Monday, October 19, 2020

Judgement Withheld

 “Don’t judge others or you too will be judged." ~ Matthew 7:11

Summer’s leisure in Nebraska had turned into the prospects of harvest – a season for thanksgiving, camaraderie, and plenty of elbow grease.  During its recent early morning hours, fourth-generation farmer Jonathon Rempel readied his two children for school when the phone rang.

The voice sounded like the words were formed of smoke, his lungs charred.  “Your harvest equipment is on fire,” Rempel recalled.  “All of it.”  Then the line went dead.

Jonathon flew from their farmhouse, down several miles of dusty roads to where he’d rested his equipment late last night.

The scene was like something out of a horror movie; scorched metal and melted rubber, nothing to salvage.  The air smelled pungent - no wonder the Fire Chief could barely speak. 

The news couldn’t have been worse.  The fire destroyed a tractor, a combine and grain head, two trucks and trailers full of grain, and a grain cart.  All told - several hundred thousand dollars’ worth.

Photographs from the fire quickly went viral on social media, suggesting the fire was politically driven and arson.  “Joe Biden Mob Sets Fire to Farm in Nebraska,” and “Leftist Terrorists Burn Farm Equipment Over Trump” for example.

Rempel confirmed that two flags in support of President Trump were on his combine.  Flags and signs supporting the president weren’t uncommon in Nebraska.  Many farmers have used their harvest equipment as rolling billboards this election year.

But Rempel staunchly avoided making any political connection, sharing instead his thanks in the Facebook Post below:  

“Today was a hard day.

Apparently, sometime early this morning, [all of our harvesting equipment] caught fire at about the same time while parked at a safe distance from each other.

We are devastated by the enormous loss we face from this fire, but at the same time we're incredibly blessed to be from rural America, where the people are the BEST.  

Both of our phones have blown up with a huge out-pouring of support from friends, family, business partners, and strangers offering their physical help, their operational help, and offers of meals in this time of tragedy.

These people are already stretched, stressed and tired, but are taking time to reach out, and offer help and aid in a time of need.  We are so incredibly blessed by everyone!!!  Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us today.  Love, The Rempels

The importance of withholding judgment seems almost impossible in today’s highly charged election.  Maybe we should all try a little harder to follow the Rempel’s example.  And if we find that we really do have enough valid reason to justify our opinions, then we should simply follow the golden rule and keep them to ourselves.

Merciful God, help me overcome the tendency to jump to speedy, and sometimes wrong conclusions that could hurt someone else.  Keep my mind open and my heart ready to be changed so that You can use me to build others up with loving grace, Amen.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Childlike Faith

 “Unless you receive the Kingdom of God like a child, you’ll never enter it.” ~ Luke 18:17

Having helped lead her church’s Youth Group, Morgan had heard this story of Jesus used many times to inspire Christians into living a life grounded in ‘childlike faith’.  She always thought it was a sweet story, but never really grasped the concept … until a child of her own entered their lives.

Now as she watched Emma cuddle their Maltese-mix, Morgan suddenly realized that faith is actually very simple; adults are the ones who make it complicated.  Not God!

Her 1-year old is into everything.  She explores her world with youthful enthusiasm, pulling toys off the shelf and crawling down the hall; giggling in a way that could make fires burn warmer.

She’s so curious about how things work, pushing all the buttons on electronic toys.  New things don’t frighten her.

Even though she wasn’t walking yet, that doesn’t stop her from getting where she wants to go.  If she falls, she gets right back up and tries again. Put things up high and Emma will try to find a way to reach the object of her fascination.

Her eyes shine like pebbles washed by ocean waves; her smile radiates joy in all with whom she interacts.  She doesn't care what the time it is unless she's hungry.  Then in her highchair, she bounces as if dancing to music for her ears only.

Everything tickles her as funny.  Observing that happy child, the Bible verse made perfect sense.

Preoccupied with life’s enormity, we adults create arbitrary boundaries that limit our success and avoid investing ourselves fully in our faith.  Kids ask a bazillion questions: about the weather, about puppies, and where the sun goes at night.  Such youthful zeal is the key to a true connection to Jesus.

“So,” Morgan wondered, “if God wants us to have faith like Emma, it must be OK to ask questions.  It’s OK to doubt Him sometimes; our prayers should reflect the questions on our hearts.  Just like a child, we can ask God when His kingdom will come on earth, when the cancer will heal, or when will she ever stop feeling so lonely.  We should use our imagination to wonder about God.

