Monday, December 31, 2012

A prayer for the New Year

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, 
as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

The Prayer of Saint Francis

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Every rose has its thorns

Do you know this girl?

If you do, then you are lucky. If you don't, then I can promise you that you wish you did.


Because this girl is a delight.

This girl can tell you more about dogs than you ever needed to know. Aren't sure which breed is right for you? Ask Annie. She will ask you some questions about your home, lifestyle and personality and instantly come up with the right dog for you based on size, temperament and energy level. Wondering about a mixed breed? Annie can look at any mutt and accurately assess which breeds came together to form that charming little pup.

And if she should ever ask you, "Do you want to know how it works today?" Say yes. Because you won't believe what spills out of the imagination of this small girl on a daily basis. Every day is a fairy tale in Annie's world and one day we might all be flying dogs, superheroes with a particular power, or half-human/half-animal (of your choosing). Oh, and word to the wise, you better have a darn good reason why you chose the animal you did because without a decent explanation for being half-elephant she will promptly veto your plans and assign you an animal much better suited to your needs.

It's not that she is without her faults. Who isn't?

She worries too much.

She is wounded too easily.

She can be stubborn and forgetful and does not care for vegetables all that much.

But none of those things are the things that make me look toward her future with trepidation.

As much as I fear her heart being broken and her propensity for drama and anxiety... no, those are not the things that put me on my knees.

The thing is... this girl could be anything. And she has many ideas for what she might be. On any given day she'd like to be a veterinarian, a dog walker, a doggy-spa owner, a doggy day-care owner (are you detecting a theme?) and then sometimes for variety, she opts for being a gymnast, a teacher or an actress.

And I have no doubt that if she puts her mind to it, she could be any one of those things.

But in addition to being a dog walking-tumbling-veterinarian, I'm afraid my daughter is going to be something else.

A hoarder.

It's not that she likes to save lots of little trinkets and mementos. It's that she likes to save ALL little trinkets and mementos... and packaging and special notes and items from occasions that she didn't even enjoy.

For example, the purple nose-breather-thingy from the dentist office when she had a cavity filled. Do you think she enjoyed having a cavity filled? Do you think that is a special memory?

Neither do I.

How about the empty box pictured there? Nope, there is nothing in that box. But it has pictures of dogs on it so therefore it is meaningful and of great value. That dalmatian tail was part of a costume that Jack wore to his high school TOLO dance. I could have killed him when he offered it to his sister. Now, it is a permanent part of her ever-growing shelf display that only multiplies and never subtracts.

Last Christmas, Santa gave Annie one of those Dog-A-Day tear off calendars with 365 days of dogs. How perfect for our little dog lover, right?

Yes...and no.

Because every day is a new dog just as precious and adorable as the day before, none of which can be parted with.

I tried putting the torn off days into a folder hoping that eventually they would mysteriously find their way to the recycling. But Annie has a high need for visual displays of her most favored possessions.

What to do...what to do...(my plans all involved cutting the collection down to her Top 10 favorite dogs).

She solved the problem herself. All it took was a roll of scotch tape (which you'll notice is now permanently housed on her shelf, see picture #1) and her unique vision for interior design.

The door to her bedroom.

The cute flower fairy alphabet cards used to be her only wall display.

Not anymore.

This barely even scratches the surface as there are dog-calendar pages taped to virtually every surface in her room now.

She recently told me that she hopes Santa will bring her a new 2013 Dog-a-Day calendar.

Not likely.

It's all enough to make her minimalist-mother break out in hives.

I can only hope that whatever slow-growing "cleanliness gene" that I must carry, which allowed me to grow from a messy child into a tidy adult, is lying dormant somewhere in my sweet girl just waiting to flourish in adulthood when she will look back on these pictures and wonder aloud, How on earth did you stand this, Mother?

To which I will simply smile and pray that she will be blessed with her very own adorable, creative, tender-hearted, cart-wheeling, dog-loving, dreamy little hoarder.

And I'll be sure Santa leaves her a Dog-a Day Calendar under the tree.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Newer skies

Kneeling in Bethlehem
by Ann Weems

It is not over,

this birthing.

There are always newer skies

into which God can throw stars.

When we begin to think

that we can predict the Advent of God,

that we can box the Christ,

in a stable in Bethlehem,

that's just the time that God will be born

in a place we can't imagine and won't believe.

Those who wait for God

watch with their hearts and not with their eyes,


always listening

for angel words.

This has long been my favorite Advent poem. I love the way it challenges us to imagine the possibility that the miracle of Christmas was not merely a one-time event in history, but evidence of God's ongoing, persistent, tireless, devoted and dogged determination to be known, to be felt, and to be present in our lives. If only we will listen.

This year, as I read this poem anew I was struck by the first lines and how much of motherhood is an endless process of birthing. That newborn whom we labored to bring into the world bears almost no resemblance to the toddler we must teach to walk and talk; nor he to the grade-school boy who must be taught self-control and compassion; and then we turn around and we are staring into the chest of a man-child, a head taller than ourselves, who is poised to take his first steps out into the world alone, possessing little more than youthful self-confidence and optimism- but anxious to leave nonetheless.

It is not over...this birthing.

And right now I am praying with all my might that there are newer skies ahead- skies that are star-filled and exploding with wonder and hope.

For him.

And for all of us.

Blessings to all this First Sunday of Advent.