Monthly Archives: January 2014

Right Now: my reflections, obsessions & thankful’s in this moment.

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1) I’m currently reading, watching & listening to…
-Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I’ve read this novel dozens of times, but I’ve never read it from my 1895 early addition copy. There’s something amazing about holding a copy of a 100+year old book & thinking about all those that have read & held this novel before me.

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-The Butler. It usually takes me days to watch a movie, can’t sit still long enough to watch a full movie. This one I was captivated by & watched all 2+hrs from start to finish. And I watched it the next night as well. Based on a true story of Cecil Gaines, a White House Butler for over 30 years & spans through many Presidencies.

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-I Will Run to You by Hillsong. Sang this song for the first time in church a few weeks ago & I’ve been in love with the lyrics ever since! http://youtu.be/RZGqKqciv8E

2) I’m worried about…money! Isn’t everyone always worried about that???

3) I’m improving myself by…Sewing! My Grandma gave me her sewing machine & I’ve become obsessed. My first attempt was a success (just don’t look to close at the stitching job!). Bandana chair covers for my kitchen table.

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4) I’m excited about…my first solo sermon is this Sunday night. I’ve changed it 4x’s & was supposed to preach last week, but due to the weather class was cancelled. I was very glad because it gave me a chance to completely re-do it again & I loooooove the new approach. And my parents will be there to hear me, woot!

5) I’m grateful to God for…so much this month! Above all for friends & family that helped me through some car problems when I didn’t know what I was going to do!
I’m asking God for forgiveness because…I threw a temper tantrum & doubted He would come through! Which He did!

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And yet another example of why people should never attempt at turning an exotic animal into a “pet”…

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The good thing about having a blog is I can voice my opinion in a controlled environment in an attempt at a well-thought out debatable essay, especially when the topic is controversial & most people like the sound of their own spouting rather than say something worthy & substantial. Which is why I urge everyone to start a blog, it’s much cheaper than therapy & you reduce the number of people you want to shake & say, “really???” Everyone has an opinion, however, not everyone’s opinion is informative. Most are emotional & not factually based.

Recently in my hometown a spider monkey was euthanized after biting a human, without getting into specifics (you can look it up on Fox 8 Cleveland’s website) the outrage is getting a little ridiculous & in my opinion, the anger is severely displaced. I have worked in the animal industry for 12 years professionally & have earned several degrees over the course of that time all animal related (with the exception of a Business degree thrown in). While I by no means claim to be an expert, in fact, I’m humbled & excited by how much I have yet to learn, I do have a little more experience with the industry than most people voicing an emotional opinion. I have worked with horses, livestock, reptiles, domesticated, avian, wildlife, aquatics, pocket pets, & exotics. I have personally worked with spider monkeys both in a zoo facility & an exotic animal rehabilitation center, not to mention the rotation I did during college where I worked in the vet department of an animal testing facility that tested on Spider & Capuchin Monkey’s (don’t get me started on that!) When I say that these animals are NOT meant to be pets, that’s not an exaggeration.

I’m not here to bash the owner or all the supporters of the owner, their actions (or lack thereof) speak for themselves. It was an unfortunate situation with heartbreaking results & I’m sure after the emotion has died down, the owner(s) will realize the role they played in this situation & I’m trusting will not make the same decisions again. Whether it’s a domesticated animal or an exotic animal, when you choose to bring one into your home you have a responsibility to that animal to keep it safe. That includes obeying all laws, following all regulations & being knowledgeable about the animal that trusts you.

As I’m sure most of you amazing readers know, several years ago a guy let loose dozens of exotic animals onto the streets of Zanesville, Ohio. After that incident people were OUTRAGED over the destruction & mass killing of several of these animals…all senselessly. There is always good that can come from every situation and Ohio started adapting stricter exotic animal laws to more safely regulate what people can own & the standards by which they have to house these animals. Ohio went from being the worst (no exaggeration) state to being one of the most regulated. Ohio even created a whole department within the Department of Agriculture to regulate, monitor & fine private & public organizations and owners who have chosen to own exotic animals. While it has been costly for owners & organizations it also has cut down on people owning exotic animals & regulates how many animals a rescue can financially support. I know it may seem like another Government interference but (to me) it’s common sense to monitor this trend that is way out of control & long overdue.

