Wednesday, September 29, 2010

pondering the deep questions

I saw a cop on a motorcycle today with four pairs of handcuffs hanging from his belt.  Where would he put everyone?

If I got arrested by a motorcycle cop, would I have to ride in front because I get carsick, or would that not apply?

Is arson wrong if it would actually improve the condition of the home?

Monday, September 20, 2010

fun with grandpa - 09/20/10

Today Grandpa and I were talking about birthdays - today is one relative's, he mentioned someone else's on Oct. 7, "and someone else has one on December 19!" 
"My birthday's on the 16th, Grandpa." 
"December!  December 19!" 
"No, December 16." 
"You changed it!"

Someone called and said they'd like to come over to visit Gpa today.  When I told him the visitor was coming, Grandpa said, "Good for him!  I'll give him a medal."

Grandpa and his male visitor had a nice, chatty visit - I was in the room, but worked on the newspaper's crossword puzzle most of the time.  Somehow their conversation turned to women and how much they talk!  Then they both turned their heads and looked at me.  I slowly raised my eyebrows at them and pointed to my SHUT mouth.  Well, it was shut until I stuck my tongue out at them.

Today we watched part of "My Darling Clementine" on TV. (Gpa is being very good-natured about the new fall TV season which does not include any episodes of "I Love Lucy"!  If they take away Andy Griffith too, we may have a problem.)  One scene reminded Gpa of a memory:  "I used to know a guy that drank so much one time he threw up and his false teeth fell into the toilet and he flushed them."  This sharing of memories is just one of the reasons I love to spend quality time with Grandpa.  :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

fun with grandpa - 9/17/10

Yesterday Grandpa asked me if I had any tulips.  I started to say no, when I remembered he used to pull this joke on me when I was little (two lips).  He also likes to tell his son to take an extra pair of pants when he goes golfing in case he gets a hole in one.  (When you're 93 you can get away with bad jokes.)  This a.m. Grandpa told me his tulips ate his cream of wheat at breakfast and he didn't get any.  I told him that was terrible, and for lunch I'd duct tape his tulips so he could have his soup.  "Oh no you won't!!!"  When he asked for pudding after lunch, he described it as having white hair.  "Where's the brown?" I asked.  "On the bowl."  So I turned the bowl upside down, put a dollop of pudding on its base and added a squirt of whipped cream.  "You said on, not in!"  He thought that was pretty funny; we're easily amused.

A woman we know is going on a trip and she asked gpa what he wanted as a souvenir.  "You don't have to do that," he said.  "Just bring me a quarter."  "A quarter?" she asked.  As if she had asked a dumb question, he replied, "Yeah, you know, the one with George Washington on it."

He was in the mood for silliness today.  Sometimes I help him get his sweatshirt on, and when I gathered up the sleeves and held it out to him today, he dived his hands through the neck hole and laughed.  Someday I'm just gonna' put the shirt on like that.  He got our favorite hospice worker good today - in preparation for helping him stand, she took the pillows he uses to prop himself up, put them on the couch, then went back to gpa, bent over, and asked if he was ready.  He whipped a water gun out from under the blanket covering his legs and got her good!  We practiced a little before she got there, and he fumbled a bit, but when it mattered he was like James Bond!  Naturally, when she asked if that was my idea, Grandpa ratted on me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

having fun with Grandpa and a (brilliant?) idea

Grandpa and I are developing little rituals for some of the things we do every day.  When I ask him if he wants dessert after lunch, he usually says, "Yes, white on brown."  This means whipped cream on chocolate pudding.  Sometimes I pretend I'm going to give him mashed potatoes on brown gravy, sometimes I get the food right but decide to put white next to brown instead, sometimes I spray the white all over myself (accidentally).

After lunch I ask him if he wants his feet up in the recliner.  He's begun to spell or use acronyms for his answer.  "F U," he said a couple of weeks ago ("feet up").  After my shocked reaction to my grandfather telling me to f u, Grandpa changed it to "F U-P."  Today I asked, "Way F U-P?" and pressed lightly on the back of the chair, beginning to tilt him backward (don't tell my dad).  Grandpa laughed and said, "No no no no no!  F just level!"

