A Blessing in a Cowboy Hat

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Tired, cranky and overly emotional would be good words to describe my frame of mind Friday night and Saturday morning. I spent long, hard days in NE with my Dad, sleeping in incredibly hard chairs until I could drag myself away from him to go to the motel. I was trying to grasp the reality of an unreal situation. All I wanted to do was go home, go to bed and cry myself to sleep.

About the last thing I wanted to do was go to a wedding and act like I wasn’t breaking in a million little pieces. How do you make small talk when your heart is breaking? I didn’t even want to try.

But up on the mountain we went Saturday afternoon, the wedding was today and we were going to be there. Somehow the fact that the road was fit only for the toughest of four wheel drives seemed fitting and fit my mood perfectly………… ROUGH.

Yes, I was tired, grouchy and way to emotional. I wanted no part of people, I wanted to burrow into my sorrow and I was bound and determined to have a bad day.

God had different ideas however, funny how He blesses us when we least expect it and aren’t looking for it. Everywhere I looked I found blessings.

 The Mom of the Bride so loving, gentle and attentive to her daughter while taking care of a million “wedding’ details. Step Dad who was where ever he needed to be and usually with the cutest little ring bearers I have ever seen. I remember thinking, how do you guys do that with such grace? A step Mom making sure that her step daughter knew that there was nothing more important that making this day a special one. A Dad that glowed with obvious pride at his beautiful daughter as he walked her down the aisle.

These things warmed my heart and slowly…………… healing was being poured down from heaven. It was balm to my soul.

I can’t say however that the whole day was smooth or easy nor that I handled it gracefully. There were a couple trips to the pickup with my very understanding husband to cry and let the wonders I was seeing settle deep inside me.

 An exceedingly tired, cranky, overly emotional woman is not necessarily a pretty picture. You can put on a happy face for awhile but usually not for long.

There were excruciatingly painful yet beautiful reminders yet to come for me on the wedding day. The biggest lessons of all I suspect.

 The grandfather of the bride reminded me so much of my Dad with his big cowboy hat and quiet demeanorand steady easy style. (Just a note, Gayle, you possess the same cowboy spirit as my Dad. It is not something that is fake or that has to be worked at, it just is).  The way he interacted with the kids and especially the grandkids was precious and so familiar. For a while it made me so sad to watch as it reminded me that my Dad would never get to see his grandkids get married. That he would never be that solid and steady rock in their lives.

But the more I watched the more I realized that just like Gayle, my Dad has instilled the same spirit in his family. How could I think that what he had worked to build in us over the years would just be gone when he was no longer physically present? It doesn’t work like that. Everything he taught us, every lesson we learned at his hand is still here, still prevalent and still meaningful. Although Dad can’t speak to us now we are still listening to him and living as he taught us to. God has saw fit to silence this great man for the time being as he lays quietly in his hospital bed but that does not mean we have forgotten what he taught us.

I realized I should not be mourning what I was losing but rather, rejoicing in what I had received over the years.

There were treasures for me everywhere I looked that day at the wedding on top of the mountain. It was like a calming rain healing my heart. Now that I have had a day or two to get rested from my trip to Nebraska I see that once again God put me exactly where He needed me to be to bring a sense of healing. I feel exceedingly grateful to have been a part of this day that was special in so many ways.

 To my great big crazy family. I love you. To God………….I humbly thank you.

Dottie

……………..and so I ride

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It’s to late

“It’s to Late”

If adversity and suffering are good for nothing else, it helps us to bring into focus the things in life that are important and the things in life that are not.

I wish I had spent more time with my kids when they were growing up, now it’s too late, we have no relationship.

I wish I had saved more money for retirement, now it’s too late, I’m living on a retirement budget that doesn’t cover the bills.

I wish I would have taken care of my marriage when I had a chance, now it’s too late, I’m facing divorce.

My Mom said something to me that pierced me right to the heart for her today. “Sis, she said, do the things that matter now, you never know when you are not going to get another chance to do them.” I had heard that a thousand times, but somehow with my Dad laying in an ICU unit unable to walk, talk, eat or drink, well………………that age old sentiment took on a whole new meaning.  

However, it wasn’t the lesson I was expecting to come forth.

At first I kept thinking that we need to do the things that create memories and bring happiness while we are able. Things like spending time with our kids, saving money for retirement, worked on our marriage, taking the dream vacation and building the house we always wanted.

Then as I was sitting in “my” corner of the ICU and yet another Dr was trying to discover the cause of my Dad’s illness, it hit me. Yea, we sure do need to make sure that we make our time on this earth count, we all know our days are limited. We might like to claim invincibility, but our earthly days will come to an end. It is guaranteed.

