love YOUR NEIGHBOR as yourself

Love is in the air, or so they say.  Heart shape balloons line the shop windows, couples are getting ready to celebrate—everyone’s showing love to others. That’s the idea anyways.

One famous thing Jesus said, a phrase that’s been said many times, in many ways, “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:32) While we’re busy showing love to our neighbors, the one person we forget to love is ourself. See, the first thing we hear in that verse is, “love your neighbor,” and that’s what we try to practice. That’s we take away from that verse and that’s what we tell others. But take a look at that last part, “as yourself.”

How many people can look in the mirror and say, “I love who I am?”

Paul says in Ephesians chapter five verse twenty-nine, “no one ever hated his own flesh.” I don’t know what people were like in Paul’s days, but these days, people can hate themselves more than they ever thought possible. Sometimes this comes from something we’ve done, other times it comes from something someone said. But we hate ourselves. We despise ourselves so much that we torture ourselves. Not only do we physically hurt ourselves, but we beat ourselves up with the most hateful words. We repeatedly tell ourselves a lie, until we forget that the truth ever existed and we live the lie. We may treat others in way so they won’t become our enemy, but we treat ourselves so that our own mind becomes our biggest enemy.

In Genesis chapter one verse twenty-seven Moses says, “God created man in His own image.” If we were created in the image of God, who are we despising more, ourselves or the creator who designed us?

 We are not perfect like God, but He thought His creation, our body and personality, was perfect when He created it. The things I just mentioned are fairly deep. They’re real problems, living in real people. But not all self-hatred runs that deep.

Self-hatred can sneak up on a person anytime, anywhere, and it can stay for five minutes, then it disappears. That happens to me a lot. Some self-hatred hovers over your mind, it doesn’t run deep, but it’s there. Every time someone complements you; every time someone speaks kindly of you. It’s not that you don’t appreciate it, it’s that you don’t believe it. If you accepted their complement, if you believed their kind words, then you would be praising yourself. You’d be unhumble. You don’t know if you’re all those great things someone says about you, but one thing you know you’re not, is self-centered. Bratty people are self-centered and you’re not a brat.

That’s the thing, a lot of times people who are confident in themselves are considered bratty. Most of the time, the word “brat” is aimed at a teenage girl, but it can go either way. Both females and males of all ages can be considered self-centered. But there’s a difference between being a brat, and loving the person God created: you. God premiered a marvelous design when you entered the world. He didn’t design a self-centered, careless person, He designed a person with humility, respect, and gratitude. For you are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

If someone’s complementing you, then they’re taking the time to show love to you. If someone noticed your way of life and they’re sharing their admiration, then they’ve taken the time to notice your true personality. They’ve taken time to spend with you and show you love. Others love you, they are showing love to you, like you are showing love to others. You are their “other.” Take the love their giving to you and love yourself. Accept the love that the Lord gives you every single day, and love the person He created you to be. You are loved, and because of that, you have the strength to love yourself.

 In that verse (Ephesians 5:29) Paul also says, “they feed and care for their body.” We should care for a body God created, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

This Valentine’s Day set aside the self-abuse, shove the hateful thoughts away, accept the love from others, and love the person God made you to be: you. He made you to be you. In his eyes you were made perfectly and He wants you to be who He created you to be. If you do nothing this Valentine’s Day, if you do nothing besides remember that God’s love matters above all other love, then you’ve celebrated the best way you ever could. His love glows within your heart, and it’s enabling you to love the person you see in the mirror.

Wherever you are today, I pray you know the feeling of love.

Until next time,

Maria Friesen

Quick, before I leave, I wanted to remind you guys that my second book, The Mission, is out now on Amazon. You can check out my website to learn more about it or go to Amazon to order a copy now. If you do read it, let me know what you think. I always appreciate hearing from you guys. About both my books and my blog posts. 😀

*all Bible verses in this article are from the NIV*

Sebrina vs. April: May the Best Sister Win (Final Part)

Sebrina poured the last bit of coffee from her mug into her mouth. After she set the mug by the sink, she sat down by the table and wrote down phone numbers. Once opening day at the store would pass, her life might slow down again, but right now she needed all her focus on the store to make sure she wouldn’t relive the chicken feed disaster. She needed to prove to Celeb that she knew what she was doing. Otherwise, he might never trust her again.

