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Since my dog, Sheena, contracted breast cancer in June, 2011, and we'd been taking walks together, I noticed little gifts of nature from God on almost every walk. I think He sent them to make the pain of knowing I'd soon lose her more bearable. She died on November 27, 2011, and I still see these gifts. I'll post them here for all to enjoy. Some posts may include pictures. If you're in a similar situation with a pet or a family member and want to post gifts like mine or just talk, please, feel free. Please, have your dog spayed or neutered to avoid the heartache my family has been through. I think God was teaching me about “living in the moment,” being thankful to Him, and maybe to not think about the future so much.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

This is the way I'd see Sheena many times during the day. She'd follow me to some room or other and lay down with her back to me, but ready to pop up at a moment's notice. I've often wondered if that was just something she did or do other dogs do that? Of course, she'd also sit tight up against me and wait for a head scratch or for me to run her ears through my fingers, I'd swear they were made of silk. That ivory paw and its mate often found themselves stuck under the bathroom door with a black nose between them if I beat her to the bathroom and closed the door. I'll post a "gift" later in the coming week.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The first picture I took at 5:02pm on October 31, 2011

Second picture-5:04pm

     On October 31st, 2011, I was entering the adult education building where I was to teach another section of an adult creative writing course. A thunderstorm had added yet another gloomy day to my week. I’d noticed that Sheena was slowing down and not following me around the house like before, and I let her stay in whatever room I’d just left, usually my office, my writer’s cave. When she woke up, she’d join me, or I’d come back, no problem. I loved the class I was teaching. I had confidence in my presentations and was having fun looking at their various writings and interacting with the students.
Third picture-5:06pm
     It was about 5:00pm and as I drove into the school’s massive parking lot, I saw an extremely large and bright rainbow’s end, just a few feet away. I looked up and saw another slightly less bright rainbow! It was the brightness of a normal rainbow. The first rainbow was so bright and close that I felt like I could touch it. I could see its end at a white pickup truck about 30 feet away. I tried to ignore it because I had to make handout copies for my class, but the urge to take pictures took over. I sat down my bookbag out of the rain and whipped out my cell phone. Other people around me were doing the same and exclaiming how they’d never seen anything like it. My heart began to pound with excitement as I decided to brave the misty remnants of the storm’s rain to try to touch the rainbow’s end. I knew there was no pot of gold, but at least I could say I touched a rainbow’s end.  As I walked toward the white pickup, the rainbow’s end moved away! It took me a few minutes to realize, the angle of the sunlight behind me and the misty rain all around that entire part of the city would make the rainbow move. Duh! But, that wasn’t the point, I was having a few minutes of fun, distraction from what I knew was to come, and re-enacting something I’d done as a child in the fifties, trying to find a small rainbow’s end in a park I and my brothers were playing in. As the sun moved, the rainbow receded from me today. It occurred to me that I was literally IN the rainbow’s end today!
Last picture-5:08pm

I ran to the office where I make student copies of handouts, I asked the secretaries if they’d seen the rainbow. They were as excited as I was. They’d seen it and taken pictures, too. Later in class, I asked my students if they’d seen it. They all had and one lady, who’d driven from a city the storm had just left, said the main rainbow had been so bright that she’d had to put her visor down to see the road ahead of her.
The next day, I saw a picture and article about the rainbows in the local newspaper. Interviewed people gushed about them in the article, many mirroring my student’s need to put their visors down. I know rainbows are God’s promise to not destroy the Earth and humanity by flood again and that some ancient civilizations had varying theories about them, such as the ancient Norse believing they are the bridge to get to Asgard. I took these rainbows as gifts from God that day to give me some peace and beauty in a dark time of my life.
         As I was writing this, it occurred to me that I was surrounded by one of God’s promises that afternoon because anyone to the south of me just the right distance away would see that gigantic bright rainbow and its twin surrounding me. Is that the definition of God’s love? 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

From a Friend-"Jean"

My friend, Jean, couldn't figure out how to post a comment so I'll post it for her. She's not alone, it took me a long time to post my first comment on a blog! Here's her touching story:

We lost our beloved Sarah Genevieve Nov. 28th, 2010. She died unexpectedly of a heart attack in the back seat of my car. Her last few breaths were spent staring helpless into my eyes. She reached out and grabbed my hand with her paw. This was exactly 5 months and 19 days after my mom lost her battle with cancer. We’d been blessed with 10 years of sharing life with the best dog ever. Once again, I felt like the breath had been sucked right out of my body. I was so consumed with grief that I felt I was suffocating. She was always there. Quiet. Patient. Always laying at my feet or following me from room to room. I was so angry with God. I understood why He took my mom, but how could He be so cruel as to take away my beloved pet, too? Within 4 months of Sarah’s death, my cat Thomas, the Big Kahuna, started downhill. I feared losing him, too. Fortunately, he’d only developed diabetes that we caught early, so he seems to be under control now. Sarah has left a hole in our heart that will not be mended until we step foot into Heaven where there is no pain or sorrow. I can't explain why God chose that time in my life to take her from us. I'd be lying if I said at times I didn’t get angry with Him. But, God is bigger than my anger and just as a parent (though it hurts us) allows a child to express their anger at us over a decision we made for their own good, God allows us the grace to do the same. Beyond all of the pain and grief, lies a solid foundation of love and faith. I choose to trust Him. I lean not on my own understanding, but in all my ways I acknowledge Him and His abundant love and I trust Him to direct my path. God has been faithful to bathe me in His peace when I need it. He says, we have not because we ask not, so I ask for peace a lot! He is always faithful.

