Review for “Cats are Better than Dogs”

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Photo courtesy of Jessica Peterson.

“Look at this,” Mike said walking in one day. He carried in a small tiger-striped kitten under his arms. I knew our daughter Jessie would just love it.  

Mike said,  “I walked into the garage to deliver car parts and I saw two kittens, this one walked right up to me. And the guys there said,  “Why don’t you take that thing home with you. It’s been hanging around all week.”

I looked at the green eyes and beautiful coloring.

Mike saw my hesitancy. Though I myself had a few pets growing up, I also knew what a responsibility they were. But I caved, the cat could stay.

Mike placed the kitten on an end table, waiting for Jess to see her.

And after she shrieked with joy she asked, “Can I keep it?”

We nodded.

What will you call her? we wanted to know.

“Puddie,” she said. “Just like when tweetie pie would say, “I taut I taw a Puddie cat.”

Puddie it was. She adapted easily to us. Or should I say we succumbed to her desires. From the time she moved in, we quickly learned who was in charge.

Some images surface when I think of Puddie. The first time I made popcorn and she bombarded around with every pop, as if she was dodging bullets. Off the couch, into the blinds, over to a chair.

The way she slept underneath the Christmas tree looking up at the lights.

The way she would bop Jessica in the head and then run away. I believe Puddie thought they were sisters.

We loved Puddie. Later as she got older and lost control of her bladder we gave her to someone with a lot of land. It’s hard when you rent. When we visited her we almost couldn’t recognize her reduced waistline. No longer was she eating whenever she felt like it. Instead she got plenty of exercise.

And when we moved we knew we might never see her again. Tears were shed, and still are when we think of her.

I’m writing about Puddie because I recently read a book, Cats are Better than Dogs.  I know Puddie would have loved this book. She thought she was better than everything. Certainly better than my brand new Loveseat she peed on the first day I had it. Much better than that.

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Don’t tell anyone, but I miss Puddie. I miss her soul-full eyes when I would be sad. Eyes that looked right through me. I missed the hours of entertainment we had watching her antics. I miss the way she loved Jess, sitting there as Jess dressed her up.  

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Photo courtesy Jessica Peterson.

Puddie seemed to say, “how long do I have to take this?”

Yes, Puddie would have loved this book, and you will too. So check out Cats are Better than Dogs, and whether you’re a cat lover or a dog lover, you will find yourself smiling.

Just like I do when I think of Puddie.

He Cried with Me

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My heart was heavy. How would we make it without our brother?

Martha stood before me, “The Master is calling for you.”

The weight around my heart released its grip. I knew he’d come. I ran towards Him. I had to see Him. He would understand.

And seeing Jesus, I fell down at His feet—my safe place to fall. (Tweet that)

From the first time I met Him, I devoured every word He’d say. I had to. Those words would sink into the deepest parts of me, like a healing balm. And when He spoke it was as if He knew me. My thoughts, my heart, the real me.

He’d come to our home and Martha would fuss. Martha loved fussing. She’d even get upset with me. Wanting me to get up and fuss with her.

But I wasn’t going to miss one word. Not one. And now in our grief He was here.

I stood up though my heart tried keeping me down. Grief weighs heavily. The closer the loved one— the heavier the weight.

Somehow standing next to Him I knew He’d help us through this. Jesus loved Lazarus. Oh Lazarus. How I ache.

The words forced their way out of my mouth.

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

He knew how I felt, whether I spoke it or not.

That “if only,” had tormented me for hours, ever since we saw him stop breathing. We were just so sure Jesus would come. His absence made everything much harder. Impossible.

And now, standing beside Him, my tears fell freely. This was my brother I lost, the one I shared my life with.

Looking up, I saw Jesus’ eyes. There were no looks of judgement. He felt no need to rebuke me in His gentle way.

He wasn’t disappointed in my humanness. Instead, I saw His compassion, reflected in His tears.

And in His grief, He prayed.

Grief would not stop Him, nothing would stop Him from acknowledging God. He thanked God for hearing Him.

He showed me God can always be reached, no matter where we are.

And Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come forth!”

The air was quiet. I saw the faces of those around me. Those who had loved Lazarus, loved us.

I struggled to believe good would come out of something so hard. But somehow with Jesus there, it seemed possible. With Him all things were possible.

All eyes were on the tomb. The anticipation was thick. No one moved.

And then, we saw him still bound, walking toward us. There was no question it was him. Martha and I had put those grave clothes on. Carefully, we dressed him, remembering our times together.

And now here he was. I caught my breath. Time stood still.

We ran to him. Embraced him.

