And God Said……

“Let the earth bring forth living creatures, animals according to their own kind, and man will have dominion over them”

In truth…..

Our experiences with own pets bring questions as to exactly who has dominion. And all would attest to their impact on our lives, as suggested by my own personal  story as follows;

Twelve years ago, He introduced Bri-Am  (Named for two of our grand daughters: Brittany and Amber) to us; A tiny ball of Shitzu/ Poodle fur. During the many years, although we have suffered the passing of many pets, we count none so dear to us as her. Certainly it was due to the fact that were were retired and had offered many hours of lap time.

January  21, 2012, not knowing it would her last with us, we took er to the beauty parlor, had her bathed, and clipped right down to her little toenails. Upon finishing, the parlor called us to pick her up  as “something” was going on with her. My wife, Audrey, found her in what we later knew as a state of congestive heart failure; her breath rattling rapidly in and out of her tiny mouth. With little doubt, our Vet declared her likely terminal, and she was left there for emergency care. Before Audrey arrived home without her, the phone rang with the advise that she should be “put down”. We consented.

Some might commit her remains to a backyard grave or surrender her to a Pet Cemetery; we chose to just remember her as she was the day previous, as she snuggled into our laps looking into our eyes with  unconditional love.

If we were asked; “Does God know of this?” I would say… certainly He does. I might not need a reason for that conclusion, but I do have one;

Two weeks before, I had an agonizing dream of her death, which I shared with Audrey. I had awakened to hear a gentle whine from her place on the floor beside me… to be lifted to a warm place beside me on the bed. Her breathing had stopped. I awoke.

God had walked me through the whole frightening experience. He then saw to it that on the day she died, she would be bathed and clipped, and a fresh dinner of rice and chicken  be set before her (which she strangely declined). He sent me on my daily walk; this time by myself ……as within me was the premonition of her condition, subsequently confirmed by the vet.

The Spirit, even as my tears of grief flowed as I walked “our walk”; He reminded me as He had often done before; “Write about it.. it will be easier to bear”. I searched for my painting of her, finished years before, and hung it on the wall of my studio. I put her collar in my old jacket pocket as I took those same daily walks without her.

We did what we must; move beyond that day to recall the many tender times of forbidden licks of the hand, her loving  obedience, her puppy playfulness, her dutiful protection of our home.

Is there a doggie heaven? I would not argue for it.

But, we we were given the heaven of her company for many years. We celebrate God’s grace and the Spirits’ role in preparation for such events, past and future.

Goodbye little girl, wherever you are… We miss you.

“THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT”

A while ago I  received a forward from one of my Christian friends that talked about cause and effect. It was centered upon the writings of Edward Lorenze, a noted mathematician/meteorologist, that proposed; “Where a small change at one place in a deterministic system can result in large differences in a later state.

It was proposed that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings could produce a hurricane at another place at some distant time.” Or, more understandably; “That a ball placed upon the crest of a hill may run into one of several valleys, depending, among other things; slight differences in initial position.”

I am a lousy mathematician, and I have real trouble with the first option… the second seems reasonable.

The word “determinism” is used suggesting that everything, including every human act, is caused by something, and there is no free will. If it means that the butterfly had no control over the flapping of it’s wings, it hardly attests to the idea that God has given everyone (thing) the choice of it’s course of action.

Can we alternatively believe that our actions, however small can have a profound effects down line? It presents the real question; ” Is there a possibility that the most innocent move on our part can cause a catastrophic result ?”

Contrast this with the tale of Hans Brinker, the little boy who spies a small hole that developed in the town dyke, and he stuck his finger into it. His vision was that the whole town would be washed away if he did not take action. A town was saved that was to become a victim. Some things just don’t work themselves out on their own.

We know that “Cardinal Sins” ( Galations: 5 :19-21: Wrath, greed, sloth, pride lust, envy and gluttony seem to reflect some kind of causal rating system that God would employ in His assessment of seriousness. He judges not just the act itself, but the potential impact on others. He judges our acts of omission on the same scale.

