All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?
Ecclesiastes 3:20-22 NIV
Good Morning and Happy Friday. I haven’t posted as much lately, but I did attempt to post yesterday. Unfortunately, my post was not published and appears to be lost. So, today I will enjoy the opportunity to reshare yesterday’s post with the inclusion of some additional blessings. Maybe, it was a sign from God that I needed to wait.
We have been very busy this week with work and family. I once heard Joel Osteen say that we are the most productive when we have balance in our lives. I can honestly say that I need to make balance a priority today.
Tuesday our church celebrated Shrove Tuesday, or as many people call it, Fat Tuesday. Our tradition is for the children to sell tickets for a pancake supper, which the youth are involved in preparing and serving. All the money raised goes to the youth program. Our guest was my daddy. We also met my husband’s parents at church. Church fellowship is good for the soul. If you are feeling down and out, make yourself go, and enjoy the opportunity to spend time with others, who also love the Lord. I have come to think of the church congregation as my family.
Ash Wednesday follows Shrove Tuesday. It is the first day of Lent and is a time for prayer, penitence, time with God, fasting, and thoughtful preparation for Easter. Many people give up something they enjoy during Lent. I often hear chocolate or meat. I’m laughing at the thought of giving up chocolate this year with Ash Wednesday falling on Valentine’s Day. I like to give up something (i.e. clutter, gossip, or possibly a food) and add something (i.e. a special prayer book, extra time with God, etc.). It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being mindful.
On Ash Wednesday our church has a special service that includes “the imposition of the ashes.” It is one of my favorite services. The ashes are the burned down palm branches from Palm Sunday of the previous year. The minister makes the mark of the cross on each participant’s forehead and reminds us that we have come from ashes and to ashes we will return. Before we leave the building, we wipe the ashes off because it is not for public display. It’s a wonderful service, but this year the service was held at noon and I was unable to attend because of a work obligation. I did notice that there were many cars at the church. This is one of my favorite services because it make me mindful that none of us are promised tomorrow.
God didn’t forget me. I received a call about 3:00 from my husband on Wednesday afternoon. My sweet little dog Freckles died. I have had many pets over the years, and all of them were special. I am especially thankful to have had Freckles in my life. Before Freckles I had a black Shih Tzu, Long Hei who had gone missing within seconds. When my husband opened the door to let him out, my daughter showed him a bracelet she had made. It couldn’t have taken more than 60 seconds. Then, Long Hei was gone. That was close to 20 years ago, and I still look for him today. I often think of how hard it must be for parents whose children go missing.
So, we purchased Freckles, this cute little Shih Tzu puppy, a short time later. I sometimes talk in my sleep. Whenever my grandmother died, my husband relayed a funny story. He said I asked him where “Freckle Man” was. He questioned me again and I said “you know that cute little black and white boy.” From that day on Freckles was called “”Freckle man”, “Freckman”, “Freckle boy” and Freckles. Freckles was the cutest puppy. He played and jumped through the yard like a cartoon character. He was easy to train and the best snuggler I’ve ever known. He even got mad with me when I didn’t snuggle with him. He loved to go bye-bye and never ran away.
When he was about four years old, my daughter called me at work and said something was wrong with Freckles. I have to admit that I was aggravated and didn’t believe anything was wrong with him. I was wrong. I took Freckles to our local vet, Dr. Kelly, who I am so thankful to have in my life. After Freckles had gone through 8-9 surgeries for what Dr. Kelly diagnosed as Portal Shunt Disorder, Dr. Kelly was able to obtain an appointment at Auburn University for Freckles.
We knew in advance that the surgery would cost us several thousand dollars and a large portion had to be paid upfront. Dr. Kelly had told me he understood if I wanted to put Freckles down. I had people coming up to me saying, “just put him down and buy another puppy.” I remember talking to my husband and him suggesting that the decision might be a test of my character. Even though I knew there was a possibility that I might pay the money and Freckles might not make it, it wasn’t a difficult test for me. I borrowed from my retirement to take care of Freckles.
So, I set out alone with my puppy to Auburn, which was several hours away. Freckles had never traveled a long distance before, but he was a great traveler. He had never been taken out on a leash, but he was great at that too. God was with me on this journey. I got lost and one of the students at Auburn called me and talked me through the directions on how to get to the University Veterinarian Hospital. As if that wasn’t enough, a student met me at the door and helped me and my puppy into the hospital. Freckles underwent several tests and we made a couple of visits before the specialist found the problem. Dr. Kelly was right. Before it was over, I left my puppy for a surgery that could cause the end of his life. Freckles would have to stay for two weeks of observation after the surgery, should everything go well. He had never been left for two weeks anywhere. I tearfully said goodbye to Freckles and paid the very large bill before heading home.
On the day of the surgery, I sat by the phone at work waiting eagerly for good news. I prayed that God would take care of my puppy. By the middle of the afternoon I received a call from one of the students. The surgery was successful. Every day a student would call me and give me an update on Freckles. I never attended Auburn University, but I highly recommend them for pets. One day a student called with the funniest statement. He said “you didn’t tell me Freckles was a cage jumper.” Of course, we didn’t know because he had never been in a cage. So, now Freckles was also known as the “cage jumper.”
I was so glad to bring my little cage jumper home and life was mostly normal after that. Freckles did have to stay on a low protein diet, which is hard to manage with a dog. For a while we had our own dog treat business, where we sold healthy dog treats. Freckles was at the center of this activity. I’m very thankful for Dr. Kelly and the students and doctors at Auburn University. They were able to extend Freckles life by about 12 years.
Over time Freckles slowed down. He became the drill sergeant of the house, keeping all of us in order. Last year Freckles began having seizures that increased over time. Most of his teeth fell out and his cataracts preventing him from seeing well. He was still the best cuddler right until the end. During the last couple of weeks Freckles health declined even more. He seemed to be in a great deal of pain. About a week ago, I tearfully asked God to not let my Freckle Boy suffer. Ash Wednesday he died peacefully in his sleep. My heart is a little bigger because of a little dog. Today, my house is empty and my heart also has an empty spot. No one is promised tomorrow. Be sure to tell everyone you love them and make every moment count.
Life goes on and as I pause to think of that little cage jumper throughout the day. God knows our hearts and the weight that is on our shoulders. I have been overwhelmed at work. Long stressful hours fill my days. This morning I came to work to find some of God’s blessings waiting to help. A local church had sent me some helpers to “pay it backwards.” Wow! How blessed could I be! Life is like that. Just at what seems like the lowest moment, something amazing happens. God knows what I need before I even ask.
Take time to spread the love to everyone you see today. God bless you.