tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:/posts All is Grace 2017-12-18T03:06:05Z All is Grace blog tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1218076 2017-12-17T21:11:19Z 2017-12-18T03:06:05Z Between the Doubt and the Wonder

   Many times in my life I have stood in a place, perplexed, frustrated and afraid, thinking to myself that surely something was wrong with me, or with the manner in which I was praying, for surely the way things were headed could not possible be the way God intended them to be. They certainty were not going in the way that I imagined they would.

   This morning, as I stood on a high bluff overlooking the Albuquerque valley awaiting the sunrise, with the sounds of the song "Mary Did You Know' playing softly on the car radio, my thoughts were drawn from Mary, the subject of the song, to her husband Joseph. Not much is known about Joseph and I thought of him and how he may have felt and what he might have experienced on that long ago day.

 Joseph was a man, in a man's world, a member of a religious society with a long set of moral rules. Here he was married to his beloved and her pregnant well before the wedding date. Scandalous for such a time as his regardless of whether society deemed him the father or not. According to societies rules he was well within his rights to put her aside publically, to shame and humiliate her. Now it is said that he, being a fair man, did not want to do this, and he had determined that he would put her aside privately. But then Joseph had a dream, and in his dream an angel told him ""Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.".........so he did just that.

 Now I imagine that he must have thought that since this child was from God that everything would be okay. God would work it all out in some glorious and amazing way. There was nothing to worry about and no need for concern. God has this.  

 And then the Roman governor called a census and Joseph now has to figure out how to get his heavily pregnant wife to a town 90 miles away, because the census requires him and his family to be counted in the town of his birth. Bethlehem, in Judea. Surely God couldn't intend for him to take his young, pregnant wife on such a difficult journey? How can this be happening? A 90 mile journey was no easy task in that time, and was for sure not something you wanted to do when pregnant. I had difficulty waddling to the mailbox with both my pregnancies and I cannot imagine the stress my husband would have gone through had he been tasked with getting me across 90 miles of ancient roads with probably nothing more than a donkey for me to sit on.

 What a sigh of relief Joseph must have breathed out when they finally arrived safely to the gates of Bethlehem. Mary was probably already exhibiting signs that the babe was coming and he would have most likely been desperate to find a safe place for her..........but there was no place. Every room was full. The place was packed. Nobody cared. Here he was with his young wife about to give birth in the street! God? Are You sure this is right? You said this baby was special? You said this baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit? And yet here I am in Bethlehem, with a bunch of other people and there is no place for me to take her! No place for her to bear this child! Surely this isn't what you intended?

  Hours later I imagine Joseph, on his knees inside the stable, with the stain of manure upon his garments and the smell of animal waste heavy in the air. There he is on the straw, perhaps holding the hand of his young wife as she labors and sweats and bleeds to expel this child. Surely this is not the way it was supposed to be! I wonder if he knew, as the child at last was delivered, as they wrapped Him and lay him in a manger, as he squeezed the hand of young Mary, I wonder if he knew that just a few miles away, the heavens had split open and angels were serenading a group of shepherds?  That the glory of it all had lit up the night sky and struck these hardened shepherds with such an awe and wonder that they would leave their flocks and come and see the babe that the angel chorus sang about. Joseph....did you know?

    Or was he sitting there exhausted and afraid,  stuck between doubt and wonder, the doubt picking at his soul because surely, if he had heard that angel right, the one he had dreamed about, then surely things would have gone down differently than he and her, and the newborn babe, stuck in a stable 90 miles from home. Did he hover, as I so often do, between doubt and wonder? Did he question himself regarding the dream? Did he question Mary's sanity? Did he ask himself if perhaps he had gotten it all wrong? Maybe the dream was just some crazy dream......maybe he misheard.... 

   I wonder what he thought when the shepherds showed up, there at the stable, kneeling at the feet of the child, their faces all aglow with the wonder of it all as they recounted the story of the angels singing "Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests!" I wonder what he thought when the shepherds told him the messge the angel had proclaimed of "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” I imagine that he must have been pretty awe struck by that. If he had harbored doubts, if he was afraid and wondering how in the world all this was going down like it was, I imagine that put a stop to it all and left him in awe of the wonder of it all.

  My thoughts are speculation. Not much is said about Joseph. Nothing is said about what he thought about it all, whether he ever doubted, whether he was ever afraid. I expect he was. He was human. We humans are often afraid, we often doubt, especially when we are caught in the hard places.

  I have been there. In that place where I could not see what God was doing, or even know if He was doing anything at all about the situation I was so desperate for Him to change, so desperate for Him to make an appearance, to make it stop, to deliver, to save, to redeem............and yet in looking back through these things I find that He was always doing, He was always right there in the thick of it with me, He was always in the business of delivering, or saving, of redeeming. He always will be.

  The Christmas story is a wonderful story, a glorious and miraculous and amazing story that leaves us in awe and wonder of the way God planned all that out. But we know the end of the story. At the time that the story was unfolding they did not know all that we know. Sort of like our stories. We cannot see the end of it yet, and we often get scared at the way things appear to be unfolding, how they seem to be unfair, how it all seems just a little too hard sometimes. We should take comfort in knowing that our God is great at unfolding glorious stories, full of awe and wonder, an awe and wonder that is sometimes difficult to see when you are in the story and the end hasn't played out yet.

 'Do not be afraid.......step away from the doubt and into the wonder of it all.


 

 

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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1201375 2017-10-27T18:16:03Z 2017-10-27T18:16:04Z Walking on Water

  Here I stand in a swirling ocean, a dark and terrible storm blowing all around me, the water is icy cold, and the howling wind and the churning waters are overpowering.  My footing is uncertain, at times my feet sink deep and it seems I will surely drown. The voices of darkness can be heard, through the howling wind, they laugh, they mock and they gleefully announce my defeat. Like the voice of Job's wife they call out "curse God and die".

 Step by laborious step, slowly I move forward. The waves splash over me and sweep away my breath as the darkness calls out its constant taunting. I hear voices in the wind  laughing and crying out, "you are done, you are finished, you have nothing left to give."  And I acknowledge the truth of their words.......and laugh....I am done, but He is alive! I am finished, but He fights for me!, I have nothing left to give, but He holds ALL things! 

  There's an ocean of turmoil all around me, cold dark waves sweeping over my head, my tired feet stepping across the waves, sometimes with sure and certain footing, sometimes sinking right up to my thighs. And slowly, ever so slowly, I raise my hands to the King of Glory, to my Father who sits on high, to my Savior who has bought me with His blood, to my Redeemer who holds me, to the One who can tell the waves to "be still" and to the One who has already defeated the taunting voices screaming out through the wind. Yes........Yes....... I raise my hands and I laugh out loud, in praise and thanksgiving, for I am His and He is mine and no matter what comes, no matter how hard the winds might blow, no matter how tall the waves become, no matter whether I sink or swim or walk right through it all........I AM OKAY, for I am His.

  All that comes through the terrible storms, every bit of wind and rain and every wave that sweeps me off my feet is in His power and has been allowed. Nothing can touch me, nor the ones I love, apart from His allowing it, and if He allows it, He will bring us through it, for His great glory and for our ultimate good. Whether I have only today, or a thousand tomorrows, whether all that I have is swept away or whether it is kept. None of it matters. All that matters is that I am His and He is mine. All that matters is the knowledge that He has me and He has the ones I love. We are safe.

 So I raise my hands in the storm, and I dance upon the churning water, and I sing at the top of my lungs, "it is well with my soul, it is well! IT IS WELL! WITH MY SOUL!

  And the voices cease and I hear the song of grace........

  So here I stand, with waves all around, with the icy water sweeping over my head and my breath swept away. Here I stand in the midst of the storm, here I stand in the darkness and cold......here I stand, safe and secure.......for He is with me and He is enough.

"

The wind is strong, the water is deep
My heart is heavy and my mind won't sleep
Oh can you heal, my fear it breathes
I need to know if You're the shadow I can see
I wanna run to You when the waves break through
I wanna run to You and not turn back
There's no turning back
Nothing in the past
My eyes on You again
Can't see nothing at all
But Your outstretched arms
Help me believe it
Though I falter
You got me walking on water
The ocean's singing, the song of grace
But if I'm honest with myself, I am still afraid
I wanna run to You when the waves break through
I'm gonna run to You and not turn back
There's no turning back
Nothing in the past
My eyes on You again
Can't see nothing at all
But Your outstretched arms
Help me believe it
Though I falter
You got…
There's no turning back
Nothing in the past
My eyes on You again
Can't see nothing at all
But Your outstretched arms
Help me believe it
Though I falter
You got me walking on water
I was sinking like a stone again
I was halfway in the grave and then
I looked up and saw Your face again
You pulled me out of the water, water, water
There's no turning back
Nothing in the past
My eyes on You again
Can't see nothing at all
But Your outstretched arms
Help me believe it
Though I falter
You got me walking on water
Though I falter
You got me walking on water, water, water
You got me walking on water, water, water, water"


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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1197614 2017-10-11T22:29:11Z 2017-10-11T22:29:11Z Broken Hallelujah's

   Preaching gospel to myself, as I do my best to walk by faith and not by sight. Trying with all my might to see the beauty and to hold on to hope. In doing so, I am so very grateful for music, which touches the soul, like a fresh rain on a hot day.

  And as I drove home today,....with the icy hand of anxiety slowly squeezing my heart, a song began to play on the radio and the words cut through the ice and the tears fall like rain..... And I lifted up my voice up and sang with everything in me. 

 You are my joy, You are my song

You are the well, the One I'm drawing from
You are my refuge, my whole life long
Where else would I go?

Surely my God is the strength of my soul
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
And when I feel like I'm all alone
Your love defends me, Your love defends me

Day after day, night after night
I will remember, You're with me in this fight
Although the battle, it rages on
The war already won
I know the war is already won


Surely my God is the strength of my soul
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
And when I feel like I'm all alone
Your love defends me, Your love defends me


You're my portion
My salvation
Hallelujah
You're my portion
My salvation

  And then comes another song and I sing my Halleluiahs, my broken, but beautiful Halleluiahs!

Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us we cannot contain

Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name

God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design

May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Halleluiahs be multiplied

Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us we cannot contain

Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name

God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design

May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Halleluiahs be multiplied

God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design

May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Halleluiahs be multiplied

These Halleluiahs be multiplied
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name


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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1194831 2017-09-29T15:56:17Z 2017-09-29T20:31:04Z Little Blue Dog........The Cry of a Shattered Heart

 

  About three weeks ago I took on the challenge of one little female pit-bull. Her rescue name is Appie but we call her Little Blue Dog.

  She came up from a shelter down south where a kind, soft spoken lady who is excellent with dogs had been unable to reach her. For some weird reason (I think it was meant to be this way) when she arrived at the rescue she came out of her kennel, wagged her tail and took a treat, ensuring her adoptability. That was the first and last time that she did so.

 After arriving she began to shut down. She would not leave the dog house and was terrified of everyone.  The rescue kennels are a very active place with a lot of dogs and a lot of noise. We assumed she was just having a hard time adjusting to it all and decided to move her to my house.

 I wrongly assumed that this would be just like all the other fearful dogs I have worked with, a little love, a little kindness and everything would be fine..... but it wasn’t. Nothing broke through her barriers. I was kind, I moved slow, I was patient. Chicken liver and black forest ham rained from the sky whenever I was around. I practiced appeasement and calming gestures that have worked well with fearful dogs in the past.  I would sit in her kennel and read just to get her used to me, never looking at her and always speaking soft yet confident. After three weeks although we had made some small progress it really wasn’t much.

 If she is loose she will run, she always runs at my approach, at anyone’s approach. If in her kennel or crate she hovers in the back and will only come out when the leash is attached to her collar. If inside she typically will hide inside her crate. Only one day, out of all the days did she come out and chew on a toy and just lay on the carpet. If you stand or move in any way she cringes and runs, if flight is not an option she goes down low, real low and awaits the displeasure that she is certain is coming.

   Once she is on a leash she will follow you, but she cringes at every move and seems to just be resigned to her fate and certain that you intend her harm.

 At certain points along the way she has been so shut down that she squints her eyes shut and just lays there as you touch her to put the leash on. Soft and gentle touch offers her no comfort and she just tenses up and allows it, certain that it is all a lie and harm is sure to follow.

 From time to time, and for only a fleeting moment, I see hope in her eyes, or something that I cannot quite put my finger on. If I sit down sometimes she will approach me, and if I walk about the yard sometimes she will follow and on occasion come up behind to sniff me, quickly fleeing if my head turns or I give any indication that I know she is there.

 She loves Patronus, my amazing Dog Whisperer dog. Through him I have been able to see a portion of her true self, as she greets him in the morning and dances in delight. For him her tail wags, for him she rains kisses, for him she bows and entices him to play. These moments are precious and beautiful to behold, for they show her as she was meant to be, as she was created to be, before some unknown sorrow broke her heart and spirit into fractured pieces.

 Working with her is heartbreaking. I have so much to offer her. Peace, rest, provision and a lot of love. I think of how it would be to have her in my lap and give her cuddles and rub her tummy….but to her this would be torturous. She simply cannot see all that I have to offer her for fear of some cruelty. I know not what she has endured in her short life, but whatever it was it has scarred her terribly.

 The lessons she teaches me are painful ones, not the normal happy and uplifting ones that other foster dogs have taught. She teaches me of sorrow, fears, hopelessness and brokenness, a tormented creature lost in the darkness. I see in her my own plight at certain times of my life, when God wooed me with His grace and mercy but I was so broken, so angry and fearful that I could not accept His wooing. Yet He never stopped pursuing me. I, like her ate crumbs from the ground when a feast beyond measure was there for the taking. I was just too broken to see it, and too disillusioned to believe it was real.

 Sometimes broken cannot be fixed, sometimes broken just will not come to the table offered. Yet God in His great mercy never stops asking, never stops pursuing, and never stops loving. I will do my very best to do the same, for the Little Blue Dog and in so doing, I will hope with all my heart that she will reach a place of trust where she will decide to eat from the bountiful table that is offered and know the peace of companionship with a caring human.

 Your prayers for her are greatly appreciated.

 

Little Blue Dog

I watch you huddled in the corner

Your eyes carefully watching my every move

Your body is tense, your tail tucked tightly

You are ready to flee…always ready to flee

Softness does not break through

Kindness and soft words do not penetrate

Tasty food has no appeal

You are convinced that nothing good comes from humans

Goodness and humans are a lie

I think you once believed that such things could be

I think your heart wanted it so very much

But someone trampled upon all that

And left you shattered and broken

Let me show you that beautiful is possible

Let me show you what grace can do.

Trust me little one…..trust me just a little bit

And we will behold the miracle of love.

