A Tribute To Zeke


December 25, 2003 – November 8, 2014

zeke 1Zeke, you’ve inspired so many stories, you deserve one more.  If feels so odd to not have you at my feet.  But you aren’t here anymore.  In fact, there is a fresh mound of dirt I can see out my window, you are there now.  What an awful day this has been, truly one of my worst.  I did not find you gone, I had to make a decision that even now, I wish I could undo.  But that is selfish on my part.  You are now at peace, I am the one suffering.  All the pain you have endured now seems to be in my heart.  Crazy, I know.  But isn’t that what love truly is, suffering the pain for another?

I love you Zeke.  From the first time I saw you.  You were eight weeks old, the runt of the litter.  We were getting a puppy for Carson and Chase, and for me.   I had experienced a year of loss; a baby born without life, a grandfather’s sad passing, an aunt who left this earth too soon.  I was tired of pain, of loss, and I wanted a new life to love.  And what better to love, to bring joy to a family then a cute little puppy.

We didn’t pick you first, we had your brother all picked out.  Then I looked over, and I saw your eyes and you tugged at my heart and I was yours.  Ten minutes later, you were in the car with us, lying between the boys, excited for your new adventure.

And since the boys were too little, 5 and 6, I was the one who took care of you.  And even though I wanted you to sleep with them, each night, I found you with me, curled up at the foot of my bed.  And I loved it.  I loved you.

zeke 2

You learned pretty quickly that the house wasn’t your toilet and down the steps you would trot, so very cute.   I think because you were so little, I tried extra hard to make you grow, and grow you did!    You ended up at 120 pounds, a far cry from the little 8 pound runt we brought home that day.

And oh how you loved to play ball.  You were born to fetch.  You would play as long as I threw the ball.  Again and again and again, I just could not wear you out, as much as I tried.  Because you were such a handful, my goodness Zeke!

You not only loved balls, but you loved shoes.  Nice leather shoes! I don’t know how many pairs you went through.  Too many before I learned to never leave my closet door open, nor leave a shoe in the living room.  And how many times I tried to hide the shoe of Bobby’s that you chewed, because I knew he would be angry with you.  I remember one time I had to go to Bible Study wearing two different shoes.  Thank you for chewing up one left one, and one right one, so I still had a pair.  Boy did the girls laugh that night.  And so did I.  Cause no matter how many shoes you destroyed, you were my boy, and I loved you.  And I always forgave you.

And you loved me.  So much!  You were so faithful to me.  You would follow me everywhere I went.  You never left my side, if I was at home.  And if I shut a door, without you with me, you would sit and bark at me until I let you in.  You loved me so much; you never wanted to share me with anyone.  If the phone rang, you would bark and bark and bark until I went outside and threw balls for you while I talked.  I never had a normal phone conversation in eleven years Zeke; they always occurred while I was sitting on the stairs, throwing balls for you.

And you would always fetch them and bring them back to me.  Always.

I remember when you were ten months old and you started getting very sick.  Nothing stayed in and you lost weight and when I took you to the vet, they discovered that you had eaten something that stuck in your intestines and was blocking you up.  And I spent $2500 getting it out of you.  And I didn’t care, I wanted you well.  And you came home and you didn’t even have your stitches out and you ran out the front door one day when Chase opened it.   And you loved running so much, you ran straight into the road and right before my eyes, a big truck hit you, square in the head.  And you did flip flops and then you jumped up and ran to the house.  And the guy in the truck cursed me out for letting you run free.  He didn’t know you had a mind of your own.  And I thought you were dead, but you weren’t.  It was late and I knew either you would live or not, so I sat with you all night, praying for God to save you, and He did.  And in the morning, I took you to the vet, he pumped you full of medicine and two days later, you were playing fetch with me.  Nothing could not keep you down.

Dogs are not to eat chocolate, it is dangerous, but you didn’t know that.  You ate so many of my chocolate cakes.  I lost count.  You loved chocolate as much as I did!  And it never fazed you.  Nothing stopped you.  You ate so many sandwiches, loaves of bread, cookies.  All I had to do was look out the window, and I would see the wrapper or the container in the yard where you would take your booty to enjoy!  Ah Zeke, I just couldn’t ever get upset, not truly upset with you.  No matter what food you would eat.  I just learned to not leave things out.  But just last week you found that stick of butter, and it was yours!

I don’t know how many times we would come home and the trash can would be all over the kitchen.  So we would put it on the counter, but then you figured out a way to get it down from there.  So then Bobby began the battle of the trash can with you.  And boy, was that something.  He tried everything, and you would always get to that can.  Carpet nails on the lid, strong spring action lid, Tobasco on the wood, nothing deterred you.  You were like Houdini, but instead of breaking out, you always broke in.  And trash would end up all over the floor.

But I never hit you, I never got angry.  Oh, I would yell at you.  And you were always sorry.  You always had that look on your face when you knew you did wrong.  You always knew, yet you continued … sounds like me Zeke.  Sounds like a lot of people I know.  We know we should stop, we are sorry when we get caught, but let me just do it one more time.  Your one more time was always innocent; unfortunately, sometimes our one more time ends in a lot worse scenario then trash on the kitchen floor.

We spent a lot of time at the vet, you and I.  I remember the time the boys were practicing casting their fishing lines in the driveway, and then Carson took them into Bobby’s shop to untangle them.  And I thought it would be a great family bonding time, so I brought you down too and in about a minute you had that fish hook caught in your tongue.  And then what a mess!   Me lying on top of you, holding your mouth open while Carson tried to pull it out.   And you trying not to bite me, and blood everywhere and Chase crying, oh what a disaster Bobby came home to that day.  And he couldn’t retrieve it either and off to the vet you went, once again.

And then it was time for you to be neutered and the first night home you chewed up all your stitches and what a mess I woke up to that morning.  Oh man and back to the vet we went and you had to wear that silly lampshade for a week until you healed.

Ahhhhh Zeke … you just constantly got into trouble.  Yet, your heart was so pure. So full of love.  We are so much alike, you and I.

I remember one night we came home and you were nowhere to be found, someone had left the gate opened and you wandered off.  I still remember the panic in my heart of looking for you, and the boys praying for your safe return and then when you were found, Carson saying, ‘See Mommy, God knew where Zeke was.’  Oh the lessons Zeke.

chase and zeke

And you loved to go on walks, and at first you would drag me to the canal and back, but eventually you learned how to stay with me and you loved those nightly walks.  How many nights … oh my, who will walk with me now?

And the night the pit bull came running out of that house at us, and me so scared you would get hurt protecting me.  Thank you Zeke for wanting to protect me.

And you learned to listen and obey so well, yes you did, that I didn’t need a leash any longer, you would walk with me.  I loved that you listened to me, that you obeyed me.  Just one word from me and you would come right back, never wandering off the sidewalk, always with me.  I know that is how God feels when I listen to Him.  When I obey, the first time.

I remember the night you started having seizures.  It was one of Carson’s Epic Birthday Parties, when he and his friends would play their version of hide and seek, in the dark, Manhunt.  And one of the boys kicked you in the head accidentally, and the next thing we knew, you were down and shaking and we thought you were dying and we didn’t know what to do.  And Bobby gave you CPR and I sat by you and cried and prayed for God to help you.  And He did.  And then the seizures came more frequently and it would take twenty, thirty, sometimes sixty minutes until, you were okay.

And I tried to give you medicine, but you didn’t like it and it made you sleepy and so we just asked God to heal you.  He didn’t take away the seizures completely, but you always got through them and they were further and further apart.  God answers our prayers in so many different ways, doesn’t he?  We always want instant healing, but Zeke, you were happy for the moment.  As soon as that seizure would pass, your tail would wag and up you’d go and back at it

And every single night, you would greet me at the door, so happy that I was home. And you would bark and bark and bark until we played.  Oh how you loved to play.

And no one could track a ball in the dark like you.  After all, you are a lab and labs retrieve.  And I would be in awe of watching you find a ball in the dark.  You would run a pattern until you found that ball. You would never give up. Sometimes it took you awhile; I’d even give up and go in the house.  But not you, you never came in until you found that ball.  What a lesson in perseverance.  You just didn’t give up.

And you didn’t give up on life … even with a skin infection that caused you so much pain; you would bite your legs until they were blood. You would scratch yourself raw, over and over.  And I would try this ointment and I would try that shampoo, and I would google and I would research and we would go to the vet, and nothing would help.  Or it would help for a bit, but then the infection would be back again. You were on antibiotics a very long time, hoping that maybe just maybe this batch would be it.  And as miserable as I know you were, you just didn’t complain.  You loved life, you loved food, and you loved Jack Jack.  And you loved me.

