Surprise Sally

September 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Susan Dollyhigh –

“Eating words has never given me indigestion, and I never felt discomfort in my abdomen after I chewed and swallowed,” Winston Churchill once said.

I have to agree. Some of the sweetest words I’ve ever eaten were, “I will never have a dog live in my house.”

God spoke to my heart in July 1996, and this non-puppy person had an overwhelming desire to surprise my son, Eric, with a Basset Hound on his 15th birthday. We chose Sally from a litter of ten adorable puppies who tripped all over their ears as they ran and played that sunny, summer day. We brought that trembling puppy home with us, and my maternal instincts kicked in. I held Sally close to soothe and comfort her, and surprisingly felt my heart being soothed and comforted in return. Looking into brown puppy eyes, I discovered what I’d missed over the years by not having a pet to love, and a pet to love me.

Sally was the wonderful distraction my family needed as my beautiful daughter, Emily, dwindled away from us and into an eating disorder. We tried to maintain our lives through counseling sessions, doctor’s visits, and extended hospital stays. But the days were long and dark as Emily’s condition deteriorated. Sally, with her heart-shaped spot, loved and comforted us through those difficult days that turned into weeks and then months and then years.

Many changes occurred in our lives over the next twelve years. But this dog, who I thought was for my son, turned out to be my faithful companion. Sally eased the adjustment as our family moved across the country. She stayed close by as my children left home for college. Sally comforted me through many long and sleepless nights after my mother passed. She helped me transition as we moved back to North Carolina where she lived out her last years. Sally taught me how to love in a way that I never had before.

Sadly, the day came when Sally had taught me all that I was supposed to learn from her. When the vet picked up Sally’s lifeless paw, placed it on the ink pad, and then pressed it to the keepsake paper, my heart ached and tears streamed down my cheeks. But I knew Sally had left this earth having fulfilled her mission. Sally left her paw print on my heart, and taught me many lessons on unconditional love.

QUOTE: A pet is someone who listens with their heart, speaks with a look, and teaches with love. (Seen in vet’s office)

“Ask the animals, and they will teach you…In God’s hand is the life of every creature, and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7 and10).

Filled to the Measure

August 28, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Susan Dollyhigh –

My stomach growled, and my eyes searched for a clock, as if needing to confirm the body’s signal for hunger. The clock, strategically hung over a snack machine, confirmed that I’d missed lunch. As I sat there in the waiting room of the full-service car wash, I glanced out the window where soap suds and water were flying, and all thoughts of counting points for my diet washed out of my brain.

I knew better. I’d been taught H.A.L.T., the acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired – conditions that leave us vulnerable to temptation. But five hours had passed since my skimpy breakfast of a mini-bagel, and “H” had taken control of my brain.

From that moment on, I operated on auto-pilot. Pick up purse from floor; pull out wallet, open change compartment, dig out quarters, walk over to snack machine. My eyes settled on a bag of baked cheese crackers, and I rationalized, those aren’t so bad. But with quarters ready to slide into the slot, my eyes slid down – to the peanut butter sandwich crackers, known as Nabs. In Weight Watchers, one pack of Nabs counts five points- which is equivalent to a whole meal.

Those Nabs were good. I washed them down with Diet Coke. No harm done, that will be my lunch.

However, when I returned home, I found myself in the kitchen foraging for food. I opened a cabinet. Hmm; think I’ll have a cookie. Munch. Munch. Those chips look pretty good. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Whoa! Sanity returned and I realized I’d certainly put more than enough calories into my body. So why am I still hungry?

I looked at the cookies and chips in the cabinet. Because I’ve filled my body with junk! I finally poured healthy cereal into a bowl, and covered it with skim milk. I sat down at the kitchen table, ate the cereal, and felt nourishment flow throughout my body. Whew, finally contentment.

I’ve found the same thing is true of our souls. Many times we try to fill them with “junk” by eating or starving ourselves, sleeping or being a workaholic, making money or being a shopaholic. We may turn to drugs or alcohol, or even try to dull our senses with TV or the internet. But none of these things satisfy us, and any of these things in excess can even end up hurting us. Our souls were designed to be filled only with Christ. When we allow Him to fill us, He gives us the power to let go of destructive things, and to find peace that comes only from our souls being filled to the measure with the fullness of God – and we are finally free to experience true contentment.

Prayer: Father in Heaven, thank You for dwelling in our hearts. Thank You for loving us. Please help us to grasp and to know Your great love so that we may be filled to the measure with all the fullness of You.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19 NIV).

Spirits Can Be Restored

June 21, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Susan Dollyhigh –

An empty old Georgian style house with magnificent columns in front sits on my street. Passing by this old house, I think how beautiful it must have been when it was first built and in times past. Neglected for many years, the white paint is fading and peeling. The house has even been vandalized inside and out. Having been empty for so long, it’s hard to know how much damage has actually been done. How much would it cost to restore this old house? I wondered. Can it even be saved?

