Monday, July 7, 2014


I love small towns on the Fourth of July.

I love our small town.

Our mountain community put on quite a show!  Featured events included an arts and crafts show, a pancake breakfast, a deep-pit barbeque, a pie-eating contest, music, dancing, sidewalk vendors' booths, and food and drink galore.

And oh…what a parade we had down the main street of town!

With all the small town participants you could imagine!

The parade started with a little old lady playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" on her violin.  Just precious!  The grand marshal was Smokey Bear.  (Which, by the way, is his original name, not Smokey the Bear – trivia tidbit free of charge).

I certainly appreciated his presence in our town, and his well-wishing admonitions about fire prevention.  After all, it's only been one short year since we were evacuated for 4 days after a huge wildfire threatened our town and our home.

That's why I also appreciated the next entrants in our parade – a rather impressive showing of local and county fire engines, trucks, and emergency rescue vehicles.  At one point, I looked down the length of the parade, and there were like 15 vehicles in a row.  I call that reassurance, my friends!

Might I just add that I had way too much fun gathering up candy thrown from various cars and floats and kids who walked the street.  I made my acquaintance with something called an Atomic Fireball – basically, a cinnamon candy on steroids!  Let me tell you, combined with the homemade jalapeno sauce that I later ate at lunch, well, my mouth was on fire the rest of the day.

Where was Smokey when I needed him?!

A highlight of the holiday weekend was the several events sponsored by some local animal rescue organizations.  All sorts of animals were up for adoption.  OK, yeah, I felt really sad for the faces, but I know that these animals are safe – these organizations are no-kill.

There was a contest for the Mr. and Mrs. of our town – a sort of canine homecoming king and queen event.  I must mention here that the mayor of our town is a Dog, elected into office by a very dog-friendly town!  He was around all day, with his tie on, spreading goodwill and possibly a few licks.

And, there was a special parade called, "Strut Your Mutt."  

Only dogs with…ahem…*mixed* heritage could enter.  I loved that!  A big to-do to honor those lovable creatures who bring us such joy.  Not Winchester Dog Show candidates, but real down-to-earth guys and gals who make up in adorableness what they lack in pedigree.

In all, a great time was had by all!!

So, I've been sitting here thinking about my blog post.

What on earth am I going to write about?  

And as I've been contemplating, I just couldn't stop thinking about the "Strut Your Mutt" parade.  First of all, I loved the title – I'm a sucker for rhyming! And second, I loved the idea of treating some otherwise "overlooked" doggies as special.

And then I remembered a recent conversation I had about judging other people.  About how I try not to do that because I've made so many mistakes in my own life.  How I try to extend grace to others because I realize that I am no better than the next person.

That I am a sinner like everyone else.

And in the course of the conversation, I mentioned the conversation that Jesus had with some high-and-mighty Pharisees.  This is what He had to say:

"But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, 'Why does he eat with such scum?'

When Jesus heard this, he told them, 'Healthy people don't need a doctor – sick people do.  I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.'"  (Mark 2:16-17, NLT)

And then I said, "I know I'm a sinner.  And I'm glad I know."

So, what's this have to do with the "Strut Your Mutt" parade?  

It's this…

I know I'm a mutt.

When we read the Bible, we see that Gentiles were considered pariahs. Not born into the chosen race, they were thought to be impure and heretical and not deserving of the benefits and blessings that God bestowed on the Jewish nation.

Not purebreds, but mutts.

Until Jesus.

And then, in a shocking display of overarching love and grace and acceptance, Gentiles were given the chance to join the Kingdom.

I'm not sure that we of the 21st century can conceive of how audacious (and disturbing) this new covenant truly was!

God was now including *mutts* – curs and mongrels – into the blessed privilege of becoming His children.


However, as a person who is now granted an inheritance into the Kingdom of God because of Jesus, I am so very glad to claim my place in the parade!

I count myself lucky to be totally aware of my lostness without a Savior. I'm glad to fully acknowledge that I didn't deserve His salvation, but that I was granted it anyway.

I KNOW that I am a sinner.  And I am grateful to know that I was "sick with sin" until the Great Physician came along.

The Savior of the World, God Himself, sat down with "scum" – and that would include me.

I know that I am much more comfortable sitting at the table with the outcasts, the disenfranchised, the miscreants, the bedraggled, the strugglers, the screw-ups.

