As I gaze out onto my backyard, I am struck by how ordinary the trees appear. Each have their own unique attributes but none stand out among the rest. They are more picturesque as a cluster of nondescript trees that fill the forest behind my house. In the same manner, we as humans are ordinary, but when gathered together, something extraordinary occurs.
Each Thursday at 2:00, I facilitate a Zoom meeting with women who want to read and reflect upon the Word of God. Each woman comes with their own insecurities and tidbits that they want to add to the discussion. The amazing thing is that once the hour begins until it is over, this particular collection of women are transformed into a spiritual cosmos that is nothing but ordinary.
We have been created to come together. Jesus assures us in Matthew 18:20 “When two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
So if you are feeling a little ordinary today, call on a friend or two and bring Jesus into the conversation. You will be amazed at what will happen next.
Vern barged through the doggy door with his muddy paws creating prints all over my clean wood floor. He jumped up and down in front of Bee and then made his way to the blanket in front of the fire. As annoying as it is to clean the mud from the floor, his behavior is predictable. Once my husband leaves the house, Vern jumps up on a chair and peers outside. Another typical behavior. And did I mention how he jumps on our bed and positions his body right smack in the middle, every night, without exception?
But as predictable as Vern’s behavior is, I only know him by what I observe. This is not so with our loving God. Psalm 139:1-3 states, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways.”
Our God knows everything about us and even with this knowledge, he still loves us. He knows our thoughts and the choices we are going to make. He discerns our attitudes and knows our hearts. And even with all this insight, he still loves us.
As I watch the muddy paw prints trail behind Vern, I still love him. Yes, it annoys me, but I can’t help but love our little Frenchie. But my love can’t be compared to how much God loves each of us in our worst moments. And if you need proof, think about how he allowed his only son, the one who he treasured above all, to come down from heaven and die the death that each of us deserved. Now that’s love.
Vern stood still and watched as the short humans played all around him. Their quick moves and rolling on the floor was different from the taller humans he was accustomed to. He seemed to enjoy this version of humans and particularly liked it when they would include him in the wrestling around game.
Vern wondered why they were so different. His regular humans appeared stiff and wouldn’t run and roll around like the smaller version. They didn’t care about exploring under tables and inside closets and weren’t as much fun to be around. The smaller sized humans seemed more curious about life and were constantly asking questions.
In the days of Jesus, children were not valued as they are today. They were considered a nuisance and were discouraged from asking questions or interrupting their parents. But Jesus looked at them in a totally different way. “But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16)
Jesus knew that children were inquisitive and hadn’t been tainted by the world like their grown up counterparts. He also knew they had eyes of faith that could actually understand the kingdom of God. Even today, if we are lucky enough to have contact with these little people, we should observe them carefully.
As for Vern, he has enjoyed the never ending movement and carefree attitudes of the little boys as they have taken over the house. If only we could all emulate the hearts and actions of the children God has placed in our lives.
Vern has never spoken a single word since we brought him home last March. He hasn’t shared his thoughts or yelled out when he thinks he has some incredible bits of knowledge. But even though he hasn’t spoken, he has communicated volumes through his body language. When Vern gets up on the chair and gazes out the window, I know he’s waiting for his human father to return. And when I see him draw close to the door, he’s telling us he wants to go for a walk.
In a similar manner, God doesn’t use his voice to speak to us. That’s why it’s important to listen for his wisdom through other means. So how do we hear him? By meditating on his word in the quietness of the day.
Lately, this has become extremely difficult. With the many voices of social media vying for our attention, we can be swayed to believe there is no need for God’s voice.
“Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:” (Proverbs 1:20-21)
When you have the opportunity to stop and tune into what God is trying to say, do so. Listen with your heart and try to apply his word to your life every chance you can.
Vern has taught me a lot in the last year. Watching my four legged friend make his way in this world has demonstrated how God works through quiet times. Without a vocalized word, Vern continues to confirm the value of unspoken wisdom found in silence .
How often do we miss out on the blessings of life because we have our sights on hopes that don’t materialize? So often, I get hung up on my own desires and miss out on the small gifts all around me. Today, it’s cold and raining outside. I could be bummed about the weather or I could look for the hidden blessings. So many reasons to be filled with joy…
Vern was filled with fear. He wasn’t sure what was going to happen once the door opened and we walked out. Would he be left alone? Would his human friends ever return?
