Fundamental no more

IFB. Independent, Fundamental, Baptist.  A Bible believing, God-fearing church.  A place where you can get old-fashioned preaching, learn about God, find out how to know you’re on your way to heaven, and have more happiness than you ever dreamed possible.  A place where you will want to go every time the door is opened, where you will find the secrets of finding a spouse with whom you will have a blissfully happy marriage, and you will know all the important facts about being a good parent.  A place where you will find deep friendship with other believers, feel joy that you’re spreading the word, and learn what’s really important in life.  A place where you will feel an abject horror at the thought of being “worldly”, and strive to live solely for God.

Oh yes.  It’s also a place where almost everything you do is dictated by the church.  Did you use to like to go to movies?  Well they’re out now.  So is alcohol, dancing, pants for women (at least in church), public school, most tv shows, a lot of books, anything but the King James Bible, any music but old-fashioned hymns (contemporary Christian is frowned upon), and any physical contact, even kissing, before marriage.  You are expected to be in church three times a week, minimum, and thank God for the blessing you have in doing so.  You will tithe 10% of your income, minimum, and of course you will feel incredibly happy to do so.  It will enable God’s work, and heap blessings upon you.  It doesn’t matter if you haven’t been on vacation in years, you’re doing what’s right for eternity.  You will support missions, church camp, evangelists, birthday and Christmas presents for your pastor and his family above and beyond tithing.

When people such as coworkers think you’re strange you’re to take that as a badge of honor.  You are living for God, not for the world!  Rejoice!  You’d better raise your children the Biblical way too.  Spare the rod and spoil the child!  The man is the head of the household…women should stay home and raise the children…make sure your children go to the Christian academy, and then to Bible college, where they will meet a Godly spouse at a young age, marry before they have a chance to explore the world, or themselves, and therefore carry on the fundamental faith.

Speaking of coworkers, you are to evangelize to them.  It doesn’t matter if that’s prohibited by your employer, you are living for a higher power.  When revivals come, you are to bring newcomers, and feel extreme pressure to do so.

You are to never consider going to another church.  If you love God you will stay in the IFB, because theirs is the only true church.  You will get Bible preaching you won’t get in other places, and you will be around other saved people.  If you leave you are condemning future generations to being lost, and going to hell.

When presidential elections come, 99% of IFB’ers vote for the conservative candidate.  They’d sooner cut off their arms than vote for an evil, liberal candidate.  They are brainwashed into believing the conservative choice is the only Godly one.  By and by you find out your own capacity to think, to be your own self, to have your own ideas, is gone.  You live totally for the IFB, and embrace its ideology 100%.  If you did disagree with something you’d keep it to yourself, and feel bad that your heart “isn’t right”.  You’d lament whatever sin is in your life, preventing you from feeling as you should.

If you have any mental health issues…depression, anxiety, what have you, you regard that as a personal failing.  It’s been preached so many times that if you are in church every time the doors are opened, if you’re reading your Bible daily, if you’re tithing, going on visitation, having devotions, avoiding what you should be, etc., etc., etc., you’ll be incredibly happy.  Depression and other mental health problems are a definite sign that you’re not right with God.  Consequently most people who struggle with these issues in the IFB never get the help they need.

Eventually there is a chink in the armor.  Something happens, unexpectedly, and it makes you question things.  Maybe they’re not right about everything.  Maybe, in fact, they’re right about very little.  You start seeing your pastor as less than an all knowledgeable and infallible “man of God”, and instead as someone who rules through fear and intimidation.  Someone who must receive unquestioning respect and complete authority.  Someone who can bring up a grievance from many years before, and have an entire sermon on how horrible it was that he had to remove snow from the parking lot, and publicly flay the deacons for how wrong that was, then smilingly talk about love and forgiveness.

By and by more chinks appear, until there are more chinks than structure.  You miss the music you used to listen to, you don’t believe that when the Bible referenced wine they meant grape juice, you don’t think your children had a good education at the academy.  You don’t believe they’re the only true church.  You think many others are saved, even–gasp–Catholics!  You realize that you have wasted years, or even decades of your life in a lie.  You think of the verse in Matthew 11:30: “For my burden is easy, and my yoke is light”.  Life in the IFB is anything but easy or light.  It’s perhaps one step above being a Hutterite, not trying to disparage them, but to illustrate it, it’s an apt description.

