Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Skills possesed and not...

Amos had his first haircut today.  I have done a fair job with children's hair, Bettina's, and my writing student's in years past.  Alas, I have absolutely no skill with a dog's.  No matter that Amos squirmed the entire bloody time.  I am the Alpha Dog; I should have established my dominance with the shears.  Instead, Amos' preference prevailed, and thus, he looks very much like the Shaggy DA.

I will say that I found one result of the process to be quite interesting.  You see, I had been thinking that Amos was growing by leaps and bounds.  I was thinking that he was getting to be such a big boy.  That, however, is not the case.  With 1.5 inches of hair removed, he is still, indeed, a tiny puppy dog with a skinny body!

This photo is of my two buddies prior to the chopping session.  Are they not both lovely?

[NOTE:  I am not brave enough to post a photo of my hatchet job on Amos.  At least it will grow out soon.  SIGH.]

The skill I do possess I had forgotten.  I, Myrtle, am a rather fine hand with a spackling blade!

The stripping of the wallpaper went much faster than I had thought.  Actually, there was quite a bit of therapy in scraping paint and then peeling wallpaper.  The former was done with much vim and vigor; the latter was performed with great gentleness and patience.  Wednesday, I had finished the project I had thought would take a week.  Well, I did spend an hour last night cleaning up the edges next to the molding along the ceiling since someone suggested I used a utility knife to trim it away.

In any case, the painter who was supposed to come yesterday did not arrive today either.  In his not arriving, I received 16 voice mails and 4 texts in less than three hours, each one more aggressive than the last.  The first set, I did not hear because I was moving all of the furniture out of the parlor in preparation for him.  I called him back once I learned he was not coming and was going to be putting me off until next Monday because he has other work the rest of this week.  The next set of voice mails occurred whilst I was napping since this was the second day I was awake before 8:00 AM, which is very hard on me.  In the last voice mail, he threatened to not come at all if I didn't call him back immediately...that set was 4 calls in 11 minutes.

Then the texts followed.

His actions made me exceedingly uncomfortable.  But my learned response is to just ignore how I feel and endure the actions of others even if I do not wish to be around them or interact with them...even if it harms me.  I did not respond to the texts because of the last voice mail.  The final text declared he would not be painting my house.  There was great relief in reading that.

Although he is inordinately economical, unfathomable really, even before his texts, I no longer wanted him in my home.  I did not want to spend two days with him.  A boundary I was thinking about setting because I not longer thought that he would be safe to be around.

However, a part of me thinks, probably erroneously, that this was my fault and forgiveness means I apologize for engendering such behavior in him and have him come to paint whenever he can.  I was told recently that I am not responsible for the poor impulse control of others, that even if I were, somehow, vexing or provoking in my presence, demeanor, words or appearance, angry words and inappropriate behavior by another is not my fault.

So, perhaps recognizing boundaries I want/need to feel/be safe and believing I have the right to set them is a skill I am in the process of possessing...the very beginning of the process.

In any case, I ferried myself over to Lowe's and fetched some painting supplies, since I have gallons and gallons of paint sitting in my car.  [Too bad I no longer have someone to carry it all into the house!]  I purchased fresh rollers and pan liners and an edger that I had used at my last job and found quite handy.  I also bought an extension pole, for I am not sure how I will paint the stairwell, but I suspect Bettina would forbid me to try and use a ladder on the stairs.

I also purchased some mud and began tackling the spackling of the divots, holes, and cracks in the plaster walls.  Whilst setting about rendering the walls smooth, I noted that I had completely forgotten that I have a talent in this area.  I shall have little sanding to do tomorrow before setting on the next layer with the next size up blade.  Rediscovering this bit of skill sort of buoyed my spirits, which were flagging over the words flung at me by the painter.

Texting is not a great part of my life.  In fact, most of the ones I receive are from my beloved Bettina, who sends me photos and notes about her day...one of the little ways she lets me know that she is thinking of me and loves me that does not take much time away from her busy vocations of wife and mother of two young children.

When my boss sent me ugly texts, I tried to set a boundary with her since I did not want those words on my personal cell phone.  She ignored my request, my boundary.  The buzzing sound of a new text would sicken my stomach and set me to trembling before I even checked to see if it was one of her zingers or an I-love-you from Bettina.  My dear friend was the one who taught me how to block someone's phone number.  As a result, for months now I have not had ugly texts.  Today, that nausea and fear and such came flooding back.  So, seeing I could still do at least one thing well was a tad encouraging.

I am hoping that I can just paint a little bit by little bit...even though the extended mess will be distressing...and save some money in the process.  I am a bit weary of trying to vet contractors and, for the most part, striking out.

Aside from the rediscovery of my talent, this day ended far, far better than it started because Brother Goose prayed the Psalter with me!

