Sunday, August 23, 2009


Today I was polishing many pieces of silver for a wedding that is coming up in just a couple of short weeks (!), and in the midst of it all, God began to speak to my heart. In the picture above, you can see two teapots, one very tarnished, and the other less so. The shinier of the two started out just as bad as the darker one. But with a little bit of polish and a lot of elbow grease, its shine has begun to return. It still has areas that need work in order to look its best, but it has come a long way...wouldn't you agree?

We are much the same. We start out tarnished, wondering if there is any potential left in us to shine. But God brings out the polish and begins to work in our lives. Sometimes we forget how much God has done, because all we see is the tarnish that has yet to be worked away. We forget that we are beginning to shine, despite the work that needs to be done. A work in progress like these two teapots...with much potential. God, our maker, knows that potential and seeks to bring it out. It is not an easy process, but is one that takes meticulous work. In the end, it is worth it. We end up like new, like the one below.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

remembering your salvation

Almost eight years ago, I had a powerful encounter with God. He changed my life, and it really has not been the same since. Recently, He has been reminding me to remember my salvation. That feeling of when He went deep and I made the decision to live my life for Him. I am being saved daily, but that moment was so important. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing that we forget why we are doing it in the first place. This is why I am remembering. I wrote the following the night of this encounter on 10/2/01:

From the moment I was conceived
You had your gentle hand
Around my little beating heart
I grew not knowing of your love
Until later years
You called my father into your arms
When I was five
Bringing me closer to you too
I learned your stories
And sang your praise
Believing you were real
Even when my parents divorced
The pain was so strong
I could have been weak
But you would not let me
So much temptation
Surrounding my everyday life
But you held my hand
Guiding me away from danger
At age 12, I knew you
I wanted you closer
Yet at that wonderful time of openness
I, instead, began to look away
I never doubted you
But I never leaned on you either
I pulled away from your grip
And felt I was strong enough...alone
I was not ready to give it all to you
Even as I fell away
You never left me
Your arms always stayed open
Protecting me from horrible decisions
You saw not what I seemed to be
But what I was meant to be
I would look back and see you
I would come back here and there
Not fully, still not ready
And you knew, you waited
I went to church, I was supposed to
I even taught Sunday School
My heart was not quite there though
I kept going through the motions
High school ended
I started to feel even more lost
Loneliness ached inside me
But I shut my eyes tighter
And your embrace did not loosen
Two years and it was time to leave home
You found me a home
You brought me here
And although I did not have to
My parents were not here to make me
I felt compelled to find a church and go
You were pulling me
And for the wrong reasons
I found myself in your Presence
And both times I cried
The first time I thought I was home sick
But needed to be there
Tonight I cried too
But unexpectedly, suddenly
I was right, I needed to be here
In your arms
It was finally time
And there you stood
Smiling, knowing, loving
As you always have been
I cried harder
Ashamed at knowing I had not
Fully known you, loved you, trusted you
You surrounded me with prayers
From strangers, yet sisters in your love
As you forgave me
I stopped shaking, but tears still flowed
Thankfulness filled my heart
And the shame and embarrassment melted away
I am your child
I am beautiful in your eyes
And I found myself humbled at your feet
A new peace in my soul
You pick me up and hold my hand
So that I can walk with you
I do not deserve your mercy
But you freely give it
You still hold my heart
In your gentle hands
And if I ever stumble again
I know you will not leave me behind
Your patience is overwhelming
I will never be alone
You are always with me
Today I pledge to give my life to you
Not just part of it
Hold it close and keep my faith strong
Because God, I need you.

must love dogs?

I am not the typical "dog person". I did not grow up with dogs really. My only experiences with dogs in a living situation consisted of two very different scenarios:

-My mom's house, where she had up to four dogs at one time, 3 out of 4 being Pekingese, and they were treated like her children. She was not able to maintain the house well due to back issues, and there was dog hair everywhere. Drove me crazy. I liked her dogs, but I was grateful I did not live there.

This is Sara, short for Sara Lee, one of my mom's dogs. Poor thing had such a bad knot in her hair that she had to be shaved! Ended up looking like a little lion....

