Monday, February 27, 2012

A Tribute to Ali Girl

We found each other in the pet store adoption center in Fremont. As we looked at the dogs and puppies available for adoption, we spotted this black fur-ball in one of the little fenced in areas. Timid and scared, you had crawled under the small white blanket that had been for you to lie on. As Chris ran up and down the aisle with a crazy, high-spirited dog for consideration, the kids and I let ourselves into your pen and sat on the floor with you insisting that we had found our new family member. “We can love her back to life,” we said. You were about six months old, Sean was six, MacKenzie was four.
Tired old girl...

We filled out the papers, wrote the check, and brought you to your new home and yard. It didn’t take long before those eyes lit up and you were full of life  just like we knew would happen with a little love.

Growing up with the kids, your ever-watchful eye was on them, staying close as they played. You took it upon yourself to control the possum population in the yard by jumping up to the top of the 6’ fence, snag the taunting rodent, and show it who had the last “what now?!” We still talk about it today as the number of dead rodents reached well over 20 in the three years we were at that house. It’s one of Sean’s favorite stories to brag about. There is a special bond between you and Sean even though you definitely love the whole family.

You came with us to the new house in the mountains – with no fence – along with Bailey, the friend we got for you. As new adventures awaited you and your kids, you settled right into country life. Because we had no fenced yard, you got to sleep in the house every night. Hiking around the property, going for walks, catching snowballs and sticks, going for rides to the river or lake to swim were some of your favorites. You loved taking up part of the couch or laying in front of the fire on a cold winter’s day. Life for Ali Girl was good.

Shilo and Ali with another old friend, Freckles.
When we added Shilo to the family, you put up with this rambunctious pup until he wore you down and we caught you playing with him in the yard. Then, as he grew up, all three of you would give chase to the bears that came to tear up the garbage and later the chicken coop and turkey pens looking for a meal. Being part spaniel and part lab, your instincts to go after birds caused everybody a bit of grief as you all learned that killing “mommy’s birdies” was not in your best interest. Now, we see the chickens snuggling with you on the front porch to keep warm.

You have been an everyday part of our family for nearly 16 years now. You have bridged time in the lives of the kids from young children to young adults with children of their own. You have been a constant friendly face greeting those who have come to our home. But now, as the light dims in your eyes and you are barely able to walk on your own, it’s time to say our good-byes to our old friend. You have been a source of joy, frustration, and companionship during your stay with us. We cannot watch you suffer and yet the thought of you not being around is heartbreaking. When the tears dry and the sting of separation subside, we will miss you and remember you with a full heart.

Winter 2010/2011

Ali checking on Grayson while MacKenzie looks on.
 R.I.P. 1996 - FEBRUARY 27, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spoken - Part 4

What we say and how we say it are equally important. When my kids were young and I was teaching them a lesson in humility (or how to apologize with sincerity and not because they were being directed to) I would sometimes get a snippy, quick “sorry” response. I would then demonstrate the importance of the tone in their voice by yelling angrily at them “I love you!” to make a point. It didn’t feel very loving, sincere, heart-felt, or nice. They would laugh, knowing that I was right and it did matter.
Hubby & Jasper

I’ve tried for years to explain to my husband what I meant when I said that I felt like he’s “always mad” or “always yelling.” What I was really trying to say was that he carries a very harsh tone in his voice that even made his 45 pound dog recoil and slink up the stairs into hiding just talking about the weather. Then, along came my little 11 pound fur ball, Jasper, that hubby adores more than anything. Jasper will go right up into his face, pat his lips with a paw, and with a cute tilt of his head say, “Dad, you’ve got that tone again – please stop.” Jasper has succeeded in doing what I was never able to do. It melts my husband’s heart and he now realizes how often he does it. Things are changing (thank you, Jesus!) because God sent an angel in the form a little black, curly-haired dog.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. - Colossians 4:6 NIV

God has the whole universe at his disposal to use to speak to us. We have our words, our tone, our attitude, and our actions. Are we using the tools we have to create an atmosphere that the Holy Spirit can live in and do His work? Or, are we speaking (even unintentionally with our tone) garbage and instability? We are spiritual beings – plain and simple. Our spirit picks up on things that we are not consciously aware of. If the Lord allowed us to see all of the activity going on around us in the unseen world, we would be paralyzed with fear.

Since we were made in His image, our words carry power as well. And, we will stand before a righteous God one day and be judged for every one of them.

