What I Learned from a Broken Dog

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Growing up, we had a dog named Trixie. Everyone thinks their dog is special, but none of them were as special as ours. Trixie was smart, happy, and very protective of the youngest member of the family (that was me). One of the most distinctive things about her was her tail. A car had run over Trixie’s tail long before I was born. As a result, she couldn’t wag her tail. It just hung there, limp and lifeless.

Trixie and me (Trixie is on the left)

Having a dog with a broken tail gave me a strange perspective on dogs. Trixie was the first dog I knew, so to me, she was a perfectly normal dog. When I saw other dogs wagging their tails, I assumed there was something wrong with them. “Tails can’t do that!” I knew that was true because Trixie’s tail didn’t do that. And yet there they were—wagging tails, curly tails, happy tails, tails in the air, and tails that moved so fast they were a blur. Those tails weren’t anything like my dog’s tail!

Obviously, there was something wrong with those dogs!

Something happens to us when we grow up with the belief that broken is normal. We simply accept that things are the way they are, and there can never be anything better, whole, or healed in our lives. Broken homes are supposed to be broken, broken dreams were never meant to be, and broken hearts will never mend. You see, in a broken world, normal seems abnormal.

So, when we see something that’s not broken we don’t understand it. How can anyone be that happy? How can families be that kind to each other? How can someone have that much hope?

That’s not normal!

The promises Jesus makes are for broken people in a broken world. In Mark 2:17 he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” That’s you and me! Broken as we are; sick as we are. Can we even imagine being well and whole?

The promise of Jesus seems unbelievable because it’s beyond our broken experiences–
and our broken experiences are exhausting!

The promise of Jesus seems unbelievable because it’s beyond our broken experiences–and our broken experiences are exhausting! Even though it hung there dead, Trixie could make her tail move, but it required her to move her whole body. While running at full tilt, her tail would twirl like a propeller, looking like it was about to send her flying! Of course, it was just an illusion. As soon as she tired out, her tail would fall back, paralyzed and dead.

Brokenness is exhausting. The effort to appear normal is simply too much to maintain. But there, in the face of our exhausting brokenness, Jesus promises, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

In the face of our brokenness, Jesus offers rest. In our weariness from simply trying to appear normal, his call to us is, “learn from me.”

He can show you how to wag again.

What I learned from Watching The Lion King a Bajillion Times with My Daughter

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Remember Who You Are

We raised our oldest daughter, Megan, in the dark ages of the early 90s. This was a time before flat screen TVs and DVD players in cars. It was awful, I tell you!

And home was no better. The TV was massive and weighed a ton and we still used VHS tapes and our old VCR. One of the first things Megan learned to do was toddle over to the TV, click “stop,” “rewind,” and “play” on the VCR and watch The Lion King over and over again.

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We Do Not Lose Heart

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One of These Things is NOT Like the Others

I said in my sermon Sunday that I had permission to share this photo, but I’m probably pushing my luck now!

This picture was taken two summers ago as we rode The Voyage roller coaster at Holiday World. Connor grabbed my hand and dragged me to the line. Trish went along because she was convinced he’d chicken out at the top.

It was one of those rare occasions when Trish was wrong. Seriously, they don’t happen very often.

In fact, this was one time when daddy absolutely was NOT going to leave!

We Despaired of Life Itself

As I stated in the sermon, I don’t think that smile on Connor’s face is just about the roller coaster. I believe it’s because he knows his daddy is sitting next to him. More importantly, he knows that just because things are dark and chaotic at the moment, that doesn’t mean daddy’s going to get off the ride and abandon him.

Sunday we took a serious look at Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11. In this passage he reflects on a time in Ephesus when he was so overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty that he didn’t think he could go on living.

He wrote, “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” If any of you told me that, we would have a serious talk about what you might be contemplating. We dare not minimize the pain Paul was feeling.

And yet, on the other side of such a great despair, Paul found hope. Later in the same letter he wrote, We do not lose heart. . . For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). You don’t come to a place where you can call your struggles “light and momentary affliction” without first feeling despair and finding hope.

I think this is a very important message for everyone who has ever been on the dark and scary ride of life and felt they didn’t have their Heavenly Father to cling to. When the darkness hits, remember your Father is right beside you.