He hadn’t mentioned the disaster since the day it happened, but she felt his mistrust every time she wanted to do something on her own. And if they were going to run a successful business, they needed to trust each other with “the business.”

“How’s the party planning going?” April dragged her fuzzy slippers across the kitchen floor, her eyes half closed.

“I only have one more day and I still have to confirm everything with the chef. And the dining area isn’t even set up yet. I don’t know why Celeb decided to add a dining area. It’ll take up half the feed store.”

“Because it’ll bring in extra business. Instead of letting the tiny kitchen go to waste, he decided to make some money off of it.”

“Landon never used the kitchen,” Sebrina said as she scanned over her notes.

“Maybe that’s why he went bankrupted.” April placed a bowl and a box of cereal in front of Sebrina. She carried the milk and a spoon to the table and plopped down.

Sebrina shrugged. Celeb had a good head on his shoulders. With him, she knew the business would succeed. She closed her laptop and set her notebook on top of it. She studied her sister.

“How come you haven’t left yet?”

“Have you looked at the time?” April stared at Sebrina. “It’s early.”

Sebrina studied the clock on the wall: 6:45 a.m. When had she gotten up? No wonder her eye lids felt like they might shut any minute. But with an extra cup of coffee she should be set . . . until mid-afternoon. If she didn’t have time for a nap, she’d drink another cup of coffee. Now that she owned half the store, she not only got her favorite coffee again, she could drink it whenever she wanted to.

“Have you talked to Celeb yet?”

“About what?” Sebrina retrieved a pair of flats from the coat closet.

“Your date. Have you apologized yet?”

Sebrina nodded as she flicked her hair out of her face. “No. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him.”

Sebrina left the kitchen to get her bag from her room. When she came back, April stood in front of the sink, drying her hands. “I thought you really liked him?”

“I do.” Even talking to Celeb about their store made her happy. His smile still made her melt and a slight brush against his arm made her body tingle. But she hadn’t talked to him. She’d had opportunities, she didn’t know why she hadn’t taken advantage of them. If she didn’t apologize soon, he might forget about her and move on.

“So, what’s stopping you?”

Sebrina placed her notebook in her bag and swung the bag over her shoulder. She focused on her sister and answered, “I don’t know.” Then she turned toward the door.

“Where are you going? It’s to early to work, nothing’s open yet.” April yelled after Sebrina as she walked through the doorway.

Standing on the porch, holding the door slightly open, Sebrina heard April say, “She’s turning into me.”

Sebrina quietly closed the door, smiling to herself.


Celeb set the boxes of water down in the dining area. Tables and chairs stood in one corner of the feed store, with homemade menus placed in the middle of the table. Sebrina’s voice came from the kitchen as she directed the chef. He’d put her in charge of arranging the kitchen and supplying it with the needed food and cookware. They couldn’t afford a full-blown restaurant, but they could offer BLT’s, burritos, burgers and several soft drinks. It was a start. Maybe one day they could add on to the kitchen and hire a real chef with real food.

Sebrina backed out of the kitchen and turned behind the counter, holding a bin of silverware. She set the silverware on the counter and walked around to the bar stools.

Celeb slid his hands in his pockets and walked toward Sebrina. “Hi.” He stood beside her, studying her focused expression.

She finished wrapping a napkin around a fork and knife, then looked up at Celeb, smiling. “Hi.”

Celeb returned the smile and pulled his hands out of his pockets. “How’s the planning coming along?”

“Good! April’s coming in about,” Sebrina checked the time, “twelve minutes to set up the mike and stage.”

