Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Losing Sight of the Big Picture

This is Baron (hi Baron!). Baron is my favorite Dachshund ever. He has a Kong toy that he's somewhat obsessed with, sort of how I am with emailing.
The only thing that eclipses Baron's love of Kong is his love of food. Again, Baron, you are my heart-brother.

Baron knows he'll get either a treat or his meal when he returns from his outside time. As a result, he does not tarry when he's out! He takes care of his busines and barks to come back in and get his food.

After hours of being in his kennel run, you'd think he'd relish some time to stretch his legs and breathe some fresh air. Yet the lure of food distracts Baron from enjoying the outside time.

I have the same problem. I often start thinking of something else I'd rather be doing (or eating) rather than where I am at the moment. As a result, my distraction does not allow me to enjoy the present moment.

Today I heard some Bible teachers discussing how we strap a timepiece to our body and then become a slave to it (when we used to wear watches). We sync our time to the clock, not the other way around. God's timing is different from our own. We must sync our clocks to His. And while we endure the often excruciating wait of our present situation, we miss the lessons and enjoyments of the reason we are where we are when we are.

Watching my iPod sync with iTunes has given me a new appreciation for this process. Even if I don't like the timing of my situations, there's much to be enjoyed before I can get to "the good stuff."

Monday, July 25, 2011

His Eye is on the Sparrow

You will be thankful there are no photos for this post.

Living in a rural area, roadkill is pretty ordinary. Yet last week, I saw a baby deer that had been hit. It made me sad. It was so beautiful. Yesterday as I was driving, the car in front of me hit a squirrel. Ugh. It was frolicking in the road. Then it wasn't.

When these things happen, I remind myself how we are taught that God is aware of every instance of death and suffering. Even the sparrow is a concern for the Great God of the Universe. It comforts me to think that if it makes me sad to see this tiny animal crushed, it breaks the heart of God as well.

And if God knows of these "minor" casualties, then how much more He cares about each one of us. We are the penultimate of His creation. He knows every bit of what we experience.

Nothing that happens is insignificant in the eyes of the Lord.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Picking Up Bad Habits

Usually, cats run at the noise of vaccuum cleaners. Some run at the site of them, realizing the horrible sound is not far behind.
But the Captain has no fear of vaccuums.

He hangs out with the dogs. He pretty much does what they do and looks at the cats with curiosity. They look at him like he's a vaccuum cleaner, as he attacks everything.

This morning when I vaccuumed, all three stared from the other side of the double doors (I have to block out the dogs as they attack it).
No fear. The Captain has no concern about the vaccuum because his dog friends have none.

There's a saying that it's harder to pull someone up on a stool with you than it is to be pushed off by someone.

It's easy to pick up our friends (or co-workers, etc.) than it is for our good habits to rub off on others (assuming we have them).

Christ forgives our sins when we run to him. We are pretty much powerless over our sins and bad habits. Sometimes we "win" but we "lose" just as often. God allows us to realize (over and over) that we need Him. Not just his power to help us in our weakness, but to forgive us when we capitulate.

With Jesus, we have no need to fear the vaccuums of our lives.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Treating Others Better Than You Treat Yourself

As Ohio bakes under what is being described as a "heat dome," it's important to note that the dogs in the kennel are lounging in the air conditioning. It's actually cooler out there than it is in my house.

Is it because I am a kind and generous person?

No, it is because I am cheap. A miser.

Being generous with others is not easy. Even people who are naturally generous may find themselves jaded after having people take advantage of their kind nature. Instead of giving, we keep track.

When I consider God's character, "generous" is not the first attribute that comes to mind. Yet he is abumding in generosity. Everything we have is from God's good hand. I tend to keep track of what God has NOT given me, or the stuff I had but it was taken away.

God's economy is not like us humans' at all. He's always going around turning everything on its ear with the "last shall be first" mentality. It's not easy to grasp.

Generosity comes from the heart. Our hearts tend to be small and selfish. A heart transformed by God is big and gives to others, treating others better than we treat ourselves.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hurt Versus Harm

Some people do not like pinch or prong collars on dogs because they say "it hurts them." My response, "yes, it's supposed to." While their use is hotly debated, my own stance is if you have a dog with a thick neck and a high learning curve, then if you wish to communicate (aka "train") your dog efficiently, then use what works. Use it properly, of course. They are not for every breed and every personality. You must know your dog to know if they are right for it.

Below is Dooley going to the vet. Am I hurting him putting him in the crate? Not intentionally, but he sure was terrified.
However, going to the vet is good for Dooley's health. Since I want a healthy cat, I have to put him through some pain and discomfort.

Using a prong collar (correctly) may hurt a dog for a brief second, but it is not harmful. Putting Dooley through the stress of stuffing him in the crate may hurt him some, but it's for a bigger purpose (although to be fair, I'm debating whether it's becoming harmful as it's soooo stressful for him).

