Garage Sale Blessings

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We hosted a garage sale this spring. Making some extra money is great motivation to sort, clean, and pass on stuff that we no longer need or have a place for in our house. The garage sale ended up being a lot of work for very little money.

I wasn’t surprised, nor was I upset. Past experiences from garage sales over many years have taught me to manage expectations. Besides, my faith has introduced new expectations as God provides a different perspective. It is less about the sales and more about the blessings. I have learned to expect God to reveal unexpected blessings through the garage sale. I pray for just the right people to come along. Excitement builds as I look for God to share His answers to my prayers.

The very first person on the very first day of the sale bought all my furniture odds and ends. The bulky stuff was gone! A group of construction workers took our old bathroom mirror, a “monstrosity” that measured five feet long by three feet high. The problem of how to properly dispose of the mirror was solved.

The blessings weren’t just for me. On the second day, sales and people were sparse. My husband suggested that we close early. I decided against it because we had advertised certain hours. Near the end of the day, a neighbor down the street stopped by. We had waved to each other in the past as I retrieved our mail, but we had never engaged in a conversation.

She browsed the sale and then picked up a brochure for Cancer Hope, the ministry that I am involved with. A very long conversation ensued as we shared our hearts and our faith. My neighbor concluded, “This is why God had me stop at your garage sale.” In that moment, I knew the reason why God prompted me to keep the garage sale open all day.

After the sale, metal shelves and miscellaneous items were given to good friends. The wife commented, “It feels like Christmas!” The rest of the stuff was sorted, boxed up and labelled with the name of the charity to receive it. The household goods would go to a charity that serves homeless families by helping them get back on their feet and into their own homes.

Trinkets, decorations and costume jewelry were designated for the nursing home. Early the next week, I called to confirm that the nursing home could use my donation. The activities director replied that the items would be perfect for their auction where the residents bid on items with fake money. As more evidence of God’s blessings in the perfect timing: the auction was scheduled for three days later.

Was this year’s garage sale a success? It depends on your perspective. From a worldly standpoint, the answer is no. I had too much stuff left over and not much money earned. From a heavenly perspective, the garage sale was simply the means for blessings to flow. Here’s my answer: I have a little extra cash in my pocket and my heart is undeniably full!

John 1:16

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 

 2 Corinthians 9:12

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

 

What Does The Light Reveal?

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Sponge Painting 0

I was excited to paint our bathroom. However, I was not excited about the preparation necessary to paint. Thanks to the decorating tastes of the prior homeowners, our bathroom walls were textured with bright red sponge-painted on a white background.

My husband described the work to be done before I could even think about opening up the can of paint that would transform the bathroom. We removed everything attached to the walls. We brought in megawatt lights to illuminate flaws to be spackled. I cleaned the walls with a washcloth and felt for surface imperfections hidden in the distraction of sponge-painting.

The next step was to sand and smooth out the wall surfaces. It was impossible to remove all the globs of red paint. We did our best and crossed our fingers that what remained would not be too noticeable on the finished walls.

One coat of primer was not enough to hide the bright red. Two coats of primer were better, but not perfect. The white primer revealed nail holes and more nail pops that we could not see or feel before. More spackling, sanding, and priming were the result. Finally, we reached the point that we were done—literally done. There were still more flaws to correct, but in our minds and hearts, “It was good enough!”

Two coats of paint later and my bathroom felt brand new. Final inspection (before putting the paint supplies away for good) involved passing a light up-close over every wall from floor to ceiling. I was disheartened. We had taken our time and given it our best, but the sponge-painted texture was still evident in certain areas. The bathroom was now bright and cheery, but it wasn’t perfect. It was simply good enough.

God never settles for just good enough. God requires perfection in our holiness. We may think that we are good people with good intentions whitewashed of sin. However, God’s standard of holiness reveals flaws that are still evident. We may live a good life doing good for others. Yet, God’s light shines in the deepest parts of our being to illuminate the sin hidden from plain view.

