My Child…Awakening

My child,

Do you know who I am?
Listen deeply and be filled as I enfold you.

Delicately graceful birds floating gently

Silver scaled fish glimmering as one
Soft purring cats rubbing those they own
Yipping dogs rolling over for best friends

Life force surging within all beings
Tender, glowing sunsets kissing all they touch

Life-giving air filling and enlivening
Eternal stars burning radiantly above

Yearning children hugging mothers
Gentle mothers cuddling babies
Elderly parents facing transitions

Brokenhearted mothers losing children

Virulent dandelions flourishing through the rocky soil
Strong oak branches budding
Deep, sunshine searing, warming
Powerful water flowing into depths unknown

Encrusted moistness, constantly nourishing Mother Earth

Deep eruptions changing the face of the Universe

Star-filled darkness exploding Earth with encompassing Light

Minuscule darting atoms swirling, connecting life

Ancient wisdom revealing all Truth
Wholehearted belly laughter awakening twinkling eyes

Deep seated Essence of all that live, move and have their being

I am the Body. One with the All in All.
I exist only because of the One.
Now and forever.

Who am I? I am You. I am Love.

© Bonnie Smith-Davis May 2022

Trusting

The Holy Spirit is tapping me on the shoulder again. Wake up to trust me who loves you unconditionally. always. …God

… But if I wag my tail furiously, someone will come by and give me a wonderful home. I will just be. I will trust completely…. Rascal G. Smith-Davis

Every day for three months I came to the door of the cat room to greet the people that came to the shelter, trusting that someone would give me a good home.  I trust completely. ……. Blake B. Smith-Davis-Cat

A wonderful dinner awaits me while I busily work on my assignment due today. I trust Roger will provide.

Neighbor stops her busy day to read my paper… I care about you. …T.

Can I do any less?

God provides for me (for us) in all things. I declare my weakness but know I will succeed at what is most important by letting go to trust God who loves me just as I am. Be renewed. Declare how despite the fact you fall on your face; you still are loved. Completely. For who you are secretly deep inside by Him who gave his Life for you. …Bonnie

Psalm 139 V.1-12

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    O Lord, you know it completely.

5You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from your spirit?
    Or where can I flee from your presence? If I take the wings of the morning
    and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light around me become night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is as bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

©2022 Bonnie L. Smith-Davis

My Heart Knows I Believe

Rascal Smith-Davis-Dog waits for his human
Rascal

Open your eyes a little wider, please.  What do you believe you will see with your eyes wide open? I believe that the healing process of Light penetrates the eyes so you can see more. But what is it you wish to see in the busy-ness of the present and planning for what is to come?

Do old songs ever get into your head? Your heart? I believe the healing Spirit puts them there for a reason.

Also, I believe that what I intend to perceive is what I will see. I must be open. God knocks at the door; I must open the door to let in the Light.  Yesterday the Spirit touched my heart and stopped my “busy” plan cold with the radiant, sweet lines of the old song “I Believe,” slowly ungunking my sight with its message…

“I believe for every drop of rain that falls…”

“What is on your to-do list for today?”

 “Where are you going, honey?”

These questions are answered in myriads of ways…lists of to-dos. Check off one, go to another… Little Rascal stands wagging his tail. He just doesn’t understand why the list doesn’t seem to include him.

“A flower grows…”

I sit, looking down at the phone in hand, answering yet another text message from a friend while sweet puppy Rascal wags and quietly stares in my direction, peeking around the Christmas tree. He asks with big brown eyes, “What is so important to you? Pet me. Please.”

“I believe that somewhere in the darkest night…”

Slightly irritated at Rascal, but more at myself, I get up and pad in my muk-luk socks down the hall toward my room, I peek in to see the computer light shine on my husband’s glasses as he works on another project. He’s busily involved in family finances. Looking beyond him, I see through the darkness… fresh fallen snow. Christmas week.

“A candle glows…”

Turning the corner into our family room, I sigh at stacks of books and files left over from a conference I returned from a week or so ago. Projects seem endless and I have reports to write, but where is the time to share the candlelight glow of a warm fire with a loved one?

Pet the puppy?

Extravagant use of time, right?

