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When my son comes to me and asks what he can do to help, I answer with a list of things that need to be done: clear off the dining room table, put away the books in your room, help your sister find her socks. "No, I want to do something that really helps," he says. I caught on a few years ago to this. "Tom, you're looking for the big glamorous helping jobs -- like winterizing the porch or hanging pictures or fixing the gate. Those need to be done -- but they're not essential for right now. What really helps me is if you do the jobs that need to be done right now." He doesn't like that answer, and I guess that's what you're saying Dory about how we all respond when the job is mundane, ho-hum helping. But that's not how the Lord sees it, for to Him it is glory.


This is so true Dory, how can we envisage the bigger things, if we are not faithful in the small things.

Be encouraged!


Very good take on things. Just emailed this to my hubby at work. I think this is something we can all consider. I've been struggling with knowing what my gifts are, yet I probably have a gift just in caring about the welfare of others. Sometimes it's just that easy.


Hi Dory,
I've missed you and have been thinking of you. This is a great post.


Such an excellent post on an important subject. God is truely glorifed in the mundane.

Blessings to you!


“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to WALK HUMBLY with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

For those of us who expressed concern (even to the point of exhorting you) in your lifestyle adjustment -- we can sit back and relax – knowing that God continues to bless you and the mightiness of your pen. Beautiful work!

Ashley Bowers

Hi Dory,
How have you been.This is a great article.


Dory -- during this season of wonder, hope and joy – I wanted to add (albeit a little late) to your most recent post, “Waiting for That Spectacular Ministry …,” and to “On Dogs and Grace” (12 April, 2005), by sharing our Family & Friends Christmas Card supplement, “Charlie’s First Christmas – A Gift Reluctantly Accepted.”


Before Charlie, there was Peggy, a black and white, American Staffordshire Terrier (often called a pit bull) – gentle, sensitive, and very protective of Mom, who was confident and secure with the dog because of its strength and fierce reputation. Peg always rode shotgun when Mom drove her 1967 Volkswagen – the two enjoyed traveling the town and country roads of Fowler, Fresno and Selma. After Peg died, Mom said she would never have another dog -- but, this is the story of how Charlie, a yellow Labrador Retriever, came to find a place in our home, and in our hearts.

At dawn on Monday, 9 April, 1990, I was foraging for our newspaper among the geraniums, still sleepy after a late drive home from a weekend in San Francisco. Looking east into the low, bright morning sun—I was distracted by flies in silhouette, swarming above an animal carcass in the street. After placing a wet San Francisco Chronicle in the kitchen sink, I walked over to check out the situation – thinking the SPCA would be called for a pick up.
It didn’t move when I touched it—a dog with a terrible stench, caked with dried blood, road dirt and paving debris—maybe decomposing through the weekend. Large patches of fur were missing – totally absent around the neck, where it was still tied with electrical cord and a wire clothes hanger. An abused runaway—hit by a car, I thought. The circling flies were now in frenzy – flies that somehow, on closer look, became small darting butterflies, bright Orange Skippers – as the dog coughed with a paw jerk reflex. It was alive!

It was difficult to get his large frame into a garden wheel barrow – he cried as he was unloaded on our front porch; but he didn’t move or open his eyes. When Ellen came downstairs for breakfast, I said that an advertisement would be placed in The Fresno Bee for a “Missing Dog”—“but please don’t be overly nice to him – if he lives, maybe he’ll choose to go home.” The unfortunate animal was repulsive; but I did my best to treat his extensive wounds and injuries. We gave him nourishment and water via syringe, until he was able to eat solids.

Although he slept nearly all of the time, we bathed him as soon as he was able to get on his feet—a difficult chore that consumed an afternoon. After a month passed, no one claimed the dog; and he did not leave the front porch, except to fertilize our nasturtiums. Neighboring “dog lovers” reminded me, several times, that no one adopts big dogs at the SPCA; and he would most likely be put to death – if the SPCA was considered as an option.

“I hope God is not asking us to keep this dog,” I conjectured to Ellen. But during the fifth week, he was taken to the veterinarian for an examination and vaccinations (his heart was suspect, and he would walk with a limp for the rest of his life); and he was licensed at the Fresno City Hall annex with the name “Charlie.” “Thanks a lot, God,” I muttered to myself.

