My Heart's Home

August 12, 2011

Tea Party

Filed under: Contentment,Healing,joy,Love,Thankfulness — My Heart's Home @ 9:35 pm

The sprawling 12-foot wooden dining table contains every breakfast delicacy imaginable. Chocolate confections decorated in delicate designs almost too pretty to eat. Thick sliced bacon baked in brown sugar. Egg and ham casserole. Three flavors of homemade bread. Baked and seasoned sliced tomatoes. Fruit galore. Chocolate and vanilla cupcakes ooze colorful flower shaped icing. Sweet tea, non-sweet tea, hot tea, fresh squeezed orange juice, lemon-flavored water, coffee.

Competing for my attention is the gorgeous and expansive Lake Monroe view, which makes my jaw drop even farther.

We sit outside on the second story porch enveloped by Goliath trees, overlooking guesthouses, a gazillion-acres horse ranch, a Koi and lily pond with waterfall cascading. Fresh cut flowers centerpiece the cream table clothed tables adorned with gold-trimmed plates, teacups and saucers.

I feel honored. I feel special. I feel like a queen.

No doubt the dozen of us women feel this way at our hostess’s home. I’m sure that is the intent.

Mission Accomplished.

No one is a stranger. We are all graduates of a 12-week intense course called “Making Peace With Your Past.” Our facilitator is our hostess. We are celebrating our journey toward healing and wholeness from a broken childhood marred by abuse. What a gracious friend she is.

A little taste of heaven.

After taking this class, I can honestly say now:

my past is at peace and I am forever changed.

I see it. Others see it.

I carry a lighter load; I sleep without pills; the monsters in my closet have been banished and my dragon has been slain.

Hovering ghosts no longer haunt, casting their shadows on my heart.

My shackles have been released and I am FREE.

Free to be ME.

The ME God intended Me to be. The me that was squelched as a child. The me that is fun, playful and joyful. The me that has an ‘Otter’ personality I never knew was sequestered.

Our wonderful tea party was the perfect way to end the summer and welcome in a new season…for us all.

If humans can create such a bountiful and delicious display, can you imagine what it will be like seated at God’s banquet table one day? And I wonder what our mansion will look like and the view surrounding us! What love our Heavenly Father is waiting to lavish on His precious children! I can’t wait to find my name card! I hope you will be seated nearby!

Have you ever attended a tea party? Maybe consider hosting one for your friends. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. If it is served with love and from your heart, I guarantee it will be a success. More importantly, you will be a blessing to someone else!

“Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”  Luke 14:15

“Be happy that our names are written in heaven!” Luke 10:20

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2

“And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.” Romans 8:17

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July 19, 2011

1 Corinthians 13

Filed under: Contentment,Healing,Love — My Heart's Home @ 11:40 pm

The happiest day of my life: July 19, 2003

I am learning firsthand what love is.

And what it isn’t.

It’s not someone’s backhand or backhanded compliment. It’s not bruises and welts from a leather belt. It’s not criticism disguised as concern. It’s not dismissing, demeaning, degrading and discounting someone else’s feelings and thoughts. It’s not cowering to someone’s raised hand. It’s not being treated like a need-gratifying object, instead of an autonomous individual deserving of respect. It’s not being a docile doormat or mud rug for other’s to wipe their dirty feet upon. It’s not being a stepping stool others use to feel taller.

Yes, I had to learn this. It was not taught to me.

Love’s roadmap isn’t filled with guilt trips. It’s love offerings have no strings attached. It’s tongue does not shoot poisonous darts. It’s heart is not demanding, deceitful or devious. It’s not self-centered. It’s not easily angered. It’s not conditional. It is freely given, not something to be earned, stolen or bought. It’s not one-sided. It’s being the first to say, ‘I’m sorry, please forgive me.’ It’s not controlling, but self controlled.

It’s someone standing in your corner cheering you on. It’s someone who fills your life with joy, laughter and peace. It’s someone who helps you become the best you you can be and wants nothing but the best for you. It’s someone you can trust to cherish your heart in their hands and not bruise or break it. It’s someone who wipes your tears and doesn’t condemn or chastise you for shedding them. It’s someone who points out your successes, not highlight your frailties, faults and failures. Love is not jealous. Love is not mean-spirited. Love is not unkind. It’s someone who encourages, comforts and creates a soft place to land when life’s storms hit hard. It’s someone who holds your hand and never leaves your side when you need them most. It’s someone who lights your path when darkness envelopes and swallows your heart. It’s someone who honors their marriage covenant. It’s someone who’s faithful in word and deed. It’s someone who describes you using positive words like: ‘beautiful,’ ‘intelligent,’ ‘sweet’ and ‘loving.’ It’s someone who allows you freedom to be yourself, not try to force you to be an appendage.

