Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Light in Darkness

I can't see my chocolate labs in the darkness.  I once bought a blinking light to keep on Nay's collar so I always knew exactly where she might be when I stepped outside.  I just needed a glimpse of where she might be and I'd feel okay, I knew she was safe and in the yard.

I think of so many suffering this time of year.  My co-worker just told me that his friend went to Michigan this morning to bury his mother who died over the weekend.  I know the hospitals are filled with those close to their own death.  And then there are those that are dying inside.  Hurting and in pain.  Families that are shaken by financial, physical and personal problems. 

How can this time of year, we call Christmas truly be celebrated? I believe it is because of the Light in the darkness.  It is the Light in the darkness that guides us, and the Light in the darkness that comforts us when we feel we are lost.  It is the Light that brings warmth when needed. 

Sometimes I like to sit and stare at the Christmas tree.  People drive miles to neighborhoods to stare at lights.  There is something about the light in darkness that brings joy, hope, and in the quiet of the night peace.

I pray that this Christmas, no matter where you are in life, that you find the true Light of the World, Jesus and celebrate and search the joy and peace only He can bring.

Merry Christmas,


Debbie

Monday, October 31, 2011

Little Yellow Monsters


 
 
Yellow monsters are brought to me on a regular basis.  Zeke and Nay like the little guys.  The ones that squeak live on the fire place mantle most of the time but the ones that don't squeak anymore get to live in the baskets and under the bed.  These little yellow monsters have the longest life of all the dog toys.  The stuffies (stuffed animals) never last long and we find pieces of the poor stuffies all around the house.  The little yellow monsters may get torn a little but they tend to live a long life.   Zeke brings them to me, I throw them.  Zeke brings them to me, I throw them.  Zeke brings them to me, I throw them....over and over and over again.

Monsters under the bed.  Monsters in the closet.  In my childhood mind it wasn't about the monsters as much as it was about what I couldn't see from where I sat on my bed.  My imagination took over and what I feared is not the monster but more "what I could not see".

We all have little yellow monsters in our life, creeping up on a regular basis.  We take them and throw them out of our lives and yet they show up again.  It is constant surrender, taking these little yellow monsters and ridding our lives of them.
.
And so we "fear" what we cannot see, and yet we do not "faith" what we cannot see.  Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  

Evidence is usually considered tangible.  Things you can touch, things you can see and yet faith is called evidence.  Evidence is for proof.  Evidence usually tells a story.  And this faith is evidence, it is evidence of things not seen.  Faith and hope remind me of two hands with fingers intertwined, swinging back and forth with happiness. Faith is the substance of things hoped for...so it is like the ingredient that makes up hope. So I have hope but I can't have hope without faith. The object of faith?  God. 

It is our God that performs miracles.  I don't imagine God measures the miracles like we do but in our finite human minds may I say HE performs little miracles, big miracles, all kinds of miracles.  We have to have faith in God because it is God that performs, that works, that moves, that changes.

We let little yellow monsters of fear, doubt, sadness, shame, guilt, unbelief, self-sufficiency, selfishness, anger...and so many other little yellow monsters and we cast them out over and over again.  And we fear what we cannot see.  Doubt what could be.We have to let faith take over.  Faith that is of a God that conquers and defeats. 

May we not let what cannot be seen create fear, but rather encourage faith. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Soak Up the Sunshine

I just love seeing the sunshine pour over a sleeping lab.  Sometimes I even hear him snore a little. Resting almost as comfortable as he would on the couch he is not suppose to be on.  My labs like the sunshine.  I am not sure if it is the warmth of it, or possibly the happiness of it.   Maybe it is both.

When Nay has been on the porch for so long she'll come in and I can feel the warmth of the sunshine where it soaked into her fur.  I rub her down and she does that "lab speak", almost a mumbling of thank you's coming from her.   She settles in for as much love as I am willing to give her, for as long as I am willing to give it to her. 

We are affected in this life by family, friends, and other loved ones.  We are affected by work and church.  Sometimes there is drama in our days, conflict with others and stress over finances.  We allow ourselves to be congested with media, music, television to pass the time, to relax.


So much affect our days, hours and minutes and we neglect to stop and soak up the sunshine.  Literally, soak up the sunshine.  Feel the warmth of the sun as it rests on us through the car window.  See the brightness of light as it peaks through the curtains in the morning.  See God's creation.  See God's gifts.  Really, for me it is seeing God in the details and soaking it up.  I am often busy balancing my checkbook that I miss the other gifts in life. I don't settle in to soak up the sunshine.  To know and feel and be aware of the love that God pours over me.  I am too busy wanting and needing that I am not busy enough ACCEPTING what He is already giving me.  




Friday, October 7, 2011

Seeing Hope


It starts with finding one sock and rummaging through the drawer for the matching one.  My tennis shoes are pulled off the shelf and I sit, lacing them up one at a time, making sure they are tight enough to run in but not so tight it hurts me.

Zeke observes.  Zeke knows.  Zeke anticipates. Those shoes, those are my masters walking shoes.  His ears perk up and he wiggles his way to my side, rubbing up against me to express his enthusiasm, his excitement of the walk he's about to take. 

Zeke saw the signs.  In Zeke's canine mind they were signs of a good thing to come.  He had hope. 

And so through this life I stumble, deep breathes as I trudge ahead.  Shoulders dropped, head down, moving forward.  I forget to lift my head, look around, see the signs of hope.  God has placed them all around me.  In the early morning as the sun begins to rise, a sign of the new day.  In the evening, the dawn turns into dark, revealing the sparkling jewels in the sky.  When the summer was dry and the grass was brown, when the rain came.  I didn't see the green. The rain was the sign of things to come.  I blink and it seems my lawn is bright green in the dead of fall.  I should see the signs of hope. The spattering of rain against the glass window, being soaked up by the dry earth.  With each rain, a different shade of green.

My journal laying beside my Bible.  The notes I scribbled from Pastor's messages. the black letters of  hope.  The promises in the large black leather Book.  Messages of hope. 

I had gone on vacation in August and the flowers had died.  I yanked them out of the pot.  Days later, the fall rain God has graced us with, brought forth green.  More flowers, still growing.  Signs of hope.

What do we hope for?  Money, things, places, people.  We hope for so much but really our hope is in the Lord.  Through the Lord is our satisfaction.  He's giving us signs all around, reminding us each day.  In looking for hope you will find God, in all His glory, looking right at you.  Sovereign and in control.  Knowing that what He has for you today......is enough.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Testing the Boundaries

I walked Zeke two nights in a row.  He's been to doggy boot camp.  Our trainer (and yes I say "our" because Jeff had to train both myself and Zeke) told me that Zeke has been imprinted with what to do and how to behave.  He's a sneaky dog though.  Sometimes, he likes to walk just "a head" in front of me when he's suppose to be right beside me or just behind.  He's smart though, he knows not to go so far as to start pulling.  It's interesting this game he played tonight.  Getting ahead but not so far ahead that I just barely miss being able to correct him.  He's not usually like this.  He's usually obedient and takes little correction but tonight....he decided to test the boundaries.

