#WELCOME HOMELESS

How did I get there? That was the question, I never thought I’d find myself in a situation like this. Standing at a street light holding my sign… needing the help of strangers. I tried to stay positive I pushed the corners of my mouth up into a semblance of a smile and did my best imitation of a human.

Before walking out to my spot I had found a friend who had found a nice church group by the South 1st Street Bridge, he swallowed down a bite of the taco they gave him, “Hey man, go get some, they’re giving it away, no hassle and they’re not preaching at you.”

I went and got in line and they had so much food, enough to feed everyone, “What would you like?” asked a smiling face at the taco truck. Something in her eyes, the giving, she looked at me like I was human, and seeing all that food, I broke down.

I tried to hold it together but some tears rolled down my cheeks. “Do you have bacon and cheese?”

She looked deeper in my face and then carefully looked around, she slipped two tacos in my hands, “Now go get some coffee sir, it’ll help take the chill off.” She held my gaze for a brief moment, I couldn’t respond, for fear of sobbing right there for the heart of this woman. I looked away and focused on my feet so that I could force out a, “God bless you ma’am.” before the emotion could hijack my words.

Some folks were gathering near a table so I took my hot coffee and tacos (well what was left of them as I had wolfed through all of one and was trying to savor the second) over to see what was going on.

There was a man talking about homelessness and how God could help people to get out of homelessness. He was talking about a book he wrote and he was really into it. It was nice to see his passion and someone who cared so much. I listened to him for a while but then I knew I needed to get to my spot so I could take advantage of the rush hour traffic and get at more people.

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So there I was, college education, even a master’s but at a the corner of Caesar Chavez and South 1st, with my sign, at least my belly was full and the warmth of the coffee would probably hold on until the sun came up and warmed us all. I started on one side of the street and had a little bit of success with the folks stopped at the light but I realized that I could reach more by standing in the median. I tried to hold my sign high, and with pride, and like I said the corners of my mouth pushed up in the brightest smile I could muster and forced eye contact with the drivers.

So many drivers just looked away, pretended they couldn’t see me, but I noticed their quick glances, sideways looks at something (not someone) they didn’t want to believe was real. Others would at least smile and wave, and the warmth I felt was from more than the coffee, those smiles, those waves, made me feel human at least, it felt good to be noticed.

But the good ones, the ones I really needed were those that rolled windows down to exchange a “hello” at least or a “good morning.” Those quick kind words were worth more to me than any money I could hope to get, but the transactions that passed through those open windows were also very much what I needed.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though, there were some honks, some middle fingers, some scowling dirty looks, as if I was there by choice, as if I didn’t have to be there by the street, cars rushing by depending on the kindness of strangers. One man decided to go past mere gestures or looks.

It was right after I was chatting with four twenty something girls, they had all the windows down and music was pumping to the outside world. I looked inside and saw all four girls dancing, I started grooving to their music and walked up. They giggled and laughed as they saw me dance up to the car. Some good mornings passed and they asked what I was doing, “Stop light dance party,” I replied as I reached back in time to my high school days of doing the wave.

“That’s so cool that you’re so happy,” came through the music from the back seat as they laughed and then a quick transaction through the window right before the light turned green.

The next car slowed despite the green light and the dark tinted window of the shiny new truck rolled down. The first thing out the window was anger, “What the #$%# do you think you’re doing?”

“Sir?” I was a little startled by the sudden shift in moods.

“Bothering people, out here begging for help…. it’s disgusting.”

The traffic was backing up behind him, for some reason it made me nervous that traffic was getting held up. “I’m sorry sir, I understand, may God bless you on your journey.” Cars were starting to honk behind him.

“God bless me? I go to church for my blessing! #$#^  you, you piece of trash, get off the street!” I had to jump back quickly away from the car as he squealed off. The cars behind went past as sluggishly as I was recovering from the verbal assault.

A little shaken but still needing people the corners of my mouth were a little heavier as I lifted them to what hopefully looked like a smile. Honestly though, it wasn’t long before a real smile was there because so many folks stopped and smiled and waved and gave what they could through their windows, sometimes just a kind word, but those who witnessed what the man had said were extra kind.

Then after the light changed again and a fresh batch of strangers was before me it was back to the routine. Eye contact, smile, lift sign, wave… sometimes smiles and waves returned sometimes not… sometimes more cursing, sometimes just indifference.

