Nailed It

Since none of us are getting any smaller, the whole kitchen floor had to be pulled up and the dirt dug down and hauled out as we should have done years ago. 

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Over a year and a half ago we had a little run-in with some unwelcome guests: termites. When we found those unwanted intruders, we called pest control to come spray and assess the damage they’d done.

Since our house is an “antique”, when we bought it we had to replace almost every floor down to the joists. We even brought shovels, wheelbarrows and the teenage boys in the family in as reinforcements to help us dig up dirt close to the floor that had caused the wood to rot.

One room we didn’t dig much of the dirt down and haul out was the kitchen. The pest guy said we’d have to dig down so his worker could crawl underneath to treat for the termites.

Since none of us are getting any smaller, the whole kitchen floor had to be pulled up and the dirt dug down and hauled out as we should have done years ago.

If you’ve ever had your kitchen floor replaced, you know it is a dreaded job that is only done when necessary. The refrigerator, stove, cabinets and anything else on the floor must come out.

After the area was treated the floor was rebuilt but had a weak spot in it and was unlevel. We lived with it like that for quite a while… until this past weekend. I decided I was ready and it was time! My refrigerator has actually been in my dining room all this time because I wasn’t taking the doors off and moving it back in until the floor was completely fixed.

I pulled everything out of the kitchen Saturday morning. I put my daughter and niece to work and later, my husband too. When I found out the guy wasn’t going to be able to work on the floor until Monday or Tuesday of the coming week, I told my husband it was up to us and I couldn’t wait that long to get started.

Thankfully some friends came and spent their Saturday night helping pull up our floor, jack up floor joists and cut plywood subflooring and piece it together.

Sunday rolled around and me being determined to get the house back in order ASAP (Thanksgiving dinner will be at my house next week!), we spent time cutting, measuring, suffering.

When time came to lay what is called underlay that the vinyl will lay on, it called for staples. I’m a cheapskate and refused to buy a staple gun so we opted for nails.

My poor husband is constantly on call for work so when he was frustrated with the hammering and the phone, I grabbed my trusty leather gloves, the nails and hammer and decided to bend a few myself.

The night before, I’d hammered screws in to get them started and my friend (and reinforcement), Brandy, followed behind and screwed the plywood to the floor joists with the drill. I’d hit my fingers several times with the hammer so using my gloves the following night was a stroke of genius.

I’ve never been good at hammering so as I hit my thumb a few times I was thankful for the bit of cushion. I was bending nails left and right and throwing them across the floor (with an attitude). Suddenly I thought, “Why don’t I just ask for help?”

A simple “Lord, please help me,” and what do you know- the nail went straight through. I started saying “please” and “thank you” and found myself moving right along. Of course I bent some more nails along the way but as I started thinking about this I thought of how bad it must’ve hurt to have those nails driven into Jesus’ hands and feet on the cross. My attitude began to change.

As I hammered and the nails went straight on through, I thought of myself- my sins, causing those nails He had to feel. I began to struggle with hitting them as hard as I had to hit them. I am grateful for that act of love that was done for us.

I then thought of Jesus and how in Mark 6:3 it is written, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

It says He was a carpenter. How He could actually give me some tips on where to hammer those nails and how to get that nail in right every time, so I began to ask for that too.

It was quite the time I had down on that floor in the kitchen with Jesus. He was there helping me out while helping me remember what He did for me and how He continues to do for me.

When my husband came back to the kitchen he said “woah”. I’m not sure if he was talking about all the bent nails thrown across the floor or how much work I’d gotten done. He knelt down on the floor and asked me if I was ready for him to hammer for a while. Of course I had saved him some edges I couldn’t seem to get.

As I went for one more nail I reminded him that Jesus was a carpenter. I told him a few of my thoughts I’d been thinking and how I’d been seeking His help in there and had received it.

It turned out to be a good time, just me and the Lord. My time knelt down on the floor changed my whole way of thinking. It always does.

Thanks for reading!

Moving Forward, Going Backwards

As she stood at the doorway and told me one last time she didn’t want to go, I looked her in the eyes and told her the truth: Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. Whether it is in your own mind or out of someone else’s mouth or actions, it is the devil and he is seeking to devour you!

My daughter has been taking gymnastics classes for a little over a year. She’s experienced joy, frustration, excitement and motivation. She’s experienced fear and has overcome some fears. She’s been encouraged and she has also been discouraged. This sounds like life and what we all experience throughout our days, doesn’t it?

