Thursday, May 29, 2014

Missing Maisy

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him” -Gen. 2:18-20 We had to say good-bye to our precious lab, Maisy, today. She had become very sick. After her blood work, it became evident that the culprit was chronic kidney failure. The Vet wasn’t sure why it developed. “It was probably genetic and she was probably born with it,” he said. Though she was only four years old, she had become a big part of our family. She joins the spirits of our previous three wonderful labs: Josie, Kipper, and Maggie. We will miss her. Maisy was a good friend. Some say dogs are “man’s best friend.” You may not remember, but in Genesis Chapter two, after God created man, He acknowledged, “It isn’t good for man to be alone.” So God said He would “make a helper suitable for him.” We presume he is describing Eve. He first creates the beast of the field and brings them to Adam to name them. One of those animals was certainly a dog. But God observes that none of the animals was “a suitable helper for him [Adam]. So God fashions a woman to fill the void. The animals came close, but Eve was the missing piece. Still, dogs and cats and guinea pigs fill a huge void. Maisy filled a huge void for us and her absence has left a hole in our family. I remember one afternoon I was finishing up a backyard project in the rain. Maisy was always involved in every outdoor activity. I had to run back and forth to our storage building and was getting soaking wet. Maisy ran every lap with me, back and forth from the garage to the storage building. She was soaking wet herself. I remember thanking her for staying beside me. Maisy was a real mess. I’m not sure we’ve ever had a lab who got into more trouble than Maisy. As a puppy, she was into anything chewable in our garage and yard. One night, she chewed all the wiring for our garage door opener. Another night, she chewed the brake lines on my Chevy. I had the lines replaced and sprayed them with a special “keep dogs away” product and, a week later, she chewed them again. Any plant in the yard was fair game to dig up and deposit in the far reaches of our backyard. She chewed all the telephone lines under our deck and even found time to leave her mark on our deck railing. As she got a bit older, she settled down, but her marks are still all over our house! She definitely brought life to our home, even though she drove me crazy. Maisy was intensely loyal. Every morning, rain or shine, hot or cold, she stood at attention by the back door, ready to begin the day. Like all the labs before her, she loved to go on walks with Jeanie. She was never much of a squirrel chaser, but she had a great bark that alerted everyone to her presence. One of my favorite times with Maisy was leaving the house for work and returning home after a long day. She was always there as I left the house and walked me to my car. And as the garage door went up on my returning home, she would squeeze under the door to hurry out to greet me. I will miss her greeting. We do miss our sweet Maisy. I don’t miss her destruction of our yard, but I do miss her. On second thought, maybe I do miss her mess. I miss everything about her. But I’m glad she’s not in pain anymore. And I’m glad we got to have a season with her. We’re not interested in another dog right now, but as we’ve done four times before, I’m sure we’ll be looking for a pup in the near future. After all, though Jeanie and I have each other… …it’s not good for us to be alone. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Out With The Old And In With The New

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” -Jer. 29:11 It’s hard to let go of things. We are all “creatures of habit,” so we like to hold on to things as long as possible. We like consistency. We favor familiarity. We lean on structure. But only one thing is certain: things will change. I have said “goodbye” many times over the years. I said goodbye to my dad in 1988- I love him very much; last year I said goodbye to my oldest brother, Pelham- I miss him dearly; I said goodbye to three labs- Jose, Maggie and Kipp- all awesome dogs; I said goodbye to a job- I loved my years with Doulos Ministries; and I said goodbye to my boss and mentor Richard Beach- I think about him every day. There have been a lot more “goodbyes,” too many to list here. Months ago, a friend at church asked me, “Would you ever be interested in selling your car?” I drove a Chevy Trailblazer. “Sure,” I told him, and the search for another vehicle began. I narrowed the field to three SUV’s and had three dealers looking for me. Last week, we located the vehicle not far from home and I purchased a Honda Pilot over the weekend. As I drove the Trailblazer to the new owner this morning, I reflected over my years with the vehicle. Sure, it’s just a car, but I reminisced on the season I had with the car. The Lord provided the vehicle in a tough season and it drove Jeanie and me all over the country to visit family. But I’m excited about the new season with the Pilot. Again, it’s just a car, but a gift God will use to transport us to family and friends. It’s the reason they christen ships. They are just boats, but they are special as they transport us to special places. Just this week, I met with dear people struggling with letting go of jobs, kids, teenagers, health and other major life areas. This time of year, seniors are letting go of the high school years and moving on, sons and daughters are moving out of the house and moms and dads are saying “goodbye” to their beautiful young adults as they go off to college, jobs and careers. All the goodbyes involve grieving. We all find freedom in “letting go, trusting and moving on.” That’s what healthy grieving is all about. We appreciate where we were as we celebrate where we’re going. Perhaps you’re holding on to something today that you need to release. Don’t grab it tighter but instead, let the change begin. Acknowledge the pain of the separation, but embrace the change as well. Through it all, God is there. He never leaves us alone, even when we feel lonely. Admit your pain. Embrace the change. Let it go. Make the jump. Let it be. Every season has a reason. People, jobs…. …and even an SUV. By Eric Joseph Staples ©