Archive for Life Stories
Before I get started, I’d like to extend an apology to those of you who have been faithful readers and listeners of the blog and podcast. The last few months have been busy, overwhelming, and desperately needy of some quiet time alone with God. He’s been preparing me to share more with you here on the blog.
2 Corinthians 8:10-11a
It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it.
Upon reading this two weeks ago, I was struck with it like bricks. I’ve rarely had such a profound experience where the Lord just presented me with scripture that is so convicting and pertinent to my situation. I was lamenting about going back to work, overwhelmed with the stress of my job. It was hard not to consider the scariness of budget cuts, and I was almost at a point of quitting. I figured what better way to avoid this toil!
And then I read these verses. Now, I know that the context of the scripture is referring to giving, but I felt strongly about the parallels to circumstances in my own life. Just one year ago I was faced with a job that was literally destroying me. I was sick all of the time. I was tired. My spiritual growth had gone stagnant. I had suicidal thoughts. And though I don’t think I would have acted on them, I was sure scared out of my mind at the mere notion of what I could do driving along the highway to work in the dark each morning, in the rain and snow and facing semis barreling down at me in the opposite direction.
It was at this time that I firmly intended to listen to God, and search for a new position. I was afraid, yet I was at peace with the decision I had made. I began to desire something better for myself and my spiritual growth.
And I haven’t been sick since.
As I felt these familiar thoughts creeping back lately, I needed this reassurance from scripture. I thought back to a year ago and what was happening, and what God has worked in my life since that time. WOW! And when I read the last part there “and now you must complete the doing of it” I was convicted that I need to stop complaining, focus, and rely on Christ who has brought me to this place. I have work that I must finish.
Now I want you to read these words and think back to a year ago. What had God started in your life? What were you desiring and wanting to do? Are you prepared to complete the work set before you?
God has been really working on my heart this last month when it comes to being gracious. Certain family situations have changed causing there to be some, well…. let’s just say awkward situations. I think I can leave the explanation at that and still make my point.
When you are dealing with family members (or even friends, coworkers) that you don’t particularly get along with for whatever reason – you are faced with some very big challenges. I think lately I have been quick to judge in these awkward situations. It’s easy to do that when you feel you are being judged. It seems a part of human nature to find points of contention and use them as a barrier between us.
A really dear friend of mine – a woman who is very strong in the Lord – told me a while back that I should take this situation as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to be gracious. It’s a chance for me to extend my hand – to be welcoming, inviting, encouraging. She reminded me that I didn’t know the whole story of where this person was coming from. And if I took the time to be an ambassador to my family, I might gain a great friend. I might defeat the judgment coming from the other side, and I’d be acting in a very Godly manner. I could be the one to change this person’s position on certain issues of disagreement.
Why is it that I don’t listen to the advice of my wise friends?
Well, I do listen. Sort of. I HAVE been trying to make an effort. But I find myself having a negative attitude when I am home in the confidence of my husband. I can be very critical. And that’s NOT an appealing attitude for a Godly woman to have. So I’m trying very hard to make a conscious effort to be the ambassador for Christ I should be – and I’m working on the attitude in the privacy of my home. I’m working on changing this attitude within me so that being gracious is not a chore – something that I do because I feel I have to. But rather I want to be warm, welcoming, and accepting and not have it be forced. I can do this easily with the people I love, and even to people I don’t even know – so I should be able to get past this bone of contention and act the same way.
I think it really comes down to humbling myself. I may have more experience and more knowledge than this person. But I’m not any better. And God did not call me to be best friends with all, but I surely do need to show love…
Maybe this is something you are struggling with? Maybe you may face this in the future. If you have any thoughts, please feel free to share. I could really use some encouragement when it comes this this situation.
I was reading through my journal from 2006, and found this entry which I thought appropriate to share with you.
The Lord just saved my family and me. I was lying here in bed waiting to fall asleep – but I had a sort of stomach ache. I thought maybe it was about closing on the house tomorrow, but then I started thinking about leaving my computer on downstairs. So the Lord prompted me to get up and sign offline. Well, I did that, and while I was down there, I started to smell a pungent odor. I immediately thought my computer was burning out, so I shut it down and unplugged everything. I came back upstairs but still wasn’t satisfied. Something was still bothering me. Going back downstairs, I smelled the odor even more strongly than before.
I decided should check with Dad even though he was asleep and it was near midnight. He came down and checked computer, but didn’t think anything was wrong with it. He could smell the odor too, and so he went searching. After going to the back room of the basement, he found the sump pump was broken. I think it kept trying to kick on, but it would work and so the motor was burning up, causing the smell.
