Sunday, December 29, 2013

Maybe You're Small, but You're Not Insignificant

If you watch pop culture, you get the idea that to be "anybody" you need to be blogging, tweeting, and have scads of people you don't know following you on every social media site existing.

I don't know about you, but that is just exhausting.  As you can tell, my erratic blogging reflects how hard it is to do just one simple post (and expect less next week while I'm off on a wild adventure).

We make a terrible mistake if we believe that we live small lives.  That if we don't participate in glamorous activities and know the 'right' people we are nobodies.  Letting others dictate our place in the world is a huge mistake.  Society lies.
Check out Oliver and Mookie up there.  They are two tiny dogs.  In fact, they can fit between the gate and wall of the regular kennel runs (surprise!) and have to stay in their "loft apartments" instead.  They may be small, but to their owners, they are an absolute delight, a best friend, and a faithful companion.
Next time you are tempted to strive for that which is insatiable, consider the place God has given you in this World.  Maybe you think it should be grander, but you are important to God, no matter your status, job, or friends.  You are enough because that's why he sent Jesus.  For you.
Happy 2014!

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Old Softy

Soon, Kody will be heading to his new home in Texas.  Yet he loves the snow and has had ample opportunities to enjoy it, including this fabulous new stick he found.
Kody is a softy.  Everyone he meets him finds him to be a sweet and gentle guy.  His good friend Kobe is wonderful, but there is nothing soft about him.  Kody.....Kody is soft.
This morning I heard about a woman who is blogging throughout her serious prognosis.  She's said that when she feels hard, she must make herself soft so that she can feel God's love.  Of course she wrote lots of other profound words, but that concept stuck with me.
"Soft" is not a word that people would use to describe me.  I tend to sail through life, often unaware that I may be walking over someone else, but unintentionally.  I could do with some softness in my life.  Not only is adopting a softer demeanor a way to soften towards the Lord, it is also a way to convey God's love to other people.  Confidence is good, but when I let it turn into a steam roller, there is nothing attractive about that.  The danger of being hard is ever present.  Asking for God's gentle spirit to invade my soul would be a wonderful gift for me and others.
Are you soft?  Or are you the victim of those who are not soft? 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Whose Got Your Back?

Here's Captain, the great tree climber.

This morning on the radio, the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge was discussed.  One of the ways deaths were prevented was by a large net that was hung to catch any workers who may fall.  Not only did it catch the man falling, it also allowed the laborers to work more efficiently because they knew a net was below them for security.

There's a certain amount of confidence we each have when we know someone in the world has our back.  We fall, but we get up, and often the dusting off is done by a friend. 

The Lord, who walks with us through the good and anguishing parts of life, not only picks us up when we fall, but redeems the brokenness for something great in God's economy.

When this is fully embraced, we can work with confidence in every part of our lives.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Because I Get A Treat!"

Young children ask "why" to learn about the world.  But not every parent can adequately explain sophisticated reasoning to a simple minded child.

We ask why of God.  We don't get explanations, and the ones we may discern are at best a fraction of the truth.

Dogs don't ask why.  Never.  When we teach them obedience, they obey.  Why?  Because they get a treat.
Perhaps a dog hesitates, but they don't question.  We hesitate.  We question.  Often, we refuse to obey or even believe if we can't understand 100% of the reasoning or proof.

Dogs keep things simple.  They look around their world, see their food, water, box of toys, and warm home and know they are blessed.  If the Master wants something, they know there is a reward in unquestioned obedience.

Fortunately for us, God allows our questions, doubts, fears, and objections.  Yet still He desires our belief, trust, and obedience.  While we don't obey for blessings, we obey for who God is and what He's done by sending Jesus to us, allowing us to be forgiven and perfect in the eyes of the Lord when we believe.  The rewards, though, are amazing, wonderful and eternal.

I don't know about you, but that sounds better than a liver treat any day.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Are We There Yet?

Tilly loves car rides.  When I begin my "leaving the house" routine, of which she knows well, she begins darting from door to door, anticipating where I will make my exit, and most importantly, if I will include her.

If she gets the nod, she joyously bolts out the door, grabs her blue ball and races around the car until I open the door for her.

From there on out, my rearview mirror looks like this:
The trip is fascinating to her.  The bank.  The grocery.  What she's really hoping for is a walk around the "Green Monster." 
For years, I prided myself on not being too busy.  I could enjoy simple things.  While I enjoy the things occupying my life now, I'd like to slow down a bit.  I want to enjoy every day instead of pushing for Friday.
"Are We There Yet" automatically discounts our steps along the way.  Jesus asks us to trust him for the next step, along with the whole journey.  It shouldn't be that hard.
Advent is about waiting.  It's about anticipating what excitement is to come.  Yet we need to enjoy the days when we wait for redemption with peace and joy.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Comfort of a Friend

Yesterday, Franklin (the large black and white cat) jumped in a cardboard box I had upstairs and acted as if he was going to use it as a litter box.  I shooed him out of there and started making a fire in the wood burner.  Frank jumped in there, again acting like he was going to pee.  Dragging him out of there was pretty interesting as he was covered in soot.  Just when I worried he was blocked (past UTI issues), he went into the basement and had a successful litter box experience (phew!).