Zeke would still be here, fighting through the infection that would even run out his eyes, but his hips went on him.  A few weeks ago, he woke me up, barking.  When I went to find him, he was at the foot of the stairs, nothing was stopping him from coming up, but he couldn’t do it.  And I knew he was hurting.  If that big ole stinky dog couldn’t come up the steps to be with me, something was drastically wrong.

So, I made him a bed and brought him water, but he wasn’t happy.  And he would try and try and try and some days he made it up and some days he didn’t.  And Bobby tried to help him, but he was just too heavy.  And I knew, I had a decision to make.  Zeke had been miserable for a long time.  I would hear him night after night, long after everyone was asleep, biting and chewing and getting up and getting down and going in and going out.  He was trying to find peace.

Today, he found it.

I really don’t know if dogs go to heaven.  I was asking God that today, because I really want Zeke to be happy.  He deserves it.  Zeke and God have taught me so many lessons about love.  About unconditional love.  How to receive it.  How to give it.
Thank you Zeke for the lessons … thank you for the love.


What Are You Seeking?

seek firstBut seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)


When Peter and John were going into the temple, the beggar asked them for money. What they gave him was much more valuable. They prayed for him to be healed, then they touched him and he was. A man, crippled from birth, able to walk, jump and leap for joy! (Acts 3:1-10)

The gift he was given that day was priceless.

So many times, we settle for so much less then what God wants for us.

Today, I will seek HIM!

Is Your Seed Still in the Barn?

barnI am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you. (Haggai 2:19)

I heard this scripture yesterday and I can’t get it out of my head. Before we even plant the seed, God is promising us a harvest. Does that mean we don’t have to do the work? No … we still have to prepare the soil, plant, weed, water and gather.

But His promise is that if we part, the blessings will come.

In a time of uncertainty, in a world full of discouragement, I am going to plant my seed and let God do the rest!

One Thing

one thing But one thing I do. Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead.  (Philippians 3:13)

The Apostle Paul knew a lot about God.  Yet his ‘one thing’ advice was to forget the past and move into the future.

I let the past destroy my life for over 18 years.  I mulled over and over again my mistakes.  I didn’t receive God’s forgiveness and I let the lies of the enemy tell me I would never be good enough for God to love me, because I didn’t love myself.

But no more.

Today I press on … forward motion with Jesus!

Dirty Barns

oxenWhere there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.  (Proverbs 14:4)

I grew up on a farm.  Animals make messes and messes need to be cleaned up.  And messes aren’t pretty.  But with the strength of many oxen, much work can get done.

I don’t use oxen to work today.  I work with people.  But,  people can get messy and messes can turn out to be very un-pretty.  But with a lot of people working together, a lot of work can be done for God’s kingdom.

I am thankful for the mess.  I am thankful for the people.  I am thankful for the harvest.


small beginningsBeginnings: the point of time or space at which anything begins, starts. The initial stage. The origin, the source.

In the Book of John, the first two verses begin: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1,2)

The first book of the Bible, Genesis starts this way: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.(Genesis 1:1)

When I started school, I began in Kindergarten. I didn’t know much at that time, I had to go through the grade levels to achieve knowledge. When I graduated from college, I had a little more learning under my belt, but the years since have continued to be a wonderful teacher, and I’m still learning each and every day.

When I came to know Jesus on a personal level, I began my journey with him. I didn’t understand all there was to know about Him, but I have spent the last thirteen years gleaming knowledge from studying His Word. There are still many things I don’t understand, but I’m not finished learning yet.

Sometimes in life, we want to skip the beginning, the beginning is always new, sometimes unsure; it can cause us to be uncomfortable, sometimes it might even scare us a little.

We look at others who are farther into their journey and we envy what they have, but we forget that they began at the same place we did, ‘in the beginning.’

I want to encourage you in this beginning of a new year, embrace it;  turn the page of the past and step into the gift of today that God has for you!


thing-called-loveLove is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails …

I want to be love.

