Keep the Torch Burning: Maury and Karen

Maury and Karen McCown started life together much like Chad and I did.  They fell in love at our little Baptist college, got married, and have had all kinds of different adventures and experiences along the path that God laid out for them.

Maury and Karen

Maury and Karen

Maury and Karen aren’t the types who just talk about ways to show Christ’s love.  In 2008 they founded The Threaded Leaf Project, a non-profit organization that really helps Cambodian women, older students, and children, providing opportunities for education and independence to those who would have little hope for such things otherwise.  Maury and Karen are intimately involved with their ministry, and currently live six months in the US and six months in Cambodia.  They’re passionate about seeing their women and students succeed, and they show them great respect and kindness in the process.

maury2

One month ago, they were right in the middle of a half-year stint in Cambodia, and they seemed thrilled to be back with their Cambodian “family.”  On July 29 they were in a moped accident in which Karen sustained a head injury.  She hasn’t regained consciousness.

Maury was also injured, and they have been in a hospital in Thailand ever since, waiting for Karen to wake up.  It has been a daily roller coaster of good news, bad news, and no news at all.  Recently Maury described some of his feelings:

“I’ve had a few good sobs today here in my room. The kind when all you can do is shake your head back and forth in disbelief like you’re living in some kind of alternate reality or ridiculously realistic nightmare. You start to feel the walls closing in. Everyone and everything is just a little too close or too noisy. I just wanted everyone and everything but me and Karen to vanish for a little while. Let us have each other in silence, in absence of anything. No interruptions. Nothing but us, together and alone.

I wanted to walk into the middle of the room and yell at the top of my lungs for everyone to just BE QUIET for FIVE MINUTES.

But that’s not going to happen.

So I tell her goodnight and come to my room and have another good sob behind my closed and locked bathroom door. Irritated. Confused. Exhausted. Defeated. Tired.”

Maury trusts God’s sovereignty and His purposes.  He believes that God hears his prayers, and later in the same post, he went on to talk about what a good day it ended up being because he knows that God is still fully in control.

But, you can imagine what this must be like for him, watching his precious wife lie there, while he feels powerless to do anything.  We all feel powerless.

But, God is not powerless, nor is He oblivious to Maury and Karen’s situation.  Because I know that many of my readers believe in that power, I am asking you to pray for Maury and Karen.

 Would you join me in asking God to heal Karen’s body, to wake her from this sleep and help her to recover so she can continue in the work that she is so passionate about?

You can keep up with the latest in their story and learn about specific prayer needs by following the Pray for Karen & Maury Facebook page here.

You can learn more about the work they do with the Threaded Leaf Project here and here.

Thank you for your prayers.  Maury’s new rallying cry is “keep the torch burning” for Karen.  Together we can constantly keep her name lifted up, praying that God will work miracles in her life.  To Him be the glory for all things.

maury5

Love Lasts

Originally posted February 8, 2011.

Once there was a boy. He was a tall, super skinny, long haired, brilliant rock star poet. He was passionate about everything.

Once there was a girl. She was the sheltered, sweet, quiet small town type. She was cautious about everything.

One day the passionate boy convinced the cautious girl to be brave. He taught her how to love.

Soon the boy and girl were married. They were set to conquer the world.

wedding

The boy gave up his long hair and provided for his family. The girl grew to love him even more.

The girl gave up her teenaged figure and gave him children. The boy grew to love her even more.

As the years passed, things happened to the boy and girl. They fought, they made up, they grew in mind and spirit, they learned that life is hard and life is wonderful, they welcomed babies and cried over babies lost.

The boy and girl learned that life goes fast, that teething babies and graduations and accidents and intentions are all just flashes, dreams that grow a little blurry with time. And they determined that they would love every moment.

Sometimes, if you drive past their tiny house at night, you can see the passionate boy and the cautious girl dancing with their children. They are happy. Love lasts, they say. And it does.

wedding2

Slow Growing

The two older kids started school this week, and Emerald has not been too happy about it.  Sure, she gets to rule the TV and watch nothing but Mickey Mouse if she wants, but in her heart I think she would much rather be getting up early, getting dressed in new clothes, and heading out the door to an adventure at school.

For awhile she was in denial that the kids were gone.  She was asking if Sawyer was in his room.  When I said no, that he was at school, she kept saying, “No!  He in he’s room!”

And, tonight when I put her to bed, I was telling her all about what we’re going to do tomorrow, but she just kept saying, “I go to school tomorrow, okay?”

And, I can sort of understand how she feels.  Not that I want to go to school tomorrow (please, never again), but I know how it feels to want to do things that I’m really not ready to do.  I know how it feels to want to skip steps in a process (especially the difficult ones).  I know what it feels like to want to fast forward to the wiser, more discerning, more spiritual version of myself that I pray that I will grow into in the coming years.

But, growing up isn’t an easy business.  It isn’t when you’re too little to go to school but too big for a pacifier.  Just ask Emerald.  The truth is that she has a lot to learn, a lot to deal with and go through before she finally becomes a kindergartner.  She has to potty train, to learn all her letters and numbers and colors and shapes.  She has to learn how to handle frustration and disappointment without throwing tantrums.  She has to learn how to say more words, how to communicate better with people, how to interact socially, and lots of other things.  Some of these things will be easy for her to learn, and others will be struggles.  Some things will require discipline.  And, in all of these things, she is depending on me, her daddy, and her brother and sister to help her grow and learn.

DSC_0029

I feel every growing pain along with her, just like I do with Sawyer and Adelade.  And, I want nothing more than to see all of them grow, even when it hurts a little bit.

Meanwhile, I’m going through similar growing pains.  I may know my letters and numbers, but I struggle to know when to speak and when to stay quiet.  I wonder what is the best way to love people.  I can’t ever seem to get my thoughts in the proper order.  I constantly fight my own pride.  I love the applause of the world too much.  And, with each mistake, with each painful misstep and every wrong motive and all of the ways that I don’t trust Him with my life, He gently leads me forward, wanting to see me grow.

I know He is working.  It isn’t always pleasant to be a work in progress.  And, there is no fast forwarding through the tough parts.

God is a father.  And, in some ways, He is like a Mama who feels every growing pain in her children.  He loves us enough to keep working at it because He wants to see us grow.

And, He is no stranger to pain.

So, when we feel the wringing out of our faith, when we are squeezed and prodded and torn down and rebuilt, when we are taking one tiny baby step after another, we can trust that God is making us more like Him.  However slow and painful the process, the God who sacrificed everything for love and mercy and forgiveness is sticking with us, is using us, and is teaching us more about His promises each and every day.

So, I say this to you, to myself, and to Emerald Darling, my youngest and wildest:  hang in there, baby.  Growing is slow.  But, it’s worth it.

Okay, The Losing Stops Here

Way back in college I spent a year posing as a Resident Assistant in the dorm.  Yes, I was that girl at the end of the hall who shushed everyone and tried to keep boys out of girls’ rooms. (It was a Baptist college, y’all. Boys could visit on Sunday afternoons, and no one was allowed to remove their shoes during a visit.  True story.)

So, here I was, Little Miss Responsible.  And, one day I left my keys (you know, the important ones that opened all the buildings and stuff) on my lunch tray as I threw my leftovers away.  After a frantic search and finally resolving that I would never see those keys again, I tearfully entered my boss’s office and admitted my mistake.

I’d like to tell you that I learned my lesson and I never lost things again.  But, that would be a funny joke.  Because I’m a loser.  I mean, really. I lose stuff all the time.  Keys are basically my arch-enemy.  I have been late many times because I couldn’t find my keys.  Also purses.  And jackets.  And even shoes.

And, my poor husband.  He is just as bad.  Wallets.  Oh yes.  More than one.  Keys.  Papers of all kinds.

So, you can imagine that I have a pretty serious concern that my children will be losers, too.  That’s why I was so happy when Kidecals offered to send me some of their waterproof name labels to try out!  Because, we all know that if any family needs a little helps keeping up with stuff, it’s the Edgingtons.

I went to their website and had a really hard time choosing between all of the adorable designs.  But, I managed!  First of all, let me say I’m a sucker for cute packaging.  This is a cheery little package to find in your mailbox.

DSC_0042
I chose to get some labels with Emerald’s name.  How cute are these princess silhouettes?  They stick to any clean surface, even fabric!

DSC_0043

Instant personalization! (And, stop noticing that the diaper bag’s dirty! Stop!)

