My Heart's Home

April 29, 2011

Someone’s Bugging Me

Filed under: Easter,Faith,Prayer — My Heart's Home @ 6:21 pm

Call the exterminator.

I believe my home is being bugged.

The pastor shared something personal about me last Sunday. Gasp, it’s true. And I’m peeved. He almost used the exact words I cried to God the day before: ‘How can I learn to trust You, God, when I can’t even see you? It’s hard enough trusting people I CAN see.’ Ahem. Like my pastor who’s spilling the beans.

The more he spoke, the more I squirmed.

I looked around, and lo and behold, everyone was staring at me, including my pastor! The jig is up. I melted under the pew. Then I shook my head, rubbed my eyes and blinked to discover…

no one staring at me. 

Am I paranoid? Psychotic? Losing my marbles? How could he know my business? I would agree if this was a one-time occurrence, but it happens all the time. How does the pastor know what I’m thinking, feeling and going through? Every Sunday. There’s only one logical solution:

My home must be bugged.

As soon as I slid into slippers, I searched every plant, lampshade, nook and cranny in my home. I even lifted my son’s shirt hunting for that wire.

Yes, I’m kidding, but it makes me wonder: How does Pastor Tom know me so well? We’ve never exchanged more than pleasantries. No deep conversations. No tears shed at the altar. No passionate pleas. Ever. How does he know my heart’s cries? It’s perplexing. It’s confusing. It’s got me scratching my head…

searching for a bug!

Ever happen to you? The pastor’s sermon becomes a special meal handpicked off today’s menu, complete with sweet tea and homemade apple pie for dessert?  It’s uncanny. It’s mind-boggling. It’s supernatural.

It’s God.

The One who knows us intimately because He created us. He knit us together in our mother’s womb. He formed us in His image. His eyes search our heart peering into every nook and cranny, every crevice and dark place to heal, transform and renew. Like Paul Mitchell He wants to remove shades of gray, heal our split ends and get to the root of the problem.

He may be invisible, but His love is always tangible.

He uses the hands, tongues and hearts of His earthly servants to remind us we are never alone, beyond reach or without hope.

Now that’s the kind of bugs I want in my home.

“How blessed are those who have never seen me and yet have believed!” John 20:29

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

“And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:15


April 8, 2011

Just Say No

Filed under: Prayer — My Heart's Home @ 7:01 pm

Just Say No DecalEver received a chain letter? I have, several times. I’ve copied them, transferred names, mailed the dishcloth, recipe and whatnot on numerous occasions. Once, something actually came out of all my work. I received a cute dishcloth back. Just one. Not several, which was the whole idea initially. So now I don’t do chain letters anymore. Too much effort for far too little results. I choose to use my time more effectively these days.

But I always let the person who sent me the chain letter know I was opting out.

Usually at the bottom of such letters is a statement like: “if you are unable, unwilling or uninterested in participating in this please let me know, so we can remove your name from the list and the process will not be interrupted. Trust me, my feelings will not be hurt.” I recall including this statement in a chain letter I sent several years ago to at least six friends. Only one of them ended up participating and replying. It made me curious: why did the others not reply? Did they feel they’d hurt my feelings in the long run? I don’t understand sometimes why friends are hesitant to be open about their feelings with one another.

A chain letter may be a trivial thing, but it made me wonder if we are not comfortable in being forthright with one another in the little, seemingly insignificant things like a chain letter, what about the larger, more important issues in life? Will we be timid there also? Like speaking up against a brutalizing bully? Like sharing our view on celibacy amidst our non-Christian single peers? Like taking a firm stand against social issues that God in His Word clearly opposes?  JUST SAY NO!!!

We can’t sit silent, passive and afraid to offend if we want to be effective in God’s kingdom.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”  Psalm 56: 3-4

So many churches nowadays water down the gospel and avoid controversial subjects because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, possibly face empty pews or fewer checks in the offering plate. Hogwash! If that’s the case, that’s not the kind of church I would want to be a member of! Did Jesus avoid stirring waters? Did He not make people question things? Did He shy away from the Pharisees, kings, rulers of His day? No, Jesus was definitely not a passivist!

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3

Too many times we don’t let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ or our ‘no’ be ‘no’ and we end up in avoidance traps by our tip toeing, tap dancing and hemming and hawing our way around things. That’s how Christians become wishy-washy compromisers and nobody has a clue where we stand, including ourselves.

Ever heard the saying: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” I believe it.

We need to know what we believe and have the courage and confidence to live it out. Maybe women are fearful of being bold because they confuse it with being aggressive. I grew up being very passive, so I know how hard it can be to speak up and voice an opinion, but I was a child then. Now I am an adult woman who belongs to Christ, so it’s time to be bold and courageous about my faith and convictions.

