Core scripture: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Message: I simply had to hear her story. People who knew Jen Dulski on a personal level had told me her testimony was powerful. Truth be told, you never know exactly how powerful a story is until you hear it face-to-face. The owner of Always and Furever, a senior dog sanctuary in Spring Hill, sat down with me last week to share her story—the full story of how Always and Furever came to be.
Get your Kleenex ready.
Jen grew up in a Catholic family that was always on the move. From Illinois to Colorado to Texas and back to Illinois, there was little consistency. She felt the heartache of her dad losing his job. Her grandparents died two weeks apart when she was 11. Money was tight, and she found herself fudging her age to work at Jack In The Box—just to help make ends meet. She finally decided to go to law school to help provide for her family.
Landing a job at a law firm in Pittsburgh, promotions led her to travel back to Illinois and then to Boston. Her competitive edge was sharpened through athletics. Although she dreamed of becoming a professional figure skater as a kid, she found time to go back to school to play hockey and then joined a women’s football team.
That was where she met her best friend, Sam. They grew close over a period of three years; however, in June of 2015 the unthinkable happened. Sam overdosed and passed away, leaving Jen heartbroken. Past stories of abuse from Sam’s childhood came to fruition, stories Jen had never heard of. Had she only known! Sam was one of those people that hid her feelings well. The guilt weighed Jen down until she hit rock bottom.
Maybe you have been there before. Jen admitted she couldn’t even leave her couch. She lost her faith in Christ and fell into a depression that took her down to nothing. Journaling helped some, but the true healing came through a grief group that she started. Hope Asap allows those who have been crushed by grief to come together in love and encouragement. Finally, a year and a half after Sam’s passing, Jen knew she had to do something. So she did.
Jen always had a love for dogs. Ever since she was a child, that love was engrained in her heart. The idea came to her to take a dramatic pay cut and buy a farm that she would soon turn into a senior dog sanctuary. The stars amazingly all aligned. The price was right, Jen moved to Spring Hill, and God showed Jen how to transfer a rustic barn into a comfortable haven for senior dogs. To this day, Always and Furever has rescued over 270 dogs, finding them forever homes.
The farm showed her the world was indeed beautiful. Resting atop a scenic hill, surrounded by gorgeous trees and farmland, the barn allows volunteers to be trained to help out and love on senior dogs that were once abandoned, strays wandering the streets, or in kill shelters. Our family has volunteered there since April, giving us the opportunity to serve. None of this would have been possible without Jen’s vision. God used Jen to create a masterpiece.
Think about this … Had none of the tragedies in her life occurred, there would never have been an Always and Furever. Hope Asap would have never been created. Over 270 dogs would still be wandering the streets, languishing in dingy pounds, or dead in kill shelters. My family would still be wondering how to be the hands and feet of Christ. And Jen would have never known the beauties of the country.
So, what does this have to do with the Christian teacher? Let’s connect the dots. Stories like Jen’s need to be shared to give others hope. They inspire. They allow you to realize that God can create a masterpiece out of any pitfall in life. Maybe you are going through a difficult time. Maybe one of your new students comes from a rough background and fails to see the bigger picture. Share a story like this one to let them know their story is only just beginning.
Challenge: Who needs to hear this story? Pass it on. Forward it to a friend who could use an encouraging word. Tell it to a colleague over lunch. Or if you happen to have a similar story of God’s timing working for the good, share your own story.
Video application: Are you interested in knowing more about Always and Furever and Hope Asap? Check out the links below for their websites. The videos there are worth the watch!
Song application: “Glorious Unfolding” by Steven Curtis Chapman
Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what i’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold
And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise god has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding
- “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope …” (Romans 5:3-4)
- “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
- “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:9)
- “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
- “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Prayer: Father, may I always look for the eternal perspective of the beauty You create. Help me trust you in everything that happens in my life, knowing that Your plan is always better than my own. Amen.