Monthly Archives: July 2015


78531-You-Are-Special-WordsAs a puppy, Lily was enrolled in an obedience class. Our trainer there told us that an adult German Shepherd has about the same vocabulary as a three-year-old child. Really? That fact seemed impressive to a non-mother like myself.

Now that Lily is an adult dog, I’ve never counted the number of words she knows. But I will say there are some surprising ones in her collection. Not just the usual sit, stay, come; she knows inside, outside, upstairs, bowl, going, Bucky (a much loved plush toy) and many others. One of her favorites is airport.

Not that she knows an airport is a place for planes. Lily recognizes that word means the door to the silver chariot (car in Lily-speak) will open and she’ll be transported to meet my husband, Richard. Smart dog that she is, she knows the exact exit to the airport and once we reach the roadway circling it, she’ll intently scan the crowds to find him. Her excited whining in the back seat alerts me when Lily has spotted him. Once Richard opens the car door, she practically jumps in his arms, her tail wagging so rapidly its rotations would humiliate most helicopters.

Words matter. Not just to a dog, but to us humans. Who among us doesn’t need more words of praise, acceptance, encouragement? Words literally have the power to breathe life into our souls. But they can also damage. The old adage says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Won’t hurt me? Don’t you carry painful memories of a hurtful words spoken to you from childhood or your teenage years?

1 Corinthians 13:1 states, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” The truth is we need others to gently, softly, speak words of love into our lives. When life is harsh or even when it isn’t, we crave words that lift us up, deliver strength and bring healing to our fragile hearts.

So I wonder if all of us need more words of encouragement, why don’t we speak them more often? Why do we let our words drip with the bitterness of judgment, disapproval, coldness? Words can change the world because they have the power to transform the hearer’s soul – positively or negatively. It is our choice. I believe, when we use our words to bring a smile to another, the heart of God smiles also.

So let’s make today the day we feed the hunger in our souls for love by speaking love into the lives of others. Let’s make every day one where we use our words to build others up, offer grace, convey understanding, promote acceptance.

In your own way, in your own words, you can transform the world.


Fireworks are one of my favorite things in the world! I adore their pageantry, creativity and grandeur. With childlike abandon, I look forward to the 4th of July, researching when all the fireworks displays will occur and trying to squeeze in as many as possible.

foreworks imagesWhat I don’t like, however, are folks who purchase their own and insist on shooting them off into the wee hours of the morning. In the early morning hours of the 5th of July, I felt my house was under siege as the neighborhood booming and banging didn’t stop until almost 2AM. Who could sleep with all the ruckus outside my door?

Unfortunately, I don’t do well when my sleep is interrupted, so today I am bleary-eyed and irritable. I’ve been fervently trying to gut it out without a nap, so I also ardently pray, “Lord, help me get through this day.” Every few minutes I lift up this request because my eyes are droopy and my to do list is long.

Sometimes I feel a bit sheepish praying to God for something so trivial. I rationalize, “He has more important things to worry about like world peace, starving people or decaying morals. He doesn’t care about my lack of sleep.” But in 1 Samuel 1:15, Hannah states, “I am a deeply troubled woman. I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.”

Now Hannah had some real problems. She was infertile in a time when women were judged by the number of children they bore. She was one of two wives – a cultural norm at this juncture in history – and was experiencing a rival wife problem. I’m sure these challenges left her feeling frustrated and devalued. But Hannah poured out all of her problems, her entire soul, to God. Not just the monumental concerns, but the entirety of them.

It is easy to believe God is not interested in my sleeplessness, but God cares about everything. He is faithful and longs to fill our souls with peace regardless of what is bothering us. When we explain our feelings to Him, He bears our burdens. What is important is not the size of our problem, but the time we spend with Him. For it is in His presence, we are changed.

My sleeplessness may pale in comparison to your concerns. Maybe you are dealing with financial woes, relational difficulties, a bad medical report. Your life may be peppered with seemingly impossible situations that won’t be solved by a good night’s rest. But when you pour out your soul to God, when you get really honest with Him, He will faithfully replace your empty with His fullness, regardless of whether He removes your burdens or allows them to remain. Only in prayer do we experience the One and Only life-altering God.

Going to God with whatever is causing your head to ache reminds us that God is able. He is powerful. He is caring. To get through the worries, fears and hurts bring them to Him. So when you are feeling alone, scared or just plain tired, pour your soul out to God and experience the relief of divine arms wrapping themselves around you.

The best way to pray is with deep honesty. To gain that transparency, pray often- frequently opening up your life to God. Even if all you are praying for is a little sleep.

The Incident at the Dog Park

I’ve always wondered if I were threatened bodily harm whether Lily, my dog, would protect me. Oh, I flippantly tell everyone, “No one will bother me with Lily around.” Honestly, who would want to tangle with a 4 year old, 76 pound German Shepherd? But what would she do if someone did bother me? She’s never been trained in protection. Would her natural instincts and loyalty take over?

One idyllic afternoon in the doggie park that question was answered forever. While I read a book in the shade, Lily was whooping it up with her canine friends. None of them paid much attention when a white German Shepherd entered the park or even while the dog and its owners made their way to a bench near mine. As the couple seated themselves, they explained to me their dog, Lexi, had been roughed up during some recent trips to the park, so they temporarily stopped coming. After a brief hiatus, this was their first trip back to get Lexi re-acclimated.

Lily, ever the amicable peacemaking dog, ambled over to check Lexi out. My dog’s temperament must have soothed Lexi’s fears for soon the two of them were running as a pair never venturing more than 30 feet away from her owners and me. Watching Lexi, a white German Shepherd, dart alongside Lily, a black German Shepherd, was captivating as they gracefully danced as a salt-and-pepper team. Weaving in and out, their powerful strides carrying them quickly through the green grass were a perfect picture of canine euphoria.

I’ve been told dogs sense fear. I can now tell you from firsthand experience that is true. After the two German Shepherds were frolicking for a short time, with Lexi feeling a bit more confident, they slowly widened their circles around us. Just enough, unfortunately, to catch the attention of two pit bulls playing at the opposite end of the park. These pit bulls dashed over, separating Lexi from Lily. Extremely frightened, Lexi hotfooted it back to the benches, but for some reason, maybe because I was closest, charged straight towards me, not her owners. Within seconds, a dog fight erupted at my feet.

image001Sensing I was in dire trouble, Lily hustled over to my side. She promptly placed herself between me and the three other dogs. The pack was winnowed down to two as this action gave Lexi the time needed to retreat over to her owners. But the two pit bulls were not backing off; angrily snarling and with great menace lunging towards Lily. I tried to get the attacking dogs to withdraw, but they grew even more antagonistic.

I was scared for my dog, but Lily showed great courage. I’ve never seen her so agitated, so fiercely protective of me. The only way those pit bulls were going to harm me was over her dead body.

Love is not something you earn, but something you receive. It is a benediction, a blessing that is undeserved. We are protected, healed, uplifted when someone shows us love. We were not meant to walk this road alone. Amid the teeth barring, the vicious growling and the loud barking, my little lady turned into a warrior. Her bravery in the middle of this scuffle, despite my concern for her safety, made me proud.

Doesn’t it bring you great joy when a friend becomes your champion? They reach out to you, hold your hand tightly, form a protective barrier around you and gently whisper to you, “You’ll get through this. You’ll find yourself once again in a better place. You’ll laugh again, sleep well once more, find happiness. It will happen. I promise.” They make a sacred space of your grief and mess.

Fortunately, the owner of the pit bulls finally came over and got them to back away. Once they left, Lily, sat down quietly at my feet, still protecting me even though the danger had subsided.

When you sense a crisis, loneliness or pain overtaking the life of someone you care deeply about, take a lesson from Lily’s action during this incident in the doggie park. Bathe them with goodness from God: comfort, protection and the firsthand knowledge that peace will follow seasons of turbulence.