Saturday, May 31, 2014

What we should ask each other

In the neck of the Body of Christ where I come from it's common practice for believers to ask each other, "How's your walk?"

Today, as I read Matthew 22, it occurs to me that better questions might be," How are you loving the Lord your God?"
and "How are you loving your neighbor?"

Perhaps that's what Jesus would ask each of us.

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied, " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets and on these two commandments." Matthew 22: 36-40

What would you answer today?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Being me

Okay, so I have a confession.
I'm a sucker for those "Find out are" that are popping up all over Facebook like bunnies have been mating or something. To date, I've discovered I'm Mary from "Downton Abbey," Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings, my 'spirit animal' is a hawk, I have a creative brain, I should have been a professor, am a lily (really?), and, Biblically, am Hannah. And those are just the ones I can remember. I'm pretty sure there are more I've taken and promptly forgotten...maybe because the results annoyed me. Though being a lily didn't exactly please me, now that I'm thinking of it.

Find out who I am in five or nine or even fifteen questions?
It's a ridiculous pursuit, when you think about it.
Sure, I like discovering I'm Galadriel. I am all wise like that, you know.
It didn't take a silly quiz to tell me I have a creative brain or probably should have been a professor (or teacher!).

And yes, of course all these silly quizzes tell me (and you) that I waste FAR too much time on Facebook, and that I just can't stand not to get the right answer on tests, no matter how dumb or unimportant those tests are.

But here's the thing, even as I'm taking them, I'm also standing behind myself saying, "You know the truth."
I do. I know the truth. I know that who I am will never be discovered in a test one can find on the internet. Or even one can find in the pages of a psychology book.
Years ago, when I was a student at Regent College (the seminary in Vancouver, BC I was privileged to attend), I was in a community group where we were asked to share our stories. A young, newly married couple spent most of their time talking about a renown Psychology test (a test you'd recognize) that they'd taken that had been the reason they'd married. It defined them, it was their story. Our group leader (whose name you'd also recognize) finally interrupted them. He's a quiet man, not in the habit of interrupting people, but it was like he'd sat on his hands and his heart long enough.
"Tell us about YOU," he said, with as much force as I ever heard in his voice.
These young people (scientists in their pre-Regent days) looked at him in bewilderment.
"What is YOUR story. Who are you?
It was an awkward afternoon because they didn't know how to tell their story without the aid of external psychological definitions.
Human definitions, I might say.
I do say, as a matter of fact.

We each have our own stories.
It would be easy to go immediately to "We are each made in the Image of God."
But what does that mean in your life? Who are YOU? How has He created YOU in His image? What is your story?
That's the thing worth talking about.
I'm not Galadriel.
I'm Carolyn.
And this blog is my way of  being me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bearing each others' burdens

All around us (by us, I mean Beve and me but perhaps I also mean you) people are suffering.
The other day a man sat on our deck with us and we cried together. He doesn't have a lot of places where he can cry. His wife is battling brain cancer so rare there are only a finite number of treatments. No one's doing research on this kind of cancer because only four people have ever gotten it. And our friend has to be strong for her. He doesn't have the luxury of crying, of letting his fears hang out like he's taken off his shirt and is sitting there in his underwear. But we let him do that. It wasn't brave of us or anything, it's just that Beve's used to such conversations and I don't know any better. I mean, I'd rather talk about the down and dirty, the grit and grime of life than stuff and nonsense. It's just how I'm wired. But when he left he said, "Thanks. That made it lighter for a little while."

But this friend isn't the only one.
I'm really not exaggerating when I say that all around us is suffering.
Some is of people's own making. Some people are the victims. Some are suffering because we live in a fallen world where disease exists and sooner or later we run into it, no matter who we are, how righteous, how Christ-like we're walking.

But what sometimes also happens when those around us suffer is that we look at our own lives and say, "Thank God." Thank God I've been blessed. Thank God my life is what it is. Thank God I don't have to go through that. We say that. Or some facsimile there of. It's instinctive to want to say such things, to think them. I know this because I've felt those words rise up inside me many times.
But you know what?

