The Things She Taught Me

Legacy:  This word is frequently used, but do we personally consider what our own legacy will be?  Dictionary.com defines legacy as:  anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor:

Anything is a big word – blessing or curse falls under that, think about it!  What are you handing down by result of your daily choices and reactions to life?

I had the opportunity to share a bit about my dear mom in law at her funeral this week
, and realized along the way that her legacy was built every time we got together.  I have been asked to share the list I read at the funeral, so here it is:

Priceless Things I learned From My Mom-in-Law:

  • Write your thank you notes immediately
  • Use your special silver & china pieces frequently
  • Tradition is important
  • Invite all your family & friends (and their family & friends) to your Christmas dinners and pull out the linen, silver & china.
  • Count all your silver utensils after a dinner – before the trash goes out
  • Cats are people, too
  • Ask your mom in law for help with your children
  • A fussing baby needs lots of pats on the back
  • Hungry toddlers need to be fed at bite to eat at 5pm, while waiting for dad to come home from work
  • Every kitchen needs a Cuisinart & a copy of The Plantation Cookbook
  • Red beans & rice are best the second day
  • Hand pound the meat for tender Grits & Grillades
  • Boil the shrimp heads to make the best broth for shrimp creole
  • A great cup of coffee starts with a thick, strong brew
  • Coffee tastes best in a china cup with a saucer
  • Don’t fuss over a broken dish or glass – things happen
  • Schedule times to get together with your friends.
  • Share your favorite places with your extended family & friends – places like City Park, the Zoo, Soutea-cup_1798148bthern Yacht Club, Montreat, & Pass Christian
  • Talk about your past with your family
  • Write down your story, even if no one is listening
  • Hand write your letters & notes.
  • Don’t set your life by medical timelines
  • Impacting others is not just for when you are young
  • After age 80 or even age 90, don’t hesitate to: take art lessons, teach art lessons, buy designer clothes & shoes (on clearance), get your hair cut & colored, get a manicure, wear makeup, go places
  • Go on spiritual retreats with your church friends
  • Pray
  • If a family member calls for prayer, pray harder – even if it means all night. Miracles happen when a Granny prays all night.

My prayer is that this personal list of my recollections of the legacy I received from my mom-in-law will encourage you to work on your legacy today!

Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. – Ephesians 4:29b NLT

Blessings -

Gwen

Love Letters from God

My husband slid the worn stationary box across the table and told me I would love what was inside.  He’d discovered the box tucked away in the attic not too long after we had moved into our house in Boulder, Colorado.  I opened the box and found a preserved collection of love letters from the summer of 1955, in date order with a tally on top of how many the two lovers had personally written.  What a precious possession! Unfortunately, the names on the letters were not people we knew.  Our young children soon demanded my attention and I placed the special box on a closet shelf.

Fast-forward three years, we had received a job offer with a move back to Louisiana bringing us closer to grandparents, and had begun packing the house. My husband found the forgotten box and again put it in front of me, telling me that we were not packing it. I could not imagine tossing the precious letters. One of our elderly neighbors recognized the names as the original owners of our home in 1965 – it was now 1992. The best news was their current address was just across town!

My plan was to deliver the letters within our last two weeks in town,  but it came down to the last day.  I drove to the address and was determined to tuck the box by the front door if no one was home. I rang the doorbell and heard the door open.  I held the box behind my back and introduced myself.  She responded that my address was her first house many years ago.  When I told her I had a surprise and produced the box, she begged to know who told me  –  I had no idea what she was talking about.  “Today is our 35th wedding anniversary and these will be the best present anyone could have given us!”  I stepped back in amazement. God, Creator of the Universe,  had used me to deliver a special gift to these precious people on this special day. These were truly love letters from God.  Can you imagine reading love letters written to you from more than 35 years earlier?

We each have the opportunity to read our own love letters from God as we open our Bibles daily.  Through multiple authors scattered over a timeline of years,  His love message to us rings true.

Valentine’s Day may have been a tough one this year.  You may be marking the day without a special loved one or celebrating your singleness with an empty heart.  You may feel that no one cares.

