The musings of an old woman,a wife, a mother of two sons, a lover of dogs and all God's creatures, a reader of books, a child of the King.
A pilgrim with many rivers yet to cross, on a journey home to Him.
This weekend we will pile into the car and hit the road on a
journey to Beautiful. Beautiful resides in Fort Worth, Texas, and we will be bringing Beautiful back to New Mexico.
A journey that begins in hope, not that most thought of hope, as in “I hope I win the
lottery”, but that sure hope that comes when you know that God is doing something.
When I was first asked, to find the beloved veteran a dog, to be a companion and friend, to be trained as a service dog, I asked God to lead us to the right one, to help us find the right dog, not just any dog, but the dog He made for this purpose. And I have asked Him to have His hand in all that follows and I trust that He will do all that I have asked……..and
more……..He always throws in the more.
He led us to this dog.
To a dog named Jewels, in Fort Worth, Texas. A dog who is as tough as nails, with a heart that far outweighs her 55lb body, a dog who loves big, and who holds no grudges though she has every right to hold some.
The veteran wants to rename her, which is okay, for they are embarking on a new journey, and what is behind them has past, and that which is front of them is new.......so a new name, for a new life.
While thinking of what the one she was made for might decide to name her........ a still small
voice whispered in my heart……..”She is Bella”.
And then the one she was
made for confirmed it……..”She is Bella”.
Bella means beautiful.
we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
So the dog named Jewels, who was tossed from a balcony and suffered great injury, and endured great pain, who was rescued and recovered will become Bella, the service dog, the friend and companion of the combat veteran who has also seen horror and endured much pain.........and she who was rescued will rescue, and she who was healed will heal.
Please pray for them both as they start their journey together.
Update: 10/6/14, The journey down was long, we stopped only for gas and bathroom breaks, all the way to Fort Worth. We stopped to eat an hour out from Beautiful.
Upon arriving, we saw several people gathered in the yard with a white dog. We parked and got out and they released her. She ran straight to him, greeting him as if to say " I been waiting for you, so happy to see you!".
We went inside, and at some point went out to get something from the car. He opened the door and she jumped right in, ready to go. We had to remove her from the car for a few photos.
She was a trooper on the way home, leaning hard into him when he sat with her, and leaning hard into me while watching him, when he drove.
When last I saw her, around 3pm yesterday, she was snuggled on the couch, his arm around her.
They fit well together.
It is good.
Beautiful has arrived in Albuquerque.
10/7/14 Update: They did their first service dog training session today, both did well. The lesson was held at a local Lowe's store. Bella was introduced to the halter, and she did not really like it, but she was trusting and accepted it. He was introduced to the leash and how to handle it, how to communicate gently. He did well. It was a delight to watch them take their first service walk together.
10/14/14 Update: They had their second service dog training session today. About an hour before the lesson they were in a very close call on the freeway. Someone hit the median and spun out, and he had to evade the accident, another car was hit but they escaped. Bella was thrown to the floor, both were shook up. Yet they proceeded to their lesson, and today they went inside the Lowe's store with their two trainers, and their two trainers service dogs. So it was a lot to take in, a lot of new sights and sounds and Bella was stressed. But again she trusted, she listened and she followed him about the store. I was very proud of them both.
6/17/15 Update : Miss Bella is doing great, she has lived up to her name for she is beautiful. She is doing great as a service dog and as Adam's friend and companion. She goes pretty much everywhere with him. Today she attended college classes for the first time and she did great. We are so proud of her, and so grateful to God, and to Sharina the CEO of Astasia's Animal Rescue (they do great work, please check them out and assist if you are able), and Aggie Wasson for saving Bella and for letting our veteran adopt her. She who was rescued has rescued.
Feeling old, and tired, and just wanting to sleep for a bit, I sit on a bench here at work. The day is hot, and the hotness increases the tired and worn feeling I carry today.
As I sit reading from a devotional, a cool and uplifting breeze begins to blow. The little Japenese Maple above my head begins to sing its wind song softly to me, the tree across from me, species unknown, waves its branches and leaves in greeting, almost as if it is fanning me.
I feel the cool breeze upon my skin, my eyes take in the deep and vivid green of the grass, the deep and vivid greens of the trees. I look up to the blue sky, viewed through the leaves of the little Maple.
