You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2013.

In either 2001 or 2002 an English Mastiff puppy was born.  She must have been sweet and adorable because somebody named her Baby Girl.  She was probably the runt of the litter because when she was full-grown she was small for her breed – about 2″ shorter than the minimum shoulder height to be in dog shows and only 125 pounds.

We don’t know much about the first 5 years of her life except that Baby Girl was a slave with harsh masters.  She was a puppy mill breeding dog, having litter after littler of beautiful puppies – and then as soon as they were weaned they were taken away from her.  Baby Girl was probably bred every single time she was in season and had puppies until her body wore out and couldn’t carry them to full term anymore, resulting in miscarriage after miscarriage.  She was probably beaten by men and came to associate people holding cameras up to their faces with Something Bad Was About To Happen.

My mother purchased Baby Girl from the puppy mill and I met her for the first time a few months after that.  She was this large, beautiful dog, fawn-colored with a black mask.  She cared for stuffed animals like they were her own puppies so we think she loved being a mother and missed her babies.  She moved slowly – actually it was cautiously, like she was waiting to see how you would react to her every move before she made another one and if you made a sudden move or raised your arm(s) she was instantly on the floor in a submission position.  Baby Girl was deathly afraid of men.  When my brothers came into a room she was in Baby Girl would slink along the wall farthest away from them and get to another room as fast as she (cautiously) could.

Being a kennel dog for her entire life up until Mom took her home, Baby Girl had absolutely no socialization or manners but she had a heart of gold and desperately wanted to please you – if you were a woman.  If you were a man she hid from you and would work very hard to squeeze her large body into ridiculously small spaces trying to get away.

My mother kept her outside on a cable during the day and brought Baby Girl inside at night.  (Unfortunately the cable was necessary because Baby Girl would run off and not come back for hours, but it was a very, very long cable.)  Mom taught Baby Girl to sit on a mat and lift each paw up, one at a time so Mom could wipe them off with a cloth each time Baby Girl came inside from being outside.  To Baby Girl it probably felt like Mom was holding her paws and lifting her paw up became the most comforting thing she ever learned and for the rest of her life if she was confused or thought you might be mad at her she would sit down and lift up her paw so that you could hold it.  Mom also taught her to stay off of the linoleum floor of the kitchen and Baby Girl obeyed that rule very well.

Baby Girl could have been a “poster child” for Love.  She was the most loving creature I’ve ever met and all she wanted was to be loved in return.

My mom had cancer and one month later took a turn for the worse so I spent a long weekend with my her and was able to spend more time with Baby Girl, who just seemed to get sweeter and sweeter every day.

One month after that my mother passed away and I was back again – I spent a week in her home, just me and Baby Girl, getting everything ready to vacate the house.  Baby Girl and I really bonded and I wanted to take her home with me but our living situation didn’t allow it so one of my brothers took Baby Girl home with him.

Not quite a year later that brother asked if we wanted Baby Girl as she was having issues fitting in to their family.  Our living situation hadn’t changed but we decided to ask the landlord if we could have a dog and just see what would happen, fully expecting a “no” because she was such a large dog.  Amazingly enough the landlord said yes and we were able to bring her home with us!

In the 4 1/2 years that followed she went from being a cautious, scared dog to a very happy one who loved being with us and picked my husband as “her person”.  She became able to be around men, even strangers, without cowing in fear at every sudden movement.

Her greatest joy in life was to sit on the futon with you and put her head in your lap and just lay there while we watched a movie, or sit down next to you and lean all 125 pounds of her self into you, sometimes pushing the chair you were sitting in away several feet…  🙂

She was fascinated by our cat although he snubbed her and did his level best to pretend she didn’t exist, they were so funny to watch together!  Anybody else’s animals she tried to dominate so we had to be really careful outside the house with her.

Baby Girl tolerated going to the Doggy Wash, it was clear she thought she was being punished and didn’t know why but she loved car rides so it was always easy to get her to go.

Just last week we had to put her down.  We spent all day Sunday with her to say goodbye and Monday after work we took her to the vet.  We figure she was about 12 years old, which is long-lived for such a large breed of dog, and the vet said she had bone cancer, which was excruciatingly painful.  It was so much harder than I thought it would be to, chosing to end her life but with the cancer she was headed for a slow and agonizing death.  Going to the vet made her passing super-quick and painless, she just slipped away into doggie heaven with her head on my husband’s lap and me at her side.

We buried her in the back yard along with pieces of our hearts and planted a yellow rose on her grave.  Baby Girl, you were amazing and we will miss you very much!

