Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Stunningly Exquisite Evidence of God and the Birth of an Eagle

I have been watching Harriet the eagle sit on her eggs since Tuesday when egg #1 was predicted to hatch. While I have worked on my manuscript by using a split screen on my computer, Harriet on one side, my work on the other, I have been glued to the eagle saga for five days now.

On Thursday, I saw the first "PIP" or small hole in the egg occur. The moderator of the eagle CAM site confirmed it later, and I saw it happen live!!! (Well, live on the webcam.)  Sister Amy and I have been spotting each other. When she goes on a walk or can't watch the live feed, I text her if I see any nest activity. She does the same for me. Yesterday, Amy was on a walk when the pip expanded. Harriet stood up, nudged the egg and a clear view of the egg tooth was even visible!!! I snapped some screenshots, and texted Amy four times.
look closely. You can see the egg tooth
"Egg! Egg! Get on the web cam!!!!!!!"
When she didn't respond, I called her.
"I'm out driving," she said, "I'll pull into McDonalds."
"HURRY!!!!" I urged.

You don't usually have extended chances to glimpse the egg. Harriet is a savvy mama and knows that she must keep her egg warm, so she only checks it briefly. She also knows she has a long wait. The hatching process for an eaglet takes one to two days! That means if this little eaglet is going to make it out alive, he should break out by 2:30 today. Here is the webcam site if you are intrigued: http://www.dickpritchettrealestate.com/eagle-feed.html#

Amy made it to McDonalds and switched on her phone to view the webcam just in time to see Harriet settle back on her egg. However, Harriet was anxious. She fiddled with the nest, panted, and shifted. Amy texted me continually, urging Harriet to stand so she could see the egg. She even texted her husband to come join her at McDonalds on his way home from work to see the hole in the egg expand.

Finally, Harriet complied. She stood up and not only did we get to see the egg, but even downy feathers through the hole. My screen shot doesn't show that millisecond of joy, but it is in my memory banks!

You can even hear the little fellow peep! I haven't heard that yet, but other viewers on the webcam have reported it, and Amy heard it peep.

Amy got a coffee at McD's and settled down to watch for the next hour. It wasn't quite as much fun as her sitting beside me, but it was close. We kept up a steady stream of excited texts back and forth. It was excruciating watching the little hole slowly expand.

"Why doesn't she help him?" I asked.

Amy quickly sent some expert discussion from the internet on this very issue. The first pip in the egg allows Oxygen to enter the egg. The eaglet takes its first breath. As the O2 and CO2 levels change inside the egg, different parts of the eaglet instinctively are activated, which is what contributes to the hatching. Should anyone interfere with that finely tuned process, it is likely to cause more harm than good. How does Harriet know? How does the chick know? How could such an exquisitely orchestrated event where all parts must come into play perfectly evolve randomly over time by chance?

It could not.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.

They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.

Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. 
Psalm 91: 1-4

God is OBVIOUS in His creation...thus all are without excuse if they miss it.

since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Romans 1: 19-20 

From the intricate and impossibly complex design of the building block of all life, DNA, to the interrelated parts and irreducible complexity of the mammalian eye, to the exquisite timing of the eaglet hatching, God's plan, infinite intelligence, and glory is declared.
 
The mothers at the abortion center who insist what they carry in their womb is not life, not human, not a distinct and separate body created with purpose by a miraculous designer are deluded and blind. We choose to disbelieve, or to disobey God. No one can claim He has not provided enough evidence to make the leap of faith. 

This morning, I was up at 5 a.m., and quickly switched on the webcam. Harriet was asleep. She woke briefly, preened, and then resumed sleeping. i worked on this blog with my phone switched on to the webcam right beside me, volume turned up so I can hear the little peep of new life. What a glorious blessed sound, a baby speaking to its mama for the first time.

Meanwhile, now Harriet is awake. I am enthralled with the stunning portrayal of God's beautiful design in the simple event of an egg hatching. I have to go now, and cheer this little baby and devoted, patient mama on! 


After I published this blog, I saw the baby hatch!!!!!! Every second of it!!!! Glory to God!!!!!!! And here is one of the most beautiful parts of the whole thing: FIRST, before she stood up to see her baby, she called her mate. He came, and they viewed their newborn baby for the first time together.









