They’ll know we are Christians by our love


February is arriving at the perfect time—we all need a little more love in our lives. Maybe you’ve been disillusioned by the meanness on Facebook lately, or disappointed when people in your lives seem to be showing their true colors (and they’re not very pretty). Maybe you keep hearing about hate and want to be intentional about choosing love. Perhaps you’ve even wondered how on earth we’ll ever convince another person to want to embrace Christianity when the image put out there by so many doesn’t look like the Christ we’re proclaiming.

I hear ya. Unfortunately, I’m right there with you.

And now it’s nearly Valentine’s Day. Normally I groan a little on the inside at that. I have a wonderful husband but this holiday has always felt like one geared more towards infatuation than permanence, so it hasn’t meant a lot to me (and as a redhead, I’ve never been a big fan of red or pink).

But LOVE? Now that is something I can celebrate. And so it’s an easy step to turn this holiday into one that’s not about two people—but about our True Soul Mate. It’s about God, who taught us about love, practiced love, advocated love, and IS love.

Because one thing I believe is that love is always the answer. I’d rather err on the side of love—give too much rather than not enough. Welcome everyone in and let God change their hearts, not me. The other thing is that people do watch us to see how we treat people and whether we live what we preach. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:37 NLT).

And that’s what I want to do: Love people so completely, so well, so unswervingly that no one can question whether I love God—because that will be abundantly clear. So I put together a prayer prompt calendar for this month that is all about love—about feeling compassion, stretching those boundaries, and loving even when it’s difficult or uncomfortable. Normally, these monthly calendars are available only to my newsletter subscribers, but in the spirit of (you guessed it!) love, I am offering this to all of you. Print it out, tuck it in your Bible or on your fridge, tape it into your prayer journal, tack it on the wall by your mirror, or distribute copies to your church—whatever you can do to remind yourself to practice love.

ProductGraphic_Feb 17 prayer promptsClick here or on the image above to go to the high-res PDF file. At the top of that page, click the disk icon to save or the printer icon to print. If you enjoy this, check back next month (or subscribe to my newsletter while you’re here) and you’ll get them every month. But if not, that’s okay, too. I just want to share this one with all of you right now.

Pray with me, and then enjoy this song :-).

Dear Lord, when people look at me, I don’t want them to see division or strife or discord. I don’t want them to feel judgment or exclusion or hate. I want them to see You. To feel the kind of love—the power of it, the mercy and kindness and generosity and stability and permanence—that can only come from You. Open my mind and soften my heart so that I can love like You do. And help me to love You more freely, openly, and passionately, because Your Love remains forever. Amen.

Happy Valentine’s Day

As published yesterday at the Internet Café… Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

I have loved you with an everlasting love. ~Jeremiah 31:3

Throughout my years of searching for God, I’ve seen Him in so many different ways. Kindly grandfather hovering in the heavens… fierce protector… intimate lover… friend who knows me… savior who redeems me… teacher who reprimands me… strict, righteous judge… compassionate forgiver… Different seasons have brought an awareness of different aspects of God.

And yet, they’re all God. They’re different facets of this glorious, incomprehensible being that, as Christians, we spend our lives trying to understand. To see. To know.

This year I’m starting a new tradition. I’m going to write a love letter to God. Enclose it in an envelope. Label it with the year. Wrap it in a satin ribbon and tuck it away. Every year I’ll add to this and keep my packet of love letters in a safe place.

This is why: We like to think we’ll remember the things that matter, but we often forget. I thought I’d remember what it was like to be a newlywed, but as I near my 24th wedding anniversary, the memories are hazy. I thought I’d be able to recall what it felt like when my four-year-old wrapped her arms around my neck. Now she’s 21 and I still adore her hugs but I can’t really call to mind the person she was then… Until I read the words I wrote at that time. Journals, letters, baby books (back when I had time to put them together).

So I’m going to write a letter to the lover of my soul. The One who loves me more than anyone else loves me. Will you join me?

Write what you’re feeling. What you know about Him right now. What you wonder, what you need, what you love. What He’s revealed recently. What He is to you, and what you want Him to be. Just pour out your heart to the One who will always listen.

And someday, when you’re feeling discouraged, when you’re feeling as though you’ve lost touch with God, forgotten how to pray, neglected Him, forgotten to watch for Him or spend time with Him, pull out your letters. And remind yourself, again and again, all the things He has been to you—the things He still is, because He never changes. Use them to build your faith, renew your passion, strengthen your love.

Know that He doesn’t care if the letter is well written or if the handwriting is pretty. It doesn’t matter if you write on elegant, hand-made stationery or the back of an envelope. It doesn’t matter if you write one sentence or three pages. In your heart, determine that this is the gift you have to give to Him. Offer it with pure intention, heartfelt emotion. Don’t feel silly or hold back. Allow yourself to behave as a woman who has found her true love.

Because God leans forward in anticipation when you speak to Him. He watches you. He never forgets you. Even if you don’t always feel Him, He never leaves your side. He loves you. He adores you. He delights in you, and He can’t wait to read what you write to Him.

Go do it. Right now.

Because you are His beloved. You have found the One who loves you deeper and more powerfully than words could ever say. Not just until the candy in the heart-shaped box runs out. But eternally and unconditionally. Forevermore.

And He’s waiting to hear what you have to say.

Wednesday’s Word: BLOOM

Sometimes we run out of words. And sometimes we have too many of them. Sometimes there’s so much to ask that we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, on Wednesdays, we simplify to one word. Read more about the idea here.


As Valentine’s Day approaches, stores are filled with red and pink and heart-shaped boxes and flowers. Everyone’s focused on their sweethearts—but today I want to think about You, Lord. The One who loves me, adores me, even cherishes me, more than anyone else. I want to buy myself a big, gorgeous bouquet as a reminder. But I know that if I do, it will only be a matter of days before the petals litter the table around the vase. And before I’ve even really enjoyed them, the flowers’ usefulness will be worn out.

It seems like I’m always in such a hurry. I want to get to the beauty and skip the long, tedious process of getting there. But as I reflect, I realize that the bloom is just a small part of the whole life cycle. Before the flower reaches its full beauty, its seed must begin buried in the dark, deep in the dirt. Water and light and nutrients allow it to grow. Conditions must be right, temperatures in a precise range. And time must pass. Eventually, when all conditions are met, the flower finally blooms.

Thank You for waiting, for providing the necessary ingredients, for having the vision to see what I might become. And for tending to me, watching eagerly for the blossoms to burst forth—yet not discounting the long process during which I attempt to become something beautiful. Thank You for not skipping past the hard, less glamorous moments. Thank You for growing me, slowly but surely, into the glorious burst of color You’ve had in mind all along. Something that is not fleeting or precarious, but a transforming beauty that remains.