My body is still tired, after all three hours of sleep just isn't enough, but my soul zings with energy. Such a beautiful world, so full of grace, this cool breeze sent to energize me, to tell me I am beloved.
His grace finds me, it covers me, it overwhelms me and I wonder how many moments like this one I have failed to even notice.
I give thanks for the breeze,
I give thanks for the song of the trees,
I give thanks for the deep green,
I give thanks for the freshness I smell on the air,
I give thanks for the grace,
grace upon grace.
Yet it's a harsh cruel world Lord..
a man died today, I watched his mother plead for his life last week.
I prayed for him, prayed for strength and grace and peace, prayed for his freedom....
I wonder today if he was strong at the end, if he felt peace, if his soul is now free with You.
It's a hard world, a mean world, where has compassion fled to?
How can it be that a young man, who received the benefits of western society, who was already attracting fame and fortune...
How could he leave all that to go to a land of horrors and cut the heads from innocent prisoners?
Lord if the blood of Abel cried out to you from the ground.....what piercing screams assault Your ears today? We pour blood upon the ground like it is water.
Creation groans, Your people groan....
even so, come quickly Lord Jesus
And I sit here on a bench, under the Japenese Maple, listening to it's whisper song in the breeze, my body is tired, my heart is heavy, but my spirit soars.
The breeze stills and all is quiet, the leaves prefectly still, and I hear the still small voice in my soul say "BE STILL and KNOW that I AM God". And I acknowledge this truth, my eyes lifted to the bright blue sky, and the breeze returns, and the trees sing it with me....
"It’s there in the newborn cry There in the light of every sunrise There in the shadows of this life Your great grace
It’s there on the mountain top There in the everyday and the mundane There in the sorrow and the dancing Your great grace Oh such grace
From the creation to the cross There from the cross into eternity Your grace finds me, yes your grace finds me
It’s there on a wedding day There in the weeping by the graveside There in the very breath we breathe Your great grace
The same for the rich and poor The same for the saint and for the sinner Enough for this whole wide world Your great grace Oh such grace
There in the darkest night of the soul There in the sweetest songs of victory Your grace finds me Yes your grace finds me
Your great grace Oh such grace Your great grace Oh such grace
So I’m breathing in Your grace And breathing out Your praise I’m breathing in Your grace Forever I’ll be
Your grace finds me Yes Your grace finds me
I breathe it in..........
"Praise the name of God forever and ever,
for he has all wisdom and power.
He controls the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the scholars.
He reveals deep and mysterious things
and knows what lies hidden in darkness,
though he is surrounded by light.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors,
for you have given me wisdom and strength.
You have told me what we asked of you
and revealed to us what the king demanded.” Daniel 2:20-23
“God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It's not the result of anything you've done, so no one can brag about it.”
Grace is a marvelous thing and so often misunderstood, especially by those who do not believe. What is this grace that Christians always speak of, what does it really mean to receive grace from God?
Perhaps the best definition I have ever read is below; taken from a book I recently read and attributed to Paul Zahn:
“Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable…. The cliché definition of grace is “unconditional love.” It is a true cliché, for it is a good description of the thing. Let’s go a little further, though. Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything and only to do with the lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called “gifts” (whatever they may be). It reflects a decision on the part of the giver, the one who loves, in relation to the receiver, the one who is loved, that negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold…. Grace is one-way love.”
Word pictures are often helpful in portraying truths. Imagine you are young and single, and you must marry. You have two choices; you do not personally know either of the choices. The first choice is young and vibrant and in appearance is more than you ever dreamed, they are knowledgeable of all the things that will enhance your life and are perfectly suited to be the most marvelous spouse. They have the most beautiful singing voice, they can dance, and they can cook, physically healthy, in fact upon examination you can find nothing wrong with them at all. The second choice is weak, and deformed, ghastly in appearance, and is unable to contribute anything at all to the marriage. They have no voice, they cannot hear, they cannot read, they cannot write, In fact if you choose this person, you will have to provide for all of their needs, you will need to feed them, carry them, bathe them.
