A Big Shaggy Dog

It was 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and I was dreaming about an air horn. Or was it a train whistle? No, I think it was a bomb. Suddenly I dreamed the roof was crashing down on me, and I was jarred awake. Someone was trying to beat down the front door!

I willed my brain awake and stumbled across the bedroom for some modest apparel. I walked down the hall and peeked through the window. It was my Amish neighbor. Opening the door, I greeted him in a cheerful I have been up a long time manner.

“Do you have a big, white, long-haired, shaggy dog?” he inquired.

I thought for a moment through the fog. Big—white—dog. Suddenly a light came on. “Ah, yes, it is my brother’s dog. I decided to let him loose the other day, and he did not return.”

“The dog is at our place. He killed our beagle and somehow got tangled in the chain. We tried to get to him, but he growls at us. We cannot get close to him. I don’t know how we are going to get the beagle away and buried.

“We are leaving early to go to a church service a distance away and that is why I am up this early,” he apologized.

“I’ll come over,” I told him. With a satisfied smile he left. I soon followed.

When I got to his house, I stood in line with my neighbor and his children and gazed upon the scene. The big dog was lying beside the limp beagle. We edged closer to the dog. He showed his white teeth and snarled. We stopped the approach. I took a few more steps. He showed me more of his very big teeth. We soon realized that we were on enemy territory. Someone had to come up with a plan.

I never trusted the dog. Every time I went to visit my brother, the dog would try to sneak up on me. My brother would tell me that if I ignored the dog, he would leave me alone. Everything went well until one day we went to visit my brother and did not find the family at home. The dog came creeping around the house, snarling. Edging to the barn, I found a pitchfork. Coming out of the barn with lance in hand, I barreled toward the dog like an arrow out of a bow. The dog stood his ground. I ran straight toward him. He braced himself, showing me that he had teeth. I kept going. At the last minute, the dog turned and ran for the house. I followed like a race horse bent on his first win. The dog kicked it in high gear. High gear did not work for me. I lost him. That dog had it in for me from that time on. It really was a foolish thing to do, since I am not sure what I would have done if I would have caught up to him.

When my brother moved out of state, he asked me to care for the dog until he could pick him up. The dog and I had a mutual mistrust of each other. I fed him and got out of his way. It took a lot of nerve to finally edge my way to his collar to let him loose. When the dog was free from his chain, he sniffed a couple bushes and took off for the woods. That was the last I saw of him, until now, when he was lying beside a dead beagle, snarling at me.

“We have to get the beagle away and buried. I don’t know how to get the dog away unless we shoot him,” my neighbor intoned. I did not want him to shoot my brother’s dog. I don’t like guns, and I don’t like dead things. I had received orders to attend to the dog, which meant feed and shelter him, not kill him. But what else could we do.
I finally consented to the evil deed. My neighbor’s son ran to the house for his big gun. As I watched him go, I thought I detected a little too much eagerness to get that gun.

When Eager came back he held the gun on the dog while Eager Junior held a huge spotlight on the target. I did not think I wanted to watch this. I also did not want to tell my brother that we had exterminated his dog. I looked away. The gun roared, and I had to look. The dog was kicking in the dust. When we were assured that the dog was dead, we walked up to pull him away from the beagle.

We were almost to the dog, when suddenly the beagle lifted his head and looked at us! He took one glance at the dead dog and then rose to meet us. In shock, I gazed at my brother’s graveyard-dead dog for a long time. I tore my gaze away and looked at my neighbor’s living dog. He looked much better than my brother’s dead dog even if we had not been the best of friends.

I wondered which one I would look like once I told my brother that we had exterminated his dog!

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Quiet Times

I like to take frequent trips to places where cell phones, email, and meetings are not allowed. The distance I go is determined by how willing I am to give up the chatter of communication. When I can stop what I am doing without fear of getting run over, being yelled at, or getting behind, and hear nothing but the wind whispering secrets to the trees, the birds singing cheerily, and the squirrels barking, I know I am almost there. Only when I have turned off all communication devices have I arrived. Only when I have arrived can I hear what the wind is saying to the trees, what songs the birds are singing, and what the squirrels are barking about.

Once all manmade things are silent, and I can distinctly hear the whispering wind, the warbling birds, and the barking squirrels, then can I immerse myself into the real world designed by God. This is the world that makes sense of life, that heals stress and mends relationships. This is the retreat where everything is placed in perspective. Outside of this place, much is found wanting.

“Lord, let me take more trips to a world without cell phones, email, and meetings. Just a meeting between you and me.”

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Something To Fawn Over

Life normally consist of small things. Like links in a chain, they keep life moving, separating events. Though small, they are meaningful. Think great barbecued pork chops, a special birthday party, great fellowship, an inspirational song. We delight in those things, but then along comes another great barbecue, another birthday, another wonderful time of fellowship, and an inspirational song. Once in a while little things come along that cannot be easily duplicated, like meeting a whitetail doe with her small fawn! Meeting those two was a great encounter, but her pausing until I could get a good photo was phenomenal. That was a big deal; something to fawn over!

