Monday, March 24, 2014

All Dogs Go to Heaven

I like to think that all dogs go to heaven. I had a lot of time recently to think about that while my little 
dog Zoey was fighting for her life in a pet hospital. Zoey got into the trash, something she isn’t 
supposed to do, ate some plastic and some twine, which she really is not supposed to do…the plastic got 
stuck in her intestines and the twine wrapped around the piece of intestine that attaches to the 
pancreas. Instead of being able to remove a piece of intestine, because it was attached to the pancreas, 
all they could do was remove the obstacles and stitch up the cut in her intestines as best they could, put 
her on tons of antibiotics and other meds. It was pretty touch and go, and pretty heartbreaking for me, 
and I cried…a lot, and I prayed…a lot, and Michael and Ashley and Elizabeth, and others, they prayed 
with me and for me. But little Zoey, well that girl had something going for her that I’d like to share, 
because it shed a lot of light on life for me. 

Now I realize that maybe dogs going to heaven might not be biblical. I don’t believe I’ve ever read 
where it says that yes or no in the bible, and I don’t know as much of the bible as I should, or as I want 
to. I know some might want to open their bibles and show me where I am wrong. I’m not a Michael or 
Elizabeth Holmes, Dan Bode or Ashley Jennings, and I couldn’t last the time it takes to snap my fingers in 
a theological debate or discussion. 

And forgive me, as I write this, I am not an Ann Voskamp, or Beth Moore. I don’t have the kind of 
writing skills to take what I have to say and to make it sound just right so that it takes hold of someone, 
and roots meaning in their soul. I’m not an Ashley Jennings who can shed light on a subject with clarity 
and feeling, and heart. That said, I have to say that Ashley Jennings, to me, is one of those people that 
reminds me that God does not do things the way we ‘humans’ do; he doesn’t follow our math system, 
he doesn’t do things the way we think he should or would, he doesn’t care about physics, gravity, or size 
or proportion; He fed five thousand people with a couple fishes and loaves; he grew the prayers of a 
little church for the future with children where there were none; he took that same little church, and is 
using them to plant seeds around the globe, in Cambodia, and the Czech Republic and India. And he can put as big a heart as he wants into a 5’4 frame, called Ashley and make it fit because he doesn’t follow our rules and our ways are not His ways. And He….is… good. 

 I don’t have their skills, or gifts. But what I do have is this: 

I am a daughter of God, a Sister in Christ, a mother and a grandmother. I am, at the very core of my 
being a nature lover, and I love dogs…period. I have often thought, and no, I am not ready to be 
committed, but I have often wondered if God takes an angel, puts it into the bodily form of dog, tucks 
wings into fur, and sends them down to us because he knows that for some of us, we will respond to 
them beyond the level of ohhhs and awes over cuteness. We will relate to that dog. We will connect to 
that dog, and it might be a far-fetched thought to some, but it might change our perspective and push 
our faith into a new direction, because of that dog. 

Zoey and I have some common ground. By the time I adopted Zoey from an animal rescue agency, she 
had been abused for most of her 9 month life. I spent most of my adult life in abusive relationships. 
When I took her home, Zoey was startled by her own shadow; any loud noise was enough to send her 
flying under the bed, into the closet, into hiding. I’m a lot like that too. A tough day at work is enough to send me home, behind locked doors and unwilling to venture out and deal with “people,” and 
especially traffic. Zoey was terrified of men, but she learned to overcome that as well. As a matter of 
fact, during the 2 years I have had her, Zoey has learned to let go of the past, of the hurts, of the fear 
and just live. I do not share that with Zoey. 

Zoey has an incredible love for running, she bursts into fast sprints and her face lights up and it looks 
like she is smiling when she runs. She just finds such happiness in that. It’s one of the things that I love 
about her and something that makes me think a lot about life, and how it should be lived. As I watched 
Zoey fading into nothingness for a couple of weeks, it opened my eyes to how I am living my life and 
what I am NOT doing with it. 

