On this eve of Christmas, you get two stories: one from my dear friend Dar Axtell, who allowed me to use her story in my blog this week. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is as generous as the day is long, and I am blessed to call her friend and colleague in the critical work we do with schools around the world.
Here is her story:
Making a Difference
In spring I became aware that a young man who has done some odd jobs for us in the past needed work. In March, he and his wife divorced and, since then, he has been living in and out of several shelters, friends’ basements, and even his car.
Throughout the summer he did work for us and other family members. I took him to the Catholic Diocese Immigration counselor, to a shelter for the homeless, and made numerous calls on his behalf. Finally, I just put a post on Facebook asking if anyone needed work done. Several days went b,y and on Monday, I got a message forwarded to me from a friend in Arizona about a woman in Green Bay who needed workers. I forwarded the message to my friend and he contacted the woman and started work this morning.
Of course, I was overjoyed, but as I was thinking about this I started wondering. “How does my high school friend from Illinois who now lives in Arizona, know a person in Northern Wisconsin who needs workers?" It turns out this woman was a foster child of his when she was young. She has moved to Wisconsin but remains in contact with her foster family.
I guess my point is that one person can make a difference. One family took in a child. A young man needed a job. Someone reached out to make connection and the circle became complete with the child in need of care now helping someone else who needed work. It makes me realize how connected we all really are and how important it is to make those connections with those around us.
Here is my own story:
Dave and I have been fostering Labs for the last four years. We have successfully fostered then adopted out 17 dogs, one who became a foster-failure because we couldn't give him up. Kirby has now been with us for almost three years. A couple of weeks ago, we got word that an extremely malnourished and emaciated dog from Nogales, MX was being transferred to a vet in Tucson. The prospect of her living very long didn't look very good, but we were immediately intrigued as she looks exactly like our old yellow girl named Rudy, minus any muscle mass or fat, and with a high possibility of kidney and liver failure that could end her life in a moment's notice. Over the last two weeks, the vet has gone from calling her condition "critical" to "guarded" to "improving every day". Dave and I have visited her several times now: the first time, she would not raise her head and we were told she couldn't walk. She had to be taken out to go to the bathroom with a makeshift belt to hold her up.
The second visit, we could visit with her in a room where they brought her in to lie down on a blanket. We brought cooked chicken to try to get her strength up, and her tail wagged. We believe we are now known to her as "the chicken people". We also brought one of the very few Christmas dog toys Kirby hasn't shredded to pieces. We want to get her to know the smells of her soon-to-be foster siblings---Kirby and Rudy. To say she gobbled up that chicken was an understatement. But soon, it was clear that she was anxious to get up. The vet tech, Dave and I walked her (on her own, by the way) out to go potty, which she did, both ways. She was soon worn out and we helped her back to her kennel where she immediately curled up with the toy. Today, I went to visit with more chicken. They are still concerned because her white blood count is still high and she still has to be on IV fluids. What I saw, though, was a whole different girl. She came walking in the room to see me, wagged her tail, and walked over to me to get chicken. Then, she and I lay down on a blanket together, where we commenced to talk about what life will be like when she can come home to us. We are thrilled with her progress. We love seeing her tail wag, and she is now lifting up my hand with her nose to pet her, if I set it down in front of her face. Is she all skin and bones still? Yes. Is she tough to look at? Perhaps, for some. I see a true Christmas miracle. Oh, and we named her Gracie.
Merry Christmas to all of you who have special stories to tell. I adore talking to you each week, and I feel so privileged and blessed that you care to read what I have to say.
God bless each one of you. Look for the opportunities to make a difference.