Guitar part 2?

The other Day

 
The other day in my post, Fear, I wrote about stopping playing the guitar because of fear. I ended the post with something like maybe someday the guitar will come back. Maybe I will find that I am both a writer and a musician. I don’t have an answer to that but in my mind, it was a question. I didn’t expect God to do anything with it. I didn’t expect it so soon. I wrote about it last week and opened my heart to the possibility of someday, maybe. It wasn’t a real hope or dream, just maybe. Well…, let me tell you what happened this week.

Facings Tons of Fears

 
I had been invited to a Bible study at the home of someone I didn’t know. Hubby goes to a men’s group on Tuesday night so I was going to be going alone. The person who invited me unexpectedly was not able to go. She said, “You should go, you will have fun.” Hubby said the same thing. I was ready to back out. I am an introvert. I was going by myself to interact with a bunch of new people. It hit all my panic buttons. I went. I had to use GPS since it was in an area that I had never been. GPS was wrong; it said that my destination was on the right. There was nothing but a field on my right. Have I mentioned that I have no sense of direction? I wanted to go home. I called my hubby. He called the leader of his men’s group. It was his parent’s house that I was trying to get to. I found the house and there were no cars there. I was already 15 minutes late. I knocked on the door.
 
Fortunately, I was in the right place. All my fears said that I was knocking on the wrong door. They invited me in and showed me where the food was. Dinner was being served before the meeting. The food was good, simple fare served on paper plates. There was an open seat next to the lady of the house, Mrs. A. She invited me to sit next to her and introduced me to all. I began to relax, they weren’t going to eat me for dinner. I know it sounds silly now, but I don’t do well with crowds by myself. I was so far out of my comfort zone last night. But He was with me.

Worship

 
Mrs. A. finished dinner and grabbed her guitar. I later found out that she was the worship leader for this group. She was laying out her music as we chatted. She asked if I played. She caught me with a mouth full of food. There must have been some expression on my face that she caught. She continued speaking like I answered yes. She said I thought you played, I could tell. As I am still chewing, she said that people tell her all kinds of reasons why they don’t play. She said that most people play better than she does because she only knows a few chords. I swallowed my food and told her the truth. Yes, I did play but haven’t picked up a guitar at all in a few years because of fear. I told her that I played classical guitar and not a steel string like hers. She took what I said at face value. She didn’t try to talk me out of my fear or tell me that it was silly. All she did was turn to one of her daughters and say, “She plays classical guitar.” Then she went back to preparing for worship.
 
Worship was not what I expected. Several of the churches that we have attended have a worship style that feels like you are going to a concert. It is neither good nor bad; it is a style. It is hard for the average person to join in and sing. This was far from that. Her style was beautiful. It was far from professional; it was simple and inviting. All could join in. She led four songs. Two were traditional hymns. The hymnals were sitting on the kitchen table for those who needed the words; me. Then she sang two songs that the style was more contemporary. I knew those words.
 
While this was wonderful, it was not what caught my attention the most. When she sat down to play, three of her grandchildren got their guitars to join her. I am guessing at the ages but they ranged from about 10-15. No one tuned their guitars to play as a group. If you know anything about musicians, tuning is a big deal. Mrs. A. mentioned that they haven’t tuned for a couple of weeks. If someone was out of tune, it wasn’t noticeable. I could only see the face of the youngest. He would stop playing and look confused at certain parts of the song. But, he kept going. The two older ones would stop at certain places too. No one mentioned a thing. No one cared that it wasn’t perfect. When worship time was over, all four put their guitars away. The eyes were not on the musicians. It was all about worshiping Jesus.

Next Week

 
Next week, yes I am going back, I want to bring my guitar. I won’t know the songs. I will forget a chord here and there but it is a start. It feels like a safe place to start anew. Maybe, just maybe, I am a writer and a musician too.

What about You?

Are you and God working through something that you find fearful? He tells us in Isaiah 43:2 that he walks through things with us. He is there to hold your hand in the fearful times.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

You are His lamb. He holds your hand as you walk through.

 

 


Muddy Puppies and Jesus’ Love

But God demonstrated his love for us;
While we were still sinners
Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8
 
I walked outside a few minutes ago and what a sight I saw. Our two female, twelve-week-old Great Pyrenees puppies were covered in mud!

Her name is Snowball. She is not white today!

Sugar after she was tackled by Snowball.

