Dog Days of Summer

Dog Days of Summer

Dog Days

plural noun
1.

the sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun: now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11.
2.

a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence. (definition from Thesaurus.com)

This summer, our family added a new meaning to the phrase “the dog days of summer”. We had an uncharacteristically hot summer in Rochester. It was certainly sultry and there were definitely periods of lethargy and inactivity in the Daye household.

But our new meaning was found in a little white dust mop, a cockapoo puppy, that joined our family around Mother’s Day. Sadie Pemberley Lothlorien Daye has her very own hashtag (#SPoiLeD -based on the initials in her name), but more importantly she has earned a special place in our hearts.

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We have a dog! After years of -pardon me while I go and take care of said puppy who is currently growling for my attention- wanting a dog, we were finally at a place when a dog would be a possibility. For 8 years we lived in parsonages (homes owned by the churches we have served) and my husband felt that bringing a dog into a home we didn’t own would not be fair to our church. But then, God gave us the opportunity to purchase our home and my longing for a dog was stirred again.

For most of my growing up years, we had a dog. First there was Duchess who ate my popsicle when I was three. This is a vivid memory for me, but the details surrounding her departure from our home are fuzzy. A couple of years later, we went to a home where they had the most adorable light brown puppies in a card board box. We came home with Benji and for the next 4 years, he was a wild addition to our family. I say wild, because he would run away at any chance he got. I remember one time when it had snowed a great deal. My Daddy felt confident letting Benji out without a leash, because how far could he go really? But Benji took off anyway and I will never forget my Dad’s exasperated look.

Benji didn’t move with us to our new home in the country, but it wasn’t long before a little black and white fur ball joined the family. Buttons was officially my oldest sister’s dog, but she was loved by all of us. I look back on our years with Buttons with great fondness. She did NOT like the vacuum, but she was a very playful dog. One year we strung popcorn for our Christmas tree and Buttons was beside herself trying to get at the popcorn! I loved that dog.

I always knew that someday I wanted a dog of my own. My husband had always wanted one as well. He grew up in a dogless home because of allergies and didn’t want our kids to miss out on having a dog. It was always simmering on the back burner, this idea of getting a dog, but 4 babies and multiple moves and of course, the big issue of not owning our home made it impossible to even consider.

A couple of years ago when my son was in 4th grade, he was asked to write a research paper on any subject. He chose to write it on Schnoodles (a Schnauzer/Poodle mix). Prior to this paper, my boy had struggled with writing, but as I read his finished copy, I was delighted with his work. If it had been a persuasive essay, he could not have been more successful. I looked at his research and I looked at pictures and I was smitten.

When Mother’s day came around this year, I had the brilliant idea of asking for a puppy. I was surprised when my husband agreed, but it made sense. If the dog was mine, he could legitimately say that the responsibility was mine. We went to look at some cockapoo puppies, just to see, on a whim, but as we pulled up, we saw a lady leaving with the most adorable puppy we had ever seen and then the owner came out with the last puppy of the litter. How were we to say no? And just like that, Sadie joined our family.

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The first night, I felt a lot of anxiety. Had we made the worst mistake? Sadie barely slept and all of the concerns about getting a dog were amplified by lack of sleep. She was my dog, so all of the responsibility fell to me. Cleaning up after her. Feeding her. Staying up at night with her. Taking her outside to do her thing. Training her. It was all overwhelming and although I had grown up with dogs, I still felt completely clueless.

But then I would see my kids with her or she would snuggle in my lap and I would think THIS. This is why I wanted a dog. And I would remind myself that it was a season. Although it was hard to believe in the moment, I knew she would eventually learn to sleep on her own. And she would stop nipping at us. And she would learn to do her thing outside.

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Sadie has now been a part of our family for 3 months and I am amazed at how my kids take care of her.They are willing to take her out whenever I ask (not always with a good attitude, but they do it!) and they love feeding her. She now sleeps well and I am no longer sleeping on the couch. She does well in her crate and we have been able to take day trips with the help of friends.

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It has been an adjustment for all of us and there are still moments when I wonder if we made the right decision. But those moments come and go and in between, I wouldn’t trade my Sadie baby for anything.

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When you have a dog, you cannot be lethargic, inactive and indolent. It forces you to get up and get moving. Sadie is a smart dog, but she doesn’t understand when I am tired or need a break. All she knows is that she needs me to take her outside. Dogs teach you that you can be selfless. You don’t need to be lazy. And contrary to what our minds tell us, activity actually gives us more energy.

So, thank you, Sadie for joining our family and for bringing us so much joy! We love you!

