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LLord of the Ringless Audio Editionove is the greatest gift in life. Discovering how to love God and love others daily, as Jesus instructed, continues to be the marathon hurdle Dee can only clear by His amazing grace.

Lord of the Ringless, 40 devotions and Bible studies,  fueled by years of desiring marriage, was written to encourage singles to wait hopeful and trusting that a loving Heavenly Father hears every prayer. Despite delay, single’s learn to live without pity or pining. Dee had no idea the birthing of the book would propel her to the husband who produced her Audie-nominated audiobook. Marriage became her miracle, a common feeling to those who have waited decades to find their helpmate. The wait over, the delight abounded. Sammy and Benji, Dee’s faithful companions, also walked the aisle at the wedding they approved 0f… inspiring more doggy devotions.

Dee is a writer, speaker, coach and author of Lord of the Ringless,  40 devotions and Bible studies inspiring faith. Dee has worked in singles groups, prayer, and juvenile justice chaplaincy ministries over 25 years. Newly married, she and Steve find great joy in dogs.dgsp n 3 min devos dogcat

dogSpirations, Little Life Lessons, Big God Moments, 58 devotions that span a decade of humor and inspiration from Dee’s schnauzers and Lab, Sammy. Released October 2015. A paperback (ebook) Dee launched dogSpirations as a joint

Reviews:

I have read a doggie devo (Dogspirations) each morning. It begins my devo time and has blessed me immensely. I look forward to the next one each time…It is very very special. I’m going to give it as gifts whenever possible.”     Nancy Broadhurst, financial officer

“This book has touched my heart in so many ways. It will make you laugh and cry as it teaches God’s lessons from beginning to end through Sam’s journey.Without reservation I heartily recommend this book. A real treat to all you Dog Lovers out there!!!”                    Donna Cardazone, CT technician

fundraiser with Canine Companions.

3 Minute Devotions for a Dog Lover’s Heart, and a companion gift book, 3 Minute Devotions for a Cat Lover’s Heart, were newly released May 2016. Both Barbour Books are mini-devo compilations; 25 inspirational stories contributed by Dee.

Dee has written devotions for CBN.com,  Crabgrass-in-the-garden (June 2016), Barbour Books, Heavenly Humor for the Dog Lover’s Soul, Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover’s Soul. She’s also written stories that ignite faith for Revel, The Dog Next Door, Guideposts, Christian Reader and Inspire Press. Her poetry is featured in Glimpses, an Inspire Press book (2014) as well as story contributions to Inspire anthologies, Inspire Promise (Dec. 2014), Inspire Forgiveness (Dec. 2015), and to be released Inspire Joy (Nov 12, 2016)

  

2010 Audio Publishers Association (APA) Audies Awards Finalist

 

 

 

Speedboat , Shortcut to Sex Pt 1 How to Date with Integrity

SPEEDBOAT, Shortcut to Sex    

lusty lake

      Forget the rowboat…

            Let’s climb in the  Speedboat…                                                                                                                           Motors are great if you are looking for speed and intensity and a shorter trip.

But speedboats need fuel to move forward. They can run out of gas.

                                                                                       

Relationship boats depend on the skill of the oarsmen and communication to propel forward. People who have the skills to communicate, develop the perseverance to work together and adapt to the extreme adventure of difficult challenges.

A friend stated, “When I was young, if things got crazy and we would start arguing, I would just kiss him real hard. It would distract him and the problem would go away for a while.”

  • Sex is powerful and created by God as a beautiful expression of faithful love and intimacy reserved for marriage, even though the temptation exists.
  • Outside of marriage, sex is a speedboat. For some, it is a comfortable delusion to skip the rowing stuff. Far from shore if the boat runs out of fuel—it is stuck without oars. God is not the pilot. The sensual smokescreen down, it may be a shock when we face each other in deep water—the boat is vulnerable to changing weather conditions and an unprepared crew.

