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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Beware! Attack-Dog! Attack-People!

No sooner than opening the security gate to feed Vamanos, the longhorn, our mild-mannered, docile Havanese, Bentley, saw a woman walking her Doberman out on the roadway. He literally bounded out the gate to take out that dog. You would have thought that Bentley was a ferocious beast. The other dog was being held back by his owner, while Bentley, who appeared to be the alpha dog, was going in for the kill. He heard me hollering at him and, thank God, he halted his attack. The woman apologized for her dog who, she said “knows better than to react like that” and I did my best to apologize for our alpha, attack-dog! Oh me. The fact is, “Sweet Bentley has a rarely used, big bark and is the friendliest, gentlest dog around. I was thinking Bentley would lose his life to that Doberman, while Bentley was in “Attack Dog! Run-for-your-life-mode!”

I think I've seen some folks like that recently. I'm not name-calling but there’s a lesson here about “by their fruits you will know them". All this nasty name-calling, text and tweet bombing, he-said / she-said attacks. Oh my! I’m ashamed of our political leaders who are certainly not setting a good example for our children, and for that matter, for all of us. Why don’t we have civility instead of being in a disrespectful attack mode?

If we would take the wisdom found in the Book of Proverbs, apply it and make it part of our value and belief system, we could spare hurting others and ourselves with our words. About women, Proverbs 31:25, 26 says: "Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." More wisdom from Proverbs 21:23 says "Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble."

We've all been there with some fast-acting, split-second, hateful words that came out. We knew it was too late to take them back. The damage was done. We wished our brain had engaged before our mouths did. I remember a sweet, but powerful little Sunday School song "Be careful little mouth what you say...." How often do we let unnecessary words slip out and we think "What made me say that?"

Psalm 141:3 says "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!" I really do purposely pray for God to put a gate on my mouth. I pray "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord." Psalm 19:13.

Perhaps God wants to spare us, and others, from potential hurt and pain before unkind or unnecessary words slip out. Perhaps He wants to provide "damage control" angels at our Mouth Gates. Perhaps, He would like us to pray for our public leaders and politicians to better portray themselves as wisdom-filled, kind, tolerant examples for us all. Perhaps it's time we sing that little Sunday School song (and mean it) as a prayer "Be careful little mouth what you say."

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Living With an All-You-Can-Eat Mindset

What happened to all those all-you-can-eat buffets like Furr's, Luby's, and Golden Corral where we could indulge in every variety and choice of meats, veggies, salads and desserts? Maybe it's the health conscious living that we have these days, but I loved the whole notion of paying a nominal price for any and everything that laid before us. The whole thing was ours for the taking, after paying a nominal price for all that food. We could go back as many times as we wanted – even if we only ate one bite of any one item.

An old gospel song I remember well goes: “Jesus has a table spread / Where the saints of God are fed / He invites his chosen people, come and dine.” Somehow, I think the “table spread” doesn’t mean a petite size portion. Since God’s storehouse is overflowing with abundance, why would we settle for a snack? GOD lays out in front of us a buffet line of blessings. He gives us unconditional love, amazing grace, everlasting peace. He is so creative, loving and generous. Imagine how many beautiful fruit trees must have been in the Garden of Eden! He said “No” to only one tree in the entire orchard. All the other trees were “Yes” options. Simple obedience is the nominal price for enjoying all the blessings we could ever hope for.

God has a Blessing Buffet just waiting for us to enjoy. He makes it so easy to love Him, draw close to Him and please Him. We forget that the very God who created this entire universe, Who holds the stars in place, and knows the exact number of hairs on our head, also knows our way. His favor rests on us as we seek after Him with our whole hearts. He holds the power to cause things to happen in just a moment that would take us years to do. He can line up our pathways to cross with others He wants us to meet. He can open doors that leave us surprised at how they open. He can close doors that He knows are not the best for us. He has a plan, in the good and every hard thing we face. And often the greatest blessings come after the greatest times of testing.

God will not allow any circumstance, or any person, to hold
us back from His blessing, favor, and purpose for our lives. We don't have to worry because we belong to Him. He is more than able to turn the toughest, darkest times, around for good. He will not waste our pain, but will use the difficulty of what we walk through for good and to bring blessing and freedom to others. His presence is with us and we can be assured in whatever we face, His plans for us are good. I'm taking all-I-can-get AND eat at this table spread with so many blessings! How about you?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Choose Life

What helps me pass the time when I'm traveling or on a treadmill or elliptical equipment, is listening to audio books. Since I’m a “romantic” at heart, I enjoy listening to Karen Kingsbury’s Christian inspirational books of intrigue, a tinge of romance and happy endings. The story-line of a recent one I listened to, included God's words to Moses: Deuteronomy 30:15,19 -“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. Choose life, so that you and your children may live.” I’ve repeated those words to those I’ve been encouraging.

Every day we make all kinds of decisions – from the outfit we’re going to wear, who to meet, what to eat, and what to do. Most important, we choose what to think. I have come to know one thing for sure: today will not be any better than our thoughts. Seriously. LIFE and death are in the power of our thoughts. Choosing life at every thought makes such an incredible difference in who we are to ourselves and to others.

I was compelled to write this blog today because I’ve listened to some dear friends who are still struggling over the loss of a loved one – years after their passing. Instead of choosing life in abundance, they are still consumed with death and are choosing death over life. John 10:10 says “The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy, but I (Jesus) came to give you life and more abundant life.” Don’t we all want ABUNDANT life?

I work with a Faith and Grief Ministry. We share with those who have suffered a loss: "Take as long as you need to heal. Allow yourself to grieve for as long as you need to.” And while it is a soothing way to help someone ease back into living, I’ll admit, I want to get them on a fast-track back to choosing life over death. The sooner we get back to life, the sooner we enjoy living. For all who grieve, I know it is a profoundly personal journey and while I can share my hope with you -- I cannot speak to your time-frame. What I can tell you is that if you are open to true joy, happiness and living life beyond loss, open your heart to welcome the day to live again because Jesus’ abundant life is there waiting with open arms.

I’m not a mind over matter kind-of-gal, but I am a life-giving, Word-of-God living kind-of-girl. That is my “secret sauce”, which is really no secret. God gave us every tool we need to live an over-the-top victorious life and don’t we want to be one of those who we want to hang around with? I know I live with hope and purpose because I’ve chosen LIFE. The ability to choose my thoughts is the difference between pain and freedom. The greatest truth I have learned about LIFE is that LIFE is only ever one thought away. The good news is we are free to change our mind whenever we want. In every situation, we can cultivate the habit of asking ourselves: “What is the LIFE thought here?” Lay aside those dark, sad and depressing thoughts, and make yourself available to the higher ways of the abundant life Jesus came to give us.

