Archives

OUR HUMBLE HOME

This has been a week of little unexpected blessings for me. I haven’t done anything special, or gone anywhere, but it makes me happy and grateful when the Lord just drops little joy-fillers into our lives to uplift and bless us.

The series of messages I told you about a few weeks ago by Dr. David Jeremiah on the book of Revelations continues to encourage and exhort as I’ve delved into the study each day. You wouldn’t think that a book on prophecy would have so much practical and personal application for our lives here and now, but I have gleaned so much already that has drawn me closer to the Lord and made me love and praise Him all the more, and made me want to serve Him better.

I have been excited, too, as Bob put in some new flowers and plants in front of our house, and have enjoyed the color and variety as they began to flourish – a sure sign that despite the chilly weather we’ve been experiencing, spring is here! We put out a new American flag (we usually swap out the old one every year or two when they start to look a little grubby) and it was then that I noticed the colors of our new flowers were the red, white and blue of the flag. The colors really popped against one another! Just looking at them gives me a happy heart!

Then there are the DVDs I borrowed from my mother last week. The sound of old-time Southern Gospel music has filled our home this week as Robbie and I, and Bob when he is around, have listened over and over to five or six Gaither Homecoming DVDs. The music is sometimes energetic and catchy, sometimes quiet and peaceful, but always uplifting and glorifying to the Lord and a blessing to me.

The true highlight of our week turned out to be something very different, however. We don’t have company very often, and when we do, it is usually family or people who know us, and the way we live, very well. Where for many years our home was a busy hub of activity and we had large groups of people in weekly, since Robbie’s illness we have grown accustomed to living quietly and to ourselves. This week, though, Bob’s boss and his wife were coming to visit – and I have to admit, the thought made me a little nervous.

I had met Ray and April briefly several years ago in Canada, but to tell the truth, I was rather nervous then, too – probably more because I was out of my element then. I knew they were very nice people and had done a great deal already for Bob as he has worked for them, but as I prepared for their visit I kept wondering what they would think of our home and Robbie – and me. Bob told me several times, “Cindy, quit worrying about it! Ray and April are very kind, down-to-earth people. It will be fine!”

I hoped most of all they would like and appreciate Robbie, looking beyond the disabilities and drool and seeing him for the very special, sweet person he is. We see him through eyes of love and know all the funny, loving, gentle qualities of his personality, but others just meeting him might not recognize the special gift that Robbie is. Anyone who knows us knows how much we cherish that boy, and they had certainly heard enough about Robbie from Bob. Now I hoped as they met him in person for the first time, they would understand why we love him so much and why we thank God for blessing our lives with him.

I worried most of all, though, about what they would think of our house and the way we live. I knew they have a summer home in Canada and a winter home in Florida, and a motor home, as well. Our house is old and in a transitioning neighborhood. It is clean and neat, but there’s nothing fancy or updated about it. Our list of to-do’s (paint the living and dining rooms and hall, put in new flooring and cabinets in the kitchen, refinish some of the interior doors, redo the bathroom downstairs, etc) is long, but somehow we never seem to have the time or money at the same time to get these jobs done. Robbie’s bed is in the middle of our living room. Despite all the HGTV I watch, our favorite décor is comfort over fashion, and family photos over current trends.

Bob was absolutely right! I wasted a lot of worry over what Ray and April would think. They were lovely, kind people and I enjoyed having them here immensely. “Down-to-earth” was the right term to describe them. They seemed to really like Robbie, and of course, he was smitten with them! They actually seemed to love our house, and even our neighborhood, as well! It turns out, they are renovating an old farmhouse in Canada that was built in the 1800’s, and then added to in 1932. (Our house was built in 1928.) They could appreciate the age and character of our house, and the fact that it wasn’t updated.