Once I boarded a sailboat in the Santa Cruz harbor with a good friend. We had been invited for a sail around the bay. We cautiously stepped down rickety steps into a knotty pine cabin and a sign greeted us below deck. “On this vessel, all marriages are conducted by the captain and limited to the duration of the voyage.” We left after a brief visit.

The Decision … to reserve the gift of intimacy for your mate                                                                                                                                      … is made before the date.

You are gifting your future mate with the privilege of knowing you intimately, as God intended. The past behind you, your decision now will plant seeds for a new future and reap benefits. As you initiate self-control and overcome temptation through God’s strength as a single, you will build confidence in your ability to remain faithful in your marriage.

         It is God’s will you should be holy; that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. (I Thes 4:3, 4)

God’s manual for relationships, the Bible, is loaded with tools to relate to each other as God intended. From the wisdom and insights of Proverbs in the Old Testament, to Jesus and the New Testament, invitation to believe and receive His Spirit, born-again children of God (John 3:7)…loved, forgiven and free… we are encouraged to love others wisely and unselfishly.

  • What are the Biblical actions of love as described in the definition of love from,              I Corinthians 13

The will to follow Jesus, and draw upon His strength to live as He intended in our relationships, is possible as we trust and obey Him. We can trust He knows us because He loves us and made us. Romance was His idea since He created man and woman, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden.

Next week we will talk about how lines of respect drawn while dating sets the tone for respect in marriage, and more…

                                                                      Copyright  © 2017 DeeAspin

sketches by Erin Bambery-Veliquette  erinwriter.com

Wartime Stories from the South Pacific – 91 year old vet

Dad invited his friend, Ray, to our Memorial Day gathering last night. Then, he sent his Boomer kids another email this morning… more memoirs from the WWII War in the Pacific. Together, they’ve been harvesting freshwater pearls embedded in their minds each time they talk. Dad joined the Merchant Marines at eighteen—while Ray stationed for island combat in the Pacific.  At 91 and 93 years young their favorite topic?  Here’s the newest catch for those of you who do not have the privilege to hear these stories rolling fresh off active thinkers, God bless them!

 

I’ve told of my meeting a 93 yr. old Wartime Marine, Ray, who left that duty he’d volunteered for in 1942 after coming to California from the Midwest. A Missouri farm boy he was trained in Camp Pendleton and went on from there in a hurriedly leased Dutch flag tramp steamer quartered in the cargo hold with 300 other Marines.  They were new replacements to the 2nd Division in camp 30 miles outside of Wellington, New Zealand.

The 2nd DIVISION along with the 1st had retired there after their bruising hard won victory in the vicious battle over the last stop in the Solomon Islands – GUADALCANAL.  That named legendary jungle Island is still remembered as the 1st American assault on the seasoned Japanese forces. The enemy protected by a superior battle fleet, had been readying in that steaming equatorial island for their coming invasion of Australia.

Our friend among the fresh Marines arrived in New Zealand in August of ’43 aboard the escorted merchant ship to beef up the battle worn 2nd division after R&R stationed in tent camps near the Coast.

After 3 months of training and practicing landings they took off in November for the yet unknown South Pacific island of TARAWA.  Theirs was an initiating trial by fire since it didn’t go easy.  In the annals of Corp history it went down as a damaged reminder of the fickle tides of war.  The tides and a reef were against them besides a waiting well-fortified enemy’s machine guns and 1,500 of those that slipped down from cargo nets onto waiting landing craft were casualties overnight.

But last night on the phone while inviting him to a BBQ he was remembering how much he loved his M1 rifle with him constantly for over 2 years. He slept and ate with it. He kept it clean and shiny. He felt sadness recalling giving it up at wars end. He went on to stay and marry in California, worked for the State starting with Board of Equalization and then transferred for his remaining working career to the state Dept of Real estate.