You stop going to Wednesday night and Sunday night services, then by and by Sunday morning ones.  It is incredibly liberating.  You are starting to discover yourself again, what you like and what you don’t.  You are realizing how you don’t have any friends, because all of your friends were in the IFB, and you’ve alienated yourself from other people.  You have a lot of healing, and an incredible amount of change and growth to go through.  It’s almost as if your life hit a pause button when you joined the IFB, and now you have years of catching up to do.

You join an online support group, and it’s so amazing that you know that God led you to it.  It’s filled with people who love God, who are still Christians, but who had years, or decades in the IFB, and the horror stories accompanying them are enough to chill your blood.  It is shocking to realize that these supposedly independent churches are so very alike, and everyone can relate to everyone else’s stories.  Being able to vent and share is healing.  It is worth noting as well that several people on the group are former pastors or deacons, not just members of the church, and even they saw the light. You feel the years of trauma slipping off you, and your heart becoming lighter.  You are becoming who God wants you to be, not the clone you were in the IFB.

I guess I wrote this for two reasons.  First for anyone who is still in the IFB and who wants to get out, there is life afterwards.  Abundant, and better life.  It doesn’t mean that you don’t love God if you leave, nor that your children or future generations are condemned.  These are IFB lies, and ways that they hold you.  Secondly, I wrote this for those who can’t quite understand how someone can change so much in the IFB, and just what this environment is like for them.  It’s basically like being kidnapped, and undergoing Stockholm syndrome.  It’s all so slow that you don’t even realize it’s happening, and there comes a time that you realize you’re fully IFB.  If things have gone right, per the church’s perspective, you will shudder thinking of your “former life” and you will desire nothing more than to be IFB forever.  If you are starting to see the problems and lies of the IFB, it will be the opposite.  You will look with horror and dismay at the person you’ve become.  You will realize that you need to get out, and yet that possibility, and process, is extremely daunting.  It takes tremendous strength, because believe you me they won’t let you go without a fight.  Furthermore, leaving it means surrendering your identity, your friends, sometimes leaving family, and enduring numerous visits from the pastor and deacons, trying to encourage you to “get your heart right” and embrace the IFB again.  Some fold under this pressure, but some are able to find the strength they need, often with help from support groups, and extricate themselves.

I am one of those people.  I was involved with the IFB for ten years, and while it did have some good things about it, I definitely believe the bad outweighed the good.  I look at the policies there as religious brainwashing, and it is not too strong to say that it is a cult.  This, by the way, is popular wisdom among those on support groups.  One common theme in the groups is extreme joy that the IFB is behind them, that they will never be subject again to the extreme rigidity and fear tactics of the IFB.  We all consider ourselves, at this point, very blessed.

I welcome questions, comments, or assistance to anyone who wants to get out.  I realize some might read this, who are happily ensconced in the IFB, and think it’s hateful and heretic.  I think most, however, would agree that this cult, masquerading as a church, is very dangerous.  Wishing love, joy, and healing to all of my friends who have gotten out, and more importantly…to all who remain.

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Words With Friends; an evil scourge

Okay, that may be a little strong.  On the other hand maybe not!  What else can I call something that has taken over my life, prevented me from pursuing hobbies, following passions, and most importantly spending real time with people?  Something that has kept me glued to the couch, for over an hour at a time, staring zombie like at the screen.  Something that has given me a huge thrill for outscoring my opponent, and left me in the doldrums if they outscored me.  Time for a reality check…this is not real life!  Real life is about people, passions, and love.  Spending time doing your hobbies, cooking a delicious meal, going hiking in the woods, having coffee at a sidewalk cafe, reading a wonderful novel that expands your mind, or writing an old fashioned pen and paper letter.  I want to live, not exist, and WWF sucks life out of me.  It’s like hooking me up to an IV that is sucking out vital life force!  So I’m calling it quits.  I don’t know how it hit me.  Certainly when I sat down today, after a hard night’s work, and turned on the computer, I didn’t have any idea that I’d suddenly be sick of it.  I did my usual–browsing through email, the news, Facebook, and then with a bit of giddy anticipation I turned to WWF.  It was great!  I am usually a pretty good player, and I have to guiltily admit that I took pleasure in being so.  I plotted and planned, learned new words, and spent a lot of time, studying the board like a military strategist.

