Monday, April 14, 2014

A Vet's Caring Gesture





It was 4:30 when we loaded our terrier, Buttons, into the car. A cold misty rain fell, accentuating our dismal mood. My oldest, Rachel, clung to Buttons in the front seat while Michelle and Stephanie sat soberly in the back. During the forty-five minute drive, the winter sky darkened and the rain poured.  A feverish Buttons twisted and turned in Rachel's lap, periodically nestling his nose into her neck. Adjusting his blanket like a mother tending her sick child, Rachel quietly wept, her tears falling onto Button's tousled head. Staring straight ahead, I suppressed a sob.       

A melancholy foursome walked through the vet's door.  I approached the counter and told the receptionist that we had a sick pup requiring immediate attention. The nurse escorted us right back to an examining room. When the doctor came in, Rachel placed Buttons on the table as we all gathered around to observe. She stroked Button's stomach, while Stephanie patted his head. Michelle stood aloof.  I watched, my thoughts scrambling for order and direction.

The vet felt all around Button's small bloated body, starting at his head and working down to his tail. His temperature was 103 degrees. After the customary tacit period of the exam, the vet took a deep breath and spoke.

"Buttons may be suffering from some type of intestinal blockage or tumor. We would have to perform more tests to determine exactly what the problem is. Most likely surgery would be necessary."

I asked more questions to clarify the data, wanting to make sure we understood before making a determination. In the intense pressure of the moment, I knew I bore the brunt of any decision. I also knew the girls were relying on me to do the right thing for Buttons. Looking around the room, I studied each girl's face in hopes of finding an answer.

"Could we have a few minutes alone to talk about this?" I asked the vet.

"Sure. Take as long as you need," he responded, lowering his head and turning to leave.

As the door closed, the girls and I stared at Buttons, then at one another. Rachel and Stephanie continued to stroke Buttons. Michelle hung back. I wondered what she was thinking and feeling.

"Well," I stammered. "We need to decide what is best for Buttons now." I started to cry, which made Rachel and Stephanie cry more, while Michelle stood in her corner observing the scene. "Buttons is in pain," I labored on. "He's thirteen-years-old, has congestive heart failure, and now a new condition on top of that. I think his physical problems are just going to get worse. Even if we treat this one, it's only a matter of time before another ailment crops up. We love him as our pet, but we need to use our best judgment."

 Michelle spoke up from her corner. "I don't want Buttons to suffer any procedures. He wouldn't like that. He's been through enough."

I glanced at Rachel and Stephanie for confirmation. They remained silent and continued to stroke Buttons. I could tell from their demeanors that they knew Michelle was right. They just couldn't verbalize it.

"Well, then," I blurted, beginning to shake with emotion, clutching my sides in hopes of gaining composure. "We'll let Buttons go."

Summoning the nurse from the next room, I told her we were ready for the doctor. After a minute, he cautiously opened the door. With downcast face, he approached the table.

"We've decided to let Buttons go."  The words spilled from my mouth like water from a faucet.

The vet laid his strong, gentle hand on Button's side. Our dog that normally would have scrambled to exit the room, lay still, his anxious brown eyes like wide deep pools, searching ours.

"I understand," the vet sympathized. Noticing our tears, he added, "I'll give you a few more minutes with him." Fully aware that the decision we had made was final, we sobbed, gasping for air with every breath, each in her private world of pain, yet united.

We gathered around Buttons talking to him as if he understood the import of the moment.  I lowered my head, closing my eyes in silent prayer. At last, we called the doctor in. He filled the fatal syringe as Stephanie stood crouched holding Button's head, sobbing and kissing him and speaking to him with gentle reassurance. Rachel and I held each other while Michelle stood against the wall, still observing without emotion. Struggling, I released each girl to experience the hurt in her own way. I was thankful that my teen girls were mature, able to understand the decision and work through the pain.

Right before the injection, the vet again laid his hand on Buttons and asked if he could say a prayer for us and our dog.  Having never received such a request from a vet before, I was surprised, but comforted by his caring gesture. I heartily agreed.

