FB conversion pixel

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Sneak Peak at Volume 2 - Spring and Summer - Seasons of Divorce

(Reposting this blog from yesterday... caught some errors in it and wanted to put out a corrected version...)

On it's way....

Richard has finished the second volume of Finding God in the Seasons of Divorce: Spring and Summer is in  preparation for the publisher!!   To give you a sneak peek we are posting Day 43 from the book.  

Like the first volume - volume 2 has six months worth of daily devotionals and is intended to walk with you on your journey through the divorce process.  

Day 43    1  Samuel 20:25-32; Genesis 4:3-11; and  James 1:19-20
  Rage.  Hatred.  Resentment.  Revenge.  Fury.  Wrath.  Bitterness.  Detest.  Rampage.  Shame.  Raving.  Temper.  Grudges.  Jealousy.  Malice.  Outrage.  Disgust.  Pretty intense words, huh?  Emotions that are pretty consuming, too.  Do you recognize any of those words?  Do you remember feeling that way in recent months?  Maybe you don’t have to go back months…..maybe this morning, or a few minutes ago.  I suspect a high percentage of us who have experienced divorce have faced most of these emotions at some point in the process.  Especially if there are particularly difficult circumstances to deal with, such as having been abused (or children who were abused), an ex who was viciously vindictive in the divorce, if you are the victim of an adulterer, if you were left financially devastated or abandoned at an extremely awkward time such as when expecting a baby.  I bet these don’t even scratch the surface.
  I want to offer a few thoughts to you in regard to these emotions.  It isn’t surprising that you may have felt any or all of these at some point in your divorce.  I know…I felt many of them, myself.  Because divorce literally shatters so much of our lives, and hits us at the core in a very extreme way.  It makes sense that extreme emotions would arise under those conditions.  What doesn’t make sense is to let those emotions begin to take over your soul, or to continue to nurture them and end up trapped in their nasty clutches.  Today’s scriptures include the story of two men whose lives went into ruin because they did just that, they allowed these powerful emotions to take control of their hearts and their choices as they expressed them in impulsive and damaging action against others.  Cain was so jealous of Abel, and so ashamed that his rage took over and he killed his brother, ending up cursed and rejected because of it.  Saul’s jealousy and rage against David took over and the story of God’s first chosen king in Israel turned from victory into tragedy as his life spiraled further and further downward into depression and eventually death.  Unfortunately, there is not an easy way out of these things.
  Now that you are in the springtime of your divorce, these emotions may be subsiding, less frequent and starting to heal over.  If not, then you may want to do some serious soul searching.  Is where those emotions lead really the place you wish to go?  If you allow their destructive nature to spit venom into your words and deeds, will that be the kind of example you wish to set for your children and friends?  James warns us that our anger is not the kind of anger God has; it is about us, not about justice.  Usually anger masks a deeper emotion, like being hurt, or feeling helpless and betrayed, or even being embarrassed and ashamed.  There is a way out with God’s help and learning to forgive.  It may require you to spend some time with your pastor or a professional counselor.  It is common to experience these in the heat of divorce….but dangerous to let them follow you into the next stage of your life.  I encourage you to be sure you have started doing the hard work of letting them go so you can find the peace of Christ to bring healing, serenity and self-control.  It will be well worth it.

Let us know what you think...  Like our page and share the post from the "Finding God in the Seasons of Divorce" facebook page on your page and be automatically entered into our drawing for a free signed copy of the book.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tragic Loss of Life

260 Souls Lost

So what was the final death toll up in Boston?  Three was the last I saw, and, of course, 144 wounded, some terribly wounded.  At the Texas factory, the death toll has risen to 15 with 200 injured.  Back to back tragedies here.  But did you see the news yesterday about the 260 killed by the collapse of a clothing sweat shop outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, with over 1000 injured?  (At least those are the last numbers I have seen…there is quite a variation out there.)  After the building had been ordered evacuated as unsafe the day before.  The workers were ordered back in by the owners the next day, told to ignore the cracks.  The same owners who are now in hiding. 

