Love is a Verb

Posted: February 5, 2015 by liftyourvoice1 in Godly Manhood, Godly Womanhood
Tags: , ,

agape loveValentine’s Day is right around the corner and with it a plethora of pink, teddy bears, and heart-shaped everything. On this designated day, people make a special effort to let others know they’re loved (and others desperately wait to hear confessions of love). But why must this be designated to one day? And why must it be romantic love? Can’t we love everyone everyday with God’s love, a love that’s beyond the material and commercialized? What is real love?

When I look up “love” on, these are the top three definitions:
1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.

The Greek language has four words for love:
– eros (romantic, sexual love)
– agape (brotherly love, charity)
-philia (friendship love)
-storge (natural affection as of parents for their children, also a less common word for “love” than the first three)

If you note the definitions of “love” listed above the Greek, you’ll see that #1 could be eros or agape, #2 is philia, and #3 is eros. Also, note that love is described by other nouns, namely“affection,” a “feeling,” and a “desire.”

Is love affection, a feeling, or a stirring passionate desire? Our society portrays it as such, and it’s terrifying. I would feel utterly heartbroken if my husband told me he had strong feelings of affection or desire for me. Likewise, if my closest friends or family members said they had warm feelings for me I would cry rivers. “Why?” you ask. Because that kind of love is changeable and not based on a commitment. That kind of love says “I love you for what you do for me,” “I love you when you’re attractive,” or “I love you when you make me happy.” I’m blessed because my husband, close friends, and family love me with God’s love, agape love. Agape love is not based on performance of the receiver of love nor the feelings of the giver.

“Tell me more about this agape love,” you say. Of course! In my brief search, this is what I’ve unearthed on the topic:

“Agápe means love: esp. brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God. Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the ‘love chapter,’ 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as brotherly love, affection, good will, love, and benevolence. Whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love (even without any self-benefit). Agape is used by Christians to express the unconditional love of God for his children. This type of love was further explained by Thomas Aquinas as ‘to will the good of another.’”

Sorry, that was long…phew! But it was so good I had to include it all. Did you notice the key words? Unconditional, wanting good for others, given without self-benefit. This kind of love is extraterrestrial. It’s from heaven above, and its existence on earth only happens when people let God fill them with this love. You have to be possessed by God’s Holy Spirit to love this way because human nature cries “me first.”

Close relationships reveal whether you’re possessed with selfish or God’s love. Marriage opened my eyes to the depth of true, godly love and my lack of this love for others. Real love hurts and doesn’t come naturally. Real love doesn’t lay down requirements or conditions. Real love forgives even when pride rears its ugly head. Real love is daily, practical, and in the little things. You know the phrase, “the end justifies the means?” Well, when it comes to love, the end is all about the means. It’s all about the in between, the small details.

Here’s some personal examples:

Love is when my husband takes the day off from work to take care of me when I have the stomach bug and have thrown up all over the bath tub. (True story. May it never happen again!)

Love is when my best friend drops off food, unasked and secretively (well she tried, I caught her), from Panera on my door step when I was home caring for my husband.

Love is when I ran my car into a bench and banged up the side door pretty badly, and instead of chiding me, my dad just hugged me and let me cry. He extended grace instead of punishment. (He then proceeded to buy a new car door for me and then paint it to match the rest of the car.)

I’m so blessed to be loved this way. And I’m reminded to love others this way, even though it is so hard. You may be thinking “Isn’t marriage about passion and desire?” Well, yes. But it can’t survive on that. A good marriage is founded on God and a commitment to one another; otherwise it will fail because people fail.

Love is a choice. Love is a verb. It’s about what you DO for others, not about what you receive.

I could write an entire book on this topic, but I’ll leave you with some food for thought: “Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.” ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I challenge you this Valentine’s Day, and every day, to share agape love with others. Be God’s hands and feet. Be filled with His Spirit. Be love.

