Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sid & Sam

I am an animal lover. I am horribly allergic to cats, so I have a way of disconnecting myself from them. But all other furry animals have my heart. I look into their eyes, and I see unconditional love.

I have 2 dogs. Sidney I found at the SPCA in Dallas. She was named "Jewel", and was the calmest dog there. She was offered at a discounted price because she had been there for so long. I reached into the cage she shared with a huge black dog who was jumping and barking, and I managed to get her out without freeing blacky. As soon as she walked down the aisle with me, I realized--this dog is not for me. She started jumping and running and going apey. I tried to put her back in her cage, and she dug her paws into the concrete. She wasn't budging. Every timed I tried to open the cage, the huge black dog tried to get out. I was embarrassed. I was afraid that if I asked for help, I would be seen as "unfit" or unable to handle a dog. (That SPCA had a lot of rules and questions they asked you). So I purchased "Miss Thang" and brought her home. My husband never warmed up to her, but then, he never tried. (He picked the name Sidney.) She would hide and pee. She would nip. She was an escape artist. But I loved her. She was my girl. When she escaped, my heart sank and I cried until I found her. When I divorced and moved to Tulsa, she was immediately a great dog--like she was so happy to be away from my ex that she would do anything I wanted. She was my baby. We both entered a new phase of life together. She's very smart, very resourceful, and cunning.

One night at Rib Crib, my parents and I noticed a sweet black lab dodging cars. Rib Crib is right by a highway. The black dog was begging for food. I told my dad, "If that dog is still there when I leave, I'm taking it home." We walked out to our car, which was on the other side of the restaurant from where he was hanging out. He came right up, and we opened the car door and he jumped in. He had scars all over his belly. The vet said he had been "rolled by a car or two", by looking at the scars. He had been on his own for a while. He and Sidney didn't hit it off in the beginning. But they did mesh over time., and are now buddies. He tore up my couch, my shades, my wooden furniture. But he grew out of that. Sam is my loverboy. He wants to be touched. To sleep with me. To sit on my lap. Even after 6 years with me, he needs reassurance. He loves the indoors, loves blankets, and loves to sleep.

I regret not walking them more. Not playing with them more. Their love is unconditional. They see me and welcome me with complete love. I am so thankful for them.

I took in a puppy last year, only to find that potty training was not something my schedule was conducive to. Also, Sid and Sam weren't so keen on having a new family member. I realized that I couldn't provide this dog the attention it needed at such a young age. It as so hard, but I found her a home with a family that had no dog, and 3 kids. My heart ached at the thought of what I was doing to her psyche by giving her away. But I know she will be happier.

When I saw a boyfriend kick Sam, I knew that it was time to walk away. Sam does not get aggressive, unless he is attacked. My boyfriend said that Sam bit him once when he was in my back yard and I was at work. In reality, that boyfriend had serious control issues, and I saw him get increasingly aggresive with Sam. I saw him kick Sam, and Sam did nothing to create such a severe reaction. I still apologize to Sam for that. I believe he had been abused prior to his time with me, so having his mom's boyfriend kick him after 6 years of peaceful living is unacceptable. I failed him. I ended that relationship, and I still get sick at the thought of that incident.

If I had a ton of money, I would have an animal rescue, and I would provide shelter and love to God's creatures. I would be a very sad person without my dogs. They are my true loves.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Depression / Angst

I’ve not been one to hide my depression. Especially once I graduated college, I learned to just admit it and accept it and treat it. In the past few years, my depression has been much more controlled. By that I mean my mood hasn’t stayed on ground zero non stop. I have attributed that to God, my faith, my job, my age, my confidence. But last week, I felt like I was shot back to 1997.

I had a terrible week. I was talked down to, bossed around, ignored. It drained me emotionally, mentally, and therefore, physically. I’m convinced having a dick would have kept me from such abuse.

Saturday, an incident set me off into a huge bawling binge. My explosion was overdue, and it was the culmination of the week’s hell. It catapulted me into a state of depression that I haven’t felt in a long time. Like bricks were tied to my head, my arms, my back, my heart. I became angry at myself for not being bolder and bitchier, at God for creating me, at men for being jerks.

