Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What Old Eyes See

I am learning much about the aging process. Mom K, still recovering from her fall and the long trip from Florida, and the stress of going into an Assisted Care facility is not as mentally sharp as she has been in the past. I wasn't sure if I should be helping to remind her of the things she is forgetting or not. She was so distraught that her husband hadn't been to see her last night...but her husband has been dead 25 years. She told her the nurse had indicated he was not around any more, and she said she had been very frightened. I am not trained in this. What does one say or do?

I brought out pictures of her three sons, one of whom is my husband Arvo who she keeps insisting is her husband. I also brought a picture of her husband, Heino. First I asked her who the picture of Heino was.
"That's my husband," she said. We talked at length about all the good things we could remember of Heino, how he could fix anything, and taught his sons to do the same, taught them to play volleyball, taught them how to roof.
"He was a good father," I told her.
"Yes, he was," she agreed.
Then, showing her a picture of her three sons, I asked her who each of the sons were. She correctly named them. Then I asked their relationship to her. She pointed to the two older sons, and told me they were her sons, but when she pointed to Arvo, she said, "And this is my husband."
"But who is this?" I asked pointing to Heino again.
"My husband."
"Then who is this?" I said gently pointing to Arvo once more, and asked how he was related. She paused. Then she looked at me and said, "You are trying to trick me." By the time I left, she had her sons and her husband straight. I labeled the pictures with "husband Heino" and "son Arvo" etc., and told her that would help the nurses know her family. That evening, she introduced Arvo to her friends on the porch as "my son".

I spoke to the nurse afterwards, and she told me that when a spouse has died and an older person doesn't remember that, it is sometimes best not to mention it. Redirect the conversation, I was advised. I told her Mom K was so worried and not understanding why he wasn't coming home...I felt I had to tell her something!
"Did she cry when you told her?" asked the nurse.
"No, she remembered his heart attack..and we talked about how we hoped to see him again in heaven."
"In general," the nurse told me, "When they are told a spouse has died, they feel like it just happened, and they mourn all over again."
Oh my. I have a lot to learn....I share this with you all in case any of you come against this same trial and tribulation.

And for all of you out there with elderly folks that are fall risks, my own parents gave me a great suggestion. I found a company that manufactures sensor pressure pads, that can go on the bed and chair. When the person begins to stand up, the pad wirelessly beeps an alarm. A more pricey one can beep it to a nurse's station or belt clip they carry with them. I told the nurse about it, and she said that they would ask the doctor to prescribe it since she clearly needed it. Insurance would likely cover it!

I left the rather mixed emotion morning to go kayak with Asherel's friends. While the kids swam, the mom, Rebecca and I poked around the shore in our kayaks. We saw a fish in the distance flopping along the surface and making a loud smacking sound. It looked like a giant catfish. We glided silently near. The catfish was doing circles on the surface of the water, his head above the water, and he was snapping his mouth open and close. I thought perhaps he had swallowed a hook and was trying to dislodge it. I wanted to help him, if I could, so I kept going closer. But I didn't see any hook. I'm not sure what I would have done. Really, there was no way I was going to make a barehanded grab of the giant fish.
And then I realized that what looked like dying was actually living! The giant catfish was snapping up the insects along the surface. When he heard me behind him, he plunged under the water and swam away.

I thought about that, how I had mistaken living for dying. I think we humans spend much of our life doing the same thing, and worse, sometimes dying for living. Perhaps losing one's memory, losing one's hold on the reality of this world is necessary for some to not cling too strongly to the temporal. If eternal life is waiting for us when our mortal bodies have crumbled, and I believe that is true for all those who accept the gift of salvation offered by faith in Jesus, then what we call dying is the final and most heroic, magnificent leap into living.

As I left the nursing home yesterday, the old man who clapped for me when I carried in the heavy bookshelf a few days earlier, was at his post on the porch.
"Hello!" he said, "You know, you are beautiful!"
I laughed, and thought how wondrous it is what old eyes see.

Romans 6:23 (NIV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 5:24-25,28-29 (NIV)
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. [25] Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. [28] “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice [29] and come out---those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Day of Rest

We brought my mother in law to spend the day at our house so we could give her a day of rest from trying to remember to use the call button at the Nursing Home. She had a black eye from her fall and the ensuing stitches, but seemed otherwise unscathed. Our home is not wheelchair accessible, and Arvo and I had to lift her wheelchair up the porch steps. She is light, but wheelchairs are not. We will need to make some changes if I am ever to bring her over for the day all by myself. I got her settled on the most comfy recliner in the world in front of the Olympics on our nice big TV, covered her with a soft shawl, put a cup of tea and sliced peaches at her end table, and figured she was good for a whole afternoon. Arvo and Asherel sat down to watch the Olympics too. This was as good a time as any, I thought, to make my getaway.

I took my bicycle out in the steamy hot afternoon, and pedaled off to the bike path Greenway. At least once I got to the Greenway, I would be in shade. It felt so wonderful to empty my mind, since hot air rises and all thoughts were shoved out of my brain and replaced with sauna like heat. It is good to sometimes empty one's head of all the cold harsh reality and let dangerous levels of hot nothingness enter in. I looked for creatures along the route. I usually spot a few. I saw the tail of a deer vanishing in the underbrush out of the corner of my eye. I scanned the trees and creek shore for herons, or owls, or some other sign of life out on the blistery day but the only other living creature I passed was an enormous black snake. The snake rushed off the path when he heard me approaching, for which I thanked him. It was just me and the Greenway and the hot air then...and of course, God. God was staying in the background along with the creatures, though. He didn't slam me over the head with any message, or scolding, or guidance. He seemed to feel that the peace and quiet of an uneventful bike ride on a hot day was what my soul needed. It was as though He had put me in a recliner with my feet up, wrapped me in a hot shawl, put sustenance at my right hand, and then left me to rest.

Matthew 11:29 (NIV)
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Understanding Motives

When Arvo went to see his mom at the Assisted Living Home last night, he found her fallen on the bathroom floor. She hadn't used her call button to summon a nurse before trying to stand, despite all our days of nagging and reminding, and two beautiful impossible to ignore hand made signs. Five hours and a few stitches above her eye later, they returned from the hospital. She is lucky a cut above her eye was the only injury. One friend suggested motion sensors to alert the nurses that she is trying to stand up. I suspect they won't let us handcuff her to her chair, so I will be exploring that suggestion of motion sensors today. The sad thing is that lovely private room on the quiet hall overlooking the crepe myrtle trees is probably in jeopardy now. They may need to move her to a more closely watched, semi private room. If she is unhappy now with the loss of independence, I can't imagine how she will feel then....

I had been with her for several hours in the middle of the day. She hadn't gotten up, or eaten. I helped her up, and sat with her while she ate a bowl of cereal and bananas I made for her. At first she grimaced at me, but then she ate it all. It was the first meal she had eaten since the morning before. I settled her with her feet up and the Olympics on before I left. And I reminded her again how critical it was that she use the call button if she wanted to get up. She had promised she would. I asked her if she wanted to come home with me and spend the day with us, but she was not feeling up to it.

She was not the only one not eating in my life. Of all the crazy new developments, the once starving rescue dog, Honeybun, has now started getting picky. After three years of living with us in the lap of luxury, she has realized she doesn't need to worry about meals drying up. She seems to have suddenly understood that no matter what, she will eat at least twice a day. And I made the FATAL mistake of pouring chicken broth on the dry food last week for a special treat. Today, I put down the dry food and Honeybun walked away from it. I stared at her. Honeybun never turns down food. Yet she followed me and stood in front of the refrigerator where she knows the yummy chicken broth is stored. I poured a little on her food and she wolfed it down.
Lucky watched her, and I could tell he was thinking, "Brat!", though he goes on hunger strikes in attempts to challenge our dog food selection on a regular basis.

