Tag Archive | love

Unconditional Love

What is unconditional love?

“The measure of love is to love without measure.” Saint Augustine

What is unconditional love? Exactly what it sounds like, love without condition. We cannot truly love if we place conditions upon our giving of it. I’m not certain as human beings we are completely capable of embracing the concept of unconditional love in its truest and purest form, in my heart I believe we can come close.

I know without a doubt I am loved unconditionally by my Heavenly Father, and I return such love in faith. I am loved without condition by the ones who gave me life and by the ones I have given life to. I’ve felt the power of love; I have seen it and I have been blessed with it.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it his not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Mother Theresa said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” It seems to be a part of human nature to judge our fellow man based on nothing more than learned ignorance without regard to reason. While this may not be true for all, it is the unfortunate reality of many. Perhaps those who place conditions upon their love and acceptance of others were never given this gift of powerful and consuming love, and in turn, do not know how to give it.

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” Martin Luther King, Jr..

In their most basic definitions, we take these two words, which together symbolize one of God’s greatest gifts, and we can see the simplistic beauty they create when combined; unconditional love truly means love without condition.

Unconditional: Adj. – Not limited by conditions; absolute.

Love: Noun – There are many definitions pertaining to the word love, among them are . . .

– A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

– A feeling of warm, personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child or friend.

– The benevolent affection of God for his creatures, or the reverent affection due from them to God.

Unconditional love is the purest of love; it is the truest of love.

It is the love our Lord has for us, the love we carry for him.

Unconditional love is the expectant mother, who without thinking, places her hand upon her growing belly to caress the new life growing within her.

Unconditional love is the father with trembling hands, cradling his newborn babe in the tender warmth of his arms.

Unconditional love is the crying baby, soothed by a mothers soft song.

Unconditional love is sitting by the bedside of someone you love, letting them know it’s okay to let go.

Unconditional love is the butterflies stirring in your heart when that special someone reaches for your hand.

It is a shoulder to cry on, it is forgetting and forgiving.

It is allowing for a mistake now and then.

It is faith, belief, and hope.

It is not expectant, asks for nothing in return and lasts forever.

Unconditional love is a gift worthy to be given and a blessing to receive.

Luciano de Crescenzo whispered beautifully profound words when he said, “We are each of us angels with only one wing; and we can only fly by embracing one another.”

Crystal R. Cook

Innocent Embrace

Innocent Embrace

The warmth of his hand
softly covers mine
our fingers embrace
as our souls intertwine

Our hands become one
forged in passions fire
strong as steel
soft as desire

Loves innocent touch
sets my heart to race
when his hand covers mine
and our fingers embrace

Crystal R. Cook

*Image by Tony Hutchings on Getty Images

The Heart of a Woman or An Open Letter To the Men of the World.

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It’s no secret women mystify, confuse and excite men. It’s no secret a woman can turn a man into a clueless mountain of mush. It seems to be a secret among men however, that they are not entirely powerless in the battle between the sexes.

This is an open letter to the men of the world . . . You will be reading about women. Now before you get excited, I must tell you, it’s about feelings, expectations, needs, and desires. Things you need to know.

A woman is fragile. No matter how strong they are in the face of the world, deep inside they are still the little girls who believe in true love, fairy tales and happily ever afters. They can hurt so deeply they feel they will be lost in the pain and they can love so much they will sacrifice their dreams for the sake of it.

A woman longs to be held when she cries, or at the very least have her feelings acknowledged. To turn your back on her tears is to turn your back on her heart. A woman desires compassion and understanding. She craves kindness and needs encouragement. Without these things she begins to build a wall with the broken pieces of her heart.

Self esteem doesn’t come naturally to most women, it needs to be planted and cared for. It needs to be nurtured with a compliment every now and then. Without proper care it will wither away. To a woman, love is more than words. Love is more than existing together. Emotional intimacy fulfills them.

Watching a father play with his children fills her heart, listening to him read them a story brings her warmth. Holding her hand while you watch the television or saying I love you for no reason other than you do can bring tears to her eyes. Asking her if she could use a helping hand when she is elbow deep in dishwater might make her heart skip a beat.

When she says she’s tired believe her, when she says she’s frustrated don’t take it personally. If you are the source of her frustration, take steps to relieve it. Know without you her heart would no longer beat the same. When her day has been too much to bear and her mood is at odds with you, be calm and attempt understanding, especially when you don’t understand.

A woman gives more than she has to her family. She spends every moment thinking of them and caring for them, putting herself last. It’s your job to put her first and make sure she has what she may sometimes deprive herself of. She would give her life to do the same for you.

