Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Good, Bad and Ugly

Two weeks ago today, Blaine and I made the 4 hour journey to "adopt" a new puppy, Daisy.  Our hearts were overjoyed; filled with so much happiness to add this fur baby to our family.  In a short span of time, it became ever so clear that she was not the right dog for us and grief, loneliness and love had caused us to make decisions that ended in more pain and two broken hearts...

After Blaine returned from Mother's Day weekend in Spokane, I knew we needed to talk about Daisy and us and our lives.  Concerns had arisen, for me, over the weekend regarding her personality, her breed behavior and what was truly going to make her happy in life.  We had to be honest with ourselves plus accept that she just wasn't the right dog for us - (especially) for Blaine's calm, quiet personality mixed with her high strung, high energy personality.  Spending 24 hours a day with Daisy by Day 10 had shown me that she definitely wanted another dog in her life (we are not ready to have 2 dogs), her need to RUN and run and run and run (I'll address this in the blog post below) and seeing her leaning toward being a fabulous agility dog and it wasn't in our plan to be totally dog focused (our desire was to have a dog become part of our life/lifestyle) and she'd need to get into agility training and trials to keep her mind alert and interested....  I e-mailed back and forth with a local dog trainer and even she agreed with our decision that we should surrender Daisy back to the shelter, as it wasn't the right dog for us.  SO many tears this past week and so much heart ache - even as I continued to love her, train her and spend all my time with her knowing we'd make the long drive Friday afternoon/evening to take her back to Goldendale.

We're sharing our story in hopes of helping others who may be hurting (for whatever reason) and what can happen when life decisions are made from that perspective.  Not all decisions made are wrong, but decisions need to be weighed very carefully during this sensitive time in one's life.  And yes, I have Blaine's permission to share everything included here.