Today was no different.  Except today I had an epiphany.  Sitting on the couch, I suddenly felt sore and tired.  I had been there for about two hours, between watching the news and playing WWF.  I glanced up for some reason, and suddenly my eyes became focused on paints that I had bought months before, inspired by my niece whom I sure doesn’t waste time on idle pursuits like I do.  Her paintings were marvelous, full of passion and life. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on paints and a canvas again, and I remembered how I used to love to paint myself, years ago. It made my heart soar, and had a calming effect on me.  So I stopped at the store on the way home from landing at the airport, and bought supplies.  That very evening I opened them and, for exactly an hour, painted a small picture that brought me joy.  After that the paints sat on my breakfast bar, where I could easily pick them up again.  I was confident that my former passion would be a regular part of my life.

How I wish that had been true.  It wasn’t, by far.  Every day I had something else to do, something to fill all of my time.  I barely even thought of the paints at all, and if I did it was with a twinge of guilt and wondering how in the world I would ever find the time.  I do work a lot, often close to sixty hours a week, but still I’m not always at work.  The fact is, however, I found it way easier to get the cheap fix of WWF, vs. setting up a canvas, mixing paint colors, and determining what to paint.  I could play a few games whenever I wanted, with my feet up and mind on neutral.  It was like a free vacation.

Except the free vacation came with strings attached.  Much like a time share condo, eventually I desired to unload it, and fast.  Yes I still loved playing, but I realized that I was being played, by clever media developers who have learned how to work on the human psyche and encourage us to get on the media treadmill.  I could feel my brain turning to mush, which was no small feat considering that I was playing a game that I hoped would expand my mind.

So I sent a message to each of my opponents, some of whom have become dear friends, telling them that I am taking a hiatus.  It might be, and I plan on it being, permanent.  I’m going to read, take walks, spend more time cleaning, go out to lunch with my son, write letters to my grandchildren, and yes, Evie…yes.  I will pick up my paintbrush again.

 

 

Traci, a tomboy?

Hmmm.  This weekend something happened that made me question a lot about myself, stuff that I’ve been 100% sure about my entire life.  That is, my femininity.  I’ve always been a girly-girl, or so I thought.  I always have, and still do, like pink, and purple, wearing make-up, and nail polish.  Here though, it apparently ends.

For two years now I’ve worked in a department at 3M with all men, save for one other woman for a few months.  I discovered I like that kind of work…it doesn’t bother me one iota to get dirty, grease under my nails, take apart a machine, climb, lift, etc.  In fact I love it!  It’s interesting, and makes me feel like I’m really doing something on the job.  Still, I kind of discounted that, and didn’t think much of it, until this weekend.

At work they asked for volunteers for Habitat For Humanity, to help side a house.  I’ve never done anything like that before, but it sounded fun, and I’ve made it a mission to volunteer more this year, so I signed up.  I happily put on my steel toe shoes in the morning, looking forward to a day to lifting, using tools, and learning how to side.  Whoopee!  Except for, when I got there, the siding was already done!  Apparently they had worked like crazy, and now there was some painting to do indoors, and the men were doing I’m not sure what outdoors.  So, I was asked, nicely, to go help out inside.  It was kind of okay…I had to climb a tall ladder propped up in a stairwell, which the other women were afraid to do.  Since I’m kind of fool hardy I volunteered to do it.  It was definitely nerve-wracking, but was satisfying to get it done.  Then, I painted a bathroom, and basically hung around, waiting and wandering aimlessly while looking for something else to do.  (The house was 90% done, and there wasn’t really a lot of physical labor left to do.)  So I eventually followed the men when they went downstairs to clean it up, and finally got to move and be active, carrying stuff up to put in a dump truck that was backed up to the house.  Yay, I could move and do stuff, and feel like I was contributing!  At that moment it occurred to me…I’d so much rather work with the men, being active, than doing “women’s work”, and talking about “women’s things”, whatever that may be.  It struck me, like a bolt of lightening, how it must have been for our pioneer ancestors.  How some of the women must have longed to go out and work in the fields, or help build a barn, birth a cow, etc., rather than stay inside and cook and sew!!  I always presumed, and in fact felt that I knew without question that I’d love to be a woman in those days, that I’d love to do the inside work.  Now…not so sure.  I’m just so thankful to live in this day and age, when a woman is free to learn new things, whatever they may be…when we’re not bound to social norms related to sexism, but can do what makes us happy.  Same as men being nurses, or elementary school teachers, or women driving a semi, what makes us happy, and our hearts sing should be what we pursue, not what our sex dictates.  I realized that, in a solitary moment, while carrying wood up to a dump truck, on a drizzly Saturday.  We never know when our inspiration will hit.  🙂