No matter the circumstances,  God’s love letters apply.  Read His letters daily, as if you were separated from a loved one and finally receiving correspondence.  Soak the message up, memorize the words.  They will be as a balm to your soul.  One of my favorites is reading and knowing, that I am the apple of God’s eye!  (Psalm 17:8)

These selections are love letters from God written years ago for you to read today:

You are the apple of My eye, ( your name )  Psalm 17:8

I have called you one of My children because I love you, ( your name ) 1 John 3:1

Your name, ( your name ), is written on the palm of My hand  Isaiah  49:16

I am greater than your heart and I know everything about you, ( your name )
1 John 3:19-20

You did not choose Me, but I chose you,  ( your name ) John 15:16

My love endures forever,  ( your name )   Psalm 136

If I go and prepare a place for you,  I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am,  there you may be also, ( your name )    John 14:3

I loved you so much that I sent My Son to secure your future with Me, ( your name ).    John 3:16

After you have read your special love letters, take time to thank the Lover of our souls,  God Almighty.

Blessings & remember that God’s gift of love is for you,

Gwen

COPYRIGHT 2014, GWEN PLAUCHE. YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO REPRINT LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD IN ITS ENTIRETY ONLY, AND FORWARD TO YOUR FRIENDS, PROVIDED THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE REMAINS PART OF THE REPRINT AND TRANSMISSION. ALL OTHER RIGHTS RESERVED

Break My Heart

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

Hosanna, Words & Music by Brooke Fraser
© 2006 Hillsong Publishing

Those words haunt my soul; Break my heart for what breaks Yours. Oh God, do I want my heart to break? Is that the pain I feel when pulled between serving and selfish desires, God?

Yes, the still small voice replies.

Ezekiel 11:19 (NLT) reads: And I (The Lord) will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.

Like the layers of an onion, the Christian life is a continuous peeling off and breaking away of what does not belong; attitudes, reactions, self-preservation. Anything that builds the stony, stubborn heart walls back up must be broken off.

In response, I am noticing more pondering:

• Could that be offensive?
• Could that hurt someone?
• Is that self serving in some manner?
• Does it start a negative pattern or line of thought?

As I allow the Holy Spirit to massage my heart and its responses, a new awareness is emerging deep within my soul of why people say the things they say and do what they do. My desire is for more of this in my life! It is a process and I thank God for the baby steps He has allowed me to take. Responses by email or social media now go through the grid of this new awareness. Could it be a tender, responsive heart is at work?

Allowing the Holy Spirit to break my heart for what breaks His interrupts the rebuilding of a heart of stone around my heart of flesh. Daring to turn off the “what about me” part of any situation, I moan and ache as I pause and consider my words and actions.

Glancing around, I then contemplate the awesomeness of many lovely hearts and the patience extended to me on the road to having a more compassionate heart. Why have I been so delayed on this road of considering others first instead of feeding the insatiable hunger of my selfish heart?

The words of Jesus say it loud in Matthew 22:39, Love your neighbor as yourself. My heart must be broken to complete this second greatest command.

Realizing the heartache a friend is going through with her young adult son, now disabled and unable to provide for his young family, my heart breaks like God’s. Her harsh words no longer affect me because of the work of the broken heart.

Observing a young man who is making wrong choices through the lens of the broken heart dispels the judgmental words from my lips.

What happens when I don’t respond from the broken heart? The sloppy mortar of my futile attempts to rebuild of my heart of stone causes me to slip and fall on my face. I call a halt to the repeated thoughts, drop to my knees asking forgiveness of God and those I have offended. Peace and that tender heart quickly return.

Psalm 51:17 (NLT) The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Psalm 73:26 (NIV) My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

During this month of love, I pray you will take time to consider the Lover of your soul and allow Him to break your heart.

Blessings,

Gwen

Copyright 2014, Gwen Plauche. You have permission to reprint Break My Heart in its entirety only, and forward to your friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission. All other rights reserved.

Forks on the Left

SpiritualPlacecards.png
I stared at the stacks of silver cutlery on my mother-in-law’s dining room table and wondered how I had managed to escape the fine of art of the formal table. I was a new bride and had been asked to set the table for our Thanksgiving meal at my in-laws. Sensing my discomfort, my mother-in-law opened the linen drawer and revealed a card with an illustration of proper formal table settings – a kind of etiquette cheat sheet. I quickly observed that one of the best ways to learn the basics of formal table setting is with a memorized pattern. The word left has four letters, so does the word fork. The word right has five letters, so does knife, spoon and glass. Could it be that easy? That guide reassured me that I was not the only one who needed a little help in this area!

