What Delights You Will Drive You

What makes you tick? What motivates you? What “thing”, if you have it, puts you on cloud 9?

What “moves” and motivates us is what drives and delights us. (And conversely, the thing that sends us into despair when we don’t have it, also shows what rules us.)


Many things delight me. I have strong delight in my children. I delight in books, iced coffee, my husband, and my dearest friends because they hold a piece of my heart.

Because I know this about myself, I must also be aware that these good things can become “ruling” things if I am not careful.

C.S Lewis said, “Love begins to be a demon the moment he begins to be a god.”

“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you were called…and be ye thankful.” Col. 3:15

Ruling desires.

Desires have a way of taking over and driving us. For instance, a desire for love can lead us to compromise our purity. A desire for respect and reputation can lead us to build up walls of self-protection, pride and deceit.  A desire for order and efficiency can quickly morph into a stubborn desire to rule and control other people. The desire for security may morph into a controlling worry and a fear of the unknown.  It’s helpful to know our own tendencies so we can keep an eye on our hearts.

There’s one desire/pursuit that will never lead us wrong, and that is a desire for God and His Word.

What are you pursuing today? What’s driving you? Is it a pursuit for God and a desire to be more like Him? If not, I think we need a fresh look at the love of God for us, because it’s not only overwhelming and humbling, but it’s the model by which we are to love other people.


God has gotten a bad wrap. Today He’s portrayed as a distant, moody, unstable deity that we can’t really know. (WHO do you think perpetrates this lie?)

The Old Testament tells another story. Over and over again, we’re told that God has steadfast love for His people. This love never changes, and it’s not dependent on us. It means that He knows that we are sinners and still chooses to love and do good to us, because that is how He is. God is love.

Did you know that God delights in you and thinks about you?

The thought of “steadfast” love is almost unbelievable in our broken world. Our concept of love is marred by sin and bad experience:

  • Husbands, who promised to love and protect, end up walking out or cheating.
  • Parents who claim they loved their kids end up abusing them verbally or physically.
  • Family members hurt each other.
  • Friends walk away and are unfaithful.
  • Church members cut each other down and gossip.
  • Leaders don’t lead to “serve”, but to serve themselves. It’s all about them.

Such is life in a sin-sick world.  We don’t even know what love is like until we look at God. But when we do look to God, we see what TRUE love looks like:

We see,

  • love that is constant, steadfast, never ending,
  • love that is not dependent on our worthiness or unworthiness
  • love that corrects and guides
  • love that is faithful
  • love that does what is best at all costs, even if it cost His “one and only Son.”


Even more amazing is the “mandate” to return that love by loving Him with all our heart, soul and mind.  It’s hard to comprehend why a God who is all sufficient would desire our love, isn’t it? But he tells us that He desires for us to love Him back.

And, sadly, even after we “know” Christ, we still misplace our affections and allow our hearts to chase temporal things.

Leon Morris said “Idolatry is the investment of ones love in the wrong place.”

Any time we sin or “fall short” of His standards in Scripture, we’re showing that our affections are elsewhere. Perhaps we thought that giving someone a piece of our mind would bring happiness and delight rather than following God’s mandate to kindness and self-control. Perhaps we thought that a prominent position or power was to be coveted, rather than taking our place with the lowliest servants. Perhaps we thought that we were arguing for a righteous cause, when in fact we just enjoy division and contention rather than peace and unity.

A younger mom recently told me that she couldn’t stop herself from yelling at her kids no matter how hard she tried. I can understand her frustration, but I also know that God puts us in situations where we are stretched and thin and worn to test our responses. Yelling at the kids is not okay because you’ve abandoned self control and given in to anger and frustration. You may have the right to be upset but—you can be right but still wrong at the top of your lungs.

Anyways, a hard situation is our “growing soil” and the soil is chosen by God. He plants us right where He wants us. He prunes us when He chooses. He waters us, shades us and even replants us if He desires. God’s sovereignty can never be forgotten. He is in control and He wants us to love Him and obey His word.