The company claims that the labels are waterproof.  Not only that, they say that you can put these labels in the dishwasher, the washer, and the dryer.  And, you know I felt like I had to test out their claims, even though I was really dreading telling you that the labels come off in the dishwasher and the washing machine, especially after the company had been nice enough to send me free labels.

I labeled her cup and her jacket, both high risk items for losing in the Edgington house.  I washed her cup in the dishwasher on the extra hot setting, and I washed and dried her jacket in my machines.  And, guess what?  Both labels came out looking like new.  Even on fabric!

DSC_0038

DSC_0035
Basically, I’m beginning to feel like this could be the end of the losing for the Edgingtons.  Or, at least when we do lose something, it will be clearly (and adorably) marked as ours so that the responsible people of the world can return it to us.

And, in case you’re worried about price, Kidecals is offering special pricing for parents with more than one child!  Because, hey, the more people you add to the craziness, the more losing happens!  Use these coupon codes to save lots-o-money:

2 children: doubles2014 = 15% off $25 or more
3 children: threes2014 = 20% off $50 or more
4 children: fours2014 = 25% off $75 or more
5 children: fives 2014 = 30% off $100 or more
6 children: sixes2014 = 35% off $125 or more
7 children: sevens2014 = 40% off $150 or more

Also, just so you know, their website has lots of other stuff that’s fun and useful, too, including allergy labels for school and really cute canning labels!

As for the Edgingtons, the last time Chad lost his wallet, I think it fell out of his pocket at a movie theater.  I remember the year he left his keys at summer camp.  And, just the other day an employee at the fabric store chased me down after I walked away and left my purse by the pattern books.  Our poor kids don’t stand a chance.  But, hey, at least they’re cute! And they have cute labels for their stuff.  That’s got to count for something.
***
This is a sponsored post.  I was provided with free product to try so I could give you my honest opinion about it.  

 

Finding God in the Quiet

Emerald has started a new stalling technique at bedtime.  After I put her in bed, she starts calling out all kinds of requests, asking me to get her a drink, to “fix” her blanket, and so on.  I generally go in there twice to try and resolve her issues, each time telling her that she needs to be quiet because the kids are trying to sleep.

She whispers that she will be quiet now, and when I tell her I love her, she says, “I lub bofe of dem,” which I think is supposed to mean that she loves both Chad and me.

Once she is fairly sure that I’m not coming back into the room, she’ll start yelling, “I be quiet now!”  And, Chad and I just look at each other and shake our heads.  There is just something cute about her loudly informing us that she is going to try to be quiet.

Tonight when this happened I thought about how often I am the same way with God.  I have no trouble at all coming up with  requests for Him.  And, even when I know I need to be quiet and just listen to what the Holy Spirit would guide me to do and be,  I still find myself  making a racket that makes it impossible to listen.  I may as well be a toddler who’s hollering, “Ok, God, I be quiet now!”

I want to learn to be still, to really be quiet instead of just talking about how I need to be quiet.  Who knows what He has said while I have been enthralled by the sound of my own voice?

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  1 Kings 19:11-12

A New Beautiful

I have a pretty piece of furniture in my living room.  I remember when Chad and I bought it.  We had been married for a year, and our wedding china was still in boxes.  We were completely broke, but I decided I wanted a china cabinet to show off all of my beautiful dishes.  Chad determined that he would find one for $50.  I laughed in his face.

But, later that afternoon, we ran across one at a garage sale.  It was marked $75, but as soon as they saw us looking at it, the owners ran over and asked if we would take it for $50.  Sold.

We brought it home, and for fourteen years now it has housed all kind of pretty finds, family crystal, and some of my favorite little things to look at.

DSC_0001

Recently, I painted it green, and I love it even more.  In a home with three kids, this piece of furniture with all its breakable goodies is one thing in this place that is all me, all things kids can’t touch, all prettiness and girliness and greatness.

The other day I was walking past it when I noticed something was a little out of place.  I saw colors that weren’t right.  I saw sharp plastic edges in the middle of a world of delicate glass and lace.  I looked a little closer.

DSC_0010

One of my sweet little candy dishes had somehow become a storage space for Legos.  I laughed to see them in there, grey and red man-world toys tucked carefully inside a crystal bowl.  I laughed and I thought about how I was going to have to dig those little pieces out of there, since they just don’t belong in this beautiful space that I had created.

