An Open House and an Open Heart

As I prepare for my journey to “next”, a friend and I staged my beautiful little home for an open house. As we did, I was reminded that I’ve always strived toward an “open house”; a house ready for guests, for weary travelers and for hungry souls and tummies. I have opened my home to be the place where my kids’ friends hang out, my neighbors are proud to live next to and extra food in the freezer awaits impromptu meals with friends. Because no matter what your circumstance, you can be hospitable. You can freeze your leftover chili for an unexpected guest. You can make the most of whatever space God has granted to you for this moment in time.

I’m reminded of an old Keith Green song that states, “I don’t want your money, I want your life,” (which includes your money, by the way.) My proof of surrender doesn’t end after the offering plate goes by. It includes my property, my vehicle, and maybe most importantly, my time.

I come from parents who led an almost monastic life. And truth be told, I can lean toward hermit living from time to time. However, I must say that the greatest joy I’ve experienced is when I’ve shared all that I have. Open hands. Open house. Open heart.

Part of staging a home, requires encouraging the prospective buyer to imagine themselves in your home. As my friend and I told stories with furnishings, it was easy to remember precious moments in each cozy corner. It was also painfully easy to see how I could have done more and been more accommodating. I could have used the space I had for His glory in a greater way. But then I’m reminded that we go from glory to glory and faith to faith. I am growing in His likeness. His mercies are new every morning, so that I can share better and more in my “next”. I can’t wait to open the door to my house and my heart to all that awaits.

A Walk of Trust: Waiting For Your Children To Own Their Faith

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As a mother, it has been my biggest concern. How do I ensure that my children have made the Christian faith their own? How can I encourage them to claim Christ as their personal savior rather than as a impersonal family tradition? Have I prayed enough? Instructed enough? Been a good enough example? Dear friends, I am over at Family Fire today, will you join me? Read the rest here

The Answer My Friend, Is Blowin’ In the Wind

In the distance, the hill glows gold with tiny sunbursts. I smile big, quite sure that the happy face was inspired by the dandelion…not Forest Gump. And yet, this felicitous flower brings great unhappiness to most people. My neighbors are constantly at war with them. They spray, dig and curse them. They give me the evil eye for not paying a man to spray toxic chemicals to choke out their existence altogether.

It’s true; they are far less attractive in the seed stage, the stem limp and gray-green with white wispy feathers waiting to waft on the wind. In it’s most empty moment, when all that is left is a translucent stem, a seed is sent on an errand. It may be transported in the calm of a warm summer breeze, or it may have been reluctantly flung from the grasp of its pin cushion in a violent storm, but the seed leaves it’s comfort zone nonetheless.

I’ve experienced times when I have felt limp and gray-green, useless to anyone. I’ve felt unwanted and empty, as though I’m losing more of myself with every core shaking wind of change. But then comes His breath on a breeze…and it picks up the remnant of me like a dandelion clock, ready to make a colorless fluff into a plush splash of light, a replica of the Son, thorns and all. And I see that all along…the answer was blowin’ in the wind. Even though I feel worn out, and frail; used up and dead; He can still take a tiny part of me, carrying it on a whisper, and plant it, spreading splashes of sunshine. Not everyone will enjoy the spillover. They might try to dig it up, because it is different. But there are those, who will enjoy it for what it is…and smile.

I Corinthians 15:36 – What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first.

Sharing with goosebumps with Jen:

And dear Emily:

and darling Ann:

A Mother’s Letter To A Prodigal Son

 

Writing a letter by Lior Filshteiner (LiorFil) on 500px.com
Writing a letter by Lior Filshteiner

My Dear Prodigal,

I remember a boy who was so eager to call me Mama, and who gave spontaneous hugs and kisses.  You loved to eat any and all of my food, and made me feel like the best cook in the world.  I remember your stubbornness, and hoped you would use it to change your world…but instead you’ve used it to change mine and so many others who love you.  And our hearts ache because we miss you.  The real you.  The one who is strong for the weak and makes everyone feel safe.

I can’t help but wonder if I am somehow to blame for the change of direction you have made as of late.  Was I too strict?  Was I not strict enough?  Did I show you the love and grace that is Jesus?  Or was I a hypocrite?

