Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cleaning is Cathartic

So we are generally pretty busy on the weekends. Adam has been helping my Dad renovate a space on the 2nd floor of their barn/garage into an office. The project has been going on for many years as my Dad is designer/planner/carpenter of the whole thing. Every other weekend (or atleast once a month) we are up there so Adam can help with the construction. Some months we don't even have a Saturday at home between working at my Dad's, family parties, etc. We are just that busy. Well, in May we decided to "reclaim" some of those "at-home Saturdays". We actually had 2 in a row. Incredible! We have a list of things we want to get done around the house, but one of them was "hiding" in the back of our garage. You should know that our garage was a mess. There was a thin path (if you were lucky) to get you from the garage door to the freezer in the back. I joked that in order to get something out of the freezer I had to run an obstacle course...jump, twist, duck, turn, walk 2 steps, crawl. It was terrible! The garage was one of Adam's biggest frustrations. It was filled with extra wood brought home from "the job", tools, drywall, more spackle buckets then you knew what to do with, and a variety of other things (including things from the previous owner that we just never got rid of). I think you would have to see it to believe it, but it was really bad.

There was really no way to get our "To Do List" project from the back of the garage without an injury or Adam chucking things across the garage, so I finally said "enough is enough, we're cleaning this garage out!". So we spent our 1st Saturday at home cleaning out the garage. I can't believe how much wood he had stored in there. We threw so much away! (Luckily our township has an awesome trash collection and they took most of it.) There is just something amazing when you throw things away and re-organize. It's soothing for the soul. We can actually walk into the garage now. I think I could do a cartwheel in there, if I actually did cartwheels anymore. And cleaning out the garage actually became the catalyst for cleaning and straightening all around our house. We cleaned up our gardens and added some new perennials. We got rid of a stick pile along the side of our house that had been there for over a year. We have even cut our grass 3 times now since the grass started growing again. That's big for us!

I'm telling you, there is just something about cleaning out the mess, trashing the junk, and organizing your life that does things to you. It lifts a burden; it calms you. I think counseling does the same kind of thing (in theory). You talk about your junk, you learn to trash it and/or forgive, and you figure out how to "organize" your actions/reactions to things/people. I have been to a couple of Christian counselors over the past 10 years, to heal my junk and to heal my marriage junk. Being able to identify your sin issues is so helpful. By identifying when I'm not trusting or trying to control a situation, I can make different choices or behave differently. It can be very peaceful, it can lift burdens, and it can help you to focus on what's important once the "junk" is out of the way. But just like the garage, you can clean it out but it doesn't mean more "junk" won't come in or some of the same "junk" won't invade again. But now that we know how it feels to have a clean garage, we will hopefully be more vigilant about keeping the junk out and not let it get that cluttered again. Cleaning is cathartic. The hard part is making it a priority and deciding to do it!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More on trust...

"For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100:5 (NIV)

Let's give credit where credit is due. I receive a daily devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries via email. Today's was about "Trusting God During Difficult Times". The following is an excerpt from today's email and was written by Susanne Scheppmann:

For myself I think my greatest lesson of faith has been in the acknowledgement that God is good—all the time. Oswald Chambers wrote, "Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God's character must be proven trustworthy in our own minds."

There will always be moments of uncertainty. I find comfort in the words written by David Jeremiah in My Heart's Desire:
You may sometimes feel awkward and uncomfortable, and find yourself saying, "Is this really true? I don't see anything in it. I don't hear God's voice. I don't feel His presence." There are days like that for all of us. The pursuit of God has no shortcuts. You simply must keep walking, keep seeking, and keep yearning. Keep at it, and you won't be disappointed.

Dear Lord, grant me the faith to know that You are good all the time, even during the most difficult circumstances of this life. When I am weak, lift me up. Enable me to accept the love and comfort from others who love me, but let me rely on Your everlasting love for me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Noah, He builded, He builded an arky, arky...

