Showing posts with label animals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label animals. Show all posts

Aug 22, 2013

Lessons From a Veterinarian

I awoke one morning recently with some symptoms that I was afraid could mean kidney failure. I was scared because some of the medications I take for rheumatoid arthritis can do that.

The doctor got me in right away and did a few tests. I remember sitting there in his office before the results came back, talking with God. I was wrestling with myself to get to a point of letting it go into God's hands. He answered me with a word picture about taking our dogs to the vet's.

Snickers (our 12-year-old blind terrier)  is quite stoic and usually unfazed with difficulties that come her way. Doodle (a 5-year-old Maltipoo) gets afraid quite easily. But both of them somehow know that the vet is trying to help them when we go. I believe most animals are like this. No veterinarian would hurt an animal on purpose, but sometimes it is necessary to do a painful procedure to protect the animal from something worse.

The thought God challenged me with is this: Do I have as much faith in God as my dog does in the veterinarian? Do I believe that God takes no pleasure in my suffering and would never allow me to go through something painful unless He was protecting me from something worse? Do I believe that God is at least as good as my veterinarian?

There was no condemnation with these thoughts. Actually it was quite comforting as I mulled it over because it reminded me that God is good and was helping me right then, actually protecting me in that moment, whatever the tests showed.

Soon the doctor came in and told me that it was not my kidneys. It turned out to be a side effect from a medication that they were able to change. I was back to normal in a couple of days. But I continue to carry with me the comfort of what God showed me that day: If a bad thing happens, God will only allow it to protect us from something worse. It is something we would choose for ourselves if we could see what God sees. If you are going through a painful trial, I hope you will be encouraged as well. :)


Oct 25, 2012

Relentless as the Forest

I feel closer to God in the hammock in our backyard, especially when breezes tousle the branches above me, all shades of green, a kaleidoscope in the sun. Here, in a city neighborhood, in the hilly, forested part of Arkansas, my oak tree hosts a soprano choir of birds who seem to sing for the joy in it. 

Not far from here, the parking lots make it hard to believe there ever was a forest. Yet today in my hammock there is a distinct sense of the wild places still being present. Perhaps it’s the moss carpeting the rocky ground, mottled now and again with purple violets. Or maybe it’s the little nest of birds in the siding of our house. Yikes! Yes, the forest is still here, waiting. If not held at bay by homes, SUVs, and concrete, it would return, craggy roots imperceptibly yet relentlessly creeping into crevasses and crannies until there were few signs of civilization.

God is like the forest, it seems, patiently waiting to enter a crack in the concrete of the flawless persona we put on for the world. If we were to put aside the weed-eater of busyness and the chain saw of materialism, the Holy Spirit would set up residence in our lives and grow a forest of goodness there. How often does God plant a wildflower only to have it crushed with the steamroller of ambition, paving our lives with humanly achieved successes? What a glorious garden would flourish in our hearts, would we let our Gardner in. But instead, He waits longingly and relentlessly, like the remnants of the forest in our backyard.


This article won first place in the writing contest for the Little Rock Chapter of American Christian Writers in May of 2010.

Jun 15, 2011

What the Dog Dragged In

It was something the dog dragged in, a black amorphous blob on the sofa between his white fluffy paws. Ugh, I thought, and picked it up to throw it away. Insert blood curdling scream. It wasn't yard gook as I had originally thought. It was a DEAD FROG! And I touched it. More screaming.

The frog bore little resemblance to it's former self. The hot June sun had mummified it into a large, black potato chip that crumbled as Lambo chewed on it. "No, no, NO ... bad dog, bad dog!" Still screaming. The dog looked at me genuinely confused. (See how clean and innocent he looks in the picture?)

After washing my hands 4,371 times and donning rubber gloves, an apron, and a surgical mask to separate me as far as possible from said frog, I began to clean up the sofa, and the dog. (OK, I'm kidding about the apron and the mask, but it was tempting.)

Calmer now, I tried to reason with Lambo. "I know that dogs think dead frogs are fine-dining, but people are different. We don't allow dead frogs in the house," I explained as I picked a tiny sea-urchin-like foot out of his fur.

Ironically, a Scripture came to mind. I wax theological in times of duress. It was Proverbs 14:12: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death."

Just like my dog, I sometimes enjoy things that repel God. It's called sin. I may nibble on a little morsel of gossip, but God is horrified (Proverbs 18:8). He won't allow gossip in his house, or stealing, or fornication, or gluttony.

It's because He is different than we are (Isaiah 55:8). He is holy, and he separates himself from our sin like I separated myself from the frog corpse. He also wastes no time in cleaning up our lives.

