Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ascribing too much...

I was a bit ridiculous about Kashi, especially the longer I had him.  I missed him while at work the last few years.  I did not want to travel unless I could have him come along.  He was not the easiest of dogs to own.  He was not a lap dog or snuggler or even very loveable.  He was opinionated and stubborn and grumpy.  Yet Kashi was my joy.  Never, not once, did my heart not melt when I saw him curled up in a ball.  Never, not once, did he fail to greet me with reckless abandon.  I was his world.  He was mine.

Amos is nothing like Kashi, for which I am quite grateful. 

Amos is everything I could want in a dog, if I were honest most things that Kashi was not.  He is more cuddly than I ever imagined possible.  He is soft and fluffy and does not shed.  He frets when I am out of sight and will follow me about the house if he is having floor time.  Washing dishes, I oft have him curled about my feet.  That puppy gets most of his exercise racing from room to room, anticipating where I am going and then rushing back repeatedly to ensure I am still on my way.  To be fair, Kashi had no problem with potty training.  Amos still gets an F.

Do I ascribe too much to him?  This, I do not know.

What I do know is that he is different with my guardian angel realtor than with my church friend.  He plays with the former and cuddles with the latter.  He seems to know what each needs. 

Do I ascribe too much to him?

Sleep has been elusive to me, even when taking medication that should knock me into next Tuesday.  Mind overrode body until body broke and body overrode mind.  Now, having slept a bit, mind is re-exerting control. I have been too afraid to sleep.

I did not fall asleep last night until around 4:00 AM. An hour or so later, I was trapped in a nightmare.  I was back in dark place, being smothered by a great weight and in great pain from what was taking place.  I screamed and screamed and screamed.  I suddenly awoke and realized that I was dreaming.  Only the weight and the pain were still there.

The pain is something I have to endure from time to time.  It catches me unaware.  Several months have passed since the last least two by my reckoning, but I believe three or four.  It happened a while after I moved here.  One a scale of 1-10, it is a 10.  I lie there thinking I cannot stand a minute more, trying to hang on, waiting for it to pass.  Sometimes I pass out.  Sometimes I vomit.  It is horrible and there is nothing to do, really.  Just something I have to face.

When I awoke, I discovered I was screaming in real life as well, for I awoke with a very sore throat. And I awoke with a weight smothering me.  It was Amos.

Since the crate did not work with him, Amos has slept with me from the first. While I am reading, he will drape his neck across my own, as if trying to peer at the book as well.  Only I know he's not following the story since snores soon start filling my ear.  When I turn off the light, he will resettled himself on my pillow curled around my head.  Some time during the night, he moved to curled up back to back with me.  When I get up to go to the bathroom, he presses his back against mine once more upon my return.  He comforts me all night long.  Only, really, it is more like I am merely an oversized puppy to him.  He's just draping himself about me as he did his brothers and sister for 10 weeks after he was born.

Only the night of the attack, when I lay exhausted on the ground, Amos dragged himself across my lap.  He was in so much pain he didn't even want me touching him.  Still, he inched and scooted his battered body until it was draped across my lap.  The weight of him was so very comforting, as if he was trying to make himself the greatest presence in my life...not the dog owners threatening me, not the crowd of strangers, not the fear overwhelming my mind.

I still cannot hold him.  He still cries out most of the time I pick him up to take him outside to do his business.  You can still see the bruises beneath his white hair.  His wounds are not yet closed.  At night, he has slept on a pillow near me, but not touching.  I have greatly missed holding him.  But I have also missed having him curled at my back all night long.  Sometimes his small pressure against my back is what helps me have the courage to rewrite a nightmare and fall back asleep quickly.

Last night, though in far less pain than he was before, Amos once again draped himself across my lap.  It is like he knew I was being attacked again and wanted to protect me.  It is like he knew and did what he thought would help me.

Is it wrong for me to think that God created this very unusual puppy dog so that His weak and weary sheep might have the comfort she craves and a modicum of the peace she needs?  Am I ascribing too much to Amos?  Am I confused in how God provides for His children?

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A lesson in horror...

My beloved puppy dog and I were out talking a walk Tuesday evening.  Walking aids in ensuring his nightly business is done out of doors.  We had just turned onto the side street to my own when I looked up and saw this large dark dog heading toward us at a dead run.  I knew what was going to happen.  Quickly, I scooped up Amos, and frantically looked about, but there was nowhere for us to go.

