Give a Stray a Family

Dogs are very loyal creatures. I have a small Rat Terrier that showed up at my door right after my mother passed away. She has been a wonderful dog and a constant companion to John David and me.

My daughter has 4 rescues and 3 of them either follow her to my house when she comes to visit, or they come when they see me drive by. These dogs were all left on the side of the road between our houses. One is from 5 puppies that were left on the side of the road. We fear the beloved “Buddy” was killed a few weeks ago.

The other night I was at my daughter’s house until very late. We had been watching movies and I didn’t want to leave before we finished the last one. Three of the dogs followed me home. I was not afraid as I entered the house. I knew they would risk their own lives protecting me…if it came to it. I lay down on the sofa and began to watch tv and fell sound asleep.

At 5:21 a.m., I woke up to the sound of coyotes howling on my porch (this is unusual behavior for coyotes) and the dogs were barking ferociously. Afraid for their safety, I ran to the front door and jerked it open and began yelling. The coyotes scattered. Those three loyal little dogs had sat and watched over me all night. I went to my refrigerator and found some of the yummy leftovers and gave them each their own little plate. It was still dark as they gobbled it up. When day broke, they went home.

I have never known Coyotes to be so aggressive. Has anyone else had a problem with this lately? Almost everyone in our area puts their garbage in large cans or wooden containers. We all know that it attracts wild animals, including coyotes. I’d be interested to hear back if you have found the Coyotes to be more aggressive than usual!

But I digress. We have only had good experiences with our strays. Heather’s dogs love her children. We have pictures of the boys playing with toys on them, one of the large dogs (Buddy’s brother) is a part-time inside dog. He even has clothes which the kids dress him in, lol. We have adopted all that we can handle for now, but during this season of giving, I would urge anyone looking for a new fur baby to consider giving a home to a stray. Ours are so sweet and grateful.

Family First

When I worked at the Extension Service in Fort Bend County, TX, I became friends with a Family and Consumer Science Agents. At the time her children were teens and she was talking about them dating and their girlfriend or boyfriend sometimes being jealous of her children’s great relationship with their family.

My children were still very young, at the time, and I could not imagine someone coming between me and them. Fortunately, I haven’t experienced that with either of my children. But I have carried her simple advice with me throughout my life and shared it whenever someone had a problem such as this.

If someone truly cares about you, if they truly love you, not only will they encourage your relationship with your family, but they will also want to be a part of it. Why? Because there is nothing worse than being pulled between the people that you love. It is an impossible situation. Either way the person turns, they cannot be truly happy.

If a person is forced to make this type of sacrifice in the name of “love”. There will be resentment in the future and in many cases the relationship will fail. I have seen it happen over and over again.

I Come From God

My daughter sent me a text yesterday about a conversation between my grandson, Braxton (4 years old) and his older sister Riley (senior in high school). Riley and Braxton have over a decade separating them in years but are very similar in many ways. Riley and her sister, Ireland have long dark hair and brown eyes, Mason their brother has dark hair as well. Heather and her brother Michael had blond hair when they were younger and Braxton inherited this trait. Riley was talking to Braxton and teasingly asked, “Where did you come from with that blond hair and those blue eyes?” Without thinking Braxton replied, “I come from God.”

Sometimes we forget that. We are so caught up in our daily lives that we forget that we exist by the Grace of God. He “knitted us in our mother’s womb”. People often say, “Out of the mouths of babes…” in jest, but it is evident that they sometimes see things much clearer than adults. I thought about this yesterday evening. A few years ago when my parents were sick and I was dreading the loss of them in my life, I would try to stay present in the moment enough to recognize small things God did to let me know He was there each day. It might be something simple, like finding an item that I was sure was lost. Or it might be something stronger, like seeing a couple of rare red foxes on a walk in the countryside or the sun breaking through the clouds and shining a beam of light where I was standing in the forest. God knows me so well that He often does small things to remind me that He is there. I began thanking Him and acknowledging these small daily miracles and it made me more grateful.

I read a post this morning that said we keep asking God for answers to the same problem over and over and that what God wants us to do is to be present and listen. We are so busy asking that we often don’t see His answers unfolding right before us. We don’t see it because it wasn’t how we were expecting the problem to be resolved. Be present in your life. Put down the phone and see the miracles around you. Listen for the answers to your prayers and never forget that “you come from God.”

Our Sacred Bonds and Responsibilities to Children

Above is a stained-glass window in Steam Mill Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Sebastopol, MS that was donated by the Green side of my family.  I used to have a color version, but wasn’t able to locate it. The Green Family and its descendants has been so blessed with numerous children. I love this window, because it depicts the day that Jesus said to let the children come to Him.  

Luke 18:15-17 15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Children trust with their whole hearts. They truly believe the promises that adults make to them. They look to us for love, guidance and comfort. I believe that God designed children to be so helpless and so small to ensure that they were in a state where we could help Him mold them into good people.

It doesn’t matter if you are a biological parent, an adoptive parent, Aunt, a Grandfather, a step-parent, a family friend or a Godparent.  If you have loved and mentored a child, you play a key role in who they become and how they trust.

I have several friends and family who are adopted, and the interesting thing about these adoptive relationships is that usually, they see their adoptive parents as their “real parents” long after they find and sometimes establish relationships with their biological parents.  They might even have great relationships with their biological family. But they identify their adoptive parents as their true parents.

Why is this? Because during the formative years, a child is cared for and nurtured. An invisible bond of love and trust is established with their caregivers.  I think this is why children of divorce seem to struggle so much.  Often, the parent without custody tends to back up from parental responsibilities.  Years later, the parent who became indifferent can’t understand why their grown children aren’t as connected as they would hope. They don’t see that in the child’s eyes, the child felt abandoned because it was no longer convenient for the non-custodial parent to be in the child’s life. If you have taken on a role of parent to a child in these formative years, you have a responsibility to that child. Your connection to that child is not based on your friendship or relationship to the parent. It is based on the fact that child put the trust of their hearts and welfare in your hands. They loved you and continue to count on your love. That bond will always be there in their eyes once it is established. How they view that bond is dependent on you.

What happens to a child when a parent figure detaches? They become untrusting and lose self-worth. Besides actual abuse and neglect, it is possibly one of the most damaging forces in a child’s life. Now there are situations when a person is unstable, abusive or neglectful and the tie needs to be severed for the child’s best interest. But when a caregiver, suddenly cuts ties with a child that loves them, it is extremely damaging.

Connections in life are so precious. May we all work together to love and nurture our children. May we protect their innocence and tender hearts. May we raise them to be strong loving adults and most importantly, may we be available to love and mentor when it matters. Love is the fertilizer for all good things. Spread it liberally.

All You Own

This isn’t the violinist in the story, but reminds me of him.

I’m not under the illusion that I really own anything. After all, everything that you perceive you own can be taken away in a moment by a natural disaster, the government, or some other unforeseen event.

I’ve repeated this story at least twice before, but it is one that had very real impact on how I felt about homeless individuals. I was shopping downtown in San Luis Obispo, CA one beautiful afternoon and heard the strains of a violin. A thin little man in ragged clothes sat on a bench with his small case open for tips, playing the most beautiful piece of music. He was situated right in front of Cold Stone Creamery. I walked in the store and purchased my favorite, a scoop of cheese cake ice cream with a strawberry mix in and on second thought asked them to make it two of them. When I exited the ice cream shop he was still playing. It was a new selection but equally as beautiful. I sat on the bench and put some money in his case and handed him the other cone. He grinned and thanked me gratefully. His eyes were intelligent and thoughtful. This was not a man caught in the ravages of drugs, it was a man who had seen misfortune.

I told him that he played beautifully and sounded like he had been professionally trained. He told me that at one time, he played for the Los Angeles Orchestra https://www.orchestrala.org/. I looked at him thoughtfully, and I asked, “What happened that brought you here to this bench on this sunny day?” He shrugged and told me that his brother had become very sick and that he lost all his money trying to care for him. The remainder of what he had left was spent on his brother’s burial. After his brother’s death, he fell into a deep depression and became a wanderer, until he arrived in San Luis Obispo. People there seemed to appreciate his music, and they were kind to him. He never was able to recover financially, and by the time he emotionally recovered, his position in the orchestra had been filled. For the past several years, he had been content to perform on this bench or that bench for whatever he could collect in tips for that day. He told me of his life and all the tragedies that he had experienced, but it was in a matter-of-fact way. He had long accepted his fate. As he finished his ice cream he looked up at me and said, “It’s really all just an illusion. You know….owning things. We just pay to borrow them for a time.”

He resumed playing again and after a few minutes I thanked him for sharing his music and found my way to my car. I had lost my desire to shop. He was right. From that point forward, when someone complains about a person being homeless I say the same thing, “How many paychecks could you miss without losing everything?” The answer is usually between 3-6. Friends my age could probably go a bit longer, but it would seriously affect their retirement funds.

I was listening to a story on the radio this morning. In it, the father told the son that all anyone really owned was their name and their word. That is the truth and we all need to take a moment and reflect on it. We pay the price to borrow things for a time, but sooner or later, all our possessions go to one person or the other and all that remains is “our name” and “our word”. As we enter the season of Thanksgiving, let’s hold dear what we truly have to be thankful for…our Father in Heaven, Salvation, the people in our lives that love us, and those whom we love. The rest… well we are just borrowing it for a time.

Dogs

There is a unique relationship between dog and man. I’m not discounting other pets. I have had some other wonderful pets including, cats, birds and even a squirrel. But from my personal experience my dog pets seem more concerned about me and making me happy.

This became particularly obvious to me last night when I told John David that I thought I might be more comfortable on the sofa. The arthritis in my left leg was killing me and I just seem to be able to position myself more comfortably there. When he got ready to go to bed he asked Shadow if she wanted to come sleep with him. She ran from the other sofa and jumped on the sofa with me during the time that he was trying to persuade her. He knew that her sharing the sofa with me would add to my discomfort. I told him it would be ok and he closed the door so he could watch TV without disturbing my sleep. The minute the door closed Shadow jumped off my sofa and returned to the other one. I smiled over at her. It was as if she had been saying, “She doesn’t feel good, I’m not leaving her space.” The whole night she stayed on the other sofa, peeking over the cushions whenever I moved. When I started to get ready for work, she joined John David in the bed.

On Sunday, my daughter’s family’s dog went missing. His name is Buddy. The picture above is of him. I think of how Buddy became such an integral part of Heather’s family so quickly. Out of the 5 puppies Heather rescued from the side of the road, he was the most devoted. He was a constant companion to the boys and had such a cute personality. Sunday, Heather had shared with me that she was going to turn him into an inside dog. Then he disappeared suddenly. They came to have lunch with us on Sunday and he didn’t return home. She sadly told me that if he would just come home she would take him to the vet and give him a nice warm bath and a good meal. The loss is so real, Heather and her children have deeply mourned their friend. If anyone has seen him around Neshoba County Roads 208 or 210 or the general Madden/Turnertown Area, please let us know. Please help us reunite this family member with his family.

Impeach Congress

On my drive into work in the mornings, I listen to MPB. Not that it is unbiased, but I get some good local news and am able to kind of sift through the facts on issues that seem to be politically influenced. This morning there was a story about Boris Johnson throwing the issue of Brexit back out to the people in a General Election because Parliament won’t agree on the exit strategy. This may end up hurting his efforts, but I think it is a wonderful idea.

I am ready for a similar General Election in the US. The people we pay to represent us in Washington are unable to do anything but disagree. The last 4 years seem to have been spent on impeaching the acting president and refusing to agree on a wide range of important issues. I think we should have a nationwide election polling the actual citizens on how we feel on each issue. The politicians seem to have forgotten why we elected them and what was included in their campaign promises. Oh, and we should vote for their salary ranges and increases. They control ours. We should control their salaries. Turn around is fair play.

Our Congress seems to think this is a popularity contest and feel that once they get in office, their opinion is the only one that matters. Instead, they are supposed to be our voice, regardless of their personal feelings. If they cannot speak for the majority, we need to have some type of General Election to define tasks that they are to complete during their terms. After all, we are their boss. They seem to have forgotten that along the road to Washington. Their efforts should be limited to those tasks we assign. Speaking of terms, they should be seriously restricted. No more career politicians!

And while we are at it, no one should be allowed to run for office on an opponent’s mistakes or accusations of mistakes made by an opponent. Any negative campaigning or leaked false information to the press should result in a fine. Run on your own merits! I’m not interested in what the other guy can’t do, I want to know what you are going to do!

I think we should impeach Congress, or at the very least, give them a vote of “No Confidence!”