I got to travel to Dhaka last year, and heard it said that the Bengali people are the happiest people on earth.  And let me tell you, I have never seen smiles bigger than those I saw in Bangladesh…..sometimes on the faces of people who had absolutely nothing.  I passed by some of those sweat shops, some lit up in full swing late into the night.  While there are some very modern and beautifully structured buildings there, there are some that are clearly questionable….and I kind of wondered about the techniques they used….notice the bamboo in the pictures!  Since it isn’t our country, it doesn’t receive the attention that our national tragedies do, even though the death toll is significantly larger and the wounded exponentially more.  But it doesn’t have anything to do with us, right?  Except that the clothes from that building have been purchased by U.S. stores like WalMart or Dress Barn according to multiple articles.  CNN had an article that said: 

“The resulting catastrophe is the latest to befall Bangladesh’s accident-prone garment industry, which employs more than 4 million people — most of them women — but regularly comes under scrutiny for its slipshod safety standards.”  (http://myfox8.com/2013/04/25/nearly-200-killed-in-collapse-of-clothing-factory-in-bangladesh/)

FOUR MILLION PEOPLE!!   In “slipshod safety standards.”  And an “accident-prone garment industry.”          
 I like finding bargains as much as the next person, but events such as this should give us all pause, especially in a time when we can find fair trade articles if we look for them.  We say that at least they have a job, but it isn't a job that really enables people to get ahead in life.  It is more like slavery at subsistence wages.  I would be remiss NOT to tell you that I got to see first hand that there are people working to help these women and their families have a chance at a better life.  Education in the most rural of areas.  Job skill training and self employ opportunities, as well as nutrition and agricultural guidance are among the things a few people are doing to make a difference in the lives of regular people.  It is a wonderful alternative to dangerous sweatshops that keep their workers in abject poverty.  You might consider supporting such groups, by making fair trade purchases and supporting groups that are working to improve conditions.

In Dhaka I saw toddlers playing in the dirty gutter with discarded video tape as their toys.  I saw individuals sleeping on pushcarts or three wheeled bikes, apparently the only beds they have.  I saw inner city and rural women, bound in poverty, but finding a way out through the training they were receiving. 

Anyway, does it bother anybody else that we have such a high value on lives in our country, but not so much when it is out of our purview?   Kind of an “out of sight out of mind” concept.  I also heard there have been tens of thousands killed in Syria’s uprising.  The tragic list of worldwide needless loss of life is staggering.  And it is also significant, I think, that the folks who died in Texas and Boston are in environments where they would have at least had the chance to find out about Jesus and enter eternity prepared and forgiven.  In Dhaka, such opportunities are extremely few, so the lives lost in garment tragedies there likely enter a Christless eternity. 
I guess I just wanted to share a bit.  For those of you going through a divorce, sometimes things like this can bring some perspective….because life could be a lot worse than it is even in divorce here in America.  For millions of people, their lives daily are far, far more tragic.  Pray for the people of Bangladesh, won’t you?  It so reminds me of Jesus’ statement that the laborers for the kingdom are few.  And as we mourn our losses here in Texas and Boston, could we also mourn those whose lives existed and ended in pathetically tragic circumstances?  And maybe give a second thought when we check our clothing tags…care a bit more about the person at the sewing machine.

TL:dr  Our national mourning could be expanded to also mourn those we give no second thought to, the garment factory workers in Bangladesh (May God have mercy on their souls.)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Jackie Robinson, God, and the Chicago Cubs


Got back from Chicago, where I went with my son and my 93 year old dad to dad’s first ever pro ball game, which we took in at Wrigley Field watching the Cubs take on the Rangers.  A fun evening.  Just the weekend before my wife and I had gone to see the movie “42” and so, when the players at Wrigley were wearing 42 Jerseys, I understood why in a pretty good way.  So today took dad to go see the movie, second time for me, first for him.  In my humble opinion, it is probably the best movie I have seen in years….a great story, a pretty clean show and a great message.  A message I didn't fully appreciate until I saw the movie.  I had no idea how hard things must have been for Jackie Robinson, nor did I realize that Branch Rickey was instrumental in the process of intentionally integrated major league baseball.  I grew up long after it was integrated.   Some of the incidents that occur are just staggering and hard to imagine actually happening here in the United States…even though I know they did, and worse.  And, of course, with all the stories of “ethnic cleansing” in so many places around the world…it is hard to deny that such hatred exists.

