This Old House...

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a friend. We hadn't had a real conversation in a while, so we were catching up. Asking the normal questions like, "How's your mom and dad?...Did you have a good vacation?...Are the kids ready for school?..."

And then my friend asked me, "Do you still love your house?"

Sort of taken aback, I said, "Well, yeah I guess."

You see, my husband and I fixed up his grandparents' old farmhouse several years back. We held a "before" party, where we invited several friends and family members over to the property to have an old-fashioned cookout in the front yard. This way everyone could see the house before the construction began. A year or so later, we had a big open house so everyone could see the results.

My friend had been a part of those little celebrations and she had also known my husband's grandparents.

After I paused to give an honest answer to her question, I added, "You know, there are things I wish I had done differently, but overall I still love it. It's special."

And then I felt a twinge of guilt about all the times I have complained in my heart, or even out loud, about all that is wrong with my house. The crack in the tile floor, the toilet that runs all the time, the seam in my seamless countertop surface, the shutters that need to be secured back into place after a high wind gust...the old basement!

I guess you could say I have a love/hate relationship with my house. Or maybe it's more like the seven year itch because that is how many years we have lived here.

I’m guessing I’m not alone. I mean all a girl really has to do is watch a little HGTV and suddenly feel like her home is pathetically outdated and unfit for entertaining friends. She becomes discontent with her decorative choices and colors and begins to notice every smudge on the wall, every scratch on the hardwood floor, and every carpet stain.

But then I am reminded of how blessed I felt when we first moved in and I hear the echo of my own voice with the words I wrote in my book just three years ago:

“Sometimes I just feel as though I could burst with thankfulness for what God has blessed us with for a time… I used to place a lot of importance on house, cars, clothes, and money in general. Over the last several years, the Lord has shown me that if those are the things we are focusing our desires on, then we’ve got it all wrong. It has become clear to me that for the short time we are here on earth our priority should be on God and then relationships. All the other things will pass away or be passed on to someone else.”

Point of Grace beautifully sings in How You Live, a melodious line that reminds us "Have what you want, but want what you have."

How true! And yet how easy it is to shift focus! Let us not be robbed of our godly contentment by entertaining thoughts of dissatisfaction.

While reading the story of Adam and Eve from a Children's Bible last night, it struck me that even in the perfect world, Satan succeeded in stirring up discontentment in the very first woman. She had the perfect life with perfect circumstances, yet the evil one had her wanting more!

Today he is no different. Our world is far from perfect, but still God has blessed us with so much. Let's make the choice to be thankful and to cherish the blessings God has given us.

Let’s choose contentment with the home God has blessed us and rejoice if it is lived in!

Lord, how quick I can be to forget a blessing! Please forgive me for the times I have become unhappy with the things you have blessed me with and have desired something more. I pray that You would help me to recognize all I have, and that it would be exactly what I want, according to Your will. Amen.

Life Applications

1) Think of 3 things you love about your home today.

2) Praise God for the simple stuff.

3) Change the things that bug you – a fresh coat of paint, clean the carpet, repair what needs fixing, de-clutter. But choose to be content. If you continue to long for something more, simply and sincerely ask God to help you want what you have.

Key Scriptures

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” Hebrews 13:5 (NASB)

Don't collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don't break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 (HSCB)

I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don't complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple —in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out. 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 (The Message)

© 2011 Christy Long. All rights reserved.

Confessions from the Domestically Challenged

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Proverbs 31:27

Domestically Challenged! That’s what the plaque says before entering my kitchen!

Funny, it was always my dream job to be a stay-at-home mom. And it still is…it’s just that it hasn’t exactly turned out the way I expected.

I dreamed of a clean, organized home where visitors could pop in unexpectedly and find everything spotless. And I would offer them something homemade because I had plenty of time to bake.

Okay, let me pause for a minute while I have myself a big ole belly laugh! :)

It’s true! I wanted to be just like June Cleaver and Carol Brady! Of course, Carol had Alice to help her out! ;)

I remember writing in my book, God Keeps His Promises, that I wanted to pinch myself when I took a right turn out of my children’s school parking lot to return home each morning, rather than making the left turn that would take me in the direction of my job I had held for several years.

My dream job! For a while, I was so happy and content just being at home.