For in my Master's eyes, I am now righteous.

So, friends, let's go out this week in all our *muttness* and live out the very Good News that we are now part of the Kingdom.  Let's celebrate the fact that we have been rescued and adopted.  Let's praise Him for the truth that we are now counted among the privileged children of God.

Let's continue the work of inviting others to sit down at the table, and join in the parade!

Yeah, let's go out there into the world and "Strut Our Mutt!"

Strutting can be hard work! 

"'If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do?  Won't he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?'" (Matthew 18:12, NLT)

"'For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.'"
(Luke 19:10, NLT)

"'…the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'" (Luke 9:56, NASB)

"'For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.'" (John 3:17, NIV)

"Then Peter replied, 'I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.  In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.'" (Acts 10:34, NLT)

"'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.'"
(Galatians 3:28-29, ESV)

"But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12, NLT)

"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God."
(Romans 8:14, NLT)

"For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.  For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him."
(John 3:16-17, AMP)

In what ways do you still struggle to accept God's acceptance of you?

Linked today with:


BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"


  1. Hi Sharon, Excellent post as always. Strutting certainly can be hard work, but we have to keep trying, knowing we are helped by Almighty God to do so.

  2. Sharon - Even as I was reading about the Strut Your Mutt contest, I was already thinking about all the ways I am like that, just a mixed up mess, but loved, chosen, and forgiven. I'll bet those little doggies had a great time being loved on. Your town sounds wonderful.

  3. Every week I wonder the same is she possibly going to make an application from this...going by the title and the first part of your post...which by the way, sounded like a wonderful way to celebrate the 4th of July...your town certainly does it up right! Anyway, should I really be surprised? are such a gift, not only to the blogging world but to the world in general. I love the way you are able to take ANYTHING and turn it into such wonderful truth and revelation from God. You are a gem, Sharon! God bless you!

  4. Hello and I did appreciate these words and the way you shared our 4th of July! You do have a sweet gift and a precious love for the word and the Lord!
    May all your days be blessed my friend in this world and the life to come!

  5. Thanks Sharon --- for sharing your 4th of July adventure in a small mountain town, parade and all. Precious! I will join with you and "strut my mutts" today, giving them some much needed honor and attention ... maybe even actually "strutting" out in the real (hot) world on the streets, since I now basically keep them enclosed in my AC room or out in the back patio and laundry room ... they need an outside break. In fact, Chimi (my only male) is yapping right now, pleading to come back in ... so I gotta cut this short... and attend to him. I simple adore your gift at turning the "mutt" in us... into a spiritual application in being accepted, adopted and given an assurance of an inheritance we did nothing to earn ... amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a "mutt" like me ... In all His Glory, Jesus walked among the unlovely, making them lovely and pouring out His love and grace ... This was so enjoyable! (Although more than likely Marty was not with you to strut ... he is a cut above, being a beagle ... and his photo is so adorable!) Curious though Is your mayor really a "golden retriever"? that definitely is dog friendly haven ... how does that work? Now I'm a bit baffled but totally delighted by this ... many blessings and HUG, Peggy

  6. Only you, Sharon, can find the gospel of Jesus Christ in a Strut Your Mutt. I loved this. I'm on a mission to fill my mind and heart with ONLY the good stuff this day

    (and hopefully this week... and this month... I'll let you know how it goes. )

    This is the kind of good stuff that hits the spot. I'm so proud to be in the Mutt Strut with you. Now, I'm trying to dream up a really good name for my particular believer's breed.

    And then there's this: Really? Is your mayor really a dog? Too funny. I will resist the urge to mention that it would probably be an improvement over some of the folks in my own town government. (So much for resistance. )

  7. I love being rescued as you described it here, Sharon. I am so glad I was too! I did hear there were lots of people up in your neck of the woods for the 4th (brother and wife were up there at their cabin). The parade sounds so cute; always love a good parade!


  8. Well, I had no idea where you were going with this. And now I do. (o; Another insightful post.

  9. Hi Sharon, I remember events like yours when I was a kid growing up in a small town, but now I live in a major city. They were a lot of fun and a lot of good food. How blessed we are even though we are sinners, Christ died for us. God bless, Ken

  10. Sharon, I live in a small town too and we had the same type of parade!! Gotta love some small town pride. Love that we are all mutts, until Jesus. What two words could be more precious? Thanks for linking up to Testimony Tuesday!

