Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New older gentleman comes here to live out his last years

This is Samson. Samson is 13 years old. He was a racer for seven years, we think. He then was with one owner for 5 years and another for one year. I found him on Craiglist- free to good home. Greyhounds live to be fifteen if they are in very good health, so I knew when I took him that we would not have him for a very long time. We have never had a full size greyhound before, but have a dear friend whose Greyhound stays with us while the family is on vacation. Samson is in mediocre shape. He has arthritis in his left hip and has very few teeth left in the front. (Greyhounds kept at the track try to gnaw their way out of the cage and it grinds their teeth down the the pulp, which is what happened with Samson.) He is a bit underweight and sleeps alot. He loves it here- he moved in the first day with NO adjustment issues at all, except he hates being at the house alone. The first time we got ready to leave to go somewhere, he popped up and started panting and acting very worried. I assured him that I wouldn't leave him for more than a couple of hours. So, now he has his own crate in our bedroom (don't know what we're going to do with the chair that was there before), and a family that adores him. Jon and I had gone to the track about six years ago and Jon was always IN LOVE with the brindled colored ones. I always went for the solid black ones. So here we are, with a brindle black Greyhound, who is an old man. He will accompany me to the local schools when I do my humane education programs. I had been praying about who to take with me, as none of our dogs are really suitable to take to schools- they either LICK people to death (Sassy), or they pee on things (Ra), or they are too scared to even look a child in the eye. (Tigger). So, when Samson came here, God said, " Here he is- the perfect dog for the classrooms." I was astounded. He is quiet, loves kids, and happy to lie on a floor and be adored by anyone. And he has PERFECT housemanners. Shouldn't amaze me that God provided a ram in the thicket, but He did- AGAIN. And this one already came with a Biblical name.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I love this old dog, even if he was someone else's for 13 years!!!

This is Danny, the 13 year old that was surrendered at the Clay County Shelter for peeing in his house. This is the sweetest dog. He is quiet, loving, and so very obedient. He just needed to wear a belly band in the house and he hasn't tried to pee on the furniture once. What a gift he has been to our family- and in exchange, he will be able to grow old in peace and surrounded by people who love him. People "get rid" of these old dogs and never know what a gift they have given our family, so I am grateful even to these people who throw away these old dogs. One man's trash is another man's treasure. And what a treasure this old dog is to me. (Follow up on Danny- his owners contacted us after two weeks, just distraught and realizing they had made a rash decision and wanted him back. Knowing that we have a God that forgives bad decisions and allows second chances, we invited her to come and get her dog. She was overjoyed and he is doing well.)

Proof that this IS the Peaceable Kingdom

So, I have often told people that none of our animals would hurt other animals. Most of the time they are amazed. I feel that God has blessed our animals with the knowledge that everyone needs to be safe here. We take GREAT CARE with our birds- so don't be alarmed at this picture. I have to tell you that the cat on the right is our mighty bird, lizard, frog, and everything hunter, Jackie. She brings fresh gifts to our garage daily. On the left, it's hard to see, but if you look carefully, you'll see a little green thing next to Em's notebook. It's her Senegal parrot, Kito. Em is working on her homework, and the cat is snoozing, and parrot is watching all the world. You can't tell, but Emily is watching the cat carefully. Jackie had NO DESIRE to hurt that bird. I sat and watched them and I was even amazed. I KNOW God has placed every animal here carefully, and even with that, sometimes I say, "WOW." I know my brother is just flipping out, you have to see it to believe it. :) Our cats love our dogs, our dogs love our cats, and now, it appears, our cats love our birds (or at least, they don't harm them). Amazing, but then God always is.

New life in Christ

Emily and Julianna were baptized on Sept 6, as were their cousins, Matthew and Elizabeth. It was an amazing day- everyone who was there commented on what a special baptism it was. First the girls gave their testimonies of why they wanted to be Christians and then they were baptized in the ocean. It was the most incredible feeling I have ever felt, next to the feeling I had when they were born. I thank God for my husband, his family, and the influence they have had on my kids. I think the mama had something to do with it too, but I am constantly amazed at God's grace when it comes to these precious little angels.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Our flock increaseth

