Sandy

puppies sandy jametiene Reskp via unsplashI want to tell you a story. It’s an old one, but I was astonished to discover that I’ve never shared it here before. Last week a friend asked, “Have you ever had a dog?” and it all came back to me…

Our children were small, and our first dog, Springer, was very old. We’d heard that getting a new dog while the old one was still relatively healthy would be good for old and young alike. So, one sunny Saturday morning, we put a new leash, an old water bowl and two very excited kids into our minivan and headed out for a long drive to the pound. The experience was not what we expected.

  • Disappointment number one: most of the dogs available that day were chow mix, and the ASCPA would not allow any family with children to adopt them.
  • Disappointment number two: the adoption process had changed in the decade and a half since we’d gotten Springer. It required extra paperwork, an evaluation process, and a second trip weeks later to pick up the selected puppy. I understood their reasons, but I can still see Tony, standing there forlorn, with leash in hand, asking, “Do you mean we won’t get to take home a puppy today?”
  • Disappointment number three: the only puppies available were going to grow up to be big dogs, very big dogs. (Somehow, this didn’t seem to bother my husband, but this was not our agreed upon plan.)

As disappointments mounted, my enthusiasm waned. Tony, Elizabeth and I were shown to a small cubicle where we could play with the most likely canine candidate while Steve filled out forms. And then, I kid you not, I got dizzy—like “I think I might pass out” dizzy. Steve had to be called to the cubicle so I could step outside for some air.

I sat out on the curb with my head on my knees. As I waited for my head to stop spinning, I prayed that God would intervene. A few minutes later, confident that the risk of passing out was gone, I looked up and saw a most beautiful sight. There in the parking lot, a woman was walking away from her car, carrying a basket of tiny tawny puppies. I stepped into what felt like a God-orchestrated Disney screenplay.

“Excuse me, ma’am, are you about to take those puppies into the pound?”

“What kind are they? How big do you expect them to be?

“Would you mind waiting just a minute?”

“Steve, would you and the children come out here. I’d like to show you something.”

“Would you two kids like to take one of these home with you today, right now?”

“You can reach into the basket and choose the one you want.”

And so, we did. Sandy was perfect—the right size, the right demeanor, just what we needed. She was still with us long after our kids grew up and moved out. She became another living example of God’s grace, of how he cares so very much about even the small “worldly” details of our lives. I’m thankful for Sandy. And I hope her story encouraged you today!

Photo by jametiene Reskp via Unsplash.com

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If God Never Did One More Thing…or Are You Tired of Manna?

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Every time I re-read portions of the Old Testament, I’m astounded by the way the Israelites got caught in this loop:

  1. Cry out for help. (For example, “Let us out of Egypt!”)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like parted seas.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re thirsty!”)

REPEAT:

  1. Cry out for help. (“Give us food!”)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like manna from heaven.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re so sick of eating the same old thing!”)

REPEAT…REPEAT…REPEAT…

But I have grumpy days, don’t you? I feel sorry for myself or evaluate my lot in life and decide it doesn’t measure up to someone else’s. I long for something I don’t have and forget all God has done and all I’ve been given. I’ve seen miraculous provision in my own life, so how am I any different from those Israelites? I’m ashamed to admit that I can get tired of manna too.

I was knocked upside the head by this quote not long ago: “If God never did one more thing for you, you ought to be the happiest person in the world.” (I heard it in a TV sermon, but don’t remember who was preaching.) Oh my, yes! When I step back from my doldrums and recount the miracles in my own life and in those of my loved ones, I quickly realize that any one of those gifts from God should be enough to keep me rejoicing until eternity. How quickly I can forget!

So, today, I want to leave you with this verse, Psalm 42:6, from The Message:

“When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you.”

Has God ever done anything for you? Then, next time you find yourself grumpy or dissatisfied, refresh your memory! I plan to do the same.

‘Love to read your comments here.

Photo from pixabay.com

Wiser Words than Mine

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I keep a list of quotes that strike me as challenging and true. When the list lengthens, it’s time for me to share them with you. Here are my favorites from the past few months, credited wherever possible.

Often the work of the Lord itself may tempt us away from communion with Him. A full schedule of preaching, counseling, and travel can erode the strength of the mightiest servant of the Lord. Public prayer will never make up for closet communion.”

“The Christian should never worry about tomorrow or give sparingly because of a possible future need. Only the present moment is ours to serve the Lord and tomorrow may never come.“–Both by George Muller in The Autobiography of George Muller. Whitaker House, 1985, p. 46 and 207.

“God’s plan isn’t something he just threw together.” –Paul Washer in a sermon entitled “Walking with God” available on sermonaudio.com.

“Sin is a process. You arrive there on a journey of small decisions gone wrong…Satan’s goal through sin isn’t to draw you to himself, but to draw you away from God…Christianity is not about avoiding sin, it’s about chasing after Jesus.” –Matt Werner in a sermon at Bannockburn Baptist Church.

“God’s faithfulness in the past needs to motivate our worship in the future.”–Ty VanHorn in a sermon at NorthWest Bible Church

“Following Jesus is more than just agreeing with the tenets of the gospel, it is living and experiencing God living in you.”

“God calls all of us to be Jesus where we’re at.”

“What you worry about most is what you trust God with least.”

