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.

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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.

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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.