I am terrified.  Still.  48 hours later.

The dog was large and immediately leapt up on me and grabbed Amos.  I hung on with all my might, screaming at the top of my voice for help.  I screamed.  Amos screamed.  The dog bit and scratched and bruised us both. I screamed and screamed and screamed for help.

I hate MS.  Never more than I did that night.

The dog grabbed me by the upper arm and dragged me to the ground.  I fell hard, striking my head against the curb.  After scrambling back to my feet, I danced stumbled around trying to keep Amos wrapped in my arms.  At one point, the dog grabbed a hold of Amos' leg and pulled us both down again.  I regained my feet several times, but was back on the ground immediately.  He bit my wrist, pulling me to the ground.  At some point into the battle, two men came and started kicking the dog.  They couldn't make him stop and urged me to abandon Amos to the dog and save myself.  I could not.  I simply could not lose my dog.

The last time I got back to my feet, I knew that the next time the dog pulled me down I would not be able to stand once more.  I also knew that I would shortly no longer be able to hold onto Amos any longer.  The pit bull was about to win, because even though I wanted to still fight the MS made doing so impossible.  I was too weak.  Amos was no longer screaming, and I feared I was holding onto a dead dog.   I began waiting for the inevitable.

I do not know how it ended.  I just know that it finally did.  Amos and I on the ground, covered in blood, circled by people.  I couldn't stand anymore.  I couldn't even hold Amos.  He crawled across my lap and wouldn't even let me touch him.  He growled and snapped at everyone. 

Part of the crowd were the owners.  The woman kept telling everyone it was my fault, that I didn't know what play was and the dog was just trying to play with Amos.  The man got down and put his face just an inch or two from mine and was threatening me, telling me that I needed to say that nothing happened.  I started screaming again, begging someone to make him get away from me.  Someone finally pulled him away.

I begged anyone to get my neighbor.  She came.  I begged her to get Amos home, so worried he would bite someone and end up being taken away.  Once she left with him, I let go and fainted.

Male officers pulling at my clothing and photographing my injuries.
Male EMTs who kept telling me not to play games after I fainted and threatened to "shove a tube up your nose if you don't cooperate and stay awake."
Male nurse.
Male doctor.

I found that so difficult.  Words cannot describe my terror.  I keep trying to explain how vicious this attack was, but it seems to me that as I have done, there has been sympathy and such, but no real clear understanding.

Last night, in being interviewed and photographed again by the Animal Control officer, I was given the words:  pit bull.

Amos and I were attacked by a pit bull.

The attack was around 4-5 minutes.  Stop.  Stare at a clock for 5 minutes. As you do, imagine a pit bull trying to kill a dog in your arms and attacking you to get to the dog.  Then imagine afterward having to face a hostile, threatening member of the gender who has wounded you deeply as you cower in terror, covered with your blood and the blood of your beloved puppy.

By the mercy of God, someone reached my new pastor and he came to the hospital to pray with me.  By the mercy of God, a female technician was found who could at least serve as a chaperone.  By the mercy of God, Amos was still alive when I got home.  By the mercy of God, my old boss was awake to talk when I called her at 4:00 AM because she is a early morning bird.

My beloved puppy dog has puncture wounds, gouges, an injury to his eye, and was running a fever yesterday, which I hope is gone now.  He has black bruises all over his body.  He trembles even in his sleep.  I haven't been able to hold him or snuggle with him.  He cannot really walk about, so I have to carry him outside to do his business.  Whenever I pick him up, he squeals in pain.  I cannot figure out a way to carry him that does not hurt him.

The owners took the dog away as the police were close and have been keeping him away.  As of a few weeks ago, he still was an un-vaccinated dog ordered to compliance (there have been several calls about the dog already).  Amos is to be quarantined for 10 days until it is clear he does not have rabies.

I have deep scrapes, bites, and bruises all over my body.  I am in great pain and have trouble moving.  I have not yet slept because I cannot calm down; medication has not helped.  I am still traumatized.  I am still terrified.

Amos is alive.
I am alive.

Somewhere in all of this is a moment in time that will pass and be no more.  Then, I shall want my damn t-shirt.  A pair of them actually.  One in a tiny size.  Emblazoned across the front:  I survived a pit bull attack and all I got was this dumb t-shirt.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Handle with care...

