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Puppy Passion

We recently got a new puppy and named him Blue. Our three daughters adore him. My husband and I have also grown quite fond of him. Blue doesn’t deserve this love. In fact, he’s destructive and bites everyone non-stop. His actions don’t merit our unconditional love for him. Yet, we give it to him anyway.

Blue rips holes in our shirts, unties our shoes, and steals our sneakers. A few minutes after he is naughty we come to tell him how adorable he is. He can hardly do wrong in our eyes.

This reminds me of our faith journey. We can be like this puppy at times. We know what we are supposed to do but still choose to make poor decisions. We mess up all the time. We forget to praise the Lord. We don’t show gratitude and we lack trust and obedience. For all of our mess-ups, God is still waiting for us to come back to Him.

It’s amazing if you think about it. We sin over and over again. We only need to come humbly to our Father and ask for forgiveness. My family’s love for Blue doesn’t change based on his behavior. Neither does God’s love for us.

We hide from God embarrassed of our mistakes. God wants us to come to Him. Sin separates us from God when we let it. Don’t let pride or anything come in between you and our amazing Father. Repent and turn toward Him.

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Clean Slate

One afternoon I was tinkering with my phone. For a long time, I haven’t been able to add my husband to any calendar events. With a new school year starting, I was determined to resolve the problem. After getting some help from someone way more technologically savvy than myself, the problem was fixed. The only downside was all of my calendar entries had been removed.

I had a clean slate. Literally, nothing was on there. I kept waiting for myself to freak out, but I never did. It was oddly freeing. I actually sat there and relished the brief moment. I wasn’t ready to load up the calendar again. I knew, that as soon as I entered the fall activities and the school schedule, my clean slate would be gone.

This reminds me of our faith journey. We get a clean slate every day, all we have to do is ask for it from our Heavenly Father. He washes us clean as we repent. Just like my calendar had a fresh start, we get that same new beginning, just by asking.

God wants us to bring our sin to Him. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

We are all in the same boat. We all mess up. God already knows what we’ve done. Thankfully we have an amazing Father who wants to free us of our burdens. Let Him.

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Savoring the Smile

We’ve had a lot of dental work done lately. Lots of lost teeth, spacers being put in, molds being made, braces, etc. This is probably why teeth are on my mind.

My kid’s joke I should have been a dentist, or a dental hygenist. I find all teeth-related things fascinating, especially when my kids have an adult tooth trying to emerge into its new home. My kids get annoyed when I keep asking them to open their mouths so I can see how the new teeth are coming in. It’s amazing to me how one day you can see a tiny little white spec, then weeks or months later, an adult tooth or moler is in its resting place. How is that possible? How do they know where to go and how fast to travel down the path? Watching this process happen is enthralling. God is amazing in how he designed us.

How could teeth possibly remind me of our faith journey? Well, they arrive slowly yet surely. They move in such small increments we can’t visibility see them. We only see movement in days, weeks, and sometimes months. Isn’t that like our faith journey? God slowly works to sanctify us, one act of repentance and forgiveness at a time. He slowly molds and changes our hearts. He doesn’t work quickly, but rather over the long run. You can’t judge the changes in your heart daily, you need to look at the long view. Only then can you identify how He has been working in your life.

When you look at an x-ray, you can see the teeth that are not visible from a human eye, the ones coming down the track. You can’t rush them, they come in at their own pace. Even with modern medicine, a dentist or orthodontist doesn’t have a way to fast-track the process.

God does not rush our sanctification process. His timing is perfect and divine. We may wish He would hit the fast forward button but it’s to our benefit He doesn’t. He will teach us what we need to learn in His timing, not ours.

When He calls us home, hopefully we have a beautiful set of adult teeth all perfectly in their spot. Ok enough with the dental analogies. Our goal is to become more Christ-like on earth. To grow and develop in the areas He wants us to. We won’t ever achieve perfection like Jesus, but we can still grow and be strengthened in Him.

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Suddenly Spraying

We were on a family vacation one summer and traveled west to a dude ranch. My sister-in-law and I decided to go on a hike. We were heading back to the ranch following the dirt road when I grabbed something out of my backpack. As I swung my backpack around, I heard a thump on the ground. We both looked at each other wondering what had made the loud noise. Before I turned fully around it dawned on me what the item was. It sounded like a soda can falling to the ground. Only we didn’t have any soda with us. The bear spray I had in the side pocket had slipped out, crashed to the ground, and popped open.

