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24th of November

Invisible Threats and Giving Thanks


It’s Thanksgiving week and in Wisconsin there’s a frenzy for bagging a buck, the more points the better. We live in the country.  Men in orange (and some women) sit in tree stands, waiting.  Some sit in camouflaged blinds, waiting, like my husband and youngest son.  They haven’t fired their shotguns yet after two times out.  But a huge buck with 12 points was downed on our neighbor’s acreage to our south on Saturday.  There’s still hope!

Deer are not the only hunting fascination around here.  First come the birds.  A couple weeks ago, my husband had a hankering for pheasant.

So exactly why does my dearly beloved round up Rose, our yellow lab, and drive clear to South Dakota in two trucks with four other men, two other labs and an array of shotguns, ammo and plenty of camo-clothes to hunt pheasant?

Why venture west when we have plenty of pheasant on our own 44-acre farm, right here in Wisconsin, a third of which we voluntarily include in a local hunt club where pheasants are released on a regular basis?

Answer: It’s a guy thing.

(Ladies, let’s try to be kind. And honest. Do we want our men questioning us about whether we really NEED another pair of shoes—or skirt—or purse—or anything beautiful—even if we “make a kill” for 80% off? Or better yet, if we find our prize “rack” —in a RESALE shop? We all have our ways of “hunting” and strutting our stuff!)

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So Rose, Coco and Daisy hit the grassy plains of SD and are loving the fresh air, the smells, the running, the hunt.

Second day, Rose comes back bleeding.

Three slashes.

One on her right leg above her paw, another a bit higher. The worst—right where her heart beats wild from the running and leaping. All three gashes need sutures, reconnecting ripped apart flesh.

Good thing I didn’t know until my husband came home two days early due to heavy rains on the plains.

Rose jumps on our bed at 11 PM, swiping her wet tongue across my sound-asleep face, waking me abruptly. Tail wagging, she flops on her back, which is dog language for “I’m home! Rub my belly!”

That’s when I feel the stitches over her racing heart and wonder aloud what the HECK happened to my BABY!

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My husband minimizes while and I maximize.  Standard operating procedure.

“She’s FINE!” he responds promptly.

“My BABY!” I wail loudly.

Turns out, she ran full speed into a barbed wire fence in the field.

Turns out, one of the guys hunting with my husband just happens to be a vet.

Turns out, the vet just happens to have surgical thread and needle, antibiotics and pain meds with him. He stitches up our sliced-open, four-legged best friend, right there in the field.

Another dog story.  Who cares?

God cares.

God cares about the sparrows of the air and the labs of the field.  God cares about you and me.  And God teaches us about himself and his kingdom coming in simple, everyday things we can understand— that have meaning to us— that we care about.  Like dogs, at least for me.

I think about all the dangers lurking in places we least suspect. I want to run through my days, exuberant and peaceful. But what if all I see in my mind is hidden barbed wire?

I think of Paris and how I might have been in that restaurant where normal-looking diners suddenly slipped masks over their heads and opened fire on the unsuspecting. I think about being held hostage by terrorists in a stadium, watching them execute, one-by-one. I think about the angst in our country over the threat of being attacked here, even worse than 9/11. I think about the river of refugees flowing steadily, looking for safety.

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Closer to home, I think of new cancer diagnoses, of people suffering from debilitating fears and depressions, of accidents causing injury and death, of the war zone in Milwaukee, of the innocent there, caught and killed in the cross-fire and the five-year-old girl sitting quietly on Grandpa’s lap in her living room when a stray bullet meant for another flies through the window killing her and shattering much more than glass.

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Our fragile hearts can so quickly and easily shatter.

Some wonder if God cares?

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Some wonder why God does not stop all the terror and killing, the disease and the dying, the pain.

I don’t presume to understand complicated world issues. I certainly don’t presume to know the whole mind of God.

But I know what I’ve learned from God allowing pain in my life. And I know God uses everyday ordinary, to show me something of his love for me and all he has made—his constancy, his provision—beyond what we can ever imagine.

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In South Dakota, Jesus was in the field, right there with the men and their dogs. Jesus saw Rose leaping through the grass. Jesus saw the barbed wire rip her open. And just as Jesus cares for the sparrow, he cared for the lab, right there, right when she needed help.

I know God is not distant or disinterested in all that causes pain. He might let us run head-on into things that slice us through, but he—the Great Physician—is with us always, always ready, equipped and compassionate—sending people to stitch us up, keep infections from forming, comforting us in our pain, using that pain to grow us stronger and closer to him and others.

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Often, we see Christ’s care in community—through friends and family and even strangers who reach out to help us carry our burdens, to ease our heavy loads. In turn, those who help the hurting are given the gift of an expanded heart, a greater connection with God.

For sure, life doesn’t always turn out the way we want or think it should. But we’re not God. We see only fragments of a larger picture. But can we look past the pieces and see the cross?

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Because of Jesus Christ, restoration is our destination.

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For now, there are terrors. There is torture. There is suffering. There is death.

Yet even now, we can be vessels of light and comfort and joy and peace of Jesus in a world spinning mad—a world who needs to know Jesus Christ, who along with the Father and Holy Spirit are ONE, and want NONE to perish but ALL to have everlasting life under his eternal rule of love and righteousness.

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Today, we can refuse to bow to our greatest enemy—the terror within—and insist on standing firm in our faith.

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Today, we can choose to believe the truth—that Jesus Christ is here in spirit now, working for good through his followers.

Today, we can choose to believe Christ’s promise that he is coming again to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords on this earth.

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So let’s remember, when our gashes seem too much to bear, we have an eternal Savior, a Comforter, a Provider who SEES and cares. He is not far off. He is in each breath and each hand reaching out to give Jesus—Love and Truth.

Is there anything or anyone we need more?

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The card you see in this post was created by our daughter, Anna.  Now 24, we adopted Anna from St. Petersburg, Russia when she was two months from turning 6.  Had she not been adopted by age 6, she would have been sent to another orphanage where her hopes for adoption would have been bleak.  Anna’s great desire is to help other Russian orphans as she was helped.  She creates and sells “star cards”, donating 100% of her profits to a Christian organization who uses 100% of their donations to help Russian orphans.  Would you consider helping an orphan like Anna and her two brothers, our two sons?  10 cards, 2 each of five designs with envelopes.  $15.  To order, contact me at hmjohnson@wi.rr.com.  New Christmas cards available!  Order soon!  Supplies limited!

The porcelain fawn was created in Lomonosov, Russia—a place where artisans sculpt God’s creatures in clay.  Lomonosov, the town where God raised three orphans in a dilapidated house who would one day be adopted as “fawns” into a forever family—ours.  We love them, 18 years and counting, as God loves us, by grace alone.

Welcome to True Life With God!

Come stroll the trails with me on our 44 acre Midwest horse farm where I seek God in the ordinary and always find Him--the Extraordinary--wooing, teaching, wowing me with Himself. Thanks for visiting. I hope you will be blessed!

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