 
They love me and wanted to be hugged and petted. They were not happy that I didn’t want to touch them. They didn’t understand why I didn’t want to shower them with love like I usually do. They were being puppies and had found a mud puddle. They had fun and wanted to share it with me. I was wearing shorts and flip flops. I didn’t want my legs covered with mud. I had to take pictures because they were being so adorable.
 
As I was snapping picture after picture, the above verse came into my mind. He spoke gently to me. He said that we were still sinners when he died for us. We were covered with the filth of sin like the puppies were covered in mud. I didn’t want to get the puppies’ mud on my skin. Christ, who was a holy and perfect God, became sin. He did this to rescue us from the power of sin. We weren’t clean and pretty. We were not pure white like clean Great Pyrenes puppies can be. We were muddy with sin. And he chose to die for us when we were in that condition.
 
He loves you! You don’t have to clean yourself up before you come to him. You come to him and then he makes you pure. I don’t understand the concept; I take it on faith. When I accepted him, I died and he lives with me.
 
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,
But Christ lives in me.
The life I now live in the body,
I live by faith in the Son of God,
Who loved me and gave himself for me
Galatians 2:20
 
I understand that we are people and not dogs. But think of the puppy as an analogy for your life. You are a puppy that gets dirty and muddied by sin. My puppies thought I wanted to love on them while they were a mess; I didn’t. I didn’t want to touch them until they were clean. We think that is how God feels about us. We are wrong. No matter how much mud of sin you have caked on you, He comes to offer you love. And he offers to take the muck of your sin upon himself and give you his life.
 
He loves you!
 

What about you?

 
Do you know him? Does your life look as messy as my muddy puppies? God offers his love and he will make you whiter than snow. Ask Jesus into your life
 
There is nothing fancy about doing that. Some people call it the sinner’s prayer. You can use your own words or mine below.
 
Dear Jesus,
 

I am a muddy, messy puppy. I have sin in my life. You know about all that muddy sin I am stuck in. I am covered with it. I have tried to change my life but it doesn’t work. I am coming to you as my Savior. I want you to clean up this messy puppy and make me white as snow. Your word says that I am crucified with you and I die. And that you live within me. I don’t know what that means but I want it. What I understand is that somehow you see my messy, muddy life and still love me. I want you in my life.

Sugar and Snowball-8 weeks old and white.

If you have made a commitment to Jesus and have turned from a muddy puppy to a snow white puppy, let me know. As always, I would love to hear your comments.

All Things

And we know that in  ALL THINGS
God works for the good of those
Who love him,
Who have been called
According to his purpose.
 
Romans 8:28
 
In this verse, God promises to work for our good. He does things for our good and his glory. This can be a verse of great comfort. It is also a verse that causes confusion. 

Pain and Hope

 
Years ago as a twenty-something year old, God taught me a truth in this verse. He has repeated time and time again. Let me set the stage for you. I don’t remember what exactly why I was upset and heartbroken. At that point in my life, it was either because of my job or a guy. I remember standing in the shower, washing my hair and the tears were streaming down my face. Whatever caused such angst back then doesn’t even register in my memory now. Yet, the lesson is still as fresh as that day.
 
In my tears, God reminded me of this verse. He wasn’t upset that I didn’t see the truth of this verse. He wasn’t mad that I didn’t understand that this heartache would work for good. He came to bring comfort. He came to hold my hand in the pain. He came to bring truth into my life. He can do no other thing because HE is the TRUTH.
 
He spoke these words to me as I stood washing my hair. These words have stuck with me for thirty something years. this story It has become part of who I am and I share it.
 
He asked me, “Is this an ALL THING?” I was brokenhearted. I was in pain and he dared to ask that. To me, seemed like a stupid thing to ask. I wanted to know how he was going to fix the situation. I wanted my pain to go away. I didn’t want to answer the stupid question. He gently asked it several more times before I answered.
 
I had to say yes to his question. ALL means all. There were no exceptions written in that verse. It doesn’t mean that there is a “no way” clause for things we don’t like. Things like cancer, job loss, adultery, the suicide of your teenager and much more are included in that verse. We don’t see how God could work for our good in these times. All we see is what is in front of us. Everything in us screams that God cannot or will not work for our good in this situation. But the verse says ALL THINGS!
 
