Meet Bill and Ted, my Premature Furry Babies!

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For “baby” names, we wanted something simple and symbolic–a dynamic duo. I think Bill and Ted was an excellent choice, don’t you?

When we decided to have a baby, I didn’t plan on getting two puppies with the deal. Alas, my house is filling up with testosterone faster than I can keep up!

Ever since our dachshund, Hope, died last December, my husband has been bringing up the subject of more dogs…and when my brother-in-law found these two darlings abandoned on the side of the road last week, well, all signs pointed to our house.

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Bill is the white one, Ted, the black one. If you’ve seen the movie, though, you might have guessed that!

I was initially hesitant to get more dogs, because I knew I’d be the primary caregiver. I knew we’d get more dogs at some point, but I wanted to guard my last few months of freedom before baby. However, I’ve discovered my life is not my own anymore (never was, it turns out), and God is preparing me for motherhood by way of these puppies.

Some life changes I’ve had to make are:

  • Getting up in the middle of the night for potty breaks. Of course, I have already been doing this frequently for awhile, but the pups make it a little less easy to just flop back into bed.
  • Getting up earlier for “feedings.”
  • Putting up baby gates.
  • Cleaning up poop and pee.
  • Having to make arrangements every time I leave the house.
  • Worrying all the time what the “babies” are doing; trying to keep them in my sight.

I know there are some larger spiritual applications to all this motherhood training, but today I may be in too much of a hurry to see them. You see, it’s almost noon, and I haven’t even gotten down to the business of working on my memoir yet. As I thought about how my morning had gone so far, I realized I could either get frustrated that I hadn’t gotten any “work” done yet, or I could change my expectations for myself, because—hello—my life is changing pretty drastically.

I could choose to see my day so far as worthless because I haven’t yet  worked on my profession, or I could choose to see what I’d done as worthwhile because I am a wife and mother taking care of her household.

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Bill and Ted are interested in whatever we are doing, especially if it involves food!

Since getting up, I have fed the puppies; spent much needed time with the Lord; knocked on the doors of two neighbors trying to get to the bottom of two large (and scary-looking) dogs that wandered into my backyard this morning (protecting both my puppies and the neighborhood); baked a loaf of banana bread for my college-age niece who stays over on Tuesday nights; and I have put ingredients in the bread maker for French bread for my husband, who told me he wanted a spaghetti dinner tonight.

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Although they like to fight, Bill and Ted still aren’t too “grown up” to show one another affection. I love it when they sleep like this!

I have never really defined myself as a homemaker—I haven’t wanted to be the one who stays home and sees to it that everyone else is fed and clothed and clean and sane for their careers, because I wanted to have my own career. I still want to. I want to be a writer and a teacher, just like I’m doing (with more or less success, depending on the day). But the Lord is teaching me it’s okay if some of my days are spent doing homemaking things instead of career-building things. In fact, I know that the homemaking is probably ultimately more important. How quickly I forget that if there’s not happiness in the home, life is dismal. My home was unhappy, my life dismal, for too many years growing up, and because of my beautiful marriage today, I sometimes take for granted that a happy home is well worth the investment.

But each day I’m learning to take a little more joy in the simple things: puppies, babies, sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows…you get the picture! I continue to thank the Lord that he is straightening out my priorities, and my roles. Now, if I can just figure out how to balance them all!

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So far Bill seems to be Buc’s dog and Ted, my dog. Bill is more laid back, while Ted has a hard time sitting still (and a temper that flares up sometimes at Bill)…hmmm, yes, the analogy works!

