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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Reunions

Many families have reunions over the summer, particularly in the month of June. Not every dog, despite being a member of the family, gets to go to the big family reunion. Many times, they come to the kennel instead.

Once their owners arrive to take them home, they are somewhat ecstatic.

Case in point of ecstasy:
Dozer
Dozer is not deranged - he is happy.

Then there is the other dog owned by the same family, Beans:
While it's uncertain just what Beans is saying, it is probably something along the lines of "Take me home now!"

These two dogs were at the kennel for the first time and were so very darling. Despite their difference in size, they live in the same home quite happily.

People who follow God come in every size, shape and color. Sometimes we look deranged and not at all like we belong together. What we have in common is much greater than our differences.

Someday, we'll all "go home" together. That is a reason to be ecstatic!

Monday, June 27, 2011

But I Miss You

This is Riley.
Riley is my friend Liz's dog. Even though Riley enjoys "in house" privileges while Liz is gone, it's not good enough for him. He gets walks almost every day, he enjoys sleeping on the rug, laying on the cool kitchen floor, interacting with the cats and my dogs, and extra scratches on the head.

And it still doesn't make Riley happy.

He wants Liz. He spends most of the time here looking out the window. He never tires of waiting for her, knowing she'll return.

Riley's unwavering dedication is inspiring to me. Do I wait for the Lord? No, most of the time, I read my little devotional, go down my laundry list of prayer concerns, and get onto my rather lengthy list of things to do. Maybe I'll get back to God later, but mostly, momentum and the tyranny of the immediate has my attention.

There's a nice little deck that overlooks my pond that's perfect for waiting, praying and reflecting. That's a place I can be with no distractions. Dedication isn't always natural. Sometimes we need to work at it a bit. For Riley, it's an art form.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Making All Things New

When I was growing up, my first dog was named Brandy. My best friend and fellow dog crazy buddy got a dog named Pepsi right about the same time.
We grew up with these dogs, and they even died within a year of each other.

This past week, an owner brought her two dogs and I couldn't help seeing the resemblance between Brandy and Pepsi. Meet Dinah and Shelby (the big lab is Lacey).
It's not a great picture, but they were a couple of the cutest dogs I'd seen for some time.

It was nice to think about my childhood pet. Brandy is such a distant memory.

Jesus said, "behold, I make all things new." I wonder often what that means. I think it means that my cranky self can be redeemed into a thing of beauty. I think it means that our aging bodies will have a better future eternally than we can understand now. And often, I wonder if it means that even our old animal friends will be with us in eternity.

All things new. We are drawn to babies, puppies, and kittens. Could it be that there is something about that newness that God uses to show us that what he calls new is eternal?
. Why wouldn't we enjoy that feeling forever?

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Literary Feline

Cat can read. I've got proof.
Olive reads books like "Interesting Places to Sleep for Four Days in a Row" and "Perfect Your Awkward Meow."

The kitten on the other hand is reading "Endear Yourself to Humans with Ten Easy Cute Moves."

See:
She also has been reading, "Acts of Terror Only a Kitten Can Do with Immunity."
There will be more postings about actual dogs in the kennel soon. And they will have spiritual elements. I'm sure some of you are not as intrigued by the kitten as I am. But I can't help it - those books are working.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sharing Your Stuff

Recently, I did a study at church about generosity. It was challenging to say the least. It wasn't about money per se. Generosity of the heart is manifested by how we give - not just through money.

As you can see from below, the kitten is still here. It is still un-named, in hopes that someone will want him. He's decided that his favorite place to sleep is the bed Tilly has long favored.
Tilly is not happy about sharing. At first, she just would go lay down on the carpet when she found the kitten in her bed. Then, she decided it was her bed darn it and she was not going to share!
This is nothing new. When Tilly first got here, she slept in the bed Olive usually used. Olive wasn't happy about this.
Are we really any different? The "don't touch my stuff" mentality is deeply ingrained within us. We are naturally selfish and it doesn't take much looking around to see that is getting worse.

Only the Lord changes our heart sufficiently to want to share, to want to help others. When we recognize that everything we have is a gift that we don't deserve, then sharing is that much easier.