In this life we are tested and sometimes God allows us to get ahead of Him.  We often find it exciting at first, bouncing along like Zeke did, glancing back once in a while to see if He's still there.  What ends up happening is something makes us uncomfortable and we got to get back to our safe zone, to the side of our Master.  Jeff, the trainer, told me that it is important that I establish leadership with Zeke.  He gave me examples on how to do so and he proceeded to tell me that it helps Zeke understand his role in the "pack" and helps him relax instead of being stressed out over it.  (Because if you've ready my blog long enough, he is not alpha material!)   It is a lot of pressure to lead, to make decisions that can affect long term.  That is why we need to let God be the leader, let God guide the way, let God weave us through the streets of life.  The pressure is off, the stress is gone, we find our safe place....slowly move to the side of our Master as He takes care of us.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Running to God

I was a school teacher.  I was a school teacher ten years ago on September 11, 2001.  I didn't know how to react and I didn't quite understand what was going on when people told me what was happening.  I couldn't visualize the planes and the buildings.  I had my students sitting in front of me and I was at the point where I had to figure out what to do, how to act, what to teach.  The seniors had explained to me the buildings as they had been to New York.  It was incomprehensible.

It was incomprehensible until I found myself in front of the television that night.  It was heartbreaking.  It was confusing.  It was enough to make one angry at all the very innocent lives that were taken.  It was.....terrifying

I remember the faces of those kids in my class that day.  I see where they are in their lives today.  Some of them are married with children. Some have careers.  Some have or are serving their country.  I did not know that day on September 11, 2001 that some of those young people would go across the world and serve our country.  To fight terror.  I am so very proud of those that have sacrificed.  That have stood face to face with the pains and terrors of war.

The only thing I wish we could relive is the way I felt like we were all RUNNING TO GOD.  Confused, scared, upset....many in our country turned to God for answers, for security, for intercession, and some...for salvation.  Running can be a beautiful picture.  When Zeke runs to me it is in eager anticipation of love and attention.  Running is sometimes created by fear as you run away from some things.  Running TO something or someone is an act that below the surface..within the heart has so much emotion and so much expectation.

I pray that I can always be near to God and when I am not near, I am RUNNING, I am seeking the great God I so greatly need.  I pray our country will RUN to God.  That as we look back on ten year ago, a day so difficult to describe, a day that when I browse pictures and stories I am choked up with overwhelming emotions....that when we look back, America runs to God.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Who Are You Waiting On?


My labs wait for me.  It is a form of love and trust.  One that was built when I began providing for them. For Nay Nay, our rescue lab, I provided food, love, shelter, good health....I met her most basic needs.  She was starved and recovering from heart worms. It took a lot of time for Nay to trust us but as the months past the bond become greater.  For Zeke, as a puppy the bond happened instantly.  The provisions were the same and for most of his life he has known no other master.  My labs know I provide and so they wait for me.  They don't look to the neighbor for provision....though they wouldn't turn a treat down!  When Zeke needs to go outside he waits silently at the door.  When Nay wants water she waits by the empty bowl.

So who are you waiting on?  We wait on so many things and so many people.  We wait on our family, but our family is human and not always in full understanding of our needs.  We wait on our friends, but they can't always be there for us.  We wait on those in leadership, but they don't love us like the One that we should be waiting on loves us.

There is One who is holy, righteous, full of grace, ever-loving.....that we wait upon.  For when we wait upon the Holy One, we have nothing to be weary of, we have nothing to be fearful of, we have nothing to be needful of.  The Holy One knows our hearts and most basic needs.  The Holy One knows our fears and doubts. The Holy One knows our hopes and desires.....the Holy One knows....knows everything about us.

I was taking photos of my Bible to use as "wallpaper" on something I was working on.  I wanted a passage that was inspiring and common and when I found myself at Isaiah 40, I snapped a picture to include verse 31.  Before long I found myself meditating upon it.  I found myself saving it as my screen saver.  I found myself being inspired by a passage I have heard for years.  I asked myself, do I wait on the Lord?  To wait on the Lord is freedom....as soaring like an eagle....imagine being as an eagle, taking flight in the sky that knows no limits.  Freedom.


"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they small mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."  - Isaiah 41:31

Monday, August 15, 2011

Saturday Mornings

video
In case you wonder what Saturday mornings are like in our home with two labs here you go!  I know, Zeke needs to lose weight but he's been working on it by running laps. Yes Nay is sassy but can you blame her? The younger one gets on her nerves.  I thought it would be nice for those of you who read my blog to actually see the scoundrels in action. 

Even though the action can be a bit wild I love Saturday mornings.  Hanging out in the living room in the "somewhat quiet" of the morning.  Catching up on old TV shows.  No schedule.  I might even curl up on the couch and take a mid-morning nap. 

For Zeke and Nay Saturday mornings are a time for entertainment.  I am there to feed them, give them treats, play ball....give them time.  They are happy.  Time is really one of the most precious things God gives us.  He gives it to us to enjoy our family and friends, to enjoy leisure time, to enjoy playing time....to enjoy life.  It is important that during the time He gives us to give time back to Him.  The little things that I enjoy at the end of my week on Saturday mornings cannot compare to the great things I will enjoy at the end of this life. The treasures.  The delights.  The time I give to Him each day, throughout the week, will continue to strengthen me on the journey of life. Just like Saturday mornings offer refreshment.....time with God does much for the soul.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Who's the Boss of Me?

For those of you who have been wondering, I have been on blog vacation.  Partway into July I just decided to take a break.  But, I am back to share my many stories of chocolate.

This brown dog, with the ball in his mouth, somehow he has become the boss of me instead of the reverse.  We are doing all we can to change that.  It is a lot of work and patience but slowly I am taking charge.  He desperately needs socialization because when he is in public he is often scared easily and when he's on his own property he likes to tell passers by how it is.

I really like to be my own boss.  I am very forgiving of my own mistakes and very demanding of my own self.  I reason within quite well.  I am my own best friend.  I always win the fight.  Being my own boss seems pretty easy.  Really, though I have to grasp that I cannot control my happenings.  If Zeke could be in control of everything he'd have many bones, fuzzy blankets, endless food....he'd be a glutton.  Instead I am really his boss.  I decide when and if he eats.  I decide if he can go outside. When he is outside I decide whether or not he is allowed to charge the boundaries....well....we are working on that last part, it's still hit and miss  much to the neighbors' dismay!

It takes a lot of work to get him to remember I am his boss.  God often has to work too hard to remind me He is my boss.  It is not necessarily because I don't obey His will, but maybe sometimes because I get like Zeke and forget who is in control, who will provide my need.  I need a Boss because if I am in control of my own life, well it would be all out of control!


 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Give and Take, Take and Give

If you are a true dog lover, you understand why I have two chocolate labs living INSIDE my house.  There are days where it gets kind of crazy.  We have this room in our house that we can lock the dogs in and Steve has named it "The War Room".  Oh, and boy do these dogs war in there.  Barking, playing, jumping....thankfully that's the room with the Big Lots couch from my single days. 

Tug-of-war is a popular game with the labs.  Nay is small but she can hold her own.  Sometimes she thinks because she's louder she's bigger.  Zeke loves to play, he'll come up to Nay and hold the toy over her and when she reaches for it....snap..his head turns the other way.  For them, it's a game of giving and taking, of taking and giving.

I sure do know how to play that game well!  "Okay God, I give this to you...oh wait I take it back!"  We think if we can control things ourselves that we can fix it but then we have to realize that's just not true.  Our God knows best and does best.  It's not always easy to see Him in all things, you have to look for it.  We have to know what to give to God and what to take from Him.  It's simple really because he takes our burdens and gives us the blessings.  Our part is to surrender to it all.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thinking


She's staring.  Nay is staring.  I wonder what she is looking for at times.  A few rabbits have been known to grace our yard and a squirrel will sometimes find itself on our deck.  (That particular squirrel is so large it could be a small dog!)  I know occasionally a wind may blow a leaf across the yard and though Zeke will bark at it asking it "how dare you come in our yard!", Nay will see it for what it is, a leaf. 

Nay can sit for hours, staring out the window.  She is most often excited by seeing other dogs and sometimes people.  More than anything she is just content to watch.  I can't help but wonder what is going through her mind?  What is she thinking?

We all have moments of reflection.  It is often the end of the day when we lay our head down to sleep.  We become alone with our thoughts.  We think through our day, our week and at what lies ahead.  Humanly speaking, I am always trying to figure out, for myself, how to fix things. My thoughts stumble over one another as I reason my way through my life.  Reasoning with why things happen, what God is teaching me, what is my role, what is my action, why in this place, what is His plan?   

I have been deeply intrigued by the fact that God thinks.  I think of how my own thoughts dart in so many directions and I wonder how God's thoughts are laid out. Just to think that God "thinks" amazes me.  That God ponders and thinks of me.  To imagine how His thoughts, a divine and righteous God, are laid out. Isaiah 55:8 He says "For my thoughts are not your thoughts."  Isaiah 55:9 he says "my ways [are] higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." 

Through this truth we can find comfort.  We can allow our own thoughts to rest in that God is acting for us. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Needy Me Pt. 2

So I took it upon myself to commune.  I have a 50 minute drive to work and today I turned off the radio and tried to clear my mind of all but God.  I found myself mentally complaining, worrying and then redirecting my thoughts back to the simplicity of a sovereign God.  Not too much time would pass and I would find myself distracted by traffic, trees, and yes, even roadkill.  So, once again, like a distracted child...I redirected my thoughts to God.  I was talking to God about things.

Do you know when it became simple to keep my thoughts on God?  When I looked at the flowers (that some call weeds) on the side of the road and I saw God in it, and I thanked Him for it.  When I noticed the temperature was just right for the morning, and I saw God in it, and I thanked Him for it.  Suddenly the things that bog us down each day...chores, bills, time....did not seem so important anymore.

Today I think of those who found out their child has cancer.  Today I think of those who found out their home is being taken away.  Today I think of God, who sustains, supplies, supports, and stands with His children.  And so I talk to Him.  I don't want to think of those who have it "worse" to make myself feel better, instead I now have to redirect my thoughts to think of those things I do have in my life to be grateful for.  Communing with God isn't just about asking....it is about thanking, praising and rejoicing in who He is and who He can make me be.

Needy me.  Like Zeke I depend on One to feed and provide for me.  I depend on One to love me.  I must find myself loving Him, knowing Him, seeking Him, talking to Him....I must find myself communing at His throne.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Needy Me

My dogs rarely "cuddle" with each other.  Frankly, Nay just isn't interested. I  think in this picture she was too tired to move.  Zeke loves to cuddle and I believe if Nay would allow it they'd cuddle all the time.

Zeke needs A LOT of quality time.  He is needy.  That's why he always makes the blog stories.  Nay is a very laid back dog, and aside from her storm phobia and stubbornness she's the picture of a perfect dog.  I love her to pieces.  I do find though that Zeke needs lots of attention.  He cuddles me, lays at my feet, lays at the door I have closed, waits for me...he wants to be with me.

Recently I've been thinking about the time I spend with God.  I am so needy like Zeke, but I don't seek the attention I need.  I don't lay at God's feet, I don't cry out to Him, I don't seek after Him.  Sure, I mediate on His Word and His Promises, I worship Him...but do i talk to Him?  Not just the prayer said at the dinner table, or the prayer said after a long stressful discussion, or the prayer said in the church pew....but the prayer that you have, when all the world is quiet and you talk and commune with God.

I'm not talking that methodological prayer where you say all the "cliche" things people say.  You know..."if it be Your will", "please be with", "Lord I need", "thank you for what you've done"....now don't get me wrong, these are all good things and proper things....but what happened to good old-fashioned speaking your heart.  "God, you know how I hurt and worry and I know you say these promises but I don't understand."  Why do I make things up as if God doesn't know my heart already? Doesn't know my doubts already?  Doesn't know what I need already?

And, why oh why, do I not beg and ask God for blessing?  Why don't I lay in wait for Him. It's like I walk up to the throne of Grace, say what needs to be said, and walk away.  Why don't I lay at His feet?  Why don't I lay at His door? 

And so I leave this post with a challenge to the Christian.  Commune.  Share.  Cry.  He is waiting for you.  Get away from your "standard prayer" and really talk and share with God your heart.  After all, what's the point of knowing you are in a storm and that God will make you get through it...if you never even talk to the Master of the sea?

Talking to God isn't reserved for the difficult days, it is for the "every day".  Asking for blessing isn't just for when times are tough, it is for when times are good.  Commune.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thanks


Tonight is a night of thanks.   I think tonight of those that have been affected by disaster this year.  Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes...and so far I have only named natural disasters.  We are nearing the halfway point in 2011 and the constant flow of natural disaster will not stop.  I think of the many feet of snow and ice that hit this winter.  I think of the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand that seems ages ago but was just 3 months ago.  (February 22, 2011).  How, in a world of so much pain can we give thanks?

