Chance Encounter

An odd thing happened today.  Marie and I were at the Friends Animal Shelter in Newport to assess a dog they have there.  While that is not a common occurrence, that is not the odd thing.  After we assessed the dog we were standing outside talking to a staffer.  I noticed an Audi pull up to the front gate of the facility, which was closed. A woman got out of the car, slipped through the gap in the gate and approached the front of the building, disappearing from my sight.  Audi’s are not common here, but someone entering this way is not in itself odd, we came through the closed gate as well.  So I paid it no mind: must be someone the staff knows.

A few moments later Carol, the facilities vet tech and person in charge that day, led the woman around the corner toward us.  The woman said, “Oh, are you Doug Bittinger?” but she said my name in a manner that caused me much confusion.  She said it as though it meant something: someone of importance that she was excited to meet.  What unfolded over the next few minutes was astounding.

A man joined us and it turned out these were Marcie and Bob D., who had adopted a dog named Drake almost 5 years ago (Oct 2014). We had fostered Drake.  But, they adopted him from Eleventh Hour Rescue in New Jersey.  What were they doing here in Newport TN?  That’s the astounding part.

They have since moved from their apartment in New Jersey to an acreage in Kentucky and were on their way to Asheville today.  As they drove, they saw a sign indicating that Newport was ahead and Marcie said, “I’m sure Newport is where Eli is from (Drake is now named Eli, after their son’s favorite football player), let’s see if we can find that shelter.”  So they pulled off the interstate and poked around until they found what was, 5 years ago, known as the Newport Animal Shelter.  And they just happened to arrive during the one moment of eternity that Marie and I also happened to be there.

I am not a statistician, but I’m pretty sure the odds of something like this just happening is astronomical!

We remember Drake because he was a particularly bright, well behaved dog, and because he was one of the few dogs who was adopted the same day he arrived at the facility Steele Away Home – Canine Foster and Rescue sent him to.  Marcie has kept in touch over the years by sending occasional photos and updates (something we really appreciate, by the way). They gave us the story behind his rapid adoption and caught us up on their lives and the ways Eli has enriched it. It was wonderful meeting them in person and hearing all about Eli’s new life in the country.

But I’m still marveling at the way our paths crossed, from such distances, at that one place, in that one moment, to form that experience.  God does work in mysterious ways!

Bob, Marcie, Marie

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Fine, Just Fine

I inwardly cringe as I walk up the steps to the door.  Just inside I am met by a large fellow with a round, ruddy face.  He smiles broadly, “Well hey there, Doug, how you doing?” and sticks his hand out.  I wonder for a moment what would happen if I told him how I’m doing – but immediately dismiss that.  I’ve seen it before. I’d tell him about my concern and that would open the door to a rebuttal involving a litany of atrocities that make my ailments seem penny-ante indeed. So I shake his hand and say, “Fine, just fine.”  I deliberately leave off the expected, “and you?”  We will just leave that door closed.   We smile at one another and move in divergent directions.

This exchange is repeated a half-dozen times before I locate a spot that is the slack-water of the room where I can be present, but out of the way.  Not hiding, but not easily accessible either. Continue reading “Fine, Just Fine”

Ultimate Guide to Pet Adoption

Lancelot's new family, pet adoption
Our friend Lancelot and his new family

If you are thinking about acquiring a furry companion, pet rescues and shelters are filled with animals waiting to be adopted. Giving a new forever home to a rescued pet is a big decision. You want to give him a loving home and the best care possible. Pet adoption is lots of fun, but it does take planning and research.

You may ask yourself: How does it work? How do you choose the right pet? Where can I find a rescue or shelter near me? How does the adoption process work? The folks at know you’ve got many questions on adoption, and have put the answers together for you! They have created “The Ultimate Guide To Pet Adoption”. This guide is comprised of articles that will teach you everything you need to know Continue reading “Ultimate Guide to Pet Adoption”

Evening Breeze

senset from the porchAs the orange orb of the sun slid down behind English mountain, splashing the sky with rose, vermillion and mauve, the day’s heat began to wane.  The air began to move; caressing their cheeks to further cool them as they sat in their rockers on the porch before it drifted off to play among the trees.  The rustling leaves were like music.

The breeze wafted first from the south, then paused, and resumed again from the northeast, paused and swung back again as though it were playing a game.  “I wonder what makes it change like that.” She sighed.

