Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thankful, Regardless!

     Many times when rain falls, I find myself complaining when a light rain turns into a downpour just as I start to take Quigley outside.  He has to go outside, so what's a gal to do?  I began complaining this morning as I opened the front door, only to find that the rain had begun to pick up the pace.  It was then that I realized we had been in a drought and needed the rain badly.  I turned back around with Quigley in tow and grabbed up the nice big golf umbrella I had purchased at Wal-Mart for just such occasions.  We faired well, and the umbrella did the trick, but shame on me for complaining to God when He had sent the blessing of rain for our benefit! 
     Grumbling is a sin because we haven’t trusted God in all areas of our lives.  We are often so busy complaining that we forget to be grateful for all God has given us.  We complain about our jobs.  Be thankful for jobs.  We complain about the weather.  Thank God that we have cool homes in the summer and warm homes in the winter.  We complain about our situations and struggles.  Trust  God and be grateful that He works in each of our lives, providing us with just what we need at just the right time.
     I want to be more apt to thank God for showering me with blessings than to find things to complain about.  I have found the best way I can do that is to ask God to guide my thoughts and actions, and for me to try keeping my mouth shut!  Debbie

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Saluda

Crossing the Saluda on my way to work each day, I never cease to observe the river.  I got to thinking one day how our lives are like a river.  Sometimes the river is so still and smooth that you can clearly see the reflection of the trees along the bank.  Other times there is a slight breeze stirring up ripples on the water, or maybe a school of fish disturbing the surface of the water.  When it rains, the water changes appearance again.  What about those times a storm is brewing, or too much rain has flooded the area, making the water turbulent?

Think on those days when everything is smooth troubles, no worries come our way.  Some days there are bumps in the road that get our attention, but for the most part, we call it a good day.  The rain may fall in a mist or a drizzle, later becoming torrential sheets of rain pelting us as a high wind sweeps through our path.  We all have those ups and downs, happy and sad, sometimes in the same day.  Oh, how we hate those trials and tough times we go through!  Turbulence the wreaks havoc in our lives is an unwelcome part of the plan we have for our lives.

Water is essential to life, but God gave us life.  Rivers flow lazily or rapidly.  God is constant.  He has a perfect plan if we will just 'go with the flow' and let Him work.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Picking up seashells

James 1:6  "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." KJV

Picking up seashells has always been a favorite pastime when I go to the beach.  My family will tell you that I have to bring home shells on each visit to the seashore.  Almost every room in my house has a container of broken shells.  I have a few complete white sand dollars I gathered on one rare day when riding in friend's boat, and we ran up on a sandbar.  I have to check out souvenir shops for the colorful, complete shells just because every now and then I want to think I have something 'perfect'.

Broken shells are mostly all I pick up because by the time they reach the shore, they have been pounded by the rocks and waves, and shells intact are hard to find.  Yet there is so much beauty in those broken shells.  It may be the color, the shape, the spiral insides showing where the outside of the shell has been pounded and broken, or the rare piece of God's creation like the piece of coral shaped like an 'A' that a friend kindly handed over to me for my daughter Anna.  Tiny auger shells no bigger than the fine point of a Sharpie marker are housed in a Canadian maple syrup bottle shaped like a leaf.  Olives, the state shell of South Carolina, Atlantic scallop shells detached from their other half, and broken conchs and channeled whelks showing their intricate insides are some shells I've brought from the 'Down East' shores of North Carolina.

One thing I've realized is that each day brings a whole new assortment of seashells.  I get excited just thinking about what I might find on a shore whose whole surface has changed from the day before.

Each day I get another chance to pick up the pieces of my life and start anew.  God takes me just as I am and loves me no matter how much I have been 'beaten by the waves'.  I had rather have a broken shell over a perfect one any day because it reminds me of the struggles I go through, the chances I get to start all over, and the way God works in His time to perfect me and teach me patience, trust, and faith.  In other words, He often has to break me to perfect me.  After all, I may wait a long time to find a perfect shell, it there is any such thing!

The outside of a 'perfect' shell may be beautiful, and I may even look fine on a given day, but what matters to God is what's inside of I react to struggles, how I realize I'm not perfect and often fail, and how I show Christ to a hurting world. 

Quigley has never been to the beach, but I can see him now...smelling the loam that's washed up, running into the water and chasing a dangerous jellyfish, coming back with whiskers full of sand, and perhaps trying to devour shells.  It would be a job keeping up with him in that situation, but I'd still like to give him the chance to enjoy that freedom at least for one day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

No Leash For Us!

Quigley depends on someone in the family to take him outside several times a day.  What fun it would be for him if we could open the door and let him scoot out of the house to run, jump, wallow in the grass, eat whatever is on the ground, and chase chickens!  Yet to keep him safe and away from things he shouldn't be into, he has to have a leash.  Certainly when Billy takes him for long walks he has to be on a leash or he might fall into some danger on that country road.

With a leash, I can somewhat control what he is doing.  I sometimes let him chase the chickens as long as I hold him on the leash, but he only gets so close, not enough to catch one, just close enough to send them squawking, running, and sometimes flapping their wings to fly just off the ground to avoid being caught.  I let him confront a hen one day, only to find that she had chicks and was none too happy, protecting them like a mother would.  Thankfully, I had him on the leash and pulled him back before she pecked him!

