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and Construction by Debbie Owczarzak
I am a Christian. I love God. I breed, raise, and show English Cocker
Spaniels. I love dogs.
I read a book recently titled "Lessons from a Sheep Dog" by Phillip
Keller. Awesome book. It's a story of a man and a sheep dog who learn
together what it means to be loved and the joy that comes from becoming
all and fulfilling all that God made you and designed you to be.
Keller's book made me reflect on my own relationship with God. It made
me reflect on God's goodness toward me, His love toward me, and His
wisdom in guiding my life. I started to think about how blessed I was to
have a GOOD Master.
I then started thinking about my 16 years raising English Cocker
Spaniels and about all the dogs who have shared my home. It may seem
obvious, but no two dogs are exactly alike in personality and/or
intelligence. To all the dogs, though, I am Master. I am not a perfect
Master, but I try to learn from my mistakes along the way.
Thinking again about my Good Master (God), I asked myself what
specifically motivated me to want to be "good"? I then thought about my
dogs and as their Master, what was it that motivatedthem to want to be
"good"? Looking upward, how do I view God and how do my dogs view me?
Looking downward, how does God view me and how do I view my dogs? The
word I got in my heart was this: Good Master, Good Dog.
I will be sharing here real life stories of my life with my dogs and the
truths about God they have taught me along our journey together.
I love my dogs and want nothing but the best for them. They are
entrusted to my care by God Himself. I am their Master. Should not my
Heavenly Father feel the same toward me as my Good Master...and then
some? I am certain He does.
I pray you are blessed by the God-analogies shared here...and that you
will grow in the love of God to the point that you cling to His every
Word, revel in His goodness, overflow with joy to be in His very
presence, and desire to please Him in all you do.
In Christ and covered in dog hair,
be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the
end of the age.”
I recently had a litter of puppies whelped here – 3
girls. I named them Faith, Hope, and Charity. This
was Journey’s first litter. At first, she was a bit
confused and a little worried, but Journey and I
have a special bond. I stuck by her and comforted
her with soft words and reassuring pets on her head
and belly. She watched my eyes closely and listened
to my words intently…certain I would not leave her
and that I would be with her to help her along the
way. I was there the whole time, I did comfort
her…and everything went well. Momma Journey
continued on to be a wonderful mother and she cared
for her precious girls so tenderly.
Sometimes I think we too enter into “uncharted
waters” of life, where we look around with
confusion, worry, and often fear…fear of the
unknown. God, our Good Master, is not too busy to
notice, or to care. He’s been there already, with
others and with his Son, Jesus, in the garden of
Gethsemane. He doesn’t want us to experience these
dark places alone. God himself promised “I will
never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5,
Deut. 31:6). In these dark places, we can look up,
catch a glimpse of His glory, feel the comfort of
His loving arms, and listen to the small still voice
speaking softly in our ear, “I am with you always”.
Somehow, someway, we make it through with His tender
care and guidance….and we are able to look back and
say “We did it!”.
God cares, God is there…just as I cared and I was
there for my Journey girl. Thank you, God, for
loving us so, and for the blessing of Your wonderful
presence at ALL times.
In Christ and covered in dog hair,
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me,
and do not forbid them; for of such is the
kingdom of heaven.”
I watched my young puppies play in the yard
today. They bounced around joyfully while
exploring their "world". They chewed on sticks,
played "tag", dug holes, and yes, chased a few
newly hatched 17 year cicadas (ICK!!). They had
no cares or worries, they had no agenda or
anywhere they had to be, they were just simply
enjoying life. Watching the puppies play brought
a smile to my face and joy to my heart. I looked
on with pride and delighted over them with
thoughts of, "Those are my kids, look how happy
they are...aren't they cute??!!"
We're adults now. We're all grown up. Life isn't
always just fun and games in the backyard. We
have responsibilities. We have places to be,
people to see, and things to get done. Life is
busy. Nevertheless, sometimes I think we pack
life so full of "things to do" that we miss out
on just simply enjoying life. Yes, God is
pleased when we show ourselves responsible and
hard working. But, I think sometimes He reflects
back to when we were children, when we had few
cares or worries, when we had no agenda or
anywhere we had to be, when we marveled and
played in His creation. He watched us then and
we brought a smile to His face and joy to His
heart. He looked on with pride and delighted
over us with thoughts of "Those are my kids,
look how happy they are...aren't they cute??!!"