Later, I found him and Carbon like this:
Sometimes you just need someone to come alongside you and be there.  Words aren't necessary.

If we believe that Jesus is indeed the Good Shepherd, then we remember that He walks beside us in all the hard times, not sparing us the hard times, but present in them.  Today, keep the spirit of Thanksgiving and thank God for His comfort and companionship.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Getting the Stuffing Beat Out of Us

Here's what Thanksgiving stuffing looks like at our house:
Her favorite toy is no more.  When she got it (from a garage sale for $2 - bargain!) during Labor Day weekend, it looked like this:
On the Monday after a holiday weekend, which caterpillar can you relate to?  Full and complete, or ripped to shreds?

It's hard to regroup when we feel like our guts are hanging out.  Focus, energy, and a good attitude seem elusive when we are beat down.  Isn't it interesting how our resolve and determination to be positive dissolves in an instant?

What is the answer?  You can try all the self-talk and writing down quotes for motivation that you want.  If that works for you, well great.  For me, I try to remember to run to the Lord and admit defeat.  Generally my rather surly mood needs a better adjustment and focusing on who God is - unchanging, ever present, and eternally redemptive.

We are fortunate to live in a culture where nearly all our problems and disruptions are "first world problems."  Today look at the big picture.  If you seem awfully small in that world, it's because you are.  But God is the "one who sees me" no matter how small we are.  In His economy, we are far from insignificant.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Show of hands (or paws) - who has the life they always thought they'd have?
Have all your dreams come true?  If so, good for you (maybe).

Recently I was with a group that talked about the devastating experiences they had in their lives.  While they were not happy about what happened that derailed them from "their plan", they appreciated what God had done in their lives, despite the pain, the doubt, the anger, the bitterness.  Restoration can be a wondrous thing.

Little Oliver Twist, the kitten in the plantar in the picture, was dumped off at my house about a year ago.  While I doubt a six week old kitten has expectations of what its life may be like, being abandoned and cold wouldn't be the preference for any.  However, Oliver ("Ollie") is now in a home where he is deeply loved.  And it hasn't been just a happy tail/tale for him either.  His owner had lost a spouse months before Ollie needed a home.  Guess who is happy to have a loving, purring kitten by her side?

It makes no logical sense to be grateful for the thorns of life, but redemption for our pain is possible.  It may be a bumpy ride to get through the emotions, to learn to trust an invisible God, but it's so worth it to find out an invisible concept is the Real Presence.

What are you grateful for in your life?  Have things gone wrong for you lately?  Sometimes it is hard to be thankful and God understands that.  Refocusing our perspective is step one.  It is why Jesus said, "Come to me" - indeed, He knows our thorns intimately.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Winning Them Over

Remember the little dog I told you about last week that shunned all my friendliness?  It only took eight days, but he finally wags his tail at me.  How did it happen?  Walks.  Nice long walks with the other dogs. 
He trusted them, he trusted me. 

Isn't that the way with people who've had terrible experiences with God's people?  If a person constantly feels judged and unloved, then they stay away.  The other extreme of feeling smothered with false love drives people away as well.  But when a person encounters a person who loves the way God loves, suddenly they are interested.

When I sat down in the kennel run with this dog, he avoided me and shook.  My presence brought him no comfort, just more stress.  Until he learned to enjoy the other dogs, he couldn't enjoy me.  But now he wags his tail and comes willingly to me.

Sometimes I want to stay far from God's people.  But then I remember I'm just like them - broken and imperfect.  Most of all, God is perfection and despite all the "false advertising" we, His people, often do, God's love is compelling.

Be loved and express love today.  Not necessarily in a mushy, stupid way, but in that way that is genuine and patient.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rescue Me

First, since it's Veterans Day, thank you to all who have put their life on the line to protect our country.  Not enough can be said or done to acknowledge the sacrifice and risk men and women of many generations have made.

While I like to think that every dog warms to me the way I warm to them, the reality is some dogs want nothing to do with me.  They don't know me and they are not interested in knowing me.  As an introvert, I get that.  I'm not eager to race out and meet new people.

This is Darcy (hi Darcy!).  It took a while for Darcy to decide I was okay.

However, over the course of the time I care for that dog, eventually they decide I'm not all bad after all.  Recently a dog has been coming for days only.  He's not warmed to me one bit.  He politely tolerates me, but each day when his owner returns, his tail wags in happy relief.