Those words condemn us.

They do. I'm not kidding.
They are the words of Pharisees. Definitely NOT the words of disciples of the Triune God.
They are words that separate us from suffering when we are meant to bear with those who suffer.
And--having heard sentences such as these myself--I can tell you that they are the very worst words a suffering person can hear from another human being. They close us off from each other. Such ideas are counter to what we're told we are; that is, the BODY of Christ. Even though I cannot completely know or understand another person's pain, I must share it. I must bear it. We are part of the body, and if one part of the Body hurts, the entire Body suffers.

It's absolutely true that I don't bear the full measure of pain of my friends who are suffering. However, my place is to bear what I can, to take their suffering to God, to ask Him to relieve it, to give them peace. As much as I am able, I desire to be a burden bearer. Bearing the burdens of those who are too weak and overwhelmed to carry the pain, to even walk on their own--and carry those things to Christ. This is a privilege inherent in Body life, inherent in life in the Kingdom. will you respond when you are faced with suffering of those around you?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Elderly update

It's been a while since I've written about the elderly parent in our lives. Maybe I should make that plural because despite the fact that one of them lives on different bay on the ocean that borders the other coast of this country, she is still part of our lives and her well-being is of importance to those to whom I write this post. I do have a specific audience in mind today. Usually I send my blog posts out into the world, trusting that God will direct them to those who need to read them. Today, however, I wish to communicate with our (Beve's, which has been mine for more than half my life, which makes it mine!) large far-flung family about our patriarch (and his wife). However, I'm glad to have the rest of you read along.

First, a quick update on Grampie's wife, Thyrza:
Thyrza, at 95, is really struggling with dementia now. And the more she loses her memory, the more she clutches her possessions around her. Her latest fixation has been on the moving list from when she moved back east from Washington State. She's convinced that the moving company stole things from her. Either that or we did. She's called Beve several times asking him to explain what happened to particular pieces of furniture or even small nick-nacks. She's generally very suspicious of everyone. A few weeks ago she went to the council meeting at the care facility where she lives to give a lecture about the proper way to cough. And she doesn't like people coming into her room who are unfamiliar to her...except that most nurses and aides are unfamiliar to her on a daily basis now.  I've been thinking about how afraid she is about the future. She knows the end is near, but the closer it gets, and the less she understands, the more she clutches what she can control--possessions, her space, who she's in contact with.

Ah, Grampie.
Where do I start?
We've seen a slow deterioration in Grampie over the last year. Some days he's perky and knows us, has a lot to say. He eats so much of the very starchy, not-very-appetizing-to-me meals that he's put on about 45 pounds since he moved to the care facility. That's actually not bad news. He was so skinny two years ago all his ribs were showing and he weighed less than he did in high school. However, we gave away all his pants, bought him new ones and now none of them fit. Not only that, but he's so hard to move, the pants are ripped at the belt loops. I know, I know: 'First world problems,' indeed, 90-year-old problems, I suppose. But he's filled up and out on carbohydrates (though more like Beve than his two older sons, to be clear). Anyway, he's in good spirits some of the time.
But at other times, he's simply vacant.
He's been having TIAs periodically (small strokes) and every one leaves him less aware than the one before. After the last one a week ago, he just hasn't bounced back well at all. He sleeps more, recognizes people less. When I saw him on Wednesday, he wasn't sure who I was and--for the first time EVER--was even mixing Beve up with his oldest brother. His favorite line is, "I'm all screwed up," which is truer than he knows. He loves to laugh at me. Yes, at me. When I asked him why he laughs at me so much, he told me, "I've got to laugh at someone." Okay, then, I'll take that. I'll do that for him. The world is an strange place to him now, but he's not afraid of it. He just laughs and moves along. His real personality is still there, "bumping along," as he puts it. Because he hasn't lost his ability to speak, we get to hear all these gems on the days he's alert.
Grampie continues to be a delight. His room is practically empty of personal possessions now. He keeps trying to gives things away. Every time I see him, he wants to give me something. All he has left on any wall is a painting a granddaughter did for him (and I think it's only there because he can't reach it!). He holds lightly to things. He no longer tries to control anything. It's like he has nothing left to hold.