Why is it that when I sit down to write a post, song tunes run through my head? Hmmm. Anyway, our Women's Bible Study this Spring has been looking at the Bible starting at the beginning...Genesis. So, we've been talking a lot about Noah. Fun thing is, I have never looked at Noah quite this way before. I think the most amazing thing about Noah is his strong faith and obedience to God. God speaks to Noah and tells him to build an ark (Genesis 6:14). Then he tells him to fill it with 2 of all living creatures (Genesis 6:19-20). Noah never asked why. He just did it (Noah did everything just as God commanded him. Genesis 7:22). Gosh, I think I would have asked a few things first. Not only did Noah do something that may have seemed "crazy" to the world, but he brought his family along for the ride. The floods came and everything perished, except for Noah & his family and the creatures on the ark. God did tell Noah that it would rain and the earth would flood (Genesis 7:4), but He never explained the details, like how long would Noah have to be on the ark? God gave Noah as much information as he needed at the time and Noah obediently trusted God would take care of the rest. (That would have been hard for someone like me who likes to have all the information.)

We talked today about the burden Noah may have felt to have been the one chosen to survive when everything else was wiped from the face of the earth. Can you imagine? Why was God so gracious to Noah? Did he have survivors guilt? Noah certainly didn't deserve to be saved. He was a sinner just like the rest of them. But God is gracious and He chooses to give each of us grace even though we don't deserve it. I know there have been times in my life when God has blessed me and I feel overwhelmed by it. Why did God save my marriage? Why did God change my life? I could have lived my whole life unhappy, stressed out, and frustrated but God didn't let that happen to me. Why? Oh, we could ask why, but we will never really know the answer. Everytime I feel overwhelmed and wonder why, the only thing I can do is be thankful and appreciate what He has done.

God gave Noah a fresh start, a new beginning (Genesis 8:13-17). And I have experience God's gift of a fresh start and a new beginning. Adam and I are getting ready to celebrate 10 years of marriage. Looking back can sometimes be painful for us. Yes, we've been married for 10 years, but we struggled hard in the beginning. We must acknowledge the blessing of our union 10 years ago because it was significant and necessary to getting us to the place we are now.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is when God told Noah he could come off of the ark, the very first thing Noah did was praise, worship, and thank God (Genesis 8:20-21). After all of the hardships Noah must have endured spending 1 year and 17 days on an ark with a menagerie of animals (and all that entails), he remembered to thank God for all He had done. Oh, that we might all come through the struggles of life with thankful and obedient hearts! Thankfulness equals contentment! God is our security. His promises, to never leave or forsake us, of eternal life, should be a comfort to us. Maybe Noah wasn't sure about all that building an ark and flooding the earth stuff, but he did what God asked him to do. Through the "adventure" that God took Noah & his family on, Noah saw the faithfulness of God and he saw God's power. Sometimes we have to make it through the difficulties before we can understand what God was doing. What a blessing when we can look back and see God's hand working. Sometimes it makes sense to us and sometimes we will never know. Hopefully, we will learn to trust like Noah did. And hopefully, in obedience and worship, we will "build an altar to the Lord" (Genesis 8:20) to thank Him for all He has done.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Name that Blog

So I changed the name of my blog from a very uncreative "Christy's Blog" to "A Heartening Life". It's really hard to come up with a good name for a blog. I ran the gamet of name choices and came up with this one. Do you like it? There was something about the word "hearten" that I liked. Maybe it's because the only time we really use it is to say that we are "disheartened". But I am feeling rather heartened these days and my hope for the blog is that people that read it will feel heartened, as well. Since my favorite bible verse has become Romans 8:28, my hope is that the life I live, the trials I've persevered, will encourage others to keep on keeping on. But do not be mistaken...I was living a disheartening life and God turned it around. Praise God!

Monday, May 4, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up with strings. These are a few of my favorite things!" -Sound of Music

It's amazing how God created each person, but we are all so very different. We each find joy in different things. That's what makes us unique. A list of someone's favorite things can tell you a lot about a person, I guess. I hope you'll check mine out!

Enchiladas Del Mar from Tortugas in Collegeville, PA
Mexican Jumbo from El Sarape in Blue Bell, PA
Any beach, any ocean, anywhere: The New Jersey Shore; The Outerbanks, Corolla, NC; Hawaii (Norwegian Cruise Lines - Hawaii)
Vera Wang's Sheer Veil perfume
I'm particularly fond of the town of Doylestown, PA.
My roots run deep at the Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia, PA.
Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday cookbook
Tribe's Cracked Chili Pepper Hummus
Celestial Seasonings' Blueberry Breeze green tea or True Blueberry herbal tea

Christian Music Artists: Nicole C. Mullen, Bethany Dillon, Nichole Nordemann, Casting Crowns, Third Day, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman (just to name a few)

Suggested reading: The Shack by William Young, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, anything by Jane Austen (Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility), Charlotte Bronte's Jane Ayre, Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

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