I Felt Like Pavlov’s Dog!


  I Felt Like Pavlov’s Dog!

I passed The Company’s personality/honesty test with ninety-eight percent. The Company’s representatives didn’t believe anyone could score so high, so I took another version.   It was as consistent as the first.  Next, I aced the polygraph test, personal interviews and finally, demonstrated mechanical ability, so the job was mine!

It started out as great part-time work where I wore a pager and worked on-call. That first year, the $50 weekly pager-pay bought our groceries, and I rarely had more than two service calls per week.  The calls meant extra money too.  Sha-zaam!

That was many years ago when my kids were young and I worked for a company that did first-line repair of ATM machines.

Everything changed when the company signed contracts with a few large banking institutions. My bosses were new in this game and not very cultured in business savvy. They liked the way I found resolutions for a number of contract, training and employee issues.

Soon I became a manager for much of Northern California and dealt with some of the other Northwest contract installations as well.  When an ATM was down, getting it back into service ASAP was important!  Every non-op minute meant lost revenue for the bank.

Just one hour, that’s all we had. As contractors for various banks, a Field Servicer’s clock began ticking the moment they were paged.   An ATM Servicer was obliged to drive to a troubled machine, get into the bank, deal with security and alarms, access the ATM room, disarm the ATM itself, add money or make small repairs to the ATM and close the call.  –  all in one hour.   Goodness!  Some bank sites were so remote that travel to the location alone, took most of the response time allotted. It was always a fight!

My job kept me on-edge. Although I wasn’t exactly aware of it until much later, it caused sleep issues along with other physical problems. During the hours of 7 a.m. – 11p.m., that pager sang about every 15-20 minutes.  I’d no sooner resolve one issue than another was plopped on my plate.  When no other field servicer was available, the managers had to run service calls too.  My poor car averaged 800 miles a week at times, especially in the summer.

Before cell phones, phone booths were a familiar sight. No matter where I was on the road, if the pager peeped, I’d have pull over to find a phone and call into my dispatch.   If I was lucky enough to be at home, I could track calls from my computer.  That I liked!

Forever on the phone, the job did allow me to work from home most of the time during the day. This was important to me since I had a new baby and other small children.   In the evening, after the banks closed, I was expected to be part the field service team and resolve calls when needed.

One year grew into ten before I was able to move on. I coped, but that type of work really took its toll on my body AND my mind. Honestly, I hadn’t realized just how much it had affected me.  It seems I had been inadvertently trained to always be on alert!  Always ON, never OFF – seven days a week!

Eventually, I rejoined the dental field and felt pretty good after a few months away from ATMs, pagers and road-trips. To celebrate, my kids and I dropped into a fast food place for a relaxing lunch.

Sitting with the family felt good and I was doing just fine until….until that blasted french-fry machine went off signaling that the French fries were ready!!!!

The shrill beep-beep-beep-beep-beep caused me to tense up immediately! I fairly jumped out of my seat and bolted for the car.   The kids laughed and laughed when I sheepishly made my way back to the table.

Just like Pavlov’s dog!  Yes, I was a trained puppy!  The noise of that machine was so similar to my previous pager’s tone,  that I responded like I was going to a fire!

Unsettling, that’s what it was, and I was not happy with my reaction. It was not a good reminder of years of long-haul travel and always being on-call!

It took a while of reconditioning and lots of prayer for me to settle back into a more peaceful lifestyle.

Similarly, each one of us is exercised. From birth, a variety of reinforcements exert influence, either subconsciously or consciously.  Some good, some bad.

Our broken world is ruled by a wisdom that brings no peace but continually steals from us. Why?  Because it is earthly sensual and demonic, holding us at bay, yanking our chains to elicit the required behavioral responses.

What responses? Yank! Worry… Yank! Fear… Yank! Unrest… Yank! Torment …. Yank! Foreboding

It reminds me of how I was chained to that pager and phone for work! Although I liked the work and appreciated a certain amount of flexibility, part of me cringed each time my pager activated or the phone rang.

Well, my brain has been retrained and so have most of my reactions, both physically and spiritually! That goes for work and living life, in general.

Now, my first response to “crisis” is to hold myself calm with The Peace that passes all understanding. That keeps my mind restrained so it won’t respond to the chain-yanks of my flesh while I check in with Father God for instructions.

Notice, I didn’t say it was always easy to hold myself calm, but it does open the door for Wisdom – – from above to take over.

That Wisdom is pure. It is gentle and brings peace! It teaches me how to obey God’s will while filling me with mercy and good fruit.  He is The Good Shepherd and I am His sheep.  I hear His voice and the voice of a stranger I will not choose to follow.

Yep! Outside triggers and unfavorable responses are no longer my taskmaster.   Ring that Bell all you want!


This post is shared at “Tell Me a True Story.”


Rejected, Abandoned, Abused…………..



Rejected, Abandoned, Abused…………..  

A week went by and this newborn baby hardly saw her mother. The nurses in the Naval hospital cared for her judiciously while trying to encourage the mother to see her.  Mommy refused!  The reason?  This new mother was disappointed that the new baby was not a boy!  Such malicious seed sowed SO early!


Mommy and Daddy cannot agree on a name for their little girl. Mommy is irritated at the circumstance.  Daddy seems to pay more attention to the new baby than to her.  The emotional distance between mom and baby widens.


Eighteen months later, a little sister was born. Now the little girl was the BIG Sister and mother depended on her to be able to do more things for herself than might have been physically possible at that age – but that didn’t matter, you see, Mommy had a new baby!  This time she wanted a girl. And besides, Mommy didn’t feel well a lot of the time.


Another 18 months – it’s a boy!   Good thing the firstborn is already three.  She is expected to do a lot of everyone’s bidding AND care for the little sister. Not a lot of time to play when you have big responsibilities!  The house needs cleaning and that vacuum is so hard to figure out.  The broom is so tall and the sink is still so high.  Well, someone has to take care of things ‘cause Mommy doesn’t feel well quite a bit of the time and Daddy’s gone a lot. Finding something to eat is another story………

Rejection……. Neglect…..Abandonment……Abuse! 

A bright little 4 ½ year old hopped aboard a train bound for Denver.  She even remembered the name – The California Zephyr!  During the ride, she and the little sister were allowed to run through the train by themselves to get to the “dome” car so they could see the countryside.  There they sat, all by themselves, feeling very grown up.  She wished her Daddy could be here.  He always made her feel safe and when he was around she did not feel like she has to worry about her mother so much.  And….it was hard to make her little sister mind!

Rejection………Neglect…………. Abandonment! 

Now Grand Poppy was a nice enough old guy even though he always wore his hat. Yet, he always seemed to make the little girl feel a bit funny. She couldn’t decide why.  Didn’t he always let her eat a lot of his diet “candy,” Aids?  Even though it was only for a visit, Mommy was often pre-occupied, so Grandpa was expected to watch the little girl.  He snoozed and she wandered over to the nearby railroad tracks with little sister.  There they played for hours, sometimes hardly even noticing the train whistle in the distance.  Then they would scramble off the tracks and watch the giant locomotive whiz past.  Did anyone wonder where they were?

Rejected……. Abandoned………..Alone…….. 

Another new house. This one had a yard, and someone brought home a furry little white ball of a dog.  The girl called him Snowball.   He was certainly something to snuggle and to love – it felt good!  Shortly thereafter, a strange uncle had also moved in.  He had a bright idea to help clear weeds from the backyard.  Being from a farm, he just set fire to the weeds, never considering that it could also affect the fence.  The fence burned down, and as the fire crew arrived, the small dog ran into the busy street and was hit by a car.  No one seemed to care as she cried and cried over the lost pup – her only Friend.  “Go to your room and be quiet!”

Alone again….. 

The Kindergarten day was too short! In Kindergarten, she could be one of the other children.  While she was there she didn’t have to be occupied with thinking about taking care of two other kids or hearing her mother complain about how bad she felt. She loved to sing, and the teacher let her lead almost all the class songs.  In first grade, she even got to be in the Easter Pageant!  The class made Easter Bonnets and memorized a whole lot of music for the event.  School was good.  So was Sunday school – she even got to sing solos!


Music Lessons, voice, accordion, piano…..this six year old was in heaven! The teacher who came to their home said she tested so well and had perfect pitch.  Then, almost as soon as it all began, everything was removed.  There was no money to pay for these things and Mother was not feeling well again.  The six-year old girl walked, unaccompanied to the store, church, Good News Club and, just about everywhere else.  Still she sang.