“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 childish ways behind me.” 1 Cor. 13:11

Let us boldly speak truth in love, just as we want truth spoken to us.

“Devote yourselves to prayer…praying…that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of  Christ…making the most of the opportunity.  Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned , as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.” Colossians 4:2-6

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14

March 13, 2011

Doggone It

Filed under: Prayer — My Heart's Home @ 3:24 pm

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23.

So thankful His mercies are new every morning because yesterday desperately needs a ‘do over.’

I was not a happy camper.

I am dog-sitting for 10 days. It was my first day with Bryce and I’m his favorite. He follows me everywhere. Mind you, I am not a dog person. (I’m only returning a favor for a friend who recently watched our guinea pigs while we were on vacation.) I grew up with cats. Gentle, purring, low-maintenance felines. This Lhasa Apso kept me up all night with his growling and barking.

If I cleared my throat, it barked.

If the refrigerator rumbled, Bryce did too.

If the guinea pigs rattled their cage, he’d rattle my nerves.

I realize he’s just adjusting to unfamiliar sounds, but come on. I need my rest. Even more so since I’m still recovering from Strep Throat and Scarlet Fever. The last thing I need is a two-foot fur ball lying on me all night, barking and growling at the slightest breeze and interrupting my zzzz’s.

With only four hours sleep, I barked and growled non-stop yesterday. I’m thankful I have a forgiving husband and son.

No doubt I deserved the doggone dog house.

But today I can start anew. So can Bryce. After all, he slept well last night. So did I; I was in another room. He’s barking less; so am I. His appetite is back and he’s chasing his ball.

Some things are a constant: I’m still his favorite and he’s mostly underfoot.

Except now. He’s scratching the front door. My clue to walk him. Time to spray the neighborhood with his territorial scent.

Dogs sure are peculiar pets.

February 12, 2011

Let Freedom Ring

Filed under: Prayer — My Heart's Home @ 8:40 am

Craving a large glazed donut, a bottle of soda or spearmint gum? No problem, right? Just a quick drive to the nearest grocery store and satisfy that urge. But what if someone steals your car keys? What if your wallet is fleeced? What if the nearest store is 100 miles away?

What if your freedom is confined to a 6′ x 8′ prison cell? Minutes, days, months and years pass.

35 years total.

Wouldn’t these treats taste pretty sweet after all that time? Bet freedom would taste even sweeter.

Just ask James Bain who was freed in 2009 after being falsely imprisoned for 35 years for a rape he didn’t commit. When asked if he was angry, he said he wasn’t “because I got God in my hands.”

Wow. Not sure that would have been my first response.

His initial requests are so simple: a large glazed donut, a bottle of Mellow Yello and some spearmint gum. Every day items I take for granted. I began to wonder what else I take for granted not being a prisoner: owning sharp objects like my letter opener, scissors and knitting needles; my comfortable King-size bed; my own bar  of soap; my own shower; privacy when I shower; a walk-in closet containing a full wardrobe in an assortment of colors and designs—not just orange or striped; my toilet not adjacent to my pillow; a jar brimming with Double Bubbles; Starbucks coffee I grind myself every morning; wearing makeup; a fully stocked pantry at my fingertips; visitation rights every day with my husband and son; making vacation plans; taking a vacation; gazing at clouds, rainbows, butterflies; inhaling fresh air…

Freedom.

Cornelius Dupree was freed last month after serving 30 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Bet freedom tastes pretty sweet to him, too. “I feel that words won’t make up for what I lost,” Dupree said. Even so, “It’s a joy to be free again.”

Jouanna Thiec was imprisoned at 16 in 1685 for being a Calvinist in France after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes. She was imprisoned 73 years and released at age 89! Even if she had to be wheeled out in what was called an invalids chair back then, I bet that didn’t slow down her enthusiasm! I’m sure freedom tasted succulent to her, as well.

Can you imagine spending the majority of your life in prison? I can’t imagine 30 years, let alone a lifetime behind bars. What if prison bars are all you’ve known and freedom is a stranger? Would we miss freedom if we’ve never tasted it? How many of us have spent our lives living behind invisible prison walls? What if we’ve never truly trusted all God’s promises? What if we’ve never formed a close relationship with Him because our heart has been scarred too many times? What if we’ve never allowed Him to heal those wounds? What if we are viewing Him through a tainted lens that needs cleansing before vision is restored? What if we’ve been walking silently beside Him all along, but have never reached out to hold His hand or strike up a deep conversation with Him?

What if?

I know I have. Even though I’ve been a Christian for decades, my palms preferred coat pockets and my tongue remained tied.

That’s how I used to act as a child when my own biological father came to visit about once a year after the divorce. When I was around 11 he dropped out of my life for 20 years.

My view of God was tainted because I was abandoned by my own Father. Thus, I viewed God as a distant, uninvolved, larger-than-life character. I felt shy and inhibited when I felt Him near and alone, forgotten, unwanted when I didn’t.  I was a prisoner to Satan’s lies for God’s truth says:

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5

We tend to view God based on our relationship with our earthy Fathers, so my vision of my Heavenly Father was skewed. To think I didn’t need healing in this area before I could have an accurate view of Him, would be ludicrous. Yet I didn’t know I needed healing until God showed me.

I’m studying Beth Moore’s “Breaking Free” Bible study and this week we’re learning about “The Obstacle of Pride.”

What if our own prideful walls keep us imprisoned from all the sweetness God has to offer?

In the book it says, God wants to:

  • get to our hearts. Pride covers the heart.
  • free us from hindrances in our past. Pride refuses to look back.
  • treat us with His Word. Pride doesn’t like to be told what to do.
  • set us completely free. Pride thinks he’s free enough.
  • bring us out of dark closets. Pride says secrets are nobody’s business.
  • help us with constraining problems. Pride denies there is a problem.
  • make us strong in Him. Pride won’t admit to weakness.

“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.”

I was, and am, a Christian still living in captivity. I’m sure there are many more out there just like myself. Christ came to set the captive free through truth. Satan wants to hold the free captive through lies. I’m on a Spiritual journey now toward living a life of true freedom, of pardoning, of grace. As a sinner I was given the death sentence, but Christ took my place and broke the chains of condemnation, guilt and shame FOREVER. Becoming saved isn’t about asking Jesus into our hearts, then thanking Him for salvation and walking away. It’s about following Him wherever He leads. We’ve got work to do! It’s just the beginning of our Spiritual walk toward freedom. Beth Moore says: “Christians can be miserably dissatisfied if they accept Christ’s salvation, yet reject the fullness of daily relationship that satisfies.” As a follower of Jesus Christ, I want every chain, foothold and prison bar removed from my heart and mind, because I’ve been weighed down far too long. I want to walk daily with my Lord and not let any boulders hinder my path. I don’t want foolish stones of Disbelief, Legalism, Idolatry, Prayerlessness or Pride to weigh me down or keep freedom’s bells from ringing.

I want them to ring out so loud that even the deaf can hear!

James Bain may not be angry after being imprisoned 35 years because He’s got God in his hands.

But an even freer place to be is in God’s hands.

Lord, remove barbed wires around my heart.

Lord, help me face and deal with wounds from my past and any hindrances and give me courage to look back to discover them.

Lord, treat me with Your Word for I am willing to hear and obey.

Lord, loose all shackles for I refuse to be in bondage to anything or anyone.

Lord, bring me out of dark closets and help me live in Your light, fully exposed, where healing begins.

Lord, help me with constraining problems and keep me on my knees, humble.

Lord, make me strong in You and not be afraid to admit my weakness and shortcomings.

Don’t let me waste another day locked up behind invisible prison walls.

Set me completely free!


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

Click below to hear a beautiful song about letting your prison walls down:

This Is Where The Healing Begins


January 30, 2011

Thank God for Twigs

Filed under: Prayer — My Heart's Home @ 9:55 pm

Sitting in the pew I feel uncomfortable. My heart, not my tush. It’s the lukewarm sermon. I hate the lukewarm sermon. Why? Because I always feel lukewarm when I hear it. I know it’s time to turn the heat up a notch or two and I’m resistant.

“So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Rev. 3:16.

My heart cries, “Lord, please don’t count me among those spewed!”

This was me a few years ago.

Ever sink into a tepid bath? Doesn’t soothe aching muscles. Ever gulp a fountain’s warmth? Doesn’t quench a  parched tongue.

I know what lukewarm is when I don’t want it to be and it’s not soothing. Not quenching. Not satisfying.

It’s like trying to squeeze into my size 6 Calvin Kleins :

un-com-for-table!

A few glances around my home and you’ll realize I’m all about comfort. My chairs, my bed, my clothes, my shoes all scream comfort. Even my freezer is stocked with a myriad of boldly-colored ice cream treats in various shapes and sizes, all there to bring me comfort no matter what the season, hot or cold.

Ice cream comfort.

I scream comfort.

However, too much comfort breeds complacency. Maybe that’s why mama bird fills her nest with twigs, to encourage her young to scorn the nest, spread wings and soar.

Somehow, this chick’s wings became clipped. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years and my Bible remained closed.