After a couple hours traffic thinned and I knew it was time to take my sign and leave. I walked back to where the tacos were and several people thanked me for being there, my friend who told me about the tacos in the first place especially, “Thanks man, it means a lot that you all came out here for us.”

You see I wasn’t panhandling for money, but for awareness. My sign a tool of the young folks on social media a hashtag… indicating #WELCOME HOMELESS.

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The man I heard talk was Alan Graham who founded Community First Village to help people get themselves out of homelessness. This event was attended by volunteers, formerly homeless folks, as well as some folks still trying to work out of homelessness.

 

The transactions that occurred through the windows were me handing little business cards detailing the book that Alan had just written about the need we all have to be connected to God, as well as some stories of homelessness and recovery. The conversations you just read were all real, even the angry man, and honestly my heart broke for him. Regardless of his opinion, that much anger makes me worry for a person and I pray for him. Part of me wanted to curse back at him and meet his anger with some vengeful and eloquent cursing of my own (I am a talented and creative cusser from my time in the Army: recovering cusser of course) but something about his anger moved me to grace rather than anger. For all those who didn’t understand our message I hope they find what can help them find some joy.

At any rate the story isn’t exactly over there, I decided that I wanted to continue spreading the message. I was at the Lady Bird Lake running trail already, and I wasn’t ready to go to work yet.

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I ran the trail with my sign. I ran past most of the folks who participated and they all cheered, I ran past the corner I had occupied, and throughout the whole trail I got smiles, thumbs up, and peace signs (there may have been some who wanted to flip the bird but they didn’t have a car to protect them from real life). I was thinking along the trail about homelessness and the times I’ve been less than a paycheck away from losing my place, the times I’ve slept in my truck because of choices  I’d made (the same sort of choices that put me a week out of getting kicked out of apartments) and was too embarrassed to ask family for help.

I thought about the angry people and how pleased I was that I responded in grace and not anger, then I was nearly done with my run and I saw my vehicle parked. Heat flashed on the back of my neck…. I realized I still don’t know anything.

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I walked up to my jeep that cost more than lots of people will see in a few years if not decades of working, the jeep that would take me back to my heated and air conditioned apartment for a hot shower before going to my challenging, rewarding, and well paying job. I realized that it was easy for me to respond to anger with grace because I wasn’t hungry and in desperate need of food or shelter, because I hadn’t faced the same anger and rejection every morning as I tried to survive the streets of the city. I once again was faced with my hypocrisy.  I was a tourist of homelessness, I was trying to help, but I still hadn’t really experienced anything.

I got a new respect for my friends out at the Community First Village and a greater respect for Alan who started the whole thing. I still haven’t read his book, but it’s on my list, I’ve gotta get through “The Shack” and then I’ll be nose deep in Welcome Homeless.

So, hypocrite? Yes, did I make a huge difference? No, but neither of those aspects of this day will stop me from trying. The only false thing about this story was that my smile was forced, the entire time I was out there I was so filled with the love I have for God and His gift of confidence to me to get out and try that I was beaming and probably almost glowing with joy.

The bible verses that really stick to me on these times are obvious,

John 21:17– Feed my sheep.

and

Matthew 25:40– Whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.

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Water Under the Bridge

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Under the bridge the water will flow                                                                                                   Like pains that the heart learned to let go

Above the bridge                                                                                                                                          Sunflare                                                                                                                                                           Brilliantly it glows

Shining guidance                                                                                                                                        to repair                                                                                                                                                           Resiliency in shadows

Water under the bridge                                                                                                                               letting go of shame                                                                                                                               Toward a new sunset                                                                                                                                    walking free from blame

Bright future and dark past hanging in the air                                                                                  Stuck                                                                                                                                                             Held fast between hope and despair

In each moment, each breath

There hangs a choice, a question                                                                                                        a test

Go back? Upstream?                                                                                                                              Back to familiar pains, relief

Or let go?  To the light?                                                                                                                                  Forward, feeling joy  even through  grief

To stop

To start

Another chance to  view

To stop

To start

As something made brand new

 

O.k. so even though there are clouds in this photo you will be thankful to see not a single stanza or rhyme about clouds so  showing my range right? (I did tinker with a little bit of cloudy present between future and past, clouds like pain, never meant to last… sorry I couldn’t help it!)

At any rate when I saw this sunset after dropping off my kids at their mom’s it made me think of the thousands of choices we have every day…. then the thousands of wrong choices I’ve made…. and the tens of right choices (nearly tens)…

Every moment of our life is a chance and I really love that thought because it means I don’t have to be defined by the wrong I’ve done, I can start writing a new definition with every passing breath.

The one big choice we can make is defined by 2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!

I wonder should I have a distinction between my poems and me talking about my poems… I was hoping that the poetry would sort of let you know when it’s over, even though I don’t let it speak for itself. Either way thanks for stopping by, there are so may broken people out there (one is in here… in my head) but there is so much healing available. Don’t be afraid to be broken, because then you can be built back up!

 

Broke Down Blossom

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Blossom down

Landing on

Forgotten ground

Just like love lost

A heart tossed

Aside                                                                                                                                                   Shoved by

Pride

Hearts held back

Hearts weak hearts slack

A small room, where damage lives

A small piece that I could never give

Like a blossom dropped from the dozen

Like a piece stopped, held frozen

But in it danger dwells

And the need only swells

I grasp at the stems

Desperate for control

Fists clenching my soul

Bloody briars sting my skin

Exposing liar’s sin within

I am the weak the broken flower

Need takes over, stealing power

I give in                                                                                                                                                       She gave up

In love she left

 

discarded

The blossom on the floor

 

I can’t tell if that poem is happy or sad… both maybe?

I think I have always worshiped women… The statement by itself sounds amazing I suppose, who wouldn’t want to be worshiped? Well, it’s how that worship is put into practice that is the problem. I loose myself… I pour myself into the worship… only I hold a tiny little bit back.

That tiny little bit is the part of my heart/mind that clings to my victim attitude, that holds to old habits, and that whispers in my ear at night, “You’re gonna loose her.”

 

Fear made me worry, worry turned to anxiety, anxiety turned to acting out, and soon I had created the exact situation I feared so much…

Welp, I’m done doing that, (o.k. I’m getting ready to start being done…) I’m working on a true and pure love, a love that can only come from/through God and it feels pretty peaceful. How?

Million dollar question baby!

Probably the biggest thing is to trust God. I’ve seen some amazing movement in my life and I had a revelation that was/is mind blowing the other day. I’ll share it with you sometime (look at me building suspense!) when I can think of how to tell the story without sounding bat *poopie crazy. (I’m also trying not to curse these days, which requires heroic effort and vocabularic control)

For now I try to remember what love should be and the following helps me to stay focused on exactly that.

1 John 4:18-19

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
 We love because he first loved us.
*I’m also trying not to curse these days, which requires heroic effort and vocabularic control

My Version of Humble….

*

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As you may have been relieved to notice I haven’t posted much lately. Nope, not so much as a hacked out haiku about a flippin’ fluffy white cloud, or a prosaic personal story about growth, redemption, or what an ahole I’ve been (or am being)… etc.

For any interested it’s because I’m learning a new skill; web development… Yep as a huge fan of Spider-Man growing up it was bound to happen (see what I did there?). It is so amazing to be a man of a certain age trying to learn something brand new. Frustration and Satisfaction frequently  trade places.

It does remind me though, of my teaching days when I just couldn’t get why a kid just couldn’t get what I was teaching. If only back then I would have been trying to learn something new. You see I’ve never heard teachers gravitating toward a subject he or she hated or even one that didn’t come naturally to us. So, it is easy to forget the frustration and difficulty of learning something new.

But I digress, so you have not been assaulted by my alliteration lately because rather than write poetry or prose I have been writing in languages new and unique; html, css, javascript, js node… and  a few others. (and y’all… there’s no spell check!)

I have, however, still been making time for some quick (if questionable) witticisms on facebook and one theme I began was “Stayin’ Humble.” Where I describe a recent or current success and then back it up with a silly slip, facetious failure, or foolish faux pas (whoa, the alliteration can build up and then come rushing out, if you don’t have an outlet!)

Today one occurred to me that relates exactly to new learning and really any journey and it relates to my Bible app

(which I have meaning to tell y’all about because I love it!) So I decided to take a moment to put some words down and hit the old publish button (was that redundant?) and see what y’all thought.

