My sleepy ears noted the hum of the air conditioner as it kicked on at 1 am this morning. I also detected the occasional whir of the refrigerator as it cycled on and off, keeping our milk and other perishables cool this sweaty August in the early morning hours.
An hour earlier I padded to the couch looking for relief from the low back pain that the heating pad couldn’t erase. As I contorted my body just-so, with my back propped up by the back of the couch and a pillow tucked right where my neck needs it, I heard the distinctive “click-click-click-click” on the floor that told me my little Lacee was on her way to join me on the couch, her canine toenails marking her very short stride.
I can’t get very far away from my shadow dog. We adopted her into our family six years ago because we wanted our daughter to have her “own” dog so she could overcome a trepidation of small dogs. She had zero fear around our lumbering Dalmatian and often treated him as a playmate, dressing him up in her Little Mermaid costume. But after two small mean dogs chased her and bit her leg, she had a guarded attitude around the small canine population. So when she was old enough to care for a pet, we adopted Lacee.
But it turns out that Lacee adopted me.
At first I wasn’t crazy at this little interloper. I already had a dog — a big one — who thought he was a lap dog and followed me everywhere. But it wasn’t long before she wormed her little way into my heart. Lacee is an empathetic dog. I think she would be an outstanding therapy dog because she seems to sense when a person is hurting or upset and then seeks them out. My big Dal used to leave the room when I cried…but Lacee finds me and gives me the best gift she can offer…herself.
So it was with a smile that I invited her up to join me on the couch. She sighed her little doggy sigh as she curled up in the space between my legs and my stomach. I fell back asleep feeling the rise and fall of her nine pound body tucked up next to my heart.
We’ve accumulated many funny Lacee stories. She’s endearing and loving and loyal. She chases the bunnies in our backyard with a reckless abandon. She dances for treats and has a special “welcoming” bark for each member of the family — I can tell who is at the door based on the tenor of her warbles. She cautiously slinks toward her food bowl every morning and evening, preparing for the boogey man to jump out and get her. She’s definitely a sissy dog in that she prefers to sleep on soft surfaces…the softer, the better. Given a choice between a towel and a fluffy blanket on the bed, she’ll go for the fluffy every time.
Her trust in me is absolute. She seeks me out for her own comfort when she is frightened or injured or just in need of some attention. This total trust reminds me of the way the Lord wants me to trust in him…in all things, despite my present circumstances. I read a blog today that discussed James 1:2-4 in the context of dealing with troubles in this life:
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
To be sure, my faith is being tested as I walk with such pain. Two nights ago as I tossed and turned and twisted in agony from relentless restless legs, I prayed fervently in Jesus’ name. I told the muscle contractions to leave by the power of the Lord Jesus. My husband prayed for me. Yet the contractions did not respond or relent, and I was rendered unable to sleep. There is a direct relationship between the number of hours of restful sleep I get and the intensity of my pain over the next several days.
To look upon this pain as joy….wow. I’m not sure I can respond that way…at least not in my own power. But what I can do is see what –and who — the Lord has placed in my life that helps me endure: His word that lights my path and assurance that one day I WILL be healed. A Christian doctor who is working to find a cause for my pain so I can be healed. A hunky husband who cooks his own supper and does the dishes while I wilt on the couch. A beautiful daughter who tucks me in instead of asking me to walk up the stairs to tuck her in. And a delightful nine-pound-fluffball who clicks her way up onto the couch and into my heart.