Friday, February 13, 2009

Close to the Heart

In my last blog, I had our in-house Registered Nurse, Christy, tell you about what a day is like for her in the role she plays at Mercy Ministries. There is no doubt that God uses Christy and all of our staff to support, strengthen, and help the girls in various ways. Today I want to introduce you to another avenue in which God works to bring healing to the hearts of young women.

For years, I have watched young women walk through our doors who are so traumatized by the pain of their past that they cannot even relate to another human being, or even begin to open up to a counselor. When many of these girls are initially unable to relate to their counselors and other staff, we have found they will often times first open their heart to one of our special resident pets. Our choice of pet over the course of 26 years of residential ministry at Mercy Ministries has been Shetland Sheepdogs (Shelties). The purpose of this breed of dog is to herd sheep, and it is so interesting to watch them in the various homes with the young women as the shepherding instinct comes out in the way they relate to the girls. We have had a number of Shelties over the years from the time they were young puppies until the time that their lifespan ended. It is always so difficult to lose one of these guys because they become such a part of our family and play such a significant role in the lives of many girls as they are healed and restored.

The Nashville home is our largest home, and our two most recent Shelties there are Jude and Jonah. Jude is still with us, and he turned 10 years old on December 28, 2008. (Jude actually has his own Facebook page. Look for Jude Alcorn on Facebook and become his friend! ) Jonah would have turned 10 in a couple of months, but unfortunately he received a cancer diagnosis last Fall and we had to put him to sleep on October 17, 2008. This was such sad news for so many of our girls, especially the ones who got so close to him while they were in the program. I just received a memorial scrapbook in the mail filled with awesome pictures of Jonah and his interactions with some of the girls while they were in the program. This particular girl was very very close to Jonah, and she wrote to me about what Jonah meant to her. I want to share some of the pictures that she sent, along with what she wrote about what Jonah meant to her. This is from Hayley…

Dear Nancy,

My experience at Mercy was life changing. I learned so much about myself and truly began to seek after God and His truth. In the midst of all the counseling and allowing God to mend my broken heart, I found comfort in a furry friend. Jonah was a huge part of my healing process. He was there for me on the good days and the bad. He taught me a lot about myself and my relationship with God. Jonah had this way of making me feel loved and needed. He always seemed to know when any of us were in need of a friend. Thank you so much for allowing me to take care of him. Jonah was the first thing I felt safe to love and cherish after experiencing the death of my mother. It was at Mercy that I began to have feeling and truly live. Jonah helped me to embrace my emotions and not be afraid. God used Jonah as a tangible form of His own love for me. Thank you for trusting me with Jonah and for sharing him with me. I am very grateful for the time I spent loving, caring for, and learning from Jonah. I hope you enjoy this scrapbook I made in memory of him.



We just love to see all the different ways God works in the lives of the young women who come to us to receive healing from life-controlling issues.

I know that Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Whether you are single, married, dating someone, or not dating anyone, I want to remind you that love can be found and celebrated in many places, even through a pet. This weekend, I encourage you to focus on all the ways love reaches your heart. If you are a single girl like me, I pray for God to bring the man of your dreams into your life! And if you are a single man, I pray God will bring the woman of your dreams to you. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a Happy Valentines Day!

Love to all,



Ali Davis said...

i was a "dog mom" for joshua (monroe home) in 2004, and he taught me a lot about myself... i came to mercy not caring about myself, and i had horrible self- esteem. taking care of josh enabled me to take beter care of myself. it enabled me to come out of my shell and interact more with the other girls and staff, and he helped me grow in ways i didn't think i ever would. the furry "staff members" re just as vital as the counselors are! i miss josh, now that he's gone, but i won't ever forget the ways he helped me or the lessons i learned from taking care of him...

Pharmommy said...

A friend of mine pointed me here... struggling with my 13 yo sheltie Pate right now with severe arthritis. You definitely chose the right breed to be there! Your ministry has touched the heart of one of my friends and involved in another young lady I hear. I'm from the Savannah/Adamsville, TN area originally ... God bless you and your ministry!

Michelle :) said...

how incredible- God thought it all out when He created the world, didn't He?

kimberly said...

I get to meet him tomorrow!

KateyKat said...

That was one of my highlights of Mercy - Being a dog mom for Moses in the Nashville home. I miss that guy!! After I placed my daughter for adoption it was nice to have that extra friend there to comfort me. Not sure if that link will work but I have three pictures of Jonah, Jude, and Moses.