We swore we’d never get another dog because we felt that getting any dog would be replacing Sarah, and her story is a unique one. The kids were 4 and 7. We’d never had anything but cats, The kids begged for a dog and Scott had just started a 3rd shift position. I didn’t want an inside dog, but wanted protection. So, I asked the kids what sort of dog they’d want if they could have one. It became apparent that they wanted a big yellow dog. We were at IGA in Shelby after that conversation and Erin says with great exclamation, “MOM! Look! This is a picture of our dog!” It was a greeting card with a picture of a golden retriever on it. I bought the card and took it home. I sat the kids down and asked them to make a list of things they wanted in a dog, and we wrote them in the blank card and begin praying for this dog. We looked at Goldens online and, of course, they were way out of our budget. We had checked the pound a few times with no luck. 5 days before Thanksgiving, Erin said, “Mom, let’s go look at the pound again.” We drove down and went inside. I couldn't believe my eyes. In one of the cages, was a dog that looked just like the picture on the greeting card. She was a beautiful 6-month-old pup that spoke to our heart that she was the one. She’d be available for adoption the day after Thanksgiving. It's first come first served, and we were afraid someone would beat us to her, so we made sure we were there Black Friday morning as soon as they opened. She wasn't the perfect dog at first. She was hard to house train and seemed to have been abused by a man in uniform at some point because she had issues with anyone fitting that description. But the miracle, years later we had opened up that prayer card and she matched every wish the kids had prayed for. She was so easy to teach multiple tricks to and was the best watch dog we ever could ask for. She bonded with Erin first and became a good sense of security to me because I knew as long as the kids had her outside with them, no one would come near them.
Erin took her death harder than her grandmother's death. Erin was in such a state that we feared for her health. It's true, nothing will ever take Sarah's place, and none will ever be like her. But, God had different plans for us. He knew what would mend our broken hearts. Tuesday afternoon, February 1, 2011, it was snowing. Scott was at work and Erin reminisced about how much Sarah loved the snow as she watched it come down out the window.
Out of the blue she said, “Let’s go look at the dogs at the pound.” She was relentless, so I caved and we piled in the car and went to the pound. We looked at all the dogs. They all were cute and pathetic and though we found some we liked, none we really wanted. As we wound our way around the cages, Erin walked into another room that at first glance held only empty cages. Then, all of sudden she says, "Ah, mommy! Come here!" I couldn't believe my eyes. It was like looking at a reincarnated Sarah! To make a long story short, we adopted the one-year-old pup and dubbed her Lillian Sarah, who’s a brat, big time! Lillian has this way of looking at you and melting your heart and you forgive her, over and over again. She’s still a puppy in training, but she’s taken to Erin as if they were connected by an umbilical cord. She stands in the shower while Erin baths each day, sleeps beside her bed and won’t let her out of her sight. Erin will begin dog agility training with Lilly through 4H this spring. She’s nothing like Sarah, and does not take Sarah's place. She has her own personality and has wormed her way into all of our hearts. She’s our second chance to make up for any time we neglected Sarah, such as being too busy for a walk. I'd like to introduce you to Lilly. She has her own Facebook page. It is Lilly on YouTube. She also stars in her own 2 videos on YouTube. If you go to YouTube and type in DeeZaster9 it should bring up 'doggy butt run' and 'lilly trips'. Hope you enjoy them and I hope this letter brings you some form of comfort and peace. God is with us through it all.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I noticed these hidden black-eyed Susans down in the ditch on a walk with Sheena. They weren't visible from a car on the road. It was a warm August 18, 2011, morning. I didn’t expect to see such a pretty setup for the photographer in me. As I snapped the flowers from several angles with my cellphone, Sheena got to sniff in the ditch and smelled something interesting. She dropped straight down on her nose, rear in the air rooting for whatever the item was. Knowing her, it was a gopher because there was a gopher hole near by. It’s a wonder that poor farmer had any crops at all, what with all the different animals Sheena and I saw on our walks. I could tell she enjoyed rooting in the dirt and being a dog. We both were “in the moment” for those few minutes and forgot our problems. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

On December 19, 2011, at about 6:30 am, I was on my way to substitute at a high school in another city. I drive on pretty country roads to get there and see much beautiful scenery on the 30-minute drive. This morning, it was dark, the sun just telling me it would come up soon. After a left turn onto the road where a herd of fat black cows graze and rest, I soon saw a clump of trees not far away. I noticed every limb of one huge tree was decorated with many huge black leaves, evenly spaced all over the limbs, as if someone had tastefully arranged the ornaments just for me to see.A beautiful sight in itself against the dark blue sky. All the other trees were bare. Suddenly, the ornaments flew outward in all directions away from the limbs and the tree grew rapidly in size. I watched in astonishment as it kept growing, only it wasn't the tree growing. Sleek black crows had slept wing-to-wing in the tree that night and my driving by awoke them. Breathtakingly, as if of one mind, they'd flown straight out of the tree in a black cloud and wheeled around in the sky, swooping down just feet from me, and rising back into the sky. They soon flew to the ground to enjoy some corn left in the freshly-harvested field nearby. I said, "Thank you, God, for this beautiful sight!" and I cried and my grief was lifted for a time.