Got a favorite quote you’d like to share with me?

 

 

 

 

The Best Things in Life…

plane chuttersnap @ chuttersnap unsplash

The best things in life are almost never the ones we plan. Maybe that’s because then we can’t even be tempted to take the credit. I’ve been looking through an old journal lately. It’s filled with descriptions of the bumps and surprises of life. If I look closely between the lines, I can see God’s hand in both the ups and the downs.

•           August, 2015: Steve and I headed to Colorado for a mountain retreat. (And to attend the Palisade Peach Festival!) Somehow, Steve’s backpack was left behind on the kitchen floor, its absence discovered far too late for us to go back and retrieve it before our flight. But our discussions were better, our rest deeper, because the stack of papers and the work they represented were replaced by an open ended freedom made possible only by our having forgotten that bag. 

•           During that same trip, I discovered that Elizabeth was sick and at home alone. My mother’s heart yearned to go and care for her. My loving husband made it happen. She recovered quickly. Steve experienced an unexpected but much needed silent retreat and spent hours praying and meditating on God’s plans for our family for the following several years.

•           As we travel, we often wind up at an odd but charming little hotel or “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant because of an inner leading to stop. How we delight in those surprises!

I seem so much better at letting go of my control habit when we are on the road. Perhaps that’s because, away from home, I finally come to terms with how little is within my influence anyway. And when I relinquish control, I become much more consistent in my prayer for God to guide me, a prayer I believe he delights to answer.

Where are you on the control continuum? We can’t be on vacation all the time, but we can travel with a great degree of abandonment on this road of life. Do I mean that all preparation and organization should be thrown to the wind? Heavens, no! But there is a place in my heart where I need to be reminded every day that my loving Lord has things well in hand. My greatest responsibility and desire is to seek his plan each day and to turn my worry into trust and all my anxious moments into times of praise.

Join me! Hand over the reins. I think you will find that adventure awaits.

Click here to comment and to join in the conversation!

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What’s Pulling Your Train?

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The experts say we have to hear something seven times before we really get it. So, here’s a new way to say what I’ve said before: 

When life throws a curveball and doubts begin to erode your joy, it helps to ask ourselves this question: What’s pulling your train? Is it faith, fact, or feeling?

The most common human order is FEELING FIRST! We make our feelings the powerful engine of our emotional train, leaving faith to follow along far behind as the powerless caboose. When that happens, our shifting moods and circumstances crowd out all the good we know to be true.

But God loves us even when the sun isn’t shining! He’s in charge even when the world looks impossibly broken or cruel.

God asks us to reverse the cars on that train. Faith comes first. We trust the God of the universe, the Lord who loves us, based on all he has told us in his Word and all he has revealed to us as we’ve relied on him. Of course, that means we need to learn the facts about him.

Memorization can help. Here’s a good place to start:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Of course, if you’re like me, memorizing Bible verses can be a little tough. Music always helps. So, let me close by asking you to click over to YouTube, where Chris Rice can help you implant that verse and all its promises into your heart and mind.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness sung by Chris Rice

 

Father Knows Best by Beth Smith

 
photo-1526541588356-01de54d1ea1b candy raw pixel @rawpixel via Unsplash.com

John had been out of work for nearly a year, and times were tough. One day, though, he decided to take his little daughter Sarah out for a rare treat—candy from a convenience store. Sarah, being much smaller than her very tall father, began to look with great delight at the brightly colored, cheap candy displayed on the lower shelves, candy was so cheap it didn’t even qualify as a splurge.

John said, “No, Sarah, look up here. There’s the really good candy. You can choose anything, not just what’s down there.” But, sure of what she wanted, Sarah picked some bright red balls of candy. Loving father that he is, John said, “Sarah, those are sour balls, very sour. I know you, and you won’t like them. Look, here’s a Snickers, a Nestle Crunch bar.” But Sarah would have nothing to do with that. She saw only what was right in front of her, at her own eye level. It wasn’t the best she could have, and was nowhere near what her father wanted to give her.

John told me he was disappointed that his desire to give Sarah something special, something big, went unfulfilled. He went on to say that God used the experience to reveal to him that he, John, often made the same mistake that Sarah did. He was making some poor choices because he could see the situation only at his eye level, while his heavenly Father saw the whole picture. Don’t we all do that?

Our Father sees what’s best for us better than we can. We’re limited by our own “short sightedness.”  Unable to see the top shelf, we choose a lollipop over a king sized Snickers bar.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).

Our Father knows what will fulfill us, because he created us. He knows what will really make us happy, better than we know ourselves. We might choose red sourballs because they look good, instead of letting God give us the desires he has created in our hearts. He puts his desires there. Note our part in this scripture:

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:3-4 NIV).

Do we take away God’s joy in giving to us because we want to do it ourselves, our own way?

Trust in 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” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT).

What if, today, Jesus asked us the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” We’re human. We’d say we want a job, healing, the return of a wayward child, a house or maybe a new way of life.

Wait. Stop. Think. Jesus knows our needs. We can tell him what we think we need, but then we ought to tell him, “Whatever you think is best. Your will be done.”

We can let God choose for us only if we trust his love and his wisdom, and believe in his power. If we want God’s best, we must let him choose.

 

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