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May 12, 2016, 9:34 AM

The Love of God Changes How We Love

Last week was Mother's Day. It was great to get to go see Carrie's mom and my mom. Emory took each a couple of roses from our rose garden. We got to Carrie's mom first and Emory gave her that rose. The pink rose with double blooms really are very pretty, but not when you leave them in the car all afternoon on the hottest day of the year so far. My poor mom didn't get her rose. We left it in the car and it wilted. They looked like a rose puddle than rose petals. But, that got me to thinking.

My mom's best Mother's Day gift was a little cameo brooch. I don't recall it being an expensive looking piece of jewelry. I think it probably came from a yard sale or something. What made it special was that my mother received it from a little neighbor girl named Samantha. 

Samantha didn't have a mom. Actually, like so many kids today, she did have a mom; but that lady was not really a mother. Samantha was the same age as me. She lived with her dad, brother and sister just two doors down the road. The dad tried to do the best that he could. The bother was a lot to handle. Sometimes he would get angry and beat up the older sister. All of this lead to Samantha spending a lot of time at our house. We were friends until Katie came a long, then Samantha had a girl to play with. Samantha went to church with us every week. 

Samantha and her family moved away when we were still in grade school. I often wonder what happened to her and her family. Did they make it ok? Did all of those trips to church make a lasting impact on her life? It is impossible to know, but my mom still prays for her and wears that brooch on Mother's Day. 

The truth is, for my mom Samantha is one of many similar stories. The family that moved in to that house next had two sons. I was much more excited to have another boy in the neighborhood. Chad and I became good friends. Chad went to church with us each week. In fact, just about everywhere we have lived there has been a similar child or friend. But, I don't think any have been as touching for my mom as Samantha. 

The love of God changes how we love the people around us. For my parents, it opened their eyes to those children around them who needed an extra set of parents to love them. The love that they had experienced from God the Father drove them to extend open arms to a little neighborhood girl that they didn't have too. Looking back, this neighborhood girl was a part of the family that everyone probably wished would move away. They weren't the best kept neighbors. They weren't the quietest neighbors. And sometimes their family problems spilled out into the neighborhood. 

But, that is who we once were as sinners. We were the neighbor that ruined the neighborhood for everyone. In our helpless and unlovable state, Jesus stepped out of Heaven and went to the cross. He did so, so that we could be adopted as sons and daughters. He did so, so that we could experience the love of a Good Father.  That love should drive us to live different.  It should also drive us to love different. 

Love the unlovable ones. Love the broken ones. Love the ones that don't know how to love back.

That is who we were when God loved us first.  

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