Goodbye, Sweet Bear

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. Theodor Geisel. Better known as Dr. Seuss.

Bear was two months shy of his fifth birthday last August when we received the news he had one month to live. The diagnosis of lymphoblastic sarcoma came two weeks before Pilot and I set out with Bear on a 10-day vacation through Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. By my calculations, that meant Bear might not make it back home.

This past month the cancer aggressively attacked. On Friday, March 31, 2017 the cancer won, and after a heart-wrenching decision to spare him anymore pain, Bear was euthanized.

When our vet first mentioned the word cancer, I pleaded with God to take away the cancer and spare Bear — and Pilot and me — from this early, unexpected death of our beloved dog.

To say Pilot, or I, either one slept that night, and did not shed a flood of tears as we struggled with God’s will in this situation, would be a lie. The same would hold true now as we struggle to move on without our pup and close companion. We’ve been through the death of our dogs before. We know the tears will continue to flow and the pain will resurface raw as the last time we held him, especially during the former “routines” we shared with Bear.

 

Routines like waking up, and not seeing his face and wagging tail to greet us. Not having him to go get the paper or take that early morning walk with. Taking rides in the car and not being able to tell him to “hold on” as we turn left into our neighborhood. Coming home and not finding him waiting at the front door, or watching how excited he got when Pilot’s car pulled into the driveway after work.

The list of missed routines goes on, and so will the hurt. I think what makes it especially difficult is the fact this is the first time in twenty-five years Pilot and I don’t have a dog.

After we received the sad news of Bear’s diagnosis, we overloaded him with his favorite treats. One of Pilot’s co-workers made special heart-shaped doggie cookies for Bear when she heard the news, and another gave Bear multiple bags of chicken jerky treats. That stuff was like crack cocaine for him.

 

One of Bear’s favorite things to do was go to Dairy Queen, drive up to the window, show the worker inside he was there, and receive his puppy cup of soft-serve vanilla ice cream. While we sat on the floor in the vet’s office last Friday and talked with him about Bear, before Bear received his injections, I mentioned we’d taken Bear to get a puppy cup three days earlier. As soon as I said, “puppy cup”, Bear’s head swiveled my direction. He knew exactly what puppy cup meant.

Like Pilot said the morning after Bear died; we won’t need to spell anything now to keep Bear from knowing what we’re talking about. He was one smart pup.

During the beginning of our trip last September I worried and I fretted.

What if Bear died while we were on the road? Would we find a veterinarian? What would we do with his body?

While I what-ifed, I left God out of the equation. I prayed Bear would make it home, but I feared he wouldn’t. I had a lot of trouble leaving the situation in God’s hands.

The Saturday before we left on our trip I read a devotional that should have comforted me immediately, but it took over a week on the road before I internalized what I read, grabbed hold of the truth, constantly reminded myself of it, and hung on with all my might.

The devotion asked these four questions:

Is Jesus with me during this situation?

Has Jesus handled difficult situations for me in the past?

Can Jesus handle this situation?

Will the outcome of this situation affect my salvation?

These are four excellent questions to ask ourselves no matter what difficult situation we face. These are questions I continue to ask as Pilot and I seek God’s comfort and peace.

 

Bear didn’t die as quickly as the vet predicted and his longevity is a puzzlement. As with all the dogs we shared our hearts and home with, Pilot and I value each and every second we had with Bear. We did everything we could to make his final days as pleasant as possible, and we try to remember … don’t cry because Bear’s life is over, but smile because he was in our lives.

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“… he will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4 (NLT)

I wish you well,

Sandy

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One of my posts is scheduled to appear on Inspire a Fire April 4, 2017. Please stop by and read it.

Expectations and Inconsistencies

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Whenever Bear rides in the car and we slow down to speak with someone inside the open window of a building, he has certain expectations. Because of past experiences with drive-through restaurants, Bear expects the person at the window will hand him a puppy cup full of creamy vanilla soft serve Dairy Queen ice cream when we reach them. Usually, Bear is correct about what he can expect, but not always.

The bank teller does not hand out puppy cups. Neither do the employees at the taco restaurant, nor does the pharmacist at the drug store. Each time we pull away from one of these places without his puppy cup, Bear looks at us as if to say we forgot something. His disappointment is evident. Bear’s expectations were not met, and he can’t understand what happened.

The inconsistency between driving to an open window and receiving a puppy cup, compared with going through the exact same motions and not receiving a puppy cup can be downright cruel.

Who knows? This inconsistency could cause Bear to distrust and be disillusioned. But drive-through windows are not the only inconsistencies in life. People can also be inconsistent in their behavior and in their speech.

Whether we like it or not, if we call ourselves followers of Jesus, people expect certain behaviors from us. They also expect us to refrain from certain behaviors. Just as Bear faces inconsistencies when the person inside the drive-through window does not give him a puppy cup, when those watching how we live come face to face with inconsistencies between how the Bible says we should act, and how we act, it can leave those watching us confused, distrusting, and disillusioned. They expect one thing, but see something totally different.

Christians are told to be salt and light to a world in darkness. Praise and cursing should not come from the same mouth. We are to live in such a way others are drawn closer to Christ. We must know Jesus and who he is before we can be like him. That only happens when we study how the Bible tells us to live, and actually do it.

When people drive up to our window expecting to receive a puppy cup, that’s exactly what we should give them.

How do you stay consistent in your walk with God?

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Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? James 3:10-11 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Let God Lead

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Our dog, Bear, likes to lead. He isn’t fond of being led. I attribute this to the fact he truly is an intelligent animal. Not all that obedient, but intelligent, nonetheless.

Bear believes he knows where we are headed when we go for a walk. He thinks it’s up to him to set the pace and direction. Bear strains against his leash and tries to pull us his way, his pace, urging us to follow his lead. Only, more times than not, he doesn’t know where we’re going, and he doesn’t know the pace we want to set.

As aggravating and annoying as it is when Bear behaves this way, I can’t get too upset with him. You want to know why? Because I’m very much like Bear, and perhaps you are too.

We’re intelligent creatures. We know what’s best. We have a plan, and set a pace to get where we’re going. We don’t need to follow anyone. Sometimes we head off down a wrong path, and urge God to follow and bless the way we’ve chosen instead of following God’s lead. Sometimes we set a time frame for achieving our goal, and don’t pay a bit of attention to the pace God sets in his perfect timing.

When Pilot and I moved to Texas from Florida, we had a plan and a timeline. God had a different plan and timeline.

When I set out to write books, I had a plan and timeline. God had a different plan and timeline.

Walking with Bear would be so much easier if he followed our lead and went at our pace.

I believe walking with God would be so much easier if we followed his lead, and went at his pace. God leads. We follow. Simple as that. God does have our best interest at heart, you know.

Do you have trouble allowing God to lead?

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For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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There Is Power In the Name of Jesus

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Regardless of what may be binding us, there is power in the name of Jesus to break every one of the chains Satan tries to throw around us.

Addictions. Fears. Bitterness. Hatred. Depression. Sin.

They wrap around us and cause us to fall.

During the same camping trip I mentioned last month, Bear repeatedly tangled himself, and us, with the length of rope we used as a tie out for him whenever we sat outside the RV. It didn’t matter how many times we untangled the rope … and Bear … and us, he tangled himself all over again.

The reason was simple. Bear kept behaving the same way with no change.

Sort of like us.

Jesus untangles us through his power and breaks every chain, but if we don’t change our behavior, we end up in a mess all over again.courtesy bing

At the name of Jesus, Satan has to flee. He is no match for the power of Jesus.

The devil is a defeated foe. We need to act like it though, and quit wandering around in the same circles over and over and over until we get ourselves tangled and enchained once more.

Because of God’s love for his creation and his boundless mercy, we have the power through Jesus to cast off the chains that bind, and keep us from being the people we were created to be. We have the hope of eternal life with him because Jesus rose again from the dead.

This is God’s gift of grace for those who believe and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.courtesy bing

When we find ourselves weighed down by the chains of our sins, Jesus’ power can untangle our lives and remove the chains if we let him.

Ready for the chains to fall?

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 All honor to God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; for it is his boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family. Now we live in the hope of eternal life because Christ rose again from the dead. And God has reserved for his children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will make sure that you get there safely to receive it because you are trusting him. It will be yours in that coming last day for all to see. So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here. 1 Peter 1:3-6 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Be Watchful

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Well, our resident opossum is back and Bear is not happy. I don’t know where Mr. Possum goes between visits, but Bear believes it is his responsibility to send the intruder away.

It’s bad enough for our poor dog the cat across the street spends his evenings curled up  on the chair on our front porch, but the backyard is Bear Territory. No varmints allowed.

Bear takes this intrusion into his yard seriously. He wakes up at 2:30 am many mornings to sniff out violators of his space and secure the perimeter.

I have no idea why Bear believes 2 am is the prime time for possum chasing, (and skunk investigating) but I know Pilot wishes he’d make his rounds in the daylight hours.

As I ponder Bear’s vigilance, I wonder how well we stay on guard against those things that go bump in our nights.

No, I’m not talking about bats again. I’m talking about those spiritual attacks that can come out of nowhere and catch us snoozing with our defenses down. Things that by themselves might seem innocent, things we can rationalize away, but if allowed to become a habit, can turn unhealthy.

The following is in no way exhaustive, and I’m sure you can add to the list, but I’ll just mention a few.

  • We eat lunch with a co-worker of the opposite sex more often than we should. They understand when our spouse doesn’t after all, so what’s the harm in that?
  • We watch shows and movies we know don’t line up with God’s word. How else can we know what our friends are discussing?
  • We read books and magazines that would make our grandmother blush. We need to stay current with the trends, right?
  • We lose our temper, become angry, and spew harmful words that we can’t take back. Can we help it if we have a short fuse?
  • We decide it won’t hurt to skip church today, or next week, or the week after that. I can worship God anywhere, right?

In 1 Peter we’re told to be watchful because the devil prowls like a lion looking for someone to devour. After Paul tells us to put on the armor of God so we can stand against Satan in Ephesians 6, he tells us to remember to pray at all times.

Just as Bear is vigilant to protect our perimeters from intruders, we need to be watchful against spiritual intruders that threaten to undo us. The Bible tells us how. All we need to do is follow it.

courtesy bing

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 Pray all the time. Ask God for anything in line with the Holy Spirit’s wishes. Plead with him, reminding him of your needs, and keep praying earnestly for all Christians everywhere.  Ephesians 6:18 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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