M. R. Wells, page 5
Still, I was extremely scared. It didn’t help when I heard the anesthesia they were using was the same drug that had gone so wrong with Michael Jackson. My anesthesiologist assured me it was excellent when used correctly. It would put me out instantly and I would awake as soon as it was stopped. My surgeon came in and got me laughing, and that helped. I’m not sure exactly when I went under. Next thing I knew, I was conscious and my surgeon was showing me the inside of my knee on a screen.
I’d been told if I felt pain during the procedure, I could say so and be put to sleep again. I doubted I’d want it that way. I was wrong. I started hurting. I said so—twice. When I “came to” again, the procedure was over. And my long-standing anesthesia phobia, though not gone, was greatly lessened.
Willie’s a dog. Elly can’t sit down and reason with him. She can’t talk him down from his trauma, or even find out what it was. But I’m a human. I have reasoning powers. And I have a loving God who has given me a whole host of His promises. Even so, I hung onto my fear. But instead of being angry or disgusted, God met me with understanding and love and gently worked me through it.
I wonder if Joshua had cold feet when he had to step into Moses’s shoes and lead the Israelites into Canaan. We can’t know—but we do know God kept reassuring him. In the first chapter of Joshua, God urges him to be strong and courageous three times in four verses. I don’t think biblical courage means the absence of fear—I think it means being willing to obey God regardless. I believe God understands our fears and is waiting to graciously free us from them step by step if we will put our trust in Him.
Willie trusts Elly as much as he can, and her love covers the rest. God will lovingly work with us too, if we ask Him. No matter how great your fears may be, you can entrust them—and yourself—to a caring God who is bigger!
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).
What are your greatest fears in life? Where did those fears come from? How have you tucked your toes or fled through the doggie door to escape what scares you? How might God be calling you to be strong and courageous instead? What Scriptures might encourage you in this?
The Dog That Stuck Closer Than a Brother
Love the Extra Mile
Friendship isn’t a big thing—it’s a million little things.
My husband, Steve, and I both grew up near Bakersfield, California. After spending our first year of marriage elsewhere, we moved back. We lived in a little farmhouse next door to the home where Steve had grown up. This is where we adopted our first puppy.
McPherson was a beautiful shepherd mix we got from Steve’s dad. He helped prepare me for the children we would have. He taught me how to be responsible for someone other than myself by feeding and caring for him. When Steve returned from a long day at work or I hauled a carload of groceries home, McPherson would be there to greet us. He didn’t understand that we had to take care of ourselves. In his mind, we’d come home to play with him, so that’s what we should do. There was no time to waste. Someone had to throw him a ball or roll with him in the grass.
From puppyhood, McPherson went to work with my farmer husband, learning how to catch gophers. He also learned to protect, like a good dog should. McPherson would bark whenever a stranger entered our yard. If he felt unsure of a guest, he would stay watchfully by the door until the person left.
McPherson was protective of our children too. He watched them in his wonderful canine way, playing with them, loving all of us as we loved him.
He helped teach unconditional love by loving unconditionally himself. It never mattered how we looked or how we were feeling. He was always there to greet us and make us feel good to be home.
McPherson was just a puppy when my dad died. So was I. I was 21 years old then. When I was especially lonely for Dad, McPherson seemed to feel my pain. I remember sitting on the porch one day, watching a tractor plowing a field across the street. I’m sure McPherson would rather have been chasing after the tractor, but he stayed by my side and let me pet him, comforting me by his closeness and sweet spirit. As we sat, I remember seeing a kitty playing nearby. McPherson did too, but he remained with me. When I finally stood up, I hugged him and he seemed to hug me back. Then he gleefully ran after the kitty, not to hurt him but to play with him, for they were friends.
When we inadvertently ignored him, McPherson would either stay close beside us or gently walk away—but he never seemed angry. He was an incredibly loving dog. It was a comfortable evening to sit with him and tell him how I was feeling or share thoughts that no one else needed to know.
When McPherson was older, he didn’t go out as much because of his arthritis. But he was sure glad when Steve got home so he could play a little ball and then sit with Steve to be petted and enjoy time together.
McPherson was a great friend—a dog that stuck closer than a brother. When he died he was over 12 years old. He had worked hard and played hard and taught us many life lessons. We all cried when we lost him. We still miss him to this day.
Arnold was a great friend too. He had been close to my parents and was a good buddy of mine until he died. Our families went camping together and spent many weekend evenings enjoying a barbecue and his favorite homemade ice cream.
Just before I got married he brought over a straw broom and dustpan. He handed them to me and said, “Connie, when Steve comes home I want you to always have these in your hands so he knows you have been cleaning the house.” It was a joke—but it was also a sweet, loving gesture. He took the time to go to the store, buy these things, and drive 14 miles to my parents’ home to give them to me. That was over 39 years ago, and is still a precious memory.
Arnold drove a big, beautiful 18-wheel truck. He worked hard all his life. After many years he had to give up truck driving. He decided to put this truck we all loved on the market. My family considered buying it, but none of us had the funds for such a large unneeded possession. Arnold talked about his truck until the day he died. In fact, the man who bought it brought it to Arnold’s funeral so everyone could see it again. It had been to many antique truck shows and won many prizes.
Before Arnold’s illness kept him at home, he and his wife, Salome, were in my Sunday school class. Talking to him and listening to his low, slow speech was so comforting after both my parents died. I knew through the years he always loved me unconditionally—just as McPherson had. Arnold mentored me in unconditional love and taught me to take life more slowly and with a smile.
McPherson and Arnold were both loyal, loving, and sincere, and I thank God that I could count them my friends and that both were part of my life.
God understands how important friends are and the Bible talks about it. Friends teach us, guide us, love us, and tell us when we go wrong. They come to our aid when we need help and listen when we need to be heard. Proverbs 18:24 says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
McPherson and Arnold were those kinds of friends. I will remember McPherson’s non-condemning spirit and his always-loving attitude. I will remember Arnold’s calming and soothing effect on my life and his always-sweet smile. My life is richer for knowing them both and they will always be in my heart.
A friend loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17).
Have you ever had a pet or human friend that stuck closer than a brother? What made your friendship special? How has this pet or person been there for you? What qualities do you treasure in this special friend? What have you learned that can make you a better friend yourself? What do you still need to work on?
Tales to Stretch Your Faith
The Dog Not Chosen
God Works in Miraculous Ways
There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
Jazzmin was “the dog not chosen”…because she was chosen. Are you confused yet? Humanly speaking, you should be. But it was all part of God’s perfect plan to place this dog in a very special family He desired to bless.
My dear friend Val is part of that family. She was the first to see Jazzmin. At the time she had a husband, three sons, one elderly Beagle, and a pet lizard. The two younger boys had been helping out at a woman’s home, and her Rottweiler had had a litter. She offered them a puppy.
That was not the kind of dog Val felt would suit their family. For years, she’d had it in her head to get an Airedale terrier. But she and her husband were working for an urban ministry. Pricey dogs weren’t in their missionary budget.
Then one day Val was at the pet store, buying food for the lizard. She was stunned to see an Airedale puppy there. Normally, such dogs weren’t found in pet shops. The female puppy was between two and three months old and cost a thousand dollars. Val sensed that this dog was supposed to join her family—but no way could they pay that.
Val left the dog in the store—and prayed. It was early July. Time passed. The puppy didn’t sell. The dog was growing…and the price was shrinking. Val kept checking. By late August, the Airedale’s price had dropped to five hundred dollars. But it was still more than Val’s family could manage. All this time, she’d continued to speak to the Lord about this puppy. Now she asked a salesperson what happened if a dog didn’t sell. She was told that sometimes the dog was sent to their other store—and sometimes the pooch was simply given away.
Another week or two passed. The puppy still had no takers. Val went in and talked to the manager. She observed that the puppy was getting way too big for her cage. What would they let the dog go for?
To her shock, the manager told her she could have the dog for 99 dollars! Val told the fellow to wrap her up. They gave the pup a bath and a bow and Val took Jazzmin home. She proved to be the perfect pet for Val’s boys, and thirteen years later, Jazzmin is still a treasured member of the Parker family.
Val knows Jazzmin was an answer to prayer and a miracle gift from God. His miracles come in all different shapes and sizes. The one God did for a certain prophet in ancient Israel came in the shape of an ax head.
This man was part of a company of prophets-in-training. The famous prophet Elisha was their mentor. At a certain point, they felt they needed larger quarters to meet in, and with Elisha’s blessing, they started on the task.
The building site was a spot by the River Jordan. As they were chopping down trees, one prophet’s iron ax head fell into the river and sank. This poor man’s heart must have sunk along with it. He cried out to Elisha that the tool had been borrowed.
We might not think that losing an ax head is any big deal. But this was an expensive item in those days. It’s possible that in order to earn the funds to replace it, this fellow might have had to drop out of “prophet school.”
Elisha’s response was swift and sure. He knew he served a God of miracles. He asked his student to show him where the ax head sank. Second Kings 6:6-7 records what happened next: “Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. ‘Lift it out,’ he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.”
The same God who made iron float is still doing miracles today. He hasn’t changed. Val knows it every time she looks at Jazzmin. But not everyone might have recognized that this dog’s price was slashed by God’s hand. In our culture, we are more prone to mislabel God’s miracles “coincidences,” or neglect to look for them at all.
