Jasmine’s Independence Day

I had posted this on my Facebook page after we said goodbye to our beloved black Labrador retriever, Jasmine.  My husband, adult son Alex, and I spent most of our July 4th at the emergency veterinary hospital.   It was a really difficult day. We have a hole in our hearts, especially Mitch, as he and Jasmine were inseparable. She was such a Daddy’s Girl.

She would’ve been 14 years old in September. With her back pain, an inner ear issue, and age-related cognitive challenges, she had her good days and her bad days. From yesterday evening to that morning, she was increasingly lethargic, was panting hard and began to have an occasional cough. She was able to walk the previous night, but July 4th morning she could not walk as her right rear leg was dragging behind, and Mitch had to carry her. Her gums were a pale pink. We took her to the emergency clinic, where we learned she had a high fever. We left her, initially planning overnight, to have x-rays and testing, to pinpoint the cause of the fever, and to get that fever down. We went home and later got the call that she had pneumonia. That was the least of the worries, though, as she had a very low platelet count, enlarged liver and spleen. It was a very high chance of lymphoma. We made the heart-wrenching decision to go back to the clinic, love on her a little while, and say goodbye.   Mitch, Alex, and I sat with her while the vet made it happen. In just a moment, she peacefully slipped away. I thought about freedom on that day,  that she has freedom from pain and illness.  I am confident that our pets go to heaven. We lost her sister, Kiera, to lung cancer on October 30th. I am comforted with a vision of Jasmine crossing the Rainbow Bridge as Kiera excitedly greets her from the other side. They are both wagging their tails and wiggling their butts with excitement.

Five days later,  I was thinking about the week before when Jasmine brought her ball to Mitch to request a play time.  She hadn’t been able to chase it down the hall like she used to.  She would get up on the couch using the folded gym mat as a step, then sit on the end and volley or catch the tennis ball as Mitch tossed it.  Volleying involved closing her mouth just enough to bounce it back.

We are missing her terribly, and our holiday was awful, but as was the case with Kiera, I reflect on God’s blessings that helped make it easier than it could have been.

1)  Mitch has been retired for three months.  Jasmine did not have to spend much time alone, particularly after losing her sister, and Mitch did not have to regret spending time apart from her at work.

2)  When Mitch picked her up, took her outside, and we saw her leg was useless, we thought she had had a stroke and wasted no time calling the vet.  She recommended the emergency center as it sounded neurological. **No cause was found for the leg problem.  But it got us there without hesitation.*

You see, before that, we weren’t sure whether to take her to the emergency center that day, though we were seriously talking about it. Panting was normal for her.  Was she just having a bad day with her back or her arrythmia?   Her heart rate was in a normal range, her gums were pink but pale, and we had not yet taken her temperature.

3)  Although Independence Day will be a painful day in our memory, and not being able to say goodbye at our regular veterinarian’s office was difficult for us, I can find the good in it.    Alex was off work with no plans until evening.  He would have had a hard time getting off work if we had to call him suddenly on a weekday or a working Saturday.  Sundays he normally airsofts early in the day, and he would not have heard his phone.   The holiday made it work out that he was there.  He would’ve been even more heartbroken to not have seen her one more time.  And it made all the difference, especially when it came to the decision to stay with Jasmine while she passed, he was the strongest one of us.

The Fourth of July has always been an unfavorite holiday anyway from all the noise and the way it affected our dogs.  At least she avoided the stress of the fireworks.

4)  The one thing that really is unfortunate is that Ross (our older son) was coming home  Thursday 7/13, missing that “one last time” by little more than a week.  A very recently planned visit.  He was able to see her in April, though, and at that time knew it could be his last time with her.

Mitch was having an extra difficult time being home completely alone without his Jasmine while I am working.  That first Thursday and Friday were terrible for him.  (I stayed home on Wednesday the 5th) . Since I’ve been home he breaks down less.  The second Friday after our loss he was able to wake up with Ross in the house and for the week after.