I had a “prayer” last night that was the most heartfelt I’ve had in a while. Probably because it was full of anger. How dare you create me! How dare you give me this personality! How dare you ! The truth is, I will likely be alone the rest of my life. I may never remarry. I probably won’t have kids. My sister’s husband doesn’t like me, so I may never be close to my niece. I’ve backed away from their family, knowing that my presence seems to ignite him. I’m not sure what it is about me that he resents, but his resentment only worsens through the years.

o, I’m trying to figure out why the hell I was born, what my purpose is, why I’m still here. I’m 36 and have nothing to show for my life.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Relationships are hard. They are draining. Taxing. Frustrating. Demanding. Comforting. Rewarding. Fun. Fulfilling. Endearing. Worth the effort.

Friendships, for an introvert like me, take a lot of work. Approaching someone I don’t know takes more effort than an extrovert will ever fathom. You see, I was not socialized as a child; My parents moved and changed our schools several times over the course of my childhood; We couldn’t afford extracurricular activities (for me, anyway. There was plenty of money for my sister though! Oops, that’s a blog for another time); My mom stayed home with us and she never had friends. Whatever the core reason, making friends has been a challenge.

My parents moved us from a blue collar neighborhood in a small town to an upper middle class house in a suburb when I was in grade school. I didn’t know how to relate to my new social class or my new neighborhood. I made only 1 real friend from 5th grade to 12th grade. Only 1 person that I felt “got me” and that wasn’t until high school. I finally made some friends in college—guys. I found girls to be much too competitive and image-oriented. Guys were laid back. They didn’t look you up and down, as if you were going to be their snack when no one was watching.

Then I went to work in Dallas--the meat market of America. I was never comfortable there. But I made friends with coworkers, and got out on the town. But I never really “fit in” because I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I thought I was a freak. I didn’t know how to be fun and friendly. In hindsight, I was not more freakish than the next person. I was just very guarded. I met my husband because we worked for the same company. He had no more friends than I did. So we were a boring couple.

After I relocated to Tulsa (following my divorce), I finally made good friends. I began to work through my own personal issues. I began to see that making friends means taking the first step and not waiting on others to introduce themselves to me. It means accepting everyone else “as is” if I’m to be accepted “as is”. It means taking the chance I will be rejected. And yes, I have been snubbed by other females upon introducing myself. It’s a pain that goes to the bone. Luckily, it’s a fleeting pain.

Now that I’m older, it’s not the quantity of friendships I search for. I am a hermit by nature, and have found too many friends to be stressful. (isn’t that horrible? “Sorry, I don’t need any more friends. I already have 1.” Haha!) I search for quality of friendships. That’s the difference. I’d rather have 1 good friend than 10 shallow acquaintances.

And now, friendships are beautiful, but they are still work. They still require my cultivation. They require my attention. But the best friendships, the deepest friendships, don’t require constant tilling. They are the ones where you will not see or hear from each other for years. And when you do reconnect, there is no finger pointing of who failed to communicate with whom. It’s more of a rediscovery of a lost love. Like no error existed, and the love between the friends takes over.

I still struggle. I still need to learn to be more social. But I’m eons from where I was.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Savings, Tongues, & Slayings

I was born into religion. I don’t remember getting saved, because I just always was. It was a belief system that I never questioned.

When I was about 14, I remember going to a youth camp of sorts. I say “of sorts” because it was thrown together (by that I mean poorly organized) by several churches who “fellowshipped” with one another. It lasted a week.

At the camp, there was the push to speak in tongues. The pressure was intense. I remember standing there, arms outstretched like I was Jesus on a cross. I think someone was holding each arm. My eyes were closed, as I stood there like a scarecrow waiting for a bird to land on me. I remember a lady saying, “You can see the words, just say them!” But I couldn’t see any words. So I just muttered a few things. Nothing I saw in my head, nothing that was from another realm, just . . . . . mumbles. You would have thought Jesus made a special appearance by their reactions. “Hallelujah! You did it!” Literally folks, I probably said three or four syllables. But they were as tired of praying as I was of being prayed for. And that was my entire tongue speaking history.

Which reminds me--I was layed in the spirit one time. I say that, because I was never slain, just lain. The pastoral staff of my church had gone to the east coast for some harvest movement where everyone was slain in the spirit or laughed like a hyena. By experiencing it, they were able to “bring it back” to Tulsa. How God was confined to human experiences to spread his blessings was something I never thought to question back then. But every service turned into a slayfest. I finally became a target. I had known people who were honestly slain in the spirit, so I believed in it, but I found this “group slaying” to be a bit hokey. I let them pray for me, and again, everyone got tired of the ordeal. I was sick of standing and praying, and they were tired of praying for me. So I rocked a little, and I purposely leaned back. That was all they needed to start yelling and spitting, and I was layed down by fellow churchgoers. I laid there with my eyes closed, thinking about lunch, and wondering how long I had to lie on the floor.