The questions that plague my mind torment, and then I know that I am not abiding in love.  Because there is no fear in love.

Then I start to figure out what I would do differently, if I had the chance.  Would I affirm you more and correct you less?  Would I discipline and guide you more gently?

I realize I am trying to rewrite the past, something that can never be done, no matter how hard I try.  And I remember that I am to forget those things which are behind…

Next, I start to worry about the now and where you are and what you are doing.  I stare at the glow of the digital alarm clock in my room and wonder who you are with at 1:30 a.m. and why you aren’t answering your phone or texts. But here the Comforter draws near and whispers that I am to be anxious for nothing.

You see, dear heart, you don’t belong to me, and you never have.  Your Mama and Father gave you back to God.  He has a plan for your future and He finishes what He has started.

And so, with this letter that I write to you that you may never see, I pray that you know one very important thing. I pray that you know that my arms are wide open and ready for your return…anytime you are ready…no matter what you’ve done.  We’ll face it together.

Because His arms are ready too, you know.  He awaits your return.  He will be dancing and spinning and celebrating with the best of them.  He misses you even more than I do.  He paid a great price to know you and every day that you’re away seems like an eternity.  So, make haste, my son.  We’re waiting, Daddy, Jesus and I.  We are fattening the calf and preparing the party.  We are standing in the yard, shielding eyes from the sun, hoping to catch a glimpse of you coming over the horizon. The day can not come soon enough.

Arms always open,

Mama

This post was inspired by readers who suggested that I step into the empty nest by writing each of my children a letter. Seeing that this letter is to my wayward son, I was also inspired by Ann’s wonderful post on the Prodigal Parent.
 

Do you have a Prodigal in your family? Let’s pray together…

Joining Laura at the new Faith Filled Friday community…

Beholding Glory

The Sabbath – A Holy Expectation – Expect! and Epiphany Quest

I have been feeling a little spread thin lately, kind of like when Billboy Baggypants from Lord of the Beans says, “I’m feeling stretched like chocolate pudding spread across too much ham.” I’ve been longing for lazy days at the beach or anywhere for that matter,  exhausted from the see-saw of being desperately needed one minute, “Mom the FASFA deadline is like today!” and stubbornly rejected the next, “I don’t need or want your help with this!” It’s a whirlwind that quite frankly reminds me of the terrible twos.

A few of my blogging buddies have mentioned a change of attitude about the Sabbath as of late…and it’s gotten me thinking. I admit that in my ministry-minded family, Sundays are far from a day of rest. My son works full time on staff at the church, my daughter is on the worship team, my husband serves with the children and I help count the offerings. We have to leave by 7:45 on Sunday mornings. Church starts at 9:30, we all scramble to our service stations.  After the morning service, my daughter practices with one of her worship teams, so she stays at church all afternoon, while my husband and I go home for a few hours before the whole cycle begins again for evening service.

And I wouldn’t change a thing. We have been a part of our church family for over twenty years, and it is our pleasure to serve God’s people. However, as you see, rest is hard to come by on the Sabbath.

But…there are things I can control. I could begin by not doing laundry or excessive amounts of cooking on Sundays. I could refrain from cleaning and vacuuming.

Because the stirring in me about the Sabbath isn’t about a commandment, but a commitment.

Our family is committed to give a tithe, or a tenth of our income. But how much more precious is time than money? And I never want to be Martha, who is so busy serving Jesus that I never sit at His feet.

The stirring in me about the Sabbath isn’t about law, but about trust.

In a world that has a five day and sometimes even a four day work week, I’m not sure we understand what a exercise in trust that  for the Isrealites that the Sabbath was.  They had to trust Him that they could prosper in a world that was working seven days a week. God was commanding them to sit still for one day, to sit still and remember Him.

And I must sit still and remember.

The celebration of Sabbath is really all about remembering and expectation.  The Jewish people remember what God has done for their people and they look forward to the coming of the Messiah, some even prepare a place at the table for Him!

Have I prepared a place at my table for Him?

The table of life represents preparation, and time set apart to be nourished.  Have I prepared?  Do I set apart a time for me to be nourished in every way?

Then a friend, wrote a post about Saturday being Preparation Day.

I chew.

I ponder.

Epiphany!

