Meet Pepper, our dachshund lab mix. She’s cute and lovable and charming. When people come to the house they want to take her home with them. And some days I’m tempted to let them.
She’s a jumper; a straight-up, five-foot jumper! I’m not kidding, she can jump as high as my head and I’m 5’3”. I swear she has springs for legs. She’s hilarious and entertaining for our company but a real pain in the neck for me at times. When I let her out of her crate in the mornings she jumps up and down beside me, behind me and all over my feet to her food bowl, to the back door when I let her out, and when I let her back in. I can’t move without her jumping sky-high like a crazed kangaroo.
Now she’s learned she can jump on the dining room table. And if that’s not bad enough, I caught her on top of the counter the other night eating Bojangles’ biscuits we were saving for later. So much for that! I ran her off and put her in her crate, thinking that would teach her not to do it again.
Well, she’s a slow learner, too. After a few minutes of letting her back out of her crate, I heard a thump. I snuck into the kitchen and found her walking and sniffing on top of the stove! Never had a dog that did that. Never even knew dogs would do that.
Good grief! I have a cute little dog with a neck like a giraffe, that jumps like a kangaroo, eats like a pig and thinks she’s a cat.
Meet Bella, our greyhound mix. She’s tough as pig iron and just as hard-headed. When she’s focused on something, especially a squirrel or a bug, she becomes stone-deaf. You can yell your head off to come here and she won’t hear you.
She’s sweet and loving but on her own terms. Where Pepper is all over people when they come into the house, Bella barks and sniffs them to death before she’s half-way sure she wants them on her turf. She doesn’t bite, but she wants people to think she will. So I tell our guests to ignore her and let her make up to them on her own. And when she finally does, she suddenly becomes a clumsy, overgrown lap dog.
When we first adopted Bella she was skin and bones and preferred her crate to being with people. She was so timid and skittish that We felt she had been abused. I wasn’t sure she would ever learn to trust her new home and the people in it. But after a few months of gentle coaxing and giving her space, she became less jumpy when we tried to pet her. Now we can say, “Let’s cuddle,” and she’ll back up against us or between our legs to be hugged and petted.
And something new we learned about Bella a few weeks ago. She is extremely protective of babies. When kids, as well as adults, got too close to our one-year-old great-grandson, she began barking and herding everyone away; even his mother!
Both dogs are a joy; they love us and they love each other. And although they get on my nerves at times, I’m so glad we rescued them from who knows what and are willing and able to give the love and protection they need.
Animals always give back far more than they get. They are loyal and devoted and quick to forgive. They fill the void of loneliness. they are more entertaining than a sitcom. And in their own language, they tell us how much they love us and how thrilled they are to spend the rest of their lives making us happy.
So no. You can’t take Pepper or Bella home with you, no matter how much you beg.
Hubby and I were at Wal-Mart the other day and ran into a friend we hadn’t seen in a while. As we were standing in the aisle talking, a lady pushing an empty buggy stopped and gave me a great big, I-think-I-know-you smile. I didn’t know her, but I smiled back because that’s what southerners do. Then, in broken English, she said, “Can I talk to you?”
Dumbfounded, I pointed at myself and said, “Me?”
Like a kid sent to the principal’s office, I shuffled toward her, wondering what she could want with me. The last time a stranger got all friendly with me like that asked me to buy her one of the two jackets she had draped across her arm.
Standing beside her she wrapped a hefty arm around me, pressed her lips against my ear and whispered slowly, “Do you have cancer?”
Suddenly, I was back at Lowe’s checking out, my little pink cap covering my buzzcut and the cashier’s sympathetic words ringing in my ears, “Keep up the good fight!”
All my life I’ve kept up the good fight against injustice, against discrimination, against abuse, but never against cancer.
Laughing I said to my amazon captor, “I did have cancer, but I don’t anymore. I just like wearing my hair short.”
She must have thought I was in denial because she wouldn’t release me and insisted I drink a particular type of water. I can’t tell you what it is because she said it was a secret. But the real reason I can’t tell you is that I couldn’t understand her. So after the third, embarrassing “huh?” I just smiled and pretended I understood every incoherent word.
