If I can raise a puppy, I can raise a child…right?

I will admit that as a teen, babies weren’t my thing. I did my fair share of babysitting and child wrangling, but spending time around opinionated, messy humans of small stature and questionable balance was not my first choice. I preferred furrier mischief. Throughout middle school I was part of a 4-H dog club. We trained our dogs in a variety of categories and then competed at county and state fairs. The amount that I learned being part of that 4-H club is something I will always be grateful for. However, the friend that I gained through those many hours of training is something I will never forget. I was and still am shy in nature. I don’t make oodles of friends and going through the awkwardness of the teen years, a dog who wanted to be my constant companion without caring about really anything else, was perfect. We were a constant duo and if I could have taken her everywhere, I would have. As I grew older, so did she and for some reason God decided that dogs should have short life spans. My life was rapidly transitioning from school, to work, to marriage. She met and approved of my now husband and not long after, her time was up. 
Time moves on and I found myself buying a house, opening the door to the possibility of getting a new dog. As life would have it, I got pregnant and my husband and I had to make a choice. Do we get a dog now or wait until the baby is a toddler? We got the dog, who we both quite like, but now I found myself facing another serious anomaly. What was I going to do with an tiny, opinionated, messy human of my own? Everything I new about raising things was derived from taking a 6-8 week old puppy and teaching it how to be a proper house guest. Surely if I admitted that my parenting approach consisted of Google and what I new from raising puppies people would be aghast. 

My baby is now quickly approach the 1.5 year mark and so far we are all still alive and mostly unscathed. The good news is that there is no “right” way to raise a child because they are all unique and uniquely different. (This is also the bad news.) As my daughter develops and becomes more interactive, I am amazed at how her perception of the world extends as far away as she can get while still seeing me. I am her everything. Separation from me is excruciating, horrible, terrifying and meltdown inducing. Her sense of trust is connected to my presence. This is NOT the same with dogs. Puppies hit a point where they realize there is a whole world on the other side of their fence and it’s meant for exploring. I think this would be called young adulthood for humans, but babies…no. Developmental rates between kids and dogs vastly differ in some aspects. 

The weight of the responsibility that comes from the complete reliance of my toddler can be intimidating. However, it is also enlightening. For a being that can’t communicate with words, our days are like a constant game of charades. It’s my job to figure out her needs, but I also know that regardless of my deciphering she trusts me to make the right choice. If only I had the same attitude towards my relationship with God. How often I feel like a babbling toddler trying to communicate my requests to God. I need to trust that regardless of my interpretation of a situation, He is making the right choice. 

Maybe God and a Dog Have More in Common than just the Letters

My husband and I chose to do something slightly insane when I was around 6 months pregnant. We got an 8 week old puppy. Getting a puppy is an intense commitment, especially when anticipating adding a newborn to the mix. Between the house breaking, obedience training and constant chewing it was a full time effort. I have had a dog in my life for as long as I can remember. This is something I wanted to share with my little girl when she entered the world. Now, a year and a half later my fuzzy little puppy is a full grown black German Shepherd. While on the smaller side for a shepherd, she is still muscle from head to toe and can easily plow over our daughter, Colleen. The amount of restraint our dog, Lexi, uses has come from a decent amount of training, but I love to watch the two interact. So much power, yet such gentleness. It makes me think about how omnipotent God is and despite that, he chooses to let us have an intimate relationship with Him. 

I took a bit of a risk agreeing to a high drive dog breed, but the reward is a resilience and loyalty that is hard to compare. While Colleen adores Lexi she also enjoys picking on her. Petting turns into whisker pulling or using Lexi as a walker. Despite the looks of annoyance that I get from Lexi, I know she can endure it and has a certain amount of affection for the small human. The bond between the two is one of trust and for Colleen, reassurance. Having Lexi with her when we go new places gives Colleen confidence. I wish that I could let go of my personal reservations and have a similar relationship with God, like Lexi and Colleen. Trust that He will always protect me, adoration for his love and relationship, comfort in his presence and reassurance, “…that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Too often I find myself during the day trying to take on life’s problems on my own. God is my Lexi, ready to be my friend or my walker. All I have to do is call out to him. While I don’t recommend a German Shepherd for every young family, I do encourage you to consider your relationship with God. He is patient and waiting. I look forward to the years ahead as my two goof balls grow and mature together. I know we will share many more great moments, muddy feet and plenty of dog hair. 

In the Quiet

As much as I love my husband and my baby, I am often running on fumes. The thought of sleeping through the night without baby or my mind keeping me up seems as luxurious as a weekend at a 4 star hotel. If the ability to pause time was something I could buy on Amazon I would be ordering an extra large dose so that I could sleep, clean, sleep more and then sit and stare into nothingness with a caramel macchiato.

Every season in life has its challenges and glories that no other point in life will be able to replicate. All too often I find myself comparing this season to other people in my sphere and must remind myself that every journey is unique. No one experiences the same challenges or triumphs exactly as I do, it is the Krista expedition. A special pact between me and God with a few, key supporting characters and a lot of other people that I get to encounter along the way.

In the moments where my temper flairs, my feelings are pulverized, my attitude is a sack of rotten potatoes and the desire to keep moving forward is buried deep in a bowl of Haagen-Dazs double chocolate ice cream, its that still, small voice that gets me back up.

1 Kings 19:11-13 tells a story of the great prophet Elijah.

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

Other translations end verse 13 with, what are you doing here? In the midst of life’s chaos, what are you doing here Krista? It takes faith and commitment to survive life’s chaos. I am comforted knowing that God is there through it all, but especially in the quite. He gently directs my heart and confirms that it is all worth it.