Monday, September 30, 2013

United in Joy

I normally draw my picture for my blog but I am now REALLY sick, and should be in bed so am taking the easy way out and just using photos from my day at the Carolina Dog Rescue Group picnic yesterday. I should not have gone to the picnic, sick as I was, but how could I not? Carolina Dogs and their families were gathering from all over the country at Asheville for the first annual Carolina Dog Rescue Group Picnic. How could I not be there?

So Asherel dressed our own dear Carolina Dog Honeybun in her finest Scarlet O'Hara dress and I loaded the car with coughdrops and tissues and emergency medivac kits, and off we went. It was a stunning drive, and the park where the picnic was being held was right on the banks of the rushing Broad River. Honeybun, resplendent in her Scarlet O'Hara dress got to meet 40 dogs that looked just like her. She was very well behaved, largely because there was a lot of yummy food nearby.

The highlight of the picnic was the Dingo wedding. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with this breed, they are also called American Dingoes, Swamp Dogs, or "yaller dogs". ) I don't know how it was decided upon that those particular two dingoes were to be hitched in matrimony, but since Honeybun was already wearing a dress, she was asked to be a bridesmaid. An actual boat captain was performing the ceremony.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. You are thinking our government is about to shut down, terrorists have taken to the malls, and insurance premiums are going to triple in a couple of days as our country slouches into socialism....why are we doing this silly gathering of dogs with dresses and wedding gowns and dog tuxedos?

I noticed as the wedding procession moved through the park, many people stopped what they were doing. I saw little families gather on nearby park benches, pointing and smiling. I saw many little children laughing and hugging their mothers with delight. I saw every Carolina Dog owner taking pictures while the dogs swirled happily together. It was a whole park gathered together in a moment of innocent, whimsical joy in what is increasingly a tumultuous world. When this particular group isn't gathering for a picnic, they are dedicating time, energy, and money to rescue dogs destined for euthanization. They see horrific and sobering examples of human atrocity towards innocent animals on a daily basis. They take God's admonition to "care for the animals of the earth" seriously.

The groom lay down for the wedding. When his "best man" encouraged him to stand up for his bride, he growled. After the ceremony, when the happy couple stood together for pictures, the bride growled at her mate. So much for conjugal harmony and peace.

I was feeling really sick by then, and when I got home, realized maybe it was more than just a cold. Maybe it was the flu. I shouldn't have gone, but I was still glad I had. Memories of the day kept me chuckling in the night despite my chills and nausea.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (Ephesians 1:3, 9, 10 NIV)

-save a dog-

Sunday, September 29, 2013


While the book I am almost ready to publish is being edited, I have started a new book. It is my first novel, a work of fiction about something I really know absolutely nothing. Part of it is an endearing dog story, and I know quite a bit about endearing dogs...but the other part is a murder mystery. So I have to educate myself about police protocol, forensics, and the judicial process. My google searches, if Obama's minions are watching, would be rather disturbing to the authorities.

I am blessed with a patient niece who is a deputy Sheriff in Az. She has been a wealth of information, but is about to have a baby so she may be too busy to continue our tutorials. My lawyer son and his law student wife are also swamped with work, so I can only ask them very quick, brief questions. I am at a section in my book where I need to know about Preliminary Hearings for accused murderers. My daughter-in-law suggested I try to find the transcript from the OJ Simpson trial. Excellent idea! So I found a youtube video of the preliminary hearing, or at least part of one day of the hearing. It was 45 minutes long. Ugh. I didn't really want to relive the horror of that time, but it seemed a good way to capture the idea of preliminary hearings, and determine how they go about finding "probable cause."

So early in the morning, before anyone was out on the river except for the hardy fishermen, I headed out in my kayak with my earpiece speaker on and my smartphone cued to the Youtube video. As I skimmed along the river, I lost track of time and place, entranced by the cunning and skill of the attorneys and the investigators of the OJ case. I was amazed by how every little detail became meaningful. The detective noticed, for example, that spider webs hit his face when he walked on the path beyond the famous bloody glove. However, he observed there had been no spiderwebs on the path before he reached the glove. Thus, he concluded the glove had been dropped, and then the person turned back the way he had come. I couldn't remember what they felt that proved. Was it to show they believed someone had intentionally hidden the glove? How incredibly observant to notice spider webs!

And then, the defense attorney grilled the detective for some time on whether his notes were taken on a blank sheet of paper, or on the regulation note pad. The only difference between the two was the regulation notepad had lines. Why had that detail been critical? I don't remember the trial well enough to recall how or if that became an important point.

It amazed me that even though I didn't understand where all those details were leading, it was clear they were building a case. One day all those seemingly irrelevant pieces would all come together and support their conclusion.

How similar that is to the way we must muddle through life, seeking God's will and trying to abide by His plan. So often the little details just do not seem to make sense. We have no idea why we are being forced to endure a certain set of circumstances. Sometimes, we just have to trust that it will all be revealed someday, and that in the end, we will see that every seemingly insignificant detail was critical in building to the conclusion.

And I have it on the highest authority that the conclusion will be glorious.

Through the blood of his Son, we are set free from our sins. God forgives our failures because of his overflowing kindness. He poured out his kindness by giving us every kind of wisdom and insight when he revealed the mystery of his plan to us. He had decided to do this through Christ. He planned to bring all of history to its goal in Christ. Then Christ would be the head of everything in heaven and on earth. God also decided ahead of time to choose us through Christ according to his plan, which makes everything work the way he intends. He planned all of this so that we who had already focused our hope on Christ would praise him and give him glory. (Ephesians 1:7-12 GWT)

-save a dog-

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Best Health Care Provider

Reading about diseases on the internet is not advisable. I correctly self diagnosed "dupuytrens contractures" in my hand (my primary doctor was impressed and concurred), but I also depressed myself finding out it was "incurable" and "progressive." I knew at some point, the growing contracture of my right thumb would need to be operated on, and at some point I would need to see a specialist. But since there is no cure, and for now, I have good mobility, I am waiting. And praying. I pray that by the time the contracture affects my ability to open a box of delicious crackers, a less terrible, pain-free procedure other than surgery will be developed.

Dupuytrens is characterized by nodules in the palm and thickening cords that grow on the finger tendons, slowly pulling the fingers into the palms (think witch-like claws just in time for Halloween...Too bad I don't celebrate that.) It rarely affects the thumb, but that is the digit that is affected in me. That's cause I'm SPECIAL. Yippee. It also affects mostly men, not women. SPECIAL again! Anyway, I have been increasingly worried about the slow loss of range in my thumb and wondering when I ought to see a hand therapist.

Yesterday, on the internet I read a research study about the positive effects of massage on dupuytrens contractures. Massage! That sounds pain free. I wrote immediately to the researcher who was requesting volunteers. "Where do I sign up?" I asked.

And then I ran into my lovely friend Roxan, who incidentally is a massage therapist. I asked her if she was familiar with dupuytrens. Not only was she familiar with it, but she said she can heal it with massage! She looked at my hand, and said, "Oh, you have it good...!" and then sent me home with instructions. She reminded me that it had taken incremental steps and a long time for my hand to develop the contractures, and the healing might likewise take time and incremental steps. Along with some very gentle beginning massage techniques, she encouraged me to thank God for the blessing of His healing.

My kind of health care provider!

And so I went home and did the gentle exercises and listened to my husband gulp when he got a letter in the mail from our health insurance provider. Due to the wonderful affordable new government takeover, our premiums will TRIPLE. Yes...TRIPLE. I realized I was ripping the skin off my hand with my "gentle" massage as I pondered the lovely era of socialism and forced government dependency in America.

But then I thought of Roxan, and her glowing demeanor and her gentle encouragement. The incremental steps that have eroded our freedom could be reversed, but like my hand, it may take time, and it may not happen all at once. God is in control, and He can heal my hand just as surely as He can heal my nation. Or He may choose not to. Either way about it, the best I can do is remember, "Thank God for the Blessing."

My whole being, praise the Lord and do not forget all his kindnesses. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He saves my life from the grave and loads me with love and mercy. He satisfies me with good things and makes me young again, like the eagle. (Psalms 103:2-5 NCV)

-save a dog-

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Formidable Foe

oh no. This is too awful. I saw another Hammerhead Worm, this time in my own neighborhood just 3 streets over! I just could not bring myself to step on it...I mean how gross would that be with this foot long slimy creepy worm?Then when I got home, I read more about it, and discovered that if you step on it, IT WILL JUST GROW BACK FROM THE PIECES. Good Lord! It is worse than Obamacare! (Well, ok, maybe that is going a bit far, but you get the idea.) And it WILL wipe out whole populations of the beneficial garden friend, the earthworm.

