Archive | January 2015

More on that Reflection in the Mirror – and in the Photo

Floey sitting w patio door reflectionIn last week’s blog post I wrote about Floey’s reaction to seeing her reflection, and I changed the words of a familiar old song to “How Mean is that Doggie in the Mirror?” Then, personalizing it, I rewrote the simple lyrics again with the words “How Kind is that Person in the Mirror?” This week Floey and I have some more thoughts about reflections that we see of ourselves…

This time of year is significant for our family, and I was talking with Floey about that on Saturday. “Hey, Floey, do you know what today is?”

Floey-Marian faces selfie 2“I sure do, Mom! It’s the second day of my one-year birthday celebration. You do know I have a 2-day birthday, don’t you?”

“Well, I guess you might say that,” I replied. “Your adoption record says you were born on January 23, 2014, but your first vet record has a hand-written birthdate that is either January 24 or January 29 – I can’t tell for sure. So I guess we could celebrate your birthday throughout January 23 and 24, if you’d like.”

“Yup. That’s what I want to do – every year – a 2-day celebration!” she said with her tail wagging.

“OK, that’s what we’ll do,” I told her. Then I added, “You chose a really special time of year to be born, Floey, at least for our family.”

“Really? What else is special – besides my birthday?”

“We celebrate the nine days from January 24 to February 1 every year. On February 1, 1973 I met Mim in a small group Bible study, and she invited me to share her apartment with her until I could find a place of my own. I never moved out. On February 1 of this year we will have lived together 42 years.”

“Wow! That’s 294 dog years!” Floey exclaimed. “But what happened on January 24 that gives you reason to celebrate all those days between January 24 and February 1?”

“On January 24, 1989 – 26 years ago – Mim and I had a Blessing Ceremony. It was our time to publicly declare our love for each other and to promise to love and care for each other for the rest of our lives. Our Lutheran pastor performed the ceremony. Our attorney was there with our wills and power of attorney documents to be signed and witnessed for us to convey to each other as many ‘spousal rights’ as we could.”

“Does that mean that you’re really married? That we’re really a family forever?”

Floey-Marian working at desk 2“Of course it does, Floey. But for legal purposes we had a legal wedding in Minnesota a year and a half ago. That’s another date we celebrate – September 15.”

“I’m sure glad I joined this family! We celebrate a lot!”

“We sure do, and the nine-day stretch of January 24 through February 1 is the special time we’re celebrating right now.”

“Hey, we can make it a ten-day celebration, by having it begin with my birthday!”

“I guess we can, Floey. But now, maybe you can help me pick out some pictures to use. I want to create an anniversary card for Mim. I’ve got lots of old photos to choose from.”

Ch-1 MM front of Xmas treeFloey stared at an old photo. “Is that really you, Mom? It can’t be. Those two young women look really happy, but they don’t look very wise. And they are long-haired people. Were you and Mim ever long-haired?”

“Yes, Floey. We were both long-haired people when we were in our twenties. Can’t you see any resemblance to us at all in this picture?”

“I don’t know, Mom.”

MM 1988 church picture cropped“Well, how about this picture. It was taken about 15 years later for the church directory. We knew we had found the right church when the pastor said that of course we could have our picture taken together as a family for the church directory. That’s the pastor who married us with a blessing ceremony a couple years later. Here’s a picture from the ceremony.”

BC-1 MM Steve“I guess I can see you in that picture. Old pictures give funny reflections of who you are, don’t they. They aren’t quite like mirrors. Or maybe we can say they are mirrors that reflect our history.”

“You’re right, Floey. That’s a good way to say it.”

I flipped through some more pictures in the photo album. Floey jumped up and said, “Is that you and Mim holding that blond puppy?”

Ch-1 MM Megabyte on couch“Yes. That’s Megabyte. About a year after our blessing ceremony we adopted our first dog. We were ready for our family to grow. A year later we adopted our second dog, Maia. She’s in this next picture along with Megabyte and Mim’s mom who lived with us for five years.”

M-M-Selma-Meg-Maia cropped“I’m glad you have these family pictures so I can see my older sisters and see all the love that has been shared in my family.”