A while ago, I mentioned that I was advised to note for others in my path: "I am a bit fragile right now and need you to be gentle with me."  Again, the irony of that struck me because when I said that myself, it was not well-received.  Primarily with the response that I didn't know what I needed.  I think that my stance came from reading Walther and how he is quite firm that those who have been crushed by the Law need not a mote more of Law, but rather heaped upon them the sweet, sweet Gospel.  I certainly, in my opinion, fit that category.

I have been thinking about what exactly being fragile means.  How do you explain it?  How do you live in such a state.  Of course, I took myself off to the dictionary.

Fragile:  easily broken, shattered, or damaged; delicate; brittle; frail

Hmm, Bettina, does that sound like your best friend?  SIGH.  The answer is yes.  This I know.  I must say, it is rather uncomfortable to be standing on the inside of a life--heart, mind, and body--that is fragile.

I wish that I could put this into words, but I am not sure that I can find a way to shape this life that I am living in such a way that it would make sense.  Nor am I sure that I am brave enough to do so.  Even so, I have been thinking about being fragile.

The advice was to ask for people to be gentle.  That, too, was a bit ironic, for I had someone insist he was always gentle when his words and actions oft truly were not.  In a way, I kept making excuses, I kept swallowing the hurt, because I thought I had to, I thought that I was supposed to do so.  Yet God has placed in my path of late a few people who have shown me exactly what being gentle means.  

One, in particular, is a new friend.  Were it in my power, I would get her and Bettina in a room together.  Besides being a moment of pure joy for me, I just know that the two of them would fit...and not just because they both seem to be born wearing kid gloves.  Both have a quirkiness I admire and both have very fine minds.  Both understand the sweet, sweet Gospel.

I would not presume to say that it is another convenant type friendship, but I will say that she has shown me that she has chosen to walk beside me.  Another wife and mother, as with Bettina, her plate is full.  But she has chosen to walk beside her struggling sister in Christ.

How do I come up with a name for her?  Since I like old-fashioned names, I have been thinking about Rosalaine, a name that reminds me of my beloved roses.  After all, the two Adams in her means that she has the capacity to offer thorns or blooms.  How amazing is it that she has chosen to offers blooms?  Sometimes it is a large bouquet fragrant with the wondrous aroma of Christ and sometimes a single bud she knows will eventually open, that I will eventually see its beauty.

Rosalaine has been both sacrificially listening and sacrificially speaking the sweet, sweet Gospel.  Moreover, she has been teaching me things that I need to learn in the most gentle of ways.  I like how her mind works--quite fascinating--but I also like that she is a writer and can fashion a fair pen.  

It is my hope that her skill with gentle words can be captured in such a way as to share this stance with others who are facing wounded people.  To give the sweet, sweet Gospel is to give them hope and healing.  But, much if the time, in order than they might best receive it, the giving needs to be gentle.  In a way, the giving itself personifies the sweet, sweet Gospel. 

The Living Word is active.  The Gospel is active.  The active form of gentle is to mollify, calm, pacify.  It is the awesome power of the sweet, sweet Gospel that can mollify, calm, and pacify our foe, can break through his wily, pernicious assaults that obscure Christ crucified in our weak and sinful hearts and minds and bodies.  The Gospel makes peace, is peace.  The Gospel heals, is healing.  The Gospel forgives, is forgiveness.

For the wounded person, a fragility can exist that calls for the hands and voice of Christ to be gentle, calls for the giving of the Good Message of the cross to be in the most gentlest of manners.  What this looks like, sounds like, feels like is as elusive to some as is the sweet, sweet Gospel to me.  

God has gifted Rosalaine with an understanding of how to be gentle in pouring the sweet, sweet Gospel over my wounds--a gentleness God has used to bring Light to my darkness and a gentleness I pray will one day be shared with both others who are weak and weary and with those in their lives who long to help the wounded brothers and sisters before them.

A trifecta of hope I have had from my Good Shepherd, even as I still struggle in body and mind and spirit.  Someone who sees beyond the wound to the person and who is helping me gather back together the shards of my life.  A covenant friendship.  A gentle giver of the sweet, sweet Gospel.  All three are willing to let me borrow their hope.  All three do not mind that I oft lose sight of my baptism.  All three are, in different ways, a beginning and an ending that is for me.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief! 

