All Important Touch

Our third Bloodhound’s home was Thousand Oaks in southern California, and her name was Shelby. Her owner’s home was repossessed and they were no longer able to keep her. Concerned neighbors took her in, but that didn’t last long. Shelby was passed off to a woman named Olivia who lived several hours north of Thousand Oaks. Olivia was temporarily sheltering dogs who were displaced due to home repos and military deployments. A neighborhood girl was also named Shelby. She had a reputation of being a bully, so Olivia’s daughters changed the Bloodhound’s name to Sadie. Alas, Olivia was unable to find a home for Sadie so she drove one hour north and relinquished Sadie to Woods Humane Society in San Luis Obispo. That’s where Sadie spent the next 40 days until we discovered and adopted her on July 3, 2010. Jon didn’t think the name Sadie suited her. My words to Jon—”If you allow us to adopt this Bloodhound, you can name her whatever you want.” Jon liked the name Annie.

When we found Annie, she was about 15 months old and had been passed around four times. Imagine how confusing that was for a young Bloodhound! She never forgot the insecurity and fear that stems from rejection and not putting down lasting roots. So when we found Emma at San Luis Obispo County Animal Services in January 2012, Annie wanted to make sure she felt welcome and secure in our home. Emma had been picked up as a stray in nearby Arroyo Grande at only seven weeks old. The day before we discovered her, Emma had been adopted by someone with a very big dog. The following day the adopter promptly returned Emma to Animal Services saying they were afraid their dog was going to kill Emma! Traumatic for a small puppy. When an Animal Services volunteer took Emma outside to meet Annie, 4½ pound Emma took one look at Annie and let out a blood curdling scream that sounded like a human who had just been terrorized. She was so afraid! Jon carried Emma to our car while I completed the adoption paperwork. 

What happened next still amazes us. Jon was sitting in the front passenger seat with Emma in his lap, I was behind the wheel, and Annie was in the back seat. Annie instinctively put her long Bloodhound nose in-between the front seats, reached over and touched Emma’s nose with her nose. No scream. No panic. Just superb reassuring communication between a Bloodhound and an eight week old mixed-breed terrier. From that moment forward, Annie and Emma developed the most wonderful relationship imaginable.

Annie and Emma (February 2012)

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May the Mind of Christ My Saviour

On Christmas Day 1970, I boarded a passenger train at the station in Pasadena, California, along with many other college students and traveled by rail all the way to Illinois to attend InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Urbana 70. The students filled at least two cars! Urbana is InterVarsity’s Student Missions Conference that takes place every three years. It is a five-day catalytic event bringing together a diverse mix of college and graduate students, faculty, recent graduates, pastors, church and ministry leaders, missions organizations, and schools.

In addition to exceptional teaching throughout the conference, I was exposed to songs—some that I’d never heard before. May the Mind of Christ My Saviour is one of those that has since become a favorite.

Katie Barclay Wilkinson

Born  ~  Au­gust 27, 1859 – Wood­lands Bank, Tim­per­ley, Che­shire, Eng­land
Died  ~  De­cem­ber 28, 1928 – South Ken­sing­ton, Lon­don, Eng­land

Katie was the daughter of mechanical engineer William Beckett Johnson. In 1891 at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Altrincham, Cheshire, Katie married Frederick Barclay Wilkinson, a clerk. She is said to have worked with girls and young women in London and was apparently involved with the Keswick Convention movement.* Little is known for certain about her, except that she died at home in South Kensington. She is remembered for this one hymn, May the Mind of Christ My Saviour.

May the Mind of Christ, My Saviour was written in the early twentieth century. It is based on the words of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament book of Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” A description follows of the way the Lord Jesus surrendered His rights and took the place of humble service, even unto death (vs. 6–8). It is a theme the Bible addresses a number of times, perhaps because the tendency of our sinful nature is to do just the opposite—to cling to what we see as our rights and expect others to serve us!

* Keswick Ministries

Some thoughts on the incalculable worth of voices

If you’re anything like me, you’ve had infrequent times in your life when you’ve temporarily lost your voice due to a viral infection or yelling too much at an athletic event. The larynx—the structure at the upper part of the human trachea that contains the vocal cords—becomes stressed and inflamed resulting in laryngitis. Typically after several days of resting the vocal cords by not talking, your voice returns to normal. 