 

Love Your Spouse Challenge

There has been a “Love Your Spouse Challenge” going around on Facebook recently. The challenge is to share pictures of your spouse for 7 days along with reasons why you love the other person. To keep the challenge going, you are supposed to tag two people each day to accept the challenge.

I think it is a wonderful idea (always!) to celebrate love and marriage. With all of the marriages and relationships that are falling apart in our society, it seems like it is even more crucial to celebrate the ones that stay together.

I could easily do this challenge and tell you many reasons why I love my husband. He is wise, humble, gentle and kind. He takes care of our family, teaches our kids from an amazing store of knowledge, makes memories with us, and encourages us to live life to the full. He supports my dreams and encourages me to do what I love to do. He spends time with me, invites me to do ministry with him, prays with us and leads our family.

And while I love all of these things about him, the truth about our marriage is that I don’t stay in this relationship because he is an amazing man. Sometimes he isn’t. He’s not perfect. I’m not either. There are times when we don’t communicate well and we get frustrated with each other. We both like to sleep and there are times when we want the other person to deal with the night time kid (or puppy!) stuff. We are selfish individuals and sometimes often this affects how we treat each other.

But we knew before we made the commitment to marry each other that our relationship would not be based on how much we feel like we love the other person. We knew this wouldn’t be enough to sustain a relationship. Instead, our marriage needed to be based on the love that God has for us- the unconditional, always and forever love. This would mean that when the other person was not living up to our expectations, we would still have to do the hard work of loving them. It would mean that the grace that God has poured out into our lives as individuals would have to be poured out on each other in those moments when we wouldn’t deserve love.

This has been so freeing for our relationship and is the major reason why our love for each other is so strong. We understand that we will not always meet each other’s expectations. We will fail. We will disappoint. But since our love isn’t based on how amazing WE are, but instead on how amazing GOD is, when we mess up, we don’t have to worry that the other person will walk out on us. Our failures are an opportunity to show grace to each other and in so doing, bring glory to God.

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Recently, my kids were playing on a playground and my oldest son was on a seesaw (teeter totter?) with my youngest daughter. I didn’t get any pictures, because I was too concerned that her little body would fly off! But as I watched, I saw my son adjust his strength in order to make sure she didn’t fall.

It struck me that this is a beautiful picture of marriage. You can’t enjoy a seesaw alone. You need two people to make it work, but if one is only concerned with pushing as hard as they can in order to get what they want out of the ride, it is likely that they will knock the other person off the seesaw. Instead, both individuals need to adjust in order to make sure they are balanced and pushing in a way that is comfortable for both individuals.

In marriage, each partner must adjust to the other person. Sometimes one partner will be weak and the other one needs to be strong. The strength of the marriage is in direct correlation to how each person is valuing and respecting the other partner.

I love my husband, not because of what he does for me (even though he truly is amazing!), but because of how Jesus has loved me. When Dave fails me or doesn’t live up to my expectations, I choose to remember that Jesus gave his very life for me, so that I wouldn’t have to pay the penalty for my sin. When I remember this, how can I hold my husband’s wrongs against him? I am so grateful that he chooses to see me in the same light. He shows grace and forgiveness to me when I desperately need it.

As a result, I am madly in love with this man who has been my best friend for 20 years. I am accepting the “Love Your Spouse Challenge”, but am choosing to do it on my blog instead of Facebook. I want to make sure that those who take the time to read my words will truly understand that our desire in loving each other is always to bring glory to God.

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Dave and I met in college at Moody Bible Institute and graduated together a month before we got married. We fell in love while studying the Bible, theology and ministry and these things continue to be a foundational part of our marriage.

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My Daddy walked me down the aisle and officiated the ceremony as I pledged my life and my love to my husband. I didn’t know that one day Dave would be preaching every Sunday like my Daddy did, but I am so grateful that my husband honors my Dad’s memory in the way he faithfully pursues Christ. I always thought that I would never marry a pastor, but I am so grateful that God’s plans are different than mine!

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Dave makes me laugh. It’s one of my favorite things about him.

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He has given me these four blessings and still considers me to be his treasure. My heart is full.

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We have had the opportunity to go to some amazing places together. Here we are in Nicaragua before we kayaked on the lake behind us that was in a volcano. Making memories with my husband is one of the best things in my life!

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With all of the changes that life has brought, all of the difficulties, all of the joys, it is an incredible thing to look in this man’s eyes and see my love for him reflected back to me!

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Dave,

When I think of all of the ways our lives have been blessed, it is overwhelming to me. You told me before we were married that if I was determined to rely on God and not give up, then your love would be enough. This has proved true and I am so grateful for this. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for wanting to love me more.

I love you!

