Wednesday, August 31, 2011

God and Dog....

How many of you have dogs?  For those of you who don't, or just don't like dogs, you may read this and assume I've lost my mind.  Well, you may be right.  I probably have lost it, but for those of you who do have dogs and actually like them, you will understand and rescue me from the insane asylum that I'll be locked away in.
Does anyone see the similarities of the word DOG and GOD?  If you hold them up to the mirror they would spell GOD and DOG..... get it?  So THAT little bit of craziness got me thinking about how much alike the two are.  Yes, I know, there are TONS of things that make them different.  Maybe I should list a few of those first.   #1- I'm pretty sure God doesn't smell like my dog.  At least I hope not, because it would be a huge bummer in Heaven if God smelled like He rolled in something rancid.
#2- God is wayyyyyy smarter than my dog.  He has to be.  Because my dog can't remember his tail isn't another animal trying to sneak up on him and God, in His spare time was able to create the whole universe.  I'm so THANKFUL that God is infinitely smarter!
#3- Lastly, or at least the last one that pops into my head is that dogs sleep A LOT!  If God slept as much as my dog we would all be in major trouble!  So it's probably safe to say that God probably doesn't sleep.  PHEW! 
NOW, on to why they are so much alike.  
First, let me say that I am NOT trying to be disrespectful.  Not at all.  If you hate dogs (shame on you) then you might suppose that I am.  How wrong you would be.  If you love dogs then you know what I say is the truth. 
#1- Dogs are faithful! No matter how many times we neglect them, they are willing to forgive us and welcome us back into their world. God is so much like that.  Psalm 89:33 says  "but I will not take my  love away from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness".    As humans, we are so unfaithful.  Whether it be in our prayer life and spending time with the Lord, or saying we will do something and not following through.  Thankfully, God isn't like that.  Whatever He says He will do, He will do.
#2- Dogs don't remember much, if anything.  We go away for the day and when we come home it's like we have been gone forever.  The four legged friends are hopping around like they haven't seen us in years.   How much is our God like that?  We walk away and yet when we finally remember to come "home" God is right there hopping up and down, so excited that we have returned.  Luke 15: 11-32 is a perfect example of how ready Christ is to welcome us back.  This passage is the one about the prodigal son coming home, knowing he screwed up and assuming (incorrectly) that his father wouldn't really want him back.  How wrong he was.  The passage tells us his father RAN to him!  How neat is that?  He didn't meander over and say, "what an idiot, I told you it wouldn't work out", NO.  His father RAN to him and wrapped his arms around him and welcomed him home without any condemnation.  That is the perfect example of our Lord!  Whenever we have walked away, or run away, He is ALWAYS there to RUN to us and welcome us home. 
#3- Dogs don't stay angry long and they sure don't hold onto grudges.  They are super forgiving, which is a really nice thing.  Well, guess what?  Yep.  So is GOD.  I am so thankful for God's forgiveness.  I have screwed up in big, HUGE ways sooooo many times that I would be in deep water if God hadn't forgiven me.  I'm sure by now, I would have drowned.  But, nope.  God is so cool that He forgives us and best of all, He doesn't hold our stupidness against us.  Micah 7:18,19 tells us "who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?  You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.  You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea"  also, 1 John 1:9 says "if we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us and purify us from all  unrighteousness"
How awesome.  How completely awesome.  Think about it! We screw up.  That is a given.  It's going to happen no matter how hard we try.  BUT,  if we realize we have sinned, and ask for Him to forgive us, He will.  Simple as that.  People don't always do that, cats don't do that.  But God ALWAYS does that. 
#4  Lastly.  Is that a word?  Odd little word.  Anyway,  the last thing that I can think of is the way dogs just love us.  They look at us with their big dark eyes, so full of love, no matter how ugly, rotten and grumpy we are.  When we have had a bad day, they just snuggle up to us, or quietly put their head next to us to let us know they care.  The God I love and serve is so much like that.   He loves us so unconditionally, and completely.  One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 31:3  " I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness"        Another great verse is:
  Titus 3: 4-5 “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”         
But best of all is John 3:16 which says "for God so loved the world, that He gave us His son.  That who ever believes in Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life"
Did you get that?  I sometimes forget.  But this verse spells it out so clearly.  God loved us SO MUCH.  So much people!  That HE (God) gave us His ONE AND ONLY son.  Not number 5 or 8, but His ONLY one!   All we have to do is believe that Christ died for us because we are sinners and we get to live with Him forever.  Not until he gets sick of us, or wants to trade us in, but FOREVER!  Cool?  I think so. 
So, I just think it's cool that my smelly dog reminds me of how awesome and great my God is.  Maybe it's a silly analogy, and slightly odd, but isn't that just like God to use simple things to remind us that He is in everything? Even our four legged friends.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

