Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Friends with benefits

I guess I need to explain that title anybody thinks this blog is going in a different, and more liberal, direction than usual.
I'm just thinking of how blessed I have been with friends, even knowing, honestly, that I am not the best of friends.
I'm not bad, really. Just not great at it. I like to be alone. Alot. Some people can take this as being aloof or snobby. I don't think I'm either of those things. I just replenish myself by being alone. And quiet. And contemplative. My gosh, I sound like a monk. I hope I am one of those monks that make the terrific caramel. That would be cool and yummy.

Anyway, back to my friends. I have been blessed in my life to have some awesome people around me.  Take, for instance, a couple I spent a few days with last week.
I made a pot of Chicken Tortilla Soup.

In return, I got this. Delightful in every way. Like the friend herself. (Look Jen! You made the blog again! Hey there, girlfriend.,,,.)

And this.
Adorable, yes?Don't you want one of these cutie McCutersons for yourself? Be jealous, people. My friends are amazing as well as talented, crafty and over-the-top generous. (Both these items were "re- purposed." I love trendy words.)
Being friends is not all about giving each other gifts.
Although, I'm just gonna say, it sure doesn't hurt.
It's not all about laughs and giggles. Although I'm a big fan of the both the laugh and the giggle.

One of the things I treasure most highly in a friend is the ability to say the hard things. Like, "hey sister, your sweater is on inside out and the tag is all hanging out there for the world to see, and you are disrupting people's worship time because all they can think about is when are you going to figure out that your clothes are on inside out"
Oh, that's right. No one told me my sweater was inside out. I had to figure it out myself during church, after the stop at the store and after the stop at Starbuck's.
 But, yes, I would have appreciated a girlfriend stepping up.

"The best mirror is an old friend."
- George Herbert
I have no idea who George is, but he hit the nail on the head with this one. (and how did he know my friend's were old?)

"An honest answer is the sign of true friendship."
- Proverbs 24:26

That's what I want from my friends.

If I am being gossipy, they will stop me.

If I am being harsh, they will tell me.

If I am spending too much time alone, they will come get me.

If I am not taking care of myself and eating cake batter, they will take that cake batter right out of my hands and eat it themselves.

If I am not going to church for a couple weeks in a row, they will ask why.

If I try to crimp my hair with out and thermal protectant, they will unplug that crimper.

Oh nevermind. They will wait until my hair has burnt  off in patches clear up to my scalp on top of my head and feels like old carpeting.
It's a good look with my backwards sweater with the big tag waving in the breeze at everyone behind my back.
But they will tell me never to do that again.
And they will repeatedly assure me that I don't really look like the love child of Bozo the Clown and  Richard Simmons. More like his second cousin. Or like a caramel-making monk.

See? A trustworthy, honest friend is worth their weight in Chicken Tortilla Soup.

What traits do you most value in a friendship?
(Fyi: if you are looking for a friend with burnt hair patches, I may be able to hook you up.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lucy and Luca sittin' in a tree...

Okay, they're not really sittin' in a tree, but they are having puppies together. This makes me happy.

Lucy is really milking her pregnancy.
She is lazing on the couch for hours at a time. (That is Rod lazing with her.)

She doesn't run any more. She meanders.
There is no end to her hunger. (Mine either, but that's another story.)
She still wants me to lift her back end up on to our bed. Let me tell you, she is getting heavy.

And, rather than just using me as a leg up, she settles back into me as I heave. Which makes me grunt and groan as I heft her up. Which makes me make the sounds she makes when she gets off the chair, couch or bed.

But this post is to tell you about Luca, the bullmastiff male we bred her to for this litter of pups. Look at that head! Gorgeous!!

Luca, at 16 months old won 4 Majors, Multi Best of Breed titles, 8 Best of Winners titles, 9 Winners, 11 R. Winners and

29 First placements!

American Kennel Club Champion Aristocrat's Luca Brahma-

Bull, CGC, TDI, AKC, DNA, proven stud

DOB: Sept. 15, 2007
In talking to Suzan, Luca's owner, I found someone who is dedicated to making sure the bullmastiff breed is enhanced my any breeding she does. She is a canine behaviorist and her website is a wealth of information about this incredible breed.
Luca is an AKC champion as well as a certified therapy dog. This says so much about his demeanor. He has to be calm, intelligent, loving and gentle. Oh, and he is 175 lbs, which is super LARGE for a bullie. But his build is superb and we will be offering a 1 year health guarantee against genetic conditions. I saw that Suzan offers a 7 (SEVEN) year guarantee for temperament. This is fantastical and awesome, and I think that would be really hard to do, but speaks volumes as to how much confidence she has in Luca.
Here are the results of his temperment testing from Suzan's website:
"Results of temperament testing- Luca has tested with the highest score possible in overall temperament, handles new situations easily & loves any social setting including other dogs of any breed, kids and adult humans, he's even been tested with horses, cats, birds and a guinea pig! He's a very sweet & happy dog, his tail is always wagging, he does not guard food or toys and allows other dogs to eat out of the same bowl with him, he will allow even the highest value item such as a Bully stick to be taken out of his mouth without any issues whatsoever. A overall fantastic temperament, as does his sire and dam and being a canine behaviorist I find good (or bad) temperament is highly heritable.
Training levels achieved- Luca started training at 8 weeks old since I do my own training, he is extremely well socialized which is the most important training for a puppy. He has easily achieved levels of obedience up to Advanced Obedience & will be working towards his titles in AKC Rally Obedience this summer.
AKC Championship achieved 5/09 with 4 major wins
AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy achieved 4/08
AKC Canine Good Citizen certification achieved 7/08
Luca achieves TDI Therapy Dog certification 10/08 with 100% pass on testing!!!-He visits Sebasticook Valley Hospital, primarily children's wing, Sebasticook Nursing Home & District 53 Schools for TDI reading program and AKC Canine Ambassador program teaching AKC Safety Around Dogs, Care of Dogs."