~ Gasp ~

My token prayers—mostly before meals—became fewer, infrequent, non-existent. I started to become irritable, inpatient, intolerant with absolute strangers and those I absolutely loved.  My daily actions became like coffee beans—daily grind—guided not by the Holy Spirit, but by my feelings, emotions, moods. Not good.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23.

I was fruitless. Not entirely, but mostly. Mary Janes grew heels climbing Sunday School steps, yet somewhere a little girl got lost along the way. Maybe too much catechism? Too much coddling? Too much comfort?

Ugh. Lukewarm.

I don’t want to “do” church, “do” Christian, “do” lukewarm. I want to “be” church, “be” Christian, “be” on fire. Not just Sunday, but 24/7.

Time to turn the dial, blow those embers, fan those flames.

Time for heels to start kicking and wings to soar.

Time to bear some: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Time to thank God for twigs.

Click to hear Keith Green’s song: “Make My Life A Prayer to You.”

John 14:16-17: “And I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”

The word “comforter” means “one to run to our side and pick us up.”

Lord, hold me so close that I never stop hearing your heartbeat.

 


December 10, 2010

Daunting December Doldrums

Filed under: Christmas,Prayer — My Heart's Home @ 10:19 pm

It’s December and I feel as empty as a needle-less pine tree. Impending responsibilities weigh on my heart like a sleigh overloaded, stripping me of all joy, peace and goodwill. My snowbird wings are clipped. Visions of sugarplums dancing in my head are blurred by my looming ‘To-Do’ list, which rivals ol’ Kris Kringle’s. My eyes cross and fold like pretzeled arms. ‘I’m not ready for Christmas!’

My brow furrows.

My strength is already sapped, tapped and overdrafted like a shopaholic’s Black Friday credit card.

My shoulders hunch.

Expectations hang overhead like a mistletoed noose ready to choke all the fa-la-la out of my holly-less halls. Jack Frost’s not only nipping at my nose, but he’s kicking my backside with his busy-bodied snowboot. He’s barking at me to drag my procrastinating, pitiful, prostrate behind out of bed. He taps his watch, reminding me it’s time to join the hustling and bustling crowd and get a move on. Bah-hum-bug!

My eyelids droop.

Worry, angst and stress cram-pack every nook and cranny of my heart and mind like an overstuffed turkey. I pull covers tight.

My lungs exhale.

My get-up-and-go? Gone. Despite my best aim, I know I’ll never hit that elusive Currier and Ives bullseye, so I wave the white flag. I emotionally spiral like draining bath water. Defeat darkens, drowns and deafens doorstep carolers singing joy to my world. It’s a silent night and I’m:

a clangless bell.

an unlit candle.

a burnt out yule log.

Boxing gloves are removed before one foot in the ring. I’m already kayoed.

What’s a girl to do?

My knees buckle.

My forehead bows.

My arms unbrace.

I PRAY

….that I’ll allow my heart’s lens to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and let the wind blow all that hustle and bustle wayside, like:

unnoticed snowflakes…

uneaten fruitcake…

unearthed pine needles.



November 18, 2010

No Nunsense Pantyhose For Me! (teaser)

Filed under: Prayer — My Heart's Home @ 11:40 pm

I move out at 19. I can’t wait to be on my own, do whatever I want, be the captain of my ship.

God has other plans.

In my upstairs room, I unpack my suitcase in a duplex I share with eight Christian strangers. It’s called The Lighthouse.

Living only a few miles from my parents’ home in Kaanapali, Maui, the apron strings aren’t totally severed. I’m confident my mom will kill that fatted calf if my ribs start to poke and the glowing vacancy sign won’t dim if my Pizza Hut waitressing tips don’t cut it. But, technically, I’m on my own. (I have the broken piggy banks to prove it.)

One by one I meet my roommates from all walks of life: a woman who boarded a stranger’s sailboat, once upon a time, and was kidnapped; a middle-aged divorcee with tattoo-lined arms that once held needle tracks; a one-eyed, ex-prostitute. (“I’m sorry, what’s this place called again? The Halfway House?”) These strangers are STRANGErs indeed. Interesting folks, to say the least. Then there are a few boring ones. Like me. Who don’t have any eye-popping life stories to tell.

Not yet.

(Wanna read more? Stay tuned for my book…)

November 10, 2010

New Guinea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contentment.

The next day the pattern repeats:

I reach, she darts.

She darts, I reach.

I win.

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

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

(Any human would envy such pampering!)

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

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

We both purr.

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

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

Friends who are generous, gracious and good to me.

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

A neighbor who brings me newspapers, peaches and presents.

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

Oh, what a pathetic little creature I become.

While somewhere in the world:

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

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

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

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

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

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Phil. 4:11-12

Blog at WordPress.com.