Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Favorite Toy

Yesterday I bought Tilly two new toys, both with loud, obnoxious squeakers in them.  She was thrilled.  The most annoying one she squeaked several times.  Then she went on a mad dash upstairs. 

And came down with this instead, her old toy:
It's her current favorite, a little stuffed animal I call "Justin Beaver."  As you can tell, she is delighted with this gnarly beast.

Why did she take the new toy upstairs to dump it for this?  Was she thinking, "I am squeaking new toy.  Toy is fun.  Thoughts of other toy fun.  Go get other toy fun."

But we all have our favorites, don't we?  A favorite movie, vacation spot, candy bar or friend evokes fond memories.  It's why we return to it time and again.

Today, find a place to thank God for the very simple joys that bring you happiness and comfort. 

What's your pet's favorite toy?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What's Your Battle?

What do you see in this picture?
A dog attacking a helpless cat?  A cat ripping the dog's face off?  An extremely dirty kitchen floor?

All three are correct, except Tilly and Captain play like this All. The. Time.

Perhaps you identify with an oppressive force keeping you flat on your back.  Maybe you identify with being the Top Dog, going after your problems with ferocity.

No matter where you are in the fight, we all do battle, either with a person or a situation, through our own poor choices or just innocently living our lives.  Problems are impossible to avoid - it's part of living. 

How do you handle your battle?  We need to be honest with our feelings, as slapping a false front can be insincere.  At the same time, we need to work toward living above the tough circumstances.  Sure, that may sound good and noble, but is it possible?  For me, I can only do so by acknowledging that without God's help and power, I can't do it.  Left to my own devices, I wallow in self-pity, becoming angered easily, an impatient mess.

Today submit to God your struggle.  Admit that it's too much - that it's awful.  Ask for the strength of God's mighty hand.  Ask for redemption.  The important thing is that you ask.

 but also, getting to a place where we can live above our

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

That's Not Love

Usually this blog focuses on some personal experiences relating to dogs in the kennel.

Today's post is unusual.

It is serious.  It is sad.  If you've had a bad day, you may not want to read it.  If you've had a good day, you may not want to read it.  So why am I writing it?  Because sometimes we get a little too comfortable.  Sometimes we see someone and make assumptions. 

Like many dogs, Tilly is hard on toys.  After several weeks of piecing this one back together, she did in her teddy bear once and for all by ripping out its guts.
The sad "I love you" pillow got to me.

You see, a friend of mine told me over dinner about a woman we both know.  From the desperate sounds of it, this woman is losing her battle with alcohol addiction.

My friend has known her for years, and after the last relapse, there was no helping her.  This woman is yellow from jaundice, bruised from falling, living in squalor and how she continues to get alcohol is unspeakable.

Yet when I saw this woman, it was when she was sober, dressed up, and sitting next to me in Bible study.  I knew she was struggling.  I knew she'd been abused horribly by the people who should have protected her more than anyone.  The trust of a child was destroyed, her innocence gone forever.  Somehow the lesson she learned was what love wasn't, but a child doesn't process things the same.  I saw this woman's heart, and it was good.

But her pain was deep.  She knew of Jesus' love for her.  But that didn't stop her from taking an easier comfort in something that would dull her pain, mistaking again what love wasn't.

Now she is the worst of stereotypes.  "Trailer Trash" and other names people say.  But I look at that teddy bear and remember the abused child is now an abused adult, forgetting all about love.

Recently a ceremony was held to recognize the number of child abuse cases handled in a nearby county.  Many of those children won't overcome their scars as they mature into adulthood. 

When you see someone you want to deride by a label, don't add to their abuse.  Think of them as someone who may be losing a battle - one that began a long time ago that was no fault of their own.  Maybe you're the only kind face they will see.  Maybe you can offer some hope.  Remind them.  Remind them Jesus still loves them.  And Jesus wants them back, even with failures and even with pain.  Jesus calls us back.  Jesus is love, the kind of love that understands abuse, and the kind that endures forever.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Caring for the Lost

Last Thursday, just before I had to go somewhere, I saw this little dog making a shelter in the bushes before the rains resumed:
With a collar and leash attached, the little female beagle must have an owner, and she was extremely thin.  She'd been on her own for a while was my guess.  I got her into warmth and fed her a hearty meal, which she ravenously devoured.

Just a month before, a strange dog was standing in my driveway early in the morning.  In the country, it's not too uncommon to have "travelers" who roam from their homes but often wander right back.  I said something to this dog, but it cowered away from me.  It was just before our last big snow, and I saw the dog again when the snow was fierce.  Again, the dog shied away.  Two days later, I saw that same dog, heading for the woods. 

It broke my heart.  I should have pursued that dog and helped when I had the chance.  My worry is it appeared on many doorsteps before giving up to try to make it on its own in the wild.

I prayed that I got another chance.  I did, but with another dog.

This beagle stayed with me while I tried to find its home, made calls to area dog wardens and vet offices.  The one lead I had wasn't successful.  Finally, I gave the dog to someone who got her into a rescue. 

How many times have I watched wounded, lost and hopeless pass through my life, without me speaking one word of hope to them? 

Rescue organizations pull dogs from shelters to find them permanent homes.  They drive strays across state lines to get them to places where they have a better chance to be adopted.

Missionaries give up their entire lives to go into hostile countries with crushing poverty to give fresh water and hope to lost people.  Caring people in our own country sacrifice time and comfort to help people.

Yet there are those "stray" people with whom we cross paths with every day, often in our own yard.  What am I doing for them?  What are you doing?  We don't have to look very far to see someone who needs to remember that Jesus loves them, right now.

Build each other up and do no tear them down.  Give the thirsty fresh water.  Be a voice of hope and not harm.  Even if you don't feel like it.  You may be the only encourages and life raft they meet for a long time.