A man must fulfill the emotional needs of a woman or her flames of passion will smolder and cease to burn. If at first mornings light she wakes with your arms around her, she’ll long to feel them once more when the sun again sets.

It doesn’t take much to free the butterflies stirring within her soul, a scribbled note on the table, ‘I’ll miss you today.’, can make her spirits soar. If you look into her eyes every now and then, you can see her devotion. If you hold her close you can feel it with every beat of her heart.

A woman gives, and when she receives, she gives all the more. Bad days are inevitable. Disagreements and opposed opinions are natural. Giving them voice for too long is not. Women desire communication, pieces of them cease to exist without it. They need a connection, they need to know without a doubt your hearts beat as one.

They need to hear it, see it and feel it. A man cannot assume a woman knows how they feel simply because they spoke vows once upon a time and he is present in the home. She needs to be reassured and reminded or her light will begin to dim.

A man will never hold anything more fragile and precious than the heart of a woman.

The End of Her Pain

The End of Her Pain

Going through more old files I came across this one . . . It’s filled with a wee bit of affectation, but I was fifteen when I wrote it, I vaguely remember it being a writing assignment. 

The End of Her Pain

Her weapon of choice was words. Words forged from the icy steel of her anger. She stared quietly at him, through him. He felt uncomfortable and vulnerable as her eyes penetrated deep into his soul. She spoke not, simply let her eyes talk in the absence of voice.

The biting silence was nearly enough to tear him apart. He felt his hands trembling as anxiety began to blanket the air about him. It seemed an eternity had passed before he felt the sting of her first blow.

“I can no longer bear the torment of what you call love.” she finally spoke and he felt he’d been struck so hard he should fall from the force it.

“I no longer wish to be shackled in the prison of your heart,” as the words darted from her lips his pulse quickened, confusion and anger wrestled within him. “The cold and darkness of it has dulled my senses and robbed my soul of peace.” Her monotone voice made him uneasy in his own skin.

He searched for words of his own to defend himself, no words would lend themselves to his desperation. His pleading eyes looked to hers for mercy but found none. She remained unstirred and unmoved by his obvious plight. If anything, she revelled in it.

A flurry of questions raged within him. Had he turned this sweet soul so sour and bitter? What had he done to deserve such an attack? His mind raced for the answers he longed for. The answers did come, for the first time it was clear to him. As his smug arrogance began to fade from the reality of her pain, he realized what he had not done for her was the abuse she’d endured for so long.

Always he had thought wounds were made with anger and harsh words, or the pounding of a fist. Now, in his memories, he so clearly recalls all he had chosen to ignore in the past. He sadly sits and thinks of how her lovely smile would fade when he dismissed her dreams. He saw for the first time the many tears that had fallen as he turned from her in times of need. He felt guilt for all the times everything else had been more important than her.

In his newfound clarity of mind he knew the damage he had done. Years of neglect and selfishness had left far worse a wound than any weapon could have delivered. He wanted redemption. He wanted to fall to his knees and beg for her forgiveness, but his arrogant pride had not yet been fully broken, he couldn’t bring himself to do the only thing that could end this torment.

She looked into his eyes and knew she did not have to speak another word. She could plainly see in his desperation she had bruised him, but as she turned to walk away from him, forever, she simply said, “I hope you find happiness.”

As the distance between them grew they both knew he never would. She’d made sure of that. Somehow her words had changed him, he now felt unworthy of happiness. He’d taken his chance and tossed it foolishly aside in the blind assumption he could do no wrong.

He’d taken her love for granted. When the petals of her love began to wither and fall he crushed them beneath his feet. He could have saved the beautiful flower of her love, he could have quenched her thirst and filled her world with light, but he didn’t. He left her to wilt in his shadow and now, nothing would ever grow where she’d once been.

She felt the slightest twinge of pity for him, knowing the misery she’d left him to. He would forever walk alone with his thoughts of what was, what could have been, and what will never be. As she raised her eyes toward the sun, taking in the warmth of it once again, she knew her pain and sorrow was forever ended and his had only just begun.

Crystal R. Cook 1985

 

You are . . .

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You are today
as you were
yesterday
and will be
in the days
yet to come
my love
my life
my dreams
and my
anchor

You are my
every hope
for the
future
and my
fondest
memories
of the past

You are my
every sunrise
and every
wish I’ve
softly wished

You are the
answer to
many prayers
whispered
through
lonely tears

You are
the keeper
of my heart
for now
and for
always
my love

Crystal R. Cook 2001

I knew then . . .

