I Love You a Bushel and a Peck

I don’t have many memories of my mom singing to me (probably for a reason—let’s just say she wasn’t a gifted singer– but I do have memories of her on the rare occasion singing “I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!” Just in case you are wondering, a bushel is 32 dry quarts, and a peck is 8 dry quarts. If you are not aware, the song comes from the musical Guys and Dolls and was sung by Doris Day in 1950.

For some reason that simple refrain brings back one of the few fuzzy, warm memories of my mom during childhood. I can still see her singing that song to me when I was little. In some ways it eases the more frequent memories of her criticisms when I was growing up. (Just for the record, in her late thirties my mom went to nursing school and once she had a career, she was a much happier woman and it showed in her parenting.) I found a picture with the saying, “I love you a bushel and a peck” on it and I gave it to my mom for Christmas one year. Since Mom’s death it has hung in my home, a constant reminder to me of a happy occasion.

February is a month when many people focus on love. With Valentine’s Day coming up on February 14, many individuals will have mixed emotions. There will be those who just think this day is all about retailer’s making a profit (and they do), or this is a stressful day when you buy valentine cards for your child’s classroom (how annoying is that?). Or it is a day when some will experience profound sadness because they lost their spouse, or they never had one to begin with, and they experience more loneliness on that day.

Whatever the reason, the focus of Valentine’s day, and mostly the month of February, is on love. So, let’s talk a little about love. In the Greek language there are four types of love that are mentioned in the Bible. You may already know these, but just in case, here they are:

Storge- Familial love (the love a brother has for a brother or a mother for a child)

Eros – sensual or romantic love (as mentioned in the Song of Songs book in the Bible)

Phileo – Brotherly love (church sisters and brothers, friends. It is the root for Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love).

Agape – God’s love, unconditional and sacrificial love.

It important that we have a deep recognition that God loves us. In internalizing that love, we can more easily love others. Did you know that in the NIV version of the Bible, the word love appears 551 times. That’s a lot of love.

Love is at the very core of the essence of God and God is constant in his love. Isaiah 54:10 says, “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

Of course, most of us are familiar with John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

God’s love for us is so great he sent Christ to earth so that he could not only show us the way we should be living, but also become the sacrifice for our sins. The power of that love cannot be underestimated. In Romans 5:8 we read, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

If we study scripture, we know that God loves us. However, love needs to be a two-way street if we are his children. Jesus states that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 34:37-40) and the second greatest is to love your neighbor as yourself (which I will address in an upcoming post).

You would think it would be easy to love God in return for all he has given us. The very idea that he sent us his son as a sacrifice for our sins demands our attention. The question is, how do we show God our love?

Here are four ways I think we can show our love for God.

Abide in him.

The apostle John talks about abiding in Christ. And he is a man who knows what it takes to abide. Not only did he walk with Jesus and was intimate friends with him, but he also changed his whole life after his encounters with the son of God. It is interesting that Jesus called James and John “sons of thunder,” probably for their tempers and boldness. John is the only disciple who died a natural death, but he had plenty of trials while he was witnessing for the Lord. And yet, he abided.

In John 15:5 Jesus says, ”I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

1 John 4: 15-16 “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

If we abide in Christ and stayed connected to him, we will thrive and grow. The more intimate we become with the Lord, the more our love for him will flourish.

Obey his commands.

In 1 John 4:19 it says, “We love because he first loved us.” If we love God, then we need to obey his commands. In fact, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

While it sounds simple, sometimes we have difficulty obeying his commands. But the more we do, the closer we will become to being Christ-like in our attitudes and actions.

Develop gratitude.

Don’t forget what he has done for us and praise God for his many blessings. Write a gratitude journal. Take a walk and just look at nature. It is a well-known fact that people who are grateful are also happier and more content.

Practice spiritual disciplines.

We need to continually seek God. We can do that through Bible study and practicing spiritual disciplines, such as prayer, meditation, fasting, solitude, and confession, among other things. Practicing these disciplines in our lives leads us to be closer to God. God promises that he is near when we call on him. “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:15 ESV)

Loving God. While we celebrate loving others, celebrating loving God is the best Valentine’s Day gift ever!

Feeling Less Than, Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about my personal struggle of feeling less than others throughout most of my life. The truth of the matter is many people grapple with the same thing. I do not always consciously think about how my less than mentality has surfaced in many ways in my life. However, in part it has shown in my lack of self-confidence, my reluctance to try new things, and my hesitation to believe my opinions and thoughts are valid. I bet if you are struggling with feeling less than, you may be experiencing some of the things I just listed.

But do not despair. There is hope for those of us who have bought into the lies that we are less than others. So let’s start right here.

