Wednesday, August 28, 2013

No need to be perfect

I heard an interesting sermon a few weeks ago at a church in Tennessee. The pastor, Tom Oyler, noted that Christians are not born on Krypton and therefore don't have superhuman powers.

Instead, Christians are weak, weary, flawed, imperfect in so many ways.

And when we become (in our view) hopelessly flawed and isolated, we run the risk of losing our faith.

But not to fear.

God welcomes us, pardons us, relieves us, heals us. We find God not just as bystanders sitting and listening in church but through connecting with small groups of caring others.

Bottom line: Join some sort of supportive group to help you get through your depression or flaws. Find sustenance and counsel from others. Don't fight the fight alone. As Oyler put it--and as Pastor Mike Lowery of Impact Community Church in Rock Hill, S.C. has frequently stressed: As Christians, we don't shoot our wounded. We welcome our wounded. We wrap our arms around them.

One caveat: Share your trials and heartaches with the right people and for the right reasons. Do not share your pain with just anyone.

So how to know where to find that trusted person or persons?

Pray, pray, pray.

Friday, August 16, 2013

He suffered mightily

By now you may have heard about Thor the bulldog.

But in case you haven't, read the story below by my former student, Jennifer Arnold, a reporter for the Herald-Journal newspaper in Spartanburg, S.C.

Thor died from the effects of being left in a car (albeit parked in the shade and with the window cracked) when his owners visited a store.

They were gone only for a few minutes, but that's all it took.

The heat inside their car caused Thor to go into shock. He must have fought mightily to stay alive, but he was doomed when those car doors slammed.

He panted. He barked and whimpered pitifully. He struggled to keep breathing. And when officers freed Thor from that locked, sweltering car, the 57-pound bulldog was found with his tongue "lolling out," according to the story. He was too weak to drink water.

I am sure Thor's owners are devastated and that this had to be one of those accidents that'll haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Some folks in Spartanburg who read Ms. Arnold's story are not so quick to forgive or overlook. One reader, for example, commented: "The dog's owner . . . was present when the dog was left in the car. While she's now whining about how "horrible" she feels about this, she's not feeling a fraction as horrible as the poor dog, with its swollen brain, felt in its final hours. As the dog's owner and guardian, she's even more culpable in this than the owner of the car is. Have the Spartanburg cops charged her, and if not, why not?


Here's the complete story (published earlier this week in the Herald-Journal in Spartanburg, S.C.)

By Jenny Arnold —
SPARTANBURG, SC — Lethargic and blind from swelling in his brain, his pink skin covered with small red dots indicating small bleeds under the surface, Thor the bulldog succumbed to complications from heat stroke early Tuesday.
The 18-month-old, otherwise healthy 57-pound brindle and white bulldog was found locked in a car at WestGate Mall Sunday afternoon. The windows were cracked, but it was still too hot for the bulldog, a breed that is particularly susceptible to heat stroke because of its shortened muzzle.
Thor was already in distress when found by Spartanburg Public Safety Department officers, his tongue lolling out and his breathing fast. He threw up as officers broke a window and worked to get him out of the car and appeared to be in shock, too weak to drink water the officers offered him.
Thor was treated by veterinarians at the Spartanburg Humane Society during the day, and by Care Animal Regional Emergency Clinic by night. He died at the Care clinic shortly after midnight Tuesday, said Katie Freseman, spokeswoman for the humane society.
But those at the Spartanburg Humane Society say Thor's death isn't in vain. Messages of hope and love for Thor came from as far away as the United Kingdom, and a donation toward his medical care came from Miami. Before his death was reported, many expressed an interest in adopting him. "The outpouring of support for this dog has been phenomenal," Freseman said. "He's helping us spread a very important message to our community."
The message, Freseman said: Even 5 minutes in a car during the summer is too long. Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can turn deadly for dogs in just minutes. "Five minutes in the store can turn into 30 if you run into a friend you haven't seen in a while," Freseman said. "It's just not worth the risk."
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, symptoms of overheating in pets include:
• Excessive panting or difficulty breathing; • Increased heart and respiratory rate; • Drooling; • Mild weakness; • Stupor; • Seizures; • Bloody diarrhea or vomit; • Body temperature of more than 104 degrees; and • Collapse.
Heat stroke causes brain damage and organ failure and as in Thor's case, is often fatal. Pets with short muzzles, like bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to the condition.
Thor's owners, Tony Lee Davis, 33, and his girlfriend, Tonya Middleton, 33, of Fletcher, N.C., told police they were returning from a beach trip with their children and dog. They went into WestGate for a bathroom break, and were inside for about 45 minutes, according to police. Thor was inside a car parked in the shade, with the windows cracked. It was raining at the time.
There are no laws regarding pets locked in vehicles in South Carolina. Tony Davis was charged by the Spartanburg Public Safety Department with ill treatment of animals and released from jail on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond.
Ill treatment of animals is a misdemeanor, and since this is a first offense for Davis, he faces up to 60 days in jail, a $100 to $500 fine or both if convicted.
A second offense carries up to 90 days in jail and/or $800 fine and third or subsequent offenses carry up to 2 years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
Spartanburg Public Safety Capt. Regina Nowak has spoken to Thor's owners since Sunday and they are very upset about their dog's death. Nowak said the incident was a tragic accident.
"(Middleton) was just devastated when I talked to her today," Nowak said. "She said, ‘How am I going to tell my kids he died?' They know what they did was wrong. Did they intend to harm the dog? No. Are they remorseful. Yes. It still doesn't change what happened. All around, it's a bad situation." Thor's remains will be released to the family, Nowak said. The charge against Davis still stands but he is not facing additional charges.
For police and animal lovers, Tuesday was a sad day.
"We were all rooting for him," Freseman said. "But if there's any
thing positive to come out of this, it's that he's been able to reach hundreds of thousands of people."