My hubris to humble (yup) post for today was as follows (or close to as follows)

“Yesterday while redoing some of my old assignments I’m realizing that I’m actually getting pretty good at web development, it’s easy sometimes to get lost in the moment of trying to keep up with all the new learning and then forget to look back to where you started so you can appreciate the journey thus far. It gave me some reassurance to my process. So, I’m feeling pretty good about that, but then today I realized that the Online Bible Study I’ve been doing on vanity for the past 4 days is for women, so Stayin’ Humble (although feeling really beautiful on the inside for some reason).”

So, like I said I thought I was writing about my progress in class, but probably also really writing about my progress in recovery (whoa…. subconscious life learning and reflection… BAM!) In the case of my recovery (and really everywhere else) I don’t have to search for ways to be humble because my real humility comes from knowing that all of the good in my life comes from God, and the knowledge that when I try to work my gifts I mess up, (like accidentally jamming my pinky up my nose while washing my face) but when I get out of God’s way amazing things can happen.

Like the scripture on the ring that I always wear now….

 

I can do all things through Christ who is my strength. Phillipians 4:15

 

*The above image is from the youversion bible app, download the app at youversion.com or from the app store or wherever you android users get stuff for your phones…

Heart!

Attack!

goals

Broken

Battered

Disarrayed

Tattered

Stepped on

Dis-repped on

Projected pain

Falling rain

On hearts around

Heart Attacks

the circle attracts

 

Beating fast or slow

with pressure

High or low

Medicated

Dedicated

to something new

Damage?

Done!

Healing from the Son

Of man I weep

Promises to keep

A heart can heal

A heart that feels

True love again

 

Happy Valentimes day!

Wow what a journey, I started this about 7 months ago, honestly to get the attention of someone who walked away from my deceits, mistreats, and lies.

Then I thought I was writing for someone out there, some unknown hurt soldier trying to carry on… carry on through the pain. I was right, except that soldier was me. I started writing based on 25 Bible verses sent to me from someone who introduced me to God’s grace, and it was a good thing to because only God has enough grace for me. I gotta give props to the blog that I um… borrowed these from

25 Encouraging Bible Verses for Stress

I went outside the lines a couple times but today is the entry that uses the last verse from her post. Honestly I’m a little afraid to venture out alone, I’m certainly not done with blogging, but I’ll have to find inspiration and a starting point elsewhere (a rose is a rose is a rose?) I’m a little afraid of letting go of what I thought I was writing for also… but then I remember that He who loves me is bigger than any fear and that I can put my trust in him. God bless!

Joshua 1:9  “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

*yes I know I wrote “valentimes day” it amuses me to mispronounce it   🙂

 

 

 

Your name….

 

heather

Cries out but on my lips it dies

You led me to find a different prize

Always my heart will carry the wound

Of the harm I’ve done, love done too soon

 

My deeds betrayed a heart so dark

Your pure love a gift, that first little spark

Showing  with light that I was him

Who needed change from deep within

 

You left me, go heal your scars

Leaving my love to give afar

I wish you could see His light you’ve stirred

A life with Him that would never occurred

 

The last gift I have for you is  peace

a silent, unspoken, heartbroken release….

 

Well today is tough for me. Even though I don’t feel like I deserve to feel sorry for myself and I guess really I’m not. I was on the brink of sending something anonymously to a past love who I really just want to show some appreciation to for all that she showed me and gave to me.

I didn’t respect and care for that love and to contact her would just cause pain. I had a gift ordered on Amazon… ready to ship… with a cute little note. I realized I was doing it for me and not for her (well mostly for her but also for me I guess…. it’s confusing) before clicking the checkout button I decided to email a friend about it… more than a friend and accountability partner who is also my sponsor in recovery. Waiting for me was an email from him with the following quotation…

Let nothing disturb you.

Nothing dismay you.

All things past.

But God never changes.

Whoever has God lacks nothing.

If you have only God,

You have more than enough.

-Teresa Avila

Wow, how wonderful the way God works, he lifted me out by moving my buddy, and he saved the woman (my ex) from a painful reminder of my actions.

So rather than send something to here I decided to assault y’all with my questionable poetry….. at least this one’s not about clouds right?

I think I will always struggle with love, I will always worry that I am not good enough to receive love….. ouch wow, I don’t know if I’ve ever admitted that before.

The crazy thing is….. I’m not, nothing I ever do will be good enough for Our Father to love me… but he does anyway.