This summer we have added two more members to our flock. Julianna who is turning nine in a month has been wanting a bird of her own ever since Emmy got Kito. So she now has a birthday bird, a beautiful lutino cockatiel named Isabella. They love each other very much and all of us love Isabella. She loves to sit on your shoulder while you do much of anything- she lives on me while I go about my kitchen duties, laundry detail and even "helps" pick up the girls from the bus stop. (In the car of course). The other new resident is a Sun Conure named Soleil, which is French for Sun. She is a clown and very smart and although she is not a chronic screamer as conures are known to be, she does need to tell everyone when she wakes up or when someone new walks in a room. She can belt it out, let me tell you. Jon ADORES Soleil and she him- she loves me very much and her favorite spot to rest is under my shirt, with her little head resting on my chest and once in a while she'll pop her head out and see who's in the room.
We have two more foster dogs, a 13 year old IG, Danny and a 8 month old named Shadow- IGs surrendered into a kill shelter for "potty issues". We will have them until they are adopted and Shadow will go very quickly- he's young and flashy. As for Danny, I don't know how long he'll be here, but he's old and easy, so that's no problem.
I am somewhat mortified about people coming to stay with us now as the dogs and Soleil have a strict 6am waking time, regardless of our waking time. Mornings here are NUTS. Soleil could wake the dead with her good morning screech. SO, if you are planning to come see us any time soon, bring your ear plugs and roll your eyes when WE CAN'T SEE YOU DO IT. (Actually, I think we might put folks up in my mom's empty house while she and Daddy are out of town.) It's a zoo, but it's our zoo, and all the inhabitants are very grateful for this second chance at life, and we are happy (most of the time) to give them our love, our time, and our morning coffee. (Which we now need more of, by the way.) The head zookeeper has added feeding the dogs in the morning to his routine so that I could concentrate on Emily and Julianna on school mornings, and I am very grateful for that. I've been doing it for 12 years, so it's nice to have someone take that for a while. :) Our flock has increaseth, but we have ALOT of senior citizens here, so it's only temporary. The birds, however, may outlive Jon and me. HEAVENS!!!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

God is so specific

This picture shows EXACTLY how I recently came to see God. We are in the middle of this little safe tunnel and outside of us is the world- stormy, crashing, could wipe us out, except that God has put us the in little tunnel of quiet in the middle. He tells us- Just stay on the board, I'll do the rest. How do I make a long story short? Well, here it is. Went to get diagnosed for bipolar two, and my roomate at the women's center looked familiar. Real familiar. Her husband had left her for a younger woman and she was truly suicidal. That night as we lay in the darkness on our beds, I asked her if she was a Christian. She said that she was and asked where I went to church. I told her Christian Family Chapel. She gasped and said, " So do I." But I didn't know her from church. On we talked and she asked what I did before kids and I asked her, and she said, " I worked labor and delivery at Baptist Hospital." I gasped and said, " Do you spell your name in this certain way ( I am protecting her identity) because your name is short for so and so? She GASPED, and I started to cry. I said, " You were my labor and deliver nurse for 12 hours when I gave birth to my oldest daughter Emily." Her picture is in Emmy's baby book, literally. I never forgot her name, the spellling of her name or why it was spelled that way because she was SUCH AN AMAZING NURSE. I told her, " You may think that being here is awful (and it was, for most of us) but here is the reason I am here." The next day I coaxed her to eat and drink and take her meds and she got out of bed. I stroked her arms and hugged her and told her that I cared and that 10 years ago she told me I would make it while I was in such pain giving birth to Emily and now it was my turn to tell her the same thing- she would live and that God was showing her that he had NOT forgotten her, at all, but rather he was very specific and wanted to help her and encourage her by sending me. (I felt some urgent need to get diagnosed THAT NIGHT) and would not wait. Call me impulsive or call it the Holy Spirit.) I am so amazed still. We are both out now and are keeping in touch and both of us are doing much better, but we will never forget that night. In the meantime, I sent her the picture of her, Jon and me in the labor and delivery room to remind her of God's faithfulness. I am humbled that God would choose me, a broken and mixed up gal to bring this friend a message of hope, but I have also learned that because of all of my trials, I am always willling to do anything, and to never stop asking for help. So my crying out for help turned out to be not so much to help ME, but to help someone else- what an amazing God we have.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bring on the Rain by Jodee Messina

