Introducing…..

It’s been so hard to keep me under wraps, but now it’s time to let the blogosphere in on a little secret. A new fur-baby has arrived!

TA-DA! My name is Cabo and I’m very happy to meet you all. And, despite my size, I’m kinda a big deal around here.

They tell me I’m a Goldendoodle….my Golden Retriever mom was named Mari Gold and my Standard Poodle dad was named Jude. I was born on March 26, 2017 and came to my forever home on Saturday, May 27, 2017.

Sometimes my people mom and dad make a mistake and call me Tanner so I think I have some very big paws to fill. Evidently, it wasn’t that long ago when they unexpectedly lost their beloved Golden Retriever. I don’t think they planned on adding another fur baby yet, but I guess they just missed having a pupper underfoot around the house.

My new mom and dad might be a little rusty on their puppyhood skills since the very first thing that happened was I was put into a big, slippery, white container and water with bubbly stuff was poured over me. Totally wasn’t expecting that.

But snuggles and a nap in a soft towel on mom’s lap made it worthwhile.

I thought I’d miss my litter mates a little those first nights, but the weirdest thing is I can still smell them on the towel that’s in my kennel. So, I guess everything is okay and I don’t get lonely in the middle of the night. Mom says I’m a super awesome puppy for letting her get 6-7 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

One day, we ventured out to a HUGE place with lots of new smells. Mom and Dad got me a spiffy red, white and blue collar with my very own name tag! I also got some new toys!

A few days ago, I went to see a new doctor and she checked me all over and said I’d already gained 2 pounds since I got home! Nope, I miss very few opportunities to eat. I almost have mom and dad potty trained to when I need to go outside…but miss occasionally just to keep them on their toes.

Oh, and the best thing about my new home is it came with playmates! There’s this funny-looking dog I see occasionally in the house. I cornered it in a room and tried to play with the swishy tail, but the only thing that happened was I got batted on the nose. I’ll try to play again another day.

Sometimes TWO other playmates come to see me! They’re LOADS of fun! I think we’ll be besties very soon.

I think I’ll stay with my new mom and dad. They seem pretty okay so far. But now, I think I need to take a nap. Being a puppy is really hard work.

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
—Roger Caras

 

Photo Blogging Challenge: Look Up

 

 

 

Here we are again with PJ’s Photo Blogging Challenge. Where do the months go? This month’s prompt was Look Up. Bloggers from all over participate by taking photos with the month’s theme in mind and posting them at the end of the month. I tried to take a little different, less literal approach this time. Enjoy.

#1 Look Up….
Early in the month, our grand-niece was baptized in her Mama’s baptismal gown. You could say we all Looked Up to God for extending his grace to this wee one and sealing her with his covenant.

#2. Look Up….
Our nephew graduated from high school this month and his future is Looking Up.

#3. Look Up….
When you’re a puppy, Looking Up is the norm. This is Cooper, a nephew’s Australian Shepherd pupper looking up from the ground.

#4. Look Up…..
We were told Peanut would receive an award at her end-of-the-year school assembly. As we were sitting through all the awards, listening for her name that was not being called, I began to get a little worried there’d been some sort of mistake. But there was no mistake. Her name was called for the last award, The Glory of Missouri proclamation from the Missouri State House of Representatives. The Glory of Missouri is awarded to 14 students in participating schools, each student representing one of the 14 virtues displayed in the house chamber; Knowledge, Liberty, Equality, Law, Justice, Fraternity, Education, Progress, Honor, Truth, Virtue, Temperance, Enterprise, and Charity. Peanut’s award was for Knowledge. She may be someone to Look Up to in the future!

#5. Look Up….
It was a fun challenge this month and I hope you enjoyed my take on “Look Up.” I’ll leave you with the goldfinches we’ll be Looking Up at in the sky…after they finish emptying the bird feeder.

Be sure to Look Up the other photo challenge entries over at A ‘lil HooHaa.

