Tag Archives: animal rescue

“Lord, I don’t trust you…”; retirements, cancer & Psalm 27:14

Last weekend our family celebrated my Dad’s work retirement. zippo Words cannot explain how prideful I felt celebrating that accomplishment with people that came out to honor my dad’s years of hard work. He has always been a great example of many things to us kids, but to show us first-hand what it means to work hard & provide for others is a lesson that I’ve only grown to appreciate as I’ve got older.

I’ve touched briefly on my dad’s cancer in previous blogs. Close friends & family know of his progress & I’m blessed to have so many that pray for us & keep positive vibes afloat as we journey through this tough stage as a family. That made the retirement party even more special as none of us know what the future holds for him, or for that matter, any of us.

Several months ago I decided to do an in-depth self-study on the book of Psalm; containing 150 chapters & (around) 2500 verses, I knew this was going to be quite the undertaking. I gave myself through the summer to complete, but that has now been extended through the winter since the supplemental reading & note-taking is just as time consuming. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, because I secretly am a know-it-all (okay, maybe not so secretly) & “learning” means a new batch of knowledge wrinkles in my brain.

While I pretty much picked Psalms because so many verses contained are dear to my heart, what I’m finding to be the overlaying theme is “trust”….trust.

Trust…

Wow! If ever a time in my life I needed to lean on trust it’s now.

There are moments when I think I’m doing okay about my Dad’s diagnosis & then there are moments when I’m out on a hiking trail & I’m so overcome with emotion thinking about it that I literally sit down in the middle of the woods & bawl my eyes out. It’s in those moments that my faith is the weakest & most tested. Gratitude for a God who has sent me a one-eyed dog that understands my breakdown & will sit down next to me with his head on my lap until the tears start to dry up.

Twice within the last several weeks I’ve had two different people, on two different occasions mention the word “dying” when asking about my dad. Needless to say my response wasn’t the classiest (“He’s fine. And mind your own *blankety-blank-blank -business*”…okay, maybe my response wasn’t that bad, but that’s what I was saying in my head). “Dying”, what a harsh ugly word. And not a word I want spoken in the same sentence as my Dad’s name. But as he just finished yet another several months round of chemo treatments & has begun the next series of testing to see if the cancer has spread or tumors enlarged, these “dying” comments keep popping back into my head & the possible reality hits me full on.

Trust…

Before I begin my nightly (okay…”nightly” is a stretch) Bible-Study I do prayer devotionals, my hope is that I will find answers to whatever is on my mind at that moment. Sometimes it works out that way…sometimes it doesn’t. On this particular night, it was answered. With my dad’s bible versehealth on my mind I opened up my section of Psalms to read & was surprised to find, not only this verse, but also to discover that 3yrs. ago on that exact date, I had also been led to that same verse. During that time our family was grieving over the unexpected loss of a beloved uncle only a few short weeks prior & in the midst of making serious decisions over my Grandma’s own struggle with cancer.

“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”-Psalm 27:14-

Both of those situations ended painfully & the loss of hope I felt deflated me like a balloon.

When you feel you’re at the end of your rope, sometimes all you can do is hold on. The theme of Psalms kept repeating in my head,”trust…trust…trust”. For the first time in my life, I actually admitted out loud to God that I didn’t trust him.

“Lord, I don’t trust you. Help me believe that your ways are best.”

When you’re in a strong “relationship” with someone you can freely admit, with raw honesty, that you’re confused, hurt, angered…distrustful. And you know in your heart that it doesn’t change the dynamic of the relationship, you’re still loved & not abandoned. That was what I felt by the admission & a flood of relief overcame me.

I’m reminded of the unbelieving father in the book of Mark. He had watched his son struggle with inner-demons his whole life & the reality looked grim. As a final resort, he brought him before Jesus to be healed.

“If you can?” said Jesus. ”Everything is possible for one who believes.” The child’s father cried out at once,” I believe! Help my lack of faith”

– Mark 9:23-24-

It’s okay to have unbelief. It’s okay to be distrustful. You can be a follower of Christ & still be uncertain that your prayers will come true, but in those moments it’s important to pray that your unbelief be healed. Just be honest, He already knows what you’re feeling anyways, why not just admit it??? Allow God to open the door of unbelief so that what’s behind it can be reached.

