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“Lord, I don’t trust you…”; retirements, cancer & Psalm 27:14

Last weekend our family celebrated my Dad’s work retirement. zippo Words cannot explain how prideful I felt celebrating that accomplishment with people that came out to honor my dad’s years of hard work. He has always been a great example of many things to us kids, but to show us first-hand what it means to work hard & provide for others is a lesson that I’ve only grown to appreciate as I’ve got older.

I’ve touched briefly on my dad’s cancer in previous blogs. Close friends & family know of his progress & I’m blessed to have so many that pray for us & keep positive vibes afloat as we journey through this tough stage as a family. That made the retirement party even more special as none of us know what the future holds for him, or for that matter, any of us.

Several months ago I decided to do an in-depth self-study on the book of Psalm; containing 150 chapters & (around) 2500 verses, I knew this was going to be quite the undertaking. I gave myself through the summer to complete, but that has now been extended through the winter since the supplemental reading & note-taking is just as time consuming. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, because I secretly am a know-it-all (okay, maybe not so secretly) & “learning” means a new batch of knowledge wrinkles in my brain.

While I pretty much picked Psalms because so many verses contained are dear to my heart, what I’m finding to be the overlaying theme is “trust”….trust.

Trust…

Wow! If ever a time in my life I needed to lean on trust it’s now.

There are moments when I think I’m doing okay about my Dad’s diagnosis & then there are moments when I’m out on a hiking trail & I’m so overcome with emotion thinking about it that I literally sit down in the middle of the woods & bawl my eyes out. It’s in those moments that my faith is the weakest & most tested. Gratitude for a God who has sent me a one-eyed dog that understands my breakdown & will sit down next to me with his head on my lap until the tears start to dry up.

Twice within the last several weeks I’ve had two different people, on two different occasions mention the word “dying” when asking about my dad. Needless to say my response wasn’t the classiest (“He’s fine. And mind your own *blankety-blank-blank -business*”…okay, maybe my response wasn’t that bad, but that’s what I was saying in my head). “Dying”, what a harsh ugly word. And not a word I want spoken in the same sentence as my Dad’s name. But as he just finished yet another several months round of chemo treatments & has begun the next series of testing to see if the cancer has spread or tumors enlarged, these “dying” comments keep popping back into my head & the possible reality hits me full on.

Trust…

Before I begin my nightly (okay…”nightly” is a stretch) Bible-Study I do prayer devotionals, my hope is that I will find answers to whatever is on my mind at that moment. Sometimes it works out that way…sometimes it doesn’t. On this particular night, it was answered. With my dad’s bible versehealth on my mind I opened up my section of Psalms to read & was surprised to find, not only this verse, but also to discover that 3yrs. ago on that exact date, I had also been led to that same verse. During that time our family was grieving over the unexpected loss of a beloved uncle only a few short weeks prior & in the midst of making serious decisions over my Grandma’s own struggle with cancer.

“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”-Psalm 27:14-

Both of those situations ended painfully & the loss of hope I felt deflated me like a balloon.

When you feel you’re at the end of your rope, sometimes all you can do is hold on. The theme of Psalms kept repeating in my head,”trust…trust…trust”. For the first time in my life, I actually admitted out loud to God that I didn’t trust him.

“Lord, I don’t trust you. Help me believe that your ways are best.”

When you’re in a strong “relationship” with someone you can freely admit, with raw honesty, that you’re confused, hurt, angered…distrustful. And you know in your heart that it doesn’t change the dynamic of the relationship, you’re still loved & not abandoned. That was what I felt by the admission & a flood of relief overcame me.

I’m reminded of the unbelieving father in the book of Mark. He had watched his son struggle with inner-demons his whole life & the reality looked grim. As a final resort, he brought him before Jesus to be healed.

