staying the path...
We have certainly had our share of four-legged family members in our 22 years of marriage. Our first was A.J. The funniest looking little "old-man-in-a canine-body" who had been my husband's companion many years before he met me. There were Sadie and a Tucker, both hound mixes and both almost as naughty as Naughty Dog. Daisy was our first pure bread. A golden retriever who knew absolutely nothing about retrieving all of her years she was with us. Bella, the German shepherd, was a later addition who joined the family while Wayne was working long periods of time out of town. Naughty came home shortly after Bella. Now there is Lou Lou, our latest golden retriever. My son and I had big plans for her. She was going to go to obedience school and have all the training to be a therapy dog. Then she came home and met Naughty. Naughty and Lou Lou quickly bonded. If Naughty goes for a walk, Lou Lou cries. If they aren't kenneled together at bed time, the whining doesn't cease. They enjoy hours of time racing and tearing in the back lawn, biting at one another playfully. They nap together, and sometimes find trouble together. How quickly Lou Lou has picked up on some of Naughty's bad habits! She acquired small things at first, like barking at the neighbor or climbing on furniture. She quickly graduated to eating "undergarments" with Naughty, and now will help herself to whoever's underwear are atop the dirty laundry basket!
This bonded duo was something I found quite comical (although, at times expensive!) until this morning...
Wayne and I were having our breakfast when it came time for him to head to work. I eat much slower than he does, so I proceeded to push my mostly full plate back on the table and walk with him to the door. Upon returning I discovered my bacon standing all alone on my paper plate. My bagel was gone. Instantly I thought of Naughty. "Where is that beast?!" I muttered to myself as I stomped through the house to the living room. Surprisingly, she was sound asleep on the couch. Upon further examination of the scene of the crime, I discovered a more likely suspect cowering under the school table with her back to me. Her head was down low and I could hear her gulping hastily on her prize as if she was trying to hide the evidence. Yes, Lou Lou had pulled a Naughty. She had stolen my bagel.
When I think of the slippery slope Naughty has lead Lou Lou down, I think on the verses my husband went over many times with his youth group boys, and this same scripture I find myself now utilizing with our own boys. These verses and how they apply to our lives were engraved early on in our walks by our Pastor John.
"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers." Psalms 1:1
Notice how "the man" at first is walking with the wicked? Soon he has stopped and is "standing". Whatever has been said or offered has caught his ear. He wants to know more. Soon in the scripture he is "sitting". Now the "sinners" or temptations have his full attention. They got 'em hook, line, and sinker. He is on a different path--the wrong path. The "table-surfing-bagel-stealing-path"!
Raising teenage boys has been one of my biggest blessings, but also one of my biggest struggles. This world is just plain hard. Yes, it would be easy to keep them here, within the safety net of our home and under mom and dad's constant supervision. That idea is just not realistic. Like Wayne and I, our boys are all over our small town engaging with all varieties of people. We encourage them to. They need to learn: learn how to be a good friend, learn what makes a good friend, learn how to make wise choices. They have seen what the "wrong path" looks like and have endured its harsh consequences--sometimes through watching a friend's experience, or having their own "detours" on that wrong path. Someday, Lord willing, if they survive these teenage years, our boys will become men--men with families to provide for, care for, and protect. With that in mind, they will need to know how best to function in this messed up world--how to "stay the path" God desires for them to be on.
"But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." Psalms 1:2-3
I realize we are on the early side of these teen age years. Some of our biggest detours are most likely ahead. I mean, Wayne and I are in our 40's and still struggle "keeping it between the ditches". We continue hanging on to His word, His promises, and we trust He will always "pull us out".
""Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledged my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation."" Psalm 91:14-16
Now, as for Lou Lou? I don't see any therapy dog vest in her near future. Can I undo the damage of her walking the wrong path with Naughty Dog? I doubt it. She will most likely continue "sitting with the mocker" and graduate from stealing bagels to swiping apple pie and pizzas. She will someday be "passed the torch", and the legacy of Naughty Dog will live on…