Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Write the Vision and Make it Plain Part 2

For everyone who has prayed and send forth good thoughts for Mark and I, I would like to say thank you to each of you. I am happy to report my depression is lifting, I am able to focus on my husband, my home and now our little Montague.
I find it easier to pray these days. But to be honest, struggling with prayer, struggling with faith is not a bad thing. For it means something to you.
I think of the caterpillar in the cocoon. It doesn't know once it's out of this case that it is going to be a creation of gentle beauty. It just knows it has got to get out. It is the struggling that transform the caterpillar into a butterfly. If someone saw the struggle and tried to help by cutting the cocoon, mass of deformed that comes forth will quickly die.
So was my prayer/faith life this past year.
I feel like I shall soar soon.
As I write this post, Montague is sitting next to me with his head in my lap, Mark is working on homework.
Today was Mark's second day at Security Consultants Training Academy. And he is loving it.
Now that Mark has a clear vision of that he would like to do, he is moving forward with gusto. Last week his Job Coach suggested Mark trim his resume a bit. Though it is a page and a half, it is still too wordy. Employers don't have much time to resume every resume that hits their desk, for one needs to write in short bullets to catch the employers attention.
Step, he needed to find where in the market place his skills and experience fit.
Which brings me to  Mark was finding this Academy online.
 While Mark has experience as a Security guard, the career he is training for is a higher level of security. In the world we now live in, we need people with those skills for our national security. And Mark fits the bill.
And it is something he enjoys.
The past two days, Mark has been full of stories of what he is learning. His eyes actually dance. And he has hope.
During supper, I told Mark his experience could help someone else who is looking for a job, who is feeling discouraged.
He nodded and suggested I make this tonight's blog entry.
And I did :)
1. Define what you really what to do.
2. Define what skills you have.
3. Be willing to learn another trade. Or take courses that can improve the skills you already have.
4. Look over your resume. Make sure it is updated, not too wordy and make sure it targets the market(s) you wish to work in.
And the most important; don't give up

Monday, 30 January 2012

Write the Vision, Make it Plain

The past year and a half been an interesting one, to say the least.
The looking for work, readjusting our lifestyle, struggles with health and faith. We have believed, trust and even questioned G-d.
But we have not lost our faith.
Saturday morning, Mark and I were talking about his needing work.
The verse from Habakkah 2:2 began with echo in my head...."write down the vision and make it plain...."
It slowly dawn me that Mark's life has been the military. As such, he really doesn't have much experience in the civil workforce. In fact, other than teaching, Mark really hasn't nailed what he would like to do. Since there is a hiring freeze on teachers, Mark hadn't even been able to work, other than the tutoring he has done, here and there.
So I asked him, "what you really want to do? You have so many resumes going out, in so many areas. I think you should narrow your list down and focus on what you would really to do."
Mark said he had been thinking about this. He really didn't want to teach. He would have too many compromises in his faith to teach science. He would love to teach Intelligent Design along with Evolution, but outside a private religious school and/or tutoring, it wouldn't happen. 
So, what you want to do? What are you really good at?
Since his MO is Civil Affairs, he has very good management skills, works well with the public and like to serve. 
Mark then told me, the night before, he had found online a Security Training Academy, which is own and run by a Veteran. The Academy trains for high level security positions. And the pay is very good.
As he began to tell me about the school, the smile on Mark's face was huge. Not only did he have experience as a security guard, but his military experience in this field would come in handy.
"If I get a job working security, this would the first step in our getting back on our feet. And who knows, I might even wish to stay with this."
I can see that.
So, this morning,  after the morning meal, I kissed my beloved goodbye, sending him off to school.
It is during this time, we learn that Montague is not a morning dog. He didn't even come to go Mark a kiss goodbye.

I cleaned up from breakfast, showered, dressed and by this time Sir Montague was up. So we went for our morning walk.
It was a beautiful, but slightly chilly morning.
But that stop us from enjoying our walk.
It's going to be a beautiful day.

Stop Racism

This happened on TAM airlines.

A 50-something year old white woman arrived at ...her seat and saw that the passenger next to her was a black man. Visibly furious, she called the air hostess.

"What's the problem, ma?" the hostess asked her
"Can't you see?" the lady said - "I was given a seat next to a black man. I can't seat here next to him. You have to change my seat"

- "Please, calm down, ma" - said the hostess
"Unfortunately, all the seats are occupied, but I'm still going to check if we have any."

The hostess left and returned some minutes later.