Humans, though, are not kept on leashes that control them.  Sure we see toddlers with harnesses, and there are certainly those that we think need to be controlled with leashes, but God has made us to move around freely in our world.  He has given us free will to make our own choices.  Sad thing is, we have to live with those decisions we have made and may spend years breaking the bond of bad choices.  The good thing is that we can recoup from the unwise decisions that seem to be impossible situations.

God is good and forgiving.  He is a Father that disciplines, often not to our liking, yet He brings us back to Him.  It's our choice to serve Him or ignore Him.  He wants us to live a life pleasing and faithful to Him, but it is our choice.

I can't imagine a world where I would be bound and under the control of someone who would keep me on a leash.  Thank God He has called us to be His children, wants to protect us, and desires to bestow the best upon us.  It's there for the asking.  It's there for the taking.  Are we listening to the instructions our Father is giving us?

I want what's best for Quigley, and he has been disciplined.  He's a fast learner and a good example of one who has learned to behave and listen to instructions.  Yet unlike us, he still has to stay on that leash!

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Rainbow

A rainbow is not only a thing of beauty, but a promise from God. 

Quigley should be well socialized since I am continually talking to him.  When we take our walks, I point out the birds, chickens, horse, goat, cars, etc., and of course, I am sure he understands.  He stops and looks directly at them, and that should be proof enough!  He is observing his world and seeing all the exciting things that exist from his viewpoint.  Every day is a gift from God that provides so much natural beauty if we will open our eyes to see it unfold.  Those simple things bring such richness to life, and God is continually revealing lessons from nature.

When we were building our house, Quigley had not yet come into our lives.  Billy and I had started out to the farm one late summer evening to check on the progress with the house when he spotted a rainbow.  It was almost a complete arch except for a few clouds at the very top.  Our lives can be like that when we see our path clearly.

Within the next few minutes, another rainbow began to form next to the first one.  The second one had a beginning and an end, but clouds were covering the rest of the rainbow.  Sometimes our lives are clouded by fears and doubts just like the rainbow that was faint and clouded.  Like the second rainbow, everything has a beginning and an end, but we don't know all the in-between.

God knows the outcome and is faithful to see us through anything we face if we are willing to let Him handle it.  What a beautiful world He has given us, and how wonderful His unfailing promises of love and concern!

I constantly carried my camera with me while we were building the house, but had forgotten it that evening.  When we got to the house site, the same rainbow was stretched out framing the house.  I missed getting a picture, and it would have been a good one to have, but I don't need a picture to remind me of God's promises. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Be Still and Wait: Patience

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him" - Psalm 37:7a NIV

Most dogs jump, run around in circles, and can scarcely contain themselves when it comes to waiting as their owner attaches the leash and opens the door to go outside.  Yet Quigley, my year-old Shih Lhasa, waits calmly, looking up at me with those large light-brown eyes while I fumble to attach his leash.  His patience with me, as well as his ability to 'be still', astounds me each time I prepare to take him outside.

His breed was typically the choice of royalty, pretty much content to lie around the house and sleep.  He was placed in the right family, for sure.  Not that we are royalty, but most of us are pretty passive and laid back. Patience, though, is not something that comes naturally for any of us.

Can you see yourself waiting in line at the fast food restaurant arguing that this place has lost its rating as 'fast food'?  Are you waiting for the mail that contains that package of whatever you swore you had to have or a refund check because you overpaid the doctor?  Are you punching numbers on your phone just to get to the 'right person', only to find that you are transferred somewhere else? Are you blowing your horn at the car ahead of you because the light is green and the folks haven't put the pedal to the metal fast enough?  Are you waiting patiently?  I'd shout a loud, "No Way!"  We experience impatience every day in this fast paced world. 

We're impatient creatures when it comes to our physical world , yet I find that most of our impatience comes when waiting on the Lord.  We pray and pray, yet God has not answered us quickly enough.  We want an answer right now!  When are we going to learn that as Christians we should know God is in control and He acts in His own time and own way?  He provides our needs.

God's timing is perfect.  Personally, I worry, I wait impatiently for God to answer, then I determine to hand it over to God and let Him work.  Know what?  I take it right back, thinking that I can do a better job.  I have to remind myself several times a day that God wants what is best for me, that the only person I can attempt to control is me, and that He will work at His pace, not mine.  His answers are not always what I had in mind, but had I gotten what I wanted or had things work out like I thought they should, I would have had a tremendous mess on my hands!

Only when we are still and waiting patiently for God to work will we learn what God is teaching us. Thank God that He is in control because it is the only way we can be sure that the situation will work out for our good. Our world needs patience, our world needs to know that God is in control, our world needs God.

I'm trying to wait patiently on this slow computer, but I confess it is one of my pet peeves.  Quigley has just flopped down in the floor to rest.  He has no concerns because he knows someone is taking care of him.  He can be still and wait patiently because he knows his needs will be met.  God is constantly working to meet the needs we have.

Lord, help me wait patiently.  Help me be still and know that God is supreme and is to be exalted above the earth.  I know that God is taking care of me and that waiting patiently to hear His voice is the only way my life on earth is worth living.  Help me learn what You are teaching me as I wait patiently, and be still and know that You are God.