Thursday, May 31, 2012

Don't worry about being there yet

The car was designed to get people from point A to point B. Henry Ford brought convenience to the American family by putting a box on four wheels and giving it a motor. The world became smaller. Miles became just a number and no longer constrained the traveling soul. People could move to areas that were once remote. The landscape of our country changed forever.
When Ford came up with this genius idea I doubt he knew what else he was creating: a box with all the elements needed to bring the human patience to its breaking point. It is practically a torture chamber for the short fused. To start with, it is a small space in which you must be seated. Forget pacing, which some nervous Nelly types are prone to. If you are anxious, annoyed or peeved you have to sit there, tapping the foot is as far as nervous energy can take you. Secondly, you are surrounded by other similar boxes, all directed by people who have minds of their own. Uh-oh. People do crazy things and they don't stop when they get behind the wheel of a car. Sometimes other drivers make an honest mistake - pull out in front of another car, forget a turning signal or get confused at a traffic circle. But other drivers are just plain nuts. They race around at speeds that make your head spin, weave in and out of traffic, or, if you are in Florida or northern Pennsylvania, drive at speeds that make a snail look quick.
The third, and sometimes most trying, aspect of driving can be the other passengers. If you put people in a confined area together for extended periods of time chances are someone is going to hit a nerve somewhere along the highway. Maybe it is the husband who won't stop for directions. The mother who keeps making wrong turns. Or it could be the daughter who gets an attitude. Lock people in a metal box and the possibilities are endless.
If those passengers happen to be kids then good luck. Crying is a given. Whining is expected. The words "Are we there yet?" becomes a mantra. Kids don't seem to grasp the concept of miles and time when it comes to car travel. They may ask how much longer and get the response of three hours. Thirty minutes later they come back asking how much longer, only to be surprised when the answer isn't five minutes but is still upwards of two hours. A watched pot never boils and kids asking "are we there yet?" never get their desired response.
I must admit that sometimes I can be child like in the car. I swear to you, time stops. It must. Because there are times when a car trip that should have felt quick and easy feels like an eternity. There have been road trips that have felt like each mile took ten minutes even though it really only lasted sixty seconds. I'm antsy. I want out. I don't want to sit on my butt one minute longer. I confess, my patience can run as thin as a five year old's.
I wish I could say that my patience was better off the road and out of the car but I would be fudging the truth. In line at the grocery store I scan each line for the youngest cashier (they are always faster) and the least number of customers with the fewest items in their cart. I don't want to wait longer than necessary. I'm impatient.
When ordering out at restaurants I want to order the first time the waitress comes to the table. Forget the first stop for drinks and second for food - I want to condense the process. Get on with it! The sooner I tell you what I want, the sooner you punch my order into the little screen and the faster the cooks make it. Then, tada, the quicker it is in front of me at my table. I don't want to waste time. I tend to be impatient.
That brings me to a more serious issue of impatience: my health. Not to sound strong and mighty, but through most of my health ordeal I have remained patient. My faith has kept me pushing forward, searching for an answer to this mystery, trusting that God is in control. As I flew to Seattle I was hopeful that the doctor there would be able to treat me successfully. Even though that didn't work I didn't give up. I went to California with the same hope and the same enthusiasm for answers. That fell flat, too. But I still held onto faith and went to Florida full of assurance that this time, the answers would be found.
Low and behold, I started getting better. During that time it was easy to be patient. In fact, I was thrilled and enjoyed the baby steps of progress. Impatience wasn't on the radar screen. That is until I took a sharp turn for the worse. The few pounds I had gained slipped away (again), my energy took a nose dive and troubling symptoms resurfaced. The doctor assured me that I would see progress AFTER three months of treatment. At this point I'm at a month and a half. I can't expect my health to be back on a steady course yet. I'm only half way there.
I should be hopeful and upbeat. I'm half way to the three month mark! The end of this two year saga is coming to a close! Yet, I'm more impatient than I've ever been. I'm not impatient in a sense of hopelessness or lack of faith. I'm impatient to find out if this will work. I'm impatient to know how God is going to use me. Will he keep me in this ill health and use me to further his kingdom that way? Or is it his will to heal me and use me that way?
My life is stalled out, and I'm waiting for jumper cables. Bottom line is I don't have a clue when they will arrive. For all I know, they may never come. I may have to resort to lacing up my sneakers and continuing on foot.
And this is where my impatience sets in. I want to know if this treatment will work or if this is going to my life forever and ever amen. Am I destined for an existence of health trouble? The doctor says three months, and although I do trust him, I know God doesn't heal everyone. I know there are people that he lets live for him with health struggles and disabilities. That doesn't mean they can't be powerful for the Lord. Some of those people are the strongest voices for his love, grace and mercy. I don't understand why God allows those people to suffer. I remind myself that Paul, the author of 14 books of the Bible, endured a thorn in his flesh. Although I don't know what that thorn was exactly I do know that thorns hurt and I wouldn't want one stuck in my body for the rest of my life just as much as I don't want to be stuck at this weight. Paul had an unpleasant affliction to bear. If he had to deal with such an undesirable circumstance why should believers today be immune?
Answer: we shouldn't be immune. And we aren't.
There are moments when my patience for suffering wears thin. I want to know the future. I don't want to be left in the dark any longer. But God doesn't want me to know the future. He doesn't want me to be out of my health crisis yet. He wants me to grow in patience.
As Mom and I traveled back from Florida I couldn't help but see the patience I needed in the form of Pippy. Once again, her life lessons were being spoken through her calm, peaceful slumber in the back seat. She was being patient. She didn't know how much longer she would be in the car. She can't ask "Are we there yet?" and even if I told her the miles left to travel it wouldn't make a difference to her.
That should be my attitude towards life, too. I shouldn't be concerned about asking God to speed up his time table or reveal to me what he has in store for my future. I should be more concerned with waking up each day and living in obedience to him, worshiping him for the gift of life he has given me each day. He has sustained me through shockingly low weight and troubling symptoms. He has kept me safe through countless miles traveled on the search for answers. I have so much to be thankful for. My focus should be on who God is and what he has done for me. He is a God of love and he is unfailingly faithful. He gave his only Son so that I could experience eternity with him and be saved from my sinful ways.
If I am healed, I don't deserve it. If I am not healed, I don't deserve it. I am a fallen, sinful, inadequate human who is only saved by the unfathomable grace of God. Everything I have is a gift. Each day is a present wrapped in sparkling paper, topped with a massive bow.
I am at the mercy of his timing and his will. No matter how he chooses to use me, I am here for the long haul. I am his for eternity.
I am throwing impatience out the window. I am resting in my Savior's faithfulness, knowing full well that I may never get what looks like a desirable outcome on this side of heaven. But that is only because human vision is so limited. I know that the God's will is best and I am standing firm in that truth.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What is in a name?

Have you ever wondered how your parents came up with your name? Some of us have probably heard the story of how Mom and Dad finally landed on our unique nom de plume. Maybe it had to do with a loved one who had passed, the name's meaning or even a famous movie star. Who knows, parents have their reasons. I was going to be named Samantha but my parents had already given that name away to the cat. So, on to plan B - Stephanie. My middle name, Ellen, came from my grandmother.
I've always been quite fond of my name. It is easy to pronounce, not too difficult to spell and never leaves people saying, "Whaaaat??" Plus, as an added bonus, I get to write a cursive S every time I have to give a signature and I tend to think that is one of the prettiest letters written in cursive. And last, but not least, is the meaning of my name. I hit the name meaning jackpot: crowned one. I will refrain from elaborating so that I don't appear to be flaunting my good fortune.
I've never asked why the name picking came down to Samantha or Stephanie and why my parents liked those names more than Jessica or Ashley (the top names of 1990). I assume that parents now do some google searching to aid in the name hunt. There is a whole website devoted to unique baby names and pages for the top names of any year you can think up. I looked up the top names of 1920 and sure enough a list of 200 girls and 200 boys names popped up in a split second. Mary was number one, followed by Dorothy for the girls. Toto didn't make it on the list but Robert and John did for the boys. The internet even had popular names for 1899. John and Mary topped the list again. Apparently, in the late 1800's to early 1900's Mom and Dads weren't getting very creative with their name choices. They were devoted to names of Biblical figures. Who could blame them? The Bible provides some solid name choices. Who wouldn't want to have a child like Mary? She had crazy faith by the age most girls are just getting a driver's learning permit these days. And John was the beloved disciple. Those names have good meaning. Cudos to those parents for sticking with solid name choices.
Now, I'm not sure a round of applause is necessarily in order for the names being stamped on baby birth certificates in this country in the 21st century. I blame celebrities. The Hollywood Hills are alive with the sound of crazy names.
Take for example Blanket, son of Michael Jackson. His "formal" name is Prince Michael Jackson II.
So original given that Michael's first son was named Prince Michael Jackson. I guess he liked the name so much he decided to reuse it. But that is a pretty long name to be yelling across the ranch to get the kids back in the house for dinner, hence the need for a second, odder name - Blanket. This name choice is the set up for a very strange superhero. Instead of a cape, he will wear a baby blue bed cloth, saving children from scratching wool quilts. I can hear the theme music now.
And who can forget Apple? Daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. My guess is Gwyneth had some pent up anger about her own name. Parents, don't take out your name rage on an innocent child. They had nothing to do with your parents twisted thinking that went into your namesake. At least Gwyneth picked a good fruit. It could be worse. She could have picked Duku - a fruit found in Asia. A child named Duku would have a lifetime of difficulty ahead. Can you picture the first day of school? The teachers would struggle to pronounce the name at role call, scanning the room for a would a foreign looking student, no doubt. What a shock to see an all-American girl probably sporting $300 hair ties and a diamond encrusted lunch box. The name Duku would create utter confusion, leading to a lifetime of Duku repeating and spelling out her name ad nauseum. For the sake of children everywhere I hope parents stick to more well known fruits.
Although fruit names haven't made a massive sweep in the celebrity world the odd name choices continue to abound. We could be here all day really. Pilot, Rocco, Sunday (last I checked that was the holy day of the week), Winter (thought that was a season, but what do I know), Axel (a part of a car?) or Kal-el (huh??).
But it isn't just celebrities. Your average Mom with a mini-van and grown out roots is in on the action too. Names such as Peria (girl) and Quentin (boy) make it on baby name lists. Parents don't even need to make up crazy names. They already exist. The internet is here to prove it.
Choosing a name for a child is not a matter to be taken lightly. That name will be stuck on them like a tattoo. Removal, if they so choose, won't be easy. Just think of all the things a name is attached to before a child can even read it. A social security card, birth certificate, insurance policy, the family Christmas greeting card, birth announcement and probably a birthday cake. We rely on our names for everything. In a moment a name is assigned. All it takes is the sweep of a pen across paper. Yet that name defines us for a lifetime. Parents, don't take this responsibility lightly.
So, how should parents approach such a colossal decision?
The implications are huge. Parents probably fret about what the name they choose will mean for their child's furutre. I understand it may be too much for some parents to bear. What if they mess up? What if their child hates the name choice? What if it leads to being teased in school?
Fear no more. There is hope.
Have a contest. The Virginia Aquarium is doing it, why not you too? A baby otter that has recently become a new member of the VA Aquarium family showed up without a name. Knowing the importance of a name, we know having an anonymous otter won't do. You can't go around calling your otter, "hey you, the one tail."
So, how to choose the proper name? Hold a contest, of course. The aquarium is asking people to submit their ideas for this little guy's name and then a winner will be chosen.
This is brilliant. It takes away all the need for endless internet searches. I wonder if they will put all the names in a hat and then draw one at random? Let fate decide. This takes the pressure off of the aquarium staff. What a relief. Now the staff won't have to live with the dread of a bad name choice.
So, I'm putting in my recommendation: Elmo. Hey, if a red puppet could pull it off why not an otter?
What would you choose? Get creative. Deadline ends June 15. Don't miss this golden opportunity to get in on some otter naming action.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Faith in Action

