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.

Jesus Came To My Door


It was the day before I left for the 4 day, 5 night Write To Publish writer’s conference. I hadn’t finished my fiction manuscript, and I wondered if by some miracle I could swing it. I wanted more than anything to become an influential voice for Christ through my writing. Experience had told me that my manuscript must be finished for a publisher to consider it. But, there was laundry to be done. The house needed attention…and I wanted to walk the dog because I knew that the kids would just let him out back while I was gone.

I completed the twenty minute chore of watering the plants, hoping beyond all reason that someone would remember to do that in my absence. Finally, I snapped the leash on the dog. He waddled down the street happy someone was paying attention to him. The neighbor boy who had been placed with foster parents and was only here on a visit stopped me. Oh, dear, I really don’t have time, I thought. I gave him a quick hug. “Hello Xandan!” I said, “It’s so good to see you! But I’m really in a hurry, can you come by another time?”

“I hope so,” he hesitated, then waved.

I hurried on. The mentally challenged woman ran up to me all child-like and said, “Can I pet your dog?”

“O, Ethyl, I really don’t have time today, I’m sorry.” The dog and I rushed on.

I wonder why it seems like everybody and everything wants my attention today, I wondered.

I continued down the block when Gina, the depressed alcoholic stopped me, “What are you doing for the weekend?” she asked, sober for a change.

“Oh, actually I have a really busy weekend, in fact, I really need to run. I’m sorry.”

Rrrrr…why does everyone NEED me today? I asked God. Don’t they know that I have things to do? I have an ENTIRE book to finish for goodness sake!

A breeze blew into my ear, and His voice whispered clear.
“They don’t need you, they need Me in you.”

And oh, how I wanted to run back to Xandan and ask him how his school year had been. I wanted to sit with Ethyl and let her pet the dog to her heart’s content, even if it meant her asking the same question fifty times. I wanted to ask Gina what she was doing for the weekend, and let her share her sorrows, but they were all gone. Suddenly the book seemed silly and vain, because, “Jesus came to my door…and I left Him out on the street.” Keith Green


Sharing with Jen today!

Jesus Loves the Person You Can’t Stand

I am attending the Bella Conference, Fresh Colors this weekend…so you’ll have to read this oldy but goody! This is one of my all-time favorites…

Photo courtesy of Alex Proimos

Maybe the person is at work, or at school. Maybe you dislike an entire portion of society, ie. the smelly guy on the bus. Or maybe, and this is the worst of them all, you live with someone you don’t like! Whatever the case, it’s startling how often I hear “Christians” say they hate someone, or dislike a family member. Even more often that this, I see Christians ignore entire portions of their own world. They conveniently ignore the bum on the corner of State and Lake Streets. They sit as far away as possible from the smelly man on the bus. They look upon the scantily dressed young woman, whom they suspect to be a harlot, with disgust. They try with all their might to get out of serving in the nursery when their turn comes up, because they, “just don’t do diapers.” I know, I am ashamed to say, I’ve done all of the above.

Have you ever stopped to ask the bum his story? Whether it’s a true story or not, it’s sure to be interesting and will show a window into his soul. Have you ever thought that maybe the smelly guy is homeless and hasn’t had a shower because he has no bathroom except McDonald’s? Did you ever consider that perhaps the young woman you are so quick to judge may have run away from a sexually abusive father and had no where to turn?

My writing mentor, Madeleine L’Engle said this:

“If Jesus came today, would we be any braver, any more open, any more willing to give ourselves to his love, than were those who cried out, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’? Would we be any more willing today to allow him to love all kinds of people, even those we don’t much care about?
That, of course, was part of the problem–Jesus’ friends. They were not the right people. He went to the wrong dinner parties (his first miracle took place at a big party). He loved children, and let them climb all over him with their sticky little hands and dirty little feet.”

If Jesus reached out to these “untouchables” in our society who are we to ignore them? Who are we to define them as untouchable?

Every once in a while, my Salvation Army roots leak out. General William Booth said,

“Look for yourselves. The surging sea of life crowded with perishing souls rolls up to the very spot on which you stand. Leaving the vision, I now come to speak of the fact – fact that is real as the Bible; as real as the Christ who hung upon the cross! as real as the Judgment Day will be, and as real as the Heaven and Hell that will follow it.

Look! Don’t be deluded by appearances -men and things are not what they seem. All who are not on the rock are in the sea. Look at them from the standpoint of the Great White Throne, and what a sight you have! Jesus Christ, the Son of God; is in the midst of this dying multitude, struggling to save them. And He is calling on YOU to jump into the sea – to go right away to His side, and help Him in the holy strife.

Will you jump? That is, will you go to His feet, and place yourself absolutely at His disposal? My comrades, you are rescued from the waters; you are on the rock. He is in the dark sea, calling on you to come to Him and help Him. Will you go?”

Here is my favorite Keith Green song ever. Please listen. Someone’s life depends on it.

The Journey of Obedience

In my Journey Towards Epiphany, I am seeking to have Christ revealed to me in everyday life.  Christ reveals Himself to many in Scripture, beginning with shepherds and wisemen.  It is interesting in this Christ-revelation how both the simple minded and the wise are included.

He then reveals Himself to a man and woman at the temple, a prophet and prophetess, fishermen and tax collectors, rich and poor, educated and uneducated.  What’s the reoccuring ingredient in all these people?  I supposed one could be that they were looking for something MORE, even if before His revelation they were not aware of the fact.

This is good news for me, because I am definitely looking for more.  It has always been my hearts cry to have more of God.  In reading through the Book of Common Prayer last night, my Gospel reading was from John 14 in the Amplified Version of the Bible.

21The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]

Could it be, that when I feel far from Him, it is time for me to climb to a new level of obedience?  What are these commands?  Seeing that Jesus boiled them down to two, they would be: to Love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and mind, and to Love my neighbor as myself.

The longer I walk this walk with Him, the more I realize that this truly is a real journey, very much like the one Christian makes in Pilgrim’s Progress.  Until my journey closes, I will have new challenges and new levels of commitment and obedience . How can I say that I really believe in God, if I won’t obey Him?  Obedience is a statement of faith, overcoming the doubts of the world, and sometimes even greater, the doubts of the human mind.

So I guess my question to the Lord today is, “Lord what act of obedience will unlock the gate towards a greater revelation of You today?”

I’m going to be meditating about these things today.  Because after all, my determined purpose is that I may know Him, and it seems as though obedience is one way to accomplish that.