What’s Love Got To Do With It?


SECRETS OF THE OLD LADIES CLUB

Guess what?  I got a phone call from a fan!  eeeeekkk!  I did, from a real fan!  I saw stars, my head started spinning, and my chest kinda puffed out a little bit.  A man who actually read my book (Secrets of the Old Ladies’ Club) called me to say he enjoyed it.  And so did his mother.  I was elated – surprised, but elated.   Actually it was a humbling experience because it has been a while since it was published.  I didn’t purchase a marketing package when I self-published with IUniverse because I put all the funds I could muster up into publishing the book.  That was it.  Tapped out.  But I was happy with that.  My goal was to tell a story that was rolling around in my head bumping on the inside of my skull to get out.  And I was able to accomplish #1 on my bucket list.  For me, it isn’t about the money I coulda, woulda, shoulda made.  Trust me, I would have been happy to make a lot of money, but realistically speaking, I wasn’t going to hold my breath.  I think my first royalty check was for – ummm- $31.   Are you suitably impressed?  Perhaps if I had purchased a marketing package I would have done better.  Who knows and who cares?  All I can tell you is that phone call from the fan made a huge impact on me.  And not for the reasons one might think.  It was because of the impact my book had on this man’s life.  Yeah.  Let’s talk about a humbling experience!

So it went like this:  I had contact from this man some time back.  He heard about Secrets from someone I knew and wanted to read it.  I was more than happy to send him a copy.  When he called me the other night, it was to tell me he loaned it to his mother before reading it himself.  And now that he was nearly finished reading it, felt compelled to tell me what it meant to him.  At this point in the conversation my heart stopped.  What was going on?  He was struggling to control his emotions.  Through the phone line I could hear him choking back the tears that rendered him unable to utter the words his heart wanted me to hear, the very purpose for his phone call.  But he needn’t have worried.  I heard him loud and clear and my heart was moved.  How could it not be?  A forty something grown man going to pieces because of something I wrote?  Unheard of.  Plenty of women have told me they enjoyed the book.  A couple of men told me they enjoyed the book, but hey, they are related to me so they kinda have to say that.  I’ve had a ton of wonderful, great reviews with the exception of two: one said don’t waste your money, another said it must have been written by a 14 year old.  Haha!  I let it roll off my back.  But I digress.  Back to the fan.  When he was finally able to gather himself, he said “I am that gay boy”.   He said I nailed it on the head regarding the ways he identified with my book.  He said he finally found someone who understood what his life was like.  I was floored.  And humbled.  And thrilled.  His reaction was something real, something more than I ever expected.  What did I tell him?  I said that if for no other reason than for him to read my book, I was glad I wrote it.  And glad I fought to save enough money to publish it. For one person to have such a strong reaction is more than I ever dreamed of.  Accomplishing #1 on my bucket list turned into something more.