"Madam, as I told you, there isn't any empty seat in this class- economy class.
But I spoke to the captain and he confirmed that there isn't any empty seats in the economy class. We only have seats in the first class."

And before the woman said anything, the hostess continued

"Look, it is unusual for our company to allow a passenger from the economy class change to the first class.
However, given the circumstances, the commandant thinks that it would be a scandal to make a passenger travel sat next to an unpleasant person."

And turning to the black man, the hostess said:

"Which means, Sir, if you would be so nice to pack your handbag, we have reserved you a seat in the first class..."

And all the passengers nearby, who were shocked to see the scene started applauding, some standing on their feet."

Sunday, 29 January 2012

A Love Stronger Than Death

Boker Tov;Mark had a bad night's sleep, so we didn't make class today. I just let him sleep in.
It's cool; there are things that need to be done around the apartment.
I awoke thinking of my friend Rose (not her real name)  this morning. A lovely woman, both inside and out.  Quiet of heart and spirit with a beautiful smile. I remember her husband Ray, (not his real name) who was just as sweet and gentle as she. True soul-mates
I was drinking my coffee and reading my facebook page when I notice a post from the very person I was thinking of.
Six years ago tomorrow, Rose's soul-mate slipped into the Presence of G-d.
Her pain, her tears are as fresh and raw as if it was yesterday.
I remember praying  for Ray, believing for G-d to heal him.
 And G-d. By taking him home.
The tears of a widow.
As an army wife, I have held in my arms a young widow, her tears soaking through my blouse, feeling her body shake with sobs and heartache.
I could only say and do for Rose the same time I said to that widow several years ago: I allowed her to cry, I listened as she spoke.
And I prayed for her.
I prayed that The G-d of all comfort, comfort her with the comfort that only He can give.
I prayed that The Holy One would engulf her with His love.
Six years.
Yes, Mark has been gone two and a half years on deployments. But he has always come back to me.
My friend and sister in faith, she will one day go to her beloved; he will not return to her.
A Love that is stronger than death. The very flames of death cannot quest it...
Song of Songs 8:6-7 "Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away."

Mark is now up, making himself a cup of coffee, Montague on his heels.
Puzzled by the expression on my  face, "Why are you looking at me that way?"
"I can't look at you?"
He just smiled, took a sip of coffee.
In this moment, I look upon him whom my soul loves, thankful for my blessing. My beloved husband, our precious Montague.
I don't complain about the dirty socks on the floor or tripping over his boots. Because it means my husband is home.
My thoughts turn to Rose again. She would glad for dirty socks.
But I also know this. Through the pain and tears, she knows where her beloved's soul is, that one day she shall be with him again, never to be apart.
Once again, I am reminded of the book of the Narina series, The Last Battle, the last page, the last chapter:

 There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are–as you used to call it in the Shadowlands–dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

(C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle (HarperCollins: New York, 1956) p. 228.)

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Enjoy The Moment Your In

Lailia Tov
(Good Evening)
It is a quiet evening.
Mark is at his laptop, working on some online training for the army, Montague with his tummy full from dog food and leftover lentil's, is sleep on my office chair and I am in the living room, blogging.
Tomorrow we will to attend a marriage class at our former church (more about that later). It is an eight class and we are enjoying it.
Then we will go to hospital to see our friend David. Many may remember a year and a half ago, my friend David was quite sick and we took into our home to nurse him back to health. Well, he is, once again very sick and needs prayer.
Afterwards, we will come home, take Montague to the park and then come home.
The past years and some months, Mark, a Army Reservist, has been looking for a job. He has applied to several city high schools as a science teacher.
No calls.
He has skills as a manger.
No calls.
He has had interviews, second interviews. No job.
We have prayed, cried.
No job.
We hold onto our faith and each other. How we can relate to Job; all hell is breaking loose and only G-d knows why.
Questions. Doubts. Yes.
Struggle. Yes.
And still we hold on. So many of fellow Americans are going through the same thing. So many job seekers; so few jobs.
And yet we have seen miracles.
Miracles of people sending us money to us out. So many times we wondered where the money for the rent, the car, etc, was coming from.
And then, someone calling, saying they have money for us. There would be a check in the mail.
And of course there have been the trips we have been on that count for Mark's training as well as his Reserve pay.
So many people praying for us; we in turn pray for them as well as others.
Mark and I began to learn to enjoy the moment we are in.
I remember this from when Mark was coming through cancer treatment. We took each day, each moment as it came. We would talk about how the coffee we were drinking tasted. Or laughed at the birds fighting over the bread crumbs we toss. We marvel at each sunset and rejoiced in each shabbat.
That was seven years ago.
And once again we find ourselves embracing the moment. A time as Mark looks for work, we also enjoy taking long walks with our dog, cuddling on the sofa, watching a movie and throwing bread crumbs at the birds, watching them fight over the pieces. We hold each other as we we saw the sunset and read the bible to each other, encouraged the Holy Writ.
One day, I will wake up, say my morning prayers and breakfast for my husband as he prepares to go to work and I will have to get use to his being gone for eight to ten hours a day.
But today is not that day.
Right now, I am enjoying this moment.
Mark looks up from his laptop and gives me a smile.
Yeah. I am enjoying this moment.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Army Mutt

