Friday, April 20, 2012

True Satisfaction

Satisfaction. What is that? No, you don't need to go grab a dictionary...I mean, look it up online... Think about your own definition. What do you need to be satisfied? Or are you already??

I have to confess- I'm not always satisfied. And when I'm not, everything seems wrong. If I get focused on a certain desire and let it consume me, I forget about all of the blessings that God has given me: my job, my friends, my family, my health, a phone that texts, my college degree, etc. etc. etc.

There is only one thing we really NEED for satisfaction. Do you know what that is? It's found right here:

Philippians 3:7-9
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

THAT is where true satisfaction lies. Of course, we're human- we'll forget about this again and need another reminder. Thankfully, God is patient! And why is satisfaction with our Savior so important? Kelly Needham wrote saying that it is easy for that desire to have something in order to achieve satisfaction can become an idol. Once that happens, idols are roadblocks to our spiritual growth. Please read her entire article, but if you don't have time- read the 3 paragraphs below!

 The following is an excerpt from Kelly Needham's blog that gripped me and I felt the need to share! I hope that it impacts you as it has me.

"Can we be honest for a second? If we are waiting on anything other than God to have a full heart, then we have created an idol. God is no longer our God and no longer the one who fills our soul. He is no longer the One in whom we have placed our hope. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be married or wanting a season of life to be over, but as soon as we need that to happen to be completely fulfilled, it is an idol.

So where do we go from here? May I first suggest that we stop being satisfied with singing songs in church, quoting Scripture and then living like none of it is true. It doesn’t matter what we say we believe or what we sing; our actions will show the true beliefs of our heart. If you feel as if you could never be happy unless you are married, have children, etc, then be honest with yourself, God, and others. Admit that you’re setting your hope on something else and don’t actually believe that God alone is enough for you. Let’s start by being honest about what we actually believe because we can actually move forward from there. If you aren’t being honest, you are deceiving yourself and creating a roadblock for any spiritual growth. Any progress you try to make spiritually won’t last if you are building on a foundation that isn’t actually there.

So why do we have such a hard time being honest with ourselves in the first place? I think we desperately want to have it all together and be “the good Christian” with all the right answers. Maybe it’s because we care way too much about what others think of us or maybe it’s because we think that’s how we can please God. Either way, this causes us to lack a sense of raw honesty about where we are at and what we actually think about God and who we are as believers. There is something in most of us that hesitates to say, “I know the Bible says that everything is a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus, but I don’t actually believe that right now.” But if we want to see true growth and freedom from idols in our life, I believe it will start with that kind of honesty."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Trouble with Squirrels

I go back and forth between thinking that squirrels are either cute, or that they are evil rats with fluffy tails.*

I have a beautiful weeping dwarf almond tree. My Mom and I discovered it at a nursery last year. It was bare save for a single pink blossom & I begged her to let me bring it home! I'm pretty excited about it. But so are the squirrels. It hasn't given any nuts yet, but it's got some young shoots (which the squirrels like to eat). And since it is not even 5 feet tall, it would not take long for a single squirrel to nip the buds off my tree.

This week I spotted one of the furballs near the base of it and an argument began that went something like this:

I opened the back door and hollered:
"Hey! You!"
(very unladylike I know...but I've been hollering out of windows since I was a toddler and old habits die hard...)**

The cheeky squirrel stood up on his hind legs and looked at me.

"Yes, you...get away from my almond tree!"

The rodent gave a "Who me?" look before turning and hopping onto the trunk of my tree.

"Ahhh! No. Not for you. You will not touch it!" and by this time I was out the door and moving towards him.

Hanging upside down on the trunk of my little tree, he shook his tail.

"I mean it! Get off, Buster!"

Suddenly he hopped down and moved to the left towards a bigger tree.

"That's right. Mess with any of the other trees. The almond is mine!"

I turned my back and walked back towards the house. Reaching the porch I turned again and discovered the sneaky thing headed back towards my almond!

"No you don't. How dare you?! I..."

And while I was in the middle of remonstrating him the rodent did a flying leap and kicked my almond tree with his back feet before landing in the grass and facing me. His little beady eyes shone with triumph at this great insult he'd just inflicted. (I have this theory that squirrels know all about tone of voice.) He knew my outraged cries for what they were and celebrated. Practically yawning in my face, he trotted to the right and away from my tree. I slowed my scolding...

As I stopped, he suddenly whirled back around running towards my tree and leaping, kicked it mid-jump with his back feet! AGAIN!

"That does it! You hairball! Just you wait- Im going to get a pellet gun and then'll we'll see who's boss!" I charged him and sent him scampering halfway up one of the larger trees.

Of course...I don't think I could ever shoot anything besides a skeet, but I won't let him know that!

Squirrels are such brassy creatures and take huge risks. There are probably half a dozen stories I could share but I will only share one more. There is one squirrel I will never forget: Stumpy. He didn't have a name until after this incident.

Our nextdoor neighbors had a dachshund named Penny. She was incredibly verbal- when inside her fence- and thought of herself as intimidating. These neighbors had a birdfeeder in the corner of their yard- in perfect sight of our living room windows. Birds enjoyed it, all right, but the most frequent customer was a squirrel. This squirrel was very cocky.

Everyday he'd perch on the feeder and hang his tail over the side...just out of reach of little Penny's snapping jaws. And snap she did! She would bark up a storm while the fat squirrel sat and scoffed and chewed sunflower seeds. For months we'd hear her barking and know- the squirrel was there.

But one day, something happened! I'm not sure how it did, but we just happened to be watching!! Either the squirrel's tail had grown a bit longer or he'd never let it relax all the way before or Penny was suddenly able to jump an inch higher... Penny came tearing down the yard as usual sounding the alarm and the squirrel just smirked and chewed his seeds...but his smirk suddenly changed into squeaks of pain as he found his beautiful tail in the mouth of the insulted canine!!

My sisters and I gasped and yelled, "She got it!!" and watched in horror as she dragged him off the feeder. But she bit too hard and Stumpy was so terrified that he left 1/3 of his tail in her teeth!

Scampering up the chain-link fence and across the alley he climbed our fence and then fell. You see, squirrels can't walk along narrow high places without their tails- they depend upon them for balance! Poor Stumpy waddled and fell off the fence over and over again, eventually disappearing from sight. We never expected to see him again.

However, a few weeks later he was back- and with his shorter tail he was definitely untouchable and knew it! Obviously he'd only learned part of his lesson- and poor Penny, having tasted a bit of victory, never gave up. But she never caught him again! And we dubbed him: Stumpy. He became the fattest squirrel in the neighborhood- obviously people pitied him the loss of part of his beautiful tail...

*As much as an animal lover can think of creatures as 'evil' anyway...

**I was a friendly kid and just trying to be neighborly (instead of taking my nap). Mom had the windows open because it was a beautiful day and I could just see out them if I gripped the sill and stood on my toes. Spotting a neighbor I hollered "Hi, Mr. Man!"...and unknowingly gave away the fact that I was NOT napping...

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I looked up at the sound of thundering hoofbeats. Perhaps I should've been afraid. I stood still and watched the herd of horses racing towards me. I was 90% sure they weren't going to run into me. They turned about 5 feet in front of me and slowed as they passed, tossing their heads and whinnying. As they pranced around me and then dropped their heads to graze I let out my breath, suddenly realizing I'd been holding it. If my mother knew about this, she would've scolded me to no end- but she didn't know. I had told her I was visiting the horses at the end of the road...I didn't tell her that I was climbing INSIDE with them. There were about 15 horses and their leader was a nasty gray mare who tolerated me, but every once in awhile would charge at me to see if I'd run. I never did.

We were living in Mississippi. I was 10. Our neighborhood was part of a golf course, and there were only about 4 kids that my sisters and I knew. Being homeschooled, the limited access to peers made for a relatively lonely 3 years. We didn't have pets, so I adopted the horses- particularly one.

I would pick handfuls of grass and feed the horses before climbing into the field with them. Next I would search the ground near the gate for a nylon rope. The bales of hay given to the horses were usually tied in rope and after the horses had eaten, the ropes would collect near the gate. Finding one, I would spot the horse I was looking for: a tall, quiet bay. He had a halter on. I loved to take him on long walks around the field. Sidling up to him, I would talk soothingly and slip the rope through his halter. "Come on, Boy" I'd say and he'd willingly follow. Sometimes I'd jog and he'd trot along beside me. He'd stop to eat and I'd lean against him and stroke his mane. I never tried to ride him- I simply went to that field for company. I called him: Prince.

One time I proudly brought the one kid in the neighborhood who was my age to see the horses. "Here's mine!" I said as Prince trotted towards me, nickering a greeting. My friend was nervous. "Are you sure this is ok? What if they kick us??" "They won't" I said and patted Prince's neck, feeding him some fresh grass. Some of the other horses approached us, eager for grass. "OW!" my friend hollered startling them. "What?" I asked. "That horse stepped on my foot!" he said pointing at one of them. "Oh! I'm sorry! You do have to be careful you know." "Gross! There's horse poop everywhere!" "Don't step in it." I replied. I never bothered to bring the boy along again- he didn't understand why I found that field so enticing.

I'm not sure how I got my instincts where horses are concerned. Certainly, I wouldn't encourage little kids to go stand in fields of horses and let 'em play chicken like I did! I learned a lot about patience and respect from them. I miss those lazy Mississippi afternoons: basking in the sun, listening to the cicadas and walking through the grass with Prince. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Sunshine Blog Award

I've been feeling giddy about this. It's been a fun treat to dwell on for several weeks now. :)

I received a special surprise exactly a month ago! This lovely lady: Amy from Crazy Random Happenstances nominated me for the Sunshine Blog Award! She's kind of like a blog mentor to me...if I ever have questions about how to edit things, I know she'll have an answer- or find one. You should definitely check out her blog!

So with this nomination comes a little bit of work- a mini questionnaire:

1) Favorite Color: Green- and then every other color that exists!
2) Favorite Animal: Um, I am an animal person so I'd like to say ALL of them. If it breathes, it's my favorite. (This does not include mosquitoes, hornets or roaches.)
3) Favorite Number: I'm not sure I have one...
4) Favorite (non-adult) Drink: Chocolate Coke from Sonic!
5) Facebook or Twitter?: Both- though I probably definitely use Facebook more.
6) Passion: Is there a limit? 'Cause I have a whole list... Friends (not the show- actual people ;), Playing Sports, Gardening, Floral Design, Cooking, Reading, Bible study, My Job, etc.
8) Favorite Pattern: I have no idea. Sometimes I like stripes- almost always I love lace (is that a pattern?)
9) Favorite Day: The days I get to see friends. :) 
10) Favorite Flower: Peonies. :) Roses are a close second, followed by ranunculus, parrot tulips, anemones, hydrangeas, alstroemeria, bougainvillea, kangaroo paws, protea, wisteria, geraniums, clematis, lavender, camellias, magnolias, ginger, fuschias, salvia, wax-flower, rice-flower, lantana, azaleas, pansies, etc. etc. etc.

So there are my answers...finally. Thank you for the nomination, Amy! I'm sorry it took me so long to post this.

I'd like to pass the Sunshine Blog award on to some other bloggers that I enjoy: Crystal, Monica, Ben & MeganJamie, Hannah & Paul, Stacie Lynne, & two ladies I've never met but diligently follow: Megan & Michaela