Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Celebrating the End and the Beginning by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

This has been a heart-breaking year for many of us. People from all walks of life have lost jobs, homes, and life savings, all because of greed and lack of oversight. We have seen, yet, another year of bloodshed on the battlefields of two wars. I cannot help but ask myself, will we ever see the end? Even those of us who have a steady income, find ourselves afraid of the future. Will the ax fall upon our hopes and dreams? Will our financial problems ease? Will we live months and months, perhaps years, constantly holding our breaths.

Finding answers at the end of a year such as this, is not easy. Is there evidence that things will change for the better? Will our financial systems finally have oversight? Who decided that it was okay to allow so much wealth to be governed by the incompetent and the greedy? What in the world was our government thinking?! Without answerability, it is as though we simply open the bank doors, and allow the robbers in. It’s just plain stupid!!! So, how can we have hope for the future?

Well, we have a new beginning. We have a new President, a new Congress, a new Senate, and a new year, all rolled into one. For some this new administration is downright scary. President Obama seems exotic and strange. However, I have grown to realize just how much he loves this country and just how much he cares about my children’s future. My prayer for this new President is this: that God will bless him with wisdom and humility. My prayer for this Country is that we will give our new Administration a chance, even as each of us wants a chance, for ourselves and our children.

So, this next year is full of promise and trepidation. We are about to enter the center of a storm of change. Pray that each of us will meet our Maker in the eye of the storm, and cling to Him.

The Eye of the Storm

Words and Music by Jaye Lewis

Keep me, oh Lord, in the eye of the storm,
Where my heart can beat without fear.
In the silence so deep;
In the warmth of Your love;
I know that Your presence is near.

For though it is dark, and the silence so still,
Your Light still illumines the place.
You are with me, oh Lord;
You surround me with hope;
In the dark I can still see Your face.

In the eye of the storm, I can hear with my heart;
The beautiful tones of Your voice;
And though I may dread,
The destruction I hear,
In my soul, I still can rejoice.

They surround me, oh Lord, with their visions of hate;
I can see that they've singled out me!
With my hand tucked in yours;
And my hope in Your love,
I know that I truly am free!

So, I wait on the storm, with a joy in my heart
-- A gift that I know comes from You --
So, how can I fear?
I am safe in Your arms!
In the eye of the storm, You are here!

© Jaye Lewis, 1999

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Just for Today by Jaye Lewis

Just for Today by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

There are times, in our lives that we can feel everything we have worked for slipping from our grasp: perhaps a career, or a marriage, or relationships with our family and friends. No matter our financial situation, we have seen our dreams crumble, in a day. We may ask: God, why have You forgotten me? These are uncertain times. We have been told that we are in a world-wide recession (thanks for stating the obvious), and no one knows where or when it will end.

In our region, we are seeing families lose their homes, some of which have been in the same family for more than 200 years. It makes my heart ache every time I see a new House for Sale sign. Why? Why is this happening? We’ve been given the fill-in-the-blanks excuses, but we are not amazed. Like a house of cards, tumbling down, we are experiencing the falling apart of pieces of our lives.

Many times in our family, we have been at the brink of poverty so deep, we thought we would never climb out. Due to events beyond our control, everything we thought we had came to nothing. Our lives were in turmoil, and we couldn’t see the end of it. During this time, I began to compile a poem, a prayer, an understanding, that taught me that each day can be lived with greater meaning, if I lived my life just for each day. The following poem is a part of my soul which I hope will be an encouragement to you.

Just for Today

Lord, just for today
I will not fight You,
Nor anticipate Your desires for me.
Just for today,
I will be happy
Doing Your will, instead of my own.

Just for today,
I will laugh more, and complain less.
Just for today,
I will not only count,
But see my blessings.
I will remember that home is heart,
And not hearth.

Just for today,
I will not belittle myself;
Goodness knows, there are plenty of others
To do that for me.
Just for today,
I will remember that I am a child of God,
And that in belittling myself,
I belittle the One who made me.

Just for today,
I will remember that You are, not only, with me,
But that You are holding me close.
Just for today,
I will feel special to myself;
And I will love me, even as You have loved me.

Just for today,
The only person I will rescue is myself.
I will not try to save the world, just for today.

Just for today,
I will feel peace;
Knowing that there is Someone greater than I
To deal with my problems.

Just for today,
I will allow You to be God.
I will be Your reflection.
I will not try to create You, in my image.

Just for today,
I will cease to block Your love,
And I will allow the passion within me,
To embrace the lover of my soul.

Just for today,
I will remember the little child within me.
Just for today,
I will take that child out to play.

Just for today,
I will have hope in You,
And in my ability to do Your will.

Just for today,
I will let You be in control.
I will let You know more than I.
I will let You be in charge of my troubles.
Just for today,
I won't have any.

Just for today,
I will not hate.
Just for today,
I will forgive the one who hurt me.

Just for today,
I will ask God to forgive me.
Just for today,
I will let Him.

Father in heaven, help us to live each day as though it is the only day we have. Help us to focus on one thing, one day, one love. Help us to deal with what we can, and grant us the grace to let go of what we can’t. Help us to see in every sorrow, the ludicrous in our situation. Grant us laughter, and when we love may we love passionately. Help us to live each moment with honor and truth. And most of all, Heavenly Father, grant each of us a closer walk with You. © Jaye Lewis, 2000

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Time to Hold On

Hello friends,

It has taken much searching to know what to say today. I’m always overflowing with words. I can usually hand out advice in colorful metaphors, and to tell you the truth, I’m ashamed. Who am I to tell others how they should run their lives? And, honestly, it always annoys me when it is done to me.

We are living in dangerous times, and the enemies at the gate are poverty and want. One out of seven families are being evicted from their homes. Thousands of Moms and Dads, sisters and brothers, spouses and sweethearts will celebrate yet another year, without a loved one, or perhaps more. Loved ones are gone. Our children of every age have made the ultimate sacrifice. Little ones will grow up without parents. Oh, the list goes on and on. It’s hard. I know. And it’s hard to hold on while the rope is slipping between our grasp.

So why would I choose this picture of my dachshund, Happy Dog, to illustrate my message today, “Hold On.” It’s very simple. Happy Dog is the epitome of holding on in the face of adversity. Kennel cough. Mange. Two spinal surgeries, a month a part. From each of these Happy has come through with unmitigated joy. Barking. Dancing. Leaping. Loving. Always protecting and loving me. Happy not only survives, he LIVES!!

So, here is my little gift to you, the story of Happy Dog and his courage in the face of fire. Even now, he lays with a broken tail that must be surgically removed. I fully expect that Happy will survive this step also, and teach me again, how to live.

Just Hang On By Jaye Lewis

He dogs my every footstep. With each step I take, he’s right there with me, guarding me and ready to die to defend me. I have seen him take on the most aggressive vacuum cleaner salesmen. God help the one who sticks his foot in the door without invitation, because my little powerhouse of faithfulness and aggression will give that foot a fight for it’s life, shoes, socks, and laces!

Make no mistake, a dachshund may be small, but they are quick, and relentless in an attack. They aren’t called “badger dogs” without cause. In their natural habitat, a dachshund has been known to track a badger - one of the fiercest animals known - hurrying down into it’s tunnel, and locking onto it’s snout, never letting go, not even in death.

When I leave the house without him, whether it’s just a walk around the yard or a day trip to the next town, Happy will keep watch at the top of the stairs. With every sound, he will launch himself onto the back of the couch, to get a good look out of the window, to see if I’m almost home. I can hear him announcing my arrival before I even get out of the car.

“She’s home!!” he cries. “She’s home! She’s home! All is well!” As I open the door, he immediately gives me a tongue lashing, yelping with joy! I try to always have a “present” for him, and I delight at his enthusiasm, as he roots through the bag until he finds it.

Happy has a perfect bandit face, a black mask surrounded by rich, golden tan. His ice-cube nose is ever questing for a treat or just a warm place to cuddle. He has shoe-button eyes that never miss an opportunity. And when he locks those intelligent eyes onto mine, I lose all power to resist.

Happy, like all dachshunds, loves to tease and play. Every clever thing he does is simple evidence that even a woman my age can be taught “new tricks.” He brings me the ball. I throw it. He steals my slippers. I chase him. The worst thing you can do, in the face of improper behavior, is laugh! I, joyfully, failed that test long ago. I am Happy’s willing slave. No matter how dark my mood, Happy can always make me laugh.

