Today it’s my privilege to welcome Lisa Brittain to the blog series, Heading Home Together.

In preparation of the upcoming release of my memoir, A Place to LandI’ll be sharing a series of posts on themes related to the book.

 

longing for home

 

This post by Lisa Brittain first appeared on her blog, and now she is graciously sharing it with us here. I love how Lisa dives into Scripture to see the common thread of home appearing over and over again.

Here’s Lisa:

 

***

 

I wonder…

if we were sitting around my favorite room of my house in our pajamas enjoying our favorite hot tea {mint for me please} and eating popcorn laced with plain M&M’s, how many different responses would result from this question:

What is home?

I imagine we would hear as many different responses as people willing to answer the question.

The definition of home is dependent on geography, culture, and generation. And in various seasons of life, home may take on a whole new look, size, and feel. Simply contemplating home can evoke some strong emotion – whether positive or negative.

The concept of home, I think, is closely tied to our hearts. And as such, the idea of home has to do with family, tradition, belonging, growing up, provision and participating.

Home is a memory-induced feeling we long for when we go out into the big wide world on our own. Or a fairy tale fabrication of what we always wished home would be for us with a vow of creating our own one day.

Where is your heart home?

Scripture abounds with stories of home. Homes lost, left, destroyed, battled over, redeemed, and rebuilt.  Homes filled with families, faith, fear, obedience, and deception. There are the elaborate homes of kings and the tents of the wandering nomads. Reading Scripture with an eye for home, it’s amazing and comforting to recognize – HOME is God’s idea.

 

 

At the beginning of Genesis, we should be in awe of God’s purposeful and loving creation of a perfect garden dwelling for His first man, Adam, and His first woman, Eve. God delighted in His people and the home He provided for them so much so God, Himself, would meet up and walk with them in the cool of the evening.

Adam and Eve forfeited the only home they had ever known with their rebellion against God. They were forced to leave home, but God didn’t leave them.

Where was the first couple’s heart home?

longing for homeWhat about God calling Abraham, out of the blue, to pack up and leave his homeland not having any idea of his destination. Abraham might be the original pioneer, taking his family, their belongings and livestock on a continual journey across foreign territory until God said, “Welcome to your new home, Abraham.” Abraham chose to believe God for His promise.

So where was Abraham’s heart home?

Moses, a Hebrew baby in a basket, was taken into Pharaoh’s home and was raised to manhood as a royal son of a foreign father. Later in life, Moses found himself caught between his bloodline and his adopted culture. After killing an Egyptian man, Moses fled to make a home of hiding in the desert.

God called to Moses from the burning bush and told Moses to go back to Egypt. Way out in that far-off land, God commissioned Moses to lead the Hebrew slaves out of captivity and into their true home – the Promised Land.

Where was Moses’ heart home?

David’s home was first a sheep pasture and then a battlefield and finally a King’s domain.

Where was David’s heart home?

And what about Jesus, who willingly left His heavenly place as the Word of God and took on flesh to live on this earth and call it home for 33 years?

Where was Jesus’ heart home?

 

Does your heart long for home?

When I ponder the word HOME, scripturally my mind automatically turns toward Naomi, whose story is told in the book of Ruth. Naomi left her home – her people – in Bethlehem of Judah. Surely this was Naomi’s heart home.

I wonder about the ripping of her heart – obedience to her husband, leaving loved ones behind in a famine, obedience to God, a mother’s desire to save and protect her children.

I wonder…

Did Naomi pack only her physical body, but leave her heart behind? Did she agree with her husband’s decision to leave their spiritual heritage – their culture and tradition?

I read the words of Scripture and I feel Naomi’s pain – the last hugs of family and friends, the heart-wrenching tearing away, and the tearful sobs deep in the gut. Surely, Naomi wondered if they were doing the right thing.

Why would they leave their heart home? Why would they leave God’s people in Bethlehem to live in a foreign land? Would they allow their children to be raised on unfamiliar food amongst a pagan people?

