Christian love

For me, love is one of the key ingredients to a happy, fulfilling life. Literature, movies, songs, and our world in general tends to focus solely on natural love, or eros. Natural love is that in which you feel for a spouse, a child, a sibling, a parent, a friend. It a love in response to the person, meaning that there is something about that person that elicits that feeling of love from you. It is easy to know when you have this type of love because you can feel it within and it is an effortless kind of love.

We all know that we are called to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” and that we “shall love your neighbor as yourself.” What happens when our neighbor makes it difficult to love them? What happens when they purposefully do and say things to hurt and attack you and your family? It becomes increasingly difficult to feel any love toward them, right? Or maybe it just becomes difficult to feel any natural love for them since their actions are doing nothing to elicit a response of natural love from you.agape

I met a woman through a family member and after some time I came to consider this woman a friend. We spoke often, spent time together, and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. After some time there were personal issues that arose between the woman and the family member that I had met her through. As the issues progressed the woman had a difficult time handling her emotions and due to the relationship I had with the family member that had introduced us she ultimately lashed out against myself and my family. The more this woman attacked, the harder it became for me to feel any love for her whatsoever. I sought counsel with a priest because I began to feel guilty for despising the actions of this woman that I once considered a friend. I told the priest that I knew I was supposed to love her because that is what the Lord has called us to do, but that I felt no love toward her anymore. The priest’s response is what forever changed my view of love.

Priest: Do you care about this woman’s salvation?

Me: Well, of course. I don’t want her to go to Hell, if that’s what you mean.

Priest: Then you do have a love for her. Loving her doesn’t mean that you have to get warm, fuzzy feelings when you think of her, nor does it mean that you have to be best friends and go to lunch. It means that you feel charitable toward her and that you still care about her soul and are willing to pray for her. If you have done these things, then you are fulfilling your obligation of Christian love for your brothers and sisters.

What the priest described was agape and I had never taken the time to truly understand the difference between eros and agape until it came in the form of a neon sign that was blinking in my own life. Jesus wants us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, but He also does not expect us to be a doormat. He does not expect us to subject ourselves to attacks from others just because we are called to “turn the other cheek.” Turning the other cheek simply means that when someone figuratively slaps you, you do not retaliate by slapping them back – you remove yourself from the situation and harbor no hate toward the person, but continue to show them agape, or supernatural, love. Agape.  The love that does not need to be drawn from you based on who the person is or something they have done, but is there because the person is a child of God and we know that all children of God are worthy and deserving of love.


Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons Curriculum

“We shouldn’t teach great books, we should teach a love of reading.” – B.F. Skinner

I believe it is important to instill a love of reading in our children and to teach reading skills at an early age. Before Magoo was ever born we had purchased over fifty second-hand books for her from flea markets, Goodwill, children’s resale shops, etc. Our child had her own mini-library before she ever took her first breath. The most important thing is that reading should be fun.

I have made a concentrated effort to read to Magoo every day since she was born, although life does happen and there have been days we have missed due to illness or things that have come up, but to this point our track record has been very good these past four years. I had to teach myself that it’s okay to be silly while reading aloud to her – to act out what I am reading, to make goofy faces, to really bring the story to life for her. It didn’t come as much of a surprise when last summer, at 3.5 years-old, Magoo asked me to show her how to read. Hm. Where do I start?

I began to research various curriculums and noticed that Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons seemed to receive mostly positive reviews. The curriculum builds reading skills with 100 “easy” lessons that take about 20 minutes each, using the DISTAR method. I ordered a gently used copy from eBay and upon it’s arrival we sat down at a table and dove right into the first lesson. Initially, I thought the book was rather dry and uninviting for a preschool aged child and was concerned that it would not hold Magoo’s interest. Then, it didn’t take long to realize that either A) the lessons weren’t as “easy” as promised, or B) Magoo wasn’t quite ready for the curriculum. We decided to shelve the book for awhile and return at a later date.

Magoo turned 4 years-old three weeks ago and last week I thought it might be a good idea to revisit the curriculum since she has recently started bringing books out on her own and “reading” them to her little brother. As it turns out, the lessons are easy if your child is ready to learn and the fact that the book is not chock-full of bright colors and illustrations really helps to keep Magoo focused on the work at hand.

The book begins with an 18-page parent’s guide and they urge you to follow the directions completely, but I have found that Magoo benefits more if I am somewhat flexible with the lessons. Sometimes we repeat things, sometimes we skip the portion of learning to write the letters (since we practice writing skills with other forms of curriculum), and sometimes I allow Magoo to get up and move in the middle of a lesson because she is a very energetic child and tends to be fidgety.

teach your child to read.jpg

Below is a video of Magoo and I doing lesson 4 yesterday.

Happy Reading!

Pesto & Gouda Cheesy Pasta

Magoo and I had a little fun in the kitchen this afternoon since her lunch request was “noodles I have never had.” So, we got creative. Miss M picked out the noodles (a half-package of wide egg noodles that we had leftover) and I selected our shredded smoked Gouda cheese that we had leftover from our Smoked Gouda and Granny Smith Apple grilled cheese. As usual, M’s choice for the sauce was pesto. The end result was the wonderfully smokey, almost bacon-y (we’re going to pretend that’s a word) Pesto & Gouda Cheesy Pasta. I loooooove when lunch is easy to make, doesn’t require a lot of ingredients (hey, that saves on the grocery bill!) and tastes delish! Give it a try and comment below to let us know what you think.

Pesto & Gouda Cheesy Pasta

Smoked Gouda & Granny Smith Apple Grilled Cheese

This evening I served my family what I consider to be the world’s best grilled cheese.

Smoked Gouda & Granny Smith apple grilled cheese.

My husband was put off by the ingredients, but there’s no denying the deliciousness once you try it.


The cast of characters

A loaf of pre-sliced French bread, shredded smoked gouda, granny smith apples, and butter are all you need to make these mouth-watering sandwiches. Could it be any easier?

I used my George Foreman grill, which made the sandwiches somewhat reminiscent of a panini. I buttered the French bread, sliced the apples thinly, and then placed one slice of bread on the grill, put apple slices on top, added a heaping pile of gouda, and finished with the second slice of bread before closing the lid on the George Foreman. The hardest part about making these sandwiches is having the patience to wait while they cook and then having to wait while they cool before you inhale one..or six.


I served ours with tomato soup and I added a little bit of gouda to my soup, which was delish!


Daughter, Do You Know Your Worth?

Daughter, Do You Know Your Worth?2016-03-11 09.27.13.jpg

Daughter, do you know your worth?
Prayers of thanksgiving were said the day of your birth.

Daughter, do you know you are favored?
A heritage from the Lord, Christ our Savior.

Daughter, do you know you are chosen?
God’s breath produces ice, causing broad waters to become frozen.

Daughter do you know you are loved?
A precious jewel, our perfect gift from above.

Beautiful daughter, fearfully and wonderfully made, you are the child for which we prayed.


© 2016 J.M. Harris, Circle City Mama