After wondering what it would take to win this pup over, I realized that every day he is rescued.  He doesn't have to tough things out.  He doesn't have to rely on me.  No trust is built between us.

Aren't we the same way?  We want to be rescued from pain, instead of considering the valuable lessons we may learn from enduring it.  We want to rescue others so they will be spared pain.  Sometimes that's a very good thing, but sometimes a person must endure the full consequence of their decisions.

God is not inactive in our life.  While He desires us to turn to him in our pain, that doesn't mean He will rescue us from enduring it.  When we go through tough times with God, we learn to trust Him.  Then the next time, we see that God is indeed good and loving.  We can see that God is really not so bad after all.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Too Busy

For years I've proudly responded to the question, "Are you keeping busy?" with "I try not to be busy."  Yes, I said it with much self-righteousness as I observed people sucked into the "busy" lifestyle and boasting about it.

But now, I find that I am the one too busy - sucked in by my to do list.  I know I need to stop and smell the roses, but.....
Enough.  It's time to carve out some time to focus on how to manage my time, and not let it mange me anymore.  Having dealt with exhaustion before, I know the signs and with a cold trying to take me down, I know I'm close.

Jesus said his burden is easy and yoke is light.  I think I'm going to have to spend some time asking him to take these burdens.  He said he would.  How about I act like I believe him?

How about you?  How do you manage your time?  What is the biggest thing that takes your time that you could eliminate?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Desk Dweller

Here's Carbon, "helping me" write.
What is it about books and writing that attracts the feline?  Every morning, one of my cats decides to lay on the paper?  In general, these are not helpful gestures.

Sometimes I worry that I am not very helpful either.  I know, it's hard to imagine when in every other way I'm completely fabulous and practically perfect (cough).  But I am aware that I'm not always "aware" of others' sensitivities.  I try, but sometimes I just plow right over a more sensitive soul.

Love covers a multitude of sins.  What does this mean?  Choosing love, believing the best of others, can help us look past our more abrasive brothers and sisters. 

Meanwhile, I'll continue to work on it.  I'll pray the Lord helps me with compassion and love.  Because I sure can't do it on my own!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Plays Well With Others

Just recently, the dogs have been going to the local dog park.  It's a good half hour drive, which is long with panting, whining, excited dogs.  On the way home, though, it's much faster as they are tired.
At the dog park, all sizes, shapes and ages of dogs sniff, run, and play.  Every now and then, hackles are raised and owners step in to remind them to back off and be nice.

Community is hard.  Really hard.  There is so much disagreement in our culture sometimes it seems there are few topics one can safely discuss without ruffling each other's "fur."  We are tempted to avoid people rather than weather those difficulties, focusing instead on what we have in common, and choosing kindness over disagreement. 

With a tendency to be grumpy, I need God to step in and remind me to play nice with others.  It's not always easy to meet new people and get to know others.  However, it is worth the effort, even if it feels a bit bumpy along the way.  Being successful socializing leaves me happy.

Over and over again God calls us to "love one another."  As our Creator, He knows that we NEED other people, even when it's difficult, to be happy in life.

Today grab your dog and go out to meet others.  You and your dog will be glad you did.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Leader of the Pack

(cue music:  "Vroom...vroom!")

Boston Terriers.  They are small, but they don't that.  There is one I watched for a long week recently.  She has been here before, but usually just for a day or two and generally acts a bit afraid and cautious.

As time passed, she got more and more comfortable with the other dogs (who were there for the same length of time).  She went from being afraid of them, to mingling freely, to playing with them.  When a new dog came to the kennel, she decided to protect her new pack by attacking the newcomer.
From timid to in charge.  From twelve pounds to bossing around 150 pounds of dogs.

It's always good to see a dog adjust.  It's stunning to watch them take over.  That's when I need to step in.

However, if I'm honest, I'm the same way.  When I first meet others, I am rather shy, taking the dynamics of all the people in.  When I'm comfortable, I turn into a talker.  And if I'm not careful, I may try to take over. 

For those who come to faith in God later in life, they may be shy about approaching the Lord in prayer.  Certainly our Loving Father wants us to come and be comfortable in His presence.  The danger is getting so comfortable with God's love that we forget His holiness.  Sometimes we think we get to tell others who God will love and who He will not love.  We've overstepped our bounds, like a rabid Boston Terrier.  Often God will step in and remind us that we most certainly are not in charge of His pack.

Today take inventory of where you are with the Lord.  Run to His Loving arms.  But don't get so comfortable that you think God's arms are crossed, barring others.  I need to pray often to keep my heart soft, for compassion, not rules, to be greater in my heart.  Let's all try to live there.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Caring for the Aging Canine

I've said it before.  I love old dogs.  Puppies are cute, but I prefer the charm of the dignified older dog.
Bugs, above, was here this weekend.  I've watched him since he was first adopted.  He came from a neglected background, and he didn't always know how to behave when he was first here.  However, he matured into a really great dog.  Now, he's thirteen and has significant health problems.

