"What now?" It's a matter of inflection…

You choose….positive or negative

Good night Dexter

Tonight is the first time in over 5 years I’ve walked in my room at night without making sure he had water, food and some mealworms to get through his busy night of running on his wheel and digging in his bowl of marbles for the worms and then saying “Good night Dexter!” or some variation of his name. I thought Bailey had lost her mind wanting a hedgehog. She begged for years. I made her wait until she was 18. I was terrified of getting stuck by him. I wouldn’t touch him until she went away to Student Takeover and I didn’t have a choice. 🤣 He needed a bath and I was the only one home to do it.

With her working and traveling so much, Dexter and I became buddies. His mealworms were an Amazon subscription! He would let me hold him and clip his nails and whenever he licked my hand, he would show me the highest form of hedgie love, he would anoint himself (Google it).

Last night I knew our 5 years were coming to an end. I sat with him by the fire all night willing him to stay a little longer. At one point, as I held him wrapped in a blankie next to my face, I dozed off. I was awakened by his little tongue licking my nose, something he had never done. We had always just “booped” noses. In my heart, I knew he was saying goodbye.

Around 5 AM, I put him back in his little house in his habitat, added some more bedding and made sure his heat lamp was on. I knew it was going to be the last time I would see him alive.

I went to bed for an hour or so, cuddling with Mason Maltipoo who had been so good while I took care Dexter. When I got up, I saw that Dexter was still where I left him, but his sweet little spirit was gone.

Tonight I didn’t have to stop on my way to bed to feed Dexter, and make sure he had water and give him his mealworms. I didn’t get to scratch him under his chin and rub his soft little ears. I won’t get to say “Good night Dexter Bartholomew!” He won’t wake me up running on his wheel or digging in his bowl of marbles. Before I left him at the crematorium tonight, I rubbed his little paw and his tiny soft ears one more time.

How could such a tiny, prickly little pine cone steal my heart, especially when I was scared of him when I met him? I wondered when Bailey brought him home why would anyone want a pet you can’t snuggle and spend time with because they sleep all day and play all night? Not to mention hiss at you when startled and if you’re holding them when that happens can draw blood with hundreds of sharp spines!

At some point he needed me and I took care of him and we made a bond. I remember squealing the first time he anointed himself after licking my hand. After that, I was hooked for sure. He was my buddy. We got into a routine. And now he’s gone. There won’t be another Dexter. He was one of a kind and a once in a lifetime experience and I can truly say I loved him, quills and all.

First night home

So tiny in his big home

Ready for my close up

One month after coming home

Digging in marbles for mealworms

Bath time…

Hanging with my brother Mason Maltipoo

Good bye kisses

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Easy Pumpkin-Coconut Dog Biscuits

Like a lot of dogs, Luke and Dexter can tell time. They know exactly when breakfast should be served, and each one turns into Mister Anxious Pants around 5 p.m. when some human had better be workin…

Source: Easy Pumpkin-Coconut Dog Biscuits

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Living Water and Life’s Messes

"What now?" It's a matter of inflection...

Funny how God places thoughts and things before you in the oddest circumstances….

Earlier, I was cleaning out my aquarium. I’ll admit, it was way past due. There was no visible algae  – but under the lid, it was attempting to make its presence known. But algae showing up is a few signs past the aquarium needing to be cleaned. By that time, the bottom of the aquarium, under the gravel, is just gross. Every solid particle is there – uneaten food, what’s left of the ghost shrimp my beta ate, etc. – I don’t need to go into more detail. Yuck!

But to clean that, I have to stick my hand it in. I have to, for lack of a better word, ‘massage’ that gravel to clean it. Sure the water pressure from the shower head helps, but I have to stick my hand in that yucky mess and…

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I’m Getting Baptized Tomorrow!!!

I am so excited! I am getting baptized tomorrow at Elevation Lake Norman!

There have been some people in the media saying Elevation baptisms are ‘manipulated’. Let me tell you about my first baptism and let you consider that experience a bit. I apologize ahead of time for some of the graphic details.

I was baptized at a Southern Baptist Church when I was 14. Honestly, what should have been the the best day in my life only holds horrible memories for me. I don’t remember the joy of having my sins washed away and becoming a new person in Christ. I remember guilt ridden conversations and shame.

I was taken to church all my life. I remember standing beside my Granny at Flint Ridge Baptist Church in SC and tears flowing down my face as a 7 or 8 year old as we sang “Just As I Am”. I understood as a young child that God loved me so much, just the way I was, that He sent His only Son to die a horrible death – for me. How could anyone love me so much they would do that? Why would He do that? As a child I knew I was loved by my Granny and Mom and Grandaddy and Aunts and Uncles so much. How could God do that to His Son? My family would never do that to me. At that age, I wanted to be baptized, but I was told I was too young. I needed to be older to make that decision.

When I was 9, we moved to Charlotte, NC. My mom had remarried and we went to the church where my new step-dad and his family were members. I would still tear up as I sang the hymns. I knew I loved God and He loved me. As I grew older, I was in youth groups and did things with them. I loved going on trips and spending time with other kids that loved God. We had lots of fun. I had always sang in a choir at church. Later in life, I would actually direct a children’s choir at First Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, NC. I grew up in church.

