Category Archives: soul food

the three-sixteen love life

It was probably the first verse you ever memorized by heart or scrawled in tightfisted crayon print at VBS. We’ve seen it numbered on a football player’s face and sometimes on a lettered sign in the stands.  In fact, it’s “common” enough that even many non-churched people seem to know at least a little something about John 3:16.

In 2008, Max Lucado published a book and study by this title proclaiming it as the Gospel in a nutshell. It’s all there.      I can’t disagree.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

It’s so familiar that  Believers can *almost* fly  past it without pausing to take it all  in. I know, because a few weeks ago it was tagged at the bottom of my daily devotional and I almost skipped it because, shoot– I know that one already. But something said “Go there.” so I read the whole chapter.

What jumped out of this oh-so-familiar and yet now-so-revolutionary little verse has stuck to the edges of my heart and mind like velcro. I saw a startling nugget of God-truth so huge and yet so power-packed small, I am still struck with wonder.

three-sixteen love life

Simple and yet complex, this verse stands like a beacon amongst it’s neighbor verses, anchored in their bedrock truth.  God loved the world. We learn how much and well as the reward for those who believe and the severe  consequences for those who choose not to. But this isn’t where I got snagged and pulled deeper.

It was Love.

What is it about this 4-letter word that causes us to stop and stare? We think we know what that little word means and yet coming from this place…from the very One who embodies, inhabits and expresses it to the fullest extent, what we see here is not the stuff of Hallmark or Hollywood.        Not at all.

Because THIS Love was different.
It gave.
It was sacrificial. 

 This Love bled and died and rose again so that we might be united with God in and through our belief in Him.  But there’s more.

It’s a past tense,  singular, done and sealed deal which immediately becomes the eternal present and future tense for all those who believe now….and those who will believe by the word of our testimonyThat’s where it got me.

We who believe become living expressions and manifestations of that John 3:16, sacrificial-love moment. 

God is loving the world through us–
the John 3:16 people.

  • Because He first loved us.
  • Because we are His here and now expression of that same love.
  • Because “they” will know we are Christians through expressing that same love.

Ok… maybe this isn’t earth shattering for you but it rocked my foundations a little bit more because I… well,  we…all of us just make this too hard. We miss it by watering down the definition of Christian love with the rest of the world because …sacrificial love just isn’t pretty, politically correct or comfortable.

We’d rather live the “best life now” illusion of “christianity”.. more appealing, attractive and…lordy..  RELEVANT to people today.  We want folks to like liking us enough to join us…at least join our churches.

Except…Jesus didn’t invite people to church. He invited them to be born anew–to take up a cross and follow Him in relationship.

That’s a rather sacrificial invitation.

What might a three-sixteen love life look like? Maybe….

  • It’s a family selling everything to move to India only to discover they “accidentally” moved their small children into a brothel…and they purposely choose to stay, live amongst those women and minister.
  • It’s a young woman with a broken heart for the broken feet of children, who commits her life to providing care and shoes for an entire community.
  • It’s a teacher spending long hours instructing disabled children at her school only to check in afterwards at the resource ministry she’s established to reach their families and community.

It’s an infinitely-faceted love with eternal implications expressed in innumerable ways.

It’s a lifestyle, a mentality, an automatic response flowing from the place of three-sixteen love which was first given to us. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night hungry for what was missing from his life of religion. It’s night in our world today.

Mass shootings,  violence against women and children,  corruption and scandal coming from once-trusted institutions…massive earthquakes, typhoons, church and marketplace bombings….              it’s so dark.

People are hungry for light.  

Of course…I’m blowing this wide open..maybe a little too wide but the truth is–John 3:16  was Jesus’ response to Nicodemus’ earnest question…”How?” In so many ways we’re living amongst a people maybe not asking it with words but their desperate actions are asking the same thing.


We who have believed according to the promise of John 3:16 are God’s answer to the world’s question…and

we need to live and love like we believe it

Glory bearers

Because here’s the thing: no matter what it is we’re called to do or where and how we’re called to serve, if it’s done right, it will look WEIRD to the outside world. Selling everything, sharing and breaking bread in community looked weird then and it’s no less weird now. But it’s also attractive if it’s done right.


Truly, I’ve been challenged  because  though I’ve served joyfully,  I’m guilty of playing it soft inside the perceived notion of “safe” Christianity which says “give, but live comfortably ….no need to make a scene.” 

Sometimes, I am overwhelmed because heck, I’m just one person and even with my willing husband we are only two. That’s where God steps in and multiplies our obedience right where we are taking the first step. Encouraging us to take the next and the next.

A “next step” is coming. We’ve been talking about what it might look like and how it could unfold in these next years as the last kiddo takes flight and the homeschool years come to a close. Not exactly sure what that will look like but we’re certain of at least 3 things:

  1. We want to serve God and grow old together (emphasis on the “grow”).
  2. God will guide and provide.
  3. There is no more joyful or safer place than doing His will.

In the meantime, we’ll be blooming where we’re planted for this season….and living and sharing with others a life as close to three-sixteen as we can.

What about you?   What is God teaching you about having a sacrificial love life?

Joyfully!Lorretta signature


members only

High school.
The Eighties.

Not sure what these phrases conjure up for you… maybe nothing unless you’re playing Apples to Apples,  but me? I’m walloped with a bundle of emotions both good and bad.

 The Eighties…were well… the eighties.