Yet, he returns to thoughts now of his fellow Marines of 70 years past – the half American Indian guy on Saipan who carried 25 pounds of dynamite on his backpack for blowing up caves. He got a Navy Cross for personally attacking a group of small Japanese tanks and his use of the dynamite without any thought of personal destruction.  And, he thought of the BAR GUYS WHO WENT OVER THE SIDE heading for the beach WITH THAT 17 1/2 lbs. of firepower strapped to their backs plus ammo. He exclaimed we couldn’t have beaten the enemy and taken those mean places without the mobile BROWNING Automatic Rifle.

Anyway Ray has some physical challenges this week and won’t probably make the Memorial Day BBQ – but said “Have a good one.”

A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor    Proverbs 29:23

A good name is more desirable than great riches, to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.    Proverbs 22:1

December Blues – When Single and Waiting

The yearning to build our own family is as natural as the birds gathering twigs building their nests for spring in anticipation of their brood coming.

It can feel futile in fall anticipating holidays that represent the presence of family and loved ones—if we are single and waiting to meet someone and start our own family, it can feel like it is happening again—a Christmas without the mate we have praye

December, a long time ago I journaled the difficulties of my heart. Though time has passed and I now enjoy the daily presence of my faithful mate, I still remember the dead-end dating situation at the time and how I tried to guard my heart and stay open! Looking back how I journaled it was a constant meditation of good thoughts and quips that buttressed my hope to not settle and waited for or hoped to meet and share life…and these significant family times.

“Lord, I’m so tired of men liking me for what I can give them. Prayers, spiritual support. Let this man’s intentions be revealed

Isaiah 62:12 “and you will be called sought after, the city no longer deserted”

Chuck Swindoll wrote, “the enemy will play tricks on you while you wait. “You see, it’s not worth the wait! “

Remember, God is not accidentally late. His delays are intended. Never does He forget. He definitely delays the fulfillment. He knows what He’s about.

“Be Still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him” Psalm 37:7

“There is no God beside you who acts on behalf of those who wait patiently for Him.” Isaiah 64:3

Wait to let God act on our behalf.

After a night shift at the hospital, I listened to lyrics from a song from the radio on the drive home. “Breaking my heart again, I needed to cry.” It paralleled my current situaion, “Yes, I am back in the same place again. The same song with this man.”

I had been in a vicious cycle. Making men my trust and then disappointment. Despair facing me again. Only God can be the One I lean on. And yet I had to believe there were men of integrity I could trust. God used Chuck Swindoll, who is still on Christian radio KFIA. “God doesn’t like to see us squirm. He’s waiting to fulfill those desires He put there.”

And my Each New Day devotional by Corrie ten Boom. “Keep constant guard over your heart and mind as they Rest in Christ Jesus. Worries carry responsibility that belong to God, not to you. Worry does not enable us to escape evil. It makes us unfit to cope with it when it comes. You may see all the reasons for failure, but God sees all the reasons for success. CTBoom

When Abraham was given the promise of children, he waited with Sarah.for years. He tired in the process and as customary took his wife’s maidservant to have his first child. Abraham should have told Sarah when she tired of waiting. “Wait. Let’s not walk out on our own. Let’s get on our knees and tell God how hard it is to wait. Let’s take it to God.”

The prayer with that devotion from Each New Day, hit the nail again. “Give us willingness to wait. Quiet our spirits. Grant us faith. Bring us to our knees in trust. You make all things beautiful in your time. Helps us to wait. Not try to hurry the process. Trust God more than our own understanding with a ruthless trust.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction that by (our steadfast and patient) endurance and the encouragement drawn from Scripture we might hold fast to and cherish hopeRomans 15:4

The Pearl and the Worm. Five Wisdoms When Working Faster isn’t Helping

Have you ever sped up to accomplish tasks only to find you’re even more behind? Has the inefficiency of hurry led to greater worry? One frustrated 9 am hour God used two phone calls and uncomfortable questions to convince me to stop, step out of the chaotic current, and get still before God. I grabbed my Bible, a cup of coffee and let the story of a beautiful pearl and a worm–reorder my day to reasonable.Oahu water

1) Drivers feel guilty when timetables we set up are moved. We easily give into feelings that a day is ruined by our wastefulness, bad choices, etc.