In fact He did something amazing for us all because of that love…

 

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

 

Lines of Power

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Lines of power

Divided

Colored sky

Partition

Provided

Infects mind’s eye

 

People

Separated

Deprecated

Kept always apart

Not allowed to see

Beauty of a Whole

Heart

 

People

Categorized

Compromised

Safely keeping mine near

Prejudice fed

on ignorance and fear

 

Truth

A light so

Bright Beautiful

Blurring the lines

Showing Shadows

In power

As stronger it shines

No more dreading

 

Now

Shedding

Lies of Power

 

Yep, another cloud picture that inspired a little poem of questionable worth. I think we have to be careful of power (only through our weakness can we find strength) and we should be careful about the power that comes from fear. Fear can actually help us to do great things but (if I can quote Mr. Ollivander from Harry Potter, which I think I can)  great but terrible things…

I’m reminded of Romans 12:16 (o.k. I did a google search for community bible verses but “I’m reminded of” has a nicer ring to it don’t you think?)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

 

Ground Hog Day in Texas…

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Explained….

First of all we are actually supposed to go by Bee Cave Bob, the Armadillo who predicts the weather for Texas. Having said that there are some criteria for those who need to interpret the result of either mammalian measure of weather, be it furred or armoured.

When the groundhog sees his (or her, it is 2017, can’t we get a female groundhog by now?) shadow for the rest of the country it means 6 more weeks of winter.  However in Texas this isn’t the case.

In Texas it means 6 more days of winter (not necessarily in a row.) But, that’s only if we’ve had a winter yet by Ground Hog Day (Armadillo Day? I don’t see Bill Murray cracking wise driving with an armored bunny.) If we haven’t had winter yet when the groundhog sees a shadow (I avoided the gender pronoun, look at me keeping up with the times!) then that means that Winter will start for Texas (not necessarily right away) and there will probably be a few days of winter but not more days since we haven’t had any days of winter at all yet. Make sense?

In either case it will mean that we will have some winter days for a few days, then some spring days (anywhere from 1 to 16) and then one real day of winter (temps below 45) then probably a day of summer mixed with some fall days for some reason.

This will, of course continue and Texas will gradually warm up and level off late February (right around my birthday) unless it gets really cold and icy like it did in 2013.  Otherwise it will warm up until everyone thinks it’s safe to move our plants back outside then we’ll get three days of hard freeze, either in early March, or late April, or basically whenever it happens.

After that it’s not just summer, but summer on the sun with temps between 100 and 130, until a norther comes in with its billowing black clouds, pelting sleet, and freezing rain sometime in June like that time I was trying to drop off the trailer at my in laws and nearly froze in my t shirt and shorts (y’all remember right?)

It’s pretty simple really but if you’re not from Texas it might be hard to understand at first so I hope this explanation helped.

O.k. seriously though I decided to be a little silly for this post since I’ve been heavy and dark lately. We obviously have no control over the weather in Texas or anywhere else so it’s easy to accept unpredictable and difficult to understand patterns. In fact here in Texas we joke about it quite often and try to laugh it off. If you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes and it will change…

Our lives are like that also, only sometimes we decide whether our life is fair or unfair or just etc. That part isn’t up to us. God’s work is like the weather (I guess the weather is God’s work?), we can’t predict it, nor can we always (or sometimes ever) understand it. Because I’m learning to trust God in all that he does I am starting to see his work in me. It hasn’t always been easy, sometimes it feels like that icy day in February when my sister called me to tell me, “daddy passed away.”

Sometimes it feels like the warm spring sun on my face as I look up at a beautiful sunset and listen to my kids laughing at the lake. I trust God though, and I remember he works all things for my good, even when my mistakes have cast such a shadow I wish I could hide for 6 months or so… or since I’m in Texas… 6 days?

Romans 8:28  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I forged this Chain

 

Pulling me down

black-out-chains

 

 

The first link a gift
Whispered in the dark
Words wicked twisting
Wrapped around my heart

Actions to be hidden
A crime in the night
My own links forged
Hiding truth from sight

Lies lengthen by links
so long grew the chain
Broken body sinks
Surrender to the strain

In weakness I surrender
as I call out His name
My Savior who renders
me free from this shame

Broken

Links lie scattered
Lies brought to light
a life in tatters
another love taken flight

In Freedom though
His love settles deep
In my heart a new prayer
A greater truth to keep

I realized the other day (it was after I wrote this) that I keep focusing on my lies… almost to the exclusion to the reasons I had to lie. Of course it’s part of the shame cycle, hiding and lying the shame only lets it grow. But I’ve been staring so hard at my lies that it made me go into denial about my actions.

