I’m always on the lookout for the simple things around me that God might be using to show me something. Through the years I’ve learned He is my loyal defender thanks to dive bombing cardinals, and that my dread opening a can of biscuits is a bit like needing to be prepared for the return of Christ (long story.) Most recently, a new snow globe with our daughter’s name at the Salvation Army is His way of letting me know He sees and cares.
Today, it was dog bones and Baby Jesus.
We have two Christmas trees downstairs. One is for the kids and contains all their ornaments through the years, a collection of memories and themes. Under the tree we have various nativity scenes from Veggie Tales to felt characters to an adult set. Our tree skirt is a beautiful, sparkly material my mom made years ago that looks like a gorgeous snow scene. For years I chased our cat, Gary, from using it as his seasonal residence where he’d also try to chew the fake needles and paw at the figurines.
This is our first year without Gary and I feel like he left last instructions with our four-year-old Chow Lab, Tucker. Tucker is a magnet to that tree skirt this year. If he can’t sneak to the back for a quick nap on the billowy softness, his new thing is to take his chew bones and leave them on the edge of the skirt.
At closer look, he’s leaving the bones with Baby Jesus.
I smiled at first, then realized beyond adorable, there’s a message there. At least for me.
Tucker is all about his bones. He’ll fight for them if he has to. But he took his most precious thing and laid it at the manger. Sure, he’s probably trying to get some tree skirt real estate, but the visual is what’s speaking to me.
Have you truly surrendered all?
Everything about my writing and speaking—even about my marriage and parenting—is built around surrender. I believe when we surrender what God’s asking us to through His Son, there’s freedom. My tag line is “Encouraging you to surrender the good, the bad—and maybe—one day the chocolate.” I’ve had to surrender things that weren’t sinful. I remember the day we moved away from everyone and everything I knew to start a new life in Ohio. Upstate NY wasn’t a bad thing, but I had to surrender it.
I’ve also been guilty of placing a burden on my husband that he can’t handle. Jesus truly needs to be my all, and too often, I withhold my “dog bones” of life from Him. Husband. Kids. Ministry. Loved Ones. Food.
There was a day we did have to place our most precious item at His feet. Our baby was dying and our rural hospital wasn’t equipped to treat her. The children’s hospital was two hours away and their ambulance had just left with another child. Our baby couldn’t be life flighted because they needed two teams to stabilize her and not everyone could fit. We had to wait for the ambulance to drive all the way to the children’s hospital AND drive all the way back to us. Once they arrived, I looked at the ambulance driver. He looked sixteen.
I called my best friend and we prayed. More like she called down the heavens and I sobbed. I could feel heaven and hell fighting for this child and I knew I had to leave her life, and possible death, into God’s hands.
It was the single hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
My hope is you never have to act on your faith like that, but seeing the dog bones at the manger was a good check in my spirit. Am I willing to surrender all to Him? Am I willing to give what He asks, when?
The praise is in our toughest situation, God healed her through doctor intervention and she is now a teenager. I know not every story ends that way, and I plan to spend half of eternity asking Jesus all sorts of questions.
For now, this Christmas season and beyond, I plan to challenge myself with visuals like the bones for Baby Jesus.
While I’m chasing the dog off the tree skirt.
Just a reminder, A Christmas to Remember boxed set will no longer be for sale after December 31. This is a collection of eight Christian romances from Kimberly Rose Johnson, Valerie Comer, Elizabeth Maddrey, Ginger Solomon, Lindi Peterson, Deb Kastner, Janet W. Ferguson and me. This is a great Christmas gift, and at .99, you can snag one for you, too. It’s also free for Kindle Unlimited.