Love It or List It?

Occasionally, usually while I’m ironing (so you know it’s rare) I will catch an episode of Love It or List It on HGTV.  If you don’t know the premise of the show, it goes something like this:

A family is living in a home that is not functioning for them in their current lifestyle.  So they designate a budget for home renovation expert Hillary to fix their “must-haves,” and so her job is to try and get them to stay there, or love it.  On the other side is the real estate pro David who takes the family to all sorts of new houses to try to get them to move, or leave it.

Without fail the deeper Hillary gets into the renovation of these old houses she encounters MAJOR problems such as faulty wiring that is one spark away from burning the whole house down, plumbing issues that with one more flush would flood the entire bottom story or the worst of them all – the foundation issue.

I’m not sure why people are shocked that a 100 year old foundation is crumbling under them, but they are.  (It’s kind of like my being shocked that a two-piece bathing suit just ain’t gonna happen for this middle-aged body anymore.)  They are genuinely surprised (and mad) when Hillary has to spend most of their budget fixing something that won’t be seen, but is crucial to the stability of the entire home.  These families can choose to ignore Hillary’s advice but without fixing the foundation the house will at some point literally fall apart underneath them.

Foundation

Our spiritual life is the foundation upon which the rest of our life is built.  A lot of people believe God exists, but they don’t know Him, listen to Him or obey His word.  Jesus said, “I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice.  He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock.  When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.  The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”  (Luke 6:47-49)

Jesus never promised us an easy life, free of problems.  But when the storms of life come – and they will come – we can manage them better when our foundation is solid and secure.  We want a builder who will build our home with a strong foundation so that it won’t fall apart in the first rainstorm we have.  Shouldn’t we want that for our lives as well?  Concentrate on building a relationship with Jesus so that when problems arise you will weather those storms standing on the solid foundation you have built together.

Blessings!

Leigh

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.

Wash Your Hands!

One of the big arguments back in Jesus’ day was deciding what was “clean” versus “unclean.” I mean, it was a big deal to them – mainly because they didn’t have a ginormous Whirlpool freezer one the bottom refrigerator, so it was good for God to give them laws about how to prepare for a meal, what to eat (clean vs. unclean), etc. to protect them from all sorts of diseases.

So the Pharisees (the know-it-alls, if you will) were none to happy when they witnessed Jesus’ disciples eating without washing their hands first. (Quite frankly, I don’t know what the big deal was. Every time my son or one of his friends come in my house I immediately yell out, “WASH YOUR HANDS!” right as they grab a refrigerator door handle or dive into a bag of Chewy Chips Ahoys.)

washing hands

Well Jesus had a little “A-ha” moment to pass on to the Pharisees: “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’” (Matthew 15:11)

The disciples just didn’t understand what He was saying.  Sort of a “Do what, Jesus?”   So Jesus says (and I love this first part), “Are you still so dull? Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’” (Matthew 15:16-18)

Oh how true that is. I can wash my hands before every meal, eat only organic produce and fish and totally give up sugar (yeah, I’m laughing at that last one, too) and that may very well make my body clean, but if I’m spewing out gossip to a friend, lying to my husband or cursing at another driver in front of my children I’m not all that clean, am I?

Yes, it’s important to eat healthy foods as much as possible and to wash your hands before every meal. But to be truly “clean” let’s focus on what comes OUT of our mouths just as we focus on what is going IN them.

Blessings!
Leigh

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.

Me versus My Yard

OK, I’m going to be brutally honest – about myself.  I do not like yard work.  Not in the spring, not in the fall, not in the summer, not at all.  I’ve got friends who love to dig and plant and water and weed but that’s just not my gift.  (You know it’s bad when I ask my husband if we can plant some flowers in some pots to give us a little color on the deck and he says, “As long as they are plants you can ignore all summer…”)

So yes, I’m not known for working in the yard, but we had a couple of beds in the back that needed attention – one looked like some kind of Amazon creatures could make a nice life for themselves in it and the other had 2 of the sickliest plants in them I’ve seen in awhile.  So this momma decided we were going to have family work in the yard day, which meant yes, even this momma was going to have to help.

Now I’ll admit my contribution was mainly directing what plants needed to go where and then planting the few containers of self-reliant plants we bought, but then I got on a roll about scrubbing the pollen off the chairs & cushions on our front porch.   I scrubbed and cleaned and then while they were drying I found something I was good at – using the blower!  (It requires little effort and even less ability.)

So after 3 hours of the 3 of us (a 14 year old son is free labor, BTW) uprooting, replanting, trimming, mowing, weeding, blowing and scrubbing we had accomplished our goal of reworking these 2 beds into areas that didn’t look like they belonged in a creepy horror movie.

yard

 Our reworked, simplified plant bed.

And I had accomplished something else:

I was dead dog tired.

I know, I know – don’t laugh! I really did work hard.  And in doing so I had reached a goal but was exhausted (as in, if I sit down in this chair on the deck and go to sleep will my husband put me in the bed or just leave me here until the morning?).

