“Sometimes you have to lose a lot, just so you can learn to be grateful. That’s the lesson I learned, not long ago….
Things hadn’t been all that terrific on the farm, but then abruptly my luck seemed to change for the better.
I found out I was gonna get a “new car!” I felt elated!
Soon, this ol’ farm gal was going to be riding around in a sporty convertible. The car of my dreams! I’d found it advertised in the newspaper and I was more than excited.
I waved to my daughter as I climbed into my Mom’s car on the way to get my new vehicle. “Soon we’ll be back in that new convertible!” I called.
My daughter waved from the doorway of the farmhouse, then I saw her expression freeze. A look of panic spread across her face.
“Wait!” she yelled. “Don’t go, yet. I think I hear some dogs barking out in the goat pasture.”
My heart plummeted. I knew only too well what that meant.
I could hear it, too, now—a distant racket coming from the back of the pasture near the pond.
Dear God, no! Not again! Just last fall, we’d lost half of our herd when a couple of dogs ran our goats into the pond. Goats can’t swim. They sink like rocks and drown.
It couldn’t be happening, again!
But the sound was unmistakable. The barking grew louder. Kicking off my high heels, I hiked up my skirt and began to run, my bare feet pounding against the rough ground.
No, no, no, I panted with each step. This can not be happening. But it was.
As I neared the pasture, I could see a couple of goats huddled miserably on the banks of the pond. And in the water—I came to a sudden stop, panting. In the pond were the floating bodies of half the herd.
Every one of the milk goats were in the water. “Angel,” and the mischievous “Buddy Boy.” Two of my bottle-fed babies were there, as well.
The only ones still alive were a couple of dazed billies, bobbing nearby in the water, their chins hooked over a floating tree branch—their eyes crazed with fear.
And there! There at the back of the pasture were the wretched varmints who had caused all this carnage.
I began to run toward the dogs, screaming, my heart nearly bursting with fury. I ran blindly, enraged—but in the middle of my mad pursuit, a sudden thought broke through my crazed mind.
I was doing the wrong thing! I was chasing away the very evidence that we needed to recoup our losses for these dead goats. I had to have proof as to which dogs had killed our herd!…and now I was chasing them off instead of capturing them.
My shrieks died away, and in an instant I began calling to the dogs, instead of screaming at them. It seemed utter absurdity, but I was desperate. I forced my voice to sound gentle and inviting….
“Come here, sweeties. Aren’t you wonderful, you big brutes? Aw…Come here….!”
By divine intervention, one of the dogs actually slowed and looked back at me over her shoulder. Then, miracle of miracles, she turned and made her way back toward me, wriggling playfully as she came. When she reached me, my hand closed over her collar.
I had her!
Removing the dog tag from her collar, I pocketed it for safe keeping, then quickly tied the dog to a tree and went to help rescue the drowning billies.
The rest of the day slid by in a blur. We pulled the goats out of the pond, dried their fur and gave them shots for their bite wounds. But nothing could soothe the wounds in my own spirit…Not even when the dogs’ owners arrived and made restitution for all the carnage.
There seemed to be a hole inside of me that nothing could fill.
All of my babies were dead. Never again would they climb on me, jostling about as they vied for their favorite position on my lap. My beloved Baby Girl was missing. We hadn’t yet found her body among the weeds. She might be lying out there somewhere suffering—dying a slow death.
I felt heartsick.
“Lord,” I said. “If you can just help me find my Sweet Baby Girl!” But there was no sign of Sweet Baby.
The final blow came later in the day when the phone rang in the farmhouse. An irate gentleman was on the line, informing me that he couldn’t wait any longer. He was selling the convertible to another buyer.
What…!? The convertible!? I’d forgotten all about it.
I hung up the receiver slowly, and stared out the window. The sun was sinking toward the western horizon. Day was done. The birds were singing their bedtime songs, and the crickets were beginning to chirp.
Lord, I said. If this hurts so bad, how do other people endure even greater losses?
I thought of the people who had lost everything in the Katrina storm—their loved ones, and houses, cars, jobs and all of their possessions. How do they survive such sudden devastation?
I walked outside and went to the barnyard—the place I’d spent countless hours nursing feeble babies back to health.
Everything looked strange to me, now. The half-eaten salt block. The abandoned baby bottle. A hacksaw lay on the ground where I’d dropped it.
I’d never need to use the hacksaw again to free Angel’s horns from the fence. And I’d never need the baby bottle to feed my Sweet Baby.
My sad thoughts came to a sudden stop. I heard a noise behind me. A familiar sound. My heart froze then began to pound. I gasped as I turned around.
There she was–appearing out of nowhere. My Sweet Baby Girl.
I stared at her, open-mouthed. It was strange that she would appear out of nowhere. She was unscathed. She bounced out of the weeds and stood there looking at me.
“Sweet Baby Girl!” I ran to her. “Where have you been?”
She tossed her head, then nipped at me playfully as she climbed into my lap. She was a miracle. A living, breathing miracle. The pain and heartache inside me began to ease.
I gave the little nanny a hug. “I guess we’ll be needing that baby bottle after all, Sweet Baby…!”
I hugged her tightly, and together, we watched the sun sink below the horizon. It was a poignant moment—one I won’t forget. A bittersweet moment suspended in time.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me back my Baby. And thank you for all of the little miracles of this dreadful day…For the return of that dog when I called. For the willingness of the dog owners to make restitution for our losses.
Unlike others, I still have my home, my family and my job. I still have my Sweet Baby Girl, and my sanity.
Well….I’m not sure about my sanity—but I have everything else.
For that, dear Lord, I am grateful. So very grateful!