A few years back, I went through a very rough emotional time. I also started listening to Jodee Messina then. I can remember the day that this song came on the radio and I almost wrecked my van. I mean it. It was actually raining outside and in my heart the day I heard it. I heard it and thought, " That is MY SONG!". I can't do the song justice by just printing the words, so you need to find it on the internet and listen to it. This song is such an example of how our faith in God can change our attitude from " What am I going to do?" to " Go ahead, I've got God, bring on the rain, I can take it!!!" Julianna and Emily, bless their hearts heard this song over and over and over when they were 5 and 3 and 1/2 and it became ingrained in their minds- it's still one of Julesy's favorites and she can BELT IT OUT. Emily told me recently that I should include this on my blog, so I am. :) I hope someone out there can benefit from the spirit of this song, and enjoy the tune as well. It's AWESOME!!!


Sunday, May 6, 2007

How do they find me???

Well, we've got another cat. He is an uneutered male (soon to be neutered) and young- probably a year or less. My memory card is full or I'd include a picture. He is beautiful in a very unboyish way. He has longer hair with green eyes and a beautiful ruff of fur around his face. Very striking boy he is. He showed up a few days ago and at first just wanted food. Now he could care less about the food, he wants LOVE. He is thin, so I am sure he needs the food, but he will leave the food bowl if you come out into the garage and he will beg to be pet. I told Jon that he was sticking around and Jon said, " Is he sweet, will he let you pet him?" "Yes, he's a sweetie, I said." "Cool", was Jon's reply. I said, "He's not fixed." Jon said, " He will be soon, right?". This is our little "dance" of new animals. It is understood between us that no animal that comes to us will be turned away or put to sleep, unless it is very sick. It is understood that if the animal is healthy and gets along with the others, he will be vetted (yes, we get a discount) and taken in. So, tomorrow I am off to the vet to make sure he's not sick with some awful disease and get his reproductive parts taken care of and then a name for the pretty boy. It's always hard to do that because all of our male cats have female names, so I am sure this one will be no exception. It's the price you pay to become a Trinkle cat- you're gonna have a pretty name. Sigh......................... I don't know how they know to come here, but they do, and they must know somehow that kindness lives at this house.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The pool is open!!!-

Oh what a wonderful day yesterday was! Yesterday was the day that we officially turned on the pool heater for the summer. "What's the big deal about that?", you ask? For me it is a symbol of the time to come and a delightful reminder of the freedom of summer. Here are some of the many reasons that this time of year is a sigh of relief for me.

We can get up when we want and sleep in when we want and stay in our jammies as long as we want.

I don't make breakfast.

I can spend hours of time with my little girls- whether going somewhere fun or just vegging out here.

I CAN READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (don't ask me why I feel like I can read more during the summer, I just do)

In a pinch, I can jump in the pool, shampoo my hair, jump back in and I am DONE- the quickest clean in the world. (Yes, we do this, don't comment on how "gross" it is- it's just a bit of shampoo, folks).

I hate cold weather. HATE IT. Summer sympbolizes me coming out of the cave, literally and figuratively.

I love going on walks in the cool night air.

The dogs can have baths outside without freezing to death. (When you have 13 dogs, that is a VERY BIG DEAL!)

The birds can stay in their outside cages most of the day, on the pool porch and sing to their hearts' content.


PAPER PLATES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
July is the month when we go to the beach for one week and rent a condo- the kids catch fish in the little nets (Em is demonstrating in the picture) and we go hunting for fiddler crabs and eat dinner at Saltwater Cowboys. We spend hours on the beach and in the pool and catch up on sleep and eating and reading. All of these things are memories we savor and traditions my kids treasure each year.

I am so happy and I am so glad I live in Florida- I don't mind the heat- and I love the freedom of the summer.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