So since Montague has joined a military family, I thought it was time to get attired befitting his new station in life.
This is Montague's new raincoat.
He's not so sure about the hood. It took him a few minutes to adjust, but when he came in from the walk, he wasn't ready to take it off just yet. So I think he likes it.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Our Pal Monte

Thank you to everyone who comment about the newest member of our family, Montague. Yes, he is a dear, he is indeed a gift from G-d, a small package of fur.
Even now he is sitting at my feet, looking at Mark.
I remember one evening, Mark said, "we need Monte more than he needs us."
It true. As we go through this storm in our lives, we do need this little furry bundle of joy.
A very social dog, when taking Montague for his walks, he doesn't mind at all people stopping to pet him, showering his greeters with kisses.
Dogs, however, a different story.
While we find he gets along with most dogs, he isn't like PitBulls. He gets along pretty with the big dogs in our neighourhood, from time to time I do have to pick the little guy up, since he thinks he is much bigger and badder than he really is.
For example, we took Monte for a doctor's visit at the SPCA this morning. It's much cheaper, so there is no excuse not to have a pet cared for.
As we were checking out, a Great Dane came in.
Thankfully, Mark had a good handle on Montague, because he was up, barking and every to take the Great Dane on.
As one of the Assistance said, "little dude, you are way out of his weight class."
We knew Montague was an older dog, it seems he is at least 13 years old. And he looks very good for his age. He does have gum disease that has to be treated, there is a good chance he might even lose his teeth.
Sadly, we just can't afford to take care of his teeth right now.
So, after my own test this afternoon, while Mark had a doctor's appointment, I added the needs of our little guy along with our own.
There are times it is hard, but one has to keep holding on, keep praying, keep believing.
And then I see Monte looking at me. Then at Mark.
He trust us. He knows we love him and we will take care of him. He has faith is us.
The same trust, the same faith, Mark and I have to have in our Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Reel Dog; A Gift of Love.

As our readers know, for the last week of December, we had the joy of a little visitor known as Monte. His family had gone out of town for the holidays and we were watching their dog.
We fell in love with Monte and Monte with us.
Little Monte came into our home and just plain took over. Not that we minded. He was joy to have. Both Mark and I knew we would have a very hard time giving him back. But we also knew that G-d brought this little guy into our lives. We needed something outside ourselves to care for, another purpose, even if was for only a week.
And then the miracle.
It was Januray first. I had just gotten off the phone with a friend and was dressing when the Burts came for Monte.
To be honest, I was dreading going out into the livingroom to say goodbye to Mort.
But when I came out, I was greeted with a surprise.
Mark told me that the family, seeing that Mark and Monte have bonded, seeing how happy Monte was here, they offered us Monty.
Mark and I were floored. We knew this family, we knew how much they loved Monte. But they had another small dog and felt both needed lots of attention. Monte was really a one family dog. And he loved us.
Mark and I looked at each other. This was clearly a gift of love from our friends. From G-d. Yes, I was concern as to how we would care for him, but this is where trusting G-d comes in.
Since we would be going to a marriage retreat the following weekend, it was decided that Monty would back home. Plus, there was a teenage daughter who had to agree to this arrangement.
So, the monday evening after the marriage retreat, we went to pick up Monte. It was emotional for he is so loved. It was for a two week trial period and if the daughter saw that Monty was truly happy with us, we would adopt Monte.
Two weeks later, Saturday, the Burts came over and spend some time with us. Our girl could see Monty was happy. So as of Saturday afternoon, we have a Reel Dog.
His name, Montague Theodore Reel.
Isn't he cute?
Yeah, their up to something.
We have prayed for healing for my body (I have a blood disorder, more about that later) We pray for Mark to find a job. We pray for money we need to pay our bills.
And G-d answers by sending us a dog.
Ah the ways of G-d.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Monte and The Bed

Monte is a little guy. As such, because our bed is so high, we didn't think he could jump onto our bed.
We were wrong.
One morning, after Mark had taken Monte for his walk, he had to go out. I was taking a shower and preparing for the day.
I came into the room and found Monte in our bed, with a "You look surprise that I could get up here,"
Seems Monte is full of surprises.