Did Naomi’s heart ache with a longing for home?

Later, after the men were buried, three women remained as widows. Naomi, who understood the searing pain of leaving everything familiar insisted the younger women return to their families and stay in their homeland. Yet, Ruth dramatically clung to her mother-in-law in love and devotion. Did Ruth’s heart long for the homeland of promise she had so often dreamed of through Naomi’s reminiscing?

I wonder…

Have you ever left your heart home to make a home in a foreign land?

Maybe your heart home is in the northern United States and you left it for the foreign land of the southern U.S. or vice versa. Perhaps you pioneered your way from your heart home in the east to make a home in the west. Or left your country of origin, your heart home, to live in another country – a foreign culture.

I know. It happens to me. If you’ve ever left your heart home, you feel that familiar tug – even as you read these words. Perhaps you find yourself flipping through an emotional photo album of familiar memories. The emotions are tangible – you can taste the food, smell the flowers, see your old best friend and hear the accents of your former neighbors.

My heart home is the state of Florida where I grew up, went to college, began my career, and got married.  Twenty years and almost all my memories are saturated in humid, salt breezes.

One life-changing day my newlywed husband asked excitedly, “Do you want to move to Atlanta?” My response did not share his enthusiasm, rather I squeaked out a panicked, “NO!”

Why would I want to move up north? It gets cold there and it is far from the ocean. My head was spinning as I wondered why this was happening. A move north had been nowhere on my radar. Nowhere in my plans.

The answer to why was that my husband’s position within the bank was being relocated from Orlando to Atlanta. He was excited because he had previously lived in Atlanta, and since he was originally from Dayton, Ohio, Atlanta was still considered living in the south.

I knew immediately there was no point in arguing or negotiating. This had to be a test … a newlywed test of the vows. I had just a month previous promised to go wherever he would go, live with my man in peace and assist him in his life’s work. But. Wait. This isn’t fair. I didn’t know I was promising to… leave. my. heart. home.

Isn’t it true our heart home is where we abide with Christ?

longing for homeWe’ve now lived 29 years away from my heart home. How can the tug to “go home” still be so strong when I’ve lived away longer than I lived in my heart home?

We visit, of course. We dream of one day pulling up roots and returning to my heart home along one of the coasts. We say we will, but only God knows if this is His best plan for us.

It’s here that I recognize the deep longing for our heart home is knitted into the fabric of every one of us by our Creator, Father God. We were designed for perfect garden living in a Kingdom as princess or prince forever in the worship of our King Jesus. And yet for a little while, we have been assigned to live here on this earth as Ambassadors of our King in this foreign land.

Yes, we are a people with hearts deeply longing for our heart home.

Though I want to go, I’m willing to stay put as a matter of obedience. With this new perspective, 29 years in the development, I see my time here has been beneficial. There’s been Kingdom work to do here. I see more clearly today Atlanta is home because this is where we are family – biological, faith, and neighborhood family.  Our roots are dug deep.

In truth, the idea of hearing my husband say, “How would you like to move to South Florida?” sends a hopeful thrill through my spine. And yet the true revelation is in my soul’s anticipation of finding my forever heart home with God. I’m not ready to leave this earth yet, but when I do…

The deep longing for my heart home will be finally and completely fulfilled.

I’ll be forever HOME!

 

Questions to ponder:

What emotions surge to the surface when you think of HOME?

  • When you visualize home what do you see?
    • What do you smell?
    • What do you hear?
    • What do you taste?
    • What do you feel?

 

  • What place would you say is your heart home?
    • Is there a Scriptural reference to home in which you strongly relate?

 

  • Why not take your heart home longings to the Lord asking Him for wisdom, discernment, healing and His good plans for you.
    • Will you journal your conversation with Jesus?

 

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

~Lisa

 

longing for homeLisa Brittain and her husband, Randy, reside in Lilburn, Georgia, and have been married nearly 30 years. Together they are parents to two men pioneering their own journey in life. Lisa also shares her home with three furry adopted pups – Nole, Liberty and Victor.

