Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Excitement is Building!!!

I'm super excited!! Yesterday I purchased the paint to redo my entryway, staircase and upstairs hallway! YEAH!!!! I also purchased some paint to redo my kitchen cabinets, and have enough left over from other projects to redo my kitchen walls. It's been 12 years since my entry and hall were done, and about 7 for the kitchen, so it is time. Since I'm on a journey of renewal for 2012, my home is being renewed inside and out.


So here is my 'little' list of things I plan on renewing this year:

  • Re-painting and decorating entryway, hallway and staircase (which is open).
  • Re-paint the kitchen and cabinets.
  • Finally finish off the little things in the bathroom that was re-done 2 years ago.
  • Move my herb garden fence and complete over-haul herb beds and raised beds.
  • Clean out mud-room, which also serves as a library, laundry room and storage space for things needing to make it into the basement for storage.
  • Clean out basement!!!!
  • Clean up the yard and enlarge the vegetable and fruit garden.
  • Get rid of STUFF!!
  • Clean out the spare room and studio, creating storage space somewhere else, so these rooms are more usable and inviting.
  • Go through all my old inventory from my herb store and put it to practical use, or get rid of it.
Pretty ambitious huh? For me, the creative process is such a breath of fresh air for my soul. It's where I find my sense of peace, tranquility, and self. Relocating my 'self', who has been MIA, is such a joyful thing for me. I can't wait to get started on these projects. My weekend plans are already mapped out and its like Christmas....what will I find when it's open? WooHoo!! 


"Before & After" pics will follow.....if I can reduce my enthusiasm enough to hold the camera still! ;)




Monday, February 27, 2012

Truth

A few years ago, a friend of mine posted the word 'truth' as her status update on Facebook. That was it. Just one little word, but boy does it pack an enormous punch. Right between the eyes sometimes!


Is. 30:10-11 (NIV) says, "They say to the seers, 'See no more visions!' and to the prophets, 'Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!' "    I love all the exclamation points!! :)


My commentary has this to say: Some people in Judah may have sought refuge in Egypt. In there desire to find security, they wanted to hear only good news. They did not welcome the truth from God's prophets. Often the truth makes us uncomfortable. We prefer lies and illusions when they make us feel more secure. It is much better to face reality than to live a lie. Don't settle for something that makes you feel comfortable but is not true. Go to Is. 29:13: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men." These people gave the illusion of honesty and truth, but God saw their hearts. He knew what was true and what was all for show.


Truth is one of my gifts. I am loathe to share that, as this makes me a very unpopular party guest. I translate information rapidly, decipher, and ping....ping...ping....here's what's really being said. While this makes me a good problem solver, it doesn't always lead to popularity among those living in a state of illusion. (Or is it a state of delusion.)


Here is a truth about me: I HATE LIES! I hate manipulation, illusions, and pretending. In fact, my dislike of fairy-tales is pretty evident. They don't get read, watched, or played out.....ever! As my daughter got older, I couldn't even play with her dollhouse and stable...the horses should NOT live in the house while the people live in the barn. Poor kid, but at least I acknowledge this flaw and didn't try to change her or her playtime....I took a mommy time-out.


For many years I lived out a hopeful illusion. I prayed, wept, struggled through, hid out, settled for comfort instead of truth, and just kept believing that God would grant my request of bringing truth and shattering the illusion. In the last few years I've watched as He has done just that. He provided me with TRUTH. He healed, restored, blessed and protected me in ways and through circumstances that I thought were insane. Here's what I've learned....only when we SEEK the truth will it be FOUND! Ah-ha....and a huge DUH! There's even a Bible verse about it. Hello!


I watched this weekend as God revealed even more truth to me, about me, for me. Shattered right through many lies of the enemy. And as I sit back and watch how the rest will unfold, I feel only compassion for the many who refuse to let go of the illusion. Thank you Lord for granting my prayers and shattering the illusions of so long. Thank you for your healing, mercy, wisdom, grace and blessing. It is with huge and tremendous humility and gratefulness that I fall before You and give You the final say in my life. Thank you for your protection and thank you for making all things beautiful in your time!