I have been  motivated by Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts to give thanks every day.  I call it "My Eucharisteo, My Journey of Thanks."  I make myself stop and thank God for something.   Sometimes I have to make myself look for it.  A ray of light in the window, a flower blooming in an unexpected place, dust...yes dust.  Sometimes though I find myself searching to see God in something when I am reminded that sometimes, God wants me to see him in nothing.  Sometimes, when all is stripped away it is so we can see Him.

I do not know why God allows disaster and I do not believe it is always made to "teach a lesson", but the truth is God always wants us learning.  God always wants us looking for Him.

I thank God for my day.  As I planted flowers in my small flower bed and spread mulch, I told myself no music, no ipod...just me, mulch, and God.  I felt if I could block out the congested sounds of this world I might be able to enjoy God in what was around me.  People talking, lawn mowers running, dogs barking, wind blowing, cars going by....and so I thank God for today.  For the simple things in life.  Smell of mulch that reminded me of my childhood in Japan, long summer lights that remind me of camping in the backyard as a child, the fact that I can get on my knees and crawl under a Japanese maple to spread mulch, watermelon on the back porch, warm fuzzy blanket, water, sunshine (even if it is peeking), love, family, memories.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Puddles

Zeke needs walking.  It is not just his extra 10 pounds but his behavior.  Tearing things up in the house, getting territorial, needy for attention.  With spring here I felt it was time to leash him up and take him out.  Monday night was the perfect night.  A storm had just passed and the evening was just cool enough to enjoy without a jacket. The wind was perfect. 

Since Zeke is leash training we do a lot of zig-zag.  (No special dance or anything.)  Walking from one side of the road to the other, circling the culd-e-sac so he can't figure out where I'm headed.  There was a moment in the evening when Zeke discovered puddles.  As we crossed from one sidewalk to the other....I moved directions quickly...leading him, he'd step in a puddle. After one puddle it suddenly became a game.  He'd get so excited that within just two bounds his ears would flop up in the air.  He was so excited with the splash.  Puddles created happiness.

I have never looked at a puddle as happiness.  I wasn't the kind of child splashing around in the rain so a puddle to me was...a puddle.  Rain pooled into one spot until the sun came out and dried it all up. 

After a storm passes we have puddles.  Residual storm so to speak.  Left overs.  A storm in life doesn't just pass over and "poof"....it's done and life can move on.  It leave behind reminders of grace. It leaves behind scars.  It leaves behind reminders of what God has done.  Your puddle may be sparkling in the sun or sitting by the drain with black gravel throughout.  But truthfully, your puddle is happiness. 

Like Zeke is willing to pass through a puddle eagerly and enjoy what the storm has left behind, enjoy your puddle and be reminded of what God has done.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Begging

Zeke begs in multiple ways. One way is by staring.  Wanting to go outside he might just sit at the door and stare.  Wanting to be pet or loved he might set his paw on my knee.  He has "pawed" since the first day we met him.  Watching us eat, well he will have lines of drool from his jowls to the floor.  The drool is NO exaggeration.  He has been lovingly nicknamed "Slobber Bobber" when he does that.

Recently when reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I was reminded of the Bible account of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32.  Sometimes when it has been a while that you've read a passage that is familiar to you, it is easy to forget the details.  God touches the hollow of Jacob's thigh.  He is breaking the strongest muscle and when God says "Let me go." Jacob says "I will not let thee go except thou bless me."  Even though Jacob had been broken, he didn't let go, he held on tight and he begged for blessing.

Sometimes in life I look to remain content.  To be satisfied no matter where my life stands...with or without difficulties, good and bad times.  God wants us to be content, but that doesn't mean we cannot beg for blessing.  To wrestle for it.  To not just "ASK" for it but to hold on tight and fight for it.  Have you asked?  Have you gone beyond asking and begged?  Have you gone beyond begging and wrestled for it?   I like that Jacob did. That even though God "touched the hollow of his thigh" he didn't let go, he begged for God's blessings and afterwards...he saw God's face, because when you see blessings, you see God.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Huggy Thing

Well, if you don't think I'm a bit crazy over my dogs by now...then this will make you sure of it.  Nay is afraid of thunderstorms so I bought her a thundershirt.  The idea behind it is that it applies pressure to relieve anxiety.  Now, if you've ever been around a dog that has severe storm phobia words like blood pressure, trembling, saliva, and heart attack enter your mind at some point or another.  I mean, Nay has literally ended up on top of my head when a storm passes through (and she is very unlike Zeke...Zeke hangs out like he is my siamese twin, Nay...not so much).   So with spring being here I broke down and got her this thundershirt.  See the above picture?  You can tighten it on her to apply pressure.  Steve doesn't think it works but I think it relieves it a "little".  She even gets kind of happy about it.  She calms down much quicker form a storm and I see little improvements here and there.  I think that it will not cure it, but it will help it.

My dad, who I carpool to work with, stops in the house each morning.  He loves my dogs like his own and really comes inside just to see them.  He calls Nay's thundershirt "the Huggy thing".  He says, I think the huggy thing is helping her because she's normally more nervous than this. 

I just love that description.  The huggy thing.  Doesn't it seem to have so much truth in it.  How true that a hug can relieve anxiety and fear.  How it can bring comfort when the storms of life are brewing.  (You can't tell me you didn't see that analogy coming!)

I know that there was a period in my life when I was in college that I was going through a hard time  When I would close my eyes and go to sleep I would imagine that I was curled up in the palm of God.  How safe I felt.  Though God cannot physically "hug" us right now, he does offer hugs to us in so many ways.  He's given me friends and family that hug me when I need it. He's given me promises in the Bible that hug my heart when I feel down.  I imagine, sometimes God has to tighten my huggy thing just like I tighten Nay's.  It's kind of like, you gotta be a bit uncomfortable to truly sense the comfort of God.  So what is God using as your "huggy thing"?  Is it a promise you've claimed before but allowed yourself to forget?  Is it a blessing from today that you did not recognize because it was clouded by storms and turmoil? Was it the presence of a loved one?   I am so glad for "huggy things".  I know, that every day I have to remind myself of the gifts he gives me, I have to notice the gifts because these are just small ways God hugs me.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Getting "Unstuck"

I wish you could've seen it.  Me trying to get the dogs "unstuck" from the SUV.  We have two cars, one I call the doggie mobile.  It is our old red Honda CRV.  I love this car because in the winter I feel safe on the roads.  I love it because I can pile the dogs in the back and not care about their muddy paws.  So in the back of this car I have one of those gates that separate them and keep them in the back.  (You see....Zeke likes to sit in my lap while I drive and since he is 90 lbs....it just won't work out that way.) 

