Monthly Archives: September 2015

Seeking Him First

31 Days of Seeking Him

Tomorrow starts my series of 31 Days of Seeking Him and I invite you to join me in the journey.

I wrote these words initially for this space here, but as I am entering into this new month I am seeing that these words were meant for me as well.

I have been hearing a song on the radio recently that speaks so completely to what I want to see in my own life of seeking God. Lauren Daigle’s FIRST.

For so many years I have used God when it suited me. I came calling in the midst of crisis, asking for help. I had a heart of thankfulness for all He has done but I wasn’t living in that gratitude.

I want my life to be a seeking of God FIRST.

Before I bring my requests, my sorrows and demands…I want to seek Him, to know Him fully first.

Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
Before I lift my cares
I will lift my arms
I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment
Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
And seek You

Before everything else, I want to seek God.

This doesn’t come naturally to me, I’ve got to be honest. I am selfish and self centered and look out for what makes ME feel best first.

But there are some strongholds in my life that have been present for FAR TOO LONG. I am over them, I want them out and I am coming to the realization once again that I need to let go of it all and first seek God.

Before I speak a word
Let me hear Your voice
And in the midst of pain
Let me feel Your joy
Ooh, I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment
Before I speak a word
I will bring my heart
And seek You

So it is my prayer that through this month we might walk together on this path of seeking God first. Of listening to His voice and finding Him in every moment of our day.

You are my treasure and my reward
Let nothing ever come before
You are my treasure and my reward
Let nothing ever come before
I seek You

Our treasure and reward is God Himself. What a gift to have a Father that loves us so unconditionally and seeks to bless us. Oh that my life would be a reflection of gratitude for all God has done for me.

I am sharing the video of the song below. I hope it blesses you as it has me. Email Subscribers, please click here to watch the video!

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A Rich History

church 2

Today we honored a man who has provided such a rich history for our extended family. A husband, father, grandpa, uncle, brother and friend…a man who touched many lives. And yet this man, deserving of honor and praise, wanted those attending his funeral to know that it wasn’t about him, but about Him.

His greatest wish in leaving instructions about his service was that the message be about the God that offered immeasurable grace to him. The God that poured out His blessings on my extended family. My grandpa wanted everyone to know his Savior. THAT was what is most important about today.

The message shared was filled with hope. Hope in the eternal life offered by trusting in Jesus. My grandpa was able to see God’s hand throughout his life and while it wasn’t always easy…he trusted God.

What an amazing legacy he left us.

The committal ceremony was at the cemetery across from the church my grandparents were married in. We had an opportunity to go into that church after the ceremony and see where they had exchanged nuptials a little over 67 years ago.

My great uncle Al, who grew up in the church, told us a few stories about the history of the building. Re-built in the early 30’s after a fire destroyed it, the church that stands today looks just like the church before the fire. They rebuilt it exactly the same!

The walls were lined with huge stained glass windows. Windows that apparently cost $66 back in 1932. Cheap in todays standards, but in the Depression it was a lot of money.

church 1

The original organ was destroyed in the fire and a new one was placed in the balcony. It was HUGE and apparently made beautiful music.

church 3

Al told the story of when the church was on fire all the farmers from around the area were called and they worked to save as much as they could before the fire destroyed it all. The pews were screwed to the floor and somehow in the fight to save them, these men ripped the pews out of the ground without unscrewing them! They also worked to save the alter before the rest was lost.

church 4

The wall behind the alter was destroyed but then rebuilt. The stunning beauty of all of that woodwork was amazing.

Apparently earlier that day a couple had exchanged marriage vows, just like my grandparents did 67 years ago.

I felt very aware of the juxtaposition of one new life full of hope and promise just beginning and another life lived so well, ending. 

67 years ago I would guess that my grandparents exchanged vows filled with excitement and hope. Promising to love one another until death would part them, they stepped out in faith and trusted God with their new life together.

church 5

They would face heartache yes, but also experienced years filled with the blessing of family and God was with them through it all. My grandpa loved his community and worked to serve others. He volunteered on different boards and committees. He gave generously in so many ways. He sought to share the blessings God had given him. He had a true servants heart.

