Good Medicine- Our Sadie Dog

 

When Sadie, our Golden Retriever, came to live with us it was because we had tried everything else. Despite our efforts and that of medical science our ten-year-old son, Daniel, hadn’t been able to gain any weight since he was three. In fact, he was so medically fragile that he couldn’t attend school. Daniel has Downs Syndrome and is profoundly retarded but his “failure to thrive” was not a result of the Downs. The inability to gain in spite of a healthy appetite was a mystery. Though he seemed perfectly happy at home, we couldn’t help but think he had to be lonely. When we learned, through a program called Pet Partners, that there are dogs trained specifically for children like Daniel we had to give it a try. Imagine our delight to find that one of the best trainers in the country, Connie Cleveland* , lived only a few miles away. Connie invited us to come to her training facility. She wanted to meet Daniel, and the rest of our family to see if we might be viable candidates for a specially trained dog. Connie concluded that a companion dog could be a good thing for Daniel—well, at least it was worth a try—but she cautioned that we may have a long wait ahead of us. Finding the right dog for a special child sometimes takes years. It was only eight months later when Sadie came to stay. Though an affectionate child at times, Daniel often lives in a world of his own, watching his hands move or experimenting with new motor-boat sounds. The challenge would be to get him to pay attention to Sadie—to get them to bond. So we carefully followed Connie’s instructions. Sadie slept in Daniel’s room. When I fed Sadie I put Daniel nearby so they could “visit” at mealtime. I made her lay by him while the other kids were at school, she rode right beside Daniel in our van as I taxied his siblings to their activities. In spite of all our efforts, however, it was hard to see any progress. The evidence was scant that any bonding was occurring. But one afternoon as I drove to pick my daughter up from school I glanced in my rearview mirror and was surprised to find Daniel’s arm around Sadie. Her head rested on his chest, and his head rested on hers. Daniel had a friend. A few months after Sadie came to live with us Daniel had a check up. He had gained three pounds. Sadie was good medicine for all of us, but for Daniel she was a miracle.   *Connie no longer trains service dogs.

 

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For My Writing and Artist friends….

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Madeleine L’Engle is my writing hero. In honor of her I am going to post here a few quotes from her book, “Walking On Water”, the most incredible book I have ever read on art and writing.

From pg. 18, Walking on Water:     Obedience is an unpopular word nowadays, but the artist must be obedient to the work, whether it be a symphony, a painting, or a story for a small child. I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius, or something very small, comes to the artist and says, “Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me.” And the artist either becomes the bearer of the work, or refuses; but the obedient response is not necessarily a conscious one, and not everyone has the humble, courageous obedience of Mary.

From pg. 55 “Walking on Water”:        An aritist at work is in a condition of complete and total faith.

From pg. 60:         I have to try but that doesn’t mean I have to succeed. Following Christ has nothing to do with success as the world sees success. It has to do with love.

From pg. 67:         I am grateful that I started writing at such an early age, before I realized what a daring thing it is to do…We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are…

From pg. 70:     The discipline of creation, be it to paint, compose, write, is an effort toward wholeness.

From pg. 89:     But unless we are creators, we are not fully alive.

From pg. 105:    Despite our inability to control circumstances, we are given the gift of being free to respond to them in our own way, creatively or destructively.

From pg. 118:    If I have to believe all this limiting of God, then I cannot be a Christian.

From pg. 151: I have a point of view. You have a point of view. But God has VIEW.

From pg. 176:     The refusal to love is the only unbearable thing.

And from pg. 193:    Art is an affirmation of life, a rebuttal of death.

We miss you, Madeleine.

Something’s Missing

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If you look closely at this picture, right there with her little head on my foot, is my pug  Lucy when she was a tiny puppy. I remember that day. It was a writing day, the one day that I had set aside each week to work furiously on whatever writing project was before me. My family knew that on writing day they were on their own. I didn’t cook, clean or referee and they weren’t supposed to interrupt me unless someone was bleeding or something was on fire. I was passionate, determined, persistant and worked hard at learning my craft. I believed that God called me to write and He blessed my efforts with the publication of several books and articles.

Except for the occasional blog, it has been several years since I have done any writing. Life has thrown challenge after challenge at me and frankly, I got tired. Passion, determination and joy require energy. I set down my writing to pick up a fire hose and put out the fires of urgency because I didn’t know what else to do. I was okay with that for a time. But there has remained a deep ache in my heart….a feeling that something was missing. 

I am still weary. I don’t feel passion, determination or joy. But I know, as sure as I know anything, that I am called to write. God doesn’t need me to have energy, passion, determination or joy. He just wants me to obey, one step at a time. Today is my writing day. I will finish this blog and then I will work on my favorite manuscript…..unless someone is bleeding or something is on fire.

So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord. I remember my affliction and my wandering , the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness!

—-Lamentations 3:18-23

Laundry Chute!

Laundry, Chute!

 

A shrill alarm sounds in the hall, then still and quietness.

I rush toward the siren call, to rescue my red dress.

 

The latch released, I close my eyes then lunge into the dark,

to free the poly-cottons from the hot breath of the shark.

 

I dump them on the top of an ever-growing pile,

of jeans and towels and T-shirts that have waited for a while.

 

The dryer’s empty now, and while it’s growing cold,

Prepared to beat the mountain, I finally start to fold.

 

The wash-cloths are so easy, being tiny, square and neat.

But I almost lose my patience when I wrestle with the sheets.

 

“I am finished!” is my cry as I tackle the last frock.

The giant hill has dwindled to a mismatched pair of socks.

 

But victory is brief for as I turn to leave,

Peeking from the hamper is a little bit of sleeve.

 

                                                                             —-Robin Prince Monroe

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Yee Haw!!!

After our golden retriever, Sadie, died I felt lost. I hadn’t realized how much I had depended on her steady, unconditional love to get me through the craziness of my life. She was always there at the end of my days quietly loving me, ready to snuggle me on my bad days and ready to play with me when things were going well. Those first months after she was gone I was so sad that my husband finally told me to go find another dog.

At first I couldn’t. I didn’t want another dog. I wanted Sadie. But I did go to pet stores to look at puppies because just seeing them yawning, licking and playing made me feel a bit better and I went to the library and started reading about dog breeds. Sadie was a big dog. At the end of her life it was difficult for me to get her into our van to take her to the vet so I had decided that I needed a smaller dog. I wanted a small, calm dog….a dog with a personality similar to Sadie’s.

I finally settled on trying to find a pug. The books said that they are mischievious the first year but after they become adults they settle in to being calm. It said they are people dogs, and sturdy enough to withstand the not so gentle love that our special needs son might give.

It wasn’t long before tiny, silly, Lucy Pug came into our lives. She swirled through our house like the Tasmanian Devil. No sweet sympathetic looks or gentle licks, just a twirl of pure-T energy and mischief.

At first I was disappointed. This wasn’t the faithful companion I had been looking for. This was four legged craziness. And I began to wonder what I had done…. But then I started to notice how much I was laughing. I laughed when she climbed up on my shoulder and sat there like a parrot, when she absconded with one of my socks and made me give her a treat to get it back, or when she just cocked head and looked at me with her big, googly eyes.

Lucy wasn’t what I had been looking for. She was a wild ride. But she was fun!

Life is full of “Lucys”. We can choose to throw up our hands and enjoy the ride or we can squench up our eyes and scream for relief.

I’ve decided to enjoy the ride.
Yee Haw!!!

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The Every Day Plan

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My birthday is this week. Sometimes it comes and goes and I don’t think much about it but this  year I have been thinking. I’ve been thinking that I want to make sure that every day counts.

So I’ve come up with a plan and I wanted to share it with you.

Every Day I will:

1. Look for God’s gifts. He is my loving Father and every single day He reaches down to show me His love. I think many times we rush through our days and miss those God hugs. I’m not going to miss, even one, any more.

2. Reach up to hug my Heavenly Father back. I will be thankful for His constant gifts and I will  tell Him I’m thankful. I will keep in mind who He is, The Amazing God of the Universe!, and praise Him. I became a believer when I was a young girl. I remember those first joyful months that before I went to sleep I would reach my arms up toward Heaven to hug God goodnight. I want to have that attitude in my life again. I want to reach up and hug God in some way every day.

3. Make a loving difference. In at least some small way I will do or say something that makes someone feel loved. I will love someone, in some way, every day.

4. Listen. I will listen to the birds songs, the wind, the people I love and the ones who are new to me. I will listen with my ears and with my heart. I will listen to God’s Spirit and His word.

5. Do what I’m called to do. For me that is writing. I have had to set aside my writing in the last few years.  But I know, in my heart of hearts, that I need to get back to it. So every day I will write something; a blog, a letter, an encouraging note or e-mail, a poem, a devotion, something, anything! Even if it is a very few words each day I will write something.

I think if I can do these things my days will count for what matters. What do you think?

