Monday, May 1

Broken-Tailed Blessings {Guest Post}

Good morning, friends! Today's post is from Jen Spiegel, our dear friend and collaborator on our new book Grace for the Misfits: 31 Days Pursuing the Unconventional Favor of God, arriving NEXT Monday. In the meantime, Jen's writing today about broken-tailed blessings, and her post is a little preview of what we've got in store for you in our Misfits book.

I was at a women's conference last fall when my husband did the unthinkable. I'd warned him against it many times, but in a sudden burst of courage and obstinacy (fueled by my absence, I'm sure), a few cute pictures on a website had him driving an hour from home to pick up something I'd said no to more times than I can count.

It was Saturday afternoon, and as the conference was winding down I received a text from my hubby. It read, "Have I told you lately how beautiful you are?" There was also a picture.

A picture of a dog.

A picture of a dog in my living room.

After spending a few minutes oscillating between shocked silence and disbelieving laughter, I pulled myself together enough to finish out the conference and then headed home, not quite sure what I'd do when I got there.

We'd been down the dog road before, and it wasn't a journey I was excited about taking again. Ever. I've always loved dogs—other people's dogs, not ones that want to sleep in my bed every night and steal my bagel every morning.

Y'all, it wasn't pretty when I got home.


You see, helping organize and run women's conferences is something I absolutely love to do, but generally I return home as sort of a cross between Frankenstein (lots of mumbling, stumbling about, and short-temperedness) and Rip Van Winkle (twenty years of sleep? Yes please!). There was crying. There was more creepy hysterical laughter. And yes, there was even a slammed bathroom door, followed by more crying.

After a few minutes, I began drying my angry tears. I walked out of the bathroom and over to the kitchen window. My children were in the backyard, laughing and throwing sticks for the spindly-legged creature to chase. His tongue was hanging out sideways, a big doggy grin on his face as he streaked across the yard to retrieve another stick, and I felt my stubborn resolve start to crumble.

As much as I wanted to fight this crazy development, I knew if he was going to be our dog I was going to have to give him a chance.

I headed outside to where my husband was sitting on the deck (undoubtedly wondering what he had been thinking to bring a dog home), and gave him a hug. Then I knelt down to pet the little rascal whose arrival had so upended my afternoon. I could see every one of his ribs, and his hip bones jutted out sharply. His fur was rough and dry, his tail looked broken, and he only had one eye. But with every wiggle of his funny little body he radiated joy.

Within a couple hours, I was in love.

And as the months have passed, I've become more and more sure that the impulsive decision my husband made that day was indeed the right one.

When I tuck my boys in, that dog is there, sneaking under the covers and resting his head on one of their pillows.

When I need a walking partner or a foot warmer, he's there.

When I need the perspective of an unfailing optimist, he's there.

I didn't ask for him, but he turned out to be just what our family needed.

The thing I love about the way God works—the way he blesses us—is that we never quite know what it's going to look like. In fact, a lot of the time it seems that God’s favor looks the exact opposite of what we anticipate. We can plot our journey. We can plan our days. But if we refuse to adjust our course when the unexpected happens, we may completely miss the true blessings God has for us.

God is the master of surprises.

Turning pain into joy.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you," Matthew 5:4 (MSG).

Turning loneliness into relationship.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for," Matthew 5:7 (MSG).

Turning hunger into satisfaction.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat," Matthew 5:6 (MSG).

In the upside-down kingdom of God, poured out becomes filled up. Far away becomes closer than your next breath. Mess becomes mission.

That's very good news, friends.

If you think he can't take your pain, your crazy spur-of-the moment decision, your giant mess, your big mistake, and use it to accomplish great things, maybe it's time to take a closer look at Matthew 5.

When we seek God's hand at work in unexpected places, we just might find our broken-tailed, one-eyed blessing right in front of our eyes.

Ponder: Have you ever received a completely unexpected blessing? Are you facing a situation that seems too bleak to be used by God?

Pray: Spend a few moments talking to God about the pain you're facing today and ask him to open your eyes to the ways he is able to use that situation for his glory and your good.

Act: Consider someone in your life who is facing difficult circumstances and how you can be God's vessel of blessing in their life. Send an encouraging text, drop by with a small gift, or meet a practical need in their life today!

Jen Spiegel is a mom of three and married to Seth, her sanity saver and constant encourager. A medical editor by day, freelance editor and blogger by night, Jen is passionate about the healing power of storytelling and encouraging women to discover God’s faithfulness within their own stories. When not crafting metaphors and searching for the perfect synonym, she can be found homeschooling her children, plotting her family’s next great outdoor adventure, or curling up on the couch with a good book and a one-eyed dog named Finn. You can connect with Jen at www.storiesinthetrees.com.

Don't forget that our new book, Grace for the Misfits: 31 Days Pursuing the Unconventional Favor of God, is available now! This book will offer encouragement and hope for anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t quite fit in, walked through hard times, or wasn’t sure God could use them--all while discovering the upside-down ways of Jesus, his kingdom, and what (and who) he says matters. This book will make the perfect gift for yourself or someone you know (Mother’s Day is right around the corner!). Find out more information here.

Today we're linking up again with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Holley Gerth.

3 comments :

  1. I love that God gives us what we need... even when we fight Him to take it. That goes for the furry kind of gift, as well as many others. thanks for your story!

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  2. Love that God used the dog to teach you so much. Came home once and my husband had bought a gerbil. Another time a huge glass tank and light and all the paraphernalia for a snake. Luckily when he found out that the snake only ate mice one left defrosting on the counter (unless wanted to catch fresh ones), he let me return it all. He keeps threatening to bring home a dog. I guess time will tell.

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  3. Love this heart-warming post! God surprises us many times but always gives us what we need!
    Visiting from #TellHisStory

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