Some of those very things that are a part of my natural makeup come from him. What a rich history he left me.

I am so fortunate to have been raised in a Christian home. The legacy of faith passed along from generation to generation will make an impact that even I can’t fully appreciate right now. Just like the beauty in the walls of an old church, we each have a story to tell.

I think that is one reason I love to write and tell stories, the good and the bad. When I share all that God has done in my life, I am establishing that rich history. There have been fires at times, situations that felt overwhelming. But as I look back at all the ways God has been with us, I can see how He made beauty out of ashes.

Yes today we remembered my grandpa and celebrated his life, but even more so we praised the God that offered grace to each one of us by sending His Son. My grandpa wanted everyone to know that peace. To experience the full life that can be found in a life lived with God. I am honored to have had him as my grandpa and grateful that his faith will live on in my life and my family.

A rich history indeed.

Steady Heart

Steady Heart

This past Sunday my friends Erin and Joy shared the song “Steady Heart” during our worship service.

I love me a good worship song, especially one that I can learn to sing the harmony along to. So l listened to that song on repeat when I heard they were singing it….I had no idea how much that song would minister to me this week.

When Erin introduced the song she talked about how it isn’t a song about OUR steady heart, but instead the steady heart of God. Because we don’t have steady hearts do we?

Life tosses us like waves in the ocean. At times the waters are calm, the sun is shining and we have just the right amount of sunscreen on that we tan but don’t burn. And then other times the sky turns dark and we can’t see what way is up. The waves build and the water threatens to drown us.

I can’t see what’s in front of me
Still I will trust You
Still I will trust You

Oh, I can’t see what’s in front of me
Still I will trust You
Still I will trust You

In these moments when we can’t even see what is in front of us…will we choose to trust God?

I can tell you in the past, heck just 2 days ago even…I struggled with this! I get overwhelmed and I just can’t trust in anything. I feel the current pulling me down and I am certain that I am done.

Steady heart that keeps on going
Steady love that keeps on holding
Lead me on

Steady grace that keeps forgiving
Steady faith that keeps believing
Lead me on

I forget in those times that I don’t have to swim, I just have to reach for the One who will do the swimming for me. He is my steady heart…my steady hand. He is holding me through it all.

Though the sky is dark and the wind is dark.
You’ll never leave me
You’ll never leave me

Though the night is long there is a coming dawn
The light is breaking
The light is breaking

Even having the hope we do in Christ…in moments of grief, sometimes all we can see is the dark. We know death isn’t the end, but yet we have to learn how to move forward. That can be overwhelming and I am no expert in walking through grief gracefully!

It has been almost 5 years since my best friend Karlena died. I still miss her…we don’t get over loss of a loved one like that. My grandma spent 67 years of her life with my grandpa by her side. Life for her won’t ever be the same and I think that I grieve that the most for her right now.

You are faithful
You will lead me
You are faithful

You will keep me
You are faithful
You will lead me on

But God IS faithful.

He didn’t promise that this life would be easy but He did promise that He would be with us. He would lead us and comfort us, walk with us in our grief and lead us on in the days to come.

I hold fast to that promise today.

I wanted to share this song with you and pray it ministers to your heart like it did mine. It isn’t my steady heart, but His that leads me.

 

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Original Photo Credit: EltonHarding modified for use here.

A Man Deserving of Honor

grandpa and grandma

I knew when I heard my dad’s message that something was wrong, I could hear it in his voice. I didn’t expect to hear the news I did though. Grandpa had collapsed, he is in the ER and it doesn’t look good.

Just a few hours earlier grandpa had commented on a photo I had posted on Facebook. Can I just tell you how much I loved that my 88 year old grandpa was on Facebook?! It just didn’t seem possible that this was happening.

I went home and told the kids that we needed to pray. My Elijah was so upset. He asked if he could write a letter to his great grandpa and then he drew him a picture of the two of them together. He was worried about great grandma because she would be alone.

At 7:25pm on Monday September 21st, my grandpa Paul left this world for the arms of Jesus. His legacy remains on in his family, but we are heartbroken and shocked and hurting right now.