Oh Good Lord, save me, I don’t want to be this strong all the time…  actually, make that most of the time… or ever.  <rolling eyes>

I went to Dictionary.com for a definition of the word “Strong” and here’s some  excerpts (from the World Dictionary section):

Not easily broken or injured; having resolute will or morally firm and incorruptible character; intense in quality – not faint or feeble.

There are very few days when I actually feel strong.  Most of the time I wonder if I’ll make it through to the next day but when I look back on my life and what I’ve come through, I AM strong!  I am The Little Engine That Could (I think I can, I think I can…), I am Dory on Finding Nemo (Just keep swimming…), I am Winston Churchill (Nevah give up, nevah surrender!)  I have a strength that lives inside me like a teeny, tiny force field and it pops up just enough to protect the fragile parts of me through the hardest times.  The Bible says “The joy of the Lord is my strength” and while I can’t say I am always joyful, more like I’m rarely joyful, when walking the rocky roads I do know that strength didn’t come from me.  Jumping into Survival Mode when trials come is me, actually Surviving the trial is God.

I think that being strong comes from receiving strength from sources outside of yourself.  At the very least I know I can’t create strength in my own heart or will myself to be strong.  At any rate, strength has come to me recently in a few different ways:
1.  I’ve identified where my husband is at emotionally so now I have a better idea of how to communicate with him and respond back to him.
2.  I’ve been reading a book “Victorious Eschatology” by Harold R. Eberle and Martin Trench and it’s completely changed my view of Christianity and the world around me.
3.  I planned a road trip to Reno with one of my two best friends, whoo hoo!

So about my husband first – there was this big “Whew!” moment when I realized that he wasn’t emotionally all grown up like I had been assuming he was for the  last 20 years.  It’s like the feeling you get when you know you have a physical ailment but the doctors can’t figure it out and when they finally put a name on it – it’s such a relief!  You haven’t been cured and your problem hasn’t improved but now you have the name of your disease and you know how to fight it.  That was the feeling I got after defining his emotional maturity level.  Almost deliriously happy to have a diagnosis – and – I felt like I was Wonder Woman, able to “fight” his immaturity until he was “all grown up”, I can do it, da, da, da, da!  Those feelings of elation lasted… oh, just about a full day and then were immediately followed by “Oh crap, I’m married to a 40-year-old Junior High boy who still giggles (internally) and gets all excited anytime he hears the word ‘boobies'”.

Breathe, girl, just breathe…

The two-month “probation” period is over and things are noticeably better now than they were before but not as much was accomplished as I hoped there would be.  Tonight I will go with him to his counseling appointment – he actually invited me all on his own, that impressed me…  I am stronger now about being myself and not being a door mat than I was before and we are taking it one day at a time.  So far so good.  Only time can tell how this story ends.  (Update – I did go with him and it was very interesting for me.  My husband got a little bit upset because of something I said in the session but it looks like he’s going to think it over and we’ll talk it out later.  Still a big improvement from how it used to be so yay!)

I’m going to skip ahead to the road trip – I am so excited and this is a major infusion of Strength to me!  What started out as a very hurtful exclusion by the choir teacher (I told him at the beginning of the year that I needed to go on all of my younger daughter’s out-of-town field trips for her medical safety because she goes to the ER so often for migraines and he purposefully didn’t leave me a chaperone spot on this particular trip) has turned into a Girls Weekend Extraordinaire!  My best friend from high school is flying down to meet me and then we are going to drive to Reno and have ourselves a good time while (nearly) ignoring the annoying choir teacher.

We will go to my daughter’s performances and be as embarrassing to her as possible because I’ve reached an age where embarrassing my children has become one of my greatest delights in life, ha, ha!  And we will take lots and lots of pictures of her but other than that we will stay as far away from the high school group as we can and have fun on our own but still be a short ways away in case my daughter has to go to the ER while we’re in Reno.

What all is there to do in Reno any?  I could use some feedback on this…  Neither one of us drinks or smokes and I’m sure we’ll throw a quarter or two into the machines but that’s not how we’ll be spending our days.  I’m kind of thinking I’d like to come back with a henna tattoo of a butterfly on the inside of my left wrist to see if I would want a real one in that spot.

I see that Lake Tahoe is a short distance away but what’s really caught my eye is the California coast is only 2 1/2 hours away from Reno, aaauuugh!  Do I dare go that far away from my daughter just to satisfy my own longings to be at the ocean shores when the whole point of me going to Reno is to be there immediately if she has to go to the ER?  Grrr…  No.  That would make me a Bad Mom.  A title I have earned more than once before but right now I will sacrifice my saltwater cravings to be there for her.  Maybe someday she’ll even appreciate it…

At any rate, not this weekend but next weekend I’m going to Reno, yippee!