My Mission and Goals from 2011

Values Clarification

God: God is my Redeemer; he is the reason for my existence and my ultimate destination

  • I put God first every day
  • I use God’s word as my compass for all my life’s decisions
  • I strive to be Christlike and to be a witness to others in the way I conduct myself and live my life
  • I do what is right even in the face of opposition

Family and Friends: My family members and friends are the most precious gifts from God I have on this earth, therefore:

  • I take conscious steps toward building or maintaining my relationships with family members, such as family Bible study or spending quality time with them
  • I avoid doing things that would harm my family relationships, especially with my husband, such as over-committing myself in areas that do not desperately require my attention
  • I don’t forget to make and take time for friends; I keep my friendships in good standing; I do not “hoard” or limit my friendship; I am open to making new friends

Workmanship/Artistry: I have been endowed with specific gifts from my creator which I strive to develop to his glory

  • I write to share the story of what God’s done for me and to bring others to Christ
  • I play to be a service to others (such as in church, at funerals, etc.)
  • I use my talents not to uplift myself but to uplift God

Education: God has given me a wonderful mind to be filled with all that is lovely, pure, and true

  • I continue to learn constructive new things everyday that will benefit my own or others’ quality of life
  • I share what I learn with others
  • I obtain greater education for the purpose of  bettering my life or the lives of others
  • I avoid that which is emotionally harmful, mentally dwarfing, depressing or vulgar

Health and Fitness: My body is the temple of God, to be cared for accordingly

  • I choose to eat as healthily as is possible and realistic in my current lifestyle
  • I learn and implement new healthy recipes as often as I can
  • I exercise regularly to keep my body in good physical shape and to keep my mind clear
  • I choose to be happy with the body God has given me and my own personal “best”
  • I do not measure myself by unrealistic, worldly standards of beauty

Stewardship: I use all that I have to the best of my knowledge and ability to glorify God

  • I use my time constructively
  • I spend my money wisely
  • I treat my body as a vehicle of service for God and input accordingly

Roles

Christian

See Item 1 above

I read and learn what the Bible says, first, to prepare myself to witness, then, to know what and how to share with others

Wife

  • I am supportive
  • I think before speaking
  • I choose my battles wisely
  • I use my energy to encourage rather than nag
  • I find meaningful ways to show and reinforce my love for him everyday

Daughter/Sister

  • I am learning to have normal relationships with my parents and brothers
  • I call on a more regular basis

Teacher

  • To the best of my abilities, I teach the kids what will be most necessary, useful and uplifting to them
  • I am a positive role model
  • I maintain an active interest in their wellbeing and salvation
  • I discipline them when needed, even if it is hard for me to do so

Artist

  • I spend a significant amount of time (or that which is feasible) each week developing or practicing my talents, especially writing
  • I use my writing for a healthy emotional outlet
  • I use my talents to benefit others

What one thing could you accomplish in your professional life that would have the most positive impact?

Get my doctorate

What one thing could you accomplish in your personal life that would have the most positive impact?

I don’t know…

  • Start a small-group Bible study?
  • Have a child and learn how to have a normal, healthy family life?

The kind of person I want to be:

  • Self-confident
  • Loving
  • Wise/Discerning
  • Spiritual

All the things I would like to do (Bucket List):

  • Read through the entire Bible
  • Get my masters
  • Get my doctorate
  • Be an English Professor
  • Publish my writing for significant pay and in the venue that will impact as many people as possible
  • Take aerobics or Pilates classes for fun!
  • Be an aerobics instructor
  • Live in MN again, even if just in the summers
  • Lead a group Bible study for young adults
  • Find and participate in a ministry or service activity that both my husband and I are interested in and can do together
  • Compose music in a preserve-able form (learn how to use a music program to write electronic sheet music)
  • Achieve financial freedom so that money is never an obstacle, say, in taking trips to visit my family
  • Maybe adopt kids or do some kind of foster care or service for children
  • Get over my issues with technology; embrace that technology which is good
  • Become a Women’s Ministries Leader after my children have grown or I decide I’m not having children
  • Learn to see the best in people; never facilitate or further gossip

All the things I would like to have during my lifetime

  • Continual assurance of salvation; every day an open connection with God
  • A healthy, happy marriage every day
  • Maybe kids; don’t know yet
  • A lake house in Minnesota
  • My own study or writing room
  • A grand piano
  • A maid

Note: These prompts and questions come from my Stephen Covey planner from 2011. They spring from the principles of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and I include my responses from 2011 here to help readers make sense of my next blog post, Reviving Relationships–Rethinking Goals.