Amy Carmichael talks about a marine worm that bore a hole from the outside of a shell into the heart of what would have been a great pearl, ruining it. A ruined pearl is worthless. That hole is wrought by a single tiny worm. She explained the moment we feel a worm crawling on our shell we can get rid of it. Ask God to sweep it off the moment it is there.

In the book Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis wrote about an elderly devil’s advice to his young nephew,Wormwood, in the business of shipwrecking Christians. We can all plain forget our enemy plants lies to worm his way into our psyche. The antidote is to stop dwelling on our shortcomings, which magnify the more we continue, but to dwell on the Word of God. He would rather we live at peace with Him and the acceptance His love produces, than chide ourselves for not checking off a list of unrealistic goals. It begins with simple prayer.

 

2) Recommit the day to the Lord with a Surrender of Time. “In Your time, in Your will now God. I offer my expectation for when these goals are completed. Do what You want through a restful spirit, a spirit whole in Christ not bore with frenzy and nothing-being-good enough—because I’m already behind schedule.” In this surrender of time we can experience what God wants us to have above all, the peace of Christ.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. Colossians 3:15

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly… (Col.3:16), not the voice of Wormwood, but the voice of God.

 

3) Question what is the work God has given? What is it, really?

It’s easy to feel we’re not doing enough if we are overachievers, especially if there are times in our life we have seemingly stretched time to the 25th hour… and God has been gracious and allowed it. Now with an unrealistic picture, negativity and feeling inadequate, can pervade everything. Everyone around us is affected also. It’s the worm conjuring up the unrest of underachievement.

Paul wrote to Archipus, See to it that you complete the work you have been given (Colossians 4:17)  Would God give me more than I can handle? He knows my body aches, the child’s sick…or the dog, the paper’s due, the car light’s out. Would He give grace? Does he know me better than me? Does he love me, more than me?  Could it be possible that the work God has given to me to do today is only 2 out of the 7 things I wrote on my list the night before? Could  I go about my day a bit more unburdened without the pressure of those 5 things on that piece of paper I planned to finish.

Do we overload ourselves? (Imperfect pearl created and infinitely loved and cherished by  Creator God)  If His grace is not keeping up with these burdens—maybe it’s time to Let Go. Let go of burdens too heavy to carry. His grace is not sufficient for my goals. Who is in the driver’s seat?

As one mother of seven explained in her Letting Go moment, “We don’t have to have it altogether. It was an illusion to think we were that perfect pearl anyway,”

 

4) Give the power back to God. Acknowledge anything that happens today is because of God’s power, will and intervention—not by my abilities or strength.

Even the worm is bigger than us… without God. His ability to invade our mind with doubt, unbelief and all the self thoughts: self-will, self-centered, self-pity, self-loathing are endless and persistent. Amy Carmichael talked about the flood of God.

Isaiah 59:19  For he (God) will come like a pent up flood, that the breath of the Lord drives along.(KIV)  God’s flood sweeps the worm off; he disengages that sticky stubborn worm by His command. His power wash can blast that worm from our shell much more effective than our tedious scraping or pathetic poking in our own efforts.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:9 Paul addresses our enemy’s undoing; “Our Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.” It is Christ in us now, the one greater than us, who is greater and able to overcome the worm crawling on our shell.

My mother-ship friend mused, “How horrible we start to feel about ourselves if we engage in that battle. If we tend to go, go, go with our own agenda and think it’s us (ordering our days) and then we crash… and it’s not us. We don’t have to do it in our power, like 2Corinthians 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. It’s always His power anyway, His ability to work through our inability, His grace in our weakness.”

The whole message of our Christian life is I can’t do this. Living outside of Christ  lacks life—the eternal values of living in His love and loving myself and others. Of  acting and living by faith that He is working and moving with me in completing the tasks given, and the feeling of hope, that hope does not disappoint.