We have bought into the lies. Satan is a liar and he delights in convincing us we are unworthy, unlovable, and not significant. Every time we hear that insidious voice that tells we are not good enough, we are not accomplished enough, or we are not attractive enough, we are listening to lies. Those lies can lead us to fear, anger, resentment, jealousy, envy, depression, eating disorders, and more.

Do not listen to your negative inner voice. Most of the time it is lying. Every time you start to hear the lies in your head, substitute them with truth, and not the truth as you may see it, but the truth as God sees it. The fact is YOU and I are important to God. He loves us so much and he can renew us and make us into people he can use to do extraordinary things.

I saw this information adapted from “The Sensation of Being Somebody” by Maurice Wagner.

I won’t buy the LIE that . . .

Superstar Performance
+ Great Accomplishments will make me feel ACCEPTED and valued

Good Looks + Admiration
of others will make me feel SECURE

Status + Popularity
Recognition by others will make me feel SIGNIFICANT

I’ll believe the TRUTH that . . .

I am ACCEPTED in Christ

I Am SECURE in Christ


Jn 1: 12 – I am God’s child

Rom. 8:1-2 – I am
free forever from condemnation

Matt. 5:13-14 – I am
the salt and light of the earth

Jn 15:15 – I am Christ’s friend

Rom. 8:28 – I am
assured all works together for good

Jn 15:1-5 – I am a
branch of the true vine, a channel of his life.

Rom. 5:1 – I have been justified

Rom. 8:31-34 – I am free from any charge against me

Jn 15:16 – I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit

1 Cor 6:17 – I am united with the Lord (one Spirit)

Roman 8:35-39 – I cannot be separated from the love of God

Acts 1:8 – I am a personal witness of Christ’s

1 Cor 6:19-20 – I am bought with a price; I belong to God

2 Cor. 1:21-22 – I am established, anointed, sealed by God

1 Cor. 3:16 – I am God’s temple

1 Cor. 12:27 – I am a member of Christian’s body

Col. 3:3 – I am hidden with Christ in God

2 Cor 4:17-21 – I am a minister of reconciliation for God

Eph. 1:1 – I am a saint

Phil. 1:6 – I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected

2 Cor 6:1 – I am God’s co-worker (1 Cor 3:9)

Eph 1:5 – I have been adopted as God’s child

Phil 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven

Eph 2:6 –  I  am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm

Eph. 2:18 – I have access to God thru the Holy Spirit

2 Tim. 1:7 – I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind

Eph. 2:10 – I am God’s workmanship

Col. 1:14 – I have been redeemed and forgiven

Heb. 4:16 – I can find grace and mercy in time of need.

Eph. 3:12 – I may approach God with freedom and confidence

Col. 2:10 – I am complete in Christ

1 Jn. 5:18 – I am born of God; the evil one cannot touch me

Phil. 4:13 – I can do all things thru Christ who strengthen me

Wake up everyday and tell yourself “I am loved by the Creator of the world.” Tell yourself, “I am valuable.” Tell yourself, “I CAN do all things through Christ.”

Evaluate your past and things that have contributed to your feeling less than. Wow. That is a hard one. Sometimes it requires therapy to help us look at things differently. Sometimes we can confide in a trusted, wise friend and let them help us process our emotions. Sometimes bringing something into the light instead of keeping it buried, can be a healing process. I know for me personally, that happened when I finally disclosed my abuse to a trusted friend. A huge weight was lifted.

You cannot change your past. You can let it wreak havoc on your life, or you can determine to use it to help make you a better person. Lessons along the way can be painful but God can use the pain and your story for his glory. He can use all the messy details of your life and make you into someone who exhibits Godliness. Just look at Peter–Peter who was impulsive, emotional, a rough and tough fisherman, and who denied Christ during a crisis. God used him to help establish the church. You never know what God can do with your life and your past until you trust him with it.

Stop being your own worst critic. Hopefully, we would never talk to our friends and family the way we talk to ourselves. Be kind to yourself. Instead of criticizing yourself, find something good to say. In 1 Samuel 16:7, God apparently rejected some of David’s better looking brothers and told Samuel that David would be king. He said, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as a man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Instead of saying, I am dumb because I don’t understand this, flip the script and say, “I have an opportunity to learn something new and I will work on it.”

Write positive notes to yourself about the way you look and feel and post them around the house. Post scriptures like John 1:12, 2 Timothy 1:7, and Philippians 1:6 in different locations in your car and house. It is amazing what positivity can do to help get over the feeling that you are less than others.

List your accomplishments. Makes a list of the things your have accomplished and are proud of. List your talents, abilities and interests. List positive things about yourself. This is hard, but sit down and DO it. If you are not sure what they are, take an assessment that helps you identify strengths and gifts (there are plenty of them on the internet). Ask your friends and family about the positive things they see in you.

