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Thanks guys, you’ve been really great! Keep safe and warm, my dear avidReaders
I know I’m a day late, but I wanted to spend the day with my Dad.
I wanted to write a letter to all the men out there who defend their families, all the men who work two/three jobs just so their kids can go to school and have food in their lunchboxes. I think of all the Dads who let their children cry on their shoulders. All the men who stay up at night crying because they can’t anymore, yet smile the next day when they say goodbye to their wife and children. Thank you to all the men who sometimes have to travel to different cities or provinces just so they can get work.
The sacrifice you make is something your family see and appreciate. You are all more than men–you are heroes. Heroes to your children who will defend their “strong daddies” no matter what. Heroes to your wives who are there to help and hug you when you get home and they can see the stress and frustration on your face. They see that you fight, not for yourself, but for them. You may miss your family, but your strength and determination is something your children will never forget.
You have a huge responsibility to us. You set the example and when we grow up, everything you’ve taught us will go with us into the world. We will live our lives having learnt what we saw from you. Your words will always have power, but not as much as your actions. Showing us how much you love us, have as much power as telling us. You’re the men who fight for us, cry over us, break your backs for us. You are the men who brave the harsh, cold world so that we can be protected from it’s heartache and pain, but you are also the men who have to step back and watch us bump and bruise ourselves. You have to watch us make mistakes and watch us cry, so that one day when we have families of our own we’ll have learnt lessons we wouldn’t have if not for those bumps and bruises.
You are also the men who, if you are lucky, will get to have your grandchildren sit on your lap one day and pass down the same lessons you taught us. You will tell stories of your youth and pass down family history, the same way you would’ve with us. You will play with them, build puzzles with them, colour in with them and love them as much as you did us.
In the very end of it all, you will be mourned and missed by those you have left behind, but your stories, your lessons, your love, all of it will remain. Your legacy will stay behind after you’ve gone and, as long as we live, we will always remember you. We will pass down everything you’d have taught us to our own grandchildren.
You are men of valour, integrity, love, boldness, courage. You are also men who face fear, depression, anxiety, sorrow, pain and anger, but you cover it. You hide it from us, so that we never have to know what wars you fight for us every day. We love you for it and we always will.
So, thank you, fathers. Thank you for keeping us safe, for teaching us to ride bikes, for helping us with homework and teaching us all we need to know for when we are on our own out in the world. Thank you for all the times you repeated yourselves when we wouldn’t listen. Even though it’s difficult, you somehow manage to be patient with us.
As a daughter, I want to thank my father who, despite all his own worries and responsibilities, has always been my knight in shining armour. If not for him, this blog would not exist. I love you Daddy!
Over the passed weekend my friend and I were talking and laughing about all the bizarre things our pets do and I’ve heard and seen countless weird things the furbabies in our family get up to. They dominate our furniture, our laps and stare the food right out of our mouths. They take over our beds, our cars and almost all our time. Yes, I know they sound like toddlers, but they are our toddlers. They warm my lap, as well as my heart. When I’m sick or depressed these little Baskerville Hounds crawl under my blanket and start making grizzling little noises as they sort out who sleeps where. My youngest furbaby demands love 24/7/365, but she gives as much as she takes. Whereas her sister is docile and only wants to know someone is there.
There are many ways in which these little creatures have benefited mankind other than just as constant companions. Some have been trained to sniff out landmines, detect terrorist cells as they have a very unique sense of smell as well as being companions to their fellow veterans. They have received commendations and are even honourably discharged from war just like any other veteran of war. If they have been lost they are honoured and, if they are wounded, they are honourably discharged and sent home to live with their handler and his/her family. These companions to man are just as important to our survival as any man or woman who has fought for us in war.
In the police force, they have a special unit for these “policemen” called the Dog Unit. They are trained from puppies to sniff out drugs, dead bodies, missing persons because of their honed sense of smell. They are also used as attack dogs should the need arise. They are treated as well as any other officer in the police department. Some handlers even become so attached to their police dog that they form lifelong bonds with them. When these dogs retire they are taken home by their handler. Most often Retrievers, German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Bloodhound or Dutch Shepherd breeds are used for this purpose.
