My Heart's Home

September 13, 2011

Extreme Makeover

Filed under: Encouragement,Freedom,Healing,joy — My Heart's Home @ 4:33 pm

unwanted. unloved. unworthy.

Rejected.

I used to feel this way.

All because I let others define me. When they weighed my worth, the scale was always in their favor and I was viewed as a deficit. I never measured up. Trying to earn their love was like trying to lasso the moon. Futile, but I didn’t know; I was just a child. So I kept slinging that rope—trying different tactics, different strategies, different angles—but, of course, nothing worked and never would. It was impossible, but I didn’t know. I figured it was my fault when I was flogged after every failed attempt, so I kept trying harder and harder and harder to lasso that forever evasive moon. I needed to prove my love so I wouldn’t be rejected by the love I thought I needed most. But I always failed. It was hopeless.

Thus I grew up feeling like a tumbledown barn—splintered on every side—about to implode, crumble and bury myself beneath moonbeams.

discouraged. despaired. defeated. dispensable. discarded. dismissed. devalued. depressed. disowned. disheartened. dejected.

SLICE. DICE. SPLICE.

At some point we’ve all experienced the painful sword of rejection stabbing us with its brutal blade. (Some of us more than others.) Whether it’s in the form of a pink slip, a returned ring, a failed grade, a deformity scoffed, a parent’s neglect, a teacher’s jab, a skipped promotion, an absent father, a sister’s slander, a brother’s betrayal, a vow broken, a cold shoulder, a belt’s bruise, a schoolmate’s snub, an abandoned bassinet, a barren womb…

Maybe an alcoholic, workaholic or rageaholic raised you… Or perhaps your sister was the talented, pretty and scholarly one… Maybe your bank account, square footage or Friend’s List didn’t tally up…

Rejection, in whatever form, chops a heart like ax to log. 

Satan’s deepest wound is rejection’s arrow piercing our heart. Because he was ostracized from Heaven and knows his reign on earth is short term, his goal is to project his rejection onto mankind as fervently as he can, while he can. Especially women. Why? Because we by nature are nurturing. If he can wound life bearers, causing them to reject their offspring, then generations upon generations will be limping on crutches forever scarred. Meanwhile, Satan will hammock swing, sip his Red Devil and revel in all the chaos he created.

Satan thrives on chaos.

I love the show Extreme Makeover Home Edition where designers perform jaw-dropping makeovers on someone’s outdated home. As an artist myself, I love taking something old and transforming it into something new. It’s more valuable to me than any tagged item for sale at Macy’s. Mainly because I can patiently and lovingly restore it or possibly increase its original value. For example…

Does this wicker furniture look beautiful to you? Does it appear valuable? Is it still useful? Or should it be overlooked, forsaken and tossed in a junkyard?

What about now? 

Before I purchased this shabby-looking furniture, I noticed the label and discovered this is a Henry Lane, quality, built-to-last brand of wicker furniture. After realizing its true value outweighed the asking price—and envisioning its beautiful transformation after a few coats of paint, new upholstery and a little TLC—I snatched it up without hesitation.

Do you realize your own value, worth and beauty? Do you look in the mirror and see shabby, dirty and discarded or Priceless, Perfect and Precious?

Do you see beautiful?

What label are you wearing?

Is it time for a wardrobe change? Is it time to adjust the aperture on your heart’s lens? Is it time to rebuild the barn?

If you’re not sure how, let the Master Carpenter help you.

Notice I started this post with ‘I USED to feel unwanted, unloved and unworthy.’ REJECTED. But now? Now I feel Priceless, Perfect and Precious because God says I am.

The opposite of rejection is acceptance. How do we move from feelings of rejection to the joy of acceptance? We accept God’s overwhelming love for us.

Satan can try to force feed me his poisonous lies—pointing out all my failures, flaws and faux pas—but I refuse to swallow. I only focus and feast on the truth now. The truth that tells me: You knit me together… I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). I am a precious jewel (Malachi 3:17). Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, [she] is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I absolutely, without a doubt, am a new creation because of Him!

Let’s shed, scorn and scorch old junkyard duds and worn out labels of ‘unwanted, unloved and unworthy’ and clothe ourselves, instead, in our Designer’s truth. We are Priceless, Perfect and Precious. God says we are because of Jesus and our faith in Him. We may not always feel it, but that’s OK. Our feelings may change, but the facts don’t and never will. The truth is the truth.