As Christians, we can work and work and work on a project, a mission, a person until we are just plumb tired.  And we’ve all had situations that were so bad we felt like we just didn’t have the strength to go on another minute, another day.  But thankfully we serve a God who never gets tired AND He fills us with strength just when feel we have none left.

“God doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.  And he knows everything, inside and out.  He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts.  For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall.  But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.”  (Isaiah 40:28-31, The Message)

Fresh strength.  Just the sound of that gives me energy!  So, here’s the question:  are you exhausted?  Don’t try to go it alone.  Go get what only God can give you – fresh strength to continue, no matter what you face.

Blessings!
Leigh

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.

 

 

Just Say No

Years ago when my children were much younger I had a serious problem. There was one word I was unable to utter when asked to help out, participate in or head up a program.

You know the word: No.

I ran Vacation Bible School for 2 years straight, taught Sunday School, led Bible studies. I was all up in the school’s PTO, ran the prep sales and hauled cheerleaders to every football & basketball game for years. I volunteered through the Junior League and taught at the Christian Women’s Job Corp. Yep, I was busy, busy BUSY!

busy-is-a-drug-300x278

I’m not touting my resume so you’ll think I was some kind of awesome multi-tasker because honestly many days and/or nights I was just flat-out exhausted. Exhausted from the time commitments, the problems, the feeling that there was always more to do.

My self-justification sounded something like this: “If I don’t do it, who will?”

Then a friend shared this little acronym with me: BUSY is Being Under Satan’s Yoke.

You see, if satan can’t get you to be bad, he’ll get you to be busy. And we think because we are super involved in church or school it’s all good. I couldn’t say no to something at church – well, that’s just un-Christian! And only the parents like me who really care about the school get involved in
the PTO.

At least that’s what I used to think.

Age brings wisdom. These days before I commit to something I actually pray first (Lord, is this what you want me to be involved in?) instead of last (Lord, why did I say yes? Please get me out of this!) and I am much less stressed, much more fulfilled. I’ve learned that just because something is a good cause does not mean I have to be all up in it. Satan will use “good” distractions to take your focus off of what God’s will for your life is and get you so tired and strung out you couldn’t see God’s will for your life even if He texted it straight to you during a meeting on the upcoming church bake sale or school fundraiser (“Hey Leigh, it’s God. Wish you had asked me first…).

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

Jesus does not want you exhausted. And I’ve learned I’m not nearly as effective for Jesus if I’m doing 12 tasks halfway in a constant state of exhaustion. I’m better off committing to one or two and going all in with my energy and enthusiasm.

Pray about your schedule, your commitments. Commit to the ones to which you hear the Holy Spirit leading you. Then let the rest go and trust me – others will come along to take your place and carry on the good work you started.

Bessings!
Leigh

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.

Do Your Own Laundry

Mommas do a lot for their children.   It’s part of God’s plan for us mommas.  But all mommas know this:  one day those children are going to grow up and move out (hopefully, right?) and they need to know how to function on their own.

About the time my daughter was a freshman in high school I figured if my children knew 5 basic functions they could make it on their own out in the big, cruel world one day:

  1. Know how to clean a toilet (I had actually taught both of them that little task years before);
  2. Know how to tell time (on a clock with hands, for heaven’s sake just in case);
  3. Know how to make change (which clearly has escaped most people working in the fast food industry today);
  4. Know how to balance a checkbook (and not just look at the end balance on a statement – hey everybody – there is a difference); and
  5. Know how to do their own laundry.

I’m very well aware that when they leave this nest they may not ever do any of those, but let’s get one thing straight – they won’t leave this nest without knowing how to do them.

And now here’s a little secret about me:  I enjoy #5.

(Loud gasp can now be heard for miles…)

See it’s a control thing.  I like sorting the whites into their pile, the darks that need to be cold vs. the ones that need to be washed on hot in their piles (I have a son who plays sports, remember?) reds go in by themselves, and as my mother would say, the “unmentionables” get their own pile.  I sort, I wash, I fold all my piles away with a sense of accomplishment and order.  (But don’t get me started on ironing – I HATE ironing – that’s all there is to that. Downy’s Wrinkle Releaser has truly changed my life for the better…)

So back to teaching the finer art of laundry to my daughter.  In the beginning it bugged me the way she did laundry – her piles weren’t the same as the ones I would make and she refused to dry any t-shirt so she would hang them on the shelf in the laundry room, the curtain rods in the kitchen, the shower rod in her bathroom, the clothes hanger outside, etc.

Laundry

It bugged me until one day I realized how much freedom I now had because I wasn’t a slave to her laundry anymore.

Cheer skirt dirty from last week?  Not my problem.  Favorite t-shirt with a salsa stain on it?  Too bad.  I realized it’s OK – no it’s actually AWESOME – to let go of her laundry.  But it took me surrendering the task to her, and then trusting her to do it even if she does it different than I would do it before I could scream, “Free at last, free at last!  Thank the Lord I’m free at last!”

