Places I love

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Goodbye my Sydney Girl

I lost a friend today.

My sweet girl. My honey bunches of oats. My Sweet Pea. My Blondie. My Syd-dog. My Sydney girl. 

I watched as she closed her eyes for the last time tonight, and yet since I got home, I've found myself looking for her, wanting our routine.

We would walk in and she would shyly get up and come to us, tail wagging with her forever puppy-like face and sweet eyes. She would lean her head against my leg and press in just a little to let me know she wanted some cuddles. I would rub her soft ears as she snuggled my leg. 

When I would make dinner, she would be at my feet just in case. She knew I didn't like to sweep, so she was always there to pick up for me so no one would know what a mess I had made.

If she got wrapped around a tree when she went out to the bathroom, all I had to do was look at her and tell her to back up or tell her how smart she was and she would unwrap herself and proudly bound up the hill back to me. She also would take her own leash in her mouth and lead us up the hill at the beginning of our walks. She'd flip her head as if to say, "This is great! Let's go this way! I'll help!" 

She was famous for stealing socks and slippers. Standing in front of you with a mouth full she made sure to let you know you were missed and that she'd gathered your belongings for safe keeping until your return. 

My sweet girl was so tenderhearted. Whenever anyone in the house was sad or feeling sick, she was right by their side. She would assess you with a sniff and an exhaled breath, lay down, and then turn her head and place her chin on the couch or bed to see how you were doing. 

Don't even get me started about how great she was with babies and little kids. There reality is that there was no one like Sydney. 

I could go on and on and tell story after story, treasures in my heart, but there is one story in particular that sums up to me who my girl was. About 8 years ago I was going through a horrible time in my life. I was sitting on the couch with my head in my hands, sobbing. Sydney was sitting on the other side of the room and she watched me for awhile with concern in her big brown eyes. Crying and feeling so alone, I was distraught. Then, a few minutes later, ever so gently, I felt a black wet nose reaching up through my hands to find my wet nose. She just sat there with her nose against mine until I opened my hands and looked up. There was my girl, sitting there in front of me looking at me with sadness in her own eyes. Then as I continued to cry and look into her beautiful eyes she reached up a paw and placed it in my lap. I wasn't alone and she made sure I knew it. 

That's the kind of friend I lost today. Even as I have been writing this, I have looked at the floor to see if she is sleeping at my feet. Light shifting in the room has made me look to see if she is rolling over or getting up for a drink of water. As I go to bed in a little bit, I'm sure I'll have to stop myself from saying, "Come on Sydney girl, time to go to bed." Chris and I will pause for a moment at the top of the stairs, not to wait for our old girl to get her footing before she goes downstairs and settles next to the bed, but because she is no longer with us. 

There are many tears yet to be cried. Many memories left to be remembered. Many moments where I will have to remind myself that she is really gone. 

On our way home, the sunset was beautiful and I couldn't help but think that Jesus was showing Sydney where he keeps his slippers, just in case she needs something cozy to lay her head on. 

I love you Sydney. You were the best dog and my best friend for so many years. You felt the ups and downs of my heart right with me and never left me.

And, oh how you loved my Mister. I think you fell in love with the man I married as much as I did! He was your best buddy, the one who walked you most, took you out, gave you your vitamins and brushed your beautiful hair. Thanks for loving him so much. He misses you. 

I know that everyone who reads this, everyone who got to look into your deep brown eyes will feel the loss of you passing. You were my special girl. Our special girl. Jesus, thank you for creating animals and for giving me my friend. She's all yours Lord.

Rest well sweet Sydney. Run with Jesus. I'm sure He's giving you some good pats on the head right now and has a nice comfy couch for you to snuggle into. There's no place like Heaven. 

I love you.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Finding Nemo Faith

Photographer Unknown
I struggle with fear. Anxiety, panic, an irrational thought or two, these are not unfamiliar terms to me. To many of you, I would guess they are more familiar than you'd like to admit.

Fear is often like an unspoken elephant in the room, especially with people of faith. In reality, no one can see your elephant, but in the midst of a fearful moment you would swear your elephant was trumpeting loudly and wearing neon shorts. Yet, as you drown in your own fear looking for a life line and not wanting to reach out a hand, life goes on around you, totally unaware.

For some reason, it is assumed that if we have faith we do not have fear. We secretly sit in condemnation when we feel afraid in situations where we should have faith, hoping those around us don't see our palms sweating and judge us for not believing enough in God.

I don't think it's that we don't believe enough in God, but more so that the place in which we have grounded our faith may not be secure. Let me explain.

A week or so ago, my husband was having a rough day. I love my husband dearly and my heart ached that he was having a hard time. I wanted to do something to encourage him. I took a moment from the work I was doing and looked in my Bible. I thought that maybe I could find a verse to text him. I flipped open to the psalms and landed on Psalm 91.  One verse in particular poked my heart.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
 I will protect him, because he knows my name."

I saw this...

14 “Because he holds fast to me IN LOVE, I will deliver him;    I will protect him, because he knows my name.

Sometimes, well let me be honest, most of the time I can't explain how this book, the Bible, changes something in me. It's like it nudges my heart and life squeezes in. As I read those words, all I could think about was all the times I have "held fast" to God in total fear and panic. 

I didn't feel like God was shaking his finger and saying, "Shame, shame." I did feel like he was saying, "I love you." I began to think about how different my life would look if I "held fast" to God in love instead of fear. What would that look like?

For the sake of bringing some humor to the subject, watch this short clip:

I think this is one of my favorite movies of all time, by the way. The thing I noticed that I want to relate to this issue of holding fast in love versus fear is that Dory holds fast in love while Marlin holds fast in fear. Look at the poor guy, he's terrified. 

I've been there. In that place where you question everything. Where you can't even take in what's going on around you, let alone listen to anything because fear is making you blind and deaf. Marlin exhibits much of what we do when we are afraid: anger, despair, outbursts of rage, irrational thoughts. And then, we have Dory.

Dory is holding fast too, but she is listening. She is able to listen because she trusts the voice is telling her the truth. She doesn't question that she can trust it. She knows it's not promising a perfect life with no troubles, but she knows the voice is speaking something that is for her. She speaks whale after all, and like she speaks whale, we as believers speak the language of faith. 

We all have been given the ability to hear God's voice through His word and through the love of others. Yet, how often are we paralyzed and forget the language that is love?

Dory enjoys life. Marlin survives it. 

I continue to be challenged in my own faith that God wants me to live out of an assurance of love, rather than a response to fear.

This is what God says FAITH is:

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Do we have fear sometimes in our faith? Sure, we are not perfect. But we also hold to the conviction that the hope in our hearts is true and real and guaranteed. Our faith may fail, but the object of our faith, Jesus Christ, will not. He can be counted on.

Our faith will be secure if it rises from the foundation of knowing the love of God and trusting in His love for us. His love never promises that there will be no trouble or pain, but it does promise that love will be with us and carry us through to the other side. 

You can't control the ride or where it goes, but you can decide how you are going to ride it.

So, from one Marlin to another, let's try to be a little more Dory this week. Grab your exit buddy and hang on for the ride. "Hold fast!" That means clip on and rest secure in the one you are attached to. 

No matter what happens along the way, the love of our lives is at the other end. 

Going for it,