Saturday, March 31, 2012

Grateful Dead

The highlight of the dog agility trial for us was when Asherel bought Honeybun a cute ruffly Scarlet O'Hara dress. Honeybun didn't run too badly yesterday, but she didn't "Q" in either class. At least she wasn't dropping bars or refusing jumps like last trial, and she was fast. But Asherel didn't seem too disappointed. She was just happy to have found the gorgeous dress with matching leash and hair bow. She brought Honeybun dressed in her regalia to our friend and mentor, Danielle.
"Really?" said Danielle, "A dress on an agility dog?"
Asherel, who incidentally will only wear a dress if forcibly wrapped in one by coercion, was wearing the dog head bow on her own hair. It had a big poofy florette satin bow trimmed in lace.

As we headed home, I was telling Asherel's friend about how I used to teach Art class in one room, while Asherel was a toddler, napping in the other.
Asherel, who is often exhausted after a day of trials, usually lapses into silence, but she perked up with this information.
"I remember that," she said, " I remember looking at Dad's Grateful Dead and Woodstock posters. I kept wondering why or how the Dead could be grateful."
She was a precocious toddler. She taught herself to read long before I knew she was reading. She had never told me this before.
"But what really confuzzled me," she added, "Was the part that said- Grateful Dead, Performing Live!"
In all my years of living with that poster on our wall, the irony of that statement had never occurred to me.

But what does occur to me now is that is what so many of us are- dead performing live. We are dead to the source of all life, yet we act as though we are living. And many of us are living a life of "quiet despair." I had a call from a friend who was very distraught. All the things she had hoped and prayed for were falling apart around her. And I think what contributed to her despair even more was she felt that her life was the only one so filled with struggle, that she had brought it on herself, (she hadn't), and that everyone else had perfect families with loving children who all rallied and nestled around each other in times of difficulty. What a disservice we do I think, when we don't share our struggles with others. She felt like the dead performing live- in her faith, in her family, and in her fate. I don't know about you, but I knew exactly what she was feeling. I have been there. We can put a pretty dress over disappointment, like Honeybun at the agility trial, but at some point, the truth of what we are feeling underneath has a way of creeping out.

I know that when I feel that disconnect with joy, with no reason to live victoriously, I read the Psalms. The Psalms like no other book in the Bible remind me that there are others who have felt they have been abandoned, maybe never loved in the first place. With heart wrenching honesty, they cry out to God in sometimes accusing desperation. But they never stop there- they always move on to the only comfort that they can find. God is there. He was always there. He will always be there. And even when it seems that the rest of the world is crumbling, His promises remain. The distraught psalmists always conclude that in trusting God, they ultimately found their way back to grateful life.

1 Timothy 5: 5-6
The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.

Psalm 69: 6-20, 32
Lord, the Lord Almighty,
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me. For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face. I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother's children; for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me. When I weep and fast,
I must endure scorn; when I put on sackcloth,
people make sport of me. Those who sit at the gate mock me,
and I am the song of the drunkards. But I pray to you, Lord,
in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
answer me with your sure salvation. Rescue me from the mire,
do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
from the deep waters. Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
or the depths swallow me up
or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love;
in your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant;
answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. Come near and rescue me;
deliver me because of my foes. You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
all my enemies are before you. Scorn has broken my heart
and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for comforters, but I found none.

The poor will see and be glad—
you who seek God, may your hearts live!

-save a dog-

Friday, March 30, 2012

Living Worthily

"Are you sure that is all the food I get?" Honeybun asked as I set her bowl down before her.
"You have two days of agility trials, starting today," I told her,"You will get goodies galore as long as you run the course."
She gobbled her breakfast in two seconds.
"You know," I told her as she glared at me accusingly,"Some trainers don't even feed their dog breakfast before trials so the dog will be motivated to run well."
"Don't you ever even think such a thing," growled Honeybun.
"And all you need is one more Q in open standard, and you get to move up to excellent level in that class too. That makes our life easier if all your classes are at the same level, so keep that in mind, Miss Floor-Dragging-Belly Dingo."
"You know," she philosophized, licking the final molecules from her shining bowl, "This agility stuff is fine as long as it means more food. The moment it means less food, I am not so into it."
"Just do your best today," I begged her, "My little girl is counting on you."
"Fine," said Honeybun, waddling away, "Just pack some treats worthy of my effort."

Unbeknownst to Honeybun, I had bought special treats, recommended by our class teacher, Laura. At the last class, Honeybun had been so riveted on Laura's treats, that Laura gave some to Asherel and warned her, "If you want your dog's attention...have the best treats in the class."

Have the best treats in class.
As my team for Science Olympiad was practicing yesterday, they asked what motivator (bribe) I would give them if their helicopter reached 3 minutes, or if they were attentive and focused the whole practice.
"How about just the good feeling that you have done what you should be doing? The feeling of accomplishment?"
"What about a trip to Rita's?" they asked. (Rita's has the best custard in Charlotte.)
I still owe them a trip to Rita's for last practice's bribe.
"I can't afford to bribe you every practice with Rita's," I said.
"Can my mom bribe us then?" asked Ben.
"You'll have to ask her," I said wearily.
This happens as the year winds to a close. I grow weary and less creative in how to motivate my students. I keep hoping at some point, intrinsic motivation becomes the propellant.

I think God grows weary of external rules and regulations and perks to guide behavior too. That's why He brings a New Covenant. In the Old Covenant, He guides His people with the Law. He has a huge list of dos and don'ts, and mostly, his people flounder on the don't side of the ledger. In the New Covenant, He "writes it on our hearts". A day will come when no one will forget how to follow Him, or merely follow Him in search of His heavenly bribes. We will follow Him because we know Him, and knowing Him, want nothing more than to abide in His will.

"Are you crazy?" mocked Honeybun, "The only intrinsic motivation I care about is a full belly."
"What about your love of us...your desire to please your master? Doesn't that count for anything?" I asked her.
She paused, considering. Then she leaned against me as I rubbed her belly.
"It counts for something," she agreed.

1 Thessalonians 2:3-12
For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children among you.
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

-save a dog-

Thursday, March 29, 2012


We discovered why Honeybun, our once svelte elite athlete agility dog, was getting fat. She always sits politely nearby while Lucky finishes his food, and then she licks the empty bowl when he walks away. Unbeknownst to us however, Lucky had gone on a hunger strike. He does that on occasion. He doesn't seem to be sick nor is anything wrong with his food. He just gets tired of dry dog food and holds out in hopes of filet mignon. Well, it turns out that Honeybun was then cruising in and eating his food right after her own meal. He gets double what she gets, being a much bigger dog. So Honeybun was eating three times her normal allotment. To prevent this, we have to stand in the kitchen watching slow poke Lucky finish every bite. It is aggravating but we have no choice. Honeybun was beginning to waddle. No wonder she was knocking down jumps at the last agility trial!

She is not alone. I think many of us often don't think much about what is best for us. We just think about instant gratification, what will taste good, feel good, hold back the pain for an hour. So junk goes in our stomachs, our minds, and our hearts. We procrastinate to avoid the work that we have to do because it is hard...and in the end, like Honeybun, we start knocking over all the jumps we once were able to clear. I believe there is a devil, a real and horrifying adversary that longs to rip us away from God. However, I also believe we give him ammunition. "The Devil made me do it" is just an excuse...he just capitalizes on our complacency.

I was thinking about all this when I got a note from someone about how hard he was trying to rebuild his life. I thought about how sometimes we struggle and try all by ourselves, when God longs to step in and remove the burden. But we shut Him out and think if we just try harder, it will be ok. And then, on the opposing side are those who try too little, who know the right thing to do, and don't do it. Then when the world crashes around them, they blame God.

"Honeybun," I growl in a warning tone, "That is not your food...."
She looks at me, then back at the tempting orgy before her, and tiptoes away.
Whew. For now, she has made the right choice.

Psalm 119:173-176
May your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts. I long for your salvation, Lord,
and your law gives me delight. Let me live that I may praise you,
and may your laws sustain me. I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Seek your servant,
for I have not forgotten your commands.

-save a dog-

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Longing for Fame

As I was driving Asherel and her friend Josh to Gavel Club, I asked Josh what Asherel should wear for her Monday TV appearance. He thought briefly, and I hoped he would help talk her into wearing a dress. Asherel hates getting dressed up, but I don't think jeans and a Beatles T-shirt is appropriate for one's 15 minutes of fame on television. Please tell her to wear a dress, I prayed silently.
"Nail polish!" declared Josh.

