Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Hug from a Dog

My "constant companion", i.e. Lily, loves to give me hugs.
This is something she and I do. I know it is not something she should be doing with other people, but this is "our" moment. I'm sitting at the computer in my swivel chair. She is lying on the floor destroying whatever chew toy she has at the moment, when she stops, comes to my chair, and lays her head on the arm of the chair. This is my signal to stop what I am doing, and swivel to face her, where she then puts her front feet up on my shoulders, and lays down in my lap, back feet still on the floor. She then lays her head down on my chest and I give her a kiss on her long nose, and rub her soft face while she "nibbles" on my robe or clothes, no licking just nibbles. It is a gentle nibble, that symbolized that she loves me, and if she could, would climb right up in my lap; alas she is too big. After we have done this for a few minutes, she gets down and returns to the toy, or falls asleep. She just needed a hug, and knew I needed one too. When we do this, we are both in absolute bliss. She is being "held" by me, just like when she was little enough to hold, and I am having "doggy love" lavished on me in immeasurable proportions.
How many people are actually lucky enough to get hugs from their dogs?
There is something about being shown affection from one of God's creatures, and not a human being. I like to believe that God himself might be giving me a hug. We had a preacher one time who used to refer to the acts of Christians being something like "a little bit of Jesus wrapped up in the flesh". I feel like Lily's hugs are a little bit of God wrapped up in a dog. I find myself alone a lot these days, save my dog, but I am not lacking in affection being shown to me. She is being affectionate at every turn, something that I love receiving.
This might seem a stretch, but God is everywhere, and I know from personal experience, meets our needs in some pretty amazing ways. So at this point in my life, why couldn't He be showing His love for me in the affections of a dog, a shepherding dog, who seems to understand when I need a hug, and some special attention. I will take God's love anyway I can get it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My head feels fuzzy.......

I hate being sick at Christmas. I told Rog it was a good thing I didn't feel like this on Wed. or he would have had a sandwich for Christmas dinner instead of the feast we did have, even though I overdid the sweet potato casserole. I haven't felt this bad in a long time. Roger actually slept in one of the extra bedrooms last night because he didn't want me breathing on him, coughing on him, and just generally being around him. I don't know where I got this, but whoever gave it to me.......yeah, you can have it back. YUCK!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Is Love Enough?

I have finished a book this last week that has impacted me. The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller is a revealing book not just of the story of the prodigal son, but also of the older brother. Each brother in his own way was rebelling against their father.
I have always found people who are in outright rebellion to God much easier to speak to about God. Those who believe they are following all the rules and doing it correctly are very difficult to talk to about God; they think they have all the answers, the formulas. Those in open rebellion know they are failing, and falling, they just haven’t “come to their senses” yet.
I found as I read this book it striped away religious belief, and cultural pressures, to reveal the utter simplicity of the gospel. One son openly rebelled against the times and what was expected of him and walked away, the other stayed, followed his perception of what was expected of him, all the while for his own reasons. The statement that struck me was this:

“Underneath the brother’s sharply different patterns of behavior is the same motivation and aim. Both are using the father in different ways to get the things on which their hearts are really fixed. It was the wealth, not the love of the father, that they believed would make them happy and fulfilled.
At the end of the story, the elder brother has an opportunity to truly delight the father by going into the feast. But his resentful refusal shows that the father’s happiness had never been his goal. When the father reinstates the younger son, to the diminishment of the older son’s share in the estate, the older brother’s heart is laid bare. He does everything he can to hurt and resist his father.”

I love the teachings of Jesus. They are so simple that I know I miss so much so often. This book reminded me of the simplicity of the gospel. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might……………..Love the Lord your God.

Love God.
Love God, not for what He gives you or does for you
Love God.
Love God, not because you’re told to
Love God.
Love God, not out of fear
Love God.
Love God, not out of obligation
Love God.
Love God, with abandonment of all things
Love God.
Love God, above all others
Love God.

Is loving God my ultimate goal without agenda or motive? Serenity wrote last week about loving irresponsibly and it made me think of this passage from the book. Keller shares that “the word “prodigal” does not mean “wayward”, but according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, “recklessly spendthrift.” It means to spend until you have nothing left. This term is therefore as appropriate for describing the father in the story as his younger son. The father’s welcome to the repentant son was literally reckless, because he refused to “reckon” or count his sin against him or demand repayment. This response offended the elder son and most likely the local community.”
He goes on to relate that through Jesus, God did that, spent recklessly, to redeem us.

At this point I think of the great hymn:

Such love!
Such wonderous love!
Such love!
Such wonderous love!
That God should love a sinner such as I! How wonderful is love like this!

Christmas is coming, the celebration of the greatest expenditure of a spendthrift God who paid it all that I might know how much He loves me. Merry, Merry Christmas! God Loves You!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Boy and His Dog

Nic and Lady

There are certain things about certain memories that stick out in your mind. When I have memories of Nicolas as a little boy, or even older they always include a dog. We have always had a dog around as long as our kids have been around. First a Golden Retriever when Audrey was just a toddler, someone stole him. Then a stray Pit Bull we got rid of when the kids were really small and a Collie, that got hit by a car. When Tess the Collie got hit by the car, and our kids were devastated by the loss, we decided that as long as we continued to live on the highway, there would be no more dogs—we couldn’t stand the heartache.
When we moved into our new house, Nic was 10 and Audrey 11, we hadn’t been there a month, when we got a puppy. She grew, and grew and grew, and we never knew for sure just exactly what kind of dog she was, but she was gentle, even tempered, and BIG. We joked that we always knew Nic needed a large animal to play with and it was either a gorilla or a REALLY BIG dog; we opted for the dog. Lady lived for 13 years, and I always told her she had to stick it out till Nic left home because I wasn't sure what I would do with Nic if anything ever happened to her. She went everywhere with him, down into the woods, to the ponds to fish, she was just ALWAYS around. Her health finally got so bad, that one week after Nic graduated from college, and had moved out we had her put down.
Nothing has changed; Nic still loves to play with “the dog”. While he has been home helping Roger pour concrete on the job, he has been getting acquainted with Lily again (he was here when we got her).
Lily loved Nic, he actually took her out in the yard and ran with her, chased her, and threw things for her to chase. (We do these things too, but not with the vim and vigor of a 25 yr old) I captured one picture through the kitchen window (yes, I need to wash the window) which ignited that memory I was thinking of. Nic hugging the dog after a good run, he did that when he was little with our big dog Lady too, only she was the bigger one of the pair then.
Poor Lily didn’t quite know what to think when this really fun person would bend down and scoop her up, but she loved the game, and the guy playing it

It was sooooooo fun to see the grins on their faces when Nic was home. I just had to capture it, and share it. It made Roger and I smile, and laugh, hope it does the same for you.