loving kindness

Dad and MomI think most people have heard the Bible verse, John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” People may not realize that this is a Bible verse, but they know what they thought was an old saying. Either way, the verse was talking about Jesus dying on the cross to save the world from it’s sin, but I don’t think that was all it was about. It hadn’t really occurred to me before, but when my pastor was preaching a couple of weeks ago, this verse was part of his sermon. Of course, he talked about Jesus sacrifice, but suddenly something jumped out in my mind. This verse was about far more than Jesus sacrifice, or it wouldn’t have talked about the greater love a person can have if they choose to lay down their life for their friend. It was about how we are all supposed to be.

It was at that moment that a thought came to me. There is more than one way to “lay down your life.” Of Joann and Waltcourse, the verse meant to die for your friend, and many is the hero who has done that, but it occurred to me that dying is not the only way to lay down your life for someone. In fact, caregivers lay down their life all the time. They set aside their normal life activities, and take the time to take care of another person. I’m not trying to blow my own horn, but rather I want to talk about all of the many caregivers I know of and those I don’t, because their sacrifice is amazing. The patient they care for, would be in a nursing home, were it not for the loving kindness shown to them by a friend or family member who laid down their own life to give that time to another. It is one of the greatest showings of love there is, and it is also very rewarding for the caregiver, although sometimes it is sad too. For just a little bit of time, almost always a relatively short lived little bit of time, at least in the grand scheme of time, you have the chance to be the wind beneath their wings…the one who holds them up and cares for their needs…the one who had the privilege to lay down their own life to care for a loved one.
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Yes, greater love hath no man, than that a man lay down his life for his friend…to actually die for his friend, but there is another way that is just as wonderful, and just as loving…to lay down your own needs, desires, activities, time…to care for another human being who desperately needs your help. So here’s to all the Caregivers I know, and to all those that I don’t know. You truly are among the greatest of people on Earth, because you have make a sacrifice that shows the ultimate amount of love you had for your loved one. It makes me proud to be a part of such an elite, amazing group of people. Today is National Family Caregiver Day, and I hope it is an amazing day for all of you.

Reagan and Hattie Parmely among the giantsFor children who are raised around livestock, walking among the giants is not an unusual event…even when they are as young as one year old and just barely walking themselves. For those of us who are not around livestock on a daily basis, the thought of those little tiny children walking among those giant horses is not so common, and therefore a bit of a shock to our system when we see it. It’s not that I think that my niece, Ashley Parmely’s parents’ horses would hurt her girls, Reagan and Hattie, because they are obviously very gentle. No, what I really find amazing about seeing the girls with the horses is an absolute lack of fear. They have been raised around the horses, and the other animals they raise, so they know how to act around them. They know that the horses will be gentle to them, if they are gently toward the horses, and what I find especially sweet, is the instinctive gentleness the girls have around the horses.

So many kids tend to pet an animal roughly, pull on its tail, or even hit the animal, but Reagan and Hattie have a deep love for their horses, and they are so gentle with them. The horses, in kind, return that love back to the girls. Their feelings are just so obvious. You might not think that an animal can have a look of love Reagan and horseyon their face, but I think these horses do. I’m sure my nephew, Eric Parmely, and Ashley, his wife, have taken the necessary time to prepare the horses for these little girls to be around them, and especially on the ground near their feet, and I’m sure they have taught the girls how to act around the horses too. Still, how much teaching can a three year old and a one year old have had to have prepared them to be so gentle around these giants. Yet, they are just that…gentle, sweet, and loving toward the horses.

Animals can sense things about people. They know when people are afraid. They can tell when people will be mean. And they can tell when a person is kind and gentle. And I think that with Eric and Ashley’s little girls, Reagan and Hattie, the horses sense a loving kindness and a desire to care for the horses that many children just don’t possess. I don’t know if Ashley was always raised around horses or not, but for as long as this family has known her, she has been around her parents horses. To her they are a part of the family, and that is how she is raising her little girls too. It’s really no wonder that the girls are at ease around the horses, and the Hattie and horseyhorses around them. The girls probably seem like little sisters to them.

Nevertheless, I am still amazed that these two little girls are comfortable walking around with these giants. To me, the mere size of these horses would seem daunting if I were a girl as little as these girls. I love looking at these pictures though, because they portray a companionship that is very rare in the world I live in. I suppose that if I was raised on a ranch, maybe they would not seem so astonishing. And since, Reagan and Hattie will be raised in that environment, I suppose these are scenes that will not be so unusual. I think that these little girls will be very blessed to be comfortable, and yes, to just be allowed to walk among these giants.

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