Saturday, August 31, 2013

How Long, Lord?

I was lost in the world of editing for a whole day yesterday. My eyes ached as I finished yet another run through of my 400 page book. I thought about just running away to the river, the beautiful river, but I stuck to my task. I am so ready for it to be published and to be done with it. Probably a few more revisions before it is ready however. The biggest mistake an author can make is putting it out there too soon, without combing out every snarl in language, grammar, or flow. The problem is you can never eradicate every tangle. And sometimes one change necessitates a whole bunch of other changes. So I forced myself to stay in my chair and control my daydreaming of the quiet, peaceful river. It is not just writer fatigue that makes the edit process difficult. I also cannot wait for the reward! Holding a finished bound copy of my book is exhilarating. And this one has been in the works from conception to this point for 8 years now! How much longer must I wait?

How long, Lord? It is such a familiar refrain in the Bible. I am not alone in longing for the reward of my labor. The list of folks crying out "How long, Lord!" is a worthy Bible study.

My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? (Psalm 6:3 NIV)
How long, Lord ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13:1 NIV)
How long, Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. (Psalm 35:17 NIV)
How long, Lord, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant? (Psalm 94:3 NIV)

How long, Lord ? Will You be angry forever? Will Your jealousy burn like fire? (Psalms 79:5 NKJV)
How long, Lord God Almighty, will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people? (Psalm 80:4 NIV)

Ethan the Ezrathite:
How long, Lord ? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire? (Psalms 89:46 NKJV)

How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? (Habakkuk 1:2 NIV)

Then the Angel of the Lord responded, “How long, Lord of Hosts, will You withhold mercy from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah that You have been angry with these 70 years? ” (Zechariah 1:12 HCSB)

Then I said, “For how long, Lord?” ....(Isaiah 6:11 NIV)

God's Faithful, Martyred Witnesses:
They called out in a loud voice. "How long, Lord and King, holy and true?" they asked. "How long will you wait to judge those who live on the earth? How long will it be until you pay them back for killing us?" (Revelation 6:10 NIRV)

Whew! There is a lot of longing for retribution and restoration and reward from God's people! And here is the kicker....listen to God's answer in Revelation to the cry from those who died defending the faith, as they gather and cry out, "How long, Lord!?"

..."Wait a little longer," they were told. "There are still more of your believing brothers and sisters who must be killed." (Revelation 6:11 NIRV)

Excuse me?! Say what?! Wait a little longer so more good followers get to die? Wait so more weary people struggling to do the right thing get slaughtered? This just is NOT quite the comforting words I personally am looking for. What am I missing?

As any good editor of any book knows, you don't stop editing till you reach the end. If I only read the verses quoted above, and didn't continue to the conclusion of the book, there is only bewildered despair. But in the last chapter of the Bible, God tells us He is coming soon, be patient and faithful, and be assured He brings His rewards with Him. In the meantime, He tarries, delaying until the full harvest of souls are reaped. He is planning to write in as many names as possible in the Book of Eternal Life. It is worth waiting for the final Edit.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life. It was as clear as crystal. It flowed from the throne of God and of the Lamb. There will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city. God's servants will serve him. They will see his face. His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun. The Lord God will give them light. They will rule for ever and ever. The angel said to me, "You can trust these words. They are true. The Lord is the God of the spirits of the prophets. He sent his angel to show those who serve him the things that must soon take place." "Look! I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of the prophecy in this book." "Look! I am coming soon! I bring my rewards with me. I will reward each person for what he has done. "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this witness for the churches. I am the Root and the Son of David. I am the bright Morning Star." The Holy Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" Let those who hear say, "Come!" Anyone who is thirsty should come. Anyone who wants to take the free gift of the water of life should do so. He who gives witness to these things says, "Yes. I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen. (Revelation 22:1, 3-7, 12, 16, 17, 20, 21 NIRV)

-save a dog-

Friday, August 30, 2013

Troubled Feet

When I ran a marathon long ago, and went completely lame afterwards, I discovered that I was missing a bone in my foot. Well, technically I was not missing the bone, the podiatrist informed me. A bone that should have been two bones was fused into one. Thus, I have always had feet issues and have always been on a quest to find shoes that remain comfortable. It is a never ending quest.

This summer I had found perfect sandals that I have been able to walk miles in without pain. But strangely, and rather suddenly, I have developed pain in the top of my foot. The wonderful sandals are a little less wonderful and my right foot hurts across the top no matter what shoe I wear. My self-diagnosis through the wonder of the internet reveals two probable causes. First cause: the strap across the top of my foot from my wonderful sandal is pressing on a nerve, and it is angry and inflamed. Second cause: stress fracture.

It is disheartening when after much toil and trouble, you think you have finally solved the problem, and then, despite your best efforts, you are right back at square one. Same problem, new circumstances. Will you never overcome? Will life always be a circle of pain and struggle? Will the shoe always end up hurting in the end?

This is not a new problem. Look at the book of Judges. Israel sins, Israel calls on God for help, God raises a Judge to help Israel, Israel repents, struggles subside, Israel becomes complacent, Israel sins...etc etc etc....

Is there no hope then? Are we always to be on this self perpetuating cycle of struggle, relief, complacency, and then wheeling right back into struggle? No! There is victory even in the dismal cycle of sin recounted in Judges. Caleb, whose name, by the way, means "whole-hearted", is completely devoted to God and he breaks the cycle through his wholehearted devotion and faith and trust in God. One key, and I am sure there are many, is to take our eyes off of the problems, the deficiencies, the struggles, and put them wholeheartedly on God. Do what He says with instant obedience and trust, and let Him work out the details. Caleb did not fear the giants in the Promised Land, but instead trusted God and His command to enter the Land. In the end, Caleb was rewarded and secured victory for his people. He focused not on his weakness, but on God's strength.

So back to my hurting foot. yay Caleb! But how does that help my foot? Well, it doesn't, not directly. But every time it throbs, perhaps it will remind me that we may walk in pain, but if our steps are in the right direction, there is a day when that pain will no longer matter. Keep our feet wholeheartedly on the path to God! When we reach Him, He will be the victory and the cycle of sin will be forever broken.

They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.” Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (Numbers 13:26-30 NIV)

-save a dog-

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Race Not to the Swift

I was smoking along on my daily run yesterday morning, feeling pretty good. Suddenly, I heard some huffing and puffing behind me. A woman passed me as though I were standing still. I watched her trot by and wondered why did it seem she was moving so slowly...yet she was leaving me in the dust? And I don't mean this to be unkind, but she was quite heavy set. I have always been high energy and thin...and shape. What was this new insult?

"Have a nice day," she said as she clumped by.
"You too," I growled.
I do not understand. I thought I was moving along at a good clip. I was proud of my muscles pounding the pavement like pistons. A verse came to mind: "The heart is deluded above all else."

What other self appraisals am I woefully mistaken about? As I watched the woman skim past me, I must admit I wondered why I bother getting up in the morning.

I have a good friend who has a very smart kid. She told me recently that her goal is to raise him without him getting a swelled head. Her motto is "Progress, not proficiency." She warns him not to measure himself against others, but to move forward as best as HE can, regardless of how others are moving.

This is excellent advice. God is not measuring us against others. He has given us each specific talents and tasks. We are to fulfill the call He has for each one of us and our standard should never be each other. This is MUCH harder to live than one would think, but it is such good advice.

Still, only a few feet after passing me, the woman stopped running, and started walking. I realized she was not on mile 5 like I was....she was doing run/walk intervals! She was not in for the long haul run. She was doing sprint work. The race is not always to the swift, I thought, a little smugly as I passed her.


I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded. The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good. (Ecclesiastes 9:11, 13-18 NIV)

-save a dog-

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Not Again.....