Learning to love God’s way,

Recent Podcasts

Posted: January 21, 2015 by liftyourvoice1 in Uncategorized

Hey all! We have recently released our first two podcasts! You can listen to each of them at the following links:

for future podcasts you can follow the link on this page:

My Stance on Life

Posted: January 20, 2015 by liftyourvoice1 in Abortion/Sanctity of Life, Godly Womanhood
Tags: , ,

This week, Lift Your Voice released a podcast on abortion and the truth of a pro-life stance. Sadly, I wasn’t able to be with the LYV “crew” during their recording last week, but I was able to listen to it tonight (which I advise all of you reading this to go do as well!). I don’t have a story like Jennifer who had an abortion and struggled through the pain and guilt to find grace in God’s love. But I do have a stance on the sanctity of life that has evolved over the years.

I have always been pro-life for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a Christian home, attended church regularly, and believed God’s Word on the sanctity of human life. Though I wasn’t very outspoken about my views, I do remember an instance in high school in which I got to voice my pro-life views to the class. In government class that day, we were debating abortion. I use the word “debate” in a fairly informal way: we didn’t have out of class research to refer to or copious notes. It was more “on-the-spot.” You should know I was a wallflower in high school. I studied, I was pleasant, and I had a few good friends, but being in front of people and sharing my opinions would make my face flush red and my palms sweat. But this day in class, we were discussing abortion, and I spoke up. I remember listening to my classmates talk back and forth on the subject. “What if the child to be born is deformed or handicapped?” someone questioned. My hand quickly shot up. I remember adamantly saying that the child’s life should still be protected regardless of how healthy or “imperfect” they were. And then I said these words: “Sometimes having a handicapped child is not about them, but about you, and how it can change you for the better.” (I said something like that, though it probably had quite a few “ummm”s and “you know”s thrown in there.) I’m not sure how many of my classmates agreed with me, but I truly believed (and believe) that all children are God’s children and have a purpose in the world that He has divined from the beginning, from conception.

I don’t have any stories of close friends or family members who dealt with abortion, but I do know people who I’m sure had to face the overwhelming discovery that their child would be born disabled. When this fact is presented so nonchalantly by some doctors, abortion lingers in the back of your mind as an option. “Would this be right?” they may have wondered. Thankfully, they chose life for their baby. One of my friends is a dwarf, and I am blessed to know her. She is a blessing to her friends and family, and I cannot imagine her not existing. Thankfully, her parents chose life. For my teaching degree, I had to visit a school for children with learning disabilities. Many of them had emotional, physical, psychological, or social handicaps. And they were all beautiful children. The experience visiting the school was nothing like I imagined. It was better. Many of these children were incredibly smart and kind and had huge dreams. I asked one of the girls what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she matter-of-factly replied, “The President.” She believed it was possible. It brings me joy to know that many of the parents of those children, when faced with a choice, chose life.

Many of our greatest contributors to society were/are “imperfect” (I say this in the most earthly way, not in light of a Christian worldview). Helen Keller, a great author, political activist, and lecturer, may never had been born if her parents had been able to know before her birth that she was deaf and blind. Here is a long list of highly influential people that were believed to have had Asperger’s Syndrome (autism): Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Carl Jung (psychoanalyst), Emily Dickinson (poet), Beethoven, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, Van Gogh (painter), and Mozart (just to name a few). What if science, during their time, had allowed their parents to know that their child was going to be born “defective” or “different”? Would these people have even existed? How different would our society be today?

Bringing it in, a little closer to home, I think about what pro-life means to me now. I still believe that life begins at conception, but what I choose to do with that information has changed. As many of you may know, I am a happily married woman. Before my husband and I got married, we had to consider birth control options. (TMI, you may be thinking, but please, stay with me.) I attended a Christian college that seriously confronted the issue of life, when it begins, and what birth control routes can be abortive (if you believe life begins at conception). Because of this (and other health reasons), my husband and I ruled out The Pill. Other birth control options that may be abortive (meaning that they may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine lining) include IUDs, “morning after” pills, and the depo-provera (hormone)shot. Before I was married, I visited my doctor and talked to my GP, and one recommended the pill and the other suggested an IUD. For health and moral reasons, I said “no” to both.