What great men Jackie and Branch must have been.  And there have always been great men and women in history who have stood up against the awful things of the world to try to make a change for the better.  And, of course, as we have seen in the last week, there are always individuals who stand up and find new ways to bring evil into the world.   In our generation, we still need people to stand for something, to make a difference for goodness and kindness and love and right and all those wonderful things we treasure in life and in history.  Prejudice, racism…and yes, even divorce, all symptoms of a fallen world filled with selfishness and sinfulness. 
What is it about ourselves that causes us to want to prove we are better than somebody else?  That makes us somehow think we are superior if we can find a way to put somebody else beneath us, socially, financially, intellectually, politically….or as Jackie experienced, racially?  The color of a person’s skin?  Really?  Somehow that makes an individual inferior or superior?  Where I grew up, we didn't have many Asians or Native Americans, but there were Hispanics and Blacks in my schools, and I don’t remember even giving it a second thought as a child.   We just played our games, did our schoolwork, had our little tiffs, but managed to get along.  I guess because we all knew we belonged there.  And the most anybody had to prove was whether they could hang in on the spelling bees or who could run the fastest in the school races.  But even those things didn't make us better than somebody else, just different, or talented in different ways. 

In the movie, Branch makes the observation of how hard it would be to explain to God why an owner kept blacks out of baseball.  He has a good point.  Only it doesn't merely apply to baseball.  After all, do you think God made a mistake by choosing to make people of all different colors, personalities and abilities?  I suspect the intention is to see how well we will keep the command to love one another, even if the “another” is an enemy. 

I don’t know if you heard the aunt of those young men in Boston or not, but she kind of went on a bit of a rant about how much Chechen's are discriminated against, both in Russia and in the United States.  It is hard to tell if that was true…she seemed a little over the top, but it does make one wonder how much of her anger (and that of the young men) could have come out of the kind of discrimination that was practiced against Jackie Robinson as well.  I saw a note that indicated Boston hasn't been the most racially kind city in its past….the Red Sox were even the last MLB team to become integrated.  So maybe there is more beneath the story than we might hear. 

I guess this is kind of a ra

mbly blog, and you can take from it what you want.  But know that, in my opinion, racism and prejudice are a couple of the stupidest things humans have done to one another.  How much better for each of us to just accept who we are, and to be the best self we can be while we encourage others to do the same regardless of these kind of differences.  And I hope you go see “42” because it is well worth the time.  The acting is very good, the whole feel of the presentation is great, and it can inspire you to want to make your corner of the world just a little bit better.  And I hope you do just that.

TL:dr  The movie “42” offers a good source for reflection on racism in our day and age.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

God Hears the Cries of Boston


It may seem like I have forgotten about the blog lately, but I simply have been caught up with a couple of things at home, including trying to do some editing to get the second volume of Finding God in the Seasons of Divorce to the publisher…. wouldn't take so long if I wasn't so picky!  Soon, I promise.  In addition, I am actually away from home to take my 90+ year old father to visit some relatives in Chicago (long drive)…..figure there are not too many trips like this left….but lots of time to blog.  He is going to get to go to his first professional ball game tonight….we go to see the Chicago Cubs play the Texas Rangers.  Promises to be a big day.  But while here, heard the sad news about the bomb blasts in Boston, although only bits and pieces.  Of course, we all need to be praying for the grieving families, as well as those who are doing the investigative work, whether it is international terrorism or simply some angry young man like the one at Sandy Hook
A truly sad thing.  At least for most of us.  There are those, who seem to rejoice in these kinds of acts, and those people also need our prayers.  I vaguely remember some discussions back at the time of the 9/11 murders that included comments about the fact that the United States had just been introduced to the world of terrorism in a most obscene way, and that places like Israel have had to deal with these kind of horrific acts for many years.  I had a friend who was studying in Jerusalem back in the 90’s who told me about the day he was headed across town when a bomb blast blew up a bus, killing and injuring many.  During my time at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, there were often times when a bomb blast in Israel would place the campus on high alert.  The Jewish people are very aware of the hatred that exists against them by some misguided and angry people - and the fear is that the same incident would happen there.    But when 9/11 introduced the U.S. to the fact that we are not immune from the hatred and violence in the world, those far away stories affecting only a few individuals became stories about us, now. 
But what seemed to be an awakening in our country has, over time, become watered down by political correctness and conspiracy theory idiocy, as well as the continued assumption that if only we talk and be nice to people, they won’t do anything bad or hate us.  And while it is possible that talking and kindness can change the way people relate to us, it ignores a core reality of human existence, that is also not politically correct:  the sinful nature of human beings.  Oh, sure you and I may not be a person who would go set off bombs to kill race spectators or tourist buses, nor fly airplanes into buildings…but can you honestly say that you have never done anything wrong?  Or that you actually DID do all the good and right things you knew ought to be done in your life?  Or that you will never do anything you are ashamed of ever again?  If you think you are not included in this brokenness, then maybe that is your first mistake (or sin)….though I doubt it.

