A Spirit-Filled Home – Week 4

A Spirit-Filled Home - Week 4 - IntentionallyPursuing.com

“Offering hospitality is much more about the condition of your heart than the condition of your home.” Karen Ehman, A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others*

Karen is reminding me that in my quest to create a spirit-filled home, the condition of my heart is of greater importance than the condition of my home. And while I still have plans for painting and decorating my home, my first priority will always be the condition of God’s home, my heart.

Myquillyn shared a beautiful quote by Charles Henry Parkhurst in her book The Nesting Place,* “Home interprets heaven. Home is heaven for beginners.” Our homes are an expression of who we are. Home is the place we open up to welcome others in. Our homes allow us to be a vessel for God’s goodness to those He places in our path.

And part of creating a spirit-filled home is removing the clutter, so home is a place of rest and peace. I’m doing Ruth’s 31 Days to a Clutter Free Life challenge. And this week I worked on my closet following her suggestions of “keeping only items that:

  • Fit, flatter and make you feel great
  • Are in good to excellent condition
  • Are part of an outfit or “go” with other items you own
  • Are classic cuts, stylish and well-made”

One other guide I used when evaluating what clothes to keep or get rid of is: Would I buy this item today? I don’t know where I read that idea, but I found it to be so helpful in deciding what should go. It was hard getting rid of clothes that were in great condition, but having too many choices makes it hard to decide what to wear.

In this week’s challenge on Making Your Home a Haven, Courtney encourages us to:

  • “Keep your candle burning, the music playing and plan a Family Fun Night.
  • … take the time to savor these moments with your loved ones.
  • Work on kindness and joy this week.”

Most dinners together are at the table, but Sunday nights we pull out the TV trays and eat dinner while watching our favorite show. And because we enjoy the time together and it’s a little different, it’s one of my favorite nights of the week.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

Just as I get dressed in the morning, I need to clothe myself in God’s Word so I can put on His character. And after an encounter with the holy One, I can choose to by joyful no matter the circumstance and exhibit kindness to those around me.

I can be joyous and exhibit kindness because of an encounter with God’s holiness.

*Amazon affiliate link. Thank you for your support : )

Image courtesy of Rosemary Ratcliff / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Other posts in this series on A Spirit-Filled Home: Week 1Week 2, Week 3.

Rest in His presence.

When You Don’t Hear Those Three Little Words

When You Don't Hear Those Three Little Words
To the woman who doesn’t hear those three little words she needs to hear:

Last week I wrote a message titled The Two Words He Needs to Hear. And I shared a quote from Shaunti Feldhahn how “thank you” to a guy is the same as “I love you” to a girl.

But in that post I assumed you heard those three little words. And after hitting publish, my heart was burdened with the pain of those who desperately want to hear him say “I love you.”

Maybe he just doesn’t use words like that, but you know he loves you. Or maybe it’s just been too long since he’s said “I love you.” Or maybe like me he says the words, but you question if he really means them.

In over 19 years of marriage, Tim has never failed to say “I love you” to me each and every day. But there was a time his words felt hollow. And though his lips uttered the words my heart longed to hear, they were empty words.

One particularly hard night after Tim said “I love you” and then rolled away from me, my heart ached. It literally felt like it was breaking in two.

So that next morning I was determined to make sure my heart never caused me that much pain again. I went to the kitchen and pulled out the biggest knife I could find and returned to our bedroom intending to cut our bed in two. And that is where Tim found me.

Now, I’ll be honest and admit this story could have ended much differently. But God gave Tim words to say that brought peace to my heart. And though both the bed and my heart were wounded, neither were broken in two.

Since that time God has restored our marriage, but it was in that season I learned God was enough for me. And that was something I couldn’t have learned any other way. Because even though God was always enough, it wasn’t until He was all I had I learned to fully lean on Him.

And God knows how it feels to hear the words but know they lack meaning. For through the prophet Isaiah, “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me …'” (Isaiah 29:13 NIV)

If my words last week brought you pain, I am sorry. I pray you will hear him say those three little words. But more importantly I pray you will discover God is enough for you and you will remember you are His beloved.

Rest in His presence.

Seeing Ourselves Through the Eyes of God – Secure

Seeing Ourselves Through the Eyes of God - Secure - IntentionallyPursuing.com
This year we are looking to the Word of God to uncover truths (50 in all) of how God sees each one of us. If this is your first time here or you simply need a reminder of how God sees you, click here to begin reading through the series.

Seeing Ourselves as Secure Through the Eyes of God

“You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.” Job 11:18 (NIV)

I imagined the perfect afternoon on the water. We were bringing our boat to the place where they said the fish were biting. And while I wasn’t counting on eating fish for dinner, I did expect to get some reading in while the waves gently rocked the boat.

My husband turned off the engine, and we cast our lines and waited for the fish to nibble on the bait. But there was one thing missing, an anchor for the boat. And without an anchor to securely hold the boat in place, we just drifted wherever the current carried us.

I had only read a couple of pages when I was startled by the sound of the engine starting and my husband maneuvering the boat away from the rocks we were drifting towards. I could tell by Tim’s expression we needed to pull our lines and get away quickly. And though Tim drove the boat well away from the rocks, the current was too strong, and it didn’t take long before we were headed that way again.

Our key verse reminds us we are secure because we have hope. And Paul explains our hope is Jesus. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf …” (Hebrews 6:19-20 NIV).

The Greek word for “secure” here is bebaios (Strong’s G949) which is translated as steadfast, stable, and secure. With Jesus as our anchor, we can remain stable no matter the circumstances. We don’t need to fear the waves and rocks that surround us because we know Jesus will hold us firm and secure.  

In fact, 2 Samuel 22:33 says He “keeps my way secure.” We don’t have to worry about losing Jesus as our Anchor. But we can rest secure in Him, knowing we are anchored to Jesus, who is our hope.

Seeing Ourselves Through the Eyes of God - Secure - IntentionallyPursuing.com
I’m no longer scared and unsure because Jesus keeps my way secure.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are my Hope. And with You as my Anchor, I no longer have to feel scared and unsure because You hold me steady and keep my way secure. Help me share my hope in You with those around me. In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.

“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” 2 Samuel 22:33 (NIV)

Image courtesy of franky242 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Rest in His presence.

Psalm 50:23 – Sacrifice of Thanks

Psalm 50:23 - Sacrifice of Thanks - IntentionallyPursuing.com
“‘Anyone who sacrifices thank offerings to me honors me. He makes it possible for me to show him that I am the God who saves.’” Psalm 50:23 (NIRV)

God is good and what He does is good. But sometimes bad things happen because we live in a fallen world. But in the middle of our brokenness, we are to praise Him. In our difficult seasons, we are to bring God a sacrifice of praise.

Merriam defines a sacrifice as “the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.”

“The act of giving up something that you want to keep …” – In the middle of hard times, we will want to hold onto our pain, our anger, our bitterness. But in order to bring a sacrifice of praise to God, we need to do the exact opposite of what our emotions are telling us to do. And we begin by sacrificing our emotions at His feet and then praising Him.

Why do we bring God a sacrifice of thanks?

  1. Bringing God a sacrifice of thanks brings Him honor and glory.
  2. Bringing God a sacrifice of thanks makes it possible for God to save us.
  3. Bringing God a sacrifice of thanks turns our emotions around.

When we sacrifice thank offerings, God says that act “makes it possible for Me to show him I am the God who saves.” Our sacrifices of praise open the door for God’s salvation and deliverance.

He is waiting for us to praise Him in the middle of your troubles. When our circumstances don’t make sense and the road seems long, that is when we need to say “Thank You, God.” We may not understand the journey we are on, but we can trust the One who holds our hand.

And that sacrifice of thanks shows God we trust Him because “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV). Not some things does God work for our good but ALL things. But first we have to open the door for God to work in our lives by praising Him even when things don’t look so good.

But here’s something I love about God: after we take that first step, He gives us strength that carries us through to the end. Here’s a prayer to get you started if you’re in the middle of a difficult season:

Dear Heavenly Father, what I’m going though is hard. And I don’t know how to give You this pain. But I place my life in Your hands and trust Your mighty Name. I know You love me and are walking through this with me. Help me to see You in the middle of my hurt. Help me to see Your hand that reaches out to me. Thank You for using this difficult season to draw me closer to You because I can’t get through this without You. In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re going through a difficult season, I would love to pray for you. You don’t have to leave the details of your hurt. But if you leave your name, I will stand with you and lift you up in prayer.