THE GOOD

  • Spending 24 hours per day for two solid weeks caring for, training and living with Daisy puppy enabled God to show my that I truly can do HARD THINGS.  I am stronger than I think I am.
  • Daisy and I bonded wonderfully. She knew my voice instantly.  Yes, she was a puppy and acted out like a puppy - but she and I were a great pair together.
  • By the second week, Daisy really caught on to obedience training and learned: sit, lie down, off, out, leave it, drop it, wait, let's go - with a GOOD GIRL before or after and a small training treat.  Of course, she brought into our lives the usual puppy challenges and she was a naughty/mischievous girl too.  She learned the "game" of being naughty, obeying and then receiving a treat for responded with the correct appropriate behavior.  It is a tedious, long, and exhausting process with a puppy, but good, consistent training pays off in the long run having a well trained dog.
  • She was a lover and she wanted to be with her mommy all the time (this ends up being good and bad) I loved having her as my companion, but being with me was a bit obsessive on her part too.
  • She brought new life and new perspective in seeing the world through puppy eyes
  • All the running I did with her - inside and outside the house - caused me to lose 7 pounds (a definite benefit)
  • Blaine and I acknowledged his personality and mine.  He is calm and quiet.  He does not have a need for a dog nor alot of social interaction with others.  I like to engage with others, am more energetic and outgoing and I love having a dog in my life.  These are challenges we need to work through together and God will guide us and help us unfold our story in the future.  We have no answers to what it shall look like, but are committed to one another and our desire to make life joy-filled for us both.
THE BAD
  • I did not listen to "my gut feeling" nor "the voice in my head" that said there were a number of red flags to consider....  In dealing with Dogs of the Gorge shelter in Goldendale, WA, you are instructed to send an e-mail or call the volunteer director's phone number with inquiries and questions.  I made several e-mail inquiries (asking all the important questions about puppies, upbringing, personality, etc) and left messages asking questions, asking more questions, seeking answers and I received only a few replies, but never having my questions answered (1) that someone else was going to adopt Daisy, but ended up choosing her sister.  (2) When we faced a delay in getting Daisy, she replied that it was okay as some of her siblings were not adopted as expected (3)  She told us Daisy got a bath, her last shot and loved playing with her dog, Marley.  Were we still coming next weekend?  ***I told Blaine that I wasn't feeling confident about the director and the poor communication.  I couldn't get any answers from her and I was questioning whether this was really the right puppy for us.  Historically, people have let me down and I am not quick to trust other people.  Blaine, on the other hand, prefers to give people the benefit-of-the-doubt (perhaps she's really busy, she works full-time and runs the shelter, let's just get her - everything will be fine). Unfortunately, he kept reassuring me that everything would work out and I did not stick to what my gut feeling was and we moved forward in adopting Daisy.
  • We compromised on a previously made agreement between the two of us.  Blaine really didn't want to get another dog after Coco passed away (we had talked about this prior to her passing).  He wanted us to experience life together, just the two of us, for a season, and definitely not consider another dog before our 3 week road trip to Kansas/Indiana in 2017.  He wanted us to live life and be able to do/go wherever and not worry about a dog at home or with us.  And yet, when I told him that I'd found Daisy on Petfinder, Blaine knew that I missed Coco dog terribly and was really lonely, in addition to working through the grief from my Dad's passing (and many things associated with his passing), he saw her photo (and was smitten) and allowed everything else to fall away, because he wanted to make me "happy." Sometimes we do things in 'love' that causes even more hurt...
  • When we arrived at the shelter, 2 other adoptive families were already there and playing with the puppies, but no Daisy.  One of the Moms said that the director had put Daisy back in the kennel.  Okay.  We went inside, the director greeted us while working with another adoptive Mom and asked if we were there for Daisy.  Yes, we were.  She told us that Daisy had gotten nervous around the children, so she put her back in the kennel to be calm.  We went to her, she greeted us in love and she stole our hearts with her puppy kisses and wiggling excitement.  Yep, we should have really listened to what the director had said.... something had not been quite right with Daisy intermingled with the two other families and the children, but we didn't recall her comment until later.
  • In our adoption application, I indicated that we lived on a rental property, it was farm fenced on 3 sides and Daisy would always be on leash outside.  The director never once said anything about our fence situation.  I was surprised, but said it must be okay.  It quickly became apparent that I would need to break Daisy's spirit having her on leash always for she wanted to RUN and run like the wind.  And, if she was off leash she'd be 3 farms over in no time - and that's just not okay with us.  It's not who we are as pet owners.  She needed a good sized fenced area to be able to really run!  That would not happen where we live now, we weren't going to pay to fence in someone else's property and we did not have plans to move in the near future.  There were a few times where Daisy and I ran like she really desired and I could see the pure joy and bliss on her face and how her eyes shined. UGH!
  • In our outings, it quickly became clear that Daisy loves dogs and wants to be around another dog all the time.  Her glee, her happiness was so apparent and another dog was not in our near future plans.  She loves people too - and where we live is very quiet; just Blaine and I.  No matter how much he and I loved her, it was evident that it wasn't going to be enough for Daisy. And our life wasn't going to change so that Daisy had the social environment she needed on a daily or even several days a week basis. Yes, I planned to walk her on a daily basis and we desired to integrate her into our lives - going everywhere with us - but not in the way she wanted to be.
  • Agility - oh yes!  The way Daisy moved, the way Daisy jumped and turned and quickly scaled things.  Here is one of those amazing agility dogs, frisbee champion dogs, a dog who always wants another adventure - but she'd found owners that didn't desire to change their lives to spend all their time involved with agility training and trialing....  She quickly became bored with all her toys; tired of doing the same activities over and over again.  She is so smart and needs constant challenge to her mind and body.  It wasn't difficult to observe and see this in her.
  • Daisy loves people!  Oh, how she loves people.  When we arrived at the shelter last night, the director said hello to Daisy.  Daisy's hair raised on her back, she barked at her and backed away from her.  In the time we had Daisy, she never exhibited this behavior with another person...
  • Blaine was feeling more and more like an "outsider" with Daisy and I.  Because Blaine worked all day and Daisy and I were together all the time, he struggled to feel like the three of us were all sharing life together.
  • After dealing with the director at the shelter when we returned Daisy (see below), she gave us a "blank check" with the full adoption fee being refunded to us (though I had only requested the $50 spay fee refunded, as our adoption contract stated the adoption fee was not refundable).  After all the e-mails, phone calls and stating my full name each time, she had no idea what my name was.  In fact, she didn't even know how much we had paid for our adoption fee.  She asked me.  *So many red flags!!!  So emotional and heart broken last night, Blaine decided to fill in his name on the check to save me having to deal with it.  When I asked about the check and he told me what he had done, I told him that I had already thought about the check - I was the one who did all the communicating, Daisy was my puppy, it was a financial gift given to me and putting my name on the check would enable me to go full circle with the whole ordeal and allow me a measure of closure, but that could not happen now as his name was already on the check.  Sometimes, when we try to help someone avoid pain, we make decisions that cause more pain.  There are situations where we cannot take away pain from someone we love, but must support them and allow them to go through the pain.  Now, I seek God's healing for something I cannot go through myself.