 

 

 “Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life” (Psalm 23:6a, The Message)

 

 

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8 NLT)


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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1192083 2017-09-18T17:41:13Z 2017-09-19T00:33:28Z A Dog's Purpose

This Saturday, the 16th of September I took my dear friend Quasimodo, AKA QuasiBoBo, AKA the Joy and Peace Dog, to his new family. It was a bittersweet experience. This dear dog, whom I have poured heart and soul into, whom I have wept and prayed a thousand prayers and tears, this dear dog who has brought me such laughter and joy, even in the middle of tears and frustration was finally spreading his wings and flying away.

 The night before his big event we celebrated. He danced in the yard with his favorite flower pot, he chased balls and ropes and then we came inside and he had ice cream. The look on his face is always so delightful when he has ice cream.

 Many of my friends who have followed the saga of Quasimodo on my Facebook page or here on my blog have urged me to keep him. I wanted to. I really did, but always when I considered it there was that still small voice telling me that he was not made for me. He has a different purpose. He is simply with me, to teach me some lessons and to heal up and be prepared for where he is supposed to be. So in truth I have always know this day was coming.

 Once Quasi was cleared for adoption the process began of introducing him to folks interested in adopting him. We had several that seemed perfect for him. People with tons of land and horses, which I thought would be wonderful for him. Yet for whatever reason they did not work out. I was a little sad about this, but I should not have been. Things went as they went because although those homes were perfect for any dog, they did not fulfil the purpose of Quasimodo.

 Quasi adores children. He always made me laugh with his intense desire to be with children. Mine are grown but a corner neighbor has kids and they often played in the swimming pool. An eight foot brick wall separates us, and you cannot see in, but you can hear the children laughing. Each time this occurred Quasi would run to the corner and stand there, hopping into the air on all fours and trying desperately to see the children.

 Well his new family do CYFD foster care. They provide a safe and loving place for children who are abused and neglected. A safe place for broken children. How beautiful that is and how wonderful that Quasimodo will be participating in something he delights in, making children laugh and not only that but making children who may not have much reason to laugh, laugh.

 He has only been with his new family a few days and already he has befriended a child in the CYFD program. I am told that child “delights” in Quasi.

  To all of you who came along side me as I fostered this very special dog and nursed him through his recover, to the ones who prayed, to the ones who laughed and loved…..thank you. Thank you for participating in this glorious unfolding as we laughed and cried and prayed and watched this big, goofy looking dog struggle to break free of the limitations placed upon him by circumstances beyond his control. Through it all he was a trooper. He danced wearing multiple cones, with drainage tubes and bandages, he ran and frolicked wearing a plastic helmet, and he displayed joy and hope throughout it all.

  He would look at me perplexed as I sat on the ground weeping, trying to figure out why I was so sad, after all the mud and dirt is fun! “Look ma!, I am covered in mud! It is so much fun!” and never understanding that my tears were for the probable dirt that had now contaminated his head.

    Here’s to you Quasimodo, the Joy and Peace dog! Every second was worth it and what a glorious unfolding is has been! But it’s not over yet, in fact it has just begun. And it’s going to be wonderful watching from a distance as your forever Auntie Donna, as you fulfil your purpose.

 

 


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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1159269 2017-05-31T16:07:11Z 2017-05-31T21:01:37Z From the Least of These

 I sit on the porch relaxing and watch as a young boy walks down the dirt road carrying a chicken. I find this sight very interesting as I do not recall ever seeing a young boy, walking down a dirt road, carrying a chicken.

 He goes by and I ponder what he might be doing and why does the boy have a chicken in his arms? A few moments later I see this same boy walking up the hill to the street above us and he no longer has a chicken. My first thought is that perhaps this chicken is following him, like a dog, so I stand and walk out into the yard to better view this amazing scene, but alas, there is no chicken.

 So I walk out into the street and there, standing in the dust and the dirt, is a bedraggled rooster, feathers limp, tail feathers entirely gone and looking rather lost and confused.

 I would like to say that my first thought was to rescue this poor fellow, but it wasn’t. Instead I told myself “it is just a chicken”, “it is not my chicken”, and “Donna, what will you do with a chicken? What are you thinking?”

  So I walked back inside my home and left the chicken where he was.

 A little while later I went back outside and there he was, in my yard, probably drawn by the water in the bird bath and the quail block on the ground. I watched him as he tried to eat, and then he would just lay down, as if he were exhausted. At that point I knew I could not just leave him there. He would not last the night with the coyotes.

 So I got out one of the dog crates and begin to entice the rooster with bird seed. He was so hungry and was gobbling it up as fast as I could throw it upon the ground. In the end I herded him into a corner and picked him up. He looked so sad, huddled in the corner, trying desperately to make himself small and invisible because he just had nowhere else to run to. As I picked him up he surrendered himself to me, although I could feel him trembling in my hands.

 I gently placed him in the dog crate, got him some water and some food and set him up in the shade. For whatever reason the song “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown” went through my head and I christened him Leroy.

 

 He was afraid each time I came outside to sit with him, and would huddle in the corner as if he expected me to harm him, but slowly over the course of our three days together, he began to trust me just a little. He would come right out and eat the food in his dish, instead of waiting for me to disappear, and he would look at me, where before he huddled and tried to make himself small and invisible.

 I sent out a neighborhood message to see if anyone had lost a rooster, and I started networking with folks on Facebook and eventually this led me to a New Mexico monk, named Father Joshua, who runs a hermitage up in the foothills of the Monzano Mountains. He declared that he was willing to take Leroy in and give him a home at his monastery.

  What lessons can be learned in three days’ time from the rescue of one bedraggled rooster?

   Leroy had nothing to offer me, nothing I needed, no endearing quality to call me to his rescue, he was just a worn out bird, lost and confused and rather hopeless. Much like me in comparison to the rescue that I experienced when Christ called my name and declared me His.

 To rescue should have nothing to do with endearing qualities, such as beauty, or appeal, or what the rescued can do for me, but instead should be done for the glory of God, because He created and said it was good, and because I, like Leroy, had nothing to bring to Him but filthy rags, and yet He rescued me, clothed me in His robes of white, declared me precious and beloved.

  And I learned another lesson as I drove Leroy across town to meet up with his new benefactor Father Joshua. I learned that my faith is weak and I have miles to go and that sometimes I am a disappointment to myself.

 As I arrived on the other side of town I pulled into a huge empty lot and sat to wait for Father Joshua. A young man, wearing only a pair of black shorts stumbled about the parking lot, appearing disoriented and perhaps drunk or on drugs. As I watched he fell to the ground and rolled over on his back and was just lying there talking to the sky. I was concerned. I recognized that this was not a coincidence that I was sitting in this parking lot while a young man struggled, and yet I did nothing……well I did do something. I locked my doors. I whispered a prayer but was immediately convicted that a prayer was not what was needed, yet still I sat, arguing with myself and with God.

 “This is the South Valley Lord, I am a woman alone in a car. This guy is not right in his head. He could try and rob me or take my vehicle. You should bring somebody else to minister to his needs.”

  And a white car pulled into the parking lot and a young man got out and knelt down, talking to the incapacitated one. He went back to his car and returned with water. The incapacitated young man drained the bottle of water and I watched as the two men talked. The incapacitated one waved his arms about as they talked and then stood up. The two shook hands, the rescuer opened the door of his car and the young man got in…….and they drove away.

 And I sat asking myself why I was afraid to intervene.

  So thank you Leroy, for the lessons. I pray that you have a long and healthy life living at the St. Cornelius Orthodox Christian Hermitage. I was told last night your new name is Mr. Red. It suits you. And thank you Father Joshua for taking him in. You and your vision for a place in the wilderness to help our veterans suffering from PTS and TBI are in my most fervent prayers. God be with you.

 

 

http://thehermitagenm.org/

Note: As it turned out the young boy carrying the chicken had found him on the street above us, and had walked that entire street and most of ours asking if anyone had lost a rooster. When he could find no one he let the chicken go as his parents had told him he could not bring it home with him.

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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1155222 2017-05-19T14:51:28Z 2017-05-19T14:51:28Z Glorious Unfolding.....

    I sit and watch the big Rottweiler as he leaps and twirls about the backyard in his dance of joy and I reflect on the experience of the last couple of months caring for him through his recovery, and of things I have been reading and of a song I just listened to on the radio.

   This joyful dog was born somewhere down south in New Mexico, a little over a year ago, and at the young age of 9 weeks he was attacked by another dog and severely injured, suffering damage to his head, crushing of one nasal cavity and giving him a misshapen face where his eyes don’t quite line up, and his jaw is off-center. We found out recently through a search of his medical records that he was bitten by a snake a little while after his first injury. This too in the face.

  So the dog grew up and as he grew his body overcompensated and created a huge bony growth on the left side of his head, a growth with bony fingers pressing down into his left eye and a growth that filled up with nasty infection and created a constant pressure, probably must like a severe sinus infection to us.

  Much of that story was told in a previous blog post. But today my thoughts are drawn to how things unfold in life, and how although bad times can seem unsurmountable and more than we can endure, the story is not over yet.

  The dog zooms about the yard, leaping like some kind of heavy weight sumo wrestler trying to do ballet. He is both graceful and clumsy. He is exuberant! He feels so darn good and life, in his opinion, just doesn’t get any better. But it wasn’t always so for him. There was a time when all he knew was the dull ache and pressure in his head, an ache that dulled life for him, prevented a good fast frolic from being enjoyable, and I cannot but marvel at the glorious unfolding that I have been able to witness as I have watched this dog go from the misshapen Quasimodo, to the exuberant and joyful QuasiBoBo.

  As I watch him frolic in the yard, I ponder the story that I read recently in the book of Ruth, a Bible book I have read frequently over the years and yet this time something else jumped out at me in the story. Naomi, the mother in law of Ruth, a woman who left the land of her birth and followed her husband into Moab. She bore him two fine sons, and watched them marry Moabite women and somewhere along the way everything went wrong. Her husband died, leaving her alone, and then both her sons died, leaving her bereft and broken.

  Naomi must have had some wonderful character traits, because both of her daughter in laws wept at the thought of losing her, as she informed them of her intention to return to the land of her birth. So much so that Ruth decides to follow her and declares those famous lines; “entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee, whether thou goest I will go, thy people will be my people and thy God my God.” There must be something that shined out of Naomi’s life to have created such a bond that the daughter in law is now willing to follow her into a land where Moabites are not too popular, and to do so as a young widow.

  I think of Naomi. Of how totally lost and broken she must have been. Dead husband. Dead sons. Nobody to provide for her and probably not much to live for. She tells her people to stop calling her Naomi and to call her Mara “for the Lord has dealt bitterly with me”. I can’t say I blame her for that, she for sure endured a terrible loss, and carried a heavy burden.

 Yet I imagine this woman as she took her final breath and then stepped into the presence of the God that she had always believed in, when she at last could see how everything turned out in her story, when she could behold from beginning to end the glorious unfolding of the most wonderful story ever told, and one that she had played a part in. The look on her face as she realized that from the line of her daughter in law Ruth, and her kinsman redeemer Boaz, had come the Savior of the world! When she realized that the hard life she had lived, and the witness she had made to her young daughter in law, the witness that drew that young woman to follow her home, and thus meet Boaz and marry him, and have a child, who had a child, who had a child and one day, in a stable in Bethlehem a babe was born to a young virgin……..what a glorious unfolding of grace that came straight out of the broken, heartrending trials of a woman named Naomi.

 And as I rise to get ready to leave for work my thoughts drift to my father, a man who suffered a lot of hardship and disappointment in life and I imagine his face, as he took that final breath and stepped into eternity, and as the Savior whom he had served most of his life unfolded the glorious story of all the lives impacted by his faithfulness. And I pause for a moment and look up, and imagine hearing my dad, from that great cloud of witnesses whisper “run, daughter”……”run your race…..the story is far from over….and what a glorious unfolding it will be!”.

 

 

 

 Glorious Unfolding by Steven Curtis Chapman

Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

God’s plan from the start
For this world and your heart
Has been to show His glory and His grace
Forever revealing the depth and the beauty of
His unfailing love
And the story has only begun

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
We’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise god has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

We were made to run through fields of forever
singing songs to our Savior and King
So let us remember this life we’re living
Is just the beginning of the beginning

Of this glorious unfolding
We will watch and see and we will be amazed
If we just keep on believing the story is so far from over
And hold on to every promise god has made to us
We’ll see the glorious unfolding

Just watch and see (unfolding)
This is just the beginning of the beginning (unfolding)

 



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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1143677 2017-04-03T19:23:02Z 2017-09-19T02:47:50Z New Life and Second Chances….Lessons I Have Learned From Dogs

    A couple of months ago I met a Rottweiler named Quasimodo. A rather quiet and gentle soul. Quasi was attacked by another dog when he was just a few weeks old, and his nasal cavity was crushed. As he grew and matured his body compensated for the injury and grew an enormous mass of bone on the left side of his head. So Quasi, now one year old, has this huge domed hump on the top of his head, a mass so large that is caused his left eye to be squeezed shut and thus giving him his name.

 Quasi has known no other life, all his days have been spent with the burden and the pressure of his injury. This is his life, this is as good as it gets for Quasi. Sure, he has had some good times, some tasty bones, naps in the sun and interactions with others, but all took place with the burden and the pressure of the old injury, squeezing shut his eye and causing pain, sort of like having a permanent sinus infection.

 I immediately fell in love with this dog, with his grossly misshapen head and his quiet and kind brown eye. You could just feel the “very special” radiating off this dog. On that first day that we met, I was only able to spend a few minutes with him, on a quick walk around the park, but he captivated me from the moment I first saw him.

 The next week Quasi went in for surgery, to remove all that extra skull from his dome. When they cut into him they found this hardened bony dome was filled with nasty pus and gore. The vet was brilliant in her work and worked diligently to remove all the infection and once the surgery was over, Quasi’s head was more normal shaped.

 He arrived back to the rescue that evening, and the dog that had been quiet and gentle was now dancing. He danced and he lept and he was so darn happy. Although he had a huge cone on his head, and gauze packed into his surgery wound, with a drain hanging out the top of his head, and he looked a frightful hot mess, but he didn’t care. All Quasi knew was that the burden, and the pressure were gone! And he felt wonderful! He felt alive! And he wanted nothing more than to dance and to run and to leap, not caring at all that he was slinging blood and gore all about him, plastering it upon the walls and the people. For the first time since his injury, Quasimodo was dancing!

 Sadly I did not get to see this wonderful sight, but I had it described to me, and it filled my heart with joy for this beautiful very special dog!