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

What lies between us...

A while ago, Bettina gave me the greatest gift of my life aside from the salvation of the Savior we both share.  In a very dark moment, with tears streaming down my face as I trembled in fear, she spoke some words that shifted my world to a new axis. I have wanted to write about it.  Actually, I have wanted to ask her to write about it for me.  Alas, I have not.  So, again, my fumbling will have to do, knowing that in doing so I will paint the poorer portrait of this gift. Oh, how I wish I had captured the moment right away!

Part of what made me think of her gift was discovering a box in the attic that took me by surprise.  It was with a conflicted heart that I looked upon the contents.  What were they, pray tell?  My hats.  I did not remember that I had them.  I did not remember that I kept them.  In the attic were two boxes that I did not pack in the move, that I had not unpacked in my last move nearly nine years ago.

For all my confusion over the wearing of hats on Easter, I actually do not eschew hats.  I used to wear them all the time.  I had forgotten about these hats.  I wonder if Bettina remembers.  Somewhere is a photo of me at my Master's graduation.  I should scan it and give you all a laugh.  There I was in a Victorian ivory dress and a straw hat with a wide brim and a scarlet bow trailing long ribbons.  About my throat was a smaller ribbon with a tiny rose in the center.  I thought I was the most beautiful graduate that day, dressed in a manner that fit not with the style of the time but with the style of my heart.

I wore hats all the time then and I wore vests.  I had nearly two dozen vests, almost all embroidered.  Over the years, I have let them all go but one.  I wore vests and long skirts and boots and hats.  That is who I was.  That is who I was when I met Bettina.  Finding the hats reminded me that I have not always been as I am now.  Before that morning when she gifted me so, I would have taken comfort in the discovery, thinking that is why she could be a friend to one like me.

That wretched morning when I called her in fear and trembling, Bettina fetched her bible and started reading to me. She started reading to me of Jonathan and David.  She started reading to me of Jonathan and David to share with me that she thought of me, of us, as covenant friends.

Between Jonathan and David was this choice, this commitment, to be friends, this choice to put another's life before one's own.  Between Jonathan and David was safety, trust, vulnerability, steadfastness, honesty, and accountability.  But not merely those words, not merely the shadow of them, but the depth, the fullness of them. 

Until she said that, I had never really put two and two together to see that this was the why of the wonder of her friendship.  Suddenly, it made sense to me.  If she sees us as covenant friends, then the struggle that has shadowed my life would merely be what passes between us as we walk this life together, rather than a final straw I feared would fall.

In this wild and wonderful way, I believed her immediately.  All the doubt and fear I had about the strain I thought my struggle was putting on our friendship was washed away in the Word she read to me.  I could believe her because this was a thing that God had done before.  What He has done He most certainly can do again!  It was not David or Jonathan who were these great people who made their friendship great.  They were flawed, wretched sinners.  It was God who made their friendship great.  Original Sin plagued them just as it plagues us.  But the Holy Spirit rests in us all, working His Word, forgiving us, healing us, restoring us to God through the blood of Christ.

A stillness swept over me then that has remained in a small corner of my mind.  Bettina sees me as her convenant friend!  That explains her utter willingness to walk beside me even when she is afraid herself, overwhelmed with hurt and frustration that she does not know what to do or say.  It explains her love.

My dear friend has worked so very hard in the past year to help me.  More and more, she has relied on the sweet, sweet Gospel, to remind me of my baptism and that which is true.  More and more, she has worked to make small things easier because there are so very many large and difficult things in my life.  More and more, she has shouted, whispered, sung, texted, emailed, chatted, and photographed her love to me.  More and more, she has remained as honest as possible with me, willing to speak even if she knows her words might hurt or distress me.  More and more, she has striven to help me feel safe, even if only in her figurative arms.  My goodness, she should get some sort of award for what she has done even, as she has worked to better serve her husband and her children in the vocations our Lord has given her.  Maybe that's why when she visited the poor woman practically spent the entire visit ensconced in the GREEN chair!

Some time ago, Bettina wrote the most beautiful blog entry about me.  I feel sort of strange linking to it.  Perhaps it is better to simply say that she wrote how being my friend is not a hard thing to do. And she wrote that I am wounded and then asked who wouldn't offer to help.  Such love is in that entry.  What I did not understand then, that I do now, is how much faith was in there, too.