Monday, February 13, 2012

Why

So I started a blog because everyone else was doing it. That's the truth. I can hear my mother saying, 'and if everyone jumped off a bridge would you?' No, probably not, but this seems different somehow. :) Certain physical death does not come from blogging. 

The second part of the truth is I actually thought about it before it was the thing to do. I journal A LOT and figured maybe if I put my words out there for everyone to see, knowing they would have an opinion as well, I would have to face things I could hide when it was just me. Accountability. Not a nice word. Transparency. An equally unpleasant word.

Why would I intentionally seek transparency, accountability, opinions of others? I could say I'm a glutton for punishment, or I want others to think I'm special, or spiritual, or I want a pat on the back. Maybe at one time or another each and every one of those have been true. The real reason? I'd rather be transparent and have accountability because of my own insecurities. Now I've said it so let's pretend I didn't - k?

Why do we let our insecurities and doubts plague us? Why do we make the choices we do and stand in our own way? Why do we want others to think we have it all together when we don't? Why do we care what society tells us is 'normal', let alone let other believers say it? Why are we afraid to be ourselves, the people God made us to be? Why are we afraid of being hurt, vulnerable, weak, sinful, sad, lonely, insecure, etc.... Why do I listen to lies - the ones others tell me and more importantly the ones I tell myself? Is it really any easier? Is it really any healthier? Do I ever feel any better about any of it? What about that verse in the Bible? You know the one, "be transformed by the RENEWING of your mind." Transformation can only take place when we renew our minds.

Yet the word 'why' is one of my favorite words. Why this or that? Why, why, why, why!? Add in the stompy pout and you have a full blown temper tantrum. If I make a choice daily to renew my mind, the way I'm looking at something or seeing something, a choice to view it in light of God's truth and light, then maybe transformation would occur. Another DUH! moment don't you think. If it's such a duh though, why (there it is again) is it so hard to do? Am I so scared of being transformed, or so insecure about who I am in Christ, that I would rather stay here and just cope? Some day's its a lot easier to go with the flow and believe whatever, then to 'take every thought captive'. 

Truth = rejection sometimes and rejection = feeling bad and lonely. When it's easier for others to believe lies about me than believe the truth, no matter which side it falls on, it becomes easier to believe them. Who wants to feel rejection? Who wants to rock the boat? Who wants to be flawed and weak and whiny and questioning? How often do we hear that our faith should be great enough to get us through anything? 

I have been forced to come to grips with the insecurities that have created my life, my choices, my actions, my attitudes, my path. I have been gently nudged to look at how God can transform that stuff into something renewed and beautiful. So what if I'm imperfect? News flash, we all are. My sin and weakness sometimes becomes a mirror for others to see themselves reflected. Sometimes they are my mirror. Sometimes we can work through it together, other times we walk away and don't work through anything. So there it sits. Maybe I've been looking at renewal all wrong.

What if God allowed those hopes, dreams, insecurities, doubts, etc.... to be put to death. What if instead of seeking a renewal of those things He actually desires to transform them into new and more beautiful things? What if while I was seeking a renewed sense of the old, He was creating a transformation into new? What if the path I was one was the wrong one and He is lighting up the right one? Truth is always a big deal to me....maybe it's time I face the truth about myself and God's plans for me. Maybe, just maybe, it's time to walk away from the whys and embrace the unknown and beautiful. 


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Rose and The Thorn

I love roses. In fact they are one of my most favorite flowers, most favorite scents, and one of God's great healers. You can look at them, smell them, eat them (rose petal jam is amazing), wear them. They are symbols of love and beauty. Some of them produce fruit, rose hips, which are high in vitamin C. The oil is used in perfume, in skin preparations to aid healing and restoration. Good for dry skin, maturing skin, damaged skin. Such a remarkable creation.

There are so many different varieties. I have a huge old-fashioned, rose hip bearing rose that produces flowering stems over 10 feet long. I have a second old-fashioned bush rose that only sometimes has fruit, but the blossoms smell so strongly it makes the best jam and tea. Then I have some of the smaller tea roses, which smell nice and are amazing for the ridiculous number of colors you can grow.

