Thank God for pets

I love my dogs. I grew up with dogs and so have had them in my home for 77 years. I don’t think that I would know how to live without them. If anyone gets to heaven it is dogs first.

For years we had Dachshunds but several years ago when we had lost one dog my son arrived at the door with at Basset a friend of his couldn’t keep. We are such suckers. If a dog comes into the house it almost never goes out. When our second dachshund crossed the rainbow bridge we adopted a second basset as companion for the first.

basset-hound-and-plants-funnyThese two are so funny. We laugh at their antics daily. They are good dogs with some quirky habits. If we leave them at home the towels are pulled from the bathroom racks when we come back. Sometimes the towels appear in the bedroom. Never damaged…just moved. There are so many toys under the piano in a bin that it is overflowing. I put them back and very quickly, with much rummaging, specific ones are retrieved and distributed around the house.

If one dog is outside and sees something to share (bark at) he/she comes in to alert the other dog to come and join in.

god smiledI could go on but you get the idea. Dogs are a gift. They are being used in so many ways to help us humans with our problems and disabilities. Their ability to hone skills that we thought were impossible seems endless. Service dogs are used to sniff out diseases, help persons with PTSD, anxiety and depression, autism and many other things.

We need to thank God for the gift of dogs and other pets who enrich our lives.

Patterns

quiltSometimes you are up and sometimes down. There is not telling when it will happen but I do have a pattern. If I have a day when I have nothing to do I am down. Now understand, there are plenty of things that I could be doing. There is laundry to do, floors to clean, dusting, and I could go on and on but that’s no what I want. I have no pattern to my days and I am not used to that. The interesting thing is that when there is no pattern I actually do less and that makes me feel bad.

We need consistency in our lives. If there is no visible pattern then we need to make our own. Patterns help us to find calm. When there is no pattern we are at sea. It is so easy to crawl under the covers and cover our heads. There doesn’t seem to be a reason to get up and move forward. I really spent the day doing nothing. I hate it.

The bottom line is it is up to me. I am the one who has to find a pattern. I can’t wait on someone else to do it for me. It is part of the healing process. I have realized that it takes strength and effort but it has to be done.

Patterns are part of our lives. Even if we can’t see the pattern it is there. It can be an erratic pattern but it is there. Now I just have to find it. There is a pattern to each life. God will help to provide the pattern and I will wait to see it. Sometimes we are too close and need to back away. We many not be able to see it but God can.

quilt

Are we listening?

2 minutes of silenceSilence is a useful tool but it can be difficult. Silence is useful if you want someone else to speak. Most people can’t sit in silence and if you are just quiet and wait they will speak. It is hard for us also. Too often we want to fill silence and will resort to anything to fill the space.

In church if you ask people to sit in silence the air will become tense in about 30 seconds. People will begin to shift in their seats. They want the silence to end.

I have occasionally sat in silence in a place that has a sense of holiness. After I have sat for a short while feeling fretful a sort of peace descends and I feel as if I could sit forever. I need to do more of that. Silence stills your soul.

Spending quiet time with yourself is not easy. It can be so revealing of things about ourselves we don’t want to know. And yet, it is just that silence and quieting of the mind that can make the most impact. In discovering ourselves the important thing to remember is that the past is past. What we do today…in this moment….is what really matters. Silence can bring us to the present moment.

sacred space 2

I like to create “sacred space.” A place where I feel in the presence of God. It can be created with simple objects….things that are precious or meaningful. I like candles with scent. If I can manage to concentrate on those things I can feel calm. The trouble is I don’t do it enough.

We also spend most of our time in prayer talking TO God. We don’t spend much time listening for an answer. Maybe we think there won’t be one. Sometimes if I wait long enough thoughts come to my mind that come without bidding and with much wisdom. I prefer to think of this as God speaking.

You-Can-Feel-The-Soul-In-SilenceGod is always with us in the silence. We spend so much time talking to God that we forget to listen for him in the silence. Maybe the reason we don’t hear him speak more is that we don’t listen.

 

Learning what dogs know

tillie sleepingDogs know how to relax. It is evident in the two bassets that I have. Never lie down to sleep unless there is something soft to put your head on (not to mention your whole body.)  Nothing deters them from the comfort they deserve. Their relaxation is almost instant and complete.

If only we could learn to relax so easily. I know (at least I think) that their minds are not cluttered with all the garbage that we have floating around in ours. So maybe it’s easy for them. All the things that I try to unclutter my mind help but I don’t use them enough or even properly. Meditation helps at the moment but I can easily start right back with whatever was the worry at the time. I can distract myself with TV programs and that helps until I turn it off. I need to practice more and work at it to attain the kind of relaxation that they have. Maybe I can never get that good but it is necessary¬† to try.