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I remember laying
in the grass with you,
silently watching
the clouds.
We were still young,
innocent enough
to see the playful
shapes hidden
within them.
Our blanket was not
the grass green
from my childhood
color box,
it was not lush
and soft.
The sparse,
dry blades
sharply jutted up
between tiny,
wilting weeds.
My skin ached
where it touched
the prickly surface
of the earth,
but I did
not complain
because I was
with you.
When you
beckoned
for me to
snuggle in
close and rest
my head on your
sleeveless arm,
safe from the
discomfort below,
I knew that you
loved me then.

Crystal R. Cook

Thank you, Mom

Four times a year, I celebrate the birth of a child. Four times a year, I jokingly say I should be the one getting presents and cake and adoration, after all, I did do all the hard work on those celebratory days in our family history. The most joyous days of my life were spent in agonizing pain, pure physical torture, really.

Don’t get me wrong, despite the unbelievable, indescribable, thought it was never going to end, pain, I look back on those seemingly endless hours of labor with happiness and pride. Those were the greatest days of my life. I look forward to celebrating the day each of my children made their grand entrance into the world, I just happen to think good ole mom should get a pat or two on the back as well.

With that being said, I want to thank my mother. Today is my birthday. Today is the day she used every ounce of strength and love within her to give me the gift of life. Today is the day she became a mother. Her entire life changed and she embraced her new identity. When she held me in her arms, the pain she’d endured faded into memory. I wish I could remember the first moment our eyes met. I cherish my mother.

Today, I celebrate her . . .

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The 44th Chapter

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“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung

Tomorrow I celebrate the turning of yet another page in the story of me. When I awake, my first thoughts of the new day will be the opening lines of my 44th chapter.

Birthdays always seem to be a good time for reflection, I tend to think of all the joys, sorrows, triumphs, and tribulations that filled the last 365 days of my life. Today, I find myself pondering the many things I’ve learned throughout my life thus far.

I’ve learned life is an ongoing process of discovery. Knowledge and exploration of all things emotional, spiritual, and intellectual transform the playground of youth. When I was a little girl, I thought once you reached whatever age it was you became a grown-up, everything you needed to know in life would somehow be revealed. What I learned, was you never reach some magical age when you know all there is to know. If anything, you need to know more and more as the years pass by.

I’ve learned each day is filled with challenges and twists and turns, I’ve learned there is no easy way to navigate through the labyrinth of life. Through trial and error we find new truths, we gain wisdom through experience, in turn we continue to grow and evolve into the person we will be when tomorrow comes.

I’ve learned it’s okay to make mistakes as long as we find the lesson in each one. I’ve learned it’s okay to fall as long as we pull ourselves back up, as a matter of fact; I realized we need to fall in order to learn how to stand.

There was a time in my life I thought I could do it all on my own, I thought I was supposed to. I’ve since learned it’s okay to ask for help. I now know there isn’t one among us who can live a full life without the aid and support of those around them. I must admit I still struggle at times, I’ve not yet learned to ask for help often enough, I’ve not yet learned how to fully accept it when it’s offered. Sometimes the learning process is long; perhaps this is why God gave us an entire lifetime to study.

I’ve learned to listen and to learn from listening. I’ve learned strength can be gentle. I’ve figured out being strong doesn’t mean putting up a wall, while it may keep the unwanted out at times, it isn’t impenetrable and too often it keeps out the good we need to keep our hearts from breaking. I’ve learned love is real and wonderful and deserving of both giving and receiving. Love is something you give and accept without condition.

Growing older has only brought me closer to the values and morals my parents worked so hard to instill within me. Faith, character, honesty, integrity, and humble pride are important companions as you travel through life. Without a road map, it can be hard to know just which way to turn when the paths are many, these are but a few life lessons which serve to provide the direction you need to reach your ultimate destination.

Every action we take impacts the way our future will unfold. What may seem to be nothing more than a shiny pebble in the road can become a mountain we must one day climb if we choose to pick it up and put it in our pocket instead of passing by. The pebble may be a moment of weakness, one wrong choice, one opportunity missed. Things in life are not always what they seem. That one little pebble may be the heaviest burden you will ever carry.

I’ve learned time is precious and fleeting. I’ve learned children grow much too fast, every moment must be treasured and used to teach and love and nurture them so they know how to pass those pebbles by when they come to them.

I’ve learned sleep is a gift, hugs are essential and respect is more than powerful, it must first be given if you expect to receive it. I’ve learned sometimes tomorrow doesn’t come and every hour of every day counts. I’ve learned sometimes the faster you try to get somewhere the harder it can be to get where you want to go.

I’ve learned not to let go of hopes and dreams, not to forget what it was like to be a child and to let the child still inside you come out to play. I’ve learned we must let go of anger or it will control us and eventually destroy us. I’ve learned there is no room for love in a heart filled with prejudice and hate. I’ve learned to give when you can and help when you should. Sometimes the impossible is possible and what seems so easy can be the most difficult. Simplicity can be complex and complexity can be simple.

Parents are gifts to be treasured and honored and revered. Grandparents are angels in waiting and when they hold you in their arms you can feel their wings wrapped around you in comforting warmth. I’ve learned never to miss a chance to say I love you or I’m proud of you or I miss you and need you.

I’ve learned sometimes we get second chances, but we should always try to get things right the first time. Failure is not optional, it is inevitable and it is a great teacher. Worry is wasteful, anger is unproductive and disappointment is fleeting. I’ve learned you must accept yourself if you wish others to accept you.

I’ve learned God is good and real and miracles happen and the only unanswered prayers are the ones never meant to be. I’ve learned faith truly can move mountains, angels exist and heaven awaits those who believe. I’ve learned acceptance is one of the greatest gifts you can give to another and I have learned ignorance can be contagious and we are the only cure. I’ve learned God truly is pure and perfect love.

I’ve learned I still have so very much to learn . . .

Crystal R. Cook

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” – Epictetus

He deserves better than two-ply.

We no longer have little kids to fill Father’s Day with fun and laughter, so we make our own . . . happy Father’s Day my dear husband, I am still looking for the three-ply.

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I don’t know how to break this to you . . . But I got issued a National Defense Medal. I’m kind of a big deal . . .

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The Chinese Bamboo Tree ~ A lesson of love and patience.

I ran across something I wrote quite some time ago, when my oldest was around 18. My intent was to bring hope and encouragement to those who work so very hard, wondering if and when they will ever see the fruits of their labor. I was thinking of my fellow autism mommies as I penned the words, but now, as I read them again, I see they can be suited for just about anything in our lives.

I suppose it’s really about never giving up, even when it looks like we are working in vain . . .

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All children are unique; they learn and grow at their own pace. Almost 25 years ago, a seed was planted, a new life. My son. I was told he would never reach the heights other children would. I cared for him, nurtured and taught him, just as I would had I not been told such a thing. Today, he stands tall and proud. While others said my efforts were in vain, I was cultivating and tending to the growth that would sustain him throughout his life.

When his brother was born I faced even more challenges, and while tending to my garden I learned many, many lessons. Thinking upon all they have taught me, I am reminded of something so simple in its complexity, the Chinese bamboo tree. They say bamboo is one of the strongest of trees. It seems hard to believe when you look at it. Tall and skinny, easily bent – but not broken, the Chinese bamboo tree is an amazing thing.

Once you plant the tiny seed it doesn’t take long before you see growth sprouting through the damp earth amongst the other trees and plants surrounding it.

It requires care as all plants do. After quite some time passes, you notice everything else has grown and blossomed and the tiny bamboo seed you carefully placed beneath the soil, the one supposed to become so tall and strong, doesn’t seem to have grown much at all. It shows no signs of becoming the hearty bamboo you expected it to be. Of course you still care for it and nurture it because it was your seed, you planted it. Sometimes though, you doubt this fledgling tree will become what you hoped it would one day be.

Then comes a time when you finally see the growth you’d been hoping for and quickly it reaches the grand height of eighty feet. It is strong and you are proud. Those who had doubted and made light of your long suffering faith in that one little seed are astounded. While the seeds they planted grew quickly and bloomed with great beauty, they were not as strong and stately as your bamboo.

While they basked in the success of their gardens and you toiled in yours, an intricate root system was forming beneath the surface. Years of unseen growth and progress resulted in a strong foundation, strong enough to hold the bamboo that would stand tallest among the rest.

Sometimes, we don’t always see the fruits of our labor. Sometimes we wonder if everything we do matters, if all our hard work will make a difference. It’s easy to become discouraged when you don’t see results and change and progress, but you have to remember, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Our children are like that bamboo tree. Their growth is often slow, but we keep doing what we do every day. We tire and we grow weak, but even though doubt tries to steal away with our hope, we continue to nurture and care for them.

We may not see the results of our labor for many years, sometimes we need to be reminded that while we are above the surface hard at work, there is a foundation of strength and knowledge being built below us and one day, our children will stand tall and we will be rewarded with their every success.

They will grow to be strong enough to withstand the greatest of winds because they have the power to bend . . . but not break.

I have learned many lessons in life; this was among the most valuable.

Crystal R. Cook