I had had to use all my powers of persuasion to talk Asherel into agreeing to the TV gig. She had just won the Parent Art Magazine Grand Prize. Her colorful, quirky, bizarre collection of objects beautifully rendered in colored pencil had won Best in Show, and now the editor was to be interviewed about the contest on WBT News at noon Monday. She asked Asherel to be on the set with her. Since we have reaped the benefits over the years of Parent Magazine sponsoring this wonderful art contest, I felt we should support them in promoting what they do. Asherel loves entering, and loves doing well, but she hates the thought of being on display. This is a beautiful, admirable quality, and I hope this humility follows her throughout her life, but in this case, the organization that had so graciously awarded her their top prize was asking her for something in return. We finally agreed that it was the right thing to do to go on the TV show, and if possible, even enjoy the experience. She will only be on for three minutes and it is likely they will only ask her one or two questions.

Josh was prescient in his anticipation of what the question would be- "What's your inspiration? I bet that is what they will ask. Ok, here is what you say...."
No one but Josh could have come up with the answer he gave, but it made Asherel laugh and I suspect she is feeling less nervous about this venture now.

In contrast, I was thinking about the Facebook phenomenon. I think the allure of Facebook is in part a desire for recognition, to be noticed.
"At the grocery store!" proclaims one post.
Another lists her accomplishments of the day which include reading 5 novels to ten children, baking a pie, making an original dinner for her family of 12 and 6 disadvantaged neighbors, and cleaning the bathroom, all in time for a midday nap.
Facebook has become a roomful of strangers that are all instantaneously our closest friends, all existing for the joy of reading what we have done. All of them are willing ears to every thought we desire to hoist upon them, and we all live for them to push the little "like" button that assures us we have been noticed, and even revered. (yeh yeh yeh...not unlike blog writers, I know, I know....)

What is it that makes most of us so desperately want others to think highly of us? To give us our due? To applaud our achievements? Here is what I think, and it could just be the musing of a messed up mind. I think we all desire applause because we don't really believe we are worthy of it. Not deep inside. Deep inside I think we shudder when we face what we are, and most of us long for the constant affirmation that we are ok. Despite what we know to be true about ourselves, is it possible to be loved?

I have heard many times that the Bible and faith in Jesus is for losers, for weak people who can't make it on their own, so they turn to a crutch. I think that is also true. I think it *is* for people who believe they are weak; they *can't* make it on their own, and were never meant to. We are described as "sheep" in the Bible. I always misunderstood that symbol before coming to faith. I thought of it as mindless robots being led by a greater power because we had no brain, like a stupid sheep. But I think a more accurate understanding is that sheep were never meant to carry burdens, and sheep will follow and trust a Shepherd because they recognize the need. Like sheep in a world of wolves, we can't survive on our own. And all those worries about whether we are loved, cared for, protected, and even worthy of that protection are burdens we were never meant to carry...not in the presence of our Shepherd.

Most of us won't get the opportunity to go on television, to remind the world that we have done something worth the accolades of others. But every one of us is on the screen constantly of the most important Producer of all. I have no doubt that He is willing to give us as many takes as the scene requires if in the end, we are performing only for Him.

"Nail polish?" laughed Asherel, "Anything else?"
"Well yes," said Josh, "Lipstick...sparkly lipstick! And a should wear a dress."
Asherel groaned and sank low in her seat.

2 Corinthians 10:18
For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

James 2:5
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

1 John 4:10
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

-save a dog-

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Crocodile Smile

I asked my old friend, as I helped him and Evelyn into the car, if it would be all right with him if I wrote a book about him.
"You want your next book to be about me?" he said, stopping midway from settling into his seat, one leg dangling. His old wrinkled face contorted and his eyes welled with tears. Evelyn sat stock still, looking straight ahead. Alzheimers was apparently winning today, and she had been mute since I walked in the door to gather them. The few attempts to speak thus far had been mumbled garbled words, impossible to decipher.
"Yes," I said, "If it would be ok with you. And I'd really like to sit down and write all your WW2 adventures. There aren't many WW2 vets left."
"That's true. Just three from my battalion of 200 that I know of," he said, dabbing at his eyes, "Well I would be honored!" He shook his head, smiling, as he finished settling in the seat and clicking on his seatbelt.
"Hello Asherel," he said, noticing her in the front seat. She can't always come with us, but she had scurried to finish her school work so that she could this time.
"Asherel!" said Evelyn, a bright smile shattering away her illness momentarily.
I gazed deep into her eyes, which were for a brief time, aware.
"Yes, Asherel is with us today," I said.
"Asherel," she repeated clearly, looking steadily at me.
"So Comer, while we drive and look at the Spring, would you tell me some WW2 stories?"
"Oh I have plenty of them," he said, "But they aren't very happy."
"Well I want to hear those too, but for now, can you tell me the happy ones?"
"Ok, well, you know, I was assigned first gunner in Milne Bay. That means I was the first one to engage the enemy. I was in charge of the Bufer guns. We called them ack-acks. Anyway, our job was to shoot down the Japanese airplanes. I was quickly promoted to Corporal, and then put in charge of the first gunner group. Well, one man outranked me, but I was the leader."
"Why ? Shouldn't he have been in charge?"
"Yes, but he was an asinine coward. Never did anything."
"So he listened to you?"
"They all did. All but one time."
"What happened that one time?"
"One didn't listen to me. Only happened one time though."
"Why...? What made him listen?"
"A rifle butt to the jaw."
"Ouch. That was allowed?"
"It was war. Anything was allowed. What were they going to do? Send me to the front?"
I laughed.
"Anyway," he went on,"One day I was out walking along the beach, and I saw a mirage, clear as the object itself hovering over the water. It was a Japanese submarine. That sucker was about 100 yards off shore. I could see it in the air so clear I could touch it."
"I didn't know you could see mirages over the ocean."
"No, neither did I. Neither did my commanders when I radioed it in. But I told them I wasn't crazy. There was a submarine sitting right there in the bay. So they had no choice but to send out airplanes to check it out...and you know, it was right where I said it was. They dropped depth charges and they sunk it."
"Wow," I said, "What was it planning to do?"
"Bomb our supply ships. And you know there was a blockade and we were starving."
"So you saved your men with that mirage."
"Could be."
"Maybe it was a vision from God."
"Haha. Well, might a been...but I think it was a mirage."

He told me many stories, including one about a wild boar baby his men raised to be a 400 pound tame pet.
"But some fool shot it when we were starving. No one would eat it though. It was our pet."
He told me about crocodile hunting in Australia,and how he shot a huge one bigger than himself.
"Did you save the skin for crocodile shoes for Evelyn?" I asked.
Evelyn had been mutely crunching her extra crispy chicken the entire drive, looking straight ahead while Comer told his stories, but at this last remark, she burst out laughing, and looked cheerfully at her husband. He patted her hand, grinning.

As I returned them to the Nursing Home, I thought how little it takes to make others happy. I had just heard on the radio that to develop volunteer minded adults, they need to volunteer as young people. I remembered watching my dad always bringing a young service man out to lunch with us, and Mom working with an older woman to help teach her to read. I thought of our history studies and the section we are reading now about JFK telling us not to ask what our country can do for us, but what we can do for our country, about Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr., and the 15 year old black girl who walked the gauntlet of spitting, threatening adults and children to be the first black to enter the white school in the south. I thought of Jesus and His admonition to win our enemies with kindness, and to turn the other cheek when one cheek is slapped. I thought of how the Bible calls for all of us to serve, and to love one another, and how sometimes it is as simple as letting an old man tell long ago stories.

Mark 9:35
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all."

-save a dog-

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mournful Cries

Just as I would almost drift off to sleep, the howl of a mournful dog would erupt in the silent night, just outside my window. I had heard the dog barking and howling since 7 pm. It was now midnight. I thought it was coming from the neighbor's house across the street. They are good and considerate people, but I wake up around 6 every morning. I was beginning to chew through the metal bed posts in frustration. At 12:30, I crawled out of bed and begged Arvo to call the neighbors, and ask nicely that they bring their dog in.
It turns out they had rescued the dog, which was almost hit by a car. They called animal control who said they would show up, but thus far, had not. What could we say? They were doing the poor lost dog a kindness. At 6:30 am, this morning, as I almost drifted off to sleep, the dog, with a very hoarse voice, began his mournful lament again.

I felt really bad for the dog, even sorrier for him than for myself. I had not logged an hour of sleep, but neither had the dog. And I was home surrounded by family. He had a collar on, but no identification. He was lost, and bewildered, and all alone. If anyone of you has a dog, I am making a very simple request right now. My own dog does every thing in his power to escape, so things like loose dogs happen. But if you love your dog and your community here are some very simple rules:
1. Spay and neuter your pet. The world doesn't need any more dogs.
2. Put identification and contact info on the dog's collar.
3. Microchip your dog.

And if you can't adequately care for your pet over the long haul, don't get him in the first place. Nothing breaks a loyal dog's heart more than to be abandoned by the person he loves. He won't care if you are a creep. He will love you no matter what. God and Dogs are the only beings that share that characteristic.

Psalm 44:26
Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.