One thing is true of all of them....the stems are all filled with thorns. Big thorns that you can break off, little hair like thorns that just prick and you can't get them off, so beware. In order for me to grow plants that produce flowers and fruit, I have to prune, manipulate, water, treat for black-spot and rust, nurture and fertilize. Every spring I end up with pricks, pricks and more pricks. Maybe this is where the phrase, 'no pain, no gain' actually originated? I endure the pricks so I can enjoy the result. Even leather gloves are no match for some of those thorns!

In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul talks about his 'thorn'. So let me do some serious paraphrasing here: Paul had visions; Paul was prone to conceit and pride; God sent a 'messenger' to torment him; Paul was unhappy about this; Paul begged God 3 times to remove it; God said 'NO' (actually, God said, suck it up buddy because I'm right here); Paul resigned himself to the thorn and chose to see it as a blessing in his life. I've heard sermons and more sermons on this passage. Generally they all follow the same pattern: Paul was dealing with a hard time physically; God allowed it to demonstrate His power; Paul trusted God; God is in charge; we should trust God in hard times and remember He is with us.

Many years ago I began doing battle with an unknown physical ailment. Doctors, tests, more doctor visits, more tests, more things to rule out, more things they found wrong. It's now been almost 10 years of doing this. Can you say FRUSTRATING!! Early on, like year 2-3, I decided that this thorn story was going to be motivator. Maybe God was allowing this mystery ailment to remain as my 'thorn'. I made a decision to trust that God knew what was up, and He allowed it to remind me, Miss Type-A, that I needed to rest, I needed to trust, etc... Remember all those sermons I had heard? My decision was met with some very different reactions. Some thought I needed to be more forceful with the doctors, demanding answers; some thought that I needed a miraculous healing; some thought I didn't have enough faith, so there was no healing; some thought I was hiding sin in my life and needed to confess; some thought it was ridiculous to claim a 'thorn', after all everyone has hardships; some thought I was using it as an excuse. UGH!

This morning as I was looking for a good place for devotions, I came back across this passage and figured I ought to read it again. It's been a few years since I have it memorized pretty well. However, since I'm claiming this to be The Year of Renewal, I figured I'd read it with a renewed mind. It doesn't say what I thought it did. So I re-read the commentary too. It doesn't say what I thought it did, either.

Paul had just finished 'boasting' (his words, not mine) about his visions and revelations. He then goes on to say that he won't do it any more, but even if he did it would be okay because he'd only be telling the truth. But he'll stop because otherwise other people might think he was special too. He says that God knew Paul would require something that would humble him and keep him from his own pride. He was not real happy with God about this, and since no one knows what the thorn actually is, whether sickness or physical ailment, it's hard to know what Paul means when he says 'it tormented' him. He shares God's words to him, and then says that the humility and opportunity to be reminded of God's power is a blessing.

Here's what I got this morning: Paul knew his own shortcomings; God knew Paul; Paul had work to do; God forced Paul to rest; Paul wasn't lacking faith or hiding sin or doing too much or hiding his own shortcoming; God never accused Paul of anything; Paul sought healing multiply times; God said 'NO'; Paul was persistent, but also willing; Paul KNEW it had come through the hand of God intentionally; God confirmed it. Paul saw that although there would be pricks and pain, ultimately beauty and fruit would come forth. You can't have the beauty of the rose without the thorns.

I don't think this passage is just or only a reminder of the sufficiency of God's grace, or how we should rejoice in trials and how they make us stronger and more dependent on God. I read that Paul had a bigger struggle - pride. He couldn't overcome it, so God was helping him. Notice he went on to boast about his weakness which made God look stronger. Sometimes we see an area of our lives that we struggle with. We ask God to help us, to change us, to work in us. So, is it possible that God allows 'thorns' in our lives because we NEEDED them? Could it be they are there for our benefit? Could we have actually prayed them into being?