Well, about a week ago the gate fell.  I was halfway home from my parents house and I could see my labs panicking in the back.  I could tell they were laying down and the gates was on top of them but there was no way out. I kept saying loudly "it's okay Nay, it's okay Zeke, calm down!"   I got to a four way stop, no one was there...so I climbed in the back seat and pulled it up.  When I got home and shut the door...the gate fell again.

This became the nightmare.  Nay was trying to squeeze up through the side of the gate to the back seat.  She wouldn't fit.  She was hurting herself in the process.  Zeke was trying to climb over the back that was only half open.....he is not graceful and I just couldn't picture the jump ending well...but yet he is graceful and so he did.  But....for a moment....I sat there begging both to stay calm.  Trying to get Nay to stop hurting herself and Zeke to stay put.  It was crazy....and once Zeke jumped out I was able to rescue Nay.

What a fiasco.  I told my husband all about it and he did that loud boisterous laugh that people do when they think it's the funniest thing they ever heard.  He did it several times and he said it was cause he could imagine it.  (I admit...Zeke is a bit high maintenance and Nay, well she has her moments.)  I was all upset over it because I panicked with them.  My wallet was not going for a trip to the vet, nor my sanity.

I think sometimes in life we can feel like Nay and Zeke.  How often do we get "trapped" and panic?  God wants us to just be still sometimes so that He can be allowed to do his work.  Sometimes when we struggle to solve things ourselves without seeking Him we find ourselves in a bigger mess than we were to begin with.  (You know...like Nay trying to climb between the gate and the wall of the car..hurting herself in the process?)

I am learning a lot about being still.  I find that there can be a lot of real peace in "waiting".  Sometimes we think we are "waiting" when really we are sitting there, wiggling to get out and get moving, instead of being still.  You know, that relaxation from head to toe where there is a sense of peace.  Waiting without wiggling.   Taking a deep breath and find joy in a moment of relaxing because really, the problem isn't yours anymore.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Experiences Speak Louder than Words


Zeke had another seizure this morning.  Fortunately, we learned from past experience how to handle it.  Zeke was sure afterwards to stay glued to my side.  Why?  Because, by EXPERIENCE of his own he has learned where he can find love and stability.  Where he can find help in time of need.  It is not because NayNay has told him so, it is because he has experienced it himself.

I am a Christian by choice.  Some would argue that I am not, that I am this way because it is the way I was raised.  I beg to differ.  I know many who was raised the same exact way and has yet turned away from it.   Interesting enough, because they have turned completely away from it...some would say.."it is because of the way they were raised."  So you see, the argument "the way they were raised" cannot be valid if so easily used for both situations.

Everyone has a choice.  I am now 36 years old and I look back over the years and see the forks in the road.  The forks where I stood at moments of decision, moments of searching and moments of silence.  At these forks in life the truth is you will either accept God or reject God. 

If you have been raised in such a home that I was raised then you know you have been given moments in life that you will either chose to accept God or reject God.  If you have gone through life and have chosen to toss it away as nothing...then you gave it not the time it deserved to be known in your life.  The God I know at 36 is far different and far more real than the God I knew at 25.  Experience has taught me as much.  Not what mommy and daddy said, but what I have experienced.

Don't toss away faith as if it is an old article of clothing handed to you.  Wear it, experience it, and learn its value.   Don't take the value of the article based on mom and dad, preacher or friends.  Learn it for yourself.  If you have not given it that opportunity, if you have only known it in a few years of adulthood, then you have never truly known it.  You have never truly experienced it.

I have chosen because as life passes on I begin to experience God in ways I've not known before.  Just like Zeke has experienced acceptance and help when in need....my own experiences have taught me more than 'heresay" ever could.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Quiet Time

Everyone needs a little quiet time.  Nay likes to hide behind chairs, tables, under the bed and in corners in order to get quiet time.  Zeke is very content to lay by my side for his quiet time.  "Quiet time" is what I call time that you have space and peace.

When I get in the car, for my 50 minute drive to work, I really love to listen to a book on audio. Sometimes, it's kind of odd.  When a man reads a bpok and he tries to sound like a girl when the female characters speak it makes me laugh.  Once I listened to this lady who was a professional puppeteer.  The voices were comical and cartoon like, I couldn't make it through the book~  Usually, some of the readers grow on me and I enjoy it.

I also like to listen to music.  Loudly.  There's something about a song that can uplift the soul, change your emotions, or just encourage. 

There are also moments where I like "quiet time".  It is time that I reflect and meditate.  There is truly something about "quiet" that allows you to hear God.  "Being still" truly allows you to seek God.  It's a time where I may sit and empty my mind of all things and wait.  Once you can find that moment..not necessarily in prayer or in reading...but just in stillness, it is an experience that allows you hear God....not audibly, but yet hear Him.

For me it is usually a message of love and one of encouragement, because my God knows that's what this girl needs.  I find that quiet time is never enough, never truly appreciated, but once I sit and do it....it can change the course of the rest of my day.

Quiet time for my puppies are different.  For Nay, in her old age, it is often.  For Zeke, it is rare...usually after complete exhaustion (even as I type this he's chewing a bone while Nay is knocked out!).  For me..I guess I am kind of like Nay...the older I get the more I realize I need it.  May God help me to "be still".

Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God..."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Do you call yourself a Christian?  I do.  I think there are people though, who have not grasped what being a true Christian means.  You see, a lot of people in the world watch Christians and wait for them to "trip up".  What these people are missing is that being a christian is not about "who I am" but it is "about who HE IS". 

You see, if I were really perfect, I wouldn't need Christ.   I need Christ because I am a sinner.  And I need Christ because I fail. When things are tough, and I worry, I need Christ to make me strong.  When I am at my lowest and not the person I should be, Christ is there to convict me and make me better.

I ask you not to look at who you think I am, or even who you think I SHOULD BE, because while here on earth I will never be what I should be and I will only cause room for you to doubt.  I ask that you look at who HE IS. It is by HIM that I call myself a christian.  I am humbled to be called a child of God and I am grateful that He loves me, not matter who I am and no matter what I do.  I pray God gives me a love for others...as He loves me.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Earthquake in Japan

It has been a while since I've blogged.  I have attempted several this evening but it just doesn't seem right that I can blog about anything without even mentioning what is going on in Japan today. 

My family lives in Japan, but it is southern Japan and so far it seems they are safe.  My mom still has 3 sisters living.  One of them lives here with her husband.  The other two still live in Japan with their families.   My aunt here has been trying to get through but it seems the phones are so busy we cannot.  It seems though that all is okay.

Yesterday evening, as I thought about what was happening it made me sick to my stomach.  I could see the cars trying to out drive the tsunami.  I saw a man in his house, floating in the water...waving a white towel in hope of rescue.  It saddens me to see how terribly frightening it all must've been.  It saddens me to see the lives that were lost in this disaster.

