Pets: Our Privilege

This is our new puppy, Oso (Spanish for “bear” – a tribute to his Cuban heritage):


We got a steal of a deal on him because he was an older puppy and not AKC registered. Normally a puppy of this breed, the Havanese, can run between $600 and $2,000. We paid $150. And, no, I didn’t do all the things you are supposed to do when you buy a puppy. I didn’t check out his parents or his home or his papers. I actually picked him up in a Kum N Go parking lot -  much like a drug deal, really. But he’s a wonderful little guy. We needed him. And this week our vet checked him out thoroughly and declared him a “perfect dog.”


Funny thing is, when I mentioned we were getting a new puppy, my Egyptian colleague asked about our other dog, not knowing he had died shortly after a car hit him in front of our house. He went on to explain his interest in the Western attitude toward pets compared to the Eastern attitude to which he is more accustomed. I could only assume he meant our sometimes over-the-top affection for pets that makes us dress them in little clothes and buy memorial stones when they pass.

Yes, that is what he meant. Growing up, he had both a dog and a cat, but he only kept them because he shared his own food with them. Buying dog food or cat food is unheard of in Egypt. In his homeland it is also a common occurrence for the police to walk the streets and shoot stray dogs just to be rid of the nuisance. My friend shook his head and smiled, “It’s terrible, really, I don’t know why we are this way.”

Then he told me a story he meant to be funny, but it broke my heart instead. Last year when our pastor visited Egypt with my colleague, they stopped on the street to visit with a cart driver and his horse. This job, much like a rickshaw driver in China or Thailand, is a job for the poorest of the poor. It is no way to make a living. Our pastor took an apple given to him by his Egyptian hosts and began to feed it to the skinny horse. What he didn’t know was that the Egyptians called this apple an “American apple” because it is imported and very expensive. As our pastor let the horse take a bite, the driver anxiously turned to my friend and asked him to ask our pastor if he would please save some of the apple for him instead. No matter that the horse had already bitten into the flesh, the driver longed for a taste of that kind of extravagance.

“So, having a pet is a privilege of the rich, isn’t it?” I asked my friend.

He smiled at me sheepishly, as he does when I try to dissect something he would rather leave as a simple anecdote, “Yes. It is.”

Birthdays, Puppies, and Unplugging

Some updates.

This week is Macy’s second birthday! (On Thursday.) Look at how she’s grown:



She and Dan share a birthday . . . you can imagine this is one my favorite days of the year! To celebrate, Macy gets a weekend with Grandma Kathy, the big kids get a weekend with Grandma Cheri, and Dan gets to play with his band, findingBethel, at the Crossover Festival at Lake of the Ozarks. I’ll be with him. AND, we’re planning to pick up a new puppy. I didn’t think I’d want another dog so soon after losing Chuck, but our house feels a little empty without a furry blur under our feet.

I’m also planning to leave my computer at home over the weekend. My new BFF Anne Jackson talks about this on her blog, the importance of unplugging now and then to give yourself a break from the attitudes and tensions that come with constant connectivity to infinite miles of information. I’ll still have my phone that gets emails, so I won’t be totally disconnected. I’m just hoping to remember what it is like to read a real book and interact with humans (and a puppy) without googling for the answers!

To close, here is a video of Dan and Macy – the birthday duo – at Christmas time. It showcases Dan’s playing a little and it is a perfect picture of Macy’s determined spirit as well. (And, don’t worry, she isn’t going to fall off that piano bench. Relax.) Enjoy! Happy random summer weekend!

Dan and Macy at the Piano from Felicity White on Vimeo.

Things I’m Enjoying: Free Sample Chapters!

Um, guys, Anne Jackson commented on my blog! The subtitle of her own blog ( is “GREEK FOR ‘ANNE JACKSON LIKES YOU'”. That could be the best blog title ever; I smile every time I visit, and I think she really means it! Anne is a funny and insightful writer and her perspective is always interesting to me. She a fun Tweeter, also.

Speaking of Twitter, Donald Miller sent out this link to a free chapter of his upcoming book A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS. It is based on Miller’s story message I’ve been raving about for months. I simply can’t wait to get my hands on the whole book. (Also, Miller has a cool Father’s Day campaign going on for his mentorship program. Check it out here.)

Finally, last week I listened to a sample chapter from Glen Packiam’s new book SECONDHAND JESUS: TRADING RUMORS OF GOD FOR A FIRSTHAND FAITH. I loved it so much. Packiam’s first chapter is a description of how the moral failure of his pastor Ted Haggard (you remember the story, I’m sure) affected Packiam as a staff member at the church and, most of all, as an individual. Packiam’s voice is poetic, wise, and merciful. This is another pre-order at the top of my wish list!

I think you’ll be busy with those links! I told my husband Dan that reading like this is my favorite kind. Intellectual stimulation of the spiritual genre is soul food for me. If you are looking for some, enjoy!

Blogging as Therapy?

I read a quote this week from a young adult trying to overcome self-injury (or, cutting, as it is often termed). The woman claimed that the blog she kept as a record of her attempted recoveries – one that, I should mention, also linked to many other blogs dedicated to overcoming self-harm – was her therapy.

At first I thought, oh, that’s nice. Blogs really are so useful for sorting out thoughts.

And then I thought, wait, will that work?

I’ve never been to therapy, although I’m pretty certain there were times in my life that I would have benefited from such a thing. (Read a sample chapter from Anne Jackson’s book Mad Church Disease here – she is a believer in therapy for Christians for the sake of a more objective outside perspective on certain situations, especially ministry issues.) But I couldn’t help thinking that even though blogging can be helpful for certain things, I’m not sure it should qualify as therapy.

The idea of therapy is that you entrust your problems and concerns to another person hopefully qualified to give you tools for overcoming said problems and concerns. Blogging, to me, is more about expressing your own ideas and opinions. Sure, we can help one another in a blog conversation, but it just isn’t the same. Is it? I mean, I have the power to delete your comments, you know that, right?

Maybe therapy should be your therapy. What do you think?


Dan and I are dreamers. We dream about music projects and writing projects. We dream about what our kids will grow to be and how lovely it will be to grow old together even when they leave us. Sometimes our dreams are original – ideas for songs or  books. Other times we see another person’s project and recognize a dream we didn’t even know existed in our own hearts.

That is what happened when we heard about CompassionArt. Dan has long admired Martin Smith of Delirious? and the CompassionArt project was instigated by Smith as a way of uniting art and social justice. Every writer, some of the biggest names in worship music, gave up all royalty rights to the songs on this recording and turned them over to a number of charitable organizations. This is the kind of thing we would LOVE to do with our lives.

We’ve been listening to the CD for about a week. We’d like to add a couple of the songs into our regular service rotation and the idea that the CCLI royalty money will benefit the poor is inspiring. This is one of the promo videos.

Just thought I’d tell you about another thing I’ve been enjoying lately.

The Reason I’ve Been Quiet

Besides the terror of Finals Week, a humiliating Mathematics placement test, a sick child, etc., the final straw on Thursday evening was when our happy dog, Chuck, was accidentally hit by a car in front of our house. He died later that night.  I would like to consider this post an apology to anyone who has loved and lost a pet because I probably used to make fun of you. Now I’ve joined your ranks. I can’t believe how much I have cried over the last couple of days.


I’m not ready to blog eloquently about him or neatly list all the reasons why I know I’ll be back to myself soon. Instead, I’m going to take a break. Probably just a week or so, but I wanted you all to know. Don’t worry about me, my heart has been broken before, I know it mends well! It just seems like a good time to indulge in a mini-sabatical.

Living Your Story

Did you read all the great Seven Word Wisdom comments for graduates below? Here’s a funny thing, so many of you wrote something about “dreams” or another form of destiny chasing. Do you actually do this or is that just something we say to other people? (This is the question I’m asking myself a lot lately.)

I recently earned a copy of Donald Miller’s short DVD “Let Story Guide You.” I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed this teaching session. First of all, I kind of heart Donald Miller, but, its OK because so does my husband. : ) Secondly, the ideas contained in his message about the power of story are life-changing. You can see a short clip if you click on the link.

I’ve been hearing bits and pieces of this material for awhile. In fact, I’ve kind of been nervous to listen to the entire message because I knew one of the catch phrases: “What if your life was a movie – would anyone want to watch it?” I had to be honest – I’m not sure!

Don (Can I call you that? I mean “Miller” alone sounds so high-school sports team-ish and “Donald Miller” sounds so formal. You really don’t strike me as a formal guy.) distills the elements of story into these required elements: 1) a likable but not perfect lead character, 2) a worthy goal or objective, 3) some conflict, and 4) an acceptable resolution. The sticking place for me is the “worthy goal or objective” and being brave enough to chase it.

The most powerful part of Miller’s message (high five!) is the fact that an acceptable resolution doesn’t have to be a fiary tale ending – everything doesn’t have to work out perfectly. The power of story is in its telling. For us, in its living out. Don uses the fact that narrative is the most common literary form in the Bible as his illustration, but each story doesn’t end with a 3-point sermon. Instead, we learn about living a life with God by reading the stories of others who have already lived their story.

So I wonder what you think. In the DVD Miller mentions a friend who started Blood:Water Mission. When Miller himself was first gaining the revelation of this idea of story, he spent several days alone seeking God for what his “worthy mission or goal” should be and decided on The Mentoring Project, an organization addressing the fatherless crisis in America.

These are awesome goals, but I wonder if there are other ways to live your story effectively. Ways that don’t require founding a non-profit organization? What other kinds of worthy goals or missions (don’t forget – the ones that require a good amount of conflict are the best from a storyteller’s perspective) do you think would qualify? If someone produced the movie of your life, what goal or accomplishment would you be pursuing?