 

5) Trust in the Lord and Lean not on our own Understanding

As reasonable and rational creatures we think, OK, so if I give up this time here, then there goes that time there. And if this doesn’t happen, how will that happen God?

So God reminds us He is the All-Wise God. He lives in a Higher place and sees the broad perspective that defines wisdom. His mind is not stuck, clogged with dirt or corrosion over time when we have piled up unconfessed sin and clogged our mental filter. Who is better equipped to make decisions for the day, the week… this season?

When we download our mess and confess. When we can offer Him a cleansed heart and opened Mind again as He restores us and renews us. Then we give Him the worth of His Crown, Lord of Lord, and King of our life. We are re-instated to the vital fellowship and connection to Him above the daily connections we think we must make before we can freely accept the gift of His love. We cast our cares on God. If He rearranges our week, what an adventure it will be. Corrie ten Boom says that the life of faith, is a Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him.

We live in trust all things, even convoluted days, will work together for good in some way by His power and grace. It is a daily release of our plans. A release of our weakness. A trust His Might and love are enough to cover everything that happens in a day committed to Him. Trust all things work together for good to those who love God… and who are called according to His purposes. Romans 8:28

 

No little worm can mess with God’s pearl of great price. His mind and His Words are too strong. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Heb 4:12,13

Dry…Watering our Soul in a Seasonal Drought

dry

“Sometimes I wonder where are the fruits of the Spirit in my life?” A friend recently expressed frustration…not feeling joy or peace or patience…fruits of the spirit.

“I know I’m feeling sorry for myself, but sometimes I just let myself go there.”

Of course I said what she knows, “the pity pot is a dead end road.”

Trouble is, it’s easy to rest and hang in that space…even when we know better.

Always remember there is always someone somewhere else in the world who would be happy to change places with you.  I read that last week…just when I began to throw myself a pity party.  Watching the news, I am daily reminded of my blessings. (that I don’t always count one-by-one)

“I am so tired it seems I don’t have time to hardly pray anymore.”

We can all get there, with good reason. Kids that demand care and nurturing day in day out. Add social or learning difficulties, mental or physical handicaps. Parents that require attention and caregiving…and their own sadness. Grieving their friends or family members dropping like leaves daily from their once thriving tree of life. Spouses dealing with demands and life transitions that drain them or dull them or tweek them.

Somehow, we have to find the time to water our souls.

Today I have to water my Dad’s pine tree.  I will leave early on the way to the gym and stop at Lowe’s for a long soaker hose. The pine tree is dropping mountains of brown needles now and I can see the poor dry branches praying to the heavens.

Unfortunately, LAST SUMMER a friend, an arborist, told me to buy a 50 foot hose and irrigate the pine for several hours every two weeks. Lay it around the base of the tree spreading it several feet apart. Cover the hose with mulch and leaves which will improve the soil.

Have I done it?  No. Until today, it hasn’t been bad enough. I felt really sad for that tree looking at it.

I think we do the same things to our souls.  Given particularly long seasons of giving and caring, dry, with children, aging parents, or trying times in marriage….sometimes we get tired of nurturing. So we don’t even nurture ourselves. We dry up and wilt on the pot. WE know it. Others see it. Our behavior displays it.

Trouble is, no one can water us, unless we do. Our arms are that handle to the watering jug just like it was once the arms of the little teapot. Remember the song we sang growing up?

“I’m a little teapot short and stout (isn’t that the truth), here is the handle here is the spout, tip me over and pour me out.”

We’re still children. We’re God’s children and we need His care.

When I am feeling dry as the summer heat, it is time to sit in the backyard early morning. Birds sing there. Shade shields the sun while the air is cool. The Psalms sing God’s loving kindness and I can be still enough to inhale trust in my Heavenly Father, like a little child again, enough to last the day.

I can inhale grace that brings compassion for those around me who need me to be there for them today.

And I can exhale criticism that leads to complaint and discouragement and disease in me.

No, I, we don’t need to curl up and turn brown like an unwatered rose bush. So I prayed with my friend this morning.

