Sunday, December 20, 2009

Quote of the Week ~ Lines from Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir (Sabbath Poems)

His perfect pleasure was sole law;
No pleasure had become self-willed.

For all His creatures were His pleasures
And their whole pleasure was to be
What he made them; they sought no gain
Or growth beyond their proper measures,
Nor longed for change or novelty.
The only new thing could be pain.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nicky: The Beginning

Recently I wrote a post about my concern for our elderly boy, Nicky, who has had trouble getting up the stairs. Amazingly, he made a recovery and is mobile again. Still, knowing that saying good-bye is inevitable, I have been thinking a lot about the blessing he has been to me throughout the years. Here's a little story about how he first arrived on the scene.

It had been a week since graduating from seminary and a year of serving my first church. It was time to get a dog. “Sure, come on over. I have a couple dogs to show you.” I was spending my first real vacation at my parents’ house in Maine. As my father and I drove the half hour to Lisbon, I was excited. I had been to a couple of kennels already, but I had a good feeling about this one. Arriving, we found a rundown house surrounded by a couple of falling down barns. A man stepped out in a torn t-shirt and baseball cap. “You here to look at the dogs?” He showed us a couple of sad looking labs and my heart sank. Neither of these were my dog. As we stepped away to leave, I spotted a black and white bundle of energy tied to a dog house in the back. Straining at his lead, he leapt and barked as we took in the spectacle. “Is that dog up for adoption?” I asked. Smiling, the man responded, “Him?” Stooping down to look in his brown doggie eyes, I knew he was family.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sleeping on the Job

Bady and I have been quite involved in training lately. As I blogged previously, the training started when I realized I was losing my status as Pack Leader shortly after our move to Vermont! We've now progressed a little beyond the refresher course and are considering getting involved in the working dog sport of Schutzhund. We have a great trainer and have been invited to participate in a local Working Dog Club. We have a goal of earning our Schutzhund BH Title next summer!

This sport work is a good outlet for Bady's energy. It is also good for me in terms of building confidence. In order to excel in Schutzhund the handler must have absolute control of the dog. The dog must constantly look to the handler for instruction. This will make Bady and I a better working team in daily life as well as on the field.

This is Bady working today. If there were a 'sleeping on the job competition' he might just win! He looks cute here, but you should see him in action on the field. He is a force to be reckoned with.... even if he is still my little boy!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Different is Beautiful

I'm an introvert. That statement probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me! At Charge Conference of my first year at my first church the SPRC told my District Superintendent ~ Rev. Jerome Del Pino ~ that they would like me to be more 'outgoing.' Their previous pastor had been very extroverted. Rev. Del Pino said something that has always stuck with me. He told me, "Don't change yourself for any church. Just be yourself." It was great advice.

Beth Quick, a fellow introvert and United Methodist pastor, wrote a blog post about introverts and leadership. She also shared an article that makes a case for introverts making the best leaders.

Whether introverts or extroverts, we all have gifts to share. I do tend to be a bit sensitive and think that sometimes introverts get a bad rap. Often, it seems to me, extroverts think introverts want to be more like them. I love being an introvert and I wouldn't change this aspect of my personality for anything. Being an introvert doesn't mean that I am shy or unfriendly. It simply means that I re-energize through more reflective activities. I enjoy spending time alone.

So I say that we should honor each other and the variety of gifts we bring to the table... whether it be ministry, family or whatever! As the old camp song goes, "Different is beautiful!"

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Changes

Anyone who reads this blog knows that our pets are beloved members of our family. Readers probably also know that one member of the family has been failing recently. Our sweet boy Nicky has lost about 20 pounds and is struggling with arthritis. This week he lost the ability to go upstairs by himself. His back legs just won't support him.

I've been praying that when his time comes he will go quietly in his sleep to wait for us at the Rainbow Bridge. (Yes, I know the whole Rainbow Bridge thing is theologically bogus..... but I'm a Universalist when it comes to dogs.) Now, however, I am beginning to think it won't be that easy. How does one decide when the quality of life no longer balances out daily suffering? Is it selfish for me to keep him with us when he is obviously struggling? Are we giving up on him if we 'put him down'?

The truth is I didn't think he would survive our recent move. I thought the changes in routine would be too disorienting for him. It took him a few weeks, but he settled in quite nicely to life in Vermont. His life is pretty limited ~ the house, the back yard ~ but he has seemed happy most days. No matter what we decided in the next few days, I will always feel blessed to have this sweet rescue dog in my life. From the first moment I saw him ~ hitched to a tree behind the kennel ~ I knew he was family.