My Journey to the Rainbow Bridge

Hi, my name is Silas Merchant. I don’t know how to write, so I’m telling my human mom, Debi, this story so she can share with y’all. The picture is of me smiling – yes, dogs smile, and I smiled all the time.

I first met the man and woman who would become my human dad and mom on December 14, 2017. They officially became my parents on May 18, 2018.

I loved my new home because they were both retired, and were able to spend time with me most days. I also had a new older brother, a dog named Tucker; an older sister, another dog, named Penny; and another older sister, a cat named Molly. Molly thought she was a dog, and acted like the alpha dog of the house, and basically scared me. But Tucker and Penny became great friends of mind. The three of us had so much fun together.

I settled into a life of ease. A dream life for a dog. My humans had grandkids who came and played with us all the time. I was the only dog who enjoyed playing ball, and my humans bought me a whole container of three tennis balls. The grandkids loved throwing the ball and l loved chasing it down. We would play for hours.

Everything was great until one day when I developed a terrible cough. I think it was sometime in 2019 when that happened. My parents said it sounded like a smoker’s cough, but I promise I NEVER smoked cigarettes! And I never coughed anything up, it just sounded like my entire stomach would come up.

My dad recorded it, so they could play it for the vet. The vet said she’d only heard a cough like that once before, and it was her own dog who had cancer. She said since I was a mature (I don’t like the word “old”) dog,  she wouldn’t recommend exploratory surgery. It would be best to just let me live until I couldn’t. Being a dog, I really didn’t understand all that and just continued to chase tennis balls and have fun with my family.

Thanksgiving week of 2020 was weird because for some reason I began having nose bleeds. Turns out I needed a blood transfusion, and a nice dog at the vet named Atlas was able to donate blood to me. The vet said I must have somehow gotten into some rat poisoning, but since my parents never used that, it’s still a mystery. From then on the people at the vet called me their miracle dog because they really didn’t think I’d survive.

In July 2021, I had a stroke! Yeah, I know, that’s usually just a human thing, but go figure, lucky me had a stroke. The only good thing about that was that I got to spend a few days at the University of Georgia Vet School! I loved watching the UGA bulldogs football games with my humans, and being there on campus was awesome! I wore my UGA collar with pride. They nursed me back to health, and within a few months I was chasing tennis balls again.

As 2022 began, my parents and I began to notice I wasn’t able to run as fast and as long as I used to. My horrible coughs were happening more often, but I still wasn’t throwing anything up. We all thought it was my “mature age” that was slowing me down.

I couldn’t jump up on the bed anymore, so my parents bought some steps. None of us dogs could figure out how to use them, although the “alpha dog cat”, Molly, went up and down them as if she were the queen.

At my yearly checkup, I’d lost a few pounds, but I didn’t think much of that because my human mom is always wanting to lose a few pounds, so I thought that was a good thing.

Then one day I heard my mom tell my dad that I wasn’t smiling anymore. They also noticed I looked like I’d lost more weight. And then I began throwing up my food! Back to the vet we went, and I was diagnosed with pancreatitis. They gave me an iv, but it wasn’t stopping my nausea. They did xrays and found I had a large growth that was inoperable and was preventing food from giving me the nourishment I needed to live.

I knew then that my journey to the rainbow bridge had begun. I was able to smile once or twice, to let my parents know I understood what they had to do.

They were both holding onto me as the process began. I looked up and saw the rainbow bridge, and it reminded me of running and chasing my tennis balls like I used to do. Then I saw Him. I saw God in His white robe, motioning me over the bridge. I looked again into my parents’ faces and knew they’d be okay because God would take care of them.

God takes care of everyone all the time. God and I raced over that bridge into the most beautiful place I’d ever seen. I knew I was covered in love. After all, dog spelled backwards is GOD, and we dogs love like God, unconditionally.

Silas really did help me write this.

See you next time,

 

Make the Most of the Choices You Have

Not many of us, if any on this earth, have everything we want. Many of us DO have everything we need, but we don’t always make the choices that allow us to be our best selves.

The image of the compass above is to illustrate and represent the choices we have in all directions.

Life has always been about choice from the very first humans in the Garden of Eden. They set the bar really low when they CHOSE to eat that apple. We’ve been making regrettable choices ever since.

Some choices are really easy and simple to make. Decent people usually make correct choices when confronted with a major right or wrong decision: steal the money/don’t steal the money; snatch an easy shoplift item/don’t snatch the item.

It’s the every day smaller issues that sometimes trip us up.

My personal biggest nemesis is my reaction to events in my life. For instance, getting cut off in traffic and choosing to lay in on the horn. Choosing to become all flustered when things don’t go my way. Choosing to react instead of just letting it go.

I’m working on that aspect of my life, as well as choosing to live a healthier lifestyle. Choosing to exercise, rather than making excuses not to exercise. Choosing to eat healthy, non-processed food, rather than junk food.

I’m working on living a better life by choosing to give the beggar by the road some money or a gift card for food or gas, rather than passing by without making eye contact.  Choosing  to have difficult conversations with people I care about, rather than allowing things to fester causing mole hills to become mountains in our relationships. And choosing my words carefully in all conversations.

We should all strive to make the best choices. It’s not always easy, and all of us will stumble occasionally.

Our lives will be richer and happier when we learn to make the most of the choices we have.

See you next time,

It Was a God Thing

The pretty cat above is our Molly. She’s a one of a kind, beautiful, tortoiseshell cat. The story below isn’t about her, but based on her personality it sure could have been.

A friend of mind was taking her cat to the vet. Now, unless you have a cat, you may not know how difficult it is to get them into those cute little plastic carriers that make it “easy” to transport them. It’s basically a two person job, both dressed in combat gear.

Those sweet little kitties hate, and I mean HATE, to get into the carriers. The most effective way I’ve found to get a cat into a carrier is turning the carrier up on it’s end, and putting the kitty in back feet first – and, trust me, that’s a hit-or-miss kind of thing.

This particular day, my friend’s spouse wasn’t available to suit up and help with the carrier process, and after several failed attempts, she just gave up and put the cat in the back seat of her car.

Mr. Kitty was NOT amused, and as cats have a tendency to do, began making his displeasure known. He bellowed, as only a cat can, as he walked back and forth in the back seat like a caged lion.

Eventually, he realized there was a world outside the windows, and he decided to investigate. Upon putting his front paws on the door handle, he hit the button to lower the window and promptly jumped out of the moving car!

My friend was stunned to say the least, and quickly turned the car around and headed back the way she had come, expecting the worse.

This is where the God thing begins to take shape. As she scanned the highway looking for, and praying she’d find, Mr. Kitty, she felt God guiding her as she made one turn after the other.

She finally spotted him several streets away from where he’d jumped out, sitting beside a building that was formerly a church.  She pulled into the adjacent parking lot, and confirmed that it was in fact, her cat.

She parked the car and carefully approached him, carrying a container of cat food. He was so petrified from his experience, he would not come to her.

She looked around for someone to help her, when she realized she was in the parking lot of the strip mall where her friend’s restaurant, Our Daily Bread, had been.  Even though it’s now a bakery, she felt compelled to go in there looking for help.

Through her tears, and still carrying her cat food, she asked  the gentleman working there to help her coral her cat. Once he got past the shock of seeing an hysterical woman carrying a container of cat food, he followed her outside. Together they coaxed Mr. Kitty to come to her, and the story ended happily. She got Mr. Kitty back into the car, locked the windows, and continued to the vet.

Some may say that was just a coincidence, but I don’t think so. There was basically zero percent chance of finding her cat unharmed!

I know it was a God thing, and that God protected Mr. Kitty as he jumped from the car on that busy highway. It was a God thing, that the cat found his way to the parking lot my friend was already familiar with.

It was a God thing, that God led my friend down the streets she needed to travel to find the cat. It was a God thing, that the man in the bakery stopped what he was doing and helped her coral the cat.

That’s how God works. Even when we make a mistake, God is there with us every moment as we try to get out of whatever we’ve gotten ourselves into. As my friend prayed, God guided her eyes where to look, and what turns to make,  just as He had guided Mr. Kitty.

God is ALWAYS with us, and He cares about us – even when we get ourselves into a mess.

God things happen all the time. Be mindful of them, and thankful for them.

See you next time,

That’s an Omelette?

Yes, the above picture IS an omelette,  howbeit not as attractive as ones you are used to seeing. It’s perhaps like the ugly duckling. No, wait, in the end the ugly duckling was a beautiful swan. Wrong analogy, Deb!

When I make, okay, TRY TO MAKE omelettes, they usually look like the one above. This morning was no different. I’m really NOT a cook.

It got me thinking about life, though, and how what we set out to accomplish does not always look as we imaged it would. It’s  not altogether wrong and it shouldn’t be thrown out, because it still works – just differently.

So, was my breakfast an spinach omelette? Yes, all of the ingredients and the tastes were in it. Cooking is not and never will be my strong suit, but what I prepare IS usually edible. It’s just not attractive by the standards of a chef. If you’re a chef and reading this, you may be on the verge of fainting!

Many years ago I wanted to prepare my Mom’s sweet potato pudding recipe. The problem was, I didn’t read the recipe first  to insure I had all the ingredients. As I began to prepare her signature dish, I realized I was short a sweet potato or two. So I improvised and used a couple Idaho potatoes. I realize the chefs who didn’t faint earlier are no longer with us, but I digress…

When I took it out of the oven, I knew right away I probably should have just run to the store for more sweet potatoes.  Daddy looked at it and asked, “Why does it have white flecks in it?” I was honest and replied, “Because I used some Idaho potatoes.” The look on his face can’t even begin to be described here. Mom said, “I’m sure it will taste just fine.” I wouldn’t describe the taste as “fine”, but it was edible. It wasn’t a total disaster, and again, didn’t have to be thrown out.

When we do something, and it doesn’t quite live up to our expectations, we can look for an alternative that will work, even though the look and feel may be somewhat different than we’d hoped. Our lives may not always look inviting to others, but that doesn’t mean anything is really wrong – just different.

This also applies to people we may encounter who don’t look or dress like us. Just because they are different from us, doesn’t mean we should avoid them. You never know when God has put someone in your path, and once you engage with them you may be quite surprised to learn you’ve discovered a brand new type of “omelette” that you really like! Just sayin’.

See you next time,

My Faith, My Life

Psalm 42:1 – As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.

John 10:27 – My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 – Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all.

Daniel 3:17a – If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it…

Daniel 3:18a – But even if he does not…

Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

The six verse above, all taken from the New International Version of the Bible, sum of my faith in ways I could not articulate.

I used to be upset that I didn’t have a huge redemption story of lightening bolt amazement. I used to fear I wasn’t God’s child because I couldn’t put my finger on the exact moment He came into my life. I used to feel that I had no testimony.

Then one day, as gently as the trees wave their branches to their Creator, a Breeze filled my soul and washed over me in a way nothing had before or since, and I KNEW. I knew I am a child of God.

I don’t need a great, splashy story. I don’t need a faith I can explain. All I need is my God, my Creator, my Strength, my Wisdom, my Shepherd, my Guide, my Savior.

No matter where I am in life, no matter what is going on around me. No matter if God says “no” to one of my deepest prayers,  no matter what, God is and I am.

May you open yourself up to the peace and love of God, and may they flow into your soul now and forevermore.

See you next time,

Miracles Abound!

I’ve heard people ask why there aren’t miracles anymore like there were in Biblical days. My answer is, “There are! Miracles Abound! They are everywhere!”

The very fact that we live, move, and breathe is a miracle. Birth is a miracle. Death is a miracle. Sunrise and sunset are miracles. Every new day is a miracle.

In addition to the aforementioned miracles of life, we all experience miracles all the time. We may call them coincidences, but really, are they? I don’t think so.

Just within the past few weeks I’ve experienced several miracles.

As I was finishing the task of decorating for Christmas, I realized we were missing some important items. A quick review of the storage bins confirmed that those items were in fact missing.

All of our Christmas bins, and the box for our tree, are stored under our stairwell. I made a frantic trip to that space, and saw no Christmas bins had been left behind.

At this point in my story I have to interject that I’d also been looking several months for the accompaniment tapes and cds that never made it to my home office when I relocated from one room to the other. (Keep that in mind as I continue.)

Seeing no Christmas bins, I decided to open the other boxes also stored under the stairwell to see if perhaps one of us had accidentally placed the missing items in one of them. Four of the boxes had no Christmas items. The fifth and final box was my last hope. The bad news is there were no Christmas items in it either; the good news is all of the accompaniment tapes and cds were! What a miracle that was!

As I was backing out of the stairwell, my eyes fell upon a shelving unit across the way. One of the bins had a red lid. Really, a RED lid? I raced across the room, and to quote a well know poem – “what to my wondering eyes should appear?” – our missing decorations! Miracle number two within a space of 15 minutes. Miracles abound! Just sayin’

A few nights later I took one of our grandkids to ball practice. When  we arrived at the gym, the parking lot was full and I had to park farther from the door than I wanted. Due to COVID concerns only the athletes are allowed in the gym, so I settled down in my car to spend the next two hours visiting with the characters in the novel I was reading.

An hour after we arrived another team finished their practice, and parking spaces closer to the door opened up. When I turned the key, my car would not start. The battery needed a jump start. Roadside assistance gave me a window that would be after the practice was over, and we’d be much later getting home. Not long after I placed the call, the tow truck driver called me and said she’d be there in 12 minutes. 12 minutes! She arrived, jump started my car, I moved closer to the door, and was ready to head home when practice was over. Miracles abound!

The very next night on a rainy drive home, the back window of our SUV decided to get stuck in the down position.  Atlanta traffic is bad anytime, but on a cold rainy night with a window open, it’s worse! I pressed the button to raise the window numerous times, to no avail! I did everything I could think of to get that window up. Nothing. Nada. As the rain came down in sheets, and as the other cars roared passed, I prayed: “Dear God, I need a miracle. I need the window to come up.” My prayer was barely off my lips when I pressed the button again, and slowly my window closed. Miracles abound!

Some may say all of my examples were coincidences. I KNOW they were miracles. Miracles don’t have to be huge like the  parting of the Red Sea. Most miracles are small, quiet acts of God, just enough to let us know we aren’t alone. God is ALWAYS with us.

The next time you experience something that one might call a coincidence, embrace it as a miracle. They abound, you know.

See you next time,