I have stepped away from the blog for a bit. In fact, I have stepped away from several things for a bit. Stepping away is often necessary. I’ll write more about that next week. For now, I wanted to share a post by a friend I met through Holly Gerth’s site. Valerie Sisco has a heart for God and home. I love following her blog and love when we have opportunity to share through comments. Her post this past week spoke volumes into my heart as I was in a period of stepping back so I could step forward.
A couple of weeks ago one of my daughters and niece and I were traveling to a church in another city nearby for a ministry project. As we set out, I secured the address off the registration page and entered it into Google Maps. However, I was 90% certain I knew exactly where this particular church was, having driven by it numerous times on a major through street. With navigation set, off we went. It was a short drive, only 30 miles or so. As we got off the interstate and began our way towards the church the navigation guidance kicked in. With each turn we took I kept telling the girls, ” I really don’t think this is the right way. I swear we should have just stayed on the major through street and it would have been off to our right.” The girls quickly responded with, ” Well, then just turn around. You are probably right.” I did not heed their instruction, nor the quiet voice in my head. We kept driving and sure enough wound up at a dead end, no church in sight. The voice of the navigation system, louder than the voice in my head, had won. I had continued on a course I knew was wrong, doubting myself, the quiet voice in my head.
We arrived at our destination, meeting up with a friend and her friend. I began telling them of our little “adventure”. The friend’s friend had also been on her own little “adventure”. She had chosen to follow our mutual friend who drives a white Jeep. She had stayed right behind her. Upon nearing the destination she had taken her eyes off our friend’s car for just a moment, but long enough for another white Jeep to come into sight. She too felt fairly certain she knew where the church was, but began following this other white Jeep. With each turn she realized she was nearing the local university and not the church. Yet, like me she continued on the faulty path.
As we shared stories and laughed about our foolishness I couldn’t help but think of spiritual lessons. So often we fail to heed God’s still small voice, the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Instead we allow the loud voices of the world to grab our attention and mislead us, all the while knowing it’s just not right. We also lose sight of God. So often we are on a course, a good course, His course, but get distracted by someone else’s course, or a bright shiny object that looks more appealing than the one set before us. A moment of distraction can lead us down a whole other path in life. We hear God, our conscience sets in and alerts us, but we lose confidence. We let doubt set in and can often kick off a snowball of emotions and mistakes.
On the way home the girls and I talked about our little “driving adventure”. The girls asked why I had kept following the navigation when I knew it was wrong. Tough question, but one that needed to be answered in this teachable moment for us all.
I had to admit to the girls that I had let doubt set in, and when the doubt set in everything I thought I knew came into question. We talked about how that happens to us in life. We read His word, we attend church to learn of His precepts, and then we enter the world and something else grabs our attention or someone else’s voice is louder than His. We doubt and in those moments of doubt we begin to question everything we know of God. That’s a dangerous place to be. Our adventure ended fine, no harm. Just a little late. However, in life, those doubts can lead us down paths that alter our course for life or bring about hurt that is hard to overcome.
I am so thankful I serve a God who longs to show me His ways, the path I should take. Psalm 33:11 tells us “the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purpose of his heart through all generations.” I can’t thwart God’s plans. I can chose to follow them, get off course and return, or ignore them. I will either be a part of His plans or lose the opportunity. Through free will He grants me choice. Life is so much better lived carrying out His plans, being a part of the blessing. I am so glad I serve a God of grace, who continually calls me to Himself, even when I get off course. He welcomes me back to His path when I repent and seek again to follow His ways. “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21.
His purposes prevailed that day. We served Him packing food for third world countries. We worshiped Him in song and fellowship with friends. We learned and we grew as a result of those moments of doubt and our quick response to repent and get back on track. Nothing lost. Nothing wasted.
“Make plans by seeking advice.” Proverbs 20:18. Just remember that the advice of this world and Google maps can be wrong. You have access to the Shepherd. He will lead you in the path of righteousness. He’s always there to get you back on course. Seek Him. Seek Him first. Trust in His still small voice.
Let me start by saying I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity I have to build a home. I know it is not an opportunity just anyone gets, nor is it something everyone wants to do. But for those who have the opportunity or are fearful of the process, I want to share some tips I have learned over the past 20 years. My husband and I have built four personal homes and eleven investment homes, so I have learned a little about the process.
It all starts with a great builder, and like everything else in life, a great relationship. It is not an easy process, but it can be an incredibly creative and rewarding process. Everyone involved must communicate well-not only be clear in your desires and instruction, but repeat them often, and be completely open to input, criticism and compromise. Hmmmm- sort of like a good marriage! If those key elements are missing, the experience will be horrible and most likely the end result will NOT be what you desired, or it will be so tarnished by the time it is completed you won’t want it any more. Hmmmmm- a lot like a marriage. I guess that’s why they say, “Those who can build together can stay together.” Yep, that’s me and my man!
A good house plan is step one. Amazing sites to choose from. Get it finalized and then be happy with it. The best way to finalize plans is to utilize furniture templates (you can buy a stencil at an office supply store or download templates from various sites). Measure your furniture, find the corresponding template and then lay it out on the blueprint. This will help you adjust door locations, window locations and sizes, etc… Lesson 1: There is no perfect house, just lots of really good houses. Tweak your plan, have it drawn up and then live with it. I promise, there will be something you wish you had changed, but that is just life. You can sweat the small stuff or be happy. After all, a house is a house. A home is made with memories and personal touches.
Once you have your plan, keep it with you at ALL times. I promise, you will get a panicked call from a sub-contractor or the builder and need to make a quick decision or quick run to the building site. Just keep your plans with you and you’ll be prepared! In addition to plans, I have learned to keep a notebook with me. I have the builder’s contract list with everyone’s phone number, the builder’s quote (FYI-only use a builder who does a Cost-Plus fee, that’s the only true way to know exactly what your expenses are and control your expenses), each sub-contractor’s quote, furniture templates and extra paper.
Thirdly, I carry an expandable pocket folder. I have sections labeled for each room, a section for exterior, pen, tape measure, and all of my paint samples. Houzz and Pinterest are a girl’s best friend!!!!! Clip and pin to your hearts desire, but then print off images of specific items you want to replicate or build in to your design. Sub-contractors do not like looking at your iPad, smart phone etc… They want a hard copy to look at and/or even take with them. This pocket folder has a large pocket up front into which I can slide my binder. I can easily keep this with me at all times. It becomes my home building bible.
Finally, I love to make a small design board. I am no interior decorator/designer, but I love creating a small board to keep me inspired and focused. I purchase a small science board at a craft store and then begin to glue onto the board images of my favorite rooms, furniture pictures, swatches of fabric, paint chips etc… As you build you can easily get overwhelmed by all the books, magazines and sites you are looking through. You will also find you get lots of input from others. Looking at my board reminds me what I want my house to look like. It keeps me focused on the final product, overall “feel”, color scheme and design I am drawn to and love. Most of all, enjoy the journey. Don’t expect perfection. Don’t make it about you. Don’t get angry when deadlines aren’t met or someone makes a mistake. Remember it is a journey. Remember it is about building a structure in which you and your family will build a home. Remember it is about relationships.