While those other things are important and the results can be life changing, they are not lifesaving. Sending time with our kids , saving more money and caring for our marriage are important but their usefulness is strictly tied to our time on earth.

Never had a picture been painted quite so clear for me as to why we ride to bring souls to Christ, why hundreds and thousands of Bibles are handed out, why prayers are going to heaven in a constant stream.

Never has a picture been painted quite so clear for me that there are different degrees of importance of the things we put off. Some things we put off result in an uncomfortable situation for us, some things we put off can have much more severe consequences.

Don’t put off the truly important things. Find out about this God you are always hearing about. Seek the truth about Christ and why He died. Take Christ as your own, accept His gift of eternal life and start living like the royalty you are. I don’t think the legacy we want to leave is that we were “too late”.

Dottie

………………….and so I ride

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Put fear in it’s proper place, in God’s hands

When you are facing something scary and difficult it is really hard not to panic and give in to despair. As I am watching my Dad slip further and further away it is hard to keep the emotions and fear at bay. I think that it is so hard to watch because it represents so many things.
It represents the end of things as we knew them. It represents uncertainty and if I am honest, it represents a fear inside that time is marching on and the same thing that is happening to Dad could happen to any of us.
I have always been pretty good in a crisis and have lived through some pretty tough stuff. In all those circumstances the hardest thing to battle was the fear. It was the greatest enemy. Fear will paralyze and cripple you. Fear will take your focus off God,
I am finding now, just as I did in all those other crisis, that if I can recognize the opportunity in this situation to learn something more about God, it helps to diffuse the fear. Though the situation is so painful it almost leaves me breathless, God is still God. He is near and that is comfort.
I have to be disciplined and make myself listen for God when He whispers guidance. I have to quiet the fear and rest in trust. It would be easy to curse God and become trapped in despair but isn’t it really just as easy to rejoice and praise God for what I have.
Romans 8:28
I admit that when I am hurting it is hard to remember that God is going to work this out for my good. But for me anyway the secret to the truth of this scripture is realizing that this is a place of refuse I can always come back to. If I remove the fear and trust that God is God, I can cuddle up in the knowledge that after the pain the sun will shine again. I have to hold onto the truth that tomorrow promises a glorious dawn.
A thought comes to me this morning (placed there by something I read somewhere I’m sure), I think sometimes we go through difficult times not because God doesn’t know how strong we are, but rather because we don’t know how strong we are. With God here beside me, I have all the strength I need. Amenimages (3)

A Legacy

Thinking about my Dad tonight. 

One thought just will not leave my head. How in the world did I end up with the drive and passion to have a ministry that centers around writing about my motorcycle adventures, God and what riding and writing means to me.

Yesterday (ironically as I was riding) it occurred to me that the happenings in my life that have brought me to where I am did not happen in a vacuum. I had not given it much thought until now, although I did not understand where it originated, I have felt protected since I was very little. 

It was astounding to me to realize with absolute clarity that God had been with me and working in my life to bring me to where I am now……for my whole life.

It was like the whole of my life was brought to my mind and if I had not been riding it probably would have brought me to my knees. It wasn’t a lightning bolt kind of moment (good thing it wasn’t given where I was). It was God’s love that had been wrapped around me since birth, plain and simple. A phrase our pastor used this morning described it perfectly, it wasn’t a lightning bolt it felt more like a gentle rain falling to the earth to nourish all it falls upon. It was falling on me. 

You all know how I feel about my dad, he was the first person God gave to me that showed me the unconditional love that only Fathers can. He guided me, he protected me, and he showed me what was good in life. He was my rock, solid, steady, mostly silent but unmovable in his devotion. I was always his little girl, he was always my hero. He gave me the things that mattered. 

I will never forget when he got me my first motorcycle. I was barely a teenager but old enough to catch the spark. He loved riding and did often and he gave me the fire for the open road and the wind in my hair. I put lots of miles on my dirtbike. I rode for chores, for fun, to carry stuff to Dad in the field, to visit the neighbors, it was as much a part of me as my arms and legs. It was a spark that was imbedded deeply but unfortunately smoldered for years before it was allowed to burn brightly again. 

Fast forward a whole lot of years, my 32 year marriage had ended, I pulled away from friends and family and I was literally adrift. I was drifting but it wasn’t on a course that was bringing me closer to God. The longer I drifted, the more distant God became. It was not long until God was just a tiny speck on the horizon and I was caught in mighty rough waters. There was not a lot in my life at that time that resembled the good old days. 