No matter how old we get, God doesn't want us to
lose that childhood zeal and love of life. He
doesn't want us so busy with life that we have
no life. Jesus said "I came that they may have
life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). MAKE
time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, the
wonders of His glorious creation. Today I did
just that. I stood on a bench and spent 20
minutes picking and eating unwashed mulberries
off an old tree in the yard....just as I would
have done as a child (only I would have climbed
the tree instead!). I thought about my Good
Master...and I have a feeling He thought about
me too....and smiled, with joy in His heart.
In Christ and covered in dog hair,
" Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as
vast as the heavens; your
faithfulness reaches beyond the
clouds. Your righteousness is like
the mighty mountains, your justice
like the ocean depths. You care for
people and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is your unfailing love,
O God! All humanity finds shelter in
the shadow of your wings. "
I lost my very special “Champ” last
August. He was my best buddy and my
faithful friend, a beautiful dog
inside and out. Champ lived a long,
healthy, and happy life until that
one day, a week shy of his 15th
birthday, when he had that first
stroke. My vet and I did all we
could for Champ. I wanted so badly
for him to rebound and recover.
Three days later, Champ had another
stroke. I had always hoped, when the
time came, that Champ would just “go
peacefully in his sleep”…but it
didn’t end that way. As Champ’s
master, I alone held that final
decision to relieve his suffering. I
alone had to be strong enough to
help him now, and I was, and I did.
It was the right thing to do, the
loving thing to do, the merciful and
compassionate thing to do.
I lost my Father to lung cancer
several years back. I had hoped to
have my Father to share life with
for many more years. We all prayed
for his rebound after chemo and
radiation, and he did well…for a
while. I don’t think anyone can
claim to have all the answers in
life, and I’m sure we all have a
thousand questions to ask God when
we see Him. Nevertheless, one thing
I know is this: just as I loved
Champ, I loved my Dad, and my Dad
was loved by his Dad, his heavenly
Father. As Dad started to fail, we
watched his suffering…and prayed.
God is no stranger to the sufferings
of His children. As Dad’s Good
Master, God alone held that final
decision to relieve Dad’s suffering.
God alone had to be strong enough to
help him now, and He was, and He
did. It was the right thing to do,
the loving thing to do, the merciful
and compassionate thing to do.
With God, the end as we see it is
never really the end as He sees it.
Our hope does not end here. Our
journey does not end with this
temporal life. No, God has a better
place for us, a place we can call
our eternal home…and perhaps Champ
is there right now, begging my Dad
to take him with for a car
ride....to Dad's favorite coffee
shop I am sure.
In Christ and covered in dog hair,
"Give us this day our
I have a mulberry tree which
hangs over my back fence.
The berries are now ripe and
the dogs love to snack on
the fallen berries. They eat
for a while and then go
play. They stop back later,
they eat some more, and then
go play. I suppose if dogs
had opposable thumbs it
might cross their minds to
gather up a big pile and
bring some in for a late
night snack or store some
away for another day in case
I forgot to feed them their
morning kibble. But alas,
they seemed content to just
eat what they wanted from
the tree and then go off to
play….without worry there
might not be any more
Last week I had snacked on
mulberries off that tree,
right there in the yard
while I thought about God’s
goodness and reflected on
the simple joys of life.
Today though, while watching
the dogs eat the fallen
berries, I had the grand
thought of gathering and
filling a BIG tasty bowl of
them for myself for later.
Mmmm, berries and ice cream
for dinner…it’ll be so
yummy! Later, when I went to
wash the bowl of berries,
there appeared a small
spider, then another, then a
little beetle looking thing,
and another. I reluctantly
continued washing and then
tried to eat some (after
all, I had worked so hard to
fill that big bowl!).
Nope…couldn’t do it…couldn’t
get the visions of spiders
and beetles out of my head.
There’s something to that
“daily bread” concept God so
often teaches us in His
Word. As master of my dogs,
it is my responsibility
(without burden) to give my
dogs their daily kibble
meals. In fact, they wake me
each morning to remind me of
this task! Jesus told us in
Matthew 6:11 to pray to our
Father, our Good Master,
this prayer: “and give us
this day, our daily bread”.
