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All posts for the month June, 2016

So Much More Than Running …

Published June 21, 2016 by Dawn

After slightly more than four hours of sleep, I woke up Monday morning and went for a run before work. I was wiped out before the day even really got started … and it was a long one. After working a full day, I came home to my worst nightmare: the yard needed to be mowed, the dishes and laundry done, and it was a toasty 95 outside. Ok, so maybe that’s not my worst nightmare, but it’s close. Thankfully, I got a new mower, so I as expecting things to be easier …

Expectations …. Ugh. I took the bagger off the back of the mower and tied up the door so it would blow out the chaff instead of mulching. Because the door was right by my legs, I decided pants were a good idea. And they were, mostly. I only got three large bruises from being hit by UFOs, instead of gaping wounds. But it was so hot outside. And so hot in jeans. And before long, I was a sneezing mess, covered in dirt and debris and wishing I could just go in, wash the yard off and lay around. But the dishes were waiting. And so was the laundry. And I just remembered I needed to go to Wal-Mart, when all I really wanted to do was go to bed!

I was almost done with the yard before my muscles began to cry out for mercy. My legs, already hurting from the morning run, were screaming in agony and my arms were threatening to go on strike. I willed myself forward. “I am almost done!” I yelled, encouraging my rebellious muscles to keep going. “I am not quitting now!”

The mower died.

I had to walk all the way back to the garage to grab the gas can, take it back to the mower and fill it up, walk back to the garage and put it away, then get back to mowing the last little part of the yard. I was sooooo done. But not really.

I pressed on. I did what I had to do, finished up the yard and twenty minutes later, pulled a cold water bottle out of the fridge before hopping in the shower. One chore down, several more to go. Oh my aching body!

I finally crawled into bed after ten, completely worn out but done. I conquered my chore list for the day. More than that, I conquered my deep desire to quit long before I was officially done. As I lay in bed praying, the Lord impressed this truth on me: sometimes, there’s so much more than running. Sometimes, there’s what you planned to do, and a bunch of other things after it that will tax you beyond your current capacities. You will have to press on and do the much more, despite every part of you screaming for relief and threatening rebellion. There will be times in your life that require patient endurance and you will have to encourage yourself to keep going. Make yourself keep going. This is the Christian’s walk.

I mistakenly thought that running would be the most taxing thing I would do yesterday. I was wrong. I also thought my muscles couldn’t handle the great strain of pushing the mower up and down hills for over an hour. I was wrong again. I thought four hours of sleep wouldn’t be enough to last through work, much less the seemingly impossible chore list afterward. Thankfully, I was so wrong.

In our lives, there will be many opportunities to quit. There will be many days we don’t think we’ll make it. Many situations and ongoing circumstances that require so much more of us than we can imagine ourselves giving. There will be times real life doesn’t quite measure up to our expectations and we find ourselves facing things we just know we can’t do. These are the moments we find out who we are. These are the moments we find out who God is, and how strong we are in Him. These are the moments He strengthens what remains and we press on despite our fleshly desire to lay down and die. These are the moments we have to encourage ourselves, because others might not be around to do it for us. But when it’s all said and done, we can be victorious. We can be victorious. And in case you didn’t quite get that, we can be victorious!  We don’t have to let life defeat us. It might hurt. We might falter. We might cry and scream and throw a temper tantrum. But we don’t have to quit. We shouldn’t quit. When we are weak, then He is strong. God is faithful. He will not let us down. In our hardest, or darkest, hour, we can trust him. We can push through. We can make it. Even when it hurts. On those days, when there’s so much more than running, just know there’s an end to the struggle, even if you can’t see it yet. You will get there and you will be victorious!

 

Are You Chasing Rabbits?

Published June 15, 2016 by Dawn

I have certain expectations while I am exercising. Most importantly, I don’t like to be talked to. In a close second is that I don’t like to be stopped for any reason. I am ultra-focused on the finish line, because once I get there, the death that I’m dying will be over. I hate working out!

Lately, I have taken to running. I needed to exercise the dog before work, getting out as much of his pent-up, country dog energy before leaving him in a backyard kennel for hours while I work. I also needed to find something that works for me and serves to also destress while kicking my butt. Running was the natural solution to meeting all of these needs.

Bleu and I get up early to get our run in before I get ready for work. Let me just stop right here and say I never saw that happening. I like – no, LOVE – sleep. But sacrifices have to be made some times and it was inevitable. Morning is the only time I feel really motivated to move. After a long day of work, and homemaking chores afterward, exercising at night is the last thing I am capable of sticking to. Evenings are so busy, my body so wiped out, and my bed calling, all of which make exercising in the evening a total failure.

So most mornings, I get up, down a glass of water to loosen up my muscles and prepare them for the beating they’re about to take, grab my ferocious dog’s leash and head out. After a few minutes of walking, we hit a fast jogging pace and settle into it. It’s just he and I, and my several expectations, out for a morning jog.

Well, mostly. Do you know who else get up really early in the morning? Critters. In our neck of the woods, it’s mainly rabbits. Cute little white-tailed bunny rabbits that any hunting dog would be itching to catch. A hunting dog … like my half-beagle, half-shepherd who thinks the world is his playground, but also has deep insecurities that make him either really afraid or really unfriendly, depending on how close his mom is in the moment.

