Monday, July 18, 2011

Doing The Right Thing

The Husband says that I have stray dog syndrome. I attract them. Must be something they smell in me.

Peanut and Biscuit

We have a ton of stray dogs that have taken up residence at the pastorium. We moved in and not three months later Snowball showed up. She proceeded to have puppies on our carport in the dead of winter. It was so very cold. I agonized over that dog, taking comforters literally off of the twins' beds and using them for bedding, helping her puppies come, and then arranging them so they wouldn't be squished. Snowball let me right near her without so much as a whimper and I just knew that It Was The Right Thing To Do.

Bear. Carter. Biscuit.
Then Peanut and Biscuit came. Peanut was half starved and the most pitiful thing you've ever seen. She lived here for six months and was starting to look reasonably healthy when she was bitten by a snake protecting our home. She had to be put down, but died keeping a poisonous snake away from our children. Biscuit found a lady friend up the road and moved on to greener pastures. They were quickly followed by LeRoy (the neighbor's dog who lives here now) and Dixie (the biggest full-blood bloodhound I have ever seen who was, quite literally, in love with The Husband) and now Big Dog, a huge black lab.

We feed and water them and make sure they have shelter. This year we even put a space heater in the garden shed out back with some fresh bedding on the ground. (No dogs are freezing to death at Casa Johnson.) Someone said that if we'd stop putting out food, they'd go away. My question in response is how can you let something that has come to you begging for help, shelter, and food go hungry when you have the means to provide for it? What does that say about you as a human? What does that say about you as a Christian? (At least pick it up and take it to the shelter.) No, as for me and my house, we are putting out the scraps and buying the dog food and loading everyone up for shots and spaying. Yeah, it's expensive. Yeah, it's not my responsibility. Yeah, they aren't my dogs. So what?  I'm doing it anyway. Simply because It's The Right Thing To Do.

I know two youth in particular who stand in my immediate field of vision who are in need of help.  I see them several times a week. I know that they are in less than ideal circumstances (to put it mildly), yet I'm struggling to get their needs met. One lives in--let's just say a less than ideal home for children. One is fostering with a family because his mother is in rehab and his father is in prison. They need school clothes. They need school supplies. They need stuff. They need sports fees paid. They need someone to drive them to and from sporting events and then sit in the stands and cheer for them. They need rides to church and youth parties and to fun stuff. They need someone to invite them fishing and then actually get in the car, go pick them up, take them fishing, and just be there.

Some of you know that I've been fund raising to pay for school for one of these youth. He needs to go to the Christian school in our area for a variety of complicated reasons (which I am more than happy to share if you know me personally and want more details). One family approached me proactively about helping me pay for his clothing (and I can't even begin to thank that family for all they do in our church and community). And two people/families stepped forward to help when I sent out the call:

--One, a single woman who doesn't know this young man.
--Two, a family with kids who are paying an astronomical amount already on the adoption process (which is another blog altogether--when so  many kids need good homes why should a domestic adoption cost ANYTHING?????).

It's not going to be enough. We have to stop discussing our Christianity and begin living it in a daily, real way.

When my mother was sick, we had no way to pay for all of her expenses at home. It was a nightmare. Our help came from the last place I ever would have expected. I have a cousin in Atlanta. She mailed us their family vacation money. All of it. A huge check. We bought supplies and paid for medications and home IVs and paid a nurse to come in two days a week so that I could retain my sanity. I can't tell you what the gift did for our family.

Her choice, made with her husband and her kids, to skip the family vacation and to mail us the $5,000, changed our lives (and maybe even changed theirs a little). They are Catholic. They live in another state. She is the sibling rivalry I never had with my own brother. She behaved like my sister when she stepped up to the plate and put her money where her faith lived. I'll never forget it. (Especially when my biological brother has done absolutely nothing in terms of my mother's care or finances. Not a single dime or visit outside of Christmas.)

Where is your faith? As Christians, we do owe these boys something.

Proverbs 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”— when you already have it with you."

Psalm 82:3-4 Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked

So, today I'm loading up one of those young men and buying his school stuff. I've also committed to make sure that this young man will not miss a single practice, because I'm going to drive him to all of them, and he will have someone cheering just for him in the stands on game day. That's going to be my contribution.

What's your plan? Sometimes you have to do the right thing simply because It's The Right Thing to Do.

Proverbs 21: 3 Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.

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