My Heart's Home

September 13, 2011

Extreme Makeover

Filed under: Encouragement,Freedom,Healing,joy — My Heart's Home @ 4:33 pm

unwanted. unloved. unworthy.

Rejected.

I used to feel this way.

All because I let others define me. When they weighed my worth, the scale was always in their favor and I was viewed as a deficit. I never measured up. Trying to earn their love was like trying to lasso the moon. Futile, but I didn’t know; I was just a child. So I kept slinging that rope—trying different tactics, different strategies, different angles—but, of course, nothing worked and never would. It was impossible, but I didn’t know. I figured it was my fault when I was flogged after every failed attempt, so I kept trying harder and harder and harder to lasso that forever evasive moon. I needed to prove my love so I wouldn’t be rejected by the love I thought I needed most. But I always failed. It was hopeless.

Thus I grew up feeling like a tumbledown barn—splintered on every side—about to implode, crumble and bury myself beneath moonbeams.

discouraged. despaired. defeated. dispensable. discarded. dismissed. devalued. depressed. disowned. disheartened. dejected.

SLICE. DICE. SPLICE.

At some point we’ve all experienced the painful sword of rejection stabbing us with its brutal blade. (Some of us more than others.) Whether it’s in the form of a pink slip, a returned ring, a failed grade, a deformity scoffed, a parent’s neglect, a teacher’s jab, a skipped promotion, an absent father, a sister’s slander, a brother’s betrayal, a vow broken, a cold shoulder, a belt’s bruise, a schoolmate’s snub, an abandoned bassinet, a barren womb…

Maybe an alcoholic, workaholic or rageaholic raised you… Or perhaps your sister was the talented, pretty and scholarly one… Maybe your bank account, square footage or Friend’s List didn’t tally up…

Rejection, in whatever form, chops a heart like ax to log. 

Satan’s deepest wound is rejection’s arrow piercing our heart. Because he was ostracized from Heaven and knows his reign on earth is short term, his goal is to project his rejection onto mankind as fervently as he can, while he can. Especially women. Why? Because we by nature are nurturing. If he can wound life bearers, causing them to reject their offspring, then generations upon generations will be limping on crutches forever scarred. Meanwhile, Satan will hammock swing, sip his Red Devil and revel in all the chaos he created.

Satan thrives on chaos.

I love the show Extreme Makeover Home Edition where designers perform jaw-dropping makeovers on someone’s outdated home. As an artist myself, I love taking something old and transforming it into something new. It’s more valuable to me than any tagged item for sale at Macy’s. Mainly because I can patiently and lovingly restore it or possibly increase its original value. For example…

Does this wicker furniture look beautiful to you? Does it appear valuable? Is it still useful? Or should it be overlooked, forsaken and tossed in a junkyard?

What about now? 

Before I purchased this shabby-looking furniture, I noticed the label and discovered this is a Henry Lane, quality, built-to-last brand of wicker furniture. After realizing its true value outweighed the asking price—and envisioning its beautiful transformation after a few coats of paint, new upholstery and a little TLC—I snatched it up without hesitation.

Do you realize your own value, worth and beauty? Do you look in the mirror and see shabby, dirty and discarded or Priceless, Perfect and Precious?

Do you see beautiful?

What label are you wearing?

Is it time for a wardrobe change? Is it time to adjust the aperture on your heart’s lens? Is it time to rebuild the barn?

If you’re not sure how, let the Master Carpenter help you.

Notice I started this post with ‘I USED to feel unwanted, unloved and unworthy.’ REJECTED. But now? Now I feel Priceless, Perfect and Precious because God says I am.

The opposite of rejection is acceptance. How do we move from feelings of rejection to the joy of acceptance? We accept God’s overwhelming love for us.

Satan can try to force feed me his poisonous lies—pointing out all my failures, flaws and faux pas—but I refuse to swallow. I only focus and feast on the truth now. The truth that tells me: You knit me together… I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). I am a precious jewel (Malachi 3:17). Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, [she] is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I absolutely, without a doubt, am a new creation because of Him!

Let’s shed, scorn and scorch old junkyard duds and worn out labels of ‘unwanted, unloved and unworthy’ and clothe ourselves, instead, in our Designer’s truth. We are Priceless, Perfect and Precious. God says we are because of Jesus and our faith in Him. We may not always feel it, but that’s OK. Our feelings may change, but the facts don’t and never will. The truth is the truth.