We watered ourselves with the fountain God provides daily. His grace like a fountain, His grace sufficient for the day. We will continue to live and thrive even in the drought.

Just because it’s a dry spell doesn’t mean our plants have to wilt and brown and curl up. I just finished watering the roses. I’ve filled a large cup with ice, water, coffee and mocha mix. I’ve got my Bible and devotions, my journal and my pen. My guitar and my chords. It’s my turn.

Jeremiah 17:7   But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

Psalm 87:7  As they make music they will sing, All my fountains are in You.

Psalm 1:2,3   Blessed is the man whose…delight is in the Law of the Lord and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruits in season and whose leaf does not wither.

 

 

 

Forgive Again? Yes, it is Good Friday

Bay bridge day

 

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”(Matthew 18:21, 22 NIV)

Peter had been traveling with Jesus and eleven disciples—so many personalities, habits and moods to contend with daily. Some are flexible and spontaneous, above board and honest, like him…or so he thinks.

Others are quiet, thoughtful, and slow to move and speak. They question everything and seem resistant, even critical of anything Peter says.  Peter is learning from the Master, but he’s struggling with the brothers, especially one. And this time Peter runs to Jesus, tired of forgiving over and over. The guy just doesn’t care about Peter’s feelings.

Downton Abby, a famous PBS series, just played episode seven, where Mary, the older sister brings pain to her younger sister, Edith, once again. She humiliates her in front of her family and betrothed catalyzing a break-up.

Edith lashes out and calls Mary on her horrible behavior. Hurt, she flees to another city. The rift between the sisters is strong. Yes, Mary is remorseful but sees no way to fix the trouble she has caused her younger sibling. She is not a people pleaser. Nor does she like to admit fault. It is easier to wait, and in time….

In a surprising turn of events to Mary’s benefit, Edith forgives Mary—unasked. She is not ruled by pride. Always the humble one, she closes the breech by coming to Mary.  Longing to bridge the gap, Edith declares the importance of keeping their bond, despite their innate differences.  Their upbringing and family history, their parents and Granny, their deceased sister and children—no one else could know the nuances of their family, the way they both understood.

Isn’t it interesting? It seems in life, the people hardest to forgive are the people closest to us. A woman married fifty years once stood in a church foyer and stated how she made it—“breathe forgiveness.”

Sounds a lot like seventy times seven.

Jesus knew the value of forgiveness and our human feelings.

            “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27 NIV)

A blessing for a curse?  It sounds paradoxical. Jesus knows forgiveness is a decision and love is active. He knows, as we do, we all need His forgiveness for our wrongs and we rely on His love and mercy to cover our mistakes. He paid a price for us to be forgiven, and expects us to be merciful to others in turn—to sacrifice pride and judgment, even pain—and choose to forgive. It is never easy. There are depths to pain and forgiveness like the depth of the ocean, the deeper the pain, the darker the water. But forgiveness releases the victim as well, from misery and hate.

Matthew 5:45 reveals when we forgive we are behaving like children of our Father in Heaven. We bring God honor through forgiveness. We release others from guilt.

Yes, sometimes the people closest to us, spouses, siblings, children, parents—can seem like the enemies Jesus said to love. Their words pierce deeper because they are the closest to our heart. They are the ones we have decided to trust with our thoughts and emotions. We want to believe they are always safe people to live with and love us as we love them.

“My daughter is breaking my heart,” a tearful nurse erupted as she arrived at work. Her fourteen-year-old had said goodbye with the words, “I hate you.”

It’s hard to love and feel loved when actions and words flip day to day, or week to week. Love and hate, blessings and curses. The wheel spins inside the brain and words fly off at alarming rates sometimes. There is an enemy of our soul who loves to surprise us with a hit, when we least expect it. Ambushed, we can feel like we are battling something unseen. We are.

Mary, was in pain and inner conflict when she callously opened Edith to humiliation. Those closest to us, in their pain, can cause ours. “Wounded people, wound people.” And those with deeper wounds are often not aware what they are doing. They are minions of emotion and confusion, creating crazy circles of crisis for themselves and others.