Never again will you be called ‘The Forsaken City’ or ‘The Desolate Land.’ Your new name will be ‘The City of God’s Delight’ and ‘The Bride of God,’ for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as His bride (Isaiah 62:4)

Thank you, Lord, for your truth, which counteracts lies and restores broken hearts to wholeness.

Thank you for your transformation.

Thank you for your restoration.

Thank you for your beautification.

I don’t know why we sometimes suffer the way we do, but I DO know God will use our pain for His glory, if we let Him and surrender our lives totally and unreservedly to Him and His purpose.

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up and adopt me as His child (Psalm 27:10).

Keep me as the apple of Your eye, hide me in the shadow or Your wings (Psalm 17:8).


August 26, 2011

A Clean Slate

Filed under: Encouragement,Freedom,Healing,Inspiring — My Heart's Home @ 3:38 pm

Could you go a year without junk food, mirror gazing or channel surfing? (My Father, a voracious reader, went a decade without TV!) I’ve been reading about folks sacrificing these indulgences and it inspires me to challenge myself in some area.

My Number One New Year Resolution was to read more, at least one book a month, and so far I’ve been successful. I’ve read eleven. Considering the following survey done by the Jenkins Group, A Premier Publishing Services Firm, I feel pretty good:

1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57 percent of new books are not read to completion.
70 percent of books published do not earn back their advance.
70 percent of the books published do not make a profit.

(Yikes. Not the greatest news for this blogger who is writing her first book!)

Wow. I love browsing bookstores. I love bedtime with my first grader on my lap in rocking chair, my arms circling his and giggles shared and curious boy questions asked. I love reading “I Spy” books with him, searching for that elusive key, thimble or rolling pin blending chameleon-like into the background. And nothing makes me smile more than watching his Daddy do the same. It’s always a Kodak moment in my heart and when he’s most attractive in my eyes.

Because we want to instill in our little wordsmith a lifetime love of reading, we make an effort to unwind nightly with a book. I also feel it’s important to model this behavior by becoming a lover of books myself.

As my Need-to-Read book list grows long enough to keep my eyes darting for decades, I discovered another area I want to challenge myself: decluttering. Yes, I am a clutter bug and it’s an area I’ve struggled with for years.

My decluttering process began with my purse. I bought myself a beautiful handbag and every evening I clean it out, so I’m not carrying excess baggage. (Now I no longer lean when I walk from the bowling ball dragging my shoulder.) Next I tackled my SUV. I spent four hours detailing it in June and so far I’ve kept it clutter-free, juice stain-free and~almost~Cherrios-free. It’s amazing how in control I feel of my life now, just from driving a cleaner car and having an organized purse! These accomplishments gave me the courage to tackle more challenging areas inside my home. My main struggle has always been the kitchen. Seems there’s always dishes filling sink, clutter on counters and sticky pans, fridge shelves and stovetop. Well, guess what? This week we have all awakened to clean counters, empty sinks and a crumb-free stove. It’s so refreshing! With each success I feel even more empowered! It’s amazing.

A newfound energy has begun to fill my life. I believe my success conquering my clutter lately is directly related to my hard work this summer decluttering my heart. I cleaned out numerous cobwebs that had me enmeshed and weighed down. I needed to get unstuck and that meant clearing basement spiders before I could attack attic gossamers. I dared to lift that rug every dysfunctional home has lurking in the cellar, the one where sticky issues reside that always get swept under. Why was rug lifting necessary? Because feelings buried alive never die and denial is cancerous. I refuse to live in falsehood. I was also showing symptoms of anxiety, so I needed to grab spade and dig deeper. I had to uproot the root causing these symptoms. So I started connecting the dots as I hop scotched backward to childhood. As I did, I discovered the empty spots that were left blank, never crayoned in. I started to color outside the lines. I faced excruciating pain from my biological Father abandoning me, being absent from my life for 20 years and, later, committing suicide. I faced welts still scarring my heart from a leather belt beat against my flesh from someone who claimed to love me. I unlocked the door to face sexual abuse that lay in darkness for decades. It was brutal, but necessary for me to take control of my life. A life that involved repressed childhood feelings of betrayal, abandonment, neglect, fear, shame, rejection, violation, heartache, loneliness…

“I don’t know why I’m telling you this. It’s over. It’s in the past, and the past is over.”