-save a dog-

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Remember Their Sins No More

Did you see that stock in Etch-a-Sketch has skyrocketed? And yesterday, had a sale on Etch-a-Sketches. In case you live under a rock, this is all in direct result of Mitt Romney's campaign manager telling a news reporter that once Romney seals the nomination, he will start with a clean slate in discussing his policies with the American people, like an "Etch-a-Sketch" when you clear it off by shaking it. Considering that the biggest fear about Romney is that he says what is expedient, and has no solid core conservative values, this was about the least comforting metaphor he needed to seal the nomination. Just what we need. An Etch-a-Sketch for a leader.

But it shows the power of celebrity utterances. I hope he has a slip of the tongue and reports next that he is reading the two wonderful books written by Vicky Kaseorg. Imagine what that would do for my sales! Better get yours before the run begins!

On the other hand, it would be great if we all were Etch-a-Sketches. What if every stupid word we said could just be erased with a shake? What if every stupid thing we did could vanish like the magnetic dust when it is jostled in an Etch-a-Sketch? What if we could redraw the picture of our lives and if we didn't like how it was turning out, just smack the screen and start all over?

My grandmom had two passions- bread and shoes. The bread I get- who doesn't love a warm, freshly made, fragrant bread? But shoes? Why shoes? I have a thing about shoes too. I know I have mentioned on this blog that I am forever on the quest for a comfortable and beautiful shoe. The shoe manufacturers have a creed they all must swear by and sign, however, that says that a shoe shall not be beautiful AND comfortable. It may be one or the other, but it is a penalty punishable by death to make a shoe that is both. However, maybe my quest is more along the lines of the Etch-a-Sketch idea. With a new pair of shoes, one walks a new way, maybe trods a new path. Old shoes and old ways are erased. New shoes, new life! One never knows what kind of new adventures one might travel if only one has the right kind of shoe.

This is, of course nonsense. If you found yourself nodding and agreeing eagerly, you and I both need to do a little soul searching. New shoes won't erase where we have walked anymore than an Etch-a-Sketch could erase our past. But there is a way to cover over all that old yuck we long to put forever behind us. Jesus promises that when we put our faith in Him, the old is washed away, and the new is ushered in. God no longer sees our sin when He looks upon us. We are covered by the atoning sacrifice of the One who bore the penalty of our sin for us, and cleansed, purified, and made new. We are new creatures, finally both beautiful and comfortable.

Hebrews 8: 9-12
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, 'Know the Lord,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."

-save a dog-

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Why Does God do this?

Praise and despair. They seem to come together, like peanut and butter, lox and bagels, dogs and vet bills, oy and vay. You just can't have one for long without the other. Yesterday started out with despairing news, but ended with triumph. Late last night we learned that my wonderful daughter-in-law, Karissa, made the finals, the top 4 of her entire law school class in the Moot Court contest. Just being in law school is a feat.... to rise to the top in such an elite group is amazing. I won't share the coinciding despairing news, but it really knocked the wind out of the sails of a loved one.
I spent the day begging God. I begged him to spin the world backwards, spin it like in the Superman movie when Lois Lane dies, so that the action is reversed. If Superman, a mere created being, albeit from the powerful Krypton race, could do it, surely God could! And I know God can...but in this case, at least thus far, He hasn't.
So if He will not be reversing time, then all that is left is to move forward as best one can, even maimed and discouraged. I have many times been in the "slough of despond", when I really believed not only that it was impossible to climb out, but that I didn't even want to anymore if I could. It would be easier to slide beneath the muck and just go to sleep. Life is filled with challenges that slam us at times with the force of a spiked metal cudgel. The future looks bleak and there doesn't appear to be any point in staying the course anymore. But because at those times, most of us have no choice but to crawl out and stumble on, that is what we do. And I have found that new opportunities I had never envisioned suddenly materialized before me, and choices I couldn't even dream of one day making, then changed the course of my life.
Why does God do this to us? When Abraham was told by God to bind and sacrifice his only son Isaac, the son he had longed for and then been granted late in life, I imagine he was feeling pretty hopeless. He would not have been human not to have felt grief, despair, desire to flee, to find a way out, to disobey this odious command. But what God seemed to be building in Abraham was the strength to trust God, NO MATTER WHAT. This story disturbs me more strongly than any other story in the Bible. For years, I rebelled against God, partially because I could not serve a God who would ask such a thing of so frail and tender a being as a parent with such an ingrained and powerful instinct to protect one's progeny. Why would God do that to him?
I really cannot answer that, not fully. However, I have seen enough times in my life now what happens when I trust God through the very hard things in life. I see Him work miracles that may not have been what I thought I wanted, but in the end, were often what I needed. Chiseling character is not an easy task. Sometimes the Sculptor needs a very strong hammer, and must pound large chunks away to reveal the beauty lying in wait, imprisoned in the stone of a hard and recalcitrant heart. If the stone had feelings, it would hurt as badly as I hurt as the pieces shatter around me. But in the end, when it is completed, it will be magnificent.
Trust me, is what I think He is saying, even when it hurts beyond my ability to bear. It would be easier to spin the world backwards, just like Superman did, but then no one is moving forward, no one is becoming what time, experience, and the future will one day reveal. There is something better in front of us. Trust Him.
Psalm 56: 1-4, 13
Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack. My adversaries pursue me all day long;
in their pride many are attacking me. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me? For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
-save a dog-

Friday, March 23, 2012

Staying in the Game

"Vicky, has your copter hit three minutes yet? Can you give me some design advice?" asked the caller. This was a surprise. This person is nationally known in the hobby shop world. I won't identify him further, but he is probably the last person I would have expected to call for advice from me, a homeschool mom with ZERO model building experience until last year and the science aptitude to match.
"Well it hasn't hit three minutes yet. We hope it might. We do have some ideas."
"Are you willing to share them?"
This kind man had spent hours on the phone talking with me earlier in the month over our Science Olympiad helicopter questions. I had thoroughly picked his brain, so well in fact that our helicopter had flown longer than any he was working on with his own Science Olympiad team. He is in a different state, and since there is no national helicopter event, even if our team by some miracle moves on to nationals, we would not compete against him.
"Sure," I said, and I told him what we had discovered and what we hoped to do.
I spoke in simple laymen terms about what we were doing. This is because I can never remember the technical terms, though at one point, I did teach all that to the kids. He agreed with the changes I thought needed to be made, and then he told me what his kids were doing under his tutelage. He, unlike me, used the technical terms.
"Wait.... that sounds interesting. Can you describe that in a way I can understand?" I asked.
Probably not, he thought, and then he likely wondered anew how this neanderthal had managed to coach anything higher on the evolutionary chart than a termite.
But he took a deep breath and described how the kids designed the rotor blades to "wash out".
"Oh, we did that, kind of by accident," I said.
"Well I'm on my way to coach them now," he said, "Please update me on what happens after your testing next week."
I got off the phone with a chuckle. So I am the helicopter guru now? I am as close to being an expert on helicopter construction as a community organizer is to being president. Oh, even less than that.
And what makes me the expert is that I have the good luck to have two very smart kids on my team who respond well to bribes. I didn't give him the only real advice that is leading us to 3 minute duration helicopter flights- ice cream.

Later, I was on the phone with my brother. We were discussing my plans for the methane pipe community art contest, and began reminiscing about an investigative reporting stint I had conducted on his behalf many years ago. I won't go into detail, because I always had in the back of my mind to turn it into a book. It is a great story. However, I had written the report after weeks of research over 7 years ago. And then I sent the report to my brother, who seems to have lost it in one computer crash or another. I also seemed to have lost my extensive notes, and a CD filled with photos.
"You really should recreate it," said John, "It is a story that needs to be told."
So I got off the phone, again chuckling about the basis for that report. It was a highly technical engineering wonder that I had known nothing about. I had interviewed experts in the field, and written down their responses word for word because in reality, it was like speaking to a man from Mars. I had no idea half the time what they were talking about. But I continued to read and research and became probably one of the few people on earth who knew so much about this particular engineering wonder. The fact that I might have been one of the few people on earth who cared did not deter me. I wrote that article and even gave a copy to the expert. He told me it was one of the best things he had ever read on the subject.

But now, the article was lost. Still smiling at the ironies of life, how this bumbling know-nothing was faking out the experts, I went to my file cabinet. I had looked for that file on the article many times over the years and had had to conclude I had thrown it away in some cleaning purge. But I opened the file cabinet...and there it was. Clearly labeled. All the notes, interview, names, and the cd of photos. The article itself wasn't there, but I think I could write it much better today anyway. I emailed John to tell him, "This is very weird. I just found the file... I guess God wants me to write the book."
"It is divine intervention," he wrote, "Write the book. It needs to be written. I will help you." John is an engineer and does know what he is talking about.

