A Dog’s Purpose

Even when others don’t know what we are going through, a dog is always there to comfort us. They listen and seem to understand when no one else does. They are known for their faithfulness, loyalty, obedience and are anxious to serve.

In the grand design of things, I believe God must have created dogs for human companionship and they seem to show up in our lives when we need them most. We can mask our feelings to others, but not to our dogs. They sense when something is wrong and offer a loving nudge with the nose and are always willing to snuggle, well almost always.

When my son was going through a rough period in his life, he decided to get a dog to keep him company. It wasn’t long that I started to notice how much the dog resembled the same behaviors as my son. Either he got the perfect dog – personality wise or the dog adapted to her owner.

As he has grown, and his anxieties improved- likewise she has come out of a lot of her own nervousness. Granted when they moved in with me and I started sharing caretaking duties, she began to adapt to my personality at least partially.

All I know is that she came into his life when he needed her most. They have been good for each other. She is so smart, loving and gentle with everyone. What a sweetheart and delight to have around.

Likewise, my sister adopted a little dog at a time in her life when they were both looking for their way in a sense. Abundance, “Bundy” for short, was full of energy and a free spirit at heart. She did not want to be restrained to any limitations- not even the 140-acre farm in which she had free range, most of the time. She would still get a wild hair and take off up the road to ‘visit’ the neighbors or maybe just see the world. Could be that she just went to say she went because she could. People often reported seeing her in the road, on her hind legs, begging with her little front paws in the air. What a sight. She was one adorable little doggie.

At this time, my sister travelled regularly, (like a free spirit) and had a sense of freedom that she hadn’t experienced in a while. When she would go on trips, if I wasn’t tagging along, I would keep Bundy for her at my house in the suburbs. I walked her on a leash and kept her in the house with me.

It was also at a time in my life where I was finding my own way and enjoyed her company. I guess you could say she had two foster moms. I was trying to redefine who I was as a person and believe I was allowed this time with her for a reason. She showed me there is a different way other than following another person and being controlled by them. She was certainly not doing either one of those.

As my sister began traveling more frequently and I was settling into my new life, we had the conversation about me taking her full time. I know she didn’t like the leash and the confinement of the suburbs as much as the farm where she had freedom to roam, but I hoped she would adapt and enjoy my company as much as I enjoyed hers.

Before we could make the transition, this little individualist made her way back up the hill to the road and was hit by a car. My first thought was that if I had taken her, she wouldn’t have been hit, but in my heart, I know she was doing exactly what she wanted to do. She had served her purpose for more than one person in her short life- and no telling how many others before us.

I am grateful for the time I had with Bundy and for the lessons she taught me. I know in my heart when and if I personally need another furry companion in my life, God will provide it at just the right time.

For now, I enjoy the long walks I share with my son and grand-dog, Alley.

Fair Weather Friend

Is your relationship with Christ dependent on your current circumstances? Do you only go to Him when you’ve reached your breaking point and exhausted all your other options or are you a fair weather friend who praises Him when things are good but as soon as a shift occurs and the tide turns to rough seas you turn your back on Him?

Our relationship with God should be that of a Father and child. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. Our relationship should be too. When we learn how to praise Him through the dark times and thank Him for the lessons, we will start to feel the closeness of our Father. He wants to experience the bad and the good, the sad times and the joyful times; with Him by our side.

It is through the tests and trials that our character is formed. How we handle our reactions to the bad things in life is a good indicator for where our heart is. The more we put our trust in Him through all circumstances, the closer our relationship will be. He always wants the best for us and delights in His little children coming to Him in thanksgiving and praise but also for respite and rest under the shelter of His great wing.

In my daily devotional this morning from Jesus Calling, this line stood out to me: “It is impossible to spend too much time thanking and praising Me.

This is so true. How many times day do you thank Him? It should be more than you can count, especially through the hardest days in the middle of the storm. That is how we keep Him close and rely on Him for strength.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete., needing nothing. James 1:2-4

Tears

I cried all morning, but wasn’t sure why. I took them to God in my quiet time of rest, seeking answers, finding peace again but still uncertain why I was crying. My heart just felt extra tender today.

Then as I finished I saw an alert on my phone telling me that my credit card had just been used in London to purchase train tickets. I was immediately able to block my card just before two other attempts, so there was only one charge that got through.

