In September of last year my little family of three took on a fixer upper on six wooded acres. Oh, the excitement of owning a home again!
For weeks after we signed on the dotted line, we scrubbed (I MEAN SCRUBBED) and hauled, scraped off wallpaper and tinkered long, long days to make the place livable. The house had been closed up and neglected for years, but we shined her up and moved ourselves in.
We're in, but the house isn't perfect.
There are big holes in some of the drywall. A few of the rooms only have sub-floor. The wallpaper left on walls is torn and stained. The master bathroom shower is crumbling. There are awkward spots, like the fireplace opening, that have me trying out interesting decorating techniques. The white tile floor that runs through the kitchen and entryway is cracking and impossible to keep clean.
There are moments when I long to snap my fingers to have everything the way I'd like it and not in this in-between stage. But that's not a reality. Home renovations and updates take time and money and patience. So much patience.
One of my favorite decorating-extraordinaire ladies, Myquillum Smith (The Nester!) has made it her mission to encourage others to embrace the imperfections of our homes. She wants us to "join her on her quest to love the incomplete and unfinished and mismatched areas of life and home - because after all, it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful."
It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.
Be still my heart, I am SO on board with that!
So I embrace the flaws with gusto and celebrate the process of making a house a home.
I place a favorite hymnal-page wreath over my faux fireplace and smile as I sweep the broom over the not-quite-ever-white tile. I throw a pretty rug onto a bare floor and hang a framed picture over torn wallpapered walls.
As a homemaker, I have the joy and privilege and responsibility of helping set the tone of my home. So I strive to create a space that's a calm, comfortable, safe place for my dear ones. A place to hang our hats, lay down our heads, and put out jars with hand-plucked flowers. A place to rest and recharge to live and serve others well.
This house isn't perfect, but perfect for us and we are overwhelmingly thankful for every inch of it. The pretty corners and the chaos and the possibilities.
And the life moments we get to spend here together in this place.
Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful blessing!
This beach was different than any other. The entire area was covered with black basalt rocks and sand. The water lapping up on the beach cast a curious dark hue on the shore. The gray sky and gray water combined to make a one-dimensional horizon.
I bent down to feel the black sand and the cool water lapped at my shoes. It was a peaceful place. We were at the Sea of Galilee in Tabgha, Israel. This is the historical site of Jesus' reinstating Peter after his denial.
Slowly the words of scripture came back. In my mind’s eye I tried to hear these two in dialogue, recorded in John 21:
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Ouch! What a question. Peter’s heart must have been stinging as he remembered the denial.
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
The water softly lapped the shore. I imagined the silence while Peter tried to make sense out of Jesus’ words.
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Twice! Not again, Lord. You must know how this hurts me.
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
Feed and care for others, Lord? What about me? I need care, too. Your love and your care.
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Peter was hurt, it says, even while knowing that he had denied the Lord three times. He knew that he had fled from his Lord the night of the trial. He knew that he had wept bitterly after hearing the rooster.
At that moment the black sand became a symbol of the bleakness of my sin. It reminded me of my many denials, too. My heart grieved for what Peter’s denial had cost Jesus, but more so what it had cost Peter - a dialogue of this kind with Jesus, the kind that exposes just how much he knows about us, and yet just how deep his love goes to restore.
Notice how lovingly Jesus calls Peter back. He did not remind Peter of his denial. He simply asks for a confession of love, three times no less. One time for each denial.
Peter more than recovered from this interaction, in fact, he went on to carry out Jesus’ command to become a shepherd of souls. He nobly died a martyr's death. This interaction gives me hope.
I left that beach with a new understanding of my Lord’s gentleness, kindness, and loving nature. He calls back those who have denied him. He doesn’t rub in our selfish snubs. He merely wants reassurance of our steadfast love.
"Do you love me more than these?"
Jesus wants to know that we, like Peter, love him more than these. These things around us, these homes, these traditions, these friends, these family members, these accolades we crave from the world, these skills, these jobs.
The question every believer must consider is this: how will we answer? Do we truly love him more than these?
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. Lamentaions 3:22-23
Did you make any goals for the New Year?
I made a few-- some of them more important than others. The most crucial goal for me is "Get Organized." I waste far too much time on things that don't deserve it. I also forget so many things, especially related to school and my daughter is only in 4K. She doesn't even go to school five days a week yet. I decided that I need a plan of action. Things will only get busier around here as the children grow and get involved in activities, not to mention I have my own schedule with deadlines to meet. I need to get this figured out, and the time is now! So I bought myself a bulletin board, a fancy, pretty planner, and a calendar that makes me laugh when I look at it. (Maybe you caught my Instagram post last week.) I've pinned my daughters school notes up on my bulletin board. I've filled out some to-do lists and my weekly goals in my planner. I've noted our schedule on our chicken calendar.
Don't you love that feeling?
That feeling of a fresh start.
Now you obviously don't need to wait for a new year to start accomplishing new goals and making changes in your life, but a new year lends itself to making the process easier. You're able to put the old year behind you. Forget about what didn't work. Forget about the mistakes. You are starting with a clean slate. It is a new year after all.
Among my thoughts of a newly organized life, the books I want to read, the exercise I want to pursue, and so forth, I couldn't help but think of how lucky we are as children of God. We get a fresh start every. single. morning.
So when you are feeling down on your day (or your year even), take a moment to remember just that. God has forgiven you. He has forgiven you when you lack trust in Him. He has forgiven you when you missed the opportunity to witness. He has forgiven you when you got unjustly angry with your children or spouse. In fact, no matter what horrible things you managed to do today, he has forgiven you.
That fresh start feeling doesn't have to fade away.
Lamentations 3:22-23: "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."