The thing I had worried about all week turned out to be a wonderful blessing. I think we all enjoyed a good time of fellowship, and a strengthening of our relationship and friendship. What’s more, the Lord used these two sweet people to remind me once again of lessons I thought I had learned long ago:

When will I ever learn to focus on the more important, spiritual things, rather than on the earthly, temporal concerns of this life? Rather than worrying about how people might judge our house, I ought to be more concerned with how they see our home. I get caught up with cleaning, rearranging, putting out the best dishes and candles on the table, serving a delicious meal – all to make a good impression. It is nice when guests appreciate our house and the meal, but am I as concerned that their spirits are nurtured and fed, as well, when they enter our home? The focus ought not to be on the impression I make of myself or my home, but on them and how we can minister to them.

Does love live here? When people enter our home will they feel the love of Christ and the love we have for one another? Will they know that we love them, too? There is no fireplace in this house, but will they feel the warmth of our love? I Corinthians 13 tells us that love is self-sacrificing, patient, kind, truthful, pure, unfailing…”Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth:…And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13) The Bible also says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (I John 4:7, 8) Our love is a testimony to others that He lives within us.
*

Can they feel the joy of the Lord? The walls may be drab and need a coat or two of paint, but may the joy of the Lord color our home! Do others see joy in our faces and hear rejoicing in our words when they come into our home? Do they receive a warm welcome and feel that we are truly glad to have them here? The Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), our light (Psalm 89:15), our prosperity (Psalm 35:27) and a crown (I Thessalonians 2:19.) “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” (Psalm 32:11) What a testimony when we can rejoice in adversity; when we can glorify God for victories and praise Him in all things!

Can they feel the peace of God? Is our home tension-filled – a place of strife and anger, or do others feel comfort and peace when they enter? When we live at peace with one another, when we are patient, when we live harmoniously and in unity, it shows. The décor of my house may not always be harmonious (Bob’s mounted trophy deer hangs just above my palm trees and sea shells) but I hope our lives are, and that they are a testimony to the peace that passes all understanding when others come into our home. Ephesians 4:2-3, 31-32 says, “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Do they sense that Christ is the center of our home? Do they feel His presence here? Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) If our home is filled with His love, joy, and peace they will know that He is present in our home. There is a plaque by our front door that reads, “…Choose you this day whom ye will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) We have chosen to follow the Lord and make Him the head of our home. There is an old saying that goes, “Christ is the head of this house, the unseen guest at every meal, the silent listener to every conversation.” I pray that our conduct and our conversation, our lifestyle and our lives will be a steadfast testimony always that Christ dwells here in our hearts and in our home.

I’ve been praising God for the little unexpected blessings He’s sent me this week, including the blessing of having guests here this week. I hope their visit here was a blessing to them, too!

Advertisements

LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED

This has been another week of living vicariously for me—this time through my daughter Julie. It’s been quiet here at home with nothing much going on, but I’ve been on pins and needles as Julie and David came down to the wire in trying to sell their house in Shreveport, LA and find another one in Montgomery, AL. David had to report for duty on May 15th, and we had prayed and prayed for months that the Lord would help them sell their house before they arrived in Alabama, if it was His will. They left home on the morning of the 15th with it still unsold, but halfway there, with only a couple hours to go before arriving in Alabama, they received a call that they had a buyer! How we rejoiced and praised and thanked the Lord!

And how we laughed! It seemed to us that God has such a sense of humor! In all the months we had been praying, we’d been saying (and truly trusting in our hearts and minds that it was true!), that He would sell that house in His own time and way. And of course, I, as their mother, was going to the Lord and reminding Him, “Lord, you promised if we commit our paths unto You will give us the desires of our hearts, and I don’t know anyone, who is more committed to you than Julie and David! They deserve this, Lord! They honor and obey and serve You more then anyone I know! Puh-leeeeeease, sell their house before David has to report for duty—uh, if it is Your will, of course, Lord!” (I can’t help myself—right or wrong, I’m a mother!) Anyway, we laughed because it seemed the Lord was saying, “Do you really trust me? Let’s take it right down to the wire, my little children, and really see!” He gave us exactly what we had prayed for, but tested our patience and faith to the very end.

