Thursday, February 28, 2013

Love Your Dog

I belong to an awesome Facebook group of Carolina Dog owners. I know lots of people don't believe Carolina Dogs are a breed, (yes N.A., I am talking to you) and I wouldn't either except when you go to the Carolina Dog Facebook page, every dog is identical to my Honeybun. If they aren't a breed, then neither are poodles, because they are just as distinct. They have a research page too, and there are people on there that have studied the genetics of dog fur for over 20 years. Some have studied noses! When I told that researcher my Carolina Dog had a liver colored nose, he begged for a picture. I sent it, and a long discussion of her genetic code ensued. Then he asked for a close up of her toenails. She has brown toenails, with one black one. I never even noticed that, but it all made sense to him, along with her liver colored nose. I am having a blast chatting with these folk. Meanwhile, I am in contact with a researcher from Scandinavia who studied the genetic proof of the Asiatic origin of Carolina Dogs. He is exchanging emails with me as I quiz him about his methodology. He is quick to admit that there is no genetic test for Carolina Dogs and doesn't seem at all nonplussed by my questions, which border on skepticism. With all the very deep struggles our family is enduring right now, this is just plain fun for me.

Meanwhile, Asherel and I both seem to have a mild flu. I am on the tail end of it, she is in the midst. So school is at a standstill. I have a chance to catch up to her in Moby Dick and slogged my way through another few hundred pages. Melville spends quite a bit of time discussing various attributes of the whale. I read carefully, looking for clues of symbolism. Is Moby Dick God? Look at this passage from Moby Dick:

“I know not even the tail of this whale, how understand his head? much more, how comprehend his face, when face he has none? Thou shalt see my back parts, my tail, he seems to say, but my face shall not be seen. But I cannot completely make out his back parts; and hint what he will about his face, I say again he has no face.”

I read that segment, and instantly thought of the following passage from the Bible:

Exodus 33:22-23 (NIV)
When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. [23] Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

There is now no doubt in my mind that Moby Dick is the symbol of God. I only have a few hundred pages to go before I know if God or Ahab wins. I suspect I know the outcome of this battle.

Melville, the author, is now dead. He knows the outcome of the battle as well. In the end, we all will. I guess the key is trying to live allied with the winner while we can still choose sides.

We may not see His face, just like Melville warns us, but the tail is evidence. Don't ignore the presence of the tail.

"What do the liver nose and brown claws and single black claw tell you?" I begged the researcher on the Carolina Dog Research site.
"That you should love your dog as much as she loves you," he said.
Amen. Good answer!

Psalm 24:5-6 (NIV)
They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. [6] Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.

-save a dog-

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Whale's Eyes

I am closing in on the last few hours of reading Moby Dick's conclusion. I admit I am skimming the details that are slowing down the action. However, there is one detail that I paused at, and thought about. It is one of those things that is obvious, but I am not sure I ever really pondered it before. A whale, unlike humans, has eyes on the far sides of its head. In the case of a whale like Moby Dick, a Sperm Whale, the distance between those two eyes is enormous, the fields of vision diametrically opposed, and separated by a huge wall of blackness (the whale's block-like gigantic snout.) So what exactly does the whale see? Unlike us, with two eyes that merge one visual field complete with depth perception, the whale must see two completely different scenes simultaneously. And I don't see how there could be depth perception since that requires two sources of vision from different vantage points on the same object. Whale's don't have that. They see two totally different worlds at the same time.

This is mind boggling to me. The whale sees the separate world on either side of his body, but only a vast wall of darkness ahead. What a marvel is the brain that allows him to process these two disparate visions and not spend all day every day sitting on the bottom of the ocean saying, "Way cool!" until he drowns!

What if he sees an enemy approaching from the right and from the left? What a conundrum for the whale brain to respond to. Perhaps that is why God gave him no natural enemies...except Man. I am not loving the story of Moby Dick. It horrifies me to visualize the killing of these magnificent, intelligent, peaceful creatures.

I thought about how difficult it would be to not be able to look ahead, to only know what is going on to either side of you. I know they have other senses like sonar, but still, I can't imagine seeing like a whale. But the more I thought of it, the more sense it made. We humans are obsessed with moving forward, with single minded purpose, and often tunnel vision. Our very ocular structure is designed for linear, singular purpose. On the other hand, the peaceful whale takes in his surroundings. He considers "both sides of the story" simultaneously, and each has equal access to his brain. Somehow, the disparate become one within the whale skull, and harmonize. Maybe that is why the whale undulates through the ocean singing songs while we humans are continually engaged in conflict.

Psalm 34:14-15 (NIV)
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. [15] The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry

-save a dog-

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Moby Dick and Other Troubles

I have a terrible cold that blew up in my immune system Sunday and felled me for two miserable days. I lay on my recliner and read Moby Dick, which in case you never heard of it, is about a whale. I think Melville spends entirely too many hundreds of pages setting the scene. I just want to cut to the chase...does Ahab get the whale or not? Don't spoil it for me. I still have about a thousand pages to go and remarkably have read every classic on earth, except Moby Dick. So I don't know for sure how it ends. I don't have a good feeling it will end well for Ahab, but that's ok. I am rooting for the whale, anyway.
I would be further along but I kept falling asleep. This is not necessarily an indictment of Melville's writing, though it might be. It was more likely due to my illness.

While I fluttered in and out of consciousness, we got a call from the Nursing Home. Mom K, having fully regained her strength, was up to her old tricks. She walked to the bathroom without calling for help, fell, and hit her head again. So Arvo raced off to the ER where Mom K had been brought...again. In my feeble condition, it was now up to me to stay upright long enough to retrieve daughter Asherel from an all day special chemistry intensive class at the end of the day. I didn't feel up to that at all, but I had no choice. I laid aside my harpoon, and grabbed a big box of tissues and went off to do what I had to do, sneezing.

This morning, I got up feeling much better, but there was a text sent in the wee morning hours from Asherel. Now she has the crud, and can't go to the expensive second day of the special class. In my head, I am singing, "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen...."

I read that Moby Dick is a symbol of God. Ahab is obsessed with finding what he considers a malevolent Being. Perhaps that is because Ahab of the Bible was a malevolent being himself, and maybe the ocean reflects not what is within, but who is looking at it. The whale is hidden from sight, in the depths of an ocean of things we cannot understand or penetrate easily. Just like God, the whale is usually incomprehensible, hidden, and powerful. His ways are not our ways. We may spend our entire life looking for Him, but not see Him till the end. I don't know if this analysis of whale as God is true or not. I will decide when I finish the book, but I could see how a case could be made for that interpretation.

After picking up Asherel, I got a two piece meal from KFC since Arvo wouldn't be home from the ER for hours, and I didn't feel well enough to make dinner. I ordered 2 chicken breasts, to go. One for Asherel and one for me. Would have been perfect, except when we got home, we discovered there was a wing and a chicken breast. So I had a wing for dinner. One tiny little wing. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I wanted to call KFC, or even in my illness, storm back and demand my grilled chicken breast. Or a refund. Or both!
"Nobody knows my sorrow...," I sang.