No guile in their mouths

Why God has chosen animals to teach me some of my most important spiritual lessons, I have no idea. Perhaps it's because they don't talk. There are no words to interfere with what they SHOW ME. I was petting my cats tonight and thinking about the dogs and a scripture came to mind. Not the EXACT wording, but the thought, and then I looked it up on Bible Gateway. "There is no guile in their mouths." (This was the thought that came to my mind, which is not the actual scripture, mind you.) Guile, is defined as duplicity- contradictory doubleness of thought, speech or action. John 1:47 says, " When Jesus saw Nathaniel approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false (guile). In Isaiah, Jesus is described in Chapter 53, verse 9 as " He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was there any deceit (guile) in his mouth." Jesus did not say one thing when he meant another. What an amazing quality- how many of us can say that of ourselves? Not me, that's for sure. But one of the things I respect and love MOST about my animals is that they have no guile in their mouths. They might eat poop or roll in dead things, but they will NEVER "say" one thing when they mean another. If they are happy, they exude HAPPY. If they are scared, they exude FEAR. If they are angry with another dog, they show it, take care of the problem, and get on to other things. If they don't want to be pet because they are hurt (sometimes the first clue that someone is not feeling well), they walk away or shy away from your hand. They always tell the truth. They are not duplicitous. How many of us see someone that we despise, and yet we smile and say hello anyway? How many times do we not feel like speaking but we pick up the phone and "fake" a conversation? Now, I am not condoning being RUDE, but just saying that too often we say things we really really don't mean. We are doing one thing and saying another, or thinking one thing and doing another. If Jesus wanted to tell someone they were wrong, like the woman at the well, he didn't coat his real words with lies. He told them what the problem was, and then lovingly told them how to solve the problem. He didn't walk into the temple and say, " Well I'm not sure, but I don't think this is how you should use my Father's house. " Jesus was a man of few words unless he was preaching to the masses, so I find it interesting that he commented on Nathaniel's lack of guile. He must have found it a rare quality or an important one, to comment on Nathaniel's quality of truthfulness. When we get a new dog, they are often terrified or sad, and there is no question about that. The picture above is of Rocco, our newest surrender. He was very afraid and sad for the first week he was here and it was VERY EVIDENT. He followed me from room to room and shook violently when left alone. He was so sad and didn't know who his new owner was and he SHOWED confusion, fear, and sadness. Now, he is totally in love with our family and me in particular, and his happiness is VERY EVIDENT- he wags his tail, lays his head on your shoulder, and licks your face with such enthusiasm. God used him to remind me today that I should do what I say, say what I mean, keep my mouth shut if I am mad, (until I have prayed about the right thing to say) and let no guile be in my mouth. I think Jesus would approve of the lesson that I was reminded of today. I hope I will practice it as diligently as my animals do.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Twisty, aka Truffles

Alot of times, the stories behind our animals are as interesting as the animals themselves. If you look carefully at the top picture of Truffles, you will see that her left hind leg seems to stick out a bit. Her original name was Twisty, but we hated the name (you'll find out later), so we renamed her Truffles. Twisty was in a cage at Animal Care and Control with a big laminated sign on her cage that said, " Twisty"- and then it told her story. It seems that the kitten got caught on the twisted part of a barbed wire fence by her back left leg. She was seen hanging there for three days before someone decided to see if she was still alive. She was. So they took her off the fence, and treated her for her very severe wounds and her near death dehydration. Julianna wanted a tiny kitten, but I talked her into getting this cat instead. I knew that she would be a very special soul. And she is. She craves attention, loves to sit on your lap, and gets along with all the pets here, especially the birds. Since she is an indoor kitty, that is important. She walks a bit oddly and when she eats, that back left leg always splays out in back of her. I am so glad we have her.
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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Big Tiny and the lessons he teaches