Grandpa had a couple of visitors this morning.  After the second one left he said, "What a lot of visitors!  I'm ready for President Obama!"

Due to a combination of tough whiskers and very tender skin which makes shaving difficult, Grandpa is growing out his beard for the first time in his life.  He's not sure he likes it, but many of us love it - he really does look handsome - I mean, even more handsome.  Maybe I'll let my own grow out.  He's also started wearing his John Deere cap because sometimes the light in the room is too bright for him.  So now when I go downstairs instead of seeing a bald, clean-shaven man I see a guy who's ready to enter the high-stakes poker championships, if someone would just get him some sunglasses.

Speaking of beards, you know how in 5th grade or thereabouts they split up the boys and girls at school and give you "the talk" or show you "the video" about the wonderful changes your body has begun or will soon begin to make?  I think we should get another talk in high school.  I mean, I really could've used a heads up that someday my breasts would develop an irresistable attraction to my navel, that I'd walk into rooms and forget what I was going to do there, and grow facial hair.  If you watch enough TV you figure out the boobs thing, but chin hair?  Are you kidding me?!

ridiculous phone call(s)

My internet service provider cut off my service the other day because I hadn't paid them in a while (go figure).  This is yet another area in which I need to improve my practice in stewardship.  I think my move and the changes associated with it will help.  But had I paid on time, I would have missed this delightful experience:

Call #1:  paid the balance due by phone, then talked to someone in customer service who told me the reconnection would happen automatically in 10-20 minutes.

Call #2:  after 45 minutes and still no service, I called again and spoke with someone in tech. support, who transferred me to billing and gave me their direct #.  V. in billing was very helpful, and was looking into the problem when my cell phone either cut out or I pressed the "end" button with my cheek, which I have annoyingly done before.

Call #3:  I called billing's direct line but still had to go through the same beginning rigmarole with the chatty male auto-voice, who says things like, "Thanks.  I'll just look that up." and "What is the nature of your problem?  You can say things like...."  Finally I got to a human being, explained I had been in the middle of some process with someone in billing when we got disconnected, and asked if he could help me.  He told me the reconnection will happen automatically in 5-6 hours.  After a brief pause, I said, "I'm sorry, did you say hours?"  "Yes, ma'am, 5-6 hours."

I decided my need to watch old Seinfeld episodes was not dire and that I could pack boxes instead.  But the suspense was killing me; if I called again to see how long it would take, who would win best two out of three?

Call #4:  I called again and had a lovely conversation with auto-guy, who asked me for the fourth time:
"Please enter your account number."  I did so.  "Thanks.  I'll just look that up."  (I'd called them a couple of times before today, and since my last call they'd added new, disturbing beep-beep-boop-click-click sounds while auto-guy "looks up" my account.  I can't decide if it's scarier to imagine a computer actually doing this, like a Terminator prequel, or that the company views Americans (rightly or wrongly) as being too dumb or too impatient to wait through a few seconds of silence.)
"Now, so I can best serve you, please tell me in a few words what the nature of your problem is.  You can say things like, 'I'd like to know my bal-'
"Tech support"
"You said 'other.'  Is that correct?"
"My mistake.  What is the nature of your prob-"
"Tech support"
"Okay, tech support.  Is this regarding a problem with a modem, disconnection-"
"Okay.  Many disconnection problems can be solved by....Did you try this before calling?"
(Pause)  "Please say 'yes' or 'no.'  Did you tr-"

I finally got transferred to a human, who talked so softly I told her I couldn't hear her.  She apologized and apparently adjusted her headset at the same time I turned up the volume on my phone full-blast, because then I heard, "Can yoU HEAR ME NOW???"  I could, explained my problem, and she told me I actually needed to speak with someone in accts. receivable, and transferred me.  I figured the whole office must have watched Mr. Rogers tapes over lunch, because every human I spoke to told me I was a very special customer and they were thrilled to have my business; this last woman oozed so much happiness and gratitude that sap started dripping from my phone.  I wanted to ask, "Seriously?  Have you seen my account record?" but I didn't.  The woman in a/r said I was the second call that afternoon about being disconnected, blamed it all on their system, said her manager was working on the problem, and I should be able to get back online in 30-45 minutes.  She was right!

