A Silent Cry For Help

 

On Sunday, the 25th of September in the year of our Lord 2016, I was sitting on our back porch, reading a book and anticipating an afternoon and evening of rest and relaxation. All my chores were done. It is rare to have an afternoon and evening of rest for me and I try hard to carve out my Sundays to just be still and enjoy things.

  Suddenly Samson began to bark, and bark as if there were something right there, something terrible, so I got up and quickly went over to the fence where he and Einstein were intently staring at something on the other side. I thought it must be a snake, and yet I saw nothing on the ground in front of Samson. Suddenly there was movement under our little pickup truck parked just on the other side of the fence. I saw a very long tail, beige in color……..perhaps a possum, but a very strange looking one and as I bent down to look my eyes fell upon a terrified little dog, a dog so covered in mats that it was impossible to see which end was which.

   The day was hot and she was panting profusely from the heat. I quickly caught up my dogs, locked them inside and retrieved water and a bowl for her, along with some food. Slowly but surely I enticed her out from under the truck and into my garage. As I dropped food upon the ground I noticed her violently pushing her face back and forth along the concrete. As she allowed me to get closer I realized that the knots of hair were hanging all in front of her face and she was unable to get food into her mouth. Her pushing her face along the ground was her attempts to get the hair cleared away so that she could pick up the bits of food.

 I took a few quick photos and quickly went in to retrieve scissors and more food. Slowly she allowed me to touch her briefly here and there and each time I quietly clipped away a mat of hair. The long tail I had first seen when she was under the truck turned out to be mostly hair, dragging at least 12 inches behind her. A huge massive braid of fur, like wool, heavy and filled with sticks and cactus. She made no sound. She simply cowered and trembled, dejected and afraid and yet desperately crying out “please help me”. My heart was broken for her pain and suffering. It takes a very long time for a dog to get into the condition that she was in. She had suffered years of neglect.

  So my relaxing afternoon and evening, became a project to try and free her from some of the terrible matting. The matting was so dense and thick that it was if she were covered in several layers of thick wool, wool woven into a blanket. Stuck deep with these masses of hair were thorns and sticks and goat head burrs.

  I could not do much around her head, I was unable to find her ears and feared I would inadvertently cut into one. Her feet were encased in the thick wooly mats and she seemed uncomfortable with me touching them, so I pulled a few burrs out and left her feet alone.

  Gradually she became comfortable with me, I think she realized I was helping her, and I was able to cut away a huge pile of fur. Still she was encased in the wool. I made her comfortable in a crate, gave her water and softened food and let her rest for a bit.

 The next day I took her to the vet. A local rescue (Pet A Bulls) had generously offered to take care of her medical needs. Late Monday I was informed that she had a small mammary tumor and terrible teeth. So today, Tuesday, she is having surgery to repair her teeth, remove the tumor and be shaved and set free of the mass of hair covering her poor little body.

Update October 12th 2016 : This little one has come alive and it is amazing to watch her little personality come out. At first she was so afraid, shaking in fear whenever you touched her or held her. Now she asks to be held and she loves to sleep next to you. She seems to enjoy wearing her little sweater and t-shirt. She loves to eat and she LOVES chicken liver! She is doing well with her housebreaking and is fully crate trained. She cannot push through the big dog doors at my house so someone has to let her out to potty, but she is doing very well. She gets along well with both the other dogs in my home and has met several others at the park and has had no issues with any.

 She is available for adoption now, through Pet A Bulls rescue in Albuquerque. She needs a home where she can live out her days as a little princess, where someone will provide regular grooming and little bows and paint her little toenails and spoil her rotten. She has suffered a lot in her short little life………I pray that all her days of suffering are at last over.

If you would like to donate to offset the cost of the medical care provided to this little one please do so at this address:

https://www.facebook.com/Pet-A-Bulls-Inc-177947685596925/app/190322544333196/

If you are interested in adopting this little one please see this address:

http://petabulls.com/adopt/

Please go to Pet A Bulls Facebook page and give them a LIKE for taking care of this little one:

https://www.facebook.com/Pet-A-Bulls-Inc-177947685596925/


Einstein the Foster Dog

  After the recent loss of my beloved Hektor, the Dogo Argentino I decided to foster dogs for awhile. I wanted to give back to the dog world some of the grace I have received over the years from a variety of good dogs. Fostering enables me to help dogs in need, and it helps me in many ways to deal with the grief of losing my dear friend Hektor. 

 So enters Einstein into my life. He entered a bit quicker than I wanted, but the need was there so I said yes and brought him home. When I first laid eyes upon Einstein he was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle of the nice rescue lady who had picked him up that day. The story I know of his life prior to this moment is that he was picked up as a stray, and the animal control officer who picked him up decided to keep him, but things didn't work out due to his male dog's refusal to accept Einstein. So he came to a local rescue called Pet-A-Bull. He was there for a bit, living amongst a horde of rescued pit bulls until he was adopted by some lady. I do not know how long he was with her, only that she had returned him that day, saying he was a great dog, but he was too rambunctious for her.