“Except,” Father John said, “it has a way of hanging around, demanding we understand it and weave it into ourselves so that we can go on.”

THE EAGLE CATCHER, by Margaret Coel 

“Those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” – Sir Winston Churchill

“An unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

Looking back at the past allowed me to color in those empty pages to heal a child’s broken heart. I needed to validate and acknowledge what was dismissed, deprived and denied. I began to grieve my lost childhood for the first time and it was hard, heart wrenching work. I shed tears for a little girl whose Daddy left her. I wept for an innocent child who endured torturous beatings from a rageaholic. I cried for a pre-teen exploited and used to satisfy an older person’s lust. I sobbed for teenage years where more abuse occurred. My heart ached for that sweet, shy, insecure, girl without a voice, who learned at an early age to play by the rules and remain compliant, obedient and docile or else.

Maybe everyone would leave me like my Daddy did and abandon and reject me. But didn’t the abuse mean I had already been rejected?

Too lofty a thought for a little girl to comprehend.

Or perhaps I did. Why else would I keep trying harder to earn the love that should have come freely, unconditional and without reserve? My reality became ‘if others’ needs come first, I must come last.’ So I played the role and dressed the part assigned to me for too many years. Too many years. Too many years.

I remained silent because I was raised mute.

It took dissecting losses to locate vocals.

I’m glad I had the courage to dig and unearth the not-so-pretty-dirt swept under rugs. Now my life isn’t so dark, grey and cobwebby. The spiders are gone. They will no longer bite. My heart has been reclaimed, restored and redeemed by a healthy love God instilled in me for myself. The broken pieces are becoming whole by His healing hand. Now I want my outer world to reflect my inner world and slowly it is. It’s so exciting!!

Scars healed are life changing.

Scars healed are transforming.

Scars healed are the steps toward new beginnings.

And there’s a little more spring in that step lately.

With every piece of clutter I unpack now I ask myself:

Is it bringing me joy?
Is it filling a need?
Has it benefited me in the last year?
Is it still useful in some way?
Does it make me smile?
Does it hold any true value?
Do I want it in my home?
Do I want it in my life?

If the answer is no, I need to question why it’s taking up space, why I’m still holding onto it, and why it hasn’t been thrown out with the rest of the refuse.

Maybe it’s time to take a final look, release, then let it go once and for all.

Maybe it’s time to say goodbye.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What unnecessary clutter is taking up space in your home or, more importantly, your heart? 

Is it time for a clean sweep?

An old man once said, “There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.”


“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:14

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Cor. 5:17

“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Colossians 3:21


August 12, 2011

Tea Party

Filed under: Contentment,Healing,joy,Love,Thankfulness — My Heart's Home @ 9:35 pm

The sprawling 12-foot wooden dining table contains every breakfast delicacy imaginable. Chocolate confections decorated in delicate designs almost too pretty to eat. Thick sliced bacon baked in brown sugar. Egg and ham casserole. Three flavors of homemade bread. Baked and seasoned sliced tomatoes. Fruit galore. Chocolate and vanilla cupcakes ooze colorful flower shaped icing. Sweet tea, non-sweet tea, hot tea, fresh squeezed orange juice, lemon-flavored water, coffee.

Competing for my attention is the gorgeous and expansive Lake Monroe view, which makes my jaw drop even farther.

We sit outside on the second story porch enveloped by Goliath trees, overlooking guesthouses, a gazillion-acres horse ranch, a Koi and lily pond with waterfall cascading. Fresh cut flowers centerpiece the cream table clothed tables adorned with gold-trimmed plates, teacups and saucers.

I feel honored. I feel special. I feel like a queen.

No doubt the dozen of us women feel this way at our hostess’s home. I’m sure that is the intent.

Mission Accomplished.

No one is a stranger. We are all graduates of a 12-week intense course called “Making Peace With Your Past.” Our facilitator is our hostess. We are celebrating our journey toward healing and wholeness from a broken childhood marred by abuse. What a gracious friend she is.

A little taste of heaven.

After taking this class, I can honestly say now:

my past is at peace and I am forever changed.

I see it. Others see it.

I carry a lighter load; I sleep without pills; the monsters in my closet have been banished and my dragon has been slain.