Standing too close for comfort now I looked into her big, droopy brown eyes and straining to make sense of her blundering words, I wondered if she was on medication or drugs. But more than anything I wanted this confusing encounter to be done and over.
But she wasn’t done with me yet. Nope! With her arm tightening around my waist, she told me I had to eat something too. Could have been roadkill for all I know, or a toad. Even if I knew what it was I wasn’t eating it . . . ever!
This concerned soul was so convinced that I had cancer and that she had a magical cure that I feared she was going to perform voodoo magic right then and there. But, to my relief, she released her arm from around my waist, smiled real big and said, “I want you to drink that water and eat (whatever she told me it was) because I want to see your pretty face when I come back to Wal-Mart.”
I think it started at conception because I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t pushed around by a perfectionist bully and it screaming in my ears, “You gotta be perfect to be loved and accepted in this world. Nobody likes a failure!”
Nobody told me that it was okay to make mistakes, that they’re all part of growing up and learning and discovering who I am. Nobody told me that not everyone performs at the same level; that we all enter this world wrapped with our own special talents and skills.
So it was really tough for me in school; especially when it came to Math. How I hated Math! Made no sense to me whatsoever. And how painfully vivid I remember sitting at my desk in the third grade, the sweetest teacher I ever had trying her darndest to help me understand the stupid problem glaring at me from the page. But what she didn’t understand was how hard I was trying and how utterly embarrassed and angry and frustrated I felt until I plopped my head on my desk and cried. Exasperated, she shook her head and walked away leaving me crying and feeling like the dumbest kid in the class.
And to make up for my failure in becoming a mathematician, I dared not ever turn in my homework with eraser marks all over it. No, sir! I kept redoing it, over and over, wasting time, energy, and paper till I got it right; no eraser marks, no wrinkles, tears or smudges. One hundred percent perfection.
I could go on and on about the wreckage perfectionism caused throughout my life, but this short post would become a thousand page novel. Instead, I want to share how I’m gradually accepting the cruel hard fact that I am not and never will be perfect.
It started with my sweet daughter-in-law. No, she hasn’t bribed me and doesn’t even know I’m writing this post. She is the most well-rounded, self-confident person I know with a bubbly, joyous attitude that brightens any room she enters.
And besides being a faithful, dedicated, top-notch nurse, wife, mother and grandmother, she’s not overly bothered with crooked pictures hanging on the wall, dirty laundry, and dishes in the sink; unlike her perfectionist mother-in-law. She spends her time and energy enjoying life instead of agonizing whether or not every hair is in place before sticking her head out the door.
So do positive, non-perfectionist people really have an effect on others? Well, let’s see: I’ve got dirty dishes in the sink, an unmade bed, and dirty laundry. The screen on my back porch is torn, the deck is green from algae, and my carpets are pee-stained in every room. Oh, and the toilets are yelling, “CLEAN ME!”
And I have to say that, although I’m still a perfectionist-junky, I am gradually kicking the habit. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to jump up, wash those dirty dishes, stick a load of clothes in the washer, and make up the bed. And it surely doesn’t mean that I’m jumping up and down with joy that things are old and falling apart that we can’t afford to fix right now. What I am saying is that I’m learning to live in peace with it.
So what does perfectionism do for you? Well, if you enjoy being tied in knots every day of your life; feeling like a total failure; afraid to do anything for fear of not doing it perfectly; comparing yourself to others; tossing and turning all night because you did or said something wrong; working yourself to death, getting ulcers, and making others miserable, then it goes above and beyond tearing your life apart.
I thank God that He has put all the right people in my life that have taught me to love myself, defects and all, and to stop being so hard on myself. I’m thankful that I no longer feel like I’m being scrutinized under a microscope when I enter a room full of people. And I’m thankful that, although my childhood was miles from being perfect, God gave me the parents He wanted me to have, that one day, in His own perfect timing, He would reveal His perfect love and forgiveness to me.
Okay, I just couldn’t stand it anymore. It’s 11:34 pm and I just got back from tossing the dishes in the dishwasher and wiping the stove, and countertops. But, I didn’t scrub the kitchen sinks till my fingers bled, and all the other chores are still waiting in line, so I’d say I’ve made some progress today. Not bad since I used to scrub and clean every single day and still feel my house wasn’t clean enough. I can honestly say those days are far behind me, except for an occasional relapse. But hey, nobody’s perfect!
