Pets

The Bear Lives

As a little girl I lived in full expectation my stuffed animals would one day come to life. My sister and I would tuck ourselves in our bedroom closet, close our eyes tight, and cover our heads in belief our little friends would drop from the trees of the play land we’d imagined in our heads. And almost every night, I’d pray God would do some miracle and I’d wake up to a room full of furry, friendly animals.

My favored candidate for transformation was a bear named Happy. I’d gotten the buff-colored, pointy-eared bear at a garage sale and loved it’s furry hair right off. It wasn’t the most beautiful sight by the time I was done with it. The orange-rimmed brown eyes were literally hanging by a thread. But the bear was clearly well-loved.

Many years passed, and most of my childhood toys, if they hadn’t suffered the fate of the dump truck, went the way of the neighborhood garage sale. My sentimental sister kept a few of our favorite bears, who survived long enough to meet our own children. But none of them came to life. Until one day.

She was THAT puppy who stood out from the rest. While the others clamored and clawed for food and attention, she sat quietly in the corner, shifting on her paws and pleading with her big brown eyes. I didn’t recognize her at first. Her ears were floppy and her topcoat was a greyish black. When we took her home and cleaned her up, I was met with a vague sense of familiarity. We trimmed off that topcoat to reveal a gloriously fluffy buff-colored coat of hair. And eventually, those floppy ears tipped upward.

I’m not saying my puppy Jazzie is my teddy bear incarnate. Her brown eyes aren’t rimmed with orange or hanging by a thread (thankfully). But I do find it funny that whenever I take her for a walk, people comment that she looks like a walking teddy bear. And when asked what breed Jazzie is, my daughter proudly replies, “She’s a puppy-bear!”

I believe my God has a keen sense of humor and an infinitely great memory. He remembered that prayer prayed in pure, childlike faith so many years ago, and he delights to show his love in the little things. This small answered prayer is a picture of the far more significant ways God has remembered me.

Take a look back at your own life, and you’ll see it, too. Little things no one could have known. The simplest, most pure desires of your heart. Things that say…you are remembered.

“Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? Even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:15-16)

Source: The Bear Lives

My Feline Alarm Clock

It’s five in the morning, and something is scratching at the wood under my bed. Forcing my eyes open and my body to motion, I place my feet in my slippers and take one step forward, only to trip. Over my cat. Who’s darting out from under my bed with a look of smug satisfaction on her face. Phase one of her morning mission, accomplished. As she heads confidently to her food cabinet, she doesn’t know I’ve closed the door and crawled back in bed.

At 5:02, phase two of her mission is under way. She’s scratching at the door while I’m thinking how much I love my dog. Come 5:05, the scratching persists. I open the door and put on my best grouchy face, which isn’t so hard about now. Maybe she’ll get the hint. Instead, she tilts her head as her pupils triple in size. “Meow?” It sounds like she’s saying “now.” I shut the door gently as possible and crawl back in bed.

At 5:30, she’s on phase 12 of her morning mission: running down the hall and pouncing off the door. I’m wondering why we invested in an alarm clock when we have such a persistent cat. And thinking—if only I were this persistent, I might get more accomplished.

Annoyed as I am by my cat, I want to be like her. She’s persistent, even when she doesn’t get the results she wants when she wants them. When it comes to writing, it can be hard to persevere when we pour all our efforts into an article, blog, or book but don’t see immediate results. As for my cat, she knows eventually I’ll wake up and feed her. When it comes to writing, I need to know eventually I’ll see results—even if it’s the life of one person changed by something I’ve written.

It’s the same with love. There are times when it’s hard to love. There are times when we give love, but don’t receive it in return. There are times when we love someone through a difficult stage in life, yet don’t see the change we long to see. But true love requires persistence. If we stop loving when things get tough, it was never true love to begin with. True love persists in spite of obstacles. It “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” True love never fails.

Source: My Feline Alarm Clock

Embracing Change

Beyond_InItsTime

The dog wasn’t happy when the baby came home. For weeks she sulked on the armchair looking lost. I’d never seen her so sad.

Prior to that, she’d happily occupied her place on my lap, assured of her purpose in our family. She was a lap dog, devoted in her mission to comfort and cuddle. Now, it seemed, the baby had taken that role. My sweet puppy lingered in her saddened state for much of the baby’s first year, despite our consistent reassurance of love.