I’d love to read any goals or bucket list items my readers would like to share! I look forward to your comments!

Celebrating 8 Years: Roots of a Love Story

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“Do you want to talk again, maybe tomorrow?” he asked from his bachelor pad in balmy Texas.

“Sure, if neither one of us dies before then,” I responded through huffs and puffs of cold Minnesota air.

I was walking briskly up College Street, autumn leaves crunching underfoot.

He thought it strange the way I ended that third phone call. But you have to understand it had been no more than six months since the previous winter when I’d found myself sitting in that mental ward.

I was making a slow recovery from depression, trying my luck at a few random classes in community college after having dropped out of a pricey private institution.

With a BBA, he was in his second year of a new job in the finance industry.

We were both living single and lonely in small apartments. Both dejected from recent life failures, we had recently both shut ourselves away from family and friends.

Apparently he found something intriguing in my dark humor and brooding ways. As well, he’d liked the pictures my bff, and our matchmaker, Samantha, had shown him. It was before the days of Facebook, so I would wait until our first live meeting about a month later to see him. No matter. His voice, smooth and soothing, already gave me goosebumps.

“What are you doing tonight?” he would start our phone conversations, which quickly became daily affairs, usually no less than four hours at a pop.

I couldn’t believe how attentive he was. He actually wanted me to read my journals out loud to him, which I did.

“I’m taking a walk/organizing my closet/doing dishes [pick one—these were all true over the months of phone dating…and all due to that nervous, post-depression energy I suffered in those days]. What are you up to?”

“I’m just lying here, thinking about you.”

Each night on his primitive, 2004-model cell phone, he gave me his full attention, something I was not used to with males. The previous two men in my life I had met at my workplace, a restaurant, and the relationships had always been about what I could do for them. The boy I had loved in high school (a much nicer guy than these two) ended up having precious little time for me after going gay.

I wish I could say that I unreservedly returned Buc’s affection in the beginning. But every true love story must have a complication, mustn’t it?

Sigh. After dropping out of college, I’d struck up a conversation with my most recent ex (he’d since been fired from his dishwashing job at the restaurant). This happened a couple months before I met Buc.

The first contact I’d had in about six months with this dude (who shall remain nameless) started with him telling me he’d love to get together—but I’d have to go to him, because he was under house arrest at the moment.

Instead of running the other way like I should have, guess what I did?

Yep.

I got physically and emotionally involved. Again. Apparently I was attracted to his brooding ways. I identified with his suicidal tendencies, and as lonely as I was, well, any guy was better than none.

Lord forgive me. And Buc forgive me too. How stupid I was.

It should have been an easy choice. Let me put it this way:

  • One had three kids, the other had none.
  • One was unemployed, the other a successful broker.
  • One had a criminal record, and the other? Nary a traffic ticket.
  • One had a history of drug and alcohol use, the other, a history of jalapeno abuse.
  • One was a broken deadbeat who needed me to rescue him, while the other was a broken believer who wanted to rescue me.

Gee. I wonder who I should choose?

You might say I could have chosen neither. I could have accepted the newspaper editor job I’d been offered–but that didn’t pay anything (college newspaper, you see), and I was already out of money—plus, that restaurant where I’d picked up the last two losers had just gone bankrupt.

No, as the months went on that fall of 2004, it became clear that God was propelling me to make a choice. A drastic choice. Doors were closing all around me, and I literally didn’t feel strong enough to go it alone. I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that God was with me—but sometimes we are so low (or so delusional) that we need God’s hands to reach out, take hold of us, and give us a good shake through the hands of another.

