Throw Back Thursday – July 2008

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

Psalm 118:1, 6

Just the other night, I was frustrated.

Due to an escalating discipline issue with our son, I was feeling like a failure as a parent. My homeschool year is looming and I did not feel ready. My once healthy body seems to be falling apart, treatments for one set of problems do not always work in conjunction with treatments for another set, bits of me seem to be aging prematurely in the most depressing ways, I’m tired of pain, tired of medicines, and tired of being tired all the time. There was more, but suffice to say that I was feeling simply overwhelmed. After putting the children to bed, I trudged downstairs ready to attack chores that had been left behind due to the time-consuming battle with Little Man and his great, big stubborn streak.

As I wearily prepared to wash the dishes, I felt a strong urge to go outside. I started to resist but recognized my Lord’s quiet voice urging me and so abandoned the dishes and went.

It was beautiful out; the heat of the day had given way to a pleasantly warm evening. I began to pray, laying all my frustrations at God’s feet and trusting Him to know the ones I couldn’t voice. As I prayed, tears began to fall and I fell silent, gazing at the horizon. The sun was beginning to set, and the sky was streaked with faint color.

I sat for a moment, then stirred myself to rise and go back indoors. Again, that urging, “Just sit. Wait. I have something to show you.”

I sat. I listened. The cicadas were beginning their evening song. I realized that I used to enjoy listening to the cicadas on summer evenings but had not had the time since moving into and trying to maintain our big house. As I listened, I began to hear not only bird song, but individual birds and became aware of their locations around me. Always, the cicadas hummed their rising and falling song in the background.

Peace washed over me and suddenly the pale colors in the sky began to seem a little richer… and a little richer… until the sky blazed with red-gold tinged with violet. Still, all around me the birds, cicadas, the frogs in the lake sang their goodnight praise to their Maker. Distant voices, rather than disturbing the symphony, were simply a part of it; the owners an unknowing participant in a harmony of worship. I began to worship silently, enjoying the show, enjoying feeling wrapped in my Father’s arms.

When my husband arrived home from his errand, I was still lounging in the grass. I knew in my heart that my problems were not miraculously resolved. I knew that my health trouble was not over, nor was the battle to apply my son’s stubbornness to the correct path. In fact, both would likely get worse.

I had something better.

My Lord reminded me that He would be with me every step of the way. He reminded me not to forget to praise Him through it all.

By bringing my attention to the song of His Creation, my Father caused me to remember that He loves me too much to remove the trials. No matter what comes of it all, He has my best interests at heart. After all, no matter what happens to me here on earth, it is all to prepare me for a much greater chapter of my life after this earthly life ends.

I came away, not with solutions, but with the peace that comes from understanding in a more complete and deeper way that I am in training for eternity. Yes, the work is hard, but it will be worthwhile. And most importantly, my Father truly does love me. Me personally.

That amazes me most of all.

Gracious Father, we thank and praise You for Your goodness, for Your might, for Your compassion, and for Your strength. Your Creation sings Your praise. Thank You that we are invited to join this song! Help our frail, human minds and wills to remember You in all things–the good and the bad. Increase our faith and our sensitivity to Your Spirit’s leading so that we may honor You in all we say, think, and do. May we bless You with our lives. In Jesus’s precious name we praise and ask, amen.

Of Dogs and Disciples

A revised TBT post in honor of Chestnut who suffered with DM in his last weeks. He achieved his potential.

RIP Chestnut 2010 – 2020

My husband and I have developed our own dog ranking system, partially in jest and partly because…  well, partly because.

In order, the Official Davis Dog Hierarchy is:

  1. Good Dog
  2. Has Potential
  3. Bad Dog

Allow me to embellish.

This is Mayumi:

Yumi001

Mayumi is a Good Dog.

She is very obedient… with occasional exceptions, typically because I haven’t given her adequate exercise. When small children are over, she’s gentle and submissive. As for tricks, she can jump through hoops, sit, stay, high-five with alternating paws, close the door (well, sometimes), and play dead.

As a puppy, she would lay quietly in her crate as long as she could see me. Mayumi is my loyal companion who follows me from room to room and generally wants to be near me. She is calm and can be trusted with people of all ages and animals of all sizes. I love this dog!

This is Chestnut:

Chestnut Has Potential.