I was dating and living a party life when I met this guy on the internet named Earl. There was just something about this guy that drew me in. I liked him, dated him and I will never forget the day I found out he had a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Oh yea, I was in for good. This guy had a bike and I was back in business. 

Another gentleman I was dating before I met Earl must have sensed something was happening with Earl and I because he proposed to me. I had to tell him no, that I thought Earl was a special guy and probably the one for me, and well you know…………………he had a bike! 
Earl and I, we got along great, we partied, we rode and we partied some more. Bikes were a part of our lives from the very beginning. Bikes and drinking.

It didn’t take long however for the glitter to wear thin and the realities to start hitting home. 

Things got rough, darn rough for Earl and I and it became painfully apparent that something had to give. That something was alcohol. 

So alcohol and all the bad things that imitation medicine brings were gone from our lives. Fortunately I still had Earl who I had grown to love deeply and I still had motorcycles. Like my Dad, my husband changed my life when he bought me my first motorcycle since the one my Dad bought me. I am not sure Earl realizes just how grateful I am for what he did for me. 

In a relatively short amount of time my world once again revolved around riding motorcycles. Anyone who knows me also knows that writing is another passion of mine and it means a great deal to me. It was not long before I was writing about riding my motorcycle. It was wonderful to be able to tell others about what riding meant to me and to help guide them in the direction of serenity, freedom and independence only a motorcycle can offer. 

The more I rode however, the more I learned about myself and the more I learned about myself the more I felt the pain of not walking with God. Slowly, ever so slowly as the miles racked up my heart was softening and before I knew it I was desperate to get on solid ground with God once again. All I had to do was ask and I felt the rain again, the same one the pastor spoke about this morning, God’s love. Only this time it wasn’t a gentle mist, it was a monsoon and I was totally immersed. 

It was no longer enough to ride, it was no longer enough to write. I had to ride for Jesus Christ, I had to reach those who rode the same roads I did but rode with no hope. And when I found them I had to write about it. 

Just as there are many ministries and many motorcycles, there are many ways to have a motorcycle ministry. It doesn’t matter how you do it, it matters that you do it. 

I usually sign off with ……………………and so I ride,

but tonight it seems fitting to sign off in a different way. 

…………..and so we ride

Thank you God for giving me two special men in my life who realize the power of the motorcycle and open road, my Dad Wayne Raasch and my husband Earl.

My Dad gave me the dream, my husband reignited the flame. 
I will ride for Jesus Christ the rest of my days. 

Dottieyhst-10822724454454_2151_6808321

When it feels like god deserts you.

Psalm 88:6

“Thou has laid me in the lowest pit. In dark places, in the deep”

Ever feel like God has abandoned you? I think if we were honest we would all admit that we have. We have all had times when the pain and despair feel like they have taken up permanent residence in our lives. We have all had times when we can barely take the next step let alone contemplate walking the complete journey,

God feels distant and up reachable and we feel abandoned. It happens more than you think. So you pray and you pray diligently……… and you’re met with silence. The silence is real and so loud it drowns out every last sensation except the voice that keeps telling you that God abandoned you.
It must be more common than we think, cruise through Psalms and you will find plenty of distressed cries to God.

Can there really be good hidden in the agony that sears our soul? Well, that question bothered me a great deal. I look around and there are as many people living with mind numbing pain as there are people enjoying the riches of peace.

But wait a minute, why? And is this fact somehow a good thing in disguise? Then I found 1 Peter 3:7. Read it and pay special attention. It feels like a warm blanket on a cool night. We are born again to a living hope, we get for our very own an inheritance fit for royalty and that inheritance is imperishable and undefined. Read that again and let it soak into your soul. We are protected by God, there did you catch that? Read it again…….we are protected by God………not sometimes, not once in awhile, always. Even in His silence.

So, if it says in the Bible this is not unusual, my next question is why would God do this to us? Would a loving a Father really withdraw so far that his children think they have been abandoned and thrown to the wolves and left to fend for themselves? Apparently, but I am still wondering why.

Well maybe, just maybe we still have a thing or two to learn about God and He thinks the time has come to teach us. We,being the hard headed, stubborn souls we are usually can’t take the easy road to anything, God knows this so He puts us in a position we have to dig so far inside ourselves that we dig right past our own being and we find God.
We have to dig so deep we not only find God, but we come to know Him in a way we never experienced before.