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The Future

The evenings are warm now. I delight to go outside in the evening and revel in summer’s pleasantries. There is something about being outside in the warmth of the night that makes life seem to run right. Gazing at the moon through the trees holds a kind of mystery. As I watch the moon roll off the tree limbs I remember when, as a young boy, I would gaze out the window on a moonlit night and dream of the future. It is now the future and I dream about the past. I didn’t have much wisdom back then, but one thing I thought I knew for certain was that it was better to be older. The only thing that I know now for certain is that my future is bright. It is bright because God holds my future in His hands, and the moon is still at the same place it always has been.P1290970

The Truck, the Tree, and the Trooper

Sometimes breaks end up needing breaks. Maybe brakes as well! You see, the world made more sense whenever I drove my beautifully rusted and scratched 1987 Chevy pickup truck. I was driving home thinking nice thoughts about supper, my family, and the world we lived in. It never occurred to me to have negative thoughts about anything. But, that was before I met the tree.

The tree was taking a walk in the middle of the road. Trees are not supposed to do that. Trees are supposed to stay off the road. When I saw the tree I knew that I was going to hit it. I slammed the brakes. I must confess that only the front brakes worked—kind of. Then, with white knuckles, I gripped the steering wheel. I tried to ease to the side as much as possible and closed my eyes. I waited. But I did not have to wait too long. The crash was deafening as the tree matched perfectly with the windshield. That was the fastest I stopped since the back brakes gave out back in the late nineties.

Suddenly I realized how quiet it was. I slowly opened my eyes and saw I was wearing the windshield. I put it in reverse, eased the gas pedal down, and slowly backed away from the tree.

Another motorist came from the other direction and stopped. He called the state highway patrol. Then we waited. They did not show up for a long time, and since I was almost to the house I decided to carefully drive home.

After I got home the state trooper stopped outside the house. I went out and told him that I was the person who had an affair with a tree. He went down to the bottom of the hill to look at the scene of my troubles and then came back.

He shone his big flashlight at the truck and exclaimed, “You really did hit it, didn’t you!”

“Yep, sure did!” I exclaimed proudly.

“I have to give you a ticket,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone. The trooper wanted to cite me for hitting the tree! I disagreed with him and was not bashful in telling him. He acted like I was hunting trees out of tree hunting season. I do not hunt; especially not trees. But what do you do when the tree steps right out into the middle of the road?

“Do you mean to tell me,” I asked the trooper, “that if a tree falls out of the sky and you hit it, you get cited?”

“Did the tree hit you or did you hit the tree?” he asked. “You may not hit anything in front of you,” he intoned.

“Well sir, if I would have only known, I would have turned around and backed into it.”

I soon saw I needed to do a little more explaining, and I knew he really wanted to know. “All I know is that I was driving merrily down the road thinking happy thoughts when suddenly this tree is standing in the middle of the road. I slammed the brakes, held on to the steering wheel for dear life, and closed my eyes.” That was the exact truth. I looked at the trooper who was thinking deep thoughts.

How could I explain to the trooper the pain I felt to see my pickup truck get so bruised. It was a great pickup. Sure, the back brakes, the right rear turning signal, and the left front turning signal did not work. But that was minor. The lights were bright enough to drive during the day, or at night if you did not go over 30 miles per hour. The power steering fluid only slowly leaked out. I only had to add fluid every few days. The springs and the frame were only broken some. The bed might have jumped up and down a little but it had never fallen off. The truck did not shake too badly unless you drove over or under 50 miles per hour. There were other minor things wrong with it–but it was my truck. And, I loved my truck. It fit like an old, worn pair of trousers. I was against trees that took walks on roads. It was not good for trucks, or the men who drove them.

How was I to know that the tree would choose to blow across the road? I am not God. I do not know these things. Now, this trooper wanted to give me a ticket for hitting the tree. That excited me a little. After I explained the event as effectively as my imagination allowed, the trooper looked at me (I was hoping he liked what he saw).

Finally he spoke, “Okay, I am not going to cite you.” (He liked what he saw.)

But my poor pickup! It got all bruised up. It was simply humiliating. Even though I forgave the tree for bruising my truck and making me wear a new coat of glass, I was still emotionally stricken. I did get even with the tree. It was cut into little pieces.

Medical Savings Plan

It was one of those mornings that make you want to swing.

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Or maybe just drive through some freshly cut hay.

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The birds were having their breakfast. Hey, anyone for a squishy worm?

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Bet you can’t guess what direction the grass is the best!

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Flow winding stream, flow.

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Little streams make me feel alive and relaxed. Sitting on that bank with pretzels, cold ice water, and a good book could potentially save thousands of dollars in medical bills!

Try it. Tell your employer that you won’t be in tomorrow. Mm, what reason could you give him? Tell him that you have to get your medicine. Don’t tell him you are going via the scenic route.

Oh, and don’t forget the blanket!