He had been gone, yet he stood before us.

I always felt my Master loved me. But today I see how much. Do you know why?

He cried with me.

How my Poetry Got Into Stores

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photo courtesy creative commons

It was 1994. I went to visit my friend, Arlyce.

While there I quoted her one of my poems, I Have These Holes.

“You have to do something with this,” Arlyce said.

Knowing my husband Mike was an artist she said, “Why don’t you take some of your poetry and put it with Mike’s art?”

A collaboration

A couple weeks later, Mike and I stood in a print shop beaming, as we watched our first piece of poetry art come out of the printer.

I showed the finished pieces to friends who liked them. I took some to college where I was a returning student. I’d bring them there and sometimes bring home money.

One instructor asked if I’d share my poetry at her home. And “poetry parties” were born. I created invitations she would mail out to her friends.

I would share stories of my life, intermingled with my poetry. People connected and then would purchase the pieces.

At another poetry party, five women bought my piece, I’d Marry You Again.  At the bottom of the piece was a drawing of two people holding hands. It was Mike and I. He held my hand while drawing with his other hand.

The first company

“I’m going to show this to my boss,” Nancy said.

Her boss was the owner and creator of Creative Calligraphy.

“That’s fine,” I answered, though inwardly I had already decided I didn’t want to work for anyone.

I have to smile when I think about how God stretched me. Creative Calligraphy became the first company interested in my work. I was paid a monthly amount for the use of my poetry. Later it reverted to royalties.

A turning point

One fall my friend Jenny asked me, “Are you going to be in the craft show? There will be so many people there because of Pumpkin Fest.”

“I don’t have the money,” I answered.

“You have to be in it,” Jenny insisted. “I’ll pay your fee.”

Packing my rubbermaid tubs with framed and unframed pieces, I did the two day show. Selling over $350.00 worth of poetry. Little did I know where it would lead.

A letter

A couple of days later I received a letter through the mail.

You don’t know me, my name is John Larson. My mother-in-law recently saw your work at a craft show in Sycamore. She was so impressed she told me I had to see it. I was wondering if you’d be open to a meeting with me.

John Larson owned a gift company that produced poetry on plaques. He wanted to pay me for the use of my poetry. Again my poetry was in more stores all over the place.

And John introduced me to a second company. A company I have been with for 13 years and counting. And still another company contacted me just two years ago. No longer am I afraid. Experience has been a good teacher.

A phone call

I once wrote a paper entitled, To Publish or not to Publish: A Poet’s Dilemma.

The majority of sources stated people could not make money writing poetry. In my stubbornness, I decided to prove them wrong.

But on my way to doing that I discovered what matters. Touching people with my words.

The phone rang some years back. A man’s voice began,

“Is this Anne Peterson? I heard you might know where I could get a copy of the poem,
I Have These Holes.

“Where did you see the poem?” I asked.

“It was in a funeral home,” he said quietly.

“Who did you lose?” I had to ask.

“My son.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I told him. “When did you lose him, may I ask?”

I caught my breath when I heard, “Two days ago. You see I read your poem and can’t get it out of my mind.”

Our words can touch others. But in order to do that, we have to share them. We have to take a risk.

What risk are you willing to take?

Are you Ready?

Are you Ready

Did you ever dream you get somewhere unprepared? Maybe you go to school and realize you’re still in your pajamas.  Or you find out there’s a test and you forgot to study.

Being unprepared is scary. It presses that “I’m dumb” button inside us.

And yet, we all feel that way at one time or another. We think everyone else has it all together. Maybe they don’t.

A new year

We just started a new year. Ready or not the giant ball in New York floated down. It’s here.

People have begun making their lists of goals or resolutions. Brave souls share them. Others join groups for accountability.

Having goals or resolutions is fine as long as we don’t overdo it. Then nothing is accomplished.

I have a few areas I want to focus on. My health, both physical and spiritual, and using my gifts.

Becoming healthier

For my health, I have discovered the benefits of walking. I feel better when I walk. A couple of weeks ago I started walking regularly again.

Since I’m not a fan of falling on ice, or winter, I walk indoors.  Using a walking DVD I walk anywhere from 3-5 miles.

Drinking water is another healthy habit I want to incorporate. Why? Basically because I don’t drink water. And I’ve yet to find anyone who thinks that’s a good idea.

Reading the Bible

I’ve also decided I want to read the Bible every day. While I’ve been a regular reader of devotions and use scripture for reference, that’s not enough. I want to take God’s love letter out and read it for myself. There’s a big difference. So today I started a one year reading plan. Check.