You see, Zoey finds undeniable joy in LIVING….WIDE…OPEN. When she was struggling to survive, I was 
struggling with the pain of watching this amazing little dog, who loves life, who loves wide, and whole, 
whose entire existence is about really living, loving and giving… and wondering how on earth I could 
find joy without her in my life. And I wondered; I wondered how God must feel, when he looks down 
and knows that we are not living our lives that way, wide open. When we live in hurt and fear and 
hiding, the ache in his heart must be unbearable. It makes my heart ache too, to think that I am hurting 
him, who created me, breathed me into being…loved me when I couldn’t and wouldn’t love myself. The 
one who has held my hand, had my back, and carried me down more empty, painful, hurting places than 
I can count. Oh how he must ache to want me to live like Zoey. 

I visited Zoey everyday she was in the pet hospital and the Vet techs and doctors were so amazed at the 
bond that Zoey and I share. Zoey’s eyes would light up every time she saw me, even though she 
couldn’t move well for a few days. When she finally got to the stage where she could wag her tail she 
banged it loud and long on the kennel walls and the table, and she would just dive into my shoulder and 
lay her head there, her little paw pressed against my shoulder. The employees, all of them, the doctors, 
all wanted her, she is so sweet, so loving, caring. Such a joy. But Zoey’s heart belongs to me. Was that 
God who whispered then, that’s all I want, Linda, your heart. 

When Zoey did come home from the hospital, it was difficult watching her eat only a few nibbles at a 
time. She wasn’t very interested In food, and because she was exceptionally good at being able to eat 
the piece of food and not the pill, the only thing I could do was shove the pills down her throat and each 
time, she would look at me as if she were in trouble…”mommy why are you doing this.” And it hurt me 
to do it. I would tell her, every single time, I’m just trying to help you baby girl, I just want you to live. 

It dawned on me, during a run one day, when I thought about having to give Zoey her evening meds, 
how many times God must have said and felt the same thing for me. For us. I’m just trying to help you, 
Linda, I just want you to live. The ache His heart must feel when we don’t. Only it isn’t just me that 
God’s saying it to, it’s mankind. It’s his children. His family. His creation. It’s us. It’s people like me, 
hurt and afraid and hiding instead of living out our lives wide open for God. 

Zoey is home, and healing, and everyday brings a new level to her well being. She is, if it is possible, 
more caring, more loving, more giving then ever. And there is something new as well, a new vibrancy to 
her joy. We went back to the vet to get her stitches out, ten days after she was home, and she “ran” into the vet office, she leapt into the arms of the vet tech who was her main caregiver during her week 
stay. I believe that Zoey knew they had saved her life, and she was grateful, and she loved on the girls 
and they fell in love with my little Zoey all over again. I’m guessing God kinda wants the same from me. 
To fall in love with Him again, and again, and to never loose that love. To hold fast. 

I cannot tell you that my entire life has just dramatically changed. It has not. I can tell you, that my 
perspective has radically changed and I belive it is what I do with that that will matter. I can tell you that 
I have met God in different ways through this difficult time and that through this He has shown me what 
he wants for me. I don’t think it’s always what God wants FROM us, I think it’s a lot of what God wants 
FOR us. And he wants me to live my life wide and free and whole and loved. And he has shown me 
how, through a little gift that has angel wings tucked beneath soft, brown fur. 

It is challenging for someone like me. To walk out my faith more openly. It is difficult and challenging to 
just be around people a lot…it isn’t that I don’t like people, I just avoid them, because, well, because it’s 
safe. This is difficult and frightening in a lot of ways for me and I imagine for others who have felt this 
way as well. I might need to borrow a superhero cape for a while because I’m not even Aqua Man level. 
I know this, that it starts with my meeting myself in my brokenness, and walking forward into light, even 
if I have to do it over and over, until I get it right. God’s there with me… I am not alone. He’s got my 

Scripture tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from above. Except for the trash eating thing, 
little Zoey is pretty much perfect. She is loving and giving. She loves life, she loves to run, loves to chase 
squirrels and tug-a-war with Abbie, or me. She loves me. I am IT for her. I am her sun, her moon, her 
stars. I am HER human. 