Friday, December 30, 2016

More Lessons from Nesting Eagles



I went to Physical Therapy where my therapist seems to feel it is time to stretch me further than my frozen shoulder thinks is possible. I know she wants what is best for me, but it sure doesn't always feel that way. I was pretty achy when I left therapy. I usually chat with her the whole time to keep my mind off of how much it HURTS.

So I told her for the past three days I have been glued to my computer watching an eagle sit on her eggs.

"I think you need your granddog back," she told me. ( I had a glorious Christmas week dogsitting my gorgeous husky granddog, Ragnar and thus spent a lot of our sessions telling her about him.)
"I know...but really, it is surprisingly fascinating. The first egg was supposed to hatch Tuesday, so I thought I'd devote a half hour to watching..."
"And half an hour became three days?" my PT said, looking askance at me.
"Right. I mean, after I'd invested all that time, how could I give up now? I'm going to be really upset if the eaglet hatches while I am here. OUCH!"

Anyway, the eaglet is still in its egg. I spent the entire day with a split screen on my computer so I could edit my book while watching Harriet, the mama eagle on the live cam. I don't want you to think I was doing NOTHING but watching an egg all day.

The egg definitely has a crack in it, but the chick doesn't seem in any hurry to expand that crack. The crack appeared around 2 p.m. yesterday. I was hesitant to even go on my afternoon walk. Then I researched how long it takes an eaglet to finally fully hatch. It can take a full day.

I am here to tell you they are wrong, unless by full day they mean literally 24 hours. I instantly switched to my live stream eagle cam on my computer as soon as I awoke this morning at 6 a.m.  The mama eagle had her head tucked in her back feathers sound asleep. We all know if she had a new baby, she would NOT be sleeping. She awoke at 6:30, in no big hurry to check her egg. She preened a little, but remained sitting quietly on her eggs despite how eager I was to get a close up of the hatching egg. Then she went back to sleep!!!! She awoke again around 6:45, and began calling to daddy eagle to come take his turn on the nest.

My sister, Amy is similarly entranced. We texted back and forth all day yesterday.
"The eagle just stood up!"
"Is the egg cracked?"
"YES!!!!"
"Oh no, I have to go out with my daughter and grandkids...I'm going to miss it."
"I'll text you if it looks like the eaglet is coming."

There was already one heartbreaking moment. When the mama eagle gets weary of sitting on her eggs, she calls to the daddy eagle. His name is M15, denoting he bonded with Harriet in 2015 after the death of her first love, Ozzie. Anyway, Harriet screeched several times, looking around. This is the cue for M15 to swoop in and relieve her so she can cool off, stretch her wings, get a drink, maybe a quick trip to the hair dresser. (Oh wait, no, she's bald...)

However, she screeched several times. No M15! Several minutes passed and she stood up. The camera zoomed on the eggs. The crack was seen for the first time, and it was slowly widening. Harriet had been calling M15 to tell him their baby was coming!

He didn't show up. She nestled back on the eggs. At least an hour or so passed before M15 arrived. Harriet didn't appear to bear a grudge. She quickly flew off as M15 settled on the eggs.

I looked very carefully to see if I could detect any anger from Harriet. I can tell you I would have been livid. However, there was not a shred of rancor, unless eagle anger is much subtler than my own. While she was waiting so patiently for M15, I wondered what was going through her mind. Did she assume the best? Perhaps he was out of sound range, trying to catch her a lovely dinner. Perhaps he was chasing a predator from the nest. Maybe he was gathering more soft stuffing to pad the new babies' crib.

In sharp contrast, my response to poor Harriet calling M15 to no avail was: what a deadbeat eagle dad.



Interestingly, my Bible reading yesterday included Proverbs 31, about the "noble wife." I don't love reading this one, because I am so ashamed of how ignoble I am in comparison. However, as I read the passage, I thought of Harriet and her quiet acceptance of her mate though he did not immediately provide what she needed. She was obeying a higher power. (In her case, instinct...in my case, God.) She would not abandon her nest and her own responsibilities, but she would not berate her mate for not meeting his.

During the extended time when she sat silently after calling him, and he did not appear, I wondered what would happen if he had died? Would she leave the nest at all? Would she herself die of hunger and thirst before she would abandon her duty to hatch her eggs? I read that sometimes the female is so reluctant to leave her eggs or her young that the male will push her off the nest to insist she take a break and go find herself a nice seafood buffet.

