Spring Cleaning

There’s something about this weather that puts me in the mood to deep clean and organize my house. Otherwise known as spring cleaning. This was a tradition instilled in me since I was a young child. Though, this practice has been around for hundreds of years and common in many cultures.

There are known health benefits to spring cleaning- both physically and psychologically.

I’ve always supposed my, or my family’s, physical health to be compromised by allergies or asthma during this time of the year. When, in fact, we have become victim to the effects of toxins and pollutants in our very home. “Even the Environmental Protection Agency admits that indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than the outdoors. If the average person spends up to 90 percent of their time indoors, we are breathing in dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold, bug skeletons, and toxins…”- The Huffington Post. Probably makes you want to stop reading this and go clean, right? Clearly, a deep-cleaning would benefit our physical health in a mighty way.

Organizing and de-cluttering create avenues for psychological benefits. To name a few, having less stress, gaining focus, and receiving a positive mindset are included. When relieving my home of unnecessary things by trashing or donating, I feel as if I’m embarking on a new beginning! Sounds cheesy, right? But, think about it… as they say, ‘out with the old and in with the new’. When we get rid of the old, we also rid ourselves of sometimes meaningless connections that come along with it. When we organize to make room for the new, we are preparing the way for creating more meaningful connections.

Now, imagine all the benefits that could come if we would do a little “spring cleaning” in our hearts.

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Over time, some toxins and pollutants make their way into our hearts. Maybe as a result of lifestyle choices, relationships with certain individuals, or idolizing events or objects over God. Dirt and grime don’t necessarily come into our home in just one day. The same occurs with our hearts. Over time, these contaminants slowly take over. Clutter builds up and we become unorganized in our daily walk with God. It may be that we no longer give God control of our heart or designate Him as our first love.

Our hearts could use some deep cleaning, organizing, and de-cluttering. We will definitely receive both physical and psychological benefits in doing so.

First, we need to place God upon the throne of our heart. He should always be our number one. Giving Him precedence over everyone and everything with our utmost love. As 1 Peter 3:15 (NLT) proclaims, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”

Next, we should ask God to show us what toxins and pollutants need to be removed from our hearts. Allow God to conduct a deep-cleaning. “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.”- Proverbs 14:30 (NLT). 

Finally, we will definitely have to choose to abandon some things. We must get rid of the meaningless old clutter, and allow God to replace it with His more meaningful connection to our hearts. “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”- Proverbs 4:23 (NLT). 

I feel a good days worth of cleaning coordinates well with opening up my windows to let fresh air and sunshine in. Let’s choose to open up the windows of our hearts. Allow the very breath of God to rejuvenate you, and His Son to shine within you!


The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”- Job 33:4 (NIV)

Begging in Prayer

I often compare the relationship of children with their caregivers and the relationship I have with my heavenly Father. How children communicate with their caregivers is quite indicative of how I’ve communicated with God.

One common communication behavior of a child is begging. Sometimes their desires are so intense they feel they have to beg. Children can be relentless, often demanding for an answer now! But, if a caregiver denied them what they wanted it was because they didn’t need it, it was unsafe for them, or they could benefit from it at a later time.

I have often exhibited these same relentless, demanding behaviors when praying or begging God! I want an answer now! But, am I truly opening up my heart to hear God’s response? Maybe God knows I don’t need what I’m asking from Him. Maybe God’s telling me that my desires are unsafe for myself or others. Maybe God has decided that I could benefit more from it at a later point in time.

As a little child matures, they learn to better accept (or at least tolerate) their caregiver’s response. As I mature more in Christ, I can better accept the response of my loving Father. No matter what His answer may be.

In scripture, Jesus instructs me to pray by simply asking. But God’s response will be in accordance with His will and His timing.

  • Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.- Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)
  • Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.– Mark 11:24 (NIV)
  • And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.- John 14:13-14 (NIV)

In all of these scriptural guidelines, ask translates to beg, call for, crave, desire, require. It’s human nature for us to beg. But, begging should not be mistaken for being demanding. It should not foster a selfish attitude if I do not get an answer immediately. It should not cause me to internalize negative feelings about my own worth or the value of my prayers.

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I have taken some time to seek guidelines regarding the attitude of my heart when praying to my heavenly Father. I have no doubt that you, too, will benefit.

  1. Acknowledge His power. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.- Ephesians 1:19-20 (NLT)
  2. Understand He hears me. I will answer them before they even call to me.
    While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their
    prayers!- Isaiah 65:24 (NLT)
  3. Believe nothing is too big or too small. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.– Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)
  4. Have faith the slightest probability becomes the greatest possibility. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”– Matthew 19:26 (NLT)
  5. Be confident (free and fearless)And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.- 1 John 5:14-15 (NLT)
  6. Be humble (submit self in a lowly spirit). So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.- 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NLT)
  7. Never give up in prayer and gratitude. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.- 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (NLT)

God’s word is our instruction manual. He has given us a clear guideline for how we should pray. Sure, we may feel the need to beg. As long as our attitudes are pure and our hearts dwell on these scriptures, we can more easily accept the response of our heavenly Father. Just like a matured child!


“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”- Romans 12:12 (NIV)

Darkness Is to Blame

It is inevitable that we will suffer from some hardship over the course of our lifetime. When I was just a young girl, I became a victim to sexual abuse. Statistics overwhelmingly prove that I am not alone in this. I never understood the capacity of what had happened until I became older. It wasn’t until I was college-age that I truly processed the events that occurred.

This began a vicious cycle- an entrapment- of really unwise decisions. I made myself even more of a target. I thought to myself that my purity was taken, my morals were useless, and my value was damaged. Thus, creating for myself a lifestyle of ruin.

I made careless choices. I had bad dating experiences. I had ill-feelings about my self-worth.

After six years of college, I went on to begin my career. I met my, now, husband. I pursued my faith, again. I became more mature with knowledge and with God’s truth. I learned to forgive my perpetrator. I saw the value in forgiving myself for the unwise decisions I made. I became free under Christ and by God’s grace.

One of the things I disliked hearing regarding what had happened in my life was when someone placed blame on God. “How could God let something like that happen to an innocent child”? I refuse to believe that our loving Father would purposely let that happen. Nor, is there any scripture to back up that claim.

What occurred, stemmed from a single person’s selfish desires. An alluring deception from their childhood abuse. Allowing (their) self to be overcome with the evil ways from the ruler of this world, Satan himself.

My question, then, is how could anyone blame God for evil when evil is from His adversary, the devil. “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.”- Isaiah 5:20 (NLT). 

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Simply put, evil is darkness. 1 John 1:5 expresses, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” If something hurts you, it is evil and it is not of God. Darkness is to blame.

I believe that God let my unfortunate circumstance be used for good, for His purposes and intentions (Romans 8:28). That’s truth. I believe that I am meant to share this message. Not for personal gain or for sympathy. Instead, to help someone overcome their vicious cycle- their entrapment.

Abuse comes in many forms. Pains, hurts, and bad experiences are not limited to these. If you are also a victim of darkness, I want to encourage you with hope for a better tomorrow.

God gives us the ability to sniff out and snuff out darkness. Let’s equip ourselves with scripture to identify the deceit of evil. Let’s extinguish evil with the light of Jesus that releases power to overcome it.

  • Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.- Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT)
  • Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.- Galatians 5:17-18 (NLT)
  • The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.- John 1:4-5 (NLT)
  • And I will rescue you… Yes, I am sending you… to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.- Acts 26:17-18 (NLT)

Yes, there is evil in this world. And it takes its form as darkness. We must not allow ourselves to continue to be entrapped by it. Be free. Follow God’s truth. Allow His light to guide you and to shine within you!


For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.”- Ephesians 5:8-9 (NLT) 

Priorities

There are certain aspects of my life that demand a need to be prioritized. Maybe that’s just my personal desire to be super organized. I tend to thrive on lists of  “to-do’s” and feel a great sense of accomplishment when they’re checked off as “done”!

When it comes to household chores I prioritize tasks with my family’s needs in mind. When I go grocery shopping I prioritize spending for my family’s needs over our wants (as extras). When planning short trips to visit people, I prioritize immediate family before extended family and friends.

Not only do I structure my daily activities, but I structure the things in my heart. Those things that I love also become a system of priorities.

When I wake for the day, my priorities are as such: I read devotions. I check my phone for missed calls or texts. I browse through new emails. I scan all social media notifications (Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc). If I have time or am moved to do so, I write in a journal or type my thoughts out in a draft form.