I make home ground grain into bread every other week, two loaves, which I then freeze. Every morning I have a slice for breakfast. I began this when my fingers swelled up with sudden onset of acute arthritis, such that I had to cut off my wedding ring. A friend told me about the benefit of home ground grain, baked into bread within 24 hours of grinding. She told me it cured her of arthritis and her husband of high blood pressure. I had nothing to lose, and so I tried it. It cured my arthritis in my hands, and I have now been doing this for about 3 or 4 years, with no recurrence of arthritis.

I have the recipe memorized since I do it so regularly. About a month ago, there was one very rare time when my bread didn't turn out. I realized I had forgotten to put the yeast and salt in! I had to throw away the whole gummy mess.

Yesterday, again, the bread didn't turn out, and I realized, again, I had forgotten to put the yeast and salt in. What is happening to me? I never used to forget details. Twice in a month, the same mistake! I was very distraught. Not only did I waste all that time and effort of baking the bread and now must do it all over again, but I feared my brain was becoming silly putty. How could I have forgotten....again???

There is a very interesting Psalm about forgetting. In Psalm 44, it is clear that the writer is at the end of his rope. He is ready to give up, and feels crushed, betrayed, and forgotten by God! He insists he had never forgotten God! How could God forget him!?

He is basically having a hissy fit. And he is blaming God, which is what many of us do when we are in desperate circumstances. (Me included.) We forget all that God has provided, His grace and mercy and ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, and because life isn't going the way we had hoped, we assume God is distracted, sleeping, or worse yet- has forgotten all about us. But God doesn't forget. We have forgotten His promises. They may not apply to our mortal being, but we are promised we will be with Him in eternity and our soul is safe. This is very important, even more important than remembering yeast and salt.

I sliced the gummy bread, spread it on a baking pan, and baked it for an hour. Then I buttered and tasted one fresh from the oven slice. Not bad. Different...not my usual soft bread, but not bad. Even for those of us who forget, restoration is possible.

My disgrace is before me all day long, and shame has covered my face, because of the voice of the scorner and reviler, because of the enemy and avenger. All this has happened to us, but we have not forgotten You or betrayed Your covenant. But You have crushed us in a haunt of jackals and have covered us with deepest darkness. If we had forgotten the name of our God and spread out our hands to a foreign god, wouldn’t God have found this out, since He knows the secrets of the heart? Wake up, Lord ! Why are You sleeping? Get up! Don’t reject us forever! Why do You hide Yourself and forget our affliction and oppression? (Psalms 44:15-17, 19-21, 23, 24 HCSB)

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! (Isaiah 49:15 NIV)

-save a dog-

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Now how lucky am I?! There are apparently only two giant moths in NC, and I have seen both in the past two weeks! First I saw the beautiful green Luna moth while kayaking. Then yesterday, when I picked Asherel up from the college, I saw a Polyphemus! He was dead, but completely whole and still quite beautiful. I gathered him in my hands, and when Asherel came out of her class, I showed her.

"Shall I leave him on this bench to wow the other students?" I asked.
"Well, I don't know if they will be wowed, but sure," she answered.
So I perched him on the bench with his beautiful span of enormous wings with the eyespot design on them. He was resplendent. Adult Polyphemus live only 4 days maximum! I knew it was a "he" because he had fringed antennae. Females have slender antennae.

I learned later that the females' antennae are designed to receive the pheromones of the male up to a mile away! However, if by some chance the unlucky Polyphemus does not manage to attract a male, she lays her unfertilized eggs anyway. After all, she only has four days. I presume it is an exercise in futility.

The design of all creation never ceases to amaze me. It is so exquisite and in such a delicate balance. Had that gorgeous male Polyphemus found a mate in the 4 short days allotted to him? It doesn't seem nearly long enough to me, but God in His infinite wisdom deemed it just the right amount of time for a Polyphemus. We are all given a finite moment to do what we have been called to do. We all need to use our time wisely, and gloriously, rising on the breeze with beautiful wings spread to capture the winds of abundant life!

I positioned the dead Polyphemus in the center of the bench, and spread his wings so their full gorgeous expanse would be seen. Maybe someone else would pass by and marvel at the wonder of creation, pause to thank the Creator, and also wish they had seen that magnificent creature alive, fluttering across the sky.

Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. (Psalm 111:3 ESV)

-save a dog-

Monday, August 26, 2013

Journey That Brings Peace

Oh how I love escaping to the river in my beloved kayak...and so did about 5,000 other people on this last day before school started back up. So instead of observing wildlife, I observed humanity. One family drifted by- a mother, father, and two children. The mother looked tired and sweaty. The two children were fighting, bumping their kayaks into each other and complaining about each getting in the way of the other.
"Why are you two so close together?" cried out the exasperated father, "You have a whole river!"

I chuckled as I skimmed on by them. I am sure it is not what the little family envisioned when they started off on this wonderful adventure, this last day of summer before the kids started back to school. I could totally relate. I can think of many times I had idyllic events planned for my brood, and it just didn't quite turn out to be the tender memory I hoped. Sometimes our hopes and our realities sharply diverge, in fact, maybe even most of the time.

We are all on a journey of discovery, and at times the new twists and turns in the river of life bring us to exotic new plants, elusive lovely birds, peace and utter joy in the beauty and quiet. However, at other times it brings weariness and sweat from the constant work to battle the current, bickering and arguing as the kayaks jockey for position, and loud motorboats that pass too near. It is all part of the journey, the good and the bad.

But through it all the river still sparkled in the sunlight, the clouds still frolicked in the blue sky, and trees still waved from the shore. And I felt blessed to be a part of the journey at all since the journey itself is a gift from God.


Do not let what you regard as good get a bad name. For God's Kingdom is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of the righteousness, peace, and joy which the Holy Spirit gives. And when you serve Christ in this way, you please God and are approved by others. So then, we must always aim at those things that bring peace and that help strengthen one another. (Romans 14:16-19 GNT)

-save a dog-

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mission of Life

I spent most of the day Saturday making my little clay 12 week (in utero) baby models. My work time to fabricate them has been whittled down from 2.5 hours for my first one to about one hour for each of the subsequent ones. Each one taught me something new, not the least of which is that a 12 week old baby in the womb is nothing short of miraculous. You can't tell from the photo, but those little models are only 2 inches long. The little human has all its parts, perfectly formed at 12 weeks and fits them all in a 2 inch package! You just can not get any cuter. I even gave up kayaking to spend my time trying to mold the little baby models. Since I am out of clay for now, I will kayak tomorrow.

The little babies were all lined up in a row while I worked, and as I completed one, he would go alongside his siblings. With all those hours to sit quietly creating, and meditating, my mind wandered to many places. One thing I thought about was when I was in school, I was taught many things that now I feel are outright wrong. I accepted without much question that more than 2.3 children per couple was unconscionable. We were taught that China, with its one child policy, was progressive and globally responsible in not overpopulating. I remember looking at large families as selfish, and backwards. We read books that showed the horrors of back alley abortions and the abortionists who touted the law were heroes. Then Roe v Wade came along, and we were taught that a great step forward for humanity had occurred with the legalization of abortion. The forced abortions of on Chinese couples with more than one child were the natural progression of this world view.

I am ashamed now of what I believed, of how I allowed my mind to be manipulated from what I knew was good and pure and right to something that my gut knew was fundamentally wrong. Perhaps that experience is part of what led me to homeschool my children. I myself had been indoctrinated by the educational system and I didn't want to allow that to happen to my progeny. I was not a Christian back then. Perhaps I would've held on to my sense of good a little better had I been.

The little 12 week babies I made already have a home where they will be used to help abortion minded women maybe make a different choice. I will pray for each little baby as I send them off on their mission of life. Then I will go buy more clay.


So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

-save a dog-

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wondrously Made

I have a new potential ministry. A wonderful woman who does sidewalk ministry and counseling to abortion-minded mothers posted a picture of little 12 week old gestational age baby models. They are anatomically correct and accurate size. The realistic ones are pricey, but are very useful in showing prospective mothers that the little baby they want to abort at 12 weeks of age already is fully developed, with a beating heart and all functional organs in place. Sometimes, just holding that little model convinces mothers not to abort their baby. One person seeing the post with the picture of the baby models said she was an artist, and maybe she could make those! I then said maybe I could too! There were a few counselors on that same Facebook posting who said they would love to have some of the more realistic models to help them in their work.

So I gathered my Sculpey clay, researched the size of 12 week old (gestational age) babies, and pulled up some reference photos on the internet. Then I set to work. Two and a half hour laters, my first clay baby was done. She is the one pictured in this blog post. She is not great, but she gave me the confidence to know if I keep at it, I think I could do this! My second baby only took me 45 minutes to make and was much more detailed. Each time I make one, I am getting better.

If only that had been true of real child bearing. Each child is so different that it is like starting all over with the rules of the game you thought you knew so well, completely scrambled. I find myself more dependent on prayer than ever before as I raise my last one. She is a great kid, but her needs and desires are so different from her brothers that I find myself completely lost as to best help her reach responsible and God-loving adulthood. Just imagine! Once, she too was just 2 inches long, small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. How precious she is to me!

I cradled the tiny two inch figurine I'd made in my palm, replica of the perfectly formed 12 week human, and inexplicably, felt like crying. How could someone be convinced this is a disposable blob of cells, or even more complexing to me, not human? How could we as a nation think it is noble in anyway to pass laws that allow us to rip the arms off, pierce the skull, and throw away such a perfect little baby as though it were just...a clay model?

If any Pro-life counselors would like to use little handcrafted babies to put in the hands of those who think abortion is an answer, please contact me and I will try to get one to you soon.

I give thanks to You, For I am awesomely and wondrously made! Wondrous are Your works, And my being knows it well. My bones was not concealed from You, When I was shaped in a hidden place, Knit together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body. And in Your book all of them were written, The days they were formed, While none was among them. And how precious are Your thoughts to me, O Ěl! How great has been the sum of them! If I should count them, They would be more than the sand; When I wake up, I am still with You. (Psalm 139:14-18 NIV)

-save a dog-

Friday, August 23, 2013

Never Banished

I have read the Bible cover to cover scores of time. Given that, you would think I would remember more, be better, know it all by heart. However, each time I read it, old passages jump out at me as though they were brand new, as though I had never seen them, as though they had something relevant to say to me NOW! For example, I was on my Elliptical Trainer while reading my Bible yesterday when this verse stopped me in my tracks:

2 Samuel 14:13-14 NIV
[13] The woman said, “Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son? [14] Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.

Hooray! Just like the son spoken of in that verse, there is a way out of destruction! We don't need to remain banished! We can choose reconciliation! I know so many people who tell me of how so-and-so disappointed them, so they cut off all relationship with so-and-so, as though they themselves have never disappointed someone else! We are all sinners! We are all creeps sometimes. Fortunately, banishing others from our presence is NOT what God desires! He devises ways that the banished person does not remain banished. And He longs for us to remain in communion with Him as well, despite the fact that we are often creeps. He has devised ways that we can return to Him; it is indeed what He longs for. I don't know about you, but that makes me want to dance.


The Lord says, “Come, let us talk about these things. Though your sins are like scarlet, they can be as white as snow. Though your sins are deep red, they can be white like wool. (Isaiah 1:18 NCV)

He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16:30, 31 NIV)

-save a dog-

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Restoring Tired Souls

Honeybun has been doing really well, wearing the soft brace that helps her weak muscles in her hips and back. She is doing so well, that yesterday we took her on two long walks. She probably put in 4 miles, which she hasn't done since we discovered the stenosis in her spine, and her troubles walking began. When I called her to dinner, she was walking fine, but I could tell she was tired. She lay down, and didn't want to get up to make it to her dinner bowl. So I placed it in front of her.
"Room service!" I laughed.
She splayed her front legs so I could place the bowl between them. While laying peacefully on the floor, she ate her dinner. She looked a little like a frog, ready for Biology dissection. I guess we better cut back a little on our mileage.

Meanwhile, I have friends with cancers that are still not quite knocked out. Friends struggling with joblessness, or too much work. Children with horrible diagnoses and parents trying to figure out how they will survive the heart ache. And then smaller but still wearisome, ever-present set backs, like my son Matt and his wife Karissa's "new" car breaking down AGAIN after leaving our house and only half way home. There are of course millions of examples of weary souls, working as hard as they can, doing their best, giving their full effort...and still coming up short. It would be so easy to lie down flat on our tummies, legs splayed like a frog, and just refuse to get up again.

But God never seems to advise that we just give up. He promises instead restoration, refreshment, and strength for the sad and tired. He doesn't say exactly how or when or what that will look like. He indicates that despite our discouragement and exhaustion, we are to keep fighting. But the fight is not against flesh and blood. It is a spiritual battle. We are to keep the faith. Failure, in His eyes, is not being pushed back by the world, but losing sight of God. If we can just keep our eyes on Him till they finally close to mortal existence, we will have succeeded.

After her splay legged dinner pose, Honeybun lapped up the last of her food, and then trotted happily back to her couch. I guess there are those times when all we really need is a respite and a good meal.

I’ll refresh tired bodies; I’ll restore tired souls. (Jeremiah 31:25 MSG)

I am about to die. Give me life, as you have promised. I told you about my life, and you answered me. Teach me your demands. Help me understand your orders. Then I will think about your miracles. I am sad and tired. Make me strong again as you have promised. (Psalms 119:25-28 NCV)

-save a dog-

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hands Steadying Burdens

Scored on garbage morning! I was on a run and had stopped briefly to chat with a dog walking friend, Roxanne. While chatting, I noticed someone had put an angel birdbath on the curb for garbage pickup. The angel was cement but had mosaic inlaid glass for the wings, and old, chipped but still beautiful painted leaf and birdbath.

"Do you think they are throwing this beautiful angel out?" I exclaimed.
"I think they are," said Roxanne.
"Oh, I want it!" I said.
"I think you could drive back and get it," she agreed, "It seems sacrilegious somehow to throw out an angel."

I went on with my run, and forgot about the angel.

When I reached home, and was about to go inside, a car pulled up into the driveway and honked. Out stepped Roxanne, with the angel. She had spoken to the owner of the home, ascertained I could have the angel, and cleaned it up and brought it to me.

Delighted, I took the little angel and put her in my garden, by my front steps. As I stood looking at her, I thought I might just name her, "Roxanne."
She has already been a blessing, this angel, reminding me of how unexpected, random acts of kindness bring hope and joy. I think everyone bears secret, unwieldy burdens that threaten to topple their world at times. An act of unexpected kindness is like a hand from heaven steadying the load over the ruts and brambles of life. One of the proofs of God is the sweetness of those who walk with Him who remember to offer a hand to those who are stumbling.

The desires of good people lead straight to the best, but wicked ambition ends in angry frustration. The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped. (Proverbs 11:23-25 MSG)

-save a dog-

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Privileged Sustenance

"I could do that," said Karissa, pointing to one of the modern art paintings at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte.
And I, a fine arts major, had to agree. She probably could have.
In the end, there is a lot of abstract art that does look like a 5 year old did it.
What is art? What makes it fine art? This is harder to answer than you might think. I told them to look for design, balance, color harmony, texture, among other attributes that work together to create 'art'. Great art transforms how we view the world. We see it in a way me might not have seen it otherwise.

It was a wonderful trip with my family to see the special exhibit with some of my favorites - Miro, Giacometti, Corbusier, Leger, Calder. We were given audio phones to listen to an expert tell us why some of this stuff could NOT have been done by a five year old.