We can’t see it with our human minds. But God… He doesn’t think like we do. He says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 5: 8-9 NIV
 
God is so big and so awesome that we can’t even begin to understand his thoughts. That is a good thing! I wouldn’t want the God who runs the universe to only have my mental capacities. It would be a mess. But when the ALL THINGS happen we want to understand because it hurts.
 
If you are in an ALL THINGS time, read the next few paragraphs like Jesus is talking to you. While they are my words, they contain the truth of HIS WORD.

Jesus wants you to know…

 
When the day is a mess, call out to me. When you are stressed, call out to me. When you feel that you are at the end of your rope and can go no further, call out to me. I will rescue you. Sometimes that means I will change the circumstances. But most times it means that I will hold your hand during the storm.
 
I will be there to quiet your pounding heart. I will be there to give you directions when there seems to be no way. I see the way because I Am the Way. I am your peace in the storm. When there are torrents of rain falling, I will hold your hand. When hail the size of tennis balls is falling, and thunder crashing, I am there. I walk with you through the scary stuff of life. I never leave you. I will never, ever, ever forsake you. That means I will stick to you like glue. My presence is always with you.
 
When there is a traffic jam and you are late for work, I am there. When the worst thing in your life happens, I am there. Because you are mine, I am able to protect you in ways that you don’t see and can’t even imagine. You have no idea how many times a day I protect you. And even in the times when it seems like I am not protecting you, I am. You don’t see the big picture of your life. I have the best in mind for you. I love you.
 
Sometimes the most growth comes in the painful times of your life. I do know what is best for you. I only allow pain and hurt in your life for your good and my glory. All things do work for good. But, when you are in the middle of the pain, you don’t see that. I do. That is why I allow the pain and suffering in your life. I see the end. I see the beauty that comes from the ashes. I see and understand what the pain creates in your life that could not be created any other way. I see the good that comes from the pain and frustrations of life. Please trust me that I know what I am doing. I ask you to walk a life of faith and trust. I know that it is not easy. I know more than you could understand. Remember I walked that life of faith too. Yes, I was fully God but I was also fully man at the same time. I understand the fear and uncertainty that living the life of faith can bring. ALL THINGS do work for good. Trust me.

Things to think about

I don’t want to give you the impression that I have this stuff figured out. Sometimes I get it.  And other times, well my reactions are not pretty. You would even wonder if I know Him by the way I react. But, I am his daughter. He lavishes me with love and grace.  Do you know this God that offers nothing but Grace when we don’t deserve it? I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Fear, It’s not going to stop me this time.

A writer and a teacher

 
I am a writer. I have written off and on since I was a teenager. But, I didn’t call myself a writer until last year. You see, I am a teacher too. I never thought of myself as a writer because writing is so much a part of the teaching profession. I looked at it as something I did because I was a teacher. I figured it was a skill I picked up along the way because all teachers write.
 
Until last year, that is how I thought about writing. I lumped it into the same category as public speaking. That is a skill you learn as a teacher too. Getting up and talking in front of a group of people is scary for most people; teachers do it every day. I have 20+ years of experience as an educator and have yet to die speaking in front of a group. It doesn’t scare me.
 
Last year, I started taking writing seriously. I discovered the idea of sharing my writing in public was daunting. It was as scary as public speaking is for most people. At first, I wrote only in a journal for myself. Then I shared with family members and a few friends. It was a vulnerable experience and terrifying.

The problem was fear

 
 I knew that I had words to speak. I didn’t know if I wanted others to listen because it meant I could face rejection. And so I started a blog. I know it was a silly step if I didn’t want people to read my work. But, I was conflicted. I wanted people to read the blog and I was fearful that they would read it.
 
Yes, it was and still is scary. Yet, I have been down this road before. I chose fear. I used to play classical guitar. I took a semester of it in college as an elective. I learned a bit more on my own and enjoyed it. But I would never play in front of people. The fear of rejection paralyzed me. I was a beginner. No one would have expected perfection from my level of skill. I thought I had to have that to play for others. So I hid, used excuses and ultimately I stopped playing. I walked in fear. What if I had kept playing despite the fear? I took that class in the summer of 1981. I would have had 30+ years of experience. Would I have been a master or mediocre? I don’t know because I let fear rule me.

Yes, it is a regret. Yet, God can use regrets for good. I learned and am determined not to make the same choice again. I don’t want to hide behind fear with my writing. I debated even writing this post. You have no idea how scary this is. But I have learned, and am learning, that if things are out in the open, they have less power.

The solution is faith

 
This is my line in the sand post. I have done it in my journal. Now, I choose to do it on the blog for all to see. I commit my writing to God. I will go where he directs. This is my version of Isaiah 6:8. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am I. Send me!” I have no idea what this means, but I say yes to what God is asking of my writing.

The guitar

 
And about that guitar, I still own it. I have the guitar that I used in that class many years ago. It is a beautiful guitar and its tonal qualities are amazing. Over the years, I have had people offer to buy it. I can’t sell it. The whole guitar thing has never felt finished. Perhaps its purpose in my life has been fulfilled. I failed at it but God used it to help me walk through the fear of sharing my writing. Or, maybe in time, I will rediscover the guitar. I might be both a writer and a musician. Only time will tell. If so, fear will not stop me this time.

What about you?

What about you? Is God asking you to do something that is scary? Join with me on this faith journey. Take that step of faith. I know that I will not be perfect with this; that is okay. I will probably be like a turtle and stick my head back into my shell of fear occasionally. But, I invite you to come back to the blog to witness my journey. My journey can give you hope. Will you walk with me into His immeasurable Grace and Love? Let me know what you think.

Shoe “Envy”

 
I admit it, I have shoe “envy”. There are three or four ladies at my church that I check out their shoes every Sunday. They wear such amazing beautiful shoes that I don’t have and wish I did. I “envy” them.
 
God formed me with a foot that is impossible to fit. I have a short, narrow kid-sized foot. It functions great. It supports my weight and gets me where I need to go when I walk on it. But it is a pain when it comes to shoe shopping! I can’t go to Walmart to buy the cute stylish shoes, mine are hard to find and expensive.
 
When I was in college, I was shopping with a friend and found a beautiful pair of heels that fit perfectly. I didn’t have the money in my checking account. I knowingly wrote a hot check! I went home with shoes in hand. I told my mom. All she said was, “How much money do you need to cover the check.” She handed me the cash to deposit in my account. Nothing was ever said about illegally writing a hot check. She knew my issues with finding shoes that fit!
 

I haven’t worn a nice, stylish dress in years. I love dresses. I can’t find a shoe that fit to wear with a dress. I own tennis shoes, a pair of Converse high-tops, cowboy boots for ranch work and casual sandals. I own nothing fancy. This is not because I don’t want it, I can’t find it to fit. Little girl’s dress shoes look silly on a middle-aged lady whose hair is graying. I don’t wear dresses.

When they were new and clean.

 
Occasionally, I do get into a mood with God and complain. I would like to be the stereotypical woman that has a closet full of shoes. I like pretty shoes. But that is not what God had planned for me. I own five pairs of shoes, six if you count my cowboy boots. This is a first world Christian problem. I understand that. My “envy” does not cause me to sin. But, it could. God’s word says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy….” This is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4. Another word for envy is jealous. Oh my, that word hits me harder than envy. In our times, the word jealousy is easier to understand.
 
I admit that the title of this post is inaccurate. I did it on purpose to get you to think. In the last paragraph, I said that my “envy” does not cause me to sin. That is because I don’t envy other women’s shoes. I admire their shoes. Somehow God taught me that there is a fine line between envy and admiration. Envy is done without love. Admiration is done with love. If I envied another’s shoes, I tear them down with my thoughts and words. There is no peace and harmony where there is jealousy. I won’t lie, I would enjoy pretty shoes. But, it is not in God’s plan for me to own them. He has given me the appreciation of what I cannot have to build up others. What woman doesn’t enjoy being told that they look good? I notice shoes. I use it as an opportunity to compliment women on their looks. I start with the shoes. Then I go on to say something like these shoes were the perfect choice to match your outfit. And the outfit brings out your beauty. The conversation lasts 10 seconds and I have made women smile.
 
I have done this for years. I have done it with those that I know personally and with strangers. Since the motivation is love, God can work. I will never know what that simple comment meant. But God does.
 
I may never get to wear fancy shoes for the rest of my life. That is okay. God has given me the ability to appreciate them and to compliment others. I have no idea how he uses this “gift” to touch others all the time. But, I know he does because I have seen the smiles it brings to women’s faces.

My kid’s size 2, dog chewed work boots.

Remember my post How to Handle the Interruptions of LifeThe same cute, adorable Border Collie ate a chunk out my boot. Since they are ranch work boots, the missing piece only adds character.

I purposely chose a simple example. But, there are many places in our lives where it is easy to become envious or jealous of others. What is God saying to you? I would love to hear your comments.