Of all the decisions we make – none is greater than to CHOOSE LIFE. To choose thinking life-filled thoughts instead of doubt, unbelief, death, poverty, sadness and fear. When we choose life, we are choosing God thoughts and God actions. I am speaking to those today who have convinced yourselves there is no hope for good things to happen to you; no great expectations for dreams coming true or prayers answered. I am speaking to a parent who has lost a child or a child who has lost a parent or a widow or widower who has lost your beloved spouse. Today is the day to make a choice. I love you too much not to encourage you to CHOOSE LIFE! What a difference it makes in living!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Lord, Please Make Me a Fountain – Not a Drain

I had an “aha” moment as I was adding water to the base of my children’s fountain. In these hot temperatures, the water evaporates quickly so it requires an occasional fill-up. I started thinking about how to be an unstoppable fountain of life and not a drain. Putting it into “people terms” – it’s striving to be a life-giver -- a positive encourager instead of a negative drainer.

I'm sure you can think of a few negative people who can take an intended joyful time and turn it into a draining time. They have difficulty finding the good in anything. We love them, but if we hang around them for very long, we sense our own joy draining. No doubt, they may have had some really negative stuff happen in their lives and it has impacted their heart and soul. We all have a past that tries to bind us, or maybe a present that insists on weighing us down and even a future that shows no glimmer of hope. But, no matter what – there is always the Source of Hope Who dwells within us if we are believers in our God of Hope. And, we want that for them, too!

We can’t always change our circumstances or our past, but we can change how we view our life as it moves forward. If we find ourselves facing life with dread, then I’d like to offer you a few of my personal habits that have served me well and kept my fountain overflowing instead of draining life out of me, as well as those in my sphere of influence.

~ Be positive. It can be a work-out, but when we do, it becomes second nature and it creates a fountain of life to others.

~ Count your blessings. Start right here to find your happy place. We woke up this morning. We were able to get up out of bed on our own. We have a place to live. We have food to eat. We have God Who loves us so much. Keep in mind there is always someone who has a much tougher time than we do!

~ Be hopeful. Hope is a wondrous thing. I’m passionate about this one because “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13.12). We all need to reach down inside for our child-like anticipation for the future. It's possible with God because He provides a hope that makes the heart healthy and filled with joy. God has our best interests at heart. God wants good things for us, plans to prosper us, and not harm us. Sometimes we slip-up or the world throws us a curve-ball, but it doesn’t change who He is. He is always good, and always desires good for us. That is always and forever a reason to have HOPE! Let's blow up that HOPE balloon and let it fly!

~ Surround yourself with positivity. We become those who we hang around if we let them. Sit with an incessant complainer and before long it’s natural to gravitate to their side and we are complaining about this and that, too. Hang out with life-givers and our fountain starts to overflow with life!

~ Encourage others. Who wants to be a drain that depletes others of their God-given inherent joy? Not me! I want to be a fountain-of-life encourager who speaks life. Positive words empower and energize others. Let’s fill up the fountain within us so it has a never-ending spring of Living Water flowing to those around us. God knows they may be going down for the last time in murky waters of unbelief and negativity. God may be sending out a 9-1-1 call for you and I to be His emergency "springs of living water" provider.

John 7:37-38 "Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Would We Look the Other Way?

I don’t know about you, but I did. Looked the other way, that is! It seemed there were beggars holding signs on every corner of this busy Austin intersection. The light was red and one was coming down the line of cars toward me. I hoped for the light to turn green before he got to me. It did. Whew! Spared that dilemma: “Do I give him a dollar or some change or do I avoid looking at him?” I avoided looking at him. But, my conscience hurt as I passed him. Would it have been worth the change or a dollar to NOT have this moment when I felt like I let God down. After all, I am that girl who makes up bags of a water bottle and a package of crackers and cheese to at least give something. How could I be so heartless?

Yesterday, my blog was about "Loving our neighbors as we love ourselves." The emphasis on "loving ourselves". Now today, our Gospel reading in Luke 10, Jesus speaks those words to an inquiring lawyer. I want "neighbor" clarified once and for all! The lawyer and I both ask: "So who is my neighbor anyway?"

I dove deeper into Jesus response. Whatever this lawyer had in mind for the answer, I’m sure it wasn’t the story that Jesus told. And I’m sure it's not what we would expect either. We all may know the parable of the Good Samaritan that followed in Jesus response. It seems the “neighbor” is the man going to Jericho who was beaten and left for dead -- the one who three men encounter. I think the "Good Samaritan", the one who helped this man, also proved to be a good neighbor. It made me want to be like this Samaritan who helped when help was needed and not get all caught up in questions about who we're supposed to help, and when, where and how, and what if it will make me late for church on Sunday if I stop? I know the dialogue well!

What I’ve come to realize about our neighbors is it's more about OUR identity, not theirs. What matters first is who we are. The radical truth is that in Christ we have been given a right standing before God and we are propelled in love for God and others by the power of His Spirit in us. So that affects the way we see those around us. It's not because they've become something different, but because we have.

Of course, we could make a thousand qualifiers. The Good Samaritan didn't give his spare change to buy another bottle of whiskey, and from what I understand in working with the homeless, it’s not the best use of our resources either. But I’m thinking that more importantly is that maybe we get lost in the qualifiers too often — about when help can hurt and who are the poor. These are all important questions, and we do well to give them careful thought.

But while we think, and think we must, may we never lose sight that the central issue has to do with how the Gospel message bears on our own souls. God made us new creatures in Christ — empowered to love others for His sake. I’m sure God wants us to help the poor and blesses us when we do. In the words of the Psalmist David: “Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes” (Psalm 41:1-2).

It is indeed a worthy cause to help the poor, including the sign-holders on our street corners. Each of us must respond to these people as the Lord guides us, not forgetting at the same time to offer prayers for needy people. Personally, I’m determined to not over-analyze should I or shouldn’t I, but I think I’m going to make up some more of those bags or have a protein bar on hand to give to them, look them in the eyes and say “God loves you and so do I.” How could that be anything but loving my neighbor as I love myself and God loves me?

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Loving our Neighbors as We Love Ourselves

I’ve been here at my Austin family’s home for over two weeks now. Here’s the bonuses of being here:
1) Breathtaking views of Austin’s Hill Country from their back patio – perfect for a morning of holding hands with God and His creation.
2) Hanging out with the critters.
3) Going make-up free and even coiffed-hairdo free.
4) Being on the elliptical equipment to do my 4.5 mile workout each day.
5) Eating out of their pantry and refrigerators.
6) Wearing jeans and a t-shirt or my work-out clothes.

