Puppy Love and Advice from Monks

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Sometimes I wonder if I’m training Kaylee or she’s training me. Sure, I’ve taught her to sit, lie down, and not jump on people. Well, we continue working on that last one! One thing she is training me to do is to be more fully present in the moment, a trait I treasure. As Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there!”

Playing fetch with Kaylee in the backyard.

I was definitely fully present when I was helping in the Puppy Palace at LaMancha Animal Rescue, https://www.lamanchaanimalrescue.org/. For a few months I’ve been volunteering at this wonderful place that rescues and rehabilitates dogs, cats, and various other animals. It was there that this little puppy walked right up to me, climbed in my lap, and started licking my hand. Mike and I had talked about and prepared for getting a puppy for quite a while. Immediately I thought that this was the one. A few days later, Kaylee came home with us.

While looking into how to best train a puppy, I happened upon The Art of Raising a Puppy, by the Monks of New Skete. I actually read it, re-read it, then skimmed through it a third time. I highly recommend both it and How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend, by the same authors. Their insight into a dog’s development and their positive approach really make sense. They also give a lot of practical suggestions that are working very well so far. They emphasize keeping in mind what your puppy is capable of becoming, which is a good lesson for us, as well.

Our goal in training is to enable Kaylee to fully be part of our lives. For example, she is already used to riding in the car to visit my daughter and her family. It definitely requires planning, work, and patience, but it has already been so much fun! Seeing the joy she brings our granddaughters, going out for walks, playing training games, and just watching her tail wagging and her whole body quivering with happiness when she greets people is such a delight! I look forward to seeing what she will become and how I will grow through training her. I hope to always remain teachable. What have your pets taught you?

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8

If you remain teachable, you can learn a lot.

As you can see below, Kaylee is bringing smiles all around.

My Mom

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Mom in a meadow, on a beautiful afternoon together.
Mom and I enjoyed many walks and hikes together, like the one in this beautiful, wild meadow.

When she heard the news, her immediate response was that she wanted to “die well”. That night, I told my husband, Mike, that we needed to make a “Going to Heaven” song mix for her. He replied that he had been thinking the very same thing. My mom is now there, in heaven. She placed her trust in Jesus as her Savior many years ago. When she was diagnosed with leukemia and informed that she only had days or months to live, that trust continued. As Pastor Mike McClung stated at her memorial service, she lived well, and she died well. I would say that her whole life was a song of praise.

We had so very many amazing adventures together! One year I decided to make a card for her entitled “Mom, do you remember…”. I placed an old photograph on the front and filled the inside with short sentences summing up some of the memories we shared over the years. Here’s a short sample:

Mom, do you remember…

…taking Jim and me for walks in the woods while Heidi and Amy were in school?

…playing your guitar and singing “Jesus is the Light, He’s the Light of the world”?

…you making a zillion cookies every Christmas and packaging them for us to deliver to our neighbors?

…you always making my friends feel so welcomed and loved?

…climbing that fire tower at the Grand Canyon?

…all the prayers, tears, and laughter shared together?

I actually remember these things and even a few more!

Mom really enjoyed life, and she made it a joy for everyone who knew her. She taught me so very much, from how to bake pies to how to try to look for the good in every situation. It’s been over 6 years since she died, and I still miss her. However, I rejoice in knowing that I will see her again, because she also taught me to trust in Jesus as my Savior. I am so thankful for her life, her love, and her example! What do you appreciate about your mom? Perhaps you can make her a “Do you remember…” card.

If your mom has not been all that a mom should, I am truly sorry. Please know that there is a God who loves you and cares for you deeply. He heals hurts, restores lives, and fills with joy. You can rely on Him always.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

Happy Mother’s Day!

Open the Windows

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Springtime! Don’t you love it? It was just warm enough the other day for me to open all the windows and let the first fresh breeze blow through my house in quite a while. This made me think about opening other windows, like the windows of my heart. God promises us peace and says that Christ himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). Yet, at times I think I myself block out His peace, holding on to uncertainties. It’s always when I get to looking around at things instead of looking to Him that peace flees.