Val and her family were twice blessed by the miracle of Jazzmin. They were blessed by the dog, and by the knowledge of God’s love and care. Will you watch for His hand in your life, so His miracles can bless you too?
You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples (Psalm 77:14).
How has God worked in miraculous ways in your life and family? How did this build your faith? Have you shared these miracles to encourage others? How might you be more alert to future miracles God might do for you?
The Beagle and the Bus
Come to God as Little Children
All children are artists. The problem is
how to remain an artist once he grows up.
One day when Alex was in elementary school, he opened the door to go outside to wait for the morning school bus. Hearing the familiar hinges creak, the family escape artist (also known as Pepper the Beagle) bolted out the door. Fortunately, Alex’s family didn’t live on a busy city street. Cornfields, not skyscrapers, surrounded their farmhouse in this rural part of Pennsylvania. There was a better chance of Pepper being hit by an Amish buggy than a speeding SUV.
Little Alex tried to give chase, but Pepper was long gone. As Alex’s mom took him out to wait for the bus, Alex worried Pepper would never return. His mom tried to reassure him that dogs could instinctively find their way home, but she couldn’t hide the fact that she was worried too. She didn’t want to make promises she couldn’t keep. It was up to God to bring Pepper home.
Alex said a prayer.
Then, off in the distance, Alex’s big yellow school bus approached from around a bend. Alex could only make out the top half of the bus because the bottom half was hidden by acres of corn. The odd thing was, the bus was moving very slowly, literally crawling along the road.
Alex and his mom wondered what could be the matter. Did the bus have a flat tire? Was it in need of repair?
As the bus came around the bend, Alex and his mom did double double takes. There, in front of the bus, proudly leading it down the middle of the road was…their runaway Beagle! The pup was 100 percent resolute in holding her leadership position, and the bus driver made no effort to honk her away. As the bus neared, Alex could see the driver’s expression—not a trace of irritation or impatience, just a bemused smile.
The bus pulled up to Alex’s driveway. Pepper raced to the front door and went back inside the house. No biggie. Business as usual for Super Dog. This year lead a bus, next year, perhaps drag home a 747?
Alex felt he’d witnessed a miracle. His mom told him Pepper hadn’t run away after all, but had taken the initiative to fetch the bus. As Alex rode to school that morning, he was beaming with pride. Other kids’ dogs fetched slippers or newspapers, but his dog delivered a whole school bus loaded with children. How cool was that?
Alex was so impressed, he wrote an essay about the miraculous event in first grade. It was entitled, “Lending a Helping Paw.” As a budding writer today, Alex remembers his piece about Pepper as his first serious literary work.
I teach screenwriting for a living. It’s the art of writing vivid, succinct word pictures that tell a story. What struck me about Alex’s memory of his Beagle and the school bus were the visuals. I can see the movie poster. Cornfields for as far as the eye can see. A big yellow school bus being led by a Beagle. Pepper strutting like the Music Man leading a parade of 76 trombones. The theme is the big and powerful being humbled and schooled by the small and weak.
It’s a familiar theme in the Bible and there are a lot of great stories to illustrate it. One such story finds Jesus with His disciples, engaged in serious discussion about who can get into the kingdom of heaven—when they are interrupted by a gaggle of eager parents hauling their children over so Jesus can bless them.
The disciples are bugged that their quality time with the Master is being interrupted by a bunch of noisy rugrats. After all, Jesus isn’t some mall Santa and perhaps He was about to reveal a big secret about the kingdom of heaven.
Here’s what the Bible says in Matthew 19:13-15 (NLT): “The disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.’ And he placed his hands on their head
I can imagine the egg dripping off the faces of the high and mighty disciples! All their years of learning and study, all the hundreds of hours they’d listened to Jesus, all the meditation and heartfelt prayers—all good but in a moment, turned upside down and inside out. Little children leading them to insights about the kingdom of heaven!
And Jesus wasn’t merely instructing the disciples through book knowledge. He had personal experience in the matter of being a gifted child. On a family trip to Jerusalem to attend the Passover festival, 12-year-old Jesus was accidentally left behind by His parents. When they came back to look for Him, they didn’t find Him at the local playground or in the ancient equivalent of a video game arcade—no, they found their adolescent boy in the temple, interacting with an assemblage of religious teachers and wise men. This “tween” wasn’t twiddling His thumbs or daydreaming. The Bible says He was an active participant in the discussion: “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:47).
If you want to know the deepest secrets about the kingdom of heaven you need to be like a little child. You need to have the mindset of a Beagle who believed she could fetch and lead a school bus. It is the power of innocence and meekness and utterly childlike faith.
Thank God for dogs and kids. Without them we’d have a much harder time figuring out the great and unsearchable mysteries of God.