I pray for these families and for Japan that they might recover.  I have no doubt they will.  I have seen Hiroshima today....more than 60 years after the atomic bomb.  It is one of the largest cities I have ever been to.  I believe that the Japanese are tough people, strong and determined to succeed.

On the other hand, I hope that through this they might find God.  Nothing brings us to our knees more than experiencing life's tragedies.  Whether it be losing a loved one to natural causes or losing a loved one to an earthquake disaster, we must consider eternity. 

I pray that the rescuers will find survivors, I pray that the survivors will be safe during the aftermath of nuclear power plants, tsunamis, and after shocks.  I pray that God will offer mercy and grace to those that remain, and I pray that the people of Japan will see it.

Have you considered eternity?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Presence- Sometimes It's All We Need!

Do you think it is possible to "feel Jesus"?  I would first like to say that I don't base my faith nor my salvation on how I "feel"....I base it on what God's Word says, but still, I wonder if I can feel Jesus. 

I am one who likes to keep my emotions inside and contained.  So often, many people don't want to be "emotional" in church because emotion is not to be mistaken for the Holy Spirit, but I do believe God uses our emotions at times to speak to us.

There are days that are so hard, that the emotions build, and for a moment I can sense God speaking to me and nudging and reminding me what is important.  A sense of calm will rush over me.  It's like I can "feel Jesus".  Have you ever had this experience?

As i type this, all cramped up with my computer way up on my chest in the bed, because Zeke is laying half in my lap...I think of the comfort of the presence of God and knowing his presence.  Yesterday it STORMED.  Naomi was beside herself....but it seemed that no matter where she went she made sure that either I or Steve was present.  Right now Zeke is laying on top of me.  Our presence comforts our dogs.

I know this blog post is not necessarily politically correct or at least on this blog post proven with Scripture....but for me it is real.  I don't know what God does in those moments where I really feel like a weight has been taken from my shoulders, or where I feel a sense of calm rush over me, or when I feel like sunshine is hitting me but its not.  Really, it is through those experiences where I feel God is speaking to me and God is taking care of me...and God is reminding me that "HE IS".....everything I need. 

GRATEFUL......

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Getting in Shape


This weekend I took Nay and Zeke to my parents' house to play.  I know it sounds kind of funny but they have "running around room" and two labs of their own.  While I was there my mom confirmed what I had already been talking about for weeks..."Zeke is getting chubby."  The look on his face in this picture...it kind of makes me wonder if he knows?  I don't think so...he loves food way too much to let his weight get him down.  I am thinking he knows I've been batting around the idea of a green bean diet for him.  He's had other diets that did not work.  He ended up getting all kinds of food off the counters.  I know you think I should train him not to do this...BUT...I have never SEEN him counter surf but the evidence I have found in the dining room suggests otherwise.

I need to lose weight too.  I have heard this green bean diet (consisting of green beans and kibble) is very successful.  I am even considering the kibble!  :)

This past summer, I took my 35 year old "over-weight" self on a journey.  As they say, losing weight in your 30's is not like losing weight in your 20's.  I started with a mile a day, EVERY SINGLE DAY, and it didn't work.  I cut back on calories, and it didn't work.  So what did work?  Two miles a day and a good protein good carbs diet.  I lost weight, FINALLY.  I took a break and never went back.  I still have more to lose, not much, but enough to be considered a healthy and happy weight.

When I think about my physical health and how it affects me mentally and emotionally (because Zeke's expression looks how I feel!) I also think of my spiritual health.  When I make time to read God's promises in the Bible and think on them, I find that my spiritual health is strengthened. 

I have to get in shape physically but not to neglect getting in shape spiritually.  I find that with life experience the reality of God becomes more sure. Sometimes He takes things away from us so that we only see Him.  In life we concentrate so much on the temporal.  What kind of paycheck we bring home, what nice things we buy, and the work we do each day. These things are all important but it is not as important as that which is eternal.  I HAVE TO get in shape.  It will allow me to serve God more effectively when I am healthy. Though I feel that I have progressed this past summer there is still more that I can do.  I cannot allow some progress to keep me from the goal I need to make.  I also HAVE TO get in shape spiritually.  The outside is merely the result of the inside.  On occasion we can wear a great disguise on the outside...but eventually the truth will reveal itself.  I cannot allow feeling  "a little bit good" about the time I spend with God each day, keep me from gettting even more from Him so that I can feel "a whole lot good". 

May I find myself working as hard on the inside as I do the outside.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Good Morning!!

I had all kinds of blog ideas the last few weeks but I could not resist sharing with you Zeke and Naomi's new habit.  This week, each morning, they have decided to be the "see the neighborhood off" committee.  Yes, every single car that leaves our culdesac, every car that they can see from our back windows, and every child to ride the school bus....they say good bye to each morning.  When does this begin?  Well, let's see, on Monday morning it started around 5:15 a.m.   

If we could only face each morning with the same excitement and vigor.  Some of you may have that sunshine feeling as you pop out of bed each morning to giggle and smile as you face the day, but me....oh no....I drag myself out of bed, half-blind, slipping in my contacts, and slowly but surely drudging forward.   Now, in the evening it is a whole other story.  I am WIDE awake! 

 Be excited, each day God gives you is a new day.  Watch for the blessings and know them when you see them.  I am one to usually not notice because I'm too busy "doing".  I want to be like my own labs when they see the neighbors leaving each morning....seeing the blessings and rejoicing in them.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Only He Can Calm the Storm

I am posting this for a few friends of mine who have some storms of their own.  I wrote it when I was going through a storm.  I know we all have them! 

When the storm around me rages, and I face a darkened sky
And the problems they grow greater, that I'm tempted to ask why
When I find myself fallen, on my knees to ask in prayer
"Lord, wrap your love around me, show me that you care"

Only you can calm the storm, and carry me through
Though the waves they toss above me, Lord, help me to see you
You can make the storm waters; feel as if it's calm
Lord give me strength to make it, Lord help me carry on

When life's trials get so heavy, and I know I'm in the storm
I see what is around me, instead of looking to My Lord
And the moment that I call Him, the storm becomes peace
And even though the waves move, it will feel as if they've ceased

And when the sea is calm, and I have not a care
Lord, help me to remember, to still call on you in prayer
And through each day I'll seek you, finding strength for every day
And when the storms come raging, I know that I can say

Only You can calm the storm, and carry me through
Though the waves they toss above me, Lord help me to see you
You can make the stormy waters feel as if it's calm
Lord give me strength to make it, Lord help me carry on.

