Handing Over the Keys to the Cellars of Our Souls

Every one of us walking on this earth have a few cobwebs in the corners of our souls. Maybe your mom once told you not to have any cookies before dinner but they were so enticing that you ate one anyway when she left the room. A cobweb forms. Maybe you told a “white lie” to your best friend because it feels easier than facing the truth. Another cobweb forms.

But maybe you have a cellar in the basement of your soul. It’s dead bolted and has a million and one locks just to ensure that no one gets in. Maybe it’s been there for so long that the cobwebs have become so thick. It’s even formed mildew so not even you want to touch it. The enemy guards that cellar with his strongest forces. He wants to make sure no light shines through. He wants that cellar in your soul to remain hopeless. Impossible to open. And he wants to continue to torment you with it.

He wants you to believe that if anyone knew what was locked inside then they would abandoned you. That they would disown you and be disgusted with you. He wants you to believe that you are the only one who has done what you’ve done or what has been done to you. That no one can relate, understand or help. Let me tell you that that is a lie from the deepest, fieriest pit of hell. Whatever has happened to you in this life, whatever is chained inside your cellar, there are over 7 billion people in this world, you are not the only one. It’s impossible. God says there is nothing new under the sun. Although it feels like it, you aren’t the first and you won’t be the last.

God didn’t create our bodies for cellars in our souls. We are not capable of keeping them there long enough without going crazy. Without forming some kind of destructive behavior. What is that one thing you’re holding on to that hinders you from reading your bible more? What is it that stops you from growing deeper in your faith? You may veer off course a little bit, and for some of us a lot a bit. You may have junk in your cellar that no one could have ever imagined. But God knows. No matter how well you believe you’ve fooled everyone else, God knows. He sees your cellar. Down to your deepest wound, and He mourns for you.

You may believe that nobody else in this world could ever know how you feel or how much your cellar has made you suffer, but God knows. And He wants to brush away the cobwebs. He wants you to hand over the lock and key and allow Him to free you. You might be thinking, “Well He’s God, why doesn’t He just take it from me and do it Himself?” He’s a gentle God. He’s a patient God. He’s a God who gave us free will to choose to remain under the weight of the enemy’s thumb or choose to bring it all to His feet and say, “Okay, Lord. I can’t carry this on my own anymore. I need a Savior. I need you to carry this for me.” And He will. And He already has when He had His only Son drink the cup of our sins and taste the bitterness of all the filth we have ever done. His son Jesus, the Savior of you and I, who carried it all and was nailed on the cross so we could be free to willingly choose to hand over the keys of our cellars to God, and let it all go.

Enough is enough, have you had enough? Are you ready to hand over the keys?

When you call on me, when you pray to Me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for Me you’ll find me. When you want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you home again, you can count on it.

Jeremiah 29

  

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Beauty in Ashes

I was woken up by my sister last week to find out the Henry’s, who own our home and graciously allow us to live here, house burned down. I just felt pure devastation for them. They lost everything. Howard and Penny’s spirits are so good and are completely trusting The Lord. I felt so sick about it, though.

You know those moments in life that feel like they could make the saddest part of a tragic movie? I couldn’t help but think while I walked up the drive from my house to the Henry’s garage as the freezing rain pounded on my frizzy curls, that this is it, this would be the saddest part in a movie ever seen. A group of men talked in the garage so I waited until I caught Howard’s eye to approach him. I held back the tears as a peaceful wave of deep blue sea glanced over at me and a smile flooded his warm face. “There she is.” He smiled.

I told Howard we would move so they could stay in their home, so I was prepared to move out within a week. I trust Gods plan but I couldn’t help but feel selfish, too. I would miss it here so much. I would miss the country. I would miss seeing Howard and Penny spending time outside. I would miss this home. I had these plans to make a garden in the yard. To plant flowers outside the window. To pick asparagus across the street. And I felt selfish and bad for thinking of all I would miss when in their 80’s it was probably not in the Henry’s plans to lose the home they built 35 years ago and everything they owned in a fire. Sometimes we make these glorious plans in life and sometimes they fall through. But isn’t God always there to break our fall? He’s always there to catch us. His plans are always greater.

Something profound Howard said was they will build a new house in the same spot. Fire took away everything. Burned down every wall. Every door. Every possession. It’s gone. It’s ash. It has every reason to manifest hurt, pain and devastation in the same spot where there was once a home. But Gods plans are not what we expect at times. And they will rebuild. The way he said those words to me planted firm in my mind. Confident. So sure. Although the very home he built with his own hands is fallen ashes on a hill, God sees the bigger picture. And though every item they’ve ever owned has been lost, maybe at least one soul could be found in this. Maybe just one soul will see just how faithful God is in a seemingly finished situation. I walked up the drive today and the sun shined through the burned pillars and the birds still chirped and rested in their homes nearby, and God said it is long from finished.

