Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Pet Rescue

Charlie is a rescue. That is, we adopted him from the local animal shelter in Greensburg. Someone called the local dog catcher because this little blonde mutt was scavenging in the trash.

Charlie was not neutered. He did not have a micro-chip tracking device. He had no collar or tags. The shelter vet estimated him to be about two years old.

How on earth did this gorgeous dog get to be two years old without someone caring for him? No one wanted this adorable friendly little pup? Really?

I know there are many who are flabbergasted by this, but everyday people lose their pets. Some pets run away, some are left behind, and some pets are even dumped in the hopes that someone else will care for them. Why do people do this?

There are thousands of reasons why a person can no longer keep a pet. In some cases the care of a pet becomes too much for them. High maintenance pets through illness or bad behavior can complicate life in ways we weren’t expecting. Sometimes, though, its our own selfishness that gets in the way.

What I find most interesting, though, is that folks get really upset when they hear about this happening to animals, but don’t we sometimes do this to people?

Are there people in your life that you have thrown away? Ones that you can’t seem to get along with? What of the people we don’t know that we throw away: the poor, the elderly, the sick? Do we ignore those who are struggling in our midst?

I know that it is difficult to see these things. The norms of our society are that a person should help himself; that people should work and earn their portion. What if a person can’t earn their portion, though, because of illness, physical or mental? What if they haven’t been taught how to fend for themselves? What if, like Charlie, they learned the wrong way to make ends meet?

We make lots of excuses for why we don’t have to be generous and loving, but that isn’t how Jesus teaches us to be. What are we doing in church every week if we never take any part of the Gospel out of the building with us?

Living as a disciple of Jesus doesn’t mean you have to be some kind of cheesy “church-lady” fake-out. It means that you look outside yourself, and as that one president said, ask what you can do for others. It means that you are thankful for what you have instead of constantly seeking more. It also means that some-times you have to bury the hatchet and love someone in spite of the fact that they have wronged you. It means you give second chances.

Jesus shows us all of this time and again if we would just listen to the Gospels. He reached out to those in need, he did not turn them away. He healed them and fed them. He literally showed us how to love and evangelize.

I don’t know about you, but the person that drives me most nuts is the hypocrite. You know, the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do type. That’s the opposite of who Christ was. He did all of the things he told us to do. That’s why he could even give his life for us. He did it to show us the love of God.

That’s the Good News. We can be excited to share it with others because God loves us all that much. Not the lim-ited way we love each other but with fullness and abundance.

Instead of throwing each other away because we feel re-jected and un-loved, perhaps we could give ourselves one more chance. Maybe we could all benefit by letting a stray into our lives. That stray might even be ourselves.

Charlie was a stray be-cause someone threw him away, but because of that I have been blessed with the most wonderful dog. Right, Charlie?

-Christy Cabaniss

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


One thing Baxter can do well is relax. He has mastered the art of doing nothing and accomplishing it in the most unusual positions. He has no guilt over spending hours prone, stretched out in the sunshine, licking his chops. He hates to be disturbed at times like these. He is content with letting life pass him by while he absorbs the surroundings their warmth, their quiet, and their soft comfort on a chair, rug or bed.

Nothing is more importantthan the present moment when Baxter is in his “down time”, and even a call for treats or a game of fetch won’t tempt him to give up his relaxation. Baxter knows how to let go of his worries and enjoy the freedom of doing nothing. He is a master at it.

We all need to learn this lesson. Sometimes we get trapped into thinking we are indispensable, that unless we do it, it won’t get done, that no one is good enough or conscientious enough to take our place. We get trapped into taking care of everything around us, and once one job is completed, we are looking for another to fill our time. We don’t know how to relax, and so we miss so much of what life has to offer.

Sunrises and sunsets, wild flowers blooming, a child’s smile or peaceful sleep, a simple “thank you” or the sound of rain on the roof, these are free gifts, if we take the time to notice them. Prayer happens best when we don’t work at it. Just place ourselves in God’s presence and let God do the work. The closeness, the peace, the quiet intimacy with the holy come to us most often when we are relaxed with God. Trying too hard or with too much intensity about getting it all said and done might complete our prayers, but we miss the point of praying—enjoying and appreciating the love God shows us in just being with us.

Jesus went off on His own to pray and relax. He called our attention to the lilies of the field and the birds of the air that neither worry nor toil but know God’s care. He walked, He didn’t run, on His ministry journeys from town to town. He took time to talk to people, especially the least prominent— beggars, Samaritans, children.

While there was an urgency to His mission, He never seemed to be in a hurry when dealing with a particular situation. He has time for people, and this helps them understand God’s ways in their lives. Jesus shows that we can’t rush into the Kingdom of God. We get there slowly, changing one piece of our hearts at a time, waiting for God to show us how, and soaking in His love and grace slowly, carefully, gradually, over a lifetime. Baxter knows how to relax. I guess that’s why he’s going on vacation this summer after this Sunday’s bulletin. He’ll be back in the fall with more antics. In the meantime, follow his example and relax, stop worrying, take time off, and….pray.