So I did a search on natural predators of the Hammerhead Worm. I was ready to stock the neighborhood with that predator! I could not find a single one! It seems clear that the Hammerhead Worm will be taking over the world. And here I thought it was more likely the demise of the human race would be at the hands of a nuclear holocaust. I was wrong. It will be a Hammerhead holocaust.

I found a data base of where these worms are found. There were NO reported cases in Charlotte! I had a moral obligation to report the presence of these beastly...beasts. So I wrote to the webmaster and informed him that these terrible creatures were in Charlotte. Did he know that? He did not and had me enter my worm and photo in the official data base. I am the notorious first reporter of the Hammerhead Worm in Charlotte! Lucky me!

No creature will stand up to this horrible worm, and it destroys all the good worms that make our flowers grow and our world worth living in. If this is not a symbol of what happens when we remain silent in the face of evil I don't know what is. Yet...what to do? How to vanquish such a foe? Not only does it dissolve earthworms on contact with its mouth, which is halfway down its body, but GET THIS: it's mouth is the same as its anus! (Now, that is exactly what I have been saying about some of our leaders these days in my less kind moments when despair over the direction of our country gets the best of me.)

What to do!? What to do!?

There is one small ray of hope. When the food supply is low, these worms become cannibalistic...they feed on their own kind! This has the happy effect of keeping their population in check. Sometimes, the way to fight evil is to just get out of the way and let it implode on itself. It is critical to know what strategy to adopt- stand up and fight, or just get out of the way....?

I am reminded of the scene in the Bible when the disciples try to cast a demon from a little boy unsuccessfully. They had cast demons out in the past. Why did they fail with the little boy? Jesus tells them, "This kind can only be removed by prayer." Furthermore, Jesus reminds them all things are possible to those who believe. Then Jesus, without a lick of trouble, casts out the demon.

So was their faith weaker than in cases when they had been able to cast out demons? Probably not. It is more likely, judging from Jesus' response, that some demons are stronger, more intractable, and even more faith than usual is required. And thus, again the critical importance of prayer is emphasized. Prayer is mentioned here, in my opinion, because prayer has a dramatic effect on faith.

The next time I see a Hammerhead Worm, I hope to see TWO. Then, I will put them side by side and let them devour each other. But be assured, I WILL also be praying.

A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, because he has an evil spirit in him and cannot talk. Whenever the spirit attacks him, it throws him to the ground, and he foams at the mouth, grits his teeth, and becomes stiff all over. I asked your disciples to drive the spirit out, but they could not.” Jesus said to them, “How unbelieving you people are! How long must I stay with you? How long do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy to me!” “Many times the evil spirit has tried to kill him by throwing him in the fire and into water. Have pity on us and help us, if you possibly can!” “Yes,” said Jesus, “if you yourself can! Everything is possible for the person who has faith.” The father at once cried out, “I do have faith, but not enough. Help me have more!” Jesus noticed that the crowd was closing in on them, so he gave a command to the evil spirit. “Deaf and dumb spirit,” he said, “I order you to come out of the boy and never go into him again!” The spirit screamed, threw the boy into a bad fit, and came out. The boy looked like a corpse, and everyone said, “He is dead!” But Jesus took the boy by the hand and helped him rise, and he stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn't we drive the spirit out?” “Only prayer can drive this kind out,” answered Jesus; “nothing else can.” (Mark 9:17-19, 22-29 GNTD)

-save a dog-

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Asherel and I both woke up yesterday with a sore throat, sniffles, and not feeling very good. We have a big weekend planned and both of us want to be healthy for that. It was a sickish type of day weather-wise as well - lots of rain, and grayness. Funny how the whole world seemed to reflect our precarious health.

But we just cannot be sick this weekend! We are gathering for the first annual Carolina Dog (CD) Rescue Group picnic! There will be scores of Carolina Dogs all frolicking together. My dear dog Honeybun is planning on wearing her Scarlet O'Hara dress as she intends to win the prize for Best Dressed Dingo. (Of course, we are not sure there will be a Best Dressed Dog contest, but just in case, it always pays to be prepared.) I cannot wait to meet the group of people who so unselfishly give of their time and money to rescue Carolina Dogs. Since they know the world is too full of dogs that need rescuing and they cannot save them all, this group focuses on saving dogs that appear to be Carolina Dog types. When we found Honeybun, we had no idea there was a breed that all looked just like her. Many people are not convinced they are indeed a breed. I don't really care. They all look just like my dog and I was looking forward to the picnic, as was Asherel. It's been planned for months.

I alerted the CD group that we were sick, and hoped it would not prevent us from attending the picnic. Immediately, several "cures" were posted on my Facebook link. One was a grandma's tried and true whiskey/honey/cinnamon cure. That sounded really good. But many people chimed in with their ideas for how to restore us to perfect health in no time. Asherel and I have been sucking down gallons of tea, raw honey, and cinnamon. (Maybe I will try the whiskey cure tonight....)

I found it curious how many people were so quick to offer medical advice for sickness of body...but how infrequently I see such effusive outpouring of advice for sickness of the soul. But there is so much sickness of the soul. I see it in so many of the struggles individuals, our nation, and our world are enduring. I think the root of nearly every one of those struggles is a profound soul sickness.

I LOVED how Ted Cruz ended his 20+ hour filibuster on defunding Obamacare yesterday by saying his time was almost up, and when he stopped speaking, debate on the bill would be preceded by a prayer. He said that was fitting, and exactly what was needed. I agree completely.

It is not health care we need so much as health prayer.


My sorrow cannot be healed; I am sick at heart. My heart has been crushed because my people are crushed; I mourn; I am completely dismayed. Is there no medicine in Gilead? Are there no doctors there? Why, then, have my people not been healed? (Jeremiah 8:18, 21, 22 GNBDC)

I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me? Return, O Lord, and rescue me. Save me because of your unfailing love. (Psalms 6:3, 4 NLT)

-save a dog-

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I didn't watch Ted Cruz filibuster all night, but I read comments from friends about it this morning. Go Ted! I love what he is doing! Most of us can't stand up and speak for an hour for what we believe in...let alone all night. When I woke up and started watching, Marco Rubio was giving Cruz a break, but then Cruz intends to keep talking.

When Job of the Bible and his "friends" were lamenting the evil that had befallen him, one friend remained silent. At first. His name was Elihu. Finally, after listening to the "older and wiser" friends speak nonsense, Elihu could stand it no more. Though he was younger...just a "freshman senator" of sorts, he could not be silent any longer while knowing what was being proposed was utter foolishness. So he spoke, because he knew that there is a time to withhold words, and there is a time to speak.

When God finally answers Job, He rebukes the "older and wiser" friends, but not Elihu. Scholars argue about why Elihu wasn't included in the rebuke, but I have my own opinion. Elihu was respectful, courteous, and gentle in empathizing with Job's suffering. He did not speak out of arrogance, but out of an intense desire to speak the truth on behalf of God. He could not remain silent, and his speech prepared the way for Job to hear God's words which roared out of the Heavens when Elihu finished his filibuster...

Keep Cruzin' , Ted!


and he said to them: I am much younger than you, so I have shown respect by keeping silent. I once believed age was the source of wisdom; now I truly realize wisdom comes from God. Age is no guarantee of wisdom and understanding. That's why I ask you to listen to me. * (Job 32:6-10 CEVUS06)

-save a dog-

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Invasion - True Story about aliens!

I was on a run, when I saw a creature I have never seen before. It was worm or snake-like, 6 inches long, moving faster than a worm, but slower than a snake, and had an anvil shaped head. I was completely horrified, but also interested. I took the creature's picture, wondering if our country was being invaded by an alien life form.

I posted it on Facebook, since my friends had been so helpful with my last post about how to clean 20 years of water stains off my shower stall. Within minutes I had my answer to , "What the @####@%%^&&&& is this?"

