Fur Babies

My husband and I have two dogs…Joe Bear and Dia. I used to be a cat person, but man…allergies developed into asthma and that was the end of me being a cat person. I still love them. Wish I could have a few. But I have this longing to breathe without a wheeze, soooo…no cats.

But Joe Bear and Dia are pretty great fur babies. I guess my big old Joe is about 100 years old in dog years. He is a 14 year old Newfidor–Newfoundland/Black Lab mix. Yes. He is old. Yes, he is big. And, yes, he sheds his undercoat twice each year. When I say it blows…it really does. He reminds me of the bison and buffalo with their fur hanging off their bodies.

Dia is crazy. She is a 7 year old Golden Cockeretriever…I know. I made that word up. While she is a very pretty dog, she is just a wee bit hyper still. She loves me but views just about everyone who comes to our house as a threat to me…

My big old boy has been failing for the last 2 years. These big dogs don’t usually live to be as old as he is, and we know that we will have to make that hard decision pretty soon. If it was just arthritis, that would be doable. Even his humongous cataracts aren’t a problem. But it seems that he has some kind of serious problem now that is causing him a lot of discomfort, like bad headaches. He presses his head against my leg and looks at me with a sad, puppy dog face. I massage his head, and eventually he seems to feel a little better, but I know that he is in pain. As I sit here writing this, he is hugging his head with his paws and I know he is hurting.

So here I sit, trying to decide how to know when it is unfair to keep him living through the pain. How do I know if I am doing the right thing? If I were failing, I wouldn’t want someone to put me down. I would want to fight to the end.

This is the struggle of today. Pretty soon, I am going to be bawling and wondering if I made the right decision and missing his sweet personality. My tender Bear. I don’t think I have the heart to go through this again.

snowfall joe

Joe Bear: Why’d you make me come inside???

 

I hate snakes…

I have this terrible fear of snakes. It isn’t just a casual fear of snakes…it is more like a life and death fear.

When I was a little girl, I would have nightmares about snakes…if I would leave my arm dangling over the side of the bed, I would trigger a dream that a snake bit me and was holding onto my arm…or leg, depending on which limb wasn’t safely tucked under the blankets.

As I got older, my fear did not subside. I had never even seen a snake, except at the zoo. And worms didn’t bother me at all. Neither did spiders, bugs, mice, rats…Nothing but those evil, slithering reptiles.

My parents sent me to Southern California to attend college. I saw NO snakes.

I met my husband in college, we got married and then moved to the desert. Still no snakes.

Then we moved to the rainforest in Ecuador. We lived in the heart of the jungle…I saw no snakes. I was always on my guard, though. And other people saw them…but I never did, in all the four years we lived in that country. I admit that I was a reluctant river swimmer. When I swam in the ocean and was stung by jelly fish…no problem.

I remember when the movie, Anaconda, was released. I never saw it. When we watched Indiana Jones…I closed my eyes…No educational special features on snakes. Never.

In our previous home…I was confronted by two snakes. Of course, when I was home alone…I managed to sever their heads and defend my territory. You might think that I had, therefore, conquered my fear and moved on…HA!!!

Imagine my dismay when we moved out of the house and my husband informed me that he had found a snake IN MY SEWING THINGS INSIDE MY SEWING ROOM and never told me…How close had I come to grabbing a snake out of the box of fabric???

Those dreams are always just at the edge of my consciousness when I go to bed. And my house is at the edge of a creek with tall grasses and overgrowth…you know, perfect for all sorts of creepy crawlers. But in the six years we have lived here, I have been able to avoid the snakes…maybe it’s the dogs, or the many other types of wildlife we have living around us…

But yesterday, I saw a video of an amazingly horrifying LARGE snake…and I couldn’t tear my eyes away. I wanted to, desperately, but I just couldn’t do it.

As I watched the short clip, many different thoughts came and went. The Bible talks about snakes…even right off the bat in Genesis 3 when Satan deceives Eve and she eats of the forbidden tree then shares it with Adam. Part of the story is well-known and commonly referenced…the bad apple, forbidden fruit…but there is also a reference to Jesus Christ in what God says to the serpent as he is cursed…

“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Jesus is the descendant of the woman’s seed. This prophetic verse says that Jesus will bruise (fatally) the serpent on the head…and the serpent would bruise Jesus on the heel.

