Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Are You Still With Me?

I know, I know. I've been slacking. I really do enjoy getting comments on my blog posts, but you can't keep commenting on the same post forever, right? I'm sorry. I've just gotten so caught up in day-to-day nonsense that I'm not taking the time to do the things I truly enjoy, like spilling my thoughts out for all of the world to read (or least the 5 or 6 of you who actually read my blog. By the way, thanks for reading.).

There has been a personal problem weighing on my mind pretty heavily within the past few weeks and I'm seeking some advice. I'd love to hear from someone who has some experience with this kind of issue. Let me explain....

I have (or possibly had, the jury is still out on this one) a friend. Lets call her "Jane" because I certainly wouldn't want to violate her privacy or hurt her feelings by discussing this with all of you. Jane and I met at work in 2001. We became friends and started going to lunch a few times a week. A couple of years later I left that job, but Jane and I remained friends. We would go to lunch or shopping about once a week, sometimes more often than that. I really enjoyed her company. Over time, Jane and I became close friends. We talked about just about everything. I learned that Jane struggles from depression and bi-polar disorder. I struggled with depression when I was a teenager so I can understand that. However, I don't know much about bi-polar disorder.

When Jane first met me in 2001, I would consider myself a "ride the fence" kind of Christian. I believed in God, but I didn't really have any strong convictions about my religious beliefs or what the Bible says. When I was in elementary school, I attended church fairly often, but as I got older I quit going and I didn't read the Bible much. Within the last few years I've felt the Lord working in my life, drawing me closer to Him. I started attending church regularly, I got Baptized, and I joined a Bible study group. The more I learn about God and his Word, the more passionate I've become about having a relationship with Him. I've also become more passionate about the things I believe. I'm a lot more firm in my beliefs these days. I'm not judging anyone, because we are all sinners. However, I'm not afraid to call sin for what it is, sin, even when it is my own sin.

Over the past year or so, Jane and I have had a few times when our friendship has been on rocky ground. These situations usually arise from an email. One day we are shopping and lunching together and she tells me what a great friend I am and how I am like a sister to her. The next day, I mention something in an email conversation, like abortion or politics, and the next thing I know she's telling me that I'm trying to tell everyone how to live their lives. (This isn't the case, by the way. I don't tell anyone how to live their life.) I know that email isn't always the best way to communicate because the written word cannot always accurately reflect the tone of the writer. However, I never considered this to be an issue I had to worry about with a close friend. Friends understand what you mean, right? Jane will turn something innocently said between friends into something hateful and judgmental. Usually, when this happens, after a few days of me explain what I was trying to say, she'll understand what I was saying and that I wasn't being judgemental. I was just having a conversation with my friend. One of the last times this happened, she told me she tends to overreact sometimes and that I needed to call her on it when she did.

Of course I want to bring others to Christ, but I can't do that on my own. God has to call them to Himself. I don't shove my beliefs down people's throat. As a matter of fact, I don't even discuss my beliefs in casual conversation unless the person I'm conversing with brings it up first. However, Jane and I have known each other for 8 years. I've always thought that with a good friend, you can discuss anything, without fear of being judged. Friends don't have to agree on every issue in order to be friends. I have lots of friends and family that have differing opinions. I don't get angry if their opinion is different from mine. They are my friends and family regardless of their religious or political beliefs. My best friend, Angie (real name), and I have been friends since we were 11 years old. There is nothing that she and I don't (and haven't) talked about. Even though we agree on most things, we don't agree on everything. That hasn't stopped us from being friends. It also hasn't stopped us from discussing the things we disagree on without worrying about getting angry at one another. I thought those rules were understood between friends. Am I wrong about this?

So, several weeks ago I got an email from Jane. She was talking about a co-worker/friend of hers that had told her that she thought God had placed Jane in her life for a reason. Jane said she thought it was wonderful to see God working in her life. I was at work when I got the email, so I just quickly replied back that God is always working in our lives and every once in a while we will actually get to see that. Then I mentioned that I had done a Bible study called, "Experiencing God" that had really helped me to learn to see God working in my life and had deepened my relationship with Christ. I said "I know you said you attend a Bible study group at church, may I suggest the Experiencing God series for your group." That was all that was said.

I get a reply from her talking about how everyone needs to live their lives as they see fit and that was okay. I agreed with this statement. I didn't understand where it was coming from, but I do agree that everyone has to live their own lives. She also said she would recommend the series to her group. I replied that I found the course to be very therapeutic and it really helped me search my soul and grow closer to God.