People want to hold onto their dogs for as long as they can.  Perhaps tending their particular issues is bothersome, but still we persist.

As we age and mature ourselves, we remember that God tends us with love and care, easily negotiating the tough times we have and all of our ailments.  All the tough things we weather are perfectly simple to the Great God. 

Let's celebrate age, wisdom, and God's perfect love.

Monday, October 14, 2013

An Uneasy Diagnosis

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month (in case you wonder what all the pink is about), many women (and men) share their stories of being diagnosed with cancer.  Having two friends get diagnosed within the same week eight years ago, I remember it only from a secondary fright and concern.  Fortunately, both are not just alive but thriving, even after both had a second bout with this terrible illness.

Our lives are not in our own hands, and our failure to control what we wish to control is a constant frustration.  When our very bodies betray us, we are brought to our knees.  And while God is not a child abuser, He desires us to seek him out (and if you're on your knees, that's  great place to start) in sickness and in health.

Last Friday I had great plans to blog about a funny story of something that happened in the kennel years ago.  Then, Tilly decided to have a seizure that lasted several minutes.  I managed to get her outside, where she had a second one.  I called the vet's office and they to bring her in.  I carefully scooped her up and made the three minute trip.
She jumped out of the car, just fine, tail wagging.  Since we were there, they decided to check her out.  Then, she had a third seizure, which prompted a shot of valium to make it stop.  Now, with a diagnosis of epilepsy, Tilly is on twice a day medication.

Now I won't compare a person with breast cancer with a dog with epilepsy in terms of equal gravity.  However, both instances remind us that life can turn on a dime from every day expectation to a complete change.  In every case - in every mountain and valley - God is there.  We need to run to Him.  There, God provides comfort, guidance, and sometimes simply presence, with no explanation.  And God's presence is an essential thing, no matter what.

Monday, October 7, 2013

When No One Is Watching

Over the years, people have told me sad stories about how their dogs were treated at other kennels.  While I in no way endorse what may have been done, I do understand that dogs can truly test a person's patience.  And dogs can't report abuse or neglect, sadly.

Good Shepherd Boarding Kennel has one very large window.  From the day we opened, I've functioned with the idea that anyone at any time could be looking in and watching how I care for these loved pets.  I'm certainly not perfect and if someone had been watching the day I had to leap and body tackle a large, gleefully romping free spirit, they would likely have laughed rather than been horrified.

Last night I had a reminder of always watching my tongue and my behavior.  Somehow I missed a client pulling into the parking area while I was in the kennel.  I walked back to the house and Tilly was, as she often does, lollygagging.  I called for her and she finally came.

After getting comfy on the couch to watch tv, a figure appeared at the door.  Yes, it was my client to get his dog. OOOPS!

But it was a good reminder.  Someone may be watching me, or hearing me shrieking at my own dog.  However, God always hears and sees me, and more than that, He knows my heart.  That is reminder enough to ask for His strength to love and nurture those in my care.

What about you?  What tries your patience more than others?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Battling Bitterness

Sometimes when you have a disruption in your day/week/life, a very simple thing can remind you that life is bigger than your problem.
It's Fun Friday!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Dangers of Low Usage

Sometimes when we don't use something for its intended purpose, it starts to fall apart.  Or, in the case above, the original use - feeding birds - disappears and in its place the opposite may happen - feeding ON birds.

An older pick up truck I had kept having expensive repairs made to it.  It wasn't done because of the truck itself, but because it wasn't being used for its purpose.  In other words, I wasn't driving it enough, so the tires rotted, mice ate the wires, etc.

Recently, a small out building had to have major work done to it due to a bug problem.  If the building was used more, then the bugs would not have taken up residence.

You've heard "use it or lose it."  Do you think God ever looks at us, his created beings, and wonders if we're just going to rust and fall apart if we don't live for the reasons he gave us life in the first place?

If every day we don't acknowledge our loving Creator and think of our greater purpose in life, might we be attacked by the bugs of busy-ness?  We need to keep our houses in order and most of all we need to use them for God's glory.  It is not a difficult task, but it is a daily one.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Awkward Communication

This is Ellie (hi Ellie!).  She's going home soon.
Ellie is a delightful dog who, despite diabetes and losing her vision, has a lot of heart and drive. 

For me, Ellie provides a special challenge and I do not mean her twice daily insulin shots.  She shares the same name as my mother.  This makes calling her seem very peculiar.  While I do not call my mother by her first name, I am not at all used to hearing her name followed by "Sit" or "Here's a treat."

Sometimes our communications with each other can be just as confusing.  We don't always find our traction in conversation and things seem awkward and uncomfortable.

It's always good to know that Jesus is the most amazing interpreter of all.  Not only does he understand every language and dialect, he understands the intentions of our heart, even more than we even do. 