By the end of the evening I went around and closed all those windows, because the air turned quite cold. May I always leave the window of my heart open, though. Are your windows open?

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Christ Himself is our peace.

These are just a few spring photos from the past. Hope you enjoy!

Lost and Found

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He went walking by very quickly as I entered the store with my grocery cart. He looked only about four years old. I didn’t see any adults nearby, so I watched to make sure he was with a grown up. He wasn’t. His fast walk quickly turned into a run, and the tear rolling down his cheek made it apparent that he was lost. I left my cart and caught up with him just as he was getting ready to run out the door. A store employee joined me, and we assured him that we would find whomever he was looking for.

By this time the poor boy was so upset and scared that he could barely talk. After again reassuring him, he told us his name. An announcement was made over the loudspeaker, and we waited with anticipation for someone to come forward and be reunited with this little one. A few minutes later a young woman came rushing up. Much to my surprise, she began yelling and calling him a bad boy. I explained that he was looking for her, and he got scared. She seemed to settle down a bit then.

I couldn’t help a tear rolling down my cheek now. I had been expecting a happy reunion filled with relief and reassurance for that young boy. Perhaps the young mother was simply distraught and that is why she lashed out at her son. It was heartbreaking to see this little boy practically shaking with fright get yelled at. Children are a treasure.

In contrast to this scene, Jesus told a story about a shepherd looking for a lost sheep. This shepherd had 100 sheep, but one got lost. You might think that he wouldn’t bother looking, because he still had 99 sheep. This wasn’t the case, though. The shepherd left the other 99 and went searching for that one lost sheep. When he found it, he scooped it up into his arms, carried it home, and called everyone together for a celebration. What a beautiful picture of being found! Jesus loves each of us that much.

Hopefully that young mother later reassured her son of her love. Hopefully she realizes how loved she is. Hopefully you realize how loved you are!

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” I John 4:16

Please treasure your children.

Some treasures of my life are below:

My Room

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The yell came from upstairs. I raced up the stairs to find my husband, Mike, flat on his back with green paint splattered everywhere. He was fine, but he had fallen off the little 3-legged stool he was standing on to paint the walls. He couldn’t move without creating more of a mess, so he had yelled for my help. After my laughter died down, I grabbed some wet rags and helped him clean up. I still smile just thinking about that scene. We were getting a room ready for our granddaughter, Senna.

Since that time, we gained another granddaughter, Adina. When we moved to a new home a few years ago, I remember how excited we were about making a special bedroom for our granddaughters’ visits. We carefully chose a paint color for the walls and special forest friends decorations. This time there weren’t even any mishaps, probably because Mike now uses a ladder for his painting. We had so much fun getting everything set up to surprise them and even more fun watching their excitement when they saw it.  

All this made me think of how Jesus promises that he is preparing a place for us. If Mike and I had so much joy in preparing a place for Senna and Adina, I can’t even imagine God’s joy at making a place for us. I also cannot imagine how amazing it will be! Just think of God’s creation – the colors, the variety, the beauty, the wonder. God made us for forever. You and I are invited to have a forever home with God by accepting his invitation. It is for whoever believes in him. I am excited to see what my room is like!

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2

God made us for forever.

Keep Moving*

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It kept circling, soaring high above our heads, then swooping down closer. This continued for several minutes. We were about 3.5 miles into a 4.2-mile walk, and it seemed like the buzzard anticipated us dropping over. We were cracking up laughing! Our walking pace was definitely slowing down. Well, at least mine was. We joked together that we had better keep walking.

This made me think of my dad. He is in his late 80’s, and sometimes he gets discouraged about the things he isn’t able to do anymore, like bowling. I try to encourage him to focus on the things he can do. I’ve jokingly told him that if you’re not dead yet; you’re not done yet. We all get discouraged at times, but we need to keep moving.

We did keep moving and finished our walk, leaving the buzzard to go soaring elsewhere to find dinner. Later that day Mike was looking out the window. When I asked what he was looking at, he replied that he was just checking to make sure that buzzard was gone. Mike always makes me laugh! The buzzard was gone, because we kept moving. How will you keep moving today?

