Friday, December 28, 2012

They All Have A Name!




This one got to me! I found a tv show called Pitbulls & Parolees on the Animal Channel recently. Because I am into prison ministry and animal rescue, this reality type show has become a regular program in my DVR schedule. It has both aspects of humanity which I am all about. Pitbulls and Parolees is people saving animals, second chances and parolees getting to see what animals suffer "behind bars". The parolees can do something about this sad situation because they are finally free.  I love what Tia does for people and animals by giving both a second chance!

Check it out for yourself http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/pitbulls-and-parolees

This past weekend I rescued a three pound chiwawa (sp?!) Ha Ha. Just before pulling into my parents home for a two day Christmas celebration, in front of our big Jeep appeared a very tiny dog with a huge (mega huge) rhinestone and aurora borealis encrusted collar. The cute dog was obviously not supposed to be in that road by itself. In horror, before jumping out of the still rolling Jeep I looked up in the sky and there were vultures on the rooftop just beyond this waif.

I crouched down and in my sweetest voice coaxed the baby into my arms. Honestly, I was sure that this was a Christmas gift sent to me from above! She was calm, comfortable in my arms and ready to be snuck into my parents condo. Alas, my parents would not allow her inside and since she had a few very active fleas on her head, we brought her to the Community Lost and Found where after I drilled the two boys behind the counter to make sure she would make it through the nite somewhere safely inside so we could find her owner - and if not, I could buy more time to convince my husband to take her home to our vet to check for a chip.

I checked back in before the end of the day and after hanging at the Lost and Found for an hour, suddenly the owner was found. The biggest blessing was that I got to meet Mercedes' mom and dad (I had already named her December!) They had no idea she had gotten out, had a chip but no id tag and promised after Christmas they would get her an id tag for that huge collar with the bling.

Ah - deep breath I had done my job! It was so fun to bless someone with saving their precious pet. In celebration of Mercedes (December) here is a video with a happy ending.

Save a pet today. 

A New Year's challenge: Get your indoor kitties collars with id even if you don't think their paw pads will ever hit terra firma, volunteer at your local animal shelter, inquire about donating bedding, food, or a loving temporary or permanent home to a pet - - - even if they aren't willing to wear a rhinestone studded collar or have a fancy name like Mercedes!

Happy New Year - oh and smiles are mandatory for viewing this one......

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Salty

Finally! I am back to my keyboard, allowing the thoughts to fly onto the page. I had been super duper busy since our move in August. Although I had time while I sat in a temporary apartment until our short sale purchase came through, I just did not "feel" like writing. Writer's block? No, not even that, as I had not attempted to write. I just decided to read instead.

One of the best features of our new home is an in ground pool. I have never owned a pool before. But, in our search for a new home, a pool was the first item on my wish list. I was so specific too. I wanted a saltwater pool, as I did believe the salt would be better for our skin, and easier to maintain.

Boy was I right on the first count but so very wrong on the second!! We inherited a green pool with dead frogs and an unknown frothy substance on the surface. While our short sale close date kept getting pushed back, the previous owner had shut off the pool pump. As a result, the pool looked and smelled like a toxic waste dump.

Pinch a Penny up the street offered to analyze the water and help us get the pool back to good health. However, just before taking on the task, my husband met the neighbor and was delighted to know she took care of pools as a part time business. And so, the battle began of shocking the pool, sucking out the debris and balancing the salt levels. No easy task even for a pro. The previous owner did something mysterious which drastically affected the salt levels.

Three months later, the prognosis is better. We can swim in the pool, but are still draining and adding water because the pool is just still too darn salty. The goal of the perfect number on the pool pump machine eludes us still three months after trying to get to "normal".

And so, as I always do, I thought of God and His Word and what He would say about saltiness. I Googled  'salty scriptures' and found a great site http://www.openbible.info/topics/salt The very first verse got my attention. Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet." Yesterday's directive from the pool technician, "You need to drain a foot from the pool again and refill it. There is still too much salt." And my response, "But the salt turns the grass a funny yellow color and I feel bad discoloring the neighbor's front yard." But the pool won out over being neighborly.

This morning I resignedly hooked up the blue rubber hose to the pool drain, dragged it to the end of the driveway and sighed as I watched the salty albeit clear (sigh) water travel down the road to form a (yes, you got it) salty puddle in my neighbor's driveway. Too much salt.