People should not own exotic animals to keep as pets, ever! And you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone that works in the animal field to disagree. God created all things for a very specific purpose & when people try to change that purpose, senseless things like the recent Spider Monkey euthanasia happen. Love plays a big part on why people decide to incorporate an exotic animal into their home; they “love” a certain animal species, so naturally they want to own it. This doesn’t make sense to me. You “love” something, so you decide to keep it from living out its God designed purpose? Not to mention it’s a selfish way to think. Because YOU decide that YOU want to own an exotic animal YOU get one. You’re putting your needs before the welfare of the animal. The very essence & definition of love is putting somebody else’s needs above your own. The very animal that you decide to own can teach you that lesson by observing it in a natural environment; a mama bear will always protect her cubs before thinking about her safety.

My best-bud & greatest workout personal trainer I’ve ever had is my dog, Waylon, an Australian Cattle Dog. This dog loooooooves to be outdoors & is the epitome of energy! And I adore him for that. But Australian Cattle Dogs are designed to do exactly what their name implies. They herd cattle. This is their purpose in life, their instinct. What God has created them to do. I’m responsible for stealing his joy, on a daily basis, because I don’t fulfill that need in my dog. Is my dog happy…absolutely. Is he well taken care of…you’ve never met a dog more spoiled. But the level of happiness Waylon would achieve if getting that need met daily is nothing that I can provide him right now. He gets spurts of that activity; many chances to “herd” horses around the farm, squirrels & chipmunks are a daily roundup, he even “herds” me when we’re out on our daily walks/runs. As his owner, someone who he puts his trust in, it is my responsibility to make sure that instinct is met…and I fail at this, I’m 100% to blame & it is a selfish act on my part because I wanted this rescue dog. Just like other fellow dog owners who fail at this if they don’t provide the same opportunity with their dogs & their instinctual purposes. The difference is, these are “domesticated” animals. Through years of evolving, dogs are no longer wild & now know their place within the hierarchy of a human family unit. Exotic animals will never be domesticated, it’s a scientific fact. And even if some mutant gene forms & they do become domesticated, it will never be in our generation or in our great-great-great-gazillion great grandkid’s generation. When humans interfere too much with changing Mother Nature, we do more harm than good. She’s been around a lot longer than we have & is a hell of a lot smarter than we are. Believe it or not but humans are not entitled to own everything on this planet just because we “want” it, there are some things that don’t belong to us. Every time you support a company that does research using animals by purchasing their products, every time you buy an animal from a breeder instead of adopting or not spaying/neutering your pet, every time you pay money to watch animals being put on display (circus’s, rodeo’s) you are selfishly contributing to the destruction of mother nature. I’m guilty of this as well, it will forever be a lifetime of choices that you have to make. Not one person can save the world, but everybody can do their small contribution & that does add up.

I’m very passionate about animal rights, especially on rescue/rehabilitation work (not buying from breeders, spaying/neutering, etc.) & exotic animal rights. When you work in the industry you see the effects that human’s selfishness & stupidity can cause. If I was friends with myself, I would be annoyed with myself when I get on a soapbox about it. I know that I can nag about this topic, but it’s because it’s so important. Think about something you’re passionate about, something you’re willing to fight for…can you really nag it enough? I would rather beat this topic to death than know it’s going on & remain silent. Many times I’ve prayed to not know some of the things that I know & to not have seen some of things I’ve witnessed because the weight of the problem can seem overwhelming, especially when people don’t seem to care or heed your advice. But in those moments I’m reminded of the animals I’ve seen emaciated, beaten, left to freeze to death on frozen ground, of the animals I’ve personally had to put to death because people have chosen to buy from a breeder and/or not spay & neuter. The exotic animals behind cages who were meant to roam freely, the lab animals injected with cancer-causing agents so humans can get the right scent of body wash & the poaching of game who were unfortunate enough to be born with a much desired delicacy. If people are made aware of the problems, they cannot claim ignorance. Whether or not they choose to do something about their contribution to the problem is up to them & therefore the responsibility of that decision, good or bad, also falls on them. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
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Book Report: “WoodSong” by Gary Paulsen

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I love, love, LOVE this book!