I'd like to be less selfish. But I don't want to enough. I need to pray to want to change. I can't change on my own. I like thinking about me and I like my stuff. If I can somehow pry my eyes off my own interests and focus on the good things the Lord provides, then I can think of how they are such wonderful gifts that I want to share.

Gotta go. One of my friends is having me over for breakfast. I probably should find something to share....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Creatures of Habit

That's Millie sitting in her van, ready to go home (Hi Millie! Millie? Over here, Millie! Okay, fine).
When Millie arrives at the kennel, she's less than enthusiastic. She looks at her owner with her sad eyes, pleading with them to change their minds. After making them feel sufficiently awful for their cruel, cruel treatment, they drive off to enjoy their vacation. Only then will Millie acknowledge my presence.

Each time Millie has been here, she always stays in the same kennel run. But due to an unfortunate scheduling conflict, there were two rat terriers in "her" suite. She was indignant. She looked at me for an explanation.

This must be how Martha Stewart's jailers felt.

Even though I put Millie in a "room with a view," she always went back to HER suite when she came in from outside. She glared at the other dogs with disdain. How could they? Reluctantly, she went into her cell, I mean run, but she wasn't happy about it.

When Millie's owner showed up, she went back to pretending I didn't exist. The owner and I discussed how Millie is not unlike the old lady (or young lady, or middle-aged man, or child) who gets mad that someone (often an innocent visitor) is sitting in HER pew on Sunday morning. How dare they?

It can be debated whether we pick our routines because we lack creativity or because it's just easier not to make one more decision in our already harried lives. Either way, when circumstances don't go the way we expect, it throws us off our game, which often upsets us.

Getting shaken out of our routine can be a good thing every now and then. People who go on vacation are usually happy to "get back into their routines." It's comfortable, and generally there's nothing wrong with that.

But we can't get too comfortable. We aren't going to feel God leading us into anything different and exciting if we settle in too strongly. We have to go into manual overdrive to have a good attitude and be open to whatever the new opportunity may present.

Next time you find another dog in your cage, be happy about it. You'll get to know a new space.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hey You Bunch of Whiners!

Last week (when it was not blistering hot or pouring like a monsoon) I was doing a little gardening. Then, a little howling broke the silence. Soon, the single howler had company. There were only ten dogs in the kennel, but I think all joined the chorus. As soon as it began, it ended.

What was that about?

Misery loves company. In fact, Misery has been known to show up at my doorstep and we'll enjoy a cup of coffee together (told you it loved company).

Complaining can easily become a habit. Soon, we focus on the negative just so we have something to talk about with other people. It grows and before you know it, everyone's howling about something.

Breaking this habit is not easy. Often, others will derail us in our efforts as well. And then there's the peer pressure of keeping our mouth shut while others complain, not adding your own story of misery.

Certainly we have our own bad stuff and its worthy of our consideration. The more serious stuff must be dealt with in a healthy way, and often it persists. But the whining stuff...the stuff that really gets our juices going...that's what we need to look beyond.

A loose translation of Galatians 5 tells us that living a life with God and seeking his ways leads to affection for others, exuberance about life, and serenity. Aren't those fantastic things? Isn't that worth our focus? And when that really gets ingrained into our personality and our behavior, we will see we have much better things to do with our time and energy than howling about things that are insignificant.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hating the New Kid

Remember how in school, the new kid used to get picked on?
That's what's happening here.
Even though Carbon (the grey cat) herself was dumped off here, she has no sympathy for the kitten. When I found Carbon, she was even smaller and younger than this little guy. She had fleas, ear mites, ringworm, and even maggots on her. She was a disgusting mess. She's blossomed into a very nice, beautiful cat.

Sometimes we don't like to think that God loves the downtrodden. We've got our act together, what's wrong with those "others?" If God wants them in the family? Who are we to say otherwise. Probably God knows something about that person that we're missing. Fortunately, God can override our small-mindedness and bring that person "into the family."