But, if someone were coming over or I was invited over to someone’s home or taken to dinner (I have been several times), I gussy up, coif my hair, put on a little spray cologne and wear an attractive outfit. After all, I want to dress for success. Actually, I’m loving both sides of this girl – the no frills and the dolling up. I love me – both ways. I love who I have become in the process of loving God with all my heart. It’s taken many seasons to get me to this self-assured season. Remember Jesus’ words to the lawyer: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself!” (Mark 12:31).

But there ARE those times when I allow myself to feel “less than” when I see you younger, flawless, smoother complexions, trim figures, silky hair and wearing shorts that show off your legs especially when, these days, the spider veins in my legs remove all desire for shorts or a swimsuit. There’s all kinds of strange “wisdom bumps” (as my dermatologist calls them) appearing in even stranger places. But, here’s the truth of the matter. We need to stop beating ourselves up for the way we look, be it extra weight around our middle that we call “our spare tire” or whatever our imperfection obsession might be and start loving the body God created especially for us. We are the only make and model of us on planet earth! One-of-a-kind!

While I’ve been here, I’ve taken to the elliptical equipment in the fitness room, doing 4.5 miles daily (76.5 miles for the 17 days I’ve been here). It’s great exercise and good for the body, mind, and soul. AND, the most important, is the quiet, alone time with God and me that builds up the inner me which is the most important, for sure.

We can’t love our neighbors as ourselves if we don’t know how to love ourselves. When we focus on feeling imperfect on the outside, we lose focus of how far God has brought us on the inside. Besides -- I have a feeling our outside isn’t as bad as we think. We have a purpose and we have a calling and we can’t walk in any of it if we can’t see beyond the mirror. We’re all on this journey together and seeing beyond ourselves is a wonderful way to travel.

No matter what we’re struggling with, God is bigger. I need to remember that the next time I get another "wisdom" spot. When we feel defeated by our imperfection obsessions, Jesus is right there to help us overcome those woe-is-me feelings. When the enemy tries to sell us a load of lies, let’s don't buy it! I know that’s easier said than done, but there’s nothing sweeter than trusting God in our human frailties and darkest moments. Let’s look at ourselves the way God sees us and say goodbye to our struggle with imperfection. God sees us through the sacrifice of Christ, and that is more perfect than anything we could ever hope for. We truly can surrender all the pieces of our life to the One Who made us and the One Who gave His life for us.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Tell Mama I’ll Be There

That’s the title of an old (1898) country song that I remember hearing my mama sing about her mama. And, that’s the song I sing about my mama. I'll be there, Mama!

“Tell mother I’ll be there, in answer to her prayer;
This message, blessed Savior, to her bear!
Tell mother I’ll be there, Heaven’s joys with her to share;
Yes, tell my darling mother I’ll be there."

I’m thinking about my darling mother today on her birthday (she’d be 108). Oh, what a precious mama she was to me. Everything I am, and hope to be, I owe to her example, her love, her abiding faith in God during some of life’s toughest times. She had unwavering love for my dad, my siblings and me. Mostly, it was the peace she exuded regardless of the pressures of life. If God were giving a motherhood test, she would have passed it with flying colors.

Honestly, the best of me came from her. If ever there was an angel on earth, it was her. She was my mentor, role model and everything a mother should be. She selflessly gave -- "Just give me the fried chicken neck -- that's good enough for me." She always forgave -- "It's okay. God forgives me all the time. I sure can forgive you." She unconditionally loved -- "It's okay that I don't hear much from your siblings (they lived in other states). I love and pray for them anyway." Her integrity and honesty were of the utmost importance to her. I'll never forget the day as a tiny tot that I saw a package of gum on the floor in the store and put it in my pocket. I reasoned that "if it's on the floor, it's okay to have it". When she found it in my pocket, she took me back to the store and I had to admit my wrong-doing. That incident and lesson stuck with me like glue. She gave me boundaries that worked -- "Let your conscience be your guide." And those words always rang in my ears when I was choosing right or wrong. She never missed a church service -- Wednesday night, Friday prayer meeting, women's meetings, Sunday School AND church -- twice each Sunday. She sacrificed her own personal needs for my needs. She showed me undaunted faith and determination in the toughest of times when my Daddy was so sick and when our finances were so meager. I heard her praying for me and my siblings from her bedroom. She was unquestionably the most tender, kind-hearted, loving, gentle, caring and pure woman I have ever known. She was my hero, and to this day, she remains my hero. Her example made me a better me.

The reason why I'm emphasizing her today to impress upon us to realize -- it's not the places we go or the things or treasures or inheritance or life insurance or jewelry -- the tangible things that make us. What makes us, and the legacy we leave to our children, are the things that money could never buy. Her influence on me caused me to be honest, to love and care passionately, to put my faith in God during the best and worst of times, to give and to suck it up when I've been hurt or offended, to trust in God's plans for my life and to leave my family with something so much more than the things that can be bought. I intend to leave them the very best of me......and the very best of me is my precious mother's example. What are those things that you'll leave to your children and grandchildren?
"Her children rise up, and call her blessed...." Proverbs 31:28
Happy Birthday, Mama! You can count on it! I’ll meet you over there!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

💥💥💥💥 2,000 and Still Counting 💥💥💥💥

This day, July 11, 2019 -- is the BIG ONE! The BIG ONE as in posting my 2,000th blog. Pardon the personal high-fives! 🤚🤚 I’m beyond grateful for God's faithfulness to me to inspire, motivate, encourage, drop nuggets of His fresh Word, opened my eyes to see the beauty in each day and to savor the moments when I would get an “aha” lightning bolt revelation to share with you. Most of all, I am so thankful for those who commented or “secretly” sent me private messages about how one of my posts was “right-on” for what you needed for that day. Thank you to those who privately asked me for counsel and advice and to pray for you. The praise all goes to God! 🙏🙏

On April 26, 2010, I wrote my first-ever blog. It was the beginning of the faith journey of our lives and I knew God wanted me to live our journey out-loud to document the abiding and constant love that we knew that the Father would pour out on us. We wanted our light to brighten the way for others who may have been facing similar situations. We were embarking on travels that were not without God's oversight and provision. While we had always considered our walk with Christ to be an amazing faith journey, with its many twists and turns and ups and downs, we were always secure in knowing He was on board with us, come what may. But, this new road we were on, was one that came out of the clear blue, unexpected and we needed to put on our combat boots and gear to handle this one. We were so full of faith, determination and great expectancy. Here is that first blog, just in case you’re interested in reading it:

If you read it, I know you might think "Bless her heart, with all that faith, their prayers weren't answered.” Oh, contraire! They were answered when he survived the first surgery which the medical industry says is the most life-threatening surgery there is. They were answered when God gave us a first-class medical team -- second to none. They were answered when we laughed and celebrated in the midst of the pain. They were answered when God supplied our needs during the loss of income times. They were answered when friends and family co-partnered with us in prayer, providing meals, and support. They were answered when doctors, nurses, other patients and visitors were touched by the strong courage we maintained. They were answered when the most incredible peace that passed all understanding kept our hearts and minds throughout the journey. And they were answered as this widow still maintains that wholehearted trust in God's faithfulness.