Rest in His presence.

A Spirit-Filled Home – Week 3

A Spirit-Filled Home - Week 3 - IntentionallyPursuing.com

“Creating a beautiful home starts in your head, not in the furniture store. With any project, you don’t begin by focusing on what you need; you begin with recognizing what you already have.” Myquillyn Smith, The Nesting Place*

First of all, “The Nesting Place” should come with a warning label. Because with every page I read I begin to envision how I will paint, cover, and decorate all the items in my home. I have already warned my husband I am going to need paint from the hardware store soon. The good thing for him is I haven’t gotten far enough in the book to know what kind of paint I want to buy yet : )

That being said before I can begin to recognize the beauty in what I already have, I need to clear out the clutter. And as Ruth is reminding me in the 31 Days to a Clutter Free Life challenge, I need to “keep only items that:

  • Are currently useful
  • Are in good working order
  • I absolutely love and want to display”

I am slowly going through my home and getting rid of items even when the voices in my head say things like “it was expensive” or “a gift” or for whatever “I should like it.” But to make things a little easier to part with, eBay is doing a promo where you can list up to 100 auctions per day for free from October 15 – 21 (not an affiliate link). Maybe this will be the push I need to get rid of a few more items and a way to help me buy some paint : )

Morning, noon, and night the flicker of the light reminds me to pray as I go through my day.

In this week’s challenge to Make Your Home A Haven, Courtney encourages us to:

  • “Keep our candles burning, our prayers going, and add soft music in your home.
  • Choose worship, classical, jazz or another form of peaceful music that the family enjoys. Focus on using peaceful words and maintaining peaceful relationships.
  • Work on gentleness and self-control this week.”

The first part of this challenge is an easy one for me because I keep Christian instrumental music continuously playing in my home. Music soothes my soul and helps me maintain my peace as I go about my day. My favorite instrumental CD is Song of Prayer* by Chad Lawson. (It’s only $.89 on Amazon for the MP3.) I was introduced to Chad Lawson’s music when I did A Confident Heart Bible study with its author Renee Swope.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere.” James 3:17 (TLB)

Keeping a peaceful gentle tongue is a little bit more of a challenge. I can only do that when I maintain a Spirit-controlled tongue. Because when my tongue is flesh controlled, I can be careless with my words and find myself saying things I regret and need to apologize for.

But Philippians 4:5 reminds me the Lord is near. With His help I can be gentle and self-controlled. In the Lord’s strength the law of kindness is always on my tongue (Proverbs 31:26).

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:5 (NIV)

*Amazon affiliate link. Thank you for your support : )

Image courtesy of Rosemary Ratcliff / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Other posts in this series on A Spirit-Filled Home: Week 1, Week 2.

Rest in His presence.

The Two Words He Needs to Hear

The Two Words He Needs to Hear - IntentionallyPursuing.com
Friends, do you know what those two words are? The two words he needs to hear that let him know you love him. Those two little words that mean the world to him.

Those two little words are “thank you.” Of course, we all like to be given a “thank you” now and again, to know we’re appreciated, and that someone values our effort. But according to Shaunti Feldhahn, “Saying ‘thank you’ to a guy is the emotional equivalent of him saying ‘I love you’ to you.”

Now, I can’t even imagine going a day without hearing Tim say “I love you” to me. In fact, it’s so important to me to hear those three little words that we have a special way we say good-bye just in case those three little words are the last words I hear Tim say to me.

But I am sure I have gone a day without saying “thank you” to him, thanking him for all he does for me.

Now, you may have your own list of things you have done for your husband in which you have not received a “thank you” or even the slightest bit of appreciation. I know I can definitely relate. It’s not too often I get a “thank you” for the clean clothes in the closet, the clean dishes in the cupboard, or the freshly laundered towels waiting for him after his shower.

But this message isn’t for the men in our lives. This reminder is for us, you know, the ones who hear those three little words we need to hear : )

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

“Overflowing with thankfulness” – Now, of course this verse is talking about overflowing with thankfulness to God, the Giver of every good and perfect gift. But stop for a moment and imagine a home where you overflow with thanksgiving. The words “please” and “thank you” just seem to flow from your tongue.