I wish I had waited a couple weeks before I wrote the blog on my top 10 favorite, https://chapstickchatter.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/my-top-10-favorite-books-of-all-time/,because this memoir would’ve been on it! No idea how or when this quick read ended up in my bookcase, but I’m disappointed that I took so long to pick it up to read!

Not a big book, less than 150 pages, & I knocked it out in a couple hours on a snowed-in afternoon. WoodSong is one page-turning adventure! It’s the true life, hard-to-believe-it’s-actually-nonfiction memoirs of author Gary Paulsen (Hatchetf, Dogsong, The Winter Room, etc) & his life running a sled-dog team, training for the Iditarod.

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The first half of the book tells how the author first got interested in dog sledding; the trials, hit & misses, ignorance, mistakes that he made as his passion grew. This is one of the best novels I’ve ever read on wildlife conservation & the relationships between pets & their owners. The author wrote with such honesty & rawness over his own misunderstanding at nature & her unforgiving spirit. He also is openly candid at admitting his many failures, mistakes & ignorance at owning a team of intelligent, high-strung working dogs. The regret with which he wrote about at “ruining” some of these dogs over his lack of knowledge is something that, those of us who work & have worked in the animal industry, have seen first hand way to many times.

I was not bored or lost interest on any page of this novel. I laughed outloud in several parts describing his mistakes & how the dogs corrected him, I bawled over the words he wrote on the death of his favorite sled dog, Storm & I found myself saying,”sooooo true” in agreement with him over the ways in which man destroys wildlife & nature.

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The second half of the novel was about his weeks running the Iditarod dog sled race held annually in Alaska. A grueling 1150mile course through unforgiving mountains, backcountry wilderness & heavy waterways. Mushers & dogs work as a team to finish in less than two weeks time. It was fascinating to read behind the scenes on what really happens, the non-televised versions; deaths, hallucinations, sleep & hunger depravity, injuries, & basic survival instincts kicking in for both man & animal. I read with captivity. Truly is a testimony on what the body goes through when pushed to the brink of competition, with others & yourself.

If you’re a nature-freak, survivalist, animal lover, dog obsessed, conservationist or adventure seeker you’ll love this book! It’s a super fast, easy read full of honest & raw, non-exaggerated writing. The author is a natural teacher who simplifies his passion for readers & conveys his love for wildlife & environmental conservation, as well as, animal rights.

If I could rate this higher than 5 stars On Goodreads I would!
*WoodSong book trailor* http://youtu.be/xgIIs5peyLI

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God doesn’t need us to defend Him, only to represent Him.

I’m going to try to present my thoughts clear in this blog, not jumbled like they’ve been in my head the last few days.
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Recently I read a post on Facebook (isn’t Facebook always a tool that can get us fired up?) where I had to force myself not to get drawn into a heated discussion on God & how He chooses to distribute His blessings. Everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinions on everything & anything, however, one does need to decide if a battle is worth pursuing. For me, this battle was not. What bothered me, even more than the initial post that was made, was a response that another person, a fellow Christian, had. As a Christian, you have a responsibility to represent God well & that does not include belittling someone for their lack of faith or knowledge of His ways & Word. It’s that belittling of non-Christians that make so many people say Christians are “hypocritical”. And in my personal experience, the majority of people who have issues with faith & God are more knowledgeable about the Bible on a scholarly level than those that grew up in church. Accepting Christ as your Savior doesn’t automatically give you permission to start shouting Fire & Brimstone at every person you meet just for the sake of starting an argument to make others feel inferior. Trust me, that’s not how God wants you to represent Him or His kingdom.