What mercy our Good Shepherd has wrought in the friendship He's crafted between us!  What love!  What forgiveness!  What hope!

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Stop and think before rushing in...

I shall surely bungle this, but here goes...

I think, perhaps, one of the greatest errors in being around wounded people is those who take on the task of binding up those wounds, of healing or even "fixing" the person, as if they are in need of repair.  Few actually have that vocation.  To try and heal when that is not your calling, not your gift, can end up hurting the wounded person more.

So often, we want to do something...anything...and in the longing to be doing something great or grand or sweeping, we lose sight of that which we are called to do to our wounded brothers and sisters.  Speak the Gospel to them.

There is a woman who is not well mentally and physically.  She is not really capable of independence right now, much less caring for her children, one of whom has been hurt.  A number of folk are trying so hard to fight a process by which she is losing her home and her children.  But this quote from Jurassic Park keeps popping into my mind: "They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."  It is a movie line that has stayed with me ever since I first heard it.  How often do we rush in?  And, in so doing, how often do we miss what is important?  

In this situation, what stands out to me is that no one is trying to help the hurt child.  She is secondary.  Yet, to me, her mother clearly cannot care for her right now, and as horrible as that might be, it is best that she and her siblings live in a place where they are nurtured.  They are not adults.  They should not be caring for their mother and scrambling to keep from being evicted.

Of course, I have very mixed feelings about children I have seen who are put in positions of caring for siblings and for the household.  What is a child's vocation?  I believe it is one thing for a child to learn responsibility by caring for her room and his things and by helping with chores.  But, to me, it is altogether a different thing for a child to be responsible for the care and upkeep of a home or the well-being of a sibling while parents are otherwise engaged.  Not merely brief times, but where that care and upkeep are a large part of the child's day, the child's life.  But...that is my conflicted heart.

Here, in this situation, the hurt child needs physical and mental care that the mother cannot and has not provided.  The mother's actions have put herself, and by extension, her children in danger.  So, why is everyone so concerned about doing whatever it takes to convince the authorities to not intervene in this family?

A few years ago, there was a case of a foster child who assaulted a child in the home where he was staying.  Because he was from a troubled home and was troubled himself, the social workers and parents spent all their focus on him.  A week later, when I learned of what happened, I asked the social worker to the foster family how the assaulted child was doing.  The social worker replied, "I do not know.  I have not talked to her."  A miopic response if ever there was one.

That little girl needed help, immediate help and long-term help.  Yet all the adults in her life were focusing their energy on trying to keep her foster brother from getting into further trouble with the choice he made.  And some were professionals!  Staggers the mind. 

In truth, the professionals were so busy trying to sweep what happened under the rug, they did not stop to ask why the mother was not fighting for her daughter.  In the end, we learned the mother was abusing the foster son and didn't want him removed from the home lest his plight come to light.  In all the visits to the home, no one helped the boy and so he hurt the girl.  No excuse.  He made a terrible choice and has to face the consequences of his actions.  But he was doing what he was taught to do in a place that was supposed to be safe for him.  No one saw anything.  No one was really looking.  And when they were forced to look they still did not see clearly because of the fear of the impact the situation would have on their license.

In this recent situation, well-meaning Christian folk are so busy trying to solve the problem that they have not stopped to understand what exactly is the problem and to question if they should be trying to solve the problem in the first place.  The battle cry is to keep the family together.  But I keep wondering why no one is stopping to measure the cost of doing on on the lives of the children.

Instead of trying to solve a problem, I believe those well-meaning people should focus their energies on sharing the sweet, sweet Gospel.  That is, after all, what they are given to do.  It is not a difficult task in and of itself.  The Gospel is clearly laid out for us.  We have rich and varied language with which to speak it.  But speaking the sweet, sweet Gospel to those who are wounded does have its own challenges.  Perhaps that is why others seem so intent on fixing the person, on solving the problem, instead of working to share that which can heal, can bind up wounds, can give strength and sustenance to the wounded person  and do so in greater and more profound ways than any of our "fixing" can ever accomplish.

For the wounded person, the sweet, sweet Gospel can be painful to hear, its dissonance with her own experience reverberating against his wound and obscuring sight and hearing.  No matter.  Keep speaking.  For the wounded person, the sweet, sweet Gospel can be quite elusive to grasp.  No matter.  Keep speaking.  For the wounded person, the sweet, sweet Gospel can be rather frightening, unfamiliar and utterly foreign to that which she knows and understands.  No matter.  Keep speaking.

Dr. Yahnke teaches about the need for sacrificial listening when addressing pastoral care for those who are suicidal.  That need fits all wounded people.  I think, however, she should add the need for sacrificial speaking of the sweet, sweet Gospel and broadened this task to include the mercy Christian brothers and sisters can show the wounded.  We are called to speak the sweet, sweet Gospel to each other, to share the message of Christ crucified.  When asked how many times we should forgive someone, wondering if it should be even as many as seven times, Christ answers we should forgive them seventy times seven, a number seemingly so large as if to say there is no end to forgiving.  If someone had asked Him how many times we should speak the sweet, sweet Gospel to others, I imagine the answer would be the same.  Seventy times seven.  No matter.  Keep speaking.

Why?  Because we underestimate and oft lose sight of the awesome power of the Living Word.  This is because of the Word, which is a heavenly, holy Word, which no one can praise enough.  For it has, and is able to do, all that God is and can do. [BOC, LC, IV, 17-18]  For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. [Isaiah 55:10-11]  

It is Jesus who heals the broken hearted and bind up wounds, to free the captive and to heal the sick (Psalm 147:3; Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18; and Matthew 9:12).  It is Jesus who will bring rest to the weary, break through our fears and despair and give them true peace (Matthew 11:28 and John 14:27).  It is Jesus, not us.  It is Jesus, so speak the sweet, sweet Gospel so that the Holy Spirit can sow that Living Word into the hearer and accomplish the work He is given to do.  

We do not have to worry if our speaking is enough or will be enough.  We do not have to heal or fix or save the wounded person.  All we really have to do is trust that God will work through those whose vocations it is to bind up wounds and to heal and focus on that which we are given to do:  pray for our wounded brothers and sisters and to speak the sweet, sweet Gospel to them.

Whether the woman and her children remain together is in God's hands, as played out through those whose vocations places them in a position to be the hands and voice of Christ to the mother and her children.  It is not, in my opinion, the call of her Christian brothers and sisters to do so.  They can pray for her and with her.  They can listen to her.  They can speak the sweet, sweet Gospel to her.  They can visit her.  They can visit her children, if removed from the home.  They can speak the sweet, sweet Gospel to her children for her. And they can help her find an advocate whose vocation it is to walk her through the processes and choices she faced.  They can also serve her in body as occasion arises, such as cooking for her, driving her to an appointment, cleaning her home, washing her clothing.  Those are the things that are good and right and salutary for them to be doing.  They should not, even in the best intentions, stand as an obstacle to the processes that are designed to protect children and families.  They should not presume to know what is best medically and mentally for this woman and for her children.

I ache for the mother in her illness and depression and fear and hopelessness.  But I also ache for the daughter in the confusion and hurt she faces with a wound, that if left untended, can fester and breed shame and despair for a lifetime.  My prayer is that God, in His infinite wisdom, provides for the well-being of the mother and her children in a manner that is pleasing to Him, to His intended good of all involved, and that the Christians in her life will walk beside her and share with her the sweet, sweet Gospel that she might be comforted and healed, if not in this life, then when she is restored in glory.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Why I like Doctor Who...

1.  The Doctor ALWAYS offers forgiveness before death and destruction, no matter what the person/alien has done, if he repents and ceases the behavior.

2.  He is a fierce protector of life.

3.  He is a study in the hidden and subtle companion grief can be.

4.  His life shows how man is not meant to live alone.

5.  Awesome quotes:
    • "People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually—from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint—it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly...timey-wimey...stuff." Blink, Doctor Who
    • "The way I see it, life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant." Vincent and the Doctor, Doctor Who
    • "You are a perfect example of the inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain." Pyramids of Mars, Doctor Who
    • "You know the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering." The Face of Evil, Doctor Who
    • "One solid hope's worth a cartload of certainties." Warrior's Gate, Doctor Who

    Sunday, July 03, 2011

    Please go to bed...

    For twelve years I lived in a county where fireworks were illegal.  Until this afternoon, I failed to appreciate that haven.  I wish the good folk of Fort Wayne would take themselves off to bed!

