Unconditional


How many times have you ever received a promotional mailer, email, or just heard a salesman offer you something that sounded too good to be true only to find out there were so many conditions attached that it might as well have been impossible?  I know I have; at least a thousand times.  The bait and switch method of marketing is all around us trying to lure us into something that will benefit others more than ourselves.

It seems that our culture has evolved into a culture of give to get.  In order to get what we want, we need to fulfill someone else’s set of rules, processes, and requirements to receive what we’re looking for. It starts in our grade schools.  If you want to be accepted, you need to be pretty, funny, athletic, or rich.  If you fail to meet the criteria of being ‘popular’, then you’re tossed aside and expected to stay out of the way.

The same is true with adults in ways that aren’t so obvious.  Work, friends, family, and even church have expectations on us that, if we fail to meet, we’re either ostracized or looked down upon.  It’s as though acceptance and love have strings. 

Conversely, have you ever met someone who just loved you for who you are?  It didn’t matter what you said, how you acted, or what you did, they just kept on loving you no matter what.  Many of us probably think of a parent or that one friend in our life who stands out above all the rest.  Others of us may have never known such acceptance.  Their life may have been full of rejection, failed expectations, and cruelty from those who only wanted to take from them.

Life can be cruel.  There is no doubt about that.  Adding to the harshness of this world we live in is the reality that we are all flawed.  None of us are perfect (though some would never admit that).  At the heart of us all is the inherent need for love and acceptance no matter what we do; the longing for unconditional love.

I’ve been fortunate to have had numerous people in my life who have loved me not matter what I do.  Several good friends, my mother, and wife being among them.  Sure, I may have (and still do) driven them crazy from time-to-time, but at the end of the day I could rest assured that they would still be there and love me for just being me.

At the opposite end, unforgiveness is one of the most destructive forces in our world.  The lack of accepting another because they have failed us, hurt us, or done something we see as unforgiveable, tears at the very fabric of our society.  It leads a person straight down the road to hate.  Once there, it’s very difficult for them to turn back.  I’ve been on the receiving end of that hate in my life for things I haven’t even done.  To see how that unforgiveness has wreaked havoc in those people’s lives is a sad thing to see.

Fortunately for all of us, there is only one whom we ultimately need to find acceptance from; God.  I say fortunately because of all there is in this world, there is one thing I know without any doubt; that our creator and heavenly father loves us with a love that goes beyond our limited human understanding. 

His love is truly unconditional.  No matter what our church, our friends, or even our parents have taught us, His love is without end.  There is no stopping God from loving us just as we are.  His love sees through the messiness, the heartache, and the pain to the soul He created inside of us.  It reaches beyond the judgment, the false accusations, the betrayal, and the hurt to bring healing and acceptance; not because of what we do, but because of who He is. 

If you’re struggling with rejection, fear, and unworthiness, know that there’s nothing you can do to earn His favor; you already have it.  All you need to do is accept it by faith.  It’s just waiting for you.  No matter what life may have thrown at you, you are loved today by the God of all creation; unconditionally and without hesitation…

Up in Flames


I sometimes think about driving home one day and finding out that our home had burned down.  All our life’s savings, memories, clothes, and furniture had gone up in flames.  It’s not a pleasant thought that’s for sure.   But, it’s one that many men may have as they comb through their minds trying to think of all the possible ways a fire could start in their home.  Even after all of the forethought and taking care, nature may still win out.

Several years ago, some friends of ours had a bolt of lightning hit their home and send electricity through the house shorting out all the wall units and starting a fire.  The fire quickly took hold.  They were fortunate enough to get of the burning house, along with their pet dog, only to watch their life’s work go up in flames.  Because the fire department arrived quickly, they were at least able to preserve the structure of their home, but the water and smoke still had done tremendous damage.  Since then, they have rebuilt their home into something even better than it was before.  The journey has been a long one and the cost has been very high.  Not everyone can say the same, however.  Many will lose their home and not have anything left but ashes and smoke.

Sometimes, relationships can end a lot like those homes burned down by ‘natural’ disasters.  We may be in what we think is a solid relationship only to see it go up in flames from an unexpected random event that brings destruction when we least expect it.  We may not lose the entire relationship, but what’s left, we may not feel is worth saving.

On the other hand, we may have very little left when a relationship falls apart but with hard work, lots of effort, sacrifice, and persistence, over time we may be able to rebuild it into something even better than it was before.  It may look the same on the outside to those who didn’t know what we had to do to repair it, but inside, we will know.

I know I’m speaking in what some may consider hyperbole, but the truth is that every relationship will come under fire.  That fire may wreak havoc on us.  It may even seem like there’s no way to repair it and that it’s better to just walk away.  Yet, with enough love, care, and time, nearly any broken relationship can be rebuilt.  