“I believe for everyone that goes astray.”

Digging down into my pile of books, I find the one I was looking for to handle a business issue that has come up and move down the hall toward my study, when a glint of light flashing off the brass lamp at my piano calls me over.

“Someone will come to show the way…”

My eyes are drawn to the light falling on a song that I was practicing for an upcoming meeting. I stop in my tracks, entranced by the title…” I Believe…” I make my way around the piano and continue reading the words. My hands are drawn up to the keyboard and I start playing and singing the words dear to my heart.

“Then I know why…”

The busyness of the day fades away, and I smile as I hear Rascal jump into a nearby chair and cock his head toward the piano. My heart radiantly fills up with the Holy Spirit, Who once again gently taps me on the shoulder and encompasses me with a loving warm embrace.

Rascal sniffs the book sitting quietly on the table beside him and loses interest as the melodic tones flow into him.

Rascal comes next. That report can wait awhile.

“I believe…”

Jesus lives on, in, and through us, God’s Will is continuing to manifest now and will forevermore.

How is the Holy Spirit tapping you on your shoulder today? How are you seeing the world at this moment?

© 2022 Bonnie L. Smith-Davis

I Believe – The Bachelors – 1964

Words for “I Believe”   

I believe for every drop of rain that falls
A flower grows
I believe that somewhere in the darkest night
A candle glows
I believe for everyone that goes astray
Someone will come to show the way
I believe
I believe


I believe above the storm the smallest prayer
Will still be heard
I believe that someone in the great somewhere
Hears every word
Every time I hear a newborn baby cry
Or touch a leaf
Or see the sky
Then I know why
I believe
Every time I hear a newborn baby cry
Or touch a leaf
Or see the sky
Then I know why
I believe

Writer/s: Al Stillman, Ervin M Drake, Irwin Graham, Jimmy Shirl
Publisher: CONCORD MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC, T.R.O. INC.

Beautiful Sky’s Gift*

Bonnie & Sky
Sky
Sky and Jess

*Sequel to earlier story Beautiful Sky on my site

Sky greets me, tail wagging and straining forward as before, in her new warm grey- and -white sweater. Her new mom Jess smiles as Sky confidently moves forward. As I get reacquainted with beautiful Sky, Jess reaches down to stroke her sweet pup. “Sky is improving in her balance and in learning how to be with others after her amputation,” but really doesn’t seem too sure about coming back here to the humane society for our visit. A tentative wag combined with a gaze around the animal pen and while leaning in to my leg confirms her guess.

After a pause Jess continues with her eyes steadily on her pup, “Sky loves to be close to me and play with her tug/toss toy at home. She knows that I need her as much as she needs me. We help each through each day.” Sky gazes back at her mom and gives her a reaffirming sniff and nose lick.

Jess continues stroking her little girl and adds that it has been a tough month or so for both of them…and that they are so grateful for all the loving, caring friends at the humane society in the Second Chances program that allows pets with special considerations to be readied for adoption. Also, that new owners as herself wish to show deep appreciation for those willing to devote sponsor kennels and surgery sponsors. ** Thank you!

Bored by all of our continued “barking”, Sky spots a tug toy by the dog house and runs over to check the scents. Conversation turns to the holidays and the fact that soon Jess and Sky will celebrate their very first Christmas together. Sky seems truly a special gift from God for Jess and Jess for her. Love. Pure and simple Love. As Sky wanders back, she nuzzles closer when Jess bends down to adjust her pup’s sweater to keep warm in the November chill.

Sky, looking up obediently at her forever mom for the next instruction, lays down on command, now just contented to be beside her mom. The bond of trust and love that has been building since they first met is clearly growing stronger.

Jess quietly adds that throughout the decision-making process of whether or not to adopt, each time she visited Sky or Sky was allowed to visit at her home, she quietly believed with all the love in her heart that she would be Sky’s forever friend. They would be together throughout all their challenges. Still, Jess had to consider would be best in the long run for Sky who had gone through so much with coming to the humane society with a deep hurting body, the amputation process. for her loved ones, and for herself.

Finally, Jess listens to her heart and decides to take the necessary steps to adopt her inspirational, loving, young pit bull mix with her missing right front leg and the enormously loving heart!