By day Lisa works as the receptionist of her community middle school. However, her true passion for Jesus, loving people, building community, writing, and discipling women in the Word of God to have a voice and share their testimonies flows in and through and around all the open moments of her everyday life.

 

 

 

Lisa offers many opportunities to share her journey with Jesus:

Subscribe to Lisa’s blog – eyesonJesusandshine: www.eyesonjesusandshine.wordpress.com

Follow Lisa:
Twitter: @deserttostream
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LRBrittain/
Instagram: www.instagram.com/lisarbrittain/
Tumblr: desert2stream.tumblr.com

 

Five months from today, on April 1st, 2018, Lord willing my memoir will enter the world.

To celebrate the upcoming release, for the next several months I’ll be hosting a brand new series called Heading Home Together, featuring a number of guest bloggers sharing stories on home, eternity, longing, and belonging — all themes that are present in A Place to Land.

 

sweet spot

 

To kick off this series, it’s my pleasure to welcome my friend Mary Geisen to the blog. Mary is a wise and generous woman of God. Her book, Brave Faith: A 31-Day Devotional Journey is available on Amazon.

 

sweet spot

 

Here’s Mary: 

 

***

 

The temperature felt like ninety degrees in the noonday sun. If I looked closely, I saw steam radiating off the asphalt. Nearby, my mom looked confident and in control in her tennis skirt, hat, and sunglasses.

I gazed at the volley of tennis balls distractedly, waiting for the moment I needed to fetch the ones that fell out of play.

Everything changed when I realized my mom was talking to me.

 

 

“Do you want to hit some balls with me?” she asked.

Quickly I scooped up the extra racquet and wrapped my right hand around the grip. This began my foray into the world of tennis. Time with my mom was precious. Learning how to play her favorite game was priceless.

Finding your sweet spot is a tennis player’s dream. The ball goes farther and faster and basically, you have a better chance of winning. This lesson was one my mom taught me and it has followed me through my life. I do not play tennis anymore, but I remember the sweet moments my mom and I spent together on the hot tennis court during the summer.

Reimagining home is much like finding your sweet spot.

It takes what you already know about home and mixes it with all you learn as you journey through the different seasons of life. It reframes the typical ideas of home as a shelter to be so much more. Reimagining home opens the door to your heart and makes space for seeing home through the eyes of God. And when you do this work, God aligns each part so finding your sweet spot becomes a reality.

My definition of home has changed over the years. During the last year, God completely reshaped my idea of home as I packed up and moved away from the area I lived in my whole life. He took me away from the comfortable and showed me how to find Him in the transition through friends. God welcomed me into new beginnings while teaching me that a true home will always reflect Him.

Reimagining home embraces your basic beliefs by providing the foundation and adds on God’s lessons to give it shape.

Home is …

Arms open wide ready to embrace you in a hug.

Making dinner and sharing it with those you love.

Not just the place you lay your head at night.

The door you walk through to acceptance.

An open window of invitation.

The foundation of who you are and what you are becoming.

Home allows joy and sorrow to coexist and never judges. We feel most at home when we know that leaving doesn’t mean forever, but until we meet again. When goodbyes happen, home is still there. Home is not only where your people are, but who you carry in your heart.

Finally,

Home is finding your sweet spot.

It is the place where you are always invited.

Where you will always have a seat at the table.

And the place you recognize who you are becoming because it’s where you feel most like YOU!

As you reimagine home, let go of any preconceived ideas and let God reframe them for you. Embrace the welcome, find your seat at the table and allow yourself to become the person God created you to be. Open your heart to new beginnings. Journey on the path to becoming and let God lead you to where you ache for home.