As this realization dawned on me, I took off running and yelled for my sister-in-law to get out of there. When we were a safe distance away, we turned around and watched the can spinning in circles. Thankfully, somehow when it popped open it was facing down and sprayed the dirt road instead of into the air around us. We were extremely lucky to have escaped its harmful ingredients. Of course, after we were out of harm’s way, we looked at each other and started laughing. How in the world did that happen?

We went back later to pick up the can and dispose of it. We were grateful to have escaped the situation. I was a little disappointed I had used our one and only bear spray container.

This reminds me of our faith journey. The way my sister-in-law and I took off sprinting away from the bear spray is also how we Christians should run away from sin and temptation as if our life depended on it. The Bible says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

1 Corinthians 6:18 states, “Flee from sexual immorality.” 1 Corinthians 10:14 says, “Flee from idolatry.”

The Bible is clear about running away from sin. May we turn and sprint from these things. We are called to, “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” (1 Timothy 5-6).

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Arriving Ahead

One year we were on vacation with my family. My kids were having a blast spending time with their cousin. We were headed out to dinner and were a larger group, so some were going in the rental car, and the rest were riding in a shuttle van. The van showed up and was ready to load passengers. We were hustling around grabbing last-minute items before we left.

The kids (there were four of them) wanted to ride in the shuttle van so they jumped aboard. A few minutes later the van pulled away. We quickly realized there were no adults aboard the van. The kids spanned ages from thirteen to six and were a fairly responsible group (for children), but we never intended on sending them alone. The impressive (or scary) thing is how they convinced the van driver to leave without a parent. Once we realized the kids were on their way without us, we hustled into the car and hurried to meet them.

The kids, sure enough, were waiting for us at the restaurant. They were beaming with pride from their adventure and were surprised when we didn’t match their enthusiasm. We chatted with them about how we were glad they made it safely, but next time they are not to leave without an adult. We expressed our concern for their safety and explained why their decision to drive off without us was not safe.

This reminds me of our faith journey. Sometimes we like to forge ahead, we make our plans and ask God to bless our path. This usually turns out how the adventure with my kids went. We might reach the destination, but if it wasn’t God’s plan for us, something is usually missing. We rush ahead convinced we know what is best, forgetting to ask God to align our will with His will. When things don’t work out as we planned, we are disappointed.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

May we keep in step with the Spirit, for the steps of a man are established by the Lord. (Galatians 5:25 & Psalms 37:23)

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Cheerfully Chosen

My husband and my daughters submitted a video to be considered in a photoshoot for a hunting organization. My husband Jonathan loves to hunt so this was a natural fit.

I helped them take a few videos and pictures while dressed in head-to-toe camo, and Jonathan sent them off. A week later, he was told he had been selected and they also wanted one of our daughters.

My husband was out of town when he got the news. We called him and I put my daughter on the phone. She hung up the phone after speaking with him and had the most precious look on her face. Her smile got huge, she looked into my eyes and tenderly said, “They picked me.” She spoke with surprise, humility, and delight. She seemed shocked they had chosen her.

This reminds me of our faith journey. We all desperately want to be known, seen, and heard. My daughter’s humility spoke of her character. I was excited for her. It feels good to be chosen, and it was important for this pre-teen girl to be seen and selected.

The great news is God sees you and me every day! He loves you and never takes His eyes off you. Wow! That is hard to comprehend. If only we walked around with that confidence every day, letting the negative comments bounce off us.

God knows you and loves you. Getting that information into our hearts takes some work, and an enemy is trying to block that truth from penetrating. Psalm 139:1 states, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!”

If I could share her joy that afternoon, I would. That same joy felt by my daughter can be felt by you. You are known, loved, and cared for by the One that matters most.

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Smothering the Scent

One evening I headed upstairs to put my kids to bed. As I walked into my youngest daughter’s room (who is seven), I was blasted with a pungent smell. She immediately started saying sorry and explained the reason for the odor.

She had opened a container of nail polish. She didn’t actually put any on, but the act of opening the jar had smelled up her room. In our house nail polish needs to be done in the bathroom, and usually with mom’s permission.

When she realized the intense odor, she came up with plan B. Plan B involved taking hand sanitizer, rubbing it all over her hands, and waving them around the room. When this only increased the aroma in her room, she went to plan C, call in re-enforcements (big sister).

When I entered the room, older sister is by an open window (in the middle of winter) and I had a hard time distinguishing what scent I smelled. The two of them were scurrying around the room trying to make the odor disappear. I was especially light-hearted about this incident after I realized no harm was done, no property was destroyed, and no one was injured.

This reminds me of our faith journey. We sometimes try so hard to cover up our sin to God. We act as if we can hide things from Him. Instead of humbly coming to God and confessing our sins, we cover over them, or at least try to, just like my daughter did (usually making the situation worse).