Jesus said, love one another, as I have loved you. Zoey, shows love in ways that bring joy and verve to 
my small life, and this challenge has opened my eyes in ways that I cannot express in a few short 
paragraphs. I think God must really like dogs a lot, because I think dogs can be a lot like God. 
Unconditional love. Giving. Joyful. Light. 

I don’t know what heaven will be like. I don’t know what we will look like; what our spirits will look like. 
I just know that God gave me a glimpse of heaven’s angels in a little brown dog, with soft amber eyes, 
that smiles when she runs. I’m betting that I will meet up with Zoey one of these days up there in 
heaven.  I hope it’s a long time from now because I have much to learn from this little bundle of energy 
and lover of life. But when we do, meet up in heaven, I will recognize her in the same way that, I hope, 
my loved ones, my children and grandchildren, will recognize me when they meet me up there; by her 
love, her spirit, her joy and goodness, her light. 

So, yeah, I like to think that all dogs go to heaven. It’s where everything good and perfect is.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Morning Glory

This morning, was all wrong.  In the first 15 mins I spilled something, dropped something, hushed 3 dogs barking at the non-existent and imaginary, and just the second when I thought all the dogs were back in the house and ready for their breakfast...Zoey went zipping out the door barking again.  If you've ever tried to catch a Jack Russell as they are zipping by you, well, good luck with that.  And then, well, there was that too, the heartache.  Kaitie left this morning, with the girls, and her husband to live in Florida.  I don't know when I will see or hold them again, I don't know that my beautiful little sunny girl, Marley Jane, will remember me when they visit, and my heart aches to hold that precious little girl one more time.  I didn't get to see them before they left.  I didn't get to hold that little girl in my arms.  I didn't get to hold the new baby, Elle, again.  But the heartache, it's there more in what isn't; that Kaitie didn't make time to say goodbye, that she made time for everyone, except her family.  And the heartache sinks deep into the bare, skinny bones of that relationship that's messy, and difficult, instead of warm and loving.

I sit in my morning place, needing to read my devotional, to meet with God for a few moments, something I look forward too and need before my day begins, and my IPAD, which usually resides on that spot on the table, isn't.  Another stick on the stack, ready to topple and crash.  Flustered, I cry 'God, right now I just need to sit with you.  It's all wrong, upside-down this morning, and I just need to find peace and rest in you right in this minute.  Meet me Lord.  Calm me.  Give me peace.'  And I fall forward.  Into God....folded hands meet bowed head and before words to prayer form in my mind, I know His presence.  I feel light  warm against my cheek; I know His peace, His rest, His reassurance, His arms wrapped around me, comforting, loving, knowing.  And I know with certainty, and not for the first time, that even when He seems silent to me, He is always there, He always loves me.  He always hears me. I  can't help myself, and I smile at Him, all glowing and warm, close to me, my Heavenly Father, comforting me, loving me.  I'm a child again, lost in His amazing love, and I smile, because I know that's what He wanted for me this morning.  It was His gift to me.  He knew where I was at, where my heart was and He knew that I needed Him and not a devotional...Just.  Him.  Being God, He didn't show up how I expected, and I think that's just maybe how He gets my attention sometimes. "Forget the devotional' He seemed to say, "just sit with me,"  Be still and know that I am God."

In that precious gift of moment from the Father, an overflowing river of gratitude made it's way into my heart and my day.  He calms me.  Calms the storm of heartbreak and frustration.  He invites me into His space.  He prepares me in those moments when I am still with Him.  He fills full the empty places.  He is my Heavenly Father, and like I pursue a better relationship with my youngest daughter, My Heavenly Father, constantly pursues a deeper relationship with me.  It's ironic....all this work, stuff, things, we do to pursue God, to be closer, deeper with Him.  Really, it's His pursuit of us where I see Him most often.  He is ever ready for the opportunity to show up and show us His Glory.