    The fireworks began early this afternoon.  From then on, there has been this steady barrage of pops, crackles, and booms.  Booms loud enough to rattle my windows.  Booms that leave me startled in fear, trembling and shaking.  I have been trying to keep calm, but the unpredictability of my neighbor's enthusiasm for this holiday makes that quite difficult to achieve.  Especially since I am small and weak.

    Amos cares not for the celebration either.  For hours, I could not get him to venture outside.  I would drag him there, place him in the yard, and he would immediately dart back inside.  A short while ago, I finally got him to take care of business, but he did so hiding in the tall ground cover I have not yet identified.  I couldn't even see him, he crawled so deep within the greenery.  I wanted to join him.  We both will be glad when the morrow has come and gone.

    I wonder why it is that I have found fireworks to be so disconcerting.  In my mind, I tell myself that the noise is not a bomb, is not an attack, is not a sign of imminent danger.  This does not matter.  My body keeps reacting as if none of those things are true...or all of them are...whichever is the better way to describe it.

    I have read aloud from my beloved Book of Concord and the Bible.  I have watched Stargate SG1 and Doctor Who.  I have spent time on Facebook. I have listened to rather loud music.  I have played Words with Friends with my dear friend Bettina.  Nevertheless, the booms come and I jump and start and shake and tremble. 

    I have been at the mercy of my body for a long while now.  I hate that.  I hate that my body seems more intent on betraying me than serving me.  Silly, I know.  Still, I struggle with the months of nausea, roiling innards, diarrhea, vomiting, and fainting.  I struggle with the weeping and trembling and startle responses.  I struggle with the pain and fatigue.  I struggle with the weakness.  And, in the past two weeks, I struggle with the return of plummeting blood sugar.  I even struggle with the fact that my face breaks out with each new moment of great stress.  I cannot hide my turmoil from is literally written across my face.  I am weary of it all.

    Here, I sit, at the mercy of my body because of fireworks.  That seems so silly.  That seems so weak.  That seems so stupid.

    I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

    Saturday, July 02, 2011

    Be careful what you wish for...

    What is real? You stand inside a thing, taste it, touch it, experience it. You hold to it despite denials of its existence in this world. Was it real? Did it happen? Finally a denial denied. The thing becomes more real than you imagined it could be. Was it real before or now? Or both? What is real?

    My whole life I have waited to hear something that I thought would be good, that I thought would make things better.  It was a moment I dreamed of, a thousand different ways, really.  But when it came it did not feel good, did not seem good at all.

    An extreme example would be a Holocaust survivor living amongst those who deny the Holocaust.  As wild a thought as that is for those who lived in those countries where humans were treated like trash, it is still easier to believe than the fact that humans can be so evil, so cruel, so heartless toward one another.  That we can be so egregious in our perfidy against our brothers and sisters who live and walk beside us on this earth so that over six million would end up dead in a very, very short period simply because one man declared them to be worthless.  The reality of the Holocaust is unfathomable.  Yet it happened.  We have a generation of mass murderers.  Those who did the killing.  And those who did nothing to stop it...those who looked the other way, who went on with their lives despite the evil being committed all around them, those near and far who knew and yet who pretended that nothing was happening.

    You would think that finally having someone admit the horror was real would be a good thing.  Only in hearing that admission, it is as if the horror is more real, more present.  It is not the moment one thought it would be.  

    Yes, this thing happened to you.  Yes, we pretended it did not.  But it did.  The touch. The smell.  The fear.  The shame.  The terror.  It is all real.

    We humans are good at pretending.  We are good at glossing over the evil we commit against each other.  We are good at rewriting history to soften our sin, to assuage what consciences we might have that burden us.  It is easier to pretend.  In many ways, for both the perpetrator and the victim, it is easier to pretend.

    But if you are the one who carries this burden, who has this wound deep within, to have it wrapped in silence deepens the pain, enlarges the wound.  Even if you are also the one pretending.  To stand in the face of silence, it is hard not to doubt, not to think perhaps it was not so.  Perhaps....

    I thought hearing the admission of what happened, finally, in a small way from one person, would be this moment of victory for me.  But it was not.  I am weak.  And I am small.  That confirmation was not what I thought it would be.  It made the experience more real, more terrifying, more shameful.  Be careful what you ask for.

    What is real?  This thing.  This terrible thing is real.  What is also real is that I am baptized.  I am washed clean in the waters of holy Baptism.  I am forgiven then, today, and always.  Both are real.  I need help remembering that.

    Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

    Friday, July 01, 2011

    Too much...

    The yard has been an utterly amazing discovery.  Humbling in a very real sense, for I mourned the loss of my rose bushes when I sold my home.  The stone crop, too.  I had those plants with me since Minnesota, having finally put them in the ground in my first home.  But in many ways that was a house not a home.

    The jury is out, still, if this will be a home.  However, it is a place that has become an absolute refuge to me.  All about me is beauty.  [Especially now that those wretched blue walls are covered.]  All about me is a home I have dreamed about since I was a little girl.  And I step outdoors and cannot help but be reminded that my Good Shepherd loves me.  The ferns alone declares this to be so.  But, to date, I have identified: three varieties each of lilies and tulips, crocus, two each of daffodils, yarrow, columbine, bleeding heart, rhododendron, forsythia, five varieties of roses, lilac, lavender, hyacinth, hydrangea, hostas, ferns, moss, alum, an ornamental pear tree, an ornamental magnolia tree, a red bud tree, two evergreen trees, grape vine, honeysuckle, holly bush, two evergreen bushes, verbena, two more unidentified flowering bushes, four more unidentified flowers.

    The day I arrived at this house, I walked about the yard, completely oblivious of the wonder I would behold in the months to come.

    I dare say I have joined the Lutheran Confession completely oblivious of the wonder I would behold...though...the elusiveness of the sweet, sweet Gospel for me has been a trial of its own.

    One of the beds in the yard, the one directly across from the back steps, was an herb garden.  Long neglected, it was full of spearmint that was also growing into the yard.  One day, after torrential rains, I dug up the spearmint, gave some away, and threw out the rest.  It is exceedingly invasive.  The empty bed has bothered me ever since.

    The hostas came up in this tiny narrow strip of a flower bed along the side of the house.  They were crowded and constantly being sat upon by my puppy dog.  Yesterday, I took my frustration over my innards out upon the soil and dug up those hostas, with the aim of filling up the empty bed.  I have no funds for the yard, but I could dig, separate, and replant.

    I ended up setting the hostas into 17 new locations, as well as dividing the lavender bush into five sections, moving a dozen ferns (three that were growing in sidewalk cracks), and spreading the six bags of mulch I bought.  In part, this meant addressing the side of the house I never see, but knew was there...a lonely, empty bed full of weeds.  I removed the weeds, double dug the bed, and planted three of the lavender sections and set eight of the hostas there.  Now, the side of the house I do not see is as beautiful as the rest of the yard.  Now, the back bed I stare at as I await Amos as he tends to his business is not longer this problem waiting to be addressed.  Now, the ferns that were languishing beneath the wretched (no longer there) trumpet vine have been re-set, fertilized, and mulched.

    Actually, the labor lasted but four hours.  However, I was stumbling about the last hour and was barely standing once I finished.  I also was already hurting so much I downed copious amounts of ibuprophen the moment I came back inside.  It was too much work for me, even though, in doing it, the yard is essentially done.  All the overgrown, long neglected items have been addressed ( more bush needs pruning, but since I can live with it being a tad overgrown, I am waiting until next spring).  I have closure on one more thing in my life.  One more thing has been wrestled and tamed.  I am the one in control and in achieving that control I can sit back and savor this gift of my Good Shepherd.

    Still, it was too much work.  Some how, some way, I should have garnered help.  Only, well, that is not really an option with my friends, new and old, who all live out of town.  The two I have made here are not really ones who would roll up their sleeves and get dirty with me.  Besides, I would never ask.  Ever.  I would not even, truly, hope.  I would--and do--simply tend to my own problems. [Now, if Bettina were here, I would hint profusely!]

    So much of what I have done is almost like readying the house to sell again.  You would be impressed, I believe, in the difference between the day I walked into this place and how it is today (except for the vacuum cleaner that has been sitting on the living room floor for a week).  I have spent entire weeks on the couch.  I have spewed more food in the past six months than in the past six years, the past twenty.  I have barely been able to walk.  I have been curled up in a ball in grief.  But, in between those moments, I have cleaned, scraped, sanded, painted, organized, pruned, raked, transplanted, and worked to reveal the potential of this absolutely beautiful home.

    It has been too much.  Too much work and too much joy.  Strange, eh?

    I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!