Monday, September 29, 2014

Unconditional Maggie

I've never been an animal person. Never. Now I don't want to see them suffering or hurt on the side of the road. But I'm just not an animal person. I'm just not a dog person. At least I wasn't. Until two years ago. The year Maggie came into our lives.

Maggie is a beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who has broken the cold and callous heart of this self-professed non-animal person. She has turned me into one of those crazy, freaky dog people. You know who I'm talking about. Those people who buy little fleece sweaters so their princesses won't get cold outside. Those people who search the aisles of the local health food store for the best organic, non-filler dog food and treats. Those who have their dog sleep in the bed with them. I have become one of those.

But it's ok. Because I now understand the gift she shares with me. The gift that makes me love holding her for around two to three minutes the moment I walk in the door every. single. day. Maggie runs up to me, jumps in my arms and practically licks my face off. Maggie possesses that love we wish we received every day: unconditional and all encompassing love. The kind of love we crave, yet don't deserve. The kind that fulfills us and is also needed to live richly and fully.

Why don't we love that way? Oh, I love my husband and sons. Always. But do I like them all the time? Heavens no. They make me crazy, sometimes disappoint me, and every now and then, really irritate the hell out of me. (And I know I do the same to them.) But Maggie does - over and over and over. She doesn't remember the times I've messed up, or when I've fussed at her for getting in the recycling, or when I've accidentally left her outside (not for too long, I promise!). She still craves me. She still loves me completely.

So now I get it. I get why others are in love with their pups. These four legged friends are quite possibly the closest embodiment of Christian agape. I feel we could all learn a thing or two from my sweet Maggie.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sometimes the Most Horrible People are the Most Wonderful Ministers

It's funny how something that once gave me such joy and fulfillment became a chore and burden.  It's been almost three years since I last wrote.  I felt that what was going on in my life with the tragedies that surrounded my family were sucking any creative juices out of me.  I was stalled.  Plus, "It's a Golden Day" is supposed to be golden, right? I wasn't golden.  I was tarnished.   And this year has been no better.  My husband was hospitalized for almost six weeks for a ruptured gallbladder and intense infection that would not go away.What with his Freidriechs Ataxia, the recuperation has been hard. And just who wanted to read about that anyway?

I guess some people do.

I just returned from my annual beach trip with 14 college friends. (Actually, my third post five years ago was about these phenomenal women.)  Some of whom - although we weren't the closest in college - have now become my dearest friends and confidants. We spent the weekend eating, laughing, crying and spending the evenings playing that game "Cards Against Humanity: the game for horrible people".  If you've never played it, it REALLY is horrible.  So horrible that we took out all the cards about God and stuck to the cards with words we had to look up on the internet.  But we laughed so hard and learned so much!  And I love those horrible people!

Over the course of the weekend, a few mentioned that they missed reading my blog. They mentioned specific posts that spoke to them.  They told me how some stories still resonate - and mentioned them by name. One told me that it ministered to her.  Others agreed that my blog was a ministry.

Whoa now.  Ministry? This was supposed to be a silly "Mom Blog".  Pictures of my children. Family events. Recipes. And even a little frivolous, self-absorbed, materialistic "interest pieces" thrown in for good measure. I don't write those women's ministry blogs.  I minister to others through my blog? I don't know about that. I feel very unworthy about it.  If you complimented me on a party I threw or a great lesson I taught or the colors and patterns I have in my living room, I could accept that very easily.  But if you compliment me on how I've handled a situation or that you think I've done something with grace or selflessness, I find that hard to swallow.  Because I don't feel I've done anything at all. I don't feel worthy of such words. Because I can be very unlovable at times.  I can be sullen.  I can be tired.  I can be irritable. And someone who is selfless or graceful doesn't act that way.  But I am a broken, sinful and prideful person. I just think I'm human, doing what anyone would do if God gave them the same situation.

And it was ME who was ministered to this past weekend. These women inspire me to grow closer to Christ and to strengthen my relationship with Him. Never take my eyes off of Him. They don't know it, but they are not only my friends, but my mentors. They are wise counsel and they know exactly what to say.  God gives them the words - exactly what I need. And I love them so much for it.

So it seems we all have a ministry to use for each other.  In this crazy world we call our life.  We all have a gift to share. We all have something to offer.  Even when we feel so unworthy and imperfect. We all minister to each other with the richness that others see. And I guess I'll start back with mine...