After licensing Charlie, I reluctantly accepted a new family member, while committing to his rehabilitation. We walked at sunrise everyday – from our house on the corner of Eleventh Street, ten blocks west along the shady camphor trees of Huntington Boulevard with its older residences, to Holmes Playground (two miles round trip) for daily workouts. The task was to gently exercise his heart and injured legs—and to teach him how to survive on city streets, by waiting at the curb to let traffic pass. Charlie learned quickly – his strength and energy returned quickly too.

As Charlie settled into a comfortable routine, a more relaxing walk at sundown was added. Regular walkers and joggers were attracted to his happy and cheerful disposition – to his puppy like enthusiasm when receiving doggie treats. Now a very likable, handsome yellow Labrador, adults—not children—rang the doorbell asking to walk or to play with Charlie.

Mom began showing telltale signs of aging in the early fall of 1987, as the doctor started her on medication for hypertension and type II diabetes – influenced by poor eating habits and stress. When Peg died more than a year later, Mom went into a steep, emotional tailspin. She lost her protector and companion—the focus of her day-to-day activities. In October of 1990, as darkness seemed to come earlier with a return to Standard Time, I began leaving Charlie in Fowler two or three days each week. When Charlie visited Mom, he expected to return home with me the same day – showing disappointment at having to remain behind. This was a difficult situation for both of us—we had become inseparable, best friends.

Charlie tried to be Mom’s friend – but she turned away his attempts, still mourning the loss of Peg. And she very much resented training instructions for the dog to “stay close to Mom.” Soon however, Mom’s relationship with Charlie changed, as her birthday arrived at the end of November – his gentle, loving manner was growing on her; and she suggested that, “maybe Charlie should stay with me (permanently).”

In discussing the new relationship between Mom and Charlie with my cousin, Kathy – she asked, “you can’t deny your mother, can you?” “No – but I don’t want to give him up,” was my response. However—accepting the inevitable—my new, inseparable best friend was moved to Fowler with his food, toys, equipment, and blankets. Charlie’s presence and influence altered Mom’s mood quickly; and her depression gave way to happiness – she now had a companion to care for and walk with each day. I missed Charlie; but Mom was sensitive—and generous with my dog. She decided that Charlie would spend two days per week in Fresno with me, as a kind of joint custody arrangement and concession – take it, or leave it – the offer was not negotiable.

Since the onset of Mom’s health problems, we made a high priority of spending quiet Christmas Eves with her—to open a few gifts together, and to sing carols over steaming bowls of udon, and a dessert of manju and persimmons (Japanese noodles in broth and azuki bean pastry). This Christmas Eve, however, Mom wasn’t feeling well (due to strong medication for a misdiagnosis—we learned later). And so we ate very little and opened no presents. She wanted to go to bed early, asking Ellen and me to take Charlie home with us—to walk him in the morning. She said that they had missed their daily walk in the park, across the street, for the last two days.

“Can you put the presents, food, and Charlie in the car before we say goodbye to your mother,” Ellen asked? I turned to the dog, commanding him, “come on – let’s go.” He refused to leave Mom’s side – “let’s go, Charlie,” I said again. He had never disobeyed me before; and he only nuzzled closer to Mom. “I don’t know what’s wrong with Charlie,” I called out to Ellen, who was cleaning up in the kitchen—“but, I’ll load the car first, and take him with us as we leave.”

Returning from the car to get the dog, I found Mom on the floor – disoriented and unable to get up. Charlie, with sensitivity and intuition, knew she had not been well for a few days – and he refused to leave Mom alone. Ellen drove home without me – Charlie and I took turns sleeping on the couch that long watchful Christmas Eve. I was awed – grateful and humbled – feeling unworthy for not wanting this wonderful gift more than eight months earlier. Dispatched to us by benevolent omniscience – a personal envoy to mend broken hearts and rekindle life in aging bodies, Charlie made this a very special MERRY CHRISTMAS for our family.

hot grill

About the 6-year-old and 46-year-old being able to collect up the discarded bulletins that are left in the pews at the end of the church service,,, I'm ashamed of my self, for I'm 26 and never have I done that or thought that it’s of great service to God,, even when I saw litters I just rant "oh brats! Don’t they realize this is the house of God?” I'm terrible. Thanks to this nice post.

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