OK, now on to the book, which is actually the most strengthening thing of all to me, surprisingly enough.  Don’t ask me how to pronounce the second word of the title but it’s basically all about the “end times” and how the two authors are interpreting scriptures as to how the end of this age will come.

I’ve always been taught, my whole life, in all the churches I’ve been to, that life will only get worse until the 2nd Coming.  The earth will be filled with the most abhorrent evils ever thought of before Jesus can come back.  These two authors see, and explain very well, the scriptures quite differently. I think I’m going to need another blog posting to explain it but what it boils down to is that my heart had gradually, over the years, been going down a path of thought where “If everything is just going to get worse before it can get better why fight for justice in our nation?  Why try to get good politicians?  Why protest  our rights being taken away?  Why even try to move society towards more godly ideals? and biggest of all “Is my trying to make the world around me a better place standing in the way of Jesus coming back?  I’d better stop trying to make things better then.”  I was becoming apathetic and had lost my motivation for being a Christian.  Reading this book – everything made sense, being a Christian is still worthwhile, fighting for good leadership is important.  Sharing the Good News is fun and easy again!

I’m out of time but I just wanted to get this published.  Have a great weekend!

It sounds like a dangerous title, I know, and especially given some of my previous posts about my relationship with my husband but this is actually what I say out loud to every spider I find inside my home, just before I squish them to death.  As quickly and humanely as possible, of course…

We have primarily Wolf spiders but there are also Black Widow spiders, Jumping spiders (who have really beautiful eyes when you shine a bright light on them) and all kinds of other spiders that range from litty bitty to  well over quarter-sized and each and every one of them seems to think that our home is still that awesome and amazing spider hang-out it used to be before we bought it and moved in.  This house was abandoned and vacant for over a year before it became ours so it really was The Place To Be if you had 8 legs, fangs, multiple eyes and could poo little silken threads from your backside.  It was empty for long enough that I’m sure some of the older spiders we get now days are probably thinking of our house as some sort of a historical landmark and are come back here to try to re-live the good ‘ole days in their retirement years.

But we have been here over two years and I’m still finding spiders in my bathtub, under the sinks, in the window-sills and just about any other nook and cranny they can find.  This is Not OK and I tell the spiders that repeatedly.  They either don’t listen or they don’t care.  Possibly, it’s  because they don’t understand me but I don’t think that’s really fault because after all, who speaks spider?  I would post my Spider Policy on little, tiny labels all around the house near the baseboards and under the sinks except I know for a fact that spiders don’t read so I must content myself with giving them a verbal warning and a chance to run before squishing them with my shoe or whatever else happens to be handy.  A very few number of spiders take that verbal warning and run with it.  About half of those I can still catch and kill and the other half get away… they’re getting smarter – is that a bad thing?

There is a difference between indoor spiders and outdoor spiders however.  I don’t care one whit if I see a spider outside.  That’s their environment and they’re welcome too it.  I’m an indoor gal although I make claims on very small parts of our land that lie outside the walls of our house.  Mostly it’s just the deck and the patio.  If they start intruding into those spaces I will relocate them to another part of the yard and hope they have the wisdom not to return.

There has been the rare, occasional spider, however, that we keep as a “pet”, if you will.  This spider isn’t a kind I see very often and when I try to identify it online I can never find a picture that looks exactly right.  It has a large, bulbous behind and the best ones have two points that look like little horns on the back of their bums.  This spider is usually a creamy white color and spins a typical wagon-wheel web, usually not too far from either the front or back door of the house.  When one of these spiders graces us with their presence we will name it, protect it from other people who would try to kill it and/or destroy its web and we also feed it flies and other small bugs we catch.  We’ve had several of these pet spiders since I was in high school, they don’t usually live much longer than 2 – 3 years but they seem pretty harmless and take care of a lot of bugs for us.  It’s also a great conversation starter and fun to mess with other people’s heads when they try to “save us” from the creepy spider and we try to save our spider from them.  Everybody needs a pet like that, right?

Anyway, spiders, be warned!  If I see you in my house, especially in my bathroom, You Will Die!

Yesterday morning I sat up in bed as my husband was sitting across the room putting his shoes on.  He had been withdrawn and grumpy for the last few days so, in my never-ending quest to become bolder, I simply said the words:  “Are you upset with me?”  I’m so brave, I know…

He paused and then we had a conversation where he told me:
1.  His addiction wasn’t really an addiction, it was just his attempts at filling a “hole” in his life of something he was missing and he only accepted 50% responsibility for this “hole”, the rest was my fault.
2.  He didn’t think I was a Godly Wife because I didn’t “desire” him but he couldn’t prove it because he didn’t know any scriptures to back it up with.
3.  He couldn’t believe that there was never any “attraction” between us because why else would we have stayed married all these years (almost 19) if we weren’t attracted to each other?