  The rescue really wanted him to be able to go into a foster home, and to not have to go back to a kennel at the rescue. I can see now, after getting to know him a bit why that was so important. Einstein is not the kind of dog who does well in a kennel.

  The little guy sitting in the backseat looks scared. How scary it must be to live your life at the whims of humans. Imagine yourself dropped tomorrow in some far away country where no one speaks your language and to be dropped there without any money or any means to care for yourself. People are babbling to you, waving their hands about, talking louder as you fail to understand their words. How scary that would be.

 Einstein was frightened, he was uncertain, he had no idea what was going on or where he might be headed. He was doing his best to trust people, for he is a lover of humans, but you could see in his eyes that he was worried. My heart broke as it always does when I see an animal in need.

 I transferred him to my vehicle along with his supply of dog food and off we went for home. I didn't ask much of him. I just talked softly about nothing much at all, telling him all would be well and that he was safe. He did not understand my words, but I think my quiet speech gave him some measure of relief. Still the little guy was apprehensive. After all, he had heard kind words from folks before, but things hadn't turned out like he had hoped.

 We arrived at home and upon entering he was just so scared and so submissive that we sort of left him alone for a bit. He gravitated straight to my son Josh and huddled fearfully under his computer desk. I wondered if at some point he had given his heart to some young man like Josh, for he seemed to think that safety was to be found right there under that desk.

 We gave him that entire afternoon to just settle in, only breaking his peace with potty breaks and even those were traumatic for him. He was afraid of the patio door and he slipped on the tile floor, giving me that look of betrayal as if I had set him up to fall. My heart went out to this little dog, written all over him was the desire to love and trust, the desire to be loved and trusted, and yet he was afraid. He had lost a lot in a very short time. Been saved from the life of a stray, met up with someone who wanted to love him but had to turn him into rescue, gotten slightly adjusted to the hordes of dogs at the rescue, then he had been invited into the home of the lady.....now here he was, in another strange place, with another lady, a lady talking softly and telling him everything was going to be okay........perhaps just as the last lady had.

 By the next morning he began slowly to come out of his shell, as if he had decided to dare to hope. He made a decision to just love us to death, almost desperate in his actions, like he was trying to say "I'm a good dog!, I'm such a good dog! Please love me! Please let me stay!"

  We began to go for walks and I was impressed with how quickly he responded to me and how eager and content he was to walk right there with me. I was not walking a dog, nor was I being walked by a dog....instead he and I were walking together. That's how it should be and yet I was surprised at how easily we had arrived at this state. It was Einstein's desire to be with me that made it so easy.

 He has been with me for 6 days now. He is a delightful dog. A worthy dog. This is the kind of dog that would lay right down and die for you if you were to ask him, and were he to understand that you needed him to. This is the kind of dog that wants only to be with his special person, to follow them about the house, to walk with them along country roads, to sleep with them in fluffy beds. He is friendly, he is playful, he is loyal. This is the kind of dog that wants to be with you, participate with you, and he delights in your companionship and attention. He is what I call a Velcro dog, loyal and devoted.

  Einstein is a very special dog and I pray, with all my heart I pray, that God will provide him with the quality home and person that he so deserves, and I pray that my eyes would be always open, for the lessons that God is sure to teach me during this time of caring for Einstein.

 When I watch Einstein as he plays in the yard, I see a dog that is worried. He is happy, but in his happiness he is quick to glance at me from time to time, to make certain I am still there, he is happy like a kid given an ice cream cone, but one who knows that someone might snatch it away at any moment. He is uncertain. He is a dog that has loved and lost and yet is so willing to love again. He is a good dog. I pray his person is worthy of such a dog.


Ode to a Big White Dog………Hektor the Big Tow Griego…..RIP

  Hektor, the Dogo Argentino, was my very first Dogo and a dog that taught me so very much over the many years we had together. On September the 14th, at or around 2:30 PM he passed from this life and left my heart broken yet again for the loss of a dog, a loyal friend and a treasured companion.

  Hektor loved two things dearly, very dearly. One was food…..the other was me.

 Hektor trusted one person…..he wanted to trust others but he always held a little back….but with me he trusted. He would do things that made him anxious, go places that were to him a little scary simply because I asked him to.

 There is a great honor in being trusted by a dog, any dog, regardless of personality, but there is an awesome honor in being trusted by a dog that is anxious or fearful. The weight of that trust weighs like a stone upon my heart today, the weight of the honor you bestowed upon me, your person, for your final journey.

 I saw the anxious look in your eyes as you beheld the veterinarian and her assistant sitting in your living room. I saw the conflict in your eyes as your heart told you, fight or flee……and I know my friend that this was the very hardest thing I had ever ask of you. I had to ask you to be still in the presence of strangers. To ask you to lie quietly on the floor and believe, this one last time that I, the one you trust so, mean only the very best for you.

