This past weekend, we had an outdoor expo at Lake Fork Baptist Church. Among the many activities over the weekend, we were blessed with three performances of Hank Hough and his Amazing Dogs (www.kingdomdog.com).
The dogs truly were amazing. Hank wasn't bad either. At the 1 o'clock show last Saturday, we gave away an AKC Registered Lab puppy (valued at $600) named Lucy. Hank and his dogs visited some of the area schools on Friday and we promoted the puppy giveaway to hundreds of children.
There was a big crowd at Lake Fork Baptist at 1 o'clock Saturday. Lots of little boys and girls were praying to win the puppy while quite a few moms and dads were praying NOT to win a puppy! But this wasn't just ANY puppy. This was Lucy.
Lucy is a black lab puppy that stole all of our hearts with her sweet, gentle disposition. Lucy was given to us by a generous donor who believed in what we were doing. We received Lucy on July 29th, but the Expo wasn't until September 11th. Someone had to take Lucy in and care for her for 45 days.
Bob and Charlotte Orr took Lucy into their home. Lucy took the Orr's into her heart and snuck into theirs, too. Bob was the overall team leader of the Expo. He didn't have to take on this additional responsibility. But the burden of caring for a pet melted away and quickly became a labor of love. Lucy became a part of their family.
As the Expo drew near, we were able to secure twin yellow lab puppies a little younger than Lucy. They were both AKC Registered from a great bloodline as well. We had planned on giving one puppy away at the 1 o'clock dog show and another puppy away at a men's dinner, but now we had three puppies.
The temptation was strong for the Orr's to celebrate the addiontal dog and keep Lucy for themselves. But they decided to give all three puppies away. They began to pray for Lucy to be given to a little boy or girl who would love her, play with her, and be able to afford the best care for her.
September 11th came and the Orr's were overextended with all the duties of the Expo events. They were physically exhausted. But more than anything else, they were emotionally exhausted. It was a gut-wrenching day because they knew Lucy would be given away. They wanted her to go to the "best person" possible. They prayed to that end over and over all morning.
Charlotte sat on the back row as the drawing for Lucy took place. I could tell she was praying. I could tell she was struggling.
Finally, the name of the winner was called out. We all knew the name. We know the boy who won Lucy very well because he is at church every time the doors are opened. He and his brother started visiting Lake Fork Baptist about a year ago. A retired couple in our church invited them, picked them up from their small home, and brought them every Sunday and Wednesday.
These two boys didn't have much in the way of earthly possessions, but they certainly had a way of grabbing our hearts. We have helped the family with food and clothes, but not because they asked or expected it. We saw the need and wanted to help.
The boy who won Lucy was the first of their family to invite Christ into his heart. He was saved in the fall of 2009. A short time later, his brother accepted Christ, too. Both boys were baptized together on a Sunday night. Their dad and grandparents came to the baptism. We presented the good news of God's plan of salvation the night of their baptism and we began praying for the boys' dad and grandparents.
This past Easter, our children's department put on a play written by one of our church members. Those two boys were in the play. Their dad was at church again to see his sons in the play. The children in the play shared God's plan of salvation with the audience as clearly as I've ever heard it. They even led the congregation in a prayer to receive Christ. When the play was over, I reminded the congregation of that prayer and led them in it again.
After the play was over and the kids were taking down the set and removing their costumes, I was on the platform trying not to get run over by all the excited children when the dad of those two boys walked up onto the platform, shook my hand, smiled, and said, "I prayed that prayer just now."
We hugged and cried and I began to look for his boys. They had already made their way to the Family Life Center to eat ice cream. Their dad and I went looking for them. We found both boys and their dad told them that he had just accepted Christ as his Savior.
Both boys smiled real big. The boy who won Lucy pumped his fists and said, "Yes!" He told me time and time again that his dad was going to get saved because he had been praying for him. He was right.
We all know the boy who won Lucy. We know his family. We know their financial struggles. We've helped them. We've prayed for their dad to get a job and God gave him a job. The dad has become quite a testimony. He tells people they ought to come to Lake Fork Baptist because "those people will love you no matter what."
Before the Expo and just before the 1 o'clock show, many of us heard that boy say, "I'm gonna win the puppy." We just smiled and patted him on the head. When his name was called, there were quite a few jaws that dropped. But not his. His arms went straight into the air and he did the same fist-pumping motion he did when his dad got saved. He ran onto that stage as quick as lightning, fell on his knees, and wrapped his arms around Lucy. It was a sweet embrace.
I must admit, I had my concerns that the boy and the family would be able to afford to provide the care Lucy needed. Charlotte was more than a little concerned about the same thing. She was confused and upset. Not because of anything she had against this boy or his family. Not at all. She was concerned that they wouldn't be able to take care of Lucy. Quite frankly, Lucy had it made at the Orr's. She lived there in a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood with lots of neighbors who had dogs who were well cared for. To know the Orr's is to know that Lucy was loved and cared for by the sweetest of people.
After a couple of days of personal mourning, anguish, and prayer, Charlotte and Bob decided to buy Lucy some food and medicine and take it to her. They called the Children's Minister and asked her to go with them to Lucy's new home so they could see Lucy and take her the food and medicine. The Children's Minister agreed to go with them. Charlotte then called the number where Lucy now lives and spoke with the boys' grandmother to get permission to come by on Thursday (tomorrow).
I'll let Charlotte tell the rest from an email I received from her this morning:
"My conversation with her (the grandmother) is one I will never forget. She said that today started with she and the grandson and Lucy on the front porch waiting for the school bus. Lucy's new proud owner got on the bus after saying good-bye to Lucy and her tail was just wagging. After the bus left, her tail quit wagging. She was already missing him. When her new owner came home she (Lucy) was so excited to see him. They were playing with her when I called. We had told the boy who won Lucy that Lucy needs to go out in the morning by 6:30 am . The grandmother said her grandson cannot normally get up in the mornings, but now he gets up at 6:15 am , gets dressed, and takes Lucy out. He also takes her out at 9:00 pm before he goes to bed. Lucy has not had an accident in their home. I told her we would see her Thursday and she said ok. I hung up the phone and told Bob the conversation and we both cried."
Charlotte then came to the following conclusions: "God knew what He was doing when that boy’s name was drawn. All the 'things' that we all have do not generate the most important thing and that is Love. I am convinced that the boy who won Lucy loves Lucy. The family may not have a lot of 'things', but when I hung up the phone I knew that Lucy was cared for and loved. I have cried most of today and I have had many talks with God. I prayed and asked Him to take care of Lucy and He did. I tried to control the situation and all the time God was in control. I know this, but I continued to try to help Him. Only now have I given everything back to God."
Charlotte knows that the family will need help with Lucy because the food, medicine, and veterinarian bills can get costly, so she has started the “LUCY SOCIETY’ to help provide for her and to give whatever help she can to a truly needy family.
After reading Charlotte's email and wiping away a ton of tears, I began thinking about all of these events. Things we often can't see when prayers aren't answered "our way" can become clear when we give them up to God and trust that He knows what He is doing.
Maybe God's plan is two-fold: 1) To let Lucy love a young boy who will return her unconditional love. Anyone who knows this little boy knows his heart is filled to overflowing with love. 2) To find a way -- a way named Lucy -- to help us truly get involved in helping a needy family. Yes, we have already helped them in the past. But have we loved them like God loves them? Have we gone the second mile? Has God sent this family to us as an example of how His love for us should be imitated by us toward them?
There's a deeper meaning -- a parable, if you will -- for all of us in the story of Lucy and the boy she loves.
Wiping doggone - correction - dogSHARED tears because Lucy is shared, not gone.