhood for me but I’m so glad God made me a mother. My children remain my constant motivation and are the great joy of my life.

On this day, I realized that even though I didn’t see these things for myself, I couldn’t conceive of it, but God did. Oprah said words to this effect – God’s plan for you is far bigger than anything you could ever imagine. I see now that I have lived a 

blessed life. I can sing as Smokie Norful in Dear God:

It may not be all that I’d hoped for and every dream has not yet been realized

but to see you face one day God I know it’s all gonna be worth it

Lord, so I thank you for … my life

I appreciate every single bit of it – even the bad – because it made me who I am. And it didn’t kill me, it made me stronger, resilient, able to bend but not break under pressure. That’s what this life has done for me. Today, I recall my purpose – to live as a traveler, enjoying what this world offers like one on vacation, knowing all the while that’s it’s nice to visit but I don’t want to stay. I’m keeping my eyes on the prize and wearing this world as a loose garment. I’m resolving to be moved by faith, not by sight. I mean to press onward toward the high calling in Christ Jesus – that calling that invokes in me the desire to utilize all the gifts I’ve been given to His glory. I’m able to enjoy the miracle that Jesus himself didn’t live to see, nor was he meant to – the joy of being a parent. Not only despite my travails but because of them now, I am thankful.

Be blessed,

Loria

 

 

 

What NOT to Wear

woman-1439909_1920All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Peter 5:5

I listened as the young minister spoke on pride and how important it was to humble ourselves. Pride goeth forth before destruction and all that. But I thought to myself, Loria are you guilty of pride? I had been accused of being humble and had actually begun to believe it. All things considered, folks thought that I could have a bigger ego because of all that’s going on. I could make a list but that would be ego 😉 Suffice to say, God is still blessing me.

But as I heard the words of the young preacher, his trial sermon, he read the definition of pride and suddenly I wasn’t so sure that I came down on the right side of the equation. I had prayed before he even got up to speak that God would let me hear a good word, something I could use or take away and apply to my daily life. God delivered just that. It came to me that I had a sense of entitlement about support I expected to receive from others. When I didn’t get it, I was understandably disappointed. But I realized that I shouldn’t have been. Hope that people will be there for me,  yes, but that they owe support to me is another thing. That mindset meant I had a right to feel slighted or angry, even, if they didn’t come through. And as the pastor continued with his sermon, I felt more and more convicted. I knew God was answering my prayer for I needed this lesson in humility.

The message continued to minister to me on the way home. I recalled the scripture that said, God hates a proud heart.  Oh! That hurt, but in a good way. I realized that God, being a good Father, was chastening me because he loves me. He wants me to do better. And He also knows that I want to position myself so that I can receive His blessings. My pride could interfere with that, He showed me. I began to ask myself the rhetorical question: What can He do with your proud attitude and sense of entitlement? I say rhetorical because the answer was obvious. Nothing. Not one single thing. The man of God quoted the verse, pride goes before the fall and I knew I didn’t want that to be me. I didn’t want to have to take a tumble to my detriment before I realized my folly. Lord, make me humble before events brings me down low. Don’t let me think more of myself than I ought! We are beautiful to our Creator when he views us through a covering of humility.bride-1969100_1920

But He gives grace to the humble, it then occurred to me. And I knew God  was fostering my understanding. This was a warning coupled with a correction. I was not past redemption. Grace, I have heard, is God’s unmerited favor. Yeah, I want more of that. So He has been dealing with me, truly humbling me. I saw that my attitude was all wrong. Gratitude, it seems, is a close cousin of humility – at least, in my estimation. When I became more humble, I began to thank God for all he’d done, concluding that I’d taken him and his blessings for granted in the past. With gratitude came a fresh realization that no one owed me anything. I began to be simply grateful that others had even thought of me. In humility, there is no expectation because whatever is done for you is gain. Therefore, there can be no disappointment because there is no sense of dashed hopes. Now hope in God is a good thing per the Bible, but hope in people will get you in trouble, LOL! Man will let you down. Because we are human we often fall short of everything we’d like to do for others, despite our best efforts.