Soon, I discovered that I was eligible to take part in activities I was not able to previously because I worked full time. I was asked to be the grade mom for my son’s class. I began attending women’s Bible study on Wednesday mornings while my mother babysat for me. I joined the prayer team. Before I knew it I was helping lead a Bible study, coordinating the prayer team, and teaching a ladies’ Sunday school class. And I never turned down an opportunity to speak when I was invited.

I loved volunteering to chaperone field trips or help plan parties for my children’s classes, because that was something I had missed out on when I worked outside the home.

All this on top of the normal grocery shopping, Costco runs, and hauling my kids to dance, ball practice, and just waiting in the normal car rider lines soon had me feeling like I was driving in one big, giant circle. Over. And over. And over. Day in. And day out.

My home was far from the haven I had envisioned. Probably because this stay-at-home mom was seldom at home!

Serving and volunteering is all good. Please do not misunderstand. But repeatedly over the last 2-3 years, I have heard the same message. Good things are not always the best things. I recognized that I needed help in this area and contentment was at the heart of the matter.

I realized I wasn’t really content just staying at home. I had been searching out other ways to connect with others and fulfill a purpose while neglecting the #1 calling God had given me.

Ashamed now for all the times I would catch myself saying things like, “When B goes to preschool…” or “When B starts kindergarten…” I will have so much more time to do X . Whether home projects, writing more regularly, serving in my church or community, or just meeting a friend for lunch…I was making plans for the future rather than enjoying the present. Doesn’t sound like one who is very content, huh?

The fastest five years of my life have just passed me by. My baby is starting kindergarten next week. I’m thankful for the time I’ve had with him, but I’m also a bit saddened because I know I will never get that time back or have the opportunity for a do over.

This chapter is finished.

Because I couldn’t keep doing so many of those good things that kept me frazzled, I took several things off of my plate. Last year especially, I made an effort to stay home more. I actually learned to say no. I try now to stop and ask God before I jump and say yes to every event or opportunity.

However, I still have a long way to go! I have been playing catch up with my house from all of the disorganization that accumulated while I was trying to fly in a cape! (I crashed of course!)

Titus 2:3-5 (NIV) says, Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

There is much to be gleaned from these verses but three words are crying out to me!

Busy At Home.

Oh, that we would learn to be content where God has called us! Even in the laundry, the dishes, the kids’ toys, and their homework!

In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he instructs them to make it their ambition to lead a quiet life. (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

To be busy at home and living a quiet life may sound boring, but it is good. It is a blessing, after all.

There is hope for the domestically challenged to become the domestically content!

Lord, You have blessed me in so many ways. I am ashamed that I have struggled with being content in my circumstances. Help me not to dwell on my past failures, but embrace the calling I have been given right now, resisting the urge to wish my life away. May I find opportunities to minister to others, especially my family, each day and not take these precious years for granted. Amen.

What about you?

Have you found yourself in a situation where you are feeling less than content?

Be honest with God and ask Him to help you become content with your circumstances – “Bloom where you’re planted” so to speak.

Make a list of positives in your current situation and give praise to God.

Ask Him to show you His will and His plans for your life. That He would make His desires your desires. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 (NASB)

For His Glory,


PS – Before I completed this blog entry, I was given an opportunity to say yes to something else. Once again, I had to stop myself before committing in order to take some time to discuss it with God first. Trying to wait for His answer. Maybe one day I’ll get it right! :)

© 2011 Christy Long. All rights reserved.

The Secret of Contentment

...For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. ~ Philippians 4:11-12

What is the secret of contentment that Paul is talking about? Why do so many of us struggle with being content in our circumstances?

I believe we do not need to go very far on the page to find out what Paul is talking about. In the passage before, he tells us, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)

1) Praise God no matter what. Sometimes our circumstances may seem so severe or hopeless we may find it difficult to praise God. Yet in verse 6, the Bible reminds us, "The Lord is near." We are not alone and we can always count our blessings! Lets face it. Most of us have not gone hungry yet or even missed any meals! When I am praising God, it takes the focus off of myself and puts the focus on God and who He is. And He is able!

More powerful passages follow...

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7

2) Pray about everything and experience a peace beyond understanding. When we pray, we let go of our burdens and instead give them to God for Him to handle. In return, we experience peace knowing that He is in control.

Next passage:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. ~ Philippians 4:8

3) Pure thoughts keep our focus right. Negative thoughts become negative attitudes. Before you know it, we have allowed the seeds of discontentment to be planted in our hearts and we are dissatisfied with our life. Keeping our mind on what is noble and true, etc. cultivates contentment.

