Yesterday, I Experienced Death…

I got a call yesterday from my sister who wanted me to go with her to put her dog down.  He has been sick for a while.  He has problems breathing.  He has seizures.  I guess he had a seizure that morning that convinced my sister it was time.  I agreed to go with her.  To support her.  After all, it wasn’t my dog.

She picks me up at my house (we live 5 minutes from each other) and her dog, Hobbit, a cute, fluffy white Pomeranian, is in the front seat.  He appears just as happy as can be.  I get in and hold him.  I give him lots of love and pets.

The vet is only another 3 minutes from my house.  We get out and he’s happy.  He walks fine.  He does his business.  My sister lavishes him with bacon she cooked.  He appears perfectly fine and normal and healthy.

We enter the vets office and are greeted with a friendly, “How are you?”  My sister almost loses it.  The receptionist realizes her mistake immediately.

We wait.  Hobbit is fine.  Happy.  Unknowing of what is to come.  I observe him.  Devoted as all dogs are.  Completely and totally trusting in us.  Never doubting.  Never questioning.

We are taken back.  My sister is crying.  I’m trying not to.  The vet comes in and explains euthanasia and what to expect.  First a sedative to put the dog to sleep.  Then an injection which will stop the heart.  He will breathe his last breath.

Hobbit is happy, walking around, eating treats.  My sister holds him as she administers the sedative.  In about 10 minutes, he is asleep.  He is so calm and oblivious to all that is happening around him.  He does not know he won’t wake up.  He does not know he is going to a better place.  And he does not care.  For he is a dog, a lower animal that only lives moment by moment, and for him, he is just sleepy.  So he sleeps.

I fight the urge to whisk Hobbit out of her arms and dog-nap  him.  For to me he is fine.  Only my sister knows how much pain and suffering he is in.  Still, there’s a part of me who wants to rescue him from his fate–a fate we all have and none of us can be rescued from.  But that hope is what keeps me alive at least…

The vet comes back in.  My sister puts the dog on a table as they shave a place to find a vein to administer the fatal dose.  She is uncontrollably crying.  She pets him and kisses him his last as the vet pushes the plunger in.  In under 30 seconds, Hobbit is gone.  It is sad and I cry.  I kiss the dog.  I tell him what a good dog he is/was.  I tell him he will play with my dog, Bay, who died almost two years ago to the day.  Oh, how I miss her!

I think of my 12-year old ancient English Mastiff at home who will be alive when I return.  Who is ailing himself.  Whom I love with all my heart.  Who is having trouble walking and standing.  But who takes it all in stride.  Who cries when he wants me to pet him because he can no longer come to me.  But who is happy each and every moment of his remaining days.  I know not how much longer I will have him but I hope and I pray God takes him and not me.  So then he can be with his sister and Hobbit too.  So he too can have his body back and he can run like the wind again and he can play with the kids in heaven and bring them joy–as he has done to me down here.

We walk out.  My sister says “Well, that’s over.”  And I say ironically and melancholy, “Yeah, now we get to go on with our lives,” sadness consuming me as we’ve left a companion behind who no longer has theirs.

I love dogs.  I love owning dogs.  But I hate it when they get old.  I can hardly stand it.  I know they are dying because of our sins and it eats at me.  It does.

Some say it is good to see life and death and to accept it.  I say they are crazy.  It should be unacceptable that all things die because of our sins.  It should sadden you.  It should make you want to repent and turn to Him even more.

My sister will have her dog cremated and a paw print made.  She will keep him for now.  As I have kept mine who sits on a bookshelf in my house, silently watching over our family and our dogs, always abiding in my heart.  I miss her, but she is alive in my memories and thanks be to God in my kids’ memories as well.

Yesterday, I experienced death when I didn’t want to.  And I learned Hobbit was my dog as well as are all living creatures.  He was a sweet, sweet puppy who lived a good, faithful, happy life, which is what gives me comfort.  He will be missed and remembered by those around him.  But more importantly he is in a better place, waiting faithfully for his owners to join him.

The Dogs in My Life

The Dogs in My Life

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Overview of BSF’s Study of The Life of Moses

We will begin our story like every good sequel:  a brief review of where we left off (Joseph dying and God’s people in Egypt from the book of Genesis), some background information about what’s happened since to the characters left (all of whom have died and a new tyrant has taken over), and the ‘inciting incident’ as it’s known in book writing–the event that sets everything in motion–Pharaoh’s order to kill every Israeli born-boy.

Exciting, right?  The book of Moses contains some of the most well-known stories (and subsequent movies) in the Bible.  Classic stories of good versus evil (Pharaoh versus Moses and God).  Awesome miracles.  Triumphs and tragedies.

Should be a good year!

In fact, one-eighth of the Bible is devoted to the Story of Moses (so probably a lot of reading this year).  That is nearly two-thirds the length of the New Testament.  Should be a clue on how important Moses is to God.

Time period?  Ancient Times.  Exact dates differ from scholars but probably either 1520 BC or 1225 BC can we place Moses’ birth.  350 years since we left Joseph.  God’s people are now slaves, working on Pharaoh’s vast building projects.  Oppressed.  God has been silent all those years. Now is the time for liberation and God chooses Moses.  To him has fallen the task of uniting God’s people, telling them God is with them and they must flee, and leading them through it all.

Moses will not be alone (although he may sometimes feel like he is like we all do); by his side will be God.  (After all, Moses is the first person recorded in the Bible to work miracles).  He talks with God, sees God, is the closest to God.  He wrote many of these books we will study.  He is revered by Jews as the liberator.  He is indeed special.

Moses’ name is said to mean “drawing out” (Exodus 2:10) from a Hebrew word but some scholars speculate it was Egyptian.  Note how no one else in the Bible has the name of Moses so many other great OT leaders.  Little is known of Moses’ childhood but as an adopted son to Pharaoh’s daughter, he would have had the best education of the times.

The Book of Moses is divided into two parts.  The first 20 chapters will fly by as they describe the exciting events of Israel’s flight from Egypt.

Rembrandt_-_Moses_with_the_Ten_Commandments_-_Google_Art_Project

Moses by Rembrandt Courtesy of Google Art Projects

The last 20 chapters focus on the laws and regulations given to God’s people for how to live: moral rules, civil and social rules, religious and ceremonial rules.

This second half is just as important, if not more so, than the first half for all of God’s laws will point to the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and we must look for Jesus in this half.  This part may be difficult to read and boring but if you have Jesus in mind, you will power through it along with Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers.

Hebrews 7-10 will help us connect the Old Testament to the New and Moses to Jesus.  It should be read along with this study.

Exodus 32-35 is where Moses speaks to God.  This will probably be my favorite part for I often wonder what it would have been like and what it will be like when I get to heaven to speak with God, hear His voice, see His face.

We will cover a lot of God’s history this year but for me this will be about Moses.  How God chose a man who was far from perfect, gave him incredible abilities to do His will, how Moses succeeded and failed when he obeyed God and disobeyed God, how he sinned and how he was punished, and how God still loved him and forgave him in His mighty grace.

All this applies to everyone of us.  We will be able to see parts of ourselves in Moses and see how God is always there, loving us every step of the way.  Moses was born a Hebrew slave but rose up to be God’s right hand man.  He was chosen by God for a purpose and he accomplished it.  This is true for us all.  With faith, we too will accomplish our purposes as well.

This will be an exciting yet challenging year to say the least.

If you have Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary or a similar one, you can look up “Moses” and read a short summary of all that happens in his life.  I highly recommend this before class so you have an idea of where we start, where we are going, and where we’ll end.

Please feel free to share this post with your friends and family who are on the fence about BSF and are wondering what we will learn this year.  At the end of this post is a share button which you can click on and share via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  So invite your friends and family for one of the most colorful and impactful characters in the Bible and for an in-depth study of some of the most well-known stories in the Bible as well!

God bless and many hugs and kisses from the bottom of my heart!

Side Note:  Did anyone else know Rembrandt painted Moses?  I didn’t until I did this post.  He is most well-known for his self-portraits and portraits of others that I had missed this one.  Cool stuff in my book!!

