Just Being a Dog

>> Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Charlie, our dog, has been with our family about two months. It took him awhile to adjust from life in a kennel as a stud dog to life in a house with a family. We’ve had our moments, but none quite as attention getting as Wednesday morning. I was busy around the house, getting ready to go to work. My husband, John, kissed me goodbye and headed out through the laundry room to the garage so he could go to work. Charlie always stands and stares at the door for ten minutes waiting for his best friend to come back.

On my way through the kitchen to go make the bed, the laundry room door slammed shut. Was this a new trick Charlie had learned? Before I could get to the laundry room, I heard John yelling, “Charlie come. Come Charlie.”

I catch on quick.

Charlie was loose in the neighborhood. As I ran past his stash of treats, I grabbed some. By the time I got to John, he was half a block away and Charlie was headed for the walkway we have through our planned neighborhood. It’s a walk we’ve taken many times with Charlie, but he was always on a leash.

This time he was free … and loving every minute of it.

There were smells everywhere. Charlie paid absolutely no attention to our calls to “come” or our offer of food. He would pause, look at us and seemingly grin. Did we think he was a fool? No way was he coming back.

It was the smelling part that did him in. We weren’t stopping to smell, so we caught up with him. That’s when he got a whiff of the treats in our hands. I was a bit closer so he came to eat out of my hand first. Boy did I grab hold of his collar. Instantly he realized his error, but too late. I had a death grip on it.

Only then could John and I discuss the fact that it was cold and we had no jackets on. Luckily we were dressed for work. Otherwise, I might have been running through the neighborhood with my housecoat and slippers.

Apparently when John left, the door from the laundry room to the garage didn’t quite latch. As Charlie stood and stared at it, waiting for John to return, John opened the garage door which made enough of a breeze to blow the door to the laundry room open. It was the door from the laundry room to the kitchen that had slammed shut.

Charlie saw his chance … and took it. He was a dog … being a dog.

How like humans. We go on smelling sprees, checking out the new houses, cars, boats, televisions or whatever might seem like a good smell to us. We might have parents or spouses saying, “Come” but we just grin and go on our merry way. In our world today, a huge percentage of families are in debt over their heads. But they think they are free … and loving every minute of it.

It may not be someone quite as gentle as I was with Charlie that takes you by the collar and brings you to a screaming halt. The IRS can do that. So can the police. Are you grinning at them as you run?

Charlie has a good life at our home. He is fed and watered, loved on and scratched. So what’s his problem? He’s a dog … being a dog.

Do you have someone who loves you and waits for you to come home? So what’s with all the running away … spending too much … drinking too much? Do you think you are just a human being a human? Think again.

You see, that’s the difference. Dogs can’t think.

“Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling? Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice?
She's taken her stand at First and Main,
   at the busiest intersection.
Right in the city square
   where the traffic is thickest, she shouts,
"You—I'm talking to all of you,
   everyone out here on the streets!
Listen, you idiots—learn good sense!
   You blockheads—shape up!

Don't miss a word of this—I'm telling you how to live well,
   I'm telling you how to live at your best.”
Proverbs 8:1-6 (MSG)


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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

>> Monday, May 30, 2011

As I came out of the supermarket that sunny day, pushing my cart of groceries towards my car, I saw an old man with the hood of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with the door open. The old man was looking at the engine. I put my groceries away in my car, and continued to watch the old gentleman from about twenty five feet away.
 
I saw a young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arms walking towards the old man. The old gentleman saw him coming too, and took a few steps towards him. I saw the old gentleman point to his open hood and say something. The young man put his grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac Escalade. He then turned back to the old man. I heard him yell at the old gentleman saying: “You shouldn't even be allowed to drive a car at your age.” Then with a wave of his hand, he got in his car and peeled rubber out of the parking lot.