Since that decision, these two friends have been at each other’s side through periods of adjustment in their life and the lives of those they love. Sky comforts and remains very close to Jess as Jess has needed her during a dear friend’s illness. Jess has consistently been there for Sky, taking her into the vet for regular checkups following Sky’s amputation which the vet says is healing well. Also, Jess, as alluded to earlier, keeps working with Sky in conjunction with her training to grow more comfortable with her new gaited walking, to act appropriately and to be more comfortable around others.

As the chill nipped underneath our coats, and a few more questions are answered, we all have the warm feeling spoken only through our hearts. Joy and Love. Sky has her fur-ever home. Her amputation is over, and the healing takes over, not only of the body, but in her deep, loving heart with so much to give! Sky was home. And so was Jess.

Merry Christmas, dear readers. We must continue to be love. Sky’s deep love-filled heart which does not give up but shows endless determination to love others in spite of her missing limb!

My challenge for you: about a personal “limb” or wound that you really focus (lean) on, spend a lot of time being concerned about, like a job, bill, illnesses, or possible outcome of an event. In other words, what are you willing to cast aside in order to focus on showing the gift of Love of Christ?

Then, set an intention to read Corinthians 1, chapter 13 (below) every day for ten days. Ponder what deep love might look like for a person or creature in your life.

Verses to Ponder: First Corinthians 13

“If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…8 Love never fails. 


13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

**For more information on sponsoring a kennel at Cedar Bend Humane Society, call 319-232-6887 and ask for Jessica, or visit
https://www.cedarbendhumane.org/noseworthy/2021/08/18/sponsor-a-kennel

© 2021 Bonnie Smith-Davis

Advent and Hanukah, 2021

By Laurie Stawicki      

                Did you know that Advent and Hanukah begin on the same day this year? November 28, 2021 on the Gregorian calendar, is also the 25th day of the month Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, which is always the date Hanukah starts. (By the way, there’s no correct way to spell Hanukkah. Common spellings are the two I’ve used, plus Chanukah, Chanuka, and Chanucah.)

Advent in the Christian tradition is the 40 days leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth which is celebrated December 25, however erroneously, since the birth has been suggested to have occurred in early September, according to astrological calculations. That is when the planets of Jupiter, the moon and Saturn, aligned, and were possibly the “star of Bethlehem” referred to in the gospels, and which will not align that particular way again for another 16, 000 years, according to nationalpost.com.

Hanukah, a Jewish holiday, is also called the Festival of Lights. It is the celebration of when the oil found in one jar, normally enough for one day, miraculously burned for 8 days in the temple during the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd century BC.

My thoughts about these two important calendar dates coinciding is that it is the greatest message. The light of the world, Jesus Christ, has come for both Jews and Gentiles. And as Christians, we believe that he came for all, lived for all, and died for all, making the way clear into the Holiest of Holies, the Presence of God, for all who believe.  

Male and female, Jew and Gentile, all are one in the gospel which says that all who believe are being formed into a spiritual temple, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 2:21, 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 2 Corinthians 5:1) The Bible says that we are the temple of God, when we believe and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. And that we are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14-16). That is such a cool statement!

Some special ideas for personal and family growth in Christ through Advent are to study the differences and similarities between Advent and Hanukah, and read the Bible passages about the birth of Christ in Luke 2 and elsewhere.

In addition, to clear our hearts and minds, we can seek to forgive all who have wronged us this year in any way, and to pray blessings over our enemies. (Mark 11:25, Matthew 5:43-48) We can also confess any sins to God and another trusted person, so that they may pray for us so we can be healed. (James 5:16)  And we can ask God to shine his light on our path so that our way is clear before us and so that we do not stumble. (Psalm 119:105). 

As Christians consider the Advent season, attempting to clear hearts and minds of any unholy clutter from the year and to focus on God’s light and word for our lives, it’s good to come apart and rest, maybe light a candle, and give thanks to God for all his benefits.

I pray the love of God shines on each one of us this Advent and Hanukah season and that we all seek the purest light from heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone can save us from our sins and make us worthy to join him in Heaven eternally.

