Friday, August 31, 2012

Camera Shy

There's a fantastic ice cream place that is a little too close to my home.  A friendly dog patrols the grounds, greeting customers with a friendly tail wag.  He's completely well-behaved and keeps his distance unless invited for a pat on the head or maybe a tiny bit of cone.
The owner said that every time she pulls out her camera, her dog shies away and hides.  And as soon as I snapped this picture with my phone, he eyed me with great suspicion and walked away when I tried to take a second photo.

Dogs hate paparazzi.

While I like attention, I also like my privacy.  It's hard to know where this line is with other people.  When do we share more about ourselves with people we've just met?  When do we respect their privacy?

This is something I try to discern carefully with kennel clients.  There's a fine line between showing friendliness and being nosy.  I try the "are you going somewhere fun?" question and hope the answer is not that they are heading to a funeral. 

Inevitably, I make mistakes.  And you make mistakes.  We must be patient with each other, and suppose that a person doesn't intend to be offensive if they step on our toes a bit.

When I mess up and fear I've offended someone, I ask God to take care of it.  Often there is not much I can do to repair a foolish remark.  God's wisdom and forgiveness, along with his supernatural restoration, are something I value daily!

What about you?  Have you ever sputtered out some comment that you wish you could take back?  Does your dog like its picture taken?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We've Got Company!

Tilly loves company.  She loves company so much she completely destroys a toy in their honor.  Quickly.
Basically, Tilly is a candidate for that Dog Shaming website (and if you haven't seen that - go, right now - or after you finish reading this).

Generally, I'm happy to have company as well.  However, I don't feel the need to rip the newspaper up into little pieces or knock all the furniture over to celebrate their arrival.

Receiving visitors graciously and joyfully is valued in the Bible.  Do you ever wonder why God stresses this, from Old to New Testatment?  Is He trying to let us know that keeping the doors of our homes open to others should also translate to keeping the "doors" of our hearts open to them as well?

I don't know why.  What do you think?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Did You Say Something?

For two and a half weeks, I had the pleasure of caring for B.C. (hi B.C.!).
Oh look - he's saying "hi" back.

I asked if "B.C." stood for "Best Cat."  It stands for "Black Cat."  However, he IS the best cat!

He handled the strangeness of being away from home and surrounded by dogs perfectly - it seemed not to bother him one bit.  When I picked him up, he'd lean into me for a cuddle.  So....darn....sweet!

Studies have shown that black dogs and black cats in shelters are the most often overlooked because they do not stand out in their cages as potential adopters pass by.  Obviously, taking the time to "get to know" these animals would lead to pleasant surprises and wonderfully natured pets.

Who have you overlooked today?  Perhaps you pass someone by because there is nothing noteworthy about them.  Perhaps you yourself feel like you are faded into the background, and no one sees the wonderful qualities you posess.

God sees each as he created them - fearfully and WONDERFULLY made.  Our potential, our actual selves, speak loudly to our Creator God.  It is painful to realize we have not treated someone with the respect they deserve just as it is painful to be overlooked.

Treating others as we ourselves want to be treated is acknowledging the God-bestowed gift others posess, even if their physical presence is something less than spectacular.

Take time today to appreciate the people around you, as well as the wonderful aspects God has given you, including His great Love.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Stubborn is as Stubborn Does. Or Doesn't

Meet Roxie.  Don't be offended that she's not getting up to greet you.  C'mon Roxie.  C'mon!
Roxie's owner told me that if I want her to do anything, I'd need to kick her.  Hmmm...that seemed extreme.  Then I realized he wasn't kidding.  And that really was the only way to get her to move.  I found this out after putting a leash on her and she didn't move, not even with coaxing.  Or dragging.  The only thing that worked was to nudge her firmly with my shoe to her back end.

Now the owner is a kindly person who cares well for his animals.  He just knew this was the only way to motivate Roxie to action.

And it turns out I have something in common with Roxie.  I can be stubborn. Sometimes the only way God has broken through to me was a kick in the pants, so to speak.

What about you?  Can you keep your mind open to more kindness and more love?  To see more people like Jesus does?  Or do you stubbornly maintain the comfort of status quo?

Avoid a kick in the pants.  Follow the One who promises to lead you gently in the direction that is best for you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Many Years

Lucy is old.  Like maybe 13 or 17.  She's so old no one even knows any more.  It's like she's always existed.

Lucy stayed with me for about 5 months a few years ago.  Lucy has lived in Ohio, Florida, Grand Cayman, back to Ohio, and now in Pennsylvania.  World traveller.

Everywhere Lucy has been, she approaches it with stoicism, with occasional trips to hide under the bed and not come back out.

Lucy is still loved, even as she begins to lose her teeth and experience deterioration of her liver. 

It's good to know that the Lord loves us even when we are old, smelly and have slowed.  There's a woman in my local Bible study who said last week, "I'm almost 99 years old and every day there is something new to learn."  This inspired me.  How many of us feel that way at our current age.

Recently I read that younger people have lost their sense of wonder at the world.  As I walked my dogs yesterday and looked at the amazing cloud formations, I couldn't imagine not approaching every day with a sense of wonder and being enlivened enough to learn something new.

Old age, or even any age, is no excuse to rest on our laurels and cruise through life.  There is always something new to learn, whether it is about ourselves, others, or our great and loving God.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Can You See Me Now?

See that tiny little dog?  That's Coco (hi Coco!)

When I put Coco's bedding and bowls into her kennel run, she followed me to see what I was doing.  Then, I closed the gate.  And...she walked right between the wall and gate.

She seemed so proud of herself.

I moved her to a different run that had a smaller gap.

Same thing.