I’ve never seen my daughter so passionate about something in her life as she is with gymnastics. She has set goals. She stretches and works on things every day and marks it off with a check on her calendar. She has learned self-discipline. For the past several months there is not a day that goes by that she doesn’t set aside time to do this.

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Although she is shy, she has become somewhat of a leader when it comes to this. Her friends that come over see her motivation and join her. Even family members have gotten on the mats and joined her in stretching and doing flips. (Myself included and it was not pretty haha.)

Last week when I picked her up from class, she said she didn’t want to go back. I haven’t seen her this frustrated since she started. This week, yesterday, after school she told me twice she wasn’t going to her gymnastics class. She made up excuses and gave her reasons but I said, “You’re going.”

Her big thing is she is afraid to go backwards. Of course I relate this to life and spiritual things with her, telling her we want to move forward in life and move forward with God, but in gymnastics it’s necessary to go backwards: that’s part of it.

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As she stood at the doorway and told me one last time she didn’t want to go, I looked her in the eyes and told her the truth: Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. Whether it is in your own mind or out of someone else’s mouth or actions, it is the devil and he is seeking to devour you!

John 10:10 NKJV   “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 

1 Peter 5:8 NKJV  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeing whom he may devour. 

The devil wants to steal your joy. He wants to kill your dreams and motivation. He wants to destroy your goals- everything you’re working towards. He wants to devour you by taking away any confidence or hope you may have. It’s not you and it’s not anyone else- it’s the devil. He wants you to give up BUT God is greater and He wants you to succeed!

I’m not sure what else flew out of my mouth but I told her she was going and that the Lord would take care of her and He would be her strength. She surprisingly and quickly agreed. She wasn’t all that happy on the way to class but her whole attitude changed as she exited the car and walked toward the door of the gymnastics studio- all smiles and even laughter!

An hour later, I came back to pick her up. A woman was standing outside talking on her phone and she said, “Go look at your daughter! She got her back walkover!”

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I went inside and everyone was excited. I watched that young lady God blessed me with go backwards! And with such grace! I was in shock! I thought I was dreaming and was she ever beaming! I said, “Do it again!” And she did, ever so gracefully!

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She was smiling from ear to ear all the way home, as was I. It was a lesson for her, as well as for me.

I told her, “Now do you see? The devil wanted you to quit and you didn’t and look what happened! You moved forward, you pushed through, and you did what you didn’t think you could do!”

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Ironic enough, my niece called me later and I told her all about what had happened. Later in our conversation I told her it didn’t look like I was going to make it with a writing career. She quickly reminded me of what I had spoken only hours before- “That’s just the devil wanting you to quit. How is that any different than what Leah just went through? I mean, you’re writing for God.”

How quickly I forget!

I hope we will remember to apply this to our lives, even by the minute. Thank you for reading and God bless!

 

 

 

 

The Mustard Seed

As I looked off to try to pull myself together, I just so happened to look to my right and there on a shelf was a nice, shiny glass jar full of mustard seeds!

Luke 17:5-6 NKJV    5) And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 6) So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

I never knew what a mustard seed looked like when I first read this verse  long ago, but could only assume it was a very small seed. It never seemed to affect my understanding until years later when I actually saw one. It was quite an encouragement to see how small a mustard seed really is and know, if I have at least that much faith, big things can happen.

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A lady I used to clean for once a week never had me doing the same thing as I did the previous week. One day she wanted me to help her clean her spice cabinet out. As I reached and retrieved different bottles and containers, I handed them down to her. When we got to the container of mustard seed she said it needed to be thrown away. I quickly spoke up and asked if I could have it. Of course she didn’t care and I gladly brought the jar home.

Since I spend a great deal of my time in my own kitchen, I decided I’d put it on the counter beside my stove. It would be a good reminder for me.

Reminders can sometimes be overlooked when we see them day after day, but when we see them in places other than our own kitchen, they remind us, as well as revive us, in a special kind of way. The reminders we’re blessed with seem to come along just at the right time.

It was the night before Christmas (just kidding, but it was close!) and my husband and I were out doing some last minute shopping. We decided to eat at a restaurant close by that we’d never been to (Outback Steakhouse).

As we sat at the table, we talked about some things that were heavy on our hearts at that time. As I looked off to try to pull myself together, I just so happened to look to my right and there on a shelf was a nice, shiny glass jar full of mustard seeds!

