My Heart's Home

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

 

Advertisements

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

 

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! ~

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“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.”

June 11, 2011

Do Small Things With Great Love

Filed under: Encouragement,Faith,Freedom,Healing — My Heart's Home @ 7:23 pm

“What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.”  ~ Mother Teresa 

Sometimes I feel miniscule. I am swallowed up by this big ol’ world, rejected and spit from its mouth like a worthless watermelon seed. No matter how hard I try, some individuals always pronounce me guilty. I feel like a puzzle piece trying to squeeze myself perfectly into that empty spot, but I’m constantly rejected. My edges are bruised, frayed and torn as a result. I never fit. I’m the wrong piece, wrong color, wrong shape.

I’m tired of trying to fit in.

Besides, it’s not my job to fill someone’s empty places. I can’t fix what is broken. I can’t mend what’s frayed. Only God can. It’s His job, not mine. 

When others cut deep with their words because I choose to stop playing God, I remind myself: I don’t belong to this world. This is not my home. I am only a tourist, passing through. The Judge (Jesus) , The Ringleader (Holy Spirit/Comforter) and Master Gardener (G0d) are my guides. It is these Three whom I serve and pledge my allegiance. I cannot place anyone above God in my life and I cannot try to be anyone’s God. That’s a burden too heavy to carry, so I must walk away and leave my stethoscope, defibrillator and bandages behind. The rejection comes and stabs its blades deep into my heart. I bleed, but the Master Healer is nearby, so I will learn to breathe again. I may feel battered, broken, and bruised, but as long as I continue to kneel at the foot of the cross, I will always find my way and never get lost. This heart will heal and I trust it in His hands. In this dark, cold and foreign land, The Judge, Ringleader and Master Gardener are my lamp, my shelter and my compass. I am never alone, abandoned or forgotten as long as these Three abide in me. My orphaned heart has found its home.

The Judge lowers His gavel: innocent of all charges.

The Ringleader shouts I belong under His Big Top.

My seeds always bear fruit in the Master Gardener’s hands.

I don’t need to prove my worthiness; He already did. I am worthy because He says I am. I am His child. His precious daughter. I am adopted into His family. I have been given a new name, Hephzibah: “My delight is in her.” I am spotless, forgiven, cleansed, pure, holy and accepted.

Just as I am.

Always.

I don’t need the world to confirm it.

That’s FREEDOM!

I am only one, but I can make a difference…because of The One within me.

Dear children, you belong to God. So you have won the victory over these people, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. – 1 John 4:4

Out of His abundant love my spirit overflows:

to do small things with great love.

Like bringing flowers to a stranger who tragically lost her husband.

Like buying a brand-spanking-new bike for a neglected 10-year-old boy who’s never had one.

Like making this painting for my elderly and childless Catholic neighbor who loves on my son.

The closer I grow to God the more I begin to:

…pray for my enemies.

…refuse to let seeds of bitterness take root.

…choose to extend grace.

I want to view the world through His eyes, reach out to others with His hands and touch others with His heart. Not because I need their approval and acceptance, but because I already am approved and accepted by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I want the recipient to feel His redemption and grace, as well. I want them to feel better about the One who sent me. I want others to see Jesus in me. I want to be His eyes, His hands, His feet.

Because only I can do what God has called me to do.

And His is the only voice I will heed. All others are mute.

In His eyes I’m the perfect piece, perfect color, perfect shape.

For His perfect plan.

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” – 2 Chronicles 16:9

“He told them: The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” – Luke 10:2

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44 

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ… The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.” 1 Corinthians 12:12 & 21-23



May 27, 2011

Never Give Up

Filed under: Encouragement,Faith,Healing — My Heart's Home @ 8:55 pm

                                                                                                                   “Never, never, never, never give up!” – Winston Churchill

Years ago I gave up. I stopped believing. Not in God, but in myself. My dream. All because I allowed someone to bulldoze my confidence. Subsequently, I lost faith in myself…my talent…my gift…my calling.

To write.

Now that dream is alive and well, despite setbacks, roadblocks, detours and a few flat tires along the way. My career careened off course all because I believed a voice that told me, “I couldn’t…I wouldn’t…I shouldn’t…”

I wish I could erase the lies I believed from someone who didn’t believe in me. Someone who had an agenda, ulterior motive, vengeful spirit. Someone who used feathers from my clipped wings to help them fly. Someone who would rather watch others trip over their own two feet instead of hailing them victor when the race is won.

Through this experience I learned to regret. I regret giving someone permission to distort my dream, weigh my worthiness, pummel my passion. It wasn’t the first time someone looked at me through a distorted lens and blurred my vision. Why did I let them drown my confidence like a rose petal in battery acid? Because I believed they knew better? Because my well of doubt already ran deep? Because they were older and wiser?

Older maybe, but not wiser.

Wisdom doesn’t automatically grow with age, only wrinkles and gray hairs do.

Why didn’t the encouraging voices drown out the ones that were drowning me? Why didn’t their sweet melody out weigh that discouraging dissonance? Why did I accept the lies all tied up with their ugly bow and discard the truth like a soiled diaper? I don’t know. Maybe it was just easier to believe and wrap my mind and heart around lies because they were all too familiar. When you live without the light of day for so long, your vision learns to adjust to the dark.