So there you have it.
They are both very far from who they were. Thyrza was sweet and caring and giving when she was herself. Grampie was a pack-rat of the highest order not too long ago.
Yet I also wonder if there's something truer about who they've become. There's no fear in Grampie as there is in Thyrza. Absolutely no fear in him at all. There's only laughter, delight and a bit of wit still.

So who do you hope to be?
Shall we live now as we hope to be?
I pray that I am.
I pray that He enables me to hold lightly, live fully, live delightfully, with wit and joy and presence, so when those elderly days come, my true self will be like Grampie's--whether I know it or not!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Catching up with quilts

It's been difficult to write lately. Too much is going on that has filled up my head. I should say too much that isn't my story to tell. So in lieu of story-telling today, I thought it might be a good day to post pictures of the quilts I've been working on in the last few months. There was a long hiatus from that while I recovered from my neck surgery, but I've been back at it now with a frenzy.  And that's all I have to say...except

  1. Duvet cover for BB 
  2. Baby quilt for a little girl
  3. Baby quilt for a little boy
  4. Random lap quilt--I'm using it on my half of the bed right now
  5. Queen-sized quilt for close friend (held by J and Beve!)
  6. Quilt for nephew who just graduated from college--sorry these last two are wrinkled
  7. Default quilt for J (with photo bomb by Kincade!)--I didn't get any pictures after ironing
  8. Baby quilt for cousin's baby
  9. Baby quilt (these last two might have already been posted--their babies were born in the fall)

Monday, May 19, 2014

"Steep us in Your Truth"

Beve loves to collect quotes. He has files of them. Me? Not so much. However, lately I've been running straight into a wall of quotes and prayers about truth. So much so, even one dull of eye and slow to catch on couldn't help seeing a pattern. God always has a purpose in such things. I understand some of what He purpose is, though not the length and breadth of it. But here are the head-smashing quotes I've run into just in the last couple of days. Maybe one of them will speak to you.

Some found prayers (and quotes) about truth:

From Common Prayer: a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

Steep us in Your story, Lord:
that we might live in its truth today.

"To speak a true word is to transform the world." (Paulo Freiro)

More often than not, Lord, we are afraid of truth. It threatens the identities we have created for ourselves and the ways we are comfortable perceiving others. Give us ears to hear Your truth as blessing and Your truth as gift. Amen.

From Seize the Day--With Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a devotional of his writings)

"We may not play with the truth, or else it will destroy us."

" seeking truth, it is not so much a matter of us finding the truth, but rather of it finding us. And when it does, we cannot but surrender to it. It is in this surrender that we establish the foundation for a life of integrity. It is in refusing to positively respond to the claims that truth makes on our lives that we discover that truth turns from being a friend to being an foe who condemns us."

 General Quotes:
"To believe in something and not live it, is to be dishonest."-- Mahatma Gandhi

"Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom."-- Thomas Jefferson

Nothing is this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery."-- Fyodor Dostoyevesky

"I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have."-- Abraham Lincoln

"If it's not right do not do it; if it's not true do not say it."-- Marcus Aurelius

"I Am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one gets to the Father, except through me."--Jesus Christ

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I think of water--repost

An old friend posted that her church just helped a village in Kenya (Adiedo) put in a well. I get teary when I hear such news. In Africa, the first draws of water from a deep well are a miracle of the gospel kind. I know it. I really, really know. We do no greater work than to start by giving water to those who have none, or have such brackish, dirty, distant water, it's their life's work to pursue it. So, of course, I thought of this post--which was previously a journal entry--written in 2008. Thought led to action, so here it is again. Too many places in the world (even in our own country) there is hard-scramble for water. So it's no small thing to give it. For HIM to promise it.