   A few weeks later I got to spend some time with Quasi. What a different dog from when we first met. His head was filled with stitches and somewhat misshapen, and he had a bit of a Frankenstein appearance now, he was wearing his huge cone, but he had such joy in his eyes. He was a new dog. The same and yet not the same. He was alive, he was joyful, and looking at him all I could see was beautiful hope and redemption.

 Quasimodo reminds me of myself. Of how I lived my life, up until my high twenties, with a burden and a pressure upon it that I could not describe, nor understand, nor get rid of. There were good times, and great experiences, but all were somewhat marred by that pressure and yearning that spoke to my soul saying “surely this is not everything?” “Surely there is something more?”

 And somewhere into all that mess that was me, and my life, God reached down and called my name, and something inside me awoke, and something I had always carried, not even realizing the full weight of it, fell away, and I was free and I was changed. Jesus, the one who touched lepers, had touched me and I would never again be the same. All that stuff mucking up my life, all that weight pressing down upon me, all that yearning for “something more”, was gone and I was new and different.

  I know how Quasimodo must feel, I know why he dances, he has been given a new life, totally and completely different from the life he once had. He didn’t even know that such a thing was possible. All of his days of memory had been filled with that pressure, that big ugly puss filled burden on the top of his head. It had marred everything. Even the good moments of life, the tasty bones, the time spent with the people he loved, all of that marred by that steady pressure of pain, that steady burden of infection. He is a new dog now.

    I have since been blessed to be able to foster Quasimodo for a bit and currently he is entertaining us with his antics and teaching me the lessons I need to learn from him, before he moves on into his special forever home.

    He has already shown me how there is always hope, even when you can't feel it, can't see it, can't even contemplate the possibility of it. He has found a new life, a second chance, and its like nothing he could ever dream. He will get to be all that he was created to be, he will dance, he will frolic and he will bring love and companionship to his special human. Quasi has joy now, an unbridled joy, he feels good, he feels so good that he can hardly contain himself.

   He has already shown me the art of dancing, even if you have ugly stitches and a huge cone on your head. And just watching him, seeing the joy in his face reminds me of redemption. Something that I too rejoice in and am greatly thankful for.

    Quasi has been redeemed. His redemption was bought for him by someone else, an act of total grace and one for which he cannot repay. And he is overjoyed by this new wonderful life he has been given. There is so much more to come for him, but right now its a lot of times in crates, and wearing a giant cone on his head but still he dances. He is the very picture of joy personified. It's as if he can now see the hope in front of him.

 He is a hoot to watch, and already I see that God has much to teach me through the antics of this very special dog.

     God bless you Quasimodo, and grant you long life, peace, people who adore you, tasty bones, naps in the sun, long walks by the river and all the other good things that every dog should have. Until then…………teach me His ways and His lessons as I watch you heal up.

   


 

You're shattered
Like you've never been before
The life you knew
In a thousand pieces on the floor
And words fall short in times like these
When this world drives you to your knees
You think you're never gonna get back
To the you that used to be

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again

Beginning
Just let that word wash over you
It's alright now
Love's healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
'Cause your story's far from over
And your journey's just begun

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again

Let every heartbreak
And every scar
Be a picture that reminds you
Who has carried you this far
'Cause love sees farther than you ever could
In this moment heaven's working
Everything for your good

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again
Your heart to beat again
Beat again

Oh, so tell your heart to beat again

 

 


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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1142141 2017-03-28T16:16:53Z 2017-03-28T16:16:54Z Walking By Faith

    This morning, as I sat looking out over a dreary, wet landscape and gray, rainy sky I meditated upon the morning's reading, Numbers 12 and 13. I pondered Caleb, a leader of his people and a man of great faith.

     Caleb and eleven  other leaders were sent into the promised land, to spy out the land, to see if it were fruitful and to see if it could be taken. These twelve men found a fruitful land, abundant with crops, fertile and lush. But eleven men came back with tales of woe and terror. They saw an impossible task. They saw the fear of tomorrow, they dwelled upon the "what ifs" and in so doing they reported back that it was impossible to go forward. Victory was impossible. Going forward was certain death and destruction. They had gone in, and spied out with earthly eyes.

   Not so with Caleb. He saw a future bold and bright. He saw victory. He saw a land promised to him and he saw the God of glory marching forward before him as he marched to take it.

  Can you imagine how difficult that was? Here he stands with eleven men, all leaders of the people, all, presumably men he respected, and every last one of them is reporting that this land they just returned from was impossible to take. Everyone of them spoke against going forward, and everyone of them promised certain destruction if their words were not heeded.

  Have you ever stood alone? Stood believing on a course of action when everyone else was opposed? In times like that you start second guessing yourself. You begin to falter, you begin to think maybe they are right.

   Not so Caleb. He stood firm, he believed in the God who had gone before him every time past, the God who had delivered, the God who had sustained, the God of the impossible, the glorious, amazing, terrifying God of glory. And God had said this land would be given to them. So Caleb didn't see fortified cities and mighty warrior's with earthly eyes. Instead he looked upon this promised land with eyes of faith.

  Walking by faith and not by sight isn't easy. Everyone around you will often be clamoring about the certain destruction that is coming, how the situation before you is an impossible one, and without meaning to they will encourage you to be cautious, to stay put, to accept the lesser and to stop dreaming about the impossible.

  How do we walk by faith? Personally I believe we learn to walk by faith when we keep our eyes on Jesus. The God man, the One who left glory and majesty and took on flesh, the One who walked on water, the One who quieted the storm with a word, the One who said "Lazarus come forth!", the One who touched lepers, the One who freed captive souls, the One who's touch caused the blind to see and the lame to jump up and dance. 

  God's promises are sure. Caleb knew this truth. Caleb was willing to stake his very life on that truth. He did not allow the fears of the other eleven to discourage him. He knew the God of glory, he remembered the amazing feats of deliverance, strength and provision that had come from the very hand of that God of glory. 

  We can learn much from Caleb.

.

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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1114958 2016-12-13T02:36:22Z 2016-12-13T02:36:27Z The Last Time

 I was reading some Buechner today, and he spoke of the Last Supper and how we too have last moments with loved ones, but we do not often recognize they are last moments. I wonder if we thought of this more often, perhaps it would help us to be at peace with things and to see what is truly important instead of the trivial things we often focus on.

  One day I will sit down for my last meal, but I probably won’t realize it. Often I go home after a workday, and I fret, and even feel a bit sorry for myself because now I must prepare something for us all to eat. I’m easy to please, a peanut butter sandwich works great for me, but my family prefer cooked meals. This can be irritating to me, tiring, and a drain on my dwindling energy. But when I think about that last meal, it changes everything.

What if tonight’s dinner is the last dinner I ever prepare for my husband….or my son? What if sometime between the eating of it, and tomorrow’s meal, God decided to call one of them home?

  When you start to ponder this, you begin to think of many “lasts”. The last hug, the last kiss, the last words……..we just don’t know what tomorrow holds. This past Sunday, in Cairo, Coptic Christians rose from their sleep, they got dressed, they fretted with dressing squirmy children, and they made breakfast. Perhaps they felt rushed, perhaps they were tired and stressed, perhaps they even felt drained by the constant need of their families. Eventually they completed these unrecognized “lasts” and headed out to church…..for the last time.

While sitting in their pews, perhaps singing, or praying or listening to the day’s reading, a bomb went off and 28 souls went home to Jesus. Did the ones left behind agonize over that morning’s lasts? Did the husband wish he had been kinder, did the mother wish that she had not so scolded the child for his exuberance? Perhaps they had breakfast together while watching the television, and there was little or no talking. Perhaps she read a book as they drove to church. How different it probably would have been had they all known that that morning contained all those lasts.

 This morning, a Facebook friend requested prayer for a man who's son died last night in an auto accident. There's a man out there somewhere, heartbroken, shattered, faced with burying a son.....a man who experienced a last and did not know it. I pray their last moment was a good one. That there was grace, love and compassion.

 I too have experienced lasts that I did not know were lasts. How I wish I could live them over again, more mindfully. My last phone conversation with my dad, my last phone conversation with Mel, even the last time I made lunch for my sons to take to school, and the last time I helped them with homework. The last piece of artwork that they brought home, excited to show me......so many lasts.

 Buechner went on to speak of how limited our time really is, and how sad it is that we do not see that every supper with our loved ones is "precious beyond all telling because the day will come beyond which there will be no other supper with them ever again". He states that "every one of our suppers points to the preciousness of life and also to the certainty of death, which makes life even more precious still and is precious in itself because under its shadow we tend to search harder and harder for light".

 Reflecting upon these things brings a strong desire to live more mindfully, to embrace the moments, to live as if each one is a last. To live those moments with my eyes wide open to the people and things around me, to the opportunities God daily places in front of me. To live those moments so that any unsuspecting lasts are the best lasts they can be. To recognize that each moment is holy, and that each task in life is important and worthwhile to God, be it doing the laundry or cooking a daily meal.God is present in every moment. I desire to be more aware of His presence in those moments.

 Can you imagine the difference we can all make daily, were we to live each moment, each greeting, each goodbye, each daily mundane task taken on for our children or our spouses as if it were the last time we would see that person? The last task we ever do for them? Our love for one another would grow, our relationships would strengthen, our compassion would increase and I believe we would have a lot more peace in our lives.

 Moments........that's all we have for certain.....this moment right here and now....nothing else is promised. Let's live them well, let's live them with love and compassion. Let's error on the side of grace and mercy. Let's endeavor to let others know that they matter. Let's stop and smell the roses, gaze upon the sunrise, acknowledge and feel the breeze as it brushes through your hair. Hold the hand of the one you love. Be thankful, take time to listen, reflect on what you are about to say......you just never know....this might be the last time.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."

Quotes are from Secrets in the Dark by Frederick Buechner

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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1098141 2016-10-12T14:09:18Z 2016-10-12T23:07:33Z A Silent Cry For Help

 

On Sunday, the 25th of September in the year of our Lord 2016, I was sitting on our back porch, reading a book and anticipating an afternoon and evening of rest and relaxation. All my chores were done. It is rare to have an afternoon and evening of rest for me and I try hard to carve out my Sundays to just be still and enjoy things.

  Suddenly Samson began to bark, and bark as if there were something right there, something terrible, so I got up and quickly went over to the fence where he and Einstein were intently staring at something on the other side. I thought it must be a snake, and yet I saw nothing on the ground in front of Samson. Suddenly there was movement under our little pickup truck parked just on the other side of the fence. I saw a very long tail, beige in color……..perhaps a possum, but a very strange looking one and as I bent down to look my eyes fell upon a terrified little dog, a dog so covered in mats that it was impossible to see which end was which.

   The day was hot and she was panting profusely from the heat. I quickly caught up my dogs, locked them inside and retrieved water and a bowl for her, along with some food. Slowly but surely I enticed her out from under the truck and into my garage. As I dropped food upon the ground I noticed her violently pushing her face back and forth along the concrete. As she allowed me to get closer I realized that the knots of hair were hanging all in front of her face and she was unable to get food into her mouth. Her pushing her face along the ground was her attempts to get the hair cleared away so that she could pick up the bits of food.

 I took a few quick photos and quickly went in to retrieve scissors and more food. Slowly she allowed me to touch her briefly here and there and each time I quietly clipped away a mat of hair. The long tail I had first seen when she was under the truck turned out to be mostly hair, dragging at least 12 inches behind her. A huge massive braid of fur, like wool, heavy and filled with sticks and cactus. She made no sound. She simply cowered and trembled, dejected and afraid and yet desperately crying out “please help me”. My heart was broken for her pain and suffering. It takes a very long time for a dog to get into the condition that she was in. She had suffered years of neglect.

  So my relaxing afternoon and evening, became a project to try and free her from some of the terrible matting. The matting was so dense and thick that it was if she were covered in several layers of thick wool, wool woven into a blanket. Stuck deep with these masses of hair were thorns and sticks and goat head burrs.

  I could not do much around her head, I was unable to find her ears and feared I would inadvertently cut into one. Her feet were encased in the thick wooly mats and she seemed uncomfortable with me touching them, so I pulled a few burrs out and left her feet alone.

  Gradually she became comfortable with me, I think she realized I was helping her, and I was able to cut away a huge pile of fur. Still she was encased in the wool. I made her comfortable in a crate, gave her water and softened food and let her rest for a bit.

 The next day I took her to the vet. A local rescue (Pet A Bulls) had generously offered to take care of her medical needs. Late Monday I was informed that she had a small mammary tumor and terrible teeth. So today, Tuesday, she is having surgery to repair her teeth, remove the tumor and be shaved and set free of the mass of hair covering her poor little body.

Update October 12th 2016 : This little one has come alive and it is amazing to watch her little personality come out. At first she was so afraid, shaking in fear whenever you touched her or held her. Now she asks to be held and she loves to sleep next to you. She seems to enjoy wearing her little sweater and t-shirt. She loves to eat and she LOVES chicken liver! She is doing well with her housebreaking and is fully crate trained. She cannot push through the big dog doors at my house so someone has to let her out to potty, but she is doing very well. She gets along well with both the other dogs in my home and has met several others at the park and has had no issues with any.

 She is available for adoption now, through Pet A Bulls rescue in Albuquerque. She needs a home where she can live out her days as a little princess, where someone will provide regular grooming and little bows and paint her little toenails and spoil her rotten. She has suffered a lot in her short little life………I pray that all her days of suffering are at last over.

If you would like to donate to offset the cost of the medical care provided to this little one please do so at this address:

https://www.facebook.com/Pet-A-Bulls-Inc-177947685596925/app/190322544333196/

If you are interested in adopting this little one please see this address:

http://petabulls.com/adopt/

Please go to Pet A Bulls Facebook page and give them a LIKE for taking care of this little one:

https://www.facebook.com/Pet-A-Bulls-Inc-177947685596925/


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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1092476 2016-09-22T15:41:51Z 2017-10-07T00:09:47Z Einstein the Foster Dog

  After the recent loss of my beloved Hektor, the Dogo Argentino I decided to foster dogs for awhile. I wanted to give back to the dog world some of the grace I have received over the years from a variety of good dogs. Fostering enables me to help dogs in need, and it helps me in many ways to deal with the grief of losing my dear friend Hektor. 

 So enters Einstein into my life. He entered a bit quicker than I wanted, but the need was there so I said yes and brought him home. When I first laid eyes upon Einstein he was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle of the nice rescue lady who had picked him up that day. The story I know of his life prior to this moment is that he was picked up as a stray, and the animal control officer who picked him up decided to keep him, but things didn't work out due to his male dog's refusal to accept Einstein. So he came to a local rescue called Pet-A-Bull. He was there for a bit, living amongst a horde of rescued pit bulls until he was adopted by some lady. I do not know how long he was with her, only that she had returned him that day, saying he was a great dog, but he was too rambunctious for her.

