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Loving with Intent

I decided this summer that as a family, we are going to discover and learn more about the fruit of the Spirit this year. Often when we pray, we say things like “Thank you Jesus for living in my heart and making yourself known to me. Thank you for your presence in our lives.” And often times our boys would say, “Mom, how does Jesus live in our hearts?” or “Dad, we don’t see Jesus in our home.” So, it made me stop and think how can I teach my boys what it means to see and feel the Holy Spirit living in us and through us in our every day lives. This is quite an abstract thought for little ones, but I think even us adults have a hard time grasping hold of this idea of our Heavenly Father living presently through the Holy Spirit in us.

I did some looking around online and came across a wonderful family devotion on the fruit of the Spirit. I found it on Gather & Grow (http://www.gatherandgrow.co/), a website full of great resources and advice on implementing faith at home. The founder of the website Jess Wolstenholm, breaks it down into a 9-week study- one week for each fruit of the Spirit. There are just so many things I loved about the devotion. It has a very clear and simple structure to follow. It required little planning or extras. Each devotion can be done within 15 minutes, which is perfect for my three young boys. The questions really opened up some great discussion, which I often find hard to do. And lastly, we are digging into our Bibles and seeing how the fruit of the Spirit is seen in God, ourselves, others and the world around us.

Week one focused on the first fruit of the Spirit- love. This is a key one being that this is who God is. God is love (I John 4:7-10). Knowing this truth is integral to understanding the Good News of Jesus. But how does this play out in our day-to-day lives? The first question posed was this: “What does it mean to reflect God’s love?” This one took me a bit to reflect on because I’ve always heard we should reflect who God is, but what does that actually mean? Well, we went to the bathroom mirror and looked into it to understand what the word reflect means. I was able to explain to the boys that to reflect means to see their image. So, I explained that when my boys look at me, they should see Jesus through my actions, words and deeds. This would be me reflecting Jesus in my life. It was such a simple activity that held so much meaning and understanding.

As you continue on in the devotion, there is a section called Taking Action. I must say, I really loved this real-life application. I feel like it’s so important to take what we learn and discuss and put it into action into our daily lives, otherwise, we never grow or mature in our faith. It’s one thing to read and know the Word of God, but to never do anything beyond that is so very foolish of us. In the book of James, he writes, “So, too, faith by itself, if it is no complemented by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by my deeds” (James 2:17-18). This verse has always stuck with me and since implementing it into my life, I have seen the blessing of living out my faith. I want to reflect this to my children, too.

The Taking Action instructed us to come up with suggestions and a plan to help one another to show God’s love each day that week. So, my boys and I sat down and each discussed different ways we could do this in our own household. I had decided that I would go around a whisper, “I love you,” into each boys ear everyday. It sounded simple enough, right?

Well, I am pretty sure I remembered to whisper it into my oldest son’s ear and somehow lost track of my day and neglected to show God’s love in this way. A few days passed and I remembered that I had forgotten to do this simple act. It’s not that I didn’t want to do it and it wasn’t that I didn’t feel this way towards my children, I just simply did not intentionally take time to verbalize the love I have for them. I think sometimes, we assume that just because we are all getting along and doing life well that things are good. It’s easy to say, “Oh, my kids know that I love them.” And, yes, I’m sure they do know that we love them, but how much more meaningful and special is it to have someone stop you in the middle of your day, look you in the eye and take the time to meaningfully say to you, “I love you,” with no strings attached. I love you not because you did something great or helpful. I love you simply because you are you. You are a child of God.

i love youPhoto credit: Pixabay.com

It was such a simple activity yet it played so powerfully over my heart. I was moved and convicted in such a powerful way. It made me realize that I need to love with intent. I know that I am called to love, but I need to show love. I need to declare God’s love over those around me. I hope my actions will be a glimpse of God’s love. I pray my children will see God’s love reflected through me daily and model this in their own lives. I pray that you find encouragement through this and are moved to display God’s love in your own life.

Many Blessings!

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