“If you can?” said Jesus. ”Everything is possible for one who believes.” The child’s father cried out at once,” I believe! Help my lack of faith”

– Mark 9:23-24-

It’s okay to have unbelief. It’s okay to be distrustful. You can be a follower of Christ & still be uncertain that your prayers will come true, but in those moments it’s important to pray that your unbelief be healed. Just be honest, He already knows what you’re feeling anyways, why not just admit it??? Allow God to open the door of unbelief so that what’s behind it can be reached.

“Sometimes you just have to smile in faith…”-Joel Osteen-

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And yet another example of why people should never attempt at turning an exotic animal into a “pet”…

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The good thing about having a blog is I can voice my opinion in a controlled environment in an attempt at a well-thought out debatable essay, especially when the topic is controversial & most people like the sound of their own spouting rather than say something worthy & substantial. Which is why I urge everyone to start a blog, it’s much cheaper than therapy & you reduce the number of people you want to shake & say, “really???” Everyone has an opinion, however, not everyone’s opinion is informative. Most are emotional & not factually based.

Recently in my hometown a spider monkey was euthanized after biting a human, without getting into specifics (you can look it up on Fox 8 Cleveland’s website) the outrage is getting a little ridiculous & in my opinion, the anger is severely displaced. I have worked in the animal industry for 12 years professionally & have earned several degrees over the course of that time all animal related (with the exception of a Business degree thrown in). While I by no means claim to be an expert, in fact, I’m humbled & excited by how much I have yet to learn, I do have a little more experience with the industry than most people voicing an emotional opinion. I have worked with horses, livestock, reptiles, domesticated, avian, wildlife, aquatics, pocket pets, & exotics. I have personally worked with spider monkeys both in a zoo facility & an exotic animal rehabilitation center, not to mention the rotation I did during college where I worked in the vet department of an animal testing facility that tested on Spider & Capuchin Monkey’s (don’t get me started on that!) When I say that these animals are NOT meant to be pets, that’s not an exaggeration.

I’m not here to bash the owner or all the supporters of the owner, their actions (or lack thereof) speak for themselves. It was an unfortunate situation with heartbreaking results & I’m sure after the emotion has died down, the owner(s) will realize the role they played in this situation & I’m trusting will not make the same decisions again. Whether it’s a domesticated animal or an exotic animal, when you choose to bring one into your home you have a responsibility to that animal to keep it safe. That includes obeying all laws, following all regulations & being knowledgeable about the animal that trusts you.

As I’m sure most of you amazing readers know, several years ago a guy let loose dozens of exotic animals onto the streets of Zanesville, Ohio. After that incident people were OUTRAGED over the destruction & mass killing of several of these animals…all senselessly. There is always good that can come from every situation and Ohio started adapting stricter exotic animal laws to more safely regulate what people can own & the standards by which they have to house these animals. Ohio went from being the worst (no exaggeration) state to being one of the most regulated. Ohio even created a whole department within the Department of Agriculture to regulate, monitor & fine private & public organizations and owners who have chosen to own exotic animals. While it has been costly for owners & organizations it also has cut down on people owning exotic animals & regulates how many animals a rescue can financially support. I know it may seem like another Government interference but (to me) it’s common sense to monitor this trend that is way out of control & long overdue.

People should not own exotic animals to keep as pets, ever! And you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone that works in the animal field to disagree. God created all things for a very specific purpose & when people try to change that purpose, senseless things like the recent Spider Monkey euthanasia happen. Love plays a big part on why people decide to incorporate an exotic animal into their home; they “love” a certain animal species, so naturally they want to own it. This doesn’t make sense to me. You “love” something, so you decide to keep it from living out its God designed purpose? Not to mention it’s a selfish way to think. Because YOU decide that YOU want to own an exotic animal YOU get one. You’re putting your needs before the welfare of the animal. The very essence & definition of love is putting somebody else’s needs above your own. The very animal that you decide to own can teach you that lesson by observing it in a natural environment; a mama bear will always protect her cubs before thinking about her safety.

