Sunday, March 26, 2017

Parameters and Patience

Our Brittany pup, Cooper, is stretching my patience, the chewing, the digging, the nipping. Our list of repairs is growing. The lower siding of the house has chew marks. The lawn has various sized holes. The woodwork in the hallway bears teeth marks, and the lining in the bed of the truck is now hanging in strips on one side. Sigh.

Often he is too excited, jumping, nipping, and grabbing our clothing. Other times he is the sweetest pup, loving, obedient, and fun to have around. 

After a particularly bad afternoon, I lost my patience when he tore through the house smearing mud on our off-white carpet. A quick peek out the door confirmed the source, a huge hole right off the patio. When I tried to grab him and subdue him so I could clean his feet, the free-for-all was on, which pushed several of my buttons. When things settled down, wise words came to mind. “A dog’s bad behavior is usually the fault of the owner.”

Guilty. Our training book emphasizes, “You cannot leave a pup younger than one year unattended.” Period. I was doing other things rather than watching Cooper in the yard. He got bored, and the hole was the result. Who’s fault was that?

This morning, I vowed to take a different approach. After re-reading the how-to-manual on puppy obedience, I reapplied the experts’ advice. You can guess the results. I enjoyed the interaction as much as Cooper did, one of the big reasons we wanted another pup. We wanted the joy of companionship and the pleasure of doing things with him. I was amazed how quickly he responded when I kept my cool and used persuasion instead of force. (Hmm, works that way with other things in life too.)

So, once again, I learned a life lesson from my dog. Patience, coupled with firmness, more than music, soothes the savage beast. At least the savage eleven-month-old Brittany.  I can see applications in other areas of my life too. Anger and resentment only leads to more anger and resentment, and certainly contributes to problems.

With Cooper, when he wants to jump and nip, I do what the experts suggested. I tell him “off” and turn my back. He stops. He’s not getting the attention he wants and stops his unwanted behavior. After he calms down, we interact again.

Psychologists say it also works with naughty children. I’ll even stretch it to include misbehaving adults, as long as they aren’t wielding an ax. Then, I recommend running.

Humor aside, I can see laying down parameters, then turning my back on inappropriate behavior, resuming interaction when they can respond in a respectful manner. This also would improve my attitude, reduce my anxiety, and lesson my tendency toward anger. It will take practice and some self-control, a good thing.

Now, if I can just remember all of this when Cooper, or a cranky driver, push my buttons….

With God, anything is possible.

Friday, March 17, 2017


Last night I watched the movie the War Room. Its message about the power of prayer is inspiring, but something else touched me more. 

 “You can’t fix it. It’s not up to you to fix it. It’s up to you to pray to God to fix it.” 

That line changed my life. From my therapy sessions, I understood I have no control over most things in my life, especially other people. I can only control my reactions, but now I understand I can’t fix the world, my country, my family, or even me, either. But God can. It’s His job, not mine. My job is to pray for causes and people and then go wherever he leads me. It really is that simple.

He told me this once before in a dream, (See The Bus) but I forget His lessons, forcing him to repeat them. Thank goodness His patience is infinite, and He hasn’t given up on me. 

The line changed my attitude toward the rude woman in the restaurant, the violent protestors, the hateful, angry posters on social media, terrorists, and dirty politicians. I can’t fix any of them, but I can pray and ask God to. 

The movie also inspired us to reach out and help others find their way to God. I’ve tried to do that and failed. God told me I wasn’t to preach, or be a missionary. I am to tell stories.
Even what I write isn’t my decision. God inspires my writing. I know I am on the right track when the story flows, sometimes in uncanny, spine chilling ways. When I hit a snag, I’ve fallen off course. Through prayer and meditation I find my way again.  

And so we are full circle, back to the fact I can’t fix anything, not even myself, but I can respond to the desire to pray for whatever, and whoever, God puts in my heart. Then I need to leave it there with him. 

Life is easier knowing I’m not the boss, and it’s not my job to fix anything, except maybe dinner.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Nerve!

My husband and I went to our favorite local restaurant for breakfast. We stood for several minutes waiting for a table. 

A woman walked up from behind us and stopped at the entrance to the dining area. We assumed she was looking for someone, until her husband moved up beside her and a waiter took them to a table. The woman looked right at me as she walked away. 

Oooh! Of all the nerve!

Leaning closer to my husband, I said, “That was  rude!”

“It certainly was. But, there will always be rude people.”

He was right, but it didn't make me feel better. 

Good thing our table was in another section. I couldn't stop glaring and might not have kept my mouth shut. I thought of all kinds of things I wanted to say to her. 

My attention turned to our meal and conversation with my husband. However, I hoped the couple would be at the cash register at the same time. I had a snide comment all ready, but they weren’t. Another good thing.

I told myself the whole incident wasn’t a big deal. I tried. It didn’t wash. The woman looked right at me while she cut in front of us, and every time I recalled the look on her face, I got mad again.
 I knew better than to react that way, but I couldn’t seem to let it go. 

The next morning, God described what he thought about my little tiff. My devotions admonished me to love my enemies and pray for those who treated me ill — and I know he meant her.
A week from now, I won’t remember it. That’s what I tell myself, but I imagine if we return to the restaurant, it will come flashing back. I hope not, but I bet it will.

Another scripture flashed through my mind. “Those who would be first will be last and those who would be last will be first.”

When I get to heaven, I won’t care who got to their table first. Just passing through those gates will be enough. With that perspective, I let it go, but I know I’ll need God’s help if she (or someone like her) pulls the same stunt again. 

Perhaps, I should get back down on my knees and do some more praying. 

“Our Father…”