And I guess God wants me to fly helicopters and maybe even other things that seem impossible with my meager resources and skills. This is a funny strange thing about my walk with God. It seems He almost never asks me to do things that I am qualified for. I am forever being led to attempt things that I really would and should not choose to do unless I felt His divine nudge. And the more I think about it, the more I see Him operate that way in the Bible as well. He made a simple shepherd the father of many nations, He made a lowly Jewish exile the Queen of Persia, He made a simple teenage girl the mother of the Messiah....He never seems to look at what we bring to the plate...all He asks is that we step up to it. Then He sometimes pitches life right in the sweet spot, so we have no choice but to smack a homerun. Not always, and never predictably, but sometimes, and that is what keeps us in the game.

Hebrews 13:20-21
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

-save a dog-

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How Attractive and Beautiful they Will Be

The oak are exploding into green fireworks atop their tall trunks. In the blink of an eye, the naked trees are clothed. I am still holding off on my allergy meds, preferring instead to claw at my itching eyes with a fork. Oak pollen is the allergen my body likes to eat itself from the inside out over. Once the oak are done spewing their dust of chemical warfare, I can relax and enjoy the rest of the spring. I hate taking medication of any kind. I have always felt that allowing one's body to defend itself is the best first choice. Sometimes, of course, that fails, and I move to plan B. The allergy meds are sitting on the shelf ready to be deployed should the warfare advance beyond this army of one's ability to gain any strategic advantage.

Meanwhile, a new intriguing project has presented itself. Our greenways here in Charlotte are all built along areas that used to be dumping grounds. They therefore lie atop dangerous deposits of methane gas. Or maybe methane gas is just here naturally. I guess I am not sure why our city lies atop potential explosives. If methane gas is slowly released into the atmosphere, it dissipates and is of no harm to anything but the olfactory sense which recognizes the smell of raw sewage decaying. This makes the Greenway experience less optimal than it could be, however, more optimal than innocently lighting a match and being blown into tiny pieces when the stream of methane erupts and detonates. The ingenious Greenway builders installed sewer pipes, tall metal straws with one end buried deep underground to tap the methane, and then channel the gas to the surface where it slowly escapes through the tall green pipes that extend several feet above Greenway walkers' noses. As you may imagine, amidst the primal beauty of the wetlands and forests returned to their natural beauty, the walk along the greenway is disrupted by the presence of these tall ugly pipes every quarter mile or so. Well the town of Matthews has decided to take action on this blight. They are asking area artists to submit ideas for turning the monstrosities into public art. Every time I pass those sewer pipes, I envision what they could be with a little imagination. It is a contest tailor made for me. Now, I have only done one other public art contest, and I did win a contract. This was many years ago. I decided, it was time for me to again try my hand at beautifying my community.

Of course, depending on when the project begins, I will be working on my sewer pipe in the midst of acres and acres of pollinating oak trees. I could be soaking in lethal doses of both methane and allergens. And what's worse...I may not be the only artist vying for this privilege. I might not even get the contract. I don't even know if it is paid, but I don't really care. I really want to transform a methane pipe into a thing of beauty.

So I wrote to the project manager and asked for details. I guess I am a little late hearing about the contest, as I have less than a week to submit my sketches. It will only take me this afternoon though to complete. I have had the vision of what those pipes should be for years now.

I love taking ugly, unwanted, undesirable things and transforming them. Anyone can take something beautiful and enhance it. It takes a whole different kind of skill set to see potential in the sewer pipes of life. This is my favorite aspect of God. God doesn't see us for what we are, raising ugly souls that sometimes selfishly spew poison and nastiness without even being aware of it. He sees us as we could be, as we will be if we allow His redemptive hand to mold and make us. One of the best pieces of relationship advice I ever heard, and I cannot remember where I first heard it, was to look upon each other as God sees us, as the person we will be when God is done with us, and act as though we have already become what God knows we can be.

I would love to explain this further, but I have a sewer pipe I want to beautify, and the deadline is looming.....

Zechariah 9:16-17
The Lord their God will save his people on that day
as a shepherd saves his flock.
They will sparkle in his land
like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be!

-save a dog-

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Choking the Word

Yellow dust is settling over Charlotte, blanketing cars, porch swings, and old dogs if they don't move much. My eyes are beginning to turn red and itchy. It is the onslaught of pollen. Nothing beautiful ever seems to come without a price. The price of this most glorious profusion of redbud, forsythia, dogwood, azalea, cherry trees, and Bradford Pears is pollen - thick mucous producing, eye watering, nose twitching pollen. And with the pollen, summer-like temperatures and humidity have returned. This is the season when I revisit the ageless question that always presents itself after huddling against the winter cold has passed....should I cut my hair short?

I know, I know. Some of you might still have thought that I had depths of soul, perception, insight, character, noble purpose.... at least on occasion. Now, for the sake of full disclosure, I have shattered that image. Yes, I am shallow and vain, and I know the world is full of woe...but still, I cannot help but agonize over whether to get a cute easy care Pixie cut, or stick with my increasingly long, hot, and troublesome thick hair. This decision is imminent because at the very least, I must get a trim. And my niece's wedding is coming soon, and I will be traveling to Vegas to attend that happy event. It would be so much easier to have really short hair on vacation. But should ease be my prime consideration?

For the first time I can remember in my entire life, a woman stopped me yesterday and told me I had "beautiful hair." In fact, she went on to say, "I wish my hair would do that."
I was dumbfounded. I didn't know what to say. My hair is thick, frizzy, waves in strange places, and is currently overdue for a trim by 3 months. it is also grey with the straw like wiriness of grey hair.
I had a flashback to what I recognize now was a pivotal event in my young teens. A gorgeous silken-haired blonde friend of mine and I were walking together, when a woman stopped us. She turned to my friend, Barb, and said, "You have stunningly gorgeous hair." Then she looked at me, must have seen the withdrawing spirit within me wishing I had Barb's hair, and said, "Oh, your hair is very nice too." She was trying to be kind, but even a shallow, shy teenager knows when she is being tossed an insincere bone.

But now back to the present. I now took a good hard look at this person who had the distinction of being the first human being in my lifetime to praise my hair. She looked to be around 65 or so, and had grey hair tightly wound to the top of her head where it sat in a flawless bun, like a trussed dumpling sitting on her head.
"Really?" I finally asked, "What exactly is my hair doing that you wish yours would do?"
"Lie straight like that. Mine is just tight corkscrew curls. I can't do a thing with it."
"Well your hairdo looks very certainly have found something to do with it!" I countered. I could not in all honesty praise it. I have not ever been a big fan of buns. I now understood the dilemma the woman who had praised my friend Barb's hair had faced when she noticed my hair frizzing to the side of all those golden, long, luxurious tresses. She had no choice but to lie.

"Oh I don't do this," said the bun lady,"Ever since I was 14 years old, I have gone every single week of my life to the hairdresser. She does it."
I thought of how the national debt could have been paid off with all the money she had sunk over her life into a tight coiled bun strangled on top of her head.
"Every week?" I asked incredulously, "And then do you just leave it all week?"
(unwashed? slept on? untouched for a week?)
She nodded, "It is all I can do with it."

Many thoughts and questions flashed through my mind. First and foremost, it was not attractive. Why did she do this awful expensive thing and not see that she was a slave to something that really didn't matter? Why didn't she just cut it short and let those curls unfurl strikingly against her scalp like Shirley Temple? How many hours of sleep had she lost trying not to smash that silly bun perched atop her head? How many chances to swim in rivers had she avoided to keep that bun clean and pristine for the week till her next appointment? How much money had she spent for weekly visits to a hairdresser for 50 years or so? But of course, I could not and did not ask her a single one. Mostly because I had now said goodbye and moved on, agonizing over whether I should get my hair cut short or not, particularly now that I knew one person thought it was beautiful. It did occur to me that perhaps the opinion of the woman imprisoned by her bun was not the opinion I should be most honoring.

When Jesus is telling His disciples how to grow a life of faith, He does so with the Parable of the seed. He reminds them that seed will grow depending on where it is planted and how carefully it is nurtured. If it is planted on rocky ground, it cannot take root. If it is not tended, weeds will overtake and choke the life from it. He urges them to understand that the shallow worries of this world are weeds- they choke the life out of faith, stunting its growth, dampening its potential to bear fruit. If it is planted on shallow ground by shallow people with shallow concerns over shallow will be blown away by the first wind of adversity.

but here is the important question...will the wind of adversity be blowing through long flowing silky locks, or short bouncy pixie waves?

Mark 4:19
but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

-save a dog-

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rest in Safety

"I was asked to go to officer school after the battle at New Guinea ," said Comer, munching his extra crispy fried chicken in the back seat. It was strange to be envisioning WW2 while the world sparkled in springtime splendor around us. The cherry trees were all abloom and we were slowly driving through a beautiful pink dappled subdivision. Evelyn sat beside him, and glanced at him when he spoke, but was more focused on the buttery biscuit she nibbled on. I hate Alzheimers, I thought, not for the last time.