Your homework: Ask the Lord to help you take the sharp edges off of your conversation. Ask Him to show you what grace looks like.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we praise and thank you for your patience and mercy toward us. So many times, as Jesus spoke from the cross, we “know not what we do.” Shine the light of your love and revelation in our lives as You continue to expose those things in us that are not of your nature and do not glorify You. Draw us ever closer to Your heart. Help us to listen more and consider carefully our words. In Jesus’ powerful name, Amen!

Wikipedia says: In the New Testament, the word translated as grace is the Greek word charis (Greek χάρις), pronounced khar'-ece, for which Strong's Concordance gives this definition; "Grace, the state of kindness and favor towards someone, often with a focus on a benefit given to the object." A Greek word that is related to charis is charisma (gracious gift). Both these words originated from another Greek word chairo (to rejoice, be glad, delighted).[6] In the Old Testament, the Hebrew term used is chen [7][8] ([4][5]חֵן), which is defined in Strong's as "favor, grace or charm; grace is the moral quality of kindness, displaying a favorable disposition".[9] In the King James translation, Chen is translated as "grace" 38 times, "favour" 26 times, twice as "gracious",[10] once as "pleasant",[11] and once as "precious".

Please feel free to share ~Branded Heart~ with your friends and family.
I love new friends and comments!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Spoken - Part 3

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, - James 1:19 NIV

After posting Part 2 of this series, I had to take more seriously what comes out of my mouth. I found that I had to bite my tongue and keep my mouth shut time and time again in the last few days. When I think about how I used to talk – I thought that, by comparison, I was doing pretty well. My use of degrading words, along with the sarcasm that I thought was hilarious and witty, has definitely been curbed. However, I still have a looong way to go. Not that I have abandoned a sense of humor, but I have taken to heart the potential for damage that comes out of my mouth. Some of the things that I thought were amusing before are no longer funny.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking,
which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. - Ephesians 5:4 NIV
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, - Ephesians 5:19 NIV

I have to ask:

What’s going on in the hearer’s life?
My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me. - Job 17:1 NIV

Are you blessing or cursing?
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. - Romans 12:14 NIV
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, - 1Peter 3:18 NIV

Speaking freedom or bondage?
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. - John 8:36 NIV

We can never assume that we know what kind of a day/week/month or year that the recipient of our words has had. Perhaps they are having the worst of days or are on a cloud of happiness. Rest assured that you have the power to either offer them a tall, cool drink of Living Water or knock the props right out from under them. I have known firsthand the affects of words on me. Some have taken years to recover from. Others, I cling to.

Your homework: Stop. Think. Then speak. Ask the Lord to show you how your words affect the people around you.

Lord God, we rejoice that, as your adopted sons and daughters, we can boldly come before your throne. We thank you and praise you for your mercy. Father, I ask that you cause us all to pause and check ourselves when we are about to speak things that do not come from You; that do not represent Your heart and character. Less of us, more of You.

Lord, we ask that you show us where we have hurt others and ask that you nullify those words spoken out of wrong motive. Begin a healing in the lives of those that we have affected either knowingly or unknowingly. Help us to be more aware of what and why we are about to speak. In Jesus precious name, Amen!

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Please feel free to share ~Branded Heart~ with your friends and family.
I love new friends and comments!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spoken – Part 2

With so much creative power instilled in words, the Bible (the inspired, written Word of God) has much to say about the spoken word and our tongues. We should all pause and think before we speak. Ask yourself:

What is the motive behind what you are about to say?

Are you encouraging or criticizing?

Building up or tearing down?

Speaking the truth in love (God’s truth, not our perception of truth) or speaking judgment and/or sarcasm and harshness?

The Bible says that out of the abundance of our heart the mouth speaks. What are you harboring in your heart?

Are you speaking through the flesh? (The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like… - Galations 5:19-21 NIV)

Or, are you filtering your speech through the fruits of the spirit? (But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. - Galations 5:22, 23 NIV)

Let there be light! God’s word shed light on the face of creation. His word brought order and beauty out of chaos. Light exposes the things that God has already given us, as well as the darkness that works around us. Are we speaking light and life into ourselves and those around us?

Your homework: Search your own heart, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to reveal what lies behind your words.

Lord God, search the deeper things in our lives and illuminate those dark places that lurk in the crevices of our mind and hearts. We invite you to expose those things in us that are not from you and do not line up with Your word and perfect will for our lives. Create in us a clean heart that our words may spring up from the well of purity and wholeness. We thank you that you are a merciful God – full of grace. All for Your glory! In Jesus’ precious name – Amen!

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Please feel free to share ~Branded Heart~ with your friends and family.
I love new friends and comments!