Author:

Laurie Jane Stawicki, mother of five, singer-songwriter, speaker, and author of the upcoming memoir “Sacrifice of Tears,” and “Don’t Count Your Chickens.” LJ loves and writes in Iowa.  You can contact her at LJStawicki@yahoo.com. Please put “Sacrifice of Tears” in the subject line. Thank you for reading!

© 2021 Laurie Stawicki            

Good Morning, Gratitude!

Sometimes I wake up feeling grouchy, and really, really want to cover my head with my pillow and snuggle down, but I know down deep, that if the day is to go well, I know I must follow a routine doing exercise (like yoga) and reading Scripture, group prayer and a good breakfast.

But before all that, I will try to push myself to wake up by plumping my pillow, putting my hands on my stomach and just slowly breathing. As I take my breath in, I often say a favorite Scripture as I read like “This is the day the Lord has made, and on the outbreath, let us rejoice and be glad in it” several times…Whatever comes to my head through the grace of the Spirit. I thank God for this life, this day, my heartbeat, my breathing, the ability to use my senses…maybe not as well as I used to, on and on. Till I feel a smile of gratitude coming on my face, connecting me to the Lord who created me and every other particle of matter that exists.

And later, as I get out into the world to walk my dog, I often have a song come to my mind as I interact with nature around me in the stillness of the morning. One particular song of gratitude often comes into my heart and continues to fill me deeply with the way we can see the connections in the world today and must be to each other. All affects all. Everything comes from God. We love because God first loved us.

A nutritious question for your day: What serves to help you get past grouchy moments to starting a good morning? …to have a grateful attitude, remembering Christ’s abiding Love in and through us, the indwelling Holy Spirit who comforts and guides you? Perhaps an old song, a beautiful memory, a Scripture, the Spirit’s quiet words leading when you are tired, grouchy or just in need of an attitude change?

© Bonnie L. Smith-Davis

A beautiful song of gratitude … click on the title below to hear the song

I Believe – by The Bachelors

By Ervin Drake, Jimmy Shirls, Irvin Graham and Al Stillman, 1953

Holding Space in Relationship…

What does it mean to hold space for another person?

Berkeley & Helen Smith 1937
Berkeley & Helen Smith 2000

Truly, this is perceived in different ways. But some facets in all these perceptions seem to use tools to meld or laser focus Light in the discerning heart.

One current way of holding space, is described by Heather Plett of “Enlightened Consciousness” to be walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. To open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.

Put another way, holding space is in what First Corinthians 13 says so clearly…  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always hopes, always perseveres.”

The discerning heart will tell you how to use these perceptions.  The couple in the above picture that persevered in life are my parents. After the Great Depression, they held space in their own way while married for 72 years and built a life together in not ideal circumstances.

They grew together in a challenging multi-generational family, lived through family separations and divorce of past generations, survived more than three wars and life -threatening and debilitating illnesses, raised two children, moved, made job changes. All the while, they maintained responsible relationships in work and at home. Watching each penny that they spent, they loved each other through these and countless other difficulties.

Was their relationship perfect? No, not really. But they never gave up on each other enjoyed moments present to each other. Did they disagree? Yes. But I remember no violence or arguing in front of us. Dad and Mom patiently, but not perfectly, worked together and they always came back to loving and forgiving each other.

In this give-and-take of life, they honored their union and respected each other enough to remain there. They held space for each other and for us.

So, is there one perfect way of holding space in a relationship? We each have our own stories of individuals whom we feel have held space for us or not held space as the case might be.

Personally, I am still learning how to hold space, not by doing exactly everything my parents did, because their lives were configured by God differently than mine. But they and others continue to guide me, as I do my imperfect best to pray, read and live the Scriptures for example in Corinthians, Galatians and Colossians. Not just memorize verses…but to see life through them using the discerning lens of my heart.

I believe God doesn’t keep count of mistakes we make as we walk a life journey committed to Him. If we are truly present in life, we can perceive how Jesus continues to be Love in everything we experience …In this manner, the Spirit guides us. Holding us, He shares His very life.

The challenge I give you is this. While give yourself some grace along the way, start this process for a week.

