New Blog

I’ve decided to start a new blog that will be dedicated to stories about my dog-sitting adventures. This site will be reserved for more personal posts about what’s going on in my life … or in my head. (I know…that sounds scary!)

Click here to get to my new blog.

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My Path, Part 4

Or:  What I Want for Christmas

As I have grown closer to God this year, I have made a point of focusing on Jesus more than ever during this holiday season. One way I’ve done that is through devotional series that delve into various aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry. One such series that I recently completed was an in-depth look at Jesus’ prayer in John 17. It is often referred to as His High Priestly Prayer, and it is one He prayed for his disciples and everyone else who would believe on Him in the future. That includes us who believe on Him now.

During that study, I learned something that I had not grasped before, although I have read John 17 many times. Verse 23 says, “I in them and You in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me.” In other words, God the Father loves us (mere mortals, prone to sin) AS MUCH AS He loves Jesus Christ. Wow! Let that sink in for a minute. It took me a while to absorb that truth. God loves us in the same way and with the same intensity that He loves Jesus. It sounds too good to be true!

None of us are deserving of that depth of love. I know I’m certainly not worthy. In recent years, I’ve really struggled with the concept of God’s Fatherly love toward me, so the truth of John 17:23, the realization of the depth of His love toward even me, is the greatest Christmas gift I’ve ever received.

My wish for Christmas is that everyone who reads this blog post will be overwhelmed with the intensity of God’s love for you and share that love with everyone you meet.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

My Path, Part 3

As I’ve said in this series of posts, the events of 2017 have brought me closer to God than ever before. In writing this series, I’ve been able to solidify the things I’ve learned and share them with others. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I am, by no means, perfect. I’ve come to realize that I’m not even a good person. I fail daily.

Just this past week, I demonstrated to myself and to others how short I come to God’s standard. I responded to a situation in a decidedly unchristianlike way. I spoke rashly and wickedly. In response to God’s conviction on my heart, I acknowledged how unworthy I am; and I began to wonder if I should even continue writing this blog. How can I tell others about things of God when I don’t measure up. Then, I turned to His Word and read these words in Philippians 3:12-14:

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Bretheren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth onto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

The above is from the KJV since that is the version I grew up with and memorized. Here is the Suzanne paraphrase:

I have not reached my goal, nor am I perfect, but I follow Christ Jesus who has obtained me so that I may also obtain the goal. I have not obtained it yet, but the one thing I am doing is putting the past aside and striving toward the goal of glorifying God in Christ Jesus.

As I said in the first post of this series, this is MY path. What I’m sharing here is to myself first. I know I’m not perfect, and I’m not looking for people to follow me. I’m being open and honest about my struggles and the lessons I learn in hopes that others may learn from me and avoid some of the pitfalls I’ve experienced.

My Path, Part 2

Or: What I Learned from Homelessness

If you’ve been keeping up with me in person, on Facebook, or here on my blog for any time at all, you know that this summer was a season of change for me. July 15 marked the end of my 12-year marriage, which was a long time coming. Even though it was what I wanted by that point, it was still an emotionally difficult thing to go through.

Since hindsight is 20/20, as they say, there are things I would do differently if I could have a do-over, but the end result was that I got what I negotiated for. Sadly, I didn’t do myself any favors in my negotiations. I didn’t bother getting an attorney for myself since I knew that would drag things out, and I was ready for it all to just be over. So, when it was all said and done, I ended up not having enough resources to get a place for me and Sam to live.

Thankfully, a family in our church was gracious enough to allow us to live in their guest house for a couple weeks while we figured out what we could do and where we could go. Sam was able to find a place to go at the end of those two weeks, which was a great relief to me. By the grace of God, my dog sitting business was ramping up right at that time, and I had jobs for a while that provided me with housing.

What I told very few people at the time was that I ended up living in my car for about five weeks. The only people I told were the ones who pointedly asked me where I was staying. It’s not that I was embarrassed or ashamed. The thing is I know that my life is 100% my responsibility, not anyone else’s. I didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me or as though it was in any way their problem to fix.

Believe it or not, during those five weeks I was the happiest I had been in a very long time. I had my freedom and God, and I didn’t need much else. Lying in the back seat of my Subaru wagon, while parked in the Walmart parking lot at night, I did a lot of praying and a lot of reading of God’s Word. I became closer to God than I had ever been; and I felt like, with God on my side, I could take on the world and win. Although it seemed like a bad situation, I faced it like an adventure, knowing that I was right where God wanted me to be at that time.

I learned that even though I don’t always have the best plans, God is still always with me: protecting me, leading me, providing for me, loving me. I also learned that even though I may be right in the middle of God’s will for my life, some people just won’t understand. Friends who had only the best intentions could very well have discouraged me if I had listened to them instead of God’s Word. Although I’m not ready to go back to living in my car anytime soon, I would not hesitate to do it again if that were the only way to keep the sweet relationship that was formed between me and God during that time.

My Path

The following paragraph was in one of my devotional plans this morning:

 

I can’t be worried about what everyone else wants me to be and still become what you, my Father God, created me to be. You’ve been waiting for me to look to you for my next step.

As I read it, I mentally nodded in agreement and went on. After a conversation with a well-meaning friend later in the day, I had to go back and read it again and consider what it was saying to ME in that moment.

In the past several months, I’ve made some decisions that I know were not popular with some of my friends, but I have been closer to God than ever and the happiest I’ve been in a long time. A few times, I’ve given into the advice of people who thought they knew best for me, yet without exception, each time I lost a little of my joy and felt alienated from God until I got back on the path He set for me.

