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Saturday, March 3, 2007

Inspired by the Father…

We’ve lived in our house for two years now and the feeling of “new” has slipped from my grasp--slowly but surely over time. The smell of new carpet and drywall compound used to greet me when I walked through the door, but that left some time ago along with the smell of fresh paint.

Picking up after four children has caused me to wonder how my grandma ever survived being the mother of eighteen children, and how my mom ever managed her six. It seems that I just get the house cleaned, finish mopping the floor, and “swoosh” a jug of Kool-Aid comes racing across the room like a tidal wave washing away a small village.

My husband suggested a maid service--bless his heart. He said that I could use some help around the house and suggested I give them a try. Some call it “maid service,” but I call them feather dusters, because as I see it, if the feather dusters come through the house on a Friday, I need to have the house cleaned on Thursday night before they get there or they won’t even find the house for the laundry.

“Why don’t you get Dad?” my mom suggested. “He’s a good cleaner.”

I hadn’t considered my Dad. In fact he’s probably the last person I’d consider to clean my house, but the truth is, he’s also the best. So after further consideration and a phone call, Dad showed up at 9 am with mop in hand, determined to get the house clean.

My Dad has never been one to shy away from dirt; in fact when Dad walks into a room, the dirt cowers, because it knows the furniture is getting pulled away from the walls, and that no pillow will be left unturned.

At 9:15, the fridge and stove both rolled into the center of the kitchen while Dad shoveled Thanksgiving Dinner 2005 off the floor. I made my way to the kid’s bathroom with determination in one hand and Vim in the other.

Unfortunately since we returned from vacation any level of determination I’ve used has not been sufficient to whiten our toilet. It’s a story I shouldn’t get into detail about, so I’ll just warn the obvious: ensure that all toilets are flushed before going away for any period of time, especially if the little one has a tummy ache that morning.

After scrubbing for a good ten minutes, I went back to the kitchen announcing to Dad that I was going to have to buy a new toilet. “The finish must be ruined on this one,” I said. “No matter how much I scrub it or soak it, it just won’t come clean.”

Dad went straight to the washroom, looked down at the mess and without hesitation said, “Ok, get me a cup, I’ll clean it.”

A cup? I wondered, How is he going to clean it with a cup?

He bailed the water out of the toilet till all that was left was a dirty porcelain dish; then he proceeded to clean it with an SOS pad—clever.

As I walked back to the kitchen to mop up the floor, I smiled in awe of the servanthood of my father. The tagline I use at my website is “Inspired by the Father every step of the way…” because the life of my earthly father has been instrumental in showing me the kindness of my Heavenly Father, and through it I’m inspired to press on.

There was a time in my life that I don’t talk about too often because of the shame. I was married young and divorced. Sure I had reason to leave because of physical and mental abuse, but the guilt and shame of remarriage stayed strong in my life for ten years. I lost five babies to miscarriage and blamed myself, saying that God was punishing me for my sins. Divorce wasn’t something I did. It was something, and always will be something I am.

Like my house, that feeling of “new” had slipped from my grasp--slowly but surely over time. The look of innocence used to greet me when I looked in the mirror, but someone I didn’t want to face had replaced her somehow.

I met a few feather dusters throughout the years who made me feel good for a day or a week with empty words and flattering lips, but they never could remove the shame of sin that had become a solid wall between God and I.

I couldn’t accept forgiveness because I couldn’t turn back that which was done. So I lived in darkness and unforgiveness for ten years until I finally repented and accepted that Jesus took the punishment for that sin.

Through my experience, I learned one thing. There’s no sin that the Father isn’t able to clean, no matter how dirty or disgusting it might seem. He may be the last person that you want to let in, but to tell you the truth--He’s the best.

Sin cowers when God steps into your life because it knows that there won’t be a stone left unturned that God isn’t going to clean. He doesn’t shy away from sin and He doesn’t shy away from us.

The difference with me today is that I do my best to follow what I know to be right and wrong, because I choose to follow His will for my life. God will clean up our sin, but it’s up to us to respect Him enough to keep it that way.

So there you have it, the “dinner 2005” that’s been hiding behind my stove. With determination in one hand and understanding in the other, I’m finding paths I would otherwise never have found through joy and forgiveness and grace. Just a girl on a journey--inspired by the Father every step of the way…

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

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21 Comments:

Anonymous eph2810 said...

Oh, Darlene, thank you so much for sharing. I didn't know that you are divorced. Does it matter to me and our friendship--no, it does not. We are sisters in faith. Our heavenly Father loves you and so do I--with all my heart!

Have a blessed Sunday.

March 3, 2007 at 11:40 PM  
Blogger Terri @ In His Hands said...

Such a thought-provoking post, Darlene. Thank you for sharing!

P.S. I had to gasp at 18 children!

March 4, 2007 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Beautiful, vulnerable, humble post that reaches out to all of us. There is no one who could read this and not be touched. I was amused by your comment about dirt cowering from your dad because that's how my mom was, and then the way you tied that to the Father is powerful.

March 4, 2007 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Laurel Wreath said...

Darlene, thank you from sharing from your heart. I am a daughter of a very Godly man also. I am also a daughter who got preg before marriage. I went through the same guilt you have mentioned, everything bad in my life was something I deserved. But there is no sin the Father is not able to clean. Maybe that is why my passion is to tell women how much God loves them right where they are. Because for the longest time, I did not believe it. God forgave me, but it took YEARS for me to forgive myself. Y.E.A.R.S!! Now I am free from that bondage (well Satan try to bring up time to time and tempt me by low self esteem), but I know the God loves me. No matter what I did, no matter where I have been.