Enemies may come from horrible bosses or backstabbing, burden laying peers. I have prayed Jesus’ words to cope with an unsavory work environment. “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35, 36 NIV)

Attempting to do my job clear-headed without having to constantly address the virus of emotions running in the background, spurred by comments and actions unrelated to our job positions, I prayed to love them.

Daily I had to shake the bird nest of bitterness trying to camp in my mind. “You can’t keep a bird from landing on your head, but you can keep him from building a nest.”

Just this morning a friend told me her work has improved. “I decided to forgive my boss, carte blanche. I just don’t let it get to me anymore.”

There is power in forgiveness, not just for us, but for those around us. We are not expecting them to be something they cannot be. Because we are praying, we are not as easily disappointed or frustrated by their behavior.

Our unseen enemy, Satan, is out to divide—to bring pain and build walls with pride and animosity. Hatred is the opposite of love. If we give into hatred we cannot do the good Jesus asks of us. We cannot walk worthy of our calling as believers or help those we love, because we are not able to use the greatest power given to us by God—the power of love.

Love is stronger than hate. God’s way is stronger than the way of the world. He can empower us through the Holy Spirit to forgive, because we are attached to the Vine. The Vine is Jesus who hung on a tree and died for our sins, while forgiving those who drove the nails into his hands on the cross.

Today He is alive, and the power to love pours through His veins. Apart from Him we can do nothing. But with Him, we can choose to forgive—simply by asking Jesus, the One who knows how best to help us.

Single with Dog, One New Year Eve Past

Today, the first of 2016, I wanted to post this for the single’s who I love and pray with and for, as I am still newly married, and still remember….

I lived single a long time, longer than most, desiring marriage. One New Year I returned home maybe more disappointed than I should have been. After all, logically I knew we meet someone special usually unexpectedly. But, I was hoping against hope…once again.

Maybe it was a particularly difficult holiday season desiring a mate –someone special to share these life marker, time line events with—that prompted a silent sadness upon my return to an empty house… but then…my wandering blasé thoughts enroute home proved false.

Someone met me at the door and soothed my heart. That someone was Sam, my yellow Lab.

With Sam there I didn’t feel lonely. He was ecstatic to see me, per usual and followed me to our room, where my evening gown would fade into a photo album memory.

Sam there I had someone to wake up to who cared about me. With Sam there… I could make it without the empty feeling I would never meet anyone I could relate to or live with 24/7, someone I hoped to share the coming years activities with, to plan and dream together.

No matter how many long seasons I would navigate while waiting for Mr Right, I could live without the gape of isolation in my home. I had someone special to plan with, to be with. I had my dog.

No, but I returned to Sam…my old faithful.

The disappointment ebbed. The cheer bubbled up again.

I was not alone. I had someone to wake up to and who would accompany me as I took out the garbage.

Who would be there when I returned from the next dance, as loving and loyal as he was tonite?

And yesterday. And would always be.  I could count on that. He belonged to me. My dog is reality. We are bonded as Family.  Our home feels safe. We are blessed.

Following your Footprints…at times as these

A number of years ago, I wrote a poem when the world around me seemed to be changing too fast. incomprehensible. The peace only comes in knowing, He knows. He sees. All of it. All of me. All of us.

Following your footprints

I looked across my patio arch
Shadows cast across the street
Soon it would be getting dark
Time to walk the dogs… and me.

Time and again, these moments come
Somehow life keeps moving on
Sammy’s grown and Benji’s young,
No longer a puppy− I’m no longer a yuppy.

How many more nights will we walk these streets?
Smile at these neighbors, water these trees,
Cross these sidewalks, smell those roses,
Moments passing, into hours.

How many corners yet unturned?
How many pasts to yet move on?
Dreams still brim, still brew inside,
In spite of time and age and pride.

Again, around us Spring has sprung,
Again, the flowers bloom, they’ve come,
And I have never moved a thumb.
I’m just watching feeling numb.