My best-bud & greatest workout personal trainer I’ve ever had is my dog, Waylon, an Australian Cattle Dog. This dog loooooooves to be outdoors & is the epitome of energy! And I adore him for that. But Australian Cattle Dogs are designed to do exactly what their name implies. They herd cattle. This is their purpose in life, their instinct. What God has created them to do. I’m responsible for stealing his joy, on a daily basis, because I don’t fulfill that need in my dog. Is my dog happy…absolutely. Is he well taken care of…you’ve never met a dog more spoiled. But the level of happiness Waylon would achieve if getting that need met daily is nothing that I can provide him right now. He gets spurts of that activity; many chances to “herd” horses around the farm, squirrels & chipmunks are a daily roundup, he even “herds” me when we’re out on our daily walks/runs. As his owner, someone who he puts his trust in, it is my responsibility to make sure that instinct is met…and I fail at this, I’m 100% to blame & it is a selfish act on my part because I wanted this rescue dog. Just like other fellow dog owners who fail at this if they don’t provide the same opportunity with their dogs & their instinctual purposes. The difference is, these are “domesticated” animals. Through years of evolving, dogs are no longer wild & now know their place within the hierarchy of a human family unit. Exotic animals will never be domesticated, it’s a scientific fact. And even if some mutant gene forms & they do become domesticated, it will never be in our generation or in our great-great-great-gazillion great grandkid’s generation. When humans interfere too much with changing Mother Nature, we do more harm than good. She’s been around a lot longer than we have & is a hell of a lot smarter than we are. Believe it or not but humans are not entitled to own everything on this planet just because we “want” it, there are some things that don’t belong to us. Every time you support a company that does research using animals by purchasing their products, every time you buy an animal from a breeder instead of adopting or not spaying/neutering your pet, every time you pay money to watch animals being put on display (circus’s, rodeo’s) you are selfishly contributing to the destruction of mother nature. I’m guilty of this as well, it will forever be a lifetime of choices that you have to make. Not one person can save the world, but everybody can do their small contribution & that does add up.

I’m very passionate about animal rights, especially on rescue/rehabilitation work (not buying from breeders, spaying/neutering, etc.) & exotic animal rights. When you work in the industry you see the effects that human’s selfishness & stupidity can cause. If I was friends with myself, I would be annoyed with myself when I get on a soapbox about it. I know that I can nag about this topic, but it’s because it’s so important. Think about something you’re passionate about, something you’re willing to fight for…can you really nag it enough? I would rather beat this topic to death than know it’s going on & remain silent. Many times I’ve prayed to not know some of the things that I know & to not have seen some of things I’ve witnessed because the weight of the problem can seem overwhelming, especially when people don’t seem to care or heed your advice. But in those moments I’m reminded of the animals I’ve seen emaciated, beaten, left to freeze to death on frozen ground, of the animals I’ve personally had to put to death because people have chosen to buy from a breeder and/or not spay & neuter. The exotic animals behind cages who were meant to roam freely, the lab animals injected with cancer-causing agents so humans can get the right scent of body wash & the poaching of game who were unfortunate enough to be born with a much desired delicacy. If people are made aware of the problems, they cannot claim ignorance. Whether or not they choose to do something about their contribution to the problem is up to them & therefore the responsibility of that decision, good or bad, also falls on them. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
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I feel closest to the devil when I’m bored indoors…

Wow, that’ a genius line! That’s on the level of, “needs to be a line in a country-western song” good!

Okay, enough bragging on my one-hit-title-writing-wonder-line (can you tell I’m in a fantastic mood.

                            It was a good day! 27

The weather was  all-star today. It makes it hard to be in a bad mood when mother nature is happy.

I was fortunate enough to spend the WHOLE day outside! At work I had sunshine on my face in active bliss, when I got home my dog was raring to go & get some warm-weather love on his body. When he saw me grab his hiking harness he immediately turned into a crazed, psychopathic, pony-prancing, kangaroo-jumping, rodeo-spinning bull, neurotic in his delirious happiness at what he knew was to come.

I understand that feeling.

Recently a good friend of mine posted a photo of herself out on the hiking trail & referred to it as her “church” (blog-bomb for Heidi H. Winking smile). Now this is a good friend (not just one of those “good-friend” terms people toss around to make them sound more popular. But an honest-to-goodness good friend). She’s one of the most inspiring, energetic, blissfully contagious people I’ve ever met & has been such a source of strength for me in my recent journey of living a healthier lifestyle. If I’m being honest though, I was a little taken aback by her reference to being outdoors on a beautiful Sunday & calling it “church”. I didn’t think it was wrong for her to feel this way, but something about the reference didn’t sit well with me. It felt somewhat…belittled…to me & I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it made me uncomfortable to compare the two.

So I did nothing. I pushed the thought out of my mind, knowing the answer would reveal itself to me in due time. When I was more accepting & open to dissecting it.

We had a medical setback in our family recently, which meant some time spend in the hospital visiting a relative of mine that I love very much. Unsure of the seriousness & future of the diagnosis it resulted in some stressful days (don’t worry, things have since balanced out!), however, the nice weather days that were granted to North Eastern Ohio, I spent them indoors…in the hospital…stressed out…crabby…short-tempered. When things settled down & I found myself with a free day off; I slept in, woke up & did absolutely nothing that day! I mean…nothing! I didn’t even get out of my pajamas! While to some, that may seem like a PERFECT way to spend the day, but for me, when I crawled into bed that night I felt…angry…bitchy…crabby…mean…hateful…pissed off. I didn’t even know WHAT  I was mad about, just that I was mad & felt like taking it out on someone (and unfortunately it was the rare day that my wine rack was completely empty, double bummer!)

Naturally I took out my frustration & vengeance on God (He got the wrath of Carey spewed forth. But after all, he’s God…so he was probably expecting it!). This came forth by way of cursing, defiance & self-loathing. I refused to read my Bible (that’ll show him!) & I refused to spend my time in meditative prayer (which I try to do every night before bed).

It was while laying in bed, fuming in hate, in the absolute quiet darkness of my bedroom that a thought popped into my head,”you didn’t talk to me at all today…”…and I had no excuse because I hadn’t. By doing “nothing” all day, I had distanced myself from God & opened the door for the devil to walk in, where he revealed himself in me by way of the vile things I was saying about myself to the Lord, the anger that I was displacing unto the Lord.

When I’m “bored” I make bad decisions. When I veg out & waste my time, I’m not showing God glory. Every second counts & is important. The devil knows when I’m at my weakest & that’s when he works his magic by attacking my thoughts (for what person on this planet doesn’t give in to negative thoughts when they’ve got nothing to do but “think”).

I HATE being indoors for to long. It’s no joke that it truly alters my personality. I’m passionate about hiking & I have a deep rooted love for nature. I did not realize it until that night but being on the hiking trail, being out in a nature that was kissed by God, was my church too! For that is the place where I feel closest to God. Where I know He’s hiking with me & where I ALWAYS talk to him. It’s where I think clearest, where my troubles seem manageable & where I can hear God talking & listening to me.

Now don’t get me wrong or misunderstand me, I LOVE going to my “home” church. It’s the church I’ve attended since I was a child. My most treasured 27.2memories, tears, & faces lie in that building. You NEED to have a church “family” in your walk with  Christ; people that support you & hold you accountable. God is in that place! But I CRAVE my one-on-one time with a God that breathed life into me. A God that knows the depths of my heart better than I do & therefore, he knows the way to get me listening to Him is by sending me outdoors on an open trail with a dog that loves hiking as much as I do.

I was judgmental in a way that I didn’t even realize I was being towards a friend that I hold the utmost respect & admiration for. How dare I ever judge how God decides to communicate with his children! How dare I ever assume that just because somebody chooses to attend or not attend your standard-brick-building-with-the-cross-on-the-door “church” that they have any less of a relationship with God than I do. I have no idea how God works in other people’s lives, when I’m (barely) beginning to understand how he’s working in mine!

I pray all the time, constantly, that God keeps my ears tuned in, my mind receptive, & my eyes open to his direction, voice, & guidance. He does just that whenever I’m fueling my obsession for being outdoors. I always end my hikes feeling light, relaxed, peaceful, with a full heart & a mind overflowing with positive thoughts, counting down the moments until my next hike in the sunshine.

And isn’t that what time with the Lord is supposed to feel like?

“The Lord talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire.”-Deuteronomy 5:4-

See ya out on the hiking trail!

cheaperthantherapy1

 

 

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One Thousand Gifts…Weeks 4-7

Okay, I know I’ve been terribly lazy about posting my One Thousand Gifts. I’d love more than anything to fill you with all these excuses about how I’ve been super busy with work, my family…life. But the truth is I’ve just been…lazy. I started off writing 3 “gifts” a day & that’s dwindled to one a day..one every other day…one every week & so on.

So, my weeks are lumped together so it looks more filled than what it actually is. (again….lazy!). And I’m making a conscious effort to start this week (my “gifts” weeks run from Wed-Wed) to get back in the habit of 3 a day…well, maybe one a day!

“Think Happy. Be Happy!”

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One Thousand Gifts: Weeks 4-7

61. Fresh clean-laundry!!!! *I know, I know…I’ve lived in my house for 148752_608511712497962_1389588840_nalmost a year & still haven’t broke down and purchased a washer/dryer yet. Just seems like other expenses seem more pressing* 

62. How beautiful the sky looks as the sun’s peeking through snow clouds. Especially because the sun shining on an Ohio winter day is a rarity!

63. when I get the opportunity to see a situation through a perspective other than my own.

64. a check lost in the mail was recovered & deposited (doubly thankful that multiple checks wrote for bills were not cashed & nothing bounced!)

65. women who remind me to, “live in the present” when I find myself thinking of past memories

66. Aunt Gloria & the struggles she overcame during her lifetime. She will be missed.

67. after another visit to the hospital that resulted in a few days stay, my dad is home from the hospital again & mending (again!). Subsequently, my Grandma is home & mending from her heart-attack (that happened the same time my dad was in the hospital). Been a rough February!

68. the right to (occasionally) have myself a temper-tantrum, pity party, & “feeling sorry for myself” night.

69. an afternoon spent with my nieces & how excited they get when they’re allowed to spend the night with me. Although, I think a swim party & my dog had more to do with their excitement than an evening spent with their aunt Winking smile

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70. nighttime hikes on starry, clear, winter nights! *my favorite time of year to get a good hike in*

71. “There’s no difference between us when it comes to the Lord”-words by Pastor Jim, followed by an “Amen” said by a handicapped, disabled gentleman in a wheelchair at a Sunday morning church service. What a lesson!

72. the fact that my cat, Sundae, sleeps at the foot of my bed every night. Snoring away!

73. Bible scriptures that remind me to,”keep the faith” when I can feel it fading. hanginthere1

74. Being a girl & it being perfectly acceptable to spend 2 hours in the bathroom playing with my hair, doing my nails, plucking my eyebrows, waxing/shaving, experimenting with makeup, exfoliating & moisturizing Smile

LetGoLetGod175. reminders of “let go & let God”

76. powerful church services where you know God is moving, answering, & grace is overflowing

77. living within minutes of great hiking spots & a love for being outdoors

78. my mom telling me, “your dog is so attached to you”. Makes me smile because I know trust is an issue for him & we’ve been working on trying to overcome.

79. indoor flowers that are blooming, reminds me that spring is soon here! Baby animals, sunnier days, warmer weather, & green everywhere! amaryllis1

 

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Dog Shame…

Waylon-11/11/12

11.11.12 (2)

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