Every now and then, I have the urge to make some type of change in my life. This feeling usually arises after an extensive period of the status quo or an intense period where work and responsibilities have overwhelmed my life. The desire for variation usually materializes itself in harmless little ways like a new nail polish color, a new outfit, a cool new pair of shoes, or exploring someplace new on vacation. These little fix-me-ups somehow make me feel more adventurous and make life more exciting. It’s ok, you can laugh at my sense of adventure.
However, there was a time in the not too distant past when I felt a desperate need for change in my life. It felt like something was missing, and I had a deep sense of longing that no nail polish color, new pair of shoes, or fabulous vacation could fix.
During the summer of 2009, I was struggling big time. I couldn’t shake the pain of a past relationship, I felt extremely insecure at work, and good friends seemed few and far between. Simply stated, I was in a funk. I was looking for validation in things and people that left me feeling empty, and although I had always considered myself a follower of Christ, looking back, I was pretty far from knowing Him and who I was in Him.
That July, I decided to take a long weekend to visit my sister in Tomball – a little suburb north of Houston. If you know me, you know the joy my sister and her family bring me. Erin, my sister, is a nut– like in the best possible way. She is hilarious, spontaneous, and she uses movie quotes from Top Gun, Sixteen Candles, and Forrest Gump in her everyday lingo. Her house has always been my happy place, and going there has always been like a vacation for me. She loves to shop, get manicures, and she has a pool. What else could be better to get me out of my funk? Plus it is always a pure delight to get to see my niece and nephews.
So, after four hours driving down I45 and arriving at Erin’s, she gave me the run down on what she had planned for the afternoon. Among a few other things, she mentioned to me that her friend’s parents — who as it turns out breed English springer spaniels — just had a litter of puppies and she thought we should pop by to see them.
I guess at this point I should tell you that I actually had been thinking about getting a dog. I already had a cat, Lucky—God rest her soul – who was such a sweet cat, the sweetest cat I have ever met. But she was extremely low key and no offense to cat people, but I’m a dog person. I love everything about dogs: their breath, wiggly tails, and the way they seem to love you – no questions asked.
However, I hesitated to get a dog because I knew it would require a commitment I wasn’t sure I could make. Work and volunteer responsibilities kept me pretty busy, and I was unsure how a dog would fit into everything.
So when my sister suggested we go see the litter of puppies, I thought it was a safe, harmless thing to do. I wasn’t even thinking I would get a puppy that weekend. It wasn’t even on my mind – at least not at that moment.
We drove over to my sister’s friend’s parents’ house and as we got out of the car and walk towards the backyard, we were greeted by sweet little wiggly bundles of liver brown and white puppies.
I remember thinking they were the cutest puppies I had ever seen, and I remember thinking I was in trouble. There was no rational thought in my head other than – PUPPIES! I was surrounded by adorable puppies jumping on me – wanting to be held. It was pure joy.
In fact, I don’t remember the moment when it went from a “let’s go see the puppies,” outing to a “which puppy do you want to take home,” outing. At one point I was holding a super calm fat male puppy, but my sister’s friend kept pointing out her favorite female pup. When I picked her up, she was so relaxed in my arms — which was a good sign— but I could also see she had a personality, and on top of it all she was adorable. All it took was a few moments and I was hooked.
It was a done deal; I was a new momma of a sweet new baby girl!
On the way back to my sister’s house, we thought about names, and after throwing out several English sounding names, I said, “what about Sophie?” Everyone went, “yea, Sophie!” It just fit.
I had no plans of getting a dog that July weekend, but looking back, I believe – in fact I know – God’s hand was in it the whole time. He knew exactly what type of change I needed to lift me up from my funk.
He knew I needed the love of a dog.
Now, I am not saying that every person who is in a funk needs a dog. Dogs are a serious commitment and they need care and attention that some are not able to give. And although I may have glossed over it, I had been thinking for some time about getting a dog and what that would mean. But I take forever to make decisions that require commitment. Looking back I know it had to be a God thing, because I had absolutely no hand in any of it. It took all the right conditions: my desperate need for change, the need to get away for the weekend, the fact my sister knew the breeders, and the puppies were ripe for adopting — all things that came together — not under my plan, but under His.
Yes, I believe He cares about us all that much that these seemingly minute coincidences are a part of His wonderful masterpiece.
The summer of 2009 was the beginning of a series of life-altering discoveries for me – the changes I really needed in my life. I discovered that in many ways, the love of a dog mirrors God’s unconditional love for us. And as I have thought about it, adopting Sophie started a journey that has led me to a fuller understanding of God’s love for me – for all of humanity really – but He knew I was in a place where I really needed to understand it personally.
Over the last seven and a half years, my silly little Sophie has made me laugh and provided me so much joy and comfort. And I can’t wait to share all that God has taught me and inspired me to do all because of the love of a dog.