Driving out of the hospital parking lot this week, the song “Just Be Held” came on the radio. This song by Casting Crowns always makes me a bit misty because I think of a couple of friends in a blazing firestorm with cancer and the insidious aftereffects of their treatment.
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held.
Leaving the hospital with Ayrabelle after our 2-hour pet therapy session, I thought back to the dozens of patients, medical staff, and family members we had just greeted. Bellie instantly invoked exclamations of “Oh, my, how gorgeous. She’s so soft. She’s so fluffy.” (Of course, I joked with several admirers that they should have seen Miss Soft ‘N Fluffy an hour earlier when she ran through my backyard sprinklers and was sopping wet!)
Everyone we met—from the new mom with her hours-old baby to the elderly woman with dementia—lit up when my collie girl and I entered the room. People pulled out their cellphones and snapped pictures of her, others excitedly directed me to also stop in and see another patient down the hall. And so our afternoon went until we met a father and son alone in a family waiting room.
Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Just be held. I’ll hold your heart.
I’ll Hold Your Heart
The 50-something father stood and greeted us as Bellie went right up to him. The teen son seemed withdrawn and exhausted but managed a weak grin when Bellie nudged her nose toward his knees.
“Did you see my daughter in room xyz?” the man blurted. “She loves dogs!”
“Uh … uh … no I didn’t,” I slowly answered, thinking that this section of the hospital was off limits because most patients in this wing were unresponsive and many hovering near death.
“Well, my daughter would love a visit. She’s sedated, but she has always just loved dogs,” the father said. “My wife is in the room and you can tell her I sent you. I’ll be in there soon.”
How can you say no to a tender-hearted dad who wants to bring joy to his ill girl? So Bellie and I talked with two nurses at the central nurse’s station and they pointed me across the hall. The mom was delighted to see us and explained how her daughter, who looked to be in her late teens, is a huge dog fan. The woman led us over to her daughter’s bed where her teen appeared fast asleep. Bellie nuzzled at the girl’s bright fuchsia fingernails and the girl shifted her head toward us, her eyes rolling back and forth, unable to focus. But she knew we were by her side. She knew a dog was touching her hand.
The World Falling Into Place
The mom and I spread out a towel on the lower side of the bed, and I hoisted Bellie up. Bellie could barely reach her nose to the girl’s hand, so I had another idea. I coaxed Bellie to just stretch out her paw and nestle it gently against the girl’s curled fingers. That image may never leave my mind and heart. A young girl unable to speak or move, sensed a connection with my furry girl.
“Thank you, oh, thank you,” the mother repeatedly whispered in appreciation. For one brief moment the world seemed to stop wildly spinning. None of our planet’s woes, or even my own, could thud their way into that hospital room. And no words were needed.
My sweet-tempered dog was simply holding out her paw to reassure this hurting family that sometimes the strongest part of healing is when we let go and let ourselves just be held.
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
[God’s] on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held
I have no words, just a heart full of emotion. xo
Oh, Julie, I can relate. In writing this blog, I had to stop for a little tear break. I tell you, I left the hospital thinking, “Sure, I have stuff going in my life, but after seeing this young gal and so many others hurting, my challenges all feel so much lighter.”
Amen. Again you bring loving and patient love to so many hurting. God bless you sweet ladies.
Thank you, Angie. We just show up and are so blessed by being available. I certainly leave each volunteer session with a fresh perspective on what really matters in life.
OK, you’ve got me crying now. What a wonderful ministry, Beth. You had the vision for it even before you found Bellie, and God knew she was the one for the vision!! Love you both.
Now I’m getting teary. You are right, Nancy, I do think God put this pet therapy desire on my heart clearly right after Logan died. When I think of all the other dogs I could have selected to be my pet, it is so neat to know that God directed my path to Bellie out of Reno. I am honored to be a part of His bigger picture. Love you too!
Am bawling!!!!! …. Such a great story, Beth, and such a great ministry. Well said, well done. Cheers. Love indeed…
I’ll join you in the tears. I think of you when I hear “Just Be Held” because I know God has been holding and upholding you through it all. And, you’ve met our little Bellie girl who’s off rough-housing with other doggies at Carmen’s today. Thank you, Helen, for being such an encouragement and support in all aspects of my life. Love Always.
What an amazing gift to this family. The world around me seems to demand so much attention. This is a wonderful reminder to stop and be held AND to look for someone who needs a little touch from God.
Thank you, Candy. And to think that we have been passing by this section of the hospital. I want to be more attune to the dozens of people that I see every day outside of the hospital who need a touch of hope and compassion too. Bellie sends her love to her favorite Aunt Candy. Woof. Woof.
Dang Girl, just dang. What a blessing reading this but such a blessing for you and your sweet girl living it.
Thank you for your encouraging words, Claudia. Dang. This pet therapy volunteering is a blessing. Bellie and I just love meeting all the different people each week and greeting the staff who are getting to know us well.
What an inspiration to others you both are!! It warms my heart to read this story of love and touch. Keep up the awesome work God has designed for you two! ?
Thank you so much, Aunt Terry. You are a big part of encouraging us to just be ourselves. 🙂
What a wonderful thing you and Bellie are doing, and the Lord alone knows the comfort your visit did for the young girl. Having two dogs myself, I know what peace and joy they can bring to a person.
Thank you, Terri. I appreciate your encouragement. You just never know how God is working behind the scenes in anyone’s life so Bellie and I just show up and always come away from our volunteer times blessed. Good for you for being a doggie mom!
What a blessing dogs are…they can say so much without uttering a word. Well said, and we’ll done Beth and Bellie.
Thank you, Karen. You are so right about not uttering a word and communicating so much. Bellie says, “woof, woof, Cousin Karen, come visit us anytime.
Amazing stories Beth, brought tears to my eyes…you are bringing comfort to so many thru your dog…so awesome!
Thank you, Caleb and Carrie. This is a rewarding journey and I hope many others will look into doing pet therapy volunteering too.
Wonderful story that is touching hearts that weren’t even present. Amazing what God will do when we are willing and open to His leading. What blessings await when we give freely and He multiplies.
Mary Jo, I like your words about touching hearts that weren’t even present. That’s an encouraging perspective! More and more I am finding that staying willing and open to His leading brings such unexpected delight. Thank you for your comment.
A dog’s unconditional love and sensitivity … toward a precious sedated girl … that’s a beautiful and poignant image of “connection” on more than just a physical level.
Ayrabelle’s “touch” leaves lingering affects that “touch” the reader, too.
I’m right with you on the tender tears. Our pets know just how to extend that connecting touch to us and others. Thank you for being a champion for Miss Ayrabelle, the Scottish lassie of Galena Hills.
Open ears and open eyes (Nehemiah 5) to hear and to see the needs of others was today’s sermon. The minister said God is always listening and seeing our needs. If we tune in to the holy spirit and listen and look for the needs around us he will guide us. In our obedience we bless, are blessed and gain greater intimacy with God. This is such a wonderful demonstration of exactly that. Thank you for sharing and for the wonderful work you and Bellie do. God Bless.
Regina, thank you for your wise words. (I apologize that I missed your comment and am just now replying.) Your sermon message is so timely. I’m actually needed to read your comment today as I am needing to lean in and listen for His guidance in a number of trying situations. It’s an honor to just show up with Bellie and see who God puts in our path. I know you can relate in your own life.