Finally, Paul makes a statement immediately after his comments on learning the secret of contentment and it is one of the most popular verses in the Bible - a favorite of many. "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

4) Possible only with Christ. I believe true contentment is not something we can learn in our own strength. The world is just too full of "the grass looks greener" temptations, or coveting the next best gadget or shiny thing that comes along and captures our attention. If we rely on our own strength instead of Christ, we will most certainly become discouraged and unhappy with the life God has blessed us.

More to come on contentment this week. God has been speaking to my heart on this issue in my own life. Meanwhile, let's thank God for his many blessings in our lives no matter what our circumstances.

I would love some comments. What are your thoughts on contentment? Do any of these verses hit home? What are some blessings you can thank God for today?

Lord, I Praise You for who You are. Thank you for all the ways that You provide even my simplest needs. Help me to remember to pray always, especially when I feel overwhelmed with life. I want to experience Your peace. Protect my thoughts and my mind, keeping my focus on things that are good and pure. And help me to learn the secret of being content in every situation with the help of Jesus Christ.

(c) 2011 Christy Long. All rights reserved.

Generation Me

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD of Hosts: 'The time will certainly come when everything in your palace and all that your fathers have stored up until this day will be carried off to Babylon; nothing will be left,' says the LORD. 'Some of your descendants who come from you will be taken away, and they will be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.'"

Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good." For he thought: There will be peace and security during my lifetime.
~ Isaiah 39:5-8 (HCSB)

Headlines within the last 2 days:

Stocks Nose-Dive Amid Global Fears
Weak Outlook, Government Debt Worries Drive Dow's Biggest Point Drop Since '08

August 5, 2011, The Wall Street Journal Online

Military Money on Chopping Block as Lawmakers Seek Savings
Published August 04, 2011, Associated Press

US debt now greater than GDP
Hot Air Green Room Posted at 10:12 am on August 4, 2011 by Bruce McQuain

For the last few weeks, we’ve all heard politicians tell us why or why not our country needs to have the debt ceiling raised yet again.

Honestly, I’m not trying to start a political argument, and honestly, I don’t know the answer. Was it a good idea to raise it again? Should our nation’s Triple A credit rating been tarnished?

I don’t know.

My question is this. When is our generation going to start thinking about the next generation and the one after that?

Are we like Hezekiah? Do we see our future of inevitably being carried off to Babylon…or China? Yet think to ourselves, it is good…if my 401K survives and I am able to retire without going bankrupt.

Will we, as Americans, be okay with cutting our military spending? Do any of us have any idea how many terrorist plots have been foiled since September 11, 2001? And are we really willing to let our guard down for future generations?

What kind of America will our children and grandchildren live in? Will they be dodging dirty bombs at crowded events and suicide bombers in their local shopping malls?

Yet think to ourselves, it is good…if I do not see nuclear war in my lifetime.

My daughter (the oldest of my 3 kids) starts high school this fall. College is just around the corner. I’m just as concerned as the next person who hopes to have enough money to send their kids to college, and yes, it would be nice if there were something left in their 529s for their education.

But let’s face it. College will do them no good if there are no jobs waiting on them when they graduate.

I will be the first to admit that watching the stock market tumble and the reported job losses makes my stomach churn and my head throb. Sometimes I have to change the channel from Fox News to The Waltons. (Ironic, since the Walton Family was living through The Great Depression! We can learn a lot from that generation.)

Let’s not be like Hezekiah. Thinking it’s all good if there is stability, peace and security in my lifetime - all about "Generation Me."

So, what is the wise answer? Where do we cut our spending? How do we pay for what is really necessary for our government to function properly?

I don’t know. It’s all so confusing. But I do know that there is no quick fix to the mess we have gotten ourselves into. And the answer is NOT to keep borrowing and printing more money.

And it’s time we pray. Really pray. More fervently pray. (And I’m definitely speaking about myself here.)

Simply pray.

I love the way The Message translates 1 Timothy 2:1-3:

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

Let’s commit to praying for our country - wisdom for our leaders, the upcoming Presidential election, those without jobs, and for spiritual revival.

Pray for our children and future generations, lest they be carried off to the country we owe the most.

Take a few minutes to read Jeremiah 33 about God's restoration of a nation.

Verses of Comfort:

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. Jeremiah 33:6-7 (NIV)

Praying for our future,

© 2011 by Christy Long. All rights reserved.

Comfort Food - What to do with Summer Squash & Zucchini

Summer in the South! For many of us, it involves having a garden!

The first two recipes are straight out of my Grandma Dot’s cookbook! The last is a healthier way I have discovered to enjoy an alternative to fried squash and zucchini.


Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups peeled, grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 T. cinnamon
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ cup nuts

Beat eggs until light and foamy. Add sugar, oil, zucchini and vanilla, mixing lightly but well. Combine dry ingredients and blend with egg mixture. Add nuts. Divide batter into 2 greased loaf pans, and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until done. Remove from pan at once and cool on rack.

Summer Squash Patties

1 ¼ cups self-rising flour
½ tsp. sugar
¾ tsp. salt
½ cup sour cream
1 egg
1 T. vegetable oil
3 cups coarsely grated yellow squash
1 medium onion, coarsely grated
Pepper to taste

Combine first 6 ingredients, beating until smooth. Stir in squash and onion, and pepper, if desired. Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls onto a hot, greased skillet. Cook until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels.

Almost as Good as Fried Squash

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with Pam or cooking spray with butter or olive oil. Slice squash and/or zucchini and place on the pan. Spray squash with cooking spray. Add salt, pepper, garlic salt, or I like to use McCormick Perfect Pinch salt-free Garlic & Herb flavor seasoning.
Broil on high until squash reached desired brownness. I eat them right off the pan!

I’ve also tried this with green tomatoes from the garden! Yummy!

From One Grasshopper to Another

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. ~ Isaiah 40:22 (NIV)

“Wow! These seats are awfully high!” My mother exclaimed as we plopped down in Section 225, Row K, seats 11 & 12.

Although the escalator ride had been long and steep, it hadn’t really occurred to me just how high UP the upper level was going to be!

My palms began to sweat, and the lower half of my body weakened as I stared down into the floor seats, the stage, and the lower level in general. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I could force myself to stand back up when the time would come!

Even the TV screens were quite a bit lower. Our only surroundings that seemed even close to eye level were the rafters! And of course the other American Idol fans that had purchased tickets in the upper level of the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte last week!

We burst out in laughter at ourselves – me especially, since I was surprised at how affected I seemed to be over the heights! (Of course my husband has a story about me freaking out on the ladder of a deer stand last fall!)

Breathing more deeply and gazing at the scene below us, I remembered a verse I had recently read in Isaiah about God being in heaven and we being like grasshoppers!

Could this be a smidgen of what God saw? Of course, I hardly felt like God, but at that moment I began to reflect on just how BIG God is. I had no idea how many individuals were there in that place on that night – thousands for sure. Yet God loves every person. He knows every one of them by name and everything about each of their lives.

I thought about how God is so intricately involved in the lives of His grasshoppers – drawing the lost ones to Himself, loving each and every one in spite of our sinfulness.

Weaving the futures of each one of His children together for their good and His glory. Comforting them in their pain. Hearing their prayers. Providing their needs. Healing their hurts. He takes care of the tiniest of details in each person’s circumstances.

It’s just impossible to wrap one’s head around the greatness of God. One Who sees all and knows all, One Whose power and love we cannot comprehend.

God - HUGE.
Me - small.

I thought of the great multitude from every tribe and nation that will one day stand before the throne and worship Jesus! (Rev 7:9-12) And was reminded that He has got it all under control – now and forever.

Fully aware of His presence, my palms stopped sweating and my knees felt stronger. It was time to enjoy the show!

Lord, help me to remember and be comforted that You alone are God. You made the heavens and the earth and there is no one like You. There is no need for us to fear or worry. When I feel weak help me to remember that it is from You that I get my strength. I trust that even in uncertain times and circumstances, You have everything under control and are working it all out for my good and Your glory. Thank You, Jesus! I love you!

Have you ever been in a situation that was out of your comfort zone and felt God’s presence and control?

Are you fully aware of His presence in your daily routine? He wants to meet us there.

Please feel free to post your comments!

More Scripture and Resources:

Take a few moments to read Isaiah 40, if not the whole chapter, focus on verses 21-31.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. ~ Isaiah 40:28

You may also enjoy the devotional Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.

For His Glory,


© 2011 by Christy Long. All rights reserved.