Which brought to mind another thought.  Kids aren’t afraid to love what they love, and they do so with such gusto and veracity.  If we treated each other with even half as much love as infants do, then the world would be a significantly better place.  

They model the childlike faith that Jesus invites us into, and inspires with an unwavering trust in the world’s goodness.  Childlike faith is as simple as stretching out our gooey, clumsy, human fingers and grabbing the outstretched hand of Jesus.  Its always there.

Dear Lord.  Help us to let down our guard and let You more fully into our lives.  Help us to overcome the obstacles we place in our own path and seek You with our whole heart. Amen.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Chasing the Sun Down

 “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever." ~ Psalm 118:29

October’s evening was just a few minutes old when, without warning, the sky suddenly caught fire.  Bennet's spirit soared at the sight as he was transported into a timeless existence, ready for the protective blanket of darkness and fresh dreams.

Like a wildfire swept forward by wind, hues of yellow, orange, and red bounced off ragged clouds like dancing flames.  As if God's holy-fire was dancing to the rhythm of up-tempo Latin beats.

In moments that seemed perpetual, light painted and repainted the clouds in ever-shifting colors, contrasted against the deepening blue sky - as if the lake too had ignited.  Birds flew peacefully across the sky; the entire world seemed to be quietly rejoicing in the love and care God exhumed from this day.

The sky summoned a universe of color and emotion in its fleeting moments as it rushed headlong into a crescendo.  While some lose interest, Bennet always enjoyed taking in the slow, quiet onset of dusk, spreading out like a ground fog before rising to overtake the sky.  The surge from sunset through nightfall was the best silent film ever made.

He looked to the heavens with a smile on his face and breathed in the cooling fall air.  His heart beat with joy; his mind filled with peace; his soul danced with delight.

People around the world are drawn to sunsets, but in places like Maui, Hawaii, locals embrace the sunset as a daily ritual to give thanks.  Crowds gather to cheer and applaud it, reinforcing the idea that we should celebrate and be grateful for every day.

Bennet thanked God for the simple gift of beauty, love, and happiness that decorated tonight’s horizon. Someone once said that many people see only one sunset in a thousand.  It saddened him to think that these God-given gifts were being ignored by so many.

It made him wonder about all the other Heavenly gifts that he unwittingly missed or ignored.  Did he use his arms to hug enough?  Did he use his voice to laugh, his mouth to smile or his feet to dance enough?  Should he look harder in the barren, humble places where others see nothing?

Important questions to consider. 

In order to make awareness of beauty a permanent fixture in your life, we need to practice being mindful and aware.  Most of the time we only catch a glimpse of how amazing things really are before we get sucked back into the monotony of our routines.

Research suggests that creating a state of constant awareness of how amazing life is can boost your well-being.  Practicing gratitude boosts happiness, sleep and even patience.  Mostly, it brings you closer to the One who gave them. 

Lord, change my outlook and attitude into one of joyful contentment and teach me to offer You a heart of thanksgiving and praise in all circumstances.  Help me to be joyful always, to pray continually and to set a Christ-like example for others.  Amen

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Walking Away

 “Be filled with the Holy Spirit, quoting psalms and singing sacred hymns." ~ Ephesians 5:18-19

As seats filled, the lights began to dim.  A raucous crowd cheered as a young man walked on stage, guitar in hand, his band trailing behind.  The music began to a crescendo of worship and glory lifted high by thousands of adoring fans, fulfilling the command outlined in Ephesians above.

It’d been a great year for the 34-year-old contemporary Christian artist.  His hit single “Reckless Love” ranked as Billboard’s hottest Christian song in 2018; the 4th best in its category of the decade.  Additionally, he’d garnered three Dove awards – honors bestowed on performers within the Christian/Gospel music industry.  But his devotees wanted more.

Creating a work/life balance is a constant struggle for all touring celebrities.  Lurking behind the glaring spotlights, swanky limos and star-studded parties is a seedier side of stardom filled with jealousy, competition, and greed.  The demands of recording, touring, and media appearances can often devastate family life.