It started ten years ago with numbness, mostly in my left foot, and my right foot feeling as though I had a marble in my shoe when I jogged. But, because I stubbornly believed and still believe that moving is good for the body, I continued jogging for seventeen years. No, I’m not a glutton for pain, I just learned to push through it. I’m tenacious that way.
A few years ago, however, my feet, mostly my left foot, have advanced from numbness to swelling, redness, stinging and burning like they’re in a fire pit.
My doctor started me out on 1000 mg. of Vitamin B12. Doesn’t help my foot pain but helps prevent anemia so I have to keep taking it.
Then came the trial and error of anti-seizure medications, one of which was Lyrica. Well, if I needed more meat on my bones, which I don’t, gaining twenty pounds in four weeks would have been a great side effect. And since depression has been a demented tag-a-long most of my life, Lyrica, along with all the other costly so-called-pain relievers with their hateful side-effects no longer line my medicine cabinet.
So what do I do for my poor, pitiful feet? I freeze them to death in cold water, sleep with my feet sticking out from the covers, and walk barefoot around the house. In the winter, I walk outside on the deck barefoot and stand there till they quit burning.
The weird thing with neuropathy is that my feet don’t burn and sting twenty-four-seven, which is a blessing. During the day, like right now, they feel like normal feet; you know, feet that aren’t screaming their toes off. But let evening come when I want to lay down and cuddle with my dogs and watch Forensic Files on Netflix (I hate stupid commercials), my feet begin screaming like two spoiled brats demanding my full attention.
And they won’t shut up till I drag myself out of bed, fill a basin with cold water and sit and soak my feet till they’re numb. Then they’re good to go . . . till they thaw out.
So this is my three to four times daily routine when I’m at home. When I’m out shopping all day, my feet throbbing and burning, even in my high-dollar shoes, that’s another song and dance. What keeps me from going insane are visions of icebergs floating in my little white basin and plunging my naked feet into the freezing water when I get home.
Sometimes the pain is so unbearable that I feel like cutting off my feet. Then I’d probably suffer phantom pain the rest of my life with no relief at all since I’d have no more feet to soak. It’s a lose-lose battle.
And I have to tell you, neuropathy is no respecter of persons either. It doesn’t just pounce on diabetics; I’m living proof of that. Hubby’s diabetic but doesn’t have neuropathy and I’m glad he doesn’t; I just wish I didn’t!
So that’s my sob story for today. I guess my last words would be that I’d rather suffer pain I can tolerate and control than getting hooked on painkillers with worse side-effects than the pain itself.
Maybe one day there will be a cure for neuropathy, until then, I’ll just keep soaking my feet in ice-cold water in my little white basin till I can’t feel them anymore.
Sitting in my rocking chair in my tiny apartment, my sweet baby boy on my lap, I said to myself: well, girl, you’re on your own. You can’t depend on anyone but yourself to raise this little one. He’s your responsibility, his life is completely in your hands.
At the ripe old age of nineteen, I got married. A year later I had a baby. A whole fourteen months later, I became a single mom. Even if I’d had a crystal ball revealing the abusive marriage and interfering mother-in-law that practiced witchcraft and was as evil as the devil himself, I would have done it anyway. For God, in His infinite wisdom, took the mess I made and turned it into a wonderful blessing, although it would take many years, heartaches and tears before I saw it.
I was living on my own, in and out of the hospital, working laborious, dead-end jobs and being so broke I couldn’t afford an ice cream comb. Then there was the cooking and cleaning and washing dirty diapers on the scrubboard and draping them across the radiators to dry. And if that weren’t enough to grind Superman to a pulp, Robbie was like raising six kids instead of one. Every night he cried; no he screamed himself to sleep. And from the crack of dawn until bedtime, he was wide-open-non-stop. By the time he was a year old, no crib or playpen could contain him. Like a little Houdini, he always found a way out.
