Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's All Relative

I have noticed lately that people have had a fascination with reporting on what is going on in their lives. I don't mean the typical Facebook status or even bit of news that has typically kept us all in touch...but every facet of the struggles that they face.  Oh, and by the way, I realize that I am probably one of the worst in this regard.  I learned long ago that "there is more room outside than in" - so I tend to be more direct about the things that frustrate me in life so that I don't sit here and stew over them.  Because nothing is as bad as a stewed on issue that boils over into a bitter cauldron of anger, despair, or frustration.

Sometimes you just have to pour that whole concoction out and start over.  Literally.

Everyone has things that bother them...football games that don't end right, people that don't call when they should, or hitting every red light on a morning when your hair already looks bad and your complexion even worse.  Sometimes it is the waiting for a child to meet their "significant other" or someone to notice that you are excellent at your job, or having a car that thinks that everything on it needs to be repaired the month that the Christmas bills are coming in.  Maybe you don't like the political landscape, your neighbor's barking dog, or the family member who insists on being independent when that is either impossible or impractical.

It is all relative.

We all stop and pray for the family who is sincerely struggling.  The child who is taking cancer treatments.  The young family who just lost a parent in an accident.  The house that burned to the ground. We all see that these are extreme cases...and we all know that we need to rally around these families and offer comfort and sustenance when we can.  But too often...we only see the naggling details of life that have worn themselves out on our prayer lists and these problems creep into our consciousness as larger than life.

Because to us...they are.

We need to have perspective about whatever it is that bothers us and understand that in the grand scheme of things...it isn't the end of the world.  Time heals a lot, corrects most, and marches on...whether we are happy about that or not.

A lot of people spend time wishing it away.  They want to be older, or out of debt, or waking up on a Saturday morning.  They shoot an arrow of hope toward the future and declare that when they get to that point...they'll be happy.  When they are thin.  When they are retired.  When they are loved.

The truth is...it is all relative.

I am not saying that disappointed hopes are insignificant.  Because they are not.  I mean..."hope deferred makes the heart sick."  That's the Bible, by the way.  We all hope for a life that is rich, joyful, healthy, fun, easy, and meaningful.  But sometimes that isn't our lot in life.  Some of us were made to struggle.  Either because of our choices or because God is to be glorified through it.  Our only job is to trust and to assume that everything is going to come together for our good.

Because it will.  Just probably not on your timetable.  And possibly not on this side of the great beyond.

So, as you go through your day revealing your troubles to your friends and family...remember...it is all relative.  We go through life assuming that people are okay because they don't "share" with us, and we believe that our troubles are far more difficult to bear than in actuality they are.  We just forget that sometimes.

If you are struggling, do not be afraid to ask people to help you.  Just make sure that you've prayed about it first, and asked God to whom you should reveal what is going on with you.  Don't pick the obvious person...because most of the time...the person who God will use to help you is not going to be your first choice.  Or even your fifteenth.  But He will send the right person.  If you are tired of rewriting the same prayer request...and have given up to some degree...stop right now.  Stop thinking about this in your own strength.  Your problems are momentary...and fleeting...to a God who can move mountains.

Remember to keep everything in perspective.  The good in life...and the bad.  Don't ever doubt that He is in control...and that He will give you a peace that people who do not know him cannot fathom.  This is a biblical promise as well.  And while you are waiting...praise Him.  Praise Him for the little puppy who sleeps by your feet and thinks that you are the most incredible creature on earth.  Praise Him for the friends who make you laugh, who support you when you need it, and who are going to love you even when you are unlovely.  Praise Him for a full belly, indoor plumbing, freedom, and the job you have.  Praise Him for sight, the smell of fresh bread baking, and the sound of birds chirping in the spring.  Praise Him for loving you in spite of everything that you know about yourself...and you are aware that He knows as well.  Praise Him for what is going right in your life...even if it is as simple as having a child that speaks to you and your electric bill paid.

Because there are a lot of people out there who are struggling with all of these...and more.  And when you are knotting a piece of the end of your rope...just hang on.  After all, it is all relative.  Years from now, you will come back to this point in time...and will realize that this was a place where your faith grew and your hope was refreshed.

Because it is.  Have a great day, folks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Dogs

It is a Wednesday morning in January, raining outside, and I am currently listening to the sound of the dog bowls against the wood floors.  It isn't as if more food is going to magically appear, but my dogs cannot fathom the idea that the food comes and goes so quickly.  Dixie is standing beside Riley's feeding dish in the vain hope that he will have left something...because with all of the licking, you'd think she'd know that this is a virtual impossibility.

But every morning...same thing.  The only variation is that sometimes Riley will go to Dixie's plate and lick it for awhile.  Which is what is going on this morning. Still.

Sometimes life with dogs is like "Groundhog Day."  They know the alarm going off on the phone means that I'm either going to get up immediately or I'm going to stay in bed.  That doesn't mean that they won't do what they can to coax me out of bed...because they paw the side of the bed excitedly every morning just in case.  They even seem to understand that on Saturday mornings that alarm is going off later...because they always seem to be doing exactly the same thing every morning.  Dixie will be asleep on an old pillow beside my bed and Riley will be under the bed snoring.