 

Is it a Want or a Need? God is Gracious and Merciful

 
And my God
Will meet all your needs
According to the riches of his glory
In Christ Jesus
 Philippians 4:19 NIV
 
What an amazing promise God gives us in this verse! He promises to meet all of our needs. It is in the Bible, it is truth. If only it was that easy to take him at his word.
 
If I am honest, I have to admit that I have a love, hate relationship with this verse. I love the truth it tells of the loving Father taking care of his child. I hate that it exposes my selfishness and misunderstanding of this verse.

Wants vs. Needs

I, on more than one occasion, have confused my wants with my needs. Sometimes, I am convinced that I that something falls into the need category. And, then God in his wisdom exposes my true motives. He shows me that this is not a need it is a want. Like any good parent, God does not give me all my wants. He knows that would turn me into a spoiled brat. His goal is to conform me into the image of his son. Unfortunately, my first reaction is throwing a temper tantrum like a two-year-old.

It can get even worse if God has said “no” or “wait” to something I feel I need and then gives it to someone else. Oh, my, then the green monster of envy comes out! I was 31 when I got married. I was the last one of my group of friends to get married. I had been praying for a husband since I was 19. It wasn’t fair! I complained, cried and felt like God had forgotten me. Now, after 26 years of marriage, I understand that neither my husband or I would have been ready any sooner. There was also the small matter of logistics. The United States Air Force needed to transfer him to where I was living. God knew the plan and it was good.

Is it a Want or a Need?

 
God has also been teaching me that hard way that some things I believe are needs aren’t. They are wants of the first world American Christian. This one has been a hard one. Our culture teaches us to expect certain standards as the norm. There is nothing wrong with that for the most part. I ran into trouble with this.  
 
A few summers ago, our central air conditioning unit died a slow and expensive death. Our repairman attended our church, we trusted him. He told us that it was time to replace the outside unit to the tune of many thousands of dollars. This was not in the budget. We went without any air conditioning for about a week in the late summer. In South Texas, in August the high temperatures can reach 100 F and lows about 75 F. It was miserable. God in his wisdom reminded me that this is how most of the world lives today. Air conditioning is a luxury, not a necessity.
 
God was gracious, he taught me about the concept first world wants vs true needs. And then we were able to install several window air conditioner units. The house now cools better than before. And our electric bill is cheaper than when we were running the dying central unit. It was a blessing I did not see when I was busy whining.
 
The dishwasher is an ongoing lesson. I don’t understand yet how this fits with wants vs. needs.  I despise washing dishes by hand! It is one of my most hated household chores. In the past few years, we have several poorly working dishwashers or dead dishwashers. About 15 months ago, we bit the bullet and bought a new dishwasher. Husband wanted to buy a moderately priced one. I had been researching them and found a higher price one that had excellent reviews. I found it on sale for a little more than we had planned to spend. Husband agreed to my choice and we brought it home. It worked great for a few months and then… It is the worst appliance I have ever owned. In the 15 months that we have owned it, we have had a repairman out 10 times. They have replaced every part, some twice. The company will not replace the unit.
 
I can’t tell you of any great spiritual insights gained from the dishwasher. There haven’t been any. I am still wrestling with God with this one. There are still tears, frustrations, and grumbling. But, I know that Romans 8:28 is true. It says: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” So if you keep reading this blog, one day I will be able to tell you how it worked for good. But, today, I am not there. And I am not sure if the dishwasher was a want or a need. Does it matter? I am not sure.
 

Walking out the Truth of this Verse

I wish I could give you some words of wisdom or some great spiritual truths to hang your hat on about this verse. I can’t. I am learning like you are. What I do know is that the Word is true. He provides for our needs. He is a loving Father and to do anything less would be out of character for him. You and I get things all messed up in our heads about what are wants or needs. We think God should be like Santa Claus and give us everything we want. But that is not in our best interest. And then we throw a tantrum and pout like a toddler. 
 
I am working this out day by day. But I don’t doubt that he loves me. His grace is sufficient. And his mercies are new every morning.
What about you? How do you deal with the issue of wants vs. needs? I would love to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comment section.

Spring mean babies!

We thought we were going to have lambs this season, but that didn’t happen. We keep our male sheep, rams, separate from the female sheep, ewes. Our adult ram, Shelby, escaped his pen. We were convinced that there were going to be several unplanned lambs this spring. That did not happen.

