Pets, Children and Love

Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel. Proverbs 12:10

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As I sit on the sofa with a thunderstorm raging outside, I look down at my little puppy asleep beside me. She is recovering from a minor surgery and has been asleep for a few hours. Glancing at her, I remember how our children used to talk about older people and their dogs. We laughed because we had dogs too, but the older folks treated their dogs like children! And now, here I am. Our children have children of their own. And my husband and I have a new dog. My daughter recently remarked that we had become “those people” who treat their dog like one of their own offspring.

I cannot deny this. We do baby this puppy. She goes with us everywhere we can possibly take her. She goes to the store, to any restaurant with outdoor dining, and even to the beach.  She goes on road trips, sleeps in our hotel room, and looks out the car window toward our next destination. And now, as she lays quietly and moans, I think about our love for animals and even more, I think about our profoundly deep love for our children.

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There are guidelines in the Scripture about parents and children. There are verses about how fathers and mothers are to be parents. And of course there is much written about how children are to behave, listen to, and respect their parents. All of these verses about children, and about animals, have one thing in common: love. The guidelines are there so that we, as Christians, know and understand how precious these lives are. And, as Christians, we know a lot about love. The Scriptures are full of examples and stories about love. As it turns out, love is the most essential part of being Christian.

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

And how much does God love us? The most important indication of that is found in the well known verse from John:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…John 3:16.

Think about that. As parents, it is hard to conceive of loving others so much that we would offer up our own child to die for other people. But that is exactly what happened. And even more difficult to comprehend is the love that God has for his Son, and the love that Jesus has for us. Jesus said:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  John 15:9

We cannot possibly love as much as God loves us. But we can try. We can follow the guidelines set before us to strengthen our faith and our love for our children, our family, our God, and of course, our pets. My puppy will recover and we will go on our next adventure. We trust that God will also watch, guide, and love our children, and their children, as they go through each day. We know His love is powerful enough for us all.

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Her children call her blessed

 

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After reading my last blog, my mother emailed me and asked. “Are you sure you are my daughter?” She was asking because she has trouble understanding that she influenced my love of writing. It is true. She did contribute to that skill along with other skills possessed by myself and my siblings. But this question made me think about mothers and mothering in general.

Mothers come in all types and with many different abilities. My mother, for example, instilled in me the idea of independence. It is not independence just for survival. It was the concept of independence of ability and the belief that “You can do whatever you set your mind to do.” There was never any condition set upon it. I could have told her I would be an astronaut, an executive CEO of a business, anything. She would have said the same thing. This belief propelled me to eventually earn two doctoral degrees, become a professor, dean, and writer. But this blog is not about that. It is about mothers.

Mothers can by choice, or necessity, work full-time jobs. These moms instill independence and motivation. Their children can become excellent problem solvers and independent thinkers. Other mothers dedicate their lives to staying at home and they make a career of raising productive loving families. These children may learn excellent interpersonal skills that will help them to have empathy for others that will boost their success in all walks of life. Still, other mothers put careers first and instill achievement and self-sufficiency in their children.

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Then there are the “super mothers.” I know about these super moms because my daughter is one. A super mom is a mom when she does not have to be. This can include being a super mom because a mother raises children who are not hers. My daughter is a super mom because she fosters infants who, for one reason or another, cannot remain with their biological mothers. She is a foster mother of infants whose bodies may be withdrawing from drugs or grappling with recovery from neglect or abuse. She is the mom who is up all hours while the infants experience withdrawal, anxiety, or physical illness. She is an angel for those babies who need an angel more than anything.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat of the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all…” Proverbs 31:25-30

But one thing all mothers have in common is praying for the very best for their children. This never stops. As long as a mother is alive, she is praying for the best health, completely amazing welfare, all-encompassing safety, unbelievably wonderful relationships, strongest faith, and general well-being, for her children. Mothers whose children leave home for college, the military, a new job, or inter into a marriage, are all praying for their children. It never stops.

I often worry about and pray for my own children and their children. My children are adults, and their children soon will be. Embracing our faith keeps us strong and helps us to turn our worry about our children over to Him. Children raised in faith may be tested but will ultimately return to their faith. So, for now we all pray and give thanks for these many blessings of motherhood and families. We know that our children lives, and ours, are in His hands.

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it Proverbs 22:6

 

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Peacefulness in Times of Worry

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There are many reasons we worry. We worry about planning something. We worry when we are doing that thing we planned. And then, afterward, we worry if we did the right thing. Later, we worry what others think about what we just did or said. Worry, worry, worry.