It still seems impossible really as I write this. Knowing that inevitably this day would come for all of us, doesn’t make it any easier. How do you possibly honor a man than has made such an impact in our lives?

I am not sure that I can do it justice, but I want to try.

Trips to Chicago City were a highlight of my childhood. While the drive was LONG, the reward at the end was going up the long driveway to the big blue house that grandpa and grandma lived in.

If it were early enough we would run down the hill to go fishing off the dock. Grandpa would go with us out into the wooded area by the boat house and help us dig for earth worms. And when we would haul the stuffed pail back up the hill, grandpa would get out his filet knife and cutting board and set up shop over the washing machine and set to work.

He was meticulous about cleaning the fish and would describe what he was doing. I remember the skill with which he took care of the fish, I have even tried to replicate it…but no one could clean fish like grandpa.

Often my siblings and I would stay for a week or more without our parents. During the work week grandpa would get up early and was all dressed up in his dress shirt and tie and walk down the driveway to meet his carpool ride. Can I just talk a minute about the ties…oh the ties he had. He had more ties than I have shoes! 🙂 In his room and even in the closet in the basement. I loved looking at all of those ties when we would visit.

In the evenings we would run down to wait for him to be dropped back off and escort him home. Grandpa always had a story to tell us about his day and we felt special to just be a part of it.

Christmas brought the tradition of opening gifts and the reading of the Christmas story. Grandpa would let us open 1 present each, in order of our age. As a young child that was torture…waiting our turn especially when grandpa’s turn came because it meant he would get out his pocket knife and carefully open the present, saving the paper for a future use. It took him a lifetime to open one gift! 🙂

And then once presents were done he would get out his bible and read us the Christmas story from Luke. Grandpa had a strong faith and while I don’t think I recognized it or appreciated it as a child…I am so grateful for that today. What I wouldn’t give right now to have a recording of him reading the Christmas story.

Grandpa was a writer and I like to think that my love of writing comes in part from him. About 3 1/2 years ago grandpa and I started communicating more and more. Through emails we kept in touch in ways that we hadn’t in the past.

I know I didn’t save all of them, but I went through them and found that I had saved over 150 different conversations. Sometimes he had encouragement to offer, other times an inspiring story and at times well thought out, detailed advice to consider following. 😉

I came across a post he had sent some of our family back in 2013. It was a story about his own father. He shared the challenges his father faced but also the unique ways that those challenges shaped his life. The blessings that came from them.

He ended the email with this…”I see the hand of God in all of this. We can never fully understand His plans for us or for our lives. Instead we must trust that He will always be with us, even during those times that give us cause to question.”

This faith, this hope, was something that was such an encouragement to Dominic and I when we started Dominic’s business. Grandpa and grandma offered their prayers and support in so many ways during that time. Grandpa believed 100% that Dominic would be successful if he just got things going.

He came to us with an offer of a loan. We typed up a promissory note and made it official. He sent emails asking about the business and had ideas for marketing and a website. He loved hearing about how things were going and was one of our biggest cheerleaders.

If I were discouraged, he would encourage me to trust God and have hope. He believed God had a plan for us and he trusted in it. He told me that he prayed for me daily. I hope that my faith life always reflects such faith and hope and a commitment to prayer for those I love.

I am grateful that grandpa and grandma were able to celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary last week. That they got to visit their church and reminisce over all God had done in their family over the years. There were pictures taken and good food enjoyed and memories made.

I don’t know why grandpa’s life had to end this way, this unexpectedly. I am heartbroken for grandma and my mom and aunts and uncle. I want to fix it, make it better and I can’t.

I want to wrap this up with some wonderful words of wisdom that will make everyone feel better…I just don’t know that I can do that. But I believe, just like grandpa did, that God is with us.

Grandpa loved his bride and his family and would want us to celebrate the fact that he is now with Jesus. His strong faith in God promised that for those who placed their trust in God as he did, death was not the end.

So I celebrate my grandpa today. I thank God for the blessing he was to so many and the light and laughter he brought into my life. And in his own words I end with this…

I see the hand of God in all of this. We can never fully understand His plans for us and for our lives. Instead we must trust that He will always be with us, even during times that give us cause to question.

