Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Desire of My Heart...

I was barely twenty years old and working at Family Dollar in Glennville, Georgia.  
A little boy and his mother stood near the cash register where I waited to ring up their sale.  They were in a bit of a pickle.  Their sweet conversation went something like this...with a thick southern drawl...
"Junior, you worked so hard, you can pick any toy you want."
"I don't know which one ta choose Mama."
"Which one do you want?"
"Which one do you think I should pick?"
"The one you want."
Then came the line that melted my heart...
"Mama, I want what you want me to have."
And the reply...
"I want you to have the one that you want."

It's been thirty years since I witnessed that precious scene.  

But this morning, I remembered those words as I prayed about a desire of my heart.
Something I've wanted for a long time.
Something I've worked very hard for.
Something I've prayed about for many years.
And as I thought about my desire, fear crept in.
Doubt pulled up a chair.
Insecurity popped some popcorn.
And then, I remembered the scene...
Lord, I want what you want me to have.
Child, I want you to have what you want.

If my greatest desire is to have what He wants me to have,
I will always get what I want.

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
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Friday, August 12, 2016

Pearl...


I have six hens.  Pearl is my dumbest hen.  
I've learned a lot about chickens in my time as a backyard chicken farmer.  They're chicken...as in scared, they aren't terribly smart and with the exception of the hen at the top of the pecking order, they’re followers.  They're fast, they're twitchy, they squawk a lot, and they can destroy a patch of lawn in no time flat.
Pearl is a special kind of dumb, she is near the bottom, if not on the bottom of the pecking order. She is a poor follower.  
She is chicken—the most chicken hen I have. 
When I enter the pen, she starts running to get away from me, sometimes running towards me. Realizing her mistake, she changes directions abruptly, squawking a warning of my aggression to her coop-mates, all of whom understand that I will be throwing them scratch.  They flock around my feet in anticipation.  When I throw scratch to her, she runs away, frightened.
Dumb hen.
Lately, I've been letting the ladies out of the pen to feast on bugs, worms, green leafys and other goodies.  They generally stick close by and close together.
Even Pearl knows the drill—until it's time to go back into the pen.
After a few hours of scratching and nibbling and bathing in soft, dry dirt, the ladies are ready for a handful of scratch and the comforts of home.  I call them back into the pen.  They come running.  Into the coop they go--all, that is, except for Pearl.  She always get's "stuck" outside the fence.  She runs back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...
"Where's the door...I can't find the door!" she squawks.  She's in full panic mode.  Running, running, running. 
I say "Oh my gosh, you're so dumb!"  I grab a little handful of scratch to give her a trail to the door.  It doesn't work.  She's too dumb to figure it out.
"It's over here!" I say, moving away from the door to give her room to come in without feeling threatened by my presence.  Nope, she continues to panic.  She's sure the door is on the other side of the pen...but where did it go?  I usually give up after about 5 minutes of coaxing.  By then the others have eaten most of the scratch.  I go into the house and let her panic alone.  The other hens watch her, it's no wonder she's on the bottom of the pecking order.
It's a dance we do every single time they are allowed out of the coop.
And I wonder. 
Am I like Pearl?  When God wants to give me something, do I rely on my own ideas or thoughts or wisdom to find it?  Am I listening when He opens a door and says "Go right in and feast?"  Do I say "NO, you don't understand, the door is over here...this is the right way!"
The door to my chicken coop is around a corner from where Pearl runs back and forth.  It takes a good amount of trust for a chicken hen to go around a corner—especially if the hen is as chicken as Pearl.  It takes a good amount of trust for me to step out of my own knowledge of what the situation is and trust God's plan for my life.  I have to believe that He knows more (duh).  Why do I question and hesitate or turn the other way?  I rely on myself, rejecting God's wisdom.
I don't want to be a Pearl.  I want to go through doors the second they're opened; to reap the bounty of God's goodness; to step out in faith and not be so "chicken". Thankfully God doesn't stand by the door saying "OH my gosh, you're so dumb!"  He patiently waits for me to stop being so Pearl-like!
I'm working on it, God is good, the opportunities to grow in faith are endless and daily and I pray that someday I won't relate to creatures like Pearl!  

Isaiah 55:8-9  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 higher than your thoughts.
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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

In memoriam...Ode to Lola.

We had to put our cat to sleep today. It’s not an easy thing to decide to end a pet’s life, but we reluctantly made the call. We made the same heartbreaking decision six years ago when our black lab, Dakota, was suffering. When we lost Dakota, I wrote a loving tribute to our faithful friend and companion. So it is with deep sadness, mixed with a bit of relief that I write this tribute to our departed Lola.

Lola was a beauty. Her “calico” coloring, random patches of grey and tabby stripes made her unique and particularly beautiful. She had bright green eyes that flashed when she was angry…more on that later. She was a sweet and loving cat to a few choice people…on a few choice days. She was exceptionally clean and never had an “accident” like so many other cats are known to have. She never hocked up a hairball, not even once. It’s a good thing she was beautiful and clean and hairball-less because her other qualities were not so redeeming.

She had a particular dislike for people who...well…for people. She only loved four of the five members of our family for the longest time and only learned to love the fifth when she was the last kid left after the other two moved away. She loved my parents…mostly…usually. She did not love anyone else. No one. She learned to tolerate a few people, but only if they visited alone. Where some cats see large groups of people as opportunities to be stroked and loved, Lola saw large groups of people as malicious invaders…they had to go! She did everything in her power to make our guests feel unwelcome. The flashing green eyes followed by guttural growls and angry hisses. That Lola could put on a frightful show. My mantra when company came: “The cat’s feelings about you are not a reflection of our own…truly…” (Friends, it’s safe to come over now.)

Once when we were out of town, our neighbor was feeding Lola in our absence. We learned upon our return that she felt the need to bring a golf club with her for protection. And that’s when we bought a self-feeder for our trips. Lola hated it when the self-feeder came out of the closet, but she brought it on herself.

Lola did some cute things too…She spent every morning in the bathroom having a loud, mad conversation with the “mirror cat”. Perhaps I should have given her coffee…it sure helps me.

She had the cutest way of looking up at us when we’d fill her inconvenient bowl with cold refrigerator water. (The inconvenient bowl was a small bowl of water placed on the kitchen floor in the way of everything.) She got antsy if the staff failed to fill it immediately upon descending the stairs…but our reward for doing her bidding was her cute little upturned face.

Lola had a very loud purr - it’s what drew us to her in the first place when we rescued her from the animal shelter. She would crawl in our lap every evening and purr…then get annoyed and nip at us when we’d pet her too much. But that purr…

And she had a sweet way of letting us know that she was getting low on food….she snuggled. She was her cutest when she was hungry. If I’m honest, we sometimes postponed filling her bowl to imagine what life with an affectionate cat could be like. She had no use for that sweet nonsense until her tummy growled.

Alas, we will miss Lola…she’s been manipulating us for almost 15 years. If cats go to heaven, and I seriously doubt they do…let’s be honest…cats…I hope we’ll see her there.