My mother had one dream and that was to become a published author. She had written several children’s stories and I remember her reading them to me when I was smaller. I remember her sending out letters to publishers and receiving rejection letters from them. I remember seeing the disappointment on her face each time. At that point in my life I didn’t fully understand her pain, I do now.
She worked hard on her stories and poured everything she had into them. Even if the world thought her stories weren’t good enough, we did. One year for her birthday I decided that the best present we could give to her was something she had always wanted but had yet to achieve. I rallied my sister, brother-n-law, and husband together and we bought a small self publishing package. We took great care in hiding this from her. The book was already finished along with the artwork she had done herself, so it was not very long before the book was ready. I was very happy with how it turned out.
Her birthday was in July but the book was ‘live’ several weeks before that. I spoke with my sister and we both agreed we couldn’t wait anymore. We had to give it to her early. The publisher had sent a ‘Congratulations New Author’ letter that I had hidden away, so I grabbed it along with my camera. I remember it very well. My sister and I, along with my father (who had known about it for a while and was bursting at the seams to tell her) gathered with my mom in the kitchen. She realized something was up when I handed her the manila envelope and snapped a photo.
She pulled the letter out and began to read, her facial expressions were priceless. She was confused at first but as she read the letter she began to cry. She looked up at us with this ‘What does this mean?’ look, that’s when my sister pulled the book out from behind her back.
My mother cried for weeks. Years of rejection letters slipped into the past as she looked over her first published work. We got plenty of photos.
My mother thanked us and began to call everyone she knew to tell them the good news. My mother’s first work, Mr. Book’s Story, was published in 2008. She was blessed enough to have a few book signings where the community showed much love and support. My mother loved children and wanted nothing more than to see them succeed in anything they put their hearts and minds to.
My mother passed away in 2010 leaving behind her works and many broken hearts.
She was the first to encourage me to write, to edit my work, and coach me on what to do next. Her Keepers, Fallow, and the rest of my work(s) would not have been possible without her.
Happy Mothers Day
I was running the front line at the pharmacy when I got the sudden urge to tinkle. Yes, I said tinkle. I can’t speak for anyone else but I for one cannot hold it all day, I can assure you there would be an accident.
I had worked at the grocery store for a while, I had somehow impressed the manager and so he added training new people to my list of things to do. On this particular day I had seen him coming for me before he even got across the store, he had with him a new employee and I knew the words that were about to come out of his mouth.
“I need you to train her,” was the only thing he said before he turned to take care of another customer.
The girl and I smiled at each other in awkward silence. My line was filling up so I made the suggestion that she bag while I rang up customers. She could watch and learn for a little while and then we’d trade places. She agreed and began to bag as I scanned.
The first twenty minutes or so she was spot on with watching me and bagging but I noticed she was slowing down a bit. I didn’t want to say anything, it was her first day and maybe she was just nervous. I however couldn’t slow down because customers wouldn’t have it.
The more time went on (about five to ten minutes) the slower she got; I would glance over at her quickly but continued to scan. Finally I noticed her moving towards me, which made me uncomfortable; I’m a big fan of personal space. It wasn’t really noticeable I suppose, she’d only take a small step towards me at a time. I had never had this happen before, I had trained lots of people and they just seemed to take off with it. I wasn’t sure what to do, plus I realized that this girl was someone I had gone to school with and she didn’t particularly like me.
Which made it even more uncomfortable when she pushed up against me and laid her head on my shoulder; I froze. She had stopped bagging entirely at this point. I managed a startled, “What are you doing?”
She pulled her head off my shoulder and whispered, “I don’t feel good. I’m really dizzy.”
That took some of the awkwardness away and I told her to go to the office and sit down for a bit. I glanced up at her as she nodded and I noticed her color wasn’t particularly great. It wasn’t until she was turned fully away from me that she dropped like a ton of brick towards me. Still to this day, I’m not sure how I managed to catch her under her arms but I did. I was struggling to hold her up when I realized she was white as a ghost and his lips were turning blue.
