My Heart's Home

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

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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!!

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

December 11, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Filed under: Christmas,Contentment — My Heart's Home @ 3:43 pm

Who knew a blanket of snow would warm the cockles of this California girl’s heart?

Last weekend it snowed four inches in my transplanted state, Indiana. As I was driving to the Ladies Christmas breakfast, joy overflowed in my heart like rooftop icicles. The sights surrounding me were breathtaking. I had to pull over. Whipping my camera out I snapped away.

What wonderful sights:

Birch trees peeling back their skin.

White-capped branches hanging low.

Kids playfully pummeling snowballs.

Kind of ironic being warm-weather-raised, but I LOVE icicles!


Then yesterday morning as I was driving to meet a friend at Starbucks, another sight captured my heart. I noticed hundreds of twigs sticking up out of the snow. Nothing spectacular you might say, but it was one of the most magnificent sights I’ve ever seen. The sunlight was shining on them and reflecting the light in such a way it looked like a million diamonds sparkling!!

Moments like that leave me breathless, speechless and in awe of a God who creates the most beautiful moments no camera could ever recreate.

I didn’t even try.


November 10, 2010

New Guinea

Filed under: Contentment,Prayer — My Heart's Home @ 12:33 am

It is time to get my kindergartener a pet. I search my local animal shelter, online, for a furry friend to adopt. Since my son’s classroom displays guinea pigs–which he feeds before, during and after school–I want to buy him one. A 10-month-old, black and white guinea named Lady Oreo catches my eye. She is the only cavy advertised among a flurry of fluffy felines and canines, so I figure it’s fate her four legs join our six-legged family. Being Abyssinian, curses her with many cowlicks causing bad hair days every day, which endears her all the more to me.

Mind you, I know nothing about these peculiar pets, so I search the Information Highway:

  • Guinea pigs often ‘popcorn’–twitch or jerk suddenly when happy or excited. (Googled that query in a panic after I thought she was having a seizure!)
  • Their claws need clipping, but I must be careful not to cut to the quick. (That common phrase now makes sense etymologically.)
  • They are skittish little creatures.

Skittish is an understatement. A simple sneeze sends her hotfooting into her igloo faster than a centipede running a marathon. Whenever I try to grab her from her cage’s confines for extra-curricular activity, she frantically darts here, there and anywhere away from my grasp.

But once in my lap she purrs like she hasn’t a care in the world as I stroke her rosette-curled coat.

Contentment.

The next day the pattern repeats:

I reach, she darts.

She darts, I reach.

I win.

This occurs week after week. “When is she going to trust me?” I lament. After all, I am no threat. I offer her two solid meals a day of vitamin-filled veggies, an all-you-can-eat buffet of hay and keep her bottle brim-filled with fresh H2o. I set the thermostat’s temperature neither too hot nor too cold. I give her undivided attention and let her frolic, prance and play on our carpet. I even buy her a cage mate to ward off loneliness, after discovering cavies are social critters.

I spoil her with Yogies!—peach-colored, cheese-flavored, itsy-bitsy treats she devours twice a day.

(Any human would envy such pampering!)

Yet she runs like the dickens every time my hand draws near. The youngest swiftly follows.

But be-still-my-heart when one rests in my lap and lets me pet her.

We both purr.

Observing my new guineas’ behavior mirrors my relationship with God. Sometimes my busyness and frantic pace keep me hotfooting here, there and anywhere except where I should be: in my Father’s lap, resting. I often flinch, flight and flee when His pruning shears snip at my selfish, spoiled, sinful heart. Instead of trusting He’s enough, I worry, fret and complain, wallowing in my poopy mess until the stench overwhelms me and I beg for His grace, peace and mercy to deliver me.

He blesses me so much, yet I take so much for granted. I have oodles to be grateful for: a roof overhead; a stocked fridge; a full stomach; a warm bed, a clothed back; a soft couch; a healthy heart; running water; dependable cars; a green lawn; a steady income; a church community.

Friends who are generous, gracious and good to me.

A husband who is faithful, forgiving and my best friend.

A neighbor who brings me newspapers, peaches and presents.

Yet one trip to the mall, a visit to Hearst Castle, an episode of Oprah’s Favorite Things annual giveaway show and my heart plummets to Discontentville, the land of the wants vs. needs, the haves vs. have-nots, the gimme mores vs. the could care lesses. Where every corner store has a Bigger, Better, Best window display yanking at my purse strings. A town where money talks, grows on trees and foots the bill. Where The Jones’ grass is always greener as my eyes grow green with envy.

Oh, what a pathetic little creature I become.

While somewhere in the world:

…a little boy my son’s age wonders when, or if, he will eat again.

…a little girl sleeps on a stained, flea-infested single mattress she shares with two siblings.

..a helpless wife watches her husband exhale one last time as cancer’s claws clutch another victim.

Oh, Lord, help me curl in contentment’s lap and be thankful, always, for the little–and big things–I take for granted each day.

♥ What 10 things are you grateful for right now? ♥

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. 4:11-12

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