And that is how Monte came to steal our bed.
Like he stole the rest of our apartment, my laptop,
and our hearts.

Monte's Hunt For Chocolate

On December 25th, Mark and I went to visit family. It had been several months since we had seen his sisters, for it would be to get together with them.
This would be Monte's first afternoon alone.
We were told to put his bed and toys in the bathroon and Monte would stand there until we came back home.
We found that not to be the case.
While we were gone, Monte managed to open the bathroom door and headed for the livingroom. There, sitting on the coffee table a small bag, containing a tiny piece of fudge.
After enjoying Miss Laini's last piece of fudge, he found the plastic bag with his treats sitting on the sofa.
Play dirt.
So, about four hours later, we found the evidence of a tore white bag and half chewed plastic bag. Mark qickly took Monte outside for a long walk.
Later, fudge-face needed a bath....
It was a relief to find out that Monte loves a bath, though he hates to go out in the rain.
Monte also likes to cuddle.

Our Hanukkah Joy

Hanukkah is one of our favourite holy days. For eight nights we light the candles and remember the miracle that occurred so long ago.
We went to celebrate with friends for one of the nights of Hanukkah. It was a very special night since there were two families at the gathering the hearing from Hanukkah for the very first time.
We had of course latkes of course and one of the ladies brought curry chicken, which was a amazing.
During this time, our hostess asked for prayer. The family was going out of town to visit family. They had two dogs and they needed someone dog sit. They had found someone to watch Lady, but Monte was still in need of a home.
Mark and I looked at each other, and then offered to care for Monte.
And that is how Monte came to visit.
And this is Montague Theodore Burt. As you can see, he has taken over my sit. When his family dropped him off, Monte walked around the apartment, checking out his new digs. He then walked over to where Mark sat and watched him at the laptop.
Then he came over to where I sat and tapping me with his paw, I looked down and found Monte wanted to sit in my lap.
Monte, checking out my facebook page.
Monte is a sweet little guy. Loves to be held and petted. He loves to be brushed and talked to. We were told he likes to sleep in the bedroom and figuring it was just a week, we could do that. It was funny watching Monte drag his bed where he wanted it and fluff it up.
So for one week we had this little of Hanukkah joy. For Mont brought much joy and laughter in our lives. From taking him for walks to watching Monte and Mark wrestle on the floor to being washed with doggie kisses, the house was filled with laughter.
And he brought something for us to focus on.
Mark is still looking for work. It has now been four-teen months. Recently I learned I have some sort of blood disorder. Plus I am being treated for depression.
Monte gave Mark and I something to focus on besides ourselves. In Monte, we both have a being that needed our attention and care. And in doing so, helped to lift the cloud of depression.
I knew when the time came, it would be hard for us to give him back. We had to keep reminding ourselves, Monte isn't ours.
Mark even asked if I thought his owners would be willing to sell Monte to us. I said I doubt. And if they did, we can't afford to take care of us, let alone a dog. besides, there is our teen-age niece to consider. I don't wish our niece to think we stole her dog
But he is a cutie. And my Mark needs a dog.
So I have been praying: "L-rd, if we get a dog, You are going to have to give us the means to care for him."
Funny how G-d answers prayer....

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Time to Go

Shalom: more pictures from SkyTop Ladge....
Sorry, no matter what I do, the these two pictures won't right themselves.
This is Mr. Bill, the very first friendly face you see when you arrive. He is retiring soon, so the next time we go to SkyTop, he won't be there. He not only remembered remembered our names during our first visit, but actually said: "Welcome back, Mr. and Mrs. Reel." He even thanked us for our service to our nation.
An amazing memory.
One of the lovely porchs. It was a chilly day. Still nice for a brisk walk around the grounds.

Yes, it is quite chilly out here...
Sipping hot coco in front of a roaring fire is in order.
This is the bridge that leads both to and from the Lodge...
On our way home. It was an amazing weekend, filled with good food, meeting new friends and learning how to keep the Bonds of our marriage strong.


During the retreat, we did have some down time to enjoy the beautiful surrounding of SkyTop Lodge.

This is one of the beautiful lakes. As you can see it is iced over.

I managed to get this close-up of one of the cabins.

Unsafe? My Mark wasn't buying that.
Yeah, Mark was going to temp it, but then changed his mind.

Strong Bonds: The Last Day

Sunday morning began with Chaplain Demetrius giving a sermen on marriage, based on Eph. chapter five.
And it was quite good. Demetruis not only drew from scripture, but every day examples to share about the beauty of marriage.
Afterwards came the renewal of vows.
As hebrews, we don't renewal of vows, because we don't take vows when getting married in the first place. We are as married as we are going to be. As rabbi Mark said, "it's a very romantic moment."
And it was.
Chaplain Demetrus performed the brief, but beautiful ceremony. Mark and I took our rings and then slipped them back on each other's finger.

And then, first husbands and then wives, read the words, recommitting ourselves to each other.

And you may kiss your bride.
It was a beauiful moment.
Later we learned which couple won the Date Night Contest. It was our newly-weds who recreated their first date.
Mark and I came in second.
When things winded down and everyone saying goodbye, we exchange adresses with new friends.
It was truly an amazing weekend and I cannot recommend Strong Bonds to every miliarty couple. Mark and I picked up a few more skills that help our marriage. And while we already have an amazing relationship, Strong Bonds just made it more so.
My only complain: it should one day longer.
P.S; As of this writing,  using the tools we learned, Mark and I have not had one "intense fellowship" (fight)

Strong Bonds: Date Night.

The afternoon session, the couples were broken into two groups.
One would make a list of what we would look for in a friend. The other, what would look for in a spouse.
The two list looked similiar.
I believe and most in the group agreed that friendship is very important in marriage. That you should marry your bestfriend.
I am blessed to have married mine.
Sometimes in marriage, with all the dailys of life, a couple can forget to just enjoy each other, spend time with each other. Sometimes, we forget to just sit down and talk.
Having fun is just as important to marriage as faithfulness and trust.
The next session was to me the most beautiful moment of the retreat.
Sexuality and Marriage.
Sex is a beautiful, wonderful expression of love between husband and wife. At that special moment, we are one, as G-d indeed. In fact, G-d rejoices over married love.
After all, it was His idea.
Rabbi Mark taught about what many wives wish their husbands knew and what husbands wish their wives knew about men.
It was here I saw my husband's heart touched.  Not that we have a problem here (trust me, we don't).
But when rabbi Mark shared that when men make love to their wives, not only do they filled loved, but it is healing to his soul.
Upon hearing these words, Mark turned to me and stroked my cheek and whispered the word, "true."
Rabbi Mark is a wonderful and gentleman and his words painted a romanctic back drop for the couples for date night.
So as we were walking back to our cabin, trying to think of something to do, I turned my anke and found myself limping.
We got back to the cabin and Mark got some ice for my anke.
We took a nap and then Mark went out and got supper and we spend the evening in our cabin, sharing the evening meal, Mark applying more ice to my anke and cuddling in bed.
The only missing was a roaring fire.

Strong Bonds: Saturday Evening

The afternoon sessions ended with intructions for date night.
It was a contest to see which couple had the best date night. You didn't have to take part, but there would be a prize.
More about that later.

On our way back to our cabin, Mark and I talked.
I shared with him my own insights. For the retreat has been an eye opener for me.
When I was a child, I had a poor sense of direction and would often get lost. Therefore, as I got older, I would do a check and double check of directions. sometimes the directions given would be wrong and I would again find myself lost. While I did learn how to retrace my steps, it was and is still cause for panic and in insecurity for me.
So the issus wasn't really the fact that Mark didn't feel a need for the map. It was the fear of he did not know where we were. That fed into my unsecurity.
I also realise my panic said to Mark, I didn't trust him.
But I did, because when ever we found ourselves lost, Mark would stop and ask for help. Thus I knew he would get us where we needed to be.
So, how did we resolute this?
I told mark I had been thinking about how to help him. I learned from my mother to always write a list of everything we would need for a trip. I would make sure the map was included on the list.
Mark, liking the idea, promise to buy a map and leave it in the car. We ago agreed to look at the map together and highlight with a marker our travel route and go online to get printed directions.
I also Mark, even if all of this, we might still get turned around. When that happens, I remind myself I can trust you to get me where I need to be.
Mark agreed. And he said when he sees me panic, he will take my hand and remind me, "honey, I got you, it's ok."
As we laid down for a nap, Mark took me in his arms and said; "This weekend has been good for us. I have been reminded of all the reasons. I love you. This afternoon, I realised your love healed me."
I cried as I fell asleep in his arms.
"I hope those are happy tears."
All I could do was nod.
They were.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Strong Bonds: Saturday Afternoon