“Sometimes you just have to smile in faith…”-Joel Osteen-

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I want feet like a deer, reflections from Pslam 18:33

If you read my blog from a couple weeks ago (and I KNOW all you fine readers have, right? but in case you missed it: Ready for a slow down, reflections from Psalm 90) then you’re already aware that I’ve been doing a self-study in the book of Psalm. A book that I’m falling in love with because it’s so musically written & “flowy” (is “flowy” a word??? Who knows? but I dig it!). While studying chapter 18 this scripture leapt out at me…

“He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places”

-Psalm 18:33-(NKJV)

**By the way** Don’t cha’ totally love my word play??? leapt/deer…get it??? Smooth!

Anyways, (refocus) If I have read this scripture before, I’ve never noticed it. It’s pretty unassuming, but to an animal-studied-nerd, like myself, wow…this is a good one!

Deer feet. No doubt you don’t have to be in student loan debt to realize that, yeah, deer feet are important to deer. But do you know that, hands down, hooves are the MOST IMPORTANT part of deer anatomy??? untitled

Deer are flight animals, meaning they run from perceived danger, they’re lovers not fighters. Those skinny little toothpick legs carry a few hundred pounds gracefully at 40mph; they can leap about 8 feet high & the hooves are designed in such a way that they take the brunt of all that force. Pretty impressive, huh??

Without getting too technical & for the sake of this blog illustration, let’s break the hoof down into two simple parts; we’ll call it the “outer” & the “bottom” (creative, thank you very much). Most people know that deer are cloven hooved animals, meaning they have two toes, not one single toe-like a horse. God in his infinite wisdom designed them that way knowing the wide variety of terrain they’d be covering. That design allows them to cover everything from swimming in deep water, to scaling a mountain. The hard outer wall of the hoof is made of keratin (the same stuff as your fingernails) this helps them claw, paw, dig & fight; bottom part is a soft, spongy material that helps them grip slippery surfaces. Pretty cool that when you see a herd of deer running & leaping, they really don’t know what’s on the other side of those leaps, but rarely do they slip & fall. Flight animals cannot survive without their legs, the hoof is the first line of defense to protecting the legs & in turn, the entire being.

I’m in awe of the responsibility that hooves have.

“He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places” -Psalm 18:33-

This chapter in Psalm was written by David wrote after the Lord delivered him from his enemies & Saul (who was out for blood!). David was in a tough spot, he had no idea how he was going to get out of the mess he found himself in. He prayed with a ferocity & the Lord saved him, not in a way he was expecting, for the Lord didn’t rescue him from the mess but equipped him with strength & abilities David didn’t know he had…and he conquered & gave the glory back to God. The NET version goes,”He gives me the agility of a deer; he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain”. You may not think you’re equipped to negotiate the rugged terrain in your life & it may look impossible, but the Lord has equipped you to be a conqueror.

So next time you feel overwhelmed, look at your feet & see yourself has having the feet of deer!

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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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Lessons Learned: Taking Ownership…

Lessons learned

One of my part-time jobs (yes, I work a couple!) is working at a horse rescue. Even though my employment “status” falls under the veterinary department, as anybody involved in rescue work knows; you usually end up wearing a multitude of hats. More often than not I’ve found myself doing less vaccine administration & more stall-mucking (fortunately a part of me loves that hard-labor work). Within the last few months, the founder asked if I’d be interested in learning how the adoption-process works; going through the application & interviewing process, matching up potentials with the right “fit”, home visits & conducting background & financial checks on potentials. At first I was hesitant…this is supposed to be my “fun” job, even though I’d still be working directly with the horses & getting my hands dirty, a few hours of office work would now be added to my plate. Blah! But since my ultimate life-goal is to run my own animal rescue/adoption group one day (my big God-dream) with little thought I seized the opportunity knowing this is something I need to learn & will only benefit me in the long run.

