"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Puppy craziness

We got a new puppy. Yes, she is adorable and yes, my children are loving her... but, oh man!, I am about ready to tear my hair out! It is a good thing they are so cute, or she would have been seriously sold away on ebay to the highest bidder!

Seriously, though, in my frustration this morning as she yelped her way through my entire "quiet" time with the Lord, I cried out to my Father in agitation, "I don't see you Father! I don't see you in this puppy! What am I to learn here?!"

I am finding more and more that when I ask... and when I leave time to listen, ...He answers. Sometimes His answers are silence, yes... but not today. Loud and clear into my depths I knew the answer. Steph, this is about your heart. My heart needs a little work. Shocking, I know?! More heart work, Steph?! Yep and so it continues!

I knew I was upset by this little pup ...and more upset than need be. Always a good sign for a heart issue in my life... when the reaction far exceeds the problem. My reaction to this little sweet puppy's loud, yapping-antics far outstripped the necessary and normal frustration. I was mad. What is the word they use here--- manic. I was manic. What was up with this extreme response from my heart?! But, I knew the minute I asked the Lord...

The last year we spent in Turkey was a very difficult year for me. We had a neighbor directly below us (in an apartment) that truly and sincerely hated us. She made much effort and went to length to show us this during that last year. The anger she felt was really unexplainable... but she blamed it on our noise. We were apparently the noisiest folks she had ever come into contact with. Our family noise was a daily thorn for her. It was very difficult to live in this little apartment always afraid of being too noisy, constantly "shushing" our kids, and trying with all our might to make her like us. It never worked. There was simply nothing we could do (and we tried everything we could think of) to make her like us. She just was determined to dislike our family and to make that clear in many ways. So, all that said... my husband and I joke now that we experience a bit of "post traumatic stress syndrome" when it comes to noise and neighbors.

So, well... puppies are not exactly quiet! And yelping in the night and yelping in the early morning hours have brought a fair amount of angst in my heart. When I asked the Lord where He was and what He wanted to teach me in this "puppy" circumstance... the answer was clear. He put His finger on my heart and whispered, "fear of man".

Simply put, I was afraid of what the neighbors would think of me.

You see, I care entirely too much about what others think of me. I have always cared entirely too much about this and it has been a hindrance in my relationship with Him from the beginning.

I have sought another's esteem, rather than seeking His favor over me first. I have felt 'wrong' somewhere deep within when someone is angry at me, rather than believing His thoughts aboutme. Rather than walking in my Christ-secured identity, I have sought my "okay-ness" from others. This is not a new struggle... this is, by definition, a Stephanie-problem that has been around for a very long time. But, that has been changing. God's finger has been on it for a while now--- like a pressure point, He keeps pushing and poking.

Years of prayer and working on this issue and I feel ready (again) to lay it down. As I write this, the verse for today that pops into my inbox (no joke--it really is the verse for today and I just stumbled upon it in my inbox!) is Col 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man". Hmmm... think my Father has a message for me today?!

So, raising a puppy... does this count as "whatever you do?!" Can I listen to puppy yap and cry and not worry about bothering the neighbors? I believe that is what God is calling me to do--- as silly as it seems. Sometimes I feel silly bringing such small things to the Lord... I mean we are talking about a dog here, right?! And, then I read this afternoon in Job 39--- Do you know when the young mountain goat gives birth? God sees all things. His eye is on even the smallest, insignificant mountain goat giving birth. I feel confident that He is able to care, willing to care, about my puppy and me.

I believe He wants me to hand Him everything, again. I believe He wants me to release (again!) my reputation, my security, my everything to Him. I believe He wants me to live my life freely in Him, His thoughts of me, and in His call on my life. I believe He wants me to live in freedom. He wants me to live as unto Him.

So, Father I give you this sweet puppy. I give you the night time crying and the early morning yapping. I give you my neighbors and my relationship with them. ...all these things are yours! Even my "quiet" time is Yours! Father I release and surrender to your kind, big, powerful and loving hand.
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