I thought of Ahab, and his picture of God (whale) as evil, bent on destroying him. Moby Dick was responsible for chewing off one of Ahab's legs, and so Ahab's mission in life was to find Moby Dick and exact retribution. Ahab is consumed by his hatred and desire for vengeance. In the end, I am pretty sure he will be destroyed. (Again, don't tell me if I am right. In a thousand pages, if I can stay awake, I will find out.) Nonetheless, it is already quite clear that Ahab is wasting what he has, losing the potential for happiness, in his quest to hold the whale accountable for the loss of his leg. The tragedy is not the loss of his is losing the rest of his life to anger, and hatred, and revenge, and despair.

I ate the small wing, which turned out to be just the right size for a slightly upset stomach, and was glad for the text from Arvo that Mom K was going to be fine. Then I snuggled back into my recliner with my box of tissues, and opened Moby Dick, anxious to see if the Great Whale or Ahab would prevail.

Psalm 40:11-13,16 (NIV)
Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. [12] For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. [13] Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me. [16] But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!”

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen
Nobody knows my sorrow
Nobody knows the trouble I've seen
Glory hallelujah!
Sometimes I'm up, sometimes I'm down
Oh, yes, Lord
Sometimes I'm almost to the ground
Oh, yes, Lord
Although you see me going 'long so
Oh, yes, Lord
I have my trials here below
Oh, yes, Lord
If you get there before I do
Oh, yes, Lord
Tell all-a my friends I'm coming to HEAVEN!
Oh, yes, Lord

-save a dog-

Monday, February 25, 2013


My dog is deaf. I am pretty sure of this, though she compensates well. When the dog who once was a starving mess of skin and bones doesn't even shift her ears when I say, "Want a biscuit?", I can safely conclude, she is deaf. There is nothing anyone can do about it, and she doesn't seem to care, but it makes me sad, nonetheless. She will never hear me say, "Good dog," again. It makes me wish I had said it more when I knew she could hear it.

I show her she is a good dog. I sit beside her and stroke her soft fur. She startles because she doesn't hear me coming, but then seems glad that I am beside her. It reminds me how important it is to say the things we want our loved ones to hear while they can still hear us. Before time, or age, or distance, or deafness separates us... we all should say, "Good Dog. You are a good dog."

Psalm 38:13-15,21-22 (NIV)
I am like the deaf, who cannot hear, like the mute, who cannot speak; [14] I have become like one who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. [15] Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. [21] Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. [22] Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.

-save a dog-

Sunday, February 24, 2013

As For The Lord

It was damp, cold, and rainy all day yesterday. Fortunately, I had to be home anyway to manage my DI team practice so it was a good day to be stuck indoors. The team is on a roll. Something seems to have clicked, and they are getting a great deal done. Not a minute too soon. The deadline looms but I think they will make it. I love it when at the end of the session, not me but they look at what they accomplished and say, "Wow, we got a lot done today!" There is great reward in working through hard things towards a defined goal, in disciplining oneself to do what is required even when it is not exciting or as entertaining as what one might prefer to be doing. To manage one's time well when one is young and time seems infinite is a challenge.

My goals for them are different than their goals for themselves I suspect. I want them to be creative within set parameters. Creativity is not anarchy, but kids don't always start off knowing that. I want them to abide by the rules, and understand that rules are not in place to stifle, but to protect. (themselves, each other, my home....)I want them to learn to be respectful of each other and of each others' work, while doing the very best they can individually. The balance of initiative and team cooperation is not always an easy one to strike, but I think they are learning. I want them to stretch for excellence over fun. Best of all, I want them to learn that excellence *is* fun, and in the long run, of more lasting value. I think it builds a sense of pride and worth that no one feels when they do less than what they are capable of. It seems to me that fun should be the by-product....not the goal.

As manager, I have a tough job. I am not allowed to help them, but I am allowed to ask a lot of questions to make them think, explore ideas they might not have arrived at on first impulse. My job is to make it a little less likely that they will fail.

They wanted to saw a chain in half yesterday. I stayed near, as I saw fingers dangerously close to the saw. They were not having much success. My husband asked if he could do it for them.
"No," we all said.
What we needed were bolt cutters, but we didn't have bolt cutters. They put down the saw, deciding it was not going to work. Failure teaches many lessons, but if I can give them the tools to succeed, how much better! But honestly, it would be much easier to help them, to just do it for them.

In a way, it is like fallible humans being given free will, and yet God sends us rules and guidelines to make it less likely we will fail. He could do it for us...He could do anything. But He doesn't. He sends us out, and watches, and I suspect cringes as the "saw comes dangerously close to our fingers." He corrects and admonishes and guides not out of harshness, but out of love. He is rooting for us, but perhaps not for what we think we want. Not once in the Bible does He tell us to go out and "have fun"...He tells us to go out and "be ye perfect as I am perfect." Our goal is not self satisfaction, but to work for The Lord, and to His glory not our own. Most of us don't like restraints on our behavior, but if we abide by His guidelines, we are much more likely to have success without regrets.

I was with half the group in the living room, watching them practice when there was a triumphant shout from the sunroom where all the DI supplies were scattered like confetti on the giant work table. One of the team members had stayed behind, picked up the saw and stuck with it, till the chain was severed.

Colossians 3:17,23 (NIV)
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. [23] Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters

-save a dog-

Saturday, February 23, 2013

If God is For Me

The Bible says:
If God is for us, who can be against us?

Sometimes, it feels like the answer is : *everyone*
But that is a lie from the Enemy that wears down our spirit.

There are so many circumstances that overwhelm us. My first book has had a surge and is again number one in two categories on Amazon. I should have been satisfied with that. But I read every review, despite knowing there will always be some people who won't like my books. There will always be people who don't like ME. My first book is the highest rated dog book on Amazon, so MOST people give it 5 stars. But I recently got a 3 star review. She found the book fun to read, but gave it 3 stars because she didn't like my whining about the struggles to tame the aggressive dog.

Of course, at first I threw a shoe at my iPad, and then I went off on a diatribe about how ignorant people can be, and why do they bother to read my books if they don't understand the essential use of the literary device of "whining"? And then when I settled down, I wondered sadly if maybe I do whine too much. Yes, I decided, sometimes I do.

This is often the progression of my emotions in the face of criticism:
anger, denial, depression, acceptance. On good days, there is then a fifth part of the progression- determination to be better.

It is at this point that the verse I quoted at the start of the blog comes into play. I can do it. I can be better. I can glorify God through my life. Because if God is for me, it doesn't matter who is against me.

