Dance shirtless on a hill

A man and a woman performing a modern dance.
Image via Wikipedia

For many of us,  school has begun.  Today, I prayed as I stood beside my kids and they prepared to enter the classroom.  I prayed for them and their ability to make wise choices.  I prayed for their teachers.  I prayed for the school and district leadership.  This is but the beginning, the prayers will continue all year because God directs me to do so.

I’ll offer guidance and struggle with them as they face life issues in this compact environment.  But my inabilities shout their presence within my mind.  I can’t open their eyes and enable them to pick their friends wisely.  I can’t sit in the room every day seeking understanding of how to better strengthen their minds.  I can’t whisper in their ears calming thoughts in anxious moments.

God can.

Because I believe in His strength and fortitude no matter what the circumstance, I hand off my precious people into the arms of others.  Some whom I know and some I don’t.  But God’s guidance remains within me and my husband.  His directions enable my children.  I trust Him.

In the midst of prepubescance and angst ridden second graders, my hope is this:

they will feel so confident in their faith, they will be capable of dancing shirtless on a hill. 

But, what does that mean?

I’ve provided a link to a 3 minute TED talk given by Derek Sivers.  His talk encourages and guides leaders, but I saw something else.  I saw one kid.  A boy whose passion for music and love of life burst out and became contagious to everyone around.

The kid’s gutsy and energizing wish to move inspired and brought others along for the ride.  That’s what I hope for my kids. 

Watch it here. 

May my children love the Lord and trust Him enough to stand out and dance, even if it seems like they stand alone.   The Lord wants our joy to overflow in such a way that we dance (literally or figuratively) before Him.

“Then young women will dance and be glad,
   young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
   I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. ”  Jeremiah 31:13

If we know this is true for our children, maybe we’ll be capable of living within that truth ourselves.

My choice today:

Dance shirtless on a hill.  (Okay, as a chick, I’ll wear a shirt.  But you get the imagery, right.)

Do children ever inspire you?  What have you seen or heard that makes you want to become better?

 

Last day of summer break: things to do

An orange check mark.
Image via Wikipedia

1.  Sleep in one last time, check.

2. Watch a favorite T.V. show together, check.

3. Take that bike ride you talked about for the past few months, check.

4. Organize backpacks and supplies, check.

5. Return books and videos to the library (otherwise I’ll forget and build up fees), check.

6. Look in their eyes long and hard, check.

7. Talk about the summer and all we did, check.

8. Sort through at all those pictures, check.

9. Plan the clothes and food for tomorrow, check.

10.  Give solid and squishy hugs off and on all day, check……

 

No regrets, no take backs or do overs.  This summer’s a wrap.

My choice today:

Wrap up this summer with God’s blessing, and pray for the teachers and this next school year. 

Boredom busters, who needs them?

Science Jamboree
Image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr

Do you remember the amazing things you did with boredom?  You learned to shuffle cards.  You rode a bike with no hands.  You built models or wrote stories.  What a treasured life we lived!

Now, we have so many activities designed to occupy our time or our kids time.  We can go to the public pool, the park, play sports, take classes, play video games, watch television, or surf the internet.  We pack our moments so full, there’s little space for other experiences.

We do it because it’s expected.  We fear making poor choices, and we don’t want boredom.  What’s the thrill of boredom?

On its surface, boredom causes lethargy and decay, but if guided by caring parents who see a plus within a boredom experience much more occurs.

Let’s imagine…

  • a future musician minus boredom….no intrigue, no musical development, no passion.
  • a future artist minus boredom…no mistaken sketches aiding future development, no creative color blending, no mixing of mediums. 
  • a future computer tech minus boredom….no knowledge of deeper computer reasoning, no understanding of why people sit there in the first place, no ideas for improvement.
  • a future magician minus boredom….no finger dexterity, no ability to shuffle a card deck, no show.
  • a future mom minus boredom…no doll games, no babysitting, no practice, no skill.

Many great and small feats begin with a little undirected free time.  At first it flusters the mind and body, not knowing what to do.  But with a little elbow room and a touch of guidance from a mom or dad who cares, kids venture outdoors, pick up paintbrush or pen, read, write, examine, experiment or build.

Maybe that’s why God wants us to honor a sabbath.  From rest comes creativity.  His creative juices will never be topped, and He rested.

My choice today:

Allow a little boredom and keep eyes open to offer needed direction.

Who has the power?

Television remote control
Image via Wikipedia

In our house, whoever holds the television remote control, “has the power”, as we define it.

As we seek to make faithful choices, we need to realize who has the power.

Jesus spoke here: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”  John 15:16

My choice today:

Put down the remote.

5 steps to better bonding with your kids

by freedigitalphotos.net

We adore them, those worming, squirming, strong-minded kiddos of ours.  But that doesn’t mean we get them.  Closeness to them matters more than job security and a good credit line, combined.  Yet, try as we might our ownership manual never arrived in the mail.

We must push their buttons and coax their minds in the hope that we will parentally succeed where others have failed.  What can we do?

5 steps to better bonding with the most complex gadgets we have, our children:

1.  Ask questions. 

Not inquisition style, but inquisitive style.  We ask because we care.  Their thoughts are way more fascinating than TMZ.  Even silly questions build foundations.

I enjoy ones like, “If you could bring any toy with you on a long plane ride, what would it be?”  Remember, when they answer, they share their opinion.  Opinions aren’t wrong.

2.  Think ahead and make the questions complex. 

Remember the good ‘ol days, when your family asked you questions, and you responded with the standard one-word response? Conversation didn’t get very far.

Solid questions require thought.  If you were answering, could you respond quickly in one word or with detail.  Kid convos which include details grow the conversation, lack of details kill it, and not in a good way.

3.  Answer questions.

If our children know they can approach us on any topic, and they won’t be chastised or criticized, the likelihood they’ll return for more questions increases.  I knew a teacher who had a poster in her class which stated, “The only stupid question is the one you never ask.”  If we stick to that attitude, our kids know it and welcome our involvement in their lives.

We will have to let them know we’re open to their questions, though….especially if we have older children.  A simple statement like, “Do you have any questions for me?” opens the conversational door to our lives.  We will have to repeat the phrase often before we hear strong content questions, but silly ones still help them trust us.

4.  Make eye contact.

Ever have someone talk with you who doesn’t look at you?  It’s disconcerting.  This happens to children constantly.  We often need to stoop down to make eye contact, and this small workout pays off more than regular trips to the gym.  It shows how valuable we feel they are.

5.  Plan play times.

Not play-dates with friends, but family play time.  Make sure it suits your family’s personality.  Play could involve word games or rhyming.  It includes video games or Twister.  Play can be as detailed as a full-fledged family baseball game or as simple as a round of Angry Birds in the doctor’s office waiting room.

As parents ,we often tell our kids what to do and not to do, but play enables us to simply enjoy being together, because we like one another.  You could sign up for every movement activity in town and join team after team, but if your family doesn’t enjoy time together, you’ll miss valuable connections which last a lifetime.

My choice today:

Make the effort to build bonds with my kids.

 

In comments, share ways you strive to build better bonds with your kids.

How does God fit a pair of jeans on a lily? (part 2)

In my earlier post, I mentioned how I struggle with certain Bible verses.  Matthew 6:28-30 bothers me because I cannot imagine how God supplies clothes.  But because God invites us to test Him in the arena of money in Malachi 3:10, my husband and I decided to let the testing begin. Many people I know don’t test Him with their money though, why is that?

Why don’t we test Him?

I’d like to say it’s because we’re so capable, and we don’t really need His help.  But in truth, we doubt He’d really come through.  It comes back to my question above, “How does God fit a pair of jeans on a lily?”

What would we do if He did flood us?

Maybe we’d drop our lower jaw so far down, it could pick up dust bunnies.  Our sense of awe would be monumental.  We’d want to tell other people to test Him too,  because the pluses are that great.  We might even feel embarrassed at how inept we really are and appreciative at how completely apt He is.

Our knees might buckle, and we’d find ourselves on the floor looking up at His immense aptitude wondering why we didn’t do this earlier.

The test

Years ago, my husband and I decided to call God’s bluff.  We put our money where our faith was and watched intently to see what would happen.  It wasn’t some grandiose university study, but we took it seriously.  On pay-day, the first 10% of moneys brought in went directly to our church.  Occasionally, we gave more if a special need came up, but always 10%.

I was skeptical and nervous but viewed it like a weight loss regimen.  Instant results might not show the depth of long-term gains.

We’ve seen results we never imagined.

The results

Some results appear subtly, like a connected relationship that keeps growing stronger between us and God as well as between each other.  Other things jump out,  like checks showing up in the mail a day before a major payment comes due.

Many friends have made the blessings possible because of their generosity, but over time, when it happens again and again, we’d be deceiving ourselves if we didn’t give God the credit.

Cars last longer than they should, clothes show up at our door step (nice clothes), and much-needed dryers and lawnmowers get donated out of the blue (thanks John and Kelly).

The picture attached shows how the flood gates of heaven pour out on my kids, and I’m humbled to be along for the downpour.

How can you receive these blessings?

I can’t say I totally know, because I don’t decide the gift, but I trust the Giver.  Here are choices our family makes, and we see God’s blessings in the midst:

1.  The tithe thing works.  We give to God our tithe and offering (aka 10% of our money), because He gave us the ability to earn it.  It’s our expression of gratitude.

2.  We accept any gift with a smile and a hug.  Pride jumped out the window years ago and we found the blessings of a prideless life. Sometimes we don’t need an item someone gives, but we search for its proper recipient.

3.  We don’t attempt to control what gift we receive. (as if that were possible) We trust God to supply, even if that means we don’t get to see a cool movie or go to restaurants all the time.

4.  We always say thank you to the person who gives and the God who inspired them.

What about the lilies?

Now I begin to understand the meaning of this verse.  If God so chooses, He could clothe us all.  He could give however He chooses to give. If our eyes are open to His actions, we’d be stupid to claim any credit for the deal.

My two little lilies find themselves fully clothed for fall and school without a single store visit.  For that I say, thanks to my amazingly generous friends.  But I also say, “Praise God, thank You!” to the King of my life.

My choice today:

Recognize how much more God can and will do, when I surrender my skills and power to Him.

How does God fit a pair of jeans on a lily? (part one)

Day lily
Image via Wikipedia

Certain Bible verses stump me.  They pose a thought or idea my mind cannot fully grasp.  Over time some of them have become clearer with practice, persistence and patience.  These are some of those verses:

“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!”  Matthew 6:28-30

The first time I read those words, I pursed my eyebrows together and thought, “What on earth is this talking about?  How does God fit a pair of jeans on a lily?”

I didn’t get it.

I couldn’t fathom how God would cloth a person as easily as he decorates a flower, it’s so much more complicated than photosynthesis, right?  I mean there are styles to consider and fit.

I could easily spend an hour in any given store trying on item after item and wind up not buying a thing.  How would God carry out such a feat?

I’ve spoken with many people about how they assume I shouldn’t take scripture literally.  They’d tell me it’s an example of God’s strength and capacity, not His fabrication methods.

But in other parts of scripture, He’s darn literal.  I mean Jesus didn’t figuratively die on a cross, He really sacrificed Himself.  Peter didn’t figuratively deny knowing Him, he outlined it in detail.  So, what if God truly desires to cloth us?

I never imagined I’d be testing this, but God does invite testing in one arena.  Our money.

In other stuff, He repeated points out, not to test the Him, but monetarily He says, “Go ahead.”  Actually, He put it this way:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be  food in My house, and test Me now in this,‘ says the LORD of hosts, ‘if I will not  open for you the windows of heaven and  pour out for you a blessing until  it overflows.” Malachi 3:10

Now that’s a lofty promise onto which we often attach our own expectations.  We think He might give us more money, and He might.  We imagine He could grant us a better job, and He might.  But often, we get so concerned with our own capacity to make a buck and pay off our own debts, we fail to put Him to the test.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you more about this test, but for today:

My choice today:

Trust God enough to take a risk for Him.

