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A Better Way

The German Shepherd puppy was in need of a full-time sitter. Stepping up, I took my son’s pup under my wing. There were car rides, walks in the park, playing ball or fetch with a stick, and lots of unsolicited doggy love. I had gained a friend. Man’s best friend, who loved me and followed me around, wherever I would go.  

But then, sweet fun loving German Shepherd puppy began to shed. And, with that, everything began to change, as my allergies kicked in! As the weeks rolled by, our bond began to break down as I began to distance myself. Gone was the closeness we once shared. 

As new boundaries were set and put into place, things began to look up. I was feeling better and the pup was adjusting nicely to her new routine of spending time outside and actually enjoying it. Sure there were sacrifices to be made, such as laying down the beautiful yard as I knew it. Holes were dug out of sheer doggy fun or to bury her bones, flowers were pulled up and broken off as bouquets for me, bless her heart, and garden and barbecue tools were chewed upon because in pups mind, well, they were just a unique sort of stick with an added challenge of not getting cut or stabbed!

This situation with my son’s pup brought to mind the scripture found in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 which tells us, “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” I had been helping my son with his dog, but things just weren’t working out. Did God have a better way?       

We may not be doing something that is wrong, per se, but is it the best for you and those around you? I felt this verse applied to our situation, and also extends to many other aspects of life. All those areas that are not black and white, but gray.

What kind of liberties are we taking in the way we live? Are we considering the consequences and outcomes, the effect it will have on ourselves and the lives of others, and most importantly, are we bringing praise and glory to God? The most important factor in making sound choices is bringing the situation before the Lord, asking for wisdom and discernment, and then waiting for Him to provide the answer in His perfect timing and way. James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

Our lives are truly a sphere of influence. We may feel insignificant, but the truth is, we all influence the lives we touch. Each day, we make either good deposits or bad deposits into the relationships we have with others. Over time this will determine the overall health and success or demise and destruction of our relationships. Philippians 2:3 tells us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”

Giving up the companionship of the dog was not an easy thing for me to do. But, I believe it was the right thing. The blessing of this was how it benefited my son. I had bonded with his dog, which resulted in a negative impact up pup’s relationship with him. When I stepped back, their relationship began to blossom.

It may seem unnatural at first, but waiting upon the Lord before making a decision is definitely well worth the time and effort. When we put Him first, instead of pushing forward with our own agenda, He honors that desire of seeking Him and waiting upon Him for wise counsel. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” When we walk and commune closely with Him, we will ultimately bring God glory.

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Clothe Yourself in Kindness

20150517_SundayScripture_Colossians-3-Graphic-Image-SMALLThe Lord has been speaking to my heart about kindness. He has gotten my attention by showering me with more kindness than usual lately. It is amazing how an act of kindness can change a person’s day or even complete outlook on life. There is power in the act of being kind to one another and even more so is the power of a prayer.

Simply said, kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It is far reaching and can be accomplished in countless ways. I enjoy trail running and am fortunate to live in an area where I can easily access mountain trails.  It is the norm for me to be running along in my zone when all of a sudden I am face to face with a guy whizzing towards me on his mountain bike. I usually jump off the trail out of harm’s way or stop running so he can fly by me on the single track trail.  However, the other day, a guy who was approaching me on his mountain bike completely stopped. He got off his bike and moved to the side of the trail, then waited for me to run on by.  As I did, he was smiling and cheerfully greeted me and wished me a good day! This never happens so when it did, I felt like I was being treated as a lady of honor and with great respect. It was almost as if he took a knee for me! This random act of kindness was very courteous and polite and left me feeling flattered and even a bit smitten!

The act of pay it forward is always such a blessing. This happened to me twice this month. The first was when I was in a drive-thru at Star Bucks and a complete stranger in the car ahead of me bought my hot latte and morning inspiration. What a surprise that was! I left that drive-thru in shock and a bit beside myself that a random person would reach out to me when I did nothing at all to deserve it. I was so caught off guard and touched by the kindness of this stranger. It made my day and I felt like screaming it out to everyone on social media! Just a couple weeks later my neighbor was in the Taco Bell drive-thru and guess what she did? Yep, you guessed it. She bought the tacos and burritos the kids and I had ordered. I was blown away! I was filled with gratitude, which caused me to want to bless her back. So, the next day she got brownies and a bouquet of flowers from me to brighten her day. When someone is kind, it is contagious and can inspire us to be tender-hearted in return. It’s a win win. The giver is blessed by the act of giving, as it is a very rewarding experience. The one receiving the kind act is pleasantly surprised and ever so grateful.

When my dad passed away unexpectedly, my Aunt reached out. She provided nutritious homemade food that could be ready to eat with minimal effort on my part. She had my favorite comfort soup, fresh bread, prepackaged salad, a roasted chicken, and delicious pumpkin bread made from scratch. As if that wasn’t enough, she included a fresh bouquet of flowers to brighten our home. Having her reach out to me encouraged my grieving heart. She made a hard time more bearable. I was able to easily sustain myself and my kids over that next week. Her act of kindness was far reaching into both my heart and home.

It was during this same period of time while I was grieving the death of my dad that I became completely overwhelmed and depressed. It was one of those complete meltdown moments in life. I had gone to my quiet place in my home where I could be alone with the Lord to pray. I had my Bible, my journal, and had also been texting a friend who was concerned about me. The tears began to flow and quickly turned into loud sobbing. It was not only the pain of the loss of my dad I was feeling, but other hurt that I had been carrying, which all came tumbling out. It was in the middle of all this pain and crying that my phone rang. It was a long-time Christian friend of mine who rarely called. But, call me she did and it was all I could do to say “hello”. This friend went right to prayer, speaking loudly and with authority, as I cried into the phone. She continued in prayer for me until the sobs quieted and completely stopped. We then discussed why my heart was so troubled. As she listened, the heaviness of my heart lifted. By the end of our conversation she had me laughing and planning a girl’s getaway together with her! Her phone call and intercessory prayer changed me, for good. Her timely call and prayer lifted my spirit and broke the bondage of past hurt that was burdening my soul. I am so thankful for my friend who cared enough to reach out to me during a painful time in my life. Because of her prayer covering, listening ear, and encouraging words I was able to pull out of what overwhelmed my heart and soul. I thank the Lord for my praying friend!

These different acts of kindness each had a tremendous effect upon me, each one in a completely different way. The result of each was, of course, all good! They were all uniquely different and with equally diverse outcomes. I thank the Lord for the people who touch my life with their love, kindness, respect, compassion, and most importantly, the love of Christ. When people are thoughtful and caring it brightens our day, encourages our heart, and can lift our spirit! It can also inspire us to reach out to others. And when kindness is paired with prayer… “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 Thank you Lord… Amen!

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