Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Grading on a Curve

Some kennels give owners doggie report cards to inform the owner how well (or poorly) the dog did at the kennel.  There is much I can say about this, but I will try hard to stay on point.  In the interest of full disclosure, this isn't something I've ever done at my kennel and there is no plan to adopt it.

Here's the report card Emmit and Matilda got after their stay at a local kennel when I was gone in the Spring.
Now I'm definitely not saying that the fine folks caring for my dogs were lying.  But I will say that I know my dogs.  I know kennels.  I know how my dogs act in kennels.

They are not A students.

Some owners ask me how their dog behaved while they were away, and I give them an accurate picture of the dog's behavior, especially if something is out of the ordinary.  Owners sometimes miss small changes in their dogs when it is minor and they see it day to day.  If I am familiar with the dog, the change stands out to me.  

What I generally skip in the conversation is "normal" dog behavior like jumping on me, resisting going back into their kennel run, or sticking their heads into another dog's food bag and sneaking a few bites.  When away from home, dogs aren't perfect.

I hope you are sitting down for this - I'm not perfect either.  I'm just as disappointed as you are.  It seems like I should be a spiritual giant but I see how often I fail.  I jump into conversations I shouldn't have, I resist changing my less desirable behaviors.  I eat what I shouldn't given the opportunity.  

We are far away from home too.  This world isn't the end.

None of the dogs I've owned were perfect.  But they were mine.  And if you belong to God, He isn't concerned with your behavior, He's concerned with your heart.

Forget about your perfectionism, your defeatism, and any other ism that crushes your spiritual soul.  All you need is Jesus, who is just waiting for your heart to return to the safest, most pure love  we can have, that frees us for abundant life here, and eternal life after.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I Will Go With You

This past weekend, a new dog came to the kennel for her first stay here.  She did very well, but she was very hesitant to go back in her kennel run.  This, of course, is not unusual.

Over the years, I've learned that taking a dog by the collar and forcing it doesn't work for many reasons.  Not only does it scare the dog, it's physically difficult.  What does work is to take the dog by the collar and walk into the kennel run with the dog.

Facing uncertainty alone can be scary.  If someone is by our side, it's not nearly as bad.  

Maybe today you need someone by your side.  Or maybe you need to be by the side of someone else.  Either way, we are showing the love of God, who promises to be with us, when we show up in person to face the fears. Sometimes we can't share our fears with another person.  Even then, we know our great God knows and walks by our side.

"Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you."
Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Losing the Good Ones

Mid-May, I said goodbye to Emmit.
This past Wednesday, I said goodbye to Franklin.
Emmit was around 13 years old, though he was in my home for only 18 months.  Frank was dumped here as a kitten, and was closing in on 14 years.  Emmit had a tough start in life, but he ended well.  Frank pretty much had a good life since he landed here.

Even though it seemed they lived a full life, their presence has been missed.  Another element that makes their loss a little more poignant is that they were, well, normal.

You see, the dogs and cats I've had since living in the country strongly resemble the Island of Misfit Toys.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, do a search and see.  I've had an abused dog that was so scared of everything it was an embarrassment.  At the same time, I had a three legged cat and not one but two other cats that had one eye.  And let's not forget Tilly, who, I can not stress enough, is the worst greeter of any dog ever.  

But Emmit was calm and good natured.  Frankie was mostly a dog-cat, greeting everyone, not intrusive.  Basically, my normal, likable pets are gone.

And while I feel their loss and illusion that my life is normal, if I'm honest, loving the difficult pets is not so different from loving the difficult people of our lives.  In fact, likely I am one of those difficult people.  And maybe you are too.  We don't really have a 100% likability rating (Sorry).  Maybe some of us can hide this better than others.  Maybe some of us really are more likable, but we all fall short.
In God's economy, there are no misfits, no land of unwanted toys.  We may view some people (never ourselves) as the lowest, trash, hopeless. 

But God's specialty are the ones others scorn (and even ourselves).  He even asks us to take care of them.  Who wants that job?  We are called to love the unlovable, because we're not always so lovable ourselves.  God hasn't banished us. When we run to Him, His arms are open, just waiting for us to finally figure out He's been there all along.

Having "just one dog and three cats" is ALMOST like an average pet owner number.  I haven't had this few pets in......I'm not sure how many years.  But I will pull in my flawed, four legged friends, brush aside their less charming traits, and continue to love them for however many years I may have with them.

I'll remember that God does the same with me.