It is hard to understand Mom K's motives. Why isn't she using the call button, why isn't she eating the delicious food they bring? It is not hard to understand Honeybun's motives. Once again, dogs are so much less complicated. God might have been better stopping the creation of life forms once dogs were created, but then, who would open the chicken broth box? In the end, we have to move forward, often a little blindly. We often can't know the motives of our friends, or even our family, any better than we know the motives of God. Yet we have to live sometimes trusting that the motive is good and makes sense at least to them, and make the best of what we are given when we are given it. And hope for Divine Intercession, or at least spicing up the dry nuggets with tasty broth.

Romans 8:26-28 (NIV)
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. [27] And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. [28] And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Harvest of Peace

The PT asked me, "Does she use the call button? Is she confused and not remembering?" Mom K looked at me, probably wondering, as I was, how on earth I could answer that without hurting her feelings.
"Well Mom," I said addressing Mom K, "I think it is that you are not used to having to ask for help." I turned to the PT, "She has been on her own for a very long time, and I don't think it is that she doesn't remember so much as she finds it difficult to ask people she doesn't know to help her right now with such private things."
Mom K looked at me, and said, "Thank you."
"But I think she also knows that right now, for safety, she has to use the call button, but it is not easy for her. Right, Mom?"
"Right," she said, nodding.
Old people sometimes take a long time to respond. I think it is so important that they be given the chance to speak for themselves, and also that one never ever talk about them as though they are not in the room, not listening, not understanding. They say even people in comas can understand what is being said about them, though they cannot respond.

After her PT session, I took her to the lunchroom. Lunch was going full swing already. A group of 5 other women were gathered at her table. They all introduced themselves. Mom K has sat with them each meal, so I suspect this will be her group of friends. They seem so nice, so helpful. The waitress brought me the lunch and dinner menu and handed it to me.
"Would you like to help your mom choose what she would like?" she asked.
I took the menu and showed it to Mom K.
Jo, who seems a leader of the gaggle of women, said, "If you get the chicken, have them cut it up for her. It is much easier. You can just write that on the menu."
"Chicken or spaghetti...what do you think Mom?"
"What do you recommend?" she asked.
"Ladies," I said, "Is the spaghetti good?"
"Yes!" they all said.
"Ok," said Mom K, "I will have the spaghetti."
After helping her fill out the menu choices, I kissed her goodbye and took my leave, promising to bring Asherel back in the afternoon, maybe at 2:30 for the Fruit Smoothie hour. I thought Asherel might enjoy that.

This is a new world I am entering. I have had some experience with it, helping my old senior friend Comer, and so it is not frightening to me, like it is to some. But it is different when it is your own relative adjusting to a life that came on them, unexpected and undesired. All in all, Mom K seems to be adjusting, and seems to find the lovely facility pleasant. But I know it is not easy for her...not yet.

God never seems to let us settle long in too comfortable a place. It seems that while we do have an occasional draught of peace, most of life is dropping, rolling and tucking against the flames of adversity. When I have had a stretch of great blessing and good fortune, I start being vigilant. I know a season of struggle will soon be upon me. Invariably, that is the case.

As I left the building, the man who often sits on the porch waved to me, and mumbled something. I came close, "Excuse me? Did you need something?"
"I need a woman," he said.
I smiled and waved and headed to my car. Better people than I am would not have pretended they didn't quite hear correctly what he said. I thought perhaps I would let the nurse help the friendly man on the porch.

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NIV)
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. [12] Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. [13] “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sow Kindness

I carried the 6 shelf bookcase in all by myself. One nice man sitting on the porch who I pass many times in my visits to the Senior Home clapped for me as I huffed and puffed by him. (And I wonder why I keep straining my wrist tendons, I thought as I hauled the door open and balanced the bookshelf on one shoulder with the other hand ) Then I yanked it onto the elevator and with several breaks, managed to get it down the long hallway, and then wrestle it into the tight corner of the room by flopping it first on the bed and then shimmying it in place. Whew.

I spent the morning with my mom in law, at the new Senior Home. She was at breakfast when I found her, after manhandling the book shelf into her room, and placing her framed photos tastefully on the shelves. She was sitting with two lovely ladies who were bright and chipper, and seemed eager to befriend her. Fresh flowers were on the table, adorned with cut crystal glasses and a white tablecloth. Sun streamed in the wall of windows that looked out over a gazebo. It is a really lovely place here, and just a mile away from us. Poor Grandma is still very tired from all the change and the long trip from Florida. However, I was encouraged by the friendliness and kindness of the residents here.
"Gert joined us on the porch last night," said Jo, one of the lovely ladies.
"You did!?" I exclaimed, "I am so glad! Was it nice?"
"Yes," said Mom K, "It was."
The porch is covered with white rockers. I had often seen folks sitting out there on my frequent bike rides down that quiet road. That is one of the joys of old age, sitting in a white rocker looking at the birds and no one is wondering why you aren't being more productive.

However, despite our huge white signs that urged Mom K to use the call button every time she got up, the nurse told me she had not used it at all last night. She said they went in every hour or two and would check on her, help her as needed, and there were no falls or problems...but she was not using the call button.
"Mom," I said, as I took her on a wheelchair stroll through the surrounding neighborhood ,"The nurses say you didn't use the call button. Remember that big beautiful sign Asherel made for you that says 'use the call button to get up'?"
"Yes," she said, "I looked at it often through the night. It is very nice."
"Yes it is, but the sign says 'Use the Call button to get up.' Remember?"
"And they never used the call button...not once!" she said.
"No Mom," I explained, "YOU need to use the call button...not them."
"Oh. OK. I see now."
We will see. It is still very hard for her to call others to help her.
"Are you enjoying the walk?" I asked, "Not too hot or too tired?"
I had rigged up one of my attachable umbrellas on her wheelchair. I had bought it hoping it would attach to my kayak, and be a little less weird than my umbrella hat. Alas, it had not worked for the kayak, but it was perfect for the wheelchair.
"I am enjoying it," she told me, "But I am worried about you. Aren't you tired and hot? The umbrella is very nice for me...but what about you?"
"I'm fine," I said, "There's nothing I like better than going for walks."
...And repaying in a small way the sweet and generous woman who had loved her son, my husband and his family so mightily. What goes around, comes around, I thought. While Mom K, like all parents, drove us all nutty at times, no one ever questioned her motive of love. She was generous to a fault and sacrificed a great deal so that she could give to us and her other two sons. Had she been a witch, perhaps I would not so eagerly want to show kindness to her when she needed it so badly. Be careful how you treat your children....one day, they may be needed to lift you into bed.

Psalm 126:5-6 (NIV)
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. [6] Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Call Button

I spent the whole day getting Grandma settled in the new Assisted Living Center. I have to say I am emotionally drained but it looks like all will be well. The staff there are among the most caring, wonderful people I have ever met. The Director of the whole place even helped me install the cable TV! Asherel made a gorgeous sign, a work of art complete with realistic flowers along the border, with a reminder for Grandma to never try to stand up without pushing the call button for help. She is still weary and weak from the trek from Florida, and another fall would be very bad right now. She hates asking for help...but sometimes, it is the better part of valor to know when one needs help. We all need help at times, and it is very hard for proud, independent people who have scrapped their way through many difficulties to recognize when it is best to just let others assist.
"I don't want to bother them with my every need," she told me.
"But that's why you are here!" I exclaimed, "And that is why THEY are here!"
As I was trying to understand why she would endanger her life and not be using the call button, she finally told me, "But they are all strangers!"
The director was with us at the time and he said, "They are now, Gert, but they soon will not be."
That is true. And nothing changes a stranger into an beloved angel of love and mercy faster than helping you do the private things you thought no one else should ever need to help you do. Especially if they do it while according you dignity and respect. By the end of the day, I think we had convinced her she must use the call button. Every aid, nurse, and doctor that walked in the door, held her hand and told her they were there to help her, and she must please please please, always use the call button. I will be back this morning to see how the night went, and I am praying that strangers were becoming angels for her.

