karigraceplace – where hope springs eternal

How do you change your world? One word at a time, one heart at a time

Floundering in a Foxhole

When I get an idea in my brain I usually can’t shake it until I’ve shared it, and such was the case for this past week.
The thought? Rather random, I’m afraid, but very simple… I’m convinced there is no such thing as an unbeliever in a foxhole.
I read a story recently that touched on a nerve, and something started to make a whole lot of sense.
As the story goes, a full-blown colonel was being shipped out overseas and he contacted a friend of his, a fairly well-known preacher. They agreed in prayer for his safe return, and the colonel really didn’t think very much of it.
On arrival in the country he was assigned the platoon with the highest fatality rate. His very first step was to require all of the men under his command to learn Psalm 91. They didn’t have to believe it, agree with it, or even like it, they just had to learn it. The body count dropped immediately. To zero. Throughout his tour there, only a few men were injured, very minor incidents which healed extremely quickly. The platoon suffered no other casualties whatsoever.
When his tour of duty was completed he was shipped home to the States. Within two weeks the fatality of his former platoon had gone right back up; in fact, it was higher than before. He called his preacher friend for wisdom, because, understandably, he was totally confused. The preacher explained that once the anointing had left, and the motivation to obey the Word was gone, the men had reverted back to their old habits.
It’s not that God didn’t move: He did. But we have to make room for Him. If our lives are on a path away from His presence, how can He manifest?
Why would you not want to live in safety? Protection? Security? Fullness of joy? Beats me. What’s not to want?
Kari, the focused
all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved


It’s been a while since I blogged and I just can’t stand it anymore – I have to speak up.  Calling all dreamers…

I’m wired to be an encourager, and the older I get the more I enjoy being behind others, helping them fulfill their own dreams.  However, just today I was reminded that this ain’t necessarily so.

I have this really weird weakness, one I’m man enough to admit to.  I’m attracted to passion.  You can steer a moving car.  Apathy repels me, in fact.  On that sensitive subject, one of my biggest hot buttons is dream killers.  Dream stealers I can handle; when I did a little deeper I find they’ve often lost their own dreams and are just hurt and wounded.  A stolen dream I can get back real quick, usually the moment I leave.

Dream killers are another breed entirely.  They will not only kill it, they’ll stomp on it, spit on it, and usually stuff it in the trash bin, throwing a whole lot of garbage on top of it.  Now that takes a little longer to reclaim.

In Genesis 37 verse 19 the New Living Translation says something that has stuck with me over the years.  “Here comes the dreamer!”  I love being around dreamers, and builders.  I feel refreshed and rejuvenated when I walk away.  I want to be like that.

I have many privileges in life, and try hard not to take them lightly.  One of them is the wonderful blessing to work out with a small group of gals.  If I make it to her house when she’s having it, I get to participate.  She trains women for free.  Just because she can.  She’s about 4 foot 9 and around 102 pounds.  When I grow up I want to be a lot like her.  She’s amazingly strong.  Looks can be extremely deceiving.  I call her the Paminator.  If you came, you’d know why.

My brain is always working, always creating stories, so I tend to forget lessons learned sometimes.  This morning was a classic reminder of this.  Three on-fire, Holy Ghost filled, normally edifying women can turn on a dime.  I made the mistake of sharing a dream close to my heart, and lived to tell the tale.  Faster than a speeding bullet, those same tongue-talking, Word-walking women became dream killers.  They will usually tell you all kinds of encouraging verses, in any given situation.  Unless, apparently, you talk about becoming a writer.  Sharing stories you believe will change your world.  Caveat emptor (buyer beware.)  Makes me thing of the quaint English phrase, “here be dragons”.  History says this was written on maps where in regions they had yet to explore, as a warning that this was uncharted territory.  Except this was, for me.  I just forgot.

I spent the next 20 minutes on the drive home reviving the dream.  Hopefully this lesson will be learned for permanent, and I won’t bring up that subject again.  I’m not like that.  It’s hard for me to be around someone who is one way in a certain situation and another in a different one.  I’m pretty much the same wherever I am, whoever I’m with.  Happy, bubbly, talkative, creative, loving, a highly people-person: that’s me.  And I love investing in dreams.  My own, and others.