Tonight, I’m praying for one specific relationship in my own life that had burned up in flames long ago by a random flaming arrow that was shot into my life.  What’s left is but a shell of what it could have been.  I’m still holding out for it to be rebuilt into something better than ever.  I have the vision and desire for it to be rebuilt.  I also know that, with God’s help, it can be done.  It won’t be easy and there will be lots of painful moments in the process, but in the end, it will be worth it.

If you’re facing the loss of a relationship that went up in flames, be encouraged.  What seems to be lost can be rebuilt.  You may not even want it to be rebuilt, but over time as wounds heal and forgiveness is granted, you may find that openness to try again.  This time, it could work out into something even better than it was before.  With God’s help, all things are possible…

Love always

Persistence – Turning What’s Abandoned Into a Beautiful Home


This week has raced by while the Microsoft whirlwind continues to build into Q2.  For guys like me, that means high stress every day, millions on the line for our customers, and Microsoft pushing what they may not need right now.  You can imagine that Fridays look better all the time.

While working at my desk this week, I was able to watch the neighbor’s home across the street getting a major landscape upgrade.  It’s the final piece of the puzzle being added after nearly three years which has seen the house go from being a mediocre rental property, an abandoned construction project with no roof, to a fully refurbished home mostly done by a couple of local handymen.

Witnessing the transformation has been a way to take the focus off work for a few minutes at a time.  Somehow, seeing the framers, the roofers, the painters complete their projects, and now the landscapers have helped to keep things in perspective for me both at home and at work.  I know, it probably seems like I’m a nosy neighbor (well, maybe a little bit), but knowing the work someone else is doing across the street is making that abandoned project better along with helping our home’s value increase, sort of worms my heart a bit.

As crazy as life can be for a lot of us, there’s always someone out there who has it worse than we do.  To see other people’s lives, grow and change for the better after being abandoned for the worse, is something worth watching.   It’s inspiring to see the result of hard work, dedication, and persistence through the tough times result in something others will admire.

Tonight here’s to persisting even when it’s tough.  Here’s to not giving up when the pressure is on and realizing that, as hard as we have it, there’s always someone out there who has it worse than we do.  Here’s to keeping our focus when everything seems to be going in different directions.  Most of all here’s to taking joy in other people’s success after they’ve been thrown to the side of the road.   They deserve our appreciation, encouragement, and admiration because when they make their lives better, ours improves too.

Love always….

Lost Memories Found


This week brought back a lot of memories of my childhood. Many of which I hadn’t even thought about for years. My dad found a box in his attic in South Carolina where he had kept some of my memorabilia while I was moving all over California. 

He asked if I’d like the box sent to me not really knowing what was in it and I almost told him to trash it thinking it was just some old college books and papers.  We decided that it was probably better if he sent them to me just to be sure there wasn’t something in the box I may want and boy am I glad we did.

The box arrived a few days ago (Dad must have sent it express). When I opened it up, I found a bag full of memories my mother had given me years ago that was put away for safekeeping in that box.  As I pulled each piece from the bag, I began to realize just how much my parents loved me back then and how sentimental they were. 

Mom had saved every report card, teacher note, school picture, newspaper clippings, graduation cards, report cards, class photos, and even my class letters.  To top that, my baby book, baby announcements, baby pictures, and baby journal were all kept safely in that bag.  It was truly one of the best gifts I could have been given and I am so grateful we didn’t agree to trash the box and thankful for my dad having kept it safe all of these years!

I doubt many people can open a drawer and look at their kindergarten class picture, their sixth grade report card, their school crossing certificates, and nearly every school picture ever taken of them like it was yesterday.   Truthfully, I don’t know what I’m going to do with them other than save them to show the kids, and grandkids, one day. But, just knowing they’re there is special.

More important to me than all the memories, is the reminder that both my dad and Mom loved me enough to save those memories.  It reminds me of the show, ‘This is Us’ that the Mrs. and I FINALLY decided to watch.  We’re starting with season one and have already had to wipe the tears from our eyes more than once!  

Tonight, you may not have those memories of your past all in a drawer where you can look at them when you want. They may have been thrown away long ago because they were too painful, but know that, no matter what memories you have of your early years, you have always been loved by a Heavenly Father. 

His love is eternal, and He has always been there in your life.  Not only that, He will never leave you or abandon you.  His acceptance of you is 100% because of Jesus and He will never let you down even if our natural parents do.  Most of all, He can make those broken memories new again and help to restore what was lost long ago because that’s just what He does…

Love Always…