For several weeks I’d been working with this girl (she’s given me permission to blog her story), around my age, divorced, no kids…a horse girl at heart. For several years of her marriage she had lived in the city & had gotten away from her country roots. Upon her divorce, she moved out to the country, got a dog, & was now looking to add a horse to her little family. Several emails back & forth, a few meet & greets and (finally) we found a Quarter Horse mare that was a nice fit Buckles1for her (and on a personal level, this was a horse that was dear to my heart & I was waiting until just the right person came along!) I was stoked, she was stoked & in my heart I felt good. Everything seemed to be falling into place. Because of the cost to do background & financial checks, we don’t do them until the very last step (otherwise we’d be doing them on everybody & that cost adds up fast!) when we know this is a serious potential & that’s the last hurdle to overcome. This girl did not pass the financial check. I was heartbroken (literally, I cried) I felt so BAD for her knowing how much she needed this specific horse for her own healing from a painful divorce. I fought & fought on her behalf to our head Adoption Coordinator & in the end she told me,”Carey, its our policy. It’s not meant to be for either of them. This position requires you to be a voice for the voiceless.” I rolled my eyes at her (stupidest thing I’d ever heard!) & said, “F**k the policy” & walked out of the office (classy!) to call this girl with the news that it wasn’t going to happen this time. She was upset, but said,”I can’t blame anyone but myself. My finances are not in order & I’m going to have to learn that nobody is going to change that but me.”

I thought about these words on my drive home (and it’s a long drive!)

I really respect that answer. So often people blame others for their mistakes (myself included). When I’ve failed at something, I do find myself blaming this reason or that & more often than not, its because I wasn’t prepared. When my bank account is wavering on the verge of non-existent, I can look down & see the new shoes I bought because I “had to” have them in that moment. When I step on the scale & realize how much weight I’ve gained I blame my past, how I was raised, my genes…everything but the boxes of Girl Scout cookies I inhaled for every meal for 2 weeks straight. This is an area I struggle with, its hard to look in the mirror & take responsibility for your actions…all of them!

You’re in the situation you’re in because of decisions that (A) you’ve either made or (B) your response to situation’s you had no control over.

Every single decision that you will ever make has either a good consequence or a bad consequence….but take ownership of it, either way.

I wish I could tell you exactly how to do this, I don’t know. It’s something that I will have to work through, as well. Over the last few years, there’s been things brought up in my personal life that I’ve had to deal with & I’ve learned how its affected behavior that I didn’t even realize it affected. The point is, I can’t use it as an excuse anymore…taking ownership.

Today, was a good lesson.

 

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My issue with dog breeders & why I lose respect for you choosing to purchase a puppy from one…

Yep, I said it. I tried to find a nicer way of saying it, but in a nut shell that’s how I feel. Bring on the attitudes, debate, arguments, lost Facebook & Twitter followers…I think I can handle it Winking smile

It’s getting into warmer weather & for some reason that makes people think they need to bring a dog into their family. Personally I think it’s a fantastic idea, every home in the world should have at least one dog (or a cat) it’s a proven medical fact the amazing benefits that having an animal in the home can do for ones mental & physical well-being. While working, studying, & being pro-active in the animal industry can leave you a bit jaded (for the most part people are TERRIBLE pet owners) when you’re passionate about animal welfare,rights, rescue & adoption, the decisions that people sometimes make that you’re abhorrently (is that a word or did I just make one up?) against, well, it can leave you more than a bit frustrated. I’m in no way trying to pick on anyone or make them feel guilty, but I’ve talked to several friends/family lately that have chosen to buy from a breeder, even with all the information out there I can only assume its laziness because when you hear their excuses for it, it just makes me roll my eyes.

