And now I love a homeless donkey.

I think I know myself pretty well.  

After all, I have faithfully been with me since day one. I haven’t left my presence for even a moment. That’s more than I can say for any of you by the way.   It is this familiarity with myself that surprised me when I encountered Flash.

We have a golden doodle puppy.  

Everyone who sees her has  the same involuntary “Awwww (cute!)” noise come out of their mouths.  I don’t think they could stop themselves if they tried.  The noise I make sounds similar but is more along the lines of “Awwww (why did we get a puppy?!)”  I know, I know.  I am a terrible human and my heart is three sizes too small. Maybe someday I will change. At this point though, I only know she smells like a dog (go figure), she licks my shins when I put lotion on (sick) and I can’t put the tupperware away in the low cabinet without her biting my face.  

To sum up: animals are not my total favorite.  

Then my friend Rachel wrote a book about a donkey that showed up at their house one night . Annnnd she wanted me to read it.  I knew I would like it because I know Rachel,  And while I loved the randomness of the stray donkey story, I still wasn’t sure (knowing my special feelings about animals) that a donkey story would do it for me.

Meeting Flash

Well, I am happy to say I think my heart grew at least a one size after reading this book. Baby steps, right?  The book highlights 11 lessons Rachel learned as a result of Flash moseying onto their property to stay.  Each chapter is told so well that I found myself both nodding in agreement and laughing so loudly I was afraid I’d wake the kids. I was impressed with how honestly she told about some very hard struggles she was experiencing personally around time time Flash arrived.  I was even more impressed when she would seamlessly connect the struggle to a funny or perplexing antic from Flash and draw a very applicable life lesson from it.  

Her descriptions of the donkey are so vivid you can practically see him.  And she speaks of him so endearingly, you love him right away.  Yes, even I loved him which speaks highly of her writing skills.  I'm hoping her next book will be about my puppy...   

One more thing- It's Giveaway Time!

Because you are my people, I want to share Flash with all of you. I’m giving away a copy of this sweet book to one lucky winner!  To enter, leave a comment answering the following question:

Have you ever learned a life- lesson from an animal?  What was it? If you never have, what's wrong with you?

Just kidding about that last part.  I couldn't help myself.

Leave your comment to enter and watch this short book trailer to see Flash in "person."

top ten things i've learned from a decade of marriage

We did it.  Married for ten years! We’ve lived in two countries, three states and nine houses. His favorite song is “On the Road Again.”  I did not know at first that he took it literally.

Here is a list of what I’ve learned from him this decade:

1. Being kind doesn’t take extra time. I get very focused on tasks and can get snippy with people while I’m working.  Eric gets the same tasks done while still being sweet as a sugar cube.  When I’m in a hurry, niceness is the first thing I throw overboard in an effort to lighten the load.  My husband throws off tasks so he can stay nice.  Revolutionary.

2. “It doesn’t have to be done today or tomorrow.” This quote will be on his tombstone.  When we were first married, I broke into a cold sweat when he’d respond to a request with this comment in his slow southern drawl. I am typically on the impulsive side but after a decade of this response and seeing how well this thing called “waiting” works for him, I’m becoming a believer.

3. Dress T-shirts.  Did you know about these? To the untrained eye, these look like regular t-shirts as there are no collars or special ruffles -but don’t be fooled.  They have a special “dressy” quality that only Eric can discern. Annnd when he puts one on, he’s as dressed up as he gets.

4. I am loveable.  I have family who loves me.  I have fantastic friends.  Before Eric I had never had a boyfriend who genuinely cared about me.  I have enjoyed relaxing into the safety and security of this relationship more with each passing year. Ahem. That’s as mushy as I get.

5. Being fully present. He talks to everyone at garage sales.  He does magic tricks for kids at dinner parties.  He takes advantage of every moment and engages with people.  Like I said before, as someone typically focused on tasks, I find this remarkable and refreshing. 

 6. It is possible to go years without buying yourself any new clothes.  It’s a marvel.  I periodically buy him new clothes just because My eyeballs get tired of looking at the same old dress t-shirts.

7. All the things about sailboats.  He’s got a knack for turning all conversations around to sailboats.  Talking about roast beef?  “I wonder how many cows you could fit on a 40 foot sailboat?” Is the conversation topic giraffes?  Algebra?  He can turn it into a sailboat conversation.  I promise.

8. Language is fluid.  If the right word eludes him, he doesn’t waste time thinking of it, he simply substitutes the first word that comes to mind. The other day he couldn’t think of the word for treadmill so he just called it a walkabout machine.  What?! Are we Australian now? And then laughed at ME when I got confused...

