Remembering Reuben

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Our sweet dog Reuben died last night. I have not been able to sleep. I don’t know if I will ever hit publish on this but I need to get it out.. I’ve been up all night crying. In turn, I’ve also been weeping for my children who are in incredible pain. They are devastated. I have no words for them to offer comfort. It happened so unexpectedly and my own heart is shattered. I can’t stop the tears from flowing. He was fine when Dale put him out one last time to pee. He came in all happy, playful and excited for his treat. We never had a thought for a moment that anything was wrong. There was no indication.

That all changed sometime after midnight when he began to bark. It was a different kind of bark that screamed pain. He was whimpering. I picked him and held him and he was trembling. His little heart pounding. I could see the fear in his eyes. He was so scared. I wasn’t able to hold onto him for long because he wanted down. And he soiled all over me…and then as he scampered away he couldn’t walk at first. We noticed that he had thrown up in the night and had had diareha. He just couldn´t seem to get comfy. Something was wrong and we didn’t know what to do to help him. He was crying and running around all frantic like, trying to get under our bed…and of course he didn´t fit. In hind site I think he wanted to go there to die. Maybe he knew he was leaving us. I’ve heard dogs like to hide when they die. We put him in our bathroom to confine him and sat helplessly with him while he had a major seizure that seemed to go on forever and then his heart gave out and he passed away in our arms. Before he left us we told him what a good boy he was and how much we loved him. While the seizure was continuing we prayed over him that God would breathe life into him, stop the pain, stop the seizures…because we knew God could and we did not want to lose him. Not now, when we were not ready. Not when we were not expecting it or our hearts had not had time to prepare for it.. He was here one moment then gone. He left us suddenly, and painfully. It was the most horrible thing I have ever watched. We were helpless to do anything but scratch his ears and watch him die. People have told us that they think he got into poison…All the signs indicate that….but how or where? If he did we did not notice. As we are always with him in the house or if we are out walking. We will probably never know.

I don’t know what we will do without him. He was my walking companion. Oh how he loved walking! Most of the time, that is. Sometimes it was just too hot out to walk. And he would run away when I called him to go for a walk. He was my little guard dog, growling when strangers talked to me or came near. I guess he thought he was protecting me. He was my devo buddy in the morning. We had our routine down. I would make coffee and then sit on the couch and read my Bible and do my devotions. He would either be right beside me or at my feet. And he absolutely loved car rides! He went nuts over them. And he ALWAYS knew when it was Tuesday morning. The day when I would leave for the ladies Bible study. He would get so impatient waiting to for his weekly car ride!

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How he loved us all unconditionally. He was always so excited and happy to see us when we came home from somewhere. He would smother us with kisses and bring us his ball. He loved to play all the time. We had him for almost two years but he was still in puppy mode. We have his toys sitting on the table under the mirror in our living room and Reuben would often just sit there looking at his toys and glance back at us. Play with me! His latest game was at bedtime and he would play catch with Dale’s socks. He could have played 24/7. He was so happy-go-lucky.

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He loved sitting out on the balcony with the breeze and he loved sitting with Dale.

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He always sat at Ben’s bedroom door, wanting in. He and Ben loved to play together. Yesterday Ben and I were at Espresso Americano for our “date” when Ben told me that Reuben was the best pet he had ever had and how much he loved him and what fun he was. And now…the best pet ever is gone. Taken so suddenly. He was Jake’s best bud too…always sitting by him when he played on the x box. He loved to be chased by the boys all through the house. My heart is screaming out that it isn´t fair! And I want to know, why God? Why did Reuben have to die? And he just had his hair cut on Friday…He looked so handsome. His fur always grew so long and bushy, so we had it cut short for the warm weather even though in my opinion he was cuter when he was so scruffy. The lady who cut his hair said he was a happy dog. And that he was…and he will be so missed by our family. It’s a loss we didn’t see coming and it’s hitting us so hard.

