Friday, June 30, 2006

Can God Use a Dog?

Sometimes it's hard to know what to pray for.

I have to admit that I was really hoping to get a puppy this summer. It seemed to me an ideal summer to be involved in training a puppy, because other than 2 trips up home to Michigan, I didn't have any other plans to be gone, so I could be home with a dog and get it ready for when I'd be gone more in the school year. Besides, Sarah is coming this fall so there will be another person around to let her out.

Well, you all know that I DID get a puppy, but it was a tough decision. I've considered getting a puppy/dog before, but I've talked myself out of it because I haven't been home enough during the school year--and, besides, pets cost money! But this time around I really thought I could do arrange my schedule to do it. And it seems like there's always enough money for what you really want to spend it on. Besides, how fun is having a DOG!?

So I started looking online at the Humane Society and reading the classifieds every once in a while during the last couple months of the school year. I thought it would only be fair to a dog (especially a puppy) if I got her (I was only considering a female) at the BEGINNING of the summer so I could spend as much time with her as possible before my school schedule starts in August. When school got out I thought maybe I'd just take one trip to the Humane Society and find that perfect little dog or puppy, and BOOM! But it was hard to know what I was looking for. I borrowed books from the library on breeds, but I know I've always loved mutts. I thought I'd need a smaller breed because, frankly, they cost less because they eat less--plus they're easier to take with you places. However, I did NOT want a tiny dog like a chihuahua. I wanted a dog you could go out and take for a walk every night when you get home; it seems to be a great exercise program! Sure, pets cause more wear on the house, but what's a house for if not to really LIVE in it? (Besides, this will give me a good incentive to clean and vacuum more!)

So I was hoping to just see that one puppy (and I was really looking for a puppy) that would just scream, "Ooh! It's ME! Pick me! Take me home!" But I went twice to the Humane Society before leaving for Michigan and didn't find anything other than beagles or really BIG dogs or a 10-month old white Jack Russell terrier, which I wasn't all that crazy about. I started reading the Classifieds EVERY day in the "Absolutely Free" section. Oh yes, that was my other stipulation: I was NOT going to pay big bucks for a dog. So I spent a week in Michigan, thinking, "It's almost too late to get a puppy now." But I was going home for about 5 weeks then so thought, "If I can find a puppy THIS week, it might work!"

Monday I spent getting ready for our VBS and playing with my new laptop, so I didn't really get to reading the classifieds. Tuesday morning, however, reading through the "Absolutely Free" section, one caught my eye: free medium mixed breed dogs. So I made a phone call. I asked what size the pups might be: "well, shepherd, lab, chow, retriever mix--something like that." That didn't sound medium-sized to me, that sounded pretty big, but I thought the only way to really find out was to take a look at them. So I asked if I could stop by--he gave me directions to a farm north of town and he had 3 girls and 2 boys left out of a litter of 9. They were 8-9 weeks old. And, of course, they were really cute, but I was concerned they might not be healthy as they had not had any shots or anything yet--besides, they looked to be kind of on the pudgy side, and I was wondering if there was something wrong with them. But the mom wasn't THAT big--she was probably about border collie size and looked to be like a short-haired border collie. All the pups looked different--the 2 boys looked like they had Rottweiler markings! But they looked like they would be medium-large sized dogs. BUT there were girls, AND they were FREE. AND I could basically take one home RIGHT NOW. So now I was in a dilemma. I told the man if I was really interested I would call him back, otherwise don't hold one for me. And then I went to the Humane Society--nothing that really stood out to me there still. Besides, they seem to take a long time getting through paperwork until you finally get to take the puppies home. So I went to the library and checked out a few books on puppies. In looking through some information, I discovered that worms can cause puppies to have bloated stomachs. Aha--roundworms, that's pretty common in puppies, nothing to really be worried about there. Otherwise, everything else in those farm puppies seemed to line up when looking for a healthy puppy.

