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Spiritual Housekeeping…

Spiritual Housekeeping pic for blog 4-24-20

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

Confession time…every once in a while I watch the TV show “Hoarders: Buried Alive”. It’s awful and ALWAYS gets me up and motivated to clean house and find a few things to put in their place, give away, or throw away! I’ve seen enough of these shows that when I heard a quick sentence in a bible study that I was in the other day about spiritual housekeeping, immediately I saw a rapid-fire vision of mental images of hoarder households.

Those images are disgusting and beyond sorrowful!

So what do we do with this? I’ll tell you what.

We’ve got to clean the rooms of our spiritual home so the Holy Spirit can roam freely to do His will!

Just as the person in the hoarder tv-stories, there is always some kind of traumatic event that has occurred in their life. It always centers around tremendous loss. So many times these people know on some level that they hoard because of this loss. But they gave in to it and didn’t, or felt they couldn’t stop the devastating behavior.

In the house of a hoarder, neither the homeowner nor any visitor can safely navigate the home with stepping on trash and other discarded items. The creation of the hoard stems from an incredibly false sense of providing comfort and protection.

The people who hoarded mostly trash and stray animals were usually the ones who had been left by a parent as a child through death or divorce. Or they had been in an abusive relationship that ended in death or divorce. The stories the hoarder shares would be heartbreaking as they recalled moments where their abusive spouse would refer to them as trash. They felt they had been thrown away by that person who was supposed to love them. So instead of throwing things away that are truly trash, they just keep it. They don’t want to hurt anyone or anything by determining what is trash or not.

And the piles grow.

I noticed that the people who are hoarders of things are ones who used the high of purchasing items and “collecting” things to replace feeling unloved. They loved their things and the higher the piles became, the more they felt surrounded by love; by things that wouldn’t leave them.

We do this same thing on a spiritual level and if we are not careful, we will have a spiritual house that is filled to the brim with trash and unnecessary stuff.

Is any of this resonating with you today?

Have you been made to feel as though you were no more important than a bin of rubbish? Or a pile of insignificant things?

My friends, that is the job of the enemy. He wants your spiritual home cluttered about with the unclean and the unnecessary so that you don’t have room for Jesus to do the beautiful work in your life He intends.

I know this may be hard to take in because it is something that the Lord has been working intently on my heart as well – as to the task of cleaning the house of my own soul.

Are you feeling a bit uncomfortable right about now? It’s okay if you are – that’s the glory of the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart to face the things in your life that you have just been piling up in the corner hoping they would go away on their own.

As you know, it won’t.

It’s going to take hard work but here’s the blessing of it all ~ we don’t have to do this alone. We have the gift of the Comforter in the form of the Holy Spirit and He is ready and more than able to clean out the junk and the trash of your life. The Lord is so gracious to be passionate about showing us the joy and peace He wants to bless us with.

But just like the hoarders on TV, they have to come to a final point where they say out loud, “I want your help. I don’t want to live like this anymore. Let’s throw it all out.” We too have to say the same thing to the Lord – OUT LOUD – that we want and need His help. He will walk alongside us to accomplish this arduous task.

Getting rid of the hoard is full of emotional pain, but the ones who stay committed to the clean up thrive in orderly freedom!

Whether the hoard is physical or spiritual, we have the tools that we need to win the battle!

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 is so encouraging,

“The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete.”

The rooms of our mind and corridors of our soul can be lush soil where we plant God’s Word and what grows is the fruit that can nourish our life and the lives of those around us. Or it can be a vacant plot of land that is unkempt without any growth.

Think about times in your life where you have agreed with the lies of the enemy to make you feel unimportant and unloved, and how that transferred into bringing discontent and darkness into our hearts and our homes.