As always, watching her situation unfold reminded me of a deeply important spiritual truth. We ALL have a call button, called Prayer, and we all hesitate to use it sometimes because of independence and pride. We think we can do it on our own, and why should we bother the Creator of the Universe with our petty needs? We are sometimes even embarrassed that we need help, we who have always believed we are self sufficient. And what makes us worms think He, the Great One, will listen to us anyway? We forget that He is the One that provided the Call Button in the first place! And He sends a whole host of workers our way, whose most noble purpose is to serve each other on His behalf. But sometimes, even the Director sees how important it is to drop by now and then, touch our shoulder, and remind us that we are not strangers, but friends.

2 Samuel 22:7, 17-20, 33-37 (NIV)
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. [18] He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. [19] They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. [20] He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. [33] It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. [37] You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rose Petals

What a week. One dog ripped off her dew claw...blood dripping all over. The other dog woke up today limping badly. Dear Hubby got in from Florida with his mom last night and we met him at the nearby assisted living center to get her settled. Her first view of the home was of a firetruck and ambulance rushing up, sirens blaring. Her bed is too high and she will need a crane to lift her onto it. I will be spending the day trying to find her everything she needs while learning to operate/fold her wheelchair in between stores. I am glad she is here. Florida, in her state of health, was a lonely place, far from the family that could ease her spirit. Watching the tender kindness of her son lifting her into bed alone was worth the trip.

As I got my breakfast this morning, before anyone else was awake (except the dew-less clawed dog and the limping dog), I marveled over what a blessing it is to move with relative ease, to stand without stooping, to step without assistance, to get my own coffee and sit down in my own beloved chair. So much blessing I take for granted each day.

As youngsters, we think we have all the time in the world. We waste precious moments we will never have back doing things that in the end will be no more meaningful than vapor. We accumulate dust rather than treasure. We seek the immediate, the temporal, but give little thought to the eternal. We act as though the rose petals will never brown, will never drop off one by one before we have had a time to gaze upon their beauty.

Psalm 27:4-5,8,13-14 (NIV)
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. [5] For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. [8] My heart says of you, “Seek his face! ” Your face, Lord, I will seek. [13] I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. [14] Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Secured in the Winds of Life

I tried out the umbrella hat while kayaking on my little lake. At first, even though I was the only one on the lake, I felt a little self conscious. The Blue umbrella hat, that slips on my head but has no tie to secure it, was lifted off with the first gust of wind. So I went to hat #2, the saucy little red number. This one has a nice bolero toggle to secure it to my head. Heavy gusts threatened to remove my head from my neck, but the hat stayed on. It worked wonderfully. My whole upper body was shielded from the sun. In addition, because of the cupped shape of the umbrella around my face, the breeze would be caught and swirled around my head like a fan. It was like having a personal AC unit. I could not wear it in a stiff breeze, like on the ocean, but for most of the days on the lake and rivers we kayak, it will be perfect.

After about an hour, I had forgotten it was something some folks might find "quirky". Some fishermen had arrived and were kayaking to their spot.
"Hello!" I called happily, waving as I kayaked by. I had totally forgotten that I looked a little strange in my umbrella hat.
"That is a great idea," said one of the men, "I was out here yesterday and I got so hot I couldn't stand it."
"Yeh, I know," I said, "It really works well."
I saw them chatting with each other watching me as I glided by. I am certain they were commenting on where they might be able to get one for themselves.

As I kayaked past, I thought about the dangers of being too isolated. It is easy to get caught up in one's weirdness to the degree that you lose sight of how weird you really are. There are good and bad aspects to that. While definitely weird, the umbrella hat was definitely smart for someone who is in the sun a lot and needs to guard against melanoma. If I cared too much what others thought, I would certainly not be wearing a bright red umbrella hat...or even any umbrella hat. My third one, as yet untried, is even a subdued and understated camouflage design, but I suspect no umbrella hat is subtle. On the other hand, some weirdness needs to be exposed to the light of day and stamped out of one's life. Some weirdness can become pathology.

Somehow, that train of thought brought me to that horrific shooting in the movie theater in Colorado. The alleged shooter had been a loner, like many of these crazy psychopaths who do awful things. I heard one report say he had suffered a break up with a girl friend a few months back. Perhaps that was the trigger to this onslaught of evil. It is not good to be too alone, too encapsulated in one's own world without the steadying effect of positive, healthy, Godly influences in one's life. And that need to keep one's perspective with the healthy flow of input from others, and most importantly from God, must be balanced with the courage to do what is right, what is best, and what is good, even when it defies the crowd. In the end, life is not easy, I thought, and without something to hold us firmly in a place of righteousness, we will be carried off by any little breeze of sin and discontent....like my umbrella hat without the bolero tiedown.

1 Samuel 25:29 (NIV)
Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God...

Zechariah 10:12 (NIV)
I will strengthen them in the Lord and in his name they will live securely, ” declares the Lord.

Proverbs 10:9 (NIV)
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Year of Jubilee

My sister Amy and husband Jim stopped by for lunch on their way from Texas to Virginia. I got a glorious assortment of lunch goodies from Fresh Market, and set out my best silver and even crystal water goblets. It isn't every day I get to see my sister! They could only stay for lunch and then had to head off for 6 more hours of driving.

We were discussing how naive I am, though I can't remember the specific context, when Amy said, "Did you know that gullible is the most commonly misused word? It is not in the dictionary. It has become commonly used, but it isn't in the dictionary."
"It's not?" I asked. I paused. I was CERTAIN it was.
"I don't believe you," I said, rising to go find a dictionary when I noticed Asherel laughing so hard but trying to hide it so that her face was purple.
"Oh," I said, sinking down. Once again, caught with the zipper on my brain down....

There are worse things than being gullible. Like picking on gullible people....But I must admit, all four of us were spitting our bourbon brownies out with our convulsive laughter. It is a wonder none of us choked. I love it when I get to see Amy. She brings Happy wherever she goes, and Jim is the perfect sidekick.

Speaking of gullible, I learned something in church today that I didn't know and found hard to swallow. I did know that Leviticus talks about a "year of Jubilee". On every 50th year, the Israelites were to celebrate the year of Jubilee, when all debts were forgiven, all prisoners set free, and everyone given a fresh and equal start. Being gullible, I had always assumed that the Israelites had followed that command. I began thinking of what that would look like, if we still did that today, when the pastor said, "It is not recorded anywhere that the Jews ever followed that, or ever celebrated the year of Jubilee...not even once."
If that is correct, the commandment was ignored and came to be considered not a command, but a prophecy. The year of Jubilee came to be thought of as a symbol, a foretaste of what would happen when the Messiah came, when our sins were forgiven, our debt paid by His atoning sacrifice, and we would be set free. Once we put our faith in the Messiah, and His salvation plan, we would no longer be imprisoned by our sin. Our spirits would be eternally released to enjoy the celebration of standing righteous before God. No more damnation, no more eternal punishment, and if all goes as I hope, no more being caught with the zipper on my brain down.

Leviticus 25:10-17 (NIV)
Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. [11] The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. [12] For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields. [13] “ ‘In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property. [14] “ ‘If you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them, do not take advantage of each other. [15] You are to buy from your own people on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And they are to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. [16] When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what is really being sold to you is the number of crops. [17] Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Stupid but Forgiven

For those of you who have come to know and love my old friend Comer who I mention now and then in my blog, he is surprisingly doing well. At 93 years old, i really thought his latest loss of energy signaled the end. However, he has been gaining strength, and returning to his old self. Except for some very bad water retention in his feet, he seems chipper and regaining zest for life. He really continues to amaze me.

I visited him yesterday, and unlike the past few weeks of being barely able to lift his head from the recliner, he chatted happily for an hour. He insisted on walking me to the door, though slowly.
"You are a wonder, Comer," I told him, kissing him goodbye.

Like every human on the planet, my life is full of dashed hopes and setbacks. I needed to see Comer up and about again, his flashing grin and optimistic outlook again gracing my world. We all need a few symbols of redemption and hope now and then. They are out there. Some days they are just a little harder to uncover than others.