I was reading on the internet the other day about a murder here in the states that made national headlines…I don’t remember the details.  But I remember a comment that was posted below the article in which an individual was frustrated that the murders of four young black men in Chicago would not be granted the same significance by the media of this one murder.  The same kind of thing is, of course, occurring now.  The terrible Boston tragedy is gaining non-stop coverage and analysis, as well it should.  But there were at least as many murders and atrocities in our world occurring simultaneously, whether in North Korean prison camps or gang infested cities or through the hands of war lords in Africa….about which we may not hear (or care!).  But God does.  He notices the passing of each one who comes before Him for judgment.  He notices the tears that stain the faces of the families.  He notices the hardness of people who do not care.  And he notices the cause as sin continues to spread its grip in our world.  And He notices whether or not His people exemplify the changed hearts of love by the way they live and the compassion they show.  He notices whether or not we take seriously the need to let people know there is a better way, a way to be freed from sin’s grasp on our hearts and minds and deeds.  

So as the investigators and the health care workers do their jobs there in Boston, and law makers do whatever they feel their job is. Perhaps it is time to ask when we believers are going to actively deal with the core problems.  When will we take seriously our responsibility carry the promise of God’s grace and new creation salvation to a world in such desperate need of it?  That is the only answer to problems like these:  a changed heart through the power of the Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  Bombing is already against the law.  Murder is already against the law.  Assault is already against the law.  Capturing the individuals who murdered in Boston yesterday will not change the hearts or deeds of those who plan on doing the same kind of murderous deeds in Jerusalem or Rwanda or wherever else tomorrow.  When will our loss of innocence open our eyes to the spiritual realities of the world in which we live and the depth of evil that exists? 

Sadly, in the U.S., I suspect it won’t be long before the conspiracy theorists find a way to blame this on the Jews or the government, or the actions are all explained away by a profile of the individual’s cultural background and everybody will move on as if it has nothing to do with OUR lives or who WE are...anything to prevent us from looking deeply at the mar that sin has left upon our hearts and the hearts of those around us.  God has compassion and mercy for sinners….but for those who deny it exists, there is never a need to come seek that forgiveness.  But for those who know that they, too, are individuals whose lives have been broken, God will never turn away those who come seeking His grace and restoration.  And that our example the early Christians set so effectively in the Roman Empire that they literally turned the world upside down….by overcoming evil with good, hatred with love and telling the world there is a better way.  Even as we pray for those suffering in Boston, let’s do our best to help turn the tide. 

TL:dr  The evildoers in our world, as exemplified in Boston, more than anything else, need to experience a personal encounter with God, and it is up to us to help them know how.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

How far would you go?

Probably the Best Divorce Practice I Ever Followed!

If you can, before reading this, could I ask you to go get one of your Bibles if you have one, and just have it in your lap or close at hand?  Today I want to share something with you that really struck me.  I have a friend who works in a very remote hilly area in the Philippines, translating the scriptures into the native language of that small group of people.  Every once in a while he sends out newsletters, telling his friends what is going on and listing prayer requests and the like.  He probably also uses it to keep his sanity, as he is so far away from his original way of living when he grew up on the East Coast of the United States.  Anyway, I wanted to share with you some of the things out of his latest musings, after which I will be able to explain what it made me think about.  So, the following excerpts are from my friend, Glenn:

The mayor told me that power lines would reach Mangali by the end of the year. How nice (and different!) that will be!

Praise God that we finished the accuracy checks of Revelation and the last half of Luke (the first half was done a few years ago). 

Praise God for good opportunities to share with people in the community during comprehensibility checks as well as in public events such as school closing programs. I printed out the current drafts of the entire New Testament for the team members so they can more readily use the Mangali scriptures in church services and elsewhere and they are being used!

Still recovering from pneumonia in January, I decided that I would not hike in all the way to Mangali. There was, however, a truck going in that day, which was a great option for the first 4 1/2 hours. Then we hit incredible amounts of mud, and the workers got out (every few minutes it seemed) to shovel mud and put down rocks and rice chaff for traction. They did this from 3 p.m. until 2:20 a.m., at which point they decided to get some sleep. Unable to sleep before then without being pitched out into the mud when the truck jerked forward, I was glad to get some rest, even if it meant sleeping on the spare tire with a backpack under my head. The next morning we decided to hike the rest of the way, and we arrived at the edge of Mangali at 2 p.m. The truck, still carrying some of our cargo, didn’t arrive until 10 that night!

