Heads or Tails with Jean Harrison

After joining a group of women at church in doing an online devotional called "Good Morning Girls", where the women take a passage of Scripture and "S.O.A.P." it (Scripture-Observation-Application-Prayer) Jean found herself thinking through Scripture and it's application to life in her walks with her new puppy, Buddy. Here are some of her musings...

Shaking, Panicky, and Frightened

 We had a recent episode at our house that quite surprised me.  Just Ben, Buddy, and I were at home.  The washing machine was operating upstairs and making a racket.  I was sitting downstairs typing a story on my IPad.  Suddenly, Buddy wants to crawl in my lap and I push him off.  He's no lightweight anymore at 30+ lbs.  So I end up relenting and he crawls up on me and is shaking like mad.  So I'm definitely freaked and wondering what on earth is wrong with him.  Is it the noisy washing machine?  I'm asking these questions out loud and Ben says "I hear a chirp".  Really?  I don't hear a chirp with all the noise upstairs.  Again, Ben says "yeah I hear a chirp".  Now that is not welcome news.  Our downstairs smoke alarm has been a great, great source of irritation since we moved into this townhouse.  It will go off at the slightest provocation and Brian has threatened to take a hammer to it more than once.

   Ben finishes his breakfast and now he gets to hold the dog while I go all around the house, upstairs and downstairs to track down "the chirp".  I stand below the downstairs alarm.  Nothing!  I go upstairs and listen.  Nothing!  Cannot hear the stupid chirp.  Buddy is still shaking to beat the band :(

   Finally, Ben says "maybe it's in the basement".   I'm thinking "no way"!  So I'm down in the basement now listening and looking all over the ceiling area.  Yessiree....a soft chirp going on down in the basement.  I finally see the alarm at the foot of the stairs.  A humbling moment here.........I have overlooked the basement alarm all these years when replacing the batteries.  My eyes have gone right past this alarm for eight years and I wasn't really conscious of it being there.  A really "duh" moment!

   Okay, so the battery is pulled out and "blessed relief"; the chirping stops.  Buddy stops shaking and order is restored to our little townhouse world.  To think that just a "chirping" sound would make the dog shake, rattle, and roll.  He was truly traumatized.  And the only place of comfort for Buddy was one of our laps.

     I have a Scripture laying on my messy place at the dining room table.  Psalm 94:18-19 "Your mercy O LORD will hold me up.  In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul".  My Heavenly Father has the biggest arms in the world and I run to Him.  Glory!

Why Does God Have To Shine A Light Anyway?

It really bugs me when the sunlight is shining just right in the kitchen and all the hidden dust and dirt is revealed.  I don't even want to think about all the slobber marks on the bottom areas of the appliances and cabinets.   Most of them are from the dog :)  I swipe a damp cloth over all that is revealed and move on.  Task accomplished!

All of the above leads me to thinking about how my Lord shines a light in my spirit and shows me where the dirt lies.  Am I aware of it?  Oh yes!  Am I moved to clean it up?  Sometimes I am really frustrated with that particular ongoing dirt and want to rant and rave.   I know that I can't clean it up on my own.  It takes a lot more than a damp cloth to clean that mess up.

So God is shining a light and drawing my attention to that particular sin.  He wants it cleaned up but how strongly do I feel about it?  As a follower of Christ, am I realizing how much this sin dishonors God?  Does it grieve me badly and so much that I will do anything to get rid of it? 

God knows our hearts and our thoughts.  He knows when we are really in the game and when we are not.  As King David asked in Psalm 139:23-24, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting".  

 As far as I know, that is not a common prayer in the Bible.  If we are going to ask a question of God, we had better be prepared for the answer.

 

So Which One Of Us Is Really Straining At The Leash?

Buddy is a rescue puppy and will be a year old at the end of March.  A couple of weeks ago, I had him out for a short walk.  He got very excited seeing another dog and a human too.  It was a tiny Yorkie dog and I was trying valiantly to keep Buddy from jumping all over that little feather duster.  You guessed it, I lost!  He jerked me off balance and down I went into the wet grass.  I sat there for a while because the young girl with the dog wanted to talk.  I figured if I got up, I probably would go down again.  I had quite a conversation with her.  She gave me the impression of being a dog whisperer and introduced a tip to calm him down.  Really?  Buddy is a mix of Schnauzer, Cocker Spaniel, and Jack Russell.  Calm him down?  Only when he has worn himself out :p

    So I'm thinking about this vexing, straining at the leash thing with Buddy.  He's getting bigger and stronger, and I'm getting older and weaker.  Something needs to give here and I don't intend it to be me.  Forget puppy obedience school.  Been there and done that.  It stressed me out so badly being there for an hour at night, once a week, for an interminable number of weeks.  What did we learn?  Buddy really, really, really likes treats.