Hovering ghosts no longer haunt, casting their shadows on my heart.

My shackles have been released and I am FREE.

Free to be ME.

The ME God intended Me to be. The me that was squelched as a child. The me that is fun, playful and joyful. The me that has an ‘Otter’ personality I never knew was sequestered.

Our wonderful tea party was the perfect way to end the summer and welcome in a new season…for us all.

If humans can create such a bountiful and delicious display, can you imagine what it will be like seated at God’s banquet table one day? And I wonder what our mansion will look like and the view surrounding us! What love our Heavenly Father is waiting to lavish on His precious children! I can’t wait to find my name card! I hope you will be seated nearby!

Have you ever attended a tea party? Maybe consider hosting one for your friends. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. If it is served with love and from your heart, I guarantee it will be a success. More importantly, you will be a blessing to someone else!

“Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”  Luke 14:15

“Be happy that our names are written in heaven!” Luke 10:20

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2

“And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.” Romans 8:17

August 7, 2011

Let God Chisel

Filed under: Encouragement,Faith,Freedom — My Heart's Home @ 1:15 am

While on vacation down south a few weeks ago, I heard New York Times best-selling Christian author, Lysa TerKeurst, speak during a weekend conference I attended with 650 other women. One topic she spoke about was titled “Let God Chisel.” Her message revolved around her recent visit to Italy to view Michelangelo’s world-renowned 17-foot marble statue of David. She explained how the artist spent three years chiseling the stone and while creating this masterpiece, he never left its side. He slept nearby on a cot until it was complete.

He never left David’s side, until the masterpiece was complete.

For three years. Now that’s commitment!

I accepted the Lord as a child and just like Michelangelo never left David’s side, I know God’s never left mine. Looking back, it’s so evident how He’s protected, molded and shaped me because…

 I let Him chisel.

Not always, but mostly.

This summer has definitely been a season of refining and chiseling. God chipped away at my heart–tampering with the unpolished, marred and brittle pieces–and I felt every gouge of His pruning blade cut deep.

It felt like someone shoved my heart in a blender and pushed frappé

I’m not gonna sugar coat it, it was brutal. It was heart wrenching. For days the pain was relentless.

But like David, I no longer feel I’m carrying unnecessary weight.

Lysa showed us photos of several other statues that were unfinished cuts of stone, where only partial limbs, half  torsos and foreheads emerged.

These statues were called “The Prisoners.”

They were haunting images.

People half alive. Half dead. For a lifetime.

Never fully tasting freedom.

Will we let God chisel or stay forever imprisoned behind hardened hearts of stone?

Will we run from His healing hand because it may mean facing feelings that make us uncomfortable?

Will we remain complacent and stagnant in our faith, or desire to draw deeper into fellowship with our Creator, no matter what the cost?

Oh, God, please keep chiseling in our hearts! Help us trust you are a God who wants to set us completely free from any bondage and unnecessary weight we may be carrying. Help us understand…

You’re a God who loves us too much to let us stay stuck where we are.

You’re a God who will never forsake us or leave us incomplete.

You’re a God who only sees the masterpiece hiding within unfinished slabs of stone.

Thank you, Lord, for every work of art You have created, are creating and have yet to create. Amen.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2  Corinthians 5:17

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5

 

July 30, 2011

Summer’s Snowstorm

Filed under: Christian,Encouragement,Faith,Healing,Trials — My Heart's Home @ 1:28 am

I envisioned a vacation-packed, hammock-swinging, ice-filled cooler kinda summer. All sunshine, butterflies and lemonade stands. A season of park bench Kindle reading, oars lapping lake and soggy chlorinated swimsuits. Although these delights overflowed, this summer’s also been grueling, heart wrenching and as brutal as a three-digit heat wave.

Except I’ve been pummeled by an avalanche in the heat of summer.

Healing can have that effect. Awakening from years of denial and facing the truth isn’t for pansy wansies. It takes grit. It takes fortitude. It takes digging deep and unearthing dormant heartache and pain then unraveling the mystery of its origin.

Can I have a rain check, please?

Facing the truth feels like dropping head first from a trapeze bar smack dab into concrete. It’s easier to hang in denial than lose one’s grip on ‘reality’. A ‘reality’ defined by others, which I never dared question, until recently when the fog and smokescreen began to dissipate and I yanked my blindfold and removed my muzzle.