Happy doesn’t know that there are not “badgers” lying in wait. He’s always prepared, just in case, and I have learned much from this little dog. I have learned that a faithful life is one of constant vigilance. I have learned that some things are worth fighting for, and if necessary, dying for. However, the greatest lesson that Happy has taught me, is to live my life in the moment, just as he does, ever joyful for each blessing, ever vigilant for those “badgers” that are certain to cross my path. And when life takes a nasty turn, I have learned from Happy, to grab a hold and just hang on! By Jaye Lewis

© Jaye Lewis, 2003
Father in Heaven, in this helpless, sometimes hopeless time, help us to cling to hope...the hope that only You can give. Grant us peace in knowing that You, not "man" is in charge. Let the noise of the world become powerless before Your peace of soul. Lord, show us the way. Grant us a vision of Your light, and set our feet upon the right path. Father, may You grasp our feet and make our path straight before us. We believe, Lord, help our unbelief.
With love,
Jaye Lewis

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Time to Celebrate Memories

Hello friends,
The pictures that accompany this entry are images of the most important memories of our family. On the left, you can see, what I like to refer to, as a memory tree. On the right, you see a closeup. If you double click on these pictures, you will blow up each picture so that it is easy to make out tiny toys, ornaments, and printed messages (on the blocks). I urge you and your family to do much of the same. Collect your precious memories, and celebrate every one, because that is where your treasure lies.
We have all seen, in the last month or so, just how pointless it is to cling to money and wealth. In many of our bank accounts, IRAs, and 401Ks, we have seen our fortunes, big and small, dwindle. But all is not lost, if we count our wealth in shared memories, love, kindness, hope, and faith. There are two times that faith becomes everything: the first is when we lose everything, and the most difficult is when we gain everything.
Many of us have lost so many things, jobs, opportunities, and even our homes. In my life, I have gone from poverty and want, to solvency and a future. It's scary, because the more you have, the more you have to lose. So, I must never depend upon good fortune, I can only depend on the grace of God. We did not acquire these blessings. We have sought to be obedient, believing in God's grace, and striving to honor Him with our lives.
My husband has always said that enough is as good as a feast, and yet, God has given us more. Should this be taken away (yes, I feel the ice-prickling of fear skipping along the hairs on the back of my neck) we must be willing to walk out our front door, with those whom we hold dear, and toss the keys through the door behind us, never looking back. This is easier said than done.
You see, there are many treasures I would leave behind: the trees in my yard, which I have grown from seedlings; the flowers that I would never see grow to maturity; the view of the mountains from my back deck; breathtaking sunsets and the rosy glow of dawn. I love this place, this house of my dreams. And the garden that has taken back-breaking toil and unending prayer, I would long for it, too. In the last eleven years, we have struggled, as many have, to meet every payment for this house...this land. It has been a struggle, yet here we are, by the grace of God.
We are a small family. Our pets outnumber us, and that is how we like it. Oh yes, gone is the perfectly ordered home. Our carpeting looks like it was designed by Google Earth, with bits of blue surrounded by continents of brown. We have pukers, and we have poopers. We have tender hearts, and those fierce to warn and protect. We have our invalid, Happy Dog, who is lying in his crate at my side, so that his little tail can get well, where it was injured.
The things of this earth are temporary: houses, cars, and bank accounts; but the heart and soul of a family is forever, just as I believe that our pets are. I am not afraid to love a God, who counts precious, a single sparrow. One day we will be in heaven together, and in the meantime, there are memories, both past and those we have yet to celebrate in our own way, never to be forgotten. So celebrate your memories this year. I hope you will like my little gift to you.
Christmas Memories: Creating the Christmas Toy Tower

Christmas is a time to celebrate old memories and create new ones. As we unpack our ornaments and decorate our homes, we often come across those little things that make our hearts yearn for yesterday. What do we do with all the little extras, which fail to make it onto the tree? Where will we put the gifts that our children made so long ago? What about those character ornaments? And those little toy soldiers and nutcrackers? Why not create a new Christmas memory by creating a Christmas toy tower. It's a great family project that is timeless, and it is a lovely way to celebrate the season together. Here are the step-by-step instructions.

Necessary Supplies: 3 fifty piece bags of ABC wooden blocks; 1 Styrofoam cone (the larger, the better); lots and lots of miniatures (little toys, jewelry, antiques, religious items, character ornaments, gold balls, and one special piece to go on top); 1 wooden lazy-Susan for the base, 12 - 14 inches in diameter; 1 round piece of red felt or heavy, shiny, Christmas fabric, large enough to cover lazy-Susan base; hot-glue gun and glue sticks; plastic peanuts (optional).

Step One: Cut felt or material into a circle 2 inches larger than base; lay lazy-Susan upside down on material; pull material up, using a running stitch around the edge and pulling it tight (if using felt, steam the fabric to shrink); glue down edges of fabric with hot glue, and secure to bottom edge of lazy-Susan.

Step Two: Organize blocks into Christmas messages, such as, "Merry Christmas; Joy; Peace; Love; Noel," or include your children's names, or any message you like. Hot Glue Styrofoam cone to center of base. Glue first row of blocks to the outside edge of base.

Step Three: Keeping blocks close together, hot glue row after row of blocks, with your messages facing outward, going round the cone, higher and higher, always leaning rows towards the cone shape. Fill in any gaps, around the cone, with plastic peanuts, as you work your way up. This will give your tower stability. Continue hot gluing, building upward, following the cone, and filling with plastic peanuts as needed. Don't forget to leave little ledges on each row, as you build up.

Step Four: Once your basic block tower is complete, begin to glue your miniatures, ornaments, and gold balls on your ledges. Keep things balanced by adding miniatures on first one side and then the other, since the tower will be able to be visible on all sides. Have fun with this step, and don't hurry. Assist small children, by gluing their choices where they want them to go. You can always counter balance later, if you need to. When your tower is completed, place its chosen crown of splendor on the very top. Perhaps an angel, a model airplane, or a toy drum.

The toy tower is your family's opportunity to celebrate your lives, filled with memories of Christmases past and present. Don't insist on being perfect. Think of your toy tower as a garden of memories, always celebrating a welcome surprise, at every turn. Keep it carefully for more shared joys, in the years to come. © Jaye Lewis, 2007
With love,
Jaye Lewis

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Time to Vote

Hello friends,

The photo on the left may not seem like a miracle. Just some flower buds on a dried up branch. However, this photo is particularly unique. From my own garden, with my own camera, on a freezing fall day, I took this picture of a flowering red bud, which had no business flowering that day. God works miracles. He lives in the hearts of mankind who acknowledge Him, and He lives in the lives of those who don't recognize Him. A loving touch from a warm hand. A smile from a stranger. "Eureka!!!" in the chemist's lab. A new medication for the chronically ill. Lost children that are found. All these things are the fingertips of God upon the pulse of those whom He loves. And, quite frankly, I believe that God is in the voting booth.

After forty years of voting, I have seen my candidate take the oath of office...and spent the next four to eight years regretting that I pulled the lever. I have seen my candidate lose, and I have lived to bless the day that I was wrong. I've seen Presidents who have taken a dire turn out of indecision, and I have seen a President fail out of pride. I have wept tears of triumph, and I have shed tears of defeat. I have been wrong more than I have been right.

I have never been loyal to any one party. I have accepted the defeat of my chosen primary candidate, and then I have searched the heart of another, and found him to be true. I have always voted. I have never given up on this country; yet I have seen some ugly things. I hope and pray for the beautiful. I have met no saints; yet I have stood in the presence of holiness.

Today, I voted, again. My husband voted, as did my children. We stood in line...a short line, in our neck of the woods...but I would still be standing in line had the line run for miles. Voting. It is the single most important thing a person, in a free society, can do. One vote can move mountains. George Bush, in 2000, won by less than 300 votes. One vote on the Supreme Court stopped the recount. One vote. There are many other examples of how one person, literally, changed history.

Martin Luther King. Rosa Parks. George Washington, who refused to be King, whether appointed or elected. One man. One woman. One King of Kings, Jesus Christ. If each of us is equal and important in the heart of God, then each vote matters. I would rather see my candidate lose, than to know that one person did not vote.

Yes, we've seen some ugly stuff, much of it inspiring me to vote for another. But the reason we vote is because we live in a free society! Not a good society, because we are mere men and women. But we are free.

My grandmother never voted. She told me, when I was fourteen years old. She hadn't voted, because women couldn't vote until Grandma was 36 years old. Why did she not run to the first election when she was eligible? She considered the Suffragettes "those ruffians."

"Grandma," I said. "I will vote in every election. I will always vote!" I have kept that promise, not to her, but to myself.

So, I voted today. I don't know who will be the next President of the United States. It doesn't matter who. It matters that I, and my children, and my husband, and anyone who reads this, who has voted, that we each took our stand. I cast my ballot. I voted. That's what you do in a free society.

So, if you will forgive a woman in the autumn of her life, for giving you advice, please VOTE. Don't be like my grandmother. To live the dream, is to cast a vote for what you believe. If your candidate doesn't win, well, there's another election in four years. If my candidate wins, and then disappoints me and everyone else, well, my gosh, there's another election in four years.

You see, it doesn't matter that you and I may disagree. What matters, is that we're in the same boat. It may leak, so we'd best start bailing, together. Go on. Go vote. And God bless you, as you bless America.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Time for a Paradox

Hello friends,

Don't you just hate contradictions? Things are going along, the way they're supposed to, and suddenly the halves of a whole just don't meet.

Contradictions can also be beautiful. For instance, when I met my husband, I was quite certain that we would never be more than friends. After all, I am, what some people would call, a dreamer, with an artist's temperament. Whereas Louie is practical, a realist. How different we were, and yet, we shared the same faith, although different religions. And I had children who arranged for us to fall in love. We did, and we've grown deeper in love ever since.

A paradox is something that inexplicably happens. Miracles. Faith. Love. Friendship between exact opposites. Growing up in a violent home, and rejecting violence. A relationship with God our Father, when everything you know about your earthly father, makes that connection impossible.

The picture above is a paradox. The pale-pink, Blushing Knockout rose, and the almost red, Double-Knockout rose, are both from the same shrub. Only one branch, of the pale-pink shrub rose blooms red. That strange happening, in gardening circles is referred to as a "sport." In scientific communities, this event is referred to as a mutation. I call it a miracle.

You see, everything is personal to me — my relationship with my family and, especially, my relationship with God. I see Him everywhere. I thank Him for breathtaking sunsets. I thank Him for the rosy glow of dawn. I thank Him for my wonderful family. And I thank Him for you.

I have no idea who follows this blog. Nor do I know where or to whom it is forwarded. I just know that someone, somewhere feels defeated, hurt, and alone. In my heart of hearts, that is where I go with this blog.

I have shared with you my journey, prayerfully, and paradoxically, humbly. I have shared my journey through the longest Presidential campaign that I have ever experienced in my forty years of voting. I've lost friends, because, as a Conservative, I haven't been "conservative" enough, and, as a "Caucasian," I haven't been "white" enough. For me, that is truly a paradox.

I have never judged people by the color of their skin. Yes, in spite of his cruelty, in later years, my father taught me, that no one is better than me, but I'm no better than anyone. That has stayed with me, my entire life.

Growing up in the segregated south, I never understood segregation at all. It hurt me, deeply, to witness that suffering. It was cruel; it was ugly; and it was dumb. In my whole life, I have never identified myself as belonging to a race, except for the human race. And the racism surrounding our present election, is the ugliest thing that I have ever seen.

The ignorance about Senator Obama's ethnic origin, and especially about his faith, coming from Christians who insist he is a Muslim, is downright sickening. If I call myself a Christian, and I don't recognise a Christian, well, I have bigger problems than who is going to be the next President.

We live in a garden of God's creation. Some of us have been given darker skin, and some of us have been given lighter skin. We have different colored hair, curly or straight. We have different faith's. Even within the Christian faith, there are differences. However, according to Scripture, we are all in the family of God.

Racism of any kind, is a slap in the face of God, who created each of us. I can't do it. God has blessed me with so much. And as I was growing up in the south, the kindest people in my life, were African Americans. So, how could I? How could anyone? How could I hurt anyone that way? I am tired of the way things have been. I am tired of seeing someone sell his soul for the power of the Presidency. I'm tired of the lies and the distractions, so that the electorate will not see the ugly truth.

In my region of the Appalachians, there is land that has been in one family for hundreds of years, that have been foreclosed. My husband's 401k has shrunk astronomically. Banks are not lending, so small businesses have not been able to meet their payroll. I see it. We've experienced it. I get it. My vote will not go to those who act like they have no heart. What did Jesus say? What does it profit someone, if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?

I'm not playing the game. I see the reality. Yes, this dreamer does see what is. It has been obvious for a long time. Power, in the hands of someone who worships power, is not Godly. And I wonder about the soul of a person who throws around accusations, merely to muddy the waters. Jesus said, that we should remove the board from our own eye, before we try to remove a speck from someone else's eyes.

Finally, I must say, that a paradox can be either beautiful, like the roses in my picture; or a paradox can be ugly, professing faith in God, but not following His commandments.

Love your neighbor as yourself.
You cannot say you love God, but hate your neighbor.

These are the teachings of Christ, the Son of God, my Savior. His words are always to be obeyed. I must search my heart and fight the monsters of bigotry and racism. I must, or I am doomed.

Father in heaven. I have offended You by the thoughts that I have allowed to fester in my heart. How could I? Please forgive me. Grant me the grace to understand that each of us is precious in Your sight, and may we all seek to be obedient, especially if the result is a paradox. May we be like these roses, both beautiful, yet so different. Two, and yet one.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Time for Little Dogs

Hello friends,

It's a small thing. For one thing, they're little. Courageous and fool-hardy; delicate and strong; faithful and independent; spirited and cuddly -- in the autumn of my life, I don't know what I would do without my little dogs.

Now, mind you, when everyone is home, Pixel, the fuzzy one follows Jenny from pillar to post. Helen's shadow is the little fox, Peanut. And Happy Dog, my black and tan mini dachshund, is all mine. On week-day mornings, however, after the front door closes for the last time, all the little dogs turn to me.

I cuddle them, stroke them, and keep close tabs on where they are for the rest of the day. Is Peanut lying with her face pressed into the gate, willing her mistress to come home NOW!? Is Pixel, because of her young age, feeling left out and needing extra reassurance, that she, too, is special beyond compare. At nearly eleven years old, does Happy Dog, who carries the scars of back surgery, along with atrophy in his hind end, feel replaced, because of my love for other little dogs? So, I cuddle him, for as long as he'll let me, then I toss the ball that he brings to me, while he barks his instructions.

These little dogs give more to me, than I give to them. When life gets me down; when I feel helpless to change events or people; when, yet, another friend abandons me, simply because I don't think, feel, or act in some preordained way; then I turn to these little dogs. Something, remarkable happens in my soul. I feel hope, peace, and laughter just bubbling to come forth.

Somehow they know, now is the time to make "Grammy" laugh. Now is the time for all of us to climb on board and totally take over her afternoon nap. Now is the time to tell her just how much we need and trust her. Now is the time for love.

Oh, let me tell you, with these little dogs, my life is less weary. My hopes are more possible. My dreams are not far away. And though I can't change a single thing about this old, sinful world in which we live, I can change the look of sorrow or loneliness or wistfulness upon the faces of these little dogs. I cannot change the world, but I can change a piece of it, for them.

Human friendships come and go. Prejudice and bigotry still raise their ugly heads. People identify themselves with one group or another. I don't fit in. Except for my family and a house filled with these little dogs, I am a stranger.

Jesus said, "I was a stranger, and you welcomed me." He also said, "Not a sparrow falls to the ground, that your Heavenly Father does not know, and you are worth more than many sparrows." As He measures the worth of my little dogs...Pixel-Mixel; Peanut (Bee-nah, Bee-nah); and my little dachshund, Happy Dog, I am certain this Lord of the universe, feels warmed by the love they give so willingly. I am certain that He knows their hearts and their names.

My God is a personal God. He is not looking for prayers that come from the lips, but He desires prayers that come from the heart. He longs for a relationship with me. And, as the Psalms tell us so eloquently, "as the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for You, oh Lord." My personal relationship with the Son of God, is first in my heart, just as His relationship is with me. You see, God is capable of an intimate relationship with each of us, individually. And though my comparison is pretty pathetic, when I am with my little dogs, I think of just how much God loves me...and you...and someone else. Without taking from one to give to another, God loves me.

Dear Lord, forgive my inadequate comparison to describe your love for each of us. I do love passionately, each little dog that you have placed in my care. Each is precious in his or her way. Each is irreplaceable and individual. I never thought that love could be so unique and inclusive. Perhaps I never believed I was worthy of your love. So, though it may seem sacrilegious to compare myself to You, or Your love to my passion for these little dogs, I know You understand. You, who spoke in parables, understand the allegory of this day. Thank You, my God, for Your understanding and love.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Time for Belonging

Hello friends,

There is no doubt about it. I'm not a "joiner." I find friendships complicated, and I am uncomfortable in crowds. A writer's life, out of necessity, is a solitary life. I research, and I write. It's what I do. It's what I love.

When I began to write on the internet, I was terrified. Every time I posted a story, my heart would pound, my mouth would become dry, and my hands would sweat. You see, I write, not so much with my hands or head, as I do with my heart.

Heart writing is often considered trivial...not real writing. In my past it was referred to as "emotional" or "sentimental." Well, that brings us to today. I've been pretty successful; however, I have touched more hearts than I have collected money.

Heart wounds are painful, almost unbearable. My healing has been through sharing my own defeats and triumphs. I've tried to learn from my pain, and I have tried to heal with my writing. Somewhere, someone needs to know: You are not alone; someone cares; someone has felt what you feel; someone has been you. It's a small thing, but I can remember a time when I desperately needed to know these very things. I promised, after I hit bottom, that I would do everything I could to touch the hearts of others: the alone, the lost, the afraid.

So, now you know. Outside of my family, I have no close friend, except for a dear friend from long ago. I do, however, have a husband and daughters who love me very much. I love being with them. I also have my dogs: Happy Dog, Peanut, Pixel, and Jessie; and my cat, MeowMeow. I love very hard. I put everything into it. It makes me vulnerable. So, I pour out my heart onto the page. I write to you, to simply share my day, my hopes, my aspirations, and my sorrow.

I know that I am not alone, but someone reading this may feel very alone. It's hard. These are tragic times. But I believe that we are on the threshold of a new day, and that our very best lies ahead.

Whoever you are, please don't give up. I will be praying. And though I don't know your name or your pain, God does. I say this with all my heart. Hold on. Life can be beautiful. And that is what I give to you today.

Father, bring us through these uncertain times, and grant us your peace, and a vision of safety and comfort in the days ahead.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Time for Uncertainty

Hello friends,

My bank card worked today. I held my breath. I reminded myself that the money is there, and I can depend on the FDIC, but I held my breath. These are uncertain times. They're unfair, and they shouldn't have happened, but they did. I think some of us were holding our breath all along. At least I was. Things could not have gone on, like a wild west stampede. With people hiding the truth from their own hearts, and denying the obvious.

We're not the only people who have watched their 401K shrink. We finally moved everything over to bonds. Pray that they don't fail. We're not rich, but we're not poor either, and we've been truly blessed with one another.

I knew that the economy was in trouble when the first "payday cash" places started springing up. They're the people who "hold" your personal check and give you cash, until payday. They're leeches, preying on the poor. I hate them. Oh God, what can I say? Many lives this day are windswept, just like that naked tree in the photo. I'm so sorry.

I wrote a poem seven years ago, about a time of great uncertainty, in my life. Those were dark days for me, just as this day may be dark for you. I promise you that there is One who knows and understands our hearts, even in the midst of shadow. He is the only One whom I can see will carry us through. I wish I could give you more than this.

The Journey

Each night, I'd lay upon my bed,
The pillow cradling my head,
Then, wearily, I'd 'play my mind'
With all regrets, I'd left behind.

The day before, had left me pale...
The future, where I'd, surely, fail...
The times I could have done so much...
To reach a heart, with just a touch.

I saw each one, the great and small...
The 'loved ones,' I'd not loved at all...
The hopes and dreams of all the years...
I'd concentrate upon my fears...

I'd missed each "moment" that I could,
Begin again, and done much good.
I'd see, each picture of my grief,
And "time" would steal me, like a thief.

All the joy, within my soul,..
The worship that could make me whole...
And, yet, a voice, so deep, within...
The 'Light' that shines, to heal my sin...

Calls me, forward, from the dark...
A small caress; a chance remark...
Remembered kindness from a friend...
Belief that this is not the end...

All come, at once, and I can feel,
That, surely, I've begun to heal.
I find a strength, I've never known,
Beyond myself, like 'coming home.'

I look into my loved ones' eyes,
And I, begin to realize;
That, through the dark and, tortured climb,
God has 'been there' all the time!

© Jaye Lewis, 2001

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Time for Peace

Hello friends,
I'm probably the last person who has any right to urge each of us to keep calm (I'm usually the first one to panic). When faced with some new technology, like a laptop or a camera, I'm usually dragged kicking and screaming. I hate Mp3 players, even though I use one when I'm on my treadmill. I'm a side-seat driver on the Interstate, and I have been known to sit on the floor in the back seat, so that I can only hear, not see the trucks go by. I hate people messing with my medicine, especially insurance companies, government agencies, and the substitute Pharmacist.
So, peace is a concept that I am still defining. I know what it's like to hold my puppies and get kisses all over my face. My blood pressure goes down, and I feel relaxed. I know what it feels like to pile on our bed, just our family of people and dogs, and watch our favorite movies and TV shows on DVDs, without commercials. Also relaxing, but that is not peace.
Turmoil. Wow. I practice for that. I'm an expert. I especially go wild when I try to get a hold of my credit card customer service department. You know, the people who used to be from different areas of the U.S. People who speak English. Yesterday, I received a call about my JCPenney card. Someone in very broken English, with an unmistakable Indian accent, attempted to tell me my problem. After twenty minutes of unintelligible conversation, which began to accelerate, I asked why JCPenney was now outsourcing. After a few curses on her part, she screamed at me "JCPenney does NOT outsource!" Then she hung up.
I, then, called JCPenney's customer service number. After taking 15 minutes suggesting I press this, that, and the other number, the automated teller threw me out of the system. Then I did the obviously stupid. I called another number, which was answered by a human being, with, of course, a thick Indian accent.
"Okay, Sir, my first question is this. Why is JCPenney outsourcing it's call center to India?"
"I-am-not-from-India!" He replied in a pronounced Indian accent.
"Oh really." I said. "Then where are you now?"
"Oh-I'm-from-Ohio!" He insisted.
Yeah. Yeah. So, I did some heavy Google searching, and I discovered who is actually hiring these people. They are hired much like day laborers. A call goes out for one position, and maybe a thousand Indians show up to apply. People waiting for these low tech jobs are desperate. They have a script, which they must not deviate from. That's why we never know what they are talking about, much less do they know anything about our country.
I've been insulted, threatened (which is against our laws, which, by the way, they know nothing about). So, that's where the jobs have gone, and that's part of why our country is in a terrible mess. A long list of accumulated idiocy, by our leaders, now has all of us crippled, including we in middle America. We also have 401K's, insurance, bank loans, mortgages, and college loan payments. We've been stretched like rubber bands, and we must not snap.
Strangely enough, I have, in this crisis, more peace than I could imagine. Yes, I have a husband who understands our finances, and a daughter who organizes budgets like a whiz machine. We are all contributing. Even me, with my small pension. And I'm keeping my eye on the news. I do see some panic, but strangely, I feel a peace that passes all my understanding. That peace is knowing that God, not only, is in charge, but that He will, as He always has, set our feet upon His solid path.
The picture above, is of a peaceful garden. My peaceful garden. It took years to grow out of nothing, and the little path was created by my daughter, Jenny, from bits of rock that we collected after our yard was blown up. Long story that I will share at another time. So, we decided for our peaceful garden, to use what was broken to create something beautiful. Perhaps our country can, also.
Without having any financial answers, I am certain, especially at this time, that God is in control; that He has a plan; and His plan is to bless us, and not discourage us. We do have a future!
So, now, I urge you to find that place of peace, in a garden, on a terrace, in a room by yourself, or wherever your private place is. Hold your children in your arms. Love on your pets. Take a deep breath, and let the air out slowly. You have a future, and so do I. I will be praying, not for myself, but for you. With all my heart, I know that God has hope for your future. He holds you in the palm of His hand.
Father in heaven, in a round about way, I have tried to illustrate that peace comes from within. Stumbling in my faith, I have tried to share the Hope that you give. Please let everyone believe that long before the universe exploded into history, You knew their name, and You still do. Forgive me, Lord, if I have failed you, and most of all, forgive me if I have failed those who follow this blog. Thank you, Lord, for a hope and a future, but most of all, thank You for peace in my heart.
With love,
Jaye Lewis

