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Nothing There

Okay, so in my first blog “Stray Dog” I pointed out we get strays in abundance. Well, a seed from that abundance has landed again. Which has gleamed insight on walking life out in faith.

Our house is situated a distance off from the road. There is a long, red dirt path lined with trees that leads up to an older, white frame, two story house. Mostly, when people let their dogs go on our street, it’s at the end of our driveway. Filled with anxiety the dogs stay in one location, not even trying to get past the gate that blocks trespassers.

They stay in that area for three days. Believing their former owner will turn back for them. Then reality sinks in, along with the stomach cramps of starvation, and they act on finding food and a place to reside.

img_1545-1Although, this time the story is slightly different.

After three days, the stray dog still had not moved to find her way to the house. It is summer in Texas, with temperatures passing 100 degrees. I grew concerned that the dog would become dehydrated. The images of her never moving from there appeared in my mind. She will starve herself to death waiting on her previous masters. I could not figure out why she would not join us at our home.

Baffled.

When we get out to retrieve the mail or newspaper we talked kind to her. Petted her. Told her to follow us. She would get excited to visit us. Wag her tail. She seemed as if she knew we were for her.

I could not take it anymore I gathered up food and water. Walking to where she was. As my daughter presented her the food, she ate it in record time. Afterwards, she lapped up the water as if she had nothing for days. I felt this would alter her judgment about walking to our house.img_1554-1

Nevertheless, after a couple days she still had not come.

In my heart, I knew if she would move up the driveway to take notice of the house, pond, and the other dogs she would give up that area.

I ended up taking food down there to show her the way to the house with a food trail. I reached my hand out to her, let her sniff the dog food, patted her, and reassured her how good of a dog she was. Laid a handful of food down for her to eat. After she ate, I gently stroked her fur, reminding her I was proud of her. I stepped distances in front of her in the direction towards the house, placing more food down. We continued this for a limited time. Going away from the gate. She would turn her head around, gaze at the gate. Reason about traveling back. Glance at me. Think twice about the food, and continue with what we were carrying out. We advanced half way down our driveway with food still in my hand. I perceived we would reach the house and she would understand how great it was to stay. Instead, half way down, at the curb, she turned around and walked toward the gate.img_1559-2

I guessed it was too soon. Saying, “Tomorrow I will attempt it again.” The following day I tried again. The results were the same. I questioned why she chooses to return to a place that was empty. No food, water, or people to give her love.

On one occasion, I observed underneath her that it was obvious she had puppies. I simply concluded she was a mom wanting her babies. Therefore, she could not give up the chance of returning to them. She had to get back for when the former owners returned.

One time, as I was working on getting her to the house, I watched her keep turning her head looking back. Finally, she gave into her thoughts and walked away from the house and back to the gate. In this picture before me was a display of God extending His love to us, and we decline it to go back to a point that is empty.img_1556-2

God will present a way He desires us to follow. Through the path, what is to come is unclear. All that is in our view is a dirt road and trees. God sees we need encouragement along with some cheerleaders to follow this route. He surrounds us with individuals just loving on us. Cheering us on. Telling us we can do it. Being there when we are at our weakest and fear has taken the greatest of us. People feeding us when we cannot provide for our self. On the trail, we stop. We turn our head and look behind. Then we glance forward. In that split second, we convince our self to return to the past because people and things are waiting on us. If we don’t go back, we will miss them when they show up. Therefore, we walk back to what is familiar, presuming the existence of something is still there. Only to realize, emptiness is all that is waiting for us.

In Ezekiel 20:6 ESV God informs us He will lead us out of the land of Egypt (our former ways not of God), into a land that is beyond what we have experienced.

“On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands.”

He does not just show us this is Ezekiel He assures us in:

Exodus 3:8

Jeremiah 32:22

Deuteronomy 28:1-68

Exodus 3:17

God informs us that this land, that we cannot see, is abundant in love. A lifestyle of richness, not necessary rich as one might imagine with wealth. Instead waking up excited to face the day. When somebody claims something offensive to you, your joy responses in compassion. The most glorious of all the lands. If I dwell in a place where people and the environment bring me down, it indicates it will be greater. If I remain in a place that I come up empty, with the people I hang with or the places I go, the new location will enhance my fullness. A place I remain satisfied and content. Where I hang around people or go places that have me overflowing with goodness.