At that time, I was randomly blogging about our faith journey and then in January of 2011, after he passed away, I asked God what my new mission would be for that year. It was as clear as any message I would hear from someone who was face-to-face with me. God nudged me to continue my blogging in my new season of widowhood – to keep letting His light shine in my every day musings. It was still random blogging until 2014 when I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was to make blogging a life mission DAILY, posting before 6 am each day. Not just aimless blogging but mind-of-Christ blogging. Being a social media missionary. Consistently being a light in the darkness. Every day. To start the day. For those who needed some gas-in-their-tank, a fresh word of hope, a breath of fresh air, a reason to live, and the knowing – nothing is impossible with God.

Often, it's all about ME because I need those reasons to start my own day. I know I need to get out of bed on the RIGHT side of being a determined, strong, fearless and powerful woman who believes we were ALL created to make a difference in this world, in our workplaces, in our communities, our schools, our churches and our homes!

Here’s the deal. Aimless, selfish, my four-and-no-more thinking isn’t why God created us. He created us to be the ones to step up and out of our comfort zones and our comfortable homes and comfortable mindsets. Our world needs "behind the scenes prayer warriors", social media missionaries, powerful living-out-loud faith-filled, devil-chasing, armor-bearing believers who light up their corners, workplaces, homes, churches, schools, and even the marketplaces with God’s presence and light.

Maybe you are being nudged by God today – to begin blogging, or volunteering for your church or community center. Pay close attention. If God nudges, we best get after it! And, as we go, I'm quite sure when we open our mouths, it will be filled with God's wisdom, and the teaching of kindness will open doors to bring healing and wholeness to our world -- being peace-makers, joy-givers, hope-bringers, lovers, and compassionate healers!
See you tomorrow, for blog 2,001!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Taking One Day at a Time

Yesterday, my sis-in-law and I caught up on each other's lives. She’s in Tulsa. For now, I’m in Austin. We both have very active, on-the-go families and there’s much to talk about. My years of caring for elderly parents have passed, but she and my bro-in-law are still caring for their 96 and 97-year-old mothers. Though George’s mom is in a skilled care facility with around-the-clock oversight, there are still high demands on his part for attending to her needs outside of that care. And Karen, has my 96-year-old mom-in-law living with her. She updated me on mom’s new hearing aids and now she can hear birds chirping. Thank God! But there are still so many needs in geriatric care. I say those words so respectfully, and you should, too! Unless God chooses otherwise, we'll be there ourselves one day! Karen and I agreed -- it's simply -- taking one day at a time!

Can you imagine how Moses felt – day-after-day spending 40 years in the wilderness? He simply obeyed and heeded God's call. But God, Who specializes in doing the impossible, was with him. He had no choice but to follow the Lord one day at a time, and in the process, God used him to save an entire nation. His greatest strength was knowing he was totally dependent on God. The One Who called Him, enabled him -- one day at a time.

As a young wife, mother, business woman and ministry leader, I remember the stresses that accompanied each station of my life. I remember the desperation in decision-making, the financial hurdles and health challenges. But, even in the anxiety, God's Word would rise up in me: "This is the day the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24), even if nothing changes!” That was my declaration then AND now!

"THIS is the day. Today. Live today. Don't waste today dreaming about tomorrow or reminiscing about the past. Make the most of today. We can't change the past. Yesterday is gone forever. I remember my Mama’s famous line as a single mom raising me: “You can’t get blood out of a turnip!” She was saying “What’s the worst thing that can happen? We still have US! This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

I began to focus on this day -- not the past and not the future. I set my heart on God's will for this day. I determined to be glad in this day. I confess: "I will live for God THIS day. I will overcome by the blood of the Lamb THIS day. I will do my best in everything my hand finds to do THIS day. I will trust God with all my heart THIS day."

Why THIS day? Jesus focused on doing the will of the Father on a daily basis. Jesus’ perfect prayer includes this line: “Give us THIS DAY our daily bread.” I am now living in my tomorrow, but the truth I learned many years ago remains. I still need to plant seeds of obedience for a continual harvest, one day at a time.

In all of life’s changes (and I’ve had many), one thing remains constant. That is the peace that comes from following Him -- one day at a time. If you are going through some difficult times and are uncertain about what tomorrow holds for you -- don't let the joy of THIS day be stolen from you. Take hold of God's hand and His Word, and it will give you the calm and ability to make it through whatever is up ahead -- one day at a time.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Living in Harmony Like our Animal Friends

I seem to get good blog material when I'm here in Austin as the animal caregiver. These critters -- the chickens and ducks in their pen and coop, and the donkeys and goats in their barn and field areas live together in harmony – but they do have their cantankerous moments. The goats with horns seem to dominate the larger Nubian long-eared goats. And there’s one horned-goat “Oreo” who gets very possessive of his bowl of feed. He’s not willing to share with any of the other goats. I scold him and push him back so another goat can share with him. It is a temporary solution. The youngest donkey gets possessive of the feed container for just him and his mom. I scold him and I invite Molly, the biggest donkey back in. It’s typically a harmonious kingdom but not always a peaceful kingdom.

Then there’s the longhorn Vamanos who is in a field all to himself. He is peaceful and stately, Texas-stately, for sure. No complaints out of him. He just waits patiently for his giant rubber container of feed and several stacks of hay. And, there’s the peaceful, “saintly” Havanese dog who is my shadow and sidekick. But then, he has no other dogs to compete with or to have to tolerate – just like Vamamos. Instead of perfect harmony – that’s perfect solo living. But, who wants to go it “solo” all the time?