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Time to Serve

Hello friends,
The picture at the left has never been shared, not in the nearly eight years that I have been writing on the web. This was taken during another unpopular war, and I had decided to serve.
The reasons that a person serves, in time of war, are legion, and the incentives, especially in this one, are tempting. Some of the incentives that our government offers are: enlistment bonuses, re-enlistment bonuses, education, life insurance premiums for their family, if the worst should happen. Finally, the most powerful incentive for enlistment is the desire to serve one's country.
My desire, at the height of the Vietnam War, was simply to serve my country and to assist the soldiers and families traveling through San Francisco Airport. I believed that I was given a sacred trust to make their paths less crooked. I was faithful to my pledge, and I've never regretted my time served.
Looking at that picture, it is difficult not to notice just how young I was. At the time, at almost 21, I felt mature indeed. But the truth of the matter was that I was a babe in the woods, filled with the love of my country, and frankly, I would have taken a bullet to save the Flag that I served.
War is seldom the wisest course. Diplomacy, from a position of strength, must be exhausted first. Otherwise, the young men who crossed through my desk, would have spilled their blood for someone else's glory. Glory is never a reason to start a war.
After diplomacy, our leaders must use wisdom, and wisdom dictates that a war that is entered into rashly, will only come back and strike us. The Bible is certainly clear about this.
But, I was not making the decisions for government in 1967, and I'm not now. So, in case you don't understand why we served then, and why others have served, and still serve, now, I will tell you.
A father serves to protect his family from possible harm; a mother serves, so that she can keep her children safe. And there are many other reasons one serves. None serve for the money. Trust me. I was in the military, and I was a military wife. We didn't do it for the money.
For each soldier there are personal reasons to serve, but what is in their hearts, for the most part, is a connection to every soldier who ever fought for his or her country. And, now they are serving for them, for their family, for themselves and one another. The valiant. The protector. The bearer of the torch. All these reasons and more are why we served, and why they still serve.
So, when you see a Soldier, an Airman, a Seaman, a Marine, or anyone else who serves, with your heart in your throat, go up to them and simply say "thank-you," because he or she serves, so that your children don't have to.
War. I hate it. I hate those who sign the proclamation, as though no one will have to pay the price. Certainly not their children! I hate the ones who start keeping a tally on just how much they will make on their war products. I hate the "glory speeches," because they don't speak of the lives lost, and the maimed who will have to go on, while wondering why.
So, now you know. I served. I gave my best. I was a United States Navy WAVE, during the Vietnam War. And history has forgotten me, as so many of the sacrifices made today will be forgotten.
My ultimate belief is that God keeps short accounts. He exposes the lies, and he punishes those who have caused His "little ones to stumble." That is what I comfort myself with in the night. His comfort. His forgiveness. His understanding. His kindness and love.
Thank you, Father, that we have You to cling to. Thank You for keeping us in the shadow of your wings. Lord, we know that we can trust you to expose the lie, and make truth triumphant. These are the things for which I pray.
With love,
Jaye Lewis

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Time to Sift

Hello friends,
Have you ever noticed that there are times one must stop, look at their lives, and take stock of where they are putting their energies. My energies, as with many others, are expended with the ones, and the things, that I love. My family, my dogs, my garden, and my God. Now, what's wrong with that sentence? Seems okay, but looking closely, my relationship with God came last. That's not where my heart is supposed to be. It's not even where I wish to be. So, now, I must sift all the important things in my life, not into the right order, but into the right Spirit.
I've tried living up to the world, and I have to tell you, there's not much out there that changes hearts. The only heart-changer in my life has been God. He must come first, or nothing else has any meaning.
The next most important thing, in my life, is my husband and our personal relationship. Am I jeopardizing it through self-centered ways, pride, self-pity, or unexpressed anger? Louie has taught me how to love without taking; how to receive with a joyful heart; and how to forgive without withholding. These are not lessons that the world teaches.
Then come my daughters: beautiful souls; lovely faces; voices of kindness; and nurturing hearts. These illuminating lights of God's grace have given me devotion that fills me with wonder. It is impossible for me not to marvel at their generosity of spirit.
Now, come my dogs: my big-hearted, stubborn, whale of a dog, more sensitive than his size suggests. He's been known to creep under my feet, and when I lose my balance and stagger near him, he leaps up screaming. This further insures full body contact, that sends me reeling, as Jessie streaks over to his safe spot. It can take days to heal his timid heart.
Happy Dog, my heart, my laughter, my protector, my baby, my friend, he is all of these. Peanut, an adorable fox-like Pomeranian, with Titian gold hair, and a joyful grin. She is my precious girl. Pixel, our newest arrival, full of mischief and a marvelous deductive mind, that is engaging to see.
And then there is me. That would be where gardening comes in. I love my gardens. I love not knowing, and then finding out. I love failing, only to try again. I love getting dirty. I love collecting earthworms from one place and moving them to another. I love the cool morning breeze upon my face, and best of all, watching things grow. Trees, now 20 feet high were grown from seedlings. Dahlias that I planted as seed, are now blooming.
These are the seasons of my life: My God, my husband, my daughters, my pets, and myself. Taking care of myself is the hardest thing I do. But I don't want to risk a shortened life, because I would not make the hard choices for my health.
Today is a time for sifting my behavior into an attitude of God's will. You see, the diabetes that I had so carefully controlled, has changed. Now, it is in control of me. My doctor and I have begun a new treatment, which still includes diet and exercise. I don't like this. I want to be in control. So, today is a time to sift.
Father in heaven, I'm not worthy of your favor, but I thank You for blessing me with it anyway. May You bless those souls who look in on my journey with You.
With love,
Jaye Lewis

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Time for Perspective

Hello friends.

The picture on the left is one that I have been longing to share. This is the little stone knife that I have written about before. Thousands of years ago, this little knife meant something special to its owner. Was it ceremonial? Was it a weapon of war? Did it belong to a boy? Or a woman?

Except for the back end, which obviously went into a handle of some sort, the edges are dull. The point was either broken or the wages of time have taken its toll. So, who owned this knife before I found it in the soil of our property? And where was this person from?

One of the fallacies of our human nature is to imagine that we are first. First to land on the moon. First to buy the land. First in our own imagination, and, of course, we are the best. But, people came before us. If you check in with the National Geographic Society, even the Neanderthal had a gene marker (actually a mutation on the gene) for red hair and green eyes. When I read that, it made history come that much closer, and since I'm a red-head, with amber eyes (also a mutation), I felt a kind of kinship with the beings who came before us, and whom we have so misunderstood.

Now, I have before me, a small, stone knife. Although worn, it is obvious to see that it was fashioned by an artisan. The sophistication with which it was designed, makes it obvious that the designer was an intelligent, gifted human being. Long, long ago, before you and I were born, there were people who loved, hunted, gathered, and cared to design some of the most beautiful artifacts of history.

The one word that I keep repeating, I have just discovered, is the word design and designer. These days, they have become four letter words. So, in my non-scientific mind, let me just make a few comparisons. Have you ever noticed that the most beautiful seashells have a counter-clockwise pattern that resembles a galaxy? Why? Again, have you noticed that hurricanes, tornadoes, dust-devils, and cyclones all have the same pattern? Why?

I have thought about things like this for years. I believe that they are not proof of, but that they present a good argument for a Designer. Do not confuse the argument for a Designer, with the "six-thousand years creation event." I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm just saying, I don't care how long. All I know is, if we were to go on a treasure hunt, and we found my little knife, we would assume that like things would be buried in that same location. However, when we speak of God, as Designer, we get all crazy about it. The atheists go wild, and the "Creationists" get busy.

I believe in God, and I see patterns in the universe, that tell me that He is the Creator of it all. I know He lives, and I know that He loves me. I feel His hand of protection, and I see His Hand of favor. He lives, and He has filled my life with joy, peace, and love.

I also know that He loves all of His creation, even the ones who deny His very existence. He loved the owner of my little stone knife, and He made the connection between the original designer and me. It is simply a matter of perspective.

Father in heaven, forgive us when our perspective buries our understanding of Your presence. Grant us the grace to see this world, and everything in it, through Your eyes. Let us watch the fading shadows of twilight and know that you are there. And when the sun goes down at the end of the day, or at the end of each life, give us that certainty that we may rest safely in Your arms.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Time to Think

Hello friends,

What gives you peace? Some people like to go into their bedroom, find the perfect book, close the door to all and sundry, prop up against fluffy pillows, turn on a lamp and read.

Others like to go for a walk, or a run. Still others find their peace in their favorite chair with their favorite drink. My husband likes to go downstairs and stand outside, looking up at the night sky, and just think. Let go of the day. Let go of things that you have no power to change. Pray. Even if you don't believe.

I had a vision about prayer one time. We almost lost one of our daughters. Miraculously she pulled through two landmark surgeries. In the vision I saw a multitude of people praying for my girl, and musical notes were floating up to heaven in colors of red, blue, yellow, and rose. I could see them in my mind's eye, and all of a sudden I realized what prayer means to God. When we pray to Him, asking, pleading, explaining, agreeing, doubting, but not retreating, He hears music. I believe that prayer is the music of the heart.

My most peaceful places are in numbers of three: (1) encircled in my husband's arms, alone; (2) laying on the bed with my girls, my husband, and our dogs, just watching a DVD of our favorite show, commercial free, and (3) alone with God in my garden. Oh how I love to talk to Him in my garden.

