Eternity in Our Hearts

Bringing what endures into everyday life


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The Best Song You Can Sing

I’ve thought and written a lot recently about my “one-word” – receive – as I’m learning (again and again) to rest in my Father’s unconditional love.  His grace invites us to come to Him in a posture of receiving, not achieving. Nothing we do can add to or take away from His love.

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And as I study what the Bible says about receiving from God, I notice a pattern like this:

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love (Ephesians 5:2).

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God (1 John 4:7).

This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away (2 Corinthians 9:10, The Message).

Do you see the pattern? As we receive love, we’re not meant to keep it for ourselves. Love comes to us that we can release it back into love for God and love for a needful world. So I’m thinking that perhaps my “one-word” has turned into 2 words: Receive and Release are a package deal.

Friends, as beloved children of God, we are the receivers. And we grow more fully in God’s image when we are also the releasers. When we give bountifully out of our resources and our hearts, we reflect the generous character of Him who gave His Son. As Romans 5 says, God pours His love into our hearts, not only to satisfy us but to spill from us. Think of how different our world might be if our homes and communities were soaked with the overflow of God’s love.

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On her beautiful site, Abiding Love, Abounding Grace, Karrilee expresses what releasing looks like:

I feel Him all around and I breathe Him in!
The temptation is to hold my breath…
to keep Him in…
To fill my lungs and try to push Him down…
To swallow Gulps of God.
 But Always, He was meant to be let out!

Last year I wrote a series on speaking life, being deeply inspired by these words:

Each of us is the beloved of God. Helping others claim and realize their belovedness is a privilege and sacred responsibility. This means we learn to be “for” our friends and family and not against them. Being for people means that we believe they are God’s beloved. (Stephen W. Smith)

To me, this being “for people,” this speaking for the belovedness of every person, especially those who cannot speak for themselves, is my sacred responsibility to release love.

This coming Sunday – January 18 – is Sanctity of Human life Sunday, and being “pro-life” is much more than taking sides and resigning this perspective to a political platform. It’s a worldview that embraces each person that God has created, from “womb to tomb” as our pastor says. It’s “a way of looking at life that transcends culture, class, race, age, and opinion, knowing that we are all uniquely created in the image of God” (The Dignity of Human Life video).

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Friend, you are created in God’s image. You are fashioned uniquely by Him for a purpose. He longs for you to receive His love and then to release it into your world. When you and I understand ourselves as the Beloved and the Image-Bearers, there is no limit to the difference we can make through our receiving and releasing.

As I wrote about speaking life, I learned many things, especially that it is not a solo effort. Rather it is a symphony of voices, each uniquely gifted, rising in reverence for Imago Dei in every person.

Fellow Image-Bearer, God created you with something to offer, and you – with your encouraging word, smile, prayer, open door, or gesture of forgiveness – add to a chorus that can change a world one life at a time.  YOU have something to say, someone to bless, and your receiving and releasing gives glory to God, like breathing in God’s grace and breathing out His praiseIt’s the best song you can sing.

As Sarah Bessey beautifully says, “If there is one soul in your care, one face in your loving gaze, one hand in yours, then you are loving the world … And so the work today, the love we give and receive and lavish on the seemingly small tasks and choices of our days can tip the scales of justice and mercy in our world.”

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May the following words inspire us to present our unique offerings, embrace the ordained ordinary, see weaknesses not as obstacles but as opportunities, and surrender the outcomes as our opened bag of loaves and fishes:

Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those who sang best. Henry Van Dyke

“If your personal genome sequence were written out longhand, it would be a three-billion-word book. The King James Version has 783,137 words, so your genetic code is the equivalent of approximately four thousand Bibles … My point? You aren’t just surrounded by miracles.  You are one.” Mark Batterson, The Grave Robber

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“There are many false ways of achieving uniqueness. These all result from attempts to create a self rather than receive the gift of myself in Christ. . . Identity is never simply a creation. It is always a discovery.” {Thank you, Emily Freeman, for sharing these words from David G. Benner. I’m eager to read his book, The Gift of Being Yourself}

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Christ has no body on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out;
yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good;
and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.
~ Saint Teresa of Avila

Releasing God’s love and our art in a way that reflects His glory is our highest purpose and greatest joy.

Join me in the song?

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Thank you, Lisa of {www.lisanotes.com} for introducing me to some truly inspiring thoughts from Sarah Bessey. Lisa’s post on Women in the Kingdom is filled with encouraging words about receiving and releasing for the sake of the Kingdom.

Linking with Beloved Brews Thursday @ Faith Barista. Fellow writers in Bonnie’s community are sharing their “one-words” for 2015. Bonnie’s offering a giveaway too, worth $100!

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Linking with Lyli and her friends who offer challenging, encouraging, and inspiring words @ Thought-Provoking Thursday.