Once they knew the house was sold it gave them the freedom and an open door to go ahead and look for another house while they were there. They only had a few days to search and make a decision before Julie and the kids would have to return to Louisiana. I joined them on the internet in a house hunt for a suitable home to rent. (They decided to rent instead of buy since they are unsure how long they will be stationed there. It could be as long as four years, or as short as two years, and if that were the case they did not want to have to turn around and sell again in just a couple years.) They needed a place that would not only suit them now, but that would also fit a growing family of five or six children when their adoptions go through. There were not a great many homes for rent in their price range and in the areas they needed to look, but once again, at the last minute almost, they found a home that seemed just right for them.

Julie and David had made the decision that if they did not have perfect peace about any of the houses they looked at, they would just forget it until she and the kids could join David in Alabama and they would resume the search then. It would mean having to put their belongings in storage for a time and staying in temporary lodging, but they did not want to rush ahead of the Lord and choose something that might not be His best for them just because they were in a hurry and feeling pressured. The Lord had given each of them, on the same day but individually, the reminder, Be still and know that I am God. They would wait on Him to lead and direct them to the right house in His time.

They did not have a long list of criteria to fill. Basically they just needed a house that would pass the home study as far as size and a safe and healthy environment for the children. They weren’t overly concerned with the age or style of the home, or whether it had updated amenities or if it was “good for entertaining,” etc. In the end, God gave them a house that fit their needs and so much more than they were even asking for or had dreamed of! It is out in the country, newer and updated with granite countertops, commercial grade stainless appliances, brand new carpet, freshly painted throughout, two-story garage/barn, in their price range, great landlords—and with plenty of room for five or six children! Best of all, they had the perfect peace for which they had prayed. Upon speaking with the landlords, they could see how the Lord had prepared that house and sold their home in Shreveport at precisely the right times to coincide with one anther and make it all work out for their good, as Romans 8: 28 tells us.

God is so good always, but when He gives us so much more than we ask for, it is humbling and awe-inspiring. I am delighted with how the Lord has worked this out for Julie and David. How wonderful that they can now move door-to-door! It will be so much easier on the children to leave the home they love, now that they have seen and are looking forward to the new house. Julie is thrilled with the new place and eagerly anticipating making that house into a home for her family. David is happy it is move-in ready and they won’t have to do a thing but carry their things in and set them down.

I’ve thought about this over the week. We have another home we’re looking forward to, also, that is so much more than we could ever dream of! We have a place that is being prepared for us right now. When we finally get there, it will be well worth the wait and there won’t be a thing we’ll have to do to make it just right for us! We can leave our old earthly house behind, with all its problems and shortcomings, and enjoy the perfect home our Father has prepared for us. We won’t be moving any “stuff” with us, either, because He will furnish everything we’ll need. We won’t have to worry about monthly payments. The price has already been paid and all we must do is accept it by faith. When we’re moving, we don’t know, but He does, and when all things are ready He’ll take us there. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)

I’m looking forward to my new, perfect home! It’s in the perfect neighborhood, with perfect neighbors and the best of landlords! One of my dad’s favorite hymns was “Mansion Over the Hilltop.”

I’m satisfied with just a cottage below,
A little silver and a little gold;
But in that city where the ransomed will shine,
I want a gold one that’s silver-lined.
*
I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop,
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old;
And someday yonder we will never more wonder,
But walk on streets that are pure as gold.
*
Don’t think me poor or deserted or lonely.
I’m not discouraged, I’m heaven bound;
I’m but a pilgrim in search of a city,
I want a mansion, a harp and a crown.
*
I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop,
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old;
And someday yonder we will never more wonder,
But walk on streets that are pure as gold.
Dad’s already waiting for us there, with many of our other loved ones and friends. What a wonderful reunion it will be someday when Jesus calls us home!