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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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Take a hike… seriously… I mean, really… literally….

hikingI don’t know what I was thinking… an hour to spare and I said, ” Why don’t we take this other trail?  It seems silly to go home when we could keep walking for another hour.  It can’t possibly take that long.”  I don’t know if the map was totally exaggerated or if I was oxygen deprived and not thinking straight, but for me to suggest we hike further????? Totally not me.  First of all, let me set the record straight, I do like to hike… as long as the trail is relatively flat, the air is cool and I can wear my flip-flops.   Also, I need to walk with slow walking people… my leg stride is so short that I have to run to keep up with others and believe me, I have a few friends who just about kill me when we are walking… at the mall.  You know who you are..

But the point is, hiking is a fun way to exercise my body and my mind.  I love to look at the world around me as I walk and marvel at creation..( I also, like to stop and sit on creation and take a breather every now and then)  I often wonder what it would be like to be someone walking that same route 100 years ago.  Obviously,  it is a way to get my mind off of the fact that I’m panting and doubled over… but it is way better than walking through a neighborhood or on a treadmill.  Way prettier pictures…

Our hike last Friday was at a place we had never been before… we checked it out for its family friendliness and decided that it was going to be a diamond in the rough… a total treasure that we had overlooked.  The pictures sported beautiful streams, small and medium sized water falls, a river overlook,  rustic bridges, a wild animal or two… we were excited.  We gathered our walking sticks… yes, we are that professional… our picnic cooler, cameras and I threw on my flip-flops and headed out the door.

After lunch we headed to the information center to get our trail map and into the woods we went.  Our walk was a tree covered, dirt path that took us to a water gate that was long deteriorated and gone … probably for a century and a half… there was an incredible rock wall that had stood the test of time but the stream was a trickle…The only wildlife we saw was a tick crawling on a leg and my husband throwing a rock off of the trail to make us think something was moving in the woods…. Our seven-year-old began to grow weary and began stating her favorite hiking place was not the one where we were…her favorite, she reminded us, was the one that my husband had first suggested we go… I kept telling her to keep her opinions to herself… she longed to see a waterfall…I was determined that this would be her new favorite place…mainly because it was my suggestion… so I didn’t want to leave until she could find that picture perfect waterfall.  I wasn’t finding the waterfalls on the map so I thought the river overlook might satisfy a seven-year-old’s desire to see water.

We worked our way back to the main path and I realized that we had a hour before the trails closed… it seemed such a waste to leave after such a short little walk…. we hadn’t even seen a waterfall.  As we stood on the hot main trail, our older daughter decided that wanting a haircut was more important than our physical health and she started to zone out of the hiking mood… the first trail was fun but now in the hearts of all but me… well,  it was time to leave.  Instead, of leaving we took a shortcut through an open meadow that made us all cranky and thirsty.  I hike in flip-flops so it is probably also apparent that I would not hike with a bottle of water or any other kind of liquid for that matter.  We all began to get thirsty.  My husband just so happened to have a Diet Coke Plus in the camera case and the girls were at least able to share that.  About two thirds of the way into our “shortcut” we realized our timing was going to be an issue and now the whole bathroom thing kicked in too.  We were so close to the river overlook that it seemed silly to walk away so my husband said that we could definitely make it if we walked back in double time.  “Double time? I have been walking in double time,” I said.  ….. (Remember my walking stride is short) So I finally shrugged it off and said, “On to the Overlook”  With frustrated hiking daughters, we made it there.  Still no waterfall, but it was a nice view… a cool, safe cliff to sit on and look over into the murky waters of the Kentucky River…. totally worth the walk….  we double-timed our way back to the car… we made it out of the park with 3 minutes to spare before they closed the gates.  It was as if we had accomplished a tremendous feat.

Sometimes it seems that the most difficult thing to overcome happens to be the best experience that we never dreamed it could be.  Our hike wasn’t devastating… but it wasn’t filled with many moments that would be considered incredible at the time either.  However, looking back, had we stopped walking when we did, we wouldn’t have seen the river from the overlook point and we wouldn’t have had the family memory…. now we can laugh about it.

I’m preparing for The Family Adventure (a family event where I work) and I was reading  the Persistent Widow Parable.  You know, that lady kept on “keeping on.”  She didn’t give up asking for justice.  She finally got on the nerves of the judge so he gave in to her request. widow Jesus said that if we see this uncaring, unjust judge answering the request, then just imagine what a loving Father would do.  It would be really easy to look at that parable and take away from it that we have to beg and whine in order for God to answer our prayers the way we want them answered or we should ask God to be our genie in a lamp,  but I don’t think that either is the point.   I think the point may be to not give up before it is time to quit so you don’t miss out on the blessing that God has in store.  Maybe persistence in prayer is not for us to feel good about the accomplishment or the gift, but maybe it helps us appreciate the power of God.

So, if you are hiking and are ready to quit before the trails close… double-time your walk and continue on to another trail… you might see something incredible.

If you are praying and seeking God’s will, don’t give up when things seem quiet…  but instead keep on “keeping on” and hold on for an incredible experience of God at work.

He loves you.

Luke 18:1-8

Parable of the Persistent Widow

1 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. 2 There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, who neither feared God nor cared about people. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

6 Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man[a] returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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