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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Adapting to Change

It's coming. You know it. I know it. We don't want to talk about it.

Cold weather.
That's right, Carbon. My feelings exactly.

Having a touch of arthritis in my back and hands, the last couple days have been full of aches and pains as the temperatures have taken some serious dips and a band of thunderstorms passed through. When the storms woke me up, I realized the pain in my back was gone.

Storms come in our lives as well. They are not welcome. We want things to stay the way they are. That's not necessarily a bad thing. No one wants pain.

Yet after the storm passes, our pain can change and even be redeemed - used for a greater purpose than just our own comfort. If you've ever seen another person in pain and wondered how to help, you'll only know how after you've been through some of your own.

And that's a good thing.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hospitality

It's always fun to have friends visit. It's about the only thing that motivates me to clean up the place.

Guests to my home experience a running of the gauntlet. I might have to start having people complete a waiver before setting foot on the property.

Yesterday's visitors experienced the following: ambush by kitten while walking up front porch steps, one ridiculous dog trying to scratch their arms while the blind one bumped into their legs, trying not to trip over cat toys, not bumping their heads on the lamp that is hung too low, and lastly, having to clean a shoe after "someone" peed on it.

I won't name names.
(I'll just show her picture)

Fortunately, these were good and decent friends visiting and they were good sports about the whole thing. Hopefully they'll come back someday...

"Getting it right" can be a stress when we are welcoming others to our homes or even just into our lives. We want to make a good impression. While this is certainly a nice goal, what people tend to want more is genuineness. Being real and open is both easier and gives others the chance to do the same.

Jesus said, "Let the children come to me." It wasn't a suggestion. And he didn't care if the kids had crumbs on their faces or dirt on their knees. He just wanted them for who they are.

And it's the same today. He wants you for who you are. No matter what "dirt" you've got. He's real and His love for you is greater than any fancy welcome mat.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

He's Still Able

Ever since Foster was young, he's run to the end of the driveway to retrieve the newspaper. He brings it to me, jabs it in my hands, and then runs up the front porch, waiting for his breakfast.
Now that he's completely lost his vision, he's still getting the paper. The last few days there have been no dogs in the kennel and I get to have "robe and slipper" mornings. Foster has gotten the paper for me, more times than not (it would help if it was delivered to the same general spot).

I'm so thankful he can do something that he still enjoys. I like it because it's a benefit to me on cold, rainy mornings. While he needs more supervision in general, his routine hasn't changed much.

It's important for us all to feel important and needed, no matter what our age. When we lose our ability to do certain things, it can be soul crushing.

"Thank you, Lord, for waking me up in my right mind today."

Sometimes, even that is lost.

What is to be done with the frustration of aging and ill bodies?

I hope you didn't think I had the answer to that age-old question.

I only know where to go for comfort in the confusion and frustration. No amount of positive thinking, attitude adjustment, or rubbing Budha's belly compares to the Real Presence of God's love. It's hard to understand, it takes time and patience as well as giving up our own ideas about things sometimes. But it's true and it's real.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Ray of Sunshine

Ever notice when the weather is dreary you have little energy. When the sun pours in the window, it's much easier to get up and at 'em.
This does not hold true with the Captain. He has energy no matter what. Since he can't jump up on the back porch like the bigger cats, he has learned to jump on the tree and then onto the porch. Sort of like a superhero.

Wouldn't it be nice to have that kind of energy? Sometimes when I'm lacking vim and vigor, what really works for me is slowing down.

How does that make sense?

Sometimes I need a little more time to pray, because my brain just doesn't want to. If I take more time to talk to God (often in a complaining - yet respectful - tone), the rest of my day often goes a little better and with a bit more kick in my step.

We may not have the physical energy of a child, or even a kitten or puppy. Yet, God's strength is like no other. It's a matter of sitting down to get energized.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Terrier is a Terrier, No Matter How Small

This is Jenny (hi Jenny!). Actually, she has a longer name, but she's Jenny to her friends - keeping it casual.
Jenny is a Silky Terrier and weighs maybe 3-5 pounds. This weekend, her first visit to the kennel, she was around large dogs weighing in close to 100 pounds.

Jenny was unfazed.

She may be small on the outside, but on the inside, she's got the heart of a terrier. From Rat Terriers to Staffordshire Terriers, all dogs of this class tend to be fearless. They were bred to fight vermin on the farm and bulls invading pastures. Tenacious is another word to describe them.

God made us fearless too. We forget this, when we see the vermin invading our lives, either personally or communally. Maybe we turn into a heap, cowering in the corner, when faced with a challenge.

God strengthens us, doesn't he? HIS strength - not ours. With the power God alone can impart to us, we can become tenacious on the inside, even if we look "dainty" on the outside. "Perfect love casts out fear." Again, only God's love can impart to us perfect security so we know no fear.

You know what that means? You don't have to put up with any "bull" in your life. Take it from Jenny.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Actually, it's Sparky the dog in a nice denim/tartan plaid coat.
Sparky was a first-time visitor to the kennel recently. It was cold the day the owner dropped him off and certainly he was the best dressed dog, looking all "Dapper Dan" and dignified.

Looks can be deceiving.

When another dog entered the kennel a couple days later, Sparky took serious issue with it. His (wire)hair stood on end, he postured and acted like a true terrier. It wasn't dignified behavior, but very normal for a dog.

Have you noticed how good-looking, well-dressed people often get away with awful behavior? If Snooki was unattractive, heavy and dressed in sweats and behaved the same way as she does on Jersey Shore, she'd be labeled very differently. Or maybe she'd just be on Teen Mom.

Regardless, it's a relief to me that God sees the heart of a person. We make assumptions all the time based on externals. Sometimes we're right, sometimes we are not. Other people make assumptions about me, and those may be wrong as well. Remembering God knows what's truly important allows me to extend grace the way God has extended grace to me. While God knows all things, I am unable to do the same. I can only do the best I can.

God is long-suffering of our bad behavior. Maybe I can be a tiny bit more patient. Love endures all things.

What was the worst assumption you ever made about someone? Who's testing you now? If you can't forgive now, how will you treat that person until you can? Run to God.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Coming Back from the Brink

This is my cat, Franklin. (Okay, he's ONE of my cats but we won't discuss cat population in my home now.) Frank is eight years old and six years ago had some surgery due to repeated UTI's. He's been on borrowed time.
This week, I noticed he was throwing up. In my house, this is frightfully not uncommon. Then I noticed that there wasn't much food being eaten. Frankie doesn't miss a meal - he's eighteen pounds (hey, he's down from twenty).

Yesterday morning, he was lethargic so I got him to the vet as soon as I could. I worried I wouldn't be bringing him back. Fortunately, it looks like he's going to be fine.

Cats can go down hill quickly. They hide their pain well. One day they seem fine, then they are at the edge of complete collapse. Frankie didn't tell me how ill he was - in fact, he hid (not easy for a cat of great girth). If I'd not sought Frankie out, I'd never have been able to save him.

Some people are the same. They are in great pain, dying inside from heartbreak. Yet they function fine on the outside. Maybe they even hide.

Do you know anyone like this? Don't let them hide forever. Seek them out before it's too late. You may not cuddle them in your arms and scratch behind their ears (unless that's your thing) like I did Frankie. However, you can find a way to show you care, maybe even take them to the feet of the Lord and Healer.

And if this describes you, hiding pain forever takes you closer and closer to the brink. Please turn around. Run to Jesus. It's not too late.

Who will you reach out to today? How are you handling your own pain?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Diligence in All Things

This is Jim (hi Jim!). Jim is a Great Dane mix pup (yes, PUP!). Remember the story about the dog who licked the toad (not a children's novel, but what a great title that would be)? Well, this is the toad-licker.
As Jim has matured, he's taken an interest in the world outside his home. It's not uncommon for a dog to become more protective of his home and people as they grow as well. Clearly, Jim is showing these qualities (even if he is NOT supposed to be sitting there!).

When I was in my twenties, I regarded my faith in God with an attitude of "done deal." I didn't understand that faith is alive and needs to be nurtured and a relationship that will grow when fostered. The reality of this was brought to the forefront when my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Suddenly, I wondered what faith was for. Turns out, I was not diligent in guarding the importance of my faith. Why bother? Things were fine!

But since I wasn't "keeping watch," I was blindsided and my faith was weak when I needed it. My relationship was one that needed rebuilt and I had to lear A LOT when I could have been receiving comfort without all the battles I was fighting.

It's when we are not ready, have not been diligent, that we often find we're lacking the security we need when trials come. And they will come.

Today, consider where you need to shore up your security system. It's never too late to foster the most important relationship of your life.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gotta Love the Drake

Do you remember the Seinfeld episodes that featured the character The Drake? Can you believe Seinfeld has been off the air for ten years? I still watch the reruns.

That has nothing to do with this gorgeous yellow lab, Drake (hi Drake!).
Drake is now a little over a year old. During his visit to the kennel this past weekend, I noticed how much he's matured. While not mellow, he seems to be taking life a little more seriously these days.

Drake's owners told me he had a couple of surgeries and dropped 20 pounds, refusing food. That must have been a bit of a wake-up call for him.

Life's difficulties has a way of doing that, doesn't it?

While no one wants to welcome disaster of a personal or communal nature, the lessons we can learn are good opportunities for growth. It'd be nice if we could make some of these changes BEFORE tragedy strikes. Yet it seems like things don't always work that way. We're too busy enjoying the good times, taking credit for all our smooth sailing.

One doesn't need to go through life with a frown of concern all the time. The good times should be enjoyed. And when tough times come, make the most of them as well.