The fact is God created animals and human beings to co-exist. He created us to not necessarily agree all the time, but to harmonize by agreeing to disagree without bitterness and hatred. To respect each other even when we are complete opposites in faith, ideals, and persuasions. My grandson took me for a tour of downtown Austin a couple of days ago -- to the State Capital Building and Congress Avenue where there are all kinds of sights and sounds and people groups, and silly photo opportunities everywhere (i.e., Willie for President). We had lunch in a trendy place with great food and packed with people. Our waiter was a proud, friendly gay man who gave us excellent service. He was hilarious and outgoing. I was overcome with love for this man and whispered a prayer for him. I’m sure we have little in common, but what we do have in common is we our neighbors and I love him as I love myself. I gave him a good tip, a hug, and told him I loved him when we left. I meant it.

Life is full of unexpected plot twists and exciting cliff-hangers, and in a world where technology is progressing at an ever-accelerating pace, it’s about high-time we learned to stop and smell the roses, the barnyards, the restaurants and the places where people are. Jesus didn’t always hang out in the temple. He was going to the tax-collectors' and sinners' homes and other places that others deemed questionable. By hanging out with the undesirables, Jesus shows me His great capacity for love and compassion. By consistently taking those with off-the-track thinking and getting them back-on-track, He teaches us real lessons we can learn when we "do what Jesus did".

I look at the peace in these animals when they are in the field, calmly co-habitating, eating grass, mulling around, sharing the space together. We humans are the pinnacle of God's creation and we are the beings created in His image. When we live and act with compassion and sensitivity, we become more like God. Maybe that’s one of the reasons He created so many varieties of animals. If we looked at the ants and took on their diligence and determination. The birds of the air how they toil not and worry not. The peace of this little dog that is laying beside me now – he knows he’s loved and cared for – and shouldn’t we feel the same way about our Father God who cares infinitely more about us than the animal kingdom? After all, He loved us so much He gave His one and only Son to die for us so that we could live with Him forever. The closer we become to God, the more we realize, that He really made us to be "caretakers of the world – caretakers of each other." A barometer for one's sensitivity towards animals and other people may eventually lead to goodwill for all mankind. I hear those Christmas words again “Peace on earth. Goodwill to all men (and women).”

Monday, July 8, 2019

In the Sight of God and All These Witnesses

Right in the middle of church yesterday, the pastor said “Please be seated. We are having a wedding now. And, up came a lovely bride, handsome groom, their two attendants, and on the front row behind the couple were their children. The pastor said "They were married seven years ago, but today they want to be married in the church in God's sight and all these witnesses.” I suspect they felt married all those seven years, but along the way, they realized they wanted their family and their lives covered by the full blessings of God – no holds barred. Two young people, years before, threw caution to the wind and got married in a "quickie" ceremony because they desperately loved each other and that's all that mattered at the time.

This day they were making a covenant with God and each other for a lifelong, faithful relationship together. The marriage covenant is a mystery of drawing down the presence of God, of engaging His help and power in our lives. Dr. Scott Hahn says it this way: “We are sitting on a stockpile of spiritual power that we have barely begun to tap. Do not be stingy with God's blessings. Do not withhold invoking God's name over your loved ones. Every time you invoke the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, you are tapping into the great oaths that God swore when He fashioned the world; but even more, you are tapping the greater power of Jesus Christ, Who has sworn a new covenant oath, having taken upon Himself the curse for our sin.” We pray that sacred ceremony gives them “sticking” power for many years of wedded bliss.

While their short eight-minute ceremony was going on, I reminisced about a covenant made before God, this day, July 8th, 1966. That covenant was made by my sweetheart and me as we were united in the sacrament of holy matrimony. It was a special, picture-perfect day when my sweet man and I became husband and wife. I don’t believe in superstition -- you know – the groom not seeing the bride during the day of the wedding, or the throwing of the bouquet ensuring the catcher will be the next to get married, or rice being thrown at the couple that means they’ll have prosperity and fertility, though we stuck to those traditions. But I do believe those sacred vows we made and the covenant we made before God, gave us “sticking power”, when, many times, we could have cut bait and exited the drama, and the shaky times when another day with each other seemed almost too much to handle. What was it that caused "until death do us part" to be the deciding factor that created an inseparable, unwavering and unrelenting love that knew no end?

As young as we were (18 & 17), we knew what a covenant before God was and when we vowed before God: "For better or worse" (and, believe you me....we had some "worst of times") and "For richer or poorer" (Lord have mercy -- we had some mighty poor seasons) and "In sickness and health" (we both knew "sickness") and "Until death do us part". Those were our promises to each other and our vows before God.....and they stuck in the good and the bad times. I am saying.....tough times don't last...but tough people who give God first place in the mix of literally everything that concerns what sustains, equips, and remains forever true.

I’m sending kisses heavenward today because I know that’s where my Sweetheart is cheering me on to my finish line. What was it that mattered most while he was still on this side of heaven with me? What is it that matters most today? The ONE common denominator -- God, Who blessed us with 44 years of marriage on earth, and through all my years on this side of heaven, is still the ONE who blesses me today. He is the ONE who continues to wake me up each morning with joy in my soul and a song in my heart. That “triangle” covenant: God, Ron and me – had sticking power. It was a signed, sealed and delivered covenant! Spending FOREVER with God AND my Sweetheart will be awesome, and FOREVER is a long, long time.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Just a Jesus Follower

"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."
-- The Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1)

I was one of those non-conversational, shy, withdrawn, and lacking self-confidence, kind-of-girl. I had big faith, but little output. I kept my faith to myself. The main reason? The fear of rejection. Sure, I’d invite friends to church with me, but I’d leave the Jesus-talk to the minister. I knew the “Good News” of Jesus, but I was afraid to share it. I worried my friends would reject me because they thought I was a Jesus fanatic.

I overcame those fears when I got me out of my “first place” priority and moved God up to "Numero Uno"! That helped me understand my place in God’s family and allowed me to view the opinions of others with an eternal perspective. That eternal perspective of being a leader who others follow right on to eternity with me!

I’m quite in-your-face when it comes to my blogging. I know it. You don’t have to tell me. I don’t want to impress you, but I do want to impress upon my followers that FIRST PLACE priority. My point isn’t to get more followers. I am just a follower of Jesus. I am just a gal who found out where the living water is and I am trying to share it with others. I am not the source of it, Jesus is. Follow Him.

I just want to write and to share out of the abundance of the life-giving water He gives me every day. I lean on the well and even hang out at the well. I try not to wander too far off from it. I know my track record and I don’t like the feeling of being so thirsty, lacking hope and joy, when I meander away from the well. I will tell you a secret. I don’t know all of the 4,193 friends on my Facebook page. And, all of them don’t really know me. I pray they are following me because they met Jesus face to face in something I blogged about. I am so thankful for that because it is the reason I began blogging in the first place.