I was instructed to call my bank immediately, so I did. I hung up with a new sense of gratefulness for the quick response of my bank and being told I would not be responsible for the charge. In tears again, but I knew why this time, for God’s protection. So I thought it only fitting to post this poem God put on my heart a few weeks ago about how God can even redeem our tears. I hope you enjoy it. If you can relate, leave a comment, I would like to hear your experience of God’s beautiful redemption in your life.

A past filled with broken dreams

Hidden behind a mask of lies

A girl so naïve she thought she was loved

Her only tears filled with fear

By the grace of God she escaped his grasp

With a jaded view and a shattered heart

Her tears redeemed by scars and love

You may see her cry but she’s not sad

If she could save her tears and bottle them up

Dose by dose she would prescribe them to the world

Derived from gratefulness hot streaks overflow

Down her cheeks in overwhelming joy

Words don’t measure up

But God knows her heart’s desire

To share her gratefulness with the world

She shares her story in hopes of change

To show others Christ’s love for a broken girl

Who’s tears were redeemed

Polar Bear Parade

Purchase this greeting card

Some of you may be wondering how the image above was birthed and became a greeting card in my collection. Here is the story behind the creation. I hope you see God’s hand in everything I do as well as His sense of humor and desire to make us laugh and enjoy life.

On several occasions in my neighborhood I have seen a bird I thought was a falcon. One morning I saw a bird on the ground in front of me sitting beside a rabbit as I ran down the street. On another occasion, while on a walk, a bird swooped through in front of me at every turn around the block. Another time I was running in the dark and saw a shadow of something sitting in the street in front of me. As I got closer it flew up and around me as if to get my attention. It has surely accomplished that goal. Its wings are pointed, and its body was dark but that is about all I could tell you from the couple of passes it made in front of me.

In searching for falcon facts, I found they are small birds of prey and are related to hawks and eagles. They have pointed wings and long tails. With keen eyesight and soaring high above the ground, this gives them a great perspective and higher vision.

Sitting in quiet time has also been a time of reflection on the falcon. One morning, the image came to me and it reminded me of the birds I had seen in my neighborhood. I began to wonder if I really saw a falcon. I questioned if falcons were indigenous to this area. Maybe I saw a hawk instead.

Then I received this message very clearly in grand fashion: “I could bring a polar bear to stand up right and march a parade in front of your house if I so desired. Nothing is beyond My reach if I wanted to send you a message.”

I love that! It made me laugh to think about a polar bear leading a parade down my street. God has a sense of humor for sure. He delights in making us laugh and bringing us messages and gifts in all forms.

I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:12

So, Jesus told them, “My message is not my own’ it comes from God who sent me.” John 7:16

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26

Spiders & Webs

I thought today was an appropriate time to pull out a message about spiders…I hope you enjoy it.

Another misunderstood creature, the spider. There are very few of us who like spiders and don’t try to kill them or destroy their beautiful masterpiece almost immediately upon creation. Either by accidently running into one or purposely knocking it down. I am guilty of it as well. But I do love to watch them in action and see the design and details they put into their work. Unless the fresh, fallen dew has highlighted the work that went into a new web, on an early crisp fall morning, we don’t usually see them until it is too late. There is nothing like a face full of web to start your day.

But seriously, a spider has everything inside it to survive every day and provide for all its needs. The silk used to make the web has many uses. God designed it, kind of like a swiss army knife, not only for survival but everyday life.

Did you know a spider’s web reflects ultraviolet light? Some scientists believe they use this mechanism to lure other prey into the web because insects like to fly towards light. But they also use the silk to catch their prey. Since most web-weaving spiders have poor eyesight, they are equipped instead with a sense for movements and can detect vibrations on the web. (Hence the term, Spidey senses.) This allows them to sense movements as small as the width of a human hair.

The intricate details of its design not only look like a form of art but also serve a purpose that the spider uses naturally. But it comes at a cost. Silk production is made from protein molecules that take a lot of energy from the spider. (I will think about that before destroying one so quickly next time.)

There are many speculations from arachnologists who wonder why a spider uses so much of its energy to make such a design. Some theories include stability, visibility, camouflage, prey attraction, mate attraction and even to expend excess silk.  Even if the experts can’t figure out this mystery, God designed spider silk to be one of the best building materials that is both strong and elastic.  It can withstand a lot of strain before breaking, it conducts heat and has antibiotic properties.

