Enjoy this selection of inspiring stories by Lou Dean.
- Posted on Aug 20, 2019
Every year, Lou welcomed people from a local youth group to her acre on Blue Mountain in northwest Colorado where she lived with many animals. She would gather everyone around the campfire, where she shared the many lessons of love, patience, and tolerance that her animals taught her.
One July evening, during one of the campfire gatherings, a young man claimed one of Lou’s dogs, Keeper, tried biting him. Lou knew that Keeper would only growl or react to someone if they were taunting her, but rather than question the young man, Lou apologized and put the dog in time-out.
The following summer, the boy returned to Lou’s barn, inclined with a confession that would become another lesson taught by one of Lou’s angels, Keeper.
For five months, Lou was the only female laborer on a pipeline job. Working with an all-male crew, she was conditioned to the jokes. So when the men laughed at her fear of rattlesnakes, she brushed it off.
One afternoon, after most of the workmen had finished and gone home, Lou panicked when she encountered a rattlesnake inside a ditch. The engineer she was working with suggested she take a break to recollect and catch her breath.
She wandered off to a spot where she fell to her knees and prayed. After asking the Lord to help her get through the remaining two weeks of the job, she heard someone approaching. It was a mysterious young man who not only comforted her with words, but continued doing small miracles for her on the job.
After traveling far through a snowstorm to meet with a specialist regarding her inflammation problems, Lou had grown frustrated. She sat in a crowded hotel dining area, eating her complimentary breakfast, when a young man sat at her table. Lou tried her best to avoid small talk, but later felt guilty for cutting him off.
She asked the young man about his writing after noticing the spiral notebook he pulled out of his backpack. He explained to her that he was working on a smile list for his mom who was battling lung cancer. He was listing blessings that would bring his mom comfort from afar. The list, one entry in particular, enlightened Lou who realized meeting the young man was much more than a simple encounter.
Lou was going through a hard time adjusting to life without her son, who moved two thousand miles away to work in North Carolina. She tried her best to remain busy by going through her usual chores on the farm and spending time with her animals.
One day, she went to get dog food out of the tack room, a storeroom in the back of the house, when she noticed a spider building her web on the top corner of the doorway. She grabbed the hoe and quickly tore the web down. The spider returned the following morning and the morning after that, remaining persistent. Lou eventually gave up and grew to admire the spider’s progress the days that followed.
Little did she know, the spider would teach her a special lesson in strength and courage that she would be able to apply to her life.
Lou and her three siblings spent most of their lives learning how to handle their mother’s alcoholism-the mood swings, unpredictable behavior and countless departures and returns. She grew angry with Mama and cut all communication, letting five years pass before writing or calling her again.
It wasn’t until she had a child of her own, when she realized anger wasn’t something she wanted to teach her son. She nervously gave Mama a call and asked if she’d like her to visit. Mama, who continued to struggle with alcoholism, suggested going to church together, a get-together Lou looked forward to doing.
Upon entering Mama’s house, the smell of homemade soup brought Lou back to happier times, when she would cook her famous ‘Angel Soup’ in the kitchen at the old family farm.
Lou learned something about her mother that afternoon, a lesson she carries within her heart, even all these years later.
When Mama passed away, Lou struggled to grieve without feeling angry or confused. She had no words planned for the service honoring her mother, whose addiction had continuously taken her away from her husband and kids. She and her brother, David, planned to scatter Mama’s ashes along the Arkansas River, where the best memories of her were held.
Lou wanted to feel anything but bitterness when thinking of her mom, but she needed God’s help. She fell asleep that night and dreamt of Mama as an innocent, happy child playing by the creek. After waking, she began going through Mama’s belongings and found a box containing books and papers, some of which taught her things about Mama she never knew. These items, along with her dream, gave Lou exactly what she needed, just in time for Mama’s service.
Every aspect of Lou’s life was changing and she was having a hard time adjusting to it all. Her brother, Phillip, left home to join the Air Force, her dad moved to Purcell, Oklahoma after remarrying and selling the family farm, taking Lou away from all of her friends. She was angry at her dad for making them move, angry at her brother for leaving, and even angry at God for ignoring all her prayers to stop all these changes from happening.
Lou’s grandma and her little terrier, Shorty, seemed like the only bright aspects of her life. Thankfully, Grandma also lived in Purcell so Lou and Shorty visited her often. During one of their visits, Grandma pointed out a caterpillar clinging to a leaf among the bushes. Throughout the days that followed, they kept up with the caterpillar until it became a bright, yellow butterfly.
The butterfly taught Lou a big lesson that summer, one that brought her a better understanding and acceptance of her new life.