When he was four, I’d take him to a little country house made into a church that he thought was his playground. No door was safe. Like a monkey, he’d hang on to the doorknobs and swing back and forth, or do a jig in the middle of the floor while I was playing the piano knowing I couldn’t get up and bust his butt. Other times he’d be outside throwing rocks and hitting older kids in the head, or kicking people in the shins with his pointy-toed cowboy boots or catching rainwater in his hat and pouring it over his head till he looked like a drowned rat. At another church we attended for a brief time, the preacher actually laid hands on his bouncing head praying a demon out of him.
One day, Robbie and I and another couple were going to meet with some friends and follow them to the church we were visiting that evening. I pulled into the couple’s driveway and as I was getting out of the car to see if they were ready, I told Robbie to stay there that I’d be right back. He pitched such a conniption fit I wanted to put him in a straight jacket. Like a wild bronco, he kicked and screamed and rolled all over the couple in the back seat. I turned around to smack his butt but got him in the nose instead. Blood gushed like a fountain all over his face his white shirt and bow tie and jacket and pants . . . everywhere. It was beginning to look like a crime scene. I ran to the couple’s house to get a washcloth when here he comes barging through the door, blood pouring from his nose crying and screaming, “Look what my mommy did! Look what my mommy did!”
But in spite of his devilish capers, he was kind and compassionate. At the age of five, Robbie had to have a tonsilectomy requiring blood work the day before surgery. He was so brave as the nurse stuck the needle in his arm; didn’t even whimper. But across the room sat a thirteen-year-old crying; scared to death of needles. Suddenly, like a little soldier, Robbie slid out of his chair, marched over to her and gently patting her on the shoulder he said, “Don’t cry, little girl. It don’t hurt.”
Those were the moments that erased all the tears and frustration of being a single mom. The moments where nothing else mattered but this little, rambunctious human being God entrusted me to raise. I didn’t know the plans He had for his life, I just knew I was going to continue raising him the best I knew how in spite of the many roadblocks ahead.
Yet, I was lonely and too young to spend the rest of my life being single. But I was also afraid to try again. I just didn’t believe anyone out there would even want to take on a ready-made family and love my son as his own.
But there was one man left at least, and God sent him to us. Robbie was five when we got married and a few years later, my husband adopted him.
It wasn’t a fairytale beginning; we all had a lot to learn. There were times when I thought I made the biggest mistake marrying again. There was no doubt Robbie needed a firm hand, but my heart wasn’t ready for it and neither was Robbie’s tender butt. I admit I was like a barracuda when it came to Robbie’s tears. So we argued a lot during the first two years of marriage before I finally laid down my sword, but it was never out of sight.
There’s always been something special about my son; his love and compassion for people; especially hurting people. And after getting through his rambunctious years alive he never gave us a moment’s trouble. When he began driving, we never walked the floors wringing our hands wondering where he was or if he’d come home drunk or high on drugs or if he’d come home at all. Whatever I asked him to do he did it without a fuss except when I made a mess in the yard trimming bushes and cutting tree limbs. But he cleaned it up for me in spite of wanting to trade me in for a much nicer mom.
Today, Robbie is fifty-one with four kids, five grandkids, and one on the way. He works out every day, runs several times a week and travels every two months to Cambodia where he teaches self-defence and law enforcement and physically rescues children from sex traffickers. He speaks at High Schools, making students aware of sex traffickers and how they cunningly lure girls and boys into their web of lies and deceit. He is a loving, caring man, faithful and committed in everything he does. He never complains, not because he doesn’t have a reason to, he just doesn’t waste his time and energy.
So all you moms out there on the brink of a nervous breakdown, don’t give up! You may not see it now or even ten years from now, but God has a plan for your children’s lives. And He has a plan for your life as well, to be the best mom you know how to be, praying for wisdom and guidance throughout every single day. It’s tougher now more than ever before raising children and keeping them focused and headed in the right direction. but with God’s help, you can do it. Keep loving your kids, praising your kids, getting involved in their interests and helping them make the right choices. And when they become young adults, let them go, trust them to make the right choices you taught them and just be there when they need you.
And grandparents and great-grandparents out there, we should help, not interfere with our young moms and their children. We have wisdom and knowledge that only come from a lifetime of experience. A lifetime of knowing what works and what doesn’t and can even see the humour in some of the things kids do. I sit back and laugh at things my great-grandkids do that were about as funny as tripping over a log when Robbie did them.
If there is nothing else we can carry out in life, we can be the best parents, grandparents and great-grandparents we can be. With God’s help, all things are possible!
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
It’s been a great forty-five-year marriage. We’ve seen each other through sickness and health, sorrow and grief, good times and bad. We’ve argued, we’ve cried, done a lot of forgiving, kissing and making up. But we’ve never ever been unfaithful to each other. Never wanted anyone else to share our lives with but each other.
That’s why it’s so difficult living with this other man. This other man with a short fuse who gets loud and boisterous, moody and depressed. This other man who sits with his head in his hands, crying and hating himself for what he’s become. This other man with a shattered soul praying the pain will just go away. This other man, this unwelcome intruder named PTSD.
My husband served four years in the Navy aboard the USS Forrestal CVA-59 from 1966 to 1970. On July 29, 1967, fire on the flight deck raged for thirty-six hours and claimed 134 lives. Lives that were burned beyond recognition as my husband placed them in body bags, sobbing for them and their families and friends. Young lives that barely got their feet wet in the sea of life. Innocent, charred remains that are forever etched in my husband’s mind.
Fresh out of the Navy, we met, fell in love and got married. He stayed busy with our son, working, playing ball and working in his workshop. We spent time with family and friends, playing music, taking vacations; always staying busy, leaving the blazing horrors of war far behind . . . or so we thought.
After thirty-five, faithful years at Drexel Heritage, hubby retired. But the grandkids were still small and the youngest spent a lot of time with us during the summer, keeping us hopping. Then he grew up. Suddenly, we were going through the empty-nest syndrome all over again and found ourselves feeling more and more alone.
That’s when Mr PTSD began rearing his ugly head. That’s when war broke loose in our peaceful marriage. That’s when the sword of fear and doubt and hopelessness was thrust into our hearts.
We sit and cry listening to the tapes he records during his twice-weekly therapy sessions, not because we want to but because it’s part of the healing process. The part where I want to throw up my hands and tell him to quit because I can’t stand what it’s doing to him. But I know from personal experience that it’s the only way for healing to take place. As hellish as it is, he must revisit the horror till it no longer has power over him.
That’s why we don’t give up. That’s why I encourage him in spite of feeling totally depleted of all hope that he’ll ever defeat this invisible monster.
PTSD is so frustrating. It jumps on you when you least expect it; like sitting and enjoying a movie when suddenly an explosion blares through the speakers and fire rages on the scene. I glance at my husband and see tears streaming down his ashen face; the same face that only a moment before was peaceful and relaxed.
Along with sleep come the blood-curdling nightmares where he’s trapped on the ship with nowhere to run. He sees the flames, hears the explosions, and smells the burning flesh. When he finally wakes up, he’s exhausted and confused and afraid to go back to sleep.
And the least little thing sets him off, like when I clutter his work area in the kitchen when he’s cooking. What I haven’t mentioned thus far is that I have PTSD as well. So when I clutter his work area, he grows horns and a long tail and a great big bossy attitude. Well, that ignites the wildcat in me and in the blink of an eye, our PTSD worlds collide. It’s as if we step outside our bodies and watch these two out-of-control knuckleheads completely take over.
And it happens over and over again. It’s like we’re on a never-ending merry-go-round of defeat and hopelessness and we can’t get off. Many well-intentioned Christians would probably tell us to pray more, read the Bible more, start going back to church and on and on. And I’d have to tell those well-intentioned Christians that some things in life, regardless of how much you read the Bible and pray and attend church, you’re going to suffer. In John 16:33, Jesus tells His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
But I’m proud of my husband, he doesn’t give up. In spite of how he feels, he still loves to cook and I still love that he does it. He’s looking forward to working in his shop again and I look forward to him making furniture for the house. We have a growing, loving family of four grandkids, five great-grandkids and one on the way. We have awesome friends and two loving dogs. We have God in our lives that more than anyone in this crazy world knows and understands exactly what we’re going through. Rather than judge and condemn us He wraps us in His blanket of love and forgiveness and promises to never leave our side.