The young man stepped to the mic after his final encore.  “God loves you,” he began.  He created you for a purpose. He likes you right where you are - Your imperfections don’t scare him.  Your sin doesn’t intimidate Him.  He paid for you with His very own blood.  Goodnight and goodbye for now!” 

Without hesitation, he left the stage, perhaps at the peak of his brief career.

Twitter was abuzz until he later clarified his intention.  “I’m stepping away for one year – no music or social media.”

“It’s awesome when a blessing happens, but I’ve been traveling a ton,” Cory Asbury explained.  “So, my wife, Anna, and I prayed; asking God for a path to make all this sustainable for our family?”

Anna reminded him of a conversation she’d had with their seven-year-old son, Gabriel.  She asked him if he would like to go on tour with dad to all the big cities and eat all the best food.  Gabriel responded immediately: ”Mommy, I’d rather get pizza and stay home together.”

Asbury couldn’t help feel convicted by the Lord, who asked him a poignant question: “You wrote a song about being reckless and extravagant and throwing it all away for love - could you do that with your family?  Could you throw away career, money accolades, and success?  Because if you don’t, you might not have a family.”

Asbury, who’d wanted to be a professional musician since he was a child, further explained.  “I felt like Abraham (who’d prayed for a son).  When his son was born God asked Abraham to sacrifice him,” he explained. “I can’t imagine him walking up that mountain.” 

And while they’re waiting for God to reveal a significant next step, he and Anna are establishing new boundaries and open dialogue about his career.

“Prison doors fling wide, the dead come to life.  Love is on the move when the Father’s in the room.  Miracles take place, the cynical find faith.  And love is breaking through when the Father’s in the house.  (Cory Asbury – “The Father’s House

Friday, October 2, 2020

What Goes Around

 “It’s simple: act fairly, love kindly and walk humbly." ~ Micah 6:8

Janice first noticed something wasn’t quite right with her son Jake when, at 5 years old, he began experiencing extreme hunger and severe headaches.  The course of their lives would change forever when the boy was diagnosed with a rare form of diabetes.  

‘Brittle’ diabetes is unusually aggressive.  Unlike most diabetics, Jake was unable to feel changes in his blood sugar, causing him to crash frequently.  Janice checked his blood sugar every 2 hours, even while he slept.  Violent seizures meant he couldn’t be left alone.  For more than a decade, he and his family dealt with increasingly dire prospects surrounding his disease.

At 18, the doctor recommended that Jake consider a pancreas transplant, a relatively new procedure that, if successful, could cure Jake of the symptoms of his disease.  After careful consideration, Jake was put on the national transplant list and life became a waiting game.

The call came two weeks before Christmas.

Less than 3 hours away, another family was grieving.  Their son Kalem had suffered fatal injuries in an ATV crash.  An outgoing, charismatic young man who loved snow sports and fishing, Kalem had dreamed of becoming a firefighter.

His parents, Bill and Tish, made the arduous decision to donate his organs.  Tish asked that at least one of Kalem's organs go to a young person.  The donor match was nearly perfect.

Jake’s surgery went well.  He returned home a week later, just in time for Christmas and his mother’s birthday.

Months later, Janice put pen to paper and wrote to the donor’s family anonymously through the transplant network.  To her surprise, she received a letter back from Tish, marking the first exchange in what would become a decades-long friendship; a connection born of one mother's profound loss and another's fervent hope for her son's life.

That bond continued to grow when the families gathered every December for a Christmas tree lighting in honor of Kalem.  The event would also raise money to buy hundreds of bicycles for local children.  But the trips became too difficult for Bill, whose own diabetes left him in dire need of a kidney transplant.

Janice wrote to Tish, asking to be Bill’s donor, never questioning the viability of the transplant.  Intuitively, she knew she’d be a match (the probability of compatibility is less than 50%).  But, after weeks of testing, Janice’s instincts proved correct.

Both surgeries proved successful.  Janice gave back what Bill’s son had given her own child a decade earlier.  While both families shun publicity for their actions, they hope their story will inspire others to become donors. 

They reunited recently for Jake’s wedding celebration held on the one-year anniversary of Bill’s transplant.

Much of life is really about using your platform to spread good will and serve others.  Do good and good will follow. 

Almighty Father, we welcome You to mold and secure our hearts in genuine humility.  Help us count ourselves as equals with one another; that we love all hearts for the uniqueness You made them to be.  Amen

Monday, September 28, 2020

Soft Happiness

 “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." ~ Romans 12:15

Art saw the young man almost every day hiking along the road with his pearl-colored dog.  When cars passed, he always made eye contact and waved enthusiastically.   

