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Through his eyes

I always wanted to be an artist.  In my over active imagination I could visualize images of great, intense beauty, but when I put pencil to paper, nothing happened.  Frustrated, I gave up.  Yes, I took the requisite art class in highschool, and yes, managed to eek out a pencil drawing that was of “B” value, but nothing else.  I realized my art talent was in acting, singing, sewing, design…

Now, I have an artist living in my home.  He is 6.5 years old and can “draw me under the table”!  What is especially interesting to me, is that inspite of him not being flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bone, he has inherited my intense love of all things art.  I envy his ability to draw from his imagination.  I am amazed at his ability to remember famous pieces of art that we have looked at.  The other day, he was working on an assignment for history, and there, on his sketch pad was a face from “Guernica”.

But with this passion and gift, comes a lot of pain.  It’s hard as an artist to hear the word “no”.  It pains me to tell him “no” when he wants to do his own thing and not follow the instructions.  Frankly, I would rather narrate what he has drawn, than what he was supposed to draw.  Temperance, patience, restraint.

I look forward to seeing the world through his eyes as he grows, and wonder what the Lord has in store for his life.  May he never lose this passion, this magical imagination and desire to creatively express himself.

Love you ever so much, Dear Boy.

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I find myself writing about Molly again.  She amazes me.  I think what amazes me the most is her resilience and her love.

It has become obvious to us that she was severely abused.  She is timid at first around men, and then will warm up.  It is also apparent that she remembers the specific look of those men who abused her.

Over these last months, we have loved on her, played with her, taken her to the mountains, to visit my parents, and even a trip to the shore, where she tentatively tried out the ocean and discovered she really likes it!  It was hard to watch adults hurrying their children away from her, as though she was a pariah, or ferocious beast that would attack.  Many watched in amazement as she frolicked with our children, sweetly caring for them.  I feel protective of her, knowing that her breed has been misrepresented and abused.  The children love her and care for her.  Last week she cut her underbelly on some bamboo.  Two doctors and a nurse brought her inside, put her on Sam’s bed, calmly talking to her and cleaned her wounds.  She can be found sleeping on somebody’s bed every night, and in the morning, she patiently waits for me to wake up.

I have wondered if she would continue to cower when she sees particular kinds of men.

My wondering has been put to rest.  This past Thursday, we had errands to run, and took her to the dog park.  She enjoyed a long romp with her children, and contentedly rode next to me in the car, watching everyone.  We stopped to get an ice cream, and as I opened my window to order, I felt her fur stand on edge, and heard her growl.  I looked to my left, and there was a man.  She didn’t lunge, or do anything foolish, she merely made her presence known.  Later, as we drove through a less than savory part of town, she saw someone else that triggered painful memories for her.  My girl didn’t cower or hide, instead, she stood up and howled away, and I encouraged her…..”Get it out Molly, get it out.  He can’t hurt you anymore.”

If only we humans would realize this truth.  Our abusers, those who teased us, bullied us, molested us, cheated on us, whatever it is that was done against you in harm…..we’re free from them, and there is no need to fear them.  I was always scared of packs of girls growing up; even into college.  Packs of girls represented to me hatred, loathing, sniggering, teasing, abuse.  It wasn’t until I was a teacher that I quit fearing packs of girls.  There was no more need to fear those girls, for I was a teacher, and was in charge, and I began to relax, just like Molly.

To take this even further, the Great Abuser, the one who Abused Eve in the Garden, lying to her, manipulating her, he has been conquered by the One Who Loves, giving us complete freedom from the Great Abuser.  We need not fear, rather, we live in freedom.

Full Circle

I grew up with animals.  It’s safe to say that my animals were my first friends.  As an only child, living on the prairies of South Dakota in a town of 13, life didn’t afford me many human playmates, so I had animals.  There were the sheep:  Fruitloop, Lollipop and Rusty; the cows:  Lucky and Clyde; the horse:  Henry; the cats:  Casey O’Malley the Alley Cat and Jingle Bell, but my favorite was Patty, my dog.  She was a Blue Heeler, with probably some other genes thrown in, but most importantly, she was my dog.  As a wide eyed 4 year old, I watched her give birth to her chubby puppies.  She was my constant companion.

One hot summer day, I sat outside our church on the front steps, reading a book.  Patty came up to me, nuzzling me with her soft nose and whimpering.  I put my arm around her, and felt something sticky and wet.  Blood from a massive gash down her chest covered my fingers.  I couldn’t pick her up, she was too big, so I coaxed her quietly back to the manse so Dad could look at her.  She was so far gone by the time I got her to him, and the vet was 45 minutes away, she was never going to make it.  He did the humane, kind thing, taking her out behind the house, down the valley a bit and shot her.  I can still hear the shot, and I can still see myself, sobbing in my mother’s lap as she tried to comfort me.  We think she cut her underbelly on barbed wire.  My dog was gone.  My sweet, happy friend.

Over the ensuing years, we moved to different states.  I had to give up another dog, and then, on the West Coast we went pet-less for many years, and it hurt.  I quietly envied my friends who had animals, and longed for my own.  Eventually, when I was on my own, I did have a dear little friend named Bertie, and as a newly wed, we had dogs.  Then the children came along, and we parted with the dogs, giving them to homes that needed them more.

Now, a week ago, a dear, sweet little doggie entered our lives and invaded our hearts.  She is about the same size as Patty, has a way of looking at you that is almost human, and is my permanent shadow.  They found her 7 months ago, under a truck, heavily pregnant, emaciated and torn up.  A lovely woman took her in, nursed her back to health, helped her through the delivery of many stillborn puppies, and got her ready for our family.  I feel like things have come full circle for me where Molly is concerned.  I feel a bit like a child with her, and find myself giving her ferociously tight hugs; hugs that she craves.

Molly, you’re a darling dog.

I have always loved this painting.  Somewhere, in some box, I have a card with the painting on it.  I suppose it reminded me of my childhood in South Dakota, an only child, trying to find things to do, and oftentimes, reading to her dog.  Today, as I sat on the couch reading, I heard Miriam’s little voice at the other end of the couch.  I looked up, and there she was, her arms around the cat’s neck, reading him a Winnie the Pooh and Piglet story.  Needless to say, this image popped into my head.  I don’t think the cat was highly amused judging from the tense switching of his tail, but he put up with her, as all good pets do.

Getting Past Mordor

I’ve been thinking a lot this week of the imagery from the last of the Tolkein novels:  Frodo and Sam being borne up on the wings of giant birds after they have thrown the ring into the fires of Mordor.  It’s a powerful image.  And it’s an image that aptly fits our lives.  These last two years, long, difficult, trying, wearying, scary, painful years are it seems, coming to an end.  The endless trek to Mordor is coming to a close, and the birds are here to take us to safety; but it’s a safety that you know can be taken at any time.

We are not promised anything in this life, save for suffering.  Our Lord promised us that.  Suffering for Him.  In light of that promise, these last two years have been bittersweet.  His presence, His “realness” has been ever more present in our lives and we have grown.  But He is so good, He knows we are frail, He remembers that we are made from dust, and remembers that He has promised to give us His yoke, which is light.

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.

20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.

21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

Transition

So, by my calculation, this is my 22nd move in my life.  The most memorable moves though are from my childhood, and I suppose that is why I find myself concerned for our little ones as we make this change.  When we moved from South Dakota to Montana, we moved via a grain truck.  Upon our arrival in Montana, I saw sprinklers for the first time in my life.  That’s my memory there.  When we moved to Santa Cruz, CA I remember taking turns riding in the U-Haul with Dad and in the Dasher with Mum.  Upon arrival, I realized that the neighborhood had no children, and I was alone.

Now, we are moving to Atlanta.  I am excited to be going back to Georgia, as that is where I have always felt at home, but I wonder what our little ones will go through.  What will be their memories?  They are such dear little helpers, and I have to remind myself, that they want to participate too….even though their chaos of toys, co-mingled with my chaos of boxes and paper about puts me over the top….still, they want to help.

I know they don’t really realize that we won’t be going to church in the same place, or with the same people.  They will have new faces to learn, and names.  That fact alone, breaks my heart, because I remember as a child, the profound sadness and loneliness I felt when we moved away from South Dakota.  We moved away from everything I had known up till then.  Mum saved a letter I wrote to my friend Dwight.  It started out, “Dear Dwight, I miss my Hamill Home.”  I don’t remember writing that letter, but I do remember hiding under a bush and crying.  Crying because I missed the prairie, my animals, my friends, my freedom….

I pray our children don’t have to go through that pain.  It’s a lot for a little shaver of 5 to go through.  Thankfully, Atlanta boasts a zoo and aquarium, and the promise of bikes, something they have been ardently praying for  for months now.

After the fussiness of today, the hours spent in the basement, cleaning and weeding out, packing and pitching, I am longing for a lovely movie.  I thought of “Tous les Matins du Monde” earlier today as we drove to Goodwill.  I know, Romantic.  I suppose a movie like this is a true form of escapism, but tonight, I would like to escape, if only for an hour or two.