There is nothing wrong with
asking God to this
and then trust Him to do
just that! Often though, we
go far beyond this with the
“more is better” mentality
(like I did with the
mulberries!). Or, we worry
there won’t be enough for
tomorrow and so we hoard.
Neither is faith.
Today my dogs taught me
about God. They taught me
it’s ok to pray for
provision and to believe for
God’s blessing. They taught
me to give thanks for what
is given…instead of coveting
what is not. They taught me
to not worry for tomorrow,
but to enjoy the fruit of
today, for as long as it is
called today. Oh, and they
taught me that some things
are better eaten right off
the tree, right then and
there, before you notice the
In Christ and covered in dog
Psalm 63:6-8 (New
King James Version)
"Because You have been
my help, Therefore in
the shadow of Your wings
I will rejoice. My soul
follows close behind
You; Your right hand
upholds me. "
I tell anyone
looking to get an
English Cocker Spaniel
that they should only
get one if they like a
dog to be their shadow.
English Cockers (at
least my kennel lines)
follow you EVERYWHERE.
If you get up from the
couch, they’ll get up
and follow you. If you
head to the bathroom,
they’ll follow you. In
fact, if you close the
bathroom door on them,
they’ll crouch down and
sniff under the door
until you open it! You
will never find your
“Engi” much further than
an arms length away at
any given time. Your
presence is their joy.
Your presence is where
they find rest, peace,
pleasure, and comfort.
My old “Champ” dog was
like this. He could be
in the deepest of sleep
at my feet and if I
stood up and left the
room, somehow he knew my
presence had left him
and he awoke and sought
me out. He was not
“insecure”; he just
delighted to be with me!
He was my shadow for 15
years. My current old
girl, Glory, is 14 years
old and is essentially
blind and mostly deaf
now. Yet, even in her
present condition, she
knows when I am near….or
not, and will seek for
me if she stretches out
her nose and cannot find
my leg. I delight in
knowing she “needs” me,
and it is never a burden
to care for her and help
guide her and keep her
safe throughout the day.
She sleeps by my side
each night, right where
Champ slept before he
passed on last year.
This world and this life
can often throw so much
at us, so many burdens
and cares and problems.
Psalm 63:7 gives us
hope, “Because you have
been my help, therefore
in the shadow of Your
wings I will rejoice”.
God IS our helper and
rest, peace, pleasure,
and comfort is available
to us in the safety of
the shadow of His wings.
But, it is our choice
go there, to remain
there. How do we do
this? The next verse
gives us the way, “My
soul follows close
behind You, Your right
hand upholds me.” God
doesn’t have a choke
collar on us, dragging
us behind Him forcing us
to follow Him, any more
than I had a choke
collar on my Champ or
Glory forcing them to
follow me. My dogs purpose
follow me. Why…because
my right hand upholds
them. That is, my hand
holds good things for
them – a pet, hug, care,
provision, safety, love.
If we truly believed we
would find these things
in God’s loving
presence, in the shadow
of His wings, would we
purpose to seek Him more
earnestly? Would we
purpose to follow behind
Him more closely? I
think we would.
I want to be like an
“Engi” to God….receiving
His love, resting at His
feet, sleeping by His
side…and never farther
than an arm’s length
In Christ and covered in
"Sing to the
Lord, all you
Praise His holy
name. For His
anger lasts only
a moment, but
His favor lasts
Weeping may last
night, but joy
comes with the
to let the dogs
out. I'm still
groggy and my
body is still
moving slow. Oh,
but those dogs,
from the young
ones to the old
is an exciting
time for them!
Its a new day!
they got in
digging holes or
apart their bed.
wondering if I
am still mad at
scuffle they had
with one of
over the much
their brother is
still mad at
them or whether
still be mad at
And, they sure
whether or not
it's going to
rain today and
mess up their
"plans"! No, its
morning and its
a NEW day!!
OK...so I know
"think" like we
think we as
humans can think
too much!! We
spend so much of
our time today
think about how
someone close to
us, or how they
We think about
that argument we
had with our
friend, or our
boss. Are they
still mad at me?
Am I, or should
I, still be mad
at them? I WAS
right, you know.
Is God still mad
at me for when I
acted "ugly", or
for that fill-in-the-blank
I did 10 years
The Psalm here
says God's anger
lasts for a moment
Wow. He's GOD
and even HE only
lets his anger
last a moment
us. If God can
forget" in a moment
why do we carry
for days or
weeks or years
that person who
didn't go the
way we thought
they should and
HE didn't seem
to care (or so
God does not
dwell on the
past, and He
doesn't live in
the past. He
toward us of "His
favor lasts a
He gives us a
NEW day, each
day, to live in
His favor. We
may weep for the
night, but as my
know full well,
"joy comes with
we choose to let
it, and live in
In Christ and
covered in dog
now is, when
years I have
with me and
to which I'd
for the word
kiss, as a
my dogs and
they are not
just a lick
of the hand,
must get to
my face too!
As I thought
I began to
Why DO my
I believe my
an act of
think I am
great as in
great as in all
There is no
one and no
me. I also
dogs lick me
out of a
for who I am
to them –
one into an
have to be
honest, it does
good to know
the love I
of my hand.
says GOD is seeking
What kind of
“worship” do we
once a week,
sing a quick
and tell him
on our rush
out, “See ya
Or, if we do
make time to
Him, do we
to dump our
we can hurry
off to make
more? Do we
if we really
did start to
see Him and
Him for who
He truly is
and who He
wants to be
in our life?
What if we
time to sit
at His feet
awe at the
for all He
is to us -
our good and
or do we
hand as a
the hand of
Lord, let us
know you as
you in all
the point we
back to you,
and on to
to kiss our
in dog hair,
“I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.”
I have a one year old English Cocker Spaniel named “Groovy”. She is a very playful and silly girl. I love her temperament and personality, well, except for maybe one thing. Groovy loves life so much that often times when she is called to come in from outside, she will not want to come in because she would rather stay outside and play. It was sort of cute when she was 6 months old to see her little wheels turning like “Ummmm….do I have to? I REALLY want to stay out here and play!” She’d dance around with her ears perked and eyes alert and wide. Then, I would have to walk out and get her…sometimes even chase her. Now, at a year old, she still stands outside when it is time to come in, but she stands real still with a pitiful look of “Awww….I was having so much fun and now it’s over!!” I still have to walk out to get her, only this time I do not have to chase her. She knows she will not win this “stand off”. I scoop her up, I cradle her in my arms, I give her smooches, and I assure her there will be more fun again later. She kisses back.
Obedience to the Lord is often a rough road to walk….at first. Early on, in our immaturity (or perhaps ignorance), we disobey God by backing away from Him and holding tight to that which we think we so badly want or need in life. We cling to our “moment”, we try to justify why we should be free to enjoy our “moment”, and we fight to keep our “moment”. When we mature a bit more, we begin to obey because we know God is the Authority…but, we still don’t like it and we still don’t understand why God has put a “restriction” on our personal freedoms. While it is good we obeyed, we have not yet moved into obeying from the heart
…which is what God is really after. Why? Because when we get to the point where we obey from the heart, we are at a point where there is no “fighting”, but rather peace and joy. There is peace in not always having to understand the complete wisdom in what God asks of us through simply trusting that God is good, that His love is great, and that He has our best interest at heart. And, there is joy…joy because we know our obedience is pleasing to Him.
Where are we on our road to complete surrender to God and His will and His ways? My girl “Groovy” has traveled the rocky road to now the gravel road, but I am sure she’ll be cruising down that smooth, paved road very soon….especially when she realizes there is a free flowing stream of doggy biscuits awaiting her around that next bend. Perhaps God has our fondest delights and dreams awaiting us around the next bend on our journey? I suspect He does….if we will obey from our heart….and go there.
“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
In Christ and covered in dog hair,
I Corinthians 15:33
“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.”
Well, that didn’t take long…my little “Hope” has learned new things from her big sister, “Groovy”. In my last article, Time for an Obedience Class
, I shared how Groovy has been “testing me” and not coming in from outside when I call her. No sooner did I finish writing the article did my 7 month old “Hope” begin to travel down the same road. If there is one thing I have learned in 16 plus years breeding and raising dogs is that not all behavior is genetic, but much of it is learned….not just from humans, but often from other dogs who share the home (multi-dog homes). Younger, more impressionable dogs often look to the older dogs for guidance as to appropriate and/or acceptable behavior. Bad behavior, such as peeing on the floor, barking excessively, digging, destroying things, and yes, not coming when the master calls, can often quite easily “rub off” on the yet untrained dog. The younger dog can further learn other, more serious, behaviors from doggy peers such as wariness of strangers, object guarding, crate possessiveness, fence fighting, or even general “irritability” issues. Even for dogs, the scripture holds true, “Bad company corrupts good morals”
! On the positive side, if a young dog grows up around other dogs that are happy, outgoing, accepting of strangers, obedient, responsive, and relatively quiet, they have a much better chance of becoming “good dogs”, like their more positive role models. This is what makes a “dam” worth her weight in gold in a breeding program if she herself possesses a sound mind and a gentle heart to pass on and to teach her “children.”
The great Book of Psalms starts right off in Chapter 1 verse 1,“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.”
Sounds pretty and poetic, doesn’t it? But do we heed its practical advice? When we search for direction, for what to do, or for what to think on a matter, who do we ask? When we know something is wrong and we do it anyway because “everyone else is doing it”, what path are we traveling down and with what company? Do we sit by while injustice occurs and even join in on the contempt of the “weak”? Sarcasm and ridicule can often be quite contagious.
If we watch carefully who we walk, stand, and sit around, we are told we can be blessed. Blessed….defined in the Greek as “happy, prosperous, fortunate, and enviable”. What a promise! But, we’ll never see that promise until we choose to follow God, to keep company with Him, and to seek to surround ourselves with those who will lift us up, not bring us down.
I am not losing “Hope”…she and “Groovy” have taken a momentary “detour” down a dead end path. But, they still have the grand matriarch “Joy” to help keep them in line and to give them something positive to imitate. “Joy” is as blessed as any dog can be blessed...and I am blessed to keep her company.
In Christ and covered in dog hair,
"Whiskey" - Before and After
"So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began."
I have a rescue English Cocker here right now named “Whiskey”. Whiskey was found wandering the streets of a Chicago suburb. He was so fat he looked like a whiskey barrel with legs, hence his name. Whiskey was pretty scruffy when he was found…dirty, matted, in need of serious grooming. I groomed him up with the help of a friend and underneath all that curly, matted fur was a beautiful boy! With the support of the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America (ECSCA), the national breed club of which I am a member, Whiskey was treated by a vet for a severe bronchial infection and he is now recovering here at “Golden Gait”, surrounded by all his new friends. Whiskey is happy to be clean, fed, cared for, and loved….but you know what? I think I am just as blessed to have had the opportunity to give, to love, and to help a soul that was lost….and now is found. What joy it brings me to think I was able to play even a small part in helping to “save” his life.
We don’t know the circumstances surrounding how Whiskey got lost. Perhaps he had irresponsible owners. Or, maybe he finally figured out a way to escape his yard so he could chase that cat! (Whiskey is a big time cat chaser). No matter the reason, the fact still remains he was lost…and in need of rescue.
Sometimes I think we too get “lost”…sometimes on purpose, sometimes through circumstances which seem out of our control. We wander about, looking for “home”…empty, hurting, hungry…hungry not for food, but for love. We often try to fill this void with all the world seems to offer, only to discover we are left unsatisfied still…empty, wounded, and searching again.
There is one who sees our wanderings, who sees our emptiness, who sees our pain…he is our heavenly Father who yearns deeply to “rescue us”. The parable of the prodigal son told by Jesus shows us a Father who saw his son while he was “still a long way off” and he delighted at his son’s return home. He didn’t care where the son had been or what he had done, but only that his son was home. The Father’s desire was to shower his son with blessings and affection and love, for his son was lost and now was found! How great was the Father’s love!
Do you need rescue? Do you feel lost? God doesn’t care how you got where you are….whether it was of your own doing or through circumstances out of your control. No matter the reason, God desires to rescue you and to welcome you home. God is not the evil “dog catcher” in the sky who wants to put a noose around your neck and lead you away to “jail”. No, God is as Jesus described Him…the Father who sees you from still a long way off, who feels love and compassion for you, who wishes to run to you, to embrace you, to kiss you and to care for you. If you can see God like this, you are probably more likely to “come when you are called”….and to be rescued yourself….like Mr. Whiskey Barrel.
In Christ and covered in dog hair,
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspottedfrom the world.”
Whiskey and Fritz
I was recruited recently to help with a couple English Cocker
rescue dogs. Now, I needed one more dog activity like I needed a hole in my head. Somehow, though, I made the time to help out. First, there was “Fritz”, the 9 year old dog who just needed a special someone to not be turned off by his age, but rather to see the gentle old soul with a lot of love to give. Then there was “Whiskey”, the red dog found lost, wandering the streets of Chicago. I wrote about Whiskey in my last article, “In Need of Rescue
”. It took a lot of time and effort by a lot of people, but both Fritz the senior and Whiskey the lost have happy endings….we eventually found them forever loving homes.
I, like many of my peers in our national breed club, The English Cocker
Spaniel Club of America, regularly donate money to support rescue efforts. And, money IS needed. However, this time…this time I went beyond donating my pocketbook. For two months I helped get Whiskey cleaned up, trimmed down, and back to health. I grew quite fond of this big love bug! During the same two months, I helped screen homes for Fritz, trying to remain hopeful that someone was going to come through for him. After arranging a quite complicated transfer of Fritz to what we thought was a good fitting home, it was only a week later that the new owner called to return him because he was “too big”. The day I got this news was the same day I delivered Whiskey to his new home. My heart sank, and I had an emotional “meltdown”. I really loved this Whiskey dog, but what if this new person didn
’t? What if Whiskey is returned next week too? So much time and energy and emotion had been poured into these dogs and now my heart broke for them. My heart broke for THEM….such sweet boys who just needed someone to love them, for someone they could love in return. Rescue was so much easier when I could just write a check.
When I first volunteered to help with Fritz and Whiskey, I was reminded of James 1:27. I thought, “Yes, as a responsible
breeder, I should help take responsibility
for the widows (senior dogs) and the orphans (lost dogs) of my breed.” So, I showed myself responsible
, and I donated not just my money but my time to help with Fritz and Whiskey. But, it wasn
’t until that one day, the one day I was getting Fritz back all while sending Whiskey off, that I experienced the true meaning of James 1:27. In my tears, the Lord spoke to my heart, “I want more than your time and your money and your responsibility
…I want your heart”. I asked, “Why? It hurts to give my heart!”. He answered, “Because if I have your heart, I have you not just for Fritz and Whiskey, but I have you forever…for all I wish to save”. He made His point…He had my heart.
James understood this heart of God when he wrote “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble…” To visit…in their trouble.
Sometimes it takes us that trip to the trenches experience in order for God’s heart to become our heart. Sometimes it takes us saving one life before our heart aches to save many. Sometimes it takes risking hurt and loss before we can save the hurt and lost. Sometimes it takes us going beyond responsibility, beyond time, beyond money to see that all our “religious charity” is not what God needs most. He needs our heart. A senior Fritz and an orphan Whiskey taught me that….two rescues…who rescued my heart.
In Christ and covered in dog hair,
"But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear."
My old girl, Glory, will be 15 in another couple months. That's 105 in doggy years. She is pretty much blind and deaf now. Her hips are stiff, her body is frail, and her breath couldn't be helped by a gallon of Listerine. Still, I love every stinky, wobbly, deaf and blind ounce of her. She lay here sleeping beside me right now, snoring away, peaceful as ever. Bedtime is the highlight of our day together. I crawl in to bed, assume the "spoon" position, and "Tiny Tot" (as I call her) wriggles her way into that nook of my belly and rests her dear head right where I can get a good whiff of that sweet breath of hers. I don't mind….it's Tot's breath, and nothing else in the world smells quite like it. Her days are pretty much spent sleeping now. But, when she awakes, she looks around (as best she can with no vision) and she immediately knows whether she is resting at my feet or whether she needs to seek them out again. Maybe my feet smell something like her breath does to me? Either way, she is content as long as she knows she is near me. I am her light and her peace in her dark and silent world…and I am more than happy to be everything she needs me to be.
I think sometimes we can feel like we are alone, walking out life in darkness and silence. Where is God we ask? Why am I going through everything I am going through? Does He hear me? Does He see me? Does He know I am in pain? Does He care at all? I think most of us have been there at one time or another…that cold, dark place where we feel God has abandoned us. Are the feelings real? Are the struggles real? Yes. But, there is a Truth that transcends even our "reality"…God's Word and promise.
