Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"That's Not My Name"

Do you have a problem remembering people's names? This Summer (and Spring), I had some remarkably embarrassing episodes of forgetting names, or calling them the wrong name. For weeks. Sigh. Meet Shaggy (hi Shaggy!). Shaggy was a bit scared when he arrived at the kennel. He let me pick him up, but it took him a long time to warm up to me. After a few days of him remaining distant, I crouched down and called him. He stayed in the corner, avoiding me. Then it clicked. When the owners dropped him off, they said goodbye to him using his nickname. Changing tactics, I crouched down again and used the name he associated with the people he loved, "Here Mr. Lickers!" He ran right up to me. We love for people to call us by name. We even like affectionate nicknames (not so much the ones we get from our school days). God calls us by name. First off, isn't that remarkable? I can't even keep a group of ten people's names correct and God's kept us all straight from the beginning of time? It's doubtful God uses those memorization tricks either like "Sally Green Skirt" or "Tall Jim." He knows us so thoroughly. Today revel in the God who made you and knows you, inside and out, good and bad, and with great affection and love.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Taking Over

Meet Louie (hi Louie!). Louie was new to the kennel experience during a recent stay. He went from being uncertain and shy to wanting to take over the place. See that pleading face? Cute, right? Don't be fooled - he wanted to get out and make sure I was doing my job "right," especially the part about his daily quota of treats. Louie was a lot of fun to have here. Part of that is because I am so much like Louie. I'm shy at first, but once I get comfortable, I'm borderline obnoxious ("hey, are you going to eat that?"). However, I often think I know the rules and how things should be done, but in reality, I have no idea. That's why Louie isn't allowed to REALLY run the place. It's also why God doesn't let us have our way all the time. I know, that is really annoying, isn't it? His ways are not our ways, even when we can't see it. Often with life, we have to take many things on faith. We trust the pilot of the airplane to know what he or she is doing. We trust the other drivers on the road will practice proper control. With unseeable God, trust is harder and even seems unreasonable often times. However, sine the world seems put together pretty well with reasonable order and beauty, I'm willing to trust the Lord with the details of my life, even if I'm not happy about the specifics. In the end, some day I know I will that God's ways are better. But I still want to take over.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What Can He Do?

Yesterday I had the priviledge of speaking to a group of children about my experience with dogs and God. First off, I love that phrase, "dogs and God." Second, it was Tilly's first time with a group and she only was slightly embarrassing with her weird noises. And finally, it was good to take Foster because he's done so many group presentations, but this likely was his last. After explaining Foster's blindness and rapidly depleting ability to hear, a snide tweener asked, "well what CAN he do?" The question smacked of questioning Foster's usefulness. Having been a bit of a snarky teen myself, I couldn't fault the kid fully. I answered that Foster still enjoys walks, rides in the car, and eating. Later, I thought about the question and I missed an opportunity to say what Foster can really still do. He can still be my friend. Too often we dismiss a person because they can't do some things or they are very limited. We write them off, not wanting to be inconvenienced. However, God cares about the widows, orphans, and all those who are forgotten and dismissed. If God cares about them, then we need to as well. I don't think it's something that comes to us naturally. It comes supernaturally. We need to pray for God to change our hearts to "break our hearts with what breaks His." Today, look for a way to get out of your comfort zone. Reach out to someone in kindness today. You never know when you might be "entertaining the company of angels."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Got Your Back

Despite the poor quality of this picture, I want you to meet Dozer and Bean (hi Dozer - hi Bean!). Dozer guards tiny Bean diligently. These two dogs are so sweet. When they first got here, Bean laid on his bed in the back of the kennel run. Dozer stood guard at the front, growling at any dog that got too close. Isn't it nice to know someone has your back? If someone is bad mouthing you, they come to your defense. If you need help, they are there. A popular hymn is "A Mighty Fortress," describing God's protection for His children. No protector or defender compares to the Lord. Placing our lives in His hands is a safe bet, no matter what trials and dangers come to us. "When trials come, with them comes Jesus."

