Sunday, May 29, 2011

and bailey came home

We walked down the streets of the gated community, some of its residents came forward to say hello, others stood back, fearful and shaking not knowing what to make of the newcomers in their midst. But there was one he neither hung back nor came forward, he just looked up, straight at you, his eyes sad, he knew the drill we were nothing new to him, it may be a different neighborhood, but the people were the all same, everyone came to look but no one came to buy at least not where he was concerned, and if they did, it wasn’t long before they would take him back to where he came from, the gated community where it was loud and noisy, he had gotten used to the chain link fence and cement floor as his home. 
Why couldn’t he catch a break? He loved his first home but one day they took him to the gated community and never came back.  That is when another family came and brought him to live at their home, it was ok there but they were gone a lot and he was lonely, that is when his nervous tummy started, what went down didn’t always stay down and sometimes they hit him when he would make a mess on the floor, that is why they took him back to the gated community.  No one wanted to take him home there, so he was taken to another gated community, by this time he was used to cold and sterile floors where people rarely pet him, and he loved to be pet, he resolved that this is what his life was going to be. 
Until that day, lots of people came to see him, the first woman had a big black lab and there was no way he was going home with them, he would take a cement floor any day over having to live with that dog, so he howled and growled in protest and it was finally decided that would not be the best home for him.  Then the elderly man and his wife came, they seemed nice enough but when they found out about his tender tummy they never came back.   Then came those women, the older one talked to him in funny voices and the younger one kept trying to stick her fingers through the holes in the fence, there was no way they were going to take him home, not after they found out that was he was Bailey, the broken Basset Hound with a tender tummy, they were probably going to take the guy next door home, the one that looked like a shag carpet, they stopped and visited with him too, but nope they kept coming back to Bailey, even took him out for a bit, the older woman kept talking to him in funny voices and rubbing his ears, and the younger one sat on the floor, tickling his belly and giving him treats.  So Bailey waited, certain they were going to come back and get him, but it was getting late, where were they, why weren’t they coming to get him? We’re losing daylight here where are they? They really seemed to like him.  It was the tender tummy thing wasn’t it? That is why they didn’t want him, but he couldn’t help it sometimes it just came up without warning.
It was dark outside now, the shelter workers were closing up shop for the day and Bailey settled in for another night in that cold dank place, maybe tomorrow he thought, another family will come to take him home.
Daylight broke and it was time to go outside, and he prolonged those field trips as long as he could, he loved being outside but he only got out a few times a day so he tried to make it last as long he could, raising his head towards the sky he loved the feel of the sun on his face.  Then it was feeding time, it looked like it was going to be just another day, wondering when he was going to be moved again, he never stayed in one place very long, it was only a matter of time, and he was right, the truck had been called to come pick him up and take him to another shelter in Minnesota.  But Bailey didn’t know the women who talked to him in funny voices called the shelter just a few minutes before closing time the night before, she decided she wanted to take Bailey home, the transport truck was canceled, and the women and her daughter sat in the office completing the paperwork while Bailey nestled into a corner of his tiny cement floor home resolving that is was going to be just another day.  But then one of the nice girls that took care of him came to get him, it wasn’t time to go outside yet, and he was being led to another part of the shelter, one he had never been to before, what was going on?  And that is when he saw the lady with the funny voices standing to greet him.
Bailey was going home.
In the months since Bailey came home, he has settled in quite nicely, he threw up a lot in the beginning but the nice lady would rub his back and tell him it was ok, she never hit him, with a lot of love, a special dog food and spoonful of yogurt before each meal (yogurt, who woulda thunk it?) Bailey’s tender tummy is tender no more, the nice lady takes him for car rides almost every day, lets him rest his head in her lap, plays hide and seek with him, takes him for walks for what seems like 10 times a day, but Bailey isn’t complaining he loves to take walks and sniff the trees and she lets him lay outside in the sun for as long as he wants, and sometimes she takes him to the girls house, the one that would stick her fingers through the holes in the cage, to run around and play in her backyard.
And Bailey is home
Moral of the story:
Maybe you too feel like the truck is just hours or minutes away from coming to carry you off into the abyss never to be heard from again.  God is never late, but he sure likes to cut it close sometimes.
What may look like another ordinary day to you could just be the hang time until the paperwork is complete so God can deliver you.
What may look like a missed opportunity could be God working out the details to bring you the best opportunity.
Can’t catch a break?  It will probably come when things look to be at their worst and when you aren’t looking.
Broken just means that a better a version of you is waiting to be put back together.
And the best part of Bailey coming home, a family on verge of extinction is being slowly being restored through the mutual love of a broken ole Basset Hound with a tender tummy.


