Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I can't hear you....

(Originally written 2/09. But appropriate for today, too.)

As I stood, shivering in the darkness of pre-dawn this morning on the snowy back deck, I called for Lila to come back into the house.
I could see Lila.
Standing just out of reach with her nose in the air, sniffing for predators which might be lurking about in the dark perimeters of the yard.
If she caught the scent of a raccoon, or saw a flash of coyote eyes gleaming from the dark woods, she'd sail off across the snowy field like a flash and I'd never be able to stop her.
Darn her!
Here I was, offering her breakfast and a snuggle in front of the woodstove, but she just wanted to pursue fun and danger. Great.

As it was, she stood totally still and focused on the place where the trees and brambles met the yard, casually ignoring my calls which were growing louder and angrier. More shrill, no doubt. That's got to be soothing to wake up to. I'm sure my neighbors love me lots.

Seriously, it is as though she has dog biscuits stuffed into both ears and refuses to listen to us calling her no matter how we threaten or cajole. She effortlessly ignores the sounds of my calling without a twitch of her ears to signal that she even hears me. Lila can be three feet away from me, literally, but she is so focused on her own agenda she will will not respond at all.

When we go on runs, Lila moves silently and stealthily through the forest, belly low to the ground, never snapping a twig or disturbing a stone as she travels, hoping she'll encounter a bear or a cougar.
(Can you find the bull mastiff in the picture here?)
When she doesn't, (has she ever?) she'll settle for Rod, me and Chopper, leaping suddenly out of the woods and onto the trail and doing her best to terrify us.
She is so sweet and adorable, and we love her to pieces, but Lila is always moving to her own drummer. Her mind is focused entirely on her own agenda which usually has nothing whatsoever to do with ours.

I hate to admit it, but that sometimes reminds me of myself. Often times it takes a rock to fall on my head for God to get my attention back on Him. He can be calling my name and I'll be focused intently on the whatever has captured my attention and not even hear His voice. Sometimes, to be frank, I just don't want to hear it. Have you ever done that?

Like last night during a particularly eye-opening section of my Beth Moore Esther study. It was painful. I didn't want to work through that garbage. I closed the book and my bible and watched a DVRed Office re-run.

How very like Lila I was! Studiously ignoring the calling of my name to come do some learning and gain some valuable knowledge and wisdom. Maybe do some growing and stretching. Because I didn't want to. Because it was hard. Because I had my own agenda.

What a Lila I am!

I can't help but compare this stubborn dog with Chopper, our other bull mastiff.

When he ventures off the trail during our walks, all it takes it one brief call and the crashing and breaking sounds that ensue make it sound like a herd of angry bull elks is charging us.

But no.

It is only Chopper, grinning crazily at us as he bounds back onto the trail. His desire to please is endless and there is no need to entice with treats as he makes us feel it was the biggest pleasure in the world just to see us again.

He responds to us calling his name as though he has been waiting all his life for the sound. He leaps to his feet in an instant and dances happily over to us.
He looks eagerly up into our faces with his laughing eyes, just wanting to know what we want him to do, or where we want him to go.
His joy is all consuming and contagious.
Even when I have to put medicine in his ear, which he hates, he responds with perfect obedience. No running away or pretending he can't hear me calling. Just calm submission.

At the risk of spiritualizing things too much, I want to be like Chopper.
Searching out Jesus' face eagerly and with devotion. Ready to do His will.

So, have you noticed any Lila tendencies in your life lately?

Do you want to be more like Chopper?

Me, too, my friends.

Proverbs 1:24-25
“I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered.

Isaiah 6:8

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!"

Monday, June 21, 2010

How can I stop worrying?

"How can I stop worrying?" That was listed as one of the top AOL searches this morning, along with "employment websites." ,"NASCAR results and "What happened on 'True Blood?'"

The news tells us that there are riots,explosions, skirmishes and wars everywhere, in the streets and at Nordstrom's during the Anniversary Sale. The Earth is being destroyed by spilled oil, global warming and The Bacholerette.

Tornadoes and earthquakes, floods and droughts are more common than not, and strike everywhere. No place is safe. Or is it?

