Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Just Keep Waling, Walking, Walking

BULLDOG UPDATE: For those that you have asked, AnnaBelle is good. The allergy medicine her humans neglected to give her until she was puny worked. We promised her to do a better job watching the pollen count. For the love of bulldogs let us have a really hard freeze this winter, at least one.

If my memory isn't failing me I think we haven't had any really good one freezes on a couple of years so I feel we are due. I will know better soon, thanks to an app on my iPhone called Timehop. Timehop is an app that rolls around your memories in the form of the photos and videos you posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. and sorts them by year. Each day, I get to see what was going on 1, 2, 3 even 11 years ago. Yes, I am that Facebook old.



Today on my memories came up photos of these beautiful pupsters. Now I don't always post just photos of my dogs. I post pics of my family and friends too. But today is National Dog Day (in our home, every day is Dog Day.) Apparently the nation has set aside a day for it or someone did and it caught traction. So on my Time Hop were pics of all these babies. Some who read this will remember the big dark brown doofy dog, named Max and the stunning, wrinkled, majestic woman named Belle. Belle was Dylan's first puppy. Santa Claus brought her home to him when he was three. They were life long pals. Yes I said were. We had to let Belle go to heaven a few years ago. She had lived a very long life and her body finally gave out. I think of her most everyday. There will never be a more loyal dog than Belle. And Captain Doofster, Max was fun, fun, fun and at a fairly advanced age grieved himself to death when Belle passed and was gone within less than a year.

Sadness from grief is a tricky emotion. It is so strong, even dogs feel it. I am currently in a season of grief. I presided over a celebration of life for a wonderful woman from church last week and today I am headed to my Tennessee hometown to help plan the service for a member of my friend family. ("friend family" - people that are friends that are really like family. Not to be confused with family friend.) This man, an ordained elder in the denomination I serve, kind, humble and gentle, has finally gone to the place he worked so hard to send many before him. I am honored to be in the family position with this man and his wife. 

Grief is funny. Not humorous, but ironic. It is a deep sadness that can overtake your entire body. But grief is also the doorway to something much more beautiful, sweet memories. Without the beginning of grief, you cannot have the comfort of sweet memories. I have spent the last week remembering the sweetness of the wonderful woman that is already arranging flowers for her King but I am not yet beyond grief enough to have much more than a few fleeting sweet memories of this spiritual parent in my life. The sadness is too deep for now.

As I study, I am drawn to hope in two separate passages this morning. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 encourages me by telling me that those who understand a life in Christ will not grieve without hope as those that have gone on, have gone on to glory with Christ.  Knowing that both of the precious humans, and those in my life that have preceded them in death are hanging with Jesus allows me to move on the remembering moments with them that brings joy for me rather than being mired in sadness. 

This morning as I was preparing for my Bible Study class, I meditated on this passage from Romans 8, "For I am sure the neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, not powers, not height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God, in Jesus Christ our Lord." In Christ I can live in the sweet memory spot because I know that my connection to Jesus extends that connection to them in a divine way. They are never really gone...hence the sweet memories. To get there, though, I must pass through the door of grief and walk that journey towards hope. 

Today:

  • Walk through that door to grief if you haven't yet. Begin the journey.
  • Look for and soak in sweet memories.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Bulldog Care

AnnaBelle hasn't been feeling well. She isn't really sick or anything like that. She is just not 100 percent. Bulldogs can be that way. I mean let us be honest. They are not made well. No offense intended to the Great Creator, we humans monkeyed around with His design and voilà. They often have bad hips, skin issues, problems with their wrinkles, especially around their eyes and can over heat so easily due to brachiocephalas (smashed face.) We are blessed. We do have to watch AnnaBelle's delicate hips, but she has seem to avoid skin issues, problems with her wrinkles and eyes. She was born with a cleft palate but, thankfully, it almost seems as if that helps her breathe a little better. She has a vent!. I am not sure exactly what is wrong, but my spidey sense says it might be allergies. The pollen is high and that is her kryptonite: pollen. Just like humans, she gets sneezy, watery eyes, runny nose and a rolling tummy. Here is the funny part...it took Lola to inform me about AB this morning. Lola was taking care of her sister bully. Typically, the girls are at odds. AnnaBelle likes a lot of space. Lola wants to be on top of her. AnnaBelle has one favorite teddy bear. Lola wants what AnnaBelle has. There can be five pillows, blankets or beds laying around and Lola only wants the one AnnaBelle is on.