When our youngest daughter was around eight years old, she had a yellow, male cockatiel named Simba who had quite a repertoire. Simba would recite “Joy to the world the Lord is . . . “, but much to our chagrin, he never learned to finish with the word “come.” He even whistled familiar tunes. Then one day Simba suddenly got very sick and almost died. In fact, it happened a second time before we realized the fresh parsley we were feeding him [homegrown from our garden—no pesticides!] is poisonous to birds. OH NO! We were unintentionally responsible for both of his near death experiences. 😧   Following a prolonged convalescence, Simba appeared to fully recover, but he no longer talked nor whistled—we thought he may have suffered brain damage. Many, many long weeks later, Simba surprised us when he began to talk and whistle again. He hadn’t forgotten a single thing! Until Simba’s extended period of complete silence, I had never fully grasped just how much energy it takes to . . . simply talk.

Birds are recognizable by their unique voices. Even with my eyes closed, it is easy for me to tell if the bird I hear is a crow, English sparrow, mockingbird, mourning dove, owl, scrub-jay, seagull, or towhee. And there’s no mistaking the chatter of a squirrel nor the howling of coyotes—heard again last night—following a successful hunt. God has blessed each creature with a distinctive voice that sets them apart.

In this electronics age, Siri talks for me when requested. An app on my iPhone called “Text to Speech” speaks the words I type. The same app will also talk on the phone; but I’ve been reluctant to use that feature because typing messages on my phone is not a quick endeavor. The person I’m “talking” with would need to be exceptionally patient.

Another communication assist is the Boogie Board—the ALS Association Golden West Chapter gave me one of these nifty devices. It is used like pen on paper. Simply write and push the button to erase over and over again. It’s lightweight and handy in well lit areas; but there’s no backlighting, so it is not helpful in low-light settings.

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How Great Thou Art!

This morning as I was awakening to face a new day, a passage of Scripture came to mind that encouraged my heart. It comes from Isaiah, chapter 30, verse 15 (Living Bible)—emphasis mine:

For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, says:
Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved;
in quietness and confidence is your strength . . .

Chapter 30 should be read in its entirety so that you begin to gain an understanding of the context and sense in which Isaiah wrote these words. Time and again, God demonstrated His steadfast love for His chosen people, Israel. But Israel had utterly forgotten God—they believed they were capable of living without listening to or acknowledging Him. In today’s language you might ask Israel, “How’s that been working out for you?”

HOW GREAT THOU ART

1)  O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the works Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Refrain
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

2)  When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Refrain

3)  And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Refrain

4)  When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then shall I bow, in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, “My God, how great Thou art!”

Refrain

How Great Thou Art [Wikipedia]

Story Behind How Great Thou Art

 

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow!

California Native Sticky Monkey Flowers   ~   Sands’ Garden

I KNOW WHO HOLDS TOMORROW
by Ira Forest Stanphill

1)  I don’t know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to grey.

I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Refrain
Many things about tomorrow

I don’t seem to understand
But I know Who holds tomorrow
And I know Who holds my hand.

2)  Every step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb;
Every burden’s getting lighter,
Every cloud is silver lined.

There the sun is always shining,
There no tear will dim the eye;
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky.

Refrain

3)  I don’t know about tomorrow;
It may bring me poverty.
But the One who feeds the sparrow,
Is the One who stands by me.

And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood.

Refrain

Ira Forest Stanphill

Born ~ February 14, 1914 – Bellview, New Mexico
Died ~ December 30, 1993 – Overland Park, Kansas

Zoomitis


Our nation, and perhaps our world, may currently be experiencing Zoom overload. Everyone is Zooming into work conferences, neighborhood get-togethers, small-group church or social meetings, doctor appointments, school classes, workshops, and more. In fact, Zoom bombing incidents have become a real threat to bona fide Zoom meetings. Who would have ever thought!

That being said, yesterday one of our daughters encouraged us to register for an ALS Association–Texas Chapter Zoom workshop titled “Stress-Less On Purpose,” led by Tonya Hitschmann, Director of Community Programs. As Tonya shared in an email: “We truly, truly want each of our workshops to be worth the time investment, and to somehow, someway lighten the load for all who are living with ALS.” I truly believe their mission was accomplished!

After you make time to view this video, I think you will agree it was 51 minutes well spent. This video is not just for people with ALS and their caregivers—it is for you, too, and will provide some good tools for how to purposefully deal with stress in your own life.

