Friday, May 31, 2013

Close to the Edge

Two years ago, I went out for a bike ride and my iPod ear buds popped out.  It was annoying as I'd only gotten to the edge of my property.  As I fussed with them, I heard a different noise and it wasn't coming from the ear buds.
There he was, crouching in the tall grass on the edge of a busy road.  The Captain, as he was dubbed, can be fearless.
Yet he has also formed some very bad habits.  Things that people do not like, yet cats think are perfectly acceptable. Here's a hint:
Pets can really test our boundaries.  Somehow, we love them anyway.
Perhaps it's not so different with us.  God is patient with us, despite our undesirable sin nature.  This morning I heard how most people who have died at the Grand Canyon were "pretending" they were going to fall, then ended up slipping right off the cliff.  The commentator mentioned that we are not much different with temptations - we get as close to the edge as possible, thinking we are in control.  Yet how often have we slipped right off with disastrous consequences?
God's "rules" (that so many wish to discredit) are for our own benefit.  He loves us when we break them, but he's given us the way to live fully and safely in the world He created.  Thanking him for those rules, for his love, for his forgiveness, adds to a life lived to its maximum.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Loving for Another's Sake

If there's one thing I'm good at it, it's being self-absorbed.  I'm not proud of it, which is good because then I'd have both pride and selfishness against me.  However, I know I'm not alone.  Most all of us react according to how we feel about things.  We want to leave/abandon another because we don't approve, don't like, are annoyed, aren't having fun.....the emotions go on.

But what to do then, about this quote by Charlotte Bronte:

"If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love our friends for their sakes rather than our own."

Friday, May 24, 2013

Putting on the Feedbag

It's no secret that Tilly and I have something in common. We love to eat.
Don't laugh. Last week I did the same thing with a canister of Pringles.

When Tilly was young, she snuck down the basement and helped herself to the bag of food. She was bloated and I had to take her to the vet for a fun time of stomach pumping. While I've not gone that far, I've done my share of over indulging.

There are many reasons we choose to ignore our brains that tell us to stop. Scientists even provide explanations involving chemical responses. While these are all true, what is also true is we want what we want.

We were created to want. But what could be more satisfying than peace and joy in the Lord? Well, sometimes it seems like a double dip of moose tracks ice cream. Sometimes it seems like another margarita. We can see, taste and experience immediate pay off with those "things." It's more difficult and complex to develop a relationship with God that provides a different fulfilling experience. It's work. It's not easy - and we love easy.

So, will you resolve to do the harder "right" or the easier "wrong?" Every day we get to make a choice. Sometimes we fail (or, in my case, often). But it's a new week.

Choose wisely.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Peace in the Storm

It's only Wednesday and it's been a tough week.  The images of tornado damage in Oklahoma are heartbreaking.  The lives disrupted and destroyed are hard to fathom from this distance.

While I watched and cried, I looked over at Carbon.
Unshaken.  Of course, she's a cat so she's also oblivious.

When life leaves me feeling helpless, discouraged and dispairing, I realize I have no power.  Instead of this adding to a downward spiral, I turn to God.  With all the pain, anger, confusion, I run to the One who ultimately has an understanding of what is so incomprehensible.

Joni Earickson Toda said, "God uses what He hates to obtain what He loves."

Now, I don't understand that, but I do believe it's true.  While it's not always a comfort in the midst of a storm, it is a truth that runs deep and penetrates our soul as we emerge from a great sadness.

Pray for the people of Oklahoma, the people of Texas, the people all over the world - including your neighbor and yourself.  Pray for more faith and conviction.  Persevering through pain is not for sissies!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Lucy - a Lesson in Adaptability-1998-2013

Heeerrrrree'ssss LUCY!
Or there she was, four years ago, at my home.  Lucy was adopted in Columbus.  Her owner got married, had a baby, and moved to Florida.  Suddenly, Lucy was a Southern Girl. 

Then her owner got breast cancer, got better, moved to Grand Cayman.  Lucy was now an International Dog.  Her owner adopted a baby and got a second treatment of breast cancer. 

Lucy then lived in Ohio for a brief layover before moving to Pennsylvania with her whole family.  Through it all, she was resilient to all the changes, and provided comfort and entertainment for the young woman who adopted her.

Life throws us many punches.  Wouldn't it be great if we all were as adaptable as Lucy?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Gus - a Memoriam

Gus - he was a laid back kind of guy.
When he started coming to the kennel, he was already on the "old" side of dogness.
His love of tennis balls new no age.
He was a faithful companion since the day he was adopted, seeing her through many of life's significant changes.  While he will be missed, Gus was a personality that will never be forgotten.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Feeling Frisky

Here's Kody.  He may be nearly 12 years old, but he's still lively.
Kody used to escape his home and take himself on neighborhood soujourns before eventually returning home.  I spied him out on one of his self-appointed walks once and pulled my car over and called him.  He ran faster in the opposite direction.  He's very fortunate that he was never hit by a car or met other dangers.

If you are a show tune fan, you may be familiar with Camelot's Queen Guinivere singing "It's May - It's May - the lusty month of May!"  Indeed, the warmer breezes do seem to invigorate all of us.  It's certainly true with dogs as they seem to want to be outside.  All. The. Time.

