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Stop! In the name of pug….well, more like poodle.. and Nix the Resolutions

Taking the back roads has its perks.  Things like few stop lights, if any… scenery prettier than buildings and concrete… and just all around less boring…. I also like to think that they are shortcuts but often times they take just as long if not longer because of the hills and curves.  Anyway, the other morning I had stopped to grab a cup of coffee and then began rushing myself to work through the not-so-shortcut back road shortcut.  I came zooming over the hill only to come to a screeching halt….. coffee was sloshing, but no problem for me… the lid stayed tight.

I looked ahead to find why traffic wasn’t moving and there, sitting in the middle of the road, was a little bitty poodle.  He was dirty and matted and had apparently decided that the line in the middle of the road was a comfy spot.  Amazingly, that little animal was backing up traffic about 7 cars deep on both sides of the road.  The school bus that was leading the line of cars opposite of me was honking the horn…. the dog just looked up… I wondered if possibly the dog was deaf but it seemed as if he heard the noise but just was too stubborn to move.  Finally, after sitting in traffic for a bit, a lady a few cars in front of me hopped out of her and started walking toward the dog.  Still the dog sat.  The lady began yelling at the dog and clapping her hands. In essence, pushing the dog without touching him.   The dog moved…. but only a small step… she now sat in front of the bus…. the lady continued clapping until the dog finally retreated to the middle of another road.

Traffic began moving along as normal once again.  I noticed as I passed by that there was another lady who had maneuvered her way out of traffic to the side of the road to see if she could rescue this poor little, confused, dirty, matted dog.  She very gently and slowly walked up to the dog and though I couldn’t hear what she was saying, it was apparent that she was talking sweetly in that “you’re a good puppy, aren’t you” voice.   You would think that this unattractive little dog would have been excited to hop in a warm car with a sweet person who obviously cared about its welfare, but instead it barked and growled and when the lady backed up a bit the poodle took off running into a tangled brush area just off of the road.

As I drove past I could see the look on the helpful lady’s face and I think it was one of disbelief or frustration or that of helplessness.  She had done all she could do.  The poodle made its own choice.

A part of me chuckled at the whole situation… a little dog holding up so much traffic.  He got warnings and he even got sympathy but even after he begrudgingly moved, he accepted nothing from anyone and continued on the same path that he was already on. All I could think of was what a sad, little stubborn (or maybe dumb) dog.  And it was then that I think I got a little kick in my rear …. you know, I tend to be just like that little dog.  I’ll sit in traffic (theoretically, not technically) … as dangerous as it might be… and a warning may push me to move a little bit, but even at times when I am completely moved, I may run back to the same old routine. Are ya with me?

I usually don’t make  New Year’s resolutions but the New Year  is a great time to begin a new routine.  I heard on the radio yesterday morning that the average person will have abandoned their resolutions by day 18.  But I have also heard that it takes 6 weeks to create a new habit… so pushing beyond day 18 for a little over another 18 days will create a changed person.  I can imagine that if that poodle had gotten into that car, he would have been cleaned up, nourished and ended up looking like a cute, lovable little guy.  That is a good ending to a bad situation.  So what makes us stop before day 18 rolls around? Could it be fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of failing, fear of stepping out of what is comfortable?….

But you know something else… there were two women in that situation who were very important… the one who moved the dog and the one who tried to rescue the dog… Sometimes we don’t even realize we are in the middle of the road and we need a reminder, someone to move us.  I think that is where God jumps in and does the motivating that gets us to move and provides the rescuing of our lives… maybe it is a friend or family member who urges us to get help, maybe it is an invite to church, maybe it is a song or story that is heard or maybe we look up and step out of ourselves and see the lives we are affecting (just like the backed up traffic).  Then we find ourselves at a crossroad to an encouragement, a safe place, a hope…. a loving God…..or back to the same old tangled brush.

Maybe you are a like that little dog in the road…. possibly in a dangerous situation… maybe it is a habit that is killing you,  a lifestyle that consumes you,  a relationship that alienates you, an attitude that robs you,  an ailment that embarrasses you, or a spiritual neglect that is calling you… Whatever it is, you don’t have to sit in the road or run to the tangled brush… you can hop in the car and be changed.

This can be the year to not make a resolution to change but to actually change.  That’s my prayer.