And every day since, I have walked past those Legos, and every day I leave them there.

I remember what life was like back then, back when Chad and I were searching for our $50 china cabinet.  We were happy.  Our world was clean and neat.  We went where we wanted.  We stayed out late.  We spent our money on movies and dinners and clothes and fun.  Our house was company ready.  Our hair was good.  We made plans, and the plans came to fruition.  We were care-free back in those days.

Our life was pretty, kind like a little green china cabinet.  It was filled with neat things that we enjoyed.  It was orderly and attractive and probably fairly enviable.

Then one day, we found out that we were going to have a baby.

She burst into our world like a tiny tidal wave.  Everything that filled our lives before was rearranged and pushed around by the tide of parenthood.

Twice more the waves came over us.  Two more babies.  Sometimes we paddled enough to keep our heads above water.  Other times we were tossed around like seaweed in the surf.

But, as each wave hit, we could see more clearly that what we thought was perfect before was actually missing a little more chaos, a little more laughter, a little more dependence on God.  With each child born, we got a little more of all of it.

Our pretty and ordered life stopped looking perfect.  And, it was more beautiful than ever.

Maybe that’s why I can’t bring myself to dump the ugly little Legos out of my pretty dish.  Because despite the fact that they are grey and boyish and sharp and out of place, they remind me what a privilege, what a grace and a mercy that it is that I am a mama.  That I have a messy house and a pile of laundry that would shock you and a million reasons to smile every single day.  They remind me that perfection isn’t equal to beauty.  But, maybe a handful of Legos in a fancy dish is.

Tomorrow I’ll send my first two babies back to school.  The goodbye is always a heartache.   They will bounce out of here with excited grins and new backpacks, and they’ll come home bubbling with stories of an amazing day.  I will establish a new routine.  I will be just fine.

Life with kids is filled with hellos and goodbyes.  It is imperfect.  It is beautiful.  And, it goes on.

Sometimes too slowly.  Sometimes, like tonight, way too fast.

And, when I send them out the door tomorrow, maybe I will walk over to my china cabinet and lift the delicate little lid on that certain crystal bowl.  And then, through the tears, I will smile.  Because somehow those ugly little Legos are a beautiful reminder of just how amazing this life is.

These three little children’s lives are washing right over us.  And, we will swim.  Tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that.

And, someday, when I’m eighty and my feet are firmly planted on dry ground once again, I’ll bet you wouldn’t be surprised to see an old green china cabinet in a corner someplace, still holding the little crystal dish filled with Legos.  And, even then, I’ll bet it will make me smile.

