Posted in character study, faith stages, music, Promises, responsibility, Weary encouragement hope, Work

“This Old House”

 

old house

 

If you are a DIY TV addict like me you will more than likely remember, first a magazine, called “This Old House” which in more recent years is better know by the TV show of the same name.

Having a large family and a pretty small income our family lived most of our years in two story fixer uppers. I attribute the start of my DIY addiction to those years. However it didn’t start during those years. All that time I had been hoping to have a new home one day that didn’t need any work done. After all the kids left home I finally got my wish  and we were able to build a new home with everything on one floor, functionality, comfort and all new, just the way I wanted it!

Yet something was missing ?

After several years the new house began to show some wear and the realization of how much work it was going to be to keep it looking new hit me. I thought back to the old fixer uppers. Once they were new, functional for their day and comfortable for large families. But over years of wear and tear they needed to be taken care of and updated in order to keep them that way for the generations who would come to make a home there later. Some of the work we tried to do by ourselves but when we were in over our heads we had to call in the experts.

The stress of many seasons of wind and weather were evident on the outside of each house but the foundations were still strong.  The old houses had a lot of character but also needed a lot of care and updating to return them to at least some of their former beauty. But a closer look revealed that it was in the aging of the house and the wear and tear it carried that it’s  character was built. And I realized it was the character of the house I was missing most in that new house.

Although, in the process, the houses sometimes changed in their form and function  they remained faithful in their purpose, to provide a safe and comfortable home for our family.  We put a lot of time and energy in those old houses in order to keep them functioning to meet our growing needs and though they continued to creek and groan at times they remained true to their purpose.

As we moved from one house to the next, only to start the work of fixing and updating again, the house we left behind would be taken up by another who would continue to care for and update to meet their own needs. But as long as the house was cared for it remained stable,with it’s foundation strong and ready to continue in its purpose for yet another season, another generation.        Related image

I turned 70 this year and I was awakened to the similarities between myself and those old houses. As I have moved from one season in my life to the next the wind and storms of this life have left this old house weary and worn at times, but along the way they were, unknown to me, building  character in me. As I moved from one season to the next another generation would come and build on, repair and update the foundations I had left behind.

This old house was once new as well, created by God in my mother’s womb with a purpose. The care and maintenance of this house was taken up by my parents from infancy through adolescence. Their care began to mold me and shape me, sometimes in positive ways and sometimes not so much. But, as a young adult the care of this house and the work of maintaining it fell to me.  At first it was exciting. I had it all youth, energy and freedom to make my own choices, There were those times of struggles and uncertainty but after 19 years of marriage, having 5 children and having a good job, I had arrived, I had all I wanted.

But something was still missing!

The house and all that was in it began to deteriorate and life and maintenance as usual was no longer able to keep it together. I needed help. I needed the expert builder and restorer of broken things to come in and do a complete “gut job” and remodel  on this house.

Since that day when I surrendered this house and all of it’s rooms to Jesus Christ, He has been doing an amazing repair, and update on me. He is making me new inside and outside. He has assured me that what will change on the outside is actions and reactions that come from what He is changing on the inside in my heart and mind. He is using all the bumps and bruises and all the wear and tear over the years to build His character in me. Though my body is wasting away my spirit is renewed day by day!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  (2 Corinthians 4:16)

My foundation has remained strong because it is built on Jesus Christ. Over the years my form and functions have changed (especially my form) as daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and now great grandmother. But my purpose has not. From the day I was born it is to love the Lord God with all my heart, soul, body and strength and love my neighbor as myself. I have not always been faithful to that purpose but the purpose was always the same and God has remained faithful to me.

I still like to watch “This Old House” on occasion but now I live in a nice mobile home that needs little maintenance. Now I am looking forward to that new body and a mansion in heaven, neither of which will ever see decay from the cares of this life.

What an amazing journey living in this house is and I wouldn’t trade one day of it because of where it has brought me and where it is yet to take me. I have been changed in times of blessing and even more in those times of struggle. And the character that is being produced in me is the very character of Jesus.

By faith, like Abraham,  I dwell in this land, an heir with past, present and future believers who have the same promises from God, the same promises that are available to all who will trust Christ. I am now waiting for my purpose to be fulfilled and to go to my home in that city “which has foundations whose builder and maker are God! ”   (see Hebrews 11:8-10) But until it is His time for me I will continue the work in and through this old house for God’s glory and praise!

Posted in accountability, Children, communication, enjoyment, faith stages, Family, humility, quiet, self-examination, Work

Lessons from the Front Desk and Beyond

926338625-canstock5690339 My husband and I spent the past year doing volunteer work at Hephzibah Children’s Home in Macon, Ga. For us this was an opportunity of a lifetime! Most of our lives we have been involved in raising children, six of our own and three foster sons as well as other foster children and at one time we had even talked of opening a children’s home of our own one day. But it just wasn’t in God’s plan for us.

We had been serving as volunteers at the Children’s Home for several years, first with church groups and later going there for two weeks each year with another couple, so when the option came to serve long term we gave it serious thought and began to pray and seek God’s direction. It took almost three years before the way would be clear for us to make a one year commitment. We set the date for April of 2016 to April 2017.

We are both thankful for the opportunity and glad that we took this step in faith to serve God for that year at Hephzibah! Our only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner when we were younger and in better shape.

This past year has been an experience in faith, faith for strength to serve, faith for good health while we served, and faith for God to watch over our family that we left 950 miles behind for a year. And God did not disappoint!