Jesus promised us in John 8:12, "I am the light
of the world, he who follows
me will not walk in darkness, but he will have the light of life
". Jesus promised us again in John 10:27, "My sheep hear
, and I know them, and they follow
me". Jesus is our light
. Jesus is the voice
calling out to us. The light
is there for us to follow
. The voice
is there for us to follow
. But, are we ready to follow
? Perhaps if we were, we would see
….because they are there for us…He
is there for us. Jesus is our light and our peace in this often dark and silent world…and He is more than happy to be everything we need him to be.
Glory may be blind and deaf now, but she still follows me wherever I go. She seeks me out…my smell, my touch, my warmth. I am her peace….I always have been….even when she could see me with her eyes and hear my voice with her ears. Nothing has changed really. We're both just a little older….and perhaps just a little more stinky.
In Christ and covered in dog hair,
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. "
Today we went on a road trip. “We” included me and my 3 girls Joy, Groovy, and Hope. My dogs seem to have a sixth sense for knowing when I am packing up for a road trip. The whining starts, the circling starts, the pacing starts….nobody wants to be left behind! Well, except maybe for 8 year old Joy, who is old enough to know all that a road trip entails, but she still chooses to come along anyway. Typically, when I finish loading the van and it is time to get the dogs, the basement door is opened and out comes the herd. They race to the van with tails a wagging. Everyone is excited to go somewhere, anywhere, with Mom.“YEAH! Where are we going, Mom?! This is going to be fun! Thanks for taking us with!”
Not 5 minutes down the road, my one and a half year old Hope girl begins to “quiver” and her memory is jogged as to the last road trip.“Oh, I feel nauseous. This road is bumpy. What have I done? Are we there yet, Mom?”
Two year old Groovy lasts a little longer and then smashes her pitiful little face against the crate door and stares at me.“Mom, can I come out of this crate and sit on your lap? I’d really feel much safer in your arms. Please? Oh, and are we there yet?”
Joy…well, she’s been on enough of these “rides”. She fixes her bed just so and hunkers down for the long haul. She has learned time goes faster when you sleep and let Mom drive. With a little extra consoling, the 3 girls settle in and rest....for a while.
Every couple hours, the “Are we there yet?”
routine repeats. Hope sits up, quivers and shakes, whines, and then wonders why in the world she wanted to go on this road trip to begin with. Groovy gives her pitiful pout and then begs and pleads for release from her “prison” so she can see where we are going. Joy…well, she just sighs and returns to her sleeping…she has long surrendered to the fact that it is best to just let Mom drive.
Have you ever been in a similar situation with God? Has He invited you on a “road trip” and you jumped on board all exited for your new adventure? It all sounded so exciting and how could it not be? After all, *God* was going with you! How long was it before you felt the bumps and turns in the road and you started to get “nauseous”? How long was it before you thought, “My God, what have I done…..can we please turn back, God?”
How long was it before you pleaded, “God, can I please get off this bus?”.
How long was it before you started your pitiful prayers of petition…..“God, are we there yet?”
Sometimes when God invites us on a journey, it isn’t just the destination He is concerned with, but also the journey to
the destination. Can we trust the Master? Do we let Him “drive”, or do we critique and complain and play the part of the annoying back seat driver? Do we whine the whole ride because the journey is taking too long or is too bumpy and is making us nauseous? If we can’t “see out the window”, can we still trust that our Master knows where He’s going and will get us there safely and “on time”?
My old girl,
Joy, she knows me well. She trusts me. She knows how to rest and let me drive. The ride might be bumpy, it might be long, but she chooses to join me on the journey anyway…wherever it leads. Sometimes it is to the vet’s office….not always “pleasant”, but still necessary for her well being. Sometimes though, like this time, it is for a week long “camping trip” with Mom at a hotel. What could be more great than kicking back with Mom, eating bon bons, playing with toys, chewing on bones, and sleeping on the bed for an entire week?! Lord, let me learn a lesson from Joy. You know where you want to take me, when you want me to get there, and what you want me to see or learn along the way. You are the driver, you are my
driver. I will trust you on this journey, no matter the twists, turns, and bumps. I choose to have joy in the journey
because you are with me…and there’s no other place I’d rather be than with you.
In Christ and covered in dog hair,