God loves me period.

March 4, 2007 at 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Lynn Donovan said...

Oh Darlene,

You Dad and a cup... I want to hug this man. I have been forgiven so much. This story causes my love for Jesus to well to overflowing this morning. I have been forgiven so much, so very much!!

Luke 7:47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
Thank you for sharing from your heart.

You are NOT a feather duster. I am blessed to know you. Love and hugs, Lynn

March 4, 2007 at 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Lynn Donovan said...

Oh Darlene,

You Dad and a cup... I want to hug this man. I have been forgiven so much. This story causes my love for Jesus to well to overflowing this morning. I have been forgiven so much, so very much!!

Luke 7:47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
Thank you for sharing from your heart.

You are NOT a feather duster. I am blessed to know you. Love and hugs, Lynn

March 4, 2007 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Guinevere Meadow said...

Very powerful testimony, Darlene! Thanks for sharing it with us.

March 4, 2007 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Cyndi said...

Wow, just wow.

March 4, 2007 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I read this post early this morning as I was getting ready for our 3 services at church. I didn't have a chance to respond then, but I was so moved by your story (and your adorable dad!). Sharing your sufferings and the joy that came from accepting God's forgiveness is such a blessing to all of us. That is why being in a community of women, all flawed and yet loved immensely by God, means so much. Thanks for your wonderful post!

March 4, 2007 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Iris, You are such a great friend, and yes "sister." Thank you for your comment.

------------------------------

Terri, I gasp too just thinking about that woman. So blessed, and so stressed--I can only imagine.

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Linda, yes "vulnerable" that's how I feel online some days. But sometimes a story just makes its way through.

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Laurel, I'm so sorry to hear that you went through that. When sin makes its way into our lives it drives wedges into our relationship with our Father unless we remove it immediately.

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Lynn, what a blessing it is to be forgiven "much." Even Paul considered himself chief of all sinners.

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Guinevere, I'm so thrilled that you popped in here. Just seeing you in the blogosphere again brings back warm memories. Thanks.

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Cyndi, that is one Wow to many, but thanks. :)

--------------------------------
Christine, "all flawed" isn't something I thought of before, but so true. We often feel that we're the only one who has been there, but then we start to see others who God has redeemed who were just as much tarnished by sin.

"Adorable" describes my Dad to a T.

March 4, 2007 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Darlene,

Your honesty is refreshing and your writing is very special! It is so very precious that through repentance and faith, by God's grace we can be made whole.

Everytime I meditate on Christ's great suffering for MY sins...I feel utterly ashamed. But his forgiveness gives me great joy and from that I know I must live a life that shows my deep appreciation for what He has done. Not dwelling on my love for Him,but on His love for me.

What a Savior!

Kim

March 4, 2007 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Wow, great post! And so true. My father cleans the same way and makes me feel awful guilty about not doing better. Just coming in for the Blog Party! Hope you'll drop by my place sometime.

March 4, 2007 at 10:20 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

This was a beautiful picture of a loving Father! When we don't think we can get our messes ever cleaned up, he is there ready and willing to go to work. And He has everything we need. Thank you for being so open and real.

March 4, 2007 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

All I can say is, awesome!!

March 5, 2007 at 12:06 AM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Kim, I like the last line "not dwelling on my love for Him, but His love for me" if I really considered the depth of my love in comparison to His, it would be as shameful as the sin.

______________________________

Sara, Hope you're enjoying your party, I'll have to stop by and visit your blog today.

_______________________________

Chris, yeah, sometimes the mess it too overwhelming to even imagine a clean slate.

________________________________

Denise, thanks. :)

March 5, 2007 at 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fabulous Post!!

Bonnie

March 5, 2007 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Hey, Bonnie. Thanks for the coment and for stopping by. :)

March 5, 2007 at 7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darlene, As I read this article you wrote, I could almost physically feel my Savior's arms enfolding me. I have a precious dad too. I was married for 41 years and my husband left me and filed for divorce on grounds of "incompatibility"!!!??? The shock from all this made my dad have a light stroke and since then he has been very weak and numb on his left side. I see my dad trying to go on and work like he always has and just cannot do what he wants to anymore. I felt like I was so unloved, so totally worthless when my husband left. My mom and my dad have been there for me through thick and thin. My children too. But I think how close I have become to my Heavenly Father through having to put all my trust in Him. He also has never left me and He never will. I have this promise....Revelation 21:4......And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. for the former things are passed away!!! Oh, what a promise. I felt so unworthy of any happiness anymore. But just like my earthly father still loves me.....My Heavenly Father loves me beyond all measure.
Thank you so much for this site. I needed to come here today to get reassurance that I am not the only one that is going through these kind of things. Thanks again and again.

Peggy

March 5, 2007 at 9:57 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Peggy you connected with me too. I got very blurry eyed reading your comment. You touched my heart. Thank you.

March 5, 2007 at 11:10 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Thank you for sharing with such depth. Too often we are unwilling to share our broken places with one another. We miss out on watching God take those struggles and use them to glorify Himself and minister to others. He makes all things new! I know your testimony will continue to touch so many lives.

March 6, 2007 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Kelly, I love the newness of God, and pray that every other women will know that too.

March 6, 2007 at 9:25 PM  

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