My prayer for everyone in our family would be that we would feel God’s covering of peace during this time, that we would love and encourage one another and that we would celebrate the life of a man worthy of honor.

Grandpa you loved well and are loved. You will be remembered through laughter and tears and while your physical presence will be missed your impact and legacy will always remain.

Seeking God – An Invitation

31 Days of Seeking Him

Last year I participated in the 31 days writing series in October and wrote on Finding God. I was excited that I finished the month with writing every day but honestly I didn’t think that I would do it again.

You see I have had very few words to share here lately.

I write when I am inspired..when I feel God has given me something to share. If I try and force it, well it just isn’t good. I know some authors are able to perfect their craft by just writing every day even if they aren’t inspired…I just can’t do that.

Then I took a few days to get away with a dear friend and inspiration hit. It was like my mind knew I was leaving and on the first plane ride I had a theme and using the writing prompts from the wonderful writers of the Five Minute Friday (FMF) group…I set to work.

In that weekend away I wrote 26 of the 31 posts! Crazy right?! Go God is all I can say. So next month I am excited to be sharing some stories about how I am seeking and seeing God. He has been a part of my life, even when I didn’t “feel” it. Looking back I can see how His hand has been in every moment.

But how quickly I forget. Call it pride or stubbornness, the whispers of the enemy telling me I am not worthy of God’s love. It has happened time and time again that I forget all God has done with me and through me. But He is faithful even when I doubt. In seeking Him each day I have been reminded of that truth.

It is my prayer that by sharing these stories you too will be encouraged to seek God. Look for Him, chase after Him, know Him in a new and real way. They aren’t terribly long posts, little stories  written around the daily FMF word prompt and enveloping the theme of how I am seeking God.

I hope you stick with me next month and I would love to hear how you too are seeking and seeing God’s hand in your life!

Stopping to See

Sunrise

“Mom come and see, come and see!” Elijah yelled as he threw open the front curtains to show me the display that was right outside.

“What a beautiful sunset”….well technically it was a sunrise, but he understood what was happening and knew it was something to be enjoyed and shared.

He and his older brother had gone outside to do a few chores but when Elijah saw the sky he stopped what he was doing to run and get me. Gabriel was a bit upset with him but I told him that I always want them to stop and see the beauty around them.

So often we are in a rush. To-do lists and chores, things that HAVE to get done before xyz. Mornings can be particularly hectic around our home trying to get everyone ready and out the door. And Dominic has been gone for work since Wednesday so we all have to stay on task or we would be late late!

But this was one of those moments that needed to be enjoyed.

Elijah wanted me to take a couple of pictures for him and while our view is mostly blocked by trees and other houses, I was able to capture a glimpse of this magnificent display that God had painted across the sky for us.

I want my kids to learn to seek out God’s beauty.

I want them to be focused and taking care of their responsibilities, but I also want them to recognize when a time to pause and see the world around them is good and necessary.

This morning was one where we all needed to stop and see. To thank God that He created this earth, that He gave us one more day to enjoy. There is beauty among the hectic routine of our mornings and we need to stop and take it all in.

A “watch for God” moment if I have ever seen one.

In VBS we teach the kids to be watching for God. They get these bracelets to remind them that God is with them and all around them. We ask them to share their God sightings. We hope that they start to see that God is everywhere. In the people we meet, the earth we get to enjoy and yes the sunrise.

I hope you were able to take a moment to pause this morning and just seek out God’s hand in your surroundings…and if you didn’t, I encourage to watch for God and come back here and share your God sighting with me won’t you?!

Have a blessed Friday friends!

A Woman of Fervent Prayer

Fervent

I have not seen the War Room movie yet, but I am desperate to after reading this amazing book Fervent -by Pricilla Shirer. I was sent this book and several others that are all designed to partner with the movie. All of them are wonderful resources, but this book was POWERFUL. I read almost the entire book on my plane trips to Florida!

Just the back cover was enough to peak my interest….