This morning, as I worked out, I noticed an absence of bulldog invasion on my yoga mat so I looked around to see this...Lola giving her sister a lot of love. It was almost bulldog spa day. in our house this is how we know a bulldog is "down." The other bulldog loves on them. Just yesterday they were squabbling over who got to sit next to Dad on the couch. But today, all the love was being poured out by AnnaBelle. More importantly, AnnaBelle was accepting it; eating it up.

As I study, I am taken in my Bible to Ephesians 4, the end portion in particular.

(verses 17 through 32). In this passage, Paul is teaching the people at the church in Ephesus that they had been given a brand new life through Christ. Atonement theory in the crucifixion explains that we have that new life because we have been cleared of our sin and throughout a deep relationship with God, now made possible, and the indwelling fo the Holy Spirit we have the ability to be new, different...read, NOT THE SAME AS WE WERE. And NOT THE SAME AS EVERYONE ELSE that doesn't know Christ.

As I look around and see how people have been speaking to and treating each other I wonder about the new life. It seems many of us have been "new" so long the new seems to have worn off, something that isn't supposed to happen. Pauls describes what new looks like: anger doesn't make a home in us, we work hard, our mouths produce talk for building up, not tearing down, and most importantly... they are kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving of one another. 

How do we live as the bulldogs live? With a new life. We are reminded in Christ, what has been done in us. What has been done? We have had a major overhaul within us that urges us to love as we have been loved by God. God loves us in spite of our imperfections, God loves us beyond those imperfections. God has forgiven all the actions that have grieved God's Spirit in the past. The words Paul used was that we are to forgive "as God in Christ forgave you." 

Often we justify our words, our actions because: we are right, this is what the law of scripture says, or the law of the land, all as we interpret it, or want it to be, or people need to stop being so sensitive. Have you thought about how your words, actions, Facebook posts, comments, replies wound someone that is maybe not 100 percent right now. Or maybe they are, and your words, actions, posts, etc. just grieve God.

I mean let's be honest. If a bulldog that only has two working brain cells (Bless her) can figure this out; show self-control and empathy for the one that she is most oppositional with, can't we???

Today:

  • Explore your new life in all its glory
  • Share your new life with another
  • Or just be

Monday, August 24, 2020

God Winked

Today, on the porch there was an interesting occurrence. I am pretty sure I had a repeat visitor. Last week I was sitting with a good friend, working on an internet Bible study project and a beautiful butterfly was flitting about my hanging lavender, sniffing and flittering from bloom to bloom. Of course, we stopped and gazed upon what we felt was a simple God wink. 

When I was little, I had an uncle that was like a father to me. We are still close to this day. He was my only father figure. He was my earthly example of our Benevolent Father. Often, when things seemed rough or tough, my uncle would shoot me a little wink. No words, or hugs, just a simple wink reminding me he was there and would be there and all would be ok. I didn't have to worry about being small or feeling powerless.

When beautiful butterflies show up out of no where and linger, giving us a peaceful presence, I consider those moments similar to my uncle's wink only it is a wink from God. They are just a simple reminder that God is still there and we can be assured of His presence.

As we began to work further on our project, trying to not just stare at the large butterfly, we both notice immediately that the poor thing had a chunk of one of its wings missing. As we finish our project, I couldn't help but wonder if that poor butterfly would fair well with his wing broken. Would he be able to fly where ever it is that butterflies fly to? Was he able to escape predators, like puppy cats that love to jump high and capture flying insects? I found myself reflecting on that butterfly for days. There must be some kind of message in the butterfly. And then, the sweet thing returned this morning. I know it was him. It has got to be the same little guy. 

Compare the two photos. 

Today I think I received the message the butterfly's two visits had for me.

As I study I am drawn to 2 Corinthians 12. 

God has everything we need in His holy power. That all our insufficiencies are made stronger by Him in our weakness. That sweet butterfly had enough because he was a creature of God. We have enough because we are a creature of God. No handicap, handicaps us. No limitation, limits us. No bad break can break us!

Today:

  • Look for God winks
  • Allow God to reveal His power in your brokenness


Sunday, July 26, 2020

String Trimming

With Joe down for a few more
weeks, I decided I would help with the lawn work. Now,  I love to mow. I mean, driving fast in circles on the lawn mower let’s me get my inner Indy 500 dreams out. And I also don’t mind trimming the bushes..and we have a lot of bushes. A lot. But trimming bushes allows me to get creative and stylish, almost like hair styling. There is another chore, though, weedeating. I didn’t know if I liked it or not but to me the lawn is not finished until you weedeat the edges and walls and fence line. So I decided I would get after it. 