The babies that arrived were even more unexpected. We have five emu chicks that have hatched! We have lived here for four years and this is a first for us. They emus have laid eggs before. But have never sat on the nest and hatched the eggs. We would find the eggs when we noticed Sammie snacking on a large distinctive egg.

Sammie, the egg eater.

Emu eggs are beautiful and huge. One of the first ones we found, we scrambled for a Saturday breakfast. One egg fed the four of us with leftovers.  I used one stray egg to make a quiche. I usually use six chicken eggs in that recipe.

Emu egg on the left, large store bought chicken egg on the right

The five chicks are up and moving! They are all following mama around. Since we have never done this, we don’t know how fast they grow. But this picture was taken when they were two days old.

They grow to be large as adults and they are not as cute. 

But they do take wonderful selfies!

Have you ever met an emu? Until we moved to the ranch, I hadn’t. If you have, tell me about your adventure in the comment section.

Don’t Get Eaten by a Coyote Go to Church-Part 2

…let us not neglect meeting together as in the habit of some

Hebrews 10:25 NLT

In my last post,  I talked about the importance of finding a church and getting involved. Today, let’s talk a little bit more about what the church is.

My church history

 
I grew up in the Catholic faith. We went to church every Sunday even if we were out of town. I believed I had a good idea of what a church was since I had been there so often. I thought the church was a building. Going to church meant showing up at the building and sitting in pews with a lot of people you didn’t know. You were supposed to be quiet and listen to the service. Maybe you would fall asleep and then you would go home. And rarely if ever did you interact with those people during the week. The Catholics did it one way, the Methodist another way, the Baptist had their way. Each denomination had a different flavor but it was the same basic thing.
 
When I was an adult I started going to a non-denominational church.  I thought was free from the rituals of the Catholic Church and had arrived at the perfect church. I soon saw that this church had its own rituals and was far from perfect.  I also began to understand my concept of the church was flawed. I started to see that the church was more than a building. 
I didn’t get spiritual and go research in my Bible about Jesus’ view of the church. I came to the realization that we are the church.  That’s right, you, I and other believers are the church. Whenever you interact with another believer you are having church.

We, the sheep, are the church.

I went to church today

 
I went to church yesterday. I texted a friend in another city first thing in the morning. I talked on the phone with another friend. Her husband got a miraculous raise at work. She is a member of the same congregation that I am. I had lunch with a lady from the Women’s group. I texted another friend later. We talked about how her new class in school is going. She used to go to the same congregation as I but no longer does. And finally, I had a conversation with our banker about God. I had no idea she was a believer until yesterday. We have been banking there for over a year. I had contact with five different women yesterday. I went to church! I didn’t walk into the church building. Jesus says in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there.” That is going to church.
 
I am not saying that the brick and mortar building is useless. It is important! It is a place for believers to gather. It is a place designed for us to learn and grow as a community. It is the place where we are equipped for the working of the gospel. It is the place where relationships are formed. We, as flawed humans, have turned the concept of going to church into something it was never intended to be.
 

Where does this leave you?

In reality, there is no perfect church this side of heaven. I am 57 and have been in church my entire life. I have never been to a perfect church. The one we attend now is not perfect. We feel  God has us planted there. The church is made up of saints who sometimes sin. The church is a messy place. That is okay. We are each at different points in our relationships with God.

Jesus is the key to finding a good church.
 

Things to ponder:

 
  •  Churches come in different flavors like ice cream. Find one that you and your family like. Make sure that Jesus is talked about a lot! If he isn’t the main focus, it is not the church for you.
  • You may have to try several churches before you find one that fits. While it is frustrating, it is okay.
  • Churches can be messy. If you get involved in the real lives of others, you are going to get your hands dirty. Relationships are work. But it is amazing to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
 
I would love to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comment section.

Don’t Get Eaten by a Coyote, Go to Church-Part 1

 
 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5 (NIV)

South Texas Paraphrase

 
Here in rural South Texas, we don’t have lions. Our main predator is the coyote. The coyote causes the deaths of many goats and sheep in my local area. To paraphrase this verse for the South Texas area, it would go something like this.
 
Be alert and of sober mind.
Your enemy the devil
Prowls around like a
Howling coyote looking for someone to devour.