One of the lessons that I try very hard to teach my two little girls is that man looks at the outside of a person, but God looks at the heart. I cannot tell you how many times a week that phrase comes out of my mouth, regarding other people's behaviour or the behaviour of Em and Jules, good and bad. I want my girls to see others FIRST for how they behave, and secondly for the way they look on the outside. And they have learned this lesson very well. Sometimes that is difficult to do. Our cat, Tiny, is a constant reminder of this lesson. People ask his name and when I say Tiny, they always laugh and say, " Why Tiny?" And I tell them his story. One cold morning a few Thanksgivings ago, I went out to feed our outside kitties. I heard a strange kitty voice, " Meewwwwwww." I said, " Who is that?" We continued this conversation until I located where the voice was coming from. A tiny cat was under Jon's truck. I coaxed him out and it was the saddest sight I have ever seen. There was a brown tabby who was so thin that his bones almost poked through his skin. He was a tiny, bony, striped cat with a huge head and huge yellow eyes. I could get my fingers around his tummy he was so thin. I took him to the vet and said, " How old is this kitten?" (After they weighed him and told me he was five pounds I assumed he must be a few months old.) The vet said, " This is a full grown neutered male cat, Anne. This was obviously someone's pet." I almost cried. I said, " Give him his shots, I am taking him back home." ( I had intended to take him to the no kill shelter.) So we named him Tiny and began giving him huge amounts of food and love. I don't know which he needed more. He would eat and then sit for 30 minutes on your lap, purring and kneading his paws on your legs. He never left the garage and always came when he was called. As time went by, Tiny became HUGE. His body seemed to catch up with his head, but his eyes always seemed too big for him. So when other people see our cats, he is never the first one to catch their eyes. He looks kind of odd, quite frankly. But I have NEVER EVER known such a sweet cat. His heart is nothing but goodness and love. Once when he had gotten attacked by a neigbor's cat, I had to shave his neck to see the wounds and put hot compresses on them 3 times a day. This cat sat on the bathroom floor and PURRED over the sound of the electric razor. He never fought the compresses or ran from me when I came out to give him his pills, as much as he hated both. How much that impressed me!
When I see Tiny, I see one of the most beautiful cats in the world, but other people don't see that. People stop short at his unusual looks and when I see that, I gush, " Oh, that's Tiny- see what he does when you pet him!" They bend down and pet him and soon Tiny is drooling and laying in their lap, the picture of contentment. And then they see what I see and love him too. I use Tiny as a lesson to my kids when they are tempted to judge others based on their looks or how they dress. I remind them that God saves some of the best souls to be embodied in different looking frames and tell them to always remember Tiny and the beauty that he is, inside and out. I remember when I am tempted to complain about my daily physical pain that Tiny was still, quiet, and obedient during his treatments for his wounds. I realize through this cat that many times our children need our love and affection more than they need our meals. And many times, we just want to hurry and "pour the food" and scoot off to do other things. All the animals here all need me to stop and love them in addition to their meals and fresh water. And it reminds me that I need to stop and physically love my children, to hug them and kiss them and tell them how precious they are to me. Unlike Tiny, they won't wind around my legs until I show them some attention. Once again, God, thank you for teaching me these simple but hard to remember lessons through a big Tiny cat.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Totally in love with the head zookeeper

I am so totally in love with the head zookeeper here. I thought I would share a few of the reasons why I am so enamoured with this man. This is a photo of him with Sadie and Gunnar, two Italian Greyhounds that boarded here for four months. They are now in Japan with their real mommie and daddy. While they were here Jon often said, " Those dogs are so awesome- let's tell Julie and Noa we'll just keep them." We both were so happy for them to be with their real parents, but the day I dropped them off at the airport was a sad day for everyone, especially Jon. Everyone believes that Jon is just TOLERANT of the animals here, but let me tell you the truth. He absolutely adores our critters. He is a totally mushy, goofy acting, nonsense talking love muffin with all of residents (especially the human ones). :) Ranger and Pica are his favorites. Ranger is his blue headed pionus in the last post. He and Jon eat all their meals together- that is to say that Ranger eats off of Jon's plate. He loves Jon and only Jon and each morning they share breakfast and Jon talks to him. "C'mon Rangie, let's get up and eat breakfast!" " Hey you pretty bird, you love your daddy, don't you, yes you DO!" I could go on, but I don't want to totally embarrass Jon. Ranger eats pasta, chicken, shrimp, steak, toast- all the things that people don't think birds eat. Ranger LOVES macaroni and cheese. My brother is appalled at what we let him eat (he owns a miniature macaw), but we figure it this way. So Ranger dies in 35 years of liver disease instead of living 60 years- that's LONG ENOUGH. But I digress. Pica, our tiny IG is Jon's other favorite- he is silly headed over that dog. He snuggles with her almost every night and it is the sweetest sight EVER. But Jon loves everyone. When he comes home, he goes into the backyard and proceeds to get the most enthusiastic greeting from our 12 dogs and they take turns getting love from Daddy. (He has already loved on our daughters, mind you- don't want everyone thinking we've got OUR priorities messed up, no sir.) Anyway, one by one they come and get their ears rubbed and sweet nothings said to them. Jon's part sounds something like this. "Hey Tiki Princess, how are you today, beautiful girl? Oh, Houston,you rocket boy- did you catch any squirrels today? Hey ole Pancho skinny man, you're looking good today, Oh Ra Ra, how are those old ears today? Sassy, I love you but DON"T LICK ME SO MUCH! Hey little Pica girl, you little thing, hey ole Buddy Boy, you wild thing. On and on until each dog is satisfied that they have been seen and properly adored.
Jon works as hard as I do to keep our animals happy and healthy. He has cleaned hamster cages with the kids, refilled bird water dishes, scrubbed out dog bowls, cleaned out crates, given cats and dogs their pills- there is nothing he won't do for our pets. He is honestly the dearest man I have ever known. When it came time to euthanize our first Cat, Spaz, he drove me to the vet, but had to stay in the car because he was crying so hard. He has buried every parakeet, hermit crab, and cat that has died and has encouraged our children to make beautiful graves for them all. He has spent hours with me at the emergency vet and watched while our dear cat Moses died before our eyes. We held each other and cried on each other's shoulders. He has planted each hibiscus that adorns our cats' graves. I thank God every day for this sensitive, loving, and committed man. This zoo bonds our family in ways that noone will ever understand. If a man can love our four legged friends this much, there is no amount I can write to express his love for our children and me. Thank you God for hand picking Jon for me and thank you for letting us share our love with all of our "children". He is truly the best zookeeper I know.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Share more than meals at the family table