-My dad's house, where during my last year at home, we got Penny. She is made out of spitfire and obstinance. This dog, as a puppy, "broke into the house" by scratching at one of the screens that happened to be at her level. I came home to her wagging her tail in the entryway, while I scratched my head because no one was home and she was supposed to be outside when no one was home...and yes, she left a present on the carpet. She was in BIG trouble. This dog would also LOVE being dragged across the room with her legs behind her. I think she liked how it felt on her belly. We would drag her across the room and she would pull us back, only to start the process over again. Silly dog. She was my late night greeter when I came home from work, demanding a treat for this task. I began to demand at least a handshake and a kiss before obliging. She insists upon being a part of everything we do. And if she cannot be in the same room, she will get as close to the action as physically possible. Like sitting on the landing of the stairs and peeking around the corner. Or sticking her nose through the railing and sniffing our hair JUST to remind us that she is still there. She sits on the stairs like a lady. And now, every time I come home to visit, she bounds up to me, nearly taking me out each time. Her whole body wags, and she sniffs me like crazy. Even with a hurt leg, she cannot help but love me so much and still try her darnest to greet me with all the excitement she could muster. It made my heart hurt to hear her yelp in pain...and all I wanted her to do was calm down. There is no doubt in my mind that this dog is crazy about me, and she has worked her way into my heart.

This is Penny, sitting on the stairs like a lady. This is also her spot of choice when we are all in the living room where she is not allowed to be. She'll lay at the landing and sigh while she watches us have fun.

All of this to say that although I am not a dog person, I do love dogs. Do I want one of my own? Not really. Not now for sure, but maybe not even ever. I have a strong feeling that will change when I have children of my own and their pleading eyes are saying "pah-weeze!"...ha ha ha. And the topic comes to mind because in one month, I will be gaining two new housemates. One beautiful, fun girl and her dog, Penny. Yes, two dogs in my life named Penny. Pennies from heaven, you may ask? The verdict is still out on that one. I am sure there will be adventures to come with this new canine friend in my life. I am a sucker for dogs, so I am sure she too will win me over. However, I will never be the kind of girl who dresses her dog up or carries it around in her purse. That is weird. Dogs are not people. And if I ever give in to the notion of being a dog owner, you bet I will pawn off the dog poop duty to whoever I can, even to those pleading eyes who probably got me into that mess in the first place.

don't sweat the small stuff

I have recently realized that I get easily overwhelmed by little details...because I have not been trusting God with them. It seems that I have talked myself into believing that God doesn't really care about the little things, and besides, I can handle the small stuff, right? God has done big financial miracles for me, and has healed many big areas of my heart. But the small stuff?

Going back to the "overwhelmed" see, all of those little things add up pretty quickly. Individually, one might be able to deal with it and move on. But as they add up, they grow and soon, I am one stressed out girl. All because I have this backward way of thinking that God is not into the details. Sure, He'll hook me up with a sweet parking spot from time to time, or when times are tough, someone buys me lunch. But taking all the little things before God? Does He really care?

But, but, but....yeah, all those buts. God, this weekend, began to show me, in small ways, how MUCH He loves the little things. I am in a wedding in one month, and we had not officially picked the bridesmaid dresses until last Thursday. The one we ended up picking is one that I like, but we thought may have been slightly too big. These dresses have been a source of stress, for sure. We took it to a person well-versed in sewing, and she said it was a simple fix. One little hook on the inside of the dress would solve the problem. Check. Easy. The beautiful bride was looking for earrings for her dress, and shoes...which were even more important because her dress fitting was for hemming it, and without the shoes, no one can predict the length! Well, she found earrings for $5.00...and as we mad-dashed through the mall on the day of her fitting, we managed to find the shoes 45 minutes before the appointment. As these things began to happen, I found myself thanking God along the way, and that my thanks came easily. He was making me aware of these small things, and I was so grateful. One of the nights, we walked into a smoothie shop and it turned out to be closed. But because they did not lock the door, they gave us free drinks! And they tasted amazing! (like 50/50 bars)

Funny thing was that it wasn't the little things that I got so excited about, even though they were great, but that God was speaking to my heart about a concept I am needing to learn. And He is patiently teaching me not to "sweat the small stuff."