I’m Fine. We’re Fine. Everything is Fine.

Well, it’s been awhile, and I’m sorry for that. The short of it is, I started a new job. I’m now teaching online English classes to children in China through VIPKid. Have you heard of it? VIPKid is a wonderful company to work for. I absolutely love this job and the beautiful families I have come to know, but it has taken me some time to get used to the new schedule. Beijing is 13 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone, which means I start to work very early in the morning. It has taken my 40+ year old body some time to adjust. *As an aside, if you are interested in learning more about teaching online ESL classes click here or email me. I’m happy to answer any questions you have! You’re welcome to use my referral code: REBEK0241.

Now to the thing I know you are all wanting to hear about: my dog, Murphy, who first appeared in On Laughter and the Time My Father Fell Into the Grave.

It all started a few days before Thanksgiving. I’d wake early in the morning to teach a class. Blurry-eyed and desperate for coffee, I’d shuffle into the kitchen and unexpectedly step in a large puddle of dog pee. This is not a fun way to wake up in the morning, I assure you. Murphy rarely has accidents in the house—except for on rainy days, that is. On rainy days, I’ll open the door and try to coax him outside, even offering to hold an umbrella over him to keep him dry, but he will just look at me with his doughy eyes as if to plead, “Can’t I just find a nice spot to pee behind the couch when I’m ready to go?” I typically give in, because I don’t want to stand out in the rain either. Other than on a rainy day, Murphy rarely has an accident.

At first, I assumed his incontinence was a sign of old age. Murphy is 9; though not terribly old, he was considered the “clearance puppy” since he was born with a heart murmur. I’ve always assumed he’d age a little faster than other dogs of his same breed (he’s an Irish Terrier). I just marked the incontinence up to his aging body.

My first response was to put pee pads in the all of his frequent accident spots. This didn’t work. He only peed next to the pads and then used the pads as a soft place to lie down and take a nap. I tried not to take this personally, as though he were mocking me, but with my exhaustion and the fact that walking through our living room had become like passing through a field of landmines, it wasn’t easy. I said some bad words. A lot of bad words, actually. The children started a swear jar for me. I think they’re saving up for a beach vacation. But really, I was so tired of stepping in and cleaning up pee. I don’t like the steam cleaner being a permanent fixture in the living room!

Just after Christmas, I noticed that Murphy was drinking lots of water and getting very lethargic. I decided he needed some medical attention. On the way to the vet, I thought, “Good, Lord. What if it’s diabetes?” and decided right then and there that there was no way I was going to get suckered into giving daily insulin shots to the “clearance puppy”.

Later that afternoon, I was stirring a large pot of homemade dog food, a recipe especially designed for the diabetic dog, and prepping the syringe for Murphy’s first injection—he really is a sweet dog. One of my kids came in at this point and complained that she was hungry. I looked at her over the rim of my glasses, which were fogged from the steam of the food I was cooking for Murphy.

“This is done,” I said. “You can have some of this.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Isn’t that for the dog?”

“You’re in luck. There’s nothing in here that you can’t eat.”

“That’s okay. I’ll wait for dinner,” she said. Pausing a moment, she added,  “Unless that is dinner.”

I threw my arms in the air. “Great idea! It’s a two-for-one!”

After dinner I took the dog for a short walk. It was a very slow walk, more like a dawdle. He made it halfway around the block when he refused to go any further. I had to pick him up and carry him home.

The first few minutes of carrying Murphy home weren’t bad. They were nice actually. I cradled him like a baby, and he rested his weary head against my chest. It did my mothering heart some good. But it wasn’t long before it felt as if with every step another brick was added to the burden in my arms, and I was buckling backwards under the weight and stumbling down the sidewalk, no doubt at a pace slower than Murphy’s when he walked on his own. Cars slowed down to watch the sight. This didn’t bother me too much since cars often slow down to get a look at Murphy or ask me about his breed.

Once while I was walking down a very busy street a woman slammed on her breaks and (in all seriousness) yelled out, “Is that one of them cartoon dogs?” I didn’t know how to respond to that. I just slowly nodded my head ‘yes’. “I thought so,” she said, pleased with herself, and sped off.

This time a woman stopped and leaned out her window, “Everything okay?”

I choked out a weak, “Yeah. He just has diabetes.” I don’t know why I thought this was a suitable explanation.

“You sure?” she asked with a furrowed brow.

“Yep. I’m fine. We’re fine. Everything is fine.”

So, things have been a little chaotic around here. But I’m not the only one with crazy things happening in her life. The night before Christmas Eve, a friend of mine went to turn out the lights on her tree and discovered thousands upon thousands of bugs had just hatched and were nesting in her tree. In the middle of the night, unassisted and in a frenzy, she had to yank the ornaments off the tree and get it out of the house before they swarmed. It may not have been so bad except that a few nights before she was watching TV when she heard a popping sound. At first she figured one of her kids was making popcorn. But remembering they had no popcorn in the house, she got up to investigate and found that her beautiful hardwood floors in the kitchen were buckling due to a small, unnoticed leak in the refrigerator.

Another friend told me that while her husband was out of town she discovered that the cable company had drilled a hole into the sewage line.  Her entire front lawn had to be dug up in order to find and repair the damaged pipes.  When they did this they found multiple rat families had nested in her yard.  Then her identity was stolen and all her funds were drained from her account.  And then…AND THEN…she discovered that one of her children had threadworms.  If you don’t know what this is, take my advice and resist the overwhelming urge to Google it. Gross!

It is so tempting in the midst of chaos and stress to think that we are alone. No one experiences the kind of stress that we do. We can get angry and begin to despair.

I was recently listening to a sermon by Tony Evans in which he said that disappointment with faith comes when we have the unrealistic expectation that life is supposed to be easy and care-free. When difficulties come, as they inevitably will, we are thrown and get angry with God as if He promised life would be smooth sailing but then delivered a violent squall of winds and rain instead. He is with you in the chaos.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I want to hear your funny stress stories. Please share and make us laugh! It will make you feel better, too.

Author: Rebekah Durham

Rebekah Durham lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her three children.  She is a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary and has written for numerous publications. She is an avid reader and in particular an admirer of C.S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, G.K. Chesterton, Henri Nouwen, and Dorothy L. Sayers (in no certain order). She'd also blindly follow Miss Marple (Agatha Christie's famous spinster sleuth) anywhere she wanted to go.

5 thoughts on “I’m Fine. We’re Fine. Everything is Fine.”

  1. I don’t have a funny stress story to share but gosh, Rebekah, that was quite a bit that you went through! I like that verse from John 16:33. It reminds me of what God has been whispering to me for close to 2 years – Hope! It’s never easy when the whacks keep coming; hope is a needle in a haystack then. But even the simplest and most feeble prayer from our hearts in such times is exactly the hope God is asking us for.

    Like

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