I saw the old gentleman pull out his handkerchief, and mop his brow as he went back to his car and again looked at the engine. He then went to his wife and spoke with her; he appeared to tell her it would be okay. I had seen enough, and I approached the old man. He saw me coming and stood straight, and as I got near him I said, “Looks like you're having a problem.”

He smiled sheepishly and quietly nodded his head. I looked under the hood myself and knew that whatever the problem was, it was beyond me. Looking around, I saw a gas station up the road, and I told the old man that I would be right back. I drove to the station and went inside. I saw three attendants working on cars. I approached one of them, and related the problem the old man had with his car. I offered to pay them if they could follow me back down and help him.

The old man had pushed the heavy car under the shade of a tree and appeared to be comforting his wife. When he saw us he straightened up and thanked me for my help. As the mechanics diagnosed the problem, I spoke with the old gentleman.

When I shook hands with him earlier, he had noticed my Marine Corps ring and had commented about it, telling me that he had been a Marine too. I nodded and asked the usual question, “What outfit did you serve with?” He had mentioned he served with the first Marine Division at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal.

He had hit all the big ones and retired from the Corps after the war was over. As we talked we heard the car engine come on and saw the mechanics lower the hood. They came over to us as the old man reached for his wallet, but was stopped by me. I told him I would just put the bill on my AAA card.

He still reached for the wallet and handed me a card that I assumed had his name and address on it and I stuck it in my pocket. We shook hands all around again, and I said my goodbye's to his wife. I then told the two mechanics that I would follow them back to the station. Once at the station, I told them they had interrupted their own jobs to come along with me and help the old man. I said I wanted to pay for the help, but they refused to charge me. 

One of them pulled out a card from his pocket, looking exactly like the card the old man had given to me. Both of the men told me then they were Marine Corps Reserves. Once again we shook hands all around and as I was leaving, one of them told me I should look at the card the old man had given to me. I said I would and drove off. 

For some reason I had gone about two blocks, when I pulled over and took the card out of my pocket and looked at it for a long, long time. The name of the old gentleman was on the card in golden leaf and under his name was written: Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

I sat there motionless, looking at the card and reading it over and over. I looked up from the card and smiled to no one but myself and marveled that on this day, four Marines had all come together because one of us needed help. He was an old man all right, but it felt good to have stood next to greatness and courage, and an honor to have been in his presence. Remember, OLD men like him gave you FREEDOM for America. Thanks to those who served and still serve and to all of those who supported them, and who continue to support them. 
America is not at war. The U.S. Military is at war. America is at the Mall. If you don't stand behind our troops, PLEASE feel free to stand in front of them!

(Author Unknown)

“Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Romans 13:7 (NIV)


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When Your Hut is on Fire

>> Sunday, May 29, 2011

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions. One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, with smoke rolling up to the sky. He felt the worst had happened and everything was lost. He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. He cried out, “God! How could you do this to me?”

Early the next day, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island. It had come to rescue him! “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers.

“We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

It's easy to get discouraged when things are going bad, but we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of our pain and suffering. Remember the next time your little hut seems to be burning to the ground; it just may be a smoke signal that summons God’s help.

(Author Unknown)

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?” Romans 8:35 (NLT)

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The Old Geezer

>> Friday, May 27, 2011

While on a road trip, an elderly couple stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch. After finishing their meal, they left the restaurant, and resumed their trip. When leaving, the elderly woman unknowingly left her glasses on the table, and she didn't miss them until they had been driving for about forty minutes.

By then, to add to the aggravation, they had to travel quite a distance before they could find a place to turn around, in order to return to the restaurant to retrieve her glasses.

All the way back, the elderly husband became the classic grouchy old man. He fussed and complained, and scolded his wife relentlessly during the entire return drive. The more he chided her, the more agitated he became. He just wouldn't let up for a single minute.

To her relief, they finally arrived at the restaurant. As the woman got out of the car and hurried inside to retrieve her glasses, the old geezer yelled to her, “While you're in there, you might as well get my hat and the credit card.”

(Author Unknown)

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Nine Things That Will Disappear

>> Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ready or not, here they come: 

1. The Post Office.  Get ready to imagine a world without the post office.  They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long term.   Email, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive.  Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills. 

2. The Check.   Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with checks by 2018.  It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process checks.  Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the check.  This plays right into the death of the post office.  If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.

3. The Newspaper.  The younger generation simply doesn't read the newspaper.  They certainly don't subscribe to a daily delivered print edition.  That may go the way of the milkman and the laundry man.  As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it.  The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance.  They have met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services. 

4. The Book.  You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages.  I said the same thing about downloading music from iTunes.  I wanted my hard copy CD.  But I quickly changed my mind when I discovered that I could get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music.  The same thing will happen with books.  You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy.  And the price is less than half that of a real book.  And think of the convenience!  Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can't wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you're holding a gadget instead of a book.

5. The Land Line Telephone. Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don't need it anymore.  Most people keep it simply because they've always had it.  But you are paying double charges for that extra service.  All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes

6. Music. This is one of the saddest parts of the change story.  The music industry is dying a slow death.  Not just because of illegal downloading.  It's the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem.  The record labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing.  Over 40% of the music purchased today is "catalogue items," meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with.  Older established artists.  This is also true on the live concert circuit. 

7. Television.   Revenues to the networks are down dramatically.  Not just because of the economy.  People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers.  And they're playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV.  Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator.  Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds.  I say good riddance to most of it.  It's time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery.  Let the people choose what they want to watch online and through Netflix. 

8. The  "Things" That You Own. Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future.  They may simply reside in "the cloud."  Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your pictures, music, movies, and documents.  Your software is on a CD or DVD, and you can always re-install it if need be.  But all of that is changing.  Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest "cloud services."  That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system.  So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be tied straight into the Internet.  If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud.  If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud.  And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider.  In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device.  That's the good news. But, will you actually own any of this "stuff" or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a big "Poof?"  Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical?  It makes you want to run to the closet and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf, or open up a CD case and pull out the insert. 

9. Privacy.   If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy.  That's gone.  It's been gone for a long time anyway.  There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone.  But you can be sure that 24/7, "They" know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View.   If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits. And “They" will try to get you to buy something else.  

(Author Unknown)

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Just Who is Being Rescued?

>> Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.

As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be rescued. At least I could save one.

(Unknown Dog’s View of Us)

You put us in charge of your handcrafted world, repeated to us your Genesis-charge, made us lords of sheep and cattle, even animals out in the wild, birds flying and fish swimming, whales singing in the ocean deeps.” Psalms 8:6-8 (MSG)


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An Assortment of Coffee Cups

>> Monday, May 23, 2011

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the coffee. When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:

"If you noticed, all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups.

And then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us."

God brews the coffee, not the cups … Enjoy your coffee!

(Author Unknown)

“When you find me, you find life, real life,
  to say nothing of God's good pleasure.”
 Proverbs 8:35 (MSG)

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Paralysis and the Cure

>> Sunday, May 22, 2011

I sat in Starbucks, sipping my drink and reading the USA Today. A headline caught my attention: New Steps Taken Vs. Paralysis – Literally. This was a must read. The article told of a 25-year old man who had been paralyzed from the chest down in a hit-and-run accident five years previously. Now, with some new electronic stimulation technology, he can walk a few steps, and move his hips, knees, ankles and toes.

 Paralyzed. I’ve been there … paralyzed from the brain down … since birth.

Mine was no hit-and-run, but a systematic program to rid me of all capabilities to think for myself. The rules and regulations I lived under were numerous, but all came with the heading: GOD SAYS. And since that was all I had ever known, I believed them, the significant people in my life.

As I looked around Starbucks, I wondered which of these customers might be paralyzed. Oh, none of them looked paralyzed. But I hadn’t either.