STRESS-LESS ON PURPOSE

Reason to Hope!

Undoubtedly, you’re familiar with the song Julie Andrews made famous in the “The Sound of Music” . . . My Favorite Things.

One of my favorite things is the first bird to greet our mornings—the California Towhee. This morning before dawn, I heard the sweet chirp of a friendly Towhee in our yard beginning its daily search for food. Our local Towhees are really nondescript birds with no exceptional markings. Jon tells me that his father, who grew up on a remote ranch behind Hearst Castle, simply referred to them as “brown birds.” It’s interesting to watch them use both feet to quickly sift through leaves and debris looking for tasty insects or seeds—all the while making their delightful little chirping sound. They are not combative birds, as are the California Scrub-Jays and crows—they don’t harass other birds for the express purpose of preying on their young. Towhees mind their own business, don’t quarrel with other birds, and just live their lives finding food, mating, laying eggs, raising babies . . . and then begin the cycle all over again. They seem to live without worries which is exactly how God wants us to live our lives!


Another of my favorite things are the ancient redwood trees. Redwoods are so magnificent! As a child, our family visited the redwood forests along the coast in northern California—something still vivid in my mind. Only God could have devised a plan to create such impressive, giant trees and then create the trees for us and wildlife to enjoy. It is beyond my imagination how anyone could gaze at the grandeur of one of these enormous trees and not believe that the God of the universe is the One responsible for putting them here.

Fanny Crosby knew God and understood that He needs all the glory!

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A Kiss from God!

We’d been in the market for an upright freezer. Our daughters were young, and I wanted to purchase food from a co-op and needed more space for frozen food. After checking out models at several appliance stores, we realized prices were not affordable. So we waited . . . and prayed.

A friend named Lori who was also the mother of young children lived in a nearby community. She had severe back problems which prohibited her from driving long distances. Lori’s mother lived in southern California and was in the hospital fighting an acute infection following an elective surgery. Lori was concerned her mother was dying, but she couldn’t make the roundtrip to go see her. I offered to drive her big station wagon so she could lay down in the back for the duration of the trip. We both arranged for friends to take care of our children and set off for Oceanside together. Lori was so relieved to see her mother face to face . . . it greatly lifted the spirits of both mother and daughter. Lori’s mother eventually made a full recovery. It was a trip well worth the time and effort.

The day after returning home, Jon and I set off with our girls for a bike ride. Jon was in the lead while I brought up the rear. As we rounded a corner, an unfamiliar man standing in his front yard shouted out distinctly, “Hey, could you use a freezer?” I called to Jon to stop and said, “Did you hear what that man back there just asked us? He wondered whether we could use a freezer.” We turned around and went right back. The man told us he had just moved his aging mother out of her home, just a few blocks from our home. There was a big upright freezer in her garage. If we could use it, he would give it to us, pay the rental fee for the dolly, and deliver it to our house in his truck! We cut our bike ride short and met the man at his mother’s house. The freezer was exactly what we’d been looking and praying for! Jon likes to call this a kiss from God.

But the story doesn’t end there. Soon after we had the freezer safely in our garage, the phone rang. It was Lori. She told me she was so grateful for me driving her to see her mother, she and her boys had just finished praying that God would bless us in some very special way. I said, “Well, listen to this!”

God listens when we pray.
He delights in giving us even more than we asked for.
He’s a Father Who really loves His children! 

Don’t accept ‘No’ too quickly . . .

Through an amazing mix of circumstances, from autumn 1971 to the spring of 1972, I was enrolled at Bodenseehof—one of 26 Torchbearer centers with a commitment to providing young people with foundational teaching and practical training to live the authentic Christian life.

Torchbearers International

Bodenseehof is an English-speaking school situated in Fischbach, Germany—Fischbach being a small village on the Bodensee. Bodensee is a lake situated where Germany, Switzerland, and Austria meet. I was one of 50 students from countries including Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Switzerland, and the USA.

During the Christmas season, students would be required to pack all their belongings to be stored in a local barn and vacate the premises for three weeks to allow the school facility to host Christian conferences. A family receiving financial support from my home church was serving in Athens, Greece, with Greater Europe Mission. They graciously invited me along with a schoolmate named Christine to come stay with them for the entire three weeks.

Continue reading “Don’t accept ‘No’ too quickly . . .”