I knew Comer had fought and led troops in New Guinea against the Japanese. I had not known what a critical battle it had been. Coincidentally that week, Asherel and I had studied the battle he was in. It had preserved Australia from being overrun by the Japanese. It was considered a pivotal battle of the South Pacific theater in WW2. The Battle of Milne Bay in 1942 was the first time the Allies decisively defeated the Japanese on land, forcing them to withdraw and lose their toehold in Australia. I could not picture my gentle friend holding the gnarled hand of his somewhat bewildered wife hoisting a gun against anyone.

"Yep," said Comer, "They asked me when the battle ended. I was the first soldier in the South Pacific to be selected for officer school."
"The very first?" I exclaimed, "You must have been so proud! "
My old friend is full of surprises. I was driving around a bone fide hero, feeding him fast food and learning of courage and bravery that was settling like dust in the past with so few to stir it up. He smiled with a nod, while his wife of 60 years looked straight ahead, seemingly oblivious to the profusion of cherry blossoms against the flawless blue sky.
"I sure was, me and my brother both. They sent us to Australia for the training school. Problem is, we never got to finish."
"Oh no! Why not?"
"Well we both got malaria so bad in New Guinea that we failed the medical exam. And my brother had it worse than me."
"That must have been disappointing."
"Sure was. Our battle in Milne Bay was the turning point of the war. When the war ended, I resigned. They made me a corporal, but I wanted no more of war, so I got out."

I was glad he was able to resign, to taste some of the goodness of life and leave the horror behind him. The malaria had ravaged his body for seven years, but he had gone on to live a long and rewarding life. He had just celebrated his 93rd birthday. If only Evelyn could resign from Alzheimers. She had been silent the entire drive. I had played the CD of 50s music quietly so Comer could reminisce about the war. But now he fell silent, and I turned up the volume on the tape. Then I heard her sweet soprano voice singing for the first time that drive. She was singing one of my favorites, Red Sails in the Sunset. Comer smiled at her as she sang. It was one of the most popular songs in the 50s. The Beatles even recorded it in 1962. It is a song of longing, of knowing that just on the horizon, better things await. It is the hope of love returning, and no more longing unfulfilled. It is the glorious beauty of a sunset that will slowly turn to night, and then the eternal hope of tomorrow. In my mind, it is a song that reminds me of God, and His sweet promise that there will be a safe harbor one day, when we can lower tattered sails, and worn out travelers will be welcomed home.

Red sails in the sunset
Way out of the sea
Oh carry my love one
Home safely to me

She sailed at the dawning
Oh way out and blue
Red sails in the sunset
I'm counting on you

Red sails in the sunset
Way out of the sea
Oh carry my love one
Home safely to me

Sweet wind we must borrow
Make straight for the shore
We'll marry tomorrow
And you'll go sailing no more

Red sails in the sunset
Way out of the sea
Oh carry my love one
Home safely to me

Job 11:18
You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

-save a dog-

Monday, March 19, 2012

Standing Right Behind Me

I came home from church alone- the others still in their Bible study classes. I had to eat and zip off to my book signing where my three fans were eagerly awaiting me. But the house was eerily silent. Honeybun greeted me, but her greeting is always quiet. The noisy, whining, barking Lucky was nowhere in sight. I looked in all the rooms, then I went out to the backyard to call him.

Just what I needed an hour before my book signing.... Lucky to escape. I wasn't expecting hordes of people. The paper hadn't done an article on me this time. I was now old news. And even worse, NC State was playing in the NCAA tournament right during my book signing hours. I knew few people would be out looking for inspiring books about how God works in their lives when their team was on television.

"Lucky!" I called out the back door, slamming crackers in my mouth. Grab a quick few hundred calories and go get my sneakers to start prowling the neighborhood for my stupid dog....
And then Lucky came wandering from some corner and nudged the back of my legs as I yelled his name to the squirrels pausing in the unfurling oak branches.
"Where were you?" I asked him, twirling around.
He wagged his tail.

At the book signing, a couple of people stopped by my lonely table and actually asked me about my book. The first woman was an ex-Naval officer. She told me she really loved to read, but she could never put her thoughts in book form and she really admired authors for that reason. So we talked about writing, and as we spoke, I knew she was not at all interested in my book. She was interested in why writers write and how writers write, but not really in what I had written. Still, the store was virtually empty and it was nice to pass the time talking with her. And then all of a sudden, she picked up one of my books and said, "I'm going to get one for my mom. She is the godliest woman I know. She is sweet and kind, and I think she will like this. Will you sign it for her?"
"I would be honored too. I can't think of a better gift from my daughter, however, than to know that she spoke of me as highly as you just spoke of your mother."
"Oh, everyone speaks more highly of their mother behind their backs," laughed the young lady.

Sometime later, a man and his son wandered in, and then came straight to my table.
"We saw the sign outside about your book and just had to come in!" he said.
("A sure sale!" I thought.)
"Tell me about your book," he said.
So I told him it was about God sending me evidence of His presence in often very strange and mysterious ways, how even when I didn't believe in Him, He clearly believed in me, and was watching over me, and gently urging me towards Him. I told of some of the miracles that had at the time seemed strange, but I had not believed then that there really were such things as angels interceding on my behalf.
"But in retrospect, I think now they were. The Bible tells us we will entertain angels unawares, and I think I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of them at times."
He nodded, his son nodded, and they even shared a few of their own miracles they had witnessed. I prepared my pen to sign the many copies of my books that I was sure now they would purchase for themselves and all their friends.
"Well thanks for chatting with us," the man said, and they left, no heavy bag of books swinging from their arms...not even one.

I thought later about the day's non-climactic events. First, a dog that I was sure was lost, only to find he was standing right behind me. Then a certain uninterested reader who bought my book, and a certain interested reader who didn't buy it. Life is full of enigmas. It is so often not what we expect. As soon as it feels like I have it all figured out, it pulls a fast one on me, reminds me to expect the unexpected, but be careful about expecting the expected. What on earth was God trying to say to me? That I may know Him, but totally not understand Him? Was that even possible? Cause if I were scripting the day, I would have had a crowd ten miles long lined up for my books. After all, He's the protagonist, the hero of the story! I certainly wouldn't have had the committed believer pass the book by, while the sceptic who loved her mother decided her mother must have a copy. Which is probably why I am not God.

On my way to the book signing, I had prayed, "Lord, please send the person who most needs your message of hope, who most needs my book to buy it today."
And as I drove away, I remembered the ex-Naval officer's parting words as she walked out the door, "And when my mother is done with it, I bet she will let me read it." Maybe like my dog, God's purpose was standing right behind me, and I was missing it.

Philippians 2:13
for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

-save a dog-

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Being Careful

I noticed on Facebook that a friend's cat at the ripe old age of 15 years had died. I wrote her a note of condolence, and then had to contact her over another issue later. So I sent an email, again with a heartfelt note about how hard it is to say goodbye to a beloved pet, especially one who had been a part of her life for 15 years. I assured her I was praying for her and her family in this hard time.

Later, I received an email back,
"Thank you for your sweetness, Vicky....but we don't own any pets."

This is why people like me shouldn't be on Facebook. With somewhat alarming regularity, I am sending appropriate notes to the wrong which point, they become inappropriate. I went back over my Facebook posts to try and figure out whose cat had died. I finally found it. The bereaved owner is not someone I personally know, and am actually not certain why she is one of my Facebook friends, but her name is very similar to the friend whose cat didn't die, the friend who doesn't even own a cat with any potential to die. My life is one big, giant Malaprop.

Last week, I thought I was responding on Facebook to a friend about her birthday, waxing poetic about how I prayed the sun would beam its warmth with special rays of golden balm upon her on this glorious day. It turned out, I posted that to the stranger whose name was right above my friend's, someone I didn't know, and someone whose Facebook post I had commented on had nothing to do with sunshine, or birthdays, or even happy things. I did receive a message back from the stranger, thanking me for my optimistic comment. That one was much better received than my posting, "That's nothing your own son hasn't tried" to a Facebook thread on sexual abuse. I thought I was posting to a friend about climbing high and dangerous places, but then with horror realized I had responded to the post above that one, the post about sexual abuse.

I need a new motto: "Read twice, post once." I am too careless to be a responsible Facebook user. God has tried to warn me about this tendency over and over again. How many times have I come across Bible verses that remind me to be careful? Thousands! We are never encouraged to throw caution to the wind, and impulsively say the first stupid thing that comes into our head. We are however told to carefully consider our words, our actions, our beliefs.

My only comfort in all this is that my good friend's cat is not dead.

Haggai 1:5
Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways.

PS- Today is the big day! My book signing for God Drives a Tow Truck, 1:30-3:30 at Park Road Books, in Park Road Plaza, off of Park Rd. The book is free with the purchase of an authentic autograph that only costs $12.99.

-save a dog-

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Driving out Snakes

It is St. Patrick's Day.