Pride says, I should have this! And it is the I, as the fledgling preacher pointed out, which is the problem. That ego, again. The devil’s own sin started with rebellion: I shall ascend,  he said. He sold us on the benefit of this plan and convinced us to follow suit. Eat the fruit, said he, and you shall be like God. Therein lies the problem.We basically say, I don’t want to wait until you bless me, I want to control my own future. I is the root of the problem. Like wayward children who insist on independence when we don’t even know how the world works, we attempt to wrest control from Him because we are not persuaded that he knows best. The I’s have it.

beautiful-1868656_1920But there is no surrender in that, and surrender is important. Only when we give up and give it to him can he do anything with it. Ever heard the phrase, too proud to ask for help? If you don’t ask, though, how shall you receive it? We don’t ask even God because we feel we can and we want to do it on our own. We have problems submitting ourselves, bringing ourselves down low, to man and to God. I thought to myself, if Jesus was lowly and humble, never putting himself above anyone but speaking to sinners who the Pharisees thought beneath them – if Jesus could humble himself and make himself lower than his station – who am I to do less? Humility is the way, folks. The young minister concluded his sermon, “Defeat the enemy with your humility.” Simple. If you want more grace, be more humble. Another minister put it like this: We say we want more of God when really, God wants more of us. That may not mean DOING more. Sometimes that means SURRENDERING more.

Be blessed,

Loria

Brother, Brother …

biden and obama“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

President Obama, in one of his final acts before leaving office, made a touching gesture to his good friend and partner of eight years, VP Joe Biden. Bring on the tissue, sniff, sniff! But what came afterwards was even more of a tear jerker. Biden thanked Obama and said he didn’t deserve the Medal of Freedom (with Distinction). He gave Obama the credit, listing the accolades of his good friend, just as Obama had previously listed his. The story that stuck with me and spoke to me this morning was when Vice President Biden wanted to sell his home to afford care for his son (see, even the VP can experience such issues, none of us are immune!) President Obama urged him not to do that, stating instead that he would give his friend the money. Not loan. Give. But this message isn’t about President Obama’s generosity. I believe at that moment, because he reached out to VP Biden at a time when his family was hurting and reeling emotionally, offering support, at that moment the true friendship was solidified as one for the record books. That was when they moved from being good friends to being brothers in arms, in the struggle, bonded together, forged in fire. Their relationship was elevated to more than just mere friendship. Watching their evolution has been one of the great pleasures of their tenure. They have become an example to us all.

Friendship is a great thing – mutual admiration of each other, enjoyment of one another’s company, a buddy to attend events with or a confidante to share your secrets – that’s all good. But there is a defining point in a relationship where you can say, “This person is FOR me. They love me.” That’s the next level. The day you realize your friend is pro-YOU is a wonderful day. They are on your side, demonstrably, no matter what. That day came for me recently when my good friend came to a book event with me. I can’t even begin to describe all the ways she helped me at that time. From talking to people while I was otherwise engaged, to taking money (cuz the sales were coming fast and furious, thank God!), making her own sales, running errands – she was simply indispensable. I could not have had the measure of success enjoyed that day without her help. She became an extension of me. I trusted her to speak for me. I loved her before but I loved and appreciated her so much more after that. An occasion such as this will cause you to know who is more than just a mere friend. I was then, and am now, ever grateful for the people God has placed in my circle. He is always showing me the gifts he has placed around me.Viola Davis

Then there was the time another friend offered me a wonderful opportunity to sing before an audience where the incomparable Viola Davis was to be the keynote speaker. He trusted me to be his go-to person. Or, the time a friend went to toe to toe with a supervisor for me (in my absence) so hard that the next day, said supervisor was mad at me! That’s still funny because I hadn’t actually done anything to her. She just picked the wrong person to talk about me in front of, LOL! Those are the moments when you realized that someone outside of your family was undeniably FOR you. They have proven to be more than just friends. They become accepted as family, and are accorded as such.

So, there are stages to relationships. The Bible refers to us as His servants, then friends and lastly, adopted children who are grafted into the family with full rights and privileges of one naturally born. Abraham began as servant but was elevated to friend (Isaiah 41:8), as was Moses (Exodus 33:11). But Jesus went to the highest level. He declared the disciples to be more than servants and his friends but He also referred to God as “Our Father” meaning, they (and thus, we) had become family. My brother has said to me often, regarding my walk: “You reach a point where you move from servant to daughter.” That is my goal. God is calling us to higher relationship with Him. As we grow in love and grace and wisdom and His Word, that’s kind of the point. There are different levels to each position. A servant is not actually a bad thing, it’s just not the highest level. A good and faithful servant can be trusted with the things that are important to His Master. Friendship can be a fickle thing at times, depending on how you feel. Even Jesus found that out in the Garden of Gethsemane. Although they were his friends, self-preservation kicked in and they ran. The Apostle John was more than servant, more than friend. He stayed and saw things through until the end. Jesus even entrusted John with the care of Mary. John had proven that no matter what happened, he was pro-Jesus.

meet the fockers

Family is something altogether different from even the highest phase of friendship. Family doesn’t run. They stand by you even if that’s all they can do. To be associated most intimately with God is the level for which we’re striving. My family helps me in my endeavor to build my business (and I, them), not only because they believe in me but because they love me and want to see me prosper. Family can be counted on to not talk about you when your house is dirty; they’ll even help you clean it! It is the highest level, like that “circle of trust” in Meet the Fockers. May we all be counted worthy to enter in.

