I use the word “intentional” a lot.
It’s my preferred synonym of purposeful.
It means, to me, that something was valued enough to put care, thought, intention, and purpose into.

And I’d venture to say that John & I are pretty intentional about a lot of things.
I’d also say that I’m absolutely the most intentional about relationships in my life.

I’m an incredibly relational person. I love to be around people, and though I do like to go to the bathroom alone, there aren’t any other places I can think of where I don’t adore having company.
I love people. I love getting to know people and their stories. And I commit to folks something serious.

And here’s the thing…
{I realized when prompted by someone else’s question that I don’t talk about it much}
I love people for one reason:

He loved me first.

I am convinced that I wouldn’t love people if this weren’t the case. I might do nice things for people. But it would be about making myself feel good. Or from a sense of obligation {still about making myself feel good.} Or to be accepted, or to be loved in return, etc., etc.
The point is, I might still be a generally nice person on the surface, but it would be self-serving.

The only reason I ever make it past the point of self serving in my relationships with people… to the point of never losing hope, of being patient, kind, humble, any of that… is because HE gives it to me.

And I’m not quick to explain that, necessarily. Maybe because I don’t want to freak out my friends who don’t know Jesus by being all, “Hey, I love Jesus so I want to love you.” And have them run in the other direction. Of course, I would hope that they all know by now what I’m all about.

The thing is… I don’t pursue these friends because I want to convince them that they need Jesus.
I want to pursue these friends because  they were created by Jesus. Because He calls them His masterpiece.
Because even in all the brokenness of all the people around me all the time, I see His beauty. I see His glory shining through. And because He wants to know them. And He wants people to want to know each other. And that’s why I pursue people. That’s why I want my door to always be open. That’s why I struggle to say no anytime people invite me into any part of their life {be it real relationship or just a party.} That’s why I find it incredibly difficult to let go of relationships AND why I find it incredibly difficult to not be honest with people in relationship.

The thing is, I desperately want all my friends to know the beautiful freedom that comes in knowing Jesus.
Because it saved me.
Because He set me free from all the things that were binding up my soul and keeping me in darkness.
Not that I don’t obviously have my moments, but the general direction of my life and my heart is in the way of contentment, joy, and LIFE.
I want that for everyone I encounter. But I don’t necessarily wear a t-shirt that says it. I don’t necessarily tell anyone that at our first meeting, or even at all. I do want them to want to know me, too, and hey, they don’t necessarily have the love of Jesus as their motivation to want to do so.

I do, however, make it my intention to go about showing them that in everything that I do… and telling them that with my words whenever they give me the opportunity to.

Like Heaven?

Just recently I finished the very controversial book LOVE WINS by Rob Bell. Lee Anne had read the book and mentioned things that got me intrigued. Took me a while to start the book and even longer to actually finish it. In the book Bell seeks to open a discussion for anyone interested on the often misunderstood and heated topic of heaven and hell. My struggle with these ideas started early in life, largely due to my tendency toward using stories to understand life. Our understanding of these “places” and the stories they create in our hearts do a lot to arrange the way we live.

Heaven and Hell: these two words bring to mind everything from babies with wings to large hairy biker guya.

Is this heaven or hell?

When driving the other day (ok I drive a lot every day) a song came on and for some reason I got this vision of humanity having a HUGE dance party with singing and music. A wedding cake style stage was rotating with children of all colors, nationalities and ages singing with the kind of enthusiasm that kids have when they love the person they are singing about. Circle upon circle of break dancers and pop-lockers surrounded the stage, all doing the kind of moves reserved for the Red Bull final rounds. Then instruments from saxophone to guitar marched around the whole event, hitting every note to the rhythm of the dancers. From out of view, came old men running into consecutive hand springs and flips across the front and back of this dancebration.

Without reason I turned, in my mind, to the right and caught the Messiah watching this whole thing with me.

He was smiling.
I was crying.

Then it struck me, this whole thing. All of humanity celebrating and creating this blend of musical dance party was the ONLY appropriate response to what He did for us. And He loved every moment, His smile was like seeing all the best moments of your life – only much, much better.

Could this be like Heaven?

Giving thought to heaven and what it means that our Savior said the Kingdom of Heaven is here makes a HUGE difference in the way everyday life is lived.