Yesterday, we picked up my daughter Mia’s puppy for an early birthday/ Christmas present. This picture is from right when we got her yesterday. The smile on my daughter’s face lit up my heart.

Picking Up Olive

Our dog Pompom is now 3 years old and sleeps in the bed with me because I was the primary one that she bonded with as a puppy 3 years ago. Pompom loves us all equally during the day, but at night, she is going to sleep as close to “daddy” as possible. This puppy, Olive, is being crate trained at night to sleep in my daughter’s bedroom and is bonding primarily with my daughter. Mia is the one taking her outside every 1-2 hours during the day, feeding her 3 times a day, and even getting up in the middle of the night when the whimpers come to walk her. A new puppy is a major new responsibility for a 9 year old, and Mia is learning to take Olive out after eating, after naps, after hard play, and whenever Olive “starts sniffing around”.

Olive Ballinger

As I think about all of this and how blessed we are this morning,  I can’t help but think about the graciousness of God. As I think of this sweet small gift that we have given our daughter,  and how much joy it gave me seeing her happy, I think of the joy it must give the Father when He can trust us with the good and perfect gifts He has in store for us.

We couldn’t turn over the life of this sweet, tender puppy into my daughter’s primary care until she was responsible enough to do so. We gave her more and more responsibilities in taking care of Pompom prior to getting this puppy. And we taught her about the specific types of things she would need to be aware of as a “puppy mom”. And once we thought she was ready,  we decided that it actually was an appropriate time for her to receive the puppy that she has wanted for over a year now.

Pompom contemplating no longer being the only dog

Even with the challenges of the nighttime whimpers interrupting sleep last night, and with our going outside along with her — and even with the challenges of added responsibilities — my daughter is loving her new puppy. But imagine how much of a horror it could have been if we didn’t prepare her in advance? Or if we hadn’t helped her at all last night and she was alone outside not knowing what to do to make sure Olive had walked long enough to “get it all out”? Or if we hadn’t shown her how to dry off Olive with a towel after her trip into the cold and wet grass so that she would be warm and not shivering? Or if we hadn’t shown her how to swaddle Olive with blankets in her crate rub her gently through the closed crate so that Olive knew she was not alone and wasn’t being punished/disciplined, but that the boundaries of the crate were for her protection? I’m not saying that otherwise Mia might have (in her tired, unprepared state dealing with the new responsibilities) just let the puppy sleep beside her — and rolled over on her in her sleep resulting in a dead puppy and a brokenhearted daughter, where a gift became a curse. But it could have happened if we hadn’t prepared her and if we hadn’t helped her.

Mia and Olive on Our First Morning Together

And if we have some idea (as fallible, human parents) how to give good gifts  in due season to our child,  how much better does God know whether we are ready for a blessing or not?

“ Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will [instead] give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will [instead] give him a snake? If you then, evil (sinful by nature) as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give what is good and advantageous to those who keep on asking Him.
Matthew 7:7‭-‬11 AMP

I’m reminded of my grandfather,  Bill Edge, being hesitant long ago about letting me use one of his tractors after we initially bought our farm land. He knew that tractors have through the ages killed many an experienced farmer — and he wanted to be sure that I was ready — not just with knowledge of how the thing worked — but wisdom about the dangers, the traps, the things to avoid,  and how to recognize the dangers specific to using a multi-thousand pound piece of equipment that is very good at breaking things down and tearing then apart. Bill’s hesitation in just giving me what I wanted immediately was well justified, and it was more loving to help me prepare in the areas of wisdom with regards to tractors there by his side rather than just send me off into danger “because I wanted it”.

Grandpa Bill, Mia and the Tractor

The puppies and the tractors are such enjoyable gifts when received in due time — but the greater gifts are the love that insures we are prepared for the gifts to be “for us and not against us”. And while Mia saw us give the puppy to her, and I saw Bill give the tractor to me in due time — it is our Father in heaven who “owns the puppies and tractors in a thousand fields” — that are available for His beloved children.

For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.
Psalms 50:10‭-‬11 AMP

I love the smell of puppy breath, and I love that smell of my tractor running through a newly cut field, and I love that aroma of loving care when loved ones give us the good gifts that come from God in due time.

LORD, too often we long for the puppy breath “right now”, when you know the beautiful, perfect timing. Help us to better appreciate our many blessings and to prepare ourselves for whatever you have in store for us. Help us to not “demand” or “expect” because of our desires and passions, but to know that we can bring our every care to you — even when we want to give good gifts to those we love in the right way. Thank you so much. Amen.