You may not be in a position where you are considering having children or the possibility of children, but that day may soon come. It really is sobering to me when I realize the impact I have on my future children. Their lives are literally depending on me and what I choose to put in my body. Cigarettes and alcohol can be detrimental, and even pharmaceutical drugs can harm a fetus in the very early stages of pregnancy. This is something I had to face as I stepped over the threshold of matrimony. How would my prescription drugs I take affect the life of my future child (planned or unplanned)? I’ve done some research, and I realize now that because I am pro-life and want the very best for my children, I will stop taking certain medications when we want to have children, even if it makes me less comfortable. I am thankful that God directed me to a Christian family doctor in our area. When I discussed my medication with him and thinking about a future family, he completely understood the importance of protecting the life of an unborn child. It was so refreshing for him to tell me honestly what he felt in good conscience I could and could not take during future pregnancies.

I know you may not be thinking about children, marriage, or medications, but I DO know that you probably think about relationships. You probably are or desire to be in a relationship one day, and you will probably be physically attracted to someone of the opposite sex. Know that the God-designed gift of sex carries great responsibility. When you make love, there’s always the potential to make life. Please, wait for marriage to enjoy God’s gift of sex. And, when you’re married, please, take the responsibility of potential pro-creation very seriously. The life of someone else depends on you, even if you may or may not know it.

Grateful for God’s blessing of life,

When approaching the topic of the Gospel, my first thought was that this subject has been talked about extensively enough that I had nothing to add to the ongoing discussion. I felt every aspect of it had been covered. Then, upon further reflection, I was seized by the realization that I had, in fact, the opposite problem: I couldn’t narrow down what to talk about! The more I thought about the Gospel and its impact on my life and the world, the more I realized that the Gospel of Jesus Christ permeates everything. So much for feeling I had nothing to talk about. I could write an entire book!

But for the sake of time and space, I will focus on how a recent revelation of the Gospel directly affected my view of Christ, His sacrifice, and my daily life. Having been in church all my life, I could easily quote back that the Gospel means “good news,” specifically that Christ died on the cross for our sins so that we could go to heaven, and if we accept Christ into our hearts, we will be with Him in heaven one day. At age seven, I accepted Christ after understanding the basics of the Gospel and trusting Him for my salvation. I had been saved from my sins, but at seven, I didn’t fully grasp the all-encompassing breadth of salvation and the Gospel (which is OK, because Christ asks us to have child-like faith). Sadly, after nearly two decades of being a Christian, the Gospel had become a textbook answer and not a personal encounter/revelation.

This summer I read a book on grace that reignited my joy in Christ and His sacrifice for me. (I highly recommend it. It’s One Way Love by Tullian Tchividjian.) Surprisingly, I had to be prodded and cajoled by my parents to read the book. They even bought it for me. (Sometimes I get burned out on “Christian” books and feel I could better spend my time in personal Bible study rather than reading another human’s opinions, but that’s another blog topic.) But once I read the book, I truly did see my salvation and Christ’s unconditional gift in a different light. As the title suggests, the book is all about Christ’s love and grace towards us being all we need. Let me rephrase that: Because of Christ’s redeeming love, we do not need to do anything else. It’s done. Complete. Finalized. All we need to do is accept it in humble repentance.

The good news doesn’t stop with salvation. (“Hooray! I’ve got my ticket into Heaven and I’m set now.” NO!) Salvation is only the beginning of truly living. Because of the cross, I do not have to do anything for Christ to make Him want or love me any more or less than He already does, because I did not have any hand in my redemption. He paid for it, He covered it, He said “it is finished.” And because of that, I can live joyfully. Tchividjian points out that because of Christ’s unconditional love, we are free to be nobodies and do absolute nothing because He is the Somebody who did Everything. (Not that we want or should be passive Christians, but we could without condemnation.) We are free from guilt in doing things for God because they don’t affect our eternal position with Him. His Son covered it.

This all gave me great personal relief. I am a fairly Type A, planning, organized, people-pleaser kind of personality. I feel that there is always something more I should do or could do, and I hate feeling like I’ve upset someone. But Christ did it ALL for me. I am free to be a nobody who does nothing with her life. But, because I have the weight of performance lifted from me, I am inspired to do good and live holy because Christ is not keeping score.