I don’t handle medical emergencies very well so it’s no shock that I panicked. I was afraid to lay her down, so I kept this girl dangling in my arms. I glanced up and noticed one of my managers was on the register behind me. I kept remembering people telling me on numerous occasions to never panic in times like these; I didn’t listen.
When I shouted my mangers name it came out more alarming than I meant it to but it sprung him into action. He shot away from his register to my side. Only I think I scared him too much, when he went to grab her around the waist to help me, he actually grabbed me and her. He lifted us both in the air for a split second before he said, “Will have to put her down, she’s out.”
I thought, put HER down!
He sat us back down and helped me get her to the ground, all the while my customer watched on. Someone—somewhere called 911 and the EMS arrived. She started coming around when they put her on the gurney.
NOT EVEN a week later I was working the self check out station when someone asked for a pack of cigarettes. I had to go to the office to get them. When I opened the door there was a different cashier standing there, almost in a daze. I was startled at first because no one just stands in the doorway. As I took her in I realized something was wrong.
I was only able to get out, ‘are you’ before she too dropped like a ton of bricks backwards away from me. In my shock I reached out and grabbed her arm, thinking I could do something about it. I couldn’t. I ended up landing on top of her as she catapulted us into the office. A manager was sitting there working on something when we came crashing in.
She screamed, “Oh my—what’s wrong?”
Exasperated I yelled, “Just call 911!”
The cashier was already coming to when I yelled. I scrambled to get off of her because wouldn’t that be weird to wake up with someone sitting on top of you.
I sat there in the floor beside her as the EMS checked her out, simply amazed at my luck. Not one but two cashiers fainted on me in a week. Swell.
I lieu of the holiday, I’ll be sharing my regularly scheduled blogs a week late. The story that I'm sharing with you today, is more important than anything I'll ever say or write. Have a blessed Easter everyone!
24 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
8 And they remembered his words,
9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
10 It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told
these things unto the apostles.
11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are
18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
43 And he took it, and did eat before them.
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be
fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
When I taught Children’s Church, way back in the day, I made it a point to make time for the kids to pray. They prayed for themselves, their friends, their family, and anything that was bothering them or worrying them. I did this for a few reasons, to teach them how to pray, why we pray, and to show them that it really does help.
On this particular morning I asked the class if they had anything they wanted to pray about. One of my girls hand shot straight up, she waved it around urgently.
“What would you like to pray about?” I asked.
“I want to pray for my friend Dora,” she told me, “She needs help and I want God to protect her.”
Can do. I wasn’t sure who her friend was but if she needed help and protection then that’s what we will pray for. I planned to ask details later on the little girl, maybe she knew her from school.
So I began my prayer, asking God to be with her, help her, keep her safe, and provide whatever she needed to get through her trails.
I remember hearing the little girl at the table saying, “Yes, yes,” every time I asked for guidance and protection for her friend. She was really intent on getting the message to God about her friend.
Soon the prayer was over and it was snack time. Our room was connected to the nursery and during snack time we would share our snack with the nursery. That day my sister and her friend had the nursery. I opened to the door to deliver the snacks only to find my sister and her friend, lying on the floor, tears streaming from their eyes as they tried their best to control their laughter. They covered their mouths to stifle their laughs so they wouldn’t disturbed the congregation right outside their door.
“What’s so funny?” I asked confused.
After my sister finally got herself under control, she explained that Dora was indeed the little girl’s friend but she was also best friends with millions of little girls around the world- because she was a cartoon.
Y’all, I prayed for Dora the Explorer.
Eh—The heart of a child.
I was working in the pharmacy when one of our elderly customers, whom we had known for some time now, came in to introduce us to his new wife. It was a surprise to us because we hadn’t realized he was dating.
He deserved happiness though; he had lost a lot in his life and had been through some painful stuff. We all rushed down to meet the blushing bride, she was sweet and a little shy at first. She actually turned out to be very good for him in the long run. There were lots of questions after the initial hello. Where did you meet? How long have you been dating? When did you get married?
Turns out they had met just a few weeks ago and gotten married the previous week, they were just getting back into town. He was so excited to tell us all about the wedding and it was obvious he was in love. He beamed with pride over his new bride. Finally my pharmacist friend asked, where did you go on your honeymoon?
With a little more exuberance than necessary he shouted, “Straight to bed!”
Did you know that when sweet tea passes through your nostrils, it burns just like any other beverage?
After my mother helped me memorize the Lord’s Prayer, she decided it was time for me to learn other prayers. Everyday prayers, where you sit and talk to God, tell Him your problems, ask for help, or pray for someone. She would pray for friends or family and have me repeat after her, in order to show me how to do it. Eventually she asked me if I had anyone or anything I wanted to pray for, which I did. I had a handle on it pretty fast.
I realized how important this was and that, even though we may not see it right away, it helps. It helps us, those we pray for, and those we don’t even know about. Fine—got it. What I didn’t understand is the fact that my mother ended EVERY prayer with these words, “And God bless a saw.”
What the what? I mean I went with it, after every prayer I recited the same words, God bless a saw. I remember my mom telling me that, even though we may not know what to pray for exactly, God understands our heart. He knows what we are saying. Well that’s great but why are we throwing a random saw into the mix? Even if you weren’t sure what to pray for, couldn’t you have picked something else? Why in the world would we need to bless a saw?
I imagined one of those round circle saws. Those were pretty dangerous; a friend of ours almost lost his fingers once. The best I could come up with was, we were praying for the saw not to hurt people. It was a stretch but that’s all I had. Apparently this was an important topic because we said it after every prayer. I was a kid, what did I know? If mom was praying for it, there had to be a reason.
If you’ve read my previous blog, The Lord’s Prayer, you’ll recall that I was a CHILD with a hearing impairment and my mother had a thick southern accent. Well, here we are just a little while after my confusion with the Lord’s Prayer, blessing a saw.
Finally, I couldn’t take the not knowing. After our prayer, just after blessing that saw, I turned to my mom.
“Momma, why do we have to bless a saw?”
“Bless a what?” She replied confused.
“Bless a saw, why do we do it?”
“What are you talking about? What saw?”
“I don’t know, you keep talking about it though.”
“When did I say anything about a saw?”
“At the end, you keep saying God bless a saw!”
“I didn’t say God bless a saw. I said God bless us all!”
Ah…. My poor mother.
Compassion Fatigue in the rescue field is defined as emotional exhaustion, caused by the stress of caring for traumatized, abused, or sick animals.
Other names for Compassion Fatigue are burnout, secondary traumatic stress (STS), secondary victimization, vicarious traumatization, and secondary survivor. It has also been described as the ‘Cost of Caring’.
Studies are beginning to suggest that animal care professionals may be number one in vulnerability to Compassion Fatigue and Burnout.
What causes Compassion Fatigue? Here are a few items to focus on today.
What can you do to help yourself or someone else?
To the listener, here are a few things you can do to help.
Don’t ask them if they’re okay if you don’t care. If you ask someone suffering if they’re okay, they’re probably going to spill a lot of frustration and emotion on you depending on what they’re going through. The last thing you need to do is ask if you can help with no intentions of helping.
If they do begin to talk, LISTEN. Don’t interrupt, don’t share your unrelated stories, don’t tune out, and don’t make jokes to lightening the mood. If they’re asking you to listen, that’s just what they need you to do.
Lastly, snuggle an animal. It doesn’t even matter what kind. They can all sooth the pain. My rescue friends know what I mean.
Join me next time as we dive deeper into Compassion Fatigue.
If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide, please speak up. Know that you’re not alone.
In honor of the holiday, I give you something green to laugh at. Enjoy!
I was working the night shift in a grocery store with a friend of mine when these fellows walked it. My friend grew up in another country and there was no hiding it with his accent. He was funny and sweet but sometimes I worried about him. This particular night was slow and we were discussing a school related topic when I saw them walk in.