I felt he was angry and speaking from his heart, finally saying how he really felt so I very calmly asked some questions to clarify his statement until I was satisfied I knew what he was saying.  Be proud of me, that took A LOT of effort, just sayin’.

I rode the bus to work and started writing him a letter which I finished on a break later in the day.  I wrote about how he had brought pornography into our marriage right from the start and after just a few years we were convicted that it was wrong so “we” stopped viewing pornographic materials.  (It always made me feel so yucky inside, it wasn’t very hard for me to stop.)  I felt like I was writing with “righteous anger” and the words just poured onto the page.  I refused to accept responsibility for any percentage of this “hole” in his life that was clearly there long before I ever met him and I informed him that yes, indeed, he had an addiction and needed to admit it and defeat it.  I concluded my handwritten, 9-page letter (on 6″ x 8″ paper) by saying there were plenty of $500/month apartments near where he worked and he should go get one and be gone from our house for a minimum of one year.

My anger has changed over the years, I used to withdraw and “turtle up” until it was safe to come out again.  In my quest to “find myself” I have become a warrior, hard as a diamond and cold as the Arctic.  Don’t mess with me, I will not be your doormat anymore.

So after work I go home and immediately have a phone situation to deal with.  Almost 2 hours later I have solved one of our two problems and am sitting in the easy chair, playing Farmville2 on my laptop while my husband is sitting on the couch next to me, watching a show and reading a book, acting like everything was fine and dandy.

I have not given him the letter, wanting to write it up neatly because it was a rough draft with things crossed out and what not.  I am trying to keep my face neutral to stern, hoping he will notice and ask me what’s wrong…

It finally becomes obvious that he is not operating under the belief that our morning talk had an impact on our relationship so I finally asked him if he had any other thoughts regarding our conversation that morning.

He put his book down, sighed and said that obviously I had some thoughts about our conversation so why don’t I share them?

We wound up having a good, open, honest talk.  Maintaining my austere aloofness I asked him, point-blank if he still thought I was an Ungodly Wife and if he still believed he didn’t have an addiction.

It immediately became clear that just as I shouldn’t have any serious talks at night after I’ve taken my sleeping pills, he shouldn’t have any serious talks first thing in the morning, despite his belief that he is a morning person…

I put my newly-found sunglasses of Love and Forgiveness on while he did most of the talking and realized four very important things:
1.  My husband has absolutely no self-esteem whatsoever.  The self-talk that goes on inside his head is so cruel and negative – he almost cried while talking about it and if I wasn’t in Xena Princess Warrior mode I would have cried too, it’s horrible to imagine anybody living with that.
2.  My husband has the emotional maturity of an 8-year-old.  Seriously.  Sticks and stones can break his bones but words and dark glances will kill him.
3.  My husband is not a good communicator.  He uses words that I associate with completely different things than he does.  For example when he said I wasn’t a Godly Wife because I didn’t “desire” him I immediately thought “sex”.  He meant something more along the lines of “respect” and wanting to spend time with him… and so on.  Most likely I’m so weary of having sex all the time that I’m on the defensive, hearing and seeing “suggestiveness” in everything he says and does.  But still, what he means is not what is usually communicated to me.
4.  My husband is probably depressed and should be on medication.  He actually said the first part – that he wonders if he’s depressed.  I said let’s go to the doctor and he immediately resisted, claiming it was embarrassing enough to be going to a counselor.  I have quite a bit of Prozac left over from when my doctor switched me to another medicine so I suggested he start taking that (yes, I know, all kinds of wrong and illegal) and if after a month he felt better, then he could go to the doctor and get his own prescription and if he didn’t feel better he could stop taking them.  He said he doesn’t want to be stuck taking pills for the rest of his life…. ugh!  (This one I will win, he just doesn’t know it yet.)

So, to sum it all up, for almost 20 we’ve pretty much had the exact same needs – to be appreciated and loved/respected for who we are – but we’ve been speaking totally different languages and had completely unreasonable, and entirely unspoken, expectations regarding the other.  That, right there, changes everything…  I decide to hold off on giving him the letter.

I grew up with no self-esteem.  I started to recognize that fact it in my 20’s and have been actively working on believing that I have value for the last 10 years.  I never imagined guys would have this problem too, and especially not my macho, controlling, selfish, easily angered husband.  I had actually thought he esteemed himself too highly for all these years, if you want my honest opinion.  But last night he was broken before me, poured wide open in emotional honesty for possibly the first time in his life.