 

 

 

A Winding Path

I’ve been working on my resume again. And what a crazy resume it is! It is full of so many diverse experiences that I’m very sure it often gets tossed as soon as it comes in to a potential publisher or employer. There is no box or file that it fits comfortably in. I’ve wrestled with the idea of maybe paring some things off it, to make it fit together better, to make it read more like a novel instead of a book of short stories.  But the truth is, every past job, no matter how different from the one I am applying for will make me better at the next job.

Because, especially if we let it, that’s what life does. Our experiences change us, sometimes a lot, other times ever so slightly, whittling away at the waste and polishing up the wood of our future selves.

I remember a time when prospective employers liked it if you dressed up and came to their office to meet them. They saw this as a sign of initiative and determination and they liked to shake your hand and “look into your eyes” to see what you’re really about. Now that kind of approach is seen as akin to stalking. They don’t want to meet you. They don’t even want you to phone. All that is left you to get their attention is a one page paper list of your  ‘accomplishments’. And if you make it to the “maybe” pile it is only because you have the very specific education and experience they are looking for.

I am convinced that companies miss the very best people because of this new way of hiring. And potential employees miss a chance to contribute in more significant ways, perhaps finding a better fit, a calling.

Luke of the Gospels was a trained physician. From reading his descriptions of illnesses there is no doubt that he would have been a good one. But when he met Christ all that changed for him. He was called to accompany Paul on several of his trips. He was called to being a friend and supporter and perhaps even an assistant to the most famous missionary of all time. He was also called to write, and the gospel he wrote is the most detailed and extensive of the four. This ability to pay attention to detail no doubt was more honed because of his experience and training as a doctor. Doctor-Disciple-Missionary Assistant-Writer. Luke’s career path was diverse and windy.

What is God calling you to do that is a culmination of the experiences and training He has put into your life? According to my resume I am going to be an interpreting, painting, writing; personality coaching, consulting; singing, dancing, Mary Kay, Ninja. How cool is that?

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?” And who will go for us? And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:8

 

 

For My Writing Friends

I know that creativity requires energy so I’m wondering; Do I need to store up energy to be more creative? When I blog does it drip creative energy out of me like a leaky faucet? Do I need to hold back on my blog and my painting for a bit until the pressure becomes so pent up that it explodes into my writing again? Or is this just a brief respite before the next writing project? For the first time, in a very long time, I have some good writing time. I am not blocked. I have ideas. I just haven’t been inspired to sit down and get going.

Sometimes the writing is like a creative vortex. It takes energy from me but then it swirls it around and gives it right back to me…often in greater quantities. Other times it leaves me happily exhausted, like a runner after a marathon.

And since it has been a while since I’ve had a book published I’m not sure why I’m writing anymore. I know that the writing isn’t all about being published, but since I’ve been published, writing things that sit in a drawer where no one- not even family or friends- reads them, doesn’t make a lot of sense to me anymore. What am I doing with my time? What am I doing with my energy?

Except that, there are interesting, sometimes beautiful places in this world, hidden thickets, coves, rocky crests, nooks and crannies, icy cliffs, storms and creatures that no person has ever seen, and no one ever will.

No one, that is, except God, who surely must value their creation.

Making something beautiful, new or interesting just for the sake of making it must be enough.

Secret Places- revisited

There is no one that can see the secret things in my heart, the longings, the joys, the regrets, the acceptance, the pain, the peace. And even I can only see glimpses, when I am brave enough to look. But God sees all of it and He loves me deeply, completely, unconditionally. He doesn’t love me anyway….He loves me all the way.

Lucy the Pug

I have the coolest app on my phone. I can look at it any time and see how many people read my blog that day. I can see all kinds of other stats too like which posts are the most popular and what search words bring the most people to the blog.

Today’s post is in response to that. For in spite of the fact that I think some of my other posts are more useful the most popular post of all is titled Bee-utiful Lucy. It has a picture of Lucy, my pug, dressed in her bee costume. The search words that bring the most people to my blog are pug, dressed up pug, silly pug. Bee-utiful Lucy is especially popular in the U.K. So for all my pug loving friends out there in the States and across the pond, this one’s for you. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some pet lovers may think that it is cruel to dress up an animal. If you are concerned I want to assure you of two things. First, I only dress Lucy up for photo shoots. She is “all natur-al” the rest of the time. And second, when I get Lucy’s clothes out she gets very excited. I think she just likes the extra attention.

If you want to follow Lucy more closely go to her website at: www.LucyThePug.weebly.com

Enjoy!