Purple Stains

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How is it that I can fall so short, beat myself up so hard, and have such trouble picking myself up off the floor? What happened to grace for my husband? For myself?

Purple PVC primer on four month old white appliances, on wood cabinets, on tile, on grout, and eucharisteo vanishes. We are late to prayer and worship practice before church, and I have trouble engaging in worship because I see purple stains splattered across our new kitchen. “Remember, it’s just stuff,” someone says to me. I think about my prior post—the simple life. But it’s “stuff” I have to look at each day, as well as anyone who steps foot in our house. How do I give thanks for this?

Sermon starts and pastor is preaching on evangelism. I think of how that’s the last thing I can think of at the time. She had a dream and begins to interpret. Three people were in her dream, and she is going to point them out.

Attention shifts back to purple.

Dollar signs flash.

I stare at Bible open on my lap and hear my name being called. “Jennifer Deg, you have a strong anointing for evangelism.”

She continues talking. I see her mouth move but can’t exactly make out the words.

Face goes blank.

Tears flow.

Me? Ungrateful, distracted, non-grace giving me? An anointing for evangelism? I’d heard it before, but where was the fruit of it? Where was the fruit of anything in my life? I had been turned down the week prior by someone I knew when I asked if I could pray for her. It was a first. The first I remember anyway. I’ll admit that I was somewhat offended when it happened.

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Where is the eucharisteo? The grace? The joy? Was this a true prophetic word, or a mix up? Service ends, and I go up front to be anointed with oil for evangelism. It is an open call. I feel silly, as I was told I already have the anointing. I am searching for something—anything to confirm.  I am told I have already been called—that the offenses are rolling off of me so that I can evangelize.

I cry and cry and cry.

She laughs and laughs and laughs.

What is she hearing? I leave the church silently, not even speaking to husband. I usually lack no words. I am thinking of souls, unthankfulness, and purple primer—the mess I am headed home to. There are souls at stake, and I’m worried about stains in my kitchen. White dishwasher and oven stained purple. What about the hearts and lives outside of my home that are stained with hurt, regret, fear, and unbelief? What about my heart that is discolored with unthankfulness and doubt about God’s calling on my life?

How can I lead others to Christ when I’m so judgmental and critical and self-righteous? I would need a “road to Damascus” encounter to change from a Saul to a Paul. It seems so far away. Oh, that I could have the grace and patience of my husband. That he would have the call instead of me.

But he does.

He’s gotten the word before.

His words are smooth.

Mine cut deep. But didn’t Paul’s? Why the frustration? Why the discontentment? Why the lack of eucharisteo, of grace? Why the call to evangelism on a morning when I didn’t feel like going to church? Why the call the morning after a long day of celebrating my late father’s life? Why, when I was looking forward to a day of rest, did the morning start with splattered purple and a call I feel unqualified for?

I’d heard it before while deep in worship one day: I don’t call the equipped. I equip the called.

Is the overhaul possible? Necessary? Is the name change crucial? How can I live in the fullness of eucharisteo in the midst of things not so great? Or is there greatness in everything, and I am just too blind to see it? Oh, what I wouldn’t give to laugh at purple stained appliances and cabinets and tile one day, to not care what it looks like to others, to not care what it looks like to me. What I wouldn’t give to have grace for my husband who spends the morning on knees scrubbing hard. There’s always tomorrow. Yes, thank God there is always a new day. That’s what I will write for my daily entry in my gratitude journal.

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The Simple Life

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There’s a concept sweeping the nation—the world—that bigger isn’t always better. I couldn’t agree more. In a day in age where people are buying bigger houses and needing to work better jobs to pay for those houses, living a simple life couldn’t sound sweeter.

I have always loved the concept of tiny houses, or even small ones for that matter, probably because I can’t. stand. clutter. Is my house immaculate? Nope. Does it cause me mental clutter? Yep. But I am working on this through a program offered by Alejandra.tv called the Power Productivity Program. I have learned that I am a perfectionist (surprise!), and that I want everything to be organized perfectly, like a staged home. This is NOT okay (she covers this). Thankfully, I have also learned throughout my life that the only “thing” perfect in life is Jesus Christ, and I am not Him. (The pressure is off!)