Here is a link to her site so you can read more about Luca, bullmastiffs and all kinds of other stuff. Enjoy, but don't get lost; it is a massive site.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would just like to make a general observation as to how adorable you think this litter of puppies will be. :-)
In the meantime, Lucy will be eating, sleeping, hiking, playing,and basically just enjoying the life of a pregnant mama as she waits for her pups.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


It is O-dark-30, and I am writing this is my new flannel pajamas surrounded by tubby bullmastiffs. One is pregnant. The other is just tubby.

Secrets are on my mind. I used to have some. But, years ago they came bursting out and since then I am hard pressed to keep anything quiet inside. If it's on my mind, it's on my tongue and out in the open before I even know it. This is not right, but that is a whole other blog post. It's just that once the dam broke I can't seem to hold anything back.

For years now, I have worked side by side with girls and women who have secrets. Deep, dark secrets. Scary secrets. The kind that you box up and lock up  and throw away the key. The kind you can't bear to think about because if you did, your life as you knew it would be destroyed.
Ugly secrets. People would leave you secrets. God would hate you secrets. You think you might just howl your pain and then lay down and die secrets.

I know this because I used to keep some myself.

The thing is, you think letting the secret out will wreck you,
when the whole time, the secret you are keeping is killing you from the inside out. Rotting you, really.
  • "If people really knew me, they wouldn't love me."
  • " If I work harder it will prove that I am worthy and lovable and the secret won't matter anymore.
  • "If I drink/take drugs/party (fill in the blank) more, then I won't think about the secret.
  • "I must be ugly and wicked and evil and no one really knows me."
  • "It doesn't matter what I do. I've already destroyed my life and there is no hope for me."
Do you know what these types of thinking lead to?
  • Hardened hearts.
  • Distrust.
  • Broken relationships.
  • Depression.
  • Harmful behavior of all kinds.
  • Turning away from loved ones.
  • Turning away from God.
You see, it's not the actual secret that is killing you; it is keeping the secret that is twisting you in to someone that God never intended you to be.
One thing I've learned in years from working one-on-one with first class, blue ribbon-winning secret keepers, myself included, is that everyone thinks their shameful secret is the worse than every one elses.
It's not.
That is a lie from the king of liars, satan. This is how he keeps you for himself.

Because if it's too shameful, too horrible, to ugly, too scary to ever say out loud to God or anyone, it will stay locked up inside you,like a cancer, where you come to believe it is not just a part of you, but IS you. It becomes how you identify yourself. The filter through which you view yourself. It grows and grows until you come to believe that you are as ugly as the secret you keep.

And guess what?Your secret isn't really a secret at all. Not from God.

"God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart."
Psalm 44:20-22

"You spread out our sins before you— our secret sins—and you see them all."
Psalm 90:7-9

 "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable." Hebrews 4 :13.

But before we get all freaked out, thinking about a God who knows everything and surely must despise us because we despise ourselves so much, hear this:

"Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
3 He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
4 He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
5 He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
6 The Lord gives righteousness
and justice to all who are treated unfairly."


"The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him."
 Psalm 103:2-6 and 8-13

We are trying to keep our secrets from the only one who can save us from them.

"But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness." 1st John 1:9
We don't need to be chained like slaves to  our secrets. We are children of God!

 15 "So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.[a] Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”[b] 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children." Romans 8:15-16


  We are called to be free from our hidden secrets and let God himself carry that burden like a shepherd carrying his lambs:

"Praise the Lord; praise God our savior!
For each day he carries us in his arms."
Psalm 68:19

So what secrets are you keeping?

What secrets are keeping you?

Isn't it time to just take a deep breath and put them down, once and for all?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


This video slays me. Honestly the first thing I thought was how often I respond to God just like this little girl when plans or circumstances don't go the way I think they should. I might be even more whiny. Just keepin' it real. He's trying to give me Disney World. All I think I want is Chattanooga. Priceless. How do you respond to God when he is trying to tell you He has big Disney World plans for you? Do you want to stay in Chattanooga?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Guess who is having Bullmastiff puppies?

Lucy the Lion! This is Lucy when we first brought her home from the airport. She has hardly stopped running.
Unless she is sleeping.
Or eating.

Here she is with Rod and Polly. (Rod's the one in the flannel shirt.)
Lucy, of Oregon has been bred to AKC Champion Aristocrat's Luca Brahma-
Bull, of Maine. I'll write more and show some pictures of him in a day or two.
In the meantime, I will take this opportunity to share lots of favorite Lucy pictures.
Because she is pregnant.
And because I can.
Here she is as a young dog looking as regal as a bullmastiff should.
Here is Lucy with Rod while we were horse camping in the Ochoco Mountains this year. Not the best shot of ol' Squint Eye, but hopefully Rod won't be looking at the blog anytime soon. This picture just shows Lucy's exuberance and love.
By the by, did anyone else notice that Rod is wearing the same shirt in both these pictures with Lucy, even though this is two years later? Maybe I should shop for him more often.
But I am too busy to shop for him because LUCY IS GOING TO HAVE PUPPIES!!
This last picture demonstrates how ferocious Lucy can be.She clearly wants her own space and doesn't take any guff from anyone, not even Auntie Jen, who just wanted a moment to read her Kindle while camping. We won't let Jen sit on Lucy again until after the puppies are here.