Let me take this one step further.  I’m going to involve God in the equation.  I can say this for certain that He does know the desires of our hearts and longs to see them fulfilled.  That’s not just for me, but for all.  If the desires of your heart fall within the perimeters of His will for your life, He will stop at nothing to see that your heart is fulfilled.  I know that to be the truth.  Of course, sometimes our desires are outside His will for our lives.  I’ve had that happen before too.  I wanted to be – , I wanted to have – , I wanted to do – .   but you know what?  Growing in relationship with the Lord changes things.  The more you get to know Him, the more you want to know Him.  And then the more the desires of your heart change.  They quietly kinda slip to the back burner until one day you discover that the desires of your heart include, first and foremost, that all you want is to do is His will!  To follow Him closely, snuggle up under His arm, and allow Him to be God to us.  In retrospect, it would seem that the desires of our hearts make a path straight to His heart and His desires for us.  It opens a way for us to learn how to love and grow in love.  That’s His message, isn’t it?  To love always?  That’s the way I see it.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to properly assume what God is thinking these days.  Did you watch the Republican Presidential Debate last night?  Good Lord in heaven!  The topics alone will bring a saint to their knees.  ISIS, abortion, gay marriage, social security, jobs, immigration, building a wall separating the United States and Mexico.  Oh, then there is balancing the budget, Hillary bashing, Obama bashing, bashing each other.  One thing I found interesting is that, when pressed, pretty much every candidate declared a strong belief in God.  I liked Ted Cruz’s answer when asked if, because he’s a Christian, God speaks to him.  He said yes, on a daily basis, God speaks through the Bible.  What a beautiful thing to say!   I seem to recall that later he went on to say that God wants us to love one another.  Well.  How do you like that?  I was waiting for the gay bashing to take place.  Thankfully I was wrong.  I’m so tired of it.  I’m tired of all this hating.  I’m not even remotely related to God so I can’t say what His take is on it, although I have seen all the scriptures concerning the “abomination”.   I’m tired of people looking at gays and lesbians as if they have two heads and three eyes.  What’s the matter, don’t people understand God loves them as well?  We are all His people, His love!   Why get all freaked out and homophobic?  (disclaimer: I am married to a homophobe, yet I still love him with all my heart.)  I say we should all reserve our judgment for worse things, like abortion, war, murder, starving children, etc.  And then, in love, do something about those instead of working to make certain people feel like less than they are.  Amen?

bear

Pray for peace, people!  The world needs your prayers!

NaBloPoMo #6


When I took on this challenge to post to my blog every day for 30 days, I thought I would never come up with enough interesting matter to fill the month.

I was right.

So I am going to tell you about my plan to do everything on my Bucket List. The problem is that as I cross off one thing, two things take it’s place! Isn’t that the way it always is?

Anyway, for many years I have wanted to learn how to play the piano. I dreamed of it. I longed for it. It never crossed my mind that I actually would be able to do it. And yet, thanks to the generosity of my husband and a very good friend, a beautiful Baldwin piano sits in my living room. This is more than learning how to play. It’s more than satisfying my quest to do ‘things’ before I die. What it really is about is confidence, self esteem, and overcoming many issues. Not to dwell on the past or share a woe-is-me sob story that may or may not be as real as remembered, but I grew up with zero self esteem. Whether it was because of my family environment, my extreme shyness, or the inner dialog in my head, I was always the one to hang back and not join in or abandon my fears to reach for the stars.

Whatever.

When I started my bucket list many years after I grew up, I added things to it that I truly wanted to do at some point, but deep inside never had the confidence to start. I had to challenge myself. I had to overcome a lot of obstacles like fibromyalgia, clinical depression, and a huge tendency to rely on stinkin’ thinkin’. But I was determined that I would do something on my list, anything just to prove to myself that I could. What followed was just weird. As I began to finish and cross off bucket list tasks, I started feeling different. It didn’t happen overnight and it began with #1 on the list. My heart’s desire was to write a book. It took me three years to do it but I did. It’s not perfect, probably could still use some work, and it is self-published, but I love it. Oh not because, to my surprise, it has been received well, but because it gave me the shot in the ass I needed to begin nurturing a little I-can-do-it attitude.

This brings me to another bucket list item, my piano. I bought a piano instructional manual for adult beginners, and I opened the first page. It looked simple enough. Right hand black keys, left hand black keys. Moving on to the white keys one hand at a time. Then both hands, first one than the other playing a tune from childhood memory simple enough for an adult beginner to bravely put fingers (and heart) in position to learn. It’s only taken a few weeks to learn the Alphabet Waltz, Joy to the World, Ode to Joy, and The River Is Wide. I haven’t learned about chords, major, minor whatevers, and timing, But I am having so much fun. And like writing a book, I am going to keep plugging at it until I am satisfied that I’ve learned all I can. I have visions of playing along with a Yanni cd someday. LOL! A girl can dream can’t she? After all isn’t that what it’s all about – reaching for your dreams? Besides, if I have learned anything on this journey, I have learned this: You never stop learning, that is, if you don’t want to. I don’t want to stop learning. I feel like I was a late bloomer and now is the time to catch up.

a dream come true

a dream come true

What would you love to do/learn now at this point in your life? Believe in yourself and do it. God will smile with you.