Pretty impressive stuff, huh?  When was the last time you took 7 or 8 hours hiking to help somebody who needs to know something about the scriptures?  When were you last so tired you slept on something akin to a truck tire?  Or do you remember when you finally got electricity run to your home?  Or how long have YOU been waiting to have the New Testament available in your native language?  And how much are you willing to do to help someone who doesn't have the New Testament in their language to have that opportunity? Or to help someone get to church who can't due to a disability, poverty or lack of "appropriate social skills?" 

A missionary friend of mine (well, wish they were friends, I actually only got to meet them for a short while) once told about going back home to Australia from their mission field, and how much it bothered them when their friends would complain about losing electricity for 5 minutes in a storm and consider it a major crisis.  My friends compared it to their experience of driving their van in the mission country on hot summer days.  The windows would be down and women on the street attempted to shove their babies into the van, hoping they would take the babies home and the child would have a chance at a decent life.  Compared to the desperation they witnessed from these women, five minutes without electricity just didn't seem like a big deal to my friends.  Obviously, all those years without a regular power source must not be a big deal to my translation friend, either, because he has been going to that village for a couple of decades. 
 Beside you (hopefully) is a Bible.  Odds are, you have had one accessible the vast majority of your life, if nothing else a Gideon Bible at the local hotel or hospital or down at the public library (maybe a few readers haven’t).  These people are thrilled that the scriptures are going to be available in their language at last.  Now thrilled are you that it already IS in yours? 

Probably one of the best habits I had during my divorce process was spending time every day reading God’s Word.  I learned a lot about myself, about God, and received a lot of encouragement, challenges and hope.  Especially if you have children in the home as a single parent, it is very hard to carve out time to spend reading the scriptures…so many other demands just seem so terribly urgent.  But I would encourage you to not let those moments get crowded out…don’t find the time, MAKE the time, one way or another.  Even if it is only 5 minutes at bedtime. 

Pause for moment.  Right now, hold that Bible and try to imagine how you would feel if that Bible wasn't even available in your language.  That was reality at one time.  Even if you are a Greek or Hebrew speaker, there was a time it wasn't written or collected yet.  Imagine that the Bible in your hand is the first Bible you can read.  Imagine that you have just received the first one translated into your language for the first time since it was written 2000 years ago.  It’s a sad thing that we so take for granted this incredible volume that sits on our tables or shelves.  It is truly a treasure beyond any other here on earth.  How about taking a few minutes with the copy you have beside you to spend time with it realizing just how incredible it really is?

TL: dr  The greatest treasure we neglect to see is God’s Word at our fingertips.

Monday, April 1, 2013

I said goodbye to my dog today


Reader Warning:  The material ahead contains significantly sappy thoughts, at least everything after the first paragraph does.  Read at your own peril.

The picture above is, Wwhhat, my dog for fifteen years.  Snoozing on the floor, in the middle of the room, her favorite place to be. 

If you have read my book, you already know the story about my dog, and the fun day my son and I had naming her the silly name we selected.  And when you get the second volume, there are enough dog and cat stories there to let you know how much I enjoy having pets.  When they are well trained.  Anyway, I’ll offer up the great tip first, that way you don’t have to read it all to find out.  A couple of friends were concerned for me when I was faced with divorce (actually more than a couple).  They were especially sensitive to the empty house I was in alone, with the kids only around on that terrible thing called a “shared parenting schedule” (or visitation some say).  That is probably the worst fallout of divorce…but that will go into my discussions on children.  

Anyway, so my friends decided I needed something to keep the house from feeling so empty, and one knew a person whose dog has just had beagle puppies (and I always wanted a beagle anyway!), so a little beagle puppy found her way to my home, and I was not alone again.  My wife also talks about the dogs keeping her company and protected, too.  