Fear can overtake all of us. If we aren’t careful, a single thought can be magnified and swallow us up. Joseph of Arimathea felt fear when he knew he needed to go to Pilate and ask for the body of Jesus. It states in Mark 15:43, “Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.”
Joseph knew that if he went to Pilate, he was declaring his faith in Jesus. Given the other men on the council had just put Jesus to death, he was risking his position and his many relationships. The scriptures states he “took courage”. So when do we need courage? When we are afraid.
When was the last time you received a prompting by the Holy Spirit to do something and you felt fear rush through your body? It shouldn’t surprise you. But like Joseph, take courage and push through the fear and watch how God works.
As for Vern, other than rearranging the rug and pulling down some pillows on the floor, his fear was contained.
Vern just walked in with a distinct smell on his lips. He was spotted outside a couple of minutes ago doing his business, so it is best for everyone to keep their distance.
Just got back from the grocery store where everyone was wearing face masks and practicing social distancing. I appreciate the seriousness people are taking with the virus, but it still makes me sad living my life at a distance.
I miss the eye contact and the spontaneous hugs when running into someone you haven’t seen in months. How about the times when sadness overtakes you and a friend or loved one reaches over to hold your hand. Moments that were so common place are now memories.
People are created to be social. When I think of Jesus, I think of his touch. He began his ministry by touching a leper, unthinkable to the societal norm. Jesus didn’t stop there. Later, he healed a blind man by touching his eyes. And there was the time the woman, tormented by bleeding for twelve years, considered unclean, reached out to touch Jesus’ garment. Everyone was thinking he was going to rebuke her, but instead calls her daughter. And then there was the time he demonstrated his love for his disciples by washing their feet. Touching. Our God touched us and I believe we are meant to do the same.
There will be a day when we will touch relatives and friends again. But for now, I believe Jesus is calling us to touch the ones that live within common walls. As for Vern, he will get his hugs in a little bit. Until then, Bee can be his hug buddy.
Vern knew he had made a bad decision. The harsh rebuke clearly demonstrated that he had reacted in a way that was not acceptable. With head held low to the ground, the little dog scurried under the foot stool and scrunched into a ball. Maybe, here, covered by the flaps, no humans would see him. Maybe he could become invisible.
How often, when we make poor decisions do we want to hide away from the world? Sometimes, a deep sense of remorse for our actions causes us to want to flee. Peter, Jesus’ disciple knew this feeling of sorrow over his actions. Jesus clearly told him that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed twice. Peter, being his self-assured self, told Jesus that he would stand by his side, no matter what happened. (Mark 14:29-31)
As we all know, Peter did deny his relationship with Jesus. And what did Peter do? He wept and then fled. The moment of truth was like a mirror of his character, and it was too much to bear.
The cool part of the story comes when Jesus is raised from the dead, and his last personal conversation is with Peter. Jesus knew Peter felt remorse for his actions and desired to reassure him of his love. And like Peter, Jesus knows our unique needs and treats us accordingly.
In the same manner, after Vern had been under the stool for a couple of minutes, my husband sat down on the floor, took the scared pooch in his arms, pet his coat, and reminded him of his love.
My hands began to shake and I had to take a couple of deep breaths as I opened up the test results. Just like so many others, Covid has been creeping ever so closely and this time I believed I would be its next victim.
Once I realized that I had been in direct contact with someone who was sick, I quarantined myself. No tennis or going off my property. Instead, a good raking and removal of the leaves would be a good task to keep my mind occupied.
Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. Some can’t be seen while others are right in front of you. We have lived in the same house for thirty-six years and never have I been so thankful for our little piece of earth.
Thankfully, the word NEGATIVE popped up. Another blessing. What are you thankful for? Just take a moment and ponder your unique circumstances. You will be glad you did.
For thirty-two years, my life revolved around teaching children with disabilities. Some of these children were severely disabled, unable to talk, feed themselves, or walk. Others had emotional issues that interfered with their ability to focus on anything outside of their hostility. Many had autism while others had Downs Syndrome. Each child was unique and special. Laughter rang through the walls and in the most difficult circumstances tears flowed. I am forever thankful for this career that defined me for so long.
Once I retired, I decided to write and share my children’s books with all kinds of children. This picture was taken with a rambunctious group of first graders as I shared Jerry Barry: Living Healthy, and Seasons at the Bus Stop. Love it!