Our family is worrying because we are experiencing the unknown. Maybe, your family is like our family. Your family may be facing something unknown. When we are faced with the unknown, it creates worry that may escalate to anxiety. The anxiety occurs because we are not in control. We cannot see the unknown, so we think about it constantly and we worry. What we fail to remember is that we are never really in control. We make plans and decisions and hope for positive outcomes. We pray for positive outcomes. And, if it is His will, we have positive outcomes.

There are times when we will not know the outcome right away. This extended period of time, when we do not know what will happen next, causes worry. The period of time may be days, weeks, months, or years. Such is the case when our loved ones are critically ill, our loved ones are serving in the military, our loved ones go off to college alone for the first time, or our loved ones leave the house each day to patrol our cities or fight our fires. We wait. We pray. We worry. That is our nature.

Giving in to worry and anxiety is not what God wants for us. Jesus talked about anxiety and worry with His disciples when He asked:

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” Luke 12: 25-26.

Being human, we cannot help ourselves. Try as we might, we still worry. We are still anxious. So, what can we do? What should we do?

We lean on each other. We talk to each other. We have fellowship together. We celebrate our good times. And we wait together. We wake each day with hearts full of thankfulness for the gifts we have. For guidance, we turn to Scripture. Scripture can calm our souls, free our minds, give us hope, and help us pray.

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Remembering that God’s ways are higher than our ways, we know that all things will work together for the good for those who are His children. So take a moment, say a prayer of thanks, and look forward to the times ahead with thankfulness. This is the way to peacefulness in times of worry.

 

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And Just Like That….

You were here just a few days ago and now you are gone. Just like that. My life is suddenly different from two different angles. In the past few months, I have seen the claws of Alzheimer’s Disease tear away the mind of a loved one. Though he is there, he is gone. Sometimes I see a glimmer. And that makes the reality more evident that most of the time, he is not with us anymore.

My grandson left yesterday, too. He is now serving his country. He was excited to take on this mission. We are proud, but he is gone from us for a while. And so loneliness seems to be pulling me from two different directions.

Gone for now are the smiles, the voice, the hugs, the silliness, the laughter, the fun. And in its place, there is loneliness. Emptiness. Quiet.

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How do we make it through these days, and even longer nights? We look at the pictures over and over. There he is. I remember the time when we… We talk with each other. We hang on. And in the midst of all of this, we grasp for our faith. We know that in our weakness, God makes us strong. We pull ourselves up, one small inch at a time, and move forward. There will be a time for connection again. I will see my grandson soon. He will bring his smiling face back for a visit, and another, and another. We will have the hugs, the laughter, the silliness, and the love, in our presence once again. Our hearts will be full.

My loved one with Alzheimer’s will be present again because when he leaves this earth, he will be waiting for his family in heaven. We will have the laughter and hugs again someday. And our hearts will be full.

Until that time of reconnection, I will remember that my plans are not my own. I cannot see the plans God has, but I know He has them. I cannot know the next steps in my life, but there will be steps. And I will not be walking alone.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope Jeremiah 29:11

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The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me! Please walk this journey with me as I begin this blog.

We all have our ups and downs in life. And then some of us have craters that we fall into and struggle to find our way out. That is me. Ask my Mom and she would tell you that I began falling into craters early and continued for some time! But seriously, when we are at our lowest is when we can become strong. All strength comes from only one source: our God and Savior.

Perhaps, like some of you, it took a really deep deep crater in my life to wake me up. Hopefully it did not take you as long as it took me. I fought my way out of that deep crater for 18 years. Now, through writing devotional books based on personal experiences, my hope is that others can use these devotional books and this blog to help them along more quickly.

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Let me set the record straight. I had plenty of education and training and should have been able to jump out of life’s craters with ease. After all, I have a Ph.D. in psychology and another doctorate in education. Granted I knew all of the techniques, therapies, and theories to remedy a crisis for someone else. When it came to finding solutions for myself, it took years and years. In the end, all of the theories and techniques hardly scratched the surface of healing. I finally figured out that God was walking beside me the whole way. Realizing He was there set me on the straight path and took me out of the crater. He helps us all when we ask.

In the future this blog will include devotionals and other writings. There is only one goal of this blog: to help others find their way. With that in mind, if you have a topic for a devotional, feel free to send it my way. Until the next posting, read Scripture and other sources of strength and hope. And remember: All things are possible with Christ.

 

 

All devotionals are available on Amazon.