Just like those stacks of forks and knives, there are stacks of emotions that come knocking on your heart’s door along with the family for holiday dinner. You may be asking yourself, “How will I ever deal with all these emotions?”

Wouldn’t it be great if you had an easy guide to help you know what to do? You are not the only one who needs a little help! God’s word, your Bible, is full of wisdom that tells you the way to respond. Here is a collection of what I am calling, Spiritual Place Cards. The table setting pattern helped me remember to place the forks on the left, memorizing these will help you remember where to place your emotions and your responses at just the right time this holiday season.

When you fear or dread facing that particular person over the holidays…

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Matthew 5:44

When that certain relative pushes your buttons and the conversation gets heated…

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

When Uncle Louie goes there (again)…

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent and discerning if they hold their tongues. Proverbs 17:27-28

When the empty chair reminds you…

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23

When the turkey comes out and the food critics emerge…

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

When Aunt Sue is inquiring and comparing…

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. Philippians 1:6

When you think you are the only one who has this problem…

You are tempted in the same way all other human beings are. God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted any more than you can take. But when you are tempted, God will give you a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

When you feel alone…

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

My prayer for you is that you feast through the holidays on God’s Word and that the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Blessings,

Gwen

Knowledge, Self-Control & Perseverance…

I don’t know about you, but I am a Learner (with a capital L)!  I love to dig in and add to my knowledge.  I know what to do and what is the right direction.  Where I stumble is when my self-control or perseverance seem to be lacking (especially when it has to do with chocolate…).

As I was reading this morning a very familiar passage in 2 Peter 1, verse 8 really jumped off the page…”For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure…”  Increasing is a moving verb.  It is defined as:  becoming or making greater in size, amount, intensity or degree.

I can possess more self-control and perseverance!  I CAN possess more self-control

Perseverance

Perseverance

and perseverance!   I don’t have to hang my hat on the level of these that I have today.  When I reflect back on the knowledge I know, I must push that into increasing self-control, which in turn increases my perseverance.

Wouldn’t you know that the rest of that verse…godliness, brotherly kindness and love, starts to deal with how we treat others.  In order to love others like I love myself, I need to tackle that “love myself” part.  Self-control and perseverance will build those muscles, then I can truly love others.

Today’s encouragement will end with verse 10 of that chapter…For if you do these things, you will never fall…

Be blessed!  Gwen

(c)2012 by Gwen Plauche.  You may reprint Knowledge, Self-Control & Perseverance if you include the entire article, including this copyright  information.  Be blessed!  http://www.MommaGwen.com

 

The Voice Beyond the Whirlwind

I have just walked through a whirlwind!  Our only daughter has just left the comfort of life in American to serve for a year with a ministry in southeast Asia.  The decision to go came during her very busy Senior year of college, with the preparations building and consuming all of us up to the moment she arrived in her destination, just yesterday.

Honestly, I had several coming-to-Jesus moments through the last few months.  My daughter and I handle deadlines and stress a bit differently.  After hearing a sermon on Helicopter Parents, I vowed to “land the helicopter!”  When children are adults, there is a very delicate balance of roles as the parent.  We are adviser, friend, consultant, accountant and the biggest fan.  Hands off, yet hands on.  Leading, yet remembering wise counsel from authors such as Dr. Kevin Lehman who says to “pull the rug and let them fly!”  Ingredients for insanity, I tell you!

It was moments ago that she had several weeks before departure, then days, then the drive to the airport.  Just thinking about not being able to hug my very huggable daughter for a whole year brought tears to the surface. We were blessed with prayers and blessings from friends and co-workers.  Yes, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is all over this trip.  He alone expedited her fundraising beyond what we could fathom.  The visa and ticket were finally secured, the luggage (!) packed and repacked and out the door we went.  We surprised my dear mom in law on the way to the airport with a visit and there were tears all around.  The airport good byes were almost too much for me to take.  One last hug, please!

She has chosen what is great and we are so proud of her.  She has followed her heart, not only in pursuing her college major, but now in the path to take in this season.  Wow!  What courage, what passion, what drive!  Watch out southeast Asia – you have great things in your future with our gal there!

