Cleaning House and Home

I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to cleaning my house. I like order and organization. I like rooms to be spotless. Although, I’ve learned quickly that this is near impossible with a toddler. And dare I say, my husband may be even more of a fanatic than I. Don’t get me wrong, though. There are days where I am absolutely burnt out from life’s demands.

Usually, the start of a new week is when things are all well. Come Thursday, I feel dread about my daily chores. Then, come Friday, I just feel like giving up. And many times I do just that!

However, giving up one day from cleaning does not go unnoticed. The inhabitants in our home- including myself, my husband, our toddler boy, our cat, and our dog- leave a lot of substances behind. Our house becomes noticeably unclean. Then, my fanatic cleaning tendencies come rushing back. I inevitably feel regret for ever giving up that single day.

This weekly struggle of success and failure in cleaning my house had me considering my spiritual cleanliness. I was reminded that my body is, too, a home. Not only that, but it is my responsibility to keep my inner man clean.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV) 

The same fanatic cleaning tendencies I have for my physical house are the same methods I’ve used when caring for my spiritual being. Some days, I’m eager to rid myself of anything that is unclean [sin]. Other days, I dread facing it. Until one day, I actually give up!

Surely that doesn’t go unnoticed either! For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.- Luke 8:17 (NIV). Any unclean thing I allow to take up residence in my body will most definitely be revealed in due time. How dare I ask the Holy Spirit- so spotless- to indwell in a home that is unclean?!

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This home, my body, needs to be cleaned, daily. And often throughout the day. I must resolve to keep myself spotless. No, I cannot do it on my own. Because in my own flesh I will continually struggle with the regret that comes from failures. But, I can be successful by the power of God which dwells in me through the Holy Spirit.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life..- Philippians 2:13-16 (NLT)

Living [clean, innocent lives] is as simple as asking God to reveal to me those things which are unclean. Then, I can ask Him for His forgiveness and repent of those sins. Personally, I like to utilize a psalm as my prayer to God to reveal to me that which is unclean:

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.- Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV) 

Yes, I must continually seek God whenever I feel dread or feel like giving up. I am promised that He will “keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast” (Isaiah 26:3). It is He who gives me the strength to be successful with my tasks when my flesh feels all too weak. 


I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.“- Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV) 

Surrendering My Control

Due to circumstances throughout my childhood, I suffered through years of feeling broken and damaged. Because of this, I was very vulnerable to more pain. I didn’t much care for the feeling of helplessness caused by the magnitude of my external circumstances. So, I decided when I turned 18 years old that no one would be able to control me from that day forward.

Since I grew up bound by tough restrictions, I rarely got to experience many worldly things. Despite this fact, what I had experienced through my pain was all I needed to know. There wouldn’t be one thing that would change my mind in owning control. Not even a conversation with my much older, knowledgeable and wiser self.

So, I began my new chapter of owning control. However, this was only portrayed by my external self. Internally, I was full of pride. I determined that people would either love me or hate me. If they chose the latter, then I would show them the exit door from my life.

Due to this change, I began to build walls around my heart. In an attempt to be less vulnerable, I resolved to let very few people get to know who I really was. In doing so, I allowed my external self to be more vulnerable to a world of dangers- caused by drinking and night stays with strangers. Trying to take control of my external circumstances caused my brokenness and damage to be much worse than before.

At the core of my being I was indeed helpless. The deeper root of these pains were caused by something I had not yet come to realize. The truth: I felt rejected by a dad that just couldn’t fulfill his roll of being a father. That rejection fueled my search for attention in all the wrong places. It created a longing for a false love. It desired for approval from others.

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Fast forward in time to nearly a decade later, I began my search to get back to God’s heart. I studied what it truly meant to be set apart from the world and to live for Him. I asked God for deeper knowledge and understanding from His Word, which is THE Truth. Here is what I learned:

  • To let go of control and surrender all of my past to the One who created me. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.- James 4:7 (NIV)
  • When I accepted Jesus into my heart and asked to be made anew by the blood of His sacrifice, my old self diedI have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.- Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
  • I’m not the sum of that younger version of myself. No longer do I have to live under the scrutiny of shame, regret and condemnation. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.- Romans 8:1-2 (NIV)
  • I can walk in freedom, because Christ was my ransom, and He paid in full my atonement when He died on the cross. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.- Galatians 3:22 (NLT) 
  • God can make good from any painful situation. I now understand that He can create purpose through my past rejectionFor Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’- Acts 4:11 (NLT)

This whole process of learning to surrender my control can be summed up in one picture. I imagine myself as clay and God as my Potter. Untouched clay appears to be a heaping mess. If I, the clay, attempt to control my external circumstances, I would still be a heaping mess, and then some! Oh, but to give up control to the hands of my Potter- He is continually regulating those external circumstances. He has shaved off that mess of who I once was and made me a new creation.