THE REALLY UGLY PART

    • The week prior to adopting Daisy, there was an update photo posted of two brothers still available for adoption and Daisy too.  In the fb post explanation, the director indicated that 4 puppies remained, but Daisy and Hunter were being adopted and Remy and Jaxson were still available and she reposted their puppy Petfinder photos in the comments.  She said that Remy and Hunter were in the picture and Jaxson was off playing with another dog.  However, the more I looked at the new photo and the puppy photos, I saw that she had misidentified one of the puppies.  It was Jaxson in the photo and Hunter was off playing.  When we arrived on Saturday, April 30th, to get Daisy, two other families were already at the shelter to adopt their puppies.  The puppies were all running around and I identified each one from their puppy photos - easily.  One woman was inside finalizing her adoption while a family with 2 children and grandma along played with the puppies and told us they were adopting the last 2 brothers.  Wow!  How wonderful!  The first woman left with her puppy and the Mom and Dad of the children were talking about what do we do now?  They told the director that she had just allowed the other woman to adopt one of their puppies.  The director told them that they were confused, these boys were Remy and Jaxson, but the Mom explained that Jaxson had a white ring that encircled his nose and part of his paws were white.  Their little boy had looked at the picture all week and was in love, but this little boy puppy didn't match the picture.  I finally said something to everyone.  The Mom was correct - I had noticed the director had misidentified two of the boy puppies in the photo she posted and it was Remy and Hunter who were now left for them to adopt...  The director then said that with 9 puppies how was she supposed to keep them all straight?  I looked at Blaine.  With people coming to adopt certain puppies, how do you NOT keep them all straight?  The family agonized over what to do and ended up taking the two boys, because each of their children was promised a puppy of their own... She told Blaine and I that the family would thank her a year from now and they'd be happy with the puppy they got and the mix up wouldn't even matter.
    • As the family went through the gate to their vehicle with their puppies, the director says to us, they are going to need a very firm hand with Remy; a very firm hand.  2 children and one of their puppies exhibits challenging behavior already?  Why wouldn't you say something to a family?  Why wouldn't you explain about the puppy's behavior challenges to make certain they were up to handling them?  Did you tell them prior to adopting Remy to them?  You already made a mistake with adopting one of the puppies they thought they were getting to someone else (who discovered that puppy was calmer than the original puppy she applied to adopt). *And, we discover that Remy gets returned (below).  Again, we should have seen the 'signs' that were all around us, but we were like - let's get Daisy out of here!
    • I sent the shelter director an explanatory e-mail and fb message regarding Daisy and the challenges we were facing and the reality of what Daisy really needed in her forever family.  No matter how much we loved her, we could never provide what Daisy truly needed and we needed to return her to the shelter per our contract and would do so on Friday evening.  She replied to my e-mail, said okay and that she was available after 4pm.  I told Blaine that I was amazed at such a simple and, what appeared to be, understanding response.  When we arrived at the shelter at 6:40pm (I had called enroute and left a message that traffic had slowed our journey and we wouldn't be there by 6 o'clock as we had hoped), she greeted us and then began CONFRONTING me regarding why we were returning Daisy.  I was completely caught off guard by the attack....  What was the problem?  She expects the adopter to do research regarding the breed?  Needs to run?  She's a beagle, so she's going to run.  Well, she's a terrier mix and yes, they do like to run.  I explained our fencing situation in our application and that she would always be on-leash outside, but she's not happy. I told her that I had clearly explained our fencing situation on our adoption contract and she had not brought up any concerns about it. She told me that is what puppy training is for.  She told me that I wasn't being fair to Daisy, wasn't giving her a chance.  I had only had her for 8 days, how could I know that she's not going to be a great dog for us?  Well, we've had her for 14 days and I spend 24 hours a day with her and I know Daisy very well.  I can tell you what she likes, how she will react, what she is scared of and how she will behave. I usually have a good sense of other people's personalities and the energy they give off and pretty good with animals too, especially dogs.  (And, at that moment I realized I had been correct in thinking something was really off with the director of this shelter and we never should have adopted Daisy in the first place.) Yes, Daisy is a lover and we love her so much - but she has needs that we cannot ever meet.  I was basically told that the problem was with me and not Daisy. The director told me that I should have done my homework.  I told her that I tried.  I had sent her several e-mails with questions that she never answered.  She told me that she always answers her e-mails.  I told her she didn't answer a single question I asked, because I asked about personality, traits, etc.  She said she only had the puppies for 2 weeks; got them at 8 weeks of age, so how could she know anything about their personalities.  That is not true, because Daisy was 14 weeks old when we adopted her and their vaccination records indicated 3/22 for first shot and they were listed on their fb page March 29 and we adopted her April 30th - and they had been at that shelter all that time.  I told her this was not our first dog, but our fourth.  It wasn't like I didn't know about puppies and training.  I also told her that we had already enrolled Daisy for puppy classes and when I knew that she might not be the right dog for us, I had contacted a local dog trainer, discussed Daisy and her needs and the trainer had agreed with us that we weren't the right owners and returning her to the shelter was probably the best thing to do.  Well, she beat me up mentally.  Really beat me up.  And then, she tells us that one of Daisy's brothers was returned too....(she was not happy!) And, it was Remy.  The two highest strung puppies of the litter were not well matched to their adoptive families.  Such a terrible experience....  
    IN CLOSING