Joshua had special needs, having been born with Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that resulted in cognitive and behavioral issues which included an insatiable hunger.  Yet, he had the kind of smile that made you feel happy to be alive and just a little bit more human.

One rainy day Art spotted him and asked if he could use a ride.  Joshua replied timidly, "I'm not really going anywhere, just walkin'.  Thanks anyway Mister!"  

“Son, if you ever need a ride or want help, just flag me down.  I’ll do whatever I can,” Art explained.  Thanking Art again, Joshua continued on his way.

A few days later Art saw the boy walking alone.  Lacking his usual smile, the boy paced aimlessly.  Joshua recognized Art and frantically flagged him down.

As Art approached, he could a sadness in the boy’s eyes.  "My best friend just passed away.  Fighting through tears, “He just didn’t wake up this morning.”

The two headed back to Joshua’s house, an old farmhouse with a spacious porch where the dog lay motionless.  "There!  There he is, that's Randy!" he wailed.  

Art checked the animal and explained that Randy had gone to heaven.  “You won't see him anymore but he'll still be in your heart.”  

Art found some old barnwood, made a marker and helped bury him.  Part of him shared the boy’s pain too.

“Randy was never intended to be Joshua's special companion, but rather a family pet,” explained Joshua’s Mom.  “But the dog immediately took to him.  He just seemed to know there was something unique about Josh and they went everywhere together – even to school.  If Josh was upset or feeling a bit lonely, Randy would jump onto his lap and lick his blues away.  It's like he knew right away how to comfort Josh."

Driving home, Art remembered that a colleague’s female dog had given birth to several puppies recently.  One of them was the spitting image of old Randy himself.  When told of the situation, Art’s friend gave up the little furball immediately.

Art and the pup drove to Joshua’s house.  The boy must have spotted Art driving up the driveway and immediately rushed out to greet him.  When Art opened the door, the small dog barreled out of the car. "Randy!  You came back to me!" the boy said with tears of joy.

God works in such magnificent ways!  Let the joys of small things bring a soft happiness, a sense akin to gratitude and wonder.  Then, when you have won that balance of the soul, you can help others be happy too.

“With a grateful heart, with a song of praise, with an outstretched arm, I will bless Your name.  For all You've done in our lives, we just wanna say thank You Lord.” ~ Don Moen

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Living in the Moment

 “Be still, and know that I am God." ~ Psalm 46:10

I’ll never be able to walk into my Mother’s home and be greeted by her warm embrace.  The phone number I called for 50+ years is no longer in service.  I’ll never smell the sweet aroma of freshly baked peach pie wafting from her kitchen sanctuary again.  These thoughts alone bring tears to my eyes, but she’s still very much alive; just living in sort of an alternate universe. 

I said a quick prayer when we arrived at the memory care center where Mom now lives.  I glanced at my 5-year-old son, Jason, engrossed in the photo album he’d insisted on bringing along.  He has autism, and although I’d reminded him that his grandma might not be as interested in the photos as he was, I couldn’t be sure that he understood.

Clutching the album, he sprung from the car toward the building’s entrance and marched in.  We hadn’t crossed the lobby when my senses were assailed by the smell of disinfectants.

“Mmm, hamburgers,” Jason noted, sniffing the air as if at a barbecue.

We passed the nurses’ station and Jason lead us to Mom’s room where she was napping as usual.  We tiptoed past her dresser, decorated with a collection of family pictures.  I felt sad thinking of how little meaning those images had for her now.

She woke - startled confusion in her eyes : “Who is this little boy?” they questioned.  Unfazed, Jason climbed onto her lap and opened his photo album.  Mom smiled briefly.

He pointed to pictures of my husband, our children and me.  But when he shared pictures of his beloved, cockapoo, Annie, his grin became contagious.  Mom’s smile turned to laughter.  Her response made little sense, but his grandma was happy – that’s all he needed.

I became known as the “the mother of the boy.”  But no matter, she knew who I was and I thanked God for that special moment. 

I looked at my son, battling his own cognitive challenges, and Mom slowly losing the fight against hers.  They snuggled, delighted in both pictures and each other, connecting on perhaps some unique yet parallel cosmos. 

