In nine days our family is moving. This isn’t something we were planning to do this year. After all, 2020 isn’t exactly the ideal time to add additional stress and strain. It would’ve been easier to hunker down, ride out the storm, and leave the packing and moving to someone more ambitious.
But here we are. In less than two weeks, my husband and I will move our family from our house of twelve years to another house only twenty-five minutes away. Why, you ask? We have a heart for fixer-uppers. And this new home is precisely that.
It’s not much to look at — not yet, anyway. The previous owner moved out of the state over a year ago. Other than the rare check-in, it has sat vacant and unattended. And the impact of this year-long abandonment is obvious.
Yellowed grass. Faded paint. Weeds left to overgrow rock beds, patio stones, and take over the entire yard. A once-lovely fountain polluted with green sludge. And a rather large family of mice that are holding the garage hostage.
And that’s merely the exterior. The interior isn’t any better. Stained carpet. Damaged windows. Failing appliances.
This kind of disrepair didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s the result of a daily lack of attention. The funny thing about houses is that they require regular upkeep — the daily kind. Every day, I need to wipe off dirty kitchen counters or bacteria start to fester. If I ignore the bathroom for more than a week, the shower starts to mildew, and the toilet starts to stain. And if my kids forget to take out the garbage? The fragrance reminds us tomorrow.
As I was taking in this abandoned and needy house, I couldn’t help but take stock of my tendency to neglect the home of my heart. I nurture hurts and disappointments, rehashing words said and wrongs done as if replaying them will make me feel better. I fail to confess the critical comments I’ve muttered and the prideful thoughts I’ve pondered, letting them outgrow the kindness and compassion and mercy I claim to prize. And unforgiveness? Well I can ignore that for years if I want to.
The result? Garbage, weeds, disrepair. The funny thing about the heart is that it requires daily upkeep, too. It can’t wait for spring cleaning or even Sunday. And, unlike a home, I can’t hire out its care. It requires attention — my attention. Daily weeding, daily nurture, daily cleaning, and airing out. When I abandon the responsibility for too long? The fragrance is telling — to me and to those I encounter.
If only I put as much daily attention into the status of my spirit as I did the care of my face and hair! Rarely will I jump on a work meeting or video interview without spending a half hour perfecting my appearance. And yet, too often I dive into my days and to-dos without even ten minutes of inspecting my heart.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
As the ground is the source of new life — whether gardens or weeds — the heart is the source of our lives. If we don’t tend it, day after day, we may not like what grows. So what does it mean to “guard your heart”? Here are a few questions I’m learning to consider as a way of closely tending the home of my heart:
- Did I acknowledge my absolute need and dependence on God today?
- Have I said or done anything to anyone for which I need to apologize or make right?
- Is there a wound or hurt that I’m hanging on to?
- Is there a person whom I have not yet forgiven?
Yes, in nine days we’re moving. It will take months of hard work and daily tending to turn the abandoned house into a place we can call home. Even so, I believe the effort will be good for my heart. Turns out, God has a thing for fixer-uppers, too. And may He guide my hands and tend my heart so my life looks like the home He designed, a garden swelling with vibrant life.Leave a Comment
Leeann Miracle says
Good Morning thank you for such a positive morning eye opener.
Michele Cushatt says
Good morning, Leeann. Love spending a little time together this morning, sister. xo
What a beautiful and timely message for me. I needed this. Thank you!
Michele Cushatt says
Me too, Rita. So glad it encouraged.
Carmen Becker says
Excellent symbolism. Reminders are always accepted and appreciated.
Michele Cushatt says
Hope you have a heart-filling day, my friend. He is with us.
Ann Woleben says
Thank you for sharing this message. This reminds me of Psalm 51:10 ~ “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” This verse is often a part of my morning prayers.
Michele Cushatt says
A beautiful Psalm. Thank you for sharing, Ann.
Jo Ann Alo says
Conviction and confirmation all over this post.
Michele Cushatt says
Right there with you on the conviction. Was reminded again this morning how easily I default to lesser tending. Thanks for being here, Jo Ann.
Kathy Francescon says
Such a great reminder and your words so beautifully crafted! Wonderfully inspiring and so needed this day…
Beth Williams says
It is shocking to me the amount of time people put into their overall appearance. We want to make a great first impression so we spend hours primping & fine tuning the outside of ourselves. In light of that we often forget to tend/care for our heart. Luke 6:45 “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. ” Jesus warned the people about being like the Pharisees & Sadducees. They were concerned about outward appearances & keeping the law. They didn’t care about people only their prestige. Take time daily to weed out your heart. Make sure you input good Holy Scripture & music daily.
