Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reaping What I Sowed

Writing is a tough way of life. Like motherhood, it is not something you choose for earthly riches. You have to really love doing it. Not just that…you have to feel compelled to do it.

Like many of my writing friends, I have been writing my whole life, mostly for free and occasionally for a few pennies. It is largely a thankless job, with the rewards being seeing my name in print, treating my kids to ice cream on occasion, and accolades from my good writing buddies and very close friends and family who know how important my work is to me.

I have been sowing seeds on all sorts of soil for many years. My blog has given me the joy of writing for myself while getting feedback from those who enjoy my kind of stories. Next came my Examiner column, which gave me the prestige of a formal title and a small paycheck.

For the past several months, I have been so busy with my children’s sports that I have only been doing maintenance writing…writing just enough to keep my blog and column up-to-date. Then suddenly some remarkable things happened.

My running poem was published in a “Chicken Soup” book. An editor from CBS news contacted me saying that she liked my style and would I be interested in writing freelance for them? A good friend helped me to get a freelance article into a local newspaper.

God has a great sense of timing. My goal has been to be writing full time by the time my youngest is in Kindergarten, and I seem to be on the right track.

“Look what is happening…and I’m not even trying!” I said to my husband.

Not exactly. It’s like planting a perennial or a flowering tree that doesn’t bloom for the first few years. You tend to it, fertilize it, maybe give up and forget about it for a while, and then suddenly you are surprised with some really beautiful flowers. They only last for a few weeks, but if you prune and tend to the plant it will come back again the next year, bigger and bearing more blooms.

Children are like this too. During the early years they need quite a lot of tending to. Sometime in the middle school years their talents really come to light and suddenly they can do the most amazingly things on their own. You wonder sometimes how it is possible that they can do what they do…they usually don’t give you any credit and often you yourself forget what you have put into them. They still need attention – not too much and of a different sort - to thrive, but keep up the good work because you are in for a bountiful harvest.

2 Cor 9:6-10
Brothers and sisters:
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.
Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you,
so that in all things, always having all you need,
you may have an abundance for every good work.
As it is written:
"He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever."
The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food
will supply and multiply your seed
and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Honey the Lion Hunter

“She’s out again!” my husband yelled through the front door on his way to work today.

I really don’t have the time or patience for this. For the third time today, I ran out and wrestled the dog to the ground, picked her up, and carried her into the house. Then I went out to inspect the fence again.

You really forget the troubles of puppy ownership when you have lost an old, tired dog and succeeded it with another. The housetraining, biting, jumping, whining, and escaping are all enough to make me not like the dog so much when she is misbehaving. Then she sits there cutely begging for a treat, or sleeping curled up on her doggie bed with her tongue hanging out, and she’s loveable again.

“Hound X” is the breed notated on her papers. Being a rescue dog, her exact origins will never be known to us. She has the qualities of a hound, Labrador, bulldog, with the webbed paws that only a few breeds boast of.

On Halloween, we had her walking with us when a neighbor stopped us.

“What kind of dog is that?” she asked.

“I don’t know. She’s a rescue dog.”

“I think she’s a Rhodesian Ridgeback?” she said.

“A what?” I questioned, and she repeated it.

“Your neighbor around the block has one. It’s huge. She has all the same characteristics – the markings, the ears, the webbed feet, and the coloring.”

I looked toward the corner just then and saw one of the hugest dogs I have ever laid eyes upon coming around with her owners. As they approached, I said, “Hey, someone just told me my dog is the same breed as yours.”

“Yep, she looks just like he did when he was a puppy. She’ll be a little smaller though – her paws are smaller.”

Their dog, besides being a male, was tremendously overweight. I let them sniff each other quickly and then, just as quickly, said goodbye. She hasn’t been spayed yet (a requisite for adopted rescue dogs) and I didn’t want to take any chances.

Once inside the house I looked up Rhodesian Ridgeback on the computer. This dog was bred in Africa to hunt lions. It is a brave dog and resistant to pests such as ticks. It is intelligent and great as an athletic trainer. The puppy pictures looked just like our Honey! The only thing she is missing is the “ridge”, which is a line of fur running opposite the rest of the coat on the spine. I read that this ridge is caused by a mutant gene but is a desired trait in the breed. The twenty-five percent that are born without the ridge are “culled” (sometimes that means “killed”) or removed from the breeding population.

So maybe Honey and her sister were purebred throwaways! Suddenly I saw her in a different light – she wasn’t just an unwanted mongrel but a potentially valuable dog. If she nipped at me I would say she was looking for a lion to hunt. I gave her some of the kids’ toy dinosaurs.

Why should her breed make a difference though? I started to get a little angry at whoever would get rid of a dog for the lack of a silly characteristic. A dog is a dog no matter where she came from and they all have lots of love to offer whoever wants to receive it.

"Also the animals possess a soul, and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren."
- Pope John Paul II