Tested by fire

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,  their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”

This passage from 1 Corinthians 3, emphasis mine, was part of our Scripture reading at church on Sunday.

This is what I was thinking about:

A day earlier, my grandparents’ house had burned. By the grace of God, although it was the middle of the night, they escaped, mostly unharmed physically, but devastated emotionally. (This photo was taken by the incredible fire department and its members who responded to the call.)

My mother was raised in this home. Nearly every childhood memory I have of my grandparents involves this home. Fifty years worth of memories — gone in practically no time.

Our pastor could not have known this when he prepared his sermon for Sunday. I love how God works that out. He talked about foundational faith and building from the ground up. And I couldn’t stop thinking about my grandparents’ house.

The house itself still stands, but that’s only a matter of time. It will be many days before we know what all survived the fire and what is damaged beyond repair.

I can tell you this: the fire didn’t damage everything.

My grandmother, though technically homeless, offered my kids and me their room at my parents’ house when we come to visit next week. We declined, but that’s the sort of sacrificial person she is. They’re receiving clothes and support from the community they’ve faithfully served for most of their married life, and when I asked her what I could tell people she needed, she thought only of those who were helping them.

Gas cards, she said, to give to the people who are taking them to appointments.

She hasn’t much to give herself, yet she’s still thinking of others.

“Fire will test the quality of each person’s work” — The work the Lord has done in my grandmother is of an imperishable nature.

Losing all the stuff that’s “yours” has to be one of the worst things a human can experience. My grandfather has mourned the loss of things, but that’s not where he’s staying in his mind.

“You can’t take it with you anyway,” my grandfather said when I talked to him today. “We’ll get a new house and new stuff.”

He told me about his new wardrobe and how he has more clothes now than he had before. I could hear the hint of the lighthearted, joking man I know.

The fire took a lot of things, but it didn’t take the important things.

When my life is tested by fire, what will I find that is left? Will my life consist only of things that could be burned up in a fire? Or will something far more valuable, and indestructible remain?


Author speaks to the “Heart”

Essentials of the Heart by Susan Weagant (Tate Publishing, 2010)

  • Are you tired of playing hit and miss with your spiritual life? 
  • Are you looking for a more purposeful and committed walk with the Lord?
  • Do you ever feel so broken that there seems to be no hope? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, Essentials of the Heart is for you. This thought-provoking book is full of personal examples and peppered with Scripture. Susan Weagant takes you from life-changing decisions to daily disciplines necessary for a passionate spiritual walk, using personal examples from her own past as encouragement. Join Susan on this spiritual journey to find out what decisions and disciplines are Essentials of the Heart.

Interview with the Author
Susan, you and your husband serve as Christian Camp missionaries. Share with us how this ministry-focus came about and how it influenced the writing of your book.

My husband and I have been missionary supported at Camp Peniel since 1992. The word Peniel comes from the Bible in Genesis 32:30 where Jacob wrestled with an angel.  He named that place Peniel because he said that he had seen God face to face and his life had been preserved.

The man who started Camp Peniel had a desire that anyone who came would experience God face to face, either by coming to know Him as their Savior or growing in their walk with Him.

Many spiritual turning points in my life happened at Camp Peniel. Decisions that impacted my spiritual life the most were made at that place. Those decisions and disciplines that I learned there are what has influenced my book the most. It is for that reason that a portion of the proceeds will go to Camp Peniel’s scholarship program.

I understand Essentials of the Heart is blessing both men and women. Did you consider the impact it would have on men when you wrote it?  What are they saying about it?

I was blindsided by this one. I speak to women’s ministries; so, my audience is women. One day my friend came to me to apologize for not reading my book that she got a month earlier. I told her that she didn’t need to apologize for that, but she insisted to tell me why.

Her husband had picked up the book and started reading it. She did not want to take it from him until he was finished, but it was taking a long time.  (It is a small book so it shouldn’t take him that long.) He finally came to her and told her to go buy two more books because he wanted to give them to his adult sons for Christmas.

