I just have to tell on myself a little. Because if I do that, maybe I'll grow a little. Remember Ellie, the psychotic Boxer puppy I blogged about in "Free to Good Home"? (If you missed it, read it here.) Well, the very same pup has wreaked havoc in our home, yet again. Quelle surprise.
This Christmas story begins with our family making our annual pilgrimage to Stinson's Christmas Tree Farm to find the perfect tree. For the third year in a row, our son John picked the winner. As night fell, we sipped steaming mugs of cocoa as the tree was cut down and loaded into the bed of the truck. Once home, my husband put the tree in the perfect spot in our living room, and adorned the beautiful tree with strand after strand of white twinkle lights. We left for Tampa the next morning, and promised that we would finish decorating the tree once we returned from our church planters' retreat.
After dinner Friday night with pastors and church planters and friends, we arrived at our beautiful home away from home in Tampa. Just as we sat down to relax with our hosts, our kids called with the news: "Ellie ate the Christmas tree." "Whaaat??" "Yep, the whole thing. Even the lights." (Deep breath...1....2....3....) We told them to take the de-branched, de-needled, de-lit tree out of the house, so she couldn't eat any more of it, and enjoyed the rest of our much-needed retreat.
When we returned home on Sunday evening, everything looked normal, except for the empty spot where the tree stood, and the guilty look on Ellie's face. Overnight, though, the large amount of pine needles and bark and lights she ingested apparently made their way through her system, and....(Oh Nooooo!) As visions of sugar plums danced in our heads, Ellie deposited steaming piles of poo from one end of the house to the other, at one point becoming so agitated, she actually ran through the piles, through the kitchen and hallway, and into the master bedroom. It was at that point she sat next to our bed and whined, asking to go outside. Really???! So at four-thirty in the morning, I was up cleaning, scrubbing, using the Green Machine, lighting scented candles and Febreezing everything that didn't move. I fell back into bed about six, tired and grumpy.
In the morning, I called our carpet cleaner, who laughs every time I call now. He came, for the fifth time since July, and made the carpets nice and clean, with an extra dose of deodorizer for good measure. We cleaned the house, and put up a new tree, which we're pretty sure Ellie can't eat, since this one is on a three foot pedestal, and is not actually a tree at all, but made out of something fake. I felt oh-so-accomplished, having overcome the dog-carnage in time for our last Wednesday small group meeting of the year.
So, more kerchiefs and more sugar plums for us on Wednesday night and.....she did it AGAIN!!! At five o'clock in the morning, I looked at Ellie's seven month old baby-Boxer face and said "I HATE you, I MEAN it!!! What's WRONG with you?? You are the WORST dog EVER!!" and put her out on the back porch while I cleaned up her latest atrocity. A couple of hours later, still grumpy, shuffling around the kitchen with my coffee mug in hand, I grumbled "Ellie is ruining Christmas....stupid Boxer....grrr...." Our daughter Caitlin overheard me, and said "If you think she's ruining Christmas, you probably have your eyes on the wrong things. Christmas isn't about the clean house and decorations." Doh!! Smackdown!!
Now Caitlin's right, y'all...(cheesy October Sky reference, sorry). If we are claiming to follow Christ, people are watching our lives to see what's different, especially at this time of year! Our kids are watching, too. Are we doers of these precious verses in Phillipians, letting others see our gentleness, sensing God's nearness? Are we trusting Him,not being anxious during this busy Season, but enjoying His peace through it all? I have to say I wasn't....but I want to. I don't know about you, but I'm going to spend the rest of this season celebrating Emmanuel, God with us, and forgive the crazy puppy again.
"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:5-7 NIV (2010)
Prayer for Today: Merciful Father, thank you for loving me, in spite of me. You knew all of my faults, fears and failures, and sent Jesus to dwell among us anyway. Help me to keep You at the center of all my celebrating during this beautiful Season, and let the light of your gentleness, kindness and peace shine through me. Amen.