Thursday, August 22, 2019

Faithful Companion

Gracie Marie is, indeed, my abiding friend.

I don't write about her often but today she deserves a shout out.  You see, Gracie is our silly little black and white K9 companion.  We reference her with several other names, too. Such as:  The Princess; Goat Dog; The Vacuum; Aggravating Mutt and believe me, she has earned each of these monikers.

Gracie Marie
Some days she looks up at us with genuine distain if we dare to suggest she should move from her place on the couch.  She has been seen eating some truly disgusting things and we can always count on her to glean any food the grands may drop under our table.  She chooses the most inopportune times to not come back to me after going outdoors; sometimes making me late for the office.

Gracie is not a large dog but she is almost 13 years old.  So being 91 in doggie years, I guess she has earned the right to be a bit stubborn, rather grouchy and most definitely set in her ways. Today, however, I have only good to tell of the four-legged, fur baby entrusted to us.

What a comfort this little companion provides.  She often helps me feel I'm not alone.  Even though we both work for the church, Frank is away from home more than I with additional meetings and such.  But I never have to feel alone because Gracie is here to study me with her coal black eyes and smile at me with her crooked under bite.  (Oh yes, we also call her the Elvis Dog for that reason.)

She's smart as a whip.

  • She knows that my tennis shoes going on after dinner mean a walk is imminent.  She starts running back and forth from the door to the couch.  
  • She knows our suitcases mean we're going away for awhile.  So she sits with her head on her paws looking up at us like we're traitors.  
  • She knows that when the grandchildren come her safest refuge is our bedroom so she runs to that door and paws to be let in.  
  • She knows that if she comes back in promptly when I'm leaving, she'll earn a treat.  (This she trained ME to do.)

I've spent the past two days trying to get over a terrible something that knocked me flat on my back.  Part of our family was diagnosed with strep and with school starting back there were already several runny noses.  Sleep had been evading me for over a week so I was a prime candidate for whatever this was.

Unfortunately, this is absolutely the worst time I could be sick.  Meagan is due to go into labor at any moment. (In fact, she and Nathan spent 5 hours in triage Tuesday night.  Frank had to go stay with the babies because Noni was fevered.)  John was out with strep.  Joy has gone back to school and needed help.  We have 5 grands in school this year.  (Noah came home from his first full day of kindergarten reporting all that had happened.  Then he paused and said, "Mommy it's just so loooong!" And promptly burst into tears.  Poor boy!  Only 12 more years, Noah.)

All this happening around me and I'm no help whatsoever.  Yesterday, for me, was literally spent moving from the bed to the couch to the recliner and back to the bed.  I usually hate NyQuil but I've chugged it down as though it were the nectar of the gods.  I knew it would help me sleep deeply and that's what I needed most.

Today, I seem to be improving but I'm well aware I must get fully recovered and back on my feet asap.  So, I stayed home from the office one more day to keep resting and to avoid spreading whatever germs are germinating in my nasal system.  (Frank has carried around the Lysol can every minute he's home.)

When I woke this morning, Gracie was there right on my side of the bed.  I had slept well past her normal time for going out but she had waited patiently.  Frank had long been awake and could have let her out but she was waiting for me.  She never whined or barked for me to get up; never even pawed at my covers.  She just waited.

Patiently Waiting
Even as I write this post, she is sprawled out beside my chair. Asking for nothing.  Not even looking my way.  She's simply content just being here with me. 

Gracie has been with us a long time and I know that she won't outlive me.  Someday, I'll have to bid farewell to this faithful companion.  But for today, I'll scratch her ears the way she likes and give her an extra treat for no particular reason at all.  Hopefully, she'll feel as loved as she makes me feel.  I'll finish with the "prayer" we've all seen from time to time. . .

"Lord, please make me the person my dog things I am!"

Monday, August 12, 2019

Morning News

Recently I've become fascinated with this bit of poetry:

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love;
    for I have put my trust in you.
     Show me the way I should go,
       for to you I entrust my life."  (Ps. 143:8 NIV)
It was written by one of my favorites, David, King of Israel. His writings are always so descriptive and make it easy to relate to his circumstances at the time.  For instance, these four lines are tucked away in a longer passage where David is describing the enemies who have been chasing him.  He is calling out to God for help; hoping he hasn't been forgotten in the grand scheme of the universe.  

While busy describing the horrible situation he finds himself in, David can't see anything good.  Then, as he often does, he intentionally turns his attention to the God he serves.  Looking at God's goodness requires looking away from the darkness of the situation.  Sure, the situation is a true nightmare.  But the light of God's faithfulness dissipates any of the shadows where fear can hide.

This has been a month that has leant itself to making me choose my focus.  Will I focus on circumstances or on the faithfulness of God?  Will I believe the report of disappointment or will I believe all things are possible with God?  Will I rehearse curses over the lives of other people or will I rehearse words of blessing?  The choice has been mine.   And although the choice has been clear, it has not always been easy.

Our church did a great series by Andy Stanley, "What Makes You Happy?"  (It's free if you'd like to watch it on Youtube.)  He makes clear that "No Thing makes you happy.  Happiness always involves a Who or Two."  Great, right?

As I studied to share one of the lessons, i was really struck with this premise he taught.  Everyone wants to experience pleasure, that desire is built into our DNA.  But if we dedicate our lives to pursuing pleasure only, that choice will eventually cost us our happiness.  Pleasure is temporary.  But genuine happiness associated with those around us and fulfilling work will carry us throughout life.

I'm just like everyone else.  I would prefer to always be experiencing pleasure; never encountering tears or struggle or defending myself from enemies.  But that isn't reality.  All of life is a struggle of some sort.

Today, my precious friend - Becky - made public a difficult diagnosis she was given last week.  Becky and I have been walking together through life for over 20 years.  We have laughed, cried, encouraged, prayed and listened.  (Actually, lots of listening to one another has gone into our friendship.  What a gift!)  We share grand babies.  We share ministry as pastor's wives.  We share a deep love for God.

Last week I listened as Becky shared a really unsettling prognosis.  My heart was jolted to the core by the numbers and evaluations she was sharing.  But the entire time, I kept remembering other times my precious friend has received negative reports.  Some physical, some emotional.  

With each new wave of trouble, my friend has steadied herself by focusing on promises from God's word.  I've watched her straighten her sagging shoulders; purse her lips with a determined air and march forward.  Her steps seemed to say, "Not giving up today!  Nope, I still believe!"

Because I've seen God be faithful to this amazing lady so many times, I fully expect to write again soon and share the medical intervention that was discovered.  I know there will come a moment where I'm able to report that she is WELL!   

That isn't today.  So along with King David I cry out on behalf of my friend, "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love!"  

Would you please take a moment to pray that with me?  Thank you!  May the morning also bring you news of God's faithfulness.  May you experience His goodness in an amazing way today.