Now I just have to call them one more time to cancel service for good when I move - I sure wasn't going to mention that until they'd reconnected me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

choosing a sometimes extravagant and ridiculous life

When I think about how I got my new (to me) queen-sized bed, the word "extravagance" comes to mind.  I'd always slept on a twin; the one I most recently had I bought used 16 years ago.  The dogs liked to sleep on it too, which I didn't mind, except there wasn't enough room for all 3 of us.  So I decided it was time to buy a big-girl bed.  I mentioned this off-handedly to a friend of mine, who said she knew a couple that were giving away their spare queen bed.  I happily took it.  I believe God had a hand in giving me that bed, and it was an extravagant gift, both from God and the couple.  They gave me numerous bedding items along with the bed, and everything was in pristine shape.  A few weeks after I got the bed, the dogs had chewed up 2 sheets, 2 pillow slipcovers, 1 blanket, and the comforter.  Everything but the comforter is beyond help, except for use as rags.  I did my own share of "damage" - one of the pillows and pillow cases has a bunch of pen marks on it from my doing puzzles before I go to sleep.  I looked at all this damage once, and thought how sad it was that the bed that had been taken care of so well was now a mess.  Then I realized, or God showed me, that he knew very well what kind of home this bed was going to and what kind of terrors it would endure.  And I got, was given, the bed anyway.  I saw it as a marvelous extravagance on God's part - not only did I not really need a new bed, I certainly didn't need such a nice one.  I didn't even pray for one; I viewed getting a new bed the same way I get shampoo or gasoline - it's just something you do in life.  But God butted in and revealed his presence and gave to me lavishly and unexpectedly.  I don't know why he did, but I am thankful for it.

At the end of this month I am moving in with my aunt and uncle.  I am giving away and selling most of everything I own - I have a strong desire for simplicity in this area.  I think I will even give away the bed and go back to a twin-size to save space.  It seems ridiculous, extravagant, to give it up.  It also seems like the obvious choice - God & the couple gave it to me, now I'm done with it and am passing it along - this is the way I think we should handle most of our stuff, maybe all of it.  The bed never was strictly mine, I just used it for a while.

I am making some choices this month that seem to make no rational sense:  giving away a lot of things (won't I need them again someday?), giving up the dogs (isn't that a bit extreme?), postponing further training in tutoring (don't I need this info. for my current students?), postponing tutoring itself until I've moved and life has settled down a bit (why can't you handle 2 hours a week?  don't you need the money?), and moving in with family (are you nuts?!  you love living alone and haven't shared space with anyone since 1991!).  I don't know if these are good or bad or neutral decisions; I can't understand my situation anymore.  And I think that's exactly what God wants - I've relied too much on rational thought in the past.  Now I consider options and make decisions based on what Catholics (and probably others) call a sense of consolation or desolation - I sense if this is the way to move forward or not, I move forward when it seems right, and I have no idea what will happen next.  It's sort of like jumping out of a plane without a parachute, knowing that something else will work out, but you don't know what that is.  Once you're done screaming and throwing up and pinwheeling your arms and legs, it's actually fun and freeing.  And you get to be surprised, to learn something new, grow, and watch how God takes care of you.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

saying goodbye

Almost ten years ago, I realized Chester was not just going to be an ordinary dog to me.  He was going to be very, very special.  I began praying something I prayed off and on throughout those ten years, "Dear Lord, if he goes before I do, help me to bear it, because I don't think I will be able to."

For various reasons, I decided to have Chester put down rather than take him to the humane society.  Once I made that decision, I sensed/God gave me the sense that it was right.

We took Chester to the vet yesterday.  Mom and Dad were with me, and that meant a whole lot.  Before going into the vet's, I walked Chester briefly by a lake behind the building.  As we walked, it began to sprinkle rain.  Rain is my favorite kind of weather, so I received that as a gift and a comfort.  We sat with Chester at the beginning, then left the room for the last part of the procedure.  I went outside to walk a bit, and I was surprised but deeply thankful to find myself filled with praise.  So I praised and thanked God.  There have been tears and sadness, and there will be more, but yesterday and this morning I am filled with peace, joy, love, and gratitude.  They are a wonderful gift from God, and I sensed him holding me tightly all day yesterday, just as my aunt later told me she'd prayed.  I also sensed other relatives and friends holding me up in prayer.

Mom, Dad, and I went from the vet's to Goddard, where my brother's in-laws gave a special spot on their land for Chester's grave.  Brad's father-in-law also built Chester a perfectly-sized coffin, dug the hole, and chose a stone, which I love, to use as a marker.  That's right - this man built a coffin and dug a grave for his son-in-law's sister's dog.  Wow.  He led us in prayer afterward, and then I spent a brief moment alone at the grave, where again I felt joyful, thankful, and sad, but couldn't keep from smiling.  When I left I was filled with peace.

Later I took Oliver to the humane society.  The staff commented on how well-behaved he was in the lobby while I filled out paperwork - good job, Ollie!  :)  Hopefully, his anxiety will soon pass and he will be found by a fun family who will take good care of that fun and loving dog.  I will miss his "kisses" on my leg after every dinner - he'd finish eating, come to me, and lick my lower leg once.  Perhaps just wiping off his tongue, but I chose to see it as a "thank you."  :)

Last night I sensed Chester with me for a few minutes.  This morning I woke up happy.  God has more than answered my 10-year prayer, and I can barely express my gratitude, awe, and love.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

quotes I like

I don't mean to quote you to death, but I really like them, and this is good for me to do right now.  These quotes are in a collection by Jan Karon.

God ministers to us so gently, so stolenly, as it were, with such a quiet, tender, loving absence of display, that men often drink of His wine, as those wedding guests drank, without knowing whence it comes - without thinking that the giver is beside them, yea, in their very hearts.    -George MacDonald

How to keep a healthy level of sanity:
As often as possible, skip rather than walk.
Sing along at the opera.
When the money comes out of the ATM, yell "I won! I won!"
Page yourself over the intercom - don't disguise your voice.
Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with it.
Specify that your drive-through order is "to go."
-Gary Barnes

Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.
-Franklin P. Jones

The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of contemporary violence.  To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.
-Thomas Merton

Day by day we are given not what we want but what we need.  Sometimes it is a feast and sometimes...swept crumbs, but by faith we believe it's enough.    -Barbara Brown Taylor

I haven't failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
-Thomas Edison

That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.
-Willa Cather

The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but God-likeness.  God's life in us expresses itself as God's life, not as human life trying to be godly.
-Oswald Chambers

Our tendency is to run from the painful realities or try to change them as soon as possible.  But cure without care makes us into rulers, controllers, manipulators.
-Henri Nouwen

Life is this simple; we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent, and God is shining through all the time.  This is not just a fable or a nice story.  It is true.  If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes, and we see it maybe frequently.  God shows Himself everywhere, in everything - in people and in things and in nature and in events...we cannot be without Him.  It's impossible.  The only thing is, we don't see it.
-Thomas Merton

The process of being made broken bread and poured out wine means that you have to be nourishment for other souls until they learn to feed on God....Be careful that you get your supply, or before long you will be utterly exhausted....Be exhausted for God, but remember your supply comes from Him.  "All my fresh springs shall be in Thee."
-Oswald Chambers

Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility on him and let him know that you trust him.    -Booker T. Washington

Sometimes you've got to jump off cliffs and grow wings on the way down.
-Ray Bradbury

Grant us daily some moments living on tiptoe, lured by the eternal city....

Monday, September 6, 2010

"An Exceptional View of Life"

(Why is it that when you pack books, you look at all the filled boxes with a sense of satisfaction, then turn around and see that the bookshelf still looks full?!)

My friend Kristin wished me happy treasure hunting as I pack up my stuff.  I told her I'd been through this stuff so much there weren't any surprises left.  I was wrong!  The most recent treasure is a book written and illustrated by children with disabilities, published in 1977, with the title quoted above.  Here are some quotes from the book:

"One time I had a thought that Jesus came down with all the angels and healed everybody on the whole earth. I don't believe that will really happen. But I feel that everybody who is handicapped is doing a favor for God. If I'm going by on the sidewalk and they walk by with their problems, they look at me and they won't have anymore problems because they're better off than I am. I don't think they are as lucky as I am because I try more. They can do anything just like that. But when I'm doing anything, I appreciate it more."

"Now I know why it happened. God wanted it to. It made me appreciate life more."

"People stare at me a lot and wonder why that happened to that certain person.  I ask myself that a lot sometimes, too.  God wanted me to be like this, I guess."

"I like it when you go out camping in the woods and you just have a tent....I'm not used to the quietness because we have ten people in our family.  When I'm camping and I go off by myself, I think how pretty everything is and that it's just good to be alive."

"I like camping out because you get all dirty...."

"I like to look outside on rainy days - watching the raindrops fall - plop, plop, plop.  Suddenly the plops go faster and faster.  I get tired.  The raindrops get slower and the last raindrop comes down.  Then the clouds go away.  I hate rain clouds to part.  I feel the drops and plops."

"I like my brother.  He is always tickling and telling jokes.  Every time he does something so funny, it makes me happy....When he's telling a whole bunch of jokes and I'm telling them back, it's feeling like I'm all filled up with laughter inside.  He's got some goodies.  I don't know where he gets 'em, but I'd sure like to find that place."

"A thing that used to bother me the most was being in a wheelchair.  But...that doesn't bother me anymore.  I've gotten adjusted to sitting in this thing and I realize this has enabled me to do things that nobody else can do - to think more about things."

"What I like about Easter Seals is...they want you to go out by yourself. I appreciate people that try to help me. But sometimes they want to help too much....I like them to treat me like any other kid running around - just like a regular kid."

"There's two favorite places I like to go - to the store with my mom - and I like to go on picnics with her.  There's two more favorite places.  I like to go to my grandmother's with mom.  I like to get out in the car with her.  When I go shopping with her I get the happiest feeling in the world.  I clean up the kitchen for her - play games with her.  I answer the phone for her.  She's not able to get around because she studies.  It makes me feel fine everytime she asks me to do something....I feel like I love her very much.  She thinks I'm a special daughter of hers."

"It's good to know that somebody loves you and that they care about you.  I think if someone cares about you, you want to help yourself more....It gives you a peaceful feeling inside.  It's a warm feeling.  It's important to have a good family - to have love for everybody.  To love yourself.  That's the most important thing, to love yourself and accept yourself for what you are.  If you can do that, you can accept anybody else."

"My mom likes flowers.  She knows how to grow them, but they only grow for me."

"At home I used to didn't get to do anything.  Once I asked my mother about helping her and she thought I might not be able to do it.  I said, 'Well, can I have a try at it.'  She gave me a chance to do it and I did it and she saw that it was good.  Then she gave me the opportunity to keep on doing it.  I fold the clothes and remind her of things.  She did a lot of things for me and I like to do things in return.  Before, all I got to do was watch.  I showed her I could even do it better than anyone else could.  Well, not at first.  Then, I got the hang of it, and I did it.  I like to clean the bathroom...the bathtub, the toilet, the sink and the mirror.  The only thing I didn't get to do was mop the floor because I might slip and fall down.  That's how I got to help around the house."

"It makes me feel good that I'm helping people.  When I was in the hospital, some people had nobody to see them.  I had lots of visitors.  That's why I felt more burdened to visit those people who were all alone.  They really need people to care for them.  I know how they feel with nobody there."