God's Word speaks of having much salt as a good trait and lacking salt problematic. Salt was and still is used as a preservative as well as so much more! I enjoyed watching the above YouTube and learned how to make salty nail art. Great for Christmas and any other glittery event in which I would like to don beautiful nails. 

Fun, yes, but I wanted to know more about what God's Word had to say about salt in regard to my character, my life, and my Christian walk.What type of "balance" of saltiness is "normal" in God's economy? As I pondered this, I allowed myself a bit of a trip back in time...

Having enjoyed many icy winters in New Jersey, I could not forget the big round bucket of salt that my dad would dive into with a shovel just after an icy event. He would scatter the salt on the front porch, stairs and walkway to the car. There was a method to his salting of the ice. He would wait until the sun peeked out just a bit, then those chunky salt pellets would perform magic it seemed. I remember the rug in the hallway would have a new design as the outline of our shoes would drip salty water onto the rug and our shoes would actually "draw" themselves onto the rug.

Those days, the salt was used for safety. It prevented us from a nasty fall. I also remember gargling with saltwater after getting my wisdom teeth out. Used in this way, the salt prevented disease from making its way into the places where teeth had been. 

Today, I don't dare make my hubby pasta without a heavy dose of salt in the water. The pasta would be bland just as potatoes without salt would be - well - blah.

This guy knows a thing or too about salt - and potatoes in the form of fries....
Good, huh? But God impressed upon me as He always does, when I think I am in control, Christina, , "What about the verse after the salt verse???"

Well, he didn't exactly say that, but led me to Matthew 5:14, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden."

Yes Lord. Of course. What good is salt if it has lost its flavor? What good is a light if I never turn on the switch? If I never let the glorious glow of my front porch light shine so that others may find me? 

If I do not share the light that God has given me to share with others, then I have wasted my saltiness and my life's purpose has no seasoning and I am well - blah - or like a cold french fry. And nobody wants to be a cold fry. It may be salty, but it has lost its appeal.

My salty experience yesterday with the pool technician had led me into this time today. My pool is drained. I now await the success or failure of the numbers on the pool computer. Too much or too little salt. That is the question. But God's directive to His children (that includes me)  in Matthew 5:13&14, one day my pool will be "normal" and I won't have to test its saltiness or lack thereof, for it will be maintained and kept at a "normal" level on its own.

I now offer a first to all of you. Homework! Yes, I am giving homework to you today. Read all of Matthew 5. And if you rolled your eyes and said no and decided to contact Preposterous above for some free fries, I won't judge you. I will take your disregard for homework with a grain of salt - or possibly go for a lap in my saltwater pool! No worries. Life is full of good choices!!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Where is the Love?



I really enjoyed my time on this website click here to see more videos and love Scripture.
Where is the Love? I had entered my season of listening (Psalm 37:7) a year or so ago, however, it wasn't until my breakthrough this past week that I started asking questions such as Where is the Love? I intend to keep it real in this post - to share what is on my heart today (no pun intended).

We know according to God's Word that God is love 1 John 1:8, that He has amazing love for me, for you and for all of creation.We also know so much more about love - - from God's perspective in the Bible. I found a webpage that summed up all the aspects of love that I had hoped to cover in this post. Check it out!

Words. More words. And many more words make a sentence. A sentence forms a paragraph. A paragraph fills a page. Pages and pages of words fill a book. Many books fill a bookcase. Many bookcases fill a library. Words.

I am fascinated by the fact that so many "Christians" use all the right words and write many books and fill lots of bookstores but leave out love. I am talking about God's love - the kind of love that leaves you speechless. The kind of love that changes you forever.

And so back to my season of listening. I hit a high note this week when I finally realized the power of silence. Okay, I admit I DVR'd Eat, Pray, Love recently. While I do not recommend or promote this movie, one scene stuck out in my mind and stayed there in the recesses of my brain. There was a scene in which Julia Roberts was in a retreat and came in contact with a girl that had to remain silent for a specified period of time. 

I took away from that scene the fact that I could apply that very same process in my season of listening. After all, James 1:19 states, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry," And so I heard more. I heard more because I spoke less and I let the other person speak. And I have to say that as a result, I noticed a lack of love, a greater portion of pride (in the selfish way), defensive behavior, and a deficiency of kindness and mercy in many who I came in contact with - - those I had had previous encounters with and did not see this lack of love in their character ever before.

And so, I searched for a solution. Clearly the solution I found in 1 Timothy 1: 5, "Whereas the object and purpose of our instruction and charge is love, which springs from a pure heart and a good (clear) conscience and sincere (unfeigned) faith." As He so faithfully does, God sat me down and gave me a good old-fashioned talking to - - (yes I am getting more real here).  

Christina, how can you display the Christ in you - hope of glory - if you do not live up to the name I gave you? I gave you My namesake because I have many tasks for you to do, to love many people, to love those creatures others plan to throw away. You must love those who preach love but show no mercy, to love those who take you and your gifts and talents for granted and manipulate you for more, only because they want what you have. Do more for Me because of Love. Do more because I first loved YOU 1 John 4:19 Love because when you were hurting and mistreated, I cam alongside you. And now because of that trial, you have heeded the call on your life to those truly in prison Hebrews 13:3

I sat speechless. I sat humbled with my head in my hands. God, you are right. I must love. I must show others the love in me that only comes from the perfect love which was hung on a Cross on Calvary.
Perfect love. The fountain in which I need to fill my cup. The endless watering hole of righteousness which will always lead me back to love.

I pray as you watch the following video, the Holy Spirit will pull off the blinders (2 Corinthians 4:4) and you will see clearly just what perfect love is. Once you understand what Jesus did for you - you will never again ask, "Where is the love?" For you will find it in God and realize it is to be shared with others - even if they show no love back.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love....

Friday, March 16, 2012

Losing Spiritual Weight

My husband and I are finishing the last three days of a three-week detoxification diet. It was rough going in the beginning. Coffee called my name. A glass of wine with dinner wooed me but was never purchased. A milkshake (but it's made with yogurt!) from Steak 'n Shake was not purchased. The "two-day detox headache" came and went.

Four days into the diet, both my husband and I rejoiced as one pound fell from each of our frames. Daily, we weighed in and miraculously we each lost one pound per day. As I sit now and blog this entry, I have lost 11 lbs! Hoorah. Did I need to lose weight? No, not to be healthy. But I did want to take a step back from foods I had made a habit. With the weight loss came a new appreciation for fruits, fruit juices, pineapple (two weeks ago I would have never craved a pineapple.)

Who knew celery with almond butter was a great idea for a snack? And then today, I realized in three days we will be challenged. The diet will be over. We will want to keep our weight off. For me, I enjoyed wearing those skinny jeans in the bottom of my drawer that I almost gave away. I reasoned this morning, It will soon be bikini weather. I like this slim new me!

And so did I consult God? No. I cracked open the Clean book (I highly recommend it sans the New Age mumbo jumbo.) This is the diet that enabled me to lose these previously impossible to lose 11 lbs. I learned all of the physical ways to keep that weight off. Adding all those fresh fruits and veggies to my diet was what I needed to maintain. What I put into my body was what I would become. Eat fatty foods = become fat. Common sense.

After putting that diet book down, I picked up my Bible. God presented me 2 Timothy 2:22. How does one lose spiritual weight? By not putting the right things into your life. Well, I reasoned, I want to be weighty in spiritual matters. I want to have a lot of God's Holy Spirit into my life.

And as God often comes alongside and whispers to my soul, He gently reminded me, Man cannot live by bread alone.....Matthew 4:4. I needed to eat more fruits and veggies in the spiritual sense as well (God's fruits and veggies in the form of prayer, fellowship, encouragement, love, forgiveness, servanthood.)

When I neglect to spend time in devotions and in the Word of God, I miss having a balanced meal that day. I ate the potatoes and left the meat on the plate. I might have lost a pound on the scale, but I didn't gain an ounce of wisdom and I may have even lost some spiritual weight that day.

Priorities. I lose spiritual weight when I participate in gossip. I lose spiritual weight when I make it all about me. I lose spiritual weight when I entertain thoughts that are not yet facts. I lose spiritual weight when I choose pleasure over a passion for the things of God.

How about you? It's okay to lose some weight. Physical poundage that is. But don't make it your priority. Cause it sure is hard to not eat carbs, dairy, anything with an ingredient list, any foods that cause inflammation (which are many) and others I am failing to list. This three week detox has been fabulous. But I am truly ready to place my coffee pot back on the counter.

How are you doing in the spiritual weight department? I don't know about you, but I plan on feasting on a great big meal of God! In between juicing and preparing chia seed and kale smoothies, I have had plenty of time to think about this weighty issue.