Where does it mention cannibalism in the Bible?

James Eating Bread
Image by Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha via Flickr

What if you walked into the movie “Tangled” and heard the line, “Frying pans, who knew?”  You might assume the movie is a kids cooking show and leave.  You would miss the story of an innocent girl successfully defending herself with a frying pan and finding deep inner courage.

That’s what happens when we read parts of scripture without knowing or connecting to the whole.

First impressions:

I knew someone who decided to pick up a Bible and read only the book of Ezekiel.  Why that section caught his attention, I’ll never know.  This prophetic book has some outrageous imagery, which I cannot yet fully understand.

He found himself stunned and decided the entire Bible was absurd.  How sad he had no one to guide him at this vital corner of his life.

Due to the depth of info found in this humble book, people spend their whole lives searching to discover its mysteries.  No matter how long we’ve studied, we need to surround ourselves with people who’ve known God and His story longer.  It doesn’t guarantee perfection (which is found in only in Christ), but it provides a guide for the road ahead.

Fellow hikers:

In the same way, those of us who’ve been on the road (that is reading scripture and living it) longer need to be brave enough to share our experience.

I went hiking with some friends in our local mountains.  Another group passed us on their return trip.  As we crossed one another, the second group shared, “Be careful, we saw a snake ahead.”

Rattle snakes often sun themselves in the morning hours on desert, mountain trails.  We decided to heed their advice, found a walking stick, and banged the ground as we walked.  In retrospect, we probably appeared stupid to anyone with binoculars aimed our direction,  but we didn’t care.

We aimed our eyes down and remained alert.  Then, we saw a head peek out from some bushes near the trail.  Because of our awareness, we easily startled the snake, waited for it to pass and continued our hike.  Without the warning of others, our morning activity could have ended differently.

But, cannibalism?

One section of scripture could be seen as Christ calling for cannibalism.  This section would make no sense to my very literal 7-year-old.  I wonder what would happen if someone picked up a Bible and flipped to this page without ever seeing the rest or seeking guidance.

Many parts of scripture say what they mean and mean what they say like, “Don’t commit murder.”  Sounds clear, right?

Other portions need more story to explain. Like one line from a movie, these verses tell part but not all.  The Bible is full of moments where it compares hunger and thirst to our desire for God.  The psalms says,

“As a deer pants for water, my soul longs for you.”

For people who lived predominantly on bread and water, these things defined their ability to live.  Israel’s history shows the need for bread.  For example, when they wandered in the desert, God provided bread from the sky (called manna).

God sustained them in a miraculous way.  Bread had great history for them.  God also provided water from them in outrageously unexplainable ways.

Jesus knew the history and used it to redefine bread.He called himself the Bread of Life.

He also knew the need for sacrifice.  The Israelite experience involved real blood sacrifice.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we do it too. How do you think we get meat?

With our eyes open and our ears ready, we can read the verses below and see more than what is written.  We see a sacrificial love and willingness to give all for those He loved.

   I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’

Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.” John 6:48-56

Can you see how someone might assume cannibalism ?

My choice today:

Devour God’s word and seek guidance  from others who have munched more than me.

Have Bible verses ever thrown you?  Share what you thought and where you read it (if possible).

Stay at home? Am I dumb or something?

Moms and kids
Image by andrewmalone via Flickr

The stay-at-home stereotype

No one wants to say it out loud, but those of us at home feel it and hear it.

Like the bubbly blond in “Singing in the rain“, we want to say, “What do you think I am, dumb or something?”

A blogging friend of mine, Amy Storms, wrote an article about how she felt when someone responded vocally to her choice as a stay-at-home-mom.  She wanted to punch that person. I’ve felt it too.

In various T.V. shows or articles, the mention of stay-at-home accompanies the expression, “it’s the toughest job on the planet”, but the tone always indicates a follow-up comment, “and I’d never do it.” 

