Tag Archives: Dogs

Rescuing Max

I wanted to celebrate! Knowing that afternoon was the end of a grueling public speaking class, I made arrangements to have dinner with a friend. The night signaled the end of speech writing, practicing and worse yet, standing in front of a camera to be videotaped. It was time for salad, garlic bread and fettuccini. And fun!

Living between my friend’s house and the restaurant, I asked her if she’d like to split the driving. She could drive to my house and I’d drive the rest of the way to our evening’s destination. When she arrived at my home, seeing she was clearly upset, I asked, “What’s wrong?”

“Do you know the owner of a golden retriever or maybe a golden lab?”

I shook my head no. “Why?”

“When I pulled into your subdivision, I noticed one walking aimlessly around. There didn’t seem to be anyone with him and I am worried.” Still, she hopped into my car and we prepared to leave.

golden retrieverDriving a little further down the street, we saw him – a golden dog sniffing the ground just out for a stroll by himself. I decided to turn my car to follow him down the street. He was an older dog, so it didn’t seem like he would be hard to catch. Would he even come to us? Fortunately, he ducked into a garage and walked around the car located inside. My friend stood at one end of the car; I stood at the other.

The dog didn’t seem to like my friend, but he came directly to me. Soon, I was holding him by his collar and reading his tags. Max, it said. Max Horton. And beside that both an address and a phone number. Pay dirt!

Because it was my car and I own a dog, I grabbed a leash from the back seat, put it on Max and lead him to my car. He jumped right into my backseat covered with blankets to protect the leather from my dog’s claws.

Calling the phone number got us voice mail, so we decided to drive Max to his house. As we made the last turn onto the street, a few teenage boys stood at the corner. One of them yelled, “Max!” As soon as I stopped my car, the boy opened the door and began hugging his newly found dog. This truly heartfelt reunion almost made two grown women cry.

The Lord directs the ways of the godly. He delights in every detail of their life. Psalm 37:23.

Both my friend and I were reminded once again God is always one step ahead of us. When my friend and I were making plans, the original plan was to meet at the restaurant since the end time of my class might be fluid. She was willing to be flexible, so we changed our plans and decided I’d call her once home and we’d go together. This meant she’d see Max on the way to my house and I’d be driving a car that was not only dog-proofed, but also contained a very necessary item: a dog leash. God had orchestrated our steps to help a needy canine.

It isn’t just dogs that need rescuing. Even though we are anxious about what is happening in our lives, God goes before us. He knew you would encounter a difficulty even before you were born and He has been planning its resolution since then.

If you are going through a rough patch in a relationship, God goes before you. He directs the steps of the godly. This means it’s up to God to be the director. Your job is to follow His direction. When we want to be in control, following is tough. But always remember, when you are navigating your life, God cannot direct you to His best.

All of us belong to a loving God. He is Lord and the sole director of our lives. It is only His grace that we are rescued and redeemed. No matter where your path is going –  through the weeds or to a sunny mountaintop victory – God is always directing your steps. He is writing a beautiful story worth telling. Keep trusting Him and keep walking in His grace. He will always be one step ahead of you.

Stuck

For months, I’d been encouraging people (especially women) to enlarge their vision of the power of God. Too often, we limit God’s strength based our preconceptions, our disappointment in unanswered prayer or even the shame from our past. God is vast, unlimited, able to do incredible things in our lives. He is wild and untamable. Nothing is as formidable as our God.

Then it came time for me to put my money where my mouth was…

Driving from Illinois to California, our car broke down on I-40 about 50 miles west of Oklahoma City. Read: literally in the middle of nowhere. When the car coasted to a stop, I heard the devil whispering in my ear, jeering at me, “Let’s see how great your God is now.”

image003Both my husband and I were confused, frustrated and disoriented. We didn’t know anyone in Oklahoma who could help us, had never been in this situation and felt an almost heart-shattering longing to be home. Neither of us was operating at our best as one decision after another had to be made.

But God was there… At every turn, His blessings abounded.

When we called AAA to be towed, our driver was a friendly Okie, who not only took the car to a repair shop, did his best to find us a rental car and directed us to a local hotel.

That hotel had a huge sign in the lobby, “No pets allowed.” Since we were traveling with an adult German Shepherd and this was the only hotel in walking distance, the rule could have meant sleeping under the stars in a nearby park. When I explained our situation to the hotel clerk, she graciously rented a room to us and Lily.

In the morning, we found the shop didn’t do the type of repairs needed, so we had the car towed again to a fantastic repair shop owned by Christians. The type of people who didn’t hide their faith – that was obvious when you walked in. They not only provided guidance about the car repair, but when the time came to pay the bill, sliced the amount owed substantially.

Because the car was moved closer to Oklahoma City, I randomly picked a new hotel off the internet. This one ended up being about a mile away from a wonderful lake and recreation area that even had a doggie park for Lily. When I checked in, the hotel clerk upgraded our room – without any knowledge of the stress we were under.

When renting a car, I booked a compact car thinking we’d only be using it to tool around Oklahoma City for a few days. Once at the agency, they asked if it would okay to upgrade us to a Jeep for the same price. This ended up being crucial, because it was the Jeep we eventually drove back to California and the vehicle provided just enough room for our luggage and dog supplies.

The list goes on, but at every juncture, people went out of their way to help us, be kind to us, show us graciousness, even if they didn’t know the burdens we were bearing.

Being stuck is frustrating, confusing and emotionally taxing. Still, God shows up. We were never alone. Despite the devil’s taunts, God’s blessings were too many to count.

If you are stuck, here are some helpful suggestions to get you moving again.

Give yourself freedom to mourn – Too often we gloss over our feelings of loss. But denying feelings is emotionally unhealthy. Trust God as much as you can and allow yourself to feel your grief inside of His tender, loving embrace.

Give thanks for all the good – It would have been very easy to hold a pity party at the side of the interstate. Looking for the good, like a friendly clerk or a safe place to sleep at night, keeps you positive and makes moving forward easier.

Control the things you can – Realize your decisions can make positive changes, but let go of the things over which you have no control. I had no control over how long we were stuck in Oklahoma, but I could control my attitude towards it. Every morning I woke up thinking of new adventures to experience in a city I’d basically only driven through instead of moping in our hotel room.

Give others grace – One thing I am most proud of is despite the stress both Richard and I were under, we never argued, never fought and never blamed the other. We both understood how much grace God gives us and we just followed His lead.

Look forward to God’s surprises – He plants so many of them along our path. Don’t be amazed by them; anticipate them as you move through our day.

Remember where the finish line is – We both understood this was a temporary setback. Granted there were times when we thought we’d never get through it…when it seemed just too daunting. Knowing our ultimate finish line wasn’t California, but is heaven brought a beauty to what could have been a very ugly time. So every day, run well and enjoy the scenery along the way.

I’m not sure what has you stuck, but step out boldly into a freefall towards His grace. He will catch you. He always will.

 

A Walk in the Cornfields

image001The end of the rope was near. Involved in several projects that were zapping my strength instead of replenishing it, I knew a break was necessary despite some very pressing deadlines. I was smack dab in the middle – the uncomfortable in between of roaring pressure and endless tasks. Working inside when I longed to be outdoors was tough, especially when summer fades into autumn. The crispness in the air was lovely, but unfortunately also a reminder these warm, sunny days luring me outside were limited in number.

I needed to pull back to sit down and relax on the inside. So I grabbed my dog, got in the car and headed north to walk in the cornfields of the numerous farms in the area. If you are in northern Illinois, it seemed like an appropriate way of taking a breather without shrinking back.

You can embrace quiet without giving in. You can say no to the hustle of your projects, of your life and still be saying yes in obedience. Choosing relaxation does not mean shutting down or worse, giving up. Chasing a still moment doesn’t mean your work has to suffer or you’ll miss an opportunity. Finding a way of putting up a Do Not Disturb sign is actually a gift to your soul.

Intentionally scheduling a quiet break when your soul has had enough and your body is exhausted is recognizing your limits. Society glorifies busy, but busyness can actually harm your relationship with God and others. Sometimes we just need the quiet to wrestle with our thoughts, to bathe in God’s love telling us we are brave, strong and beautiful. And to silently give control back to the One who always had it, God.

Frustration, anger and loneliness can cause tension when all you see are the piles, projects and programs and not the heart of God. Exodus 14:14 tells us, “The Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still.” No matter how squeezed you feel, God can breathe in something new. He can tend to whatever wounds bruise your soul.

In the hushed quiet of cornstalks gently waving in the breeze, I recognized those things in my life that made my life worth living, my story worth telling. In a place of your own choosing, you also can find the same confidence, courage and dignity.

We must work. We must complete our projects. We must finish those daily checklists. But it is not normal to live so hurried. Our doing should never explain our being. When we are so busy doing, we tend to lose sight of all we are.

Yes, I got behind a little during my day on the farm. Yes, I felt the pressure of not pushing myself further. But the hushed cathedral of cornfields stretching as far as the eye could see brought a healing. As I walked among the silence, the pressure inside started to lessen and eventually turned to sweet relief. I didn’t know how much I craved the silence until all the noise disappeared. Then I was happy I had listened to the pull inside my heart to take the day and find a quieter place; a place that was washed with the presence of God.

The day brought radiance to my soul. That alone felt so good. Sometimes we need to savor the silence, to embrace rest and chose the unhurried path. Occasionally running the race He has called us to do means slowing down, embracing the silence and snuggling close to God. Only then can we unwind with relief.