It’s someone who sees the REAL you.

Love is 1 Corinthians 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Anybody can say ‘I love you,’ but without actions to back it up, their words are empty, shallow and meaningless.

How are you being an example of love to others in your life? Do you show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in your interactions with them?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

My husband is one of the best examples of love I know.

Thank you, Bob, for being an example of TRUE love to me.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, HONEY!

I LOVE YOU…FOREVER!!

July 2, 2011

Empty Jars

Filed under: Encouragement,faithfulness,Love — My Heart's Home @ 12:47 am

Years ago our pastor challenged us to step beyond barbeques, porch swings and curb-hugging hostas and outreach to our neighbors. I, for one, am a curb-hugger. I prefer my comfortable cocoon, so when someone challenges me to spread wings and fly into unknown territory, I’m taken aback. My instinct is to circle wings and cling tighter to four walls.

But I chose to step out in faith and I’ve never looked back. It’s been an adventure. Just yesterday my elderly neighbor confessed she’s drifted from the faith. Through this revelation I was able to sympathize and tell her I’ve been there. Now there’s a Bible on her nightstand.

A bridge replaced a gap between lawns.

It wasn’t my words that made a difference, it was my actions. I took time to get to know her. John Maxwell says, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

I used to take pride in my independence, my self-reliance, and my self-sufficiency. But God has been showing me lately that my I am an Island mentality is nothing less than pride and selfishness. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27

We need each other.

Ever read a story or passage from the Bible you’ve never read or seen before? That’s been happening a lot to me lately and it’s so exciting!

Today I was reading in 2 Kings chapter 4 about a newly widowed woman whose sons were about to become slaves to pay her debtors. In her despair she beseeched the prophet Elisha for help and advice. He inquired about items of worth in her house. She replied, “Your servant has nothing there at all, except a little oil.”

Olive oil was a valuable and necessary commodity in ancient Israel. It had many practical uses, from the holy to the mundane. It was used for various anointings, for medicative purposes, for cooking, and to fuel lamps for light. Notice she says, “Your servant has nothing there at all … except a little oil.” This widow had barely enough oil for herself, how could it be useful? She disparages what little she has, but God has a plan!

Aren’t we like this doubting widow? We question our resources, our talents, and our seemingly unworthy nothingness. We wonder how God can use our sack lunch, our crumbs, to feed thousands of famished strangers (Matthew 14:13-21). Yet He does, miraculously!

Elisha tells the woman to “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” She does as he instructs and jars are filled to the brim with oil. She sells them, pays her debt and lives off the remainder.

Can you imagine yourself in dire financial straits, every Nosey Nelly knowing you’re bankrupt and yet you need to humble yourself and beg door-to-door for spare change? Wouldn’t be easy, would it? Yet that’s how this widow must have felt. She could have chosen to sit behind locked doors with ‘shades’ drawn and wall herself off from her community as she wallowed in grief, but she didn’t. She acted in faith and humbled herself by reaching out. It took humility. It took transparency. It took heartache. In doing so this widow gave others the opportunity to cooperate in God’s work in her life, as well.

Her boldness, humility and faith saved her sons from slavery and herself from destitution.

This story speaks so clearly to me. We aren’t meant to carry our burdens ourselves. We must not build isolating picket fences in our hearts distancing others because our pride won’t admit we need them. If I plaster on Sunday school smiles every time Debbie Downer has Susie Sunshine in a chokehold or just wave passively to passerby from my air-conditioned SUV, I’m not being real and transparent or allowing others to be real and transparent with me. I’m not serving anyone by mask wearing and retreating. I might even hinder and interfere with God’s plan to bless my friends and neighbors by broadcasting His faithfulness through burdens shared and answered prayer.

It takes humble hearts to remove masks and say “I need you.” Maybe in doing so, we can give others permission to remove their masks and say they need us, also. It’s not a sign of weakness, but of strength…HIS strength flowing through our weakness. In turn, we become blessings as God pours out through our emptying.

We are the body of Christ to believers and unbelievers.

In the hustle and bustle of our busy and hectic lives, it’s easy to become self-absorbed, cynical and superficial. Let’s reach beyond manicured lawns and nails and get to know others on a deeper level.

When our neighbor’s lantern’s oil runs low, lets shine our light and become beacons of hope amidst the darkness.

Let’s speak words of encouragement to the weary and heavy laden.