“Think about what you’re doing!” Buc would cry in frustration as I lamented to him that I loved both of them. “Why is it even a choice?”

One night he almost gave up on me. I had waffled again, saying I needed to take a break from both to sort myself out. Meanwhile, he prayed for a sign.

“God,” he prayed several days into this separation, “if she calls tonight, then I know you want us together. If she doesn’t, then we’re not meant to be.”

That night when I called, I don’t remember what I said. I know I was not totally convinced one way or the other, but God didn’t need me to be ready just yet.

Buc took this as his sign, and I’m so glad he did. After this, I waffled another time or two, but he didn’t give up on me. He trusted God, even though my utterly stupid behavior baffled and hurt him.

I think I owe our eight years of marriage to my husband’s faith, a faith I have seen again and again over the years when his job was uncertain, or I was uncertain, and he prayed for a sign, received his answer, and made up his mind not to worry because, as he simply and calmly explained, “It’s God’s plan.”

It’s a faith I’m still hoping to develop.

I saw it again just this week, as he faced a job-threatening audit at his branch. Yep, my hubby has become the manager at a top-notch financial branch, and earned plenty of top-performer awards and trips along the way. (Just for kicks, I googled my ex last year and saw his gnarled face and tattoos pop up in a mug shot for a domestic dispute. Gulp! To think I could have married that!)

“I could get fired,” Buc announced coming home a few days ago. “But if I do, I know it’s God’s plan.”

Since I’ve been staying home, I’ve told him many times I wish he could stay home with me. I get so lonely.

“Well, maybe getting fired would be a blessing—we could spend all day together,” I quipped.

Seems all this alone time is not good for the logic—it’s his awesome job that’s currently allowing me to “write to my roots.” But no matter how I’ve spent my time in the past few years, home or not, my desire to be by my hubby’s side continues to grow.

As I awaken to the beauty and possibility around me little by little (because rediscovering family, God, and dreams after deep depression happens gradually), I realize more and more what a jewel I have right beside me. What do I need a wedding ring for? He is my rock, always returning to me at the end of the day.

Today, our phone calls are shorter, because they only last as long as it takes for him to drive the thirty to forty minutes home. (By the way, he’s still employed at that job that is too far away for my liking. “God’s will,” Buc said.) Still, he calls me every day. Kisses me every morning. The calls are a little less exciting than they used to be, more often filled with dinner plans or daily headlines than deep confessions of past sins or heated professions of love. After eight years, there’s not much we don’t know about each other. But though the conversation may have leveled off, the love never has. To the contrary, it has only grown.

Over eight years, as he’s helped “nurse me back” to mental health; talked me down from countless emotional cliffs; and worked day after day to clothe me, feed me, and shelter me, I am starting to “get it.”

His love for me is like God’s love–hoping all things, bearing all things, believing all things. I only hope that I will learn to love other human beings as much someday. Ever since moving to Texas, I’ve had a slow thaw in my heart. But I hope he knows that right now he’s got all the love I’ve got—with these melting icicles creating more room for him every day.

Honey, I thank God that you chose me, and even more, that I chose you! (Oh, how thankful I am that I made the right choice!)

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(Blast from the past)

February 7, 2005, 8:14 a.m. (about a month before we got married)

When I imagine our life together I feel unspeakable joy. Especially today after setting our wedding date.

Last night—remember my tears of joy?—I felt, finally that I have something to hope for (on this earth), for you are my representation of Christ as the husband of humanity.

A place to belong, somewhere to fit—the knowledge that someone thinks I am special enough to invest in for a lifetime…darling, you don’t know what you have given me by asking me to share your life with you.

I am so blessed to have someone who loves and cares for me as a prized possession, yet at the same time respects me as a person. I can’t wait to be your family (even if it means making lunches and suppers and breakfasts sixty more years). To be with you every day will be a privilege and a joy. I hope you feel the same way.

buc and Lindsey