The perfectionist in me rejoices. Often, when I have a big project, I avoid it like the plague for as long as possible because it feels insurmountable and I don’t think I can do it well. Eventually, I cave and finish it. But Christ tackled my big project of life. He fulfilled my requirements so that I’ve passed with flying colors. I’ve already passed the class of life without having finished it here on Earth because of Him. Therefore, I’m living free of expectations of myself and what is “good enough.” Christ is more than good enough. And because of that, I can live and love for Him in total abandon. Because nothing I do ultimately matters in my salvation, I’m free to truly live. I don’t have to be fearful or anxious that I’m not doing enough for God. God doesn’t condemn me. Christ’s blood covers me, allowing me to live life abundantly. We aren’t just safe from eternal damnation, but we are also free from condemnation in this life now. Isn’t that the BEST news?

PS: A quote for further pondering from Relient K: The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.

Living in grace,

(I came across this post I’d written quite a few months ago, and decided it was perfect in light of starting off the New Year. What better time to take a spiritual inventory?)
Yep, how fruity are you? Are you displaying spiritual fruits, fruits of the Spirit? Here’s different categories of godly fruitiness:

Paul, in Galatians 5, made a distinction between fruity behavior and not so fruity behavior:

“19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Good fruit: love, joy peace, forbearance (patient endurance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control

Bad fruit (rotten tomatoes): sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies

I was reflecting on this passage last night after I received some disappointing news. God has chosen to close 2 doors I was sure I could easily walk through. No, or not now, He had said. In the wake of my disappointment, a whole slew of negative attitudes and perspectives came to the surface, and I realized they were not fruity, but more like rotten tomatoes. I was seeing impatience, self-focus, jealousy, and an impure heart. I was full of pride, bitterness, and I felt like I was in the right to feel that way. It was time to take a spiritual inventory.

So that night, I pulled out the Scriptures and read Galatians 5:22. As a believer, I should be living out my life full of all this good, heavenly fruit, but my my heart did not have love, joy, peace, patience, or feelings of kindness. I was in love with my ideas for my future, with myself, and not with God and others. I was discontent and restless, not sitting in joyful peace, which God gives us despite our circumstances. I felt angsty towards others, towards myself, towards God’s plans. I was not in control (as always) and I didn’t like it. I didn’t agree with what God was doing. I don’t like not having the answers. But then I realized, having love, joy, peace, etc. in my day to day life would make me a happier person, and no one was keeping me from this fruity life but me.

Therefore, I have decided to use this “waiting” time that I did not expect, this area in which I could be moping in disappointment, to see other areas of branching out. To love on others, to practice patience, to cast my idols of my own dreams and demands before God and re-evaluate my priorities.

Are you living a fruity life?

Savoring God’s fruit,


Posted: November 18, 2014 by liftyourvoice1 in Uncategorized

It’s a count-down to that special day of the year when we cram large birds into ovens, make a pie from anything (chocolate, strawberry, coconut, cherry, pumpkin, blueberry, pecan), and happily ignore our calorie intake. Besides the food, Thanksgiving is also a wonderful time to celebrate the blessings in our lives with our friends and family. Or rather, if you’re busy like me, it’s a time for you to slow down and notice the blessings that are already in your life. I get so preoccupied with life, even good things in life, that I forget how gracious and giving my Heavenly Father truly is to me.

My husband and I sometimes play this game when we’re stressed or overwhelmed. I call it the ABC Thankful game. We take turns going back and forth saying something we’re thankful for that begins with that letter until we make it through the whole alphabet. Yes, x, y, and z are hard. We usually have ridiculous answers for those. Here’s a list of the ABCs I’m thankful for:

A- America (because even though our country has its problems, there’s still a lot of good)

B- Beauty (beautiful things in everyday life, like smiles, happy children, colorful leaves)

C- Car (I’m thankful we have transportation)

D- Dads (for my earthly and heavenly Fathers)

E- Earth (Do you know how specially crafted our planet is for life? God is amazing.)

F- Friends/Family

G- Grocery stores (This sounds petty, but how convenient and wonderful is it that we can buy all sorts of food and eat it the same day?)

H- Heaven (I’m so thankful that I have a home beyond this earth. And that I’ll be there forever with my Savior.)

I- Introverts (I can be one, and I’m thankful that we have all types of people, those who like to socialize and those who prefer quieter past times. Diversity is beautiful.)

J- Jesus (Sounds cliche, but really, JESUS! Praise God!)