” … but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  Proverbs 18:24

Be blessed,

Loria

 

Dream Girl

97783352d77225c4b0e06ce8b98c0fdd“I am chan-yang-yang-yanging!” Effie White, Dream Girls

“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

“It’s time for that new year, new you, B.S.,” said my coworker with a cynical sneer. It was the assertion of someone who had tried and likely, failed in her various efforts. How sad, thought the eternal optimist in me. While a new year cannot magically give you the impetus to suddenly leave off doing certainly behaviors, it certainly is a great place to be inspired enough to try.

I found encouragement this morning in a song from Dream Girls, I Am Changing. I’m of an age where I can recall the original version, but both Jennifers did it justice. Usually, the resolution that most people make at this time of year is to lose weight. I find it noteworthy that these women were able to make a huge change in their dietary habits to become the person they’ve always dreamed of becoming. They started out as big girls and then empowered themselves to change. They are shining examples of what we can do, with our weight and otherwise, if we just persevere. We can do it! This is our year! We can go the distance! If this song doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will. For me, it did the trick.

dreamgirls3

I am changing, trying every way I can.
I am changing, I’ll be better than I am.
I’m trying to find a way to understand.
But I need you, I need you, I need a hand.
I am changing, seeing everything so clear.
I am changing, I’m gonna start right now, right here.
I’m hoping to work it out and I know that I can.
But I need you, I need a hand.
All of my life, I’ve been a fool.
Who said I can do it all alone?
How many good friends have I already lost?
And how many dark nights have I known?
Walking down that wrong road, there was nothing I could find.
All those years of darkness can make a person blind.
But now I can see…
I am changing, trying every way I can.
I am changing, I’ll be better than I am.
But I need a friend, to help me start all over again.
Oh, That would be just fine.
I know it’s gonna work out this time.
Cuz this time I am, this time…I…am

jennifer-hudson_0

I am changing, I’ll get my life together now.
I am changing, yes, I know how.
I’m gonna start again.
I’m gonna leave my past behind.
I’ll change my life.
I’ll make a vow.
Nothings gonna stop me now…

Let this song inspire you, as it did me, to become that person of our dreams and the best version of ourselves. Let it become our anthem when we suffer setbacks and disappointments. Let it become a constant source of encouragement when a voice tries to tell us differently. Let us shout it with a deafening roar, if we must, and drown out the voices that would remind us of the times we’ve failed because it only takes ONE TIME to succeed. Let us drill it into our minds until we instill it in our hearts and this new year is a great place to start. Now is as good a time as any other. Lord, renew our minds with purpose, help us to recommit and rededicate ourselves to our cause. Let us open wide our mouths and sing loud with our tonsils showing: I AM CHANGING!
Be blessed,
Loria

The Christian in Christmas

1482417289141I would leave off the Christian,” was the advice I was given regarding my books. Christian fantasy adventure is the genre, more specifically, and young adult fiction. Honestly, I’ve pondered the same thing for a while. Not because I’m ashamed to own Christ and proclaim myself a follower,  mind you. I’ve given it some consideration because the term Christian has taken on a negative connotation these days. To say I’m Christian may, in the eyes of some, automatically align me with those who also claim to follow His teachings, even though we may differ greatly in our beliefs and practices. It could be a turn off for some. You know, guilt by association.

We’re supposed to be all about love, right? But devotees are often anything but. To paraphrase Bon Jovi: we give love a bad name! Even still, I am persuaded that the world needs to hear more about Jesus, not just about his followers (who are flawed), so I can’t abandon the effort. I believe that God, since the Touched series was his idea, will give aid to my cause and make this successful despite the negative publicity.

I would, though, implore my fellow Christians to do as Christ urged so that the world would know us by our love. Love our brother who is made in His image, like we say we love our Father. Let  us endeavor to do more than put Christ in the holiday greeting and squabble over the Christmas message on the Starbucks coffee cups. How about we strive to do what he called us to do? Love one another. Simple.

And while we’re at it, I’d like to address another topic that can gnaw at Christians during this season: the tree. What’s that about? Isn’t it part of pagan celebrations? It doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas, right? Therefore, we think that means we shouldn’t have anything to do with that part of the holiday.

