My Heart's Home

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


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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

 

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