Okay, another day…

Well, as you all know, I’m an avid reader, and when I find a book I like I can’t put it down.  Having a Kindle is the single greatest thing that’s happened to me in years, lol!  At any rate, I now read all five types and I am changing what I think I am to metal.  Sure, I have water characteristics, a lot of them, but metal ones are much more me.  Metals (and I think Jon is this too) like to keep to themselves, they absorb an incredible amount of information (almost too much, they feel overwhelmed by sensory data sometimes, and need to decompress later), they are extremely intuitive, and can sense what other people are feeling almost immediately.  People open up to them, because they’re very understanding (think Jon more than me there), and they enjoy deep conversations, versus just fluff.  Oh, and, this is me, not sure about Jon, but they like their house very minimalistic (hello me for sure!!), with NO clutter at all.  Right now I’m getting ready for a garage sale, and hopefully selling tons of stuff I’ve collected over the years, and it’s wonderful.  It did say in the book that metals have to be careful not to give up too much, lol, that they’re very likely to be too spartan, and also to give up too much in the way of happiness, and be semi-content living by themselves, or giving too much to others at their own expense.  Hmm, is interesting!  Oh, that person often has a big nose (knew there had to be a reason for that, haha), and a lot of space between their features, as I do.  People say that Jon and I look alike (sorry Jon, and obviously not including the nose), but I can see a lot of these traits in him.  Oh, I think I know Ray’s trait too, earth, but will expound on that another time.

Okay, something different.  Had three weeks off, and go back to work today.  So I had time to think about things, and see what I need to change in my life.  Solely for my own health, and personal preferences, I am (drum roll) going to become a vegetarian.  I’ve never liked the thought of eating animals, since I was a small child, but mainly it’s for health reasons and also because I absolutely love it!  I crave vegetables like crazy, and fresh, delicious foods make me feel good.  I have more energy eating like that, and I am really looking forward to maintaining my weight naturally.

Now I can imagine people thinking that perhaps I won’t be healthy, that a person needs proteins.  To a point that’s true, but I’m not becoming vegan (and, by the way, I’ll gladly cook meat for others), so I’ll have milk, eggs, etc.  Not to mention nuts, cheese, beans, etc., have plenty of protein.  I actually read that most Americans get way more protein than they need, and unless you ate only rice and grapes you’d have plenty of it.  So I’m not going to worry about that too much.

Anyway, I read on the internet that roasting vegetables is so delicious…so last night I turned the oven to 420, as recommended, and first put in a cut up sweet potato and a carrot, (drizzle all with olive oil and sprinkle with salt…sea salt was recommended but I only had regular), then a half-hour later some cut up broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans from my garden.  I cooked it another half-hour, approximately, until all were tender and carmelized…they were so incredibly good that it was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever had in my life!!  I could eat that every night of my life (changing up the vegetables, of course), and never grow tired of it, and in fact in the blog that I read the person said that she does eat them every night, and she is in perfect shape.  Whoohoo!

Thanks Jon for your comment…yeah it was amazing!  Okay, have to get ready, busy day…later!

Expanding my mind…one neuron at a time

Okay, yes, I’m a skeptical person.  Maybe extremely so, in regards to some things.  However, last week I was flipping through channels, and for some reason (I don’t usually watch him) stopped on Dr. Oz.  His guest was Jean Haner, a woman who has studied and become an expert in face reading.  What’s that you say?  It’s an ancient Chinese discipline, where Chinese doctors of old days discovered that certain diseases and personality traits corresponded with certain traits on a person’s face.  Hocus-pocus perhaps, but part of the reason it was developed was that in olden times a male physician wasn’t allowed to touch female patients, and therefore they had to learn how to diagnose disease in other ways.  Western medicine is of course skeptical of anything not proven factually, but I am inclined to believe that something with centuries of data backing it up might have something to it.  Couple that with the fact that she read a few faces from the audience, and sure enough immediately diagnosed what their physical weaknesses were.

So, I was intrigued, more so by the personality aspect of it.  Supposedly  you can tell a lot about why you feel the way you do about things by your specific traits…one of which corresponds to all of us (water, wood, earth, fire, and metal).  I can picture some rolling their eyes now, and thinking I’ve gone off the deep end!  No, I’m still a Christian, it’s just there’s a lot to this…my sign is water, and it’s amazing how it correlates…waters like to have space, be fluid in their lives (i.e. moving a lot, not being tied down, lol), they like to sleep late and stay up late, they are dreamy and introspective.  I had to laugh when she described how a waters house is decorated…she said their artwork will often feature water.  Well I have three paintings of bridges, accompanied by water, and my Twitter background is of the ocean.  Perhaps a coincidence, but funny!  Then (this is REALLY weird), she talked about childhood stuff.  On the rims of your ears are zones that correlate with different years, and when there is a “flaw” of some sort it corresponds to the age you were when some trauma happened to you as a child.  SURE ENOUGH I have a nodule on the rim of my ear corresponding to the age of 10 and early teen years!!!  I couldn’t believe it!  Then she talked about wrinkles.  I thought I was so lucky not to have many, but oh no–laugh lines are very important, and the fact that I don’t many means my life hasn’t had as much joy as I’d like.  Then (this is amazing beyond belief) I do have one wrinkle, one straight line in between my eyes, that I naturally hate.  Well, of all things, what that means is that you had an either emotionally or physically absent father as a child!!  I’m sure I didn’t breathe for several seconds after I read that, couldn’t believe it.  How could those two things be just coincidence?

Then I’m reading about the wood personality traits now, and wow, is that ever Seth!  That person has very thick eyebrows, (as well as other traits of course), and they love to argue as teens, but they always call it “discussing”, lol.  I had to laugh, that was so funny, almost as if someone was watching behind the scenes!  It did say that’s a great trait in adulthood, that person will never let anyone push them around, and they often accomplish a lot.

Not sure about the rest of my family, and they’re probably dreading me “diagnosing” them, haha, but it’s so interesting…so that’s my story for the week, will see how it goes…if nothing else I’ll be more understanding of others, and compassionate, understanding how they function and think.  That alone is a great thing, and makes it all worth it, to me!

Contemplation…it’s making me wait

I’ve come to a decision recently, that may shock some, particularly those who subscribe to the “American Dream”.  As you all know, I was very excited to move into a house.  I let myself float along in the romanticism of it…how wonderful it would be to have my own place, no noise from neighbors, I could paint it whatever colors I wanted, have a garden, a basement, a garage.  It would be my own place, and there would be wonderful holiday gatherings there, memories to be made, and in only 30 short years, haha, it would be mine.

Except for reality has reared its ugly head.  Yes, there are wonderful things about owning a home.  There are also not so nice things.  I live in fear and anxiety, always wondering when something is going to break down (as a homeowner it’s a matter of when, not if).  When there is a huge blizzard I’m the one who has to do snow removal, I have to figure out where to put the 20 bags of leaves that I back-breakingly gather, the mortgage goes up significantly sometimes, even with a fixed-rate mortgage, as happened to me.  When it rains I hold my breath, hoping the basement won’t flood, or the roof leak.  A couple of weeks ago the fridge went out, suddenly and unequivocally, necessitating an emergency run to Sears, and putting it on my credit card, which made me sick, but there wasn’t any other choice.  Not to mention that my house, my humble abode, is small…make that very small.  There’s scarcely room for my family to crowd in, scarcely room for us to gather around the table, or to put up a Christmas tree.  Sure, there’s room for about 10 cars in the driveway, but to fit inside is another story.

Yes, I have loved the outdoor gatherings.  This summer we all ate in the garage (because it was a cool and rainy day, otherwise we’d have been outside), and it was peaceful with the door open, breathing in the fresh air, and observing the beautiful view.  That is something that I like…I have numerous trees in my yard.  One of them is laden with hundreds of apples, waiting for fall’s ripe picking.  I planted rhubarb this summer, and a raspberry bush, long a childhood dream.  My garden is lush and growing.  My neighbors, master gardeners, have grape vines growing on the fence, a golden apple tree by my garage, and a gorgeous lilac bush.  There are beautiful, huge fir trees…one morning a huge hawk startled me by flying out of one, towards the creek, as I walked to the garage in the morning.  Rabbits and squirrels play in my yard, and pigeons come daily to eat the pea gravel from the driveway.  I don’t chase them off as there’s plenty, and they kind of keep me company. 