After lunch and a quick nap, the afternoon sessions began.
We entered the room to find....a mess.
My first thought was; Who Let the Dogs Out?
What appeared to be a mess (paper plates, cups, big red balls little cones and pillows) was really a Mine Field. It was both a game and a teaching tool.
The wives went over to one side of the room where our husbands blindfolded us.
I am praying up a storm because the thought of walking about, not being able to see is not my favourite thing to do.
As you can see, I am not a happy camper. I felt like at any moment someone was going to put a cigarette in my mouth and ask me if I had any last words.
The husbands did with to the other side of the room and on the word GO!, they were to yell across the room and guide their blind wives through the Mine Field, not touching the stuff on the floor.
There were so many voices, I could not hear Mark. So I stood there, looking cute, not moving until I hear his voice. From time to time I would hear: "Can you hear me now?" Then and only then did I move. Finally, the voices died down and I could hear Mark.
And then the gamed ended.
The staff realised the game, while a good idea, would have worked better with a smaller group. So this time, the wives tied blind folds over the eyes of the husbands. We would stand just before them and guide them with our voices through the Mind Field.
What Mark and I learned was the following:
1. I wasn't going to more until I could hear Mark's voice. That meant I really had to listen.
2. Mark, knowing I couldn't hear him, waited until he could call to me and I could hear and follow his lead.
This is called trust. We trust each other to guide each other through the Mine Fields of  Life.
For me, I follow a spiritual lesson: "The L-rd is my Shepherd, I shall not want...." "I am the Good Shepherd and my sheep hear My Voice." Moshe, during his time in the desert, took care of sheep, learning to lead a great flock, his people out of Egypt. The shepherd boy who became king, David learned to pray, worship as well as how to lead and protect the nation he would one day take his place on the throne.
We were told to keep the lesson of the Mine Field in our next session.
Events and Issues.
Events and issues do arise in every marriage.
An event: Mark has drill this weekend. We decide to meet at the Kosher Palace (no such place, would be nice) for supper Saturday at six pm.
At the last minute, Mark is called into his Co's office to help with a project, forgetting to call me to let me know he is going to be late.
Plus, because it is shabbat, his phone is turn off.
So here I am, sitting pretty, waiting for my husband.
At first, I'm not too concern. Traffic no doubt and I order a coke.
30 minutes past and I check the messages at home, thinking Mark is running late and left a message on the home phone. No message.
Maybe he took a friend home. He's been known to do that.
Another 30 minutes past and I am now getting worried. Was there an accident? Was he robbed. Maybe he's laying on a dark street, bleeding, calling out my name....
And in comes Mark, running to the table.
Not bleeding.
Now, instead of "Thank G-d! Your fine!" I am ready to kill him.
"Honey, I'm sorry, I needed to stay back..."
"And you couldn't call me? Mark you always do this!"
"But honey if my boss tells me I have to stay and work...."

"You care more about your boss and your job than you do me!"
"That's not true and your being unreasonable. You have no understanding of how my job works..."
So now we have gone into a full blown fuss (though we would have left and done this at home).
What is the real issue? Is Mark always late? No. Does Mark always forget to call me? No.
But Mark is on the defenced and he is shooting back.
This is called a Mine Field. Because there are other matters, other "voices" screaming and we cannot hear each other.
So what we need is a "time off" to cool down and decide on a time to best handle this.
What is the real issue? What is underneath the surface?
Respect. I feel Mark is disrespecting me when he doesn't call and let me know he is going to be late. That my time isn't that important . That his CO and his fellow soldiers come before I do.
Mark feels I don't respect the fact that there are times his help is needed and he may have to put in longer hours.
Easy, yes? Yes and no.
It means learning to get to what the real issue is. It means learning to diffuse the mine fields and get to the heart of the matter and coming up with a way workable plan.
Mark leaves his cell phone on. I bring a good book.
And it was this exercise that resolved the problem of the map.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Martin Luther King