9. Freedom in music.  I trained and competed in musical circles until I was 20.  For me, music involves precision, purpose, and lots of practice.  Not for my husband.  He has written and performed rap songs and polkas for me.  He wakes up singing.  He sings while running to catch a plane.  And best of all, when he doesn’t know the words he just makes something up.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a 'Walkabout Machine Waltz' was in my future. 

10. There’s always time to play a little ukulele.  Being someone whose hobbies include picking locks, tying intricate knots and perfecting magic tricks, I wasn’t surprised when he recently took up the ukulele.  He’s actually quite good now and gives our landlocked house an island feel.

We couldn’t be more opposite but I also don’t think it would be possible for us to have more fun.  I am truly blessed.

What is something wonderful and surprising you’ve learned from your spouse? 

Embracing Today's Thorn

I like to think of myself as an honest person.  I will tell you just about anything you want to know.  More than you want to know probably.  

Example: the first time my husband ever called me (to ask me out on a date- how cute!) his first question: "What are you doing?"  Pretty regular question.  My response, not so regular. 

My reply went something like this: "I really wanted brownies but I didn't have an electric mixer.  Since I am a poor college student, I don't have any money to buy one.  So I decided I needed to sell some of my clothes to get some money.  I've done that, and now I'm on my way to Walmart to get the mixer.

Wow.  In hindsight I realize I could have just said I was driving...

My time in China furthered my TMI illness because the Chinese will ask just about anything.  Annnd I am more than happy to answer.  How much do you weigh? How much money do you make?  How much money do you have? 

Taking this a step further, I also don’t mind talking about my personal struggles from ages ago because, well, they are from ages ago.  While they've impacted who I am today, they are not part of my everyday story at the moment.  

Despite being astoundingly willing to share just about anything, I can't seem to make myself talk about my current issues though.

 I’m over at Velvet Ashes today sharing my embarrassingly elementary epiphany about why I can’t seem to share as freely about my today struggles. Join me?

late on purpose

In high school I sang competitively.  My sophomore year I was 4th in the state of AZ, junior year 3rd and my senior year I was 2nd.  My audition score was 99/100 and a (stinking) sophomore  got 100/100.  I missed 1st chair by one point.  One point, people!  But since I’m not the least bit competitive, it hasn’t bothered me *at all* these past 17 years. But I digress...

Once you made the choir (and sat in the seat right next to the first chair), you had to be on time.  If you were 1 minute late to a rehearsal, you were kicked out.  No questions asked, no second chances. I am being literal.  Years of practice could be erased in seconds.  This level of absurdity can only result from a culture that highly values punctuality.

It is the ingrained cultural value of punctuality that caused everything in me to rise up in protest against what I read this morning.  You’ve maybe heard of Lazarus and Mary and Martha.  They were all siblings and happened to be very dear friends of Jesus’.  Lazarus was dying and the sisters sent word to Jesus to please return to the city and save him. A very reasonable request in my humble (but accurate) opinion. 

Since Jesus loved Lazarus and the sisters were asking Him to come, He obviously jumped up and immediately left on the day long journey back to Judea.   Maybe He’d even teleport Himself to make better time.  Or at the very least run super-fast so that nothing but a row of flames remained where his feet had trod.  Nope. Jesus’ remarkable response: to stay two more days where he was.  What?!  I’m sorry, buy according to W.W.J.D. logic, Jesus didn’t even do what Jesus would do.  

This tells me two things about Jesus:

1. He has his own agenda. He does not work on our timeline and He is not trying to make us happy.  He knows (just as well as any parent) that giving someone what they want, exactly when they want it, is NOT the way to help them become a decent human.  It’s the way to make a monster.  See also, Veruca Salt.

2. His apparent inaction is not from a lack of love for us. It’s just the opposite actually.  We know from several different scriptural accounts that Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus dearly.  When he arrived to Lazarus’ grave, John 11:35 tells us Jesus was so moved that He wept.  (That is the shortest verse in the Bible by the way for any lazy memorizers out there) 

Seasons of our life can seem much more valley-ish than mountain top.  I know for me, my divorce when I was 22 years old was definitely one.   And more recently, our 6 years of infertility.  We all endure hard seasons of waiting on God to move and pleading with Him to revive dead things.  Sometimes He comes “in time.”  But sometimes things die.  People.  Relationships.  Dreams.  

Be encouraged though.  This story reveals that God is very involved in our messy lives.  He holds our tears (Ps.56:8).  He knows the tears you’ve shed on your kitchen floor and in Doctor’s offices and in court rooms.  You are not forgotten today.  You are held.

Incidentally, if you know someone who is struggling big-time today, maybe you can encourage them with one of these meaningful gifts from Bottle of Tears?  

What perceived “immediate need” of yours is God taking “two days” to answer?  I dare you to trust God and His timing.