CHAPTER 7: Appreciating
Mister Dickens is the best of givers.
The most meaningful gift is the one that leaves us bankrupt but exceedingly rich at the same time.
Because he abides in true faith, Mister Dickens can give all that he has each and every day. It is an observation, nay, more than that: it is a lesson for life that the old man truly appreciates.
And sometimes, Mister Dickens seems to be sad, or bored, and appears to be depleted. But this is caused by the lack of interaction with others, often hours and sometimes days of waiting for his beloved companions to return.
Thusly, the old man apologizes when leaving the house for a day trip or work that will keep him away for more than eight hours. Mister Dickens spends this time precariously perched on the arm of the loveseat, like one left behind or lost in life’s journey, watching out the window for the return of his family members. Dickens is truly devoted to them. No others can take their place.
The old man sees the dog’s earnest in his waiting, yet untarnished by disappointment, the ultimate example of commitment.
This too is a life lesson he takes to heart, with wonder and appreciation. He is determined to open windows, barriers of regret or loss, to allow fresh air into the room of his life that has become stale with remorse.
The hard, cold surface of the glass is confinement for the lonely dog abandoned there. Beyond it, and through it, he can see opportunity for romping in the sunshine, yet he remains idle, waiting patiently still. Isn't it true, that dwelling in our past is much like that? Yet we have the ability to move beyond the glass. It can only restrain us when we allow it to do so.
In recognition of the times the dog is overly restricted, the old man is urged by his feelings to provide activities that replenish the joy in which Mister Dickens abides. It is restored with a walk around the neighborhood, a bath, or ball chasing in the rear yard.
Mister Dickens also loves Christmas. In their household, as the boy grew and matured, Mister Dickens became the one most excited for Christmas morning. Although he could not offer presents to others in his family, his gift became one of the greatest shared. His enthusiasm preserved the experience of the observance otherwise diminished by a child’s age as the magic wanes.
As they open their gifts, Mister Dickens watches intently, waiting for his turn. The anticipation of the gift… the excitement of opening the package… and the bounty of joy in its beholding is written on the dog’s face and demonstrated by his actions. After tearing off the wrapping paper, he will often claim the prize by darting through the house with it in his mouth. Others are tempted to follow in pursuit, and often do, resulting in a parade of happiness, an expression of holiday joy otherwise unattainable.
Mister Dickens is the dog who saved Christmas.
For adding joy to their holidays, family outings, and really everything he joins, the old man, the boy, and mother truly appreciate the significant contribution Mister Dickens makes. They feel the need to express their thanks. And so they do…
The old man’s eyes well with tears as emotion overwhelms him. Although his canine friend is a young adult, he remembers his last beloved of four legs and his heart warns that their time together is short.
Some days have dragged on for way too long, filled with concern. Night time brings welcome relief, a respite of the day’s enduring struggle. Still, there may be little hope that the new day will be much better.
But the old man is never alone. The boy is at school, Mother is working or traveling, but Mister Dickens is always with him, a true and faithful companion.
“You have filled a void in my life in a unique and meaningful way that no other has,” he expresses in gratitude. “Mister Dickens, you are a gift from God, and more than that, I see that you are His provision for me. You have intrigued, inspired, and comforted me. I can only hope that you truly understand my great appreciation and feel my love for you.”
The boy and mother do not feel rejection; in fact, each thinks Mister Dickens prefers him or her. The dog is skilled in acknowledging each and has mastered the challenge of relationship with each one, individually.
Loneliness comes in different forms. But Mister Dickens is discerning and wise, able to provide companionship in each unique and differing situation.
The boy is an only child and sometimes remorseful of his plight in lacking siblings. He has matured and interacts with adults better than most children his age, as others like him often do. Sadly, when among strangers, he will often choose the company of adults rather than other children. His home life is exposed by his pleasant conversations with them, often lacking an expression of mischief, the elemental desire of adventure.
But now his eyes grow wide and brighten as he perceives the challenge, a double dare unspoken by words, an invitation to childish play offered by Mister Dickens. And he jumps off of his stool and pursues the dog with a holler, a vocal acceptance of the provocation. Mister Dickens has pranced teasingly in front of him to entice. And so, the chase begins, often a chair overturned in its wake. It ends with the dog’s capture, a duo dive onto the sofa, the dog wriggling to regain control, and loud, compelling laughter that is truly contagious.
The boy smiles broadly as he begins his expression of thanks.
“He’s like a brother to me, the playmate I never had. You’re fast, but I will always get you,” he pauses. “Thanks buddy! Great times together. I love you soooo… much! Can I have a hug?”
Mother’s schedule is unrelenting, but in reality, she likes it that way, accepting almost every invitation to later consider its demand, usually a trip to the local market to acquire missing ingredients for cooking a favorite dessert. Mister Dickens watches with interest as she sorts through her many bins that are filled with scraps of paper, each containing the secret recipe of delight. He already knows what is going to happen next.
She still asks the boy to accompany her on the shopping chore. But nowadays, he is most likely to refuse, noting that he will stay at home with Dad as he looks at the screen of his electronic tablet. She doesn’t bother to ask the old man, already confident of his decline to her request. Henceforth, she grabs Mister Dickens, tucks him under her arm, and marches out the front door. Time is wasting, and she has none to spare.
But the dog is happy to accompany her. He is her one and only.
She blinks in contemplation. This expression will take a moment to consider. Then as she nods and with a look of determination, she pens the following words:
“You never say no to me. You’re always willing to help me, in your own way and the best you can, with my goals. I feel your support and I am strengthened in my resolve by your interest and concern.”
“You quickly clean up my spills in the kitchen, even before my husband will complain about them. You patiently wait for a treat and never hold a grudge if I cannot share my creation with you.”
“Mister Dickens: you hold a special place in my heart, and always will. How do you make me smile when I can’t – I still don’t know – but you do! Thanks, so much for helping me and supporting me when others don’t! I know that I can always count on you!”
You see, Mister Dickens has become an integral part of the family, essential to each member.
The old man recalls dogs of his youth and marvels at the unique relationship he now enjoys with Mister Dickens.
Back then the dog was always kept outside. It didn’t have the run of the master’s home and an intrusion of the bedroom, or any of the upstairs of the house for that matter, was unthinkable. The dog was on detail for security, 24 / 7 and other than the rare occurrence of a walk in a remote area, still leashed, the animal remained attached to the chain anchored at his doghouse.
Like a prisoner left alone near an unlocked door, it is no wonder that the dog often darted for freedom. In his defense, however, the dog called “Ben” did not desire escape, but a vigorous run, the thrill of air blowing on his face, and often galloped without discernment of his surroundings. Once he finally stopped, he found himself in a strange place, and usually in trouble.
Somewhere in the distance someone was frantically calling his name and whistling, but Ben could not always hear it with understanding.
Today there is more daily conversation about Mister Dickens than any other family member. Although, when he awakens the old man at 2:30 AM to request a drink of water – that is going a little bit too far!
Through many years of close observation and shared experience, the old man formed an insightful opinion about Mister Dickens.
He has a distinctive personality. He is very emotional and has a huge capacity for companionship. The old man came to realize that when he looks at Mister Dickens he perceives personhood, more than simply seeing an animal.
Mister Dickens considers himself as a qualified member of the family. He expects to share in their events and wants a taste of their meals.
He appreciates encouraging talk. The old man will gently hold the dog’s face so that he can maintain eye contact. Dickens’ spirit is evident there.
Perhaps the boy summarized it best when he said, “As a family we are 100 percent complete.” Looking at Mister Dickens, he explained. “Without Dickens we are only 50 percent, but with him we are complete.”
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Getting to know our dogs… it’s a relational experience that is completely unique, totally endearing, and one that will always endure. We will never forget our pooch friends.
This is the true story of a family that reluctantly decides to take the plunge, to commit to a new puppy. Through laughter and tears you will share their happy and often troubling times, precipitated by the baby dog they appropriately name “Mister Dickens.” Other key players in the script are the Old Man, Mother, and the Boy.
Through their ups and downs, tests and trials, unique relationships form that are precious to each and revealing to the Old Man of lessons needed, perhaps intended for all of humanity.
A selfless love, so endearing that it cannot be squelched by disappointment, becomes the foundation of the friendship Mister Dickens forms with the individuals of his new family, uniquely applied to each. It’s done in a way that only a dog can.
“Mister Dickens” offers insight for: what a puppy is thinking and feeling; timely advice and tips for training and providing for your new dog; and understanding of their caring hearts, and… healing for ours after they’re gone, as we remember them once again with tears of joy in new hope.
“You must consider the wisdom of this little book because… your dog is more special than you may know!”
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"The Contemporary Christian Series" - Four Steps To Knowing God
...relinquish your control.
When life wasn’t fair, God was calling his name.
Robert Love experienced great loss. His grandmother died under a cloud of suspicion. Memories of better times became miserable haunts as the skeletons of his past continued to rattle in the closet of deceit.
On the ropes emotionally, fate (or was it God?) intervened to bring Love a new friend, a mentor and wise sage of sorts, with provocative insights. His name is John Wright.
They were perfect strangers when they met but allowed their lives to intersect and in the end each was instrumental in saving the other. But for Love, it was complicated, much like his life.
Upon becoming better acquainted, it seemed that Wright’s credibility was sketchy at best. Once exposed, Love learned that his new friend was terminally ill. So why had he stopped fighting for his life? Wright has a mysterious past.
A spiritual battle ensues. Love is nearly killed in a grinding head-on collision and suffers debilitating injuries. And then, unbelievably, Love’s home is torched and all his possessions are turned into ashes among the smoking ruins. It is more than a soul can bear; surely he must be cursed!
But it was a greater love that truly saved him once emptied of himself. Everything changed and ultimately Love endured to discover new hope and a new life.
Is God calling you? This contemporary parable is a guide for the journey of faith that leads to true salvation.
...discover your calling.
Truly alone, his head hanging low, tears are dropping onto his lap. Already disgraced, this pastor feels no need to defend himself.
There have been many arrests of the clergy in recent times, the institutional church is weak, and the public is hungry for revenge. The police are ordered by the District Attorney to bring him in, to answer his accuser for the crime she alleges.
Robert Love, the clergyman accused of sexually assaulting a minor female, searches his memory for a clue. Had he mistaken the events of his life, the way he saw God working and leading him into the ministry?
His divorce and aggressive response to the false allegation of infidelity brought by legalistic Christians is in his past. More recently there was the baby’s funeral and the unexplained reason for its death, as well as the demise of the mother, to cancer. She had refused radiation treatments, sacrificing her life for another, the unborn child that didn’t survive.
Thrisa is the only bright spot in this pastor’s otherwise dreary work at the parish and she is found in a dumpster, left for dead. Then, answers to the mystery are suddenly revealed at the bedside of a man even as he exhales his last breath. The final verdict: “not guilty!”
Doubt plagued Robert Love with the simple, haunting question: “why?” But in the midst of all his trouble, wisdom rescues with everlasting peace.
...yield to power consuming.
Young adults and siblings, James and Steffanie Wallas, who tragically lost their parents in a train wreck, are struggling to continue with their lives.
They are grieving together until something very strange happens in the cemetery where their parents are buried. Steffanie is confronted by a strange being which resembles her deceased mother.
James needs absolute proof that their mother has not returned from the dead. The weight of the evidence needed rests upon a cross necklace, the one their mom gave to Steffanie at her baptism. Rejecting faith, she returned it at the funeral to be buried with all of her hopes and dreams. It was this necklace that she saw the being wearing. Now, James must find the explanation that will bring his sister back from the brink of insanity.
Rumors leak and their town goes crazy! A police report documents the sighting and the news goes viral.
A cross necklace, the mystery of resurrection, and one young man's need for answers spin into a whirlwind of controversy that has everyone waiting for the truth to be revealed.
Not science fiction or fantasy, it’s an emotional story that demonstrates the bravery of true love in the aftermath of tragedy.
...realize the life chosen.
The Daniels men held their legacy in secret, preserved for future generations.
Levi Daniels was shot while Confederate soldiers invaded his southern Pennsylvania farm. In a small wooden box, he took his prized possession to California, seeking better fortune. But as history has it, trouble followed.
As a young boy, Darren is expected to carry the torch. From his hospital bed, Darren’s grandfather spoke reverently of the responsibility as he bypassed the birthright of the next person in line. It should have been given to Darren’s father, Joseph, but he is still missing.
Darren and his fraternal twin sister, Deidra, are able to avoid their ancestors’ haunts until engaged in the disaster. An earthquake strikes the U.S. and it falls into anarchy. Joseph returns, searching for the remnant of his family.
It is then that the secret of their past is revealed with a compelling message. America’s heritage, one of faith and unity, speaks to challenge the hearts of the faithful and the patriotic, stirring them to resist the enemy, natural and spiritual.
The future is predicted as the fictional account moves forward in time. This story challenges you to ponder the evidence of our fate. And here is realized a profound and compelling revelation - the greater purpose in it all.
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Blessings! Alan Updyke, UpdykeBooks@gmail.com