After almost a week of being unsure of where the Henry’s will end up along with ourselves, and continually giving it to God and asking for His will, we are able to stay in our home. Thank God for providing a home for the Henry’s as they rebuild. There’s that word again. It sticks with me. It feels mighty as I say it to those who ask me what the Henry’s plans are. I’m not sure what their plans were but the Lords are to rebuild.

I looked up the definition for “rebuild“.

to repair
to strengthen

To strengthen. Through a fire God is able to strengthen their faith in Him. Through a fire others are able to witness their deep reliance in Him, and by that their own faith may be strengthened.

It reminds me of Job and how everything was taken from him. People who knew him might have felt devastated for him. They might have wondered how something like that could have happened to someone so faithful and good. No one would have blamed him for being mad at God. But he didn’t turn away. He poured everything he had left into him and he was strengthened more than ever before. Strengthened enough to rebuild. God was faithful to Job and He continues to be faithful to the Henry’s. He is always the same, never changing.

As Howard, Penny and their family prayed around the spot their old home once stood, a card was pulled from the ashes, that read “God is in control.” They plan to frame it and have it be the first item to go into their new home. Although it stings to lose what they lost, just like Penny says, they are just things, memories in their minds. We told her how sad it is to look out our back window and see a burned down home, and she laughed. “There you are complaining. How good are you with artwork? Put a plaster board in front of the window and paint something beautiful on it so that’s all you see. God brings good out of bad. We can only hope this will draw people to come to know Him. We recognize the loss but we recognize The Lord.

Don’t you want to reflect even just a small portion of their hope? I do. When all seems lost we can either stare out the back window, mourning over the ashes, feeling sorry for ourselves. Or we can put our hope in the one who has already mourned our loss long before we ever did. We can take a piece of plaster board over that window, paint a beautiful sunset and have faith that it will rise again. Because He promised it would rise again. And with that promise we can rebuild.

Lord, it’s gone. And gone is gone, so we move on.

-Penny Henry

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For I know the plans I have for you. I’ll show up and take care of you and bring you back home as promised. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out. Plans to take care of you – not abandoned you. Plans to give you the future you hoped for. When you call on Me, when you come and pray to Me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for Me, you’ll find Me. When you get serious about finding Me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back home, you can count on it.

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When Waking Up is Hard to Do.

Waking up isn’t easy when you don’t see a way out. There’s no way out of the hopelessness and depression you feel. Loneliness is just behind those covers and so you bury your face within them for just a few moments longer before the alarm clock goes off. You wonder what’s worth it. You wonder what’s worth standing out in the cold. What’s worth facing a world that continues to knock you down? Maybe you’ve lost a loved one and it’s still too hard to walk passed their picture hanging in the hallway. Maybe you’ve failed at something you’ve put so much effort into and you just can’t bare to try again. Maybe the bills are piling up and you don’t know what to do. Maybe there’s an addiction that keeps knocking at your door. Or someone has hurt you right down to the core and forgiveness seems so far away.

The snow falls and it gets hard to go out into the world. It gets hard when it looks dark out there. The snow falls hard but it melts away. The Earth doesn’t let the dark of the winter define it and so it makes beauty within the snowflakes. It always melts away and let’s new things bloom into life.

Whatever it may be that makes waking up hard to do, whatever burdens or failures that are pressing against you, they don’t define you. You can lay in bed until 3pm because it’s safe, because there you won’t fail. There you won’t walk passed that picture in the frame. There you won’t get hurt and you won’t feel the cold, brisk air burn your cheeks. But there you miss out on falling in love. You miss out on meeting someone new for the first time or helping someone who needs you. There, hiding in that bed, you are safe but you miss out. Put on your scarf and face the cold and make something of the day.

You can rejoice in the memories of your loved one and when the missing gets too heavy to carry you can lay it at Jesus’s feet. You can cry until snot drains from your nose but you can laugh hard until your belly aches and know that the world is still turning. A failed test doesn’t reflect a failed life. Just because you haven’t met “the one” doesn’t mean you have a terrible love life. Love is in helping an elderly woman find her dogs in the freezing, cold weather. Love is holding your newborn niece for the first time, staring at her in awe because you can’t believe God put this all together. Everything doesn’t always go as planned. Life isn’t always perfect. We can stay miserable or we can accept that we don’t always get the life we think we deserve. We aren’t perfect but we can accept that because He already has.

Waking up can be hard to do and things aren’t in our favor. We try our best and sometimes we fall down and it hurts. But sometimes we don’t. Sometimes it goes our way and we are waiting for something bad to happen because life just isn’t this good to us. Sometimes the stars align for us so we wait for a meteor to come crashing in but it never does. The stars align and our babies laugh and our cups overfloweth. We are just a week sober and that is enough to make us dance. We truly forgive and we forget why we were ever upset. We see someone in need so we give them all we have to offer and feel their overwhelming thankfulness in a hug. All because the chance of something good happening finally outweighed the bad that is keeping us in our safe beds. We faced the brisk, cold air on our cheeks for a chance that our stars might align, and eventually, without fail, they align. All because waking up was hard to do but we did it anyways. And for this, we rejoice.

