joy

Goodnight Sweet Gypsy

The past couple of weeks have been filled with highs and lows. There is the obvious high of Christmas and all that it means and brings. There was also the high of learning that I am going to be a grandfather again this summer; that was a pretty big high I have to say! There was the high of my anniversary; 27 years together with my wife on January 3. I’m certain there were other good things, highs, which are not coming to mind at the moment. Looking at that list one would think I’ve had a great couple of weeks – but that list isn’t complete. The mixed bag of lows have to be added in still.

Since my daughter was out of town until Saturday, Sunday was our anniversary, and Monday was the “official” announcement of our daughter’s first pregnancy, I felt it wasn’t appropriate to share the rest of the story until now.

Gypsy

My Sweet Gypsy

Around the beginning of December I noticed while grooming her that our oldest dog, Gypsy, had lost a lot of weight; she had dropped several pounds I could tell though I hadn’t weighed her to see the amount. Getting up in years, I figured that maybe she was having trouble with the hard-kibble she had been eating all her life so we got some canned food to supplement her diet. I hoped this would let her pick up some weight and fill back out. She did enjoy the new food, and the fact that she got it all to herself; we didn’t want to get the other two dogs spoiled onto canned food.

A week or so before Christmas Eve, Gypsy began to act “oddly” and started having trouble keeping her food down. She had a partially collapsed trachea that we had been nursing/treating for a few years that I figured was the problem. I started to feed her two smaller meals a day which seemed to help. Then on the 23rd she lost a tooth, not surprising for a dog that was almost 16 years old. But the wound wouldn’t clot to stop bleeding and her lip became inflamed, puffed out like an acorn was in her mouth almost overnight. With Christmas falling on a Friday there was nothing much we could do except wait until Monday for the veterinarian to be back in his office.

By Sunday (12/27/15) the knot had more than doubled in size and the bleeding was almost constant; she wiped persistently at her face with her paw so I knew it was irritating at the best – and probably worse. I’d seen this rapid lump growth on her before several years ago; a cancerous tumor came up on her left, rear foot that required surgery and months of high dose steroids to cure, causing her to swell to almost double her normal weight. It was pitiful to see this agile, fleet-footed dog become unable to climb up on the couch, let alone run, jump or play. I can’t tell you how relieved we were when the treatments were over and she began to go back to old self again. We decided never to put her through that again if the cancer ever came back.

Of course I didn’t want to think, let alone say, it could be another tumor; if I did it would make it a real possibility. So I rationalized it could be an infection from the tooth she had lost; I was very adamant that this was possible, both in my mind and outspokenly. Though no matter the cause I had to take her to the vet on Monday.

Monday morning as I was about to dial the vet’s office my wife stopped me; she said that we ought to give it another day to see how she was and if the pain pills she had been taking (left over from another incident) were helping. I was relieved and yet not either; I knew this was delaying the inevitable, really. I called the vet and made an appointment for Tuesday, explaining the situation; 10-30 am we were to be there. Why so early? I thought! As the day went on I realized a few things: the medicine was helping (but not a lot), the bleeding wasn’t stopping, she wasn’t eating, and this wasn’t an infection. So I spent the day just loving, petting and talking to her, preparing for Tuesday and for goodbye, really.

The news wasn’t good; the cancer had come back and was very aggressive this time. Who would’ve thought: All this time I’d been checking her foot and leg and it comes back in her jaw?!? There were options, horrible ones, which I didn’t consider for a moment, things I won’t write about and don’t want to think of. It was time for her to leave us, not for her to suffer any more. At just before 11:00 am December 29, 2015, after being my constant companion for over 15 years, Gypsy left us, resting comfortably in my arms as she had thousands of times over the years. She now rests in the backyard beside her old friend Morkie, who left us in 2010, in a coffin my son made for her; he decided she needed something special to be buried in.

Gypsy was a very special part of our family. She was my comfort and company through many pain filled, sleepless nights. She saw me through a major surgery and I her through two. A more perfect, loving, sweet pet I cannot imagine ever existing. From the ragged looking rescue pup we adopted (I remember my wife saying, “Didn’t they have an uglier one than her?” when she first laid eyes on her LOL) to the beautiful, graceful dog she grew into, she meant something more to me and my family than I can fully express in mere words. There are so many wonderful, fun memories she gave us and for that we are so grateful. But more so, we are grateful to have been her family and received her faithful love.

