Living On The Border Of Danger

My girl reclines in the dental chair. Her x-rays hang enlightened on the wall behind her.

“You need to wear this retainer,” the man says.

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Hard to believe two years had already passed, wearing braces. I didn’t really want to get braces for this daughter because her teeth were straight, her bite was just off a bit. She had the cutest crooked smile. But the doctor insisted that her teeth wouldn’t wear correctly, and she’d have trouble in her later years. But she had a gap in her front teeth for years, and I was told she needed this simple surgery to cut the gums between her teeth to allow her teeth to grow together. I didn’t buy it. And sure enough, her two front teeth grew together over time without surgery. Why did she really need braces? We don’t need perfection. My other daughter’s braces came off months ago, and she constantly jokes that it looks like she’s wearing dentures because her teeth are just too perfect. Too straight.

The dental assistant jumps up and runs toward me. “Did you hear there’s been a mountain lion spotted in your area?” She shows me a picture on her phone. “The dog at Tiger Mart got killed” (this is where we refuel our vehicles, and the sad irony …?).

I want to buckle over with grief. I figured there had been a mountain lion, bobcat, but I had no idea it still prowled around. My mind flashes back to nearly two years ago when our lamb had been killed and eaten. The guilt stabs me time after time. We didn’t protect Bindy like we should have. We didn’t  protect our property. I can still envision seeing her, going to my knees our on Texas land, crying, my husband dragging her sweet remains.

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Sandy and Bindy when we first brought them home, and they didn’t like us.
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Working hard to gain their love and trust. We miss our little black sheep of the family.

The same happened to my neighbor’s baby goat. They’d been searching for her, neither hide nor hair surfaced. That had been my warning, but I didn’t heed it. We didn’t realize the danger that lurked, that could so easily cross over into our property.

My heart still breaks at what Sandy witnessed. How long she stood nearby the scene, waiting for us to come out and help her. And from that moment on, she wouldn’t leave my side. She’d jump the entire fence to be with me.

Apparently, there’s been a mountain lion in our area for some time. No one’s stopped it. No one’s caught it. It leaves trails of death, sandy-powdery tracks. We hear about it from time to time.

Some are helpless to do anything about it, helpless to protect their large herds of livestock. How can they?

Some make light of it. Do they have nothing to protect? Have they not been injured?  Do they not understand? Do they not live in the danger zone?

We don’t make light of it anymore.

We basically live in a slim shade of fear. But that’s how the world is … carnivorous. I know that mountain lion needs to eat. And I adore mountain lions. Beautiful. But I don’t want my babies killed. Sheep meat might be purchased at the grocery store, but not my sheep meat. And I don’t want to be hurt or my girls hurt. I’ve heard of mountain lions tearing off people’s faces in broad daylight.

We walk our property line daily.

One must protect their own.

I think of the wall of fencing where we’ve enclosed our sheep. Blankets hang over the wiring to keep out the cold wind, to keep them warm and protected. We’ve done just about all we can do. We can’t keep them totally protected, there’s no way, so I pray the perpetrator isn’t that smart. Maybe it’s just enough to deter.

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Sandy couldn’t make it alone. She needed a companion. So here is baby Ginny.
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Ginny and Sandy

But a few weeks ago, my husband found a powdery print outside the pen in the sandy soil. Right outside the gate. I found the blanket that drapes against the wall of fencing half torn down. Like something had sought to devour.

Some mornings, the babies just seem spooked.

We put the sheep up every evening. By morning, if I think we’ve forgotten, I go into sheer panic mode, unable to recognize myself, until I see their sweet faces, see they’re safe. See that I really did protect them.

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Ginny and Sandy, all grown up
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Sandy and Ginny

My gaze returns to my daughter’s x-rays. The old x-rays versus the new ones. What? Look at those huge gaps in her back teeth. Goodness, that bite was really off. I look at my baby girl smiling. Perfect, straight teeth now.

Was it that bad before? Really? I didn’t realize they were so bad. Sometimes it takes comparing where we are now to where we were to see that we really needed change. Desperately needed change. The danger had just crept in so slowly. Year after childhood year.

“If you wear this retainer every day for six months and every night after that, your teeth will stay in place. They’ll be protected. Everything that you’ve worked all these years for will remain intact. It’s so important,” the dentist says, trying his best to enlighten her.

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My Texas–When You Wonder How to Survive a Natural Disaster


How do you survive a disaster? I don’t know. 

I had a completely different post ready for this week, but a tornado swirled through our Dallas area, leaving devastation in its wake. It traveled our I-30, turning vehicles upside down. Bodies strewn. My tires touch that I-30 weekly.

The warm weather we were experiencing has turned to rain and chilled air. 

And my heart is shivering from unbelief and fear and concern. 

I’m thankful to be safe. 

I was near the area when the sirens began blaring … driving home with my girls from a Christmas family gathering. My hands shook, my body trembled. Lightning lit the sky, one after another. No rain. When the sky brightened, the girls looked for tornadoes, as I drove.

But tornado warnings are a common, so common, occurrence here in Texas. You mentally blow it off for the most parttime after time, hiding out in the bathroom, and nothing happensuntil something like this happens. 

I have a dear friend who survived the major tornado in Wichita Falls, Texas, over 25 years ago … as a child … and you can believe she takes warnings seriously. When your entire house is missing except for the four walls of the tiny closet you and your three family members are standing in … you take it seriously. 

I just learned that our pediatrician’s office in Rowlett, Texas, was destroyed. 



Our dentist is there. Our daughter volunteers at the hospital there each summer. I have two cousins that work there at the cancer center. It’s real.

We have dear friends we haven’t heard from. I’ve heard their neighborhood was damaged. I pray they didn’t lose their home. I pray they weren’t hurt. But they weren’t at church today. Maybe they are out of town. I’m trying to find out.
**update … they are fine. Their home was damaged but not destroyed. However, the homes one street over were demolished.

Since my early 20s, I’ve witnessed an airplane crashB-52 on the air base, preparing for an air show. I was inches from being at a base hospital that was terrorized by a gunman, this is the hospital where we had doctor appointments, picked up our prescriptions, etc. The gunman killed and injured so many. Bloodied the walls. So a tornado … why should it surprise me? But like all else, it’s always something that happens in other states, other cities. But wow … this hits close to home. I was little more than a mile away from the destruction, as a crow flies, that evening. Traveling the same direction for a time, a lake separating us.

Destruction abounds.

What do you do in the aftermath? This is the best my heart’s got.

CRY

The only thing that comes to mind is an event that took place Christmas Eve. My daughter came to me in tears, holding a cherished childhood book called You and Me, Little Bear.

She was clearly hurting.

I said, “What’s wrong?”



CAST YOUR CARES 

She melted into my arms and sobbed, “This is my last Christmas as a teenager.”

Tears pooled in my eyes. She’s afraid. Change is coming, change has come, good or bad, and there is nothing any of us can do about it. We can’t reverse the clock. We can’t grasp hold of the past. We are helpless. 

She handed me a letter. I opened it and read these beautiful words:

“This has been a great year. I’m almost 18, getting ready for college, but these times, I’m always going to remember. I love you and thank you for picking me, for raising me a Godly girl. My last Christmas as a teenager. But no matter how old I get, I will always come home. I need my momma. I love you.”

CURL INTO THE ARMS THAT LOVE YOU


I asked her if I could read her bitty baby book to her, the one she held, like when she was little. She nodded. 



We sat on my bed, legs out straight, and I wrapped her in my arms. I read what I wrote to her so many years ago:



She smiled and said, “You were a writer even then.”

We giggled. More tears. I read. We looked for the hidden crickets amongst the sweet pages like we always did way back when. I closed the page and said, “You will always be my baby. Wherever I am, you will always have a home. And nothing will change until you are ready for it to.”

So … with all that said … I ask you to pray for Texas. Change and heartache come … that’s a real and unavoidable part of life. But there is relief in sharing the pain. Let yourself cry. Cast your cares on the God who loves you and on family and friends who love you. Focus on what is salvageable. Curl up in the heavenly and earthly arms that ease around your shoulders. Go through the motions, but still your heart until you are ready to take on the change.

I honestly don’t know. But this I know

“Love covers over all wrongs.” Proverbs 10:12