It’s time to let God get the glory from what we do and what we say. It is so worthless to rant and rave about things that don't matter in the light of eternity. It is so worthwhile to spread the Good News that has a pay-off of eternal proportions. It’s time to Follow Him so He can say about us: “Hey, you know her/him. She/he started this blog/social media ministry, and now I HAVE ____ followers. Well done good and faithful servant.”

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19) We are meant to catch them and teach them to follow Him not us. It is important to get the message out there, but it shouldn’t be our focus. He is our focus, and our message just keeps getting clearer and clearer!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Somebody Else Will

A dear friend of mine is having quite the year. She has faced personal health issues and as the director of an active, vibrant ministry – was loaded up with leading it in a major event, and was tremendously successful at it, I might add. She has two children getting married this year (one this weekend), and has a full-time job -- not to mention all the other hands-on and necessary things she does for God and her family. She has been loaded up, to say the least. A few months ago, I campaigned the troops to get behind her in support. My personal attempts were meager. In the back of my mind, I thought “someone else” will help her because I'm loaded up, too! In fact, I heard of a couple of gals who were helping her which made me feel better.

Fast forward a couple of months when I saw my friend at church and asked. “How are you doing? How are the wedding plans? It won’t be long before it’s all behind you.” My famous last meager and inadequate words of solace. That night, Deacon Alex Barbieri spoke about “Somebody Else”. He explained: “Jesus was very hands-on with His disciples – teaching them about feeding a crowd with just a few loaves and fishes." The disciples seemed to always have self-doubt and were always asking the question: “What about us?” Jesus just kept influencing them by saying “You are up for the challenge. You are bold and courageous." Jesus takes our “measly” remnants to meet us wherever we are and whatever situation we are in. Don’t wait for Plan B. Use what you’ve got right now to help someone. It’s time you make a personal commitment. The DNA of Christians is called "service". Jesus said, ”If you follow Me, the bar is higher." Jesus was saying “Instead of SOMEONE ELSE doing it – YOU do it." There is someone who died and the family needs us. There are immigrants, prisoners, homeless and others who need us, but we keep thinking: “Someone else will take care of them!” Jesus is saying: “JUST DO IT!”

I couldn’t get that message off my mind and my heart. I texted my friend: “I’ve got a free day tomorrow! Can I come over and help you?” Her lightning fast reply was my assurance that I was hearing right. She invited me to come over and help her iron tablecloths for the wedding. Rather, than that, I picked them up and at my home I took care of the job so she had the time to do something else on her busy to-do list. It took me a couple of days for those thirty-one 144” tablecloths to iron and hang – which included my prayers for the wedding and the family. That was eight hours of blessing on both our parts. Tablecloths. A cup of cold water. In His name. Blessed.

This time it wasn’t “somebody else”. It was me. I’m so thankful I said, “Pick me!” Lord, help me to always have the time to sense your nudges, hear your call, see the needs of others and respond as your hands and feet. I want to be a “JUST DO IT” kind-of-girl for You and others, because You are a "JUST DID IT" Lord for me!

Friday, July 5, 2019

I'm Declaring My Freedom and Liberty

July 4th is always a day to celebrate America’s birthday in some way even if it’s only wearing some red, white and blue. For my family, it always meant shooting off some “black cats”, “rockets”, sparklers and a few “chasers” that made us high-tail it! There was always hamburgers and hot dogs with the all-American apple pie. But what’s a girl to do when her families are miles away and all she’s got to keep her company are goats, donkeys, a longhorn, and a dog? Well, she’s supposed to get all-dolled-up in her red, white and blue and find a place to celebrate. Fortunately, it was just a few miles away at the Hill Country Galleria Mall where there was everything to choose from: a sidewalk sale by retailers, artisans and crafts tents, blow-up rides for kids, a music festival and the big finale – fireworks!

On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to approve a complete separation from England. Two days later, the early draft of the Declaration of Independence was signed. Four days later, members of Congress took the document and read it out loud from the steps of Independence Hall, proclaiming it to the city of Philadelphia, and afterwards they rang the Liberty Bell. The inscription on the top of the bell is Leviticus 25:10, which reads, "Proclaim liberty throughout the land....."

I caught that “proclaim liberty” scripture and decided to be liberated yesterday. I had no preconceived idea about what that was going to look like – but if I didn’t venture out of my comfort zone, how would I know? First, I meandered through the tents and right away I won that cute scarf and water sprayer -- thanks, God, You know I need that when I'm feeding the animals on a hot day!) Then I went to the artisans’ tents and saw their beautiful artistry. I was in awe of their talents. One artisan stopped me in my tracks. She was a lovely woman with an incredible gift of making jewelry. She explained her "discovery" of jewelry making and the joy it brought her. Our conversation didn’t stop there. She opened up about how much she missed her grandparents who had passed on. She shared that when her grandparents saw the potential off-the-course way their daughter may take their granddaughter, they asked to purchase her. The daughter asked “How much?” The offer pleased her and the daughter was sold to them. It sounds like a sad story but in reality, that little girl turned out to be this lovely woman. We talked about God’s sweet ways of comforting us. When I told her about the passing of my husband, she became worried and said, “Oh no! I can’t imagine losing my husband. I don’t think I could make it!” I said, “Oh, yes you would!” I reassured her that if the time came, God would be there and she would be able to make it. I knew, this was a divine set-up for her and me. I gave her my blog web address because we're going to stay in touch. What if I had chosen to stay home?

Along the way, I met other talented artisans and basked in their talents. I was inspired to write this blog today to help my dear, reclusive, preferring-to-live-behind-closed-shades-and-doors friends – those of you who have lost a loved one or who have been hurt by some of life’s painful situations and circumstances and you just don’t think you can go on. You just don’t want to face people – never mind – facing what the future may hold for you. Yesterday was America's Independence Day. May I be bold, my beloved friends, widows, widowers, single or hurting from the pain of the past – to tell you it’s time to declare YOUR “Independence” Day. It’s time to stop living in the bondage and strongholds of the enemy who wishes to steal and rob you of joy, peace and happiness. You’ll never be free if you stay there. “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36.

