My fifteen year old dog, Lily woke me up early this Saturday morning. I've never been a morning person. I’m beginning to think the Lord is using her to get me out of bed! There were thoughts to ponder, words to write and I needed to get on with it. So here I am laying in my prayer loft with my coffee and my lavender scented candle staring into space, trying to focus. The house is quiet. The torrential rain we’ve had all week causing massive flooding in Louisiana has finally slowed down.
As I gaze around, I spot this card in the little bookcase.
I’ve had it for years. It speaks to my soul. It’s title is “Cathedral.” I bought it years ago on a trip to Colorado. I love the cathedral arch of trees made from nature. To me, the card is a picture of the beauty of creation drawing you in to worship the Creator. The colors beyond the arch are full of light, vibrant and rich. They beckon you to pass through. The light draws you. There is great beauty when you choose to pass through the doorway and enter in. I know...I’m a hopeless romantic and I’m totally ok with that! Art and visual images speak to my soul. That’s the way God made me.
My mind wanders to all the little visual expressions around my home. I realize I collect things that have a sacred meaning to me, things that inspire me, reminders of Scriptures and faith lessons. As I go down the stairs to make another cup of coffee, I notice some of them in every room I pass. It is my way of creating an atmosphere in my home of beauty and meaning....reminders of who I am and whose I am. Most of them have been gifts from friends, family and our choir. Some I have made myself or purchased. Paintings, photographs, my pottery creations, sacred Words, sculptures, and books all grace the walls and surfaces. All speak messages that are unique for our home. I want my home to be a place where the Spirit of Christ is evident everywhere....a place where creativity is expressed, where the senses find delight and the soul is refreshed.....a haven of love and grace.
Ours is not a perfect home. We are blessed that it is filled with beautiful things and gifts of love, but we live real life here. Later this morning I discovered that our dog was sick during the night in several rooms all over the carpet! And I walked in this afternoon to find a snake in my kitchen! Yes a snake! The high flood waters have them searching dry, high ground and this one liked my kitchen! Apparently, we had left a door open earlier. Ugh! I was in a panic, frozen in fear. Ken was at a rehearsal. Fortunately, a neighbor came and rescued me and got the unwanted visitor out. It's kind of funny when I think about it now as I am blogging about home. Not exactly my vision of a peaceful, beautiful home, but definitely real!
Amidst the beautiful artwork, there is too much clutter, repairs to be made,(like the current leak we just discovered in the roof!) and many areas that need my attention. But, it is our special place, the home my father built for us long ago, the home where my children were raised, the home where we have kindled our love for each other and for our Lord, the place where we know the intimacy of belonging and the joy of becoming. In this home we have laughed and cried, worked, celebrated with friends, made treasured memories and glorious music, feasted, worshipped and prayed for 33 years.
I want my home to be a place where people want to linger, where they sense the presence of Jesus, where they feel loved and welcome in an atmosphere of beauty. I imagine you feel the same way. Perhaps you love to cook and your home is more a place where wonderful tastes and smells draw in those whom you love. Your home should be a reflection of you, a blessing to be shared. Our homes reflect our beliefs and our personalities with the colors we choose, the messages we portray, and more importantly the love found within them. That’s what transforms the buildings that provide us shelter into homes that nurture us, protect us, and warm us.
Love. Lavish, extravagant love. Love that sacrifices.
Love that holds us together in the storms of life.
Love that provides a safe haven, a place of devotion to Jesus.
That is what is of greatest value in the homes we create.
As I ponder that thought, my mind goes back to the stories of Jesus ministry in the homes He frequented.
Jesus was drawn to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. We see him in Bethany sharing a meal with his friends, teaching words of truth. He felt welcome there. He felt loved there. Most of us know the story of Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary,who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus. She was devoted to His words. She listened. His presence was of utmost importance to her. She loved her Lord deeply, extravagantly. She chose to pour out her love on Him in her home, despite the scorn of her very busy and distracted sister.
Because Mary chose devotion to Jesus in her home, she knew intimately the heart of her Lord.
