My Heart's Home

March 24, 2011

For Heaven’s Sake

Filed under: Contentment — My Heart's Home @ 2:50 pm

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:20-21

Somebody just informed me that 95% of Americans are in debt, living paycheck-to-paycheck. In fact, Americans are 660 billion in credit card debt.

I was shocked, but not surprised.

So many times I’ve bitten my tongue when friends tell me how they are struggling to pay bills, build a nest egg or payoff credit cards, yet in the next breath brag about flying First Class to some exotic Island, planting $400 rose bushes or purchasing a $700 crib. (For that price I hope it comes with a guarantee to change the baby’s diaper!) My mom just stuck me in a drawer when I was born. (Well, maybe not literally, but you get my drift.)

I paid $20 for my son’s crib. He’s never complained.

I grew up in a 5,500 square foot home on the beach in coveted La Jolla, California. My room had an ocean view and the Pacific lulled me to sleep each night. We had a live-in maid in a separate apartment who folded my clothes, made my bed and occasionally babysat while both my parents worked full time. Yes, it was a beautiful home. But they both worked hard to purchase it and they could afford it. They were never in debt. Their bills were paid on time. I never saw them argue over money and I grew up feeling financially secure.

I don’t own a mansion. I don’t drive a Cadillac, travel First Class or drink Dom Pérignon. A few feet into my home and you’d certainly realize I don’t have a maid.

But I’m happy and I still feel financially secure.

Yes, I would prefer a little more square footage. Sure I wouldn’t mind an ocean view. And, yes, I would LOVE a live-in maid!

But I am content with or without these things.

We’re debt-free, tithe regularly and are not living paycheck-to-paycheck. The peace I feel is priceless.

We own our stuff; it does not own us.

If you are in debt, living paycheck-to-paycheck, I’m not trying to act superior!

I’m not saying I’ve never racked up credit card debt or don’t know how it feels to live paycheck-to-paycheck. Yes, I have been irresponsible at times with money, but I never went on binge shopping sprees, bought name brands or got my nails done every few weeks if I didn’t have the dough. (And, God forbid, I ever raided my son’s piggy bank to pay the electric bill!) School loans, medical expenses and mortgages, etc., are reasonable debts. I’m talking about irresponsibility and immaturity; spending money we don’t have.

When I was single living in pricey San Diego, California, I used to have to move almost every six months when my single roommates announced their engagements. After I kept ‘marrying off’ my roommates one-by-one, I wised up. I finally decided to move in with a 70-year-old widow. Guess what happened within six months? Yup, she got engaged! Time to move again. I should have started my own business: “Move in with me, pay my rent, and I guarantee you’ll receive a marriage proposal within six months or your money back!”

Every new apartment lease required two months’ rent. Sometimes my car broke down. Sometimes I lost my job. Sometimes I had emergency medical bills. Given these circumstances, I eventually had to borrow on my credit card, since I was living paycheck-to-paycheck. Subsequently, I ended up thousands in debt. Then I devised a plan to pay it all off. I canceled Cable, I made my lunches for work, I didn’t take vacations, etc. I sacrificed. As a result, I was debt-free when I got engaged and had thousands in savings.

Recently I heard a good friend of mine got divorced. When they got engaged they were $15,000 in debt. Their wedding cost an additional $15,000. It was a beautiful ceremony, complete with soaring doves, but they started their marriage on bad footing.

They limped to their Hawaiian honeymoon $30,000 in debt!

The number one cause of marital discord is arguments over money. I know they often argued about it, so I wasn’t shocked or surprised to hear they divorced. I’m just really sad.

I paid for my wedding myself and didn’t borrow a dime to do so. No, I may not have had doves released, worn a silk gown or had Celine Dion serenade us. But it was beautiful nonetheless and I skipped to my honeymoon suite debt-free.

I’ve been skipping ever since.

Can you imagine living without air conditioning, running water, a TV, cell phone, microwave, computer, washing machine, electricity, indoor potty? My parents did. You may feel these are necessities, but they aren’t. We live in a self-indulgent society where we act like spoiled children; we feel entitled to have more, more, more.

We must ask ourselves: When will enough be enough?


