A House in the Trees

I’ve been reflecting on what it means to love. What it looks like, how it feels, and how to live it out. Nine months of journaling and blogging, focusing on God’s redemptive love for me and my family. Looking at the way Jesus loved and served and allowing the stripping away the Lord wants to do to open my heart to the life and the love He has for me.

And then all at once , He puts a complete stranger on my path to show how she’s living out Jesus’ command to love her neighbor.

“It’s a treehouse in Oregon,” my husband shares. “It sounds awesome,” he continues, turning the computer screen my way so I can see the images he has been examining for the last several minutes.

After I take a moment to catch up, I have to admit, the idea of bringing our girls to a treehouse for a couple of days and escaping our day to day routine, sounds adventurous and wonderful. I imagine leisurely naps among the trees, exciting excursions through the woods, and meaningful family connection time.
“Oh, but wait! Are there beds? What about a coffeemaker? Refrigerator? Oh, and a bathroom?” I blurt out my barrage of questions before any more daydreaming.

“Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.” My husband reassuringly answers.

“Okay, so we aren’t really roughing it. Let’s do it!”

The day of our adventure arrives. The car is loaded with games, snacks, cozy blankets, and comfortable clothes. We head to Tigard, Oregon for the “House in the Trees.”

Driving way too long in our cramped car with two talkative, energetic kids finally brings us to our destination. Stepping out of the car, we are engulfed in lush green vegetation.. Tall, full, leafy trees hanging overhead. And, then I see our home for the next couple of days. Our house in the trees is awaiting us with all it’s charm and character.

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Hearing a door creak behind us, I turn to see a lovely woman walking towards us. The rest of the family seems to scatter to explore our surroundings, while I have the pleasure of talking with our host, the stranger sent to illustrate love. Within what seems like seconds we were beyond talking traffic and weather and down to things that truly matter.

Her eyes spilled over with tears as she boldly and lovingly shared about her family and the community building the treehouse for her son when he was battling cancer. She shared about the trial they had gone through; the ups and downs and how it had forever changed them.

The masks I have been noticing so many of us wear, didn’t seem to exist for her. She openly shared her heart. (Laying Down Our Masks)

Not only that, but she and her family openly shared their home, their life. In a day and age where people have multiple locks, security systems and cameras, our host family leaves their door unlocked to allow their guests into their home. We could come and go as we needed. No guard up, keeping people away. No guard around their hearts or home.

Our weekend in the trees, alongside such a loving, gracious family has me thinking about Jesus; about His love, goodness, hospitality, and generosity.

Jesus longs for all those He invites to come. To come to Him unhindered. There is no guard up. He is safe. We can lay down our masks and walls and just go to Him when He calls. And, all are invited.

Just as our host didn’t only allow family to be their guest and enter their home, Jesus allows all to come to Him.

In Matthew 22, Jesus tells about a king hosting a banquet. “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.”

Our treehouse host, the stranger exemplifying love for us, did just that. She gathered us at her home, shared her story of the Father’s love in her life, and distributed that love to us.

What about you? Are you sensing His call? In the quiet, are you drawn to Him? He’s drawn to you. The gracious host longs for you to enter His presence with confidence. He’s longing to lavish His love on you, to share life with you, and lead you in the ways you should go. 

Journey to Acceptance

When I began blogging, I knew that I didn’t have an area of expertise. Some writers blog exclusively about topics such as parenting, homeschooling, or cooking. Some have had formal training on their topic or have spent years researching and gathering information about their area of expertise.

I stared at the message wordpress sent me last week saying, Congratutions on Publishing 50 Posts! 50 posts? I remember counting the first few, but how did it reach 50?

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Something about that message caused me to become reflective. Reflective about my purpose. Reflective about my goal. And, reflective about my future writing.

Six months ago, when I began Lisa Louise: Stories of Overcoming, I only knew I wanted to be Spirit-led. Each time I sit down to write, I do so because the Lord has put a message in me and it’s time to organize it into writing. I don’t feel I have an area of expertise, but rather a heart that is being cultivated by the Spirit.

In the 40 years leading up to my life as a blogger, I held on to many hurts and had many ideas of how I thought my life should be. The inner critic inside my head screamed loudly each chance I gave it.

Once I began blogging, it was like there was a new voice rising up in me. A much kinder, more creative, accepting voice. The inner critic still sneaks it’s slithery, condemning voice in, but the new voice is becoming louder, bolder, more frequent.

In a social gathering, you can bet I will be the one listening, nodding, taking in what others are saying. It’s unlikely you will hear my voice much at all. There are many reasons for this. I am an introvert with constant thoughts bouncing around in my mind. Also, I am an internal processor. My response to something that was said will often take hours or days to form. And, then there’s also that inner critic causing doubt and uncertainty.

With writing, I am finding my voice. The Lord gave me this outlet and it’s bringing about healing. It’s leading to a kinder inner and outer voice.

Do you walk around with words of doubt, fear,  or lies taking up space in your mind? That’s right where the enemy wants you. Listening to his sneaky, negative voice. Drowning out the Spirit. You will not be able to fully walk in His calling while listening to those lies.

Do you long to hear kind words being spoken in your mind? That is what the Lord wants for you. That  is how He speaks to you.

Here are a few ways in which writing is helping to tame my inner critic:

  1. Writing one or two sentences whenever I hear a sermon or read the Bible. The Lord tells us to be ready to share. How often have I left church, only able to say, “That was such a good message.” But, ask me what it was about it, and you would receive a blank stare. Writing a short summary about what I have learned or what I read helps to organize my thoughts and cement them in my brain.
  2. Keeping a journal. In my journal, I write approximately a paragraph about what the Lord is teaching me. It may have to do with my scripture reading, a book I am reading, or what He reveals to me through prayer, or through another person.
  3. Listing what I am grateful for. I write out 5 things I am grateful for each night. My family and I have also began a gratitude notebook which sits in a central location in our house. There is always a pen there (that’s the plan anyway!) and anyone at anytime can list something for which they are grateful. Want to replace negative thinking? Nothing is a quicker antidote for negative thinking than reading what your child lists in a gratitude notebook. Gratitude journal
  4. Keeping notes in the note section of my phone. I currently have 324 notes! Whew! As long as I have a title such as: Bible verses for the girls, book list, sermon notes, Netflix movie ideas, or verses about kindness, I can put in a keyword and search for my note. When I hear a beautiful song lyric or encouraging statement on an audiobook, I can quickly add it to my notes.

I don’t pretend to completely understand why writing aids in our growth and learning but I just know it is working for me. And, I feel it will help you.

In an article titled, Why Does Writing Make Us Smarter, The Huffington Post states that writing is beneficial because it is “Visual: Seeing what is on the paper in front of you.
Motor: Using your fine motor skills to actually put the pen to paper and form the letters to make the words. Cognitive: Remembering the shapes of the letters requires a different type of feedback from the brain.”

Dear one, what do you have to lose? Why not take one step today to create a kinder voice inside your head. Pick one of my ideas to implement in writing or create an idea of your own. Whatever you do, stick with it. Release yourself from the bondage of negativity and begin to accept yourself as you are…as God created you.

Ephesians 1:4, For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.