Category Archives: faith

Where You Are

You’ve seen the countless pictures I post of our morning walks in Borden Park.  That’s Sampson’s favorite place as we go there every day.  It’s full of blessings for him: lots of squirrels to chase, sometimes other dogs, scraps of food (which I don’t like) and smells to sniff for him.  Often in the mornings no one is there but us so I let him off his leash and let him run while I walk.

Across the street from the park there’s an empty field and a softball field.  No trees, no nothing, a literal empty field.  Sampson goes to the edge of the park and stares at the field.  He wants – every day – to go over there. I can’t figure out why.  I mean EVERY DAY he wants to go where he’s not.  He wants to leave all the things he loves about the park and where he can walk and run freely, all the trees that provide shade, all the squirrels he loves to chase, everything he enjoys to go to an empty and barren field. So today I hooked him up to the leash and we crossed the street. He walked to the middle of the field and stood there, staring at the park!

Isn’t that just like us?  We’re in a place where we have everything we need and where without a doubt God has blessed us beyond what we deserve and yet, we’re always longing for more.  We look “across the street” and think there may be something over there that will satisfy us or make us happy that we can’t find in the middle of where we are right now.  We look at it every day; think about it every day (amongst all the blessings we’re privy to right now, not appreciating any of it) and when we walk over we find ourselves longing to be back where we just came from!

Before you “cross the street”, look around you.  Consider where you are, what you have and if not satisfied, ask yourself why. Look for – really look for – the goodness of your place, the blessings in your place and make the decision to appreciate what you have and where you are.  If you find you’re always in want of more than what you have while not appreciating what’s around you, you’re missing out on a wonderful blessing that seems to be getting lost in this world we live in: CONTENTMENT.  Society compels us to never be content, to always want more and not be satisfied until we’ve nearly killed ourselves to get it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a better life and other things; just be sure you have a healthy grip on those things and don’t let those things have you.

Want what you have.  The abundant life starts right there. If you find yourself across the street into that thing or place you thought you wanted more than where you were and what you had the remedy is simple.  Walk back to your blessed place and look there.  Be grateful you could and appreciate where you are.  Sampson did.  As soon as we crossed back over and I let him loose, he found two squirrels to chase.  He was perfectly content.  We can be too, if we appreciate where we are right this moment.

1st Timothy 6:6  “…but godliness with contentment is great gain.”

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Don’t Go Back!

I’m writing my very first novel.  I’ve written short stories and devotionals and this is my first attempt at such a big project.  Every time I open the document, I go back to the beginning and critique it to the point where my allotted time to write is more times than not consumed by this process.  Over and over and over again, I start at the beginning and find that I’m frustrated and disappointed when I’ve not made any progress.  I can’t seem to get anywhere!

Oh that’s a word for our lives isn’t it?  I see that same pattern in my life and in my walk with the Lord.  I keep going back to painful, regretful spots and “pick the scab”.  The Lord does His part and keeps His promise.  I see & feel where He’s touched that area of my life and forgiven me and helped me move past it…but I keep opening the wound.  I keep going back to that place which makes me feel like I’ve not progressed or gotten over it.

Stop going back! Stop it! When you find yourself remembering that initial pain, hurt, shame or loss, remind yourself you’ve already lived through it; why put yourself back in that spot?  Remember how sweet God was to give you just what you needed to move on and not be stuck in that place.  When familiar, painful memories of what it felt like when it was happening invade you, intentionally stop yourself and say, “God’s allowed me to live through that once, I don’t need to survive it again”.  Yes, remember all He’s brought you through.  NO don’t relive the agony again.  You don’t have to.  You’re here, not there.  That was yesterday; this is today.  See the difference?

We have to be intentional in our lives.  Yes, things happened that were excruciating but we have to sometimes forcefully remember, it’s not that way now.  We’re past it.  Let’s stay past it.  Let’s don’t go back.  Let’s move forward.

This morning I opened the novel document and wouldn’t allow myself to look back.  Not today.  Today I’m making progress.  What about you?

Philippians 3:13, 14 NASB:  “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Always Chasing

That beautiful dog that had looked friendly for years wasn’t friendly today.  Big German shepherd that I had seen numerous times before decided to bark, growl and chase my car.

That’s a picture of the enemy.  He sits quietly as you pass by and do your routine things.  He doesn’t flinch lots of times – he just watches.  Rest assured, he watches.  He’s always there waiting for an opportunity for a surprise attack.

Sometimes he visibly and actively pursues you and you know it.  Other times, he’s lurking in your complacency and when you least expect it he’s on you, in you and working through you.  He’s always there.  Don’t ever doubt it.