God’s word tells us: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Suffering and surrendering to winter seasons may make us uncomfortable—either experiencing our own chill or feeling goose pimply around others—but we often bear the most fruit during the bitter cold, white-knuckled, teeth grinding seasons of our lives. Let’s not discount winter, as less sacred than life’s seasons of spring, summer and fall.

Oftentimes, heartaches and adversities are the means God uses to reveal Himself to us.

And oftentimes it feels like icicles piercing our heart. It’s never a walk in the park.

Whenever trials arrive flooding my heart’s mailbox, I am tempted to slam lid or stamp deliveries with ‘return to sender.’ I put up my dukes, dig in my heels or run like the dickens the opposite direction whenever they blindside curbside. I rein in tears instead of releasing them. I prefer head in sand, like sun kissed toes, rather than facing pain head on. I’m a pearl solitarily confined within oyster’s clam. Shell clenched tight and inflexible like my heart, fists and jaw.

I prefer shade instead of light because sometimes the dawn delivers deeper darkness.

During my Hurricane Katrinas, I don’t want someone serving me a pep talk or warmed-over platitude like yesterday’s stale hors d’oeuvres. I don’t need someone to understand, to try and fix or relate, because unless you’ve been there, you never truly can. I do need someone to listen, wrap her arms around me and ask, ‘How can I pray for you?’ Wouldn’t that mean the world to you, too, when you’re snowballing downhill and you’re world is as cold as an iceberg and only dark clouds loom?

All the Super Glue in the world can’t fix a broken heart.

But GOD can.

If we let Him. Or perhaps we can become the arms of Jesus circling our wounded sister’s shoulders when she needs a shoulder to cry on.

Philippians 1:29 says that not only were you called to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake.

Suffering is part of the Christian faith. It’s not all rainbows, sunset cruises and rose colored gardens. As Christians, we are going to face brutal winters, even more so as we draw closer to our Lord. But take heart…

Suffering shows us the eternal is more important than the temporal.

Character is more valuable than appearance.

Relationships mean more than money.

People mean more than things.

We adopt a new value system through suffering. We have a choice to become bitter or better.  To close ourselves off or reach out. To live in denial or face the truth.

Suffering is not something to be shunned, but embraced. It requires surrender. It requires patience. It requires dependence. It’s a way God reveals Himself deeper to us. He becomes more than a creed, more than a series of theological doctrines, more than a church building or Sunday school verses we rotely memorize. He becomes, in reality, by demonstration, a loving Father, a sympathetic Savior, a compassionate God.

He becomes more than a fair-weather Friend.

He becomes unconditional love incarnate.

If you are going through your own snowstorm right now, how can I pray for you?

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 

“My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:5

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18

 

July 19, 2011

1 Corinthians 13

Filed under: Contentment,Healing,Love — My Heart's Home @ 11:40 pm

The happiest day of my life: July 19, 2003

I am learning firsthand what love is.

And what it isn’t.

It’s not someone’s backhand or backhanded compliment. It’s not bruises and welts from a leather belt. It’s not criticism disguised as concern. It’s not dismissing, demeaning, degrading and discounting someone else’s feelings and thoughts. It’s not cowering to someone’s raised hand. It’s not being treated like a need-gratifying object, instead of an autonomous individual deserving of respect. It’s not being a docile doormat or mud rug for other’s to wipe their dirty feet upon. It’s not being a stepping stool others use to feel taller.

Yes, I had to learn this. It was not taught to me.

Love’s roadmap isn’t filled with guilt trips. It’s love offerings have no strings attached. It’s tongue does not shoot poisonous darts. It’s heart is not demanding, deceitful or devious. It’s not self-centered. It’s not easily angered. It’s not conditional. It is freely given, not something to be earned, stolen or bought. It’s not one-sided. It’s being the first to say, ‘I’m sorry, please forgive me.’ It’s not controlling, but self controlled.