Stretch out of your comfort zone and try new things. When we think we are not enough, we fear stretching out of our comfort zone. God calls us to step out. Look at Noah, Moses, Esther, Ruth, Nehemiah, Mary and Joseph, Peter, John, and Paul. God called all of them to something they were not sure of, but he provided a way for them to do amazing things. Stepping out of comfort zones provides us with learning opportunities, new friends, and new outlooks.

Avoid the comparison trap. Limit your time on social media. A 2017 study found a whopping 88% of Americans fall into the comparison trap. Just one hour spent scrolling through Facebook can have a significant negative impact on your self-esteem. Comparing yourself to others rarely leads to anything good. It does, however, often lead to envy and jealously, as well as reinforce our negative feelings toward ourselves. Remember that much of what you see on social media is a sanitized version of someone’s life. You are unique and have your own areas of giftedness. Give up the comparisons.

Stay healthy. Believe it or not, your health has a large impact on your feelings of inadequacy. Eat healthy foods. Exercise regularly, even if it is just walking. Find things you like to do that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. It may be an exercise class, hiking, nature walks, growing a garden, or even raising chickens.

There are so many other areas I found during my research and could address for helping diminish those feelings of being less than. But that would require a Part 3. So here they are in a nutshell.

  • Have a positive attitude.
  • Set time aside for yourself (especially you introverts out there).
  • Set attainable goals for yourself.
  • Master a new skill.
  • Do something creative.
  • Help someone.
  • Volunteer.
  • Read something inspirational.
  • Learn from your failures.
  • Set boundaries.

All of these things can help us become well-rounded individuals who do not dwell so much on our own feeling of being less than someone else. Dr. Monica Vermani, a clinical psychologist in Toronto, Ontario says, “High self-esteem allows you to develop strong coping skills, handle adversity, and keep the negative and challenging aspects of life in perspective.” When we see things from a view of less than, we often see life from a skewed angle. Having a positive self-image helps us see things more realistically.

Scripture says this,” I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14. Just remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made and you are never less than.

The True Story of Christmas

During this Christmas season we tend to focus on the story of Jesus’ birth as narrated in Matthew and Luke. However, I love to read the story of Jesus as told in John. John doesn’t start his writings with the birth of Jesus, but rather he shares Jesus, who was present as the Word since the beginning. This is so important that the first 18 verses of John focus on Jesus as the Word and the light.  

John 1:1-18  (NLT)

In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
    and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,[a]
    and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it.[b]

God sent a man, John the Baptist,[c] to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

14 So the Word became human[d] and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.[e] And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.[f] 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God,[g] is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.  (NLT)

At Christmas time, it is easy to get caught up in the story of a child born of a virgin and placed in a manger because there was no room at the inn. In many ways the Christmas story is fascinating in its telling. It would actually make a good book, don’t you think? A virgin birth. A skeptical fiancée. A visit from an angel. A journey to Bethlehem. The visit of the wise men. The flight to Egypt. It has all the makings of a gripping story.

Read more: The True Story of Christmas

But when I read the first 18 verses of the book of John, I remember that the story of Jesus is far more than just that of his birth.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Jesus was with God in the beginning and he was the Word and the Word created everything. He was present as the Word of God in the very beginning of the creation of earth. He spoke the earth into being—everything was created through him. Jesus was and is and is to come—he is infinite. Something we have difficulty wrapping our heads around. He existed with God.

Colossians 1:15 – 17 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

In John 14:8-11 Jesus was interacting with the disciples and Philip, who had been with him since the beginning of his ministry said “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.”

Jesus was light and his life brought light to everyone. His light shines in the darkness and the darkness will never extinguish it—no matter how it may seem at times. He came to a world that rejected him. Yet, he still loved us and his light still shines forth.

He brings salvation to a world that needs him desperately. We become children of God when we believe in Jesus and acknowledge him as Lord and Savior. He brings light to our darkened world.  John 12:46 says, “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.” So no matter how dark things around us seem, we can count on the Lord to shine in the darkness.

Jesus became human. He left the glory of heaven, left the presence of God, left all of the angels and heavenly beings who worshiped him, to become human. He followed a plan that had been laid the minute sin entered the world. For thousands of years, he knew what his destiny was, and he did not balk. He shed his glory to become flesh. That is pretty amazing when you think about it. I am not so sure I would want to leave the glories of heaven to become a frail human. But Jesus says in John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

This Christmas we need to remember not only the Christ child who was born of a virgin, but also the man who was God in the flesh. We not only need to celebrate his birth, but also his death and resurrection. Because he did all of this for each of us.

.Philippians 2:19 says, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

His name is exalted from the time of his birth when the angels celebrated, to the time of he shed his blood for our sins, to his resurrection. That is the true story of Christmas.