Philippians 4:13

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

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Posted by on January 7, 2010 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Sing with me…”Whoa Black Friday, Bam-A-Lam… ” Oh, the memories…

Yes, I know that the song is really “Black Betty”, but it is kind of catchy, don’t you think? I don’t know about you but Black Friday always seems to sound like such a creepy day that I think it needs something like a theme song.

I’ve never quite figured out why a day that kicks off the holiday shopping season has such a dreary name.  Black Friday… it reminds me of a day that we should either be in mourning or scaring the living daylights out of each other… “Move over Halloween, it’s Black Friday… Bwahhhahahaha….”.

I realize that the whole “Black” thing has to do with some accounting term about being on the good side of the economic table, but even having to explain the term “Black Friday” is so boring…. It seems like they could have created a name that is a bit more appealing to the laypeople.  Maybe they could have named it- “Really Big Sale Friday” or “Crazy Standing in Line Friday” or “Fight for your Deal Friday” or “Be Kind Friday”(Sending out a subliminal message, of course) or “Spend Lots of Money Friday” or “Camp Out Friday”… Do you realize how hard it is to convince a 7 year-old that you don’t have to dress in black on Black Friday??  Let’s just say that she now has a new black T-shirt….

Regardless of why it is called what it is, I have never really been a fan of it.  I have gone out a few times during the early morning hours but I will have to say that each time was only because my sister-in-law was at my house and I went to keep her company.  I’m more of a 10:00am, catch the mid-morning deals, type person, but when I’ve gone with her I admittedly have found a bargain or two.

This year there was a twist to our experience.  There was no 4:00am alarm.  Nope.  Toys R Us opened at midnight and we were going to get a deal.  We figured there wouldn’t be much of a crowd.  After all it was Thanksgiving evening and most would be gearing up for the next morning.  My two oldest were ready for their Black Friday initiation and at 11:50pm, off all four of us (my sister-in-law was obviously there) went to get bargains at the toy store.  As we got closer we began to see that traffic was pretty heavy for a midnight… and as we got even closer we found that it was pointless to take the front roads but instead cut to another road and slyly worked our way up from the back.  As it turned out, we weren’t the only ones who had that thought and we were in total disbelief…

Though there was no way to count, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.. hundreds, maybe even thousands of people…. there was a line that stretched amazingly around the whole mall building.  I couldn’t imagine that this could be the line for Toys R Us.  (Apparently, Zhu Zhu pets had gone under my toy radar and I was oblivious to the Zhu Zhu pet craze that allowed parents to actually get their child a clean smelling hamster..not a real one but close enough)…….As it turned out it was the line for the toy store or at least that is what we were led to believe.  We walked to the back of the line and answered as cars passed by and asked us if we were in the Toys R Us line.  We would nod our heads and shrug our shoulders at the same time because we, just like everyone else, just went to the back of the line without checking to see where the line went.  So, our assumption was that we, along with everyone else in Lexington, were waiting to go buy toys.

After a few minutes and a dozen or so cars asking if we were standing in line for the toy store, I decided to be bold and venture to the front of the mall area to just make sure that we weren’t standing in line for the makeup or furniture store. (I know, I know… no one would stand in line for a furniture store…makeup maybe but not furniture)  What do you know, we were in the correct line. But there is a catch to this…. it wasn’t the only line.  There was another line that was about 1/20 the size of the other line.  I got in the short line and called my sister-in-law to come join me and we giggled the rest of the time at our Black Friday maneuvers.  Oh, the memories…..

Well, our night didn’t stop there… one hour in line outside (yes, in the short line), two shopping hours and one more hour in line to check out…. it was now time for other stores to open.  Walmart had better watch out because the Hall ladies were tired, slap-happy and hungry…. Oh, the memories

We tackled the Walmart bargains and again went to get in line to check out.  I double checked my basket to see if it was worth the wait…. the line stretched completely from the front of the store to the very back of the garden center (for non-Walmart consumers, that is a long line) and yes, my goodies were worth the wait.  So we started walking to the back of the long line and it hit me… we were just assuming that this was the only line… while my sister-in-law waited in line, I again took off and navigated to the front of the store to scout out the line construction…. little surpise to find out that there were plenty of two to three people lines but those in the long line had no idea.

