Muffins, Dog Baths and Joy

Posted on: February 3, 2012

Friends, Bill and I just returned from a couple of days at the beach for his birthday. It was a very nice, very quiet, very sweet get away, and upon returning, I think I can see that we are inching our way, ever so slowly towards healing. Today I think I might have cried a little less, felt a smidgen more energy, and I think I may have even entertained a thought about reconnecting with the rest of our world some day.  Some day….

While we were away I looked through my emails for one of the notes I wrote to friends after that 4-day weekend of great, great grace. It is below.

I will never tire of thanking you all for praying for us. It is the means by which we are healing.

Love, Mardy

January 17th

Hello Friends,

It seems whoever has the most recent note in my inbox when I sit down to my keyboard has been the recipient of my processing that day. This is just my ramblings for the day.

I’m sitting here on that black couch in the living room where several of you have found me camped these past few weeks. It’s early and I’m enjoying the quiet darkness before dawn with my coffee, and, without exaggeration, the best blueberry muffin I have ever tasted. Janna, your girls must never make them for me again or I will return to my former weight. I ate 3 for dinner last night.   I am limiting myself to one this morning merely out of Christian duty. My conscience whispers that I have to share them with Bill and Joel. Hmmm, I just noticed the muffins are crying out in loud, delicious voices from the kitchen telling me I should hush my conscience with another muffin. I feel like I’m in a Veggie Tales movie.

Getting past the muffins, if that’s possible, one of the things that’s becoming discernible in this terrible valley is the difference between my soul and spirit. I’ve always pictured them smushed up together, intertwined in some invisible way that would get explained in some “Life on Earth – Here’s What You Missed” class after we get to heaven. I’m pretty sure my heavenly class schedule is already booked solid on this track.

But, when I came to that place of acceptance of both God’s love for my son and His sovereignty in his life, something inside of me clicked and settled. And I think it was that night that I began to sense a distinction between my soul and my spirit. I’ve been feeling like I am in a sort of ICU hooked up to tubes like feeding tubes keeping me alive, but I’ve only been able to sense that “something” outside of me (of course, the Holy Spirit) was going into “something” inside me.

I read those emails about God’s sovereignty and love on Thursday night (Day 10), and the next morning I gave our black lab, Chance, a bath. I didn’t think I could bring myself to do anything so laborious at first, but his stinkiness finally drove me to it. I’m no fan of giving this dog a bath even when I have physical and emotional strength. It’s a lot of bending over and scrubbing which is hard on my back, and a ton of coaxing him to stay in the tub. It also exasperates me that he experiences the same ritual every time – wet, lather, rinse – so he knows he’s not getting out of the tub until he’s rinsed, but he always spends the entire bath plotting what he thinks is an original and sneaky escape – sneaky glance right, sneaky glance left, never looking me in the eye, muscles flexed and ready to jump. The water is warm, the massaging of his coat must be pleasant, but I can tell that something in his doggie-belief system has been wired to tell him he is not supposed to have a bath. He’s not supposed to be in the tub.

It was while I was lathering him on Day 11 (and just now I wonder if I am going to be measuring the rest of my days in this way) that I had the tiniest sense of joy. It was so unexpected and so foreign after 11 days of sorrow. So, instead of just saying, “Good doggie. Stay. Yes, that’s a good Chance”, I just started half-singing, with love and enthusiasm, “Who is THE best doggie in the world? Is it Chance-Dog? Huh, is it you?? Yes, it is!! What a good, good puppy you are!” And his sneaky glances disappeared for a moment, and his long soggy tail started wagging. Immediately I thought, What is wrong with me? How could I have what feels like joy again? And why on earth would I feel it while washing this stinky dog? But, there it was, a very (very) tiny blurb of joy bubbling up and escaping in praise to the dog.

This may be elementary to others (and why heavenly guidance counselors are signing me up for a full load of future 101 classes even as I type), but it has just clicked for me that it was my spirit that experienced that blurb of joy and it has been my spirit that the Lord has been feeding.  It almost feels as though my spirit was not damaged, but has being strengthened moment by moment in this tragedy, while my soul (and every part of me that my soul entails) has been terribly damaged, is still bleeding, and in need of healing. It’s my soul that has spent almost all of its resources grieving, and it is my soul, that once this wound is closed, will bear a scar for the rest of my days here.