In my garden, alone with God, I can feel his sheltering arms around me. I can see his breath in the crispy night air, as the mist rises from the valley below. I see Him in every perfect flower. And I see His mercy in every twig that grows up into a tree. With me, my relationship with God is deeply personal, and those moments alone are the best part of my day.

A time to think. What does that mean? According to the Family Word Finder, to think means: to use one's mind; to reason; to reflect; to deliberate; to ponder; to contemplate; to plan.

In my garden, to think means to let go and let God. This is not easy for me, in times of crisis, such as we are in right now, in the U.S. I have such a great list of suggestions for God, and I usually go through a struggle, as I try to surrender, and yet hold on to what I think would be the perfect solution. For some reason, God puts up with me in those times. And when I don't have any suggestions, I simply have to surrender, and it is then that He dries my tears.

So, now, wherever you are in your life, you might find it possible, to seek that place alone with your thoughts, and I hope, alone with God. Focus on what really matters. Think about the people in your life, who are most precious to you. Money is not precious; houses are not precious; even jobs (that are necessary) are not precious, but your loved ones are. Your peace of mind is; honor is; truth is; and of course, peace.

Heavenly Father, for those believers who call out to You, and for those who don't, I entreat You to hear their prayers. We are not perfect, Lord. So forgive us when we stumble. Protect us from the greed that has crippled our nation and that has taken the bread from our children. Guide us in the days ahead, and raise up honest leaders to lead us into tomorrow. May You guarantee our children's future, and may you grant them peace in the turmoils of their lives. Forever may we stand in the light of Your grace. Grant us, oh Lord, the peace that only You can give...the peace that passes all understanding. Peace of heart, peace of soul, and peace within our homes.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Time for Honor and Truth

Hello friends,

Is there anything about that beautiful dachshund, on the left, that I do not love? I hate it when I hear someone say, "Well, they're just like a member of the family." What is that? And is that really how people think of their own family? Just one of the members? Or is it that they are really saying, that the heart and soul of my little dog, is "just a dog?" How could they?!

This little dog has never left my side, willingly. He has, throughout his life, lived with honor and truth. I'm his, and that's all there is to it. I am in his care, not the other way around. If he must he will die defending me. That little dog is so inside my heart, that he is present in every beat. I've told you a lot about him, but this story I haven't told.

When Happy was a year old, he came down with a deadly form of mange. It took four insecticide treatments to kill the deadly mites. He was so sick that it looked like he would die. I'll never forget the morning that he sat up, with ears perked, and then came trotting to my side, as if to say, "Mommy, let's run and play."

When Happy Dog was six years old, he "went down" with a protruding spinal disc. Spinal disc disease, common among low, long-backed dogs, especially dachshunds, is deadly if left untreated. It was a nightmare. I knew I would lose him, and I just couldn't bear it!

He has a wonderful veterinarian who moved heaven and earth to get him to the research hospital at Virginia Tech. The surgery was successful, and Happy Dog was allowed to come home. We crated him for four weeks. Then right before his sixth birthday...you guessed it...another surgery. And, you guessed it again, he survived to race and play again.

One evening, I walked Happy Dog in my front yard, being careful where he stepped, since he was still recovering. There was a feral dog in the neighborhood. I saw the dog, but I had stared the dog down before, so I was unafraid. Quickly, I hurried my faithful companion towards the door. I walked in with Happy Dog, and quickly he did an about face. The ruff on his neck and back stood straight up, and he was growling. Next thing I knew, my husband was down the stairs, and the dog high-tailed it away. That vicious dog had followed us into the house. Can you believe that? And he was after Happy Dog.

Crippled or not, Happy Dog, stood his ground to defend me. I swear, if that wild dog had harmed my precious pet, who is so full of honor and truth, I would have hunted that dog down and torn it limb from limb. Hard to believe that a 62 year old crippled woman would make such a remark. Huh?

Approximately two years ago, Happy had minor surgery, along with teeth cleaning. When I went to pick him up, my hand felt moisture on his chest.

"What's this?" I asked.

"Oh, it's just a little fluid. It's normal." What?

By the time we got home and out of the car, my clothing was soaked with Happy's blood. I held him up, and the blood "drip-drip-dripped." Back to the emergency we went, and the same doctor who had saved his life before, saved him again.

Now, Happy Dog is almost ten years old, and I am grateful for every minute. The only thing that keeps me from letting him sleep in the bed with us, is my fear of him injuring his back in the middle of the night.

So, at a time in our Country, when we have a Presidential election staring us in the face, and every mortgage company and insurance company needs a bail-out, things look pretty bleak. These are the times, however, that I look to my little dog. I have never seen him give up. He has fought every set-back with every ounce of his being. He has no trouble recognizing danger, and when the time comes, he's ready to fight.

Today, I consider the blessings in life, that God has already given me. My husband and daughters and my Christian faith. Another one of my greatest gifts is the love of my Happy Dog. If need be I must face my fears with his courage and grit. There is only one way for my little dog in the face of adversity: fight, and when all else fails, then to stand unmoved.

This present crisis, in the United States, smacks of corruption, or at least, lack of oversight. It's downright scary. Yet, I wonder how Happy Dog would handle this situation. Truthfully, I think that Happy Dog would grab hold of the culprits in charge, and he would give them, while growling fiercely, a great big shake.

So, take heart, my friends. Look around you, and in family and friends, you will find true riches beyond compare. You certainly have blessed my life, just by listening to me. I just hope my little metaphor has blessed you.

Father, bring us through this time of desperation. Help us to understand what is honor and truth. Help us to face the storm ahead, knowing that Your loving presence will be there for us, in the eye of the storm.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Time to Be Real

Hello friends,

The picture of Happy Dog says everything I want to say today. Sometimes, you've just got to shout it. Happy Dog has been shouting his opinion all of his life. He is the Police Pup of all four dogs, especially our biggest one.

At birthday celebrations, it is Happy Dog's job to tackle the present and rip the paper off, as though he is ripping into an intruder. When he is tucked safely under the covers, any movement near him, will learn its lesson quickly, as he savagely grabs the blanket and gives it a good shake.

Another job he has is to get my husband's water bottle under control, by grabbing it and running down the hall. Then he tears off the label, with a bark that says, "So there!!!" But that's not all. He also rebukes my husband's slipper. If my husband is wearing the offending felon, Happy will grab a hold and hang on, furiously struggling against the reprobate. Often he wins the battle, by seizing the slipper, deftly removing it from the victim; then he dashes down the hall. First one way; then the other. Up and down the hall he goes. HERE HE COMES!!! THERE HE GOES!!! And the game doesn't stop until Happy is finished.

Happy Dog is the most joyful being I know. He is a clown, a mischief maker, an authoritarian, and the fiercest, most loyal friend I have. He would die for me. No dog is bigger. No object too hard to face down. And he does everything with a kind of joyous vigour. This dog has a lot to teach, and he teaches me every day.

You see, when I brought Happy Dog home, I was suffering from depression. He changed me with his happy heart. That is why his official name is Sir Happy Heart. Of course, I began to, then, call him Happy Dog.

I don't know how long God will give me with my little Happy Dog. I hope a long, long time. A few years back, I expressed my fears about losing my little boy, to my Father in heaven:

Excerpt from Jaye Lewis' Prayer for My Little Boy

I know, Lord, there will come a day,
When I'll have to say "good-bye."
Yet, even then I'll trust in You;
Although it makes me cry.

I trust in You to carry me
Through that dark and lonely place;
And heal my heart, as I recall,
His little, laughing face.

I know that you will be there,
And you'll wipe my tears away;
And perhaps in Your great mercy,
I’ll be with him, there, one day.

The Bible says, in Heaven
We'll be free from every care;
But I can't imagine Heaven
Unless Happy Dog is there.

So, if I am presumptuous,
I trust You'll understand
That I’ll willingly walk the road ahead,
If You'll only hold my hand.

© Jaye Lewis, 2001

There is not a dog that I have ever known, who has captured my heart, the way that Happy has. He is under my skin and in my heart. I would die for him, and he knows it.

So, why am I sharing this with you today? Because I have seen much division and derision in my country, during this election season. The graft and corruption is unspeakable, yet it has been exposed. Sometimes you've just got to scrape out a sore. I've seen so much pretense, and if I hear, one more time, "my friends," I think I will scream. What? Am I stupid? YOU'RE NOT MY FRIEND! MY DOG WOULD MAKE A BETTER PRESIDENT!