Anyone can quote scripture. Take a look around at all the people who have never even set foot inside a church but suddenly turn to the Bible to find a new tattoo idea. It’s the understanding of a Bible scripture that you should strive towards & that will be a lifelong journey because a Bible verse can change its meaning for you depending on what situation you need it in. Are there contradictions in the Bible, yes…absolutely. But learn the history of that time, learn that most contradictions are Old Testament/New Testament & before you start debating the contradictions or shutting people down learn the “why’s”. If you’re a Christian, study it. If you’re not, study it. What you’ll find is that everything is intertwined & truly does line up. Knowing one scripture doesn’t mean jack, but knowing the “meaning” behind it does. Spend time in church, talk to Pastors, join Bible Studies, and get in the Word. Before you take a stand for or against faith, learn from people who know a lot more about it than you do. If you take that mentality, you will find that you do a lot more listening than spouting off of the mouth.

God doesn’t need us to defend Him, only to represent Him.

God is the ultimate UFC fighter & can defend himself a lot better than we’ll ever be able too! You do not defend Him by making yourself seem superior. There’s a lot of debate on, ”The Bible says this…the Bible says that…” and I’m guilty of this, as well. But you can’t hide behind the Bible when it suits your agenda & then ignore the parts that you yourself don’t want to change. It doesn’t work like that. And I’m forewarning you that this will always be a struggle. To say you’re against homosexuality because, “the Bible says its wrong” but overlook the parts on pre-marital sex, jealousy, or having an adulterous affair because it cuts out on the fun you’re having well frankly that doesn’t make sense to me. To say having an abortion is wrong because, “the Bible says it’s wrong”, but then lie to your boss the next day that you’re “sick” when really you want to stay home & veg out on the couch…that’s equally as wrong. Sorry, but you don’t get to pick & choose. It’s easy to point fingers at someone & condemn their actions when you’re not directly involved. Do you realize that sin is sin in the eyes of God. When you stand on your Judgment Day you will be held to the same standard that Hitler was for that teensy-weensy little lie that you told when you decided to break a date.

How about that perspective? How about feeling superior now?

It’s not meant to scare you. It’s not meant to make you feel bad about decisions you’ve made, but it is to make you realize that you’re no better (or worse) than anybody else. When you represent God that means you LOVE others whether or not you agree with their decisions, actions, or choices. You don’t treat people cruelly because they think differently than you do. You don’t lower yourself to name-calling tactics. We don’t always have to agree on everything, but we do always have to respect each other’s opinions. And we don’t shut people out or close off their comments just because it goes against what we believe to be right (or wrong). Do you think for a second that God agrees with everything that we choose to do? How many messes have you found yourself in because you went against what you knew God wanted you to do? Does God love us or forgive us any less because we expressed our own free-will?

Thank goodness that He doesn’t!

There isn’t one person on this planet who is absolutely without sin or perfect (despite what you may think). In the history of time there was only one person who WAS absolutely perfect & without sin, you know who that is & you also know what He went through because of it. The Bible, the same one that you believe to be the living Word of God, is filled with people that messed up big time. But God still used them for his greater good, so how can you count or dismiss somebody’s thoughts because their different than your own. You may be the only example of God in somebody’s life, so represent Him well.

Whether or not God exists, whether His Word is the living love-letter from Him to us is always going to be a topic of debate. I know what I believe just the same as you know what you believe. Each one of us can get frustrated because the other person doesn’t “see” what we “see”, but I will leave you with this: one day each of us will die. It could be in 60years or it could be before you even finish reading this blog. I would rather live my life every day, believing in God & following his Word as closely as I can only to find out that He never existed. I know I still lived a good, clean life. Not perfect, not without blemish but by having that faith kept me from a damaged conscious because I believed in forgiveness for mistakes & took steps to correct sinful behavior. I’d much rather follow that belief than to live my whole life thinking that God doesn’t exist only to find out that He does & I had been wrong. God fights for you up until your very last breath & just because you’re a “good person” doesn’t mean you get a free pass into heaven, any more than then being a “Christian” does. I don’t like it any more than you do. I know plenty of people I’d consider to be a “good person”, but I don’t get to decide that.

If you’re a Christian, represent Him well. You’re not perfect, so don’t put the pressure on yourself that you have to be. We all lose our cool. We all sin. We all say & do things that we regret. It’s the behavior that you choose after the regret that will leave others will the biggest impression of Christ.