  11. Great post! Sounds like you had fun! <3

  12. I love, love, love this! I love how God can take things like a dog parade and totally use them to nourish our hearts and help us to realize His amazing truths. And I also totally love the idea of not having to be perfect in order to be celebrated!

  13. Oh what a fun and inspirational post. Love all your descriptions of your small town celebration! And how your tied in the strut your mutt to us in Christ. Amen sister!

  14. Your little town sounds so lovely and fun! My town used to be that way until it outgrew itself. We do still have a street festival once a year to try to return to that small-town feel, but it's so packed and commercial now that it's hard to remember how it used to be. Nonetheless, it's still a wonderful place; I'm not complaining, just reminiscing. :)

    None of us are pure-breds but Jesus. So thankful he takes us mutts in as his very own! Thanks for this post, Sharon.

  15. You're about two years ahead of me on this rural, cowboy, small town, mutt stuff. I always enjoy your posts & visits to my blog. There's something refreshingly real about God's having lead us to such a simple existence.

    As for self-acceptance ... I learned back in my late 30s/early 40s that comparing myself to anyone (or anything) but Jesus was an exercise in idiocy. But His righteousness & grace are mine, which frees me from sin to obedience.

    Great post!

  16. Love the thought! We can strut our "muttness" because He is our righteousness - we boast in our weakness because He is our strength. Amen!

  17. Oh my goodness. I'm a huge dog lover, so the fact that your town's mayor is a golden retriever is like a dream to me ;-D Your town sounds amazing. I love how you seem to immerse yourself in the moments here, even gathering up the candy (reminds me of my mom!), and how you appreciate the scandalous wonder of being a "mutt". Thank you for sharing this fun reflection with Unforced Rhythms!

  18. Yeah, I'm a mutt too. Blessed are we, the "Whosoevers"! Sounds like a great town! My dog Larry is a pure bread, but he could be lacking the most! Just goes to show it's not all about the blood we're born with, but the Blood that paid our ransom...

  19. This made me smile. Strut your mutt in a parade? Well, really God likes to 'strut His mutts too, all to His glory' I'm glad I'm a mutt. Ha! Super sweet!

  20. No parades in our small town:( - but a friend hosted a Moon Pie Festival - family fun and games, food, fireworks - and just wonderful sweet getting together! So glad Jesus came my gentile forbears - allowing the mutt I am into His family - how awesome is that!!!!

  21. What a wonderful post, Sharon! I feel so the song, "Family Of God", I'm not worthy to be here, but praise God, I belong. I am so grateful God accepts us just as we are...with our checkered, mixed-up, sinful pasts, and He lets us walk in His parade...not masked or costumed...but just as we are. And He loves us just that way. Wow! God's love never ceases to amaze me. So thankful for you, dear friend. :) God's blessings be upon you.

  22. You had me curious and so I promised to stop over and here I am!! I loved how you moved from the 4th celebrations and the Strut Your Mutt parade to how we were saved.

  23. What a delightful celebration for the 4th of July. Strut your Mutt does have a cute ring to it and for sure most of us are mutts when it comes to being a Gentile. Thank you for sharing your lovely story with us here at “Tell Me a Story.”

  24. I don't think I've ever been so proud to be considered a mutt Sharon :). Your town sounds like it knows how to have a great time.

  25. I just adore mutts...and I am proud to be one too!
    Blessings and love to you, my friend~ Lisa

  26. Hi Sharon! We have a similar event in our village. It's called "Mutt Strut". Same thing really. I never thought about being a mutt...but I like the analogy. I am certainly not a 'pure-bred' Christian. I have my moments, so I guess I really am that mutt in the parade. St. Paul said he was so proud of his weaknesses, he would boast about them.

    I guess I should strut my mutt-ness in the parade then too. Be proud of my weaknesses, because God will make me better!
    You always have such great concepts Sharon. Love my visits here :)

  27. I want to live in a small town. I really, really do. We considered it many years back but never made the move. Your 4th of July weekend sounds all kinds of wonderful. As always, you had me smiling here, friend. I just love how you took "Strut your Mutt" and turned it into a wonderful message. You have a gift. Thanks for how you always bless me by what you share.
    Much love.