By the way, don’t forget to pray for peace. Please.

Book of the Month! NaBloPoMo #3


book cover
A couple of nights ago a delightful woman by the name of Virginia Kerth called to interview me. Me, the small town old gal who lives in the woods, me. She wanted me to know that it was her turn to choose the book of the month for her book club. And she chose mine. She chose mine! A book club in Kansas is going to read Secrets of the Old Ladies’ Club. They will meet afterwards, review it, discuss it, chew on it for a while and then decide whether or not it is a good read. I am beyond thrilled!

Virginia is such a sweet person that I wanted to interview her. We talked on the phone like long lost friends finding each other at last. Without giving any details of her private life, I can tell you that she is an avid book reader (duh), and apparently a social butterfly. She must know how to entertain as well because she told me her plans for the book club meeting which will be at her home, include creating the refreshments around all things Louisiana and the Old Ladies’ Club. Isn’t that a hoot? She will be serving shrimp, pecan pie and rum drinks with little umbrellas in them. (You have to read the book to understand that.)

By the time I hung up the phone, my head had swelled beyond what I thought it ever could. And then I got out of bed, put my slippers on, let the dogs go out, made the cat go out, fed the fish, and fixed a cup of blueberry tea. Then I got kind of scared. What if they don’t like it? What if it’s a bust? Virginia told me that she would let me know what the club thinks of it and she promised me she would tell me about ALL the reviews – good and bad. Ok, that will shrink a swelled head down to size in a hurry. So all I could do was talk to God about it. I realized He has always given me the desires of my heart. And I know He has great plans for me. And I believe that through Him I can soar like eagles. What the heck am I worried about? I am so weird.

I think the night Virginia called was the same day I found out that my book is on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17397862-secrets-of-the-old-ladies-club?ac) and on Books A Million online (http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Secrets-Old-Ladies-Club/Nan-Tubre/9781475975123?id=5831605601006). Can you imagine that? I got so excited about it I am hosting a book give-away on the Goodreads site. I’m giving away a copy to five lucky people. You’ll have to go here to enter: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway. The last day to enter is Dec 3rd and Goodreads will select the winners.

I also have a give-away on my facebook author page. It runs through November 15th. All you have to do is find the post mentioning the give-away, share it with your friends and ‘like’ my page. My two year old granddaughter will select that winner. Don’t ask.

Oh, and how could I forget…if you want a copy of my book, send a message to me and I give you the details.

It would be a huge help to me if you would offer a comment or two here. Don’t be shy, share me with your friends! I’ll just love you forever for that.

And don’t forget to pray for peace.

Crossing off the Bucket List!


Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Who knew life after 50 could be so much fun?? And I say that with no sarcasm whatsoever. I am deep into my 50’s and the funny part about that is that I didn’t have a clue about life until middle age began it’s uphill climb over my being. I hear people talk about their high school years being the best time of their life. I’ve heard people say early marriage and motherhood ‘completed’ them. I have even heard one or two people wish they were a child again. Not me. Nope. I wouldn’t trade motherhood for anything in the world (mostly because I have the most adorable grandchildren) but as far as high school and childhood – you can have ’em. The simple fact is, for a late bloomer like myself, hitting that 50 mark was like getting permission to finally have a life. Suddenly, young people call me “ma’am”. I seem to have acquired respect through no effort of my own, although I will admit that the first time I was asked if I wanted a senior citizen discount, I was just a pinch offended. Of course, now I ask for it. Hey. It’s been earned.