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I so remember the day we got him. We went to the Puppy Mcdonald’s here in the city. It’s a McDonalds’ where people stand outside on the sidewalk and sell their puppy’s. He was such a tiny little thing. He was really one of the best decisions we ever made. He was the glue that bonded us together as a family. He drew us closer to each other in a culture that was still so new to us. He brought a lot of joy and FUN to our lives. We all loved him and were loved by him. Elisa adored him…She liked to pick him up as if he were a doll.

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Back when he was a pup he loved to chew toothbrushes and dirty underware. It was so gross. He would knock over the hamper just to get at them. And he would have accidents in the house. Which was frustrating…not gonna lie…Except in the past couple weeks those had stopped. Finally… It was like he got it!

My how we will miss him. I still can’t believe he is gone and not just asleep. I keep expecting to walk in a room and find him there, tail wagging a toy hanging out of his mouth…but that isn´t going to happen. He is gone and we have to try to grieve and move forward without him. I know there are some who might think he was “just” a dog…But to us he was family.

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Grave clothes

Isaiah 43:18.19

But forget all that—It is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in dry wastelands.

Recently I was reading a book by Robert Whitlow. Although this was a work of fiction; there was something in it that spoke to me and I can’t stop thinking about it. The author spoke about Lazarus in a way that I have never thought of before, even though I have read this story in John 11 many times and even though we have taught about Lazarus to the children in the schools. I guess I just considered it another miracle in the bible…how Jesus raised him from the dead. You know, the kind of thing that we don´t see every day. But how does this story of Lazarus apply to me? To you?

One thing that I love about the bible is that you can always find something that you never noticed before, when God shines his light of truth on something new.

See, Lazarus had died. He was wrapped in cloths and put in a tomb. Back then, like here in Honduras death and burial happened on the same day or the day after. They had a belief that the spirit hovered above the body for three days after someone died. Even though this is not the case…it was the belief in that culture. A superstition. So when he had been dead four days…there was no hope. Not until the resurrection. But then Jesus came…and the Bible tells us he wept. How he must have loved his friend Lazarus. And you know…he loves us too.

How many of us are like Lazarus? Wrapped in grave clothes. Broken. Bound by disappointment. Bound by hurt and unforgiveness. Bound by the shame of our past. Bound by sin. Bound by doubt. By fear.

Jn 11:43-44

When he said this, Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped in strips of linin and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “take off the grave clothes and let him go”

See, in that moment when Lazarus walked out of that tomb…LIFE came out of the grave. It no longer held him captive. And like He freed Lazaraus, He wants to free us from the grave clothes that bind us, that trap us where we are, that have us all wrapped up. He gives us new life. Sometimes I think that although we know that he has set us free, we don’t always walk in that freedom.

Luke 4:18,19

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good news to the poor, he has snet me to proclaim that the captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favour has come..”

I also believe that He can make things that are dead in us come to life again. Our dreams, hopes and visions that we long ago buried. He wants to bring them to life.

Romans 8:38,39

And I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow…not even the power of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky about or the earth below…indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 John 5:4

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world…our faith.

2 Tim 1:6

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and of a sound mind.

Is there something you are believing God for today?   He is greater than anything we face. He never fails.

In Him there is life. Healing. Victory. Hope. And He is calling us out of the grave to life again. Will we let the grave clothes fall?

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Blessed are the merciful

All this year we have been teaching the children in the schools the Beatitudes that are found in Matthew chapter 5. As I have mentioned before , teaching the Beatitudes has been a challenge. Try teaching the children who know what it is like to lose a parent or a loved one to murder…that God blesses those who mourn. Or blessed are the poor. It’s been difficult. And yet in all of those lessons we have learned things too. Our lives and hearts have also been touched through these children.

This past month the lesson was on Mercy. In Spanish this word is super long. Misericordia. It’s a mouthful! I have some difficulty spitting it out, but that’s ok because kids love it when we try to say big words in their language. Even if it makes them laugh. But like in all the other lessons we have done with the children..we have seen mercy in our own lives or in the life of others.