He was able to have more days not being alone over the first two weeks than if Ross and I were both around on some of these days.  It would have been more difficult to have Jasmine gone, then Ross gone back home days later, than it would have been with Ross’s visit to look forward to while trying to get through the first terrible days.  It’s challenging to find any good in this timing as I know this is tough for Ross, but it doesn’t help me or anyone to focus on the negative.

5)   Jasmine enriched our lives and made us laugh.   Here are some of the things that made her our special girl:

– Being a Daddy’s Girl.  While someone else was home, when Mitch left the house to mow the lawn or run to the store, she would lie down at the front door and wait for his return.  He was the only family member for whom she waited like this, even though she loved us all.

– Retriever mode.  She rarely greeted us – or anyone that came in the house – without a tennis ball or a plush toy in her mouth.  She often lagged behind Kiera at the door while she searched for something to bring.  At the same time, she would whine excitedly with a strange sound I have never heard from other dogs.

She loved to play ball (while sister Kiera could care less).  She didn’t let her old age pains stop her from enjoying a short toss or a volley session.            

–  Being a growly bear. We sometimes had to scold her for growling at her sister.  If Kiera was near to her favorite toy or challenged her to play when she didn’t feel like it, we would hear that low grumble.  We hadn’t heard her growl since Kiera passed in October.

– Alpha Dog.  Jasmine dominated Kiera.  It was rare for Kiera to pee and not have Jasmine mark on top of it.  On walks, if we passed another person walking their dog, she would lunge and bump Kiera and snarl at her, just to show that other dog she was the boss.

– Manipulator and Walker.  For incentives for walks, she got a MilkBone walking out, then halves of baby carrots to encourage her while we walked down the street.   Often she would ask to go out, then we went out, she would sit (always was great about sitting first)  with an expectant look for a treat.  When she got it, she was like “okay, let’s go back in”.

She seldom went beyond the corner, but she did go around the block two weeks ago.  She usually made it around the pond at the Watershed Nature Center.  She also liked a stretch of the paved trail toward SIU-E across from their baseball field.

– TV Watcher.  She would watch TV for short times when animals were involved.

“Eight Below” was a favorite movie.  She loved all the huskies.  And she knew when the leopard seal comes out; she would start barking.

**We miss our sweet Jasmine.  Finding the good within this hard time has been helpful and got me through it.   I thank God that we can know Him enough to understand He is such a loving God that our pets go to heaven where, like people who chose God in their lives, they are free of pain, suffering, and sorrow.   I stop and envision her playing with Kiera like they are puppies.  When I get sad about Jasmine (and Kiera), I remember that I will see them again someday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we had to say goodbye to our beloved Jasmine – our Jazzy Girl, Bear, Angel.   It has been a really difficult day.  We have a hole in our hearts, especially Mitch, as she and Jasmine were inseparable.  She was such a Daddy’s Girl.

 

She would’ve been 14 years old in September.  With her back pain, an inner ear issue, and age-related cognitive challenges, she had her good days and her bad days.  From yesterday evening to this morning, she was increasingly lethargic, was panting hard and began to have an occasional cough.  She was able to walk last night, but this morning she could not walk as her right rear leg was dragging behind, and Mitch had to carry her.  Her gums were a pale pink.  We took her to the emergency clinic, where we learned she had a high fever.  We left her, initially planning overnight, to have x-rays and testing, to pinpoint the cause of the fever, and to get that fever down.  We went home and later got the call that she had pneumonia. That was the least of the worries, though, as she had a very low platelet count, enlarged liver and spleen.  It was a very high chance of lymphoma.   We made the heart-wrenching decision to go back to the clinic, love on her a little while, and say goodbye.  Mitch, Alex, and I sat with her while the vet made it happen.  In just a moment, she peacefully slipped away.   I am thinking about freedom on this day, and that she has freedom from pain and illness.  I am confident that our pets go to heaven.  We lost her sister, Kiera, to lung cancer on October 30th.  I am comforted with a vision of Jasmine crossing the Rainbow Bridge as Kiera excitedly greets her from the other side.  They are both wagging their tails and wiggling their butts with excitement.

 

 

To: those who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, or helping others. Those who have had extramarital, premarital, homosexual, or marital sex. Those who have stolen, lied, cheated, killed, or never committed a regrettable act or a moral sin in your life.

Those who are poor, rich, educated, uneducated, lazy, or productive.  Those who worship their job, their money, their TV, perfection, achievement, or any other idols.  Those who don’t go to church, or who go to church but are only going through the motions.  Those who think they are undeserving of God’s forgiveness or who consider themselves too “good” to need it. 

                                                                                           

 FOR YOU AND EVERY PERSON ON THIS EARTH, I SUFFERED AND DIED TO MAKE A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD POSSIBLE THROUGH FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SIN.  TO OFFER YOU ETERNAL LIFE.  To offer you freedom from the trappings of the world.  GOD LOVES YOU THAT MUCH.

What follows are the words of my disciple, John, who along with hundreds of other people, were witnesses to My suffering and death as the Son of God and the Son of Man.  May John’s words in the nineteenth chapter of his gospel touch your heart and make you realize there is a hole in your heart and your life that only I can fill.

LOVE, JESUS 

Preface to John 19

It is important to have read previous chapters.   Bolded type in the copy of this chapter draws your attention to fulfillment of prophecies.

Consider this:

The whip used to flog Jesus had a lead tip.  Can you imagine how painful this would be?   Usually the upper body was bared by the whip while the person was tied to a pillar.  The flogging alone could have killed him. 

Jesus suffered and died to offer every one of us forgiveness of our sins and eternal life in heaven.  No matter how “good” we are, we are still not perfect enough to be in the presence of God.  Jesus paid the debt for our sin.

In order to be forgiven, we must first acknowledge that we need to be forgiven.  We must admit to God that we are sinners. 

Before Christ died for us, the blood of an animal would be the sacrifice for sin.  Christ is the perfect lamb.  Sinless.  Without blemish.  The perfect sacrifice.

John 19

 1 Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. 2 The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. 3 “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.

 4 Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.” 5 Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”

 6 When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

   “Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”

 7 The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”

 8 When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. 9 He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. 10 “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”   (Note that Jesus was in control throughout the trial.  His prosecutors and Pilate were those really on trial.)

 11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”

  12 Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no ‘friend of Caesar.’ Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.”

(Note:  Pilate tried to release Jesus but the leaders accused him of being “no friend of Caesar” (a rebel).  Pilate could have lost his job or his life.    Let it be a lesson to stand up for what is right even if it’s tough!)

 13 When they said this, Pilate brought Jesus out to them again. Then Pilate sat down on the judgment seat on the platform that is called the Stone Pavement (in Hebrew, Gabbatha). 14 It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people, “Look, here is your king!”

 15 “Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him! Crucify him!”

   “What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

   “We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back.

 16 Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion

   So they took Jesus away. 17 Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). 18 There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 And Pilate posted a sign over him that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.

 21 Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’”

 22 Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.”

 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing.”] So that is what they did.

 25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.

 28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.”   29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.

 31 It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. 34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35 (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also can believe.)   36 These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,”   37 and “They will look on the one they pierced.”

The Burial of Jesus

 38 Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. 39 With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. 40 Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. 41 The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. 42 And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

 

NOTES (from the Life Application Study Bible)

30 – It is finished = paid in full! 

31 – It was against God’s rules to leave a dead body overnight and to work after sundown on Friday when the Sabbath began, so the leaders were in a rush for the death and burial.

31-35 – Blood and water indicate the sac around the heart and the heart itself were both pierced.

36-37 –Jesus was like the lambs slain for Passover – their bones could not be broken.