But around 13 or 14 years old, I began being reminded I had never been baptized. People were wondering when I was going to get baptized. It was time. What was wrong with me? Why hadn’t I answered an alter call? My new step-grandfather was a deacon in the church. My new step-grandmother was a leader in the women’s groups. I began to feel like I was an embarrassment because I had not been baptized yet. (This is not to say I was – I am just relaying how I felt at that time) 

One day, I finally answered the alter call. I still remember I had on a light green flowing dress. It was my favorite color. I wanted to accept God as my Lord and Saviour. I was happy to walk toward the front of the church towards Pastor Keiger. I was ready to let everyone know how much I loved God and knew He loved me. This is my best memory of that time in my life. Walking towards the front of that church.

Then the visits started. Deacons would come in groups of two or three. At my house, at my grandparents house after Sunday dinner. When was I going to be baptized?!?! I made the commitment. It was time. I was almost 15. I began to get scared. I didn’t know these men. I knew they were from the church, but I didn’t ‘know’ them. I don’t remember any of their names. I know now they were only doing what they thought was the right thing – they were determined I was getting in that big tank full of water behind the choir loft in a big white robe and I was going to do it SOON! There was a calendar to be kept. If I didn’t do it now, I would have to wait. Let’s get this done.

So the date was set. There were a few others being baptized that day. I do not remember one of them. I remember meeting with the Pastor and the others. We were told what would happen. We were shown the HUGE white robe with all kinds of straps on it that we would wear as we were baptized. After that, I was really scared. I no longer wanted to do this. I didn’t want to get baptized any more. I was terrified!

Too bad! I was getting baptized. How could I embarrass my family by backing out?!?! I made a commitment and I had to uphold it. So the day of the baptism came – and so did another regular monthly visitor that teenage girls aren’t always too excited to see. This was the early 80’s. We weren’t quite as open with things back then. There was no way I could get dressed up in that white robe and get in a tank of water!!! I tried to back out but I couldn’t tell those men deacons why I just couldn’t do it that day. I asked to speak to a lady. They sent in a woman to talk to me. She told me it would be fine. She would help me get changed as soon as I was out of the water. No one would know. Then I opened the clothes my mom packed me – white jeans!?!?!? Are you kidding me?!?! This has to be some cosmic joke or a sign. A sign that this was not the day I was to be baptized. I just started crying. Please God! Don’t make me do this today! I am going to be so embarrassed. But if I don’t do it, my family will be embarrassed. I had to do it. I had to put on the huge white robe with all the straps and get in that tank.

So I did, with tears in my eyes. But they weren’t tears of joy. They were tears of fear and shame. It got even worse after I was out of the water. More fears were manifested. I was miserable. I just wanted to go home and cry in my room alone. But my family wanted to celebrate, so we went out to eat at some steak house. I just wanted to crawl under a table and cry. There was no joy in the day. I never wanted to be there that day, but through the powers of shame and guilt, I was baptized.

This is no indictment on the people who ensured that I would be baptized that day. They were only doing what they thought they needed to do in their hearts. If not, I choose to believe that no one meant to manipulate that little 14-year old girl into doing something she didn’t want to do that Sunday morning. All I know is, baptism is a celebration of a new life in Christ. That day was no celebration to me.

Bailey after her Baptism

Bailey after her Baptism

Tomorrow is a celebration!!! I have never felt more alive in Christ than I have since the first time I walked into an Elevation service at Butler High School on Easter Sunday in 2009. I have watched our church grow. I’ve watched my daughter grow in her relationship with Christ. She was on the greeter team with me at Matthews. I saw her baptized in September 2009 at the Matthews campus. She filled out the card herself. I had no idea she was doing it but I was so happy when she told me. I walked in one day and there was a letter she wrote Pastor Steven posted on the wall in the room where the volunteers gather before services. She was thanking him for his leadership and Elevation for helping her through some very rough times and showing her hope in Christ. These days, I watch her beam as she takes care of the volunteer and staff children every weekend in Clubhouse.

So my baptism tomorrow at Elevation Lake Norman is a new beginning for me. While I have always been a child of Christ and a Believer, I am making the choice to be baptized tomorrow. No one is pushing me or manipulating me, like they did at that Southern Baptist Church so many years ago. I am freely and willingly ready to be born anew in Christ’s love. I am at a point in my life where many choices are in front of me – relationships, career, family. I need God’s direction as I move forward. My baptism is my clean slate to start over.

I invite anyone to come join me tomorrow at Elevation Lake Norman at 5:00 to witness or to be baptized themselves. It will be a celebration of God’s love for us all! Hope to see you there!!!

With LOVE in my heart,



Joe Delph praying before

Here are the pictures! Happiest Day of my Life!!!


Bailey captured this picture as I came out of the water. I love my friend Melissa’s face as she is waiting for me with a towel and the best hug ever!!!


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