Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lent Now 100% Guilt Free!

Well at least for me it is – maybe for everyone it is and always has been.  I didn’t grow up Catholic, I grew up Southern Baptist – we didn’t have Lent in the Southern Baptist Church.  My mom grew up Catholic and she talked about Catholic rites as if they were all meant to make you feel guilty, so that’s where a lot of MY impressions come from (forgive me my Catholic friends if I’m wrong). 

Anyway, my husband was also raised Catholic and although we are now non-denominational Evangelicals, he usually gives something up for Lent every year and I make fun of him every year and tease him about feeling “Catholic guilt” while he does it.

This year our 5-year old son started going to Catholic grade school.  It’s a great school and we love it.  He goes through many of the traditions of the Catholic church and we have talks with him about what they mean and why the Catholic church does them but his church doesn’t and that it doesn’t matter because in the end we all believe in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice as our Savior, thus uniting us all as Christians.  But as we discussed Lent this year, starting with Ash Wednesday and giving up something for the Lenten season, I realized that maybe there was something a bit more to all this Lent stuff.  So in solidarity with my husband and to show Zachary what Lent is all about I decided to take Lent seriously this year and really give something up (besides lima beans or liver – which of course I don’t eat anyway).  So I gave up chocolate and Starbucks. 

As I started the season it was not that easy, I like both chocolate and Starbucks.  But I very quickly realized that giving up something for Lent was not about sacrifice to feel loss or suffering.  It was about giving up something so that just when you start to bitch and whine about what you don’t have you think about what Jesus sacrificed for you and then realize how much He loves you.  I’m willingly giving up an experience I greatly enjoy for 40 days, Christ suffered and gave His mortal life, took on our suffering because he loves us.  That makes me feel happy, warm, hugged – loved.  No guilt.  The best part – I think about that several times a day because I gave up two things I really like and think about having several times a day so it’s like getting a hug from Jesus several times a day.  What a blessing!  Lent ROCKS!  Who knew????

As my sister pointed out actually the best part is that after going through that sacrifice He still gave us chocolate and Starbucks.  Yeah, that’s pretty cool.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Love of a Good Dog

As anyone who knew our previous dog knows - she was a saint.  After reading "Marley & Me" by John Grogen, we have started calling her just that - "St. Kayla".  Kayla was one of those dogs that makes other people want dogs - and she was my girl.  Yup, she lived to be by my side and I LOVED it.  If I was ill, she laid by my bedside until I got up, forsaking food, water, walks.  If I left the house she pouted until I came home, "making do" with Paul.
She protected me when ever someone outside the family came near.  Quietly inserting herself between me and them, just in case.  She never complained about ANYTHING.  Not once.  Not even when she was lonely, had a full bladder or was in pain.  Yup, she was a Saint.
She often traveled to Chicago with us (a 12 hour drive, sometimes in the back seat of a VW Beattle) and really, she never complained - SAINT.
Ok, she did have the occasional run at the garbage or chew the occasional Thomas the Tank toy and she would bark at ANYTHING that walked by HER house.  So she had a couple of un-saintly qualities.  But all in all she was the perfect dog.  Ask anyone - they all loved her.  Even my in-laws who would ASK us to bring her with us when we visited.
So after Kayla passed away and I wanted a new dog I was of course concerned that I would never have the love of another dog like I had with Kayla.  
Well, Rosie came bounding into our lives and of course it was not the same.  But I took for granted that although we got her for Zachary, she would be my dog.  I walk her every day, I feed her, I make sure she has what she needs.  And just this week Rosie started showing that deep, devotional love that dogs show for their masters - that "Kayla" love - but it wasn't for me - it was for Zachary.  
Zachary had his first drum lesson this week and I put Rosie in the dining room with me so she wouldn't be a distraction, but Rosie wouldn't have it.  Someone she didn't know was in the living room with HER boy.  She whined, she cried, she pawed at the gate until I put her back in her crate where she could keep an eye on Zachary and his teacher.
And then I realized something I didn't even consider - I love that dog with all my heart, not because she has "Kayla love" for me, but because she has it for my son and I can't imagine anything better than Zachary growing up with a best friend in Rosie like I had in Kayla.  She's not a saint yet - far from it, but Rosie grew a whole bunch in my eyes this week.  She's a good girl.  She's Zach's girl.  Good dog.