So next time you're tempted to indulge in something that God calls sin, remember the frog.

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Jun 4, 2011

Blind Dog With a Brave Heart

We have a little 9-year-old, blind terrier mix with the heart of a lion. That is a picture of her standing on the arm of the sofa. She still walks around the edge. She also prefers jumping off the deck (a 3-foot drop) to walking down the stairs!

She gets around the house and yard pretty well, but on her walks she runs with abandon. We take a little woodsy trail most mornings and she's out in front, going for all she's worth. She lives for those walks. They are freedom to her.

You see she can do that because she trusts me to guide her. She knows that I won't let her run into anything or fall off some precipice. I am ashamed to say, we have had a few little mishaps but she trusts me anyway like dogs do.

We humans would do well to trust God the same way. Unlike me, he never makes a mistake. And like me, he loves us and guides us along life's pathway. If your life has taken an unpleasant turn, don't fear. The Flawless One has not erred. He is guiding you along the path that is safest and best for your soul.

Isaiah 42:16

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
   along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
   and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
   I will not forsake them.

Notice, God doesn't say he will give us sight, just that he will guide. Dare to trust like little Snickers that God will safely lead, though you cannot see the way, and run life's race with abandon! And just like Snicker's you'll find God's guidance is your freedom.

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Mar 13, 2011

Love and Honesty

Love and honesty. Love and truth. This pair just can't be separated. Like birds that mate for life, one dies when the other is gone.

Love without honesty becomes spineless sentimentalism. You get a very "nice" person who is incapable of maintaining healthy relationships. He either becomes a doormat or disappoints his friends with promises that never become realities. He is incapable of saying a hard thing when that is the most loving action to take. Love without honesty is dead.

Honesty without love is weaponized. This person bludgeons others with the truth. She becomes a tank rolling over the lives of her friends. She'll say the hard thing, but without sensitivity, and push others away, leaving casualties in her wake. Honesty without love is dead.

But when love is tempered with honesty, you get life and health. You get a person that can set healthy boundaries and gently confront in a way that leaves others feeling perhaps challenged but valued. This person is not "nice" in the worldly sense, but instead, is kind and truthful, attracting others to himself and to God. He is faithful, like a bird that mates for life.



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Feb 18, 2010

Is My Pet in Heaven?

My cat, Beetle, had lived eight years and had fought for his life for eight days. He was not going to win. A tumor blocking his liver function was claiming the victory. The vet was gentle and assured us Beetle would feel no pain from the injection that would take his life. In seconds, Beetle went from being a creature with personality and emotion, looking me in the eye, to a limp bundle of fur. That moment, I knew that Beetle didn’t just disappear. He lived on.

There is strong Scriptural support that animals go to Heaven when they die—not proof, but evidence. Of course, animals are not in need of redemption like humans, so they're not going to be born again by faith, but they groan because of the fall and look forward with eager anticipation to our glorification (Romans 8:22-23).Would they look forward with eager anticipation to something they will never see or experience? I don’t think so.

Animals were first created to be our companions (Gen 2:18-19) and were not eaten by man until after the flood. God saw that Adam needed a companion, so he created the animals before He created Eve. In the Garden of  Eden, humans did not eat animals nor did they eat each other. Before man’s fall, there was no death.

In Numbers 22:28 where Balaam’s donkey speaks it reads, "Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth ..." It doesn't say, "And the Lord spoke through the donkey." God simply opened her mouth and she said what she wanted to, revealing real emotions, real thoughts, and even spiritual insight (e.g., she was afraid of the angel).

In the Hebrew, the word translated "living creature" is the same word translated in other places as “spirit.” It is even translated at times as the “Holy Spirit.”

In Ecclesiastes 3:21 it says, "Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?" This Scripture implies that, even if we don’t know where it goes, animals have spirits just like we do.

Also food for thought: Jesus returns from Heaven on a great white horse.

However, for me, the clincher is in 1 Corinthians 15:39-44 where the Bible talks about the resurrection body. It says that there are many types of flesh or bodies (v.39 NRSV: “Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.” I particularly like The Message: “Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form.” Then ... v44: NRSV: “It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.” —emphasis mine)

I believe that I will see Beetle in Heaven one day. You, too, can take comfort in the evidence Scripture gives us that animals live on.

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Nov 29, 2009


We have a squirrel infestation. I used to like squirrels. Now they are living in our chimney and our attic. They are chewing electrical wires and tormenting the dogs. The companies that eradicate squirrels in our area of the country charge about $5,000! So I have started trapping and releasing these rodents-in-cute-disguise.

