Packing For The Journey Ahead

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This is a picture of bags packed for a recent trip we took. Notice we humans packed quite a bit into these two bags but Lulu the Wonder Dog demonstrated a valuable lesson.  She only packed what was necessary for the journey ahead. She packed her favorite chew toy. That toy goes everywhere with her. She lays it down next to her food bowl while she eats, she takes it outside with her, she takes it to bed with her. That one thing was all that she needed.

Think about this for a minute. ONE THING! 

Matthew 6: 25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?g 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Such is life. We carry around all these bags stuffed with memories, life patterns, and thought processes. Some are to be stored away for safe keeping. Things like lessons learned, rich fulfilling friendships, family adventures. Yet, other memories, life patterns, and thought processes are used to torment our lives and cause anxiety, worry, and fear but we’re afraid to leave them behind because we might need them on the journey.

Lulu showed us this day that you can’t leave everything behind, but taking everything with you becomes too heavy. She could only take what she could reasonably carry to keep up on the journey.

You see, she was going on a journey with her humans. She didn’t have to worry about food because that was their job. She didn’t have to worry about where she would lay her head to sleep because that was their job. She didn’t even have to worry about where she was going, it was an adventure! She was happy to be led. All she needed was her chew toy. Everything else would take care of itself. She had confidence in that. She was living by what she understood. Not everything could go with her and not everything was necessary. She opted to trust her guides.

So where are you going and what are you taking with you? Burdens? Obstacles? Fear? Anxiety? A map? Vision? A Word? A prayer? Anticipation? Are you stuffing bags just in case life fails you? Are you packing just in case God doesn’t come through? Are you packing because you have become a hoarder of insignificant things but maybe lack has made you afraid to get rid of anything? Are you stuffing things in your bags that were necessary a long time ago but that won’t serve you today?

Remember what Lulu is teaching us today:

You can’t leave everything  behind and taking everything with you is too heavy for your journey. Pack well my friends! 

 

Published in: on August 21, 2017 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment  

B.A.T.H

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In our house we don’t say the word bath, we spell it out until we’re ready to do the deed. You see, the word bath invokes a rebellion in Lulu the Wonder Dog. Immediately upon hearing the word she goes and lies in her bed, curls up and closes her eyes. When I go to get her to take her dreaded bath she won’t open her eyes. When I grab her by the collar she becomes deadweight. When we are finally in the tub and giving her a bath her ears are down and she moans loudly refusing to move and making me maneuver to get her all cleaned up. Once out of tub and all scrubbed down and toweled down she runs throughout the house jumping on furniture that she isn’t allowed on and refusing to come near me. I offer her a treat for her misery and she takes it, but isn’t quickly forgiving.

As I bathed her this past week I wondered what God has to spell out in my presence? What am I refusing to do that ultimately is good for me? For Lulu the Wonder Dog bathing means we get all of dirt off, we hopefully avoid things like fleas, and it gives me a chance to check for ticks or anything unusual on her skin, not to mention she smells good again. Yet, the mere mention of the word brings on such a refusal of action. Honestly, this is the only thing she fights me on. It makes me wonder and stop to take inventory of what I have an absolute refusal of?

So what is it? Does the Lord have to spell E-A-T  H-E-A-L-T-H-Y? Does he have to spell E-X-E-R-C-I-S-E? Is it more like, F-O-R-G-I-V-E? C-L-E-A-N-S-E? Or is it deeper still? S-A-B-B-A-T-H? Is it a sentence like, What does the W-O-R-D say about that? What consequence does our refusal hold for us? If Lulu the Wonder Dog understood that her bath does nothing for me and everything for her would she still see it as the worst thing she has to do in life?

Do you want to know the most interesting thing about Lulu The Wonder Dog’s bath? Once she settles her issue, she gets on her dog bed and sleeps in such sound peace, snoring she doesn’t even wake up to shift positions. I don’t know if she’ll ever go willingly or understand that there is a benefit to it, all I can do is continue to do my part and that’s all our Heavenly Father does. He speaks and hopes we’ll understand the benefit.

Think about it. There is a benefit to what the Lord is asking of us. Will we be deadweight or will we rise up and follow?

 

Published in: on May 10, 2017 at 2:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fresh Eyes

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As we put away all of the Christmas decorations and hauled the tree out to the old faithful Dodge Ram I am closing out a old year and ringing in a new one. What will this year have for us? 2014 was pretty good to us. I am expecting 2015 to be even better. I have a few secret desires in my heart for this year but not ones I am willing to share just yet. I hope it’s the same for you.