The Un-Cute Truth of a Lasting Faith

Tonight I’m reposting this article in honor of the precious lady that it features.  Today she learned the true worth of her enduring faith when she stood face to face with her Lord and Master.  I have no doubt that on this very day she heard the words”Well done” fall from the lips of her Savior.  

~~~

A couple of weeks ago, Chad and I went to the nursing home to sing to a couple of residents who are members of our church.  We took Emerald with us.  The sweet people who live there always seem to enjoy seeing her little pigtails come bouncing down the hall.  Chad took his guitar, and we sang some old hymns and asked how they were doing and if they needed anything.  Both of the ladies we were visiting told us that they couldn’t think of a thing that they need.

Every time I go there I walk out with a fresh perspective.

I leave thinking about how this, right here, in places where people must live when their bodies are old and broken, this is where a true faith is lived out.  This is where illness and pain and physical and mental weakness will try to steal joy and strip Christian people of their confidence in God’s plan and in His goodness.  Yet, here they were.  Two women, bound for glory, living a day by day faith that says I trust God.

One of the residents we played for is having problems swallowing because of a chronic illness.  Her speech is just about gone, thanks to her throat problems.  Yet, we sang old hymns of her faith, and she tried to sing along, her tired voice cut off here and there by her choking.  Still, she smiled.  Still, she let herself be soothed by the sounds that reminded her of her good God.  Still, she believes.

And, I wondered about her life.  I wondered how many tragedies she has faced in her years on Earth.  I wondered if she knew she was strong enough to live out one last hardship.  The one that will take her life.  The one that has her choking in a chair in a nursing home someplace.  Yet, even as I wondered I knew that God has provided her with the faith to endure.  And I knew that she is holding onto His promises because He has proven Himself again and again in her long life.  How could I doubt Him now? she would probably say.

And that’s how every time I leave that place, I leave with a stronger faith.

I have never understood why young people tend to call senior adults “cute.”  It’s an insult to their endurance.  I don’t believe in calling a man who was once a military hero or a woman who was once a young and robust mother “cute.”  I don’t know why we feel that just because they have grey hair and witty things to say and they are stooped or slow moving or wrinkled that we are qualified to reduce them to the status of a baby or a kitten.  The older Christians that we encounter are often showing us how to run the faith race to the very last mile, and all we can do is patronize them.

Go to a nursing home sometime and see where the rubber really meets the road in the Christian life.  I guarantee you’ll have a new appreciation for all of the “cute” seniors in your life.  I pray that they never question their purpose here in their last days.  And, I pray that when we get there we won’t either.  Because I have seen God glorified in the simple smile of a choking woman who sings His praises.  He is still working there.  We can have faith that He will work in her life until her dying breath

When We Need More Yes

Today the kids and I went to a fabric store so that I could buy what I need to make Emerald a cheerleading outfit.  When you live in small town Texas, where football rules the fall, it’s pretty much a prerequisite of the season that all little girls must have cheer suits to wear to the games.

I wandered around the store for quite some time after finding the pattern, painstakingly trying to determine what I needed to buy.  I checked and double checked the materials and sizes.  I tried to figure out why I would need this or that and whether this fabric or that one was right.  Finally, I just bought a bunch of stuff and brought it home, with no real notion of exactly how I am going to craft this outfit.

Don’t worry, I’ve done this before.  I have a tendency to try to sew things that are way beyond my skill set.  Last Halloween, I put my mediocre sewing skills to the test when I made this Colonial times dress for Adelade to wear:

halloween

To this day I have no clue how I managed to make that dress, with my lack of sewing knowledge or ability.  But, somehow it happened.  And, I’m really hoping it will happen again with this cheerleading outfit.

When I’m in the fabric store buying stuff for these projects, I am preparing to undertake something that I actually know very little about.  But, that doesn’t stop me from buying the materials and diving right in.  I wish I could learn to be more like that in the Christian life.  In ministry.  I wish I would just say yes, even when I have no clue how it’s actually going to get done, when I don’t feel that I have the skills or the knowledge to make it happen.

Because when we say yes to something that we don’t feel like we have the ability to do, then what we are really saying is, “Yes, God, I need you to do this.  I need you to shine here because I am about as mediocre as they come.”  And maybe, if we tried saying yes when we are feeling less than capable, we would find out that God is quite a tailor, sewing straight seams to hide our crooked ones, quick and creative, patient and capable.  When He lives inside of us, the truth is that He makes us able where we were weak.

More than a tailor, with each stitch He heals us.  He makes something beautiful.  And, He guides our hands to craft beauty, too.

Maybe I need more yes.

Each yes that is clothed in humility and weakness is a yes that is destined for a brand new outfit created by the Savior.  A beautiful transformation from I-can’t-do-this to Look-what-God-did.

I hope next week when I get Emerald’s cheerleading suit started, I will find out that I really did buy what was needed and that I really can figure out how to put it all together.  But, if somehow I don’t, I’m thinking a Colonial times dress would be a neat twist on football game attire.

When You Feel Defeated

