When you are reading here whether you found me intentionally or accidently, please take time to leave a comment and let me know where you are and what you are thinking. I love feed back. Vondi

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gabriel and Maggie

Gabriel loves it that he can lie on my lap again.  For so many years, he had to lie between me and the arm of the chair or even on the bed.  My knees were too sensitive to have his small weight on them.  Now that I’ve had knee replacement on both of them, they no longer hurt and he has discovered that he can be on my lap again.  For a while he was hesitant to hop up, but after three months of invitations he has decided that it really is OK for him to be up here again.

I got up earlier than usual this morning because I have a sore throat coming on and I thought a cup of hot tea would help.  Of course, Gabe and Maggie got up with me. While I made my tea, they went out to explore the yard and do other things.  By the time the tea was ready Maggie was standing at the door. Gabe hustled in from the darkness as soon as I opened the door.

I brought my tea to my room and situated myself in the recliner.  I wanted to read a bit in my new book.  Before I took my first sip of tea both little dogs were curled in my lap.  Both firmly believe it is their place to be there.  And they are absolutely right.  I love having them there.

I’ve become a big fan of Cesar Milan.  He says that you have to address the dog before you look at the pet or the individual.  I know almost nothing about the man except that he does know dogs.  It is eerie sometimes how he can manage them.  We have had dogs for my entire life.  My father brought home my first dog before I was ever born and his family had had dogs for his entire life.  Our dogs have always been well behaved and good dogs, but I’ve learned almost more than I can say from Cesar.

One thing he has pin pointed for me is how, no matter how tiny the dog, they still have a dog’s attitude.  Maggie might weigh five pounds, but she thinks she is just as big as Maxim.  Gabriel probably weighs twenty but he thinks he’s a German Shepherd.  Maxim, on the other hand, thinks he can be a lap dog, too.  He doesn’t try to jump on my lap like Maggie or Gabriel, but he would if he hadn’t learned that he has to stay on the floor.  He will come and put his head on my lap and lean as hard as he can, looking up with beseeching eyes.  Or put one big foot on my knee and press just hard enough to say, “It wouldn’t be hard at all for me to walk up onto your lap.  Please, could I?” 

Right now, Gabriel is curled up between my knees with his head resting on my thigh.  Maggie would like to be in that spot, but Gabe beat her to it.  She is laying up against me stomach on my thigh with her head and shoulders snuggled against Gable.  I have my laptop on my other thigh, propped on a pillow and Maggie’s shoulders.  We are all very cozy.  The dogs are sound asleep.

Gabe has been my best for almost 12 years.  He and Aspen were my companions when I lived alone in Winfield.  They ate with me, slept with me, sat with me, prayed with me and laid by my side when I took a bath, brushed my teeth or sat on the john, when I was on the computer, watched TV or read.  It is as natural for me to share whatever I’m doing with my dogs as it is to breathe.  They may not understand every word I say but they try hard to figure it out.  Maxim, like Aspen before him, is very good at figuring it out.

Gabe is getting old. He has hurt himself several times trying to play with Maxim (or maybe boss maxim around).  Maxim has never intentionally tried to hurt him or bite him but Gabe has launched at himself at Maxim and gotten tripped over more than once.  He has damaged his back so badly that at one time I thought I might have to have him put to sleep.  But he recovered, even if he has a distinctive crook in his back you can feel if you stroke along his spine.  He is getting arthritis and his eyes are clouded. But he’s still my dog.
It doesn’t matter what is going on in the rest of the house, Gabriel always ends up beside me.  He might go and visit R & M for awhile but soon he’s back on the bed or on my lap.  If I sit at the table or the counter, he’s right there on the floor beside me.  If I go to the bathroom, he sits in the door way and waits for me.  Where ever I am he’s there.
I’ve only had Maggie since October, but she is learning that she’s my dog too. She likes to sit on Rachael’s lap—especially when Rachael is sitting at the counter eating her breakfast—and she likes to visit with R & M in the evenings if they watch TV in the den, but every once in a while she has to come back and see if I’m doing all right.  Gable is her favorite uncle and role model.  She has begun to notice that he stays with me.  She is oftener and oftener coming and staying with me when the door is open and she could go elsewhere.

