Love through a new lense

This blog post is from Silver Strands -by Roselyn Staples- We both blogged yesterday about Molly’s party. I thought it would be fun to see the same event through two different sets of eyes.  Thank you Roselyn.

 

“Could we have a birthday party for Molly?”

I answered, “Sure”, without really thinking much about what my adopted granddaughter was really wanting to do. It didn’t occur to me, at the time, that I had never even heard of a birthday party for a dog let alone hosted one.

Molly is a Maltese dog that I inherited almost a year ago when my friend died. This dog is a ball of white fluff that is usually under my feet or pushed against me in such a way that my hand is on her back. Molly has navigated a lot of loss for an eight pound six-year-old.  I think that’s why I try to make space for her Velcro attachment.

But, her story isn’t all about loss and trauma as in this transition process she has gained the extraordinary love of my granddaughter.

Come, imagine yourself a guest at this party and even be present during the preparation for it.  Watch for evidences of love through the new lens of Molly’s Birthday Party.

In the mind of this granddaughter, the preparation has been the focus of attention for weeks. Yesterday, with the party just a day away, was spent packaging up all she would need to make the day fun. She had found a recipe for a doggie birthday cake so a couple of bags of baking ingredients and supplies were mixed in with pillows, blankets, crepe paper streamers and a tooth brush as an overnight at Besta’s (Norwegian for Grandmother) would be necessary in order to get everything done.

Our first stop, after loading the car for the overnight was to stop at the Pet Store.

This child had $10 and she wanted to spend it on a gift for Molly.  Once she spotted the pink blinked princess dress the decision was made. It was sacrificial and expensive but did not appear to cost the giver anything.

IMG_4539

Then came shopping for the food. It went quickly because this child had come prepared with a list of what would be needed. Invitations had been sent and responses received so it was possible to buy exactly what we would need for the guests and what would be needed for Molly’s cake. I watched in amazement as the ground beef cake was assembled, baked and then frosted with peanut butter and banana. There was joy in this labor as all was done for the purpose of doing something special for the one she loved.

IMG_4540

Soon my house began to feel like a place to celebrate. Streamers hung from the balcony, the stair rail was wrapped in crepe paper, balloons were secured after being scripted with “Molly is 6”. Love flows from the heart but creates an environment that causes one to pause and ask, “What special thing is happening here today?”

IMG_4546

This child included her whole family in this event. Her daddy grilled hamburgers outside in below zero weather, her mother took time off work bringing a dog sweater as a gift and her sister was by her side planning, decorating and exploding with creative ideas. What is it about love that make it contagious?

IMG_4549

As we filled our plates and found a place at the table we noticed there was an empty chair—but not for long. Molly jumped up on the chair and rested her little head on the table. As I watched her, I wondered how much she understood about being the recipient of unconditional extravagant iconoclastic love.

IMG_4554

I wonder how much I understand about unconditional extravagant iconoclastic love? Is it possible that SOMEONE is loving me in this way today?

Do I need to see love through a new lens?

 

 

Advertisements

Well, that’s a first!

It seemed like a normal invitation. “Would you like to attend Molly’s birthday party and lunch afterward?” What made this invitation interesting and a FIRST for me is that Molly is, wait for it…a DOG! The party planner happens to be eleven years old and possesses quite a few administrative gifts.

Once she knew I was interested, she approached me with her mini tablet in her  hand, “Could I have your email address? She asked.” I’d like to send you some details and a reminder that you agreed to bring chips.”

A few follow-up emails and reminders came. Today, in below zero temperatures,  Molly’s party was held. Pink balloons marked the house’s outside entrance. Yep! this is it!  These two sisters had both taken the time to decorate with party pink.

CKnNo3a3RDeQLLD82KE73A

Molly was barking with excitement and was delighted when I arrived. I noticed all of the home-made party details as they pointed them out to me. “Could I take some pictures because this is my first party for a pet?” I asked. (I had no idea it would be this blog post.)

“Sure!” they said.

I loved the drawing of Molly posted on the back of this box. The girls even decorated the stair railing with pink touches of crepe paper and balloons marked ‘Molly’s 6th’. The eldest was in charge of making contact, the menu and the party agenda. They were both so proud and took ownership over their involvement and I was proud of them.

0kro7xqeatmxbnst0g3w.jpg

 

sa6w4xjtdyyiv8g98jyya-e1514503667142.jpg

 

My young friend purchased, with her own money, the pink party dress bedazzled with pearls and rhinestones. Molly was sporting it quite well. It was so cute on and made me feel a bit under dressed. (Just kidding) We took time for a bit of “show and tell” as they brought out other outfits in the dog’s wardrobe which included two beautiful red Christmas outfits. This was a first for me in pet fashion.

IMG_0575

I said at one point, “I’ve never been to a birthday party for a dog before! You’ve set the standard for any pet party for me.”  I seem to remember my first of anything.

I recall my first:

  • solo
  • kiss
  • time flying
  • time out of the country
  • passport stamp
  •  pregnancy
  • birth
  • sip of coffee
  • time eating different ethnic foods

Okay! So you get my point. I remember my “firsts” quite well. This was definitely a first for me. We gathered in the kitchen before lunch and circled around the island, held hands and prayed. My friend blessed each of us in the circle and the food.

As soon as AMEN was spoken. The young coordinator made a suggestion. “Let’s sing Happy Birthday to Molly now!” Without any deliberation we began. “Happy Birthday to you… Happy Birthday to you…” As we joined in chorus, Molly enjoy the festivities and spun around a few times as we finished. “Happy Birthday, dear Molly, Happy Birthday to you!”

Nest we moved to the round wooden dining table. During lunch, we talked about our recent Christmas gatherings and family activities. Molly was invited to join us as we visited and was quite content to sit with us. At one point she laid her head up on the table with it cocked slightly listening attentively to our conversation.

“Oh, my!  Someone has to get a photo of Molly.” I said. “It’s like she knows this is all for her.” I didn’t know if I should get up from the table during the meal and I was concerned we might lose the magic moment. Molly responded to the commotion and disruption and got down from the table only to jump back up again.

They all began talking at once asking, “Molly put your head own the table again. Just like you had it before. Can you put your head back up there Molly?” It wasn’t tilted exactly the same way, but Molly did pose once again on cue.

IMG_0574

Finally, we indulged in chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting. While Molly ate her own version of a birthday treat,  a ground beef, egg and cheese “cup-cake” with peanut butter and banana frosting.

img_0576.jpg

If you really knew me you would know I’m a bit pet-impaired. But at one point while sitting on the couch, Molly snuggled right up to me, laid her body up against my thigh and laid her head on it. I buried my fingers into her furry head for quite a while. She was just so cute as she lay there in bliss. Well, that’s a first! I thought.

I’ve been asking God to surprise me. He has been doing that a great deal lately. I’ve been asking him to do a new thing. This certainly was a FIRST and new thing! “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past, See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18,19

I will remember this DOG party. It was simple and sweet. I will also remember it because of the delightful young party planner. I was touched because this precious eleven year old wanted to invite me, a woman in my mid fifties, as her and the dog’s guest. I was the only guest other than family. That is the way my young friend wanted it.  I was truly honored to be present for my first ever birthday party for a dog.

fullsizeoutput_66a7

 

Pause and reflect back on some of the” firsts” you’ve experienced recently. Think about the ways God is doing a new thing and thank Him.

 

 

 

Don’t sweat it…The Lord will provide

IMG_0236

“I’m really sorry. I don’t think I will be able to come to that Christmas event or help at your product table because I have a family funeral out-of-state. I’m bummed out! I wish I could be two places at once. I could try to get back in time or just meet you there.” She explained.

“No, don’t worry about it. I get it.” I said. “You had no way of knowing. You need to be there. Don’t try to make it ALL work. That’s silly and too much travel. I release you in Jesus name.  I’ll try to find someone else. I love you we’ll have coffee in January. Okay, dear? Bye!”

I hung up the phone. As I sat in my chair beside the Christmas tree, I wondered who God had for me and how I was going to get the assistant position covered so quickly. God, you know who is supposed to help and I trust you to provide.  This was my simple prayer.

IMG_0237

This cancellation call set in motion a series of text strings to multiple friends. I have never had difficulty finding an assistant.  BUT one by one I sent out texts asking for help. These return texts came in:

  • Hello, I’m still at work and not enough time to request time off from work. Maybe, next time. Hugs!

 

  • I would so love to go but I’m with my grand children tomorrow! It WOULD be so much fun. PLEASE keep asking… it will work some day!!!

 

  • I’m going to need to say no. I’m so sorry. The earlier time departure just won’t work for me. Plus, we have made commitments to serve.. I’m really bummed! Please keep me in mind for the next time. Praying for you!

 

  • Oh man! Seriously??!! I can’t do it today but normally I would do it in a heartbeat. My daughter has team photos for gymnastics after school and a Christmas concert tonight at school.

 

  • I know I told you to call me if you didn’t get it covered… Rats, I just left home now and started shopping, don’t think I’d get home and ready in time.

 

 

SF4RfwrNRaqH%7H11T8DJw

Moments before I left my home the day of the event. I texted my cousin: Please pray- I hope someone from the church, whoever God has selected,  will be willing to staff the product table. I know God has this. But I did think of you. I was thinking “Man, I wish my cousin Annie lived closer.”

My phone chimed and lit up with this text from her: I wish I were there! I’d love to help! But he will provide someone better than you could have chosen. They will need to do this for you! This is a word from HIM… He’s gonna do something good.

I planned to travel with my  friend  Kathleen. She was returning to her former church and was slated to do the leading of the music so I didn’t want to burden her or keep her from visiting with old friends. We had a wonderful drive, the roads were clear and newly fallen snow lined the highways. we had a delicious lunch, we drove around Manitowoc for a little bit.

When we arrived at the church we quickly unloaded and she helped me a ton. I was greeted graciously by the women in charge. The candlelit sanctuary was lovely and the tables were set and vacant for a few more minutes until all the guest streamed in. As I was beginning to unpack my things for my table, I was approached immediately by a friendly women whose first words out of her mouth were, “Hello, May I help you with anything?”

A slow grin took over my face. “You’re willing to help set up?’ I asked.

“Yes, sure whatever you need.” she replied.

She was willing to assist and “man the table” before and after the event. I signed a book for her and prayed for her then released her to go home and attend to her young son.  A few seconds after she left a man from the church, one of the evening’s ”butlers” asked. “Do you need help with anything?”

“Sure!” I responded. “Find anything in a frame and hand it to me so I can pack it away.”

“I can do that! No problem.” He said.

 

fullsizeoutput_616a

fullsizeoutput_6173

fullsizeoutput_6160

fullsizeoutput_616c

fullsizeoutput_6179

 

  • luggage loaded- wheeled to car
  • books stowed away
  • trunk packed

My hanging bag too , like a cherry on top of a sundae was placed in the trunk. So many people helped and provided assistance. I plopped down in the car seat,  hungry and exhausted in a good way. I glanced over at my friend Kathleen and chuckled through my wide smile. I was so tickled because I was not only assisted, I was provided for ALL evening long.

One of God’s names is JEHOVAH-JIREH the Lord will provide.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24 

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

I encourage you to trust Him. He doesn’t change and he cannot lie. So, like me don’t sweat it… and watch the Lord provide.

fullsizeoutput_616d.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

God With Us – Immanuel

I’m not sure what I would have done without her.  As I pulled into her driveway, I saw her watching for me. She lowered her blinds, exited her home and hopped into my car.

“I’m so glad you are with me!” I told her.

WE WERE OFF AND RUNNING!

Jodi held my cell phone, navigated the busy roads, warned me, even before Siri did, about upcoming exits and turns. As it got darker and the roads narrowed, she pointed out the street signs and said, “Yeah, yeah, this is right. I’ve been over here before. You’re doing great!” I was so glad she was with me.

I thought earlier about Christmas. Specifically about God being with us! It still blows me away that the God of the universe  left the splendor of heaven and came to Earth to dwell with us. His nearness is amazing! It was being taught and shown to me in so many tangible ways as my friend Jodi was with me all evening.

She was with me:

  • in the car
  • on the road
  • as we unloaded my full trunk

She helped in so many ways. She was with me and anticipated my needs:

  • set up the product table with me
  • contacted the coordinators when we had a need.
  • prayed for me
  • hung up my coat
  • kept me on track (that’s a TALL order)
+D3fN9b0QzSqkN9ci48olA

“Hey, before the end of the night let’s get a selfie!”

I was handed an itinerary for the evening.  I glanced at it briefly. We stood to sing a few Christmas carols and sat back down during a hilarious video. All of a sudden I couldn’t  find my paper. Where is it? I sat looking left and right and under my seat.

No need to fret, no worries, Jodi simply grabbed one from the event planner’s chair and handed it to me. She was with me. She was aware of my every need.  I about burst out laughing when we stood again because I realized I had been sitting on my paper.  It was  permanently creased in the shape of my bottom. No kidding!

When I showed her my paper, Jodi’s eyes sparkled, she bit her lips and shook her head. Then the corners of her mouth turned upward as a smile took over her face. Without words she communicated clearly, Too funny! That’s your paper? You are a bit flighty just before you speak. No shame- no biggie!

A precious song touched my heart deeply.  One of the lyrics was, “let my heart be your Bethlehem.” I sniffled a bit and was about to begin to bawl because the soloist was a young anointed gal with young ballet dancers on the stage too. These things reminded me of and made me miss my daughter Grace.

Jodi instinctively knew and had a Kleenex ready for me. She was truly with me. Just before I took the stage I felt her hand on my shoulder as she prayed again for and over me. She was with me and so was God.

fullsizeoutput_6069

Wow! It was a privilege to chat with these lovely sisters and hear a bit of their story. Of course Jodi was with me and snapped the photo.

I believe whatever is true in the natural is true in the Spiritual as well.  The way Jodi was with me and took care of my every need is a picture of God. God is a with us God. He is – Immanuel.

I was aware of the care my friend gave me during this event. Jodi was more than an integral part to the evening, she was a Godsend. I am challenged to perceive more clearly all the ways God is with me.

Do you know he is with you? Do you experience his nearness? Let’s begin to look for Immanuel in new and deeper ways, not just this Christmas season but also into the new year. Here are a few scriptures. Let these soak in because He is with you even MORE than the way Jodi was with me.

  • “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; In his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
  •  So do not fear, for I’m with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 
  • Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
  • And surely I’m with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20b

 

fullsizeoutput_6077

I got to serve with these beautiful ones. Such a picture of the body of Christ working together in our own areas of gifting. And He is with us all!