Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sweet Georgia Brown

We said goodbye today. Twelve years is a very long time to love an animal. 
We knew she was sick when we went to bed last night, but we hoped it was just a stomach thing and she'd feel better today. Friday morning she had walked three laps and behaved like her normal happy self. 

This morning, I woke up to find Dave sitting in the bathroom floor with her. Her breathing was very labored and she refused to get up. I think we both just knew this was it for her, but we decided to take her to the emergency vet just to make sure it wasn't some freak illness and we'd done everything we could. Dave had to carry her to and from the car. I've never seen a 70 lb dog look so small. 

We got to the vet in time for her to assure us that she was dying and that there was nothing else we could have done to help her. She said she likely had a tumor on her spleen that burst, and that she sees that so often in old Labs. The staff there were awesome. They gave us space to love on her in the busy ER and made an impression of her paw for us to take home. 

We will miss her, but she had a long and healthy life, and you just can't ask for more than that. 

Godspeed, Georgia. You were the very best. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Just Fishes

In our house, the birthday kid gets to choose the menu for their birthday supper. We've basically always done it that way, now we just do it more often. Luke chose fish tacos, green bean casserole, and cookie cake for his birthday supper last month.

Fish tacos, people. He loves them. The only other time I've made them while we've lived here, it was at his request and I cleaned out the freezer supply of Tilapia. I was preparing my grocery list and I decided to check the food room before going shopping, just in case.

Because I'm kinda thrifty and I don't like to pay for things I can get for free.

What's this food room, you say?

The Food Room looks like the stock room of a grocery store and it's full of donated food and stuff. Like, we hardly ever buy meat because we use what we find there. I've become a master at making a meal out of what I find. It's a personal challenge for me. How much free food can I feed them?

I regularly go there with a list of things I know we need in my head and I regularly find those exact things. And weird stuff, like children's multivitamins or tylenol, probiotics, school snacks for the littles, the exact number of cans of Rotel I was about to go buy, a specific kind of hair conditioner that one kid needs. Really, it's mind blowing. Dave and the kids, all of them, are probably sick of hearing my fascination with the food room. It's always what I name as my best part of the day at supper that night.

So, we went to the food room and we collected a really nice haul, cereal, Pop-Tarts, hygiene products, Italian bread crumbs(!), but the meat freezers were looking pretty sparse. I knew the chances of me actually finding Tilapia for fish tacos were slim because I've only ever seen pre-breaded Tilapia there and that was months ago. Just as we were preparing to leave and I had resigned to buy the fish, the man who picks up the donations started unloading his van.

He had 5 lbs of Tilapia.

Do you know how much I need to feed 12 people fish tacos?

5 lbs.

As my pastor would say, I nearly had a spell.

And now Dave really thinks I'm with obsessed with the food room. He said, "It's the best part of your day again, isn't it?" Yes!

But I told him, it's God's most consistent way that He shows me that He hears me. I talk to Him all the time and He answers me all the time but it is never more clear than by provision. And a consistent pattern of providing wierd and trivial things just about does me in. I get so giddy about how much God must love me to send me a bottle of evening primrose oil and five pounds of fish.

When I think about the process that happens to stock our food room, He blows my mind again. It might seem magical when five pounds of fish shows up right when I need it, but it doesn't happen by magic. People make the donations that stock the food room. People bring meals to families when there is illness. People pay the bill to keep a neighbor's power on when he needs help. Obedient people are the hands and feet of God's provison. 

"If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?" James 2:15-17

So I go to the food room and I take my fish and my vitamins and my weird hair products and I vow again to be so obedient that someone else will see God's work in their own life.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


This happened.

It was my favorite coffee cup.

Dave and The Littles gave it to me for Christmas and I loved it so much for how it fit in my hand and for how it reminded me to chill out.

One of them broke it while putting it away in the cabinet.

The heartache that followed was disproportionate to the actual event. She was devastated because she knew I really loved it and she had let it crash to the floor. She cried like she had been hurt. I thought she might have cut herself badly on one of the pieces, but she hadn't. It was just her heart.

When she came running out of the apartment with tears streaming down her face, all I could do was scoop her into my arms and hug her - my heart hurting because hers was.

It was then that I realized we had gathered an audience. Four teenage girls stood around us to make sure she was okay, but also to see what I would do. The Holy Spirit whispered to me, "They are watching to see if you are mad at her. They are waiting to see if you will be angry."

I wasn't.

I turned her face to mine and said, "A coffee cup is just a thing. Did you step on it?" She shook her head and continued to cry as I went into our apartment to clean up the broken pieces. The girls gathered around her to comfort her, repeating my message, "It's okay...  we can get another one,,, at least you weren't hurt..."

I don't believe in coincidence, so I saved that broken cup so I could think about it later. She saw it sitting on the stove at bedtime and started crying all over again, and so I told her what God had whispered to me. I told her she was forgiven before the cup had even hit the floor and I reminded her of her job here: to show others how to be a kid in a family where there is grace and forgiveness, where what you learn is more important than the mistakes you make, where people matter more than things. I told her that she didn't mean to let the cup fall out of the cabinet, but that it was no accident that it had because someone standing in that hallway needed to see that scene play out that night. I reminded her that we work here, and that sometimes that work is work-work, but sometimes it's just showing someone else a different kind of family.

God is constantly showing me that our reaction to the broken speaks volumes.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart - these, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:17
He wants the broken ones - and thank goodness because, aren't we all?