What are you doing on earth for heaven’s sake?

God never promised us a rose garden. He promised to meet our needs and never leave us or forsake us.

Last Sunday’s sermon was all about contentment.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pieced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

I’m not saying it’s evil to be wealthy, just like I’m not saying deprivation is more spiritual. It’s all about perspective, attitude and balance. A millionaire can have a philanthropic heart and make monetary contributions that benefit many people and worthy causes. On the other hand, Mother Teresa lived a humble life serving the poorest of the poor. Both types of individuals can be used Spiritually toward advancing God’s Kingdom.

It’s about our heart’s attitude.

It’s about discerning our wants from our needs. It’s about being grateful for the simple things most of the world lives without: a roof overhead, clothes on our backs and food on our tables.

I read this recently: If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep…you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish somewhere … you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.

Puts things in perspective, huh? I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty well-to-do right now!

Ask yourself:

Am I more more concerned with laying up treasures on earth or in heaven?

“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

I’m sure God’s mansions’ will outshine Hearst Castle any day!

My pastor’s sermon included: “If contentment is found just around the corner, you’ll never reach it. We are restless, always looking to the next dream purchase, special event or exciting trip to make us feel good. The new smell vanishes quickly. The scratches, dents and worn spots come. The next version out makes us wish we had waited a bit longer because now our new purchase seems so archaic. Why can’t we be content? We can! Only in Jesus will we find true contentment.”

Compare yourself to Christ, not the Jones’. He’s the only one who truly satisfies.

Let me conclude by saying: there is only ONE area in our lives we should NEVER be content:

Our walk with Jesus.

Amen?

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Phil. 4:12

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” Matthew 6:28-29

March 18, 2011

Taming the Tongue

Filed under: Encouragement — My Heart's Home @ 11:19 pm

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

As women we are natural walkie talkies. We love to gab with our friends, share gossip and give advice. But as Christians, we are called to be different. Set apart. Holy.

When we are with family, friends and strangers do we weigh our words carefully before we speak?

Provebs 15:28 “The heart of us weighs its answers, but the mouth of wicked gushes evil.”

The righteous weigh their answers, the wicked don’t wait to speak because they don’t care about the effects of their words. It is important to have something to say, but it is equally important to weigh it first. Do you carefully plan your words, or do you pour out your thoughts without concern for their impact?

Do we love to give unsolicited advice or wait to offer our opinion only when asked? Do our words breathe life into another’s spirit or suck the wind out of their sails?Are we constantly negative and complaining, looking at the world through tinted shades or are we drawing out the positive in ourselves and others? I’m not talking about being a Pollyanna wearing rose-colored glasses. That’s not reality. The world is full of good and bad. But do we genuinely have a spirit of love and grace towards others and use our words to express that instead of constant criticisms, judgmental jabs and condemning comments?

Proverbs 15:4 “A comforting tongue is a tree of life, but a twisted tongue is a crushing of the spirit.”

I admit, my words don’t always flow like honey from my lips. But my heart’s desire is to tame my tongue’s tail, so my words are life-giving and not life-draining. As a writer, but more importantly as a mother, I know how powerful words are. They can help a dreamer sprout wings to fly above the clouds or clip them so feathers never soar.

I shutter to think where I would be today without godly men and women in my life who made a difference through their encouraging words.

Do you want to be a cheerleader or a naysayer? Do you want to have a positive or negative effect on others? Do you strive to be the type of person that others feel better about themselves when they leave your presence or worse? Do you filter what you write or say and ask yourself ‘will this benefit another in a positive way if I speak or pen it’? Or do you point out the weaknesses in others as an anodyne to keep from genuinely feeling or seeing your own pain?

Those who have not truly experienced the grace of God cannot extend grace to others.

We’ve all been taught: If we have nothing nice to say, then we should keep our lips sealed. So true. (I’ll try to remember that next time I’m watching ‘American Idol’. I seem to morph into one of the judges!!)

James 3:8 says, “but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

Only Christ can change our hearts, which in turn will affect the words we speak.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

I want my words to be encouraging, uplifting, edifying, loving, kind, gentle in order to empower others to be their best self. This means not walking in my flesh, but living in the spirit. Walking by faith, not by sight.