Which one would you choose? If you are like anyone else, you would choose the vibrant beautiful person, the one who can add their skillset to yours and can provide for your needs and desires……but grace, the type of grace God displays to us is like you choosing the second person. That second person can offer you nothing at all; in fact they have not one thing to offer.
That is how God’s grace is.
Take it a step further.
Imagine a person that you have done terrible things to. You have murdered their family, you have stolen all that they own, you have lied about them, destroyed their reputation, burned their house to the ground, killed their livestock, ground all that they ever loved into the dirt……. All of a sudden you find yourself under their power, helpless before them. Justly even you know that you deserve death, you expect it, your only fear is how terrible this death may be, in light of all the evil that you did against this person. No one will judge this person harshly for killing you, everyone is in agreement that you deserve it, justice cried out for it…….and yet as you lay on the ground at the feet of the one you wronged……you feel a touch on your shoulder, a hand pulls you to your feet. He hugs you, he places a robe about your shoulders, puts a cup of wine in your hand, sits you down at the best seat at his table……….would you be shocked?
This is grace….this is what God means when He talks about grace.
You do not receive grace from God because you are good, or because your sins are “not so bad”, it has nothing at all to do with you. You just like me, stand before God clothed in rags, covered in filth, we have nothing to offer Him, nothing He needs, and in fact we have wronged Him time and time again. He is rightly able to utterly destroy us; it would be justice for we have fallen short of everything He decreed. But He does not give justice…He gives grace, wonderful, marvelous grace.
Grace like a river….” There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Mystery of mysteries That You could love Someone like me In your hands eternity And yet you have the time for me
A love so undeserved You held nothing in reserve Heaven played its symphony I took your hand and you rescued me
Grace like a river Is flowing down Is flowing down Grace like a river It's flowing down to me
Staring at my history Was all alone but never free The sands of time have let me see Your faithful shadow next to me
A love so unreserved I did nothing to deserve Love so free but what's the cost To carry this old rugged cross
I love You, I thank you I'm nothing without your Grace like a river
I sit here, under the shade of a mighty sycamore tree, feeling small, feeling insignificant, and feeling a little helpless. I am reminded of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:4) and the children’s song we used to sing in Sunday school.
“Zacchaeus was a very little man,
and a very little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see.
And when the Savior passed that way
He looked up in the tree.
And said, 'Zacchaeus, you come down!
For I'm going to your house today!
For I'm going to your house today!'
Zacchaeus was a very little man,
But a happy man was he,
For he had seen the Lord that day
And a happy man was he;
And a very happy man was he.”
(The tree below is called the Zacchaeus tree and is in the city of Jericho.)
As I sit my thoughts leap about my head like bees buzzing around fresh flowers. Thinking of the things I have done that I did not wish to do, thinking of the things I should have done that I did not do, thinking of how I need to do more of this and less of that, thinking of how far I have come and yet how quickly I slip right back to where I once was.
The world is so very noisy, our minds so cluttered, bombarded on a constant basis with the idea that if we just buy this one thing, we will be happy, if we just lose a few pounds all will be well, we listen to this song and that song and the televisions blare out their constant stream of garbage, and we have forgotten the sound of silence. I find myself longing for it and yet often unable to hear it, unable to catch those moments due to the constant clamors all about.
So today, while feeling small, under the mighty sycamore tree, with my mind abuzz with a whole lot of meaningless regrets, wants and worries, the thought came into my head, clear as if spoken….”be still”….and I sat for a moment, just beholding the trees, my how large the leaves have grown since I last paused to look. I hear the birds singing, a bee buzzes around the flowers on a nearby bush, a yellow and black butterfly soars overhead. How majestic are Your works O Lord…..and the thoughts begin to leak back into my head, how I have failed Him time and time again….and again comes the “be still” and I sit and behold the wonders.
I begin to pray…….and again comes the “be still”. Sometimes we just need to sit in silence and behold things.
Even in the midst of chaos there are moments of silence, we simply need to turn off the clamor inside our heads and sit quietly and behold all that is around us.
I got up, my break over, feeling refreshed and alive and marveling at the awesome grace of the Lord whom I serve. He is there in the little things. He is there when I fail, He is there when I triumph, His grace is sufficient, and all is His grace.
I will leave you with a few quotes from one of my readings today, which spoke deeply to my soul.
“You’re guilty but you’re not condemned.
Whatever you’re caught in, I make you free.
Whatever you’re accused of, I hand you keys.
Whatever you’re judged at, I give you release.”
“Grace isn’t a paltry thing but the most powerful thing — the very power of God — so don’t ever underestimate it:”
“God gives you grace and acceptance before you overcome your sin.
Because it’s His grace and acceptance that let you overcome your sin.
You don’t overcome your brokenness to have God’s love.
It’s God’s love that has you overcoming your brokenness.”
“Only when you go to the Cross first & hear no condemnation,
can you go to the mirror and see deep transformation.
This is the only one road to take all the way home.”
“Jesus doesn’t condemn you, Jesus is condemned for you.
Stones will be thrown, but Jesus takes them for you.
Spears will be hurled, but Jesus offers His side to shield you.
Battles will come, but Jesus will be nailed to the wall for you.
You don’t have to overcome your brokenness to have His love.
It’s His love that has you overcoming your brokenness.”
“This is the only one road to take all the way home.”
There are times in one's life that are clearly marked, times where dates are etched in one's mind forever. I am certain many of those within my circle of life can agree with me on this.
The etched times that are obvious to all are the mundane ones, the wedding dates, birthdates and graduation dates. We all share those, but for some there are more terrible dates.
The date your friend died in combat.....
The date you or a friend were wounded in combat.......
The date your child died.......
The date your child was wounded in combat...........
The date someone close to you chose to die at their own hand........
The date your son went to prison........
These kind of memorial dates cannot be truly understood until one has owned one. I know folks who own more than one of these. I own a couple myself. I think once you own one of these you are drawn to those who also own them. You begin to understand, to truly feel the weight they carry, to be grieved by it, to hurt with those who hurt.
I have known many moments of sorrow, and yet in this past year, an exact year from 3/12/13 to 3/12/14, I have begun to see things more clearly.
the grief between the lines of the mother who posts phrases from songs.......
the grief from the mother who posts words of endearment to her departed son........
the struggle of the young wife left behind to raise children alone.....
the pain and sorrow in the Vietnam veteran's words as he struggles with PTSD and panic attacks.....
the sorrow of holidays for those missing someone....
the soldiers who like a well-oiled clock, post their memorial comments and photos on the exact day, on a monthly basis…....
the young warrior weeping in front of the computer.......the site a memorial site for the fallen....
the song….”Paint Me a Birmingham” and the sorrow he feels when he listens to it.....
the young warrior and his bottles of Jack left on the memorial stones.....
the mother and her website declaring all out war on the PTSD that took her son's life....
the soul angry at God for allowing such loss......
the soul clinging to God for the strength to endure such loss......
the sister feeling guilty for that moment of happiness......
the father who wishes he could have changed things......
the warrior drinking to excess, seeking to drown the demons, to shut their voices, to squelch the memories......
the mother begging for prayer for her incarcerated son....
the mother waging war on the Army on behalf of her incarcerated son....
the feelings from many that they are forgotten, that people don't really care.....
the young warrior who twists his prosthetic foot around and around making us laugh....but behind his eyes you can see pain.....
the young warrior and the dog who just might have saved his life......
the angry young warrior in the parking lot instigating a fight....and the sad father of another young warrior who rose to the occasion.....until he saw his own son in the young man's eyes and walked away.....
the worry in the little boys eyes as he tries to be the man for his grieving mother.....
the frantic intensity of a mother as she drives back and forth countless miles, as she prays, as she frets, as she seeks with all her heart and soul and strength to make it better..........and she can't make it better....
And so many more that I could write and write and never capture them all....
These many years of war have caused a lot of pain, pain felt personally, pain witnessed from a distance, and yet this past year, the year that brought all the pain to a head, to an eruption that simply could no longer be contained, also brought healing, and a stronger faith, and a deeper love, a pain that ripped open the heart and laid it all bare, torn beyond human capacity to repair.....but not beyond His capacity. Throughout it all He has been close and I stand here today, this March the 12th, 2014 forever changed, forever scarred, but able to behold the beauty and grace in those scars and in the scars of others who suffer. I am grateful for every bit of this journey, from the broken times when I could not stand, to the moments of joy when I caught the glimpses of His grace.
I have learned that I cannot save people, no matter how hard I try, in fact often when I rely upon my own strength and ability I often make things worse. I have learned that sometimes there simply are no words to say, and pretty much anything you do say will not help, and in fact may make things worse, and the best thing to do is to let people know that you care, that you love them, and that you are praying for them. Sometimes in life there just are no answers.
I have learned to look between the lines, for this is where you often see the heart of people. What may appear to be hateful, cynical, hard or sarcastic is often a mask that hides deep hurt and terrible pain and grief.
I have learned to hope, not that type of hope that is most common in life, as in "I hope I win the lottery" but the hope that comes of a deep and abiding faith in a personal God who works for my good and His glory, who works His most glorious works in the painful places, often unseen, unfelt and not understood, but present always. Hope that comes from the knowledge that He redeems and He loves, and He blesses.
I have learned to see, to open my eyes to the many gifts He gives to all, the simple things, like a hawk in flight, a flower blooming, the song of the trees as they bend in the wind, the look in a dog's eyes as his head rests in your lap, the sound of the breathing of a loved one as he sleeps, the laughter of a child, the feel of the sun upon my face, the beauty of poetry, the mountain covered in snow, sun striking white until the peaks gleam like gold, the look on a young warrior's face as he sits quietly with dog in lap, the photo of the old guy, beloved brother as he crosses the finish line, the moments of peace, the moments where love is felt strong within the breast, the moments so often missed but when noticed take your breath away............life is full of so much beauty, beauty often missed. We only have this moment right now.
I have learned to believe in His promises, to listen to dreams, to look for His grace, to sing in the mundane, to rest in His love and mercy. I would like to say that I have found happiness, but as we all know, happiness is an elusive creature, dependent upon circumstances, and sometimes the truth of the matter is........circumstance suck......but joy is in the knowing that He is working, that all is for a purpose, even if I never come to know exactly what that purpose is, and that this place here is temporary and one day everything will be made right, and I will dwell with Him, and there will be no more sorrow, no more sickness, no more despair, no darkness and best of all......there will be no death and He will be the Light there!
There is joy in that knowledge, indescribable joy.
So here I stand, on this Memorial Day, one year ago today my daughter in law, Melanie Griego, stepped from this life into the arms of her Lord, leaving behind nothing but questions and sorrow and guilt and pain. A few months ago God was gracious to me and sent me a dream. It was a long dream, but I can only recall one portion of it. My father was there, and Melanie was there, we talked a lot, I felt such a sense of peace and purpose. At the end she laughed, a laugh full of joy and childlike delight, and she said to me, "do not worry Ma, it is all going to be okay, in fact it is going to be more than okay!" and I awoke. I could recall nothing that my dad had said in the dream, but I knew I had seen him for the memory of his presence was strong in my mind, and I could recall nothing of what Mel had said......except that one sentence and her laughter. If I close my eyes right now, I can see her laughing, I can hear it; can hear her clearly saying......
"Do not worry Ma, it’s all going to be okay, in fact it's going to be more than okay!"
It’s been a long road and I know not how much longer the journey will take, but I move ever onward, over obstacles, through the deserts, and the valleys, sometimes running, sometimes walking, sometimes crawling and occasionally just curled up on the side of the path weeping for a moment……then onward again, my eyes are upon Him, the Author and Finisher of my faith, my hope is in Him, my trust is in His goodness, His righteousness, His grace and mercy.
I remember…….I have not forgotten…….dance for Him, sing for Him, it must be glorious……I look forward to the day when I can join the dance.
I'm thinking today of friends that I used to know Who lived and suffered in this world below They're gone off to heaven, but I want to know What are they doing there now? Oh, what are they doing in heaven today Where sin and sorrow have all gone away Peace abounds like a river they say Oh, what are they doing there now? There's some whose hearts were burdened with care They spent for their moment with fighting and tears But they clung to the cross in trembling and fear Oh, what are they doing there now There's some who were poor and often despised They looked up toward heaven with tear-blinded eyes While people heedless and deaf to their cries Oh, what are they doing there now?
I cannot speak for everyone, but I know that she is dancing and singing and laughing...............