Friday, March 31, 2006

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Two posts in one day. Can you believe it? I wanted this one to stand out a bit. Last weekend I helped lead worship at my church's women's retreat. I have to admit that had I not been asked to help out I would not have gone but I would have missed out on some great fellowship. There were only about 40 ladies there, but that was okay because everyone seemed comfortable and we had the chance to get to know people that we don't normally talk to.

The theme of the weekend was "We Are One Body" and obviously most of the talks and activities were about unity and relationships. In our notebooks, we were given a worksheet with three concentric circles printed on it. In the outer circle, we were to write the names of our acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers, etc. The middle circle was for people we know a bit better - maybe friends from Bible study or family members. You can see where this is going, right? The inner circle was for the few that know us best, the people that know our deepest secrets and have heard our wildest dreams (and not laughed!). The inner circle was the easiest one for me to fill because I could write down each of your names: Sarah, Kelly, Kristy, Katie, and Megan. Along with Chrissy and Danielle, I feel like God has very graciously blessed me with 7 women that I can always count on, even though none of us live in the same city (except for Sarah and Danielle, and they don't even know each other). I love it that even 7 years out of Wheaton, we still make it a priority to travel all over the country to see each other as much as we can, and I believe we'll still be doing that when we're 70. I love it that we have this blog. I love it that I have a combined 75 years of history with you all (including Chrissy and Danielle).

Here's the opening of Philippians from The Message, my current favorite Bible translation/paraphrase. These verses are so often quoted in cards and notes between friends that I think the sentiments have gotten diluted, but I hope you'll read this with fresh eyes. There really can't be any better way to put into words what is on my heart than to use the words written, through the hand of Paul, by the greatest Friend of all.

3 Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. 4 Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. 5 I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God's Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. 6 There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

7 It's not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality. You have, after all, stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial, and came out of it in one piece. All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. 8 He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does!

9 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings 10 so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: 11 bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.

Verse 3 is entirely true - I am so thankful that God has let me be part of a group of what I consider to be the most incredible women I know. My hope is that verse 4 becomes more and more a habit for me. As in verse 7, I want to thank you for sticking with me, and with each other. Verse 8, well, all I can say is AMEN! And just as Paul hoped for his pals in Philippi, I hope that you (and we together) will have the kind of lives described in verses 9 through 11 - full and adventurous, infectious and expectant, overflowing with love for Christ and each other.

1 comment:

kel said...


Today has been a hard day for me (and it's only 11 a.m. so thanks for your words of encouragement.