Scan 2The “Brat pack” was all the rage and we were eating with the Breakfast Club trying to catch a spark off  St. Elmo’s fire. The tide was high and the only thing higher was the curly permed hair on our heads courtesy of Vidal Sassoon.

If you enjoy the ease and use of mousse, gel, hot rollers and other implements of style construction, thank an eighties girl–we were the hair product guinea pigs. You’re welcome.

High school.

For some, this pair of words releases a feeling of warmth and nostalgia. Remembrances of Friday night football, Student government, Beta Club, pep rallies, going steady. Ahhh.

For others…like me, it’s not the brightest star on your constellation map. Don’t get me wrong, I had some good moments but for the most part, I was the poster child for awkward. Gag me with a spoon.

Freshman year was the beginning of a new season in my life which, certainly had to be better than anything I’d known before.  ANYTHING.   Only a few months earlier, a Greyhound had delivered me unto the rolling hills and red clay of North Georgia and what I hoped would be my promised land. I wasted no time in shaking off the dust of my New Jersey hell.

Please pass that milk and honey. Thankyouverymuch.

A fresh start  in a new place I’d never been before with people I’d never met. No preconceived notions or history– I could be whoever I wanted to be. I’d put on my cutest Molly Ringwald smile, be super-charming and smart and nice and make friends right away. And they. would. LOVE me.  I was ready for this.  At least I thought so.

 Shell shocked. That’s the only way to describe my state of mind. I quickly learned the only thing worse than being the new kid was being a “yankee”.  And apparently I talked funnier than they did. Then there was the problem of wardrobe. Most everything I’d owned had to be left behind in our escape and my mother couldn’t afford much on our Family Dollar and yard sale budget.

 But I was determined to find a way into the hearts of all these people who were going to be my new best friends but simply didn’t know it yet. Street smart and not easily bullied, 

I… had a plan.

 After studying this new culture, I saved all my babysitting money for the two things I KNEW were going to put me on their radar: a pair of Jordache jeans, and the ever-coveted,

Member’s. Only. jacket. Yes.134058L

 I begged my mother for days before she finally gave in and took me to the Clothes Horse boutique where I selected my designer jeans and a Member’s Only jacket in  the most glorious shade of 80’s mauve you’ve ever seen. I was, no doubt, like, radical.


 I think I really expected  the cosmos was going to shift in my favor that day.  Certainly,  I was about to be invited into that place of ultimate grace: the Members Only Club. I’m pretty sure nobody noticed. And I  learned…there was no Member’s Only club. You were either “in” or not.  I was not.  I don’t know who made the rules but it wasn’t about to change for me no matter what  I wore. Sad days.

I’d like to tell you that this place and my behavior was just a blip on the screen for me… a season only lasting a short while. I’m disgusted to admit , at 44, I’ve only recently crawled out of this pitiful place of image and performance-based acceptance and people pleasing. 

The game changer came
when I simply stopped playing the game.


I wish it had been my choice..that I’d simply said ‘to hell with it’,  took my ball and went home. No, God let me spin out in this place until I finally recognized the truth of who I really am, what I really need and the only One who can meet that need, Jesus. 

In all fairness, I really did have a need. We all do. We were made for relationship.  I really did need love and approval and to know my identity and worth as a person. Sadly, this should have come from a stability found in a loving family and rooted in the love of God. But that was a foreign concept all the way around.

It would take many years for God to convince me to totally (not partially) release my grip on what I thought was love and “success”, so he could place in my hand the everlasting treasures of His love, acceptance and the freedom to be who He made me to be….not like ANYone else, but the made-in-His-image ME.

As Beth Moore points out in her study Breaking Free, the well was REALLY deep but my Savior went out of His way to meet me there.

I learned He is the one I’d been searching for.
He found me, I found Him, I found me
and I am a healed.

 Because of this, I have a heart to minister to and with  the made-in-His-image YOU. The great gift God has given me through His filling of what was lacking is the ability to see and embrace others who may be struggling in those same areas. If that’s you, I have a message for you:

you belong.

The Comfort of Friendship

You don’t have anything to prove and I don’t care what you wear. It’s not at all about what you can do for me or what I can do for you…it’s about what God wants to do for and through US….together.

 So maybe you feel you’re on the outside looking in everywhere you go. You’re beginning to sell your soul to the devil,  scrambling over walls, knocking on doors, peeking through windows just begging to be let inside where you think it’s all happening without you.

Stop. Just stop.

Because that’s IT. We exist to glorify God and champion one another…. to lift one another up as we go. It’s where we make a difference in life… as members of the Body….the true “Member’s Only” club.  So…c’mon in! You’re invited! I saved you a seat,  no jacket required. 

Like Totally Yours Truly,Lorretta signature



from pole to pole


Bleary-eyed and barely awake, I slide out of bed at  what *feels* like the crack of dark.  I’m trying to check my frame of reference for the day ahead… to focus. Suddenly  I’m reminded of the promise I’d made the night  before to take my son to the “See you at the Pole” event hosted by a school in our community. It’s the first time for both of us but he’d asked and I’d agreed.

Let’s roll.

In full scum-bunny fashion, I grab what clothes I can find. Unwashed face and hair barely tamed by the bandana I found on the floor, I don a sweater against the early morning autumn chill. 

Coffee, keys, door, car. go.From Pole to Pole

Let me tell you more…