Matthew 5 :7

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Just last night we heard an amazing testimony of the mercy of God. Dale and I went to the home group we are a part of. It was one of those times where I really did not feel up to going, and I amost backed out. Part of me just wanted to stay home, read my book and go to bed early. I was tired and normally it goes well past my early bedtime…but as Dale would say “who goes to bed at 8:30?” Well, I do if I am tired. I am glad I went because if I did not I would have missed out. You see, at the meeting last night was a gentleman and it was his first time he had ever been to home group. He is a friend of Geirson and Amy; who are the hosts.

Last night the normal study was changed and we all shared scripture that meant something to us. When it was his turn, he shared his story. This man is a walking miracle. Serioulsy. He should be dead. He told us of that night almost a year ago where he was coming home from his class at the university when his wife called and asked him to stop and pick something up at a pulperia in Mira Flores. It was 8:30pm. He made the stop and he ended up getting shot 5 times. Once in the throat, three other times in the chest area and one shot behind. He showed us four of the scars. He should not be walking. He should not be talking. Yet there he was, not even a year later testifying to the mercy of God. It’s a miracle those bullets did not hit any major organs. God’s great mercy kept him alive. He spent one month in a coma and when he woke up he told the Dr. that he needed to leave. “I have a test this morning!” He didn´t realize what had happened or that he had been in the hospital one month. Funny how the mind works and his mind went back to the day he was hospitlized. He received 22 bags of blood during that time, yet he will tell you, that is not what kept him alive…It was because of Christ and his mercy. Because the reality is..he should have died.

There are many verses in the Bible that talk about mercy, but one of my favorites is found in Lamentations 3:22-24

The faithful love of the Lord never ends. His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him”

There was another instance that happened to Dale where he was shown mercy by the police. He shared it on Facebook…Below is his post where he explains what happened.

Favourite father moment yesterday: Coming back from food deliveries to our In School feeding program, we got stopped by the pólice because my son (the birthday boy) did not have his seat belt on. My temporary license was at the house because I needed it at my computer to pay for the license plate bill. My residency card is on an airplane somewhere in space and the officer wanted both of these ítems. All I had was my paper for the license plate. He took that and kept it telling me I needed to go transito to pay a bill. I kept asking him “how would I get a ticket” At transito. I didn’t understand him. He didn’t understand me, so he walked away.

I went to the office to pick up my favorite Honduran pastor, and then to my house to get my temporary license. ( They are still out of plastics.) We found the officer in front of Mira Flores mall and we asked him how I was to pay a ticket if I didn’t have a ticket in my hand? He said he could help me if I wanted him to help. ( Meaning bribery..I pay him, he will let me off) I told him I wanted to do the honest thing. Just give me a ticket and I will go pay. For some reason the 2014 paper is in my name , but the 2015 paper is in the original owners name. So he wrote the ticket out in Noe’s name. Pastor Victor told him that’s not my name, so the officer tore out the ticket and threw it out. He then gave me paper back and told me to leave WITHOUT A TICKET. My son said, “Thanks dad for being honest and not accepting the bribe to get out of a ticket”

So, the officer had mercy and decided not to hand out a ticket!

1 Chronicles 16:34

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His mercies endure forever.

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So Dale being honest and wanting to do the right thing set a great example to Jake…and the result was mercy. It would have been easy to just pay the little bit of money the officer wanted, and he would have made the ticket go away.. This is Honduras afterall and bribes are a common occurance here. But in the end that is what happened anyway….with no bribe. Mercy.

We all need to have mercy in our lives.

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on keeping calm

A while ago I was reading my devotional for that particular day when a quote from it resonated with me. “I´m wired with firecrackers in my blood, so I have to make the choice to let the Holy Spirit rein me in. This means getting into God’s word every day and praying for patience and self control”

The author Lysa Terkeurst told a story where her daughter had a taken crayon along the wall walked up the stairs and down the hall of freshly painted walls. I can tell you that I would not have responded to that so well either. I would have completely lost it. I would have been upset that the beautifully painted walls had been ruined…and I would have undoubtedly have regretted my words later, after I had the time to cool down and get my emotions in check.