  The rescue really wanted him to be able to go into a foster home, and to not have to go back to a kennel at the rescue. I can see now, after getting to know him a bit why that was so important. Einstein is not the kind of dog who does well in a kennel.

  The little guy sitting in the backseat looks scared. How scary it must be to live your life at the whims of humans. Imagine yourself dropped tomorrow in some far away country where no one speaks your language and to be dropped there without any money or any means to care for yourself. People are babbling to you, waving their hands about, talking louder as you fail to understand their words. How scary that would be.

 Einstein was frightened, he was uncertain, he had no idea what was going on or where he might be headed. He was doing his best to trust people, for he is a lover of humans, but you could see in his eyes that he was worried. My heart broke as it always does when I see an animal in need.

 I transferred him to my vehicle along with his supply of dog food and off we went for home. I didn't ask much of him. I just talked softly about nothing much at all, telling him all would be well and that he was safe. He did not understand my words, but I think my quiet speech gave him some measure of relief. Still the little guy was apprehensive. After all, he had heard kind words from folks before, but things hadn't turned out like he had hoped.

 We arrived at home and upon entering he was just so scared and so submissive that we sort of left him alone for a bit. He gravitated straight to my son Josh and huddled fearfully under his computer desk. I wondered if at some point he had given his heart to some young man like Josh, for he seemed to think that safety was to be found right there under that desk.

 We gave him that entire afternoon to just settle in, only breaking his peace with potty breaks and even those were traumatic for him. He was afraid of the patio door and he slipped on the tile floor, giving me that look of betrayal as if I had set him up to fall. My heart went out to this little dog, written all over him was the desire to love and trust, the desire to be loved and trusted, and yet he was afraid. He had lost a lot in a very short time. Been saved from the life of a stray, met up with someone who wanted to love him but had to turn him into rescue, gotten slightly adjusted to the hordes of dogs at the rescue, then he had been invited into the home of the lady.....now here he was, in another strange place, with another lady, a lady talking softly and telling him everything was going to be okay........perhaps just as the last lady had.

 By the next morning he began slowly to come out of his shell, as if he had decided to dare to hope. He made a decision to just love us to death, almost desperate in his actions, like he was trying to say "I'm a good dog!, I'm such a good dog! Please love me! Please let me stay!"

  We began to go for walks and I was impressed with how quickly he responded to me and how eager and content he was to walk right there with me. I was not walking a dog, nor was I being walked by a dog....instead he and I were walking together. That's how it should be and yet I was surprised at how easily we had arrived at this state. It was Einstein's desire to be with me that made it so easy.

 He has been with me for 6 days now. He is a delightful dog. A worthy dog. This is the kind of dog that would lay right down and die for you if you were to ask him, and were he to understand that you needed him to. This is the kind of dog that wants only to be with his special person, to follow them about the house, to walk with them along country roads, to sleep with them in fluffy beds. He is friendly, he is playful, he is loyal. This is the kind of dog that wants to be with you, participate with you, and he delights in your companionship and attention. He is what I call a Velcro dog, loyal and devoted.

  Einstein is a very special dog and I pray, with all my heart I pray, that God will provide him with the quality home and person that he so deserves, and I pray that my eyes would be always open, for the lessons that God is sure to teach me during this time of caring for Einstein.

 When I watch Einstein as he plays in the yard, I see a dog that is worried. He is happy, but in his happiness he is quick to glance at me from time to time, to make certain I am still there, he is happy like a kid given an ice cream cone, but one who knows that someone might snatch it away at any moment. He is uncertain. He is a dog that has loved and lost and yet is so willing to love again. He is a good dog. I pray his person is worthy of such a dog.


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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1090762 2016-09-16T17:15:04Z 2016-09-22T14:43:58Z Ode to a Big White Dog………Hektor the Big Tow Griego…..RIP

  Hektor, the Dogo Argentino, was my very first Dogo and a dog that taught me so very much over the many years we had together. On September the 14th, at or around 2:30 PM he passed from this life and left my heart broken yet again for the loss of a dog, a loyal friend and a treasured companion.

  Hektor loved two things dearly, very dearly. One was food…..the other was me.

 Hektor trusted one person…..he wanted to trust others but he always held a little back….but with me he trusted. He would do things that made him anxious, go places that were to him a little scary simply because I asked him to.

 There is a great honor in being trusted by a dog, any dog, regardless of personality, but there is an awesome honor in being trusted by a dog that is anxious or fearful. The weight of that trust weighs like a stone upon my heart today, the weight of the honor you bestowed upon me, your person, for your final journey.

 I saw the anxious look in your eyes as you beheld the veterinarian and her assistant sitting in your living room. I saw the conflict in your eyes as your heart told you, fight or flee……and I know my friend that this was the very hardest thing I had ever ask of you. I had to ask you to be still in the presence of strangers. To ask you to lie quietly on the floor and believe, this one last time that I, the one you trust so, mean only the very best for you.

  In the end you left in peace, and though it broke my heart to see you stretched out, knowing what was to come, it was good to see you totally pain free and resting. You haven’t rested well for some time. That anxious look you wear when we go somewhere scary, or do something that you are uncertain of, was a look you began to wear at home all the time. Pain intensifies anxiety.

 You are free from pain now my old friend, free from the anxiety of it. You have earned your rest time and time again. Thank you for the years of loyalty and trust. Thank you for all the walks we took. Thank you for all the times you trusted me when things looked so scary. You were always brave. One cannot be brave without the presence of fear. You were always brave. I always felt safe with you beside me when we walked out on the mesa together.

I miss you.

Yesterday I came home, and as the garage door opened I naturally looked for your smiling happy dog face and your great thumping tail…….and there was nothing.

 Five PM came and went and there was no reminder that it was dinner time. You always loved breakfast and dinner and you could set the clock by the anxious look on your face if I forgot what time it was.

 Yesterday I took Samson out for a walk along the high mesa. I missed your presence terribly. Missed the security of having the big white dog by my side, missed your steadfastness, for as you know, Samson, though beloved is like a flash of energy that never stops. You always loved to walk right beside me, my hand could brush the top of your back as we walked. I miss you.

  You will be laid to rest next to Miss Keeter, my “bestest” girl. It is right and fitting that you two rest together. But more importantly you will take your place within my heart, buried there for as long as I have breath and walk this earth……..and I will call you as I walk the mesa, and you can take your place along side Snubby, Charlie, Floppy Bear, Gunnar Goodheart and dear Miss Keeter………until the other side my old friend………I miss you!

 “For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps at long and at last. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked and the trees are roaring or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing lost -- if memory lives. But there is one best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all. If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, he will come to you when you call -- come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they should not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he is yours and he belongs there. People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing.

The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.

by Ben Hur Lampman

 

  I would like to thank  Dr Lauryn Spohn and her office at Pawz To Care - Animal Hospital Bernalillo, for their kindness and compassion. They came to my home and they worked very hard to make sure my boy was comfortable and free of pain and anxiety before he passed. I will be forever grateful for that. My boy was never happy at the vet’s office and it would have been so hard to have him go out there. Thank you! Thank you! For all that you did to see him relaxed and comfortable and to allow him to go out in his home.

   Rest in peace Hektor Griego 9/14/2016

  

 Hektor watching us fish.

 Hektor waiting on his favorite thing, FOOD!


  He spent his last day with me, sleeping on the bed, eating chicken and turkey and ice cream.

  I ask my friend to trust me one last time.

“There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of animals. It is a cycle unlike any other. To those who have never lived through its turnings and walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken seems incomprehensible. Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive; our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.”
Suzanne Clothier, Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs

   Here is an old blog post about one of the many important lessons Hektor taught me.

http://allisgrace.posthaven.com/do-not-be-anxious-dot-dot-dot-lessons-from-a-big-white-dog


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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1086322 2016-09-03T17:38:55Z 2016-09-03T18:15:48Z Samson------The Dog I Did Not Choose

  Samson was selected sometime near Christmas of 2010, from a sink full of puppies in a crack house in northern Washington state. My eldest son braved the interior of that desolate house, walked in with his money and paid for a pup, and reached down into that sink and took out Sam. Sam was a gift for his wife Melanie, now deceased.

    The story of how Samson became mine is a long one, and it is filled to the brim with sorrow and loss, so we will just briefly say that he came to live with us for what was to be a short time, but due to the suicide of our daughter in law Melanie he became a permanent fixture in our home.

 I tried to arrange for him to be a service dog for my son, but the memories he invoked were too fresh and too painful. I tried to rehome him with people that I knew would love and care for him, but my son could not stand the thought of him living anywhere but with us. So Samson, the Australian Shepherd, Australian Cattle Dog mix became a permanent part of my pack.

  I am a bully dog person, a large giant dog person. My breeds of preference are the Dogo Argentino (of which I had two when Samson came), South African Boerboels, English Mastiffs, pit bulls, Cane Corsos and such.....you get the picture. Samson was not my kind of dog. He was a nuisance to end all nuisances. He had a zest for life and a heart the size of the bravest Dogo Argentino, but he had a scrawny body, his one defense was his speed, but even that was not sufficient because his heart told him he could take on anything and if that meant two giant Dogo Argentinos then so be it.

  When under duress from his larger pack members, Samson has the ability to blow his hair straight up all over, giving himself the appearance of a small and scrawny black bear. The seriousness of such situations are often dealt with by me while hysterically laughing at the sight. Wish I had a photo of that for you.

  Samson constantly herded the Dogos about the yard, nipping at their heels, barking like a lunatic and often getting attacked for his efforts. His quick evasions saved him several times, but if pinned with no escape he would go into full on scrap mode. Only my constant attentiveness saved him from almost certain death on several occasions. He did loose part of one ear, suffered the occasional puncture wound and a few bruisings from being thrown to the ground like a rag doll by exasperated Dogos.

 To be perfectly honest I didn't really care much for Samson. I kept him, and I cared for him, we allowed him the privilege of sleeping on our bed, I worked with him diligently to curb his desire to herd his fellow giant canines and slowly, over time he crept right into my heart and I just woke up one day, him creeping up to me in bed to be petted, and I realized "I love this little stinker".

  He has taught me a lot.

 Samson lives life fully and completely. There is no quit in him, there is no lounging about with him, if it is daylight and we are up then you can rest assured he is zipping about the house or yard with an energy that is boundless. He hunts ground squirrels, he digs holes to China, he collects every stick to be found, he chases the cat, he herds the dogs. He goes and goes and goes and it is a very rare thing to ever see him resting in the light of day. I purchased a herding ball for him and I have to take it away and lock it up, or he will herd it about the yard until he collapses, even in 100 degree heat. He is relentless.

  Toys must be carefully managed, because if left out Samson will grab them and parade them around before his larger pack members, taunting them with his prize. This too has came close to costing him dearly. But he delights in it. Therefore toys are always put away and only brought out when supervision is available to ensure safety for all.

 He is also brave and courageous. Foolish perhaps, but he does not back down from Dogo dominance. Even knowing the risks if I call the dogs from the kitchen patio door, Samson will bravely run out and assist them in quickly responding to my call (not that they need assistance), even if it means a sound tossing to the ground for his efforts.

 When night comes, and everyone has gone outside to do their business and had their nightly "bedtime bone" treat, Samson will walk straight into the bedroom, jump up on the bed, find his spot at the very bottom corner near my feet and he will barely even move until the clock goes off the next morning. Samson knows how to rest fully after having lived a day fully.

 He never gives up on me, he will bring sticks and twigs and bits of weeds he has ripped from the ground and present them to me with such a look of anticipation and delight upon his face, begging me with ever fiber of his being to toss the object that he might run after it. He is persistent. He will do this for hours if you sit outside for hours. He never gives up hope of getting through to me and perhaps enticing me to play.

  God uses Samson to teach me lessons.

Live life fully!

Work hard!

Play hard!

Be brave in the face of danger!

Do what you were created to do no matter the cost!

Be persistent in prayer, never give up on it.

Know when to rest.

When you sleep, sleep hard, sleep in peace.


  Thank You Lord for Samson, who has become so very dear to my heart. I did not ask for him, I did not really want him. I took him in out of love for my son and out of a desire to ease his pain. And yet what a blessing Samson is to me, what a delight he is. Thank You Lord for Samson.....the dog I did not choose, the dog who is dear to my heart.


 

 

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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1083735 2016-08-25T17:45:19Z 2016-08-26T00:45:49Z Broken Made Beautiful......

  I want to tell you a little bit about my recent journey to the hills of eastern Tennessee and also to the hills of western North Carolina where I was born and raised. It is a story of broken made beautiful and a story of God's great grace and how if we are obedient to Him, if we can step out in faith and love like He wants us to, even when we are afraid that our love might be met with something less, He can and does work miracles. I was a bit afraid to go on this trip. I really didn't want the little bit that I had to be lost and a part of me feared that things might not go as I so hoped that they would.

 There will be missing parts to my tale, for to tell it fully would require a book and to tell it partially might lead to misunderstanding some of the characters of my story and perhaps misjudging them. This story isn't about judgment, it is all about grace.

  To begin I must tell a small part of our history, in order for you to perhaps be able to catch a glimpse of the miracles that I so clearly see occurring. I and my brother were raised by our father in the western foothills of North Carolina. Our mother left when I was very small and she married my father's brother. They had a daughter, my half sister.......and my first cousin....(no, that's not banjo's you hear). Needless to say you can probably imagine that the family was a bit torn regarding these things. My brother, my sister and me all paid a price in that tearing even though it was no fault of ours that these things occurred.

  My sister and I have met perhaps three or four times over the course of 50 years, once when we were children and the rest at various funerals. We have probably had no more than a few minutes to talk each time. We have been friends on Facebook for about three years now and have spoken on the phone once or twice. As for my mother, I believe I have seen her four times since she left and only for very short periods.

 I have always had a desire to know my sister, but circumstances and distance have always been an obstacle, along with my own feelings of inadequacy that kept me from stepping out there, lest it not work out and be a disappointment. I had truly believed that this was something I needed to set aside as chances are it just wasn't going to happen in this lifetime.

 My sister's fiftieth birthday was approaching and her family wanted very much to surprise her with something special. As it turns out she is a lot like me so that wasn't an easy thing. She doesn't get much excited about jewelry and clothes and such so they had their task cut out for them. It had came up in conversation how much she would like to have some time to spend with me, her and I had mentioned on our Facebook how we would love to be able to sit on the porch and chat someday. So they decided to purchase tickets and present her with me as her fiftieth birthday present. It was a new experience for me. I had never been someone's birthday present before!