Meanwhile, I got a call early in the morning.
"Hi Ma'am, I'm your neighbor...Bill? I got your puppy over here in my yard. He's a sweet thing. I don't mind at all, but I will walk him back home now if that is ok with you."
I groaned. The stupid dog is ten years old. When will he stop climbing the fence? And why climb to only escape into another fenced yard? I met Bill and Lucky as they came trotting around the corner. Lucky wagged his tail, greeting me as though he were out on a planned and approved stroll with his friend Bill.
"He is a great dog," said Bill.
"He sure is," I agreed, "Want him?"
Alas, Bill didn't want him, so Lucky and I returned home, Lucky wagging his tail happily.

It is interesting that I am reading Amos, Chapter 9, that talks about the people escaping or trying to escape the wrath of God. I think Lucky escapes when he knows the barometric pressure is dropping. He hates storms, and I think he believes that if he can just get out of his yard, he will be safe. Like the sinners of Chapter 9, he believes he can escape the wrath of God unleashed to punish those who defy and disobey again and again and again just by running to a different place. I think we all make that mistake at times. It is easier to hide from consequences or blame someone else rather than face up to our own failings. However, as I thought of Comer and the hopeful signs of his returning health in the face of such advanced age, I didn't think the depressing admonition of Amos 9 was where I wanted to end up as my daily dose of God. I read on, and then, at the end of the Chapter, hope again emerges! I just hadn't read far enough.

God promises restoration. He will remove HIs wrath and return His people from exile. The land will blossom with new vineyards and the relationship with the Lord will be restored forever. Hope is renewed. The fire of Life is rekindled. A right relationship with a loving Father is redeemed.

Lucky looked at me as I hung his leash on its hook. He waited to see what this latest escapade would result in. I patted his head and looked deeply in his eyes.
"You are stupid, but you are forgiven," I said.

Amos 9:13-15 (NIV)
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills, [14] and I will bring my people Israel back from exile. “They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. [15] I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I hope I have solved my sunshade on the kayak problem. I hope to try it out today if the weather cooperates. Yesterday I received three different umbrella hats in the mail. They are ridiculously cheap, hence the order for three, so all my kayak guests can be so fashionably and sun-safely adorned. One is a camo design, and flares out three full feet. I cannot walk through doors, but that shouldn't be a problem while kayaking.

My family is concerned that my teenage daughter might be embarrassed by kayaking with her mother in an umbrella hat.
"I'm past that," said Asherel in response.

I bought 5 bales of pine straw to put in the front "garden" (some people refer to this area as a tangled mess of weeds, but I find "garden" much more optimistic.) but as soon as we pulled in the driveway, the skies unleashed torrential rain.
"Oh dear," I moaned, "I so wanted to lay out the pine straw!"
"You could still do that," reminded Asherel, "You could wear your umbrella hat."
That's right! I could...but I didn't as the rain and wind was so severe and there was thunder. I think the umbrella hat could act as a lightning rod. It certainly will be a lightning rod for ridicule, I suspect.

However, I am very excited about the potential advantages the umbrella hat will afford, not the least of which will be avoiding melanoma. As my cousin pointed out, it could double as a kayak sail in a pinch. And should I be marooned on the ocean in my kayak, it could be used as a rain catcher for much needed water. Like the all-purpose cracker, my umbrella hat could serve many needs.

Another sister is concerned that I am perpetuating the cycle of weirdness that my father began. She begged me, for the good of my daughter, to break the cycle now. I don't know what she expects me to do with three perfectly good umbrella hats. It would cost more to return them than it did to order them! (free shipping to me on top of it all- it is almost as though they were *trying* to get rid of the umbrella hats....)

I thought of David as he danced before the Lord, and how his wife Michal, was horrified. She told him how undignified it was for a King to dance with such abandon before the peons. I love his response, "I will be more undignified than this...."
This is a man who knew his priorities. Wild abandon of praise and exaltation before the Lord mattered far more than his dignity.

Kayaking in the glory of God's gorgeous creation is where I choose to do my undignified dance before the Lord...and I suspect, I will be more undignified than this too....

2 Samuel 6:16,20-22 (NIV)
As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. [20] When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” [21] David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel---I will celebrate before the Lord. [22] I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Friday, July 20, 2012

kamikaze turtles

Today will be spent doing house work and mowing and cleaning and laundry...but yesterday, we took one of Asherel's friends and headed off to the river to kayak. While the girls docked and swam at the wonderful sandbar in the river, I tooled around the shore line, stalking a heron. Turtles were out in droves. I found it curious that the turtles would often climb to the highest spot on a log sticking up out of the water. As I glided near, they would then take a kamikaze leap into the water. For that brief second, the turtles were flying.

I wonder if the turtle found it a thrill to be airborne. Or was it terrifying to be doing something it was clearly not intended to do? It was impossible to tell whether the turtle enjoyed the precipitous plunge, but as i would slip by the series of logs, there would be a symphony of kerplunks as the flying turtles smacked back into the water.
I would guess they did not consider the consequences of their heroic leap. They perceived me as a threat, not wanting to take the time to ascertain whether I was indeed an animal lover. They must have, on some level, determined that they could not take the time to crawl back down the log. Their survival depended on the courage to make that leap. In a split second, they assessed the odds and in a sense, took a leap of faith. They didn't know if they could fly, but I suspect they knew it was unlikely. What they did know is that their salvation lay in the swirling waters they could not reach without doing something the turtle was never meant to do. It was a leap of faith, but it made all the sense in the world to do it.

2 Chronicles 20:20 (NIV)
....Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld.....

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Osprey seem to be very good at catching fish. Yesterday, I kayaked the Catawba again, and saw several osprey swoop down from the treetops, snag a fish with surgical precision, and then return to their nest. I suspect they were feeding young osprey. On occasion, the fish would squirm so violently that the osprey would drop it. I wondered if the osprey became depressed and unmotivated after the fish it had worked so hard to procure managed to escape. It was hard to tell from the osprey's expression. It would pause at a tree top, and then swoop down and plummet into the water again. It repeated this until another wiggling fish was in its talons.

I could learn a lesson from the osprey.

Sometimes we catch what we hope to the first time we try. Sometimes we don't. Sometimes we work and labor in vain, to come tantalizingly close to our goal and then see it wrangle out of our grasp. At times we haul in great bounty, but other times, the net comes up empty. I watched the osprey drop a fish, and then without pause, torpedo back into the water, and this time as it rose into the blue sky, water glistening and rolling off its wings, it held onto the fish.

Luke 5:1-11 (NIV)
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. [2] He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. [3] He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. [4] When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” [5] Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” [6] When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. [7] So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. [8] When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” [9] For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, [10] and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” [11] So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Prepare to Meet your God

"Oh drat," I said feeling the tag on the back of my shirt.
Asherel glanced over. We were on our way to her last day of Driver Ed driving week.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Why didn't you tell me I had my shirt on inside out?" I asked.
Instead of answering, she just laughed. Her compassion was overwhelming.

How could I have missed that, I wondered, glancing down. The seams were clearly exposed, with their ravelly edges, the decorative details all hidden against my skin.
"I am getting senile," I said sadly. Asherel nodded while chuckling.

I had errands to run after dropping her with the driving instructor. I thought about how I could take off my shirt and flip it right side out quickly and unobtrusively. Praise God for tinted windows.

I used to dream about going to school and halfway through the day, would realize I had forgotten to change out of my pajamas. I also used to dream that it was Finals week of college, and I had not even opened the book all year. In fact, I had forgotten I was in the class at all, and now was forced to take the Final with zero knowledge of the material.

I guess all in all, I just don't feel up to the task of life. I should probably look in the mirror more. That might help prepare me on the outside at least. The inside needs more than a mirror....

I managed to shimmy out of my shirt while sitting on the floor of the back seat of the van. I quickly turned it to the right side and slid it back on. Then I looked down. The black shirt was now on correctly, but covered with white deodorant smears. I went on my errands anyway. At my age, all shreds of dignity are unravelling as completely as my inside out shirt seams.