Matt and Karissa had just been in Miami for their vacation before Matt starts life as a lawyer, and Karissa returns to her last year of law school. They had visited several art galleries and while meandering through one, Matt wrote on his Facebook page, "Modern art is confusing."
I wrote back, "Some, like Matisse, explored what was the minimal line that could still convey the essence of an idea."

Matthias replied, "This modern artist made a paper mache lamb chop and said it was a commentary on 'mortality and spoilage, with a vigorous promise of sexuality.' That's a quote. He also used the term 'privileged sustenance' somewhere."

"Well he's just a nutcase," I wrote.

But that probably isn't fair. Maybe the lamb chop artist was on to something we just didn't get, couldn't see, hadn't opened our minds to. I know some people think I am just a nutcase because I believe the Bible is true. Some people automatically assume I am stupid because I don't believe life 'just happened', but that all evidence points to a Creator. Some people think that finding 'privileged sustenance' in faith is nuttier than finding it in a paper mache lamb chop, but of the two, I'd rather trust in faith.


But piety with contentment is great gain. For we have brought nothing into the world: it is manifest that neither can we carry anything out. But having sustenance and covering, we will be content with these. Strive earnestly in the good conflict of faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which thou hast been called, and hast confessed the good confession before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:6-8, 12 DARBY)

-save a dog-

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ageless Wonder

My son and his wife are good sports. They are staying with us a few days before they move into their new life in Richmond with my son as a working lawyer. We were trying to figure out what to do with our day, when Karissa asked me whether I had ever done any sculpture.
"Sure," I told her, "I have sculpted with Sculpey Clay. Would you like me to teach you how?"
So Matt and Karissa both settled down with me, and our Sculpey clay, and I taught them how to make penguins. They were very attentive and earnest, and it reminded me of when I used to teach my son when he was just a little boy. He always loved art, and listened very attentively to my instruction then as well. As he grew older, he grew more frustrated with the results of his artistic endeavors, and then, as far as I knew, gave them up altogether.
"This looks like something I will be frustrated with," he said, when I showed him the prototype penguin I had quickly constructed.
"No you won't," I promised, "I'll show you step by step. It's easy."

And they followed me carefully, my brilliant son and daughter-in-law, and they made adorable penguins. I think my son was surprised that his penguin turned out so well. I baked the creations in the oven, and made Matt and Karissa pose for photos of them with their penguins. I loved teaching them, and watching their concentration and efforts creating the little whimsical creatures. It fills my heart with delight to see anyone being transported by creativity, but especially to see in my grown son a reflection of the exuberant little boy I remembered, so intensely present in the activity. I pictured him as a child as though it were yesterday.

The child is father of the man....

I remembered a poem I had memorized long ago, by William Wordsworth:


My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

I am not certain I know what the poem means, but I have always loved it. When I watched my Matt, with his focused attention on the tiny details of his penguin, my young man on the brink of his law career, I thought of how all he was as a man, I had seen as tiny kernels when he was a boy. How gracious of God to show us the circle of life, the man in the boy and the boy in the man, and the rainbow in the sky that reflects our ageless wonder and covenant with God.


Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking. (Ezekiel 1:28 NIV)

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. (Genesis 9:13 NIV)

-save a dog-

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Orphans in the Rain

Record lows for yesterday! Rain, rain, rain! I went for a run in between the rain drops, and saw a fawn, all alone. No mother nearby. The speckled baby watched me run by, and when I stopped, he dashed away. I ran on, and saw an elderly man walking a dog. He was stopped on the roadside, pointing at something, enticing his dog to look.

Curious, I stopped again. There were two fawns. Alone. No mother nearby.
"Are they old enough to survive on their own?" I asked, hoping he would say yes.
"I don't know," he said, "I have seen some that young with their mothers still. I do know that."
Yes, that is what I thought.

The world is cruel. So much sorrow and loss! The speckled fawns saw us watching and moved further into the forest.

"I can't imagine their mother would have left them is she was still alive," continued the man with the dog.
No, I don't imagine she would have.

We are orphans too. All of us. The Bible says that until we recognize and love our Father in Heaven, we are separated from Him, on our own, a speckled fawn with no protection. But God also tells us He will not leave us that way. He will return. There will be a time when we will be adrift, alone, orphaned, but it is not permanent. He promises that He lives, and He will come for us. He will not leave us as orphans. We will not be alone forever.


I will not leave you orphans, I am coming to you. Yet a little and the world sees me no longer; but ye see me; because I live ye also shall live. In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that has my commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves me; but he that loves me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:18-21 DARBY)

-save a dog-

Saturday, August 17, 2013

God Meant it for Good

So we had an adopter all set to get the puppy Jasper, but he couldn't arrive from his home, a 12 hour drive away, until Tuesday with work constraints. In the meantime, the animal shelter said they could not hold him, even if we paid the "pull fee". So, unable to sleep Thursday eve, I told the adopter (Josh) on Friday that I would pull Jasper from the shelter and foster him till Josh arrived Tuesday evening. I could not stand the thought of that sweet frightened pup in there another moment. And what if the shelter got deluged with dogs? Would they euthanize Jasper at this high kill facility?

I called the shelter and told them I would be there at 1:00, after my daughter's class ended. They promised to hold him for me. I helped Josh find a hotel that was dog friendly for Tuesday night. Then I waited with mounting excitement. The little pup had really captured my heart and I wanted to help him. Truth be told, I couldn't wait to play with him and show him the world was not a horrid place...not always.

Around 11, the animal shelter called me. They had a family standing there that wanted to adopt Jasper. "We can't hold him," they told me, a little regretfully. So Jasper went to the unknown family, and I had the sad burden of telling Josh the adoption was off. He had a great attitude, "That must be God's way of telling me this was not the dog for me."

I pray it is a wonderful family, and that the sweet puppy gets the forever home every dog wants. At least tonight I will be able to sleep again. The skinny puppy is safe.

God does work in mysterious ways. All the heartache over the homeless dogs at the shelter, and sleeplessness over Jasper's safety, and angst about whether I should foster, even briefly, with my dog Honeybun's medical concerns....and then it all falls in place, just in time to be snatched away! But really, while it was snatched from Josh, and in a funny way, from me, it was not snatched from Jasper. In the end, Jasper got what he most needed - a home. It is tempting to look at disappointment only from our own perspective. We perceive the tragedies and calamities that befall us as God's punishment, or chastisement, or even His perfect will that is withholding something from us for our benefit that we just don't understand. However, maybe it has nothing to do with US at all! Perhaps it is about what is best for our fellow sojourner here on earth. In our egocentric world, that is not always easy to accept.

"Hooray!" wrote many of my fellow dog lovers, "Now you will have room to help another dog in need!"
"I really wanted him," said Josh, "But what really matters is he is safe now."

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. (Genesis 50:20 NASB)

-save a dog-

Friday, August 16, 2013

New Horizons Blossoming

We are up very early to drive to Asherel's first day of dual enrollment classes at the Community College. She gets high school and college credit simultaneously for her last two years of high school if all goes as planned. While most things tend not to go as planned, I am thrilled to see her excited about this new challenge. She has homeschooled her whole life. It will be exciting to watch her blossom in this new environment. I think I am more nervous than she is. Have I prepared her well? So many hopes and dreams for our children and we really have such a short time with them.

I think perhaps more than the typical mom, we homeschool mothers have a harder time watching them venture off. For one thing, we take any failure personally. (At least I do). We feel perhaps we did something wrong. But for another, we have been with them so constantly. When they leave for adventures I am not a part of, it is like ripping off a toe.

Then I remember that even Jesus only lingered for a while with us. He warned His followers to prepare; He would only be with them for a short time. However, He would not leave them without guidance. His spirit would always be with them...with us. There is comfort in that, His spirit, alongside mine as I watch my girl walk off towards this new horizon.


For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. (Colossians 2:5 NIV)

-save a dog-

Thursday, August 15, 2013


One of the wonderful rescue groups I am a part of posted a picture of a possible Carolina Dog (CD) in an animal shelter. This particular rescue tries to pull and place in forever homes only Carolina Dogs and CD Mixes. They want to save all dogs, but know they can't, so that is their area of focus. They are vehemently opposed to any breeding of the dogs, since so much of their existence is spent with the heart-breaking task of mopping up the mess of dog over-population and the resultant scourge of euthanization. They are a selfless group, sacrificing enormous time and money to save as many dogs as they can, even raising funds to fly them across the country to potential homes.

I can't do much for them - can't foster, at least not very long, with Honeybun's issues and now her health problems on top of her dog wariness. But whenever a potential CD pops up in an animal shelter, particularly the ones that euthanize dogs, they need someone to go take several pictures and videos so they can determine if it is a CD. When I saw "Jasper's" picture, I noticed the shelter was only about an hour away from me. I volunteered to go visit Jasper and take additional photos and videos. I set out, excited to be of use to this wonderful group.

Jasper was in the back row of two long rows of dogs. I had to pass about thirty cages to get to him, and every dog barked longingly at me, stood on their hind legs and reached their paw through the wire at me, wagged their tails, and begged me to pause and pet them. I was warned not to stick my hand in any cage, but it was very hard. So instead, I paused at each cage and told each dog that he or she was a "good dog" and very lovely. I prayed that each would find a home soon. When I finally reached Jasper, I was already emotionally worn out. How does my friend Nicole do this every day of her life and not slit her wrist?

Jasper was a 6 month old puppy, and he was leaning against the wall, near the front of his cage. His ribs and hip bones poked out, and his eyes were sad. I ignored the signs and reached my hand in the cage. He licked my hand gratefully and continued to lick my fingers the whole time I was there. A man wearing a prison uniform and SC Correction Department logo came by, and told me I should look at the German Shepherd in the corner.
"He's a great dog," the man said. He explained that the dog was due to be euthanized two weeks ago, but the man keeps changing him to different cages, attempting to keep him alive. He built a corner fenced area to convince the shelter they had space for the dog, if I understood him correctly. Thus far, the dog is still with them.

"Can't you take him?" I asked, then realized (belatedly) that he was a prisoner, probably involved in some wonderful dog care /work/prison program, but had no say in whether he could have a dog. Later, I could find no info on prisoners working with SC dog shelters, but they do work with horse rescues in a wonderful rehabilitation of horse and human program, so I presume this man was involved in a similar prison rehab program with dogs.

I found it touching, the prisoner who obviously loved every dog there, and the poor dogs behind bars, eager for him to pause and pet them. He showed me every dog, telling me a little about them, and how wonderful they were. While I was there, a truck pulled up with two more dogs for the dog jail. The place was already full, I noticed. The prisoner took the two dogs and led them away, as I waved goodbye to him.

There was one person in California who wanted Jasper. She asked that we insure he was "intact" as she wanted to breed him. I found that out when I returned home, the rows of haunted, frightened eyes seared in my brain. The CD rescue said, "Absolutely not." They would never consent to helping anyone breed more dogs when so many already die abandoned and alone. it is their firm policy that every rescue be neutered.

I think we have a duty to our planet and to all its creatures, a sacred duty to care for them. It breaks my heart to see living things discarded as though they were pieces of trash. The Bible says that blessed are they who care for the needs of their animals. I love the image of a man, incarcerated for his crime, finding hope and worth in helping other creatures who were imprisoned. I thought of how all of us are imprisoned by sin, and what a wonderful opportunity each of us has to bring hope and redemption to fellow "prisoners" in the good news of faith in Jesus's atoning sacrifice and forgiveness.

I posted the videos and pictures, and almost immediately two people said they wanted Jasper. One would agree to sponsor him, and foster him with potential to adopt him. She loved his video and pictures. His sweet face melted her heart. Another would outright adopt him, drive from Indiana to pick him up! The Rescue is very careful in screening all adopters, for the safety of the dog as well as the long term chances of the adoption being a good fit. So while applications are being reviewed, I read online that this is a very high kill shelter. I am waiting anxiously for them to open this morning so I can call and tell them to hang on to Jasper. God whispered in the ear of a couple of good people and a potential home awaits.

Dear children, don't just talk about love. Put your love into action. Then it will truly be love. (1 John 3:18 NIRV)

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 42:6, 7 NIV)

-save a dog-

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Without Flaw

My husband Arvo spent the past three days stripping and re-staining our dining room table. It was a pretty massive undertaking, and involved a lot of noxious fumes, and sweltering heat since much of it had to be done outside during the first real heat wave of the summer.

I thought it was looking pretty good, and near completion, when I asked him yesterday morning if it was all done now.
"Well, no, there is an unfortunate set-back. Come see."
He led me to the enormous table, now newly refinished and said, "See?"
"It looks beautiful," I said.
"But look here," he said, pointing to one small 2 inch section that was unstained. It was barely noticeable, especially given the large expanse of perfectly stained surface.
"Do you think that matters?" I asked.
"Well, every time I look at the table, it is all I see," he said.

I think this is quite a perfect illustration of what we are before a holy, righteous God. We can be very close to perfect, but there will always be the disfiguring mark of sin, the flaw that keeps us from total communion with God. I have often heard that God "cannot look upon sin." However, that never made sense to me. It is clear God does look upon sin, all the time, in the Bible. However, He does not look on sin *with favor*, as a careful translation of Habakkuk 1:13 reveals. So maybe it isn't so much that God separates Himself from us and our sin, but that our sin separates US from God. When we sin, and are unrepentant, it is we who have lost the ability to commune with a Holy God. We know He is displeased, but it is not that He has ever lost His love for us. We are unable to accept His love in our fallen state.

Perhaps it is a little like the teen who is flaunting his parents' rules, and rather than owning up to his sin, he instead lashes out at them in anger, distancing himself from them. Were he to admit how much he has failed them, it is too horrible for him to contemplate, in the face of their love. Instead, he runs from them, away from the comfort and forgiveness they could have offered.

Sin blinds us to the power of God's love. Maybe we cannot live in the presence of pure holiness with our sin always before us, like that unfinished stain on Arvo's table. It becomes magnified, and all we see. And in the presence of God's perfect holiness, it becomes unbearable.

In the end, Arvo could not stand it. He stripped the area with the unfinished section, and painstakingly worked to make it as perfect as the rest. I would have been ok with him leaving it, but I was appreciative of the desire to have it be his best, a pure and perfect offering with all presence of flaws covered over.

Habakkuk 1:13
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil,
And You can not look on wickedness with favor.

But Christ offered himself to God without any flaw. He did this through the power of the eternal Holy Spirit. So how much more will his blood wash from our minds our feelings of guilt for committing sin! Sin always leads to death. But now we can serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:14 NIRV)

-save a dog-

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Kingfisher

For my birthday, I took off in my kayak before it got too hot. I prowled along the shaded bank and chanced upon a Kingfisher. The Kingfisher is a funny top heavy bird, with a blue feathered crown and a beak almost as long as his body. He is adept at, you guessed it, fishing. One might even say he is a King among fishers! He never let me get very close, but for the entire time I was kayaking, he led me upstream along the shore. Every few feet he would pause, sitting on a nearby branch until I approached, and then he would squawk, and take flight again. When I turned around, he turned around, and led me back all the way till I cut away from the shore to cross the river and return to the dock. He was exceedingly pleasant company, as the morning breeze slipped over my arms like silk. The river was otherwise empty, just me, the turtles sunning, and the Kingfisher. I think perhaps it was God's birthday gift to me - the Kingfisher leading me along the river. I don't mind being alone, in fact, I like being alone. But I love being surprised by the company of nature while kayaking and listening to the gentle lapping of the water on the shore, the shriek of osprey overhead, the splashes of turtles when I approach. So the Kingfisher was a pleasant surprise, the icing on my birthday cake from Creation.

Funny how it led me the whole time I was on the water. It made me grateful for another King that leads me, and is a Fisher too, a Fisher of Men. Most days, I am not aware that He is always just a step ahead. But sometimes, I recognize that He is there, leading me so subtly, so gently, that I often think I am the one choosing the path. How lovely when we are both pleased to be following the same shoreline, of one accord.

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth. So there are three that testify, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord. Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:6-8, 12 NABRE)

-save a dog-

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hot Hot Hot

It was hot, hot, hot yesterday. I foolishly took Honeybun for a short walk right after church, and we both wilted. I lost any energy to even think about any outdoor activity. We've been spoiled this summer with relatively cool weather. I had forgotten how utterly incapacitating a real NC summer is.

And it was hot in church too! Not temperature-wise, but in the pastor turning up the flame of conviction. He talked about how the flesh and its sinful desires will always be at war with the Spirit within us. Our job is to stay immersed in the things of God, make daily choices that help us move closer to God. The battle will wage till the day we die. Oh joy. He talked about how when the Spirit is in control, fleshly desires like anger, envy, jealousy, impatience, discord will be less evident.


He said we can try as hard as we are able, and we will never succeed without the support of the Holy Spirit. Yes, this part I experience deeply. Daily.

After church, I was looking over Facebook posts. One acquaintance said she was done with family forever, and good riddance. Another talked about how he had been thinking a great deal lately about true repentance and true reconciliation and forgiveness. He said one cannot forgive unless the one who has sinned is truly repentant, or the grace extended is of no benefit to the sinner. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called that "cheap grace":

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

I think much of the struggle to forgive in our society is because there is so little honest repentance. It is of course the basis not only of getting right with our fellow man, but also getting right with God. If we don't understand how in our prideful, sinful, rejection of Him as Lord we sin, we will never know the wrenching anguish of true repentance, and we will never know the miraculous wonder of true forgiveness.

And while here on earth, the struggle will not ever end. We must rely daily on the power of God to help us.

It is another hot, hot, hot day out there today. Sometimes it seems like it will be too hot forever, but the good news is, cooler days will come.

A sound is heard on the barren heights, the children of Israel weeping and begging for mercy, for they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the Lord their God. Return, you faithless children. I will heal your unfaithfulness. “Here we are, coming to You, for You are the Lord our God. Surely, falsehood comes from the hills, commotion from the mountains, but the salvation of Israel is only in the Lord our God. From the time of our youth the shameful one has consumed what our fathers have worked for — their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. Let us lie down in our shame; let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our fathers, from the time of our youth even to this day. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 3:21-25 HCSB)

-save a dog-

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Most of aging is not fun, quite frankly. Things wrinkle, droop, ache, break, and redistribute in most unpleasant ways. However, one of the few benefits of age is that you can look back and remember how people used to be.

I was a Sunday school teacher for twenty years. About 14 years ago, I taught the 2 year olds at our church. One of them was a brilliant, and headstrong little boy who gave me a run for my money! He was often delightful and so smart that I had to study up before I tried to teach him anything, and he had a radiant smile when he was overjoyed. But, when things didn't go his way, he didn't quite know how to harness all that disappointment. His dad stayed in the class since at times, the teachers were at a loss as to how to help the little guy remain under control. His dad was always gentle, always calm, always soft spoken, and I marveled at how he never seemed flustered by that whirling dervish of a son. He seemed to understand at a gut level that given time and love, that brilliant little boy would grow into his brain and things would settle just as God intended. His mother was just as remarkable, always encouraging, trusting, and guiding. The little boy was not always easy, and I know that there were times of heartbreak, anguishes bathed in prayer.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to hear a benefit piano concert, put on by that young man, now sixteen. He was raising funds for an Eagle Scout Project, and hoped to earn the money by an hour long piano recital where he played Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Rachmaninoff, among others. He was poised and confident. He played magnificently. After finishing one particularly difficult piece, he stood to bow and burst into a radiant smile. It was the smile I remembered from all those years long ago, when he was particularly pleased, and I almost cried with the joy and wonder of what a magnificent young man he had become.

Not only was I for once happy I was old enough to remember what he had been, but also, encouraged by what the whole span of that young man's life taught me that afternoon. God has a plan, a beautiful wonderful plan for each of us. So many of us (me especially!) fret and worry, knowing how far those in my care have to go to reach goals. I am certain that given where they are now, they will never get there. But God never looks at us that way. God looks at us as how we WILL be one day, when all the perfecting is through... like the pianist' dad who somehow looked beyond the wild and sometimes uncontrolled energy of that little boy to the wonderful young man he knew he would one day be, given the right amount of love and encouragement.

Bravo, my friends, grown-with-God young man and loving parents with such vision and faith.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:1-3, 10-13 NIV)

-save a dog-

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fleeting Wonder

I saw a new creature while kayaking yesterday. I was not feeling very energetic, and almost didn't go, but home school starts next week, and I thought I better get in my beloved kayaking while I was able. So I was creeping along the shore line, when in my peripheral vision I saw a bright green leaf flutter and swirl on the wind. Suddenly I realized it was not a leaf but a Luna Moth! It was quite large, with wings a good 7 inches long. I am not sure I have ever seen a healthy Luna Moth fly before. I saw one once that was dead, with half a wing chewed off. We put it in a box to save since it was so lovely still, and in the middle of the night awoke to a tremendous banging about in the box. The Luna Moth had not been dead, apparently.

The magnificent Luna Moth fluttered into the treetop and I skimmed across the water right beneath it, eager to watch it. However, it was so completely camouflaged, that I could not see it anymore. I was only graced with that one brief glance, and it was gone.

Sometimes that's all we get. Just a taste of wonder, a touch of glory, a moment of beauty. Sometimes we are not even quite aware what delight we have seen before we blink and it is gone. And then we wish we had gazed a little more carefully, a little more appreciatively.

The adult Luna Moth lives only one week, and is mostly active and seen at night. This floors me. Why create something of such exquisite beauty only to have it live for 7 short days, and not even be seen in the full light of day? It is one of the questions I hope I remember to ask God one day. All the weeks it lives as an ugly caterpillar, chowing down voraciously to finally emerge as one of the loveliest creatures on earth...only to flash briefly and then flicker to oblivion. If I had decided not to venture out in my kayak that day, I would not have seen it, that glimpse of ephemeral splendor.

But in a strange way, it gives me hope. If that exquisite Luna Moth brings such brilliance in such a brief few days, perhaps in our many decades on earth, we have the potential to impact much more than we might think. We are both but a tiny thread in the grand skein of eternity, but how much better to be beautiful when the eyes of Heaven pass over us.


Lord, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow. (Psalm 144:3, 4 NIV)

-save a dog-

Friday, August 9, 2013

Foolish Vows

Our new year of Destination Imagination (DI) started yesterday! The team I manage met to choose their "challenge" for the year, and they already have wild and creative ideas for how they will meet that challenge. Last year was our first year, and we had a lot of learning about how to be a team, but in the end, it was really a magical team. So I am very excited to be able to leave them to their own devices this year.

"I thought you were not doing this again?" said my friend.
It was an enormous time and energy commitment last year, and I think I had indeed vowed never to do it again.
"Yeh, I thought so too," I told my friend, "But in the end, Asherel really wants to do it, and the team learned so much last year. I think I will be able to really back off and let them manage their time on their own, observe the safety rules...not die...I don't think it will be nearly as hard on me as last year was."

That is my hope and my new vow. Teenagers and power tools are a scary combination, but I think this group is up to the challenge of surviving with much less supervision than last year. So my new vow is to close my eyes, and back off.

However, one should be very careful about what one vows. I am reading in 1 Samuel about King Saul and his foolish, rash vows. In the section I am reading, Saul is going out to battle the Philistines, and foolishly vows that none of his troops shall touch a morsel of food till the Philistines have been defeated. The consequence of disobeying Saul in this stupid proclamation is death. So the troops don't eat all day, and are starving. Saul's son Jonathan doesn't hear about this edict, and eats a bit of honey. He is found out by his father who laments: gee willikins, boy, now I have to slaughter you!

Fortunately, the troops tell Saul that the whole reason the Philistines were defeated was due to Jonathan, and he cannot be serious about killing his own son over tasting a mouthful of honey? Saul relents, Jonathan is spared, and we are given an important lesson. Do not vow anything without considering all the implications. Decide hastily, and repent for eternity.

It is quite telling that after Saul's foolish vow, when he prays to God, he hears no answer. Apparently, God does not suffer fools gladly.So, I am just hopeful my team will do all they can to be independent and successful. I guess I better not vow what my response will be, but am feeling confident this is going to be a good year.

1 Samuel 14:26-30 NIV
[26] When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out; yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath. [27] But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened. [28] Then one of the soldiers told him, “Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food today!’ That is why the men are faint.” [29] Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. [30] How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?”

-save a dog-

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Believing in Power

As I headed off in my cute little lime green Honda Civic to kayak for an hour, I noticed a hitchhiker on the windshield. It was a young Praying Mantis, the first I have seen in a year or two! We used to have pet Praying Mantises - Asherel loves them and she would keep them, name them, feed them, and even did some scientific research on them. She learned many interesting things. For example, do you know Praying Mantises will always climb to the highest point they can in a cage? Or that they will snatch a toothpick with food on it and eat it like corn on the cob? And did you know that when they want to intimidate you, they will weave back and forth?

Well, this little Praying Mantis was clinging to the windshield as I drove along at 30 mph, and he seemed to have noticed me in the car. As soon as I saw him, I pulled over, and he instantly began his intimidating weave. He was ready to battle the wind and the giant. I got out of the car, and spent a good bit of time gently capturing him. He really was having NONE of that, and kept scampering out of my hands, and then weaving to scare me away. Finally, I got him, and carefully placed him in the grass. He weaved at me and waved his ferocious claws.

"Goodbye, little Mantis," I said, "You are very brave and a great inspiration in fighting for your rights."

As I drove away, I chuckled, thinking how the little Mantis had no idea I could have squashed him in a moment. It didn't matter that I was 400 times his size.

"That is how I should behave," I thought, "Always face the world believing that I am strong. After all, God is with me, as He is with all those who believe.
With Him, I can do all things."


1 Samuel 10:6-7 NIV
[6] The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. [7] Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.

-save a dog-

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

External Support

We have a wonderful neighbor who rescued a disabled dog, knowing it would cost her a fortune to try to help the dog. That alone should qualify her for sainthood, but beyond that, she went far above and beyond the minimum surgeries. The dog has had 5 surgeries, many drugs, stem cell therapy ($$$$$$), and on-going physical therapy! But the poor dog still has trouble walking.

"Have you tried a brace?" I asked as Roxanne shared some of her woes.
"No," she told me.
"The Hip Hound Ortho soft brace I got for Honeybun worked wonders for her. And it is only $70. Would you like to give it a shot? I can loan it to you. Cowboy looks to be the same size as Honeybun."

So yesterday I ran the brace over and showed Roxanne how to put it on Cowboy. Just like with Honeybun, as soon as the firm compression helped hold his hips in place, Cowboy was wagging his tail and walking with a normal, steady gate. We walked him half a block and when he finished, Roxanne said he would normally have laid down, collapsing from the fatigue and instability in his hips. He stood steadily, wagging his tail. Roxanne was thrilled and is going to order the brace immediately. Such a simple fix, so inexpensive, with such dramatic results. Why don't vets know about this brace?

It was not designed by a vet. It was designed by dog owners who saw the need, used a little common sense, and then with vet consult, went on to produce the brace. If only all problems in life could be so easily dealt with! Sometimes, when everything that can be done medically is done, all that is needed is a little external support, something that helps hold everything steady and firmly where it belongs.

Like God.

We can struggle and get pretty far sometimes on our own, but most of us will eventually hit our limit. There will always be a point at which we can go no further. Sometimes, the despair is so great over what we cannot do that we give up altogether, and like poor Cowboy, just lie down and not even try to get up. Faith falters, hope deflates, dreams evaporate, and we wonder what is the use to try again when we are so prone to failure. I have found this is when God does His best work sometimes. When I collapse into His support, more often than not, I find a strength that I didn't know was there. He holds me firmly, setting me on my way again. It may not always be the path I intended to follow. But He doesn't let go till I get where He wants me.


For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13 ESV)

-save a dog-

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Behind the Clouds

Rain again! The rainiest summer I have ever known in NC! I guess that means no kayaking today. After a week of being out of town and no kayaking, that disturbs me. At least it gives my blister which developed from all the yard work at my folks a chance to heal. I probably couldn't hold a kayak paddle anyway.

Still, I am thanking God for the blister, for ONLY a blister. Yesterday I heard of three friends with pretty frightening symptoms or diseases. I would never have known based on their cheery notes, and carrying on as though all was well. So many burdens we carry that is hidden! The clouds can only hold so much moisture before the rain pours forth. I suspect the human soul is similar in how much struggle it can endure before it bursts in spasms of weeping.

How important it is to weigh every word carefully, to offer love and support whenever possible, and not to judge or condemn others for what we don't understand. You just never know what clouds of misery are growing heavy. And you also never know when a gentle kindness offered in the spirit of God might soften the impact of the storm, and might even help them see that behind the clouds, Heaven awaits.


So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.” I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord ’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:18-23 NIV)

-save a dog-

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Bumpy Ride

I flew home from several days with my folks. Always sad leaving family. On my last morning run there in beautiful upstate NY, I thought again how beautiful the countryside was, the mountains, the ever changing clouds. The little plane that carried me from lovely NY was quite bumpy. I drew the picture on the blog with a shaky hand, bouncing with the bumps of the plane. It might have been a better picture if the plane had been a smoother ride. But it wasn't. I had to work with what I was given; a vision, the tools, a picture to draw, and a bumpy plane.

I often go to bed and think about what I could've or should've done in life. In a perfect world, perhaps I would've. But we all know it is not a perfect world so we do the best we can. We draw in the midst of the heaves and tumbles of a bumpy ride, and the picture we produce is perhaps most valuable in that we decided to draw it at all. God gave us the paintbrush and put it in our hand. it would be sacrilege not to make the most beautiful mark we are able even in the midst of turmoil, leaving Him to frame it when it is finished.


Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138:7, 8 NIV)

-save a dog-

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Following the Flock

My sister in law, Jenny, is trustee in the little village of Owego. She took my folks and me to the lovely historic Evergreen Cemetery where she has instituted a clever new lawn mowing service to the very hilly, difficult to mow grounds. The village receives sheep on loan from a local sheep farm, and the sheep are employed to mow the cemetery. Jenny says it is working beautifully, though the sheep are getting very fat. Five new sheep were added to the mowing crew on the day that we arrived to see them. Unfortunately, the new sheep were very scared about the new surroundings, or perhaps spooked by the cemetery spirits, and refused to leave their pen. They huddled in a back corner, looking very worried.

The two veteran mowing sheep were quite willing to leave the pen, and eagerly lapped up the oatmeal we brought for them to eat. However, as soon as we moved very far from the pen, where the huddled five remained, the veteran sheep bleated, and when the frightened flock didn't come, the veterans returned to the pen with them.

The veteran sheep knew there was nothing to fear outside the pen, were likely hungry having not left the grassless pen all day, and yet, they remained with the flock. The veteran sheep, outnumbered, were still the ones the flock should have followed. But instead, the veteran sheep followed the silly, huddled, and frightened flock.

I can hear the conversation now. The sheep huddled in the back, hungry and afraid, are convinced that to leave the pen means death.
"No," insist the veteran sheep, "We have been leaving the pen every day for a month now. Not only does nothing bad happen, but we are rewarded with 100 acres of some of the tastiest grass you will process through your 4-chambered stomach. If you stay here in the pen, you will starve. There is no food in the pen, and none is coming. Outside this prison is a whole field of food...just follow us! Come, eat, and be satisfied!"

"No," bleat the huddled unbelievers, "You are self righteous, arrogant beasts with heads full of wool! Who are you to try to tell us what will satisfy or that your way is the only way we will get fed! There are five of us and only two of you! Why should we believe you about something we have never seen?"

"Never seen! Are you daft?! Look through the fence - all around you the evidence is clear. You just have to leave your fears and pride behind, and step outside what you believe to be your world. I am telling you, my wooly friends, you choose to remain here and you will perish. But if you follow me, you will have everlasting food and abundant life. Come!"

We tried to cajole the frightened sheep out of the pen. The veteran sheep tried to urge the frightened sheep out of the pen. They were watching and considering when we left, but had not yet made the choice. I am praying for the sheep, such sweet, soft, and fluffy souls.


So Jesus said again, "What I'm about to tell you is true. I am like a gate for the sheep. All those who ever came before me were thieves and robbers. But the sheep did not listen to them. I'm like a gate. Anyone who enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out. And he will find plenty of food. "I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and my sheep know me. They know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I give my life for the sheep. "I have other sheep that do not belong to this sheep pen. I must bring them in too. They also will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:7-9, 14-16 NIRV)

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said... (Mark 1:17 NIV)

-save a dog-

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A New Creation

After the professional landscapers put in my folks' lovely welcoming island of peace for passersby to sit awhile, the old island behind the new island looked unkempt. Surprisingly, it had not seemed quite so unkempt before the neatly manicured new island went in. So, armed with hoe, rake, shears, shovel, and 9 bags of black mulch that matched the new island, I was armed and ready to do battle with the old island.

I have scratches today in places that are highly unusual. I don't remember when or how I opened up some of the bloody wounds. That is nothing compared to how sore my muscles are. Who knew 4 hours of gardening would be so demanding?

However, not a single weed or blade of errant grass now pokes through my Mom's pachysandra island. Instead of a covering of old dead leaves, black mulch neatly covers the empty spaces, and in a visually pleasing way, draws the eye peacefully from the new island to the now equally lovely old island.

Many cars slowed and stopped as they passed the yard. Many dog walkers paused and looked surprised, gazing at the lovely new island of respite, harmoniously blended with the old island that looked so much better than they remembered. The sign is not yet up that tells them this is for them all to come sit and rest awhile, but I do hope to get to that tomorrow.

It is funny how the old island seemed perfectly dandy until the new island came along. We all knew the old island wasn't perfect, but it was certainly good enough. And then the new came, resplendent in its beauty and perfection. We had no choice then. We had to fix the old to match the new.
While the analogy is not perfect (no analogy ever is), this made me think of the Old and New Covenant of the Bible. In the Old Covenant, God's people had to make regular sacrifices and seek God's forgiveness anew for every sin, which if they were anything like people of today, occurred about every 1.7 seconds. The Old Covenant promulgated the rules and laws of God, and if we could have kept it perfectly, there would have been no need for a Savior, for a Redeemer, for Jesus. But we could not. Like I said, about every 1.7 seconds, we broke one law or another. The Old Covenant was critical in showing us how impossible it was for us to be righteous on our own power. It showed with glaring obviousness the wretched condition of the soul of mankind. The weeds of pride, anger, lust, envy, gluttony, drunkenness, lewdness, and worse quickly choked the beauty of what God had intended to grow in our hearts. The Old Covenant could never save us.

So, in His mercy and grace, He sent us a new island of hope, of redemption. This Redeemer was perfect, knew no sin, harbored not a single weed of evil. And God gave us the most loving offer. Repent of the wretched condition of our soul, rip out the weeds that choked the righteous life from us! Then believe that the peaceful respite nestled among the flowers and new dogwood trees was set there just for us. We could pass it by, pretend it didn't exist, despair that there was no comfort on a painful and exhausting journey...or we could say, "Thank you," and sit down at the feet of our Savior and Lord.

Today, I will be tackling the back yard, raking new paths through the forest, newly pruned and untangled by the professional gardeners.

Anyone who believes in Christ is a new creation. The old is gone! The new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIRV)

Now he was also telling them a parable. “No one tears a patch from a new garment to use it on an old garment. Otherwise he will rip the new, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, it will be spilled out, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. (The Gospel according to Luke 5:36-38 TLV)

-save a dog-

Friday, August 2, 2013

Rest for the Weary

For my folks 60th anniversary, many of us chipped in for a gift certificate to a landscape company. My folks find it increasingly impossible to keep up with their yard, though it was magnificent in its day. In fact, I got married in my deeply forested back yard, walking to my dear husband down a path made by my mother, lined with wild flowers all lovingly transplanted by my mother. She had also made a front yard island, filled with pachysandra that she had planted herself, after weeding and molding the island contours, lining the edge with shale she had found and brought piece by piece from the nearby woods. Everything is a little overgrown, though not badly. We assumed they would just have the landscape company spruce it all up.

My dad, upon receiving the gift certificate, said he would like to make a little spot near the curb where passersby could stop to rest. He himself, with triple bypass surgery a few years ago, finds it difficult to follow the doctor's orders and go for walks, because when he tires, he cannot sit down. He felt it would be a spot of kindness along the route many neighbors pass to find a seat where they could settle down, and gaze upon flowers all around them. He even wrote to the neighborhood association and asked if it could become a neighborhood project. He found bulk adirondack chairs on sale, and plotted how they could be dispersed throughout the neighborhood to complete his gentle vision.

So they met with the landscape company and asked them to build an inviting spot by the curb, with flowering plants and dogwood trees, and a path leading to a bench. They would put up a little sign to any who grew weary: Rest Awhile. My parents and I sat on their porch watching the yard slowly transform as the workers ripped up grass, planted flowers, placed the dogwood, settled the bench in place, mulched, and made a gravel path leading to the place of rest.

When the lovely enclave was finished yesterday, it was magnificent. It was so beautiful and well-crafted, with not a pebble or plant unplanned, that it became glaringly obvious that Mom's original island of pachysandra needed work. So I began weeding and clearing the overgrown clumps of grass from her shale outline. I urged Dad to buy dark mulch that matched the new resting island. Today I will rip up the remaining weeds and lay down the mulch. I think the dark mulch will unify the two islands to make the front yard a pleasing and harmonious composition of tranquility.

My folks are in their 80s. They are slowing down, and things are not nearly as easy for them to do as they used to be. Yet, here they have single-handedly inspired a thing of community goodwill and beauty that I hope might just catch on.

And I love the sentiment. To me it is more than an offering to rest tired feet. The motivation reflects a kindness of spirit that speaks of the Divine. It reminds me that we bear so many wearisome burdens that we were never meant to bear alone. There is rest for the weary that far surpasses any physical relief. It is rest for the spirit, for the soul, in the only One worth resting in. I would change the message on the stone that will lie at the front edge of the path.

I think the stone should say:
"All who are weary, I will give you rest."

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

-save a dog-