Friday, May 31, 2013

Not Only the God of Trials

It has been several months since Honeybun first struggled with unexplained lameness. Many hundreds of dollars later, and after several different diagnoses and treatments, there seems to be light in the darkness. Since discovering the "hip hound" brace, in conjunction with various treatments, she seems to be almost normal again!

Honeybun woke up walking just fine, went out the dog door just fine, down the stairs just fine, came running up the stairs just fine, and has walked all day for a few days now with no limp JUST FINE! I put her "hip hound" splint on her for our walks yesterday, and because it was hot, we didn't walk far. I will continue to use the brace because it seems to stabilize and protect her hip. But I am almost, just almost, ready to call this a miracle. It could be the result of the 7 laser treatments, or it could be that God decided to heal her. Whatever it is, I am grateful and elated. Life feels very good right now.

I spend a lot of time in my Bible studies with my daughter talking about not becoming discouraged by trials. I remind her often that trials are guaranteed to come to us, whether we claim Jesus as Lord or not. I don't want her to lose trust in God because life turns horribly difficult. I don't want her to be surprised by how hard life can be. Trials do strengthen, and do build character, and do teach resilience and determination and faith. But they are usually NO FUN.

However, God is not just a God of Trials. He also brings much beauty, and wonder, and delight, and satisfied desire. I don't think I mention that enough. Sometimes life is abundantly and overwhelmingly magnificent. Soak those times in; revel in them. They remind us a little of what heaven will be, and sustain us through the dark times.

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NASB)

-save a dog-

Thursday, May 30, 2013

After Suffering Comes Joy

After Honeybun's laser treatment yesterday, we went to Arby's. I got her 3 chicken strips. She wolfed those down, and we headed to the Fort Mill River Run path along the Catawba River. She hates going to the vet, remembering the horrible awful things that have happened to her there. The laser treatments don't hurt, but she still trembles, and hides under my chair while we await her fate. So I try to make the aftermath full of joy so that she will connect the vet with wonderful things.

I put on her magical "Hip Hound" brace, and we went for a slow walk along the River. The river was high- completely obliterating some pieces of land that used to be islands. We walked at a leisurely pace so her hip would not hurt. She sniffed joyfully. Then we went down to the river edge, and she lay down in the water. It was a hot day. Her brace got soaked, but that was ok. It is washable. She looked at me, lying in the cool water, with a peaceful contented look on her face.
"I am glad you are happy," I told her, "After suffering, there should come joy."

I hate suffering. I hate to see it in my dog, in my children, in my family, in my friends, in my world. But suffering will end. And when it ends, God promises, ultimately, there will come joy. His promise is a cooling surge of clear water on a hot and weary soul.
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; (2 Timothy 2:8-11 NASB)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18 NASB)

-save a dog-

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gifted for Living Victoriously

I don't mean to complain, but why didn't my vet suggest the miracle Hip Hound Splint for dogs with weak hips? Honeybun is doing fantastically well, and I had to find the solution all on my own. I head back for laser treatment #7 today, but I plan to show the vet the splint and urge him to tell other dog owners about this non-surgical, inexpensive alternative. Honeybun was racing around the house today in her splint. It may not be a cure, but it is a very good alternative for an older dog. She looks like she is wearing hotpants, but what do you want to bet that in a month, all the cool dogs will be sporting similar adornments? When folks ask me what my dog is wearing, I laugh and tell them, "You mean your dog doesn't have one of these?"

Actually, I don't really say that, but I plan to start.

And let this be a motivator to all of you who depend on the "experts" for guidance. Don't ignore the experts- they often have a lot of valuable experience and wisdom. However, there is a lot to be said for good old-fashioned self-reliance, diligence, and common sense. This brace that is helping my dog so much was not developed by a vet. It was developed by dog lovers who thought: if the hip is loose and the joint unstable, let's put pressure gently on it to keep it in place. I am not a vet...I don't even play one on TV...but that is exactly what I thought after the vet described Honeybun's problem and that is the word search description I googled. That's how I found "hip hound" made by Orthodog.

God gave us brains to think, legs and feet to walk, and hands to create wonderful works with. Then He urged us to use them. It seems to me near sacrilege to have been handed all these gifts, and let them atrophy. We are commanded to trust and rely on God, and of course to pray unceasingly in all matters. But we are not told to give up and roll over and let the fine mind and body we have been given contribute nothing to the process of living for His glory. We are gifted uniquely by God to live life abundantly, and victoriously. My new heroes are the developers of the "hip hound" brace. Maybe helping a lame dog seems inconsequential to the Kingdom of God, but it has reminded me that those who seek, FIND. Those who just complain and sit on their tushes often don't find what they are looking for, other than pity. And pity is a poor substitute for success.


You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13 NASB)

-save a dog-

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Living on the Edge

I learned many things on my kayak adventure yesterday. First, someone was shooting, either a target or at cars on Interstate 85 near Belmont. I kayaked wondering what the gunshot sounds were for awhile, and then decided, I didn't need to go any closer, and turned around. I saw an osprey nest, and two young osprey peered down at me, the wary mother beside them.

Then I went down a side river, following a very cute family kayaking with two little girls.
"Did you know kayak is the same forwards as backwards?" said the father to his little girls.
NO! I thought. Why had I never realized that!?
"That is called an onomatopoeia, " said the father, "No, wait...what is that called?"
I thought about that. It was definitely NOT onomatopoeia. About three minutes later, I remembered what it WAS.
"A Palindrome!" I called back to the kayakers, now behind me, "It is a palindrome!"
"Oh yeah!" said the father, "Thank you!"

I passed many turtles as I kayaked deeper into the more shallow, narrow, side river. I was soon all alone, and deep in a wilderness where the banks were closer and any predators could easily hop into my kayak. The water was very shallow, but I desperately wanted to see where this tangent waterway ended. Turtles didn't even bother to jump into the water. It was clear they had never been bothered by a kayak before and did not fear me.
Finally, I decided that it was not wise for me to go any further into this unexplored wilderness. If I were attacked by any creature, no one would find my remains for years.

I turned around.

I kayaked back to my dock, and in the last 5 minutes, realized I had kayaked about a half hour too long. I felt a little sick- too much sun and too much exercise. But oh how glorious it had been! I felt very brave, having gone to the deep dark jungle recesses where no kayakers before me had EVER least not the hour I had been there. I have lived on the edge and survived.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9 NASB)

-save a dog-

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bathing Suit Shopping

I entered hour 4 of bathing suit shopping with my teen, and thought that perhaps life was not as much fun as my blog yesterday might have suggested. This suit was too frilly, that one too patterned, or too stringy, or too tight, or too loose, or too pink, or too purple, or too black, or not shorts, or a skirt, or too revealing, or too modest or too...too!

Finally, at the last store, we found a suit that was a tad lower cut than I would've liked but given the number of blisters on my feet and the waning sun, it would do. While waiting for her to try on the winning Suit #3,054, I had logged into the store internet on my smart phone. I got a notice that congratulations, I would get a special 15% off! But then, when I went to check out, I could not find that notice anymore. I explained to the cashier that I had been promised 15% off, but could no longer find the message.
"Don't worry," she told me, "I will give you 15 % off."

WELL, maybe life *is* as fun as my blog yesterday might have suggested. Meanwhile, I bought my teen Cinnabon bits, and tried not to scream at all while she drove to ten, yes ten, different stores. I bought her the sandals she really wanted, and smiled when she said, "Ick", as I pointed out a cute bathing suit that I would have gladly owned. And then, I suggested we play Super Smash Brothers after dinner. I just push buttons never knowing what effect it has at all on my video character, but I know that soon, too soon, she will be walking out the door to college. Will she remember fondly the bathing suit trek, the Cinnabon bits shared with her mother, the video games with lame parents that only tried because they loved her so much? I hope so. I know I will.

They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights. (Psalms 36:8 NASB)

-save a dog-

Sunday, May 26, 2013


I had organized a dog food/supply drive for my favorite animal rescue, Hollow Creek Farm, and knew I had to start collecting the neighborhood donations at 1:00. So I dashed down to the river in the morning, hoping to get in an hour of kayaking. I was the only one on the river. I guess everyone else was resting up for later in the day festivities. I saw many turtles, a mama Heron feed her baby high in a treetop nest, and a few fish. I cannot begin to describe how much I love being on the river, all alone, in my kayak. Joy.

My wonderful neighborhood donated a van full of dogfood and supplies, and after I loaded them in the car, I drove the hour out to Hollow Creek Farm. I was greeted by a blind dog who would not let me stop petting him, several turkeys that wanted to mate with me, and a goose who had half his beak broken off because he stuck it in the fence to torment the dogs. A couple of friends of Hollow Creek showed up to bury a rabbit that was a pet but had died. The friend had kept the rabbit in his freezer for 3 weeks till he could trek out to Hollow Creek. He dug a hole while we watched, pulled the frozen rabbit out of a plastic grocery bag, and covered it with dirt.
"That's it?" I said, "No prayers or any words of parting?"
"Any words would be to comfort me, not him. He is past caring," said the man.
I silently said a prayer for the poor little rabbit.

As I drove home, I have to admit, I chuckled. It all tickled me- the blind dog who could see in a second the sucker who would not stop petting him, the frozen rabbit dropped in the grave with no ceremony , the goose with half a beak who hissed at me with his tongue fully exposed, the amorous turkey....

We have had more than our share of sorrow this month, but poking through like blades of spring grass, there is always life in the midst of the mud. Life is fun. It just is. If you aren't laughing, perhaps you need to look around a little more carefully.


Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them." (Psalms 126:2 NASB)

-save a dog-

Saturday, May 25, 2013

When Hope is Elusive

I was feeling pretty low about Honeybun- some days she could walk ok, and then she would be limping again. At the last visit, the vet said he really hated to put her through surgery and asked that we do a couple more laser treatments and then reassess. He decided she must have loose ligaments around her hip joint, so the socket is loose and the hip wobbly. He said it was hard to know exactly what was going on with soft tissue, until you go in with surgery. But he was hoping we could "manage" her problem and avoid surgery. He seems to feel she is a good bit older than we thought. He could be right- deaf, lame, greying. Sounds like old age in all its fun and delight! Since we found her, her age was a guess- but she was probably more like 5 or 6 as opposed to just 2, as the vet who first saw her suggested.

I looked online to try to understand what the vet had described. He never labeled it hip dysplasia, but that is exactly the description of hip dysplasia. Anyway, having considered his description, I thought the obvious solution would be a device that straps on the dog and compresses the hip to give external support to the loose joint. In no time, I found a little company a mere 2 hours from us that sells just such a device...for $79! This is a whole lot less than the $2,000-$3000 surgery and a whole lot less traumatic. And...if it doesn't work, I get my money back.

Since I had nothing to lose, I ordered it. It arrived yesterday, only two days later. I strapped it on. It is soft material, so comfortable for her to wear, and can be left on all day. She didn't seem to mind it at all. However, I didn't have it adjusted well, or couldn't figure it out and finally took it off, knowing I had wasted $10 postage. It slipped down every time she sat and then she couldn't stand up, and even when it was on the hips, it was too loose to be of any help. I called the company to find out the return procedure. They weren't there so I left a despairing message. I wanted to weep. I had been so hopeful.

But then I decided I would try it again. I didn't have much hope but really hadn't fiddled with it very long. I had given up thinking it was obvious it wasn't going to work. However, this time, I realized I had strapped the leg strap incorrectly. This time it seemed to fit, and she instantly perked up and wanted to go for a walk.

"OK," I agreed, "Let's test it." I snapped on her leash.
She pranced out the door. Yes, pranced! And trotted on her walk, wagging her tail. We walked about a quarter mile, much further than any walk she has done in three weeks. She would gladly have kept going, but I felt I better take it slow. So after just one usage, I was very encouraged and hopeful. (The company is, and the hip dysplasia brace is called "Hip Hound.") Later that evening, she begged to go for a walk. She stood hopefully at the door, looking very hip in her Hip Hound brace.
"OK," I agreed, "Let's REALLY test it!"
We started around the block. At the 1/4 mile mark, she was still trotting along, looking like her old self. I noticed that the bad leg that had toed in and dragged every few steps now turned out. Her whole gait and attitude was different. It was clear that with the brace on, she didn't hurt anymore. We went all the way around the block. A whole mile. She would've gone further!
As advised by the company, I removed the brace for the evening for her to sleep more comfortably.

I was wondering how she would be this morning. If she was lame again, I would cut back on the distance of our walks, perhaps forever. If she wasn't lame, I was keeping the brace and buying stock in the new company.
She was fast asleep in her "den" in my closet. I flicked on the light. She lifted her head, stretched while wagging her tail, and then stood up. And trotted out without limping to her food bowl.

Isn't that the way God so often works? When you feel right on the edge of giving up, you just know nothing will ever work desperation, you give it one more shot. And sometimes, God grants success just when you are certain it will never come.

I called Orthodog back, and again got the answering machine. "Disregard my last message," I said, "It looks like it just might work!"