Sometimes I’m tempted to regret, but I have confidence God works all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

          So I can’t. I won’t. I shan’t.

REGRET THE PAST.

Because the plant of bitterness is watered with regret. With “should haves, would haves, could haves.” Instead, I will choose today to start anew. To believe the truth. Leave lies behind like paper dolls I’ve outgrown and don’t play with anymore.

Never, never, never, never again will I give up…

MY dream, which is God’s ultimate will and plan for my life.

This ‘dream’ might not come in the wrapping paper I choose, but it is always the perfect gift in the end. I will never exchange it for another. I will never demand a refund.

God’s word says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms 37:4) This doesn’t mean we come to Him with our shopping list of requests like He’s ol’ Kris Kringle. But when we align our heart with His and surrender totally to His will, our dreams take a shape only His hands can mold. “Yet You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the Potter; we are all the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 His perfect plan mysteriously unfolds in us as we allow the Master Potter to shape our lives. But first we must let go of everything that is holding us back.

 No holds barred. 

I believe today: for every naysayer who says you can’t, there will always be someone in your corner who says you can. And He has so many blessings He’s just waiting to pour out to those who seek Him with their whole heart.

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

He wants nothing more than to see you cross that finish line victorious! It’s your choice whose voice you will listen to, believe and trust. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

He has a plan for our lives. Along this road called life, we all experience setbacks, detours, roadblocks and flat tires. Fortunately, God allows U-Turns and it’s never too late to get back on the right path and let Him steer us in the right direction.

“I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress. Abiding love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. So rejoice in Him, all those who are His, and shout for joy, all those who try to obey Him.” Psalms 32:8, 10-11)

With God there is no expiration date on our dreams.

“God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn; He will never go back on His promises.” Romans 11:29

So today I choose to believe:

I CAN, I WILL, I SHALL…

Overcome. The. Past.

For God’s TRUTH tells me:

“If God is for me who can be against me?” (Romans 8:31)

“But He was pierced of my rebellion, crushed for my sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. By His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

 “For God hath not given me the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

“In all my ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct my paths.” (Proverbs 3:6)

“Delight myself in the Lord and He will give me the desires of my heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

Now I am learning to accept His truth like a precious gift and discard the lies like garbage. I KNOW I will cross that sweet finish line of victory, because I will never doubt again: Someone believes in me.

And I promise to help those limping along the sidelines cross their finish lines, too, by being encouraging, supportive and a believer of dreams.

For dreams can only come true if one truly believes…in the One who never gives up believing in us.

I believe.

Do YOU?

CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO WATCH AN INSPIRING VIDEO CLIP:

Never Give Up

Click this link to read an inspiring story about a best-selling novelist: Kathryn Stockett’s ‘The Help’ Turned Down 60 Times Before Becoming a Best Seller

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Mark 9:23

“In the same way, the last will be first, and the first will be last, because many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 20:16

“Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1





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
Tags:

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


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

February 19, 2011

The Love Boat

Filed under: Faith — My Heart's Home @ 2:21 pm

French Sculptor, Julien Berthier, sails a sinking ship. In fact, its been across the English Channel and even toured around Europe.

Call him crazy, but I call him clever.

His boat sculpture, built in 2007, resembles a capsizing ship. It’s called “Love Love” and I love, love it!

The 35-year-old artist (and trickster) adapted an abandoned yacht into a 21-foot sculpture that is actually sea worthy. He cut the original boat in half, sealed it with fiberglass and fitted it with two motors. Despite the capsizing look, he claims it’s safe and easy to maneuver. It now sails at a 45 degree angle, which has passers-by and dutiful seafarers doing double-takes.

It’s a mind-boggling scene. A relaxed sailor at the stern of what appears to be a boat heading to a watery grave. (I’d like to place a fishing pole in his hands to add even more bafflement.)

Berthier often alerts coast guard and harbor masters about his sculpture to alleviate any unwarranted rescues resulting from distressed callers. Jaws drop as minutes pass and the boat is still afloat.

“Love-Love”, like much of his oeuvre, is a masterpiece. It’s impressive, poetic and humorous. His purpose in creating this art of fiasco is to “fix an object at the moment of its deregulation.” The sinking ship image is a metaphor signifying death, lost hope and sinking dreams. (That’s like an anchor: deep.)

All I know is it makes me smile.

Especially when I see the photo below of “Love Love” docked at a boat slip alongside hundreds of other normal-looking boats. It stands out. One quick glance and no question which boat is his. (Maybe I should make a sculpture of my SUV like this. Never again will I scratch my head asking, “Where the heck did I park this time?”) I love how it rises above the crowd, is one-of-a-kind, distinguishable from the rest. Not boring, camouflaged or status quo. It can’t be overlooked, dismissed, averted. It commands attention, raises eyebrows, beckons curiosity. Why? Because it’s different from the pack.

How many of us dare to live our Christian faith this way?

'Love Love' is shown alongside boats in a harbor.

 

“…so that you will 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. 2:15

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Romans 12:2

“In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.