I am preparing the house for a pastoral luncheon this weekend. Pastors from several churches in our city will meet to celebrate the New Year, pray for one another, and enjoy my husband’s BBQ brisket. It’s always a great time of fellowship and friendship and when we are all together I always take a moment to take a step back and view the body of Christ as it was intended to be. Isn’t it wonderful when we can break bread together knowing that each have a differing view on the method but not the intention? While some of us may speak in tongues and others not we still love Jesus and food! This year will be more about hospitality than perfection.

This year, I plan to do a lot more of that looking at life with fresh eyes business. Rather than nose to the grindstone living I am going to be intentionally taking a step back to take it all in before I miss another moment.  This year I am going to continually remind myself of things that were missed while I was plowing and be more intentional about breaks.

I’m turning 50 this year. I have lived a very blessed life, even in the hardest times, I learned forever lessons that will hold me until the end of my life here on earth and I think I have a genuine gratitude for my life. I have made real friendships, lasting loves, beautiful children, and memories that make me smile. I am married to the most amazing man ever too so that is icing! Somehow though, day to day stuff tries to come in and taints the happiness I have found.

So what does this year hold for you? I pray it’s filled with plenty of good things. I hope that life keeps you busy in serving others and not just yourself. I hope that life brings to you fresh eyes in which to see the beauty of the holiness of a life well lived and not squandered on the minutia that fills a brain and does nothing to fill a heart.

This year I plan to learn from Lulu The Wonder Dog who plays for awhile, takes deep naps, comes and demands attention when needed, is pleased to see everyone anytime, enjoys her food, and takes deep naps, wags her tail vigorously to show her approval, puts her ears down at the things she hates but moves towards it anyhow, takes deep naps, long walks, romps with her friends, never worries about her weight, or whether she took a bath today or not, sighs deeply, shares always, and loves wholeheartedly. I think she has in her seven short years of life learned what it took me 49 years to learn. So maybe this post should be titled, I’m not smarter than my dog.

Swimming In Perspective

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Perspective – noun – a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

This year our vacation took us to Honduras. I have traveled to many countries and I have seen poverty but it never ceases to smack me in the face. It was especially striking this time. I expected Honduras to be like Mexico. It wasn’t. It was much worse. I didn’t bother to look up facts before I went there, I like to go with an open mind and not a preconceived notion of what to expect. The GDP of Honduras is about 18 billion. the GDP of Mexico is over a trillion. That’s a huge difference.

I live in a small town who just experienced its first homicide of the year while I was gone, and I don’t diminish that whatsoever, but it’s important to mention it to show where I live versus where I visited. Honduras had cars filled with bullet holes driving down the road, children unattended everywhere, people lingering in the street. We hired a driver to show us around. He was excited to tell us that he was married with two children, 3 years and a 5 month old. He was happy to be working and he said that tourism brought him a job for half of the year. That afforded them to rent a small home and if they were very careful with their money, they could live there all year. If not, they had a home for six to seven months. It’s important to note that their homes were not what we call homes here. The area we visited brings many tourist as it has great diving and snorkeling because of a beautiful barrier reef. We had been on a private island just the day before enjoying the sights of the reef. Our driver told us that many Americans live there. I asked what they did for work. He said they own businesses that cater to the tourist who come to dive or they are divers who are retired. There are big condominiums going up and when I asked about it he said the Italians were coming in and building time shares. This had brought jobs to those who can do construction. Drops in a bucket but drops are better than drought.

I asked about missionaries and churches. He said the Mormons are there and the Evangelicals most people are Catholic. There was a group of doctors who have opened a clinic and they treat people for things their local hospital can’t take care of. Their hospital wouldn’t even be considered an urgent care center here in the U.S..

Upon coming home I wanted to make a Mexican dinner so I ran to the Mexican market in town. On my drive I remembered I had given all of my cash to my husband. Lulu the Wonder Dog was with me and I said, “Lulu, I have no cash. I hope I have my bank card.” I was met by a homeless man who asked me for change or food. I said, I would bring him food since I didn’t have cash. I ordered a super steak burrito at the counter. As I waited I thought, who buys food for the Honduran homeless? If no one has money then who buys food? I grabbed the burrito, walked over to the cold drinks and bought a large water, grabbed the few things I needed and got in line at the checkout. Two checkers. One lane had a cart full, one lane had six things. I got in the six item lane. Yes, you guessed it, the person had WIC coupons. I thought, the mom in Honduras doesn’t have WIC. The mom in Honduras probably doesn’t have a hospital. I wonder if this woman knows she is blessed?