Why did she die?

I never met Anne Doss (pictured with this blog post), but I'm sure she was charming, smart, and well liked. And, of course, she was extremely attractive.

She was a mother and a wife and a respected bank executive with Wells Fargo, and her husband said she was in perfect health and loved to exercise.

But she died the other day at the age of 56 in Minnesota.

No one knows why she died, just that she died apparently from "natural causes," according to a source in the medical examiner's office in Minnesota.

She went to sleep in a hotel room, but never woke up.

How does one make sense of this? Why did God take Anne Doss so suddenly and so unexpectedly?

How to reconcile this with our beliefs and faith in the Almighty?

So senseless.

So sad.

I didn't know you, Anne, but I'll say a prayer for your and your family tonight.

Maybe the message here is that when we go to sleep, there are no guarantees that we'll ever see the sun again.

Here, in case you missed in, is the story about Anne's death in a recent edition of the Charlotte Observer:

Wells Fargo exec from Charlotte dies unexpectedly

By Deon Roberts
Posted: Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013

A Wells Fargo executive who worked in uptown Charlotte died unexpectedly Wednesday in Minnesota, the bank has announced.

Anne Doss, who headed Wells Fargo’s personal and small-business insurance division, was 56.

“It is with great sadness that Wells Fargo confirms that Anne Doss, head of our personal and small-business insurance division, has passed away,” the bank said in a statement Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said Doss died Wednesday morning and that her death was being investigated. The spokeswoman said Doss died at a Sofitel hotel in Bloomington, a city south of Minneapolis. Her death appeared to be from natural causes, the spokeswoman said Thursday morning.

Doss’ husband, Herbert Doss, said Thursday that his wife had gone to Minnesota on a business trip. Her death took him by surprise, he said, because she had not been ill.

“She was in perfect health” and “very into exercise,” he said.

Her husband, who said he stayed in Charlotte while she went on the trip, said his wife had attended “numerous very important” roundtable meetings Tuesday. He said the last time he and his wife spoke was Tuesday night.

“I spoke to her as she was going to sleep,” he said, adding that she sounded fine. “She was perfect.”

Doss was named to the insurance division position in December. When the bank announced the appointment, it said Doss would oversee a team that provides small business and consumer insurance solutions, including for auto, home, renters, life, umbrella and property and liability coverage.

Prior to that, Doss led Wells Fargo’s insurance national practices and special risk group.

Doss had also worked for Wachovia, which Wells Fargo bought in 2008, as president of insurance services.

In addition to her husband, Doss is survived by a son, 30, and daughter, 31. The family lives in Charlotte.