There were many great experiences during our year of service. Experiences in learning new skills, in meeting new friends, and seeing new places. But the greatest experiences, for me, were the lessons learned at the front desk of the administration building where I spent many days filling in the gaps for the regular receptionist and as an interim receptionist between the permanent receptionists.

Now I will have to admit that it was no secret that this was not my favorite assignment while I was there. My favorite assignment was working in their donation center where I did sorting, organizing and distributing necessary items to the children and staff. This work gave me instant gratification and “felt” important and appreciated. And I worked alone a lot of the time so I could work at my own pace.

But the most valuable lessons are always learned in community with other people! I often felt that my contribution as a receptionist was small because I “just” answered the phone and greeted people directing them to where they needed to go or who they needed to talk to. Not exactly earth shaking work but as time went on and I had the opportunity to interact with many of the kids, staff, other volunteers and even the vendors and service people and I found fellowship, blessings and enjoyment in the work.

It is sad but true that it wasn’t until the last couple of months when we were completing our year and preparing to return home that I really began to realize the learning experiences God had blessed me with at that front desk as I interacted with the Hephzibah community. Not only did I learn the skills I needed to do the work but also some lessons that are still ongoing today in changing my life!

I learned what it is to accept people where they are and that everyone has a story if we are willing to listen;  that everyone needs encouragement (even those who may seem to have it all together); lessons in being accepted just the way I am and accepting encouragement as well.

In the area of communications; lessons about when to speak and when to be still, and especially about when to humble myself and ask forgiveness when I mess up the proper sequence.

My husband and I learned some things together as well.

God blessed us with time to get away from the hustle and bustle of a blessed but busy life. And after 52 years of marriage, six married children, three foster sons, fifteen grandchildren, five great grandchildren, friends, church, and community, we had built up a lot of hustle and bustle back home.

We had more time to pray and listen for God, to stop and smell the flowers and to enjoy new experiences, make new friends and create new memories. We were often able to minister one-on-one to staff, kids and other volunteers whenever and wherever God gave us the opportunities, and we learned to accept the ministry of others to us.

Other lessons learned: 

We can live with less

Our children and grand-children can survive without us (they knew that but I didn’t)

We can still work five days a week but not as fast as we once could

We can still be useful even though we are retired

And solitude is not necessarily a bad thing

But for me the best of all was that our year at Hephzibah gave us the opportunity to serve God and do ministry together in a place we love. A place where we were blessed and hopefully blessed others. A place where we worked alongside some amazing people who often face struggles and many of the challenges that every ministry experiences, yet they remain faithful and passionate in serving at risk teens and children who have been neglected and abused, and they share with them that they are loved, that they are the King’s Kids!

For most of us “baby boomers” retirement offers many great opportunities for travel, winter homes in the south, and cruises and all that is great. We have been blessed with some of these opportunities as well.

But for my husband and I, we will always be most thankful for this opportunity.

It’s been a great year!

Posted in enjoyment, Family, fun, play, Uncategorized, value, Work

Phony Ponies and Brass Rings

Dennis the Menace

Have you, like Dennis, ever found yourself on one of those rides that are fun but don’t really get you anywhere. I can think of several: the Merry-Go-Round, the Ferris Wheel, the Tilt-A-Whirl or the pony rides at the fair where the ponies are harnessed together and just travel in a circle. Or, in these days, it may be watching reality shows, (that are anything but reality) or gaming on the TV,  the computer or a cell phone. All of these can be exciting, tickle our tummies, give us a thrill and a rush of adrenaline. And we may even get the elusive brass ring on one of those trips around on the carousel or reach level 377 on one of the games. I think my husband has about 3 million dollars in play money in his Poker Mafia account right now. If only  that were a reality!

Then the ride comes to a stop, and the show or game is over. The excitement begins to fade and we may be left feeling a little dizzy or maybe a little nauseated from the spinning. It was so much fun but soon the thrill is gone and we are off looking for the next fun ride, game or reality show. When it’s all said and done we have had a lot of fun but haven’t actually gotten anywhere.

Now don’t get me wrong, I always loved the thrill of a fun ride as much as the next person and I like a little TV entertainment and a good “Words With Friends” or “Trivia Crack” game. A trip to an amusement park is a lot of fun and I have had many of those trips to parks and fairs that have provided  many great family memories. But when we leave we are exhausted and can’t wait to get home and get some rest. Even fun can be exhausting!

The problem begins when we don’t know when to get off the phony pony or realize the brass ring is only a souvenir and not the answer to our future. At some point the park closes and the lights go out and we have to go home. The show is over, we reach the max level and/or the max number of points in the game. But in our own real world, called the game of life, nothing changes. We make no advances where life really matters, we have nothing to show that matters in the game of life which will include eternity.

The problem is when we keep going in circles and never leave the “Amusement Park”. When we  become obsessed with always looking for the next exciting ride that will offer us a big thrill or a bigger prize; the next level to be conquer,  more points  to earn. We find we are still alternating between the  merry-go-rounds and the roller coasters in life but without the brass rings, the prizes or the points.

And so what’s a person to do?

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy“.  (Maria Edgeworth)

The answer? Balance and all things in moderation!

The Bible makes it clear that God wants us to enjoy life and work hard to have a productive life here and that will extend into eternity.

 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 2:15)
Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:3)

Are you a little our of balance these days? Maybe it isn’t to much play but maybe it’s to much work?

Are you spending more time with the phony ponies and reaching for the brass rings than striving for the prizes that will last?

The little Dennis cartoon above has given me food for thought and called me to do some evaluating in this area for sure!

How about you?