"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Rock and a Hard Place

I'm kinda bummed tonight. After my earlier post about Murphy and the diabetes and the shots, I felt quite confident in my ability to make it work tonight. He and I both had a couple calm days and had seemed less aggressive when I would pet him and play with his fur and skin where I would need to give a shot. So, tonight, I once again got the needle ready, gave Murphy his supper and he gobbled it down, drank some water then promptly hopped up on my lap. However, even with my calm talking and letting him lick my hand and arm, as soon as I made a move toward his head or back, the snarls and teeth came out. After several attempts, I finally discarded the hypodermic and gave up once again.

I cannot justify the restraining and pure anger that would be created in my fourteen year old dog every day for the rest of his life. Plus, being single, I don't have someone readily available in the evenings to help me hold, muzzle and restrain him. And, even if I were able to give him a shot tonight, there is certainly no guarantee that I could pull it off again for several days.

He is now lying on the sofa watching me with still suspicious eyes. My heart hurts because I feel like I am signing an early death warrant for my good friend for many years. He has Cushing's disease which has enough issues, but is being treated by a pill (which he is fine with taking), he also has high thyroid levels, but is also taking a pill for that, which seems to be working.

I know Murphy well enough to see that he doesn't feel well and I just can't bring myself to agitate and anger him more on a daily basis with this shot. It is kind of a Catch-22 because he would probably feel better if he could get the shots, but I just can't do them. I cannot put him into a headlock and restrain him on the floor or in a holder for these shots every day. He would hate me. I can't afford to take him to one of the local PetStores or to the vet every day for the rest of his life, so I am torn over what to do.

If he were human, I would probably be arrested for considering withholding medication which he needs...but, he isn't human, he is just a dog. But, he is my dog, my pet, and I only want him to be happy and live peacefully as long as he can and a daily fight with me over a shot isn't very peaceful. I realize that there is war, crime, abuse, hunger and so many things in the world of greater impact, but this is what consumes my mind now.

I ask your prayers over what to do about Murphy. We both have heavy hearts tonight.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Biting the Hand that Feeds You

As I moved the needle closer and closer my heart raced faster and faster. The unsuspecting patient had no idea that he was about to have a hypodermic syringe plunged into his neck in just a couple of seconds. He also had no clue that I had never done this before, but probably would never know that until the deed was done. My steady hand moved slowly to gather up a fold of skin in which to plunge the needle; deliberately and determinedly taking hold when all of a sudden the patient bounded up in a state of pure rage and grasped my hand with his teeth with all the fury which a fifteen pound terrier can muster.

Yes, I was attempting to give Murphy his first insulin shot. He was diagnosed several days ago and my lucky lot in life is to inject his neck with the insulin once a day. However, in the split second it took to bribe him to my lap with a treat, he turned from my always mild-mannered and loveable pet to the wild beast of the field that his ancestors were. As his head turned (much like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist”) to engage my hand with his teeth, my survival mode kicked in to push him away with one hand, throw the needle across the room with the other hand and run shrieking like a schoolgirl as he gave chase. When the scene finally came to a calmer moment and I could come down from the top of my piano, I began to tell Murphy, “This is just supposed to help you! Why are you biting me? You have a disease and we need to do this in order to make you feel better, you ungrateful little dog! Why can’t you understand that?”

Murphy has this way that he will cock his head to the side when I am on one of my tirades which makes it appear he is really listening, but then he will snort and turn around and trot off which lets me know how much he really cares. The same thing happened now. Head cocked, listen, snort and trot. I was beginning to feel some remorse and followed him with another treat, when he suddenly turned around and let out another primal snarl of warning to keep my distance……leave the treat on the floor, but keep my distance. I obeyed.

So far, we have not come to an understanding about his method of treatment. Even though I know he needs this injection in order to have a more quality life, Murphy simply will not allow it. His English pea sized brain just can’t comprehend this. He just knows that I am doing something which hurts him and he instinctively bites back.

Do we not do the same thing when God tries to keep us from harm? Do we not (figuratively) bite back when God tries to guide us in a way that we really don’t think we want to go? All we know is that our “What I Want” world is being changed and the results seem rather painful and uncomfortable. And, to be honest, at first they are not always so pleasurable, however, if we have the faith in God which we should we know that following His plan of care will give us a better quality of life.

We pray “O Father, please show us which path you want for us to go”, but when He does, and we don’t really like the route, we rebel. We pray “God, please help me to be a stronger witness for you”, but when He attempts to teach us strength through obstacles and personalities, we run whimpering back to our safe little world.

Even though he is a very intelligent dog, Murphy does not have the reasoning ability that humans do. He only knows that I feed him, play with him and will always take care of him. That belief was threatened, so he responded with his inbred canine nature. We have the ability to know that God loves and cares for us and would never put us in a position which we could not handle (depending on His strength and help), yet we respond all too often with our human nature of self desires.

Someday, hopefully, Murphy will trust me enough to give him the medicine he needs to bring him back to good health and a right relationship with his own body. He cannot stay at this point for long or his health will deteriorate and he will die. If we do not allow God to inject us with stronger faith and life experiences, we will grow stagnant and become less useful disciples. Trust the Hand that Feeds you!

And for today my friends, this is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God’s!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Dads! Gotta Love 'Em!

Hmmm, Father’s Day has come again. A time to decide between a gift card to a Home Improvement store, a book, a new tie and handkerchiefs, or get really wild and find a wallet and matching key chain. I am fortunate to still have my Dad living up the street from me, so I know easily that none of the above is on his ‘most needed’ list. Of course, he would be gracious and kind and act like it was the first gift card or book he had ever received and it was a terrific idea. That is what makes my Dad, well, my Dad.

My Dad just turned 82 years old and is more active than most men half his age. Growing up, I remember him always being at work, being at church or being in the yard. He made sure my brother, sister and I always had a tree house, a go-cart, a rope swing or anything else that we wanted and could be built or made. He made our first skateboards out of 2x4 timber and separated roller skates. Of course, there were no turning abilities, you either went straight or you crashed. But, it would help us to “build character”.

He played sports with us at home and on church teams. Even when he was old enough to retire, he was still out there catching softballs. He taught us how to ride a bicycle usually consisting of setting us on the seat, pushing us down the yard and hollering for us to “hold on and pedal. Just pedal!” Somehow, after many bandages and antiseptic ointment tubes, I managed to make it a few houses down the street without falling off.

I guess as far as physical activities go, the two that have been constant in my Dad’s life is golf and bicycles. He still plays golf every week or so with some of his friends (I tend to call them the 'oldest men in the world' team) and he still rides his bicycle around the neighborhood. He decided a couple months ago that in honor of his turning 82 this summer that he would ride his bike for 82 miles. We calculated that to ride 82 miles around his cul-de-sac might tend to be a bit boring, so the family decided that the Silver Comet Trail would be a good option. Unfortunately, it was raining the week and day of his birthday and he was unable to ride. We could never tell whether he was glad or disappointed.

However, he did not give up on the idea and with the company of his sixteen-year old granddaughter he will head up to the Trail tomorrow morning (Friday, June 17). Their intent is not to necessarily ride 82 miles, but to spend the day doing two things that my Dad enjoys the most - riding his bike and spending time with his family.

As this time of the year comes, I think about how important my Dad has been in my life. We have locked horns quite a number of times during my life, but I knew that our disagreements did not dampen his love for me, nor mine for him. As I look back over the life of our family, his actions and motives were always to support and defend us. It was not always easy for us to understand that at the time, however looking back gives a clear picture. Thanks, Dad, for always loving me; no matter how odd you thought I might be at times. I Love You.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

How Is Your Vision?