On our own, we will always struggle with imperfections as we peel away one layer of sin after another. God longs to transform our lives of dark sin into beautiful displays of holiness in His image! Through Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross, God forgives our sins and imparts His holiness into us.

Jesus is the light of the world revealing judgment of sin to those who reject Him. Jesus is the light of life revealing forgiveness of sins to those who choose faith in Him. Embrace the light found in the loving touch of God the Father whose handiwork is always perfect.

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

John 8:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

 

What Is In The Name?

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Pale honey was the color I carefully chose. Anything would have been better than the color we inherited from the previous homeowners. The main bathroom made a statement with bright red sponge-painted on stark white walls.

Pale honey was not an easy decision. I explored color palettes and imagined. I taped paint chips to the walls. I purchased samples and painted swatches to see the actual colors in my actual room. I literally pondered the decision for months as the project slowly moved up in priority on our to-do list.

My husband remarked that I was giddy in anticipation. It took washing, spackling, sanding, two coats of primer and two coats of paint to re-do the bathroom walls. Now that all the walls are pale honey, it looks more yellow and less pale honey in my eyes. The lighting and room configuration affected my perspective. I am a little disappointed as I had to adjust my expectation to a slightly different reality.

Has that ever happened to you in your faith? We read, study, hear, and talk about Jesus. In our minds, we form expectations for who Jesus is and can be to us up-close and personal. We apply Jesus to our lives and can still feel disappointed by the results.

If you have ever felt this way, my advice to you is to persevere. We know that God is the giver of all good gifts. The Father’s best gift to us is Jesus Christ. God does not change like shifting shadows. It is our perspective that needs to be adjusted to His timing and His means.

God leads us into His newness. We choose to let go of the old. God’s Word challenges our human thinking. We choose His truth through faith in His Son Jesus. God takes us by surprise. We choose to embrace the adventures along God’s path. God requires more than we feel capable of giving. We choose to endure because Jesus endured the cross.

The name that changes and defines our life’s makeover is Jesus. For Jesus is the sweetest name that brings the brightness of the Son into our homes, lives, minds, and ultimately our hearts.

James 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

 

Acts 4:12

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garage Sale Wars

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The garage sale wars begin even before we stick a sign in the yard and open the garage door.

I think my husband should clean out the garage. He thinks I should let go of my many boxes of memories. I think he overprices his stuff and underprices mine. Of course, he feels it is just the opposite. His philosophy is to simply put the stuff out and the people will come. My philosophy is to focus on the marketing and stage the stuff.

This year was no different. He made me re-price a tent. His rationale was that he didn’t care if it sold or not. I wanted to recycle his old engineering magazines before the garage sale. He insisted that I offer them as freebies instead.

My husband won the garage sale war this year. And I am glad for it. I was reminded of that familiar cliché, “Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.” He got his asking price for the tent. One of the last shoppers bought it for her friend, a young mother who planned to take her son camping. It was a good transition from so many fun and funny memories for our family to another family who will add new memories.

As for those magazines, they disappeared too. An older couple stopped by with their adult special needs child. Their child loves to turn pages and the glossy pages of the magazines will hold up to the love. I could see their child dancing in the car with excitement as my husband placed the box next to her.

“Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.” May I remember this point and expect this result for the next garage sale. I don’t even have to wait that long for it is a principle that applies to every day.

 

John 6:12

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over.  Let nothing be wasted.”

 

Odds and Ends of Life

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I started with two blenders. After downsizing to our new home, I also downsized my blenders. I chose the best base and the best jar. And of course, I made sure the base and the jar fit together before donating the odds and ends.

The day came when I needed the blender. I assembled the components and pressed the button. I could hear the motor hum, but the blades didn’t turn. Although I could fit the jar and the base together, they weren’t meant to go together. It was never going to function as a blender.

To go from two blenders to no blenders was a dumb mistake. Then I was too cheap to buy a new blender that I need only once or twice a year. I hung onto the jar for it was a nice glass jar, but got rid of the base.