What if Saturday is my preparation day? What if I prepare all of my food ahead of time? Clean the house? Lay out my clothes? What if, and here’s the big one, what if I prepare my heart?

Once a year our church has a major conference that people come from all over the world to attend. Our family has always looked forward to this week of services. Do you know why? We prepare for it. In a flurry of excitement, I cook for a week beforehand so that we would have delicious meals ready for us when we come home. The children look over my shoulder at the tasty things I’m making, and their mouth waters for the future.  We plan what we’ll wear so that everything is dry cleaned, laundered and/or ironed. I clean the house spotless so that very little housework is necessary, and the family looks forward to a week with minimal chores.  It is like a vacation at home! I also purchase a fresh notebook so that I can write down what I hear from God through the speakers for the week.  One year, we even anticipated a missions offering and had a garage sale so that we could sow a special seed.

But do you know what the most amazing thing is about all of this preparation? We become EXPECTant! The more we prepare, the more we EXPECT. What if I did that in a small way each week? What if I prepared for the Sabbath, to rest in Him, both corporately with my church family and intimately?  What if I allow my preparations to cause a holy EXPECTation?

Mark 1:3 states, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!‘”

…and a voice has shouted into my wilderness, a wilderness of pouring out to my world without rest. And the voice has instructed me to prepare myself for the King each week, to clear the road for Him, expecting to meet with Him, not just on Sundays, but everyday. Sundays are just practice. A voice has cried out telling me to allow Him to pour Himself into me.

one. day. a. week.

This Sunday when I come home for the precious few hours between services, I will be eating food that I’ve already prepared on a paper plate. I will be taking a bath or a walk or whatever sounds the most rejuvenating. I will meditate on what He has said to me throughout the week. I will rest in His arms, because with Preparation comes Expectation.

What ways can you prepare so that your expectation is heightened?

182. Clear beautiful water.

183. Living through the wine press.

184. Robins flitting and fluttering on my deck railing.

185. The neighbor’s wind chimes clanging in March wind.

186. Unprojected sunshine.

187. The spring call of a cardinal.

188. My snoring dog.

189.  Bird song waking me.

190.  Getting the kid’s FASFA’s done!!! 🙂

191.  Trusting God to provide for their college education.

192.  Epiphany! about Sabbath and Expectation.

193.  Only a few weeks until I am done with school…forever.

194.  The privilege of getting to encourage and mentor young mothers today.

195.  A day just to catch up.

196.  A dog who wants to be close to me.

197.  A pink frosted morning.

198.  A good book.

199.  A night with no tv.

200.  That I’m finished reading the Odyssey!  Yay!

201.  That I’m almost finished teaching the Odyssey.

….finding heaven with Jen:

…sharing with Shandra:

(En) Couraged By Love

Love isn’t a feeling.

If it was it could never endure.

Because what feeling lasts forever?

But love can last forever.

Love isn’t word-deep.

It requires more than words.

It requires action.

Yet love isn’t actions alone.

“If  I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or [c] in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me),
I. gain. nothing.”

Love isn’t a touch.

Or else every sexual encounter would be love.

So. what. is. love?

Love is a discipline.

and to become disciplined, we must train,

and follow our Trainer.

Become a Follower of Love.

Who is leading in our follow-the-leader game of love?

God is love.

and Perfect love casts out all fear.

His love is perfect,

When I choose to be discipled by it I am (en)couraged.

Nothing can separate me from the love of God.

Even. me.

Counting his manifestations of love to me with my dear Ann: Counting the provisions of the Lord with Ann:

148. Spring springing.

149. A robin sighting.

150. Good finds in a library.

151. Real Mexican dining just a walk away.

152. A beautiful new company car for my husband!!!!

153. New mercies.

154. New opportunities.

155. Mama’s arms around my neck.

156. Relief after a 5 hour bus ride…

157. An understanding husband.

158. A son whose idea of an ideal Friday night is to watch Judah Smith preach at Church On The Move.

159. Everyday treasures discovered by little hands.

160. Little girl “mustaches”.

161. A much anticipated walk to the park.

162. An aunt not seen for 10 years.

163. A son who calls to make a lunch appointment.

164. Bagel chips.

165. Italian ice.

166. Revelations from “The Voice”…God is not waiting for me to impress Him before He commits to helping me succeed!

167. A plaque honoring godly pioneers.

168. A widow’s mite idea for a family wedding shower.

169. Exciting possibilities.

170. a hope and a future.