In Christ, my new creation is a self that is righteous, blameless, and holy. The only thing that is required for me to control?!.. simply believing in my Creator.


“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ … This is what the Lord says— the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: “Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands? I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it.”- Isaiah 45:9-10, 12 (NLT)

Good Intentions

When I look back at my childhood, I perceive myself as being a relatively good kid. I was responsible, helpful, and kind. I had exemplary grades in school. I tried my hardest to follow instilled morals and values.

However, I remember lying to others to stay out of trouble, intentionally omitted details, and wanted to keep up appearances. At a young age I often blamed my sister {so sorry!} for faults I actually did. As I got older, I would tell my parents minimal details about where I was going or who I was going to be with so as to justify my case. Even older yet, I lied to my parents as to why I was out later than my typical work hours suggested.

I had good intentions of being well behaved and doing right. But, I was ultimately acting out of disobedience. My parents were my authority and had set rules for me. Even though lying doesn’t seem all that bad, it still went against their teachings. Once I became a victim to “little white lies”, it escalated into more habitual acts of disobedience.

The whole picture of disobedience traces back to the fall of Lucifer, who I now know as Satan. Lucifer was an angel who was overcome with pride. He vowed, I will make myself like the Most High!- Isaiah 14:14. He wanted power and authority over God. (Full Reference: Isaiah 14:12-21) Hence, disobeying the Creator that brought him into being.

With this very motivation of pride and Satan’s use of lies, we see the first human, Eve, falling into his temptation.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast.. which the Lord God had made. And he said.., “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said.., “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said.., “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.- Genesis 3:1-6

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Eve, and her husband, Adam, were more than just relatively good people. They were made without sin, and in the image of God (Gen. 1:27)! God, was their Authority, who made one rule, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil..” (Genesis‬ 2:16-17).

The pride that propelled Satan’s fall, and the use of his deceptive ways ultimately lured Eve into her act of disobedience. Then, the same with Adam. Their good intentions of being well and doing right was now overcome with pride. Although they had much, they were deceived into having more food, that it was more pleasant, and they would become more wise.

My habitual lies were acts of disobedience- which were motivated by my own sinful pride. Although I had much in my favor, I was deceived in thinking I needed more rewards, being more justified, and faking to meet more expectations.

I’m happy to proclaim that lying is no longer a sinful act for me. In fact, I despise it. But, now, it’s easy to understand that any sinful act I commit is ultimately motivated by pride. It’s what caused the fall of my enemy, who lures me into any act of disobedience to God.

However, there’s a fine line between overcoming or being overcome. I have the choice to obey or disobey. And by being obedient to God’s truths I am given hope and promises for overcoming pride!

  • Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly.. He who heeds the word wisely will find good..- Proverbs 16:18-20 (NKJV)

  • ..And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.- 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
  • If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.- 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

May I truly learn to despise all sinful acts and always seek to obey my Heavenly Father.


If you love Me, keep My commandments.”- John 14:15 (NKJV) 

Reputations

When I was middle school aged, I had a reputation for being the good girl. There were kids from my own class trying to bully me into cursing, partying, or being promiscuous. When I did not oblige to their prompts I was labeled, “Miss Goody Two Shoes”. Indeed, I was proud of having been taught good morals, the importance in valuing myself, and striving to be set apart from the crowd.

However, given more time, this label eventually wore me down. I began to care all too much about what others thought of me. I wanted to fit in the crowd, and my lifestyle took some drastic changes. Upon entering college, those very same behaviors that I stood against became my new persona. I hid my good morals, no longer valued myself, and became a part of the crowd.

In retrospect, I can see how I explored having both the good girl and bad girl reputation. From experience, I realize the hurt that comes from either label- because I allowed it. Even though they were completely different experiences, I felt a sense of embarrassment, shame, and pride from both sides.