Spider silk is also made from protein, produced by a gland in the spider’s abdomen. The gland can store silk protein in liquid form. When it needs silk, the liquefied protein passes through a canal where it gets an acid bath. As the PH of the silk protein is lowered it changes structure. The pulling motion from the spinnerets puts tension on the substance to help it harden in a solid as it emerges.

The firmer protein crystals give silk its strength while the softer protein provides elasticity. Spiders are great recyclers by eating their webs in many instances. They also use their sulk to travel, to keep from falling, to find its way back home, as a shelter, to mate, and protect their offspring.

God also puts His Spirit inside us and gives us gifts we can use in our everyday life that reflect His light. We have everything we need inside us for our everyday living. But most of us only use it or call on it when we are in survival mode. God designed us to call on Him for our every day, walking around life, to allow the Spirit to think, live and love through us, like we were designed.

How are we using the gifts and talents He placed inside us? Are we building masterpieces and creating beautiful ways to reflect His light? Are we calling on Him in our everyday life or winging it and missing the beauty of His design?

We can weave some fantastic webs in our lives, but do they serve us well or trap us? If we believe the lies of the enemy, we can get ourselves caught up in a sticky web of deceit and start to believe what he says about us. But God speaks truth- only God can define us and He helps us escape the enemy that wants to hold us back.

As I was preparing to write this message, I saw a spider in my bathroom, and I heard this message: “You have everything inside you to carry out your purpose in this life. I have equipped you for this moment.” It also coincided with the day I signed the agreement to publish my books: Beyond Yourself, A Spiritual Awakening and Quiet Moments, Mornings with the Holy Spirit.

Enjoy life, accept your lot in life, this is indeed a gift from God. Eccl. 5:18-20

Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me, for I find protection in you alone. Psalm 31:4

Hadley, D. (2018) Why Spiders Decorate Their Webs Theories About the Purpose of Web Stabillimentum Accessed October 2, 2018 through https://www.thoughtco.com/why-spiders-decorate-their-webs-1968569

Healthy Decision Making

Now that it is getting colder again, I had to remind myself how many layers I really need as I head out the door for an early morning run.

The first cold snap and I put on way too many. I overdressed due to the initial shock of the temperatures as I had been accustomed to the warmer mornings. But from experience I knew I would warm up quickly when I got moving and be too hot. I allowed my feelings in the moment decide for me and influence my decision instead of going off experience and knowledge of the truth.

That is so easy to do in other situations of our lives as well. We take how we are feeling the moment and make a rash decision rather than looking into our past experiences to pull out a well-thought out decision.

We sometimes block out all awareness of Christ and go through life to the beat of our own song. That is when we miss a lot of blessings. Bitterness destroys lives, marriages and relationships.

Regret and resentment from bad choices can weigh on us and we start to allow it to define us and our self-worth takes a nose dive off the deep end. We sink like a rock. That’s where Jesus comes in and throws us a life-line.

I am learning to hit pause on my decision making until I have consulted God. I have found Him to be a helpful and necessary consultant. This practice has saved me from many bad decisions or ones that are made from feelings, in the moment, rather than being based on His truth and knowledge from lessons learned. If we look to Him before charging out on our own it can save us from some major catastrophes in our life.

Leaning to hit pause before I speak is also something I have had to learn over time. It has kept me from blurting out something I would regret later. A simple, silent prayer or whisper, “Help me Holy Spirit” helps me hold my tongue in certain situations and respond appropriately.

There are still times that I mess up, make mistakes and don’t know how to be honest and direct in my communications. Usually because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. God is still working on me. He gives me insight on how to respond the next time and courage to be honest and properly communicate what I mean.

Honesty is always the best policy. That doesn’t mean I have to be mean or rude. It simply means I can say what I mean in a kind, gentle way. I need to be direct in my communications, so others are clear about my stance. Not being clear has gotten me in trouble in the past. Not being able to say no is something I dealt with that I don’t want to continue. Being firm is sometimes necessary in certain situations. Boundaries are healthy and necessary.

Decisions themselves have always been a struggle in my life. It was always easier to just allow others to make them for me and not stand up for myself. (This is how I became a co-dependent, people-pleaser) I grew up in a family that didn’t communicate what they were really thinking.  Trying to decide where to eat became a major decision every time and resulted in us not being able to make any of the important decisions in our lives. That carried over into adulthood for most of my life. But God, is showing me how to make healthy choices and decisions that have changed my life and ultimately lead me to Christ.

