5 Things My Dog Taught Me

September 12th, 2018

I’ve slept 4 nights stretched out as long as I wanted to because my dog is gone and I hate it. I really thought if I just avoided talking about her that I would eventually be okay. That’s not the case, the tears just keep coming at the oddest times. My heart is broken and I owe her all the love for the 15 years she lived with me. She was so much better than me and I know she was “just a dog” but she was mine and that is why I grieve her today.

She loved being in our family. Everyone has a Lizzy story or three. She had a funny personality and if you were close to our family….you’ve heard us imitate her as some bossy little wild woman who took herself for walks, judged others and did whatever the heck SHE WANTED TO DO sans worrying about any repercussions! Girl was a boss! She was responsible for a lot of laughs and it’s hard to remember a time without her.

She was 5 weeks old when we brought her home. I’ll never forget the first moment I saw her, she was so tiny…sitting in a big chair in the breeder’s living room. I took one look at her and thought, you’re my dog! Little did I know, she was totally taking me up on that. Instead of devoting herself to our daughter (whom she was originally bought for) she made it clear that I was her mama. No matter where I went, she loyally followed. If I cooked, she stood alongside and watched. Her favorite activity was our naps together. Nothing could keep that dog away from me. Sometimes, it annoyed me.

Since she died on Saturday, I’ve thought of all the ways she made my life better. Honestly, there a million. My photo storage is full of pictures of her interspersed with our lives because….well, we loved her that much. It’s impossible for me to avoid seeing her because she’s everywhere I look. How do you just get over someone you love so much (even if it’s a little dog)?

While my heart is shattered, God gave me a gift to help cope with her loss. The last several weeks had been rather terrible for her. She was so sick and yet, she never complained. Her love of food was crushed and she lost more than half of her body weight. Then her tiny belly started to swell and she eventually couldn’t stand or walk anymore. That horrible stuff nearly killed me and while I wished she would get better, heart disease doesn’t ever heal or go away. The process of watching her dwindle away prepared me for now. I prayed constantly for God to help her, either heal her or HEAL HER for heaven. Dog heaven. Which I’m convinced is the same heaven I’ll be in because…heaven is perfect and whatever your theology, God made animals so they’ll be there too!

It’s only fair that I honor her with the truth about who she was to me and how God used her to make me a better me. Dogs can be used by God, I’m a perfect example.

1 — She taught me to think outside of myself.

Dogs need care and if you own one you know, they need your help. They can’t fix their own food or open doors to go outside. It would be abusive to ignore her needs for my own. Every day, I had to think of her and what she needed. That’s a good thing. Life’s NOT all about us.

2 — She taught me that I’m valuable.

She loved me all the time. She didn’t get mad or hurt because I was busy or distracted with life. Her loyalty remained the same. She waited patiently on me for much of her life but she didn’t count any of it against me. Humans don’t offer the same grace. Her love gave me a glimpse of my own value in this world. How many times has life beat you up and when you got home, your dog celebrated you just for showing back up? You matter.

3 — She taught me to slow down.

I’m so good at running around and keeping busy. She was content to just lay by my side watching a show or reading a book. I have so many great memories of the two of us outside on the porch. Sitting quietly together gave me ample hours of rest and good prayer time. She managed to train me to hang out!

4 — She taught me to be fierce.

I’m certain the “though she be little, she be fierce” saying was meant for her. She was a squirt but she was also brave. Nothing scared Lizzy! I especially giggle looking back at her ability to growl at pitch black windows when my hubby was far away out of town! Thanks, Lizzy!!

5 — She taught me to love the ones you’re with right now.

Kids grow up and leave. Family & friends pass away. Why do we forget to love them with all our might when they are in our very presence? I can attest that nothing stays the same in life. If you haven’t had a big life change, just hang on. You will soon enough. I look back and see how EVERY SINGLE DAY Lizzy was there and I purposely gave her the love that she needed from me. I am so glad that I had her to love. She loved me even more. What a good lesson for me to genuinely love the people I still have in my life every day. Our time here is temporary. Why waste it hurt or mad at the people you love?

The love lessons won’t end just because she’s gone. I feel her all around me still and I know I’ll never forget her or the love she so freely gave to me and my family. Truth is, I’m wounded but I’m walking right now. This hurts but I’m so glad for all the pain. She meant so much and filled all the most memorable years of our lives. She was there for all of it, elementary ages to grown up years. Thank you, Lizzy. You were our favorite everything!