Now think about moments in your life where you have walked with a friend through a difficult time in their life, pointing them to the One who can heal their hurts. It’s a beautiful gift that we can give to one another when Christ is present in our life. When we are filled with God’s presence we can pour out His joy and peace. We have contentment and grace leads our actions. We are strong to move through this life with the power of the God who created the Universe because our spiritual home is filled with His light and salvation!

One of my favorite scripture verses is Zephaniah 3:17,

“The Lord your God is in your midst, A Warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with joy; He will be quiet in His love [making no mention of your past sins], He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

Is this not incredible! Every bit of condemnation is from the enemy. Just as every decree of goodness and love is from the Lord. God’s Word promises us that when the Lord looks upon our face, the person He created us to be is what He sees. He delights in the creation of YOU! The Lord has phenomenal purposes for your life and there are things that only you can do.

When you are having moments of doubt, remember that He is fighting for you! The Lord is singing over you and rejoicing in your life!

So get that dustbuster out. Bring a trash bag or three. Clear out the cobwebs of your soul and open the window so the light of Jesus can shine through.

Keep up with your spiritual housekeeping so the Holy Spirit is free to roam!

Blessings,

René

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

A New Calling…

Today, I am living in an “in-between” frame of mind. It is Wednesday morning in Shanghai and it is early Tuesday evening at home in SoCal. My mind is in two places at once and so is my heart.

I had to write this quick before the memory subsides…that is, if it will.  I wasn’t even sure that I was going to post this for “all to see” but that is the point of sharing what God has laid on your heart.  Let others know so that they can partner with you!  Our stories and our experiences are meant to be shared.

I left the hotel after having breakfast with Tony (my man!), to walk down to the local Starbucks. Yeah, I know….but sometimes you just need the smells & tastes from home.

As I stood outside at the corner waiting to cross the street (or should I say, waiting to play tag with the myriad of cars, pedestrians, scooters, and bicyclists) I was struck by this thought….

“How many of these people know the Lord.” 

I can tell you that I normally don’t have that question running through my mind unless I’m in a situation that I’ve prepared myself to be in. Does that resonate with anyone else? I think living in America, I just figure that everyone at least knows who God and Jesus are. They may or may not believe in Him as their Savior, but they have heard His name.  I mean, I am a “tag along” on Tony’s business trip, not on a purposeful, planned for, missions trip.

The next moment, the Holy Spirit begins to whisper a directive to my heart…a promise of sorts. One that I’m totally unprepared to hear. 

“These are my people and I am calling you to love them. I am calling you to be available to serve my people in ways you have only begun to imagine. I am calling you to love my people around this world who are desperately seeking Me but don’t know how to find me.”

I began to feel completely undone in my heart, the tears started to well up in my eyes, and I was both thrilled and terrified to begin to ponder what all this means.  So I guess I was terrifrilled?

So, not wanting to scare anyone around me as I walked down the street, I let my heart ask the questions.  I was already crying, talking out loud would bring way more attention than I wanted to garner.

“What are You talking about Lord?” 

~ I’m telling you to love my people. You have Me so you have the ability to do that.

“How am I supposed to do what you’re asking?”

~ I gave you the gift of writing and conversation, so use that.

“Do you mean I’m literally going to travel the world?”

~ You have a passport & a 10 year travel visa to China, don’t you?

….ps….I love it when the Holy Spirit has a sense of humor in His answers…

“Okay, what do I do now?”

~ Just listen to My voice and you will know My plans for you.

Um….okay….

But being me, I want to know and I want to have it all figured out…now. 

I will tell you that even now, sitting at a window table in Starbucks, the tears are once again pouring down my cheeks. My heartbeat quickens as I think again about what I feel God just told me. And once again I think, “But what does that mean??” 

The Lord is so good…because as soon as I ask that again, He begins to bring memories to my mind of past conversations.