K- Kindness (I’m so grateful when someone is kind to me, whether it be a dear friend, or a random stranger. God knows when to put people in my life to cheer me up at just the right time.)

L- Love (Christ’s love, unconditional love, a mother’s love, a father’s love, a husband’s love. It’s all wonderful.)

M- Marriage (God created something great when he created marriage, and I’m thankful Brandon and I get to experience it together!)

N- Novels (I adore a good book. There’s never too little space, just not enough book shelves. More books!)

O- Oxygen. Period. No explanation.

P- Prayer (We have an awesome God who made it possible for us to talk to Him!)

Q- Quiet moments (Sorry, had to “cheat” on that one.)

R- Rest (I’m thankful for moments of rest to recharge.)

S- Seasons (I love that we have four lovely seasons, each with its own unique beauty.)

T- Tea (I love tea. I love trying different kinds of tea. I love drinking tea while reading a book.)

U- Unity (Unity among the body of believers. It’s awesome when our diversity can bring us together because of Christ.)

V- Vacations (I’m thankful that God has blessed us with the money, time, and jobs that allow us to take occasional vacations. And I’m thankful for all the memories I have from them.)

W- Work (I don’t always love every moment of it, but I’m thankful to have a job. God is good.)

X- X-rays (Because this one’s hard, and because x-rays are extremely helpful.)

Y- Yams (Every thanksgiving feast needs some sweet potatoes!)

Z- Hmmmm….zoos? Sorry, stuck on this one.

Anyways, try listing the things you are thankful for. You may be surprised at how many things God has blessed you with! I pray you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family remembering every reason you have to be grateful.

God bless, Larkin

“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20

Dare to Unplug

Posted: November 6, 2014 by liftyourvoice1 in Worldliness

Social networking is big, really BIG. I currently use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest on a regular basis. There’s also SnapChat, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, and oldies like MySpace and Xanga. And before that, we had AIM chat and email. But with the increasing number of people owning personal laptops and smart phones, people are more connected to ideas and each other than ever before… or are they?

I have attended social events where half the table busily fiddled with their phones instead of engaging in conversation. I have seen people lose the beauty of a moment by capturing every second of it, in selfies and video clips, which end up on Facebook and Twitter for all to see. “Pics or it didn’t happen,” is the phrase of the day.

What if we enjoyed the moments and took mental pictures? What if we put down our phones and talked to the person across the table? What if we stopped taking selfies of every little thing? Selfies with your food, selfies with no filter, selfies with the BFF, selfies at parties (#YOLO), selfies with ______ (fill in the blank). Social media is feeding our self worship.

Social media claims to help us be more “connected,” which is true to a certain degree. Facebook and Skype make long distance communication a breeze. Pinterest is a fun way to share and discover new ideas. Instagram documents our lives in pictures, sharing and showing our lives with our followers. Social media can be good.
But social media can be fake. Overuse of social media leads to an urgent necessity to be “up” on what’s going on in everyone’s lives. Scrolling through our newsfeeds, we can see what our friends have been doing lately. But our “friends” only post what they want others to see, not always what’s really going on. A comment on someone’s “wall” is quick and simple, but is it real? Would we talk to this person outside of the virtual world? Would we dare to get together over coffee, and ask them how they’re really doing, behind the filter-perfect Instagrams and overly hash tagged happy photos?

Our generation needs to UNPLUG. And it can start with you and me. Next time you want to know how a friend is doing, give them a call. If you’re out by yourself, savor the moment and beauty around you; don’t ruin it with excessive picture taking. Instead of #YOLO after all your pictures, really live in the moment by realizing how fleeting it is. You only live once, and a beautiful life can be fully lived without non-stop visual proof on your newsfeed. “Pics or it didn’t happen” is false.

I’m as guilty of social media addiction as anyone else. I check my Facebook in the morning, scroll through my Pinterest feed, and check my email on my phone, all before I even get out of bed. And I know it’s unhealthy. I’m not advocating that we all delete our Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I am advocating moderation. A good thing can be overdone. “You only live once” is partially true, but more accurately, you only live once on this Earth, so make the most of your time by putting down your phone, closing your laptop, and interacting with others face to face.