There are many other uses for our canine companions. They are trained as guard dogs to protect their family or private property. They are also protective in other ways. Golden Retriever, Standard Poodle, German Shepherd, Akita, Rough Collie, Rottweiler, Cairn Terrier and Great Pyrenees breeds all have the ability to detect epileptic seizures before they occur and are especially trained from when they are puppies to warn their owner of this so they can take protective measures quickly in order to limit the damage caused by the seizures. Animals have a unique ‘super power’ as it were, they are able to sense when something is going to happen. They can sense danger, weather disturbances and when there is something wrong with their owner/s.
One of the most famous uses for canines is as blind guide dogs. These save their owners lives every day, by stopping their owners from walking into traffic or other dangerous situations they may find themselves in. Labradors, Retrievers, German Shepherds and Poodles are used for this specific purpose.
If any of you have ever watched the Netflix series “The Healing Powers of Dude”, you will know that there is one last service our canine companions do for us and that is as therapy dogs, or as they are more commonly called “emotional support animals”. I mentioned above how my two canine companions can detect when there’s something off with their owners, but they also have this amazing ability to boost your mood as companions for people with social disorders, depression or anxiety. In “The Healing Powers of Dude”, Dude is a support animal for his owner who suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder. These special friends accompany their owner everywhere as they provide comfort and security for their owner. They have the ability to distract you from what is bothering you by wanting to play a game or attempting to keep you busy using other methods such as demanding attention or giving you affection themselves. They are truly “man’s best friend” sometimes just a touch from these special companions is enough to cause you comfort.
I know not everyone is a dog person, so for all you cat-parents out there, I will cover some of the sparkling aspects of your very own kitsies. I, myself, love both of these fluffy little friends. Unfortunately, I’m horribly allergic to cats. My companions of choice will always be dogs. My breed of choice: Jack Russells. Then again, I have two of my own, so I’m biased.
My dear avidReaders, if there are any topics you want me to cover, I have a forum up and running with some feeds where you can discuss which topics you want me to cover next. The forum is preferred since all your fellow avidReaders can discuss it with you and have their own input. It’ll also help me see what the most popular requests are so I know what to cover next, but don’t worry I will do my best to cover all your requests. I promised you when I first started this blog, that I would do my utmost to see to all of your requests.
There are many varying definitions of fear. Some describe it as “an unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined.” In the movie After Earth, it is described as something that exists in your thoughts of the future. It is something we allow our brains to believe. However, there’s a lot more to discuss. Let us dig a little deeper into this emotion that seems to control so much in our lives.
Fear has many interpretations. It is referred to as one of the 7 universal emotions that are common to all human beings, it has also been described as a self-preservation instinct. Something that tells us, “Maybe I shouldn’t poke the snarling dog with a stick?”. This emotion is not just a physical response, however, it can also be psychological. As I mentioned above fear sometimes manifests in the mind. From my own personal experience, this fear is the hardest to overcome. It can sometimes become a war you wage daily and I know I’m not the only individual living with this struggle. There are various mental disorders to describe this struggle. There are panic disorders, anxiety disorders, PTSD and various phobias. This fear isn’t always caused by an external or imagined fear, sometimes it can be caused by a biochemical imbalance in your brain that has to be treated as a chronic condition.
Biochemical and Emotional Response.
Symptoms of fear’s biochemical responses include sweating, an increase in heart rate as well as increased adrenaline levels which enable us to be more alert to the impending danger. This reaction has been defined as “the fight or flight” instinct. On the other side of the fear coin, is the emotional response. This is something unique to each individual as we all experience fear in different situations. Some fear can even be experienced as a pleasant emotion as it involves the same chemical responses as happiness and other pleasant chemical reactions in our brains. An example of this would be riding a roller-coaster or watching a horror movie. Some people even become addicted to this emotional response. These people have been called ‘adrenaline seekers’. They would be the ones doing sky-diving, bungee-jumping or other extreme sports and activities. As I already mentioned above, not everyone experiences fear the same as others. Some find it exciting and others find it unpleasant.