Have you ever been misunderstood?  Rest assured that Jesus always understands us.  And with all that, He even loves us deeply.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Count It All Joy

Complaining is easy, especially when you're provided with plenty of material all day long. 

However, now that the chaos of summer is over at the kennel, I've been able to enjoy life again.  With that, I'm realizing - again - how very blessed I am.

While chronically late clients aggravate me as I wait to eat breakfast until their arrival and dogs who can't seem to remember their housebreaking wear me out, now I'm focusing on the beauty of what I do, and the 80% of clients and dogs that make life a blessing.

There's the older man who stopped at home to pick some tomatoes for me before picking up his cat.  The couple that always bring me chocolate (I try not to play favorites, but c'mon, chocolate!).  Or the best, the person who says they didn't worry about their pet and enjoyed their trip instead.
Look at this guy.  He's been with me on extended stay due to unforeseen circumstances.  Yet he's obviously pretty happy.

Where's your focus?  Remember to shift away from the negative now and then, and instead choose thank the Lord and sing His praise.  Even in the most trying of circumstances, God is with us.  Immanuel.

And to celebrate a major accomplishment of a good friend of mine, I'd like to recommend you check out her newly published book. It's fantastic!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Not Fitting In

"Tilly, you're way too big to sleep in that basket lid," her owner said.
With a final twist of her frame, Tilly responded with, "Am not."
Sometimes we put up with a lot of discomfort because we insist we belong some where we truly do not.  Perhaps it is a group of people with radically different values or even just a vacation locale that is a bit more "something" than suits you. 

But we humans want to fit in.  Or, we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  So we continue in our discomfort, jamming ourselves into situations that just don't suit us.

Being a Christ follower can be awkward in certain social situations.  And it seems that is getting more and more difficult.  But that doesn't mean we give up whose we are.  We can disagree without being disagreeable.  We can speak truth in love and compassion. 

How do we discern?  Only prayer can help us find the right place at the right time for each of us individually.  The Lord uses our different interests and skills to reach those who need to know God's love.  Sometimes we stay, sometimes it is time to go.    Ask God to show you the best fit for your life.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Following Another Gospel

Lately, Tilly has been doing a lot of bad things.  Each time I've come home this week, she's been into mischief.  And it's made me furious.

But the truth is, I haven't kicked her out of the house.  For some reason, I still love her.

The truth is....when YOU screw up, God still wants you to turn to Him.  No matter what.  No sin is beyond forgiveness when you turn to the Lord in true sorrow.

Yet there are some who will tell you differently.  If you don't follow a certain number of rules, then you won't be forgiven.  If you don't join a certain church, you can't get to Heaven.  Etc.  Etc. Etc.

The truth is...when you run to Jesus, His arms are still open to accept you, hug you, and say, "come home."

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sadie's Near Death Experience

At her advanced age, a serious illness could be fatal.  Somehow dogs do not realize this.  So when Sadie decided she really really wanted to indulge in the rancid grease drippings from the grill, she didn't understand how sick she'd become.
Timing is everything.  It happened shortly before the family was due to leave for vacation.  However, after almost losing her, careful vet care revived her and she's back in fine form.  She arrived at the kennel with a full regiment of medications.  Being the wonderful dog that she is, she was a good patient.  She received plenty of love to restore her health.

Isn't it hard to say no to the wonderful temptations that are all around us?  We want to indulge, not knowing how rancid and sickening a poor substitute for God really is. 

We strive, we fail, but we revive under God's incredible grace, forgiveness, and love.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Lost Was Once

Recently while visiting relatives, this caught my eye:
Decades ago, one of my cousins came upon a dog and he asked the dog, "Are you lost?"  The dog wagged his tail.  His name was now Lost, though he was actually found.  Lost was a great dog.  He was friendly, and would howl identically whatever howling you did first.  Great sing a long dog there.  When I saw the statue, it made me smile.

We all stumble through our lives, climbing up mountains, looking around briefly before struggling through valleys.  Life can be challenging and difficult.  But it can be wonderful as well, and then we wonder what to do with our sense of awe.

Grieving or cheering, we are Lost without the Lord.  It all makes sense through Him, and whatever doesn't make sense (there certainly is that), the Lord's hand can be trusted.  Today, if you hear God calling and asking if you are Lost, nod your head, wag your tail, do what it takes to run to Him.  A better life awaits.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Finding Joy

Sometimes life is so complicated and we can't simplify it as easily as we'd like.  Still, if we seek it, we can find peace.  And if we seek peace, we can find joy.

For instance, a mere $2 garage sale find has provided Tilly endless delight.
"Peace that passes all understanding" is what the Lord gives us when we seek and believe Him.  Perhaps our circumstances won't change, but our hearts will warm and our minds will calm when we run to Almighty, Mysterious God.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Don't Work Too Hard

What's the line between diligence and sloth?  Balance.