I paid for my things, went to the homeless man and gave him the burrito and water. Behind me a woman brought him groceries. I got in my car and before I drove off I thanked God for provision. I thanked Him for open eyes. We throw words around casually, “I’m starving”, when we haven’t eaten in a few hours, “I’m broke”, when we’ve spent our money, “I have no cash”, when we have a bank card.  It’s a matter of perspective. Tonight I am examining my thoughts and words carefully. I’m grateful but I want to also be aware. Fully present and fully aware. Lord, help me.

Published in: on December 22, 2014 at 8:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Watered

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This morning I woke up to doves calling on the rooftop of our home. The wind was blowing, the sun was coming up. I opened my eyes and could hear Lulu the Wonder Dog snoring on her bed, my husband was snuggled up in our blue comforter, his hand gently on my arm. The great part about this man of mine is he always needs to know I am there even if it’s just his foot touching mine. I lied still and said “Thank you Jesus”. In this brief moment before treadmills and agendas and meals and real life I am watered in the beauty of the life we have built, in the garden of our Creator. I wake up slowly, grab my gear and head downstairs to start coffee, start a load of laundry and get on the treadmill. If this were the sum of the good in my life, I am blessed.

I have lived in this little town for 20 years now. I have deep friendships, favorite places to go, neighbors whose names I know, clerks at the grocery store whom I know by name. I am part of this community. The community however didn’t come out to embrace me, I had to embrace my community.

Yes, we don’t have a lot of services that many bigger cities have. Yes, we are in the poorest county of California. Yes, we have a huge disparity between the haves and the have nots but what are those things to someone who can make a difference? I have a choice to make each day. I can choose to move forward and make a difference, or shut my curtains and complain. Face it, even in this town, we suffer in luxury. I can choose to water, or I can drink it all and not share it. My choice.

I remember when I first moved here. I loved the amount of house I could afford on my salary. Yes, there would be an almost 2 hour commute one way but what did that matter? I was going to own a home. The reality of that quickly set in but we muddled through and our neighbors helped. In no time I had people who I could count on to help in a pinch.

My children were raised here and they are people of good character. They have been shaped by a community who took care of their children. I heard a story a friend told recently about how the bus driver would tell her parents when she didn’t get on the bus for school, after her parents had sent her to school. These are things we can count on when we live in close proximity. Yes, sometimes that ‘everybody knows everything’ attitude can be annoying but it can save lives as well. Small town living is not for everyone. Some people complain daily about their plight.

My husband tells a story of an old dog on a porch howling in pain. A man walks up to the dog and says, “Why are you howling? How can I help you?” The dog says, “I’m sitting on a nail and it’s stabbing my side.” The man says, “Why don’t you get up and move?” The dog answers, “It’s easier to sit here and howl.”

I live in a small town with many people who enjoy living here. I am well watered in this field. If I didn’t like living here I would move. I am not a victim. No one twisted my arm to live here. I am not a tree and I can move if I’m unhappy.

Published in: on June 17, 2014 at 4:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Despite It All

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Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.

I read a post on Facebook recently how happy posts were fake because people chose to post that their lives were good despite the fact that they had real problems. It made me think about how you can still be happy and positive despite difficulties, or you can judge others in your unhappiness. Not everything in life has to be a major catastrophe to your well-being.

I am in a really happy place right now. I’m sure my life, speech, and yes, Facebook posts show that. It took me a long time to get here and I am relishing in it. I was a pregnant teen who raised children to the age of 48. I had never had an adult life where it was just me. I had never written out a monthly budget that didn’t include children’s lunch or field trip money, a college fund savings, or a extensive food budget. I can leave home on a moment’s notice and not worry about babysitters or dinner. I can clean my kitchen spotless and know when I get up in the morning it’s going to be exactly how I left it. I can turn the music on as loud as I want to and dance without fear of someone saying, “Mom! Stop! It’s so embarrassing when you act like a kid.” I can buy tickets to a concert or a play and not worry about what is being taken out of the budget.