Later that morning, at a stop light, I cling to that "glory moment," relive it...and know that His Glory is all around if I choose to see and hear.  Before the light turns green, my gaze lifts up and a reflection is etched into the overhang of a gas station, a silhouette of three crosses, the one in the middle taller then the others.  God's Glory, revealed.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Perspective # 1 – the grump.
God, It’s 5:00 a.m.  It’s colder outside this morning and I really needed to sleep in just because I’ve been doing this 5:00 a.m. thing for over 40 years now, with little time off, and almost no vacations.  I’m tired.  When will it be my turn to not have to do this.  To sleep in and go to work when I want.
I’m sore today.  Leg workout Tuesday, ran 3 miles Wednesday.  Why does my old body have to hurt so much when I have taken such good care of it all these years? 
My bills aren’t all paid.  I lost my job a couple years ago, I made good money, had awesome benefits including a great 401K…But the divorce took everything I had.  After I lost my job, got another one that pays a lot less, and God, my bills are not getting paid…I don’t like the people I work for, their expectations are perfection, when I am human.  They are rude to their workers, there is no sense of belonging or accomplishment or fulfillment, and my benefits suck.
The vet wants to see Zack again and check out his heart.  $50.  I don’t have it, not if I am going to get his prescription this month that he has to take twice a day, for the rest of his life.  I don’t have enough money to live on this next week because so many unexpected things already came up.  I can’t buy gas AND groceries.  Where is the money coming from God?    Why is it like this?  Why is my life always about scrambling?
Life is so messy.  God, where are you in my life?
Perspective #2 – the thankful
Good morning God.  I sooooo wanted to sleep in this morning.  It was cold out, and I was snuggled in with the dogs, all comfy and cozy, but I had to get up to go to work.  But God, thanks for a good night sleep and my pups all snuggled in with me.  Thanks for the job.  I know I don’t like who I work for but I try to make the best of it.  I know you have something for me, and that you are working through this difficult job teaching me and training me, and I really do like WHAT I do.  I am soooo grateful that I have a job when there are so many people who don’t.  Thank you Father, for giving me the skills to do this job, to persist, and to be motivated to go to work each day , thanks for the active mind that gets the job done and stays sharp (at least most of the time.)  My benefits aren’t as good as I want.  But I’m fortunate to have an employer who provides them and pays for them. 
Father I’m trying hard to make ends meet and I don’t make enough because my job doesn’t pay near as much as my old job.  Zack needs to go to the vet again, $50, I don’t know where it’s coming from, heck, God, I don’t know how I am going to buy groceries AND gas this next week, just because things came up and I’m going to be so broke, but I know that you will be there, in this situation, and that one way or another, you will see me through this trial.  You ALWAYS do!  God, thanks for loving me and for providing.  I have a home, a comfy bed, heat in the cold, protection from the elements and so much more.  All because of your love.
Thanks for this morning too, the time I get to sit, besties curled up next to me, read your amazing word, and think about it, breathe in the name of Yahweh for a few minutes.  Thanks for always motivating me with your word and your ways to do so, to prepare myself for the long day ahead.  Life gets messy, God, you tell us it will, but your word carries me God.  Your Grace is Sufficient.
I’m sore today.  Leg work out Tuesday, 3 mile run Wednesday.  God I am so grateful that I can still do that at 57.  I’m grateful every single day for a body that can lift weights, workout,  run 3 plus miles and keep going.  I’m grateful because I challenge myself physically to keep being fit because you have blessed me with that gift.  Yeah, I get sore, and I don’t recover like I used to, and there are a few aches and pains, but it is such a good feeling to know that I have strong muscles, that I can take care of me (with your blessings), that I can lift and play with my 4 year old granddaughter.  I can hold my new grandbabies due in a few weeks.  I can move relatively pain free, I can hug my children and my friends.   I love having my health.  God, thank you for that.
By the way, thank you Father.  Your love is so overwhelming sometimes that I stop, in the middle of a task, and have to catch my breath to keep from crying tears of joy.  Thank you for loving me, for forgiving me when I mess up, which I know is a lot.  Thank you for pursuing me.  For showering me with mercy, for your loving grace.  You are so good, God.  And God, I love you.  I really do. 
Love Always

Thursday, June 6, 2013


I've lived too many heartbreaks.   Ive known the loss of my grandmother that i dearly loved, and then my grandfather as a child, a close friend as a teen, puppy love crushed to nothing, real love and marriage broken and shredded into nothingness.  I lost my parents when they were young..and after, I never felt good enough to be part of  my family...25 years was a long time between visits.  I have known the deep heartache of a friends betrayal.   