Again, I need your grace,
Accepting changes in this place.
New songs my nephews play,
Old friend’s who’ve moved away,

New burdens that I shoulder,
In this body… I feel older.
And this house, I now call home,
How long here?
Am I to roam?

Lord, I’m searching for your face,
I reach to take your hand,
Each talk and new unraveling,
I seek to understand.

This time is it real? Is this coincidence or truth?
Enough’s been said , to turn my head,
I know you’ll give me proof.

You know that you’re my Man
The one who holds the plan
I’m willing if you take me
To walk those footprints in the sand.

©Dee Aspin

Reflections on Job’s Prayers from a Swimming Pool

after Job had prayed for his friends…JOb 42:10
After? When did this man of suffering start praying for his friends?

I love to swim and pray, but the praying doesn’t always happen right away. In swimming as in life, we often have to take care of ourselves, before we can really enter into prayer.

Not expecting the water temperature to be quite so low, today I jumped into surprise and a cold blast and began sprinting nonstop. I knew at some point, the laps would warm my limbs and core and shake the crazy chill.

Those first few laps of survival mode-I was consumed with strokes and breathing—acutely aware of my discomfort and waiting for it to pass.

Today was longer than usual. I lost track how many laps passed or how many times I stretched my hams at the bars … but finally, it happened. I was swimming comfortably—in the zone—flowing through the water unmindful of body temperature, breathing, or muscles.

It was then, the prayers could rise.I felt God’s presence. They surfaced to my mind one after the other…

A friend who may be putting her dog down today. Peace for an anxious parent. Young people in new relationships. Team players and boundaries at work for friends with job stress. Medical intervention for those with invasive health issues. Faith building friendships for college students. Protection for our soldiers and wisdom for our President.

Prayers flowed easily…when I was free of extreme discomfort to my body and felt safe. It made me appreciative of the verse to love our neighbor as we love ourselves—the Biblical principle of caring for ourself, loving ourself so we can love others. Interesting, yesterday I had read the last chapter of Job, when his prayers turned from himself apparently… to others.

… after Job prayed for his friends…(Job 42:10 )
After he prayed for his friends, then he was healed and his life turned around-all he had lost was restored by God’s providential plan.

He prayed for the friends who had misunderstood him and condemned him over thirty chapters of the book with agonizing lectures…producing thought-provoking contemplation, ebbs and flows of emotions as Job attempts to get his bearings in a new world. Thrust into his new normal, minus those he once loved and with a physical body covered with painful sores, a new distressing–season of his life driven by tragedy.

Job began to pray for his friends. So what’s the significance?

He prayed when he had more of his bearings. After God’s counsel freed him from false guilt and accusations from misguided human counsel and judgment. He heard God’s voice (Job 38) out of the storm.

When he reached a place of self-acceptance and learned to live with his disease and the losses. When time had passed from the internal and external havoc wreaked from a sudden change of debilitating circumstances.

In the storm God spoke. Job heard God’s voice again in these last chapters of this brutal season of his life journey…and the shock and trauma of his agony lessens. I thought how swimming lap after lap this morning, when the chill finally released from me this morning…I was able to pray.

Job prayed for his friends, following chapter after chapter of processing his life and pain before God and others. When it was time and he could and he found his bearings in his own pool of life…he began to pray.

Sure, circumstances turned around. But is it because of his prayer as it seems to imply?

Job did all he could with what he knew to stay alive. Satan had tried to squash him, friends had tried to help him (with the kind of help he didn’t need). Ultimately, he pulled through the quagmire even when he couldn’t see God or pray for anyone because he couldn’t get past his own trauma and need for survival. Sometimes we are in survival mode. It is all we can do to keep afloat. Why is it so hard to pray?

Not until Job steadied, and his spirit thawed could the prayers flow…sometimes we are in that place too.
When you are going through chilling circumstances, don’t expect more of yourself than you should, than others expect, or than God—who loves you, knows all and sees all—expects of you.