John 14 (part 2):15-31 -How to Love Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Peace

Do you love Jesus?  How do you express it?   Do you have the Holy Spirit, or need clarification of who the Spirit really is?  Do you want to understand the kind of peace that God enables us to have?  These verses offer us insight. 
Jesus continues to speak with the disciples and prepare them for his absence.  All of John 14 is difficult to summarize, so I gave up trying to doing so.  I removed a couple of verses that I found repetitive or insignificant in the setting of a core study.  I’ve added helpful notes after the remaining verses in the chapter.  Most are taken from the Life Application Study Bible.  If you are trying to learn the Bible, know God, and do what it says, it makes a huge difference to have a study Bible, especially if it is a version for life application.  It can be rather confusing if you have never read it.  Of course, there are always Bible commentaries available, but having one in your hands, in your home, for clarification and background information, increases your understanding of who Jesus really is and what God wants you to do.  Well, here’s the “Bible Express Study” for John 14:15-31.
15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.

 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

 23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

 27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. 29 I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.

 30 “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, 31 but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.

NOTES AND APPLICATIONS:

v.  15  #This statement is not so much a promise that the one who loves him will keep his commands as it is a definition of love itself.  John will instruct his disciples later, saying, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 Jn 2:6; cf. 1 Cor 4:17), which means complete dependence on and obedience to the Father, only doing and speaking what he received from the Father. Jesus himself has modeled the life of love he describes here in terms of obedience.

v. 16  *Jesus was soon going to leave the disciples, but he would remain in them.  How is that possible?  The Advocate – the Spirit of God himself-would come after Jesus was gone to care for and guide the disciples.  The Holy Spirit is the very presence of God within us and all believers, helping us live as God wants and building Christ’s church on earth.  By faith we can appropriate the Spirit’s power each day.

*The word “Advocate” combines the ideas of comfort and counsel.

v. 17 – *The Holy Spirit has been active among people from the beginning of time, but after Pentecost (Acts 2) he came to live in all believers.  To those who hear Christ’s words and understand the Spirit’s power, the Spirit gives a whole new way to look at life.

Pentecost was also called the Festival of First Harvest.  On the day of this festival, 50 days after the Resurrection and 10 days after the Ascension, the believers present at the Pentecost were filled with the Holy Spirit.

v. 18 – To have the Holy Spirit is to have Jesus himself.

v. 21 – Another reminder that love is expressed by obedience.  Prove it by obeying what Christ says in his Word.  And don’t pick and choose.  For some, being a loving, forgiving, unjudgmental person makes sense to them, and it’s easy.   Making a commitment to premarital abstinence is different.  Fulfilling the role Christ intends for those who are married, as described in Ephesians 5:22-28, isn’t easy or desirable, perhaps.  Limitations on obedience imply limitations on our love for Jesus.

 The obedience doesn’t happen overnight.  After more than nine years as a Christian, I recently understand and trust God in what He is telling us in Ephesians 5:22-28 about the roles of the wife and the husband.  I’m planning to write about this in a forthcoming post.

v. 22-23 – *The disciples were still expecting Jesus to establish an earthly kingdom and overthrow Rome, so they had difficulty understanding why he did not tell the world at large that he was the Messiah.  Not everyone could have understood Jesus’ message.  Ever since Pentecost, the Gospel has been proclaimed to the whole world, but not everyone is receptive to it.

v. 26 – As we study the Bible, we can trust the Spirit to plant truth in our mind, convince us of God’s will, and remind us when we stray from it.

V. 27 – *Unlike worldly peace, which is usually defined as the absence of conflict, this peace is confident assurance in any circumstance; with Christ’s peace, we have no need to fear the present or the future.  The peace of God moves into our hearts and lives to restrain hostile forces and offer comfort in place of conflict.

v. 30-31 – *Although Satan, the ruler of this “world” (our earthly society), was unable to overpower Jesus , he still had the arrogance to try.  Satan’s power exists only because God allows him to act.  Because Jesus is sinless, Satan has no power over him.  If we obey Jesus and align ourselves closely with God’s purposes, Satan can have no power over us.

v. 31 – *“Come, let’s be going” suggests that chapters 15-17 may have been spoken en route to the Garden of Gethsemane (where Jesus is taken by Roman soldiers).

*From the Life Application Study Bible.

# Bible Gateway.com – Commentary from Christopher Coffman.