Me and my broken dog

Me and my broken dog

We can’t be whole apart from Jesus

Relationships consist of broken people. Or in this case, a broken dog. Please don’t be offended, but I was never an animal lover. I’ll admit the whole fur baby mentality made no sense to me, at least not until this canine beauty came along.

I mean seriously, look at those eyes. Even a cold heart would melt.

Now she is crippled. My dog is broken.

Proverbs 12:10, “A righteous man cares about his animal’s health.” HCSB

CONVERTED

Three years ago, this dog converted me and I’m plain stupid over her. I mean, she rides in the passenger seat of my car. Since my family was insanely active, I chose an Australian shepherd. We ran the streets, the park, hiking trails and around the pond on my property. Though I swore I would never allow an animal inside my house, the endless shedding is worth her companionship. She loves to fetch a ball, play Frisbee and tug of war. She’s quiet social, but especially adores kids allowing them to wallow on her. But, she does not like the mailman, not one little bit.

Matthew 6:25, “Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” MSG

JOINED AT THE HEART

Despite the fact that she was only a puppy when I became disabled with myasthenia gravis, my furry bundle of energy sat down at my feet and parked herself. Dogs have an uncanny connection to their humans. She never insisted on playing; she was simply by my side. When I was away for 16 days for surgery, she sunk into a deep depression  and nearly exploded with excitement when I returned.

Genesis 7:1-2, “Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals.”  NIV

DISABLED DOG

As my health improved, so did her energy. Now she selects a toy and whimpers for me to play. I can’t run with her, but she accepts that and we walk a little and I throw the ball when I can. But she has one bad habit – she chases that threatening mailman who invades our domain every day. She must have finally caught his car because I came home to find her skinned up, a little bloody and with a dislocated hip. The damage is permanent and now I have a disabled dog.

Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” NASB

BROKEN TOGETHER

It’s my turn to be her companion. We are broken together. I suspect it’s a requirement for all relationships since none of us are whole, perfect or complete. When we recognize our own lack rather than focusing on another’s then we can simply be together. Broken together, and that’s enough.

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete,
Could we just be broken together?
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine,
Could healing still be spoken … and save us.
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together ~Casting Crowns.

Hebrews 11:40, “Since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” NIV 

MORE THAN DOGS

These powerful lyrics apply to all relationships:

  • parents and children
  • husband and wife
  • friends
  • pets and humans
No relationship can succeed unless we offer our brokenness to each other. #brokentogether Click To Tweet

Only Jesus is whole, therefore we cannot be whole apart from Him. All other relationships consist of two broken people or in this case, a broken person and a broken dog. Anything else is merely a fairy tale.

My beautiful Aussie is broken, just like me. Don’t worry, we will get along just fine.

Matthew 25:36, “I was sick and you visited me.” NKJV

Disclaimer: It may not have been the mailman and if so, it was not his fault.

If B is for biopsy, what is C is for?

B is for biopsy

I wasn’t nervous until it had me surrounded. The C word confronted me first in the parking deck. The arrow pointed this way to the cancer center. I felt a pit in my stomach. I shouldn’t be here. The word showed up again when I walked through the front door. I was tempted to feel pity for the others who were there until I saw joy in many of their eyes. Yet, I didn’t feel I belonged, like a petite woman shopping in the plus-size department. I passed by the infusion center where do-rags were the fashion. Okay, now I was starting to get nervous.

2 Corinthians 4:13, “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.'” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak.”NIV

Breathe in God is good

Breathe out Thy will be done

ALONE

I went alone, which was my choice. Sometimes it gets old being the UMCA (Universal Medical Center of Attention). I didn’t tell my family because I didn’t want them to worry if it ended up being nothing. Sorry. I had plenty of company in the room; two doctors and a nurse. The young doctor was still training and had her first baby eight weeks ago so we talked about new life while she held pressure on the biopsy site for ten solid minutes. The other doctor is a friend, she patted my hand and promised to personally call as soon as results were available. Emotionally I never felt more alone. I really should have told my mother.

