July 18, 2010

We Can Learn from Our Pets

In her internet article, Animals Teach Us Spirituality, Dr. Mary Lou Randour suggests “ . . . animals can teach us about love: how to love, how to enjoy being loved, how loving itself is an activity which generates more love . . .”

Many years ago, I learned a similar concept summarized in the phrase, “God gave us dogs to teach us how to love each other.” Based on our experience with Strumpa, Frisky, Deacon, Bo and Cody, Nancy and I believe that is a wise observation.

Recognizing how our dogs interact with us will help us to be better partners in any relationship. For example, our dogs love to show their affection for us. Our dogs constantly show their love for us and tenaciously seek demonstrations of our love for them. Couples in a relationship may say, “I love you.” a dozen times a day, but demonstrations of love always speak louder than words.

Our dogs are forgiving creatures. If you accidentally hurt your pet, just tell him you’re sorry, and he’ll wag his tail and all is forgiven. In any relationship, there will be times when one partner will disappoint the other, and seeking forgiveness and forgiving are absolutely essential in a long and happy relationship.

Our dogs want to be with us. If we leave them alone for any length of time, when we return, they are quick to let us know how much they missed us. They are happy to see us, and they show it. On her high school photo that Nancy gave to me in our senior year, Nancy wrote, “I’m always happiest when I am with you.” We still feel that way about each other after sixty-two years in love. We are still happiest when we are together.

Dogs have other characteristics like commitment and faithfulness to be admired and emulated in any human relationship. So forget about reading any of the half million books on relationships available at Amazon.com. Just get a dog, or even two, and observe how they treat each other and you.

God made us in His image. Then he created dogs to teach us how to love each other.

July 2, 2010

Looking Back

It was late November in 1950, and the 5th and 7th regiments of the 1st Marine Division were fighting both the People’s Army of North Korea and temperatures reaching 30 degrees below zero. When they approached North Korea’s border with China at the Chosin Reservoir, three Chinese Communist divisions attacked and overwhelmed the regiments. General Mac Arthur, Commander and Chief of the UN Forces, had no alternative. He ordered the Marines to withdraw. Marine General, O.P. Smith insisted it wasn’t a retreat. “It was an attack in another direction.”

During the withdrawal, an unknown Marine riding in a truck carrying men given up for dead, happened to look back through the rear window, and he saw someone move. It was a young Marine from Penn Yan, NY, and because someone realized he was alive, Jack Albertson survived the war, returned home and eventually married Millie, his childhood sweetheart.

Jack and Millie raised four daughters and a son, Scott , who married our daughter, Tammy, in 1981. Last month, Scott and Tammy’s daughter, Lindsey, married Alex Bailey, and Jack and Millie were there to celebrate. When they look back on their lives together, the wedding is just one af many blessings for which they can give thanks to their Lord and a Marine whose name they will never know.

I think it’s true that when most of us look back on our lives, we tend to dwell on the negative events we would like to change. We think to ourselves, “If only I had known,” or “if only I had done something different.” Today, I invite you to look back and recall all the blessings that have filled your life. When you do, I suspect you will find that the Lord has been gracious and good to you as he was to Jack and Millie. May the Lord continue to bless you and keep you.