  I was both excited and apprehensive about the trip. The excitement won out, for as I said earlier I had always wished for more time with my sister, time to sit and talk, time to get to know each other. Finally the day arrived and I boarded the plane to begin my journey. I won't bore you with the details of that journey from New Mexico to that beautiful Tennessee valley surrounded by rolling hills, needless to say I arrived safely.

 Her daughter surprised her by having her read a birthday card aloud while she faced the wall, I slipped in during the middle of this and stood waiting for her to turn around. She was surprised. Totally surprised. We both cried.

 And thus began a whirlwind of four days of hysterical laughter, some beautiful tears, many long talks, a lot of cigar smoking (probably too much cigar smoking) and a couple of fake tattoos (which in retrospect were probably a mistake on both our parts). We walked all over the North Carolina and Tennessee mountains and all over the city of Gatlinburg. I was able to spend time with her beautiful family and get to know them. We spent an entire day with my brother and we visited with his family, and I had the second hottest Prawns Diablo in my life, believe it or not they were served in a Mexican restaurant in North Carolina. Who would have thought!

  And of course nothing is ever complete in my life without some animals in it, so here's to Scooter, Trixie, Socks and Bullseye who all shared their canine kindness with me, and here's to Bessie 1-47, the kindly cows who tolerated my early morning conversations in the fields near my sister's home.

  But the real beauty of the entire trip was getting to know my sister, to find that she was very much like me, almost eerily so seeing how she was raised by our mother and I was not. During this four day period, God took all the brokenness between us, brokenness that was not of our doing and he forged a relationship. It is like I have known her always, and although I already loved her, she has now become quite precious to me. It was amazing how well everything went, how it was as if we had always known each other, and we marveled at how much alike we were. It was a bit like finding out you have a twin. I will forever treasure this time we had together. It was dear to me and in truth there simply are not the words to adequately capture what those four days meant to me.

  And I experienced another miracle of  broken made beautiful when I met and spent some time with my mother. I really did not want to, to be honest, it was just so much easier to keep these things at a distance less one be disappointed. I harbored no ill will towards her but I was accustomed to not having her in my life and content to continue it that way. But God kept pressing me that I needed to see her. In obedience to Him I did so, and I was greatly surprised when my eyes beheld this beautiful lady, with white hair, and her blouse all a sparkle, and I loved her. All that had transpired in the past was finished and my heart was filled with love for this woman who had given birth to me. We were able to talk and laugh and I greatly enjoyed the short time we spent together.

 The trip was amazing, it was renewing, it was beautiful in so many ways, a lot of it cannot be explained here in a blog post, as it's deeply personal to the parties involved, but suffice to say that it was a miraculous gift from a gracious God and I am in awe of all that He accomplished in my life and the lives of others during this short trip back home.

I have a sister......I have always had her, but now I know her and we have a relationship and she is beautiful, and wonderful and I love her to death. She now knows that she has a sister and a brother and hopefully she knows that she is as much a part of us as if she had come up along side us in all the hard times we endured growing up. She is family. The only regrets, the only sorrow that I have from this trip is that we all waited so darn long to get together, yet even in this I believe God orchestrated it all and His timing is perfect.

 


  Here are just a few of my photos from my trip that capture some of the physical beauty of all the places we went. From the view from my sister's front porch, to the North Carolina mountains I saw the majesty of God's creation, but the most beautiful thing will ever be the wonderful mosaic that God created from our brokenness. He does indeed make the broken beautiful.




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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1070994 2016-07-08T14:53:12Z 2016-07-08T14:59:12Z Longing for Home

    Have you ever stood in awe of something? Ever had those moments where your heart is struck with wonder and joy and for the briefest of moments you feel as if you are about to finally grasp some great and profound truth only to have it fade to the edges of your mind, where you have to struggle and wrestle to bring it forth long enough to really ponder what it even was?

    Moments when you stand by a beautiful mountain lake, listening to the wind through the trees and gazing in awe at the beauty of it all and for a second, you have a feeling, that you cannot quite put words to, it is both perfect, and peace all wrapped up in joy, and in an instant the fullness of it has passed.

   Or perhaps you are gathered about the table, with the ones you love most, and you look upon their faces as they talk and laugh and for a second that feeling rushes in, of a perfect love, and a peace you cannot describe and a sense of rightness, of knowing that this, this right here, this fleeting second is how's it's all supposed to be. And as fast as you grasped hold it is gone again, leaving you with such a longing that it near takes your breath away.

  I call those moments glimpses of heaven, and the aftermath of them is longing for home.. Those moments when through the dark mirror of sin and  brokenness we for a second glimpse so briefly and so imperfectly the real beauty, the real love and peace and perfection that God intended for mankind, before we turned it all into one big hot mess.

 We all have memories of home, memories of the place where we perhaps felt most safe and at peace, memories of childhood where we ran through grassy meadows and we laughed and we had not a care in the world. They differ with everyone. The nostalgic longing for home may be for a place, it may or may not be the place of your childhood, it may be a person or a time, but we all long for it. We all want to go home. The trouble is the feelings are hard to put words to, and the place, that home we are searching for is often not even understood fully by us, even though we are the ones longing for it. And when we try and go back to that physical place, or that time where we believe home was at we find something missing.

 "......it is when he comes home that he recognizes most poignantly that he is, at a deep level of his being, homeless, and whatever it is that is missing, he will spend the rest of his days longing for it and seeking to find it."Frederick Buechner

  For me, those perfect moments, or perfect seconds, because often they do not last very long, are moments where I see a tiny sample, an imperfect sample, like a child's drawing of Disney World would not come close to equaling the reality of Disney World, of the wonder that God has in store for those who believe. For a brief second I catch a glimpse of home, my true home. Those glimpses make me yearn, with a deep and even painful yearning for the reality of that place, for the eternity of that place.

  Just as the moments of wonder and awe, the moments of love and peace create in me a yearning for home, so do the moments of despair. In the dark times the mirror is black, and I see no reflection of home, no sign of how things were meant to be, I see only how they are. I see the brokenness, the grief and despair, the death and destruction and bitter disappointment. When earthly hope is crushed it leaves only that yearning, a desperate yearning for home. This yearning, the one that comes in the dark times is a heavier yearning. A pressed down feeling, where you can only raise your eyes to the heavens and whisper "come Lord Jesus", where your eyes, for the moment lose the ability to see any beauty in the ugliness around you, you see instead only the brokenness of it all and in that desperate brokenness you just long so heavily for home.

 The older I get the more I yearn for home, and the more I fully understand that home is where Jesus is. The glimpses of light and grace I see in the earthly home I now live in, and in the faces of the ones I love on those brief moments when all is well, and in the beauty of the flowers, the mountains and the bright blue sky are only poor reflections of what He intended when he spoke it all into being and are only poor and dim glimpses of what He has in store for me on that day when I at last get to go home. 

  Frederick Buechner describes a moment when he and his family were at SeaWorld and where they experience one of those moments, one of those glimpses of heaven that brought tears to his eyes, and to the eyes of his family who were with him. He writes:

 "We shed tears because we had caught a glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom and it had almost broken our hearts. For a few moments we had seen Eden and been part of the great dance that goes on at the heart of creation. We shed tears because we were given a glimpse of the way life was created to be and is not. We had seen why it was the "the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy" when the world was first made, as the book of Job describes it and of what it was that made Paul write, even when he was in prison and on his way to execution, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice." We had had a glimpse of part at least of what Jesus meant when He said "Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh".

 The world is full of darkness, but what I think we caught sight of .............was that at the heart of darkness-----whoever would have believed it?---there is a joy unimaginable. The world does bad things to us all, and we do bad things to the world and to each other and maybe most of all to ourselves, but in that dazzle of bright water as the glittering whales hurled themselves into the sun, I believe what we saw was that joy is what we belong to Joy is home, and I believe the tears that came to our eyes were more than anything else homesick tears. God created us in joy and created us for joy, and in the long run not all the darkness there is in the world or in ourselves can separate us finally from that joy, because whatever else it means to say that God created us in His image, I think it means that even when we cannot believe in Him, even when we feel most spiritually bankrupt and deserted by Him, His mark is deep within us. We have God's joy in our blood" Frederick Buechner's  Secrets in the Dark “The Great Dance,”

 

 This morning as I write these words my heart longs for home. Home is where Jesus is, and were I only able to sit on the outskirts of heaven and view Him from a distance, were that all that was promised and no more could be hoped for, that would be enough and I would be content. I want to see Him, I want to fellowship with Him, I want to depend entirely and completely on Him, I want to run my race well for Him, I want to trust Him more fully, love Him more truly and place all my hope and expectations upon Him and Him alone. Home is where Jesus is. I try, sometimes with desperation, to create that home here on earth, or at least a child's drawing of it. I fail constantly in that attempt and I am so very often broken and discouraged when it all goes wrong.

  Jesus is "my hope and stay" and everything else I hope in, everything else that my expectations are placed upon, falls short, disappoints and ultimately leaves me empty and yearning for that which I cannot quite put words to......longing for home.....glimpses of heaven.

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You're my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You



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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1067067 2016-06-25T18:45:58Z 2016-06-25T18:45:58Z Holding on to the Moments

  Someone that I love once told me of a near death experience, of a moment when he thought for certain he was going to die. He said the sky never looked so vivid blue, and the air in his lungs felt so fresh and wonderful. In a matter of moments many memories went through his head as he recalled his family and how much he loved them. It is amazing how vivid the everyday normal things around him were, and how beautiful, even in that dark place where he was at. All brought to vivid display and all written forever into his memory because death was at the door. 

 Why is it that the bad things always get stuck in our heads. We remember things that frighten us, things that break our hearts, and these memories often lead us to fear for we are terrified of reliving them.

 What if we made an effort to hold onto the mundane moments, to savor the everyday normal that we so often take for granted? Personally I believe this is perhaps a very important thing that we so seldom do.

 A few nights ago I sat on our back porch as a storm blew through. The wind was whipping through my hair, the mist from the falling rain was hitting my skin and the smell of the cold rain hitting the scorched hot earth was intoxicating. I had seen many a thunderstorm in my 56 years but for some reason this one was memorable. It was memorable because I savored it. I consciously took in the feeling of the wind, the feeling of the rain, the scent in the air, how the clouds roiled in the sky and the thunder shook the heavens. I reveled in it, and in reveling in it I was transported from a mundane ordinary moment to something beautiful.

 When my oldest son first deployed to war and we took him to the airport to say goodbye, I can still remember the scent of him, the feel of him as I hugged him tight. I can vividly recall these things. I had hugged him thousands of times over the years, I had enjoyed those hugs, I took delight in those hugs, but on this occasion I savored it. I took it in for there was a part of me so afraid that I might never again be given the privilege of holding him close. Hugging a loved one is a mundane normal everyday moment. But what if we took it to the level of savoring every hug, as if it were the very last one, what if we did that every day?

 There is a beautiful butterfly bush in my back yard, it is a favorite of mine and I have looked at it's blooms many times, rejoiced in it's beauty many times but recently I examined it carefully. I examined the large blooms that are made up of hundreds of tiny perfect purple flowers all molded into the large purple blooms that I can see from my back porch. I breathed it in, and for the first time noticed that my beautiful butterfly bush has a scent to it's blooms. It left me in awe of the wonderful detail that goes into that ordinary bush, a bush that sits in thousands of yards, a bush I have beheld for many summers, even rejoiced in many summers, and yet a bush that I had failed to completely take in.

 As Ann Voskamp once said, "we only have this one moment", this moment right now that we are living and breathing in. The next breath is not promised, the next sunrise is not promised, the next hug is not promised.....nothing is certain except this one moment right now. So breathe it in, breathe it in deep. Savor it. Whether it's a thunderstorm, a hug from a loved one, or a flower, or perhaps it is just you in the kitchen cooking dinner and feeling a bit frazzled....whatever it is, slow down, consider for a moment. What if this is the last sunrise, the last hug, the last time you ever have to cook dinner for them?

 There is so much beauty in the everyday mundane, so much holiness in the daily ordinary things. We need to seek it, look for it, live with eyes wide open to it....else we miss it entirely and in missing it we miss the wonder of it all.

 Take it all in, speak out in gratitude for all that you see, all that you sense and smell and taste that is good.

 In thinking of these things I pause and give thanks for the mundane moments of my own life:

For the old dog laying quietly at my feet, who lives and breathes to please me........

For the husband who left this morning to do work on one of our vehicles, how I often take him for granted, how lost I would be without him.......

For the younger son and his smiling face as he stands next to his beautiful girl friend, and for the fun he is having on his first excursion half way across the country...........

For the older son relaxing today in his home, for his life and the fact that he is with us, that he did not die...........

For the window that I am gazing out of now, as I write these words, for those beautiful mountains that take my breath away near every day, for the plants and flowers and their beauty........

And for so very much more.............I am grateful.......I breath it all in........and savor it........Lord help us to be people who breath it all in, who savor the moments, who see the beauty.

  " The lover’s smile in the morning, the child’s laughter down the slide, the elder’s eyes at eventide: this is for you. And the earth under your feet, the rain over your face upturned, the stars spinning all round you in the brazen glory: this is for you, you, you. These are for you—gifts—these are for you—grace—these are for you—God, so count the ways He loves, a thousand, more, never stop, that when you wake in the morning you can’t help turn humbly to the east, unfold your hand to the heavens, and though you tremble and though you wonder, though the world is ugly, it is beautiful, and you can slow and you can trust and you can receive each moment as grace. Eucharisteo. " Ann Voskamp

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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1060618 2016-06-07T03:01:03Z 2016-06-07T03:01:03Z Much Loved By God

Pastor Adam has been preaching through the book of Daniel and last Sunday he touched on the last few chapters of that book. I've been pondering upon those last few chapters as there were many things that leapt out at me during the pastor's sermon. You see, I am a worrier, a caregiver. If someone I care about is off kilter in life, if they are sad, or in trouble, or sick or in danger, well everything in my life becomes off kilter and I fret. Some of this is good, it drives me to pray, and it is always good to pray, but some of it is not so good. Jesus was very clear in His teaching about being afraid and about worry. He plainly instructed me not to worry, and told me straight not to be afraid.

  As I was listening to the message a passage in Chapter 10 leapt out. Where the angel is addressing Daniel and says "O Daniel, man greatly loved" Daniel 10:11 and then a bit later he says "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. "Daniel 10:12

 O man greatly loved! What a beautiful statement! Daniel, living in exile, one mere man amongst many and yet he is GREATLY loved by God! And then it hits me, I too am greatly loved by God! Our good God loves all His children! Isn't that an amazing and awesome thing! And then those powerful words......from the moment you set your heart to understand.........your words have been heard! What glorious wonder that the God who spoke all things into being, the God who holds all things together, HEARS our words!

 No wonder we are told to FEAR NOT! No wonder we are told NOT TO WORRY!