My dad used to tell a true story about an older woman who lived in the country alone. There were a lot of snakes on the property, so when she left her house, she carried a metal pipe with her. Often, she would return home to find a poisonous snake sunning himself on her concrete step. She would use her pipe and crush the snake’s head, killing it. Unless she crushed or severed its head, it would live and cause problems in its own defense. Even after it was dead, it took awhile for the snake to quit moving and twisting.

Jesus has already dealt Satan’s death blow…the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was the beginning of the end of Satan…yet still that serpent writhes and twists…Another metaphor for Satan is as a toothless lion…roaring and trying to devour, yet with limited power.

The image of a writhing, headless snake has been almost like a caricature of biblical truth for me…and then a friend posted a video…beware…it is graphic but a wonderful picture of what the Bible states about the wounded serpent–

That snake in the video is dead. But it is still writhing, and it is still deadly. There will soon be an end to its ability to destroy life.

In the same way, there will also come a day when Satan will also stop writhing and no longer be able to destroy life.

Jesus, in His death brought life. He came to slay the destroyer.

I Peter 5:8
Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.

 

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 3:16-18, 36

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God… The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.

I still hate snakes. Dead or alive, I hate them. BUT I now have a pretty clear visual of what effect Satan has now, and what his power will become. I am so thankful that Jesus was victorious over the wound in His heel, and that my hope is now secured for eternity.

What are YOU afraid of?

Froglegs Had a Dream…

Froglegs is growing up. Fast. Way too fast.

The boy is seven now, and tomorrow is his last day of First Grade. I know…such a huge milestone. Do you remember all the things you learned in First Grade? What was the most important thing? For me, it was READING.

And for Froglegs, learning to read has been liberating and validating as the Big Brother.

Sean and Cadance

Somehow reading is a lot more fun when you read to your little brother…do you see a little bit of hero worship here???

Froglegs used to be a little stinker. He still CAN be, but he has adopted a new role…man of the family. Without a dad, he feels a lot of responsibility for his brother and sister. He almost panics when they are out of sight. That is an awful burden for a seven year old. But Froglegs is adamant about watching out for them and making sure that they tow the line on staying safe.

And how he loves his brother and sister…when he isn’t trying to throttle them for something. But somehow, he just needs to let them go to Sunday School without him…seriously, they will be ok.

But the reason I am blogging today is because of his dreams. For a little boy, he has some pretty mature dreams. And that is not really a blessing…

Last week, he had a very bad dream. Not the monster kind, or the zombie kind. No. This dream was very realistic and very bad. He dreamed that his little brother died. I know. What an awful dream, no matter how young or old you might be.

He was moaning and thrashing in his sleep, and breathing really fast. His mom was afraid he was having a seizure, but he woke up and out spilled the description of the bad dream.

My daughter tried to comfort him, but he was not to be comforted until both his little brother and sister were in bed with him.

He told his mom, “Put Dancing Eyes in bed, right next to me, not by the edge. I want to be able to check on him.”

So, all four “slept” the remainder of the night in that not-so-very-big bed…and Froglegs continued to check on Dancing Eyes until morning came.

When Froglegs woke up, he told me about his dream. This Nana gave him an extra big hug and reminded him that there is Someone else who truly watches out for all of them…his Heavenly Father.

Froglegs is learning that even in the absence of his earthly father, he has the perfect Heavenly Father watching out for him. He is omniscient–He knows and understands everything. He is omnipresent–He is everywhere. He is omnipotent–there is no end to His power. Those attributes bring a lot of comfort to a little boy with a big heart with a huge chunk of hurt.

As we discussed his dreams and how much his Heavenly Father loves my dear little Froglegs, he said very softly, “But Nana, I really want a dad.”

And I just hugged my little grandson a little tighter and didn’t say anything else.

Today would be a great day if…

Remember this? Just give it a listen…

Do you have an ear worm now?

Well…that is how this day has been. It just has gone on and on and on…

Even now, it’s still dragging on. This will be one of those nights when I will ask if it’s late enough for me to go to bed. (And there will be a unanimous “Yes” from my family…)

Some days are like that…

Kids that just won’t cooperate…

A calendar that is just too full of “stuff”…

And a whole lot of “holiday cheer”… that really isn’t so cheery…

It is one of those days that a career change comes to mind…RETIREMENT in a seniors only community! Or living off the grid in an RV…

But then I think about it…do I really want to understand shuffleboard? Am I ready for my husband to wear white leather walking shoes? Do I want blue hair? (Actually, my son-in-law has a blue mohawk, so maybe blue hair isn’t so bad???)

But in all honesty, some days are just a huge reminder of the glorious future awaiting me in the presence of my King and Redeemer…far away from the trivial and irritating things that sneak into my day and try to steal my hope for the future and joy for THIS day.

I am hoping that I can correct my course now and try to end the day well…kind of the way I would like to see my life’s course at its end…ending well. Achieving that “well done, good and faithful servant”…

How do YOU handle those not-so-great days?

 

We Are the Champions (at least in our division…)

ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! (ESPN Sports Center photograph)

For all you baseball fans in the world, you have to be stunned at the Cardinals upset over the Nationals last night to send the St. Louis Cardinals to the National League Championship series with the San Francisco Giants.

The Cardinals seem to have that special ability to take a hopeless situation, in which there appears to be NO CHANCE of winning, and turn it into something really special. And last night, our Cardinals did it again! And the hunt for a St. Louis red October is continuing to surge.

I confess I do NOT like “nail biting, cliff hanging, could go either way” situations. I much prefer a sound and solid win, determined early on in the game, followed by an amazing series great defensive plays to assure the win.

Yes, I admit that I am one of those “faint of heart” fans that gets so emotionally engaged that I can’t stand that back and forth dizziness that makes fans go crazy.

Personally, I believe I achieve my sense of craziness without adding “do or die” sporting results into the mix!

But once my victor is determined, I celebrate wholly–loudly, jumping up and down like a wild maniac. And we will decide right now NOT to discuss my reactions to those tough losses. It isn’t pretty.

So last night at midnight, my house was noisy. The neighborhood was noisy. Fireworks were going off all around the city. And this was an Away Game win. I could not wind down to go to sleep. I was struggling to find a great way to alleviate that emotional energy. If I had been AT the game, I would have had a more naturally crazy outlet for self-expression. But, we were not AT the game. And this morning, I am still shaking my head.

Initially, when I sat down just to write it was going to be about the stunning upset of the Washington Nationals, the team with the best baseball record in the regular season of ALL TEAMS, both American and National Leagues. But my thoughts were scattered (normal for me) and my mind was firing on a few extra cylinders. Random images and thoughts were racing through my head.

Out of nowhere came a mental picture, more like a video clip, straight out of Revelation–thousands and thousands of angels and people gathered around the throne of God, cheering and singing because Jesus was crowned the Victor over sin and death.

Revelation 5

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Scroll and the Lamb

…I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll … And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”  And no one … was able to open the scroll … because no one was found worthy… And one of the elders said, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered…”

And … I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain … And he took the scroll … and the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb … And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God …”

I looked, and I heard around the throne … the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

Can you picture a scene like that? It would be like the Cardinals winning the World Series, with all of heaven in attendance and all of creation cheering. In my mind, that is what Heaven will be like…a HUGE Game winning celebration that lasts forever because the final game was won, and the victory is eternal.

The Cardinals have survived the Wild Card playoff game. They have now survived the divisional series. But there are more games to be played. More victories are required for them to be the Champions of Baseball. And even then, that title only lasts until the next season begins. Yes, it is really exciting. But it really pales by comparison when putting it in a balance with Jesus, Victorious Lamb on an Eternal throne.

Another of the random thoughts that whizzed through my head was an old song from the 1980s by Carman. (Where is he now, anyway?) It is a long piece, but it is like the emotional game won last night. All seemed lost for the Cards…the other side was celebrating. And THEN, the Cards surged back to life…spine tingling excitement for one side. Horror and dismay for the other side. Check out The Champion.

I am grateful to be on the side of the Champion…are you?

Say Goodbye to Chippy

Chippy

It’s a sad day at Nana’s house today. Chippy the Chipmunk had a face to face encounter with Día and Joe Bear underneath the bird feeder. Joe Bear was trapped up on the deck and just about ready to lunge down about 15 feet to join his canine friend in her excitement when I stepped outside and opened the gate.

