From a January 31st, 2016 Facebook Note…  See Parts 1, 2, 3, & 4 for the backstory…


I mentioned yesterday that something unexpected happened in all the chaos of last Sunday. I’m standing there holding little Baxter’s body, watching R run home when I noticed our next door neighbor’s teenage daughter. She had just backed her car out of their driveway when R had started her run down the hill. She had the car in drive, but she was barely moving up the hill. Her eyes were fixed on R. She crept slowly forward, but didn’t take her eyes off of R until she made it into the house. She’s halfway up the hill now & I see her head turning from R and now she sees me. She’s still creeping forward, but now she’s locked on me. I can only imagine what was going through her mind… R… R’s dad… What is he holding?… She was about 10 yard past me up the hill when she stops the car… She had added it up…

Our immediate neighbors have kids on either side of the ages of our kids. The oldest daughter is older than A (driving obviously)… Then they have a son & another daughter both younger than R by a few years… We have a quasi-cordial relationship with them, but don’t really chat like neighbors should. Life is busy for both of us, but that’s not a good enough excuse.

She steps out of the car and walks towards me… “Is that Baxter?…” Tears are beginning to well up in her eyes. I confirm with a silent head shake… And I take a deep breath to try to compose myself. “Is R okay?…” And there went all of my composure… “What happened?…” I do my best to explain it, but if you’ve been reading all of these notes this week, you know it was a complex situation. But her kindness in that moment was just tremendous. Teenagers get a bad rap for so many things these days, but this kid was a bright spot in a dark place. “You know that those same dogs attacked our dogs too, right?”…

I think I had a pimento cheese sandwich for lunch on Sunday, but I’m honestly not sure. Whatever it was came halfway back up my esophagus in that moment and then slammed backed down HARD!… Did she just say that the same dogs that had just killed Baxter had attacked other dogs in our neighborhood?… She must’ve read my expression because she started explaining the whole scenario to me. I had a later conversation with her dad and got the details on all the vet bills and other damages incurred. How did I not know this?!?!?… He also describes an attack by these same dogs on another neighbors’ dog. A different neighbor confirms that these dogs frequently harassed walkers & joggers at that end of our street.

By now, I’m guessing that many of you are perhaps seething with rage. Aggressive dogs… multiple instances… Why hadn’t this been dealt with long before Baxter lost his life? How irresponsible!… Justice should be demanded!… A pound of flesh!… that’s what they owe!…


John 8:1-11 is one of my favorite Jesus moments ever. These self-righteous religious types were always trying to trap & test Jesus during his time on Earth. They wanted desperately to make him look bad… unqualified… out of his league vs. their clearly superior knowledge of The Law. And Jesus frustrated the hell out of them over & over again. In this particular passage, they’ve caught this woman in an act of adultery and by The Law… she should be stoned to death.

Have you ever thought of Jesus as being cunning? It’s not a quality most would associate with him, but consider it for a moment. These pious little men harass Jesus most everywhere he goes and he very deftly side-steps their traps & landmines again & again. It drives them into such a frustrated state of frenzy that they hatch a plot to kill him. And even in that, he’s still three steps ahead of them.

Back to the woman… She’s expecting to die at any moment. But Jesus throws it back on the accusers… “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” he says… The little men slink away… beaten again by his cunning & guile… “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Don’t get me wrong here… I felt that same outrage about the dogs that you probably did… That Baxter’s senseless tragedy could have, no should have been prevented… I was there & gathering my stones… And then Jesus reminded me of my own glass house…


We adults have lots of responsibilities that we’re accountable for. Enough of us tend to manage them well enough that we maintain some sense of credibility as a species. But you’re kidding yourself if you can’t admit that you’ve been negligent at some point with SOME of those responsibilities. Oh you might have gotten away with it… Maybe there were no repercussions at all. Or maybe they were just minimal… perhaps so minimal, that you’re the only one that knows. Or maybe the consequences were greater.

So what makes one person’s negligence… recklessness… better than anothers? The consequences?… Let’s just call that crap & be done with it. When you’re negligent about something… you usually lose control of the consequences. Sometimes you get lucky & they aren’t that bad… And sometimes, IT all hits the fan so hard that it becomes a literal POO-POCALYPSE… Its the same way with sin… Big sin… Little sin… They all place us in Hell apart from God’s grace…

And there it is… The only logical response… Grace… I screw up regularly… So do you… Thank God his grace is generous enough to handle it all. Thank God it never runs out. Thank God his mercies are new every morning, because sometimes, I’m barely out of bed before I start ruining the day.

Nothing at this point can bring Baxter back. Nothing at this point can make my girl UN-SEE the things she saw. Adding to someone else’s guilt & suffering, to make me feel better accomplishes nothing. Their dogs are now gone too… And though we haven’t gotten to that point in the story, they’ve made it as right with us as they can…

So Grace then…


Continue on to Part 6 here

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