That’s why we’re gritting our teeth and seeing this thing through to the bitter end.
So it’s been a week since Pepper’s surgery, a week of keeping her calm and away from Bella. And it’s been a happy week for me and the dogs; a week of learning, a week of getting to better know my four-legged creatures and them learning that I am the one and only queen of the castle.
Pepper and Bella used to sleep with hubby. Now, Pepper sleeps in my room, in her crate, lights out, TV off, crate door locked. And when morning comes, I let her out, feed her after making her sit like a well-behaved princess, let her outside to do her business, then back in her crate.
Now it’s Bella’s turn who is either sleeping with hubby or in her crate for misbehaving. And I am so proud of her. She runs to the edge of the kitchen and waits patiently while I fill her food bowl and bring it to her. And before I open the patio door to let her out, I make her get back and sit like a lady which is difficult for her because she can barely sit still for a second. But she does it . . . for a few seconds at least before charging like a bull through the door. We’re still working on that one.
Bella and Pepper love each other so much that I thought I could handle them both at one time; letting them out together, feeding them together, training them together. So much for my senile thinking. Bella forgot all her training and began mimicking Pepper who in turn was mimicking Bella and I began mimicking the Incredible Hulk. All three of us were confused, anxious, and frustrated to the point that one of us was going to have to leave the castle and it wasn’t going to be me!
This past week has given me a better love and understanding for my royal babies. Plus, spending time one on one has opened my eyes to their individual personalities and special needs. Now, they make me laugh and appreciate their antics instead of making me cry and wanting to bury them six feet under.
It’s still a work in progress, and it’s probably not the way the Dog whisperer would do it, but it’s working for us. Our castle is more peaceful now. The Queen is back on her throne. Life is good!
It’s 2:10 pm and hubby and both dogs are still sound asleep. I thought of waking them, but it’s so peaceful and quiet that I changed my mind.
Bella and Pepper have been driving me nuts! For three years, Bella was the only child; potty trained, and over her chewing the furniture and pillows stage. But, after rescuing Pepper a year ago, our house hasn’t been the same. Oh, the couple loves each other, that’s for sure. But, even as sweet and gentle and dainty and loving as Pepper is, she brings out the worst in Bella; our hyperactive-tough-as-pig iron problem child. She’s more hyper, more mouthy, and has reverted back to peeing and pooping on the floor as if to say, “Pepper does it, so I can too!” Oh, and Bella’s a digger. She’s dug holes she can stick her big head into all over the backyard! And she thinks she’s a lap dog, now. A lap dog that takes up three and a half laps to sprawl on. I feel like I’m raising two kids instead of two dogs.
Well, Pepper and Bella are separated for now. Pepper was spayed Tuesday and hubby brought her home yesterday saying she has to be kept quiet for two weeks. That means two weeks of no jumping up and down like a kangaroo, and wrestling Bella to the floor and taking off with her chew toy. Two weeks of no racing Bella to their food bowl, and dancing around like a ballerina. She’s either in her crate or Bella’s in hers.
And I have to say, It’s the calmest and least frustrated I have felt in months. Hubby has a ton of tolerance, I have NONE! So yeah. I’m letting them all sleep as long as they want to today . . . and maybe tomorrow and the next day as well!
Maybe I’m just old-fashioned or I just can’t help myself or I’m too old to change my heart and mind, but I believe in God. Not a deaf and mute god that just sits and blankly stares all day. But a big and mighty God, Creator of everything, Savior of the world, Lover of my soul. I believe in the Great I AM, Heaven and Hell, and every word on every page of His Holy Word. I believe that the only way to Heaven is through the blood of Jesus Christ. I can’t earn my way there and I can’t make myself worthy enough to get there. It’s just not within me. I was born into sin and without my belief in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I will die in sin and receive an eternal sentence in Hell.
It bothers me that many don’t believe for one reason or another. But that’s their choice. I can’t change their mind and I won’t even try unless it’s up for debate. God created us with a free will so who am I to try to take it away. I just feel bad for the unbeliever. Where do they put their trust when troubles come in like a flood? Friends let us down. The family can’t always be there. Strangers don’t care. So where is their hope?
