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8:33AM

Friday, August 5, 2011

“If you love me, keep my commands.”

-- John 14:15

The cutest thing happened a few days ago. You see, I sent out my summer newsletter this week, which is ALWAYS a major pain for my artist husband who designs it because he says I am worse than any client he has, which given my SUPER anal personality, is no great surprise, right? In fact, I did a Seeker blog talking about this once appropriately entitled “Stupid In Love” (http://seekerville.blogspot.com/2011/02/stupid-in-love-bookcritique-giveaway.html) because when I asked my husband why he puts up with my high-maintenance personality, this was his response: “I don’t know,” he says, giving me a quick kiss on the lips. “I guess I’m just stupid in love.” To quote just a paragraph from that Seeker blog I wrote, here’s a glimpse at what the newsletter process looks like in our household:

“Wow, babe, it’s absolutely perfect!” I say, excitement bubbling in my voice. “Uh, except for a few tiny things … Would you mind tilting those pictures a little bit more? Oh, and the excerpt from A Heart Revealed needs to be indented, and yeah, all book titles italicized. Not sure I’m crazy about that font—can we change it? And those dingbats gotta go—maybe little squiggles instead? Ooops … forgot some pictures of my reader friends, and for the love of Photoshop—my double chin in that picture just has to go!”

YIKES … talk about dingbats!! And that was only the first go-round. However, you will be happy to know that my husband is currently in therapy.

Like Marcy and Patrick O’Connor, whose marriage I modeled after my husband’s and mine (only I am WAY more high-maintenance than Marcy!), God has blessed Keith and me with a really wonderful marriage. Of course, let me emphasize here that it did NOT get there overnight, but entailed YEARS of prayer and obedience to God to make it the incredible blessing it is today. Anyway, after Keith finished my newsletter, I was so grateful that I threw my arms around him and kissed him and what happened next was nothing short of magical. All at once, I heard this incredibly beautiful music. Not bells ringing, exactly, but the most serene and lovely harp music I’d ever heard. Now I know Keith and I have one of the best marriages I’ve ever seen, but this was the very first time I ever heard music when I kissed him, and I just figured we had crossed some beautiful threshold of true romance where even our kisses were heavenly. “Oh my goodness,” I cry, pulling back to stare at him wide-eyed, “did you hear that? What a kiss!” He laughed and reached for his phone, turning off the timer for the sprinkler outside, for which his chosen ring tone was harp music. “Gosh, babe,” I say, feeling just a wee bit disappointed, “and here I thought we were making beautiful music together!”

But the truth is when you really love someone, you give of yourself for them and it IS beautiful music! I can’t speak for anybody else, but I know why it’s that way for me. Keith sacrifices and gives of himself to me over and over because he loves me. I sacrifice and give myself to him over and over because I love him. For instance, even though I am the type of person who is habitually five to ten minutes late, I make being on time for Keith a top priority because I know how important it is to him. So I try REALLY hard to sacrifice my bad habit to make him happy because it’s one of the many ways I can show him I love him.

When I was in my twenties and a brand-new Christian, I was so gaga over God that I would literally tear up whenever I thought of Him and His goodness to me. Yes, I’m a pretty emotional gal, but anyone who has given their heart to Christ feels that incredible rush of love and gratitude for God at some point in their life when they realize just how much He loves them. So it was a TOTAL shock to me when I got into my mid-forties and menopause reared it’s ugly head. Suddenly, despite emotions running amuck, I no longer had this wellspring of deep loving feelings for God.

“God! How can this be?” I remember asking Him with no little frustration. “I’m in the time of my life when my emotions are at their highest peak, wreaking havoc and spilling over at the drop of the hat, and yet I feel nothing for You!” I was heartsick because if ever there was a time that I needed to "feel" God’s strength, His support, it was during menopause. So I cried and I begged and I pleaded for Him to give me feelings of love for Him like I once had before because I didn’t feel like I loved Him anymore. And you know what? The God Who is the Lover of our Souls taught me one of the most important lessons I have ever learned as a Christian. It’s the sum and total of our Scripture above: “If you love me, keep my commands.”

“Julie,” He said to me, as clearly as if it were an audible voice. “Do you obey me?” “Yes, God,” I remember saying with tears in my eyes, “I really do try to obey You, You know that.” “Then you love Me,” He said to my spirit.

I gotta tell you right now that if ever fireworks went off in my brain and neon signs were flashing and tears filling my eyes at the revelation of my soul, THIS was the moment! Because what I saw in my brain was the simple equation for love as far as God is concerned. He does not measure our love for Him by our feelings nor our tears nor our elogquent words or prayers. Pure and simple, there is only one way true way to show God we love Him, and this is the equation that flashed in my brain that fateful day.

LOVE = OBEDIENCE.

OBEDIENCE = BLESSINGS

As a super emotional woman, this concept from the throne of God changed my life that day. No, I don’t have to “feel” love for God to show Him I love Him. I simply have to OBEY him, and to His heart, that translates into love. Which in turn, releases His love to us in endless blessings.

Case in point. One time I remember stubbing my bare toe on the steel leg of the bed, and since I have incredibly sensitive feet, it hurt like the devil. With a cry of pain, I grabbed my toe and fell down, curse words rising to my tongue, ready to spew. It was during a time of my life when I was radically obedient to God or tried to be, so instead of curse words, I forced other words out of my mouth, screaming, “Praise God, praise God, praise God …” over and over as loud as I could and before I was through, I was laughing on the bed with tears in my eyes. Why? Because obedience to God releases blessings in our lives. It helps us to be so “stupid in love” with our Savior that everything we face, even something as stupid as stubbing a toe, can become an expression of love to Him by our obedience. And the domino effect is then an outpouring of joy and blessing from the God who said in John 10:10:

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

And so, I wish you and yours life “to the full” and may you be “stupid in love” with the God Who is even more so over each and every one of us.

Before I sign off, I want to congratulate the following winners of my RSS feed signup contest and the MaryLu Tyndall free download contest. Please note that I am well aware that the RSS feed is not working but am hoping to get it fixed soon and will have another signup contest next month. So for now, congrats to the following winners. I will be in touch!

WINNERS OF RSS FEED (wins choice of top CBA book):

Joy Tamsin David

Angi Griffis

Danyelle Hunnicutt

Victoria Keen

Michelle Tuller

WINNER OF MARYLU TYNDALL DOWNLOAD (wins signed copy of MaryLu’s 3rd book in the series):

Megan

Hugs,

Julie

P.S. I’m giving away a signed copy of A Heart Revealed (with sneak-peek excerpts!) on my Seeker blog this Wednesday, August 10th, which is entitled “EDIT” Doesn’t Have To Be a Four-Letter Word!" Hope to see you there — here’s the link:

Then please check my website calendar at http://www.julielessman.com/julies-calendar/ because I have a number of blog giveaways coming up. In the past I have given away at least 50 signed books in blog giveaways before the release of my next one, but due to time constraints, I will only be doing ten blog interview/giveaways this year, so don’t miss out, okay?

Hugs and happy weekend!

Julie

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