communication, coronavirus, dog, faith, Family, introverts, Jesus, journal, nature, religious, spiritual, Uncategorized, women

Dialect with Dogs

My husband jokes that my dog and I have our own language.

Our Labrador retriever named Casey is fourteen and-a-half years old. What large dog lives that long? I’ve had multiple labs in my life and they never lasted much past ten. She is an anomaly and resilient.

Casey has survived six surgeries. She tore both back knees and underwent three stomach surgeries. The most recent procedure was to remove a massive growth protruding from her neck which started bleeding (gross). She was two when she had her first surgery.

In her seasoned age, she deals with arthritis, dementia (per the vet), and her vision and hearing are significantly impaired. That said, I walk her everyday morning. She has our morning routine down pat and continues to display enthusiasm during mealtimes and walks.

I hear Casey in the middle of the night, similar to a mom hearing her crying infant. I wake from a sound sleep when she stirs downstairs, letting me know she needs to go out. Recently, I went down, let her out, and crawled back to bed. Casey started barking. Not a loud bark, but brief and direct. My husband commented, “You just let her out.” I told him she wanted breakfast. I had gone back to bed instead of feeding her and she was letting me know she didn’t appreciate the change in routine.

This reminds me of our language with God. The powerful and all-knowing Holy Spirit lives inside us ready to be utilized… if we can learn to recognize Its voice. This is not easy, nor happens quickly. It took years for Casey and I to develop our way of communicating.

Learning to hear God takes time, practice, and effort. Reading our Bible, praying, and sitting in silence (yes, silence) are ways to commune with God. The Holy Spirit is present, waiting to assist you with every problem. God won’t yell over the noise of the world, we have to carve out time to cultivate a dialect with Him.

Casey has blessed our family for many years, and although my time with her will eventually cease, thankfully my steadfast communication with the Lord is everlasting.

coronavirus, dog, faith, Family, Jesus, parenting, religious, spiritual, women

All Kinds of Mess

As a mom, you find yourself knee-deep in all sorts of messes. With young kids, you are changing diapers, cleaning up spills, and picking up endless toys. If you have a dog like us, you are constantly vacuuming dog hair, putting away pet toys and other destroyed objects, and scooping up poop from the yard so kids don’t step on it.

Most of the time I don’t mind cleaning up after my loved ones. However, one particular morning I was at my wits’ end. In addition to being a prisoner in my home and homeschooling, my dog was having digestive issues. It began as vomit and eventually shifted to diarrhea. 

I heard our dog Casey moving about downstairs in the wee hours of the morning. I debated whether to get up. If I lay in bed like I wanted to, I would surely pay the price. I stumbled out of bed and hurried downstairs. She was doing the potty dance, as I opened the front door she dashed in the opposite direction into our den and proceeded to diarrhea all over the one mostly white rug in our home.

Typically animal messes don’t phase me. This particular morning I was not in a mood to deal with this type of mess. As Casey soiled the rug, a cuss word fell out of my mouth. While technically the word properly depicted the substance coming out of my dog, I had not planned on waking one of my children with profanity.

The diarrhea was the worst smelling thing I ever cleaned up. No, I take that back. The worst smelling odor I experienced was emptying a utility sink filled with sewer backup. I’m not sure anything will surpass that stench.

As we sat around the dinner table that evening discussing our day, my husband commented on how I spend quite a bit of time cleaning up poop. I laughed because sadly it was true. Maybe I should contact the television show Dirty Jobs.  Is there an opportunity to profit from cleaning up dung, hmm…?

The talk of mess reminds me of our sin; big mistakes, little mistakes, endless sin. However, our amazing God continues to forgive us over and over again. God never loses His patience with us! He lovingly draws closer to us and washes us clean. He never stops loving us regardless of the turmoil we create.

While my dog may have ruined our carpet, it’s just a carpet. We, on the other hand, hurt others with our words and actions and yet God still forgives us.