1) Read to discern a tool, a gem, in a few verses of Scripture each day…perhaps in Colossians 3 or Corinthians 13 or Galatians 5.

 2) Try to laser focus, by maintaining a space of time to use that gem with another person/creature and be kind (as an example), no matter what the rough exterior. What reactions, if any, do you see in yourself or the other being?

3) Perhaps choose to jot down your thoughts as you walk through this process. Quite possibly you and I may not have 72 years in any relationship. Time doesn’t matter. Take care of the other as Jesus does you. Now. Today. Love.

© 2021 Bonnie Smith-Davis

Beautiful Sky

Amputation—what a heart wrenching word, especially when applied to Sky, a beautiful 7-month-old pit bull mix with a wide-open, loving heart. We met Sky at the Cedar Bend Humane Society, where my husband and I had gone to sponsor kennels to care for adoptable animal residents. Jessica, the public relations coordinator at CBHS, excitedly said,” I have got to show you this very special puppy!”  For a few minutes, she disappeared beyond a fence.  

My heart skipped a beat, as from behind the fence bounded a beautiful grey and white puppy that Jessica held close on a lead. When the sweet creature spied us, she immediately strained forward on her leash, tipped to one side, and
rebounded with unbelievable effort. Then she moved clumsily forward, aiming to give us lots of licks and love. 

My heart reached out to this three-legged puppy struggling to maintain her balance. Finally, she won the fight and was able to able to reach her head up to lick whatever parts of us she could reach. It was clear that she could not fully understand that she no longer had the strong right front leg she once had. Instead, she experienced the sensation of a phantom leg like those of veteran amputees.

“Say hello to Sky,” Jessica murmured quietly as she lovingly petted and calmed the excited puppy. We sat down on a nearby bench so Jessica could bring Sky up close, steadying her against my legs. As we petted her, Jessica explained how 
Sky came to them.

After Animal Control services received Sky, through x-rays and an examination, they determined that an old injury to her front right leg had healed inappropriately. Sadly, the recommendation revealed by specialists at Blue Pearl Animal Hospital was amputation.

Since Cedar Bend Humane Society’s veterinarian had been currently out on medical leave, Sky’s surgery took place at Cedar Valley Veterinary Center, with an estimated cost of around $1,000 with ongoing medical care required during her healing and rehabilitation.

As I stroked Sky’s ears and looked into her beautiful deep, dark eyes, I could feel that this beautiful creature wanted desperately to run free and enjoy life and love in a new home. We love all animals, but this one burrowed deeply into my 
heart. At that point, Sky had been set for adoption twice, but the potential owners backed out for different reasons. Our own dear Rascal was a Humane Society dog who apparently had experienced a tough time in his last home too, before getting adopted. We knew the risks of adopting a pet with a history.

Dogs truly are God’s amazing creatures with the amazing gift of being present with joy and love in their forever pack that will love them back. They are “Guardians of Being”, as Eckhart Tolle said in his must-read book of the same name. Animals are fully present, living a full life in a way we might feel if we were intensely connected to the here and now deep within our souls.

Animals do not worry about bills, their jobs, or how to fit in. They have the ability to “just be”. They are always loving and caring. Waiting for us, they watch for the next squirrel, bird, or sunset. Whatever is there, they feel it to the core.

Sky pulled me out of my reverie with a sigh and a shake as if to say, “Ahh. Someone cares. This feels good! A little lower please.” Then, with the impetuosity of a puppy, she made a quick turn, pulled me up from my seat and nearly jerked the leash from my hand with a yip at something in the distance.

Jessica stepped in at that moment and took hold of the leash. She glanced at Sky’s surgery incision and turned to us. “Her stitches are coming apart a little where she is still healing. Sky needs to go back to her kennel and settle down for a while.” Jessica bent down to whisper to the puppy, who now had rolled over onto her back. Three legs dangled in the air. “Do you want me to carry you?” This “little” girl, well on her way to a healthy 50 pounds, wagged and smiled broadly at Jessica. “Yes, please,” she seemed to reply as Jessica gently stroked her tummy.

