Favor – Stone Series

Who doesn’t want to be the favorite? We all have the desire to be special to someone, to know we are at the top of the list. Those who have lived a life feeling less than special can relate to this.

During a particular season, the idea of being favored was monumental to me. I’m not sure where that need came from on my end. I just know that God took every opportunity to show me that I was His favorite. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that God loves me any more than you. I’m just saying He went to great lengths so that I would know that I was favored.

So you don’t think I’ve lost my mind, I’ll tell you where the concept came from. An element of God’s grace is favor. His favor is undue, but still, He offers it. At the time I was going through some difficulties and needed to know that someone was on my side. I needed to see proof of God’s love for me. I can’t tell you the innumerable ways He showed up. I wish I had those journal entries from back then so that I could share more of the specifics. One story I can remember is this:

I was in the vice-principal’s office with my son Adam – again. Ugh and eye roll. The guy said to Adam. “I’m going to give you another chance – not because of you but because of your mom. She’s fighting hard for you and stays involved…” He went on to say some kind things. If Adam had been suspended from school, I would have had to take him and pick him up at an alternative school every day. The drive would have been at least two hours out of my day for the remainder of the school year. We dodged that bullet with the second chance.

When I left the school, and after yelling at Adam all the home (I’m sure), God showed me that it was His favor over me that stayed the VP’s hand. It was just another in a long line of ways He was showing me His favor. I believe He is always making an effort for us to know we are His favored children. What was different was that I was watching and taking note when I saw those moments. The craziest things would happen, and I would look at my husband or kids and say, “See, I’m God’s favorite.” A friend even bought me a pillow that says, “Jesus may love you, but I’m His favorite.” It still sits on a stool in my kitchen.

I’ll say it again; I’m not sure why I needed to know that at the time. I wish I could remember more clearly what was happening in my spiritual journey. I suppose it doesn’t matter why I needed it. What matters is that God knew it was what I needed, and He poured it out in jaw-dropping ways.

The way I look at it is similar to what we feel for our children or nieces and nephews. We favor each of them differently. Because they are all different, we can appreciate their unique qualities and favor each child equally. I feel that way about my two boys. Adam is my oldest. He was my first everything as a mom. Bless his heart; it’s a wonder he survived me. It was just the two of us for his first four years. Nothing can break the bond we have or diminish what I feel for him.

I remember being pregnant with Zack and fearing I couldn’t possibly love him as much as Adam. Then Zack came, and my heart expanded to allow for more love. Zack is my baby. That’s a different relationship. With Zack, I made sure I didn’t wish it all away. With Adam, I couldn’t wait for his first steps and words and various life experiences. My time with Zack was peaceful, and I was able to enjoy every moment more.

See what I mean? They are both my favorites. If you ask either of them who my real favorite is, they would both say Zoe – my puppy-girl. And they would be right. 😉

This memory just came to mind. I used to sneak and tell both of my boys that they were my favorite. I did the same with my nephews. I remember the looks on their faces when they heard that. It meant something to be the favored one.

An even sweeter memory was at a 5th/6th-grade retreat that I attended as a helper. There was a kid that I didn’t know well. He didn’t attend our church regularly. For some reason I whispered to him that he was my favorite. From that moment on, that boy migrated toward me every time he saw me. He needed to be someone’s favorite. For the remainder of the camp, I didn’t call him by name, I just called him Favorite. I wonder if he remembers that all these years later?

In this blog I have used a whole lot of words to make this point: Watch for God’s favor in and on your life. Watch for the little and big things. Take mental note and heart note of them. Those moments serve to expand your belief that you are special to Him and favored by Him. Since you live in a world that goes to great lengths to make you doubt God’s love, you need His reassurance, and He’s right there willing to reassure.

Point 2: Tell someone they are favored. Show someone they are favored. We have something baked into our DNA that longs to be the favorite.

I love you in the Lord,

Beloved – Stones Series

I want to begin this post by saying this is my favorite stone, but then I tend to think they are all my favorite in one way or another. This one is set apart as special because it was the beginning of what is now my love relationship with Jesus. He calls me Beloved.

It started with the novel, Redeeming Love. The book had been recommended to me by several friends, but at the time, I wasn’t reading fiction. I had a trip scheduled to Dallas and needed something for the flight, so this book came to mind and that so many people had highly recommended it.

Note: I’m sitting here shaking my head, still marveling
over its impact on my life.

Funny thing, I can hardly remember the story. That wasn’t what had such great impact. I do remember the beginning was a tough read, so I skimmed some early parts. Anything bad that happens to a kid – that’s a no for me. It wasn’t the Western days version of the Book of Hosea that got to me either, even though that’s one of my favorite books of the Bible.

It was one simple word: Beloved. That is what the guy called the girl in the novel. I’m not sure if it was often that he did, I just know he did at least once.

After my return from Dallas, I finished the book at home. It was nighttime, and I was sitting with my guys while they watched TV. I finished the book and closed it, and all I could hear echoing in my heart was the word, Beloved. Over and over it rang. I looked around the room almost expecting to find some external source for what I was hearing.

That was only the beginning. Over the next days, weeks, and even months, the word Beloved followed me everywhere. For one I was still hearing it echo in my heart almost nonstop. Sermons, devotions, and my Bible reading were all filled with the topic and word.

I can’t remember this many years later when I had my moment of clarity, when I actually understood that Jesus was calling me His loved one. When it did register with me, it rocked my world. That’s not a pun for the Stories Series. My world was literally rocked and transformed by Love.

Transparency alert: Like most women, I had lived my entire life in pursuit of love. Most often, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. (Hey, I should write a song…) Women are notoriously hungry for love. Nice girls get their love cup semi-filled with parents, husbands, their kids, and friendship. But broken girls like me chase after love in massively self-destructive ways and live lives they look back on with deep regret. I have much to regret.

Anyhoo, enough of that.

Let’s go back to a compound word I used above: semi-filled. No matter where you’re trying to get your love cup filled, if it’s not Jesus you’re in pursuit of, then your cup is never full – never – ever. I’ve looked under every rock, from sources like my husband, kids, etc. No one or thing can fill me. As a matter of fact, the more I pursue anything or anyone but Jesus, the more empty I become.

Conversely, the more I pursue the love Jesus offers, the more I am filled to overflowing. That love becomes something I can pour out in a healthy way to fill others rather than hoping they can fill me.

Here’s the point: I needed love. Every second of every day of my tumultuous life, I had needed love. All of the sudden, Jesus was calling me Beloved. He didn’t just tell me once that I was loved. He kept telling me. Not only did He tell me, He kept showing me in the craziest ways. Those are some of the Stones I will be sharing in the upcoming series.

I look back now on the Christian I was trying to be pre-Beloved. I looked pretty pulled together on the outside, but I was more of a faker than anything. The love of Jesus transformed me and the way I saw myself. It began to allow me to trust Him. How can you not trust Someone who loves you even when you’re at your most unloveable?

I could make this a novel, this topic of love. I can’t in this setting. But I will challenge you, if you don’t feel saturated and steeped in His love, then you’re missing the main thing. You have a relationship to work on. Work and serve at your church all you want, but until you get the love thing right, you will only spin your wheels and pursue love in unhealthy ways. You need to know and feel and believe You. Are. Loved!

If you come to visit, what will you see all over my house?

I have it on pillows, over my bed, in my office as you see above. This is my jam, this love thing. Because the enemy constantly tries to undermine my belief in that love, I protect myself with a barrage of reminders.

So, there you have it, my favorite stone – Beloved.

I love you in the Lord,