Day 7 – Costa Rica Journal – Heading Home

Day 7 - 1Monday morning was time to pack up and head home, always a bittersweet moment. Of course we want to go home to our families, but we have found a new family here and we are sad to say good-bye.

day 7 - 2Selene and Serene came to see us off and we spent some time in prayer with her. Such a special friend with such a heart for the Lord and such great love for us!

day 7 - 4Michelle and Sarah were two of our translators and they would be greatly missed by us. Michelle lives in Puntarenas, Sarah in Honduras. Separate worlds from us, yet we know we will be with them again, and that our hearts are connected forever!

day 7 - 3Hannia and Maria were our cooks for the week. They took such good care of us, cooking us such wonderful meals. Always there by the crack of dawn and staying till all were fed at night. I had a lot of trouble with my stomach, and Hannia brought special herbs and made me a tea that kept me going when I wasn’t feeling so well.

day 7 - 5Good-byes are never easy. We had really connected with our new friends and with each other and it was difficult to say good-bye. A lot of love had been shared this week and love always connects hearts. And when hearts are separated, it hurts.

day 7 - 7We all piled into the bus and headed to the airport. A lot of reflection was going on as we pulled away from Casa San Francisco, our home away from home the past week. Everyone was lost in their own thoughts. I can’t profess to know the thoughts of the other team members, but my mind was reliving the week I had just experienced and thanking God for allowing me to be a part of such an awesome adventure. To be able to bring His extreme love to the people of Puntarenas and Miramar, Costa Rica had most certainly been an awesome privilege!

day 7 - 9More good-byes at the airport. The beginning of the trip with all the welcomes and greetings and connections, the ending of the trip with hugs and tears. Interesting … but the nature of the journey. It hurts to leave people you love.

day 7 - 10Navigating through the airport at San Jose was no issue. We paid our exit fees, checked our luggage, passed through customs and found our gate with no hiccups. We watched a man roll cigars in the airport and another painting a beautiful picture.

day 7 13We landed in Miami and made our way through customs. As we entered the airport, we came across this sign that shared our focus for the week, All You Need Is Love.

Thank You JESUS!

Day Six – Costa Rica Journal – Babies and Birthdays

Day 6 - 1On Sunday morning, we had breakfast and then headed off to Pastor Octavia’s church for Sunday service. We were going to be guests this morning and everyone was ready for a little break, I believe. Serving the Lord on these mission trips is awesome, but it is not for the weak at heart or body.

Day 6 - 2Selene and Serene met us at the church, it was Serene’s dedication day and we were all excited to be a part of such a special event. The kids at the church were also putting on a special dance presentation for us and we were eager to spend the morning with our special friends. It will never cease to amaze me, the special connection of love we felt with our friends here. We loved them and they loved us. Even though we could not communicate through words with most of them, God’s language of love is universal.

day 6-4We so enjoyed the spirit of the kids during the dance time. They did two numbers for us and none of us had a dry eye when they finished. The depth of God’s love they were able to express during their worship was overwhelming to us. So very special and such a blessing to each one of us.

After church, we headed off to purchase souvenirs. We didn’t have the opportunity to do any shopping during the week, and we enjoyed seeing the local crafts. T-shirts and handcrafted jewelry are always a hit when we head home!

Deanna found a really neat hat and was happy to model it for us. She looked so cute!

day 6 - 6

day 6 - 7We then headed to Pastor Martin and Pastora Sonia’s home for lunch. It was Pastor Martin’s birthday and we were eager to join in the celebration. We headed up the mountain, once more to Miramar. What a special place this tiny mountain village had become to us!

day 6 - 9Pastor Martin and Pastora Sonia had a beautiful home, on the side of the mountain, and we were all enjoyed their hospitality. We loved our time serving the people of Costa Rica, we enjoyed every minute of it, but I have to confess, it was so enjoyable to sit on their deck and just enjoy the food and the company.
We were served ceviche and tostones and homemade pizza and we were honored to be enjoying the day with our special friends.

Day 6 -10After lunch, the keyboard came out and Pastor Wilmer and Ruth began blessing us with worship. It was such an amazing time of ministry. All week we had been ministering to others, now the Holy Spirit was ministering with us. Each one of us had our own personal time with the Spirit and it was so very special. Sometimes we think we have to be in a church to experience God, but that afternoon on the mountain showed each one of us that when we seek him, we will find him, no matter where we are.

day 6 -11Pastor Martin really touched my heart on this special day. He shared with our team that he didn’t really have a good impressions of Americans, most of the ones he had met were not really people that he wanted to associate with. But he saw something different in our team, he saw love being lived out and our group gave him a different perspective of how Americans could be. I was so thankful for God that we were able to live out life, His way and be a living testament of His love! Thank you Jesus!!