If God had not prompted me to go down and deal with the computer the thing could have caused a fire. I am sure that could have happened. Either that, or we might have become sick from the fumes. And God woke me up to warn me. WOW! I am so worked up about this. I want to go and tell everyone about it. I really do believe God gives us signs and speaks to us. All glory and praise and thanks are due to Jesus the Lord who protects his children. AMEN!
Perhaps my entry is a little over-emotional when it comes to this situation. I’m not sure it would have cause a fire. BUT, I don’t know for sure. And I do trust that God protected us from some sort of harm. Take it from me, that listening to God is a good thing. When you feel prompted to do something that seems inconsequential – don’t underestimate what God may be doing!
I gave my dog a bath this weekend. OH HOW PAINFUL! I mean this quite literally. My dog fights me tooth and nail on having a bath. And I finally understand the real meaning of that figure of speech. My dog gouged me with his nails and only refrained from biting because he does know better.
When I think about the fight Landon puts up when he’s being washed, I think of how some of us can be so resistant to the cleansing power of God in our lives. We can be cleansed by the washing of the water of the Word, and too often Christians fight it. We kick, scream, scratch, and sometimes bite as we fight against God. My dog does well to remind me how we can scream – his cries are so terrible you’d think someone was actually hurting him. I’m afraid my neighbors may one day hear and actually think I am hurting him. Please be assured that I do no such thing! BUT don’t we cry like this some times? Don’t we yell at God for the “pain” he inflicts on us?
I want to encourages you, readers, that God does not do anything to hurt us. His ways and His Word are the way we are refined and cleaned for His Glory! Trust that this is true, and see what a difference what it makes. My dog’s post-bath antics are assurance for me. After that “torture” and all of the scratching and screaming, who is the one cavorting around, tail wagging, joy coursing through his little body? He is evidence that God’s washing is a healing process that will truly make us joyful!
Oh, Landon. Thank you for your lessons. God has greatly blessed me with the teachings of your little life!
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. Eph. 5:25-27
How many of you have a pen-pal? No, not an online buddy you IM or chat with instantaneously. I’m talking about a good old-fashioned, hand-written letter-writing pen-friend. (That was a lot of hyphenation!)
I have had many pen-pals over the years. For me it started in elementary school with Sara from Leander, TX. That was back in 5th grade, and I was instantly hooked to learning about people from other places.
Then there was
Sanna from Finland
Natasha from S. Africa
Dima from the Ukraine
Sylvia from Poland
Inga from Latvia
Ligia from Romania
Amy from Alberta, CAN
Sana from Virginia
Krzysztof from Poland
Magdalena from Poland…
And finally, my dear friend Natalia from Poland whom I’ve have written to for the last 8 years or so. We started writing in college when I found her name through a Polish-American heritage organization. She was studying International Studies, English and Spanish. I was studying International Studies, Polish and Spanish. It seemed like a perfect fit. Almost a decade later we still write and share our lives with each other through snail mail. It is such a joy to find a letter postmarked from Poland arrive in my mail box every couple of months or so!
Letter writing has its virtues, at least in my humble opinion, and I’d like to share them with you. (It seems as though my posts of late are focusing on simplicity and I feel as though God has been trying to impress this lesson on me!)
First, letter writing provides practice in penmanship! Go ahead – laugh! But it does. The art of fine penmanship is waning in our digital world. And even though I consider myself one of those people “born digital” I have a deep appreciation for what was. Think of all the men who were scribes and recorded the words of our Lord. Penmanship is still a virtue in my book!
The next virtue is metalinguistic awareness. You’re probably thinking, “WHAT?!” Metalinguistic awareness is the knowledge and understanding of your own use of language. Writing to another person – especially someone whose first language is not English focuses you to think about your language. I consider myself to be a thoughtful person when it comes to my words. I choose them carefully, and I try to use language accurately and precisely. It is a virtue that comes in handy as we are called to speak and share the Gospel!
Cultural awareness and empathy grow out of writing to others who live and experience life in very different ways from our own. I think it makes us more sensitive to the needs of others, and we become more effective witnesses when we have an understanding of this. Americans are spoiled and we often take our wealth for granted. It is a real eye-opener to correspond with people from around the world. Furthermore, I believe that letter-writing is a personal and intimate way of getting to know someone. Think of all the letters the Apostle Paul wrote. He was a master at this form of communication and it helped him to forge and foster relationships…
Lastly, and maybe most important in my mind is the virtue of patience. Old-fashioned letter writing develops in us a sense of patience. Too many people today crave instant gratification. Sending a letter via snail mail will not provide you with immediate feed back. You must have patience and consideration. It takes time, but time and absence make the heart grow fonder. I have spent years and years waiting for letters to arrive – and the joy that I experience when a letter arrives… well, that’s the kind of excitement I imagine we’ll have as we finally see the Lord after patiently waiting for his return.