 

But I still have been thinking about renting again.  If I had stayed in my apartment, the one that I lived in when Seth was a teen, I’d be saving almost $400 a month.  That could be saved, and used on trips, things that I would remember.  Going to visit my sister, going to Fargo for the weekend, maybe even taking a long desired trip to Boston, to see my Aunt and Uncle.  Not to mention it’s worry free!!!!  That’s most of it.  When the refrigerator dies, I’ll just dial a number, and like magic get a new one.  When the roof leaks, or there’s an electrical short, the same.  When it snows a huge amount I can just sit inside and revel in not having to worry about removing it…same goes for leaves, or anything else that I currently worry about in regards to my yard.

So, as you all probably realize by now, I’ve decided to investigate selling my home.  I don’t know if it makes sense to do so at this point…I haven’t owned it for very long, and don’t want to lose a lot of money.  On the other hand, I want to get out before there’s something more I have to replace, besides the refrigerator.  I am hoping that if I include my new snowblower, that it would sweeten the deal.  There are fortunately some apartment complexes, nice, newer ones, that allow cats (as Arnold is much better, thank-you you all for your thoughts regarding him). 

 

Don’t worry, by the way boys, I won’t expect you guys to help me move yet again!  Will be arranging that myself.  I do have wonderful children who have helped me in so many ways, but I don’t want to take advantage of them, and they are all busy in their own lives.

I appreciate, and ask for comments regarding this…am I crazy, or do you see merit in this?  Maybe I’m just a worry wart, wouldn’t be surprised there.  Thank-you for your insight!

Another Day of Rest

Well, today is a good day.  Confusing, but hopeful.  First it started with a miracle for me…I slept the entire night, the first since my surgery!  Prior to that it was only an hour or two at a time, and often just  few minutes before I’d awaken coughing and with severe throat pain.  Finally (I know, I’m a slow learner, lol) it occurred to me that I hadn’t been taking my Prilosec since I got home.  I honestly didn’t think I needed it after surgery, especially since my ENT prescribed it in an effort to avoid surgery, which didn’t work.  I remember protesting that there was NO WAY I had acid reflux, at which he laughed, and said that rarely do people believe that they have it, but then they feel so much better after.  So, I tried it, and it did help some.  Not all the way though, hence ended up getting the surgery anyway.  So, I wasn’t entirely crazy in thinking that I didn’t need it afterwards, I remember being happy that now I was off it.

 

However, when I finally decided to try it again, WOW what an amazing difference!!!  I collapsed into bed, exhausted from lack of sleep.  I mean I’ve been so tired that I’ve been feverish, had chills, and actually felt like I was a little kid coming down with the flu.  Ugh.  However, last night, fell asleep immediately, and didn’t wake up even once until morning!!!  It was light in my room when I awakened, and to say that I felt so much better doesn’t begin to touch the difference.  It’s crazy what a difference sleep can make…obviously I’m a person who very much needs mine.

 

Enough about me though, first thing on the agenda was to call the vet.  Dr. Svenson said Arnold was doing better, and he wanted to try a different food one more time.  I agreed–of course–but said that if it happens again that that’ll be it.  He agreed, and I picked him up, looking MUCH brighter and happier than when I took him.  He still isn’t himself, still is resting a lot.  I am going to give him a bath tonight, (fortunately he doesn’t mind baths, so I won’t be stressing him), and I’ve made up my mind that he’s not going outside anymore.  That will be extremely difficult as he adores being outside, and my ears will be assaulted by nonstop meowing to get out there.  I will have to be tough though, as I want to make sure he doesn’t get into anything.

 

Aside from that…just finished, of all things, “The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, And Ducks Built A Dynasty”.  I never in a million years would have dreamed I’d be a Duck Dynasty fan!  They are such a neat family, however, so full of love and Christian faith.  I love watching the show, and reading the book, finding out the trials and tribulations that they went through prior to their very hard-earned success, was amazing and inspiring.  Would highly recommend for anyone to read.

 

Okay, will sign off for now, and try to think of something more interesting than a blow by blow account of my day, haha.  Just wanted to update anyone who is concerned though, and I thank-you for your caring and support.

Arnold as I remember him

Arnold as I remember him

Arnold is always as gentle as he appeared in this picture. It’s funny, his front incisor teeth are big, and stick out, so he could appear fierce, but he’s completely the opposite. When you pick him up he melts into you and purrs, happy as can be.