Not long ago I thought those heartaches  healed; but as I've let God into my life more and more, I realize those old heartbreaks, healed, twisted and angry...I swallowed biterness instead of forgiveness and hardened my heart like Pharaoh to the Israelites.  I have grown in God, continue to grow and learn from His word, and I am learning to be more trusting in Him, to know His love,  His grace and mercy.  He has healed those old heartaches with new and different ones, those things that break His heart; the orphan, the soldiers widow, the sex trafficking victim struggling to know a better world, the hungry and homeless,the abused and neglected dog.

A doctor will sometimes re-break a bone to set it right, especially where it causes distress and pain. I have known God to do the same, to re-break the heart over and over and over to something new and fresh each time. My heart breaks for the sadness and disarray of this broken world.  That raises a question for me then.  How can I, in all MY brokenness be a light in a world already broken?.  As I ask, I already see the answer, in nail-scarred hands, and an old rugged cross that set me free.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

His Goodness Overflowing

This morning, quiet time with God, His goodness spills over, flowing down cheeks etched with a life hard worn, I am counting

Two grandbabies on the way;
my beautiful daughters;
loved beyond measure.

I have known love like never before in this God who does all things good, and keeps promises.  His beauty surrounds me, and I am still counting.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Abbie is sitting on the back of the couch grumbling as she watches the squirrels chase each other through the cool September morning.  I am recovering from a bit of a nasty cold.  a couple of years back, I would not have let the cold stop me, I would still have gone to the gym, taken the dogs for a walk, cleaned the house and done all the laundry yesterday.  But I have learned that rest is a good thing, for the body, the mind, and the soul.  Yesterday, after a couple errands and a little light housecleaning, I spent the rest of the day mostly resting, reading, contemplating.

Last January, I lost the job I had been with for 11 years, and a time of rest, trust, but definite difficulty began for me.  I remember telling Pastor Michael that this was a God thing.  I knew I needed to get out of my job for things had changed in the last couple of years, and for many reasons the company morale, and mine, started sinking.  but God is faithful, and I think he picked me up out of that situation, and gave me a time of rest.  My severance pay carried me thru until Mid July. During this time I experienced a lot of difficult things which challenged me both emotionally and spiritually.  Though it all, even though I sometimes questioned God, I always kept my story straight, knowing He was working behind the scenes.  I never lost my faith and trust in him.

Spring forward to the beginning of June and I finally got a new job.  I was elated, the salesperson, otherwise known as Vice President of Development convinced me how great the opportunities for growth were and how quickly they would come about, you see she confided in me,we many things in the works and the company is well known.

Little did I know that the company was a sinking ship barely able to meet payroll and other obligations, and over the course of the next three months it progressively got worse.  On two occasions I didn't get paid on time, and it seems my bills would have to take a seat behind the ever growing bills and unpaid bills of the company.   The attitude with which my employer presented this to me was unconscionable.  I hope I never have to experience an employer upset that I am upset for not getting paid on time. 

I held on because, I did after all manage to get my check, which I needed.  But I knew in my heart that this was only a stepping stone, that God had plans, and that I was there, right where I was supposed to be.

Don't get me wrong, there were many days where I melted down and asked Him why this was happening.  There were many times I cried and got angry for being in this difficult situation.  But at the end of the day, I knew He was working in the background....just not at the pace I wanted Him too....have you ever noticed that God doesn't do it on our schedule?  Funny thing is, because He doesn't adhere to our schedule, better, brighter things come along.

A few weeks ago, the employment market started breaking open, and I was getting a lot of phone calls.  I have continued to look for another job knowing that this was not the place where I was esupposed to be long term.  I started interviewing. One job in particular that I had hoped would work out has continued their lengthy process of interviewing and testing me and I know that I am one of their 2 top candidates right now.  I laughed at this, thinking, "so this is where you are putting me, huh God."