Have you ever wondered why it feels so good to get away to a hotel for vacation, or even go camping? Hotels typically have the bare minimums, making the room a clutter free zone where you can escape from the clutches of “stuff” at home. Unfortunately, it never worked much for me because I knew what was awaiting me when I returned: a disorganized office, unorganized closets, items without “homes” shoved into “junk” drawers, etc. The simple life couldn’t be more appealing to me.

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Love this tiny bath/shower!

Not only would living small reduce clutter, but it would reduce stress from feeling the need to “keep up with the Jones’s” or work a ridiculous amount of hours in order to keep up with the lifestyle you are living. Who wouldn’t want to eliminate a mortgage, cut utility bills WAY down, have more time to spend with those you love, and more money to DO the things you enjoy? Well, the answer to that is simple: anyone who likes stuff.

I mentioned the idea of moving into a tiny home to my hubby and he replied, “I couldn’t do that. I like to have my stuff: my drums, keyboard, etc.” He said I would really need to convince him on it. And trust me, I am working on that one!  (BTW, my husband isn’t a materialistic person. He plays the drums on our worship team and simply loves making music for the Lord.) 😉

We recently purchased our first home last November after living with my mom for the first year and a half of our marriage. I had always wanted a home of my own, and our dream was finally coming true. It’s about 1,300 sq. ft. which compared to my mom’s 800 sq. ft. 3 bedroom house was HUGE. However, I found myself complaining about the lack of storage in the kitchen, the size of the living room, and the tiny “master” bathroom (missing the fact that the actual master bedroom was WAY bigger than the 10×12 room at mom’s, as well as the fact we had a walk-in closet with a laundry room inside with a full size window). What has this culture taught us? Bigger is ALWAYS better.

The day after my previous post I got still before the Lord (which is difficult for me), and in less than a minute He gave me a download of answers to all of the questions I had had regarding direction. He also said that I am in a season of healing and rest, and although I’m not to be idle, I am not to over commit myself. Wow. The simple life. As I went through my late father’s belonging’s yesterday, I determined not to take a bunch of stuff that would ultimately become more clutter. I took some writing books and music books as well as a few other sentimental items. Who knows what may end up in a yard sale at a later time. Our “guest bedroom” is currently a storage room, full of boxes that I didn’t have the time to unpack/go through before my operation. And trust me, it occupies a room in my mind as well. But it will get tackled in due time. I must remember that I am in a season of rest and healing. The pressure is off.

One method I am trying to master is the “one thing in, one thing out” method. For each new thing you bring into the house, one must go out, either to a friend, Salvation Army, the trash, or possibly a box for a yard sale (just be sure to actually HAVE the sale)! I look at the couple of small boxes in the living room of dad’s stuff, and as I think about this method I’m asking myself, “Do I really need this stuff? Would I rather get rid of something I already have in order to keep it?” I love Daddy, don’t get me wrong, but I do have a lot of items he has given me through the years.

In the past I used to have a problem with shopping. It would provide me a temporary happiness, so I spent a lot of time doing it. I never went in debt doing so, and often times I would return the items later, only to go and buy more stuff to keep and/or return. It was a temporary escape. Thankfully, I am learning the art of a simple life, and the beauty in “less is more.” I am reminded of my first blog post here titled “Letting Go.”

What are your thoughts on living a simple life and/or living tiny? Could you do it?

(See more tiny houses here.)

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Total Surrender

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The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
-Psalm 37:23-24

For being immobile at the current moment, I sure am getting a lot done. I’m reading three books, setting goals, learning the guitar, writing a devotional, working on Deliverance Training Boot Camp (after putting it on hold for 8 months due to finishing school), learning Spanish (LOVE the Duolingo app!), working my jewelry business (what I can), and working on the Power Productivity Program through Alejandra.tv in effort to become more organized (breath). Oh, and scanning photos and articles of my dad’s for his upcoming celebration of life Saturday (double breath). Believe it or not, I actually haven’t felt stressed at all. I have plenty of time in the day to do these things since I can’t walk, so it’s been pleasant crossing things off of my daily to-do list.

But that’s it.

After talking to my pastor this morning and explaining all of the different things I want to do and am praying about doing (like partaking in a specific ministry for City Plan, and returning to school at Southeastern University for church music and ministry), she reminded me that I need to slow down and ask the Lord what HE wants me to do.

I had a dream last night that I jumped off of a rock into some water after my friends had, and as I did I sank to the bottom and ended up on my back on the floor atop some seaweed. I began freaking out because you never know what is hiding under that stuff, and as I tried again and again to swim up to the surface I couldn’t. I was drowning. I finally broke away but couldn’t make it to the top in time. Water filled my lungs.

