I Don’t Love Her – Matthew 22:34-40

One of life’s sweetest blessings is when my grandchildren holler “GRAN – MAAAAA!” and come running to greet me. They haven’t knocked me down yet, but their exuberance is certainly felt. One Sunday after church, however, I wasn’t too happy about my grandson’s behavior.

brothers loving. lonnieBradley .freeImages

He’d been playing near the bleachers at the back of the gym, and I caught him making a mean, ugly face to a little girl. Appalled, I drew him aside. “Jackson, why did you do that?”

With his innocent dark eyes peering deep into mine he simply explained, “I do not love her.”

While I appreciated his openness, in my mind I pulled out my grandma to-do list and added, Teach grandchildren what Jesus said about love.

What Jesus said

My grandchildren’s greetings prove they know I love them and find me easy to love back. But what if loving isn’t always so easy?

Jesus said,“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:34-40 NIV).

The fact that we were commanded to love God inherently shows that it doesn’t come naturally, we get to choose to love him. Thirty-nine years ago my husband pursued a relationship with me, and I chose to respond. Love grew from our choices.

Doing love

I used to think it sounded arrogant for God to say, “You must love me,” and yet, because he is the Creator and Love itself, it’s perfectly reasonable. Without love, we’re nothing (see 1 John 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 13).

My grandson has gained more experience in practicing love—not only as a brother to his siblings, but now as an older foster brother to a rambunctious little guy. Like all of us, he’s learning that love involves challenges, and that’s OK. Without having to work at it, our love would only be an expression of feelings that come and go like the wind.

We need to remember demonstrating love doesn’t always bring immediate happiness, but its rewards are worth the investment. And ultimately, loving others helps us understand God’s enduring love for us. We can all be a little challenging sometimes, don’t you think?

Don’t ask my husband.

by Kathy Davis

The Day I Became Different – 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

Arriving home from school and smelling like kid sweat and playground dust, I rushed to lay my papers on the table before the screen slammed shut, but failed. I slumped with disappointment that I didn’t win, but knew I’d try again tomorrow.

child-serious .ibrahim62 free. pixabayI hugged Mom, and she sized me up. I was sure she could tell I’d dilly-dallied on my way home, so before she could say anything, I blurted out, “I was at Mrs. Best’s house.”

I don’t recall who first introduced me to Mrs. Best more than 50 years ago. I do remember the poster board materials she used, some for telling Bible stories and others to help us get through the songs. The treats, and the goodie box full of prizes for us to choose from when we recited the scripture verse. Oh, fun! No wonder so many kids filled her living room.

I looked like I did every day after school, with my sagging pony tail and the mussed line of bangs above my eyebrows. My dress felt tight, twisted around my torso from twirling over the bar at recess, but Mom seemed to notice something else was different about her little girl.

Since I understood sometimes I chose to do wrong and couldn’t change my heart on my own, I found myself reaching out to God at Mrs. Best’s. I told Mom I’d prayed to ask Jesus into my heart.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18a ESV).

In my innocence I didn’t know how to relate the experience to her, other than that  “I felt Jesus all over me.” I wonder how many others want to thank Mrs. Best for her efforts.

I’d sure like to.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Teaching Children the Value of Work – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

How could I teach my foster children the value of hard work? This was one of my priorities, since three of them had obstacles to overcome in their understanding of their families’ problems with chronic unemployment.

” . . .  make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV).

girl shoveling snow

Diving into the pile

I found the answer when I dumped our laundry baskets out on the floor, making a mountain of work for them to conquer.

The four of us sat around the pile as I demonstrated how to take bites out of it, separating everything into smaller, more manageable piles. It quickly became a game as socks got tossed across the room and they raced to see who would finish first.

Two minutes later a shriek of alarm, and subsequent protests and shrieks, made everything came to a halt. So much for making it our “ambition to lead a quiet life.”

Dishrags stopped flying and girls stood up, waving their hands. Horror of horrors, there was a pair of foster dad’s underwear lying on the carpet.

What salad tongs and underwear have in common

The youngest folded her arms across her chest. “I’m not touching Jerry’s underwear.”

The oldest asked if they could please go and do something else.

The middle said, “Oh, I know, Kathy!” and pulled open the utensil drawer. She held the tongs high in the air, scissoring them to demonstrate her great idea.

Satisfied they didn’t have to come in contact with undesirable undergarments, they finished the task with flourish and giggles. And I gloated a little bit, thinking they had done some problem solving on their own but had assimilated such knowledge through my great teaching skills.

I have an extra pair of tongs if you need them to get your work done today.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis