Pawsome priorities

My Assistance Dog, Marshall, lives in the present rather than fretting about what the future might hold. He doesn’t have a mind full of ‘what ifs’. Instead, he lives in a mindful way in the here and now.

Truth is, I can sometimes be like a ‘dog with a bone’, excessively ruminating over things. But Marshall reminds me of more awesome priorities:

He finds joy in the moment. Before covid-19 necessitated staying in, I didn’t really understand why he gets excited seeing passers-by.

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Now I know! Never underestimate the effect of connecting with others in a cheery way.

He doesn’t hide his need for affection and nudges me to ruffle his fur. It’s heart-warming to show our love for each other. The same applies to human relationships.

He soaks up the warmth of sunny days. If we absorb the warmth of others (kind gestures and encouraging words) the coldness with which we may treat ourselves, will be thawed.

He is attuned to others. When he senses someone is hurting, he comes alongside and offers a comforting gentle nuzzle. We can show empathy for others in quiet intuitive ways too.

He digs up what he’s buried – when he feels the moment has come. Recognising the right time for action, is important.

He never growls for the sake of it. Some battles aren’t worth fighting.

He finds pleasure in the simplest things, like walking in the woods, paddling in the stream, or playing with his pals. We too, need to take time for refreshing recreation.

Hearing Dogs Appeal Shoot

He is simply a dog. He doesn’t try to be anything other, nor does he make comparisons. We could save ourselves a lot of frustration and dissatisfaction, if we were simply ourselves.

He always greets me with exuberant enthusiasm, if we’ve ever been apart. We too, need to let others know that they really matter to us.

So let’s live life to the full, by learning any necessary life lessons from Marshall. It’s not for nothing that dogs have been called ‘man’s best friend’!

Truth is… Jesus said, “I have come that I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10)

Photo credits: 2019 Paul Wilkinson Photography (Hearing Dogs for Deaf People)

Who to choose…

I had to choose between my partner and the postman last week – and truth is, the postman came first!
But there’s more than what the headline might suggest. It’s a story about the provision of God that encompasses us, if we become aligned and attuned to God’s Spirit.

With the implications of covid-19, my partner and I are at ‘high risk’ so we’ve been in complete isolation for over a month. Our postman’s deliveries have therefore become the highlight of our days. It’s wonderful to be connected to family and friends through the contents of our letter box.

On Thursday evenings in the UK, from the safety of our homes, many of us clap our hands together to applaud the courage and commitment of National Health Service staff and other key workers.
As we applauded on Maundy Thursday, our postman came to mind, and I realised I wanted to give him something to show appreciation of the difference he makes to our daily life.
Being a maker and baker I would ordinarily bake a treat, but with coronavirus in the mix, an alternative was needed.
Fortuitously, I’m a panellist for an organisation evaluating the performance of the UK postal service, and I’d just been sent a little ‘thank you’ gift of mini Easter eggs. As I’ve been unable to go shopping for over a month, I’d intended to give these to my partner as an Easter day surprise, but it suddenly seemed that the postman should be the happy recipient.
It was a hard decision, postman or partner, but choosing the postman felt right.

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Fast forward a few days, and just after sunrise on Easter Sunday, my Hearing Dog alerted me to a doorstep delivery. I got up, opened the door, and discovered that some lovely friends had left a packet of mini Easter eggs. So my partner had Easter eggs after all!

It brought to mind a Postman Pat story that was much loved by one our offspring when she was three.

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The line I recalled was:

“The Lord doth provide.”

Thirty years later, the archaic language amuses me, but blow the dust off, and yes, God does provide if we all have open hands to give.

Truth is…  You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need… (Philippians 4:19)

Better out than in…

Here in the UK, the line from the government is to ‘stay home… save lives’ to minimise the spread of coronavirus, so for those of us who are not key workers, we best keep ‘in not out’.

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It’s opposite to the “better out than in!” line that may accompany noises from our inner depths, yet there is something positive to be found in both directives.

Our responses to the current situation, which has brought so many changes, can be quite revealing.
Something I’ve always struggled with, is ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’.
I’m a natural ‘doer’, so this is a huge opportunity to realise in a deeper way, that self-worth doesn’t depend on what we ‘do’, but on who we ‘are’. Yes, using our unique set of gifts and skills is part of our call as human beings, but what misplaced needs am I looking to be met, when I ‘do’ for others?

Truth is, I have a deep need for significance (don’t we all!) but this is an opportunity for me to drop my endless ‘to do’ list, and discover in a deeper way, that ‘being’ with God, is just as important as ‘doing’.

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Suddenly my empty diary seems like an invitation to let God plan my days – an opportunity to let ‘quiet spaces’ last for as long as God fills them with thoughts to explore.

Further, with open ended time, some stuff that I’ve been avoiding has surfaced from the depths.
The saying ‘better out than in’ can be applied here! So I’m discovering (yet again) that being honest and real with God is liberating.

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Hurt, frustration, guilt, shame, can all be powerful jailers.
But nothing is news to God so bringing it out into the open allows God to sort out with me, all my mixed-up feelings, and I can move on. Something along the lines of:

‘forgive what we have been, help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be…’

Rather than viewing our days in isolation as a ‘problem’, may we see them as an ‘opportunity’…

Truth is… Come back and quietly trust in me, then you will be strong and secure (Isaiah 30:15)