The Hand Basket

Why can’t we just get along?

I’m currently reading Polarized, an amazing book that explores the critical divisions now facing our country. One author is a retired minister and the other is an atheist. They have been best friends since childhood, and they both hold doctorates in their respective fields.

Their hearts are broken because of the awful divisions in our country. I am also heart broken, and have been for several years.

A few of my previous blogs have touched on this subject, and since I continue to have deep feelings about the division, I continue to write in the hopes my words can make a difference. I’m still searching for a way to be part of the solution.

In order to be part of the solution, one must know what the problem/or problems is/are. As I’ve been reading Polarized, I’ve realized one of the main problems is we as a country have lost our ability to be civil.

When I say “we”, I mean the leaders we have elected to lead our nation. The people we voted into office have failed as a collective group to guide us in the direction we should go. Sadly, “we” also means us as we get caught up in their fight, and are not civil to those in our circles who have opinions that differ from  ours.

Instead of leading the UNITED States of America, our Congress continue to demonize one another along party lines, and push their own  agendas without even trying to hear the other side.

All one has to do is listen to or watch the past several States of the Union addresses to know that is the true picture of our Congress.

Had I been the President, this is what I would have said:

The State of the Union is that we are going to hell in a hand basket. Anyone in this room wanting to truly sit down and figure out TOGETHER how to turn this hand basket around, stay in your seats. I’m ordering Door Dash on my dime, and we’re going to break bread together and make a plan. To the citizens of the United States watching this address, have a good evening, and know that those of us who choose to stay love our country and we love you. We WILL make a plan! Good night and God bless.

Then the cameras would have been removed, the food requests taken and ordered, and we as the people you voted into office would have come up with a plan.

You may say, or think, I’m naive, and maybe I am. However, I still believe the majority of people in our country are good. If we can find our way back to civility, we as THE PEOPLE can turn this hand basket around.

We can decry the words of the extremists on both sides of the aisle in Congress, and WE THE PEOPLE can and will become the PEOPLE WHO MAKE DIFFERENCE.

It’s like a song I used to sing in youth choir. The words were: It only takes a spark to get a fire going.

Let’s be the spark, y’all.

See you next time,

Be Content, Be Happy, Enjoy Life

The above photo is our dog, Penny, sunning herself in our backyard. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with my title, but it does. She’s content, she’s happy, she’s enjoying life.

We’re not promised tomorrow. We’re not promised do overs.

Time spent worrying about what we don’t have, or arguing with those with whom we disagree, or envying those who seem to have more than we do, is time spent wasting our lives.

The holiday season will be extremely sad for those who will be experiencing a “first” without their partner, without their mom, without their dad, without their sibling, without their friend or other family members with whom they were close.

Each of us at one time or another, has walked that awful road.

Many of us have regrets for things said or done, or things unsaid and not done, until it was to late too make it right or too late to do whatever we should have.

Yes, I’m in a melancholy mood as I write this today. I have regrets.

The key to not having those regrets is to live each day as if it’s our last. To make sure the people we love KNOW we love them. To treat others as we want to be treated.

Life is short. Make the most of yours. Follow your heart. Chase your dreams. Be content. Be happy. Enjoy life.

See you next time,


The Golden Rule ALWAYS Applies (Even in SEC Football)

“Really, God, the Golden Rule applies to SEC football?”

“Yes, Debi, it does. Even when your beloved DAWGS lose.”

God and I discuss everything important to me, so yes, the above conversation took place.

For those of you not familiar with college football, the SEC is the Conference that at this writing has 7 teams in the top 25 AP College Poll.

There are two divisions in the SEC.

The SEC-East is comprised of the: Georgia Bulldogs (aka DAWGS), Tennessee Volunteers, South Carolina Gamecocks, Kentucky Wildcats, Florida Gators, Missouri Tigers, and Vanderbilt Commodores.

The SEC-West is comprised of the: Alabama Crimson Tide, LSU Tigers, Mississippi Rebels, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Auburn Tigers, Texas A&M Aggies, and Arkansas Razorbacks.

The above lists are in the order of their current standings at this writing.

I have many family members and many close friends who pull for their various teams in the SEC, as well as other conferences around the country.

Sometimes we forget the Golden Rule during college football season.

The picture above is of a shirt that was apparently sewn just for me according to several of my relatives and friends. It’s meant to be a joke, but is it? Have I, at times, forgotten the Golden Rule when my DAWGS lost?

I’m ashamed to admit that in years past I was not a good loser.

A not so gentle reminder of the Golden Rule a few years back, changed my reaction to losses. A cousin of mine totally rubbed it in when my DAWGS lost to his team!

The Golden Rule is found in Matthew 7:12 in the New Testament. The New Living Translation reads: Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This  is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

These are the words of Jesus.

I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t like it rubbed in when my team loses. So, if I’m to live as Jesus said, I can’t rub it in when my team wins.

After I honestly embraced the Golden Rule, I learned to say to my family members and friends, “good game”, rather than ignoring them or acting as if they had personally offended me.

If you watch football, the Golden rule is practiced after every game. The coaches meet at mid-field, and they and the players hug and shake hands with the other team,

God smiles.

I’ve witnessed church going people act totally inappropriately the Sunday after a Saturday game. Until God got hold of my heart, I was one of them.

The Golden Rule isn’t a suggestion. It’s a lifestyle. Not only in football, but also in everything we do.

So let’s live it! Let’s treat others as we want to be treated. It will make all the difference in our lives – in our world.

See you next time,

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,