Giving Our Account

About 7.5 years ago, the Lord did a miracle to place our family in our home.  It was over our price range, but He invited us in and worked grace through two banks to give us a short sale (where a loss is taken just to get the property off of their books) within our budget.  And the work began.  While the potential of the house was great, the condition of it wasn’t.  Broken light bulb in a socket, sprinkler system out of commission, bushes grown into barricades,  a deluge from a skylight, and so on.  One night early on I prayed for direction whether to use our savings to replace the teenage heating and cooling system or to begin a kitchen restyle.  That very week the furnace began making an alarming noise and the repairman gave us his “kindly sober” look while asking us to say our final goodbyes.  We’ve torn down wallpaper, painted top to bottom, updated fixtures and functions,  ripped out and replanted, until our pillows whispered sweet nothings.  Last year we made it through the kitchen makeover  with a lot of help, and actually enjoyed the Costa Rican cabina feeling of doing life in our kitchenette/dining room/living room space and washing dishes in the bathroom sink.  While the place we call home is still far from perfect, we’ve come a long way by investing our time, talents, and treasure.  To say that I’m attached is an understatement.

A few months back I was lamenting the approaching “for sale” sign to the Lord.  “But God, you did a miracle to get us in this house.”  His sweet whisper immediately answered, “Yes.  And do you think I only have one house-miracle for you?” With a smile I conceded that He was big enough to do as many as He wanted to.  How often I forget.

He spoke again as I was reading in Matthew 25 the other day.  You’ll probably recognize the story.  A man goes on a trip and gives his servants different portions of silver to take care of while he’s gone.  After a long time he returns and gathers them to each give an account of how they had used his money.   Those who had made a good return on his investment received praise and the commendation: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.  Let’s celebrate together” Matthew 25: 21, 23 NLT!

His whisper on my heart was simple, yet profound.  How much easier to bear His yoke, how much lighter to carry His burden when I remember that this roof and everything under it has always belonged to Him.  He’s been letting us tend it, and now He is calling us to give our account.  We have been diligent with this thing that is small from an eternal perspective.  Now He has in mind for us new responsibility: to care for sweet brown eyes in Costa Rica and nurture fellow believers as they step out of their country and culture to serve.  Kingdom festivities are in the works.  So I nudge my heart to release its grasp on this box of treasure in the prairie and take hold of the greater plan that He has for our family in the land of rainforests.  The Master is worthy.  Let’s celebrate together.

A little instruction on the fun picture gallery of our Kitchen Remodel above:  Hover your mouse pointer on a picture to see its caption.  Click on a picture to enter the full-size slideshow display.

Homespun

I did the dance of joy in the laundry aisle at HyVee the other day. What was the occasion? I found the ingredients for a make-your-own laundry detergent recipe. I am a devout do-it-yourself-er. I love to figure out how to make things, grow things & organize things. Okay, I love doing things with things! The Lord has given us a lot of things to work with. Some of it I do to save money. Some of it I do because I just like to.

I was delighting in my new financial prowess when I decided to calculate up how much money this new craft was going to save me. I haven’t measured out the exact yields I’m going to get from the boxes of supplies, but I’ve heard an estimate of 2 cents a load for this new laundry magic. Let’s see, cheap detergent (which I buy) is about 10 cents a load, and if I do 5 loads a week, that will save me about. . .$20.80 a year. $20 a year? That’s it? I’m totally deflated. Now, it will take me about two hours to make a year’s worth of laundry detergent, so that’s 10 bucks an hour, but somehow I expected it to come up to more.

I sank down into my prayer chair to wrestle this out with the Lord. Lord, I make my own bread, I grow my own vegetables, I’m going to make my own laundry detergent. Why do I want to do all this stuff? I hear his question on my heart: Does doing these things make you more worthy? I know the answer there. NO. My Sara Lee chomping friends are just as important to you, Lord, as I am. Next round: Does doing all this stuff make you less worthy? Ooh, a tough one. I’ve often wondered if I should be doing other things with my time. Planning intricate activities to do with my kids, perhaps. Being more creative with my homeschool curriculum. Maybe just sitting for hours in the Lord’s presence. But I still know the right answer. Umm, No, Lord, it doesn’t make me less worthy.

And so the Lord gently revealed to me that it’s good for me to do life this way because it’s the way He made my heart. It brings me joy to do things from scratch, and it blesses my family and those around me. I spent a lot of time thinking about the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. The master gave each servant an amount of talents (actually a sum of money) to put to use during his absence. He didn’t tell them how to use it, and I’m sure that each of the faithful servants multiplied his talents in a unique way. The lazy servant buried his talent in the ground because he was afraid to use it, lest he lose it. In the end, he lost it anyway. So I feel encouraged to keep living out my do-it-yourself life with joy, as unto the Lord. And I smile to myself as I think that the lazy servant absolutely could not have been a gardener.