Perspective from a Dog’s Eye View

So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:26, 29-31

It was first thing Monday morning 4 weeks into my new routine, birds singing their varied songs somewhere in the treetops just off my back deck, a cool breeze soothing the senses, and Pow! The Father dropped a word picture in my life as He often does if I’m looking with spiritual eyes.

I’d come to this new routine by way of a needy, black fur ball, Poppy, a charming little black Markiesje mix that had attached himself to me over these few weeks. A job out of the country for my daughter necessitated finding him a new home. It only made sense he’d come to live with us; he is our “grand dog” after all.

Poppy has quickly trained me to get up as soon as he dances circles on my bed just after sunrise each morning. He yaps and spins incessantly until I roll out of the covers and start talking to him, at which time he bounds to the floor and spins ever more aggressively as I try to throw on some workout pants and a t-shirt. We head to the kitchen with him following me – because one day he went ahead of me and I got side-tracked with laundry on the way to the kitchen – so now he herds me like a sheepdog to the back door.

IMG_7504Mr. Poppy spins ’round by the back door until I open it. When I let him out, he waits looking back at me impatiently, because in a scant 28 days he’s learned my routine: grab a cup and start the Keurig; gather up my Bible, journal, and pen; put cream and sugar in the freshly brewed coffee; and head out to my morning spot at our intricately designed cast aluminum table on the deck.

This particular day I was perched as usual on our deck high above the ground  facing my neighbor’s back yard. Poppy headed down to do his morning business, romp in the wet grass, chase squirrels, and sniff out and dig up moles. It’s a dog’s life!

Well into my cup of coffee, while notating something in my journal, I vaguely noticed a car engine crank up next door. Immediately Poppy sprang to action. Bark-bark-bark! He would eat up whatever the threat was. He dashed to the fence on that side of the yard, ears alert, scampering back and forth trying to get a better view, alarmed and aggressive to protect his domain. He was on flat ground and could not see what was going on. I, however, was 15 feet up with a totally different perspective on the scene. Having a perfect sight line to my neighbor heading out to work, I summed up the scene casually with no worries, while he remained ever vigilant and ever anxious for the next 5 minutes as the neighbor loaded her car and finally pulled out.

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Immediately I saw myself and my heavenly Father in this scene.

Earthbound as I am, I cannot not see and decipher certain earthly events correctly. I hear and experience alarming things that ignite a fear response or cause me to be perplexed and to not understand what is going on. I run my fence and yap at the “problem” just like Poppy. But all the time my Father is on His Heavenly “deck” and has a totally different perspective knowing and understanding things I don’t. He realizes this will pass quickly. It’s just a part of life. A higher perspective changes everything.

Psalm 55_22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken..pngAs much as I call Poppy and speak in a calming way to him when he’s upset, he still runs and yaps and gets anxious. And I am much that way with my Abba Father. I’m anxious, alert, wondering if He understands that something big is going on over there. Do I need to jump this fence and do something God? Are you not aware? Why are you just sitting there? What if this lasts forever? What am I supposed to do? Aren’t you going to do something, Lord?

Nothing. 

Many times that is my answer, just as it is with my sweet Poppy.

Nothing.

Poppy just needs to relax and keep chasing squirrels and having a good doggie day. And me? I also need to relax, to cast my cares on the Lord and just keep doing the things he gave me to do, being the one he made me to be, and walking faithfully through the unknown.

But that is not what we humans like to do.

We like to yap (complain), run the fence (go through life in a tizzy as we say here in Alabama), rankle our fur and perk up our ears (become obsessed with our issue), become alarmed, bark at people closest to us (out of fear no doubt), and aggressively try to protect our domain. All of these are signs of my lack of faith.

If Poppy could listen and understand my ways, trust them, and believe me to be true to my word to love and care for him, he could relax and not rile himself. As can we. The next time you find yourself in the midst of the Barking Dog Syndrome, turn to your Heavenly Father who is on deck, aware, and has it all in hand. Listen to Him. Seek to understand His ways. Trust Him. Take Him at His word that He loves you. He cares for you. Relax! No need to be riled up.

Cast all your cares on him, because he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7
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Wash, Dry, Pray

About 3 months ago I was doing laundry. I had pulled out a load of whites, bleached and ready to be dried. As I pulled those chlorine laden clothes, towels, and sheets out of my washer, I inhaled deeply. Bleach always reminds me of my Grandmother, I called her Mam-maw. She lived in a time when in her words,

“We might didn’ta had nothin’ but we were clean. Bein’ poor ain’t no excuse for bein’ filthy.”

I had heard her say those words countless times as I grew up.

When I was a little girl she would “warsh my hands and face” with the hottest bleach and dish soap water. Just thinking about it now makes me wince. My four-year-old digits would involuntarily recoil as she wiped away any residue my lunch may have left behind. “Hold still Mamie!” I can see myself sitting on that homemade bench next to her kitchen table, my feet dangling, face and hands tingling more from the heat than the bleach. Her hands always smelled like bleach. Even long after her mind went away and her body was still strong, her hands smelled of bleach.

laundry-2000256_640.jpgShe was a hang out to dry king of gal. She shared a clothesline with her sister-in-law and also neighbor. Facing the road My Mam-maw’s side was the one on the left. There was something magical and intoxicating about fresh sheets whipping in the wind. My sister and I would run and play through those linens with a delight and carefree nature I have not known in my adult life. Inevitably Mam-maw would yell out from the kitchen window,

“You youngins better get back from my warshin’!”

She had to have known that we were there, that we had been weaving in and out of those linen walls made of clean cotton for a while. In hindsight I see now that she likely didn’t start fussing until we had wandered to the right side of the line and risked inadvertently pulling down her brother, Big John’s overalls.

As I pulled my own laundry out I spent a moment in my childhood, meandering down Memory Lane. It was the he rust colored spots that yanked me back to reality. My bare feet weren’t on a grassy hill in the clothesline of the past, they were standing on the concrete floor of my basement. As I pulled my recently re-spun load of whites from the washer I noted that my rickety old washing machine had deteriorated even more than the last time, spraying rust colored stains all over my fresh laundry. I sighed, I’d already reckoned that two spin cycles were necessary to drain the clothes. I had long ago noted how the “spin” hadn’t been as effective as it once had and how I had to manually switch the knob to request the spin cycle several times. I had reduced the size of the load all in an effort to reduce the workload of the already taxed and band-aid covered dryer. They were a pitiful pair those two, my washer and dryer.

As I sorted and divided the load into portions to accommodate the dryer, I calculated what a new washer and dryer might cost, coming to the realization that there was no way our budget would accommodate such a purchase. I said a quick prayer. Something along the lines of

“Lord, you know how sketchy this washer and dryer are, you reckon you could provide me with some new ones.”

As I continued on with the laundry task, I pulled from the dryer a fully assembled and intact Lego dude with a cape. I smiled and put him aside. Someone would be looking for him soon enough. I smiled thinking how for years my dryer has chinked with the sound of stray Lego parts, all manner of bricks, and such. The stuff great structures of imagination are made of. I transferred the wets into the dryer, threw in a dryer sheet, and turned to head back upstairs. I had not even made it the ten feet to the steps when I received a text from my husband.

wahser dryerIt said, “Hey do you want a new washer and dryer?”

My stunned response. “Are you kidding me?’

“Nope. They’re used but they’ll be new to us.”

Some friends were upgrading and were getting rid of their old ones; we were the recipients of their good fortune. I marveled at how, not even moments before I had asked, well sort of asked for a new washer and dryer and here in the form of a text message was an answer to that very prayer. The new, used washer and dryer have blessed us tremendously. The dryer still chinks with Lego pieces, and when the washer spins I still look around for a helicopter landing. The new ones are sort of high-tech-like with literal buttons and bells on them, but I am becoming accustomed to them. The old pair made a trip to the recycle plant, which in itself is an adventuresome outing for the Martins.

1 Peter 5:7 says to “cast your anxieties on Him (God) because he care for you.” That day the King demonstrated the very essence of that to me. He alone knew I had prayed that. I hadn’t told anyone. I was too busy meandering down Memory Lane. He knew I needed a faith builder, and he chose to use a second-hand washer and dryer to do it. 2 Timothy 2:13 says that even when we are faithless, he remains faithful. That day as I said that quick prayer I was lacking the faith that the King would move on my behalf. I will admit that even as said it I did not quite believe that I would be the recipient of a new washer and dryer. Despite that though, His goodness was not, it is not, contingent on my belief. He is faithful, even when I am not. Since then, I have yet to do the laundry without the reminder of the goodness and faithfulness of God, and the tangible evidence that He hears our prayers and is our provider.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful. 2 Timothy 2:13