There's a commercial on TV right now about the importance of families communicating and spending time at the dinner table. The narrator says, "Share more than meals at the family table." Well, we already have that down to a fine art. We share our meals and more than our meals with about 4 extra family members. Last night I just had to laugh out loud. Kito and Ranger, our two parrots were eating something off of someone's plate, Pharaoh was standing beside the table hoping for some morsel to fall off the table, and our inside kitty, Truffles was very much wanting someone to pet her. Dogs and cats and birds all near each other??? Yep- and the cat has never once tried to harm the birds, and the dog would never dream of hurting ANYTHING. But we are very careful in spite of their lovely behaviour amidst one another. So amid a scattering of pasta, shrimp, and toast crumbs, we asked our girls about their day and listened intently to their adventures. Meanwhile, we are refereeing the birds, telling Pharaoh that there is no food falling off the table, and telling Truffles, "Wait until supper is over and someone will pet you." Occasionally we would catch someone doing something funny and we would all look at each other and laugh. Yes, we are always sharing more than meals at the family table here at the zoo!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

We have no control- and we're not SUPPOSED to!

My title probably took you off guard and it was supposed to. Over the years, I have had some real up close and personal experience with control. And the longer I live the more I realize that control is just a mirage- you look and are sure you have it, and when you get closer to it, you realize that it isn't there. Now, I am not talking about control over our tongue or our actions- the Bible clearly states that we are to exhibit control over how we speak and our reactions to various things. I am talking about how we use our sense of control to believe that in some small way, we can contol the big things in our life. I heard a friend say the other day to me, " It's been an insane week, but I finally have everything under control." I couldn't help laughing out loud and saying, "That's a joke!" She gave me the oddest look and I had to explain. "M, I said, control of our life is absolutely never attainable. Yes, we may think that we have our little universe "in order", but then God allows, FOR OUR GOOD something to come along and knock our feet right out from under us, to show us that we have NO CONTROL." She still looked at me like I had four heads. Let me explain. I have, over the years, and through no or little fault of my own, been faced with very difficult physical and emotional situations. All of us can say that to some degree- as humans we all endure emotional and physical burdens that we did not CAUSE. I have had chronic fatigue, depression, a work situation that was almost unbearable, and homeschooled until doctors told me I needed back surgery and put me on medicine that made staying awake difficult. In all those situations, I would have told you at the beginning that I had things "under control"- and I did to a tiny degree. I worked hard at my job, loved my students, loved homeschooling, and was enthusiastic about it. But "having things under control" is a pride issue. And God wants us to know that we have no right to be prideful about things that HE is in control of. So, one day, I couldn't get out of bed and was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was in the bed for 1 and 1/2 years. What could I be proud of then? My ability to put my husband through pharmacy school? No, because it was God's provision in our investments that allowed him to finish school, not my job. When I homeschooled, I was proud of our efforts and made no secret that I thought we were doing well. Back and hip pain soon led to a diagnosis that could have meant back surgery. Instead I had to go to physical therapy three times a week to avoid surgery and put on muscle relaxants that made me unable to teach. So, we prayed and put our kids in public school, and once again God taught me that I had NO CONTROL. Yes, I could control what I taught my kids, and could be in control of praying for them while they were at school, but ultimately, it was up to Him. I could go on and list my individual situtations for you, but I think you get the idea. We are called to be responsible and prayerful, to teach our kids everything we know about Him, and to make sure that we have done those things we know we should. But cancer and death and an adult child who chooses the wrong path are not things we have CONTROL over, and the sooner we learn that, the sooner we can recognize who DOES have control over those things. I think that when we really learn that lesson, we become much more apt to pray and hang on to God's word, because we realize that we need HIS control, not ours. And I thank God that He is the one in control, because I have learned such valuable lessons through all the "out of control" situations in my life- lessons I would have never learned if my carefully mapped out life had gone along as I thought it should. Romans 8:28 says, " And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." And while I wait for this foot to heal much more slowly than I wanted it to, I keep reminding myself of that. And I know that I am learning another lesson while I wait.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Growing old gracefully

