November 21, 2010

Whenever I’ve thought about my dog dying in the past, it’s felt like I was going to die.  He was one of my best friends for almost eleven years and there through so much of my struggles.  Also, I don’t deal well with loss.  I have worked myself up into anxiety attacks wondering when he was going to die – long before he was sick.  Now he’s gone, and I’m OK.

I was really really sad at first, obviously.  I was with him while he passed away which was both wonderful and horribly difficult.  I thought that I would be paralyzed with grief, and asked everyone I knew who prayed to pray for me.  They did.  And I’m OK.  I’m remembering him with joy and love – I miss him, but it’s not overwhelming.  It feels like God has given me a cushion – like I was starting to fall and he took the rocks away and placed something soft in my path.  I have a huge fear of falling – literally and figuratively – and I thought this was going to be one of those falling into a pit times. I thought the bottom would fall out of my life and I’d go back into despair.  If anything, the bottom got higher.  I’m doing better than I have, EVER.  Literally EVER in my life.

I have absolutely no explanation for it other than people praying for me and God rescuing me.  To me, it feels every bit as miraculous as if God swooped down to catch me as I was falling off a cliff.  My companion of 10+ years who I loved so much and loved me is gone.  I’m single.  I’m cold because it’s winter, and I don’t do well with cold, dark, and impending holidays.  And yet, I’m not just “OK for me.”   I’m actually feeling totally emotionally stable.  This has never happened and part of me feels like taking out a full page ad in the newspaper because it’s so incredible.

There’s probably something in the Psalms that describes this feeling.

Growing Up With Art

November 15, 2010

OK, I’m writing something for the church newspaper, and my assignment was to write about how growing up in a family of artists affected me and my faith.  This is what I have so far, and if anyone feels like giving me feedback (in the next 24 hours) I’d love honest feedback!  Obviously, it’s not finished, if you look at what’s in brackets!  I seem to have hit a wall in writing so I’ll try again tomorrow.

“Artist” is an incredibly emotionally loaded word for me.  Art does not come naturally to me like some might think it would.  [I need something else here, I think]

My mother’s family is made up completely of artists.  We have poets, painters, sculptors, printmakers, musicians, photographers, and dancers.  There are abstract artists, portrait artists, and landscape artists.  Some had formal training and others just had it come naturally to them.  Emails are sent around to family members about gigs people are playing, art shows coming up, photography blogs, and poetry prizes.

I don’t fit into this mold as well as most of my family members, since I’m one of the few non-professional artists.  I like words and facts. I like words to mean what they’re supposed to mean and things to be described as they are.

I spent a lot of my childhood around artists, with all the wonderful and not-so-wonderful things that come along with that.  I was always around oil paint, turpentine, and wood shavings, and can vividly remember each of those odors.  Art and artists had strong positive and negative effects on me.  I learned to paint when I was about eight years old and my grandfather decided that one hour of art every other Wednesday at school wasn’t enough, so he took me into his oil painting studio and let me use his supplies.  I learned to see beauty – in art, in nature, in faces, in colors, and even just in shapes – a gift that I think adds a great deal to my life.

The stereotype of the tormented artist has a lot of truth in it, however, and there were also many negative effects on my life.  Many of these artists in my family had substance abuse issues or mental illness.  Depression abounded.  Art was a way to disappear – people could, for a short period of time, erase themselves and offer a beautiful creation in the place of their frenetic thoughts, sorry, and low self-worth. Even as a child, I was confused about this.

[connecting these two paragraphs]

Somehow, I have not only always believed in God, but I’ve always known that I was being taken care of.  I’ve been able to use art to remind me of God’s faithfulness, and of the fact that I am redeemed.  At times I have wished that I could not believe – when I’m angry or disappointed in God.  For some reason, I can’t not believe

[something about experiencing God through art]



November 11, 2010

I miss my wonderful doggie very much.  But it’s not paralyzing me.  I’m not falling into depression, I’m not crying uncontrollably, and I’m still able to function.  This would not have been the case two years ago.

Tomorrow I’m picking up his ashes at the vet’s office.  I’m nervous about it because it’s going to make me sad.  The vet and the techs there are SO wonderful and I know they loved my dog so very much that it’s going to be hard.  Also, I’ve never touched “cremains” (did you know there was a word for cremated remains?)  I’m afraid it’s going to freak me out and that I’ll have too many images of the process.  I’m a very visual person.  I’m trying to remind myself that those remains are not my Puppy.  They are a reminder, and something I can bury or scatter to have a place of remembrance, but that he’s with God now, however God takes care of faithful animals. I don’t know the answers but I know that God loved/loves this dog and that there’s no way that ANY living being could have been so loving and faithful without being created by a loving God.

I’m grateful to Solomon for being there through almost 11 years, mostly of depression and turmoil and never turning his furry little back on me.  He was there right next to me when no human was.  He made me get out of bed sometimes when I didn’t think I could.  I miss him so much, but in a way, I think he’s made it possible for me to get to a place where I can live without him, which I didn’t actually think was possible.

Isn’t it amazing that God can work that many miracles using a dog?

Beautiful Doggie

November 2, 2010

My beloved dog of almost 11 years passed away last night.  It was the right decision to put him out of his pain but it was possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I miss him so much.