Curbs, mirrors, and guides help us stay calm

by | Mar 9, 2020 | Dogs & Other Creatures, Faith, Family, Local or Human Interest | 13 comments |

CatoMarch2020Keith and I adopted another shelter dog last week, a puppy we named Cato. When we first brought Cato home, he pulled on his leash and jumped on us despite our “off” commands. He chewed on Heathcliff and Freya’s ears, legs and tails despite their warning growls. He lunged for food, tried to climb onto furniture and into our laps, and piddled inside the house. Most of his behaviors were due to a puppy’s lack of curbs, mirrors, and guides.

And fear.

Pastor Tim Bohlmann at Bethany Lutheran Church often reminds us that Old Testament Law is a “I have to” versus the New Testament’s “I get to.” Thou shalt love God and your neighbors—I have to, and I get to.

The Law is a curb, a mirror, and a guide. The curb tells us what to do and what not to do; the mirror allows us see our transgressions and repent; the guide helps us to walk in the light.


Late last week, I came down with a cold. I’m nursing it in the usual way: feeding the cold good food and fluids, doing what I have to or feel up to doing, and resting.

On Sunday morning, I looked forward to rehearsing with the Men’s Choir and singing with the Mixed Choir for second service at church. But Keith reminded me of the curb: love others by setting a good example and not exposing them to illness. When I protested a bit, I saw my “but they need me” self-importance in the mirror and repented.

As my mother used to say, graveyards are filled with indispensable people.

I texted the music director: “I’m sorry I won’t be at church today. Came down with a cold, which I don’t want to share. Hope to be back for choir practice on Wednesday.”

A curb for the sake of community health.


CatoCrateMarch2020Cato’s crate curbs his fear so he can rest instead of piddling inside. Keith and I have established other curbs, mirrors, and guides: routine walks for outside peeing and pooping, daily on-leash play time, feeding etiquette, and lots of mirrored affection, which he desperately needs, poor lonely fella. Heathcliff and Freya also mirror correct behavior, and we’re giving them more attention, too, especially Heathcliff since he’s a bit jealous of this young male. At dinner, Keith and I pray for guidance to help us all make this adjustment.

We are a pack. Curbs, mirrors, and guides help us stay calm.

And build healthy relationships.


This post on YouTube:


  1. ekurie

    What a lucky little (?) puppy! Hope you are over your cold. Soon, if not yet.

  2. Ms D.

    What an excellent reminder as we face the coronavirus! And good luck with Cato, he looks adorable.

    • Carole Duff

      Thanks. Cato is a handful—and very sweet.

  3. bigskybuckeye

    Carole, kudos to you and Keith for adopting Cato. I know you will have your hands full in the short-term, but your curbs, mirrors, and guides will sow the seeds of calmness. My youngest daughter and her husband in Montana adopted three different kittens from two different shelters a few months ago.

    I found strength from your discussion related to our own lives needing those curbs, mirrors, and guides.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for your comment, Richard. Cato is indeed a handful—also very sweet, very lonely, and very grateful. Good for your youngest daughter and her husband. It is an honor and blessing to be able to give shelter animals a home. Now, back to the curbs…

  4. Nancy Ruegg

    Love what your pastor said about the change of perspective between Old and New Testaments: from “have to,” to “get to.” Brilliant! It is the wise person who sees the Light as a delightful guide. Thank you, Carole!

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you, Nancy. Good to keep “have to” and “get to” in our back pockets so we’re reminded of the Light.

  5. Sarah Myers

    Healthy words from you and you pastor for a time when we try to reinforce goodness. Take care, S

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you, my friend—goodness indeed. Take care, too. -C.D.

  6. ckennedyhola

    Lots of great things to keep in mind and think about here. Stay safe and healthy!

  7. Ann H Aschauer

    “I saw my “but they need me” self-importance in the mirror and repented.” Good for you. It takes wisdom (and humility) to discern that. Speaking of which, I love your mom’s quote. Wise lady.

    • Carole Duff

      My mother was wise, and I miss her every day. Thank you for your comment, Ann.



  1. There is no fear in love | Notes from Vanaprastha - […] morning, Keith and I watched the church service online again—we’d stayed home last week, too, since I had a…

Leave a Reply

Meet Carole


Let's Connect

Favorite Subjects