    Through this wonderful and awful time in our life, the ending is what gets me the most.  The director asked us if we wanted to put Daisy in her kennel with her brother.  We said we could.  Remy was so excited to see us, but Daisy went right in, got a drink and never looked at us again.  We closed the door, handed the leash to the director and walked to our car.  She closed the shelter door behind us and headed to her truck.  I did not recall the scenario for some hours later when I told Blaine that I had this picture that had come into my mind of putting Daisy into the kennel with Remy.  Blaine had realized what unfolded immediately, but wasn't sure what to say to me.  14 days, 24 hours a day and in a moment, it was like we had never existed to Daisy.  She was "home."  Back with her brother and in the environment she knew with lots of dogs barking.  She never acknowledged us, or whined, or barked or even looked our way....   No goodbye.  Nothing.

    We are praying that Daisy finds a wonderful home.  Blaine and I are dealing with the pain of this experience and where we both fell short individually and as a couple.  We gave most of Daisy's belongings to the shelter director to go with Daisy to her new home, as this experience has left us with such broken hearts that we are not considering adding a new dog to our life in the near future anytime.  

    So much JOY.  So much SORROW.  So many lessons learned.  And through it all, God remains faithful to us in our successes and our failures.  He already knew our weaknesses and continued to love us through it all.  In the midst of being broken hearted, we still have much to be thankful for. Upon arriving home at midnight last night, we walked into the house and both remarked how peaceful it felt and we hadn't felt that peace for that past couple of weeks.  Now, to heal and live each day until we feel alive again.  We pray God's blessings upon each of you that reads this story.

    Friday, May 13, 2016

    The GIFT
























    Dear Dad ~ 

    Thank you for the gift.  She is a sweetie that stole our hearts.  She's a lover and yet knows when she's being naughty and mischievous, but does it anyway.  Reminds me of someone I knew all my life....you!

    She was born on my birthday, January 16, 2016
    She was born in Wenatchee, where you were born
    She's exactly the type of dog you wanted and it's one of the first things I said to Blaine when we met her in person, ."My Dad would love her!"

    DAISY

    I have wanted a Daisy dog for years.  It's been really difficult since Coco passed away in February.  She was an amazing family dog and member of my family.  Our life has felt empty since she left us.

    It was a long drive to get Daisy, but we were already smitten with her.  From the moment we met, she knew my voice.  I've never seen anything like it before neither had the other adoptive puppy parents.  The first few days together were amazing, but, by day 10 I knew that no matter how much Blaine and I loved her, it would never be enough for her. Behavior issues had arisen and I could sense she wasn't fully happy.  I had spent 24 hours a day with her, everyday, watching and observing and getting to know her.  She loves being around people and other dogs, but it's quiet where we live.  Yes, we could find doggie playdates, but that wouldn't happen on a daily basis. She needs to live with another dog and we're not ready to have two dogs living with us.  Daisy is so smart and is showing great talent for agility in her future. She will definitely benefit from agility classes and possibly being involved with agility trials, but that isn't our lifestyle and we didn't plan for our lives to be dog centered.  We desire to have a dog a part of our lives, but our plan was for a dog to be integrated into our activities/lifestyle. Because the yard isn't fenced for dogs at our rental house, she must be on a leash all times when outside.  She doesn't like it.  She wants to run and run and run.  I do my best to run like crazy with her in the yard and I have seen moments when we're really running and her face is total bliss and her eyes shine.  She needs a completely fenced yard where she can run and play without limitations.

