Archive for October, 2004

Lions, Lambs, and Dogs!

Posted: October 13, 2004 in Everything

Things were just a little bit quieter at our house this morning. I first noticed the beam of daybreak when my alarm clock went off. That hasn’t happened in over two years. I used to see first morning’s light when our dog, Ralph lifted his front paws to the edge of our bed, his eyes saying that it was time to get up and go out back. Ralph’s bladder was not as sturdy as mine. By 5:30 a.m. he needed to go out for some relief.

Those mornings are over now. Ralph won’t jump in the bed to let us know of God’s renewed mercies through the coming of a new day. My heart is filled with an altogether different mourning now.

You see, 10 months ago, God defied doctors beliefs and distributed divine blessings on our house through the birth of our daughter, Malia Rose. She is an angel in babies clothing! We prayed for her for years and she is more and better than we ever could have imagined. She is an incredible baby. She is sweet, she is cute, she is pure, she is adventurous…but she is also vulnerable.

And yesterday, in the blink of an eye, our normally playful, peaceful dog, Ralph, bit her on the face.

The decision we had to make was easy. He had to go! As a friend told me this morning, “We love our dogs, but we love our daughters more.” Making the decision was terrible! I have never cried so many tears. Even now they flow.

It would be easy to say a lot of negative things about having a dog like Ralph. He had been abandoned by his first owners, so he was very needy. He was growing older and sicker, so he threw up on the carpet often. He barked for hours when anyone came within 20 feet of our house. All of those things are true, and were at times annoying, but the thing that is truest about Ralph is simple: He was my friend!

Every time I was sick and confined to the house and bed, there was Ralph with his cold, wet nose nuzzled comfortably next to my arm. When Malia was a newborn and awoke several times in the night, Ralph was by my side as we rocked her back to sleep. Every moment of this year’s meager sunlight has been refreshed by Ralph’s beagle-brown-brilliant eyes.

He was my friend. I will miss him!

Most of the time, in this space on the web, I like to make spiritual applications about things. Not today. It’s not that there aren’t any, I just can’t think of them today.

But on second thought, I want my little corner of the web to be about “Seeking Relics of Divine Goodness.” That’s what Ralph was–an artifact of God’s goodness. I hate the fact that my dog–in the end–was a dog. He is supposed to bite stuff from time to time. But I’m reminded of another time, before Adam and Eve’s fruitful day, when all was peace. And I look forward to the time when that peace will return, when the lion will lie down with the lamb. When the baby will lie down with the beagle.

Like I said to Ralph yesterday, shortly before we drove away from the Bluebonnet Beagle Rescue, “I’ll see you in heaven.”

A big chunk of my day everyday is eaten up by reading. Either my nose is hidden behind graduate school books, tucked into literature for study for classes I’m teaching or preparing, or digesting really important periodicals like Sports Illustrated.

Fortunately, every now and then I will read a paragraph that is so bold, so poetic, so profound and so refreshing that it stops me in my tracks. I found one of those paragraphs in Barbara Brown Taylor’s, The Preaching Life.

She writes…

“To believe that (that God wants to have a relationship with us) is an act of faith–not a one-time decision, but a daily and sometimes hourly choice to act as if that were true in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Sometimes it feels like pure make-believe. I read the weekend newspaper, full of stories about violence, addiction, corruption, disaster, and I wonder whom I kidding. Or my own life begins to spring leaks and I lie awake in the middle of the night faint with fear. I want a safer world, I want a more competent God. Then I remember that God’s power is not a controlling but a redeeming power–the power to raise the dead, including those who are destroying themselves–and the red blood of belief begins to return to my veins. I have faith. I lose faith. I find faith again, or faith finds me, but throughout it all I am grasped by the possibility that it is all true:I am in good hands; love girds the universe; God will have the last word.”

5 Things I Think I Think

Posted: October 8, 2004 in Everything

Borrowing from the column title of one of my favorite sportswriters, Peter King, I thought I might jot down, 5 Things I Think I Think.

1. The Major League Baseball Playoffs are some of the most dramatic theatre known to man. Here in Houston, you cannot escape the buzz of the Astros verses Atlanta Braves playoff series. The series is tied 1-1, with the games coming to Houston this weekend. I want the Astros to do well, but come on, I’m a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan. I knew the Braves starting lineup before I could walk. At present, a Chipper Jones bobble-head doll adorns one of my office bookshelves. At any rate, every pitch in the post-season carries sumo-like weight, which is what makes the playoffs so much fun. I think I’ll be happy either way the Houston-Atlanta series ends: Go Braves!

2. People Don’t Read Enough. It’s not that people are illiterate or don’t enjoy reading. People read, but few stay in the message of a book until it has a chance to affect them. In Christian literature everyone is so concerned with reading the next hot book that in a year’s time most have forgotten the core message of the first book they read. Here’s something to try out: The next book you read that affects your spiritual walk, live in it for a while, ruminate on it, and then read it again. Lessen your quantity, increase your quality.

3. Coke is Better Than Pepsi. Pepsi is nasty. Enough said!

4. ‘The Princess Bride’ is One of the Best Movies Ever! I saw it as a junior high student and have loved it ever since. No movie–other than ‘Tombstone’–provides so many recognizable one liners (“Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.”)

5. Election Years Bring Out the Best in America and the Worst in People. We have a tremendous right in this country–we can select our governmental leaders. America is a beacon for freedom. Elections serve to remind us of all the blessings of freedom and makes us mindful of all peoples who suffer under dictators and/or unjust system. Somehow, however, elections bring out the worst in people. Friends fight over this candidate or that issue. What’s more, it gets ugly! Lines are drawn, factions gathered, enemies identified and opposition demonized. I just think that there must be a way for our disagreements–serious as they are, I’m not naive–could be dealt with in a more straightforward, intellectually honest, civil way. I just want to remind all of us who hold claim to the cross of Jesus: Civil participation is wonderful and needed, but let’s be mindful of the apostle Peter’s urging that we live as “aliens and exiles” in this world. Our citizenship is elsewhere.