What Happens When I’m Scared?
Well, in answer to this questions there are various biochemical responses attached to the emotional state of fear. I have already listed a few of these above, but there are many symptoms you may experience such as chest pains, chills, dry mouth, nausea, upset stomach, trembling, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. Some of these you will have experienced. I, myself, when I am fearful or anxious about something get nausea and loss of appetite as well as a rapid heartbeat. It may not stop at the physical effects, it can cross over into psychological responses as well, such as a feeling of being over-whelmed or upset because of a lack of control in the situation you are facing. Sometime this intense anxiety can cause a person to go into a deep depression.
When you are feeling distressed certain bodily processes, such as your digestive system may shut down. All of this is to enable you to react faster to a dangerous situation.
In all honesty, fear isn’t always a bad thing. It can be a warning to avoid a particular situation or something that can be overcome. If you can overcome your fear, you will find yourself stronger for it. I speak as someone who has experienced and does constantly have fears and anxieties to overcome myself. I am just like you, my avidReaders.
I write this to help you understand your fears and see both sides, but I also write this for myself. I have learnt as much researching this as you will reading it. I will try to cover chronic fear when I look at chronic conditions. For now, we’ll look at fear in it’s base conditions. If this post in any way encouraged or uplifted, let me know in the comments below.
It’s so hot. I can’t breathe. It’s as though all the heat and heaviness of all I’ve done is weighed on my shoulders. It’s so heavy I can hardly stand up. I lift up my head and all I see is more sand as far as the eye can see. Not a blade of grass or a single cactus, never mind tree, is within sight. Why is it so far and so difficult? Why is there no end to this wilderness? Will it never end? I’m so encumbered with my burden and so thirsty I could fall at any moment, yet I keep pushing on. I can’t stop. I keep going, as though there is no way it will ever end. Death won’t come as much as I beg it to.
I try again to look up, the sun is setting, then comes the cold–the loneliness and the unbearable cold. I can’t do this, anymore. Why can’t I just die? Please, let me die. The burden grows heavier with each step. My breath hitches in my throat, my mouth drier than the cracked ground I walk over. What I would do for a drink–I don’t even care what as long as I can feel moisture in my throat again.
This burden it’s too much and I collapse under it’s weight. Death? Will you eventually come for me? Then, just passed the great weight on my back, I see feet. They aren’t cracked or shredded like mine. Why is that? Haven’t they been walking this wilderness as I have? Their owner lies flat on the ground to look me straight in the eyes. They are so happy and open, yet there’s something about those eyes. Something different, it scares me, but somehow it also makes me feel safe. There, on the ground where I lie, he asks me if I need help. What a question, can’t he see the burden that’s brought me right to the ground?
“Yes!” I shout desperately. He points to the burden and asks if I want him to take it off. Again I shout yes. I need this man’s help–this man I met in the wilderness as darkness was about to encompass me and my only escape from it was death! I can almost feel his smile as he lifts it up and puts it on his own back–what? Why is he carrying it? It’s so heavy–how is he even standing? I was on flat on the ground with its weight! He grins at my amazed expression. It’s a compassionate smile, almost as though he was walking this wilderness in search for me. Why would he be here and why take my own burden onto his back? Who is he? What kind of man would help a stranger in the wilderness?
“What’s your name, sir?” I rasp. Instead of answering me, first, he gives me a bottle of ice cold water and then he says to me,
“I am the Lamb of God, I walk this wilderness in search of those who need me. You see many, many years ago I came into this wilderness as a traveler myself. I walked and watched the people around me doing whatever they could to get their burdens to go away, but all that happened was that they got bigger and bigger. My Father, Who had sent me here, and I knew what had to happen to help these people. You see, we’d watched and tried to help. We put our words into people who were willing to speak them to the world, but few listened. My father and I both knew from the very beginning what had to happen. So, my Father waited for the right time and then I came down to walk among you, but I myself never picked up any burden of my own. I walked in my Father’s will all the days of my life. Until, one day, the world killed me. Taking my life, because I made them see that their own burdens were what weighed them down and they didn’t care. You see, they were quite happy to keep picking up more and more burdens as they went. My Father and I knew this would happen, but that wasn’t the end of it. After I had been dead 3 days, I rose from the dead and walked the earth once more until my Father called me back home.”
“This is a lot to take in, sir.” I say, scratching my head quizzically. He grins once more at me and helps me up, carrying me as though I weigh nothing.
“There’s a lot more for you to learn, but walk this wilderness with me and I will carry you and teach you about my Father. If you would would like to? I will never force anyone to walk with me.” I look around me and see he has another ice cold bottle in his hand. It’s then that I realize I am all alone. This man in front of me–this stranger who holds me up–he’s the only one who came to help me.
“You have taken off my burden and have helped me when there was no one in sight. Who are you?” I ask. It still hasn’t sunk in. Everything he has said to me.
“I was a traveller as you are, yet I never did anything that caused me to carry a burden. When I was killed, all of your burdens–everyone’s burdens–fell on me. I walk here, looking for people who will let me help them. Will you let me help you?” When I look into those eyes, I see nothing but love shining from them. I’ve never seen such a pure love and never had anyone look at me like that. So I nod my head.
“Sir, thank you. If you will let me walk with you? You see my burden, it is of my own making. You see all that it contains, are you sure you want to walk with someone that’s done the things I have?”
“I see your burden. I know all you have done and all that you will. I love you despite that. If you walk with me your burden will be gone and no one will ever see it again. All of it is erased. You need never carry it again. Watch this!” He lifts the burden off his back and drops it to the ground as he does it, it’s gone! My jaw drops as I see this.
“How….” I don’t even know where to begin.
“I told you. It’s gone. I have taken it away. My Father and I no longer see it. I am your help in this wilderness and any mistake you make from here on, it’s gone. Tell me what you did and I can help you.” I fall to the ground again and start crying.
“I am no longer alone?” I weep at this stranger’s feet. This man who saw I needed help and without me asking, helped me and says I need never be alone again and that I need never carry that burden again. I can’t stand this time for all my weeping. He bends down again and places his hand on my back.
“No, you will never be alone again. I’m here now. From here on, it’s you and me together. Stay close beside me and you will be alright. At the end of this wilderness, I will take you into a place where you will never know suffering or loneliness. You will only know joy and peace.”
“You have asked me my name.” he says,” My name is “Jesus”.” We both smile. I take his hand and shake it.
“From here on, Jesus, I will never leave you. I want to be your friend.”
At the end of my life, when I close my eyes, I know one thing. I have walked beside the Son of God. He is my friend, my guide and my only help in this wilderness. At the end of my days, I will go into an eternal paradise. My wilderness looks less lonely and I am able to look up and see everything that I was blind to before. Jesus has never left my side and when I am lost, he always knows where to go. He is my salvation!
I woke up this morning feeling quite sad and dejected, but I just have the best parents. They reminded me that whatever God does He does for a reason. They told me that I need to be positive and my mother read Philippians 4 with me. It was all about having faith and not being afraid, but praying. The devotional she shared said that when we worry or are having a really bad day, we need to pray to God every time we have a negative thought. The author said that even if you do it out loud, like a looney toon, it doesn’t matter. Do it every time.
I got a work phone call from a mom in complete frustration and distress. It really helped me realize that I wasn’t the only one feeling dejected. We are all equally uncertain, dejected and feeling so alone. So I decided I would post what my mom read read to me. I hope this uplifts you, it brought me to tears because sometimes I struggle to see the good in my life. My little Jack Russell is sitting on my lap and she just yawned the cutest yawn and I got the biggest kiss. We are all blessed in so many ways and I believe if we had to sit down and make a list of EVERYTHING that we’ve been blessed with, we’ll realize our lives are better than we thought.
Philipians 4: 5 – 23.
4. Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.