I experienced something very cool after we left the airport.  That is, after my crying fit in the van leaving the airport.  Peace and a quiet voice.  Even as I recall it now, I cannot believe the mercy of God in my moment of whirlwind.  What had just happened?  Did our girl really just leave?

Only as God can do, God spoke to my heart.  Peace.  Release.  Comfort.  The self-imposed weight on my shoulders – gone.  Whoa.

It made me think of Elijah in I Kings 19.  God told Elijah to go stand on the mountain and wait for the Lord to pass by.  A powerful wind, an earthquake and a fire came, but God was not there.  Instead, He was in a gentle whisper – after the whirlwind, earthquake and fire.

So this is a story of the quiet voice beyond the whirlwind.  Tune your heart so that you also can hear that voice when He speaks.

Be blessed.

Gwen

Copyright 2012, Gwen Plauche. You have permission to reprint The Voice Beyond the Whirlwind in its entirety only, and forward to your friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission. All other rights reserved.

Guest Post: Spring Has Come by Joy Scott

As the flutters of pollen obliterate my van, outside furniture, and lungs, as I exhale sneezes, I am reminded of God, the creator of the universe and His need for change…for seasons. The embarking upon spring invokes a variety of emotions, inspiring goals, and fresh perspectives that were unattended during winter. As I reflect upon this past “winter” of my life, I am soulfully and spiritually “deep” these days with all of the pondering of our existence, why it is the way it is, and our place in it.

I crave more…more of God, more purpose, more simplicity. Not more, in the sense of looking for something else to satisfy, but more, in the sense of embracing what I have been given. The simpletons of seeing my sister’s newborn baby and being awestruck that his fingerprint is unlike any other. Or the way the flowers know when they are supposed to bloom this time every year. Observing the rhythm of every wave rolling onto shore innately knowing their boundary. These are the reflections of a God, who wove the world into being just for me! A sin-tainted world, which never was God’s original plan, but still His creation. God’s desire was to walk with me in the cool of the day, in the sinless Garden. His desire was to uninhibitedly speak to me face to face and lavish His love over me everyday. His desires for me have always been good, they still are!

As the free reign of choice was offered to our humanity, we couldn’t handle the beauty of all that we were given. We wanted “more”! More knowledge, more explanations, more than the simplicity of knowing God alone and enjoying his hand-carved creation and purpose for us! We craved to be like Him! The unexplained no’s and mysteries that we didn’t understand were driving us to find the answers. And we are still driven by that desire today…to “know” and understand in the way that our creator, God does. We, the created, just as a child, must accept the “unexplainable”! As parents you would think that we would get this, but somehow, we still try to eat our dessert for dinner and get infuriated when we are told “no”! We expect our children to just accept and trust our “no”, without questioning, but we do the exact same thing to God. We have to have answers, instead of trusting His love and good intentions for us despite the things that we can’t explain or comprehend. If we can’t figure it out, then we will make up some theology or “explanation” to make ourselves in control again…then, we are right back to the Garden days.

So, as I embrace this season of “spring” in my life, this season of good change…this season of “letting go” of the past and latching hold of a new adventure. Rejecting my desire to be “God” and trusting Him as the One who has the purist of love and intentions for me. I don’t have to understand everything or control it! I was created to be loved and to walk with God. I can only go so far on this sin-tainted earth, but God has already prepared a plan where he would redeem me and I will walk with Him face to face again, just as my Joseph is. (Romans 8:17-21) His redeemed plan is even better than the Garden. That plan is not only for me, but also for you!

There is a summons crying out for you…for you to let go of trying to be God and understand everything that hurts in your life. We are supposed to share in the sufferings of Christ so that we may also share in His glory. (Romans 8:17) “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as some strange thing happened to you, but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, then when His glory is revealed, you may be glad with exceeding joy.” I Peter 4:12-13. The Bible is clear to me that we will suffer on this earth and that is still after the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are not promised a pain-free existence, but are encouraged not to think it is strange. Just maybe these sufferings prepare us to relish that glory even deeper and that we will be able to enjoy it all the more.

We are the created, not the creator. Embrace that God is not the cause of your pain. We are living in this fallen world and it is not our home. We are passing through and are apart of God’s plan, a “bigger plan” that we can’t see or understand…YET! We will understand! We will have some answers! Until then, I beckon you to trust. Trust this God that I know is crazy about you…about us…the God who has carried me through the coldest of winters and has thrust me into the newness of spring-time. “Winter has gone, but spring has come.” We are the created, by the most loving, faithful, gracious creator. We can trust him with the “unexplainable” and watch him use it in our lives here on this temporary earth.

Written by Joy Scott, March 12, 2012

Guest Blog: My New Year’s Resolution is to Quit Facebook–Here’s Why

Posted on December 25, 2011 by Vanessa Howell on www.technologypoet.com

It happens once a year, an opportunity to make promises to yourself without feeling bad that you’ll break them a few weeks later. Every now and then it’s even possible to stick with your New Year’s resolution for more than a few months as I did last year when I gave up coffee for 333 days. If you can survive the first two weeks without caffeine it’s totally worth it, but those first two weeks will rip your spirit from your body. But I digress…

This year one of my resolutions is to quit Facebook. That’s no posting, no reading, no glancing on my phone while I wait or wiling away time looking at other’s photos on my iPad. No Facebook for a year. You might think it would be the tech aficionado thing to do – jump to the latest social network from the last one while feeling a sense of exclusivity in a place other’s haven’t yet found. But as much as I prefer Google+ and Twitter, that really has nothing to do with my decision at all.

Here’s three reasons I could quit Facebook, and one reason I will.

Privacy violations

Facebook gives my privacy as much respect as a hawk gives to a scampering rodent. It pays just enough attention to know it’s there before using it in some nefarious scheme or another. I’ve grown weary of the frequent missteps and half-hearted apologies. From Beacon, the infamous ‘share what you buy with all your friends without really asking you’, to the latest stalk and share feature otherwise known as frictionless sharing, Facebook has done much to flaunt it’s ownership of your data. Other recent examples include using your likeness to endorse products (a class action lawsuit is currently winding it’s way through the courts), it’s ever complex (and opt-out by default) privacy settings and now their plans to sell the details on your timeline to advertisers as if your life story were a commodity to be traded.

I’ve had enough. Even thought I don’t believe they’re secretly a government spying program, I’ve had enough. I understand that free services need to make money through advertising, but I cannot condone such blatant disregard for my privacy.

Game spam

I really don’t want to spend hours of my life farming virtual crops, or spending hundreds of dollars on virtual goods. I’d also prefer it if I wasn’t constantly pestered to do so. Without constant tending my Facebook stream quickly becomes a cesspool of spammy invites and social gaming engagement strategies. Rather than build in adequate tools to stop the spam, Facebook is integrating mobile gaming, so I can receive game spam wherever I go. No thanks.

Facebook is Bad for the Open Internet

Facebook is building a walled garden to make old time AOL executives green with envy. Slowly they are moving to own more of your content, and keep it enclosed within their confines. Whether it’s hoarding your contact data so you can’t take it off the service, or disabling links to import RSS feeds and hence making 3rd party websites less valuable Facebook has a strategy for keep it all within their walled garden. It’s also concerning that they are becoming the de facto ID provider for the Internet, ahead of open federated solutions like Open ID or Mozilla’s new Browser ID effort. Many websites have also given over ownership of their comment streams to Facebook.

I don’t want to live in a world where one company controls so much of my online life, from identity to content to businesses I interact with to my social graph. Especially when their financial interests are directly aligned with keeping that control and never letting me leave.

This Pushed Me Over the Edge

In all honesty, all my complaints above are about a nascent technology that is taking longer than I’d like to properly serve my needs. While Facebook deserves to be chastised for it’s missteps, any company that launches and iterates should be given a small measure of our good grace as things improve (all these additional reasons to leave notwithstanding). All the reasons above brought me to the edge of leaving, but this alone pushed me over:

I feel lonely when I’m on Facebook.

My time spent elsewhere is infinitely more enriching. Whether it’s offline with friends and family experience the real world, meditating in yoga, connecting with others who have a shared interest on Google+ or Twitter, or engaging one on one with someone I care about through the many varied channels of communication we have available today.

It’s great to follow what my brothers are doing half way around the world in Bahrain and Cape Town, but weeks worth of Facebooking is no substitute for a 30 minute Skype conversation, a few paragraphs of an email with them or even a brief text message exchange. It’s fine seeing where my friends are going and who they’re with, but it’s a lot more fun spending time with them in person or talking on the phone.

I feel ashamed because Facebook tells me who I should care about, but I don’t enough to form a real relationship. I feel lonely because Facebook reminds me of all the people I think should care more about me, but don’t for the same reason as above.

So I’m quitting Facebook.

What will I do instead?

I hear good things about the outside world :) I’ll use the time to do something more constructive with my relationships and personal growth. I’ll be more diligent about answering the piles of email from friends that taunt my procrastination, engaging with conversations on Google+ and blogs, and setting up that coffee date I’d been putting off.

December 31st is my last day on Facebook – I’m looking forward to all the extra time and energy I’ll have available. Join me, and make 2012 a better year. #quitfacebook (end of guest blog)

A note from Gwen:

Wow!  I have been thinking some similar thoughts lately and have desperately been missing my time reading books (remember those?) and writing!  Facebook, you have been fun for awhile, but you are moving down my list of things I do on a daily basis.  The possibilities of what I will be doing are endles..

Blessings!

I Found My Heart in the Sheetrock Dust!

Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9 NKJV

I was pulling in the driveway returning from Wednesday night choir practice and noticed something looked different from my view into the dining room. I quickly proceeded to the back door. What in the world had happened? What was all this dust? As the dust cleared, there stood my husband of just a few months by a newly cut opening between the dining room and kitchen. He was leaning on his sledgehammer and smiling like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. It seemed there had been a bit of a blowout while I was away at choir practice. My jaw dropped as I viewed the scene before me. Looking into the dining room I saw dust settling all over our newly acquired wedding crystal and on my favorite cross-stitch picture on the wall.

A Very Familiar Site

 

 

He broke the silence, “Hey Honey, guess what? We are renovating the kitchen and I decided that this is where the new door will be!” What an introduction for a new bride to the real side of her visionary renovating husband. Little did I know at that point what I would learn about love while dealing with all the sheetrock dust.

We were young and the project was large, but we completed it in what I call “Classic Tommy Style.” In fact, we renovated every house we lived in for the next two decades and today we are now nearing completion of a long master bath renovation.

Renovating a home can be a very stressful time. 2 Timothy 3:17(The Message) teaches us that through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. Studying the verse in Galatians can put you together and shape you up so that you not only survive a renovation, but reap a great result.

Do not grow weary in doing good: Decide that this completed renovation will be good but be aware that weariness will be knocking at the door. Discuss the planned budget and vision. Most renovating husbands have been working on the project details longer than you have had a chance to give it thought. Take the time to review the plans together and make appropriate suggestions.

Do not lose heart: You need to know what the estimated completion time frame is for your project, but keep the word ESTIMATED in big caps. Contractors work on time frames that are not nearly as efficient as our iPhone calendars. It is important to make up your mind to stay flexible and not frustrated when delays happen. It is nearly impossible to be flexible if you are focused on the timing.

Be aware that there is going to be a certain level of disorganization and mess. Most likely there will be a point when you are ready to throw everything out the window, or lose heart. When you feel like that, take a break, take a walk, regroup and refocus.

In due season you shall reap: Smile! Try to enjoy the journey. Celebrating each small accomplishment along the way will keep frustration controlled. As you focus on the small goals completed you will be looking towards the harvest at the end instead of the mess today. An example of this would be: “We are so excited that the sinks arrived today!”

During that first renovation I learned a very important lesson about love and sheetrock dust. A friend of ours was teaching at church and described a friend who worked tirelessly around his house to show his love for his new bride, even building a new kitchen for her. I suddenly realized it was my husband that he was talking about. I saw the mess, the endless dust, and even the paint dribbles now as the love gift to me that my husband intended! I honestly had thought he was enjoying making all the mess just to get me riled up. My husband’s love language was acts of kindness, but I simply did not realize that renovations fell into that category until then.

One thing that my husband told me during that first renovation that has always stuck in my mind is: “Don’t fall in love with your houses!” I would like to add my own ending to those words of wisdom: “Instead, fall in love with your man!” Happy renovating!

Written by Gwen Plauche
Blog: http://www.GwenPlauche.com
Copyright 2011, Gwen Plauche. You have permission to reprint I Found My Heart in the Sheetrock Dust in its entirety only provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission. All other rights reserved.

Check the Sky

I Kings 18: 41-45

41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.

43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.   “There is nothing there,” he said.

Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”

45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel.