This Labor day weekend, don't forget to celebrate the joy that can be work, given the proper perspective.  The Lord gave Adam the gift of working in the garden - a good occupation that provided structure and meaning to his waking hours.  Yet a planned day of rest was also a gift.

Don't forget - be thankful for your work, whatever it is, and be thankful for rest.  And don't forget to get some play time in too!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Rest Up

It's the weekend.  As most people experience the end of Summer blues and the increased pace of back-to-school, things at the kennel are slowing down.

And even though this means less income, it means much needed rest.  The blog may be quiet for a week or so, but that's okay - I know you're busy! 

Don't forget to rest - God gave us a day off - make sure you take it!  If the God of the universe can rest without the world falling apart - so can you.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Some dogs have special situations when they come to the kennel.  Bugs is one of them.
Due to some very delicate surgery on his hip, he needs to be kept very still.  Considering he's used to being very active, this is difficult.  He also lives with another very active dog, so it's hard for both of them not to run and play.

Sometimes life sidelines us from what we truly want to do.  Often, it is God's own hand that sets us to the side.  While we can only understand our limitations, God understands the deep wounds that need healing.

Today when you are feeling the burden of your grounding, remember that there is a reason for those boundaries.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Caring about the Sparrows

I'm still sad about it.

There was a family of wrens who made an unfortunate choice to nest on my front porch.

They survived the constant attention of cats.  For the last two weeks, they've been feeding their young.  Then the windows guys showed up.  They made a LOT of noise.

The wrens haven't been back. 

"God cares about the sparrow."  This is my only solace.  I didn't want those darn birds there in the first place and look what happened - heart break.  But God cares.  It's hard to care when you know there will be a bad ending.  It's hard to care when there's a good one.  But we are supposed to care because God cares.

Lord, help me to keep caring when I don't want to have my heart break.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Car Full of Crazy

While my dear friend attempts to sell one home and buy another, I've had her dogs for an extended amount of time.  They are faring well, but I don't want them to get too bored.  Every now and then, our daily walks end up being car destinations to exotic locations ten minutes away.  However, it is really quite an ordeal.
In fact, it's a bit of a scene.  Three dogs in a car.  Three dogs out of the car.  Me wrangling them to some order to move forward for two plus miles.

It's worth it.  Another reminder that we need each other - for conversation or presence.  Either way, it can't be done alone.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Behaving Under Stress

When dogs come to the kennel, I don't expect them to be on their best behavior.  Perhaps at home they are expected to sit, stay, come, don't jump, etc., but at dog camp, they pretty much may act a bit wild. 

Which is fine.  Remembering obedience when in a different environment is difficult.
As people, we often experience stress that tempts us to stray from behavior we know is correct.  We want to snap at people who are rude.  When the faucet handle breaks, we want to swear (which happened this morning).  It's not easy to walk the talk when we are challenged.

What is in our hearts - to love and be kind to others - is a lot more difficult when push comes to shove, particularly if we are getting shoved a LOT.

We can't do it under our own power.  We need to ask for God's strength, patience, and perspective.  That's about the only way we have any hope.  And when we inevitably make mistakes - snapping, swearing - the Lord is only one who can forgive us completely.

Keep trying - keep praying - keep loving.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Dog Friends

Years of observing dog behavior help me know which dogs are likely to get along and who will not.  Yet after fifteen years, there is no definitive rules that are one hundred percent true.
Here, Kobe (left) lives with Kody (back).  Kobe likes to play with other dogs but he takes serious issues with others, and it all seems rather random who he likes and does not like.  When Roxie the Bulldog came to visit, I expected Kobe to not like her.  Instead, they became fast friends.  Maybe it was because he couldn't figure out that she actually was a dog after all, and not some sort of moveable footstool.

Daily we meet people who confuse, challenge and delight us (sometimes all that in one person!).  Sometimes we are nothing but nice to a person and they still choose to reject us, slander us, and are generally sneaky and unpleasant.

Instead of taking it personally, we must recognize that it that person's issue, and not ours.  When I find I am starting to really dislike a person, I try to remember to ask God to give me eyes to see that person the way He does.  Sometimes that prayer is answered in ways that allow me to see that person's brokenness, which heals the anger I may feel toward them.  Other times, not much changes except the intensity of my emotion.

People and dogs - just when you think you've got them figured out, you don't.  But that's not all bad.  Life's mysteries make every day living interesting.  God created a diverse and wondrous variety of beings.  And we are one of them.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"The Greatest of These is Love"

Sometimes life runs you over.  Other times, you find you've run right into the path of someone else's target practice.  Either way, placating oneself in one more margarita or double buckeye sundae isn't going to take care of those wounded emotions.
Maybe it is the quiet sympathy of a friend, the crying-out-to-God prayer, or the surround-yourself-with-happiness get together that will soothe the pain.  Only love can heal the broken hearted.  Only the pure, true love of God, who understand the complexities more than any friend, can penetrate deeply enough to act as that healing balm we need. 