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalms 43:5 NASB)

-save a dog-

Friday, May 24, 2013

Grace and Broccoli

We had a wonderful dinner with our old church friends and dear missionary family briefly home from Costa Rica. (PS- if you want to support a family doing some awesome work in Latin America, contact me offline and I will get you in touch with them). Anyway, everyone brought a side dish to contribute to the feast. As I am sure I have mentioned several times, I am not known for my culinary feats, but I made a broccoli recipe that I had tasted elsewhere and loved. I substituted very little, unlike my typical way with recipes- just a vidalia instead of red onion, and cranberries instead of raisins. Well, and yes, I did misread how much sugar was called for and doubled it, but I fixed that by doubling the vinegar as well. (Surely that would counter the overabundant sweetness, right?)

Anyway, I brought my dish and laid it proudly on the counter with all the other luscious foods and noticed a broccoli dish that looked identical to mine. Drat! I thought I was reaching into a rare bag of tricks, and a bag that in my case is NOT very deep.

When the dinner was over, and it was time to leave, I went to collect my casserole dish. There was some of my broccoli still left, definitely my dish, but there were cashews mixed in to my melange. Cashews? I had not added cashews. I picked up the dish perplexedly, wondering if a.) had the other broccoli maker grabbed my dish by accident? or b.) did I have a stroke while making the dish and added cashews without knowing it? It had to be one or the other.

As I started to walk off with my dish, a friend spoke up, "Oh! You made that! It was delicious. I made the other broccoli dish but I liked yours better. Especially the cashews."
I looked at her carefully. I don't think anyone was purposely trying to flummox me, "Well that's strange. I didn't add cashews."
She looked at my dish, "Well, that's not my plate, and I didn't add cashews either. I added sunflower seeds."
We both peered at the dish. Nope, definitely not sunflower seeds, definitely cashews.

So I went home with a more delicious item than I had arrived with. And I wondered how the cashews had made their way into my dish. Perhaps it was an angel that felt the overpowering sugar/vinegar mix needed a salty counterpoint. I don't see what else it could be. NO ONE adds to someone's potluck dish without asking, nor does anyone ever ask to do such a thing. I wouldn't mind personally if they did, knowing my lack of skill in this endeavor, but I think most people would be insulted.

However, it seems that God does work this way in my life quite often. I do my best, but most of the time, it is not as good as it should be. I usually fall far short of where He wants me to be. I usually try to fix the areas where I have messed up, but the end result is never what I had envisioned it was going to be. And then, God sprinkles His miracles. Somehow, everything usually works out, though often not as I intended. God's grace covers me, and it seems, my broccoli as well.
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 NASB)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; (Ephesians 2:8 NASB)

-save a dog-

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Controlling the spirit

Rain is back with a vengeance. Last night there was a thunderclap so loud that it woke me from a sound sleep. So I lay awake, listening to the thunder and trying to fix all the wrongs of life. I wonder what it is about sleepless nights that makes one so acutely aware of struggle. All the things that can be blocked from mind during the light of day come scuttling out like cockroaches in the dark. I find that practicing the child-birth breathing exercises I was taught so long ago become very useful on nights like that.
Relax your brow, now let the muscles go loose in your jaw, your neck, breathe deeply, in.....out.....
It worked pretty well for me in childbirth, and it actually does help in sleeplessness. So does prayer. I think of relaxing my brow, my jaw, my neck and the various people I have promised to pray for during the day slip in to my head. Often they are people I don't know- Facebook friends that have asked for prayer. My prayers late at night are often unfocused and jumbled, and then drift away as I fall to sleep, but if anyone can make sense of them, of course God can. If I must obsess, I remind myself, better to obsess in prayer for others rather than uncontrollable calamities and woes.


Like a city that is broken into and without walls Is a man who has no control over his spirit. (Proverbs 25:28 NASB)

-save a dog-

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Cope with Tomorrow

I'm so happy I could skip rope. My temporary crown was replaced yesterday with a permanent one. I didn't pass out from fright, or pain, or even hunger. The novacaine wore off around 2:00, so I ate a late lunch. I had been a little concerned about the whole thing. I don't know many people who love having work done on their teeth, and I seem to have particularly touchy teeth nerves. But my dentist is a master at administering the numbing shot with almost no pain. Oh happy day! I had worried for naught.

The assistant was chatting with me before the dentist came in. She told me about caring for her 95 year old mother having learned of my own mother-in-law's recent passing. She said she had never thought she could do all that she was called upon to do, but somehow, "You do what you have to, and it all somehow works out."
"That is often true," I said, "I do try to remind myself not to borrow trouble from tomorrow. Today has enough of its own."
"We weren't sure we could do it," said the assistant, "But we just did what we had to when we had to."
"Just handle what you need to for now," I added.
"That's right," she said.

What wonderful sage advice emerged from the dental visit. It was *almost* a blessing to have my crown taken care of. And I thought of her advice as the crown was being put on and off, tinkered with, and the horrible whine of the drill threatened to undo my calm. It seemed no time at all that the dentist said, "That's it!"
"I'm done!?" I asked.
"All finished," he said.
"Well that was not bad at all! Much better than I expected," I said, smiling at the assistant, who knew she had given me more than just a message about how to care for an elderly mother.

"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34 NASB)

-save a dog-

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Only one laser treatment left to go and my every other day two hour drive to the vet will hopefully be a relic of a life none of us want to return to. She is walking better each day and we hope her life will now be the bed of roses she deserves. I am glad my two hour drives to the vet will end.

I just finished the Bible passage about the donkey who lay down and refused to go one step further. The owner, Balaam, was traveling to disobey God and curse Israel, but the donkey, seeing an angel in the road, would not carry him on that fated path. Balaam couldn't see the angel, and instead, to my great dismay, beat the donkey. The donkey was given a voice, and spoke up. He berated his owner for beating him, in essence saying, "Have I ever been in the habit of not listening to you? If I am not listening, don't you think I probably had a good reason?"

I always hate to read about the abuse of an animal, but I think God was making an additional point. I think God was reminding us that sometimes when we don't get what we want, cannot travel the path we are certain we should be on, it is because He has placed an obstacle for a good purpose. We may not see or understand the obstacle, but we can always rest assured that if God is blocking our path, it is for our protection.

I don't know about you, but a few unseen obstacles are blocking my paths these days, and it can be so disheartening. But I try to remember Balaam's donkey and know that if God is placing an obstacle, He probably has a good reason. Instead of raging, I should be praising.

Numbers 22:32-33 NIV
[32] The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. [33] The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”

-save a dog-

Monday, May 20, 2013

Simple Pleasures

I had a coupon for buy one / get one free frozen yogurt cup, so had to wrestle my daughter into the car and force her to head over to TCBY (not!).
"Can we bring the dogs?" she asked.
Honeybun and Lucky both looked hopefully at me, wagging their tails. Since every trip for the past two weeks has been to the vet, it seemed smart to take them out just for fun.