I’ve got news for you. If not for the attachment of Christianity onto the then existing pagan celebrations, I doubt the message would have become so widespread. It really was brilliant marketing on the part of the Catholic church in its embryonic stage. Pure genius, inspired thinking, you might call it. See, the masses were not atheists for the most part. They believed in a higher power and were more likely polytheists. So what you wanted was a transference from one worship experience to another. How do you get people to do that? Give the day another name. Introduce new traditions with added significance until the holy day takes on a new meaning.

So while we may want to reject the pagan aspects of Christmas, we cannot deny the impact they had in spreading the Gospel and making it known throughout the world. Paul actually set the example for conversion when he came to Athens. The people there served many gods. But Paul was determined to get through to them by any means possible. So he proclaimed that he’d come to them on behalf of a god they already knew: The Unknown God. He took advantage a concept they were already familiar with to introduce some basic tenets of our faith (Acts 17:16-34). And so did the early church, piggy backing on things that were already set in place. That was just plain smart.

“But that doesn’t matter … the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.” Philippians 1:18

I said all that to say, be at peace with your traditions even if they come from celebrations that predate Christ. As long as it brought you to the knowledge of Jesus, it’s all good. What’s more important is that Jesus and the miracle of his birth, life, death, burial and resurrection is preached. And that the world know that his love and salvation is accessible to all, providing a way for us to be restored to our right relationship with God the Father. In this, the ends have justified the means. Now, isn’t that good news? You’re welcome, lol!

Merry Christmas!

Loria

P.S. And don’t even get me started on the day we chose to celebrate! EVERY day is a day that the Lord has made. It all belongs to Him! Let all hearts be clear 🙂

Love Unmasked

As a Libra, I’ve been told that we can hold a grudge for a long time. But I don’t really believe in zodiac signs all that much. My kids however, can attest to my ability to hold on to something and just not let it go. It’s sad really. So, God has been dealing with me lately about love. Real love, not that fly by night stuff that depends on your feelings. Love that is lasting, that believes all, suffers all. Yep.

See, I always thought if you love someone you’d act a certain way. Treat that person right and all that. Some people have fallen short in my eyesight. They didn’t quite treat me the way I felt they ought, if they indeed loved me. But then I realized, they were not the only one who came up short. When you love someone, it should mean more than mere words. And I think I’ve been paying lip service all this time.

There resides in all of us, another person, an ugly individual that we hope no one ever sees. A good friend will understand, forgive, and excuse such behavior. Even make you feel good about it. Some of my best memories are of friendships where the love continued after my ugly side had been displayed. One girlfriend brought me to tears, and freed me, by these words: There is nothing you can do to make me love you any less. I’m getting misty eyed just thinking about it now. That kind of acceptance of me and my flaws just floored me. Truly brought me to my knees, y’all!

But what of when I am required to do the same? All this time, I’ve been thinking that I’ve been capable of that kind of love when I’m not. Sure, I put up with another’s alter ego for a while but eventually, I decide that I’ve taken enough. The ugliness makes me flee because I felt if they truly loved me, they wouldn’t do certain things. I thought about what they should have done versus what they did and what my response should be. There was a limit to my patience and therefore, my love.

Where is the real love in that? And I pride myself on not being reactionary, normally. Maybe I need to just be more like: “I love you, friend, but you’re crazy asl! I still love you, tho!” Real love carries on DESPITE how badly we behave. It doesn’t run.

The only folks in my life that I know for sure I love beyond any disagreement, poor judgement or bad behavior are my immediate family. But God is calling me to more. When I say I love someone, to really love them. Even the ugly in them. Or to at least stop bandying that word around. It becomes meaningless if you base your love on conditions.

I heard a pastor put it like this: Love is perfect but we administer love from flawed vessels. The person we see and love is just a facade which hides that person who believes themselves unlovable at their core. So our love must go deeper than the surface, to the person they truly are and are trying so desperately to hide. My endeavor and my assignment is to love, really love, and to mean it.

So why this message of love right before Christmas? At this time of year, we dwell on it as much, or more than on Valentine’s Day. Peace on earth, goodwill towards men. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son. This season was made for love. This is also the time of year that we don’t reach out to our own loved ones and friends, all because of a disagreement or infraction. But this is the time when, likely, they need love more than at any other time. Your mission is to love someone, really love them and trust God, trust love to work out the kinks in your relationship. For it is the love of God that reconciled us to him, despite our sins. Love won. And it still does.

Love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:12

Be blessed,

Loria