A Redecorated Life of Purpose

I walked through my house suffering a bit from cabin fever. I had been off work for over three weeks due to winter break from the university where I teach.  Although school was to begin the next week I had one weekend to go with not much to do.  The weather outside was below zero with blowing snow and ice so staying home was the best option.

As I walked though the house I looked in each room.  As I looked in the upstairs bathroom I realized how old the décor had become.  I had decorated it 20 years ago with blue and pink sponged walls and a shell wallpaper border.  Cute for a kids bathroom I thought, but the kids were grown now.  The cabinet was a dull white, left over from the previous owners who had painted each bathroom in the house, white, to rid themselves of the overly dark woodwork though out the house.

I decided that day I had enough time to remove the shell border that had gone out of style about 15 years earlier.   As I took down the border it became apparent that, knowing I was going to add a border I did not paint as well as I should have behind the border, and wallboard was showing through.

Great, I thought, well now I will need to repaint the bathroom.  So, my small project turned into a rather large project as I decided to repaint the dull white cabinet and the old sponged walls.

I picked out paint and painted for 5 days, covering the old sponged walls with a light gray and the old dull cabinet with a slightly darker gray, each violet undertones.  Each day after painting I would clean my tools.

As I cleaned the brush and the roller the paint would ooze out slowly and just when I thought I was finished, suddenly with a brief squeeze of my hand more paint would emerge.   I could have stopped at that point as the brushes looked clean from the outside, however I knew that deep inside there was more paint to emerge and if left embedded these tools would dry hard to the touch, rendering them useless for any further work.

This brought to my mind, my time of painting with my father years ago.  Dad was a carpenter by trade and a jack of all trades by choice. He did most of the finish work in the homes he built, himself.   This required a lot of painting.   When he built his own house to which he and mom retired I did much of the painting.   Dad would arrive to see me cleaning brushes and when I finished he would tell me the brushes were not clean.  He told me if I didn’t get every bit of paint out of the brush it would dry hard and need to be thrown away.  Dad spent over 30 minutes cleaning his brushes and his brushes lasted him over 15 years!

So, that day as I cleaned my brushes and rollers I thought of dad as I squeezed each tool and watched as the oozing paint emerged.  I would dip the brush bristles into detergent and then splay them so that I could see each bristle, turning the brush a quarter of a turn as I moved through the brush cleaning it.  I would drive the bristles into my hand to ensure the tips of the bristles were getting clean.

As I drove the bristles into my hand I thought of the hands of the other carpenter, the carpenter from the bible, and the nails that were driven into his hands so that the souls of sinners would be clean.  When I squeezed the roller, I saw the paint ooze out and slowly the water began to run clear.

When Jesus died on the cross as the flow of blood ceased, blood and water flowed from the side of Jesus.

When my brushes were finally cleaned, I remember dad’s words, the brush must be clean from the inside to be useful in the future.  “All finished dad.”  I said as I dried the brushes.

Jesus said those words too, right before he died.  “It is finished.” and shortly before he died, he said “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:3-4.

The cleansing was done for all.  Jesus did for us what we could not and cannot do for ourselves.  He has cleaned us from the inside, creating in us a new heart and a new spirit.  He redecorated us from the inside out so we may be clean and useful tools in his hands.

What a marvelous picture of grace and love!

 

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel 36:26

 

 

 

 

 

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This entry was posted on January 14, 2018. 1 Comment

True Cleansing

The celebrations and parties are over and it’s the start of a new year.  A chance for new plans and opportunities.  As I took down my Christmas decorations it seemed the house looked pretty much unscathed after the Holiday celebrations except for one thing.   A yellowish stain in the middle of my very light beige living room carpet.

How could that be I thought.  I had cleaned the carpet with carpet cleaner and vinegar immediately after a visiting dog with a sour stomach left his mark.  Still, here I was in the morning looking at this yellow stain.   There was no avoiding it, my eyes went directly to it.   To top it off my husband had just cleaned the carpet before the Holidays.

