Filthy Rags

Although I actually looked at it as a way to blame someone for marking up my life, the Lord reminded me of my own righteousness (ouch!). 

Advertisements

Sometimes work seems to dwindle down and sometimes I have more than I could ask for. Near the end of August I had so many houses to clean on my schedule, some days I was cleaning two per day. During this time I was exhausted. I fell behind on doing things at home I normally do. One thing in particular was laundry.

The first morning I didn’t have to work, I began folding a pile of laundry thrown on a chair in the living room. As I grabbed a pair of jeans part of a broken ink pen fell to the floor. I didn’t think a whole lot about it except that I could tell I didn’t do this load of laundry. I always check and clean out pockets.

Since I didn’t have to work, catching up on laundry was a must. I grabbed a load of towels and washcloths and threw them in the washer with some detergent and bleach. When they were finished, they went into the dryer.

I didn’t notice anything until I was taking them out and putting them in a clothes basket. There were black marks all over every single piece of laundry. I looked in the washing machine and then in the dryer trying to find what had caused this. I saw marks on the inside of the dryer so I scrubbed them off with a dryer sheet. (Good little tip there.)

20180831_130550

I expected the black marks to smell like grease but they didn’t. As I stood there trying to figure this out, I remembered the broken piece of ink pen. The mystery was solved.

Kind of ironic really, the things we use to clean our outer bodies are marked up themselves. If I was fancy or showy I’d throw them in the rag bin but they’ve still got a lot of use in them.

Although I actually looked at it (to be honest up until about 5 minutes ago) as a way to blame someone for marking up my life, the Lord reminded me of my own righteousness (ouch!).

Isaiah 64:6 KJV  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

So when I reach for a washcloth or a towel and I see all those marks while getting in or out of the shower, I hope to remember that no matter how hard I try to get clean- Jesus is my righteousness. That’s it.

 

 

Messy Monday

I feel as if I’m being held captive within the walls of my own home, but in all actuality, my captivity stems from the walls of my own heart.

Today, once again, the house is quiet: everyone is back at work and school and I am home alone. The only noise I hear is the sound of raindrops lightly beating on the rooftop.

Mondays always make me feel a little detached from the world, but with the much needed rain falling today, that feeling is magnified a bit more. I feel as if I’m being held captive within the walls of my own home, but in all actuality, my captivity stems from the walls of my own heart.

Today, in the quietness, I have no choice but to recognize this reality. The issues I can pinpoint, even try to justify, yet I know the loneliness I feel is the result of separation from my Father.

Today, as I wander around the house aimlessly, I remember something I’d once written many years ago. I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be song lyrics or a poem, but nothing else came to my mind to go along with it. Those words, much like me today, stand alone:

“I only come to You when it’s raining outside; I only run to You when there’s nowhere else to hide.”

So often I’ve been known to call on others instead of first communing with my Father.

As it so happens, our home phone has been having problems for quite a while now and seems to worsen with any sort of moisture, so with the constant rain, a conversation with anyone today is not a viable option.

One thing I have learned is when it comes to matters of the heart, there is nothing anyone can say or do to change it’s condition except my Father.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 KJV  12) Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13) And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14) And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

On a day like today, He leaves me no choice but to commune with Him, and for that I am grateful. 

Now, please excuse me as I prepare for freedom once again.

Thank you for reading.

 

The Speeding Ticket Part I

In a desperate attempt to escape the inevitable, I said, “This is my first ticket in 9 years.” Unimpressed, he handed me the clipboard and an ink pen and asked me to sign the ticket.

Last school year, the day before the last day of school, I was in a hurry.(Imagine that!) I had to get my daughter to school on time, then had to be somewhere else, somewhat of a distance away, with very little time to spare.

The speed limit was 45. I saw a policeman coming towards me from the opposite direction and I knew I was busted. Somehow I had gotten away with going the speed of however far down my foot pushed on the pedal for quite a few years. Nothing outrageous but nonetheless, breaking the law. I began to think maybe they couldn’t clock me, or in my own little mind, that they just wouldn’t pull me over.

I so often justify my actions regarding my miles per hour by debating why the speed is posted as it is, what think it should be posted and why. I actually even see myself take my fingers off the keys as I’m typing this. It seems I just can’t completely shake the feeling of needing to justify my argument. In reality, it doesn’t really matter. In the words of so many these days: It is what it is. It surely was what it was: I was pulled over.

I rolled my window down as he approached my car. “Ma’am, do you know how fast you were going?” “Uhhh…. 50 something???” I said. After all, once I saw him and slowed down, that was what I was going.  “61!” He replied.

I was irritated, to say the least. I’d already grabbed my license and proof of insurance and handed them to him when he asked for them. I told him I didn’t have my registration with me but he only said “ok”. He took what I had and walked back to his vehicle behind me- you know, the one with the bright blue lights flashing.

My stepson and daughter were with me. My daughter in the back seat saying, “This is great. I’m going to be late.” And my stepson sitting beside me, shaking his head, saying something about accepting the consequences of my actions. I, of course, didn’t want to hear it.