  28. I'm so glad I'm your neighbor AGAIN at Lyli's link up! I got a good laugh about the atomic fireball candy and the jalapeño sauce. And then I loved the fact that God chose us, the unwanted mutt at the dog pound, and adopted us as His very own, His beloved. Hallelujah!

  29. So it's YOUR town that has the doggy mayor! I've read about him on a couple of other blogs. I love how you keep it real, Sharon! always bringing it back to HIM, right where it all should be. Amen. Have a blessed week, my friend!

  30. The town's celebration sounds fun. And as for self-acceptance - it was a struggle to believe that He could truly love me but something He taught me about love that changed everything - it's patient, kind, always believes the best, wants the best, and never leaves. Couldn't fight that. Happy Thursday, Sharon.

  31. Sharon this makes me giggle and shout AMEN at the same time! (I think I might have said that on your last post I commented on too, haha.) You have such a way with words and I am a sucker for analogies. Thanks for sharing this great one over at #EverydayJesus.

  32. Great analogy Sharon! Thank you so much for sharing this over at Counting My Blessings! Enjoy a wonderful weekend.

  33. Hi Sharon! It's nice to meet you!
    I was saved in 1994. What way(s) do I still struggle?
    I have made some big parenting mistakes, which I regret.
    It's hard for me to forgive myself, and to accept God's forgiveness.
    In my mind I know He has forgiven me, now to get it to my heart.

    Great post!

  34. Haha! I'm a first class mutt.

  35. I love the gospel explained this way - who doesn't love a mutt? Who can't relate? I enjoyed every line! Love you, dear Sharon. You bring me so much joy.

  36. I come from Indiana, Pennsylvania -- home of huge floats and long classy parades. The first time I saw one here in Muncie I laughed, but its grown on me...the homeiness of it. Strut Your Mutt is adorable -- I love how you take something so ordinary and share such beautiful spiritual truths. ~Pamela

  37. Sharon,

    I am pretty sure I want to move to your small town. How fun! I love this analogy of comparing us all to the mutts and I can completely relate. Why do we have to judge when I am just as much of a sinner and in need of a Savior as the next person? Thanks for sharing with Saturday Soiree Blog Party and I hope you will be a regular to the weekly link-up. It was a blessing to meet you!

  38. Yep, I am a mutt! That was a great visual that I can sure relate to. :)
    I am a mutt who belongs to God, and that will never change.

  39. I enjoyed your small town parade. Living in the city is so....different. I ached for your kind of parade, your small scale celebration...big on love. And pride. I'm not a dog lover but connect with your encouragement to strut my mutt! Will do.

  40. It sounds perfect. I miss the small town celebrations from my childhood!

  41. Great application! We moved last year from Juneau, AK to Oklahoma and this is one thing we miss. The 4th of July was such a huge deal with parade and games and excitement. Your post made me reflect on all those wonderful memories. :) Thanks Sharon! And thank you for adding this to the Hit List!

  42. I saw this at Fellowship Fridays...ha, I had no idea where you were going, Sharon! But I loved it! I am in love with our granddog, Eisley Quinn, a pure English bulldog. She is adorable! I miss her while we are overseas. ANYWAY, your analogy was terrific. I am a MUTT! BUT good! ♥

  43. Sharon, your photo caught my eye at Kathy's blog party. I enjoyed reading about your town parade and the Mutt Strut, We have something similar in our small town and I love it.

    As a Messianic Jew (a Jew who believes in and accepts Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah), I would like to share one wonderful thing with you. Gentiles have always been welcome to join Judaism. A study of the Old Testament reveals this. Hashem always welcomed the ones who wanted His ways. Ruth is one example. Rahab is another. Egyptians were among the millions who followed Moses out of Egypt. Hashem never rejected anyone due to their race.

    Yes, now, through repentance and faith in Yeshua, Gentiles have been grafted in to the blessings and also the responsibilities of His Kingdom. Our synagogue's motto is "Jew and Gentile - One in the Messiah".

    There is so much to learn from Judaism and the Torah, and I encourage all followers of Yeshua (Jesus) to investigate this.

    Shalom and Blessings,
    Rebbetzin Gail Golden


"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

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