Reflecting on how this dog prefers returning to a place of emptiness it leads me to pray for God to search me. When I am walking forward in faith but I turn to look back believing there is something there waiting on me. Finding any state of emptiness in me. Asking God to provide the courage to cling to what He has declared. Coming into what God has that is “the most glorious of all lands”, an area beyond my imagination.

Prayer: Dear Lord, when I cannot make out what is ahead and the suffering of where I am speaks louder than your promises. I ask that you quiet the voices of pain and bring in remembrance Your Word, giving me strength like I never have had. So, I can overcome the battle, walking fiercely towards all you have sworn. In Jesus Name, Amen

In the comment section below please share your thoughts. If you are unsure where to start here are questions to help you get going:

  1. Do you have a suggestion for the dog’s name in the picture?
  2. Do you believe God keeps His promises? Is there an area in your life God has promised you one thing but you return to something contrary to what He has said?
  3. Is there an area in your life that you are trying to walk forward but you keep looking back, thinking if you do not stay you will miss out? Explain.

 

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Breaking Out

Breaking Out

Life brings different adventures that await us. One of the hardest parts is to break out of what we are accustomed to and into the path we desire. We can see the experience and the opportunities shining with excitement. The kid in us prefers to reach for it in a blink of an eye. But inside are all those voices of reason that have influenced us while growing up, holding us back.

The butterfly metamorphosis is reference repeatedly in Christianity.  A caterpillar that lives in a cocoon of transformation and afterwards breaks out a beautiful butterfly. The caterpillar representing your past and the butterfly representing your new life. th (7)

In my beginning years of giving my life up to Christ, it was a story I held onto. At times, I thought I would be in the cocoon for the rest of my life.  I was convinced once I burst out of the cocoon the story was over. My beautiful wings would stretch out and I would take off into what God had. However, time has taught me the story of the butterfly is never ending and each event I get a different outlook.

Recently, God put me in a position where it seemed as if I was in a box, a cocoon you could say. At first, I did not understand until He closed doors and there I sat by myself with just me and God. A place where my finances remained at bare minimum. No work. No income except child support. A situation I was not prepared for.

Aware of what was ahead I took the measures needed to go after what the future
required, simply to come up empty. Okay, I got knocked down. I got up,
suggesting God had something else in mind.

I paid impressive money to pursue the job of my dreams. I laid all my fears down to
apply for positions I was qualify for.  Although I did not understand how I would blow
the interviewer out of their chair to declare, “Yes! She is the one.” Only to sit
three months afterwards with nothing but declining letters from companies in my hand.

This taking place during the time of year that is fun and relaxing. Summer. You know when people are on vacations. Family and friends by the pool. Sleepovers and attending late night movies.

th (9)Well, life circumstances have felt like the climate of summer. It has been hot. The only rain falling is what you produce from your eyes, called tears. When all you can look at is dirt, it creates a large amount of uncertainty in you and you grab at different possibilities. You pray, but when the answers don’t come, you answer the prayer yourself. Realizing you took a bunch of risk but nothing came from it. Then you begin the mental process of recollecting your mistakes.

If I had not spent . . . on that idea I would have . .  . more money than I do now.

               If I had managed my time better, I would be 10 more steps ahead of the idea I am working on now.

                If . . . (You fill it in.)

It’s easy to fill in our failures with “ifs” as we tear apart our worth.th (8)

Then you hear that one thing in which can only come from God alone and it reignites you. You take that small flame while carrying your failures and “ifs” and you march toward God stronger than you every have, believing there is more.

Y’all this has been my summer.

What amazes me in the process of what I regard as so awful is it took God to bring me to this point to go after my desires.

A movie that speaks encouragement to continue after my dreams is “Pursuit of Happyness”. The film with Will Smith where he lived in the slums of San Francisco and had nothing. His wife abandoned him because the situation became too much. The situation led him to find determination like he never had. It was at his lowest that caused him to chase after something so many would consider impossible.

Check out the trailer here:

When we watch movies, our emotions get so caught up in the goodness of what is transpiring that our emotions dance a lovely picture. They make us miss the aches and pains it takes to break us out of generational ways of thinking. In those desperate moments when the tears are falling, creating puddles, it can be one of the most beautiful
times in our life. A time of just you and God. Allowing God to tear down the barriers keeping you bound from a place you never imaged to be or do. A point where we give into the fear ceasing and faith arising. Grabbing faith’s hand as we consent to God pulling us up and telling us what to do.

In the comment section below share your thoughts over what your read. Here are some questions to help you get going:

Has fear ever kept you from what you desired? If so how did you overcome?

How do you handle when God has you in a summer season so you do not lose, or give up on, your faith?