We shouldn’t say that we “can’t” do right, because His Spirit does empower us to live a godly life. It’s more honest to say we “won’t” stop yelling, or worrying, or obsessing over problems. We won’t choose joy. We won’t stop comparing. We’re focused so heavily on THAT problem that we’ve put our spiritual life on the back burner. We’ve chosen to follow something else, and forget, temporarily, about  God. (I’m speaking from experience here.)


We all must grow and sometimes the growing is easy, and sometimes tough. Your “soil” may include clinging kids, no money, a messy house (due to the clingy kids) and emotional distress…. or maybe you’re in a stage of life where you’re not dealing with “bratty” kids anymore but messed up adults or hurtful relationships. You may be “planted” somewhere where you get no encouragement or support.

Your situation may be different than mine, but God’s love for you and His plans for you are always the same:  He wants us to look like His Son. To be conformed, molded, restored.  He loves us too much to let sinful junk rule and ruin our lives. 

Truth: You are where God wants you and He has something for you to learn. Truth 2: If you don’t learn it, but fight and kick and scream, He’ll continue to bring similar trials your way until you do.

His sanctification comes as we submit to His will and ways. Joyful living comes when we really do love the Lord our God first and foremost—>we must love Him back. We must love Him more than our dreams or wishes. And when we realize the amazing love that our God has for us, somehow we’re able to rise above our circumstances and minister to those “unlovable” people around us. Yes, even our enemies.

Ps. 119:16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

It’s easy to say we love God because nobody can measure that relationship. But God says that our love for others is a good indicator of what’s going on inside.

1 John 2:10,11 By this it is evident who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

We all fail miserably in the love department. We love the right things for the wrong reasons and we love wrong things for the wrong reasons. But life is so much simpler when we focus our love where it belongs–on our Savior.

When you sin, confess it and begin again. “Conscious repentance leads to unconscious holiness.” God’s steadfast love should be an encouragement to us to return to Him again and again when we’ve given our love to the worthless and temporal junk of this world.

Psalm 40: 8 I delight to do your will, O my God: your law is within my heart.”




DIY Italian Ice {Lime, Lemon, Orange}

Today I have a refreshing summer recipe for you!


If you’ve ever been to the North End in Boston, you’ve most likely tasted Polcari’s lemon ice. When the weather’s hot, Polcari’s hundred-year-old barrel of lemon ice appears on the corner of their family owned store. For around $2 you can purchase the best lemon Italian ice in Boston.


Authentic Italian ice is easy to make. It’s not like the rock-hard frozen cups you buy in the supermarket, and it’s not icy-crunchy like a snow cone. It’s smooth like a sorbet and has the consistency of a frozen lemonade. It’s also perfect on a hot summer night or on a sore throat.

So today I’m sharing my favorite Italian Ice recipe. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures! (Plus it’s pretty frugal to make!)


Today I made Lime Italian Ice, but you can substitute any citrus fruit.

Any Flavor Italian Ice

4 cups water

4 cups sugar

Bring to boil on the stovetop, and simmer for 3 minutes until sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently.

Allow to cool to room temperature, then add

3/4 cup *freshly* squeezed lime juice, (about 8-10 limes) ( or lemon, or orange juice. Lemon and Lime juice should be freshly squeezed. Don’t use lemon juice that comes in a plastic squeezy lemon. You won’t like the results. You can use 100% orange juice with good results.)

2 cups water

2 T lime zest (lime, lemon or orange, depending on what flavor you are making.)

Combine well. Pour into 9X12 glass pyrex dish and freeze for 2 hours. Then “rake” the mixture every hour until the ice is snowy and smooth. This can take up to six hours. Transfer to a plastic container with lid for storage.

*Actual freezing time varies by freezer. Can take over night.

*”Raking” with a fork can take elbow grease! :) Use a large serving fork.

*The ice goes through several stages: slivers of ice, to a thick goo-ey mess that feels like you are stirring petroleum jelly, to fluffy, smooth ice.


Let me know how you like it!











In Praise of the Pensive Child

One of the best ways to validate your children is to accept them for who they are.