Grief is the price you pay for love.

Unoffendable

September 11th, 2018

When was the last time someone offended you? If you’re living in the world and walking amongst its people, probably not very long ago. It’s easy to get your feelings hurt or your ego squished. We live in a society gone mad in a sense, thanks to keyboard warriors and endless social media sites to camp out on all hours of the day. You can pretty much count on someone stepping on your toes if you dabble at all in any arena where people live and function.

We are humans, afterall.

Not a day goes by that I don’t find something annoying or offensive online. I read posts from friends or acquaintances and cringe at the thoughtlessness behind some of them. Thankfully, God is quick to remind me that I am no different than any other person who posts my beliefs or ideals on the internet. It’s all a heart issue. What’s in our hearts, we spill out.

That’s convicting, huh?

I’ve been wondering, what’s it like to live without offense? The one person who had every right to be offended was treated as offensively as a person ever has been yet HE FORGAVE every one of his offenders. My answer comes in the form of Jesus. He knew offense and he forgave anyway. What a challenge to my own flesh!

Been offended?

I’ve felt the sting of exclusion in friendships.

I’ve experienced being gossiped about.

I’ve been lied to and about in my community and relationships.

I’ve walked the pain of backstabbing so-called friends and even church people.

I’ve been on the receiving end of ugliness & even hate.

I’ve been falsely accused.

I’ve known two-faced people with bad intentions towards me and my family.

I’ve had hurtful words said to me.

….

I’ve experienced being offended, wounded and hurt beyond what words can describe and I AM STILL ALIVE AND WELL.

If you just peek out in the world, you will find the hurt that’s there in the form of offense. Someone somewhere is lurking around with a heart that’s all messed up and they will find you. You cannot hide from the pain of offense. It’s here, there and everywhere.

However, you can live with an attitude of forgiveness.

This might sting a little but there’s real freedom in NOT TAKING something personally. No matter who or how someone treats you — it DOES NOT reflect on you (or me). It reveals everything about them. Worrying about what someone says or does to us can be exhausting! People are flawed, they’re hurting and from my own life experience….hurting people really do try to hurt other people.

If you are feeling like others constantly dump their poison & anger on you, you can do something about it. First, forgive them. Pray for them and ask God to help you love them like HE DOES (because, guess what? GOD LOVES THAT PERSON). Second, come to grips with the fact that if what they say to you offends you, you might be a little off-balance yourself. What is going on in your own heart that your first inclination is to be offended? Is it a hate issue? Is it that you just want to stay the same and never grow? Listen, I have grown more from the pain in my life than I’ve ever grown from joy.

Stop being offended.

You are not a delicate daisy. You are strong, you are smart and you are God’s child. You are capable of living unoffended. If Jesus could do it, so can you (and me).

I’m convinced that the enemy enjoys the broken relationships of our lives more than anything else. If he can keep us angry, jealous or in a state of dislike with one another…what better way of destroying the good that can come from healed people. When we wallow in our hurt, we are not in the game of loving outside of ourselves.

Somebody out there needs you (and me) and if we’re trapped in an offendable state, we’re useless!

Sort Em Out

September 6th, 2018

I went to bed last night and thought I’d watch some late night tv before falling asleep. Impossible. Every channel the theme is the same, hate the President…his family & the entire White House. Hate them to the nth degree.

I clicked it off. (oooo the power of the clicker)

This morning, I turned on the morning shows and once again…the popular kids were spinning the same wheel of hate just in case I needed some more in my heart since the midnight hour.

It’s only right that I use what bothers me to LOOK INSIDE MY OWN HEART and to clean up any self-righteousness, anger or hate I might be oozing out onto others myself.

If all I do is bang a gong of self-righteousness, who’s going to listen?

If all I do is spew hate and offer no solution, who cares?

If all I do is scream obscenities, throw drinks in the faces of people who I disagree with (uhh, I don’t do that) or trash the streets, who will ever take me seriously?

So, here I am again…looking inside of me. What is there [God] that doesn’t belong? How do I show love when all I see around me is hate? I know I cannot be who God needs me to be when I’m no different than the world. I ran across a sign the other day that says, “Love them all, I’ll sort em out later. God!”

Simple, to the point and as theologically correct as I’ve ever thought a meme could be.