I’ll be honest, I never thought I would stay-at-home, until my kiddos were born.  I’m not knocking my mom’s parenting style, just giving background to my story.

The latch-key-kid

In my early years, my parents found a babysitter for me and my brother.  We’d go to school and at the end of the school day, we’d walk the block to our babysitters until mom or dad picked us up at night.

By the age of eight, my parents felt I had matured enough to stay home by myself, while my younger brother walked to the babysitter.  At the time, society called me a latch-key-kid.

I had a key to our house.  I walked myself home and remained until my parents came at night. I watched T.V., nibbled on any food in the house, and sang while looking in the mirror, imagining myself as a music star.   I also felt very lonely.

Many of my early lessons about people came from fictional T.V. shows. I developed a fear of others, because as a young child I became aware of my limitations.  Locking the door and hiding from the world will do that to you.  While I had a strong mind and got good grades, I lacked adult connections and guidance.

By the time my mother was able to stay at home with me, during my teen years, I had already developed certain patterns for how I dealt with life.  I didn’t consult her opinions.  She was there, but I hadn’t learned how seek her help.

Parenthood choices.

Leaping ahead, my husband and I married in my late twenties.  I already had a career for which I had earned a Master’s degree.  We happily used our two incomes and enjoyed our couple time.  Then came kiddo number one.

My work enabled me to bring her along, and she rolled around on my office floor. As she began to walk and get into things, I hired a homeschooled teenager to watch her nearby.  But, she felt lonely because the teen watched and didn’t play.  My daughter begged me to put her into preschool.  Begged me.  She said, “Please mom, I want to play with the other children!”

I had never heard of such a thing before that moment.

Then came child number two.  The energetic one.  The one who cried every time my office phone rang.  She required more personal attention.  She deserved personal attention.  In the math of our household, my income brought in less than my husband, so I made the sacrifice.

The sacrifice. 

That’s how I see it.  I made a sacrifice for my kids.  I liked the pluses and instant gratification I received in the work place.  Working project to project, we see success or failure instantly.  Getting a pay raise because of strong productivity might as well be our personal trophy for work done well.  We hear kudos from our fellow employees.  We gain confidence each time things work correctly.

Did I mention I was a pastor at the time?  A youth pastor.

I adore telling people about Jesus and helping make an eternal difference.  But a friend of mine gave me valuable perspective when my first child was born.  He called me up and said, “Congratulations on your new ministry.”

That’s how I view my kids.  They are my ministry. 

In simple terms, they are the only ministry I alone can do.  In work, employees come and go.  One accountant quits, another is found.  Even in ministry, one pastor leaves, another comes in.  No one is irreplaceable.  No one but parents.

My children trust me as their mom and no one else. I know this because I lost my father in a car accident and many men wanted to aid our family.  Many took me and my brother under their wing.  But none could replace my dad.

As a parent, I’m irreplaceable, and I answer to God for my choices.

“Fathers,do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (I know it says fathers, but moms we aren’t off the hook.  At the time, women didn’t read.)

So, here I sit at my computer seeking ways to strengthen and use the brain I’ve been given while hearing my girls play in our living room.  I’m here.  I’ll stop typing when they need me.  I play with them.  We talk about all aspects of life.

It is a hard job, but like Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, “It’s the hard that makes it great.  If it was easy everyone would do it.”

Why is it hard?

1.  I get no pay raise, even though I see success.

2.  It requires me to use skills, which don’t come naturally:  cleaning, cooking, peace making, society building (aka friend connector for my kids).

3.  Rarely is the expression “Thank you” used honestly. (except on Mother’s Day or my birthday)

4.  I often feel unheard and undervalued.

Why do it?

1.  It matters, on the micro and macro level.

2.  It shapes them.

3.  They need me.

4.  It reveals the depth of my love through my actions. 

If you can’t or aren’t staying at home, I pass no judgement.  This is my story, for better or worse.  In spite of my presence, things can still go wrong, and  I wonder what will get thrown back at me when they become adults.  But I can’t go there now, I have to be here.

