For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Hard Thing is Remembering How Easy You've Got It

Lots going on here at the Phillips Casa today.

Yesterday I put my husband on a plane and sent him to Virginia. This morning I received the call that he had arrived safely and the internment had already been held. My mind still thinks I'm too young to have a husband interred somewhere.

My dog is dying. After five days of Fred refusing to the eat the food that is good for his liver, even the vet said to get him to eat just anything, but it really doesn't matter since he no longer keeps his meds down.

My children's insurance is being cancelled.

I have to decide whether to fix the present heating system in my house or spend a few extra thousand and cut my bill by nearly half.

The 401k I inherited needs to be addressed concerning the investments for next year.

My youngest is sick with some head cold/sinus thing, so I didn't sleep because of his coughing and snorting.

Today WonderGirl and I had to decorate the cake for the baby shower he was going to do but couldn't because someone with a fever doesn't need to be decorating cakes.

So we did the baby shower cake and the devilled eggs and the pies and the rum cake and the dressing and...

And the dressing for church is ready too.

That's today's list.

Now, before you get all dressed up for a pity party, don't. I don't want to hear, "I'm sorry you have to deal with that." Everyone deals with this. This is just life. The challenge...the fatiguing dealing with it by myself.

It's easy when you are married to become complacent in your gratitude. It's easy to become condescending in your arrogance. It is easy to take things for granted. In fact, it's easy to become flat out blind to the ways the other person makes your life better.

It is easy to focus on all the ways a person offends. It is easy to see the whiskers in the sink or the same meal every Friday night. It's easy to get tired of his watching football or get tired of hearing her talk about stuff that isn't really important to you. It's easy to build walls with our list of ways our spouses aren't perfect or don't meet every single need. It's easy to wallpaper our psyches with the ways we feel hurt, offended, or disinterested. It's easy to let our gripes build siege works against our marriages, and when we do, spouses become the enemy, and our family becomes the casualties.

It takes effort to be thankful. It takes effort to remember that husband who can't pick up his underwear out of the bathroom mows the yard and keeps it looking nice. It takes effort to remember that woman who has babbled on for an hour about her friends' latest drama is also the one who did the laundry so you have clothes for work. It is a choice to be thankful for the man who put gas in your car, picked up milk on the way home, fed the kids hotdogs and chips and camped with a movie so you could go out with friends. Is it the ideal quality time? Maybe not what I would want him to do every night, but just this one time, can you look at the man who is trying, the man with one kid in his lap and the other by his side under his arm, the man who doesn't know how to be the "perfect" husband but is glad you are his wife and be thankful he killed the spider and paid the bills and dealt with the plumber?

It is a choice to be thankful for the woman who sweeps and mops, buys the groceries, and makes dinner. Are hamburgers tiring every Friday night? I'd probably want something different, but today, can you  see the woman who deals with the school issues, the woman trying to balance disciplining the kids and encouraging the kids while sometimes not even liking them, the woman worried that she isn't as pretty or thin or whatever as she used to be...and maybe not as attractive to you as she used to be, the woman makes sure you have razors and toilet paper and soap in the shower and be thankful for her?

I don't know what "little things" your spouse does that makes the difference in your home, but I know it's easy to take it for granted. It's easy to stop seeing the blessing and instead see the bother. It can be a lot easier to gripe than to be grateful.

I'm not going to tell you that in light of this week being Thanksgiving you should thank God for this person who does these things that make life easier and sweeter. I'm going to tell you it's right now, and you should thank God for the person who does these things that make life easier and sweeter. I'm telling you tomorrow when your spouse is the human that makes you roll your eyes or close your ears or wish he/she were different, don't. Just don't. Don't roll the eyes. Don't close your ears. Don't wish he/she were different. Those are the stones that build hard hearts. I'm not saying don't address conflict. Address conflict, but do it with a heart of gratitude for this person. Do it with the goal to appreciate this person, not win against them. Your spouse is not the enemy. Forgetting the value of each other is.

Your spouse does not make your life hard. Your forgetting your spouse is a gift makes your heart hard.

The anecdote is gratitude...not for the big stuff, but for the everyday stuff because that is where life is lived. That is where life is made. You want to make your life with your spouse wonderful? Be hugely grateful for the little things.

May God open your eyes to see the greatness of the gift and may you extend the gift of great gratitude.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Peace of Mercy

I pulled out of my driveway at 7:15 this morning to make the nearly two hour drive to my vet's clinic. My dog spent a second night there last night. SuperWonderFred is sick, sick enough to die.

My Favorite Big Dog is having liver problems, and he's too sick for a biopsy which would give a more definitive diagnosis, so Dr. Margaret is trying to get the symptoms under control so she can get to the problem. The ultimate problem is not matter what she does, he may die.

I've cried a lot over that dog the last two days. I toss and turn at night because he's not lying on the floor beside my bed, his snoring soothing me to sleep. I walk in the door, and he's not there to meet me with a tail wag and a shove of his muzzle into my hand. His deep throaty bark doesn't fill the backyard. It's different, and it's not a good different. It's a hard different, and yet, it's a peaceful different.

 I've spent a lot of time praying over Fred, not just in the last few days but over the last few years. Fred has hip problems. He has had them since he was a year old. Some days it is hard for my big dog to pull himself up off the floor, and there are days when it is impossible for him to get on the large ottoman that gives his stiff joints a reprieve from the cold cement floor. Several months ago, Dr. Larry tried some meds to help with the pain. Thankfully, I didn't get the prescription refilled yet because, you guessed it, those meds are hard on the liver. Even before that, I worried, though, what happened when the meds didn't really help anymore or the joints just got too stiff? How would I know when the pain of being Fred was too great, and how would I know exactly what to do? How would I know the merciful thing?

In the last four years I've learned a lot about mercy. I've learned mercy does not give us what we deserve. I've also learned mercy delivers us from how bad it could be. Mercy isn't always the answer we want, but it is always the answer we need.

Mercy knows what is coming and delivers a person--or a Fred--before the worst hits. Mercy is big picture kindness.

On the way to the clinic this morning, I expected the phone to ring and Dr. Margaret to be on the other line to break the news that Fred had died in the night. He really was that sick yesterday. Even if the phone call didn't come, I knew today could be a day of hard decisions that really weren't decisions at all  but acknowledgment of the undeniable. I took the blanket Fred and I lie on when his joints hurt too much to move much, and I tried to prepare myself to lie down with my Big Dog one more time and simply let him go to sleep. This morning wasn't that morning, but we are far from being out of the woods, and eventually that time will come. Without an act of God, liver disease will kill My Favorite Big Dog.

So I pray for an act of God. The act of mercy.

I ask for God to do what is best because there are no good solutions, not any any of us want anyway. We want the pain free, fear free, death free, and there is no such thing on this earth, and we hate the truth, but the truth is this: there is always a best solution. We don't have to like it. Sometimes it rips our hearts out, but it is still the best solution.

The only solution that can make anything any better is love poured out in mercy.

So I pray for mercy knowing it may mean I will never hear SuperWonderFred snore by my bed, I may never walk into my house and feel his muzzle in my hand, his throaty bark may never fill my backyard again. I pray for mercy knowing this morning was good, and tomorrow I may get a call he's gone.

As I write that my eyes burn with tears, and my chest tightens because this is the companion who has let tears fall on his fur, laid with his head in my lap while I mindlessly rubbed my hand down his side and stared blankly into the world of can't-believe-how-much-has-gone-wrong, and moved from room to room just to be near me. He is love in a furry package with big brown eyes and a tail that can clear a coffee table in one motion. He's my Fred, and I can't imagine the silence of his not being here.

And even as the tears fall, the peace holds.

The peace that the Almighty God who gave me the gift of Fred knows how to give the gift of mercy to Fred.

I don't know what that mercy looks like. All I know is I've seen enough of God's mercy to know it may not be the answer I like, but it is the answer that is good. And in that goodness, my heart finds peace.