Monday night, or more accurately, Tuesday morning, 1:00 am. Freya paced the floor in our bedroom. Panting. She needed to go out. Again.

Before going to bed, we’d let the dogs out one at a time to do their usual quick “hurry up,” and she’d wandered off into the woods.

“She probably got into something again,” I grumbled, “and I’m going to lose sleep.”

“Why don’t you think about her needs?” Keith said.

Yeah, yeah. Easy for him to say. He’s the daytime crisis manager. Since I can’t sleep until everyone’s home and tucked in safe, I’m the night watch.

I ‘d kept an ear out for Freya’s footsteps on the deck. It was below freezing outside. Bark at 11:00. “Good girl, Freya,” I said, “good girl.”

Now, two hours later, she was desperate again and had messed on the tile floor in the basement, her usual place when she can’t get our attention soon enough.

Easy clean up. Bark at 1:30.

Then Heathcliff wanted to go out. Was he sick, too? An hour later, he wandered up the driveway. Not sick, thank goodness, just didn’t want to miss the fun.

Some fun.

Freya out at 3:00, bark at 3:30. Out at 4:20, bark a few minutes later.

5:00. Coffee maker beeped. Rise and shine.


Last week, the leader of our local Bible study spoke about Ash Wednesday and Lent. “Some give up sweets, chocolate, alcohol, or meat,” she said. “Rather than giving up, we might take on a new spiritual discipline. We might encourage someone every day, give away something every day, say I love you to someone every day. Read the Gospels; pray for someone you don’t like; spend time outside every day regardless of the weather.”

Lent: Prayer, Fasting, and Repentance.

Prayer: I’ve added Pastor Timothy Keller’s The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotionals in the Psalms to my morning devotional. Giving time to God.

Fasting: Back in January, I wrote about our group fasting for one of our members. During Lent, I am avoiding “greedy” food and drink, not as a sacrifice but to attend to others’ needs. Giving more to others.

Repentance: For the next eight weeks, our Women’s group at church is studying Donna Pyle’s Forgiveness: Received from God, Extended to Others. “Forgiveness is always personal,” the book summary states. “It’s incredibly difficult to do. But it’s never optional.” Giving obedience to God.


There was good news about my up-and-down, in-and-out night with Freya. Keith snored through it all – no sense both of us losing sleep; Freya finally learned to bark like Heathcliff does to alert us to let her in; and by focusing on others’ needs, I managed not to grumble as much. Good news for all of us.

Freya_Feb2018Freya’s GI problems let up on Tuesday but returned on Wednesday night. I located her diarrhea pills from two years ago, and we all slept happily ever after – until the next time. Getting into things is Freya’s dog-breed nature and the result of her feral past, so this is likely to happen again.

We’re all broken. That’s why we need to pray and repent. And fast for others.


What is your spiritual growth plan?


  1. Alexander Kenny

    One sympathizes with Freya’s incontinence. Gratitude despite adversity strengthens me for every combat, yet it’s still a habit I’m learning.

  2. Carole Duff

    Adversity tests. Both gratitude and ingratitude in response. The both/and of our humanity. In truth, we wrestle every day.

    Thank you for your comment, Alex, and blessings on you.

  3. Phil kuehnert

    Your writing is like a lazy river. Love it!

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you so much, and for sharing your story with me last night. -C.D.



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