To my surprise I was contacted by another company, interviewed, and was offered the job less than a day after I interviewed.  The funny thing is I like this job as much if not more than the other.  I prayed, I accepted, and I laughed at the way God sometimes works in our lives.

I don't know if this is my dream job, or if this is where God is going to land me as a long term job.  What I do know, and have learned through these last months is this, God works in His way, in His time, and at the end of the day, it is ultimately better for us then anything we could have planned for ourselves.

I know this, more than I have ever known, and having seen it, in real time, and real circumstance, it is up to me to ever trust my Heavenly Father, and even when I fail to feel it, continuing to do those disciplines like prayer, and Bible reading,  and studying, are so important in keeping us connected to Him.  Being connected to God allows the river of trust and faith to flow freely.  More importantly even than all of that, RESTING in His Presence, will bring hope in darkness.  

I am blessed to have a Faithful, Loving and Forgiving God.  I am blessed to have my eyes opened to how amazing He truly is.  Watching life unfold in my friends and family, and in myself, has blessed me beyond any vision I could have had.


Friday, March 30, 2012


I have several hanging and potted plants on my patio. I love the lush greens of ferns, and how a cliff hanger fern has red-brown vines that curl up into a spiral. I love the texture and lighter green of an asparagus fern; the delicate leaves of a friendship fern and the variegated leaves of spider plants. Each type of ivy is different than the next, sometimes I have trouble distinguishing the varieties as being ivy.

Something that always amazes me about plants is how they grow in spurts. There is a time when the plants on my patio all go dormant. They still show their beautiful greenery and rich vines, but they don't grow.  Even though they receive the same elements of sunshine and water, there are seasons when they lay dormant.  At least on the outside. The reality is that the dormant seasons are seasons of rest and recuperation. Storing up the necessities to grow later when the sun is warmer and the days longer and fuller.

I think that those who follow God are a lot like that too. There are times when I don't see or feel myself growing, times when I feel stagnant in my growth in God, but there are other times, when I grow by leaps and bounds. It is when I am growing by leaps and bounds that I realize that I never stopped growing in God at all, but I was being prepared for the spurts of growth that would be visible to me.
God moves us each through those times where growth isn't visible. Underneath the surface though, and many times without our realizing it, God is stretching us in new ways, deepening our roots in trust, understanding and faith.

There was a time not very long ago where I no longer heard God. I wasn't getting much out of the sermons, I felt empty in my ministry. It wasn't until later that I realized, through a lot of prayer and working with my mentor that God wasn't going to treat me like a newborn baby anymore and that it was time for me to be still and know that He was there, even though I didn't see Him working in me or in my life.

Today, 8 weeks into unemployment and at a very frightening time in my life, I am watching myself grow in leaps and bounds in my relationship with God. God's glorious, and vital sunlight is reaching deep into my soul, deepening the very roots of my faith, teaching me that His love and mercy is always there for me. Even in my self-induced darkness, I can see through the light of His amazing love and grace.

Even though I am concerned today of what may lay ahead in my future unless I soon get a new job, I am growing in God's word, in the lessons that He has for me. I am recognizing those things about myself that He wants me to change. I have a deeper faith. My heart beats for God. I recognize that the time that I wasn't feeling in touch with God was a time He wanted me to rest in Him, where I could store up those vital nutrients of faith and trust and stretch upward against the soil to burst forth into His amazing grace.

Heavenly Father, sometimes the lesson isn't learned until the class is finished and the test is done, and finally...finally I get it. Sometimes, I don't see where you are taking me, and sometimes, I don't see you there at all. But I know this, you promised that you would never leave me, and I believe you. Forgive me Father when I fail to trust you. Forgive this broken woman when my heart tells me you have left me. Shower wisdom on my heart God that I may know that even when my heart feels abandoned, that my mind would take over and remind my heart that you will never leave me.

Thank you Father, for you are an amazing God. You are my sunshine, my strength, my provision, you are my heartbeat, my everlasting love. You are my God.