There is a Snippets reader who has shown me truly unbelievable mercy in filling my inbox with a Psalm most days of the week since I grew ill.  While the physical part has gotten at least manageable, the spiritual anguish has not abated.  He has, simply put, been the voice of Christ to me.  He also wrote what I believe to be one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to/about me:  Despite the past, here’s something that seems exceptional about you: For the most part, you seek your own answers and path forward, not someone else’s.

A part of me would reject such out of hand, knowing the struggles that have brought me low.  Yet I can admit that, while I have been conditioned falsely in many ways, I do not blindly follow in all things.  To receive his words truly warmed the cockles of my heart and just about every other part of me.  
This followed on the heels of encouragement by new friends I have made here.  

This couple from the church I am attending genuinely seem to be kindred spirits who are clothed in Christ's mercy.  The wife told me that it was okay for me to be who I am right now, where I am right now.  They just wanted to be a safe harbor.  On Sunday, both of them fetched paint with me and then sat in Panera's talking with me for hours.  After I got home, I felt badly about how much I talked and that I did not always contain my emotions.  Yet I received an e-card from them telling me that they enjoyed the time we spent together.  I think they get how unsettled and unsure I am. What meant the most to me was that they let me know that even if I look for a church home elsewhere, they still want to be friends.
So, to the Psalter.  Another mercy following the two other gifts of my Good Shepherd.  Experiencing Brother Goose's joy at praying the Psalter is one of the greatest privileges I have known in this life.  Even more so than the little lessons he drops in from time to time is the wonder of basking in the Spirit's passion and joy that exudes from this undershepherd who is always mindful of his own sheepiness.  

Tonight, my ears and mind and heart were filled with a dozen glorious psalms:  56, 65, 86, 87, 88, 104, 116, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150 (the latter five I learned being the lauds commonly prayed at the end of offices of prayer, such as matins or vespers or compline as a way of closing out the time of prayer).  A dozen!  What wonder.  What a magnificent gift.  What joy.

Yes, we were not yet to 104 before I took note of the joy settling upon me.  

What I love about Gooster is that he can be as giddy about the Psalter as I...more so actually.  After 88, there was a tiny lull as we were both waiting for the other to suggest one.  I had wanted to suggest 104, but we have prayed it twice already and I was thinking we ought to mine other riches, even though I absolutely cherish being able to pray that with another brother or sister in Christ.  I wanted to burst out in song on a bloody harp when he said, "How about 104 again?"  My, how my Good Shepherd loves me!  He does not tire of the psalms I pray again and again and again.

In the Large Catechism, one of my 187 favorite bits is the fourth petition of the Lord's Prayer.  I have blogged about how I have marveled every time I hear the Lord's Prayer the depth of that plea:  Give us this day our daily bread.  I never imagined what I was asking the Lord and Creator of the Universe to bestow upon me.  Ever since that bit of revelation via Luther, I have found myself drawn to psalms, such as 65 and 104, that point out the wonders of His power and majesty and reign over creation.

For a while now, I have been managing the Facebook page for the mission I am helping.  I reluctantly agreed to do so since I abandoned Facebook myself, having found myself ridiculously hurt by some things and by criticism that I didn't update it enough when I was first ill.  Basically, I told the Director that I would only do so if he would allow me to post quotes from the Book of Concord, like I was doing for the majority of my own status updates.  Of course, I did not put it in those words, but that was really what was in my heart.  Please let me put the good stuff out there again.

When it came time to do the calendar for him, I, again, was a bit mulish in my opinion that it shouldn't be a bible verse a month calendar, but one that focused on our confessions, since the mission is about training African men to be Lutheran pastors.  So, I drafted quotes and prayer requests focusing on the pillars of our doctrine.  

The calendar was late, so it started in February.  The Holy Trinity being the focus of the first three months, March is on Jesus Christ.  I put the prayer request at the beginning of the month on the mission's page and have kept the Book of Concord quotes to those which talk about Jesus Christ, primarily the person of Christ since Justification comes as a later topic.  I, myself, have found this dwelling upon Christ all month and savoring the bits of doctrine posted to be beneficial...fruitful.

This may sound sacrilegious, but I found it a bit fantastic (double entendre intended) that the quote I found today turned out to be how Christ is our mediator...He is the one who gave us the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us to bring our prayers to Christ and He is the one who is ever praying for us, even this very moment, before the Father.  He is the one who is the Living Word, who inhabits my beloved Psalter, who gave me the very words of my heart as prayers for me to speak when I have none of my own.

I shall post the quote here, but I am also wondering if I should just start also posting my Book of Concord quotes here....

...Christ does not stop being our Mediator after we have been renewed. They err who image that He has merited only a first grace, and that, afterward, we please God and merit eternal life by our fulfilling of the Law. Christ remains Mediator, and we should always be confident that for His sake we have a reconciled God, even though we are unworthy. [BOC, AP, V (III), 41-42]

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!


Becky said...

You didn't need to buy mud. My kids would have gladly made some for you.

Myrtle said...

Hee! Hee! Hee!

I should gladly have some Kulp cherub mud in my home!