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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Food and Love

Recently, a family moved to the area and brought their dog, Henry, to stay at the kennel. It was explained to me that Henry is retired. Henry did not earn his retirement through IRA's and careful investing, just by order of being a fantastic dogs for well over a decade.

The instructions for Henry were simple, "food and love."
The love part was easy. Look at that face!
The food part was easy too. Henry's owner packed adequate snacks. (For him, not me).

It's wonderful to require so little. Isn't "food and love" what we all need? Sometimes we confuse the two, but mostly these are the basics to sustain us.

Jesus said he is the bread of life. He also was the embodiment of love. It is good to feed our physical bodies. It is even better to remember to feed our spiritual selves as well.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dangerous Love

It will soon become obvious why there is no picture with this post.

Yesterday, something terrible happened. Driving to the grocery store, I noticed a woman across the road from her house retrieving her mail. Then, I noticed a cute orange cat at her feet, bumping up affectionately to its owner. I hit the brakes. Too late.

I turned the car around and apologized to the owner, who was not nearly as upset as me. She told me that the cat had been unusually clingy to her all day. But the cat had never crossed the road, so she had not given it a thought til she noticed the cat at her feet.

Sometimes all of our dedication and adoring blinds us to good decisions and boundaries. Our infatuations may draw us into hazardous situations, because we've lost good sense.

How do we know the difference? Perhaps the object of our love and adoration holds the answer? Do they have our best interest in mind? Are they looking out for those followers?

In yesterday's situation, the owner didn't wait to cross the road, not thinking of the effect of the devoted cat. With a blind dog, I've had a close call in a similar situation. It was a wake-up call that I have a huge responsibility to those animals (and people) with whom I have relationships. As winter will bring a partially frozen pond, I'll need to be more mindful of my own curious kitten.

God, who adores us, and whom we often adore, has our best interest in mind always. He doesn't forget about us on the other side of the road. If we find ourselves in harm's way, we're never forgotten, even if we are not spared pain. God, who did not spare his own son, will never lead us where he himself has been without a reason that is for our good and his glory, as mysterious and confounding as that can be.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Get Your Crazy On

Perhaps it was the warming temperatures and sunshine after days of rain and cold that made the herb more fragrant and attractive. On Monday, the cats found the catnip patch that was planted last Spring.
This resulted in much rolling around in it, then chasing each other, attacking the dogs, and even a fallen branch. Suddenly, everything was the enemy.

Have you ever noticed how there are people who go through life with their guard up, as if everyone is their enemy? Or have you dealt with someone who is mentally ill and can not process good counsel from a personal attack.

It's heartbreaking, and little can be done. It reminds me that even in my calm, sane moments, I need to be open to what I hear from others, who is giving good counsel, and who is not.

The plum line of scripture is always a good test of counsel from others. Does what someone suggests draw me closer or further from God? Is the course they lie out one that is consistent with the teachings of God, that ultimately are for my good purpose and safety?

Taking the time to think through what we hear and see daily makes a difference in how we process information and ultimately how we live our lives. It is time well spent.

Slow down during this busy time, and think about what is good and right in a world that often is evil and conniving. Somewhere, in the midst of the rush, is a quiet peace that is beyond understanding.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Waiting....

Advent.

The dictionary definition is "the coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important."

For Riley, he eagerly awaits the arrival of someone important, his owner!
At Christmas, we await the Advent of Savior Jesus Christ.

Is our longing of the same intensity of Riley's?

In the muckity muck of our daily lives, we get distracted. When Riley is at the kennel (or in my house), he never stops waiting for his owner.

I'd like to have the Life of Riley.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gee, My Dogs Smell Terrific

Yesterday, I took my dogs to a local groomer. Foster only has been to one once in his life and Tilly - never. However, Foster's coat needed a very intense brushing while Tilly smelled like she rolled in something dead (probably because she did).