Could it be that He despises inaction as well. We see “holes in dykes” all around us.

Back to the butterfly and the hurricane….Does he not have a better plan for butterflies?

Thank you for staying with me on this one……My head hurts……Yours?

Things GREAT and small

How do we give testimony to our faith? Let’s count the ways.

I have often returned to the past to remember those pivotal moments when I found God working in my life. All of us have our own accounts. We may have been seized dramatically from the jaws of death (as I was…..another story) ; or more often, through many subtle interventions that leave us to scratching our heads, wondering where we should send the thank you card. If we stop long enough in the accounting we will know where. There are so few “accidents” in life’s plan.

I challenge any of us to assess where we are in that journey to God’s heart, or ever count it finished. Rather, it is a process that continues even beyond the days of our lives. God is never through with his challenges… nor will he ever give up on bringing us back to center with large and small blessings.

We might wonder, then, if there is not a danger in building our faith primarily upon those miracles and a “Show me something else” mentality; even to the extent of becoming jaded. We must never qualify God on what He does on any human scale.

We can be sure that we can never be a “completed work”. Further, He will never deprive us of that  glorious anticipation for what is next.

My conclusion then; that God knows all too well that we have short memories. And, often our faith waivers with the tide.

Our belief then, is based upon the hope that He is never finished with us. And, the fact that we will always fall short of ever knowing the scope of His creativity.

This builds direction and purpose into our lives as we wait for His next move.

 

REMEMBER WHEN YOU FLEW?

By 2025 one in five people will be sixty five and older. More than half will be people of color.

Most of us deal with family issues that suggest a growing divide between people and generations.

The common barriers may be attitudes about the future, financial, political, and social. Cultural differences such as choices in music, visual works, and moral standards are the more common topics that tend to that divide.

While oldsters cry; ” Why can things be like they used to be?” The young respond; “Why can’t you catch up with things?” The world is changing! but, many times the unfortunate accent is being placed on being “cool, rad or awesome”.

In past years there were pictures of “groupies”…. not “selfies”.

Now, those were statements guaranteed to create divide because of their’ critical nature. Why should we not care about our image? (unless it’s Linkedin!).  I guess the simplest answer is that our image must go so much deeper than that.  It must include our values, and how we observe them. And, values we do not manufacture ourselves, they are planted in us by our Creator and others along the way.

Grandmas and Grandpas love to tell stories, and get out the album just to talk about the days “when”….. Unfortunately, for many of us, we might not realize the impact of that common connection to the past. There may be no albums and a low regard for traditions; however simple they may have been. That responsibility has always been on the table of the parent of every generation. Build the story of stability and predictability by story and documentation. And, don’t expect it to be heard the first time.

While there may be voices that dismiss the whole idea of remembering the past for a stringer grip on the future: A lot of this stuff might not be cool at the moment, but if we warm up to the idea that much of what was, can, and must happen again, it can be a favorable wind beneath young wings.

And Olsters ? listen more to the new stuff!

Or…… have we given up flying all together?

Pity the man with only one horse to ride

This is a story for young and old…… This is an observation that  I coined some yeas ago. It brings a smile to many. One might view it in the literal context, as in the case of my own daughter who decided many years ago that she must have two horses and many, many other animals. They now as elders , and 25 years hence, question that wisdom as they shovel, and feed, lunge and visit the veterinarian.

Another less troublesome conception is; that we have certain skills that allow us to be clever in more than one area. Right now a am thinking of a noted brain surgeon who entertains us at my Brain Study Group meetings, as a professional level concert pianist.

Short of that, we may have been chosen, perhaps even before birth, to serve God and family. Certainly there is “work” and there is always an alternative or two that give us a another reason to get up in the morning.

The blessing is that in those cases these other options draw our attention away from ourselves and into other opportunities for creative expression, and other people.

Let’s say this is true… what might be the barrier to those discoveries?