A bunch of sweat and leg wounds later (I know I should wear pants but it was too hot for jeans and that was all I had) I finished the front yard. The next day I tackled the backyard. 

I now know how to untangle line, reload the line and get between rocks and other right places. I have blisters, I am grass stained and bruised. I have blood dripping from wounds on my legs and I may have cracked a bone in my foot when I tossed a fence pole (like a beast) and it bounced back to land on my foot. 

I had to move stuff, heavy rocks, boards Joe is saving for a project, a dog swimming pool and huge rocks and concrete. Sometimes I had to actually pull the weeds because I couldn’t get to them with the weed eater. When I was finished I had to put everything back, neat and orderly. 

In the end, I was hot and exhausted but I felt a huge sense of satisfaction. It looked nice. But I also knew it was done well,  all the weeds were eaten...for now. The chaos of the overgrown weeds, and haphazard pile of wood was taken care of...for the time being. I know they will be back. Who created weeds, anyway???

Later, as I study, I think of the parable Jesus tells in Matthew 13 about weeds. In the parable, the good sower plants perfect crops but the enemy comes and sneaks weeds within them in the middle of the night. His workers offered to pull them up (they didn’t have weed eaters in the 1st century) but he said, “no.” He was concerned the good plants would be messed with. He said, though, when the crops had matured he would then pull them up and bind them up and burn them. 

I ponder the weeds and wonder about my weeds down within my good stuff God has cultivated within me. How often should I “weedeat” that garden? I would say as often, if not more than my lawn. I wonder what those wounds would be like as I knock weeds out through my rock hard stubbornness? How many obstacles will I have to move around to get those weeds hidden behind them. Do I have all the tools I need and do I know how to use them?  Most importantly, do I want the weeds gone badly enough to put in the back breaking work? Jesus cultivated all the right things in my new life. But the evil one will slip in some bad, stubborn weeds now again. I guess I better get busy. I have work to do. 

Today:
🌱 Take up weedeating
🌱 Allow Jesus to cultivate the good stuff. 
🌱 Remember, it’s not about the work...it’s the purpose (a quote from my smart friend Melissa.)

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Pushing' and Shovin'

Awwww, don't they look sweet, sharing a bed outside while Joe and I eat breakfast. Pictures can fool you. Allow me to give you the real scoop. Lola is a big baby. If anyone has anything at all, she needs it too. AnnaBelle was laying in this bed and Lola came and crowded in. If you look closely you can see how how happy she looks about sharing. As much as Lola thinks she needs everything, AnnaBelle doesn't want to share anything. 
 As AnnaBelle shifts her position, so does Lola; slightly edging AnnaBelle out a little at a time, taking over a little more space. 

AnnaBelle, while almost falling out of the back of the bed, lets go of her hold on her spot, Lola, tries using her head, not in the intelligent, strategic way. She uses her head to try to push AnnaBelle out of the bed.  The head pushing goes on for a full five minutes, AnnaBelle pushing one way and then Lola pushing the other. Annabelle works to stand up to get a better foundation and then Lola goes for a new move. She plants all four feet squarely on on the bed and uses her butt to push her almost out of the bed. Finally AnnaBelle gives in and goes and pouts on the hard stone floor and eventually leaving the porch pout behind the bushes.

What perplexes me is that there are three, count them three, other places for a bulldog to lie down on the porch. 


We humans are often just like bulldogs; stubborn, selfish and pushy. What is said, is just like bulldogs, these traits put our human depravity on display for all to see. What we think they see is us, holding our ground for what is ours; what we need. What is really seen is us cutting off our noses to spite our faces. Lola could have gone a laid down in the nice teepee with the memory foam mat, or the small cooling mat, or even stretch out on the larger mat that used to be a lawn chair cushion, but she looks less than intelligent fighting to hold onto the worst bed on the porch just because someone else wants it. AnnaBelle could have just walked away, rather than be difficult, letting Lola have the bed, which by the way has lost the padding on bottom and is just a thin piece of fabric, and taken one of the equally comfy other beds on the porch. Yes, AnnaBelle has the right to hold on to the bed - she had it first, of course. And how dare Lola just come and grab it. Lola could have chosen a different bed, and not been pushy, but doesn't she have the right to go for what she wants in life? 

All of these traits in ourselves, often keep us from having the blessings God intends for us. White knuckle gripping and holding on to what we think we want or deserve can often block what is coming our way that could be much better. 

As I study I am drawn to The Story of the Rich Fool in the Gospel of Luke (Chapter 12:13-21.) Jesus is teaching with a parable that it is foolish to fill your barn with treasures and not filling your heart with God. In other words, fighting to get the worst dog bed because someone else has it and causing yourself to miss out on the best possession ever; a Heavenly Father that will give you much better gifts if you make room for them in your life. Maybe we wouldn't have to fight so hard for what we feel is rightfully ours when we realize all the good things come from God as a great and wonderful gift. Possibly we won't hold on to things so tightly when we realize God will give us something much better if we make room. 

Today:
🐶 Empty your barn.
🐶 Let God make things happen for you.
🐶 Don't pout like AnnaBelle when you don't get your way - you will look silly.



Thursday, July 23, 2020

#Basic

#Basic! "She's so Basic." "That outfit is soooo basic!" Apparently basic is bad, these days. Check out the Urban Dictionary definition of basic. 

But here is my world today, plaid old man pajamas that are at least 10 years old, eating plain oatmeal for breakfast. My coffee is black, hot and STRONG. No whipped, vanilla, iced, latte mocha venti coffee for me today. No cool, stylized breakfast photos today for me. AnnaBelle is unceremoniously sleeping at my feet. Fin not doing anything cute or funny and Lola is doing her poop thing in the yard. ( I will save you that photo.) 





My workout today wasn't in my favorite gym (Brickhouse Barre.) I worked out at home, on a dog hair covered yoga mat. I couldn't get more basic than this if I tried. 
My life is usually a little more fun, I guess. Usually the critters are entertaining. And for the most part, with me trying to live a more healthy lifestyle I get to take some pretty cool workout and food pictures, for sure. Our porch is still lovely but frankly, by 9am I am out. this current humidity is NOT basic. 

I can give you the reasons why my life is so basic right now. Joe is recovering from surgery so new plants because he needs to lay low. Food needs to be pretty low key and puppy cats and bulldogs are serving as caregivers for the patient so they are hovering closely and trying to be still.







But is being basic really a bad thing? As I study, I see Jesus as living a simple life. I see him urging his followers to live simply and intentionally. But today, as I peep into the world of the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 1), I see a group of people that struggled with understanding this new life they had been given and how to live into it. More importantly, they had a bit of a struggle with communicating the Gospel message to others. 


It seems as if they were trying to make it hard, flashy, complicated. But God's message through Christ is basic: Put God at the forefront and allow God to work through you to others. Your life doesn't have to be big or extra. In fact, that is what God wants for you. God wants your life to be rich, intentional and God filled. If special things come your way, let them come from God and then thank God for His rich blessings in your life. Let God create the grandness in your life, rather than your manufactured extra-ness. God WILL bring good to you. But, if anyone is headed to Starbucks today let me know, asking for a friend. 😉





Today:
☕️ Be basic
🍞 Love the life God gives you
🌷 Don't be a diva

Monday, July 20, 2020

🍑 Peaches


This is a picture of my breakfast. Well...I had every intention of taking a beautiful stylized photo of the fresh, homegrown, sliced peaches I got down the road from a local orchard. They were picked this morning. Also in my bowl was some wonderful cottage cheese. Yes, I love cottage cheese and some 12 grain toast. No, this was not an exciting, fancy or trendy breakfast, but it was yummy. Hence, the empty bowl. I just starting eating before I remembered to snap the picture. Same with my coffee. It was exceptionally strong, black and rich this morning. It was also exceptionally needed, so no photo there. 

Sometime that is life. We go at it hard, adventurous, busy and even stressful and we end up empty. Emptiness doesn’t mean that we are spent, although it can mean that. Being emptied can also mean we just are busy living life. Here is the good news, I have more peaches in the kitchen, more bread, cottage cheese, whatever I choose to pair with them. Coffee can always be made again (that may even happen before the day is over.) being empty means we have space to be filled. 

As I study, I am back in the Psalms, a great place to be filled. Psalm 103 tells us that “He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (vs. 5) In order to be filled, we must first be empty; make room for the good things to come. One of the most common passages about God filling is Luke 6:38. It speaks to being filled to over flowing, presses down and shaken to make room for more. You know, like when you buy a new bag of flour and it is just a little more than there is room for, so you shake the canister, allowing the flour to settle down, then you can squeeze in the rest from the bag. That is how Jesus explained, God will fill you. Take notice, though, it happens after you gave first.  In this case you were emptied from giving. 

This week, I plan to go get more peaches, since I am about out of peaches. But like the last box I bought, I will give away half. We can’t eat that many before they would spoil and why not? Something will come in their place. 

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will FILLyou completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Today:
🍑 Empty yourself your be filled 
🍑 Give
🍑 Eat some fresh fruit. It’s good for you.