Jesus died so we don’t have to carry around sin and burden we were not meant to carry. Don’t hide your sin from God, take it to Him, and let Him wash you clean. Remember the sacrifice He made for us and live in the freedom He desires for you. “For freedom Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1)

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Clothes for the In-between

One beautiful fall Saturday, I took my oldest daughter shopping for clothes. I relish these opportunities when I get a chance to spend one-on-one time. Sometimes it takes a child growing out of her clothes to permit the occasion.

She is twelve but almost my height. She has long legs and everything in the kids’ section is too short and won’t fit after one wash. We found a few items in the ladies’ section, but most of the clothes were not made for a twelve-year-old body.

After a few hours of shopping, we pieced enough clothes together for her to have something to wear for fall and winter. It’s tough to be in between sizes. She’s not a woman, yet she’s not a little kid anymore.

This reminds me of our faith journey. As adult Christians, we are no longer children, ignorant and innocent. We are aware of our sin patterns and usually know the paths we should take. However, we retain our childish tendencies such as refusing to ask for forgiveness and wanting to do things our way.

Even mature Christians don’t feel worthy or deserving of the freedom and guidance God provides. It’s hard for us to step into and accept the unlimited help Jesus provides. We still like to figure it out for ourselves, leaning on our own understanding. I don’t think we will ever feel truly worthy of fitting in the clothes Jesus has for us.

We don’t have to think we have mastered everything in the faith. We are in the in-between place until Jesus comes again. We get to feel unqualified and unequipped because we have Jesus to fill in the gaps. He is there to cover our inadequacies. We get to be limited in our physical, mental, and spiritual abilities because He is unlimited. He loves us as we seek to know Him. He puts us back on the path when we wander off. He comforts us when the sin of this world is too much for us to handle.

As you seek Him, He will continue to clothe you with His goodness. “Put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27)

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Hovering Horse

How God’s protection for us mimics that of a mare watching over her foul.

We had the opportunity to stay at a dude ranch in Montana. The ranch owned over one hundred horses. They had seven new fouls among the herd.

They begin training the fouls when they are very young to be comfortable around people. They separate each mommy and baby pair to work with the fouls individually. They halter the momma, and the foul scampers behind. It’s adorable to watch.

I snapped this picture one morning as I finished up breakfast. I observed the mare leaning over her young in a protective alert stance.

The foul was finishing a mid-morning nap. His mom never moved while he slumbered.

This reminds me of our faith journey. We are like that foul. Even if we have been in the Christian world for a long time, we still have so much to learn. God works with us a little at a time, teaching us more about Him.

Observing the mare watching over her foul reminded me of how God stands protectively over us. He watches out for us, keeps us from danger, feeds us, and cares for us. While the foul napped, her mom lovingly stood by to ensure its safety, just like God watching over us while we sleep.

Psalm 121:3 reminds us of His power and protection. “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”

God watches over us when we rest, work, play, etc. No matter what we are doing, He has a watchful eye on us. What a wonderful God we have.

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Deliberate Dolls

What a children’s book and our faith have in common

One evening I was reading to my six-year-old before bedtime. We were reading The Doll People by Ann M Martin & Laura Godwin. This children’s book tells a story of a doll Annabel and her family. They live in a dollhouse but can walk and talk. They only move about when their human owners are asleep or not home.

In the first book of the series, Martin & Godwin informs us how the dolls are created and made “real.” The dolls decide if they want to be a regular doll (giving up human abilities) or a doll person (can walk and talk). If they choose a doll person, they must take an oath.

Annabel is informed right before taking her oath that being a doll person is harder, it comes with great responsibility. It also comes with fun and adventure.

This reminds me of our faith journey. The Christian life is not easy. Although we don’t take an actual oath, we do commit our lives to Christ. We promise to live for Him instead of ourselves. This is no easy task.

In the book, if humans catch the dolls moving, they are thrust into doll state where they can’t move or talk for 24 hours. There are also rumors of a permanent doll state for serious offenses.

As Christians, when we mess up, thankfully we aren’t thrust into a paralyzed state like Annabel. Instead, we repent of our sins to our loving Father in Heaven. He doesn’t reprehend us, but rather washes our sins away. He doesn’t chastise us and shake His finger in our face. He accepts our burdens and mess. He cleans us off, and helps us get back up again. What an incredible Father we have!

Just as Annabel forgets, or chooses to ignore her oath on occasion, we sometimes forget who we are living for. Or we choose to go our own way knowing it’s not God’s plan.

Being a Christian comes with responsibility and risk. It also comes with a great reward.