Today, it might well be how we seek to be identified; Is it the car we drive, where we live, our exotic tastes and vacations? The more we become self absorbed and “me-like” (And it has nothing to do with age)…….. It is a very large boat with the Media in command.

In the same way, our children are urged to gratify and compete in the same manner. Their engagement in finding, and developing their gifts, being  totally set aside.

Please help them find those “other horses” within them early on. They exist, and they will take them where they may never have gone otherwise.

No shovel, no exotic food, or (pardon me) expensive veterinarian.

P.S. My daughter Christa (now retired) has saddled up several “alternative horses” (in gardening, painting, and restoration).

Her husband Dennis (the ultimate helper) still shovels, feeds, and gives out the pills…. but still looking for another expression for his gifts.

……….If he were to post a sign today,it might be ” WILL TRAVEL…HAVE VEHICLE ?”

My advise? ….”Yes,  it’s parked right outside, and God has the only key !”

STITCHING IN TIME

Mothers have historically been ” the menders”. Your vision may be the same as mine; that of a lady in her rocking chair repairing  socks and garments that have become the victim of time and use. Not that it will give them new or predictable life, but to buy time for when the user can fend for himself or choose a replacement.

The saying:” A stitch in time will save nine ” is a way of saying that if the “stitching ” is early on…….. we will avert serious or maybe an impossible repair later,

This story is about that, but not about mothers and their efforts. It is actually about my father who put that idea to work in a strange….perhaps to some, an insensitive way. It’s not about shirts or socks…..it is about breaking a commandment.

THE STORY

My younger brother, Wayne, and my Dad stopped by the grocery store to pick up some things on their way home. There was a line at the check out and they were left to survey the many  “impulse items” to be found there on the shelves.

Wayne, about six years old, found a Hershey bar to be irresistible, but received a “no” from dad;”Too close to dinner”. As they moved forward to greet the clerk, he quietly slipped it into his jacket. Dad noticed this and made him return it to the shelf.

The ordinarily short return trip home seemed way out of the patte, and Wayne asked “We’re not going home?”…..No answer.

As they pulled into the Police Department parking lot, he was told to come with him inside.

At the front was a desk, where they addressed issues that were presented, Dad walked to the desk and talked privately with the Sargent.

They were led to another office  where Wayne was asked to give personal information, and he was fingerprinted. Wayne was totally shaken and started to cry.

The officer, trying to contain his obvious sensitivity, went through the process that had been requested by my father; essentially, “What happens when people break the law and steal?”

It ended with a group  hug, and a very quiet trip home, followed by a summary of the event at the dinner table, where Mom later said privately; that she did not subscribe to this approach. While it was impossible to get endorsement from Wayne for some years; he became the one who tells the story; that he respected Dad for this “lesson of love”…..And, as he would later joke: “Who knows, I could have become a John Dillinger!”

I would add another saying.. ” As the twig is bent…. so grows the tree”

Wayne, long gone to this world, developed strong limbs, was very grounded, and afforded shelter to anyone in need.

And, as you might expect, the story was not lost on me…….  It left its’ fingerprint as well.

 

DOES LUCK HAVE IT?

“I’m one lucky guy”.  How many times has this tumbled out of our mouths?

To what do we attribute? That in the on-going chance of things, my day came up and I won? I was spared something , or a plan or dream was answered?

We can attribute things to being coincidental, or that we can some days be predictably unlucky….Try a slot machine.

In any case unpredictability would be unsettling to one who feels we have a planned existence, over which there is no control. In the case of the believer ; one might say; “there but for the grace of God, go I” There is an accounting for all things.

This example of giving credit settles the responsibility for an outcome. In it’s own way, this is an act of humility that attests to the fact that we are not in control , and that it was not accidental. A humble person does not get lucky. he is the beneficiary of God’s promises now and in the future. While we can be fortunate, but even the source of  that is our living, breathing , pro-visionary God.

Can we say then; “We are lucky to have God?” Not unless we concede the fact that everybody is equally lucky.

And, that takes the gamble out of the whole thing doesn’t it ?

There, but for the grace of God, goes mankind !