“You have an enemy. And he’s dead set on destroying all you hold dear. He does it strategically. He does it specifically. He’s doing it right this minute, in fact – aimed at personally drawn targets on your heart, your home, your mind, your life. And this book, the battle plan, is your chance to fight back. With a weapon that really works, With prayer.”

Oh friends. This book is THE BOOK you need to be reading right now.

I have long felt the attacks of an enemy that seeks to ruin and destroy all that we hold dear. Any time my husband or I step out to do something FOR God, participate in a church activity, share our story, get involved in a ministry…EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. we are attacked.

Sometimes we don’t see it as an attack either, we just become short with one another, our tempers flare, we get over busy and overwhelmed, we stop praying and start trying to handle it all ourselves and then BAM we are waist deep in the thick of a struggle or sin.

THIS is where the enemy wants to keep us!

STUCK. ANGRY. OVERWHELMED. DISTANT. LONELY…

My friends the list goes on and on. When we find ourselves surrounded with our problems, when we allow unforgiveness to flood our hearts, when we choose sin because trying to do the right thing is too much…the enemy is having a party.

Pricilla says “The real enemy isn’t your husband. Or your teenager. Or your brother’s wife. Or your mother-in-law. Or the weather. Or the traffic. Or your sweet tooth. Or whatever powder keg of frustration really gets under your skin and sets you off before you can think straight. The real enemy – the capital E “Enemy” – well you know who it is. And you cannot keep letting him go unchecked while you throw money and anger and logic and physchology at your problems in a vain attempt at overcoming or outsmarting them…..”(p 43)

It doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to sit around helpless. We CAN do something. We can fight, we can stand firm in who Christ has created us to be and we can live in victory but we have to enter the battle prepared. We MUST prepare first with prayer!

“Prayer is a reminder to yourself, as well as declaration to the enemy, that you know he’s there. That you are on to him. When you bring your concerns and fears and irritations to the Lord in prayer, you’re aligning your weak-ling spirit with the full force of God’s Holy Spirit. Instead of continuing to to fail by taking the battle into your own hands – and taking the battle to the wrong people – you’re joining instead with all the power of heaven….” (p44)

This book caused me to ask myself if I am bringing all of my fear, frustrations and worries to God. What am I trying to handle on my own? What am I “allowing” God to be a part of? So much more today I realize that He wants to be a part of ALL of it. God loves me and wants to fight FOR me, WITH me….so why don’t I let Him?

One of the ways this book encourages a strategic battle plan is to pray using the PRAY model.

P – Praise – Thank Him for completely forgiving you, cleansing you, changing you.

R – Repentance – See the foolishness of anything that perpetuates old sin patterns , and by His Holy Spirit, walk away.

A – Asking – Ask for freedom, for release, for the ability to deflect lies and embrace truth.

Y – Yes – Because you,, by His resurrection power, can now walk in a new way of life.

We need to fight these battles with prayer.

In the movie the main character gets a prayer room. She starts writing down her prayers and then tapes them up on the walls. It is a tangible way to see and remember all of the things you are praying for and also documenting when answers come.

At this point I don’t have a specific space that is a prayer room for me, but I do have a prayer journal. Each morning I get up and write out my daily prayer requests in my journal. One of the resources Icon Media sent to me was a prayer journal. They also have a beautiful book for kids that talks about a boy’s journey to prayer and it includes this poster with “I prayed” stickers so the kids can write out their prayers and see tangible results as well.

I am finding more and more for myself that prayer needs to be something so constant, it becomes like breathing. I need prayer to sustain me, to keep me going, to ground me, encourage and bring hope.

Prayer does that for me. Even when the answer isn’t as I had hoped…I can start to see God’s plan in my life, recognize His provision and protection. Prayer gives me peace when things are spinning out of control.

I really can’t recommend this book enough. I have more pages underlines, starred, dog eared and circled than I have in any book I have read recently. Filled with Bible verses, encouragement, real life examples and hope…Fervent is a book you need to order today!