Dadblamed Union Army Cow

Dadblamed Union Army Cow

Dadblamed Union Army Cow

Dadblamed Union Army Cow is a delightful tale from Susan Fletcher that tells the true story of a cow in the Civil War.  A soldier tells his tale about his cow who followed him everywhere, including to enlist in the army. She wouldn’t go home.  So she went with him, rode on a train, and followed him all the way to war!

In the beginning, the cow was a pain.  He had to find fresh grass for her and she got stuck in the mud and had to be pulled out and she’d end up in the middle of a battle.  But that cow turned out to be useful.  She kept the flies away with her tale.  She kept him warm at night.  She supplied milk when they had little else to eat.  And when the soldier took a musket ball to the shoulder, the cow was there, staying by his side in the army hospital as he healed.  When the war ended, the cow was there, following him all the way home.

Their story made the newspaper and the cow made headlines.  She got visitors from miles around and got a new shed built.  She even received a medal!  In the end, the cow was his friend who always said “moo”.

Based off of a true story of a cow that traveled with the Fifty-Ninth Regiment of Indiana Volunteers, this tale touched my heart.  Another story of how attached animals are to humans and how that bond is very powerful.  The cow did appear in the Greencastle, Indiana, newspaper in 1872 and retired to pasture upon returning home.  Just a wonderful picture book with great illustrations and simple text that will surely delight.  Highly recommended!!

I Can’t Quit (Even Though I’d Like To)…

I was in the middle of my second novel re-write when I got a critique back from a writing contest I had entered.  The critique was bad.  I was missing an “inciting incident” (which I had to look up. It’s the central conflict of the story and the moment the main character is forced to act and we learn what he or she wants the most).  The plot and dialogue were shakey to put it nicely.  But my novel “has a ton of potential” and “could be interesting”.

Seriously?

So I immediately stopped work on it and thought what else I could do with my life instead.  Read my books instead of kids books.  Teach (didn’t get that job either).  Or piddle-paddle around through life.  I was depressed about it to say the least and ready to quit altogether.

Finally, I realized while swimming the other day that God keeps closing doors He doesn’t want me to go down, but this writing door remains open.

While searching the Internet aimlessly (something I’m wont to do when I’m feeling down in the dumps), I read articles on writing.  One article said that a writer is someone who can’t quit writing.  Someone who feels compelled to write no matter the amount of rejection or the lack of success.  Someone who can’t do anything else but write.

That’s how I feel.  Something inside of me is still pushing me to write even though I don’t want to.  I can’t kill it.  It’s a desire that’s there and won’t go away.

Sigh.

So I guess I’ll keep writing (not that I have a choice about it).  And maybe some day this novel that will enter its third (and God-willing final) re-write will go somewhere.  That’s my prayer at least. While the door is still open…

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare follows a sixteen year-old girl who leaves her native Barbados for the colony of Connecticut in 1687.  Her parents and grandfather have all died and she only has one aunt on her mother’s side.  She arrives unannounced and it is apparent from the beginning she does not fit in in this Puritan town.  She can swim for one thing and she is unused to hard labor and small towns having an aristocratic background.

She is immediately courted by the most eligible bachelor (and the richest) in town, William Ashby.  She helps her cousin, Mercy, with the school and teaches a girl named Prudence how to read when her mother refuses to send her to school.  She meets an elderly woman named Hannah who has been accused of witchcraft mainly because she lives alone and is a Quaker.

Kit is drawn to Hannah and they develop a secret friendship.  Hannah offers worldly wisdom, telling her “The answer is in thy heart.  Thee can always hear it if thee listens for it.”

Hannah’s magic cure for everything:  Blueberry cake and a kitten.

Prudence asks why people say she’s a witch.  Kit says cause people are afraid of things they don’t understand.

Hannah says there is no escape if love is not there.

Kit is attracted to Nat Eaton, a ship captain’s son, who helps Hannah as well.