Susan E Long says
Michele, Thank you for this timely reminder! May your move go smoothly. I have enjoyed your “Relentless” podcasts so much! Your writing is beautiful.
Michele Cushatt says
Thank you, Susan! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed them. May you feel our Father’s faithful presence behind, before, beside, and within you this day.
Very well said. Why is it we tend to busy ourselves with the act of doing anything rather than sitting with God, hearing His heart for us and being who he created us to be? There is true blessing and gained strength in reading His Word and seeking Him everyday.
Janet Williams says
Oh My Gosh Michele….Did this piece of your devotion hit home…… “I fail to confess the critical comments I’ve muttered and the prideful thoughts I’ve pondered, letting them outgrow the kindness and compassion and mercy I claim to prize”. My poor husband. He is definitely “the garden” that gets “my weeds”…lol. Thankfully, in the morning, as I run or walk my dog, I get the blessed opportunity to have a conversation with God and be reminded of my “absolute need and dependence upon HIM”
Thank you God…and Thank you Michele.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
We have to work hard ever day on our heart. Especially as followers of Jesus. It can be hard especially if we have been annoy by something someone has said to us. Especially if it was not nice and not our fault. It can hurt us badly that we feel like revenue. It hurts all the more if the person was saved that said it too us. They shouldn’t have said it they should have knew better. You were only saying a point to them about something because you can’t do something for your own good. They shouldn’t have that is ok I understand why you can’t do it for your own good. Not said what they said. To hurt you. You then have to think her. What would Jesus want me to do. I have been her with a friend in the past. If I had I could have had words with her that would have been on Godly. Because over something she said that she shouldn’t have. Because I told my friend I could not do some for health reasons that she wanted me to do. Then she had words with me that hurt. I had to work hard with God through the Holy Spirit not to let what my friend said to me annoy me. Let my heart do what God wanted it to be and that was kind and caring and forgivening to my friend. Yes it was hard at the time. But I did it. But before I did it. I went to another good Christian friend and told her. She said for me to pray for her. Do what Jesus would want me to do and that is forgive her my other friend that is also saved. My other friend said what she said my other friend that is also saved was not nice. She should have thought before she said what she did. But Dawn you have to do what Jesus would want you to do. You have to say nothing back to her just pray for her and forgive her. The friend that is saved that said the things she should not have said. I did that I prayed for the friend that was saved that said things she should not have said to me. I handed her over to God and forgive her. I felt a lot better. If I had not done that my heart would have still felt heavy and every time I saw my friend that was saved. That said the things she should not have said. I would have found it hard to talk to her again. Jesus would no want that from me. God helped me do it through the Holy Spirit. My heart felt so much lighter. Thank you again incourage for another excellent reading. Keeping you all in my prayers. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little
m k w says
Just perfect timing!
…I’m days away from moving into into my ‘fixer-upper’ ..which has used all my resources.including $$ & friends & time! The Lord told me early on I was ‘redeeming’ this house “like He redeemed me!!!” Ouch! ..& He’s faithful to show me most of the parallels & similarities between the two processes.. in the natural & spiritual!! & it leaves me amazed at His Love & patience over the years…(& my friends’ too who’ve hung in there!)
I pray He won’t stop… there’s more to do before He’s done… 🙂 sure can’t do it without Him!!
Thanks for a for a timely article!!
Brenda Poppars says
Thank you for reminding me to tend to my heart .
Susan Ashcraft says
This is such a unique, imaginative, and refreshing way to look at the state of the heart. I now have the image of sweeping the unforgiveness, hurt and pride away and leaving my heart fresh for the new day. Thank you so much for this offering of love.
Lydia F. says
God bless you for the reminder and for the encouragement. I really needed this right now.
Thank you for your vulnerability here!!! This really hit home with me, and a few weeds in my heart I need to tend to. Thank you this was a great reading to ponder and help e sift through some past hurts. God bless you on your adventure.
karyn j says
I love this! I was just thinking yesterday that living this life is not one and done. it requires dying daily to self. (i always think of mr. incredible when he would talk about the world being saved and wondering why it couldn’t just stay saved. he just saved it! i’m like the world, i’m fixed and healed! wait, you mean this doesn’t last forever? i have to get fixed and healed again tomorrow?!? sigh…lol!). thank you for this reminder to check myself tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day…
Open Water says
Hey there! I just want to give you a ƅig thumbs սp fоr tһе gгeat
infoгmation уoᥙ have got гight here on tһis post.
I will Ьe returning to уour site for more ѕoon.