I am taking a break from the Strong Bonds series to honour an american hero, Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.
Today would be his 83th birthday, if he had lived. His wife, Mrs. King passed away several years ago, after suffering from a massive stroke and cancer. His eldest daughter, Yolanda, also passed away a few years ago. Yolanda and I were only a few months apart in age.
I remember the first time I heard Doctor King's name. It was the day he was murdered. The day was Tuesday, April 4th, 1968. It was my sister Eileen's nineth birthday.
We were attending school in Newton, being bused out of our neighourhood of Dorchester. We were part of the Operation Exdous, where inner city children, like my sister and I could be bused to another school system, where the schools were better.
I rememeber an annouce over the loud speaker at school. Those of us with Operation Exdous were leaving school early.
I remember the ride home. We didn't know what was going on, just happy to get out of school early. As we entered our neighourhood, the joy was replaced with fear. We saw rioting; adults running the streets, screaming and yelling, busting store windows and stealing things. There was one store on fire.
"They killed KING!!!" was the cry we heard.
Who was the king?
Mummie was standing at the bus stop. Now I know something was wrong. Our mother took the afternoon off to come and pick us up from school?
I could see the fear she was trying to hide. Seeing the mayhem, frankly all hell was breaking loose, mummie wanted to make sure we got home safe and explained what was happening and why. The people were upset because one of our Civil Rights leaders was shoot.
But to riot? To rob and destroy businesses? I didn't understand that.
I still don't.
I always call this the year I began to grow up. I remember so much from that year.
We were watching Bewitched, the one when Endora pull a spell on Darren, causing him to have jumbo ears. Ten minutes into the show, the news broke in and announced that Doctor King had died.
We were keptt home until after his funeral.
During those four days, I learned so much about Doctor King, what he stood, what he was fighting for. Doctor King's funeral was the very first one Eileen and I ever attended, even though it was via TV.
It was during this time, mummie talked to us about death and the afterlife. These lessons would come in handy a few months later when the Late Senate Robert F. Kennedy would be gun down and then the passing of our grandmother years later.
Doctor King had a Dream. He held this nation up to her promises and knew we could be a better people.
As I look over my life, I know that I am living Doctor King's dream. As a wife, mother, writer and teacher of women, I am the reality of his dreams. I am free marry and be happily married to the man I love without fear. I am free to live where-ever I wish, buy a home, own a busniess and use my G-d given talents.
True, the seeds of hatred because of skin colour is in our nation. We still have pockets of groups who rather divide than unite. Those who would still burn a cross on my lawn if they could. But we are so much farther as a people, as an nation.
Like him or not, but this nation elected it's first bi-racial president. Who whould have imagine that happen even four years ago. Today we have men and women of all colours and walks of life servinf not only as teachers, but lawyers, judges, doctors, ministers, priest and rabbi. We serve in all branches of the miliarty. We shine not only in Sport and Enterianment, but in Science and Business.
Doctor King's Dream is an american Dream.
Each of us, all of us, are better because Doctor Matin Luther King Jr. passed our way.
May we each remain faithful to his vision.
Happy Birthday, Dr. King.

Strong Bonds: The Retreat-Saturday Morning

It was a sunny, but chilly Saturday morning. Mark got up before I did to find out where and what time the classes began.
I was snuggled down in the softness of the king bed, when Mark said: "Laini, get up. The classes start at 8:00 am.
It was 7 am and I am not a morning person.
Yes, we had a fuss.
It seems we should have been there yesterday afternoon by 3:00pm because that was the opening sessions began. He didn't know that we were suppose to be there yesterday.
Here we go again.
I have to be honest; I had to work through this as well.
It really wasn't his fault because he didn't have all of the information, but I still have to work through my anger. Truth be told, I wasn't being very flexiable.
Thankfully, we weren't in trouble, the staff was just thankful we made it on time.

This is a picture of one of the cabins at SkyTop. They are rather warm and cozy. Only a five minute walk from the cabin to the main lodge where the sessions would be held.
The staff was made up of three chaplains: Chaplains Jonathan, Demetrius and Mark (Rabbi) Jonathan and Mark were married, Demetrius, single.
The resource used for the weekend was Prep For Strong bonds; Building Ready Families. It's a participant manual that we would work through. What I love about the manual is that it is something that Mark and I can continue to use in our marriage. It reminds me of the workbook we used when going through pre-martial counseling.