“I’m glad you can see the love in these family pictures. That’s what I really hope these reflections of our family life over the years show. The next picture is only a couple years old – so you should easily recognize us. It’s a family portrait with Abbey, our last dog before you came to us. Do you think we still look as happy as we did on our first picture? And have we started to look wise yet?”

PID 445601 Back Cover Family Portrait“Oh, Mom, I can see love and happiness in all of these pictures. I think there might be some wisdom starting to show too – in the gray hair and the extra weight (probably gained by sitting around pondering life’s mysteries). But you don’t have any family pictures with me in them yet. When can we get our picture taken together?”

Mim-Floey-Marian 01-06-15“That will happen soon. Remember I took that selfie a couple weeks ago. Pretty soon we’ll start taking more pictures. We want our photo history to reflect as much of the love and joy in our lives as possible.

“I guess I need to write another verse for our doggie song.”

How loving is that family in the photo?
The one with the moms and the dogs.
How loving is that family in the photo?
I hope they’re still keeping photo logs.

“That’s kind of a strange lyric, Mom. Can’t you do better than that?”

“Well, Floey, what words can you think of that rhyme with ‘dogs’?”

“I see what you mean. I’ll stick with ‘woof, woof’ – that always rhymes.”

Floey adoption photo

How Mean Is That Doggie in the Mirror?

Floey reflection closeupFloey, who will turn one on January 24, barks ferociously every time she sees her reflection – whether it’s in a mirror, in a window at night, in the shiny black refrigerator door, or in the oven window. She sees that same dog everywhere! She knows there’s a dog on the other side of that “window” and she wants her to come forward and either fight or play, or else turn around and run away. Floey just doesn’t understand why that dog doesn’t respond to her appropriately.

I’ve re-written some of the words of the song “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” for her.

How mean is that doggie in the mirror?
The one that keeps following me.
How mean is that doggie in the mirror?
I wish that my friend she would be.

I’m a little surprised that Floey hasn’t figured out yet that the dog in the reflection is not going to respond to her. She keeps barking, and watching patiently for a response.

Floey sitting w patio door reflection

As I was thinking about what Floey must be thinking, I also thought about a devotional I wrote last week for a Lenten booklet that our church publishes every year. The Bible passage I was assigned to reflect on was Romans 15:5-6. Although I referred to the New Revised Standard Version in my devotional, I really like the language used in The Message:

May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir – not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!  [Romans 15:5-6 MSG]

woman in mirrorPutting those two thoughts together – Floey barking at her reflection and the Bible telling us to get along with each other – I thought about what my reflection is like, everywhere it’s seen. Do I reflect the image of a person who wants to get along with others so that together we can praise God?

Maybe, like Floey, I should think about that image I keep seeing in the mirror and on other shiny surfaces. What kind of image do I reflect to myself and to others? I decided to write another version of the doggie song for myself.

How kind is that person in the mirror?
The one that I see every day.
How kind is that person in the mirror?
I wish she would take time to play.

I thought a lot about what the last word should be. I debated between play and pray. Maybe I’ll sing the song both ways, depending on the reflection of myself I see that day.

Floey standing w patio door reflection adj

 

A Dramatic First Entry to My Gratitude Jar

Last week I wrote about the special words Mim, Floey, and I chose for 2015. Mim’s word is WAIT. Floey’s is LEARN. And mine is GRATITUDE. More readers responded to that post than usual, and I really appreciated reading your comments.

My Gratitude Jar for 2015

My Gratitude Jar for 2015

One friend asked me if I had ever heard of a “Gratitude Jar?” I hadn’t, but upon her suggestion, I googled the phrase, and learned a lot about it. Basically it’s a jar that you keep in a handy place, along with small scraps of paper and a pen, so that you can easily write down anything that you are particularly grateful for whenever you happen to think about it. Then drop the scrap of paper into the jar. Over the year, you can see the pile of blessings in your life grow higher and higher in the jar. Whenever you’re feeling that “your glass is half empty rather than half full,” you can look at your jar, reread some of the slips of paper, and remember many of the things you’re truly grateful for – the many blessings in your life.

I told Mim that I wanted to start a Gratitude Jar and to keep it on my desk. She found a beautiful blue glass jar for me to use, and the next day she unintentionally provided me with the first item to write on a slip of paper to put into the jar. She had driven me to jail in Madison to play the piano for the women’s worship service. She was planning to shop for groceries while I was in jail. I was thankful that she had dropped me off at the door of the City-County Building. It was a cold (below zero temperatures), snowy, and windy day. I was glad I didn’t have to park several blocks away and walk to the jail. But that’s not what I wrote on the first slip I dropped into my Gratitude Jar.