I’m remembering a conversation I had this past September with a sweet godly woman, Mrs. Jan Yaxley, as I sat with her in a lovely restaurant overlooking a small pond that was mostly covered with water lilies. I met her because I had the privilege to travel with Tony on a business trip to Snells Beach, New Zealand.  {seriously…it’s so cute!}

Her husband Trevor, owns a Christian animation company that Tony is connected to via one of their films.  On one of our last days in town, she asked to take me to lunch. It was one of those moments where you meet someone for the first time but feel like you’ve known them your whole life.  

We talked about our kids, stages of life, and what we saw the Lord doing in our life.

If you know me, you know that I love to write and speak/teach within church ministries to women of all ages. My hearts desire is to be a published author and speak to women all over. Admittedly, when I shared this with her, what I meant by “all over” was to be just around the country…the US…safe places. 

She said to me, “Why not the world? What about China?”

{insert sound of tires screeching here}

Wait now…what?!

I just about spit out my coffee! What in the world was she talking about?? What do I want to do that for? I’m a stay at home mom with stuff to do at home. {side note…don’t let anyone make you feel like you are “just” a mom….it’s the hardest job!}

You see, she & her husband have contacts all over the world including China. With their company, they do a lot of business with people in China. That coupled with knowing that Tony travels to China sometimes, she said, “The next time Tony goes to China, you should go with Him. God has a plan and I see you speaking to women all over the world about how much God loves them & wants to pursue them.”

Women from all over the world? Well, living in Southern California, that is definitely possible because of the melting pot of culture we live in. So, okay, sure…women from all over the world.  Check!

To be honest, when Tony found out that I could accompany him on this current trip to Shanghai, I didn’t remember that conversation with this lovely woman. I thought… “Yay…free trip to China? Let me go get my travel visa!”

Which brings another memory swirling to my mind.

When I picked up my Visa at a little Chinese travel office in Pasadena, the man & woman that were there were so happy to see me. I was greeted with smiling faces, “We have been waiting for you Miss René.” What? They are just being good business owners. But still…it totally caught me off guard. I got my wallet out of my purse to show them my ID & receipt of purchase, they checked all documents, and handed me my passport back. 

It was open to the page where my new 10 year visa had been secured. The gentleman said, “You have many trips ahead of you. Please enjoy my country and my people.”  

Um….okay….

Is that something he said to everyone? The woman behind the desk seemed just as enthusiastic in wishing me many good travels ahead.

Back to reality….My heart is once again struck with this memory, more tears are threatening to fall down my face. 

Isn’t that basically what the Holy Spirit just whispered to my heart a short bit ago as I decided to take a walk instead of going back to my room to read?

“These are my people and I’m calling you to love them.”

Right before we left for this trip, I took a friend out for a pre-birthday lunch at one of my favorite places in San Marino called Julienne’s. {If you go…buy a loaf of their Rosemary Currant bread…it’s amazing!!}

I was telling her about a funny thing that had come up for the trip. Tony actually has events & meetings set up with three different companies & the schedule was packed! So much so that he was double-booked one of the mornings. Lo and behold, the contact for one of the meetings asked if I would go in Tony’s place. Well sure, happy to help out. 

Then a few days later, I found out that I was expected to give a speech…in front of 50 members of the press, and about 150 other attendees. Good thing I’m not afraid of public speaking!! Thank you Jesus!!

I shared this with my friend at our lunch, and jokingly said, “My first speaking gig in China.” Haha!! She finished her bite of meatloaf and said, “Why are you laughing. It could be the first of many. You don’t know what God is going to do.” My friend is one who hears so clearly from the Lord, speaks with conviction, and does so carefully as to only share what she hears the Holy Spirit says to her. When she has prophetically spoken over me, I know it’s something to pay attention to.

I didn’t end up giving my 5 minute speech but that was fine.  However, I felt a stirring in my heart during the mtg, but didn’t know why…until I heard God tell me that Tony & I would soon visit this city. Really? Me too? That doesn’t make any sense?  Tony is the business guy. What will I be there for?