We have freedom in Christ through His death on the cross – free from sin, death and all the devices of the enemy to steal from us. That includes freedom from so many things that we experience here and now in our day-to-day life. We have freedom from being harassed by Satan and we don’t have to listen to his lies and accusations about all kinds of things. We are free to resist him and when he tries to get to us, we just resist him, get on a nice outfit, put on a perky face, and step out into the sunlight of Jesus love and light. We will have none of those lies and we will have freedom to be free. God is incredibly good to give us so much freedom in Christ. If we use it right we will come to peace, joy, and righteousness in all that we do.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

God Bless America – Land of the Free – Home of the Brave

Happy 4th of July aka Independence Day! And, it's Happy Birthday, America Party Day -- the birth of Democracy! You're looking good, America, to be 243 years old! And what a way to celebrate -- with fireworks, parades, concerts, family get-togethers and barbecues!

Others will celebrate by staying at home with life-as-usual. For some, it may be to tune in to the evening news because, after all, we must see the latest political entertainment. I keep hoping and praying people will settle down and learn to respect each other – to “do unto others as they would have others do unto them”. I wonder if our forefathers had this kind of “independence” in mind when they crafted the Declaration of Independence. That historical moment occurred as a result of wise, committed leaders and followers pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to establish a foundation where a nation and its people could build their families and future. It came as the result of those seeking the right to worship the living Creator God without restraint from any earthly power, and the right of all citizens to pursue their hopes and dreams with liberty while exercising personal responsibility.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Don’t you love that excerpt from the Declaration of Independence? Democracy was born on this day 243 years ago on July 4th, 1776. Just think of those freedoms that we have that we take so lightly. No wonder thousands leave their homeland in the quest to come to the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. I know immigration laws had to be created because of abuses, but, don’t we need to thank God that we were either born here or were able to immigrate here? Isn't it time we show our gratitude and appreciation to be Americans?

Think about it. This country became prosperous and strong on the backs of immigrants who were yearning to breathe free. This country has always been a beacon of hope, liberty, and freedom. No wonder so many desire to live here. All over the world people dream of a “home” where the government protects them and not abuses them; where people are not punished for what they think or say or write.

The future of freedom is in our hands and rests on our shoulders. Freedom must not die on our watch. If it does, it will be by our own hand because people who claim faith in God remain uninformed, indifferent, and uninvolved. We will have handed freedom over to the destroyer of life and liberty. God forgive us if we do! By prayerfully and boldly uniting together we can celebrate the rebirth of freedom rather than witness the death of it. The future is in our hands. Now is the time to stand up and be counted!

My hope this 4th of July is that we all stop to appreciate our freedoms. I hope and pray that we all begin to think about how we can work together to solve problems, be a part of the solution, not part of the political divide, and promote respect and dignity for all. Remember, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall." I wish you all a happy and healthy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Going to His Houses for a Pick-Me-Up

I amuse myself when I consider what kind of over-the-top, super-Jesus-fanatic I must seem like to those who don’t take their faith walk quite as seriously as I do. I love hanging out with those who talk the same talk and walk the same walk that I do. You know us. Those “Praise the Lord!”, “Thank you, Jesus!”, “Praise God!” cliche-speaking people who take attending church so seriously that we get there at least 30 minutes early to find the closest seats to the front. We’re the ones who attend Bible studies, retreats and serve on ministry and outreach teams. We just can't carry on a conversation without interjecting something about God’s goodness and even quoting a scripture or two. Besides, I know that we BECOME who we hang out with. So I make sure I'm hanging out with loving, kind, compassionate, brilliant, passionate, alive and giving people.

So, on Sunday, I went to two filling-stations for a pick-me-up! First, I attended Life Austin, a non-denominational church where Randy Phillips of the Gospel recording group, Phillips, Craig and Dean, is the pastor. I got caught up in the wonderful music and praise. Then the message on love gave me more reasons to love myself so I can love others stronger. The scripture reference was “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Mark 12:39)

I left that service and headed to Emmaus Church where, as you enter the property, you see the statutes of Jesus and the two disciples who were walking on the road to Emmaus. Quickly, you're reminded of the scene of them not recognizing Jesus until He broke bread with them. That is what we do when we break bread in Holy Communion. And I love the enormous cross with Jesus ascending to heaven statute in the sanctuary. I rejoiced in our risen Lord when we sang Hillsong’s “Shout to the Lord all the earth, let us sing”. The pastor spoke on -- guess what! “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” I think God was impressing that message to me. Pastor Samuel shared that the disciples wanted Jesus to rain down fire on the Samaritans and Jesus was so incensed at the disciples’ attitude that he rebuked them for their intolerance and unacceptance of the Samaritans. He urged them to love others. (Luke 9:54) Pastor Samuel said, “It doesn’t sound too different than what our country is like today – intolerant of each other and, quite frankly, we would even like God to rain down fire on those who don’t agree with us." I heard God's "love" message loud and clear!

The "icing on the cake" came at the end. The children just finished their “God is Good” VBS (the same as ours in Frisco) and the children sang their theme song for the congregation. It was worth my efforts to be with God’s people this Sunday morning. It was raining outside and it was raining showers of blessings and bucketloads of God’s faithfulness on me on the inside. Indeed, “I was glad when they said unto me ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1).

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Time Flies When We’re Having Fun

It’s official. Today, July 2nd is the 183rd day of the year -- the official middle of the year. Six months have already passed in 2019. It makes me think – how fast time does fly for me these days – compared to my youth when the time went by so slowly for school to end for the summer, or the long-awaited vacation trip we were going to take, or until Christmas would finally get here, or for reaching the double-digit age of 10, or 13 – a teenager, 16 – to be able to drive. It was taking so long before our planned wedding date in September to get here when I would be at least 18 and my sweetheart would be 19, but we couldn’t wait that long – so we moved it up to July 8th – and my mom had to sign for me to get married at 17. And, then, what seemed the longest wait EVER -- nine long months to pass before the birth of our babies!

You know the saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun!” I had a lot of fun as a kid, but time sure didn’t fly for me. We don’t get to hit a “reset button”, but we DO get to start each new day with the wisdom and knowledge we gained from the past. We're the pilot on this flight and in many ways, it is like a RESET button. Each experience – good and bad, has equipped us to be better, do better and appreciate time more.

I know for young whippersnappers, you think it will be a very long time before you get to my ripe, mature age. I was you. I thought my Aunt Lillie Mae, when she turned age 50, was the oldest old gal ever. And, actually, 50, back then, just did look and act older than we do today. I assure you when I turned 50, I was way too young to act old and you know what, that’s the way I feel at this 70-year mark. I can hardly believe that I could be that number. But, I don’t dwell on age, though I do notice that others seem to respect that age for me as my boys are quick to help me out of the car or carry packages for me. I like that it is respected and I own it! I dwell on living large with every fiber of my being. I’ve said it before…I’ll say it again: “I’m not giving up until I’m taken up!” And whether that is today, tomorrow, or years from now, I will live on purpose to be a devoted follower of Christ from sun-up until sun-down each day and squeeze everything I can out of this life God gave me.