I've seen bluebirds flitting among the budding branches. Flowers are everywhere. And it's only St.Patrick's day, a holiday I know I have celebrated in parkas and green boots in past years. And my hair is already frizzing- as sure a sign of a humid summer on the way as a groundhog's lost shadow. All the ski mountains gave up and closed, after a string of 80 degree days and a webcam that could no longer disguise the daffodils blooming on the ski slopes. Spring is springing with alarming and early gusto. Which all means only one thing- the copperheads will be coming out of hibernation and sizzling in their terrifying s curves across the sidewalks making my every step one of calculated terror. I love the South and its warm beckoning climate, but I hate its snakes. It is almost worth moving back to the land of the midnight sun and 8 month winters to avoid the chance of encountering those triangular poisonous slithering heads.

Yesterday, I was setting up an agility course for Asherel and pulled the old tunnel out from under the deck. Something began squirming and slithering in that horror inducing s waggle. I looked more closely after banging my head on the deck and nearly splitting my tongue in three places as my jaw was forced closed on impact. It was not a baby snake, as I had feared. It was a worm... a large and gruesome worm which is almost as bad as a snake, but at least is not poisonous. Unlike every other species which has cute babies, baby copperheads are not cute, and are even more poison packed than their mothers. WHY must the season of beauty, the season of flowers, be marred by the presence of hissing, squirming, poisonous snakes? Not good community organizing!

But what does all this have to do with St. Patrick's day, which is one of my favorite holidays? I love St Patrick's Day because green brings out my eyes. It is a holiday color coded to go well with my skin tone and features. But, even more importantly, it is the celebration of a saint who had the good sense to drive out all the snakes. Admittedly, this is just a rumor, and I am not sure it is well substantiated. But there is no doubt that there are indeed no snakes in Ireland. Now some naysayers claim this was not St. Patrick's doing, but a matter only of location, location, location. Snakes just can't swim across the ocean and so they never were able to migrate to Ireland in the first place. There were never any snakes in Ireland for St. Patrick to drive out. This legend, it is claimed, is merely a symbol. St. Patrick was a devout Christian, and did bring the gospel tirelessly to the people of Ireland. The snake-outing is symbolic of his driving paganism from his beloved isle. In fact, the shamrock, that lovely three leaf clover is symbolic of the Trinity. And so maybe on a deeper, subconscious level, I have always loved St. Patrick's day because it reminds me of the love of God and righteousness, and the desire to cleanse the world of evil influence. It is just serendipity that the traditional green garb of the day compliments my eyes, eyes that can not bear to look on a slithering, squirming snake.

Habakkuk 1:13
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

Luke 10:19
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

-save a dog-

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pure Joy

I dreamt that I was standing at a barn door, and saw a very pregnant mare walk by me out to the field. I followed her,and as I watched, she gave birth to a foal. The foal stood up instantly, and instead of shaky, wobbly legs one would expect, he walked steadily and majestically across the hillside with his mother.

We had our first test of our helicopters the kids made for the state Science Olympiad competition. It flew a full minute longer than our 5th place regional contest copter. Like the foal in my dream, it didn't wobble at all. Well, one of our test copters did catch the breeze from an opening door, flip upside down and drill straight into the carpet...but that minor glitch could not mar the euphoria we all felt knowing we have an awesome helicopter for the state contest. And we still have 6 weeks to go...lots of time to build another one. There is fire in the team's eyes now. I am not sure if it is the incredible performance of the copters, or the increasingly pricey bribes I am offering. When the coach knows less than the team, it is critical that the coach be a master of motivation, which means the coach discerns the team's favorite ice-cream very quickly. I know some kids do academic tasks out of the sheer love of learning, and all they need to be motivated is the connection of new neurons in their sparking brains. I am sure this is true of my team as well, as long as those new neurons are bathed in Rita's Homemade Custard and Ices.

It has been a grueling year. 9th grade is enough to kill the hardiest homeschool mom, especially if you want to throw in an AP class or two. My own year of publishing two books and working on a third while coaching two Science Olympiad teams and running my art classes while homeschooling has not always resulted in the happy smiley face I want to be seen sporting around town. We are currently reading about FDR. While I am not sure how I feel about the enormous expansion of government control he presided over, I have to admire his courage in the face of adversity. He was stricken with polio, before entering politics, and his friends all told him any chance of a political career was over.
"When you spend months trying to wiggle your big toe," he wrote, "Everything else seems easy."
i had Asherel write an essay on that sentence. It is so easy to give up, to blame others, to blame God, to wallow in despair, to grovel in self pity, to beg for handouts, or to just end it all and give up. But if you persevere....sometimes if you persevere, helicopters fly to the sky and hover there as though carried in God's hand and little boys walk by, and gaze up rapturously and cry, "Wow! That is so cool! How do you do that!?"

James 1: 2-4, 12
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

PS- My book signing of God Drives a Tow Truck is this Sunday, 1:30-3:30, at Park Road Books, in Park Road Plaza, off of Park Road. Tell all your friends. It would be so cool to have a line snaking out the door and around the parking lot all the way to the homes of all the agents who rejected me.....

-save a dog-

Thursday, March 15, 2012

In the Hands of the Master Artist

"What do you guys want to draw next week?" I asked my art class, as we all put our finishing touches on the lovely cathedral we had drawn.
"A hamburger!" shouted Josh.
I expected that from Josh, but then the whole group began nodding vigorously.
"Yes! Let's draw a hamburger!" they chorused.
"You guys are too good for a hamburger," I said.
"No one is too good for a hamburger," said one of them solemnly.
"You drew broccoli in college," Josh reminded me.
" is not that you can't draw a hamburger is just..." I sputtered to a standstill.

Oh admit it, Missy Art know that if you send the kids home with pictures of hamburgers, their parents might not enroll their students in your class next year. What kind of lunatic has an art class draw a hamburger? I began trying to envision how I could include a hamburger in the picture but still have other elements that would teach them important skills. Maybe a hamburger climbing Mt. Everest...? Or a hamburger floating over Niagara Falls?

I did draw broccoli in college, over the course of a whole semester. I liked to tell that story to my students when they complained about the subject matter I would produce for them in my classes.
"An artist can make art out of anything," I would tell them,"Did I ever tell you about the broccoli I drew in college?"
"Yes Mrs. Kaseorg," they would groan in unison.

And I really do believe that. It is not really what you draw that makes it is how you draw it and the intent behind it. That was one of the aspects of our art education that was difficult to objectively define. There is a difference between illustration and art, and I suspect it is similar to the difference between karaoke and a real singer. it has to do with motivation and soul and intent, and it is hard to pin down, but most people know the difference when they see it if they have any training in the area. One can be technically quite good, but still not a true artist. An artist makes you see the commonplace in a way you never saw it before, with new eyes. A masterpiece is when the simple is made sublime. It can't be taught. It can only be nurtured.

I think that is in part why I believe every human being is art, created by the greatest Artist of all time. We were "knit together in our mother's womb" and created for a purpose. Every one of us. Even the ones that aren't as perfect and beautiful as a Master Artist could undoubtedly make them should He so choose. Even those of us with seemingly insignificant roles, or dull and humdrum lives. All of us were envisioned before the Artist had even gathered His tools or drawn in the background. He knew exactly where we would be painted in, and furthermore, He had a reason for every bright dab of us. In the hands of the Master, everything can become a masterpiece.

"All right, send me pictures of the hamburgers you want to draw," I suggested as the class filed out.

Ephesians 1:11
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

-save a dog-

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Almost Missed It

As we scrambled to the car, and I screeched the lever into reverse, Asherel leaped in beside me. This was trip number two of three that day off to a class. If anyone ever tells you that homeschool moms have a cushy life because they get to stay home, please set them straight in as nonviolent a manner as possible. Cause if they say that to my face on a day like yesterday, I cannot guarantee I won't have Gandhi flipping in his grave. (Gandhi is dead, isn't he? I should really research this stuff before I flap my tongue.) Anyway, for a moment, as Asherel snapped on her seatbelt, and her books tumbled to the floor, I glanced up. Our driveway ends at a double gate that opens onto our back yard, directly in line with a tangle of forsythia bushes.

I stopped my frenzied movements, and in stillness, soaked in the beauty of the forsythia.
"The forsythia are blooming," I said quietly, "I hadn't even noticed."
It is not like forsythia are subtle. They wave long whippy arms that are covered in tiny yellow blossoms. It is like the sun exploded and left millions of bits of itself sticking to the branches. No one can look at a forsythia and miss it. Except me. How long had it been in bloom? How many frantic leaps into the car, pointing right at those resplendent bushes had I made that week and not noticed the forsythia in bloom? For not the first time, I wondered what was wrong with me. How could I miss the forsythia in bloom?