I certainly didn't ask for trials, but I have always asked God to help me be more Christ-like. I've also asked for miracles, direction, help, support, faith, growth, patience, patience, patience. Beyond that, I've come to see today, that God actually was using this thing in my life for a great and intentional purpose. Not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of others. He ordained it for good, but there was another force at work that used it for evil. And being myself, I 'sucked it up', ignored what I could, and soldiered on....that's what everyone was encouraging anyway.

So what is my renewed sense of this passage? Well, I plan on processing through the rest of it today. It may take all week. But I do know that I don't need to pray for miraculous healing, there's nothing to confess, my faith is where it is and that's enough for today. I don't need to suck it up, soldier on, ignore it. While I take my physical health pretty seriously right now, I also know that God is taking my spiritual health pretty seriously right now. A renewed vision and sense of who He is is only the beginning.

I love roses. I hate the thorns. I want to be a rose....God can deal with the thorns.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Amazed

The verses this morning that spoke to me (more like a huge slap on the forehead - DUH! moment): "Trust God from the bottom of your heart, DON'T TRY TO FIGURE EVERYTHING OUT ON YOUR OWN. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume you know it all. Run to GOD! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own, give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over." (Prov.3:5-10, MSG)

I'm pretty guilty of trying to figure everything out on my own. I pray, but them my mind races and wanders.....what if, what if, shoulda, coulda, shoulda, coulda, why, why, why?!?!?!?! As my husband says, it's no wonder women cry all the time. He may have a point! (In my own defense, I actually am not a crier....but I've certainly done my share in the last little bit.)

Last year, after going through some pretty rough times, God promised and delivered redemption. He redeemed my broken and shattered self, dreams, hopes, beliefs, life, etc... He blessed me beyond what I could imagine. This year He promised renewal - renewed vision, hopes, dreams, life, health, etc... And He's been awfully quick to deliver.

I sit humbled and amazed and in awe of my great Father, who has patiently carried me along, staying close, providing help in my times of trouble, showing me how valuable to Him I am. He has brought a renewed sense of peace into my life, one I've thought I understood, but now realize I have never know. The journey is only just beginning....amazed and excited to see the rest!


Friday, February 3, 2012

The Year of Renewal

I have dubbed 2012 "The Year of Renewal". No resolutions this year, just a key word to guide me throughout the coming months.


Renewal is something I desperately need. I need renewed health, renewed faith, renewed vision, and my spirit is crying out for renewal. The last few years have been filled with trials, learning, struggling, brokenness, healing, redemption, blessings, more trials and more learning, and a realization that I need to STOP doing and START being.


Mark 6:31b(NIV), "he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.' Jesus realized that the work was wearing and a time of renewal was needed in order to go on. 


I forget this. I've been going, going, going like the Energizer Bunny for so long, I've even forgotten HOW to rest. Notice what the verse says - 'by yourself', 'quiet place', 'rest'. It doesn't say 'take a five min. break', nor does it say 'go til you drop'. It says REST. 


For me, renewal begins when I sit and rest at the feet of God. When I seek accountability and support from my friends and family. When I quit striving and worrying and doing. When I just stop. I used to see the label 'energizer bunny' as a wonderful testament to my ability to juggle it all. Now I see it as a sad testimony to how I've been living.


So, I've adjusted my diet, made my health a priority, set realistic goals, created a 'not-to-do' list, cut out all my 'good' outside activities, and am resting finally. Until this year I never thought I 'deserved' a rest. This is a lie from the best deceiver I've ever met.


Is this a daily battle for me? Absolutely. I'm a doer....a type-A....a control-freak....a workaholic. I'm also broken...exhausted...worn out...weary. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1:22, NIV) While I realize there is more to this passage, I think it applies to the area of rest just the same. The Bible makes it clear that God intended we rest, refresh, renew...He even designated a whole day for just that! 


So this year, I'm going to focus on renewing my mind, my spirit, my body, my faith. I'm going to focus on the Creator and His promises. I'm going to rest and refresh and renew and let go of lies. 

I Must Confess - Day 3

Confession time here. Be prepared. Last night, after a fairly emotionally charged day, I snapped at my husband. I shall pause to let that s...