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

 

Mary Geisen

Mary Geisen is a lover of coffee and deep, soul-filled conversations. She is the mom of two married sons, a retired teacher, writer, author and seeker of grace in the ordinary. Several years ago, God called her to bravely step out by sharing her journey in written form. The power of God’s words has inspired her journey of healing and drawing closer to God through the power of grace. She continues to walk toward brave faith in her everyday life and encourages others to do the same.

Two years ago this month, a dear friend of mine sat at my kitchen table and filled out a lengthy, tedious application to commit herself to an out-of-state residential treatment center called Vision of Hope.

As I paged through the application with her, my eyebrows were permanently raised. I knew I could never make such a commitment myself. The requirements and limitations set on the residents were lofty and strenuous.

But my friend, trapped in bondage at the time, signed on the dotted line.

With God’s help, she has remained in the program for two whole years, and is still a part of it.

She is a walking testimony to the grace of God.

She has changed from the inside out. And it’s nothing short of a glorious sight to behold.

Today, I’ve invited her to share a snippet of her story. For privacy reasons, I’ve decided not to share her name.

Here’s my friend’s story: 

On July 23, 2015, my whole world changed. I walked into a place that demanded full surrender. But I was still clamoring for control. My view of my life was futile and small. My view of myself was broken and consuming.

I had no hope.

I was just done trying. But there I was, at a residential treatment center called Vision of Hope. That word mocked me.

How did I even get there in the first place?

People in my life had prayed and urged and prayed some more. They were so confident that I could find healing in this place. They were so confident that things could change. I was riding on their hopes. I had none of my own. And I had already determined exactly how long I was going to give this program before I gave up completely on life.

You see up until that point, I had done everything in my power to control how I wanted my life to go. The ironic thing about that was, in clamoring for my own control, I actually lost more and more of it…until, my life was literally chaos, and I was chained to addictive patterns of “escaping” that chaos.

Fast-forward almost two years now and I can’t even describe to you all the areas of my heart that the Lord has totally overhauled. Things I never expected, like pride and selfishness, were exposed as the Vision of Hope staff pushed me deeper into God’s Word and deeper into the roots of my addiction.

My idolatry was explained as we faced the ways I was chasing my kingdom, instead of loving God with my whole heart. It has been a crazy journey full of very hard choices. Choices to surrender. And I am still learning and growing in my fight to surrender to My Shepherd instead of my sin.

I haven’t graduated from this program yet, because Vision of Hope has an open-ended time commitment. They know that bringing about lasting change takes a unique amount of time and diligence in God’s Word for each individual. But I am so thankful for what God has already done!

 

race for hope

Race for Hope

I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about this ministry because we are coming up on one of our biggest annual fundraisers, called Race for Hope.

Something that makes Vision of Hope unique is that it keeps the cost for residents incredibly low. They only ask for $400 dollars a month! That hardly covers room and board and doesn’t even touch all of the certified Biblical counseling, training, and classes that the residents go through as the Staff strives to lead each of them to the Savior.

How can they do that? They rely on support from the body of Christ to give and relieve the financial burden of these girls that come in already carrying enough heavy burdens. Burdens like addictions to drugs and alcohol, patterns of self-harm, eating disorders, unplanned pregnancies, scars from being sexually trafficked, and more.

I’m writing this to ask you to be a part of lifting that burden.

Race for Hope is happening on June 10th this year. Vision of Hope has a fundraising goal of $50,000 total.

Are you ready to hear how you can get involved?

To donate, follow this link, and choose to either support one of our teams/runners, or just donate to the ministry as a whole. If you choose to support one of our teams, all funds go to the same total and it gives that extra boost to the girls who are working hard to raise support.

This is also a joint fundraising event for Faith Bible Seminary, so you will see those teams on the list as well.

You can also learn more about Vision of Hope and what they do by clicking here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and consider getting involved!

It’s my pleasure to welcome author and speaker Cindy Bultema to the blog today, with a special guest post and giveaway!

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Cindy at two writing conferences. She served as a keynote speaker on one occasion, and I was so moved by her powerful testimony. Cindy has a bubbly, contagious joy and is a dynamic speaker and Bible teacher.

