"" Life A Bit Sweeter: Mission Accomplished...well, almost.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mission Accomplished...well, almost.

While some of us may speak very little Spanish and others are very fluent, I believe the phrase ‘mi casa es su casa’ is universal and spoken by many. If you’re not familiar, I’m talking about the phrase - my house is your house. One of my former manager’s wives seemed to me to have the art of hospitality mastered. When you enter their home, you immediately feel as if you are truly ‘home’. You are made to feel welcomed and wanted and never an intruder into their lives. Besides their personal bedrooms, there were no rooms off-limits to their guests – no clear plastic-covered furniture here! You are instead encouraged to come in, take your shoes off (if you want) and just relax. It is a home that truly feels lived in. I made it my purpose to try to glean from Debra, my manager’s wife what she ‘did’ to make this house such a sanctuary and refuge. Without any specific instructions from her, what I learned from watching her was that this was just a part of who she is – a true servant at heart. By observing her family as well, you will find that they are a family who purpose to serve people wherever they are.

Thinking about Debra and her home made me think about the mission of my own home. Any successful business or organization grows and operates purposefully because it lives for its mission. Whether it’s intentionally created or ignored. Whether you’re married or single and live in an apartment or single-family house, your home has a mission. What does your home’s current mission say about your household? Is it there to tear down or build up? Is it there as a show place or a place of rest and renewal for your immediate family members and visitors? Does it nurture and protect or destroy and shamelessly expose the hurting spirit?

I remember when my husband and I started looking for our first home. We completed all of the pre-work for purchasing a home from securing financing to the exciting discussions about our dreams for the look of this new house. Despite all of this preparation, the process was frustrating because we thought that since we had been pre-approved for our loan, everything else would be a breeze! It was during the housing boom when houses only stayed on the market for a few days….a true seller’s market. We must have looked at close to 100 properties by four different real estate agents over a 1-year time span and been turned down for at least 20 contracts. During this time, it seemed like everyone around us was purchasing a home or getting a new car or something EXCEPT us! We were irritated and devastated and it just seemed hopeless which is why we kept switching agents. Foolishly, we thought they didn’t know what they were doing, little did we know or probably want to accept that God was preparing a home that was just for us.

Our final agent took us to see a property that strangely enough been on the market for several weeks. Prior to this home, all the other homes that we truly desired were newer or remodeled and showcased hardwood floors, berber carpet, granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances just to name a few of the upgrades that made our eyes shine. Needless to say, we had our eyes fixed on something newer and/or already fixed up so imagine our faces when we first entered this older home. This 1970’s-outfitted house displayed royal blue carpeting, brown wooden hollow doors with gold knobs in every room, gray wood paneling in the bedroom, and psychedelic tile in the kitchen and family rooms. While the previous homeowners had done an amazing job maintaining the property, they hadn’t done much in terms of modern upgrades according to what our tastes were at the time. All my husband could do was say no, this is not for us! Well, truly, although the interior of the house didn’t compare to the newer homes we had seen, I was captivated by the amount of space; it had quite a bit of square footage and sat on almost an acre of land. This space didn’t compare to the small square footage and land lots we had seen previously in newer homes. Now, when you add that to the fact that we had been living with my mother-in-law for the past year, this house was looking pretty good to me. While she had gone above and beyond in being a gracious hostess and probably wanted her house back to herself, we also definitely needed our own space and there was just something else about this home that felt ‘right’. With the guiding of the Holy Spirit and despite his original resistance, my husband agreed within 24-hours to put a contract on the house. In short, the owner accepted our offer over another family, although we offered below the asking price. After we closed on the home, right away we started pulling up the royal blue carpet in the living and dining areas and discovered gleaming oak hardwood floors which appeared to have never been used. My father-in-law worked tirelessly in replacing over 20 brown wooden doors with new white paneled interior doors. We painted and pulled down the paneled walls. We replaced the psychedelic tile in the kitchen and family rooms. Finally, we had a home that we loved and it was all ours....or was it?

What I discovered a year later was that this home was never and will never be ours. This was never about us. This was and is God’s house. While we could only see the negative in the house when we encountered it for the first time, God saw the potential. (Doesn’t He do the same with us?) While we thought that every door was closing in our faces when we were turned down for contract after contract, we were actually walking one step closer to the home God was preparing for us to inhabit. (What doors are seeming to close for you? What could God be saying to you about your circumstances?)

Since moving into this home, we’ve seen many people, including ourselves, blessed because of this house. We’ve had family members and friends come to rest and stay at this home for hours, weeks, and even a year at a time. I feel the peace of God in this place. We never needed this much square footage for our little family but God had a mission for this home and for our lives and it’s up to us to be obedient to fulfill it. This is exactly where our little girl will fit in. God knew that this would be her home too.

Some years ago, I took a cue from something Debra’s family did, we named our house. It’s called ‘The House that Love Built.’ To some, this name may be interpreted to refer to the love that we, the inhabitants, display to one another and our guests. While this is very true, consider that Love refers to God. I John 4:8 says that God is Love. To us, it’s the House that God Built to serve the needs of others.

From this, I say to you that no matter what it may look like in your home right now (and I don’t just mean the physical appearance of your home – I’m talking about your circumstances too)…whether the children seem to be running wild or your marriage seems to be falling apart, along with your spouse if you are married, take some prayerful time to write out the mission statement for your home and watch everything else line up accordingly as you speak life into your home. Don’t worry about making the mission perfect because it may change over time as God leads you. This mission will help you to stay on course for where your family is headed and the purpose that He wants you to fulfill in that community. Learn to have a servant’s heart for every person that enters the threshold. Pull out the best china at dinner. Purpose to make your home a haven that becomes a refuge from the bitterness of the world. Truly learn to be a keeper of your home and watch the Lord be a keeper of you and your family. You’re not in that home by coincidence or mistake. Our communities need beacons of light where the lost can find refuge and a place of healing and hope. When you turn on your streetlight tonight, consider the Message translation of Matthew 5:14-17 – “Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

As for me and my house and in the words of what used to be my son’s favorite song as a baby...this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine! God bless and keep you.


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