Unfinished Projects and Foster Dog

Saturday mornings often hold quiet moments when I head to the office to sort through my to-do list, rethink my projects, and drag out one that has been neglected for a while.

Lately, I’ve been making an effort to be more intentional about some of those writing projects. So, if all goes well, three days a week I toil away at rewriting a legal reference guide (an actual paying job!), two days a week I see what I can share on this blog, one day a week I research or write for PeaceBytes.org, leaving one day each week for one very special endeavor.

For three years, Nancy and I were the foster parents for Zoe, also known as “Foster Dog.” During that time span, I tweeted various adventures or nuggets of wisdom from that big white-furred, blue-eyed girl. Because of her popularity, I even began re-running those tweets on this blog.

When Zoe passed on in June, I lost my muse. I discovered she wasn’t merely my excuse for writing or an alter ego character. Foster Dog was a lifestyle. We spent time together. She was a focus of not only our lives, but even the lives of our neighbors. Friends and strangers for blocks around knew Zoe. Kids would run to the street to pet her and talk to her. And, especially if the little one had recently had a snack, she would often respond with a good lick to the face. And we would stop and ask about them.

Those enriching experiences of time with a dog were about her, of course. But they were also about a greater connection with others. A connection I hate to lose.

So, I have initiated a new project — one that had been on my list for six months. Many people — okay, three or four — had suggested that I do a little more writing about Foster Dog. The first several hundred words made their way to that new project file in my writing session yesterday.

The working title is “Foster Dog, Annotated.” My plan is to take the collection of tweets about Zoe and to add a little background about her and about the context of those little micro-adventures — and, if I can work out the details on how to format and produce the little book, a collection of pictures.

My belief is that the finished work will be of more value to me and my family than anyone else. But that’s okay. A stronger belief is that there is no shame in not completely finishing.

That’s the nature of life. Our existence is comprised of unfinished projects. We all have dreams, bucket lists, and even regrets we want to address. We work through our days and we review our inventory. We check a few things off and we move on.

For years, I’ve made the mistake of gaining satisfaction only when I’ve marked a project completely off my list. That’s our culture. We ask about accomplishments. We fixate on what’s finished. We glory in final products. Yet, there’s more to life.

Only recently have I discovered the joy that comes from nibbling at dreams — doing only what I can today and feeling fulfilled by what I was able to do. That perspective makes each new day one of hope and excitement. And, when my head hits my pillow at night, releases me to dream of new hopes for tomorrow.

I hope you can find great joy in nibbling at life. Set high goals. Dream beautiful dreams. But don’t forget to embrace the connections and God-given pleasure along the way.

Unlikely Beauty

In the early morning hours, the dirt trail from the cabin to where I had parked the car was various shades of grey. On my subsequent trips to load our gear, the sun began its slow progress to reach the top of the nearby hill.

My stumbling over stones previously unseen became more infrequent. The wilderness of the trail became featured discovery. “Wild grass,” I thought, “and weeds. That’s all that grow out here.”

I finished loading the car and turned once more to the cabin. It wasn’t until then that I fully realized the unlikely beauty that was poised perfectly in the center of the path.

One of the grey objects I held in disdain just minutes before had, with a little more light, emerged as a true show piece of creation. 

Too often I ignore the unlikely beauty of those things nearby — until I trip across them and find myself astonished. It’s not until I begin to expect beauty and wisdom and grace and wonder that I begin to see it routinely. And it’s not until that moment that I begin to experience joy.

The key to joy in life is not perfection in all of our experiences. The key to joy is knowing and expecting unlikely beauty to be right in our path.

The Gift of Creation

As the sun set just below the bank of clouds to the west, I studied the colors that stabbed through the narrow, horizontal slit between the ethereal and the substantial. And as we all have from time to time, I thanked God for creation.

Driving further, I began to see an echoed gift of that creation. The beauty, complexity, and wonder of what God provides inspires me to create — as it has women and men throughout the ages.

We don’t create in the same way. Something is not fashioned out of nothing. But we create from those elements around us. Colors, words, musical notes, clay, metal, stories.

One of God’s greatest gifts to us is placing the desire to create within us. Just another way we are created in the image of God.

Almost

Every day, it seems I’m almost ready . . .

  • To die to self
  • To let God rule my life
  • To love others because I love Him
  • To live as a totally new creature

Standing at “almost-always” means I still have lessons to learn and steps to take. But it’s okay. God sees me as “alright-already.”