Philippians 4:9, “Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” HCSB

Breathe in God is good

Breathe out Thy will be done

FOCUS

I’ve dodged this same bullet once before. After three agonizing weeks and literally memorizing and reciting Psalm 91 to get through the nights, the pathology report was benign. Now back in the same spot, I was awake, afraid and alone. The surgical light directly over my face was turned off so the suspicious black and white image on the screen was more visible. Lying on the table being prepped for the biopsy, I noticed a Phillips screw in the center of the light, but on the periphery the screws were  flat head. I noted the hexagonal pattern in the plexiglass covering. Anything to occupy my mind.

Psalm 91:2, “I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'” ESV

Breathe in God is good

Breathe out Thy will be done

I NEED AIR

When the phone rang, the dog barked and for a moment I couldn’t breathe. I regret the secrecy. I need my family. I need my friends. There is much value in the support of the community of believers. Suddenly I realized the prayer coverage I had forfeited. I need my Christian brothers and sisters. I  need you.

Ephesians 1:15-16, “That’s  why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you-every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks.” MSG

Breathe in God is good

Breathe out Thy will be done

C IS FOR…

C is for Christmas because we all need HOPE.

Despite their diagnosis, I’m sure saw it in the faces of the cancer patients.

C is for community because we need EACH OTHER.

Whatever you are facing, don’t do it alone.

C is for cancer sometimes because we live in a FALLEN WORLD.

Lord, be with all those affected by this disease.

C is for all CLEAR this time.

 Praise the Lord!

And now B is for breathe

Breathe in God is good

Breathe out Thy will be done

God often forces me to follow my own advice. I found Prescriptions for Anxiety helpful during this stressful time. If you enter your email address under the prescription pad, I will send it to you as well as occasional newsletters. By the way, this won’t send blog posts to your inbox, you have to  join me on the porch for those.

Keep breathing my friends.

God is good indeed.

It’s not beginning to look like Christmas

It's not beginning to look like Christmas

It’s not beginning to look like Christmas at my house.

Truthfully, it looks more like Wednesday.

My Australian shepherd missed her weekly grooming appointment so clumps of fur collect near the baseboards.The dishwasher is full and I forgot to buy Cascade despite six trips to the grocery store in the last week. It doesn’t look like Christmas at all; it looks like Wednesday, the day after Pepe Le Pew was evicted for the odiferous commotion he created under my house. So yeah, it doesn’t smell like Christmas either.

CHRISTMAS PAST

Usually I haul large, exquisitely-painted Mary and Joseph out of my walk-in attic when Thanksgiving is over. I have the desire to arrange wise men and camels on the coffee table, but I do not have the ability. Christmas is plentiful up there in the attic, thirteen stairs away. Until two years ago I relished the thought of making seventy-five solo trips up and down the beige carpeted stairs, but now I am down here where it’s Wednesday and Christmas is up there in the attic.

And I can’t get there.

MY HEART’S A WRECK TOO

This year my Christmas spirit is jealousy. Oh I’ve seen your posts displaying lavish tables, overflowing mantles and stylish trees wrapped in mesh. That’s nice. Really, I’m glad for you. Maybe the wave of nausea was caused by my medications, anyway, my own inability continues to frustrate me. Traveling delayed my infusion which flared the weakness from myasthenia gravis. Now I feel helpless and useless and selfish. I want to focus on Christ this Christmas but I can’t get the focus off myself.

Romans 7:18, “For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.” HCSB

ADVENT

The Latin word is Adventus, which means coming. Unless you count opening foil-wrapped chocolates popped out of a December Hallmark calendar, last year was the first time I intentionally observed Advent. The Greatest Gift (Ann Voskamp) added meaning to the season, so I’m making it a personal tradition.

Isaiah 55:6, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” ESV

COMING

This season I come with need. I need hope and joy; I need Jesus and I need strength. My desire is to come like Mary, who was full of new life, like Joseph who came obediently, like shepherds who came expecting, like wise men who came worshiping.

So I am bringing my need and my flesh and asking Jesus to come. Come and make me:

full of new life

obedient

expectant

worshipful

Come. Come Lord Jesus. Come into my messy heart.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Yes. Come Emmanuel-God with us.