Is there something God is calling you to but you remain in a box that you need to break out of? Explain.

 

Listening To God

Life with a Boom!

It is Summer! image3

Time for outside entertainment. Barbecues. Swimming. Hanging with friends. Then right in the center of all the summer fun is July 4. A moment of remembrance for American’s Independence, celebrated with fireworks.

Fireworks where families travel to see a magnificent extravaganza. Fireworks people go buy, putting on their own personal show.

For our family, we do them ourselves. There are two holidays you will find us at the waterfront setting off fireworks. Although, there are years, due to planned activities, we go elsewhere to enjoy them.

image1 (4)This year, with my son away at camp, my daughter and I elected to go to Fair Park in Dallas, to view the fireworks. We had gone several years prior and started remembering the wonderful day we had. As we conversed about the memories, it was the most pleasant experience in our life. Then with concern in my eyes I questioned, “Do you remember the traffic to get out of Fair Park?” My patients could not handle her delay response, “It took us over an hour to get out of the parking lot. As we sat in the same area, in a hot car, filled with gas vapors from other engines, while we were amused by people playing soccer and football.”

After recalling the incident, I was not convinced going to Fair Park was an excellent decision. But my daughter had put on “the look”. You are aware of the look? Where no sounds are heard but the facial expression produces the silent phrases, “Mom this is such a great idea and I would be heartbroken if you broke these plans.” Yeah, so my brain went to work. Trying to figure out how to overcome the obstacle of getting out of Fair Park after the 4th of July firework display.image2 (1)

We considered many solutions, but agreed that we would have a picnic by the lagoon while basking in the evening. We had it thought out. A blanket to sit on. Dinner outside. Card games as we waited. My favorite, observing people around us. Surely, we could get out of the park within reasonable time.

As the evening unfolded, our plans went contrary to what took place. Our picnic turned to eating inside a fast food restaurant. We ended up parking inside Fair Park, opened the rear door of my CRV and watch fireworks from my vehicle.

Yet our plans varied, I was still seeking the strategy to defeat the difficulty of getting out with little wait time.

image2The distances to exit Fair Park was visible from where we were. I parked, so all I had to do was travel straight to the gate with no reverse action. Told my daughter when the Fireworks are over close the doors and we will go as quick as we can to the gate.

We were set.

Fireworks ended and our course of action begin. As I drove through the gates to leave with no traffic, I could hear trumpets going off in my ears.

But there was one issue. I did not realize the street I turned on you could simply go left or right. My intention was to go straight. As I pulled closer to the light I had a choice to make. Right, which would bring me into the Fair Park traffic and was the route towards going home. Or left away from the Fair Park traffic. I picked left. 

Turning left only brought me to the unavoidable traffic. My car claustrophobia set in and my strong will felt crushed. I became aggravated, frustrated, angry, and disappointed in myself. To escape having to sit in traffic, and my struggle within myself, I would turn on a street in which I was convinced was the way to get out. Only to make a full circle and be taken right back to where I was. Eventually I yielded, with my daughter’s aid, and remained in the traffic.

What I preferred to not deal with, I ended up facing… sitting in traffic for over an hour after enjoying the firework display at Fair Park.

When I came upon the freeway to freedom I was so furious at myself. My meditations were induced with negative thoughts about myself. Wendy, if you had turned right instead of left you would not have made circles all over Dallas just to get home. If you would have given further regard to the routes, this would not have occurred. 

With sorrowfulness in my soul we made it home. I was worn out. The reality that it was late was an insignificant percentage to why I was tired. I was mentally broken down and weakened. All I longed for was to lay down and escape.

As I crawled in bed, I picked up my phone to go though mindless post on Facebook. The first post in my feed was about a shooting at McDonald’s by Fair Park. Not only a shooting, but a gang fight. One that created chaos. People running away from the shots being fired and into the street.

Instantly, I took a deep breath and became thankful.

See if I turned right I would have been in the center of that, I know I checked the time. Instead I turned left and believed I made the worse decision in my life. But, it was the best decision, even though it did not look that way as I went through it.

In Psalm 32:8 it reads, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go. I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”

I have been going through the Psalms which states on many occasions about God being with us and having His eye upon us. As I read that post about the shooting and fight I could not push back remembering how God’s eye is upon me. But in my anxiety and uncertainty I mentally take a sword out. Then in my thoughts start negativity cutting at my worth when it does not look as if I heard correctly, yet God clearly said it. In addition, I make every effort to get out of the precise place God permits only for me to end up right back in the place I left.

