Thursday, July 12, 2007


My last several posts have been what one might refer to as...heavy. Ok, here's a little light, albeit soap-boxish, moment in my blogging history.

He was thin, shy and starved for attention when I saw him at the pound in his 2'x5' chain link cage with a concrete floor. His long legs and floppy ears made a somewhat comical contrast. He sniffed my hand nervously when I bent down to pet him. As I passed dog after dog who was bouncing off the walls and barking (probably the right dog for someone, but not me), I wondered at his shyness, his lack of "pick ME, pick ME!" barking. After nervous deliberation, I finally pulled the adoption card above the cage belonging to a jet black schnauzer-mix with glistening, pearl-black eyes and tossled fur. (He was a quiet one too.) I got in line and stood there as a girl and her dad adopted a tabby cat. Then a family with three chubby children took home a miniature pincher puppy who looked rather intimidated by the three fat munchkins who were arguing over who would hold her. As I got closer and closer to the counter, I could not get those sweet brown eyes, those silly long legs and those floppy ears out of my mind. I left the line, put the schauzer's card back, and ran to Sammy's pen. I realize now that I was afraid he would already be gone. I opened his chain link cell, and he bounded out almost before I could get the unfashionable (free) purple leash around his neck. Following his nose at the end of the leash, we made our way to the door and got back in line. Together.

It hurts me to think of the little black schnauzer. I hope someone took him home that day, and in my mind that's what I have to believe or I'll cry! "Why didn't I just take both of them home?" Because I can't save them ALL. They need other people, children, families, seniors who feel lonely to go rescue the perfect friend. That's what Sammy has been to me. I don't know how I would have gotten through a few of the rougher nights alone without him curled up next to me.

People see me with Sammy and ask, "What kind of dog is he?" Am I embarrassed that I can't recite his pedigree? Am I ashamed of his missing tooth? Am I hoping they won't notice the scars on his nose from his former owner/abuser? Far from it. I usually just smile and say, "I have no idea what kind of dog he is. His name is Sammy. He's just a pound puppy. A mutt, I guess, and he's the greatest!"

So why are so many people patronizing these pure-breed puppy farms instead of going down to the shelter and picking out some loveable, sweet little soul who just needs a home? What is it? Are we too good to own a used dog like we're too good to buy a used car? You can get some delicate, fastidious dog, and take the chance that he'll end up owning YOU! OR you could give a "used" dog a home. They call it "rescue." Well, that's exactly what it is, and the DOG senses that YOU are the one who rescued him. He'll thank you for it every day of his life.

Having Sammy has been like a reward to me, a gift straight from Heaven. Having Sammy has opened my heart and dried many tears. What has Sammy been to me? I call it "rescue."

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Some bad news came in May when we learned that my Mom has stage four Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (cancer). She had her third chemo treatment yesterday, and we are all praying for the best. The situation is very serious but not hopeless. Her attitude and outlook are very positive, so we are all trying to learn from her example and be just as positive and upbeat as she is. My mother was aptly named "Grace." Mom is an incredible woman who has always taken joy in caring for others, so I'm sure it's rough on her to sit and let others take care of her. I'm going home to Arkansas to see her in July, and I know it will be hard for me to see her so weak with her hair all gone. Those outward signs of the illness will be the hardest things for me to handle. At the same time, all of this is a life lesson: "We are not our bodies. The best things in life...are not things. (that's from a little sign my Mom has sitting in her bathroom) Live and give in every moment. Old age is not a right or a guarantee, so get up, get off the couch, and live your life."

Soon after her diagnosis, it was my Sunday to sing on the Worship Team at church. One of the songs we sang that day was taken from Job 1:21. Those words were very hard for me to get out of my mouth that morning:

"Every blessing you pour out I'll turn back to praise; When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say: Blessed be the name of the Lord!...You give and take away; You give and take away; My heart will choose to say, 'Lord, blessed be Your name.'"

Obviously, my Mom hasn't been "taken away," so I was confused by my reaction to singing the song. After a little bit of thought on the subject, I realized why my tears welled up and my voice was shaky. Mom has not been taken away, but something of my innocence about the world has been obliterated. I guess I've lived a charmed life. Major illness has never attacked anyone close to me besides the elderly. When a shocking thing like this occurs, you're knocked down; you're breathless for a while. I felt like screaming, "Not fair! Not fair! Why?!? Why?!? Why?!?"