This changes the way I will talk to him – I will use simpler communication not expect him to react like a mature adult.  I will give him more encouragement and praise and ask the girls to do the same.  I will (quietly) ask men at church to encourage him and build him up.  I will wait another year to see if he improves and re-evaluate life at that time.  If he is playing me, and I’m sure some of my friends will think he is, then a year is ample time to prove himself to me one way or another.

My eyes are wide open and my heart is still going to be guarded but last night, in just a few moments of listening and hearing what he was saying, everything changed.

I was on my way home from work and the sun was shining brightly.  So brightly, in fact, that I was wearing my way cool – and polarized – sunglasses.  There was a large cloud next to the sun and I saw the widest, most brilliant rainbow I’d ever seen on the side of the cloud.  It was just in that spot – nowhere else.  It wasn’t raining, just a bright, sunny day with a few big, white, fluffy clouds.  I took my sunglasses off and the rainbow turned into an unbearably bright white spot on the side of the cloud.  I put my sunglasses back on and – rainbow!  Off again, bright white spot.  On, off, on, off…yes I did this for a while…

That got me thinking, where else in life are there Hidden Rainbows?  Where are things, especially in my own past that I might look at and say “Oh, that’s just a cloud” or “Oh, that hurts my eyes to look at it”.  When I view life with a different filter what will I see?  Beauty where there was normal, or even ugly?  Rainbows in places that are still too painful to look at directly? 

But what filter do I use to change my vision?  My sunglasses are polarized and let me see all kinds of things my normal eyes can’t see.  When I am wearing my polarized sunglasses I find that many electronics have a colored sheen on the displays, almost like when water runs down the street and sometimes you can see a rainbow of colors in the surface because it picks up all the traces of oil and antifreeze, etc from the roadway.  The polarization also cuts down the glare from the sun on the windshields of other cars making it possible to see what’s going on inside the cars around me with my sunglasses on but without them I can only see that yes, there is a car there but the glare of the sun on the windshields makes it impossible to see the driver or passengers. Unfortunately, sunglasses can only help you in the physical world, they can’t show you the hidden rainbows in your past – or present – or help you see into a co-workers weird and unexplainable actions (or maybe it’s my weird and unexplainable actions…).

Love is a good filter, probably the greatest filter.  Love God first, then people.  If we can do this – if I can do this because I am totally preaching to myself here – then we the people will have insight into the ways of others and see the hidden rainbows everywhere we go.  Life will become a better place for all of us. 

Let me be clear in one thing, however, Love is different than tolerance, a LOT different.  America has become tolerant crazy and people nowadays seem to think that if you’re not tolerant of them and whatever it is their doing, well then you’re just a hater.  This is not true.   Love does have rules, and strangely enough, the list of Love’s rules contains a lot of “don’t”s.  I Corinthians 13:4-8 says

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but (does) rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.   Love never fails.

By way of example, it is loving on my part to NOT tolerate my husband’s addiction because it is bad for him personally, it is bad for me personally, it is ruining our marriage and threatening the security of our children.  Tolerance can be good but it has been misused and re-defined to the point that tolerance can also be very, very bad and allow all sorts of harmful things to grow up strong and completely unchallenged in today’s society.

But now I feel like I’m getting into an entirely different topic so I’ll save that for another blog. 

Another really good filter is Forgiveness.  Stop holding grudges and making people “pay” for their mistakes long after they remember they even made one.  Yes, you were hurt in the past but it made you who you are today so mourn for your loss – for a short time – and then let it go.  Forgive the one(s) who hurt you and move on.  You are stronger because of everything you’ve come through UNLESS you refuse to forgive because it takes all your strength to carry those grudges, especially when you keep adding new grudges to the old ones.  (Still preaching to myself here…)

So back to my sunglasses analogy – Forgiveness is like the dark tint of your sunglasses, you can’t see things in the shadows very well, or at all, depending on how dark they are, i.e., how well you’ve forgiven the offender(s).  Love is the polarization on your sunglasses.  It reveals beauty that can’t be seen any other way and can bring understanding of what’s going on inside people and situations that you couldn’t see before because, unaided, you could never see past the blinding glare they projected.

So put your sunglasses on, your “new” sunglasses of Love and Forgiveness.  Look at the list and stop doing some of the things you’ve been doing and start to do some of the things you don’t normally do.  The next grudge you remember – forgive the one(s) who offended you and move past it.  Find the Hidden Rainbows and you’ll discover that your world – and the world of the people around you – is a much better place!