  

 

Misery Has No Hold On Me

Your alarm goes off and you hit the snooze button, but today is different. You don’t fall back asleep for a half hour longer, risk running late and having to go 10 miles over the speed limit. You get out of bed (you might even make the bed) with a little pep in your step. “Today is going to be different.” You tell yourself. 

You make yourself what you believe will be the best pot of coffee you will ever make, and you smile at the rising sun and the way the light is beaming through your window. Usually you would push your cat away as she snuggles on your lap while you try to read the morning paper, but today is different. And the way your cat is purring over your now crinkled paper brings you back to being a small child. The way you would sit on your mothers lap as she read her favorite magazine. Her breath smelled like morning coffee as you lay your head on her chest and hear her heart beating. Yes, this is a memory of joy. 

Now you go outside, thermos in hand, and face the world. You’re singing to every song on the radio and you smile at strangers at the gas station. You give change to the homeless on the corner of the street and you don’t think twice about what they will do with the money. “Today misery will not overcome me.” You tell yourself. “Today I choose joy.” Because the routine of getting caught in rush hour has finally outrun itself and allowing others thoughts and opinions and allowing others problems affect you severely has run it’s toll. 

And even when your boss asks you, “Can’t you do better?” And even when your friends would rather not be by your side. Even when you can’t afford that beautiful coat I’m sure you deserve. Even when for once your spouse lovingly tells you “No.” Even when things just aren’t going your way. Yes, even when you aren’t treated with respect. And even when the entire universe feels as though it is laying all of itself on your shoulders. You choose to sing. You choose to skip through the grocery store with your small child. You choose to kiss your mate in public because you are shamelessly in love. 

When you spill your morning coffee all over your pants while you’re already running late you choose to laugh instead of cry. You choose to dance in church because you finally let the glory of The Lord permeate your entire soul. And instead of always venting about your problems you choose to put effort in changing them. You choose to be the best friend, mother, father, sister, brother, lover, that you could ever possibly be. Not because you want something in return but because today you decided to choose joy. You decided that no matter what disappointments came your way today you would choose to be happy. That you will not react out of anger. And today you choose to not let emotions control you. 

  You choose to seek wisdom and answers. You stop wondering why things aren’t in your favor or why you haven’t found a husband or wife yet. You stop worrying about money and you stop posting all of your dilemmas on Facebook. You break the bondage of misery because it has no hold on you. You have that choice. Yes, today you choose joy.

  

Always your Nah-zee

Two years ago today i held my grandma’s hand as she lay in a hospital bed and we described together what Heaven will be like. I put my face on her chest, and she just smiled as i told her i wasn’t ready for her to go. she quietly said, “you will always be my nah-zee.” i miss her voice. her voice was gentle yet strong and passionate when she prayed. she prayed for everyone. all day long she whispered His Name, “oh, Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.” i replay this voice in my head often hoping to never forget it. Two years ago my grandma made sure to make each of her grandchildren promise her she would see them in Heaven one day. i told her i would but my heart wasn’t sure if that was true. i told her i would see her again and she squeezed my hand. i miss her hands. her hands were old but they were beautiful. they squeezed my wrist as we crossed the street when i was a little girl. they made the best scrambled eggs and the best chocolate cherry cake. they clasped together tightly as she prayed to her great God Almighty. it’s been two years since i’ve gotten to look into her blue eyes. mine were filled with tears and sorrow that day but hers were filled with excitement and joy as she prepared to leave for Heaven. when you looked into her eyes you just knew her soul was destined to sit next Christ. growing up i never had a strong personal relationship with Jesus but i knew my grandma from the inside out and i look back now and think that sitting next to my grandma as a little girl was the closest to Jesus i could have been. it’s been two long years since i told my grandma that i would see her in Heaven. i hadn’t gone to church in years, the Bible i got when i was 8 years old was like brand new, i was not living for Jesus in any way, but my mouth spoke the words before i wholeheartedly thought about what she had asked, and i told her i would see her in Heaven. i believe in the very moment my tongue spoke those words to her i unknowlingly signed a contract and God was the witness. i believe from that very moment God made it His mission to fulfill that promise to my faithful, God-fearing grandmother. two years ago i began to lose my life just so i could find it. there is nothing that i long for more today than to be able to look into my gramma’s eyes, hold her hands, hear her voice, and pray with her. to seek advice from her in times of struggle in my walk. my heart hurts for the wasted time i didn’t do those things when she was here but i know when i get to Heaven Ella Mae will be waiting. if there could ever be the ideal way to pass away, she let out a big, peaceful sigh, and you just knew Jesus Christ picked her up and took her Home.

“your Heaven is going to have a big blue house, just for you. with a big flower garden. with lots of onions and chocolate cherry cake. and a big blue sky. with golden roads. you’re going to sit right next to Jesus, gramma.”

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

PSALM 27:4

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