Often I get upset if I feel like God is hurting me, or just "being mean" to me. But often He is simply getting my attention for a bigger purpose. God IS good and God is loving. God sees what we are unable to understand. When it hurts, there's often a plan that is better than our own.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Love Endures Forever

My favorite Saint Bernards, Brandy and Sandy, won't be visiting me at the kennel anymore.
Illness took both. Despite their 3 year age difference, both had been in excellent physical form, and their decline was mercifully quick. While I know it was tough to lose them both at the same time, it probably was a kindness that neither dog had to experience the loss of the other and the confusion and stress of it.

I still remember Sandy as a "little puppy" as she and my dog Foster have birthdays close together. When Brandy came along, it was wonderful to see Sandy mature and guard her new friend when they came to this weird kennel place.

Grief is complicated, and some people will forgo love simply to avoid the pain of loss. Is that any way to live?

We must break God's heart every day, but His love is patient and endures our mishaps as well as our devastation.

When we lose a person or a pet, we hurt and mourn. The object of our love may be gone, but the love is not. God, who is fully love, sustains all love. It endures the physical absence and the mental grieving. While we can't avoid the sadness, we rest in the assurance that in the hands of the Lord, He makes all things new. The brokenness of this world will one day make sense and will be whole.

We don't get to keep all the gifts that God sends us to enhance our life here, such as those we love. But love endures. Forever.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Everything is a Toy

If I had lots of time to waste (more than I already do), I'd go around the house taking pictures of the non-cat toys that the kitten uses as toys. However, even I don't have that kind of time. And you really don't want to look at pictures of rubber bands, pine cones, feathers, dead mice, hair bands, my ankle, dog toys, mittens, chair legs or bits of carpeting (this is not an exhaustive list).

But who wouldn't want to look at a picture of a cute kitten with a shoe?
Yes, the kitten thinks shoes are up for grabs as toys as well.

The kitten (currently known as The Captain) is going through a stage where he plays constantly, interrupted only by thirty second naps. Then, he's back to terrorizing all living beings (as well as specks of dirt) in the household. From the kitten's perspective, the world is an exciting place where everything is fun and a potential pounce-able target.

In time, the world will not be so wondrous to him, just the same old same old, with an occasionally interesting bug passing him by.

Even if one is resistant to the idea of God's presence, the natural creation is a constant source of wonder and awe. To many, it is what sends them to believe in God. The world is God's creation, meant for perfection before humans, his penultimate creation, messed it up quite a bit.

Yet it is still God's gift to us, and we can enjoy it with the wonder and joy of a kitten discovering his world. We should not be jaded by the good that is still in our world and in each other. There are the moments that we can regard all that is in it as an exciting adventure.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

This is Lilly (hi Lilly).
After non-stop rain for two months, we're currently experiencing a complete lack of rain. It sort of feels like we're baking, and not in a fun, getting a great tan kind of way.

Drink water. Give your pet fresh water. Water your plants.


Jesus said "I am the Living Water." He didn't say stagnant but living and flowing, bringing refreshment and live.

Drink your fill.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Raising a Brat

Sure, he looks sweet.
But the kitten has become a terrorist. He attacks everything, including his own feet. All of the cats try to avoid him. The dogs aren't even safe.
When kittens are taken away from their mother and litter mates too soon, they do not learn all they should. The little cat community "teaches" the kitten what is permitted and acceptable in cat world. Too rambunctious? The mother might give him the smackdown with a paw. Biting too hard? Litter mates won't play with him.

But the kitten in my care hasn't learned those lessons and he's a first class pest. And who is the biggest culprit, allowing this behavior?

Whenever the adult cats try to "explain" to the kitten that he's not behaving appropriately, Tilly gets between them and gives the cat a "hard look". The cat stops and the kitten has gotten away with his bad behavior. In fact, he just gets worse.

Yet when the kitten attacks Tilly, she growls and shakes him off. Hmmm....

None of us like to be told we're a pest. But we need to be open to hearing from trusted others what is acceptable, friendly, and good in our culture. While I won't go in a tirade of permissive parents, no one likes to be on the receiving end of a brat!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Making the Most of It

This is Molly (hi Molly!). Molly stayed at the kennel for approximately five weeks, going home last Wednesday. Her owners were doing missionary work overseas, and obviously Molly couldn't join them.
She had to "make do" with me and a kennel full of dogs. After some initial anxieties, she settled in well. I took her for long walks with my dogs. She got extra treats and pats on the head.

Even after all that time, Molly knew she didn't belong to me or in that kennel. She knew she belonged to someone else. When her owners arrived, she hopped up in their truck, not giving me the slightest glance goodbye.

"This World is Not Our Home" is an old saying. And it's true. A saying that really gets me is that this world is the only heaven non-believers will ever know, while it's the only hell believers will experience. That's a relief to me, that it will get no worse, but a somewhat terrifying realization that for some this is as good as it gets.

I can live above my circumstances of both good and bad when I know it's not all there is. I don't belong in this world. I belong to someone else - and He is a very good and loving God.

You can too.