Except, as Asherel and I munched our yogurt in the car while the dogs watched, we realized it was probably not nearly as much fun for them as they had hoped. We could not share our yogurt with them because we both had gotten chocolate toppings. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and therefore, also not fun for them to ingest.
"Don't we have anything in the car we can give them?" asked Asherel
"Well, we have peanut granola bars," I said. I read over the list of ingredients. It was mostly peanuts and honey. So we broke the bar in half and gave the dogs the granola bar while we slurped our yogurt and the rain fell in cascades around the car.
The honey made the bars last a while as the dogs smacked the chewy treat. This is a simple pleasure, I thought, and we have not really had many simple pleasures lately.

I woke up with a happy thought, "Today is the day!" I don't know what it will be the day of, but I feel a bubble of optimism rising to the surface. Honeybun has been walking well the past two days, with almost no limping, even first thing in the stiff morning. We are closing in on the end of the school year, and the rain is supposed to be tapering off today. I want to try to find a simple pleasure each day and focus on it, I decided, thinking of the frozen yogurt in the car with the daughter and dogs I love all munching happily, the rain tapping a symphony on the roof.

Psalm 118:24
This is the day that The Lord hath made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

-save a dog-

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Never Give Up

I read a Facebook post yesterday about a little 24 week old baby that was born prematurely, and then laid in her mother's arms to die. The mom put her against her warm chest so the tiny baby would at least be warm as she died. Slowly the blue-grey tinge of the little fighting baby began to grow pink, her heart rate slowed, and her breathing normalized. The baby the docs weren't willing to try to save suddenly deserved a fighting chance. They put her on special life support machines, and the baby ultimately went home, a healthy, normal baby several weeks later. Honestly, I have been feeling a little defeated lately, with all the deaths of loved ones, job struggles, state of our Union, and poor Honeybun's very slow to resolve lameness. But that little baby and her mother's love reminded me, God is in control, never give up...never ever give up. Miracles can and do happen. Never give up.


"As in the days when you came out from the land of Egypt, I will show you miracles." (Michah 7:15 NASB)

-save a dog-

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Wrestling with God

Laser Treatment #4 yesterday on Honeybun's hip, and she seemed to be finally on the path to recovery, but this morning, is not bearing weight on the leg again. If the treatments were free I would be slightly less inclined to just drop my face in my coffee with no attempt to leave breathing orifices clear. If they knew exactly what was causing her lameness, I would be happier to stay the course, but at this point, I think the vet is just guessing. He knows it is not hip dysplasia, and it is not her knee, and it is something in the right hip that doesn't show up on xray...but what?

Maybe she recently wrestled with God. Jacob of the Bible did, and wouldn't let God go until God blessed Him. And God did grant the blessing, but left Jacob with a wrenched hip that was presumably sore for the rest of his life. No one wrestles with God and emerges untouched by the experience.

I used to read that story in the Bible and think, "Why would anyone dare wrestle with God? What was he thinking??"

But in reality, I wrestle with God too-
Every time I challenge His commands, and insist I know better.
Every time I look at His consequences and insist they are too harsh.
Every time I question His control of things that sure don't seem to be going the way I would hope.

The wonderful miracle is that we all know God could have hurt a lot more than Jacob's hip. He could have squashed him like a slug, but instead, extended a blessing. Maybe God doesn't mind that we wrestle with Him. Maybe for some of us, it is in the struggle that we learn to walk properly with God. It is surely better than ignoring Him.

It is a wonder *my* hip isn't hurting.

Genesis 32: 24-30
24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

-save a dog-

Friday, May 17, 2013

Tiny Wisdom

I often feel the need to teach life lessons to my daughter. She is just as often not thrilled to receive them, but nonetheless, I feel as a parent, it is my duty. Whenever possible, I teach the lessons with the best back-up expert I can find. Without exception, the wisest advice is always contained in one favorite book- The Bible.

The particular lesson I wanted to impart had to do with not procrastinating. I remembered that the Bible uses the ant to illustrate what seems to me an excellent treatise on not procrastinating. In Proverbs 6, the ant is extolled as follows:

Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest. How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? "A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest"- Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:6-11 NASB)

The ant plans ahead. She cares for her needs in the present, but with an eye on the future as well. She prepares. And she does so without anyone telling her to do so. She does what is needed well in advance, and without compulsion. She does what is right, because it is right, and she doesn't put it off. In contrast, the sluggard prefers to rest a little, fold his hands, and put off for tomorrow what he should do today. In the end, the ant will have all she needs, when she needs it, but the sluggard will be in poverty and want.

I was struck that the sluggard only does a "little folding of the hands to rest." If we do only a little procrastinating every day, it adds up. In the end, we will reap a big problem. Presumably, the ant in contrast gathers a little each day. In the end, she will reap a huge harvest. Such a tiny, often unnoticed creature, and what a world of wisdom she contains.

-save a dog-

Thursday, May 16, 2013

After the Horror

The vet assistant who gave Honeybun her laser treatment #3 was a young, friendly girl. She was gentle and sweet with Honeybun, and chatted with me as she ran the laser over Honeybun's hurt hip. Soon I learned she was going to school to become a vet technician.
"Where are you going to school?" I asked.
"On-line," she told me, "I am kind of a home-boding person, family oriented so that works for me."
I smiled at her, "Were you home-schooled?"
"Yes!" she said.
I knew it! You can tell homeschoolers a mile away. All for good reasons. She offered to have Asherel tail her one day at the clinic. She told me if my daughter loved animals, a career as a vet technician was a good one.
"She hates the thought of the blood and guts," I said.
"Oh, you get used to that," said the girl.

Honeybun trotted away after the treatment. She is on day number two now of walking, even occasionally trotting. I think we may have turned a corner. As I left the vet, I glanced at my phone messages. A literary agent wanted to see my new book I have nearly completed! That was good news #2 for the day! I am hopeful good news #3 will be coming soon.

I pondered the vet assistant's words, about how you get used to the blood and guts. I had wanted to be a vet, as a young girl. I love animals, and I loved the idea of helping them, but then my dad took me to watch a live spay operation on a dog. It was behind a glassed in operating room at the NY state fair. I don't remember much about it except I decided then and there I did not want to become a vet. I didn't think I could ever get used to the blood and guts.

But life is full of blood and guts too. No matter what you do in life, there are the icky parts, the parts you can hardly bear, the parts you would just as soon do without. But then there are the rewarding moments, the moments of healing, of victory, of joy when the dog begins wagging her tail again. I guess you probably do get used to the blood and guts, and know that after the horror comes the healing.

These are good things to think about as I wait for good news #3.

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise. (Jeremiah 17:14 NASB)

-save a dog-

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Back this morning for laser treatment #3. The vet tech said usually around treatment 3 or 4 you start to see improvement. I hope so. Yesterday, poor Honeybun was still holding up her leg half the time, and walking very gingerly when she did bear weight. Yesterday morning, she wouldn't or couldn't get up for many minutes. She had seemed to be improving, but yesterday seemed like a hobble backwards. Finally, the lure of breakfast coaxed her out of my closet, where she likes to "den". She limped out and spent much of the day holding the injured leg up.

But today, she came right out, bearing weight on all 4s, wagging her tail. Prayer #1 answered today! I have three big ones for the day. One down and two to go. I am hopeful we are on a roll, a good one this time! The last roll we were on was a series of disasters.

An amusement park with giant roller-coasters decorates the start of my drive to the vet office. Our vet is almost an hour away. (I am willing to make the drive because he is significantly less expensive than Charlotte vets and very competent.) The roller coasters make me want to throw up, even just watching them. Why would anyone PAY to have those tumultuous ups and downs? I get them free just by living.

My fear as the coasters careen around corners is that they will fly off the track. I still find it near miraculous that they don't, or at least do so only rarely. What holds them on so securely, even when centrifugal force is so overwhelmingly strong?

Despite my roller coaster life, my track is secure as well. What keeps me anchored against the overwhelmingly strong forces that seem to constantly threaten to hurl me into destruction is my faith in God. There are times it really feels like I could not possibly make it up the next giant hurdle, or bear the dizzying speed of changing circumstances and fortunes. And yet, I know that the path I am on is carefully engineered, and when it ends, I will get off, not collapsing and puking, but enveloped in the arms of Jesus.

Hebrews 6:18-20 that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

-save a dog-

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Moral Compass

Our little Nursing Home art class finished up the panda they had started last month. Asherel is becoming better and better at teaching, and our class is growing.
"Oh I can't draw," said Shirley as she filed in. She says that every month.
I showed her the panda head she had drawn at the class last month.
"I did that?" she asked. I pointed to her signature.
"Hmmm," she said, sitting down with a smile.

As we neared completion of the panda, the class all looked appreciatively at their drawings.
"Sarah," I said, "Your panda needs another leg."
"He does?" she asked.
"Of course he does," said Clara, who was next to Sarah, "How do you think he can walk?"
"Oh, I see," said Sarah adding another leg.

Joe, one of our star pupils was late.
"I was waiting for the verdict on the Gosnell trial," he said, rushing in, "Sorry I'm late."
"Did they reach a verdict?" I asked.
"Not yet," he said picking up his pencil.
"What did he do?" asked Elizabeth.
"He aborted live babies and then snipped their spinal cord to kill them with scissors," said Joe.
Everyone in the room gasped. Every one of us wondered why it was so long and hard to arrive at a guilty verdict. As they drew their pandas, they shook their heads in unison, horror on all their wrinkled brows.

One new class member, having missed the class on drawing the panda head, needed a crash course in drawing with basic shapes. I caught him up quickly.
"It's that easy?" he asked, as he drew a panda speedily.
"Yes," I said, "It's obvious once you know what to look for."

The activity Director returned at that moment.
"Guilty!" she called out, "They found him guilty!"
"They certainly should have," said the class.
It's obvious, I thought, when you have a moral compass.

Genesis 4:7 NIV
[7] If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. ”

-save a dog-

Monday, May 13, 2013

How to Walk with God

Honeybun goes in for laser treatment #2 this morning for her problems, whatever they are, with her back right hip. She went with us to my son Matt's law school graduation this past weekend. I couldn't leave her with our dog sitter because she is far from healed. She still has trouble walking, mostly first thing in the morning, but nonetheless, was a perfect traveler. When we arrived, she sat at the hotel window, peacefully gazing out at the mountain scenery that enthralls me as well. We left her at my son's house during the ceremony, and she managed to hop up on the couch, injury notwithstanding, and seemed quite blissful when we returned.

She is getting better, but very, very slowly. She is very hesitant to bear weight on her back right leg, but as the day goes on will gingerly start to walk on it. Yet every single time I go to the front door, she perks her ears, and wags her tail, and manages to haul herself up. If someone is going for a walk, she wants to be in on it.

I wish I could be more like my dog. Completely uncomplaining, totally accepting of whatever she is dealt, and finding a way to lie down on the comfy couch even when all the bounce in her joints are unbounced. Wherever her master takes her, she finds a beautiful place to park herself, and gazes upon loveliness. She trusts that her master has taken her to a good place, a right place, and she will settle there peacefully. She doesn't need to understand where she is going, why she is there, or even why she is suffering. All she needs to know is that her master desires it and is near, and that is enough for her.

I could learn much about walking with God from my dog.

Psalm 9:10 NIV
[10] Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 20:7 NIV
[7] Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Psalm 28:7 NIV
[7] The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

-save a dog-

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Prayers of a Mother

Happy Mother's Day. I am personally blessed to have a wonderful mother, who is quiet, gentle, and kind. I am also blessed to be a mother of three perfect children- perfect in the eyes of God and created exactly according to His plan. I know that every mother fails her children at times, is not what she ideally wants to be...or maybe I am alone in that. However, in a wonderful discussion yesterday with Matt's in-laws, a Godly family whose conversation I always value, we talked about the prayers of mothers. As we discussed the limitations of what influence Mothers can and even should exert on adult children, I said, "All I can do is pray."
And I realized even as I said it, that the phrasing made it sound like prayer was an insignificant thing.

But I believe prayer is powerful. I know my recently deceased mother-in-law prayed for my family every day, fervently. When good things happened, she would clasp her hands together and say, "Oh that is what I prayed for and God has answered my prayer!"

The Bible urges us to pray without ceasing, on all occasions, and for every need. The conundrum is that God already knows our prayers, even before we utter them, but I think it is one of His blessings to give us the power in hopeless circumstances to do something. As a mother, stepping back and watching those beloved children "wander in the desert", it is sometimes unbearably painful...a perfect opportunity to pray. And when those children excel and take our breath away graduating from law school magna cum laude with multiple accolades heaped upon them, we are overcome with gratitude...a perfect opportunity to pray.

To all you mothers, suffering and triumphing, in all things, pray. In the most glowing tribute to strong women, Proverbs 31, the opening verses reminds us of the power of prayer:

[2] Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb! Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers! (Prov.31:20)

My children are all answers to prayer. Why would God stop answering now that they are grown and scattering in the wind like thistles? In sadness and in joy, in catastrophe and victory, pray.

Happy Mother's Day!

James 5:13-18
[13] Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. [14] Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. [15] And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
[16] Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. [17] Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. [18] Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

-save a dog-

Friday, May 10, 2013

Thank You Lord

As I drove to the vet yesterday morning, I knew my little dog was going to need an expensive surgery, and following that, an expensive splint and 9 months rehab. I didn't even pray much. I had accepted that what must be must be and God would provide. In a moment of optimism, I packed a small container or water and of her food. Since she was likely going to be operated on, I had been told no food or water after midnight. But just in the impossible case that she returned home with me, I wanted her food and water ready. We won't need it, I thought, as I packed it, but just in case....I was very emotional as I drove the 45 minutes to the vet. I tried not to feel sad and overwhelmed, but it was hard not to cry. So I cried. Honeybun, who never licks, licked my hand.

When we arrived, Dr. Love sat on the floor next to poor Honeybun and began pinching and prodding. I watched as he scowled and as Honeybun yelped when he hit a specific spot. She never growled, nor bared her teeth. She just stoically suffered. And then Dr. Love looked at me.
"It's not her knee," he said, "She won't be going into surgery this morning."
He walked out of the room, saying he would be right back. I quickly went to the "cookie jar" and fished out several "cookies" for my patient, darling dog. If she didn't need surgery, she could eat. She wolfed them down.

When Dr. Love returned, he said he was completely sure there was no pain in the knee, it could not be the cruciate ligaments; the pain was in the hip. The xray showed no hip dysplasia or anything else, so he said there could be a sprain or arthritis, or something...but nothing he seemed terribly worried about. He had a vet tech come in and do a 5 minute painless laser therapy, put her on a pain/anti inflammatory medicine, and told me to return in a few days for another laser treatment. The laser treatment is totally painless and a relatively new intervention that promotes circulation and healing, reduces pain, and can almost miraculously help a hurting area. Just like Star Trek!
As Dr. Love turned to go, I ran to him and hugged him. He is about 7 feet tall, maybe taller. It was like hugging a giraffe.
"Thank you!" I said.

Last evening, I went on a walk and when I walked in the door, Honeybun and Lucky came bounding to greet me, like they always do. Like they always do! Honeybun was walking! And wagging! And smiling again! This morning she is limping, holding her leg up, but I am hopeful.We will bring her with us to my son's law school graduation. She will get a lot of love and crate time to rest. (But probably won't have time for any blogs the next couple of days.)

It has been a hard month with all the family deaths, friend deaths, and now this. A very hard month. But in the midst of it, many friends called and emailed asking if they could help, many sent cards, gift cards, one offered free pet care even with the difficult injuries and post op issues we envisioned for Honeybun, my parents offered to pay for the multi-thousand dollar operation, many prayed, many asked for updates....I have never felt so loved and cared for and watched over. And then, God worked a miracle and the operation was off the table.

When we left Dr. Love, I put Honeybun back in the van and opened the container of food and water that I had packed on the impossible off-chance that surgery would not happen that morning. As she gobbled it down, I leaned against the van door and whispered, "Thank you Lord."

2 Corinthians 9:8-15 NIV
[8] And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. [9] As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” [10] Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. [11] You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. [12] This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. [13] Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. [14] And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. [15] Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

P.S. off to my son's graduation from Law School- may be no blogs for the next few days. But would cherish prayers for him getting the perfect job and for my dear Honeybun's complete and speedy healing.

-save a dog-

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Following Faint Footprints

The advice I got was conflicting. Some folks swore by the surgery for canines with a torn cruciate ligament, some insisted on bracing, some loved prolonged rest, and some said nothing worked. Meanwhile, in the morning yesterday, Honeybun was bearing no weight and miserable. By the afternoon, she managed to walk gingerly to potty. I called the vet to set up a morning appointment with probable surgery, but then the vet who developed the brace called, and I was swayed towards bracing. It is so hard to know what to do when one does not have any expertise and the experts don't agree.

Meanwhile, Honeybun camped out on her bed by my side, where I brought her food and drink. She lay there, in the lap of luxury, not having to move at all. If she hadn't been hurting, I suspect she would have almost enjoyed it. When Lucky went careening out the dog door barking after some phantom enemy, his usual consort, Honeybun, pricked her ears, clearly considered following him, and then with a heavy sigh, lay her head back down. I watched her and decided I will move earth and water to get her what she needs to be able to run again.

It is very frustrating to be in limbo, to not know what is best, to be striking out blindly with disparate information, and no clear direction. I suppose, that is often what life is like. We take a step not certain if we will hit solid ground or quicksand. It does at times feel like a crap shoot. But we are told time and time again that it is not chance that guides our days. There is indeed a plan and a direction. We may not see where we are going, but God reminds us that as long as we trust that HE sees the path, we will be okay.

I pray for Honeybun's sake, that I am on the right track.

Your way was in the sea And Your paths in the mighty waters, And Your footprints may not be known. (Psalms 77:19 NASB)

-save a dog-

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Restorative Son

The rain finally stopped. The Catawba is nearly at flood stage level, and residents along the river are watching closely. But in the nick of time, the rain seems to have ended yesterday. I don't live along the river, but I was glad the rain had stopped. All the weary gray days have been hard, not only for the dismal circumstances of their passing.

I walked my lame dog slowly outside. She hopped on three legs, then sank gratefully into the warm grass. As the sun caressed her gold coat, she nibbled on the grass. She'd been crated all day, and was grateful to be out. She looked content. It was supposed to be a potty break, but she seemed to want to just lie there, so I pulled up a porch chair and sat with her in the sun. Lucky came out too and lay nearby. My back ached from carrying Honeybun the past three days so she wouldn't have to walk. Lucky is getting old and is always a little stiff. And poor Honeybun with her partially torn ligament can barely walk at all. But any passerby would have thought we all looked perfectly happy and content, soaking in the restorative warmth of the sun.

And for that moment, I think all three of us were. If only I were a solar panel, which I had recently been reading about. If only I could store all that energy for the dark days that inevitably came and then shine the light to guide my footsteps through the gloom.

"You can", whispered an inaudible voice on the breeze, "Let my Son shine in your heart."

I went online later and found a splint that claims to support the injured canine knee and allow them to weight bear without pain. It is not cheap, but we are thinking about it. One dog friend told us it is a good option, and a second told us it is a waste of money. One dog friend told me to just do the surgery; another said the surgery isn't worth it - the injury always reflares. So with all this conflicting information, we are not sure what to do. Here is a very good time for God to let the Son shine in the darkness and light the way, I thought, settling down to wait for an answer.

(PS- if you are dog expert with experience with cruciate ligament injury and the success of splinting, please let me know- you could be a light in the darkness!)

Psalm 67:1 NIV
[1] May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us---

Psalm 139:9,11-12 NIV
[9] If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, [11] If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” [12] even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

-save a dog-

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Piling On

Poor Honeybun. She again could not bear weight on her back leg at all. I had no choice but to return to the vet, whom we had just seen a week ago for the same problem.

"I'm back!" I said with forced cheerfulness to the perky receptionist.

Of course, after two days of not putting her foot down, as soon as Dr. Love walked in the examining room, she stopped limping. Dr. Love is wonderful, and this time, determined to find the source of her pain, spent quite some time rather forcibly palpating her back knee. I think she wanted desperately to bite him, but instead, she looked woefully at him.

Then he left the room and returned with paper and pencil. He drew me a picture of a dog knee. Basically two ligaments cross over the knee between the two halves of leg bones, and hold the knee in place. He felt the back ligament was not severed but probably torn. He prescribed anti-inflammatories and as much rest as possible for at least two weeks. Sooooo, I guess Honeybun will be coming to Matt's law school graduation with us. We will crate her as much as possible, though right now she has no interest in moving anywhere. When I went to pay for the exam, Dr. Love poked his head out of his office, "This one is on me."

As I drove home, I thought of Dr. Love's kindness, and Honeybun's sweetness and began crying my eyes out. I know it was not just Dr. Love or was everything. My old friends Comer and his wife Evelyn dying, Raivo dying, Mom K dying, job worries, another tooth yet to be crowned, and now my poor dog with a painful injury and long, uncertain healing process ahead of her. Sometimes life piles up and it feels a little like being buried alive.

However, God gives us excellent guidance in the midst of the piling on of woes. He tells us to worry only about the next step, and trust that He has a plan, and in the end, it is all for Good. I have often considered the wording of the verse in Romans 8 that says God works everything "for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose." The good is not just for those who love God, but for those who are responding and living a life that is devoted to His purpose. What doesn't feel like personal "good" may in fact be part of an inexplicable puzzle of what is good for God's Kingdom and ultimate game plan.

Given that, the response to struggles has to be resting and trusting that God is good, and this will all be resolved for His purpose in the end.

Romans 8:28 NIV
[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.

Philippians 4:4-7 NIV
[4] Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! [5] Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. [6] Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. [7] And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

-save a dog-

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rest in Peace

I bounded wide awake suddenly at 6:55 a.m. yesterday. Not two minutes later, we got the call from the Nursing Home that Mom K had just passed away. She was with Jesus.

Arvo went off to do what needed doing at the Home while I fed the dogs. Honeybun could not bear any weight on her back right leg...again. I carried her to her food, which she wolfed down. Whatever is going on with the chronic leg issue has not affected her appetite.

Two bad things within ten minutes of awakening....I thought, sitting down to eat breakfast. As I bit down on my bread, my temporary crown came off. Make that three, I amended. Fortunately, I didn't swallow it. The highly sensitive tooth reminded me that the nerve was still quite alive and well.

It was a trifecta of griefs, each racing the next to the finish line.

Fortunately, dear son and his wonderful wife, Matt and Karissa, were here for the weekend. Their cheerful and kind presence was a balm in the midst of all the sadness. They helped us clear out the Nursing Home room and say goodbye to that sad chapter of our past year.

Somehow, there was peace in the midst of it all. Mom K is in a better place. Honeybun was slowly bearing weight on the lame leg again by late afternoon, and the dentist came in on a Sunday to repair the crown. And I thanked God that finally Mom K could truly find rest and peace as she greeted her son, Raivo, who had preceded her so recently to the Pearly Gates. I envision him, healed and whole, waiting first in line to welcome her to eternity.

Isaiah 57:2 NIV
[2] Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.

-save a dog-

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Helping Others

My caller ID announced I had a call from Washington, DC. On the off chance I was being offered a Cabinet position, I answered. I would turn it down, of course, but it would be fun to be offered. The caller was from Concerned Women of America, and he was seeking funds to fight abortion and provide information that might sway hearts to change. He was obviously reading from a script and it was hard to get in a word edgewise. I interrupted though, and told him before he got too far, given our current work situation and expenses, we could not contribute any money. I thanked him for the mission of his organization and promised I would pray for their success. I told him I am a writer and I post many blogs about the horror of abortion and the plea for our country to abandon that awful assault on life.
"Well thank you for that," he said, "I am a writer too, and it is so important to lift your voice."
"That's how I feel," I said, happy that he had clearly gone off script now, "I figure God gave me the ability to write and I have a duty to proclaim what I believe is Right."
"I would like to pray for you and your family," said the kind young man.
"Thank you for that," I said.
I got off the phone, for once glad I had picked up a telemarketer call. I had no doubt the young man was immediately bowing his head and lifting our family in prayer. I doubt he knew how much we needed it, and how grateful I was for the simple kind words of a stranger who had turned to me for help but was in the end, the helper.

2 Samuel 2:6 NIV
[6] May the Lord now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this.

-save a dog-

Saturday, May 4, 2013


The John Lennon art exhibit was sparsely attended, at least when we were there. Miss North Carolina was there to greet us, a lovely beauty queen, sash and all. I wondered briefly what John Lennon would have thought of her presence at his art show. It seemed incongruous to me. However, the show itself was spectacular. I loved the whimsy and humor that his art portrayed, though it was a whole lot less humorous when we took a gander at the price tags. One piece was $28,000. Imagine! I can almost hear John Lennon humming along. And none of these were originals...they were all limited edition prints. Nicely framed...but still. Some were hand signed by John Lennon, unless they were forgeries.

One did get a sense of the humanity behind the legend by looking at his artwork. He clearly loved Yoko, and his son, Sean. He also seemed to have an endearing and playful zest for life, and didn't seem to take himself too seriously. He was actually a talented artist, and I admired his economy of line to convey so perfectly the essence of his subject. The section titled "Erotica" was my least favorite, though for what it was, it was pretty good. Arvo and Asherel skimmed right past that section.

All we could afford was a T-shirt, which we did buy for Asherel. It was pricey for a T-shirt, but a heck of a lot less than $28,000 for a limited edition John Lennon print. I was glad Arvo joined us- we had picked him up en route. He had spent the day (again) at his mother's bedside at the Nursing Home. She was still alive, and seemed comfortable, but fairly non-responsive. We went to dinner afterwards and prayed that Mom K would pass easily to the next great adventure awaiting her. Then we dropped Arvo back at the Home, where he returned to his vigil at her side. I think he appreciated the break, and the sense of fun that John Lennon whispered from the echoes of a life now gone, snuffed out so suddenly.

I found myself wishing he had lived as I moved slowly from one art work to the next. But, thinking of Mom K and her slow, painful descent into eternity, I wondered if he would have been a happy old man. He had gone out still full of vigor, laughter, and delight. Perhaps that was not as awful as it seemed.
Of course it was awful for Yoko and Sean, and all these years later, my Asherel. She grows very sad on the date of his death every year. But how wonderful that not only his music lives on, but his art. Still, I am personally more impressed by the legacy of my mother-in-law, who loved God and left a lifelong impression on her son that He was real, and worth knowing. I hope that there is a part of her consciousness that knows he has spent every day for the past week at her side, wanting her journey to finally meet her God to be as peaceful and gentle as passage as it can be.

