Sunday, February 26, 2006

Moses and Me...Missed the Boat

I finished reading Marley and Me. Well, almost...I didn't read the final few chapters because Marley's end seemed imminent. I just could not bring myself to wade through the final sad stages of life with a dog, having gone down that path with my own. Too sad.

However, the rest of the book was priceless. Marley and Me is a classic tale of boy meets girl, boy and girl marry, girl's biological clock begins ticking, boy and girl get dog. Many of the stories were laugh-out-loud funny, which makes for great reading when your husband is trying to sleep next to you. I've heard some people claim that the author must have "embellished" in order to make the book more funny. But I know firsthand that life with a pup can be as crazy as one can imagine.

As a matter of fact, I was reading the book thinking to myself that I missed the boat writing this bestseller. Marley reminded me of Moses, and Moses of Marley. Marley would take every dog on "as a good time;" we had Moses neutered nine months ahead of schedule for that very reason. Marley's owners reached down his throat in attempts to retrieve beloved objects; I not only reached down Moses throat, but also had to pull undigested objects from his bum as well. Gross, you say? Well, when your dog is hunched over trying to both walk and poo while looking at you with the most helpless face, something has to be done. And I can pretty much guarantee that your husband and teenage son will be nowhere to be found at that very moment.

While Moses was not destro-dog inside, he did manage to pull up and/or eat every flower I planted in the back yard. I anticipate the spring bulbs popping out of the cold Michigan ground each spring. Last year was no different. I would patrol the yard each day (on a dual poop-flower mission), waiting for the afternoon I would find the crocus bloomed...or the tulip...daffodil. However, our yard seemed the site of a new phenomenon whereby the very day a flower was going to bloom, it jumped ship from its stem - some times landing nearby, sometimes disappearing altogether. When I figured out what was going on, I looked at Moses, and he looked back at me with his cocked head, "Whaaaaat?" It would take all three of us to corner him, with a little help from our mature chocolate lab, Penny. Then we would find the bulb-of-the-day stuffed into his cheek like snuff.

While some may shake their head in disbelief at Marley's antics, I nodded in sympathy. Been there, done that. My saving grace was Moses returning to Leader Dogs for the Blind for formal training...and with hope that the professionals can weed out a few of those issues! While I didn't finish the book, I can only imagine that Marley's owners - like us obsessive dog owners everywhere - would do it again, in a heartbeat.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Not-My-Puppy Love

I've received two great pieces of advice from other writers. The first was, write, write, write. The second was "you are obsessed for a reason, so write about it." Thus I became free to write, write, write about my obsession - dogs. This piece is about Moses, a puppy we raised last year for Leader Dogs for the Blind. Yes, giving him back was hard.
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I fell asleep debating whether I would fall in love with him. I know he wouldn't be mine forever, and I was unsure if I was up to the heartache that undoubtedly would mark his leaving, his absence, his new life a world away from mine.

I think I had decided to throw caution to the wind before my dreams took over. My heart was set to fill with the unconditional love that is reserved for dogs, the place that I had kept locked up for months from the Leader Dog pup that lay a few feet from me curled up in the night.

At least that was my thought before the unmistakable belly warping sounds woke me from my sleep, proceeded by violent gagging and throwing of tonight's supper wrapped in grass that landed in a neat pile on his newly washed blankets. Before I could reach overhead to turn on the lamp, I hear him frantically gobbling the mess, which is already gone before the light floods the room.

I sat up and made eye contact with him. His vacant pupils glowing as he licked his mouth with a satisfied, "What?" look on his black face. Maybe I don't have to love this one, I thought as I leaned back on my pillow and turned off the light.

Again, I drift into sleep, resuming the love-him, love-him-not battle, when the belly wave, regurgitation cycle begins again. This time, I don't bother even to turn on the light. I know he'll eat it and he won't regret it. I know I'll never understand it. But I know I'll love him anyway.

The kid theme, continued

As some of you know, I became the mom of a teen boy last year. He's my first kid, which has its positives and negatives (positives - I didn't know any better; negatives - I don't know any better). The thing for which I was most unprepared as a parent, was how differently I would give and receive love. With my husband, my heart swells gradually over time: I'm convinced that my heart is bigger now than before I knew him. But with the kid, my heart seems break on a regular basis. The upside-downess of it, however, is that breaking isn't a bad thing. Instead, the more my heart breaks because of and for him, the more that love pours through to him.

Yea, we don't get it either. But, I'm learning to enjoy the wild ride of teenage-dom. I'm just glad that this time I'm a bystander who watches the kids wizz by me screaming at the top of their voices as they plummet down the steep hill, then raise their arms in anticipation as they slowly climb the next hill, knowing that it, too, will take them plummeting straight down again. Thank God the ride ends eventually, and that most of them will have the good sense to get off...and not get back into line!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Loving Elmo...and other strange changes

We sat there in the dark, leaning toward one another until our shoulders touched lightly. He had one hand resting on my knee, and another in the popcorn. His eyes stayed glued to the curtain that I promised the three-year-old sitting next to me would rise, and we waited together for Sesame Street Live to begin.

I was of the "I-can't-believe-people-spend-money-on-this-stuff" camp when it came to shows like Sesame Street Live, Disney on Ice, etc. That's all changed after last night. Hunter and I went to the Fox Theater for the performance. We climbed the steps to the balcony, bought some popcorn and took our seats. While I hoped that Hunter would be excited, I was not prepared for the excitement and anticipation I would feel.

