When God Demonstrates His Personal Love for Our Kids – and nudges us in the process of showing them

by tklicka on April 24, 2017

These two have a special relationship, which all began about seven years ago. To understand how important this pooch is to my boy and what God has to do with it, you need to hear the whole story.

When my son John was 9, he asked his dad for a dog. My Chris, having Solomon-like wisdom at that moment said, “When you’re 12, you can get a dog.” He knew his wife well. Adding the work and responsibility of a puppy when I was already trying to raise and homeschool seven kids, ages 19 down to 9, and care for my husband who had advanced MS might have just put me over the top. “Good answer, honey.”

In the next two years, however, life got even more challenging and Chris’s MS got even worse. We never talked again about getting a dog. And that year, in the fall of 2009, God called my husband Home. Since Chris had passed away in Colorado while we were attending the HSLDA national homeschool leadership conference, we didn’t get back home for about six weeks. Once we did get home, after my crazy idea of making a maiden voyage across the country in an RV, neither the children nor I wanted to be home without daddy for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which were just around the corner.

So, I decided to take a road trip to see our family and friends after Chris’s memorial service on October 31st. God ministered to our hearts in soft, quiet ways as we clocked the miles visiting my daughter Megan in Tennessee and my daughter Bethany and son-in-law Ben in Mississippi for Thanksgiving. And spending Christmas with our friends, Bob and Tina Farewell in Florida was loud and fun and very healing for all of us. Right in the middle of our road trip, however, was my son John’s golden birthday; he turned 12 on 12/12/09.

To celebrate, my kids and I spent the day at one of Walt Disney’s water parks. I honestly don’t remember which one, but I do remember John asking me to go down this ridiculous slide that looked as tall as a skyscraper and about as steep as one, too. I thought I was going to slide my way straight into heaven on that one! Ever heard of uncontrollable, hysterical laughter brought on by sheer fright? Yep, that was me…oh, the things we mothers do for our sons.

Those weeks were marked by deep joy as we felt the love and prayers of many, many friends and family, and by even deeper grief as we realized, over and over, day after day, that we would never see our daddy and father again. We heard only the echo of his laugh, saw only the shadow of his big grin, and felt only the memory of his arms and prayers around us.

And in our deep loss, I certainly wasn’t thinking about a dog, but God was.

Shortly after we returned home from that trip, not even one month after John turned 12, I was having my morning devotions and prayer time, and I distinctly remember sensing God was saying to me, “John is 12 now, and you need to honor his dad’s promise to get him a dog.”

At first, I was dumbfounded. “Did You really just say that, Lord?” but I knew better. Yes, His words to me were clear, “You need to honor his dad’s promise.” I started crying, not because I didn’t want to get a dog. No, I was crying because in that moment, I could see how great God’s love was for my son. He cared enough about this boy to remember his desire for a dog back when he was nine years old, even if I hadn’t remembered.

After John read several books about dog care and dog breeds, we decided to get an Irish Terrier. This breed met my three requirements – no dog bigger than medium-size, or that sheds, or that barks a lot – and it fulfilled his desire for an intelligent dog that is steadfastly loyal to its master and great around children. We flew all the way to Tulsa where my parents lived and with my dad, drove to Missouri where John picked out a little girl pup that charmed his heart.

The next year became a remarkable journey for John as he cared for Indy Anna, a name fitting for a female dog who is named after the famous adventurer Indiana Jones. She became part of our family, but has always been John’s girl. When she was just several weeks old, he faithfully took her out in the middle of the night as part of her house training. He also bathed her, cleaned up after her accidents, fed her, brushed her, played with her, took her for walks, and taught her tricks. We even took her to a dog groomer for a private session so John could learn how to groom her himself.

While there were several years where I watched John grow in faithfulness and maturity, all because he had Indy to care for, there were also seasons when John got busy with other things and work, and when he just didn’t feel like caring for her like he knew he should. That’s where I grappled with balancing showing grace and enforcing responsibility. I don’t know that I always did that well.

I do know that seven years later, John, who no longer lives at home, loves his dog still and will probably bring her home with him, whenever the time is right. Even more, I know that God loves my son in a very deep and personal way, and He showed it by reminding me of a promise his daddy made three years before he died.

Tracy Klicka Photography

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