The shelves weren’t near every table but they were by ours at a perfect time: a time when all the faith I had was surely as much as at least one tiny seed in that large jar.

I believe He hears our hearts say to Him, “Increase our faith.”

Can you think of a time when He gave you a reminder?

 

The Dryer

There seemed to be no escape, no matter how hard or fast I ran, He was still there, walking. And then there I was- bent over, holding my side, barely able to catch my breath.

As I lie here in bed, the clothes in the dryer are nearly approaching their last tumble. I’m tired, but earlier this evening I heard a terrible racket. I tracked it down and found it to be the dryer. Something is causing a horrible sound. It’s a little scary and I’m not sure what exactly is going on in there but work clothes need to be dried for the workday ahead.

I figured I need to stay close, stay awake and stay aware to make sure all will be well, so again, I am last at getting in the bed. This wasn’t my plan at all. Early on I asked everyone to get their clothes ready to wash and told my daughter to get her shower and get in bed at a decent time so I could be in the bed before 10 p.m.

Instead, I find myself playing the role of the watchman: watching for anything that may harm my family so I can call out to them if (or when) danger comes.

I am once again reminded of the conversation I had with my brother-in-law not long ago. It’s rare I talk to him through the week, but I was stuck at home waiting for that package that never came (Click here for the related story) so I know our meeting was a divine appointment.

We talked about the Lord with tears in our eyes and as he told me one particular thing, my eyelids gave way and the tears began to roll down my cheeks. He said, “If your family is ever going to be saved, it will be because of you.” (Meaning my obedience to the Lord.) Click here for the related story

That was a lot to take in, but it wasn’t as much of a shock as it was the first time it had been revealed to me. It was, however, a heavy weight on my arthritic shoulders. But what about the role of a watchman? That word alone is enough to bring me to my arthritic knees.

As with so many topics, there are many, many verses but I will only post a chosen few:

Ezekiel 33:6-7  NKJV  6) ‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ 7) “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.

Ezekiel 33:11 NKJV  “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the LORD GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

Any time I have felt the Lord speak to me about being a watchman I have been driven not only to my knees, but to my knees weeping and sobbing. So much so that my husband once thought there had been a death.

The truth of the matter is that it scared me, but even more, it pained my flesh. It was a death- a death to myself and I just wasn’t willing to pass away.

Not long ago I ended up running from the position and the One who seems to want me to have it, only to have Him gently walk alongside me. There seemed to be no escape, no matter how hard or fast I ran, He was still there, walking. And then there I was- bent over, holding my side, barely able to catch my breath. Even with something as calm as a gentle breeze blowing the last of the leaves on a big oak tree I would hear Him simply say, “It’s up to you.”

Him never leaving my side, I returned to Him knowing the people I love, the people in my life- they have souls. The weight doesn’t seem as heavy now because He’s proven to this “doubting Thomas” that He’ll never leave my side on the watchtower.

So tonight, and every other hour, it is a privilege that I must take seriously, for the sake of my family- physically, at times (such as tonight), but also, more importantly- spiritually. I love them, and since I do, I will watch for them. The concern is always: but will they still love me? That is the reason for the tears but I have to love them to life, not love them to death.

Have you ever been called for a position in which your response was nothing short of begging and pleading for Him to accept a simple “no thank You”?

I’m sure you’ve found the Lord is adamant when it comes to His will being done. If not yet, just wait. The good thing is, you’ll never “go it” alone: He will be with you.

Do you happen to be running like I was? Take just a second and look beside you. Yep, there He is.

Thank you for reading and may God bless you and yours.

 

The Piano

…because He knows you’re doing it for Him.

When I was 7 years old, my brother and sister-in-law got married. The church building they were married in had a piano. My other brother sat down at it and messed around, then someone else came in and played it. I fell in love. It was absolutely the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.

Fast forward to the year 1997. My husband and I became friends before we dated. One day we were hanging out with my brother and another friend. We went to a state park not far from us and went inside a little church on the premises. I was shocked to see Jason, my husband, sit down at the piano and begin to play. What! He didn’t strike me as a pianist type but afterward he told me he took lessons when he was a kid.

After we married, I learned his mom played the piano at church. When I began to go to services where she attended, it made it even more special that she was the one playing.  We lived with them at the time and at night she would practice the music she would play the following day. It was a sound I still miss. One day she told me she couldn’t even play the piano until God taught her. I understood that but thought, surely there was something there to begin with.