Later that day, I looked out from the sunroom and saw a whole line of daffodils blooming along our fence. I hadn't noticed them either. I spent more time than usual yesterday reading the Bible. I needed some shoring up, some slowing down, some regaining of perspective. I don't know what it is. Part of it is the impossibly busy schedule as we navigate high-school. Part of it is the lousy economy and its direct impact on us. Part of it is the "cubital tunnel syndrome" and the constant ache, weakness, and splinting necessary to try to heal my arms. (I just got a new full arm splint to sleep in....I look like Frankenstein with my arms both splinted straight and sticking out like telephone poles.) But all those issues are not the full answer. I think all that is just an excuse. No one should ever miss the forsythia blooming.

We are watching Superman (the movie) in segments when we can this week. When school doesn't end too late, and there are no pressing after dinner events, we have settled on the couch, dinner plates balanced on our laps while drooling dogs surround us, and watched the man who can leap tall buildings, stop bullets, and outrun freight trains. But I know what happened to the real man, the actor who portrayed Superman. Christopher Reeves was riding his horse over a jump when the horse balked, Reeves fell off, broke his neck, and became a quadriplegic. He died not long ago (before or after Gandhi?). I wonder if he had felt he really was Superman at times. I wonder if he felt invincible, and that the world would always be his to grab and enjoy? I wonder if like me, he just assumed the forsythia would be there when he had time to look? I can't watch that movie without a tinge of sadness for a man who discovered he wasn't Superman.

I paused and watched the wind tugging at the yellow profusion of the forsythia.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" I sighed to my daughter, as I slowly backed the car out of the driveway.

Ecclesiastes 11: 7-10
Light is sweet,
and it pleases the eyes to see the sun. However many years anyone may live,
let them enjoy them all.
But let them remember the days of darkness,
for there will be many.
Everything to come is meaningless.
You who are young, be happy while you are young,
and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
God will bring you into judgment.
So then, banish anxiety from your heart
and cast off the troubles of your body,

Job 36:24-26
Remember to extol his work,
which people have praised in song. All humanity has seen it;
mortals gaze on it from afar. How great is God—beyond our understanding!
The number of his years is past finding out.

-save a dog-

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fighting the Wrong Enemies

The season of sneezing is upon us. The oak are just starting to spawn...and that means oak pollen is in the air, and that means better living through pharmaceutics for me. I am as fortunate an allergy sufferer as possible. I only turn into a wretched sniveling mess for 2 weeks. Some years I can get by with just a large box of tissues. Other years, I need drugs, but only for 2 weeks. The rest of the year, as long as I don't eat Hazel nuts or papaya, I live allergy free. If one must suffer allergies, this is the best kind to have.

The whole concept of allergies is disturbing. There is nothing intrinsically harmful with oak pollen. An allergic reaction is triggered when the body starts thinking it is harmful and starts attacking itself. One can even die because the body is foolishly fighting something it should not be fighting in the first place. This is stupid.

But I am in allergic mode in many areas of life, often without knowing it. I fight an enemy that is not really my enemy...until I start fighting. I won't go into details, because if you read my blog with any regularity, you already know what a neurotic blob I am, but I bet some of you can relate. I think many of us are turning against our own body fighting things that never meant to harm us, and really would not, except that we hurt ourself in the fight. I am sometimes my own worst enemy.

I love a newsletter with folksy, informative stories and great animal supplies/gifts put out by Gina Keesling of . In one newsletter, she talks about a horse with a fear of ropes, and how she goes about trying to convince the horse that ropes are really not something he should fear. She is a fun and witty writer, and I can picture that poor horse all in a lather over something as innocuous as a rope. I empathize completely with that horse. I don't want to...I want to save my energy to only fight real enemies, but time and time again, I am balking at ropes.

Paul of the Bible starts out when we first meet him as Saul, an adversary of Christians. He hates them, actively persecutes them, and fights against any mention of Jesus. Until Jesus meets him on the road to Damascus, and with an unseen presence but thundering voice asks, "Why are you kicking against the goad?"
In other words, "Why are you fighting something you can't budge and is not the enemy? In fact, not only am I not the enemy, I am the only true friend any man can completely rely on."

The irony is that after that encounter, Paul becomes one of Christianity's most ardent defenders, and his real physical enemies and troubles multiply. Beatings, disease, shipwrecks, imprisonment, exile are just a few of the adventures he gets to battle when he stops battling God. And even more interestingly, that is when he begins to finally know peace. Sometimes we are fighting the wrong enemy. Even worse, sometimes we are fighting what we think is the Enemy when it could be our greatest defender. Like me, sometimes our bodies our wrestling the pollen that is responsible for one day bringing the leaves that will shield us from the cancerous sun, or like the horse, running from ropes that are tethering him safely to a loving Master.

Acts 9: 4-6 KJV
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

-save a dog-

Monday, March 12, 2012

The One as Well as the Other

Honeybun looked like she had never been on an agility field before. During her classes Sunday, she ran around rather than over jumps, trotted, stopped, looked around, glanced at Asherel, and sometimes even just walked. When she did jump, she knocked the bars down. She almost never drops bars. Something was clearly off with our champion Agility dog. ( I use that word 'champion' accurately due to a useful writer's tool called "literary license" which can be defined as " a lie, or falsehood used to advance the plot of a story.") Fortunately, Asherel didn't seem overly upset. In fact, she seemed amused. Honeybun is a willing creature. For her to be so clueless, she must have had some unvoiced issue.

Unbeknownst to me, while I was working a class, our friends had sent Asherel and Honeybun to the on-site dog chiropractor. I know we didn't win the raffle for a chiropractic session, so they must have bribed, bartered, paid, or threatened the chiropractor to take a look at Honeybun. The doctor confirmed that something was indeed up with Honeybun. I returned from working the class and was handed a summary sheet.
"What does this mean?" I asked, pointing to some letters at the top of the spinal chart.
"It means her head isn't screwed on straight," said my friend Laura.
"Well we already knew that. How about these letters here?" Those letters were in the lumbar region of the spine, the hip area.
"That is where she was off," said Laura, "She has muscle tension down there and seems stiff. It may have been from compensating when her foot was hurt and she was limping, or maybe it was when she fell yesterday."
(She had wiped out on a sharp turn to a jump and Laura had seen her hobble when she stood back up. I had missed the hobble, but the wipe out was pretty spectacular.)
Anyway, the prognosis is good, and all we have to do is ice the area. When we got home, Asherel put one of Honeybun's cute little outfits on her. This particular little doggy shirt has a large pocket over the hip area. Asherel slipped the ice packs into the hip pocket. Voila, a doggy hip icing shirt! Honeybun trotted over to show me, with her hips bulging with the healing ice packs.
"Doesn't do much for her figure, but very ingenious solution," I told Asherel.

She has another agility trial in two weeks, which I am happy about. This was probably the worst trial for Honeybun in her history as an agility dog. It is the first one she hasn't qualified in at least one class. And she usually brings home 2 or 3 ribbons. She didn't seem concerned though. And I can honestly say that it was a glorious weekend. Even without ribbons. I was touched beyond words by the solicitous care of my friends, warmed by a beautiful sun on a clear blue sky day, and loved working the classes and watching my friends do well. I enjoy seeing Honeybun and Asherel win...but it was ok that this time she didn't. She and I both went to bed around 8:00 and she was snoring almost instantly.

I thought about the blessings of God as I was drifting off blissfully into oblivion and much needed sleep. It is very easy to praise God for His bounty when all is right with the world. It is not quite as easy when all is not. I thought about how when Honeybun wins, I am ecstatic, and much of my thoughts of the contest weekend center around those magnificent runs that earn the blue ribbon. However, when she didn't win, I had to look around for all the other wonderful things happening- the kindness of friends, the beautiful day, the serene surroundings, the joy of volunteering and being a part of something more than oneself, the bond of humans and dogs and their mutual love of something so simple and fun as running and jumping.

King Solomon did not always come to the right conclusions about life, I don't think, in Ecclesiastes, but he did understand that God is the God of both the wondrous circumstances in life, and the struggles in Life. If God is the Author, He wrote the good and the bad. And like all good writers, there is a reason and purpose and sense in all of it. The careful reader doesn't skip over the unpleasant sections or he loses the richness of the complete story.

This weekend, I met many dogs that were rescue dogs, pulled off the street just like our Honeybun was. Like our own dog, they had been starving, discarded, unloved, and homeless. Now they were running and jumping beside a beloved master, with the sun glinting off shiny coats. It was a weekend of God's bounty, I thought as I closed my eyes and Honeybun's snores filled the room.

Ecclesiastes 7:14
When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
as well as the other.

-save a dog-

Sunday, March 11, 2012

When Not Winning is Still Winning

Well, Honeybun fell down on a sharp turn heading towards the triple jump...and then tried to jump it from a near standstill. She knocked down the bar...and that was pretty much how the rest of the day went for her. It was certainly not the best day she has ever had in agility. However, the trees lining the fields were all just beginning to bloom, the sun was shining, and the carolina blue sky was totally clear but for hawks riding above us on the wind. It was a magnificent backdrop for not winning.