I realize that almost everything I write is some kind of comparison between humans and animals or some allegorical connection between God and animals and how that relates to us, but you know what? I have found that God uses my animals to make me much more aware of how to live. REALLY. My oldest dogs, Pharaoh and Ra are prime examples of this. Pharaoh is 11 and Ra is 10. That's pretty old for Italian Greyhounds. Both of these dogs have the most amazing temperaments. Pharaoh is the ultimate Southern gentleman. He is strong, yet soft spoken and his presence is apparent to all without being overbearing. He is forgiving, affectionate, and polite to everyone- all the time. Ra is a different dog and has a completely different personality but has so much dignity as well. Ra is a "pleaser"- he wants everyone to love him and shows his deference to others by licking the other dogs all the time- he grooms the other dogs constantly- and they love this. He is very insecure when Pharaoh is not present and whines and looks for him when they are seperated. He tends to get picked on by the younger dogs, who want to play all the time, and he often comes to me for protection.

Both of these dogs are beginning to experience the symptoms of old age. Pharaoh is going blind and he is overweight (which is MY fault, make no mistake). Ra is having bouts of incontinence and drinking lots of water. Both of these dogs are so AMAZING about these inconveniences and have not lost their amazing dignity. Ra, when he has had an accident overnight in his crate, lets you know by politely stopping before going in his crate and looking at you, as if to say, " I'll go in there, but I would appreciate it if you could change my bedding first." No refusal, no barking, no whining, just a quiet, " Could you help me, please?" Pharaoh spends most of his days sleeping on the couch and when he cannot see where to jump up on the bed (when it's dark, he can't see), gives a quiet bark at our bedside in order to tell us, " I need some help up." We reach over and pick him up and he settles right down. When he doesn't recognize one of the other dogs, he gently moves his nose close to the other dog and sniffs the air until he knows who it is and then ALWAYS wags his tail. When the younger dogs are wanting to play and are being very annoying, he gives them one short growl and that is all that is needed. The younger one goes and finds someone else to bother. WOW, how humbling. I hope that when I am old, blind, incontinent and tired that I can be the model of grace that these two gentlemen are. I hope that I can muster a gentle growl instead of baring my teeth and that I am able to make my requests known without being rude. I pray that I might endure the annoying behavior of younger and more engergetic people without snapping at them. I hope that I will serve as an example to my children for how to endure aging gracefully and gratefully, just like these two beautiful animals.

How we must pester God.........

My daughter's Senegal parrot, Kito is an early riser. Like 5:30 am early. Which isn't normally a problem, because Julianna and I get up early too. The problem is this- he is a BRAT in the morning. He doesn't want to eat, drink, or walk around and destroy things (his favorite pastime). He screams and screams for someone to hold him. But when you hold him, if you don't do exactly what HE wants, he bites. He bites gently and he would NEVER bite Emily- he saves that particular endearing trait for ME- the one who is trying to console him. This morning as he was pestering me to insanity, I thought, " Well, Anne, that's what we do to God, isn't it?"

We can be brats with our constant screaming and demands, just like that little bird. We scream and God comes over and tries to comfort us with His word. But that isn't enough- we want MORE, so we busy ourselves with the word for a while and then start screaming again, and God once again comes down and gives us comfort- perhaps in the form of another believer who encourages us. That satiates us for a while and then we become restless again. If God were not who God is, how impatient He would grow of our griping. As I tried the 7th thing to calm Kito down this morning, I thought, "Ok, buddy, one more peep and you are going in your outside cage on the porch in the DARK!" Thank God noone throws US in the outside cage in the dark- how scary and lonely that would be.