    We contacted a dog trainer, in the area, and talked at length about Daisy and us.  I told her that we felt Daisy would never be completely happy with us, for we couldn't offer her the life she really wanted.  I told her that Blaine and I felt we needed to surrender her back to the shelter and give her the opportunity to have the best life possible.... considering Daisy's best interest.  The trainer agreed. 

    So, Tuesday, Day 11, I sent a note to the shelter director and explained everything and told her we would bring Daisy back to her on Friday evening.  And, my heart broke and the tears flowed all day long.  Blaine and I love this sweet girl, but she's not meant to be for us.  Daisy deserves so much more.

    In the late afternoon, God shared that I was preparing Daisy to be a gift to someone else's life in letting her go.  In the wee hours of the night, God shared that Daisy was a gift that you had chosen for me.  In my grief.  For my aching heart.  Bless your heart, Dad, that you wanted to give me a special gift.  However, you chose a gift that you loved and thought I'd love it too.  I did, but it became apparent fairly quickly that this Daisy was your Daisy and not my Daisy.  This wasn't the right dog for Blaine and I.  You chose a dog for us that was the dog you wanted.  While Blaine loves her too, he is a quiet and gentle person and Daisy's personality is extremely hyper and it's difficult for him to deal with her when she's in hyper mode.  For me, knowing that I can't love her enough to make her truly happy hurts my heart.  I began calling her Sweet Pea last weekend.  Yes, I use her Daisy name, but Sweet Pea became my coping mechanism knowing she wasn't really the right Daisy for me. And, Daisy herself has confirmed that she knows you.  We've talked to her about you, sending her to us, and she's talked to us - something she does not do for anything else...  Yep, it freaked us out too.  

    It's been a really difficult week for me, Dad.  So emotional, for my heart is breaking even more now than it was before.  By the time this letter is posted, we will be returning home without Daisy after our long journey back to Goldendale to return her (required by our adoption contract). In my head, I know it's the best decision for Daisy's life, but my heart aches something terrible. And, unbeknownst to me, Blaine prayed that we would receive a full refund of her adoption fee (even though our contract says it is not refundable) if this was God's plan for us to give up Daisy.  I sent an e-mail request that we receive the $50 spay refund, as we would not be the owners responsible to take care of that for Daisy.  The director of the shelter responded that she was refunding us the full adoption fee amount.  I told Blaine and then he told me about his prayer. Confirmation that we need to let her go.  It does help to know, but it still hurts.

    I do know that I've blessed Daisy's life, she's had a Mom and Dad that love her, and she has some good training in her now for her new family.  Sit, off, drop it, out, leave it, lie down, wait, let's go - are all commands she and I have been working on.  With a GOOD GIRL before or after, she's getting really good at responding correctly and behaving appropriately.  I know you've been watching and trying to convince me that it will work out with her.  And, when she's naughty or mischievous, I hear you laughing...  She is a really good dog, a wonderful dog - but she's not the right dog for us.

    I've been mad at you since God shared about Daisy and her being a gift from you.  But, the more Blaine and I have talked about the whole situation, we know that we have responsibility for what unfolded too.  There were some red flags prior to her adoption that we ignored.  And, with Coco's passing not long ago - we really shouldn't have considered a new dog for our lives.  It wasn't the right decision in hoping to have that empty ache filled.  Plus, Blaine and I had previously agreed no new dog before our road trip to Kansas next May.  But, I am learning that GRIEF is a huge thing to deal with in one's life and I've never dealt with it at this level before.  Still working through your passing last October and Coco dog in February.  Denise kept trying to tell me not to make any big decisions for, at least a year, but I just didn't listen.  And, instead of seeing Daisy as a connection to you, I should have taken a step back and realized that this was the dog you wanted to have.  She wasn't the right dog for me nor Blaine, but grief, and pain, and even love can blind us in decision making...  Thank you for showing me you love me, Dad, in your own way.  Please help Daisy find an amazingly wonderful home where she will truly be happy.

    I love you, Joanie


    Sunday, November 1, 2015

    I love you, Dad!


    Hi Dad!
    Tonight's the perfect time to send you a love letter, because I know you can see it shining brightly on my front porch with your new view from heaven...
    My heart aches that you're gone, but I'm so happy for you! You are healed and free and laughing with Jesus, Auntie Chris, Grandma and countless people you met along your journey here on earth.
    Thank you for the humbling privilege and honor of tending to your needs, spending countless hours together talking, singing, laughing and loving each other these past weeks, especially this week. Oh, how I miss you Dad. Oh, how I miss you.... 
    Your flame on earth burned out, but your flame for eternity is burning ever so bright and will never go out! heart emoticon
    I love you so much Dad ~ Joanie 
    Errol "Dean" Steiner, August 15, 1941 - October 30, 2015

    *Posted on Halloween, but wanted to share here too.

    Sunday, September 27, 2015

    Invited to refocus my journey....

    "Finally, dear brothers, as I come to the end of this letter, I ask you to pray for us. Pray first that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and triumph wherever it goes, winning converts everywhere as it did when it came to you. Pray, too, that we will be saved out of the clutches of evil men, for not everyone loves the Lord.  But the Lord is faithful; He will make you strong and guard you from satanic attacks of every kind. And we trust the Lord that you are putting into practice the things we taught you, and that you always will. May the Lord bring you into an ever deeper understanding of the love of God and of the patience that comes from Christ."  2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (The Living Bible)

    In God's amazing loving kindness, He compassionately reached out to me over the past few weeks - and, especially this past week - to gently share with me that while I've been doing "good" for many months, was that good GOD or just earthly good?  Whoa.

    So now, I've begun letting go of things outside of home and I'm spending more time in prayer. This morning, I awoke at the end of a vivid dream and felt I should record it, for it was so powerful.  Upon finding an empty journal in the office (digging it out of a box of my things that have been packed away since we moved from our Burien house and catching the large spider in the box and releasing her outside), I was lead to the scripture above.  This passage contains so much content, wisdom and guidance.  God's Word is so amazingly living and active!  Rejoicing and giving thanks that God has spoken specifically to me.  I will continue to spend focused time with God in the coming days, weeks and months that He may fully reveal His wisdom, His path and His will for my life.

    Autumn has arrived and as this year's garden season winds down, I am overwhelmed with excitement to receive this incredible invitation from our precious Lord to come and sit with Him, grab a cup of hot tea, curl up on the couch, and BE with Him in the season ahead as He and I converse together, search His Word and sometimes just sit quietly with each other.  He's got exciting, amazing, wonderful, adventurous,  life-giving lessons to teach me.  And, I praise Him afresh for I am eager to learn...  

    Here I am, Lord, teach me.  I need Your Truth, Love and Grace anew.  I have much to learn still on this journey here on earth. I need to be equipped for this season and all the seasons ahead.  I need to be equipped to do the work that You have for me to do, Lord.  I need to be ready to love those You want me to love.  To be ready to share my life with those You want me to share with. To be ready to receive what you will have others give to me.  To be sensitive to Your leading.  To bloom wherever You plant me... In Jesus' precious Name ~ Amen

    And, as I am embarking on this journey with our amazing Lord, I'd like to invite you, dear reader, to ask God if He is extending a similar invitation to you this season.  Or perhaps He already has. You will be so blessed in accepting and joining Him for the adventure that awaits you!

    May the Lord bless you and keep you and provide for your every need!  

    God is good.  All the time.  


    Wednesday, April 8, 2015

    Lent journey: GO


    Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.
    I Corinthians 3:5-9 (The Message)

    Personal reflections:  Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19 tell us to GO into the world...  God has work for us to do.  This will look different for all of us.  Maybe you will be the next generation of a family doing what the family has always done (ie. farming) or maybe you will get married and raise your children in the same community you grew up in and your children will attend the same elementary, junior high and high school as their parents or maybe you will be one of our brave and honorable military men and women (with the possibility of sacrificing your life for our continued freedom), maybe you'll become a pastor or a priest and will devote your whole life to serving God or maybe you'll become a missionary and take God's Word to those who haven't heard it or maybe, like me, God will ask you to live a nomadic life; going to the place He shows you to go....  We all have places in the world God wants us to GO to.  He has given each of us specific gifts and talents and if we allow Him, He will work in and through our lives blessing and loving people as we journey on this earth, for God first loved us - enabling us to love others around us.  