It’s someone standing in your corner cheering you on. It’s someone who fills your life with joy, laughter and peace. It’s someone who helps you become the best you you can be and wants nothing but the best for you. It’s someone you can trust to cherish your heart in their hands and not bruise or break it. It’s someone who wipes your tears and doesn’t condemn or chastise you for shedding them. It’s someone who points out your successes, not highlight your frailties, faults and failures. Love is not jealous. Love is not mean-spirited. Love is not unkind. It’s someone who encourages, comforts and creates a soft place to land when life’s storms hit hard. It’s someone who holds your hand and never leaves your side when you need them most. It’s someone who lights your path when darkness envelopes and swallows your heart. It’s someone who honors their marriage covenant. It’s someone who’s faithful in word and deed. It’s someone who describes you using positive words like: ‘beautiful,’ ‘intelligent,’ ‘sweet’ and ‘loving.’ It’s someone who allows you freedom to be yourself, not try to force you to be an appendage.

It’s someone who sees the REAL you.

Love is 1 Corinthians 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Anybody can say ‘I love you,’ but without actions to back it up, their words are empty, shallow and meaningless.

How are you being an example of love to others in your life? Do you show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in your interactions with them?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

My husband is one of the best examples of love I know.

Thank you, Bob, for being an example of TRUE love to me.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, HONEY!

I LOVE YOU…FOREVER!!

July 12, 2011

Dust in the Wind

Filed under: Freedom,Grace,Healing — My Heart's Home @ 12:24 am

(Paraphrased from John 8: 1-11)

There she stands. Cowers. Trembles. She’s one amongst the crowd. The hoity-toity scribes, Pharisees, and economically prosperous all thumb their noses at her, this woman covered in dirt. As they cast their judgmental glances upon her, she feels helpless, forsaken, tormented. They are inches away, hurling their insults, accusations, and spittle. Pointing fingers like hair-triggered pistols aimed to kill, not maim. Their fists white-knuckled around stones they are eager to throw. Her heart is their bull’s-eye.

She’s the adulteress… The one judged guilty as sin. 

Another joins the angry mob. On her knees with back bent low, she watches His sandals stir up dust. Through strands of hair possibly streaked with tears, sweat and others’ saliva, she sees Him in the sunrise.

The only One who stands in her defense.

The crowd demands stoning as her atoning; they ask Jesus if He agrees. He kneels in the dirt beside her. His fingertip traces in the sand. They demand His response. They want to know if Jesus agrees with them, this crowd of finger pointers.

He does.

The woman’s heart sinks, like her shoulders, in despair. She’s outnumbered. All hope is lost. She’s doomed. Not one is on her side. She braces herself for stones to bruise, cut and silence her heartbeat once and for all. She waits for blood to spill. Her own.

She feels their hateful glares sear her alabaster skin like a torch. She watches stone filled fists rise and swing like bows bent to hurl sharpened arrows… She holds her breath…she tightens her jaw…she winces and shuts her eyes. Maybe the end will come quickly. One blow to her brow and the deafening crowd will be hushed forever.

Wait! Not so fast.

Jesus no longer kneels. He stands upright in front of her, facing the crowd. He stands for one who cannot. He becomes her only ally, her friend, her Savior. They pause to let Him speak. He tells them they can stone her, but there is ONE condition:

“He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.”

The clamorous crowd is silenced. He kneels again beside the woman. His finger paints in sand. The crowd is perplexed. What do they see? Is He writing their names and listing their sins, one-by-one, as if turning pages in private diaries? (I like to speculate He was, although Scripture isn’t clear.) Are they thinking, “How does He know what I did last night, last week, last year?” Are they ashamed and embarrassed by their own hypocrisy? The logs in their eye? Their Scarlet Letters being exposed for all to read? Their sins hanging like soiled laundry in the light of day? You betcha. (At least I like to picture it this way!)

The adulteress raises her head slowly and peers into their eyes. Young and old cringe as their sins reflect in her tears.

Their raised hands fall.

Their pointing fingers bend.

Their heads held high bow.

Their self-righteous indignation blows like dust in the wind under Jesus’ finger. 

The woman listens to the most beautiful sound she’s ever heard: stones dropping and shifting sands. As each accuser turns and slithers away like snakes into grass. Only Jesus remains. He stands beside her and asks, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has anyone condemned you?” I picture Him smiling and gazing at her lovingly.

She answers, “No man, Lord.” Then Jesus says to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

Grace. Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound.

I wonder where the adulteress woman went after this encounter with Jesus… Do you think she hotfooted back into her lover’s arms?

Yes, you betcha, all the way.

