Category Archives: love of dogs

Keep Your Distance…???

Keep Your Distance…?

Yesterday Sampson and I went to Lowe’s to get a key made.  I know, you can get a key made almost anywhere but I chose Lowe’s because they let dogs come with you and Sampson loves nothing more than ‘going shopping’.  He was sooo excited!

Normally I park far away from the entrance so we can walk as much as possible but yesterday I drove up close to the entrance, I guess because we had already walked and I had a couple of other errands to run.  Anyway, we pulled up beside a car with the hood up.  I immediately had flashbacks to all the times in the not too distant past where I had the hood up on the car I was blessed with (another story) EVERY time I pulled into ANY parking lot!  So immediately, I looked in the car and all around our area looking for the driver because more often times than not, not ONE PERSON would come and ask if I needed help.  Still makes me want to cry when I think of it.  ANYWAY, I couldn’t find a driver so Sampson and I went on in. He got to strut around for people to pet him (he thinks all humans are there just for him), got the key made and we were ready to leave.  When I got back to my car, the hood was still up on the other car and still no driver could be found.  I looked inside the car and it was full of boxes, clothes – obviously everything that person had was in the back seat.  I got Sampson some water and said a short prayer for the driver and for a chance to help if it was needed.  About that time, here came the driver.

If I were a person that judged what I saw on the outside, I would have quickly gotten in my car, locked the doors and gone on my way.  This guy was a bit intimidating.  He was filthy dirty and talking to himself obviously frustrated with the vehicle.  I spoke first, smiling and told him I felt for him and had been in that predicament many times before.  I asked him if I could help.  He told me he had driven from Georgia and was on his way to his first job in 3 years as a sober man and had to be there by tomorrow or the opportunity wouldn’t be there.  He said he had to leave “home” because he knew he couldn’t stay clean where he was so he opted to take a chance through some ministry in a surrounding town and just start completely over again.  “God took a big chance on me so I’m taking a big chance on Him.”  We talked about his car (transmission fluid leak, power steering fluid leak) – and that he thought he got it fixed and if he didn’t he could still drive it was just going to be aggravating because he’d have to stop often to refill the fluid levels.  He smiled and said, “Hey, ma’am, I’ve made it this far, no way I’m gonna quit now, I’m almost there!”

I found out he spent the last of his money he had buying fluids and a couple of tools to fix his car so I gave him the little bit of cash I had, prayed with him and wished him well.

The points/lessons of this encounter are endless but the one that stands out for me is this:  Because of my experience in a like situation I had a choice to make:  treat the stranger in need like I HAD BEEN treated or treat the stranger in need like I WANTED TO be treated.  I chose the latter.  Had I based my actions on what I SAW, I wouldn’t have heard his “God-story” and would have missed MY blessing!

I know it’s a mean old world out there.  Even walking down the sidewalk and making eye contact with someone may be taking a risk to be hurt in some form or another.  I think those of us who call ourselves Christians should be prayerfully, discernfully (not sure that’s an official word but it works!) willing to be what (and who) Jesus commissioned us to be – hope, encouragement and comfort to those we meet.  Did I change that man’s life?  Probably not.  Did I make him smile and relax a bit? You bet I did.  Mission accomplished.  Not only that, it felt so good!

Keep my distance?  I’m so happy I didn’t.  I was reminded once again that our greatest blessings come when we make an effort to bless other people!

Matthew 25:34-45

Advertisements

My Own Way

When we go to the Greenbelt we always walk in the same direction and stop at the same spots.  Sampson loves to go there as do I.  They’ve built a long bridge people can walk on that makes a loop so you can walk laps if you like.  Sampson always sniffs the beginning of the bridge, every time we go, but I always redirect him to the paved path that runs next to the water. Part of the mission of walking is so he can do what doggies do.  Don’t want that happening on the bridge.  This morning, he sat down at the entrance to the bridge as if to say, “NO! I’m going that way. I want to go this way.  I’m not moving unless we go this way.  It’s what I want”.  So ok.  I gave in.  I let him go.

For a while he was a happy guy then every few steps, he would turn and look at me as if to say, “I’m done with this.  It’s boring.  I have to you-know-what. I want to go back.”  I’d coax him thinking in my mind, “I tried to tell you, you didn’t want to go to this way but this was your choice and we’re gonna finish it” and so we continued until he got off the bridge. He was jumping and happy, walking faster, obviously pleased to be back on the path where the grass, water and squirrels were.

Oh my isn’t that just like us!  God has set us where we are, doing what we do but there’s sometimes a tug to go in a different direction. We want something different and want to go our own way.  So we venture into a new place only to discover we want it like it used to be.   The free will God’s given us means we can pretty much do whatever we want without ever consulting Him.  We can also do what Sampson did, refuse to move on the path He’s shown us is the best one for us and insist on having what we want, when we want it. I’ve been there and like Sampson, I soon discovered it wasn’t what I thought it was and couldn’t wait to get off of it!

If you think it’s time for a change in direction, pray about it.  Until that time, stay on the path God has you on and believe if changes are necessary that will be made clear.  If you’re feeling restless and just want to change directions just because YOU want to, think about all that’s involved with that.  Pray for contentment where you are (1st Timothy 6:6); it’s a wonderful thing.  I’m learning going my own way isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Where You Are

You’ve seen the countless pictures I post of our morning walks in Borden Park.  That’s Sampson’s favorite place as we go there every day.  It’s full of blessings for him: lots of squirrels to chase, sometimes other dogs, scraps of food (which I don’t like) and smells to sniff for him.  Often in the mornings no one is there but us so I let him off his leash and let him run while I walk.