Rancher’s Protection

 
Ranchers don’t want their livestock eaten by coyotes! We raise sheep. On the food chain, they are prey animals. They are defenseless animals. An adult ram can hurt a human by head butting them. But they are a chew toy to a pack of coyotes. Many ranches, including us, use Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD) to protect their animals.
 
Our LGDs are a breed called Great Pyrenees. Many internet sites accuse these dogs of being stupid. They are intelligent, deep thinkers. God created them to be able to make insightful decisions. They are able to protect their herd without human interference. If you ask them to do something, they may or may not obey. If you look into their eyes, you can see that they are thinking about the implications of what you have asked them to do. They are amazing, loving creatures. They are gentle and kind to lambs. But, if you are a predator who wants to harm their herd, they can and will tear you limb from limb. This breed of dog can take down a Grizzly Bear if they need to.

Meet our Great Pyrnesses

We currently have five Great Pyrenees. That is a lot for the size of our property, herd and our amount of nearby coyotes. But it is done for future planning. Our two main dogs are Sammie and Balto. Sammie was on the property when we bought it and we think she is around 6-7 years old. Balto came next, he is 4.

Sammie and Balto resting on a hay bale.

We were told and confirmed by our vet that Sammie had be spayed. She wasn’t. She and Balto had an unplanned litter of 12 puppies. We were able to sell all the puppies; they are in high demand. Duke was one of those puppies. He came back to us when his owner died. We had planned to have him work the property with his parents but he and dad don’t get along. Two 100 lbs. dogs fighting is vicious. So at the moment, Duke is a spoiled house pet.

Duke napping in the recliner.

Our latest, we have only had a week. They are the puppies, Sugar and Snowball. The older dogs train the puppies in an apprenticeship fashion that takes about two years. Sammie is showing signs of arthritis now. She is being treated by the vet for it. We hope to have the puppies fully trained before it is time for her to retire.

Sugar and Snowball

God’s Version of LGDs for Believers

God in his wisdom has provided a version of LGDs for his believers. It is the church. We, as brothers and sisters in Christ, are LGDs for one another. The coyote, Satan, looks for the stray vulnerable sheep. He is not going to spend his energy going after the well-protected sheep if there are easier ones to pick off. Sheep become vulnerable when they are alone. Sheep are social herd animals that need each other. God calls us sheep. We are the same way. Satan is waiting and watching ready to devour those who become isolated. They are alone and don’t have the protection that other believers can give them. They are defenseless like sheep.
 
I know what some of you are thinking because I have had the same thoughts myself. I don’t need to go to church to have a relationship with God. I’m fine with me and God. Or, the church is full of hypocrites. I don’t like the music, the seats, the preaching or a hundred other things. There is no perfect church this side of heaven. There will always be some sort of issue. The church is made up of imperfect people coming together to worship God.
 
In many congregations, the pastor is called the shepherd of his flock. We as members are to be the LGDs for each other. There are times that we need to be as fierce in prayer for each other as the Great Pyrenees would be to protect their flock from a coyote.
 
If you don’t have a local body of believers, a church, that you belong to, you need one! Find a church and get involved. It’s won’t be perfect and there will be issues but you need it. And they need you.

Comments

 
Finding a church can be hard. If you need some tips on how to go about doing this let me know in the comments section. I would love to hear how you have been an LGD for someone or how someone has done this for you.

Spring has come to South Texas

This has been a strange winter. We had a record low of 19 degrees in December and a high of 91 degrees in February. It has not been unusual for me to wear a sweatshirt, a short-sleeved shirt, and a tank top all in one week. We have had some rain but not a lot. We have had few freezes and my gardener friends are debating whether they should start their gardens early. Our average last freeze is March 15th.

The calendar may say that there are a few weeks before spring but it is appearing. Some of the trees are starting to bud. We have a variety of oak called the Live Oak. It keeps its leaves all winter and drops them as it buds out with new leaves. It appears to be an evergreen but it is not. It will drop so much pollen that cars have a yellow layer on them. They are beautiful trees and we have tons of them on our property.

Sally and Andy Wasowski, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

 

 

One of my favorites that bloom this time of year is the Mountain Laurel. It is a small, slow-growing tree that packs a fragrant punch. The purple blooms smell like grape Kool-aid. We don’t have any but we want a lot of them because they are so beautiful. 

It is still too early for fields of the flower that we are famous for, but the Texas Blue Bonnets have started. This photo was from a field on my road two years ago.   This is my neighbor’s field last year.  More photos to come in the next few months. Enjoy!