  In the end you left in peace, and though it broke my heart to see you stretched out, knowing what was to come, it was good to see you totally pain free and resting. You haven’t rested well for some time. That anxious look you wear when we go somewhere scary, or do something that you are uncertain of, was a look you began to wear at home all the time. Pain intensifies anxiety.

 You are free from pain now my old friend, free from the anxiety of it. You have earned your rest time and time again. Thank you for the years of loyalty and trust. Thank you for all the walks we took. Thank you for all the times you trusted me when things looked so scary. You were always brave. One cannot be brave without the presence of fear. You were always brave. I always felt safe with you beside me when we walked out on the mesa together.

I miss you.

Yesterday I came home, and as the garage door opened I naturally looked for your smiling happy dog face and your great thumping tail…….and there was nothing.

 Five PM came and went and there was no reminder that it was dinner time. You always loved breakfast and dinner and you could set the clock by the anxious look on your face if I forgot what time it was.

 Yesterday I took Samson out for a walk along the high mesa. I missed your presence terribly. Missed the security of having the big white dog by my side, missed your steadfastness, for as you know, Samson, though beloved is like a flash of energy that never stops. You always loved to walk right beside me, my hand could brush the top of your back as we walked. I miss you.

  You will be laid to rest next to Miss Keeter, my “bestest” girl. It is right and fitting that you two rest together. But more importantly you will take your place within my heart, buried there for as long as I have breath and walk this earth……..and I will call you as I walk the mesa, and you can take your place along side Snubby, Charlie, Floppy Bear, Gunnar Goodheart and dear Miss Keeter………until the other side my old friend………I miss you!

 “For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps at long and at last. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked and the trees are roaring or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing lost -- if memory lives. But there is one best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all. If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, he will come to you when you call -- come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they should not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he is yours and he belongs there. People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing.

The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.

by Ben Hur Lampman

 

  I would like to thank  Dr Lauryn Spohn and her office at Pawz To Care - Animal Hospital Bernalillo, for their kindness and compassion. They came to my home and they worked very hard to make sure my boy was comfortable and free of pain and anxiety before he passed. I will be forever grateful for that. My boy was never happy at the vet’s office and it would have been so hard to have him go out there. Thank you! Thank you! For all that you did to see him relaxed and comfortable and to allow him to go out in his home.

   Rest in peace Hektor Griego 9/14/2016

  

 Hektor watching us fish.

 Hektor waiting on his favorite thing, FOOD!


  He spent his last day with me, sleeping on the bed, eating chicken and turkey and ice cream.

  I ask my friend to trust me one last time.

“There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of animals. It is a cycle unlike any other. To those who have never lived through its turnings and walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken seems incomprehensible. Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive; our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.”
Suzanne Clothier, Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs

   Here is an old blog post about one of the many important lessons Hektor taught me.

http://allisgrace.posthaven.com/do-not-be-anxious-dot-dot-dot-lessons-from-a-big-white-dog


Samson------The Dog I Did Not Choose

  Samson was selected sometime near Christmas of 2010, from a sink full of puppies in a crack house in northern Washington state. My eldest son braved the interior of that desolate house, walked in with his money and paid for a pup, and reached down into that sink and took out Sam. Sam was a gift for his wife Melanie, now deceased.

    The story of how Samson became mine is a long one, and it is filled to the brim with sorrow and loss, so we will just briefly say that he came to live with us for what was to be a short time, but due to the suicide of our daughter in law Melanie he became a permanent fixture in our home.

 I tried to arrange for him to be a service dog for my son, but the memories he invoked were too fresh and too painful. I tried to rehome him with people that I knew would love and care for him, but my son could not stand the thought of him living anywhere but with us. So Samson, the Australian Shepherd, Australian Cattle Dog mix became a permanent part of my pack.

  I am a bully dog person, a large giant dog person. My breeds of preference are the Dogo Argentino (of which I had two when Samson came), South African Boerboels, English Mastiffs, pit bulls, Cane Corsos and such.....you get the picture. Samson was not my kind of dog. He was a nuisance to end all nuisances. He had a zest for life and a heart the size of the bravest Dogo Argentino, but he had a scrawny body, his one defense was his speed, but even that was not sufficient because his heart told him he could take on anything and if that meant two giant Dogo Argentinos then so be it.

  When under duress from his larger pack members, Samson has the ability to blow his hair straight up all over, giving himself the appearance of a small and scrawny black bear. The seriousness of such situations are often dealt with by me while hysterically laughing at the sight. Wish I had a photo of that for you.

  Samson constantly herded the Dogos about the yard, nipping at their heels, barking like a lunatic and often getting attacked for his efforts. His quick evasions saved him several times, but if pinned with no escape he would go into full on scrap mode. Only my constant attentiveness saved him from almost certain death on several occasions. He did loose part of one ear, suffered the occasional puncture wound and a few bruisings from being thrown to the ground like a rag doll by exasperated Dogos.

