Humble Beginnings

>> Monday, September 24, 2012

I finally have a chance to participate in Patty Wysong's A2Z meme.

This week's meme letter is  H and I decided to share my first published work outside of FaithWriters... my Humble author debut...

It appeared in the 2009 November/December of  Dog Living Magazine and is based on the inmate/dog rescue program at the prison where I work. For more information on this special program, check out Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan.

A Second Chance
Shaking from fear and weariness, the scruffy dog crouches in the back of the crate seeking safety. Dirt cakes his face as fearful eyes dart back and forth.

It had been a bad day. 
The “nice people” kept him tied him up in a garage. At least there was food and warmth. 

Yet here he was, shoved in a cage that suddenly lifts from the ground, throwing him off balance.

He scrambles to stay on his feet. Anxious voices escalate, doors slam, and engines roar to life as his sensitive ears scream for relief. The motion makes his stomach lurch as the cage slides back and forth across the seat. The scene would be almost comical except for the sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach:

Fear.

The vehicle stops unexpectedly and there is momentary quiet. It doesn’t last long as the cage is abruptly hauled into the blinding sunlight, causing its occupant to blink and shrink back. The cage lands on the ground with a bump and the door swings open. A man peers in. 

“Hey, Buddy, come on out,”comes a soft whisper.

They gaze at one another as a hand slowly slips in, gentle fingers patting his paw. Tension seeps out of the weary little body and he relaxes ever so slightly.

Craving an act of kindness, he leans forward, hope replacing apprehension. He wonders if it is worth the risk even while slowly inching toward the compassionate voice.

“Hi Buddy. My name is Joe. Doesn't it feel good to get out of there?”

The dog cautiously draws near and greets his benefactor with a tentative lick on the hand.  Momentarily tensing when Joe scoops him up, he soon calms under gentle crooning.

“Don't worry, Buddy,” Joe whispers in his ear, “We're going to be friends. I know you're scared right now--so was I when I first got here--but soon enough you'll realize this place isn't so bad--for a prison.”

As Buddy curls up in welcoming arms, Joe continues in soothing tones.

“I don't know what you've been through, but I'm guessin' much the same as me: unwanted, always scrapin' by. And trust? No way. I'm a lifer, locked up forever, so I know what I'm talkin' about. Trust is hard, but I got yer back. I won't let you down and I promise to take good care of you. Over the next few months, I'll always be here. Then when our time is done and you go to yer 'forever' home, you'll remember today: the beginning of your second chance--something we all deserve....” 

Joe's wistful voice trails off as he stands. Nodding to the guard, he heads back to his cell as Buddy trots along.   

The bad day just got better.

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A Little Off the Top

>> Tuesday, September 18, 2012



It was beautiful outside and about the last thing I wanted was to be stuck indoors.

Would have really liked to play golf, but couldn’t justify it when there were so many things on the home front in need of my attention. In order to satisfy my urge to commune with nature, I decided to tackle yard work.

I moaned and groaned through weeding and decided I needed some upright activity. So I grabbed the hedge shears and began envisioning the masterpiece my burning bush would soon become.

There I stood, scissors poised. Yet something held me back…happens every time. I know it’s silly. A little embarrassing actually. My issue?

I’m afraid of causing pain to an innocent plant.

It just seems kind of cruel. After all, what did the poor thing ever do to me? It fulfills its intended purpose, growing and sprawling in fine bushly fashion and how do I reward it?

By whacking off its limbs.

My rational side knows that trimming stimulates new growth and make for an all-around healthier shrub. But still...

“Just get on with it,” I muttered and plunged ahead. Soon a pile of branches surrounded my feet and it was shaping up rather nicely.

Then it hit me, mid-snip:

Pruning.

He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, 
and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so 
they will produce even more.    John 15.2 NLT 

 
Maybe that’s why I hesitate and worry about the inhabitants of my yard: Even though it’s good for them in the long run, pruning hurts.

We're the same way.

God makes it very clear that we are to produce fruit for the Kingdom. And divine pruning goes along with it.

I want to be a fruit bearer by using my gifts and living a life that pleases him. And I know I’ll need trimming from time to time. It helps us grow and teaches us to trust him. But sometimes it’s hard to see that it’s for our benefit in the midst of the pain.

Of course, the alternative wouldn’t be so great either. Would I really want him to just ignore me and let me grow wild and out of control? No.

But maybe I can request just a little off the top.

Finished Product (You should have seen it before...)


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The Self-Opening Gate

>> Monday, September 10, 2012


This week I feature my writer pal, Joanne Sher, whom I met through FaithWriters. She's a fun gal who love, love, loves to laugh. And her smile is amazing. Hope you enjoy!

I love the devotional book Streams in the Desert by L. B. Cowman. There's almost always something in there to bless me, to make me think.

Not too long ago, I'd been struggling with taking the next step. I wondered if I was actually following the path the Lord had led me to, or if I was going my own way. I was, in a word, unsure. My path was NOT clear.

As I read through that day's devotional from Cowman, God spoke to me right where I was.

There is a self-opening gate which is sometimes used in country roads. It stands fast and firm across the road as a traveler approaches it. If he stops before he gets to it, it will not open. But if he will drive right at it, his wagon wheels press the springs below the roadway, and the gate swings back to let him through. He must push right on at the closed gate, or it will continue to be closed.

The writer (Henry Clay Turnbull) goes on to explain that our walk with God is just like this. If we find an obstacle in our path, we are not to stop and wait for it to move. We must continue moving forward, and God will move the obstacle for us. Just like the Israelites crossing the Jordan in , we may have to step into the water before the obstacle will go away. Yet, if it is God's will, we will step through on dry ground.

It is much easier, often, to give up, or try to figure out the problem in our own power. Yet, stepping forward in faith, if you are in His will, is clearly the right thing to do. So, in the words of Turnbull:

Is there a great barrier across your path of duty just now? Just go for it, in the name of the Lord, and it won't be there.

So, I need to step forward in faith: work on my book despite the distractions, raise my children in God's way even if it's not easy, exercise my spiritual gifts no matter the difficulties. Once I do, God will move the mountain.

What do You need to step out in faith and do?

 
Joanne is a Jew by birth, a Christian by rebirth, and a writer by gift. A native Southern Californian, she now lives happily in West Michigan with her husband and two school-aged children.

Her first book, still seeking a home, explores God's preparation, protection and provision through her husband's serious health issues. She is also working on a biblical fiction set during King Saul's reign and centered around the handmaiden of Saul's daughter Michal.

She is also a regular blogger, not only at her own site, but at the FaithWriters blog. She also posts monthly at Jewels of Encouragement, The Barn Door, and Internet Cafe Devotions.

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