All these thoughts made my eagle watching a deeply spiritual and moral adventure. As I pondered the faithful Harriet's behavior towards her mate and her babies, I thought of how I could improve as a mother and a wife.
******

Proverbs 31: Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Turning Hearts Towards Their Children: The Message from Nesting Eagles



Off and on for the past two days I have been waiting for an eaglet to hatch. You can watch Harriet, the mama eagle by clicking HERE. It is strangely addictive. I had a good bit of editing work to do, but it was hard to turn off the eagle live stream. Most of the time, nothing happens except she sits on her eggs in the hot sun panting.

But then there are thrilling moments when she stands, carefully rolls her eggs over, and then tucks them back beneath her. I cannot get over what a conscientious mother she is. She is clearly in discomfort. Her nest is in Florida, and it must be very hot. Her entire back is heaving as she pants. Gnats crawl in her eyes and hover about her face. She sits there for hours. The daddy eagle relieves her about every five hours. My guess is she dashes immediately to get a drink of water, and maybe catch a juicy mouse.

Then she is right back at it.  Unless the daddy eagle is warming the eggs in her stead, she will not leave her nest till the eggs are hatched. Supposedly this was supposed to happen Tuesday, but it has not yet occurred. Every few minutes, despite my to-do list, I check in with Harriet. Is the baby here yet??

I cannot help but contrast this to what happens every day but Sunday at the abortion center in our city where I volunteer as a pro-life sidewalk counselor. So many mamas lining up each morning. Unlike Harriet, their mission is not to guard their young with their very life and disregard their own comfort and safety to bring their babies into the world. Their goal is to destroy their progeny, and pay for the privilege to do so. Instead of the daddy swooping in to protect and relieve and provide for her during her pregnancy, the daddy stands on the porch, often smoking a cigarette, and joking with the other daddies while his child is meeting a violent end in the back room of the center. Many have coerced a reluctant girlfriend to abort.

Yesterday, I received a text from one of the mamas who initially chose life but sadly returned to the abortion center. We are certain the daddy coerced her to abort, but she had not been truthful about why she had returned to the abortion center. (Told us she was there for a friend.) Clearly she was distraught, and ashamed. I knew she was lying to me, but strangely, she continued to contact me.  I did my best to keep the doors of communication open, and to assure her our ministry would be there for her, that she was not alone.

Fear, shame, and coercion so often dog these women when they return to their homes after choosing life for their babies. It is why a mentorship program and follow-through by Cities4Life and others is so critical. However, the harvest is huge and the workers (and funds!) are few. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the women cannot withstand the pressure from their support systems to abort, and they succumb. It is always deeply grievous to us.

The text from this mama described what sounded like a botched abortion though she told me she "miscarried". Hemorrhaging, a uterine tear, and a trip to the ER ending in surgery. She is staying in touch with me, so I feel God has a role for me yet in her life, but my heart breaks for her. I know she did not want to abort, and now, what devastation! My prayer is that she would be honest with me, and trust me. Then perhaps I can point her to the only true comfort we have in God. I have little doubt that the abortion center will not be reporting this as something they did wrong.

Later in the day, I got another text from another mama I work with. She had just had the 3-D ultrasound provided by Cities4Life donors through a wonderful arrangement with Sweet Pea 3-D Imaging in Concord. We needed to know the gender so we could provide a lavish baby shower with all the baby's needs for the first two years of life. We love to encourage the mamas by providing them with the very realistic 3-D images of their baby, an expense most cannot afford on their own.


That sweet baby will also be born to a mother that will need the help and mentorship of Cities4Life supporters. We are determined not to leave these moms hopeless and alone in terrible circumstances. Our goal is to help them make life-changing choices to pull them out of the spiritual and material mess they find themselves.

(Would you like to help us? Right now a generous businessman has offered matching funds to donations through December 31. Go to  https://connect.egiving.com/charlotte-nc/charlotte-cities4life for information.)

As the day turned to night, I watched the daddy eagle swoop in to the nest. Mama stood up wearily, and hopped to the edge of the enormous nest. The daddy stood over the eggs, gently pushed them under his warm breast, and settled onto them. The camera followed the mama eagle as she stretched her wings and flew off into the distance.

How necessary the mother and father are! How critical an intact family is in raising young! How important self-sacrifice is in healthy, abundant life. So many lessons that even the birds can teach us.
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2 Corinthians 12:14 

Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.

