Riley

I love reading about dogs that steal their owners heart. Tom and I look forward every day to the latest #theoandbeau installment on instagram (go look, but be forewarned that you may die from the cuteness), and I loved reading Kristen Howerton’s post about her family’s new dog, and how this little girl is making her a dog person. I realize that dogs are not children, but I love watching people who already have kids get a dog and discover that these faithful companions are way more awesome than they thought.

Gracie will get her own post in the future, and it is no secret to anyone that Gracie is my baby girl, my heart. I didn’t want a second dog, and Tom had to beg me to get Riley. But this boy steals my heart anew every single day, and I can’t imagine the last seven years without him.

This little guy follows me around everywhere I go. Going to the bathroom? Ok, mama, I’ll come with you. Doing some laundry? Ok, mama, I’ll bumble along behind you. Going upstairs for a shower? Ok, mama, I’ll come up and wait on the bed for you until you are done. It does not matter if he is in a deep sleep, the second I begin to move, he is awake and ready to follow.

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He doesn’t like to go outside, because that means being away from me. I usually have to let him out and then go hide around the corner, so he can’t see me. When he is finally convinced that I have left, he decides that he will go ahead and go potty real quick. But it doesn’t take long before he is back at the door, waiting for me.

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He can’t handle any discord in the house. If Tom and I argue, or if we even discuss things heatedly, he heads upstairs, goes through our bedroom, through the bathroom, into the closet, and hides in the corner, sitting on my shoes, hanging his head like Eeyore. It is the most pitiful thing I have ever seen, and we fight a lot less knowing that our little boy is listening.

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But he isn’t always like Eeyore. He is a happy and smiley and wiggly, especially when we are telling him that he is such a good boy. The other day I posted a video on Facebook of me calling Riley in from the snow. I had not realized how many times I say “good boy” a day, but how can you look at this face and NOT say “good boy” over and over and over again?

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When I come home after a long day at work and a long commute home, I know that as soon as he hears my car in the driveway, he is wiggling in celebration. I try to hurry as much as possible to collect my stuff and get out of my car, because this precious little boy is waiting for me, anxious to celebrate my existence for the 1,543,345th time.

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He makes me overwhelmed with gratitude, every day. I don’t know how we would have gotten through any of the difficult events of the past seven years without him. He was just what we needed, and the fact that Jesus chooses a dog like this to bless us tells me a lot about the character of the God we serve. Riley reminds me that the Kingdom of God is full of joy and delight in abundance. And puppies, lots and lots of wiggly puppies.

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NOTE: I shared this post with Tom before publishing it, and while he thought I did an okay job, he did not feel like I had told quite enough stories about how very special this dog is. If you think I love Riley, you should see Tom with his little buddy. I’m fairly certain Tom could write a book about how perfect and wonderful Riley is. I am sorry that I did not capture that as fully as I could, but I did do my best.

Gratitude

In its peculiar way lamenting is an act of faith because it speaks to our understanding that things are not as they should be.

Enumo OkoroSilence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent

I loved this quote from my morning Advent reading, and it fueled the post I wrote on Saturday. It felt good to lament, and I felt freer afterward. It is scary to be vulnerable, but it is scarier to feel alone. I’m thankful for those who hear my laments and respond with care, reminding me that I am surrounded by a loving and believing community.

Another peculiar thing about lament is that it opens you up to gratitude. It’s as if allowing yourself to see and share the darkness in your heart is the only way to notice all the light shining through the crevices.Yes, some things are very, very bad. But other things are good. Admitting that certain things are broken in ways they should not be makes me aware of other things that are good in ways they should not be. It opens me up to see grace.

I think this is why the Psalms so often seem to jump from lament to praise. It is discomforting at times (my friend Brandy expressed this discomfort better than I could). And, like Brandy, I wonder how long it took David to get to that point of praise. Because it doesn’t come quickly for me. It takes a lot of lamenting and staring at the darkness before I can see the brief flickers of light. And sometimes we just don’t get there, and there are Psalms in which David didn’t get there either. But other times, we find that letting out our fears and sorrows allows us to recognize the beauty in the midst of the chaos, the light shining in the darkness.

It is true that I am very often sad and scared these days. But I also have moments in which I am profoundly grateful for all that is around me. I awake from my grief and realize that I am thankful.

…. thankful that I get to be married to my very best friend, who can always find a way to make me laugh.

…. thankful l that I have the cutest dogs in the world. I will never get over how cute and sweet and loving and adorable they are. They make me smile and laugh every day.

…. thankful for my Journey group, filled with women that astound me with their depth and honesty.

…. thankful that I get to go through The Journey curriculum for the third time. It’s the kind of stuff that takes time to sink in, and it’s finally sinking in this year.

…. thankful for friends like Kari who take the time to write about Advent and suggest reading material. I learn so much from her.

…. thankful that my insurance has covered way more of our fertility treatments than I thought it would. It is still expensive, but it could be so much worse.

…. thankful that teaching online through Ivy Tech makes the fertility treatments doable. The extra income means that we can cover the costs each month, instead of having the debt of failed treatments looming over our head.

…. thankful for my coworkers. They make me laugh, and they love coffee and their pets just as much as I do.

…. thankful for running. I used to hate every second of running, even when I did it regularly. Lately, it has made me feel strong and healthy. And it saves me on days when I am most exhausted and sad.

…. thankful for our little town. It is beautiful and clean with delightful shops and the greatest breakfast place EVER.

…. thankful that we finally own a house. We rented for so long, and I thought we would never be able to own a home, but we do.

…. thankful that I’m not afraid of Jesus anymore. I don’t know when it happened, but I finally stopped feeling like he was disappointed in me and started to believe that he is good and caring and gentle. This is kind of huge, because our picture of God affects everything. And my picture of him these days is pretty great.

It all spills over sometimes, just when you thought your cup was empty. Life seeps through the cracks, and grace finds its way in.

What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
John 1:4-5