Monday, December 12, 2016

Do "All Dogs Go to Heaven"???


REMEMBERING JACK...


Jack's favorite place to "Hang Out" was on the couch cushions
by the front window.

(Cairn terriers like to have a place for a "Look-Out",
to see what's going on in their world.)

Most of his time on his couch perch was spent snoozing!
But if Gary opened the refrigerator door,
those eyes would slide open for a peek,
then down he'd jump,
looking for a hand-out!


He was a great companion to all of us...
He would snuggle wherever you put him.
Gary fell in love with him as a little foot warmer.
My grandchildren loved him as a sleeping buddy.


Jack let us do just about anything with him,
without ever so much as a growl or a snarl.
He was probably the most patient dog in the universe!

A great sport...
He was such a little people pleaser!



A guard dog, he was NOT...
He made friends with everyone who came through our door.
...But that is not to say that he didn't become territorial 

in his own fenced yard and bark ferociously
when he felt his area was being threatened by a strange animal!

This Christmas just won't be the same without him... 
SIGH....

...This seems to beg the question:
Do "All Dogs Go to Heaven" as they say in the movie by that title?
I can't answer that question,
but I surely do hope that Jack will be there waiting for me!

My veterinarian said she believes dogs go to heaven.
"God created them"  ...And,
"What would Esther and Gary's heaven look like without Jack in it?"

When I see Jesus Himself,
whether Jack is there or not will probably not be my main concern!
It may be childish to even think about whether Jack is there....
The Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, ends with these words:
"Now we see things imperfectly,
like puzzling reflections in a mirror,
but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.
All that I know now is partial and incomplete,
but then I will know everything completely,
Just as God now knows me completely.
Three things will last forever---
Faith, hope, and love---
and the greatest of these is love."

Hmmmm...
If love lasts forever,
maybe Jack will be there!
He certainly was a very loved little dog!

This week in my Bible study, 
I've been studying the word "COMPASSION".
Whether I see Jack again or not,
I do know that God Our Father is a Compassionate God!
That is the Name that I am featuring for God this week on my

He is also known as
so I am confident that He will find ways to comfort me
...even if it's the loss of a pet!








Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Unwritten Books!

I've been asked to give a talk next week at a Ladies' Luncheon.
I think it will be about
"Books I Did Not Write"!
Often when I am asked to speak, it has to do with the events that triggered the writing of "Joy in the Mourning", the story of surviving the tragedy that took the lives of three of my siblings as we were on the way to our dad's funeral.  Many of the ladies in this group are familiar with this account, so I began thinking and praying about what to talk about.
 I started thinking about the books that I have never written - books about stuff that I have gone through or struggled with.  Some of the books that I have not written are because they have been written by someone else.  One of these is a book by Jan Frank entitled "A Door of Hope".  The really weird thing is, the next book I was going to write was going to be entitled "A Door of Hope", and it was about the very same subject that Jan Frank wrote about!
door-of-hope
The reason I was going to name my next book "A Door of Hope", came from a Bible verse I had read from the book  of Hosea - Hosea 2:15  which says "There I will give back her vineyards to her and transform her Valley of Troubles into a Door of Hope. She will respond to me there, singing with joy as in days long ago in her youth after I had freed her from captivity in Egypt."
Well, I hadn't been to Egypt, but I had walked through my own "Valley of Trouble" in my early years.  I had been sexually molested by two family members, one of which was my very own grandfather on my mother's side!  However, when I read Jan Frank's book, the need to write my own story seemed unnecessary.  Mrs. Frank had a master's degree in counseling, and with her expertise, I was sure that any writing I would do on the subject would pale in comparison!
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The next unwritten book for me would have been about my struggle with trusting God after the death of my nephew Joel.  Joel was like a son to me.  He lived with us on and off through his adolescent and college years, and became the youth pastor at our church. Soon after his marriage, he moved to California and became active in church planting there. Before he was diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer, he and his wife had moved to Hawaii working on video productions along with his work at the Salvation Army.