I thought about being prepared, feeling up to the tasks set before me. I can honestly say I have almost never felt adequate. I am perhaps too aware of my shortcomings, though usually too proud to admit how woefully inadequate I know I am. I am reading the book of Amos in the Bible right now, and God is railing against the willful inadequacies of His people, who sin and deny Him continually. He continues to chastise them and snatch them from disaster, only to have them turn their backs on Him again and again. And then comes the ominous warning, "Prepare to meet your maker."
That is something I better take more seriously than putting on my shirt correctly.

Amos 4:11-13 (NIV)
“I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord. [12] “Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, Israel, prepare to meet your God.” [13] He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth---the Lord God Almighty is his name.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tomorrow it May Rain

My dad told me the wonderful little kayak he got me is now sold out, no longer on sale. We got my kayak in the nick of time. I have kayaked every day, sometimes in the little lake near my house, sometimes in my favorite place, the Catawba, knowing that summer is fleeting. Now is the day of delight. Tomorrow it may rain. While there is yet time, while the fireflies are still flashing and the touch of the sky is gentle, while my muscles still do what I ask of them, and while my ears can still hear the hum of the hummingbird whirling among the blossoms; that is the time to launch the kayak and skim across the water. Now is the day of delight. Tomorrow it may rain.

Romans 13:11-12 (NIV)
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. [12] The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 (NIV)
What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; [30] those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; [31] those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Monday, July 16, 2012

Safe Boating

I took the adorable little kayak my Dad gave me out to the river again yesterday. I kayaked for two hours. Since I can return the kayak within 30 days if I don't like it, I knew I needed to test it fully. It is certainly not because there is almost nothing I would rather be doing than kayaking on glistening water surrounded by lush forests, osprey and herons, and the sound of the wind in the leaves. Not at all.

I had first called my old senior friend Comer to see if he wanted me to come read to him. He did not. He said he would not be very good company as he was doing so poorly. I chatted with him for a while, and afterwards decided I had to go do my duty, and test my kayak some more. A tough job but someone had to do it.

In my old inflatable kayak, which I dearly love but which has its limitations, I was always careful to stay far from shore where snagging, treacherous limbs could rip its fabric. I was also always a little worried about the potential for alligators. Now, normally alligators do not come this far north, but they have been sighted in Lake Wylie before. I knew that should I encounter a large carnivorous aquatic creature, my inflatable kayak would be like the marshmallow on top of the sweet potato. I would be the sweet potato. Now, however, with the hard body kayak, I felt invincible. I scraped close to shore skimming over branches, and looking with hopefulness for alligators. How fun to glide near those prehistoric monsters with no fear of them biting through my kayak! At least...I don't think they could bite through my kayak....

At any rate, it made me think about what gives us security in this world, what quells anxiety, what promotes trust that we are safe? In the case of the kayak, it was the difference between a flimsy vehicle made of rubber and air, versus hard molded plastic. But had I been in the ocean with a 20 foot shark trailing me, the hard molded plastic would not have made me feel safe. Is there such a thing as ultimate safety, a sense of security not based on circumstances, not relative but absolute?

I believe there is. It seems at first blush even flimsier than my inflatable kayak. It cannot be touched at all, in fact. It is invisible, and yet contains the only strength we feeble humans really possess. That is faith. Faith in the One who controls all eternity, including our own. None of us are safe without it, not even if our kayaks were made of titanium.

Psalm 4:6-8 (NIV)
Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us. [7] Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. [8] In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hiding from the sun

I know how to make my next million. I will share it with you so that one of you entrepreneur types will go develop one, and have me test it. If it works, I get to keep it, and you go make your fortune. I need an easily removable/attachable umbrella or canopy for my kayak. Remember, you may take my idea and run with it, but I get your prototype, preferably this week.

Yesterday, I took my new kayak to the Catawba River. This kayak is so much easier to paddle than my inflatable one that I went upriver against the current for an hour and wasn't tired. I didn't want to turn around, but the sun was beating down on me. The limiting factor is often the sun. That, and visions of a huge lunch...which I had not packed and should have. So while I kayaked with sweat dribbling off my nose and stomach growling, I thought about how to concoct my sun shade. The problem with my kayak is the edge around the cockpit is rounded and thick. My chair umbrella with the clamp can't clamp it. I looked on line for kayak canopies but they cost more than the kayak, and require hardware that necessitates drilling into my kayak. It seems to me there must be a cheap and easy solution.

While I was musing, an osprey flew overhead and then plummeted straight down into the water, not twenty feet from me. With a splash, it rose again, a fish in its talons. Right on its tail, as it flew off with the fish wriggling beneath it, a Great Blue Heron flew by, flapping its enormous wings. A turtle popped up right beside me, looked at me in surprise, and ducked back underwater. If I had sunshade, I might never leave this river, I thought.

I have been working through the book of Hosea in my daily Bible reading. That book always disturbs me. Poor Hosea is told that he must go marry a prostitute, Gomer, and make her his wife knowing she will betray and leave him. He must then go find her and take her back. It is a most heart breaking picture of God in His relentless pursuit of us. Despite our perpetual unfaithfulness and snubbing of God's love, He follows us doggedly. He showers us with rivers teeming with life and beauty, and surrounds us with the music of all creation, and we act as though it were not a gift, an offering, a plea to paddle as fast as we can back to Him. Too often, we are shielding ourselves from the Son, the very source of Life. And God is still beckoning, urging us, and keeping watch at the dock at the end of the river.

Hosea 2:23 (NIV)
I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one. ’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Saturday, July 14, 2012

To smote or not to smote

I took the little kayak my Dad bought me to my favorite peaceful tiny lake yesterday. I did twice as many laps in it as I am able to do in my inflatable kayak. And it is light enough for me to lift into the car myself, and carry to shore. Good thing I had all that peace and delight stored up, because I needed an extra dose of it to carry me through the day.

I had put my e-books on a "free publicity promotional" for one day at the end of last month. I can watch the sales and downloads as they occur. When the free promo ended, I noticed that each day, more of my books were being given away for free, although I had not authorized it. I wrote to Amazon KDP, who handles my ebook sales. Today, they finally wrote back to say it was a "system error" and according to the contract, I am due no compensation. They said they were working to resolve the issue but for a week, other countries around the world were getting my book for free.

I wrote back, "System error? That is not a system error. That is stealing."

Now I did get a glowing review from someone in Australia, which brought my blood pressure down to only dangerous level, rather than critical. Do I sue? This system error a few months ago ended up stealing 8,000 books. This month it was about a hundred. Anyone want to take the case? The system error folk are making more money than me, the author. Something just doesn't feel right about that.

I sign all my emails with the tag, "Nothing is impossible with God." I define myself as a believer, one who strives to emulate and glorify God. I try to be careful in what I do and say, as everything reflects upon my Lord. Would Jesus sue them?

I know that we, as God's people, are to live as peacefully with others as we are able. We are told peacemakers are blessed, and that vengeance belongs to the Lord. Thus, I am unsure of how to proceed in this matter, because quite frankly, I am ready to smote them.

I guess I better go on a LONG kayak trip today.

Jeremiah 11:20 (NIV)
But you, Lord Almighty, who judge righteously and test the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Friday, July 13, 2012

Plates Piled High

I knew it was going to be a really long drive home from NY, but I left early enough that I hoped to do it in one day. And I did make it...13 hours later. I am definitely too old for this. It is a beautiful drive through the Shenandoah Valley and the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. But there was one very distressing portion. One of the highlights to break the monotony of driving is lunch time! We stopped at a little ma and pa sub shop. I should have known that I should not have ordered food there when I walked in. It felt like the AC was not working, the lights were off in the dining portion and a sign said, "Take out only. No restrooms."

An old man greeted us, and having traveled without stopping for three hours, I asked him if there was a restroom he could let me use. He grumbled about it, but opened one up for me. We ordered our subs, and I was praying I had found a diamond in the rough. The rough part was true. Sadly, no diamonds here. It took him about twenty minutes to make our subs in a back room, though we were the only customers that entire time. (Clue #2000 we should have cut our losses and run....)

