Our 14-year-old dog Abbey died last month. The day after she passed away my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so, and she dictated these words: Dear God, Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick. I hope you will play with her. She likes to swim and play with balls. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her. Love, Meredith We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had. Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, ‘To Meredith’ in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, ‘When a Pet Dies.’ Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note: Dear Meredith, Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized her right away. Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by. Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I’m easy to find. I am wherever there is love. Love, God Don’t say you’re too busy to forward this. Just go ahead and do it **SHARE**
One of the biggest cuts in government spending during the most recent fiscal cliff was to cut food stamps by over five billion dollars. Makes sense! Take from the poor, but keep those triple digit salaries coming for the top officials in the government, you know the ones who don’t do anything except argue and threaten each other! And don’t forget to send the checks over to other countries to feed their hungry and poor.
Sure, I know we had to cut somewhere, but does anyone actually sit down and think about what they are doing BEFORE they start cutting.
The food stamp program feeds an estimated 48 million people in the United States every month. According to the latest figures, a family of four will lose approximately $36.00 per month in benefits. Doesn’t sound like much, but in most cases, the family was already either doing without some meals or getting help from other sources, such as food pantries to supplement their food budget. Now if the family must take more money out of their budget to spend on food, they will surely cut down spending somewhere else. How will that help our flailing economy?
In addition to cutting the food stamp program, the government will also cut down subsidies to farmers of over $39 billion in the next decade. So now we aren’t just taking away the income farmer’s receive from selling their crops to feed the poor, but also taking away any help we might give them to produce that food. At the same time, the cost of fuel needed to run farm equipment, interest on farm loans, and the cost of seed continues to rise. Isn’t there somewhere else we could get this money from? Are we still subsidizing the billion dollar oil companies?
In the long run, these government spending cuts will reduce consumer spending and, with it, economic growth.
According to an article in the New York Times, these cuts could easily put more pressure on our already fragile economic recovery. The article states: “Measures that grant more spending power to lower-income people generally have strong effects throughout the economy because the money is spent immediately and then re-spent. Moody’s Analytics has estimated that every additional dollar spent on food stamps generates about $1.74 in economic activity.”
Even more harm will be done if unemployment benefits, which average $260 a week, are cut again or stopped outright at year-end. Nearly 37 percent of the nation’s 11.3 million jobless workers have been out of work for more than six months, still higher by far than at any time before the Great Recession.
With cuts in unemployment, farm subsidies and food stamps it seems more and more obvious that the government is less and less committed to combatting poverty. I once worked for a company whose economic development strategy was that if they didn’t help the poor population, it would just move somewhere else? Really? How? Maybe the poor could just move to another country, then they would be able to get help from the United States government to feed their families!
As parents, our number one job is to protect our children. We think we hit all the bases to teach our children what to do to avoid being violated or attacked.
We start at a young age, teaching Stranger Danger! We say, “Scream! Bite! Kick! Run! Walk in groups when you go somewhere. Don’t go out after dark alone or in a neighborhood you don’t know. Be aware of your surroundings at all times!”
But sadly the one thing often overlooked is the one thing we never should have to say. Beware of people you know and love because sometimes they aren’t who you think they are.
Some startling statistics from RAINN, the Rape, Assault Incest website at http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims:
- Every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted
- 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12
- Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7
- 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker
- 34.2% of attackers were family members.
- 58.7% were acquaintances.
- Only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim
Homes are violated every day, not by a criminal or someone off the street. No, even worse—parents, siblings or family friends, attack and rape children in their own home. Now, not only are the streets unsafe, but the one safe haven children thought they had is no longer safe.
Violated and alone, a child often will not tell their parents or loved ones when the incident happens. Sometimes it will be weeks, months or even years before the child is finally able to find the courage to step up and ask for help.
Rarely is it a matter of trust. More often, it’s a matter of fear. Fear of the person who assaulted them, fear of being called a liar, or fear of making people mad. Often even of making the person who assaulted them angry. After all, it was a family friend or perhaps another family member, someone the child believes their parents trust. It is all too easy for the child and the perpetrator to turn the incident around to place all of the guilt on the child. Guilt, fear and secrecy may give the perpetrator the power to continue the abuse.
Aided by the power of the cycle of fear, guilt and violence, sixty percent of sexual assaults will go unreported to the police and ninety-seven percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
Is it inconceivable then that rape and/or assault victims often do not get the help they need to work through the problems caused from the crime? If you know someone who has been a victim of a violent crime, or assault or rape, the most important thing you can do for them is to listen and believe them. If they are ready for counseling, help them find a reputable counselor. If there are not ready for face to face counseling, another alternative is a rape crisis hotline. You can find one through your local phone book, domestic violence hotline or from a counseling center.