He saved me from my bad choices and tells me that is not who I am. When our self-worth is found in Christ alone we can get our head out of the water and see the light again.

The only one I need to please is God. That makes all my decisions clearer by asking what God wants for me, based on His truth and the knowledge He gives me.

Trust the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.” Proverbs 3:5-7

An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship. Proverbs 24:26

Road Map

On one of my morning runs, I saw a black and white cat run across in front of me, not just once but twice. Most of its body was black but it’s head and neck were white. It made me think about how we look at things as black and white or gray when we are somewhere in the middle.

I used to be all on the black side before I surrendered to Christ. When I began my journey, it didn’t happen overnight the day I was baptized. The bible says come as you are not wait until you are completely clean.

I then started thinking about pivotal moments in history when there were bad or good things that happened in the world. We all know exactly where we were when we heard the news about 9-11 for instance. I have also had pivotal moments throughout my journey to Christ that I can remember exactly where I was and about what date it happened. If I don’t remember the date I can look back in my journals and usually find it.

These are considered “Kairos” moments; (a propitious moment for decision or action.) Once you decide to be a Christ follower you eventually go ‘all in’- you can’t be both black and white or darkness and light. Most of us probably stay somewhere in the middle most of our lives. I started thinking about when I went all in and how long it took from the time, I had my accident and was baptized. I pinpointed several pivotal moments that I can look back on and know that God was shaping my character during those times to get me another step closer to a Christ centered life. I couldn’t see it at the time but can now look back and recognize how the important decisions I was making were better for my new life and direction.

I had just come out of an abusive relationship where I felt ashamed, unworthy of real love and blamed myself for the things that happened to me. It was during this timeframe of the breakup that I had my accident. The accident changed my life, but it wasn’t at that exact moment that I went all in with Christ. That was just the beginning.

I was still dating and made bad choices for myself. But God began to work on my heart and for the first time I realized that I didn’t have to allow a man to disrespect my body just because that is what he wants. I have a choice. I have a voice. I learned how to use it and stand up for myself. This Kairos moment was just after my accident. This was only one stop on my road map to Christ, but it was a very important one. I could have allowed this person to have his way that day, like I had done so many times before with other men. But this time was different. This time, a voice inside me told me I didn’t have to allow this.

Another important moment came the following year when I was dating again, this time to a very nice person, but I knew I had to end it because I still wasn’t entirely living for Christ. After a getaway weekend, I felt so convicted that I had to end the relationship as soon as we got back. I couldn’t hide it or hold off any longer. He could see it all over my face. I couldn’t hide it because God was in my decision. I broke it off and moved another step closer to Christ.

Recently, I was reminded of my accident and the events that happened that day. I saw each step of that day moment by moment. I saw the changes I began making in my life afterwards, but my lifestyle and focus on my relationship with God took time. 352 days came to mind. There were still a couple of bumps in the road, but He led me to where I am today.

I calculated the days to see what date that would be and then I searched all my journals until I found it. Here is what I wrote in my journal 352 days from my accident:

“A person should never put themselves in a position that they would do anything for another person when it conflicts with their morals and/or jeopardizes their character. This type of relationship should only be with God. A person should not put another person in that position or make it a condition of their relationship or love for that person on those conditions.”

It was very shortly after this that I stopped dating altogether and put all my focus on my new relationship with God. I knew that is where my focus needed to be, without distractions. This was my choice and five years later I am still very happy about it. It gave me time that I needed to grow in Christ and figure out who I was as a person and child of God.

I am now reliant only on God. He is the only one I need to please. The things in my life that I clung to the tightest are the very things I had to let go of. The things I hid from for so long are the things that are being revealed and bring me most joy because it will help others. He created me and saved me for this purpose. I am chosen by God to carry out the mission He has planned for me.

He has a blueprint for my life that is unique as I am. He connects the dots on my journey and directs my path on the road map to a Christ centered life that brings joy and peace even through the speedbumps that occur along the way. These just make me stronger and through endurance my faith grows.

Can you look back and see any Kairos moments in your life that shaped your character and brought you another step closer to Christ? Write them down. Pay attention daily for any new opportunities. God can use everything for His good.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3