strength

Nerves of steel. Iron willed. Rock solid. Unflappable. So many images to describe someone who can withstand adversity. Even capricious betrayal.

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Someone convinces me that s/he is sincerely in my corner, only wanting to help, but instead of my normal step back to consider the thing I jump right in, believing this person is actually the genuine, concerned, true clear thinker that I am not at the moment.

Mistake. At rescue dog Lulu’s expense.

As a person said, after the altered-universe nightmare was over, hindsight is 20/20. Yes. And I know this. I have known it since I entered into a marriage that should never have happened.

When does one finally learn? When do I get to look back and not say “hindsight is 20/20”?

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Sure, she likely needed the treatments she received, but I needed to make that decision. I am old enough to know better. I need to remember it is almost never that anyone else has my best interests in mind or even at heart. Certainly not when s/he is insisting I do something their way. I need to not worry oh gosh what will s/he think of me if I make a different choice.

Lulu mattered. Not the controlling person.

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Mercifully Lulu is none the worse for the experience. The same cannot be said for me. It was not the expense. It was visiting my little dog and seeing her collapse in exhaustion because she cannot sleep in a tense environment with 24-hour noise, prodding of needles and not eating, receiving fluids because she is too terrified to drink on her own.

It was seeing her wild-eyed, cradled in my arms unable to relax until she slept. It was being home without her, my other rescue dog, Lily greeting me when I came home from visiting Lulu sniffing every centimeter of my arms and hands, going to the back door to look for Lulu, who was not there.

It was going to pick Lulu up on my appointed day to bring her home to be met by the ICU tech telling me, no, Lulu is not going home, and me replying Yes, Lulu is coming home today, and bringing her home.

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Thank God Lulu is fine. But now I have another person to put on my “Not to be trusted” list. A person who encouraged me to do a thing and resolved issues vicariously through my experience.

Whatever. I’m just glad it is over. And Lulu is home. The lump on her throat which appeared is still there but not a bother to her in any way, and an emergency vet experience made her no better than her own vet would have. She did need care beyond what I could offer, but not dire.

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But then I will never know. And I have trust issues. The person who told me Lulu needed to go there may have meant well but I know enough to know that people also can have an agenda. So I can remember, if such a thing should ever happen again to say thank you, I will consider the suggestion. And think about it.

And pray that there are no other dire circumstances at the same time, like a broken tree falling in the backyard …..

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encouragement

Winter notwithstanding, this has been an oddly grey week for me. Lily has had a set-back all because of me.

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Her second recheck with her vet was so hopeful I threw caution to the wind. She was walking without a hitch as if she’d not injured her knee at all. So, forgetting they told me not to, I put her in the car and we resumed almost the routine we knew pre-surgery– went to parks, took longer walks. After about a week with all going well (so I thought), Lily’s surgery leg got caught in the slip cover when she tried to get out of the car. I helped her down, but it wasn’t right.

She couldn’t put any weight on her leg.

Convinced she’d undone the mend I called the vet and he recommended letting her rest a few days and, if she wasn’t any better he’d see her.

She wasn’t.

He manipulated her leg, pronounced her still ok, and I confessed my false confidence. Her pain and anti-inflammatory medicines were refilled. I was instructed to continue her walks at home to strengthen her leg and we came home, with her vet telling me to call again if she needed.

So that was almost 10 days ago. It’s been incremental but she is improving. What has been so discouraging on top of my own personal guilt are the well-meaning neighbors we’d pass on short walks through the neighborhood, who don’t know us or about her injury asking questions that basically translate to ‘why are you so badly mistreating your dog, can’t you see she is plainly in pain’?? And I explain though they remain skeptical.

So I have felt puny, as my mom would say. Then my brother called on Monday, not his usual day to call, and lent a sympathetic ear, which gave me a boost. God must have known that was a good start but then a prayer warrior from an organization I support called to see if I would like for her to pray with me! Still He lifted me again the next day when a good friend called just to say hello and listened to Lily’s and my quandary. To top the week my son called on Friday. I’d not heard from him in quite a while and was eager to hear his news and share a bit of mine.

So though we are still carefully working at restoring Lily to the level she’d reached before I feel better about it,  I am reminded how much others, those who understand, can truly lift spirits.

And I am grateful.

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Lulu has helped support Lily, too.

 

 

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pain of healing

Forged in the fire, no pain, no gain, that which does not kill me makes me stronger…

I have watched husky-mix Lily closely these couple of weeks as she has recovered from her surgery. She did not do any of the things I prepared for– lick her stitches so avoided the “cone of shame”, cry out, object to the physical therapies I have done to keep her leg limber and exercised. At least not at first.

Her pain has been recent. When I take my other rescue dog, Lulu out for a short walk Lily is left behind. She is feeling better. She doesn’t understand why I am still holding her back from racing to the door if the doorbell rings, bounding down the porch steps to go outside, checking the backyard before bed to ward off the possum that sleeps in one of our trees. Maybe it isn’t painful for her, but for me. I feel badly that I can’t yet allow her to be herself.