A couple years ago I wrote a blog about the pet adoption process (you can read it here: https://chapstickchatter.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/some-thoughts-on-pet-adoption/) that was even before I personally went through the process with my own rescued baby. I was a supporter before, but after going through the process I’m in LOVE with animal rescue, there’s something to be said for saving a LIFE because that’s what you’re doing (do you know that even “no-kill” shelters still have a time limit on adoption? “No-kill” doesn’t mean “no-kill”). On average, for every 1 dog purchased through a breeder 100 dogs in shelters are put to sleep (think about that when you’re breeder-researching!). A big excuse I’ve heard is,”well, I’m looking for breed specific”…one quick Google search & you’ll clearly see that HUNDREDS of breed-specific animal rescue groups that are available all over the place (and I’m betting you’ll find one in your area). Did you know that a responsible breeder (and they do exist!) would have to sell his pups for close to a $1000-2000 to cover his expenses (pups shouldn’t leave the bitch until at least 12weeks of age), that’s 3months of feeding, veterinary appointments (the start of vaccine protocol), AKC papers (if being advertised as “registered”) post-pregnancy care for the bitch & if they choose to start basic puppy behavior classes. Keep in mind breeders that say “vaccinated” or “registered” might not always be telling the truth; self-vaccinated animals (vaccines you buy from TSC, Pet Smart, PetCo etc.) are not recognized at almost all veterinary clinics (most are full of saline solution, obviously, you couldn’t have injectables available OTC) & pretty much useless. And it’s so easy to fabricate fake AKC registered “papers”;if somebody says their dog is “registered” unless they have a registration number & its in the AKC database, its not true (this usually costs $100-200 per dog!). They also have to have a direct hereditary line with no discrepancy’s that have all been “registered” through AKC. In my whole professional animal-industry-working life, I’ve only come across 2 “registered” dogs with papers that didn’t turn out to be fake! So by those standards your “registered dog with papers” is most likely a fake & would never be recognized (especially be cautious if you’re looking to show & have spent $2000 dollars on this dog. Do your homework on this breeder!). Trust me, people in the animal industry that listen to you brag about your “registered” dog are really making fun of you in their heads!

Rescuing an animal is simply one of the best things you can do for yourself & that animal. They come up to date on vaccines, are spayed & neutered, have been tested through a certified animal behaviorist, & your adoption coordinator will try their hardest to match you up with an animal that is right for you & your situation. It’s going to be relatively more cost-effective ($100-200..give or take) compared to what you’d dish out the first year, in addition to, what you’ve paid for the puppy up front (if you’re a responsible pet owner, you’re looking at about $1000-$1500 for vaccines, castration, puppy classes etc.). The over-pet population is so out of control with hundreds of thousands dogs & cats being put to sleep every year in this country alone! I don’t mean to throw all “breeders” under the bus (because I have meet some amazing “licensed” breeders who have the schooling behind them, are responsible, & have taken the necessarily legal & moral route to get a breeder license. They do it to preserve a specific breed, having a deep love of the breed…I can respect that) it’s the “backyard breeders” that I have no respect for. The ones who say, “I have a Bulldog, you have a Bulldog. Let’s get them together, have babies & make some money”…sorry folks, I have no use for that thinking.

I think every single person who is contemplating bringing a new dog (or cat) into their home needs to spend a day volunteering at an animal shelter when they do mass euthanasia’s. To walk these animals (or carry) them down the hallway into the eutho-room, place this animal on a table, insert the needle, plunge the solution into the veins, & then place the body into a furnace for mass cremation, oftentimes with the animal licking your face, wanting you to pet his head, scratch his ears, purring away, unbeknownst to him what the reality is…it’ll make you sick how easily avoidable that wasted ending could’ve been.That’s what happens for dozens of animals when you purchase your new pup through a breeder. I have personally been a part of this process for many years & trust me when I tell you, you would have zero to little respect for people that breed & buy from a breeder too.

 How can you turn a blind eye to that & still chose to not do “something” if it’s in your power to change it?

Change it for one animal! Don’t breed or buy from a breeder- adopt! And make sure you spay & neuter your pets! spay&neuter

There’s a shelter animal out there right now praying you do!animalrescue2

*This video is what happens when you don’t spay/neuter, when you buy from a breeder or you choose to breed your pets. You’re part of this problem! Choose to make different decisions & be part of the solution!*

 

 

 

 

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Random Questions: If you could have dinner with 7 famous people, dead or alive, who would they be & where would they sit?

It’s Wednesday, which means its my blog day. After my near-death-almost-met-Jesus-last night experience; thanks to my car brakes bombing out on me while driving home, I needed a “fun” blog to occupy my mind.

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For starters, I’d choose the location to be somewhere chill & relax. For me, the most relaxing place in the world would be a cabin, in the woods, up in the mountains. So, I’m thinking the mountains of the great-West; Montana, Washington State, Utah, Idaho. Outside under the stars (no bugs to bother us, of course), a fire going & a table full of fresh homemade bread, wine, bowls of my Grandma Cooper’s potato soup, lots of fresh vegetables & different kinds of cheesecake for dessert, along with my Grandma Martinez’s pistachio muffins & copious amounts of organic green tea when the discussion goes on until the early morning hours (and it’s a given that everyone is to bring their dogs to lounge around at our feet).  Can you really have a more perfect evening than that? Not to me!