Now, maybe you are already expressing your appreciation for your husband. But I know I need a reminder to say “thank you” and tell him the two words he needs to hear.

  • Thank you for filling the car with gas before I need to drive it.
  • Thank you for holding me as I fall asleep.
  • Thank you for working so hard to provide for me.
  • Thank you for protecting me.
  • Thank you for telling me “I love you” every single day.

And if you’re wondering how we say good-bye … “Bye for now. I love you.”

Image courtesy of papaija2008 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Rest in His presence.

Seeing Ourselves Through the Eyes of God – Light

Seeing Ourselves Through the Eyes of God - Light - IntentionallyPursuing.com
This year we are looking to the Word of God to uncover truths (50 in all) of how God sees each one of us. If this is your first time here or you simply need a reminder of how God sees you, click here to begin reading through the series.

Seeing Ourselves as Light Through the Eyes of God

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” John 8:12 (NIV)

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord” (Exodus 34:29 NIV). In fact, after Moses had been on the mountain with the Lord 40 days, his face shone so brightly that he had to cover it with a veil.

After the Sanhedrin questioned and “saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13 NIV).

“They took note that these men had been with Jesus.” When people see me, I want them to note I have been with Jesus. I want them to see the Jesus in me. I want to reflect His light for all the world to see.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV). The word “contemplate here comes from the Greek word katoptrizō (Strong’s G2734) which means “to reflect as a mirror.”

We reflect God’s light when we spend time in His light. When we sit in His presence, we reflect God’s brilliance.

I heard a report recently that said 4½ billion people on this earth right now do not know Jesus. That’s 4½ billion people living in darkness. That’s 4½ billion people who need to see the light of Jesus in us. And we start by reflecting Jesus to those around us.

Seeing Ourselves Through the Eyes of God - Light - IntentionalllyPursuing.com
With the light of Jesus in me, I will shine brightly for all to see.

Dear Heavenly Father, You are the Light this world needs. Thank You for filling me with You so I can shine for You. Help me be a reflection of Your glory that points others to You. In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.

“I am the light of the world … I will let my light shine before others so that they may see my good deeds and glorify my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 14, 16 NIV personalized)

Image courtesy of two bee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Rest in His presence.

Isaiah 48:17 – God’s Best

Isaiah 48:17 - God's Best - IntentionallyPursuing.com

“This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.'” Isaiah 48:17 (NIV)

Sometimes I feel like the child who won’t allow herself to fall asleep because she is afraid of missing out on something. As bedtime draws near, her eyelids begin to droop, but she wiggles her fingers in an effort to keep herself awake because she fears life will pass her by.

I do the same thing when it comes to information. I keep magazines and newsletters piled in baskets. I add podcasts to my playlists and follow blogs and social media accounts. I continue to add books to my Kindle and my bookshelves knowing I don’t have time to read it all.

I believe the lie that I can do it all and have it all. And there’s simply not enough time to take it all in.

And in my effort to consume information, I can miss out on God’s best. I fill my head with knowledge and neglect to live my life.

Now, before we go on to figuring out how to walk in God’s best, let’s figure out what His best is. The word “best” here is the Hebrew word ya`al (Strong’s H3276) which can be translated as “to ascend on high, to rise above; to be useful, to profit, to aid.”

Isaiah 48:18 continues with God’s admonition, “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea” (NIV).

If only we would listen to God …. our lives would be filled with His peace and righteousness. And we would know God’s best for us and walk confidently on the path He has set before us.

Now, God’s best for us is about more than the things that fill our minutes. His best is about more than the our daily to-dos. But when we fill our days and our minutes with God’s best, we prepare our hearts to hear His voice.

When I struggle to take it all in, I live my life running behind. And I find myself rushing past the things that matter most.

God’s best is found in the quiet unrushed moments when we connect with the person in front of us. We find God’s best when we sit quietly in His presence. We allow God’s best to fill our lives when we look to Him to fill our days.

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Rest in His presence.