I have a man who loves me beyond measure and is close by my side. We like the same things and we very rarely even argue these days. It’s a peaceful season in our life. My job is going well. I have a lot to do but I’m no longer so driven towards it. I am enjoying the work that I do at a new level. I have a dog that I think is incredible, she is pure love and she is a total spas, who I think has the Young’s A.D.D. problem.

Do I have problems? OF COURSE I DO!! Everyone does. My problems big and small have always been there, not the same ones but isn’t there always something? I’d be lying if I said I don’t sometimes miss being a mommy. Sure, I like the freedom, but there are those days I want to watch Sleeping Beauty with the Princess Casey. The great thing is my age and life experiences have put them in perspective. They no longer rule my every thought. I’ve learned to be content. If you want to learn to be happy, click here for an article I found profoundly useful.

Here’s the problem with judging the heart of someone and determining their motives; you aren’t always right. A person can be happy in the midst of pain. A person can be upbeat even in the midst of chaos. Happiness is a choice. Be depressed, angry, resentful, or petty, if you choose to be, but don’t expect that everyone else will be. It’s entirely up to you. As for me, I’m going to live out this last little bit of life in happiness, I’m going to let go and plunge into the deep things of life and experience freedom, despite it all.

$2 A day

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Over three billion people — more than half the world population as of 2010 — live on less than $2.50 US Dollars (USD) a day. More than 80% of the population lives on less than $10 USD per day. To put that in perspective, the average American spends about $7 USD a day on entertainment alone, and more than twice that on transportation.~visualeconomics.com

I’ve had workmen in my home for two weeks now. My kitchen is completely torn down. Did you ever realize how much gunk goes down the side of your stove? Okay, it’s not really the topic today but I’ll post about that later.

Back to the thought process. Each morning on my way to work I walk downstairs and say good morning to the workers. This particular morning Doug had left earlier than I had and he asked how he could bless me. I replied that he could get back before I left for work and bring me a Starbucks. Actually what I said was, “I’ll love you forever if you bring me a tea from Starbucks before I leave.” Well he did. I kiss him goodbye and I walk downstairs that morning with a purse, a computer, and a Starbucks in my hand.

“Good Morning!”, I call out. One of the workmen said, “You’re always so happy Pastora. Every time I see you, you’re always in a good mood.” I really was in a great mood, because how could I not be, and I said, “What’s not to be happy about? We are blessed.” We said our goodbyes and I left.

I put my computer bag in the back seat of my car, put my purse in the passenger seat and was about to put my Starbucks in the cup holder and I paused.

“What’s not to be happy about? We are blessed.”

My tea costs $4.10.

I spent more on tea in one morning before 9 am than half the world makes in a day and a half. What do I have to complain about?

Do you ever just put your life in perspective? It’s hard to be depressed when you view your life through the lens of the average world citizen. Watching Storage Wars on television I saw where we have enough storage units in the USA to house every single person on the planet. Do you realize our storage units house our leftovers? Yes, we’re in a recession and things are looking bleak but when we look at it from a lens of gratitude we are abundantly blessed.

No matter your circumstances today, take a little time to count your blessings. You’re probably reading this blog post on a Internet connection that is costing about $1.00 a day. Would you have Internet if it costs half a day’s wage? Face it, we have it pretty sweet.

Published in: on August 7, 2013 at 4:16 pm  Comments (1)  

Lulu The Wonder Dog

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This is Lulu the Wonder Dog! What makes her so wonderful? Let me count the ways!

She is thrilled to see me every time I walk through the door.

She sticks by my side whether I have something to offer or not.

She loves to go to the office and sleep under my desk.

She loves to snuggle and watch a movie.

She really is the most verbal dog I have ever had.

She is trained and more obedient than any of my children.

She sighs as I do my chores and jumps on the couch and naps and waits patiently for me to finish.

She demands attention when I get distracted. She is known for taking my hands off of the computer with the prodding of her head. She also puts a paw on the computer and gets in my face when she needs attention.

She loves Starbucks as much as I do!

Lulu came to me at a transitional time in my life. She was at a critical time in her life. Near death, I bottled fed her, gave her IV’s, and nursed her back to health. She nursed my soul as I came back to life. She asked no tough questions, she simply gazed into my eyes with understanding. I named her after my daughter Casey who when she was little decided she wanted to be called Lulu. Casey was transitioning into adult life after college and I was having a rough time of it. I needed a reminder of a time.