  And then a little later the angel says "O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage." Daniel 10:19

   I like how the Message translation renders Daniel 10:19......"Don't be afraid, friend. Peace. Everything is going to be all right. Take courage. Be strong.'

 Everything is going to be all right.......as someone I love who has since gone on to be with Jesus once said to me in a dream......."don't worry Ma, everything's gonna be alright, in fact it's gonna be more than alright."

    I imagine it is always going to be hard to watch people suffer, especially the ones I know and love. That isn't going to change, I don't think I would want it to, but when they are hurting my job is to pray, to love, to comfort, to speak words of truth, to come alongside, to help carry the load.....but it isn't my job to worry and fret. I need to trust God. You do too. He is trustworthy. There is nothing too big for Him to handle.

 He is the God who shuts the mouths of hungry lions.

 He is the God who steps into the burning furnace with us.

 He is the God who brings about exactly what He intends to bring about.

 He is good.

 He is trustworthy.

 Don't be afraid. 

 


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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1045230 2016-05-17T18:27:08Z 2016-05-17T18:27:08Z Rainy Day Reflections

A rainy day, clouds cover the mountain,

She arose, much like she always has

greeted by dogs with thumping tails

Another day, another morning.

The gift of life and breath and feeling.


She is slow, her brain sluggish

A slow learner, despite His efforts to teach

But she is learning

She is beginning to see that many things thought to be awful

Are indeed gifts from His hand.


Were everything as she wanted it to be

were the coffers overflowing with gold

were the ones she loves so decked in finery

with wineglasses in hand

drinking deep from all this world offers.


Were these things so where would she be?

She would be ignorant of grace

Bereft of thanksgiving

Lost in a world of decadant plenty and unaware

of the Giver of grace.


With sorrow He has taught her

With grief she has grown

With fear she has been driven to her knees

Trials she has no hope of overcoming

Drive her to the Overcomer of Trials. 

  She is content.

   She waits in peace.

      For He is enough........

       ......and it's all grace.






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Donna Griego
tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1052146 2016-05-17T13:17:53Z 2016-05-17T13:18:38Z 50 States of Cast Iron......New Mexico

    A dear Facebook friend pulled me into a very interesting project called 50 States of Cast Iron.  A particular cast iron pan, christened Wilson, has been traveling about the country from state to state and I was given the opportunity to host him for my beloved state of New Mexico. He will be hosted in all 50 states and then his recipe book will be published and the proceeds will go to charity.

  Awesome idea and as far as I know it is the brainchild of the owner of Wilson, a man named Josh Wilemon.

  Wilson arrived in New Mexico last week with his notebook containing recipes from each of the states that he has visited thus far. Today he will be packed up and sent on his way to the great state of Michigan. Thank you for dropping in to visit with us Wilson and may all your travels be blessed with good food and great company.

For our time with Wilson and our submitted recipe in his book we used the following recipe. It was my first time cooking this and it came out awesome! This is one that I will for certain be cooking again and I give thanks to the original poster for sharing this delicious recipe!

The link to the  original recipe can be found at the bottom of this post. We modified it slightly and here is the exact recipe we used to cook in Wilson.

Southwestern Chicken and Sweet Potato Skillet.

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil. I used Harissa Infused olive oil from the Albuquerque Olive Oil Company.
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 Teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons New Mexico Hatch chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 10 ounces frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced, divided
  • 1 (10 ounce) can rotel tomatoes with green chilies
  • 4 New Mexico Hatch green chilies
  • 1 - 1½ cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, plus more to top
  • 1½ cups shredded monterrey jack cheese
  • Guacamole, to top, optional
  • Directions
    1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken to the skillet cook until browned but not cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the chicken from heat and set aside.
    2. Heat the remaining tablespoons of oil in the skillet. Once hot, add in the sweet potato and brown, about 12-14 minutes.
    3. Add the garlic, seasonings, corn, bell peppers, and half of the green onions to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add in the tomatoes with green chilies and 1 cup chicken stock. Return the chicken to the skillet and stir well to combine.
    4. Cook for 5 more minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and a tablespoon of water to form a slurry. Add the cornstarch to the liquid in the skillet, mix in the black beans and cilantro, and cook until the sauce has thickened and the black beans are warmed. If the mixture is too thick, add up to ½ cup more of chicken stock.
    5. Set oven to broil. Top the skillet with the shredded cheese and broil until the cheese is melted and just beginning to turn golden in spots.
    6. Sprinkle the skillet with additional green onion and cilantro. Serve warm and top with guacamole and or sour cream.
    7. Serve with tortillas.  

    :
    http://hostthetoast.com/southwestern-chicken-and-sweet-potato-skillet/

        Wilson spent his off time hanging out with our beloved and well used cast iron pan. The view from our kitchen and dining room looks out upon the beautiful Sandia Mountains of New Mexico. I think he has enjoyed the view and the conversation.


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    Donna Griego
    tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1045201 2016-05-06T01:16:23Z 2016-05-06T01:16:23Z Mother's Day

     

     Disclaimer: If you are reading this and you are not my sons nor my husband then please use caution in following my thoughts. Not everyone thinks of diamonds as just rocks. To use my thoughts in determining your own Mother's Day gift purchase could be hazardous to your health. Please use caution.

    What does mom want for Mother's Day?

    Flowers wilt and dry out and go into the trash can. If you must purchase flowers please get a plant for the garden.

    Diamonds are only rocks. If you want to get me rocks then pick them up while out hiking and hunting and bring them home to me. I love garden rocks much more than diamonds. I have already lost one diamond so if anyone ever gets me another one it has to be large enough to place out in the garden so I don't lose it.

    I have all the jewelry I want. The wedding ring that never leaves my finger, the cross necklace that never leaves my neck, a couple of arm baubles and of course my engagement ring that sits in a box with it's gaping hole because the stupid rock fell out! (See! This is proof that I do not need diamonds, unless of course you are buying the garden variety mentioned above).

    Chocolate is good but it makes me fat. You may purchase some because I really do love it, but please don't spend a lot. Costco has awesome dark chocolate covered almonds for 10 bucks! A MASSIVE BAG!........to be perfectly honest I do not need any as I have a giant bag in the pantry.

    I don't really care for spa days, for me a spa day is soaking in my own tub with Epson salts.

    Eating out is nice but sadly everyone and their mother (literally) will be out doing that.....you know how I dislike crowds.

    Guns are sweet but in truth I really do not need any, after all you guys have plenty to go around. (Note: I have two guns, one was actually a Mother's Day gift and the other was a Christmas present!)

    Books are awesome but you all know I have too many of those already although it has always been my belief that you can never have too many books.

    Dogs are the best! But when the time comes I will pick my own.........and luvie, remember that you can never have too many dogs either......no idea why people thing diamonds are a girl's best friend.

    So what is it that mom wants most for Mother's Day?

    She wants to see your smiles.

    She wants to feel your hugs.

    She wants to hear your laughter.

    She wants to know that you are okay.

    She wants you to be as safe as God allows (cause she knows sometimes God calls us to unsafe things).

    But most of all, more than anything else, more than all the gifts that could be given, she wants you to know and follow King Jesus.

    "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

    "but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. "

    "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments."

    "to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,"

    In knowing Him there is assurance of all things that a mother most worries about for her children. In knowing Him there is peace, in knowing Him there is a sense of having accomplished the purpose for which He called me to be a mother.

    "He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
    Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

    The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
    The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

    The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
    The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore."

      So please do not rush out buying things just because it is Mother's Day. Just be okay, love God and do your best to follow him. Give me hugs and laugh with me when time and circumstance permit. The greatest gift I have ever been given is the two fine sons I have. They will always be my two greatest Mother's Day gifts. On top of that blessing I have been blessed with a man who is my friend and companion for over 30 years. What more could a woman possibly want or need for Mother's Day.

     Being a mom is a calling. I have done many things right, but I have also failed in many things. Fortunately God is a great Redeemer of our failures.

    " Live the gospel in the things that no one sees. Sacrifice for your children in places that only they will know about. Put their value ahead of yours. Grow them up in the clean air of gospel living. Your testimony to the gospel in the little details of your life is more valuable to them than you can imagine. If you tell them the gospel, but live to yourself, they will never believe it. Give your life for theirs every day, joyfully. Lay down pettiness. Lay down fussiness. Lay down resentment about the dishes, about the laundry, about how no one knows how hard you work.

    Stop clinging to yourself and cling to the cross. There is more joy and more life and more laughter on the other side of death than you can possibly carry alone."  From "Motherhood is a Calling, Desiring God.org

    He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.


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    Donna Griego
    tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1044326 2016-04-30T15:28:45Z 2016-04-30T20:27:19Z Oh My Suffering Friend!

     

     My heart goes out to the suffering ones, people bent low and doubled over by the weight of the things heaped upon them. Souls doing all that they know how, to lay those burdens at the feet of the Yoke Bearer and yet the pressing down is hard, it is constant, it seems relentless and to earthly eyes there is no end in sight. I have a great love for the "hopeless" ones. They are family.

     Hope is an interesting word. We use it a lot. We may pray about things but more often than not we do so having a plan. We may pray about our finances, asking God to help us get out of debt, but we do so with a plan in mind of how we are going to use the funds we know are coming to make this hope come true. We pray for someone but as we are praying we are thinking about all the things we can do to help them out. We are forming a plan, we will try this program or that program, we will take them to this church or that one, we will make appointments with this doctor or that one, we will talk to this person or that one about getting them the help they need.........we are most always working to make our hopes come to pass.

     I am beginning to see and believe that real biblical hope is when there is no plan, there are no more resources to use, no more places to go, there is nothing, not one thing that you can do to bring your hope to pass. Every single thing you have done to try and make it come to pass has come to naught, or even worse it has made things harder. There is not one thing you can do to bring back what has been lost, to restore things to how you most want them to be..........To be in that place when all you can do is take in one more labored breath, wipe away one more set of tears, kneel once more at the feet of the Yoke Bearer and cry out Lord, have mercy. It's a terrible place to be in, and yet it is a safe place to be in, for when there are no human hands to help, there is no earthly way to change things, there is no place to run to for assistance, there is no money coming, there is no cure, there is no hope...we find hope in the knowledge that there is a Savior, there is One who knows, who sees, who hears our weak cries. And to be His child, to be in His hands, to await His mercy, to trust in His outcome is the safest and surest place in the entire universe to be...........to be without earthly hope is not an easy place to be but a sure and certain Hope is found there. His name is Jesus.

     I know you want things to be better, you want the ones you love to be okay, to know that they will have days of sunshine and peace and prosperity, that they will be happy, loved and accepted, that the bank account will have enough to pay the bills and fill the table and maybe once or twice enough for a little extra treat. To feel some relief from the relentless grief and sorrow that burdens your heart so! It doesn't seem like too much to ask for, it's what I want most too. I can't promise you that all this will come to pass here on this earth. I pray it will, I am sure enough to believe there will be moments when these things are so, but I just don't know if we will ever reach that place where we can sit and look around us and watch the ones we love just laugh and smile and dance in the sun and live happily ever after. Not here on this earth anyway.

     But the truth of the matter is we both know, this isn't our home, and we don't want it to ever be their home either. To call this world home is to say that everything here is the best it will ever get, and we both know that ain't so. Maybe our dancing comes later, and maybe the moments we have here from time to time are just practice for when the dance is forever. When we reach that place, when the last prayer is wept out into tear soaked fingers, when the time comes that our weak and shaky legs will not lift us up off the floor even one last time, when the moment comes that we pass from this place into the next........it will be there before Him that we will dance, that everlasting joy will spring forth, that our tears will be forever replaced with laughter, it will be there that we will find once and forever that elusive happiness that we have chased all our days. And it is there when we will see and know how He has used our sorrows, our oceans of tears and our weaknesses for His glory and for the good of us and the ones we love. And as we all, from every tribe and nation gather about Him, we will look around at the multitude of faces and we will see the ones we have agonized over..........and we will count it worth every moment of fear, every moment of loss, every step of suffering that we have come to this moment.

     We are not of this world, we are in it. As we run the race, may we take note of the many ways He bless us, the gifts of grace He grants and when we cannot see may we hold fast to what we have seen in the past. “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” And as we move forward, sometimes in what feels inch by inch, may we keep our eyes ever on Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

     He is enough. Hold on my friend, hold on.....we will hold on together! Rejoice for our hope is in Him and in Him alone! He is enough!

    Romans 15:13 - Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

    Psalms 126:5 - They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

      In closing I just want you to know that you are beautiful! Your soul shines like the rising sun as it peaks over the Sandia Mountains! It is colored in beautiful shades of yellow, gold and orange with white beams bursting out into the sky!. I see Jesus in you, I see Him in your suffering and in your laughter.

     It's gonna be okay, we will reach that distant shore, and He is faithful, the ones we love so are going to reach it too! See with His eyes, it's so hard I know, Lord knows that I only catch a glimpse from time to time, but strive hard for those glimpses of grace. He is working, in all this mess in which we now stand He is not sleeping!

     Dance when you can, sing as much as possible!  Rejoice in the sunrise, give thanks in its setting, behold the flowers and inhale their scent, listen to the sounds of children playing, read His word, pray like there is no tomorrow, even if the only prayer you can summon is "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy." Thanksgiving is so often in the very small things, the often unseen things. Preaching gospel to myself and to you!

    I love you my friend!

    It’s hard to stand on shifting sand
    It’s hard to shine in the shadows of the night
    You can’t be free if you don’t reach for help
    You can’t love if you don't love yourself

    There is hope when my faith runs out
    Cause I’m in better hands now

    It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
    It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
    So take this heart of mine there’s no doubt
    I’m in better hands now

    I am strong all because of you
    I stand in awe of every mountain that you move
    Oh I am changed, yesterday is gone
    I am safe from this moment on

    There’s no fear when the night comes ’round
    I’m in better hands now

    It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
    It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
    So take this heart of mine there’s no doubt
    I’m in better hands now

    It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
    It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
    Its like the world is silent though I know it isnt true
    Its like the breath of Jesus is right here in this room

    So take this heart of mine there’s no doubt
    I’m in better hands now
    I’m in better hands now




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    Donna Griego
    tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1029397 2016-04-08T23:05:34Z 2016-04-08T23:55:32Z Forgiveness

      I was sitting quietly, trying desperately to pray about some things that weigh so heavy on my heart today. Old wounds reopened, salt poured in. I so very much want to rage against it all. I don't understand it. I am angry and I am hurt and I so very much want to engage in battle, to rend and tear and strike out, to demean and to belittle, to use all those skills that I was once a master of, to utterly break someone, to steal their manhood and their pride and turn it to dust and ashes. I want to mock, to ridicule.......I want to repay an eye for an eye......or let's be brutally honest here. I want to do the human thing, an eye was taken, nothing less than an eye and an ear and an arm will do in return.

     I hate feeling like this, I hate when that old me rises up. She loves a good fight, she is very good at returning evil for evil. I don't like her at all, and yet I yearn to embrace her today. The battle rages as I try to pray.

      I hear the battle cry in my heart. My cause is righteous, my hurt is real. I want to lash out, strike back, and I bounce like a ping pong ball between outrage and despair. We have come so far, through so much sorrow, it just isn't fair. People can be so awful, so ugly, never understanding the power of their words or just how much damage they can do, and sadly sometimes not even caring. It's not fair. I pray and I pray and I cry......why Lord?

     And as I pray slowly and quietly a song begins to play in my head.

    " It’s the hardest thing to give away
    And the last thing on your mind today
    It always goes to those that don’t deserve"

       Oh Lord, I really do not want You to play that song for me today. Please not today.........and it plays on..............and I cry at the words.......

     "It’s the opposite of how you feel
    When the pain they caused is just too real
    It takes everything you have just to say the word…"

      I do not know if I can say it Lord. Is thinking about it sufficient for now? Is working through it enough for the moment?

    "Forgiveness"

     
    "Forgiveness"

       And I remember the words I read just last night, of the servant who owed his lord a vast sum of money. so much money that he could never repay, how that servant kneeled before his lord and begged for time to repay the huge debt.........and the lord forgave him. Stood him right up and said go, you owe me NOTHING. It's all forgiven, its all wiped out, the slate is clean. Every last penny has been accounted for.

      And the man went away. I bet he was dancing! I bet he was leaping and dancing and celebrating! He had been in debt so deep that he would never ever dig out, and in one small moment every single bit of it was forgiven and he was FREE!

     And then he came across a fellow servant who owed him a few bucks. He demanded his payment. It was his right to do so, this man OWED him! "Pay me right now or its off to jail for you!" he said. The man begged for mercy but he would not hear him and sent him away in chains.

     When the lord heard of this he was very upset, had he not forgiven a huge debt, a debt so large that this man would never have been able to pay it, and now here this servant was demanding the life and freedom of a fellow servant for a few bucks? Needless to say the lord did not deal nicely with that servant who refused to forgive his brother.

      I once owed a debt that I could not repay. Were I to do all the good works in the world for all of my moments and all of my days from the very first until the day I die I would not be able to make a dent in the debt I owed. I once owed a debt that I could NEVER repay. I was doomed to die, the chain of that debt wrapped around my soul, a chain I could not escape from, a chain I rightly deserved for my failure to pay the great debt I owed.............and He forgave it, He paid it all, every last piece of it, He paid the debt for my sins, struck the chains that held me in bondage and made me free.

     And here I sit with a desire in my heart to see another bound in chains and beaten and imprisoned until he has paid every last piece of the hurt he has inflicted............how dare I. I have not the right. Instead I should be shouting out LORD, LORD, SET HIM FREE TOO! Set us all free!

      The song played on........and the tears continued to fall as I listened to it......


     " It flies in the face of all your pride
    It moves away the mad inside
    It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
    Even when the jury and the judge
    Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
    It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’'

      Oh Lord my pride, my foolish pride, and the mad inside, it is so very difficult, surely Lord You understand why it is so difficult? You know the price, you know what this cost, what it might cost...... Lord I want to be the jury and the judge though it is not my right to be, it just seems so unfair, it seems so wrong, surely I have a right to hold a grudge?

     And the song plays on.......

    "Forgiveness, Forgiveness
    Forgiveness, Forgiveness"

    " Show me how to love the unlovable"    Oh Lord please show me!
    "Show me how to reach the unreachable"  Oh Lord please show me!
    "Help me now to do the impossible"   Oh Lord help me!

     And the song plays on............and I am conflicted between my righteous outrage, my hurt, my sorrow, my pain........and the still small voice that asks me to define who is broken........I am broken........he is broken.......we are all broken.....

     And the song plays on...........................................................................

     "Forgiveness, Forgiveness"

    " Help me now to do the impossible"  It's not possible, you just do not understand the magnitude of what has happened, nor the cost we will pay because of it? Were you to know perhaps you would weep along with me.......or worse perhaps you would not care at all what you have done.......it isn't possible.......it isn't possible.......with man it isn't possible, but with God all things are possible.

    And the song plays on.....................................................


     "Forgiveness"

    It’ll clear the bitterness away.............................Oh Lord I want it gone!
    It can even set a prisoner free...........................Oh Lord I want to be free, but I want the ones I love to be free too!
    There is no end to what it’s power can do..........I believe Lord, help my unbelief!
    So, let it go and be amazed...............................I want to Lord, help me, help me! I let it go and I snatch it back again! Lord help me!
    By what you see through eyes of grace.............Oh Lord Your grace, I so need Your grace, I am weak and injured, I am so very tired and weary. Lord help me to see with eyes of grace instead of eyes of anger and wounded pain.


     The prisoner that it really frees is you................Lord, might I be so bold as to ask for my freedom, the freedom of the ones I love who were also hurt.........and the freedom of the one who did the hurting?

     And the song plays on..........................................

     "Forgiveness, Forgiveness
    Forgiveness, Forgiveness

    Show me how to love the unlovable
    Show me how to reach the unreachable
    Help me now to do the impossible
    Forgiveness"

    I want to finally set it free.................Lord I do want to set it free, Lord I want to see You make this into something beautiful!
    So show me how to see what Your mercy sees...........Lord show me Your mercy!
    Help me now to give what You gave to me.................Lord help me to give what You gave to me!
    Forgiveness, Forgiveness

        Lord help me, I know that You bring beauty from ashes, I know that You take the broken and the awful and You make them into beauty. I know You redeem the hard things and You bring good from the bad things we endure. Lord I believe.

     Lord bring Your mercy.

    ]]>
    Donna Griego
    tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1015531 2016-03-17T21:48:11Z 2016-03-17T23:03:02Z Two Women...........

    The plight of two women is what haunts me. Two women whose faces I have never seen and who I cannot describe even one feature.  If I were to see them face to face I would not recognize them, and yet they haunt me.

     They are women trapped in a goldfish bowl, they scream, they cry out but the world outside the bowl in which they reside moves on, oblivious to their plight, their screams go unheard.

     It brings back memories of another woman long ago, who felt as if she were trapped in a goldfish bowl of violence. She was alone in her fear and in her pain. She used to sit at the window of her home on a beautiful sunny day and look out, and watch the people going about their lives oblivious to her plight.

     As she was face down on the floor and the punches and kicks were falling upon her, she would find herself thinking about how that old couple next door are probably sitting down to dinner, a very pleasant dinner where she asks how his day was and he regels her with stories and she laughs and laughs…..and they both are oblivious to the cries from the fish bowl.

      She sits in the corner of the room as he holds the shotgun to her face; she’s long past fear now, just resigned to the facts. As he raves and shouts and threatens, she sees the lights of the cars going past and thinks of the people going to and fro. Some are going out to eat, some are on their way home, their radios are on, and they are bopping in time to the music, oblivious to the scene going on inside the fishbowl.

     She was set free one day, by someone who loved her, someone who finally managed to see through the thick glass of the fishbowl she lived in. But who will set these two women free?

     Perhaps they are free already, perhaps they have paid for their crimes with their lives, perhaps for them the nightmare has ended and the goldfish bowl that trapped them lies shattered in a pool of their blood. The thing that haunts me most is that I will never know.

     You see, these two women, these brave two women reside in Al-Raqqu, Syria under the leadership and oppression of DAESH (also known as ISIS). They risked their lives to show the world what life inside the goldfish bowl of Sharia law under DAESH is like. They carried hidden cameras under their black tents; they did so in spite of the fact that had DAESH noticed this, had they been caught, they would have been subjected to a most terrible death.

       As you watch their video you notice that you cannot see even the slightest bit of skin on any of the women. They are covered head to toe in black, like some great tent that enfolds about them and they look sort of like those PACMAN ghosts in the old video game, a blob with eyes peeking out.

     Their video shows them moving about the city, dressed in their tents. They speak of terrible things, of killings and beatings and of fear and oppression. Amongst all that it seems rather strange to me that one of the most powerful parts of the video is nothing more than a beauty supply rack containing hair dye. A harmless enough item, used by women all over the world, and yet in this video it too represents the oppression they live under. Depicted is a rack of hair dye filled with a variety of colors and each and every box has the woman’s image blacked out. A rack of multi colored hair dyes and they all look identical. A box with a black shape that did represent a woman displaying the color hair of the dye but is now just a black blob.

     What kind of man is threatened by an image of a woman on a hair dye box?

      In the world in which these two women reside death is a constant companion. Executions are the norm. Heads displayed on the spikes of the fence that circle the roundabout are common. Nothing to see here folks….just heads on a spike….move along......don’t forget to stop and buy your hair dye.

     Here women oppress woman, with gangs of DAESH women going about the city enforcing Sharia and checking on their sisters to make certain they are in compliance. To be found out of compliance can be a very costly mistake.

     Here persons who are gay are thrown head first off the tops of high buildings. To be honest they are perhaps the lucky ones as some of the executions performed in this place are brutal, terribly brutal and to be launched from a tall building head first is perhaps a mercy.

     Here in this place where these two women reside, there are slave markets. Men go there to purchase women and little girls. Women and little girls who have been ripped from their families, many watched their families brutally murdered, are sold to the highest bidder.

      I think of these women often. I wonder if they are still alive. Do they hold onto hope or is all hope long since been lost?

      At the end of the video one of them says “I long to take off the niqab and the darkness that cloaks us for good.”…………..”to be able to go out in the street without being scared.”……………..”nothing matters more than freedom.”

      Oh my sisters, I see you in the fish bowl, and yet I am helpless to do anything. I have no power, no money, no means to free you! Rest assured my sisters, what I can do I have done. I have cried out again and again to my elected officials and I have prayed, I do pray, I will pray!

      Oh Lord of mercy, Lord who heard the blood of Abel crying out to You from the ground, see Your daughters caught in slavery, in oppression, who live their lives in fear trapped under black tents, trapped in a place that should not even exist upon this world. Oh Lord see them! Deliver them! Come to them in their dreams with words of hope and life!

     Oh Lord how the blood of this place much cry out, if Abel’s blood cried out then the cries rising up to You from this one town in Syria much be thundering, ear-piercing, tumultuous and loud enough to wake the dead. Oh Lord hear them, hear the cries of the blood that screams from Raqqa and hear the cries of these women enslaved in this horrible system of oppression and fear.

     And Lord, if it is possible, let the world hear the cries of the blood, let the world hear the piercing cries of the blood of slaughtered innocents rising up to You.

     Oh Lord have mercy upon these two brave women, and upon all the oppressed living in that terrible place. And not just that place Oh Lord, but to each and every soul who feels unseen, who lives under the threat of violence and death, who knows hopelessness…Oh Lord save. As You once saved me Oh Lord…….save them.

     

    "We want the world to know," they say.

     

    Read their story

    http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/womens-secret-films-from-within-closed-city-of-islamic-state/?cmpid=youtube

     

     

     

     

     

     


    ]]>
    Donna Griego
    tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1014091 2016-03-15T15:58:25Z 2016-03-15T15:58:26Z The Ides of March

     The old saying "beware the Ides of March" is from the story of Julius Caesar. A seer had warned him that he would come to harm before the ides of March and on that very day as he walked to the theater he passed the seer and mocked him,  saying "the ides of March have come" , and the seer responded "Aye, Caesar; but not gone" and later that same day at the Theater of Pompey, Julius Caesar was assassinated. His assassination was a turning point for Rome leading to civil war and was the beginning of the change from Roman Republic to Roman Empire.  

      March signifies a turning point in our calendar of seasons, from winter to spring, typically taunting us with beautiful warm days, the budding of trees, the bursting forth of bulbs from the ground and all their promise of flowers and yet in betwixt the warmness and promise of new life come the buffeting winds of March, said to come in like a lion and to go out as a lamb. Yet often, here in New Mexico they come in as a lamb and go out as a lion. Today promises to be such a day, with winds of up to 50 mph and clouds of dust, dust that hovers over the city of Albuquerque and over the Sandia Mountains creating a dingy yellow veil that dims the view and hides the beauty.

       Sometimes turning points are heralded by loss, be it the assassination of a leader as it was with the nation of Rome, or the howling winds that signifies winter's anger at being driven back into the shadows by spring. or the times of loss, death, pain and suffering within our own lives that so often leave us stripped naked and broken crying out for a rain of grace from God.

      Sometimes they are heralded by moments of great joy, and gifts, the blessing of marriage, or the birth of a child, a new job, a new friendship, a new road to walk down and the hope of new life found in Christ, Times that leave us in awe of the beauty and wonder of life and how very precious it is.

      In both can come a rain of grace, and a turning point, the moment when you realize how small you are, how helpless and broken and powerless you are. The moment when you realize that you are not in control of anything at all.......and that moment when you realize the it is God and God alone who changes things and Him and Him alone who controls. That moment when you realize that all that is good comes from God, and that He holds in His hand all that you hold dear. And that moment when you realize that He is trustworthy, and that He loves you, and that You can rest easily in that knowledge, no matter what is happening, no matter if you are in the midst of harsh winds of sorrow and loss or basking in the sunlight of good gifts and great blessings.

      I ponder these things as  I look out this morning through my patio window and watch the big metal whirly gig turning in the light breeze, it marks the grave of the big white dog, the one who taught me so much about God and about life and about worship and hope. The one who taught me how to live in the moment and dance with joy. I miss her.

      March is an anniversary month for us, anniversaries of celebration and of remembrance. On the 6th of March we married, my love and I and this year was our 31st. And on the 12th of March our daughter in law left us, jumped straight into the arms of Jesus 3 years ago. Anniversaries of joy and of sorrow. Both were turning points.

     Marriage was one of the biggest turning points in my life apart from Christ and it stands right next to the birth of my children as a major point of change. It was change for the better, and it is where I first began to learn the art of putting others before my self. It hasn't been an easy lesson to learn and it is one I still forget from time to time.

     Mel's death was also a turning point, a time of great sorrow and loss, of guilt and regret, of helplessness and a pain so deep I felt near cut in two. From the ashes of that came the time of searching, seeking, and trying to find beauty in the everyday, beauty in the midst of sorrow. Slowly I learned how to practice gratitude, how to find something for which to be thankful each and every day, sometimes moment by moment. Sometimes it was just a flower, or the antics of a dog, or the sun rising over the mountains, and sometimes it was the bigger things like family and friends and new life found.