I don’t know what people do without dogs.  I don’t know what makes them chuckle when they are sad or what makes them laugh out loud with their antics.  I don’t know who they pray with when they are alone.

Friday, March 16, 2012

please and thank you

Last night I was already in bed when Rachael took the dogs out for their late night potty break.  I had been almost asleep when she came and called Maggie and Gabriel out. I woke up enough to realize there was a very cool breeze from the open window.  It had been warm enough during the day that I’d opened it for the fresh air and I’d forgotten to open it. Now it was too cold.

When Maggie came back in I asked Rachael to close the window.  I don’t even think I said please, but it was a request, not a demand.  She didn’t grouch. She didn’t demand that I say ‘please.’ She didn’t even stomp her feet on the way to the window.  She simply went across the room and closed it.

It started me thinking how complicated ‘correct’ social behavior can make life. So much interaction between close friends and family is made difficult by selfish quirks and the desire to make even loved ones jump through hoops of our own self regard.  

When I studied Navajo I discovered that traditionally the Dineh did not have a word for our polite ‘please.’  The assumption was that if you could help you would do so because tomorrow or next week or next month you might be in a position to make the same request of them. It's probably changed now since anglo society is making inroads into Navajo ways. Yes, sometimes the situation was taken advantage of, but the same thing happens in our society even when someone uses a polite and respectful ‘please’ before their request. 

I’ve known two women in my life who were very particular about folks using the polite forms of speaking in any situation.  Their children were severely reprimanded for not saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’   They were subjected to harsh repercussions if they were so excited about some childish thing if they interrupted an adult conversation no matter how trivial. They ran the risk of being ignored completely if they didn’t approach mom in a polite way to ask something or tell her something.  Others were treated to a cold stare if a please was omitted.  Or sometimes even an outright reproof--not very politely worded.

The thing is, the women could be very self serving in their own actions. They had no qualms about interrupting a conversation—politely—but still the interrupted with the assumption that what they had to say was oh so much more intellectual and knowledgeable than what you were saying.  They used the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ but the phrases cloaked a demand and arrogance that showed through clearly.  Their attitudes and expressions were rude and arrogant regardless of their cloak of courtesy. 

The one, thankfully, has mellowed since she came to know the Lord.  The other divorced her husband under almost concocted circumstances and has alienated her children.  She is now a lonely and emotionally isolated woman.

I heard it said once that manners oil the wheels of personal interactions. But I’m not so sure. Sometimes I think they make things more antagonistic because real motivations and emotions are hidden behind the facade of civility and a polite conversation.  Responses are then forced into conformity and amiability.  Because ‘polite’ words were used people are forced to comply and not reject the request or overture outright as they might were it not hidden behind politeness.

 I’ve noticed that when relationships begin to break down, the courtesy becomes more compelling with a huge under-current of hostility.   When friends or couples are angry the ‘pleases’ and ‘thank yous’  fly thick and fast, but the anger and bitterness isn’t hidden at all. And all the polite words in the world don’t keep the situation from escalating.  In solid loving relationships, the courtesy is not so evident because the love and innate consideration of one another permeates every essence of the bond.   How much better it could be if all interactions were motivated by honest affection or emotion (good or bad) and left to rest as they were stated.

So, half asleep, I asked Rachael to close the window for me.  And she simply came and did it. 

Of course, it could always be said her actions were based on a life-time of obedience, but she’s an adult.  She doesn’t obey me anymore.   She doesn’t have to.  Her response to my request was motivated by love, whether or not I said ‘please.’ 

Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.  Eph 5:2-3

Thursday, March 15, 2012

responses to What the church is...and isn't

I was a little shocked at some of the responses to my last post.  I also posted it on Facebook and it was surprising to me how many people I'd always considered to be honestly following the Lord and walking close to Him regarded it.  They ranged from an attitude of discounting and disregarding the questions to open hostility toward them.