A year later and one thousand miles from home, my snowbird friend was selling a blender in her garage sale. It cost me one dollar. Come to find out, that blender was the same brand as my jar. The new base worked in perfect unity with the blender jar I kept.

I see the spiritual lessons in the ordinary so my blender mishap was par for the course.

  • Just because it feels right doesn’t mean it is right.
  • Patience exercised allows for God’s perfect timing.
  • Hope can make us appear crazy to those who don’t believe in hope.
  • God weaves the odds and ends in our life together for His glory.

I have a blender again. More importantly, I am reminded to never give up on God for the discombobulation in my life. For God loves to reward hope.

Psalm 65:5

You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,

 

 

 

 

It Leaks Just a Little

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One of the perks of being empty-nesters is that my husband and I each get our own bathroom. My husband’s shower stall leaked just a little. He caulked the outside of the shower stall and the corners inside the shower stall. It still leaked. He disassembled the door and the side panel to clean out every joint before reassembling and re-caulking. He caulked the interface between the drain and the bottom of the shower stall. It still leaked. With hope for a fix waning and a magnifying glass in hand, my husband inspected the joints between the individual tiles lining the shower stall. Lots of tiles and lots of joints to inspect. My husband finally found the source of the leak. Even a tiny hole was too big and resulted in grief.

I see the analogies in faith. Even a little sin is too much in God’s eyes. We can try to work out salvation on our own, but we can’t stop the leaks of sin into our lives. We have too many holes, many of which are insidious. We need real help for a permanent fix. Thank goodness God is just a call, er… a prayer away. On the cross, Jesus Christ traded his holiness for our unholiness. By putting our faith in Jesus, even just a little faith, we can recognize the sin in our lives and realize the only solution that works. Salvation is free of charge and guaranteed for eternal life by God. For the workmanship was done by God’s best and the cost was bore by his one and only Son.

 

1 Peter 3:18

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,

Luke 17:6

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

“Huh? What Did you Say?”

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My husband embarked on another big house project: adding insulation to the attic. My role was to be base camp. I was on call to find supplies, transfer equipment to the attic and respond to his requests. It sounds easy enough to do, but there was a hitch. To protect himself from loose, itchy fiberglass insulation, my husband donned protective gear including a respirator. Between the respirator, the exaggerated breathing (that you hear with a respirator) and the cell phone connection, I had a difficult time understanding his words. He was frustrated in having to repeat himself often. I was frustrated by the garbled words that I could not follow. We were set up to communicate. We wanted to communicate with each other, but there were barriers.

Thank goodness God removes all the barriers in our communication with him. God removed the barrier of sin. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross enables us to draw close to God. God removed the barrier of misunderstanding. God gives us the Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts and minds for his revelation. God removed the barrier of misinformation. His holy word in the Bible is filled with story after story of how God desires communication with his creation. God removed the barrier of our human flaws and failings. We have a direct line of communication to God’s heart through the privilege of prayer. God speaks love into our lives. Are we listening? Are we holding onto his truth and refusing to let go? God understands our whispers, our shouts and our moans as we reach out to him with our answer.

 

Jeremiah 29:12-13

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

 

Isaiah 65:24

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 

 

 

Guest Blogger: Donna Cronk / Where is Home?

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The home down the lane. Picture submitted by Donna Cronk.

Introduction: Home sweet home is where our hearts are. When we are away from home, we try to feel at home. In her Christian novel, Donna writes about returning home. God gives us a longing for our eternal home. For now, Donna Cronk calls Pendleton, Indiana, her home.  She has written for Hoosier newspapers for more than three decades. For more stories and perspectives on life, see Donna’s FaceBook page, Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast by Donna Cronk. Her novel, Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast, is available on Amazon.

Where is Home?