By the time Joe had barreled down the stairs, the little chipmunk was cornered under the downspout. Chippy never had a chance. Día and Joe Bear had him boxed in completely.

While Día was the ultimate in the hunting category this time, she happily delivered up her prize to the much larger and demanding Joe Bear. You would think HE caught the poor little guy, Chippy wasn’t even as big as that hulking bear-dog’s paw.

Joe pranced around the yard as if he was showing his adoring fans what he had accomplished. And then he plopped down to toy with his fatally flawed friend.

Ummm, no, I don’t think so. I started to back Joe into a submissive stance. He reluctantly dropped his prey. But I could tell he was just waiting me out. Ha! As if!

My daughter, who has a mixed hate-love relationship with animals anyway, cannot stand the animal-side of our dogs. You know, they smell like dogs. Act like dogs. Annoy like dogs.

And they protect us from varmints like…Chippy and little birds…And the coyotes, raccoons, foxes and all the other assorted critters that like to wander in for a sneak of food…They are, after all, animals and have animal natures and instincts.

My daughter brought me a container to dispose of the remains, but oh that Joe was not going to let his fun go without a struggle. Oh no. Not for a minute. I bribed him with dog jerky…not much help. Finally I had to lock him up in the house, with the door fully latched. (He knows how to open it.)

Little Chippy sailed away over the creek bank. And Joe knows it. He tried his hardest to leap the fence. But when you are huge like he is, and old, you have about as much chance of leaping over the fence as I do. After all, Joe and I are about the same age…

But, I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that dog will find a way to jump the fence tonight and sniff out Chippy’s final resting place. He is one relentless and stubborn dog. He reminds me of someone…

Hula Hoop Hugs

I never got the hang of the hula hoop. I just couldn’t get my body to figure out when to go left and when to go right. It was actually more of a hazard for me than a jump rope…and if you think about all the ways jumping rope can go wrong…

But the other day I was speaking with my mom. Our little buddy, Froglegs, was having a little sadness in his heart and we couldn’t fix it. He is one of the thousands of children whose “father” can’t be bothered to care for him. And somehow, it is especially hard at the beginning of the school year.

Imagine wanting to be in Cub Scouts without a dad? Or signing up for soccer and no dad to help you practice and cheer for you? What about when you play baseball and you have to play with your “papa” who can’t run as fast anymore?

All those father-son activities are hard enough, but then…where is that “father” when you have serious questions like “Why aren’t you a good dad?” or “Don’t you love me?” or “Why don’t you ever call me?” or “Why did you move so far away from me?”

You see, my little Froglegs has a very tender heart. His little heart has been bloodied far too many times by this man who doesn’t deserve the title of “father.” And my little buddy asks the tough questions and demands honest answers. He can smell a lie or a shifty answer before we can.

So, as my mother and I were talking about the little broken-hearted boy, my mother said, “You give him a special hula hoop hug from his great Nana!”

“A hula hoop hug?” I asked.

“Yes. My arms would wrap around him just like a hula hoop circle.”

I thought about that. A hula hoop hug. That was the best description I could think of to remind that little boy how much we all love him. That no matter who was failing him, he could count on our love wrapping all the way around him.

But then I realized that, in a way, our promise of forever being there is really not true. We are older. We have health problems. Our lives, in reality, are frail and subject to disease and death.

While I cannot promise that we will always be here to offer hula hoop hugs, I CAN promise a greater love, a more steadfast love that will never, ever fail my little Froglegs. There is only one who can offer that eternal love, our Savior.

He promises that He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. He is the Father to the fatherless and the husband to the widow. He is the Friend who is closer than a brother. That Gentle Shepherd and paschal Lamb. And His love is even better than a hula hoop hug.

1 John 3:1-3

J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

3 Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “children of God”—and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. Our heredity on the Godward side is no mere figure of speech—which explains why the world will no more recognise us than it recognised Christ.

Oh, dear children of mine (forgive the affection of an old man!), have you realised it? Here and now we are God’s children. We don’t know what we shall become in the future. We only know that, if reality were to break through, we should reflect his likeness, for we should see him as he really is!

Everyone who has at heart a hope like that keeps himself pure, for he knows how pure Christ is.