People often speak about seeing the world through the eyes of a child, but mostly I used to think it was for those writing poetry...or greeting cards. This past year, however, I have experienced those soul-piercing moments when an adult enters into a child's world - if only briefly - and experiences the priviledge of seeing the world in a different light. My nephew, Hunter, gave me this gift last night, as I wiggled also in the seat next to him, clapped my hands to the music, laughed to make the picture machine work and yelled for Oscar to come out of his garbage can. The playing field was leveled; he and I were playmates for a few moments.

Aidan and Natalie, two other toddlers in my life have also transported me through that invisible barrier of adult and childhood. Aidan and I went to Greenfield Village together last autumn. It was during the harvest celebration, and the last of the sun's warmth followed us through our walk. One of the employees gave us an apple from the orchard. I only took one, figuring neither Aidan nor I would eat much of it. But as we sat on a bench watching kids from the metro schools walk by, feeling the sun warm our faces, we passed the apple between us, taking bite after delicious bite. Never have I enjoyed an apple like that. Again, worlds collide, playing fields are leveled, and we are just two human beings enjoying the simplicity of an apple late one autumn morning.

And Natalie...what can I say about this precious girl who has stolen my heart...The girl who lays her head on my shoulder, and stays that way that without falling asleep? Afterwards, I thought she was just having a hard time staying asleep, but I think she just knew I needed the comfort. She falls into your lap, and crawls up your arm, until she finds a comfortable position for cuddling. Her capacity to give comfort and love is amazing. Rocking together I cross the line into the peaceful and carefree existence of a kid without cares. It's an escape with her I welcome gratefully.

Sometimes I think that the difference between the ways that adults and children see the world is like Saran wrap and bubble wrap. Adults surround themselves with Saran wrap, protecting themselves from the things that can harm them. But it leaves them stuffy. Kids take life like bubble wrap: it can be used protectively when needed, but mostly it's for a party - a loud, wonderful, popping party.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Great Book!

Is is just me, or is finding wonderful, absorbing fiction becoming more difficult? Why does "popular fiction" have to be depressing or about confusing gender issues to get on the Oprah book club? Don't get me wrong, big Oprah fan here...minus the book club. Deeeeepressing.

BUT, just recently a new acquaintence of mine recommended an author - Charles Martin. I picked up his book Sunday (soon to be a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie!), The Dead Don't Dance and finished it Monday evening. Lovely book. Bittersweet from the beginning. Interesting characters (you'll love the bagpiper), and the ending...well, don't want to ruin it for you. I'm breaking my rule of reading two books by the same author in a row by indulging currently in Wrapped in Rain.

If you read any of his stuff, let me know. I'd be interested to know what you think!

Upside Down, Inside Out

What has surprised me most about following God, is that He teaches us to walk completely contrary to the way the world teaches us. God's ways seem upside down and inside out when we compare them with the culture. Yet, God's way is the only way that works out all the time! I've been attempting to follow God for several years, and am just now beginning to get some shadow of understanding about this! I am convinced that if those who called themselves Christians would GET THIS then the world would want what we have. Instead, we hop along asking God to apply bandaids to situations, rather than letting Him transform our minds and hearts in Christ Jesus.

When I finally stopped running after every inkling of what He might have for me to do for the Kingdom, and really started absorbing what He said in His Word to do, I was shocked. The world tells us to beat down the door of opportunity; God tells us that He will open a door no man can shut. The world tells us to look out for number one, because no one else will; God says, "greater love has no man than this, that he will lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)."
Even most of us in "churchdom" have missed it. We have scheduled so many programs to cater to every conceivable person who might walk through our doors. Instead, God has called us to go into all the nations...baptize....teach. Yet, we chastise people for not going to church on Sundays. Hmmmm....let's not shirk our responsibility, folks of God.

What would Jesus do? The opposite of what the world would do - pretty much every time. The crazy thing is, doing it God's way is an adventure...it's joyful...and it works. Ironically, here my husband and I sit: he's laid off and I'm editing articles for peanuts; yet we have enough money to live and have a little fun, and we've never been happier. That's the Kingdom of God. Anybody can preach to you out of the prosperous times. Anyone can tell you of the power of God when they are on the mountain. We need those people to give us hope. But we also need those in the middle of the valley to increase our faith.

So, while the world is saying apply for jobs - make your own way; God is saying wait on Me.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry (Habakkuk 2:3). To which I say, Amen! So be it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Why Blog

Funny, I never thought I'd find myself here, in cyberspace, blogging for all to see. I wrestled with the blogging concept for quite awhile, never really being able to justify doing it. After all, wasn't blogging for teens, a place where they bared their soul? Not for me.

However, I find myself coming around the mountain...again...to this place called "Writing." It seems that no matter the direction I take, the degree I get, the place I live, the people I hang out with, I keep coming back to this place. So, big decision - I'm staying. I'm not fighting the writing bug anymore. I refuse to let the naysayers in my mind, and the one on my shoulder, tell me I can't do it...that I'll never make it...that nobody will ever pay me for words. I'm going to write anyway.

Thus, the blog. Too many years I've stayed huddled in the corner writing poems or letters to the editor that I never sent for publishing. Fear of rejection? Probably. So, this is my attempt to dip my toes into the public sphere. Throw my words out for others to chew on, or to spit out. Mind you, it is quite safe, as probably only my family and friends will occasionally drop by, and then only when I remind them. But I don't plan to stay. Abide here I will, but here is a big place.

Thanks for joining my journey. Walk with me a mile, or two.