Malachi 4:6 

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Psalm 127:3 

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

All Good Things Come to an End

Well, the granddog has gone home. Some of him anyway. A lot of him stayed behind in huge balls of fur under every couch and nestled in every corner of the room. I would have been sad, but watch this video of him greeting his mommy and daddy. Who could begrudge him going home with them?

video

When they were still a half hour away, he stood up and began pacing. Then he lay down in front of the front door, and watched. I don't know how he knew they were coming, but he clearly did. When my daughter and son-in-law arrived, I asked how the cruise was.
"Fine."
That was all the talk about the cruise. The next hour was spent regaling all the tales of my time with Ragnar. There is no doubt who had the most fun Christmas!


I made him a special breakfast for his going home party. He was grateful. Before he left, I gave him a biscuit, which he took to the back yard and buried. I think that was his way of telling me he would be back.

Many friends on Facebook were sad yesterday. Family that had gathered were now gone. People returned to work. All that was left was the wrapping paper overflowing the trash bins, and dried pine needles littering the floor.

I vacuumed. As soon as Ragnar and my daughter left, I took down all the Christmas decorations. Then I vacuumed the fur balls, the pine needles, and the dust from a week of doing nothing but playing with a great dog. I did three loads of wash. I pulled all the blankets off the couches which I had placed so Ragnar could sleep on them and feel welcomed in our home.

Something clattered to the floor. A dog biscuit, buried in the couch in the folds of the blanket shaken loose. A little thank you gift from Ragnar for our season of rejoicing together the abundance of God's provision. A Christmas week that had threatened to be lonely had been salvaged.

C.S. Lewis said, "We believe that the sun is in the sky at midday in summer not because we can clearly see the sun (in fact, we cannot) but because we can see everything else."

God's existence is manifest not because I have laid eyes directly on Him, but because His mercy, grace, and love surround me in visible abundance, like Ragnar's drifting tufts of fur. As the families all disperse from their gatherings back to their separate worlds, many are heaving sighs over the impermanence of earthly joy.

All good things on earth do come to an end, but not God.


************

Psalm 90:2 

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Furry Comfort after a Rough Day at the Abortion Center Sidewalks

 All good times must come to an end. Granddog Ragnar returns to my daughter today. I will sure miss him. He is probably the most wonderful puppy I have ever met. I am glad I am related to his mom. I hope she will consider my offer for a date night each week for she and her hubby while the grandfolk sacrifice and dogsit...

Bumper Sticker on Abortive Mom's Car

Meanwhile, I left Ragnar in the care of my husband yesterday, while I went off to speak for the unborn on the sidewalks of our abortion center as I do every Monday. It was a rough day. There were at least five "pro-choice" escorts, whose mission was to keep us away from the abortion-minded mamas.

NONE of the pro-choice folks like me. I am not shy about quoting scripture to support the sanctity of life, pointing out the many verses that indicate we ARE our brothers' keeper and anyone that is involved in the abortion industry is walking a woman to destruction. I speak at length on the microphone about the moral morass of abortion, mentioning often how the pro-choice folks try to shield the mamas from any choice but death to their child. They don't intimidate me at all which irks them. I ignore them when they tell me not to speak to the women briefly in the driveway or not to stop cars in the street. I don't break their rules, but they have no jurisdiction over the streets. I am quick to tell them that.

Anyway, I was crossing the street to stop a car, and an older woman (pro-choice escort) asked me if my children were adopted. (?)  She was the first one of this crew to speak to me. Most try to shout over me, drown me out with music, or ridicule me. I had been talking for an hour on the microphone. Perhaps something I said touched her heart...or ticked her off. I expected some sort of battle.

I told her, "No, my children are not adopted,  but I have the card of a woman who would adopt any child, any race, any time. Do you have a mom who wants to place her baby for adoption?" She told me no. Then she told me she wanted me to know that she was pro-choice, but opposed to abortion. I do not know why she wanted me to know that, but she clearly wanted to distance herself from the stance that abortion was a good thing.

 I entered into a long discussion with her at that point, talking a good bit about the evils of this abortion center, its multiple closures due to "imminent danger to the patients" , the abortionists who have been cited and lost their licenses over sexual misconduct and medical malpractice issues and to this day do not have admitting privileges to area hospitals, the women harmed there, the  video of the abortionist (who was there that very day)  caught on a YouTube video saying he doesn't want to pay taxes for these "ugly black babies" and is glad to abort them...

She was really surprised. She said she hadn't known any of that and would look it up. I gave her several websites to check the facts. She wondered why this clinic wasn't shut down permanently if all that was true. EXACTLY. 

Then I told her about all the lies we know they tell mamas, since the mamas who choose life share with us what happens in that dark place. Lies such as the baby's heart isn't beating yet...but when they come on our mobile ultrasound unit, the heartbeat is strong and clear.  

She then told me she would always be pro-choice, but if all I said was true, she could not support that place. Then she talked about how pro-life people just want to save babies, but don't do anything else. MY FAVORITE PLATFORM. I went on and on AND ON about all Cities4Life does, including the recent experiences of all the mamas I actively work with receiving Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas gifts, help with apartment furnishings, cars, assistance with food and utilities, baby supplies, mentoring, etc. from our ministry. I said our mission was literally to change the culture such that abortion was not only abolished, but unthinkable. Our group was dedicated to mentoring and being role models to women who frankly quite often have very few good ones. I told her some had told me NO ONE had ever talked to them about sexual abstinence outside of marriage.

 "Or at least birth control," the woman said.
"Well frankly," I said,  "We have lost the willingness or belief that anyone can exercise self-control, and should be taught it. That is the result." I pointed to the parking lot which was overflowing with at least 60 cars there with mamas determined to abort their children.

Surprisingly...she nodded and agreed with me!

 She again said that the list of what Cities4Life does was not at all what she had believed to be true of pro-lifers. She was very nice, and in the end shook my hand, and told me it had been nice talking with me. I hope she does her research and we don't see her back there. Share truth and hope one person at a time...

The bumper sticker in the photo above was on one of the cars of an abortion-minded mama. You can bet that was cause for me to make some important points over the microphone. I felt that bumper sticker was the perfect name for the abortion center, and should be on a banner strung across the driveway. Morally flexible. What I find inconceivable is that someone is proud of that stance....or more accurately, lack of a stance.

Two women chose life for their babies, but the place was as busy as I have ever seen it. A record number of babies were killed yesterday. We were a little short of pro-life counselors, and I was on the microphone a long, long time while one of the most vocal pro-choice escorts stood right beside me with a continual banter challenging my every word. It was not easy to drown his voice out of my head, and listen to the Holy Spirit and speak coherent words of what I know to be true. I was exhausted when it was time to head home.

Fortunately, Ragnar was his usual wonderful self and we rested on the couch together. I stroked his soft fur and praised God for peace in the storm, furry sweet-natured peace. I sure am gonna miss my granddog.






***************

Ephesians 4:15 

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; ...

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Monday, December 26, 2016

God Can Even Use Jerks - More Lessons From a Dog

I am sure glad Ragnar, the granddog, was with us this Christmas. Not only was it the first Christmas without any kids home, but just as I pulled the turkey out of the oven, the hubster reeled out of the bedroom, said he was very sick, and there would be no Christmas dinner for him.

Feeling a little sorry for myself, I made a plate of the luscious Christmas feast, and sat down at the dining room table alone. As I was eating, I reread a series of text messages I had exchanged with the boyfriend of one of the moms I work with who chose life over abortion. I have been friends with this couple for a year and a half now, and through Cities4Life have helped them quite a bit. However, while they claim to want to follow God, there are some pretty major areas they are not. Lately, it has been on my heart to discuss that more strongly with them because there are struggling, and I believe these particular struggles are directly related to how obediently they are walking with God.

Surprisingly, the young man listened to my strong words, and in the end thanked me. During the course of our exchange, he mentioned that there are times they don't eat because there is no money for food. I was determined to make my spiritual point, and glossed over that section.

However, now as I ate my sumptuous Christmas feast, that portion of our discussion returned to me. It suddenly occurred to me that they might not have food. I texted him instantly to ask if they had a Christmas dinner.

Not really.

All the stores are closed on Christmas. I could not run out and buy them food. I went to my freezer. There was enough there for a very good Christmas meal, including a pecan pie and some awesome appetizers. I didn't even finish my meal. Instead, I started filling a plastic bag with all the contents of my freezer. Sick hubby poked his head out and asked what I was up to. When I explained, he told me he'd received a Grocery Store gift card at work, and would add that to my collection.

Next I went to my pantry, throwing staples in from our overflowing abundance. I felt like crying. Here I had been on my self-righteous high horse about following God and this little family had nothing to eat. I had been near tears over poor pitiful me having to eat my Christmas feast alone when this little family had no Christmas feast at all.

As I drove, I thought about how God is forever challenging me, and I am forever falling short.  The words I spoke to the young father were true, and something he needed to hear...but did I have to do it on Christmas???? Jerk.

The little family greeted me as though I were Santa Claus. They hugged me, and let me cuddle the little baby that once they had considered aborting. The child is loved now beyond measure. I came bearing more gifts than just the food. Another wonderful friend, Valerie, had heard of the mama's need of a computer, and sent me one in the mail. I gave that to the mama, and she was overjoyed. Now she could finish a resume, and try to find work that would help them out of their difficult situation.

When I returned home, Ragnar was waiting for me. Hubby was still sleeping. Ragnar sensed I needed some love, and he gladly obliged.


It's okay, he told me. In the end, you did the right thing. You'll learn. I did. Notice I haven't pooped in your house even once since that first night and that wasn't my fault.
*********
http://charlotte.cities4life.org/
Matching grants for donations till Dec. 31.
*********

Nehemiah 8:10New International Version (NIV)

10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Romans 5:20 

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas - Ongoing Lessons from a Dog About God


Merry Christmas!
Ragnar, the Granddog was back to his normal self after I stopped the long runs with him that had been ill-advised, according to my husky expert.

video

Instead, his full puppy crazy came back. When I sat beside him on the couch to cuddle, he wanted to play. Despite being an energetic puppy who is so large with such strong teeth that he could easily kill me, when he plays, he mouths me, and closes his teeth around my arm just enough that he doesn't hurt me. It is truly astonishing, the restraint of his full strength because he loves me.

What a perfect illustration of God! Almighty God, creator of the universe, could certainly destroy us with His little pinky. No power is mightier than God, yet He withholds His power purposely; He restrains the strength that could so easily crush us. In fact, He goes a step further. He takes on human form in the most vulnerable, weakened state possible as a newborn child in camaraderie of the people He loves inexplicably. Then He who could annihilate us instead offers us Himself, the gift of His sacrifice that we might be absolved of our sin and enter eternity washed in His blood, our scarlet sins not made even more red, but pure and white. An amazing picture of miraculous grace.

Isaiah 1: 18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Merry Christmas. May the greatest gift ever offered fill your heart with the truth, the knowledge, the comfort, and the peace of God.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Taking Rest and Warnings Seriously With the Help of a Dog

This is what greeted me at 5 a.m. yesterday morning, when I thought I heard a noise that sounded suspiciously like a dog that was not locked away in his crate.

Who me? Why didn't you tell me you objected to me plopping my hard heavy bone down on the wood floor at 3 a.m.? 3 a.m. is party time at our house. Yes, I know I am supposed to be in my crate, but I can explain... What's that...you're wondering about the gift I left you on the rug? What did you expect? Someone closed the dog door. I'm smart, but without opposable thumbs, the dog door is hard to open.

I had thought this highly intelligent dog had managed to open his crate door but that was not the case. Later I learned that he was apparently sleeping so soundly on the couch that my soft-hearted husband couldn't bear to disturb him to put him in his crate. Hubby didn't want Ragnar to escape while we slept, so closed the dog door. ALL good intentions.


We all make mistakes. For example, watch this video and you tell me if you would have decided yesterday morning (as I did) that another 6-mile run was in order for Ragnar.

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He could not WAIT to run. Now, he was slower than the run on day one, and we didn't run as far...more like 5.75 miles, and then a 1.5 mile cool down. However, afterwards, my sister Amy sent me a text with a link to a "husky chat group" that said huskies under a year old should not be run every day, and certainly not six miles. Apparently their growth plates are not fully formed yet, and the pounding from running at that age is not good for them.

Uh-oh.

The entire rest of the day, this is what Ragnar did:










After reading Amy's text, and watching Ragnar's comatose state all day, I consulted with my husky expert friend, Danielle. She concurred with my sister's text. Only run him a mile every other day. Walks were fine, but running would not be a great idea for a dog under a year old. At least he has no interest in chewing up my house.

Of course, he might not be exhausted from running. He could be exhausted from being up in the wee hours of the morning clunking his bone on the floor and pooping on the rug. Anyway about it, I won't run him today. We will take a leisurely walk.