    Anyway, I'm wondering what it is that I'm "straining at the leash at with my Lord."  The Holy Spirit is guiding and teaching me on one end and I'm creating tension at the other end with my sin nature.  A lot of tension there sometimes and who is going to give way?  It has to be me!  

    God has all the time in the world to watch me wear myself out and surrender.  Scripture tells me----2 Peter 3:8 "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with The Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day".  It amazes me that I can be even more willful than my dog.

 

What Needs Pruning?

I looked at my African Violet this morning and realized once again it needs pruning.  The outer leaves are limp because I overwatered it a couple of weeks ago.  The profusion of flowers are past their prime and looking woebegone.  So I succumbed and pruned it.  I don't like to do all that cutting away.  Don't ask me why.  I don't have an answer.  

 

This task made me remember grandpa living in Florida.  He was an avid gardner and would spend a lot of time in his gardens.  The result was a very large vegetable garden plus rose gardens.  The rose gardens were breathtaking.  Every time Brian and I would visit, we would find cut roses in the house.  Practically the first thing I did when entering their house was to look for and smell the roses.  Oh, the different fragrances were so delicious and intoxicating!

  

Grandpa had citrus trees and even grew pineapples.  He would have fresh-squeezed orange juice prepared for grandma every morning.  A labor of love :)  Not being a gardener myself; I once asked him if pineapples grew on trees.  I thought he would never stop laughing :o 

  

But I do remember that grandpa didn't like to prune either.  I recently asked Brian if he remembered that and he replied that, it was only in the later years when his health was failing and he was in the throes of dementia, that he would leave off pruning.  Brian said he had a "showcase garden" before grandpa's mind and body started to fail.

  

Now we have several rose bushes in our minuscule garden in front of the townhouse we live in.  They are gorgeous when they start blooming.  But for several years now have been attacked by insects.  They were sprayed and sprayed with insect repellant and to no avail.  It was only last year that my husband figured out the problem.  We leave our porch light on every night and that attracts moths big time.  It was the moths that were attacking our rose bushes and devouring the leaves early every year.  Okay.....no porch light when the roses are blooming.  Easy fix after all :p

   

This gardening story winds up with me being thankful that my Heavenly Father doesn't have a problem pruning me.  I'm a bushy, thorny disaster waiting to snag or be snagged.  Why does He chasten and prune me?  I'm reading the answer in Hebrews 12:5-6  "My son, do not despise the chastening of The Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives". 

 

I am also reading Job 5:17-18 "Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.  For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole".  So I say with fear and trepidation "bring it on LORD".  I'm your child!

Reflection of God's Glory?

I begin a morning getting up early, and reading God's Word with a cup of coffee. Sometimes interruptions happen and I end up reading the Bible in fits and starts.  That's how my day begins and then the real fun starts.  My loved ones, a dog, and the world enter the picture.  The testing begins!  Is my day going to encompass tripping, falling, and generally being an idiot or am I going to be pleasing to God?

  

Silly me!  As I began to follow Christ and, growing in faith and relationship to my Lord, I thought I would think and act better.  Instead, I live in a war zone.  My sin nature is pitted against my redeemed spirit.  Followers of Christ are to be reflections of God's Glory.  In just one day's time how often do I reflect His Glory?  Am I looking through my lens or God's lens?  Do I take the time to exchange my lens for His in any situation and see and hear from Him?  And obey Him?

  

The following Scripture verse encapsulates my human state completely.  "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin" Romans 7:22-25.

  

“A believer perceives his own sinfulness in direct proportion to how clearly he sees the holiness of God and perfection of His law” (John MacArthur).  I have to be willing to die to myself daily in order to reach a state of mind where all my attitudes, will, feelings, deeds, and goals are exchanged for God's.

 

Buddy, Me, and the Sunrise

I left the house at 6:45 am today.  Decided for the first time to take Buddy driving with me.  He's in the back seat and I'm in the front driving.  It was a small leap of faith for me because I didn't want to have an accident because the dog is misbehaving.  Also, I was a little apprehensive about him getting excited and going potty back there.  It turned out Buddy behaved quite well with only some whining and no disasters in the back seat.

On the way home I saw the most beautiful sunrise.  Very vibrant and intense dark pink colors.  The east was off to my right and I turned my head back to look at it again; it was that breathtaking!  By the time I arrived home, expecting to see some lingering effects of that sunrise, it was nowhere to be seen.  It was a momentary experience.

So my small leap of faith was rewarded.  If I was not faithful to take my son to work; if I was not faithful in trusting God to keep Buddy under control during the ride, what would have happened?  I wouldn't have seen that gorgeous, one-of-a-kind painting by God on the horizon.    He has so many blessings waiting for us; if only we would leap out trusting Him.

 

Close That Crack!

Most of the time Buddy wants to lay down in the space between the ottoman and the chair.  This morning I didn't allow it because my knee and back have been hurting from a fall outside.  Stepping over a dog from a rising position is not easy for me today.  I really don't want to pull or wrench any more muscles.

    So I observe that he is not appreciating my choice of closing up the space.  It has taken him a few minutes to pick another spot and lay down.  But he is down now and when I get up, I don't have to risk getting hurt.

    Goodness sakes!  Isn't that just what our adversary does to followers of Christ?  He finds a crack in our armor; a weakness that hasn't been surrendered to God.  He slowly insinuates himself in that crack and takes up residence.  It all seems so comfortable and non-threatening.  But then we rise up and this weak area is painful and we holler and yell at those around us because of the inflammation.  We do not deal with this pain silently.

    Our adversary has "game film" on each one of us.  He watches and identifies our weak areas.  He punches those weak spots with all his might and we ultimately go down hard.  Do we go down alone?  No, we struggle fiercely and take other people down with us.

    Down on the hard, hard ground, we come to our senses, reach a hand up and He clasps it saying "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls".  Matthew 11:28-29

 

Did the Dog Really Eat the Dryer Sheet?

Brian usually takes Buddy out in the mornings.  I don't enjoy going out in 20 degree or less weather, but my husband is made of sterner stuff than me.  Back in the Summer, I grew to really dislike "garbage day" because of our puppy.  Most people put their trash out at night for the following day and the birds and cats tear it up and scatter it.  All the smells from everybody's trash at the curb is just too overwhelming for a puppy's nose.  I can't imagine that addiction is going to improve with age!  
   I tend to keep a really close watch on Buddy when I take him out so he doesn't grab any rubbish.  He grabs, chews, and swallows any trash at lightning speed.  Too much of the time, we have no idea what is now going through the dog's digestive system.  This week, on garbage day, Brian noticed a stray dryer sheet blowing in the wind.  Buddy, of course, pounced on it.  A new toy!  But where did it go?  Brian said he saw Buddy swallow and then the dryer sheet was nowhere in sight.  Would our dog really find a dryer sheet tasty?  Answer:  probably.  I was a little concerned about the chemicals that are in dryer sheets, but our puppy has survived once again.
   Indeed, as followers of Christ, what kind of rubbish do we swallow?  Are we blown about by the wind of politics, frightening news stories, and worldly trends?  Are we doing our very best in knowing God and trusting in Him alone?
  Well, this situation has made me think of what Jesus was teaching in Mark 7:20-23 "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within and defile a man."  

Satan Has Asked For You!

I began to read a book several weeks ago by a very popular Christian author, and she mentioned the following Scripture.  Luke 22:31 "And The Lord said, 'Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat".  Oh my goodness, when The Lord repeats your name twice it is very serious and you better be listening!
 Christ Himself had already given Simon the name Peter, but here he reverted to Peter's old name.  Seems like Jesus is rebuking him for engaging way too much in fleshly overconfidence.  In the passage before this, all the disciples were arguing amongst themselves about "who is the greatest".  Am I wrong in guessing that Peter was "very vocal" in this argument?
 I don't know what sifters looked like in that day and age, but I have used sifters in my lifetime.  It is quite a word picture being "sifted".  A big fleshly body with all its pride and arrogance going through a sifter.  Painful?  Yes I would imagine painful to the extreme!  But what does a sifter do?  If you are sifting flour, it transforms the flour from coarse to a much "finer" state.  
 So there were definitely some things in Peter that absolutely needed to be "sifted" out, and the warning included the other apostles as well.  The trials that the apostles were to journey through were unsettling, undesirable, and very painful.  Pain was the road our Lord used to make them more faithful, more trusting, and even more stronger in Him.
 Shortly after this warning from Jesus, Peter actually denied knowing Christ three times.  And the third time, "the Lord turned and looked at Peter".  What was in Jesus' eyes and face as He looked at Peter?  Did Peter begin to "die to himself" at this moment?
 But the very next verse gives followers of Christ so much encouragement and hope.  Luke 22:32 "But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren".  

AM I WEARING DANCING SHOES OR HOBNAIL BOOTS?