Why even try to avoid him?  If he’s always pursuing why even try to avoid him?  Here’s the thing. YOU can’t! You’re not strong enough to fight him off, not fast enough to outrun him or smart enough to outwit him.  On your own, despite your best efforts he’ll beat you every single time.

As that dog chased me and Sampson, I looked at him and smiled.  We were safe in the car.  No matter how fast he ran or how hard he tried to get to us, because we were protected by the car – far faster than he – he would never catch us.  We were in something he couldn’t penetrate.

As long as we stay close to God the enemy may bark, show his fangs and give chase but he’s no match for our Protector. The enemy can only hurt you if you remove yourself from God’s protection.  Had I stopped the car and gotten out, I would have been bitten, Sampson would have fought him, or both. I had the choice of stopping and challenging the challenger. I chose to stay in where I knew we were safe. We rolled on leaving the aggressive dog behind.

That was a word to my Spirit. Keep moving.  Keep allowing God to protect you.  You may hear, see and even fear the enemy for a time but remind yourself he’s no match when you’re “in” Christ.

1st John 4:4:  “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”

The Tears of God

Raindrops.  Not unusual on an Alabama May morning on any other day; on this day under the conditions of a late spring drought however, it was unusual.

I had just taken my precious cockapoo of 16 years, Sadie, to be put to sleep.  After she had been misdiagnosed for years and discovering she had cancer, she had taken a turn for the worst a week ago and was now to the point that she couldn’t walk and wouldn’t eat. She was still drinking and wagging her tail at Matt, my son. Other than that, she wasn’t the same Sadie she had been not so long ago. I didn’t want to take her to the vet; that experience always unnerved her. I wanted her to die peacefully at home with those she loved around her.  I begged God to take her in her sleep but to my dismay, that didn’t happen.

I couldn’t help but question why He would have me take on the daunting, heartbreaking task of having her put to sleep.  After all, He knows my heart.  He knows how hard this would be for me.  Still there I was, on the way.  I wasn’t happy about it but more to the point, my heart was sick with grief.

On that morning, we prepared to take our last journey together. I gave her a peppermint stick to lick on.  Most of her teeth were long since gone so there was no danger of her biting down on it.  She licked and licked enjoying one of her favorite treats.  I don’t even know what made me think of it. It had been a while since I had given her one.  It pleased me as I watched her remember and enjoy that familiar sweet taste.  Her eyes seemed to brighten just a bit.  Maybe, I thought, I was giving her back a tiny taste of the pleasure she had always given me.

Sadie was like my child.  She and Matt had grown up together.  I don’t think I could have loved her more. She loved to ride in the car.  In her younger days her head would have been out the window with ears flopping in the wind.  Not today though.  Too weak at this point to even sit up, she sought my hand and placed her head there.

We arrived at the vet’s office finding they had cleared all appointments so Sadie and I were the only ones there.  I carried her into the room and placed her on the table wrapped in her favorite blanket.  Again she sought my hand and placed her head there licking my hand. All I could think of to say was, “Thank you Sadie, for bringing so much into our lives.  We love you, Sadie.  Thank you God for bringing us this special doggy through whom you chose to bless us in so many ways.” I said those words over and over again.  I’m sure she sensed my sadness.  I tried so hard to maintain my sense of composure but tears were rolling down my face.

I thought of all the things she had been through with us:  the moves, the joy, the tears, the special times, the sorrowful times.  Faithful.  Constant. Loving.  Now she was gone.  Such a big part of our lives, had breathed her last.  For a few moments, I held her life…and death…in the palm of my hand. What an honor.

That’s how much I loved her.  I loved her enough to provide her a safe, special, loving home in which to live and I loved her enough to stay with her through her death.  I smiled through my tears because I knew that if the Lord had ordained it so, she would have done the same for me.

As I walked out of the office, I prayed that my legs would hold me steady and I could maintain my composure to get to the car. Incredible sadness and the sense of monumental loss enveloped me.  Safe in my car, I began to sob uncontrollably.  As I prepared to drive home I begged God to show Himself in a very personal, very real way and take hold of me and comfort me as I knew only He could.  My heart was absolutely breaking.

As I started the car to head back home, a huge raindrop hit the windshield and then another, another and another.  Odd, it hadn’t rained in almost three weeks as we’d been in a drought pattern for right at a month.  It was then that it dawned on me in my grief that God was crying with me.  In the intense moment of need He felt my pain and saw fit to respond with what I felt were compassionate tears of a Daddy who hurts with His child.  At one of the saddest times in my life, I never felt more loved and cared for than I did in that moment. I’ll never forget it.

