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Pets With Anxiety and Stress Issues


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Meet Alaska. She joined the Turner family back in March 2013. She was a cute puppy and loved to play. She loved getting into things as puppies normally do. She loved playing with the other dogs and being outside. She loved to be loved on.

She grew up. She still enjoys to play, love on her family, and be loved on by her family. She makes a great snuggle buddy, and she loves to take rides in the car. She has a deep love for her family, and she is very protective of her family too. And as a bonus, she likes to chase chickens in her spare time (that story is for another day). Ha!

She also suffers from anxiety and stress. She stresses easily with change. She likes order. She isn’t sure of people she doesn’t know. She doesn’t like loud noises or tense environments. This is something we, as her family, have had to adjust to. If you are a fellow owner of a pet with anxiety and stress issues, you understand what I am saying here. And for those of you who haven’t had the experience of owning a pet with these issues, I know it can be hard to understand. I want to help you understand what it is like for the owners of pets with these issues.

Here are just a few things that we experience on a daily basis:

1. People leaving and coming to our house is a traumatic experience for Alaska. Let me explain this a bit. She doesn’t necessarily fall over in convulsions when we leave the house or if we have a guest over and they leave. She does whine and cry, and she gives us her best “sad face,” but her anxiety and stress comes when we come back to the house or if a guest comes over to the house. We have to take special precautions to help make this transition less stressful for her. How? For starters we have to put our husky in another room. For some crazy reason it causes tension between the two. Maybe because they are both big dogs and both female. I really don’t know. Secondly, we have to talk to Alaska calmly. This is almost as if you were talking to a baby. I know it sounds crazy, but it works. Lastly, if all the dogs are contained when we come home, she has to be let out first. If you let any other dog out before letting her out, her anxiety level rises.

2. Classical music is her favorite genre of music. Yes, dogs can have favorite music genres. In the mornings I like to play it after my workout, so that it sets a calming environment.

3. If Alaska wants your attention, she doesn’t want you to share it with her fellow dog pack. Asking the whole crew to come over for some attention simply isn’t a wise choice. This stresses her out.

A few other tidbits: small spaces send her stressing, loud noises cause stress, if she feels overcrowded she will stress, unannounced visitors stress her, new people cause anxiety for her.

I know some of this sounds strange and just plain ridiculous. I get that. There are many days where I think, “Are you serious?” I love my girl though, and I know that this is something she probably gets frustrated with as well. Just like humans can have anxiety disorders and stress problems, animals can have these same issues. As their owners we just have to learn how to help them with these issues.

I have thought to put Alaska on some vet prescribed anxiety medication, but I really would prefer to treat it as naturally as possible. Then there’s the whole taking her to the vet thing. You see my dilemma?

Just a few words of advice to those of you who do not have pets with anxiety and stress issues:

1. Please be as understanding as possible when it comes to other pet owners who do have animals with these issues.

2. Please call ahead before visiting friends or family who own pets with anxiety and stress issues. Your friends and family will thank you.

3. Please do not take it lightly when a friend or family member shares that their pet has these issues. It’s a struggle for both the owner and the pet, and the struggle is real my friends. The struggle is real.

4. Pray for your friend or family member, as well as the pet. Prayer is a powerful tool. Just as I would covet your prayers for me and my family, I would also covet your prayers for my pets. Call me crazy if you want, it’s ok.

I know this isn’t my typical post, but it was on my heart to share. Animals are living creatures who struggle with things just like we struggle with things. They are part of God’s creation that He has asked us to care for on a daily basis. Let’s do our best to care for these babies in the best possible way.

Does your pet struggle with anxiety and stress issues? How do you help them cope with it?

Alaska’s Advocate,
Jac

Confessions and Questions of a Pastor’s Wife


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Lately I have been feeling as if there is something more to what we call worship. There is something more than what we stuff inside of our Sunday morning box. There is something more than traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation. There is something more than what a certain denomination instructs us.

I am part of the United Methodist Church, and I was born and raised in a traditional United Methodist Church. It’s all I really know in regards to denominations. I was baptized as an infant, brought up in the children’s and youth ministries, and even worked as a Youth Minister in my hometown United Methodist Church before marrying and moving from that town. I am still connected with the United Methodist Church, but am now part of a contemporary UMC.

