Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Cooper Christmas

My husband celebrated his 36th birthday on November 8th.
Poor guy was home alone with the kids all day.
I had conferences at school which meant I worked from 8AM to 8PM.  I felt bad that I would miss the whole day.

He took it all in stride, just like he always does.

I invited our families over a few days later and we celebrated our man, showing him how much we love him by joining together in his honor.  

And yet still at the end of the night I felt I hadn't done enough.  I felt I had slighted him this year.  I missed his whole birthday, and at his request, didn't even buy him a gift.  He told me several times "no gifts" we will use the money for other things.  But I'm a gifts girl, and that just didn't feel right.  Yet at the same time I was truly at a loss for what I could get him.  

So, I turned to the one who always knows.
I began praying that God would show me something special that I could gift him with for Christmas.  Something that his heart had a desire for.
Nothing immediately popped in my head, so I just continued to pray daily for a little over a week.

It seemed to come out of nowhere, the idea, the answer.
But I knew better...

I was sitting in an armchair in our living room when the text came ringing through.  I looked to find a video from Ryan.  
It was of our dog Mocha, our chocolate lab who now lives with Ryan's brother Todd.  I watched the video and thought "aww I miss that sweet dog".  Because he really was a sweet dog, and I really did love him.

But he was a big dog.
And at the time we lived in a small house.
With a little boy who had lots of things.
My womb full with a little sister who would soon be joining us in the months to follow.
All of this leaving a momma to feel as if there was not enough room in the inn.  

It really wasn't planned.
It kinda just happened.
Mocha went to visit Todd (who lives in the country with two other labs) and he never came home.  Todd talked Ryan into letting him stay.  The man gave up his dog.

"Awww I miss that sweet dog"

There it was.

The answer I had been praying for.

A dog.

A true desire of his heart.

That's it, I'm getting him a dog.

This idea was no doubt from the Lord people.
Had you asked me 3 weeks ago if I wanted another dog in the near future I would have told you no.  
As in N to the O.

But I kid you not, in that very moment I just knew our family needed one, my husband desired to have one.

So I began to pray.
Lord, lead me.

Questions began to swirl.
How can I do it without his help?
Will I find the right one?
I know nothing about finding the perfect dog.
Oh mercy, am I doing the right thing?
Should I just tell him and let him pick?

"Be still my child, and know that I am God."

Now some may find praying over a dog a silly thing.
Not me.
I take it all to him.
And always stand in awe at how he cares about the seemingly "silly" things.  
But really, if you think about it, what's "big" to God?  
We are talking about the all the mighty, all knowing, all powerful creator of the universe!
Sometimes I wonder if He is even more pleased when we bring the "silly" things before Him.
He wants us to lay our all on the altar.  

So I prayed. 
Lord lead me.
Help me find the perfect dog for my husband, for our family.

And then I made a few request...
Of course I did.  :)

"Lord, I'd like a female because they're smaller.  I'd really like one that is light creamy yellow with a jet black nose.  How about a pure English labrador, because in my opinion, they are the prettiest.  Oh and Lord, I have X amount of dollars.  Can you send one my way for that amount?"

So I prayed.
Lord lead me.

But it consumed me.
Day and night.
I literally dreamed puppy dreams nightly.

The search wasn't easy.
Doors would open and then they would close.
I quickly found that the "beauty" I desired was most certainly the more expensive lab.  As in over a thousand dollars in most cases. 
There was not a thousand in my X amount of dollar piggy bank.

Discouragement set in from time to time.
But the Lord reminded me over and over that this was from him, and in due time He would provide.

I stood at the kitchen sink one night loading the dishwasher and the Lord gently spoke...
"He gave up his dog for you".

May seem like an obvious choice, your wife over your dog.
But I never made him choose.  
He just gave him up because he knew it would relieve me at that time in our life.
He knew I needed some space to breathe.
So he sacrificed.
The man who asks for nothing.
He gave up something that he held very dear.
For me.
As tears began to stream down my checks I thanked God for this man who continually sacrifices for me.
I take him for granted, no doubt.
"Lord use me to bless him."