I come from a musical family but it’s the men that hold those talents. My Dad, all 3 brothers and a couple of uncles and nephews can all sing, play something, or both. Us girls just never had it. Or at least I didn’t think we did.

Yesterday as I sat down to finish the blog post planned for the day, I decided to play some music. I love a song called “You Say” by Christian artist Lauren Daigle. As it began to play I realized I needed absolute quietness so I turned the music off. I sat there for a minute looking at my computer screen and said to myself, “I think I want to learn how to play that on the piano.” I pulled up a few videos to see what keys to put my fingers on, grabbed a dry erase marker, marked the keys and before I knew it, it sounded more like a song than noise! I was so excited! I couldn’t believe my ears (or my eyes or my fingers)!

I practiced for a while in the afternoon, last night and again this morning. I recorded it and sent it to my mother-in-law. After all, she passed this piano I was playing down to Jason. It popped in to my head about her saying God taught her how to play. Now I understood!

The video took a long time to load so I decided to call her and just play it for her over the phone. I messed up quite a bit but she encouraged me by saying, “Everyone does”. It wasn’t long before we were both crying. She knew the feeling. She knows I can’t play the piano. It’s still not perfect but I am amazed at what the Lord is allowing me to do. My mother-in-law, Pam, said, “because He knows you’re doing it for Him.” She said it even takes you to a deeper place of worship. I have to agree. I even notice when I start doing it on my own, I mess up.

I’m going to use Pam’s favorite verses of Scripture for this story.

Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV 5) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

I have to say, I’m still astonished. I wish I had a before video to share. I could only peck around on the keys. Jason did teach me a part of the song “Heart and Soul” but I get really confused on just that, therefore I know this is ALL the Lord!

I hope what they say is true: the camera adds ten pounds. Or maybe it is those snack cakes (haha).

I hope you enjoyed reading and remember-If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes. (Mark 9:23)

click on the link below to see:

Me playing the piano

To order the shirt I’m wearing (Just Believe) which is a song on my musical uncle, Jack Pearson’s, newly released CD “Are You Listening” (t-shirt available for a limited time):

Click here

And scroll to the bottom of the page

 

 

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.

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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!

 

Patina

I was literally sick to my stomach. I rehearsed my apology speech in my mind until I heard the truck pull in the driveway.

I had been cleaning houses for several years when I received a call to clean for a certain couple. I accepted the job and became friends with them as well. They were usually there every time I cleaned but one day they left to run errands. I went about doing things almost as usual, only I sprayed the bathroom down with cleaner to let it soak. Usually I didn’t let it soak as long so it would be ready for use at any time. After several minutes, I walked back into the bathroom to begin cleaning. I noticed the faucets that were normally darker appeared more bright to me.

I began to get upset. I thought, “Oh my goodness, what have I done!” My mind was racing. This was exactly why I’d prolonged doing this type of work in my earlier years. I was always fearful I’d mess something up or break something. What if this was irreplaceable? I was literally sick to my stomach. I rehearsed my apology speech in my mind until I heard the truck pull in the driveway. I heard the doors shut. My heart began to pound. What would be their reaction? How much would this cost to replace, if it even can be replaced?

I waited for them to call a friendly “Hello, we’re back” as they walked through the door. I walked towards the kitchen as they were unloading the grocery bags onto the counter. “OK, well, I apologize,” I began. “I will replace what I’ve messed up. I let the cleaner soak on the bathroom fixtures longer than usual and now they’re lighter.” I walked towards the bathroom, trailing behind them a bit. In a carefree voice the lady said, “Oh, no, that’s just patina. That’s supposed to do that. Over time, a copper-like finish shows through. That’s what we want!”

Contrary to the slogan of a popular antacid, this time relief was spelled P-A-T-I-N-A! I told them I had been so sick about it. I thought I’d really messed up. It wasn’t my plan, but apparently it was theirs. It was the way it was supposed to be. I saw tragedy, they saw progress.

Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV says 8) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9) For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Just as the people I worked for, our Father in heaven has a plan for us that we may not understand. We may not know it, but we can trust that He knows what He’s doing. We don’t think like God, we don’t know the future but God does. His ways have much more meaning than we can even imagine. So when things seem dark and dull, in time- His time, a bright finish will shine through.

Thank you for reading and God bless!