Daniel 3:16-18 (NIV)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. [17] If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. [18] But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ”

-save a dog-

Friday, February 22, 2013

Risk and Respect

At the last minute, I got my minimum number necessary (and then some!) to run a homeschool group to ski, and we dashed off with a couple of friends in tow to my favorite ski mountain. They were delightful kids, so respectful that they waited for me to return from filling my water bottle before diving ravenously into lunch during a ski break. After skiing for two hours, we were all starving. I had pulled their lunches out of the locker and then gone off for about ten minutes, during which time Asherel ran up to the cafeteria to buy a drink. When I returned, the lunches were untouched, the boys looking longingly at their meal. That simple act of consideration touched me deeply. It is those small acts of respect that divulge character.

As we ate lunch, I told them they should try the ski run on the far left of the mountain. It also goes to the peak, though is a slightly lower peak than the right side of the mountain. But far fewer people seem to go to that side and there was never a line for the chair lift. The three kids discussed that, and decided after lunch they would do so. They finished before I did and headed out. I never attempt to ski with Asherel and her friends. First, that is mortifying to a teenager, and second, they go about a thousand miles an hour faster than me.

When I came out, I put on my skis, and started off to my favorite run on the left side of the mountain. With horror, I saw that not only was the lift not running, but emergency personnel were lowering kids off of the ski chairs dangling in the air. They had a rope/pulley system and were going to each chair, one by one, rescuing kids.
"What happened?" I asked a somewhat distraught parent.
"The cable came off a wheel," she said.
"Is anyone hurt?"
"No, but they have to belay everyone off the lift. My kids are on there, freaking out." She held a phone in her hand, and I realized she was talking periodically with them.
Where was my kid!?

Before I had time to panic, I spotted Asherel and her friends a little ways off. Joe had needed to return to the locker, and they were only now getting on their skis. All the kids on the chair lift were safely lowered, and the lift fixed a short time later. I noticed few people were going on it, however. Nonetheless, I was glad I had been spared the heart stopping fear of a child in potential danger.

No, instead of the fear of them dangling on a stopped chair lift, they were able go to the top of a mountain and then hurtle down at some 30 mph or so on a thin stick, weaving among trees and other people on a controlled free-fall. Whew!
Funny sometimes the risks we accept contrasted with those we feel we could not bear.

Life is fraught with danger. It is all a calculated risk, every waking moment. To not take risk is to not live. Death is simultaneously the reason we avoid risk, and the only permanent antidote to risk taking.

Epaphroditus, a friend of Paul in the Bible was a risk taker. But the risks he took were in service to God. I am not sure what happened, but he almost died risking his life for others in the service of the Gospel.

I thought about risk, loving others, consideration and respect for others beyond ones' own needs as I skied down the hill. When I reached the bottom, I noticed the newly fixed chair lift was empty. No one else was braving it after the recent scare. I turned into the loading section, and settled down on the chair as it lifted high above the ground, thinking of the beauty that awaited me at the top.

Philippians 2:29-30 (NIV)
So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, [30] because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

-save a dog-

Thursday, February 21, 2013

God Can Use Anyone

I had worked through the Bible so started back at Genesis. I just hit the story of Jacob and Esau. I feel really sorry for Esau. Poor Esau cannot catch a break. First he foolishly barters away his rights of double inheritance as the first born son for a bowl of lentil soup. Jacob has made a delicious lentil soup, and Esau returns home, ravenous. He asks for soup, but his wily brother Jacob sees an opportunity to take what is not his. He offers Esau the soup, but only in return for Esau's "birth right" as the first born son. Esau cannot see beyond his immediate physical needs, and agrees. Esau is short sighted, but I find Jacob more despicable. How could he do that to his brother?

And it gets worse. The boys' father, Isaac, tells Esau to bring him some tasty meat from the hunt, after-which he will receive a blessing. The blessing has particular significance and was to be bestowed only upon the first born son. However, his conniving brother Jacob overhears and sneaks in first with his own tasty meat, and convinces the near blind father that it is Esau. Jacob receives the blessing that was rightfully Esau's. Then poor Esau returns, and cries out in heart wrenching sobs, "Bless me too, Father!" But Isaac cannot. He has given his blessing of the first born son irrevocably to Jacob.

I personally want to smack Jacob for being such an unkind, unloving brother, for cheating and scheming to get what he wanted, for being such a selfish jerk. And I want to smack Esau for valuing so little what was of such worth, while valuing too much what would only satisfy for a moment.

And yet, Jacob becomes the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, the patriarch of God's chosen people. Esau becomes the progenitor of the Edomites. Why does God use such reprehensible, flawed people as Jacob from which many generations later Jesus himself would be born?

Because He had no choice. We are all flawed. That is exactly His point. We are all, at times, unloving, unkind, selfish, scheming, unfaithful, short-sighted, and concerned with the temporal at the expense of the eternal. God uses us anyway, just like He used Jacob. And out of that sorry mess of mankind, a savior would one day be born, reminding us that God can use anyone. Even me.

Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [24] and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

-save a dog-

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

If All I have is Today

You never know what wonderful surprises Homeschool Gavel Club speakers might hold for you. One of the speakers yesterday recreated the commencement speech Steve Jobs gave to Stanford University. I have long admired Steve Jobs- doesn't everyone- but one part of the speech really struck me. He told the students that as a young man he heard the advice to live each day as if it were his last. He said that death is one of the greatest gifts in life, because it makes us evaluate and use our time wisely. Every morning, he would look in the mirror and think, if this were the last day in my life, would I be spending it the way I intend to today? If the answer was "no" for many days in a row, he knew he needed to reassess what he was doing.

I thought about that as I sat in the Gavel Club room, watching the back of my curly haired daughter's head as she also listened to the speech. I would want to be with loved ones, I thought. I would want to be right with God. I would want to perhaps draw a beautiful picture, or write a beautiful paragraph, stroke the heads of my dogs, eat lobster dipped in butter, be surrounded by the wonder of God's creation. And how lovely that yesterday, except for the lobster, I had come close to how I would have wanted to live my last day, though it would have been closer if all of my loved ones were near.

I don't know if Steve Jobs was a believer. But God also cautions us to live life wisely, regarding every moment as precious, as an opportunity, as something we should not squander. Hearing Steve Jobs' speech about death now, after he had died, was sobering. I prayed that he had indeed known God, and could reflect in Heaven upon how he had spent his time on earth without regret. If today is all I have, may it be the very best today it can be, devoted to the One who made the day in the first place.

Ephesians 5:15-20 (NIV)
Be very careful, then, how you live---not as unwise but as wise, [16] making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. [17] Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. [18] Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, [19] speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, [20] always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

-save a dog-

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Prednisone makes you really hungry, so I am told. Poor Honeybun who never met a foodlike substance she didn't want to eat, is now prowling like a shark. She noticed that Lucky had spilled a small piece of his food over the side of his bowl, and she stealthily slinked in and snatched it before he even knew what was happening. I banished her from the kitchen, but not before she had stolen two little morsels of his fallen food. Lucky, who is not on Prednisone, and never starved a moment of his life, gave up those little morsels without any chagrin. He is a good natured dog when it comes to food. Another friend warned me that dogs on prednisone can become aggressive. I haven't seen any sign of that at all in Honeybun, except the aggressive pursuit of food.