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Quiet Life

It's been awhile since I've given an update on Foster, my blind 12-year-old Cattle Dog. In addition to having no sight at all, he's rapidly losing his hearing. I also doubt his sniffing abilities. So much for the other senses kicking in to compensate for the loss of another. Generally, he seems to be in a good mood, eating well, still taking walks, though much shorter than his younger years. Often we long for a quiet life. With so many distractions in our lives, focus often gets lost. However, none of us would want it at the price of losing our sight and hearing. We need "eyes to see" in our world. "Faith comes by hearing." Today be thankful if you've got all or most of your faculties. Don't take the ability to walk across the room for granted. Consider yourself fortunate that you have healthy reasoning abilities and relationships. These are all gifts and sadly many people do not possess them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Play Time - an Essential Element of Life

Here at Good Shepherd Boarding Kennel, it's always a joy to find two or more dogs that enjoy playing together. Kobe and Kody are in the same household, so they like to play. Then, they met Bella, and it was Game On! After they 'take care of business', I let the dogs run up and down the fenced in area, chasing, jumping, barking, etc. When they are done, they return to their inside runs, where they drink a lot of water, then relax in the air conditioning. Here, Kobe demonstrates the classic "let's play" dog pose to Bella. Life can be complicated. During the recent 100 degree heat wave, everything was more difficult. Yet most of us are fortunate enough to only be minorly inconvenienced, even if we experienced losing electricity for several days. For the most part, we can find time to play in our lives. It's important to find fun time with others - whether it's at the community swimming pool, having dinner with friends, or playing cards. God gave us the Sabbath as a gift - a day of rest to enjoy - a day different from others. Remember that play is a gift too. Don't neglect it!

Monday, July 9, 2012

"I Am Not An Animal!"

Any time you can get a picture of a dog in an Elizabethan collar, it's a good day. Here Kody sports an "e-collar" (which has nothing to do with electronic anything) as he had surgery recently. Kody really didn't seem to mind walking around with this thing. He maneuvered in his kennel run just fine, even managing to eat treats without slowing down. However, his arrival in his fancy accessory caused quite a reaction from the fellow kennel residents. Some paused when they walked past Kody. Some growled. Some acted terrified. Others didn't seem to notice. When we see someone who is outwardly very different, we often react, even involuntarily, to the difference. When I was in fourth grade, my grade school merged with a school for physically handicapped children. Being the completely naive and insensitive child that I was, I was weirded out pretty much every day. I did notice, however, that the younger children had no problems with the differences. It's like we have an innate sense of how things ought to be, but then are shaken when things are other than the norm. While it's important to be observant of differences, it's more important to push past our discomfort and come to a place of compassion. God is aware of all our defects, physical, mental, and spiritual. Somehow, in His divine way, He abides with us in love. Kody needed the surgery to stay healthy. The collar ensures he allows the wounds to heal properly. Sure, he looks funny, but it's a necessary inconvenience.

Monday, July 2, 2012

"He's Not My Boyfriend."

When I asked Millie if she liked that handsome dog, Max, she pretended like she was sleeping and didn't know what I was talking about. But I saw the way she looked at him - she thought he was a handsome dog whom she wished to know better. I wasn't fooled by her denial. Sometimes it's embarrassing to admit our true feelings. We're afraid we will look foolish if our feelings are not returned. Maybe others will believe us unworthy of forming such an attachment - that we're out of our league. Then there are the times we don't want to admit we follow Jesus. I mean, does anyone want to quickly get thrown into the camp of being hateful and intolerant if we admit we have faith in God? God first loved us. Each of us. He never will reject our attachment to Him. We can't ever truly be worthy of the love of the Great God of the universe, but He extends Grace to us, through His son, and through Him we become worthy. Yet, we panic. We distance ourselves from stereotypes. We don't want to be rejected by others, even though God will not reject us. God understands that. Peter no sooner finished telling Jesus how he'd never deny him when he was scared by a teen age girl and said he didn't know Jesus. He even tried to look cool by throwing a few swear words in to the conversation. We fail. We fail others, we fail ourselves. Do we fail God? Or does he know we are imperfect, and doesn't view it as failure at all? Run back to Him. Don't quit. Don't be afraid. Don't even be ashamed. With Him, there is no condemnation.