Pets are a wonderful thing. I even had a goldfish for years in college that I carried back and forth to home during breaks. I love cats but my husband is allergic so we haven’t had them. I do love dogs. It is wonderful to have someone greet me at the door with wagging tails and happy faces. (yes they do have happy faces) They do sense my moods and are more affectionate when my mood is down.

let it goI will keep looking at my dogs relaxing and remember to continue my efforts to achieve calm and peace in spite of what is happening in my life.

 

Unconditional love

crash and tillieToday I seem to have returned to some equilibrium. This episode helped me to realize how easy it is to run the train right off the rails. With the start of this blog I wanted to find ways to prevent this but wasn’t consistent. Unfortunately, consistency is the key. You can’t use a tool if you haven’t mastered it.

So the journey continues. I have made some good changes but not enough. There was no major crisis in my life but I had forgotten how the little things pile up and become an overload. One thing I can say for sure my dogs really do help. Both are rescues and have had their own share of trauma. Their names are Crash and Matilda. Crash was named that by his foster family because when rescued he was hit by something (possibly a car) and had broken his pelvis. He was so covered in fleas and ticks that his blood counts were dangerously low. He is now a happy, health and slight goofy basset hound. Tillie, found at the pound by a friend of my son’s had little history to explain her past but is loving and stubborn and funny. Both of them are a blessing.

dogIt seems to me that our pets are a true gift from God and certainly an example of how to live. They love unconditionally and share that love always. They don’t judge. They love in spite of our failings. What better example could there be of God’s love.

Make us whole!

Finally finished 3 days of training to be a mediator for the state court system. My state has a non-profit center that does mediation. Mediation helps people resolve issues so they don’t have to go to court and spend court fees and have a judge decide. Mediation works to get the parties to a reasonable settlement. The training was good and I will now observe some sessions and them begin to do them.

It is so strange. The three days that I was in class I had no stomach issues but today it’s back. It just lets me know that when my mind is totally occupied there are no problems. It clearly shows that I am the problem.

dividedI have been thinking a great deal about how connected are mind, body and spirit. When science became at the forefront only the body was considered. In recent years we have begun to see that you can’t treat one part. In some ways we have moved forward and in other ways not. I think we see the connection but medicine has become so specialized that each part of our body has a different doctor. They don’t always communicate well so not only have we forgotten about the other two but the body is divided up.

It seems that the best of all worlds would be to have a clinic where every part was addressed. There would be physicians for everything, mental health people, alternative health providers and the option for spiritual guidance. How wonderful that would be. The whole team would sit down and consider the care of each person. Holistic medicine at its best! It’s not going to happen but what a healing thing it would be.

holisticI guess we have to try and pull all the parts together ourselves and seek out the best helpers that we can.

Faith in a changing world

church 50sI grew up in an era where church was important. Most of the USA were church goers. That doesn’t mean that they were really Christians but they went to church. Which church people attended was sometimes chosen for social reasons. Going to church on Sunday was just what you did.

In my family we had a mixture. My father (of Scottish decent) and mother were Presbyterian. My grandparents were Methodist and my Aunt and Uncle (of German origins) were Lutheran. It didn’t seem strange to me that everyone in my family went somewhere different. The one thing that was understood was that we all had Christianity as our roots. Of all the family my grandmother’s faith was rock solid. She read the Bible every day and prayed faithfully. She also was the perfect example of Christian living. I never heard her speak against anyone, she gave generously, and was kind to all.

god-in-a-box1Because of this upbringing I grew up believing in and depending on God. Because of all the different examples before me I questioned often, read extensively and never felt constrained by doctrine. I was free to find my path. I think being able to explore helped me to never stop believing in God. God was never static for me.. God was and is bigger than any box anyone ever tried to put him/her/it in.

Today people are exploring God/spirituality in many different ways. Church is no longer the norm. There are many reasons why this has happened. Most of us explore during out formative years. Maybe they find a different path. The path of other faiths may draw them. I only hope that the path each person takes gives them the strength that I find in mine.

find groundMy belief is the thing that holds me up when things are not good. I turn to that faith and rest on it. It gives me strength to keep moving on and has done so for 77 years. People help to sustain my life and reflect God’s image to me often but this doesn’t stand alone. I don’t know what people hold on to who have no faith to turn to. Maybe they don’t need one. It certainly wouldn’t work for me. “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46)