While the starving dog drama was unfolding, my little fun manual, The Well Trained Human, was being promoted and was free yesterday and today on Amazon. It quickly spurted to #1 in its category, and I got a couple of new reviews. One person hated it. Gave me one star. One star! I felt like slitting my throat. it was just meant to be a fun, quick read for dog lovers, not a Pulitzer nominee. But star? Maybe I need to throw in the towel, I thought. I definitely do not have thick enough skin to be a writer. A writer bares her soul, and opens it to being hacked away and gobbled up by total strangers as surely as Honeybun had gobbled Lucky's kibble. Why didn't I become a Dry Cleaner instead? Then at least it's not my own dirty laundry being hung out for everyone to see....

Others have been despised. I am not alone. the Bible records that when Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls of ransacked Jerusalem, he was mocked. He didn't give up. He didn't wallow in despair and wonder why no one liked him or just gave him one star. He turned to God. He begged God to hear his cries of despair, and turn the insults of his enemies back on their own heads. And he kept building the wall, because that is what he felt God had called him to do.

Honeybun searches every corner for some forgotten tidbit of food. I continue writing and trying to improve. God is watching us both, wondering why we are so certain He would let us starve.

Nehemiah 4:4 (NIV)
Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.

Nehemiah 4:19-20 (NIV)
Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. [20] Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”

-save a dog-

Monday, February 18, 2013

Be Happy

I went on a run in the snow covered morning yesterday. It was nirvana. Every limb of every tree was encrusted in ice and snow, and the morning sun shimmered and danced, sparkling on the tinseled twigs. Lucky, who never wants to run with me any more, begged to join me. We both pranced through the winter wonderland, delighting in being alive. Honeybun, who has made a miraculous recovery from her mysterious ailment, asked to go next. I took her for her first walk in 5 days, and she skittered joyfully, tiptoeing on the snow. When we got back, I noticed a little snowman Arvo had built on the deck railing. It had little glasses and a smile made of pipe cleaners, and a baby carrot nose. One could not look at that little snowman without laughing in delight.

Later in the day, Arvo and I went to visit Mom K in the nursing home. Her own miraculous recovery was continuing. She was laughing and jabbering on and on, sometimes making sense, sometimes not. But she was happy.
"Matt and Karissa made the finals in their law school contest," I told her.
She smiled widely and held her arm up high in the air.
"Come here!" she yelled.
"What are you doing Mom?" asked Arvo.
"I get you," I laughed, "You are happy for them."
"Of course," she said, "I am congratulating them."
I clasped her upraised hand and we laughed.

When we brought her to the "common area" where other residents were gathered, a very vivacious woman introduced herself.
"This is Gert," I said, introducing Mom K.
"And this is my sister," said Mom K, introducing me. Her sister? She beamed at me.
"I'm Vicky," I said, shaking the woman's hand, "I'm her daughter in law, and that is Arvo, her son."
"So!" cried Mom K, "That's what it is!"

King Solomon knew that joy was ephemeral. When times are good, be happy, he advised in the book of Ecclesiastes. This is important. Very important.

It was a happy day. From beginning to end there was beauty, and joy, and miracles. I was a little sad to see the snow had nearly melted away by the late afternoon. The little snowman Arvo had made lost an arm, and his belly was looking mighty anorexic. I noticed Arvo creep out, gather the last little remains of snow on the deck and patch up the little snowman. Sometimes we need to hang on to joy as long as possible. You never know when you may need those memories.

Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NIV)
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.

-save a dog-

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Falling Down Like Snow

There was a brief dusting of snowfall yesterday morning. If you blinked you missed it. The morning spate of flakes was brief and then melted upon impact.I was glad that it didn't stick, much as I longed to cross country ski again. The Destination Imagination team had a long practice here, and with just a month till the State competition, they needed the time to work. Desperately as I would have loved to see a coating of snow, I was glad for their sake that the roads were clear. I hid out in a back room while very loud, booming, electronic sounding music pounded through the house, shaking the walls. There were several very loud klunks, occasionally intertwined with the music. It sounded like skulls hitting the floor, but I had vowed to stay out of it. Whatever was falling in the living room was not as light as snow. I figured if someone needed an ambulance, they would eventually find me.

So I sat in my quiet(er) back room, wishing it were sound-proof, but glad for at least the minimal muffled effect. And I looked out the window while reading Bible verses about snow. Snow is a blessing, often described in the Bible as a metaphor for God's covering over our sin. I love Isaiah 55, where God reminds His people that snow is a blessing from God- He sends it with the express purpose of watering the earth and yielding the conditions needed for seeds to grow into food for His people. LIke the snow, God tells us His word proceeds from His mouth, and will accomplish His purposes. I sat by the window, imagining myself swirling in the whiteness holding my arms out palms up to catch His words drifting down.

When I emerged from my safe room, I was pleasantly surprised by all the DI team had accomplished. And then, just as DI practice ended, the sky started pouring snow, covering over all the dirty patches!

Isaiah 55:10-11 (NIV)
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, [11] so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

-save a dog-

Saturday, February 16, 2013

What Big Ears You Have....

I have a sweet art student I have worked with for years. Like many of my students, I have watched her grow up. When I decided I needed a breather from my group class, she asked to continue privately. I don't do private lessons as I just don't have the time, but this one is a special kid who soaks up my instruction like a sponge and is a delightful person to just be with. So we sit together quietly once a month for an hour drawing. She brought a picture of a Fennec Fox for us to work on her charcoal skills. It was very difficult to draw because my hand was shaking so much from laughing. Look at this creature! How does he hold up his head with ears that size!?

When I could stop chuckling long enough to draw a line, I began to think about the wisdom of this design. I think most of the trouble in the world would end if God had just given us big Fennec Fox ears and a tiny Fennec Fox mouth...or maybe no mouth at all. I know I certainly need to do more listening and less talking, but it is so hard!

Maybe that is why God doesn't materialize physically since Jesus came and went. He gives us a Book, so all we can do is listen but there is no one in sight to argue with. I think in many ways, God is directing me to shut up and listen.

I put the Fennec Fox picture on display in my favorite room so I pass it often and try to HEAR the message.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV)
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live [20] and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.

-save a dog-

Friday, February 15, 2013

Led Forth in Peace

We had planned a family Valentine ski trip but then Honeybun developed a wobbly problem, and one of us had to stay home with her. Since I had organized the Homeschool group trip and had to pass out the tickets, we couldn't cancel altogether. Arvo wanted to stay home with other work to do, so he was left in charge of our poor dog, and Asherel and I went off to the snow. I was worried about our little dog, but she was improving a little, and I knew she would sleep most of the day under the medication anyway.

