Go First to God… or How a Chihuahua from SoCal Stole Our Hearts

Last November, I got a FaceTime call from my son who was attending college in California. He and his friends had just picked up a piece of furniture that one of them had bought online. As the music played and the friends drove, he was calling to introduce me to his new dog. What?!

When his friends picked up the piece of furniture, the seller mentioned, “I also have this dog if you know anyone who wants it.” And my son had readily agreed: “I’ll take her.”

Despite my appeals for him to take the dog back—”you have no idea what it will involve, the cost, the care, etc.”—it became clear she was a new member of the family.

“Missy” came for her first visit over Christmas break and met her new family.

We took her to a local veterinary practice that offered a free first visit. In reviewing her records from the previous owner, we discovered Missy was 10 and a half years old! We updated her rabies shot, and he examined a knot that we had noticed. It was a tumor that he recommended removing. Perhaps the pieces were coming together for why the former owner no longer wanted her! We scheduled surgery for January 3, hoping this would give her enough recovery time so that my son would still be able to take her back after the long Christmas break.

The evening of December 29, I had gone out to get some dinner for the family. In my drive to the restaurant and back, I was feeling a little overwhelmed by everything. I had also recently learned I needed two hopefully minor surgeries, the first of which was scheduled for January 8. Now the dog and I would have surgery the same week. You know how those winter months are when it gets dark outside early, it’s cold, and you can easily feel down? Here I was, now attached to this darling dog, yet feeling stressed and wondering how all this had happened!

As I drove to the restaurant, I was so close to calling my mom to pour out my emotions about it all! But I sensed, “Go first to God.” It’s so easy to want to tell a friend or family member what we’re going through, and there’s a time for that, but I needed this reminder of better first to talk to God.

So I prayed as I drove. I emptied it all out to the Lord. What was the point of it all? What were we looking at with this dog post-surgery? Why the dog to begin with? And was it worth our time and money? Did God care about even our pets? And as I prayed, I had this thought of how God rescues us, and we had been able to rescue this dog. I reflected, prayed, and then pulled into the drive-through.

While I was in the drive through, K-LOVE was on the radio. They came to their encouraging story, where a listener shares his story. This man told about how his beloved dog had been killed. He was sad and wanted a new one. He could have gone anywhere and bought a new puppy, but he decided to go instead to a shelter to rescue a dog. It was a chihuahua, an older one! He said all the little dog could offer him were four bad knees and a heart murmur! But to him, it was a picture of how God had rescued him, not based on who he was or what he had done, but God had counted him worth the cost and loved and rescued him.

Wow! I had asked God about our little chihuahua, prayed, pictured rescue, and then heard this very story! Had I called my mom, I would have turned down the radio and never heard it! I came home and read some in the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn to see his thoughts on pets. It was encouraging to me that God does care and this does matter. When Scripture says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” does this somehow include not even us, but all living things?

So Missy had her surgery. It was cancer, but it was contained, with only about a 25% chance of it returning. She healed and went back to California.

Missy got to visit again in March for our son’s spring break, only to get back to California, and have to return a week later when coronavirus forced everything online. And now she’s been here since March. Though she is my son’s dog, she is truly part of the family. She has been such a sweet blessing and joy to us all and so fun to enjoy together, especially during these months of isolation, working from home, going through surgeries… We all love her!

I’ve tried to learn then this important lesson of taking things to God first! We may not always get so clear an answer, but as we praise Him, seek Him, and ask Him, we may be surprised at the peace He is ready to supply. He can perfectly order our steps and arrange an encounter—through His Word, through prayer, and through His Holy Spirit—that will answer us, such that when we go to our friends or family, we might actually have a story of praise instead of despair!

Sovereign God

I wrote this 12 years ago and refer back to it every four years!

  • I’m thankful for a Sovereign God who is seated on the throne in the heavens and whose kingdom rules over all (Psalm 103:19).
  • I’m thankful to know that He alone raises up and brings down leaders and rulers (Daniel 2:21).
  • I’m thankful that He alone is great and worthy of all praise (Psalm 145:3), worthy as the Lamb who was slain to receive all power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise (Rev. 5:12).
  • I’m thankful that He sets my feet on the Rock (Psalm 40:2) and keeps me secure.
  • In Him, I have complete confidence and hope, and I have no cause for fear.
  • He is my Rock, fortress, deliverer, strength, salvation, and shield (2 Samuel 22; Psalm 18).
  • He will not forsake those who trust in Him (Psalm 9:10).

I’m thankful that the Lord knows the outcome of tomorrow. He knows the beginning from the end, and He is not surprised. May His good and perfect will be done. Tonight is a good night to worship and praise Him!

In the Storms

On Monday, August 10, at 3:15 p.m., my mom called and told me a storm was coming with at least 80mph winds. She always pays attention to the weather. I, on the other hand, had no idea. I had been sitting quietly on my sofa doing some work from home that afternoon.

I hung up to call my daughter who had just left to go meet a friend at Starbucks. She didn’t answer, so I called my husband who had been taking the other car for an oil change as I prepared to travel later that week. He was walking the mile back from the shop, having left the car to pick up later. Thankfully, as he neared home, he saw my daughter driving and told her to turn around.

At 3:27 p.m., emergency alerts for a tornado warning came through all of our phones.

Sirens started going off. My daughter and I went and sat in our cellar until things were clear. The storm never seemed bad from where we were, but we would later learn that at 3:35 p.m., an EF-1 tornado hit our church four blocks away, toppling the steeple and leaving it on its side, and continued onto the front lawn of the college across the street. There was other damage to the roof and trees, but the image of the steeple was most shocking.

College Church August 10, 2020

The next day, we would read the official report:

I was familiar with a derecho because one hit Memphis, where I grew up, in July 2003, in the early morning. My mom and step-dad couldn’t get out of the back of their house due to the downed trees, and they were without power for 15 days. The damage was incredible, with massive trees uprooted around town. It was likely much more similar to what we are seeing in Iowa now, as they still recover from this. Though it seems to be a rare weather occurrence, when one hits, it leaves its mark and is unforgettable.

There are no doubt many takeaways from an event like this, which came in the midst of so many other worldwide and national stresses. However, for today, in this little space, I simply want to record it and give thanks to God for His protection. Some storms of life rush in quickly, unexpected, and move out quickly (though the recovery can last longer), while other storms of life seem to come and stay, lasting months if not years. We’ve seen both in 2020, but through it all, I’m finding that God is still faithful, still good, still caring for us, still leading us through these storms of life. He is worthy of our trust. I am grateful and want to give Him praise today and always.

As I note today’s date, August 22, I want to also recognize it’s my father’s birthday. He would have been 78 today! He passed away when I was 10 weeks old, so I don’t have personal memories of him, but I give thanks to God today for the blessing of my father and the love he had for us.

This song is in my mind as I close, so I’ll share it. I was unfamiliar with it, but we sang it on March 7, 2020, at a Beth Moore event here in Wheaton. At the time, we didn’t know that would be the last time we would comfortably gather in groups of 1000s. We didn’t know those would be the last hugs we would give to friends. Beth spoke on barrenness. Looking back, doesn’t that message seem appropriate with what lay ahead!? She said God sees us in a barren landscape and is attracted to those who lift up their faces to Him for help, who say, “God, make us fruitful again.” So let’s keep looking up, keep lifting our faces, keep crying out to our sovereign God who hears and answers, and wait on Him with confident expectation that He is doing all things well.

In the Morning

Though I’m not a morning person, I love mornings. I look forward to the start of each day to fix some hot tea (or sometimes coffee—though I can’t figure out a way to actually like coffee—any suggestions?) and spend time reading my Bible and praying. An especially good morning includes a walk in the neighborhood, which is a good time to focus, pray, and plan the day. Read more

Don’t Give Up: May and June Reflections

Looking back at the first half of 2020, I can see how my goals are starting to drift. Earlier this year, I shared about my “growth book” which was intended to record my reading, Bible memory, prayer requests, journal, and more. And I set a goal to recap each month both there and here as a means of accountability. Read more