I truly thought that by putting my daily devotions first was giving God my genuine time. Now, I love God very much. I felt that I was doing enough to justify my love for Him. But what I came to realize is that my devotions are all about me. Devotions about marriage, parenting, bettering myself, and so on.

The rest of my daily priorities continue to be about me, or about caring for my family or our home. While none of these things are a destructive way life, I am not fully committing my heart to God and what His word tells me to do.

God provides us the Old Testament law with this first commandment, “You must not have any other god but me.” (Exodus 20:3). Other gods can mean deities, rulers, idols, or that which we worship. In the New Testament, “Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38). 

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My attempt at committing my time to God falls short to my human nature. The things I prioritize have become my idols. Serving myself and others has come before serving God.

Jesus advises us in John 14:15, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” I surely do love God, but I have not been completely obedient to these commandments.

I even go to God in prayer, asking Him for things for myself or others. Again, not giving Him His rightful place in my heart. There’s an incredible truth to the lyrics of “More and More of You” by the band Selah. They declare, “Oh, forgive us all for seeking Your hand and not Your face“.

How, then, can I expect so much from God without making Him my greatest priority in life? God is more than deserving of my worship, time, and commitment. Rather than having the mindset, “what can God do for me”, I must shift my thoughts to what can I do for God”. I must not always demand for His hand to give. I must truly learn what it means for me to give by seeking His face.

Dear friend, if this is all too familiar I ask you to join me. Let’s make a committment to seek God’s face, to keep all of His commandments, and to make Him our first priority. Let us agree together in prayer:

Lord, I confess that I have diminished your rightful place in my heart. I have not completely made you my greatest priority. Right now, I repent from this selfish nature. I thank You for freely lavishing me with Your loving forgiveness and unending grace whenever I ask. May Your Spirit guide me in wisdom and understanding to know how to truly seek Your face. And it is in Your name that I pray. Amen! 


Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”- Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV)

Expectations

I am a person who has high expectations for people and experiences. I feel that people may not see the potential in themselves that I see. I feel the need to constantly be doing something to get the most out of my time. But, I often long for something more.

Many times, I’m left disappointed from failed expectations. I’ve pondered what someone could, or should, do differently. I’ve wondered why after I’ve achieved my experiences I still feel a void.

To name a few:

I’ve had expectations for my husband. That he would do things for me or our home without my prompting. When those expectations are not fulfilled, I’m left feeling angry.

I’ve had expectations for my friends. That they would be there for me more often- providing social gratification. When those expectations aren’t met, I’m left feeling lonely and unwanted.

I have expectations for my child. That he will stay on a path of purity, choosing right over wrong. If that expectation doesn’t get met, I will feel like I’ve failed or that I could’ve done something more.

I’ve had expectations for my job. That my income would supplement our family to buy the things we need or want. When those expectations were exceeded by more spending on needs than earning, I was left with bitterness and resentment.

I’ve had expectations for food. That the sweet and savory taste of unhealthy eats would provide me a fulfilling satisfaction. When those expectations fall short, I’m left feeling regret and shame.

You see, dear friend, expectations for things of this world will always fail us. Maybe not right away. But it eventually catches up. It will lead to disappointment and hurts that are not of God.

The truth found in scripture reveals, My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26). If only I would put my high expectations in God, the giver of life and of all good things.- “how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). 

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There are a few variations of meaning for ‘expectation’. The Hebrew transliteration is tiqvah- meaning hope, or a thing longed for. The Greek transliteration is apokaradokia- meaning persistent, or intense anticipation. Applying this literally means to watch with head erect, to direct attention to anything, to wait for in suspense.

I must turn my expectant thoughts on God. I must hope and long for Him to meet my needs. I must persistently and intensely anticipate the good that will come when I focus on Him.

God is Sovereign and His promises are unconditional. Instead of focusing my expectations on people and experiences, I will focus on God and His truths:

  • When you came down long ago, you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations… For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!- Isaiah 64:3-4 (NLT)
  • For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus… which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth... It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth…- Colossians 1:4-6 (NLT)

  • All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.- 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NLT)

My friend, you may have expectations very similar to mine. Maybe yours are to a lesser or a greater degree. Maybe yours is in a phone call, a good report, a new home, or even as simple as expecting to have a good day.

It’s not bad to have expectations. Just remember the source. Things of this earth will fail us. Instead put your expectations in God, the only source to provide anything we could hope for, and more! 


Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”- Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)