Thursday, June 9, 2011


Gracie has squeezed in next to me as tightly as her fat little backside will allow!

And I must admit the truth – I love it. For all my fuming and fussing about this stupid fur ball and her trouble-making, I love having her next to me.

I still maintain that Frank and the kids chose to give me a shih tzu just so I could say what she is on really rough days. “Little Shih Tzu!!” (Outright cursing is frowned upon for ordained ministers. And especially for Southern lady ministers! Smile.)

There’s just a comfort in having her chubby black and white, mottled-fur body squished against me during my early morning quiet. And usually Bella drapes her big blond body over my feet. Not so delicately, but comforting still.

While meeting with a grieving family yesterday, we saw the gentleman who gave Bella to Frank. Thought you might enjoy the story………

It was Friday and I was working around the house. Frank had gone back to the office to put the finishing touches on Sunday’s sermon. And I was looking forward to some relax time once he finally got home.

When the phone rang and I spotted his number, I couldn’t help but wonder what delay had occurred.

“Sheri, are you sitting down?” His excitement level was off the charts.

“No, but I can be,” was my tentative reply. I pulled out a chair from the dining room table.

“Oh, Honey! Do you believe in the providence of God?!” Okay, so now he had me in the vortex. My mind literally swirled with the possibilities.

The “Providence of God”? It sounded like a truly amazing revelation was coming. A miracle moment!

“Well, we’ve been praying for the property next to the church,” I thought. “Has someone donated it to us?!” My knees went weak.

“Or maybe this is about our own school loans from the girls’ college experiences. Have they been erased?!” My palms began to sweat.

“Oh, my. Has the city asked Frank to be involved in some project?!” My imagination ran wild with possibilities in that split second.

Frank rushed on enthusiastically, “Sheri, this is a miracle! I just got a phone call and you’ll never believe this!”

I could hardly breathe, the anticipation was so heavy.

“ Honey, do you know how I’ve always said I’d love to have a Labrador retriever? Well, Fay’s brother just called me and he has been given a beautiful yellow lab. They are looking for a home and will give it to us for FREE! Can you believe it, Sheri? FREE!! I’m coming to pick you up so we can go look at it. Isn’t this amazing?!

I went totally silent.

First of all, he had always said he wanted a golden retriever, not a Labrador. Secondly, I have never wanted either one without a fenced-in yard and a large dog house located outside! Third, how could a DOG ever qualify as the “providence of God” – even a free dog?

“Honey, are you there?” His voice had all the excitement of a six year old boy on Christmas morning.

“Uh, yes. I’m here.” I tried my best to sound a little enthused.

He continued; oblivious to any hesitation in my voice. “She’s already house-broken. She has all her shots. And they’re giving us everything – her papers, her kennel, her food and water bowls – everything! I just can’t believe this!”

“Uh, Frank. Why are the people getting rid of her?” My question was cautious.

“Oh, they never were home to walk her or play with her. And you know labs, they need exercise.” His joy knew no bounds.

(Please remember that I was, at that moment, home alone, on our day off because Frank was at the office still. Just exactly who did he think was going to exercise this horse if it came to live at our house?!)

“So, are you excited? This will be great! You want to go with me to see her, don’t you?”

“Um, honey. Where will she stay if we take her?” The time for being delicate was coming to a close. This man had already moved a horse-dog into my house. He had visions of the two of them romping through meadows and riding the countryside with truck windows down.

Two problems with that vision: there aren’t any meadows near us and we don’t own a truck!

“She’ll stay in her kennel, Sheri. Really this is NOT going to be a problem. Let’s just go look at her. I’ll be right there.”

In the fifteen minutes it took for him to get home, I wracked my brain for supportive ways to say, “I don’t want another dog! Especially not a BIG dog!”

Nothing was coming to mind.

As we drove to the home of Fay’s brother, Frank talked non-stop about what a blessing this was. If he noticed that my enthusiasm didn’t match his, he didn’t mention it. We were on a quest to procure his dream dog!

We pulled up to a huge yard, fully surrounded by a chain link fence. I hoped this would be a sign to Frank. A big, yellow lab came galloping toward our Tahoe. Ears flopping; tongue wagging; spit flying.

“Oh, Father,” I prayed silently. “If you’ve ever given me wisdom, I need it now! Help me get out of this without hurting Frank’s feelings. That dog is NOT going home with us!”

Famous last words.

As I finish writing this post, Bella is lying at my feet. But her eyes are trained intently on our bedroom door. She is waiting for the love of her life to come out and give her head an absent-minded scratch.

It’s what she lives for. Well that, and some time playing catch with a tennis ball in the back yard. Thank heavens she is easily amused.

Yes, we became the proud owners of our very own horse-dog that day. Spencer will probably put a bridle on her and enjoy riding around at some point.

But the truth is, she’s never had an accident in the house. She eats very little for such a big dog. She loves Frank and tolerates me rather well. She has huge brown eyes that drip with love and affection. And a perpetually wagging tail that comes in pretty handy on days when I haven’t dusted the coffee table. (Just kidding!!!)

My message for you today, dear readers? Beware phone calls from loved ones that start out with “Are you sitting down?!”

They could just think they’ve located the providence of God! Smile.


  1. I really, REALLY loved this story and the way you told it. Please tell me you use this story in some of your speaking events. With your gift for drama, it would be a show stopper!


  2. Laughing hard!!! Glad to know I am not the only one who gets those kind of phone calls/offers. In times like this they (spouses) really don't notice our lack of excitement toward their adding another "family member."