After one run down the hill, Asherel sat at the bottom waiting for me...and waiting for me...and waiting for me! I am much slower than she is, being much older and much more prone to breaking. So I sent her happily off all by herself and we planned to meet back together at dinner time. I know most people probably like having someone to ski with, but honestly, I think there is almost nothing so close to ecstasy as skiing all alone on a powdery hill just at the right level of difficulty with the sun shining and the silence of a mountaintop enveloping me. It is so peaceful and the view is so stunning. My mind empties of all the woes of the past month, of which there seem to have been many, and I just feel deep gratitude to God for the glory and beauty of His world. I didn't think about nursing homes, or dying friends, or beloved sick dogs, or hard patches in relationships, or looming deadlines, or disappointments, or nagging health concerns....All I thought about was that God was here and He had made this glorious mountain and the sunshine and I was blessed beyond measure.

When we got home, Honeybun came running to the door to greet us. She looked perky, and wasn't stumbling or limping. It looks like the vet, Dr. Love, had correctly diagnosed because the medicine was certainly working. The mountain top had not been the only miracle God gently offered me.

Isaiah 55:12 (NIV)
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

-save a dog-

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hidden Malady

Poor Honeybun woke up yesterday morning unable to walk and stumbling like a drunken sailor. She lay her head back down, and didn't even get up at the sound of breakfast preparation. I hurried her to the vet, asking the technicians to come out and carry her in for me. When they did so, and then put her down on the ground, she was able to walk, though still a little wobbly. The vet poked, and pulled, and prodded and decided the issue was not in her legs, as far as he could tell. I told him she had seemed funny all day the day before yesterday and had vomited on her walk. She was sniffing in a corner, at that point, shook her head, and almost fell down. The vet decided that it looked like vertigo, and he suspected an inner ear infection. So, Honeybun is on ear drops, antibiotics, and cortisone pills to heal the suspected ear problem. Since she has the funny dropped ear, she is prone to ear issues. I have had vertigo, and he was right- the way she was stumbling looked like vertigo.

Poor little dog slept all day, drugged out and probably dizzy. The good news was the vet expressed her anal glands, something she has never gotten the knack of doing herself. (If you don't know what that is, don't worry. In this case, ignorance is bliss.) I felt so sorry for her, and wished she could have told us what was wrong. It is so hard when the problem is hidden deep inside and can't be seen or touched...only the awful effects felt.

So it is with hidden sin, I thought. It is why God so abhors sin. It eats away from the inside out, and causes so much pain and despair. And even worse, the psalmist tells us that we are as unable to discern our own sin at times as the vet was unable to discern what hidden problem was causing my dog to reel as though she had consumed a pint of whiskey. What hope is there, then, if we cannot even define the problem!?

None. Outside of God, I believe there is no hope. I am so glad that no one has to remain outside of God unless they so desire.

Psalm 19:12-14 (NIV)
But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. [13] Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. [14] May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

-save a dog-

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Take Heart

While my son in Boston is digging out from under two feet of snow from the blizzard, here in NC, the peepers are croaking and the daffodils are blooming. My mother-in-law is doing unexpectedly better, and my daughter is getting over her nasty cold. I thought it might be one of those rare days when all was hopeful, all was well. I snuck out of my room in the wee morning hours, expecting my beloved Honeybun, who lives to eat, to come scampering after me as usual. As soon as I stir, she is always skittering about my bed, licking any available body part quickly to hurry me to the food bowl. She did not this morning. She was curled up in the hallway, in front of the bathroom. She didn't raise her head when I walked by. When I urged her to follow me to the beloved food bowl, she tried to stand, and then collapsed. Her right back leg seems unable to bear any weight. I brought her food to her, and she eagerly ate. Arvo carried her outside to do her business, and whatever was wrong with her leg seemed a little less wrong. She was able to gingerly put some weight on it, take care of her morning ablutions, and limp slowly back inside. When the vet opens, we will call and bring her in.

"In this world, you will have troubles."

Ain't that the truth? One fire gets doused and another flares elsewhere. Sometimes the whole world seems engulfed in flames. But then there are yellow daffodils raising their petal crowns, and frogs serenading the sun as it stretches warm rays of magenta and gold across a new morning. I think God is reminding me to take heart, He has overcome the world.

John 16:33 (NIV)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

-save a dog-

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Helping Each Other

It really is a miracle. Mom K is talking, smiling, waving at fellow residents...I really thought she would be dead by now, and she has come back to life. I brought her to a lovely parlor in the Home, and we sat looking out over the garden, chatting. It was so nice to hear her speak in complete sentences, smile at my jokes, look at my phone pictures of her grandchildren. When one reaches the age of 88, every day is a blessing, and these are bonus days. I brought her to see the resident dog. The little schnauzer lifted up on his hind legs and placed his front paws on her knees. As she stroked his wiry face, he looked deep into her eyes.

We passed another dog, leading a woman who had multiple deformities in her legs.
She stopped and let us pet her dog.
"Is he a therapy dog?" I asked.
"No, he warns me when I am about to have a seizure," she said.
"How does he know?" I asked.
"I don't know. But he makes me go back to my room and lie down. He is always right."
This dog sniffed us but wasn't interested in us petting him. He had a job and he took it seriously.

I am amazed at how all of God's creations can help each other. We are all part of the pack, and the well being of each member contributes to the well being of the whole. I thought about what helps me sleep soundly at night. A clear conscience. When I am closer to doing all I should do, I sleep better. I guess that is why I have such deep dark circles under my eyes. This morning, when I awoke, I felt almost rested. The day spent at the nursing home, greeting and chatting with the other residents and the quiet happy time with Mom K in the pretty parlor did my soul good. I prayed that today I would use my time well, for God's glory, showing His goodness to all His creatures.

When I wheeled Mom K to the lunch table, two other slack faced residents were already sitting there. Neither glanced at us. They seemed oblivious to the world. I had nothing to lose.
"Hello!" I said cheerfully to the man, "What's for lunch?"
He startled into a huge smile and looked at me, then broke into laughter.
"This is Gert," I said, pointing to Mom K.
She waved. He nodded, still laughing.
Then I turned to the woman on the other side. She still stared blankly straight ahead. I lay my hand on her shoulder and said, "It is nice to see you. My name is Vicky and this is Gert."
She turned to me slowly as if awakening, and a smile crept across her face.
"Nice to meet you," she said.
"Nice to meet you too," said Mom K.

