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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.

Um....do 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.