Shoes are very interesting to me.  I love shoes!  There I was sitting in the front row at church during the beginning of the Lord's Supper and the deacons were lined up front too.  I looked down at several deacon's shoes.  Each pair of shoes was different from the others.  One pair had square toes, another pair had round toes, and the last pair I looked at were pointy toes.
  I have the privilege of knowing these men beyond a superficial sense.  Knowing some of what each one of them was struggling with in that season, I began to specifically pray for each one of them.  What an honor it was to be looking at their shoes and praying.  These are godly men; not perfect men, but men who do their best to please The Lord.  Just as their shoes were very different from one another; so are their personalities.  But our Lord is working in each and every one of them to produce fruit.  Grapes are crushed to produce wine and it is the same with followers of Christ.  We all get crushed to make the wine have great flavor for the Master of the vineyard.
   So getting back to shoes.  What kind of shoes am I going to put on today?  The hobnail boots are mean, negative, and selfish; meant for destruction.  The shoes I want to wear all the time are the dancing shoes for The Lord.  These shoes are heavenly and when I'm wearing them, I am prayerful, uplifting, full of encouragement, and a blessing.  It's up to me to choose.

The Thing About Gates

 I have had a fascination with gates for some time now.  There were several beautiful gates at historical Williamsburg that I noticed and photographed.  Some were very ornate and some were simply constructed.  Gates opened unto estates with beautiful homes, and gates opened unto lavish gardens.  While we were in Costa Rica I noticed, in particular, a gate in front of a Catholic church.  It looked like a revolving door and was quite ornate.  Was it usable ?  I don't know.
 In my mind, a gate looks like a welcome invitation.  Most gates can be entered without a problem, but others are fastened with bars of iron.  Some are open 24/7 and others are shut at night-fall.  Some gates have had a battering ram used against them.  
 I had forgotten how many gates are mentioned in the Bible.  In regards to the temple are mentioned gates of Zion, gates of righteousness, and gates of The Lord.  Numerous gates are mentioned of Jerusalem:  Fish gate, Sheep gate, Gate of Miphkad, Gate of Ephraim, Valley Gate, Water Gate, Horse Gate, Old Gate, Corner Gate, Dung Gate, and Gate of the Fountain.
 But the gate that we should all be most concerned about is in Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  14  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."
 Christ is the Gateway and it is only through Him that we can be saved.  It is through Jesus our Savior that the end of our life is not the end; only a beginning with Him and our Father. Hallelujah.  

Caution! Flying Debris!

Just a warning to everyone I come in contact with.  Heart renovations are underway and there may be flying debris as a result.  God has been doing heavy reconstruction work in my heart for decades.   It's a huge renovation but He contracted for this job when I was 29 years old.  My heart was in ruins.  There was a big yellow sign that read "this property is condemned" in the front of my heart.
I was diagnosed with sin damage and, therefore, He has been working in me from the ground up.    God has a blueprint that He is working from but will not let me see it.  The renovations are painful and I have to live in this house while He hammers, chisels, and sledgehammers away.  Family, neighbors, and friends complain about the noise and the mess, but God does have a permit for this work.  The permit has come through His Son.  Jesus has paid the price for my heart renovation.
So what I am saying is "please forgive the noise and flying debris" while this work is underway.  This renovation will be going on until He carries me away to my glorified house. Maybe then my Lord will show me the blueprint of how my heart was transformed to look like His Son.
 

What's In a Name?

Ever since we brought Buddy home from an animal rescue shelter in late July 2013, we have imagined about a hundred names for him.  Some are funny...

Read More

Three Leashes...

We have three leashes in our home for Buddy.  The first one was given to us by Animal House Rescue because we didn't know Buddy was coming home with us that very day.  The second leash...

Read More

Spiritual Batteries

So yesterday Brian, Buddy, and I are parked at the Hershey Park employee pick-up area in my CRV waiting for Ben.  We arrived about 25 minutes early.  Buddy's whimpering because we've done this before and he's getting impatient waiting for Ben.  
     The rain has stopped and it's warm and I'm sliding back my sunroof and am rolling down the windows, radio playing, and found out later left headlights on.  Ben is coming towards us with co-workers but he's still on the clock so he keeps going.
      Ben is finally clocked out.  We are all set to go, I turn the key in the ignition, and I hear nothing but clicks.  No way! We have a dead battery and we are all deflated but Buddy.  He's got all his family together in a small space and is happy, happy, happy.
       Here comes the Holy Spirit streaming through again :)  How many of us have spiritual batteries that have died?  We have done nothing to charge them.  Our Bibles haven't been opened in days, weeks, or longer.  Our prayer life is non-existent.  All we do everyday is run, run, and run.  But what are we running towards?  It certainly isn't God.

On My Walk

God shines a light on our situation and bids us to repent and come out of that dark, nasty, stinking tunnel.

Read More