Matthew 1:23, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” KJV

Come into my mess Lord Jesus #advent Click To Tweet

INVITATION

You won’t get an invitation to come to my house this week because it looks like Wednesday instead of Christmas. The lights are tangled in cardboard boxes and wreaths are still draped over wire clothes hangers suspended on a rod. Someone will have to carry my tree down the stairs and I am not sure who I will entrust with the nativity. It’s a mess, inside and out. But I want to focus more on making it look like Christmas in my heart, where it counts.

1 Samuel 16:7, “…For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” NKJV

NEEDY

This year I come empty. I come thirsty with my soul-barren self and know I am not where I need to be, but inviting Him anyway.

Come to the season needy. Is there any other way?

Revelation 22:17, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” NIV

MY INVITATION

If you’ve accepted my invitation to join me on the porch, thanks. Writing is more fun when you read. If you want my posts in your inbox, enter your email address and you will receive it on Saturdays. Older blogs show up on Facebook every Wednesday. I invite you to join me on the porch, but please don’t come inside the house until after Friday. Thankfully, help is on the way.

What is on the other side?

What is on the other side?

Most people have the date of their death etched onto their tombstone. My friend, Mike, writes his on a piece of cardboard with a Sharpie pen.

BEFORE AND AFTER

Unfortunately, my life is divided into before I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG) and after. I don’t want to be defined by my disease but nevertheless it characterizes every aspect of my life. In many ways, my illness is the axis on which I turn. When I go out in public I wonder if there is a neon sign on my forehead. Sunday I traded my neon sign for a cardboard one. Simple cardboard testimonies show complex life changes.

MY SIGN

Because of MG

I am weak

butHe is strong

2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” ESV

I not only boasted about my weakness, I wrote it on a piece of cardboard and held it up for as long as my trembling arms would cooperate.

CARDBOARD TESTIMONIES

We stood shoulder to shoulder with squares raised, and proclaimed God’s faithfulness in our pain and suffering. One side of cardboard proclaimed the deaths of spouses, children and unborn babies. Cancer, autism and heart disease showed up too. Chronic pain, illness, infertility and abuse stood beside job loss, divorce and alcoholism. Many of us know each other well, others only know the stories. Some we didn’t know at all, but their personal struggles were written in Sharpie pen for everyone to see.

Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God:  those who are called according to His purpose.” HCSB

THE OTHER SIDE

As each of us flipped our cardboard signs, spontaneous applause echoed through the sanctuary. It reached a crescendo as the last one walked across the stage and we collectively raised our signs. Everyone stood to their feet and many wiped tears.

Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” KJV

WHAT IF?

The rejoicing was not in response to the first side, it was for the flip side; the side proclaiming God’s redemption in every difficult situation. Imagine if we held up the before and never turned it over. Who would applaud? Without God, who could rejoice in their pain, who would be restored from their addiction? Would there be any joy or hope?

Have you turned over your obstacle? Name your struggle, face your enemy and bring it into the open. I encourage you to literally write it down and confront it in ink. But please, don’t stop there. Flip it over and let God write the end of your story. He redeems all things.

Genesis 50:20, “Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now – life for many people.” MSG

THERE IS ALWAYS A TEST IN TESTIMONY

It’s not the date you are born or the date you die that matters, but how the dash in between is lived. I guess Mike did pretty good with the first dash so he got a second one. My grandfather did that too. Mike’s flip side read,

Death-defying God

John 16:33, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” MSG

TURN IT AROUND

If you are facing adversity, write it on a piece of cardboard. Then turn it around and  let God write on the other side. He writes spectacular endings.

Joel 2:25, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…” NIV

To the old man in overalls

but I can change my corner

It’s not that I live in a bubble, I just like my little corner of the world. Yesterday I felt like I lived in Mayberry. I had lunch with my dear soul sister and was embraced by the waitress. As I walked to the corner to pick up a prescription, the barber waved at me. No lie, red striped pole and all. I opened the door for someone and an elderly man in overalls leaned on his cane and rose from his chair in the soda fountain. He looked me in the eye and said, “You’re pretty.” I looked and the floor and politely replied, “Thanks.”

Proverbs 12:25, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”NIV

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

They know me here, like Cheers, I don’t have to tell them my name. My prescription was ready. As I left, the old man opened the door for me and said, “You’re nice.”  Hmmm, nice and pretty judged by an octogenarian, what more could I ask for?