Never again will you be called ‘The Forsaken City’ or ‘The Desolate Land.’ Your new name will be ‘The City of God’s Delight’ and ‘The Bride of God,’ for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as His bride (Isaiah 62:4)

Thank you, Lord, for your truth, which counteracts lies and restores broken hearts to wholeness.

Thank you for your transformation.

Thank you for your restoration.

Thank you for your beautification.

I don’t know why we sometimes suffer the way we do, but I DO know God will use our pain for His glory, if we let Him and surrender our lives totally and unreservedly to Him and His purpose.

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up and adopt me as His child (Psalm 27:10).

Keep me as the apple of Your eye, hide me in the shadow or Your wings (Psalm 17:8).


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


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

 

July 12, 2011

Dust in the Wind

Filed under: Freedom,Grace,Healing — My Heart's Home @ 12:24 am

(Paraphrased from John 8: 1-11)

There she stands. Cowers. Trembles. She’s one amongst the crowd. The hoity-toity scribes, Pharisees, and economically prosperous all thumb their noses at her, this woman covered in dirt. As they cast their judgmental glances upon her, she feels helpless, forsaken, tormented. They are inches away, hurling their insults, accusations, and spittle. Pointing fingers like hair-triggered pistols aimed to kill, not maim. Their fists white-knuckled around stones they are eager to throw. Her heart is their bull’s-eye.

She’s the adulteress… The one judged guilty as sin. 

Another joins the angry mob. On her knees with back bent low, she watches His sandals stir up dust. Through strands of hair possibly streaked with tears, sweat and others’ saliva, she sees Him in the sunrise.

The only One who stands in her defense.

The crowd demands stoning as her atoning; they ask Jesus if He agrees. He kneels in the dirt beside her. His fingertip traces in the sand. They demand His response. They want to know if Jesus agrees with them, this crowd of finger pointers.

He does.

The woman’s heart sinks, like her shoulders, in despair. She’s outnumbered. All hope is lost. She’s doomed. Not one is on her side. She braces herself for stones to bruise, cut and silence her heartbeat once and for all. She waits for blood to spill. Her own.

She feels their hateful glares sear her alabaster skin like a torch. She watches stone filled fists rise and swing like bows bent to hurl sharpened arrows… She holds her breath…she tightens her jaw…she winces and shuts her eyes. Maybe the end will come quickly. One blow to her brow and the deafening crowd will be hushed forever.

Wait! Not so fast.

Jesus no longer kneels. He stands upright in front of her, facing the crowd. He stands for one who cannot. He becomes her only ally, her friend, her Savior. They pause to let Him speak. He tells them they can stone her, but there is ONE condition:

“He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.”

The clamorous crowd is silenced. He kneels again beside the woman. His finger paints in sand. The crowd is perplexed. What do they see? Is He writing their names and listing their sins, one-by-one, as if turning pages in private diaries? (I like to speculate He was, although Scripture isn’t clear.) Are they thinking, “How does He know what I did last night, last week, last year?” Are they ashamed and embarrassed by their own hypocrisy? The logs in their eye? Their Scarlet Letters being exposed for all to read? Their sins hanging like soiled laundry in the light of day? You betcha. (At least I like to picture it this way!)

The adulteress raises her head slowly and peers into their eyes. Young and old cringe as their sins reflect in her tears.

Their raised hands fall.

Their pointing fingers bend.

Their heads held high bow.

Their self-righteous indignation blows like dust in the wind under Jesus’ finger. 

The woman listens to the most beautiful sound she’s ever heard: stones dropping and shifting sands. As each accuser turns and slithers away like snakes into grass. Only Jesus remains. He stands beside her and asks, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has anyone condemned you?” I picture Him smiling and gazing at her lovingly.

She answers, “No man, Lord.” Then Jesus says to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

Grace. Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound.

I wonder where the adulteress woman went after this encounter with Jesus… Do you think she hotfooted back into her lover’s arms?

Yes, you betcha, all the way.

And He never let her go.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Matthew 7:1

“You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye. Then you will see clearly to remove the piece of sawdust from another believer’s eye.” – Matthew 7:5

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” – Matthew 7:21

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 21, 2011

Bitter Pills

Filed under: Freedom,Grace,Healing,Parenting — My Heart's Home @ 1:18 pm

I recognize her gray hair and cringe. We share the neighborhood. She walks shoulders hunched clasping toddler’s hand. They cross pavement. She is silent, but her voice is familiar. Her rages penetrate walls and echo down quiet streets. Too often.

