Category Archives: Personal

A dog lover’s lament

Having a dog will bless you with the happiest days of your life, and one of the worst days.

She came into our lives through a gap in the fence. We began noticing that our golden lab was receiving a visitor, a little dog that would come and lie with her in the back yard. Our Jasmine was a hospitable sort, sharing her food and water with this newcomer.

I decided that if I was going to feed this little dog, she was going to be ours. So one day when she came to visit, I patched that gap in the fence, preventing her escape. Princess, as we came to call her, didn’t mind a bit. In fact, she was quite grateful to have been received into the family.

Little did we know that she had brought a family with her. As skinny as this stray was, we didn’t recognize that she was “great with puppies.” Soon there were five little ones running around the back yard, making Jasmine’s life miserable. (She was hospitable toward Princess, but apparently didn’t like kids.)

Princess was easily the most grateful dog I’ve ever seen. She had been rescued from a hard life, having known hunger and abuse. She would run from me if I had a tool in my hand and was fearful of being kicked. She didn’t play; if you threw a ball, she took it as an attack; if you tried to play chase, she hid in terror. She spent most of the day watching the windows and doors, hoping that someone from the family could come out so that she could demonstrate her gratitude and affection.

About a year after rescuing Princess and her pups, we moved from Stockdale to Abilene. Where our back yard in Stockdale was a bit bare, the new one had trees, shade, and … squirrels! Everything that a dog needs to entertain herself.

Or so we thought. Princess proved once again that she believed fences to be obstacles to a better life; the grass was always greener through that hole in the fence. I patched, blocked, repaired, mended, and everything else I could think of… Princess would still find a way to get out and roam the neighborhood.

When we moved to our current house, I took measures to make sure that Princess wouldn’t wander this neighborhood, especially since we lived close to two busy streets. But the escape artist wasn’t to be thwarted, and Princess found ways to get to know the area. Metal edging, chicken wire, concrete, and bricks… we finally got her slowed down. The last weak point to be fixed received a cinder block, and Princess was in to stay.

Though what really slowed her down was cancer. Once when she got out, Princess was rescued by a college student who took her to the vet to be checked out. (We did vaccinations… we didn’t do physicals) The vet found some tumors in Princess’ mammaries. She lasted a couple of years after that (living to be about 14), but eventually gave in to the disease.

Jasmine, our golden lab, died as she had lived, oblivious to what was coming, passing suddenly and unexpectedly. Hershey, one of Princess’ pups that we kept, died as she had lived, cuddled and petted as she was put to sleep in the vets office (killed by cancer, like her mom).

Princess also went in a fitting way. I was going to take her to the vet on Monday. Life had gotten too hard, and she was no longer eating well. On Saturday, with the cold (she hated the cold), we brought Princess inside. But in the afternoon, she insisted on going out. When I got up today (Sunday), she wasn’t to be seen. I went out to the shed where she slept and could hear her, but not see her. I finally realized that she had worked her way under the shed.

It was her last escape, her last move to freedom. She wouldn’t die inside, nor pass on the cold table of a vet’s office. She went through one last gap, somehow struggling deep under that utility building. She was alive when we got home from church, then passed sometime during the afternoon.

I pulled that cinder block out of the hole in the fence and dug a small grave next to it. I placed her head near the hole, leaving her poised for one last romp through the neighborhood.

Goodbye Princess. Good girl!

All red in the face

red-faced monkeyStepping out of theological discussions for the moment, I wanted to say a word for the red-faced among us. You know who you are. Or, should I say, who we are.

I’m a blusher. I turn red easily. For a variety of motives. Something that non-blushers don’t understand.

Turning red is frustrating enough. Having people ascribe motives to my redness is even more frustrating. Let me put it bluntly: you don’t know. Almost never.

Let me tell you why I turn red. The biggest motive for me is perceived conflict. When I have to say something that I know someone isn’t going to like, I turn red. It’s not embarrassment. It’s not anger. It’s not that I’m upset. It’s probably best described as mild anxiety.

From there, I’d say that turning red comes from self-consciousness. Self-awareness. Which means that if someone says, “Look, he’s turning red,” I’m going to turn bright red. Blushing is embarrassing; embarrassment causes blushing. It’s a nasty cycle.

Other things that make me turn red:

  • Exertion
  • Exposure to sun
  • A rise in emotion
  • Shame (both present and past)
  • Sexual interest or arousal
  • Anger
  • Embarrassment

And I could go on and on. As I said, the biggest problem is when others try to read my red face and determine what caused it. “I can tell when Tim is upset.” Baloney. All you know is that my face is red. Maybe I’m remembering a mistake I made in the past; you have no way of knowing.

“You must have been really mad. Your face was red.” Uh, no… maybe I was feeling bad for how bad you were going to look when I pointed out your mistake.