What an amazing God we have who helps us mend the broken pieces. As we honestly and humbly confess our shortfalls, He transforms our heart.

coronavirus, faith, Family, Jesus, religious, spiritual, Uncategorized, women

God’s Love Conquers All

Love
Birthday
God
Jesus

How do you celebrate a 40th birthday when it falls during a time of social distancing and quarantine? A party is clearly out of the question. My creative husband and family did everything they could to make my 40th birthday special.

The morning felt normal, at least our new normal. In the afternoon we went for a hike. The day was sunny and sixty-five degrees, a gift in itself. After arriving back at home, I relaxed while my husband prepared dinner and my present.

I sat on the couch while he streamed a video to the television. For about thirty minutes the screen displayed an array of special people in my life from childhood through the present. Friends and family relived memories, uttered kind words, shared thoughts about our friendship or how I have impacted their lives. I cried and laughed as I watched in awe.

It was as if I got to hear eulogies for my own funeral without having to die. People opened up and said things they may not have said in person. I watched the video twice and decided it was the best present ever!

The following morning during my quiet time, I processed the array of emotions I was feeling. Sadly we all question our worth and influence at times, myself included. On the morning after my 40th birthday, I had no doubt I was loved and accepted, I had seen the proof.

I sat communing with God, praising Him for a memorable birthday. Even though I couldn’t be with friends or extended family, I was given an amazing intangible gift, the gift of love.

The Lord interpreted something to me that morning. He said, “Katie, this feeling of love you have today, I love you even more than that every day.” That blew my mind. I felt so saturated with love, how could He possibly love me more?

I wanted to retain this feeling of love and carry it with me. I wished to share it with others.

I have been praying Ephesians 3:17-19 for months. Now I could understood the reality of this verse.

“That I being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that I may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

While my birthday wasn’t exactly as I imagined, God in His goodness, showed me His abounding love for us.

How can we go about our day and life with this knowledge? What would we do differently?

coronavirus, faith, Family, Jesus, parenting, religious, spiritual, Uncategorized, women

Minimalist Meets Corona

Paper towel and toilet paper aisle at BJ’s

I am a minimalist by nature. When it comes to inventory management in our home, specifically related to food, I tend to under-do my buying. It took me years of adjustment to increase my purchases to provide for a family of five. Thankfully, it’s been a gradual adjustment as each child develops and begins eating more and more.  

Buying extra of anything goes against my natural fibers. When others buy three, I buy one. When most buy at least one, I buy none. I don’t know how I got this way but it’s who I am.

I found myself at BJ’s stocking up because the world is in uncharted territory trying to manage a contagious virus. Shelves are empty and fear is everywhere. I called my husband asking for advice about how much I should purchase. I felt pretty good about my cart overflowing with items. This alone is an amazing accomplishment.

Over the phone, I asked him, “Why did we send a minimalist to stock up on food? This seems like a bad idea.” I can’t even fathom what thirty days of food looks like. How do you buy for that in one trip?

When minimalism collides with the ripple effect from the Coronavirus, things get tricky. My minimalism bleeds into other areas and as a result, there is an internal conflict between a feeling of scarcity and a desire to provide opportunities for creativity and fun. Just yesterday, my five-year-old daughter was independently attempting to make her own version of Vaseline. In the bathroom, she mixed a combination of toothpaste, water and hand soap. While I appreciate her imagination, I can’t exactly go to the store and stock up on liquid hand soap right now. How can we be responsible with our supplies without instilling fear in our kids?  

Thankfully we have a God who provides for us abundantly, especially when it comes to the intangibles in life like love, joy, peace, play, creativity, silliness, and laughter. While I might be trying to encourage responsible usage of toilet paper in my house, maybe this is the time to embrace our creative and silly side? Maybe these intangibles are powerful weapons during a time of uncertainty. God does not withhold from us, we just forget to ask. Why shouldn’t we sing, dance, love, and be silly? What’s holding us back?  