I guess the original questions came from a book on pagan Christianity--kind of an oxymoron.  The book was pointing out how many of our Christian traditions can be traced to old pagan customs.  I've not read the book so I don't know what exactly it said, but I do know that many of the things done in churches today can have their sources traced directly back to pagan ways of worship. Early 'church' leaders wanted to incorporate the pagans into the church without the necessity of a real conversion so they simply cloaked the teachings of Salvation under a semblance of paganism.  Christmas, for example, was a pagan custom observing winter solstice.  "Christ-mass" was instituted to combine the winter solstice observation and the celebration of birth of Christ.  The Christmas trees and yule logs and so forth were simply carry overs.

OK, enough of that.  The one woman, with the most violent opposition, didn't want to address the questions at all, but only wanted to dispute their validity because they had come from that book she read.

Here's the point I wanted to make.  Regardless of the 'source' of the questions, the person who sent them to me posed them to make his readers seriously consider the things they were doing that they considered 'worship' which were not pleasing to God. The Word teaches us that But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23,24) If we are incorporating pagan rites into our worship we have stepped away from the Truth of the Word.

Kit Pharo, the author of the devotion where I found the questions, has been impressed to make ordinary Christians aware of the state of modern Christianity in his own little corner of the world.  I have been blessed at the way the Holy Spirit is leading him into truth.

He has been given the beginning of an understanding regarding the Church. I'm anxious to see how the Lord leads him on.  His desire is that people will look at they way they worship, at the way they follow God.  He wants them to learn that 'church' is not a place we go once or twice a week. He wants them to know that WE are the Church as we follow God in Spirit and in Truth.

Consider the questions, not as sourced from some book that you can discount, or as from some guy that made them up, but as a way to evaluate your place before God and to grow closer to Him.  And as I said, it could be vitally important to your salvation. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

what the church is....and isn't

A friend of mine had been posting for several weeks about what the Church is.  And what it isn't.  Sadly, his conclusion has been that the religious organization that we call 'the Church' today is nothing like what God requires of His People. I have agreed with him 100%.  He doen't come from a 'church of God' background, but he definitely comes from a 'holy spirit taught' background.  A little while ago he posed several questions that every single church-going person in the world ought to consider.  I'm posting them here.

So consider these scriptures:  Psalm 78:36-38;  Isaiah 29:13;  Matthew 15:8-9;  Mark 7:6-8;  Acts 2:42-47
Now think about these questions:  

What if… everything we’d been taught and think we know about “church” and worship is wrong?

What if… we have not been worshiping according to God’s standards but rather human traditions?

What if… we began to seek God’s truth in how to worship and what He wants instead of trying to justify our traditions with His Word?

What if… we weren’t supposed to meet a few times a week for worship in a special building but rather meet every day for worship and fellowship?

What if… there wasn’t supposed to be church buildings, Sunday school teachers, orders of worship, pastors, sermons, Sunday morning dress-up and performances, worship leaders, ministers of music, tithing, clergy salaries, grand baptism performances, abbreviated Lord’s Suppers, altar calls, or formal Christian education?

What if… we devoted ourselves to God’s Word, Christian fellowship and prayer?

What if… we sold our possessions and gave to anyone in need?
What if… God added to our numbers daily those who were being saved?
What if… we allowed Jesus through the instrument of the Holy Spirit to be the Head of the church and truly lead us in worship with our single focus on pleasing God?

What if… everyone really participated in worship as described in the Bible?

And the other side of the coin: 

What if… there weren’t 38,000 different religious denominations?

What if… our worship was only rules taught by men?

What if… our worship was not pleasing to God?

Think about it. How serious would these questions be if every single one of them is applicable to our Salvation?  

Maybe it is time we laid aside everything we have been taught about how we are to worship and really put our faces in the Word of God with enough sincerity to allow the Lord to lead us.
It might make a BIG difference in your life!