School buses arrive to transport students home. I park as the two draw closer. I pray for courage to approach, if led, but hope I’m not. I close car door as they walk in front. I am brave. “Do you remember me?” I smile and rub the toddler’s shiny ebony bangs. She grins and nods. I tell her, “You’re so sweet.”

The grandma mutters, “No she’s not.”

Her words hit me like a rubber band. Did I hear correctly? “What?” I ask, staring at the lady’s wrinkled face. “No she’s not,” she snaps matter of fact, confirming my hearing’s intact. Gobsmacked, I keep smiling and rub the toddler’s bangs again, “Oh, yes you are. You’re sweet, aren’t you?” Grandma speaks as if sharing a secret, her pupils shift to the right corner sockets, “Looks can be deceiving.” I want to cover the girl’s ears.

No child’s heart deserves poisonous darts.

I focus on the one who has no voice, “You’ve always been nice to me, haven’t you?” She nods then her head hangs low like her bangs. I hope she clings to my affirmative words like a buoy when that tight grasp is released. The grandma retorts, “You don’t have to live with her.” I look straight in her squinted eyes and say as lovingly as possible, “That’s MEAN!” She continues without blinking, “She can be SPITEFUL.” (Without pointing fingers I know who the spiteful one is.)

Her lips stiffen. My skin crawls.

This bitter pill is hard to swallow.

“But she eats stuff like that up whenever anyone says it.” I sense the urge to inquire about Susie Sunshine’s childhood, but refrain. Her actions speak louder than words.

I extend grace. “Must be a handful taking care of all these kids, huh?” There are four others under her ominous cloud whose wings are being clipped. “Yes, and then they want their mommy who’s at work all day.” She continues avoiding eye contact. “You love your grandma, huh?” The child nods and smiles. Grandma watches, then scowls. “No, she doesn’t. Her brothers don’t either, but that’s OK.”

 I focus again on the one who’s never heard, who’s been silent for too long. 

I see my reflection.

I enter the school and wait for my son’s kindergarten class to be excused. He runs toward me, “Mommy, look what I did today?” He hands me a crayoned picture I can’t wait to hang on fridge. I smile and give him the biggest hug. We spend the afternoon playing games, giggling and eating ice cream.

As sun descends, I swoop up my son and his favorite froggy. I place them gently on our bed. “You can sleep with us tonight.” He grins and shouts ‘Wahoo!’ Bouncing to his feet, he throws arms around mommy’s neck and kisses cheek hard.

We rest on shared pillow as moonlight cascades.

I cherish these moments. Before I know it the sun will rise and he’ll sprout wings leaving mama bird’s nest…

To soar beyond. 

With my unconditional love always within reach.

I pray all children learn to soar, despite life’s bitter pills.

The view is so much better from above.

“No other success in life—not being President, or being wealthy, or going to college, or writing a book, or anything else—comes up to the success of the man or woman who can feel that they have done their duty and that their children and grandchildren rise up and call them blessed.” President Theodore Roosevelt.

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24

“Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:18

“These little ones believe in me. It would be best for the person who causes one of them to lose faith to be drowned in the sea with a large stone hung around his neck.” Matthew 18:6

“Provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Colossians 3:21

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

February 27, 2011

Man of Chains

Filed under: Freedom,Healing — My Heart's Home @ 3:11 am

My son has a book wish list. It comes home in folder orange and backpack blue. I read it. We choose two books out of nine. One of them is “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Curioddities.” Can’t go wrong with Ripley’s freaky fascinating facts. (I’m just as eager to read it as he is!)

Only a few pages in and my jaw drops. It’s a drawing of an Indian holy man called the “man of chains.” When Ripley met him in India in 1924 the chains weighed 670 lbs. and he had worn them for 13 years.

Yes, that’s right folks, 13 years!

Here’s a drawing of the man:

My initial reaction is shock, followed by sadness. Did no one tell him of Christ’s atonement? Did a believer never speak grace into his weary soul? Maybe his stubborn heart was not receptive; his hearing deafened by dumbbells.

Why 670 lbs. and not 671? What was his reasoning?

So many questions…

His visible chains are obvious. But what about those who live amongst us carrying invisible yokes? Yokes of perfectionism? idolatry? Legalism? Not just non-Christians, but Christians, too. Some of us still carry invisible chains from unresolved wounds from childhood, from a spouse who left us for another, from a loved one who abused us. We never shed tears or pour out our hearts to a loving God because we don’t trust His love for us. Instead, we stand silent, proud and stalwart, carrying our burdens ourselves.

I know because I did.

Sisters, we are all broken. But like soil under lacquered nails, we hide it well.