So, consider who you might write to, and send an old-fashioned letter. Wait for a response and relish in the experience of that letter finally arriving!
But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Rom 8:25
I have come to the realization that I have a very difficult time with extraneous noise. I don’t know what it is, but I have a low tolerance for unnaturally high-pitched, repetitive noise. Tonight I was hyper-aware of the buzzing of those curly-cue fluorescent light bulbs in the dining room. That, coupled with the overbearing tick-tock of the clock was about to drive me mad. And I am quite literal when I say this. I felt as if I were on the verge of insanity. (This is not a good reaction…and quite frankly it disturbs me.)
Sitting here in bed, writing, I am thinking of the smell of my husband’s attempt at cooking this evening. That too distracted me from my work. I was almost to the point of collecting all of my things and leaving the house at 7pm in order to get something accomplished. Again, this is not something I am ok with.
Am I overreacting? Quite possibly – but I am at the point where I cannot tolerate the extra sensory stimulation. I need silence. I need a pitch-black room for sleeping. I need stillness. I need a smell-free environment. At times I even find it unbearable to be touched (this is nothing new – growing up as a child I had a bubble of personal space that could not be entered into by others…). I won’t wear itchy sweaters. I’ll cut that tag off if it rubs me the wrong way. And forget about damp clothing…
Are other women like this? Do any of you experience this aversion to too much sensory provocation? I wonder why I am like this? Is it a lack of discipline in dealing with my surroundings? Is there something wrong with me? Or am I simply allowing Satan to use my weaknesses to attack me? Is it a combination?
After contemplating this for a while, I’ve come to a few conclusions – lessons to be learned and shared with you all if you care to listen.
1. I’m too busy. My mind is overworked and underfed spiritually. It’s weak and susceptible to attack with simple things that I can choose to filter and ignore (but can’t) because I’m not spending enough time in prayer and communion with my Lord.
2. I need to have more self-control and discipline. This again stems from time spent with the Lord in prayer and the Word.
3. God did not design us to function with the fast-paced, over-stimulated lives we live today. We have to be diligent and purposeful when it comes to taking care of our bodies and minds.
4. Satan can and will use any means he can to draw us away from God.
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, for trouble comes. Job 3:26
He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. Psa 107:29
Last month was Homecoming at my Alma Mater, Roberts Wesleyan College. Reunions coincide with homecoming, and this was the year of my 5-year reunion. I didn’t see anyone I recognized from my days at Roberts. I did, however, see one special lady I knew from my high school days – a woman I featured HERE in my list of True Woman who have helped me grow in my faith over the years!
It was so good to see Mrs. Radel. She saw me an instantly recognized me, and I can’t remember such a powerful embrace in quite a long time. I was so happy to see her, and she said something to me that stuck with me… “Sometime soon we’re going to connect again.” It’s not that cataclysmic of a statement, but it got me thinking about how wonderful it was to have a real woman of faith as a role model in my life. I was touched by her words, and I hope that they are true; that we will reconnect again now that I am an adult… In a way, seeing her was a great homecoming, because it really focused me back on home and the things that were important to me growing up in high school and college.
I suppose that is what homecomings are all about – bringing you back into focus, and reconnecting with the things and people you once held dear. Sometimes as life goes on and we get caught up in the busyness of life. We forget where we started and the people that shaped us into who we are today. In my case, my high school and college years were very formative in my Christian faith. It was in high school where I first gave my life to Christ, and it was going to Roberts Wesleyan – a faith-based college that helped me grow my new faith.
I would like to take a minute and publicly thank Roberts Wesleyan College, a Christian liberal arts college founded in the Free Methodist tradition. It is nestled in quaint North Chili, NY and for all my years driving past the campus as a child, I would have never imagined the impact the people of this place would have had on my life. I am truly grateful for the classes started with prayer, the insight and dedication of Christian professors and professionals, a focus on developing our character. CHAPEL (3 times a week to refuel spiritually – what a wonderful opportunity). There is so much to be thankful for.
I know that there are often many differing opinions on attending Christian colleges – and just as anywhere else you will find students with varying degrees of appreciation for and dedication to the principles esteemed by the college itself. I know that for me, as a new Christian, my 2.5 years at Roberts were hugely important, and I would highly recommend it to others if that type of school was what they were looking for.