Christmas Traditions

When I was growing up during the Christmas holiday my mom would get together with my aunts and they would make candy all day long. They made divinity, fudge, chocolate peanut butter balls, peanut brittle–and the list went on! But another of our holiday traditions was opening one present on Christmas Eve. I remember carefully trying to figure out which present would be THE one that would have the best gift in it. Inevitably, I would choose the one with socks!

After I was grown, my mother started a new tradition. She collected Department 56 villages. When I say, she collected villages, I mean she had an entire room devoted to them. One of her friends wired the lights up so that all she needed to do was hit the remote for the village to come to life. Setting the village up and taking it down each year got to be such a huge chore, that she decided to leave the room up year round!

My children loved seeing the village and for every Christmas my mom received multiple new pieces as gifts. Her Department 56 club would tour her house for Christmas. Every year she hosted an open house for all the family and friends. When I would bring friends home for Christmas, they would marvel at how much decorating and baking she had done. Quite frankly, I miss my mom the most at Christmas time because she would go all out and decorate her house to the max for Christmas. Honestly, I do not know how old she was when she finally let someone else take over the job of putting up the outdoor lights–but it was well past the time she should be climbing a ladder.

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Not Good Enough

I realized that I have not written a blog for a while. In all honesty, I have been in a funk lately and I sometimes wonder why I have started this journey of writing. Do I really have anything to say that my readers have not heard a hundred times before? I frequently ask myself, what am I doing here? Sometimes doubts plague me and Satan shouts at me, “You are not good enough for this.”

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

I am going to be vulnerable here and share my doubts. When I struggle to sit and write another page in my book, I think maybe I am not creative enough and my characters are not real enough and my plot is not developed enough. I am not good enough to do this.

When I write about the hurts that my main character has had in her life, I remember hurts I have had in mine. And I think–I can’t do this God. I cannot revisit the pain that I hid for years. But I cannot reveal my character’s pain without acknowledging my own. And my past sometimes shouts at me that I am flawed and not good enough.

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Help My Unbelief

Recently I have been wondering why I ever thought I could retire. I have been trying to avoid taking money out of my 401K until I hit 72, but in all honesty with today’s inflation I am thinking that may not be possible. I went to the store today to buy something to make a dessert for my home team and was shocked when the items cost $18—just for one dessert made with Jell-O and strawberries. Like many individuals on a fixed income, I worry about having enough money to meet my daily needs, let alone all the things on my “want” list.

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My View from the Pew

Well, technically my view from the pew is really from the chair. We never had pews at my church. Believe me, chairs are far more comfortable and during the height of Covid-19 they were able to take out a lot of chairs in order to provide safe distancing. But I digress from the real point.

I am short and usually I sit toward the front of the church because I can see better. Invariably I will end up moving because someone tall sits in front of me. Last week, I came into the auditorium just before service started and had to sit toward the back. It was interesting how different the perspective was for me. But the cool thing was, I saw from the back what I normally did not see from the front.

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Chariots of Fire

Do you ever have those days when you think, “I have no clue what God is doing.” I look at the world around me and sometimes I feel so defeated. I see so much hatred and strife, and so many spiritual battles of good vs. evil. I feel like I should be out there doing something and yet, I am not experiencing clear direction from God. Yes, I do have direction to love others, develop fruit of the Spirit and keep on having faith, but sometimes I feel that God has something in store for me that I just have not recognized yet! Have you ever been there? Have you ever questioned God and wonder why he hasn’t shown himself? The response I keep getting back is: Trust me, I have it covered.

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Exposed to the Light

Our church is going through the New Testament together for the second time in as many years. I love the fact that so many of our family has been taking this to heart and participating in the challenge to read scripture daily. Each week our pastors read the same passages we read and share insights in ways I may not have seen before. It never ceases to amaze me when I read a scripture I have read multiple times before, God shows me something new. I do not know why I am surprised by that. He has been doing it ever since I became a Christian at the age of 12.

I was reading Matthew 10 recently and I cannot tell you how many times I have heard studies on Matthew 10:29-31. You know, the passage that says not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing, and the fact that God knows the very number of the hairs on our head. I have heard this passage used countless times to tell us that we do not need to worry because God knows our needs and is active in our lives.

But I rarely hear anyone do a study on the verses prior to this. Matthew 10:26-28 says, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. ” (NIV)

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Finding Joy in the Chaos, Part 2

Yesterday I talked about the stress and chaos that often robs us of our joy. Today we are going to focus on some things that help us in regaining and maintaining joy in our lives. Having joy does not mean that we are happy all the time, or that we never have problems. Instead, for the Christian, it is a deep contentment and happiness that is centered on the Creator.

So how do we find this contentment and joy? I believe a large part of the answer is found in Philippians 4:8-9. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Consider this–if we focus on the untrue, ignoble, wrong, unpure, ugly or abominable, then our minds will fill with depression and fear. But in focusing on the good things, we are much more likely to find joy.

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