At Good News Club.……..there was some more relief! She was part of a team.  Girls and boys were divided up into Red or Blue teams and competed by memorizing Bible verses.  She was Captain once or twice.  No one helped her at home, but she had a good memory.  She looked forward to Vacation Bible School which was right around the corner from the good News Club – still quite a walk for a 6 year old.   Bible stories were a favorite, but not before she found she had a flare for crafts part of the event. Her mother had spent some time teaching her to sew –hemming, to be exact.  Before she even felt confident, a bunch of curtains were thrown her way….. What an uncomfortable chore!  VBS was so much better – AND – she got to keep whatever she made…for her very own!  No one criticized.

Acceptance………Self Acceptance…..Maybe I am Okay 

You’re not my daughter if you don’t get all “A”s. She hated hearing those words from a father whom she barely ever saw. Her jaw tightened and she tried to suppress the tears.  What a disconnected thing for a father to say!  Didn’t he understand?  After all, a “B” grade wasn’t THAT bad and besides it’s hard to get “A’s” when you have to be absent so much in order to take care of your mother, brothers and sister!

No one ever approves of me! Will I EVER be Okay? 

“Mr. Ono was in a plane crash! “

Those were hard words to hear. Sitting in orchestra that day, the tears fell hot and heavy. The girl would never see Mr. Ono again. His plane had crashed while he was on the way home from his vacation. Something felt like it had been ripped from her very insides!  He had been so kind and helpful.  She loved orchestra and had learned so much under his kind guidance.  Besides coaching her on the violin, Mr. Ono started her on the viola and cello as well.  Now….there was nothing…..  She came home late that afternoon only to find out that her father had taken her siblings and left.  Gone?  Where to?  Her mother didn’t feel very well and was also crying. There was just the two of them.

She guessed she’d better get a job. Who would hire a seventh grade girl?

Rejected….Abandoned …..Alone…. again and again…… 

Without warning, all those random memories deluged my mind, one afternoon as I strained to remember a particular thing about my childhood!

I had not had that clear of insight in years! As a child, I am not sure I could have verbalized them.  Watching the “movie” in my head,  it occurred to me the “set-up” that had been planned for my downfall since my earliest years.

Thank God for His precious Holy spirit! On so many levels, life rarely turns out how any of us think it should it should.  The enemy of our souls is set for our destruction, but GOD knows how to deliver us out of it.  Good beginning or bad, The Father  manages to shine His light into the situation – into our lives!  If only we’ll grab hold of it. Even a kid CAN do this.

Vague memories of an angel appearing at the foot of my bed kept me encouraged. Did I really see an angel, or did I dream it.  I can ‘t say for certain.  I only know that it gave me the courage to keep HOPE alive while everything around me fell apart.  


I can’t really say I had much of a childhood. And…carefree – what was that? I was allowed to grow up but there was no nurture.  Daily existence was rough on a little spirit.

Over the years, God let me know that the important thing was that HE approved of me!

”In HIM I live and move and have my being” was like an IV drip to sustain me!

Psalms empowered me with the fact that HE was the strength of my life, even when my father and mother abandon me.

Early experiences shape our response to our world and to God, but ultimately, God has to train the unrighteous thinking out of us all. What ever time it takes, He reshapes us into HIS image and after HIS likeness.

My fear became confidence in His ability through me. Neglect and sorrow gave way to appreciation and worship.  My stubbornness became steadfastness, and I traded a lack of foundation for a life built on The Rock.

Yes, I know those years occurred, but it’s like a story told to me by someone else.

With God I changed things in MY generation and I trust my children will do the same!



The Day I Ate a Moth


Running….running…running! Breathing hard, knew I was already late.

Out of breath and gasping for more, I wasn’t planning to stop until I reached the church.   I couldn’t miss!  I had to get there.   With several blocks left to go, I stepped up my race-pace.  The Red team would be toast once I arrived!

Watery eyes made me squint, and I could hear myself gulping air. My lungs were stinging, but I was purposed.  My numb legs mechanically trekked the sidewalk.  Nothing could stop me now!

Nothing that is – – – – except a huge moth!

Into my mouth it flew and plastered itself to the back of my throat.  I had inhaled this monster-bug!   (Well, maybe technically, they are not bugs.)

Ugggghhhh!   Yuk! Pft!  Pft!  Cough…sputter…gag!  Then, ( wouldn’t you know it) my involuntary response kicked in and….I swallowed it!

I wanted to throw up, but I couldn’t.

