Monday, January 28, 2019

Word {A Poem}

The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.
Isaiah 50:4 ESV

From the ESV Illuminated Bible: Art Journaling Edition

Your Word: morning light, 
Searching shadows of my heart, 
Scouring source of words.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Recovering REST

The Ebony Dog (2006-2018)

My husband can tell you how much i love words: naming things, nicknaming people, digging into etymology, decoding idioms,... I love it all. When we were in SE Asia, my eyes were drawn to words on signs and in windows even though i couldn’t read them. It’s no surprise, then, that I’ve prayerfully sought a theme word for the year since at least 2011.

Often those words have turned out to be the central challenge of the year, like 2014, the year of “refuge,” when i had shoulder surgery followed by 6 solid months of physical therapy and then the unexpected death of my grandmother. I needed the reminder of God my unfailing refuge. 

Or 2018, the year of “love,” when i knew the utter heartbreak of losing my shadow dog abruptly to cancer and later celebrated the joy of a milestone birthday and anniversary for my parents. From one extreme to the other and in everything in between, God’s love was real and true and trustworthy, when i could feel it and when i couldn’t. For most of the year i had to take that by faith in His promises.

For 2019, the word is “rest.” Like 2017 and 2018, this year is already continuing the momentum of a full schedule of medical appointments, family, and puppy training. I don’t always have much control over how much physical rest or whitespace a week holds, although i am very ready to leave things undone in order to grab a nap while Moose Tracks is sleeping. That kind of rest, as welcome as it is, was not my objective in this word’s selection.

At one time in my life, thanks to writers like Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, and Andrew Murray, I had learned to grow in spiritual rest even when all around was busy and active. I had begun to learn to roll my burdens onto the Lord’s shoulders sooner rather than later. That carried me through completing a degree while working full-time, through commuting to seminary while tutoring on nights and weekends and delving into prison ministry, through raising support as missionaries, and through relocating to the other side of the globe.

Somewhere along the line, i started dragging my burdens and those of loved ones myself, asking the Lord for help rather than asking Him to carry the weight Himself. That exponentially amplifies the weariness of a full schedule, and I hear Him calling me back to the old way, the way of trust and rest in His sovereign goodness. He is orchestrating all things for my good and His glory and doing a thousand other things into the bargain. My fretting does nothing to expedite or improve the process.

As Hudson Taylor wrote, “Bear not a single care thyself, one is too much for thee; the work is Mine and Mine alone; thy work—to rest in Me.” In Isaiah’s words,
“For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,
‘In returning & rest you shall be saved;
In quietness & trust shall be your strength” (Is. 30:15).

Jesus, I come. Grant me grace to rest in You and trust You with the many heavy burdens on my heart. Amen.

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Changing of the Guard Dog: Introducing Moose Tracks

As regular readers know, the late great Ebony Dog passed away June 1 after a brief illness. We initially thought we would take several months just to grieve and recover from the intensity and trauma of his final week. We reconsidered the timing, in part because this time we knew we needed a dog who would be great with the youngest nephews, who live close enough to see us frequently now. They would have more opportunities to get acquainted with Ebony's successor if we adopted before they went back to school, so we started looking in earnest and going to adoption events.

After one failed foster trial that clarified our non-negotiables, we found a dachshund-terrier mix on Petfinder with a happy face that looked a little like Eb’s. In fact, the facial resemblance is strong enough that Google photo assistant mixes them up on a regular basis. Appearance and appetite are where the resemblance ends, however!

He came to us as Diesel, but now he answers (when he feels like it) to the name of Moose Tracks, like the ice cream. His foster family was amazing and loved him dearly but couldn't adopt him permanently. We have stayed in touch with them, and his foster mom remains his biggest fan.

Moose Tracks (AKA Moosey, Moose, Moose Munch, Special Agent Shredder) is smart, social, silly, sassy, stubborn, and as devoted to Amore as Ebony was to me. He is so smart and curious that he gets bored and invents his own activities if we don’t provide enough stimulation. He is so social that Amore takes him to the dog park on weekends whenever the weather permits, and we are planning doggie daycare days into the routine because he needs and loves them. Ebony was a shy, calm, introverted dog, so there has definitely been a learning curve (which we’re still traveling) as we discover the rhythms and routines that work best for all of us.

Moose Tracks loves walks, training, sunbathing, meeting new people, and barking at the neighbors across the street when they come and go. He has 2 speeds: all out and crashed out. At the moment, he is crashed out, allowing me to put together this many-times-delayed post. (He is not a fan of the glowing screen thingies that pull his humans' attention away from him. Priorities, people!!)

He loves to eat almost anything: mulch, cookies, bully sticks, peanut butter inside a bone, “crunchy water” (ice), sticks, wood shavings, throw rugs, old pillows, stuffed animals, carrots,... He doesn’t like plain lettuce, but that may be the only thing he won’t eat. In fact, he has inspired the Moose Tracks Diet:
if it fits in my mouth, it’s food. If it does not fit in my mouth but I can break it into pieces that fit in my mouth, it’s food. If Mommy says, “No, no, Moose Tracks!! Leave it! Leave it!" It’s definitely food and probably really yummy.

He also has his own tongue twister: How much mulch would a Moose Tracks munch if a Moose Tracks could munch mulch? (The answer is “all of it.”)

Moose Tracks also adores his stuffed animals, but love hurts. I have a toy hospital with a revolving door. He tears one up, I sew it back together, he tears it up again, I repair it again, and so forth until there's not enough left to repair. I wouldn't bother, but he's just too cute when he plays with them, especially when he has a case of the zoomies and sprints around the house squeaking one in his mouth.

Moose has learned quite a few commands in our training sessions: sit, down, stay, come, place, leave it, heel, crate, paw, spin around, roll over, play dead, peekaboo, and drop it. We are working on find it, bring it, floor (when he climbs on something he shouldn't) and head down. He learns very quickly with the proper motivation (food). Heel and leave it are Mr. Curiosity's biggest challenges. Also, he is part billy goat and able to climb on anything he wants. We are still working on those boundaries.

As you can see, Moose tolerates the camera well, and the camera loves him. Today he has been in our family for 6 months. He adds a lot of laughter, makes our Fitbits happy, and challenges our creativity and training skills. We love him a lot! If you come to see us, expect kisses and a welcome waggin'.

Now that we're more settled into our new routine, I will endeavor to post here more consistently in 2019, but I make not promises. Also, I do micro-blog pretty regularly on Instagram: @crumbsfromhistable. Moose has his own feed for the dog people among you: @moosetracksmoore. (Do take what he says with a grain of salt. He is not always the most reliable narrator.)