I share all of that to say, that lately I have been feeling a suffocated in this denomination. Not at all in my faith, just in the boundaries of this particular denomination. I feel as if somewhere along the way tradition, handbooks, and old mindsets have put it at sort of a standstill. It has become stiff. It leaves me searching for the life, the passion, the complete surrendered worship of Jesus.

Have we become so concerned with the way things have always been done, the business side of things, and handbooks that we have failed to be a holy and set apart people who have hearts that are bursting with worship of our Lord and Savior? Have we become a people more concerned with titles, roles, and committees that we have neglected the very reason the church exists? What happened to focusing on Jesus more than focusing on whose permission is needed to approve changes in the building? What purpose does a church bulletin serve in the actual worship of God? Does having a certain title or holding a certain position make our faith stronger? Do any of these things make me “Christian?”

My questions could go on and on, but that would probably take up a lot of space and therefore turn this blog post into a novel. My point in all of this is to say that my heart is yearning to just worship Jesus with no limits. I don’t want to be a stiff follower of Jesus. I want to be a WILD one! Yes, you read that correctly. I want my worship to be wild just like His love for me. I want to focus more on developing and growing my relationship with Jesus than on creating another committee. I want people to see Jesus shining through me.

My feelings can’t all be put into words at this moment, but I know that God is stirring my heart in this matter. He is calling me to more. He is calling all of us to more. We should want more.

Faith in the Raw


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his quote sums it up almost perfectly for me. No matter how many times I have told myself, “I will just give up. This is too hard,” I can’t throw in the towel. My desire to have a baby with my husband isn’t a desire like walking into Kohl’s and seeing that beautiful Vera Wang handbag that I would love to have. It’s a desire that goes much deeper, and one that can’t fully be expressed in words. So, here I am. Another month. Another cycle. Part of me wants to throw in the towel and just say, “Screw it!” The other part of me says, “You can’t give up. You want this child. Have faith.” 

Faith. You would think that as a Pastor’s Wife and Christian I wouldn’t struggle with faith, right? Wrong. I struggle with having faith just like anyone else struggles with it. There are times when I have incredible faith, and then there are times when it is difficult to even have the faith the size of a mustard seed. Today is one of those days. It’s been over 3 years and nothing has changed. I have no answers as to why my body isn’t conceiving our desired child. No magic tricks to share that got us success. No babies to even speak of. Just the same charted cycle month after month after month. The same “negative” pregnancy tests. The same ovulation predictor kits letting me know that there is nothing wrong in that department. Just the same. 

This morning I read from Hebrews 11, and verse 11 struck me. 

“Because of faith also Sarah herself received physical power to conceive a child, even when she was long past the age for it, because she considered [God] Who had given her the promise to be reliable and trustworthy and true to His word.” Hebrews 11:11, Amplified Bible

 

It is sort of obvious as to why this verse would stick out to me, right? I know. And then again this verse also had me telling God, “Please Lord, please don’t let me have to wait till I am as old as Sarah before I receive my child of promise.” Seriously, this is a concern of mine. I have shared it on numerous occasions with my husband. I want that “physical power” that Sarah received. I want her faith. But wait, didn’t she laugh first? Didn’t she think it to be a joke? Yes, she did. So, then where was her faith? Maybe it was in the fact that in the back of her mind she continued to cling to her desire, and when God shared that she and Abraham would have their child of promise she clung even tighter to that desire and hope. She may have been laughing on the outside, but maybe in the depths of her soul she was shouting, “Yes, Lord! Yes! I believe it! I receive it!” Maybe. Just maybe. 

I can share from my own experience that even though my husband and I have three children between us, the desire to have a child together is strong. Our desire to have this precious child doesn’t mean that we don’t love the three children we have now. Our child of promise is wanted. It is already loved. It is prayed for. My soul yearns for this precious child. My heart longs for Ada and/or Liam (maybe the Lord will choose to bless us with just one, or maybe He will bless us with both). 

So even though part of me is screaming, “Screw this! I am done! I have had enough of this emotional roller coaster. I am sick of the same crap every month. I am tired of seeing pregnancy announcements, birth announcements, gender reveals, and the likes plastered all over my social networks, all while I am over hearing dying inside. I have had enough of it!,” I can’t ignore the other part of me. The other part that whispers, “Don’t give up Jaclyn. It’s not a lost cause. Your pain will turn into joy soon.” And it might sound weird and crazy to some of you, but even though there are times when I am so mad at God and want to scream at Him over this pain, He is where I find the greatest comfort. I can do nothing apart from Him. I am afraid of the dark pit I might find myself in if I let go of Him for even one second. So I cling tighter to Him. I rest in Him. I bury my sobbing heart in Him. And I allow Him to hold me while I break into a million pieces. And He lets me. There is no other place that makes sense for me to be than in His arms. It is the only place that makes sense. 

I will continue to press on in faith even on the days where my faith isn’t even the size of a mustard seed. Why? Because I know my God is greater than any pain I might have. He is bigger than any doubt. He is more powerful than any disappointment and discouragement I might face. He is my God who loves and adores me no matter what. He is making a way even if I can’t see it. And He is forever faithful. The enemy will not have the victory because I am the precious daughter of the Most High God, and in Him is where I find my strength, hope, and faith. 

Keeping the Faith


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This verse of scripture is one that might seem a bit odd for my post today, seeing as though I am not posting in celebration to an announcement I have been longing over three years to announce. I don’t have that announcement yet. No clever “we’re having a baby” announcement. No cute picture of a tiny pair of TOMS in the middle of my feet and my husband’s feet. No picture of an ultrasound showing the beautiful picture of a miracle made reality. None of that.

No, this post is one of sharing my struggle of a desire still being unfulfilled. A heart left empty yet again. A longing still aching to be made reality. Another month of a heart breaking into a million tiny pieces that nothing and no one can put back together. Not even all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could fix this. It is a pain so deep and so real that it can’t be understood by anyone who has never experienced it. And still a pain that I believe can only truly be understood not only by those who have experienced it, but also by only a woman. I don’t think men can even fully understand the full extent of a heart broken by this desire to have a child.

So, why this verse of scripture then? Why would I choose a verse that is used in celebration? I used it partly because I am told over and over again to keep believing. Keep having faith that my child of promise will come. Keep clinging to my Heavenly Father and trust in Him, that He hears my prayers and is answering them in His time. And the other part is because when this child of promise is made a reality, this will be the verse of scripture painted above his/her crib. It will be not only my reminder of a promise fulfilled, but it will be there as a blessing over my precious miracle.

Call my crazy if you want. Honestly, most days I question my own sanity in more ways that just in this. Again, some days are easier than other days. Some days I can go without shedding a tear over this, and other days it takes all I have not to burst into uncontrollable weeping much less even get out of bed.

Yes, I have a beautiful daughter that I am thankful for. She is a blessing. So, please don’t  be one of those who questions why I would want another child if I already have one. All I can tell you is that I have a longing and a desire to be a mother again. I have a longing to feel a child growing within my womb and to experience the miracle of birth with my husband. And it isn’t one that can be satisfied by anything else. It isn’t like wanting an ice cream cake, and instead choosing a cup of greek yogurt. This is much deeper.

I am told, “in God’s time,” “keep believing,” “you have to have faith,” and “don’t think negatively.” I know all of these are said with well-meaning intentions, but honestly it doesn’t do anything for my deep hurt. Do I believe God can work miracles? Absolutely. Do I have faith that God will one day bless me with my child of promise? Most days. Do I enjoy feeling down and heartbroken? No. But I am human, and I fall short more often than I would like to.

I know I am probably all over the place with this post, but that is how raw emotions are. One minute you feel this way, and the next minute without warning your emotions are on the way opposite side of the spectrum.

I have names for my children of promise: Ada Willow Turner and Liam Eli Turner. (Again, call my crazy if you want to.) I pray that Ada and Liam would grow inside my womb to be healthy, strong, warriors for the kingdom of God. I pray that God will bless me with these precious miracles soon. I pray that my body is healthy enough to carry them and support them. I pray that my broken heart would be mended by the discovery of one (if not both) growing and developing within me. I pray that my sorrow would be replaced with joy. I pray that the enemy would not steal this precious gift from me.

So, 1 Samuel 1:27 is appropriate for this post. To serve as a reminder for me to not lose hope despite how I feel, and to speak life over what appears to be without life for the moment. I must keep believing. I must stand firm in my faith. I must not let the enemy use my emotions to cloud what I know to be true. I must continue looking to the Lord and seeking His face always.

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