And He never let her go.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Matthew 7:1

“You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye. Then you will see clearly to remove the piece of sawdust from another believer’s eye.” – Matthew 7:5

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” – Matthew 7:21

July 2, 2011

Empty Jars

Filed under: Encouragement,faithfulness,Love — My Heart's Home @ 12:47 am

Years ago our pastor challenged us to step beyond barbeques, porch swings and curb-hugging hostas and outreach to our neighbors. I, for one, am a curb-hugger. I prefer my comfortable cocoon, so when someone challenges me to spread wings and fly into unknown territory, I’m taken aback. My instinct is to circle wings and cling tighter to four walls.

But I chose to step out in faith and I’ve never looked back. It’s been an adventure. Just yesterday my elderly neighbor confessed she’s drifted from the faith. Through this revelation I was able to sympathize and tell her I’ve been there. Now there’s a Bible on her nightstand.

A bridge replaced a gap between lawns.

It wasn’t my words that made a difference, it was my actions. I took time to get to know her. John Maxwell says, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

I used to take pride in my independence, my self-reliance, and my self-sufficiency. But God has been showing me lately that my I am an Island mentality is nothing less than pride and selfishness. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27

We need each other.

Ever read a story or passage from the Bible you’ve never read or seen before? That’s been happening a lot to me lately and it’s so exciting!

Today I was reading in 2 Kings chapter 4 about a newly widowed woman whose sons were about to become slaves to pay her debtors. In her despair she beseeched the prophet Elisha for help and advice. He inquired about items of worth in her house. She replied, “Your servant has nothing there at all, except a little oil.”

Olive oil was a valuable and necessary commodity in ancient Israel. It had many practical uses, from the holy to the mundane. It was used for various anointings, for medicative purposes, for cooking, and to fuel lamps for light. Notice she says, “Your servant has nothing there at all … except a little oil.” This widow had barely enough oil for herself, how could it be useful? She disparages what little she has, but God has a plan!

Aren’t we like this doubting widow? We question our resources, our talents, and our seemingly unworthy nothingness. We wonder how God can use our sack lunch, our crumbs, to feed thousands of famished strangers (Matthew 14:13-21). Yet He does, miraculously!

Elisha tells the woman to “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” She does as he instructs and jars are filled to the brim with oil. She sells them, pays her debt and lives off the remainder.

Can you imagine yourself in dire financial straits, every Nosey Nelly knowing you’re bankrupt and yet you need to humble yourself and beg door-to-door for spare change? Wouldn’t be easy, would it? Yet that’s how this widow must have felt. She could have chosen to sit behind locked doors with ‘shades’ drawn and wall herself off from her community as she wallowed in grief, but she didn’t. She acted in faith and humbled herself by reaching out. It took humility. It took transparency. It took heartache. In doing so this widow gave others the opportunity to cooperate in God’s work in her life, as well.

Her boldness, humility and faith saved her sons from slavery and herself from destitution.

This story speaks so clearly to me. We aren’t meant to carry our burdens ourselves. We must not build isolating picket fences in our hearts distancing others because our pride won’t admit we need them. If I plaster on Sunday school smiles every time Debbie Downer has Susie Sunshine in a chokehold or just wave passively to passerby from my air-conditioned SUV, I’m not being real and transparent or allowing others to be real and transparent with me. I’m not serving anyone by mask wearing and retreating. I might even hinder and interfere with God’s plan to bless my friends and neighbors by broadcasting His faithfulness through burdens shared and answered prayer.

It takes humble hearts to remove masks and say “I need you.” Maybe in doing so, we can give others permission to remove their masks and say they need us, also. It’s not a sign of weakness, but of strength…HIS strength flowing through our weakness. In turn, we become blessings as God pours out through our emptying.

We are the body of Christ to believers and unbelievers.

In the hustle and bustle of our busy and hectic lives, it’s easy to become self-absorbed, cynical and superficial. Let’s reach beyond manicured lawns and nails and get to know others on a deeper level.

When our neighbor’s lantern’s oil runs low, lets shine our light and become beacons of hope amidst the darkness.

Let’s speak words of encouragement to the weary and heavy laden.

