A Breath of Fresh Air
A Merry Heart
A Touch of Romance
A Woman's World
A Word in Season
Acting Up
Cyber Walk
Faith Seekers
Golden Apples
Heaven Bound
Just Between Men
Ripe for the Harvest
Take it to Heart
Teen Truth
The Joy of Family
The Parents'
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The Rhythm of Life
The Treehouse
Through Their Eyes
'Tis the Season
We Are the Church

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Speaking of Love
By Teresa Lee Rainey

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matthew 22:37-39 KJV)

Terri scrambled toward an unfamiliar podium, searching desperately for her opening speech within a handful of carefully scribbled notes. The couples who gathered for tonightís Valentine dinner in the crowded church fellowship-hall were busy talking among themselves. Most of the crowd was oblivious to the frantic state of their guest speaker.

A sigh of relief left Terriís throat. The speech she had carefully laid out appeared among her pile of scribbles the moment she stepped behind the podium. She reached for the microphone in an attempt to pull it down from a level seemingly set for someone of far greater stature than her 5í3" frame. The screech that accompanied her successful attempt at rearranging the microphone also brought the entire crowdís attention to her.

"Well, that was not the opening I had intended." At least she could tell the crowd had some sense of humor as they laughed over her beginning remark.

"Now that I have your attention, let me thank you for inviting me to speak to you tonight."

It still seemed strange to Terri that she had become a very popular guest speaker among the local churches. Speaking in large groups would never have been her choice of things to do in her spare time, and yet the offers kept rolling in.

The speech she had prepared was now carefully laid out in front of her. After a quick glance around the room, she opened her mouth and tried to go forward with the words she had prepared, but no sound would come out. Panic began to grow inside her and threatened to take over.

Preparing for tonightís speech had been no different than any other.

Each and every time Terri had prayed over a speech, she felt that God gave her the words to say. It had never failed to lift her spirits when someone would come to her and let her know the speech she had given seemed custom made for them. She would use the opportunity to let them know that God really loved them enough to speak to them through her.

She had been certain that this speech was directed at someone special and now she realized who this message was for, before she even began.

Words began to flow from her mouth effortlessly as she stared directly at the young couple who had become her neighbors only months ago. The couple smiled and responded sweetly as she continued to expound on the second greatest commandment, unaware of the effect their presence had on her.

Tonight God was speaking to the speaker.

For the past few months, ever since the young couple had moved next door, Terri had been avoiding them. She had fussed to her husband over so many small issues created by new neighbors. She actually had a running list of complaints.

They didnít mow their lawn as often as they should.

Their dog jumped the fence once and stomped through her flowerbed.

They were always running somewhere.

They had never come over to introduce themselves.

The list had grown much longer, but tonight Terri realized how trivial her complaints were. The truth was that she hadnít wanted to bother with meeting anyone new. She had intended on meeting the couple when they first moved in, but never took the time. As time passed with no introductions, she began to create a list of offenses against her new neighbors instead of following Godís second greatest commandment.

Terriís prepared speech was nearly completed.

"We all can agree that loving God with all our heart, mind, and soul only gets easier as we trust in Him and get to know Him more each day. It is the second commandment that stumps so many. As a matter of fact, as I look around this very room tonight and see a precious young couple that lives next door to me, I realized I have failed in this area. Although a neighbor can be anyone we have contact with on a regular basis, I am guilty of neglecting to show love to these people that really do live right beside me. Please allow me to close in prayer at this time.

Heavenly Father, I want to thank you for allowing me to know your love. I truly love you more each day as I discover more about you. Thank you for the love that you have given to each and every couple here tonight. I pray that you will help us all to continue to grow in your love and learn to show your love to others in a way that pleases you. In your precious son, Jesusí name. Amen."

After the final amen was spoken, Terri quickly began to work through the crowd to find her neighbors. She was determined to put her words into actions before the end of this night. As the young couple appeared in front of her, she quickly reached out to them in love.

"Hi, my name is Terri. I should have introduced myself months ago."
Teresa Lee Rainey has been in love with the written word all of her life. Her passion for writing began as soon as she could form sentences on paper. As she matured, Teresa also fell in love with Godís Word and continues to strive toward a better understanding of all the treasures found within those pages. It is now her desire to help others grow in Christ through her stories. Teresa, along with her husband and two of their boys, were transplanted from her native home of Florida to the Nebraska plains in the spring of 2004. This move has given her time to pursue her passions. She is grateful for the time she now has as a wife, mom, friend, and inspirational author.
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