So here’s my tips for dealing with people who turn red

  • Try to graciously overlook their redness.
  • Do NOT ascribe motives to someone’s blushing. (Unless you’re playing poker; maybe it’s a good tell!)
  • Recognize that it’s something absolutely beyond their control.



ZurichOur trip to Israel was made possible by a gift from an anonymous benefactor. They paid my way. The Texas International Bible Institute helped out with a portion of Carolina’s expenses. And we paid another part with hotel points and airline miles.

Because we were flying on miles, we had to get a bit creative with our itinerary. Flying directly from Abilene toIMG_3095 Tel Aviv would have cost too much, so I began looking for intermediate stops that were within our price range. We finally settled on Zurich. I had enough air miles to get us there, and the ticket from Zurich to Tel Aviv was much more reasonable.

One complication was the fact that we would have to leave two days earlier than the group. We quickly saw the advantage in that: we could spend a day in Zurich, arrive in Tel Aviv the night before the group, and be more rested than they when we Zurich lakemet up in Israel.

Carolina and I have been to Spain, but not to the rest of Europe. We were pleased to get to see Switzerland, even though we were warned that Zurich is the most expensive city in Europe.

If you ever go, look into purchasing a ZürichCARD. That’s especially true if you’re going to be there several days. The card pays for all municipal transportation (including a neat boat ride on the lake) and gives you discounts to many museumsZwingliplatz

We didn’t have enough time to do a lot. We walked through the old city, making sure to see the Grossmünster church where Zwingli led the Swiss Reformation (and where they don’t allow photos!), and did the half-hour bus tour. We also Grossmunsterdiscovered that U.S. dollars aren’t accepted anywhere, nor are Euros; be sure and get your Swiss francs! (And make sure your credit card will work… we got into a very awkward, embarrassing situation without acceptable currency and without a working credit card)

Unfortunately, it was cloudy when we were there, so we couldn’t really appreciate the mountains around Zurich. But if you ever get the chance to go, Zurich is worth your time.Zurich

Hither and yon

OK, so the blog has been neglected a bit. And may be neglected some more. Here’s what’s going on:

  • Last week was the campaign on Long Island for Hope For Life ministries (Herald of Truth). We had worked for quite a while organizing this campaign, motivating and training the churches to carry out an evangelistic effort. It was great to see the congregations working together in this concerted effort and to see them excited about reaching out.
  • I had to leave the campaign early. My mom fell a week ago Sunday and broke her hip. She’s now in a facility for physical rehabilitation.
  • Tomorrow, Carolina and I leave on a trip to the Holy Land. A generous, anonymous benefactor offered to pay my way, the Texas International Bible Institute (organizers of the trip) offered Carolina a partial scholarship, and we were able to use air miles and hotel points to defray the rest of the costs. There’s still some expense involved, but it will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Special thanks to Hope For Life Ministries for letting me take the time off, to my sisters for coming to be with Mother, and to TIBI and the donor for making this possible.

I’ll definitely post some about the trip, though I’m not sure that will happen during the trip.

Goodbye Mr. Price

1185458_10200224626090213_1232961308_nI found out that Mr. Price passed away. Robert Price was a teacher for 43 years. He was an educator that stood out from the rest. You can read the letter he gave to his last group of students the year he was retiring.

I can’t remember very many specific lessons from high school. (For those trying to calculate, I was in the class of 1980) I can remember numerous things from Mr. Price’s class:

  • I remember having to be able to identify dozens of animals by order, phylum, etc., after looking at specimens in jars around the class room
  • I remember him using a huge ketchup gun, pretending to draw blood from a student and then eat it, helping to ease the fears of students who were dreading pricking their finger with a lancet
  • I remember the weeklong discussion of “IT” (“you know,” he said, “everyone talks about doing it, getting it, making it…”). He took questions via a suggestion box all week, willing to answer any questions about sexuality. There was a paper bag available for rent for any who got too embarrassed.
  • I remember the unit on ecology, when he turned down the thermostat, covered the windows with black paper and piled trash on the floor (mainly newspapers, but we found the dead fish under it all)
  • I remember the nature walks along the river behind our school

When I’ve been asked over time to name my most memorable teacher, I repeatedly have pointed to Mr. Price.

Mr. Price was also the first openly atheistic person I was ever around. Having had a terrible experience with a minister as a child, he had turned his back on religion. He had his own unique views, suggesting that the various deities in different religions might actually have been aliens who visited the earth.

During his fight with cancer, his ex-students filled Mr. Price’s Facebook page with words of encouragement. It’s a funny thing to me to see how many mentioned they were praying for him. I wonder how that made him feel.

Or did he possibly come to believe during all those years? I certainly hope so. It’s sad to see someone who was so dear to so many pass from this earth without any relationship at all with God. I hope he got past his resentment and found his way to God.

Edit, 10:00 a.m. — I need to include what Chuck Smith wrote in the comment section:

Tim, Mr. Price was baptized a few weeks ago by my dear friend and former Pastor Carl Rohlfs in San Antonio.