Lord, let my words flow like…

helium to a deflated balloon…

oil to a rusty hinge…

a fountain to an empty well.

How can we use our words to be a beacon of hope and faith in someone else’s life today?

Someone who may be single, who has given up on finding true love…

Someone who longs to take a leap of faith, but lacks the courage to jump…

Someone whose vision is impaired; who needs to be reminded how to dream again…

Someone who feels hopeless and is just waiting to hear the words: “I believe in you!”

Take a look around and open your eyes to see who God may put in your path this week to share encouraging, uplifting, positive words with.

Who knows? Your words may be just what someone needs to change the course of their life forever!

Stand back and watch wings take flight!

PRAYER OF SAINT FRANCIS: 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. 

Where there is hatred, let me sow love. 

Where there is injury, pardon. 

Where there is doubt, faith. 

Where there is despair, hope. 

Where there is darkness, light. 

Where there is sadness, joy. 

O Divine Master, 

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; 

to be understood, as to understand; 

to be loved, as to love. 

For it is in giving that we receive. 

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. 

 

March 13, 2011

Doggone It

Filed under: Prayer — My Heart's Home @ 3:24 pm

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23.

So thankful His mercies are new every morning because yesterday desperately needs a ‘do over.’

I was not a happy camper.

I am dog-sitting for 10 days. It was my first day with Bryce and I’m his favorite. He follows me everywhere. Mind you, I am not a dog person. (I’m only returning a favor for a friend who recently watched our guinea pigs while we were on vacation.) I grew up with cats. Gentle, purring, low-maintenance felines. This Lhasa Apso kept me up all night with his growling and barking.

If I cleared my throat, it barked.

If the refrigerator rumbled, Bryce did too.

If the guinea pigs rattled their cage, he’d rattle my nerves.

I realize he’s just adjusting to unfamiliar sounds, but come on. I need my rest. Even more so since I’m still recovering from Strep Throat and Scarlet Fever. The last thing I need is a two-foot fur ball lying on me all night, barking and growling at the slightest breeze and interrupting my zzzz’s.

With only four hours sleep, I barked and growled non-stop yesterday. I’m thankful I have a forgiving husband and son.

No doubt I deserved the doggone dog house.

But today I can start anew. So can Bryce. After all, he slept well last night. So did I; I was in another room. He’s barking less; so am I. His appetite is back and he’s chasing his ball.

Some things are a constant: I’m still his favorite and he’s mostly underfoot.

Except now. He’s scratching the front door. My clue to walk him. Time to spray the neighborhood with his territorial scent.

Dogs sure are peculiar pets.

March 7, 2011

Candy Land vs. Promised Land

Filed under: Faith — My Heart's Home @ 1:29 am

He throws up his hands in defeat and mumbles, “I quit.” (He’s prone to give up before crossing the finish line.) My kindergartner hates losing, especially when candy’s involved. After all, it’s Candy Land. Gum drops await the champion.

I encourage him—as any good Mommy would—that the game’s not over yet. There’s still a chance he could win. The odds are not in his favor, mind you. I’m just one hop away from the rainbow ending and gum drop bounty; he’s 35 paces behind. And it’s my turn. The odds of my drawing an undesirable card are about 10%. I encourage him nonetheless. Then I draw…

an undesirable card.

The peanut.

Which pumults me 64 spaces backwards.

Ten spaces behind his spot. He perks up. Hope is restored. A few cards later and he’s popping gum drops into his mouth. We both smile.

Maybe my son learned a lesson today about perseverance.

Who knew, even in Candy Land there are lessons to be learned.

My prayer for my son is that he won’t become a quitter. That he’ll keep his eye on the prize and never give up in defeat. Life is difficult and running the good race Christ has set before us is filled with many obstacles. May he have Goliath faith like David and slay every giant; like Peter to step over every wave; like Noah adding planks beneath a dry sky; like Moses trusting God will part tumultuous seas and bring dry land. I pray he will fight the good fight, persevere and cross the finish line that leads to the eternal Promised Land and a bounty of heavenly treasures beyond his wildest dreams.

Where gum drops will pale in comparison.

“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love Him. . ..” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

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