arizona, desert disasters and cucumber porcupines

This morning I was thinking about a trip I took one time to Phoenix Arizona by myself.   For those of you who have never been to Arizona or at least the Phoenix area, it is a vast expanse of desert, surrounded by mountains and smack in the middle is a city.  I really have never seen anything like it.  It is absolutely one of the most beautiful, and friendly places I have ever come across.  While I was there, I had some time to myself and decided to take a walk in the desert.  It really wasn't the smartest thing to do actually, but because I rarely think ahead, I took off for a place to park the car and headed out into the sand and cactus.   The desert is a very peaceful place and quite beautiful.  Tiny lizards scurry from cactus to cactus dancing gently on the spines without worry of being impaled.  Only the occasional overhead jet or a voice far in the distance was the only sound.  However,  I really should have not taken my cue from the the silly little lizards on the danger from cactus spines.  As I was walking, I noticed these groups of small ground cactus with individual balls coming off them.  They each had spines on them and they resembled a cucumber crossed with a porcupine also known as a Jumping Chola.  I noticed some of these cucumber porcupine had fallen off some of the plants and so in my head I thought "self, you should pick up these things with spikes and take them home to your family".  Well, see, that is where the two halves of my brain fail to connect.  The first thought should have been for me to keep my hands to myself, and the other thought should have been, why would anyone want to take a tiny porcupine home to her family?  Neither of those thoughts even flashed across my brain. Not even for a second.   Nope.  Instead I reached down to pick up the prickly cucumber and as I did it launched itself at my hand.   The thing had literally come to life.    In an instant it had attached itself to my thumb, sticking it's spikes into the flesh and bone.  Without thinking I flicked my hand as hard as I could, shaking the attacker onto my exposed thigh.  So now, I have thorns and spikes coming from my thumb and also protruding from my thigh.  The pain was intense and knowing I was alone in the desert, I began hobbling back to the car.  Along the way I passed to older men who I am convinced saw my plight and began snickering as soon as I had passed, probably mumbling something like "dumb yankee girl, didn't her mama ever tell her to keep her hands to herself?"   After getting back to my nephew's apartment, I began the arduous task of pulling spikes, built like fishhooks, out of my leg and thumb.   It was one of the most painful things I've ever had happen.  The worst part was that I was still pulling out spikes 6 months later after they had festered and worked themselves to the surface.  Nothing like holding on to vacation memories. 
When I tried to relate it to life, I began to think of how much like my walk with the Lord is like that.   So many times I just take off into the desert by myself without any thought of the dangers and then spend months trying to fix the mess I got myself into.   If I had listened to the holy spirit and not headed off into the unknown without protection or a "guide", I could have saved a lot of heartache.  God's plan for us is for good and not disaster, to give us a future and a hope.   Jeremiah 29:11   God's plan isn't to let us get stuck with thorns in a desert, his best plan isn't to let us keep picking festering thorns out of our thumbs and thigh for 6 months.  His best plan is for us to follow Him.  Let Him guide us.  We just have to be willing to stop and listen. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Motherhood, mayhem and all that jazz.......