Sometimes when I consider how very weak I am, I get discouraged.  I think about how far I have to go, how little willpower I possess, how easily I fall or get hung up or lose my balance.  I look at where I want to go, and it seems like the finish line is worlds away, and while I should be running I seem to be limping along.  Meanwhile, other people are trotting right past me.  They seem to be having an easy time of it.  While I, weak, weary, wheezing under the weight of my own weakness, am barely getting by.

Today was one of those days.  I was thinking of things I said that I wish I hadn’t.  I was remembering ways that I acted in sight of my nine year old that were certainly not gracious or godly.  I was wondering if I will ever see some sign that I am growing to become more like Christ, since I seem to be continually showing the world that I am nothing like Him at all.

I dwelled on those thoughts all morning long.  Then we went to visit a church member and friend who is currently living in a rehab facility, trying to regain his strength after a major surgery.  A matter of days ago he was unable to get out of bed at all, but today he is moving around with the help of a walker and exercising with weights and machines.  I asked if he feels like he’s getting stronger.  He said he is still really weak.  But, he told us that when he looks back three days ago and considers how weak he was then, he can see that he is making progress.

He seemed to be in good spirits, and I could tell he felt determined to reach the point where his therapists will decide he is ready to go home to his sweet wife.  He certainly wasn’t running up and down the hallways, but he was up and moving during the day.  He might easily have been discouraged if he were looking at how far he has to go before he will reach his goal, but instead he was choosing to look at how far he has come.

Maybe this is a key to living the Christian life with a sense of joy and victory instead of dread and defeat.  Maybe instead of dwelling on how far from perfect we are, we should take a look at how far we’ve come in the past year.  Maybe we should focus on how much our attitude has improved, or how God has revealed an area of sin to us that we are working to eliminate from our lives.  Maybe we should consider how much God’s grace has helped to dig us out of various pits that we once lived in, how His mercy has set us on a solid foundation, and how His Spirit living in us has begun to build something amazing, despite our shortcomings and our failures.

Maybe instead of focusing on how far we feel from arriving as Christians, we should dwell on how far He has brought us from what we once were.

After all, planting ourselves in doubt and pessimism is really saying to God that we don’t believe that He can take even the most hardened sinner and transform her into the image of Christ.  When we feel tempted to wallow in our fear that we will never change, we must stop and remember all of the miracles that God has worked inside us so far.  Sure, we still mess up a lot and let our selfishness and pride and meanness get in the way of our progress, but we cannot deny that God is at work in us.  It’s so obvious when we look at where we were just a short time ago.

Do you see it?  Don’t miss what God has done.

He is working.  In my life, in yours, and in a rehab hospital in West Texas.  I pray that we will remember where we want to go without ever forgetting where we’ve been.  In the looking back, we can so clearly see what God can do.  He never stops working on us.  And, we must never stop believing that He can keep us moving in the right direction all the way up until it’s time to go home.

We may wobble and sway, but our weakness is like a spotlight on His strength.   We mess up, but He doesn’t.  We fall, He catches us. We agonize, He is peace.  We cry because we are so weak, He wipes away every tear with His strong hand.  There is no way to make Him less.  But, when we look back on all He has done, we can show the world how much more He is than they even know.  See where you’ve been.

See what He’s done.

Google Search of the Week: How to Get Your Mom and Dad to Say Yes to a Hermit Crab

WordPress and Google work together to show me which Google searches lead people to my blog.  I thought it would be fun to dig through some of the search terms that brought people here and explore some answers to their questions.   

For the kid reader who found my blog by googling “How to get your mom and dad to say yes to a hermit crab”:  I have a simple three step plan for you to get a beloved (stinky) little crab into your room as soon as possible.

Hermit_Crab

Step #1:  Ask for a dog.

When you ask for a dog, your mom’s first reaction will probably be laughter.  She will make comments, some out loud and some under her breath, about how the last thing she needs is another being to take care of.  When you insist you will feed and clean up after the dog, the laughter may get louder.  She may make comments about the fact that you can’t seem to manage to pick up your underwear and therefore would probably not make a good dog owner.

A few days to a few weeks after you have asked for a dog, you may notice your mother beginning to soften toward the idea, since she will be lying in her bed every night thinking that maybe she is causing irreparable damage by not allowing you to get a dog.  She will wonder if it’s true that every child needs a dog, and she will wonder if she’s going to come up in future therapy sessions for not allowing you to get one.

Step #2:  Ask for a horse.

After a few weeks’ worth of the dog discussion have passed, it’s time to make a move and ask for a horse.  Tell your mother that a horse would make a great companion.  Google horse pictures and show her which colors you like the best.  Start using terminology like “saddle,” “bridle,” “reins,” and “bucket of oats.”  Discuss the best place in your yard for building a barn.

You may see your mother beginning to try to direct you back to the dog, even though just a few weeks ago she was opposed to getting one.

Step #3:  Ask for a hermit crab.

Just about the time your mother seems poised and ready to buy the dog that she doesn’t want or need, ask for a hermit crab.  She will be so overjoyed that she doesn’t have to buy the fuzzy, barky mess maker at this point in her life that she will gladly run to the pet store and buy you the hermit crab of your dreams.

She won’t even mind if he is a little stinky.