I never bought Pippy a Bible. Maybe that was poor parenting on my part, but I just didn't think it was a proper gift for a dog. I've provided her with an array of soft, plush toys that squeak and crunch. I have purchased countless different types of treats in an attempt to find one that fits my dog's picky taste buds. But a Bible with the name "Pippy" inscribed across the cover never entered my mind. That is a gift more well suited for a human's first birthday, not so much a dog.
I guess I underestimated what Pippy could understand. I assumed that Biblical principles were lost on the canine community. After all, they can't read the words, how could they be expected to live them? But, oh me of little faith.
Pippy has a firm grasp on one of the most fundamental concepts of Christianity: faith. Watching Pippy go about her daily life has given me a front row seat to faith in action. I expected some bathroom accidents in the house when I bought Pippy, but I did not expect a Godly example for living out the words of the Bible.
Pippy never questions what is next in life. Now, I know what you're thinking - the dog can't talk. I am aware of this and aware of the initially absurdity of a statement that turns an animal into a human. Yet, there is reason to follow my line of thinking. Some dogs shake or whimper. I have seen dogs openly displaying fear when they come in contact with a stranger or a new dog. These dogs show that they aren't comfortable with the situation they have been thrust into. They cower behind their owners legs or yank on the leash in the opposite direction. Quite frankly, they are scared.
Pippy never has this problem. She remains ready for anything and takes it all in stride. Sit in the car all day with minimal walking about outside? No problem, she just sleeps. Welcome a few new faces into the home for the evening? Of course she will be the first to greet them at the door with that stellar smile. Go for a walk on a wooded trail? Why not? Just make sure to let her sniff for a minute or two. Sleep in a different hotel each night? She'll make herself at home anywhere.
She has faith that, no matter where she is or what situation she is put into, it is all going to turn out a-o-k. She trusts that I am taking care of her and that I won't let her come into harms way. She isn't afraid of the new experiences, smells and faces she encounters on these adventures. She doesn't show any complaint when she is removed from her normal and thrown into a whole new world.
I wish I could say the same about myself! Unfortunately, I don't always practice what my dog is preaching. I forget to just have faith that my Heavenly Father is taking care of me. If I can take care of Pippy and make sure she is safe and sound, can't God do the same for me?
Hebrews 11:1 says "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
Unless Pippy is a telepathic dog psychic, I don't think she knows what is coming next on our travels. She has no clue that this weekend she'll be staying with my nieces and nephews while I'm out of town for a wedding. She is blissfully unaware that when my parents return from the wedding, I won't be with them. She still has yet to find out that the 22 hour car ride she just endured is going to be repeated in 2 weeks so she can see me again in Florida. All of this is unknown in her little doggie life, but, last I checked, she doesn't seem too concerned.
What good would that do anyhow? I'm going to be gone this weekend and then back to Florida even if she would rather I stay home. She's going to go on another road trip with Mom, Noelle and Isabel in June no matter what tree she'd rather be sniffing outside that day. Her human protectors have certain plans for her and they are for her own good, so she is along for the ride.
That is really the point. We are along for the ride of our life, riding shotgun with a much better driver. We don't need to worry about what curve is coming up next and, ultimately, where our destination lies. He has the trip all planned out. All we need is the faith to sit back and enjoy the journey.
This should be a relief, really. We don't need to worry about going left or right at the next T-intersection. We don't have to concern ourselves with traffic jams and endless red lights.
We just need to chill out in the back seat. We need to enjoy the calm purr of the car's engine while curling up with a comfy blanket and favorite pillow. We get to lay back and enjoy the journey.
When Pippy first came to Florida, after a long road trip, we took her to a dog park for the first time. In Erie, dog parks are the stuff of children's books, not where you go on a sunny morning. But in Florida, aka dog country, dog parks abound. Pippy got her first taste of one when she arrived. We walked through the gates, unhooked her leash and let her run to her hearts content. At home, she doesn't often have this freedom. There isn't a secure fence around our yard and the road is too close and too busy to let her run free. But at the park, she could run, jump and frollic to her hearts content.
Resting in the back of the car driving through the hills of West Virginia she had no idea of the park adventure ahead of her. It was a total surprise and, I would say, totally worth the long wait in the car.
Same goes for you and I. Maybe we are having to lay low today. Maybe we are sick of riding in the back of the car and just want to be out running free. Hang tight. Don't lose the faith. You are on your way to something incredible - it just takes some traveling time to get there. Until then, sit back and enjoy the scenery. God is taking you somewhere incredible. Prepare to be surprised - and to run free!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Smile

We stepped off the elevator and walked toward the revolving doors. The crowds in the hotel lobby were massive. Visitors were milling about in swim suits, towels and baseball caps. There was no denying it, summer had arrived. As we parted our way through the sea of people a man started to whistle. It wasn't a "Hot Chick" whistle, it was a "Come here, Fido" whistle. At first I kept walking, assuming the whistle was directed at one of the many kids (or maybe husbands) swarming around me. But the sound continued.
Finally, I turned around and came face to face with a small man wearing a massive grin. He was whistling in my direction, but not at me. He was whistling at Pippy, my companion who was dutifully trotting along side me, maneuvering the crowd with ease. The man immediately bent down, greeting Pippy on her level. He waved his arms about and played with her. They were, of course, fast friends.
The man expressed pure joy while playing with Pip. As for her part, Pippy had ears swaying and tongue hanging down in an expression of happiness. She was wearing her dog smile.
Watching those two meet and interact set off a little spark in me that hasn't stopped growing. I watched the joy spread across their faces and couldn't help but wear a smile, too. Their time spent together only lasted a short minute but the lesson they displayed has stuck with me much longer.
Smile.
Pippy wore a smile. Her new friend wore a smile. They were glowing with enthusiasm for life. You couldn't look at the two of them without breaking into a grin.
I've witnessed Pippy in smiling action before. Even if she doesn't stop to play, she still sports a smile. She shows it off as we go on our daily walks or when I take her out to public places like the farmer's market or a cafe. People don't always stop and pet her (some people actually walk right by - I don't get those folks) but that doesn't stop her from giving them a million dollar smile. Her joyful attitude has nothing to do with the attention she receives or what is happening around her, it is simply who she is.
How often do I walk through life wearing a straight face or even a frown? It seems to be in our human nature to smile in response to something we find positive. But how often do we smile just because we can? How many people do you see who wear a down and out expression? They may not be having a bad day, per-se, but they wear a downcast face because, why? Just because it tends to fall that way?
But think about what you can do with a smile! Think about the room you can brighten and the lives you can touch simply by turning a frown upside down. What did the orphans in Annie say? You're never fully dressed without a smile.
They were onto something.
You can dress up in fancy clothes and pair it with the perfect accessories but that isn't what makes joy shine from within. A smile shines brighter than any piece of jewelry or sparkly top. Yet, it is the last thing we ever think about putting on - and far too often we miss it altogether.
Pippy is teaching me to put a smile on first. Put on the smile before you brush your teeth, make the bed, change tops or even reach for your glasses in the morning. Start off smiling.
The smile that you put on in the morning has the power to influence the entire day, from morning coffee to a goodnight prayer. When we smile even our tone of voice changes. People look at us differently, and occasionally they smile back. The world looks brighter and sweeter when you greet it with upturned lips. Don't wear the smile just because something good is happening, smile because you know that God is good and life is good, no matter what the days agenda or circumstances.
I decided to try out a Pippy way of approaching the world. I've started to smile more. I'm not smiling because my life is going perfectly or because I'm feeling like a million bucks. Actually, I am not feeling all too swell and I'd really like to change a few things in my life at this moment but that has nothing to do with what facial expression I'm wearing. I'm choosing to wear a smile. This smile is changing the way I see my circumstances and the way people are looking at me. They are smiling back. The imperfections in my life are looking more like bumps then they are boulders. This smile is changing the way I'm feeling inside and it is changing the way I'm seeing the world around me. It is shining a bright light in life.
And, most importantly, I'm spreading a little bit of joy. Because when you smile you can't keep happiness and gladness inside. You are pouring it out to the world around you.
I'm sure there will be days when I forget to wear my smile but thank goodness I'll have Pippy to remind me. She is always fully dressed with her million dollar smile.

Lessons

I am back in Erie. This is the place I have called home since I was 18 months old, yet for the first time in my life, I feel as though I am here as a visitor. My new home in Sarasota has set in and become real to me. It is unbelievable even to me that the transition came so easily and without effort, but it is the truth. My home is in Lakewood Ranch, FL. I am from Erie, PA. The two are separate. And I am at peace with that.
Even though I have a home somewhere else now, I was and am excited to be back here for this week. I'm excited to sit in my old seat at Panera, see my family, sleep in my comfy bed and drive on the streets I know like the palm of my hand. There is an ease to being in this place, like a well worn pair of shoes that you can't bear to throw away. That is Erie. It is the place I will always be able to sink into, even if only for a few days.
The trip to get here wasn't an easy one, though. My health has been in crisis for the better part of a week and 22 hours in the car was a challenge. Thankfully, we made it safely. That is the most important thing. Driving on the interstate you are bound to see an accident, fender bender, or left over debris from a collision earlier in the day. We saw just that on I-75. Two cars, burnt beyond recognition and their contents spewing onto the road. The scene looked more like a junk yard, not a highway. It was a stunning reminder of the risks involved in travel and the thankfulness we should carry with us every mile we drive without incident.
Thank you, God, for getting us here safely.
The trip was filled with more than just a reminder of how quickly life can turn on its head, but it was a new look at Pippy and the lessons she has to teach me.
This was my first time in a hotel with the Pipster. Mom traveled down to Florida with her and raved about "the best traveling dog" ever. I had only seen this marvel in short bursts. The farthest we had ever traveled up until this point was 8 hours in the car and she was just as Mom put it, the best ever. Now I got to see it 3 days in a row, 22 hours in all.
She was perfection. The best doesn't even grasp the amazing puppy I have. There is no other dog like her, I am sure of this. She laid on the back seat the entire trip, never barking, never shaking from fear of the car, never whining because we weren't at our destination yet, never making a peep. She sat up at times and did a little normal dog panting with the tongue hanging and ears flopping. But mostly she just slept. On bathroom breaks and quick walks she pranced with glee. She soaked in each new surrounding and never complained when it was time to get on the road again.
And once again, I started to learn lessons from my traveling companion.
I started learning lessons on the road with Pippy.
I can't get into them all in one blog post. I don't know if a book will ever be able to contain them all, but little by little I am going to share them. Pippy has come into my life not just to enhance it solely, but to enhance the lives of everyone she meets. She is the star of every encounter, the greeting committee at every open door and a comforter in times of need. And I don't want to keep her to myself. I want to share the amazing gift she is with you.
Pippy is teaching me lessons of life, love, and how to live with a joyful spirit. If I can convey even a fraction of who she is in these words then you will get to meet an amazing dog pouring out gifts in the form of lessons. Get ready to receive!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cows Diet

What happens when a man calls a woman a cow?
He might get slapped. He might cause a river of tears and the use of a box of tissues. Screaming might ensue. If the man and woman in question are married you can be sure someone is sleeping on the couch that night, and it isn't a farm animal.
Bottom line: calling a woman a cow doesn't go over well - and with good reason. Calling someone a cow is an insult. If you ask Urban Dictionary what a "cow" is the very first definition is as follows: Someone who blocks the aisles in a grocery store with their massive girth. This comes before animal, source of milk and dairy products or livestock. Nope, Urban Dictionary jumps right to the juicy stuff, proving my point (thank you, urbandictionary.com) that calling a woman a cow is in no way a compliment.
Given this term, I was surprised to see a woman on Fox News this morning from the company "Skinny Cow". Hmm... I would have expected the spokesperson to be a man. What kind of woman would name their company such a thing? Who wants to be buying products touting this offensive slang?
I wouldn't want to be admitting I was eating something from Skinny Cow. It doesn't seem like the kind of food you'd want to be proud of. Baskin Robbins? Ben and Jerry's? Sure, flaunt your fattening splurge. But Skinny Cow? It seems like the kind of thing you eat in secret after the kids have gone to bed and your husband is too busy watching football to notice.
If you are eating Skinny Cow I assume you are concerned about your weight. Maybe someone has called you a cow and now you believe you must resort to eating products that are, what, made for you? I decided to do a little investigating to see what the appeal is.
Guess who their mascot is. Yep, a cow named Skinny. She is not a fat cow. I assume she is a cow that has been on a diet. Skinny must be eating a lot of skinny ice cream cups and sandwiches. She knows how to keep her figure. She even has a tape measure around her waist just to show that the picture is not just a figure of the imagination, this cow isn't fat. She has been getting her walking in and watching her diet, I suppose. But as the site tells us, she knows how to indulge.
You can eat ice cream and still stay health and lean, so they say. Intriguing! Do tell.
Next stop was the ingredient list. I looked at the Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream cup because I like fruit and I assume cows do, too. The second ingredient had corn syrup in it. High fructose corn syrup wasn't far behind. Hmm... last I checked cows ate grass. I would think that grass would keep them leaner then this "healthy" ice cream cup.
Now I am confused. I have believed that eating "close to the ground" was healthier and would help maintain healthy weight. Now I'm told that fat cows are created off grass and made lean and healthy fighting machines by eating ice cream.
Skinny, the cow, you have utterly confused me. Your eating habits defy my logic.
And so do your eyelashes. Can you tell me which mascara you use? That is a piece of information I would definitely put to good use because for the life of me I can't seem to pick a good one. That can be the next Skinny Cow product - Skinny Mascara. But it will make my lashes fat. I like my lashes to be cow-like in their figure.
If they can make logic defying ice cream then why not eye defying mascara?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Your Trial

1 Peter 4:12
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you."
I love this verse. I want to imprint it on my forehead. I want to wear it on a t-shirt. I want it to be my life mantra and motto. 
When times get tough, don't be shocked. When the waters rise and the tide starts pulling you in a direction you find fearful, don't be surprised. Don't moan and complain and question why. Expect the unexpected.
But....I love when the Bible says "but". It always means to wait, there is more news to come. Don't stop now, continue to hear from God - he is ready and waiting to speak to you. "But" is the open door for him to enter into further teaching and communing.
Verse 13 says, "But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."
Beautiful. Enlightening. Reassuring. Calming. Soothing. Inspiring.
Our suffering is not in vain. Our suffering is not in solitude. Our suffering is divine. We are co-heirs with Christ. We are co-heirs in his suffering here on this earth and then someday in heaven with him for eternity. It is a magnificent truth. It is a sobering promise.
Eternity is so hard to comprehend. When I attempt to understand it my brain feels as if it is turning to mush and all my thought processes come to halt. I can't wrap my mind around forever. I'm human and I look at time in a finite, limited way. I see time in the form of minutes, days, months and years. To imagine living without an attached time frame is incomprehensible. Yet, that is the promise we are given by God - and God is true to his word. We will dwell with him FOREVER in HEAVEN! I no longer try to understand how that will work or what it will look like. I know it will be glorious and that is enough to know while I'm here on this earth.
While I'm here I am given an amazing opportunity. This is my one chance to show my faith and to live it out in difficult circumstances. Someday I will be in heaven where peace is unlimited and suffering is no more, but I'm not there yet. Today, and in this part of my life, I am here on earth where sin abounds and pain is real. It is in this place that I can live out my faith in spite of imperfection and in spite of trials. This is my chance to show God how much I trust him. This is my chance to stand firm in my faith even when my own human will is weak. I only have this one chance. Each moment spent in worry or anxiety is a moment lost - a moment that I will never get back. Each trial that I face resting in the almighty arms of my father is another moment to live my faith. Each trial that I face on human strength is a precious opportunity lost.
The trial that I am facing today is just one of many that will come in this part of my life. We are all given many opportunities to have faith. We are all given many trials. Thank God for the many trials, because we don't always grab hold of faith on the first try. Sometimes it takes many trials before we learn where to rest. But God keeps giving us more chances, more opportunities, more moments to find peace in him in the midst of a storm. As the waves of life beat against us, we have a place to curl up and hunker down. We have a place to seek shelter.
The storm isn't pleasant. Our lives become like a rained out picnic on the fourth of July - the plans we made get washed away by the mother of all thunderstorms. The provisions we bought, the food we prepared and the games we planned all go to waste. We have to change course. Maybe we can move the party inside? Maybe we can reschedule? Maybe the whole thing gets called off. No matter what happens everyone complains about the storm. But we shouldn't lose hope from changed plans or storms in our lives. The party can still go on. Good memories can still be formed. New experiences can be shared. If you get angry and discouraged you might miss out on something special God had planned. The storm might have been his way of getting you to take his route. Don't shy away from experiencing what he has in mind.
God is forming in the lives of his children a beautiful tapestry. Like any great artist, he isn't revealing the final product just yet. Where would the fun be in that? Instead he is giving us a little peak of the back of the tapestry. He is showing us the different threads. Right now it only looks like a bunch of colors and twists and turns. We can't see what it is forming on the other side. The sneak peek might look like an utter mess instead of something beautiful. This is where God is really getting to work. He has something gorgeous being designed on the other side of that cluster of threads. He is pulling the threads taut. He is making sure they are secure. I imagine those threads aren't enjoying it one bit. On the contrary, they are stretched to the breaking point, holding on for dear life. But God knows how hard he can pull before they break. He knows how much slack is left and how much pressure he needs to still apply to complete his picture. The thread thinks it can't take anymore, but it doesn't know its own strength.
As we watch the master do his work we won't always understand why the threads of our own life have to be pulled so tight and why it looks like such an utter disaster on the back of the tapestry. We'll often wonder what he is working on and how he is going to use a particular color, string or fabric.
In the moments of your life that you feel like that string on the verge of breaking take comfort in the peace only God can provide. Take shelter in his goodness and his love. He is the master creator and he is working out a masterpiece in your life. He never promises us that the process of forming your life's tapestry will be pain-free. He warns us of quite the opposite. Remember 1 Peter? He warns us that it is going to be trying. But he knows how much we can take. He knows how much he can pull us and stretch us. He knows the design is he creating.
Rest in him. And get ready, because before you know it the tapestry will be completed and your chance to rest in faith while God performs his handiwork will come to an end. Then you will be in eternal peace, face to face with the one who carried you through each fiery trial and each woven thread. And the tapestry will be glorious.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Life on Page 6B

I'm not a morbid person in general. I don't watch scary movies and commercials for crime TV shows leave me reaching for the remote and changing the channel. Blood, guts and gore don't appeal to me.
On the other hand, I do enjoy reading the obituaries. I would venture to guess that this little quirk isn't unique to just me. Someone else must be out there turning to page 6B. After all, there is something inspiring about obituaries.
They aren't about death, they are about life.
Each time I purchase a newspaper I jump over most sections. I scan the major headlines. If I have been watching the news I'm usually already up to date on the articles' contents. Then I jump to letters to the editor and opinion columns. Sometimes I can stomach what the readers and columnists have to say, sometimes I can't. I have my beliefs and there are times when people with opposing opinions drive me up a wall. My tolerance level varies. After I get my fill of this section I jump to the business section where I read advice columns. Whether or not I agree with the "wisdom" of the writer I read every word. I would secretly (or not so secretly) love to be an advice columnist. My credentials for the position? Pshh, I'm the wise one, just ask my parents. No more experience needed. I was born for such a career. When I was three my parents referred to me as the wise one and I've been thrilled to flaunt that title every since - in a joking manner, of course.
After advice comes obituaries. This is where I focus most of my time. Each person's life conveys something unique. Even the shortest of obituaries tells a story and gives a peek into the world of a person who has seen their first and last days. To someone who is young and, by the grace of God, has many days ahead these are little life lessons. To the old they can serve the same purpose.
In this life we rarely share with people the profound impact they have on us or the special place they hold in our lives. In obituaries, the good deeds, accomplishments and character of the deceased is given its moment of recognition and honor.
What strikes me in each newspaper is how much some people do in one life. I don't know how some of these people would have found time to sleep, let alone enjoy family and friends which they all seemed to have done. I once read an obituary with a whole column of committees, community outreach, volunteering commitments, board member positions and jobs for one person. This woman had also raised a few children, been married to one man her whole life and was an active part of her church. I don't know how she fit all of it into one life.
The two column obits leave me stunned for all the living one person can fit into one life. They inspire me to do more. Whether or not I follow through is sketchy, but for the moment a fire is lit within me. At the end of life, what can you say you accomplished? These lives show that it isn't what you gathered but what you gave that lasts. Time and love stand the test of time. Their obituaries prove it.
Other obituaries catch my eye because they are short and vague. Today's paper had an obituary for a 39 year old woman. The obituary didn't go into awards or prestige, just her ordinary day to day life that she so enjoyed. She worked for the VA and loved the work that gave her the opportunity to help others. She loved her friends and family deeply. But it was the next line that really hit me. "Her strong faith in God, her kindness, and unconditional love for others was an inspiration to all that knew her." Wow. That is a legacy worth aspiring to.
Her life wasn't based on a big fancy career with a high paying check and prominent status in the community. She didn't sit on a school board or high ranking committee. But that didn't stop her from impacting people and showing her spirit. She had what most would call a "normal" life but she obviously lived it in a way that made her more than ordinary. She did it with a heart that would live long past the day she took her last breath.
After reading about this young woman I didn't want to read any more obituaries. Her life hit me for how short it was but how heartfelt she must have led it. I'll never know what ended her life on this earth so soon, but there is no doubt from the faith she displayed that she is in a better place.
The words written about her life go to show that sometimes it is the simple things in life that can make the greatest impact. A life well lived. A job worked with honesty. A humble spirit. Relationships nurtured and cherished. An open and friendly smile.
They may not be the key points of a resume, but the character and spirit of the individual is what makes a life legacy worth sharing. That is the life worth aspiring to.
When I read an obituary I am reminded of the life I want to live. We are never guaranteed another day. Today might be our last. How should we spend it? What do we want written about us when we're gone? Live that life. Don't let it pass you by. Each day you are writing your obituary. Make it count.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Day at the Salon

When I first became a dog Mom I was young and naive. Doesn't that describe every first time parent, of animal species or actual human being? We have high hopes for how we will raise our kids or dogs. We plot out what kind of instruction we will give, how we will handle the day to day tasks of life and how we will intervene when our little bundles of joy aren't acting so joyous.
I was in la-la land when I first embarked on dog ownership. I thought I could be my dog's Mom and her groomer.
Oh, how wrong I can be.
At first I lived in ignorant bliss. Pippy was just a puppy and I blamed all crazy hair appearances on "puppy fur". It was a great cop-out. Yes, she looked crazed but it was the puppy fur. Nothing I can do about it. I treated it like a baby teething. I just had to wait it out.
Then the adult fur showed up.
Pippy looked like a clown without eyes. The fur went in every direction and made it impossible to discern where here eyes were located, or if she even had any to begin with. I knew I had to take action. With hair cutting scissors in hand I attempted to eradicate the overgrown locks that were making Pippy look more like a crazed beast then a schnoodle puppy.
I was well intentioned but ill prepared. I had no idea what I was doing or how to accomplish my set goal. I couldn't even begin to cut because I couldn't get Pippy to stay still. She squirmed, shimmied and bolted away. I chased her, held her down and attempted to cut. I knew I didn't have much time so I stuck to the top priority: the bush surrounding the eye. I was able to get a few clips in before she ran again. When I looked at her across the room I could see something I wasn't able to see before. Two big brown eyes. Mission accomplished - for today.
This experience gave me hope that I could restrain her for a longer period of time and cut more fur that had gone crazy. So the next day I tried again. I cut a little more but still, she ran.
After a few more such episodes I got tired of the same scenario, not to mention my hair cutting skills are less than stellar. Pippy's haircut was looking like the equivalent of a five year cutting her own bangs.
It was time to face the facts: Pippy needed a groomer. Some things are better left to the professionals.
I felt like the parent who attempts to home school their child, only to realize a few weeks in that the new arrangement is doomed. It isn't so easy going from Mom to teacher and then back again in time for dinner. I was learning that going from dog Mom to dog groomer was also not such an easy transition either. Some times it's better to know your limits and then accept them - lesson learned.
So, I did a little research, picked a reputable groomer and made an appointment. What a good dog Mom I am.
When I went to pick Pippy up from her appointment I couldn't wait to see her new look. To put it mildly, her style had needed some updating.
Pippy rounded the corner to be presented to me for the first time. I was enamored. She looked like a little fuzzy teddy bear. She had eyes! And cheek bones! The way they cut the fur down her legs and around her feet made it appear as though she had on little ballet flats. She looked perfect!
Except for one thing.
The bows. On top of my dogs head were two green and white St. Patricks day inspired bows perched on each ear. Mind you, it was a month and a half before St. Pat's day, which was the least of my concerns but still a relevant piece of information. I don't even where shamrock apparel on the actual holiday let alone the days or months leading up to that particular March date. So, to see my dog with bows sporting shamrocks threw me for a loop.
I had no idea bows came with the grooming package. Is this like the hair products they try to sell at beauty salons after you get a simple trim? It is never enough just to cut an inch off the ends and then send the customer on their way. Stylists always want to recommend styling gel, volumizing spray and shine serum. Don't even get me started on serums. Every hair stylists swears by a serum that doesn't make even the slightest difference to your hair when you get it home. All it does is leave you with greasy hands. Beware of the over-sold serum.
Bows were starting to look a lot like serum and I was seeing beauty products in little stars around Pippy's head. All I wanted was for her to get a puppy cut and a good shampoo. Now she was coming out looking like Toddlers and Tiara's.
You can imagine the first thing I did when I got home. I removed those bows ASAP. Yes, it required holding Pippy down but I was working on adrenalin. No dog of mine would be wearing those bows.
I had almost forgotten about the garish bows until today when I took Pippy to a new groomer in Sarasota. This place is dog heaven. Not only do they groom your dog but they keep them all day and let them play with other dogs. They run inside and outside in a tricked out dog resort. I was afraid she might never want to come back home again.
As is par for the course, the groomer asked me what kind of cut I would like her to have. I described the look I was going for, specifying that I would like the chin hair to be removed first. Girls shouldn't have chin hair. Leave that for the boy dogs.
Then they asked me the million dollar question: would you like her to have bows?
I hesitated for a moment. Given my experience with bows you would think I would have refused emphatically and without delay but something inside me said, "bows are a hoot". So, I got the bows.
You can remove bows a lot easier then you can remove chin hair.
And you want to know the first thing I did when Pippy got home? Cut the bows off.
But not until after I got a picture.

Blue Light Special

The news is generally depressing. Every day it seems that another young female goes missing, another person commits suicide and someone else has been murdered in cold blood. If you are looking for a mood boost don't turn on the news.
To every rule there is an exception. This morning the news shocked me with a story that wasn't a downer in the least. Instead it was the kind of story that reaffirms the goodness of humanity, reminding viewers that for all that is wrong in the world there are people still doing good.
In Kentucky, a man named Rankin went to shop for some good deals on items for his business at a Kmart that was having a closeout sale. Within in a few days the store would go dark and the doors would close for good. As he shopped a thought dawned on him: "What will they do with all of this leftover merchandise when the closeout sale ends?" He asked a clerk who told him that it would be shipped to other Kmart stores.
Rankin had a better use for the store shelves contents. He decided to buy it all.
Rankin is a business man, and a successful one at that. He told the reporters that he could have sold all that merchandise and made a few bucks off the transactions. As he said, he's got a mind for business. But that isn't what he did. Instead, he donated all of it to a local charity.
Two days after the blue light went off in Rankin's head, he was back in Kmart ready to stock up. I assume he didn't pay in cash because his total was over $200,000. Not your typical run to the local general store. It took over seven hours and four cashiers to check out this monster of a sale.
As for the charity, they have never received such a massive donation. They didn't even have space to store all the hats, gloves and countless other goods. Rankin had that covered, too, don't worry. He even rented storage space for all the merchandise. Talk about going above and beyond. Rankin didn't miss a beat.
When asked why he made the donation he told reporters that he sees people come into his business that are struggling to make ends meet. He owns a jewelry exchange business and often his clientele is made up of the financially strapped, selling off what little they have to cover the necessary expenses of daily life. He wanted to help where he could. So, he saw an opening and he took it.
The next segment on the news might have been about tragedy or a robbery, I couldn't tell you. I wasn't listening anymore. I was thinking about Rankin.
Rankin, an unassuming man by all appearance wearing a t-shirt and jeans while speaking in a backwoods country accent, decided to do something for other people simply because he could. How many of us would look at a closeout sale and see a warehouse full of donation goods for a charity?
Not everyone has 200k to spend for the good of a charity. But we don't need a massive bank account to make a difference. What if, next time we were in a closeout sale, we picked up just a few hats and a few pairs of shoes to donate to a local charity? We don't need to load up a parade full of shopping carts to make a difference.
This winter when the snow begins to fly and the temperatures are frigid, some kids will be warm thanks to the actions of Rankin. They may never see his face or hear his name but they will benefit because he thought about the needs of others.
This is what we are called to as Christians. We are called to fill needs. We are called to be givers. We are called to be outwardly focused, not inwardly.
Rankin's story is convicting - I can attest to that first hand. How often do I pass up the opportunity to help someone else? I would guess it is far more frequently then I can even imagine. In my human selfishness I stroll past opportunities to give without even recognizing them. I've been to close out sales and the thought to pick up a few items to donate has never crossed my mind.
Come Christmas and Thanksgiving I am in the Salvation Army frame of mind - thank you folks who ring the bells outside of every mall, grocery store and Dollar General. But the rest of the year I fall short. When the bell goes silent my giving spirit seems to follow. Out of sight, out of mind. It is a horrible truth to admit, but I go back to living my comfy lifestyle without much thought for the people who aren't so fortunate.
It shouldn't take a bell to remind me of my calling as a Christ follower. It shouldn't take a bell to call me to action.
Rankin served as a reminder in the middle of May that giving isn't just for November and December. Giving is a year-long calling.
Thank you, Rankin, for your donation to Clark County and for reminding this forgetful girl that when you open your eyes there is always an opportunity to make a difference for someone else.
So watch out for those Blue Light Specials.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Un-Hitched

A question for all single women: do you find yourself looking at every single male left, ring finger?
I used to think that this was a habit of the divorced woman. Before you judge my theory, let me explain. I figured that once women had been married they would immediately be eying up their next potential mate. After all, they already signed up for a til death arrangement so my assumption was that they would want another such relationship. In my biased view, I always assumed men were the cause of most failed marriages. Women were always the hurt ones, or so I thought. As I grow, mature and see a little bit more of reality I'm learning that is not the case.
And I'm learning the left, ring finger check isn't reserved for the divorced woman only.
It becomes the habit of the once engaged, twenty some year old, too.
This habit reduces a person to the jewelry they wear on a single finger. It takes the focus away from the face, body and even dazzling eyes. All other factors become irrelevant in light of the left hand.
I know because I am guilty of diverting my eyes to check out every man's left hand. Young, old, handsome or not my taste, it doesn't matter. I check every man's left hand.
Do you want to know what I'm learning?
Everyone is married. I'm not kidding - everyone. I'm only twenty-two but my field of possible future mates is shockingly slim. Add in the fact that I'm in the market for a committed Christian and there is a strong possibility I will remain a life long single. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'd be perfectly content with such a fate. Sure, there would be days that I'd long for a companion and someone to love me and for me to love, but all in all I think I could handle those tough days.
There would be positives to being single forever and ever, amen. Never having to consult a man on decorating choices, what to have for dinner or work decisions. All consulting would be between God and I. End of story. No man input needed. I could get used to that - oh yes, that's right, I am used to that!
Being on my own has many advantages, one of which being the luxury of sitting here writing without interruption or concern for where my significant other is or when they expect me back home. I don't know when I'm going to make it back home and that is a-o-k because no one is asking. Ah, isn't that a peaceful thought?
But back to the left hand. As I looked around the church on Sunday I realized that each male in attendance, over the age in which one graduates from high school, had a shiny band on their left ring finger. From the old men in suit coats to the young guys in t-shirts and jeans, they all had one thing in common: gold rings. Or silver. But you get the idea.
I thought back to Saturday night when I had also been at church.
I thought back to the ring fingers.
Same result. Everyone had a ring.
It is as if Christians graduate from high school and get hitched like a one-two punch. And you want to know what comes next? A baby in a baby carriage. When do these people come up for air? I understand falling and love and wanting to get married ASAP - tried that once. But not even I went as frenzied fast as the people surrounding me in that sanctuary. Some of the married love birds looked like they barely would have made it through college freshman orientation, let alone the "I do's" of a wedding ceremony.
It isn't just at church, either. It is all over my Facebook news feed. Wedding albums are as prevalent as status updates - and we all know the rapid pace at which FB junkies write "what's on their mind". It makes my head spin.
The wedding albums come at a similar clip. It seems like everyday someone else goes from engaged to married or in a relationship to engaged. Sometimes they have no relationship statues and then boom! They're married. Were those relationships arranged? Drunk night in Vegas? Who knows!
All I know is that I'm practically a spinster if you consult the Christian marriage timeline. And even more distressing is the fact that I haven't a single prospect for the future. Gees, if I was dead set on getting married I'd be sweating bullets. By now I should at least be discussing the number of kids I want with some man who wants the same number. This is Christian relationship step two. Step one is introduce yourself.
But I'm not anywhere near step two. Or step one for that matter.
And I'm surprisingly okay with that. In a world full of hooking up and getting hitched, I'm content to watch it all happen without joining in the fun. I'm at peace with being single and unattached. In fact, I'm enjoying it.
Today I was driving along and for the first time in quite a while I looked down at my hand and had a distinct thought: no one has held this hand in a romantic gesture in well over a year. At first I was slightly melancholy. Holding hands is a sweet gesture.
That thought lasted for a brief moment before it was replaced by one that plastered a smile across my face: Pippy walked into the bathroom while I was putting my makeup on this morning and licked my leg, then walked away.
Sweet, don't you think?

Doggie Dreamin'

I am happy to report that Pippy receives sufficient sleep. Her REM cycle is in good working order. I think we can thank her doggie bed for that.
You may be wondering how I know Pippy is a good sleeper and not suffering from insomnia. This is an issue I never considered when puppy shopping. It never crossed my mind to inquire with my breeder about Pippy's sleep habits. For all my Googling pre-purchase, I never thought to check in on the Schnoodle's snoring tendency. I just lucked out - Pippy isn't a pug and isn't obese so she doesn't keep me awake at night with the constant disgruntled breathing that sounds like a freight train - my Dad still takes the cake for that behavior.
But last night I began to consider my dog's sleeping patterns. It started around 2 AM when she let out a sudden whimper. It resembled the sound I would make if someone stuck a huge needle in me without warning. I popped up in bed to see who was poking my dog. But no one was there. Pippy was still fast asleep on her bed, sprawled out with a leg in each direction and head cocked to the side, ears flopping crazily across the pillow top.
I thought maybe I had been dreaming. Within moments I was back asleep (a practice in which I have achieved champion status).
But not for long.
At about 2:15 AM the whimper came again, sending me straight up in my bed - again. This time Pippy was now alert in her bed. She looked startled. Rattled, yet relieved. It was then that I realized Pippy's excellent sleep habits.
Pippy is quite the dreamer.
Pippy dreams when she naps on the living room floor. She'll switch from conked out pooch to alert and on guard in a matter of seconds. Her dreams will make her leg twitch in a frenzy, then the rest of her body is brought to full attention. Her eyes snap open and her body sits straight up, in regal statue form. Her look is one of dazed confusion. Where was she and how did she get here?
I want to go into Mommy-mode, just like with a little child who cries after a nightmare. Pippy looks like she is in such distress. But dogs rebound quickly. Before I can come to her side she is up and walking around - apparently she isn't good at remembering her dreams. She never seems bothered by them.
This has me wondering: what is she dreaming about? I have some theories. I bet she is in a prairie where little purple and yellow flowers abound, the grasses blowing in the wind. I can see Pippy prancing about with a group of other rambunctious puppies. They chase butterflies, catch bugs and blow out dandelions (it is a dream - remember?). I can see the smile on Pippy's face with her ears flying in the wind, tongue flapping all the way.
Or maybe she is dreaming that her hair is four feet long. Oh wait, that was my dream.
I very rarely dream, in fact I almost never dream but last night was one of those rare occasions. Unfortunately, I almost never remember much of my dreams either. I envy the people who wake up with a perfectly formed dream still fresh in their minds, each detail fully intact. This doesn't happen to me. I can tell you this much about my dream that came to me last night: my hair went down to my butt. That is it. Quite a dream, eh? I am of the belief that dreams mean something so what in the world would that mean?
I think dogs prancing in a prairie would mean something along the lines of happiness and joy. So I am believing that Pippy is a content puppy. This is the advantage of the dog's inability to speak human words. We can say we know what is going on in their minds even when we don't have a clue. I'm her Mom, I know these things. That is my story and I'm sticking to it.
If frolicking means happy, what does butt-length hair mean? Am I on the verge of joining the Amish church? Or was that long hair more rock star and less horse and buggy?
This is why I'm not a dream interpreter.
Despite my inability to remember my dreams, or even experience them very frequently, Pippy and I clearly are getting our sleep. Add it to the list of things we have in common. When people say dog owners resemble each other they weren't kidding. Pippy and I are in sync.
When I have been sick, Pippy has been sick. When I haven't had an appetite, Pippy has barely eaten all day. I'm super small and need to gain weight, same with Pippy. When I go to bed at night, Pippy is out like a light too. I love chicken, sweet potatoes and yogurt. Those are Pippy's favorites.
Now I can add to the list that we dream on the same nights. And we both can't remember them a moment after waking. Like mother, like daughter, or like dog?
I had always heard that dog owners and their pets share more than just a home. They look the same and act the same. Now I get it. I don't think I have Pippy's prominent, floppy ears, but there is no denying the family resemblance. Just watch us when we sleep. We may snap awake, shaken and startled but we'll be back asleep in seconds.
Just one of the benefits of the family genes.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pippy Gone Wild

Pippy has gone wild.
Correction: Pippy has been wild...for quite some time. Try almost a year.
This month marks Pippy's first birthday. This is quite a milestone in my little pup's life! I am contemplating a doggie cake and a party hat. I think Pippy would look good in a pointy hat with a string around the chin. I can see it now. She'd hate it but I'd enjoy snapping some pictures of the ensemble.
The day I picked Pippy up in Kent, Ohio she was shy and reserved. There were two female Schnoodles to choose from. Both enjoyed playing with each other, like most young siblings do. The breeder told me that one of the puppies was a barker and the other was not. Can you guess which dog I took home? The breeder assured me that Pippy was mellow, calm and relaxed. Perfect!
Her behavior was exactly as the breeder claimed - for the first two days. Pippy was friendly but laid back. She let strangers come to her and was welcoming when they put out a hand to pet her or hold her. She was never scared of the new people oohing and awwing over her.
Then a switch got turned on inside her brain.
It has not been turned off since.
Pippy decided to come out of her shell. Her friendliness went from enjoying people to throwing herself at every man, woman and child in sight. She can't seem to help but lunge at new dogs in utter joy, just busting at the seams to show her love. Ever heard of hard to get, Pippy? This concept is lost on her.
Thank God she is fixed, because male dogs would be having a field day!
For most of her life I have brushed off this behavior as the "Puppy Stage." I've heard of parents having to deal with the "Terrible Twos." I assume the puppy stage is the dog equivalent. During that dreaded year, parents are reassured that it is just a phase and that it will end, magically I assume, on the third birthday. Does a Terrible Twos' Fairy suddenly appear to sprinkle special dust to make the unruly behavior disappear with the blowing out of three candles?
I think the terrible twos might be something of a myth. I'm not so sure it ends at two. I've met some pretty out of control three year olds, too.
This has me wondering, if the terrible twos is a myth, is the puppy stage a myth, too? Is the doggie birthday cake really going to change Pippy's wild side?
I think the world has been trying to pull one over on me. I fear that the puppy phase is a bunch of hog wash.
Don't get me wrong, I love Pippy and her wild and crazy behavior. She loves people - what a wonderful quality! I never have to worry that she will snap at some people and lick others. I never have to worry that she'll be shaking in fear in a corner if I take her out in public. People don't scare her and she isn't vicious. Yay!
But she has become my personal greeting committee. She has forced me to replace the word "hello" with "I'm so sorry." I think the ability to apologize is a character strength, but I prefer to use the phrase in different circumstances. For example, when I bump into someone with my shopping cart in the grocery store or forget to return a phone call. When I meet people I prefer the traditional greetings: "hi", "hello", "my name is" and maybe even "how do you do" if I'm really feeling old fashioned.
Those phrases are no longer part of my vocabulary when Pippy is in tow. She scampers right over this respectful discourse. Before I can even form a word Pippy is practically pulling my arm off as she yanks her neck against her lead, using every ounce of her body weight to get even an inch closer to the unsuspecting victim. Any welcoming words are snatched from my mind as I jump immediately to apologizing for the small beast on the end of the leash.
Trust me, an apology is in order for this behavior. Pippy resembles a small bear. She ends up on her hind legs and waves her front arms around in a frenzied motion. This behavior slightly resembles waving but more closely aligns itself with insanity. She looks like a character from Where the Wild Things Are. She means no harm, but she looks a little manic.
She goes berserk and I am powerless to put a stop to it.
I've been hanging on to this first birthday, trusting that I will once again embrace "hello." I've even started thinking up new greetings to add to my repitore such as: "Bonjour" or "Aloha". Hello was getting old anyway.
But then I met Zorro. Zorro is a Shih tzu that Pippy and I met at the farmer's market. Zorro was going nuts - sound familiar? I assumed he, too, must be a puppy so I asked his dog owner his age.
Her response: four years old.
Excuse me?
Zorro's behavior was just like Pippy's. Yanking on the leash. Straining to meet everyone within reasonable sniffing distance. Panting all the while! This was Pippy a in four year old, Shih tzu, male form.
So Zorro has me concerned again. Maybe Pippy isn't in puppy stage. Maybe Pippy is just Pippy.
And maybe I'll never get to say Aloha.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Morning Glory

There is an undeniable peace and tranquility found only in the early morning hours, before the moon has disappeared into the distance and the sun has made its grand entrance. It is in this precious hour that I find an unparalleled solitude that clears the mind and renews the spirit.
Each morning I rise early to the sound of chirping birds and the occasional scurrying nocturnal neighbor of the animal genus. I love this time of the morning. There is rarely ever the sound of a car, thumping music or slamming door. Nature is starring in the show and humans haven't yet taken center stage. This time focuses solely on God's creation. And what a beautiful creation it is.
Each morning is my little reminder that God has a magnificent imagination. He made a world marked by order. The dance of the sun and moon each morning is perfect evidence. You never have to wonder if the moon will slip out of sight. You never have to fear that the sun won't rise with might and power. God shines on us each morning, reminding us that he has almighty control and that he is present and consistent.
He reminds us of his staying power by the song of the birds. Each morning the birds are out in all their splendor, singing the most glorious of tunes. I wish I knew what they were saying. I imagine they are praising and thanking God for the beauty of the earth. They are singing of the joy found in a new morning. They remind me that I, too, am to sing a song of exultation in the morning.
No matter what happened the day prior or what lies ahead, God has given us this morning. He has provided another rising sun and another chorus of singing birds. He has sent the dew to the fields of grass in my neighborhood and in yours, too. He has sent some critters off to sleep and made others to rise with the light. He did all of this yesterday and he'll do it again tomorrow. He has remained faithful.
Until I brought Pippy into my life I never knew there was so much to be learned between the hours of six and seven AM. I knew that the early bird gets the worm, but that little phrase doesn't capture the true gift for the early riser. The true gift is a wink from God - a little reminder that he isn't going anywhere.
On one hand I want to wake up the neighborhood and show them what they are missing. But this would take away from the solitude that makes it so special. These morning moments are unique to Pippy and I - and to any other dog owner who doesn't want their puppy having an accident on the living room rug. Maybe some people would find it a bother that they are up and out of the house long before their internal clock is ready. But they don't know what they're missing out on.
If you look beyond the time on the clock, you'll see that God is waving at you. He is saying "Good morning." He is smiling down on your day, before anyone else has a chance to give it a frown. He is reminding you that today is a day of his making and is under his divine control. So, relax and enjoy a day orchestrated by the master creator and loving father God.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

PDA

The love bugs are here. And I don't just mean the couple snuggling in a corner booth - I mean the buzzing Florida natives who emerge each spring and fly in swarms, inflicting their mating rituals on the general population.
Can you say get a room?
My first love bug experience occurred a year ago while vacationing in Captiva. Mom and I were blissfully unaware when we booked our trip that it was also the same time that the massive love fest of bugs would be taking place. Note to self: don't plan a beach vacation at the end of April on the Florida Gulf coast. This year we aren't vacationing. I'm a resident now, which means I will have to get used to this bi-yearly occurrence. I think I have found the first downside to living here. Who would have thought love would be on the cons side of the list?
These love bugs are relentless. They fly around in swarms, attached at the butt. Thank goodness I don't have kids, I wouldn't want to have to explain what the two naughty bugs are up to. I'm betting children in Florida get the birds and bees talk earlier then the average American kid. They should call it the "Love bug talk." Someone could write a sex-talk book all based around this natural phenomenon. Another idea to boost some individual's economy. I hope someone is taking notes and taking me up on all these great ideas. They come at no charge. Take advantage of this golden opportunity.
In the book they could even talk about PDA (public displays of affection). Love bugs are the perfect example of this annoying behavior. This could help kids learn that PDA is not appreciated, just as bugs landing on you while sun bathing is not appreciated. This could cut down on the overly lovey couples that seem to fill every grocery store, shopping mall, restaurant and, especially, movie theater. It can become nauseating. This new sex education style could ward off the behavior before it ever happens.
Think of how much society would benefit!
PDA is really over the top. Couples can't keep their hands off each other. I've seen couples out at restaurants that practically pounced on each other across the table. Don't worry, they weren't angry, just desperate to get some lip action. One couple in particular started on opposite sides of a booth fit for two. That didn't last long. Within about five minutes the girl had migrated across the table and was engaged in some serious lip locking and touchy-feely behavior with her boy toy.
Cute? Not so much.
At least the restaurant displays are contained to a single table. The same cannot be said for couples walking through the mall. As they walk they link arms around each others waste and then comes the classic move that makes me cringe - the boy puts his hand in the girls rear butt pocket.
Seriously? And, also, why??
This one bugs me like a love bug landing on my lunch. Why do couples feel the need to walk around in public this way? I can't imagine that is is comfortable. If one of the two walk out of sync it could be disastrous. And what if her butt pocket is really, really small? The man's hand could get stuck in there! Have these overly affectionate couples considered this? What an awkward trip to the emergency room. "Sir, how did this happen?"... "I was just trying to show the love."
If that is love then I'll happily do without. I walk quite fine without anyone's hand in my back pocket, thank you very much.
I decided to further investigate the acceptable parameters of PDA. I'm not an expert in the matter. Askmen.com has all the expertise.
What I learned is that there are three pillars of PDA. These are, according to Askmen.com, the basics. Interesting. I had no idea they had PDA down to such a science!
Pillar number one is hand holding. According to the article this is acceptable. I agree with the men. If you want to grab your lady's hand, go for it! Link arms for all I care. But don't link butts. Leave that to the love bugs.
Pillar number two is kissing. They say it is okay to kiss as a greeting but the buck stops there. Again, I agree with the men on this one. Ladies want some welcoming lovin' and I can respect that.
Pillar number three is declarations of love/invasions of private space. I'm picturing Romeo and Juliet kind of behavior here. Maybe a little Rapunzel letting down her hair from a tower. Hey Prince, did you think that maybe someone might be sleeping in the castle? Watch your voice. Gees, men in love have no respect! Thankfully Askmen.com agrees. Do not declare your undying affection in public. Keep it for the private, intimate moments. So, pretty much, avoid jumbo screen announcements and the flying banners on the back of planes. Good to know. Pet names and babying are also on the list of no-nos.
And eureka! There is a whole paragraph on "space invasion", aka hand-in-butt-pocket walking! This is "tacky". Well, that's an understatement. Is the man afraid his lady friend is going to run away if he lets go? This is the equivalent of a leash on a toddler. I would like to revise Askmen.com to call "space invasion" unacceptable. Too bad they don't let readers revise the articles, Wikipedia style.
Then we get to, umm, lets call it "butt smack" because I have standards that keep me from using profanity. Men apparently do not, at least on this website. They say that this behavior is acceptable. Huh? Men need to stop watching so much football. All of that butt slapping fun has gotten them a little confused. I don't want to see a man smack a woman's butt for so many reasons. One of which being the jiggle that follows. Butt jiggle isn't attractive. So men, do your ladies (and the general public) a favor, and save the butt smack for the comfort of your own home, if you must.
In the end, asking men has taught me that "public lovin'" is just a part of livin' in a relationship.
Next, I'm going to ask the Duggars.
I'm betting that Jim-Bob would highly disapprove of the butt-smack. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hiring Now

As you know, I love to eavesdrop. Sorry innocent bystanders. I just can't contain my curiosity. I confess to being noisy - figuratively and literally.
In the past two days I've had the odd experience of "overhearing" four different women interview for jobs. Yesterday two woman came to interview, one right after each other. The interviewers were two men, one of which did all the talking while the other barely uttered a word after introducing himself - first name only. The second day it was again two women interviewing back to back with another pair of interviewers, this time a male and female. The female seemed to dominate the questioning. You go girl.
Watching these women endure their interviews was like watching pure agony. Who came up with this horrendous process for determining job success? When you really think about the whole ordeal it is ridiculous.
To start off with everyone is on their best behavior. Lets call it first date mentality. No one shows their true colors. Everyone is putting their best foot and hair-do forward. They iron the wrinkles out of their clothes to a starched perfection. Makeup is applied with extra precision. The ladies have an hour internal debate while getting dressed over what to wear. If you want to stand out you have to look the part, right? At least until the person gets the job. Then the deed is done and the guard is down. Getting the job is like marriage. Once you've signed on the dotted line their is no turning back - at least no easy way to turn back.
Beyond appearance the silly rituals continue. "What are your greatest strengths?".... "Describe a situation where you showed excellent leadership qualities?".... "What makes you so well suited for this position?"... Aka: toot your own horn.
But my favorite question is: "Why do you want this position?" Oh, if only the interviewee could be honest in this moment, then they could say, "Because I want to pay my rent and keep the heat on." But no one is that honest. So instead they give some lame excuse about how they love people and believe that this job would give them the opportunity to better the human race by their interaction with the community, blah, blah, blah. This is the questioning round of the Miss. America Pageant. And you better want world peace.
There should be interview answer flashcards. Prior to an interview the candidate could study up on the best ways to answer these inane questions. If no one has come up with this then they should. They would be a hit. Especially in this economy. Everyone wants a job - or so they say.
But isn't there a better way to get a job? This silly process of dressing up, answering questions like a robot, and shaking hands saying, "I look forward to hearing from you" doesn't really get to the heart of anything other than who googled "good interview responses" an hour ago.
I'd like to hear the interview where the candidate tells it like it is. The interviewer would ask: "What experience do you have that would help you in this position?" And the candidate will answer, "Well, my experience is lacking. But I work hard and I'm up for learning."
How would that go over? I can just see it now. "Next!"
And how about this one: "What experience do you have with our company?"
Answer: "None."
I can see the blank stares from the other side of the table. "Don't call us, we'll call you."
All of this interviewing business is really just a game the job seeker must play.
Thank God I'm not looking for a job. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fun Schway???

Let us now explore the Chinese principle of feng shui (thank you spelling genius Google).
An episode on HGTV's Property Virgins has sparked my curiosity into this ancient practice. A couple on the TV show were looking for their first home. This is why I love Property Virgins. It gives the viewer a peak into the unrealistic expectations of the average American first time home buyer. This couple, as adorable as they were, wanted a home with the proper "feng shui." Say what?
Most people just want granite and stainless steal.
Good luck to this realtor!
After the couple found a home that would suit their needs and keep the good fortune a coming I went into research mode.
Upon further investigation I have learned that feng shui is all about the chi.
Again: say what?
Energy. Pretty much the energy in your home either dooms you or gives you a ticket to happiness and prosperity.
All because of how you position your couch?
Not just your couch but your bathroom toilet too. Apparently in the world of the shui the toilet can really mess up one's life. If the bathroom is in the center of the house you are pretty much a dead man - literally. Chinese theory says that a bathroom in the middle of the home throws ill health all around the rest of the house, contaminating all the poor unsuspecting inhabitants within. Home sweet home, eh?
A couch with its back facing the front door? Why don't you just slap your guest in the face? Talk about negative energy!
And beware of the corners. The corners are like a black hole for energy, letting sickness and destruction seap into the home. Plants can help - but not if they have spikes on them. Very anti-shui. But crystals, on the other hand, are acceptable. Thank goodness because I was wondering where my crystal chandaleer was going to fit into my new decor. I can also put an aquarium in my corner. Pippy would like that. She could watch the fishies while getting her positive chi on.
As if all of these rules weren't enough, there is more: the five elements. Uh-oh. I see trouble for my household in the future.
The elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water and they all correspond with color. Too much dark and you suffer poor health. Too much red and you bring an angry mob into your village, er home. Who knew the color of your wall could do so much damage to a community? Sherwin Williams is practically the mafia, selling red buckets of paint by the gallons. Do they enjoy mass devastation? Evil is lurking in those paint cans.
The more I read the more overwhelmed I am.
What is the best direction to sit?
What direction are the street signs outside?
What is the view from the back window in the kitchen?
Which direction does the house face?
Is the dining room in the south-east corner?
Do you have a wealth corner?
All together now: say what?
Clearly I am over my head with all this feng shui business.
I'm sticking with Steph shui.  This includes 2 elements: don't hang pictures too high and get a comfy bed pillow.
Now, sit back, relax and enjoy. And may your days be filled with blessings and good health - no matter which direction your door faces.

