Recently I picked up a prescription for one of my dogs at the Vet's office, eighty-six dollars and twenty-eight cents. Unfortunately, it's not the only medication I have to give to our house full of animals and when I say "house full" I mean 4 cats and 7 dogs; all rescues. Each one has its own unique story, most of them very sad. Several of them of have been very badly abused. As I was waiting to be checked out I started thinking about all the costs of having so many pets. The shots, medicines, special food, I let out a long sigh thinking to myself, "I can't keep doing this!" Another lady with a perfectly healthy, friendly, sweet dog was checking out at the counter as well. It seems one of girls working there had noticed my rather long face as I was looking over the bill. I jokingly said to her, "Why can't I have a normal dog, one that doesn't require anything but food and love?" Denise smiled back at me shaking her head, she said, "Jennifer, you will probably never have a "normal" dog or cat, you take the ones that no one else wants, the ones that are the most needy and the leased loved." As I handed her my check, I said, "You're absolutely right, but there must be some reason why I do this!"
Once I got home I looked around my house; all the modifications we have made to our home to accommodate all our pets. We have ramps for the older ones, special beds and crates and even little stairs so the smaller pets can reach the couch. We purposefully chose flooring for our living room that is "pet friendly." My book cases, my walls are all filled with pictures and knick knacks of dogs and cats, books on dog care, cat pictures, pug pillows, you name it I probably have it. I am also one of those people whom loves to change around the furniture every few months, but I had to stop after we took in a blind pug. She knows the lay out of the house and if I move anything, she might run right into it. I sat down on the couch and instantly all my dogs and cats jumped up to sit with me. As each one came to greet me it made me think about Adam in the Book of Genesis. God say's from "out of the ground" he made all the creatures in the earth and in chapter two God brings all the animals to Adam to see what he would call them; and whatever Adam called them that was its name. God made all the creatures yet; he let Adam name them all. So God had no doubt in Adam's ability to name the creatures He had made.
I have to admit its true; I don't think I have ever had a pet that didn't have some kind of issue, physical or emotional, usually both. Sometimes I wish they could tell me what happened to them, so I could try to fix it. But since they can't I treat them with love and give them time to realize that we can be trusted. All of this is another lesson from God, a window He provides for me to see into. In fact, these days every where I turn, I see a message about who God is and a chance to learn something more about God's Grace, His Goodness and His ability to change me if I will let Him.
People around me believe I am willing to take less, to take the worst portion of what they have, and that was true. So much of my life I have allowed myself to be put down, given less and just plain mistreated. I thought that because I was so aware of my shortcomings, my sinful nature, I deserved to be treated this way. Thankfully God stepped in to remind me how much He loves me. This is one of the things I work on daily, to like myself, to remain humble and to honor God each day. I must always remember to not be angry with those that don't serve God, but to pray for them. They are in same situation I am; they have to let God in to change their lives.
Change is probably the hardest thing for me to accept and do. I wasn't raised under the best circumstances. I almost died as a child. I saw a lot of adult things that children shouldn't see. My High School boyfriend physically abused me. I escaped him, but then my first husband was worse abusing me physically and emotionally. But, by far the most difficult and painful situation for me has been the repeated rejection by my family for my beliefs and my convictions. I want them to understand as much as we can here on earth the depth of who God is and why He deserves our love and respect. I hate to admit it but in a small way my heart stills longs for their approval. Having convictions always makes me think of Daniel from the Old Testament, captured as a young teenager and brought to Babylonian. He was to be trained and taught to serve a pagan king. But Daniel had convictions, he knew God as Jehovah. He chose obedience to Jehovah no matter what it might cost him. Each time his faith and convictions were challenged by the pagan kings God always protected Daniel, and Jehovah became known to a pagan nation as the Most High God, the True God.
Learning about God and God's people, has helped me see who I am; the closer I get to God the less important the world is, and the easier it is to let go of those past hurts; seeing the bad things that happened to me for what they were and deciding to take the narrow road. Learning to have relationships with people in my life that don't understand my love and commitment to God can be very challenging. Sometimes its hard for me not to become critical of the life style choices-so opposed to God, that many in my family have chosen, especially because I love them so much. But I have realized by now no matter what I say, it falls on deaf ears and closed minds. Could I have Daniel's strength, it's not without pain and loss, but God will replace that loss with His unending love of that I am positive.
This leads me back to my seven dogs and four cats now sitting on the couch with me snuggled up on each other and me like cordwood. I think that's why God brings these wounded and abused dogs and cats to my door. Who better to understand? Because I have been so wounded and because I understand what it feels like to be abused and unloved. But all that changed when I learned to trust God to heal me, then to give me a direction, an occupation that would bring glory to Him, that's when I came out of my shell, came out from behind the walls of shame I had built around myself.
I took in a little dog just about a year ago, so starved you could see each rib on his body. He was covered by so many fleas they were slowly killing him. Cleaning him up and feeding him was the easy part. The hard part, I had never seen such a sad and fearful dog ever before. At first I couldn't touch him or pick him up without him crowing in fear hiding under a chair or in a corner. I have been working with him very slowly and he is starting to trust but, he still has long way to go. But, I'm not worried, he can spend his life with us; he'll never be starved or abused again and we will take it step by step. The important thing about a dog that has been as abused as this one is that I cannot push him; I want him to come to me, on his own. Yet one more lesson from God; He wants the very same thing from us. God never pushes us; He wants us to seek Him with our hearts laid open willing to trust Him. He is always a gentleman, never forcing His will upon us. But, I have to warn you, time may be very short, so don't let this moment pass you by. Today is the best day in the world to seek Him. It doesn't matter how wounded you are, how abused you have been or how unloved you may feel. He is ready to take you in and rescue you.
I have been writing all my life, I just didn't realize it until I was my late 40's. I hope my experiences can help other who have gone through similar trials.