I choose God. I never want to lose spiritual weight. I want to be ready to block those punches the enemy will throw my way. I want to be like a Sumo wrestler for God! Now that I made you smile - go blend a smoothie and grab your Bible. Put on some spiritual weight today.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dressing Room Near Disaster

My husband was working for a few hours. After having been sick for a few days, I decided to head out for "just a few minutes" of shopping. He wouldn't miss me. I would be fine even though I still wasn't feeling great. The dishes in the sink would be washed in short order once I got back After all, I had to find that perfect dress for those two events in June. Time's wasting and I need to find that dress. Against better judgment, I entered the store.

I regrettted my decision to head out shortly after entering the shop door. Even though I was still wearing my sunglasses because I had a bad headache, the big picture window in the boutique with the sun streaming in really hurt my eyes. Usually, the 80's flashback music cheered me, along with the promise of an adventure in finding vintage bargains and famous labels galore. This time, I felt queasy as I mechanically did my tour of the little store. I was not having clarity of mind and able to focus on everything. I felt hot and crowded. Not my usual self.

As I tried to make my adventure work, I found some items to try on and headed to the dressing room. There is only one and it is always full. This time was no exception. I usually head to the ladies room to try on my finds (they don't mind) when the single dressing room in the store is busy. I had just put on a pretty cornflower blue sundress and as I headed out the restroom door to the full length mirror, an elderly woman approached and asked if she could please use the restroom as she was in urgent need. Of course, I removed all my items and stood there waiting in sweat socks holding my basket with my clothes. I placed my wallet and glasses on a side table and got distracted looking at the "returns rack." A Fila tennis dress for $16 caught my eye. I picked it up, stashed it in my basket and looked up to as the woman left the restroom.

I headed back in and finished trying everything on. Nothing fit. But that was not the problem. I looked in my basket. No wallet or glasses. I looked on the sink. No wallet or glasses. I hastily fled the room and looked on the side table. No wallet or glasses. I became panicked and left my basket and ran back in the bathroom just to make sure I hadn't knocked them to the floor. To no avail, my wallet and glasses were gone.

I ran to the front of the store, not caring what anyone thought. On my way up the aisle, a lady asked me if I was okay. I told her, "Someone took my wallet." Critically, (and it could not have been more than a few seconds), I looked at her and decided, You probably have my wallet and glasses. You probably stole them. But I had no time to waste. As soon as I arrived at the cashier desk, the pretty young cashier told me, "We have your wallet and glasses." Deep breath. Sigh. The adrenaline pumped through me as I realized my headache was now of migraine proportions. Relief flooded through me.

This wonderfully sweet Latin customer then shared that she had seen my wallet and glasses on that side table just minutes before. She took both to the cashier but on her way asked someone who was standing near the side table getting ready to use the dressing room if the items were hers. She was told Yes. In her wisdom, this woman, having looked inside my wallet saw money and a credit card. So she asked the lady for identification. The lady fled the store. Quickly. Hurriedly. Gone in seconds. She had abandoned the items in her basket and made  her way hastily out the door. Guilty. Dishonest. She was on the run.

And so I was handed back my wallet and glasses. I hugged that precious angel and thanked her profusely, for only my credit card and money was in my wallet, but my house key as well. This angel told me not too long ago in Macy's she had been in a similar situation in which her husband told her to ask for identification before giving a wallet back to someone. This person showed identification and so the wallet was returned to the rightful owner. She had listened to her husband and learned. She shared that if her husband had not taught her that, she would have just trusted the person and given the wallet back to her. I was blessed as a result.

Just before thanking her one last time before saying goodbye, I told her that she was there in that store to help me today. She said, "God had me here because He knew you needed me." Ahhh...I just want to sit and revel in God's protection. In His caring love. I was inspired and encouraged to know that God's people - His angels are still roaming this earth. They are being used as reminders that in this world of evil there is still good. And that not until the day when Jesus returns for His people will the Good stop doing for others as my angel did for me today.

And lastly, I have to repent. I had looked into the eyes of another kind woman and declared her guilty without proof. I had run to the front of that store trusting no one. Everyone I looked at could have had my wallet was the message my brain was speaking to me. I had no way of knowing who had taken it at that moment. And yet I condemned every person even though no one was guilty. The evil one had left the store because God had one of His agents there. God's presence dispelled the darkness today.

 I was sorry that my heart and my mind were so quick to judge the innocent, to point the finger and decide Guilty with no cause. I was also sorry to not know who that guilty person was who was ready to take that which was mine. I would have looked into her eyes and forgiven her. Not because she would ask for my forgiveness, but because she did not have and was so ready to take. I would have given to her not my money, but my forgiveness. But she left because she chose darkness instead of light. That same light which had hurt my eyes and my head was the same light this woman rejected because it hurt her soul. I resolved to pray for her.

As I am Navigating Through Life I pray my journey leads me closer to having the mind of Christ, and not man, to be more aware of the needs of others, and to always give a person the benefit of the doubt unless God gives me the discernment to think otherwise. Oh - and I pray I can be the one who turns in the wallet and sunglasses next time. Not to just get a hug - but to share God's love with others who may be having a hard day or even just a headache.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Anonymous

"They may see the good you do as self-serving,
Continue to do good.
They may see your generosity as grandstanding,
Continue to be generous.
They may see your warm and caring nature as a weakness.
Continue to be warm and caring.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It never was between you and them anyway."
-Anonymous

Anonymous. A beautiful word. If one uses it during the appropriate situation. Allow me to explain.

Have you ever received a beautifully hand-written note of encouragement in your mailbox? One which caused an ear-to-ear smile? Your smile was temporarily interrupted as you realized the sender was anonymous? Then after re-reading this precious note and dwelling in the curiousity zone for a moment, you shed a tear because someone cared! It didn't matter who sent it. All that mattered was that someone took time to bless you.

I have never received such a surprise in my mailbox. However, I have sent many. Anonymously. And so, dwelling on this topic of anonymity today, I decided to share the above poem. I had come across this encouragement in a magazine. I had clipped it out and stuffed it "who knows where?" The other day, this little 2"x2" clipped poem appeared on my kitchen counter. No idea how it appeared on my kitchen counter. My husband told me he did not put it there. And so...this poem anonymously re-entered my world. God's timing is always perfect!

The last few weeks I had been struggling with difficult personalities. Love them. Just love them. Listen more. Speak less. Pray a lot more! was the mantra God's Holy Spirit clearly had been infusing into my brainwaves as several women from different sects of my life challenged my ethos.

See, I had been trying to do good deeds in silence. In humility. In obedience to God's calling, to God's gifting to me of talents that He commanded me to share with others. Those talents and gifts were to be done in such a way that it would be easy Matthew 11:30. These tasks would not be done with fanfare but in the fear and reverence of my Lord Jesus (which is always orderly and done with the right heart.)

Not that I was a lone ranger by any means, but I did not ask for help. I did not involve others. However, others decided to get involved. They decided that their way was better than mine. They delegated themselves to take up the tasks that had been bestowed upon me. To share their opinions unasked. To do a better job than which the agent (that would be me) of the God of this Universe had chosen.

Granted, in each situation the respective person did not hide their power play nor respect the words I shared to inform her that I was fine and that I would let her know if I needed her help. And when plans were shanghied and chaos loomed on the horizon, I did not judge her or critique her performance. I did not try and save the day, I just watched and waited as the plates which had been taken from my hands spun in the air. She had each plate spinning high above her head. I watched the plates spin majestically in the air and patiently stood by. However, with resignation and sadness, because I knew soon enough that I would have to pick up the pieces.

Sure enough, each plate came crashing down and loudly crashed onto the earth. Crash. Crack. Shards of something that had not been given to another to be spun.

And in each case, I took charge and restarted that which I had begun. I picked up the pieces carefully in order to avoid a cut - in this case, in order to avoid hurting another's ego, another's pride, another's denial of wrongdoing. As an anonymous author pens a poem, I gave a gift. I showed love and kindness and not blame or I told you so.

And then again pondered the above poem. Why does someone remain anonymous when doing something good for God? And then this poem reminded me. The last line was the most important line in the entire poem.

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It never was between you and them anyway."
-Anonymous

Oh Lord Jesus, help me to not always need to defend myself. To not stand up on my pillar of pride and announce myself to others. Help me God, to just keep doing what I have been doing, and to know that this race of life is one to be run with perserverance. Help me to forgive those that judge me but yet do not even know me. Help me to do the anonymous things to bless others. Show me how to live for You. Help me God, to be Anonymous for You.

"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass - it's about learning to dance in the rain." - Anonymous

Help us all to dance Lord, this side of Heaven and on into Eternity with you! - In Jesus's Name I pray. Amen.