The first session, led by Jonathan was discussing the speaker-listening technique. While we missed the teaching class, we quickly caught on because it is a technique we already knew. In each of the packets given to the couples, there contain a tile, called The Floor. Whoever held the tile, had "the floor" and was the speaker.(sample: It upsets me when you leave the bottle of ornage juice sitting on the counter.") The other parther is the Listener. Then the floor is given to the other spouse. He or she repects back what they just heard ( so what your saying is, you don't like me leaving the orange juice sitting out.")
Some times, the orange juice sitting on the kitchen isn't really the issuse. What is the real issuse? Maybe it is one spouse is concerned that the orange juice sitting out will spoil and it has to be thrown away and that is a waste of money. The other spouse, feels they are being considerate by leaving the juice for everyone.
So how do we settle this issuse?
The couple will agree to sit down and settle the issuse.
If this was Mark and I, we would agree the juice pitch sits on the breakfast table until the meal is over and whoever cleared the table would put away the orange juice.
Simple yes?
But how many couples fight over such a simple matter.
As the morning wore on, my anger melted away. Mark not having the map wasn't the reason for my anger. It's a good reason to be upset, but not to be angry. During the morning session, I realize somthing esle was in play.
Something we would learn is, the hidden issuse.
After the break, Rabbi Mark led the session Readjustment: Deployment and Coming Home. He set the stage that marriage today is very different than in our parents, and in some ways unchanged.
Today, more wives work outside the home, not because of things the family wants, but because the family needs the extra income. Though when I was growing up, I knew very few homes where mum stayed at home. Today, more couples share the household duties and care of children. But the core values and needs are still there.
For miliatry families, there is now the added long deployments.
The group shared the pros and cons of deployments, how to be creative in staying in touch with the deployed soldier.
We then broke into soldier and spouses groups. I found this most helpful. Since Mark is a Civil Affairs officer, he is attached to a unit and send off. And I am left here with no support other than family and friends. Other spouses in the group had similair situations. We able to speak openly, knowing whatever was said, remained in that room.
I walked away, realizing, that as hard as these four deployments have been, I was truly blessed.
We headed out for lunch, at one of the little eaties at the lodge. The dinningroom prices were just a little too high.
We were invivted by another couple to join them. Then Chaplain Jonathan and his wife joined us. it was a nice lunch of hanburgers and just getting to know each other.
Later, Mark and I sat before a roaring fire and I fell asleep on Mark's shoulder as he stroked my cheek.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Strong Bonds: We're On Our Way

We started out mid-morning Friday morning.
It was a beauiful, sunny Jaunry. It felt more like autumn than winter. I stood in front of our car as mark loaded her with our suitcases, thinking what amazing life I have.
True,n either one of us are working right now. Mark's father recent back surgery, and me having all sorts of test. We stay half a paycheck from being put out on the streets and yet, I feel blessed.
I feel blessed because I am.
I watch Mark, this man I have the honour to call my husband, my lover and my bestfriend. A man I am willing to follow through hell itself, knowing he will lead me to heaven is on the other side.
And frankly, we are going through hell.
We had been to SkyTop Lodge three weeks ago for the Yellow Ribbon and looked forwarded to returning. True, we won't have much time alone. But it is still a lovely place for a get away.
And since the event counts as AT (Anuuel Training) Mark does get paid.
Money always helps.
An hour into our trip, we both laughed over the fact that we had forgotten our music CDs, so we listened to the radio once again.
Sometimes it was a talk program. Sometimes an oldie-but-goodness station laughing with happy surprise of "YOU know that song?"

We stopped for the stretching of legs and rest rooms. The weather was being to become chilly. Good thing we had jackets in the back seat.

I thought this was rather pretty, giving visitors of the rest stop a taste of the surroundings.

I never did find out the name of this river. Maybe one day.
Soon, we were back on the road again.
I rather like these times. Since August of last year, we have attended a miliarty program of one sort or another. The pay Mark recieved for each trip has truly helped, and the get aways have been great respite from all the stress we have been under.
During these rides we talk, we laugh. Mark tells me how much he loves me. And I share my love for him.
And then it happen.....
Mark who though he could remind how to get to SkyTop without a map, got lost.
At first, I managed not to get angry or panic. I chose to believe we would by the grace of G-d get back on track.
We didn't.
By six pm, we didn't have the faintest idea where we were.
And by now, my sense of adventure was long gone. The only reason why Mark lived was because I don't drive.
We did find a Rite-Aid, with a map. We were a half an hour from the Lodge. However, somehow, someway, Mark got turned around and we were heading AWAY from SkyTop.
And yes, I was mad. Mark, being a good sport, allowed me to vent.
No, I didn't hit him.
Finally, we did get back on track, seeing buildings and signs we recoginzed, leading us to the Lodge.
I had to work through my anger, not wishing for it to ruin our weekend.
It was about nine pm when we finally arrived to SkyTop. This time we would be staying in one of the cabins.

Mark went back to main lodge and found one of the food outlets opened.
Hamburgers never tasted so good.
Knowing we would have an early morning, we headed off to bed.
And I had to pray hard.
Yes, I was angry about Mark not having the map. I knew he was sorry.
And I wasn't going to allow this to ruin our weekend.
I had to pray hard that night.