Sunday, September 29, 2013

Five Minute Friday: True

I actually have a real computer and keyboard this week, and I miss Five Minute Friday!  The email showed up on Thursday, and while I read it, I somehow missed that it was the FMF post... my brain is gone!  Ah well, better late than never...

True

Wuv, true wuv...

Yes, I hear true, I think Princess Bride quote.  I'm such a geek.

True love.  The kind of love that doesn't get posted all over Facebook about just how awesome your husband is, how your heart goes pitter patter when he comes in the door, how you're so madly in love with him... Because while your love may be real, it's not always going to look like that.  

Some days, true love is going to be wiping a child's runny nose because your wife has already done it 50 times that day.  Some days, true love is going to be leaving the coffee maker set up so all she has to do is touch a button rather than have to deal with scooping grounds in a half-asleep fog.  

Some days, true love is five loads of laundry at the laundrymat.  Some days, true love is a roast in the oven.  Some days, true love is eating dinner even when it's burned.  

Some days, true love is keeping your mouth shut.  

It's not always about flowers and chocolate.  It's not about the romantic mood and dinner by candlelight and steak with wine.  It's about thanking God for His blessings and then picking the sippie cup off the floor and reminding your toddler not to throw food in the floor and getting sweet potato out of the baby's hair and then, somewhere, in the midst of all that, finding out what happened in your spouse's day.  

They don't make coloring books showing this side of love.  They make coloring books full of beautiful flowing evening gowns, updo's, and dancing, with a fair amount of candlelight dinners and passionate kisses thrown in the mix.  I guess the nose wiping, coffee making, knee-deep in toddlerhood love isn't very coloring book worthy.  

True.  Real.  Changing diapers true love.  Warming the milk when I really think you should learn to drink it cold true love.  Reading the same book for the 10th time today true love.  

When you think about what true love is, when you remember that true love isn't all rosy cheeks and staring into the eyes of your spouse or child, it frees you to admit that it's hard.  It's not natural.  The initial fluttery feeling may be natural, but the day to day real life living... that's hard.  It's easy to love when the house is clean and everyone's well behaved and the dishes are done and a beautiful dinner's on the table with candles.  When life doesn't look like that... well, thank God for other women who are willing to admit the truth that you don't have to have it all together to have true love!

Stop

Written as part of community of bloggers who gather at Lisa Jo's blog, usually on Fridays although it's okay if you're late, to write without being hindered by perfection.  Simple rules, write for five minutes, give or take, about a word, post your link, and then visit your link neighbor's blog to leave some encouragement.  Come join us next week!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five Minute Friday: She

She.  Safe. Healthy. Empowered.

That's what the book said.

She. Stressed. Harried.  Exhausted.

That's the reality.

She.  The very word brings to mind so many roles, so many places and relationships in which she is supposed to be.  Mother. Daughter. Wife. Friend.  So many areas to fail.

The dishes aren't done, the dirty laundry is piled and the clean hasn't been put away, supper made the smoke alarm go off. The children have snot down to their chin and one has crayon fragments in her diaper while the other attacks the door like a tiger trying to get out of the cage she's been locked in all week. Out of touch with friends, not doing a good job at making new ones. Family in shambles.  Spouse neglected and misunderstood.

She.

She wonders if it's like this for everyone.  If it's just her that's messed up this badly.  If things will ever change.

The brown and desolate miles surrounding bear down into her very soul.  And she weeps.  She gives in and allows the gloom to spill forth, finally acknowledging that she's not okay. She's not as strong as she needs to be.  She's not at home here, and she despairs of ever really finding home.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.  
He leads me beside still waters. 
He restores my soul.  

She. Secure.  Held.  Embraced.  In the love of her Father.

STOP

Written as part of a community of bloggers who gather on Fridays to write from a prompt word, without obsessing over perfection. Come be encouraged!  Lisa Jo's blog.

Still on my kindle... hence my absence the last two weeks.  Within a month... keyboard! I hope!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Introvert's Dilemma: Facebook Friends vs Real Friends

Friends.  How do you make them? Do they just happen, or does it take effort?

Do you ever feel you've forgotten how to make friends?  

In this age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and numerous other social media sites, we're constantly connected.  We find out what people say they're thinking, what they want us to know they're doing, what current events they have opinions on. And we share the same.  

It's perfect for the introvert.  Controlled interaction.  Lots of information that lets us feel involved, but with the ability to turn it off at any time.  Someone irritates us? Block their feed.  Someone posts non-stop?  Change their status to"only important posts" so we see if they take a trip or have a baby, but we don't have to see what they ate for dinner. 

There's no hanging out.  No smalltalk. No beating up on your kids or dripping spaghetti sauce on your tablecloth. 

But can you really make friends this way?  Can you make friends without it? 

Having just moved to a place where I knew no one, I find myself thinking a lot about friendships.  At what point do they move from acquaintance to friend?  I'm Facebook "friends" with one person from this area.  The rest I only interact with face to face.  And I find that challenging.  Because, as an introvert, I hate small talk.  I don't understand hanging out.  I don't shop in a pack, can no longer spend hours on the phone, and don't enjoy parties.  

I've spent time evaluating my ability to develop friendships, and there's really only one time I made friends.  In school, I had lots of acquaintances but really only one friend that lasted.  But it was at my first college that I truly made friends.  Why?  The intensity of campus life.  Tiny campus, we all took the same classes, so we all had the same exams and papers.  Common stressors.  We were in a jello mold; we ate together, lived together, went to church together.  We had common things to talk about, and common struggles, and we opened up to one another and helped each other along.  It was beautiful, and ugly.  It was community.

In my other colleges, life was much different. They were bigger, and I'd lost the illusion of being in one place for four years.  So I put no effort in. At two colleges, I put in anti-effort; I was there for a degree, I wanted top grades, and I didn't want relationships to get in the way.  I'd been burned, I'd been told friendships were part of why I was failing, so I eliminated them. 

So what now? I've lived in three locations, and haven't truly built community anywhere.  I'd just started when we left our home of three years.  And now, in our fourth home, I find myself at a loss as to how to even start.  There's no safe place.  Little common ground.  And there's the added dynamic of children; my kids get shoved around.  So in order to keep them from being traumatized, I find myself spending "social time" ensuring my kids aren't getting walked on, literally and figuratively. 

How do you make friends when you're broke and only have two chairs, one of which holds a booster seat?  How do you develop relationships when most of what you know of someone is what's in their grocery cart is nothing like what's in yours?  Can you become friends despite differences in discipline, in beliefs, in practices?  

It's so much easier on Facebook and birth boards than in real life...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Forever

I walked into the concrete building with a leash wrapped around each hand.  A couple was at the office window so I waited my turn.  I noticed the poster on the wall, titled "Forever."  I scanned it and agreed with most of it.  Until one bullet point.  "Not just until you move."

That sent me over the edge.  I'd been crying off and on all morning, but I'd composed myself for the short drive.  But there, in the hallway, I lost any composure I'd had.  And when the couple left and the lady asked how she could help me, and I opened my mouth, all that came out was a sob.  And she said, "I'm guessing we're here for a surrender."  And all I could do was nod.

You see, I was at the Alger County Animal Shelter in Munising Michigan, with our two beagles, Fritz and Kraut.  And the next morning, the Mechanic and the girls and I were leaving for Montana.  And we had nowhere to go when we got there.  I'd called every landlord in town and in the neighboring towns trying to find a place to rent that would allow dogs, with no luck.  I'd communicated with humane societies and rescue agencies trying to locate a foster home until we could buy or find a pet friendly landlord, with no luck.  We'd had family members in Michigan ask around about foster homes with no luck.  I'd explored every option I could think of for the previous month and nothing had worked.  We were down to the wire, and there just weren't any options left.

I'd looked up the shelter online and found they were essentially a no-kill shelter.  And as I sat in the office the lady explained that there weren't any other dogs in the shelter and that they'd find good homes for them.  They would be fed better food than they even got at home.  The young man assured me as I said goodbye that he'd take good care of them, walk them and such.  I knew they were in good hands.  I knew they were better off than they'd ever be in a Tennessee shelter, what with the overcrowding and difficulty in placing hounds.

But it didn't make it any easier.  Even now, I'm typing through tears, and that's hard to do on a kindle.

I was told I could come back to see them before we left the next morning, but it was too much.  I couldn't stand to see them behind bars again.  I'd gotten them out from behind bars, and it was killing me to leave them there again.  I even sent the Mechanic down with their crates because I couldn't stand to see them locked up.

As we drove out of town the next morning, I made sure to not look towards the shelter..  But the next day, somewhere in the middle of North Dakota, I got a call.  It was a man, who with his wife had just adopted Kraut.  I tried not to tear up since I was driving, but it was such a relief.  Yet, there was something bittersweet too... he said Kraut was following his wife from room to room, and it was a little hard to accept that someone else was going to be getting his affection.  Today, nearly three weeks from when I left them, I talked to Fritz's new family.  I'd worried about him, that he was still in the shelter, and so I was relieved to hear he'd been chosen by a family.  The same bittersweet feeling... someone else will be greeted by that wagging tail and his "I'm so glad you're home now feed me please" look.

Sometimes, forever is cut short.  Sometimes, despite everything you try, a move does mean the end.  I hope that a future shelter or wherever we get our next dog, when we own a home, can understand that.  I hope that they can understand, sometimes, forever means forever in my heart.