Finally receiving our food, we unbundled our subs, hoping beyond hope that they were good, as we headed on down 81 South. The old man had even thrown in a free donut. He added a paper plate and several napkins. I think we had made his day. I suspect we were the only customers he would see that afternoon. Asherel had ordered a BLT, and she said it was good. I opened mine. My turkey and swiss was piled so high with meat that I couldn't close it. The meat looked dry, but it was plentiful. I was hungry, so delighted with the huge sandwich. And then I took a bite. Moldy! Bleh!!!! I rewrapped it, almost in tears. Long drives will do that to me. I knew it was at minimum an 11 hour drive and now I had to stop for lunch again. I won't burden you with the rest of the set backs on the drive, which were numerous. In the end, we made it home in one piece and that is all that matters.

But it made me think of a spiritual lesson, that saga of the overflowing, moldy sub. So many times, we seek an abundance of things, a quantity of events, toys, food...whatever, and we seek after volume of experience rather than quality of the content. Sometimes the experiences are not good choices- we know from the start that they are foul, and yet we rationalize that these bad things will somehow become good. But even good things can still not be the best thing. If we load our lives with prayer, and good works, and church attendance...we then think we have a full plate of God. And then we are dismayed to bite into it and realize it is rancid, and stale, and impossible to provide real nourishment. At the crux, if our worship isn't fresh, and our relationship carefully preserved with an abiding and single, simple desire to love and seek and serve God, it doesn't matter how many extras we heap on top.

I threw the entire turkey sub in the garbage. I didn't even venture a bite of the donut. Then I went to a place that specializes in "fresh" food. The sandwich was small, but oh what a delight to take a bite of the real thing!

John 6:41-48 (NIV)
At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” [42] They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” [43] “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. [44] “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. [45] It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. [46] No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. [47] Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. [48] I am the bread of life.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Follow the Goose

My parent's love to go to Otseningo Park along the Chenango river and feed the geese. Dad, in his inimitable way, whistles for them like they are dogs as they graze on a distant shore. They completely ignore him, and we all shake our heads. It was our last day here visiting. Dad insisted he wanted to buy me a hard body kayak, because I think he worries my inflatable one will pop and I will be left drifting down the river forever clinging to a passing log. He said it was to be my Christmas gift. I relented because it was a stupendous sale on the very kayak I had been eyeing for the past year. I think it gives Dad more joy to give me things than I get receiving them. The best part is it just a little thing, so it fits inside the van. No more ripping out my arms lifting kayaks to the van roof! But the sports store was near the geese lake, so we decided to all head to the lake and feed the geese after procuring the little kayak.

We went to my folks favorite bench, Dad following us waving the bag of crackers in the air and whistling. The geese ignored him. The guard goose looked at Dad, saw he may be crazy but was no immediate danger and continued scanning for predators. We sat at the bench awhile. Dad tossed crackers about hoping the geese would notice but they were too far away. My broken toe was hurting, but I finally said I would go entice the geese. I took a stack of crackers and hobbled to the distant geese. When I arrived at their vicinity, I tossed them a cracker. A few scurried away but one gobbled the cracker. His compatriots stormed him for crumbs. I moved closer to Mom and Dad's bench, and dropped another piece. The geese swarmed over the cracker. Now I had an attentive audience. I back stepped towards my folks tossing cracker bits, slowly drawing the geese behind me. I felt like St. Patrick leading the snakes out of Ireland, but in this case, it was leading geese to my father.

Soon all of us were surrounded by hungry geese. They ate out of our hands, and allowed us to pet them. Asherel made special friends with one and asked if we could bring it home. After finishing their feast, the geese grazed around us for a while, one mistook Mom's toe for a cracker, and then they headed back to the water. It had been a delightful interlude.

I thought of how sometimes we flock to the Father, and sometimes we must be led step by step. Sometimes, even though a feast we cannot begin to imagine awaits us, we dare not approach. We are suspicious, and fearful, disbelieving the Goodness of the One who holds all the crackers. We mill about grubbing in the dirt, while gentle hands long to reach out and offer us manna from heaven, and touch us with love and delight.

I think as the geese waddled away, not one of them grumbled to their guide for leading them to my father. In fact, in goose language, they seemed all to be saying, "Why did we wait so long?"

Numbers 14:24 (NIV)
But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.

Joshua 14:8-9 (NIV)
but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. [9] So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’

Matthew 19:21,25-30 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” [25] When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” [26] Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” [27] Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” [28] Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. [29] And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. [30] But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


My heart is too full of joy to even talk about it. Sometimes, everything in the world seems to be perfect, and there is nothing left to do but bow down and praise God. I know that it is likely that as the day proceeds, the struggles and turmoils that are always ready to boil from the depths of the pot of life will probably begin to gurgle. But for this shining moment, I will just smell deeply of the sweet savor of delight.

Psalm 37:3-6 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. [4] Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. [5] Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: [6] He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Slaying a Gorilla

Upstate NY has beautiful clouds. They puff all over the sky, like a flock of sheep scurrying in the wind. You just don't get clouds like that in North Carolina. It was a beautiful day with my folks, and we spent a good long time in the car, driving through the lovely country under the spectacular cloud studded sky. It almost made me wish I still lived here...but Binghamton was pulling a bait and switch. Yes, the summers are spectacular in this part of the country, but then the winter comes, and it stays, and stays, and stays.... Still, there are those magnificent clouds.

I rode my clown bike in the morning along the Susquehanna river. I was out quite early, and the mist was still rising from the river. I saw a great blue heron flap his enormous wings and glide across the river as I pedaled by. The rest of the village was still inside snoring, the air still chilled. Life seems to slow down here, and I have been so enjoying the still and languid peace.

Well, there was one task my mother wanted done. The wooden reindeer I had made for her last summer had lost an antler. Mom wanted me to glue in a new one. She went hunting for nice potential twigs for antlers while I tried to open the top of the Gorilla Glue that we had used only once, last year when I glued the first antlers in place. We could not squeeze out any glue. The tip was clogged with Gorilla Glue which means nothing but a particle accelerator would be powerful enough to open it. I went to Asherel, who I have learned, can quietly do just about anything. She had just received a big box of tools from my Dad as her gift.She quickly found an ax and headed with the little bottle of clogged Gorilla Glue to the curb.

"Be careful," I warned, looking anxiously at the sharp ax head, and the tiny bottle of Gorilla Glue.
We all watched as with one deft whack, she sliced off the tip of the gorilla glue, leaving the threads on it so that the cap could still be screwed back on. She is a wonder.

I reglued the new antler and we smiled at our handiwork as the clouds scurried by overhead, like angels hurrying to a divine appointment.

Deuteronomy 4:39 (NIV)
Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 (NIV)
...God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Monday, July 9, 2012

Grateful for the Journey

I have always wanted to kayak on the Susquehanna and my cool brother John agreed to accompany Asherel and me on the river yesterday. He had to haul his huge 70 pound canoe to the river, while all I had to carry was my 17 pound inflatable kayak. He had to strap that behemoth to the top of his jeep, sweating bullets in the sun as he manhandled it into place. I just tossed my suitcase sized deflated kayak in the back of the van. Then he had to huff and puff, straining to carry the 70 pound generator which attached to the 30 pound motor that he put on the canoe. I just snapped together a one pound oar and was in the water waiting for him. But then the tables turned.

Massive head winds sprang up and I had to fight for every inch I could eek out as we headed upriver. The light kayak was blown about like a tumbleweed. He and Asherel just tooled along in the heavy canoe, motor humming, John sipping beer and occasionally looking back to see how far behind I was.

Nonetheless, it was glorious. The Susquehanna is beautiful and rivers always make me feel at peace and in harmony with God's world. We docked on Hiawatha Island. John fly-fished, I explored the shallows for crayfish, and Asherel took off to explore the island. I made her take her phone, just in case, but really, felt little concern for what could be on the deserted island in the middle of the Susquehanna. Soon I received a text message from her, "There's education here! Come see!"

So John and I headed in our canoes upshore a little more and saw steps carved into the bank. We secured our canoe and kayak and headed up the steps. Asherel met us on a path and then led us to a clearing where there was a wooden out-house
(whew- needed that!) and an old building. Rusted farm tools, an old tractor, and a very old gutted car were scattered on the grounds. The foundation of another old house was in the distance. There was a plaque that told us these tools and home were from 1920. What fun! There WAS education here!

Later, after struggling back to the car, having kayaked three hours, I googled "Hiawatha Island". It used to have a hotel on it, and was a popular tourist spot! It is the largest island on the Susquehanna. John told me it used to be a tobacco farm, long ago. It is now home to several endangered species. It had been really exciting to be the only humans on the island, chancing upon that old civilization.

John popped open a water bottle as we motored the last mile back down the river.
"Out of beer?" I called.
As we neared our take-out point, there were my mom and dad, up on the cliff along the river edge. Dad was snapping photos with his new camera. Mom was sitting in the new red white and blue lawn chair she had recently told Dad they simply had no use for. I was touched that they had found our take out point and timed their arrival to greet us as we motored back to shore. (Well , John motored....I groaned and strained and made it back with my muscles dripping off my arms like goo.)

John huffed and puffed to haul his enormous, heavy canoe out of the water. The three of us managed to slam it back on top of his jeep, and he was sweating bullets by the time he had tied it down securely. I opened the valves, deflated my kayak, and carried the light little bundle to the back of my van, and tossed it in. We found out Mom and Dad had been there waiting for us one and a half hours. All of us headed home exhausted, all for varying reasons. Some of us were tired from preparing for the journey, some from traveling the journey, and some for waiting a long time at the journey's end. But I think every one of us was grateful for the journey.

Deuteronomy 2:7 (NIV)
The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Why I Love Belgian Malinois

If you have followed my blog for any time now, you know my incredibly wonderful son and his equally wonderful wife are interning for the summer in Texas. Matt and Karissa, both in law school, are spending the summer at a great firm, doing very interesting law work, while dog sitting in the firm's owner's palace. The only downside was the dog to be left in their care was a trained attack dog. Matt has been attacked many times by dogs, who seem to sense his now understandable fear. I must admit, I was very worried about the whole gig. Matt told me the dog was a Belgian Malinois, and it is trained to kill. Lovely.

They started dog sitting about a week ago. Matt knew I was worried, and he wrote to tell me the dog seemed very attached to them. Both of them liked the dog. Matt told me he was very protective of Karissa but was gentle and loving with both of them.

Yesterday, Karissa was walking Enzo, the Belgian Malinois, when a golden retriever, supposedly the world's friendliest dog, barreled out of nowhere and attacked them. Enzo sprang into action, got between the retriever and Karissa, tackled him, and held him down till the stupid owner came to retrieve his stupid dog. Enzo, that amazing Belgian Malinois, held the retriever down the whole time, without biting or harming him, until Karissa told him it was ok to let the Golden return to his owner.

Once again, I think God was teaching me a lesson about prejudice. I feared the attack dog. I generally don't fear Golden Retrievers. In the end, the competent owner with the well trained dog proved again, it is not the dog that is the problem...it is the owner.

Psalm 17:6-9 (NIV)
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. [7] Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. [8] Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings [9] from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Under the Big Top

Twenty, maybe even thirty years ago, I bought a little Dahon folding bike. I am an avid bicyclist and wanted a bike I could travel with, even take on airplanes.(You know, so I could ride it up and down the aisle on those long flights....) It has little 16 inch wheels and folds into a medium size suitcase. Unfolded, it looks like a clown bike. I always feel conspicuous on it, but it rides surprisingly well for such a funny little thing.

Well, now I am in NY seeing my wonderful parents, eating out a great deal as they are true connoisseurs of the art of restauranting, and I have a broken toe. Thus, I have no way of running off all those calories and lazy gut-extending moments. I brought my little bike. I discovered yesterday that I can ride my Dahon clown bike without any pain in my broken toe.

The area where my folks live is quite hilly, but I rode for two hours along beautiful scenic route 17C. That route snakes along the river so it is flatter than most routes in the area. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw many people stop and stare at me as I rolled by. Then they looked for the elephants and tight rope walkers.
"Nope, just me," I smiled waving, "I am the circus today."

I looked even a little more ridiculous than I might have due to the fact that the Dahon doesn't have a basket or water bottle holder. So I wrapped a massive belly pack around the handlebars and wedged a bottle in that. This really disturbed my dad. He wanted me to remove that monstrosity from my sleek little clown bike.

But I need to stay hydrated so the silly clown bike was made even sillier, and the belly pack water bottle holder remained. I had a wonderful time, and passed by all my old haunts- my art studio above the movie theater, my old high school, the route I used to walk the 4 miles home from school on nice days, the little store where I would buy a pound of fudge to sustain me on the 4 mile walk home, the little Catholic church where as an agnostic teen, I once walked into and sat in a back pew and prayed. Who says you can't go home again? I was loving all the memories.

When I got back, my dad begged to go to the bike store with me and find a basket. I relented and we did find a beautiful large blue basket that matched the bike. Asherel, my handy daughter, installed the basket for me. Then we all stood back to gaze appreciatively upon the funny little bike. If anything, it looked funnier with the giant basket as big as the tiny little wheels. Today, I will ride the clown bike out to meet my brother, half way on his 15 mile ride from his village. I warned him that he must understand I had 16 inch wheels and therefore, would be going at the pace of an old chihuahua. My brother is a serious bicyclist and I felt riding with me would not be much fun for him. However, he still plans to meet me on my morning ride.

I will be packing water bottles, purse, phone, and happy memories into my big blue basket on my little folding bike. As I ride, I am certain I will see the ghosts from my past rise up like the mist on the river and I am equally certain they will be wondering, as they probably did when they knew me back then, what circus did I end up joining?

And then I will smile at the beautiful countryside, and rolling hills, and wildlife pausing to watch me roll slowly by, and thank God for the life I have had under Heaven's tent.

Psalm 16:6-8,11 (NIV)
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. [7] I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. [8] I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. [11] You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Friday, July 6, 2012

Interesting Sighting

I had planned to stop half way at a hotel on the drive to see my folks in upstate NY. As I get older, it becomes harder and harder to make that drive in one shot. But somehow, the beauty of the scenery and the interesting discussion on talk radio kept me going. I did the entire 11 hour drive, and arrived before the sun set.

When the kids were younger, we would sometimes play a game about who would see 'the most interesting' sight along the way. It was a contest of sorts, and I would judge. Asherel didn't have much interest in road games any more, but I still always keep my eyes open for interesting sights. At one point, we passed a van dragging an open trailer behind it, and I won 'the most interesting sighting' hands down! In that trailer was an old buggy, with wooden wheels, and in front of it, a cannon. Yes folks, a cannon. It just is not every day you see a cannon being driven down the interstate.

My daily reading through the Bible has landed me in Daniel. I often feel as though God enhances the message of what I read in the Bible with what I see or do during the day. Daniel is a very confusing book, filled with strange symbols that are very hard (I think) to understand. They are as incomprehensible to me as an old revolutionary war cannon being carted down the interstate. But there are segments I do understand and my reading this morning brought me to such a passage. It reminded me that we do not approach God because of who we are and our righteousness, but because of who He is, and His mercy. In a way, I thought, we are just like that helpless cannon being carried along the interstate. A cannon can do many things, and will often make a valiant stand against the foe. But for all its strengths, it needs someone else to load and fire it...and maybe even someday when it is old and decommissioned, to carry it to a resting place somewhere in a beautiful valley bathed in Heaven's light.

Daniel 9:18-19 (NIV)
Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. [19] Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Thursday, July 5, 2012

9 Innings

I think 9 innings is too much of a good thing. I could happily watch maybe 4 innings of a baseball game, particularly if you didn't have to pay $3.50 for a bottle of water, or even if the water fountain was working. Or even if my broken toe were not throbbing and aching as though the tendons were slowly being chewed apart by millions of tiny sharp toothed ants. 4 innings of anything seems quite sufficient to me. But then the fireworks came. After sitting in the 95 degree stands for 9 (interminable) innings, watching the bats come out as dusk descended, trying to find a comfortable position for my broken toe....after all that, the full moon rose like a pumpkin in the inky darkness and then a good half hour of magnificent music blared into the night, accompanied by the fireworks that were nothing short of dazzling. AH! Happy Birthday, my beloved nation, one nation under God!

Asherel and I leave this morning for a week to NY to visit my folks. I almost snagged a rescue dog that needed a free trip up north to his forever home, but in the end, it fell through. Maybe next time. Apparently, whenever anyone travels, it is good to let the rescue grapevine know. They have an underground railroad for doomed dogs snatched from gas chambers. Sometimes all the dog needs is a free ride North, and a family is waiting to throw their arms around his furry face. Keep that in mind friends, when you travel and have a little extra room in your car. The rescue folks will arrange to drop off the dog, and then pick up wherever you can manage to get the dog if it is in the right direction.

So this week is filled with God and patriotism and family. Now those are three things that should go at least the full nine innings....

Nehemiah 2:6,18,20 (NIV)
Then the king , with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time. [18] I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. [20] I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Better Fishing Grounds

I called the radio station to talk with management about an issue, and was put on hold. When a voice spoke to indicate I had been taken off hold, an old crackly voice said, "I want to tell you, put Vince Coakley back on the radio! I don't like at all that you took him off and I want him back!"
"Excuse me?" I said.
"What were you thinking?" screeched the voice, "I think he ought to be back on the radio!"
"I think you want to be talking to someone else," I said, "I am not with the radio station. I am just on hold waiting to talk to someone. I think there has been some sort of mixed lines."
(I sure hope I am not being broadcast at this moment, I thought.)
"Well," said the voice, "Then when you get connected, would you tell them for me that Vince Coakley should be back on the radio....well, I suppose you may be one of them that wanted him off..."
"It might be best if you talk to them yourself," I suggested, "And to someone who can make a difference. I'm just waiting on hold like you...."

We said our goodbyes and I was connected later to the appropriate person. I told them there was an irate listener who wanted Vince Coakley back on the radio. After that, I hobbled to the shoe store and asked the salesperson to find me sandals that protected my toes and also would make me able to walk pain free with my broken toe. Instead of laughing at me, the salesman brought me many choices. I actually found a pair that might work. I walked out of there with almost no pain.

But the best part of the day was taking Asherel and her friend Josh kayaking. We went to the Catawba river and kayaked out to our favorite sandbar. It was still a scorching hot day, so they submerged themselves like hippos, hiding from the heat. I prowled the nearby shoreline in my kayak. In one of the quieter coves, I spied a blue heron, fishing in the shallow water. Quietly, I glided slowly towards him. I got within 5 feet of him before he decided to fly to another near shore. As soon as he landed, he speared a fish and gobbled it up. I had felt bad disturbing his hunt when I crept close, but now I was happy that I had spooked him off to better fishing grounds. Sometimes it takes a friendly nudge, even a frightening nudge to propel you to a more advantageous place in life.

I suppose in a way that is what the trials in life do for us- they propel us to a place we would not go otherwise. And sometimes, when we get there, hobbling with broken toes, unfulfilled hungers, and broken phone lines of communication, we find ourselves in a place where the fishing is much better, we connect with the One we were meant to be talking to, and we figure out what it is we need to not hurt.

Daniel 8:9-14 (NIV)
Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. [10] It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. [11] It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. [12] Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. [13] Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled---the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?” [14] He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.”

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I call you friend

At least my injured ulnar nerves seemed mostly healed before I broke my toe. One part of my body seems to always be in pain, but I am grateful it is not all of it all at once. I plan to do a lot of biking and kayaking this summer until my toe heals. I guess my running career will be put on hold. Too bad, as I was quickly approaching the blistering pace of 15 minute miles. Each year, I tick another minute onto the time it takes per mile. Soon, I will be shuffling along like all the people I used to make fun of in my youth. What goes around, comes around....

I had a few major setbacks in my book writing yesterday. The opus magnificent that was to win me a Nobel is now to be split into two opus minors. It is too depressing a tale to whine about right now, so I am just forging ahead with as positive an attitude as I can muster when one's vision ends up being forced into ugly corrective lenses. My solace? If God desires it to happen, it will all turn out well in the end.

I was rocking on my front porch with one of my favorite friends on earth, and we were talking about many things, but something she said really struck me. She said that when she was growing up, there were many very hard times, but she always KNEW that God was there, and she always knew Him to be a friend. She said it in a way that didn't sound contrived or hokey, the way that *can* sound on insincere lips. She said it with so much love and trust and vivid memory that I could feel how closely she and God walked with each other. I found it very comforting because I see God in many ways, but I do not often see Him as my friend. However, sometimes, more than anything, what one needs is a friend.

John 15:15-17 (NIV)
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. [16] You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit---fruit that will last---and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. [17] This is my command: Love each other.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org

Monday, July 2, 2012

Giving Thanks

Charlotte was hotter than it has been in all its recorded history. 105 degrees. I taped my broken toe up really well and called Comer. May as well sit inside reading to him since there was no way I would venture outdoors in this oven of a day. Unfortunately, Comer's room seemed to have very poor air conditioning. I began pouring sweat as soon as I walked in his room. I asked Comer if now that he had heard all the chapters of my book about him, would he like to hear the other chapters?
"I would indeed," he said.

He had not been really thrilled that he was sharing the book with another major interviewee, as well as a very unusual second thread to the story. It is a secret for now what this thread is about. When the book comes out, I will tell you. But I had to talk him into it, explaining I had actually started that part of the book before I even thought of writing about Comer. He had initially not been interested in hearing me read that part as he claimed he wouldn't understand it.

But, trapped by his health, and me trapped by the heat and a broken foot, we decided to read the book now from page one. I read 3 hours in that sweltering room, until I lost my voice. When I finished, he said, "Well now I can't wait to hear how you solved that mystery!" The second thread is a mystery story of sorts.
"Well when I come back and read some more, you will see how it is solved, because I do solve it," I said.
I figure he will not die on me until he knows how the mystery is solved.
"So you don't mind this being in the book with your story any more?" I asked.
"No!" he said, "You, as always, know best."
I of course know I don't always know best, if EVER, but it felt good to have that vote of confidence.

When I got home there was a note from my cousin, Ruth. She and her family had something they wished to say to Comer. With her permission I will print her note below because I thought as I was watching my old friend dying, as all WW2 vets are similarly disappearing from our world, it is a good note for all of us to consider.

" Gary and all of us have a message we would like you to tell Comer. Gary came home from the grocery store with the little veteran's flower yesterday. Told me the Vet was a Korean War vet, and was explaining to the kids why the Korean War is called the Forgotten War. As always, he said that they stopped to give a couple of dollars, and talk to the guy for a minute or two. They always shake their hand and tell them "Thank you for your service to our country." The Veterans are always a bit shocked when they do. Not many people do that, some have said no one has ever done that. If we see men in uniforms, around town, at the train station, when we're out, Gary will always take a minute to go up to them and tell them Thank You for what you are doiing for us, and shake their hand. Now, I have seen Alex do the same thing, even when his dad is not there to lead the way. Allison is a bit small and shy, yet, to go near them on her own. So, after Gary told me about their time spent with the Veterans outside our supermarket, I told him about your recent reports on Comer. Gary asked me to tell you to tell him, for us, again, Thank You for serviing our country and all that you went through for us. Since Gary was a history major, he is familiar with the where & what of the places Comer was in battle that you mentioned a while back, and he has more appreciation than most who weren't actually there, I would guess, for just how bad it was. So please tell Comer, from all of us, Thank You for all he went through serving our country."

I really loved her note, the sentiment, and the kindness. I promised to get the message to Comer. As I lay in bed during the massive thunderstorm that was chasing away the oppressive heat, I spent a good bit of time saying "Thank You" to God, another being that probably doesn't hear that sentiment nearly enough.

Psalm 118:17-24,29 (NIV)
I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. [18] The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. [19] Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. [20] This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. [21] I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. [22] The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; [23] the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. [24] The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. [29] Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org