Becky

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If you have made it through this post, consider yourself challenged to do the same. Let’s celebrate marriage! It is worth celebrating!!

 

Lessons from Isaiah

I have been reading through Isaiah this summer and am only part of the way through. As I work through books of the Bible, I underline verses that I feel are significant. These are the verses I have underlined so far.

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“Stop bringing meaningless offerings.” ~Isaiah 1:13

“Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” 1:16b-17

” ‘Come now, let us reason together’, says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.’ For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 1:18-20

“He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” 2:3

“The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” 2:11b

“Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” 2:22

“…your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path.” 3:12

“In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious.” 4:2

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“The Lord will wash away the filth, he will cleanse the bloodstains. Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.” 4:4-6

“So man will be brought low and mankind humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled. But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will show himself holy by his righteousness.” 5:15,16

“I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 6:1-3

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” 7:9

“Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us.” 8:10

“The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary.” 8:13,14

Excerpt from Matthew Henry’s commentary based on the previous verses…

The believing fear of God preserves against the disquieting fear of man. If we thought rightly of the greatness and glory of God, we should see all the powers of our enemies restrained.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 9:6

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“He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.” 11:3,4

“With joy  you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” 12:3

“In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it- one from the house of David- one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.” 16:5

“So the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the Lord.” 19:21

“The Lord Almighty planned it, to bring low the pride of all glory and to humble all who are renowned on the earth.” 23:9

“Surely this is our God; we trusted in him and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” 25:9

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” 26:3,4

“The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for  you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” 26:7,8

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“Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” 26:12

“You have gained glory for yourself.” 26:15

“All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.” 28:29

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him… How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.” 30:18,19

“This is the way; walk in it.” 30:21

“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” 32:17

“O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.” 33:2

“He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” 33:6

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Amen and amen.

 

 

A Spacious Place

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When I was a little girl, I would often play by myself. Our home was surrounded by mountains, our neighbors were cornfields and strawberry patches. Across the street was a cemetery and the small country church where my Daddy was the pastor. It was a beautiful and inspiring place to grow up, but it felt small and insignificant. Nothing ever seemed to happen in Pitman, Pennsylvania that was noteworthy. There was no big city excitement. The only “culture” was the migrant workers on various farms.

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And so, I would play in our front yard and every once in awhile, a car would drive by and in my childish imagination, I would watch the car stop in front of our house. A distinguished emissary of a foreign land would disembark and walk through the grass to the place where I was playing and ask, “Are you Becky Mills, the daughter of Lance and Carol Mills?” I would breathe out a “yes” and then find out that I had a very distant relative who had passed away and bequeathed his inheritance to me.

At other times, the inhabitants of the car were big time movie producers who were driving through our town looking for the next big talent. They would see me playing hopscotch and would know that I was the one they had been looking for!

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I laugh now when I remember my dramatic and elaborate imaginings, but as I evaluate them, it strikes me that we all have a longing to feel valued, to know that we matter and to feel significant. In our immaturity, we look for those longing to be fulfilled through other people. If only they would notice me! If only they would see how much I have to offer! But as I have grown older, I have begun to see clearly that we are meant to find our belonging and satisfaction in Christ alone.

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A few years ago, after going through a particularly difficult time, I came across Psalm 18 and as I read these words, I felt God’s love pour over me.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me. ~Psalm 18:16-19, NIV

He- the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Alpha and Omega, the Ancient of Days, the Creator of the universe, reached down from on high and took hold of me- with all of my weaknesses, my failings, my insecurities, my sin issues, he drew me out of deep waters- from the difficulties that kept pulling me under and the problems that daily threatened to overwhelm me. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes who were too strong for me- He saw the attacks, the criticism, the judgment, the injustice- but the Lord was my support- not only did he see my hurts, he replaced them with Himself. He spoke his promises deep into my heart, turning my eyes from the crashing waves to look full in his wonderful face. He brought me into a spacious place- at the time I first read these words, I was sitting in our new home looking out on the huge field behind it and it was as if these words had been penned for me. I believe the “spacious place” is meant to have spiritual significance, but it was the sweetness of God that allowed me to see a tangible significance to these words. He rescued me because he delighted in me- in the margin of my Bible, I wrote, “I am his beloved”. How beautiful it is to know that God delights in us, not because of anything that we have done or have had to earn, but all because of who He is and what He has accomplished in us.

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We don’t have to wait for a distant relative to give us their money. We have “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us.” ~1 Peter 1:4 We don’t need to be noticed or recognized by random strangers because “the Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will quiet you by his love, he will exult over you with singing.” ~Zephaniah 3:17

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I love you, Lord, my strength.

 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. ~Psalm 18:1,2

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