"... And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."
While her mommy was in the hospital, Alice Eloise was off on her own fun adventure, slumber partying it up with Aunt Krista, Uncle Tim, and Cousin Lulu.
But thankfully Alice Eloise and I were reunited at home just in time to celebrate my 23rd birthday! I wasn't feeling up to any wild parties or anything, but I enjoyed a lovely birthday nonetheless. My "needs" have changed a lot in the past few months. Until the end of February my birthday list consisted of nothing but a ton of fabric for sewing. However, an unexpected turn of events (you know, the whole "arm thing") would have made that a rather depressing birthday gift indeed... I was quite the one-handed seamstress, but my no-handed sewing skills are lacking (read: nonexistent). These days I am in need of pajamas and candles instead! And might I add that my family more than took care of these needs on my birthday.
Over the years my mama has observed how my heart gets to pitter-pattering for surprises, though, and she has been known to worry her sweet little mind over finding just the right way to surprise me. What she forgets, however, is that I am also very easy to please. One could easily lose track of how many times I use the word "love" each day. "Oh, I just love...Christmas trees, I just love... Tea parties, I just love... Buddy the elf", and the random love list could go on and on. While I may say the word "love" often, I can assure you that I don't throw it around lightly. But come now, is there really such a thing as too much love? I thought not. Consequently I believe that a loving heart is a happy heart! So one needn't spend much time with me to learn what I like... Or "love," as the case may be. And my mama spends an awful lot of time with me, so she has been known to pull off some highly lovable surprises. When we were little ones, my big sister Krista and I received an American Girl doll for every Christmas, a most treasured tradition that continued until I was around nine years old. If one were to look at our dolls now, it would be easy to guess which dolls belong to Krista and which ones belong to me. Krista's dolls are notably well-kept, with hair impeccably maintained to look almost like new. My dolls, however, might have done a few too many backflips at their imaginary gymnastic meets; the best of them were doomed to a fate of frizzy, tangly hair, and the worst of them were admitted to the doll hospital for a head transplant. Each and every doll survived, though, so what's the harm? I like to believe that this just means they were very "loved". Every year American Girl designs a new doll to carry the esteemed honor of being the "Girl of the Year". Each of these special dolls has her own unique personality sketch, and would you believe it? The Girl of 2014 is a darling blond-haired doll who happens to be a dancer and a seamstress to boot! Sound like anyone we know around here? She even wears her hair in the same style that I do!
So on my 23rd birthday, I was delightfully surprised to become the proud owner of an Isabelle doll!
Don't you just "love" her?!The birthday fun doesn't end here... Everyone's favorite Double Doodle just turned three years old on May 22nd! My goodness, I can scarcely believe that my baby is already three! Sunrise, sunset... Sunrise, sunset... Anyone else a bit misty eyed? Anyone?
The question is how did Alice Eloise go from being this silly puppy...
To this little party animal...
To this service dog in training with a glimmer of mischief twinkling in her eyes...
To this incredible, reliable service dog?!
Aren't I blessed that Alice Eloise has grown to be such a fine young lady? And as such, she more than deserved a special day devoted to nothing but her amazing self. Alice Eloise is the sunshine of my life... I celebrate that little lovey every single day! Between April 17th and May 29th, my family had our springtime holiday season, celebrating Easter, a wedding anniversary, Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, and 4 birthdays within our immediate family alone, 10 birthdays if we are counting cousins! Especially right now it is mind-boggling for me to think about how different my life is in comparison to the life I was living a short 365 days ago. My parent's wedding anniversary falls on Cinco de Mayo, so naturally I initiated a family tradition of throwing an annual fiesta! But this year there was no fiesta. There were no chimichangas. No piñatas. No Ricky Martin. No dancing on the counters. ¡Ay, ay, ay! Livin' la vida boring. Believe me when I say it was mildly tragic. However, there is such a thing as too much fiesta loca, you know. Mother's Day 2013 went down in the record books as "the Mother’s Day when the frog died, Lulu was hit by a car, and we still managed to get a perfectly splendid dinner on the table". This past Mother's Day, however, will forever be remembered (or forgotten), as "the Mother's Day when we didn't do much of anything, and actually really enjoyed it that way". So instead of bemoaning the capabilities and enjoyments of yesteryear that have since been lost, I am appreciating the newfound "loves" that God continually brings into my life. Heaven knows that each day manages to bring its own fair share of craziness anyhow. You know what I'm saying? Don't worry, be happy! Hakuna Matata! But even better than that go-to "problem-free philosophy" are the wise words of Matthew 6:34.
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Let's just delight in the serenity of the moment and admire the captivating flower blossoms from the garden, shall we?
On that most elegant note, I must include a special and heartfelt thank you to my daddy. When I was younger and lacking in wisdom, I typically presented him with flowers to plant for Father's Day, not quite realizing that, in essence, the gift was a source of manual labor for the recipient. Oops. And a few years back a stroke of brilliance allowed me to mastermind a truly inspired gift, a clock adorned with those darling "Mary Poppins" penguins, along with the catchphrase "It's a Jolly Holiday with Larry". Original and functional.With careful consideration I concluded that this year a stepping stone personalized with my master gardener in mind would do quite nicely. The saying "Happiness is Blooming all Around", yet another nod to the lovely cinematic classic "Mary Poppins", couldn't be more appropriate. You see, my papa has planted a majestically beautiful garden just to make me happy! I have found such delight in seeing a rainbow of brightly-colored flowers come to life in my very own oasis. Even my special Charlie Brown Christmas tree that looked positively poorly not so long ago has snapped out of its gloom, and now it couldn't be happier! Mary Who? Only Larry Poppins could build a garden so practically perfect in every way!
Like these practically perfect pink peonies, for instance! Larry Poppins does nice work, but really I must give God the credit for creating such perfect beauty.
For me, viewing my garden is as lovely and idyllic as jumping into an enchanted chalk picture. Should I be surprised, though? It is a jolly holiday with Larry, after all... No wonder that it's Larry that we love! I know, I know... Enough "Mary Poppins" already. Maybe I should stop while I'm ahead, but... I hope that all of my dear friends are enjoying a chim chim cher-ee kind of day! Cheerio!