2 Samuel 9:3 (NIV)
The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”

-save a dog-

Monday, February 11, 2013

Now is the Time

We visited Mom K but she was fast asleep. However, it was not a wasted trip. We met her aide for the weekend, who reported that Mom K had not been at all pleased about being woken at 7, and had been "feisty". The aide was understanding, telling Mom K, "Not all of us are morning people, that is ok." She said after that, they had reached an understanding and all was well. Mom K was fine at breakfast, eating and drinking on her own. I insisted we determine what had happened between the comatose state at the hospital, and the returning strength of Mom K, and we tracked down a nurse. He told us that the records showed she was off one of the three same class of drugs she had been on. I am convinced she had been overdosed. I told the nurse we just wanted to be sure she was not put back on that drug. This has not been an easy road we are on.

The little dog who lives at the home greeted us when we arrived. He followed us all the way to the locked doors of the Reminiscence section.
He paused and seemed to want to follow us in there, but we weren't sure he was allowed. So we slipped through the doors and urged the little terrier to stay behind. It was comforting to have him greet us and then stay with us on this unfamiliar journey. But ultimately, in the end, we had to enter the locked gates alone.

One day, we will enter other gates alone. We will give an accounting of our time here on earth, and will wonder if we did all that we could have, all that we should have. It will be too late to step back, and try again then. The time to do that is NOW.

John 5:28-29 (NIV)
“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-

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Times are in Your Hands

Mom K is back to her old self- lucid, talking, enjoying the sunshine on the patio. We don't know what happened. She went from near comatose and dying to her old feisty self. She is still weak, isn't walking...but she is talking again. We did not expect this reprieve and it is a welcome respite in all the sorrow of the past week and months. Just goes to show once again, our times are not in our hands. So we have no right to give up, or to end a life prematurely. You just never know when God will decide to grant another day of warm sunshine on a beloved face. But I would like to say a word to the social worker who suggested we take her off all her meds and let her die: stuff it, lady. I mean that with all godliness and holiness, of course. Now I will go repent of that nastiness, and praise God for this unexpected blessing.

Psalm 31:15-16 (NIV)
My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me. [16] Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.

-save a dog-

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Why I am Not God

Honeybun begs nonstop, but she is a polite beggar. Lucky finishes his food at a leisurely pace, savoring each bite of his dog food and eating more slowly than Honeybun. Meanwhile, Honeybun, having finished her breakfast in a nanosecond, hovers nearby. She sometimes creeps closer and closer so that she is inches from his bowl, and then directs a laser beam stare at his food. I usually step in and tell her to back off. She does so submissively, but then pokes her head around the corner watching him. As soon as he finishes eating, she races to the bowl and licks it in case any molecules, any ATOMS remain.

Then it is time for Asherel to be up and about with her breakfast. Honeybun's begging is now in full gear. We are informal here with breakfast, so Asherel sits on the couch with her food, while I teach our Bible study, lit analysis, and general nagging session. Honeybun crawls onto the couch beside Asherel, lays her head on Asherel's lap, and then gazes directly at the food. She never snatches the food, unless we commit the obvious unintentional invitation to do so by leaving the plate unguarded. Just like with Lucky, if we are still at the food trough, she watches us like a hawk but doesn't take what is not yet hers. She doesn't whine, or bark, or do cute things like prop up on her hind legs with folded front legs. No, she just stares with deep and unsatisfied longing, eyes unblinking.

Sometimes, like disciplined dog owners, we banish her from the room. We know if we give in to her, at least as often as she would like, she would be fat and unhealthy. We know we should be more stern, send her to her bed in no uncertain terms. But usually we don't. How can anyone be impervious to such silent pleas, to such longing for what she knows she can't have but wants so desperately?

In the end, I would not want to be God. I know He hears prayers that seem to us the most rational, and sincere, heart wrenching, and righteous requests possible. But at the same time, what we long for with all our heart is sometimes exactly what we don't need, what we shouldn't have, or what must, at least for now, be deferred. Every parent knows this situation, if she is at all careful in raising her children. They often long for things that in the end will destroy them. Despite their breaking hearts, sometimes we have to say, "No" for their own good, their own character development, their own safety. And just like denying Honeybun our food and second breakfasts, they feel we are cruel and uncaring. They don't see the tears we shed on their behalf, because most parents do that deep in the bowels of their closets. So, I would not want to be God. I could not bear the disappointment on the faces of my beloveds through all the years allotted to them on earth. We may have to endure suffering, but God has to watch His beloveds endure it, and that is much worse. He knows it will all be worth it, but they don't. It just seems harsh.

"Do you want a biscuit?" I inevitably ask Honeybun. She perks up and the woebegone look is replaced with delight as she skitters across the floor to the biscuit pantry. Sometimes I even give her two. And that is another reason why I am not God.

Psalm 6:2-3,8-9 (NIV)
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. [3] My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? [8] Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. [9] The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.

Job 7:2-7 (NIV)
Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired laborer waiting to be paid, [3] so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me. [4] When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn. [5] My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering. [6] “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. [7] Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again.

Psalm 71:19-21 (NIV)
Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things. Who is like you, God? [20] Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. [21] You will increase my honor and comfort me once more.

-save a dog-

Friday, February 8, 2013


It was a gloomy, cold, rainy day yesterday. We visited Mom K in her new digs in the new nursing home. She was sitting with other residents in the community room. She was awake, and said "hello" weakly. We bundled her in the lovely cape I bought her for Christmas and wheeled her around her new home. It is truly a beautiful nursing home, with lovely alcoves and sitting areas spattered about the whole facility. There is a resident dog and a resident cat. Both roam unrestrained around the Home. The dog is very friendly, and loves to be petted. I couldn't wait to meet the elusive cat. I had seen him skitter down Mom K's hallway, so we headed that way to see if we could find him. We did see him, hiding under a desk, and when we approached, he raced back down the hall, slinking as though he were afraid. He ducked into a resident's room, and we could not find him. He didn't seem very friendly, or very anxious to be touched, or even seen. What a strange mascot for a nursing home. Why have a timid, even fearful cat who didn't seem interested in being seen, let alone held, in a place where stroking soft fur would be such a balm?

Just knowing he was there would have to do. The evidence of his presence was readily seen- catfood in a bowl, a small water bowl, a litter box. And while elusive, we had seen him briefly before he disappeared. It would give us something to do while getting to know this new, unfamiliar home with Mom K. We could keep hunting for him, trying to befriend him, and entice him to approach. We would have to follow him, try to discern his ways, reach out to him gently, learn his habits. Perhaps one day, we would touch him. Maybe the cat knew something we didn't know. Maybe the cat realized that sometimes the journey is as important as the goal.

Deuteronomy 4:29-30,39 (NIV)
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. [30] When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. [39] Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.

-save a dog-

Thursday, February 7, 2013


No longer able to borrow the furniture we'd been using for Mom K from the old Home, we had to go buy a dresser for the new Home. While Arvo dealt with the paperwork and other moving details, I went off to Goodwill to find a small dresser. There was a dresser there, but it was large and heavy. That would not do. So I headed off for my first visit to the new Salvation Army store. It was more expensive than Goodwill, and had nicer furniture than we have in our home. (OK, so that is not super hard to do...but still...)

Right away, I spotted two small dressers. Perfect size and one looked antique and charming. Both were in our price range. The other was a more traditional dresser. The charming one was $10 more. Buy or not? I decided to call Arvo and while I was calling, I edged over to the sales desk to ask about the dressers. And as I did so, I saw someone else prowl by both dressers! And then she circled back to my charming one, the one I wanted for Mom K's new room! I hung up on Arvo and told the salesman, "I want one of those, but not sure which one."
"Let's get the tag off each," he said kindly, noticing the prowler, "While you decide so no one else takes the one you decide on."
The woman, who had settled by the charming dresser did not give me the evil eye. In fact, she smiled at me.
She came over and said, "If you tell me what you want the dresser for, perhaps I can help you decide. It is my business. I buy furniture all the time to paint. Whichever one you don't want, I will take."

I was dumfounded. She probably knew quality furniture, as I assuredly did not, and I had only had my eye on it a split second before her. Yet here she was, offering help!
"Well," I said, "My mother-in-law is doing very badly and is being moved into a nursing home. We don't know how long she has, but we have to get her a dresser. She just needs a small one. I know that one over there is a more traditional dresser, but that one..." I pointed to the slightly more expensive one, "I just think is...charming."
"It is charming," agreed the kind woman, "And real wood. I don't think the other one is."
"So you think I should get the charming one?" I asked. I know. Asking the opinion of a complete stranger smacks of the highest degree of insecurity. If you have not had the numbing trauma of a loved one dying, I don't think you can quite understand how your brain dissolves. I hung on this kind woman's every word.
"I do," she said, "It is a lovely piece."
"Sold!" I told the salesman. "And thank you" I told the woman, touching her arm.
"Good luck with your mom," she said.

It is astonishing how much the kindness of strangers can ease sadness. (Not to mention kindness of friends, many of whom have written and offered prayers, meals, and shoulders to cry on.) I would have to hold on to that thought as I walked into Mom K's new home, and all those unfamiliar residents' faces peered at me. I stopped off at CVS for a toiletry kit for Mom K, and walked up to the same dour faced, rude cashier I had seen there a week ago. She looked blankly at me, then looked back down and continued setting some products neatly on the counter, ignoring her customer. I wondered what turmoils in life might have made her so cantankerous, so bitter.
"Hello!" I said with a big smile, "How are you? It is such a pretty day outside, isn't it?"
She looked up, and seemed surprised, then smiled back.

Later, Arvo moved Mom K into her new home with the charming dresser, and the German roommate. She smiled, ate a few bites of food, and then Arvo trimmed her fingernails. He cut one a little short and she yelped.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" he said. Mom K hasn't spoken in 5 days but she looked at him and said,
"Yeah, sure, YOU'RE sorry."

Genesis 21:23 (NIV)
Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you.”

-save a dog-

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Day of Sunsets

We met with hospice yesterday and worked out the details for Mom K's transfer to a new Home today. Hospice will evaluate her tomorrow and begin palliative care immediately. She was pretty non-responsive when we visited her in the hospital, though Arvo very sweetly gave her dribbles of water through a straw. She raised her hand and grasped his hand as he did so, and tried to speak, but neither of us could tell what she was trying to say. I think she was saying, "I love you." I know that is what I would be saying to my children in the same situation.

It was a hard day...a very hard day. But I went to visit the Home we hoped to move her to, and was very impressed. Mom K will room with another woman from Germany, with the same name as her niece! The workers give warm baths to the residents, and rub their feet with oil. When I visited the "Reminisces" section, they were making chocolate chip cookies, and the scent wafted throughout the home. I almost want to be admitted....

We packed up her room in her old Assisted Living Home, and hugged all her old aides, promising to stay in touch. It is all rather numbing, and surreal, but one does what one has to do.

I checked my Facebook notifications, wondering the fate of a Carolina Dog scheduled for early morning euthanization. The dog that looks so much like my Honeybun, was rescued in the final hour. There was a picture posted of him, newly sprung from animal control. He was just a young guy, with his ears perked forward, his expression saying, "I'm ready to start my life now!"

In a day of sunsets, it was a sunrise.

I have to keep an eternal perspective, or life becomes too overwhelming, too grievous. Honestly, I don't know how people without God manage to open their eyes each morning. But it all seems more bearable knowing that God is real, and waiting to welcome anyone who wants to be with Him, anyone who believes and recognizes the need of Him. All the sickness, and suffering, and sadness will be healed in a moment. It will be a time of eternal sunrise.

Luke 4:40 (NIV)
At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.

-save a dog-

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Made for Smiles

Asherel had her monthly volunteer stint helping the residents at the Assisted Living Home learn how to draw. This month, they wanted to draw a bird so she brought a picture of a toucan.
One of the residents was always very solicitous of my mother in law. He leads an exercise class and told me Mom K was his best and favorite student. He always sits by her at events when he can.
"How's Gert?!" he asked, as soon as he saw me, "No one here will tell me anything!"
"Well, she's still in the hospital," I said, "She's ok, but she has been better...."
He looked sad and I wished I could have been more optimistic, said something hopeful. She will not be returning to the assisted living home unless a miracle happens. She will need full skilled nursing care. Arvo is out again chatting with social workers and home administrators to find the best match for her needs. She will be in the hospital till at least Tuesday.
"She did eat a little icecream," I offered Joe.
He nodded and smiled, "That's good!"

Asherel pulled out the picture of the Toucan.
"What's that? A pelican?" asked Joe. His sadness seemed obliterated by the funny bird.
"A toucan," I said.
"Looks like a pelican," he laughed, " A funny bird is the pelican. His beak can hold more than his belly can."

Asherel taught the residents how to draw the toucan, step by step. As usual, three of the residents handed my their paper and said, "You draw it!"
"No,I'll help you, but you draw it," I laughed.
And they did. As the hour flew by, we talked about what Toucan's eat with that big beak. Snakes, frogs, but mostly fruit.
"Frogs are delicious," said Paul, who was very meticulous with his drawing.

When Joe finished his picture, he said, "We should name our birds."
He wrote a name under his picture: Pelly.
"Well my, my," said Clara, "My first work of art." She gazed at her picture.
"What kind of bird is this again?" asked Josie.
"A toucan," I said.
Josie carefully wrote "toucan" under her picture.
"Is that your art student?" asked Joe, as Asherel and I packed up to leave.
"Well, she's my daughter," I said, "But I did teach her to draw."
"Well if you bring another art student, make sure you bring one as pretty as her," he said smiling.
We asked them what they would like to draw next month, and they all agreed they wanted to draw a daffodil.
"With a penguin!" said Joe.
"No!" said the ladies, "Just the daffodil!"
We walked out and it occurred to me that the next time I would be back would be to clean out Mom K's room. We would be taking her furniture and clothes to some other place, a place of strangers. I didn't know how I would be able to tell Joe.

I asked Asherel when we left if she had enjoyed teaching the class. She said she had. Asherel and I had a vigorous discussion of what would be the best angle for the daffodil drawing next month, and how to make it easy for them to use colored pencils to color the flower. It is good to plan ahead to the season of rebirth. It is always nice to remember flowers in the dead of winter, when the image of grey skies and hospitals become too oppressive. Better to dwell on beauty, and images of toucans, one of God's creations surely made to make us smile.

Song of Solomon 2:12-13 (NIV)
Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. [13] The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”

Monday, February 4, 2013

How Many Lights

There were three moments that were worth being in front of the TV last night- the Sandy Hook choir, the Budweiser horse commercial, and that amazing 109 yard touchdown. Otherwise, I felt like I was sitting in front of someone torturing me telling me to tell him there were five lights when I could clearly see only four. This feeling permeates life lately.

Obama: women should be in combat. How many lights do you see?
Me: Four.
Obama: No, five! (hits torture electrodes attached to my brain.) Boy Scout leaders in charge of young boys should be openly gay. How many lights do you see?
Me: Four
Obama: No, five! (hits torture electrodes attached to my brain.)
Superbowl halftime planner: Let me take over sir...this is a difficult case. Beyonce was a talented and exciting person for young women (and men especially) to watch and emulate. How many lights do you see?
Me: Four
Superbowl halftime planner: No, five! (hits torture electrodes attached to my brain.)
Beyonce's performance was in no way an openly sexual, lewd, and distasteful strip tease and soft porn act. How many lights do you see?
Me: Four! I see four lights!!! Doesn't anyone else see four lights!?

Jude 1:17-18,21-23 (NIV)
But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. [18] They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” [21] keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. [22] Be merciful to those who doubt; [23] save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear---hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

-save a dog-

Sunday, February 3, 2013

That None Might Perish

This week I joined two new groups, and both have consumed a great deal of my reading/writing time- the Carolina Dog Rescue group and the Conservative Fifty political group. I have been told many dog rescue people are politically liberal. I don't know if that is true, but I do know that both these groups are in the business of saving lives. One wants to save dogs; one wants to save our country. One tends toward liberal so I am told; one is clearly conservative. I am blown away by the commitment, and desire to do what is right by both these groups. Both care for something greater than themselves. Both use their gifts and time to make the world a better place as far as they can reach. Both groups give me hope.

I always wondered how any single breed rescue could limit themselves to just one breed, since as we all know, every dog should have a chance at life with a wonderful family. One of the posts I stumbled upon while hopping about the group writings said, "We can't save them all, so we choose one, and save him...." One of the posts I just read in the Conservative Fifty said we could not sway everyone's opinions, but we could sway some. Focus on them.

Jesus came to save the world, but many would reject Him and not listen to or care about His offer of eternal life in Him. Nonetheless, Jesus would never close the door or limit the invitation. No one would be denied admittance while he still lived to make the choice, no matter how reluctant or how late the decision. The psalmists and heroes of the Bible often cried out, "How long, O Lord! Why do you wait to bring justice and righteousness and punish all the evil we see around us?"
And God tells us He tarries so that if it is possible, none might perish. His desire is to save us ALL, for His message of love, and mercy to fall upon all our ears, for us all to know Him and be healed and whole, and all united in Him.

Meanwhile, much as I stumble, and falter, and fail, I think my job is to reach everyone within my portion of the world with as much love, forgiveness, kindness, and understanding that I can. I wish I could touch the whole world, and do so perfectly without offending or hurting. I can't. My good intentions often fall short. But I think the message of God is we are not supposed to stop trying. We cannot do it all, and we certainly can't do it perfectly, but we can do one thing, reach one person, save one dog, inspire one hopeful message to glimmer in one person's soul...and then move on to the next one.

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

John 17:11-12 (NIV)
I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. [12] While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

-save a dog-

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Nestled Midst the Grief

It was a hard day. There were a few crises, most before 10 a.m. One was that Mom K was doing very poorly, so Arvo spent the day with her in the ER, and then she was admitted to the hospital. She will be there at least through this morning. She may need skilled nursing upon discharge. We don't know yet. If she does, we will be scrambling to find a place. She is 88 years old, and we know sometimes the poor old body is just ready to throw in the towel. It doesn't make it any easier to deal with how sad and hard it is when a loved one is failing, but it is the way of life.

But I also had a happy surprise. I was on Facebook (FB) and someone contacted me. She had read my book about Honeybun, and wanted me to join her FB group- the Carolina Dog Rescue! I never knew there was a Carolina Dog Rescue. I joined immediately, and met a whole host of wonderful people, with pages of pictures of their dogs that look just like Honeybun. There was an instant rapport with all the Carolina Dog lovers. I guess it is akin to my brother-in-laws connection with fellow Miata car lovers. There is something special, he claims, about those who drive Miatas, and there is something special, I think, about people who love Carolina Dogs (CD).

I felt like a celebrity. There, at the top of their group page was my book, and a whole host of people saying, "This sure looks like a Carolina Dog on the cover. Is this book about a CD? Has anyone read it?"
Then, when I started chatting with them, I discovered a whole host of common traits between their dogs and my Honeybun. And one of the people went to my old church!
It was like a reunion. It was almost as though God knew there was only so much grief one could handle in a day, and it needed to be balanced with love, connection with others, and hope.

At the end of the discussion, one woman said she had to go, get some sleep, as early in the morning, she was transporting a rescued CD who had been languishing in a shelter, to his new home. As I drifted to sleep myself, alongside the sadness of dying loved ones nestled the image of a family embracing their new dog, rescued from death.

I could not help but think of how all of us have been rescued from death- though our body, like Mom K's will disintegrate. All that is required is that we believe the Rescuer has come for us, and when He opens the door, walk through it to our eternal home.

Acts 10:43 (NIV)
All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

John 1:12-13 (NIV)
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--- [13] children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

John 3:15 (NIV)
that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

-save a dog-

Friday, February 1, 2013

Merging Shadows

You never know how you may impact someone's life. You never know how the knowledge you take for granted may make someone breathe a little easier, make their burden a little lighter. Since you never know, it is probably best, whenever possible, to invest your time and your energy in speaking with others, in letting them pour their pain out, and when you are able, rest a comforting word on their heart, a gentle supportive hand on their shoulder.

I cannot get over how many people yesterday came to me with grievous burdens, difficult issues, sorrowful stories. I realized I had also gone to others with sorrows I did not know how to deal with. This world has too much pain for anyone to bear alone.

But we are not alone. God is here, and He put me here, right in your path, and he put you here, right in my path. Speak friend, and I will try to listen, knowing you will do the same for me, because I am certain my shadow falling across yours was not an accident.

1 John 4:7,11-12 (NIV)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. [11] Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. [12] No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

-save a dog-