Happy Dog would take the miscreants by their ankle, and he would shake the daylights out of them. Then he would bark them to attention, and march them off to jail. Then it's bread and water for the lot of them! Happy Dog is tough. He knows the right thing to be. He shouts it to the sky every day. BE REALLLLL!!!!!!! Be real. It's not hard. If you are real, then the citizens who vote for you will shout for joy.

Father in heaven, grant us the grace to recognize what is real within our candidates in this, our election season. May they state their case, without rhetoric. Please, Lord, show us the way, even into the voting booth. Help us to look at the issues and the candidates, and let us see who will understand and tackle those issues with the fervor and courage of my little dog. Help us to see clearly, just which one is real.

With love,

Jaye Lewis

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Time for Peace

Hello friends,

The picture on the left is of one of my gardens. It's small; yet it is filled with things that I like. It's right outside of my back door.

The tree trunk that you see, is ten years old. I planted it as a tiny seedling, along with several others. Most of the seedlings did not grow. This one did. It is a healthy tree. Through torrential rains, ice storms, and summer drought, this tree, somehow is anchored to everything that is good about the land.

When we moved into our house, the yard was filled with trees, but the ground was red clay, which turned to concrete under the summer sun, and became a quagmire after days of rain. Our yard sits on a granite shelf, that is two feet down. The dirt (we laughingly call soil) is covered with the ugliest lawn I've ever seen, and it is filled with rocks. From that beginning, we have created gardens. My favorite is the garden that you see in the photo at top left.

The statue is a statue of Francis of Assisi. Francis was a young man, who lived in the Twelfth Century. He gave up a wealthy existence to become poor. He gave up life as a soldier, to become a man of peace. You may remember his poem, which begins:

"Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith...."

It is well worth the Google-search to read the entire poem.

Francis is one of my favorite peace makers. He loved the Lord, and His people. He loved the animals, and he called them "brother" and "sister." It just seemed right to find a statue of Francis to be a part of this garden.

In the world that we live in, there isn't much peace. Yesterday, a young girl in India committed suicide, because of her fear of what is referred to as "the big-bang machine." Billions of dollars have been spent on this giant contraption that "might" bring about new technologies. Or it might blow the world up. The young girl was so terrified, that she took her own life. It breaks my heart.

Never mind that there are people being slaughtered in the Sudan and around the world...people who want nothing more than a future for themselves and their children. Yet, we are a pretty selfish society, and the more able we become in technology, the less able we become as human beings.

We cannot force peace upon strangers who don't want peace, anymore than we can force peace upon certain members of our own families. You know who I mean. You have perverse people in your life who are all about attack, slash and burn, in their relationships. Anything to bring about their own interpretation of victory. Never peace.

Life is not easy in a world like this. In our own community, there is affluence and poverty. It bothers me. I want someone to care about the poor. When we stand before God, what are we going to tell Him about our propensity to invent one more contraction, that we have no idea WHAT it will actually do? And when He asks us, "Did you feed your brother? Did you heal your sister?" What are we going to say?

"Well, we built a lot of stuff?"

So, I'm sadly aware, that we can only do our best to feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty. We cannot dictate what governments should do. We cannot singlehandedly bring about the one thing that we all long for...peace.

So, as in my garden, we must find a place that brings us personal peace. As we reflect upon this tragic anniversary of America's darkest hour. As we contemplate the lives that were lost at the Twin Towers (from every nation) let us find the peace that we seek within our selves.

So, join with me now, in the garden of our hopes and dreams, and let us bring peace to our souls. We can only pray that our world will follow.

Father in heaven, in the words of your servant, Francis, please make of us, instruments of Your peace.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Time to Consider Friendship

Hello friends,

To our left is a picture of three little friends. At the top of the puppy pile is Pixel, who is nine months old. To the right is my weenie dog, Happy Dog. To the left is Peanut, who is nearly four years old. Really? Nearly four, already? Happy Dog, of course, will soon be eleven years old.

He's growing old, but then, so am I. I'm not crazy about growing old. Gravity is not nice to a woman of 62, and muscle-tone is a thing of the past. Even though I garden, including weeds, pulling up sod, and digging out boulders, still I find that my body betrays me. Enough of the pity party.

I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately, and how illusive it is. If you have one close friend in a lifetime, then you are very rich. I'm not talking about popularity. Nor am I talking about that local pub, "where everyone knows your name." I'm talking about friendship where success is celebrated, and faults and imperfections are overlooked. In fact, sometimes those eccentricities are celebrated and considered a virtue.

We have lost, I believe, in modern society the ability to forge true friendships. We choose friends who think as we do; go to the same Church; or who don't go to Church. We want someone to validate us, not give us a different point of view.

I have one friend, outside of my family. She and I were both pushing forty when we met; both military wives; and we spent nearly eight years living across the street from one another. We did things that made us laugh; we shared sorrows; and we watched our kids grow up together. Even though we live thousands of miles a part, now, we still keep in touch. We have shared lives, experiences, and we forgave one another quickly. I can't think of anyone whom I miss, the way I miss her. She will always be my true friend.

My other friends are my daughters and my husband. Oh yes, aside from family, we are all friends, and we have unique relationships with each other. We all live to be together. We can't wait for that first cup of coffee, when everyone is home. We pile on the bed, along with the sleeping pups above, and we toast the day: Tink...go the cups, as we cry, "I love everyone in this room!!" Then we share our experiences, thoughts, and feelings. There's a lot of laughter. A lot of peace. These are my best friends.

The little pups, in their little puppy pile above, are very different. Happy Dog is older, an alpha-male, who still thinks he's the policeman in charge. Pixel, our little miniature Schnauzer is a lover, not a fighter. She adores Happy Dog, and he let's her. Peanut, is a sensitive four year old, filled with anxiety when her Momma is gone, yet when Momma comes home from work, she is a laughing, playful, bundle of joy. These little dogs fill my life with tenderness and love. They are my friends.

As you look at the picture of our puppy pile, above, remember that these little dogs are not naturally friends. They've worked things out, and although they have their idiosyncrasies, they are definitely friends. What an example they are: loving, arguing, vying for their space, laughing, playing, and, by God, telling time, as they have just now. It's time for lunch, and they are telling me.

Gosh, they are looking at me with wide-eyed expectation. I guess I'd best move along or they'll start barking. We wouldn't want lunch to be late.

Father in heaven. Thank you for the creatures you have given us, from the lowliest sparrow to these little pups, who make our lives rich, beyond compare. Grant us the grace, that we will practice wise stewardship. Let us never forget that you created them first.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Monday, September 08, 2008

A Time for Memories

Hello Friends,
The picture at the left is one that was taken twelve years ago, of my husband and I, half-way up to a place called... Crystal Falls (I believe). Although it was taken with a "point and shoot" camera, and it is a little hazy, it is one of my favorite pictures.
Hazy. That's what memories are often like. The bad memories become dull, the pain more distant. The good ones seem to be bathed in a halo of light, much like this picture to the left. I have memories from my childhood and beyond, that still inflict pain. I have beautiful memories, also, which are intertwined with the bad, yet are still a part of the pattern of the whole.
Nothing fills my heart with more joy, than reminiscing with my husband about our past, especially our first meeting. What did he feel? What did I feel? Then we try to capture the moment of our first discovery and falling in love. Because of how we both were, and still are, our children were included as an integral part of our beautiful whole. Neither my husband nor I took our love lightly. We didn't leap ahead to the finish line without careful thought and mountains of prayer.
I guess prayer, to a lot of people, seems silly these days, but I believe it is the strong thread that was woven through the tapestry of our lives with one another. We've both lost part of our families, by choice, so that our marriage could grow in a healthy, peaceful environment.
So, we have lost some; but what we have gained is worth more than all this world can offer. We have gained a freedom, by God's grace, that we had never known in our pasts, and we have seen our children grow into women of faith, fortitude and happiness. This could never have come about, without the grace of a loving God, who asks only that He be held first in our hearts.
When I met my husband I knew more about what love was not, then I did about what love is. Oh how handsome he was when he walked through the door. I could tell that he was a real man, and I hadn't the slightest idea what that meant. But now I know.
A real man is a gentle man; yet he can fight fiercely for what is right, without using his fists. A real man loves children, and he is not afraid to make a fool of himself, just to make them laugh. My husband taught our girls how to throw a Frisbee. He played on the jungle-gym and merry-go-round. He played cards until his eyes crossed, and he played board games until he could barely remember his name.
A real man speaks his mind and listens with his heart. He knows who he is, what he believes, and why. A real man puts his ego last, and he doesn't confuse pride with self-respect. He is respectful to everyone, especially women, and he can be trusted like no one else.
A real man takes care with his thoughts, his behavior, and his motives. He is cautious, yet he gives willingly. And when he came into my life, at just the right time, he stole my heart with all the goodness that he was and still is.
A real man is faithful, in thought, word, and deed. He laughs readily, almost as though he's been waiting all day for the punch-line. I think I fell in love with this aspect of his personality, first. A real man may be afraid of commitment, but once he gives his word, it is forever.
So, you can see that I am rather fond of the memories that my husband and I have made through the years. I visit them often. And at night, when I gaze over at him as he sleeps, I thank God, simply for the life of this man, who has given so much life to me.
Father in heaven. Thank you for the life of my wonderful man. Thank you for his heart that is so true. Thank you for his deep, green eyes, that crinkle so readily when he smiles. Oh, how I love the way he looks at me, as though, in his whole life, he has never looked upon anyone so lovely. And that is the greatest gift of all.
With love,
Jaye Lewis

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Time for Happy Dog

Hello friends,

The picture at the left of this screen is of my beloved companion of over ten years. You can see that he is remarkably young looking for his age. I don't think that he looks a day over seven. He's getting white on his paws, and on his muzzle, but he is as beautiful as ever.