Check out all the resources that accompany the War Room! I received these books at no cost from Icon Media in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Time Away

Beach Trip

As I sit to type out this post, this is my view. I set my alarm (I know who does that on vacation?!?!) but I wanted to see if I could catch the sunrise. We have a beautiful view of the ocean, but the actual sunset was just a bit behind the building…still it was amazing and if I had to live here and enjoy this every day…I think I might!! 😉

This is the first time I have ever planned a true “girls weekend away” like this. I used to go see Karlena in Denver when she was alive and I did get that surprise trip to Houston for my birthday…but this was something we planned about 6 months ago and finally the weekend had come.

It is always hard to leave my family. I honestly struggle with guilt at being away, spending money and time just on me, but can I just say that my soul needed this so much! I haven’t written more than a few times this month and last…I write when the words are there and for the most part they haven’t been there.

But as I boarded the plane in Minneapolis, the words started to come. It was as though my spirit knew I could relax and I worked furiously during that 2 hr flight. I participated in the 31 Day challenge in October last year to write every day in that month. Last year I used the Five Minute Friday word prompts, but never wrote but a day in advance.

This year, because of this trip, I have written almost ALL of the 31 posts, less the ones we won’t know the prompts for until Thursday night! I couldn’t believe it…there is something to be said about a writer getting away for some inspiration!

But it wasn’t all about writing either!

On Saturday Gindi and I went down to the beach in the morning. (We are staying in Fort Walton Beach, FL) It was overcast but warm. We sat by the waters edge and marveled at the waves crashing and the few dolphin sightings that we had, but had trouble capturing on our phones!

Beach Trip

It was so wonderful to just to have our toes in the soft, white sand, see the birds that came to dive bomb us on our porch and enjoy the constant sound of the waves.

We decided to drive down to Sandestin and do a little sightseeing. There was this adorable little beach community with food trucks and shopping and gelato!! We walked around and took pictures, fell in love with over priced jewelry and laughed.

Oh this trip was so needed if just for the laughter! Sometimes I get so stressed and overwhelmed that I forget how soul-filling laughter can be!

Beach Trip Collage 2

Then we decided to head back to Destin where we had seen a large outlet mall to do a little shopping! On the way we passed the Snappy Turtle, just the name alone warranted a stop and a cheesy photo op. Inside they had all the cheap, beach souvenirs and while I didn’t buy them, I found these jars with shells that had both Dominic and my name on them! I NEVER have seen anything with either of our names on them! It was so exciting we had to take a picture! 🙂

Beach Trip

We found a nice restaurant where we could have a dinner to celebrate Gindi’s birthday a few days late. I was too scared to try a sushi roll, but did order local grouper instead of the chicken I thought that I might have. I have eaten fish twice here and tried fried green tomatoes (which I LOVED) and crab (which I haven’t had since I was 10 and hated it!) Oh it has all been so so good!

We caught the tail end of the sunset before we set on back to our condo. I could watch a sunset like that every night. If someone forced me I wouldn’t complain at all! 😉

Beach Trip

Sunday we decided to enjoy the bountiful sunshine that the day promised and spent some more time on the beach. We walked in the water, collected small shells to take back to our kids, saw what I was certain was baby sharks…it was so peaceful and fun!

Beach Trip

Then it was back to Destin for a glass bottom boat dolphin ride. It was $29 for a 2 hour tour! It was a wonderful experience to actually be out on the water and they did a great job bringing us to where the dolphins were. It was so amazing to see them in the wild, so close!

Beach Trip

Unfortunately the trip can’t last forever…although I miss my family like crazy! This was a life breathing vacation and I hope I can convince Dominic to do something like this some day with me!! 😉

Where is your favorite place to get away and refresh? I’d love to hear because I am always thinking about where we might go next!!

Clearing Away the Cobwebs

CobwebsIt all started with a chair…

We bought a “fake” leather chair for Isaac to take to college on clearance at Menards. It sat in our living room for several months until a few weeks ago when we moved him to college. It was our only recliner and there was this empty space where it once was. We talked about replacing it and when we went and looked we started talking about getting an entire new set.

My mom had said we should wait until our kids were more grown up…less chance of it getting stained/ruined. And it made sense, it really did. We asked her honest opinion and appreciated her insight.