It’s critical to have earnest conversations because we are all feeling an onslaught of emotions. However, if I remain in a state of permanent gloom, my hope and joy dwindle and I tend to take my kids down with me. If I can insert joy and fun into the house our spirits lift. How will we ever know the magnitude of God’s unrelenting love and abilities if we limit His access? 

faith, Family, religious, skiing, Uncategorized, women

Where is the man in the Green Pants?

Where is the man in the Green Pants?

We recently went to Steamboat, Colorado skiing. While packing, I began feeling ill (don’t worry, it wasn’t corona). The first days of our trip I couldn’t swallow nor sleep. In desperation, I sought medical guidance and received a prescription to remedy strep throat.

After two days my health was improved but not 100%. I declared I was going skiing. It was a gorgeous sunny day and I was done sitting on the sideline.

Jonathan and I had an opportunity to ski together because our kids were in ski school. I grew up skiing and knew I’d be able to get down the slopes. What I lacked was a right mind and a sense of direction. My brain and body were feeble and flooded with illness. I knew the mountain well, but if left alone, I’m not sure I could have found my way back. Keep in mind Steamboat has 165 trails covering 2,965 acres, and 23 lifts.  

In hindsight, I acknowledge I probably shouldn’t have skied, but who wants to miss out on vacation?  

 My strategy was simple. Follow the man in the bright green pants. The previous year my husband had upgraded his aged and neutral black ski pants to electric green. The new attire was easily recognizable. I followed him from slope to slope, lift to lift trusting his guidance.

This reminds me of God. Can we humble ourselves enough to admit we need help so He can direct us? If we focus our eyes on Him, He shows us the way.

I knew I could trust my husband because he loves me and would ensure my safe arrival home. When I needed a break to refuel he patiently waited for me. 

God is with us, loves us and cares for our every need. Jonathan provided me much-needed leadership that day. I was weak and had to trust him. Any other day I would have inserted my opinion about which direction to go and competed for the lead.  

When we are weary and lacking faith God will escort us.  

These are unusual times. Our normal has been turned upside down. Thankfully, we have an omnipresent God with an upside-down kingdom. Seek Him to guide your next turn while enjoying the joy and peace only He can provide. 

Uncategorized

What Do Faith & Skiing Have In Common?

Learning to ski reminds me of my faith journey with God. When you first learn to ski each turn is uncomfortable and forced. The more you practice, the more natural it becomes. All of a sudden you aren’t analyzing each micro turn and you find yourself at the bottom of the slope gazing up realizing you don’t even know how you got there. 

This resembles my relationship with God. For years I wanted to deepen my reliance on Him. I fumbled my way through a morning routine trying to 1,2,3 step my way to a better connection. I believe God delighted in my attempts, awkward as they may have been.

After taking my soul through a car wash removing the guilt, lies, and grief I can now accept His forgiveness, love, and grace. I now delight sitting in His presence as He fills my heart with love and peace. 

My turns down the slope can still be shaky and I occasionally encounter patches of ice and bumps along the way. Regardless if the slope has been groomed, I keep my eyes on Him. Instead of using my own strength to complete a turn, He helps me lean on my edges for a smoother ride with less effort. I cover more ground when utilizing His strength.

When I fall, He picks me up and encourages me to proceed forward. He helps me determine the safest path down, the proper course for me to take. God guides my every turn to avoid collision with other skiers.

Some days the slopes are sunny, warm, and smooth and I absorb the glory of those days. Other days are cloudy, cold, and windy with low visibility. No matter the weather, nor if my fingers are numb, He is there to aid me in reaching the bottom, never abandoning my side. When I get off course and find myself lost in the trees, He shows me the way back.  

Now, I can’t imagine getting down the hill without His help. Before I didn’t know how to rely on His assistance, determined I could do it on my own. My pride and sin were preventing me from accepting His love and help. Why would I not lean on the one who created the mountain in the first place? If I keep my eyes fixed on Him, He will bring me safely home. He might even have a big cup of hot cocoa awaiting my arrival. Who knows?