By Guest Blogger Donna Cronk

Recently, I returned to the county we called home during most of the 1980s. On the way there, I wanted to look at the farmhouse that we rented for most of those years. At the edge of the road, I took a picture of the snow-covered lane to show my husband. That lane was the bane of our winter months because it blew shut so frequently. I knew he would remember and chuckle, relieved to be free from that issue. Even so, that home back down the lane was dear to us. We rented it for $200 a month from a sweet old farmer who had moved “to town” with his wife, but continued to plant a garden out there and insisted that we eat our fill and then some of the fresh vegetables. It was up that lane that we brought our newborn son Sam home for the first time. As I paused there briefly at the end of that lane, it occurred to me that while this was once our home, it was no longer that at all. The “Private, keep out” sign on the telephone pole was directed at strangers … at me. The people who lived there now didn’t know me from the man in the moon. The thought was sad.

As we near retirement, my husband and I discuss where we might want to call home for that phase of our lives. Brian’s comment that he wouldn’t mind spending it back in my hometown in a different part of the state helped inspire me to write a novel, Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast. In my fantasy-writing world, we would return there and open an inn. But the hometown I remember wouldn’t be the same hometown against the backdrop of our retirement years as it was against the framework of my youth. My parents have passed on and we no longer own the family farm. The children I played with as a kid are as grown and gone as I am. Our own kids never lived there so there would be no nostalgia on their part. In fact, we might be strangers in a familiar landscape.

Like jobs, relationships, hobbies and everything else in this world, the concept of “home” is fleeting. We are here for just a moment in time, yet we deeply long for something permanent, eternal; for home in its deepest, truest sense. We are hardwired to crave the notion of belonging, fitting in, being loved and wanted and welcomed. When I was a girl, we sang a song in Sunday School with lyrics that went like this: “I’ve got a home in glory land that outshines the sun.” It goes on, “Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh do remember me.” Wherever we may roam in our earthly lives, whichever homes provide shelter, and no matter how much sweat equity we put into them, our earthly homes are temporary stops on the road to eternity. How I want the Lord to welcome me and my loved ones with open arms one day and say, “Welcome home.”

 

John 14:2

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

 

 

We Ticked Off the Garbage Man

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We ticked off the garbage man. There was a lot of trash that week. I even considered leaving a note to apologize and explain that we recently moved in and were cleaning up inside and out. The garbage man heaved our bulky trash. As he started up the truck again, I heard the definite honk of the truck’s horn. It was 5:00 in the morning on trash day. I got his message. Everyone has their limit, even the garbage man. Not so with God. As high as the heavens are above the earth and as far as the east is from the west, God’s compassion and God’s mercy knows no limit. Week after week, we can bring all our garbage to God. We can place it down at the foot of the cross: our heavy-laden sins piled high and outright ugly. God’s open arms embrace us as our desire to rid ourselves of the unneeded and unwanted confirms his greatest desire for us: to cleanse us from the garbage in our lives. No limits. Not even ticked off. No honk of indignation too early in the morning. We are welcomed. We are forgiven. And we are cleansed, whiter than snow.

Psalm 103:12-13

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

 

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

 

 

What Does Your Box Hold?

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It was a lofty goal, but I managed to stick to it. Before I packed away any box again, I sorted it. There have been many boxes to go through as we settle into our new house. I have rediscovered the missing and the forgotten. I have been surprised by the memories contained in those boxes. In the process, I have learned more about who I was at different stages of my growing up years. Here’s a sample peek at a young Debbie of elementary age:

1)      I used to write my name backwards. (Must have been a “leftie” thing! And it is a trick that I can still do today!)

2)      I loved Paul R., the boy next door, but he did not love me back.

3)      I loved hockey even more than the neighbor boy. (Who has a scrapbook for hockey? Who keeps hockey pucks as mementos? I did!)

4)      I wasn’t always so good at math. (I’ll have to pitch that quiz!)

5)      I have always loved dessert. (My diary reads like a tally of desserts enjoyed!)

What does my life today reveal to others? What do my priorities say about my character? Do my actions demonstrate that I care more about people than stuff? Most importantly, am I creating new memories that celebrate God’s goodness in my life? If my life was a box to store memories, what would it hold? Would it be overflowing the top and sides bulging with extra tape needed to hold it all in? It should be for God blesses in abundance.

 

 1 Thessalonians 3:6

But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.

 

Philemon 6

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.