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV)

“And Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my borders…” (I Chronicles 4:10)

“To be a fellowship of New Beginnings where people have an opportunity to glorify God and cultivate a relationship with Him as faithful and obedient disciples of Jesus Christ who seek to lead others to a life of the same.” (Salem Baptist Church Vision Statement)

You know, not trying to familiarize God too much, but sometimes God can be just so cool. I really like His style of doing things. Things go along day after day, same old stuff, you kinda get into a rut then all of a sudden, WHAM! - that refreshing wind of God’s presence and revelation in your life comes along and changes your whole day.

I am so fortunate to be part of a church that has vision. A vision for reaching others for Christ, a vision to not be complacent with where we are, a vision to continue looking for new and better ways to worship, teach and disciple while never compromising the integrity of the Gospel.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

We took another step today by officially recognizing the need for an expansion in our Church Music Ministry. This came from a vision that began conception more than a year ago. As Jabez prayed many centuries ago, we needed to ‘expand our territory’ in this area; we prayed for God’s guidance, He led, we listened and our borders enlarged today for His Kingdom. Matt and Stephanie are now a part of our local fellowship and I pray for them as they follow God's leading into new areas of ministry and worship.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Around the same time, we also began to realize the vision of acquiring more land in order to minister to our church and community through recreation, sports and other leisure time activities. Through only the timing that God can provide, the land became available and has been purchased, so that in coming months we stand on the threshold of expanding our borders more than ever. A community ministry such as this will bring a whole new face to our fellowship and we will embrace the vision once again. A vision of ministry through sports, a vision of ministry through weekday community programs and a vision of reaching an un-churched population where they live and play and becoming a fellowship of new beginnings for them.

In a time when so many churches turn inward and ignore the vision, I thank God for being in a church that refuses to do that. I thank God for being in a church that prays without ceasing for God’s leadership in all we do. The borders and territories that surround the (universal) Church are only limited by ourselves. God has given us the world, yet so many churches limit themselves to a physical fence or survey post. God has a vision for His Church – and by that I mean the individuals, not the buildings. Begin looking for the vision He has for your life. Your borders may get blown away.

And that my friends, is the gospel according to Jimmy.

Be God’s!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

A Quick Respite

[See previous post about Youth Choir Tour]
Shhh, I don't want them to hear me. They think they are doing a funny trick on Mr. Jimmy by locking me in the room safe, but the joke is on them. As long as I am in here, I am away from them...in a nice quiet place. It's a bit dark and since I had to scrunch up like a circus freak to get in here I am having to type with my toes, but still, I have a few moments of solitude.
They thought it was so funny to throw some of my M&M's into the safe to entice me in here, but....wait, I hear them out there seeing if I am trying to break out.

Okay, whew! They've gone back to doing unimaginable things to my bed, my clothes and anything else that isn't bolted down. I'm sure if and when I get out of here, I will find my pillows floating in the tub, my Scooby-Doo crammed in the showerhead with Mardi Gras beads around his neck, various bug and creature parts in the sheets and who knows where my boxers will end up.

Anyway, just wanted to check in and let you all know that for now, things are going quite normal. Actually, it took longer to lock me in the safe this year than normal. It only took an hour for them to get Gabe in the dryer for an hour fluff-dry. At least I lasted for two and a half days.

I'm sure they'll be back shortly to start poking things through the little slot and some of it will probably involve fire and more insects. So, until I get out and return home, I'd better sign off for now. I see something coming through the slot as I type........

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Heading Out

Heading out bright and early Friday morning for our church Youth Choir Tour. There'll be about 75 (oh my goodness!) in the group, so please pray for our traveling safety and for a 'good time to be had by all'. However, especially pray that these students will share the Gospel in a meaningful way and that the lives of all those who hear will be blessed.

If I survive, the stories will definitely be interesting when I return next week. Something about traveling with that many teenagers brings out the creativity in all of us....especially the creativity to try and escape for even a few minutes of solitude before you are found....with water balloons or other instruments of torture.

But....I would not trade it for anything! See ya' next week.

Be God's,