therapy for dog-parents, parents and apprentices of Jesus

With all the accumulated experience of six decades, including a quarter-century of military experience, thirty-five years as a dog-parent, and almost 22 years as a parent (I was adopted into the family), I thought I was psychologically prepared to be home with my dogs most of the day (and night). With our transition to self-employment and semi-retirement, the stress that accompanied the prior decades of work, has resolved itself. Even now, as the ‘work from home’ response to COVID is disappearing, the urge to resume that prior life is gone. Neither of us now are known by Starbucks baristas, or frequent restaurants, movie theatres or shop daily on Amazon as a consumerism therapy. For ten years a visit with our now-adult children is therapeutic for both their mother and me.

Cooking and baking is both physical and mental therapy.

Mary Berry, British celebrity chef
Yogurt-molasses (w cherry) bread

The time is long gone when I used to go off to mountains or beaches or take days-long driving adventures. I was single and generally irresponsible then. Much of the stress in my early years of adulthood was due to indebtedness and immaturity. The saving Grace (God through Jesus Christ), which is far more therapeutic than any I could conceive, came to be, in part, because I was a dog-parent. I found one of the only places in San Diego County that accommodated my life with large dogs as an apartment dweller. This led to an invitation to church; to begin an apprenticeship with Jesus; and begin a Christ-centered marriage now in its 22nd year.

Reading as therapy

A wonderful book I have been reading for the last month, The Relentless Elimination of Hurry, by John Mark Comer, is a good primer on taking steps to slow down our generally self-imposed busy-ness. People have little time to devote to relationships, human or spiritual, due to demands of finances, work, school, sports, hobbies, or “toys”. This frustration and busy-ness boils over in flaring tempers, alcohol abuse, depression, or becoming inattentive parents or spouses. For me, as for the writer, the alternative to this destructive path, is stop purposefully to read Scripture with intention. Humbly, find a quiet place and develop a focused time to meditate on God.

I think the only kind of acceptable evangelization is the evangelization of good example.

Andrew Greeley, priest, sociologist, author (d. 2013)

Baking as therapy

For more than a year, we found that we are living more responsibly and with less – of everything (on purpose). I still have time to indulge in cooking and baking. Taking the dogs on better and healthier walks (especially for this dog-walker). I spend more time blogging. We can and do take time to encourage each other, our children and grandchildren. I built a garden bed from used materials stored in the garage, planted vegetables, and generate fertile soil from compost. From the clutter of magazines (subscriptions), we culled a few pages of recipes and sent everything else to the recycling bin. Now, we have started to plan meals and bake or cook. It has led to eating better and eating less. We are scheduling times to have family and friends come to lunch or dinner. There is a lot more flexibility on our part, putting into practice unhurried living. And it is enjoyable to serve friends the things I make. Last week, i made shortbread lime dessert bars. On Monday, I made a yogurt- molasses bread for my wife. And today, a Thai- inspired ground- turkey burger for an early dinner. And some blueberry- cherry muffins that we’ll enjoy before heading to work tomorrow morning. (I’ll bring a few for our client.)

Lime- shortbread bars

humility test

Now, if you recall I began by saying I thought I was “psychologically prepared” to be home with my dogs most of the day and evenings. However, like small children that crave your attention, my dogs also crave attention during the time I am home. But they also have developed annoying habits that defy my commands to stop, as well as the medication I give them to ‘knock ’em out” But I am becoming better equipped to handle not knowing what to do. And waiting on the LORD to provide.


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