Mark 14:3-9 (NIV)
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
We learn from the same account in John that the woman was Mary and the disciple who rebuked her was Judas.
“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” John 12:3-5
It was the week before Passover. Six days before Jesus was arrested and then crucified.
Before He went into the city for the final week of His life, Jesus went once more to Bethany, and there He shared a feast of supper with friends.
I have always found it so fascinating that Mary seemed to be the only one who seemed to understand what was facing Jesus, even though the disciples had been told. She had listened to His words and they had stirred her heart to a place of reckless abandon in worship.
She broke open the alabaster jar of perfume described as "nard." Nard is the word the ancient Greeks used for lavender. Her treasure, worth a years wages, was broken and poured out on the feet of Jesus. Mary unbound her hair and wiped the oil on his feet.... an act that was scandalous in her day. But, Mary, who had made Jesus a welcome, invited guest in her home knew something that somehow the other disciples seem to have missed. Her Lord’s death was imminent.
She did not count the cost of her worship.
Like the jar of perfume, she was willing to be broken, spilled out and used up for her Savior.
Her devotion to Christ that day, despite the scorn, turned that home in Bethany into a temple of worship.
And these were the words of Jesus about her, “ Wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” The beauty and fragrance of her act of worship has had a spiritual effect and blessing throughout the world for generations. What a legacy!
It was an offering of worship that began in a home, as Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listened to His words of life and then chose to pour her lavish love over Him.
There is a beautiful poem written by Ken Gire about this Scripture. I keep it in my prayer loft as a reminder of the beauty of extravagant love for the Savior. I think it is a significant poem for us to ponder as we prepare our hearts for the coming week of Good Friday and Easter.
The aroma of extravagant love.
So pure. so lovely.
Flowing from the veined alabaster vase
of Mary's broken heart---
a heart broken against the hard reality
of her Savior's imminent death.
Mingled with tears, the perfume became--
by some mysterious chemistry of Heaven--
Potent enough behind the years of each century
for the scent to linger to this day.
Doubtless, the fragrance, absorbed by his garment,
as it flowed from his head,
Accompanied Christ through the humiliation of his trials,
the indignity of his mockings,
the pain of his beatings,
the inhumanity of his cross.
Through the heavy smell of sweat and blood,
A hint of that fragrance must have arisen
from his garment---
Until, at shameful last, the garment was stripped
and gambled away.
And maybe, just maybe, it was that scent
amid the stench of humanity rabbled around the cross,
that gave the Savior the strength to say:
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
And as Mary walked away from the cross,
The same scent probably still lingered in the now-limp hair
she used to dry the Savior's feet---
A reminder of the love that spilled
from his broken alabaster body.
So pure, So lovely.
So truly extravagant.
It was a vase he never regretted breaking.
Nor did she.
from Windows of the Soul by Ken Gire
I’m praying that my legacy is like that of Mary.
Devotion...Worship...Deep, extravagant love for Jesus...a willing heart of sacrifice and bold faith.
Students will come in and out of our home for voice and piano lessons. I will seek to share the love of Jesus with them as I teach music.
Then on Friday night, we will have a Restore Reunion here for all the women who have participated in past Restore Retreats. We will have dinner in the garden, teaching, worship, music, and prayer together as we spend time restoring our hearts and spirits in the beauty of His presence.
"When two or more are gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst." Matthew 18:20
I want the fragrance of my home to be that of devotion to Jesus for all who enter.
I pray that it always reflects the beauty and message of His love and grace.
My lavender candle is still burning as I finish writing. The fragrance will linger as I leave my home to tend to the needs of the day. That same fragrance will beckon me back again to spend time listening to His Words of truth and love. Truly, it is the aroma of the Savior's love that calls me home.
How can you create a place of beauty, worship and welcome in your home this week?
Our homes can provide an environment for us to become all that God uniquely created each of us to be.
Home should be a place where the truth, love, and grace of Jesus cover all who dwell within.
Think of the legacy you can leave for generations to come!
For home is, above all, about the people who dwell within and the love that is shared.
Blessed to be at home,
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