I believe love isn’t just a word or a feeling, it’s an action we live.  While I know many parents express their love in multiple ways, this is how I live my love.

My choice today:

Actively love my family.

How about you?  How do you live your love?

 

Related articles:

What do Andre the Giant, pit bulls, and bees have in common?

From the days of Tri-X 400: Classic wrestling ...
Image via Wikipedia

In fifth grade, I stood 4 foot, 5 inches. One of my closest friends, Lorenda, grew well over 5 foot 7 inches. I spent nights at her home,we giggled together, played and even carpooled. I really loved spending time with her.

It was easy to forget she was the biggest girl in our school, because she was my friend. If other kids didn’t her, they might be intimidated.

The same could be said for Andre the Giant, pit bulls and bees.

Andre the Giant

He found the limelight as a wrestling superstar standing 7 feet tall and weighing 520 lbs. The mere mention of his name sent chills through his WWWF competitors. From 1971 through 1984, he remained undefeated. Today, he’s listed in the WWF Hall of Fame.

And yet, he’s also called the gentle giant. Across the internet, we find stories of how he loved to pay for dinner when he went to restaurants. People found him enchanting. In the bonus features found on The Princess Bride DVD, his costars share their admiration of the big guy. Robin Wright Penn told how he used his huge hand to help keep her warm on cold shooting days by placing it on top of her head like a hat.

You can read more stories of his gentleness on the official Andre the Giant website.

Pit bulls

by freedigitalphotos.net

Want a dog with an intimidating reputation? The pit bull stands alone.

Read the news and you’ll find pit bull stories of attacks on people and dog fighting. We associate them with fierce toughness.

But there’s a soft and tender side to this maligned bully.

According to www.DogBreedInfo.com,”The American Pit Bull Terrier is a good-natured, amusing, extremely loyal and affectionate family pet, which is good with children and adults.”

Bees

by freedigitalphoto.net

People fear bees or bee stings for multiple reasons: pain, allergy, unpredictability, etc.  For those
with a severe allergy, we’re talking life and death.

Stick one bee in a room, and you’ve found a great equalizer. Young and old, small or tall, skinny or muscled or fat, almost everyone jumps or
freaks out in some way if a bee lands on their arm.

But we need bees. If we want food, we want them and their pollen carrying legs working their hearts out daily.

Hundreds of plants need bee intervention to produce food. According to New Agriculturalist Online, “Bees pollinate about one-sixth of the world’s flowering plant species and some 400 of its agricultural plants.”

One of the owners of Bennett’s Honey Farm in Fillmore, Ca, Ann Bennett, shared with me how often they sting her. I felt shocked, but she confidently made me aware that it helped to build her immunity not just to stings but other things as well. It didn’t bother her a bit.

Like going to the doctor for our vaccinations, even the sting serves a value.

Because she enjoys her bees so much, located inside their little honey store sits a clear, glass panel exposing a real hive to any observational types. Visitors view the inner workings of the beehive with fascination. She knows that hive well and befriends it.

As a honey lover, I happily receive the gifts they give too.

What do these three have in common?

Reputation. The reasonable human being would feel fear if they found themselves face to face with any of those items listed above.

And yet, each of those items stands as a true friend to those who know them well. For the close friend,they bring joy, confidence, and beneficial return.

In the same way, I enjoyed being friends with Lorenda and forgot about the differences in our stature because of our friendship.

Why it matters

The same happens to lovers or fearers of God.

Some people who love God and have befriended Him have become so close to His beauty, they forget His power. Others catch glimpses of His power, but have no desire or understanding of how He longs to befriend them.

We see and know His power because of Bible verses like this:

“The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.” Nahum 1:5

or this:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” Proverbs 1:7

But we see and know His kindness and love because of verses like this:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 1 Corinthians 13:11

My choice today:

Embrace God as my friend, while recognizing and appreciating His strength.

What about you?  Are you a lover or fearer of God? When you think about Him, what aspects of His character do you most embrace?