I hopped in a short line, called my sister-in-law and we once again giggled at our little Black Friday maneuvers.  Oh the memories…

I’ve thought a lot about those lines since Friday.  I think I was amazed at how easy it is just to get in line and not really know what lies ahead.  Everyone else seemed so confident and patient in those long lines… as if it was inevitable that the long line was the only line available… looking around at the confidence and patience it seemed as if it was the natural thing just to fall into that line, no questions asked… How easy that is with a spiritual walk as well…we know the relationship we need to have with God but then we look around and everyone else seems to be heading for that big long line… they talk the talk, whether it be faith filled or anti-faith filled talk, and seem very confident so we tend to just get into that line because it seems to be leading in the right direction.  We have no idea where it really leads but we scoot along blindly missing so much because we didn’t venture away.

I’m wondering how many people live their daily lives thinking that they are in the best line… maybe they are longing for something different, knowing that there is a shorter line out there just waiting… or maybe they are content to find out that others passed them by….I’m not pointing a finger a any one group of people…there could be many.

What line are you in? Are you tired of living in the long line? Have you stepped away to find the short line?
It is out there… seek it, you’ll find it.

After my Black Friday adventure I went home, fixed some breakfast and fell asleep.  Pretty sure now that the whole Black Friday name is because of the sleep you have to catch up on when you get home… well, deserved name then, I guess.  My father asked me if I enjoyed myself and I believe I said that I would never do that again…. well, at least until next year.

2 Peter 3:17-18

17 I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends. Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! (Must say it with a Gomer Pyle drawl)

surpriseI realize that not every surprise is a pleasant experience.  Yes, I’ve been on the boat of unpleasant surprises many times…You can ask the boat pilot whose name just happens to be Officer Gotcha  A.K.A.  Mr. “Can I see your License and Registration, please?” …Anyway, I am not naive to the fact that people may tend to connect surprises with a negative emotion, but I am also aware that surprises can be a wonderful thing.

Sometimes the unexpected is a great way to show someone that they are loved or a great way to feel that you are loved.  Here’s what I mean…You know you are loved when:

  • You go to work to find a surprise drawing on your computer wallpaper from your daughter that says, “I love you, Mom.” (Happened even with a post-it note this morning)
  • Your seven-year-old surprises you with a shoulder massage. ( It was actually a job well done)
  • Your co-worker brings to work your favorite dessert just to surprise you (Banana Pudding…. she is so thoughtful)
  • You receive an unexpected phone call from your friend who just called to say that you are loved (Makes me miss ’em)
  • Your health conscious husband surprises you with Krispy Kreme donuts on a Saturday morning while you sleep in.  (Okay, that one didn’t happen.. but it might if he sees that I wrote this)
  • Your husband surprises you by cleaning your office while you are in a meeting  (that one did happen!)
  • You wake up to a surprise of hundreds of plastic forks sticking up in your yard….. (Yes, you read that correctly… My neighbor and her accomplice put Howie Mandel, Allen Funt and Ashton Kutcher to shame)

See, not all surprises beat to a negative drum… some are just great reminders of how much you are loved… Okay, some might beg to differ about the whole fork thing but I’m leaning on the love side of the prank…forked yard

I’ve always felt that if those surprise moments were common place then they would mean nothing.

Take for instance the the story of Paul and Silas.  Here are these two guys in prison, chained up, praying and singing their hearts out … probably pretty annoying to the non-believers in earshot and the jailer who has to listen while he does his job… but they were singing praises while chained up when all of a sudden an earthquake type event happened… their chains are broken off and they, along with others, are now free.  I would imagine that the area was dark, possibly the jailer had a rock bump his head or maybe just in the panic of the situation, he, the jailer, had fail written on his forehead… he was ready to kill himself for slacking on the job and not keeping the prisoners in their places… earthquake or not.   Now, Paul and Silas were given the opportunity to flee… to get out of there fast.  But instead of running they surprised this man.  They, along with the other prisoners were still there.  They told him to not harm himself that everyone was still there and they weren’t going anywhere.  The jailer was shocked.  Their surprise stopped his suicide.  Instead of his tragic intention,  he was so blown away by their actions that he wanted to know more about who they were singing about.  In reality, I guess their surprise showed so much love that he was changed then and there.  He had Paul and Silas come to his home and he became a follower of Christ.   Had this guard been used to seeing prisoners who had the opportunity to flee and didn’t……if this had been normal behavior that Paul and Silas had shown then their actions would have meant nothing.

Just like my family… if they did all of those things mentioned above on a daily basis then I would probably soon forget the importance of what they were trying to show me.  Maybe it is not so bad to surprise others…

I think I know who my surprise “victim” will be today ….and I won’t even use forks.

Who needs a surprise from you today?

Acts 16: 22-40

22The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.

35When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”

37But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”

38The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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