The Thanksgiving Tree

The Thanksgiving Tree

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sun Fuzzies

I remember a few years ago, my daughter was playing outside and noticed one of those little dandelion weed things that look like a fluffy, fuzzy little cotton ball on a stem.  You know what I am talking about.  We ALL know.  We pluck them and blow hard and watch all of the little white specks dance in the wind and we smile and we see how many puffs of air it takes to knock them all off.  At least that is how my family plays the game.  My little girl has called them "Sun Fuzzies" since I can remember.  And since she coined that phrase, that is what they have been.  I continue to call them that.  I love that title.  I love her heart.  I was recently reminded of those sweet little balls of joy during a conversation I had with a dear friend discussing the heartbreak of severed relationships.  Sometimes change brings great sadness.  Moving in different directions can be a hard and painful work without a proper perspective.

"Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you;" Genesis 12:1

It's hard, but it's good.  Throughout scripture the Lord scatters and moves His people around; in and out of cities and in and out of relationships.  We see this often in Paul's letters.  We see this in the books of the Gospels.  God is sovereign over it all.  Oftentimes, I interpret unexpected and unwanted change as a being "pushed out".  I view it as cruel, perhaps even neglect from my Heavenly Father. Yet, in all actuality, it is really a being "pulled in".  Pulled in towards His heart... HIS will for me... a turning of the page in my story He has written. Why?  Because He loves us so much.  It can be nothing other than a kindness.  I don't understand all of that.  I just need to "plant" my heart into His truth.  That NEVER changes.  And His truth is that it ALL is for my good...and that His love for me stretches as far as the east is from the west. Therefore, I can loosen my grip on that friendship that has become estranged.  I  can pack my bags and boxes and set out to live in a new city.  I can uproot from the familiar soil I so desperately cling to. My own dirt.  My own security.  My unbelief that He will truly guide me to the land which I will show you.  And most importantly, that His land is actually good and best for me....and I can GO forth.

Afterall, isn't that what Jesus commanded us to do before He left?

"Go therefore......." Matthew 28:19

Just as He created time frames of days and hours and seasons.  Just as He specifically outlined seashores and skylines.  He has framed our very lives.  [Our] time[s] are in Your hand. Psalm 31:15.  I am learning to see the beauty in the going.  Afterall, those sun fuzzies sure do look more magical twirling and spinning in the breeze than frozen stiff in the ground.  So, too, the Body of Christ, loosening their grips and wholeheartedly trusting themselves to the love and direction at the hand of their Lord.

Where will His breeze send you?

Monday, February 17, 2014

waiting in the mudhole

My backyard is a mudhole.  It's been rained through, snowed down, and iced over.  It's a mudhole now.  The grass is trampled under dog's feet and children's toes.  The game of fetch.  The hide and seek race.  The bicycles down the hill.  It's a mudhole.  I keep asking my husband if it's ruined.  If we managed to take our beautiful new yard that was kept so immaculately by it's previous owners, and we just trampled on it and killed it all.  He continues to reassure me it isn't dead.  It hasn't been destroyed.  Afterall, all of the rain and water is actually great for this winter lawn.  It's soaked deep down and the slosh remaining up along the surface is no reflection of the growth underneath...waiting to sprout.

Such is our lives these days.  We have been in a season of great weather.  It has rained hard and snowed us in and iced us over.  Somewhere between the tears and the trials, I am left somewhat of a soggy mudhole myself.

But I am reminded of Spring.  I am reminded of the underneath waiting to sprout.  I am reminded that what is presently seen is no reflection of what is to come.  What is waiting to come.  And that the weather has not been a tool of destruction, but a source of nourishment.  To nourish that which is to come.

I'm okay with this.  I'll wait some more.  Because I know as sure as the sun continues to shine, the seasons continue to change.  I know that because it's winter, Spring is on it's way.  I know this.  It's coming.  The ice is thawing and souls are being watered.... hope is in the is in the knowing.  

Thank you, Jesus... that in this moment, you have given me both.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sacred Years

At the time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"  and He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me..  (Matthew 18:1-5)

Today was a long day.  Nothing really different.  Just maybe too many of the "same" kind of days, one right after the other.  I am weary.  I must keep strong.  There's the schoolwork, the housework, the "dinner" work....  Our children do a lot of chores which helps, but there is still and always more to do... more and more.  I keep reminding myself that one day I will miss this craziness.  I know I will and I am so thankful I am aware of it now.  This is a gift of the Spirit.  It stops me in mid task and compels me to reach for a hug from that little cowboy running past me with a sword.  It stops me from answering with a quick, "no" when as soon as I crack an egg.. the footsteps skip through the kitchen, "ooo.. can I help you cook, Mama?"  It helps me be okay with, "I want to stoke the fire" while embers and ash are scattering all over my floor.

My oldest turns ten this month.  I have been a mother for almost a decade, now.  These are and have been sacred years.  Jesus knows just how sacred they are...but not in that we, as parents, must make best use of our time to pour into THEM (which is still very important, don't get me wrong).....but that we, as parents, must make the best use of the time we have with our children and their influence as they pour into US.  ..whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me...

yes, sacred years.