Either way, actions, shame, lies held in and held in the dark grow like so much mold on our hearts, they grow into a barrier between us and God, and therefore between ust and healing.

When I start to think that I’m too broken, too filthy, and that the chain is too strong for anyone to do anything about I remember Jeremiah 32:27

“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me?”

and I know that He can break the chain and shed light on my denial. I just have to remember to ask…

 

Fea or Fe?

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She…. was… ugly.

Ugly to the point where I just wanted to look away, but I couldn’t’. She was in the middle of a busy Houston boulevard and in immediate danger. Cars were rushing past but she was steadfast and focused in a turn lane, wild eyes pointed towards something on the ground.My hero complex kicked in and I knew I had to do something. Not wanting to scare her deeper into traffic I  assumed a very passive and approachable posture as  I crept nearer..

I checked for traffic and crossed to the median, turned my back to her to be less threatening, and lowered my poster down to her level. I called to her in what was not as soothing as a voice as I would have liked, the noise of the traffic required a bit of a shout. To scare her out into traffic would be tragedy so I took minutes for every inch toward her.

Finally between the roar of rushing cars I heard the dry summer grass crunching under her feet as she came closer to investigate… crunch, pause……crunch, pause… and so on until I felt a wet nose on my hand that was stretched out behind me and toward her.

I turned and saw that ugly fell short of describing this creature. From this closer perspective I saw that her skin was covered in angry red spots, her hair was only in patches of 10 or 12 follicles trying bravely to find purchase on her thickened skin.  After a couple of sniffles (hers not mine, I wasn’t a crier yet in this stage of my life) she rolled over on her back with her tail between her legs; doggie body language for, ‘you’re the boss, I trust you.’ I reached out to rub that disgusting belly and hardly cringed when I found her skin sticky with fresh blood. My heart was breaking and I was falling in love even as she swallowed the last gulp of her dehydrated flattened frog.

The joy expressed in her eyes while I rubbed that sticky, rough belly infected me and I hardly had to repress a gag in my throat at all. Right there in the midst of the chaos of cars rushing home in the hot Houston traffic I made friends with the ugliest dog in the world.

At this time in my life I was working as a veterinary technician while I was commuting to finish the last couple of hours of my Zoology degree. My dreams of going to Vet school had gone down with my GPA, which had gone down with too many pints of Sam Adams (I was still drinking then, not crying, still drinking, I know it’s hard to keep up, sorry)  I was above the 2.75 minimum requirement for Texas A&M Vet School, but far below average GPA of those select few they accepted.

But I still loved Vet Medicine and working as a vet tech helped me grow in areas of customer service and real experience in the medical industry. It also helped me with my obsession with rescuing animals ( I also had a diabetic Russian Blue cat and would later get a 3 legged kitten.)

I put a towel in the back seat of my car (the upholstery was vinyl so it was actually to protect the dog not the seat) and took the dog with me to work.

I walked in with her and the first thing I heard was, “Que Fea?!” or “How Ugly?!” from our Venezuelan vet tech. She was right, one language was not enough to describe the ugly on this dog, not only that but she inadvertently gave her a name…. Fea.

We gave Fea her shots and checked for worms and did the skin scraping to test for mange. The demodectic mange (demodex) test consists of scrapping the skin with a scalpel blade in order to get down to the follicle where the mange lives. Then taking the material and smearing it on a glass slide for inspection under the microscope.  It feels about like what you might think a scalpel blade scraping on your skin would feel like scraping on your skin…. little Fea just took all the needle jabbing and poking and scraping and other offenses to check for intestinal parasites. She just kept looking at us with those big brown trusting eyes.

Luckily Fea was negative for all the other worms or diseases other than the mange. Unluckily (I didn’t know that was a word until spellcheck just ok’d it!)  demodex doesn’t respond to topical treatment and is tough to get rid of. When one of the young associate Veterinarians suggested we try a new experimental treatment I was encouraged at the possibility of a faster and more effective treatment. I knew that our Vets always stayed current and at the leading edge of the latest techniques and I was always impressed with their care and concern for animals so I trusted the plan completely because I trusted the doctor completely.

Fea looked like an old boot that someone had spilled red paint on and then tried to get the paint off with a blender, (I don’t know why anyone would put a boot in a blender… it’s artistic license) but after she trusted us through all of the indignities we put her through I knew I had an amazing and special dog on my hands.

The experimental treatment went well, a low dose of heartworm preventative was given every day over a period of time. Conceptually this would bring up the level of the medicine (toxin really but…) in her blood to make any sustenance that the mites took from her would result in a last meal. (I didn’t feel bad at all for the little mangie suns a guns at all!)

The treatment wasn’t without side effects, it would occasionally cause nausea and Fea would barf up breakfast (not until after she moved off the tile kitchen floor onto the carpeting of course.) She was also basically a wild dog and had no concept of inside or out. Combine that with the fact that her upset tummy sometimes took a southerly route of evacuation and you get a dog who would happily look you in the eye, squat and add to the stains on the rug.

The potty training progressed at about the same rate as the treatment and soon the spots on her smooth, shiny fur coat outnumbered those on the carpet.

Most of all, now her outside appearance matched her friendly and beautiful puppy personality, and the name Fea (Spanish for ugly remember?) became shortened to Fe, pronounced like the end of Santa Fe.

What never changed was her brave spirit or her soulful eyes that would look at me with so much tust as she pooped on the rug…. Her spirit inherited from her unknown pit bull parent. Even with that heritage she was always gentle to those she loved, her only aggression was out of protection for those she loved. We used to go to a dog park on weekend mornings and if there was a new or strange dog there she would stay close and do a doggie mean mug until she could tell that the other dog wasn’t a threat, then she’d be off playing and running carfree to find something smelly to roll in.

Her favorite game was to dig up crawfish from near the pond and eat them al la cart in their shells. When I think of her I still see a crawfish hanging from her mouth with one pincher on her nose and the other on her eyelid. She acted like she barely noticed as she crunched away.

Pit bulls can also be stubborn and she was no exception, it gave her the upper hand in several of our battles of will. Especially when it came to bedtime, she thought her place was right next to me and I thought her place was in her $100 dog bed. I would walk in from brushing my teeth and there she would be… head on pillow and wagging just the tip of her tail.

“Down!” I would command standing straight to add dog body language authority.

Her eyes would reply, “O.k. but we both know I’m just getting back up after you fall asleep.” (she had very expressive eyes by the way)

I would drift off to sleep congratulating myself for outwitting a dog only to wake up later absentmindedly patting her soft little ears as she lay right next to me…. Dang!

Her breed gets a bad wrap and I’m not going to argue one way or the other, I do know that I never worried about her, she always seemed to take up for the underdog, or undercat as the case may be. At some point I obtained a three legged tiny little kitten, he was black and white and had black fur over his eyes so obviously I had to call him Bandit (one armed Bandit? anyone?) Fe decided to adopt Bandit as her own as Bandit couldn’t get away from our other dog’s rambunctious playfulness or the other cats’ clawful dejection of his attempts at play.

Bandit would run (well sort of, he only had three legs so… ) to Fe and stand under her for protection and even started nursing from her when she would lie down (it was sort of interspecies creepy and adorable at the same time, but who am I to judge right?)

When my kids came along she was a playmate, jungle jim, and or a pillow depending on the occasion.  On our walks through the woods of Bastrop Fe was always walking point for us and would range back if she heard another dog, or leaves (I said she was brave and loyal, I never said she was smart) that could be a threat.

In her about 12 years she showed me something about gentle toughness; living through being a bloody mess and eating dried frogs to survive, staying happy through nausia of treatment for painful skin mites, and her protection of her loved ones showed me that she was never Fea and always Fe. (Fe stands for iron y’all)

Ugly to Iron and always beautiful.

You know, that’s how God sees us, always beautiful, never perfect, but beautiful just the same. No matter how ugly I see myself God sees me beautiful and that thought puts some Iron in my spine as I take each step on my journey toward healing.

Fe always had a strong spirit but not me. My spirit has been crushed and the Lord was there for me. Just as in Psalm 34:17-19

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”

bobby-and-fe

This is an old picture of Fe and my son having a little nap together. Taken before everything was digital and the photo has taken some damage, but not my memory of that sweet dog.