Along with garnering respect, another perk of aging is suddenly realizing that you can do anything your little heart desires. Confidence is no longer elusive, it’s a new friend. For example, I confidently do not color my hair any longer. Screech. Yes, it’s true. Let the grays come on down! What does it matter? Who cares? My husband told me the other day I’m starting to look like a silver fox. I haven’t figured out if that’s a good thing or not, but it doesn’t really matter anyway. I choose wear it confidently. It’s all good.

I am living life actively and happily now more than at any other time in my life. A by-product of that is the development of my own Bucket List. You know what that is, I’ve written about it before, taking inspiration from the fab movie of the same name. If you recall, the number One spot on my Bucket List was to write a book. Joyfully, I can cross that off the list. I wrote and published my own book, Secrets of the Old Ladies’ Club (available on amazon, B&N, etsy, and a few shops locally). Yes, I’m aglow. And I intend to write more books, actually, a few more are in the wings.

Age and confidence gave me permission to add many things to my Bucket List and do way more than I ever really thought I could. What else, you say? I learned how to belly dance. Uh huh. It wasn’t pretty considering I am more belly than anything else, but at least I had the confidence to go for it. Again, who cares what my dancing looks like as long as I enjoy it? The truth is I crossed that off my Bucket List pretty early on. Some things just aren’t meant to be.

But my most most favorite favorite favorite thing to cross off my list is I am finally learning to play the piano! Imagine that! It’s something I have wanted to do since I was a child so when the opportunity to purchase a piano at a ridiculously low price (thanks again Mary!), I jumped at it. I can’t describe how excited I am. I guess if I would have had the opportunity when I was younger, I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I do today. The only regret I have is concerning my boys. I wish I could have given them the chance to learn how to play the piano. One of my sons did play the alto sax for a little while, but the other son never was musically inclined. Come to think of it, sax-boy wasn’t that instrumentally inclined, proof of which became evident when he traded said saxophone for a stereo when I wasn’t looking.

This much I have learned: The purpose of having a Bucket List is to give yourself permission to do that which you are passionate about. Awesome.

Here’s something else I am passionate about; creating art. I just finished a series of works with various interpretations of the Tree of Life. It’s not a new concept, just a new interpretation. It’s a subject we artists love because of the unique individual spin we can add to it. I constructed my trees using silver-plated, bronze, copper, and gold-tone wire, added semi-precious stone chips, glass beads, Swarovski crystal and charms. The symbolism includes three main roots to the tree (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), twelve branches (twelve tribes of Isreal), amethyst (royalty), sodalite (peace), aventurine and jade (new life), jasper and agate (earth) and a garnet to depict a ‘drop of His blood’. These are mounted within shadow boxes with backgrounds of religious connotations. I will be taking this line of art to a little shop down in Henderson, Louisiana tomorrow. The owner, Jennifer Casanova, is an art lover and she especially loves to offer home-grown Louisiana artwork in her store. If you get a chance, schedule a fly-by and tell her Nancy sent you!
https://www.facebook.com/casanovamarketshops

Bayou Religion

Bayou Religion


Tree of Life

Tree of Life


Word of God Tree of Life

Word of God
Tree of Life

Please don’t forget to pray for peace, ya’ll. The whole world needs your prayers.

And please don’t forget to drop a comment or like this post. I’ve been told when you do that, something really great will happen in your life! 😉 And that will make me very happy!

Here Comes Vicki Allen – Hang On To Your Hat!


Yes, I know it is a worn out cliché, but folks I swear if you look in the dictionary for Type A Personality, you would find a picture of Vicki Allen. To prove my point, let me list just a few of her titles and activities:
Pharmacist, drug store/restaurant owner, Mardi Gras Mask Maker and Krewe Member, Certified Zumba Instructor, Wife, Mother, Daughter,….. and my personal favorite – Author. Oh yeah, she likes scrapbooking and photography too. I have known for a long time that I would blog about her but our respective schedules are definitely not in sync, (imagine that) so I did the next best thing. I emailed her. The following post is a conglomeration of the answers she gave to my somewhat amateurish questions, and from my own observations from having met this little red-headed powerhouse in person a couple of times. Besides that, we are facebook friends, that being my only claim to her fame. But first, can I say how much she inspired me without even knowing it? It was probably 2002 or 2003. I can’t remember. Maybe it was 2001? Anyway, we were both set up in our booths at the Pecan Festival, she with her books and gift baskets, me with my paintings. I spotted her booth across the way and was drawn to the books. Luckily, I approached the booth at the same time a person I knew did and low and behold, she happened to know Vicki personally. I met her and was totally thrilled. I was talking to a real author! To make a short story simple, I took advantage of the moment and crammed every question I could think of about writing and publishing into my ten minutes of conversation with her. I can’t remember a lot of what we talked about, after all I was star struck, but I do remember one thing. She encouraged me to write. She encouraged me to believe that I could do it.

You know the rest of the story. It took me several years, but I took her advise and I wrote a few books. The first one I lost to cyber-space. That was shortly before I learned what a memory stick is. The second book – well, let’s just say that one never saw the light of a publisher’s day, and for good reason. It took on a life of it’s own and seemed to turn into an exorcism of every bad thing I could think of. Brrrrrr! Glad that one’s gone. The next one, I published. And I am very, very happy about that. By the way, thanks Vicki. Who is to say I could have done it without your encouragement that October day about a hundred years ago?

vicki_allen_color
Vicki Allen

So humor me a bit, people, the following ‘interview’ is pretty much elementary answer-and-question style without much literary embellishment. But I’m tellin’ you, she’s dynamite, so hang on!

Q: What inspired you to write?
A: Not quite sure how it started. I’ve been writing since around age 7 when I used to ride around the neighborhood on my bicycle building onto the stories that randomly popped into my head. As I got older, I began to jot them down. In fact, I developed the plot for what later became my first book, “For Molly” at age 16.

Q: How many books in print, how many working on now?
A: Currently four books in print: “For Molly,” “The Search for Shannon,” “The Return” and ”Drink One to Me, Christian Bennett” with three more in the works.

Q: How do you write more than one at a time?
A: I’ve learned over the years to write down all ideas, dialogue, descriptive passage, etc., as soon as they come to mind. Some remain vague scenes or random snippets of dialogue, while others develop into full-fledge manuscripts. The more appealing the idea, the more I tend to build on it. “The Return” started from a single paragraph I scribbled down while working on “The Search for Shannon” and grew steadily from there. Once I become engrossed in a storyline, it’s difficult for me to put it aside, even while in the middle of another project so ultimately, I bounce between them as the mood strikes.

Q. How has your family encouraged your work?
A. My entire family has always been incredibly supportive of my work, allowing me time and space to write, reading rough drafts, serving as sounding boards as I toss around ideas, and even accompanying me on book tours—and after four books and three-hundred-plus author events and signings, that says a lot.

Q. Where do you write?
A. I can write just about anywhere, which is why I keep a little notebook in my purse to jot down ideas as soon as they come. I’ve found that nothing is quite as good if I try to remember it later. If my notebook is not handy, any scrap of paper will do. The majority of my books were constructed from handwritten notes, typed pages and rubber-banded stacks of envelopes, scrap paper and Post-It Notes.

Q. Tell me about the hut.
A. The hut is my creative mecca – a freestanding office designed by my husband after he read an article about Oprah Winfrey’s backyard retreat. At the time, our sons were young; our house was loud, constantly filled with rambunctious boys and I was in desperate need of a quiet space to concentrate. To the untrained eye, the hut is sheer chaos—a disorganized cluttered space littered with beads/paint/feathers, photographs and haphazard piles of binder-clipped manuscript pages, but to me, it’s heaven…

hut1hut2
Where all the magic happens

Q. Live in the country?
A. We live on 2 acres backing up to a lake just outside the city limits. Close enough to still be in town, yet secluded enough to feel like we’re on vacation.
hut3

Q. How often do you write?
A. In an ideal world, I would write everyday. In reality, I write constantly in my head, but for the past couple of years, truly have only had pockets of time here and there to put a few passages on paper. Raising three children and owning a business have consumed much of our time, but now that our youngest child has started college, I am hoping to settle back into a daily routine.

Q: Character you love best?
A: Four-Way Tie: Susanna Robicheaux (For Molly), Lois Carson (The Search for Shannon), Doug Fairchild (For Molly), Javier Cabrera (Drink One to Me, Christian Bennett).

Q. Character you identify with?
A: As with most writers, there is a little bit of me in all of my characters. I don’t think one could pour as much heart and soul into creating them and not have at least some aspects of his own personality shine through. I identify most with my strong feminine characters – the take-charge types with vibrant spirits, dry wit and sharp tongues, which comes as a surprise to most of my readers. Where they are convinced they are meeting Ashley, they actually get Susanna. 😀

Q. Include friends as characters, names?
A. In all my books, only four characters are based on real people and only one of those carries the same first name.

Q. How does you separate work life, play life, writing?
A. Unfortunately, as noted above, work is the evil stepchild who presently demands the majority of my attention. When I do write, I prefer to hunker down in the hut at night or on my day off so I can get it all down without interruption. Play life? In short supply—Right now, play life is proportional to the time we can leave the pharmacy and get out of town 😀

Q. Awards?
A. The Search for Shannon was a fiction finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award.

for_molly_coverthe_return_coverthe_search_for_shannon_coverdrink_one_to_me_christian_bennett_cover

Parrino’s Drug Store In Beautiful Downtown Bunkie, Louisiana


DSCF6779

I’m beyond pleased that Parrino’s Drug Store is carrying my book now. I feel like I’ve hit the big time!

Let me tell you a little bit about beautiful downtown Bunkie, Louisiana. It’s a pinpoint spot on the map at the crossroads of Central and South Louisiana. I’ve been told Bunkie used to be a happenin’ little town. Coulda fooled me. I’ve known about this place for about 15 years now and it’s always been a sleepy, quiet, little town. It’s really very charming. When I first moved to the area (about 15 miles south of Bunkie – love brought me here 🙂 ) a Walmart lived here. And some delightful antique shops lived on Main Street across from the railroad track. There were about 3 or 4 car dealerships, a Dairy Queen, and a Chinese restaurant, a couple of furniture stores, two grocery stores, Winn Dixie and Piggly Wiggly. They say there used to be a clinic here too. Business used to be good; a couple of sign companies, a Coca Cola company, and I’m sure many more businesses were here. Bunkie used to have a bumpin’ Train Depot. The track slides through the middle of town and everyday, trains pass blowing their whistles ninety to nuthin’.

It’s different now. Winn Dixie closed. Walmart closed. Chinese restaurant closed. Car dealership shut down. Sign companies are gone. Antique stores look like they are taking a long nap. Even Dairy Queen left. McDonald’s weathered the economic downturn. So did Piggly Wiggly and City Drug. There are a couple of flower shops, several churches. Fred’s and Dollar Stores replaced Walmart.

The most awesome part about Bunkie is the people, I kid you not. I think the people living here love that down home feeling only a small town can deliver. People still walk to their neighbors, or to church. The kids go to school with the same friends from kindergarten to high school. Everyone knows each other and, can you believe it, a person can just say “will you put that on my tab?” and some enterprises will actually do that. You don’t see that much anymore. When I lived in Austin, Texas back in the 80’s, a person had to show three forms of identification to write a check!

Bunkie is historic. It’s a diamond in the rough, although it used to shine like a star a long time ago. I hope somebody else sees it for what it is and keeps it from dying a slow death. It’s a beautiful place.

DSCF6785

This is a photo of the Parrino Drug Store on Main Street. I’m sure it hasn’t changed on the outside for YEARS. But the inside – now that’s a different story. I love that store!

DSCF6784

It’s full of the neatest stuff! Ya’ll pile up in the wagon and go to Parrino’s! You won’t be sorry.