Only you can calm the storm, and carry me through
Lord, give me strength to make it....Lord, I depend on You.

by Debbie Fincher, September 2004

Monday, January 31, 2011

Building Trust

Naomi, November 2004

When we first got Naomi from the shelter she had heart worms, was flea infested, and about 10 lbs underweight.  I remember that trip from the shelter to home.  We made several stops in between.  We also had a large crate in the back that we borrowed from the shelter.  She sat between the crate and the window, hunched over and insecure.

When we welcomed her into our home she sniffed and got to know the 1200 square feet we called home in Lenoir City, Tennessee.  I don't know what Naomi's background was, but I know it took time for her to bond with us.  It didn't happen as quickly as it did for Zeke.  Trust took time.  For  Naomi we took time to buy her toys, to feed her.  We took care of her by getting her proper health treatment. At first we didn't let her in our room but that didn't last long!  We brought her bed into the room and she slept safely in our room.

I remember seeing the difference in her as each month passed.  The loyalty that was growing within her towards her new owners.  Today, Naomi has been with us for 6 years and 2 months.  Knowing she can trust us has made her loyal to us. 

I think that life is much the same way. TRUST is built often through experience in a relationship you have with others and on the other hand, you can lose trust easier than gain it.   Love and trust are not always hand in hand....but one can strengthen the other.   A solid relationship will have both.

Our heavenly Father can be trusted.  When our love for Him is nurtured by devotion, prayer, and Scripture our trust in Him can be further cultivated.  Trust in our Savior can grow beyond the salvation experience and into a day to day life experience.  The Bible says in Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."  So many times we lean unto our own understanding, our own reasoning. This is the complete opposite of trust.  When we lean unto our own understanding it is in a sense saying "God, I don't trust you as much as  I trust myself."   How foolish is that?  And yet, how normal!  I always say, when God knew we'd need to be reminded of a great truth, He wrote it for us in His Word.  God knew that we would lean unto our own understanding.  I believe, that in getting to know the Lord you will trust Him.  You will also love Him and your trust will become even greater and stronger.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Brrr...Shiverrr....C-c-c-cold!!!!

I do not believe that Zeke is as miserable as he looks in this picture.  He really is just tired of waiting for me to take a picture before I open the door.  He really is oblivious that he has snow on him.  And Nay...well I just love this picture because she's just loving it.

My labs are the kind of dogs that cannot get enough of snow.  They could play in it all day.  The cold doesn't bother them.  I on the other hand, am not created by God to be able to roll and play in the snow!  In fact...thanks to the United States Marine Corps...my father was stationed in both Hawaii and California in my teenage years.  (Pure torture....wink, wink). 

Lately I've found myself sitting by my space heater, dressing in several layers, and getting under several covers.   It seems it is cold and spring is still a few months away.

Today I am in awe at the creation of God.  How Zeke and Naomi can enjoy the snow without putting on a coat, boots, hat and mittens.  (Can you picture it!)  How this month we have snow covered grounds, but six months from now I will be enjoying the warm sunshine.  The detail of science to me proves the existence of God.   What God has created is beautiful, inspiring, and unmeasurable.  I have been blessed to have seen his evidence in the deep Grand Canyons and a sunset in the Florida Keys.  I have seen it in the colorful fall of the Smokey Mountains and the clear waters of Hawaii. 

There are times in my life that I have to sit still to see God.  That I have to be quiet and listen, to hear God.  There are times in my life when I don't understand His hand and His ways.  But whenever I make it through it....I can look back and see the evidence of Him in my life.  So when I am in the valley and things are not clear....I can look around at what He has created and KNOW that He is there.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I am His and He is Mine

Zeke is jealous of my computer.  I know you think I'm making it up, but I am not.  Sometimes when I go to bed I get out my laptop.  He jumps up in the bed with me, and with his nose he pushes my laptop closed.  I then push it back open and tell him, "NO".  He will then do it again and again.....usually, he will win because I will realize he needs my attention and so I will love on him a little.  It doesn't take long before you'll find me once again, getting out my laptop.  He realizes there has been some compromise, so instead of pushing it closed, he lays his head right on top the keyboard.  So as you can see, he knows that I can chose between him and the laptop and he makes me chose him.

(insert side note...I know some of you think I'm crazy to let a dog on the bed but I bet you don't have a dog...and if you do, you don't have one like Zeke or Nay)

Anyways, Zeke has been known as 'MY DOG'.  I am so proud of this.  He follows me everywhere.  He waits for me by the door.  He stays in the room that you will find me in.  He will nap with me on the couch and should I chose to kick him out of the bedroom, I'll find him laying by the door. 

There's a song that I love to listen to that always brings my heart to worship.  It is "Your Beloved" sung by By The Tree.  The chorus is as follows:

Lord who am I
Compared to your glory
Lord who am I
Compared to your majesty

Cause I'm your beloved
Your creation
And you love me as I am
You call me chosen
For your kingdom
Unashamed to call me your own
Cause I'm your beloved

What makes me love this song, is that I feel loved, I feel beautiful, I feel like I belong.  Because I am a Christian I know that I am a child of God.  I know that He loves me and that He created me. With all respect possible, I say I do not have to compete with a laptop for God's attention. In fact, He is waiting and wanting to hear from me.  To hear my petitions.  I am HIS beloved.

I don't know why I forget this sometimes. I love that Zeke is MINE.  That I am his owner, that he belongs to me.

God loves me, He is my owner, and I belong to Him.  It makes me feel beautiful, and it is a beautiful feeling.




Sunday, January 16, 2011

Picture Perfect

At first glance, this picture was imperfect.  I wanted a picture of my labs sitting obediently in front of the Christmas tree.  This picture did not occur.  Instead, I have Nay-Nay all hunched over and Zeke looking way up to my right.  Nay-Nay and Zeke are acting exactly like themselves!

If you have read through my blog you will know why Nay looks like that.  It is very difficult for me to get any pictures of Naomi.  She is storm phobic...so when she sees a camera flash, she is reminded of lightening...and of course reminded of storms.  In this picture she is showing her insecurity. 

Zeke on the other hand, is the most food-motivated lab I've ever known.  Right now he is on a diet.  In this picture, Steve is standing to my back right, holding a snack up.  In fact, when I yell the word "snack" while Zeke is outside...he'll come running around the corner.

So, you can see this "imperfect" picture is really picture perfect.  It is the exact personalities of my puppies.  Saying "SAY CHEESE!"  doesn't work with a dog, but us humans...we want the picture perfect.  You  know, when you pick the best "group picture" you always pick the one you look best in. 

None of us are perfect but when everyone knows your lives and your imperfections it can make you feel vulnerable.  It makes you want to block the world out.  I think life would be easier and people would get along better if we all were ready to admit our failures and insecurities.  Humility would happen for all of us. 

God loves me.  If God were to take a picture of me it would be one that showed my heart in action.  Just like Naomi's and Zeke's heart is in action in the given picture.  Would I be hunched over and insecure?  Would I be looking the world over for something I liked more? 

