Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Please Have Mercy

I hope you miss me.

But please be patient. You have no idea what life is like right now.

In 5 short weeks, somehow I've managed to schedule the following:

- 3 Weddings (1 out-of-town)
- 3 Wedding rehearsals
- 8 Dresses to be finished (6 of them bridesmaid dresses, with all but one having 27 pieces each)
- 2 Wedding Showers (1 hosted by me)
- 1 Day-trip to a conference (can't wait!)
- Time to practice wedding music (when?)
- Typical bridesmaid duties (honors, really!)
- 1 Vet appointment
- 1 Chiropractor appointment
- Shopping for wedding showers
- Hopefully helping 1 friend move
- ....And normal life duties, like running two home businesses, taking care of my puppy, doing the dishes, going to church, and trying to find time to work on my book manuscript.

I'm thankful to be involved in each of these things (except maybe the dishes. :) - especially the weddings. So exciting! But my time is VERY tight right now, and when I do get free time, I spend it on other things....requiring less thought than blogging.

But I thought I should pop in and let you know what's going on.

What's happening in your life right now? I know y'all are a bunch of busy, hard-working ladies! I'd love to hear about your adventures and projects!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Cool Thing

When was the last time you took a good look at someone close to you? A parent, for instance? Have you ever stepped back and saw your mother or father as another human, rather than your mother or father?

As I've entered into my adult years, those moments are occurring more often. I'm realizing that, just like me, Mom and Daddy are having new experiences all the time. They didn't get a practice run, to hone their skills, then decide to hit rewind and do life again - this time with kids. It doesn't work like that.

More than that - my parents are people. When was the last time I tried to get to know them as people, the way I'd try to get to know a new friend?

I thought of this tonight as I watched Mom play badminton with one of my sisters. I stood on the deck, head tilted to one side. With my eyes squinted, I could imagine I saw in the gathering dusk, not a mother, but a young girl, playing on a side lawn in New York, years ago.

From what I understand, Mom could hold her own quite nicely with the neighborhood boys in most any sport, be it softball, kickball, or ping-pong. She was quite the tomboy back then. And musical, too - spending hours practicing clarinet or guitar. Now she never plays anything - just listens to us, and encourages us to practice.

I never stopped to think, until the last few years, about mothers having hobbies. After all, is that allowed? They cook, and raise children, and play taxi, and counsel daughters and sons, and make appointments, and help their husbands, and clean the house, and organize the schedule,....and a million other things that we couldn't do without. ...But do you mean mothers actually have playful little quirks, and likes and dislikes, and hobbies and inside jokes, and secret dreams and desires....just like me?

You mean she's just like any other woman....like me, in fact? She may be super, but she's not a super woman, immune to the little details that make up a real person?

Does it sound odd that such a fact has dawned on me slowly, over the last several years? But it has.

And you know what?

I like it.

It's like when you read a book by an amateur, and it's okay, but the characters are flat, 2-dimensional, predictable things. They all sound the same...you know what they're going to do before they do it...they sound like bad actors, reading a script with too much emphasis in the wrong parts....They are people because they have a head and two legs, but deep inside you know they aren't people.

Then you open the covers of a really good book, written by a master storyteller; and the characters jump off the page to walk and breathe in the room around you while you listen and watch, spellbound. You know, deep inside, that these....these, my friend, are people.

And I've finally woken up to the fact that my parents are people. Wonderful, living, emotional, history-filled, genuine people. They were children. They were young adults. They met and fell in love. They had to learn how to be a husband and wife to each other.

And God actually gave them babies! He sent one after another....and my parents had to learn how to change diapers and wipe baby food off chubby cheeks. They had to stumble through groggy days because of short, noisy nights. Then they learned how to teach, and how to counsel, and comfort, and lead. All the while that I was growing up....so were they.

God gave me to these two people. He could have picked anybody....but He picked them.

It's the coolest thing.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Meet the Distraction:

It's time for me to confess a major reason for my late absence on this blog. 

A small object has been consuming a great deal of my thought and time. I haven't really visited y'all at all since obtaining this small thing. 

I don't apologize. I mean....I do....but I don't. It was worth it. I think you'll understand what I mean:  

Now, look at that little face, those tiny paws, and tell me it doesn't melt your heart. :) 

My older sister, Heather, rescued a stray puppy shortly after marrying Eugene two and a half years ago. Dogs grow fast, and back in January, this puppy was no longer a puppy, and was attracting attention from not one but two neighborhood gentlemen. Ahem. :) The same week Heather gave birth to my adorable nephew, Daisy the dog got pregnant by two dogs. (Yes, that CAN happen!) Several weeks later, she gave birth to TWELVE puppies. 

I've wanted a dog of my own for years. At first it was just a little girl saying "I want a puppy, Daddy!" Then I grew older, understood the responsibility (I thought), and recognized it was not the right timing for me to have a dog. I could almost feel God saying "wait." In November 2011, I felt the Lord saying it was okay for me to start thinking about it again, and I spent a lot of time wondering if it would ever be possible for me to have a dog. I've long studied dog-training as a hobby, and I longed to put my research into practical use. Plus, I wanted a companion. I love my family to death, but sometimes it's a bit lonely being the only older girl in the household.

Slight problem. Dad's always had a rule; one dog at a time, and only family dogs allowed. How could my dreams work? Time for prayer. I told God what I desired, but I also understood that my dreams weren't worth dishonoring my dad or disrupting peace in the family. At least, I thought that's how my attitude would be. But I guess I didn't know my own heart. The Lord had to do some open-heart-surgery before things were right between Him and me. Then I went to prayer again.    

Well, through a small set of miracles (are miracles ever small?) both of my parents had a change of heart, and the very week Heather's puppies were old enough to leave their mother, I celebrated my birthday with what might possibly be the best present EVER:  

May 14th, the evening of my birthday. Thanks, Heather!!!! 

 The puppies' mother, Daisy, was a pitbull-terrier mut, and at least half of them 
were sired by what appeared to be a full-bred lab. Not sure what the father of the other ones was!

It wasn't love at first sight. Too many choices - I loved them all!! At first I wasn't sure I'd selected the right puppy. There were two I had narrowed it down to - the two most submissive puppies - and in the end I went with this little fuzzy-headed girl. I noticed she was always the last one out of the dog house, and always stood back respectfully and waited for everyone else to finish before she went for the bowl at feeding time. She was very hyper, but caught onto things quick, and was smarter than some of her siblings. She allowed me to turn her belly-up, like a mother dog would when disciplining her puppies, and she loved to be around humans.

I picked her name even before I brought her home. That took awhile, deciding on a name. It had to be perfect. I knew I wanted a Hebrew word - I just love the sound of Hebrew. And I wanted something reflective of the lessons God was teaching me about my life. My sister Tiffany helped me go through the Hebrew section of the concordance, looking for words like "joy," "peace," "laughter," "gentle,"...and then we came to "friend, or companion."

"How do you say this word?" Tiffany asked.
"Let me see....'Reya.' Like 'ray-a.' What does it mean, again?"
"Friend or companion."
I thought for a minute. "That's it. We've found it. That's perfect. I love it!"

So Reya it was.

It took only two days for me to be overwhelmed by the thought of all that I was responsible for. I had committed to take care of this adorable creature for 12-14 YEARS! And she wasn't perfect. She was scared to go through doors and up or down steps, and had to go to the bathroom 4 times a night, and she thought 5:15am was the perfect time to start the day. And she wouldn't walk on a leash. And she had worms. And vets don't work for free.

But you know what? I loved Reya. Every time I looked at her, my heart swelled with the knowledge that she was mine. Mine alone. She depended on me for everything. Not only did I have to feed her, but teach her how to behave - even when to use the bathroom or sleep. Every time she chose to come lay down beside me and sleep on my feet, my pleasure knew no bounds. I knew she wasn't perfect. I knew she smelled like a dog. I knew she would misbehave before the day was over. But she was mine, and she knew it.

I don't smell the doggie breath. I don't mind that she misbehaves occasionally - though every time I must correct her, it breaks my heart. She can be terribly hyper, and that drives me crazy. I know her flaws, but I also see what I will make her. When I say her name, I know it is my name - the name I chose for her, and put upon her. Her behavior is shaped by my desires - I choose what is acceptable, and what is wrong for her. Her disobedience grieves me deeply, but it does not shock me - I expect it. She is a dog. I knew she would be that way. But I am changing her, ever so slowly. She is not just a dog; she is my dog.

Every little way she shows affection for me brings me more joy than I can describe. She has a little habit of coming close to me and laying her chin on my knee when she is unsure of something. I know her timid personality would naturally tell her to run far away, rather than go to a human for reassurance, but she comes to me, and stays still beside me, rather than running. That means the world to me. When I have a big sewing project, I'll often block off the kitchen doorway, and keep her in there with me while I sew at the kitchen table. I put her dog bed in one corner, and she usually takes a nap there, but never a sewing session goes by when she doesn't leave her bed eventually and come sleep at my feet instead. I want to sit there and cry all over my fabric.

 Remember all that prayer I put into asking for a dog, and seeking God's face in the matter? Part of that prayer was asking God to make me a good dog owner, and asking Him to teach me about Himself through my dog. I asked Him to reveal Himself in a whole new way.

He has. I can't begin to describe it.

I've often struggled with believing the kind of love God has for me. My personality is driven by a desire to people-please, and be perfect. That used to mean doing a lot of camouflaging, so my filth couldn't be seen. I even applied it to my relationship with my Savior. I knew I wasn't saved through works...but I thought I could be loved because of works. To be loved by Someone who has a full knowledge of my flaws and sin.....that wasn't logical to me.

Now it is. Now I understand. O, how great a Saviour I have! O, how He loves me!

Because I'm His. Because He knows my flaws, and chooses not to see them. He sees what He will make me - and what I am in Him, already. He sees His name upon me. 

God showed this to me exactly two years ago, this month. He delivered me from 9 miserable, striving, never-good-enough-to-please-myself, depressing years, in July of 2010.

I thought then I understood.

Then I met Reya. And I didn't just understand.

All of the sudden....

I knew.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Eyes of Faith

Today I've been pondering the blessed assurance that I will not remain as I am forever.

Sometimes I fear change - most of the time, in fact - but I almost always have wanted myself to change. I want to be better, more loving, less selfish, more Christlike. I long to be less bothered by worry and stress. I want to be carefree, joyful, overflowing with life and love! I can see the picture in my mind's eye, but compared to my actual self.....well, the comparison is discouraging.

This week I have struggled with worry, and hated the fact, even while I was doing it. I realize I should be joyful that I am struggling - struggling means life. If I were to lay down and accept these feelings, now that would prove that I am dead, without the Spirit of life. But to fight - that proves who I am, and Whose I am.

So, truthfully, I'm glad I'm struggling, but I'm also tired. Why can't I be different? Why can't I be joyful all the time? Why must I be so depressing? Why can't I be one of those people who sails through life, rarely thinking deeply about it all, happily skimming the surface, as it were?

These were my thoughts yesterday and this morning. I felt doomed by the personality that I have. I sighed and wished I didn't have to keep myself company for an entire lifetime.

Then came that blessed reminder: God saved me to change me! He promised an abundant life. He commands joy - and He equips when He commands. He is not done with me yet.

I've been amazed, over the last year, to see how my own younger siblings are blooming and blossoming into such wonderful young people. The faults and flaws that were so (blush) annoying to me when they were little have, in many cases, been smoothed and softened by the lessons the Lord has been teaching them. I could almost feel Him nudging me; "See? Don't judge them until I'm done with My work - and I'm not done even yet!"

Today I felt that reminder applied to myself - or rather, I felt myself included in His work; "I'm not done with you yet, child! Do you honest think I would permit My own child to remain in such a sorry state her whole life? The idea! Give it time - I'm working out the flaws in your character, and the more you trust Me, the quicker the work will go. I promised to finish every work I begin, and, child, I started a work in you!"

Praise the Lord!