171. Young men who dream dreams.

172. Toddlers to give presents to.

173. My husband’s snoring.

174. Almost summer-like days.

175. Human frailties that insist upon grace.

176. Sabbath rest in the midst of chaos.

177. A gift of The Hunger Games

178. Direction for lent (finally!)

179. Learning about preparation in all things.

180. Aha! moments at church.

181. Answered prayer and more answered prayer.

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

….finding heaven with Jen:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

…sharing with Shandra:

 

Dissatisfied With Heaven’s Bread

Aspire | The Wave by Brandon Ku (bkuPhotography) on 500px.com
Aspire | The Wave by Brandon Ku

Sometimes we despise God’s provision.
“There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!” (Numbers 22 NLT)
Isn’t manna something to eat?
How we exaggerate when we are determined to be dissatisfied.

Our flesh cries out, “I’m tired of this food! It’s the same every day!
God your provision just. isn’t. good. enough.
If you loved me, you’d provide a seven course meal, with plenty of variety.
This bread from Heaven isn’t measuring up.”

and we say, “I’m not satisfied any more.
Couldn’t you send me a sign?
A miracle? You expect me to chew on the same crust of bread over and over?
…and like it?”

We are like
children looking in full pantry and fridge
proclaiming, “There’s nothing to eat!”

Sometimes we grow impatient with the length and difficulty of the journey
and we speak out against God, and His man.
We complain about the package deliverance comes in.
“I didn’t expect this!” we rethink the path we’ve chosen.

and the serpent of bitterness
brazenly bites leaving behind his mark on our skin and his poison in our blood,
and we question His very name Jireh, Provider.

But He is Provider, and “God is always good, and I am always loved.”
There is goodness in the manna – the “what is it?” bread of Heaven.
There is love on the journey – water from rocks and brass serpents for healing
despite our complaints.

Counting the provisions of the Lord with Ann:

139. A reminder in an art gallery.

140. His Word a lamp unto my feet.

141. A shopping kitty.

142. A day with Mama.

143. Encouragement to be a finisher.

144. A metropolitan afternoon

145. Tiffany windows raining glory on my hair…

146. simplicity

147. The journey of an altar.

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

….finding heaven with Jen:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

…sharing with Shandra:

The Gate Called Beautiful

You, my dearest, are hurting, pained and unwhole.

You need healing.

And though He said I can lay hands on the sick,

I haven’t often seen success.

I’m only being honest.

But your suffering…your scars…

It’s too much to bystand –

Too much to spectate

without participation.

What can I do?

I don’t have silver or gold to pay for expensive treatment.

I don’t have a faith healer’s faith.

Not. Yet.

But can I bring you to the Gate called Beautiful?

Because I’ve found that

darkness may be crowding out light

and death may be pushing my hopes under

for the

third time.

But

when I am brought to the Gate called Beautiful

I am soul healed.

For in examining His beauty

I am discovering His goodness.

And when His goodness is revealed

anything, anything might happen.

Will you come?

Counting from the Gate called Beautiful with Ann:

131. Unexpected Valentine from the little girl next door.

132. My Bible Study girls and I getting “tatt-ed” together!

133. A box in the mail!!

134. A gift from Sarah Mae and DaySpring!

135. Daughter’s debut as a paid singer!

136. Happy Statue of Liberty guy. (You can’t tell, but his smile is radiant!)

137. The privilege of making 500 truffles…

138. Coming through to the other side of the flu.

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

….finding heaven with Jen:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

…sharing with Shandra:

Making Pillars: Testifying to God’s Goodness

Jacob was not a nice person. Taking advantage of his brother’s hunger, he tricked his brother out of his birthright. He was a deceiver. That is what his name means. He willingly fulfilled his mother’s instructions to deceive his father so that he received the blessing that was rightfully Esau’s. Jacob was a swindler. He made deals with Laban, and then tried to influence nature against Laban, for his own prosperity. The only thing really endearing about the youth of this biblical character is his love for Rachel. Continue reading