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I think we all become complacent sometimes. Then something blindsides us or something we saw coming but hoped wouldn’t, happened. Or we lose someone, in some way– death, divorce, argument –and we are hurting. We sort through what happened and face some truths, which can hurt more than the thing that happened. But that hurt is the beginning of the healing. We are free when we face the realities of it. You can see it for what it is, put it in perspective. Lies hold us in bondage both to the lie as long as we persist in believing it, and the truth that we won’t yet face.

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Years ago I read several books by Dr. Frederick Buechner, a favorite of mine, Telling Secrets. This book illustrated well for me that our secrets are lives we live that no one else sees, and we may fabricate a life that we present to others that we believe is more presentable. But it’s in our secrets that we unlock who we truly are….

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Lately Lily’s resistance to my helping her stretch and exercise her leg has become stronger. This is frustrating for me, likely for her, too. This is to be done 3-5 times each day and as she heals and becomes stronger it’s gone to more like maybe 3 times a day. Thankfully her stitches will be removed this week and I really hope her vet tells me she can be freer in her walking and movement. She has helped me see, though, how it must be when my Father, God, wants to do something for me or through me and I struggle, disobey, assert my own will.

I need to get out of His way and wait for Him. I guess it’s good I have a lifetime to work on this.

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hidden blessings in lessons

My father, though generous and kind was a perfectionist. No one is really perfect, but he wanted us to believe he was and he expected it of others. Hard to please. He was in his late 80s before he told me he was proud of me which came as a complete and utter surprise. So much that all I could say in response was that I was proud of him, too.

So for many years this high bar was the source of a lot of frustration.

My ex-father-in-law I can recall often said, “don’t do as I do, do as I say do.” Though he was one of the most humble men I have ever met.

I have learned many things. Just watch as a dog struggles to dislodge a rawhide chip or some other much-wanted morsel from under something. Until all efforts are exhausted they will go at this with persistence showing no anger or impatience.

So this week my two rescue dogs, Lily and Lulu and I were finishing our long walk when I threw a stick for Lily, a favorite game of hers. As she turned to go after it she yelped and came limping back, her left hind leg dangling uselessly. Not far from the car I helped Lily into the backseat praying the whole way home it was not her ACL.

It was.

Her vet scheduled her surgery for January 8 and sent us home with two prescriptions for pain.

She occasionally looks up at me with her “Walkies?” face and I sit by her and pet her soft fur and explain we can go for walkies but not today. In nature the injured, sick and aging are often left behind their pack. I reassure her that she is still loved and she will be ok.

When we go outside I have learned to walk more slowly so as not to rush Lily. I notice things. I can feel tension drain away. I feel more rested. I am more present with Lily, with myself, the air.

IMG_0810.JPGMarquise Amaryllis that I noticed blooming this week

I am realizing that even though I have been retired for over 10 years I need to slow down more. Like Lily I can no longer push myself as I once did, or I shouldn’t.

I have 4 steps onto my front porch. Lily can manage getting down much better than she can climb. So I help her as she steps up each step one at a time. How many times I have cried out to God when I find myself in a mess or situation that leaves me helpless.

And each time He has shown me the way.

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 Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.”  –Isaiah 30:21 NASB

 

not the pumpkin

I can remember when I last participated in Hallowe’en. Fall 2008. I was living in northwest New Mexico. I had just adopted a new rescue dog, husky-mix Lily. She was the ideal dog! She knew all her commands– sit, stay, shake, lie down, treat, ride, walk and she could give you “five”.

Until Halloween night. I bought a huge amount of treats. I was so ready for this. Then the doorbell rang. Lily was apoplectic. She raced to the door, clawing at the door frame snarling, saliva flying– she was her own night of terror.  I had to find a way to hold her back, open the door and stick the bowl of candy out the door. Fistfuls were taken I am sure but I was so relieved to shut that door. Half a minute later the entire scene threatened to repeat but, though I heard Lily she was not at the door. I opened the door, gasped at the little monsters waiting their cavity-inducers and closed the door to see Lily standing on the baby grand piano barking in a complete frenzy.

Ok so this won’t work. I took the bowl, poured the other bags of candy and set it at the end of the walkway, turned out the lights and went to bed.

Lily was at peace.

So this year my son called me walking on his way home from work to let me know he would be nearby this weekend for a meeting and would like to come see me. I was so happy! But he sounded a little hesitant. The only reason I can think is because his live-in girlfriend and I have never actually found a common ground. Except my son, which she seems to lord over me. Why I have no idea because clearly, the relationship each of us has is vastly different. But the tension is there all the same. She is ‘New Age-y’, I am conventionally traditional. My son is stuck in the middle.

So we chatted about the weekend and he explained he was juggling a bag of groceries, the phone and a large pumpkin for Halloween.