While I was still bent over, making obtuse retching sounds, a concerned passerby, tried to help. Saliva drooled to the ground and my voice wouldn’t work to respond.  All I could think of was, “Leave me alone!”

My embarrassment overtook me and, still slobbering and wheezing, all I could do was run.

“Let me help you…..” The voice trailed as I left behind my surprised would-be rescuer.

I didn’t care.

Rounding the corner and out of sight, stopping was finally mandatory. Now I was sick to my stomach and the convulsions hit.  My lunch, the moth, and stomach slime splattered the sidewalk and my shoes.

By the time I collected myself and got to the church, I was a mess. All I wanted to do was find the bathroom.

I no longer cared that I was the star of the Blue team and that they couldn’t live without ME. I no longer cared about winning.  The wind had been knocked out of my sails and I was just glad for a place of respite.

Faintly aware that I smelled like curdled milk, I sat in the back and watched the two Bible teams go at it.

Sure I knew all the answers, but suddenly, it wasn’t so important. I realized that it was just good to have a place where I was safe and could recover. My head and body hurt.

That day I actually HEARD many of the bible passages that had previously become rote.

Even though I was a pre-teen, I got it. God’s Word comforted me that day like nothing else.

And next time I run?   I’ll keep my mouth closed!

The Morning Speaks


The Morning Speaks


Avian singing begins,    The night receding fast
While over the land, gentle winds awake
The morning’s here at last!
Dawn’s blushing rays peek through,  Sifting the trees and leaves
Then lighting the hills, softly they wake
And stir the gentle breeze
Gently now they stroke  –  The earth with great delight
And dancing with glee, rousing the world
They chase away the night!
Breathe it in, savor the new  –  Delight in blessings giv’n
For staying in awe, brings marvels anew
A little taste of heaven!


God’s great glory shines forth  –  It doesn’t miss a beat.
Creation’s own song, is in each heart
And draws us to HIS feet!


Happy New Year,

She’s on Empty!



Lively singing and clapping engulfed us! Nearly everyone around was fully engaged in the music.   We were visiting a church out of town, and although the music was new to us, it was not difficult to catch on. Just a wonderful day to worship God, spirits were high!

Ornamented with high dollar clothing, expensive purse and boots, the woman next to me was in full motion – whooping and hollering at the top of her voice. Okay – – so she was making her form of a “joyful noise”.  The fact that she kept bumping into me was a bit distracting here and there, but I lived!

Once we were all seated, and the Pastor began speaking, she commenced fanning herself with her hand, as if she were about to faint!   She nodded her head vigorously and rocked back and forth while muttering , “Oh yes” – – – ”MMMM-hmmm!”

The more the pastor spoke about the importance of leading a calm, unhindered life and exercising self-restraint, the more she rocked and agreed.

The admonishment was for people to be alert and watch how we respond to situations so that we are not pressured, or scared, out of our purpose in life.

The woman’s rocking motion intensified! Her head shook and her “MMMM-Hmmm’s” got louder!  She was hilarious and downright entertaining.  I had to work to restrain a laugh.

“Wow”, I thought to myself. “She is one on-fire ball of energy!”

While I am not quite that demonstrative, I realize that there are all kinds of personalities out there. Overall, it seemed like this woman had a handle on the whole wide world!

After being startled by one of Action-Woman’s whoops, I tried to turn my attention back to what was being addressed and take a few notes. With all her rocking, I think I was suffering a little from motion sickness myself!

I said a small prayer for her. Maybe it was more for me, I don’t know….

Just before the service ended, I had a chance to give this woman a hug and spoke a few encouraging words in her ear. She seemed surprised!  That’s when I knew.

A strange feeling crept over me and I felt a gentle nudge inside – – – ”She’s on empty!”

The pastor voice punctuated the moment as he asked if anyone needed prayer. When he elaborated about needing prayer for the removal of bad influences, inappropriate associations, or other hindrances to a peaceful life, the “MMMMM-Hmmmm“ lady about fell all over her son, stumbling past the people next to him as she beat a path to the front!  Startled family members and friends stared at her in amazement!

I chuckled to myself for a moment, and then I was hit with a thought. I had felt a little silly giving her the type of encouragement that I had, but I did it just the same. All things being considered, I guess one can never really know just how much the effect of gracious words might have on someone else – – – even if they don’t “seem” to need it.

As I gazed around, I wondered just how many other people were sitting there looking like they had it all together, but were actually riding along on fumes because they were “Sitting on EMPTY!”