Yet following our own instincts can lead to danger.  If we leave the safety of our Master's home to pursue our own interests, being hit by a car may be the least of our worries.  Temptations abound.  We are weak against them, even if we think "I can handle it."  Don't be fooled - run back "home" to God.  Wait for Him to lead you out into the world, onto paths that are for our own benefit and His glory, and not just what we want because we want it.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Being Sold a Bill of Goods

Here's Charlie Bob (hi Charlie Bob!).  He's a cute "Golden Doodle."
The recent surge in sales of "Labradoodles" and "Goldendoodles" are in large part due to the much touted label of "hypoallergenic."  IF that's even a word, breeders of these mixed breeds tell people that they are perfect for people with allergies because they don't shed.

Don't you believe it.

They shed.  I know.  I clean up after them.  Not all of them.  But since what people are spending hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars on is essentially a mutt, they come with no breed standard and no guarantees.  Unlike a Golden Retriever, these dogs can have uneven temperaments.  Some fetch like a Labrador, some don't.  Some are spry and lively as a Standard Poodle, and others are just dogs that won't stop barking.

To me, if you're going to roll the dice on a dog, rescue one from a shelter or spend your money on ONE of the breeds from a reputable breeder who shows the dogs so they meet breed standards.

Frankly, I could go on and on.  While I've watched many of these nice dogs, I simply do not understand why people have paid so much money for them.

However, it's not hard to understand why people believe what they've been told, trusting someone nice enough to love dogs probably are telling the truth.  Oh, wouldn't that be nice.

Truth is harder and harder to discern in our culture because competition for disseminating facts has become louder and louder by people who simply care about making money.  It is up to each one of us to do our research, examine the facts, ask many questions, and then take responsible action.  This is true whether you are buying a dog, going to vote, or determining what faith in your life means.

Our culture makes us plenty comfortable, so much so we often get very lazy.  I know I do.  We want to trust that nice breeder, that clever news anchor, and that young man in the nice suit on our front porch with a flyer.

Not knowing the law doesn't mean you will not be prosecuted by it if you fail to obey.  Choose to do the hard work.  So much is at stake.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Spring Time = Kittens

Almost two years ago, this kitten was dropped off here.  While kittens are adorable, adding one more was hardly what I wanted to do. However, at the time no shelter was accepting any cats. 

While adult cats can move along more safely to other possible homes, a kitten can hardly fend for itself.  (Fortunately, area shelters now are accepting and helping all cats.)

When a person stumbles upon faith in Christ, regardless of age, they need help from other believers to grow in their faith.  It's not easy to be a Jesus follower, and support should come from those who have walked that path.

Sometimes we are quick and impatient to deal with messy situations like a stray cat or a person looking for a friend.  While we can't always be the perfect solution for all we meet, we can make sure we tend to their needs in some way, even if it is directing them where their care will be tended perhaps in a better way in a better environment.

How do we know?  We don't always - pray and do the best with what guidance you have from the Holy Spirit.  God takes care of His own and the burden doesn't land squarely on us to 'save them all' but to do the best we can.

Now isn't that liberating?

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Walk to Remember

I joke with friends that I could write an entire blog about things that happen to me while I'm walking dogs.  Yesterday was a doozy.
There's a certain garden center near me that is extremely popular.  It's run by rogue break-away Amish, so right there it's pretty cool.  As soon as it opens, the traffic on my road increases.  Since it is in the middle of nowhere, people often stop to ask me where it is.

Yesterday our walk just began and a car slowed.  In the passenger seat was a small dog looking out the window.  The car stopped and the man driving beckoned me to come forward.

Let's look at this from the dogs' point of view, shall we? 

Small dog, coming at them from an elevated position.  Even the best behaved dogs would be challenged, and considering they were in a pack, the perceived threat had force to respond. 

I froze.  The man then drove out a bit so now his dog is staring right at the dogs I was walking.  He asked me where the darn garden center was.  The dogs were fussing and pulling.  I managed to say, "Straight til the road dead ends then turn left!"

Then I went down.  I was pulling the dogs backwards as they lunged for the dog and car and I slipped on some of the loose gravel.  The man yelled, "Are you okay?"  I yelled back, "Yes.  Keep driving!"

He drove away at a very slow speed as the dogs were barking at each other like crazy and I laid on the leashes so they wouldn't chase the creeping away car.  Finally, I could get up and get moving in the opposite direction.

At first, I was extremely irritated.  Then, I couldn't stop giggling.

There's no great spiritual lesson here - just wanted to give you a laugh for Friday.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

When Weaknesses aren't so Weak

It's Jenny the Silky Terrier (hi Jenny)
Some may look at Jenny and think she is small and vulnerable.  However, as with most terriers, they can be quite fierce.  They can handle herself quite well, thank you.  She's quite fearless.

Have you ever met a person, perhaps in a group setting, and they are so quiet you think they must be scared to death or painfully shy?  While that may be true, often they are qiuetly observing and taking in what is happening and being said.  That's opposed to others (like me) who is talking and taking very little in around me.

Isn't it amazing how God uses our strengths and weaknesse in different ways?  He's designed us each so differently, yet he has plans for all of our personality traits.  Often we need to ask the Holy Spirit to shape our lives, to take off the rough edges, so we can become more Christ-like.  God is happy to answer that prayer, even though it sometimes happens through tough circumstances.

Have you seen your weaknesses being used for "good?"