Now don't get me wrong, I am a real softie when it comes to animals. So I'm driving out to the country with a small squirrel in my trunk, imagining the stress he will have to go through trying to find food and shelter before he even gets his bearings in a new environment. I imagine him in the rain that is coming later this afternoon. I think of him in the trunk experiencing the unfamiliar motion of a car and being very frightened, and it bothers me.

It bothers me, that is, until I think, Squirrel, this is your lucky day! The alternative to an unplanned move to the country is being euthanized in some way. This journey is actually saving the little rodent's life.

In the same way, when God allows unpleasant circumstances into our lives, we can be sure He is saving us from something even worse. When a trial comes, we can say, "Self, this is your lucky day!" (James 1:2). He might even be saving your life.

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Aug 2, 2009

Kicking the fear habit

How can this little rat be so happy sitting on that bomb? Perhaps he's become willing for the worst to happen?!

That's my technique for overcoming fear. It sounds unpleasant, but I promise if you try it, it will take the power out of any fear you are experiencing. The thinking that gives fear it's power is, If that happens it will be terrible, horrible, beyond my ability to bear! So the first step is to imagine the worst-case scenario, and go there with God in your mind. What would you do? What might God do? Would you survive? If not, what then?

Then comes the next step in the process. Believe for the best to happen! What is the best possible outcome? Imagine it and set your sights on it. This is not presuming upon God, but simply developing a positive outlook. You will be happier if you're believing for the best.

Prepare for the worst; believe for the best, and you will find peace! Promise.

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IMAGE: Blue Sky Disney

Jun 10, 2009

Pink stuff

As many of you know, we have a cat named Ladybug. We adore her. When she comes up and asks for pets or a treat, we are glad to oblige; it gives us pleasure to see her happy and content.

There was a time, though, when Ladybug was sick and I had to give her horrible pink bubble-gum-flavored medicine. She hated it. I’m sure that if she could talk she would have said, “NOOOOO!!! Come on, when was the last time you saw a cat chewing bubble gum? Please not the pink stuff; anything but the pink stuff!” But that was a request we could not accommodate, because if she didn’t take her medicine, something much worse than being forced to swallow the pink stuff could happen to her.

It’s important to note here that I took no pleasure in Ladybug’s suffering. Our episodes with the pink stuff tore at my heart. It would be unthinkable for me to make her suffer that way unless it was for a very important reason.

Somehow Ladybug sensed my good intentions. When I told her it was time for her medicine, she crouched, stiffened with dread, and dug into the carpet as if to hold on for dear life. But she let me pick her up. She didn’t run. Ladybug trusted me and knew I was trying to help her -- even though I think she believed I was stupid and terribly misguided in the way I went about it!

I can’t describe the pleasure I got from knowing that she trusted me anyway.

In the same way, we give God pleasure when we trust Him even through the hard times. My compassion for our cat is nothing in comparison to the infinite compassion of God. As Jesus said, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

Our Father’s will for us is always “good, pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2), although occasionally that good is disguised in the form of “pink stuff.” We can be certain that if the Father doesn’t give us what we want, He will give us something even better.

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Nov 11, 2008

Living With the Question

Are you willing to live with the question?

What?! No way! Not me. I like to figure things out--know the "answer" before proceeding.

I'm reminded of a furry little pet I had once. If I told you what it was, you'd probably stop reading right here, but I loved it. Anyway, let's pretend it was a hamster. She was very affectionate and when she saw me she would often reach up and strain out over her little third-tier precipice trying to get out of her cage and reach me. When I reached in and clasped my fingers around her middle, even before I had my grip she let go with all four feet, completely relaxed, abandoning herself and her safety into my hand.

It touched me to be trusted like that and as I mulled it over I knew that God wanted the same kind of "reckless abandon" from me: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding"
(Proverbs 3:5).

I recently challenged a friend, "Do you have the faith to live with the question?" But it is my own challenge as well. Do I have the faith to let go with "all four feet" and relax into God's hand--not knowing where he will carry me or what the outcome will be. Isn't it the better part of wisdom to hold on to my own safety zone with at least a couple of toes? I mean, really ... completely let go? Come on! I don't like questions; I like answers!
Mouse On WheelI'd rather spend my time on the hamster wheel of life in an analytic frenzy, working to figure it out; striving for the answer. But God longs for our trust! Although He doesn't need anything, He still deeply desires that we would abandon the hamster wheel and leave the questions with Him. It is enough to know the One who IS the Answer. "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us" (1 John).

Papa God, help me to live with the Question because You are the Answer. I choose to believe that I am safe in your hand.

"I give them eternal life, and they shall never lose it or perish throughout the ages. [To all eternity they shall never by any means be destroyed.] And no one is able to snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:28 Amp.).

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