Thursday, July 12, 2012

Meet the Distraction:

It's time for me to confess a major reason for my late absence on this blog. 

A small object has been consuming a great deal of my thought and time. I haven't really visited y'all at all since obtaining this small thing. 

I don't apologize. I mean....I do....but I don't. It was worth it. I think you'll understand what I mean:  

Now, look at that little face, those tiny paws, and tell me it doesn't melt your heart. :) 

My older sister, Heather, rescued a stray puppy shortly after marrying Eugene two and a half years ago. Dogs grow fast, and back in January, this puppy was no longer a puppy, and was attracting attention from not one but two neighborhood gentlemen. Ahem. :) The same week Heather gave birth to my adorable nephew, Daisy the dog got pregnant by two dogs. (Yes, that CAN happen!) Several weeks later, she gave birth to TWELVE puppies. 

I've wanted a dog of my own for years. At first it was just a little girl saying "I want a puppy, Daddy!" Then I grew older, understood the responsibility (I thought), and recognized it was not the right timing for me to have a dog. I could almost feel God saying "wait." In November 2011, I felt the Lord saying it was okay for me to start thinking about it again, and I spent a lot of time wondering if it would ever be possible for me to have a dog. I've long studied dog-training as a hobby, and I longed to put my research into practical use. Plus, I wanted a companion. I love my family to death, but sometimes it's a bit lonely being the only older girl in the household.

Slight problem. Dad's always had a rule; one dog at a time, and only family dogs allowed. How could my dreams work? Time for prayer. I told God what I desired, but I also understood that my dreams weren't worth dishonoring my dad or disrupting peace in the family. At least, I thought that's how my attitude would be. But I guess I didn't know my own heart. The Lord had to do some open-heart-surgery before things were right between Him and me. Then I went to prayer again.    

Well, through a small set of miracles (are miracles ever small?) both of my parents had a change of heart, and the very week Heather's puppies were old enough to leave their mother, I celebrated my birthday with what might possibly be the best present EVER:  

May 14th, the evening of my birthday. Thanks, Heather!!!! 

 The puppies' mother, Daisy, was a pitbull-terrier mut, and at least half of them 
were sired by what appeared to be a full-bred lab. Not sure what the father of the other ones was!

It wasn't love at first sight. Too many choices - I loved them all!! At first I wasn't sure I'd selected the right puppy. There were two I had narrowed it down to - the two most submissive puppies - and in the end I went with this little fuzzy-headed girl. I noticed she was always the last one out of the dog house, and always stood back respectfully and waited for everyone else to finish before she went for the bowl at feeding time. She was very hyper, but caught onto things quick, and was smarter than some of her siblings. She allowed me to turn her belly-up, like a mother dog would when disciplining her puppies, and she loved to be around humans.

I picked her name even before I brought her home. That took awhile, deciding on a name. It had to be perfect. I knew I wanted a Hebrew word - I just love the sound of Hebrew. And I wanted something reflective of the lessons God was teaching me about my life. My sister Tiffany helped me go through the Hebrew section of the concordance, looking for words like "joy," "peace," "laughter," "gentle,"...and then we came to "friend, or companion."

"How do you say this word?" Tiffany asked.
"Let me see....'Reya.' Like 'ray-a.' What does it mean, again?"
"Friend or companion."
I thought for a minute. "That's it. We've found it. That's perfect. I love it!"

So Reya it was.

It took only two days for me to be overwhelmed by the thought of all that I was responsible for. I had committed to take care of this adorable creature for 12-14 YEARS! And she wasn't perfect. She was scared to go through doors and up or down steps, and had to go to the bathroom 4 times a night, and she thought 5:15am was the perfect time to start the day. And she wouldn't walk on a leash. And she had worms. And vets don't work for free.

But you know what? I loved Reya. Every time I looked at her, my heart swelled with the knowledge that she was mine. Mine alone. She depended on me for everything. Not only did I have to feed her, but teach her how to behave - even when to use the bathroom or sleep. Every time she chose to come lay down beside me and sleep on my feet, my pleasure knew no bounds. I knew she wasn't perfect. I knew she smelled like a dog. I knew she would misbehave before the day was over. But she was mine, and she knew it.

I don't smell the doggie breath. I don't mind that she misbehaves occasionally - though every time I must correct her, it breaks my heart. She can be terribly hyper, and that drives me crazy. I know her flaws, but I also see what I will make her. When I say her name, I know it is my name - the name I chose for her, and put upon her. Her behavior is shaped by my desires - I choose what is acceptable, and what is wrong for her. Her disobedience grieves me deeply, but it does not shock me - I expect it. She is a dog. I knew she would be that way. But I am changing her, ever so slowly. She is not just a dog; she is my dog.

Every little way she shows affection for me brings me more joy than I can describe. She has a little habit of coming close to me and laying her chin on my knee when she is unsure of something. I know her timid personality would naturally tell her to run far away, rather than go to a human for reassurance, but she comes to me, and stays still beside me, rather than running. That means the world to me. When I have a big sewing project, I'll often block off the kitchen doorway, and keep her in there with me while I sew at the kitchen table. I put her dog bed in one corner, and she usually takes a nap there, but never a sewing session goes by when she doesn't leave her bed eventually and come sleep at my feet instead. I want to sit there and cry all over my fabric.

 Remember all that prayer I put into asking for a dog, and seeking God's face in the matter? Part of that prayer was asking God to make me a good dog owner, and asking Him to teach me about Himself through my dog. I asked Him to reveal Himself in a whole new way.

He has. I can't begin to describe it.

I've often struggled with believing the kind of love God has for me. My personality is driven by a desire to people-please, and be perfect. That used to mean doing a lot of camouflaging, so my filth couldn't be seen. I even applied it to my relationship with my Savior. I knew I wasn't saved through works...but I thought I could be loved because of works. To be loved by Someone who has a full knowledge of my flaws and sin.....that wasn't logical to me.

Now it is. Now I understand. O, how great a Saviour I have! O, how He loves me!

Because I'm His. Because He knows my flaws, and chooses not to see them. He sees what He will make me - and what I am in Him, already. He sees His name upon me. 

God showed this to me exactly two years ago, this month. He delivered me from 9 miserable, striving, never-good-enough-to-please-myself, depressing years, in July of 2010.

I thought then I understood.

Then I met Reya. And I didn't just understand.

All of the sudden....

I knew.


The Neely Team said...

Congratulations, Amber Sue!! It serves to remind us of when OUR older sister met her distraction last fall - an adorable black kitten! How fun. :-)

Amanda said...

HOW ABSOLUTELY PRECIOUS!!! Puppies are SO adorable... as are kittens. ;-) Thanks for sharing your analogies, too!