February 10
Of all the thoughts, images, impressions of this day, what lingers is water. What it is to experience fresh, clear, clean, life-giving water after a history of not knowing what that is. Never knowing, as many Wolof people of Senegal don't, the essence of the thing when it's right beneath the ground, available with the proper equipment. Water--it makes me cry to see again, when I close my eyes:
the first pump of the handle, the first rush out the spout, the clear glass of it spilling into the bowl, and the beautiful little children dipping their hands into the bowl and scooping it up to sip, thrusting fingers through the pouring fountain of it. Life-changing. The metaphor is too obvious to be overlooked, even for those dull-witted (as we are), this is Kingdom work, this amazingly simple gospel work of giving water.

And I write of it with tears and hunger--the Wolof people of Senegal, the least and the poorest in this world, who have scrambled their whole lives in pursuit of water and sustenance. What could I learn from them? I want to sit in their doorway with them, Lord, I want to be taught of the world by them. I want to see what the world looks like through their eyes, hear who you might be to them. My heart is breaking and full all at once, and I think of water.

And how we are so consumed by our consumer mentality and desire for health and perfection that we purify the purist water on earth. And pollute in the process, by the sheer volume of plastic jugs, bottles and containers we use and throw away. Yet there they are pulling up dirty, brown water, drinking it, cooking in it--cooking in mud. Never even knowing what water looks like. We shower, water lawns, wash clean clothes... and there are children (3 in 5) dying from lack of or bad water. No wonder we're fat. Fat and dying. Me as much as anyone.

And I think of water. Jesus' tears for the poor in this world--the poor whose needs I glimpse, and those whose needs I do not. The poor who wait to hear the world has not forgotten them in their plight. He weeps because He called us to be His church in their world, and we worry about what the church can do for us--we think it's here for our sake. He weeps because they will never hear until they survive to hear, and that means those needs, those basic needs, so basic we don't even list them as needs--water, food, clothing, shelter--are cared for. He weeps.

So I think of water. And how thirsty I am for Africa, how that thirst is a Psalm 63 thirst, "my soul longs for you in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water." Africa--exactly! This thirst has grown and grown until I am nearly dehydrated with it and it aches through me. And I thirst for it for them. Water for the land and water for those in the land.
Africa. I think of water.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

For better or worse

So we had an anniversary.

But here's the thing: it was a whole lot more like a picture of marriage than a picture of that day 30 years ago.
Let me tell you what I mean.
Most people get married in pomp and circumstance. We did. We had a great big, fancy church wedding with a whole lot of people. I mean, like 450 people. It was large. But that's not so many, considering we sent out 600 invitations. Over a hundred of those invitations went overseas, where we'd been living for the last five months. And our wedding was large because we were two hometown kids who had fathers with somewhat high profile jobs at the university.
These things happen. It was an event, our wedding was. Not exactly what we'd imagined when we were planning it across the ocean in Epe, Holland. But our moms got a hold of the plans. Moms do. Beve's mom was a party person. She liked events. She liked planning things, liked hosting them. My mom? Not so much. But she also didn't like being outdone by the tall (er) woman across the street she'd always felt a bit intimidated by. So when they got together, all our ideas--like the women wearing simple knee-length dresses and the groomsmen wearing sweaters--went out the window. Before we'd been back in the states a week, I'd picked out material for bridesmaid dresses that bore a striking resemblance to Princess Di's dress, and the men were being fitted for tuxedos. It spiraled into this wedding. I mean, a WEDDING.

Don't get me wrong, I loved our wedding. It was sweet and good and ours. Beve surprised me by singing to me right in the middle, we wrote our own vows, sang worship songs we'd brought home from YWAM, and included many people we loved (and we made them speak!). I wouldn't change a thing (well, maybe one or two...but not the essence).

Still, it wasn't the wedding that I think about when I think about celebrating May 12th. It's our 30 years of marriage. It's life together. And most of that life has been in the trenches of dailiness. We got pregnant five months after our wedding, so for the last 29 years, our marriage has also had children a part of it. I wouldn't change that either. We didn't have the luxury of years to get to know each other, or to travel, or many things others do sans kids (though we had those things before we married). We learned to make space for each other around the needs of children. We're still doing that. We still have a child living at home (adult though he is). Someday, we think. But in the mean time, we carve out time for each other amid needs.

It isn't always romance.
I guess that's what I'm trying to say.
There's been a whole lot of ordinary.
There's been a lot of trauma, even.
One of us (usually Beve) has had to care for the other.

Monday was a day like that.
Beve was the one who needed the caring for.
I was the one who got to do the caring.
I liked that. I liked being the one to take care of him for once, though when it comes right down to it, I don't know what I could do, if he went down.
See, Beve has Meniere's Disease. It's a disease of the inner ear. His left ear rings constantly. Sometimes it also causes such terrible vertigo--SPINNING--that the sufferer can't move. This happened to Beve Monday at work. By the time I got there, he was lying on the couch in his office, lights off, trash can beside him for the inevitable vomiting. He couldn't possibly walk to the car. I've seen him knock down towel bars and fall flat on his face during a Meniere's attack. And he's a large man, one I couldn't possibly keep from falling. After a whole lot of phone calls, I finally got to his Ear, Nose and Throat dr through the back door (eg, his cell-phone!). It's been 8 years since his last attack, so the front office wouldn't just give him a note to prescribe the needed meds without an appointment. But Beve couldn't possibly go to an appointment without the needed meds. Can you say Catch-22?

An hour or so later, meds working, spinning abating, he was drowsy enough that we could walk out to the car, drive home where he slept it off for 4 hours.

And that's what I call a real anniversary. Or at least, real life on our anniversary.
I like it that way. I felt helpless at first, then very glad to be able to DO something for him.
Then glad he was better.
Seeing Beve laid low is my least favorite thing.
Helping him is my MOST favorite.

And really, isn't that what marriage is all about?
For better or worse?
Thirty years in, I'd say so!

Monday, May 12, 2014

30 years

This blog is on a brief hiatus;
it's out celebrating
30 years of marital bliss,
mostly bliss, I should say,
real life, anyway,
with this man--
the one and only Beve.

We've lived some doozies, too,
Ups and downs and
and deaths
Yep, we've seen them all
And we're still standing.
Strong as ever.

I asked Beve last night if he'd to sign up 
for another 30,
and he answered,
"I'll take another hundred."
As near as I can figure
(though I'm not very good at math)
we'll be celebrating most of those
in His throne room,
but for those we've shared on this earth,
for those still to come,
I'm grateful.

I can't imagine life with anyone else, 
the man I chose,
er, the man God chose for me.

PS--this picture was taken in our hometown,
where we first met at 9/10
where we really became friends at 14 (or so)
where we married at 26/27
We haven't lived there once in our married life,
but we continue to go home again
and again.

Happy 30th, Beve.
From A Word About Words
and me

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Graduation in the Palouse

I'm in the Palouse. It's a sentence that has begun many a blog post. The picture above is of the road leading from my sister's house to her husband's family farm, where the farming operations are still centered for his world. This road bears my brother-in-law's family name. It's easy far enough out among the rolling hills on the eastern border of Washington, just up the grade from the Snake river, that a person has to know where she's going to find her way there. Out on this road, you'd best turn your cell-phones off. The batteries drain themselves in short order searching for a signal impossible to find. I've discovered that the hard way more than once. Maybe in this day, in this age, it's hard to imagine a place where cell phones don't work, but the Palouse has dark holes of such places.

And I like it that way.

Beve and I drove over to the University in the heart of the Palouse a couple of days ago to celebrate the college graduation of Beve's youngest nephew. Grampie's youngest grandchild graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering (which warms the cockles of my engineering family-raised heart). This young man is a thoughtful, philosophical person. To wit: yesterday when Beve and I went over to his apartment and I gave him a hug, I asked him, "Are you happy?"
He answered, "Happy? How does someone answer such a question?"
I said,"I wasn't asking about your existential happiness, Cree. I just want to know if you're glad to be done." "Oh. Yeah. It hasn't sunk in yet." Later that night, he made sure to tell me that he actually WAS happy, glad we were all there.
J and Cree are SO much alike.
Funny how cousins might be that way.

