Sam is a six-year-old black lab that came to us as a puppy; the runt of his litter, he has always been energetic, loving, and skinny. Thorin, a rust-colored Australian terrier that was a gift from Granny, is ten years old and has a mind of his own. No fence can hold him in; one time he climbed a ten-foot cattle gate in his quest for freedom. Sam, too, loves to run, but he is also a lap dog, plopping on my lap for comfort during a thunderstorm, his 75-pound body quivering with fear. These dogs are my girls’ last link to their childhood in Kansas City, and we are about to lose them. We only have one day left to find them temporary foster homes; some place they can go until I am in a situation where I can take them. If we don’t find a solution, my ex will take them to a local pound where the dogs will be adopted out or killed, and we’ll never see them again. We will never know what happened to them. I have done all that I can to help, all that I know to do.
When I moved to Brevard County, Florida three years ago, I found a temporary home for them with a friend who has a farm. She was so sweet to offer, but at the time, my ex refused to let them go, committing verbally to keeping the dogs until I could take them again. When I reminded him of that, he texted back, “Circumstances change. Sometimes tough decisions have to be made. It need not mess up my relationship with our daughters. It’s all in the ways we choose to see and present things.”
Three years ago, I didn’t trust God. I felt too bruised and battered by life, too broken. And, all I could see for positive change was a God who would use some awful tragedy to help me. I didn’t want that kind of help as I already felt like I was beaten down far enough. On the other hand, I knew that something needed to change, so I started praying every day, saying, “God, I don’t trust you. I don’t trust you, but I want to. Please help me learn to trust you.” Since then, God has blessed my life in so many ways, and I am learning about prayer power.
During our first couple of group studies at church, I learned that Nehemiah’s first instinct and action when learning about a problem was prayer and that he prayed for four months before taking any other action. In our fast-paced, throw-away society, that is astonishing. I shared this story with my girls, and we have all been praying for a solution for our dogs so that we don’t lose them.
I also learned about having a heart that breaks (a compassionate heart) and doing whatever God has placed on our heart. Late one night last week, an idea came to me to start a blog “A Heart That Breaks” and commit to one year. For one year, I am to remain open and listen, to ask myself what God has placed on my heart to do each week, and to take action and help someone around me. To use my blessings to bless others.
I don’t know about you, but I loved the idea in theory; however, in reality, I am thinking, “Really?! God, are you sure this is your idea?! Do I really have to do this?!” Not that I don’t want to help others, but that I wonder if I will have the resources (the time, the energy, the money, the health). At the same time, I feel scared to put myself out there this way.
Over General Tso’s chicken, I told the girls about the idea and asked if they wanted to join me. They agreed, and it is somehow apropos that we will begin on September 1st. Three years ago, that is the day we loaded up the van and drove away from Kansas City and away from everyone and everything we knew and drove to a very uncertain future. Three years later, we have many blessings for which we are grateful: we live in a 3-bedroom condo in a very nice area; we have two cats (Piper and Zeus); the girls attend good schools with great friends; I have work that I love; many kind people have given us friendship and help; we had an awesome summer with Astrid; and so on.
We still face many challenges and difficulties. We do not know what will happen to our dogs. We do not know what this year will bring. Nothing is guaranteed. Yet we have made a family commitment: We are blessed, and so we bless others.