James says: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." How am I supposed to "consider it pure joy" and praise God for this? I know, I know..."All things work together for good," right? But nothing about this is good, is it? I say: "God, couldn't I have learned this lesson another way?"

I'm not strong enough yet to thank God for this struggle, but just trying to believe in God's promises one day at a time is the most important lesson I'm learning so far. I'm thankful to my parents for instilling in me the instinct to trust and believe that God is in control, and he will not put any of us through anything we cannot bear. Besides, this time we have on earth is not all there is to life. We are eternal beings, and I can never be separated from my Mom or anyone I love because God is an eternal father of an immortal family. My fear is not doubt. My questioning is not a lack of faith. We fear because we are human. We question, so that God can answer. Simply believing in God's promises can feel like hard work. Sometimes all I have the strength to pray as I lie in bed at night is to quietly whisper "I believe." The simplicity in the words of John 6:29 have given me a lot of peace:

"Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.'"

Jesus, I believe in you.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I used to consider myself a transparent person. I took pride in having no secrets, in always and in almost any situation, saying exactly what I think. Today, I tend to value my privacy and share less openly than I used to. Is this shift in my privacy policy a hardening of my heart due to the harshness and pain of the world - self-preservation in other words, OR have I just grown up and stopped being naive enough to think that honesty is always the best policy. I've been in two close relationships in my life (friendships) where my loyalty to those friends required deception, secrecy, and subterfuge. Now I'm not talking about industrial espionage or trading stock tips. I'm talking about personal things they were choosing to hide from other people, for whatever reason. Things I believed it was other peoples' right to know. Issues you can hide for a time, but always come out in the end, inevitably with harmful results. Why? Because in my experience (call me naive), people get hurt when they're tricked and deceived. They get angry. They may even take revenge or sever relationships. (Am I talking in too many circles for you to even understand the types of situations I'm describing? I am? Good.)

Does the rationale "It's none of my business" let me off the hook? Does telling myself that just because I have knowledge of a thing, I don't have any right to choose what I do with that information. And where does the value of loyalty and friendship fall in the priority list? Isn't it a positive character trait to be loyal to one's friends? To keep your friend's secrets? To keep your word once you've told them: "I will never tell." I guess I should've thought of that before I used the word "never." My grandfather took an oath during WWII swearing he'd never tell something so secret that I don't even know anything else about "it." He took the secret to his grave despite the fact that the events/facts he swore to hide were released to the public record before his death. I can't help admiring that. There's something almost romantic about taking a secret to the grave, right?

I don't know. I guess I'm struggling with this question right now, and I'm not sure I'll ever have the answer. Maybe you can learn from the mess I've gotten myself into the next time a friend asks: "Are you my friend? Will you promise NEVER to tell? Will you keep my personal secret FOREVER?" And maybe you'll think about it before you ask a friend to compromise her integrity to keep your friendship.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Ok, I know. I KNOW! Where have I been? I haven't written a syllable on this blog since November! Strangely, the wonder and excitement of my life (while it would have been interesting reading) kept me buried, tired, drained and...secretive, happily secretive. My joy felt too intimate to share, BUT today -- TODAY the weather, the tender green things emerging from sleep, the breeze carrying birdsong through my window...I want to sing out the thoughts I've held inside! You didn't hear from me on January 1st because TODAY is my New Year's Day. My life, my world is beginning a new phase, a new path. Back in January I had a thought in the dim moments of the night just before sleep fell: "Can any of us choose a day at random, declare it holy, and make a resolution that changes our life?" That's what January 1st seems like -- a day chosen at random, but a day chosen at random FOR us. One day we're supposed to wake up and suddenly resolve to never do this or that again, to floss, to cut down on dairy, to jog everyday, to lose 20 pounds? Maybe the reason none of us ever keeps these resolutions past Groundhog Day is because it was chosen at random FOR us. When are you ready for a change? Do you have to wait until December 31, 2007? Or could you wake up one day on June 12th, September 5th, or tomorrow April 4th, and just say: "My life is new. Starting today, I am different. This day is holy, and I choose to change."
Soon I'll be starting new career, a career I never would have imagined for myself in a million years had it not been for the choices I've made over the last eight months to take hold of my life and stop floating on the waves of chance and the winds of the past. I'm not going to share my resolution with you. It's mine. And yours can be yours too, but make it. Don't wait. You know what you want for your life, and you have the power to choose your life's course. Today is a holy day.