As the baby grew, things started to change…again. The dog seemed to sense it. Suddenly, her little rival was transforming into a friend—someone new to cuddle and play with. Soon they were inseparable. And when the second baby came along, the dog was unfazed. She knew the little lap-thief was a future companion. Unhappy as she was when things first changed, she’s now reaping the benefits of two pint-sized best friends.

Change is never comfortable when it comes. We lose our bearings and struggle to find our footing. But if we can look beyond the moment of change to the ultimate outcome, we may more readily embrace it. Faith enables us to see change as a seed, piercing the ground and transforming the soil. Our response is to patiently wait, knowing the seed will transform into something beautiful in its time.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Cats, Dogs, and the Scales of Justice

Scales of Justice from Google ImagesI never would have guessed my dog had a dark side. The cat, yeah. That was a no-brainer. She’s haunted our countertops from the time we took her in. But my innocent little puppy bear could do no wrong. Until the day I caught her in action.

Prior to that day, the cat always took the blame for the disappearing food phenomenon in our household. And yet she kept meowing for more. I couldn’t figure out why she was acting so hungry despite regular mealtimes and stolen side-dishes. So I decided to keep vigil. That’s when I found the true culprit.

Thing is, the dog wasn’t even remorseful when I caught her—sneaking food from the cat’s dish. Snatching entire meals from the baby’s highchair tray. Hijacking my daughter’s afternoon snack right out of her hands. No, the dog did not have her tail between her legs when caught red-pawed. She just looked at me with those brown teddy bear eyes, licked her furry lips, and wagged her tail as if to say, “Yum.”

There’s no question I love my dog. BUT I also love my kids and my cat. It wasn’t fair for them to starve while the dog had her fill. I had to take action. If caught food-snatching, she’d get a time-out in her carrier. The child safety gate became a barrier between her and every potential food venue except her own. And I had to keep her separate from the cat and kids during mealtime.

Sometimes we think of God’s judgment as unloving, but nothing could be further from the truth. Because of his love, he hates injustice and in his perfect time will take action to protect the oppressed. Tracing the roots of God’s judgments in Bible times, we find it was always directed toward injustice. How loving would it be to let injustice persist while the poor endure the burden of oppression? On a far smaller scale, how loving would it be for me to let the dog have all the food while the others I love went without?

God is a God of love, and his love is just. In his justice, he will protect the fatherless and the widow. He will stand on behalf of the oppressed. The chains of injustice will not prevail. Because there cannot be love without justice, nor justice without love.

“The Lord executes justice for the oppressed; he gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; he raises up those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous; he protects the strangers. He supports the fatherless and the widow, but He thwarts the way of the wicked.” (Psalm 146:7-9)

True Love…is JUST (Day 47, #50ShadesOfTrueLove)

The Bear Lives

MyPuppyBear As a little girl I lived in full expectation my stuffed animals would one day come to life. My sister and I would tuck ourselves in our bedroom closet, close our eyes tight, and cover our heads in belief our little friends would drop from the trees of the play land we’d imagined in our heads. And almost every night, I’d pray God would do some miracle and I’d wake up to a room full of furry, friendly animals.

My favored candidate for transformation was a bear named Happy. I’d gotten the buff-colored, pointy-eared bear at a garage sale and loved it’s furry hair right off. It wasn’t the most beautiful sight by the time I was done with it. The orange-rimmed brown eyes were literally hanging by a thread. But the bear was clearly well-loved.

Many years passed, and most of my childhood toys, if they hadn’t suffered the fate of the dump truck, went the way of the neighborhood garage sale. My sentimental sister kept a few of our favorite bears, who survived long enough to meet our own children. But none of them came to life. Until one day.

She was THAT puppy who stood out from the rest. While the others clamored and clawed for food and attention, she sat quietly in the corner, shifting on her paws and pleading with her big brown eyes. I didn’t recognize her at first. Her ears were floppy and her topcoat was a greyish black. When we took her home and cleaned her up, I was met with a vague sense of familiarity. We trimmed off that topcoat to reveal a gloriously fluffy buff-colored coat of hair. And eventually, those floppy ears tipped upward.

I’m not saying my puppy Jazzie is my teddy bear incarnate. Her brown eyes aren’t rimmed with orange or hanging by a thread (thankfully). But I do find it funny that whenever I take her for a walk, people comment that she looks like a walking teddy bear. And when asked what breed Jazzie is, my daughter proudly replies, “She’s a puppy-bear!”