Are we so busy, even with the things of God that we often feel as though we are drowning? I don’t feel as though I am, but God often speaks to me in dreams because my mind is so busy throughout the day. Perhaps He knows something I don’t? (DUH!) When I cover my daily prayer list I need to pray out loud because if I don’t my mind will drift to something off topic. It truly is difficult for me to be still. Okay, for my mind to be still.

I think a lot of us have this desire to do something worthwhile and we are afraid of missing the mark. We set goals, organize our lives to a “T,” yet still feel as though we aren’t living out God’s will for our lives. Perhaps He has gifted you is several different areas like He has me, and you simply can’t hone in on one area, so you try to cover them all. It’s times like this when all we can do is press in and ask Him to speak to us regarding what He wants us to do. But we have to listen. It’s in these moments of total surrender, when the mind is calm and the heart receptive, that He will speak. If we plan too much, we won’t remain open to the direction He could have us go.

Prayer starter: Lord, speak to me. I only want to do that which you would have me do and nothing else. If there are several things, please make those clear to me. You alone know the way in which I should travel.

“Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” -Psalm 127:1

 

Tough Love

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“Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'” Mark 10:21 (NIV)

While doing my Bible study this morning, a verse that I have read many times before jumped off the page at me. Particularly, the words “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” Jesus knew that this man wasn’t going to follow Him, yet he showed genuine love for him. The love of money kept him from following God. Jesus exercised tough love by telling the man what he lacked in order to follow Him. He claimed that he had kept all of the commandments since he was a boy (v.20), and although this could have been true, it wasn’t enough to save him. Yet Jesus LOVED him.

We must be sure to regularly evaluate our lives and motives, as well as do a spiritual inventory of our hearts. Is there something that would be difficult for you to give up if Jesus were to ask you to do so to follow Him? Your spouse? Your car? Facebook? Television? If in thinking about this your face falls and you become sad like the rich young man in Mark 10, perhaps it’s time to fast and refocus on that which TRULY matters. We should get to a place of true contentment in Christ and nothing else. He is ultimately the one person or “thing” that can truly satisfy us. Our treasure is in heaven, not this earth.

One important thing to remember from this story is that Jesus loved him even though He knew the man wouldn’t follow him. This isn’t a license to abuse His grace, but rather reassurance that you can’t earn His love and approval; you already have it. We need to simply respond to it. Beloved, there is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and nothing you can do to make Him love you less. Just believe it and receive it. The rest will fall into place. ❤

Prayer starter: Abba Father, please reveal to me anything that I may have as an idol in my life. Help me to humbly seek Your kingdom above anything and everything here on this earth. I commit to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow you regardless of the cost.

Strength and Shield

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In an hour I will leave for a follow-up appointment with my surgeon. Of the six incisions from my recent total ankle fusion, only one set of stitches remains. Two weeks after surgery the others came out, however, the ones in my heel weren’t ready to come out, so they put the cast on and told me they would remove them later.

The pain from the removal of the stitches was excruciating . . . I laid there biting my fist, tears streaming down my face, and the nails from my other hand digging into the wall. I thought my pain tolerance would have been high after 11 surgeries. So, the thought of the stitches being removed from my heel today after 6 weeks of my skin having healed around them made me a bit nervous. Not to mention I would have a new cast put on, which isn’t pleasant in and of itself. Sawing off the cast is the worst, as I have severe nerve damage in my foot, so the slightest vibration sends shooting pain through my body. I’ve taken a pain pill for the first time in over 2 weeks to prepare me for this. (Although I was on them when they took the other ones out and they clearly didn’t help.) I hate those pills . . .

Surprisingly though, I’m not very nervous. I have peace about it. I know that God has me in the palm of His hand, and He is whispering to me “do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) I’m still believing for my miracle. Each time I go to an appointment I am ready for the moment when they take off my cast or do an x-ray and I have FULL motion in my ankle, and ALL hardware has dissolved. I imagine the testimony that would be to the hundreds of doctors, nurses, and x-ray technicians who have treated me in the past six years. But it’s all on God’s timetable, not mine. In the meantime I will continue to trust in Him as my strength and my shield, just as this verse reminded me during my Bible study this morning:

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
-Psalm 28:7