No matter what my state, God loves me.  I know I'm being repetitive, but you see, God loves me!  Though the picture of me is truly "imperfect"....to God, it is "picture perfect" because He loves me as I am.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spoilin'

How do my puppies spoil themselves?  I really don't know, but I know what they enjoy.

Zeke enjoys a fuzzy blanket (see above!), towel, and heat from the dryer.

Nay loves a good bone and is willing to take her 55 lbs. body and fight a 90 lb. lab for it.

Zeke likes to lay on the couch with you.

Nay likes to lay in the sun on a cool fall day.

I thought I'd take a little different take on this blog and do one kind of fun!

So how do we spoil ourselves?  This past summer I was unemployed for five months and had to find new ways to spoil myself.  I was remembering them as my best friend Kelli celebrated her own birthday this week....finding small ways to indulge.  So here it is, my list of inexpensive ways to indulge or spoil yourself.

10 INEXPENSIVE WAYS TO INDULGE

1.  Sushi-  At the right place you can get a good sushi roll for less than 10 bucks.  My heritage would suggest to many that I might like sashimi (raw fish)...but that is not true.  I prefer the Americanized sushi that might include avocado, cream cheese and may even be deep fried.

2.  Starbucks- Yes Starbucks is expensive, but when I want to feel spoiled I splurge.  You can get a good drink for less than 5 bucks, but if you are really on a budget...get yourself a black iced tea.  I can go anywhere, taste iced tea, and know whether or not it is made by Starbucks.

3.  iTunes- iTunes has EVERY kind of music imaginable.  I love how you can find one song and it can lead you to another and another.  There are songs for 69 cents (Frank Sinatra Christmas) and songs for 1.29.  You can even listen to part of it before you download...it's fun shopping for a song so why not?

4.  Socks- Kelli bought herself socks.  I love socks!!  I have Santa Clause socks and valentine socks.  I have warm fuzzy socks that are made to wear around the house.  I can put on a good pair of warm, fuzzy sock and feel spoiled.

5.  Magazine + Bubble Bath- Sometimes you have to read something just because it takes no thinking at all.  I highly suggest 'Real Simple' or Reader's Digest.  Make yourself a bath, light a candle, and relax and read a story.

6.  Sally Hansen's Manicure in a Bottle- I love a good pedicure, but this summer, I couldn't afford them.  A friend of mine passed on this awesome polish.  It is not the cheapest polish on the shelf, but I can guarantee you that you will not be disappointed.  Base coat and Top coat is no longer needed to achieve the look you want, just a steady hand. 

7.  Library Check-Out- If you have no money at all, visit your library.  At our local library you can check out movies, books, and music for free.  Find an old movie, find several and watch 15 minutes of each until you get stuck on one that you can't stop watching.  Try a movie you've never heard of.  And books?  Well, thousands to choose from and once you pick up a good series you'll be glued for months.

8.  Jewelry- yes, jewelry.  I love a necklace or a pair of earrings.  The best part?  You can never "outgrow" jewelry.  No matter how much weight you gain or lose...you will always fit in your jewelry.  Kohl's always has a good set to choose from and their prices are reasonable.

9.  Yankee Candle- after I got my first paycheck, I went and bought myself a Yankee candle.  No, they are not the cheapest candle but they are my absolute favorite.  I like to go to Bed, Bath, & Beyond, to the clearance section...with my 20% off coupon.  Did you know that the 20% off coupon's may say they expire...but Bed, Bath & Beyond will still take them!

10.  Ice Cream- now, I don't love ice cream, but if you run into me at Bruster's, you will know I am spoiling myself because "Birthday Cake Ice Cream" cannot be beat.  If you go to go Bruster's when it is raining or snowing...your second scoop will be free!!!

Well, those are 10 ways I spoil myself.  Hope you can get an idea of how to spoil yourself once in a while!

Evidence...

This is what I found today....wish I would've had it for yesterday's "evidence" post.  :)  Gotta love my Zeke.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Little Pieces Everywhere

I love my puppies but I promise, after I vacuum I could knit you a sweater out of the left over hair.  In the summer time it gets worse.  Naomi's hair is finer and can be pulled out in chunks.  Zeke...he just shakes, and in the sunlight, you can see hair and dander go flying.

So, in order to love a lab, you grow a love for a Dyson.  Oh, I love my Dyson.   Little pieces that Zeke and Nay left laying around get sucked right up.  I'm so glad Mr. Dyson discovered this "a few prototypes later".  (can you hear my British accent?)

Zeke and Nay leave evidence of themselves everywhere.  Sometimes it is "fur" and sometimes it is really "evidence".  Zeke's evidence can always be found under the dining room table...like the empty bacon bits bag we found today.  Sometimes we find stuffed animal body parts that have been left after the tug of war party.

So just like Zeke and Nay-Nay leave evidence of themselves, I realize I leave evidence of myself here and there.  What we leave wherever we go may be visual or it may be left unseen.  Our words leave impressions on people.  Our facial expressions and body language are often examined by others. 

I went to a funeral of a woman who lived to be 98.  Her children and grandchildren cried as they spoke about the memories of her.  It was clear that each grandchild had a special bond with her.  It was clear that she left a lot of her here on this earth....character, love, principles..left in her children and grandchildren.

I cannot forget that even I leave little pieces of me everywhere.  It is important that I live consciously of what I leave.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A New Year....

Rest Up!  It's a New Year with new adventures to tell, to live, to experience.   The truth is, life is hard.  You are fooling yourself, or living in a bubble, or living in denial if you don't see this for yourself  (...or you are still quite young).  How many facebook status have you seen that tells of a loved one passed away, someone with cancer, someone even changing their relationship status. 

So in 2010 God showed me that you cannot avoid problems, they will happen, that life is not constant.  If you think things can't get worse, BEWARE, they can!  All of this seems doom and gloom, but the truth is, when things are tough....at their very toughest...God will become the most real to you.  I know most reading this know, that the only CONSTANT factor is God...but I'm not here to tell you this, I am here to tell you that in my own experience we have complicated God and who He is.  We imagine a church service, some singing, a message....we imagine sitting with a Bible every day reading it...we imagine doing and serving.  The truth is, we are totally bringing the wrong images in our minds. 

The true image you should see really should be of the characteristics of God.  Love, truth, forgiveness, mercy....it is when you experience the character of God that you really see Him for who He is. 

I know that I have been blessed with a good family and a good church, but it is not in either of those areas that I really saw how simple life can be with just God.  Sure, we are meant to have family and we are meant to go to church.......but when you come to the place that He's all you have, then you know He's all you need!

2011....a new year.....new problems...new sorrows....new joys....keep it simple....Believe and Trust God with every day of 2011.