I don't necessarily want to bring the kitten into my "cat family," but he sure is cute and somewhat irresistible. He has gotten comfortable too, even cozying up in the hood of my jacket.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Irritation

Sometimes it's the little things that really get to you.

Foster hates the kitten. For a blind dog, he does a pretty good job of sniffing it out and nipping at it (which the kitten doesn't seem to notice). I sort of feel like I'm living in a Pixar movie right now.
The big, bad dog attacking the helpless kitten.
I'm not sure how something that weighs one pound, two ounces bothers Foster so much. There are four cats in this house, one of them at twenty pounds, but this kitten apparently is the last straw. Come to think of it, he's hated all the kittens.

Isn't it true with us, too? Everything else in the world is going along fine and dandy when some "little thing" gets stuck in our craw. Even if it's not directly in our line of vision, we still seek it out, just so we can hate it some more.

What's the answer? It happens to us all. The more I try to "be good" the more I realize I just simply can not. Sometimes I do better, through the grace of God. Other times, I fail in spectacular fashion. God's grace endures and purifies in all those times. And that's no little thing.

What "little thing" is bugging you today?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chosen

Here's Shelby (hi Shelby!). Isn't she cute?

It's easy to see why, with those doleful eyes, she was adopted from the local shelter.
Little was known about Shelby other than she had just finished weaning a litter of puppies. Then, she's doing hard time in a weird place like the shelter. Suddenly, she's chosen, out of the other dogs, to go to a wonderful new home, complete with regular meals, a comfortable floor, and lots of attention. How did she process all these changes? Did she understand?

Shelby did great at the kennel, even though she was put back into that "weird" environment. She ate with gusto, had no accidents, and was as sweet as can be. When her owner came to get her though, she was thrilled. What a trooper.

Lots of people say they can't go to the pound or shelter because they'd "take them all home." Isn't it nice that God doesn't have that problem? He CAN take us all home. He wants to adopt us into his family more than anything. We get to choose to respond to his invitation.

Shelby knew she was going to a wonderful home when she hopped into her owner's car yesterday. It was much better than the kennel or shelter. We don't always understand what we'd be escaping if we chose to respond to God's invitation to love and be loved. It's the leap of faith - that He is who He says He is.

His life is abundant and good. If God pulls up in a car, or tugs on your heart, respond with enthusiasm - it's a great home.

Friday, June 3, 2011

What to do When There's Another Mouth to Feed

Someone dropped off a little something near my house on Wednesday.
It would appear he is a "last of the litter." Right now, this household has four cats (who barely get along) as well as two dogs. That's a lot of animal hair in the vaccuum.

However, there are few alternatives for the little guy. While I desperately want him to go to someone who would enthusiastically welcome a cute little kitten in their home, there just aren't many people who want one.

Shelters are packed. I know without making the first phone call that none are accepting more.

So what happens?

This is us coming home from the vet's office:
He's about four weeks old and still wants to nurse. He's eating soft food, but not the hard kibble just yet.

It's not going to be easy for my other cats to accept another cat, particularly one that doesn't understand boundaries.

In God's family, He always is wanting more and more and more. Sometimes we don't want to add any more weirdos into the family. But weren't we all stray at one time? Shouldn't we welcome all who need shelter and love of the Lord (which is everyone)?

Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life." He also said a lot about being the Living Water. It would seem the resources in God's economy never run out.

I"m not so sure about my personal resources. But, I'll do my best.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Shedding the Old

Foster has been shedding a lot lately. After his surgery, clumps of fur came out. It wasn't pretty, but I like to imagine some birds had some extra cushy nests with Foster Fur in them.
Foster's old dead fur was useless to him. However, at one time, it was extremely useful and necessary to keep him warm as well as protect him from bugs, bites, brush and other hazards dogs might encounter (not all of which start with "b").

Often there are parts of our personalities or habits that we keep around. Maybe we need them for awhile. But maybe after a time they are no longer serving a purpose. That's when we need to shed what is useless. New, better things take the place of the old. It's amazing how this can happen when we are open to the transformation God can provide within ourselves.

And bad habits are for the birds.

What has God changed in you? What do you wish he'd change in you?