It was a good weekend.
On the way over, Beve and I talked wanting to enjoy his family. Sometimes I haven't been my best self around these people. And that's what I prayed for--to be my BEST self. Not to be critical, not to look down my nose, to see the worst but the best, to accept them as they are. Beve and I talked about opportunities for real conversations, moments of connection among the crowd of family.

And God faithfully answered. No, He answered abundantly. There were such moments. Conversations that left me breathless in wonder, overwhelmed in sadness, burdened by what others have to bear. But connected. It was for those moments that we came.

We saw old friends, raised our glasses to a new graduate, renewed old relationships with shirt-tail relatives. Gave our blessing (if it was needed, even obliquely) to a new love. We chatted and ate, and talked and laughed. I had almost enough time with my sister (though never enough, of course), which is a boon of her living her where we can stay!

This was--as far as I know--the last graduation weekend we will ever come to in the Palouse. I'm glad it was such a sweet one. Such a diverse and rich and meaningful one.

I feel full--yes, kind of like I've feasted--of such richness, that it might take a while to sift through it all.
Tomorrow, long before I'm ready to open my eyes, Beve will wake up and drag me out of bed and into the car so we we can get home and spend part of the day with our own kids.

And gear up for Monday...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tension all out of whack

Usually I write of what is working.
What lessons I've learned.
How I'm making it through--
even when the making it through has been through fire.

But sometimes things just don't work.
Things don't get done.
I don't learn a lesson.
Whatever 'making it through' might mean
hasn't happened yet.

I'm not talking about life-and-death things,
No, those are different.
The making it through of those has always comes because I'm grasping by my fingertips to Him,
and He meets me in my weakness with His strength.
Always. His grace is sufficient.

I'm talking about the ordinary junk of life,
the junk that piles up and makes me feel tense
and crazy and no fun to be around.
AND doesn't always (usually?) make me race to Him
because I can handle it.
It's just a to-do list. It shouldn't stress me out,
shouldn't make me tense.
So why does it?

For example:
I pieced together a quilt for someone graduating from college,
wasn't satisfied with it (my son said it looked like the Swedish flag--
three times he said it). So I pieced together a second one. Pinned it, quilted it. Discovered the tension was all messed up. Felt so tense I wanted to scream.
Threw it down in a scream. Quilted the first (Swedish flag) quilt. Sigh.

We're leaving for the weekend early in the morning.
Discovered that my house needs to be company-ready while we're gone.
Miscommunication can be a pain.
I've been a poor house-keeper this year with my bum neck, broken foot, always dicey left leg.
(Should I mention that I'm more a Mary than a Martha, which might be another way of saying I'm a bit lazy?)

Moved all the annuals outside,
moved all the furniture in the living room,
now have back spasms
My own dang fault.
When will I learn to lift with my legs?
Oh yeah, I can't lift with that left leg...

That's the whiny story of my day.
I don't need encouragement.
I don't need exhortation.
I know all the answers.
I know God loves me.
I just need someone to come and
A. bind the quilt
B. finish cleaning my house
C. pack for the weekend
D. plant about a dozen plants
Any takers?

But then I get to thinking.
Sometimes it isn't the huge traumas in life that have us scratching our heads wondering where He's gotten to, it's the small ones, the piling up of stuff. Ordinary, I-feel-overwhelmed stuff. It's like the tension in US is all wrong. We might look okay on one side, but like my quilt, if you look underneath, we're a mess, a loose and pulled out mess. It's in those moments where we must cling, I think. It's in moments just such as these when we MIGHT be most vulnerable, and yet are strong. IF we trust and obey and keep on. Yes, keep on.

Though my day is nowhere near this desperate, one of my favorite short passages (one I've very likely quoted one this blog often!) from CS Lewis's The Screwtape Letters says, "Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

Monday, May 5, 2014

Learning from Kincade or Fathead (whichever you'd prefer)

Meet Kincade.
Remember him? A friend of ours started calling him 'Fathead' last summer, and the name stuck. You can see why. He's our petite, 125 pound lapdog. Try breathing with that Monster (as E calls him) on your chest. I dare you, I double-dog dare you. He's sweet and friendly to a fault. Calling all burglars, this one will jump on you and welcome you as a friend. 'So glad to meet you, sit down, let me put my head on your lap,' that's what he'll be saying.