Does God care?  Absolutely.  No matter the cause of the pain, He feels it too.  When His children hurt, He hurts.  If His children are suffering, He longs to comfort them, but He will only step in if invited.  Oh yes. He cares.  He comes.  He comforts and oh yes, He cries.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…” 2nd Corinthians 2:1

NOTE:  This story is from my book, “The Last Mile Home, Ordinary Insights from an Extraordinary God” first published 2010

He’s Portable!

My favorite time of the day is the beginning when it’s quiet.  That’s prime time with God’s word and prayer.  I’m facilitating a Bible study and read through the day’s scripture (2nd Peter 1:3-11) which is all about already being equipped to be “partakers of the divine nature…*” (v4).  Verse 5: “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence…*” (emphasis mine).  To me this scripture says we already have in us (through Jesus) His nature and best qualities but it’s up to us to APPLY them, which indicates choosing to exhibit the things in verses 5-8. After studying these verses I could feel God prompting me to stay longer taking His word in so I did, even reading them out loud, then praying.  I felt like a mighty warrior woman, ready for the day and went on with my plan.

Then it happened.  A text upset my apple cart and I watched my very well-organized day go right out the window.  I felt my blood pressure going up and my attitude going down.  Then I remembered the scriptures I had read, studied and prayed over just a little while earlier.  I saw a very distinct crossroad recognizing immediately this was a rubber meets the road moment.  I could APPLY what I’d just read or I could allow frustration to dictate the rest of my day.

That sweet time with God doesn’t have to end when we close our Bibles..and it shouldn’t! All that love, provision, grace, mercy, knowledge and wisdom we glean from spending time with him is portable.  HE goes with us.  Here’s the rub: It’s up to US what we do with Him as we live out the rest of the hours of the day.

Just because we spend a little time in the Word doesn’t mean much if we’re not willing to APPLY it to our lives and choose to live it out.  Everything we need to be a blessing and live this day being pleasing to and loving on God has been already endowed to us as Christ followers. Don’t leave Him where you left your Bible.  He and all of His attributes are in us and with us, no matter what the day brings.  Let’s access Him, choose to live and act to be pleasing to Him.  The Bible goes on to say in verse 10 as long as we PRACTICE these things we will NEVER STUMBLE*!  That sealed the deal for me, and I pray it does for you too.

*2nd Peter 1:3-11/Taken from NASB Translation.

The Monster in the Mirror

There she is again.  Every time something goes wrong, even with something goes right, this wicked monster is the first to cast stones.  She’s quick to remind me of everything I’ve ever done wrong.  Every day, I must contend with her.

Every day, she reminds me of how weak and beaten up I am and all I’ve been through.

Minute by minute if I listen to her, I’m reminded of why I shouldn’t try, why I shouldn’t believe for better and should quit while I’m ahead.  With every new day, the old stares me in the face – if I focus on her long enough, her voice overpowers the God in me.

Perhaps the most important choice is at the beginning of the day, deciding who you’re going to listen to.  The monster doesn’t lie, she tells the truth…her version of it, anyway.

She wants to keep my focus on the past and all the pain affiliated with it.  She needs an excuse to make no effort.  Not because she doesn’t believe (she does – she knows God) but because she does and she knows if I choose not to listen to her (myself) and heed His word and His truth instead, efforts must be made, exercises in faith and trust must ensue.  She’s tired.  She’s weary and she’s discouraged.  She finds very little reason to believe a single word she says or trust even a fleeting thought of hope.  It’s all justified.  Just like a victim seeking revenge on her assailant, her actions would be righteously justified.

Here’s the thing, though.  She’s submitted to God so her right to herself has been relinquished to His right to her.  Her own actions to justify herself are null and void…She’s put her trust and heart into the hands of a Mighty Savior who has already won the battle with the monster.  All she has to do is believe it.  She knows she’s no match for fighting the monster but she’s sure her Jesus is more than capable for the battle of the day.  It’s not her strength against who she sees (and remembers) in that mirror that will have victory this day; it’s His.

Every single day, the choice is ours.  Who will lead us?  Who will we listen to?  Who will we believe?  Ourselves or our King?  The battle is won or lost with that one decision.  The truth is, we may have to make that decision on a minute by minute basis. It won’t be easy (the past will attempt to discourage); it won’t be fun (fighting ourselves is ugly and messy) but we will be victorious against our giants if we choose to fight with all of our armor on – trusting Him with everything they throw at us.  Are you in?

“…even if our hearts condemn us.  For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”  1st John 3:20 NLT