Doors opened, doors closed.

And then we found what seemed to be a promising lead.
When I say "we" I mean Ryan's brother Todd and I.
Literally talked to the man more in a weeks span than I have in the entire 13 years I have known Ryan.  I'm sure he was thrilled that he offered to help once he realized what a joy it is to work with a control freak who thrives on predictability.  :)

So Todd offered to drive the hour and half to pick up the pup for me.  One that I had only seen in pictures mind you.
A few things were a little off.
It was a male, I had prayed for a female.
It had a brown nose, I had prayed for jet black.
It wasn't full english, I had prayed for such.

Well, maybe I'm just going to have to sacrifice my wishes because the Lord has led me here.
And this isn't about me after all.

So I prayed.
Lord lead me.

I eventually latched on to the idea of this pup I had once been so unsure of.
Especially excited that the hunt would soon be over.
That night I went to bed and prayed, "Lord if this isn't right, please close the door."

Ryan's alarm buzzed at 4:30 the next morning.
I was up, knowing full well that this was the day that Todd was making the drive to pick up our pup.
As I lay in bed I thought about how the pup was 6 weeks old.
Hmmmm, I thought they were supposed to stay with their momma a few more weeks.

I got under my covers, in order to hide the light from my phone, and I began to research.  Of course I didn't find one single good thing about taking a pup at 6 weeks.  Everything pointed to no.
This is you Lord, I know it is.

I sent a text to Todd at 5:30 AM.

Once again I'm sure he was taking that time to thank the Lord that he had offered to help me.

He called me at 6 assuring me that my text did not wake him.
I explained my concern and shared that I just didn't feel right about this dog.  I knew it wasn't the one.  He was a little irritated, I could tell.  But, I had prayed, and I knew the door was closing.

So I waited until a reasonable hour and I sent a text to the breeder that we would not be coming today.  I shared my concern with taking a dog at 6 weeks and thanked her for her time.

She quickly responded that we could still come to pick a pup and that she would keep it for the following two weeks until the recommended age of puppy release.  

Hmmm, ok Lord, are you opening the door?
Admittedly, I still had reservations.
I mean this dog really wasn't what I asked for, but I wasn't going to make this about me and what I wanted.

Todd once again offered to make the drive.

So I prayed.
Lord lead me.

And then I sent out a text to my dear friend Gena who had been praying with me the entire week...
"I need clear direction, please pray"
She quickly responded...

One word.
And I knew the waters would part.

"Lord there's still time.  The door closed, and then it suddenly reopened.  If this is not the one, please slam the door shut once and for all."

Hours later Todd called.
"You don't own a puppy yet.  I didn't like the dogs or their living conditions."

Door slammed.

Thank you Jesus for the clear confirmation.

We had one more promising lead that I had first turned my nose up at earlier that week simply because the time line was different from what I had in mind.  These pups wouldn't be ready for new homes until after Christmas and I wanted our dog before Christmas.
But Todd urged me to call.
So I did.

I loved the breeder.  
Sweetest lady.

And then on a "whim" I made a same day appointment to go check them out.  Todd was sure these were the ones.  They were his first pick and he had been pointing me in this direction for an entire week.

So I prayed.
Lord lead me.

Ryan's mom came with me and we joked on the way as to what our  secret code for "let's get outta here" would be if we felt it wasn't right.
We pulled up and from the moment I walked into the home, I knew.  Seriously, it was that easy.

The house was immaculate.
The people, so very kind.
The momma dog was beautiful, as was the dad, a tell tale sign that this dog will be a grown beauty.
The pups, well they were itty bitty.
Just two weeks old!
Only beginning to open their eyes that very day.