What about your town? Is it a treasure like Bunkie? Feel free to leave a comment on this post. I’d love to hear from you!

GIVING AN OLD MAN DIGNITY


I got a phone call from Mr. R, a sweet gentleman of nearly 90 years. “Can you clean up my schnauzer?” he asked. I can’t turn him down; he’s such a dear. Mr. R has been a cattleman his entire life, a successful one if you count that in his day, he had plenty of cattle, a nice big lot of land to keep them, a bunch of kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, and most importantly, much respect and love by everyone who knows him. He’s retired now, ‘getting along’, as he puts it. His stature has shrunk quite a bit over the years, his being becoming quite slight and stooped. Mr. R is a distinguished man, although he is quite humble. He misses his wife. Desperately. To ease his loneliness, someone in the family gave him a dog, a handsome little fella he turned into a farm dog. Farm Dog follows him everywhere, even to the pasture to check on the few remaining cattle left there.

Now the thing about farm dogs is that they are dirty. Dirty like you wouldn’t believe. I expected to see a miniature schnauzer on the other end of Mr. R’s leash. Instead, I saw a sheepdog. His hair was so long and matted, if I hadn’t seen him walking toward me, I wouldn’t have been able to tell which end was his head and which end was his -um- other end. Farm Dog made his presence known by his smell. It’s hard to describe and I’ll spare you the details, except to say that apparently this dog who was supposed to be a dignified breed of ratter, was actually an alpha dog who felt the need to scent his territory by wallowing in whatever invaded it. I’m pretty sure this time it was road-kill.

Farm dog is an old dog, I suspect close to or older than Mr. R’s age in dog years. His stature, like his owner, is bent, boney, and slight. His teeth are almost all gone. He limps a little. He has a immense tufts of hair growing out of his ears. His eyebrows need serious attention, as does his entire coat.

It took me three hours to groom him. He had an odd way of looking at me, like “What the hell are you doing down there? Leave that alone!” Let’s say we communicated. When he first got on the table, he did so quite slowly. He kept his head down and his tail tucked. He looked at me with embarrassment. Yes, he did. I could tell. You know how it is when you look in someone’s eyes and they immediately look away like “I don’t want to talk about it”? Farm Dog did that. I had to bathe him three times. By the time he was almost clean and I had cut through most of the matts in his coat, his demeanor began to change. Head up. Tail up. Getting kinda sassy. Pulling and tugging. Sniffing like he was thinking about lifting his leg. I don’t think so, I told him. I cut, I clipped, I washed. His tail began to jiggle. (When it’s that short, it doesn’t wag, it jiggles.) His chest puffed out. His feet danced. By the time I finished, he looked like a different dog altogether and I had re-learned something I thought I already knew. You know, all beings are created by God, and He created with love. Agape love. Unconditional love. I think God loves every being with the same love, not just humans. Therefore, all beings deserve respect and dignity. Something so un-dignified as scraping the crust off an old filthy dog can be pretty humbling. Kinda like when Jesus washed feet. Kinda like touching lepers and the sick with His bare hands, and when He associated with some pretty serious sinners. A humble Man restoring wholeness.

I won’t soon forget what happened when Mr. R got back to pick up Farm Dog. The old man’s face lit up, he was so excited. He stood a little straighter, smiling from ear to ear. Farm Dog jumped into Mr. R’s arms and licked his ears. Now he was the spittin’ image of his owner; clean-cut, shiny, and very happy. “Oh yeah, my old man looks good!” Mr. R exclaimed. Farm Dog winked at me. When they left, they both walked away with dignity.

If I groomed dogs for a living, that’s the way I would want it to be.

It’s a lesson I must remind myself of repeatedly. Every being is worthwhile. Every being deserves respect. God would be so happy if we treat each other with the same love and respect, if we recognized each person’s dignity.

Ya’ll don’t forget to pray for peace.

Imitation of Christ