Across the street from the park there’s an empty field and a softball field.  No trees, no nothing, a literal empty field.  Sampson goes to the edge of the park and stares at the field.  He wants – every day – to go over there. I can’t figure out why.  I mean EVERY DAY he wants to go where he’s not.  He wants to leave all the things he loves about the park and where he can walk and run freely, all the trees that provide shade, all the squirrels he loves to chase, everything he enjoys to go to an empty and barren field. So today I hooked him up to the leash and we crossed the street. He walked to the middle of the field and stood there, staring at the park!

Isn’t that just like us?  We’re in a place where we have everything we need and where without a doubt God has blessed us beyond what we deserve and yet, we’re always longing for more.  We look “across the street” and think there may be something over there that will satisfy us or make us happy that we can’t find in the middle of where we are right now.  We look at it every day; think about it every day (amongst all the blessings we’re privy to right now, not appreciating any of it) and when we walk over we find ourselves longing to be back where we just came from!

Before you “cross the street”, look around you.  Consider where you are, what you have and if not satisfied, ask yourself why. Look for – really look for – the goodness of your place, the blessings in your place and make the decision to appreciate what you have and where you are.  If you find you’re always in want of more than what you have while not appreciating what’s around you, you’re missing out on a wonderful blessing that seems to be getting lost in this world we live in: CONTENTMENT.  Society compels us to never be content, to always want more and not be satisfied until we’ve nearly killed ourselves to get it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a better life and other things; just be sure you have a healthy grip on those things and don’t let those things have you.

Want what you have.  The abundant life starts right there. If you find yourself across the street into that thing or place you thought you wanted more than where you were and what you had the remedy is simple.  Walk back to your blessed place and look there.  Be grateful you could and appreciate where you are.  Sampson did.  As soon as we crossed back over and I let him loose, he found two squirrels to chase.  He was perfectly content.  We can be too, if we appreciate where we are right this moment.

1st Timothy 6:6  “…but godliness with contentment is great gain.”

The Tears of God

Raindrops.  Not unusual on an Alabama May morning on any other day; on this day under the conditions of a late spring drought however, it was unusual.

I had just taken my precious cockapoo of 16 years, Sadie, to be put to sleep.  After she had been misdiagnosed for years and discovering she had cancer, she had taken a turn for the worst a week ago and was now to the point that she couldn’t walk and wouldn’t eat. She was still drinking and wagging her tail at Matt, my son. Other than that, she wasn’t the same Sadie she had been not so long ago. I didn’t want to take her to the vet; that experience always unnerved her. I wanted her to die peacefully at home with those she loved around her.  I begged God to take her in her sleep but to my dismay, that didn’t happen.

I couldn’t help but question why He would have me take on the daunting, heartbreaking task of having her put to sleep.  After all, He knows my heart.  He knows how hard this would be for me.  Still there I was, on the way.  I wasn’t happy about it but more to the point, my heart was sick with grief.

On that morning, we prepared to take our last journey together. I gave her a peppermint stick to lick on.  Most of her teeth were long since gone so there was no danger of her biting down on it.  She licked and licked enjoying one of her favorite treats.  I don’t even know what made me think of it. It had been a while since I had given her one.  It pleased me as I watched her remember and enjoy that familiar sweet taste.  Her eyes seemed to brighten just a bit.  Maybe, I thought, I was giving her back a tiny taste of the pleasure she had always given me.

Sadie was like my child.  She and Matt had grown up together.  I don’t think I could have loved her more. She loved to ride in the car.  In her younger days her head would have been out the window with ears flopping in the wind.  Not today though.  Too weak at this point to even sit up, she sought my hand and placed her head there.

We arrived at the vet’s office finding they had cleared all appointments so Sadie and I were the only ones there.  I carried her into the room and placed her on the table wrapped in her favorite blanket.  Again she sought my hand and placed her head there licking my hand. All I could think of to say was, “Thank you Sadie, for bringing so much into our lives.  We love you, Sadie.  Thank you God for bringing us this special doggy through whom you chose to bless us in so many ways.” I said those words over and over again.  I’m sure she sensed my sadness.  I tried so hard to maintain my sense of composure but tears were rolling down my face.

I thought of all the things she had been through with us:  the moves, the joy, the tears, the special times, the sorrowful times.  Faithful.  Constant. Loving.  Now she was gone.  Such a big part of our lives, had breathed her last.  For a few moments, I held her life…and death…in the palm of my hand. What an honor.

That’s how much I loved her.  I loved her enough to provide her a safe, special, loving home in which to live and I loved her enough to stay with her through her death.  I smiled through my tears because I knew that if the Lord had ordained it so, she would have done the same for me.

As I walked out of the office, I prayed that my legs would hold me steady and I could maintain my composure to get to the car. Incredible sadness and the sense of monumental loss enveloped me.  Safe in my car, I began to sob uncontrollably.  As I prepared to drive home I begged God to show Himself in a very personal, very real way and take hold of me and comfort me as I knew only He could.  My heart was absolutely breaking.

As I started the car to head back home, a huge raindrop hit the windshield and then another, another and another.  Odd, it hadn’t rained in almost three weeks as we’d been in a drought pattern for right at a month.  It was then that it dawned on me in my grief that God was crying with me.  In the intense moment of need He felt my pain and saw fit to respond with what I felt were compassionate tears of a Daddy who hurts with His child.  At one of the saddest times in my life, I never felt more loved and cared for than I did in that moment. I’ll never forget it.

Does God care?  Absolutely.  No matter the cause of the pain, He feels it too.  When His children hurt, He hurts.  If His children are suffering, He longs to comfort them, but He will only step in if invited.  Oh yes. He cares.  He comes.  He comforts and oh yes, He cries.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…” 2nd Corinthians 2:1

NOTE:  This story is from my book, “The Last Mile Home, Ordinary Insights from an Extraordinary God” first published 2010