Titus 2:3-5
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

-save a dog-

Friday, May 3, 2013

Free Gifts

A wondrous free event! John Lennon's artwork will be on display and for sale, here in Charlotte tonight! The cost of admission? A $2 donation to the Harvest Food Bank! I hurried to Asherel with the announcement in my hand.
"Look!" I cried, "Shall we go!?"
"Well yes," she said, "But can we afford it?"
"No, not to buy any of his art, but we can go to the exhibit."
"We can afford the tickets?" she asked.
"It's free!"

Now, I do have some reservations- John Lennon was not exactly what one would consider a chaste artist. I have seen some of his line drawings and some are downright vulgar. However, how could I NOT bring my Beatle-crazed teen to see her favorite Beatle's artwork? And I was also pleasantly surprised there is no admission fee. At the top of the page it said, "Yoko Ono Presents..."
I wonder if Yoko will be there? I am no fan of Yoko Ono, but it would be kind of exciting to see her in real life. And Asherel has always defended Yoko- feels she was unfairly maligned as the cause of the Beatles' break-up.

Meanwhile, I brought Asherel to the Nursing Home for a quick visit to Mom K. She was no worse, though no better either. She was sleeping when we came, and Arvo says she'd been sleeping all day. As we crossed through the front half of the Home, there was a young lady with a guitar serenading the residents. Some were singing along. The young lady had a sweet and powerful voice. As we left, we stopped to watch her for a little while, and I sang along for a couple of stanzas. This was a free event too. And there was not one scintilla of vulgarity- just the generous and lovely spirit of someone using their gift to make the world a better place.

And she did. That little corner of the world was momentarily a better place. My spirits were lifted hearing the song from the past and seeing the remembrance in all the elderly folks' faces. This is why God gave us talents and gifts, I told Asherel as we headed home.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, (1 Corinthians 2:12 NASB)

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NASB)

-save a dog-

Thursday, May 2, 2013


My mother-in-law seems not to have gotten the memo that she was about to take her last breath two days ago. She is still hanging in there, and even sipped a little water. Arvo spent the whole day with her. I asked if she said any coherent words.
"Not in English," he said.
She did apparently say a German word that meant, "Switch".
Hmmm. Switch? What did she want to switch?

I know if I could switch anything, I would switch Adam and Eve's decision to take a bite of that cursed apple. Instead of spending countless eons and heartache separated from God, the human race would be basking in His glory without fear, pain, or death. So much consequence hinges on such seemingly small choices.

My dentist appointment was 'switched' yesterday morning. I was supposed to have the tooth on the other side of my bottom jaw refilled and crowned, but when I walked in, the dentist asked me how the tooth he'd worked on last week was doing.
"Ok," I told him, "But it still hurts to chew."
Given that, my wonderful dentist told me we should hold off on the other tooth or I wouldn't be able to eat without pain. So he switched my appointment to next month, even though that left him with a non-money making hole in his morning. But I doubt Mom K knew about that happy-dance switch.

Switch? Switch from mortal to immortal, life to death, death to eternal life...or maybe just switch the light off so she could sleep? Hard to know exactly what she meant with just that one word to go by.

The Bible was no help. "Switch" is not in the Bible. However, 'change' is, and change is a lot like switch. The Bible tells us that while most of us will die, Jesus will come again, and those who are still alive will not die, but will be caught up with Him in the air, and presumably, borne straight to Heaven. And while those lucky few won't die, they, as we, will all be switched (changed). The older, and more feeble, and more pain riddled we become, the more we long with anticipation, and even joy, for that day. Perhaps that is why Mom K said, "Switch."

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, (1 Corinthians 15:51 NASB)

-save a dog-

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I See Angels

We got a call yesterday from the Nursing Home that Mom K was "transitioning." This is jargon for moving from life into death. Her fingers were blue, blood pressure dropping, hunger and thirst nearly absent. They encouraged us to come as soon as possible. So Arvo and I headed over to the Nursing Home, figuring we were about to say "Goodbye".

Shortly after we arrived, two hospice nurses showed up. Then an aide brought in a pitcher of juice and several cups. Then the Nurse Manager came in. Mom K slept through the party, but we non-transitioning folks talked for quite some time. The nurses all shared stories of similar experiences witnessing people as they passed from this life. They all told of the aged persons' faces suddenly lighting up, arms outstretched, and words pouring out of them like, "Glory! I see Glory!" and "Angels!" and "Beautiful! I see Him!"
"If you didn't have faith, those experiences would sure convince you," they all said.
"It is not frightening?" I asked.
"No," they all said, "Not at all. It is amazing."
"You feel very strongly the presence of the Holy Spirit," said the Hospice Nurse.

Arvo and I had both said as we were driving over that we don't know how people without faith get through the hardness of end of life. Having Arvo's brother die suddenly just two weeks ago, and now Mom K's imminent death, we were both a little shell-shocked. But at least, we truly believe that our loved ones are going to a better place, and that one day, we will see them again. How unendurable not to have that comfort.

Slowly, the nurses drifted away, then Arvo went off to call his remaining brother, and I was left alone with the sleeping Mom K. She chose that moment to wake up.
"Hello," I said, "How are you feeling?"
She could not answer, but she moaned a bit, and so I read her some more from the book of John in the Bible.
"I want you to know, you have been a good mother in law," I told her, "And I love you."
She looked at me, and didn't speak, but her brow furrowed as if she wanted to. I would have liked to have thought of more to say, in case this was the last time she heard me on earth, but I couldn't think of another thing. When she moaned as though in pain again, I hurried to find a nurse to give her more pain medication.

While waiting for Arvo to return, I read to her from the Bible for a half hour. I had turned to John 14, which certainly was the perfect chapter in this situation. The pain meds slowly took hold, and she grew less agitated. I have always believed that people that don't seem to be fully conscious understand and hear more than we think, though they may not always be able to respond. I remembered reading the Bible for a half hour to my seemingly comatose friend, Comer, before he died, and suddenly he groaned out, "Amen!" So I read John 14 with as much feeling as I could muster, that those words of ultimate comfort would nestle deep in her soul, and ease the "transition".

By the time we left, she was sleeping, and still clinging to life. We know it is not likely she will be on this side of Heaven much longer. It was not easy to be there but I am glad I went. Doing the right thing is often a hard thing, but I was glad to hear about the Hospice nurses watching their dying patients suddenly reach out above them with rapturous faces, crying out, "Angels! I see Angels!"

John 14:1-6 NIV
[1] “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me. [2] My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? [3] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. [4] You know the way to the place where I am going.” [5] Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” [6] Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

-save a dog-