If only we could go to the store and rub the balm on our hurt and go on our merry way.  However, healing requires patience, and we're not good at that.  It requires quiet, which we kind of suck at too.  The things that are truly worthwhile in life are the ones that require effort, putting ourselves in vulnerable situations, and allowing the slow but sure work of God to build us up from our broken state.

The temporary fixes of this world aren't bad.  Recognize them for what they are - temporary (and probably over all unhealthy!).  Then, reach out to the Lord for not only a "fix" but a long lasting relationship of trust and depth. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Putting the Broken in Break

Taking a break from work and heading out for vacation is what brings owners to the kennel with their dogs.  When they return, often they have tales of their trip.

However, sometimes that break is far from relaxing with unexpected bad things happening.  From constant rain to sprained ankles, our hard earned time off doesn't turn out as we hoped.
The disappointment can run so deep, we sometimes feel like God just doesn't like us very much after all.  Otherwise, why such terrible things when it's supposed to be a perfect rest and fun time?

Sort of like all of life, isn't it?

Now and then, we can look backwards and see why some of those bad things weren't so bad after all, that maybe even something good came from them.  Yet there are other times when it's just all a mystery, and pain lingers.

If we knew exactly how God worked, faith would be unnecessary.  In fact, we'd call it something different, like Fact.  Having mystery in life propels people to do research, to search the heavens, to explore new states, parks, countries, etc.  As humans, God allows us the amazing gift of wondering.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"My Bowl Runneth Over"

Every year, I forget how busy July is at the kennel.  The phone rings at all hours of the day and night.  People are bringing their dog(s) and picking them back up every day - at all hours of the day and night.  LOTS of cleaning.  I'm pretty much run ragged.
Yet, it's great to see people who I haven't seen for a year and hear about their vacations.  Meeting new people and their dogs is also a wonderful time.  Then there is the matter of finances - if the money doesn't come in in the summer, it doesn't come in.  July is important for business!

It's work, but it's necessary.  If looked at from the right point of view, it's also a tremendous blessing to enjoy my work about 80-90% of the time.

If you are feeling the burden in your life today, look for what good it may be doing you, if you can.  We can't always see the reason for pressure, discomfort and deep sadness.  Sometimes we need to look beyond our current crisis.  Always we need to seek God's comfort and steadying hand in the storm.

Run to the Lord today, whether blessing or burden sends you there.

Monday, July 22, 2013

All Grown Up

Here's Tug. He's all grown up.  WAAAAYYYY up!  It's always nice to care for a dog that outweighs me.
When a dog is young, we expect them to make mistakes - chewing, housebreaking, jumping, etc.  But our expectation of their behavior at maturity is just that - mature behavior - acting within the boundaries of what they've been taught. we do that?  Do I do that?  I've been taught well.  I understand not just WHAT the rules are, but WHY the rules exist.  Reasoning that it is in fact the best way to live, yet I still find my heart weak and my behavior breaking down.

Have you ever heard "religion isn't about rules, it's about relationship"?  That platitude is true, but I find it hard to understand.  God gives us rules for OUR benefit - follow them and the consequences of bad decisions makes for an easier life.  However, we all are weak - we all sin - and then what do we do with that?  Run to the Lord.  That's when the whole relationship part makes sense.  Forgiveness is real and necessary.

It's never too late to run to God, no matter what you've done. 

Not all dogs are brought into homes as puppies, raised with good boundaries.  Many dogs are adopted from shelters and rescues, older and with many bad habits.  Yet a loving home, with patient training, provides a new life for these happy dogs.  You can have new life too.  Look to the Master.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Special Treat

If you're as old as me, you remember when getting a soda pop was an occasion of note.  Now, people drink it like water. 

When you have access to something every day, it's not that exciting any more.  It is ordinary

Yesterday, the dogs in the kennel got a couple bites of chicken.  I am extremely popular right now.
When we are comfortable with our every day lives, God doesn't seem that important.  "Yeah, He's there, big deal."  But when a crisis hits....we wonder, we accuse....

God is far from ordinary.  He's supernatural.  He fulfills our daily needs as well as picks us up in emotional ways we can't explain.  Yet we can't take our access to God lightly.  As intimate as He wishes to be, He is also holy and perfect.

He desires to give us good things.  Special things.  Things only God can provide.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Seeking Comfort

This morning as I closed the windows, anticipating a hot, sticky weather day, I thought about how most people keep their air conditioning on all night, and all day.  Raised without air conditioning, and taught to be "frugal", some times I'm surprised at our culture's inability to tolerate discomfort at any level.

