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???

 

Life Changes

I haven’t written in what seems like forever. I have gone MIA from the blog for a very long time.

Why? Truly, no good reasons, just life complicated with more life. Somewhere along the way, I just quit writing. I don’t think that was a good thing, either. Writing has a way of clarifying thoughts. Making sense of the non-sensical. Helping to understand the reality through a different mode of reasoning almost.

Superman and I have been living through some very challenging days, months, even years. We have spent nearly 36 years married to each other. That is pretty spectacular–at least I think it is! During the course of those 36 years, we have traveled into some very dark valleys of sorrow only to be lifted up to the heights of light and joy.

This past year has held it all. Some days, I have felt as though I was being held under water and couldn’t push my way to the surface. I found my strength to be so very weak. But then, in that fearful desperation, I felt my heavenly Father reach down and pull me to safety. Too many times I caught myself resting in my own strength rather than resting in HIM.

THAT  is the struggle. Day by day. Moment by moment. Trusting and resting in Him. Especially when you see no way out of the valley and the mountaintop is hidden from view. The mountain is still there. It’s just my view that is hampered.

I am so thankful when the Word of God touches me right where I need it…

2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (Phillips)

 We wish you could see how all this is working out for your benefit, and how the more grace God gives, the more thanksgiving will redound to his glory. This is the reason why we never collapse. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain. For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are really permanent.

2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (ESV)

For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

It is very hard for me to classify my trials as “little troubles” or “momentary affliction”–today these trials may feel as though they are absolutely insurmountable challenges that will push me back under. But if I step back and look at them through HIS eyes and with His lenses, then I see that they truly are light, little, momentary, transitory challenges.

For today, I am going to begin the day with an attempt to have His perspective. To see His plan and trust it. And these verses will be freshly in my heart as a ready encouragement if I begin to falter.

Weeping

Do you ever struggle with you earth-bound view in light of an eternal perspective?

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?

Being Afraid…

I joke that I am old. It drives my middle child (who is 30) nuts. She says I want to look like I am fifty. I respond by saying I am 54, so what’s the big deal?

She hates that I don’t cover up my gray hair. I laugh and tell her it’s my glitter! My silver hairs were mostly earned because of her, and she knows it. And when I look at those streaks of silver, I am reminded of the lessons I have learned earning those stripes. Like military badges of honor, that is how I look at those graying hairs.

But the truth is that I am getting older and have arrived at that stage called middle age—and I wonder how did I get here? I can tell by some of my scars that it has been a rocky road at times. There are broken bones that didn’t heal well…stitches that left their marks…and there are eyes needing ever-increasing corrective lenses. My ears are not as good as they once were. All the aches and pains of life’s wear and tear…I feel them acutely. Predicting weather changes because of the pain in the joints or even headaches that come in advance of the storms are new skills that I would happily trade for a body that does not betray. And I think the reality of my visible evidence of aging is frightening for my daughter. She sees and understands the temporal lives we live. She knows that death is a very real part of life, and that makes her afraid.

Confronting our frailty is just one of the realities of life. We somehow float through decades of life, often unscathed. Then BAM. Age smacks you right between the eyes. But isn’t it funny that on the inside, I still feel like a kid. Young, running and swinging and jumping without a care. But that inward me is in conflict with the outward me. I think that is why I feel so betrayed by my body. To do all the silly things I did as a child without ever breaking ANYTHING…and now, walking down a hill slowly is a frightening exercise…will I fall? What’s going to break this time? I can tell you I do NOT like living in fear of breaking something. I don’t like living in fear of any kind at all. Fear robs me of strength and peace.

Yesterday, I had the special opportunity to visit with a dear friend I had not seen in over 10 years. In that time she became a mother to four little boys and I became a grandmother to 4, going on 5, grandchildren. As we caught up on our lives over the years since we last saw each other, it was interesting to realize what a place fear had held in each of our lives as we walked through some very dark periods.

The source of our fear was different, but how interesting that the solution to the fear was the same. During those times of overwhelming darkness, we found our solace in the word of God. She shared that with her second pregnancy (twins) and then with her fourth child, she struggled with pre-term contractions throughout the pregnancies. Her fear of premature labor was very real. And she did not like the effect fear was having in her life. To try to combat her fear, she looked up every passage she could find on fear. Many verses she committed to memory.

Then, when she was eight months pregnant, she and her husband were involved in a serious car accident. She suffered many broken bones and a punctured lung. She did not feel her baby move for hours. During those hours, she was comforted by the verses she had already studied on fear. She had a ready refuge of peace. She was in the hospital for a week then in a rehab facility for another week. When the time came to deliver her son, her leg was in a cast. (Can you imagine giving birth with a cast on your leg?) But she had all those verses treasured in her heart, bound to her memory and ready to draw on any time she needed their reassuring encouragement.

I told her about my own period of darkness. How my husband and I waited for a miracle. Or braced ourselves for devastating news. So many months of sleepless nights. I would awaken at 2 or 3 AM and all I could do was read my Bible…for hours…soaking in the peace and comfort written over and over. Seeing God’s faithfulness revealed time after time.  Those hours spent in the Word got me through each day, and then I  would repeat cycle again. Every day for many, many months.

My friend and I agreed that it was in those darkest hours, days, weeks and months that we experienced the greatest spiritual growth. Our problems were bigger than we were and we did not have the solution in our own strength. But God did, and true to His promises, He brought each of us a peace that passed our understanding. We didn’t pretend that we didn’t have fear. We acknowledged the fear and put it in its rightful place. Underneath the perfect love Christ freely gives us.

Today, she has four healthy boys. And she knows real peace.

Today I have the evidence of God’s hand at work in creating the miracle for which we prayed. And peace has replaced my fear.

Tell me, are you afraid? Can I offer you the Source of Peace?

I Peter 3:13-15

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubledbut sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

 

Ephesians 2:13-16

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity… so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross…