Friday, January 2, 2015

Life, Love, Jesus & Dogs

I'd like to think there are a few things I've learned in these short 43 years I've been here. Some may disagree and that's okay, because that's actually one of the things I took to heart very early on (much to my parents' dismay). Disagreeing with others - and vice versa -  is perfectly fine. You just have to keep a good perspective on it and find the right balance. (Learning that last part would come much, much later.)

It's a really good thing they didn't have the whole it's-okay-to-drop-your-kid-off-at-a-safe-place-to-dodge-prosecution thing in the 70's, or I'd probably be writing this somewhere in Nebraska.

Listen. Half the people will agree with you some of the time. Some of the people will agree with you none of the time. A few people with will disagree with you for the sake of not agreeing with you. And most of the people will agree with you if you agree with them. Well, I'm just not wired that way.

My beliefs and faith are deep and I agree with what falls in line with those - and I disagree with things that sound and look stupid and might get me punched in the face.

I Am The Crazy Dog Chick and have been since the authorities in my tiny hometown knocked on our door when I was a child and asked my mom if I could help them catch a dog that none of them could get close to - because I'd been wooing the stray dogs of Farmland, Indiana, to my home successfully for years. I also may or may not have opened up the outdoor kennel behind the town fire station where those dogs were taken and let them all out a time or two.

Today I work in dog rescue and manage a dog daycare. Go figure. But here is something of what 40 years of whispering into the ears of any canine who would listen - and actually listening in return - has taught me.

Dogs are closer to showing the love of Jesus to every single person they set eyes on than any human I've ever met. You wanna wrap your mind around how much God loves us, how easily God forgives us, and how bad God's memory is of all our stupid human tricks? Go out to your garage for three minutes and come back in to your dogs. They'll act like you've been gone for a year and have no memory of you yelling about them running inside with muddy paws and immediately jumping onto the couch 15 minutes ago. That's how God loves us. No matter how long we're away from him - two minutes or nine years or forever - he's waiting on the other side of the door when we walk through it to love us and embrace us, with no memory of all those things we did and said. Just pure, unending love and unconditional forgiveness. Simple as that. It really is. Ask your dogs. Try and make them pinpoint why it is that they aren't mad at you for leaving them every day for work and forgetting to feed them last Tuesday, and what it is about you that they love so much? They're going to look at you like, "Have ya lost yer damn mind? I just love you. I LOOOOOOOOVE YOUUUUUUUUUUU. That's it. Let's not complicate this."

Of course, not every single dog is that way - but every single stitch of God's being is. And by the way, when you run into Christians acting in very opposite ways of that under the disguise of "God's love" or his word in the Bible, please run the other way and realize they do not represent God's love or Christians as a whole any more than Oprah Winfrey represents all women or Weird Al Yankovic represents all men. Keep it in perspective, folks. Just because someone calls themselves a Christian, doesn't mean they are showing the love of Christ. 

Pinterest Is the Devil's Folly I cannot think of many more arenas in the free world wherein good, smart, well-intentioned folks are being suckered into thinking that cutting old books into the shapes of letters for decoration (which is so stinking cute, by the way), making a party more about what everything looks like than who is there to actually spend time with you, and bringing back paper mache are good ideas. Paper mache is a flipping mess.

Ten minutes on this web site, and either your priorities are suddenly flipped upside down and you become obsessed with turning your suburban home into a Country Cottage photo spread; or you walk away feeling so deeply and unequivocally inadequate as a mom, wife, and all-around human that you're depressed for the next week as you look around your incredibly lived-in, messy, Goodwill-furniture filled, you-found-a-mouse's-nest-in-the-pan-drawer-of-your-oven (true story) home.

If you turn a very private moment of your life into an adorable Pinterest-worthy spread and post it on Facebook, (cue Jeff Foxworthy) youuuuuuuuuuuu might have your priorities cranked.

Devil's. Folly.

The People Who Matter Will Love You If You Let Them See You This is not so much something I learned, but something that's in my DNA and there's nothing I can do about it.

Be Real. Be real, people! You'll cut to the chase of who will love you back for who you are much, much quicker and with exponentially less drama and heartache. Some people are very well-refined. And some are not. Again - that's okay. If we were all the same, how absolutely mind-numbing and spirit-crushing would that be? Life is about diversity, about people thinking differently, looking unique, loving different things, and having different qualities. If you're trying to be like someone else, who is going to be you? I tell my boys all the time that when they are talking bad about themselves, they are dissin' God because he created them very specifically and they are doggin' on his work. Knock it off.

Diversity = dimension = how we discover deeper layers of ourselves and others to love and share and for others to love and share back = a richer, fuller life for everyone here on earth.

Life here on earth is too short and precious to try to be something you're not with a group of people who will only accept you if you are just like them and look at you sideways if you're not. You are you, and there are people out there who want you to be you, because that's what they love. These are the people who will make up your village. And believe me, at some point if you haven't yet - you will need a village.

Lastly, children are the future - and that's not just a song. Love them, embrace them, encourage them, do not let them get away with crap, teach and show them the love of God from day one. Cushion them when you need to, push them off the ledge to make them fly when it's time - and pray for discernment to recognize the difference. Children are precious - and absolutely can be broken in so many ways. So yeah - don't do that.

Here's to a great 2015 and learning more that we can share with others, loving those around you unconditionally, giving much more than you receive, and treating people how you'd like to be treated in return.

In 2014, I learned a lot that I never wanted to know and lost a lot that I am still ill-prepared to go on without. It was the absolute worst year of my life so far. But God has my back, as do the people of my village. So go rescue a dog (I can help you with that), stay off Pinterest, and be happy with what you have already.

Peace out, 2014.

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