I was floored that he would enjoy it so much that he would want his adult sons to read it, too. 

Essentials of the Heart is divided into two parts, Decisions and Disciplines.  What is the significance of this?

“He has made everything beautiful in its time; He also has planted eternity in men’s heart and mind [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun, but only God, can satisfy]…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, AMP) What that means to you and me is this: God created us with a sense of eternity in our hearts and mind. We know that there is more to this life than the here and now. We sense it deep within us.  The only thing that can bring lasting fulfillment to you and me is our relationship with God and growing in that relationship. That is what has brought me the greatest fulfillment in my life, and it starts with heart “Decisions”, which is the first section of the book. The next section is “Disciplines”. These are daily practices, which are necessary to grow in the Lord. 

So the first Essential of the Heart is the decision we make personally for eternity … accepting Christ as our Savior. You list several more Decisions we need to make such as: Who do we want our life to count for, a Decision to Trust, a Decision to Build Intimacy, etc. I’d like for us to look at the issue of Trust. You explain though we often use the words trust and faith interchangeably, we first need to understand what they mean. Could you shed some light on this?

The word trust, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.  Faith according to the Bible is this: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV). The Greek word for faith in the New Testament is pistis, which is a firm persuasion or conviction based on hearing according to Strong’s Dictionary.

If you look at all the definitions, that will give you a better picture of faith. It is important what you base your hope on in this life. Here is my definition of faith.  Faith is a firm conviction of hope based on God’s character, God’s ability, God’s strength, and God’s truth when I can’t see what lies ahead.  When I base my hope on God’s character and God’s Word, it is then that my faith will grow.

If someone would like to have you speak at their event, how can they contact you?

They can go to my website, SusanWeagant.com, for information on my speaking ministry.

I know your book is blessing individuals. Can Essentials of the Heart be used for a group study?

There is a pdf file of study questions for each chapter on my website and it is free to download.

About the Author
Susan Weagant is a loving wife and mother of two wonderful boys. She and her husband, Ben, are missionary supported in the Christian Camping Ministry and have been since 1990. She home-schooled her older son until he went off to college and is currently homeschooling her youngest. Fifteen years of teaching women’s Bible studies have honed her skills in working with women. Susan’s current speaking includes Stonecroft Ministries, MOPS, Women’s retreats, and a women’s community Bible study. Susan’s passion and gift for teaching God’s Word blend well with her desire to share her heart with others. She welcomes the one on one relationship with the women she encounters.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speaker Services.


Lisa’s review: Weagant’s personal journey is inspiring and her biblical insight is challenging. I look forward to returning to this book and spending more time with it, reflecting on the passages and messages and using the included reflection pages to record my own journey through it. At first I was a little hung up on her use of the King James version of the Bible for Scripture references, but that has given me a surprisingly fresh look at some familiar passages.

Want to win a copy of this book? Click here and leave a comment on the CSS blog.

Why exercise might not be the secret to my weight loss success after all

I lost 3 pounds this week. And I only went to the gym once. 

Previous weeks found me visiting the gym twice or three times a week, spinning vigorously on a stationary bike, running laps on the track or making tracks on the cross-trainer.

This week found me lying on the couch, succumbing to a mucus invasion of historic proportions. The uncommon cold, as I’m calling it, has struck all four of us, but my husband and I have taken the worst beating. Between us, we’ve consumed almost three boxes of cold medicine, and our house is littered with tissue box carcasses, at least 10 that I know of.

So I was fully expecting, after my husband weighed in and had lost only a pound, to have made no progress or gained weight this week.

Three pounds lost was a pleasant surprise but not a reason for me to advocate a monstrous head cold as a weight-loss method.

What I did discover, though, was some principles that will help me on my journey to a new pair of jeans. (Five more pounds to lose and I can go spend the Kohl’s gift card I got for Christmas. Unless I decide to save it for a bigger goal.)