That stopped me. The image I had was not the literal items he mentioned but the other things in his life– his girlfriend, his work, and me. So I said, “I don’t want to be the pumpkin.”

“What?!” he said.

I explained what he was doing right at that moment was kind of exemplary of other things he was also juggling in his life and I did not simply want to be something superfluous in his life that he would eventually throw away.

Sometimes my worry fantasies are a bit far-fetched. I guess this one was.

A little history: My parents were traditional in that they belonged to the country club, took the family to church (most) Sundays, every major holiday, saw to it we had a good education. Beyond that their lives were consumed with (Dad’s) executive jet-setting, Mom’s golf, book club, junior league, garden club, DAR, bridge club and travel with Dad. I do not take after them much at all. They were unconventional in that we the children fell in there somewhere but inconsistently. We weren’t the pumpkin but we were sometimes rather incidental unless and until we had trouble. My brother? Never. Me? often.

Anyway, sadly my son has nothing whatever to do with the life I knew growing up. He is innocent. Yet I carry this baggage around and sometimes say or think things totally irrelevant to a situation. Because of that history.

Insecurity factors in I suppose, but still.

I do not ever want to be the pumpkin

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Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.”   
 –Psalm 139:16

perchance to dream…..

I have been dreaming vivid dreams lately. Not like creative genius I should patent  this dreams. Dreams where I wake up and think, what does that mean?

So I bought a book that interprets dreams. I have no idea how they came up with these meanings and I read the definitions rather loosely. So far none has been bad though, at least not according to this book.

For instance I had a dream where something in a bathroom overflowed. In waking life this would be reason for panic! But apparently if you dream about clear water it means happiness, prosperity. And dreaming about bathrooms is a good omen. Go figure.

I had 2 dreams about driving. One where I was a passenger which indicates finding some way through difficulties. Good to know. Another where I was driving with my dogs in the car. This apparently foretells staunch friends and successful undertakings. Because of the dogs, I am guessing.

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I say I consider these meanings loosely because it seems how a person interprets these things themselves needs to be taken into account. Doesn’t it? I mean, are these things tested somehow? Some of these definitions make some sense like seeing muddy water in a dream, or standing in it is not a good thing. Problems arise. So some of these things are just common sense.

I know my son has very strange and convoluted dreams but then he is an extremely creative person. He is a graphic designer, working for a company that makes video games. So I can see why this might be reflected in dreams.

So even though I don’t remember dreams every day evidently people dream every night. I always thought dreams reflected waking life somehow but not always.

I don’t believe in fortune telling, horoscopes or divination. Dreams come from my mind. So it likely does have meaning. But even though I do not eat them, if I ever dream of a tortilla it means prosperity.

Better that than indigestion.

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“For in the multitudes of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.”   —Ecclesiastes 5:7

Expectations

The past couple of weeks I was seduced. The temperatures reached all-time highs. We have had a hard winter (well, for here) and I wanted to believe it was finally, completely over. I expected the warm to stay.

The sun is out, the sky is as clear blue as I have ever seen but the wind is gusting over 30 miles an hour and it is cold. Well, for here it’s cold. 50 is cold after 70s and 80s. And 30s overnight. I expected full-on Spring.

I knew it was still February. I know the saying, “March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb”, and it will. It always does. But somehow this year I was fooled into believing the cold was gone and this would be different.

Expectations. When what I want is so much stronger than what reason tells me. When all I believe and hope does not materialize because I didn’t consider all the factors. And sometimes there are factors in my limited experience I don’t know even exist to consider.

So I pray.

There are things I know that I pray for that are just not likely to happen. But they could. It is my way of being dependent on God. Having lived most of my life learning on my own, being resourceful seldom asking for help. Learning to get by with less than most because it was all there was and being happy with it. That was success for me, many times. And my dependence on God is really all I have. Everything else is a gift for which I am grateful but I cannot claim fully as mine. And if nothing else my prayer, if it does not change circumstances right away, changes me. It gives me peace.

My dad used to ask, “Why do you limit yourself?” Funny question. Experience stretches limitations, mistakes refine experience and grace allows others to share the success. So if I limit myself it certainly is unintentional. Who likes being in a rut? Or never growing or changing? So dreams, goals, expectations are visions of better. I use frustration to the same end. Something frustrates I find ways to change it or me so I don’t have frustration again. Not there, anyway.

Fear limits a dream. It’s not possible to achieve in fear. Caution is different. Fear paralyzes. And praying breaks the barrier of fear to where I know I can trust. It helps me know what is limiting me. It shines a light so I can see the fear or the unknown or the question that hasn’t been asked. It puts my dream into the hands of God who knows what’s best for me and when I should have it, or not have it at all. Choices. Opportunities.

If I do not expect anything I am not disappointed. Yet nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Or something like that.

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So go! Trust! Try and try again.

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds  in Christ Jesus. Finally beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”    Philippians 4:6-8

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”   Proverbs 3:5-6

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