Bailey taking a a nap on my couch during a day of dogsitting

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

get to know you

“So you seeing anyone?” my friends husband asked.  Was he serious? Knowing my current situation I was a little taken aback that he would ask, in my opinion, such a stupid question.  

Dating right now is so far off the grid of my radar I think it has landed on Mars and has started to build a home there. 

“What man is going to want some broke unemployed chick?” I replied.

I can’t believe I actually used the word chick, but I did. 

It just seems unfair to knowingly bring someone into my situation, knowing that I have nothing to offer and not knowing when that is going to change.

It hasn’t always been like this, there was a time in my life where I thought my circumstances were perfect to start a relationship with someone, yet no one ever came along. In fact, for some reason during that time I seemed to possess super human man repellant powers, I kid you not.

I know many a single women that are in this season, their life is flowing and marriage seems to be the next step in bringing their lives full circle and…

Cue the crickets. 

As hard as it is going to be for you to read these next words, it is harder for me to write them. As much as we think we are ready, sometimes we are just not prepared for the marriage God intends for us to have.  I had a very narrowed minded view of what I wanted my married life to look, I wanted a husband that worked hard at the office, I would a be a stay at mom raising the children in my neatly manicured suburban home with granite countertops and I was not interested in anything that did not fit into that criteria.

It wasn’t until this past year when God laid me on that steel slab and rolled me into the raging inferno of the fiery furnace that all that began to change. Wounds from the past that kept me from moving forward were burned up and it has been a series of slow baby steps bringing me in line with His will. It has been a constant forward motion of tearing down and rebuilding, and I didn’t think anything was wrong with me before that, I thought I was perfectly fine. It wasn’t until He got out the hack saw and started chopping away that I realized I was carrying around a bunch of dead branches that would have only gotten in the way of what God intended for my life to be.  

I would never wish what I been through this past year on anyone, I would never choose it for myself nor would I choose to walk it again, but I am glad it happened, and between you and me, don’t tell anyone ok?  I am glad I am still single, I am glad I have been given this gift of one on one time with God without any distractions, and if you are in a similar situation or ever find yourself there, you have been given a gift, unlimited one on one time with God. Take it for as long you can get it, it is one of the most precious gifts He will ever give you. Get to know the person God created you to be, the rest can wait.

My path has changed direction and I am starting to see tiny pieces of the puzzle slowly being put in their proper places, and as this shift in my life continues to move I truly believe God will bring someone into my life that is headed down the same God directed path I am.

So I may not get the husband that goes to work at the office everyday, I may never have children born of my own body, or the house in the suburbs with the granite countertops, but it doesn’t mean I won’t have a husband who loves me, children I adore, or a warm and cozy home, it may not look the way I intended for it look but it will look the way God intended for it look, because His ways are always better.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

all roads lead to Rome

I glanced in my rearview mirror and there must have been at least ten cars behind me, all with flashing red turn signals all of us going to the same place, church, and for some reason I  always get directed to the side parking lot.  While the lot attendants flag every else to the front lot I always get flagged to the side lot, up the little hill into what looks like a makeshift overflow gravel parking lot, which means I have to use the furthest side door and walk through the entire church, past the chapel, the prayer room, a few conference rooms, a few bathrooms,  the nursery aaand the coffee bar to get to the sanctuary. It is a work out and I really the think the church owes me a new pair of sneakers and walking stick as they are getting a bit worn out  from the miles of terrain I cover every Sunday morning.

For the longest time I had a hard time believing that God could ever use me, I have made a lot of mistakes, some I have shared in this blog others too shameful to even talk about and for now will remain between me and God, but trust me I have made some doozy of mistakes.  In fact, so many mistakes that I thought I had exceeded my quota and I am now past the point of no return, God cannot use me.  I have wondered why He had let me soldier on in the vat of my own sin for so long, don’t mistake me He has been with me my entire life, He had been chasing me my entire life, but He never bullied His way in He just stood quietly on sidelines, knowing that one day I would come to Him and He would use the road I have traveled for the good.

 God has been hard at work in my life this past year, changing my heart and using that vat of sin I was filling up faster than a bartender mixing drinks at happy hour, for His glory. I have recently gotten involved with the student ministry at my church, trust me I was more than a little surprised by this, me and other peoples kids, well not so much, but I am loving it.  I have recently decided to go back to college to become a teacher, my dream is to teach children in underdeveloped countries, and to someday teach girls who have been rescued from sexual slavery to give them a chance at life, maybe even explore adoption. 

God has changed my heart to want to sow into these young girls lives to not walk the same road I did because I know the devastation it causes and I know what it is like to unravel the damage other people have done. 