When listening to God on most occasions it’s like taking a left at the light instead of a right. I do not completely comprehend why He took me the way He did, until after it is all over.

In the comment section below share your thoughts over what your read. Here are some questions to help you get going:

1.)    How do you spend July 4th?

2.)    Have you ever thought you were going the wrong direction in life, or in a situation, to only find out you were exactly where God wanted you to be? Explain.

3.)    During times of uncertainty, or you think you have heard God wrong, how do you respond?

 

Comfort

The Stray Dog

Location can produce many adventures. When you live on a road where the rolling acres are filled up with woods, and ownership is under five, one of the prominent stories you will come across is stray dogs.

Stray dogs are not an unusual word where we live. All breeds types show up in abundance. A considerable number of them are Pit Bulls we scare off because they turn up from sectors that train them to fight. The other ones are various kinds that the owners decided it was time to give up on them.  Occasionally, one steals our heart and we take them in as our very own.

Over, the last twelve months our dog count of five went down to two. My kids itched for a new dog because having too many dogs is all they remember. Secretly, I wanted a new dog as well. We chatted about it. Researched various dogs. But we were not willing to start that commitment.

One day, daydreaming, the thought that we would have a little canine, a toy like dog, came to mind. My response, “NOOOOO!” Not a dog that small.

Then one Sunday after church, as I was pulling into park, I noticed down the driveway a little black and brown thing walking along with its head down.  I got out of my car curious about what was this moving object. As I got near that dream of a dog was within several feet of me becoming actuality. The dog rushed towards me like I was her master. I picked her up, came inside, took a snapshot, and started reaching out seeing who would give a home to this adorable dog. The kids were gone so surely this would proceed smoothly, I was confident of it. But as I sat down with the dog my heart melted and I texted my children an image. One of the biggest mistakes I made. The feedback was automatic on keeping her. As you probably gathered the dog never found a new family after us.

18582593_10209580689375658_688293321217410033_n

In the beginning, thoughts of offering the dog a home was not optional. She took too much of my time. I had to walk her so the gigantic birds flapping around outside did not make her a feast. Although fondness grows with time. The kids fell in love right away. They never had a dog this small. My mom was a little uncertain. My step dad’s masculinity did not desire to acknowledge that he liked the small dog.

However, this summer personal illness has affected our family. It has taken a toll on every one of our emotions. No longer is she a stray that turned up, and we all fell in love with.

The style of our home is an 100-year-old wood farm house built into a duplex. My mom and step dad live on one part and the kids and I live on the other. With illness being cared for apart from home my mom and step dad are not here. My mom comes home once a day for a couple of hours after spending long hours away. When she arrives home this little dog, we named Chika, becomes so excited, she squeaks, and runs over to greet her. When she sees her, she jumps up and down just begging to be picked up for some love. In that instant, my mom gets this huge smile on her face that makes you feel how the dog has lifted her spirit. Chika will remain with my mom while she is home. In those couple of hours, they eat together, lay down to watch TV while dozing, and play. One day my mom told us “this is my dog” as she held her on her shoulder, as we regularly do, even though said she would never do it.

image1 (2)

As I was remembering the joy Chika has contributed to each one of us this summer, I thought about how God is aware of what we need before we do. When Chika came into our world in October, we did not know what was going to take place this summer. We assumed she was just another dog. Instead she has been something that God purpose to comfort us during this painful summer.

God can use the smallest things, like Chika, to help us in our most demanding circumstances. However, frequently the things God uses come package in a way that our first reaction is to reject it because it does not meet our conditions. I am still in astonishment at how great He loves me when God uses a story, such as the one of Chika, to demonstrate His love. Then I realize how often I give up seeing His love because it is not how I believe it would be.

In Zephaniah 3:17 it reads:

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

He is constantly with us. In our most challenging time when we feel like He is not there, He is there. Not only is He there He is rejoicing over us, He will quiet us, and even sing over us. It is in our trying days when this verse seems like a lie and we doubt God’s love for us. But He is there sending comfort in little ways we don’t even consider.

 

In the comment section below please share your thoughts. If you are unsure where to start here are questions to help you get going:

1.) What has been your experience with a stray animal that has come up to your home?

2.) Has God ever tried to use something in your life you rejected at first but later you saw how God used it for what was to come?

3.) When you are in church you rejoice, love on God, and sing loudly to Him. Have you ever considered that what you are doing in church the Creator of the Universe does over  you? Does that change how you see God? Explain.