So grab the promise God gives us and hold into it with a vengeance. He says that He will reveal more and more of himself to those who seek Him.
Somehow I don’t think it was supposed to be easy. Things worth having are worth fighting for.

Fight to know God in the deepest level possible. You won’t regret it.

Dottie

………and so I ride

The power of solitude

I spent time in the Black Hills this last week. I was alone except my dog Buggs. With the world swirling around us faster and faster and all the external noise that accompanies living like we do, once in awhile we need the opportunity to unplug and get to know ourselves again. To be certain, when we are used to living in the noise and the chaos the first day or so in the solitude and peace of the forest can be unsettling and you find yourself wondering what you are going to do to keep occupied. Silence and life without distractions is a life we are generally not accustomed to.

So me being who I am, do what comes naturally, I jump on my bike and see where the road takes me. Riding solo is where you find the special moments because there are no distractions. When you are alone in the woods or on your bike God pushes you further and further out of you nice comfortable box because there is no one to rely on except yourself and Your Father.

I found that it is when the solitude is thick enough you can touch it and it envelopes you that is the time you are most aware that God is right beside you. The solitude allows you to draw closer to God. It is so wonderful to hear the words “You are loved with an everylasting love” and actually have the time to ponder on those words and have the time to thank God properly for loving us like that.

To find a quiet place in our noisy world is hard, to be quiet and still is not an easy thing either, but to be quiet in your quiet place is downright difficult. You have to stop doing, you have to stop trying to make things happen, stop pleasing people, stop producing, stop obsessing, stop everything. You have to be still.

That can be hard, that can be scary, even in the beautiful quiet of a lovely deserted campground. Silence can bring inner conflicts to the surface, it can stir the distresses and longings that are always just below the surface. However if we let the solitude and silence serve as a cleansing of our soul we can then let God fill us with the things of His choosing.

I guess that solitude should not always be a silent place where we do “nothing”‘ it is probably better spent as a time of conversation, a conversation between yourself and God, a time of letting the worldly things go, a time of dying to ourselves and a time for our new self to be filled and a time to find freedom.

To find solitude should be our goal and to find God in that solitude is our reward.

Dottie
…………………………….and so I ride
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Time at the carwash

I think our carwash is one of the busiest places in town. On the 4th of July Earl and I rode in the parade with our CMA group the Glory Riders. Before we could go to the parade however we had to spend a couple hours cleaning and shining our bikes. I took mine to the carwash and half the town was there cleaning and shining their rides. When we got to the parade starting lineup, saddlebags and trunks were popped and out came the rags and spray to make our bikes, cars, and whatever we were showing off shine. It was a lot of work but when it came time for the parade to start we were sparkling like a new diamond.

I think a lot of people tend to think that the road to salvation is a lot like getting ready for a parade. They think that they have to clean up their lives in order to come to God. Think again! It was a lot of work to get spiffed up for the parade, coming to God does not require the same trip to the carwash. It doesn’t matter how hard we try, how well we live or how much we change, we can’t “earn” our Father’s love.

Oh sure we can clean our outsides up, shower, shave, new clothes, haircut, brush our teeth, deodorant, cologne and we are a different looking and smelling person. But you know what, you are still the very same person on the inside. We can’t fix our hearts by ourselves.

Think about this. God knows the desires of our hearts, He knows our thoughts, all of them, He hears ever carelessly uttered word and He knows our motives. The world around us only sees us as we present ourselves to them. They can’t see the same thing that God does.

So when the world thinks we are good, honorable and moral people, God knows the true condition of our hearts and He knows why we do the things we do. Sorry, but according to Romans 3:23 we all fall short of the glory that is God.

We don’t have to spend countless hours cleaning up our lives we simply have to believe that God is real and wants to reward us with eternal life. Seek Him, earnestly seek Him and you can gain that reward. Admit you are mired down in sin and no matter how many times you go to the carwash and how much deodorant and cologne you buy you can’t rid yourself of the stench of sin.  If we are living apart from the forgiveness that only God can give us, we are going to be living with sin. Ask God to take it, it is that simple.

So save the quarters that you would spend at the carwash, and get on your knees. Admit you have the problem of sin and that it is personal and runs deep and you can’t rid yourself of it. Ask Him and it is a done deal, sin is forgiven and when you get off your knees a miracle has happened. You will be cleaner than any powerscrub at the carwash can get you. You have been power scrubbed by the Great One and he has given you an eternal dose of wax to help repel the darts that Satan will surely hurl you way.

Jesus is the only one who can do this for you, save your money, come to Jesus not the carwash.

Dottie

…………….and so I ride

………………..and so I rideROmans 323