I do believe that both things I mentioned can happen. But I think the pressure to perform is ridiculous. Surely God is powerful enough to make something happen when He’s ready for it too!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Age Before Beauty

I like being older. Never thought I would say that, much less write it for the world to see!

Creed has a song with the following lyrics, "I'm rusted and weathered, barely holding together." That's me a lot of the time. Just clinging to sanity. Rusty and worn and weathered and eroded by hard times. I see young people and I admit I envy their energy, their expectations, the simplicity of their problems. If I had to live life again, I would have been a freer spirit in my youth.

However, I value my ability to perservere. I couldn't handle the problems at 21 that I have today at 36. Each struggle has made me stronger. Each heartache has toughened me, molded me, shaped my views. And God has shown himself faithful to me. It's hard to have faith, when you've never really needed it. As a youth, you always know a family member will bail you out and take care of you. As an adult, you find that God practices tough love, and that sucks!

So, I realized this evening that I take pride in knowing I'm older. I'm taken more seriously. My opinion counts. My experiences matter. I am more confident now than ever before, because I have proven my abilities to myself. I've been my biggest doubter.

The onset of gray hair was hard for me. I noticed it 2 years ago. It literally made me nervous and depressed to think that my hair was going to match my age. You see, I'm still 21 in my spirit. My body is 36, but my core is not even close. I understand more the phrase, "You are as old as you feel." Physically, I feel 32. Inside, I'm 21 and a size 8.

So, I'm thankful for the wisdom and strength and stability that comes with age. Now excuse me while I dye my hair.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Photo Tag

4th Photo from the 4th folder.

It seems I’ve been tagged. The fourth folder, and the fourth photo thing didn’t work for me. I have very random folders, and not a fourth folder of pictures at work. And So I am attaching a photo that I took at Agora’s Christmas Eve gathering. I had never been to a Christmas Eve service, and I have a new camera that I was dying to try out (Sony SLR). The ambience was amazing. So I fumbled through the camera functions, and came out with a ton of useless and blurry photos, as well as a few good ones. People kept looking at me like, is she ever going to finish with the pictures? This photo is looking over the shoulder of a friend. I love the shadows on her shirt, created by the candle. I also like the idea that you can see images vaguely in the background, but the focal point is the light. I think God sees us like that—He sees our light, and not our physical attributes. Therefore, all are beautiful. So, I like this photo pretty well.

Who's next?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Romanticizing the Past

"For I know the plans I have for you. Plans for good and not disaster. Plans for future and hope." Jeremiah 29:11

I know this verse well, but having my friend Jennifer Instant Messaging it to me on facebook reminded me of its significance in my life. It's a recurring scripture for me.

"But I wish I had a morsel of what His plan is," I lamented.

"If you knew the future, it wouldn't be worth living," Jennifer wrote.

That stopped me in my tracks. The wisdom in that statement was overpowering. I had been frustrated. Here we are, the first work day of January, 2009, and my employer--the owner of the company--literally screamed profanities at me. It was embarassing, it was uncalled for, and it was not how I had hoped my year would begin. I immediately feared this would be indicative of 2009, and I was depressed. Would I endure this all year? Would I ever remarry? Would I ever have kids?

I relayed this information to Jennifer, and she explained to me that God is in control, but I have to trust Him. Yes, I know. But sometimes, it's really, really hard. I've felt completely let down by God in the past. And, well, I don't trust anyone. It's a defense mechanism to assure I'm not hurt again.

Then Jennifer, rather randomly, brought up something from my past--my divorce.

"It must have been hard on you. I know you were hurt. I remember you crying," she wrote.

I didn't think she remembered the last time we physically saw each other. I was still living in Texas, a few cities away from her. I was getting a divorce. I had come to see her family before I moved back to Oklahoma. I was in turmoil. I don't remember talking about my divorce, but I had to have discussed it.

"I remember," she responded to my surprise. "You said he got angry at you because the tines on your fork scraped on your teeth when you took a bite."

That, I didn't remember. Not immediately anyway. It's still rather vague in my mind. But it reminded me that we tend to romanticize the past. We gloss over it in our minds, or delete sections of it, in order to cope. I have actually started a blog on my divorce, which I haven't posted. And I realize now why--I've forgotten the impact it had on me. I've forgotten the intensity of the self-loathing I had in me, for failing at the most basic role--wife.