Cindy BultemaCindy’s newest Bible study, Live Full Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World released in December as part of the Inscribed Series at Thomas Nelson. In this journey through 1 Corinthians, Cindy equips women to live a set-apart life for Christ in our sin-soaked world.

Here’s Cindy with a sneak peek at Chapter 5 of Live Full Walk Free:

 

You Are Not the Only One

I was talking with my friend Jamie recently after she’d had a long, disappointing Monday.

Everywhere she turned she was pelted with lies, frustration, and discouragement.

Jamie was lamenting that at the end of her long day, in the midst of trying to bake cookies for a sick friend—and burning half of them—she caved in and inhaled a huge handful of half-burned cookies.

Easy comfort, right? Except every woman knows what happened next: After eating those cookies, Jamie carried guilt and shame on top of everything else that had gone wrong in her life on that horrible, rotten, no good day.

I have so been there. My guess is: you have too.

One more cookie story, because in this life we will have cookie temptations.

Once, when my kids were ages one, two, three and ten, I came up with the brilliant idea to invite all the 4th grade moms from my son’s school over for coffee, conversation, and homemade chocolate chip cookies.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but my plan to win friends and influence people through chocolate quickly went bust. In the midst of trying to keep my kiddos busy, roll store-bought dough onto cookie sheets, and frantically hide all our clutter – I gave in and ate (more like “sucked down”) four ooey, gooey warm and chewy cookies.

Later that week, when I sunk down into my therapist’s couch, I cried and told her that I was disgusted with myself. I was filled with self-loathing, and shame. Why? Because of the cookies. I told her that I had been striving to pretend I had it all together – when the reality was I was hanging on by a thread (a thin thread, at that).

And then, longing for connection and acceptance from these other moms, I had tried to numb my feelings with homemade cookies. And afterward, what did I do? I let the enemy flood me with lies and guilt and shame.

My therapist listened and nodded. “Cindy, do you think you are the only woman who has eaten some of her homemade cookies?”

“But I ate four cookies. Not one, not two, but four.” I said loudly, as if she spoke a foreign language and couldn’t understand the meaning of the number four.

“Cindy, do you think you are the only woman who has eaten FOUR of her homemade cookies?” my therapist replied.

“Um, yeah, probably not”.

So recently, when I listened to my friend Jamie describe her discouragement and self-loathing over eating her chocolate chip cookies, I recycled my therapist’s question.

“Jamie, do you think you are the only woman who has eaten some of her homemade cookies? Because, friend, you are not the only one.”

The words I gave Jamie are the words I want to give to you: You are not the only one.

  • You are not the only one who deviated from your healthy eating plan.
  • You are not the only one who feels disappointed, discouraged, or overwhelmed.
  • You are not the only one who wonders if you’re “not enough” compared to air brushed perfection.

And, sweet friend, you are not meant to live under harsh judgment, condemnation, and self-loathing.

Thankfully God’s Word speaks realistically to you, to me, and to cookie lovers everywhere about how to live full, free lives—even in the midst of our most disappointing and discouraging of days.

We can start by choosing to extend the same grace we would share with a girlfriend to ourselves.

We would never say to a friend who indulged on fresh-baked cookies, “You stink. You have no self-control, everyone thinks you are fat, and no one likes you anyway.”

You would never say that, right?

So why do we let the enemy put such horrible, garbage thoughts in our head?!

Let’s choose grace over guilt.

Let’s choose freedom over frustration.

Let’s choose kindness over constant criticism and comparisons.

Let’s choose life…life to the full, more than enough, super abundance, full, free life! (John 10:10)

May the God who made you, knows you, loves you, and desires to fill your days with satisfying, life-giving moments remind you afresh that you are accepted, loved and enough—cookie crumbs and all!

***

Cindy’s latest Bible study, Live Full Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World released in December 2016 as part of the Inscribed Series at Thomas Nelson.