We have had the same couch for 10+ years and it was showing a lot of wear. The cushions were sagging and stained. It wasn’t nice to look at and it wasn’t very comfortable. We had a love seat that we bought off Craigslist for $80 when we moved here and the dog ate a portion of the arm off it so I had to patch it to keep it from coming apart.

But as we looked I thought, you know why not enjoy it with the kids. Sure it will get stained, but we have loved the life out of our old couch and what if we had waited to get that? It was well used and appreciated…and if we got new furniture it would be the same.

So we bought a couch and some chairs. I guess maybe I justified it all in my mind and I honestly felt good about it. I almost wrote a post about how we should go ahead and enjoy life, even if it gets messy.

Then we went to church on Sunday and our pastor preached about this need we often have to “keep up the our neighbors.” Our need to have everything now. The new car, a phone upgrade every time it is available….he challenged us to ask ourselves what we might do instead with the money we would use for that new phone, or a newer car. Do something radical like buy meals for a needy family each week for a month.

I will be honest I left feeling a little guilty and ashamed.

And while I don’t regret our choice to get the new furniture, I do recognize that this need to have what others have is a problem for me.

When we moved to this house I loved it, it was our dream home. We moved from a very small starter home to this one that had more space than we could have dreamed of. I imagined it to be the place that our grown children and their families would return to…I joked that I would die here, never moving again I declared!

The yellow walls were inviting and a change from the all tan walls in our old home. The grey exterior seemed warmer than the stark white we had left behind.

But at some point the yellow walls in.every.room. became too much and three years ago I started repainting every room I could. First the entryway and hallway, the dining room and kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms followed. The paint changed the space for me and I was once again content.

Then the outside color of our home started to feel too “institutional.” It was bland and blah and I wanted a change. We had a girl stop by from some painting company offering a free quote. We said yes and I started dreaming of the colors that were possible for our home.

The bid was almost $7000, and even if we had the extra cash, it was an outrageous price to have someone repaint your home…”we could do it ourselves” we thought. But the reality of finding the time/energy to get it done quickly put that idea to rest as well.

Our neighbors got a similar bid and decided to do the work themselves and last summer repainted their home. It looked amazing and I was jealous. I had high hopes that this year before graduation I might tackle the job myself.

Let’s all take a moment to really just laugh at that one ok? Ok you can stop now, I DO realize how insane that idea was.

And recently our other neighbors started getting new siding. It too looks beautiful and the ugly monster “envy” started rearing its head once again.

I called my close friend, the one you can tell your ugliest parts to and they still love you…I told her that I was SOOO jealous of my neighbors home. I wanted my house to look that nice. I wanted a new warm paint color and crisp white trim.

How quickly I go from dream house to dump.

It is a reflection of my heart really. This wanting, never being satisfied, content with all we do have. Always wishing we could have more. I can say I am grateful (and I am) but if I was really grateful, would I feel this discontented??

This morning I took a broom and started to clean up our front porch. It was littered with toys, and food wrappers, leaves and cobwebs. Oh the cobwebs. I started brushing and as I did my perspective of my porch changed.

As the cobwebs fell it took on a new life for me. Sure the paint is still chipping and the grey is still “institutional”, but it is clean and fresh again and I felt happy about it.

Sometimes we need to spend some time clearing away the cobwebs.

We need to do the hard heart work that God requires of us. We need to look at our motives and question why it is that we are making the choices we do. My pastor didn’t say we can’t have nice things, but he did say we should stop and think. Make wise choices and also be generous with others. Give back when we can and stop coveting what we don’t have.

Right now my house doesn’t look like I might dream it should. And when the yard is covered in white snow, the grey won’t feel bold enough for me. But for today I am seeing things with a fresh perspective, a new pair of glasses you might say.

No nothing has changed and it likely won’t for a long time…but I am going to be praying about being content…truly content.

I am going to stop and thank God for what I do have every time I start to covet something I don’t. It is a start. Yes the cobwebs may return…it seems they always do. But I have hope that I can once again get out my broom and work at changing my perspective. One sweep at a time.

Photo Credit: Stephen@home

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