Some of my 7 dinner guests were relatively easy to pick. Others I bounced around on. What I did notice was all my picks were (mostly) scientists or religious figures. Makes sense because those are the two things that I seem to be in battle about. I love the Lord & am a proud follower of Christ, but at times I find the Bible & its teachings so far-fetched that its hard for me to wrap my mind around (God talking thru burning bushes-that don’t burn up, floods that destroy the whole earth, armies that go into battle with just music…c’mon that’s almost like drug-induced, hippy-dreams, right there!).

Regardless, I’m pretty satisfied with my final-7. Although, she’s not “famous” by world-standards, I’d love to add my Great-Grandma Henderson to this list. I’ve never met her, but from the stories that I’ve heard I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t have fallen in love with this lovely lady (country lady to the core!). A few years ago I had a dream about her (my dreams are always vivid, very real, & incredibly wacky) & that dream brought a conversation with her that I still cherish. She loved the Lord, so I know I’ll get to continue that conversation with her again one day. That’s the most comforting thing about God’s promises, its knowing you’ll be reunited with those you lost during your time on Earth & those that you never met, but still have shaped & prayed for you.

If you could have dinner with 7 famous people (dead or alive), who would you pick & where would they sit?

steve-irwin1.- Steve Irwin: I have been a Steve Irwin fan for as long as he’s been on television. I actually remember the very first episode of his show that I saw on Animal Planet (truth!) & my “Kennedy” moment (you know, everyone always remembers exactly what they were doing when Kennedy was shot) was his death. Aside from the fact that he was entertaining, I thought he was a brilliant TEACHER with the way he explained & broke things down, simplified. Such an advocate for wildlife conservation & what you saw was what you got. I’ve read all of his biographies/auto & still watch his show(s) on re-run whenever I can catch them. *Side-note, no matter how much his popularity & net worth grew, him & his wife lived in the same split-level, $30k fixer-upper they bought when they first married. His personal salary was averaged out to that of a zookeepers & anything made above that he put into his wildlife conservation organizations & various other organizations he supported*.

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2. Pastor Joel Osteen: Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. My Grandma & Papa Cooper actually got me interested in watching him on television. I was hooked! This led to reading most of his books (haven’t read his latest) & several of his devotionals have made it into my library. Regardless if you’re a believer or not, watch him for his positivity & joy, its contagious. The enthusiasm he radiates is what the world needs more of. You can tell he’s on FIRE for Christ & has a true passion for leading people to Him. One of the items on my “Life List” is to attend one of his Sunday morning church services at Lakewood (a trip to Texas is always needed!).

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3. John Lennon: I don’t really think I need much of an explanation why I’d have John Lennon at my table, he’s John Lennon. Period. End of Discussion.

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4. Charles Darwin: He grew up very Christian, in a Christian home, but he had a deep love for nature & that caused him to question a lot of his beliefs. He came up with Natural Selection & the Theory of Evolution…to be able to have a discussion with him would blow my mind. And to have him on a panel with spiritual leaders would be an amazing discussion to watch (because I certainly wouldn’t be able to follow his thinking, way beyond what my mind can comprehend). *Side-note, Steve Irwin’s turtle, Harriet, was one of Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos turtles that he studied while coming up with his Theory of Evolution… Mind-blown!*

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5. Sarah: from the Bible. King David was originally on my list, but I kept coming back to Sarah (Abraham’s wife). She has been a key-figure for me over the last few years as someone I can relate to, biblically. God put a desire in her heart-she doubted & took matters into her own hands, it (obviously) was a train-wreck, but eventually that promise still came true-in God’s timing, despite her trying to control it herself. What a lesson! I’d love to be able to thank her, hear her advice, & listen to her testament on faith. Be like talking to your Grandma, one who has weathered all the hard parts of life.