It was a big day and they were both exhausted after the experience.
Foster not only looks better, but he also feels better without those awkward clumps of fur all over. You know how you feel with bedhead? Same thing.

Tilly is happy that I invite her to me with more hugs and pats on the head because she is no longer hideous. (I have no comparison for this).

Have you ever felt guilty about something you did? Or maybe you didn't do something you knew you should have done and that feeling nags at you. It's not a great feeling. Have you ever been around someone with whom you've had some awkward conversation or circumstance and the air between you is still not cleared?

When we do wrong things, a barrier is between us and God. A sin that may leave us feeling bad or smelly or filthy is an offense against the Lord. However, we can't get past our sin problem on our own. We all have this problem but there is a solution and that is Jesus, who was sent from Heaven as a tiny, helpless child, born to a disgraced couple, and admired by outcast shepherds. Jesus can look beyond our filth, sin, and social standing, all because of who He is. When we trust Jesus for taking the punishment for our voluntary and involuntary bad behavior, we are made clean again.

When we talk out the awkwardness of a situation with a friend or co-worker, the air is clear and it feels so much better. In the same way, our conversation with God, admitting what we did wrong, that we can do no better, but call on the grace of Jesus, then our faith makes us well, restoring our relationship with God the Father.

Even though we will continue to sin and make mistakes, our forgiveness is secure through Jesus. That's a great gift and one we can embrace with love - sort of like the Christ-child at Christmas and always.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Are Your Friends Making You Better or Bitter?

Have you ever left a group of friends or co-workers and thought, "I feel yucky." Perhaps the time together was spent tearing others down, gossiping, and complaining to the point that the only result is a feeling of superiority, smugness and....ewwww...self-righteousness.

Perhaps it is time to think twice about how much time you spend in the company of others.
I'm extremely fortunate to have a stellar cast of characters I call my friends. When we get together, we simply enjoy each other's company.

Sometimes we lapse into gossip. It's so easy to fall into that snare. Every now and then, we catch ourselves and change topics. Regardless, it doesn't feel good to bad mouth others. My group of friends generally pushes me to become a better person inside and out. I think more, move more and have a lot of fun.

Proverbs tells us that this has been the case for ages - do not lie down with the pigs or you will get up smelling like them. God wants us to think wisely about who we spend our time with and how we spend it. He knows what is best for us - more than we ourselves do.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Time to Bring the Shell Inside

Last week, the first significant snowfall landed. To some this is wondrous while to others it is a dreaded sign of Things to Come.

With the days of seventy degree weather well behind us, it was time for me to bring a gift from a friend(hi Jean!) in for the winter.
Shells are made for the beach, not snow. Even the sight of the dead leaves by it is wrong!

Are we really made for this world?

We long for perfection but there is only one place for it. We hunger and thirst for righteousness but it eludes us in this "climate."

That gives me hope that all the brokenness of this world is temporary. I can put up with that, and even live above despair. Hope is a precious commodity and it comes only from God.

P.S. the frog is coming in too.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Trusting Your Leader

You've met her before, but here she is again - Darcy, the Jack Russell Terrier. She visited the kennel recently and was the only dog for a couple of days. When this happens, I try to give them extra attention. Since there was plenty of post-Thanksgiving cleaning to do, I brought my dogs out to hang out with her while I did that.

After days of high winds and unplesant rain, finally the sun came out. I hitched Darcy up to a leash and took her for a long walk along with my two. She seemed very concerned at first - her tail was down and her ears were back.
"Where am I?" "Where is this crazy lady taking me?"

She kept htis up until we turned around and started back. Her tail was up and wagging. "Ah, now I know the path home."

Have you ever been down an unfamiliar path? Were you filled with concern, even fear? Sometimes we get a glimpse of that path "home" but sometimes we do not.

It's time to trust the leader.

No matter where a path leads us, the Lord guides us with his presence, even when our peace is shattered. We may seem far from home, but with the Lord, we are never that far at all.