All roads to lead to Rome, if you let Him take you there, but sometimes that road may take you past the chapel the prayer room the conference rooms, bathrooms aaand the coffee bar before you can reach the sanctuary. It is not so much the mistakes you have made but what you do with them, are you going to let God use the mistakes of your past and use them for His future glory?

You may not be able to see it now, but we serve an all knowing God, He knows what is coming down the pipeline.  Perhaps there is someone out there that is walking the same stretch of road you did at one time, and perhaps He has you in mind for the job of walking them through the journey of healing and sowing the seed of hope in their life.

Think God can’t use you?  Think again, God changes the world through people like you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

the lottery

“Oh if I could just win the lottery, it would solve so many problems”, she lamented zeroing out her checkbook once again, the bills were paid, but some were a little late and there was nothing leftover, no extras.

I have to admit I let my mind wander there, then I got into a conversation with God about it, then I bought a lottery ticket, I obviously did not win.

It is an easy trap to fall into, resting on the security of the things of this world rather than resting in the security of Jesus, I am guilty of it myself.  We have 401K’s as security for our future retirement, health insurance for future illnesses, savings accounts for future emergencies.  I am not saying any of those things are bad it is good to plan for the future, but what do you do and where do you go when those things dry up?  

What do you when you are hit with an illness that has maxed out your health insurance benefits, the medical bills have dried up your savings and you are now tapping into your 401K to pay the doctors?

What do you do when a job loss has taken your health insurance, the unemployment has run out, and your savings account is just about empty?

What do you do when you have a child who got mixed up with the wrong crowd and is now hooked on drugs?  You have used every available resource to get them help, your tank is dry and your child has once again relapsed and there is no more money left for another rehab.

The nasty divorce that has dragged on for too many years and has left you depleted in every sense of the word.

Do you wait for that mysterious check to arrive in the mail? Most of us have heard one story or another about stuff like that happening, days away from foreclosure and a check arrives from a long lost relative they never knew about or the letter in the mail that your bill has been paid in full and you are pretty sure that it wasn’t you who paid it, do you buy a lottery ticket?

For the last few days I have been feeling the nudge to share what God has been doing in my life, but it has taken some time process my thoughts.

1.  If you have read any of my previous posts you will know I how much I loved my dog Whitney.  She was a handful, at times headstrong and willful, but I loved her just the same.  My promise was that when it got to the point where she could not enjoy life anymore and that she was just merely trying to get through the days I would let her go, that time came this past December, you can read that here. We had 13 good years together and although I miss her and still love her I don’t regret making that decision, actually in many ways she made the decision for me, she pretty much let me know that she was ready to go.  I felt peace that day, a peace that passes understanding.  Our last days together were good ones, we had a gorgeous summer and we spent many of our days at the neighborhood pond swimming and hiking (well, she would swim) having no idea that soon I would be saying good bye to her. I have often wondered if God cares about those tiny things, I have determined He does. I had a whole summer to say good bye to her, He gave me extra time with her to say good bye, to make our last days together count, and we did.

2.  Have you ever wondered where God is the midst of your turmoil? He is right there with you, and He will let you know it, but so often we are looking for Him to show up on our terms that we totally miss Him showing up altogether, so often what we think we need is not what we need at all.  That is something that He has taught me time and time again as I walk this journey.  The mysterious check did not come in the mail as I was paying the bills and realized I didn’t have enough to cover the expenses, but what He did do is lay it on a persons heart to write a blog post that felt like it were a love letter just for me straight from God, I would receive a phone call or an e-mail from someone just letting me know they were thinking about me, He would lead me to a particular scripture or an overwhelming sense of peace would come over me, He would lead me to a bible study I needed to be in, or just a gentle nudge that He was still with me letting me know it is going to be ok. No I didn’t get what I wanted, He gave me what I needed, and that was Him.

3.  I have been attending the Christian Life and Witness course my church has been hosting by the Billy Graham Association, I need to be there, I am supposed to be there.  Lately I have been feeling the nudge to go deeper, to let go and go deeper, I have gone as far as I can go and now it is time to dig deeper, and when I cried out to Jesus that I didn’t even know what that looked like, along came this class, and a book.  The Christian section of the public library knows me very well and I know it, so as I was perusing the shelves last week I was a little taken aback when I saw a book that did not belong.  In the hundred or so times I have been there I have never seen that book before, but there it was with its orange cover nestled among all the other black ones sticking out just enough to get my attention, Let Go by Sheila Walsh, of course it had go home with me, He told me just that morning to let go. He has given me what I need, to do what He what He wants me to do.

