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Bless the Beasts and the Children

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When I was five years old, our beloved black and white Cocker Spaniel dog, Candy, became terminally ill. One day, my dad took her with him on a car ride. She never returned.

My dad made the decision, urged by a veterinarian, that Candy was too sick to recover. He determined the only compassionate and loving option was to end her pain and suffering by “putting her to sleep.”

I believe my dad had good intentions. He probably thought he was sparing me pain when he didn’t tell me what would happen to her before he left that morning. He may have even been concerned at what my reaction might be if he did tell me, aware that I would plead for her life.

Devastated at not being able to say goodbye or hug her one last time, my young heart couldn’t understand why death had been chosen as the answer to my sweet Candy’s illness.

For years, vivid dreams of Candy filled my nighttime. As I look back, I realize God’s tenderness towards me in understanding my sense of loss, the heartache of no goodbye, and my longing to see her one more time.

It’s become clear to me as an adult, that the teaching of sanctity of life and care for those who are weak and dying starts to be shaped as a child.

As a parent, pets give me a wonderful opportunity to teach my children compassion and how to respect life.

Also, I’ve come to see, as controversial as some may find it, that the euthanasia of beloved pets, is where the euthanasia of humans begins. As a tenderhearted child, the euthanasia of a pet can begin the desensitizing of a person’s conscious. It teaches that quick death is the loving, compassionate choice when faced with a terminally ill or injured pet, completely missing the opportunity to learn how to care for the sick and suffering, and how to walk through the course of death.

The caring for a pet who is dying, even if it’s painful for a family to go through, can help a developing heart remain tender and merciful.

Tim Tebow shares a story about his beloved dog Otis. He tells how while away on a trip to Disneyland with family and friends, someone beat Otis. He writes:

The vet agreed with my guess and suggested that this could have been the work of a baseball bat. ‘Tim, his injuries are to severe,’ he said. Otis’ back, legs, and hips were severely damaged, and his jaw was radically fractured. Surgery would have been extensive and expensive, and there was no guarantee he’d survive. Plus the lengthy rehabilitation might prove to be move than he could take. So we brought Otis home to die and laid him carefully on his bed.”

Perhaps, this decision when Tebow was a child concerning Otis, is what began a work of compassion in his heart that is now expressed through his foundation that ministers to dying children.

And recently singer and songwriter Fiona Apple surprised her fans and the public in canceling her upcoming tour to be with her dying pit bull, Janet, stating:

I just can’t leave her now, please understand. If I go away again, I’m afraid she’ll die and I won’t have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out…. These are the choices we make, which define us.”

Caring for a pet isn’t easy. It does come with tough decisions and costs. As a parent, I’ve had to choose what to do based on our financial ability to pay for care.

Recently, our daughter’s 14-year-old cat, Samson, came down with a life-threatening illness. Without a costly surgery, he would die. Choices had to be made. For us, at this time in our lives, we could choose the surgery. Yet, if we hadn’t been able to make that decision, we would have brought him home. Home, where Samson would have been given medications to help control the pain, but not ones to end his life.

Back when I was five, the reason I couldn’t understand my Dad’s decision to end Candy’s life, is because death is not the answer to pain and suffering. Life is the answer, even when caring for a life that is suffering and dying causes us personal pain.

At my young age, my heart hadn’t been conditioned to accept it as the answer. But with time, if my heart hadn’t resisted, it would have been changed to believe death as the most loving, compassionate choice in dealing with this type of situation.

Proverbs 10:12 states that, “A righteous man regards the life of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

I know many will find my thoughts on this matter extreme. My intention isn’t to cause guilt or condemnation to those individuals who in the past have chosen euthanasia for a pet; to those who have been urged that it’s the most compassionate decision. Rather, my heart is to share my observations and ask others to prayerfully consider reexamining their thoughts on this issue for the future.

As a child, Candy’s presence brought me much joy and companionship. With the Christmas season, I’m reminded of a time when I fell asleep next to her under our Christmas tree. My dad, seeing me out cold, wanted to carry me to my bed.

But, when he went to reach for me, he was met with Candy’s protective growl. Needless to say, she and I woke up the next morning under our tree.

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Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters and serves as associate editor of Ungrind. Her writing has been published in numerous publications including Focus on the Family Magazine, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, KirkCameron.com, Start Marriage Right, Growthrac, and more! She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University with experience in broadcast media and also serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.

2 Comments
  • Jenny

    While I did not expressly think of all the reasons you stated, I full-heartedly agree with you. To me life is to be cherished, and not thrown away. I have never felt that I had any right to end the life of one of God’s creatures (as I write this, I am reminded that I do kill spiders and mosquitos!) Nor would I want to; how could I have a clean conscious if I prematurely ended a life? I have had a lonely time during the deaths of my two most wonderful furry companions one two years ago who graced my life for 14 years and one just a month ago who graced my life for 16 years. It did rip my heart out to be so helpless; and the wishes from others that I “do the right thing” was an extra barrage against my soul; but I am glad I allowed them to live until their last natural breaths. The night before my cat of 16 years died her and I sat on the porch together and sniffed the air and watched things float on the breeze. It was a beautiful night. She purred and we warmed each others hearts. And the next morning I held her and stroked her and prayed over her as she left my companionship.
    I believe in God’s plan and will to the very end of our earthly lives. And that of our furry companions as well. God can and will use each moment to teach and minister. To cut those blessing short would be a tragedy.

    Thank you for this beautiful article to stir the minds of your readers. Thank you for a light in a dark world. And thank you for valuing life.

    • Lynette

      My sincere apologies, Jenny, for this delayed response. Appreciate so much your sharing about your beloved pets and reading of your compassionate, loving care of your cat during her final moments.

      Thank you for your kind and encouraging words concerning the article.

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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Bless the Beasts and the Children

by Lynette Kittle time to read: 4 min
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