IMG_9708

After a play-session this fall

I’m thankful we took that extra day, Monday, to have spent it with her. No, it wasn’t easier nor did it hurt less Tuesday; it doesn’t hurt less a week later as I write this for that matter. But it was comforting to a degree to have that time to say goodbye to my sweet Gypsy.

Napping

Napping

Shouts of Joy: a #haiku

Even though I’ve been up-to-my-eyeballs with “stuff” of late and not real inspired to write much, I always look forward to Ronovan’s weekly challenge. This week is no exception.  

As I shuffled through my emails this evening after bedtime-story time for my grandson (and there’s a lot of them yet unchecked) I found this week’s words: call and cheer. Of course these prompt words spoke to me; knowing exactly the direction I would go, it only took me a few minutes to decide on their order and exact placement before I had my haiku. 

I hear cheers of joy
when Jesus calls His own home
many will not hear

While the cheers of joy and the thought of that call home are wonderful to me, they also make me shudder; I know from Christ’s own words there will be many shouts and cry of sorrows and grief, not all will be joyous.  

““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:21-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I know many will pass by a fair number of my posts; people don’t want to hear about my faith and beliefs if it doesn’t coincide with their lifestyle choices. 

  It is my hope and prayer that perhaps one will read and consider the words and thoughts I convey. The Bible says that each of us must be persuaded in our own minds about what Scripture says (Romans 14:5); it’s the job of the Holy Spirit to convict, not mine. I am not saying you have to think/believe exactly as I do but you do have to make a choice on the matter. Choosing to wait/ignore are a decision: that’s choosing not to believe. 

Contentment – a #BeWoW post

It seems like there are more unhappy, dissatisfied people in the country, maybe the world, than ever before. So many of us live our lives like a race, going full on, to get the next “thing” that will give us happiness, joy, peace, or contentment. And shortly after obtaining that coveted “thing” we realize the pleasure we received was only for a short season, feel empty again, and the cycle starts over – endlessly it seems.

I will be honest and tell you I ran that race for years; I occasionally find myself slipping back toward that mindset, too, and have to pull away as soon as I recognize it. The new item for my collection, the new tech-gadget, what ever “it” is for me soon looses its “shininess” and becomes just another “thing”. If we are all honest I bet we have all been there. And I’ll bet lots of us are still running that race. But you can break free from it if you choose to.

I read a quote from Charles H. Spurgeon yesterday that made me think about this and I want to share it with you:

Contentment with your lot, and confidence in God–will make life peaceful and happy! A dinner of herbs with contentment, will yield a flavor of satisfaction unknown to those who eat the fattened ox. It is better to be happy than to be rich–happiness lies in the heart, rather than in the purse! 

Happiness lies within us, not within what we can get, pretty radical thinking for the generation we live in today I think. But I find it is 100% true. The joy, happiness, and contentment I get from my relationships with my family, friends (both in-person and online), and God bring me all I really need to be content with my life. That’s not to say one ought not try to better oneself when they are able; no, I’m hardly inferring that. But when you l learn to be comfortable with who you are, where you are, you will begin to experience real contentment. As the Apostle Paul wrote:

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need–and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want!” Philippians 4:11-12


#BeWoW Logo

#BeWoW Logo

A Taxing Day

As I write this I am merely hours from the monumental task of completing my income taxes. And even less time from having them accepted and officially completed! I knew we would owe so I wasn’t in a hurry to file early, just starting really yesterday. But I didn’t realize how much I had to do; I’d been really lax in my preparation this year and I paid for it in stress the last 48 hours. 

I took one short break this afternoon from my drudgery to check my email and look at comments left on the blog. This break turned out to be the saving grace of the day for me. 

I had “likes” and comments from newly made friends that greatly lifted my spirits. Since I’ve started writing again, the last few weeks, I feel like I’ve made several new friends through reading and interacting with other writers. I feel like a part of a new little community, one that shares, helps, and encourages each other. Being brand new to it I probably feel closer to and more a part of it than I really am – but that’s good; it shows what kind folks these people are I’m getting to know. And I really look forward to getting to know them better, knowing more of them, and learning from and being further inspired by them all. 