That path is MY path, not anyone else’s, and I don’t expect anyone else to join me on it. Not everyone is cut out for this path. Sometimes I wonder if I am, even.

This month, I intend to write a series of posts about this path I’m on, things I’ve learned (or am still learning), ways I’ve changed, and what the future holds. As you read them, please keep in mind that I’m talking about MY path, not anyone else’s. I’m not implying that anyone else should be learning the same things I am or changing in the same ways. I just don’t want to be a sponge that soaks up all God is teaching me without sharing it with others.

I Love My Job!

I love my job. How many people can truly say that? I love the fact that I’m self-employed and have the freedom to accept or reject any job offer. When I am at a dog-sitting assignment, I always spend some time just sitting there marvelling at this great life I am blessed to have. What I love the most about it is the animals I care for….

From the ole stinker to the little snugglebugs 

to my bedtime buddy  to my favorite boxer  

to the yappy little ones  to the big sweetheart  

to the gorgeous retrievers    

to the occassional cat or other type of animal.

 .        

I thank God every day for blessing me with my dream job that feels nothing like work!

Recent Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. That’s because my mind has been occupied with so many things at one time that it’s been hard to get it to concentrate on one thing long enough to get an article written. I have a journal where I write my deepest thoughts and feelings to try to make sense of the chaos going on around me and inside my own head. Since, I have managed to reign my brain in enough to write in my journal every day, I am just going to share a recent journal entry here today.

For the last few years, I have lived with persistent worry and dread because of all the stress and upheavals in my life. I had made it a habit that was hard to break.

Yesterday, while driving to meet a new client, my brain instinctively went into worry mode. As it was searching for something to worry about, I realized I had no need for worry. I couldn’t think of any reason to worry, be sad, or feel dread. It was such a liberating feeling.

It wasn’t a fabricated feeling or one of my own design. It was from God. A while back, I was so overwhelmed with my problems that I didn’t know what to do. As I Peter 5:7 says, I cast it all on God. I told Him they were His problems to handle because I couldn’t fix them myself. In return, He has shown Himself faithful, over and over, in providing for me, protecting me, and leading me in His way; and He has given me a joy unspeakable and a peace that passes understanding.

I’m an independent, stubborn person, and giving all control over to someone else, even God, was a difficult thing to do. However, I’m so glad I did because that one decision has opened up a whole new way of life for me.

Goodbye to the Gentle Giant

One of my all-time favorites passed away today — Don Williams. His silky smooth voice was a balm to my broken heart many, many times; and today nothing can console me but his music.

Wednesday, I took a trip to eastern Kentucky where I was elated to hear a couple of his songs on the radio. Radio station WMDJ in Martin, KY, plays music you just don’t hear anywhere else any more. As I was listening to “Till the Rivers All Run Dry,” I was reveling in his voice and thinking about how no one else sounds like him, never knowing that two days later he would be gone.

In memory and deepest respect of Don Williams, here is a playlist of his music that I compiled on YouTube:

Labor Day Weekend

For these Schnauzers, this weekend has been about NOT laboring. These are the dogs I’m dog sitting, and they love to snooze and snuggle! One of the downsides of dog sitting is not having much human interaction, but with cuties like these to snuggle up with, who needs people?

I, on the other hand, have worked this weekend. I fulfilled two cookie orders of two dozen each. The first order was for a Winnie-the-Pooh-themed first birthday party on Saturday. (Pictured on the right.)

The second order was decorated in funky designs with the pastel colors I bought for the Winnie the Pooh cookies. (Pictured on the left.)

If you are interested in ordering cookies for an event (or just because), feel free to contact me through my Facebook page, Sunshine Cookies and Muffins. 

Car Opportunities

Have you ever been around those annoying people who try to assure you that there are no “problems,” but only “opportunities”? In an effort to see my life in as positive a light as possible, I’m going to tell you about two car “opportunities” that arose today. 

The first one had to do with my brakes. As I pulled up to a stop sign this morning, the brake pedal went all the way to the floor before my car started slowing down at all. That started a panic attack, but thankfully, it stopped just fine. I began checking on prices for new brakes when I remembered that when I bought the car, there was an old, almost-empty bottle of brake fluid in the spare tire compartment. So, I got a new bottle of brake fluid and added it, and the brakes started working properly again. I made sure to thank God that it was an easy (and inexpensive) fix! Of course, I will need to eventually fix whatever is causing the leak, but since I’ve driven over 10,000 miles in the last 4 months, it must not be leaking badly…yet. 

The second “opportunity” had to do with the starter. If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you may remember that on my epic trip to Colorado in May the starter went out on the first day. For the entire trip, I had to either park on an incline or be pushed by Sam and Seth. (Thank God for manual transmissions!) For the past couple weeks, the starter has been a little fickle. Sometimes it will start up right away, and sometimes it needs a little coaxing. Then, tonight, in the Kroger parking lot, it decided to not start at all. I tried for probably twenty minutes before I called someone to come help me. On the phone, I was trying to appear not to be completely helpless, so I said I could push-start it myself if I wasn’t afraid of hitting the buggy corral directly in front of me.
When I got off the phone, I surveyed the area around me and decided I would have plenty of room if I pushed the car back some first. So, that’s what I did. I pushed the car back until I knew I would have enough room to steer past the buggy corral. Then, I pushed the car forward until it picked up a good amount of speed, hopped in the driver’s seat, shoved it in gear, and started the car. All. By. My. Self. So, I called my friend back and said, “From now on, you have to call me Wonder Woman.”

Now, I’m feeling confident and competent to meet whatever “opportunity” life throws at me next.