How to Build a House … The Easy Way

 

Framd Sabrina Beasley McDonald house under construction

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. Psalm 127:1 (AMP)

My husband and I were living in central Pennsylvania when he decided to look for another job. After much dreaming and discussion, we got out a map and said we’d target the southeast United States, an area that we love.

“I don’t want to live any further north than the Pennsylvania border and no further west than the Mississippi River,” I firmly declared.

With many unknown facts that were predicated on a potential future job offer, we made decisions about where we would live, where our children would go to school, and what house we would buy. After hours of Internet searches, we finalized our lives in a neat package, and then presented our facts to God.

While searching, but not finding this dream job, my husband had the opportunity to step out of the food-manufacturing world into the entrepreneurial world. We bought an Exxon gas station in our town. I can remember looking over the building and imagining what it would be like to own it. I even excitedly said, “If we owned this, I would be here all the time and never want to leave.” It was a self-fulfilling prophecy—we didn’t ever leave.

After several years of low margins, many long hours, and no vacations, I was so relieved when my husband was offered a food-manufacturing job in Buffalo, New York. It was a job above the northern PA border. What? This was not part of our perfect geographical plan. My husband commuted while I worked at the station until it was sold.

Three months after we moved our household belongings to Buffalo, we learned that the plant was closing. The next job offer he accepted was west of the Mississippi in Little Rock, AR. Seriously? Again, outside of our acceptable location.

God must get a good belly-laugh as He listens to our prayers of what we will and won’t do as we labor in vain to build our futures. Doesn’t He also know just the necessary touch to melt our hard hearts?

Best decisions are forged from knowing all the facts. Only God knows all the facts—past, present, future. In His arms, there are no wrong decisions. There is no nail biting about which way to turn or what to do. Instead there is joy, laughter, peace, and assurance that He is building our house and guarding our city.

Living in those states (still in Little Rock, after 11 years) may not have been of our choosing at the time. However, in retrospect, recalling the blessings that God gave to us would fill several books. Gratitude was a huge lesson we learned. I’m so thankful that He knew just how to build our house. He knew our labor would be in vain if He let us take action on our decisions.

Paraphrasing Joyce Meyer’s famous quote, I firmly declare:

I’m not where I need to be forever, but thank God I’m not where I used to be yesterday.

Love Is …

Love Is
My husband’s 2016 Valentine’s Day card…shhhhhhh

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  I John 4:16 NIV

Valentine’s Day conjures many thoughts and words:

  • Romance
  • Roses
  • Hearts
  • Chocolate
  • Cupid—the chubby, winged little boy who shoots his arrow and injects a dose of uncontrollable love and desire into our loved one’s heart

While many words come to mind at the mention of the famous February 14 celebration, perhaps the word most associated with Valentine’s Day is love.

For me, a sweet memory comes from the daily newspaper Love Is . . . cartoon strip from the 1960s-70s. In the cartoon, a tastefully drawn, naked boy and girl share their love sentiments for each other.

Human Love

When I was 20-years-old and newly engaged, I cut out Love Is cartoons and gave them to my fiancé so that we could commemorate our romance. It made my heart feel all mushy and gooey. Our love was heartfelt, but it was also immature and inexperienced.

Now after 39 years of marriage, here is my version of love:

Love is … something that survives and thrives through good times, hard times, and hardest times.

Love is … something that you think you feel for someone, but is not fathomed until you nurture it for many years.

Love is … something that you think is currently at its pinnacle, but isn’t because it grows deeper and more cherished each day.

God’s Love

There is a deeper and richer love available that’s beyond human perspective: God’s perfect love.

His love offered:

Love is … God. He loved us first.

Love is … withholding what we prayed for in exchange for giving us something better.

Love is … closing all the doors and windows in our life, except one.

Love is … allowing us to walk through trials, but never alone.

Love is … offering us the ultimate, sacrificial Valentine’s gift: eternal life.

Our love response:

Love is … not having the answers, but holding the hand of the One who can always be trusted.

Love is … cleaning out our hearts to make room for the One from whom we can never be separated.

Love is … walking hand-in-hand through the dark with the One who lights our path, one step at a time.

Love is … accepting the love He offers through yesterday’s sacrifice on the cross. The love that bonds us forever with the One who created love.