I looked at Roger, who already knew what I was thinking and nodded. Then I offered, “Jessica, can we help pay off the bills for Sky?” “You mean in addition to the sponsorship of the kennel?” I nodded. Jessica smiled. A paw and wet muzzle reached up and Sky licked me right on the chops, seeming to agree with our suggestion.

As Jessica carried a contented Sky back to her kennel, Roger and I smiled at each other, knowing we had made a good decision. God’s love had shone through both Jessica and Sky that day, piercing our hearts. We need to be the face of God for one another and for God’s creatures, as well.

We must be love for Sky’s deep love-filled heart which would not give up but shows endless determination to love others in spite of her missing limb!

My challenge for you: think about a personal “limb” that you really focus(lean) on, spend a lot of time being concerned about, like a job, bill, illnesses, or possible outcome of an event. In other words, what are you willing to cast aside in order to focus on showing the love of Christ?

Then, set an intention to read Corinthians 1, chapter 13 (below) every day for ten days. Ponder what deep love might look like for a person or creature in your life.


Verses to Ponder: First Corinthians 13

“If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,] but do not have love, I gain nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…8 Love never fails. 

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

*Good news for Sky and those who love animals. This past weekend, a loving, caring individual adopted dear little Sky. We wish both Sky and her new best friend all the joy and love possible

For more information on sponsoring a kennel at Cedar Bend Humane Society, call 319-232-6887 and ask for Jessica, or visit
https://www.cedarbendhumane.org/noseworthy/2021/08/18/sponsor-a-kennel

© 2021 Bonnie L Smith-Davis

Manna from God

Guest blog by Laurie Stawicki

Video of me singing and playing the guitar to a song I wrote called “Manna.”

Today, I looked at Facebook. On it I saw the daughter of an old friend. It looked like she was having a great time! She had a beautiful house, a fun business that she enjoys and that she works hard at, and she had a husband and a couple of good-looking children. Not only that, she was beautiful too! Like a model.

While part of me is telling me that she had help from her parents and maybe she married a rich husband to have such a wonderful house, I must remind myself that my destiny, to some degree, is in my own hands. What are some steps I can take to make a life that I feel good about?

First of all, are there things (or people) in my life that need to go to free up space for the new and the beautiful? Objects, clothes, certain acquaintances, time wasters and poor habits could be cleared to make way for the best.

What are the things I could change in my life to create a more wonderful life for myself and my family? Am I living where I want to live? Am I working at what I love? Am I living this week, month, year vibrantly, as if it were my last?

Some people, me included, have wondered where the line is drawn with how much God wants us to take care of ourselves, versus how much time we are caring for others. And most of us who are mothers or caregivers have experienced fairly long periods of time where we barely had any time for ourselves. I think this is normal. However, the question is, at what point does God want us to take more time for ourselves and the gifts and talents he has given us?

Jesus told us to love others AS we love ourselves. Some would say that I need to love myself a little bit more. It may be hard to find the line between service, sacrifice and what we do for ourselves, but here are some questions that could help us gauge the time commitments that some might to expect of us.

We could ask ourselves for instance,

  1. What is my mission from God? Do I know what my life mission is?  Am I doing it?

The good Samaritan did not abort his mission. He stopped and helped the person by the roadside and took him to the Inn he was going to stay at. He went on his journey and paid the inn keeper to look after the person, continuing on his own mission.

  • In any situation that arises, one could ask themselves, “Am I the good Samaritan, or the Inn Keeper?” In other words, when I come across a person in need, is it my job to take this person to the next station? Or is it my job to stay with them and help them. Knowing one’s boundaries is good, but trusting that God will lead you and guide you in each situation is better. Some people or situations we are only called upon to help for a little while until the long-term helper is available. And with some situations, God surprises us with the duration of what we think is a detour.
  • Do I have a clear vision for the details of my life? Prayerfully write the vision for each

category of your journey (Habakkuk 2:2). For instance, when shopping for a house, make a list of the “must haves”, the “would like to haves”, and the “optional” characteristics. Then when a house pops up (or a job, spouse, vacation) exhibiting all of the things on your list, you can know that most likely it is the right one. It saves a lot of time if you know what you want. Psalm 37:4 says that God gives us the desires of our heart.