Let’s anticipate our neighbors’ empty jars before they come knocking on our door.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31


June 25, 2011

Choose Virtue Over Vice

Filed under: faithfulness,Grace,Love — My Heart's Home @ 3:25 pm

Life is all about choices. We make a plethora of decisions daily without a second thought. Most are auto-piloted, robotic and routine. We don’t deliberate over the mundane. Most of our decisions are made unbridled, with loose reigns, and without reserve. Sometimes it’s beneficial to ‘be slow to speak’ as the Bible says or we may go about our days with our toxic tongue’s tail wagging behind us.

Or we may be caught with that tail between our legs.

Either way we’re bound to trip.

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19

Ever been around someone who can’t control their tongue or wrath? They spew toxic venom whenever they open their mouth and are quick to raise fists and pummel anyone who stands in their way? A raised hand raised me, so I know how it feels firsthand. I had welts upon my body from the belt they beat against my alabaster skin. One too many times. It was not a pretty picture. I choose to forgive today because I don’t want their bitterness to rub off on me. I don’t want to scar my precious son by carrying around wounds that have never healed. He and my husband deserve all of me, 100 percent, WHOLE and I intend to give it to them.

No matter what the cost.

Several years ago I ordered a free bracelet. It was designed as a tool for people to monitor their success at eradicating complaining from their lives. The goal is to wear the purple band on one wrist and try to go 21 consecutive days complaint-free. If you find yourself griping, you switch wrists and start over. The Founder, Rev. Will Bowen, thought of the bracelet in 2006 to help make the world a better place. His idea exploded and more than 6 million purple Complaint Free bracelets have been sent to people in over 106 countries.

Fast forward five years and I’m still waiting for my free bracelet to arrive.

My question is:

Should I complain? 

I considered it; however, the organization probably doesn’t have a complaint department, so what’s the use.

Instead, I decided to wear my own bracelet, not purple, but 24-karat gold. And for the next 21 days I will refrain from complaining. I will choose virtue over vice. (Please add me to your prayer requests!) Especially on Sunday. Sometimes our sinful nature rears its ugly head when we least expect it…as we’re approaching or circling church parking lots:

‘Why is that person going so S-L-O-W?’

‘Why aren’t they signaling?’

‘Whoa! Did I just run over the pastor?’

I will pray God transforms my heart as he conforms my mind. Every time my brain is tempted to poison my tongue with venom, either about myself or someone else, I will choose to hold that thought captive and replace it with words that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. 

One day this filtering may become second nature and I won’t give complaints and criticisms a second thought.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

I don’t know if I can change the entire world, but at least I will impact my immediate world.

And that’s the best place to start: in my own backyard.

*I wrote this post before attending church Sunday and guess what my pastor challenged the congregation to do? Memorize Phil. 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” 

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“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…” Phil. 2:14-16

A Complaint Free World People complain to everyone except the person who can resolve their issue and then can’t understand why the situation doesn’t improve.

A Complaint Free World Complaining can be thinly disguised bragging. People complain about others to subtly say, “See? I don’t have their character flaws.”
A Complaint Free World When you complain, you take your fears and give them form.

June 19, 2011

Daddy’s #1

Filed under: Faith,Love,Parenting,Thankfulness — My Heart's Home @ 1:51 am

June 19th being Father’s Day, I asked our six-year-old son what he loves most about his Daddy:

#1) He plays with me.

#2) He likes me.

#3) He never hates me.

#4) He’s in my heart.

#5) He’s nice.

#6) He plays games with me.

#7) He gets excited when I win ‘Minute to Win It’ challenges.

#8) He watches my TV shows and relaxes with me.

#9) He kisses and hugs me.

#10) He tells me jokes to make me laugh a lot.

I interpreted his answers to mean Austin feels: ‘Daddy’s my friend; he’s my encourager; he unconditionally loves me; I cherish him; he enjoys my company; he spends time with me; he gives me attention; he’s affectionate; and he’s funny.’

What Bob gives our son cannot be bought or sold in a store.

It’s his heart, which is priceless.

That’s the Number One reason I love Austin’s Daddy.

~ Happy Father’s Day! ~

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“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a Father’s protection.” – Sigmund Freud

“Any man can be a Father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” – Anne Geddes

“Fathers, like mothers, are not born. Men grow into Fathers – and fathering is a very important stage in their development.” – David M. Gottesman

“The greatest thing a Father can do to his children, is to love their mother.” – Anjaneth Garcia Untalen

“It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.”  – Pope John XXIII

“A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.”

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