Making a List; Dreading It Twice

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Well, it’s official. We’ve completed the first stage of our moving to move to move process. We’ve set up a temporary home in the basement of my in-laws’ house. So far, it’s been a place to sleep and not much else as we’ve spent the majority of our time packing up the rest of our belongings and beginning the repairs and refreshes on our house.

After talking with two different realtors about the best way to approach the selling of our home, we determined we would need to do some significant updates throughout the property to get top dollar for our home. As the realtors walked through our house, I jotted down their suggestions on a notepad. By the end of the tour, I had nearly a full page of projects like remodeling the bathrooms, putting new cabinet doors in the kitchen, painting all the walls and trim, landscaping, refinishing the floors, and on and on.  

Over the next few days, Jason and I priced out all the items on the list and balked at the dollar signs swimming before us, not to mention the time and effort in store for us. That list has become my nemesis. It keeps me up at night. It runs through my mind on an endless loop. It causes my stomach to churn and my head to pound. So much to do. So little energy. Yikes!!!!

Jason, on the other hand, has pretty much ignored the list. After seeing what needed to be done and what the cost would be, he set to work. He views the list as a guide, a tool—nothing more. I, however, have allowed it to run my life and dictate my attitude. For the past week, I’ve felt as if the world—at least, my world—was spinning out of control. After making my list and dreading it twice (an hour), I went about my work as if it were all up to me. I forgot that I’m not the one in control, and better yet, I don’t have to be.

From the beginning of time, God knew this day would come. He has seen how this will all work out, and He has promised strength to those who wait on Him and trust in Him (Isaiah 40:31). He’s got this! Sure, things may seem like a big mess, but they only seem that way. God has it all control, so there’s no reason for me to dread. Besides, dread and worry only steal the strength and energy I need to accomplish the tasks before me.

Lists are useful and sometimes necessary, but when they become all-consuming, they’ve overstepped their bounds. I’ve given my list to God and will let Him “worry” about the details.  After all, I’ve got plenty to do to keep me busy.

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
— I Peter 5:7

Green Is Not Your Color

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Guys, you’re welcome to read today’s devotion, but since we’ve just passed Mother’s Day, I’d like to direct some thoughts toward my female readers.

Okay, ladies, by a show of hands, how many of you heard some reference to the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 this weekend?  Yes, I see those hands.  And how many of you cringed a bit as the passage was read?  Yeah, me too.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love God’s Word, and I know it is perfect, holy, and right in every way.  It is full of encouragement and strength, but there’s just something about Proverbs 31 that tends to make me feel inferior and even downright lazy.  Can I get an “Amen”?

Of course, it doesn’t help any that when I read it, I immediately think of a real-life example that seems to fit the virtuous woman in every way.  I’m speaking of Joanna Gaines.  For those who don’t recognize the name, she (along with her husband, Chip) is the star of the popular show, Fixer Upper. In addition to being a star, she is a mom of five who owns multiple businesses and seems to excel at anything she sets her hands to.

In her “spare time,” Joanna grows her own vegetables and herbs, helps out on the family farm, and bakes delicious treats for friends and family alike.  Not only is she talented, but she’s beautiful too — the perfect hair, teeth, skin tone, and figure.  To be honest, as much I as enjoy watching Fixer Upper, I tend to come away feeling a bit green. . .with envy.

Why do we ladies do that?  Why do we insist on comparing ourselves to others?  Don’t we realize that God made us who we are for a reason?  Why is it so difficult for us to understand that we’re unique in our own way?

I wish I had answers to those questions, but I’m afraid I don’t.  The truth is, I fall into the pit of envy more often than I can count, especially now that my health is holding me back in so many ways.  I look at those around me who keep immaculate homes, cook gourmet meals, and raise their families, all while holding down a grueling job, and think What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I be a better wife, housekeeper, cook, etc.?  Then, I start to feel sorry for my dear husband, and before long, I conclude that if I feel like I’m letting him down as a helpmeet, he must believe the same about me (even though he has NEVER said or done anything to make me think that.)

It’s not Jason that causes the chaos in my thoughts and turns my self-pity into self-loathing.  It’s envy.  Envy is dangerous, and it is a powerful weapon in Satan’s arsenal. . .especially when dealing with us, ladies.  Many, many verses in the Bible address envy, but this one grabs my attention every time:

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
— James 3:16

Ouch!  Envy doesn’t stop at making me feel like a loser.  It progresses into bitterness, resentment, and so much more.  It is the seed from which confusion and evil works grow.  Envy leads people to do stupid things and to cause great havoc not just in their own lives, but in the lives of all those around them.  It causes strife, heartache, and in the end, despite the progression, envy remains.  Never satisfied.  Never quenched.  Instead, it grows bigger and bigger until we, too, are never satisfied.  We want more.  We want something different.  We become so blinded to our strengths and blessings that all we can focus on is how we feel we’re lacking.  And we carry that sense of “not enough” with us into all our relationships, creating a burden for those we love.

I’ll be the first to admit that stopping envy in its tracks is laborious.  It’s so easy to allow those thoughts to creep in and take root, but we must be on guard and catch those nasty weeds before they take over the garden of our heart.  One verse that helps me do that is found in my favorite book of the Bible.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
— Psalm 139:14

Speaking this truth aloud sends the enemy and his weapon of envy fleeing in the opposite direction.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  That is what God has to say about me, and God is never wrong.  His works are marvelous, and I am one of His works; therefore, I must be marvelous.  

Now, here comes the tricky part:  my soul knows it.  I struggle with that a bit, but repetition aids learning.  So, I keep telling myself this truth as many times as it takes until it sinks in:  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  God doesn’t make junk.  He doesn’t make worthless individuals.  I am not lazy.  I have a health condition, and that’s a different story entirely.  I may not be able to do what others can do, but they have no idea how to be me either.  Besides, I can only see what others want me to see.  I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.  Sure, their home may be immaculate, but is it full of joy?  Which is more important?  I have nothing to prove to anyone, even myself.  God’s work is marvelous, and I am privileged to be His work.  And He’s also promised He’s not done with me yet, so I can take comfort in knowing I’m a marvelous work in progress.

My dear lady friend, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are beautiful, marvelous, and unique.  Don’t let envy steal your joy, strength, or peace.  Don’t allow it to cause strife and division in your home and relationships.  Stop it in its tracks by speaking God’s truth aloud.  Use the Scripture above or find your own and take it to heart until your soul knows the truth—You are amazing!

Looking Unto the Maker

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And it shall come to pass, that thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate. And he discovered the covering of Judah, and thou didst look in that day to the armour of the house of the forest. Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many: and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool. And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall. Ye made also a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool: but ye have not looked unto the maker thereof, neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago.
— Isaiah 22:7-11

In this passage, we see Jerusalem preparing for an upcoming battle. Knowing the enemy would soon be upon them, they did everything they could think of to build up their defenses. They sealed up the breaches. They gathered together water so they could have nourishment within the walls of safety. They even broke down their houses so they could use the materials to build up and repair the city walls. Yes, it seems like they had everything in hand, like they were doing a good work. But they left out the most important thing, and truthfully, the only thing that mattered at this point—they forgot to look to their Maker.

The reason they were under attack in the first place was that they had turned their backs on God. God was using tribulation to draw them back to Him, but instead, they turned to their own plans and remedies. Unfortunately, I can relate to that part.  

Often, when faced with difficulty, I set about “fixing” the problem myself. I create a plan, draw out the steps, assess the issue from various angles, and prepare for battle. But through it all, I, too, forget the most important thing of all—looking to my Maker. He is the ultimate Craftsman. He knows all things, so who better to seek counsel from? But, no, in my pride, I go it alone. . .and I fail!

When we fail to seek God in our lives, not only is it a sure-fire way to trouble, it’s a show of disrespect.  In a sense, we’re saying we don’t need Him, that we can handle things on our own. We’re refusing His offer of help and belittling His ability to do what we can’t.  In short, it’s a slap in God’s face.

God longs to help His children.  Over and over again in the Bible, He urges us to call on Him. Will we do that, or will we insist—like the people of Jerusalem—to forsake our Maker and try to solve our problems on our own? I’ll tell you this:  it didn’t work out so well for Jerusalem, and it won’t work out well for us either. Let’s trust God with our problems and leave our security in His hands. He’s much better suited for the job than we are.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
— Proverbs 3:5-7