The church can only help lead us to salvation but it can’t save us. And in some churches, everything and everyone but God is allowed in. But we can find Him on a fishing bank or in a barn or under a tree; anywhere and everywhere we go He is there and ready to speak to our hearts and to cleanse and make us whole. It only takes one simple leap of faith. Why is that so difficult for so many to do? Why is it so easy to believe in nothing and so difficult to believe in God?
Believe it or not, God is alive and well. He sent His Son to die that we might have life. He loves us more than we love ourselves and wants what’s best for us. He heals broken lives, shattered hearts, and troubled minds. He is always on call, every minute of every day. Believe it or not, it’s either your eternal gain or your eternal loss. I pray it’s your eternal gain.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s One and Only Son.” John 3:17, 18 NIV
Twas’ a few days before Christmas and there was nary a tree. No stockings were hung by the chimney with care, no presents, no decorations; no sign of Christmas anywhere. At least, not in our house. Not that we didn’t want to decorate and go shopping and at least conjure up a Christmas spirit, it just wasn’t there. It got gobbled up by pain and depression, empty bank account and a just plain too-sick-and-tired-to-care attitude. Plus the stuporous side effects of the pain medication I was taking didn’t help either.
And to top it all off; the last straw that broke the camel’s back, Pepper chews the corner of the cushion to the love seat. She might as well have chewed up everything in the house. At least the scenario that followed next would have made more sense.
Crying, and limping in pain to my husband sitting at his computer, I sought solace. No, I sought a full-blown miracle. I wanted him to fix it, right then and now. I wanted him to suddenly become the Dog Whisperer and teach our two bratty dogs how to behave. I wanted him to wave his magic wand and make a Christmas tree appear with presents piled under it and a magical star on top. I wanted him to rip the pain from my hip and leg and send it back to Hell from whence it came. I wanted him to be God!
I guess my expectations were just a bit too high. Because, well because he’s just a man, and as hard as he tried to understand this woman boohooing before him, he just didn’t. So we ended up arguing. And I ended up in the twilight zone of ghosts and goblins as I lay sobbing in my bed.
There was the house I grew up in, and my grandmother shuffling from her bedroom to the living room, Bible in hand heading towards her favorite chair. And there were my brothers and my mom and dad, and even me; young and vibrant, not a care in the world sitting on the couch. Between sobs of grief, I saw the spruce Christmas tree decorated with bubble lights, vintage ornaments, and tinsel hanging on the branches. I saw presents under the tree, stockings hanging from the mantle and the spirit of Christmas dancing like jolly elves in everyone’s eyes.
Like zombies everyone I loved and lost wandered aimlessly through my mind, making me happy, making me sad; making me cry and cry and cry.
My husband is beyond frustrated now. He comes to me, pleading with me to tell him why I’m crying so. But no words could describe the awful grief that seemed to have carried me to my own grave.
So he threw up his hands and left me laying there sobbing and clinging to the ghosts invading my mind. That’s when the tree appeared, the one I always ran crying to when no one seemed to understand or care. Now, in my frenzied mind, it was more than just a tree; it was my best friend; my grandfather I never knew; my dad who was never there; my mom who never understood; everyone and everything I needed in times like these but was never there. Void of human arms reaching out to me, I always ran to the tree.
Now, in total desperation, I cling to the tree planted firmly in my mind, drawing comfort from its unshakable strength. The tree, so rugged and steadfast never feared my tears, my overly sensitive emotions, my anger and frustrations. It never made me feel stupid and insignificant. It just let me sit beneath its protective, sturdy limbs and cry and work it all out my way and in my own time.
Suddenly, in the midst of my inconsolable grief, the tree faded away and God appeared, mighty and strong and holding me tightly in His arms. I felt His love and understanding. I heard His words of comfort. I saw His smiling face and knew everything was going to be okay.
Twas’ just a few days before Christmas when an unexpected check arrived in the mail for my husband, enabling us to do a little Christmas shopping for our family. The pain became more bearable, the depression lifted, and I decided not to strangle the dogs. Hubby, the man who grew up with five women, is still scratching his head and wondering what the heck that was all about, and that’s okay. I understand and that makes me easier for him to live with, so what more does he want?
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