That makes more sense to me now.  By the end of last week I felt like a car so low on oil that I would break if I went one more inch. I see now it is all the stuff in my soul (perhaps my heart, mind, emotions, a big part of the “me” part of me) that has been damaged and is way low on oil. It is strange, because I can actually sense a distinction inside me now – my spirit, hooked up to those tubes of grace and being fed by God’s Spirit – and my soul, which feels extremely damaged, weak, bleeding, and still in need of time and guarding and care. And I have to assume because I still feel like I’m walking through water to get even small chores done (my second gear modes are just beginning to shift into gear again) that my soul must be using up some of the physical stores in my body for its healing.

It’s now past 9:00. Bill is up and between the muffin and the dog bath story we held hands and snuggled as he told me the favorite parts of his sailing trip this weekend – waking up to find ducks floating all around the boat, and the peaceful, quiet days on the river. When he told me how cold it was, all the romance drained from his story.

I don’t want to sound super spiritual to you all. I am so not. I’m a wanderer in a dark valley. One friend, who will remain unnamed, made me laugh out loud once when she pointed to her forehead and told a group of women that she was sure her spiritual name was really “Prone to Wander.” I laughed because she had taken my secret thoughts about myself right out of my head. My tendency is to wander away from the Shepherd. I have clicked on Netflix movies and sitcoms over the past few weeks to try to escape the reality of this dark valley for a few hours, even when my conscience told me not to. I will say, though, that, though I don’t condemn myself for trying to mentally escape, I can sense that the Lord patiently waits just outside my screen of escape to bring comfort in my reality. When I allow Him to, He does. When I don’t, He waits. I feel a little like Chance, feeling the comfort of my bath, knowing my master wants me to stay in the tub until he says it’s time to leave, but still sometimes looking sneakily to my right and left, plotting my escape – because my mind has been wired to believe I was never supposed to be in this tub in the first place.

Today starts a tough week for us. Bill and I are behind on many business tasks, some with time-sensitive deadlines, and my wonderful strong tower of a man has not been able to work for more than 2 hours straight on this pile of paperwork with me yet. I am hoping his 4 days on the river has recharged him a little more. I will be testing the waters with him this afternoon trying to filter the hottest items to the top first. Your prayers for us this week are appreciated.

And now it’s getting hard to type because two of my fingers are sticky with (yes, another) blueberry muffin and I need to clean the keyboard. 🙂 Where, oh where, can my good side hide them where my bad side won’t find them??

Now may the God of peace Himself (I have definitely been sensing Him as a God of peace generously turning up the drip on the peace pump to my spirit) sanctify you entirely (and, yes, I still recoil at the idea of being sanctified entirely because I don’t want to have to walk through this dark valley just to be sanctified. Part of me would rather just stay fleshly.) And may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame (without blame, but not, I notice, without damage and wounding) at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thess 5:23

My soul is weary with sorrow. Strengthen me according to your word. Ps 119:28

I love you all very much.


5 Responses to "Muffins, Dog Baths and Joy"

how encouraging to read this…that through the trials we will be presented to God preserved and complete…blameless…and I love how you added but not without damage or wounds. It can sometimes be hard to distinguish this and not carry guilt or hurt. Thank you for your insight and we’ll be praying that God will bless your time and energy as you face the work load.

I think, Mardy, that you’d better get the recipe for those blueberry muffins and post it here, because who could not be craving them after all this! 🙂 I am praying for you!

Mardy, your words teach me. God has so clearly given you the gift of writing. Thank you for using that gift for His glory!

Now, about those muffins. You could use a few (dozen) pounds to catch up with me. I don’t want to make you feel jealous or anything, but did you know that I can still wear the same size earrings that I wore in high school? 🙂

Please don’t stop writing. I won’t stop praying!


Praying for you, Bill and your entire family. I know this is faith stretching for each of you. There is nothing anyone can say to help other than that you are being remembered to our Saviour every day by many folks who love each of you.

I loved this, made me laugh out loud – especially when I got to the part of sticky fingers on the keyboard!!! LOL – laughing because I identify with it! Love your writings – reminds me a little of Ann Kiemel in my early walk. Sounds like you are w-e-l-l on your way!

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