Mad Max, Bad Elsa

Our puppy drives me crazy.

He nips when I want him to sit. He jumps when I want him to lie down. He eats paperback books for lunch and toilet paper rolls for dinner.

We’ve done what we can.

Strategically placed puppy control

We’ve placed spray bottles in strategic locations around the house. We’ve watched YouTube videos on dog obedience.

“Sit, Ubu, sit!”

I read one website that said Australian Shepherds need a job to do in order to feel happy and fulfilled.

I made him do the dishes.

He hated it.

Nothing has worked…

Except relentless, unending exercise.

That's Mad Max, straining to come nip my toes

Brian and I have gone on multiple 14 mile hikes since we became puppy owners.

On those evenings, when Max is totally wiped out after a long hike, he is darn near close to lovable.

But every other day, I’ve had bad thoughts and terrible fantasies:

Pack him up and send him to Australia with the words “You may have cute accents, but you make bad dogs.”

Or catch the ice cream truck that goes by every afternoon and barter him in exchange for a Bomb Pop.

Then this morning, I took Max on a walk. It was five a.m. and he was already driving me bonkers. I plugged in my i-pod, put on some worship tunes and walked down the street, asking God’s forgiveness for my propensity for puppy cruelty.

Max pulled on his leash.

Chased a moth into the street.

Peed on a recently planted bed of flowers.

I walked him hard. Walked him fast. The sun started cresting over the horizon. Worship music blared in my ears. And then, just over the trees, came a hot air balloon.

Deep sigh...

It was beautiful. It caught my breath.

I found my whole body relaxing, and a smile cracked through the grump lines.

I knew I wouldn’t be out here if it weren’t for Max.

I knew I wouldn’t have the exercise or the beauty or the worship…

I bent down and scratched him behind his ears.

Silly Max. God knew what He was doing when He put you in my world after all.

I can worship… but I got no rhythm

I was the only white girl.

And I loved it.

I just spent the weekend with some amazing ladies from a small and vibrant church in Dallas. Yesterday we spent the day together for a conference and today they invited me to speak in their church service.

They placed me front and center.

I’m not talking about the front row, I mean they graciously escorted me up to the pastor’s seat. I was full-on facing the lovely congregation. And they were facing me.

Oh my.

The choir stood behind me and began belting out such beautiful music that when I closed my eyes, it felt like heaven. Their worship was so clear and pure, strong and vibrant. The congregation joined in with enthusiasm.

Then they started moving and clapping to the beat.

I bobbed my head, tapped my foot and slapped my thigh.

Then again. Head. Foot. Thigh.

I know they were focused on Jesus, but I have to wonder if they weren’t secretly watching the white girl working on her rhythm.

God bless them, they didn’t laugh out loud.

After the service, we gathered together for a meal. I looked around that fellowship hall and took in the beauty. Older ladies in their hats, laughing together. The pastor, sleeves rolled up, serving meals to the women.  Little ones running around, knowing they could find a resting place on any lap they roamed past.

Sitting there with them was definitely a taste of heaven.

I can’t believe I get to do what I do.

My heart is full.

Lions, cows and old people – oh my!

Ever since I was itty bitty, people have offered their thoughts on my name.

“Elsa? Like the lion in Born Free? You little lioness, you.”

Ummm…. thanks?

“Your name is Elsa? Did your parents name you after Elsie the Cow?”

Yes. Underneath their kind exteriors, they were cruel, cruel people.

“Elsa? Wow, you’re so young. I pictured an ‘Elsa’ to be like, 90 years old.”

 I’m 92. It’s called Oil of Olay.

My maiden name also caused a whole set of issues: Kok. Some elementary and middle school kids were painfully creative with that one.

Then God introduced me to the man of my dreams. I love the family behind the name, but God could have made it easy and birthed the whole slew of them with the last name of  “Smith” or “Jones” or plain ol’ “Black.” But no, the love of my life bears the name “Colopy.” At a speaking engagement one time, a gentleman who was about to introduce me said, “I know! I have a great way to remember your name. It’s like ‘colonoscopy,’ only shorter.”


To add to the confusion, I now use all three names. Since I’m crazy about my man, proud of the folks who gave birth to me and I have stuff written under my maiden and married name, I decided to keep it all in one big long confusing mess: Elsa Kok Colopy.

I might as well be talking Swahili.

It’s even harder these days. Now that I’m in the midst of book writing and marketing, I think of my name even more. It’s not an easy name to remember, like Joyce Meyer or Beth Moore. Nor is it super catchy and cool like JK Rowling or Agatha Christie.

I’ve been told that names matter. If I want to know true success, I need to be a household name…. right?

I decided to sift through some of the famous names littered in my brain: Madonna, Obama, Simon Cowell, George Bush, Lady GaGa, Lindsey Lohan, Tim Tebow (Uh, yeah. No evaluating my mental stability based on that list). The reality is that it’s easy to come up with a long list of names covering singers, politicians, movie stars and sports champions.

Some of those people I like, others I just know. But here’s the kicker:  knowing their name doesn’t change me. I’m not a smidge different as a result.

Other names come to mind too, but these names have warm fuzzies attached: Kitty, Piet, Carol, Enno, Rob, Laura, John, Wendy, Esther, Jennifer, Donna, Sandy, Jeff, Gretchen… these are the names of people who changed me, who loved me when I was little, loved me when I was broken, loved me through pain and hardship and stupidity.

Their names may not be plastered all over CNN or Time Magazine, but they’re engraved deeply in my heart.

So I ask the question of myself—as a writer and speaker who has recently been consumed with the marketing of my new book, and my excruciatingly long name—how do I want to be known? By my name in lights? A million hits on YouTube? Via Twitter or Facebook or the Best Seller’s list?

Or do I want my name engraved on someone’s heart?

Not that they’re mutually exclusive. Yes, I’ll tweet and Facebook and do my best to honor God with hard work regarding my book—but I continue to pray that my motivation will rest solely in loving people deeply through all that I do – in the way I have been loved.

It all makes me rather thankful for a name that’s hard to remember. If people forget my name or mangle it into a nasty medical procedure, it’s all good. As long as my speaking, writing or living leave an impression that points them to Jesus—and they engrave his name on their hearts.

Yup, that’s it. That’s good enough for me.