So I’m begging you today, dear reader, don’t be a dream stealer.  Or a dream killer.   Be a dream builder.  John Maxwell once said that he wanted to be a dream builder and a people builder.  Me too.  It will make for a much better world.  Just a thought.

Kari, the dreamer

all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved


I was having an Eeyore day the other day, and when I came home I couldn’t ignore the dandelions growing in the garden any more. I do avoid things I’m not ready to address, I admit it, but that day I knew it was time. I took a deep breath and started pulling them up. As I leaned over to grab one more unwanted plant, I realized a very profound truth I’d lost sight of, something I’m man enough to admit to also, since I haven’t cared about my “reputation” for years. My youngest child can attest to that. I really have no respect for reputation. Jesus made HIMSELF of no reputation; that’s good enough for me.

Simple truths are so freeing. My eyes had been opened, one more time, by a patient, loving, gracious God. I had a choice: I could curse the dandelions, or thank God for a garden. If I had no garden, I’d have no dandelions… I might also be homeless, so I’d have no worries about any garden at all. I made a decision that day: rather than curse the dandelions, I’ll thank God for the garden. Yes, I’m very human and there are many things in my life right now that I don’t particularly care for, unwanted dandelions being the very least of them. Everywhere I look I can see dandelions, in the form of problems, if I choose; I’d rather look for the blessings. A thankful heart is irresistible, and irrepressible. Doncha just love being around thankful folks? I sure do. They encourage, and build up, and just plain make you feel good..

I was reminded of a book I’ve been reading by Daniella Whyte, entitled 365 Days of Thanking God. For a young gal she has a whole lot of wisdom. Daniella makes the valid point that when someone holds a position of power, in any area of life – and we all do; every last one of us have a sphere of influence, which gives us power over somebody – if they’re not thankful, abuse of power is inevitable. That made me come back to the dandelions. How many people in my days have seemed like an inconvenience? An interruption to my busy schedule? I should be thanking God He had allowed them to come into my life, giving me the opportunity to take a moment and minister to them so they feel better when they leave than before they arrived. How come I let these elementary foundational principles let slip so easily? Ouch!!! I don’t know who’s watching my attitude as I’m out in the yard, blessing the dandelions. I surely don’t pay attention to who’s listening. Maybe i should. I’m influencing, whether I know it or not.

Today I have a thought to offer you, dear reader. How many dandelions do you have in your life? A bunch, I’ll bet. Well, I have a deal for you… how ’bout we start thanking our loving heavenly Father for the garden, and just man up and pull up the dandelions? Just a thought.

Kari, the dandelion-puller
all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Holiness

Hebrews 12 verse 14 says something that’s been on my heart a lot recently:

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

I got to thinking about our uncertain times, and how we live in a country obsessed by the politically correct to the point of insanity. I’m tired of having my first amendment rights trampled upon, so I’m speaking out a little truth, if you don’t mind.

A little woman by the name of Maise Sparks wrote a book I’d never heard of until recently, called 101 Things God Cannot Do. But it got me thinking. Here’s my version:

10 Things God Can’t Do

He cannot lie                                                                                                             Hebrews 6:18

He cannot change                                                                                                     Malachi 3:6

He cannot sin                                                                                                            Leviticus 11:44

He cannot get tired                                                                                                   Isaiah 40:28

He cannot be stopped                                                                                              Daniel 4.35

He cannot break a promise                                                                                      Psalm 89:34

He cannot abandon you                                                                                           Deuteronomy 31:6

He cannot stop loving you                                                                                       Jeremiah 31:3

He cannot stop thinking of you                                                                                Psalm 139.17-18

He cannot remember admitted sin                                                                          Isaiah 43:25

Computers are amazing, but sometimes things get lost in translation. Or saving. I discover all kinds of interesting stuff when I start a search! Here’s a for-instance:

10 things the devil can’t do!   

He can’t demand your absolute obedience                                                            Romans 6:16

He can’t make you live in fear, unless you let him                                                  Psalm 27:1

He can’t make you depressed or oppressed, if you don’t let him                           Psalm 42:11

He can’t make you feel condemned, or keep you down                                        2 Corinthians 4:8-9

He can’t be the source of anything but evil                                                           John 10:10

He can never be your friend                                                                                  2 Corinthians 6:14

He can never fool you when you know the Shepherd                                           John 10:5

He can never have authority in your life you don’t give him                                  Luke 10:19

He will never be in charge, because Someone else is, and always will be  Psalm 22:28

He will never win, ultimately, because the fight has already been won                1 Corinthians 15:57

The original one was created by someone known on Sparkpeople.com as “Rev Trev”, but of course I had to Karify it, like almost everything I do…

I’d like to leave you with a quote that absolutely says it all, for me:

During the big kerfuffle (as my mother would say) about Chick-Fil-A and their right to put as many restaurants in as many parts of Chicago as they please and believe God has told them to, I learned this and it kinda stuck with me.

“As an American you are legally entitled to your opinion, regardless of how insensitive and intolerant it may be, but as a fellow American and an elected member of Philadelphia City Council; I am entitled to express my opinion as well,” James Kenney, a Philadelphia city councilman, wrote in a letter to the company’s president. “So please – take a hike and take your intolerance with you. There is no place for this type of hate in our great City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection”… (even though they are adding to the local economy… kg).

Question: Who’s intolerant of whom? Last time I checked, we still had that right to freedom of speech thing. Of course, I could be wrong.

If you want to read the whole article, go here:


Kari, the happy-in-her-righteousness-standing gal

all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

Buff Enough

For all those truly saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost men out there, an enquiring mind really does want to know. But I’ll get to that later. Right now I have a story to share. It’s short, I promise.
Today is a special day for me. It only comes around every 365 days or so, and it’s a miracle. I’m 50 something today, and I shouldn’t even be here. Ask, and I’ll tell. But back to the story.
While in the grocery store recently, minding my own business, I was reminded afresh why certain people are no longer in my life. Let me explain.
The guy in front of me was grabbing his grocery bags and I wasn’t really paying attention because, like I said, I was minding my own business. Then I heard my name. I looked up and recognized a guy who used to be in my church, and used to be in my life. Four years ago. It had to do with a motorbike. One of my secret sins is an obsession for motorbikes. That’s how he got into my life. I never said I didn’t have surface moments.
This guy occasionally calls me, and hints that he wants back in my life. I think it’s when he’s between girlfriends but I could be wrong. I always refuse. With good reason. Here’s why.
The next statement after my name was, “You’re not working out any more, are you?”
After getting over the shock of that, and not really thinking ahead, I walked right into it.
“Why?” I asked.
“’Cos you’re not as buff as when I knew you.”
Wow. How to win friends and influence people. Now I had to deal with being insulted in public. Which took me a minute. Then I thought, ‘Yep, there’s a reason you’re no longer in my life… now I remember why.’
First of all I had a big wooly sweater on, and there was no way he could make an informed decision.
Second, I was dirty and smelly since I’d just come from the dog park.
Third, it was all I could do to bite back, “Well, Mr. Atlas, have ya looked in the mirror recently?!!!”
But, being the good little Christian that I am, that wouldn’t be a good witness now would it? Still, I was sorely tempted.
I decided to keep my eyes on Him and not on the waves. After a quick prayer heavenward I was able to make small talk as we walked outside but it surely was a crossroads moment. Things could have gotten very ugly. I still remember BC. Apparently a few people I know have some unrealistic expectations of their own.
Now the question: For all those truly saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost men out there, an enquiring mind really does want to know – how buff is buff enough? How buff does a 50 something single gal have to be, to be acceptable in your eyes? Do tell. Then I’ll have a goal to work towards. I’m so very thankful for Ephesians 1.6. I’m accepted in the Beloved. Will you do the same?
Kari, the not-buff-but-content-in-Jesus gal
all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

Preachin’ To The Choir

I just heard a current stat that absolutely floored me. 98% of all preachers are preaching to 4% of the world’s population. How do we reconcile that with obedience to Mark 16 verse 15, Go ye into all the world and make disciples? Not to mention, Preach the gospel to every creature? Are we laying down on the job? Are we doing a good job of the Great Commission? Is God pleased with us? All these thoughts and more are running around in this redhead’s head today. There are those who are obeying this mandate, obviously, but apparently the majority of those called to preach elsewhere… are not.

Maybe it’s just me but I’m about to turn 50 something and I’ve begun thinking more and more about the inevitable and sometimes impending day of judgment. I’m not sinless, but I strive to live a righteous holy life every day through the power of the Holy Spirit. To the best of my ability I am fulfilling, in part, my calling from Papa, Abba, the lover of my soul and the stronghold of my life: to write.

Every one of us has a calling from the Most High God, and we will all be held accountable one day for what we did and didn’t do. We are not judged by any other standard but obedience. I asked myself today a hard question – am I so addicted to creature comforts that I’m unwilling to go where He sends me? I’m totally OK for my stories to reach “the uttermost parts of the earth”, but me? Not so much. Have I really left all to follow Him? I like to think so, but when those ‘rubber meets the road’ moments happen I see plainly how far I fall short. As usual, I find myself thankful that His mercies are, indeed, “new every morning.” I’m living proof.

I want to live my life in such a way that, like Saint Augustine once said, I preach the gospel at all times, if necessary using words. I also want to take a whole truckload of others with me when I leave here. My prayer today is that I complete another part of my life mission, Proverbs 11.30, “he that winneth souls is wise.” Maybe not face to face, but I can write. I have no fear of man any more, I graduated with an A in Peopleology and I don’t give a flying fart in space what they think any more, since the only One I live to please is the One who died to give me life.

This bright and chilly North Carolina day my only prayer is this: may my words be anointed, and bring lost souls into the kingdom of God. Dear reader, I pray the same for you – may you fulfill all of the calling upon your life, and profoundly influence your generation and eternity to come.

Kari, the pen in the hand of an eternal God

all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved


U2 was the name of an Irish band formed in 1976. I don’t recommend them for your viewing pleasure…  if you’re a saved, sanctified, Holy-Ghost-filled child of God… but they’re still around. Me being me, my mind tends to wander at the most inopportune of times, and this time it did it during Sunday service. Shock! Horror! Yep, I’m nothing if not transparent and I’ll admit my weakness in a heartbeat because , as my former worship pastor, Scott Schazline, so eloquently put it, “it’s the humble that get the help”. I for one need all the help I can get!

After all, my Daddy says that when I’m weak I’m actually strong, or so He claims in 2 Corinthians 12 verse 10. I happen to believe Him. My mother made a random comment to me last week that’s been buzzing around in this redhead’s head – I can’t get it out until I share it. Please forgive me, and humour me. Ya might just a learn a little something. Her comment was merely, “I’m getting quite militant these days.”  Well, my “U2” moment came yesterday morning and turned out to be Unashamed and Unafraid. Now that’s a U2 I can live with. I’m so tired of the ACLU telling me what I can and cannot think, say, or do. I want to ask their president who died and made them the Pope. Who I have great respect for, incidentally. It seems these days everyone has the right to freedom of expression but the ones who happen to disagree with mainstream ideas. Which, after all, is the point of Christianity in the first place. The book of Acts is full of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things through the anointing of an extraordinary God, amazing and astounding bystanders everywhere. My pastor, James Al Brice, once said that we are not a sub-culture, we’re a counter-culture. How true that is. A sub-culture often blends in and sooner or later becomes absorbed by the dominant force. I refuse to be absorbed by anything but the love of God, the goodness of God, the mercy of God. Did I mention I’m getting quite militant these days?

It seems I’m in a season of being consumed by the former. The love of God. At the risk of seeming redundant my pastor says that God IS love, He doesn’t HAVE love. So if He IS love, and we’re His kids, what will we transform our world with? Even I can get that concept. No social program in the world has every set a heart on fire or transformed a hardened criminal, given lasting hope to the hopeless or fed a hungry child. What’s love got to do with it? Everything. My Wednesday night bible study teacher says we’re a courier and carrier of God, and have inherited His DNA. After all, history proves that what the world needs now is love, sweet love. And there’s no greater love I know of than the One who considered me worth dying for. I’m His favourite kid. You can be too, if you want to be. You can have as much of God as you want to have. I’m all in. A little dab won’t do me any more. I’m diving in the deep end.

One last thing. My current worship leader, Crisie Hutchins, says this song is “the gospel in 7 minutes”. Wow! How powerful is that? I agree.

In this season of giving, I’ve decided of all the things I can give to those I love the most I’m going to give what they need the most. Agape Love. You?

Kari, the courier and carrier extraordiaire

all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

Catching Fire

For those of you who are interested in what’s going on in a redhead’s head today, it’s totally random. Big surprise. And it has to do with hunger, fire, and birds. No disrespect intended, but she didn’t invent it.  Suzanne Collins, that is. The Maker of the universe and all it contains did. Incidentally, He also invented the Hunger Games, not to mention He created the mockingjay too; maybe she’s on the right track… just sayin’. Who’d have thunk it?

May I offer you a couple of thoughts to ponder this day, so close to Thanksgiving? First, the Anglo Saxon root word of Thanksgiving is very interesting. More on that in a future blog. For now, how about this free chicken? (That’s what a good friend of mine, Arthur O’Neal, calls the revelations he sprinkles throughout his teachings.) 1) The God who put the stars in place and created you in the womb of your mother has offered to fill you to overflowing, actually “filled and flooded” is how Ephesians puts it, with His spirit, and when He first gave the Holy Spirit He manifested as tongues of fire. Have ya caught fire yet? 2) He created you with a God-shaped hole inside you’ll never get away from that cannot be satisfied by anything but Him. How cool is that? Oh yeah. The original Hunger Games began with God. Did I mention that? Lastly, 3) There is a lot of controversy surrounding the mockingjay. Did Suzanne invent it, or does it actually exist? In her book the government was into cross-breeding animals for an ulterior motive, and I couldn’t help but think of Dolly the Sheep. In the Amplified Bible the very first verse of the bible says that God “prepared, formed and fashioned” the heavens and the earth.  On the fifth day, in verse 20, God told the waters to “swarm with living creatures” and to “let birds fly over the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” Granted, He didn’t specifically mention every fowl known to man, but to my way of thinking that’s just got to include a mockingjay or two in there somewhere. Best of all, He “approved it” when He was all done making the animals. How about that? He actually liked them!

Then He made man. Ouch. Does that tell you a little about how much help.  Any time I need to get my dogma straight, I just remember He can do His thing just fine without me. If that don’t bring you to your knees and realize Big He, small me, nothing will. How ‘bout this Thanksgiving you participate in the Hunger Games and Catch Fire on the inside? Are you up for it? You may even catch sight of a mockingjay.

Who, I would remind you, will be praising Him because Romans 1.20 and 21 say that “ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes… His eternal power and divinity, have been intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], 21 because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor or glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reason, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened” (emphasis mine).

Kari, the caught-fire and sharing it

all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved


It Matters

A colleague reminded me last week of a lesson I’d forgotten. It’s the story of how powerful one action can be. If you’re at all interested, please feel free to read on:
I was given a copy of a poem that’s been on my fridge for ever, but I’m afraid my fridge is rather “busy”. Always has been. So this poem gets lost in the shuffle. Since my colleague brought it back to my remembrance I thought I’d share it with my fellow bloggers.

As I walked along the seashore, this young boy greeted me.
He was tossing stranded starfish back to the deep blue sea.
I said, “Tell me why you bother, why waste your time this way?
There’s a million stranded starfish – does it matter, anyway?”

He said, “It matters to this one. It deserves a chance to grow.
It matters to this one; I can’t save them all, I know.
But it matters to this one: I’ll return it to the sea.
It matters to this one, and it matters to me.

I walked into the classroom; the teacher greeted me.
She was helping Johnny study: he was struggling, I could see.
I said, “Tell me why you bother, why waste your time this way?
Johnny’s only one of millions – does it matter, anyway?”

She said, “It matters to this one. He deserves a chance to grow.
It matters to this one; I can’t save them all, I know.
But it matters to this one: I’ll help him be what he can be.
It matters to this one, and it matters to me.”

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity -M. L. King

Does the “one” in our life matter? I happen to believe they do.
Kari, the focused and caring
almost all original content, copyright © 2000, karigraceplace.com, all rights reserved