“April has stage equipment?” Celeb asked, ignoring the reason he wanted to talk to her.

“Yeah,” Sebrina nodded, “she knows a guy.”

“Oh.” He nodded and began rocking in his shoes. He needed to say what he came to say.

He focused on Sebrina and nearly forgot what he wanted to say. “Sebrina I—”

Her phone rang and she asked him to wait while she took the phone call. He had to apologize to Sebrina about the other night. He’d acted like a spoiled kid who hadn’t gotten what he wanted. Sebrina might be moody, but what girl wasn’t. If he was going to deal with a girl’s moodiness then it was going to be Sebrina’s.

“Celeb.” A cry came from out the feed store. “Some help please?” In front of the store April stood behind a pickup truck, balancing a speaker on the tailgate.

Celeb strode to the door and walked out.


“Have you talked to Celeb yet?” April stood beside Sebrina, bobbing her head to the cover band on the stage.

“No, I will yet, once everyone’s settled in.” Sebrina took a deep breath, then let it go. Tightening her grip on her solo cup.

“Everyone is settled in. Look around, the night’s a hit.” April scanned the crowd in the street. “And all on a low budget.” April tapped Sebrina’s arm.

Sebrina nodded. She did good. A quarter of the town showed up, one singer after the other performed. Children enjoyed popcorn and cotton candy, while the adults gulped down burgers. She’d even managed to have officer Holden close the street in front of the store. Which gave them the perfect place for a party. She’d manage to pull off one night. Now, if she could pull off running the store for the rest of her life.

April nudged Sebrina’s arm and Sebrina was about to ask her to stop, until she saw who April was motioning toward. “Talk to him.”

Celeb stood in front of the window, scanning over the crowd. He’d spruced up his usual blue jeans with a snap shirt. When he noticed she was watching him, he smiled and motioned with his head for to join him.

Sebrina glanced at the asphalt, then walked around the crowd, toward Celeb.

“It’s a great turn out,” Celeb said once Sebrina settled in beside him.

“Yeah, I hope they’ll come back after tonight.” Sebrina took a sip from her coke.

“They will.” Celeb faced her. Sebrina looked into his eyes and a tingling rush shot through her body. “I would.”

What did he say? Sebrina looked at her cup and recalculated her brain. She needed to pull it together, she had something to say before she lost the courage.

She lifted her head and focused on him. “Celeb I—what did you say?”

Celeb chuckled. “You go first.”

“No.” Sebrina shook her head.

Celeb nodded and wiped the smile off his face. “I’m sorry for the way I acted at our dinner last week. It was impolite,” Celeb added, “and immature.”

A load fell off Sebrina’s shoulders. Now she didn’t have to go first. “I’m sorry. I was the one attacking you, saying one rude thing after the other.”

“I guess we’re both sorry.”

Sebrina nodded. “I’m sorry for the way I treated you in high school.” They stared at each other as they finished their sentence simultaneously.

A light chuckle escaped their lips.

“Could we start over?” Celeb asked, reaching for her hand.

Without thinking, Sebrina folded her fingers between Celebs. After a few seconds, she removed her hand. She shook her head. “We’re business partners, what if we start acting childish again and end up hating each other? How are we going to run our business then?”

Celeb shrugged and straightened his back against the window. “Acting childish isn’t all bad.”

“You know what I mean.”

Celeb focused on Sebrina, his expression serious, and his eyes full of love. “We’ll figure it out.”

Sebrina smiled and took a sip from her coke. She’d made a smart move when she partnered with this man. She faced Celeb, smiling. Then she kissed his cheek. When she leaned back, Celeb snuck a quick kiss from her lips. Aware of the crowd, they smiled at each other, and scanned over the people in front of them.

“We just let the whole town know that the store owner’s dating his business partner.”

Sebrina grabbed Celeb’s hand. “Just smile.”

She felt Celeb smiling at her and she returned the expression. She couldn’t have thought of a better way to open the new chapter in her life.



The End.