So, I got out my cleaning supplies and attempted to clean the spot again.  Only this time I was smarter.  Rather than to rub I followed the directions from my “Best of Helpful Hints” cleaning book, and after mixing vinegar with detergent I soaked the stain again.  Then came the labor, intensive part of patient blotting.  Following the directions in detail I blotted with a paper towel first, and then with a dry towel, repositioning the towel every five to ten minutes while weighting the towel down with a book.

I couldn’t tell if this was working or not since the carpet was very wet.  Still I blotted, and waited.  And as I blotted, each time I felt the towel fill with moisture I could feel something was being drawn from the carpet and cleansing was taking place.

What I had failed to do the first day was to blot, instead I had rubbed hastily.

Isn’t that the way it is in life too?  When we want to rid ourselves of something there is a tendency to do it quickly and efficiently without much thought.   We think we have taken care of the problem only to find later that we had only masked the problem.

That’s how it was with that stain.  The first day it looked like it was gone, but it was only masked by the change in the texture of the carpet being wet.  By morning the yellow tinge appeared, revealing the problem was still there.

By scrubbing I thought I would remove the stain but instead I just spread it further into the carpet.  By blotting I was able to lift it from the carpet.

What a beautiful sight when the carpet dried and it was clean!

And what a beautiful picture I saw of what Christ has done for us in blotting out our sins.  There is no tinge that stains us.  We are made new through the blood of Christ.  We can come with full assurance that our sins have been blotted out and our names have been written in the book of the lamb.

As we begin this new year, we may make resolutions or set goals, but what goal do you have for your soul and where do you find your hope?

My prayer is that if today you hear his voice you harden not your heart.

May this new year cause each of us to think about the gift that once received is eternal.

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. Revelation 3:5

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on January 2, 2018. 2 Comments

Little Brown Teapot

Little Brown Teapot

I often visit estate sales when they have something of interest to me and I’ve found some very good bargains.  Several weeks back I found a sheep shearling coat.  I love the warmth of shearling and my old shearling coat just didn’t fit any more.  I found a spinet desk from the 1920’s, the perfect size for a laptop computer with lots of cubbies for my journals and devotionals.

This last week I visited an estate sale to look at teapots.  In the posted pictures, they had shown a lot of teapots and I wanted to purchase another one so that I could brew more than one kind of tea when entertaining in my home.

When I entered the estate sale I saw the teapots in the corner of the room.  They were beautiful.  One had lovely flowers, another had a rabbit for a top, and yet another was in the shape of a house.  But as I picked each teapot up I noticed they were very light, and on the bottom they were marked “made in China”.  Now I don’t mean to be a teapot snob, but a good teapot is generally made in England as the  English are known for their love of tea.  

As I continued to look at each individual pot I noticed a very plain teapot near the back of the table.  It was a dark brown teapot and quite frankly it was ugly, but it did have a made in Britain label.  I picked it up and looked inside.  Inside were directions for using the pot and an abbreviated history of the teapot.

The heading said, “Traditional Brown Betty Tea Pot” made in Caledonia Mills, Stoke-on-Trent, ENGLAND.

This intrigued me, so I opened the tag to read more.

“During Queen Victoria’s reign, tea became a symbol of Britain’s greatness and expansion and every home owned a teapot.  Even if it was a basic ‘Brown Betty”.  Its origins go back to the end of the 17th century and to the birth of the British ceramic teapot. Brown Betty teapots are still made and formed from clay which comes from the same area where the original pots were made in 1695. The “Red ware” Brown Betty teapot makes the best tea in the world. The shape of the pot causes the tea leaves to be gently swirled when boiling water is added producing an exquisite infusion. The purple glaze turns to a deep brown when fired producing a smooth finish inside and out.

Hmmm.   I thought.  Best pot of tea, intriguing, but still quite ugly, I thought. I hadn’t come to purchase an ugly teapot.  I looked longingly at the pretty teapots on the table but realized they were just that, pretty and adorned on the outside but lacking function on the inside.

As I stared at that unassuming brown teapot I was reminded of this verse. 

”Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” God takes the clay and perfects it into what he wants it to be.  The “Brown Betty”, the perfect teapot.

As I looked at those pots on the table I realized it’s not about looks, it’s about function.  Those beautiful pots didn’t have the weight to perform the task that the red clay pot had.  They were adorned to only entice, but they had no substance.

So, I picked up the ugly little brown teapot dusty and all, and purchased it.  When I brought it home I washed it, inside and out and as I dried it, it began to shine, and I began to see beauty in that little brown pot.

Then I realized that God sees beauty in all of us.  We don’t need to be finely adorned for God doesn’t look at the outside, he looks at the heart.  He perfects us by molding us into the perfect vessel for his use.  God only uses those of substance, but he can take those who lack substance and create substance in and through them.

When I brewed my first pot of tea and sat down to drink it, it was indeed the best cup of tea I ever tasted.  I don’t know if it’s because of the pot or because of the symbolism I associate with that pot.  But I’m glad I chose to overlook the enticing pretty pots and choose instead the pot of substance for it serves as a reminder to me that I too am clay in the potter’s hands.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

 

 

 

This entry was posted on December 13, 2017. 1 Comment

Cover Up

 

In our neighborhood we have split rail fences in front of each house.  Several years ago one family decided to put white lights on their fence.  Another family followed and then another, and another, until most homes had white lights on their fences.  I’m told by acquaintances from other neighborhoods that it’s actually an attraction to come to our neighborhood now to look at the fence lights.

This past weekend I was putting up Christmas lights with my husband and he took the bag with the fence lights down to the road and began putting them on the fence.  Meanwhile I was trying to assemble a new light set, a set of three gift boxes to add to our Christmas theme.  I couldn’t find the directions but thought it couldn’t be too hard to stack three boxes.  I was wrong, so after several attempts I went to enlist my husband’s help.

He headed up to the house while I finished the lights on the fence.  But the lights didn’t stretch across the width of the fence.  Something was wrong!  I had previously counted out the exact number of strings needed to complete this project but I was short!  I retraced what my husband had already done, only to find that he had wrapped a portion of the strands around a fence post.  He did it because that strand wasn’t lighting.  It was his effort to hide the broken lights, but it left me short when I reached the end.

I wonder, how often do we do this in our own lives?  Something isn’t working and rather than to address the situation, we bind it up and store it away.  It could be a relationship, a health issue or emotional baggage.  We tuck it away in the hopes that no one will see our shortcomings.  But the truth is, when we wrap it up in hopes of hiding it, we come up short at the end.  Just like my short strand of lights, if we “stuff things” in the hopes of hiding them we come up short in the end.  It is better to address the brokenness than to place it out of sight, hoping that it too, will be out of mind.

Our minds don’t work that way.  We will always go back to brokenness unless we deal with brokenness once and for all.

And what about those gift boxes I was trying to assemble without the directions?  Well as it turns out my husband couldn’t figure them out either, even though he had assembled them once before.  They were designed to be assembled in a specific way.  There were two holes, one for the lights and the other for the stand.  Without the instructions there was no support and the project toppled.

That’s how life is too.  Without instructions we are left to make decisions based on feelings.  What do we think we should do?  What approach do we feel would be best?

Instructions and working parts are important.  To be at our best we must make sure we are working at our full potential and using our knowledge effectively.

Often I get frustrated putting up our Christmas decorations, especially when things don’t go as planned, but not this year.  This year I had not only checked all our lights as in the past, but over the summer I had rewired troublesome decorations to ensure they would be ready to go this year.

Changing out light bulbs is easy, but how do we deal with the brokenness of life?  The brokenness of despair that leads to depression and hopelessness?

Are there any instructions for this?  YES!

Psalm 147:3 says:

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Isaiah 61:1-2 says:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the suffering and afflicted. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted, to announce liberty to captives, and to open the eyes of the blind.  He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of God’s favor to them has come.

There is no power in binding our wounds ourselves.  But in Him and through Him our wounds are not only forever bound, but forever healed.