I stared at my laptop and tears began streaming down my face. But not a bawl or cry with gasps. Just a mellow, deep, sadness. I wiped away a downpour of tears as I assured Jennifer she hadn't said anything wrong. I was just overwhelmed with the reality of the sad person I had been. That was only one of the many little things that he suddenly seemed intolerant of. He didn't just comment on my flaws, he blew up over them. I felt completely inadequate as a person, and I didn't know who I was supposed to be for him. As my dad would say, I was a "whooped pup".

I look back at Kristi Kueter, and I see a woman who was horrifically insecure, but who married a man who refused to give her the satisfaction of a compliment. I see a girl who was afraid to be authentic because her husband was not, and she didn't want to be the only vulnerable person in that relationship. We both held back, like acquaintances instead of lovers. I married a man that I was great friends with, but who didn't show me the love I needed. And over time, our differences that had seemed like hairline fractures while dating, had become deep crevasses. He began to nitpick me. I was suddenly not up to his standards. He spent his evenings on the internet and drinking wine, in the opposite side of the house. I found porn in his briefcase. He refused to tell me he loved me. He never touched me. I would rather he hit me than ignore me the way he did. But on January 2nd, 2002, he told me he didn't think he ever loved me, and we weren't going to make it. The tiny fractures I had noticed in our relationship early on, had not been addressed and had taken over our marriage. The signs were there, but so was the denial. And the result was a deep sadness that followed me for 4 years, as I finally accepted my role, my denial, my ignorance, I was able to let go of the anger I had toward him. And then I was able to shake that cloud of sorrow, little by little. . . .atom by atom. . . .moment by moment.

So, the realization of the hurt I had endured brought back a flood of emotions, exactly 7 years later. I was a broken person in 2002. I had been broken for years before I met Todd, and that marriage did the opposite of empower me--it made me even more insecure. If my husband can't stand me, who can? My sister says that relationships either help you or hurt you, and nothing else. That marriage did not help me. . .

I look back and realize how far I've come. How much I've overcome. I'm a stronger person now. I'm a more determined person now. Much of it is due to what I went through in that marriage. And hearing those little things amaze me. I believe it is good to let go of the past and to not let it define you. But sometimes memories flooding in are good, because they remind you of where you've been and how far you've come. It keeps us from romanticizing the past a little too much.

Although I prayed for God to heal my marriage 7 years ago. Today, I'm thankful that it did not happen. I've found myself. I've found God's love. I've found God's grace and mercy.

Now, if I could just find his crystal ball . . . . . . .

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sharon's Afghan

New years always bring me into a state of reflection. Once the hubbub of Christmas wears off, and I begin dating correspondence with a new year, I'm in awe. Life is crazy. It's chaotic. It's beautiful. It's ugly.

I have been remembering my cousin, Sharon. She died several years ago, when she was in her mid 30's. She was redheaded like me, but had been plagued with illnesses since her youth. She had lupus, and had volunteered to receive experimental treatments. Those treatments, it is believed, sped her demise. She was creative, generous, and funny. Her passing deeply affected our family. She had created a wonderful tradition: every time a female in our family passed a milestone, she made them an afghan. I remember receiving mine. I believe it was when I graduated college.

It was a precious gift--especially from her. She had shaky hands that should have prevented her from any artistic endeavers. Watching her hold a cup was similar to watching someone with Parkinson's Disease. But she slaved over the pieces until they were completed--determined to not let her health keep her from blessing others. I put my afghan into a plastic bag. Once she passed away, I realized that this was my only connection to her, outside of photos. I pulled it out today to look at it for the first time in years. It is still stiff from it's initial creation. Still vibrant.

I have since taken up crocheting. For a healthy person, I find it a challenge. It's not the looping, it's the tired wrists and hands, the attention span I don't have, and the patience I lack. But the outcome is amazing.

Crocheting is a beautiful art. You create a functional, yet beautiful, piece out of yarn and loops. That's it. One skein of yarn, can be crafted into a beautiful blanket or sweater or shawl. Add it to other yarns, and you find yourself with a tapestry of many colors and personalities.

I think of my life as that--I am a skein. As I live, I leave a trail of loops and knots. As I allow others into my life, I get more color and design. But ultimately, I am responsible for the outcome and completion. The trail I leave can be viewed by many, and will be my legacy. I can be a functional item, such as a blanket, or a doily that has little use but is very decorative. I prefer to be a useful vessel. Sharon's legacy is of blessing. She dealt with health issues most of her life. But she was always positive, always creative, and always looking to bless others with the gifts she had been given.