 To be perfectly honest I didn't really care much for Samson. I kept him, and I cared for him, we allowed him the privilege of sleeping on our bed, I worked with him diligently to curb his desire to herd his fellow giant canines and slowly, over time he crept right into my heart and I just woke up one day, him creeping up to me in bed to be petted, and I realized "I love this little stinker".

  He has taught me a lot.

 Samson lives life fully and completely. There is no quit in him, there is no lounging about with him, if it is daylight and we are up then you can rest assured he is zipping about the house or yard with an energy that is boundless. He hunts ground squirrels, he digs holes to China, he collects every stick to be found, he chases the cat, he herds the dogs. He goes and goes and goes and it is a very rare thing to ever see him resting in the light of day. I purchased a herding ball for him and I have to take it away and lock it up, or he will herd it about the yard until he collapses, even in 100 degree heat. He is relentless.

  Toys must be carefully managed, because if left out Samson will grab them and parade them around before his larger pack members, taunting them with his prize. This too has came close to costing him dearly. But he delights in it. Therefore toys are always put away and only brought out when supervision is available to ensure safety for all.

 He is also brave and courageous. Foolish perhaps, but he does not back down from Dogo dominance. Even knowing the risks if I call the dogs from the kitchen patio door, Samson will bravely run out and assist them in quickly responding to my call (not that they need assistance), even if it means a sound tossing to the ground for his efforts.

 When night comes, and everyone has gone outside to do their business and had their nightly "bedtime bone" treat, Samson will walk straight into the bedroom, jump up on the bed, find his spot at the very bottom corner near my feet and he will barely even move until the clock goes off the next morning. Samson knows how to rest fully after having lived a day fully.

 He never gives up on me, he will bring sticks and twigs and bits of weeds he has ripped from the ground and present them to me with such a look of anticipation and delight upon his face, begging me with ever fiber of his being to toss the object that he might run after it. He is persistent. He will do this for hours if you sit outside for hours. He never gives up hope of getting through to me and perhaps enticing me to play.

  God uses Samson to teach me lessons.

Live life fully!

Work hard!

Play hard!

Be brave in the face of danger!

Do what you were created to do no matter the cost!

Be persistent in prayer, never give up on it.

Know when to rest.

When you sleep, sleep hard, sleep in peace.


  Thank You Lord for Samson, who has become so very dear to my heart. I did not ask for him, I did not really want him. I took him in out of love for my son and out of a desire to ease his pain. And yet what a blessing Samson is to me, what a delight he is. Thank You Lord for Samson.....the dog I did not choose, the dog who is dear to my heart.


 

 

Broken Made Beautiful......

  I want to tell you a little bit about my recent journey to the hills of eastern Tennessee and also to the hills of western North Carolina where I was born and raised. It is a story of broken made beautiful and a story of God's great grace and how if we are obedient to Him, if we can step out in faith and love like He wants us to, even when we are afraid that our love might be met with something less, He can and does work miracles. I was a bit afraid to go on this trip. I really didn't want the little bit that I had to be lost and a part of me feared that things might not go as I so hoped that they would.

 There will be missing parts to my tale, for to tell it fully would require a book and to tell it partially might lead to misunderstanding some of the characters of my story and perhaps misjudging them. This story isn't about judgment, it is all about grace.

  To begin I must tell a small part of our history, in order for you to perhaps be able to catch a glimpse of the miracles that I so clearly see occurring. I and my brother were raised by our father in the western foothills of North Carolina. Our mother left when I was very small and she married my father's brother. They had a daughter, my half sister.......and my first cousin....(no, that's not banjo's you hear). Needless to say you can probably imagine that the family was a bit torn regarding these things. My brother, my sister and me all paid a price in that tearing even though it was no fault of ours that these things occurred.

  My sister and I have met perhaps three or four times over the course of 50 years, once when we were children and the rest at various funerals. We have probably had no more than a few minutes to talk each time. We have been friends on Facebook for about three years now and have spoken on the phone once or twice. As for my mother, I believe I have seen her four times since she left and only for very short periods.

 I have always had a desire to know my sister, but circumstances and distance have always been an obstacle, along with my own feelings of inadequacy that kept me from stepping out there, lest it not work out and be a disappointment. I had truly believed that this was something I needed to set aside as chances are it just wasn't going to happen in this lifetime.

 My sister's fiftieth birthday was approaching and her family wanted very much to surprise her with something special. As it turns out she is a lot like me so that wasn't an easy thing. She doesn't get much excited about jewelry and clothes and such so they had their task cut out for them. It had came up in conversation how much she would like to have some time to spend with me, her and I had mentioned on our Facebook how we would love to be able to sit on the porch and chat someday. So they decided to purchase tickets and present her with me as her fiftieth birthday present. It was a new experience for me. I had never been someone's birthday present before!