The peace I so badly needed suddenly enveloped me.  I’d been worried about Jason understanding what was happening to his grandma.  Yet I was the one who didn’t understand.

I smelled the nursing home odors.  He smelled hamburgers.

I grieved for the mother I had known.  He loved the grandma who was here now.

I pulled up a stool next to them and basked in the joy they shared so effortlessly.  The positive memories flowed unrestrained; good and nourishing, supportive and kind.  I’ll Iet the sad ones wander off on their own and encourage the good ones to blossom and flourish.

Heavenly Father, help me to be grateful for what I have, to remember that I don’t need most of what I want, and that joy is found in simplicity and generosity.  Amen

Sunday, September 20, 2020

The Best is Yet to Come

"Be careful what you think, because your thoughts will dictate your life." ~ Proverbs 4:23

Eileen, an eldercare aide at the Oxford Assisted Living Home, lowered Ruth into the therapy pool for her strengthening exercises.  The 88-year-old was giddy with excitement as heated water greeted her.  Of all the seniors at Oxford, Ruth was a favorite among her peers and caretakers because of her infectious positive attitude.

After an energetic session in the pool, Ruth wrapped herself in a warm towel.  Her eyes twinkled brightly like a child observing a winter snowfall for the first time.

She leaned into Eileen and spoke softly, “I’m building strength in my legs so I can walk without my walker again one day.”  Her voice was full of hope.  Ruth continued outlining her plans as Eileen listened intently.

“To me,” Ruth continued, "life’s a glorious kaleidoscope; an evolving pattern of shapes and colors.  I’ve accumulated a mountain of memories, but I’m not just an old lady reliving her past and waiting for my time to expire.  It’s never too old to dream: the best is yet to come.” 

Eileen immediately felt both inspired and ashamed.  She began reflecting on her negative outlook on life; especially the constant ingratitude of her current stock. 

Here was an aspirant octogenarian planning for the future, while Eileen, a healthy 30-something female was spending too much time dwelling on the simplicity of her past: no mortgage, no waking up to go to work every day, and on and on.  How pathetic she thought to herself.

When responsibilities and hardships confront us, having the right attitude to keep pushing forward is essential to our mental health and success in life.  It’s easy to shrink back into simpler times when faced with setbacks, thinking to ourselves that the good days are long gone. 

The problem with living in the joys of the past is that we become more skeptical of the future.  Once you’re holed up in that perpetual state, the future becomes discouraging, depressing, even desperate while holding on to the elixir of yesteryear. 

Are the best days of your life behind or in front of you?  Our outlook on life - and our answer to that question - can change with time.  When we’re younger, we look ahead, wanting to grow up. And once we’ve grown older, we yearn for the past, wanting to be young again.  But when we walk with God, whatever our age, the best is yet to come!

Each of us has a finite time on this earth.  So, go ahead and reminisce about the good old times.  But as long as your clock hasn’t hit zero, there’s still hope for a brighter future ahead; days full of laughter and joy.  Beautiful memories and new experiences await you every single day.

Dear Lord, thank You for filling my future with heavenly blessings.  Remind me that You’re saving the best for last – when there’s no more death, sorrow, or pain.  A glorious celebration awaits those who totally trust in You!  Amen

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Second Arrow

 “Take nothing for granted; be thoughtful in prayer." ~ 1 Peter 4:7

Jackson rushed around, particularly anxious to get to work today when WHAM, he stubbed his toe on the solid, immovable patio table.  Sharp pain dropped him deck.  “I don’t have time for this!” he shrieked, clutching his throbbing toe. 

“I’m such a clumsy idiot; this always happens to me.”  Inspecting his darkening toenail, Jackson realized it wouldn’t fit into his dress shoes.  “I’m not even going to be able to wear shoes today, and I have a presentation to give, it’s going to be a disaster.  I’ll be hobbling around all day.  I’ll probably look like a fool in front of my colleagues.”

Toni, his wife, overheard him moaning.  She cocked her head playfully and gently asked, "Do you really need to shoot the second arrow?"

Jackson’s brow furrowed; feeling a mixture of confusion and curiosity.  "What's the second arrow?" he asked.