Maybe it was her hurt paw pad, or maybe it was that Asherel has been sick off and on the whole winter and hasn't practiced much...or maybe it was just an off day. Those happen. Still, after the class ended, the judge happened to walk by me on a break and saw me holding Honeybun.
"She almost did it!" said the judge.
I didn't ask, "Almost did what? Wiped out ten jumps instead of just one?"
"She'll get it next time!" said the judge, "I was rooting for her! it was a nice run!"
(It was? No, it really wasn't, but what a sweetheart that judge was to try to encourage a young handler!)
"Yes, she will," I answered smiling, "It can only get better from here!"
(Sadly, it didn't...but maybe next time....)
The judge scootched Honeybun behind her ears, and smiling, moved on to judge her next class.

Funny, I thought, I had prayed that morning that I would be a blessing to someone today...but instead, someone blessed me. In fact, lots of people blessed me. Agility people are some of the nicest people I know. Throughout the day, I was standing next to someone who was kind to me.
"Vicky," said Laura, "I was a little worried about Honeybun when she fell. I just want you to know that Danielle and I put Asherel's name on our raffle ticket to try to win an appointment for Honeybun with the chiropractor." I am not sure I even said thankyou. I was so stunned that anyone would notice, care, or make such a sweet gesture to my daughter and our little dog. And I felt a little jealous too... I could use some chiropractic adjustment myself....

I don't think we won the raffle. We left before we heard who won, but we will be back this morning. Maybe a chiropractic session will be waiting for Honeybun. So she didn't win any ribbons today, but I have a deep sense of gratitude anyway, and my head is filled with images of carolina blue sky and angels swooping on the wind.

2 Samuel 2:5
"The Lord bless you for showing this kindness ..."

-save a dog-

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Be Ready

Another agility guru suggested that before the agility trial, we replace the bandage on Honeybun's injured pad with liquid bandaid. I took off the wrap over her scraped pad, and could see no evidence of any injury anymore. I guess the medicinal honey had done its work. However, just to be safe, I put liquid bandaid over the pad. She flinched, so I guess there is still some sensitivity but she didn't limp so we are off to the agility trial this morning. Of course, between two bouts of Asherel's being sick and then Honeybun's injured pad, she has had almost no practice for this trial.
"It's ok," assured our instructor, "They are ready."
"It's ok," assured Asherel, "We are ready."
Honeybun licked off the liquid bandage and looked at me. She looked prepared for anything we might offer, as long as it was edible.
"Are you ready, Honeybun?"
Her ears perked. She might have imagined she heard the word "biscuit" and she is always ready for a biscuit.

Well, I don't know about them, but I am ready. I packed the car yesterday with chairs and the portable crate, suntan lotion, sun hat, extra jacket, water, snacks, iPod for drawing, tentative course times, volunteer schedule, phone, chargers, and umbrella. Then I gathered 5 baggies of goodies for Honeybun, one for each run over the next two days. I packed that with the 5 warm-up hotdogs, and collapsible bowl. Then I sat down and wondered what it is that makes us want to get up at the crack of dawn and do this. There is so much preparation for a total of 5 minutes of feverish activity over the course of two long days. She will do 5 runs in two days, and each run takes roughly one minute. The packing the car and gathering everything we need took me half a day. Preparation is most of what agility is all about, I decided.

Being prepared is a big deal in the Bible. There are scads of references. It is clear the God is keen on preparation. Not once does He recommend flying by the seat of our pants and hoping for the best. The Bible is littered with admonitions to prepare for battle, prepare for the sabbath, prepare for the coming of the Messiah, prepare for the Day of the Lord, prepare for the bride, prepare for the King, prepare for the Passover, prepare for the feasts, prepare our hearts, prepare our minds, prepare to meet our maker.....There is no doubt, God wants us to be ready.

"Rise and shine," I commanded to Asherel and the little dog, "Prepare to leave in five minutes!"
Honeybun decided I had not said the word "biscuit" and went back to sleep.

Ezekiel 38:7
"'Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them."

-save a dog-

Friday, March 9, 2012

Faithful Promises

Comer called me yesterday- his 93rd birthday is Sunday. The Home is having a party for him and he wanted to invite me. I felt wretched- but I can't go. He covered masterfully, but I could still detect disappointment in his voice. We have the dog agility trial all day, and then we race out of that if it ends early to go to Asherel's Scholastic Art Gold key award ceremony. Then we will try to make Sunday night church. I just saw Comer earlier in the week, but he hadn't mentioned his birthday. I sent him a card when I found out, but I felt really bad. I know I am one of his few links to a life he cherished and had to give up here in the neighborhood. Too many commitments! Sometimes, there is not enough of me to go around.

Yesterday, I sat in the carpool lane waiting for Asherel to come out of her Driver's Ed class. I noticed that while our neighborhood trees are bursting with blossoms, the trees around the school were all still bare limbed. It was a sunny 70 degree day, but the trees still looked like winter. Just two miles away, however, lining my neighborhood streets, the Bradford Pear trees were all bowing under the heavy load of white flowers exploding from every branch. Sometimes one is just a few paces away from joy and not even aware of it. Disappointing hardships and hopes deferred are beginning to weigh on my spirit lately. I empathized with those naked, forlorn trees.

I think God was talking to me as I drew those bare limbed trees. Right now, some things feel like they are fruitless, hopeless even, comfortless, barren...but just around the corner, there is fullness of joy, the sweet scent of burgeoning promise of renewal, the beauty and promise of rich and fertile hope and rebirth. Even those naked limbs before me would be unfurling soft green leaves within a few short weeks.

I wonder if I manage to live 93 years on earth, I will ever keep the promise of spring so securely in my heart that I won't feel dismay when the sun shines but it seems to be extending its life giving warmth everywhere except where I am standing....that all the trees are flowering except those right before me?
"I can't make the party Comer, much as I want to! But in two Mondays, can I take you out and we will celebrate then?"
"That would be grand! I will look forward to that!" he said.
Then Asherel came out of her class, and we drove back to the bowers of heavily laden Bradford Pear trees, arching over the street like a cathedral.

Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

-save a dog-

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Bitter Replaced with Honey

oh no. With just 3 days to go till Honeybun's weekend agility trial, she was limping. We checked over her legs and couldn't find any painful spot, but then examined her pads. One had a scrape on it. Not really even a cut...but obviously it hurt. Fortunately, we have the world's best agility instructors and they offered to have me bring her to them and they would wrap it for me and assess whether she would be able to run over the weekend.

"I know this is going to sound strange," said Laura, "But first we put honey on it."
This does sound strange, but I have a lot of homeopathic friends and had heard of this wound treatment. And it was particularly fitting for my dog, Honeybun, to have Honeyfeet. Laura wrapped Honeyfeet's foot, and put a cute little blue bootie on top of the wrapping.
"She should be fine by Saturday," Laura told me.

Honey does do miraculous things.
For example, the Bible tells us that the promised Land is a land of "milk and honey" which was so compelling that the Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert to reach it. I am a little lactose intolerant, so I could do without the milk part, but who can resist honey!? Furthermore, we all know you catch more flies with honey than with a flyswatter. This is symbolic advice, for those of you who never took a course in literary analysis, and means that violence never works as well as gluttony. The Bible also tells us over and over again that honey is the sweetest physical food, but it is not as sweet as Wisdom. I rarely taste Wisdom, at least not as ravenously as I should, so cannot vouch for the veracity of this, but if anything is sweeter than honey, then it is probably worth pursuing. And now this newfangled healing power of honey on top of all its other pleasing attributes!

But in my musings about honey, I also was struck by the irony of honey. Here is the sweetest substance known to man...and yet to get at it, one has to survive the danger and pain of bee stings. One has to cover oneself in armor, as the beekeepers do, so that the stinger cannot penetrate to their skin, and even then one has to know what one is doing to extract the honey safely. Protection, knowledge, training.... without those three things, one is highly unlikely to get the honey and live long enough to taste it. I think in some ways, living for God is like that. We are told that there is an adversary who wants nothing more than to snatch us from the pursuit of God. We are told we need to protect ourselves, to put on the "full armor of God", including things like a breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, etc. We need to have knowledge of God, which we rigorously pursue by pouring over His Word. Finally, we need to have training in the ways of God by seeking to obey what He has commanded of us. With those three elements in place, we are much more likely to reach the land of milk and honey without being mortally stung.

After Honeyfeet's pad was all honeyed up and wrapped and bootied, she trotted happily with no limp to the car. How does honey work, I wondered? Apparently, it's sticky viscosity is good to seal the wound, sometimes replacing the need for stitches; its properties have a slow release antibacterial agent that kills the germs, and if one is forced to chew off the affected limb, it tastes much better. If only all of life's wounds could be so quickly dealt with!

Proverbs 24:14
Know also that wisdom is like honey for you:
If you find it, there is a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.

-save a dog-