This is the dawn of a new day, today. I know one thing for sure -- we can’t live in the past, and the future isn’t ours to predict. But, we can make minutes, hours and days really count for what matters most. I speak a lot about it, but I repeat, treasure THIS day – make memories for yourself and someone else. Take lots of pictures. I do. I treasure them. Live as if there were no tomorrow. Spread sunshine. Give love and laughter and life to those who need an injection of fun, faith, and friendship. The BAD news -- time flies, but the GOOD news, we're the pilot in the hands of the MASTER PILOT!

And, I assure you, if indeed “Time flies when you’re having fun”, then I must be having a blast!”

Psalm 118:24 "This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it."

Monday, July 1, 2019

My Two Countries Celebrate Their Independence

Today is Canada Day. I join our Canadian family and friends in singing their national anthem! “O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command. With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North strong and free! From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.” We sang those words many times when we lived there. I am so pleased to wish all my Canadian family and friends: “A very Happy Canada Day!”

Both of our two North American countries are celebrating their national holidays this week. Canada Day is July 1st and, of course, our U.S. Independence Day is Thursday, July 4th. Sorry, Britain, you’re not invited to these parties. In Canada, July 1st commemorates the 1867 formation of the Dominion of Canada, when the British colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada united and became a “kingdom in its own right.” This was an important step toward the eventual passing of the 1982 Constitution Act, making Canada a fully-fledged nation independent from Britain.

Our U.S. holiday was a large step toward independence from Britain. Pretty decisive, in fact. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress at the Pennsylvania State House in the midst of the Revolutionary War. In1783 the colonies won true independence from Britain, and it took until the end of the War of 1812 before the two countries could be allies.

Canada and the U.S. celebrate similarly with fireworks and barbeques. I celebrate both of these days because they really are beloved countries to me. U.S. gave me ME! And, Canada gave me my sweetheart! I'll admit I'm a little nostalgic today -- thus these photos of special times in Canada.

I am so grateful that I married a Canadian who stayed Canadian with great pride and honor for his native land. His family became my family and his country became my country. I sincerely meant it when I said in my wedding vows, from Ruth 1:16-17 “Wherever you go, I will go, Wherever you dwell, I will dwell; Your people will be my people, And your God will be my God.”

And, go with Him, I did. I was proud to live there, serve and work for an incredible university, The University of Manitoba, to be a member of many organizations: President of Women's Aglow, member of the German/American Club, Canadian Real Estate Board, and see our girl become Miss Winnipeg and go on to the Miss Canada Pageant and to be Canada's representative in the Coca Cola World Chorus at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. She's on the top row by David Foster. Our son’s entrepreneurial spirit and talents were etched in stone there where he got his official kick-start in business. We still have life-long friends and beloved family members there.

So, today, I’m singing "Oh Canada" which became as precious to me as my own "Star Spangled Banner". I'm grateful that my children have dual citizenships with the U.S. and Canada. Canada opened its doors to our family in so many ways and I just want to say, "Thank you, Canada, for your friendship, your patriotism, your pride of country and your willingness to partner with the U.S. in so many strategic efforts. God bless you....from sea to shining sea. God keep your land, glorious and free. Oh Canada we stand on guard for thee!"

Sunday, June 30, 2019

My Rolling in the Hay Adventures

Not only do I blog every day, but I also write in my journal the highlights of each day -- the "God" encounters, the strange, the off-kilter, the wacky, and the wild adventures. Truly I amuse myself. Believe me, I have plenty to write about -- even outside of my normal routine. A couple of weeks ago I volunteered at the "Roar" VBS which spotlighted the wild exploits of jungle animals and in our Faith Station where I was a co-leader, we taught about the wild adventures that took place in the Bible.

Those Bible adventures carry on in the wild adventures I take on when I take care of my family's critters: 8 hens; 2 ducks, a huge longhorn, 8 goats, 3 donkeys, a dog and a cat, plus the wildlife (note the wild turkeys that showed up a couple of days ago) AND all the varmints that lurk in the dark at night.

I read my journal for this date a year ago and I was here, like this time, while the family was on their summer vacation. Oh my! Here's an excerpt: "OMG -- again! I went to check on the chickens and get in the eggs, and lo and behold, two hens were outside the pen. Blistering hot outside and they were running from me. Finally, one flew to the top of the wall and I chased her back into the pen and the other, I finally lasted longer than she did and caught her. Thank you, Lord, for strength in this day!" Here I am one year later saying "Bring it on, girls and boys!" Now we know that those hen girls regularly fly out of the pen for a little adventure of their own, but they fly back in. Now we give them a little leeway and they always come home where they belong. There's just no place like home!

Sometimes it’s a good thing to explore and experience some out-of-the-box times that produce growth, some new muscle, new insight, and a fresh new perspective. When I take on the care of these animals, it is definitely out of my comfort zone. Last year, I knew those animals sensed my trepidation. The goats and donkeys took advantage of me, the novice farm-hand, by overpowering my obvious inexperience. And then some of the chickens escaped under the fence and I was chasing them -- pardon the pun -- like a chicken with her head cut off. And if you didn’t know, chickens are fast. I’m sure you would have been greatly entertained if you had seen me. I finally cornered them and took them home, and then commenced to haul over rocks to the fence to cover the just-big-enough-to-escape holes. This time it’s easy-peasy. Note my relaxing morning devotion location and sweet Bentley, their Havanese dog who is my side-kick!

I am so pleased to report that my mentality changed from “out-of-sync” to “I’ll show you who's boss” this year! It’s smooth, calm and in-sync here at Old Mac-Donna’s farm. In fact, I think I’ve conquered any fears or concerns. The bigger animals respect me when I come out with their feed bowls. Now, I have a well-thought-out plan that calmly separates them, respectfully, at meal-time. They love it when I scratch their heads and backs. The ducks and chickens are behaving like well-behaved critters (instead of “gangsters” like I called those who escaped their pen last year), and those mama hens are producing a lot of eggs for me – so yummy! There’s nothing like fresh eggs.

I am so blessed to have a “King David” moment (1 Samuel 30:6) when he encouraged himself. I encourage myself by God's words about “taking dominion” in Genesis 1:28. “And God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” I muster up that dominion attitude with wisdom and strength and an empowered mindset. I take matters into my hands that are empowered by God's strong and mighty hands and even celebrate His marvelous creation – His critters and His masterfully designed scenic view! Life is good because God is good. All the time.