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

Keep moving! If you’re not dead yet, you’re not done yet.

*This one was Mike’s idea. 😊

Chaos in the Pasture

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The horses were gathered over in the corner, looking almost as if they were huddling together. Dogs were barking wildly and loudly. All this because of a deer. Apparently, it leaped over the fence to get into the pasture but was having a very difficult time getting back out. It was stuck.

As I watched, the poor animal ran up to the high fence and seemed to doubt its ability to leap back over to get out. It would pull up and stop at the last moment. Next it raced around and around inside the enclosure with its white tail up like a distress signal. Then it attempted to charge headfirst through the fence several times, to no avail.

Do you ever get stuck? We all do at times. Sometimes it’s our own fault, and sometimes it isn’t. The question is what to do when we are stuck? I think that sometimes you don’t know what it is until you know what it isn’t, like the way the deer figured out it was penned in, but that ramming through the fence was not a good exit strategy. If you are stuck, know that you do not have to stay that way. You can look to God. He cares for you and about you.

That deer knew it wasn’t meant to live in the fenced pasture. Eventually it made its escape by going underneath the fence. The horses ambled out of the corner and went back to grazing; the dogs quieted down. The chaos turned to calm.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 142:8

Sometimes you don’t know what it is until you know what it isn’t.

The Day Uncle Larry Became a Hero

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All of a sudden, my two sisters and my brother were yelling wildly! I had no idea why. We were exploring the woods behind our house with Uncle Larry. He was only a little older than us, actually, but we all looked up to him. Whenever he came to visit, he told the most exciting, funny stories, and he was always ready for an adventure.

On this particular day, Mom had agreed to let us go on a hike with Uncle Larry leading the way. I was about 7 years old at the time. We had been traveling through the woods for a while, when suddenly we came upon a fallen tree blocking our path. There was no way around it. Uncle Larry easily scrambled over; then one by one, we followed his example. It was my turn, and I was only partly over when the others started yelling.

I looked all around to find out why, and then I saw it. It was a snake, and it was slithering right next to me! Before I knew what was happening, Uncle Larry grabbed that snake by the tail, whirled it around his head like a lasso, and threw it far away! I stared in amazement. We all did. He had rescued us all! We continued on our hike, afraid of nothing, because Uncle Larry, our hero, was with us.

Thinking back on this happy memory makes me glad that more memories are ahead, just waiting to be made. This past weekend, Mike and I had a bunch of adventures with our granddaughters. We went bear hunting, were chased by lions, and built a whole town with an ice cream store in it, all right in our house. What adventure will you have today? What memories will you make? As the message from Australia goes: Life. Be in it.

“Sing to God, sing praise to His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds – His name is the Lord – rejoice before Him.” Psalm 68:4

More memories are ahead, just waiting to be made.

Don’t Forget Your Please

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The command came from the backseat, and it came in a rather whiny, demanding tone. “I don’t WANT music!”, exclaimed my 2 ½ year old granddaughter, Adina. We were driving to my house for a play day, and I had the radio on. I explained to her that we talk to each other in a nice way, because we love each other. “Don’t forget your please” is something that I remind both my granddaughters (and myself) at times.

This made me think of an extremely demanding patient I once cared for. Did I mention that I’m a nurse? Anyway, this particular patient kept requesting things in a brusque, rude manner. It seemed each time I entered the room, I was met with commands. I was thankful that his condition was improving, but honestly, this was getting tiresome. At one point after he made yet another demand, I automatically responded, “Don’t forget your please”. After laughing, I explained that I often babysit my granddaughters and that is what I say to remind them that good manners matter. After a moment of silence, my patient actually apologized. The rest of my shift that day became much more pleasant.

As for Adina, later that day I was humming when I heard her nicely ask me to “please turn the music off”. How she makes me laugh! The reason I share this is because we all have the opportunity every day to show kindness, even in the way we speak to each other. Even God exercises kindness! Kindness counts and really does make a difference.

“’…I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:24

  Kindness counts.