4.  There are so many things this past year that I have done that I would not have been able to do if I had still been working.  There are serving opportunities and bible studies I have had the chance participate in, I have met some great new friends, but I think the most important thing I was craving was time with Him.  My days were often long, more often than not I would say a quick prayer before I left for work in the morning and a quick prayer in my car in the parking garage before I went inside to start my day, but many times I was just too tired to give Him any quality time, I was too tired to take that relationship deeper, He gave me the time. I have realized that God is not nearly as interested in my life as I am.  In other words, He was interested in developing a relationship with me and building my character, I was interested in paycheck.  I have recently made the decision to go back to college, something else I would not have even thought about if I were still working.  I was comfortable, making a good living and even though I felt like I was suffocating I saw no reason to change, so He changed it for me. God is good like that.

I still haven’t gotten to the point of total surrender, of complete and inexplicable faith, I want to, so badly do I want to, but I haven’t gotten there yet.  I worry that the money is going run out before another means of support comes along, I worry about the day coming when I won’t be able to pay the mortgage, I worry about finding a job that will pay me enough to meet my responsibilities. I haven’t gotten to the point of letting go and letting God take care of that.  But I do know that this season is all from Him, it is Him taking me deeper, building that relationship because making me comfortable is not nearly as important to Him as developing my character.  

Father, help me to let go and surrender it all to you today, to not worry about how I am going to get through tomorrow, help get through my life today completely surrendered to You.  In Jesus name I pray.

Monday, May 2, 2011

scooby scramblin

Do you remember in those Scooby Doo cartoons where whenever Scooby Doo saw a ghost he got so scared he went scrambling in three different directions at the same time?  His head in one direction, his arms in another and his legs in yet another, Scooby Doo was so afraid of ghosts that Scooby Doo went scrambling.  

I am not sure how this happened, but when Whitney was still a puppy I think I must have dropped something too close her and it made a really loud banging noise because loud noises to Whitney were like a ghost to Scooby Doo, that dog went running in three different directions at the same time around loud noises, she was a pro at the Scooby scramble.  When she was about two or three years old I started working with her to walk off leash, not that I ever intended to walk her without one, if I would have her out on a walk without a leash and a sudden loud noise spooked her I would have had no control and heavens the thought of where that dog would go Scooby scrambling to in her panic,  my worst fear is that she would bolt into traffic, but I wanted her to learn to obey even when she wasn’t tethered to me, ya know, just in case.  So we practiced and practiced and practiced, oh my did we practice.

She knew that at the pond and in the woods she could roam freely but on the sidewalk she had to stay next to me.  It had been a good long while since we practiced any off leash behavior and this summer I have no idea what I was thinking but we were coming out of the woods after a little hike and some swimming, and as we made our way up to the sidewalk on our way home I forgot to hook her back up to her leash, she must have known this even though I didn’t because she did not leave my side the entire walk home.  I really thought she wasn’t feeling well because usually she would sniff every tree within a 1 mile radius but this time she didn’t, there were hammers pounding, lawn mowers mowing (lawn mowers were a definite dislike for her) trimmers whizzing, all sorts of noises going on and yet she stayed in step with me, we were just a few feet from the driveway when I looked down at the leash in my hand and discovered that it was not attached to her, in a panic I stopped dead in my tracks and that dog stopped and sat down right beside me and looked up at me as if to ask “ok, so uh what are we going to do now”? you would have thought the circus was in town with all the whooping and hollering I was doing, I was so excited that after all the years of not practicing that she still remembered and did what I taught her, you have no idea what a big deal I made out of that, Whitney got a double dose of treats, an extra long brush down and I put some chucks of left over pot roast in her dinner, over and over again I praised her for what a good girl she was. 

Seasons are like training grounds for what is up ahead, and sometimes the training seems to be a little bit like overkill, I get that, you have no idea how much I get that.  Sometimes I wonder what test He is giving me that I am so epically failing at that it is preventing me from moving forward.  He knows where He is sending us and what could happen if He sent us there before He has completed His work, anyone who has ever been in a time like this knows He is quite thorough is His work, there is no stone left unturned when He gets done with you.  A life in Christ is anything but boring, it can be unpredictable and at times unsafe, the road is never wide but narrow, we will encounter storms and trials that will send us Scooby scrambling and sending someone out before they are ready can send them Scooby scrambling straight into traffic rather than where we should go, on our knees before Him, seeking shelter under His wing, firmly planting our feet on the rock of Jesus and that takes practice, lots and lots of practice. 

Proverbs 22:6 tells us to train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.

We may not see right away what God is training us for but if we remain in Him and stay open to His teaching, when the time comes we will know what to do and not turn from it.