So I made phone calls to all of my advisors--my siblings! Sarah voted yes, because she wanted a larger dog anyway (one she could take jogging with her). Rachel advised me to figure out what I really wanted, as did Tim (well, actually, he said no). Therein was the dilemma. Did I really want a larger dog? So I did a lot of "heart-searching." What was I really looking for in a dog? Obviously, I DID decide to go with the larger dog. Honestly, they are my personal favorites, but I just didn't think I could afford one or have a yard big enough for one. BUT if I exercised her well she could be fine. And bigger dogs don't eat THAT much more food, do they? And I really don't like small, yippy dogs. A bigger dog would be a good watchdog and a lot more fun to take for long walks. A smaller dog could travel with you better, though. And the more I talked to my "advisors," the more I realized I hadn't looked at the puppies long enough to really remember them too well. I decided I needed one more look at them, so the next morning I called the "dog guy" back and asked if he still had the females. (I figured if they were still available by the next day that was a "sign.") :) He only had 2 females left now, so my choices were being more limited, so I booked it out there. The one I had wanted to check out more was gone now, but the first one that had caught my eye was still there. She was the one who had come up to me first thing and let me rub her belly, while all the other puppies eventually took off or never came up to me at all. At first I was concerned she might be too aggressive, but figured out she wasn't like that at all. She was actually the "runt" of the litter and I think was just more used to having to push a little bit to get some attention. So I said I'd take her. (The other female was brindle-colored and more aloof--more like a chow.)

So that's the LONG version of how I ended up with my puppy. I spent Wednesday night making my first trip to PetSmart (and also hitting Wal-Mart and Meijer) to buy all those needed puppy items. And Thursday I made one more trip out to the farm to bring her home!

But, anyway, where I was going with this, was that during this selection process I wasn't sure whether to pray about this decision or not. I thought, does God really care if I get a puppy or not?? How in the world should I pray about this decision? I guess I could have prayed for wisdom. And I know God cares about good stewardship of money, but does it really matter if you have a dog or not? Did I want this just because I was being selfish? Are there any spiritual benefits of having a dog? Can God use a dog? I have to admit, that my brother said I should "pray about it," but I really didn't, because I really wondered if God cared about my getting a DOG!

However, in the one week and one day that I have HAD Juju (and I am SO GLAD I got her, by the way), I have already seen how God has used this dog in my life. I tend to "hide out" in my home and it does not come naturally to me to reach out to others. But in the last week, from having a puppy, I have met the high school boy "Ben" who lives behind me, the other neighbors behind me and their 2 girls (who I found out go to my church), talked more to my next door neighbor, and met the 3 girls who live across the street! (After living here for 1 year I'm finally meeting the neighbors!) And I find that people (especially kids) love to pet my puppy! So I think God can really use a dog when it comes to meeting people in the community!

So, yes, I do believe God wanted me to get this puppy!

(Hey, congratulations for making it through this LONG post!)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Kirby Guy

Are you ready for a story?

I had an interesting experience Saturday. I was sitting on my living room floor reading the newspaper, minding my own business, when I hear this friendly knock on the door--you know, the knock a friend knocks: tap, tap-a-tap tap (quarter, two-eighths, quarter, quarter for you musical people). I peeked out the window and didn't recognize the lady standing there, but I went ahead and opened the door. She shoved a bottle of dish detergent in my hands, and went on to tell me that I could keep that bottle for free if I just donated a few moments of my time to take this short survey, had I heard of her company (I had not), and how her boss gave out credit to her for each person that participated. I ask, "How long will this take?" "As long as you want it to," she replies. Then she goes out to her van to get her stuff. Before I know it, she is in my living room, introducing me to "Eric" who has hauled in a huge box and is starting to pull various bits and pieces out of it and assemble them. "Have you heard of Kirby?" Ah, then it clicked in my brain--have I actually just agreed to a Kirby vacuum demonstration? Then the girl is leaving: "I have another associate at a different house, Eric here will do a good job and show you about the Kirby." Yay. That's a little awkward.