A Spirit-Filled Home – Week 2

A Spirit-Filled Home Week 2 - IntentionallyPursuing.com

“You don’t have to get perfect to have a pretty house. Most of us simply need to learn to see the beauty in the imperfect. Because life is gloriously messy.” Myquillyn Smith, The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful*

For the month of October I am intentionally creating a Spirit-filled home through removing the clutter and cultivating the fruit of God’s Spirit both in me and my home. At your suggestion I chose to begin reading “The Nesting Place.” And I have loved Myquillyn’s encouragement to see the beauty in the imperfect and to not allow the myth of perfection to keep me from moving forward.

I felt the first signs of fall this Sunday morning when I stepped out of my home into the cool air. I haven’t felt cool air from anywhere but an air conditioner since last spring, so it was a bit of a shock to my system. By the time we left church the sun had done its job of warming everything up, but I think it might be time to put away the sundresses and swimsuits and pull out the sweaters and tights : )

The cooler weather reminds me it is time for the Make Your Home A Haven Fall Challenge. For this week’s challenge Courtney invites us to place a large candle in our homes and “Each time the glimmer of the candle catches your eye, say a prayer for peace and patience within your home.”

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

“What happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life”? You are filled with the fruit of God’s Spirit. You are filled with “… love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control …” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV). I want to be so filled to overflowing with God’s Spirit that people see Him instead of me. 

Those words “everything coming together for good” just stick with me. In order to believe that, I need to trust God is in control. I need to believe He has a plan for me. I have to believe nothing is wasted when I place it in His hands. And when I trust Him, I can rest in Him. And in His presence is the peace my heart craves.

Every afternoon I make myself a cup of tea. Two minutes in the microwave to heat the water and two minutes to allow the tea to seep so I can reuse it for a second cup. Now, those four minutes may not sound like much, but this week I have been using those four minutes to declutter my home. In those few minutes I can clear out a drawer full of old magazines and place them in the recycle bin. In those few minutes I can clear the mail and any other paper clutter from the table.

I need to schedule time this weekend to tackle a few of the bigger declutter projects in the 31 Days to a Clutter Free Life challenge. But instead of seeing myself as behind, I am not allowing the myth of perfection keep me from making progress : )

 *Amazon affiliate link. Thank you for your support : )

Image courtesy of Rosemary Ratcliff / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Other posts in this series on A Spirit-Filled Home: Week 1.

Linked to Thrifty Thursday.

Rest in His presence.

My Husband’s Vision

My Husband's Vision - IntentionallyPursuing.com
This summer while reading the book Women Living Well* by Courtney Joseph of Women Living Well, I participated in “The ‘Completing Him’ Marriage Challenge” Courtney offers in chapters 9 and 10 of the book.

Day 7’s Challenge was: “Ask your husband if he has a vision for your family. Where does he see your family in one year, five years, and ten years? Listen.”

In a desire to fill in my blanks and get my “homework” done before bed, I told my husband I had a quick question for him and then proceeded to read Day 7’s Challenge. Tim informed me that five minutes was not enough time for him to answer a question of that magnitude but invited me to ask him again when we had more time.

So why is it important to know your husband’s vision for your family? His vision will determine his mission in the everyday aspects of life. And our mission as wives is to submit to our husbands as outlined in Ephesians 5:21-24:

“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.” (NLT)

Recently I heard the word “submission” explained in a way that, I believe, illuminates its meaning: to come under the mission. And if we break the word apart, the prefix “sub-” means under like in the word submarine. And Merriam defines the word “mission” as “a task or job that someone is given to do.”

So if our husband’s vision determines his mission, then our mission is to support that vision. For example, if your husband’s vision is to see your family as debt free, then his mission is going to be to reduce spending and/or increase earning. And you might support his efforts by limiting your spending to needs rather than wants and strategically shopping the grocery sales.

If your husband’s vision is to see your family living a healthy lifestyle, then his mission might be to eat healthier foods, exercise as a family, and establish regular bedtimes. And you might support his efforts by adding more vegetable dishes to the menu, walking or biking as a family, and disciplining yourself to be ready to go to bed on time.

This is a message I desperately need. Last night my husband’s mission was for us to go to bed on time. And try as I might, not only was I not ready on time, I got us to bed late because I had an important task I needed to finish on my to-do list that needed to be done before I went to bed.

So I need this reminder to lay aside my plans and come under his mission. Because if my husband’s vision determines his mission, then my mission is to support that vision.

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*Amazon affiliate link. Thank you for your support : )

Rest in His presence.