Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Working in the Bathroom

Bathroom renovations are not that fun!  It can get REAL MESSY! You have to first make sure you turn off the water sources and then have buckets to catch the dirty water still in the drains before you start undoing all the pipes and faucets. And then you find a tube of toothpaste!

In the book "The Search for Significance" the author Robert McGee talks about how we are like a tube of toothpaste. He says that when you squeeze a tube of toothpaste, you expect toothpaste to come out. And with us, situations in our lives can be the "squeezing" of our tube, and what is in our hearts is what comes out! So if we have believed that we have never been good enough, and we have always strove to work hard and succeed at everything we do just to prove that we ARE good enough, then when someone comes along who questions what we did, it brings out that defense of "so you think I am not good enough?'

I had that toothpaste experience to me this week, and what came out was not good! It definitely wasn't love! No AGAPE living here! But God is using this situations in my life to let me see where He wants to work on me and clean out my drains of the filth and gunk that has built up and clogged them. The false, negative beliefs/lies that I have about myself have to get thrown out and new pluming needs to get put in. I have to confess to God those wrong beliefs I have had and ask His forgiveness and then I have to agree with Him that I AM GOOD ENOUGH!! Why? Because His word says so! He came from Heaven to earth just to die for me and be able to spend eternity with me having a loving relationship with me! That makes me good enough! He says that "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" Phil 4:13. That makes me good enough! So now....practice reacting to this belief! No anger, no hurt, no biting, hitting, kicking, or screaming! (and yes I do all of those..some literal and some figuratively).

Bathroom remodels take a little while...they are never a one day or even a weekend project! So I've got the bucket, and I am turning off the old water source (aka the devil who likes to feed me with all those lies), and I am handing the wrench and sledge hammer over to the master carpenter to get to work! Oh, and don't forget to throw out the old toothpaste tube!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Progressing slowly...but still progressing

Psalm 127:1 ~ Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain

Day 17 of this heart renovation process and here we are! Progress on this project is going slow, but it is still going! Where there should just be some drywall or dare I say stucco due to telling my age, concrete cinder blocks are being found underneath. It seems that in every room, there is a stubborn spot (wonder where I got that, LOL). But I am finding that if I hold on to that spot, lonliness and sadness start to creep in. It's those things that I want to continue to harbor in my heart that keeps God out and away. They may be just memories of people or they may be memories of sin, but either way, God speaks to me and asks me which is more important? I can't have both. It's either Him or it! I choose Him! With Him comes peace. With Him comes joy. With Him comes love, the love I so desperately crave! With Him comes...well, everything! Ephesians 3:20-21a  says "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory.."

 Immeasurably?   Did it really say  immeasurably? Because in a building process, measuring is a pretty big deal! You are suppose to measure twice and cut once! So to not be able to measure what God can do in this renovation of my heart sounds like a pretty big deal! For Him to do more than I can imagine is a HUGE deal!! See I have an imagination like you wouldn't believe! I can sit in a mall or public place for hours and watch people go by and make up the things they may be saying. I can look at their faces and imagine what is going on in their lives. I can make up some stories! I even sit and imagine/daydream what my life may look like in 5 years (especially on days that you have another birthday like I did last Friday, ugh!) And if I imagine the very best instead of the worst case senerio, (which I often do anyway just to make myself supposedly deal with it and accept it, but I really only start another cinder block wall  in order to keep it from hurting so bad if it really does happen. And 99% of the time, it doesn't) then to know that the joy and happiness is so much more than that is incomprehensible but I think I will take some of that!

So here God, sledge hammer away at these secretly constructed walls! Tear down anything that keeps you out and not close to me. I want you to hold me so close to your heart that I can hear your heartbeat, that I can feel your breath breathing on me, that I can smell you. I want to taste the goodness that you have in store for me, even though I can't imagine how good it can be! Hammer away!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Heaven is...