That was probably about 1:00 in the afternoon. The funny thing was that I had actually vacuumed that morning already! But "Eric" went ahead and vacuumed my living room floor a zillion times, showing me all the things my vacuum cleaner failed to pick up. He asked how old I was because he thought at first I was going to have to get my dad or something! I assured him it was my house. He was actually a pretty nice guy, 24 years old, just getting out of the military (Army--he had been in Iraq and came back in May). Most people were surprised he already owned his own home, too (he lives in the next neighborhood)--but the military pays for a lot of things! We talked about where I worked and such, and how I was still "religious" even though my dad was a pastor. He said that he had never really met any pastor's kids who were doing similar things to their parents; the pastor's kids he had known had been the wild ones! He was from a Catholic background, although he said his mom had been an atheist until he was in Iraq. When he came back he found out that now she believes in God and goes to church all the time (and, incidentally, is a whole lot nicer). He showed me pictures of his 3-year-old daughter Alexandria, and how she was in daycare at some other Christian daycare in the area, so I made sure I told him about the daycare at Faith and about the Community Center and such. I'm not a big fan of high-pressure sales tactics myself, so I didn't force the gospel on him or anything. But I hope that perhaps I was a good testimony, and that he might be receptive to hearing the gospel when he meets someone else.

Anyway, about an hour and a half later I finally ask, "About how much longer will this take?" So then he starts wrapping up. (I was going to refuse the shampooing, too, until he offered to clean my entry rug instead. So, sure, go ahead. I'll take a free rug cleaning.) And then he had to call his boss and see what kind of deal they could strike for me (which of course, they could find none). He was nice about it, he already knew I wasn't going to buy one. (I'm NOT paying $1,900 and some dollars for a high-faluting vacuum cleaner!) So, after borrowing some Windex and paper towels and a garbage bag for all the dirt that he pulled out of my carpet, about 3:00 (2 hours later) he was finally out the door. (And he was pretty honest about knowing that I probably wanted him to get out of my house!) But I wished him well and hoped he sold a lot of vacuum cleaners.

So now I can say that I have had my first experience with Kirby vacuum sales tactics.

The puppy (Juju) was very good the whole time. I held her in the living room for a little while to keep her quiet, but then shut her in the kitchen and she slept the rest of the time. I was afraid she was going to have to go the bathroom and I wasn't going to be able to let her out. But she was good (this time). We're still working on that housebreaking. I'm starting to wonder if I really wanted an un-housebroken puppy...but of course I do!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Juju's New Toy

Here are some pictures of Juju and her new toy! Juju and I went garage saling this morning--Juju's first experience out walking in the neighborhood. Of course, she hasn't gotten the hang of walking on a leash yet, so I carried her on her first walk. That 9 pounds starts to get heavy after a little while, too! She met a lot of new people friends and met a few other dogs: got a little baggie of treats from one lady, had pictures with another couple of ladies (who almost didn't give her back) and a bowl of water, and did explore a couple of garages. After an hour and a half or so she and I were both getting hot (Juju likes her shade and cool places to lie down--like wet grass and damp cement--both of which I had to carry her away from while we were out) so we came home to take a nap--and play with Juju's new toy: a big red stuffed dog.

I got a couple of board games and a basket for Juju's toys and a new book, but my favorite purchase was a 25-cent stuffed animal for Juju. Right now it is bigger than she is, but pretty soon that will change!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Dog Days of Summer

Well, it is now officially summer, and I am in the middle of doggie days!

Juju (as Jubal Lee will now officially be called) had an eventful morning. She had an 8:45 vet appointment at Creekside Animal Hospital and had all sorts of stuff done! She had her first deworming medication (2nd dose to be given by me in 2 weeks), her first shot, her nails clipped, her first doggie treats, and her first weigh-in: 9.1 pounds! She has pretty much slept since then! I hope she is still able to get some sleep tonight!!! She doesn't like being in her kennel yet, and she's pretty vocal about it! But she's gotten better at being gated into the kitchen by herself, so hopefully the kennel will come too. She's not a very good watchdog yet, as she doesn't yet recognize the sound of the doorbell (sleeps right through it) and isn't quite sure where "her" territory is yet. But she does know how to run and hide inside the house when she hears another dog we'll have to work on meeting other barking dogs eventually, I think!

I could try to describe her, but it's better just to meet her. :)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Name That Puppy!

Jubal Lee is the name I had in mind--probably Juju for short (or Juba), but I've had mixed reception to that name. So here's the challenge: come up with a better name for my puppy by the end of the day or it is Jubal!

Yes, I brought my puppy home this morning! She's in the middle of transition from outside to inside dog, and being away from mom and brothers and sisters for the first time, but she's only 9 weeks old, so hopefully she'll learn to adjust fast! She's got her first Vet appointment at 8:45 tomorrow (Friday) morning!

Monday, June 19, 2006

VBS The First

Guess where I'm updating from??!! My new MacBook--which incidentally arrived at my house EARLY while I was on vacation--which was a problem trying to get it delivered...but it worked out and I arrived back in Lafayette yesterday and I have it up and running! :)

I was in Ishpeming, MI last week for Vacation Bible School at my parents' church. What a week! My last post had some of the totals, but we were expecting about 50 kids. We had 43 on Monday, 57 on Tuesday, 67 on Wednesday, 66 on Thursday, and 81 on Friday for water day!! Do you ever feel like you are getting unexpected blessings from God? I felt spiritually unprepared for this week; I had barely--if ever--prayed about, but for some reason God allowed all these children to come. Many were from other churches, but I think we had a few contacts from the trailer park across the street from the church! And we raised over $600 in pennies for the Flinck family to help them get on their way to Chile! We also had a good turnout for the Closing Program on Friday night as well. I pray we were able to be a good testimony to some area families and maybe build some new relationships. As I drove back home Sunday I realized how easy it is to try to be independent of the work of God. I was convicted of how easy it is to think we did some great thing, or else how easy it is to be working so hard at getting ready for these kids that we fail to acknowledge God's work in it all. I pray that the Lord be honored and glorified for the strength to make it through the VBS week.

Now...on to the Second VBS Week--here in Lafayette we're doing "Set Sail! Spread the Good News" during the evenings this week. There are more kids here, but there are also a lot more helpers, so my job is actually easier this week! We'll see how it goes tonight!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In the U.P.

I am updating from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan!

I am helping out with Vacation Bible School at the church my dad pastors in Ishpeming, Michigan this week. We were hoping for about 40 kids each morning, but we've been blessed with 43 kids on Monday and 57 today!! What a great turnout! We also have special guests David and Kristi Flinck with us as our missionaries of the week. I actually went to Northland with David and Kristi (Thompson) for a couple of years (they were 2 years ahead of me), so it's been good to catch up with them. I've enjoyed playing with their kids Jordan (4), Benji (3), and Kaylee (11 months).

It's been a busy week so far as we're at church from about 9:00 a.m. until about 1:00 p.m. (VBS is over at noon) and I've been working on powerpoint presentations and crafts home with me to work on for the next day.

But we had fun going to Lake Michigamme yesterday afternoon for a boat ride and supper. It actually warmed up enough when the sun came out to take our jackets off, too!

And today my sister Sarah and I went to Presque Isle in Marquette and took a nice walk around it--by Lake Superior. And as long as you kept moving the mosquitoes weren't too bad!

Just thought I'd share a few photos of the week so far.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Laptop Wins

This is an update to the post a while back where I debated what to spend my life savings on: getting either a laptop or a piano. On Saturday, I ordered my new 13.3" MacBook from Apple, so I guess the laptop wins this round. However, if I found a piano I liked and could afford, maybe Round 2 could go to the piano. Although a pet could easily win Round 2 at this moment, because it would also be cheaper. (I did call about a $600 piano in the paper the other day but never heard back; I assume I was too late.)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Transforming a Room

A new adventure: painting! I haven't done much painting before, but I'm game to try new things, so here I go! Yesterday (Friday) I painted my guest bedroom red--it's a pretty unforgiveable color for a first paint job, let me tell you! My sister Sarah said she'd come live with me if I painted her room red, ya go! The pictures are before, during, and after. I'm basically done now even though I'm not very happy with my trim job--but it looks good from a distance!

I am planning on painting my living room this summer, too (legend tan), but after this job, with my aching back, I'm not sure I want to. There is a painter in my church with 3 high school sons who may be available to help, though. And if he can come over...maybe he can fix my floorboard trim job in this room too. We'll see. I think I'm a pretty messy painter. But overall I was very pleased with the color (good pick, Sarah!) and the amount of paint I had purchased (used about 2 and a quarter gallons for 2 coats).

Every time I pass that room now I have to look and see where all the bright color is shining from!