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6. Anna Sewell: author of Black Beauty. When I was in 4th or 5th grade, my Aunt Pennye, gave me Island of the Blue Dolphin, Where the Red Fern Grows, & Black Beauty to read as I was recovering from a surgery. Where the Red Fern Grows & Black Beauty remain as my top favorite books of all time & have had huge impacts in shaping the course of my beliefs & life. I’d love to have a discussion with the author of a book that introduced this young child to the horrors of animal-abuse & how everything can heal with patience, compassion, & love. I still remember bawling my eyes out & hiding this book in my closet because I didn’t even want to look at it, I was so heart-broken by the way Beauty was treated. This novel was the first (and only) novel written by an invalid & very sick Anna who died days after it was first published. One of my most treasured possessions is an early edition of this novel, from 1895 that I picked up at a friends antique store for $4.

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7. Snoop Dogg: okay, quit laughing Smile I’m not a fan of rap music, at all. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever really listened to Snoop Dogg’s music (although, I did watch his show Fatherhood…hi-larious!), but I am a fan of him! He is one smart cookie & every time I read anything he’s done or see him on television it makes me laugh & then go, “brilliant!”. He’d be sitting right next to me at dinner, for the sheer fact that I’d want to catch every little sarcastic gem he says. I love that he’s so “REAL” & his attitude is, “F**k it! This is me, take it or leave it”. He’s so chill & cool (possibly because of the mad amounts of weed he smokes), but hey, I dig it!

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One Thousand Gifts…Weeks 4-7

Okay, I know I’ve been terribly lazy about posting my One Thousand Gifts. I’d love more than anything to fill you with all these excuses about how I’ve been super busy with work, my family…life. But the truth is I’ve just been…lazy. I started off writing 3 “gifts” a day & that’s dwindled to one a day..one every other day…one every week & so on.

So, my weeks are lumped together so it looks more filled than what it actually is. (again….lazy!). And I’m making a conscious effort to start this week (my “gifts” weeks run from Wed-Wed) to get back in the habit of 3 a day…well, maybe one a day!

“Think Happy. Be Happy!”

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One Thousand Gifts: Weeks 4-7

61. Fresh clean-laundry!!!! *I know, I know…I’ve lived in my house for 148752_608511712497962_1389588840_nalmost a year & still haven’t broke down and purchased a washer/dryer yet. Just seems like other expenses seem more pressing* 

62. How beautiful the sky looks as the sun’s peeking through snow clouds. Especially because the sun shining on an Ohio winter day is a rarity!

63. when I get the opportunity to see a situation through a perspective other than my own.

64. a check lost in the mail was recovered & deposited (doubly thankful that multiple checks wrote for bills were not cashed & nothing bounced!)

65. women who remind me to, “live in the present” when I find myself thinking of past memories

66. Aunt Gloria & the struggles she overcame during her lifetime. She will be missed.

67. after another visit to the hospital that resulted in a few days stay, my dad is home from the hospital again & mending (again!). Subsequently, my Grandma is home & mending from her heart-attack (that happened the same time my dad was in the hospital). Been a rough February!

68. the right to (occasionally) have myself a temper-tantrum, pity party, & “feeling sorry for myself” night.

69. an afternoon spent with my nieces & how excited they get when they’re allowed to spend the night with me. Although, I think a swim party & my dog had more to do with their excitement than an evening spent with their aunt Winking smile

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70. nighttime hikes on starry, clear, winter nights! *my favorite time of year to get a good hike in*

71. “There’s no difference between us when it comes to the Lord”-words by Pastor Jim, followed by an “Amen” said by a handicapped, disabled gentleman in a wheelchair at a Sunday morning church service. What a lesson!

72. the fact that my cat, Sundae, sleeps at the foot of my bed every night. Snoring away!

73. Bible scriptures that remind me to,”keep the faith” when I can feel it fading. hanginthere1

74. Being a girl & it being perfectly acceptable to spend 2 hours in the bathroom playing with my hair, doing my nails, plucking my eyebrows, waxing/shaving, experimenting with makeup, exfoliating & moisturizing Smile

LetGoLetGod175. reminders of “let go & let God”

76. powerful church services where you know God is moving, answering, & grace is overflowing

77. living within minutes of great hiking spots & a love for being outdoors

78. my mom telling me, “your dog is so attached to you”. Makes me smile because I know trust is an issue for him & we’ve been working on trying to overcome.

79. indoor flowers that are blooming, reminds me that spring is soon here! Baby animals, sunnier days, warmer weather, & green everywhere! amaryllis1

 

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