When the cop came back to my car, he had his little clipboard with a bright pink piece of paper on it. In a desperate attempt to escape the inevitable, I said, “This is my first ticket in 9 years.” Unimpressed, he handed me the clipboard and an ink pen and asked me to sign the ticket. The $187.25 ticket!

If my low fuel light would’ve been on, I still think I would’ve made it many more miles on just fumes because I was fuming mad! Me, the kids and my attitude pulled back out onto the highway. I dropped my daughter out at school and went on towards my next destination. I spent half the day blaming this on whoever, or whatever, I could. (Yes, I’m 38.) It’s almost as if I had to go through different stages of emotions before I reached the point of admitting it was nobody’s fault but my own.

Let’s go ahead and face the truth. Rebellion is not a good thing. Me being a Christian makes it even more not a good thing. 

So many times I talk to the kids, and whoever else as it may come up, about our own actions. How on the day of judgment we won’t be able to point fingers at anyone else for what we do. That will be unacceptable.

2 Corinthians 5:10 NKJV says- For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

So, did I deserve the ticket?

(Just kidding! No hesitation there.)

YES! I acknowledge that I deserved the ticket.

There is a statement on this citation in all caps right above the line where I had to sign that says:

I UNDERSTAND THE ABOVE NOTICE, AND THAT MY SIGNATURE IS NOT AN ADMISSION OF GUILT.

20180918_130945.jpg

The thing is, to me it was an admission of guilt. My signature clearly shows my attitude of pride and rebellion against authority, yet I really had no other choice but to admit that I WAS GUILTY.

Thank you for reading!

Stay tuned for Part II of “The Speeding Ticket”.

 

 

Solitaire

I had no choice but to go back and work on myself, by myself, in complete solitude. To be able to continue on, I had no choice but to do so.

20180910_173316

Since my job of cleaning houses requires very little brain power, last summer I decided to download a solitaire game on my phone. I’ve heard people say it is a good activity to keep your mind active. It didn’t take long for me to become addicted to this pastime.

As I played the game, I learned more and more. I paid attention the cards I needed and tossed the rest aside, moving towards the prize: winning the game. I stayed focused on all the cards around me. I soon developed a strategy to help me move swiftly through the game. I watched for the opportunity to make the right move, constantly moving forward. At times I became discouraged, but the more I played, the less I quit. I was determined to finish the game.

On this particular game, I also had the option to play in tournaments. As I began doing so, I saw others and looked on them with pity as they trailed behind. Even though I wanted to win, I felt bad when others didn’t. The cards they were given just weren’t played right. There was the option to end the game before it was finished, but if you quit, you had no chance. If you could hold up and place in the top three, you could move on to the next level. 

At times I would see players begin to gain points rapidly toward the end. Sometimes they would end up winning, but sometimes they still lost. I would watch the one in last place and I knew their struggle. I would see their hesitation to press “END GAME”. I knew that feeling from my own experience. You don’t want to give up when you’ve come so far, yet sometimes that’s exactly what we do.

I started winning many tournaments. I spent way too much time on this habit-forming game. Once I’d won so many times, I started relying solely on my strategy. Eventually there came a time when it wasn’t working for me anymore. Maybe it would even be considered cheating to the experts, yet that loophole had gotten me so far. I began to lose at the game. My option to enter tournaments had closed due to my many losses.

I had no choice but to go back and work on myself, by myself, in complete solitude. To be able to continue on, I had no choice but to do so.

As I have lived the Christian life, I’ve made use of the cards I’ve been dealt. I’ve stayed focused and I’ve lost focus. I’ve seen the enemy (aka the devil) hit me where it hurts. I’ve seen me struggle to “stay in the game”. I’ve seen my strategy fail. And I have found myself completely removed from the tournament. 

As I sit here typing, the house is quiet. Everyone is back to work and school and I have the day off. I’m trying to spend my time wisely, staying busy doing things that need to be done. Only the sound of the keys pounding on my keyboard, the dryer and the occasional vehicle passing by break the complete silence, yet the silence is deafening. I am alone. I have a lot of things on my mind and I can’t fix them. I hear the Holy Spirit whisper, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 [a] NKJV) In my stillness, I am made whole. And the silence? It helps me to better hear God’s still, small voice. I know I need to study His Word, I need to pray and I need to do these things alone, by myself, in complete solitude with my Father. I listen, by reading, what He has to say and even if I don’t understand now, I know that He is God and I am not and that is reassuring to me.

Be encouraged, be still and don’t quit the “game”. (By the way, it IS NOT a game- just an analogy.) Thank you for reading and God bless!

 

Cleaning My Own House

This week I’ve worked a lot more than usual, therefore I’m more tired than usual. The mountain of laundry, sink full of dishes, dining room table serving as a catchall completely overflowing, things strewn about everywhere and even cobwebs here and there are a reminder of the busy week I’ve had. I usually keep Mondays open for me to clean up the week’s mess here at home but this Monday I worked.

On the way to the shower this morning, in preparation for the day’s work outside the home, I decided to message the client and make sure we were on for today. Before I walked into the bathroom I noticed the messy house and just how uncomfortable I was in my own home. I thought about my family and how they may feel about the lack of a home cooked meal as the days of the week have passed. I’ve done less and less with each passing day. Although I am grateful for all the work rolling in, I was a bit overwhelmed.