Me and You and a Dog Named Tank

The two most powerful things in existence: a kind word and a thoughtful gesture.
– Ken Langone
Yes, dear, I know it’s really Boo, but where’s the fun in that? And pay attention, or you might just miss the lesson. I’d been reading a lot about PTSD recently, again, and was reminded of this story that, whether true or false – there are both sides claiming ownership out there on the net – is heartwarming nonetheless. We never really know the real story behind the story until we see the end. Here’s one I love:
They told Tom the big black Lab’s name was Reggie as he looked at him lying in his pen. Tom had only been in the area for six months, but everywhere he went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open.
But something was still missing as he attempted to settle in to his new life, and he thought a dog couldn’t hurt.
At first, he thought the shelter had misjudged him in giving up Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner. See, Reggie and Tom didn’t really hit it off when they got home. They struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter said to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that Tom was trying to adjust, too.
For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls … he wouldn’t go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of Tom’s other unpacked boxes.
Tom tried the normal commands the shelter told him he knew, ones like stay and come and heel, and Reggie would follow them … when he felt like it. He never really seemed to listen when his name was called. When he was asked again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey.
The relationship just wasn’t working. Reggie chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes. Tom was a little too stern with him and he resented it. The friction got so bad that Tom couldn’t wait for the two weeks to be up, and when it was, he was in full-on search mode for his cell phone amid all of his unpacked stuff.
Related: A Story About Living as Told by a Six Year Old Boy About His Dog
Finally he found it, but before he could punch up the shelter’s number, he also found Reggie’s pad and other toys from the shelter. Tom tossed the pad in Reggie’s direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm that he’d shown since arriving at his new home.
But then Tom called, Hey, Reggie, you like that? Come here and I’ll give you a treat. Instead, he sort of glanced in his direction … maybe ‘glared’ is more accurate … and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down, with little to no interest.
Well, that’s not going to do it either, Tom thought. And he punched the shelter phone number.
But he hung up when he saw the sealed envelope. It had been completely forgotten and ignored until now. ‘Okay, Reggie,’
Tom said out loud, lets see if your previous owner has any advice.
The note was addressed:
To Whoever Gets My Dog:
Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner.
I’m not even happy writing it.
My last visit with my dog was when I dropped him at the shelter. He knew something was different… I had packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time … it’s like he knew something was wrong. And something was wrong … which is why I had to try to make it right.
So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.
First, he loves tennis balls, the more the merrier. Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hordes them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there.
Hasn’t done it yet. Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after it, so be careful … really don’t do it by any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.
Next, commands. Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I’ll go over them again: Reggie knows the obvious ones …sit, stay, come, heel. He knows hand signals: back … to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and over … if you put your hand out right or left. Shake … for shaking water off, andpaw … for a high-five. He does down … when he feels like lying down … I bet you could work on that with him some more.
He knows ball, and food and bone and treat like nobody’s business. I trained Reggie with small food treats. Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog. Feeding schedule: twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at six in the evening. Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.
He’s up on his shots. Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with yours; they’ll make sure to send you reminders for when he’s due. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car … I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.
Finally, give him some time. I’ve never been married, so it’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain. He just loves to be around people and me most especially. This means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new.
And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you …
His name’s not Reggie.
I don’t know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them his name was Reggie. He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt but I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name. For me to do that, it seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I’d never see him again. And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything’s fine.
But if someone else is reading it, well … well it means that his new owner should know his real name. It’ll help you bond with him. Who knows, maybe you’ll even notice a change in his demeanor if he’s been giving you problems.
His real name is Tank … because that is what I drive.

Again, if you’re reading this and you’re from the area, maybe my name has been on the news. I told the shelter that they couldn’t make Reggie available for adoption until they received word from my company commander.
See, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with … and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call the shelter in the event to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.
Well, this letter is getting too downright depressing, even though, frankly, I’m just writing it for my dog. I couldn’t imagine if I was writing it for a wife and kids and family. But still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family.
And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.
That unconditional love from a dog is what I took with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible thing … and to keep those terrible people from coming over here.
If I had to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so. He was my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades…
All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. I don’t think I’ll say another good-bye to Tank, though. I cried too much the first time. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight every night from me.
Thank you, Paul Mallory
Tom folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure he had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously being awarded the Silver Star because he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.
He leaned forward in his chair, rested his elbows on his knees, and said quietly: ‘Hey, Tank’. The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.
C’ mere boy.
He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted; searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months.
Tank, Tom whispered. His tail swished.
He kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. Tom stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried his face into his scruff and hugged him.
It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.
Tank reached up and licked his cheek. So whatdaya say we play some ball? His ears perked again. Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball? Tank tore from Tom’s hands and disappeared in the next room.
And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.
A word can really change a heart. And so can love.
Kari, the work-in-progress
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