As we go about our day around here, we listen to our local christian radio station. A song played with the words "Jesus your presence is Heaven to me". I sat and thought about that. How many times to we stand in some exotic local, some great vacation destination, some beach or mountain top  and say "This is Heaven!" when we have no clue, no real idea of what Heaven is really like! I mean, really, Paul even said, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard,no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." So how can we ever know until we get there? The truth is that when we stand and look at what He has created, we get a feeling of peace, and absolute amazement and breath taking awe. Shouldn't we / I feel that same feeling when I am in the presence of Jesus? Is that what Heaven really is anyway?  Could it really be that Heaven is the presence of Jesus and that is all that matters. My feeble mind can not conceive it.
 I remember years ago, when my girls were little, their father and I took a trip to the Dominican Republic. Our 5 star hotel room, with it's king size bed, tv and telephone in the bathroom (what else could a girl ask for) and  a view overlooking the ocean to a small island that was the resorts beach was to die for! I will never forget calling home to check on the girls and saying to my dad, "I wonder if God would let me trade in my mansion in heaven for this?"  Boy, oh boy, how sad that thought is now looking back on it. I have been blessed to travel to many beautiful places and live in several nice houses, but right now, living in a very old, single wide trailer in the middle of the sticks (and don't get me wrong, I am loving living out in the sticks!) is better to me than any of it! Why? Because every day I get up and revel in the presence of Jesus! Whether I am at all in tune to it or not, He is still right here, wooing me, calling my name, drawing me in.
 Oh to just to feel this amazing, breath taking peace and awe that I feel when I sit down and shut up and tune in to His presence. I know that here on earth I can never know what heaven is like except for the feeling of being in His presence! I want to have that crazy in love feeling you have when you are newly married and you can't seem to get enough of being with one another. I want to feel like it's ok not to do anything but sit and spend time with Him, but the devil is putting up one huge fight for my time and my energy to spend the time I want to with Him. Raising 2 boys all alone with no break is exhausting, and homeschooling is time consuming, and keeping a house clean with a 2 yr old, no matter how small it is, is a crazy idea. I so want to be patient, and carefree with the "cares of this world". I have struggled for so long with how to incorporate Godly ways into our lives and now that I have had this ah ha moment of "house renovation", I get it. It is still a slower process than I want it to be, but I know that as long as I keep letting Him carry me, He will get me there. My flesh is still so weak, and I am weary, but I would give up everything I have ever counted dear (and feel like I have in recent times) just to get that feeling of His heavenly presence! So in the end, who really cares what heaven looks like, I don't even want to look around because I just want to be laying at His feet, flat on my face, and overwhelmed by Him!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Death Stinks

Death Stinks! I have a dead rodent somewhere in my ventilation system and it stinks! And trying to cover up the smell with air fresheners or odor absorbers isn't working too well! Isn't that how our life is when we are dead in our sin? We stink to God, and no amount of trying to cover up that sin helps or makes it smell any better. In this imperfect world that we have been born into, this world full of sin and hurts, we become burdened down with baggage. That baggage hinders us from being who God wants us to be. And for us who have been raised in the church, it is hard to see that baggage because of our self-righteous and judgmental attitudes. We think that we are not that bad because we may not be drug addicts or alcoholics or some  other name we have labeled others with. The problem is that we are all the same! "ALL HAVE SINNED..." (Roman 3:23). And SIN IS SIN!! Lying is the same to God as defiling your body with drugs or alcohol or sexual sins! It is all the same! God cannot look at ANY sin! And this "Come to Jesus" sermon we all hear and think is not for us but for "those sinners out there", is for us! I needed a come to Jesus meeting! And after many days, weeks, and months of crying out to God about how He want to change me, He finally whispered to me that He wanted me without my baggage. That is the BIG CHANGE He wants to do in my life. And not just change me, but make me a new person. But I do not know who I am without this bag that I carry around. How do I react to others who hurt me? And how do I protect my heart from not getting hurt again? Fear comes and covers me and whispers that I will be so vulnerable if I do not build this wall or use the "tools" in my arsenal of baggage. It whispers you will be alone for the rest of your life! Nobody is ever going to love you because of your past, your present, or want you in your future. That is where another death comes in. Fear has to die! God's word says that perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). God who is perfect love, has to drive out this fear with His presence.Come Father God and FILL me with your presence, your truth and most of all, YOUR LOVE!! And STINKING lies,STINKING sin, STINKING chaos...DIE!!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Death Hurts

