Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: dogs

Book Review: Stanley at School

stanleyatschool25439356Stanley at School, Linda Bailey, Kids Can Press, 2015.

This is a fun little book about a dog named Stanley who is curious about what the kids do in school. He asks his dog friends at the park, but they do not anymore than he does. He convinces them to join him in breaching the school doors. And what could go wrong with four dogs in an elementary school?

Bill Slavin’s illustrations are perfect for the story. They are colorful, fun, and engaging. The illustrations, like all good illustrations, help tell the story. These are no different. The bright pictures reinforce how Stanley and his friends drive the story. In fact, you do not hear a human speak until the custodian, with his broom in hand, says, “Bad dogs.”

Continue reading

Let Me In

A few months ago Roux and I spent a few days with Mom in Studley. Roux was hanging out on the back deck.

Roux Come In

Path of Grace

Read Psalm 121.

Lent Ponderings - jasoncstanley.comMy family used to have a collie named Penny. She was a rescue. A friend Dad’s found her in a ditch and we adopted her. I loved that dog. She was sweet and kind. She was loving and nurturing. Penny, like so many other dogs, always knew when I needed her.

Behind our hour in rural Hanover County, was a path that lead to the creek and would wind around to my grandparents’ property. Penny would accompany me on my treks though the woods. Penny would walk next me, but most of the time she would run ahead of me. Once a few times ahead of me, she would turn around to make sure I was still following the path, as if she is saying, “It’s okay. The path is clear.” Penny truly was “man’s best friend,” for me.

God is like that. It may seem like a cliche to say that life is a journey, but it is. And God walks with us on that journey. In fact, God will walk ahead of us at times, turn to make sure that we are still on the path. The journey is getting from where we stand on the path to where God is beckoning us to be. As if God is telling us that, “it’s okay. The path is clear.”

The journey that God is beckoning us on could be various things. It could be starting a new job, or starting a new ministry. It could be seeing your child for who he or she really is. It could be meeting God again for the first time. It could be anything. Whatever the journey is, Psalm 121:8 offers us hope on that journey:

The Lord will protect you on your journeys—
whether going or coming—
from now until forever from now.

The image of God, like a lovable dog, running ahead of us on our path and looking back to make sure we are following, is a beautiful image of sanctification. God does not leave us where we are on the path, instead God calls us – beckons us – to a closer relationship with God.

Sanctification is grace for the journey. Let’s face it, while life is a journey, life is messy. We are going to get dirty, and that’s okay. The point of the journey is to restore the image of God within us. And at the center of that restoration – at the center of this journey – is grace.

And what an amazing gift that is!

I pray during this season of Lent that you stay on the path you are walking and know that God is with you.

Because of Lady

I’ve been sitting in my office the past few days working on an adult curriculum for our church’s summer Sunday school.  Our Summer Sunday School program is called “One Church, One Book.”  We’re using Kate DiCamillo’s book Because of Winn-Dixie, which captures the adventures of young Opal and her dog Winn-Dixie in a small town.

As I’m rereading portions of the book and writing this curriculum, I’m remembering my own pets.  Especially my last real pet, Lady.

About 11 years ago, I came back to work after a lunch break and noticed that a black lab was wondering around the building.  She was thin, so thin.  She showed evidence of having just had puppies, though the puppies were no where to be found.  She was shy at first, not sure if she could trust me or not.  I went inside, found a bowl and poured water in it.  I took the bowl outside and set it out for her.  A coworker found dog food somewhere in the building and she put that outside too.  After we had gone back in, the lab would finally come get some food and water.  And she stayed.

At the end of the day, someone told me I should take her home.  I wasn’t too sure about that.  While outside, the lab came around, now no longer shy or frightened.  I thought, well, if she doesn’t get in the car, then it’s settled.  I opened the back door of my car and without a word, the lab jumped in and sat down.  So, it was settled.  She was going home with me.

This was about the time that Dad was staying home from work because of the prostate cancer he was fighting.  I took the dog home, much to the surprise of my parents, and quickly said, “We’re not keeping her.  Just for a few days, until I can find a home for her.”  And, I was just as quick to add, “Don’t name her.  Because once we name  her, she’s ours.”

I came home from work a few days later, still unable to find a home for the lab, and she is outside on the deck with Dad.  A relationship was forming between this dog and my Dad in those few days.  Dad had named her “Lady”.  The name stayed, and so did Lady.

Lady became a companion for Dad during those long days of staying home when he really wanted to be at work.  In the book Because of Winn-Dixie, young Opal reflects on how she just talked and talked to Winn-Dixie and he listened.  Dogs are good listeners.  I imagine Dad sitting on the back deck petting Lady and talking things out with her.  And Lady resting her black head on Dad’s knee giving him advice in the way only a dog can.

Lady was also my listener during that stormy times of my life.  We would go on walks through the woods or play fetch in the yard.  After Dad died, Lady still hung around.  She would sleep by my bed at night.  After one stormy night where she got frightened, she slept on the foot of my bed for awhile.  She seemed to fill a gap for me.  A gap I didn’t realize I had at the time.

Lady died about a year ago.  She was a dog with 9 lives, having survived being hit by a car, a really bad cold one summer, and going blind in one eye.  But she lived a good life and was a blessing to me . . .and my Dad.

© 2019 Jason C. Stanley

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