How I wish someone would move in and fix up that old place! I know it has the potential to be so beautiful. That dilapidated old structure is a lot like many of us. We come into this world so beautifully created by our Maker. Then someone we trust hurts us; emotionally, physically or both. We may shut down emotionally because it hurts too much to feel. We may not care about our appearance. Beautiful spirits broken and sometimes even destroyed. After our “spiritual house” sits empty for so long, others may start to wonder if we can ever be restored. What will it take to restore us? How much will it cost? Can we even be saved?

The answer to this question is simply, “yes.” If we allow Jesus into our hearts, He can heal the scars caused by abuse and repair the broken spirit. And, unlike that old house on my street that would probably cost so much to restore, the cost of Jesus’ restoration is free. And Jesus’ work is always beautiful; after all, He is the Master Carpenter.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for being the Lord who heals us. Help us to feel Your healing touch today.

“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5 NIV).

Goin’ Fishing

May 9, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Susan Dollyhigh –

“I’m going fishin’, Nana,” KK, my three-year-old granddaughter said.

I smiled to myself as KK walked out of the kitchen where I stood washing dishes. How cute. I imagined KK casting out an imaginary fishing line and reeling in her plastic fish. Suddenly, my smile vanished as I recalled some of KK’s previous escapades. With sudsy water dripping from my hands, I dashed down the hall to the bathroom, all the while envisioning the tub overflowing with water and plastic fish.

Instead, I saw KK slowly emerging into the hallway – from the den. As she walked toward me, she cautiously placed one small foot down and then the other. In one hand she held a paper cup while her other hand covered the top. Upon reaching me, KK removed her hand from the cup and said, “Look Nana, I caught a fish.”

Peering into the cup of sloshing water, I recognized a fish that had been kidnapped, or fishnapped, from its home in the aquarium. KK was serious about her fishing. She never intended to use a make-believe fishing pole to catch plastic fish.

KK was determined to catch real fish.

Simon and Andrew were fishermen casting their nets into the lake when Jesus came along. These two men were serious about their fishing. They were using nets and catching “real fish.” Yet Jesus told them he had a more important fishing assignment for them – to be fishers of men. What did they do? They immediately dropped their nets and followed Jesus.

Even today, Jesus calls us to do the same. Do we hear His voice saying, “Come, and follow me.”? Are we willing to leave behind our busyness as Simon and Andrew did? Are we willing to share the good news of Jesus Christ with a lost and hurting world? Are we willing to be serious fishers of men?

PRAYER: Father in Heaven, please open our ears to hear Your voice. Please open our eyes to see the lost and hurting in our world. Please help us to be obedient and lay aside our busyness so we can be fishers of men.

“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:16-18 NIV).

Little Lost Sheep

March 20, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Susan Dollyhigh –

The blonde curls bounced as the small girl pranced down the aisle. The pastor had called for the boys and girls to join him for the children’s message. The blonde-haired girl wiggled her way into the circle of children sitting on the floor.

The pastor sat down, smiled, and said, “Good morning, boys and girls.”

“Good morning!” they called back to him.

“Boys and Girls, I’ve lost one of my stuffed toys.” The pastor’s expression changed and his eyes became downcast. “I know I had it when I got here this morning. I have lots of other toys, but every one of them is very important to me. I will be upset if my little sheep is lost. Have any of you seen it? It’s white and fuzzy…”

The blonde-haired girl spotted it first, pointed to the podium, and said, “There it is!”

The pastor looked up, and his mouth fell open. He stood, ran over, and picked up the toy. He hugged it to himself, and then placed it on his shoulders. “Thank you so much for helping me find my lost sheep. Will you rejoice with me? “

The pastor smiled and clapped his hands, and the children joined in.

“The Bible teaches us that we are like sheep and sometimes stray away from God. That makes God very sad, but He never gives up on us. He keeps searching for us and calling to us. He wants to draw us back into His arms. He even sent Jesus, His Son, to save those who are lost. Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t give up on His lost sheep? I am, because “I once was lost, but now I’m found!” The pastor prayed, “Dear Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd. Thank you for coming to save those who are lost. Amen.”

I thought that was the end of the children’s message, but there was more to come.

The children began to find the way back to their seats, but the blonde-haired girl just stood there. Her eyes grew wide and she scanned an endless sea of faces.

“Jenny,” someone called as he quickly made his way down the aisle.

“Daddy! Jenny smiled with relief, and ran towards her daddy.

Jenny’s daddy picked her up, and held her close. Jenny looked into her daddy’s eyes, and said, “I was just like the little lost sheep, Daddy, and you found me.”

“Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:3 – 7 NIV).

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