Pardon me while I brag a bit

Caution: this post contains shameless and excessive grandparent bragging.

Last week we went to Peanut’s school for the end-of-semester awards ceremony. Now, normally, non-eduction types don’t voluntarily attend these ceremonies…unless given the heads up that their child is one of the recipients.

A little background info: Peanut started a new school this year after moving into their renovated house in August. She was filled with all the anxiety an 8 year old can feel about walking into the unknown. Peanut is not a fan of change and this was a major one in her young life. Slowly, she came out of her shell, made friends and did very well academically. Her teacher was a perfect match for what she needed this year.

Throughout the year, Peanut was recognized for a reading challenge where she read more than 600 pages in a week’s time. Last week, she was chosen as one of the Students of the 4th Quarter for academic excellence. She was also chosen to participate in a second grade STEM program.

 

So that’s the back story. Now, we’re sitting in the awards ceremony listening to all the 2nd and 3rd grade teachers announce their selections for various academic awards…..and Peanut’s name is not one of them. Okay, perhaps she’ll be recognized for Citizenship, Art, Music or PE? Nope. I was beginning to think there’d been a mistake.

I scan the program to see if I missed a category but the only one left is something called the Glory of Missouri. This is a proclamation from the Missouri State House of Representatives. The Glory of Missouri is awarded to 14 students in participating schools, each student representing one of 14 virtues; Knowledge, Liberty, Equality, Law, Justice, Fraternity, Education, Progress, Honor, Truth, Virtue, Temperance, Enterprise, and Charity. Peanut’s award was for Knowledge. The virtues were engraved in the House of Representative Chamber between 1922 and 1924 when the capitol building was rebuilt due to a fire.

Surely not.

But I would have been surely incorrect! As her name was called to receive the award for Knowledge, it was one of those elusive Joy moments I’m trying to find in the middle of all the chaos of our lives. I honestly didn’t see this one coming. Her teacher said there was no question whose name she would be submitting.

Knowledge
Qualifications:  The student qualified for the Knowledge virtue is one whom exemplifies this definition.  The student who receives recognition for this award must not only be book smart, but be aware of the state of information.

Example:  A student who possesses intellectual capabilities beyond his or her years, a student who has demonstrated aware behavior such as a potential valedictorian or a strong student leader. 

We are all so thrilled Peanut seemed to assimilate seamlessly into her new school. And, evidently, she never missed a beat when it came to the love of learning.

And…..we now have a third grader on our hands!

Photo Blogging Challenge: Color!

Late to PJ’s party over at A ‘lil Hoohaa this month, but better late than never? Especially since the theme is COLOR!

April was a colorful month and the enticing spring flowers, Easter festivities and warmer weather made sure I got out to enjoy all that color….except for the last three days when Mom Nature decided to dump buckets and buckets of water on us. Oh, and today, it’s barely making it out of the 40sF. So it’s April that’s going out like a lion.

Back to more enjoyable thoughts.

Color #1
The oddest thing happened one day at War-Mart. Four very large hanging baskets of violas jumped into my cart. So, I took them home for some early spring color in the planter pots. The lovely lavender and yellow colors were just what I needed that day to make me smile. 🙂

Color #2
Sometimes Twix gets to go to Preschool Open Gym time a local gymnastics gym. It’s always very colorful in a gym with the mats. And…then there’s the splash of pink color hanging on the rope.

Color #3
I featured this earlier this month, but it bears repeating. This colorful display is what greeted Entrepreneur and I when we went to the hospital for his radiation treatments. The sea of cheerful, yellow, daffodils probably brought smiles to many worried patients.

Color #4
Easter is always colorful with egg hunts and baskets. This year, Peanut found a very colorful lollipop in a basket from her great-grandparents.

Color #5
What self-respecting color addict wouldn’t include a photo that personified her bio? As a 96-crayon-box person, I might resemble this remark….um photo. 🙂

Don’t forget to visit PJ’s place to enjoy more colorful month-in-reviews.

Why I wear a cross

Do you wear a cross necklace? If not, you probably know someone who does. Do you ever wonder why?

I’m not going to debate whether a cross is a pagan symbol for various Sun-deities. Nor, am I going to debate whether Christians should or shouldn’t wear a cross. I’m also not going to debate whether Jesus was crucified on a “cross” or a “stake.” A case can be made for the later from some Greek translations of the New Testament, but that’s splitting hairs and we’re not going there.

It’s true, the cross symbol predates Christianity centuries before Jesus was crucified. It wasn’t until around 430AD that crosses began to be seen in churches. Over the centuries, this symbol has been both celebrated and perverted by religions worldwide.

In today’s culture I believe the cross has been domesticated…tamed to the point of being irrelevant. It appears on so many things, and its original intent (pagan or sacred) has been largely lost in translation. We see celebrities and athletes adorn themselves with crosses….sometimes in numbers that would cause drowning if they ever fell into deep water. They must be super religious, right?

I have a small cross I wear pretty much 24/7, but not as a fashion statement or good luck talisman that protects me from bad juju. There are no special powers about this piece of gold. I don’t pray to it or worship it in any way.

Soooooo, why do I wear it, you might wonder? After all, a cross or crucifix is representative of one of the most horrific methods of execution known to humankind. History states it was probably the Assyrians and Babylonians who originated this method of torture; but it was the Romans who perfected the art around the first century. It was so torturous that, by decree except in cases of treason, it was rarely used on Roman citizens.

According to Britannica.com:

Usually, the condemned man, after being whipped, or “scourged,” dragged the crossbeam of his cross to the place of punishment, where the upright shaft was already fixed in the ground. Stripped of his clothing, he was bound fast with outstretched arms to the crossbeam or nailed firmly to it through the wrists. The crossbeam was then raised high against the upright shaft …. Next, the feet were tightly bound or nailed to the upright shaft. A ledge inserted about halfway up the upright shaft gave some support to the body. Over the criminal’s head was placed a notice stating his name and his crime. Death ultimately occurred through a combination of constrained blood circulation, organ failure, and asphyxiation as the body strained under its own weight. It could be hastened by shattering the legs with an iron club, which prevented them from supporting the body’s weight and made inhalation more difficult, accelerating both asphyxiation and shock.

If the sacrificial death of Jesus was needed to redeem and reconcile humankind back to its creator, there surely were less gruesome ways other than crucifixion to make that happen; surely there were quicker methods that would have accomplished this atonement. Why so much brutality? Why so much savagery? Why death on a cross?

What’s missing from our 21st century view of the cross is exactly that….the raw realization of that brutality and savagery Jesus experienced….for his creation. Why did Jesus, the incarnate God, choose to suffer to this extent at the hands of evil? Why…since at any point he could have stopped all of it by simply stepping down off the cross…did  he voluntarily endure six hours of pain, broken bones, thorns pressed into his head, and eventual suffocation of his human form? Would blood from a finger prick make the same statement? It surely could have sufficed for a blood offering. How about a quick spear through the heart? Surely that would have been preferable to six hours of agony.

Which makes this historical event all the more an epiphany moment for me. The cross is representative of both darkest evil and radiating goodness. It’s message is one of both humble surrender and powerful victory. For six hours, evil was unleashed and allowed to do its damnedest against God the Son. And in the end, it appears evil was successful in silencing both Jesus and the movement.

Until three days later when the seemingly impossible happened. Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection are the perfect bookends to show his sovereign power over sin and death. And, the fact that so many people witnessed and encountered the risen Christ after the fact makes this seemingly impossible event all the more relevant. The authority of the empty tomb trumped the agony and savagery of the cross. It was the ultimate statement that evil did not, could not and will not win in the end. And, that is why this “movement” exploded during the centuries that followed. Too many people witnessed the impossible and Christianity became impossible to stop, despite continued torture and crucifixion of its followers.