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Book Report: Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

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Jodi Picoult is a favorite author, but the last few novels read have left me disappointed. Found Handle with Care at a Volunteers of America thrift store for .25 and after sitting on my bookshelf for several months I decided to see if (one of) my favorite authors could redeem herself.

The novel centers around the O’Keefe family & their life living with a child that has Osteogenesis Imperfecta; a severe disability where you have “brittle bones”.

I had never heard of OI before & I thought the author did an amazing job of explaining the disability. The information describing the disease & characteristics attributed with it was very thought out & organized. I can’t imagine being a person living with OI or being the parent of one; having to worry about a bone breaking because you sneezed or a pinky-toe break turning into a life threatening situation. Not to exclude the financial & emotional stress that occurs with the constant worry & anxiety.

The novel is reminiscent of another Picoult novel,My Sister’s Keeper, where the reader is forced to ask them self,”What would I do?” when faced with a morality issue. In this case the moral issue is a Wrongful Birth case filed. Wrongful Birth, at least the definition I drew from the novel, means had you been given information about a disability your unborn child had, you would’ve terminated the pregnancy. In the case of Handle with Care the doctor getting sued also happens to be the main character & mother’s best friend.

The novel’s chapters are each narrated by a different main character & told from their individual viewpoint:
▪️Charlotte: mother. She’s the one that handles the day-to-day pressure & struggle of raising a child with OI. When presented the option of filing a Wrongful Birth suit she decides to follow through. Her reason for it is that by telling a lie, admitting she would have terminated the pregnancy, will ensure that her now 5 year old daughter will financially be comfortable for the rest of her life.

▪️Sean: father/Charlotte’s husband. Only working parent & struggles with barely making financial ends meet on his law enforcement wage. Highly against filing the lawsuit & eventually becomes a witness for the defense.

▪️Amelia: Charlotte’s teenage daughter from first marriage. Feels like an outcast, despite having a great relationship with her step-father Sean. Estranged towards her mother & is very resentful towards her and the attention she bestows on younger sister. Develops bulemia as stresses at home increase and eventually starts cutting herself.

▪️Piper: Obstetrician & Charlotte’s best friend. She gets sued by Charlotte in a Wrongful Birth case.

▪️Marin: Charlotte’s lawyer. Takes on the case even though she struggles with the morality of the situation. During the course of the lawsuit she’s in the midst of her own search for her birth mother. Oftentimes, the two get intertwined.

▪️Willow: 5year old that has OI. Even though the whole novel is about her, she only narrated the last closing chapter.

My favorite characters in the novel were Amelia & Piper. Amelia my heart just broke for, she was screaming for attention & nobody seemed to notice. Piper just got the raw end of the deal. Such a good foundational character & I felt the author kept her integrity intact throughout the whole novel. My least favorite character was Charlotte; which I think is the author’s point, you develop a love/hate relationship with her because she tugs at your morality. You can see where her dilemma lies; her lying, selfishness & stubbornness but in the end it really is to benefit the life of her disabled child. When I first started reading the novel I thought,”there’s no way I could file a lawsuit like that” but as the novel progressed & the trial got deeper I found myself seeing her point. She lost a lot during the course of the novel & you can’t help but admire her mama-bear mentality. I also really liked that the author had her ganged up on in particular situations; the media protests, the parents of other OI children who called her out on her lying. They said the things that I, the reader, was thinking.

I HATED the ending! For me it almost ruined the whole novel. And from other reviews I’ve read on Goodreads, (https://www.goodreads.com)
that thought seems pretty universal. It all seemed so…pointless. Usually I can see/understand why an author ended a novel the way they did, but in this case I couldn’t. So much loss, devastation & ruined relationships for nothing! Would’ve been a better ending if the author created something positive out of the trial instead of more loss.

All in all, I would recommend reading Handle with Care. In fact, I’m currently finishing up this review so I can pass on my copy of the novel to my aunt for reading. Not my favorite Picoult novel (may have been if not for the ending) but it has redeemed her novels for me & showed me why I like reading her books in the first place.

*Handle with Care book trailer*
http://youtu.be/U3ZZez7qFc8

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