I don't know what I would have done without the devotion of this little dog. For ten years he has been at my side in fair weather and in foul. When illness hit me eight years ago, and no one knew if I would live or die, Happy Dog lay by my side. I have a picture of his worried face, and though the picture of me is not flattering, I will keep it always. When I seemed to be getting better, he was the one who brought me the ball to throw, making up a game that he has taught the other little dogs, and one that he still loves to play.

I've thought a lot about what Happy Dog's faithfulness signifies, and I think I know what it means to me. He has taught me that faithfulness never dims when one loves his master.

I have a Master. Yes, I willingly follow Him; wait on Him; and am often impatient with Him. I believe that my Master loves me, much in the way that I love my Happy Dog. I forgive Happy Dog, even when he does the unthinkable, such as lifting his leg on everything in the house that he claims as his own.

I also have a problem with owning things; like the weather. I NEED RAIN!!! SEND IT NOW!!! Uh..oh. I guess I don't own the weather. I must submit. And I repent. Happy Dog does much the same, when he brings me his ball. I NEED TO PLAY!!! He barks, wagging his tail. He is relentless, following me from room to room, no matter what I need to do first. ME FIRST! PLAY WITH MEEEEEE!!!!

So like me, is this little dog. Yet, I have to crate him from time to time. He is a dachshund after all, and he has degenerative disc disease. When he injures himself, it is prednisone and muscle relaxers; and three to six weeks in the crate. I limit his access to play, so that he can get well and live to play another day.

Degenerative disc disease can be life threatening to a dachshund. It can often require delicate spinal surgery. Happy has had two surgeries, back to back, a month a part. Since then I have crated him five or six times, limiting his mobility so that he can heal.

Loving a dog like my Happy Dog requires devotion, a sense of humor, self-discipline, a rigid diet (so that he has no extra weight on his spine), and he doesn't like it at all.

You may wonder -- heck, I wonder -- what my little allegory has to do with me, other than my undying love for this dog. Well, this is very personal to my relationship with Someone other than my dog. You see, my Master is Jesus Christ. My relationship with Him is central to my faith in God.

God doesn't always consult me. He acts, and I have no idea what He is doing. I can't see the result of my discomfort, much as Happy Dog cannot see from his crate, the real health that I am giving him to play again. So, with my Master, Jesus, I can't see the outcome, and, frankly, sometimes it just makes me crazy. LORD, send me a memo, soon!

All of the pondering of my heart, God can hear. He cares. He acts. And, as my husband says, "It has already happened; you just haven't caught up with it in time." So, here I am, understanding more, by simply writing and sharing my thoughts with you. God is here, always, right with me. In the same room. Looking over my shoulder as I write. He's here, even more than I am with Happy Dog.

God makes me wait, when I want what I want, NOW! He hears my prayer and cares. So my prayer should be, LORD, you know what I want; but I know that you know what I really want before I do.

Father, thank you for giving me an understanding that I can hold on to. My understanding is weak, and perhaps shallow; but I do see why this waiting is so important. I may not like the outcome, but I can trust the One who holds the outcome in His hands. With all my heart, I love You.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Time to Hear and See

Hello friends,

Have you ever felt that you are not being heard? You know. You are speaking, and you are not being heard. "I heard you! I heard you!" Someone may say. But you know that you haven't been heard.

Jesus often referred to people "hearing, but not hearing;" and "seeing, but not seeing." It seems like a paradox. How can one hear, but not hear? And how can one see, but not see? Well, I have a few examples from my own life.

When my husband and I celebrated our thirteenth anniversary, he took me to a posh restaurant, which had romantic lighting. The enormous picture windows allowed us to hold hands and watch the sun go down. All at once, my love, pulls a tiny package out of a colorful bag. Then he pulls out a small, handmade velvet pillow, and he kneels upon it, with one knee. I was astounded as he opened the box and showed me the beautiful engagement ring inside.

"Jaye," he said. "I couldn't give you a ring thirteen years ago; so I offer you this one, now. Will you marry me?"

My eyes filled with tears, which spilled down my face, as the server behind me cried, "Oh, my God!" The restaurant patrons broke out in applause, as I replied in a tremulous voice, "Yes!!!"

No one knew that we were an "old married couple." All they saw was a man and a woman deeply in love. Sadly, at the next table, a tragic break-up had been taking place. A young woman pleaded with an angry man.

"Please, see the sun is going down! Look! Look! It's so romantic."

The irritated man quickly glanced out the window and spat out words I'll never forget, "I SAW IT! I SAW IT!" Then he leaped up and left the restaurant, as his partner sobbed. He hadn't seen it, nor had he heard her.

Hearing words, without understanding, is not hearing. Seeing, yet unmoved, is not seeing. I have learned that seeing and hearing is not about the eyes or the ears. Seeing and hearing is about the heart. So, it may seem as though my pondering over these things is irreverent today, but for me, it is everything.

I had an acquaintance once, whom I thought was a close friend. However -- and this was years ago -- when she and I were watching a horrible sight on the news, our paths went different ways.

I was appalled by the story, and the video of an Ethiopian mother and child. Both were emaciated, and the baby had a swollen belly. I couldn't stand it. All I could see was my baby, dying before my eyes. It was so personal, and I was helpless to save them.

All of a sudden, my "friend" spat out a barrage of filth and obscenities. I could see her face filled with hatred and rage. Then she screamed, a racial slur, and cold shock streaked through me. I couldn't believe it. Before our eyes, the baby's eyes went blank. We had watched her die, and my life was forever changed. My "friend?" Well, let's just say, we were no longer friends. She was able to look, without seeing; and her heart was so hard, that even this did not move her. I went home, and I cried so long, that it seemed like forever.

So, what does this have to do with my life today? Well, that day taught me to look, with an open heart; and I've learned to hear, with open ears. Where I cannot reach out and change the circumstance, I allow the circumstance to change me.

One day, not so many Christmases ago, we had decided that we would not exchange presents, because we do not have small children. Instead, we try to look for ways to help others have a happy Christmas. We've been very blessed by our decision. However, that first Christmas, was the best of all for me. I had one of my holiday asthma attacks, and I was standing in line at the Pharmacy.

I had just paid for my medicine, and I was feeling a little uneasy about our Christmas decision. Then, behind me, a young woman stepped forward to pay for her baby's medicine.

"That will be twenty-five dollars," the clerk said.

The woman stood there holding her baby, and she pushed a bag of change onto the counter. The clerk sighed, and she quickly counted the change.

"You're $4.29 short."

Tears sprung to the young mother's eyes. It was a painful sight. What was she going to do???

"I don't have it." She said.

"I'm sorry." The clerk replied, obviously embarrassed.

Suddenly, a light burst forth in my soul.

"Wait! I can pay for it!" I cried. "I have the money!!" I don't think that I have ever felt so filled with joy and understanding, as I wrote a check for the child's medicine.

"Here," said the young woman, as she tried to give me the bag of change.

"No," I replied, as I handed back her change.

"I'll never forget this gift," she said, "nor you."

"Oh, but you don't understand," I barely choked out the words. "You have given me a priceless gift. And the best Christmas I've ever had."

We parted, and I walked out into a Christmas Eve, all at once filled with light. My heart sang. I cried all the way home, just as I am now. I realized that it doesn't matter when we decide to hear and see. It only matters that we do.

Father in heaven, grant us the grace to hear and see, more than we ever have before. Let each day be a new day to allow our hearts to open towards others. I know that I fail in this, and it always amazes me just how blunt my perceptions can be. By Your grace, I can become a more compassionate, seeing, hearing child of God. In Your name, Amen

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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