  I was both excited and apprehensive about the trip. The excitement won out, for as I said earlier I had always wished for more time with my sister, time to sit and talk, time to get to know each other. Finally the day arrived and I boarded the plane to begin my journey. I won't bore you with the details of that journey from New Mexico to that beautiful Tennessee valley surrounded by rolling hills, needless to say I arrived safely.

 Her daughter surprised her by having her read a birthday card aloud while she faced the wall, I slipped in during the middle of this and stood waiting for her to turn around. She was surprised. Totally surprised. We both cried.

 And thus began a whirlwind of four days of hysterical laughter, some beautiful tears, many long talks, a lot of cigar smoking (probably too much cigar smoking) and a couple of fake tattoos (which in retrospect were probably a mistake on both our parts). We walked all over the North Carolina and Tennessee mountains and all over the city of Gatlinburg. I was able to spend time with her beautiful family and get to know them. We spent an entire day with my brother and we visited with his family, and I had the second hottest Prawns Diablo in my life, believe it or not they were served in a Mexican restaurant in North Carolina. Who would have thought!

  And of course nothing is ever complete in my life without some animals in it, so here's to Scooter, Trixie, Socks and Bullseye who all shared their canine kindness with me, and here's to Bessie 1-47, the kindly cows who tolerated my early morning conversations in the fields near my sister's home.

  But the real beauty of the entire trip was getting to know my sister, to find that she was very much like me, almost eerily so seeing how she was raised by our mother and I was not. During this four day period, God took all the brokenness between us, brokenness that was not of our doing and he forged a relationship. It is like I have known her always, and although I already loved her, she has now become quite precious to me. It was amazing how well everything went, how it was as if we had always known each other, and we marveled at how much alike we were. It was a bit like finding out you have a twin. I will forever treasure this time we had together. It was dear to me and in truth there simply are not the words to adequately capture what those four days meant to me.

  And I experienced another miracle of  broken made beautiful when I met and spent some time with my mother. I really did not want to, to be honest, it was just so much easier to keep these things at a distance less one be disappointed. I harbored no ill will towards her but I was accustomed to not having her in my life and content to continue it that way. But God kept pressing me that I needed to see her. In obedience to Him I did so, and I was greatly surprised when my eyes beheld this beautiful lady, with white hair, and her blouse all a sparkle, and I loved her. All that had transpired in the past was finished and my heart was filled with love for this woman who had given birth to me. We were able to talk and laugh and I greatly enjoyed the short time we spent together.

 The trip was amazing, it was renewing, it was beautiful in so many ways, a lot of it cannot be explained here in a blog post, as it's deeply personal to the parties involved, but suffice to say that it was a miraculous gift from a gracious God and I am in awe of all that He accomplished in my life and the lives of others during this short trip back home.

I have a sister......I have always had her, but now I know her and we have a relationship and she is beautiful, and wonderful and I love her to death. She now knows that she has a sister and a brother and hopefully she knows that she is as much a part of us as if she had come up along side us in all the hard times we endured growing up. She is family. The only regrets, the only sorrow that I have from this trip is that we all waited so darn long to get together, yet even in this I believe God orchestrated it all and His timing is perfect.

 


  Here are just a few of my photos from my trip that capture some of the physical beauty of all the places we went. From the view from my sister's front porch, to the North Carolina mountains I saw the majesty of God's creation, but the most beautiful thing will ever be the wonderful mosaic that God created from our brokenness. He does indeed make the broken beautiful.




Longing for Home

    Have you ever stood in awe of something? Ever had those moments where your heart is struck with wonder and joy and for the briefest of moments you feel as if you are about to finally grasp some great and profound truth only to have it fade to the edges of your mind, where you have to struggle and wrestle to bring it forth long enough to really ponder what it even was?

    Moments when you stand by a beautiful mountain lake, listening to the wind through the trees and gazing in awe at the beauty of it all and for a second, you have a feeling, that you cannot quite put words to, it is both perfect, and peace all wrapped up in joy, and in an instant the fullness of it has passed.

   Or perhaps you are gathered about the table, with the ones you love most, and you look upon their faces as they talk and laugh and for a second that feeling rushes in, of a perfect love, and a peace you cannot describe and a sense of rightness, of knowing that this, this right here, this fleeting second is how's it's all supposed to be. And as fast as you grasped hold it is gone again, leaving you with such a longing that it near takes your breath away.

  I call those moments glimpses of heaven, and the aftermath of them is longing for home.. Those moments when through the dark mirror of sin and  brokenness we for a second glimpse so briefly and so imperfectly the real beauty, the real love and peace and perfection that God intended for mankind, before we turned it all into one big hot mess.