But do we? Our wounds manifest and repeat themselves in destructive ways no matter how many masks we wear trying to pretend otherwise. Maybe we’re workaholics; compulsive eaters; sex addicts; addicted to alcohol or other drugs; shopaholics; or have compulsions to control, please or rescue others. Maybe we can’t control our anger, critical tongue or sense of worthlessness. Maybe we choose the wrong man time and time again. Maybe we escape or numb out watching TV hours on end. Maybe we mistake busyness for godliness. Maybe we avoid being alone and need constant crowds or noise to distract us from His gentle voice whispering “be still”.

We try to self medicate when Jesus is the only true salve for our wounds.

What are your dumbbells?

Do you realize God sees no shame when He looks at you through Jesus’ eyes? He sees you and me whole, perfect and beautiful. His restoring hand wants to help us view ourselves this way, too.

Admitting our brokenness is the first step toward healing. Many of us do anything we can to hide it instead, which leads to compulsive behavior. Or we try to earn our own salvation by good works or intense sacrifice and pain, like wearing 670 lbs. of chains for years on end. But we can’t earn grace no matter how hard we try. It’s a gift we either accept or reject.

If Jesus isn’t everything in our heart, we will try everything to fill that void of emptiness. Beth Moore says in her Bible study Breaking Free: “A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for her.”

Lets rid ourselves of every sin that so easily entangles us. Before we know it links build a chain of bondage that weigh us down like the “man of chains.” Lets shine the light of truth on secrets, sin and denial.

Let’s trade our yoke for His: “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:30. Let the shame of our brokenness lead us to the foot of the cross where no ones brokenness is worse than another. We all are equally marred. Let His shed blood cover each shard. Then let us rise, victorious, leaving every chain and link behind!

Do you trust Jesus can break every chain and foothold in your life? An even better questions is: are you willing to let Him?

Click to hear song:

By Your Side

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

 

“Finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” Psalm 32:5

 

“It is 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




November 19, 2010

Someone Like Me

Filed under: Freedom,Healing — My Heart's Home @ 11:10 pm

If it were up to me, I’d never leave my protective shell. After all, I’ve spent a lifetime building it. One shame-laden, mortar-filled, crimson-stained brick at a time. I’ve grown rather comfortable behind cocooned walls. The outside world can be a scary place for someone like me.

I prefer the dark.

Call me crazy, but lately I’ve been hearing voices. One screams, “You’re not good enough, smart enough, rich enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, Christian enough!” Another shouts, “Will I ever feel whole?” And the last one whispers:

“I want to use you.”

The third voice is the most disturbing. “No thanks. Not interested. Been-there-done-that. Was chewed up like a wad of gum, ’till all the flavor’s spent and I am spit upon the floor.”

That’s how it feels to be used, only it’s a million times worse, and I don’t ever want to feel that way again.

But the voice keeps whispering; I can’t ignore it any longer. It’s relentless. It behooves me to obey or risk winding up in the belly of a whale—a little too dark a cavern, even for someone like me.

So I crack open the shades, my Bible, my journal, my heart and wait for God to speak. But this time He’s no longer whispering. His voice is loud and clear:

“I’m calling you to write; I’m going to use you.”

My heart leaps for joy!

“But it’s not going to be easy.”

And then plummets to the floor.

Nothing in my life ever is.

“In fact, it’s going to be downright painful at times, maybe even get a little messy.”

I know what that means: cue scalpel; I’m going to bleed.

Amazing writer, Ann Voskamp, stated on a recent blog: Words for write in the Anglo-Saxon language originally mean to carve, scratch, cut.

Carve

Scratch

Cut

No matter how you slice it, equals: BLEED

Yep, it’s gonna get messy, alright. Like a sacrificial lamb, messy. Hook up the IV.

“Do we have to go there? Can’t we just skip a few chapters and segue instead to the exciting, joyful and pain-free moments, like when the knight in shining armor arrives and the princess trots off into the sunset and lives happily ever after?”

“I want you to go there.

But I’ve spent my whole life running as fast as I can FROM thereThe Land of the Living Dead. I plead, “Not that road again.” It’s teeming with cobras, scorpions, tarantulas. I’ve been stricken with venom and it stings. My caterpillar heart catapults into cardiac arrest.

Maybe it’s time for open heart surgery.

Maybe it’s time to stop lurking in shadows.

Maybe it’s time to help a girl break free.

Someone like me.

Check out Ann Voskamp’s book: “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are,” by Ann Voskamp

November 9, 2010

Lesson From A Bug House

Filed under: Faith,Freedom — My Heart's Home @ 12:00 am

Acceptance: favorable reception; approval; favor.

It’s that warm fuzzy, toe-tickling goodness that’s comforts more than my camel-colored, sheepskin boots.

That’s exactly how I felt that winter day, not long ago, when I received an email from (in)Courage, stating they wanted me to be a guest writer.  (I emailed a sample of my writing a few weeks prior, all the while praying, hoping and biting my nails since.)

And I wasn’t rejected.

As a writer that’s HUGE, since rejection slips fly faster than a hummingbird on steroids.

Acceptance.

Oh, what succulent nectar.

HERE IT IS: “Lesson From A Bug House”

Who knew a bug would teach me a lesson.

My son, Austin, captured a cool insect recently for his kindergarten bug museum—a wasp! (Well, his brave daddy did.) Secured in its cage with a bit of foliage and a soaked cotton ball, it made itself right at home aside the other creepy crawlies in my son’s class: a praying mantis, a spider, a caterpillar, a cricket. Most of the bugs were ceremoniously freed a few days later, but Austin is terrified his pet might retaliate with a sting, so no pardoning. Two days after arriving home sweet home, that poor wasp’s wings wiggled no more in the confines of its 4″ x 6″ screened Bug House and our cold garage.

A few days later a froglet suffered the same fate. Austin refused to release it. No, mommy didn’t forget to bring it in overnight so it wouldn’t freeze to death. I just figured it would appreciate the fresh air! Whoever’s to blame, we found it motionless on that wet, cold cotton pillow.

Next we caught a centipede in Austin’s tub. (Well, brave daddy did.) Did you know they can live a six-year lifespan? Wow! Unfortunately, destiny wasn’t on its side. Yep, not a single one of those 100 legs was going to tickle the wooden floor of that Bug House again. Mr. (or Ms.) Centipede joined the bug morgue. I must admit, that froglet tugged at my heartstrings a bit, but that centipede didn’t pluck one string.  I hate those buggers! Besides, anything with that many legs has no business trespassing in our home.

Before you wave your PETA finger, can you blame an only child for wanting to keep these critters? Maybe it’s time to buy our son a pet. But given our track record, the salesperson might deem us unfit guardians if we decide to adopt a REAL pet! We can’t even manage to keep a centipede alive for a few days; can you imagine the sorry fate of that dog, cat or guinea pig we bring home? (And just picture us trying to squeeze one of them into that miniscule Bug House. It would be absolute torture.)

After these fiascos you’d think our bug-capturing days were over. Not so fast. How could we let that cute little grasshopper hop along its merry way? This time, however, we refused to let history repeat itself. We made a pact that after we’d examined this bug under the magnifying glass for a day or two, we would set it free. So 24-hours later, despite my son’s protests, I placed the cage on a patch of grass, slid open the trap door and said, “Hop little grasshopper, hop, be FREE!” Then we waited and waited and waited, but it didn’t move. Not one single hop. I beckoned, “Freedom awaits you, it’s just one little hop away!” But that silly grasshopper wouldn’t budge. Austin grew impatient, so he retreated inside to guffaw at SpongeBob cartoons instead. I soon followed.

The next day we gathered again at that grass patch, expecting to find an empty cage. Much to our dismay, the grasshopper was still visible. (But to our relief, its antennae still wiggled.) So I checked the trap door. Still ajar like I left it. “What the heck? Why doesn’t that dumb grasshopper realize freedom is just a hop, skip, jump away. It’s no longer trapped. It’s no longer a prisoner. It’s FREE!”

Another day passes and that foolish grasshopper is still there. With palms flanking hips, I ask myself, “Does it like this cage? Has it grown comfortable? Can’t it smell death in its wake? Maybe it’s blind and can’t see the open door. Or maybe it can’t smell the fresh blades of grass inches away. Perhaps it’s deaf and can’t hear its daddy calling it home.”

ZOOM!

God focuses a magnifying lens on my life and captures a 4″ x 6″ snapshot. I am that blind, anosmic, deaf grasshopper! I’ve been imprisoned—behind walls of self-sufficiency, pride, fear, insecurity, anger, self-righteousness, guilt, shame, unforgiveness—when God’s redemption is just a hop, skip, jump away. Will I stretch my complacent legs and take that leap of faith, once and for all, and trust Him totally, completely, wholly?

The next day the cage is empty. The grasshopper is free.

But am I?

“If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.”
John 8:36


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