She was the bridge with our family and reconnected us through her love and her persistence. She was the steady constant one, reminding me that she needed me to look outside of myself to her service. She wasn’t perfect. She ate my favorite pair of heels as a puppy. Had no shame either. She sat on my bed with said shoe in her mouth and chowed down. That’s when I learned to close my closet door.

Now she’s all grown up and still the most active dog I’ve ever had. She never stops. She also is the biggest tattletale I’ve ever seen. She’ll wake me up at 2 am just to get me to come and see that my husband is downstairs making queso dip and watching the military channel and he isn’t sharing. She was great at pointing out the kids weren’t following the no food in their rooms rule because she would discover the stashes of empty cereal bowls.

In this picture we’re driving to deliver a meal to a friend. You can see her smiling. She loves people. In our human understanding we say she is a rescue dog. A puppy from the pound. In her heart she doesn’t see it that way. She rescued us and keeps us all together and happy. That’s what makes her a wonder dog!

Published in: on July 31, 2013 at 8:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Creating Sacred Space

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Hebrews 13:4 Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband.

I am a firm believer in a marriage bed. I believe it is sacred space. I am not a big fan of a family bed because I believe that it erodes a small piece of intimacy between a husband and a wife. That being said, I let a little something come between my husband and I. I began to let Lulu the wonder dog, snuggle in our bed before she had to go to her crate. My husband quickly referred to her as “the space between”. I had violated my own rule!

In most homes there is a living space, a dining space, a kitchen, a bathroom, and then there are bedrooms. Can there be one space where a man and a woman find a place of romance, beauty, intimacy and oneness? You share you life with so many in those places that creating a sacred space for just two people seems like a small thing to ask.

With that said, over the next little while in my life, I’m going to spend some time redoing our sacred space. I love our bedding, but I had put our “good stuff” away because I didn’t want Lulu to mess it up. We’re taking back our sacred space! I simply allowed her to jump on the bed and lie at our feet, but she’ll adapt, and we’ll go back to that space being for the two of us.

Published in: on July 15, 2013 at 8:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Lulu Turns 5

This is a blog from 5 years ago. It tells Lulu’s story of how she came to be our puppy. Lulu is turning 5 in just a few days, I love her more today than I did when she first came home! So please indulge me in my reminiscing!

January 7, 2008 -About 3 p.m. today (yesterday for you reading this) animal control called me. Some idiot left a litter of five puppies abandoned at the shelter. These little guys are about 1 maybe 1.5 weeks old, not old enough to be without their mom. The shelter couldn’t keep them as they needed to be kept warm and bottle-fed, and they aren’t set up for that, so they called me to see if I would be their foster mom. I asked PD because he’s not really cool on these ideas of mine. He said ask the kids and I knew then it was on!

So Lauren and I went to go and pick them up. PD should never send the two of us to the pound. We want to adopt all of them. We almost got one but she was a female and we knew that was a bad mix with Greta in the house, we were already pushing it with the puppies.

Sometimes I am ashamed of my species. I mean honestly, we are in the middle of a storm here in California, and some jerk abandons helpless animals. They were shaking and extremely dehydrated when I got them. We quickly got formula, warm blankets and a heating disc and we fed them, burped them, stimulated them and put them down for a nap. We’ll have to feed them this way every couple of hours. Yes, it’s going to be a pain but the alternative is not giving a living thing a chance at a life. I am just praying they make it.

Why don’t people spay and neuter their animals? They do it for free for God’s sake! Why would you choose today of all days to dump them? Why not just cowboy up and take them when the shelter is open? It really makes me mad. I mean be honest the reason why your dog got pregnant is because you are irresponsible.

On the other hand, the kids and I were sitting there with baby bottles feeding hungry little puppies, kissing them, and smiling at new life. Right now the kids are fighting to be the “one” who gets to feed them but we’ll see if in a few days the newness of it all doesn’t get really old.

For now, I am going to take a nap and get ready for my turn at feeding. Now we all have to pray then get adopted into good homes and live long happy healthy lives. Oh, by the way, Greta is NOT happy. She is the MAIN dog around here and she wants them gone!

Here is a couple of pictures to melt your heart. They aren’t great quality, as they were taken with my cell phone.

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Published in: on December 8, 2012 at 11:27 pm  Leave a Comment