 We all have memories of home, memories of the place where we perhaps felt most safe and at peace, memories of childhood where we ran through grassy meadows and we laughed and we had not a care in the world. They differ with everyone. The nostalgic longing for home may be for a place, it may or may not be the place of your childhood, it may be a person or a time, but we all long for it. We all want to go home. The trouble is the feelings are hard to put words to, and the place, that home we are searching for is often not even understood fully by us, even though we are the ones longing for it. And when we try and go back to that physical place, or that time where we believe home was at we find something missing.

 "......it is when he comes home that he recognizes most poignantly that he is, at a deep level of his being, homeless, and whatever it is that is missing, he will spend the rest of his days longing for it and seeking to find it."Frederick Buechner

  For me, those perfect moments, or perfect seconds, because often they do not last very long, are moments where I see a tiny sample, an imperfect sample, like a child's drawing of Disney World would not come close to equaling the reality of Disney World, of the wonder that God has in store for those who believe. For a brief second I catch a glimpse of home, my true home. Those glimpses make me yearn, with a deep and even painful yearning for the reality of that place, for the eternity of that place.

  Just as the moments of wonder and awe, the moments of love and peace create in me a yearning for home, so do the moments of despair. In the dark times the mirror is black, and I see no reflection of home, no sign of how things were meant to be, I see only how they are. I see the brokenness, the grief and despair, the death and destruction and bitter disappointment. When earthly hope is crushed it leaves only that yearning, a desperate yearning for home. This yearning, the one that comes in the dark times is a heavier yearning. A pressed down feeling, where you can only raise your eyes to the heavens and whisper "come Lord Jesus", where your eyes, for the moment lose the ability to see any beauty in the ugliness around you, you see instead only the brokenness of it all and in that desperate brokenness you just long so heavily for home.

 The older I get the more I yearn for home, and the more I fully understand that home is where Jesus is. The glimpses of light and grace I see in the earthly home I now live in, and in the faces of the ones I love on those brief moments when all is well, and in the beauty of the flowers, the mountains and the bright blue sky are only poor reflections of what He intended when he spoke it all into being and are only poor and dim glimpses of what He has in store for me on that day when I at last get to go home. 

  Frederick Buechner describes a moment when he and his family were at SeaWorld and where they experience one of those moments, one of those glimpses of heaven that brought tears to his eyes, and to the eyes of his family who were with him. He writes:

 "We shed tears because we had caught a glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom and it had almost broken our hearts. For a few moments we had seen Eden and been part of the great dance that goes on at the heart of creation. We shed tears because we were given a glimpse of the way life was created to be and is not. We had seen why it was the "the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy" when the world was first made, as the book of Job describes it and of what it was that made Paul write, even when he was in prison and on his way to execution, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice." We had had a glimpse of part at least of what Jesus meant when He said "Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh".

 The world is full of darkness, but what I think we caught sight of .............was that at the heart of darkness-----whoever would have believed it?---there is a joy unimaginable. The world does bad things to us all, and we do bad things to the world and to each other and maybe most of all to ourselves, but in that dazzle of bright water as the glittering whales hurled themselves into the sun, I believe what we saw was that joy is what we belong to Joy is home, and I believe the tears that came to our eyes were more than anything else homesick tears. God created us in joy and created us for joy, and in the long run not all the darkness there is in the world or in ourselves can separate us finally from that joy, because whatever else it means to say that God created us in His image, I think it means that even when we cannot believe in Him, even when we feel most spiritually bankrupt and deserted by Him, His mark is deep within us. We have God's joy in our blood" Frederick Buechner's  Secrets in the Dark “The Great Dance,”

 

 This morning as I write these words my heart longs for home. Home is where Jesus is, and were I only able to sit on the outskirts of heaven and view Him from a distance, were that all that was promised and no more could be hoped for, that would be enough and I would be content. I want to see Him, I want to fellowship with Him, I want to depend entirely and completely on Him, I want to run my race well for Him, I want to trust Him more fully, love Him more truly and place all my hope and expectations upon Him and Him alone. Home is where Jesus is. I try, sometimes with desperation, to create that home here on earth, or at least a child's drawing of it. I fail constantly in that attempt and I am so very often broken and discouraged when it all goes wrong.

  Jesus is "my hope and stay" and everything else I hope in, everything else that my expectations are placed upon, falls short, disappoints and ultimately leaves me empty and yearning for that which I cannot quite put words to......longing for home.....glimpses of heaven.

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You're my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You



Holding on to the Moments

  Someone that I love once told me of a near death experience, of a moment when he thought for certain he was going to die. He said the sky never looked so vivid blue, and the air in his lungs felt so fresh and wonderful. In a matter of moments many memories went through his head as he recalled his family and how much he loved them. It is amazing how vivid the everyday normal things around him were, and how beautiful, even in that dark place where he was at. All brought to vivid display and all written forever into his memory because death was at the door. 

 Why is it that the bad things always get stuck in our heads. We remember things that frighten us, things that break our hearts, and these memories often lead us to fear for we are terrified of reliving them.