For the most part, he is obedient (even coming when called more faithfully than Mayumi), but he does lack self-control.

He absolutely adores people – exuberantly adores them with wild, oafish boundings and clumsy gyrations that threaten the vertical stability of moderately sized humans. Chestnut also has trouble holding his licker and frequently leaves slobber trails on… well, everything.

Due to his… ah, enthusiasm… we crate him when small children or elderly people are visiting. Not all furry things that enter our yard survive – except the three skunks that got him first (honestly, three times !!! Sheesh!!).

I have no pictures of Sable, but she was aptly named. Sable was a Bad Dog.

In the brief time she lived with us, she managed to terrorize the children, (who were still very young), lose all off-leash privileges inside and outside the house, and generally cause me to rue the day I first saw her.

On her final chance off leash in our yard, this demon dog attacked me. Fortunately, I had some training in judo and her snarling challenge went rather badly for her. I walked away from the encounter carrying her by the scruff, angry but unhurt.

Sable became a junkyard dog.

Last but not least, this is our Miscreant thinning the herd of origami reindeer given us by the talented Mr. Leonard Gluck.:

But he’s in a different class entirely.

These animals -or more specifically, their rankings – remind me of myself.

Before I came to know and love the Most High God, I was as dark-hearted as Sable, a miscreant in an altogether separate category – an aimless and nameless wastrel.

But instead of meting out the death penalty I had earned, God did something altogether unexpected and remarkable: He sent His only Son to live out a pure human life without sin and then to die in my place. He – Yeshua Messiah – satisfied justice as the spotless atoning sacrifice; the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

When I deserved pitiless death, I received mercy… and yet God did not stop there. With grace beyond my wildest reckoning, He raised His Son to life again – and promised if I would unite myself with the Son by dying to my own selfish nature and desires, I would be granted a share of His resurrection, too!

Although I was a reprobate, the King called me Daughter.

Although I deserve to pay for my sins, He not only forgave my debt but lavished upon me a spiritual inheritance of inestimable value. What’s more, He has brought light and life to all that was darkened and deadened within me.

My Lord and my God! May the wonder of it all never cease to astonish me!

If I truly love Him for this incredible gift, my life ought to reflect nothing short of complete devotion and steadfast loyalty to Him.

Kind of like Mayumi is with me.

Where He is, I want to be. When He commands; I want to obey promptly. Though I may slip up from time to time, I earnestly desire to be fully His, wholly trusting Him and trusted by Him around people of all ages.

May I never be a casual partaker of Grace, giving the Almighty a perfunctory nod as I tuck His gift carelessly in a pocket while asking Him to bless my self-determined course!

In short, I do not want to a disciple who merely Has Potential…

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:9-10

TBT: #Blessed

Last Sunday, our pastor discussed the Beatitudes, pointing out the differences between our culture’s idea of blessing and the statements of blessing our Lord spoke on so many years ago.

A portion of the sermon reminded me of an Advent article I wrote a few years back. While chronologically speaking, this is not the Advent season, I firmly believe for the Christian, every day is Christmas and every day is Easter.

Besides, who knows when the second Advent will be? Thus but also for fun, this link will take you to some throwback thoughts on the word Blessed followed by a prayer similar to the one the Lord has compelled me to pray for my family since Sunday.

Gracious Redeemer, You are the Blessed One and the source of all blessing. Thank You for the privilege of sharing in Your blessings through the sacrifice of Your only Son!

Today I pray for Your Church as I’ve prayed for my family this week; that we will have the blessing of being poor in spirit so we may understand the depth of our need of You.

Teach our hearts to mourn for sin over the darkness in this world as well as to share in the grief of our brothers and sisters. Destroy our arrogance and pride and replace it with profound humility.

Change our desires and appetites so that we hunger and thirst after righteousness and not after worthless pursuits. Guide us in being merciful to others as You have been merciful to us.

Purify our hearts so our desires and the overflow of our hearts are pure before You as well as demonstrating Your purity to others. Show us how to be peacemakers and not contribute to the turmoil and chaos of the global conversation.

And when persecution comes to us, Lord, let us be found faithful to You. Teach us to rejoice over everything that drives us closer to You, even thought it may be exquisitely painful at the time. You are worthy, Lord, and we are Your humble servants, amen.