Today’s the Day

honeymay 2010

Honey in May 2010. Still in her prime!

August 8, 2016

Today was the day I decided it must be done. She was getting no better and her struggle to move about was breaking my heart.

She was 11, and I guess for big dogs (80 pound) that’s pretty old.
Honey had developed severe hip dysplasia (which is also common for her breed) about three years ago. As she overcompensated for her hips, she blew out the nerves and muscles in her front two legs, making any kind of hip surgery/recovery impossible.
She had some other stuff going on with her liver and kidneys that gave her problems as well.

This last month her left hip finally dislocated and there was nothing they could do for it. She was in terrible pain – I saw it every time she moved, even with the pain meds that I was giving her. She could only get up unaided about 40% of the time, the rest of the time she would give up, but I would come behind her and lift her hind end up for her. And even then, walking was a terrible struggle for her.

It was a terribly difficult decision for me to make, especially when I would see her excitement and spirit shine through. But I had been telling myself for three years (after seeing her hip x-rays) that once her hip comes out of its socket, I would spare her the pain and agony going forward.

I went through this once before with my 17-year-old Ollie, and I thought I was prepared. But this time is so much harder. I guess because Honey depended fully on me and I kind of depended on her. She and I were attached pretty tightly.

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How Will I know It’s Time?

Honey May 2014I wrote this in my journal on August 4, 2016.

I look at Honey and see her struggle to get up off the floor. To even walk and pee and poop. I see the pain she feels. I almost feel it too.

And then I have to ask myself, “is it time?” Is tomorrow the day I take her to the vet and have her guided into eternal sleep? How does one even make that decision if it’s not a quick onset instantaneous health tragedy? She can still walk – though limited. She can still eat. She still enjoys her daily walk in the neighborhood – though she now has to stop about 8 times along the way for 3 to 5 minutes each stop. Yes, our walks take a long time now.

So how does one decide when it is right?  When I make that decision for her, my life will be over as well. I can’t even describe the bond. She is my everything. She depends on me like no one else does. She loves me unconditionally like no one else does. And I love her to the core.

Lives Matter

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I just created this graphic after scrolling through the insanity on Facebook. I am still a bit perplexed that so many humans can’t see past their own noses to get a glimpse at the cruel injustices in our world. So this is all I have to say on the matter today.

I saw a comment, made by a man I don’t know, on this meme today that kind of argued its point. And it stunned me that he didn’t get the point at all! So here is my thought process.

I hoped the picture explained itself. The picture on the right is of Hitler and his staff. The group on the left, the Jews in a Nazi camp, is obviously discriminated against, to the point of death even. And the group on the right, the very ones that can and should help them, choose instead to make the “Jewish lives matter” argument about themselves instead. Completely missing the point that the group on the left is crying out in desperation for equality (and in this case, their lives).

When blacks cry out that “black lives matter,” they are not arguing that their lives matter more than whites. Or that their lives matter to the exclusion of whites. They are simply crying out for equal ground in humanity. A fair playing field.

I can only realize the surface of the problem, because I am not black and have not lived in the black community or inside black skin. So I have no doubt it is far worse than what I see with my own eyes. But I can see enough prejudice from my perspective that allows me to make logical conclusions and thus believe the horror stories the black community is sharing.

So when I see or hear “all lives matter,” I receive that statement in love and do my best not to make that statement about me or my white race or any other race for which it was not intended. I simply offer what compassion I can, listen to the heart of the person and group whose cry it represents, and respond accordingly.

Dream 1 – Donald Trump Stole My Lyrics!

6070701148_7629d06372_zMy dreams were plenty last night, but other than fragments of memory, I only remember the entirety of one. So here it is.

I was singing a solo. I don’t know for whom. But I practiced it flawlessly and was ready to perform. I had the lyrics written on little pieces of paper. I don’t know why they weren’t on just one sheet of paper. But they were on a handful of cut-up pieces of paper.

The venue I’m not sure of. But I wasn’t singing on stage. It was more like through a window at the back of the stage. And I think the stage was full of people. So nobody in the audience would actually see that it was I doing the solo. They would only hear me.
Then for some reason Donald Trump showed up back stage just minutes before the performance and caused quite a stir. Not a celebrity kind of stir. More like him trying to demand attention from all of us but not really getting it from all. He stomped around like a 12-year-old boy who’s been ignored by his mom.

So now it’s time to perform. The music starts. I set my lyric notes (the 8 or so pieces of small paper) on the window sill through which I’ll be singing. Suddenly Trump shifts the stage. I can’t explain what that means except that there was a little movement and while my body was still in the same spot, the window sill and my notes were now about three feet in front of me with a new wall and new window between us. The music was playing and though the intro was long, I knew I would need to be singing in about 15 seconds.

I felt the panic. I could not find my notes with the lyrics. I begged the few people standing by me to help me find them. The person to my left just handed me random notes that had nothing to do with my music.

My intro came and went. I did not sing. I was frustrated and so annoyed with Donald Trump. He had ruined my opportunity to show the world how well I could sing this song. Thanks, Donald Trump! You totally ruined my moment!
And then I had this thought – perhaps I should have memorized the words!

My interpretation
Most of my work is basically ghostwriting, since my name never accompanies my articles. So that could explain why I was singing from behind stage where nobody could see or know it was me but they could hear (see) my words.

Though I knew that I could sing the song beautifully, I still didn’t put my all in it by memorizing the words and being completely prepared when time came, which translates like this: Though I know I write very good pieces, I sometimes wait until the last minute to do all the work, which leaves me a bit frantic at times and worried about making deadlines and getting the work turned in and completed to the best of my ability.

My takeaway
Put the work in early (memorize the words); and when the deadline arrives (time to sing), I’ll be thoroughly prepared and my client will receive what they paid for and the audience will receive what they’ve come to hear (read).

Easy enough, right? We’ll see …

“Accepting Christ”

Excellent article about original sin. Can’t wait for the entire Christian world to realize that they are already loved, made in the image of God, and aren’t pathetic, wretched, sinners like we’ve been taught all our lives from the pulpit. This guy tells why that understanding just can’t be correct. Thanks, Jim!

“Accepting Christ”.

“Home” Sign

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I found a cute print at Hobby Lobby last year; and at just $5, I bought it and stowed it away in the garage with the intention of framing it one day. That day finally came!

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The $5 Hobby Lobby print and the scrap piece of plywood leftover from my closet project.

Actually, I was looking through my leftover wood scrap and found a piece of plywood; I instantly thought about mounting the print to it. The plywood was about 12 or so inches longer than the print, but I decided instead of cutting it down, I’d use the extra space to add my own letters.

So at my next Lowe’s trip, I found a pint of teal blue paint in the paint section on their accident/return shelf for $2.50. I knew it would be the perfect color for this project. I painted the plywood blue. It took four coats to get the depth of color I wanted.11347644_10206879729301349_722278125_o

Next, I took some black paint out of my garage (also bought on the accident/return shelf at Lowe’s for about $1 two years ago). I dipped just the tip of a brush in it, wiped off as much as I could to get a dry brush, and brushed it sparingly over the plywood.

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I had to use tape to hold the rope on while the glue dried.

Once the paint was dry, I glued some rope to the outside perimeter of the plywood. I spent nearly an hour looking for the stupid hot glue gun I haven’t used in 10 years and never found it. So I went old school and used Elmer’s glue! I used some packaging tape to help secure the rope while the glue dried. I let it set all day (not an option, as Elmer’s glue is super slow to dry!) and picked back up the next day.

Next, I painted a 10-fot piece of half-round trim I purchased at Lowe’s for this project using my black paint (two coats). After it dried, I cut the 10-foot section into four sections with the miter saw. I attached the half-round to the plywood with my nail gun (whoops, forgot to take pics of this step!).

I made a trip to Michael’s to get some wood letters. Most of their letters were really thick, and I didn’t like the bukiness of them. Then I found these very thin letters on the other side of the store on sale for about 35 cents each. Only problem is they were out of the “O”! And none of the other stores had an “O” either. Since I didn’t want to settle and use any other letters, I decided to make an “O” using an alternative medium. Since I had some leftover rope (I bought a 100-foot package from Lowe’s for $6.99), I decided to make the “O” using that. I think it works!

Last thing there was to do was add a picture hanger on the back. A pack of four cost about $1.50 at Lowe’s.

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Final Project. Total cost $19, but with 85 feet of rope, 3 picture hangers, and two partially used pints of teal and black paint to use for future projects.

Final Project. Total cost $19, but with 85 feet of rope, 3 picture hangers, and two partially used pints of teal and black paint to use for future projects.

Hallelujah – the music that moves my spirit

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I’m listening to Leonard Cohen’s hallelujah in my headphones as I work late into the night against a quickly approaching deadline to finish a client project. The beauty of it paralyzes me until I can do nothing but listen.

I remember a time, not so long ago, in which I read where a Christian musician changed the words of the entire song to more accurately reflect what she thought a true Christian song should say lyrically. At the time I was a bit caught up in the “us/them” phenomenon that has penetrated much of the western church today (i.e., we’ve got it figured out and everybody else is doing it wrong), and I agreed that her version was indeed more reflective of what Christianity means and what the Bible actually says.

I always loved that song, however, despite any conflict I had with the lyrics. It just made my heart dissolve and had that wonderful capacity to remove me from my thoughts and worries. It gave me this inner peace that music often does. How it connects us to our inner voice, lifts our spirits and brings us back into balance. It’s that unexplainable feeling that conjures up spirit – that breath of life that reminds us of our oneness with our Creator and that all is well.

“Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.” — Martin Luther

Tonight as the song came on again and I enjoyed it through my hifi headphones, I felt ever so sure that music, which helps reconnect us to our essence – to our inner and divine nature, can only be from our loving Creator. I doubt any one religion can lay claim to music’s true spiritual nature; when created from the heart and spirit and with pure intention, music is the song and spiritual expression of God’s very heart.

The musicians in 1 Chronicles were said to be trained and skilled musicians for the Lord. If God has seen to it that we receive skills and talents in music, as well as special training, and says that all of this is for Him, then isn’t our mere act of making music the giving back to God that he speaks of? If I listen to music that touches my spirit, isn’t that music pleasing to God as well? And doesn’t, as James tells us, everything that is good come from God? Every perfect gift is from Him. Even the Hallelujahs, whether Leonard Cohen’s or Shrek’s or the little Christian lady who dared to change the lyrics?

Sure, there is music that has been used for bad, with lyrics that are degrading and vile. Obviously I am not speaking of that. Common sense tells us that those kinds of songs aren’t going to evoke feelings of goodness and love in a person anyway. There’s no argument there.

I love that music comes in all kinds of styles and genres, and there is a beautiful song ready to touch the heart of every person on earth. I’m over my days of trying to tell a composer that his lyrics are wrong. I may as well tell him his finger prints are wrong! I’m also not going to tell the lady who changed his lyrics that her version is wrong, because that’s her truth. And it’s what makes her soul sing. Hallelujah!

“Music should be healing; music should uplift the soul; music should inspire. There is no better way of getting closer to God, of rising higher towards the spirit, of attaining spiritual perfection than music, if only it is rightly understood.” ~Hazrat Inayat Khan

Here’s a beautiful rendition done by Three Famous Girls https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooZonYCkz-Q
Here is a very soulful rendition by KD Lang https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_NpxTWbovE
Here’s a beautiful remake written for Christmas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GSTH3G1YIs
And finally, here’s the song sung by the composer genius, Leonard Cohen, himself! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FpwjQLZTTs

Does God Command Us To Kill?

photo source: Flickr Creative Commons - artist Patrick Feller

photo source: Flickr Creative Commons – artist Patrick Feller

The older I get, the closer I seem to get to the heart of God. And the closer my heart to God’s, the more it grieves at the taking of life, regardless of species, motive, or biblical occurrences used as justification.

There was a time when I believed the most important lives worth saving were those of the innocent unborn in the womb. But really, how is it that one life is worth fighting for and another is worth ignoring – to the point of death.

As I’ve spent a lifetime climbing over and through religion’s very rocky, rough, volatile terrain and then finally discovering and resting in the bountiful, peaceful, welcoming pastures of God’s radical grace, there’s a syncopation of sorts occurring as my heart seems to beat in rhythm with God’s and I see the world through the eyes of His heart. I am recognizing a newly born love for everything that has breath, regardless of our differences. If everything that has breath is to praise the Lord, then do we not rob the Potter of all the praises due Him by willfully destroying His beloved works of art? (i.e. killing others)

I apologize for my  past apathy toward those who are  facing capital punishment, as well as to those on the receiving side of unnecessary wars. I look forward to a time of peace, when none shall sit in judgment on someone else’s life.

Whose side is Jesus on, anyway?

Photo credit courtesy Flickr artist Elycefeliz

I apologize for insisting that Jesus was on my church’s side and my interpretation of scripture was the only right one, while quietly, smugly, and self-righteously accusing and pointing out the error on the other side. Is disagreement in the church a sin that makes one a winner and another the poor, unfortunate idiot lost to (or at least pitied by) God and all of humanity? What does this say about all of us who are “right” but have a change of heart 25 years down the road?

Is it so difficult to conceive of the possibility that we might ALL be the chosen? And that God really did love all of us (the world) so much that His gift (Jesus) was sent to all of us – not just those who chant a prayer a certain way or brag of the checked-off check list for the only right way to salvation?