As I was in the shower, I thought of Jesus praying before His time to go the cross. He said, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39 b)

I’m sorry to say, but this is the way I felt this morning when I was waiting for the reply as to whether I’d be working today or not. After I got out of the shower, the reply was I wasn’t needed today. I have been so exhausted I nearly cried. I took it as a much needed break and praised God for the day off to get my own house in order.

A few weeks ago my friend, Elizabeth, and I were talking about needing to clean our own house (spiritually speaking) before we tried to clean someone else’s. Many times we’ve talked about needing the Lord to cleanse our hearts. The dirt, cobwebs and dirty laundry can pile up in a split second. So today, as I am picking up what all has piled up in my own house, I am reminded I need to work on cleaning my own mess before I try to clean someone else’s.

Psalm 51:9-10 KJV   9) Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10) Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

So it is better to not be so preoccupied with cleaning up for others that I neglect cleaning my own “house” spiritually and physically.

Thank you for reading and God bless!

Yapping Dog

Every morning when Leah is getting ready for school, our little dog, Honey, comes prancing in the room where we are and starts doing a certain little bark. It’s different than the “someone is here” bark. Thankfully it’s a lot quieter. We always know what she wants-  us to ask her a question. What is the question? “Do you want to go for a ride?” She goes wild! She starts barking, running around, maybe grabs her bear and starts shaking it back and forth, growling. (Keep in mind she is a whole 8 pounds.) She may start scratching her paws on something as if she’s digging, but almost always she tries to howl. She can’t contain her excitement! Her answer is always yes!

When we pull in to the driveway, she jumps in the backseat, then back up front- just as excited to be back as when we asked her if she wanted to go. As soon as I open the driver door, she jumps out, running toward the woods barking like she’s going to attack.

She does this every single time.

She kind of reminds me of how I used to be, or if I’m not careful, how I can still be.

James 1:19-20 (KJV) says, 19) “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20) For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Honey may be swift to hear if she’s after a critter in the woods, but she’s certainly not slow to speak and I would have to agree that she does seem pretty wrathful. It actually has become a habit for her. It is part of her routine.

I’ve been that wife. Husband comes home, I’m not hearing by his actions how tired he may be, suddenly I bombard him about how he didn’t mow the grass (for example), then I become downright angry.

I’ve been not just that wife but that person in many instances. Any way you look at it, I’ve been pretty much the same as the yapping dog.

As far as my husband goes, I now try to wait until he’s at least had supper to start griping (haha).

But on a serious note, it can be anything or anyone that comes our way. It all boils down to self-control. It’s a huge turn off to be a representative for Jesus and act like the devil. Sure, we all fall short at times, but I know when I want to speak my mind, if I only pause and am swift to listen to that still small voice of the Lord, He controls my desire to flap my tongue and work myself up into a tizzy.

I know I’ve wasted enough time doing this life the wrong way, I’m ready for my Master to train me up. He is able to teach this “old dog” new things if I am only willing.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Last in the Checkout Line

I’ve never really thought a lot about the self-checkout lanes in a negative way until I started seeing different posts about them on social media. I always looked at them as a convenience due to usually being in a hurry, tired or just ready to get out of the store. I never thought about it as taking jobs away from people. I haven’t used one in a while due to this reason, but I can’t say I won’t ever use one again. I’ll just try not to make a habit of it.

There are stores that don’t offer this method, such as the local grocery store in the small town where I live. I go there a lot and most of the time they’re pretty quick about opening another lane when the others get backed up. One day there were quite a few people in line. A big dirt bike event was going on in the county, therefore, extra people were in town and extra customers were rolling in. I caught myself becoming impatient but I came to my senses and realized I’d be ok with just waiting. After all, I wasn’t in too big of a hurry.

Shortly after, a young man opened another register. He said, “I can get someone over here.” I looked, not wanting to jump in front of anyone, but no one left their place in line. I went over, thanked him for opening up his lane, paid for my two items and went on my way.

As the electronic doors opened for me, I thought of being the last one in line. It seems I’ve often been last at a lot my whole life. Last to arrive (haha), last to get the punchline of a joke, last to finish eating or, even going way back to the old days, being the last one to be picked on a team in P.E. class.

In Matthew 19:30 KJV, Jesus said, “But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” In Matthew 20:16 KJV, He said pretty much the same thing- “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.”

I know it’s a bit repetitive, but I am thankful He understands those of us that need that extra reminder, or the extra reassurance. He knew what it would be like for us to live in this world of “keeping up with the Jones’s” so I believe He knew He needed to stress this point.

If you read the chapters, you will see when He was speaking of “the last”, He was speaking of those that followed Him, regardless of who or what they lost. To the world it means being last, to Him it means putting Him first.

So next time I’m waiting in line, I hope I will remember to take advantage of the extra time given and use the self-checkout method to check out my heart. The condition of my heart will determine the destination of my soul. One day, when I breathe my last, I want to walk through those doors that are opened for me after my name is called.

Thank you for reading!