This death stuff hurts. It becomes real when it hits so close to home. This past week, a family we once we to church with, lost their daughter. She was 14. And a young man that my girls went to school with lost his life in a tragic car accident. I can not even imagine the pain these families are going through. I pray God with give them the strength and comfort they need for the rest of their lives to handle this and that in His time, God will show them how it can be used for His Glory! That is a hard thing. To see past the present hurt and to look at the potential positive that God has. But if we truly believe in His word, we will rely on Romans 8:28 that says "And we know that in ALL things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." He didn't say SOME things, no, he said ALL things. Death included. The thing about death is that it is not just a physical thing. it also has to be spiritual. By that I mean in our internal, private thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. This renovation thing includes death; death to my wants, my needs, my selfishness, my hurts, my judgmental attitude. If I am to ever truly live, especially live AGAPE, I have to die! And DEATH HURTS!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Old Cliches

"These things take time!" An old cliche that we have all heard, but it is so true!  This emptying thing is not going to happen overnight. It took me 42 years to get these thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and actions down, so getting them out is "going to take time". Proverbs 4:23 says that we should "guard our  hearts for from it everything springs". So when you decide to renovate a house and start to empty it, you need to guard it, lock it up, because especially in older houses, there are valuable things in there. The copper wire, the old tiles, and the cast iron tub are valuable items and if not protected, could be stolen. The devil will do the same thing to your heart. The Bible tells us that he comes to steal kill and destroy. He will steal the valuable truths that you already have in your heart, and along with it leave behind his filth and lies. And if your not careful, that filth can be ground in or boarded up in the rebuilding process and will corrode or begin to mold you from the inside out and the renovation will be in vain. So as I empty this heart and soul of mine and take things out that don't belong and shouldn't be there, I am going to have to stay on my knees and give the keys of my "house" and heart over to God for him to guard and protect the valuable truths that are already there. These are the studs and foundation that He laid many years ago, and are still good. They have just been through a horrible hurricane (and yes, we can call it Sandi). The house needs to be gutted and get the wet, molded dry wall, the damaged wiring, and the heating and cooling system all out and start from the foundation up. He will have to make sure that all the filth is swept out and nothing that will corrode is left behind so that this process is not in vain. He will have to put a hedge of protection around my heart and mind and keep the devil out.

Proverbs 4:23

I have half-way started this process before, and I've noticed that every time I begin to hand the keys over, the minute that my hand begins to rise from my side, that the devil comes running to get in between me and God to keep me from completing the process. He tries to distract me and get my focus off of the task at hand. It has worked before. He knows my weaknesses and my "Achilles heel". But this time, there is a completely different sense of determination, a sense of peace that cannot be destroyed. I know that in my own strength I cannot do it. I cannot resist the distraction. But when I lean on God and His strength, He can resist. He steps in so close that there is no space between us. He holds my chin in His hand, and lifts my face up to meet His eyes and He speaks to me with love and kindness and gentleness that I have never known before. He says I am life and your breath, I am your strength, I am all you need. And in that, I rely. I fall in His arms. He will carry me. He will see this process through. He is my reconstruction site supervisor. So today, I hand him the keys and fall in love with Him a little bit more. Trust and confidence grow deeper, and my eyes are fixed on Him!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Start with emptiness

When you want to redo something old to make it new, you have to empty it out. An old house that is being renovated has to be stripped of the old dry wall, and old wiring, and old pluming in order to put in the new wiring, and new pluming, and new dry wall. The same goes with our heart. If we want God to change us and to make us new, fill us full of His love, then we have to be emptied out of ourselves. I want to start this year from scratch. Begin at the beginning. Erase all my old thoughts, old beliefs, old actions, so that I can have the thoughts that God wants me to have, the beliefs and truths that God wants me to have and the actions that God wants me to have. I want a heart renovation! That is the only way that I am going to be able to truly live AGAPE!  So today, Day 1 of this journey, my prayer  is this:

My Favorite Inspirational Quotes on God