Joel bravely fought his cancer, undergoing three brain surgeries.  During the process of chemotherapy he had a stoke.  Through it all Joel kept telling us that the Lord had given him a verse, and this whole process he was going through was so that the glory of the Lord would be revealed. His special verse was Isaiah 40:5, "The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
Thousands of prayers went up for Joel as he and his wife posted his progress (or lack of it) on their Facebook page. I couldn't understand how the glory of the Lord was being revealed through his suffering and death. I was still questioning this, when my sister gave me a book entitled "Glory Revealed" by David Nasser.
glory-revealed
The author shared how God receives glory in many ways, but the chapter that captured my attention the most was Chapter 7 - "Glory Revealed Through Suffering".  Mr. Nasser shared how suffering is inescapable, a part of living in a fallen world.  But more than that, suffering reveals God's glory by His being our anchor in the storm.
Joel's sister saw God's glory revealed through Joel's illness before I did.  As we discussed it one day this past summer, she said:
"How could you not see it?
God's glory was revealed in the way he fought his illness.
God's glory was revealed in his attitude toward his suffering.
God's glory was revealed in the way his wife took care of him.
God's glory was revealed in the way both Joel and his wife faced his death,
And God's glory was revealed in the fact they didn't quit trusting God,
even when God didn't answer the way we all wanted."

I'm still in the process of understanding this, but certainly not ready to write a book about it!

**************************************

Okay, so let's move on to Book Number 3 that I did not write!   "A Tearful Celebration".   My friend Joyce gave me this book a year or two ago.  At the time she gave it to me, I just couldn't get into it.  I laid it aside, and then voilah! One day I picked it up and began reading it, and it was just what I needed!  I was still grieving the loss of my nephew Joel, when the cancer came back with a vengeance in my sister Alice.  I truly could not understand God's ways.


a-tearful-celebration
The description of this book on Amazon's website says:  "Trust the God Who Allows THIS? The last thing you want to do when crushed with indescribable pain and suffering is turn to the very God who allows it all to happen. What right does He have, especially now, to ask for your loyalty, your obedience, your love? When cancer took his wife and left him despairing alone, James Means unwillingly had to ask God the same questions facing you. A Tearful Celebration is the candid, pull-no-punches account of his struggle to understand God's ways and to stand firm in the face of incalculable loss. This new edition of a 1986 Gold Medallion finalist will lead you to the place you most truly long to be: right with God and secure in Him again."
Yes!  He kind of described how I felt!  About the time that Joel moved back to California, Alice and her husband Earl moved to Arkansas.  Alice and I became close friends as well as being sisters, especially after her husband died.  I  learned to know the fun side of her, and was happy to have her live nearby.  But when God called Earl, Alice, and their son Joel home within the space of about three years, it was a lot to handle emotionally.
20141024_125527_resized
We all have unwritten stories...  The Apostle John said about Jesus, "And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." John 21:25
Paul the Apostle said, "Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it." 2 Corinthians 3:2
Most of our stories are never published.  All of us have them.   Unwritten stories...  But they are read!  If I did write another book, maybe I would write about "Stubborn Courage". I did a blog post about this, and also gave a talk on it BEFORE my sis passed away.  That's what I want my life to show, whether it's published or not - STUBBORN COURAGE that helps me hang in there and keep trusting God when I don't even know how to pray!!!
So.... that's kind of what I plan on talking about at the women's luncheon.   But when I give a talk, nothing ever seems to come out of my mouth the way I write it down, so we'll see what happens!

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In case you're wondering if I've lost my ability to format this blog,
well, you're partly right!
I tried starting a new blog using WordPress instead of Google,
but it didn't work out so good.
I used the "Copy and Paste" method to transfer it back to this site,
but it kind of threw off the formatting.
Thanks for being kind enough to overlook it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Lady Dignity

The tall teepees are well known in South Dakota
for marking "Rest Stops" along major highways,
and a very welcome sight they are when a "potty break" is needed!

But last month as we were driving across South Dakota on I90 highway,
we saw a new statue beside one of the familiar teepees.

At 50 feet tall, she was hard to miss
surrounded by her intricately made star quilt!


Having a Lakota Sioux in our family,
I had seen many beautiful star quilts.
The "Morning Star" is an important and sacred symbol
to the Sioux, and is equated with honor and dignity.
To the Lakota, the star quilt is considered an essential gift to newly weds.