The Spirit of God can do this.  The Spirit of God will do this for those who believe it is possible.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9

This entry was posted on November 29, 2017. 4 Comments

Girdled

 

Girdled

As a young girl I remember watching my mother get dressed for an evening out.  Back then there was no such thing as panty hose so mother wore nylon stockings and a girdle with clips to attach the stockings and hold them up.  The girdle served a dual purpose.  It help up the stockings and held in the stomach!

But there is another meaning to girdling as well.  To girdle a tree is to cut through the bark, either to kill it, or to girdle just one branch to make it more fruitful.

Isn’t that interesting that girdling can be used to kill or to make fruitful?

Last weekend we had a major storm come through our town.  It consisted of straight line winds.  Our neighborhood was hit the hardest in our little town but interestingly enough, only a small portion of our neighborhood saw wind damage. It was a very selective storm.

Many trees were uprooted and fell blocking the roadways.  Telephone poles were broken in two and power lines were down with power outages for three days.

In our yard we lost one tree.  It wasn’t a big tree.  In fact most of the little trees actually remained standing.  It was the tall trees that took the biggest hit through the storm.

But this little tree had a defect that made it vulnerable and inevitable to fall.   The tree was girdled and we didn’t even know it, until it fell.

It wasn’t girdled purposefully.  The arborist that saw it said that it had been planted too deep in the ground.  It was an established tree that had stood there for probably 30 years, and of late I had begun to see a decline in the growth of the foliage on this tree.   The arborist who had come out when I first noticed the decline in the tree had said it just needed to be cleared of grass and mulched.

But when I attempted to do that I noticed that the root system had grown around the base of the tree.  Instead of growing downward like a normal root structure, the roots had encircled the base of the tree.  My husband said it was nothing to worry about, “That’s what trees do.” He said.   But he’s not a tree guy.

Of course there was nothing that could be done for that tree.  It had grown that way for 30 years, and we hadn’t planted it so we never knew it was doomed to destruction.

But that’s what happened.  An immense wind took it down because it did not have a firm foundation.  From the outside the tree trunk looked thicker than it actually was, it was deceiving to the eye.

My husband spent two days sawing the tree up for removal.  During that time I became more accustomed to not having the tree block the view of the front of my house.  The openness of the yard revealed to me how just as the girdling of the tree had been concealed, the tree also had concealed the beauty of my house.

Of course, given I always look for messages, I received a message loud and clear from this experience regarding the tree and the loss of it.

Girdling can both conceal and stunt growth.

But let’s not miss the other function of girdling, and that function is to girdle for the purpose of growth.

When a tree branch is girdled correctly, it produces more abundant fruit.  Isn’t that what we want in our lives too?

We are purposed for growth both physically and spiritually.  Just as a young child grows into adulthood, we too grow spiritually across our lifespan.

And the neat thing about growing spiritually is that no matter what physical conditions that may come our way, spiritually we can continue to grow.  God doesn’t want us is to be like that tree. He doesn’t want us to stand for 30 or more years, never growing beyond the root of a sapling but giving the appearance of maturity.

God never girdles us from the root, for the root is God, and is life giving.  But God will girdle us at the branches throughout our lives.  He may girdle us as a young adult, a middle age adult or even a senior adult.  He girdles us to grow us and to mold us into a people called according to his purpose.  He calls us to live the abundant life, and when living according to his purpose we may just help someone else along the way to embrace God’s purpose for their life as well.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.        \

2 Corinthians 4:15-16                       

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on November 13, 2017. 2 Comments

I can’t take credit for this….but…

This was forwarded to me and it is laugh out loud, funny!!

If you have followed or read my blog you know of my squirrel adventure this past summer.  If you haven’t read it you can scroll through the blog and find the story about my tenacious squirrel.

Seems we can learn a lot from squirrels and other religions too!

Enjoy!

The Presbyterian Church called a meeting to decide what to do about their squirrels. After prayer and consideration, they concluded the squirrels were predestined to be there and they shouldn’t interfere with God’s divine will.

 

At the Baptist Church, the squirrels had taken an interest in the baptistery. The deacons met and decided to put a water slide on the baptistery and let the squirrels drown themselves. The squirrels liked the slide and, unfortunately, knew instinctively how to swim so twice as many squirrels showed up the following week.

 

The Methodist Church decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God’s creatures. So, they humanely trapped their squirrels and set them free near the Baptist Church. Two weeks later the squirrels were back when the Baptists took down the water slide.

 

But the Catholic Church came up with a very creative strategy. They baptized all the squirrels and consecrated them as members of the church. Now they only see them at Christmas and Easter.

 

Not much was heard from the Jewish Synagogue; they took the first squirrel and circumcised him. They haven’t seen a squirrel since.

 

Weekly Devotions

October 29

 

Father,

 

So often we become caught up in the responsibilities of the day and take no time to enjoy the presentation of the day.  This is the day you have provided, this is your day and it is my day too.  You have allowed me to live this very day as an experience through the knowledge of you. I want to take time today to see your reflection.  You are everywhere in my day, but I don’t always take the time to acknowledge you; your power, or your interventions.  Let me erase the line between the spiritual and the physical and blend the lines so that physically I am spiritually alive.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.

 

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

 

October 30

 

Father,

 

What a day this has been, yet every step has been guided by you.  You guided my first steps out of bed, you guided my vehicle down the road, you guided my directions, my thought patterns, my processing and my decision making, you guided it all by your spirit.  I am not ashamed of the spiritual guidance you give me when I put my hope and trust in you.  There is no greater gift than to know that you reside in me.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.

 

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delights in his way. Psalms 37:23

 

October 31

 

Father,

 

What a blessing is prayer.  Jesus’ connection to you through prayer is an example of sustainability.  There is nothing that can sustain itself on its own.  A car runs out of gas, vegetation dies without water, we too if left empty are unable to refill ourselves without your sustaining power.  While we can feed our bodies, we can’t feed our souls unless we are in communion with you daily.  Father, you are the sustainer of our souls, the spirit of our existence.   Your presence is an ever present connection through prayer.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.

 

What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 1 Corinthians 14:15
November 1

 

Father,

 

You call us to be a welcome mat to others but not a doormat.  A welcome mat reaches out to others through the love of Christ.  A doormat, often accepts inappropriate behavior from others in the form of ridicule or persecution.  Jesus knew ridicule and persecution.  How did he respond?  Those who were capable of understanding, he rebuked. In front of those who lacked understanding He remained silent.  Jesus then took this ridicule and condemnation to the cross on our behalf and we are free from all condemnation through Him.  If God does not look down on us, or condemn us then neither should we let another person do so.  God’s gift through Jesus is acceptance of us just as we are.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.

 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

 

November 2

 

Father,

 

We can plan our day perfectly but things may not always go as expected.  So what is our response when things don’t go our way? Do we get angry or sulk? Life will have its unexpected twists and turns but our reaction will be what determines the outcome.  No one forces us to react negatively; it is a choice that we make given the circumstances. It is only through the power of God that we can choose to react positively when our entire being is crying out with negative emotions.  Through God’s strength we can overcome if we have made the choice to be defined as children of God, and chose to walk guided by His Spirit.  In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

 

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

 

November 3

 

Father,

 

You know the needs of every heart before we express them, but your desire is for us to bring our needs to you to display our reliance upon you.  Take our heart Lord and let it be consecrated for you.  Consecration means to be set apart as sacred.  If our heart is consecrated for you, then our entire being should be consecrated to you as well.  Let us walk in your way, speak with wisdom and react in a Godly manner to the circumstances around us.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.

 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

 

November 4

 

Father,

 

Just as we want to consecrate our heart to you, we want to consecrate our tongue to you.  The tongue is capable of speaking great speeches but the tongue is also capable of making cutting remarks, displaying filthy language and degrading others in the process.  Let our tongue be consecrated and holy for you.  Let our words be kind, not coarse, and let our speech reflect that we are children of God.  In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Ephesians 4:29