My Heart's Home

April 29, 2011

Someone’s Bugging Me

Filed under: Easter,Faith,Prayer — My Heart's Home @ 6:21 pm

Call the exterminator.

I believe my home is being bugged.

The pastor shared something personal about me last Sunday. Gasp, it’s true. And I’m peeved. He almost used the exact words I cried to God the day before: ‘How can I learn to trust You, God, when I can’t even see you? It’s hard enough trusting people I CAN see.’ Ahem. Like my pastor who’s spilling the beans.

The more he spoke, the more I squirmed.

I looked around, and lo and behold, everyone was staring at me, including my pastor! The jig is up. I melted under the pew. Then I shook my head, rubbed my eyes and blinked to discover…

no one staring at me. 

Am I paranoid? Psychotic? Losing my marbles? How could he know my business? I would agree if this was a one-time occurrence, but it happens all the time. How does the pastor know what I’m thinking, feeling and going through? Every Sunday. There’s only one logical solution:

My home must be bugged.

As soon as I slid into slippers, I searched every plant, lampshade, nook and cranny in my home. I even lifted my son’s shirt hunting for that wire.

Yes, I’m kidding, but it makes me wonder: How does Pastor Tom know me so well? We’ve never exchanged more than pleasantries. No deep conversations. No tears shed at the altar. No passionate pleas. Ever. How does he know my heart’s cries? It’s perplexing. It’s confusing. It’s got me scratching my head…

searching for a bug!

Ever happen to you? The pastor’s sermon becomes a special meal handpicked off today’s menu, complete with sweet tea and homemade apple pie for dessert?  It’s uncanny. It’s mind-boggling. It’s supernatural.

It’s God.

The One who knows us intimately because He created us. He knit us together in our mother’s womb. He formed us in His image. His eyes search our heart peering into every nook and cranny, every crevice and dark place to heal, transform and renew. Like Paul Mitchell He wants to remove shades of gray, heal our split ends and get to the root of the problem.

He may be invisible, but His love is always tangible.

He uses the hands, tongues and hearts of His earthly servants to remind us we are never alone, beyond reach or without hope.

Now that’s the kind of bugs I want in my home.

“How blessed are those who have never seen me and yet have believed!” John 20:29

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

“And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:15


April 23, 2011

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Filed under: Easter,Faith,Freedom,Healing — My Heart's Home @ 1:48 pm
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I realized something today; it’s taken me almost 50 years.

I’ve been carrying a heavy load.

Call me hunchback. I’ve dragged a sackcloth bag of bricks that didn’t belong to me. Fear and insecurity have been my lamplight. I’ve let someone else’s distorted vision of me taint my own. It’s even blurred my view of God. I’ve believed lies disguised as the truth. For decades. I’ve held onto shame others inflicted on me as if it were my own cross to bear.

I was enmeshed. 

Caught in a web. 

Tangled. 

I’ve cried tears I was never meant to shed for another whose eyes remained dry. I’ve been climbing a mountain that wasn’t mine to climb. I’ve been running a marathon, that wasn’t mine to race. I’ve been passing out water to spectators along the way, yet no one has offered me a refreshing beverage. My shoes are muddy, my laces ragged and my socks torn. My feet are blistered and bruised like my heart. I’ve been waiting for a new pair of shoes, but the cobbler is AWOL.

I’ve been standing in a frozen trench like a soldier in a grave, cold and forgotten, while taking the bullet for someone else. I am not bullet proof. I have no vest to guard my heart. I’ve been wounded and yet no stretchers await. I am lying on blades of glass and the shards cut deep. All is dark and silent. I’m just waiting for that last layer of dirt to bury me alive like quicksand.

But it won’t. You know why? Because I realized something today:

I am a child of God.

I can empty this backpack. I can quench my thirst. I can clasp another’s hand.

By His stripes I can be healed.

He offers me a 21-gun salute. An honorable discharge. A purple heart.

 He offers me freedom.

“It for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Easter reminds me that I am not alone. Someone has gone before who carried a cross of shame that wasn’t His to carry… He climbed a steep and rugged mountain that wasn’t His to climb… He ran a grueling marathon, giving all He had to cross that finish line and claim victory for me.

 I must never forget:

The stone’s been rolled away.

He is my infantry.

It is He who stands in the trenches for me. It is He who lifts me out of the miry pit. It is He who sets my feet on solid ground. It is He who sends His winged troops to ward off the enemy. It is He who offers me life-giving water, so I will never thirst again. It is He who removes this heavy-laden backpack, squares my shoulders and says ‘stand tall’.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

It is He who fought the greatest battle of all and won.

It is He, my Lord and Savior, who holds in His hands a new pair of shoes.

 Just my size.

Click here for song: 

He’s Alive

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high.” Leviticus 26:13

“Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Philippians 1:29

“For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with His comfort through Christ.” 2 Cor. 1:5

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” John 15:18-20

“Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion.” Isaiah 52:2

“In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you. Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me. Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.” Isaiah 54:14-15

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1

April 16, 2011

Pink Azaleas

Filed under: Easter,Encouragement,Faith — My Heart's Home @ 2:41 pm

Across from the only gas station in town it stands.

Barely.

Worn, weathered and weary. It’s an eyesore to passerby. Old, abandoned, dilapidated. Trellis broken. Pillars stained. Windows cracked. Everything about this tumbledown home is unappealing except…

On one side of the structure—amidst all the weeds, briars, vines, limbs, bushes and debris—is a patch of azaleas. The most beautiful pink blooms you have ever seen. A juxtaposition of beauty amidst squalor.

It’s a reminder to those who view the property with disgust that it wasn’t always a demolitionist’s dream. Once upon a time it was a place of love, beauty and care. Someone painstakingly planted those azaleas on bended knee. They tended them, admired them and cherished them. Gentle hands no longer prune, pluck or primp. The owners have since passed like the seasons. Cobwebs fill halls and rooms ransacked and picked over by strangers like the cotton fields nearby. The only residents are mice. Everything about the place screams ‘forsaken’, yet flowers bloom despite all.

Spring has come and with it breathes new life weeds cannot choke silent.

Hope’s reborn.

I know this place well. I strolled porch steps in Mary Janes and high heels. I swayed in that rusty swing. I roasted pecans culled from backyard limbs. It was my paternal grandparents’ home. It’s where I gulped the sweetest tea, gnawed the saltiest ham and satiated hunger pangs with boiled peanuts. It’s where my grandma quilted, sewed and knitted. Where her fingertips tap danced across piano keys and wrapped around my heart. It’s where my grandpa, who died before I was born, practiced his sermons. It’s where I played Scrabble and tried couscous for the first time. It’s where my biological father lived at 69, surrounded by wall-to-wall books, his only prized possessions. It’s where we once shared a 12-hour phone conversation. It’s where I slept. It’s where I stepped into a porcelain bath.  It’s where I walked creaky floors. It’s where my grandpa and his bookworm son took their last breaths.

It’s where my grandma tended garden.

This home may be forsaken, but never forgotten.

Those beautiful pink azaleas are like my grandmother’s voice whispering hope to me: Never give up. Persevere. Despite life’s ugliness…beauty and love transcend all.

Before we know it life can fall apart at the seams. Heartache can strip away our joy like peeling paint. Sin and sorrow can engulf our heart and mind like twisting weeds and vines, depriving our spirit of nourishment and life. Will we plow through trials, tragedies and turmoil to triumph against the odds? Will we sink in muck and mire or boldly stand our ground, flourish and thrive despite our surroundings? Will we be overtaken or overcome? Will we uproot evil with good?

Easter is a reminder that God’s love is boundless…It even trumped the grave.

Let beautiful azaleas also remind us love and beauty are more powerful than all the depravation of the world. Amidst the sin, darkness and evil lurking to pull us under and do us in…love, hope and joy must always persevere and overcome.

Let Christ restore, transform and resurrect the broken, forsaken and lifeless. Spring has arrived. He is Spring. He redeems the dead.

Let the flowers bloom.

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13


April 8, 2011

Just Say No

Filed under: Prayer — My Heart's Home @ 7:01 pm

Just Say No DecalEver received a chain letter? I have, several times. I’ve copied them, transferred names, mailed the dishcloth, recipe and whatnot on numerous occasions. Once, something actually came out of all my work. I received a cute dishcloth back. Just one. Not several, which was the whole idea initially. So now I don’t do chain letters anymore. Too much effort for far too little results. I choose to use my time more effectively these days.

But I always let the person who sent me the chain letter know I was opting out.

Usually at the bottom of such letters is a statement like: “if you are unable, unwilling or uninterested in participating in this please let me know, so we can remove your name from the list and the process will not be interrupted. Trust me, my feelings will not be hurt.” I recall including this statement in a chain letter I sent several years ago to at least six friends. Only one of them ended up participating and replying. It made me curious: why did the others not reply? Did they feel they’d hurt my feelings in the long run? I don’t understand sometimes why friends are hesitant to be open about their feelings with one another.

A chain letter may be a trivial thing, but it made me wonder if we are not comfortable in being forthright with one another in the little, seemingly insignificant things like a chain letter, what about the larger, more important issues in life? Will we be timid there also? Like speaking up against a brutalizing bully? Like sharing our view on celibacy amidst our non-Christian single peers? Like taking a firm stand against social issues that God in His Word clearly opposes?  JUST SAY NO!!!

We can’t sit silent, passive and afraid to offend if we want to be effective in God’s kingdom.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”  Psalm 56: 3-4

So many churches nowadays water down the gospel and avoid controversial subjects because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, possibly face empty pews or fewer checks in the offering plate. Hogwash! If that’s the case, that’s not the kind of church I would want to be a member of! Did Jesus avoid stirring waters? Did He not make people question things? Did He shy away from the Pharisees, kings, rulers of His day? No, Jesus was definitely not a passivist!

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3

Too many times we don’t let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ or our ‘no’ be ‘no’ and we end up in avoidance traps by our tip toeing, tap dancing and hemming and hawing our way around things. That’s how Christians become wishy-washy compromisers and nobody has a clue where we stand, including ourselves.

Ever heard the saying: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” I believe it.

We need to know what we believe and have the courage and confidence to live it out. Maybe women are fearful of being bold because they confuse it with being aggressive. I grew up being very passive, so I know how hard it can be to speak up and voice an opinion, but I was a child then. Now I am an adult woman who belongs to Christ, so it’s time to be bold and courageous about my faith and convictions.

“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 childish ways behind me.” 1 Cor. 13:11

Let us boldly speak truth in love, just as we want truth spoken to us.

“Devote yourselves to prayer…praying…that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of  Christ…making the most of the opportunity.  Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned , as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.” Colossians 4:2-6

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14

April 1, 2011

Dirty Ovens

Filed under: Encouragement,Grace — My Heart's Home @ 8:15 pm

I confess. My oven is filthy. It’s way overdue for a good scrub down.

Even self-cleaning ovens need a little elbow grease.

Maybe it’s last on my priority list because it’s a hidden mess. Unless you’re Hansel or Gretel I don’t expect you to peer inside my stove. (Only a white-gloved busybody would do that and I know better than to invite them to my home.)

My ‘To Do’ list runs a mile long:

Finish reading ‘Life of Pi’ and half a dozen other books.

Make dental appointments.

Schedule mammogram appointment. (Yippee.)

Finish homework for two Bible studies.

Prepare to lead next Monday night’s Bible study.

Sell items on Ebay.

Buy items on Ebay.

Find out the sex of my baby guinea pigs.

Get the daddy fixed, so there will be no more surprises.

Finish writing my book.

Pull weeds.

Plant flowers.

Pull more weeds.

Pack away winter and unpack summer clothes.

Reupholster my wicker furniture.

Replace garbage disposal.

Organize walk-in closet.

Catch up on three years’ worth of scrapbooking.

Upload photos to order books online from now on.

Paint deck.

CLEAN MY OVEN.

I have a dirty oven. What area are you hiding behind closed doors? Maybe it’s your basement, closet, garage, fridge, attic, under your bed.

We all have messes we don’t want exposed.

Last weekend we had guests. My sister-in-law, brother-in-law and their older daughter. It was great motivation to whip out the vacuum, broom and duster, since they’ve never visited before. I cleaned from top to bottom, east to west. All except one area. I figured: “they’ll never look inside my stove.”

We ordered pizza, but unbeknownst to me, my sister-in-law is now on a special gluten-free diet. Subsequently, she brought her own meal. Then those dreaded words were spoken:

“Can I use your oven to heat this up?”

~ GULP ~

“Um, sure, just apply this blindfold first.”

We laughed, I apologized, then she confessed her own dirty messes. Sigh.

No judgment.

No criticism.

No finger pointing.

After all, doesn’t everyone have areas in their lives that could use a little Spring cleaning? Nobody’s life is spotless.

On some level, don’t we all have dirty ovens?

Everyone harbors invisible mites, dust bunnies and cobwebs in the recesses of their heart. (If you don’t agree, let Jesus remove your blindfold.)

I told my sister-in-law I love being around her because she’s always so encouraging, positive and non-judgmental. She replied, “Life is hard; we’re all just trying to do the best we can.”

GRACE

Gotta have it. Gotta give it. Gotta love it.

Isn’t it refreshing to be around others who exude grace?

Do you wear white gloves pointing out the messes in other people’s lives, yet conceal soiled fingernails? If so, it’s time to remove them and extend grace-filled hands today.

Maybe the person you need to show the most grace to is yourself. Be your own best friend and allow yourself some slack.

Remember, Pobody’s Nerfect.

We’re all just trying to do the best we can.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3

“He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” John 8:7

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” Psalm 145:8-9

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