"It is a hammerhead worm," said a friend. Apparently it is an "invasive species", carnivorous (WHAT?), predatory (WHAT AGAIN?), and also known as "Terrestrial Planarians." They hitchhike in on transported plants from whatever ghastly place they come from originally (my guess is the bowels of Hell). Then they begin to stalk innocent earthworms. They apparently can latch on to the earthworms, and won't let go. This lovely creature then secretes enzymes onto the earthworm, which begin digesting the hapless earthworm's tissues outside of the hammerhead. Then he uses ciliary action to suck the earthworm goo into his gut. If you are able to sleep tonight after reading this, you are a better person than me.

"After reading Wikipedia about this worm," said another friend, "I don't think you want it in your yard."

In my yard?! I don't want it in my universe!

Still, I don't believe in evolution and I don't believe in accidents. This is a CREATED creature, made by an ALL LOVING, and ALL KNOWING GOD. With all the questioning of God that goes on in the Bible, why has no one, not even once, been quoted as asking, "Why did you create the Hammerhead Worm, oh wondrous Lord!?"

I did not step on the creature. I took his picture and decided he had as much right to life as I do...though had I read about his torture of earthworms before I left his disgusting presence, I might have responded differently. It reminds me that there is so much we don't know about God. Why would a God who loves the placid earthworm, and we can assume He does, create such a horrible enemy? Perhaps it is not a far cry from the psalmist's lament of Psalm 94, "How long will these wicked worms...uh!"

The psalmist, echoing people throughout history, saw evil seemingly rising up unobstructed. No thinking person has not wondered at one time or another how can God let evil reign even for a second? Yet by the end of Psalm 94, the psalmist reconciles that while he may not know the answer, he knows God. And God will "not abandon his very own possession". We will not be rejected, and justice will "meet up with righteousness." For now perhaps, things look grim, but the God who created us will not abandon us.

Still, I wish there was some way I could alert the earthworms.


Lord, avenging God— avenging God, show yourself! Rise up, judge of the earth! Pay back the arrogant exactly what they deserve! How long will the wicked—oh, Lord !— how long will the wicked win? They spew arrogant words; all the evildoers are bragging. They crush your own people, Lord ! They abuse your very own possession. They kill widows and immigrants; they murder orphans, saying all the while, "The Lord can’t see it; Jacob’s God doesn’t know what’s going on!"

The Lord will not reject his people; he will not abandon his very own possession. No, but justice will once again meet up with righteousness, and all whose heart is right will follow after. (Psalms 94:1-7, 14, 15 CEB)

-save a dog-

Monday, September 23, 2013

Flowers for My Angel

If you follow my blog regularly, you know I found an angel birdbath on the curb for garbage pickup. I snatched the angel, and put her in my "garden." (Those of you who follow my blog also know I use the word 'garden' with a great deal of literary license.)

Anyway, the angel birdbath was a little chipped and in disrepair in the birdbath portion, though the angel herself was in very good shape. I had considered repairing the birdbath, but had not gotten around to it yet. Then I had an inspiration in the middle of the night. When I get inspirations in the middle of the night, I write myself an email on my phone which is by my bed. Then I send myself the note and go to sleep knowing I will remember my wonderful inspiration in the morning. If I don't do that, I usually forget my wonderful inspirations.

So yesterday morning, I awoke, and there was a message to me on my phone. It said, "Buy flowers for my angel." As is often the case, I had indeed forgotten my inspiration, even with my reminder, and I gazed at the email wondering what on earth I had meant by this message. Flowers for my angel? How does one buy flowers for an angel!? I totally believe I have an angel...we all have angels all around us. But they are not physical beings. How does one buy flowers for a spiritual being? I am sure my angel deserves flowers. She deserves more than just flowers, but nonetheless, I was puzzled by my note.

And then I remembered. Oh yes! My wonderful inspiration was to convert the birdbath to a planter. I would buy my angel birdbath pansies. So I hurried to Lowe's and found purple pansies. I wanted purple because it seemed the proper majestic color to adorn an angel. I planted the purple pansies in the birdbath, smiling at the way my angel's foot dipped into the soil and was tickled by the fragrant petals.

"This is for all you angels," I said, straightening up and looking around me, though of course, there was no response but the autumn breeze dancing in the leaves.


The Lord ’s angel camps around the Lord ’s loyal followers and delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good! How blessed is the one who takes shelter in him! (Psalms 34:7, 8 NET)

-save a dog-

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Heart for the Lonely

I went to the river despite heavy cloud cover and threat of rain. The boating season is winding down, so I know I have to take advantage of any possible kayak time when I can. The beauty of the river on a questionable day is magnified, as only a few people usually venture out. I was alone for large segments of my time there. I glided by the cove where the ugly duck lives. He was there, all alone, sleeping on a log. I had two crackers left from my last visit a few days ago so I docked on the log.

"Hello, friend!" I said.

He woke up and stretched. Then he splashed into the river, eyeing me.
I reached out my hand with the cracker. This time, without hesitation, he ate out of my hand. I rocked on the waves while he washed his cracker down with river water. My wrist ached from all my shower scrubbing the day before, so it was a nice time to take a little break, and commune with the duck.

I wonder if this breed of duck doesn't like other ducks, or if he really is being shunned by the prettier ducks. He never has a friend nearby...well, except for me. I am always drawn to the this case, the under-duck. I hate to think of others being lonely if it is in my power to be a friend. But I am not really a wonderful friend, because frankly, I LIKE to be alone, and in fact, need alone time to rejuvenate. It takes a lot for me to feel lonely myself. But, I cannot stand rejection, and I had a feeling the ugly duck was, for whatever reason, rejected.

Take heart, ugly duck. Jesus was rejected too. And look where He ended up! He is in Heaven at the right hand of God Himself. It was not a lot of fun, all that He went through before that glorious exalted end, but I think it is an encouragement to all of us who have ever felt rejected. We are in good company, and God seems to have a special heart for the lonely.


Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you. (Psalm 25:16-18, 21 NIV)

-save a dog-

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Impossible Stains

My shower had become a Petri dish of stains and growths. I clean it regularly but I have chronically painful and weak wrists and hands, and it is very difficult to scrub very hard or for any length of time. So the intractable stains got deeper and darker and more entrenched. Yesterday morning I cracked. I had had enough of the brown crud that was the culmination of years of water stains, and whatever else was lurking in the discoloration. I attacked first with some heavy duty bleach cleanser. I don't know why I bothered. It has never really worked in the past. But I was determined. First I sprayed a boatload of bleach, and then I let it soak in for a half hour. And then I scrubbed and scrubbed till I could scrub no more. It had barely made a dent in the stain. However i was ready to keel over, asphyxiated with bleach fumes.

I got on Facebook and cried for HELP. Surprisingly, a few people chimed in instantly with ideas. My sister suggested half vinegar/half blue dawn dishwashing liquid. SO, I made a concoction per her instructions, sponged it on and then let it sit. After half an hour, I returned and began scrubbing. The stain did not miraculously disappear, and I was scrubbing harder than I have ever scrubbed in my life. BUT, I could see it was slowly coming off. This gave me renewed vigor. I scrubbed till I felt ready to pass out. When I finished, the stain was gone. The shower floor looked new. The walls need more work still but I did all I could handle for one day. When I had made the Facebook request I should have specified that I wanted something to remove the stain EFFORTLESSLY. This was excruciatingly hard work...though I was very pleased in the end with the clean shower.

This is a perfect symbol of sin. I would really prefer that the little stains and blemishes in my soul would be eradicated instantly with little effort, but it never ever seems to work that way. Usually, the same stains and blemishes come back day after day, and it requires constant, exhausting scrubbing to keep them at bay. Anyone who tells you that a sinless life is possible, or easy is lying. And anyone who thinks that you can maintain a cleansed soul without hard work is deluded. Or maybe it is just me... and all of you have spotless showers that wash themselves.


If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it. (Genesis 4:7 AMP)

“When a defiling evil spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return it finds the person spotlessly clean, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits more evil than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse off than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place. “That’s what this generation is like: You may think you have cleaned out the junk from your lives and gotten ready for God, but you weren’t hospitable to my kingdom message, and now all the devils are moving back in.” (Matthew 12:43-45 MSG)

-save a dog-

Friday, September 20, 2013

Look But Don't Touch

It was a spectacular day yesterday in Charlotte- clear blue skies, low 70s, low humidity, a gentle breeze. The air smelled fresh and full of oxygen with the promise of crisp Autumn days ahead. I went for a long walk on a break from editing, feeling happy to be alive.

I passed a lawn that had a little sign on it. It said, "Stay off the grass. That goes for dogs too." Now the person had every right to request people stay off his lawn, but dogs? Really? Most dog owners pick up any poop the dog leaves behind (and if you don't you should be completely ashamed of yourself and start doing so) but to not let a dog trot his tired hot pads across the cool carpet of grass? Is the lawn really that important? Is it really just an ornament not to be used? I wonder if their living room furniture has a plastic cover, only to be removed for dinner guests at Christmas.

Now, imagine God painting the perfect blue sky with the air full of crisp cool Oxygen and saying, "Don't breathe of the air."
...Or fashioning a tree with leaves spread out like umbrellas and ordering, "No resting in the shade!"
...Or pouring out an ocean with waves that swell and ebb along the shore and
proclaiming, "No wading!"
...Or erecting massive purple mountains that stretch into the clouds and commanding, "No climbing!"

I don't know. That little sign rubbed me the wrong that person had never recognized the overflowing bounty of God's grace and could not extend a thimbleful of his own.

“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. (Jonah 2:8 NIV)

-save a dog-

Thursday, September 19, 2013


One of my old friends at the nursing home where my daughter and I volunteer teaching art has not been down to my art class in a few months. I didn't dare ask if he was still alive, but a few days ago, when I was there, the nurse mentioned Bob wanted to come to the class but was feeling poorly. Bob is one of the WW2 vets I interviewed for my book which is in the edit process right now. One other person I had interviewed just recently died. Fortunately, before he died, I had sent him the section of the book about him. I was so glad I had done that, since he knew before he passed how he was to be immortalized in print.

So I had a strong desire to copy the section about Bob and bring it to him that very day. With his tenuous health, I knew he might not be around when the book was published. His story was a very important part of my book and in interviewing him, I had become his friend. While my mother-in-law was alive and living in that home, I used to visit Bob regularly. His room was next door to hers. Since she had passed, and we were only at the home once a month for the art class, I had not seen Bob in months. Joe, another WW2 vet at the home had also been featured in my book. I made two copies of the chapter that contained both their stories.

After printing the chapter, I hurried to the nursing home. The residents were in the lunchroom. Bob and Joe were at the same table. Joe had just seen me a few days before at the art class. He has not missed a single class, and he is getting to be a pretty good artist. But when Bob saw me, his face lit up and he reached his arms out to me. I hurried over and hugged him, avoiding the tubes of oxygen that snaked from his nose to the tank near him.

"Oh my!" he said, "I have thought of you so many times! I am so glad to see you!!! Where have you been?"
"I have been here teaching art," I told him, "But I hear you haven't felt well enough to join us. I hope you will join us next month. We will be drawing elephants."
"I like elephants," he said, "I will certainly give it a shot!"

I sat down and he told me how his health has not been very good lately. He greatly missed our art classes, and he really missed our visits. I handed him the section I had copied of my book and told him if he found any errors, to be sure to call me. He was very happy to have the book, but not nearly as happy as having the chance to see me again! It was very humbling, and touching. I handed Joe the chapter, and he didn't say a word, but immediately began reading it.

"Joe," I told him, "Both your stories are in this chapter. You both know each other's story, right?"
They looked at each other, these two WWII vets, both air-force radio men, who had sat at the same dining room table for years, and shook their heads.
"Well now you will," I said, incredulous, "Since you will read the other's story in this chapter."
"Well that will be great," said Bob, looking at Joe.
Joe smiled but was again buried in the story.

I couldn't believe it. How could these two men with such a common history sitting at the same table for years not know each other's story? I could not believe that my book, with the chapter of both their tales would be the catalyst to open that history for them.

Who could imagine how important stories can be!? I have always loved stories. I have been an avid reader since I was a little girl. The love of reading led naturally to the love of writing. Jesus knew the power of stories, and He used them all the time in His ministry on earth. His parables convey powerful messages that stay with us in a way recitation of facts just never do. We all have stories. Perhaps the greatest service we could do for one another is share our story, and hear each other's story.

As I left the nursing home, Joe was still reading his story. He had a small grin on his face, and didn't even notice that I had said goodbye, so caught up was he in the story.

O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders. (Psalms 78:1, 3, 4 NLT)

-save a dog-

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Advocate

I am writing an article about the state not honoring a private property contract. The individual is terribly frustrated, after fighting the state for 40 years to honor what certainly appears to be a cut and dry issue of a valid contractual agreement. He keeps being shuffled about to various officials and departments, and no one seems willing or able to solve a very simple request: honor the valid, signed contract.

I wrote the article and then contacted the state government to be sure I had a balanced account of the issue. The first official refused, albeit politely, to speak to me, since I was "the press". He gave me a number for the "public relations" department, who he said deals with that sort of thing. It turned out to be the Attorney General's office, who said because a lawsuit hadn't been filed, they couldn't comment on the issue. I told them the individual didn't want to sue, just wanted to settle a pretty straightforward issue amicably. They responded that they couldn't comment on behalf of the state. I asked them, who could? They didn't answer.

I share the same frustration now as the individual I am writing about! It is not a complicated issue. The state signed a contract, and appears not to have abided by the terms it agreed to. The individual just wants them to do what they are contractually bound to do. It is not difficult, and in the grand scheme of state affairs, not a big deal or expensive proposition. But even more importantly, the contract was signed and agreed upon by both parties. The individual has every right to expect that it would be honored.

The individual feels betrayed. His family entered the contract in good faith, giving a generous gift to the state. But as often happens, the less powerful are often at the mercy of those with power. This is not new. It has happened since time began. Isaiah cries out with a similar complaint in chapter 33 of the book of Isaiah in the Bible. He warns Assyria that while her power has allowed her to destroy, and betray the people of God, there will come a day when the destroyer will herself be destroyed; the betrayer herself betrayed.

In an expanded sense, what we dish out to others will ultimately fall back upon our own heads. Better to act with integrity, kindness, and justice towards others even when it hurts. If we desire justice, we should certainly be just to others. And if we wish for an advocate to present our case when we are in need, we should likewise be advocates for those who cannot advocate for themselves. (immediately the unborn come to my mind...)

Justice is no little thing. It was the need for justice that required sin be punished. If there were no divine requirement for justice, Jesus would not have needed to die. Through all the hateful manifestations and consequences of sin, we do have an advocate who accepts the punishment we deserve, and pleads our case before God through an incomprehensible sacrifice. The penalty for sin must be paid. Jesus understood that. Justice matters. When others act unjustly towards us, we feel how much it matters in the core of our being.

I'm hoping in the end the state will do the right thing. At the very least, I was hoping someone would call me back and let me know contracts and justice mattered to them, and they would look into it! And then, unexpectedly, one official did call back yesterday. After listening patiently to me for quite some time, he finally seemed to understand, and even perhaps, agree. He told me he would be an advocate for a speedy resolution and to be sure the individual's case would come before the appropriate person. Praise God for advocates.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:16-18 NIV)

You defeated my people. Now you're in for trouble! You've never been destroyed, but you will be destroyed; you've never been betrayed, but you will be betrayed. When you have finished destroying and betraying, you will be destroyed and betrayed in return. (Isaiah 33:1 CEVDCUS06)

Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. (Job 16:19 NIV)

-save a dog-

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Loving Others Till it Hurts

Asherel had a busy day yesterday, a lot to do and limited time to do it. But, it was also her day to volunteer teaching an art class at the nursing home. We both do that once a month, and the residents really look forward to it. So despite a good bit of school work, she gathered the art supplies and we headed off for our hour with the elderly folk.

There was quite a large group gathered; lots of spry and willing souls eager to try their hand at drawing a penguin. One old faithful was using a walker now. Last month, he was not. One woman fell asleep halfway before finishing her penguin's feet, then woke up, and finished. Another who was new to our drawing class finished her penguin as we were packing up and said, "I'd like you to come see a painting in my room." Asherel was anxious to get home and finish her school work, but of course, we could not say no. We had to go see the painting in Lee's room.

She led us to her room, just around the corner and proudly showed us three original paintings by a friend of hers. They were fairly amateurish, but it was clear Lee loved them.
"Well thank you for showing us the lovely paintings," I said, as we inched to the door.
"Oh there's more!" she said, leading us to another wall, "This one is of flowers...I just love the vase."
We made all the appropriate murmurs of appreciation, and again I thanked her for showing us the lovely paintings.
As we headed for the door, she stopped at a dresser with framed photos on it.
"This is my great grand baby," she said, pointing to one, "See her tiny toes!"
We both peered closely at the tiny toes, and inched closer to the door.
"And this is my grandson," she said, "He has diabetes. He always asks,'Why me?' He has had it since being born."
Behind the photos of her grandchildren was a large plaque, given to a man who was in the airforce during WWII.
"Was this for your husband?" I asked.
I knew he was no longer alive. It was evident from the decor and absence of his presence in the room.
"Yes," she said, "And here are his medals."
She led us to a framed shadow box, filled with medals and ribbons and military awards. She explained what each precious medal was for.
"And this," she said, picking up a little model jeep, "Was the very exact jeep he drove. Isn't it something? I ordered it special for him."
"I'll bet he loved it," I said.
"Yes, he did."

Many minutes later, we eased out of the room, and headed down the elevator. Just as we almost walked out the front door, another elderly woman called out to us.
"Are you the art teacher?" she asked.
"Yes, my daughter and I are," I said.
"I was so sorry to miss your class!" she said, "I had an appointment to do my nails, and then when they finished, I had fallen asleep! Your class was over when I woke up."
Well, it turns out, she was an art teacher during her working years, and she regaled us with stories of drugging puppies so they would sleep while her art class drew them.
Many minutes later, we finally walked out the front door.

Asherel still had a few hours of school work left, but the people who had stopped us had seemed so lonely, so anxious to talk, so eager to remember a past that was now gone. How could we not stop and listen?

Our sermon Sunday was from Galatians 5. In that chapter is a list of the "fruit of the Spirit." If every Christian continually exhibited those characteristics, people would be beating down the doors of Heaven to be near God. Sadly, many of us fall short. But the Pastor urged us to practice the lovely qualities in that list. "Go and be kind to someone this week," our pastor suggested. He reminded us that we do not grow more Christ-like on our own power alone. God is with us every step of the way. Nonetheless, the worldly desires of "the flesh" will be in battle every day against the spiritual manifestation of Christ in us. But every time we make a choice for kindness, or gentleness, or goodness, we grow more closely to the image of what God means for us to be. The day was a somber one with the mass shooting (again) in Washington. I know there will be the typical call for gun control in its wake, but I believe the call should be for reaching out to everyone we can in love and kindness. The issue is not guns. It is the heart and the soul of every human being. How do we change the heart? We don't...but God can, and we CAN go out into the world with the love of God.

I noticed as we shut the door of the nursing home behind us, Lee had followed us down, and was standing in the hallway, watching us leave.
"We'll be back next month!" I promised.


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22, 23 NIV)

-save a dog-

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ugly Duck

I was enjoying an extraordinarily peaceful and idyllic time kayaking on the Catawba yesterday along a quiet shoreline when I spied a duck. It was a very ugly duck. It had a bulbous blob on the upper section of its beak, had pinkish eyes, and rather ugly grayish colored feathers. It was all alone. I suspected other ducks did not wish to be seen with the ugly duck. I have seen that duck before in that same spot, and always alone.

I glided near and paused, resting my paddle on my knees. The duck looked at me and came slowly towards me. Remembering my emergency crackers in my dry bag, I pulled them out. As the wrapper crinkled, the duck paddled closer. Up close, I could see his feathers which looked grey from further away were actually shades of teal melting into blue and were really quite pretty up close. The eyes, while pinkish, looked soulful. The duck watched me open the cracker package, keeping about two or three feet away. I held the cracker out to him. He stayed near, but hissed a little, and then eyed the cracker. Seeing he was not going to take it from my hand, I tossed it on the water. He gobbled it up. I held out a second cracker. This time he came up to me and snatched it from my hand.

While he munched his crackers, I sat still and watched him. He drifted beside my kayak, both of us slowly floating downstream. It was very companionable, us two solitary creatures floating on the water. I thought as I finally kayaked away, he really was quite a nice duck and not ugly at all once I got close.


But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 HCSB)

Then hear thou in heaven, in the place of thy dwelling, and forgive, and do so as to give to every one according to his ways, as thou shalt see his heart (for thou only knowest the heart of all the children of men) (1 Kings 8:39 DRA)

-save a dog-

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Inside Out

My sister Holly texted me two days ago that she had just finished a three mile run and realized that her shorts were on backwards. We had a good chuckle over that, and I remembered when I showed up to church once with my shirt inside out. I remember thinking I needed to make better use of the mirror.

Well yesterday, I went on a five mile run and when I got inside, realized I had my shorts on inside out. Holly decided it must be genetic. I decided again I need to do better self-checks in the mirror before I go into public.

But wouldn't it be interesting if instead of our shorts, we all had days where we wore our souls inside out? Instead of them being neatly hidden from view where no one can see (and condemn!) them, they would be flapping in the wide open air like inside out pockets. I wonder how many of us would dare walk outside if that were the case, if every ugly thought and every nasty deed were exposed to the light of day?

I for one am glad that I never have to check the mirror to see if my soul is inside out. It always stays inside, or wherever souls reside. However, it is sobering to remember that God sees every icky thought, every ungrateful tendency, every unappetizing desire, every regretful action from the past. Every single moment, I am walking with my soul inside out before God. I don't know about you, but I think this is far more horrifying than running 5 miles with my shorts inside out.

The really exciting thing is that when we are washed clean by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, we are cleansed from the inside out! A new spirit takes residence within; the sanctifying spirit of God Himself. I like to picture Him as putting an arm around my mortified soul, and saying, "There, there. We are going to be hanging together now, and I promise, stick with me and there will be no more condemnation and one day, your insides will be cleansed all the way to the outside."

When my heart was bitter, when I was all cut up inside, I was stupid and ignorant. I acted like nothing but an animal toward you. But I was still always with you! You held my strong hand! You have guided me with your advice; later you will receive me with glory. Do I have anyone else in heaven? There’s nothing on earth I desire except you. (Psalms 73:21-25 CEB)

-save a dog-

Saturday, September 14, 2013


For a few days, I have been walking my dog Honeybun without the Hiphound brace. Using the brace was the only way she could walk more than a half block for the past 6 months. Whatever caused her inflamed nerve to press against her narrow vertebrae seems to have subsided, the meds are working, and she walked 2 miles without the brace yesterday! I watched her carefully this morning, but she was just as chipper and un-lame as the day before. It is very encouraging to see her leading a more sedentary, but relatively normal life. When she first collapsed from the as yet unknown condition a year ago, things looked bleak. Through it all, she never seemed to stop trusting us. She submitted to the vet, the pain, the meds, and finally the ignominy of the brace that makes her look like she is wearing hot pants.

There is another interesting development in her psyche. Understandably, since we found her as a starving mass of skin and bones, she has always inhaled her food. Her meals were always the highlight of her day. She still loves her meals, but lately when I put her food down, she saunters over, sniffs it, and looks at me as though asking permission or checking to see if something better might not be coming. After a moment, of what appears to be perplexity, she eats.

I don't know if she is growing senile, or if she finally realizes after 5 years of living with us that she will never be left to starve again. She finally trusts that her needs will be met, the other dog will not steal her food, and she can enjoy a more leisurely dinner hour.

Trust. The presence of trust is so critical. It is critical to a calm and happy dog and it is critical to harmonious human relationships. It takes a lifetime to build and a moment to shatter. Trusting that God is good is one of the most important premises of "resting in God". When so much that is not good appears to be raging with increasing wrath, it is not always easy to keep trusting. How does one trust in something that is unseen, especially when the world seems to be crumbling? How is Job of the Bible able to say to God, "Yea though thou slay me, yet will I trust you," after God stands by as Job's family, livelihood, and health is wiped out?

Habakkuk has a similar situation as Job, though on a less personal level. Habakkuk sees the worship of God grow cold, idolatry, violence, and evil is rampant. He cries out to God in chapter 1, verse 4, how long will we have to tolerate this evil? When do you intend to take action??? God answers in chapter 2, verse 4, "....the righteous person will live by faith."

I know me. I suspect had I been Habakkuk I would have a spent a very long time complaining and asking how can I trust and be faithful when every evidence of God's presence is so blotted from my vision? But that is not how Habakkuk responds. He says, "Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy." (3:2)

Well there are some keys in his response in how to trust God when circumstances do not engender trust. To hear of God's fame, we need to read of what He has done throughout history. Fortunately, thousands of years of faithful people's record of His goodness is readily available to us in the Bible. Secondly, stand in awe of His deeds. Look around at the miracles of creation, of life, of beauty, of love, and especially of reconciliation and atonement through Jesus. And finally, reflect on His mercy. We deserved wrath. We received mercy.

At the end of the book of Habakkuk, he seems to truly grasp that he can trust God's goodness, even when goodness seems only a distant dream. It is not what God gives us materially that makes Him good. It is that He longs to be in communion with us, to give of Himself. No matter what happens in the world around us, God never ever fails to give us His presence.

Honeybun never leaves my side. Even when she could barely walk, she would heave herself up, and stumble to be near me. I could learn a thing or two about walking with God from my Honeybun.


Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17, 18 NIV)

-save a dog-

Friday, September 13, 2013


I went to my yearly dermatology exam. I had been going every 6 months for a couple of years after a scare with melanoma. Honestly, I owe my life to the astute dermatologist who saw a spot I would never have thought looked suspicious and it turned out to be level 1 melanoma. Caught early, it is very treatable. Wait, and it kills.

So yesterday, I went for my yearly check and she saw a spot she wanted to biopsy. Drat. It was very small, and on my leg, so I figured it would be like a mosquito bite. WRONG.

"OW!!!!" I shrieked as she chopped away, "THAT HURTS!"
She spoke not a word but continued cutting the last bit of my tender flesh and then assured me, "No more hurts."
Had she not saved my life once already, I would have punched her.

This is a very sorry truth of life. Sometimes, it hurts like all get-out, but the pain is absolutely essential for ultimate healing and health. Daily, I am convicted of some "spot" on my character, that left untreated, will become malignant over time. God is famous for cutting those spots out, gently if possible, but the less we attend to it ourselves, the less gentle the treatment. Best to remove those dangerous pieces early, before the tentacles of sin and hardened hearts become so entrenched that only radical surgery is left to save us. Every cutting away of what has become a part of us, however briefly, hurts. Nonetheless, better a moment of pain than an eternity of regret.


For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV)

-save a dog-

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Light in the Darkness

My Destination Imagination (DI) team is off to a great start. They had a brainstorming session yesterday in an attempt to settle on their choice of topic to research for the year's challenge. It is amazing what wild ideas can be generated by four teenagers' collective brains. Quirky does not begin to describe this group...

For example, one member, in daughter, was wearing elf ears to the meeting. Most 16 year olds would probably not be caught dead in elf ears. One day last month she came to me and said, "You know how you told me you would let me get my ears pierced if I wanted? Well can I have elf ears instead?" I put her off, thinking elf ears on a 16 year old would likely be worn once and then add to her pile of dust collectors. When Asherel passed her driving test, she asked again if she could be "rewarded" with elf ears. I was going to take her out to lunch in celebration. As we left the DMV, I asked her if she would like a lunch out now.
"Can I still have my elf ears?" she asked.

She has wanted elf ears for quite a long time now, so I caved. The elf ears came yesterday. They look surprisingly, frighteningly real. I hope no elves were harmed in their production. They match her skin tone perfectly. She glued them to her own ear tips. (It is a temporary glue). They have little silver earrings that cover the line between real and fake ear. Then she tucked her hair behind her ears, and greeted her DI group.

"You're wearing elf ears," said one friend.
Asherel grinned.
After our DI meetings, my team goes to the church youth group together. As they walked out the door, Asherel's friend said, "'re wearing those to youth group?"
Asherel nodded.

There is a lot of sadness in the world, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of painful memories, especially for our country on 9/11 yesterday. I feel sorry for our young people nowadays who will never know the fearless freedom I experienced as a kid. The world was a different place back then. By age 9, I was walking a mile to a horse farm all by myself, leaving in the morning to work and ride at the farm, and returning at dinner time. I had no cell phone, nor did my folks. They didn't wonder if we were being abducted, or hurt by horrible people. They rang the dinner bell at 5 and we came home. It was an innocent time. I would not feel safe letting my daughter do in these days what I was able to do when I was young. I know evil has always existed, but it seems it is accelerating. The Bible warns that the days will come when evil will seem to be winning the Battle. We are cautioned to cling to God and despite the present darkness, to seek and be light to the world.

I loved the innocent joy of a teenager who finds delight in wearing elf ears. I have no doubt, those ears will bring many smiles. And taking those whimsical ears to church where she would be reminded that God is there and God is real struck me as the perfect antidote to the sadness of the day.


Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; (Ecclesiastes 12:1 ESV)

Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me – But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself. (Psalm 49:5, 15 NIVUK)

-save a dog-

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reaping what we Sow

The NC Primaries were yesterday. There were only two issues on my ballot- mayoral candidate, and city council district candidate. I think that in all but the mayoral race, the city council folk in most districts were running unopposed by the other party, thus whoever won the primary would be city council member. Seemed important to vote for that reason alone, but even I, an ardent believer in the privilege, blessing, and duty of voting almost didn't bother. The mayoral candidate of my party was a shoe-in, and the city council candidates not terribly different from each other. I drove on by the polling site, forgetting about it, until I got home.

Oops. I hadn't voted! So I gathered my phone and ID, though they never ask for ID which to me is a crime, and headed off to walk to the polls. It was a pleasant walk, though a hot day. It felt good to have legs that could walk easily for miles without tiring in a country where I could walk in relative safety. I thought how blessed I am to live in America and how much I wanted my country to remain the safe, opportunity rich, and beautiful country I had always known. On the anniversary of 9/11, I am reminded it may not always be. I was suddenly very very glad I had made the effort to go vote. I arrived at the polls where one car, yes ONE, was parked.
Maybe everyone walked to vote, I hoped.

Nope. When I walked in, I was the only one there besides the poll workers.
"Busy day?" I asked.
The workers pointed to my number. 86. We are a large and usually well represented district. Only 86 people had voted and it was already close to 3:00. Maybe there would be an afterwork surge, though I doubted it.

"I fear for our country," I said to the worker.
"So do I," she said.

We will get the country we deserve, I thought sadly as I walked home. I suspect more people were watching soap operas than voting all across our state. Way more. And really, how sad it was that most primary candidates were running with no contenders from the opposing party. How could this be? We reap what we sow. It is true in the physical life and it is true in the spiritual life. If we are lazy and uninvolved in the affairs of the country we live in now, I wonder how ardently we are preparing ourselves for the country where we will spend eternity?

The dispirited poll worker didn't even hand me a sticker as I finished.
"May I take a sticker?" I asked, "Maybe someone will see it and remember to vote."
"YES!" he said, "Take two!"
I wore my 'I Voted' sticker on my black shirt. It really stood out on the dark background.

For whatever a man will have sown, that also shall he reap. For whoever sows in his flesh, from the flesh he shall also reap corruption. But whoever sows in the Spirit, from the Spirit he shall reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8 CPDV)

-save a dog-

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sparkling Portions

I am not especially known for being Suzy Homemaker...though I do try in spits and starts at times. Over the past few weeks, I had been saving some savory Facebook suggestions regarding dishes made with pumpkin. I love pumpkin! I had also saved a homemade window cleaning recipe and tip. So yesterday, in a spurt of domesticity, I went shopping for window squeegees and pumpkin recipe supplies.

The window cleaner is made of vinegar, corn starch, and water. I whipped up a batch of that while my pumpkin cheesecake was in the oven baking. Talk about conflicting scents! I had leftover pumpkin, so ground some grain, and made up a pumpkin bread recipe. I put that in my bread machine and turned it on. I didn't measure or follow a recipe for that one. I just used my intuition. (Take note of that last sentence and plop it up against the first sentence of the blog. This is what is called "foreshadowing" in the literary world.)

I wasn't perhaps quite as careful as I should have been with measurements for my window cleaner either...just dumped a bunch of cornstarch in and hoped it was right. Then I took my homemade cleaner and my new window squeegee and headed to the sunroom. The sunroom is huge, about 23 by 15 feet, and two sides of it are solid windows. I have cleaned those windows before in the past ten years...but it may be telling that I cannot recall when exactly that might have been. So while the scent of pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin bread was obliterated by the stronger scent of vinegar, I cleaned those massive windows with a vengeance. I had to call in the reserves to finish the outside of four of the windows. Part of the super stupendous window cleaning tip was to wipe away streaks with balled up newspaper. I could not believe it, but that actually worked! My arms felt like wet noodles when I finally completed the task.

The pumpkin cheesecake was perfect. It may be my new favorite recipe and something I can trot out when company comes. If they only stay one day, they will think I am an accomplished cook. BUT even more amazing, the windows sparkled! The whole day gave me a feeling of great satisfaction.

However, the longer I sat in the sunroom admiring my work, the more steaks and missed spots I noticed. A thin streak of cornstarch spotted here and there. I guess I should have been more careful with my measurements. As the afternoon sun backlit the windows, I began to fear they were not any cleaner than when I had started. At least the pumpkin bread, still baking smelled perfect. But those streaks on the window.....the dirt and grime was gone but were they really any clearer than when I started? In reality, I knew they must be, but once the bar is raised, it is easier to see where one falls short.

I have noticed this tendency in my walk with God as well. I really was a much more wretched, sinful person before I knew God, but my conscience rarely accused me. Now that I am a believer, every imperfection in my character is glaring and tormenting. Once the bar is raised, it is easier to see where one falls short.

Still, I don't think God wants us to wallow in despair over how far we are from perfection. I think that is a trap of Satan. I think perhaps God would want us to rejoice in how far we have come, and trust Him for the perfecting.

The pumpkin bread was a complete disaster. No self-delusion there. It fell out of the pan in gooey clumps, mingled with dry powder. Oh well. The cheesecake was heavenly. One complete success out of three. So I sat in my sunroom, munching pumpkin cheesecake, as the sun splashed across the newly cleaned windows. I tried very hard to focus on the spots that were perfectly streak free and sparkling.

He did this to dedicate the church to God by his word, after making it clean by washing it in water, in order to present the church to himself in all its beauty — pure and faultless, without spot or wrinkle or any other imperfection. (Ephesians 5:26, 27 GNB)

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: (1 Peter 1:18, 19, 22 KJV)

-save a dog-

Monday, September 9, 2013


I was kayaking when I got a text from a friend.
"Are you kayaking today?" she asked.
"Yes, on the river now," I replied.
"My kayaking buddy bailed. Are you on the Catawba?"
"Yes, how soon can you get here?"
"On my way."

This friend, Danielle is a young whippersnapper, thirty years my junior. She doesn't do placid flatwater kayaking like me. She is a whitewater kayaker, completely outfitted with a kayak that rolls over on a dime, nose plug, and helmet since what she does is downright dangerous. She doesn't have many thrill seeking friends like herself, so she has to rely on old farts like me to keep her safe as she practices her kamikaze stunts.

"You can practice your rolls," I offered when she arrived at the river.
"I don't need practice on my rolls," she said, "I need to practice rapids."
"Can't help you there," I said, gazing at my quiet river.
But then a motor boat went whizzing by, leaving a churning boil of waves in its wake.
"Danielle!" I cried, "Whitewater! Let's go!"
So every time a motorboat would pass, we would shock the captains as we paddled furiously into their roiling wake and got sucked along for a brief, rolling thrill.
Some would clap and cheer as they zoomed on, leaving us tossed and exhilarated.
"Almost as good as the real thing!" I said.

And it really was fun, and just the right amount of thrill for a chicken like me. Danielle was just glad to be in her kayak, and gracious about the less exciting thrill of riding a boat's wake rather than a real class 4 rapids. But then, Danielle admitted that while her rolls to one side were just fine, she could not successfully roll to the other side.
"We're not leaving till you get it then," I said.
And after several failed attempts, she successfully, for the first time this year, rolled over underwater, and back up on her bad side.
"Hooray!" I yelled, catching the victorious moment on my phone video.

It was thrilling- catching a ride on the wake of the motorboats, watching Danielle conquer a skill that had eluded her. I thought about what thrills me, and it is much more modest. I am thrilled when I catch a whiff of God, when I feel like all the peace and faith and love that has eluded me settles for just a moment on my horizon, when even for a brief second, I know that God is there deep within my soul, and nothing, nothing can dislodge him.

You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done. (Psalms 92:4 NLT)

-save a dog-

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Don't Despise the Day of Small Things

I finally got my husband Arvo to go kayak with me, along with Asherel and her friend Josh. Arvo always has some good reason not to accompany us, but this time he did. It all started splendidly! We were docked at a sandbar, swimming and enjoying the lovely view of the shore line decked with herons amidst the reeds. None of us had noticed the kayak drain plug was gone and that the kayak was like a giant sponge, soaking a river-full of water within its hull.

The kids were playing on the kayak, jumping off of it into the river while we "responsible" adults blithely assumed all was well. Then it was time to go, and we noticed the kayak was nearly submerged and weighed a ton. Between Josh and my husband, the kayak was wrestled onto the sandbar and the two of them managed to upend it and drain the water out of the drain hole. That is when we noticed, the drain plug was nowhere to be found. The kayak was drained of half a river weight of water, and then my husband raced as fast as he could back to the dock, hoping he was faster than the water seeping back in through the uncovered drain hole.

I think it might be a long time before I can convince him to go kayaking with me again.

I am never in danger in my kayak. I have my cell phone, and the number of the nearby marina. They have plenty of boats that could come rescue if need be. Still, it was MOST inconvenient to be missing the drain plug, particularly since this particular kayak was very old with a somewhat unusual drain plug size. I would hate to scrap a kayak for want of a $3 drain plug!

Sometimes the smallest things can shipwreck an adventure. The little things matter and yet how many times have you heard someone say, "Don't sweat the little things"? I hate that advice. I always have. Life is made up of little things! If you don't sweat the little things, quite often the big things will collapse too.

I think that is why God tells us "do not despise the day of small things." Small things have a way of adding up. The Israelites were not the "chosen people" of God because they were populous, but indeed were a very small and insignificant race. Jesus was not born in an influential and mighty city, but in the tiny town of Bethlehem. And Jesus did not arrive as a mighty king, bedecked in splendor and majesty, but as a tiny baby in a tiny manger. Yet out of all those "small things", the hope of the entire world's salvation rests.

When we got home, we searched on line until finally we found the proper drain plug. It was such a little thing. We ordered two.

“Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?” (Zechariah 4:10 NIV)

-save a dog-

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Discerning Trust

With the kids back in school, the river is much quieter. I had been up very early, brought Asherel to her class, and then to her driving test (which she passed!), and had a free hour to dash off to kayak. The turtles seem to know when school is back in session. They lounge about on the logs a little less fearfully, and I came very close to several before they decided to submerge. However, one very large turtle sunning on a log had his eyes closed as I crept up to him. I knew as soon as he heard my oars, however quietly I lay them in the water, he would open his eyes and plunk into the river. Slowly his eyes opened as I approached. Three feet away- he still sat on the log watching me. Two feet away- he still sat on the log watching me. One foot away- he turned his snakelike neck and looked at me. I looked at him. Neither of us moved. I drifted closer and closer, amazed at the beauty of the subtle lines and patterns and colors on his shell and body that one can't see from further away. I could have reached out and touched him.

Finally, I slowly edged on upstream. He watched me go, and then his eyes drifted closed again. That is one trusting turtle! I know people that would have grabbed him and made soup. But somehow, he seemed to know I was only greeting him, and would not hurt him. It struck me that he was a very wise turtle. One does not become such a large turtle by being stupid.

Discerning trust. You really can't trust many things, or many people. Evil does exist. There are people who want to use you for the delicious soup they can squeeze out of you! The recent events in Syria have been very disturbing on many levels. Who can we trust in that region? I think we cannot trust anyone there. There are horrific human rights' atrocities by all sides.

We put our trust in so many things that will fail us: Money, health, jobs, youth, beauty, even friends and family. There is one single place of absolute safety for our precious trust: God alone. He alone will not fail us or forsake us. He alone holds our eternity in His hands.

I circled back to see if I could get a close-up photo of the giant turtle. He eyed me, let me approach again, but as soon as I clicked the picture, he slipped into the river. To grow so large, one must be discerning in who to trust.

I trust God, so I am not afraid of what people can do to me! (Psalms 56:11 ERV)

Even if a whole army surrounds me, I will not be afraid; even if enemies attack me, I will still trust God. I have asked the Lord for one thing; one thing only do I want: to live in the Lord 's house all my life, to marvel there at his goodness, and to ask for his guidance. (Psalms 27:3, 4 GNBDK)

-save a dog-

Friday, September 6, 2013

Goose Control

I was walking around the college campus waiting for Asherel's class to end a couple of days ago. I found a lovely little lake, tree lined, right out the back of the college. The one problem was the sidewalk was marred by green clumps of goose poop. There were geese all over the place. Still, I don't mind geese, and I was enjoying the peaceful serene scene. Suddenly, there was a raucous blast of terrifyingly loud goose noises. It made me nearly jump out of my shoes. It sounded like a very aggressive goose on steroids was going ballistic. However, the geese were all just standing around, looking bored. Then I noticed speakers all along the back wall of the college. The speakers were blasting aggressive goose noises, I presume to frighten away the geese and their poop. From what I could tell, it wasn't working.

I had also noticed several dog cutouts scattered about the grounds. Some were even on springs, so that the breeze could make them bob and look real. The geese were quietly chomping grass, and pooping, right next to the bobbing dogs. So much for the attempts of our higher education system to deal with this problem. I wondered if Asherel was getting her money's worth here.... (actually, since it is public funded dual enrollment for qualified high schoolers, it is free).

The geese, in the face of fake predators, were completely under-awed. I was quite astounded by the lengths to which the college was going to make the geese feel threatened, and all to no avail. I wondered if anyone was collecting data to show that perhaps their money could be diverted to some more useful project, like reducing the cost of a single math book from $200 to something halfway less likely to cause brain hemorrhage. This was, in my mind, a clear-cut case of distorted priorities.

And really, the college is not alone in distorted priorities. I would hazard to say that most of us have our priorities skewed. I suspect most of us are constructing elaborate defenses against inconsequential enemies while the real war we should be fighting is ignored. There is a cosmic battle going on right now, in every one of us, for our souls. Evil is a living and voracious enemy, and it loves for us to be diverted by the silly preoccupations of our distracted hearts. I think every choice we make is a skirmish in the war of Good and Evil. The battle belongs to The Lord and if we are not trusting in His armor, putting our faith in His strength...we are dog statues, bouncing on springs while our enemy laughs at us. I think every battle we fight on our own power is like blasting fake goose taunts at geese who know better.
For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me. So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God in my inner being. But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!.... (Romans 7:19-25 NET)

The Lord deserves praise! Day after day he carries our burden, the God who delivers us. (Selah) Our God is a God who delivers; the Lord, the sovereign Lord, can rescue from death. Indeed God strikes the heads of his enemies, the hairy foreheads of those who persist in rebellion. (Psalms 68:19-21 NET)

-save a dog-

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Nature of Fear

I met with a friend who was willing to help me understand Microsoft Word better. The book I am editing is a "Word document", and I am very computer un-savy. Besides that, my document was composed on an iPad using a "Pages" word processing program, and then converted to a Word document to send to my laptop for editing. In the process, most of the document converted just fine, but there are some codes in Pages that apparently Word just doesn't quite understand. It is sort of like trying to understand what a parrot is saying when he is imitating human language...sometimes it comes out as "Polly haunts a slacker". Close, but not quite right, and if you aren't accustomed to talking with Parrots, sometimes it is impossible to comprehend.

For example, I had a line of asterisks at the bottom of two of my pages that I could not delete. It was like they were possessed. I could click on the text above the line of asterisks or below the line of asterisks, and easily delete those...but could not click *on* the line of asterisks themselves. I could delete the entire document, and still, that haunted line of asterisks remained. Filled with fear that I would ruin everything trying to correct that one thing, I gave up. The book would just have to be published with those strange lines of asterisks that I hadn't asked to be there, and didn't want to be there, but was too ignorant and fearful to remove.

Well my friend Brian is a computer genius. He could format a word document while hanging upside down with his eyes closed and his wrists bound together. He is a consummate teacher and loves what computers can do, and wished very much to show me that I should no longer be fearful and repulsed by Microsoft Word. For two hours, he showed me amazing things, miraculous things, things one just cannot believe an inanimate object could manage. Half of the problems of my document were wiped away with a single key stroke! He knew instantly what the haunted asterisks were, and knew just how to solve the problem of deleting them. And then he urged me, all by myself despite fear and trembling, to hit the key that removed the second haunted line of asterisks.
And I did it! All by myself! Praise God! (and Brian!)

Of course, when he first started to mess around with the book that I have been laboring over for years, I sweetly warned him, "Remember, if you hurt this document, I will have to torch your home."
"It is saved," he assured me, "Any changes I make, if we don't like them, we shut the program, and it will revert to your saved document."
"Ok, but I am scared...." I whimpered.
He looked surprised, "Don't be scared! Look we will make a copy to play with so you don't have to be nervous."

And while I was on pins and needles the whole time wondering if my document would survive, I needn't have been. Brian is expert, and not only improved my document but showed me how to do many wonderful improvements myself. He told me often over the two hours that the very best way to learn to do this was to practice, learn the key shortcuts, play with the program. I told him I was always so afraid to do anything for fear of losing the whole document. He patiently showed me there are ways to insure that doesn't happen.

Later, I thought about not only all I had learned about Microsoft Word, but also about the nature of fear. Fear quite often arises out of what we don't understand or the unfamiliar. I remember the first time I kayaked, I was terrified. The boat rocked in such an unfamiliar way, I was certain I would be dumped in the river. With experience, I learned that kayaks rock, but it is very hard to tip over a flat water kayak. Had I succumbed to my fears, I would never have taken up one of my favorite things to do in the whole wide world.

The Bible is giving important advice when it warns us that God has not given us a spirit of fear. It may be an inconsequential thing, overcoming the fear of word processing programs, but the underlying lesson is important. There are certainly legitimate things to fear, but fear can be a tool of Satan that keeps us from doing what we should be doing to better ourselves, better the world, and better our Word documents.


For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7 NKJV)

-save a dog-

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What Charcoal Drawing Can Teach Us

Yesterday, I was working with Asherel on the joys of charcoal drawing. She was not nearly as overjoyed as I was, and after half an hour, decided she was done with the joys of charcoal drawing. However I worked on for another hour because I just love to draw, and charcoal is a very forgiving medium. It is easily erased, and instantly creates interesting tones, shadows, and highlights. The subject matter didn't matter at was just plain fun seeing what I could do with charcoal.

However, I think I am a dismal failure in trying to convey that exploring the possibilities of a medium is more important sometimes than the subject. Asherel had no interest in drawing something that she wasn't particularly excited about drawing, and it didn't matter that the medium itself was amazing and tantalizing.

I heard a snippet from a speech by Martin Luther King a few days ago. I can't quote it verbatim, but essentially, he said that no job should be beneath us. Whatever on earth we are given to do, do it wholeheartedly to the best of our ability. If you are street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be. That is sort of what I was trying to teach, however poorly, to Asherel about charcoal.

And I think it has biblical validity as well. In all our hands find to do, we are to do with all our heart as for The Lord, and not for men. Proverbs 31 even tells us that our works praise us! There is intrinsic value in doing our best, no matter what is set before us. I think it is perhaps a mistake to wait for "inspiration" or even inclination. What is set before us is our task, and we should do it with wholehearted abandon. I think perhaps we should spend less time seeking to do only what we love, and more time loving what we do. There is a difference, and I think understanding that holds a key to contentment.


They solemnly agreed to seek the Lord God of their ancestors with their whole heart and being. (2 Chronicles 15:12 NET)

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. Give her the reward of her labor, and let her works praise her at the city gates. (Proverbs 31:30, 31 HCSB)

-save a dog-

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Abundant Life

The fog had not yet lifted when I went to the river yesterday. I wanted to beat the heat and the crowds. It was beautiful. Almost no current, still, and muffled in the fog. I glided along the shore among kingfishers, turtles, Osprey, and herons. A few fishermen were out, but otherwise I had the lake to myself.

Many trees have been uprooted along the shore with the heavy rains this summer. I saw one dead stump poking out of the water, and miraculously, rising off the stump was a vibrant living branch. The stump was half rotted. How on earth had that beautiful living tree managed to erupt from such a damaged base? And it was not just a twig or two with a few drooping leaves; it was a little tree bursting and overflowing with new leaves, catching the first sparkles of sun glinting through the fog.

Nature is so replete with symbols of God's provision and salvation. Out of the most wretched, troubled, despicable, hell-bent past, He can restore abundant life. Out of death, life is reborn. Overflowing, magnificent, profuse life.


They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. (Psalm 36:8 ESV)

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord — and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:1-9 NIV)

-save a dog-