God's word says that those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty and that He is my my refuge, my place of safety, for he is my God and I trust Him. (Psalm 91)

Advertisements tell us we are not thin enough, are balding, have a multitude of physical ailments which we never even heard of and need a new wardrobe so we can even leave the house . And they have an app a pill for that.

God says His grace is enough. And that He will provide what we need.

We all have our daily worries. New jobs, old jobs. No jobs. Illnesses, Why does my back hurt? What am I going to make for dinner, arguments discussions with spouses or kids, THE RAIN THAT WILL NOT STOP, Will these boots go with those jeans? Why is my friend sick? What if the wrong American Idol wins? What if this blog is too long?,What is going to happen tomorrow? Or the next day? (and my worries and concerns are all bigger and more important than yours. Not really. It just sometimes feels like that, doesn't it?)

Charles Spurgeon spoke on addressing our fears and worries in his sermon entitles "My Times are in Your Hands" based on Psalm 31:15 and delivered on May 17, 1891. Here is an excerpt:

"The great truth is this — all that concerns the believer is in the hands of the Almighty God. “My times”, these change and shift; but they change only in accordance with unchanging love, and they shift only according to the purpose of One with whom is no variableness nor shadow of a turning. “My times”, that is to say, my ups and my downs, my health and my sickness, my poverty and my wealth — all those are in the hand of the Lord, who arranges and appoints according to his holy will the length of my days, and the darkness of my nights. Storms and calms vary the seasons at the divine appointment. Whether times are reviving or depressing remains with him who is Lord both of time and of eternity; and we are glad it is so."

"To have our times in God’s hand must mean not only that they are at God’s disposal, but that they are arranged by the highest wisdom. God’s hand never errs; and if our times are in his hand, those times are ordered rightly. We need not puzzle our brains to understand the dispensations of Providence: a much easier and wiser course is open to us; namely, to believe the hand of the Lord works all things for the best. Sit thou still, O child, at thy great Father’s feet, and let him do as seemeth him good! When thou canst not comprehend him, know that a babe cannot understand the wisdom of its sire. Thy Father comprehends all things, though thou dost not: let his wisdom be enough for thee. Everything in the hand of God is where it may be left without anxiety; and it is where it will be carried through to a prosperous issue. Things prosper which are in his hand. “My times are in thy hand,” is an assurance that none can disturb, or pervert, or poison them. In that hand we rest as securely as rests a babe upon its mother’s breast. Where could our interests be so well secured as in the eternal hand? What a blessing it is to see by the eye of faith all things that concern you grasped in the hand of God! What peace as to every matter which could cause anxiety flows into the soul when we see all our hopes built upon so stable a foundation, and preserved by such supreme power! “My times are in thy hand!”
Oh to be able to say 'My times are in his hand.", believe it and then live like I believe it.

“My times are in thy hand.” Does not this reveal the condescension of the Lord? He has all heaven to worship him, and all worlds to govern; and yet “my times” — the times of such an inconsiderable and unworthy person as I am — are in his hand. Now, what is man that it should be so? Wonder of wonders, that God should not only think of me, but should make my concerns his concerns, and take my matters into his hand! He has the stars in his hand, and yet he puts us there. He deigns to take in hand the passing interests of obscure men and lowly women.
Beloved, God is near his people with all his attributes; his wisdom, his power, his faithfulness, his immutability; and these are under oath to work for the good of those who put their trust in him. “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Yes, God considers our times, and thinks them over; with his heart and soul planning to do us good. That august mind, out of which all things spring, bows itself to us; and those eternal wings, which cover the universe, also brood over us and our household, and our daily wants and woes. Our God sits not still as a listless spectator of our griefs, suffering us to be drifted like waifs upon the waters of circumstance; but is busily occupying himself at all times for the defense and perfecting of his children. He leads us that he may bring us home to the place where his flock shall rest for ever."

Then at the end of his sermon, he lets us know there is struggle in his own life:

"I have not been able to preach on this text as I hoped to do, for I am full of pain, and have a heavy headache; but, thank God, I have no heartache, with such a glorious truth before me. Sweet to my soul are these words — “My times are in thy hand.” Take the golden sentence home with you. Keep this truth in your mind. Let it lie on your tongue like a wafer made with honey. Let it dissolve until your whole nature is sweetened by it....“My times are in thy hand.” This little sentence, to my mind, swells into a hymn: it buds and blossoms into a psalm. Few are the words, but mighty is the sense, and full of rest.