That symbol of torture is my reminder of hope; it’s my reminder of how much pain Jesus suffered for my sake; a reminder of how much my life means to God.

A finger prick could never mean as much.

Playing along with others over at Peabea’s Pictorial Tuesday.

Am I the storm?

Fate whispers to the warrior,
“you cannot withstand the storm.”
The warrior whispers back,
“I am the storm.”

~Unknown

When I came across this quote, it really struck me as a powerful way to combat the fear, doubt, worry, anxiety and sheet exhaustion that goes along with the battle with cancer. While I’m not the one with the horrid disease, when cancer strikes, it affects the entire family. So to read this quote seem like it would be empowering, right? We look fate square in the eye, lean in close and, with an antagonistic smirk, declare we are the storm.

I don’t know about you, but left to my own capabilities, I am anything but the storm. In fact, left on my own, I tend to struggle to stay afloat in the pity puddle created through worry, fear and anxiety. And closely related to those are the ugly cousins of resentment, irritation and impatience.

Left on my own, this is more what I tend to do.
I would hasten to my place of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest. ~Psalm 55:8

No, as much as I would like to identify as a warrior who can confidently take on what may be considered the lies of Fate (or the Devil in some quote variations), I cannot do it alone. I am wonderful at talking the talk, but sometimes walking the walk is a completely different story.

I need the rest of the army….and let’s throw in some marines, navy seals and air force fighter pilots as well. And let’s make sure the commander is one worthy of taking on the brewing storm.

Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy. ~Exodus 15:6

That ideal Commander-in-Chief would be the one who not only has the power to create the storm, but the one who also is sovereign over the storm.

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. ~Matthew 8:24-26

And that army of warriors? Those would be everyone who has come to our aid in prayer. And, we have awesome prayer warriors…from here in our church to across the country…and jumping across the pond as well. Without these intercessions, I assure you we would be feeling more overwhelmed and lost than we already feel now.

Some days I feel strong and fearless in the eye of the storm. But then there are the days when I feel like a single drop just might drown me. Lately, some complications have arisen that are testing both our patience and resolve. And, I can confidently say I’m somewhat terrified. And, there are many nights after he’s asleep where I find myself feeling overwhelmingly sad that there’s a chance all the plans we’ve made for the future just might never happen.

So, am I the storm? Not hardly. But when I’m aligned with the one who created and has the power to calm the storm…and with those who know how to use the powerful weapon of prayer…and the mere mortals in whose hands we put our health care….

…we can become the perfect reciprocal storm.

Playing along with others over at Peabea’s Pictorial Tuesday.

A little glimpse of Joy

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.
~William Shakespeare

I think I came across my first Joy encounter last week. Of course, there’s been some moments of happiness, but like we discussed earlier this year, Happy is not necessarily the same feeling as Joy.

This Joy encounter came from an unexpected source….the cancer radiation treatment center. Yes, you heard correctly.

Entrepreneur was scheduled for three radiation treatments last week. We drove to the hospital entrance for radiation patients with more than a little anxiety building about how these procedures could end up. Radiating the brain….the stuff of which anxiety is made.

It was a dreary, chilly, spring day with on and off rain showers. Much like our frame of mind. But as we drove into the private parking area for radiation patients, this is what greeted us.

A sea of yellow daffodils planted between the reserved parking spaces and entrance.

I felt my heart lift as soon as I saw them. Of course, they didn’t negate the harsh reality of what was about to happen inside, but for a brief moment, I was caught up in the beauty of the moment. I thought of all the hours it must have taken to plant these bulbs last Autumn. I thought what a wonderful gift to those experiencing the challenging darkness of cancer.

And, I noticed some of these splendid blossoms had been mercilessly beat down onto the ground, unable to hold up against the spring storms. What a shame, I thought. So, I rescued them to live in vases in my home. There is some poetic justice in this, right? 🙂

Joy. It can surprise us in the strangest of places.

For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh