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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why I Don't Care What the Cashier Says

Warning: rant alert

If you want to read something nice and sweet, skip on down to that cute picture of Frankie with the Captain. I'm in a mood.

Or maybe it's a snit. I can never tell.
What set me off was a commercial on the radio advertising their personal hygiene products, encouraging us consumers to buy them for ourselves because "that's what the season is all about."

In other words, "Christmas is about making yourself happy through such things as scented body wash."

Lots of Christians get all in a froth because some stores don't use the word "Christmas" in their advertising and the cashier doesn't say, "Merry Christmas." Some even cite how Christians spend millions and that alone should merit the saying.

Wait, isn't THAT the problem? I'm not against gifts, but what percentage of that millions is to give goods to charity? Is it even ten percent?

Being a person who appreciates efficiency, "Happy Holidays" saves words and ink in my book. Is it cause to be offended? Not to me. It's not like they even mean "Thank you" so why do we care what kind of farewell we get?

What offends me deeply is celebrating Christmas with a "I-deserve-body-wash" mentality. THAT is not the reason for the season. Wouldn't showing Jesus to others mean fighting this mentality and not how a cashier hands you your receipt?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Friend to the Friendless

Below is Frank, happily resting next to his friend, Captain.
Even though the Captain is young and often torments Frank, Frank still abides with him. None of the other cats like Captain, but Frank is longsuffering.
(sorry the pictures are dark - it's been days of rain here)
Here Frank lays next to a sleeping Foster. Foster, being blind, sometimes nips Frank when Frank gently bumps his head on Foster's chin affectionately. Yet Frank is forgiving.

Recently I was discussing friendships with someone. We both read articles about women who organized "adult play groups" in which the groups of women do something like make pottery or wine-making, etc. This is all fine and good.

However, it made me think about recent get togethers with friends. What do we do? We talk, have a glass of wine, some good food, and tell story after story and we laugh. We laugh a lot. There's nothing burdensome about the time together. There's no agenda. We don't need any distractions except to enjoy the company of the others.

Friendship is at a premium these days. While this is not a "back in the old days" rant, play groups for grown-ups and the internet community lacks something that we all need - intimacy with other humans, face to face.

Is it easy? No. Are we all perfect? Do we sometimes get on each other's nerves with our personalities? Of course. That's where Frank's model of long-suffering and forgiveness comes in to play. After all, these virtues are what Christ modeled for us. In every case, Jesus strove to restore people to community and ultimately to himself.

Choose to do something difficult today.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blind to What is in Front of Us

Foster is now completely blind. He doesn't stumble but he sure trips over things and runs smack dab into obstacles he previously cleared.

Then there's Tilly who likes to adjust the stuffed toys to look like Foster.
Blindness in the Bible is often a metaphor for sin. We can't see that what we are doing is wrong. (This should not be confused with the people who are/were blind did something wrong-no such thing!) And isn't it true that we are very blind to our faults? They are crystal clear in others but we can't see our own.

To those people who don't believe in the power of prayer, just pray that God reveals your faults to you and He'll answer you. But graciously, He will not tell you everything at once. Phew!

Do we really WANT to know what we are doing wrong? It's a lot to face - it's embarrasing. And, it may mean we need to....change....No one wants that!

Even if we don't realize it, obstacles are causing us to trip or stumble. We need help! First, ask for the desire to change, then ask what it is that God wants you to change right now. It is a blessing to have "eyes that see."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Pets Gross Me Out

Perhaps it's because I have so many that the odds of dogs and cats behaving repulsively is just higher. Perhaps it's because my animals are weird. Most likely, it's because dogs and cats are animals and do weird animal stuff that people find "difficult."

Kittens are cute and cuddly, right?

Unless they are playing with a dead mouse.
Yep, the Captain is growing up. It took forever to get this picture just because he kept tossing it in the air and then running off with it, growling in a kitten-fierce way.

Later, I walked outside with the dogs and Franklin and Captain were staring at it. That is until Tilly dashed over to inspect their object of interest. Then immediately gulped it down.

Yiiiick....

This after four days of Tilly being "grounded" because of the undesirable after effects of her finding "cat goodies" in the garden and about the yard.

What's a girl to do?

It's entirely possible and likely that I do things that are repulsive to other people. I mean, it's hard to believe but I bet it's true. More than that, there are plenty of thoughts and deeds that are the type of thing that God probably thinks are really a bad idea. In his perfect holiness, they are heinous.

Yet, He calls me his own. It's hard to believe. It's humbling, yet I am grateful for His Amazing Grace in Jesus.

Perhaps that's what I need to remember the next time I hear a hairball in progress while trying to eat my healthy salad.

Next time you're offended, remember your own offenses, plea for grace, and extend it again.

What's the grossest thing your pet has done? Wait, maybe I don't want the answer to that.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Big Bag of Mysteries

My friend Liz and I have a competition every Fall to see how many bags of leaves we can pilfer from people who actually rake their lawns and put the leaves in bags. We don't rake our own lawns. Sometimes we mow over the leaves. Yet leaves make for great mulch for our gardens. At the last count, I got 12 bags of leaves and Liz had, well, more.

Every now and then when I'm driving I'll see a big black puffy garbage bag and wonder if it contains leaves. I don't stop to look though.
Seems I'm not the only one who is curious about bags of leaves.

Hey Dooley, what do you think?

One of the fascinating things about living on earth is that there is always something new to learn and something wondrous to appreciate. While I'm not a big fan of winter, I am intrigued how the leaves fall, break down under the cover of winter snow, and supply nutrients for my spring garden vegetables. In the bleakest, coldest winter days, there seems to be no hope that it will ever be warm again or that I'll ever taste the perfect summer tomato. Then, a green strand of crocus will peak from the soil.

Sometimes it seems God is never going to show His power and saving grace. Times can be extremely bleak. Sometimes we only get a glimpse of hope, but that is enough.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dog in Da Hood

Look - it's Tilly. In a hoodie.
I adopted Tilly from a local humane society four years ago. Oh how time flies. Her unusual markings and friendly nature are what made her stand out when I saw her on Petfinder. Plus, her name was "Pumpkin" there. Foster didn't hate her so that seemed like a plus. Giving it a few days to think it over, I went back and adopted her.

She's as sweet of a dog as I could want. She's also a lot more stubborn and willfull than I could want. She drives me crazy yet she still loves me. Foster would rather not have her around but she daily interacts with him with as much enthusiasm as I have for a double scoop of chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

Now that's love.

How eagerly God longs to adopt each of us as His own. We only need to turn to Him and he can't wait to take us home. Even if we're idiots, He puts up with us, even embracing those parts of us that are most strange.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Life of Riley

This is Riley (hi Riley!). Riley belongs to a friend of mine and has special "house privileges." Still, he misses home.
Isn't that pathetic? Or is it?
What a difference a belly rub makes? Suddenly, Riley is my slave... Honestly, I'm not much different. I've spent plenty of time "looking out the window" wishing things were different than how they have been. Easily I can make myself miserable with such musings. Sometimes a change of attitude is as simple as looking at who is next to me, sometimes right there on the couch, to see that life as it is can be quite enjoyable as well. Perhaps it's not my ideal, but is far from a misery. Today don't turn your anger on God, wishing He'd change your circumstances. Instead, think of the many good things God has allowed into your life, even as you pine for home.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Is That Pasture Over There Really Greener?

(Please excuse the lack of paragraphs - I'm not sure what is wrong with this blog account-boo!) Tilly makes me crazy more often than not. She forages for hidden cat "treasures" in every nook and cranny of the yard, she occassionally visits the neighbor cows to see what they are doing and spy on her dog boyfriend "Tucker," she will NOT stop jumping on people and most recently she peed on a visitor's shoe. Charming.
One thing I know is that she wouldn't be better off somewhere else. No one would put up with her. Yet sometimes we think there's that perfect home just waiting for a pet that maybe we can't quite accommodate. What I've learned from kenneling and dog resuce work is that pets are very forgiving. If you can't walk your dog as much as you'd like, the dog will still love you. If the dog sprints merrily away when accidentally off leash and you think maybe she needs a home in the country, it really means the dog is enjoying a sprint. As an owner of "dogs in the country" I can tell you that dogs that randomly roam and sprint is a rarity. Most dogs will stay on the porch waiting for their devoted owner to come out. In other words, they can thrive on our neglect. Granted, that's not always the case and by neglect, I do not mean depravation of food, water and shelter. I mean the dog is not getting the "perks" we think they want. Sure, they want them. But they want you more. It's so easy to be distracted by our daily lives and demands. Passing interest often means a passing by of our daily time with God. Yet God is forgiving. As much as He longs for a relationship with us, He abides, even in the face of our neglecting time with Him. Amazingly, He puts up with our bad attitudes as well. It is not what He desires for us, but His persevering love calls out to us daily. That's why I'm putting on my shoes to take Tilly for a walk (and Foster too).