1. Sleep. A lot. Twice during this sickness, I went to bed earlier than normal. One night, I was in bed before my 3-year-old. A majority of the days, I’ve taken naps. Long ones. I’ve heard that sleep deprivation can make you gain weight. Now I see the converse. More sleep can lead to less weight.

2. Eat. A little. This wasn’t a stomach-flu kind of sickness so it’s not like I lost weight because my stomach wouldn’t keep food down. But, because my nose has been plugged, my taste buds aren’t functioning right, and therefore, nothing really tastes good. My husband and I love food, sometimes to excess, but he has much more self-control than I do. What I’ve learned this week is that I don’t have to eat a lot to get through the day. And, I can always eat it again tomorrow.

3. Skip. Seconds, that is. My gluttony with food starts with taste. When I go back for seconds, it’s usually because I like how something tastes, not because I’m hungry for more. I’m no anatomy expert but I know the nose and sense of smell are linked to taste buds somehow. Because I can’t smell much of anything, I’m not interested in seconds.

4. Drink. Water. Water and tea have become my staples during this sickness. This usually isn’t a problem for me, but once I stopped breast-feeding, I got a little lax on the water intake. More water in, more weight off.

5. Snack. But not at night. Earlier bed times have also meant less TV and less eating while watching TV. Late-night snacking is another of my food vices. I haven’t had a bowl of ice cream in 10 days. I still like ice cream, but maybe it’ll be more of a treat if I don’t eat it EVERY night while watching my favorite shows.

If I practice these tips AND exercise, maybe I won’t have to be secretly jealous of my husband’s weight loss.

Melt away, pounds! Melt away!

Unfinished work

Last month, I started cleaning our house. This may not be a revelatory experience for any of you, but for me, active, purposeful cleaning is new. I’m more of a clean-up-after-messes-or-when-company’s-coming-over kind of gal. But I finally got to the point where I felt like our living space was contributing negatively to my mood. I’m not talking Feng Shui or furniture arrangement or anything like that, but everywhere I looked I saw clutter, and it made me feel sad.

I think it started with the Christmas decorations. Once those came down, I simplified the area on top of our entertainment center. What used to be a place for random clutter now, almost, looks like decoration.

Because I can only work in short bursts — like when the children are napping and I’m not, or when they’re otherwise happily occupied for the 2 minutes a day that seems to happen — the house cleaning/organizing/simplifying is a gigantic work in progress.

But it’s progress nonetheless. I’ve been able to tackle several major eyesores — like this one.


Yeah, there’s a bookcase in there somewhere.


We let the kids take it over.

Here’s an after picture of my dresser. I forgot to take a before, but just imagine stuff piled high, cascading down the side of the dresser, no view of the top of it.

And we even rearranged the kids’ bedroom to make more usable space. (We rent and aren’t allowed to put any more holes in the walls.)

While I feel like I’ve accomplished something, I wish I could finish more of what I start. A few days ago, I started clearing the upper shelf of the kids’ closet, and I haven’t been back since. Last month I started cleaning the bathroom closet. I got back to it two days ago.

I leave my unfinished mess all over the house, but at least it reminds me that I’m on my way to something better.

I could use that reminder in my spiritual life. I’ve felt a little “off” lately. Like I’m not as close to God as I want to be, not as much like Christ as maybe I should be. Or could be.

And I thought about this:

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

I’m not done yet. God’s not done yet.

The mess is evidence of the work in progress.

Life as we know it

I’ve been away too long. Is this really what the calendar says?

When the New Year begins, I always think life is going to move slow. January has 31 days, after all, and we all know that 31 days in January is longer than 31 days in just about any other month. Especially August. August could have a hundred and 31 days and still not be enough. I hate to see summer end, even when I can’t stand the high temperatures. Or May. I’d take twice as many days in May as what the calendar gives us.

But now it’s February. The shortest month. The one that always seems to drag.

Our cluster of four doesn’t have any family milestones in January, and with the seminary semester picking up speed, I feel like I blinked and missed much of what happened to us this month. So, for posterity, and to shake the winter blahs, here’s a recap of what we’ve been up to.