Writing

As far as using my gifts, I took a challenge and am writing at least 500 words a day. This will be for 31 days. Writing is like breathing to me, so I don’t think this will be difficult.

We don’t wake up January 1st thinking, Hey, I’ve got to come up with some resolutions. We’ve started thinking about this long before we bought confetti for New Year’s Eve.

We know what needs to be done, we just need to do it. Tweet this.

I am a token-reinforcement person. I like charting accomplishments.  And I do it in one of the most sophisticated ways. Well, not really.

I like stickers. And I especially like putting them on charts so I can visually see my progress. So many times I have done something mainly because I didn’t want to have a blank spot on my chart.

Let’s see, I could have one sticker for drinking water for the day. Maybe a picture of a little glass. I could have stars for reaching my Bible reading quota.  And maybe another when I complete my daily writing.

Then I’ll need another sticker for walking. That’s a lot of stickers.

Stretching

With all this self-analysis I’ve recognized another area I need to grow. My ability to stretch. 

No, I’m not talking about exercise here. I’m talking about my resistance to change.

I’m one of those people who sits in approximately the same spot in church, every week. I eat a lot of the same foods over and over, and basically, I shop in the same stores.

Sometimes my lack of variety gets to me.

So, in view of that, I’m going to embrace my resistance and learn how to incorporate change into my life.

Why not add a little variety?

Maybe instead of star stickers, I’ll get smiley faces.

Goodbye 2013

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The year is almost over. For some, it’s been a year of hard times, lots of tears.

While others may wonder if the coming year will be as good as this one.

We have finite minds. It’s the way God made us. But I wonder if we could handle some things, knowing they were coming.

God in his wisdom decides what we should know. And it’s in his timing.

We think we need to know now.

When I sat in the courtroom at 26th and California for my sister’s murder trial I remember thinking. This whole thing would be easier If I just had more information. Then maybe I’d feel more in control.

I was wrong. The more I found out, the worse I felt.

We are encouraged to walk by faith. I’d rather walk by sight.

God wants to develop my faith muscles. The world tells me, “Be independent.”

God says, “Take my yoke upon you.” “Don’t lean on your own understanding.”

Life is hard

If life were easy, we wouldn’t need God. We’d do well by ourselves, thank you very much.

But God has things in store for us, things we can’t imagine. And he reveals them, a little bit at a time.

He asks us to trust him. We’d rather call the shots.

We say God is good at orchestrating life, but then we keep grabbing the baton out of his hand. (Tweet that.)

I remember when he said to me,

“Open your Hand” 

What is that you are holding in your hand
in your fist that is closed ever tight?                                                                    

What is that you are purposely keeping from me,
for you feel that you have the right?
Don’t you know as you grow in your walk with me,
I can see even things that you hide?
Oh, if you only knew what’s in store for you,
you would open your hand so wide.

I once heard a speaker say regarding our responses to God, “delay is still disobedience.” Ouch.

I agree with God on what needs to be done, sometimes. But I often dance with him about his timing. I even try to take the lead.

God tells us to keep in step with him. Instead, I’m either behind him, pushing him. “Come on God, let’s go.”

Or I’m ahead of him trying to drag him along. God is heavy.

And all the while I proclaim on God’s daughter.

Well I am. But sometimes I’m his stubborn daughter.

2014 is Almost Here

I like new beginnings. Endings are sad.

So here I am packing up 2013, so I can welcome the new year.

But first, I want to say thank you.

God, I had no idea what you had in store for me in 2013, you had me launch a book, you took my brother Steve home. There were health challenges for me, for my brother George. Yet, none of this surprised you. You are all-knowing. 

And while I have no clue about this coming year, you are the God of all time. You’re already there.

Give me wisdom God. Help me when I want to run ahead of you. Help me rest under your wings.

And when you ask me to do something. Let me take off my pride and just listen. You know better than I do. No matter how I come across.

Thank you for this year, Lord. Help me follow you better in 2014. I pray this in your Son’s precious name. Amen.

 

What if They’re not Missing Anything?

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Photo Jyrki Kymäläinen via Creative Commons

Wow, look at that!

Whenever we witness something amazing, the first thing we want to do is share it.

Love wants to share

Maybe you’ve seen a sunset that takes your breath away. Immediately you think of someone you want to share it with.

Tuck it in your pocket. Save it for when you get to heaven.

And maybe when slipping our memories out to share we’ll be surprised to hear,

“You should have seen it from here!”

My sister Peggy and I used to talk on the phone for hours.

We never ran out of things to say no matter how often we talked. Never.
And when she died, I began thinking about her in a different way. Long distance.