"When I moved here two years ago, I made a good friend.  She's a woman seventy-two or seventy-three.  She goes for a walk.  I just got my electric wheelchair.  When I went around the block I let her hold on the back of my wheelchair to help her walk.  It makes me feel good.  I avoid dips and puddles."

"Thinking I can do stuff by myself is a nice thought.  If I ever go to college, I'd have to be able to take care of myself.  It would be pretty funny for an eighteen-year-old boy not to be dressing himself.  It took me five weeks, five days a week of practice at the hospital to learn to dress myself....The staff there encouraged me.  They helped me.  It took a lot of time.  People had to keep me going.  At one time I almost quit because I couldn't reach to my feet to put my pants on.  Then it got easier as I practiced more....Opening a door is one of the things I'd like to try."

"I'm in the tenth grade at school.  I got straight A's the last five years.  To get into the high school I'm going to, I really had to fight because they said they did not allow anyone in wheelchairs.  One counselor said, 'It's against our policy.'  Some of my classrooms are upstairs....I really had to fight them.  Then I found out that another girl had gone there ten years ago.  How she got upstairs was really neat.  The football team - they made arrangements ahead of time - whenever she had classes upstairs they met and carried her up and down the stairs.  In the fourth grade I had the same fight.  Then, I was on crutches.  They said, 'You can't go because somebody might knock you over and hurt you.'  They said, 'Use a wheelchair.'  So I bought a wheelchair just to make them happy and never used it.  This year it was just the opposite.  They said they didn't allow wheelchairs.  Finally I just showed up at the beginning of the year and they had to let me go."

"I heard this one story about a girl who had cerebral palsy and she was in a restaurant.  Somebody came up and asked, 'Why are you in that wheelchair?'  The girl turned around and said, 'What wheelchair?'...That's the way I feel.  I know I'm in it but I don't consider myself handicapped.  You are what your mind thinks you are."

"I like to be around other kids because it makes me feel in place - normal, like other kids are.  I like music.  I play the guitar.  I like baseball.  I can play it if somebody holds me on the back.  I swing.  Usually, I have someone else run for me."

"Last Saturday my boyfriend came over.  I live in a house and he lives in the next house.  He took me out on a date.  He took me to the restaurant.  Then we drove to a movie and a pizza.  Then he walked me home.  He's twelve.  His name is Frank.  He's good looking.  I just like him.  I'm nine.  He takes care of me.  When we go out on a date, instead of having a big person to take care of me, he takes care of me.  When we go to the movie, if I fall out of the seat, he picks me up."

"This is my first year at Camp Harmon and I sure enjoy it.  I enjoy helping my counselors and, believe me, they need a lot of help.  When I get older I want to be either a movie star or a counselor.  I guess they are both similar."

"If someone has a fire and they're in danger, so they call the fireman.  I like those guys who play firemen.  They can help you when there's a fire in your house.  If my friend fell from the roof and I caught him, I'd be a hero.  But I'd never catch him, he's so heavy."

"I'm not old enough to play baseball or football.  I'm not eight, yet.  My mom told me when you start baseball, you aren't going to be able to run that fast because you had an operation.  I told mom I wouldn't need to run that fast.  When I play baseball, I'll just hit them out of the park.  Then I'll be able to walk."

"My name is Duncan. I was placed in Cabin 8 (at camp). The terror began that night. When Paul turned out the lights we began to yell and the terror began. The door swung open and suddenly Richard from Animal Farm came in with a pair of samurai swords. He started whacking the beds apart. He came to my bed. Of course, I wasn't frightened. I kicked the swords out of his hands. I picked them up and broke 'em over his head. He started crying and sucked his thumb. Then he chased me. I thought I'd better expose my true identity. My name is Duncan, the Bionic Man. I got out of my wheelchair and ran at him full force. Suddenly, my bionic arm fell off. I had to pick it up and glue it back on. It fell off again so I said, 'Forget it. It's only two million dollars down the drain.' Due to difficulties beyond our control this story will not be continued because the writer had to be taken to the funny farm."

Friday, September 3, 2010

grief and gratitude

I just heard the furtive sound of a Kleenex being pulled slowly from its box...

