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


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 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 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" God, it is "picture perfect" because He loves me as I am.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


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.


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'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 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!


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 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 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, 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 joys....keep it simple....Believe and Trust God with every day of 2011.