After Mim dropped me off at the jail, she drove toward the Beltline to go to Woodman’s. The roads were very slick. As she was driving on the John Nolen Drive ramp to get on the Beltline westbound, she hit a slippery spot, lost control of the car, and spun off the ramp onto a steep embankment. She fully expected to roll over. She didn’t. She didn’t hit any other cars, and no other cars hit her. She was okay. The car was okay. She was upright, but stuck. She had her cellphone with her, and called 911. Before the police arrived, a snowplow/sanding truck stopped. The driver came to be sure she was okay. Before he got to the car door he had called the police and a tow truck. Within half an hour of the accident, Mim was safely back on the road. She didn’t go grocery shopping, but instead went to McDonald’s for a cup of coffee. That’s where she waited for me to call her to say I was done playing in jail and ready for her to pick me up.

Mim told me all about the accident when she picked me up from jail. This was only the second time in her life that she had slid into a ditch. The last time she was in college, driving home in a snowstorm in Minnesota – more than 40 years ago.

The first entry in my Gratitude Jar

The first entry in my Gratitude Jar

It’s a scary feeling to lose control of your car, especially when you’re on a steep embankment and you fully expect to roll over. As we talked about how bad the driving conditions were, and how bad the accident could have been, we were so grateful that the only thing that was lost in this accident was about 30 minutes of time and a $150 tow charge, which will probably be reimbursed by AAA.

This is what I wrote on the first scrap of paper I dropped into my Gratitude Jar:

I’m so grateful that Mim was safe when she slid into the ditch at the John Nolen entrance to the Beltline. I’m so thankful for her safety, that there was no damage to the car, and that she was quickly helped to safety.

I sincerely hope that the other slips of paper I drop into my Gratitude Jar are not as dramatic. But I’m certainly glad I’ve chosen GRATITUDE as my word for 2015, and I’m thankful that Roberta told me about having a Gratitude Jar. I think the jar will be stuffed with lots of thoughtful and thankful notes throughout the year. Maybe I’ll share some more with you as the year progresses.

Gratitude Stune - fullness of life

New Words for 2015

After one year’s experience, I’ve decided that I really like the idea of having one special word to focus on for a whole year, as an alternative to making New Year’s resolutions. Last year’s word for me was JOY. Knowing that JOY was what I would concentrate on every day from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 helped me to recognize and appreciate how much JOY is in my life. It was an inspiring year.

Joy Cross and snowy pond

 

For 2015, I’ve chosen the word GRATITUDE. I’m quite excited about what a year focused on gratitude is going to look like. To give myself a preview of some of the things I might think about, I googled the word gratitude. This is some of what I got:

  • Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. (William Arthur Ward)
  • Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. (Melody Beattie)
  • It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude. It’s gratitude that brings us happiness.

Gratitude fall scenery

But I’m jumping ahead. I have a whole year to mull over this word.

Mim chose the word WAIT, with an emphasis on patience while waiting. She’s planning to re-read Holly Whitcomb’s book, Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting to get her started. I googled WAIT for her, as well, and came up with a quote attributed to Corrie ten Boom, “God has perfect timing; never early, never late. It takes a little patience and faith, but it’s worth the wait.”

wait-for-the-lord

 

Floey chose the word LEARN. Although she has already learned a lot in her first 11 months of life, she is determined to become the smartest dog and best four-legged caregiver possible. In addition to her on-the-job training at Country Comforts Assisted Living, she started a formal class last night. Floey, Mim, and I went to “Beginner” class at PetSmart in Madison to work on canine manners. She’s already good at SIT and DOWN, but she needs to learn more about STAY and COME. She also wants to learn leash etiquette. When Floey and I were talking about her word, she quoted Pablo Picasso, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

Learn

With our new words rolling around in our minds, Mim, Floey, and I are charging ahead into 2015. We’ll keep you posted on what impact GRATITUDE, WAIT, and LEARN have in our lives throughout the year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Mim-Floey-Marian 01-06-15

Mim-Floey-Marian in my first selfie.