We've always known Bubba was smart (as SK calls him). He learned his name (s) in the first week. Understood how to use the dog-door in the first day, even though he was so little he could barely jump up and through it. He learned how to play keep-away far sooner than we'd have liked, too. And just about wound up in someone else's home as a result. He liked keeping away our socks, kitchen towels, the remotes, my cell-phone (s), paper, coins, rocks, just about anything he could put in his mouth.
Did I mention that the living area of our house has a circular flow and he learned that quickly, too?
It drove me crazy for a while.
He learned that Beve's answer for everything 
was "Treat, Kincade!"
Yep, he caught on to that one really quickly!
Did I mention that my answer (after the 4th crunched cell-phone) was to give him away?
At least that was my answer until he put his sweet, fat head on my chest again.

Cade (as J calls him) is a sweet, tender soul. Some might even call him a little too tender.
If our Jackson was an Alpha male, Kincade is a Zed male.
His favorite treat is fruit. In fact, it's impossible to eat fruit, without him in complete attendance, ever hopeful. Apples, oranges, grapes (yes, I know, they're not good for dogs, but HE doesn't know it!), cherries, watermelon, pineapple. But pears are his favorite. He'll practically climb the counters for pears.
But he'll take vegetables, if no fruit is available. 
He doesn't like electric cords (got mixed up in the Christmas tree lights when he was a puppy, and he has a long memory--who knows when they might reach out and strangle him again!).
He's also been terrified of cars. I mean, he wouldn't get into a car to save his life.
At least, I couldn't get his 125lbs in to save his life. When he was very small he had a traumatic experience with a full ice chest. It rolled onto its side and hurled 60 miles an hour toward him. He threw his body over the front seat onto mine and dove head-first between my legs, so his back end was in my face.
Come to think of it, it was a traumatic experience for me too.
I couldn't get him to move until we were safely home.
Ever since he's refused to get back into a car.

Kincadia (as I call him) is two now. And an amazing thing has happened in last few months. He now does practically ANYTHING I tell him to. I call him, he comes. He brings BACK whatever he's taken, like socks and underwear. He no longer steals the remote or touches my cell-phone, no matter where I leave it.
So one sunny day when I decided to teach him to lie down before throwing his ball for him, he caught on the first time. Then, just a few minutes later, I decided to teach him to stay. I walked around the whole yard and he just lay there watching me. 
First TIME.

THIS DOG is smart.
I mean, he's really, REALLY smart.

So, taking another chance, a few days ago I told him we were going for a ride in the car.While Jamaica (the Springer) was jumping and barking her enthusiasm, I put him on a leash, certain it would be a HUGE tug of war once we reached the car. UNcertain whether there would actually be a ride at all, but willing to give it the ol' college try.
But, again, he amazed me. He walked right out, didn't pull away but stood at the back of the Highlander, and lifted his paws for me to lift him in (for some reason he can't jump very well--which is kind of a drag, he's not so easy to lift).

Today (our 4th trip in the car) I didn't even use the leash. He knows the drill. Out the door, to the back of the car, waited for me to open it, lifted his paws, up he went. Like clockwork. Like he'd NEVER been scared. Later, when he stood up for a moment in the car, I told him to lie down, and he did
(something I never managed to get Jackson to do!).

As I was driving around with the dogs
I thought of how far we've come. I thought of how many times I was completely, utterly annoyed with him. He was such a rascal for so long. I thought I'd never get him trained. These days, he's a great dog, perhaps the best we've ever had (and if you know me, you'd know what I'm saying--I've had at least two other dogs that I loved so much it was like my heart was in them!). 

I just had to be patient, to not give up (and there were times when I thought he was too much for me).

It makes me glad today.