I love words; I love to explore their meaning.  A few days ago a crossword puzzle reminded me that "brood" can mean "incubate."  I'm a really good brooder, when it comes to carrying around thoughts and ideas for a time.  But I forget that brooding isn't obsession - you don't think and pick apart those ideas to death, you care for them and give them a loving, hospitable place to gestate and be born in their time.

I've been carrying around, caring for, a particular thought for about 2 1/2 years now, and its time has come.  With my upcoming move, my desire to simplify, my need to practice stewardship, my call to do these things to draw even closer to God, comes another aspect of the call:  I need to give up the dogs.

I won't go into all the reasoning, questioning, wrestling, crying, praying, and wondering I've done with God about this decision.  The point is that I understand it to a small extent (and that understanding is a gift), am choosing faith for the rest of it, and that I know this is being asked of me.

I look at Genesis 22 and Abraham's call to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Don't argue with me about whether or not dogs mean as much, or are worth as much, as people - regardless of our views, this is hurting me to the core.  (And no, I don't believe God has promised me or Chester that he will make Chester's descendants into a chosen corgi nation.)  The story in Gen. 22 is short, but I can imagine what might have been going through Abraham's mind at the time; I can imagine what would be going through mine.  "Abraham!"  "Here I am!"  "Take your son...your beloved Isaac, (the fulfillment of the promise I gave to you) and go...offer him as a burnt offering...."

Wait...WHAT?!  Did I hear that right?  You mean this son?  The one that is the foundation for our covenant?  The one you sent directly to me, regardless of the fact that my wife was too old to bear a child?  I thought it was too late, I was content with my life, I was close to you, then you came and turned my life upside down and called me to leave my homeland and asked for tremendous trust and actions from me, you promised me things greater than I'd ever imagined, and now you are not only taking it back, you are asking me to kill it?!  What is going on???

Okay, Abraham seems to have had a simpler faith; the thoughts above may be mostly mine, not his, but I'll bet he hardly slept, if he slept at all, for the three days it took to travel to the place God had sent him, and the walk alone with Isaac to the final place of sacrifice must have been agonizing, even with great faith.

Now, if you grew up in Sunday School you know that God saves the day at the last minute when he sees that Abraham is willing to give up his promised son and provides a ram to be offered instead.  Then God promises Abraham tremendous blessings.  So the moral of the story is, just convince God that you're willing to do as he asks, and at the last minute he'll keep anything horrible from happening and bless you instead.  No, wait, that doesn't sound right...oh, okay, it's about stewardship versus ownership - ultimately Isaac, Chester, Oliver, etc. are not ours, they are God's.  Yes, there is that, but there's more:  Abraham ultimately did not falter in his belief, in his deep faith that becomes a form of knowledge, that God would keep his part of the covenant.  Maybe Abraham wrestled with the idea, maybe not, but when he brought his promised son to the place of sacrifice, his deepest commitment, the one to God, was the source of his actions.  I am not attributing these thoughts to Abraham, but a truth of this story is that God never backed down on his promise, but he might have changed the way he fulfilled it.  He may fulfill his promises in ways we could never imagine.

I have had 10 amazing years with Chester - this dog truly is one of my soul-mates.  We've had 5 fun years with Oliver.  They have both taught me much.  I said I would never abandon them, and now the reality is that this process of giving them up has led to the point of my having to give them to strangers, something that is even harder for me to have peace with than if they were to have died.  But the truth of this story isn't oops, I messed things up or life didn't go as I'd planned, and now I have to take back that promise that I wouldn't abandon you; the truth is closer to:  I misunderstood my power and level of ownership, my control that I had in this relationship.  In giving you away, I am still fulfilling my promise to take care of you, because I am doing as God asks, and he's the ultimate caretaker.  We will be physically apart, and you will probably forget about me someday, but we will remain close in spirit; nothing, no height, no depth, no life, no death, will separate us.  God is the source and goal for all life, and he holds us together.  Not one of us is abandoned.