On a more serious note, God as always was providentially watching over me. Yesterday, I was running Ragnar (which now I feel terrible about...) when  a woman shouted from the curb, "Be careful!"
"Why?" I asked, wondering if she knew something about huskies I didn't.
"A woman from this neighborhood has been missing for four days. Her husband is frantic."
I don't watch the news so I had known nothing about this. I thanked her for the warning, and ran on. That neighborhood adjoins ours. We ended our run as we entered my neighborhood, and were on our cool-down walk when a black Mercedes pulled up next to me.


A man rolled down his window, and with what sounded like an Indian accent said, "Hello, may I offer you a cup of coffee?"
My radar was instantly up. Having just been warned by the woman on the curb, I stepped further from the car, and said, "No."
I was really glad I had the huge Ragnar with me, though he would not attack a soul. The man in the car didn't know that.
He rolled the window up and drove into a cul-de-sac to the right. I memorized the license plate and quickly wrote it on the reminder app of my phone.
He sat in the cul-de-sac watching me for a moment, pulled out, and turned back down the road the way he had come. I think it is possible he had followed me from that other neighborhood.

Anyway, I called the police saying it was at best "strange, and suspicious." They took the tag number and wrote down my description and said they would send a cruiser right away to patrol the area.

I have no idea if I would have been in danger without Ragnar. I do carry mace with me at all times. However, I felt like God had been watching over me, and it was God who had ignited my instincts that I needed to memorize the license plate and call the police.

Maybe Ragnar and I were supposed to be on that run to be able to help track down a bad man. Still, today no running.

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Ezekiel 33:6-7 

But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand. “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Secret To a Good Dog and Unexpected Joy

Ragnar and I complete a 10k run and 2 mile cool-down walk
On our first full day dog-sitting our granddog, I started us off with a long run. I figured that an energetic, young puppy could do a lot of damage unless he was exhausted. I intended to exhaust him.
Here we are starting off on our run.

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As you can see, he is full of energy, tugging for all he's worth and squirrels are like crack cocaine to him. He cannot resist them. So, I ran faster. After mile one, here he is.

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He is still pretty energetic, and squirrels still are a definite danger to my frozen shoulder and healing surgical site. However, he is panting harder, and I am noticing a distinct loosening on the pull of the leash. We move on to mile 3.

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I am just hitting my stride, as he is beginning to realize that you don't stay in shape for long distance running if all you do is sprint after squirrels. By Mile 4, he is not as certain as he was early on that squirrels are worth any effort anymore.

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By Mile 5, he is POSITIVE squirrels are not worthy of any effort, and he is beginning to wonder when his real owners will be returning. The ones that like to sit on couches. He sure hopes it is before Mile 6.

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Mile 5 is coming to a close, and the human clamped to his leash seems to be showing no sign of stopping anytime soon. He is now dragging behind almost as heartily as he was pulling ahead at the beginning of this saga. He hears that human say something about, "Just a little further and we will have finished a 10k." He doesn't know what that is, but should he hear those words again as she approaches with a leash, he will know to skedaddle.

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Then, after mile 6, we did a cool down walk. I let him sniff as much as he wanted during this part of our jaunt together. He glanced at squirrels, but didn't seem very interested in chasing them anymore.

We walked into the house. First he raced to the water bowl, and drained half of it. Then, immediately he did this:


I rewarded him by mixing chunks of feta cheese in his dry kibble. The bowl of dry kibble had evoked little interest.


That was not the case once the feta cheese spiced up his meal. Maybe this gig is not so terrible after all....


After his long nap, he sat on the top of the stairs off the back deck, surveying his kingdom.


Wonder of wonders, there are dogs in all sides of the fenced back yard, and all of them are converging on a noisy corner.

It took him a little while to dare to approach all those yappers.


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But finally, he worked up the courage, and found out that they were indeed noisy, but friendly. He spent the next hour playing in the corner with them, and thinking it was maybe okay if his real owners enjoyed a few more days away.

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My two dear dogs died within a few months of each other, both shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer. Frankly, I had more pressing things to deal with than considering how much I missed my dogs. Strangely, I find myself weeping about their absence now...months later. I guess I just didn't have the emotional energy to fully mourn them then.

I am not sure I want to deal with the stress and responsibility of a dog anymore...but I have to say, God has given me  unexpected joy with this pup during my first Christmas with no kids coming home.


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Psalm 43:3-5 

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.