Humble Pie

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Humble Pie

As I was baking a pie recently I got to thinking about a slice of humble pie I had eaten a few years back. Jay and I were going through a rough patch in our marriage.  During that time, I happened across the Golden Rule which reminds us to treat others the way we wish to be treated (Matthew 7:12). I got to wondering what would happen if I were to humble myself and live out this principal in my marriage.  I decided to give it a go for fifteen days.  The rules were simple;   I was going to swallow my pride and treat my husband the way I wanted him treat me, with no expectation of receiving anything back in return.   If I sent a text telling him I loved him, I couldn’t be resentful if he didn’t reply in kind.   No more quid pro quo, I do this you do that type of thinking, I was going to do all the giving.  So, I leveled my pride and dove in. I like it when someone is kind and courteous to me or says please and thank you so I said and did those things.  I like getting a kiss and a hug from time to time, so I gave those away.  I like being asked about my day, so I asked and then shut up and listened.  I like being greeted with a smile and complimented for a job well done so I did those things to Jay as well.  

I gave it all away. And what I received in return was far and beyond what I could have imagined or hoped for!  I heard once that loving someone is looking for their highest good and I believe that is the basic premise of the Golden Rule.  The results were life altering and by the end of the fifteen days it had so transformed our relationship and the eyes through which I saw the world that I decided to practice the Golden Rule with everyone.  I am not perfect, but for the most part, this has become the basis for how I live my life. 

Practicing  humility is not the same thing as humiliation.   Humiliation is when we attempt to humble someone else, usually by shaming them. Which, by the way, never ever works.  Humility is the realization that the world doesn’t revolve around me and my desires. It doesn’t mean I trust someone who is untrustworthy; but it does mean I can still choose to treat the untrustworthy people in my life with dignity, and respect.  You see, I am developing a view of the world through the lens of God’s truth and  His kingdom found in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, instead of having a view of the world through the lens of the world’s truth.  Humans could never come up with the sort of truth embedded in the Golden Rule or the Bible on our own.  We come up with things like “Don’t get mad, get even.” Or “Do unto others and then split!”  Truth by the human race brought us the events of the twentieth century; while holding the distinction as the most modern time  in history, it also holds the title for the most  human atrocities and the  bloodiest time period in human history. We may be technologically advanced but we are still killing, lying to, stealing from and hurting one another.

 1 Peter 5:6 says Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”  Loving others who are easy to love is human nature.   Loving others unconditionally, warts and all is God’s nature; which, by the way, changes the world for the better. Always has, always will.   Thanks be to God!

Would you like to try a slice of humble pie?   I highly recommend it!

Be joy filled always, 

Christine Davis

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Chasing Hope

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My friend Denise has two Labrador retriever dogs.  Grace is a yellow lab and she lives up to her breed; from the moment she is let out of the house she wants to play ball and if left to her own devices would chase the ball until she dropped dead from exhaustion. Fortunately her master Denise knows when it is time to end the game. Oliver the black lab is altogether quite different, he could come from a blood line called Labrador ball hog dogs because once he gets the ball he just wants keep it and chew on it. When he does that, Denise tells him to drop it and reluctantly he does.  Denise knows what is best for her dogs, they trust her, they love her and they know she loves them. 

I have things that I want to chase until I nearly drop over dead from exhaustion and/or reluctantly “drop”; and they are people and things in which I have placed my trust and hope. Trust and hope are two sides of the same coin, trust is where I choose to place my confidence and hope the expectation that something I want to happen will happen. I have fallen for the lie that just maybe someone or something will satisfy or save me and be the solution to my problems therefore filling the hole in my soul.  And not surprisingly, time and time again I came up short, feeling empty and perhaps even hurt on the inside. Things such as:  jobs; relationships;  behaviors of self or others; friends; someone else’s sobriety; the weather (I am a farmers wife after all); bank account balance, health; looks; children; athletic performance; marriage; the government; drugs or alcohol; food; what the scale says; the good opinion of others; busyness or activity, clothing; cars; being right; a fine home; the number of social media hits or likes; good deeds; and so forth and so on.

 The mighty warrior, yet often broken and humble King David reminds us, “For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.” Psalms 44:6. Don’t misunderstand me, many of these things are not bad in and of themselves; some are necessary – but when my peace of mind and the state of my soul depends upon faith in things that were not meant to last, they are bound to fail me which makes them false hope. Not good things to place my trust in.  People and things may improve the quality of my life and bring me temporary joy and happiness, and pay the bills (a good thing), but they were never meant to be where I put trust and my hope. Like Grace and Oliver, at some point in life I have to stop the game and drop the ball.   Let me be clear,  I am not saying I have to give up my friends or my job or my spouse, what I am saying is that I must give up the idea  that they are where my trust should be or my hope lies.  So when and if my Master says the game is over or asks me to let go of something or someone my whole world doesn’t come crashing down around my ears. He is the only safe place to put my trust.  He is the only one that offers unfailing hope. And He is 100% all of the time worthy of both my trust and hope because He is 100% all of the time good for his word.  He and he alone knows what is best for me. I trust Him, I love Him and I know he loves me. 

King David also said:

“And now Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee.”  Psalms 39:7 KJV

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#Asleep at the Wheel

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Today I was walking our dog along a route we have walked nearly every day for years.  We live on the edge of town and have walking options.  Bandit the dog prefers town; being the lonely only dog at our house there is much more to entertain on the town route and I know secretly he hopes to see other dogs.   His faithful master (that’s me) prefers the rock road because it is quiet, has less traffic and we don’t encounter other dogs; which is a good thing because a loose dog can quickly turn a pleasant walk into an unpleasant one.  

As we walked home along the sidewalk that runs parallel to the highway we live on, I noticed a cute little pooch up ahead. He was walking on the sidewalk all by his lonesome self and thank goodness he didn’t see us.  We were in the middle of the block and we could have turned around and taken a longer way home but I was a little nervous the other dog might spot us, get exited and run after us.  No owner in sight, of course.  I thought about crossing the road, Bandit was on leash, but I didn’t want to risk the other dog running after us and getting hit.  So, we just stopped; and then I noticed something I had not seen before, an alley to my left. And we abruptly turned left.

In all the years I had walked that route I had never before noticed that alley. I’d like to say that I pay attention to my surroundings but this proves I must not be very observant and this next story confirms that.  Just before the New Year as I took down the last year’s calendar and I leafed through the pages (it was a calendar I had purchased, not a freebie which makes this story even worse) and I noticed that each month had a covered bridge in the scene. I glanced at the front of the calendar; sure enough it was a series of covered bridge paintings. “How could I have missed that,” I wondered?  Well, I had; just as I had missed that alley. Sometimes it feels as though I spend most of my life asleep at the wheel.

I know I have been when it came to my faith.  For over fifty years I didn’t understand what I said I believed.  I grew up going to church and I went to church nearly all those years. But going to church doesn’t save you. And let’s be honest here, one has to want to be saved in the first place. With all my best thinking I walked right past Jesus Christ all this time; until one day I woke up and abruptly turned left, right into Him.   I nearly missed THE most important thing; the solution to all of my problems (yours too) and the source of my greatest joy (yours too)!  # No longer asleep at the wheel.

“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not” John 1:10-11

# Close personal relationship. # Nearly missed it. #Don’t be a dope like me!

#Joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

A Day in Hell

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A few years back we had a cat named Clarence. Clarence was indoor/outdoor cat on our farm.  We let our cats be free to roam the entire farm as they wished with only one restriction; they had to be in the house at night.  One night Clarence didn’t come when we called.   We called and called his name, no Clarence.   We looked all around the farm, no Clarence.   Days passed, and we had begun to think that perhaps he was lost forever.

Five days after Clarence went missing; a local utilities truck pulls in our driveway.   The fellow inside jumps out and asks if it would be okay if he drove across our front lawn and into our field.   I said, “Absolutely”, and then asked, “Is there a problem with a power line?”  ”No” the man replied, “You see, we have gotten several calls to help a cat stuck on one of the electrical poles in your field and we have come to rescue it.”  My heart leaped!! Could it be??? This was a miracle!   Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined this rescue.   Dead on the road, yup.   Lost forever, you bet.   But not this!! So out to the field we go. And low and behold, there was Clarence way up high on the cross beam of an electrical pole.   Clarence the cat could not save himself, but love and a power greater than himself could. What a crazy and wonderful true story of love and divine rescue.

 The story of the Christian faith is just as crazy and wonderful!  God created the human race in His image and He had given mankind a beautiful garden in which to live and the freedom to roam anywhere we wished with one restriction.  

“And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’  Genesis 2:16.

when you eat of it you will surely die

WHEN.  Not if. 

You eat of it.   He knew we would.  And we did.

You will surely die.  The mortality rate for human beings is 100%. Nobody gets out of this life alive. 

From the moment Eve took the first bite it was the beginning of the end.  God called, we didn’t come.   The eternal garden party was over. Sin and death were now our destiny,  a destiny of our own choosing, a self imposed hell.  We fell for temptation by the rebel leader and the consequences were separation from the presence of God, exile from the garden and death.   Life on earth became a temporary assignment.  Out of the garden we went.

Now at the very same instant that sin and death came into life, the search and rescue mission was also born.  Immediately God sought us when we didn’t come when He called; for the very first time in the garden as we hid in the bushes ashamed of our treason.  God was on a mission, a mission with a single purpose: to seek and save us from our own self destruction and from the enemy of man, Satan. 

God called our names and pursued us in many ways from burning bushes to parting seas, to commandments etched in stone by the very finger of the Ancient of Days.  But we just couldn’t seem to grasp the idea that what he was after – was us!  He wants a personal relationship with each and every one of us.   Somehow in the midst of it all we fell upon our own sword.  We began to worship the rules and our life on earth, forgetting that we are spiritual beings temporarily housed in a human body.   We wrongly think that if only we are good enough, or successful enough, or own the finest house that we win the game of life, and then God will love us.    What we can’t seem to grasp is that HE ALREADY DOES; He loves us unconditionally.  And it is that undeserved love or grace that makes us want to mend our ways.  We only need accept it and give it back to Him and to others.

The whole Old Testament is full of His attempts to love on; us and our failures to reach out and take that love.  It was at the very moment in time when it seemed as though we were lost forever, spiraling downward at breakneck speed, that God put His plan into action.  He knew the world needed help!   A savior!  The smoke signals were floating up to above from our puny planet!  We simply could not save ourselves! God knew in His heart there was only one way.   It was a plan that was predicted, yet very few would recognize as it unfolded.   God Himself would come down and save us. 

He was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended to hell.  On the third day he rose again from the dead.     Apostles Creed

So He did.   But not in the way anyone was expecting.    Riding in on a white horse, wiping out the bad guys?  You bet, we would buy that plan. A conquering hero, yes of course that is how He would come to us.  But the God who made the sun, moon and stars, formed into a fetus and born to a mom  just like you and I?  No way, that’s nuts!  The voice that spoke the earth, sea and sky into being speaking truth face to face with the beings He breathed life into? Naw.   The hands that healed the lame and opened the eyes of the blind took the nails and felt pain?  Crazy making stuff.  But oh my yes that is just exactly what he did.  And the God- Man Jesus died, just like you and I will someday die.   But the big difference is this:  Jesus, God with skin on, died on that Good Friday so very long ago to pay the ransom note for our freedom.  The very freedom we can use to either come back into the presence of the Father through Jesus Christ or use to reject Him, and therefore choose hell.  

Saturday is that silent day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  Have you ever wondered where Jesus was on that day?  The Apostles Creed tells he descended into hell.  Christ spent the day in hell because he loves us, and Romans tells us that God will go to any length to find us. We serve a God who has been to hell and back for us. 

And if we are honest, the hell  in our lives have been largely of our own making.  Yes, we not only choose it on earth, but we also choose hell for eternity. It is a choice WE are free to make. We can either choose to worship God alone, accept Jesus the God man’s grace and give it way to others.  Or not.  That is it.  These are the keys to the kingdom. God doesn’t put us in hell; we are free to walk up to the counter buy the one way ticket, either way ourselves. 

God makes easy terms to those who wish to find him. He calls us by name.  Sinner come home.   On Easter we celebrate new life in the spirit!  The proof is the empty tomb.  God is not dead!  We follow a living, loving God who loves us enough to live, to die, to spend a day in hell setting prisoners free and rose from the dead for us.    What a crazy and wonderful true story of love and divine rescue! 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long: we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.   For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.   Romans 8:35-39 (NIV)

Christ is risen!  

Be joy filled always, 

Christine Davis   

Inside Out

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Gloomy; that is the word that describes our current weather, the weather forecast and the weather postcast (I made that word up).  The last ten days we have seen little or no sunshine and it is starting to show. I go work and clients remark on the lack of sun.  I go to the grocery store, the clerk is hoping for the sunshine. My reply is always the same, “Guess we will have to make our own sunshine today.”  We are definitely affected by what happens outside of us.

Truth be told, it is what goes on inside of us that matters most. We can source our own light within or we can succumb to the gloom and doom without.  The decision is ours to make, really.  How we respond to what happens outside of us is directly proportional to what we have stored up inside of us and I think one of the best things we can do build up a bank of light inside to draw upon when times get tough. Genesis 1:2-3 tells us the beginning was dark and then God’s presence brought light.  Not to be confused with the sun and the moon – they were created on day four.  This light is God’s goodness and His presence and our acknowledgement of it. It is the primordial yearning found deep inside each and every one of us. It is the real you and me that transcends time and space that we crave and long for but have forgotten to go to in this material, time based world. And as a result our first response is to almost always look outside of ourselves for our happiness instead of inside; instead of turning to the God already in us who waits patiently for us to wake up from our slumber and notice His presence! 

I can not get peace and contentment from anything outside of me.  Believe me, I have tried.  I remember hoping for him or her to do this or that; or when I got thus and such then I would be happy. And while whatever or whoever it was that I was so sure would make me happy may have done the job for a time, nothing earthly has ever and never will fill me for the long haul; the effect is always temporary and fleeting.  Listen to me, nothing outside of me has ever or will ever give me lasting peace or happiness; peace and happiness are an inside job and a choice that you and I must make.   Paul reminds us that contentment is not specific to time or space (Philippians 4:11) but to a mindset, or rather a heart set (I made that phrase up). It’s an inside out job.

I am commanded by the red letters of the Good Book to let my light shine, and I can’t give away what I ain’t got.  In that case I must be directly connected to the Source, of course.

Gloom, pain, hurt or loss got you down?  Look in and up, then choose to store up and shine out a little Sonshine, the kind that lasts. 

“Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” John 14:27 NKJV

Be the light and be joy filled,

Christine Davis

 

Pacing Peppy

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 Pacing Peppy

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

“I am a very old man, and have known a great many troubles. Most of them never happened.” Mark Twain

For the last day and a half my twenty three year old quarter horse mare Peppy has been pacing the fence line. Back and forth and back and forth and back forth she goes headed no where in a hurry.  Sometimes our ten year old gelding (her son) Banner will join in her frenzied march.  Like me, I don’t think he knows what she is so worked up about, but he clearly feels compelled to jump in the on the panic march.  At one point I led her into a safe, quiet stall and spoke calmly and reassuringly to her, telling her there was nothing to worry about.  It was to no avail, she was sure something was going to eat her (horses are animals of prey and think that way).  From time to time she would stop- and Banner would join her- clearly he is the follower not the leader even though he dwarfs her in size- to stare across our field to the east.  What they were watching intently so very far away is a mystery to me.  There is an acreage with a horse and goat in their line of view and at one point I pulled out our binoculars hoping to see just what it was exactly that had gotten them so stirred up and you’ll never guess what I saw?   Nothing. No horse. No goat. Not. One. Thing.  Go figure.

Finally I just threw up my hands and at that point I wished she could talk and just tell me what she was so worried about.   But I don’t really think it would help, because I know the truth, she herself is not really sure.

Too many times in my life I have been just like Pacing Peppy. Worked up over some thing or event that may or may not have happened I have found myself in frenzy.  Back and forth and back forth I go in a futile panic march making much ado about nothing and going no where in a hurry.  Sometimes others have been influenced by the chaos I have created and joined in, even though they may not even be sure why.  From time to time I have stopped and stared into the frozen and even distant past, or gazed to an imagined future whose outcome I am entirely powerless to control.

Sometimes I have to throw up my hands ask myself just what the heck is wrong with me.  Why have I have robbed myself of the gift of the present because I was too unwilling,  stubborn or stupid (is there a difference really?) or too frightened to listen to the calming voice of reason of a trusted parent, family member, friend or confidant who pulled me aside and spoke calmly and reassuringly to me? Perhaps it is because humans are creatures of habit and habits are hard to break or because I just would rather pace the fence line of fear and worry.

Doing more of what’s not working never works, it is about as effective as hitting myself over the head with a hammer to relieve a headache.  Ugh!

There is a solution, and all that is required is a simple willingness to believe, trust and obey the tried and true spiritual principals of the Gospel of the God man Jesus Christ and here they are: Love God. Love self. Love neighbor as self. 

Our Solution loves us unconditionally and He is the Good Shepherd who loves His sheep, horses, and humans. He wants us to have and to live life to the full, with Him.

And that does not include a life full of fear.

Unlike the thief who wants to keep us pacing.

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

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None of My Business

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None of My Business

“I do not accept praise from men, but I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.  I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.  How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?”  John 6:41- 44

 I have been struggling getting my smart phone’s approval and it has got me feeling guilty. One of the apps is a pedometer and lately it has been giving me the message that I am a slacker and a failure.  But I know it’s not true! I get plenty of exercise; my phone just doesn’t accompany me for all of it.  For a time I ignored it, but finally it got to me and I carried it with me for a whole day to get the miserable thing off my back.  Why would I care what an electronic device thinks of me?

Several days later I was walking out to the barn early one morning and a simple, yet profound thought hit me right between the eyes.   This happens from time to time, I don’t mean thinking, but truth appearing when I least expect it from nowhere (and oddly enough just when I need it most).  This particular morning The Voice of Truth whispered into my not quite fully awake, still in need of coffee brain, “you have spent most of your life wanting the good opinion of others when the only opinion you need is Mine.” 

    And there it was like a bolt from the blue. One of those come to Jesus moments when I suddenly recognize the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and this was one of them. I care far too much what others think of me, even my phone.

 I don’t quite know where or when it all began, but somewhere in my youth I developed this insatiable need for the approval of other human beings and rarely if ever sought God’s.  Maybe it is because I can’t see God and I can see people.  I don’t know.  Maybe it began with sibling rivalry, vying for parents’ attention or after the first sting of rejection from a boy or a shunning by one of the mean girls in elementary school.  Perhaps a successful athletic run in school brought the need for applause my way. The truth is that I cannot say with certainty where and when the craving for other’s approval began.  But I do know this, that it is directly tied to my fear of rejection, I need others to like and approve of me.  I struggle when they don’t.

So once it began, it was an addiction I couldn’t seem to get a handle on.  It seemed to happen to me over and over.   I said yes when I meant no.   I went along to get along.   I did far too many things against my better judgment because in my mind I wanted to please someone else or earn their praise. I wanted, no needed others to like me. To think I was smart, or clever or unique.   It didn’t seem to matter whether it was work, personal relationships or volunteer commitments.  

Oftentimes my brain and heart would say “No thank you, I have no desire to do that!!” but out of my mouth would come “Sure, I would be glad to.” Why did I give up listening to that still small voice within?   How insane is that?  For the longest time I had no idea that I could answer, “No” or “may I have some time to think it over?”  Or it never crossed my mind to respond “let me pray about it and get back with you.”  Of course I might not SAY that because I wouldn’t want you to think that I am a religious nut or anything.  Or I WOULD say it so you would think I am pious.  There is that approval craving again.  And yet, what good is faith if I don’t use it?  And just where do I get real faith, faith with teeth for the tough times?  Let me make something quite clear here.   I don’t need to get God’s approval, because he loves me way more than I can get my small brain around and nothing is ever going to change that from His perspective.  I can do nothing to earn his love and neither can you. That was done on the cross.  But what I do need is to depend upon Him, to trust in Him with all my heart, and soul and I can’t do that if I don’t love him first.   When I trust Him then and only then will I ask His opinion and His help, not just in the big life and death matters, but in all the ordinary everyday matters. 

The message I get from outside of me is the same one my phone gave me,  I will never be enough.  I am a slacker, a failure. Until the last couple of years it never even crossed my mind to ask God or to look for solutions and answers in His Word. Why wouldn’t I?  Unlike my smart phone I take Jesus with me everywhere I go. For a time I ignored Him and   I sought inspiration and I am not sure what, probably the approval of others by reading the Bible.   I am a little slow you see and that slowness takes root in wanting YOU to think I am an independent, self sufficient kind of gal.  Well, those days are done, let me tell you.   Today I live with a singleness of purpose.   To ask God about everything and I mean everything, from the little squalls to the big monster storms in my life.  From the mundane to what should I fix for dinner Lord?   

 Years ago a friend of mine told me that what other people think of me is none of my business. I think that is what Christ is saying here in the passage from John.   If I am living my life by spiritual principles there is only One opinion that matters.    He knows how dangerous praise from man is and I do too.  I do far too much knowing you all are watching me. It is seductive and approval from other humans can puff me up with pride and then my head swells up out of proportion and I forget who should get the credit for any and all of my accomplishments in my life, and that is God and God alone.  Without Him I am nothing.  

God can and does speak through other people, but unless I am plugged in to Truth found only in the Word of God, there is no way I am going to know truth it if it hits me over the head.   And, now hear this: if I am running my life based on what other humans are saying I will just be living according to somebody’s version of the truth, not truth itself.

Truth never changes because God doesn’t change.  Unlike my phone which is constantly upgrading and changing like other people’s opinions of me,  which my friends, is shifting and sinking sand, and  none of my business.©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

Crushed

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CRUSHED

“Fall down seven times stand up eight.”   Ancient Proverb

Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?
Job 2:10b (NIV)

One afternoon, my husband Jay got a call from our son Alex, he had a tractor stuck in the field. Jay took off in his pickup with a tow strap. When he got to the field it was clear he needed a tractor to do the job. Returning home he exchanged his pick up for a huge, fifteen ton tractor with six foot tall dual tires on all four wheels. It’s a big machine. Off he went.

An hour or so later, Alex called to ask when his Dad had left. I reported he should be there any minute. Not five minutes later my cell phone rang. Caller ID told me it was a local person, but why were they calling me? “Wrong number,” I thought, but something told me to answer anyway.

It was Jay.

“Mom, (he calls me mom and I call him dad) I have been in an accident!”

My heart immediately goes to my throat.

“I ran over a pickup with the tractor!”

“Is anyone hurt?” I ask.

“You should see the truck!!” he replies.

“Is anyone HURT?” I ask again, fear rising.

“No, no one was hurt, but you should see the truck!!”

“I will be right there,” I said.

When I arrived on the scene I was dumbfounded. Jay was on a narrow gravel road by the river and the road had a blind ninety degree curve. On the right was a steep, grassy bank, higher than the tractor (the tractor cab sits at least as high as a semi cab or higher). Trees to the left. It was a completely blind corner. The ditch by the bank was almost level with the road. As he entered the curve, suddenly, there was a four door, four wheel drive pickup, right in his path. The driver had taken the inside of the bank in the curve and was directly in front of the tractor. And there was no time to do anything.

“He doesn’t see me!” Jay thought and suddenly the left front set of duals were crawling up the drivers side of cab of the pickup, then the back two, he tried to push in the clutch to stop the tractor but it wouldn’t engage. The tow rope had slid underneath the clutch as the tractor tipped and balanced on the four tires that were on the right side of the tractor in the shallow ditch.

“I am going to tip over!” he thought as the grassy bank was suddenly just feet away from the right side of the cab.

“I am driving over the driver side of the truck, and the driver is in there!” his thoughts raced.

And just as quickly as it had begun it was over. He was back on all eight wheels, yanked the tow rope out from under the clutch and stopped the tractor. The whole accident probably took ten seconds. Ten long seconds. Uncertain of what he was about to see, he opened the tractor cab door and saw, much to his great relief, the driver climbing out of the passenger side, escaping the ordeal with only a slight cut from the broken glass! His old black Labrador Retriever escaped unharmed as well.

His Chevy pick up, however, was dead as a doornail.

Both men were badly shaken, but by the grace of God were alive and well! The sheriff who arrived at the scene could not believe that no one was seriously injured or killed. The entire drivers side of the truck from front of the hood to the rear tail light was completely crushed.

The name on the caller ID was the other driver who let Jay use his phone, and as I was telling him how very thankful I was that he was unharmed, he told me the scariest moment was when he saw the SECOND set of duals climbing up his hood.

He was ticketed for failure to yield half the roadway. Add insult to injury (his truck was totaled).

The tractor didn’t have a scratch on it.

Life is just like that. I am cruising along, doing my own thing and some fifteen ton machine rolls over the top of me and it looks as though it is going to crush me! Perhaps it was the time I was dumped or betrayed by someone I loved. And just when I thought it was over and I was grateful I had survived, the second set of duals climbs up the hood at me: a natural disaster occurs, financial difficulties set in, an unexpected health diagnosis nearly crushes me adding insult to injury. So many times I too have been badly shaken, but by the Grace of God have come out on the other side alive and well with barely a scratch when there is no logical explanation how I could have. There were times I survived by the grace of God when I did not deserve to.

The book of Job is the story of all of us. A terrible storm wipes out all of Job’s herds and livestock and kills all of his children and their families. Just when he thought it could not get worse it does. He is covered with painful boils and goes to the edge of town to the garbage dump to quarantine himself. He has lost everything worthwhile in life. His wife offers no comfort when she tells him to “curse God and die.” Thanks a lot dear. Then his “friends” show up to sit with him a while and then proceed to tell him that he must have done something to deserve all of this punishment from God.

With friends like that who needs enemies?

Life is unfair. I will lose people I love. My spouse has said hurtful things to me and I have said hurtful things to him. I have had and will have physical pain. Well meaning friends have hurt me by giving us unasked for advice that feels like criticism. It’s all is part of the gig.

But through it all our friend Job is not destroyed, he chooses not to curse God and die. Even though he may have felt like it. And I have the choice to not be destroyed by the certain pain and difficulty this life offers. Job’s faith was firm and it didn’t falter in the worst of times. That is faith that is real. Firmly grounded in a power greater than himself. A faith that doesn’t throw in the towel when the going gets tough or climb on to the pity pot to set up camp. Job stayed the course and so must I, despite being crushed , blessing lies ahead. If I have the courage to believe. And honestly, that which doesn’t kill me, has made me stronger.

Faith requires action, sometimes the only action necessary is the simple action of belief.

A favorite prayer of mine when I can’t make heads nor tails of life is “Lord, help my unbelief!”

Job 42:10 says that , “after Job prayed for his friends, (there we go again, that common theme of praying for those who hurt us), the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. “

Nothing lasts forever.

Except the promises of God.

Be joy filled always,
Christine Davis

Be The Change

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Be the Change

“Keep on loving one another as brothers.”

Hebrews 13:1

Yesterday I had a long drive to Maggie’s track meet.   It was a good time to be driving; middle of the week, midday and consequently not much traffic.   I headed out on a freeway that had a nice long rural stretch, put on the cruise control and settled in.   Before long a nice looking sedan passed me and then pulled into my lane in front of me. As it often times happens cars tend to leap frog one another on the freeway.    I pull back out into the passing lane and am just about to overtake the other car when I notice their left turn signal is flashing.  I see a semi in that lane ahead and think to myself I can either hit my brakes and slow way down so they can pull out it front of me or I can punch it and pass them by and then they will pull into the passing lane behind me.   I am just about beside them so I punch the accelerator in my zippy little car and away I went.  It isn’t thirty seconds later when I hear a horn honk and glance in my rear view mirror  where I see a clean cut looking middle aged woman behind the wheel of  that car  and to my wondering eyes she is waving at me… with her middle finger!  

My jaw drops and I put my hand over my mouth in shock. Can’t you just feel how mortified I am?! And she can see my response and guess what?   She does it again!!   I am thinking, “oh my” and I wave, with all my fingers, and speed up and get around the semi and pull into the lane in front of him.   In my side view mirror I see the sedan coming up on my left and I make a decision to respond, but not in kind. I carry my Grandmother’s Bible in the pocket compartment of the driver’s  door and I whip that baby out and press it to the glass of my driver’s side window as she drives by so it can shield me from her in case she decides to wave at me again and honestly, I hoped it made her think twice about her behavior. (Secretly I hoped she thought I was a preacher, so she would REALLY felt guilty!)

Well, let me tell you, this encounter may not have made her stop and think, but it sure made me.  It made me think about: how angry, impatient, judgmental and unkind folks have become and the combination of these qualities acted out in our world never ends well.   It’s sure not the first time and it probably won’t be the last time human beings treat like dirt.

So I made a decision to try an experiment for…well, the rest of my life, and I hope you will consider joining me.   I have decided that I am going to be the change that I want to see in the world.    By that I mean I will do my best to:

Connect with God as much as I can, He is right here with me, all I have to do is look up and ask for  help and guidance and it will come.  I’ve tried doing life on my own and I ended up acting like the lady in the car.  Not good.  I need God’s help to love others well.

I will shield myself with my Bible using it as lamp for my feet and a light for my path.  Then God’s Word will be a bridge to build relationships and not a brick to whack others over the head with.  And by the way, the summary of what it commands is:  love God and love my neighbor, in that order and with God’s help I intend to become more obedient to those two commands.

I can’t give away what I don’t have, so I have to have love, kindness, respect, patience, forgiveness and the like stored up in my heart if I intend to give those things away to others.  Again, that requires help from above and from my shield, the Good Book.

So with no excuses, which are like noses- everybody’s got one, I go forth to be the change I want to see in the world and with God’s help, that won’t include any middle finger waves.

Be the change and:

Be joy filled always, 

Christine Davis

Hurting People

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“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.”  Leviticus 19:18 NIV

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.  Do not lose your inward peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. “

 St. Francis De Sales

 My grand dog Rocky is a Great Dane Labrador Retriever mix and he is a big dog.   Big enough see cinnamon rolls on the kitchen table at eye level (and make them disappear) and he is one of those fiercely loyal gentle giants.  Unless you attempt to harm his family, he is the nicest fellow you’d ever want to meet, kind hearted enough to allow Liz and Lance’s two young daughters to climb all over him and play dress up with him. 

 Last fall Liz and Lance rescued another dog Rusty who was a shy pooch and one afternoon at the park as another dog came over and sniffed the two dogs, Rocky growled and lunged at the dog.  Liz was surprised, she had never seen that behavior from Rocky before and she reasoned perhaps he was protecting the new pup. 

Not long after this incident friends in the neighborhood got a playful puppy and one day while visiting, the puppy took Rocky’s bone and once again Liz was surprised to see the Rock growl, lunge at and bite the puppy.   She felt horrible and decided he must be getting old and grumpy and would either have to stay home or wear a muzzle when around other dogs. 

Fast forward a couple months we came to learn Rocky had a bad tooth that had to be removed.  Liz went on to say that the vet told her it was really rotten and since the surgery he was his old self again, more active, better spirits and so forth.  I said that must explain why he snapped at those other dogs!   Rocky was in pain and just like people, pain can cause us to forget our better selves.

Hurting people hurt other people.

This was a good reminder to me that when someone snaps at me I am to remember I don’t know what may be hurting inside of that person that may have caused their outward behavior.  Perhaps the grumpy clerk at the grocery store just got word her husband was cheating on her.   Perhaps the person with road rage lost his job and is frantically trying to figure out how he is going to support his family and pay his bills.  Hurting people hurt other people.  Maybe the crabby neighbor has a cancer diagnosis and is terrified.   Hurting people hurt other people. And maybe, just maybe, my choosing to not pick up the other end of the rope; by choosing not to lash back at or judge them as our text suggests is just what the Doctor ordered. 

There is a solution. A smile, a kind word or an offer of assistance may just be the balm that soothes aching, pain filled hearts. (Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger”) Isn’t that what I hope others would do for me?

So I think I will let it begin with me.

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis