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Sabastian, What Am I Going to Do With You?

by Teresa L. Sexton

Dedicated to Randy Sexton and Sabastian

Sabastian, what am I going to do with you? Just keep loving you, I guess, and putting up with your ornery, silly ways.

You came into my life at the perfect time. Of course, I couldn’t have known that. Linda had posted your picture to help you find your forever home. I was smitten. My husband had, only recently, said, “No more pets. They’re too much trouble, they tie us down. When these two are gone, that’s it, no more.” He was talking about Fancy and Savannah, our two little toy poodles who were spoiled rotten, mostly by Aaron. But, then you showed up. Your picture pulled at my heartstrings like there was already a rope connecting you to me.

Oh, look, Aaron! He looks so sweet and he is black and white! To me, there couldn’t have been a more beautiful color combination for a standard poodle. Aaron looked at the photos on my phone, then looked at me and said “Get him, if you want him.” He couldn’t resist wanting you either, you were a gorgeous little boy. …and those eyes.

We made a quick weekend trip to Wichita, Kansas, to get you. It was a great trip. Not only did we get to see Josh and Sasha, but, also, it didn’t hurt a bit that you were owned by dear friends,Tom and Linda. I had known and been friends with Tom since I was just three years old and Tom, four. Our families were good friends. Our dads worked together.

Aaron, Josh, Sasha and I brainstormed for the perfect name, one that sounded like you looked, if that makes any sense. I had thought of “Sabastian,” then Josh said  “Sabastian,” so that was it! I don’t know why, but it fit. So, you became our little boy, and we brought you home to Arkansas.

Fancy took right to you, she has always been a loving little soul, well, if dogs have souls. Savannah was not happy with your appearance into our home. She would growl and bare her teeth, trying to intimidate you into keeping your distance, all six pounds of her.

You settled in well, and we adored you. Aaron, the man who didn’t want any more pets, treated you like canine royalty. You were showered with treats, back and belly scratches and hugs.

You came to us in the middle of summer. We would play with you in the backyard. You loved to, and still do, run the length of the deck and at the end leap completely over the three steps to the ground. You would shadow Aaron as he would work on his projects in his backyard shop. He loved your presence, the way you followed and watched him.

Winter came, and with it, the bitter cold, and so much snow. February was cruel. Aaron left us. He didn’t mean to, but God said, “It’s time, son.” Gone. A man who could smile like the sunshine, smiled no more. Well, not here on earth, anyway. No more laughter. No more “I love yous.” You didn’t understand why Dad wasn’t with us anymore but you changed, immediately. Sabastian, you became the man of the house. You weren’t even a year old, yet, but you stepped up.

When the doorbell rang the next day, you became my guard dog, my protector. You barked big boy barks and made sure who ever entered the house knew you were in charge. By that time, you were a big boy, big enough to be given respect for your attitude. Your presence was such a comfort.

You became my rock, my constant companion. Of course, my faith in Jesus is my true Rock and Foundation. I came to realize, again, how God’s loving hand is ever present, ever orchestrating our lives. His timing is impeccable.

Romans 8:28 NIV

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Sabastian, you try my patience sorely, but I can never stay mad at you. I know God put you in my life. You, for some odd doggy reason, revel on getting your mouth on almost any small thing I own, and have, absent mindedly, left in harm’s way. You aggressively chew, and try to devour. How have you tried my patience? Let me count the ways. 1. My new fitbit, nothing but tiny pieces of electronics, 2. Four bible markers, 3. Three tubes of my favorite lip gloss, and two tubes of lipstick (no, they weren’t “your color”), 4. Three mechanical pencils, 5. Unknown number of plastic flossing toothpicks, 6. Socks, yes, my socks, for Pete’s sake, 7.  …and the list goes on.

Have I mentioned that you have auditioned and been accepted into the Hackett City Canine Choir? “Go tell it on the Mountain,” seems to be the theme song to which you and your friends subscribe. Your favorite spot to participate from is the deck by the above ground pool. From there, you can see over the privacy fence and into our fair city. You are a very vocal member of the choir and the Town Crier Club.

Thinking I had found the ideal solution to your excessive vocalizations, I gifted you with an anti-bark collar. It doesn’t shock you when you bark. It is supposed to. Why doesn’t it? The connected phone app says it is functioning properly. What? Initially, when you barked, the collar vibrated and the recording of my voice telling you to “Be quiet!” got your attention. Now, I have come to the conclusion you will bark, just so you can hear my voice, when I am not with you.