It also makes me think of the times when I've been such a rascal. A Fat Head, if you want to call me that.
It makes me think of the times when I was really, really hard to train, when I was playing keep away with God, doing my own thing, ripping up something He knew was valuable; or when I was afraid of something that was really only in my own imagination. He knew better. 
He knows better.
He loved me enough not to give up on me.
He waited me out.
He loves me right now just that much.

There are probably things right this moment that He's waiting me out on, things that I'm afraid of but don't need to be, things that I'm playing keep-away with--valuable things that HE understands far better than I do. But He loves me and He's present, and He's hanging in there, waiting to take me for my next ride.

That's my dog-day lesson.
Thanks, Fat-head (as Beve calls him).

You talking about me?

Friday, May 2, 2014

If I'd only known

It's Random Journal Link-up Day! Check out all the other journals here. Also my middle sister's Birthday, not that those two things are related; my post will have nothing to do with her, but I just had to give LD a shout-out because I'm thinking of her. I also can't tell you I abided by the letter of the law for RJD, which says I'm supposed to pick out a journal, open it randomly, and write whatever entry I happen upon. No such luck this month. The problem is that I picked out a journal labeled "Spring 1983."  The first page the journal fell open to revealed this wouldn't be a status-quo journal. I should have known--not that year, not that spring.
You see, the spring of 1983 was all about letters that were flying across the pole between Finland and Washington state, between two old friends who'd renewed their friendship after about an eight year hiatus. The man who was not-yet-the-Beve and I had reconnected the fall/winter of 1982 in Helsinki and now were in the middle of a flurry of letters.

This edition of my journals was the place where I unleashed all my longings about him. It's fascinating to read the words of this young woman who has no more idea of what the future holds than she understands why her past has been so painful. I read her words and smile. "Relax," I want to tell her. She's just a year away from being married to this man. A SINGLE year. But she hasn't the faintest idea of whether he considers her more than a friend, whether God wants her to EVER be married--let alone to a man such as not-yet-the-Beve. What she does know, what every word conveys, is how much she values this man, how much she believes he's a treasure, whether he ever has anything to do with her. Laced with these very unselfish words are also the deep longings she has that this tall, lovely man does feel as she does. Her hopes, her dreams, her "I think I might just love him," words litter the pages of this edition of the journals.

So I read an entry or two. Then another and another, keeping track with a finger of the first page I'd opened (still wanting to 'do RJD correctly--I'm like that). Then, with a sigh, and because I couldn't help myself, I flipped back to the beginning and read through the whole thing. Now (as you might guess) I really, REALLY, want to waste the rest of my day reading more of these blue notebooks, right up until the moment when not-yet-the-Beve actually becomes THE Beve, and tells me how he feels. I really want to do that. It's such a story. And it's mine.

Isn't that partly why we keep journals? So we have an immediacy with an earlier version of ourselves? We have the opportunity of revisiting ourselves at ages that we might not otherwise remember. I love that. I can know me at 16, 26, and yesterday. And God uses that. He used this journal from the spring of 1983 to remind me of His faithfulness in bringing us together and it's a gift I don't take for granted.

It's a perfect time to remember this, too. May 12th is our 30th anniversary. When we married, we'd already known each other 16 years. But we had know idea how much more was ahead of us, how much bigger and better life would be together. In the ebbs and flows of the last 30 years (and in every marriage there are both, of course), I can say how profound the treasure is that is US. Not just the Beve, not just me, but US together.

The young woman who wrote these words didn't know this, but the self that has wrinkles and graying hair does.
I think about him. I leave it most of the time...and I pray for him. But sometimes I fantasize about what it would be like if he loved liked me and that isn't of God. I'm scared of feeling this way about the wrong person. I know I'm capable of convincing myself that God says a man is 'right' when he isn't. I've been down this road before, and don't want to do that to him. Not to him of all men on this earth. I think of who he is, what he is... I just wish he'd come home so I could deal with my emotions face to face. Maybe simply seeing him will be the answer--we'll look at each other and we'll both laugh, knowing it was merely a sand castle. That would be fine. Then we can relax and be friends. But right now, the way my heart pounds when I see an envelope with his handwriting on it, it's clearly NOT fine. I think I might just love like him a great deal.