Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What a Difference Five Years Makes

Below is the post from five years ago.  Then, I was spending a couple months in Florida as I worked on my first novel.  Now, several books later, I'm looking at different scenery, and missing one of my best dogs ever.


Tilly Sprints the Beach
For those of you tiring of cold weather, here's some refreshing scenery for you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Gift of a Broken Dream

Guess who joined us on a recent walk?
As you can see, Tilly didn't approve of Captain venturing out on the road, and Emmit tried to stop his progress.  But, oh, would Captain love to walk with his dogs. (For those concerned, this was taken very close to the house and he ran back quickly.)

If only he were a dog. If only he was brave enough to walk a mile by their side.  If only he was leash trained....

Captain can't fulfill this particular dream.

Perhaps you've had a dream (or two, or three, or more) that hasn't been fulfilled.

We live in a culture that promises us fairy tale lives with fairy tale endings.  When we believe this is reality, we are often bitterly disappointed.  Strangely, we don't blame the fair tale.  We blame God.

Sometimes our dreams are very good.  In fact, they are the kind of dreams that seem to come true for nearly everyone else.  Or so it seems.  We think that if we had those dreams it would mean both that God loved us AND we deserved it, that we would serve God greatly and He'd be honored if we had that.

And there are times we have a fulfilled dream, but it disappears.  That is when we figure that God not only is cruel, He does not love us, bless us, or want what is good for us.  Maybe we did everything right, and we didn't make an idol out of our good dream, but it was taken anyway.  Surely God is against us, if He's even there at all.

It's so easy to believe those lies.  The absence of our fairy tale is proof.  Somehow we believe that.

I've been there.  Have you?

If we are God's children and God is love, do we believe that God is a child abuser?  Perhaps we may feel that way on occasion, and even point to impressive evidence as proof.  But, I have to say I just can't buy it completely.

Because in my case and in many others, that shattered dream was swept up, thrown away, and rebuilt by a loving and perfect God.  While in no way has He made me perfect, all the pain was turned inside out and given to me as strength, and every now and then, courage.  In ways I could never have done on my own, I see the results of how God can rebuild, and every now and then, it looks pretty good.  In fact, it is supernatural, and not at all my own doing.  Others will tell you the same.  And it's what God promises, that He makes beauty from ashes. 

Turns out He doesn't promise us a fairy tale life and a fairy tale ending.  He promised to be there through all the tough stuff, to receive our brokenness and gives us His dreams, which are much better than the little hopes and small expectations we have.

Do we get an answer for our pain?  Sometimes a glimmer, maybe, but possibly never.  But we are given Presence - perfect and everlasting.

While we often can "only imagine" what is to come, we can get a taste of the Eternal and the Heavenly, when we humbly realize that as drivers in the driver's seat, we stink. 

Why can't Captain walk on the road?  Because he can't walk on a leash.  If he could, then he'd be safe, and he could fulfill that particular dream.  Sometimes we think that a leash is a means of restricting our freedom.  But in the hands of someone who understands safety, and what is ultimately good for us, then it becomes the means of walking down a road to adventure.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Strange Benchfellows

It's Dooley.  It's Captain.  Within inches of each other and not fighting.

It's a Ground Hog Day Miracle.
Okay, it's not a great picture, mainly because it was cloudy, which is why the Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow and we'll have an Early Spring.

Captain loves to beat up on peace-loving Dooley.  When I caught them napping on the same bench together, it was a true surprise.  I guess when you want to enjoy the warmth of the woodburner and avoid the clumping paws of the dogs, cooperation and tolerance are necessary.

Our world can be cold and people regularly beat us up with their words and attitudes.  And to be fair, we may dish out some of the beating too. 

Jesus came to call an unlikely group to Himself for forgiveness, grace and new life and freedom.  While there are no obstacles other than our own pride to prevent us to get to Him, there are plenty of other Christ followers who cause us a lot of grief and discouragement.

AND YET....Jesus said getting along is important.  Forgiving, as Christ forgives us (ouch).  And like porcupines in the storm (as Steve Brown says), when we're beat up, we need each other for kindness and mercy.  We may not want to get along, but often we can focus on what is truly important and let the other stuff fall aside (no matter how right you are and wrong they are!). 

A warm heart is not easy to foster, but with Jesus' amazing grace, he can create a new one in us.  When we are with other Christ-followers, that warmth can grow and extend to others.  And that's really what Jesus was about.  Sit on the bench with your enemy.  After all, he is sitting next to you.