"Dear Lord," he began, "please be close to this hurting family and their beloved pet, Buttons. Comfort them in Your name.  Amen."

I inwardly mused. How like our precious Father to put a praying vet into our lives at just the right moment when we needed a touch from His hand. God was reassuring us that He who made all living things, who notices when a tiny sparrow falls, also cared for our Buttons.

We drove home in silence. Rain was still falling, but it couldn't equal the torrent of tears we had shed. We arrived home with puffy, thick eyes and numb hearts. I called my husband at work, sharing the details with him. Weeping, he longed to be with us,
hold us, and share in our grief. I realized through Button's death that my girls had learned a life lesson--letting go of someone you dearly love and trusting God to take care of the pain. We would have precious memories of Buttons to cherish through the years and God's comfort to hold onto through the tears.

~~
Eileen Rife, author of Second Chance, speaks to women’s groups. Her three daughters are now grown with families of their own. One of her chief joys is playing with her six grandchildren who provided the inspiration for her upcoming gift book, Wit & Wisdom from the Wee Ones. www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Beyond I Do!

Jennifer Slattery's novel, Beyond I Do is available for preorder! 

Yippee! Ordered mine today. :)

Here's a fun entry she posted on Faith-filled Friends today!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ooh-wee! Spring Fling!

Our Life Group ladies enjoying lunch together during our Ladies Day Out!

Enjoying an after lunch spa treatment, beginning with a wonderfully, smooth hand scrub, then lotion.

And now for the foot rub!

And spa day wouldn't be complete without the warm neck wrap. (BTW, that's Reba McIntire in the background. Well, her cardboard image, anyway. :)

Cooling eye pads and lip exfoliator

All in all, a delightfully fun and refreshing day with the ladies, complete with HymnScapes and devotional.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Legacy & Love Giveaway by Paula Mowery!

Two stories in one!

The Prayer Shawl
Sean Holland is a magazine reporter always looking for the next story. Hope Weaver is a pediatric nurse who shares Christ through making prayer shawls. The shawls are just the touchy-feely story Sean needs, even though he’ll have to endure Hope’s strong Christian beliefs to get it. An unexpected connection brings them together as a couple. But, can they find love if they don’t share their faith?

Inheritance

Alex Lyndon’s life has been a series of fits and starts with no finishes. She finds herself jobless and divorced. Now her only family, Granny Olivia, is critically ill.

Chase Carson had to step into running the family business when his father died. The time is past due to visit Miss Olivia.

Alex and Chase must go on a treasure hunt. Will each find purpose and love for their lives in the process?

What inspired you to write Legacy and Love?
Over the last couple of years God has impressed upon me the need for me as a Christian to be intentional about the godly legacy I leave behind. I recall fondly the influence of my grandmothers in this area as well as my mother's heritage of faith that she continues to instill. In the time that we live we can't leave our faith tradition to chance, hoping our children will just catch on. There are people out in the world who would like nothing more than to derail our offspring from a Christian foundation.
So true, Paula! The older I get, the more intentional I become about leaving a godly legacy to my children and grandchildren, and those I mentor. Thanks for treating this timely topic in your novel.

Paula, what is one fun thing my readers might not know about you?
One thing that many people are surprised to learn about me is that I am an interpreter for the deaf. I sit on a stool in front of the church each Sunday and sign the sermon for our deaf members. What's even more interesting is that the preacher is my husband. He just loves to play "Stump the Interpreter" on any given occasion. Once he preached on fear and named all of these phobias that I had to fingerspell. He moved over next to me as if watching to see if I would really spell them out. The congregation gets a big kick out of it. So does he!
Haha! I can only imagine the teasing game you two play over this. I used to love watching the deaf interpreter during our years at Thomas Road. Such a great ministry!
~~
 
Paula Mowery is a published author, acquisitions editor, and speaker. Her first two published works were The Blessing Seer and Be the Blessing from Pelican Book Group. Both are women’s fiction, and their themes have been the topics of speaking engagements. In November of 2013, her first romance released in the anthology, Brave New Century, from Prism Book Group. Legacy and Love is her first solo romance. Reviewers of her writing characterize it as “thundering with emotion.” Her articles have appeared in Woman’s World, The Christian Online Magazine, and the multi-author devotional blog, Full Flavored Living.