She spoke deliberately, relishing the opportunity to share her Eastern wisdom.  “Buddhists say that any time we suffer misfortune, two arrows fly.  The first arrow is the actual bad event, which can, indeed, cause pain.  The second arrow is the suffering.  That's actually optional.  The second arrow represents our reaction to the bad event.  It's the manner in which we chose to respond emotionally.”

“We get to choose?” he questioned.

“In essence, yes!”  she responded.  “Consider this alternate scenario.  “Sharp pain drops you to the floor.  Through the tears you let out a little chuckle about your miserable, but painful situation.  You inspect your toe and realize you’ll need to wear sandals to work today.  Jokingly you add that ‘Casual Friday is coming early this week!’ before hobbling to the closet.”

“As soon as we realize we’re suffering, we can give ourselves some compassion for that first arrow (pain).  Most of us have some sort of low-level hum of frustration running in the background.  Ask yourself ‘Do I really need to shoot a second arrow?'  If you choose to shoot it, you may be trying to extinguish whatever just happened by layering on some sort of negative story about how the situation defines our character.”

Friends, if you’re like me, the Arrow #1 represents things I can’t control about life: illness, old age, the slow guy in line in front of me at the grocery store ...

Arrow #2 arrow is the tension I create around the pain: whining about having the flu, hating my thinning, gray hair, firing imaginary laser daggers at the elderly guy unloading his shopping cart one … apple … at … a time.

Prayer is the ultimate stress reliever.  There’s nothing better than giving your problems, stressors, and anxiety to God.  Giving it up to God isn’t easy, but it’s rewarding.  He wants your problems.  He wants you to rely on Him for help.

Almighty Father, forgive me for trying to fix my situations all on my own.  Forgive me for running in different directions and spinning my wheels to find help, when true help and healing must be found first in You.  Amen

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Salty Dog

 “God arms me with strength and makes my way perfect." ~ 2 Samuel 22:31

After glaucoma robbed Omar Rivera of his eyesight 14 years ago, the 43-year-old continued to work for the NY Port Authority as a senior systems designer.  His office sat on the 71st floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower.

On that now-fateful September day in 2001, he and his trusty companion Salty, arrived for work early.  Salty, a yellow Lab, became Rivera's guide dog just a few years before.  At 8:45 a.m., Rivera printed documents to prep for his meeting.

Salty sat calmly beside his desk when they both heard a deafening noise which seemed to rattle the building 22 floors above.  Salty (his olfactory senses 40 times greater than human’s), instantly smelled smoke, peaking his ‘warning’ instincts.

As the electricity shut down and panic set in, Salty could have fled and escaped to save himself.  But there was no way he would his owner behind.  Pacing with a sense of urgency, Salty seemed to be implying, “I’m with you, no matter what!  We need to get to the stairwell NOW!”

Omar snatched up his dog’s lead; Salty led him to the crowded stairwell.  Salty had always loved the city’s fast pace; possessing an uncanny ability to navigate through crowds and cut open a pathway.  For Salty, subways, crowded Manhattan sidewalks, escalators, and revolving doors were no problem.  Despite all the chaos, 9/11 was just another normal day on the job for him.

Given Omar’s condition however, they weren’t making much progress climbing down the stairs.  Believing his loyal K-9 might have a better chance of surviving without him, he unclipped Salty’s leash telling him to go and save himself.

But Salty refused to leave his master’s side.  Spiraling down the emergency stairs, he worked methodically through heat, smoke, falling debris, and confusion.  At floor 30, firemen began climbing up past them, loaded with equipment; unaware of the dangers above.  Most would not return alive.

The faithful dog successfully guided Rivera down 70 floors into the lobby where they were met by fire fighters and FBI agents helping survivors out the main doors.  They were just 3 blocks away when the tower collapsed, killing 1,466 people.

For his bravery, Salty received the Dickin Medal, the animal metaphorical equivalent of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award given for valor to members of the British Armed Forces.  The citation that read, "For dutifully remaining at the side of his blind owner, courageously leading them down 70 floors of the World Trade Center and to a place of safety following the terrorist attack on New York on September 11, 2001.”

Omar retired Salty from guide service in 2007.  He lived out his remaining years by sleeping late and chasing tennis balls.  Salty passed away in 2008, at the tender age of 13.

God of all living things, bring the wisdom of Your animal kingdom into our home.  We call upon the power and the glory of Your holy wisdom to treat this loved one as a holy child  of Yours.  Amen