His mind filled with images of weather charts and thermal differential flows; warm air rising, pulling cooler air in from all around, mobile low pressure cells.  He turned to her to deliver the dialogue that was forming.  She sat there, eyes closed, head against the tall chair back, as she lolled gently to and fro.  His nose wrinkled in thought, then he leaned back in his chair and resumed a slow rocking.  “Oh, it’s just playful I reckon.”

The sky deepened through the shades of purple into black as the Chuck-will’s Widow added his melody to the concert of nature.

* * * * *


Calvin S. Metcalf on Jacob's Well     It did not matter that she was a Samaritan, or a half-breed, as most Jews would have called her.  It did not matter that she was a woman of ill repute who came to draw water at a less conspicuous time.  It did not matter to Jesus that conversation with the likes of her would raise the eyebrows of the respected citizens of that area.  She had hoped to get her water and go home without seeing or talking with anyone.  Her sin had caused her to hide in the shadows of life.  Her lifestyle could not stand the scrutiny of the public eye.  She was already the topic of town talk.
     As Jesus sat on the rim of Jacob’s well He saw hurt, guilt and shame written on her face.  He initiated a conversation with a request “Woman, give me a drink of water.”  She was startled to hear a man who appeared to be a Jewish teacher even talk to her in a public place.  Her response was briskly stated.  “How is that you, being a Jew, would dare ask water of me, seeing I  am a Samaritan?”  The cultural climate of that day was much too prejudiced for that kind of interaction.  The years had created barriers of dislike between the two classes of people.  A Samaritan woman could well be suspicious of a Jewish male who would make such a request.  His intentions could be inappropriate.
     Jesus, knowing who He was, had nothing to prove or nothing to hide.  “If only you knew who was asking you for a drink you would seek from Him a water which would quench your thirst forever” was Jesus response to her surprised comment.  “Give me this water!” she insisted.  “Then I won’t have to come to this place of public gossip ever again.” 
     At this point Jesus wanted to talk about husbands.  She wanted to talk about the best place to worship.  Jesus explained that a time was coming and had arrived when the place of worship would be less important that the spirit and truth of worship.  This prophet soon turned Messianic in the woman’s mind and she hurried into the village to announce her discovery.  As a result of her uninhibited testimony, many believed.  
     Have you encountered a “Jacob’s well” lately where the water of “good-news grace” has washed away your bitterness, guilt and shame?  Has Messiah helped you overcome the negative ways in which some folk describe you?  Have you tasted the water that quenches your thirst for God?  Come let us drink together of the Water of life.


Calvin S. Metcalf on the Church     Prejudice is a strange and powerful aspect of human ignorance.  It has thousands of cunning ways to create unbelievable barriers.  It thrives on the lack of information.  It grows in the midst of suspicion and innuendoes.  Prejudice does not need facts to give impetus to its horrid influence.  It is propelled by the false winds of irresponsible conversation.  It holds us in the grip of  an unbending legalism.   
     It is mostly out of fear that we suspect those who are not our kind.  We do not wait for truth when we want to believe the worst about those whom we dislike.  Prejudice keeps us in the dark even when the light of other people’s opinions are before us.  It is difficult for us to see beyond the color of skin, language barriers and any number of objectionable characteristics.  Truth that comes in an unfamiliar package is unacceptable.  Like Pharisees of old we cannot accept a Messiah who is different. 
     Even though we wish it were not so, we are all quite gullible to the Satanic devices of prejudice.  We are forever looking for those folk toward whom we can feel superior.  We cling tenaciously to those ideas and customs which give us security of thought and keep our traditions intact.   People and ideas which challenge us to think “outside the box” are found to be objectionable.  We simply cannot tolerate that which is different. 
     Religion is a most vulnerable prey of prejudice.  Jesus found it that way in His day and strongly rebuked the religious leaders for their narrow opinions.  He sought to redeem His people from established habit and give them the truth which would make them free.  The mind of Christ is our only hope against the power of prejudice.  His gospel is good news to everyone who is victimized by an unbending disposition.  His grace can paralyze our prejudice.


Calvin S. Metcalf on the Church     Life is filled with many complicated issues.  Chaos abounds.  Trouble is everywhere.  Evil has a way of creeping into any system we may have thought was immune to its tragic power.  We cannot escape the perplexities of our times.  For the most part we are locked into whatever circumstances surround us.  Even church, which offers the saving grace of Jesus, is not free from the turmoil of confusion.  We are in a world obsessed with selfishness, hopelessness and godliness.  Despair  is written on our faces.  We are challenged to do the best we can with what we have as we find responsible ways to cope with life’s agenda.
     As we face the complicated issues of life we do well to distinguish between that which is a polarity and that which is a problem.  Polarities are situations which have no clearly defined solution.  They represent un-resolvable difference of opinions on each end of the mental spectrum.  Issues which are clearly non-negotiable are polarities.  People with extreme opinions tend to polarize themselves from the mainstream of human thought.  It is well to understand that we only manage polarities.  We do not solve them. 


Can You Have Too Much Knowledge?

I have Mitch Mitchell of ImJustSharing and his comments on a Wayback Whensday post to thank for the inspiration for this post.  We were discussing caffeine in beverages.  He asked a question about where caffeine comes from.  It was a perfectly legitimate question and related to the topic of discussion, so I answered it.  Before posting, I (like any responsible journalist would) checked my stated facts for accuracy and turned up an additional historical tid-bit or two, so I worked those in as well.

Mitch’s response to my reply indicated pleasure, and perhaps some surprise, with the quality of my answer.  And I wondered why.  What made this comment so different from dozens of others Mitch and I have exchanged in the past?  After all, I’m a well-read, educated fellow.  My head is crammed full of useful knowledge – and a fair bit of useless fluff that sneaks in.  Why would he be surprised to receive a well-considered response from me?  I pondered that for a while.  When I awoke, I realized it’s because it has not been the type of response I’ve been posting.  For that I blame Chuck… at least in part. Continue reading “Can You Have Too Much Knowledge?”


Calvin S. Metcalf on MarthaThe dishes were rattling noisily in the kitchen.  Martha was getting frustrated.  At first she only talked to herself.  It was a joy to cook for Jesus.  He was complimentary of her meals.  Although He did not say much His frequent visits indicated something was to His liking.  Maybe she was a little too sensitive in thinking Mary was not doing her part of the work.  “She will surely come to the kitchen shortly to do her usual chores,” Martha thought.  But she did not come.  More mealtime preparation noise did not seem to produce the desired effects.  Finally, Martha blurted out, “Lord do you not care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Please tell her to help me.”

The Lord fixed His eyes on Martha.  He studied her mood to determine the depth of her anger.  He looked at Mary, who seemed a bit embarrassed by Martha’s outburst.  He did not want to sound unappreciative, but the situation was obviously a teaching opportunity.  He wanted to calm her frustration by giving her a lesson on priorities.

There must have been a bit of pain in His voice as He said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried about many things.  Your kitchen duties have possessed you.  Your meal is more important to you than my fellowship.  You have chosen to feed me.  Mary has chosen to let me feed her.  She has made the better choice because physical food is for the moment while spiritual food is forever.”

Like Martha, we sometimes get preoccupied with important things, but in the process neglect the most important thing.  There is nothing more essential to our earthly existence than a healthy hunger for God.  To crave conversation with the Master is the key to unlock our spiritual personality.  Unless we have fellowship with Him we may never survive the busyness of life. The Christian life is a matter of priorities.  The “less than best” is always sacrificed for the best.  Somewhere along life’s journey we want to hear Him say that we have chosen the good thing that cannot be taken away from us.  It is a matter of living close enough to Him to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”


Calvin S. Metcalf     Someone has said, “Success knows no strangers while failure has no friends.”  On first reading it seems to be a fairly accurate observation.  We do tend to applaud those who succeed and shun those who have failed.  Society gives the limelight to those who have done extraordinarily well, yet it hardly gives a footnote to those who have not met public expectations.  The friendship factor favors the successful.  We clamor for companionship from those who can teach us how to be winners.  We are indifferent to those who have allowed life to lose its zest.  Business, politics, entertainment, and sometimes even religion focus upon beautiful people who appear to be bright and successful.  Therefore our beginning statement seems to have some validity.
     On the other hand, however, the issue of success and failure may be as much a matter of perception as reality.  If we perceive ourselves to be successful, most likely we will have a more exuberant personality.  Yet, if we perceive ourselves to be failures most likely we will be inhibited and withdrawn.  From this perspective neither success nor failure is as much a matter of numbers as it is a matter of attitude.  Successful people who have lost the challenge of achievement feel like failures.  People who have failed are sometimes motivated to survive their setbacks and focus their sights on higher goals.  In many ways we are who we think we are and we do well not to think more highly or lowly of ourselves than we ought.  Continue reading “SUCCESS AND FAILURE”