As an acquisitions editor for Prism Book Group, Paula particularly looks for romance stories with Christian values at its core. She’s especially attracted to those manuscripts that leave the reader mulling over the story long after turning the last page.

Having been an avid reader of Christian fiction, she now puts that love to use by writing book reviews. She is a member of ACFW and is on the author interview team.

Paula is a pastor’s wife and mom to a first year college student. She homeschooled her daughter through all twelve years, and they both lived to tell about it. Before educating her daughter at home, she was an English teacher in public school.

You can follow Paula at www.facebook.com/pages/Paula-Mowery/175869562589187. Learn more about Paula at her blog at www.paulamowery.blogspot.com or enjoy her monthly columns on www.christianonlinemagazine.com

~~
Leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle copy of Legacy and Love! Please leave contact info so I know how to reach you. Winner announced Wednesday, April 9.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Stories that Ask for More

Have you ever asked yourself why you read?
        Maybe you love a good mystery simply for the delicious spine-tingling suspense, or a horror story for the sheer terror the villain evokes. Perhaps you enjoy a love story that makes you feel all warm inside. You might be a reader whose strong intellect craves material that makes you think or reason through a situation.
       I dare say, most of us read first and foremost for enjoyment or to glean information. Only students read because they have to in order to pass the test or write the paper.
          Reading can take us to faraway places we may never go to experience situations we may never encounter in real time. Because of this delightful phenomenon, some stories, whether fiction or nonfiction, tend to linger in our memories. For me, one such account told of the first blind person, Erik Weihenmayer, who reached the summit of Mount Everest on May 25, 2001. There’s just something about mastering a mountain, especially without vision, that makes me sit up and take notice. I’m fully engaged with any plot that details the rigors and dangers of such a challenge. Now, I would never undertake such a climb in reality (I rarely hike), but I enjoy doing so vicariously through a story character, real or imagined. And I can do so while curled up in bed or in front of a cozy fire while sipping tea.
         Yes, reading is one of the supreme pleasures of life. You avid readers understand this.
         On the other side of the coin, as a writer of both fiction and nonfiction, I often ponder where my responsibility begins and ends with readers. Yes, I want to produce a story that keeps the reader turning pages. Yet, as a Christian writer who serves the King of Kings, is that where my job ends?
          I don’t think so. Personally, I feel compelled through my writings to build awareness and move to action. In the course of the reading, I want the reader to identify with a scripture, an insight, a character, or a situation in a way that invites change, either small or great. I also want to write words that heal hurting hearts.
          I read. A lot. In order to write effectively, one must read voraciously.
          In my book travels, I’ve read some works, even Christian books, that amount to little more than entertainment. I’m left with nothing to grapple with that stimulates personal growth. These are often books that do well, even hit the bestseller’s list. I wager a guess it’s because they require so little of the reader.
          May I challenge you—both readers and writers alike?
       Get on your face before God and ask Him to guide you in your choice of reading material. Refuse to settle for fluff, for books that merely entertain without moving you toward a decision or out of your comfort zone and toward action. Two such novels in my recent reading history are Scared and Priceless by Tom Davis, founder of Children’s HopeChest. Not only are these works great fiction, but they detail the plight of African orphans and trafficked victims. Highly recommended, by the way!
       God loves books. If He didn’t, He wouldn’t have authored the Bible. Since His desire is to transform us into the image of Christ, He wants us to choose reading material (and write words) that requires something of us, that asks for more than a fluttery heart or a good time or even gained knowledge. He delights in words that bring life and healing.
            So should we.