Lord,
I never thought I’d ask for a hate clean out but I think I might need one. Teach me your ways and remind me when I’m looking to the world for answers to look to you instead.
Amen

Test of Time

August 30th, 2018

I’m a hurry up, let’s go kinda person. I want everything to happen RIGHT NOW! If the last 2 years have taught me anything (and let me tell you, the lessons I’ve learned — could earn a person a Bachelors & Master’s degree) it’s that my timing and God’s are NOT THE SAME!

I am so thankful that He knows what I need when I need it.

It’s hard to see that when you’re feeling desperate for answers or change or rescuing. But, I’ll tell you….what you want for you and what I want for me will never compare to what God wants for us. His generosity goes beyond our tiny imaginations and from my own experience, turns out better than what was once hoped for.

Two nights in a row, we’ve gotten late night calls from Mr. Bob. He’s our new friend that we found by driving down his driveway (like criminals). Through him, we’ve found a loving church family and more friends than we ever dreamed. He is 80 years old and if I ever wished to know someone longer than him, I can’t recall. I woke up this morning thinking, I hope he lives forever. He’s in great health, healthier than me. So, he’s got time to stay my friend and I’m blessed because of it.

I only wish I’d met him sooner.

He has no idea who we even are….and he doesn’t care. He just loves and cares because that’s who he is in Jesus. Tuesday night he called to tell us about a house for sale that might be in our range. Not knowing $0 is our range right now. Don explained our situation and thanked him because the deal was truly an incredible one. But, timing. It just isn’t possible right now. As much as we wished it was…no housey.

Last night, he called because he’d been thinking of me stuck out in the country (he’s 1/2 a mile from me) without a car while Don is at work. He has an old Suburban out in the garage that all the grandkids drive and it’s just sitting there available. Please come get it and use it all you need.

Timing is everything when you really think about it.

This weekend we’re building a shed and working on our car. Both require having another vehicle to accomplish. How blessed are we that Mr. Bob wants to share his burb? Every prayer I’ve prayed, I’ve asked God for what I needed and I’ve trusted Him that if it was what I really needed, He would provide.

I know that we are in Montana for a reason.

As far as it is from my comfort people (see below for definition), God wants me here. I have sassed back a few times (just testing the waters) to make sure I’M REALLY SUPPOSED TO BE HERE IN BOZEMAN, MONTANA! Cause, I’m saucy like that. Every time, He does something else to love on me and show me that I am right where I am supposed to be and to zip it!

I’m humbled. Every new day, this or that steps in to remind me I am not in charge of anything. I have no power here and that’s the way it’s going to stay. God’s got this and he’s got that & that & that too.

I can take it to the bank, His perfect timing is alive and at work in my life. You can too. No matter what obstacle is standing in your way, God has a way around it.

You might be surprised at the hour or even the caller who steps in to be the hands & feet of Jesus when you need it most.

God,
I don’t know how you put up with me. I’m weak and faithless when life gets tough. Still, you stick with me and lavish me with love and care. Thank you. I’m a work in progress, every day.
Amen

Definition for –> comfort people:

The people who love you, care about you and fill your heart to capacity. The ones you can be YOU with and they still love you anyway. People who hold your heart in all its fragility and give without end. Those who will never ever laugh at your hopes or dreams. The lifter’s of your soul and the holder’s of your hand when you are afraid. The people who comfort you just by being with you. Also known as LOVE TANK FILLERS!

Praise God Anyway

August 28th, 2018

Just to be clear, I’m still in this world so struggle, worry and temptation still threatens to throw me against the rocks of this life.

I’m fighting so hard to not fall in a hole of desperation. Not a day goes by that I’m not challenged to trust God and give Him full reign over me and my banged up heart.

I am made of flesh, so it’s a constant battle.

When we drove away from our family and life in April, I claimed our exit a HEALING TOUR and what God soon revealed was that healing was far away. Imagine the sting of that. Nope, you’re not going to heal but hurt and grow a bit more. I don’t point that out to make God look cruel (He’s not, by the way) but He does work in ways that are often riddled with pain and seasons of waiting.

I feel as if I’ve been on the longest waiting list and perhaps, I’ve even been skipped.

I’ll be honest, it makes it very hard to see goodness when struggle tops the list. I am a smart lady, I can see when the enemy is sneaking around my turf trying to jam me up and discourage me. Still, I’m all jacked up on trying to be normal and normal just keeps racing far ahead of me.

Maybe, I’m not supposed to ever be normal again. At least, not my kind of normal anyway.

My life feels like it’s in crumbles. Pieces are scattered everywhere. Nothing seems to fit or add up. I just run back & forth like a passerby of a terrible accident trying to help all the bleeding and wounded souls laying around me. No one is getting the attention they need most because I am frantic and overwhelmed.

I can’t make my life right.

It’s too damaged. Too much, too soon.

I pray that this hurt doesn’t follow me forever. Every day that I think I’m okay….another weak spot opens up and I fall in with both feet reminding me that I am broken and in need of serious mending.

Things are a hot mess in my life; our finances are in the biggest uphill battle still, our ONLY CAR is in need of serious repair, my dog is dying and it’s not a pretty or easy journey for her or me, I’m missing my kids, I live in a camper in Montana and winter is a coming, I feel stuck with no job or car… we need a shed built yesterday, my internet (MY ONLY SOURCE OF THE OUTSIDE WORLD!!) is hit or miss and I am secluded from everyone. I don’t even look like me anymore. I get it why mountain people (the poor ones) look so dang homely.

It’s cause, we are h o m e l y!

I want to scream at every beautiful person I see and tell them, I used to be normal like you. I wasn’t always a hag!

In the 4 years that I lived in Zionsville, Indiana…I functioned on a very limited friend list level. It wasn’t until the very end of living there that I had a group of good and close friends. I’ve been here 4 weeks and I have made more friends than I know what to do with. Every week, I’ve been invited to dinner with great people who genuinely want to be a part of my life. God is more generous than I deserve. But, since He’s giving…I AM GOING TO TAKE!

I’ve learned a great lesson in such a time as this, to roll with it and let God do what He’s going to do. In spite of the things that are trying their dangedest to drag me down, I CAN STILL PRAISE HIM!

Worried about more month than money – praise Jesus anyway!

Stressed about a broken car, heart or relationship – praise Jesus anyway!

Lonely, depressed, afraid – praise Jesus anyway!

Emotionally struggling – praise Jesus anyway!

Locked in a hopeless situation – praise Jesus anyway!

I cannot give up and neither can you. When life trashes all we hold dear, God is still working! He is still fighting for us, holding the fragments of our lives together and preparing a way where we can see none. The seasons change from one to the next and life may look different but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

I can’t outrun my troubles. I can’t race ahead and skip all the refining and molding of my heart. As much as I want to. Getting a great job in a fantastic new place does not equal instant back to normal! Everything takes time.

So, while I stand in the muck of my real life problems….

I
Will
Praise
God
Anyway

I Am So Good

August 22nd, 2018

You know what I’m good at?

I’m good at pointing out the faults in others.

I’m good at finding someone to blame for my unhappiness.

I’m good at wearing my feelings on my shirtsleeve.

I’m good at hiding out when I’m angry or sad.

I’m good at being a real jerk.

I’m good at wishing for things I don’t deserve.

I’m good at feeling sorry for myself.

I’m good at ignoring the needs around me.

I’m good at thinking life is all about me.

I’m good at forgetting all my blessings.

I’m good at letting people down.

I’m good at making myself shine while shadowing others.

I’m good at snarky. Oh, I am so good at snarky.

I’m good at talking the talk and NOT walking the walk.

I’m good at focusing like a laser on my own issues.

I’m good at mishandling love & relationships & lost people.

I’m good.

Stay clear of my kind of good. It will drag you down in a pit of yuck where no person needs to be.

God is so good, too.

He sees the gack in me and He loves me anyway. That doesn’t mean I have a license to be my kind of good. It means HE IS MERCIFUL & LOVING & FORGIVING! I don’t have to be good at anything but obeying HIM and following His call on my life.

Neither do you.

The reward in that is you and I will be given so many people to love and grow with while we are here on this earth. We can waste it or we can vamp up our fleshy badness and learn to love outside of ourselves. That’s what I want to be good at….loving others MORE THAN MYSELF!

If you really think on it, why would anyone want to be my friend? If I’m good at all those janked up things above?

I’ll tell you, because I’m not just those messed up things.

I’m good at good stuff too. So are you.

Remember that when the enemy flashes all your weak spots in your face.