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I expected my orange to be orange

I expected my orange

I’ve never been afraid to kill a plant. Let’s just say there have been many botanical casualties under my watch, or lack thereof. The plant-loving workers at the greenhouse probably cried whenever I left with my selections, knowing the move to my house was likely terminal. While strolling through the greenhouse looking for my next victim, I stopped abruptly and cranked my head around to identify the source of an intoxicating scent. Inhaling deeply I honed in on a skinny tree vaguely labeled “citrus tree.”  Unsure if a tropical tree could even grow in Arkansas, I loaded it up and took it home.

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When you’re flat on your back in a clown suit

FLAT ON HER BACK AND SMILING

She fell off the porch and landed flat on her back. Fortunately it was a low porch. Over the years we forgot the reason for her fall, but hopefully it wasn’t because my dad startled her with a makeshift ghost he resurrected from a pile of leaves with a pulley. Growing up, Halloween was fun. I have great memories of costume contests at Bud’s Roller Rink and collecting penny candy door-to-door in Lynnwood Acres. My all-time favorite costume was the old bed sheet my dad painstakingly shredded and wrapped me in head-to-toe like a mummy. Strategically applied fake blood completed the not-really-gruesome look. Of course that was before we discovered Halloween traditions were controversial. Back then our conservative youth group even hosted a haunted house fundraiser for their summer trip; not the scare-the-Hell-out-of-you, evangelical haunted house, nope, just a fake chainsaw-toting Frankenstein haunted house. Those were the days, times were different and that is not what this is about.

Whatever the cause, she lay on the ground and bellowed from beneath her frozen grin. Her over-sized, polka dotted collar mocked her tantrum. The permanently happy expression on the little clown’s beguiled her distress.

HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY

As she retells the incident, my mom initially feigns seriousness which quickly fades to a chuckle then melts into full blown laughter. My mother is not cold-hearted. The child was only rattled and appeared to be grinning for crying out loud. Laughter is an appropriate response to a silly grin. I wonder if that is ever true for me. Does the incongruity of my “mask” evoke the wrong response from others?

Ecclesiates 3:4, “A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” NASB

HOW ARE YOU?

How often do we respond, “I’m fine,” when inside we are dying? Anyone besides me guilty of hiding behind a smile to be strong for others. Showing weakness is quite simply a sign of weakness and I despise weakness. So I wear my happy face then people won’t recognize my struggles.

Lamentations 3:17, “My soul has been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is.”  HCSB

S.O.S

I am fiercely independent. I consider myself strong, if not physically then emotionally. Frankly, I act like I don’t need you and I don’t need God. I can do this alone and I’ll let you know if I can’t. Deep down, it is not what I believe, but it is how I act. Nevertheless, I have been convicted:

self-sufficiency is an ugly form of pride Click To Tweet

Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” HCSB

INJURED PRIDE

Whenever I fall, I jump up, dust off my knees and insist I am fine hoping you won’t notice the bloody scrapes on my  knees. My pride needs wounding. The truth is, I do need you and we need each other. Have you ever worn a smile to hide your tears, struggles and disappointments? Have you ever felt like kicking the wall but instead plastered a fake grin across your face?

Galatians 6:2, “Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” MSG

LOPSIDED

There is a delicate balance between cocky independence and depleting neediness. Continually dumping negativity actually drives away the very people you need. I have probably never been accused of that. Not that I have figured out the balance, I am lop-sided, but I am working on it. Are you knocked flat on your back having a fit, but hiding behind a mask?

If you refuse allow others see your needs, you will not only miss a blessing, but you will also deprive someone else of a blessing. How about we take off the masks and let others help?

James 4:2, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” NIV

If I haven’t entertained, encouraged or offended you, give me another chance. Enter your email and join me on the porch, then you won’t miss the next post.

 

I feel like people are watching me

Somebody's watching

Don’t ever put me on a pedestal

I don’t want to do this anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it immensely, but you see, um, how do I say this without letting you down? “I am not qualified.” Frankly I am not good enough.

There are people out there who read what I write; people I don’t even know, people who are desperate for encouragement, hope and truth. It’s scary. When I attempt to speak into the lives of others, I often don’t measure up to my own teaching. I want to quit because it feels like a set up for failure. I don’t want to be a poser so I will be honest with you – I color outside the lines sometimes. If you have spent much time with me, you know it’s true. Everyone doesn’t know. Some people read my blog, hear me teach or speak and have an unrealistic perception of my life. I am not afraid of heights, but I am terrified of pedestals. Don’t ever put me there.