Not only do we not want to be physically uncomfortable, we don't like to be mentally uncomfortable either.  We seek comfort by distraction, which often results in spiritual neglect.  Distraction allows us to avoid spiritual discomfort as well.

Yet the Lord longs to comfort us in a unique way.  It's not found in computer games, iPhones, or television.  Quiet.  Calm.  Reading the Bible.  Praying.  This is hardly the wild life, the cool style we show off.  It's subtle and difficult.  Yet it is so rewarding and deep.

Dogs have a variety of ways to comfort themselves when they are out of their element.  Retrievers are happiest when they have something in their mouth at all times.  I can relate, since I would do the same thing with ice cream, if I could.

Recently Jake was at the kennel.  It was his first time here and one day he refused to come out of his run to go outside.  He just sat and looked at me. That's when I noticed what was in his mouth.
 He wouldn't go out until we played ball.  After a few tosses (which he clearly thought I was doing incorrectly), he was content enough to go out and get on with his business.  Note how playing ball relieves stress, providing comfort, but still requires interaction with another.
Today, seek the comfort of God from the stress of every day living.  Whether he guides you to quiet time alone with him, or in happy interaction with others, look to the Lord for what your soul truly requires.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Coco Comes to the Country

This is Coco (hi Coco!).  He recently stayed the kennel for the first time.
When Coco and his owner visited a few days before, it was pouring down rain (as it has done pretty much every day for two weeks) - the kind that will drench you no matter how hearty your rain jacket.  Yet both were good sports about it, even though the kennel is less than impressive in rainy and humid weather. 

"Be strong and of good courage" is a message Joshua heard often after he took over Moses' job of leading those stubborn Israelites.  In our lives, being hearty, rolling with the punches, persevering, are all qualities we need to rise above our circumstances.

While Coco was in my care, he seemed content and was well behaved, ate well, and happily accepted treats. He got five stars for being a good customer (and his owner as well)!  Isn't that the impression we should leave on everyone we meet?  Pleasant and functional, despite less than ideal circumstances?

Strength and courage may not come easily.  Yet through Christ all things are possible.  Ask for the supernatural strength of God himself.  It makes life much better and gives Him all the glory.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Room for More

Our hearts should be full this holiday, as we celebrate a country that was founded by what might be considered "orphans."
The kennel is filling up as people make plans to vacation and celebrate.  Yet, there's room for more, if need be.

Today remember to open your heart to new people.  Show kindness.  Show love.  Share the love of God, with those you know and those you don't.

Monday, July 1, 2013

What Did You Expect?

This is Calvin, who is not my cat (though they would do this if given the chance).
Apparently Calvin is waiting for his snack to come to him in this bird feeder, which would be a huge surprise to the bird, thinking it was going to enjoy some nutritious seed.

Expectations are a tricky thing.  They can get us in all kinds of trouble, even a reasonable one.  We don't expect a terrible disaster when we wake up in the morning.  We don't even expect our toast to be burned.  Yet these things happen.  They happen every day.  They are reminders that our days are not entirely our own.

Trusting our days - the every part of the day - to the sovereignty of God is a difficult task.  It goes against our independent nature.  Yet if we make the conscious effort, not just the intellectual ascent, it makes for peace in all circumstances, even those unpleasant surprises.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Go with Your Strengths

Guess who is possibly the worst guard dog in the world?
Yeah, she looks tough, but don't be fooled.  Lately she's welcomed strangers and gone nuts over the cats' antics in the middle of the night. 

Trying to focus on the positive, she's a GREAT hunter.  Too bad I don't need a hunter...

It's important to know your weaknesses as much as your strengths.  While the Lord created us all differently, people often try to conform us to THEIR view of how we should be.  It's good to work on certain weaknesses (like maybe our self-control, ahem), but if we are introverts, we shouldn't try to be extroverts and vice versa.

Today give someone a break.  In fact, give yourself a break too.  Appreciate who you are through God, greatly loved and intricately created.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

There's Always Hope

  1. This Hope (hi Hope)!  Isn't she adorable?  She's even cuter than her picture.
Hope had never been in a kennel and also never walks on a leash.  Needless to say, she was in for a rude awakening and spent the first couple of days in stunned silence.  However, every day she came out of her shell more and more. Soon, she was sashaying in and outside the kennel with the other dogs, finding the environment strangely interesting, and dare I say, possibly enjoyable.

While we often find ourselves in extreme difficulty, there is always hope.  Even the bleakest and darkest of times, when our souls feel like they will die, we can turn to the one source that never fatigues and never wears out.  Turn to the Lord for true solace, true companionship, and true Light.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Play Ball!

When it's Summer and you live in the Midwest, you have to do your very best to make the most of nice weather.  I found this baseball along the side of the road.  Cody found it here in the house and really had a great time carrying it around.
Saturday I went to a local baseball game and it was fabulously fun.

Summer is a fleeting time, one God gave to us.  "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."  Make the most of it!