Saturday, February 26, 2011

Snowy days and big sticks

Something about fresh snow makes Darcy rather frisky...  Many branches 2 or 3 times her size are pounced on, attacked, chewed, and dragged as she zooms through the snow.


Never a dull moment with this furry character.


Happy Saturday!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Colors of Spring

 This morning, I woke up to a thin layer of snow frosting the ground.  Although I do love the snow (but greatly dislike the bitter cold...), I couldn't help but dream of some color....  I absolutely LOVE when the earth comes back to life with the glorious colors of spring.


My daydreams looked a little something like this...

 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Introducing Lady Darcy of Pemberley

Most people probably know that I live with this girl…



But I feel that it is time for her formal introduction.

This is Lady Darcy of Pemberley, my almost two-year-old Scottish Terrier.  Darcy (as I call her) has a whole lot of spunk and a huge personality in that short, long, well-muscled body.  However, if you think she’s spunky now, you probably didn't meet her back when she looked like this….


Or this......

Pretty cute, huh?


Underneath that cute exterior was the rambunctious, nonstop ball of energy that liked to latch onto my hands when teething (the scars have finally disappeared…) and pick up after me by eating anything “out of place" (such as a cell phone… see picture below).... 



Yet, even with all that puppyhood exuberance, I remember saying at the time, "Could I possibly love her any more than I do now?"  I was even slightly fearful that she just wouldn’t be as "lovable" when she grew up to look like this….



I’m happy to say that I was so terribly wrong to even have that fear.  She’s no lap dog, but she has definitely mellowed since puppyhood… Yet, she hasn't lost any of that awesomely fun personality.  She’ll snuggle sometimes, and I treasure it…. Just like I treasure the times she sits in front of me and uses her "I-need-you-to-pay-attention-to-me" bark..

I love so many things about this girl…



I love how she learns tricks super fast, but sometimes thinks that when I have a treat she needs to do her whole repertoire quickly (It usually starts with sit... then down...... then back to sit with a little wave... then "dance" and "speak" to end it.) 


I love that she is very catlike, but in a very dog way (she rubs her body up against all the furniture, and if you put your hand on her head, she will rub her face into your hand... oh, and she "makes biscuits" with her paws, just like a cat.)

I love that she’'s not perfect, but she’'s pretty close to it as far as dogs go.
  
I love how she tilts her head when I say something "curious," and how she seems to know when she is being photographed.



I love how she “flirts” with man and dog alike… and it often works.


I love how she smells (most of the time...), and I think her smell is something similar to vanilla.



I love that people compliment her pretty face…. And I beam as if she is a part of me.  And maybe she is.



I love that she sees me in many ways as God may see me, with an unconditional love.  She reminds me of the beauty of all of God’s creation… When she's imperfect, I'm reminded of how the Fall affected all of creation, not just man…. But when she is as close to perfect as a dog can be, I remember God’s grace and the beauty that He shows us in the simple things… the beauty that draws us closer to Him.  


And isn't it fun to think that Adam and Eve may have had a dog too?

If you've never had a dog in your life, maybe you don't understand why all this fuss about a little fur ball… But I will tell you now that there is something very wonderful about the connection with a nonhuman creature… specifically a dog. 


Belonging to a dog is not always easy, but it is nothing short of an adventure.  

The first meeting.... it was love.
Right before the first "big girl" haircut...
And right after... such a little lady!
Halloween 2010.. A pink unicorn with a princess in the saddle!
P.S.  I can't talk about Darcy without mentioning her "big sister" Danke.  At almost 14 years old, this lady runs the farm back in Mississippi.  I wish she could be with me up north, but she would hate the cold... plus, she's pretty set in her ways.



Monday, February 21, 2011

becoming complete

Wouldn't it be wonderful if my journey towards "becoming Miranda" didn't involve any hardships or trials? What if I only experienced good, happy things in this life?


Part of me would LOVE that... the part that pretends to be content with no personal growth. The part that looks at the fork in the road and decides to follow the well-worn, easy road, even if it's not what God would want.  You know, the sinful part of me.


Then there is this other part of me... The part that wants nothing more than to be close to God.  The part that doesn't care that this means taking the road that is narrow, bumpy, and rarely used.  The patient part of me that rejoices in my growth, despite the bumps in the road... and the part that God rejoices in.  The part of me that most reflects the woman God wants me to be.


Sometimes I'm more one part than the other... and usually there is a conflict between the two.  I guess that makes sense this side of heaven.  Thank goodness for the help, love, and grace of God that guides and nourishes, nurturing me when I am scared to take the more narrow path or when I am fearful in trials.  


I recently heard someone mention the following passage in a sermon, and there is one part in particular that convicted and comforted my aching (yet growing) heart.


"2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything... 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him."  
~James 1:2-4, 12 (NIV)~

Wow... Finishing and persevering through a trial makes me complete?  Isn't it interesting that we tend to search for "completeness" in the good things and the "if only's?"


If only I had a boyfriend.... or a husband...


If only I had a child...


If only he hadn't treated me this way, or she hadn't done this...


If only I had a bigger house or a better job...


Then I would be complete.


Maybe being complete is about growing closer to God.  Maybe, just maybe, completeness is about being torn down and weathered so that God can rebuild your heart.  Maybe....  


I don't think I will ever be completely complete this side of heaven (is it even possible?), but going through the trials and standing strong in my faith, keeping the joy and love of God in my sight, and allowing Him to hold and heal my heart... That will take me one step closer to becoming the person I am meant to be.  And I am finding "pure joy, my brothers and sisters" in that hope.  

 "17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
 ~James 1:17 (NIV)~ 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Friday night fun

Friday night I had yet ANOTHER birthday party... thanks to my fabulous grad school friends!  Anna was kind enough to plan a night of Chicago style pizza, ice skating, and movie fun.  Although we finished supper too late for the ice skating, it was still a grand night with some wonderful people.  Here are some of the pictures...

My friend Nancy also has a February birthday, so we had to celebrate!




The lovely Anna!


Rachel, Nancy, and Julie... three precious people!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Celebration!

Last weekend was such a beautiful time of celebration and fun.  I was blessed to be able to see my biological sister and my Phi Mu sisters perform in Step Sing (a HUGE event at Samford every year).  Phi Mu's show "When Legends Come to Life" was all about video games... and it was amazing!  My girls didn't place, but they had a show worth celebrating!


Pac Man!

I spent some time with this lovely sister of mine before each show (and all weekend for that matter)...


And I was able to see many of my sweet Phi Mu sisters before the shows too!



Saturday morning, we went to the Phi Mu Step Sing brunch (Mom and Mandy were able to come for the weekend too!).



Sisters (x3)!

Sunday morning was a beautiful celebration of this girl, Miss Courtney Kelley, and her life in Christ!  What a blessing to be a witness to her baptism.  I've watched her grow in her walk with Christ over the years, and she is such a light for Him.  I can't wait to watch as God continues to use sweet Courtney and her testimony!

Sunday afternoon, Mom, Lee Ann, and I visited the Botanical Gardens... and I celebrated the fact that I was somewhere without snow... and it was warm enough to be outside!  






After the Botanical Garden adventure, we went out to eat at Jim 'N Nick's Barbeque (I love the cheese biscuits!)... but I thought we were just meeting the lovely Edwards' Family..... 

SURPRISE!!
Some of my favorite people showed up to celebrate my birthday!  





I flew back to Illinois on Monday morning with a very full heart.  I'm not sure that there is anything so wonderful as celebrating life with my friends and family!  What a weekend!