Amen, Mr. Spurgeon.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cake Batter

There. I said it.

What is really wrong with enjoying some cake batter now and again? I say nothing is wrong with it. Provided it is not consumed daily. From a cereal bowl.

What IS wrong is that my skinniest sister is taking a Biggest Loser's Boot Camp.

Why is she doing this? Doesn't she know she can just sit down with a bowl of cake batter, a spoon (or a straw) and watch The Bachelorette as they take a gratuitous helicopter ride or cavort on a beach somewhere?

I have to be honest. I just don't get it.

Also, my good friend (who's initials are JEN) is taking some sort of hybrid-Pilates class and now sits up straight thereby making me sit up straighter, even though I really want to slouch some more.

And her husband has mentioned that she is looking like she has "dancer's legs".

Hello, Mikhail Baryshnikov calling...he wants his legs back.

Big whoop, my friend. Big whoop.

Nobody has to tell me that I have the legs of a champion Sumo wrestler a few years past his prime.

And if they DO tell me, I will Take.Them. Down.
I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. (and I eat the occasional bowl of cake batter.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You should be so jealous

(original date: 8/08)

Because Rod and I take the most professional digital photos ever.
Of course I have the proof right here. And you can order copies of any you like especially well.

These are from our trip to the zoo last week.

I'll just make a few editorial comments about each photo, because some have a little story behind them. But mostly I'll try to just keep quiet and let the enormity of our gift speak for itself.

First we have the majestic bald eagle. We caught them looking startlingly unlike themselves and rather like large crows as they groomed themselves.
In fact, you can hardly tell that they are our stately national bird. It is as though we've stripped them of their dignity and basically their identity. That is not easy to do, my friends.

Here, if you look closely, you'll see the elusive zebra. Rather than take a portrait type shot, we have chosen a more subtle view. Like the zebras themselves.
You probably can't even tell what our next little friend is. That is because no one ever thinks to capture the backside of a meercat like we do. Enjoy.

The following two photos would make a lovely framed set. They are the black and white Colobus monkeys. The second picture we zoomed in for a close-up. Our skills defy imagination. (The fence is the story)

The following is one of my favorites. The blurry background and the crisp, clear stalk of grass speak to my soul.
I'm sure you'll agree that we have captured the joyful exuberance of the polar bears playing together in their water here. This was our favorite exhibit of the day.

The next photo was taken in the "Bat Cave" while the bat keeper was in with them cleaning up.(Seriously...not enough money in the world) Rod had just tapped a couple times on the glass, trying to get the bat keeper to turn around and wave at us for a picture. But, strangely, he ignored us and just kept cleaning. We didn't see the warning "DO NOT TAP ON THE GLASS" until we came home and downloaded our pictures.

I don't think the we would have got the gesture we were hoping for if the bat keeper had responded to us. But he shouldn't be too upset. Only a couple bats got upset with Rod's tapping and swooped down on the guy. Hope they don't bite. (If you look closely, you can see the warning on the glass)

Eventually even animal lovers like ourselves get bored with snapping shots of our furry friends and begin taking pictures of each other. In the following picture, you can tell by my expression that I am thinking, "Here I am at the zoo. I'm lookin' good, standing here with my hand on my hip. Oh yeah, I've l've lost so much weight, I bet I look like I did in high school."

Yeah. High school. Hmmm. I look more like I ate three of my high school classmates.

Oh well. I am still wogging and still losing that lovely muffin top that I seem so proud of. Just at a more leisurely pace than I thought, obviously.

This picture comes to mind:

Oh, stop it! If I can't make fun of myself, who can? The clear answer here is NO ONE. So don't even try. Only I can make fun of me, for any reason.

I hope you enjoyed our trip to the zoo through our photographs. If you would like to order copies of any of them, contact me.

FYI: none of the above photos have been edited or Photo Shopped at all. In fact, we don't even KNOW how to use Photo Shop!

I am also thinking of starting a photography blog with hints for beginners and advice for professionals along with a whole gallery of our work for viewing and for sale.

There is a possibilty that I need to have another hobby to fall back on besides the butter.