The statue overlooks the beautiful little town of Chamberlain.
The Chamberlain area is always such a welcome sight
as you drive across the barren South Dakota prairies from east to west.

The outstretched arms of "Lady Dignity" seem to
invite you to come and learn what she can teach you.
You can learn more about her by clicking HERE.

There was another person in history who had outstretched arms...
His arms are still reaching out to all who will receive Him.
His name is Jesus Christ, and one of His names is
The Morning Star!  (Revelation 22:16)
I haven't yet featured that name on my other blog Rock4Today,
which features the Names of God on Rocks.
I guess I'll have to do that one soon!


Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Great Outdoors!

This morning as I was reading about Abraham
 and studying what the Bible has to say about "HOPE",
a few words jumped off the page at me.
When God talked to  Abraham,
HE TOOK HIM OUTSIDE, 
and said 
"Look up at the sky..."
Genesis 9:22


Those words,
 "HE TOOK HIM OUTSIDE",
made me think of how many times God ministers to me
and restores my soul by taking me outside!



God often calls our attention to things in the world
that He has made and takes care of,
and reminds us to
"Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?"
Matthew 6:26

In the book of Job,
God does not explain why Job went through all his troubles,
but in Job chapters 38 and 39,
He simply calls Job's attention to nature.
His language is picturesque...
even mentioning He is the one who
"sets the wild donkeys free"!
Job 39:5



Last night my friend TJ and I went for a walk 
just before the sun set.
"No matter how stressed I am," TJ said,
"I always feel better
 when I get outside and go for a walk."


So maybe you might want to
GO OUTSIDE TODAY
and see what God has to show you!
He said,
"And you will seek Me and find Me,
when you search for Me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13


Maybe, like my friend TJ, you'll find it does you good!
I know it certainly helps me to go outside...
It seems to help me see God in nature,
feel His presence near me,
and remind me of His promises.


Happy Fall!
Thanks for dropping by!
Although I've been marveling at many wonderful Names for God,
I don't have a new one posted this week.
You might find one that meets your need by perusing them all
in my new format at Rock4Today!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pig Roast Tradition


We had just had a big rain,
and "Flash Flood" warnings had been issued.
My husband and I were going down to the river
to see if it had risen very much
when I saw this sign:


We stopped by the little community church,
and found the Chris Wyatt family hard at work!

The storm had knocked out electricity at their home,
but it didn't keep them from coming down to the church
to prepare the annual feast which they do for the rural community
the third weekend of every September.

As soon as Cindy had the food prepared and packaged in foil,
their son carried it down to be put in the barbecue smoker
where it would cook for a few hours.

...And in it went!
Despite the protective gloves,
with each "offering" placed in the fire,
I think a little hair was singed off Chris's arms!

While the cooking process was under way,
my husband and I made our way on down
the beautiful tree-lined drive to the river.

The Buffalo River was definitely up at Woolum,
and some campfire sites were under water. 

Returning to the pig roast,
we asked if there was anything we could do to help.

"More ICE for the drinks," was the answer.

Stories were swapped
while waiting for the food to be done.

We hadn't been back long
when people started arriving,
bringing their food contributions and lawn chairs.

Logger Gary Dean,
 a "pillar" in the little community church,
 not only helped with the barbecuing,
but also brought some of his wife's cooking.


The church yard quickly began to fill,
with everyone finding a spot to sit...

...Entertainment was provided by a local group
from a neighboring county.
Did you think you were seeing turkey
 instead of pork in some of those photos?
Well, you did!
 Both were served.
Cindy said there were quite a few people
who preferred turkey, so they started fixing both.

Chris said that in previous years they had done
the whole pig on a "spit",
but due to so much waste and increased cost
they had improvised their method of cooking.

And then the food was ready for all to enjoy!
...Two long tables full of it!

"...Through LOVE, SERVE one another"
What a contribution this tradition of service is to this small Ozark community!
Many thanks to the Wyatts for starting and carrying on this custom!


Have you checked out my other blog?
You can find it by clicking on Names of God on Rocks!
When you get there, just click on any photo to see that post.
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

"Stubborn Courage"



You may remember last year when I mentioned this mule
in a post I did about a trip to Wyoming.
Mules are known to be a bit stubborn...
But have you ever thought about stubbornness as a good thing?


Earlier this spring I was asked to give a talk
to our Compassionate Friends group,
and the title of my talk was
"STUBBORN COURAGE".

At the time I gave the talk,
I was grieving the affects of cancer
that appeared to be consuming the life of my sister.
A friend of mine had given me a book entitled
"A Tearful Celebration:
Finding God in the Midst of Loss"
by James Means.

Toward the end of the book the author used the term
"STUBBORN COURAGE",
and the words just seemed to jump off the page at me.
I began to write down thoughts about the subject.
Here are a few of them that I shared with our
local Compassionate Friends group.

STUBBORN COURAGE can be a gift from God
to keep us going when we feel like giving up.
It's hanging in there when you don't know
how to handle your feelings,
don't know what to do,
and don't even know how to pray!

STUBBORN COURAGE is a determination
to keep on going even when you feel like God has failed you,
and He hasn't met your expectations.

STUBBORN COURAGE grows my ability to trust God again,
even if He doesn't answer my prayers the way I want.
In the process, He molds my character,
and makes me more understanding of others.

STUBBORN COURAGE helps me to determine to
take control of negative thoughts that would try to get me down.
A counselor friend of mine says,
"You may not be able to control your emotions,
but you CAN control your thoughts,
and your thoughts can change your emotions."
Philippians 4;6-9 tells us not to be anxious,
but to think on good and lovely things,
and then God restores our peace.

STUBBORN COURAGE is putting one foot in front of the other,
trusting God,
muddling through difficulties and challenges,
and then looking back and seeing that God was there all the time!
It was God who dried our tears.
It was God who gave us the strength to go on
when we felt like we could go no further.
It was God who put a friend in our path,
someone to put their arms around us
or give us an encouraging word or smile.
It was God who gave us the courage to HOPE again,
and to DARE TO BELIEVE in His goodness.


Meet my friend Jim Davis,
a cancer survivor,
who lives to encourage
other cancer victims.

In my opinion,
he is someone who exemplifies
STUBBORN COURAGE.

One of his quotes is:
"...Milk the life out of every breath
until the last one comes"!
You can find out more about his story HERE.


Thanks for stopping by!
I hope this post on STUBBORN COURAGE is an encouragement to you.
Many thanks to my husband's cousin,
(and also my friend)
who reminded me of a promise to do this post!
Here it is, Sharon!

Don't forget to check out my Names for God on Rocks
on Rock4Today!




Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Getting Gruff on Graffiti!


The big granite rock had been defaced!
It changed the climate of my childhood beach!

The "Big Rock" was a well-known and well-loved fixture - 
not only to our family,
 but also to the entire small Canadian community who still live near here.
It was large enough to block the chilly wind that came off the lake,
and to give shelter when hovering around campfires
while roasting marshmallows and hot dogs.

The Canadian lake water was often extremely cold, so after a swim,
 if we didn't have a fire to chase away the chill bumps off our bodies,
 we could climb on the rock to soak up some of its stored up warmth from the sun.




So, recalling these pleasant childhood memories,
it was distressing on our recent visit to find graffiti painted on the rock.
My younger sister suggested a plan for removing it.
Her husband bought us some "Graffiti Remover".
Taking her grandchildren with us,
we went to work!



Her granddaughter tackled the smaller rock.

Her grandson was our "water boy",
bringing us the necessary liquid to do our cleaning.

Little by little we could see our progress.

Breaks were needed for a little skipping of rocks...

...or demonstrating the skill of underwater handstands.

It was hard to keep flip-flops on while doing the stunts!

Back to work...

Great job!
And the kids were ready to head back to Grandma's house!


Maybe we didn't get all the graffiti off,
but we made good memories,
and the partial restoration of the lake scene was worth the hard work!

Thinking about that big rock, reminds me of another ROCK
and a song:
"On Christ the Solid Rock I stand...
All other ground is sinking sand..."


Speaking of  ROCKS,
have you checked out my most recent Rock4Today
which features the Names of God on Rocks?
(Click on the highlighted link above to take you there.)