Six Years Old -jp

six years old
brown eyes, wavy hair
dancing around
with the dandelions...not a care
lying in the grass staring up at the bright blue sky

she's too young to learn what "pretty is"
old enough to know just who she is
and that she is..right. where. she. belongs.

every day a treasure
every day adventure

oh, to see life through these eyes
oh, to see life through these eyes
oh, the beauty to behold
when I grow up.....
          I want to be six years old.

six years old
ball cap on his head
hanging real close
because that's what his mother said
while he's running through the back woods
with nothing but his trusty dog

he's too young to have a fear of failure
old enough to crave a little danger
because that's what keeps him brave
and what makes him strong

every day a treasure
every day adventure

oh, to see life through these eyes
oh, to see life through these eyes
oh, the stories to be told
when I grow up....
          I want to be six years old.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Oh, to have the faith of my dog

Henry is our sweet one year old lab.  I have a love/hate relationship with this animal.  Henry is the dog whom I would take in and out, in and out, trying to potty train him and after about the seventh time to no avail, we would come in... he would look at me...make sure I was looking... then urinate all over the floor.  He's the dog that goes nuts at the vet and won't sit still on the scale.  He's the dog who hunts for dirty diapers as if they were treasures worthy of all costs.  He's the dog that when I go to pick him up after being boarded, I'm nauseated.  "Well, Henry ate his bed this time.  Watch him for a few days."  He's the dog who would bolt across the street to visit anything and anyone because apparently the entire world wants to pet him.  He's jumped on the school bus.  He's been in and out of almost every neighbor's garage.  He's chewed too many balls and sports equipment to count.  Not to mention shoes and socks and kitty toys.  Yet somehow through all the destruction, he as managed to wedge a warm spot in our hearts.  

He never jumps on my children.  He waits politely for his food and for us to enter and exit first out of the house or garage.  He started barking furiously one day (which he RARELY does.. another great thing about him) and I went running down to the garage to find that Thomas had opened the garage door and was walking out into our front yard!  (good dog)  He once found an earring that I had lost playing with the kids in the yard and dropped it in my hands.. unscathed.  (good dog)  One night while Josh was taking him out there was a noise and he went and stood in between from where the noise was coming from and Josh.  It was Chris taking the trash out.  But Henry didn't budge until Chris came into sight and then he wagged his tail wildly; as if relieved that Josh was safe.  :) (good dog)  He lets Thomas ride him occasionally.  He's great on his walks....and well, he just loves us.  I never fully understood or realized exactly how much he loves us until recently.

Because Henry was becoming more confident in his surroundings, he was leaving the yard a lot more; wandering out in the street and exploring in the woods.  We decided to activate the electric fence that was installed by the previous owners.  We had a trainer come out and work with Henry.  We set up the flags establishing his boundary and it didn't take but a few hours and Henry found a new motto to live by:  "flag...bad".  This new restriction provided all of us more freedom to enjoy being outdoors and being with Henry.  

The invisible fence was great, however, when I leashed him up to take him for his first walk since the installation, he put the breaks on.  Even though I had taken off his electric collar, all he knew was he wasn't supposed to cross that line.  Remember?  Flag...bad.

I coaxed him.  "come on, boy.  it's ok.  come on.."

He moved an inch.

I asked again.  "come on, Henry.  It's ok.  I promise.  come on..."

He lowered to the ground...tail tucked 'neath his belly...Ears bent low.  He did a little crawl.

"Good boy.  Come on.  I promise... You can trust me.... it's ok.. just a little more"

And with a little whimper, he scampered quickly across the flag threshold and I praised him.  I don't know if he understood me or not, but I told him that he can always trust me.  I will never ask him to walk through that wire unless I know he isn't going to get a shock.  Just listen to me, boy.  
And then it hit me.

Oh, to have the faith of my dog.

Everything he knew to be true, had experienced first hand, over and over again.... screamed this is dangerous and painful.  I was the only voice telling him it was safe.  He had a choice.  He could stay in his safe little yard and miss out on our walk together... new smells...visiting the horses... running down the hills...all the things he loves and brings him joy.... or trust me when I said it was okay to come.  If that's not faith, I don't know what is.  And I realized, this dog, with whom I loved AND hated...whole-heartedly loved me.  He was willing to go wherever I called..even when he knew it could cost him greatly.

There are times certain paths aren't allowed, and times we're asked to take the very road once prohibited.  That's why we must keep our eyes before the One who is instructing us in the way...the when...the how.   His paths never lead to anywhere but Holy ground when we are following Him.

I love my dog.  

We had a great walk that day.  And we have had many great walks since.  Now all I have to say is, "Come on Henry... It's okay to cross."  And without a beat, he marches right alongside me through those obnoxious yellow flags.  Trust like this is love.

Oh, to have the faith of my dog.

" I keep The Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure....You show me the path of life.  In Your presence there is fullness of joy;  in Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:8-9,11