Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thy Word I Have Hidden In My Heart...

...that I might not sin against Thee. (Ps 119:11). Problem is, I hid the wrong Words. I hid the "thou shalt nots" instead of the "HE wills". I know all the things I'm supposed to do, but weak on the things HE says HE does. This is just as (if not more) sinful against Him. Fortunately, He is merciful. I hid those words, but too often I hid them too well and can't find them easily. But the "thou shalt nots" are in plain view. Of course, my immediate reaction is that I need to better "organize" the Word so I can find what I need when I need them. Again, the emphasis on the I - "thou shalt file God's Word in thy heart in such a way it can be retrieved within 30 seconds of when thou needs it" - forgetting "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words". Wonderful Counselor, Author and Finisher of our faith, these I add my own paltry contribution - Most Wise and Able File Clerk.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Message from Dog

When Grace (the dog) first came to live with me, she was withdrawn. She'd been abused and abandoned and did not trust me. She hung back and didn't interact with me very much. It took a few weeks of reliable feedings, a lot of affection, and some discipline before her true (graceful) personality came out.

I remember the moment I knew she'd reached the turning point. She did something wrong and I gave her a stern "No". Instead of fearfully slinking away, she walked to her crate, plopped down with with a "Hrmph" and then started muttering under her breath. I'm not sure what she was saying, but I think it was some sort of canine complaining.

Dora was also abandoned and abused. When she was delivered to my home, she had to be carried in, fighting to get away the entire trip down the sidewalk and up the front steps. She definitely had trust issues. With plenty of patient love and regular feedings, she eventually didn't distrust me. I use those words deliberately, because she didn't' trust me, either.

Just from her expressions (yes, dogs have them) I knew she was a dog that longed for affection; she was the type of dog that would love to cuddle.

I'm not ashamed to admit my dogs sleep with me (I owe the Peoria Pair another 14 Things). Once Dora collected enough courage to climb in bed with Grace and I, she laid on top of the blankets; yet, I sensed she was a "burrower". I knew she'd love to climb under a load of blankets and nestle beside me, if she could get past her fear. I think the reason she didn't though was because she was afraid of being trapped.

It took a long time, but I knew she'd successfully navigated a crossroads when she started climbing under the blankets. She trusted me to protect for her in case the boogie man came after her some night.

I see parallels between the dogs' relationship with me and my relationship with God. Like Grace, when I'm disciplined I slink back in fear. Like Dora, I crave the affection and cuddling He offers, but I don't trust Him enough to believe He will protect me; I think I have to take care of myself.

I love Grace and Dora and because of this love - MY love for them - I've seen them grow; I've seen their true, sweet personalities emerge and had the gift of their affection returned. As I observe their growth, I believe there is hope for me, because God's love for me is much greater than the love I can ever have for my dogs. There will be a time when I will not slink back in fear when disciplined. I'll be able to go about my life without looking over my shoulder planning how to defend myself against some attack, because I know my (very strong) Father is watching over me. I'll be able to rest peacefully in His embrace.

Until that time, however, I have to be content with the true hope that I'm making progress, slow as it may be.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Odd Sighting of the Day

I was walking through the lobby of the hospital (Hamot) when I saw on TV Martha Stewart cooking mashed potatoes with...Snoop Dogg. I was (and still am) flabbergasted.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Life as a Pincushion

I have a relatively easy life. No life threatening situations stabbing me. No horrible crises piercing me like arrows. My daily troubles are pin pricks, in comparison. But there are so many pins aimed my way. It seems everywhere I turn there's another pin pointed directly at my soul. Some of these pins are larger and wound deeper than others and inflict more pain. Though none produce deadly blood loss, I am weakened by "tear loss". The stabs and jabs hurt me, distract me, confuse and disorient me. Sometimes I think it would be easier to face a guillotine once than to face thousands of little needles each day.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

He Knows if You've Been XXX or Good

I remember a time when my father took me to the local catholic school to register me for first grade. The teacher had all the children draw a picture. To this day, over 40 years later, I remember the picture I drew. I was on earth doing something or another and in heaven there were angels keeping track of what I did. They were tallying up my good deeds and my bad. I even remember that the number of tick marks in the "good" column outnumbered the bad.

Knowing all I do about salvation, redemption, etc; despite all the sermons I've heard and books I've read, I still live my life as if this picture were true. I live with this nagging fear that the numbers won't add up in my favor.

I've been a list maker for as long as I can remember (even back in kindergarten) and I've rarely finished the items on my lists. Perhaps, because I keep adding to them. I think, if I've completed all these tasks, then surely I must have missed something so I add more things to do. There's always something more I could have, should have done.

Upon reflection, I realize that old picture was only half right (and half wrong). My deeds have been tallied, but when I came to Jesus the "bad" list was destroyed. My "good" list may not be as long as it could/should have been, but who's is? And because of Jesus, the numbers always add up in my favor.

Amazing grace...I once was lost, but now only the list is.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Payday for Miss Barb

About 6-7 years ago, I was heading somewhere with the Barblings and their mom. We stopped for a quick dinner at the McDonald's drive-through, where Barbling #3 (age approx 3-4 years old) ordered her usual - a plain cheeseburger.

Unfortunately, McDonald's put pickles on the burger, which caused some turmoil. #3 asked her mother to remove the dreaded pickles from her burger, but Mom had to decline, as driving the van was a higher priority, at the time.

I told #3 I would help her in her time of need. As she handed the stricken patty to me, she said "Miss Barb, I'll pay you a penny to take off my pickles. A penny and a kiss."

It was the best paying job I've ever had!