The vet said that Riley snores because he is a shih tzu...and that he'll outgrow it as he gets older.  That those cute little faces mean that there is very little room between the nose and the mouth and sometimes they "snort" until they grow into themselves.  Honestly, I don't care if he outgrows it or not as long as he's healthy otherwise.  Yes, he sounds a bit like a baby pig...but that's really okay with me.

Big Dave will get up to go shower and Riley will do a soft growl as a kind of "good morning!" to him.  There is no love lost between Riley and Big Dave...but they don't dislike each other.  Riley just chose me...and after Rebel thought that Big Dave hung the moon and stars...it is a bit of a change.  Riley greets him like this just about every time he enters a room that I am in.  Sometimes he barks, too.  It isn't because Big Dave has ever done anything to him...he's been like this since we brought him home.  It is almost as if Riley resents Big Dave for being in the big bed where I sleep and refusing to let him sleep there too.

Today I will be taking them to be "beautified" - which means that they are going to be loaded up and taken to Petco for grooming.  Dixie doesn't really mind this...because she knows that she'll be able to see, and Riley is one of those dogs that just freezes when he gets stressed out.  So, he's actually quite perfect to groom.  He'll just stand there while they do whatever they have to do.  He's actually got the best hair of any of the dogs I've owned...with the exception of Harley...and even though he looks like a white mop if I fail to brush him (which isn't often)...he normally doesn't mat and look like one of those sad little dogs in the commercials with the Sarah McLachlan soundtrack.  Of course, I'm taking him today because I still get the puppy grooming price as he will be six months old on the 23rd.

Hey, in today's economy...you take whatever discounts you can get.

I think that pet ownership is a marvelous thing.  Jill went another direction...to cats.  Living in an apartment and having the schedule that she does...a dog just wouldn't be ideal for her.  So, she rescued one cat that was being fostered (Leo) and another one from the local pound (Taylor).  Cats don't really care if you are gone all day as long as they can sleep on your pillow and have enough dry food to keep them satisfied.  Plus, they are easily pottytrained. To me, that pottytraining thing is the only downside to owning dogs.  And sometimes, it is a big downside.


The other downside is that they don't stay with us long enough.  They become part of our family and then their lifespan is far shorter than we'd like it to be.  I have lost three dogs in my married life and each time a little piece of my heart went with them.  I like to think that they are running with the angels and getting into mischief.  When Rebel died in October, all I could think was that my sweet mother-in-law was probably going, "Rebel!  What are you doing up here?"  I'm sure that they are keeping each other company.

Life is richer with those sweet creatures that lick our legs when we get out of the shower to help us dry off, and sleep beside us to ward off anything that might try to harm us.  That have us trained in spite of the fact that we think we have them trained.  Who will sit with us silently while we cry and will always be happy to see us.  Who give us puppies to love and then understand when those puppies disappear one by one until life returns to normal for them.  Who look longingly outside until we let them outside...and then they whine to get back in.  Who take us for walks because we need the exercise, although we believe that it is the other way around.  Who sit beside us at the table hoping against hope that we will drop a piece of whatever we are eating...even if it is salad.

I know that every summer when Linda's children are here, Dixie will go and lie down near the door where they are until they get up.  When they are in the pool...she is right there beside them to make sure that they are okay.  Occasionally, she will get in on the top step and let them splash her.  She is the guardian of any running water in this house...with the only exception being a bath that she knows is for her.  I've had to devise some mighty sneaky ways to get her into the tub...because if she hears the word "bath" she vanishes into thin air.

Riley is the first dog that we've had that has been "my" dog.  The others have been primarily family dogs...and they also loved the children more than they did me.  Riley seems to love Brian a lot...but he is very attached to me.  I usually have to make sure that he isn't somewhere under my feet before I step on him...because he normally is.

I love this, by the way.

In a few minutes, I will go to Phase II of my day...which involves doing something with my hair and trying to look presentable for work.  And both of them will come with me.  Dixie will catch a nap and Riley will probably go into the dirty clothes and find some underwear to chew on.  It's gross...but that's how he rolls...as did all of the others before him.

I'm grateful that I have two little dogs living in this house and a cat living in the garage.  It has taken years for Big Dave to tolerate having dogs in the house...but other than his ongoing tift with Riley...he understands how much it means to me.  Being raised in the country meant that dogs were to remain outside...and he does draw the line on them sleeping in the bed with us or getting on the furniture.

In spite of the fact that he comes home most afternoons to find Dixie and Riley both curled up on the couch...because they can.  Until he yells at them, of course.

And he totally will.

Tonight I am looking forward to curling up with my two perfectly coiffed dogs.  They will be especially sweet since they will be happy that I didn't leave them at the "beautification station."  At least that's how they normally are.

I'm grateful for these precious "fur babies" who are a giant pain in some ways...but who make up for it a thousand times over.  They are staring at me right now because I have eggs, and they somehow believe that they are entitled to at least a bite of it.

And don't tell Big Dave...but I think that they are too.