The next thing I know, I get this email accusing me of calling her a liar about the fact that she attends Bible study because I said, "I know you said you attend Bible study at church." She took the "I know you said" as some sort of affront to her honesty. That I didn't actually believe she attended Bible study. Then she went on to tell me that I'm judgemental. I tried to respond logically, reassuring her that I had no reason to doubt the fact that she attends a Bible study group, I was only following a train of thought. I also tried to reassure her that I was not judging her. I was only recommending this series because she said she enjoyed seeing God working in her life and this series helped me to better see Him working in my life. So why wouldn't I suggest this series to my friend? Well, the conversation went downhill from there.

I sent a couple of emails trying to figure out how all of a sudden I was a terrible friend when just a couple of days before she was telling me I was a great friend, that I was like a sister to her. I also reminded her that she told me to bring it to her attention if I thought she was over-reacting to something. Of course, that went over like a ton of bricks.

I just wonder, is it the bi-polar disorder that is causing the problem? I don't think I said anything offensive, especially since Jane attends a Christian church and has a Bible study group.

I haven't heard from Jane in several weeks now. I really miss her, but this "friendship" has sometimes been difficult and caused me great turmoil and heartache. A couple of weeks ago I sent her a card just telling her that I missed her, that I was praying for blessings in her life, and to call if she ever needed me. I also left her a voicemail saying something similar. I've gotten no response from her.

It has totally left me brokenhearted. Someone I love and trusted, someone I considered a good friend, just turned on me. We lunched together, we shopped together, I drove her to and from hospital visits (for an unrelated medical condition) and spent 12 hours in an emergency room with her. I've been there anytime she needed to talk. I thought I was being a good friend. I thought that since she was a good friend, I could discuss anything with her without her taking it personally or as some sort of judgement on her life. However, in this case, I don't think I said anything that controversial. This whole situation has me completely confused. I know that God has this situation under control and I have to trust Him to work it out for His glory. I'm just trying to figure out what went wrong.

Is this something that happens with people who suffer from bi-polar disorder, or am I a bad friend, as Jane says? Maybe you can help me sort through this mess. Let me know what you think.

On to happier thoughts....

This past Sunday I went to the zoo with my sister, my mom, my nephew, and my niece. We had a lot of fun, and of course I had my camera. It was a nice day here in Kentucky on Sunday. It was in the 70s (when it usually in the upper 80s or lower 90s with 50-80% humidity). Since we were having such lovely weather, I thought a day at the zoo with the kids would be fun. Apparently, everyone else in the city thought it would be a good day to go to the zoo. I spent 20 minutes just trying to find a parking space! Despite the delay in the parking lot, we had a nice time. I got some nice photos of the kids and I took some photos of flowers (as seen below), which I am prone to do. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to comment on what I've discussed above or the photos below (or both). Thank you, loyal readers, for keeping me company.

Time to Collect the Pollen

Orange Beauty

White Bloom

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


I have a dog named, Peppy. He is a Toy Poodle. He will be 13 years old in August. I have only owned 4 dogs in my life.

The first dog I had was Misty, another Poodle. My parents got her when I was just a baby. According to my parents, this dog was neurotic and also like to pee on things. They got frustrated with her and gave her to my aunt who gave her to my grandmother. She lived with my grandmother into old age until her untimely demise by my uncle's car. Apparently, Misty liked to chase cars but wasn't prepared for them to go in reverse. So sad.

My next dog was a Samoyed Spitz. His name was Bandit. I got him when I was around 6 years old. I remember the day I got Bandit. I had gone to church with my cousins and when we got off the bus at my aunt's house, my parents were waiting in the car. This beautiful white dog was in the car with them. I was so excited! When we got home my parents asked me what I wanted to name him. He was fond of stealing toys and having me chase him to get the toy. Since he liked to be chased, I called him Bandit like from the movie Smokey and the Bandit (which was one of my favorites at the time). Bandit was a great dog. Every day he would walk with me to the bus stop. When I got home from school he would be waiting for me. He followed me pretty much every where I went. One day, when I got home from school, Bandit wasn't there. I walked the neighborhood crying and calling for him for hours and hours. My parents finally had to drag me in when it got dark. Our next door neighbors had a Samoyed Spitz named Moe. A couple of weeks went by and one day our neighbor came home with her dog in the car. At least, I thought it was her dog. When she opened her car door to let the dog out, he came charging at me and tackled me and covered me with kisses. It was Bandit! She had seen him on her way to and from work a few times. Someone had stolen him and she stole him back for me. I was so happy to have my dog back. A year or so later, Bandit got hit by a car. It broke a few of his ribs and because the tire ran over his face, he went blind in one eye. The eye turned blue. My sister, Wendy, who was just a toddler at the time, was terrified of that blue eye. Anytime Bandit would come around her, she would scream bloody murder. This went on for weeks. Finally, my parents decided they had to find a new home for Bandit because there was no way to convince Wendy there was nothing to fear. I didn't take it well when they gave my dog away. I took it so badly, that my Dad wouldn't let me have another dog.

When I was 16, a friend of mine, Dana, gave me a mutt at a present. She was a little, black, mixed-breed dog. I named her Boston, because I was into the New Kids on the Block at the time and they were from Boston. I only had Boston for about a week. My parents were working out of town at the time and when my Dad found out I had a dog, he went ballistic. He wouldn't let me keep it because he said dogs only caused heartache. They ran away, they got hit by cars, and they died. There was no convincing him that I was old enough to deal with these kinds of things. He still was remembering my reaction to losing Bandit. So, I had to give Boston back to Dana. It was a sad day.

In 1997, my grandfather called my Dad and asked him if my Mom wanted a dog. It seems my grandfather, who lives in Florida, had got himself the cutest Poodle puppy, formally named Pierre, but called Peppy. My grandfather loves to travel and drives every where he goes. Well, my grandfather quickly learned that his new puppy didn't like to travel in cars! He couldn't leave him in the kennel all of the time and he didn't want to traumatize the dog by making him ride in the car for hours and hours at a time. So, he called my Dad. My mom had been talking about getting a dog for a while, but my Dad had resisted the idea. Apparently, the whole Bandit fiasco traumatized him more than it did me! However, he relented and my grandfather brought Peppy to us. I was still living with my parents at the time while I was attending college.

Peppy and I bonded immediately. He slept in my bed, he followed me around. We played together, we sat together. Later that year, I decided to move to Arizona. I didn't feel like I could take Peppy with me, because technically he was my Mom's dog. So, I had to leave him. A couple of months later, my Mom called and said, "I'm sending your dog to you!" Apparently, Peppy wasn't too pleased that I moved out and started destroying things. He was chewing up shoes and shredding newspaper. He chewed the cord to the vacuum cleaner in half. He's lucky that it wasn't plugged in at the time! He would get on top of the coffee table and knock everything into the floor. He was acting out because I left. So, she put him on a plane and sent him to Arizona. He's been with me ever since.

I love this little dog so much! I don't have children, so my dog has become like my child. Every day when I get home, he is waiting by the door, sneezing and smiling (yes, he really smiles!). He still sleeps in my bed every night. All he wants is to love us and to be loved. His love is unconditional. He is so intelligent. He understands lots of words. He's a little spoiled, but is that really so bad?

Let me tell you about the smiling. Not long after we got Peppy, I noticed how excited he got when I would get home from work or school. He would be waiting by the door, sneezing and showing me his teeth. Also, if I would talk sweet to him, he would show me his teeth. Finally, I realized that he was smiling at me! He will smile whenever I talk sweet to him and he smiles when I get home. I can't help but laugh every time I see him doing it.

Peppy is about to turn 13. The average life span for a Toy Poodle is 12-15+ years. I know that someday within the next few years, my Peppy is going to leave me. I dread that day, but until then, I will enjoy every moment that he is with me. He is still in good health, but he is developing cataracts. So, at some point he may lose his sight. He is such a sweet dog. He loves to be pet and will sit right next to or in your lap for hours and hours. He loves to run and play in the back yard and he is particularly fond of chasing squirrels. He has never caught one, though. He loves to play with kids, but he is very nervous around babies and toddlers. They have a tendency to pull his years and poke his eyes. He doesn't like taking baths or going to the groomer, but he doesn't fight you on it. After his grooming appointment, he will prance around showing everyone how pretty he is. If you tell him how pretty he looks, that will get him prancing around even more. I believe that Peppy thinks he is a human. He has absolutely no interest in other dogs. He'd rather hang out with people. Whenever we have company, he expects that they will pet him. He has no concept that some people don't like dogs (weirdos). That is probably because he doesn't realize that he is a dog. Now that he is getting older, he is a little more grouchy. He has never bitten anyone, and I don't think he ever will. But he will growl to let you know that you are bothering him in some way. Especially if you move him or shift him while he is sleeping. We can forgive him for that since he is about 91 years old. I think we may all be pretty grouchy when we get to be that age.

I love dogs and I think they make the greatest pets. Peppy is more than just a pet, he is a member of the family. Any true animal lover, especially dog owners, know what I'm talking about.

If you have a great dog, please drop a line and tell me about him/her.

Peppy Running in the Back Yard