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Linking today with Kelly and her encouraging community at Purposeful Faith and the #RaRaLinkUp. Find inspiration by clicking {here}.

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Does your heart need a pick-me-up? Join us over at Holley’s Coffee for Your Heart by clicking {here}. Holley is offering a giveaway today too 🙂

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31 Days of Speaking Life

31 Days of Speaking Life is a new site that I’ve created for the 31 Day Writing Challenge. I hope you’ll join me and many Christ-following bloggers as we offer inspiration every day in October. Each week I’ll post here @ Eternity in Our Hearts a weekly highlight-reel from 31 Days of Speaking Life  and other “31-Dayers.”

It’s been about a year, I think, since I sat with my church community and watched a series of videos about the greatest challenges facing our city. After that event, appropriately titled “Get Off Our Donkey” (think about the Good Samaritan), I came home and wrote what’s become my most personally meaningful & challenging post, What Does It Mean to Speak Life?

Ever since then, speaking life is the passion that gets me up in the morning; it’s become the reason I write; it’s changing every relationship and endeavor in my life.

Funny thing is that not many people would identify me, the classic introvert, as a “speaker.” And yet I do speak. Every day I communicate what I value the most through the choices I make with my money, time, and words. Once those things are spent, they can’t be reclaimed.

And so I want to speak well.

I think you do too.

“Speaking life” is a phrase that’s becoming cliché in Christian circles, and yet for me it sums up what it means to affirm the value of every person in every stage of life in every place on the planet.

As someone who loves words, I could take on The Nester’s 31 day challenge by composing a few anecdotes or comments about the power of spoken encouragement. And I will for I believe that verbalized words of affirmation are life giving. But I’ve learned that “speaking life” is not dependent on expressions from our lips.

“Speaking life” is intentionally honoring – through time, money, actions, or words – the image of God in another human life.

Speaking life looks like:

  • providing a respectable job for the former sex slave
  • advocating for clean water in a thirsty country
  • welcoming the orphan
  • preparing stacks of pb & j for the homeless
  • befriending the widow
  • comforting the grieving
  • teaching English to a refugee
  • taking a meal to a family in time of need
  • offering grace to the shamed
  • sitting on your neighbor’s front porch for a spell
  • showing patience to your child
  • washing, drying, sorting the laundry multiple times a week (yes, really. This especially.)

When it comes to 31 Days of Speaking Life, my goal is to DO it, not just blog about it. To inspire us, I’m linking with people, ministries, and organizations who are speaking life in various, sometimes unexpected, ways and places.

As you may know, October will be an extra-busy and emotional time while our family packs up my parents’ home of 38 years. I can’t promise to post for 31 consecutive days, and the posts will be short snippets of inspiration, challenge, or blessing. These are days when I must remind myself that the sacred is often revealed in small ways.

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Eventually there will be 31 posts, even if we journey into November, maybe December?? And after that, I pray that the speaking life continues, one grace-filled moment at a time.

What I’m thinking about speaking life is that it’s not necessarily something extra to do. Rather, it’s seeing our choices and endeavors with new eyes.

To my dear friends who are reading, I want to say that I see you speaking life as you care for little ones, teach your small group, come alongside the hurting, nurture students, and go to the other side of town or the world.

The purpose of speaking life is to be a voice for the value of lives from the womb to the tomb, as my pastor likes to say. As you do this I want to say “way to go” and keep it up for the sake of the Kingdom!

Here are some topics I’ll include in the 31 Day Challenge –

*Biblical truths and promises about identity in Christ

*The difference between encouragement and flattery

*The significance of the blessing

*Creative ways to give hand-written words of life

*Speaking life to the: lonely, grieving, preteen, doubter, young mother, spouse, orphan, child in the womb, caregiver, artist, elderly

*Local and international ministries such as Fashion & Compassion; clean water providers; a clothes closet; Joni and Friends; The Harvest Center; Lois’ Lodge; Compassion International; and Women of Vision

*What I read and listen to when my soul needs refreshing (how worship speaks life to the soul)

*What Christians can do about the human trafficking crisis

*How and why to advocate for the Every Girl Counts Act and the Water for the World Act

*Reaching, respecting, and responding to the LGBTQ community

*Speaking life by not speaking (the gift of listening)

*How to speak life in the Halloween season

*A few comforting recipes – feeding the body can nourish the spirit 🙂

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I’d love to see 31 Days of Speaking Life become a community where we share ways to make this happen in the daily rhythms of our lives. If you have other ideas, topics, and inspiration to share, I’d love to hear from you.

If you want to follow me at 31 Days of Speaking Life, there is a “follow” button on that site. But you can also find weekly (not daily) summaries of speaking life moments here @ Eternity in Our Hearts.

Please join me for the challenge and speak life!

Gratefully,

Renee

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