    For me, it's easy to fall into old patterns - I'm the one doing the work, the one who wants to belong to a community of people and the one who wants to be "rooted" to a piece of land for the rest of my life - Me!  There is the problem.  BUT today, I am one who is awaking from what feels like a long slumber.....and seeing God as my focus, once again.  God has shown me through this Lenten photographic journey for 2015, He is fanning the embers back into a flame within my spirit and He has work for me to do.  Instead of focusing on what I want, He is showing me, again, that He desires to work through me to reach others - with Truth and Love; to be a vessel for His blessings to flow through.  I know there will be days when I get tripped up again (and again and likely again), but my hope and prayer is that my eyes, my heart, and my soul will be fully tuned into what God desires.  May He be my daily priority.  

    I am giving thanks, anew, today for the blessing of this place that we currently live in, for this community of beautiful people, for the opportunity to have a garden and to learn and grow continually....  May I serve You well here, Lord, and be blessed to bless others.

    God is so very good and I am blessed more than I could ask or imagine.  Joy overflowing!  

    Thank you, Lord, for loving me, healing me and blessing me to be Your servant.  Thank you for new eyes to see you more clearly.  I am indeed blessed to be Your child and honored to do Your work. 


    He is Risen.  He is Risen indeed.  Easter blessings today and in all your days ahead!


    Lent journey: REFUGE


    He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings, you will find refuge; 
    His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  Psalm 91:4 (NIV)

    Personal reflections:  When looking around in nature; observing, I see God's Word come alive more and more through His Creation.  Examples abound for us all to see.  There is something so endearing, so loving and comforting; a story told through this picture that makes me desire the same type of experience.....and this verse expresses God's invitation/promise for those who make Him their dwelling place; His love for us.

    Psalm 91 is a psalm that Blaine and I pray; a psalm of protection in this world.  I can imagine massive angel-like wings that our Heavenly Father opens for His children to run under where we are safe and secure in His refuge.  And yet, those "wings" can wrap around just me in a way that I know and feel God's love, specifically for me, and I am safe in His loving arms.  Such great comfort in knowing this about my Heavenly Father!  Oh, how I love Him.  And I know, He loves me...

    I encourage to read Psalm 91 for yourself and hear what the Lord tells us all.  

    The photo below is artwork created for Psalm 91 and is available from an artist through etsy.com.  The picture is a link to that particular etsy shop - you can click on it. (I don't know the artist, but thought this was an interesting display of most of this psalm - and it can be personalized for a specific person too).

    Praying we all live the reality of who God is.  Blessings to you and yours.  May you allow God to work through your life to bless others, even today.

    Lent journey: PROSPER



    Then the Lord Your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land.  The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as He delighted in your fathers, if you obey the Lord your God and keep His commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 30:9-10


    Personal reflections:  Powerful words....  A powerful promise!  

    When you read the words above, it's pretty simple.  Really, it is.  

    If it's simple, why is it so difficult for me to live these words out when I know what blessing God will bring to my life in doing so?  

    All I've got to do is..........  

    "Turn to the Lord Your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul."  

    Why can't I just do this?  Why do I struggle and fall short of doing what the Lord asks of me?  How do I live on the earth daily, but commit ALL of my heart and my soul to the Lord?  Plenty of people appear to be able to do this, but............

    The good news is the Lord knows my struggles.  He knows my weaknesses.  He knows my heart.  He knows every fiber of my being and He loves me.  Oh, how He loves me.  And, in the course of this messy life I live, He does bless the work of my hands and all the rest in the verses above - but there is still heartache, loss, disappointment at times; even when it seems these things are stronger than joy, victory and prosperity. 

    Lately though, God is revealing to me that what may need adjustment in my life is my VISION; how I'm looking at my life, my journey and the world around me.  Perhaps I'm seeing a blurrier view of my life and journey and it's clear to God.  Maybe I'm focusing on certain things (negatives) instead of the others that are there too (positives).  So thankful a blog friend of mine stopped by to visit my blog today and left good words to chew on in my BREATH post.  Cleaning my glasses and removing the veil in front of my eyes may be just what I needed, as I continue to turn to the Lord my God with ALL my heart and with ALL my soul.  I am likely to see something very different indeed!

    Blessings to you, dear reader...  May you know the joy of the Lord, who is your strength.