Where is the Fish?


This past April my wife and I bought a fancy fantail goldfish for our grandson, Connor, for his birthday. We, of course, let Connor pick it out, along with all the “stuff” that one needs for a new goldfish: rocks, tank, decorations, etcetera. Naming animals is always a family affair with us and this new pet was no exception. It took an hour or so and several discarded candidates before my wife offered up the winning moniker: Jonah. Connor loves old Jonah and is so cute watching him and especially at feeding time when he almost always says, “Papaw, somebody looks hungry!”, which makes me laugh every time the event it repeats itself.

A little over a week ago Jonah began to act odd: Staying hidden and low in his tank almost all the time, not being at all active and not eating, something he excelled at! I diligently changed his filer, added medicines and anti-stress “stuff”, and performed multiple partial water changes trying to revive his health. At one point it looked like Jonah had turned the corner, too, but alas it wasn’t to be: Jonah went to the big fish tank in the sky late last Saturday.

My wife wasn’t too concerned about the tragedy, she thought a four year-old wouldn’t even notice the fish was gone. But I had doubts, big ones, that she would be correct on this issue. Time would surely tell who was right and who wasn’t since Connor would be back with us Monday after school through Tuesday evening.

Monday my little buddy came home exhausted, as he often is at the start of the week, and wanted only to have his favorite after school snack and relax while watching some Scooby Doo episodes. My wife thought that this proved her point: Connor didn’t really pay much attention to that fish. And to be honest, I thought that she might have been correct on this now ,too. But Tuesday changed everything…

Connor hadn’t been home from school more than 10 minutes when he looked at me and asked “Papaw, where Jonah at?”. My response hadn’t been thought through or rehearsed in any way, I was shooting from the hip, when I answered him “He is at the fish doctor. He got sick, like Gypsy did and had to stay at the dog hospital, and will be home Friday.”. Without missing a beat, I had avoided “the death talk” and a crying little boy; I was pretty proud of myself I have to admit!

Part of my errands today involved picking out a “new” Jonah. I had studied that fish, both before and after his demise, pretty well so as long as there was one in-stock I’d be in good shape, I was sure of that. They lady who netted my pick of the tank was pretty patient with me (after I told her the story), netting and releasing at least three other fish before finally chasing down the soon-to-be Jonah; he was a spunky fish that eluded her for several minutes, I was glad to see that zest in him.

When “we” got home I realized that I had yet to clean out the old tank for the new fish. So, I set Jonah (it’s officially his name at this point) safely aside in his bag and began to clean, rinse, and wash the tank and the entire contents. I must have had help setting the tank up the first time, though I don’t recall it. I made quite the mess sloshing the tank and water across the kitchen to the metal cart that serves as the fish tank stand, which I;d have to clean up, and is still drying as I write this. But within an hour the tank and all of its “stuff” were cleaned and dry and Jonah was in the fresh, treated water, looking pretty happy to boot.

As I cleaned up the mess I began to contemplate the decision I had made to spare my young grandson “the death talk” at this time. It was during this time that I remembered that my own children were merely five and seven when they experienced their first real encounter with death: My grandmother’s death in October 1995. I hadn’t expected them to react with the emotion they did: They were too young to really grasp it I had, in my youthful ignorance,, thought. But they most assuredly were not too young I quickly learned, as I comforted them and wiped their tears, still somewhat in shock myself both at their grief and in my own.

Sooner or later we will all experience death on some level, be it a “Jonah” type situation or one like that of my grandmother’s passing. Did I do Connor any favor by avoiding “the death talk” over Jonah? Was “saving” it for another time/creature/person really a good idea? In retrospect, probably not. Now I don’t know if the knowledge of death will come to him through a small matter, like a goldfish, a larger one, perhaps one of our dogs, or worse of all from a family member. And I don’t know who or how that event will be dealt with. If I had it to do over with I would have handled it very differently. Hopefully I have learned a valuable lesson here and will use it to good effect in the future.

Dog vs Deer: The Winner?

James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

You probably remember the incident last fall when Jack, our dog, ran away and fell into a swimming pool, nearly drowning. Of all the ways for a dog to die I thought that one was about the least expected way for it to happen; in case you don’t remember he didn’t die and other than being cold and exhausted was fine. Well, Jack has just about out done himself and my imagination.

On Saturday morning Billie and I were having a cup of coffee on the back deck. Our two dogs, Gypsy and Jack, were playing in the yard. Suddenly we heard a ruckus in the yard adjacent to our’s; a young deer was stuck between the fence and some vines growing the neighbor’s yard. The deer managed to escape the tangle and jump into our yard, where the chase was on!

After all the excitement died down (Gypsy chased it into the fence, three times it bounced off, and out of the yard while Jack ran for cover with “mom and dad”) we realized Jack had been stomped by the deer; he was sporting a nasty scrape, the hair literally cut from his side. He was, and is, very sore but no worse for the wear thankfully. So, I have to admit that a dog being stomped to death in his own fenced in yard would definitely top the list for odd ways for an animal to meet his demise.

Just in the blink of and eye Jack was almost dead (again). There is no difference in how fast he could take his last breath and how quickly our earthly end could come.

God’s Word warns us to be ready to leave at any moment; we aren’t guaranteed one more breath. Think about it…

A Wonderful Day

John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full.

I hope that each of you had a wonderful Easter; I did. I was privileged to attend both morning and evening services at my home church, with the honor and privilege of bringing the evening message, had a very nice dinner with my family and spent some quality time with my wife and grandson after dinner. But you know what really made the day for me? During the morning service a young man gave his life to Christ! What a more wonderful and appropriate way to celebrate Easter than to see one die out to sin and be raised to eternal life? There is none. Every child of God should be filled with joy from this news.

As this babe in Christ begins his walk of faith I’m sure his heart is filled with the joy of the Lord. Jesus said that He has given us His joy that we might be full. Oh, if only we would step out in faith and take hold on His Word, how filled with joy we could and should be. And it’s so easy to do: Just follow Him, pursue that which glorifies our Father, produce the good fruit, and then watch as our cups begin to run over!

That Smell

2 Cor. 2:15-16

15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:

16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

The other day I bought this new cleaning product. I was drawn to it by the wording of the labeling “no obnoxious fumes”. I’m very sensitive to harsh fumes so this was an easy buy for me. It took about one minute of use for me to realize that “obnoxious” was relative to the nose; that stuff was about as foul and obnoxious as anything I’ve ever had the displeasure of inhaling.

Have you ever wondered why there are certain folks that get to squirming around when you bring up the things of God around or to then? Perhaps it is as our passage today says: they smell the death of their sins on themselves when the sweet perfume of God is being waved through the air about them.

The next time you see some squirming going on with someone remember that it’s coming from their conscience. And keep on fanning them with the sweet aroma of the Lord, praying they’ll become sickened by the smell of death and long to have the aroma of life on them, too.

Tragedy in WV

A tragedy has struck WV. I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the mining disaster in Raleigh County that has claimed the lives of, last I heard, 25 miners. Literally dozens of lives were changed in an instant when this terrible news was delivered. Folks expecting the routine return of husbands, grandfathers, brothers, and other loved ones learned that their lives had been snuffed out and that nothing would be routine about that day ever again.

Events such as these often bring about many thoughts to those of us that weren’t affected by the event. Most everyone will have a degree of thanks that one of their loved ones wasn’t in that mine. And most all of will feel for the ones who did.

It seems that when life is lost in such a mass, with no warning, that we will often think of our own mortality, too. Somehow these things make it a stark reality how precious and short life is and how quickly we can be taken out of this world into eternity.

Have you told the folks you care about that you do care about them lately? More importantly, have you spoken of the consequences of leaving this life unprepared with them? Take the time and do so the next chance you have; it may be the last one you (and they) have.

John 3:17-18
17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Goodbye Little Guy

This has been a very hard week for me. My little buddy, an approximatly 15- year old Yorkie mix we adopted about eight years ago, Morkie left us yesterday. It’s been hard for the entire family, even the other dogs, but these things always are. It was so fast and really unexpected as well, making harder on us but easier on him.

He had fought cancer about 2 1/2 years ago. The vet said he might make it another year after that; he made it nearly 2 1/2 so we had the gift of an extra eighteen months.

Near as I can tell from his symptoms and how it set onto him, he had a small stroke Thursday evening followed by a major one late Thursday night. He left us peacefully about 12:30 Friday afternoon.

I thank God for the companionship that He gave us and me with the Mork. I thank Him that was able to hold and comfort Mork, talk to and love on him a little while longer before he left us. I praise Him for all of this and for comforting and easing my pain during this period of grief. Though I can’t see it all now, I know His way of handling the situation was right and good. I know there is somoething more and good to come from it all, too.

My little buddy, you are and will be sadly missed. But the memories you made in our lives, mine particularly, will live on forever. I love you, Mork.


One of the last photos of Morkie