But I knew.
They were creamy light yellow, just like I had prayed.
They had jet black noses, just like I had prayed.
They were full bred English, just like I had prayed.
Can you believe they were within my X amount of dollars?!
Only males to choose from, no females, but I just had this peace that God was pointing in this direction.

So we chose the perfect pup.
Well, we didn't choose, but rather we were led.

Look at that sweet boy!

We filled out paper work and left our deposit.
I drove away knowing this was right.

I hurried to the store and bought a labrador ornament and knew I would use it to share the news with Ryan.  I mean no way could I keep this secret for an entire month.
No to the way!

I put the puppy ornament in a red velvet box and I waited for Ryan to come home from work.
I waited.
And I waited.
Saturdays are his long day.
Seemed like forever.

And then I heard his keys jingle and the door unlock.  
My heart raced.
This was the moment.
He was about to receive news of his blessing.

He came into the living room and I told him the kids and I bought him an ornament.
He opened the box cocked his head to the side (just like I knew he would) smiled, and said "aww babe".

He walked straight over to the tree to hang it and it is then that I said "the real one will come home on December 30th".

Of course he had no clue what I was talking about and I spent the next minutes convincing him that yes I had in fact bought him a dog.
For the next half an hour I shared all that I could remember about the hunt to find the perfect hound.
He hung on my every word.

I showed him all the pictures I had and I watched as he grinned from ear to ear.  I knew his heart was tickled to pieces.

Then I shared the picture of the pups that I had to choose from.
Would you believe he chose the exact one I did!  
Well I believe it, remember how I prayed?

Then he shared that he was relieved it was a male verses a female because had it been up to him he would have chosen a male.

Be still my heart.

The ONE thing about this dog that didn't "line up" with my wish list was the fact that it was a boy.  
But it wasn't about me.
It was for him.
The one who always sacrifices.
The Lord knows this man's heart.

We talked until our words slurred and we fell into slumber while dreams of puppy dogs danced in our heads.

It wasn't until this morning that I noticed where Ryan had placed his puppy ornament...

See him perched right up there on top of the word JOY?!

Confirmation of what his heart feels.

We also quickly realized that the pup comes home Dec 30th and I am home on Christmas break until January 7th then Ryan is on vacation from January 9-25.  Perfect for puppy training!
Remember how I initially turned my nose at this litter because the timing was "off"?!
The timing turns out to be perfect!
Of course it is.
Remember how I prayed?!

I document this long story because I don't want to forget.
But I also pray that someone (even if it's only one of two people who still read my blog haha) who reads this will have a heart tender toward the truth that lies within this story.

God calls us to pray.
Not just about what we see as "big" things.
But He calls us to pray about ALL things.
Even puppy dogs.

He listens.
He answers.

So I continue to pray.
Lord lead me.

"Be anxious for nothing but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

Philippians 4:6

We will keep this special secret from our kids until December 30th.  They won't know a thing about Cooper (that's his name) until we bring him home!  I should add that within the last two weeks BOTH of my kids have added "dog" to their Christmas lists.  They will be thrilled.  But if you see them, or talk to them, please help us keep the secret!  I figure it's safe to share here, being that that neither of them read my blog.  ;)

One last thing, if God places someone on your heart that you feel led to bless I encourage you to pray that He would use you to bless.
Don't worry, you probably won't end up with a dog, haha.

But if you ask God to lead you, He will.

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also the interest of others."

Philippians 2: 3-4


  1. Nice story, Meg. Always love a happy ending! God is good.

  2. Nice story Meg..and even though I thought you would drive yourself nuts that day everything worked out! That puppy is so cute I can't stop looking at all the pictures we took..
    I'm so excited I'm having a new grand puppy to love..Cooper will be truly a treasured gift to all of us...

  3. I LOVED the part where you realized you had to accept the pup was going to be a boy! I am a huge fan of God keeping us own our toes for the sake of others :)

    Wonderfully expressed story, Meg!