Do You Want Love?

Toby first came to our home at the age of a year and a half, and he’d had little training. In fact, his behaviour was so awful that I tried to find a rescue place to take him. None would because of his history.

You might wonder how we ended up with him. His family couldn’t control him so tried to give him away, but the perspective owners returned him. My neighbor heard their plight and remembered me mentioning I’d like to have a Doodle and he called me.

I brought Toby home on a trial, and it hadn’t gone well. I told my hubby, “I’m not willing to let this dog’s bad behaviour win.” 

I found an online trainer who teaches ‘Five Golden Rules’ and implemented them with Toby. He still went nuts when he saw any kind of delivery truck or uniform, but we saw a huge improvement within four months. After two-and-a-half years, he still only responds to the command to come occasionally. 

Each morning when my hubby and I finish reading the Scripture and praying, our dogs go into their morning routine of asking/demanding their morning run. My hubby usually takes them to a nearby lake where they can run to their heart’s content.

Last Monday they returned from their run, and Toby was limping. I examined his front legs but found no sign of injury. A few minutes later, I noticed him watching me and knew something wasn’t right. I went over to examine him again and this time I spotted blood, not on his leg, but on his chest. As I examined closer in his long curly hair, I found a gaping wound.

I grabbed my purse, car keys, and beckoned Toby to follow me to the car. We drove the twenty miles to the veterinarian to find his regular vet and tech were on vacation. 

I explained what had happened — he’d been running in a field, stopped, and yelped in pain. My hubby spotted rebar protruding about four inches from a gate. He thought Toby had injured his leg, as his fur was on the rebar, and he limped.

While I spoke with the folks at the veterinarian clinic, Toby leaned into me like a small child, but allowed the tech and vet to look at his wound and reluctantly let them take his temperature. The vet said, “We must clean it out and we’ll staple it so it can drain. We won’t put him under.” Having worked in an ER, I understood the process, and knew Toby would be uncomfortable, but we had to take care of him.

The vet and the tech both tried to get him to follow them to the back. They called him and commanded him to ‘come’, but he stayed at my side, leaned into me. 

“Ask him if he wants l-o-v-e” I said spelling out the word.

The vet said, “Toby? You want l-o-v-e?” 

No response. The tech understood what I meant, and she said, “Toby? Do you want love?”

He glanced at me, and I nodded and patted him. “It’s okay.” 

He reluctantly followed them to the back.

He astounded both women when he responded to the offer of love. They cooed over him, petted him and fussed over him. The tech said, “That’s so sweet! He comes to love!” The vet said, “Oh my, how precious!” His response won their hearts.

On the other side of the door, I heard Toby cry when they were putting in the staples. I frequently hum or sing at home and he responds to my voice. I hummed, knowing he could hear me, and he immediately quieted.

I hadn’t taught Toby to respond to love. He taught me. He’d lean into me, or place his head in my hand and I’d say, “Oh, you want love?” When I’d told my hubby that he may never respond to ‘come’, but he would respond to, ‘do you want love,’ we played a game where we’d each love him, then the other would ask him and he’d go back and forth for love.

We share Christ when we have an opportunity. We could tell people that their choices are harmful or that their lifestyle is destructive. We could tell them there is something better. We could say, “Come to Christ.” That might work — probably not. But, if we offer love, maybe they’ll hear our message. 

When you think about it, God gave mankind laws we’ve never been able to keep. So He offered His Son, who offered His love. What draws us to Christ? For me, it was him stretching out his arms. That act said, “Do you want love?” 

Letter to Santa

In the mid-1990’s I took a job with the post office in Alaska. One of my favorite volunteer duties was answering letters to Santa. I purchased stamps and postcards and wrote a little note to the recipient, then had them postmarked at North Pole. One season a letter arrived from New York, New York. The writer had beautiful penmanship, and even though her first language wasn’t English, she succinctly stated her reason for writing. Her two children needed clothing. She listed their sizes and also expressed the need for food in their home. I knew I couldn’t respond with well wishes to this mother, but how could I help from thousands of miles away?
That evening, I prayed for this family, and then turned on the computer. I scrolled through lists of churches before an idea hit me — if I found one in her zip code, I could call them and share the need. Because of the different time zones I waited until the next day at lunch to make the call. After three rings, a man answered the phone. “Hello, this is Pastor (name withheld).”
“Pastor, my name is Elisa, and this will be a strange call, so please bear with me.”
He cleared his throat. “Okay. What can I do for you?”
“I work for the post office in Alaska and yesterday a letter arrived from your zip code.” I read the letter to him. “So, you can see I couldn’t very well send a postcard with well wishes. Do you think this is something your church would like to take care of? I could fax you the letter.” He asked for the address and I read it to him.
“That’s two blocks away from our church! Yes, fax me the letter because we meet in less than an hour and I know my folks will be excited to take care of this. We can buy clothes and food and gifts and deliver it to her apartment. This is the perfect Christmas opportunity!”
My heart nearly floated when I imagined this family’s response when God showed up at their door after they’d sent a letter to Santa. I never called back to find out what happened. God had put that letter in my hands and I did my part, then passed it on to let others to take joy in being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Missing Jesus

Over the years I’ve read stories and seen Christmas movies in which they inevitably find a missing baby Jesus. (One year in my own home Jesus was missing from the nativity set. We eventually located Him in bubble wrap.)

One morning as my husband and I snuggled on the love-seat reading the Bible together, I got to thinking about that missing Jesus.

“You know that’s not the first time Jesus has gone missing,” I said, totally off the topic we were reading. “Jesus went missing as a child and his frantic parents retraced their steps to find him — in his Father’s house. Where else?” (Luke 2:42-46.) I must note that I find it interesting that he’d been missing for three days.

Jesus went missing after healing a man on the Sabbath. (John 5:1-13)

Jesus also went missing when an angry crowd intended to do him harm. (Luke 4:28)

And let’s not forget the big one when Jesus went missing again — from the tomb. (Where he had been for three days.) (Luke 20:2)

It seems Jesus has a record of missing, yet He said if we want to find Him, all we have to do is seek Him. (Luke 11:9)

My pondering and the discussion with my husband about Jesus missing brought me to a question. Can people find Jesus in me? In how I speak, in how I conduct myself, in how I love others? Or would they say Jesus has gone missing again? I prayed that Jesus’ presence would always be clear in my life and that it would draw others to Him through me.

This fall my husband had a surgery that went well, but nine days later he ended up in the hospital with complications. In two months they hospitalized him three times, ran many scans, tests, procedures, and he ended up with a raging infection. Through this period our prayer was that we would walk with grace and glorify God — no matter what. At one point we both thought he might not have another day on the earth, but he pulled through. The big thing we had to focus on — we know God is with us no matter our circumstances. We know He has a plan for us. And we know He loves us.

We desire to live in a way that examples that love, and to share it with those He sends into our lives, whether it be a neighbor or even a medical care provider. We want to point people to Jesus.