  • Am I taking care of myself with proper sleep, healthy food, fun, fellowship, reasonable work load, family time, church, and exercise? Am I growing in my skills, and enjoying my day with a relaxed attitude? Am I spending time with God?

These, and more, are questions we can ask ourselves when we are wondering if we are on the right track with taking care of ourselves and our own mission on earth. Loving ourself means loving who we were meant to be, and living our life feeling good about our decisions.

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meets.” Fredrick Buechner

Ephesians 2:10 says,” We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Each one of us has a purpose, and it’s up to us to find it and to discover what God has written into our DNA that will delight us and serve the world in a powerful way at the same time.

What’s in your heart? Write it down and make a plan. If you miss when shooting for the moon, you will at least land among the stars. Happy trails!

© 2021 Laurie Stawicki

Laurie Stawicki is a singer-songwriter, poet, and author of the upcoming memoir, “Sacrifice of Tears.” She is mother of five and lives in Iowa.

No problem! I got this…

8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

“No problem! I got this…” 

Do you ever feel this way? 

I received a strong reminder of God’s power when the neighborhood cat Daisy triggered a gut feeling in our Rascal dog that cleanly knocked obeying his master out of the park. 

“My territory. My way.”

We were walking Rascal in the neighborhood when all of a sudden, I saw a flash of fur ahead of us in the near distance. Before I could react, the leash flew out of our hands with a big sudden jerk, trailing behind a disappearing Rascal around the corner of a house. He was chasing Daisy, who was scared for her life. 

Oh no—he’s loose! This was the cry of my heart.

A deep wrench of “why didn’t you” flashed before me as I ran with heart thumping …Why hadn’t I had (didn’t I) keep a stronger grip on his leash? I clearly did not “have control“ and there was a problem. Rascal was gone! 

Why, Why, why… A busy street lay just beyond Rascal’s disappearing tail. Roger hurried around the other side of the house in an attempt to head him off. But no such luck.  As I ran, I prayed that Rascal would be found safe from danger away from the busy road in front of our house and return to us.  I caught my breath in the front yard and surveyed the landscape in an eerie out-of-time pause.

When time picked up again, I returned to the present, seeing Roger across the busy street yelling to me, “I see him! Rascal, come see dad!”  

A splash of light brown tail raced in the other direction. Then, as Rascal finally heard our voices, an “Oops I forgot look.” appeared on his face. He stopped dead in his tracks and faced us as Daisy scrambled behind her house.

Rascal approached Roger, much like a child after being caught with his hand in cookie jar. He slowly dipped his head, tentatively wagged his tail, and bowed deeply, as if asking for compassion and understanding.

As his contrition unfolded, my heart reawakened me to how our loving God welcomes us as we truly observe our weaknesses. He reveals them in what we are doing to ourselves and others, and bids us come back to Him.

When we awaken to the realization of our thoughtless actions, judgment of others, and disregard of God’s ways, we hear God’s voice calling us. 

In the same manner as Christ, Roger leaned down, joyfully surrounding forgetful, cat-chasing Rascal with his arms.  Roger’s loving tone rang out, “Rascal! You heard me and returned when I called.” Rascal’s tail immediately wagged faster and smiled. He behaved as if he were home, welcomed into His master’s arms.

We may say, “I got this! No problem!“ 

But do we?  Our Savior says “Come to me. I Love you no matter what, I will surround you with my Love and strengthen you throughout your life. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Not our power, but His holds us in life.

My challenge: read and meditate on the following verses from Corinthians 1, chapter 13 about LOVE.  Perhaps, replace the word LOVE with your own name or God’s. Try doing so twice daily.

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Awaken to others by learning more about what our Lord Jesus did when he came to us as a man, choosing to be present with lovingkindness for all. Pray ceaselessly, giving God praise and worshiping him. Come back home.

Later, as we rested, I felt such gratitude and love as Rascal jumped up and nestled close with a sigh. As I petted his soft curly fur, he looked up, ears flopping open with his deep, soft brown eyes melting into mine. 

God’s Love whispered, “I’ve got this. I Love you. You are Mine.”

© 2021 Bonnie Louise Smith-Davis