There is a huge tendency to push our kids into what we love or what is currently pushed by society. Peter has often said that “what you praise, you produce.” For instance, a school that is constantly praising and showcasing sports and promoting their athletes will produce more athletes, because children want to please and mankind grasps for mutual admiration.


In the Christian home, if we praise virtues like thankfulness and faithfulness, versus “outcomes” like straight A’s, we’d be more apt to have hard workers and less apt to produce kids who’ll obsess or even cheat for the A.

Although this post is not theological, I believe that God has given us gifts and talents–we were fearfully and wonderfully made by a Creator– and to stifle that gift in a child defies the God who gave it and is extremely cruel.

The world needs a variety of personalities to make it interesting. Imagine a world where everyone was a visionary, a conqueror, a leader, an entrepreneur, a pusher-to-the-topper, a warrior. Certainly we need these, but we also need the beauty created by poets, writers, painters, philosophers, and musicians. We need to value those who stop to think really long and hard about a topic and research it rather than just spouting off the first thing that comes into their head, because we need more depth and truth seeking in a world stretched thin with information.


The world needs the pensive child.

In a blaring, media-filled, message- saturated, lights blazing, get-your-moment- in-the-spotlight-and-be-famous Kardashian world, we need to encourage the pensive child.

They’re not seeking spotlights. They may even avoid crowds. They don’t want attention drawn to them and they don’t appreciate being forced to perform by pushy parents.

And please don’t mislabel them as directionless or lazy because they haven’t started the college application process by age 10.

The pensive child is an evaluator of life. She considers her place in this moment of time. She thinks before she speaks, if she ever does.

You see, she’s learned that not everyone appreciates this beauty that she sees, so she stifles her sharing, fearing the labels: “out there” or “weird” or “space-y.”


In truth, she doesn’t mind quietly enjoying beauty alone or with a special friend, because appreciating beauty and living with eyes wide open has its own rewards: inner contentment and happiness. She may secretly feel badly for those who choose not to see. Those who’ve been consumed by the tyranny of the urgent and of electronic worlds.

She’ll lumber on, steady, intentionally, writing, drawing, observing, painting, composing, practicing.

So moms of the pensive child, readjust your expectations and encourage your child. Don’t equate thoughtful and slow to unmotivated or air-headed. And for heaven’s sake, don’t assume that because your child is not a born “goal maker” or “go getter” that he’ll never amount to anything.

While you may be caught up in the busyness of life, they are busy studying the shapes of clouds and noticing how most of the colors of the spectrum can be seen in a sunset. They are wondering how to translate that exact green of that spring leaf into their painting. They noticed the ripples on the water and wondered how to paint them. They noticed how one ripple affects the entire pond, though only seen for a moment.

They live life differently than you, maybe,

but they feel deeply and appreciate much and stop long enough to wonder. And to wonder is where real education begins. Self- education. 


Boys, especially, are encouraged away from quiet pursuits. Poetry is seen as effeminate and painting isn’t as manly somehow as sacking someone in football.

Imagine a world without the great painters and musicians of the past. Imagine if Bach’s mother told him to head outside and play with the real boys and discouraged her son from what he was clearly born to do. Just imagine no Bach.

Whatever your child’s bent, when you embrace it, you’re loving that child where he or she is. Not trying to change to fit your ideals. Just loving and nurturing and encouraging.


That is one of the best ways to really reach the heart of your child. It’s not hard. It’s loving them—not loving who you want them to be or who you think they should be to make you feel validated– but truly loving them.

The pensive child is relational and as a parent, you must, must, must enter their world and relate to them where they are. Show them by listening that  you love their music, that you appreciate that insight or poem. They’re sharing a piece of themselves with you.

If you don’t completely understand your pensive child, ASK them questions about what they are thinking and then just listen. Then appreciate their little insights and tell them so.



Does God Like Me? {and What Motherhood Can Teach You About God}

Sometimes my role as a mom helps me understand God just a little bit more.

As a mom, my kids are constantly on my mind. 

I think about what’s best for them, what’s hindering them, what’s hurting them.

I’m protective of them and hurt when they hurt.

I want to do special things for them. I want to talk about them because I delight in them. I want to show you pictures of them, so I will. (See what I did there?)






I keep a protective helicopterish eye on them.

I pray for them when they get into a car to drive, or when they go to work or school. This morning I woke early to pray for my youngest who is at camp this week.

My love for them drives this interest in them.

Even with all of this,

my love for my kids is marred by my own sinfulness.

Can you imagine how much a perfect God must love and watch and protect His children?

Unfortunately, I believe we forget about God’s love for us as Christian women. In fact, this topic has come up several times in the last few weeks. Women who, deep down under all the hurt and despair are struggling to believe that God loves them. Well, academically, we know that “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” but deep down inside we wonder if God really likes us.

I believe that this is the root of so many of our problems.

There are many a miserable Christian woman out there who are stumbling their way through their Christian walk because they’ve forgotten how much God loves them. They’ve believed the lie that they’ve been shortchanged, and that everyone else is treated better than they are. They are constantly comparing themselves to others. They really doubt whether God likes them, and it shows up everywhere in their life. Instead of understanding her position as “adopted and accepted in the beloved,” she:

  • fears that God is somehow out to get her.
  • fears what others think of her. She can never fully accept others gifts and talents without feeling bad about herself. She lives an out-shined, left-out life in her own mind.
  • fears open relationships because who would actually love me if they really knew me, she reasons.
  • is touchy, sensitive and quickly takes offense, believing she’s not as loved or admired as so-and-so.  Every comment becomes suspect, every perceived slight is felt deeply. She never gives anyone the benefit of the doubt.
  • deals with others with “walls up.” Self-protection is always the game plan. It shows up in selfishness, irritability, indifference, peevishness, pettiness, sarcasm, put downs.
  • she can never let anything go. Resentfulness, grudge holding and feuds characterize her.
  • she clings ever so desperately to anything she believes gives her meaning or identity (children, ministry, friendships, you name it.)

These are symptoms of forgetting God’s great love for you. You always feel like an outsider. Insecure and unsure.

As Christian woman, the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross saves us from Hell, yes, and that is an amazing thing, but it’s not the only thing.

The cross of Christ shows His great love for us, AND THAT IS JUST THE BEGINNING of His love and of the innumerable blessings He has planned for us here and in heaven. We have an amazing inheritance in heaven. You’re not just saved “by the skin of your teeth” if you are a child of God. You are lavishly loved and accepted into His beloved family. A joint-heir with Jesus.

This should change you. Anyone who is lavishly loved upon can never be the same. It heals wounds, and makes you a grace-giver.

God’s two great commandments, loving God and loving others, are easier to live out when you’ve experienced His great love.

Receivers of such love overflow with the same love.

How do you know when you’ve forgotten God’s love?

You become small and self-centered in your dealings with others.

You no longer love God before all else and look out for what’s best for your neighbor.


When you realize your own great sin,

and the even greater LOVE/LIKE/DELIGHT that our God has for us

that grace moves us, propels us in thanksgiving towards Christlikeness.

Imagine what our homes and churches would be like if we truly treasured all that Christ accomplished for us on the cross and all that He has planned for us in Heaven?

And imagine if God’s love satisfied us? Truly overwhelmed us with thanksgiving on a daily basis. Wouldn’t that joy overflow and sweeten all of our relationships with our family, friends and neighbors?




Do Small Things

What would the world be like if we encouraged each other to do small things?

We’ve all heard “Do Great Things”….

But what if doing truly great things means doing exceptionally small things?


In a Christian world that encourages the “radical,” I believe we’ve underestimated the “ordinary.” And in doing so, the ordinary has become the exception to the rule.

Moms everywhere,

{yes you, who just plopped down for a five minute break to catch your breath between diapers and dishes, whining and sippy cup searching}

what if you are the one truly changing the world?

Although you’ll never get a Grammy for singing the best lullaby,

Or have your name written up in Bon Appetit for your teddy bear pancakes,



Or make the pages of National Geographic for your amazing discoveries,


what if the daily “small” that you share with your loved ones is the most important of after all. 

If you’ve been on the receiving end of these small, tender mercies, you’ll know that these small things change us and form us into “civilized” and loving people. They teach us how to love. They communicate, “You belong and are worth the effort.”

These tiny acts, almost too small to mention, shape the person and

as that wholehearted person raises their wholehearted child,

generational influence begins.

Some examples of small kindnesses that I’ve received that are indelibly etched on my mind:

  • Entering my Noni’s Italian kitchen, greeted by the warm smells of garlic and chicken, and her rushing to offer me ginger ale and cookies or grapes.
  • My grandmother, taking me out for blueberry muffins and hot chocolate with whipped cream. Her cards, with her gorgeous handwriting sprawled on the front. Her little bowls of cookies and goldfish that she’d take down when we’d stop over.
  • As a child, my own mother’s influence was the greatest. She spent time with us. She lugged us all over creation, she entertained our friends and was a mother to anyone who entered our house. She was hospitable and then some. She served tea, she served meals. No one ever went hungry in our house. She made a difference to us kids and to all of our friends.
  • Peter’s mom always has time for people. Even when we were dating, she’d sit and talk. She’d offer tea and drinks. She made me feel included instead of “under inspection” as a daughter-in-law. She makes and serves Sunday dinner every week and has for as long as I’ve ever known her. To some this may sound like drudgery or menial work, but I can tell you as someone who has experienced her Italian cooking that it means the world and communicates love because she loves us and loves to cook for us.

So, when you feel like everything you do is small and unseen,

when you’re tempted to think,

it’s just a cup of tea,

it’s just clean sheets,

it’s just a friendly chat,

it’s just a meal, or clean laundry, or a little note, or teddy bear pancakes,

remember that your small deeds communicate. They shape another person. And especially in motherhood, we’re showing love to the littlest among us, the least of these. It’s teaching by example. It’s pouring your life into anyone God put into your path.

It’s like doing it for Him. And that totally matters.

Embrace the small things. In a world that is so fractured and independent and dysfunctional,  we could use more of the small and self-less and loving.

Beautiful New England

This week our entire family is enjoying the Maine coastline.  I’m in love with the ocean and am so thankful that we live close enough for frequent visits. It’s calming, refreshing and so wholesome for the kids. Plus, we love Maine blueberry pie and fried clams. Who doesn’t. lol

And there are so many reminders of God and His powerful promises to us near the sea:

(I took these pics on a morning coffee run. The fog was so thick and gorgeous, it was hard to tell where the ocean ended and the sky started.)

IMG_8846 IMG_8885

He will again have compassion on us;
    he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19)

IMG_8857 IMG_8872

If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:9,10)



How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake and I am still with you. (Psalm 139:17,18)

Have you ever read this sweet poem to your kids?

If Once You Have Slept On An Island

By Rachel Field

If once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name,

You may bustle about in street and shop
You may sit at home and sew,
But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.

You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.

Oh! you won’t know why and you can’t say how
Such a change upon you came,
But once you have slept on an island,
You’ll never be quite the same.

Rachel Field puts it beautifully, doesn’t she?



15 Faith-Building Books For Your Beach Bag

Oh, how I love the beach. The salt air, soft sand, and rhythm of the waves. Paradise. {We’re spoiled here with Cape Cod’s beautiful beaches.}

Want to increase your faith while relaxing on the beach?

Here are some of my favorite Christian reads for your summer beach bag. Check them out of the library or download them to your Kindle.  I’m categorizing them for you into light reading (like one-a-day devotionals), instructive/encouraging, and boot camp and giving you five in each category to choose from. (I used the Amazon picture link this time to try it out so you could see the cover.) Enjoy!

faith building books


Light Reading



Boot Camp for Believers

What books would you add to this summer reading list?

8 Family Building Ideas To Do This Summer

Need a few ideas for building family memories and strengthening heartstrings? Here are a few of our favorite ways:

8 family building activities

1. Plan a media fast. You’ll be amazed how many distractions this eliminates.

2. Read a book aloud, or for parents of teens, read a chapter in sync and talk about it at night. For moms of young children, listen to free audiobooks together from booksshouldbefree.com. Your kids get smarter and you get a brain break. Need a place to start? Try Edith Nesbit’s The Railway Children. It’s a charming story!

3. Plan evening walks or talks. I love the sounds of nature and being together outside after a busy day is unwinding and refreshing. My friend, Rhonda, just told me this week that she and her husband would sit in a field each night with sweet tea and just watch the sun set. We love lighting the fire pit at night and talking under the stars.

4. Plan to memorize scripture as a family. Choose a passage of praise and “race” your kids to memorize it. Um, disclaimer: you’re gonna lose, because OLD BRAIN, but kids memorize really quickly and it’s great to get God’s Word in their minds. We’re currently memorizing Ps. 33 as a family and Hope and Holly are already to  verse 7 and me, 2. :/

5. Serve another family as a family. Whether you are delivering a meal to the sick, helping a single mom babysit, inviting friends in for dinner or having a family stay in your home for a week, do it together. Tell your kids what jobs  need to be done, and let them pick which one they’d like to be responsible to oversee.

6. Support a missionary. This can be through prayer, letters, email or money, but give to a specific family. This helps the kids think outside of themselves and praying for anything as a family is a great way to build unity.

7. Read a devotional together each night. For younger kids I recommend Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for the Family. {By the way, this devotional is great for kids who are struggling spiritually, or who have been through some kind of recent trauma/emotionally upsetting time in their lives. It answers many questions that kids feel in a gospel saturated way.}

For older girls, I would choose Made For More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image, True BeautyJoy: A Godly Woman’s Adornment (On-the-Go Devotionals) or  Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Pilgrimage Growth Guide)

8. Plan day trips. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but day trips can be like a mini-vacation. We love visiting coastal towns in New England.

What would you add to this list? What are your favorite ways to strengthen family ties?

*PS–I just want to say THANK YOU to all of you readers. I love hearing your stories and comments, and I don’t thank you enough!! You make writing this blog fun and I’d love to know how to serve you better. Let me know what topics you’d like me to write about and what your greatest needs are right now. I will try my best to address them in upcoming posts. ~Sarah

*post contains Amazon Affiliate Links at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting JFD.

Thoughts on Marriage from My 97 Year Old Grandfather.

My grandparents “celebrated” their 68th wedding anniversary this past week. I say “celebrated” because my grandmother was also put on hospice that day.

I sat with my grandfather and asked him why his marriage had survived 68 years when others all around us fall apart. (I got his answers on video, because–family history!)


He’s 97 years old, so his answers came out slowly but he was certain of his answers. He answered:

  • We never competed against each other. We worked as a team.
  • That grandma was a hard worker and helped him on the bogs. “We weeded the bogs together at night until the misquotes drove us home.” (Calling someone a “hard worker” is the highest possible compliment in his eyes.)
  • She tried to help me save money by doing the work herself.
  • I made decisions that allowed me to put family first. When I was offered a job that would take me away from Lillian and the kids, I said no. “I wanted to be at home with the family and I wanted to run the bogs the way they should be. If it wasn’t good for all of us, it wasn’t good.”
  • Neither one of us cared about being big shots. We were happy to be at home.
  • We took the kids with us when we worked on the bogs in the evening. They played on the shore while we worked. They had “everything they could want to make them happy while we worked: plenty of sand and water to keep them busy.”
  • We tried to travel a little bit together.
  • We enjoyed the same things.
  • We were simple people and that’s the way we lived, and we mostly thought about the children.

Simpler times? I’m not sure of that.  Perhaps just simpler expectations and inner contentment and consideration for others were the magic bullet?


Thoughts on Peace, Trials, and First Loves

There is an amazing peace that fills you when you love the Lord first and foremost. And conversely, there is unrest and inner turmoil when you don’t.

This week has been a strange one. We started with a wonderful Memorial Day celebration on Monday, followed by an ER trip for Matt on Tuesday, then news that my Grandmother is in her last stages of life on Wednesday, to a trip to the hand surgeon with Matt to discover he needs surgery on Thursday. These are just the “highlights”–of course this week has also been sprinkled with driving kids to summer jobs, visiting/caring for my grandmother, visiting with family, cooking, cleaning, phone calls and general life.

My grandparent's celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary yesterday. Love this pic of them.

My grandparent’s celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary yesterday. She was also put on hospice yesterday. Love this pic of them.

Not only does life come at you fast, it also gives us ups and downs at alarming rates. The funny thing is that even with ups and downs, God’s peace is absolutely amazing and unexplainable.

I was talking to a friend about this, about this eerily peaceful state that takes over in the middle of a crazy string of unexpected, life altering stuff like this.

Peace that tells you that God is here and near, that He’ll never leave you and that He’s working. The peace brings an awareness of God’s presence that is unusual and is a rare gift. “Lo, I am with you always.” I don’t need to fear.

Yet other times, when things are calm and normal, peace seems elusive. Why?

Peace has nothing to do with circumstances and everything to do with “first love.” Loving God first, knowing His character, and resting and embracing whatever He brings.

Obviously, knowing about God, knowing proper theology, adhering to a certain creed is not the same as knowing and loving God personally.

We make our own Christian lives hard, when we give a nod to Biblical teaching but don’t love Him as we should. Christianity becomes an exercise of the mind.

We find ourselves in a predictable pattern of…

stumble, trip, fall, fail, oops, did I just say that, did I just do that, how could I say that, how could I do that, guilt, discouragement, despair, try harder, read more, do more, study more, try more…

and on and on this pattern goes, because we’re trying to live a life of will without the love to propel it. Head knowledge, yes, but misplaced heart affections.

This is putting a band-aid on cancer instead of addressing the root issue which is our love. We’ve left our first love and have tried to play the part.

We lack victory because our heart and head are not in agreement. Our head says “A” but our heart tugs “B”. If our heart tugged “A” then our minds would quickly follow.

Love must come first. (Imagine this in a “loveless” marriage where the guy has read all the books and has tried all the tricks, but it’s clear by his daily life that there is no real love for his wife. He wouldn’t have to try so hard if his wife was truly the center of his affections.)

This is especially troublesome for those of us who were brought up in Christian homes. We’ve known Christianity from infancy, but knowledge of God cannot do what the love for God constrains us to do, which is obey.

For those who were raised in Christian homes, our minds know THINGS–BIBLICAL THINGS–but our hearts love other things. God won’t allow us to live in our own little tidy, spic-and-span, look-good-on-the-outside-because-we-dressed–up-for-church delusional worlds. God calls us on it. He calls our hearts for what they are: Your heart is “far from Me.” Far. Distant. Away.

Loving God with all of your heart is the primary thing. Trying to obey God without loving Him is putting the cart before the horse.


That’s why years of Christian education does not ensure a healthy, vibrant, thriving Christian walk. This is why pastors in the news can be charged with immorality and criminal behavior against children even though they know scripture inside and out. Their first love was not God and what He loved…it was some twisted, dark desire that ruled them and then ruined them. And that is why we, too, refuse to love that unlovely person, carry a grudge for years against another person, look at immorality on the screen, tell someone else off in an angry outburst, or overindulge the flesh to the point of addictions, even to the hurt and ruin of others around us, all the while donning a dress or tie on Sunday morning.

Who or What you love most rules you and determines what you’ll chase.

Our heart can be pursuing that one earthly thing, that small g-god, all the while our mental assent to a creed has not changed. Our mind affirms Biblical teaching, but our behavior betrays our heart.

When our heart’s true love is on earthly things…

for admiration, for love, for a change in health, for a new job, for a better set of in-laws, for a more understanding church, for an obedient child, for a positive pregnancy test, for a husband, for a new home or couch or car or whatever…

the desire controls us and we cannot love God as we should.

We need to pry our hearts off of temporal things and clasp on to loving God again as we should. First. Most. Only. Life is supposed to work that way. We are made for this.

Life is peace-filled and joy-filled when He truly is first in our affections. Our circumstances may not have changed, but He changes us! And suddenly, it is well with my soul.