Friday, March 9, 2007

What is a neuroma and how did it get in my foot?

When you have as many animals as we do, there is always someone to feed, a water bowl that needs scrubbing, or someone asking for a game of fetch. I NEVER sit down. I mean, NEVER. I even stand up to fold laundry. So my feet hurt, alot. Well, I assumed it was my shoes that were making my toes numb. I quit wearing the church shoes. Then I quit wearing the "go to Chili's " shoes, then I quit wearing the flat sandals, and then,,,,,,,, I was down to the New Balance tennishoes. So, I did what any busy woman would do. I wore those tennishoes 24/7. Then the numbness turned into pain. So I took Motrin. Then the pain was unbearable, so I diagnosed myself with Mortons' Neuroma and went to the podiatrist. 3 cortisone injections later, it was time for surgery. Morton's Neuroma is basically a non cancerous tumor that grows between your third and fourth toes, making walking, running and standing painful, if not impossible. I told my doctor, "I wanna see that thing after you get it out." "You won't remember, but I'll show you." So we did and he did, and that thing was as big as a man's pinkie finger-WHERE did it fit in my skinny foot? So my wonderful hubby took care of our kids and animals for THIRTEEN days. And no, he did not do a "decent" job- he did an AMAZING job. He cooked, he cleaned, he changed the bedding in the dogs' crates, ( a feat not to be believed) and kept the children quiet while I kept my foot up in the air. It's been three weeks and according to the WEB, I should be running a marathon by now, but alas, my doctor said, " Anne, it was a monster of a tumor, be patient." Look buddy, you don't understand. I've got a zoo to run.

Who's new at the zoo?

At the risk of being reported to AA (that's Animals Anonymous), I am going to tell you who lives at our zoo. No, we do not actually have a zoo- but it does come close to resembling one. Some of my family members don't even know some of this ( I am very good at hiding my addiction.), so please don't report me. We have (all in good health and very loved, by the way),

11 Italian Greyounds and 1 pomeranian corgi mix (they have their own room, don't ask, it's a whole other post)

5 cats
2 parrots
2 parakeets
2 hamsters
some hermit crabs (ok, cut me some slack, I don't know how many, there have been deaths and I didn't keep track)

Oh heck, I just counted and realized we have more than I previously thought and my blog description is off. Oh well, the numbers will change anyway.

Now, I know what you are thinking- 12 dogs??????????? I can't reassure you enough- no, my house is not dirty, no the dogs are not neglected, yes, they all have heartworm medicine once a month and are flea free and very well adjusted. Most of my dogs are better behaved than the average 2 year old, so I can brag. God has gifted me with one of least known gifts in the Bible (ok, so it's not one of the gifts in the Bible, give me some time, I'll find something to justify it), being able to care for animals well. I love caring for these critters and the love and peace they give me is indescribable. The birds are not peace giving at all- they are strictly the kids' and Jon's, make no mistake. I will introduce the members of the family at a later time- I have to close the zoo for the night and the zookeeper needs to get some sleep.

Earthworms are compassionate

My youngest child, Julianna is an animal lover in the most literal sense. She has been known to kiss toads on the lips, rescue lizards from cats, and tell me when one of the dogs looks sad. So it was no surprise when she came in the house recently and said, " Mom, I have a pet worm!" I gave her my normal and supportive animal lover reply. " Jules, that's great, but make sure his soil is damp enough and you give him something to eat." She then went outside and busied herself with her new pet. I went outside 30 minutes later and found her holding her worm. "Mom, you know, most people would say this isn't true, but earthworms are compassionate." I really really had to keep myself from busting out laughing, because I am the biggest animal lover I know, but c'mon, COMPASSIONATE?????????? I smiled (instead of laughing) and said, " Really, Jules? Why?" "Well, they feel what you feel, like if you're hyper, they get all freaked out in your hand, but if you are calm, they are calm." And as she sat there, utterly satisfied with her earthworm, I thought, "Wow, God, you can teach us all something every day, even if it's through a compassionate earthworm." And I was grateful for the lesson.