True freedom is available in our spiritual lives as well. “The word ‘surrender’ brings to mind many pictures, perhaps a white flag waving above the sails of a ship or a troop of outnumbered soldiers with their hands raised.  Often, we associate it with defeat, but when it comes to a life with Christ, the act of giving up control to Him is actually the beginning of our freedom.” (Living In Freedom Everyday, Church of the Highlands)

And to truly surrender to God, you must trust Him.  So if you don’t trust Him, start there.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  (Proverbs 3:5-6)  Work on one area of your life at a time, turning control over to Him, trusting Him and then enjoying the result of your obedience.

The result is a something unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced.

It’s blessed freedom!

Bessings!
Leigh

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.

Just Sell the Dang Car

For some unknown reason my daddy decided that when his daughters learned to drive we would both learn how to drive a stick shift (a 5 speed, if you will).

Which would have come in handy if I was ever abandoned on a tractor out in the middle of a hayfield with no civilization in sight.

Which never happened. What did happen – at least the way I remember it – is this:

My daddy bought me a car after I turned 16. It was a BEAUTIFUL 1980 Honda Civic hatchback in a LOVELY rusty-orange color.

 Honda

I loved it, except for one little problem. I couldn’t drive it.

Daddy took me out a time or two, trying to show me how to ease off the clutch and move the handle into the next gear, but all I seemed to be able to do was fling my foot off the clutch, jam it into gear and throw him into the dashboard.

And let’s not forget I grew up in Birmingham – home of places such as Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, etc…   Trying to stop mid-way up one of those infamous hills, put the car in 1st gear, ease off the clutch and actually go forward proved to be way harder than I thought. More than once I had to wave the driver behind me to go around my little Civic out of fear I would roll backwards and onto the top of their car.

So after a few outings my dad had enough. One day he and I drove to my high school, my mother following in her car. He got out of my car, got into my mother’s car and left me there. All alone. No cell phone. Just me, a 5-speed and a lot of hills between where I was and where I wanted to be.

Now I don’t remember exactly how long it took me to get home, but it should have been 10, maybe 15 minutes. I vaguely remember it being closer to 2 hours. I finally got there all right – mad, crying, red-faced, & furious. I told my daddy to sell that car and I didn’t care if I ever had a car (OK, so I was slightly dramatic back in the day…).

But guess what? He didn’t sell the car. And I eventually mastered driving a 5-speed. My daddy took me out of my comfort zone and got me to try something I didn’t want to try and I actually ended up good at it.

God does that, too. He took a stutterer and used him to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. He used a murderer to write about 2/3 of the New Testament. God often takes us out of our comfort zones and uses us in ways we can’t even imagine. I think of friends who never thought they would be traveling to foreign countries and ministering to children in those places, or others who didn’t think they would be heading up a local ministry. And me? Who ever thought I would write a little story every day hoping to spread the Gospel?

God wants to use you, too. He wants to stretch you and mold you and get you to do things you can’t even imagine doing. So when you hear that voice in your head (yes, that would be the Holy Spirit if you are seeking God’s will for your life) and you hear Him speaking, try a “Yes, Lord!” instead of a “You got the wrong girl (or guy)!” response.

Get in the car. Listen to His guidance. Then drive.

Blessings!
Leigh

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.

 

Moving Forward

I stood in her room, alone.  She’s here for a few short days then gone for a few long weeks back to college – again.

So I stood in her room, alone.

Back in the fall these times in her room were typically accompanied by some tears, and an enormous feeling of loss.  It’s how I imagine I would feel if a surgeon removed a vital part of my anatomy, like a hand.  Or my ear.   Or my entire abdomen region.

 Surgeon

Because when you have a family, it just doesn’t feel right when one isn’t where she’s supposed to be.  And it doesn’t matter if you’re single, married or have children.  When someone you love is “missing” from the picture you have two choices:  live stuck in the past wishing for days gone by or appreciate the past & look forward to the future.

So today as I stood in her room, alone, I thanked God for all the fun we had together as a family over Easter weekend.  I prayed for her safety going back to school.  I smiled as I thought about her watching 5 Disney movies over the weekend while snuggling with her kitty.

I took a minute to appreciate the past but not get stuck there.  No laying on the floor, crying so hard that tears, drool and such would run down my face and get wiped away by my sleeve (something my son would have done around age 7).  No wishing I was younger, that she was younger, that we were all about 10 years younger…

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “’For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’”

The more I seek Jesus, the more I rest in the assurance of His plans for me and for my family.  And I’m not talking prosperity gospel, because hard times will come.  But I trust His plans for me are out there, just waiting for me to go make them happen.  And I just can’t move forward if I’m stuck in the past, in her room, all alone.

So today I spent a little less time in her room, and a little more time on the phone and texting some friends about some plans we have for the future.

Appreciate your past but don’t get stuck in it.  Move on to the future God has planned for you.

Bessings!
Leigh

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.