Three men with black army boots and trench coats walked through the doors. One had shorter hair while the other two had longer hair than mine. They carried a presence about them that gave them away as soon as they entered the door. My manager perked up and watched them walk past us towards the back of the store.
Now before we get into the ‘You’re judging them for their looks’ argument. I didn’t. Most of the kids I hung out with in school wore this same apparel and I loved them dearly, they were—in my opinion—some of the nicest kids to ever walk those halls. In all honesty I’d rather be around them than most people. What I judged was the air and presence about them; you could tell they were up to something just by the way they walked by. It doesn’t matter what they look like, its how they presented themselves.
Now that we’re clear on that..
My friend, we will call him Sam, also picked up on it and mentioned it. I told him to just stay away from them and he should be fine. I was hoping they didn’t check out through my line. A few minutes later they walked back to the front of the store and walked right out the doors. I figured they stole something and would run but they didn’t, they parked themselves right outside the front door and lit up a joint. A joint.
I caught my manager exiting the office headed towards the back. Sam followed him. It wasn’t long at all before Sam and my manager hurried back to the office, I watched as my manager made a phone call. Behind the glass I couldn’t hear what he was saying but I knew he was talking to the police. Sam trotted over to me.
“Those guys trashed the bathroom.” He said, “It’s a mess back there.”
Apparently these men had knocked over the trash cans, stopped up the toilets, threw toilet paper everywhere, and left the water running. Cute. I watched the men as I rang up customers. They stood there talking and laughing, finishing their joint. Sam went back to the bathrooms to clean up their mess. My manager was also watching them, waiting for the police to arrive.
In about fifteen minutes Sam came back.
“The cops are not here yet?” He asked.
“No not yet.” I told him.
“Okay. I’ll be right back.”
He was headed for the doors when I stopped him.
“Sam, what are you doing?”
“I’m going to go get buggies.” He said pointing outside.
“No Sam. Wait until the police get here. They may hurt you.”
“Ah you worry too much.” He told me in his thick accent, “It’ll be okay. I’ll just go get buggies and come back.”
“You better stay in here Sam.” I yelled after him.
Of course Sam didn’t listen; he smiled at me as he headed straight out the door right towards those men. What happened next was the most random thing I’d had ever seen (up until that point in my life). Sam walked by the men and smiled at them in greeting; one of them pointed to his smock and said something (of course I can’t hear it). Sam looked down at his smock and nodded his head, he seemed a bit confused, like what the man said didn’t make sense but he agreed anyway. When the guy said something else, I watched as Sam’s face flooded with panic. I could tell Sam said, “What?”
And then pandemonium erupted, whatever the man said last scared Sam enough to make him run. The three men took off after him. I screamed thinking they’d kill him. They disappeared into the parking lot. I was just beginning to think they had caught him when he entered the front doors on the opposite side of the store. Sam came running across the front end of the store, sprinting as hard as he could with these men hot on his heels yelling, “Help me, help me!”
The terror on this kid’s face was unbelievable. It all happened so fast I didn’t have time to react.
He exited out the door in front of me again, sprinting into the dark parking lot; still screaming. I looked up just in time to catch the confused look on my manager’s face. Had I not thought Sam was going to die, this would have been funny. Sam entered the opposite door for a second time, about halfway down the front end he looked at me and yelled, “Help me! Make them stop!”
Yeah, that’ll work, I thought. But desperate times call for desperate measures so I yelled, “Hey, stop!”
Brilliantly worded, I know. Don’t expect a lot from me when I’m under pressure. Sure enough, it went just about as well as I thought it would, they ignored me and chased Sam out the door again.
This time, they didn’t come back. My manager ran outside to find him, only to come back in a few minutes later smiling. Sam was right behind him. Apparently the police had showed up and saved Sam. He walked over to my register panting for breath.
“What happened?” I cried looking him over.
“They wanted my smock.” He gasped.
“They wanted my smock. They didn't like the color green.”
“They were chasing you for your green smock?” I asked exasperated.
“Yes, but I didn’t want to give it to them. It was mine.” He told me.
Oh Sam, bless your heart.
Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!