Motherhood. It takes you from the highest highs to the lowest lows in a matter of hours and sometimes minutes.  If nothing else, I've learned how much my mom loves me, and how many times I must have broken her heart and  I've learned all of it just by being a mother. However,  I can also say, that there is not one single second that I regret being a mom.  The past three months have been a whirlwind of happiness, stress, sadness and excited expectation.  June brought tears.  LOTS of tears.  The pain I felt in my heart during June was almost more than I could bear.  It was during June that I learned most about what it means most about the depth of love a mother has for her child.  It's not a love that can be explained.  It is a love that is part of you, deep within yourself that is woven into every single cell and neuron.  It is a love that can't be broken no matter how much the selfish heart wants it to be.   July brought stress.  Stress of two family vacations, a wedding being planned and all the other day to day stresses a mother has.  Before I knew it August was upon me and the wedding was fast approaching.  It's bitter sweet to know your son is getting married.  Knowing that forever forward, his heart will belong to another woman.  Someone who didn't give birth to him.  Someone who didn't wake up with him for late night feedings, someone who wasn't there to rub his back when he was sick.  Although it somehow is ok, knowing that the woman he has given his whole heart to is also the woman who has given her heart to him and will be there to make so many more memories and that will make my heart sing.  Watching the light in his eye sparkle with adoration and love when she walked down the isle took every single fear of losing him away.   Any fear I had was replaced with a new sense of hope and excitement for all that they will share in a lifetime. 
I've had a couple people tell me that my kids are so nice, so kind  and well behaved and how do I do it?  It sounds like an  easy answer when I tell them it's God.  I really don't know what else TO say.  It really is as simple as that.  It's not that I didn't have anything at all to do with it.  I guess I did.  It just always freaks me out a bit when I say that out loud though because I wouldn't ever want to come across as conceited or arrogant.  The only way I can take any credit is to give it back to God.  I feel like being a mother has been and is a gift.  It is all I ever wanted to do.  I've had other ambitions, but my first and formost joy and goal in life was to be a mom.  It's not that I haven't had my moments and even days of wanting to run away or find a full time job outside the home, but when it comes right down to it, being a mom is by far the most rewarding job I could have ever had.  I guess the only thing I can think of that I did was to try, and when I say try, I mean just that.  TRY, to instill the fear of God into them.  Not the kind of fear like "oh crap God's going to hate me if I do this" but the kind of fear that they know that God knows what they are doing, even when I don't.   The other thing I hope they learned is that I totally believe the bible verse that says "you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!".  I truly and honestly believe that everyone, most of all my kids, can do ANY that they desire to do AS LONG as they seek God's will.   If someone wants to take out trash all day long, then go for it, if it will be honoring to God.  Maybe that is why I don't get too freaked out when the kids don't want to live right next door or in the same town as me. I know parents that have to have say in every part of their kids lives.  Sometimes it is even under the guise of "they are still under my umbrella of protection".  Well, sorry, but it's time to pack up that umbrella and stick it in the closet because how the heck can they become what God wants THEM to be unless they can test the water themselves?  We can either TRUST God that He knows how to take care of them and that we have done our jobs, or we can keep holding on and never let them figure out who they are or what the Lord has for THEIR lives.  We had our chance, it's time to let our kids have theirs and make a few mistakes once in a while.  Mistakes are ok.  It's what we do with our mistakes that matter.  If we learn from them then great.  If it draws us closer to the Lord then that is even better. 
Now..... do I have it all together?  Nope.  Have I made about a million mistakes as a parent?  Yep!  It really is probably more like a million and two.  So.... how did I end up with great kids?  It's what I've been saying right along.  It's the Lord.  He must love me or something.  And even better,  I know He loves my kids and wants better for them than even I could ask for.