      Although turning points in life are scary, in Christ they can and do lead to growth. The most significant turning point that any soul can reach is that one where you see Christ for who He is and bow the knee and call Him King. For He is our Hiding Place when the hard winds of life come, when the winds buffet so very hard that you can only huddle in a heap as they strip you bare and leave you bereft, for without Him they will leave you bereft.....but in Him, in Him, you will never be stripped of hope and He will never leave you. He is a Wall that blocks the winds, and prevents the strong grit and sand from stripping you of life.

     He is; "a shelter from the storm” (Isaiah 32:2). “In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues” (Psalm 31:20).

    “For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5).

    “You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble” (Psalm 32:7).

    And He says to you, “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” (Song of Songs 2:14).

      So on this Ides of March, I give thanks to the One who has preserved me through it all, and who daily renews my soul with hope for tomorrow and who showers me in His marvelous grace and who provides for me and shelters me from the harsh winds of life. In Him I need not worry about that ancient saying "beware the ides of March" for He holds me in His hand and nothing can befall me without His approval and if He approves He will see me through it and He will bring about my good and His glory in it.

       As I write these words the birds are singing in the trees, the peach tree blooms are vivid pink, the crab apple tree is blooming and the daffodil and tulips are rising from their dark graves with the promise of color and life to come. The old white dog lays in the morning rays, belly up to the sun, basking in the warmth. The little black and white dog takes a rare moment of rest and sleeps on the patio just outside my writing table. The whirly gig over the big white dog's grave turns slowly in the breeze, and for now the bells are silent, the wind mobiles stirring only slightly. Soon the hard winds will come.

     But I am content. I am in that place called Enough. Let the winds come..........He is with me.......and He is enough.

    http://www.crystalinks.com/IdesofMarch.html

     

    ]]>
    Donna Griego
    tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1009037 2016-03-09T03:29:23Z 2016-03-09T03:29:23Z A Fallen Soldier

    Write a tribute to a fallen soldier,

    A simple task it might seem,

    For I did not know him,

    He was not my soldier.

    And in the writing of it

    I came to know him,

    I saw my soldier in him,

    He was an Infantryman.

    Young and bold and brash,

    With a smile that lit up the room,

    Even though it was just a photograph

    Wow it must have been something to see

    that smile up close in person.

    He had a young lady who loved him,

    And a little baby boy that made him smile so big

    I saw that smile in all the photographs I found

    While researching who he was.

    While attempting to know him

    That I might tell others who he was

    And how he died in our service.

    That little boy of his is growing up fast

    I have never met him in person

    But I see him often in the photos his mom posts

    The first time I saw him he was in his father’s arms,

    Such a big smile on his dad’s face,

    You could see the love and pride written there.

    The next photo was of the little boy,

    All alone on the beach,

    Sitting in the surf, playing,

    As a heart shaped wave encompassed him,

    Gently it wrapped around the child

    Playing in the surf.

    There have been many others

    The boy laughing, playing, smiling

    The boy with the lizard

    The boy with his mom.

    And then today there was a new one.

    The boy kneeling before a tombstone

    His head is bowed

    Perhaps he weeps

    Or perhaps he prays

    Or perhaps he is simply reflecting

    All I see is his back and his bowed head

    And the tombstone of his young father

    Who had such a beautiful smile

    Who was an Infantryman

    And my hearts breaks

    For the boy,

    For his father

    For the loss

    And the pain

    For the war

    That keeps on taking

    And taking

    And taking

    It seems the full price is never paid.

    Bless the boy Lord,

    Bless him all his days.


        

       I was once called to write a tribute for a young infantryman named Kalin Johnson who died on March the 8th, 2011.Writing tributes requires research, and in that research you often find photos and stories from the families that will really break your heart. The fallen warrior becomes more than a name, and you begin to see their life, their loves, their hopes and dreams, and you see up close and personal the sorrow they have left behind.

    Sometime after writing Kalin's tribute  I was blessed to come to know his young lady and to watch via social media the growth of their young son. I wrote a lot of tributes for the fallen, and so many of them are forever engraved upon my memory, but there is something special about Kalin Johnson. I wrote this poem for Kalin and for Logan. It was inspired by a photograph of Logan in front of his father's tombstone.

    Rest in peace Kalin Johnson. Although I never knew you in person, I shall never forget you.

    The original tribute:

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/military-wall-of-honor/united-states-army-private-first-class-kalin-christopher-lee-johnson/10150424058715244?hc_location=ufi

    A memorial page in his honor:

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/In-Memory-of-Kalin-Christopher-Lee-Johnson/132397586833189?sk=wall




    ]]>
    Donna Griego
    tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1001495 2016-03-07T18:55:26Z 2017-03-07T19:11:56Z Desperation

       Today I read the story of the woman with the issue of blood. A story so very rich in meaning and in grace and a story requiring some knowledge of the laws of that time, and what this condition would have meant for this women who had suffered for twelve long years with this issue of blood.

     The story: Luke 8:43-48 English Standard Version (ESV And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.  And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

     First we need to consider what this condition would have meant to this woman and how it would have impacted her daily life.

    Leviticus 15:19-22 states:

    • And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even.
    • And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean.
    • And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
    • And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.

      So consider the above, consider the society that she lived in, and consider that she had suffered this condition for 12 long years. Every person she touched would have been unclean, everything she touched would have been unclean. In the society that she dwelt in her condition would have caused her to be treated very similar to a leper. As she works her way through this great crowd of people every person she bumped into, everything she bumped into, would be deemed unclean. She touched the tassels of the robe that the Lord Jesus was wearing, making it unclean.

     She works her way carefully through the huge crowd, her heart pounding wildly within her chest. She is taking a great risk today, but she is certain, she is hopeful, she is desperate. Twelve long years of torture, to live amongst a people and yet always be apart from them, to be in plain sight but not seen, to have people that she had known all her life avoid her, avoid all contact with her. Yet she has heard of this new teacher, heard the stories of how he touched lepers and cleansed them, how he brought sight to blind eyes, even how he had raised a dead child to life! This must be the One for which they have been waiting! It must be! And he is compassionate, he is different, for what Rabbi would ever touch a leper?

     She weaves through the crowds heedless to the mutterings and cries of outrage as she bumps into people. She falls to the dusty ground and crawls through the legs of the masses, reaching out through them to barely grasp the fringe of his garment. Immediately she feels a rush through her body and she sits back on her heels as the crowds carry Jesus away. She stands to follow at a distance. He stops and turns and looks through the crowds shouting out "who touched me?" Her heart pounds within her chest, she has dared touch a holy rabbi's garment, she has made it unclean! What will he do to her for this terrible affront? But then she sees something in his eyes, and she has felt her body cleansed and healed so she timidly steps forward and falls at his feet.

     "Master, I have heard the stories, of how you have stooped to touch lepers, how you made them clean, how you brought sight to the blind and I have been unclean with a blood issue for twelve long years, I have yearned to be part of my family again, to feel the touch of human hands, to be clean......so I knew if I could only touch the hem of your garment I would be free." She trembles, it is possible that he will chastise her, that her uncleanness is too much, that she has caused great offense....but then he smiles and says "daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace."....Daughter! He called her daughter!

      Perhaps it did not take place exactly as I described it, but I wonder oh friends do you see the wonder of this story? Do you see His great compassion for the outcast? Can you feel the desperation of this woman? Can you see how sad and heartrending her condition was to her? Can you imagine being in the midst of society but being outcast? Being deemed unclean? Unable to attend worship, unable to touch the ones you love nor feel their touch upon you? To spend all that you have to seek healing and all for nothing?

      And I wonder if you can see this Jesus, the One who sees us, He sees us in our brokenness, He sees us in our uncleanliness, in our desperation, in our broken and frantic attempts to heal ourselves......He sees us and He is willing, He is willing for us to reach out and touch the hem of His garment and be whole.

     A desperate woman, who has spent all she has trying to buy hope, and purchase healing, all for naught, crawls out in faith and touches the hem of the Master's garment........and finds healing, hope, and peace. She comes unclean, and outcast, she walks away a daughter of the King.



     


      

    ]]>
    Donna Griego
    tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/999664 2016-02-23T17:54:33Z 2016-02-23T17:54:33Z The Silence From Heaven

    These dark nights,

    These dismal days,

    When I cannot sense Your presence

    I know You are with me,

    But I cannot feel it

    I seek You but You do not respond

    I cry out but You do not speak

    And then it becomes so difficult

    To even cry out

    Difficult to seek

    Prayer is a labor

    And apathy seeps in

    Lord you know how I hate apathy

    And yet here it is

    Right there in my soul

    Help me to remember

    All the times past

    When I felt so alone

    Yet You were there

    I just could not see

    Nor feel

    But I believed

    Faith is the substance

    Of things hoped for

    The evidence of

    Things not seen

    I know this truth

    Yet to feel You

    Makes me so alive

    And to not feel You

    So dead

    Lord reach down

    And touch my soul

    That I might feel

    Your presence.

    Break my heart

    With the things that break Yours

    Crush the apathy

    For it is better to be pushed down

    By the sorrows of others

    Than to feel nothing

    Such a divided soul I am

    Crying out that the burden is too great

    The suffering too much

    Oh to not feel for the sufferings of others!

    And yet when it leaves me

    I am lost without it.

    Oh Lord return to me

    Rip out this human heart

    And restore to me Yours.

    And then come along side

    And bear the yoke with me

    One more hill

    As my son would say.

           I have found the Christian life to be one of valleys  and hills and high mountain tops. On the hills He is a constant presence, as if He were walking right there with you as a friend, on the mountain tops His presence so strong and holy that you cannot even stand before it but must fall on your face and tremble at His power and majesty, but then there are the valleys where you find yourself walking, seemingly alone, crying out to Him, Lord where are You? I have walked many hills, stood upon many mountain tops and trudged through many valleys. He never leaves you. Even in the valley, even in the silence He is there. Trust Him.

     Many wrongly assume that His absence is because something has gone wrong, this is not the case. In truth He is not absent at all, He is merely silent. Think of Joseph, sold into slavery, wrongly accused, imprisoned......I imagine he walked through some very deep valleys. Yet all the while God was working, moving, building and bringing about a great work.

       I feel the valley today, it's not a deep one, but it is there. Prayer comes hard right now, everything is a struggle, for some time now I have felt His presence so strong, so sure, so certain, and today scares me a bit. How long Lord? How deep this valley? I pray it is but a short one, perhaps a day or two. None the less, enough has passed that I know my Redeemer. He has not left, He has not stepped out, He is but silent for a time.

    http://www.faithgateway.com/when-you-cant-feel-god/#.VsyYH-TSnIU


    ]]>
    Donna Griego
    tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/996224 2016-02-18T14:44:00Z 2016-02-18T14:44:00Z February Warmth and the Promise of Spring

    February warmth seeps into my bones,

    Bright sunshine, gentle breezes on the western wind.

    Trees budding, birds frolicking, rabbits everywhere.

    The promise of spring is in the air!

     

    I feel it down deep in my bones,

    Something budding in the warmth of the sun

    The urge to run black earth through worn fingers

    Anticipation of the delight as plants burst forth from the hard worked ground.

     

    Evenings on the back porch, relaxing

    Dogs at feet, beloved by my side

    Watching in awe as the mountains turn pink

    In late evenings setting sun.

     

    Spring is coming soon,

    I feel it in my bones,

    The hope of life renewed

    The promise of warmth and light.

     

    Bursts of color as flowers spring forth

    Desert willow alive with color

    Dancing in the evening breeze

    Peach tree blossoms on the wind.

     

    Garden bursting forth from ground

    Fresh tomatoes, perfect squash, home grown cucumber

    Green beans springing up their tall poles

    Spicy peppers row upon row.

     

    My heart  yearns for spring

    And the promise of life renewed

    And the sure hope of harvest

    As spring turns to summer.

     

    February warmth seeps into my bones

    Bringing promise of spring

    Promise of life

    Promise of hope.

     

    Come spring come!


    ]]>
    Donna Griego
    tag:allisgrace.posthaven.com,2013:Post/972281 2016-01-16T22:23:03Z 2016-01-16T22:23:03Z Lessons From the Trash Heap

      Just a few miles from my home stands a tall mountain, a man made mountain. Today I stood upon that mountain built by heaps and heaps of discarded items covered in dirt over and over again, rising up from the desert floor, a mountain of waste.

      As I looked around me at all the things that people had brought to the top, things no longer wanted, things broken, things that had lost their shine and appeal I considered how it must have been in the beginning, when eyes were first laid upon that prize. I could almost hear the voices as they shopped, the justifications for why this thing was important and why they simply must have it.

    " This will look so nice on me, I will feel pretty, it compliments my eyes.", "I have worked hard and I deserve this reward.", "This will look so nice in the living room."......and on and on and on.

     We humans are always seeking something, some shiny thing, some purchase that can once and for all fill the empty hole within our hearts. New furniture, new kitchen appliances, new clothes, new electronics, the latest fad, the perfect toy. I cannot count the times where I have yearned for something, thinking of how useful it will be, how much it will change my life, how much my children will enjoy it, and I have justified a thousand reasons why it was wise and right to buy it.

     And yet there I stood upon a mountain of these things, broken, rusty, our little pickup truck full with our own contributions to this growing mountain.

     Things never satisfy for long. There may be the moments of happiness you grasp onto as you behold this new acquisition but it will fade. The thing will degrade over time, it will become worn, or in some cases it will lose its appeal and become just another item to hang your coats on or to slide underneath your bed. At some point it will end up on some mountain of trash, buried beneath the dirt, forgotten, broken, useless, just trash.

     I still crave things, I think we all do. I still get caught up in the shiny things sometimes. Like that new SLR camera I have really been wanting, and the justification I tell myself about how awesome my photos will be if I could only have a real camera instead of one on my cell phone. And things in themselves are not wrong, we need couches to sit upon, if our stove breaks we need a new one, and it is good to wear nice clothes if one can afford them. I guess what struck me as I stood there on top of that mountain of trash was the excess of it all, an enormous mountain of cast off things.

     I have chased many things over the course of my life, all of them in that crazy elusive pursuit of happiness. During that often disappointing chase I was found by Jesus and discovered the real key to contentment and life. Happiness will always be elusive and dependent upon the shiny things, the weather, relationships, finances and other fading things, but Jesus is joy personified, He is peace in a person. The pursuit of Christ is far more valuable than the pursuit of happiness and in pursuing Him you will find in most cases you are happy. It won't be the things that can break that make it so, it will be the knowledge of Him that makes your heart sing! He remains the only thing that can and does fill the hole within the human heart forever.

     The key to happiness and contentment is far simpler than most imagine. It is in Christ.

     Things break, things tarnish, things lose their appeal.....but God and His Word stand forever.

     

     

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    Donna Griego