It was encouraging to read this devotional to know that I am not alone. I could so relate to the statement about firecrackers in the blood. I am not the only one who has lost her cool with her kids, been impatient and flown off the handle and said things in the heat of the moment. At times I have felt like the worst mom ever and like I can never measure up. I guess I see all my flaws and the times I have failed and behaved in a less than loving manner to the people  I love more than anything. I have cried a lot of tears over this. I confess I have often compared myself to other moms who seemingly have it all together all the time. The perfect mom. Definitely not me. Not by a long shot. There are times when I am genuinely trying to be patient and not overreact, but a certain nameless child knows all the right buttons to push my patience to the brink of losing it and takes great delight in getting a reaction and doesn’t stop until he succeeds. I’m sure a few other moms have kids like that. Haha. I don’t mean to, but I tend to raise my voice. My son Ben would say it’s screaming. To which I respond “you want me to show you screaming?” I don’t even realize it at times. Honestly I think I come by it naturally. You the saying the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? It isn’t who I want to be. I want to be a mom who doesn’t overreact. The kind of mom who doesn’t get frustrated; or make mountains out of molehills. Someone who behaves calmly and gently. Someone who has godly reactions. And speaking of Ben. This kid is not afraid to let me know if I am overreacting to something. He is not afraid to tell me that I need  to “Calm down”.

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I can remember one time I was babysitting for a friend. Her boys played outside when the oldest one ran over to me and exclaimed. ”Mrs. Carolyn! Someone’s been pooping in your shed!” I went to investigate the scene of the “crime”.  Sure enough the floor of the tiny shed, was covered in poop!” I  remember calling my husband at work right away and told him what happened. I was fuming…fit to be tied! He told me to let him handle it and for me to not to confront the boys when they came home from school…much as everything in me wanted to let them have it!  So, when he came home from work that day he took the boys out to the shed, showed him the discovery that was made. He asked them if they knew anything about it, and they sheepishly admitted to pooping in the shed. Unbelievable! So you can imagine what their punishment was. Yup. Cleaning out the shed!

When my kids constantly argue it grates on my nerves. I can´t just tune it out the way my husband does. I have often wished that I had hearing aids l I could just shut off when I don’t want to hear anymore, like he is able to do…because really, what kids don’t fight? It’s normal to a certain extent. I think. Hubby tells me to just ignore it. I have a hard time doing that. All that being said; I do make a point of apologizing if I flip out . I always say I’m sorry and admit I was too harsh or wrong. If only I didn’t have to apologize in the first place. If only I had been calm. I remember one time, one morning shortly after moving to Honduras I was feeling overly sensitive. I had a lot going on inside of me, things I was wrestling with that no one knew about. And I was tired. That combination made me edgy and impatient with the kids, who while dealing with their own culture shock were not behaving . They were having issues of their own they were working through. My husband looked at me and said, “Boy, somebody needs to go spend some time with Jesus.” Ouch. That hurt. There was a measure of truth to it though.

James 1:19-20 says You must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

I find the days that I take the time to read my bible and talk to God are better days. I might fall but God doesn’t let me stay down. He lifts me up when I am discouraged and too hard on myself. And to Him I am not a failure even though I may see myself as one sometimes when I let my emotions rule and get the better of me. The days when I lose it. The days when I am emotional and take things too personally . And you know what? He loves me even when I don’t love myself…because honestly, on days like that I sure don’t love myself. Loathe would be a better word. But God. His love is constant and true and bad days don’t change that. I know I can go to Him about anything and He will never let me down. He will give me patience and self control when everything in me feels like losing it. He will give me strength to be dignified and act calmly, not a like a lunatic.

Proverbs 31: 25

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Proverbs 16:32

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self control than one who takes a city.

Colossians 3:12

Therefore as God’s chosen people , holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility and patience.

I saw a quote recently on Instagram by Lysa Terkeurst that love and it was this. “I want to stop comparing and start celebrating who God has made me to be.” I love that. Perfect timing. I know I need to stop the comparing myself to other moms, because all none of us are “the” perfect mom. All of us are flawed in some way or another. Just the way he made us. If you are reading this and have ever felt the way I feel sometimes; you need to know that you are not alone. Others have been there. Stop the comparing. Be yourself and allow Him to help you be who he created you to be.