Visit Cindy’s blog to watch the study trailer and download FREE resources!

 

Cindy Bultema

 

 

Cindy BultemaWith nearly 20 years of ministry experience, Cindy is a popular women’s speaker, author, and Bible teacher. But don’t let her cheerful smile fool you—Cindy has endured single parenting, overcome bondage to addiction, and survived tragic loss. Cindy lives in Michigan with her husband and their four kids. Most days you can find Cindy walking her beagle Rocky, attending one of her boys’ hockey games, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school.

 

 

And now it’s time for a giveaway!

Cindy is generously offering a copy of her Bible study to one winner!

Enter to win below!

Cindy Bultema

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Welcome to another round of Five Minute Friday!

My challenge for you this week is to click around the link-up until you find someone who is joining FMF for the first time. Last week I found at least three newcomers, and it makes me smile every time!

If you’re brand new to the Five Minute Friday scene, you can learn more about us by clicking here!

This week, it’s my privilege to welcome Shannon Popkin as a guest blogger. Shannon is the author of Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible, which releases Friday, January 27th!

 

control

 

Here’s Shannon Popkin with this week’s Five Minute Friday post on the prompt:

 

control

 

 

Control. The desire for it wells up from somewhere very deep inside of me. I crave it. I feel compelled to lunge for it; to do whatever it takes to have it. I feel an urgency to take control, wondering what might happen if I don’t!

And so I go for it. I leap for it. I run for it. I grasp it as tightly as I can and clutch it with all my might.

Then without comment, control slips through my fingers like a mirage. It flutters like a leaf, blown upward into heaven.

I see now that it was all a tease. I never did have a grasp on that blasted control.

This makes me angry and frustrated. I shout at it to get right back here, and jab my finger at the ground in front of me. Then I whimper like a child because I need it so badly. But control is not mine to be had. It doesn’t belong in my hands. It belongs in God’s.

I look up to search His face, wondering why He has taken the control I so deeply long for. Is He taunting me? Is He Indifferent and aloof? Does he even see me all the way down here, beneath his throne?

I wave my hands frantically, to let him know that I need Him to send it back down. I’m ready to hold on more tightly, now. I won’t let go this time.

There’s movement. He sees me! He’s stooping low. For a moment, I’m terrified, and then I see kindness in His eyes. He whispers something into my soul and I lean forward to hear it. You were not designed to carry the burden of control. Won’t you let me carry it for you?

And then He shows me His hands. His massive, wise, holy hands. They are good, God hands.

And at first glance I didn’t notice, but now I do! He’s holding something, there. Are they threads? They’re translucent yet as strong as steel.

I look closer and see a trillion plotlines being woven together in such complexity and beauty, such that I’ve never laid eyes on. His strong fingers are twisting and tying and looping the details together—details of people who are known and loved by Him—in intricate patterns so that each thread moves the story along toward a conclusion that fills my heart with such joy I can hardly breathe.

I can’t see the ending; I can’t see the full pattern. But I just know that it is good.

“It is very good,” I hear Him say.

But when I turn my eyes back to His face, He is gone. Hidden from sight. Just like that.

It was only a glimpse, but it was enough.

I am settled now, at peace with what I can’t see and what I don’t know. I no longer feel the angst in my soul, pressing me to take and keep and have control.

He’s in control, so I don’t have to be.

 

 

control

Author and speaker Shannon Popkin loves to blend her gifts for storytelling and humor with her passion for God’s Word. Shannon is the author of Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible, and is a contributing blogger at TrueWoman.com.

Shannon is happy to be sharing life with Ken, who makes her laugh every single day. Together, they live the fast-paced life of parenting three teens. For more information and companion resources for Control Girl, including a downloadable discussion guide for leaders, go to ControlGirl.com.  Shannon would love to connect with you at shannonpopkin.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

 

 

 

Now it’s your turn! What comes to mind when you think of the word, CONTROL? Share with us in five minutes or less!

 

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