We’ll start with the little guy, who’s not so little anymore. 14 months old and he runs this joint. At least, that’s what he thinks. Walkin’, talkin’, destroyin’, makin’ noise. I’d like to say he’s ALL boy, but then he goes and does something like this.

Phil assures me it’s fine. But what does he know? He likes to wear pink.

When he’s not showing off his bling, Corban likes to color. Well, he holds the crayon and sweeps it across anything in his path. If a coloring book happens to be within reach, then we call it coloring. Otherwise, it’s a “No, Corban” moment. We have a lot of those.

His favorite food these days varies from “nana” — a banana, which he would eat at every meal if he could. He looks straight at them, grins as wide as his face and shouts “nana” at the top of his lungs. His grandma is also called “Nana,” but unless she decides to wear bananas on her head like the Chiquita banana lady, she might have to change her name — to “crackie,” which is NOT any kind of illegal substance unless there’s something I don’t know about Wheat Thins, Honey Maid and Kashi TLC products. Jesus said man cannot live on bread alone, but I’m pretty sure Corban could live on crackers alone.

Then, we have the drama queen.

 She’s going on 3, but some days I’d swear she’s going on 13. She flips her hair across her shoulders. She wants to “get holes in my ears.” (Mom is not on board for this yet.) She says she wants something then immediately follows that statement with “but I don’t.”


Mom: What do you want for a snack? Apple? Cheese and crackers? Yogurt?

Isabelle: Apple!

Mom pulls apple out of fridge as Isabelle yells, “I don’t want an apple!”

Sigh. Parents whose children are older than mine tell me it gets worse after this. I. can’t. wait. (Insert sarcasm if you can’t read into that statement.) I cling to the hope of kindergarten. I once thought we would homeschool our children, but now I know better. Someone would end the day in tears and it would probably be me.

Isabelle would go to kindergarten tomorrow if we would let her. She’s sad when the yellow bus speeds by our house without stopping to pick her up. Lately, she’s been really interested in letters, the ABC’s, and wanting to write them. She’s in love with “Chutes and Ladders.” (See previous post here.) And puzzles. I don’t mean to brag, but she can put 8 pieces of a 24-piece Spongebob puzzle together without much help from me. It’s for 3-7 year olds. She’s brilliant, right? (When you read that, think humor, not stuck-up. Please?)

What about this guy?

He’s the cheese to my macaroni. The colored marshmallows to my frosted oats. The fizz in my soda.

In other words, he makes life interesting. He taught Isabelle to play hide-and-seek recently, and she loves it. Except that she doesn’t exactly get the concept of hiding. If Phil walks through the house wondering, “Where is Isabelle?” she’ll giggle and come out of hiding saying, “Here I am!” But she loves to count and then find him hiding wherever he might be. Our house is small. We may have exhausted our hiding spots, but to Isabelle the game is not old yet. He’s a good daddy.

He’s in the second half of his third year of four for seminary. Which makes him somewhere in the neighborhood of five-eighths of the way to graduation. (Somebody get a calculator and check my math.) He’s also in training to win a weight-loss competition at work. Grand prize is $100. It’s like a mini-“Biggest Loser.” First weigh-in after the initial weigh-in is tomorrow. Hope he’s on the right track!

Then, there’s me.

Yep. There I am. Honestly, in front of a computer is where I’m usually the happiest, but I’m learning to give it its time and walk away. For the children. For my family. For myself.

I’ve been blessed with a couple of opportunities to expand my writing horizons, so I am. And that’s one reason you haven’t seen much on this blog lately. Maybe you hadn’t noticed, but I’d like to think someone out there missed me! (OK, enough self-pity and searching for significance!)

I wish I had something profound to tell you tonight, but mostly I just wish you could experience the joy of our house, even in times of trouble. This is as close as I can get you. We can’t bring you to our house, so I’ve tried to bring our house to you.

Winter’s half over. Soon I’ll look back on February and wonder where the time went.

Until then, I hope to keep in better touch.