Obviously, we have an issue every time we see a rabbit. Which means we have a problem every time we go running. We see at least five rabbits every morning, which means there are five times every time I exercise that my expectations are tossed violently aside and my arm ripped violently out of socket. My loyal running companion forgets momentarily that he is on assignment and heads off to fulfill his innate responsibility to rid the world of Peter Cottontail’s endless progeny.

It’s so frustrating. In the middle of my dying, my dog is just beginning to really live! Here I am trying to discipline myself and make a change for the better, for me and the dog, and he’s pulling hard against the leash in a moment of panicked excitement, bucking all discipline to catch a rabbit. A chase that will most likely be futile. He most likely will not ever catch a rabbit, but that wouldn’t keep him from trying.

You know what happened, right? This … for two weeks, until the Lord pointed something out to me. “Chasing rabbits. You’ve heard that, right? It’s the opposite of discipline and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It’s the opposite of knowing the will of God. It’s following every little thing that hops across your path because you suddenly feel alive in it, but finding out later that it was pointless and fleeting. And it’s the devil’s game to keep you distracted from doing the good works created by God specifically for you.”

Chasing rabbits. That’s pretty profound, isn’t it? With that word, I had to examine myself and consider if I, like Bleu, have been chasing rabbits instead of following the path God marked out for me. Have I been running my race, or have I gotten so far off course that I can’t see His plan anymore? Instead of a leash, I have been given a free will, so God might give me a gentle nudge to keep me in the direction He wants me going but He doesn’t yank me back if I get too antsy and belligerent. He lets me wander, giving me the wisdom that I have strayed and beckoning me back. But He is too much of a gentleman to force me to do His will. We always hear it taught that we’ve been specially crafted for a purpose, which I don’t dispute. But I do believe we are in error if we believe that no one else can fulfill our calling. God used a donkey to restrain a prophet and Jesus said the rocks could cry out in our place. All of creation was designed to serve God’s purpose and it will be fulfilled whether we do our part or not. Remember what Mordecai told Esther? “If you remain silent now, help for Israel will come from somewhere else.”

Chasing rabbits is the devil’s game. It’s Satan’s way of keeping us undisciplined, unrestrained, and unable to do what our Father has called us to do. It also leaves us unfulfilled and unhappy because we are continuously looking at the promise and asking God why we aren’t living our purposes, but all the while spending our energy on dead-end endeavors that God never told us to do. We wonder why it takes years for us, and months for others. Look at the trip to Canaan. They spent forty-years chasing common sense instead of eleven days following in the footprints of God’s miraculous provision and promise. How many years have we wasted in this way?

My spirit is in a fit right now! It’s time to stop chasing rabbits! It’s time to believe the promises of God are yes and amen, it’s time to believe that God is for us and not against us. It’s time to believe that we can do all that God has called us to do because of His power that is so mightily at work within us. It’s time to stop listening to the world’s wisdom about how to get there and start listening to God’s guidance. We need to start putting one foot in front of the other on the path He marked out for us before we were even born and stop turning our head to the right and left looking around. We are tempting the devil to distract us and he will do it! Focus on God. Focus on His word. Focus on His directives. Do what your hands find to do instead of chasing down the next big thing and just see if God doesn’t fulfill His promises to you. I believe this is a Rhema word, for me at least.

Father, help me to be disciplined and steadfastly focused on you. Fill me with the faith to believe in all that you have spoken to me, and give me the strength and longevity to see it through, for your honor and glory. Use me as you said you would. Help me to stop chasing rabbits.

Worship Like a Dog

Published June 9, 2016 by Dawn

My dog is so exasperating. I think he might just be the smartest, most loving dog in the world, but you would never know because he’s especially antisocial and antagonistic toward everyone but me and my kids.

We rescued him from an animal shelter and he loves us to the moon because of it. A year ago, when we first got him, he showed classic signs of abuse: he cowered for any and every reason and treated everyone he didn’t know like a criminal. Any time he became anxious or stressed out, he peed all over himself, the floor, or whomever was standing near him. A year later, he still does all of these things, but to a lesser degree. At this point, his animosity is mainly toward men (especially the mailman and my brother). He still sometimes cowers if he thinks you are displeased with him (he can read facial expressions really well, and discerns voice inflections with superb accuracy), and anxiety still causes him to pee all over the place.

Another reason I find my dog so exasperating is totally adorable and frustrating all at the same time. He demands attention. All the time. If someone is standing near him or sits down, he makes sure their hand is on his head. But not just touching him. He will root around under our hands until we pet him! He also likes to crawl up on the couch with us and settle into our laps to get under our hands. If, for whatever reason, we don’t want to pet him, he will brace his legs and refuse to move away. He insists on affection! When, by sheer willpower, I am able to resist his gorgeous puppy-dog eyes and incessant pleas for attention, he will slowly crawl off my lap and go across the room to sit and stair me down with a sad face until I talk to him. The moment I start talking to him, his ears perk up, his tail hits ninety-to-nothing and he’s bounding across the room to sit in my lap and tell me how much he loves me by licking my arms while I pet him.

I often reflect on his undying devotion and manic attempts to get my attention and affection, wondering if I have ever adored my God like my dog adores me. After all, I too have been rescued. Nourished back to health. Loved in spite of myself. Given a better life, and a chance. Am I as grateful? As persistent in catching His attention, and securing His affection? Here’s what I know without a doubt: that kind of searching, that kind of unrelenting plea is sure to garner His attention, and how could it not also melt God’s heart and draw from Him a deep, overflowing love in return?