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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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Little House on the Prairie… My Summer, Part 2

When I zoned out at school as a child, I went to other places and was totally infatuated with the plans that I imagined in my mind.  At that stage of my life I was totally oblivious to the lack of reality that I was seeking and at times longed for….cast

Things like:

  • Being a trapeze artist in the Ringling Bros. Circus
  • owning every breed of dog imaginable and all of them being incredibly intelligent and well trained.. you know, the kind that would do more than just tricks… things like finding Timmy in the well…
  • being a Native American during the days of the wild west
  • living in a little house on the prairie… quite possibly with the Ingalls family

It was years later that I realized the reality behind the imagination…

Things like:

  • trapeze artists aren’t in high demand and who knows how much a trapeze artist’s salary is…even if it is good, you have to be somewhat athletic, I would assume?
  • a house full of dogs means smelly, even if you constantly groom and I’ve not had one dog who can do anything more than the regular “sit” and “stay”…. no, none of them ever learned to stay… and now that I think about it, they only sit when I say it when they are already sitting
  • To be a Native American in the wild west would not have been glamorous but likely quite dangerous
  • Living out a year’s worth of Little House on the Prairie episodes in real life is bound to place a normal emotionally healthy person over the edge.

I figured most of these out by the time I was in High School but the last one, the Little House one… that one just stunned me a few months ago when my daughter recently spent her birthday money to complete her collection of each season of the series.  I never realized how many tears Michael Landon had to squeeze out each week or so.  Now, I’m not knocking the series at all… still love it… but when you watch them back to back you realize what troubles those people had.  The bullying, the blindness, the ruined crops, the death, the orphans, the overweight people, the illnesses, the storms… Mercy! and I thought I wanted to be in the midst of it…

However, there was one episode where a dying mother asked Charles Ingalls to help her find a home for her children.  In his heart, he wanted to keep them but knew in his head that it wasn’t possible.  He searched and searched but found nothing… no one wanted to take three children.  He finally decided to give them each a home separately.  Once again, his heart was aching because he wanted to keep them …. more tears.  In the end there was a happy home for all together.

I experienced a tiny bit of that emotional Little House episode this summer…   A year ago I had a grandmother come to me to share with me the news of a her terminal illness.  It broke my heart because she had full custody of her grandson.  Her family taking him was not an option so she asked me to help her find a good home for him.  Now, I am a Children’s Pastor… I know nothing about this type of situation except that I wanted to grab him, build an extra bedroom and take him home but that was not to be….As it worked out she was able to find someone… only to find out that the situation wasn’t what she had hoped for.  So, she asked me and another lady from our church to help again.  This time though, time was precious….. she was growing worse.

My story was a bit different though.  I had technology to get the word out and I had people longing for a child.  The outcome was good.  We found a family…. friends of mine and for them it was an answer to a 20 year old prayer.  He is loved much by the family.

I have often thought about the grandmother.  Her act was bold, courageous and selfless.  She thought only of this child and his well being.  I’m pretty sure, if I was placed in the same situation, that I probably wouldn’t be able to do that.

I taught the kids tonight about Moses as a baby.  His mother, in some ways, did almost that same selfless act.  She had no way to know that when she hid her baby that her life wouldn’t be ended should he be found… she also had no idea when she placed him in the basket and sent him on his way that he wouldn’t drown… she also had no way to know what the reaction of Pharoah’s daughter would be to a Hebrew baby.  Moses ended up being just fine… and his biological mother even got to help raise him.

Both of these stories ended with a happy ending… not necessarily an emotionally void ending but a heart-warming ending.

Things are sometimes so often like a Little House on the Prairie episode. It may be easier to dream of a different life and definitely easier to dream of living in non-reality … but, hang in there, the episode is not over yet.

Exodus 2:1-10

The Birth of Moses

1 Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

8 “Yes, go,” she answered. And the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses,  saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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