 What if we made an effort to hold onto the mundane moments, to savor the everyday normal that we so often take for granted? Personally I believe this is perhaps a very important thing that we so seldom do.

 A few nights ago I sat on our back porch as a storm blew through. The wind was whipping through my hair, the mist from the falling rain was hitting my skin and the smell of the cold rain hitting the scorched hot earth was intoxicating. I had seen many a thunderstorm in my 56 years but for some reason this one was memorable. It was memorable because I savored it. I consciously took in the feeling of the wind, the feeling of the rain, the scent in the air, how the clouds roiled in the sky and the thunder shook the heavens. I reveled in it, and in reveling in it I was transported from a mundane ordinary moment to something beautiful.

 When my oldest son first deployed to war and we took him to the airport to say goodbye, I can still remember the scent of him, the feel of him as I hugged him tight. I can vividly recall these things. I had hugged him thousands of times over the years, I had enjoyed those hugs, I took delight in those hugs, but on this occasion I savored it. I took it in for there was a part of me so afraid that I might never again be given the privilege of holding him close. Hugging a loved one is a mundane normal everyday moment. But what if we took it to the level of savoring every hug, as if it were the very last one, what if we did that every day?

 There is a beautiful butterfly bush in my back yard, it is a favorite of mine and I have looked at it's blooms many times, rejoiced in it's beauty many times but recently I examined it carefully. I examined the large blooms that are made up of hundreds of tiny perfect purple flowers all molded into the large purple blooms that I can see from my back porch. I breathed it in, and for the first time noticed that my beautiful butterfly bush has a scent to it's blooms. It left me in awe of the wonderful detail that goes into that ordinary bush, a bush that sits in thousands of yards, a bush I have beheld for many summers, even rejoiced in many summers, and yet a bush that I had failed to completely take in.

 As Ann Voskamp once said, "we only have this one moment", this moment right now that we are living and breathing in. The next breath is not promised, the next sunrise is not promised, the next hug is not promised.....nothing is certain except this one moment right now. So breathe it in, breathe it in deep. Savor it. Whether it's a thunderstorm, a hug from a loved one, or a flower, or perhaps it is just you in the kitchen cooking dinner and feeling a bit frazzled....whatever it is, slow down, consider for a moment. What if this is the last sunrise, the last hug, the last time you ever have to cook dinner for them?

 There is so much beauty in the everyday mundane, so much holiness in the daily ordinary things. We need to seek it, look for it, live with eyes wide open to it....else we miss it entirely and in missing it we miss the wonder of it all.

 Take it all in, speak out in gratitude for all that you see, all that you sense and smell and taste that is good.

 In thinking of these things I pause and give thanks for the mundane moments of my own life:

For the old dog laying quietly at my feet, who lives and breathes to please me........

For the husband who left this morning to do work on one of our vehicles, how I often take him for granted, how lost I would be without him.......

For the younger son and his smiling face as he stands next to his beautiful girl friend, and for the fun he is having on his first excursion half way across the country...........

For the older son relaxing today in his home, for his life and the fact that he is with us, that he did not die...........

For the window that I am gazing out of now, as I write these words, for those beautiful mountains that take my breath away near every day, for the plants and flowers and their beauty........

And for so very much more.............I am grateful.......I breath it all in........and savor it........Lord help us to be people who breath it all in, who savor the moments, who see the beauty.

  " The lover’s smile in the morning, the child’s laughter down the slide, the elder’s eyes at eventide: this is for you. And the earth under your feet, the rain over your face upturned, the stars spinning all round you in the brazen glory: this is for you, you, you. These are for you—gifts—these are for you—grace—these are for you—God, so count the ways He loves, a thousand, more, never stop, that when you wake in the morning you can’t help turn humbly to the east, unfold your hand to the heavens, and though you tremble and though you wonder, though the world is ugly, it is beautiful, and you can slow and you can trust and you can receive each moment as grace. Eucharisteo. " Ann Voskamp

Much Loved By God

Pastor Adam has been preaching through the book of Daniel and last Sunday he touched on the last few chapters of that book. I've been pondering upon those last few chapters as there were many things that leapt out at me during the pastor's sermon. You see, I am a worrier, a caregiver. If someone I care about is off kilter in life, if they are sad, or in trouble, or sick or in danger, well everything in my life becomes off kilter and I fret. Some of this is good, it drives me to pray, and it is always good to pray, but some of it is not so good. Jesus was very clear in His teaching about being afraid and about worry. He plainly instructed me not to worry, and told me straight not to be afraid.

  As I was listening to the message a passage in Chapter 10 leapt out. Where the angel is addressing Daniel and says "O Daniel, man greatly loved" Daniel 10:11 and then a bit later he says "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. "Daniel 10:12

 O man greatly loved! What a beautiful statement! Daniel, living in exile, one mere man amongst many and yet he is GREATLY loved by God! And then it hits me, I too am greatly loved by God! Our good God loves all His children! Isn't that an amazing and awesome thing! And then those powerful words......from the moment you set your heart to understand.........your words have been heard! What glorious wonder that the God who spoke all things into being, the God who holds all things together, HEARS our words!