We think they’re missing out

As I traveled through life sister-less I thought about all the things she didn’t know about. She never met my daughter, my grandsons, Jude and Charlie, and now my little granddaughter, Ruthie.

And when I’ve thought about how she didn’t share my life, it stung.

But what if she hasn’t missed them. She saw them all, we just didn’t see them together.

Like when I learned how to drive in my 30‘s or when I graduated college in my 40‘s.

Maybe at our reunions with loved ones, as we settle in to share.

Maybe we won’t be the only ones talking.

A different perspective

I’ve thought my sister missed out on seeing my precious daughter.

But what if God gave her a sneak peek before he handed Jessica to me?

It’s something to think about.

I believe we’ll have unfathomable joy at our reunions. Whenever Jesus rose someone from the dead people rejoiced.

We know those in heaven are in a better place. One day we’ll be joining them.

God understands

God knows our hearts broke when our loved ones died. He gathered up our tears, slipping them in a special bottle he keeps with him.

But one day, the time we spent missing them will be like a vapor, a mist. Like nothing.

So when I experience life after a loved one dies, I’ll stick a post-it note on it with the words,

“For Later.”

We’re a culture who doesn’t like to wait. From microwave popcorn, to drive-throughs, our attitudes scream, “I want it now.”

But we have to wait for some things.

It builds our anticipation, our character.

Even God waits

God had to wait for 33 years after he placed His Son in a manger. God waits for us to turn to Him.

This Christmas I’ll once again be thinking of lost loved ones. But maybe I can change how I think about them.

We’ll spend Christmas pondering the birth of a baby king. Those in heaven will hear the angels rejoicing, up close and personal.

We have no idea what is in store for us.

We’ll get there, greeted by our loved ones. And after unbelievable hugs they’ll say,

“I’m so glad to hold you again, but I never stopped watching you.”

And maybe we’ll smile, realizing it’s true.

We’re seeing the same stars those in heaven see. They’re just a little closer to them.

For now.

Note: This post was inspired by a post by my friend, Pamela Hodges
entitled, My father’s last Christmas.

Looking for Christmas?

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Photo courtesy of Jessica Peterson.

It used to be easier to see Christmas. We might see Santa in a store or two, but that’s not all the signs we’d see.

There used to be carolers. People who would brave the elements just to sing the all-familiar carols. I used to be among them.

And yes, stores were crowded. But shoppers sometimes held doors for other shoppers, they didn’t trample them on the way to a Black Friday sale.

The anticipation of a longed-for Christmas gift has been replaced by a list you’re expected to fill.

Placing your newly wrapped gifts under the tree you wonder if they’ll really like what you’ve chosen or will you get an obligatory “thank you.”

Christmas is still here

It’s just hidden sometimes, but that’s okay. While we’re told to have a Happy Holiday, we know it’s Christmas. No matter what they call it.

Children used to sing, “Away in a Manger” at school assemblies with smiling parents joining in, misty-eyed.

Listen carefully

We need selective hearing. We need to silence the noise and listen for the music.

In the distance, you may hear a mother humming a lullaby. She cradles the infant, holding him close. This baby King of Kings.

Did she care he was born in a stable? Perhaps her greatest care was the one all mothers have—that he would be okay.

Yes, you have to listen for Christmas.

For Christmas will come whether we anticipate it or not. No matter how we see it.

  • Yes! Christmas is here. I’ll have extra time off work.
  • Oh no. With Christmas coming, I’ll have extra work to do.
  • Yes. I get to see my family. 
  • Oh no. I have to see my family.

We’ll be pulled in many directions at Christmas.

There will be things vying for our attention, our approval, dare I say it? Even our money.

Be still

We won’t find Christmas in the chaos, nor in the malls. We won’t even find it at the many Christmas parties we’ll attend. Parties with too much food, too much drink. Too much everything.

No, we won’t find it there. But make no mistake, we will find it. We’ll find it in the quietness.

And if we hush ourselves within, we might hear angels rejoicing.

One year I wondered what Jesus thought about Christmas. And he told me:

Don’t Forget me

As you’re making preparations for the coming days ahead,
As you’re baking and you’re shopping, each night dropping into bed,
While you’re putting final touches on your almost perfect tree,
Would you take a precious moment, just to stop and think of me?

People make their celebrations, some are big ones—some are small,
I just find it disappointing they don’t think of me at all.
For it was so long ago, I was born one silent night
And my Father up in heaven, lit the sky with one great light.

As you celebrate this Christmas with your friends and family, 
Just remember—it’s my birthday, and your party is for me.