I believe my God has a keen sense of humor and an infinitely great memory. He remembered that prayer prayed in pure, childlike faith so many years ago, and he delights to show his love in the little things. This small answered prayer is a picture of the far more significant ways God has remembered me.

Take a look back at your own life, and you’ll see it, too. Little things no one could have known. The simplest, most pure desires of your heart. Things that say…you are remembered.

“Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? Even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:15-16)

True Love…REMEMBERS (Day 23, #50ShadesOfTrueLove)

My Feline Alarm Clock

Cat at Door from Bing Images It’s five in the morning, and something is scratching at the wood under my bed. Forcing my eyes open and my body to motion, I place my feet in my slippers and take one step forward, only to trip. Over my cat. Who’s darting out from under my bed with a look of smug satisfaction on her face. Phase one of her morning mission, accomplished. As she heads confidently to her food cabinet, she doesn’t know I’ve closed the door and crawled back in bed.

At 5:02, phase two of her mission is under way. She’s scratching at the door while I’m thinking how much I love my dog. Come 5:05, the scratching persists. I open the door and put on my best grouchy face, which isn’t so hard about now. Maybe she’ll get the hint. Instead, she tilts her head as her pupils triple in size. “Meow?” It sounds like she’s saying “now.” I shut the door gently as possible and crawl back in bed.

At 5:30, she’s on phase 12 of her morning mission: running down the hall and pouncing off the door. I’m wondering why we invested in an alarm clock when we have such a persistent cat. And thinking—if only I were this persistent, I might get more accomplished.

Annoyed as I am by my cat, I want to be like her. She’s persistent, even when she doesn’t get the results she wants when she wants them. When it comes to writing, it can be hard to persevere when we pour all our efforts into an article, blog, or book but don’t see immediate results. As for my cat, she knows eventually I’ll wake up and feed her. When it comes to writing, I need to know eventually I’ll see results—even if it’s the life of one person changed by something I’ve written.

It’s the same with love. There are times when it’s hard to love. There are times when we give love, but don’t receive it in return. There are times when we love someone through a difficult stage in life, yet don’t see the change we long to see. But true love requires persistence. If we stop loving when things get tough, it was never true love to begin with. True love persists in spite of obstacles. It “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” True love never fails.

True Love…is PERSISTENT (Day 16, #50ShadesOfTrueLove)

It Ain’t Always Easy

Hard Work Street Signs from Google Images It’s easy to love your kids when they’re being sweet. When my daughter tells me she loves me “more than all the stars” and my son tells me I make him “shoooo happy” and they both shower my face with kisses, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to love them back. But there are days. Days when big sister doesn’t want to share and little brother won’t stop screaming at that impossibly ear-piercing pitch. Days when little princess decides she doesn’t have to listen unless it involves cookies, and little prince decrees the toilet his new waterpark.

It’s easy to love your new puppy when the little furball first comes home and showers you with love. But just wait until she showers your carpet with something else and chooses your best shoes as her new favorite toy. And that cute little stray kitty you found in your back yard? She’ll hypnotize you with those dilating pupils but one day she’ll hack up a fur ball at four a.m. or help herself to that dinner you spent hours cooking.

And what about Prince Charming? He holds the door for you, and you’re walking on air. He holds your hand, and your heart melts. He looks in your eyes, hanging on your every word, and you know he’s a keeper. Then kids come along and doors are forgotten, and who has a free hand to hold? And you pour out the depths of your heart only to watch him turn up the radio to catch the next play of the game.

Love is not easy. Anyone who’s had a pet, or a kid, or a relationship of any kind…KNOWS. The secret is out. If you care enough about someone, you’re in for some hard work. There are times when love is as easy as downing a chunk of chocolate cake, and times when its like scaling a rocky cliff. There are times when you flow in love, and times when you choose to love.

But as much as love is hard, it’s also something else. WORTH IT. For each moment I endure of quarrelling kids, there are thousands more of smiles and hugs and kisses and fun. I’ve cleaned up after my furry friends more times than I care to count, knowing how much joy they bring to my kids and warmth they bring to my home. And my Prince Charming? He’s still my prince, and he’s still charming. He’s also my friend and teammate and encourager and so much more. Beyond the hard work that is love, there are priceless blessings and countless times of saying, “So glad I stuck with it, no matter how hard it’s been.” And it’s been hard. But it’s so worth it.

True Love…is HARD WORK (Day 15, #50ShadesOfTrueLove)