Nonetheless, I did my job as VP of our Animation company (Tony Bancroft, Inc.), and all was good. Then our contact came over to me & said, “Come over here. Someone wants to ask you a question.” Turns out that “someone” was a local newscaster from the city that was hosting the press conference; and along with my interpreter, we had about a 5-7 minute interview. All I know is, there were far more then 200 people who saw that.

What does God have planned??? 

I don’t have anymore to go on right now, but I tell you what…I’m gonna be paying extra attention from now on!  I never have really had an experience where God’s plan has been perfectly laid out before me to follow.

I’m not nervous about the future. I have lived enough of life’s joys and challenges, that I EXPECT to be surprised by God and how He chooses to work.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit sometimes I wished that He worked according to my time table; but I’m always more grateful that He doesn’t. My journey of faith has been one of great triumphs and desperately low defeats. But my faith has grown stronger with each step. Strong enough that even when I get freaked out about life, I know beyond a shadow of doubt, that His plans are the best…that His direction for me is the most fruitful.

So now, I wait. And I watch. And I dig deeper into God’s word to receive His direction.

I share this with you to ask you to join me in prayer ~ to see God’s path & to boldly walk through doors of opportunity, to love His people all over the world. 

Thank you for reading this & thank you for your prayers!!

Blessings,

Rene’

Street in China by hotel

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Seeing the Delight in being Set Apart

Does this title seem like an oxymoron to you?  It does to me ~ and I’m truly beginning to love how God has been working in my heart in the past few years.  Showing me delight in things I previously found absolutely frightening.  He is so good and so patient as I learn these truths.

What does it mean to be set-apart?  As I searched these words in scripture, there are about 60 verses that touch on the subject.  Some of them deal with animals, unclean things, or cities.  However, most of these verses deal with people and how the Lord has set us apart.  Being “set apart” is not for only certain people.  It is not for those who’ve gone through seminary or special theology classes…it is for all who call on the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  Let me share a few with you here ~

Leviticus 20:26, “You are to be holy to Me because I, Yahweh, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be Mine.”

Psalm 4:3, “Know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for Himself; the Lord will hear when I call to Him.”

Jeremiah 1:5, “I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Galatians 1:15, “But when God, who from my birth set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased”

I Peter 1:2-3, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

I think the verse in Leviticus gives us a beautiful picture of who we are to the Lord.  The phrasing is very clear, that we have done nothing on our own to receive the bounty of God’s love.  Simply because HE is Holy, we are called holy and called to be set apart.  We are separate from those who do not have a relationship with the Lord.  This does not mean we are better than others.  But it does give us an amazing privilege ~ to call the Almighty Creator of the Universe, our Father.  We can call Him our friend, our confidante, our protector, our healer, our Savior.

God is PLEASED to call us His own ~ He yearns to reconcile us back to Him.

I know I wrote a bit about being “set apart” in my last blog, but felt like there was more to say.  It can be our delight to be set apart.  When we allow God to lead us into the calling He personally and specifically places on our life, being set apart doesn’t look lonely ~ it looks whole and full!  This is not the game of kickball in 2nd grade where you got picked last…or not at all.  God chose YOU to be right where you are at this very moment in time because YOU are the one He wants to be a light to the neighbors, family, or co-workers that surround you.  You have a unique job that no one else can quite fill the way you do.  Dive in and see what He has planned for you!

Sometimes, being set apart can feel like you are alone in the quest that God has given you.  Especially if you are the only Christian in your home, work place, dorm room, or in your family. But you are not by yourself ~ the Lord is with you and because He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever,” (Hebrews 13:8), He will never leave you or forget about you.

So take a moment today and ask God what it is that He has set you apart for.  What is it that He has been whispering to your heart to do?  Take time in your prayers to seek Him and not say a word ~ yep…just quietly listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and not give a list of wants and needs.  God is faithful to answer you when you call.

It is always safe to go where God is.

Psalm 4 verse 3

Blessings,

René