I’m still amazed at how quickly you, or at least I, can feel like you’ve made a new friend via the World Wide Web, someone you’ve never met and may never meet. And it gives me such joy to see the kindness of folks from all walks of life, all over the globe who are really still strangers to me be so helpful and encouraging. My hat is off to you guys and gals: You made a “taxing” day into a real joy for me today. 

Joyful: a #BeWoW Post

The #BeWoW post series is one I’ve been meaning to take part in for weeks and today I’m finally getting to it. The idea is to post something positive or inspiring and stands for Be Wonderful on Wednesday; this series was started by Ronovan Writes and you can find more on the #BeWoW challenge here.

Since our kids are adults now we celebrate Easter a little differently than we have in the past. Every other year we have our grandson on Easter and on those years we do the Easter Bunny and basket, hide eggs, and all that jazz for him; we also have a big, home-cooked meal when he is here – ham – to pass on our family tradition, like we did with our children when they were young. The years we don’t have him with us we skip all of the “activities” and have dinner out someplace. No matter the year though there is one constant: We celebrate our Lord’s resurrection in church.

This year was a “without-year” but we had something special planned: a long time friend and co-worker of my wife was being baptized and we were invited to the baptism. We were filled with joy for her to take this commitment and to have invited us to be a part of it. She attends a church that we had never been to so there was another “new” thing to look forward to as well. It is a funny thing but I find when I am in the Lord’s house, among His people, I always feel at home, even if I’ve never been in that particular building before.

The baptism turned out to be a two-for-one event; not only was our friend being baptized but a baby was also being dedicated (some would call it infant baptism). The joy of being a part of these events was truly abundant! Add in the wonderful celebration of Resurrection Day and I was sure my “joy-tank” was full …. but it was to be topped off a bit more I would soon find out!

At the end of the service the choir sang a beautiful rendition of The Hallelujah Chorus. As they were singing I observed a petite, elderly lady in the choir: she was a cute little lady, adorned in what I figure might have been a new Easter dress, in the middle-left on the top row, probably in the 70-year old range. But what I noticed, what topped off, if you will, my “joy-tank” was her attitude: She was clutching her hymnal to her body, eyes closed, and singing with everything in her, praising the Lord, her small frame almost dancing as she sang. Getting to be a part of all I had experienced that day was wonderful but seeing this senior Sister overflowing with joy as she worshiped, well, it made this younger Brother of her’s day complete.

God is good, all the time.

Tidings of Joy

As I type this I am relaxing with a cup of coffee, with “Santa’s workshop” officially closed, awaiting time to open the Christmas kitchen, enjoying the last hours of peace before the holiday chaos (which I mostly enjoy) ensues. It occurred to me that in my hustle of the season and enduring a sinus infection over the last week I forgot to mention my results to my recent blood work.

If you have read much of this blog you know that my A1C was off the charts in August when I found out I’m a T2 diabetic: over 14. I’ve made some significant changes in my lifestyle to get this disease under control and was looking forward to seeing what three months of those changes would bring to my BG, triglycerides, cholesterol, and other numbers. It was odd to be looking so forward to a doctor appointment!

The reports showed that my efforts had paid off; my A1C is now 5.2, well in the normal, non-diabetic range! This doesn’t mean I’m not a diabetic anymore: I am and always will be unless a cure is found. It does mean that I’ve made substantial strides towards mater the disease rather than being a slave to it, as I like to say. My other numbers were, in my PCP’s words “excellent”, though I don’t recall what they were; I was too happy with the A1C to even listen to the other numbers.

I feel much better, too, overall. I am closer to being “me” than I have been in over a year. I am moving and doing more than I have in a long time and enjoying life and my family and friends and hobbies more than I have in ages. And I have no reason to think it will do anything but get better with time.

I am truly abundantly blessed, this year and always, really. My health is improving, I’m happier, I have my family, and I have my Savior, Jesus, whose birth we celebrate today. It is with the sincerest heart I can say that I am writing this today with tiding of joy.

Merry Christmas, my friends, and may God richly bless your holiday season.