Cleaning Up

A dear friend of mine was sorting through some boxes in her basement and came across a little "book" that I put together YEARS ago with the catchy title of Giggles and Grace.  She sent me her favorite page... thought I'd share it  (with a few revisions)... still true today, although it reminded me... I don't clean nearly as good as I used to... 😏

I was recently doing some cleaning - bathrooms, mainly, my favorite!?  Something very important was brought to my attention that I simply had to share.  There are three commodes in my home - two upstairs and one downstairs, and I noticed there was a distinct difference while cleaning one of the "thrones".  Recently I bought one of those new drop-in type bowl cleaners, and to my surprise... it really works!  I only bought one to give it a try, so my results were easy to compare.

Apparently, this little cake of cleaning power is strong enough to protect the bowl from allowing dirt and grime to attach itself forcing it to flush away with every use.  How DOES that work?
I figure it must be:
#1   the strength of the chemical,
#2   the coating of the chemical on the inside of the bowl
#3   the lack of resistance from the germs and grime, 
likely because of reasons 1 and 2

We know that often self-control is our decision NOT to allow the things of the world, the attacks of Satan, and the evil desires of our flesh to control us.  These evils also include what goes into our minds and what comes out of our mouths.  The protection comes when we strengthen ourselves with the protection of the Holy Spirit when we come to God accepting HIS grace to not only save us, but also to position Himself as Lord and Master over our lives.  The "coating" of that protection comes when we make choices based on the mandates and commands given to us.  So, maybe it looks something like this:

#1   We serve a Mighty God.  
Ah Lord God!  It is You who have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power 
and by Your outstretched arm!  Nothing is too hard for You. Jeremiah 32:17

#2   God has given the power of the Holy Spirit to protect our hearts and minds. 
 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, 
you may be able to stand your ground, 
and after you have done everything, to stand.  Ephesians 6:13

#3   His strength and protection allow us to grow deeper
 in grace and understanding of His ways.  
But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, 
for MY power is made perfect in weakness."  
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ's power my rest on me.    2 Corinthians 12:9

 Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness automatically leads us toward obedience to God in all areas of our lives.

How did we get here

How many times have you asked yourself that question?  How did we get here?

Sometimes it is in a comical way...
... we took a wrong turn and ended up on a dead end street.
... GPS  took us in circles around the address we were trying to find.
... the chosen restaurant didn't quite live up to the advertised expectation.
... the free gift offered for our "time" turned out to be a $5.00 gift card instead of the new television

Sometimes it is not so comical...
... the little white lie became an enormous black hole of deceit.
... an understanding listening ear exploded into an unintended inappropriate relationship.
... a word spoken in frustration burst into flames of anger and bitterness
... information shared in strictest confidence destroyed a friendship as trust was broken

Just this week in a moment of frustration, I lashed out at Frank with words, even though soft, clearly communicated anger, disappointment and unkindness.  As he re-entered the kitchen a few moments later, my heart ached at my selfishness.

My anger and disappointment had little to do with anything he had said or done, but his one question had unleashed my bitter words.  Oh my, even there, friends... did you catch my wording of blame:  "his one question unleashed my words".  His question DID NOT unleash my words... my attitude and my mouth is the only vessel through which my words are released.

Thirty-three years of marriage has taught us much about forgiveness, about grace, about love, about response.  My apology was immediate; his forgiveness was just as immediate.  My thoughts raced back to a time that must have been almost 20 years ago.

It was a Sunday afternoon, and we were certainly NOT practicing rest during that season of life.  Seems I remember one of the girls had a birthday party to attend, and although I had the address, we had no GPS leaving my uncertainty of direction.  Somehow if my memory serves, Frank must have been deep into some car repair or garage rearrangement causing the discussion of me putting all four of the kids in the van to drive to the unfamiliar site of the birthday party and then entertain the other three for an hour and a half before trekking back home.

Packing the diaper bag, adding snacks for the extra riders, wrapping the birthday present (Yes, of course, I was wrapping it right before going to the party... doesn't every busy mom do that.  Hey, at least I had BOUGHT the present!), gathering crayons and activities to entertain the extra riders while we waited for the party to end, and somewhere in there... realizing "I was REALLY REALLY tired, and I certainly couldn't EVER remember a time when I had been left at home by myself to complete any task"... caused an explosion of anger that was deposited right on top of Frank's head in the garage. I spoke words to him that had never before and never since entered my heart in order to come out of my mouth.  I am ashamed at the thought, even now.

How did we get there?  I could give you a list one and a half miles long to justify my feelings and my words, and honestly, I could even offer a convincing argument  that you would see my side and agree to my hatefulness.

Sharing with a friend recently about quick words and reactions brought this story to my mind.  I grin a little as I think of the word I shared with her that became my best friend in learning what the Bible calls self control listed in the list among the nine fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.

The word was simply, "BREATHE".  I know, you were hoping for something a bit more profound.  Trust me, it is profound when you actually do it.  You see, in order to breathe, you have to stop, to pause.  Breathing, when intentional, stops you in your tracks.

I don't have the strength on my own.

Breathing has taught me how to rely more fully on God's presence and power to slow my reaction giving me the opportunity to allow HIS truth to permeate my thoughts... and then, my actions.

Breathing has reminded me how to pause in an overwhelming moment asking God to calm my heart BEFORE I respond.

Breathing has offered me time to stop before I speak.  Learning HIS word has given me words to guide my thoughts.

Thankfully, my "how did we get here" possibility is becoming a "stop right here" probability.  Pause with me and breathe for a moment, won't you?

The Lord himself will fight for you. 
Just stay calm. Exodus 14:14 NLT

The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. 
He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.  Psalm 36:3 NLT

Be still, and know that I am God!
    I will be honored by every nation.
    I will be honored throughout the world. Psalm 46:10 NLT

All Scripture is breathed out by God 
and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, 
and for training in righteousness.  2 Timothy 3:16