Relationship Checklist #1

How long do you keep a gallon of milk in the fridge after its expiration date? Do you really trust the smell test?
My rule of thumb is to follow the label on the package. If it says my food has gone bad I heed the warning. Easy enough. No sniffing required. This is a bonus in my opinion because I don't want to know what the rotting contents smell like a week past expiration.
But what about relationships? How long do you hang on after the union has clearly taken a nose dive? How many "deep chats" are appropriate before someone packs their bags? How many second chances are to be given before you draw a line in the sand?
Is there a sniff test for a relationship gone bad?
I'm a fan of Dear "Whoever" columns. Dear Annie, Dear Amy, Dear Whats-her-face. I read them any time I get a newspaper. The questions thrill me. Some are heartfelt and depressing. The woman with a dying mother or suicidal friend get me every time. What do you say to people suffering with such deep pain? Then there are other questions from (mostly) women that leave me going "huh?"
Take, for instance, today's Angry and Suicidal wife who married a man two years ago only to find out now that he is gay and into porn - hard core. He watches it, he pays for it, he participates in it. Angry gave him an ultimatum: stop the porn or I'm history.
Good luck, lady.
Don't be surprised by the outcome of that relationship fix it solution: he went right back at it.
She cried and pleaded. Went to counseling sessions and spent countless hours in deep, heart wrenching conversation. She wanted to work through it with him but it seems as though he didn't want the same thing.
In the end she did some Nancy Drew detective work and still caught him red handed in a mess of online history evidence. His habits, and desires I assume, weren't changing.
Now she was baffled as to what to do next. Stay or leave? According to her letter she had already moved out but hadn't filed for divorce. She wanted to know if she should try to save the marriage.
Umm, really?
Is this even a question worth asking?
Not only is the man leading a double life (aka, lying) but he is gay to boot! He isn't even into women. Does marriage to a man who prefers men make a lick of sense?
Last I checked marriage is more successful when you have a heterosexual man and a heterosexual woman. When one isn't digging the opposite sex we call that a red flag. A big, bright, flag the size of Texas flapping at the pace of hurricane winds.
DO NOT PROCEED! ABORT! ABORT!
I don't usually advocate divorce. Running at the first scuffle over tile choice on the kitchen back splash isn't my recommendation. But sometimes you just have to face the facts. There are some issues that warrant leaving. And a man who is into other men would be one of those issues, if you ask me.
If I were to compile of checklist of the must haves in a potential mate I would start it like this: make sure he is into women - only.
Then the checklist can get to some deeper issues such as faith, trustworthiness, respect, morals, a love of Panera Bread and reading. I'm not kidding about those last two. If he can't sit at Panera Bread with a good book we won't make it past the first date. Some things just aren't negotiable.
Or so I say now, when there is no man in sight or even in my peripheral vision. But the plight of a young woman crying on her cell phone in a public restroom reminds me that sometimes the smell test hurts when it comes to spoiled relationship detection. She reminds me that we have all succumb to the trap of letting a relationship linger past its "best before" date.
The girl in question was crying her eyes out, blubbering in the phone to her boyfriend, or maybe soon to be ex-boyfriend. She spit out questions at rapid pace, her throat closing around her words. Don't you care about me at all? How could you have not been there after you promised you would be?
Uh-oh. Broken promises. Another red flag.
Drain the carton and head to the grocery store. That milk has seen its day.
Yet, she cried about how much she loved him and wanted him to show her love in return.
Then she walked out of the room, leaving my eavesdropping self to wonder what ever happened to the devastated, hopeless romantic.
I have a feeling she went back to him. Because haven't we all fallen into the same trap? Cry hysterically, blubber like a fool in public and ruin your makeup? Yep, been there. And then next week be back with the man on the other end of the line, going out on dates like the world is nothing but butterflies and roses.
Moral of the story? Angry and Suicidal - I feel your pain.  Maybe I've never married or had a significant other turn out to be gay, but I get it. Sometimes it is hard to walk away when we have so much of our hearts invested in the outcome. It is hard to see the dream die.
But if our dreams have turned into nightmares it is best to put them to rest, move on and let a new dream take hold. It is scary - don't get me wrong - but the new dream will be better then living with the malfunctioned and broken original version.
Moving on is like ripping off a band-aid. It is going to hurt like the Dickens at first, but in the end you'll be glad you did it. Band-aid's don't go well with pretty dresses and cute shoes.
So rip it off. Do the hard thing now so you can enjoy life, all healed and ready for a night on the town!


Miracles

Who says miracles don't happen anymore?
Some people say miracles only happened in Biblical times. Still others argue luck and coincidence are to thank for the unexplainable. But I disagree with both parties. Miracles happen - everyday.
God hasn't gone silent.
This morning I was watching the news. I try not to be hooked on the news but it is a losing battle. When I am disconnected from the outside world for too long I grow curious as to what is happening beyond my four walls. This morning I was doing my normal channel switch between Fox News and NBC. Fox News is where I get my hard news and NBC provides fluff and human interest.
This morning it wasn't fluff that grabbed my attention. It was a miracle beyond comprehension.
A mother and her two daughters were driving on Highway 101 in California when a semi rear ended them while the vehicles were traveling over a bridge. The semi plunged 100 feet down off the bridge, where it exploded - tires popping in the blaze. The BMW holding the mother and her daughters caught onto the walls of the bridge, mangled and hanging by a thread. The metal was so distorted and twisted that it didn't even resemble any form of transportation let alone a luxury sedan.
But something amazing was happening. To start, all three inside the car were alive. In fact, the mother was conscience during the entire ordeal. She could feel the heat of the exploding truck below and was able to touch the head of her youngest daughter, a tenth month old baby. Their survival was a miracle!
But they weren't out of the woods yet. Any attempt for rescuers to move the car could be disastrous. They were teetering on the edge of life and death. Even the most skilled of firefighters would have been in over their heads. One wrong move could have sent the three plunging to a fate mimicking the semi driver.
And that is where God made a grand entrance. He came in the form of the Navy Seabees.
The Navy had been just miles away in training before setting out on their own trip down the 101. Just like hundreds of other drivers, they were stuck in the traffic created by the accident rescue efforts. At first they thought they may be able to help direct traffic, so they offered their services. Upon further inspection they realized they were sent for a far greater purpose.
The Seabees just happened to have a forklift capable of lifting 11,000 lbs. Coincidence? I think not.
This was a modern day miracle.
Without such a rare piece of equipment the car couldn't be stabilized and the Jaws of Life couldn't be used to save the girls inside. With the forklift the car would be held still and safely on the bridge while rescue crews could do whatever it took to break the girls free.
So the Navy and the firefighters joined forces and went to work. 
First, the ten year old daughter was removed. She was injured but would recover. Then the ten month old who, miraculously, barely even had a scratch on her little body. And lastly, their mother was lifted to safety. She had broken bones but she too would heal.
They all were alive.
Looking at the pictures of this gruesome accident it is hard to deny that miracles happen. God weaves together the right people, the right equipment and the right timing to make for wonders unfathomable to our own limited human comprehension. Engineers might not be able to explain how the bridge held that car by a thread the way it did. Rescuers might not be able to explain how all three girls weren't killed by the impact inflicted by the trucks initial hit.
But someone else can.
God. It is in the unexplainable moments that He can show His power.
1 Corinthians 1 tells us that God uses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise.
His specialty is the unexplainable. The miraculous is another way God connects with this people that He loves and longs to be in a relationship with.
There is a take away in this story for everyone, whether or not you ever drive on Highway 101 in heavy traffic with a semi on your tail. Everyone will have a Highway 101 in their life, in some form or another. Maybe it is a health problem, a broken relationship, a lost loved one or a lost job. Devastation comes in a million and one disguises. It can leave your life looking so mangled and destroyed that it is barely recognizable, even to you.
This is where God really gets to work - if we let Him. He will use the lowly things, the things that "are not" to nullify the things that are. He will get us where He wants us by tearing apart the things that are holding us back from achieving His master plan.
He will work a miracle in the midst of rubble.
No matter where you are in your life and how ugly and disfigured it may appear, it can have a happy ending of God's amazing grace and power.
It, too, can be a miracle.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wedding Fun

Alert: America is now in the wedding season.
Yes, that's right folks, we are back into the yearly trend that comes each spring and lasts into the early fall. It is that special time of year where every Saturday fancy hotels, gardens and banquet halls are rented out for the exchanging of vows and boogieing down that is sure to follow. Months of planning, prepping and stressing all come together on that one evening/afternoon/midmorning (if you booked too late to get a good time slot).
Glancing through the Announcements page of the local newspaper on a Sunday morning you are sure to come across some happy love birds posing on their big day. A thumbnail sketch of the event is usually described such as the ceremony and reception location. If the beach was involved you usually will read about that, too. But most of the article will usually be about how they met and where they work and what city they will reside in now that they are man and wife.
But every once in a while you will read about a lavish event fit for an Arabian Prince/Princess - an extravaganza that makes Martha Stewart Weddings magazine look like a backyard barbeque.
Yara and Dr. Shoemaker (Doctor, of course), married at a court house last year but waited for wedding season to get the party started. And start it did they ever! Of course, the event was outside at a mansion on the beach. Can you say $$$?
Add a few more $$$ because they brought in an orchestra. Obviously.
But an orchestra wasn't enough because Jackie Evancho (child protegee opera singer) jumped out of a cake and sang her little heart out. Okay, so I don't know if she jumped out of a cake per-se, but it was a surprise performance. I'm picturing a Singing in the Rain moment akin to when Debbie Reynolds bursts out of a cake at a Monumental Pictures shindig. Jackie is small enough, she could surely fit in a mock cake.
But maybe that would be too 1950's and not "hip" enough.
The wedding belly dancer was definitely 21st century. And so was the 15 minute fireworks display.
So, this got me thinking: where was the helicopter?
The happy couple really should have departed from a specially heart-shaped helicopter pad built specifically for the occasion. The wedding party could have decorated the outside of the helicopter with gold studded cans and strings of pearls. Cute, right? Oh, and don't forget the "Just Married" sign. Every wedding helicopter must have the proper signage. Then they could have made a grand exit off to a private island at an undisclosed location in the Pacific Ocean. You need to keep some things under wraps so longitudinal location is under lock and key. Sorry.
And what wedding favors were distributed? I'm betting on an Benz E-Class Cabriolet. This is the beach, so convertibles just make sense. A coupe just wouldn't be as fitting. And an SUV would be ridiculous, unless it is for a big family. I hope Yara considered that in her planning.
The event really did look spectacular. The setting sun cast beautiful hues as a backdrop only God's handiwork can provide. The flowers were luxurious, providing a lush and elegant oasis. In each picture the guests looked thrilled to be receiving a Mercedes...er, I mean celebrating the love of the beaming bride and groom.
Overall, a beautiful celebration for the most precious of earthly unions: that of man and wife.
Now, on to the next matter of business. When is the baby arriving? Because the event planner needs to know if we're going for a pink or blue color scheme for the baby shower.