I came home from a party the other evening to find the garbage from the bedroom strewn about the house. You guessed it – Landon was at work! Yet he was nowhere to be found when we go home. There wasn’t the usual tail-wagging greeting at the door. I eventually found him cowering in his crate, ears laid back with that deer-in-the-headlight look in his eyes pleading, “please have mercy one me.” (A familiar cry of my own heart that I readily relate to…)
My dog knows what’s right and wrong for him to do, yet when our backs are turned he attempts the forbidden. Eating garbage and sleeping on the sofa. We’ve caught him on more than one occasion, and when he’s caught, right away he knows it. I’m sure his tail would be between in legs if it were long enough…
Landon knows when something is wrong, yet he is sometimes unable to help himself. And that’s just like us. There are times when we are seduced by sin, and if you’re anything like me, there have been times when you just couldn’t help yourself. When it seems like no one is watching we get sucked into that temptation, strewing the garbage on the floor behind us. We know its wrong… and when we get caught or convicted by the Holy Spirit, down go our ears, there’s fear in our eyes, and our tails…well, you the picture.
Despite all of this, consider how God deals with us. He’s reprimanded me. I’ve felt that conviction. I’ve faced the consequences, and every time God has been merciful. Some strong, stern words are needed (the Bible provides that) and the loving hand of God guides me back to right relationship. This same response is what I believe is best for dealing with my own dog. If God has been so merciful to me, I have no other option but to return that gesture to others including the little creature we have charge over.
The next time your furry little friend indulges in “sin” think about how we’re just like him in our fallen nature. Then, stop to consider reflecting God’s grace and mercy as he does unto us.
Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion Everyone to his brother. Zec 7:9
When writing blog posts I often consult my husband. I like to gauge his reaction, and I get a sense about how good (or not so good) the entry will be. When I last wrote about my dog, it was about the lesson I learned about God through trimming my dog’s nails. I consulted my husband, and his reaction was overwhelmingly positive. He even mentioned that he’d thought similarly about the dog and his potential to teach us about ourselves as children of Christ.
So, I decided to write another Lessons from my Dog.
During the school year, my husband and I both work. I admit that’s not such a great life for a dog. After my husband leaves for the day, the dog is alone for far too long. But, he has acclimated over the years and seems content with his situation. He sleeps. He sits on the back of the sofa and stands guard. He barks at anything that might attempt an invasion on our property. Small children. Squirrels. Leaves. You know how it is. He’s a good dog, and he’s just defending his home.
When we home the dog goes crazy with happiness. He is delighted to see us, and brings us his best toy (or whatever one he’s enjoying at the time). He wants to give it to us, and all he wants from us is to pet him, play with him – to love him.
Thinking about it, I am convinced this is God’s reaction when one of His children returns home to Him. I imagine when a lost sheep returns to the flock, the LORD is overjoyed and he brings His best to us (just as the father did for the prodigal son in Luke 15:20-22). He runs to us, loves us, and holds us tight. I can only imagine that all He wants in return is love.
AND! If my dog shows so much joy now, imagine what it will be like when we all come home to Him. I can hardly comprehend it, but I know it will be exceptional when we meet Him in the air!
I am constantly amazed at how God reveals these truths to us in the simplicities of every day life! Stay tuned for the next Lessons from my Dog where I examine how Landon has taught me about SIN.
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It never ceases to amaze me how so many things in life reflect God and His great love for us. He uses just about anything He can to get our attention. Just yesterday, I encountered another example. Crazy as it may be, it is a perfect illustration of how God deals with us and how we often fight it…
Trimming my dog’s nails is neither fun nor easy. In fact, it’s a pain AND painful when you consider how he scratches me. But, I know I have to take care of it or else he’s going to be very uncomfortable. I usually have to chase Landon down and grab hold of him (I promise I’m not hurting him!). Then, as he kicks and squirms and sometimes screams, I try to keep him still while positioning the clippers. I speak softly to him trying to make him relax, but usually he hears none of it. As I start the work, Landon usually attempts to nip the clipper itself if he can manage to get close enough. When finished, Landon is released and he jaunts around the room a bit before coming back to eat his nail clippings (I haven’t figured out how this really works into the bigger illustration – it’s kind of disgusting and I don’t really encourage it). And despite all his fussing, my little dog is relieved, walks easier, and generally returns to me for some good-old-fashioned dog petting.
Maybe you see the metaphor; I as his owner reflect God and how he has charge over us. He desires to protect us and keep us spiritually healthy. And I suppose that makes me the dog, a dependent creature full of self-will who doesn’t always recognize the good God tries to work in our lives. After He’s pursued us and grabbed hold of us, we fight him tooth and nail. The Lord works at clipping away unfruitful elements in our lives, yet it is only afterward that we can fully (and sometimes not even that) recognize how He’s helped us. When we do recognize the freedom and peace He has granted us through His workings, we rejoice, coming back to the Lord as he lavishes us with strokes of grace and mercy.
This illustration isn’t perfect, but my point is that God is teaching us so much about Himself and His love in the simple everyday experiences we have. It would serve us well to pay attention and reflect on everyday the everyday moments of life.