Christmas Lights! I closed off the stairs to the swim deck with a wall of beautiful, cheerful lights. The excessive barking has ceased. Awww…sweet peace and quiet. Silent Night. Who needs high tech anti-bark collars? Truth be told, nights are peaceful because you are comfortably sleeping in your humongous pet taxi, your safe place.

My bodacious Sabastian, it is through your eyes you speak. You tell me you love and adore me, you need me. You can’t get enough hugs, back scratches and having me talk to you. You want to be with me, near me, follow me. Sharing my recliner, in my lap is a place you love to be. I love for you to be there, too.


Thank you, Lord, for bringing Randy into our lives. I love him, and so does Sabastian. He is an answer to my prayers. Thank you, Lord, for never giving up on those of us who love you. You are the God of second, third, fourth…chances. We are human, we are imperfect, but you know that, you created us. Thank you for giving us hearts where there is always room for one more. You wrap us in grace and mercy that we don’t deserve. You love us and hear each of us. We stand on your promises.

The Light. Know it. Show it.

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Dear Sad Lady by Teresa L. Sexton

Dear Sad Lady standing by the street sign, on the corner, in the cold, and in the rain. I see you. I really do…see…you. You’re thin and gaunt. Your clothing is dirty and doesn’t fit. You are wearing 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or maybe even 5th , hand clothing.

You wear an expression that is hard to read. Is it bitterness? Defiance? Hopelessness? Loneliness? How old are you? It’s hard to tell, 35? 40? 50? Yet, the look in your eyes tells me your mind may be far, far away. Does your mind go to a place of comfort for protection from the looks of scorn cast your direction by the many sets of eyes that see you but don’t really see you?

What has brought you to this place? You look so empty, so hurt, so very forlorn.

What happened that put you in such a place of humiliating despair? Perhaps you suffer from mental issues that hold you captive to a lifestyle that is far less than it should be.

A real physical reaction leaps through my chest. There is a combination of emotions running through me, sadness, anger, sympathy, frustration.

Why you? Why not me in your place? I’m dressed in nice clothes, driving a nice car, I just left a warm comfortable home. Soon, I‘ll be joining my friends, who will be wearing nice clothes and beautiful smiles. We’ll meet for breakfast, in a nice restaurant, where I can easily pay my bill. Has there been a time in your life when you were able to do the same? Or, has your life always been a struggle and one of mental and physical pain?

You are not the only woman hoping for help by hanging out at the stop signs and traffic lights. Every Sunday morning, on the way to church, we see the same elderly woman sitting on a small stool, on the same corner. She has, with her, a broken down, badly repaired grocery cart. The cart appears to contain her earthly belongings and treasures. One treasure is a dirty, worn stuffed clown doll. That makes me think of my “treasures,” some of the things I hold dear. Why have I been so blessed? By the way, the third time I saw this “elderly” woman, I paid more attention to her. Her skin is lined and deeply tanned from the many hours of sitting at her post. Her sunken face tells me she has no teeth. I looked into her eyes and realized she was probably about ten years younger than I am. Life has been cruel to her.

I have wondered what she would say if we invited to her to go to church with us. I should grow bolder and ask instead of just wondering! Why do the women, who are panhandling, look like they are so much more in dire need than the men? Let’s be honest. Women are far too frequently victims of abuse and falling between the cracks. They are weaker and more vulnerable. It truly hurts my heart. I pray for them but I know that is not enough. After all, are we not the branches? We reach out.

I’ve grown accustomed to the regulars, the panhandlers who choose to put themselves out there with their cardboard signs. So many! Most are professionals. I know this. I have seen them park their nice car in a lot not very far away from where they stand with their signs. I’ve seen them dropped off from vans in the same manner a city bus drops riders who are heading to their places of employment. I’ve read the stories where the beggars openly, yet anonymously, shared their stories of their large income, nice cars and homes, received by panhandling, suckering in the tender-hearted. That makes me angry. Angry, mostly because they harden our hearts to those who may truly need a generous handout, a smile, some food, some kindness.

Have I grown callous? There is a multitude of cardboard sign carriers, some in real need, some absolutely not. How do I know who truly needs help, who is really down and out? Lord, what do I do? If I give the person, pleading for a handout, some cash, am I helping or hurting? Am I adding fuel to the flame? Will she/he buy food, shelter, life’s necessities, clothing? Or, will the money buy another fix, another bottle, another pill, another spin on a casino slot machine? Do I give and not worry about what will be done with the money, letting that be between them and God?

Teresa L. Sexton