SO THE SIMPLE TIP IS:  if you are new into the divorce process and feeling the emptiness and loneliness of echoing walls in your home, it can be a GREAT thing to get a new pet.  Not for the kids, for you.  I prefer cats or dogs, maybe you like something else, but studies have indicated the stress reduction that comes with owning a pet (despite those times they can drive you NUTS!!!), and the companionship of a walking in the park with a dog or having a cat purr on your lap is incomparable.  So that’s the tip. Well, it may not really be the BEST tip I had, but it certainly turned out to be a very good one.  Of course, the downside of the tip is that if your finances are tight, unless you are a vet your will have the expenses of shots and spaying/neutering (which I STRONGLY urge you to do!)  But if you have the cash, the joy is well worth the investment.  (Okay, the sappy part is about to begin, you can bail out now if you’d like.)

Today I closed a chapter of my life, and it was a chapter that was difficult to close.  In the grand scheme of things, it seems almost ridiculous that I would consider this significant, but many of you will know exactly what I mean.  I mean, it is not nearly as big a deal as when my uncle or my mom passed away last year.  But today’s experience might contain something helpful for you, if you are struggling with divorce, and so I will share some memories with you. 

Today I had to put my dog down.  She was 15 years old, almost to the day.  Within a month or two of the beginning of divorce proceedings, she came into my life, tail wagging, mouth smiling, nose nuzzling and full of life.  I’d say she was the best dog I ever had, but I have had some really great dogs in my life and each has been special in its own way.  But this dog was clearly mine.  When I was alone, she and I would go to the park, and she would run and play (never really got the hang of fetch, though), and I would laugh and play with her on my hands and knees.  She was a companion for many, many years.  She never bit anyone.  She rarely growled (I don’t remember her ever doing it, actually).  She loved treats and her eyes lit up whenever I came around, always hoping we’d go for another walk or have a special treat.  And she went walking a lot with me and the woman who later became my second wife and her dog, as a frequent simple date when she and I would visit and laugh or cry. 

For the last three years she has been living at my dad’s house.  Not because she wasn’t welcome at mine, but since dad has been alone much of that time, he has wanted to keep her there.  So even in her old age (the vet said life expectancy for a dog like her would be 12 years, not 15) she was still doing in important job by serving as companion and guard for my dad.  Although she couldn’t really hear much of anything lately.  And her eyes were getting weak.  And her back has some serious problems.  Though the precipitating cause for putting her down was that she developed an illness that would require surgery risky for a dog her age, and that would probably continue to return even if this was successful.  So instead, after some discussion and thought, I decided to let her go now, while she hasn’t had to suffer long, having had a good and very meaningful life. 

Frankly, I don’t know how I would have made it without her.  And I mean that seriously.  And as I said goodbye, she enjoyed some last special treats and Easter leftovers.  We had a hug and a picture.  And then my heart was filled with gratitude to God for her and my mind was flooded with memories of times together.  Then she was buried in a place that also has special memories in my life.  And when I came home, my son’s dog (who we are dogsitting for a few months or years and who is also nearly as old as mine was) came over and greeted me, nuzzling up to me arm as if she knew we had both lost an old friend.  (Every once in a while back when, those two dogs used to get loose and would go visiting all the neighbors and friends, as well as a little sightseeing in town until I would track them down.  At that point, they would joyfully come running and hop back into the car to go back home.  Good memories.)  And, as you might be able to tell from this blog, I have a soft spot for movies like “Marley and Me,” “Beethoven,” “Old Yeller,” or “Homeward Bound.”  I’ll have to see what the next chapter brings, and whether or not another animal will take the role of my beagle or my Siamese cat, both of which are now gone as is the way of life in this world. 

What is it that brings joy to your life and home?  In what HEALTHY ways do you fill the voids of loneliness?  I once had a young child ask me whether or not there would be dogs in heaven, whether or not their pet would be there to greet them when they grow old and die.  I found some scriptures and gave an answer I won’t share here (all of which was before the movie “All Dogs Go To Heaven” came out.)  So while I won’t say anything about whether dogs go to heaven or not today, I will say this:  a good dog brings a bit of heaven to us here.  At least, mine sure did for me.  And my wife’s did for her as well.  I will never forget how God used something as simple as my beagle to bring me the joy and hope I needed at one of the lowest points of my life.  So much so that had my son and I not come up with our silly game to name her, she would have been named, “Hope.”   Perhaps the same idea could be useful for you, too.  So thank you dear friends who had the foresight to insist I get my puppy.  And thank you, God for sending them and for creating such a delightful animal to share 15 years of my life.  And thank you, my dear little beagle for all the things I will never be able to express or repay.  And thank you, blog reader, for allowing me to share this silly little reflection. 

TL:  sorry, no shortcuts today.