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 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

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

 

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!!

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 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





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

May 13, 2011

Colour My World

Filed under: Healing,joy,Thankfulness — My Heart's Home @ 2:37 pm

Today’s the anticipated day. It’s taken 21 and the kids in my son’s class are so excited. After folders stack and backpacks hang, the eager beavers make a beeline for the incubator. Thirty-six peeps are piping.

I love Spring—the season of renewal and rebirth. If you live in a four-seasoned state, it’s time to rejuvenate and refresh your spirit from a long, weary winter.  Time to put your best foot forward and show off those French manicured tootsies, twinkling toe rings and flower-frosted flip-flops that’s aw-dun hibernatin’. Spring is in the air! Abysmal grays, browns and whites turn to Technicolor. Pansies, petunias and peonies spring up from soil softened by seasonal showers. Walking my son to school takes twice as long. The crocus, tulips and lilies–all designed to distract–demand my undivided attention. The lilacs catch me off guard. I do an about face and stick my nose where it belongs. Their scent sends my spirit soaring faster than nose-diving spinsters during a bridal bouquet toss.

Soon sunscreen will replace schoolbooks, popsicles replace pencils and happy dances replace homework. My son will beckon my undivided attention like a gardenia-garnished garden. Fortunately, I’m prepared. I’ve stocked up on puzzles, craft supplies and chapter books to entertain when we’re not at the pool, park or panting in the humidity. He’ll also attend summer camp twice a week, so I can catch up on my artwork and writing jobs while he enjoys bus-toting excursions with his peers.

As a list maker and goal setter I’ve also written my summer To-Do’s. However, they aren’t your usual tasks like pull weeds, organize garage or paint deck. Yes, those need to be scratched off. But what tops my summertime list is to add more color to my life:

Plant marigolds, daisies and daffodils.

Paint my toenails key lime.

Poke a pinwheel in my yard.

Buy a sunflower to display in vase.

Pour red hummingbird juice into feeders.

Wear lemon, tangerine and watermelon-toned tank tops.

Make strawberry bread and homemade ice cream.

Blow Crayola colored bubbles with my son.

photo

Create artwork full of vibrant violet, brilliant blue and calming crimson.

I want a rainbow-filled summer this year.

Winter has passed; it’s been gray for far too long.


———————————————————————————–

“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” psalm 126:5-6

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

“The Joy of the Lord is My Strength” – Nehemiah 8:10

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