Again, Coco was impressed with her ability to escape.

Finally, I put her in a large wire cage and that is where she stayed.  She was easily one of the smallest dogs who has stayed here.  Yet, she sure seemed oblivious to this.  Fearless among the bigger dogs, Coco acted just like any other dog.  However, it was important to keep tabs on her at all times, because she found that she could slip out of the large outside runs as well.  She couldn't get out-out, but she could get out of her run, and slip into the run of another dog.  Fortunately, she was among friendly dogs, but she needed constant supervision!

Don't we sometimes miss our vulnerabilities, thinking we can run with the big dogs, not realizing that we could be in great danger.

God sees us.  He knows where we are at all times. 

A couple years ago, I visited Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.  As we descended more than a mile under the earth, I had my very first experience with clauterphobia.  Bad timing.  Turning around really wasn't an option.  Neither was freaking out.  Instead, I prayed - earnestly.  Slowly, I calmed down.  The realization hit me that even in the "deep places of the earth," God sees us, cares about us, and wants us to turn to Him.

Perhaps you don't want to be seen.  That doesn't change the fact that God is aware of you.  If you are feeling vulnerable, like no one cares, God is there.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Taking Cover

One cool morning, I came into the kennel to find this:
Bo, all snuggled in for a long summer's nap.

For small dogs, particularly dachshunds and small terriers, this is not uncommon.  Yet it always makes me smile.  It's also nice to know that not all dogs are "morning people."

In unfamiliar territory, a blanket from home offers comfort like nothing else can.  Just like coming back from vacation, there's nothing like sleeping in your own bed.

Sometimes we find comfort in a conversation with a friend or even (ahem) a pint of Ben and Jerry's (may I recommend "Chocolate Therapy?").  When we end our talk and empty the ice cream and the problem persists, then what?  The God of All Comforts is only a prayer away.  During both the horribly difficult times of my life and now when there is a time of "smooth sailing," I'm thankful that God's comfort and peace persists.  Situations change, friends can become unreliable and chocolate has some serious disadvantages.  While these are wonderful things, they can't always penetrate the deep places of our heart - the ones only God can pierce and heal. 

Today, no matter what, seek the comfort of the Lord.  It will feel like a wonderful warm blanket.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

You Get to Choose

Many times, I've been in circumstances that I absolutely found awful. There was no way out, just passing all the way through. (Okay, I'm not sure why this photo came out so tiny - they are not chihuahuas but big mastiff-mixes) Bella and Cosmo were recently here at the kennel (hi Bella! hi Cosmo!). Cosmo breezed through the experience, looking with wonder at the other dogs' antics, enjoying every treat and pat on the head. Bella...not so much. It took her a few days to come around. She showed no interest in me whatsoever (though she did eat the treats) and spent some time sulking. Eventually, she realized I wasn't so bad after all. Since she was here, she might as well make the most of it, even if it wasn't her idea of a good time. Sometimes we can't change our circumstances, no matter how painful they may be. The only thing we can change is our attitude and approach toward it. During the most trying of times, the only way that happens without faking it is to draw on the Lord for his supernatural strength. This morning, I read how Paul the Apostle, the man who used to go around killing anyone who followed Jesus, found himself in prison, facing death. Yet, he ran to the Lord, and was able to say that he could do all things through God's strength, even prison and a death sentence. Today consider what you find trying in your life and your attitude about it. Run to God for a dose of encouragement and a double dose of strength.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cricket, You Can Drive My Car

(only Beatles fans might understand the title) Cricket was here, maintaining order and taking her aggression out on her tennis ball. If Cricket had thumbs, she would have driven home, and managed to stay in the lines the whole way. As a Border Collie, Cricket craves order. And according to her owner, has a deep aversion to shiny things. She is also immaculately obedient. Generally, I like order and can be focused. Lately, however, I've been living just shy of chaos in a messy house and shiny things are always distracting me. Have you noticed how once that pile of papers is finally resolved and the floor is cleaned how much better you feel? I remember that feeling, and I need to get it back! It's easy, way too easy, to put our relationship with God on the back burner. Our spiritual life quickly becomes chaotic, and the tyranny of the immediate is the shiny thing that takes us away from quiet, focused time with God. Let's all be more like Cricket. The way to do that is to run to the Lord.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Objects in Mirror Are Weirder than They Appear

There's just no telling what the truth is in some situations. Those situations include politics, any news media, and even what your next-door neighbor says. How can we know what's true? God is truth. Yet that doesn't mean we're going to understand every great mystery, let alone what news we can trust. However, if we cling to the Lord, study His ways, read about what God determines is true and the best way for us to live, we can pray and receive a better understanding of what IS in our every day world. Otherwise, it would just be weird.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Laugh for Monday

Perhaps you think I've run out of God-given ideas. Perhaps you think I'm just short of time. Or maybe I'm just lazy. These all MIGHT be true but basically, I just thought this was so darn funny that it would be wrong not to share it. Enjoy!

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Fresh Start

Sorry I haven't posted for awhile. But look what's new: Fresh paint on the kennel floor! Rah! Everything looks shiny and new. It's fantastic. And what's even better is a friend donated over eleven hours of his life to transform the space from a tired and sad used building into something fresh and exciting. Yet it is only paint. Paint that will chip and peel in time. In fact, I was just out there and corruption has already set in. Sigh... When God looks at us and sees our trust in Jesus, he doesn't see our sin and corruption - all the dirt and grime has been covered over by the sacrificial blood of God's son. I mean, that's pretty amazing. And humbling. Suddenly we are clean and shiny in God's eyes - free from sin. What's better is that the atonement provided by Jesus never chips away. It's long lasting, into eternity itself.