A sickness develops and the Puritan colony blames Hannah the witch for cursing them.  They try to run her out of town but Kit along with Nat’s help warns her in time.  With Hannah gone to live in a neighboring town, the townspeople turn on Kit, claiming she is a witch as well.  No evidence exists and with Prudence’s help who proves she can read and write and has not been infected by witchcraft, Kit is set free.  Kit ends her courtship with William who did not come to her defense at her trial and plans to return to Barbados when winter ends.

She sees Nat in early spring who now has his own ketch, and he immediately asks her uncle for her hand in marriage.

A wonderful book with happy endings for all involved.  All the love stories end up fulfilled and justice does prevail along with stereotypes being broken down.  Great story of standing up for others when it’s the right thing to do even when your life is threatened.  Great historical depiction of life in the early American colonies and Puritan life.  Winner of the Newbery Medal in 1959.  A classic of literature not to be missed.

It’s BSF Time Again (Well, Almost!)

Hey all,

Hope everyone had a restful and relaxing summer.  We just back from a camping trip where a hummingbird got stuck in our tent.  It was so amazing to see up close just how fast those wings actually move.  God’s creations are amazing!Hummingbird

Like last year, I’m wondering start dates for you all.  I will be doing the Study of Moses (sorry to all those Revelation guinea pigs out there :(  Will have to wait until next year.

I’m SUPER excited as I’ll be taking on an expanded volunteer role with BSF (and, no, not a group leader, although maybe one day).

Just leave your start date below as a comment.

Thanks and have a fantastic, blessed week!

Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) and the Truth Chasers Club

I normally don’t promote other products or ministries or otherwise on this site.  But this one I will make an exception.

(Note:  I was not approached by this organization to write this or otherwise promote them as I often am nor was I offered any compensation in any way.  This is a review and an opinion based on my experience and should be viewed and read as such).

I was told by a friend about 3 years ago that there’s a club called the Truth Chasers Club where kids receive bible studies in the mail.  She got me the information and I enrolled myself and my kids in it.  Ever since then, we have been receiving bible studies in the mail.  I have since dropped due to time constraints, but my kids LOVE it.  They love getting mail and they love doing their lessons.

The lessons are based on age and grade so the younger kids have less reading and more hands-on activities such as coloring and book marks.  As the children age, the lessons increase in size and content as well.  Every time the kids receive their old lesson in the mail with hand-written notes and it graded along with the new lesson.  You only receive a new lesson when you’ve returned the old one (unless you are like us and you lose yours–then after a month or so they send you a duplicate one!).

I normally don’t pay much attention to these as the kids do them on their own, but this last lesson is the one that has prompted me to write and recommend them.  The lesson was on death and what happens to a believer when he or she dies.  It compares the body to a house in which the soul lives and when you die, the house is buried but the soul immediately goes to be with Christ.  It is accompanied by a lovely illustration of this.  It was awesome in terms of explaining death to little kids, which is always a challenge!

These lessons are FREE!  Let me say that again:  these lessons are free (much like BSF or Bible Study Fellowship) as their mission is to promote Jesus to children around the world.

I visited their website (www.cefonline.com) and they are doing much more than the Truth Chasers Club to promote Christ.  They train children and adults in evangelism and also do after school Bible clubs known as the Good News Club.  I cannot attest to any other part of their work except for the Truth Chasers Club for that is all I have experience with.  However, they have been around since 1937 and seem to have a great reputation for spreading God’s Word and the Good News.

That being said, they have encountered resistance and concern from parents ministering to their children (which CEF says they always have permission from the parents to do).  I have no opinion on this matter as I don’t know much about it.  However, all of this is recent and in today’s increasingly secular society and the push against Christ, you have to approach it as such.  In my mind, you can’t do enough to expose kids to Christ.  Again, I have no opinion on any other work CEF does other than the Truth Chasers Club.

In conclusion, I do recommend the Truth Chasers Club.  I have seen nothing that goes against what the Bible says as truth and my kids love it.  It has valuable lessons and fun kid activities.  And it’s free!  Just another compliment to your Biblical teachings at home and at your church, much like BSF is intended to be.  Invaluable if you live in remote areas far from church and community or lacking such amazing bible studies as BSF.  Check them out and decide for yourself at www.cefonline.com  You can enroll online.  Let me know what you think!