I am not afraid of heights, but I am terrified of pedestals. Don't ever put me… Click To Tweet
I’VE BEEN CAUGHT

Don’t make this into a bigger deal than it was, but recently I was recognized. Sitting in a theater, a group of women passed my table and recognized me from a recent speaking event. I fully expect to be in the spotlight when I speak, but not when I am at dinner. It’s a lot of pressure. Suddenly, I was acutely aware of my unedited words and my imperfect behavior. My mother was with me so I was behaving relatively well, but I don’t always. Am I a pretender?

2 Corinthians 5:20, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, ‘Be reconciled to God.'” HCSB

NO, I AM AN AMBASSADOR

Don’t think I am a hypocrite, but the truth is I don’t always practice what I preach. But here’s the deal, I believe it. Mostly, I write to myself, encouraging myself to seek the Lord and follow Him. It would be safer to not make it public, but I’m thrilled to have your company along the way. Writing is a gamble. I figure some of you probably struggle with the same issues I do, so I willingly expose my own insecurities. It makes me feel uncomfortably vulnerable. People read it, people share it and more people read it. Then there I am, representing Jesus Christ for all the world to see.

Ephesians 5:15, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.” ESV

UNWORTHY

Some days I want to quit. If I stop writing, I won’t embarrass myself. I can’t be criticized for what I don’t say. It is less risky to stay silent. That voice in my head saying, “Who do you think you are?” would be squashed and I wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore.

Ephesians 5:13, “Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.” MSG

RISKY BUSINESS

The only way I can continue is to admit failure, accept my imperfections and give credit to God for anything good you see in me. Here’s the truth: life is hard, consistency even harder. If I risk it all, is it worth it?

The voice of condemnation can drown out the gentle call of the Holy Spirit #perservere Click To Tweet

Hebrews 10:36, “For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.” HCSB

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH

Some of you may think I am really spiritual. While I would like for you to believe that, it would be dangerous. Besides, I will disappoint you. As a young adult, I sat in church every Sunday thinking everyone had it all together except me. It was a defeating lie. Honestly, it kept me from walking in victory and understanding grace. I strive for perfection and consistently fall short. I suppose that is the exact reason I need Jesus, huh? I’ll make a deal with you. I won’t quit if you won’t.

Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us.” NIV

YOU PROBABLY KNOW SOME STORIES ABOUT ME

Remember, I will moderate the comments, so if you dredge up some embarrassing moment from my past I may delete it, but probably not. I am mostly an open book. Otherwise, I’d be a hypocrite.

Photo cred: E. Clair

How do I get off this merry-go-round?

The house on the corner of River and Market Street was located across the street from an elementary school. The playground in the front lacked a fence which I accepted as an open invitation to escape the heat and cigarette smoke of my grandparents’ house. As a young girl, the merry-go-round was my favorite. Bracing my small frame against the metal bar, I leaned my weight against the heavy contraption. My feet followed the circular path worn into the dirt. At first, it was nearly too heavy for me to move but as the speed increased centripetal force took over and it spun round and round. Making the leap, I hopped on and watched the world swirl past my vision causing me to suppress an immediate urge to retch. I have always loved the feel of wind in my hair but the thrill only lasted a few seconds. Prone to motion sickness, the spinning quickly made me want off, but it was moving too fast. If I jumped I would surely fall and likely scrape my knees. If I stayed on I would soon vomit. I thought this was going to be fun, but I wanted to stop. I didn’t know how.

Exodus 34:21, “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.” NIV

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Would you live here?

Would you live here?

Instead of a fixer-upper, it’s more like a faller-downer. I don’t want to live here, apparently neither does anyone else.

If this was my house I would never invite you over. In fact, when I know company is coming I usually light a  vanilla scented candle and whiz through the house to make sure everything is spiffed up and put away. The stack of mail which permanently resides on the counter top is stuffed into a drawer. I don’t recommend it though, somehow I misplaced our passports. They must be in my house, but for the life of me I can’t recall where.

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