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! 

 

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?

 

Lesson to Carry Me Through

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Here are the lessons I learned in this season of quiet. I pray they help you.

  • Love is spelled TIME not w-o-r-k. God enjoys time with you. He is able to do the work and your burden will be light when God determines the timing.  However time is the hottest commodity we all have and the one that is dearest to part with. So sometimes it’s easy to get buried in work instead of taking the time to seek what is truly important.
  • You are not called to every aspect of ministry. No one is. That’s why there is a five-fold ministry. People come along beside you who are better than you are in certain areas. You are called to fulfill your passion and calling.  For me that equates to teaching. I enjoy teaching TLC4Women. So I continued to walk in what I know I am called to do. I took my finger out of every other pie and focused on what I am called to do. It was fulfilling and beautiful. It made me happy. It was not a chore. I was never called to stop doing what I do for the Kingdom, I was only called to stop doing what others could do.
  • Prepare those whom you mentor. I said to one, in this next season teach and worship. To another I gathered a team. To another I gave a big portion of my ministry duties that she was better at than I was. Then I prayed for them that they would walk further than I could take them in this season. Which leads me to the next point.
  • When you don’t know where you are going, and you are feeling discouraged, don’t take an entourage. Jesus went off alone sometimes. So often we want to disgruntle a group and take them on our journey but in the end we leave them lost and lonely. This is a huge temptation and test at the same time.
  • Take a day off. I had not truly enjoyed my home because I wasn’t there much. I decorated it but I never sat and just enjoyed it. I set boundaries which allowed me to spend time at home. TD Jakes said it best, “Your crisis doesn’t constitute my emergency.” In other words, not everything is critical in solving today. Emergency visits to the hospital yes. The couple  splitting up for the fifth time no.
  • Get plenty of sleep. You’ll die one day with a to-do list. It can wait.
  • Don’t be so concerned with doing. Be more concerned with being.
  • The shortest distance between two points is a straight line but that only works in math. In life there is no such thing as a straight line no matter how much planning is involved.
  • When you are discouraged it’s best to take it to the Lord or a leader.  My best girl friend in the church knows nothing about the struggle of this year. It was weight I could not put on her without making her walk unsteady.
  • Don’t strike the rock in anger. When criticism came, my first instinct was to lash out, tell my husband, to tell all of my friends, instead for the most part, I let it come.  I say for the most part because I did tell my husband about my pain a few times. Luckily he was smart enough to tell me to suck it up because it comes with the territory.

When the dust settled and Jesus was being crucified there were a few with him. The rest were perplexed that it didn’t happen the way they thought it would. They had their own pain to deal with. The important part was I am happily married, I am enjoying a ministry for God that I LOVE, I have good, healthy, children, family whom I love, friends who are near and above all of that I have faith in One who sustained me. Who believes I am beautiful and who will never leave me nor forsake me. It counts for everything!

Bring on 2016! I am ready to run this race because I have learned it’s a marathon not a sprint. Blessings to you all!

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.

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!

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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Creatures of Habits

My Lulu the wonder dog!

Every night Lulu, the wonder dog, snuggles up for a little while on her blanket at the foot of our bed and then we send her to her kennel. Doug just snaps his fingers and says “kennel” and she jumps off the bed and goes to bed. I do it differently (quit laughing!), I wake her up and say, “C’mon Lu, let’s go nightnight.” She opens one eye, stretches and moves slowly, stops short of her kennel for her kiss on her forehead and the last scratch between her ears and I tell her I love her. Then she goes in her kennel. Last night she and I both fell asleep, and I guess so did Doug, because in the middle of the night she wakes me up. I think she has to go out so I get up and get my robe on. Guess what? She didn’t want to go out at all she wanted to go to bed in her kennel.

We’re all like that. Creatures of habit that enjoy the little things that make us feel comforted like sleeping in our own bed. Rituals that soothe our souls and let us know that no matter how the day went, there will be some semblance of order at some point. Take a little time today to thank God for those things that bring us peace and comfort. It’s the little things in life that sometimes are the most comforting things.