Let’s anticipate our neighbors’ empty jars before they come knocking on our door.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31


June 25, 2011

Choose Virtue Over Vice

Filed under: faithfulness,Grace,Love — My Heart's Home @ 3:25 pm

Life is all about choices. We make a plethora of decisions daily without a second thought. Most are auto-piloted, robotic and routine. We don’t deliberate over the mundane. Most of our decisions are made unbridled, with loose reigns, and without reserve. Sometimes it’s beneficial to ‘be slow to speak’ as the Bible says or we may go about our days with our toxic tongue’s tail wagging behind us.

Or we may be caught with that tail between our legs.

Either way we’re bound to trip.

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19

Ever been around someone who can’t control their tongue or wrath? They spew toxic venom whenever they open their mouth and are quick to raise fists and pummel anyone who stands in their way? A raised hand raised me, so I know how it feels firsthand. I had welts upon my body from the belt they beat against my alabaster skin. One too many times. It was not a pretty picture. I choose to forgive today because I don’t want their bitterness to rub off on me. I don’t want to scar my precious son by carrying around wounds that have never healed. He and my husband deserve all of me, 100 percent, WHOLE and I intend to give it to them.

No matter what the cost.

Several years ago I ordered a free bracelet. It was designed as a tool for people to monitor their success at eradicating complaining from their lives. The goal is to wear the purple band on one wrist and try to go 21 consecutive days complaint-free. If you find yourself griping, you switch wrists and start over. The Founder, Rev. Will Bowen, thought of the bracelet in 2006 to help make the world a better place. His idea exploded and more than 6 million purple Complaint Free bracelets have been sent to people in over 106 countries.

Fast forward five years and I’m still waiting for my free bracelet to arrive.

My question is:

Should I complain? 

I considered it; however, the organization probably doesn’t have a complaint department, so what’s the use.

Instead, I decided to wear my own bracelet, not purple, but 24-karat gold. And for the next 21 days I will refrain from complaining. I will choose virtue over vice. (Please add me to your prayer requests!) Especially on Sunday. Sometimes our sinful nature rears its ugly head when we least expect it…as we’re approaching or circling church parking lots:

‘Why is that person going so S-L-O-W?’

‘Why aren’t they signaling?’

‘Whoa! Did I just run over the pastor?’

I will pray God transforms my heart as he conforms my mind. Every time my brain is tempted to poison my tongue with venom, either about myself or someone else, I will choose to hold that thought captive and replace it with words that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. 

One day this filtering may become second nature and I won’t give complaints and criticisms a second thought.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

I don’t know if I can change the entire world, but at least I will impact my immediate world.

And that’s the best place to start: in my own backyard.

*I wrote this post before attending church Sunday and guess what my pastor challenged the congregation to do? Memorize Phil. 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” 

———————————————————————————–

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…” Phil. 2:14-16

A Complaint Free World People complain to everyone except the person who can resolve their issue and then can’t understand why the situation doesn’t improve.

A Complaint Free World Complaining can be thinly disguised bragging. People complain about others to subtly say, “See? I don’t have their character flaws.”
A Complaint Free World When you complain, you take your fears and give them form.

June 19, 2011

Daddy’s #1

Filed under: Faith,Love,Parenting,Thankfulness — My Heart's Home @ 1:51 am

June 19th being Father’s Day, I asked our six-year-old son what he loves most about his Daddy:

#1) He plays with me.

#2) He likes me.

#3) He never hates me.

#4) He’s in my heart.

#5) He’s nice.

#6) He plays games with me.

#7) He gets excited when I win ‘Minute to Win It’ challenges.

#8) He watches my TV shows and relaxes with me.

#9) He kisses and hugs me.

#10) He tells me jokes to make me laugh a lot.

I interpreted his answers to mean Austin feels: ‘Daddy’s my friend; he’s my encourager; he unconditionally loves me; I cherish him; he enjoys my company; he spends time with me; he gives me attention; he’s affectionate; and he’s funny.’

What Bob gives our son cannot be bought or sold in a store.

It’s his heart, which is priceless.

That’s the Number One reason I love Austin’s Daddy.

~ Happy Father’s Day! ~

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“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a Father’s protection.” – Sigmund Freud

“Any man can be a Father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” – Anne Geddes

“Fathers, like mothers, are not born. Men grow into Fathers – and fathering is a very important stage in their development.” – David M. Gottesman

“The greatest thing a Father can do to his children, is to love their mother.” – Anjaneth Garcia Untalen

“It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.”  – Pope John XXIII

“A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.”

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