Responding to love

On July 9, 2012 JR took me out on our first date.

On August 12, 2012 we were sitting on the dock at Town Lake when he said the words “I love you.”

I was in shock.  I managed to ruin the romantic moment by pestering him with questions for the next thirty minutes.  What do you mean you love me?  Have you thought about this before or did those words just come out?  What does that mean to you?  Don’t you think this is fast?

I ended the question pestering with this, “Now that we’ve spent thirty minutes defining what you meant, would you mind saying it one more time?”  He repeated “I love you, Ali.”

My response, “Thank you.”  JR drove back to Dallas the next day thinking he had totally freaked me out and I would probably break up with him.

The next day I met with my friend Jennie and shared with her the events of the previous night.  She basically scolded me for my response.  She knew that I was over analyzing everything and that I was afraid to let myself feel love for a man.  In her car I realized that I did love JR, but I had just been too chicken to do anything about it.

It was two weeks later when I saw him again that I was able to say the words to him, “I love you, JR.”

He fell in love first.  He stated his feelings first.  Because he loved me, I felt free enough to open myself and love him too.

Contact Work Together

As we dated and were engaged, JR made at least 30 trips in a 10 month period to see me. He chased me down in Houston, Los Angeles, and all over the state of Florida.  There was no doubt in my mind this man loved me.  The more evident it was that he loved me, the easier it became for me to respond in the same way.  Loving JR became a natural response to the way I had been loved.

First Anniversary Dinner

I view a lot of my relationship with God in the same way.  I’m not following a set of rules.  I’m not being bossed around.  I’m responding in a natural way to the way I have been loved.

Paul seems to think this way about God.  When he’s writing to the Ephesians he prays,

“that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”
Ephesians 3:18

“that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe”
Ephesians 1:18-19

Why does he want us to know these things?  Because when we know how deeply we are loved by Christ, it becomes the natural response of our heart to love him back.  When we know there is hope in Him, that we have an inheritance in heaven, and that in Him we have great power, it becomes easier to trust Him with our whole lives.

I’m praying today that you will KNOW the depth of God’s love for you.  As you know that love, may your natural response be to love him with your whole heart.


community brew link up
OurJoyHisGloryA Harvest of Blessing

Building the marriage foundation

On May 26th, JR and I will be celebrating one year of marriage.  I’ve been thinking a lot about our life this past year.  While we were engaged, JR and I spent time talking about what we wanted our lives and family to be about.

Engagement Photo

We wanted to focus in on some guiding principles so that we wouldn’t loose sight about what was most important.  One of the things we quickly talked about was the idea of having an open home.

We knew with him serving on Young Life staff that dozens of high school students would truck through our house on a weekly basis.  I accepted the fact that our floors would constantly be dirty and now was probably not the time to buy nice white furniture (I don’t think it’s ever the time to buy a white couch actually).  We talked about the idea of having people live with us one day – ya know, one day when we had a back house, or a garage apartment, or something like that.  One day when we could afford to be generous.  One day when they could live with us, but not in our personal space.  One day when we had money to provide for them and we were no longer newlyweds.

But God had a different plan, so we went with it.  When you tell God you’re willing to meet the needs of others and God brings a need to your door, I don’t think you can say no to that.  A few times older couples told us that we needed to protect our marriage and that we shouldn’t have Donte with us, but they never offered to take him off our hands.  We were not about to send that boy back where he came from.  Instead, we trusted God.  We trusted that He was with us, that He was for us and that He had great plans for all of us.

At this time in our lives, I am not setting out to constantly have someone else live with us.  I’m all for being a newlywed and enjoying being together after dating/being engaged long distance.  But, those three months were GREAT for our marriage.  We served together, day in and day out.  We worked on a big project together, finding a home and resources for a boy in need.  We became dependent on God together, for strength and provision.  We saw God work a miracle and we were blessed to be a part of it.

Hold your life loosely.  So many people say that your first year of marriage you should be totally selfish and not be involved in anything – it’s the year to build the foundation, they say.  But what if you take risks for Jesus and your foundation is built on service, trust, and prayer.  What if you offered God everything you had together?  For us, this was the best foundation.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” Matthew 7:24-27

Young Life Expeditions Uganda

Leading a team together in Uganda 2 months into marriage