Points to ponder:

1.  Elijah was a man listening to God, not looking at his circumstances. “For there is the sound of heavy rain.”  Where did Elijah come up with this idea – what was he listening to?  I Kings 18:1:  There was a severe famine in Samaria when Elijah received this word from the Lord “Go and present yourself to Ahab and I will send rain on the land.”  Notice that God had an action for Elijah, which Elijah promptly completed.  Interesting that God did not send rain upon Elijah’s completion of seeing Ahab, but Elijah could already hear the rain coming!

It was West Texas hot and dusty in the land of Samaria and God tells him to present himself to Ahab and He will send rain on the land.  Full of faith, he stands firm in the presence of his enemy and declares the Lord is God. Then there was the great showdown between Elijah & God vs. Baal & the prophets. (read the details in 1 Kings 18)  That was miraculous; that was God.  But it did not stop there.  It had not rained yet.  God said He would send rain.

2.  Elijah wanted what God told him to be louder than anything around him.  Even though God had just shown His miraculous hand at the altars of Baal, Elijah did not stay there.  He then climbed to the top of Mt. Carmel, bent to the ground and put his face between his knees. He removed himself from others, assumed the prayer position of bending down to the ground and even closed out the immediate surroundings by placing his head between his knees to pray through what God had promised.

3. Elijah looked for the sign that God was at work.  He tells his servant to go and look towards the sea…seven times before any sign was visible!  How many times have we stopped standing in faith because there was no earthly sign?  There may be reports totally contrary to what God has said.   Elijah believed what God said and was willing to stay up there on the mountain praying for what God said He would send until it came through.  Note that He declared the rain had arrived once a cloud as small as a man’s hand appeared in the sky.  My hand measures 7 inches from palm to fingertip and 4 inches wide.  Compared to the sky, that is nothing!  That was not a huge thundercloud like we would look at and remark, “It looks like it’s going to rain!”

What has God told you?  Has he asked you to do something?  It might be “stand,” “believe,”  “speak to that person,” or “go to Ahab.”  Make sure you do what God asks.  What has God promised?  That is what you will press in for.

Listen to God and not your circumstances.  Remember God said “rain” – the circumstances said “dust.”  God may show you other miracles along the way.  Hang on until what He says happens.

Let God’s promise be louder than any other report.  Sometimes we do not have the luxury of going to the top of a mountain away from distractions to pray.  We can, however, continuously pray and put any other report “on the grid.”  Does this line up with God’s promise?  We can pray confidently at all times, even when there is no visible sign.  Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

Check the sky!

Look for the sign God is at work.  Elijah was not weak in faith to send the servant to look for the clouds – instead that was his confidence that it was coming, he just didn’t know when.  He wasn’t asking for a sign – he was looking with anticipation for God’s promised provision.   Are you checking the sky in faith?  Are you looking around you for the smallest confirmation that the fulfillment of what God has promised has now started?

God operates on His own agenda – percentages that we quote and depend on do not limit God.  Faith the size of a mustard seed will move a mountain.  A cloud the size of a man’s hand against a massive clear sky is bringing rain.

God does not consult with man’s knowledge before determining what can and cannot be done.  Man can only quote what they know from their own experience or the experience of others.  God is not limited by any report.

How many people had ever been able to walk across the Red Sea prior to the Israelites escape on dry land? 0%

The majority report of the Israelite spies into the Promised Land (83%) said to turn back.  Only 2 of the 12 (17%) said it was God.

How many groups of 5,000 had been fed with a simple basket of fish & bread prior to Jesus?  0%

The list is endless.  The Bible is full of  examples that God does not consult with man’s percentages or reports.

In 1987, a baby born with a diaphragmatic hernia had a 10% survival rate.  In 2011, one of those diaphragmatic hernia babies celebrated his 24th birthday, to the Glory of God.  His name is Ryan Alexander Plauche, our firstborn.   Our pediatric team had not previously seen a baby with this survive.  Nor had they seen the power of God at work healing.  They have now.

Our faith in the God of Miracles is not a fairy tale type of belief.  We press on toward the goal where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus.  We’re off and running (towards Ahab or wherever God tells us to go), not turning back (from Philippians 3:13-14 The Message).

Written by Gwen Plauche

Copyright 2011, Gwen Plauche. You have permission to reprint Check the Sky in its entirety only, and forward to your friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission. All other rights reserved.