 No wonder we are told to FEAR NOT! No wonder we are told NOT TO WORRY!

  And then a little later the angel says "O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage." Daniel 10:19

   I like how the Message translation renders Daniel 10:19......"Don't be afraid, friend. Peace. Everything is going to be all right. Take courage. Be strong.'

 Everything is going to be all right.......as someone I love who has since gone on to be with Jesus once said to me in a dream......."don't worry Ma, everything's gonna be alright, in fact it's gonna be more than alright."

    I imagine it is always going to be hard to watch people suffer, especially the ones I know and love. That isn't going to change, I don't think I would want it to, but when they are hurting my job is to pray, to love, to comfort, to speak words of truth, to come alongside, to help carry the load.....but it isn't my job to worry and fret. I need to trust God. You do too. He is trustworthy. There is nothing too big for Him to handle.

 He is the God who shuts the mouths of hungry lions.

 He is the God who steps into the burning furnace with us.

 He is the God who brings about exactly what He intends to bring about.

 He is good.

 He is trustworthy.

 Don't be afraid. 

 


Rainy Day Reflections

A rainy day, clouds cover the mountain,

She arose, much like she always has

greeted by dogs with thumping tails

Another day, another morning.

The gift of life and breath and feeling.


She is slow, her brain sluggish

A slow learner, despite His efforts to teach

But she is learning

She is beginning to see that many things thought to be awful

Are indeed gifts from His hand.


Were everything as she wanted it to be

were the coffers overflowing with gold

were the ones she loves so decked in finery

with wineglasses in hand

drinking deep from all this world offers.


Were these things so where would she be?

She would be ignorant of grace

Bereft of thanksgiving

Lost in a world of decadant plenty and unaware

of the Giver of grace.


With sorrow He has taught her

With grief she has grown

With fear she has been driven to her knees

Trials she has no hope of overcoming

Drive her to the Overcomer of Trials. 

  She is content.

   She waits in peace.

      For He is enough........

       ......and it's all grace.






50 States of Cast Iron......New Mexico

    A dear Facebook friend pulled me into a very interesting project called 50 States of Cast Iron.  A particular cast iron pan, christened Wilson, has been traveling about the country from state to state and I was given the opportunity to host him for my beloved state of New Mexico. He will be hosted in all 50 states and then his recipe book will be published and the proceeds will go to charity.

  Awesome idea and as far as I know it is the brainchild of the owner of Wilson, a man named Josh Wilemon.

  Wilson arrived in New Mexico last week with his notebook containing recipes from each of the states that he has visited thus far. Today he will be packed up and sent on his way to the great state of Michigan. Thank you for dropping in to visit with us Wilson and may all your travels be blessed with good food and great company.

For our time with Wilson and our submitted recipe in his book we used the following recipe. It was my first time cooking this and it came out awesome! This is one that I will for certain be cooking again and I give thanks to the original poster for sharing this delicious recipe!

The link to the  original recipe can be found at the bottom of this post. We modified it slightly and here is the exact recipe we used to cook in Wilson.

Southwestern Chicken and Sweet Potato Skillet.

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil. I used Harissa Infused olive oil from the Albuquerque Olive Oil Company.
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 Teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons New Mexico Hatch chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 10 ounces frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced, divided
  • 1 (10 ounce) can rotel tomatoes with green chilies
  • 4 New Mexico Hatch green chilies
  • 1 - 1½ cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, plus more to top
  • 1½ cups shredded monterrey jack cheese
  • Guacamole, to top, optional
  • Directions
    1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken to the skillet cook until browned but not cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the chicken from heat and set aside.
    2. Heat the remaining tablespoons of oil in the skillet. Once hot, add in the sweet potato and brown, about 12-14 minutes.
    3. Add the garlic, seasonings, corn, bell peppers, and half of the green onions to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add in the tomatoes with green chilies and 1 cup chicken stock. Return the chicken to the skillet and stir well to combine.
    4. Cook for 5 more minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and a tablespoon of water to form a slurry. Add the cornstarch to the liquid in the skillet, mix in the black beans and cilantro, and cook until the sauce has thickened and the black beans are warmed. If the mixture is too thick, add up to ½ cup more of chicken stock.
    5. Set oven to broil. Top the skillet with the shredded cheese and broil until the cheese is melted and just beginning to turn golden in spots.
    6. Sprinkle the skillet with additional green onion and cilantro. Serve warm and top with guacamole and or sour cream.
    7. Serve with tortillas.  

    :

        Wilson spent his off time hanging out with our beloved and well used cast iron pan. The view from our kitchen and dining room looks out upon the beautiful Sandia Mountains of New Mexico. I think he has enjoyed the view and the conversation.