Was it one of the two younger women sitting across from me at a table? One had arrived late and her strident and nasally voice had announced to all the reasons for her tardiness. I could still hear her speaking … every word. Perhaps she was paralyzed by her need for attention. Was she that unaware of how loudly she spoke?

What about the older couple who sat in the comfortable chairs in the corner? Husband and wife? Brother and sister? Maybe they were paralyzed by their advancing age … and no longer really lived life.

Then there was the young professionally dressed young man sitting directly in front of me … complete with laptop and Bluetooth. He had been talking since he walked in the door (hopefully to someone on the phone) and began setting up shop. With his office complete, he sat down and began working on the computer. He hadn’t even stopped to order a drink yet. Was he paralyzed by ambition?

The USA Today article said, “This (the new technology) has the potential to dramatically change lives.”

I remember the day I read in the Bible that God loved me and wanted me to have hope and a wonderful future. (Jer. 29:11) That was the day I began to walk … taking baby steps. Soon I could move my hips, knees, ankles and toes. God is still working on me, but I am no longer paralyzed.

My life has been dramatically changed.

“Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!” 2 Cor. (MSG)

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Breakfast at McDonalds

>> Saturday, May 21, 2011

I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3) and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called, 'Smile.' 

The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway. So, I thought this would be a piece of cake,

literally.....

Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald's one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did. I did not move an inch ... an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved.

As I turned around I smelled a horrible 'dirty body' smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men. As I looked down at the short gentleman close to me, he was 'smiling.' His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God's Light as he searched for acceptance.

He said, 'Good day' as he counted the few coins he had been clutching. The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally challenged and the blue-eyed gentleman was his salvation.....

I held my tears as I stood there with them.

The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted. He said, 'Coffee is all Miss' because that was all they could afford. (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. He just wanted to be warm).

Then I really felt it - the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action. I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman's cold hand.

He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, 'Thank you.'

I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, 'I did not do this for you. God is here working through me to give you hope.'

I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son. When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, 'That is why God gave you to me, Honey, to give me hope.’

That day showed me the pure light of God's sweet love.

I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in 'my project' and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said, 'Can I share this?' I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class.

She began to read. In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald's, my son, the instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student.

I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn:

UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE.

(Author Unknown)

“Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it's needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!” Hebrews 13:1-2 (MSG)

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Amazingly Simple Home Remedies

>> Friday, May 20, 2011

  1. Avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables. Get someone else to hold the vegetables while you chop.

  1. Avoid arguments with the females about lifting the toilet seat. Just use the sink.

  1. For high blood pressure sufferers, simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes. This reduces the pressure on your veins … but remember to use a timer.

  1. A mouse trap placed on top of your alarm clock will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

  1. You only need two tools in life … WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn’t move and it should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn’t move and it does, use the duct tape.

  1. If you can’t fix it with a hammer, you’ve got an electrical problem.

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First Time Mother

>> Thursday, May 19, 2011

She seemed so very tiny with a darling button nose. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. With her fists balled under her chin, her big eyes stared right back. My first child … whose birthday just happens to be today.

It’s been quite a journey. I knew the basics of child care. The diapers and bottles, rocking her or walking the floor, singing songs to her and watching her breathe as she slept. But it takes so much more than that. And no matter how hard you try, you can never be that perfect parent … since there isn’t one.

In the beginning years, I raised her as I had been taught. Now I am very aware of how misguided I was. She was a teenager before I took a different path. But at that age, so many patterns were already ingrained. As I struggled to learn a new way of parenting, one thing didn’t change … my love for her.

Now we are adults together … and I’m so very proud of her. It’s so hard to believe how fast those years have flown by. Even though she will always be my daughter … now she is also my friend. We get our nails done and talk at Starbucks. When I go visit her, she is a very gracious hostess and a great tour guide. I’ve seen everything from Hearst Castle to Westwood in the wee hours of the morning.

Happy birthday to my firstborn.

“…..their children will be a blessing.” Psalm 37:26b (NIV)

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