Since I know what this hurt feels like, how could I possibly give a label regarding someone else’s reputation? Oh, yes, I have been guilty of this. If someone’s lifestyle hasn’t resembled mine, or doesn’t align with the way I view things then I have been quick to judge. Once I begin to utter words about any individual to another person, I have created a portrayal of their reputation.

I see, now, how there are two sides to someone’s reputation. The one side that we work so hard to portray for ourselves by our lifestyle. And, the other side portrayed by someone else’s words about our lifestyle.

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Jesus, knew this all too well. When he walked this earth, he spoke and lived out the gospel. Based upon his ministry, he had a good reputation:

 ..Jesus.. asked his disciples,“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”- Matthew 16:13&16

And by this same ministry, he had a bad reputation:

..he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law.– Matthew 16:21

But, he never allowed those labels to define who he was. They didn’t make or break his identity. He lived to fulfill prophecy, to please his Father, to share the gospel with the world, to be love toward all mankind- just to name a few. Therefore, it is to my benefit to never allow labels to make or break me; whether good or bad. I am to strive to live like Jesus. And, that work will truly portray who I really am- a beloved, grace-given child of the One, true God.

But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.- 1 John 2:5&6 

Yes, I want to have a good reputation. But, the labels others place on me are no longer of importance. I know who I am in Christ. And I strive to live by his morals, seek insight of how he values me, and answer to his calling that sets me apart.

Almighty Father, I ask forgiveness for those times when I have placed a label upon someone else. Help me to ‘stop passing judgment on another that I may not put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way’ of another (Romans 14:13). I also ask that You help me to forgive others who have hurt me with their labels. I pray Your blessings pour over those ‘who have cursed me’, and I pray for ‘those who have mistreated me’ that they truly be brought to Your salvation (Luke 6:28). I realize now, that I do not need the words of others, good or bad, to fulfill a sense of satisfaction in me. It is Your unfailing love that truly satisfies (Psalms 90:14). Lord, help me to ‘remain faithful to Your teachings’. For it is ‘by Your truth that I am set free’ (John 8:31&32). I praise You, Father, for Your promise and faithfulness ‘to teach, correct, and train me in righteousness’ (2 Timothy 3:16). In Jesus’ holy name I pray, Amen. 


Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.”- Proverbs 3:3-4 (NLT)

Bursting at the Seams

Imagine a single drawer filing cabinet for organizing and storing your mail. Do you think one drawer could fit it all? I snicker when I think about my student loan bills alone. [Although, it’s really not that funny at all.] I am willing to conclude that even those wouldn’t fit into a single drawer.

When attempting to close it, I envision the outer surface bursting at the seams. One day, the drawer will not be able take any more pressure. Then, all those documents explode out, leaving an [unorganized] mess. Needless to say, this thought leaves me feeling uncomfortable- since my personality is one that strives for organization.

Unfortunately, I’ve come to realize that this is exactly the picture of the condition of my heart at times. I tend to ‘stuff’ things. Hardships come, bad news is revealed, offenses from others are had, daily happenings that are out of my control take place. Then, I tuck them all nice and neat into my heart.

Outwardly, I look okay for a period of time. But, my heart begins bursting at the seams. Until one day, I cannot take any more pressure. Then, all those difficult circumstances explode out of my heart.

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.-
Luke 8:17 (NIV)

The difference, here, is my unorganized mess typically gets projected onto a certain someone. What once were my things to ‘stuff’ are now someone else’s things that they have retrieved after the explosion. Needless to say, this behavior leaves me feeling uncomfortable.

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However, not a single individual is meant to take the brunt of my explosive mess. And, truthfully, I’m not meant to ‘stuff’ the difficulties of my circumstances. What God intends is for me to give it all up to Him.

Could this really be true?! Yes! The God of love and goodness wants me to give him my messes before they reach my heart!

Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.- Psalms 55:22  (NKJV)

The meaning of “cast”, here, is to throw off and to commit to His care. So, now, I envision myself with my hands held open. They are ready to receive whatever comes my way- good or bad. Once I’m handed the bad, I am reassured to immediately throw off those things and to commit them to God’s care.

This simple, yet overlooked instruction will prevent me from ‘stuffing’ and causing a cataclysmic explosion. As a result, my heart will be kept clean. Outwardly, I will be more than just okay. I will be sustained and immovable, just as I am promised.


“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”- Luke 6:45 (NIV)