My kids giggled and iced cookies while I paced the kitchen anxiously glancing at the phone that lay face up on the counter.
They heaped on more icing for the Santa Claus who was about to fail them while I smiled and tried to hide my panic.
It was 7:30pm on Christmas Eve, and what was planned to be the most magical Christmas morning ever was turning into a complete disaster.
“Allllllll we want for Christmas is a puppy!!!” The kids exclaimed. “We don’t even want any toys!”
Not a single toy had been purchased. It was magically simple. An empty crate eagerly awaited a puppy’s arrival with a homemade sign that read:
The kids had no idea just how precious Sammy Taylor was yet, but Will and I knew. We had planned so far ahead that we were able to choose the first pick of the litter. The smallest puppy of the bunch, he had a little white spot on his head and curled right up in my lap and fell asleep. He was for sure our Sammy.
Will planned his sleigh ride to Birmingham to pick him up after the kids went to bed. They would wake up to see him jump out of a box under the Christmas tree. A most perfect plan.
And at 7:30 on Christmas Eve 2019, that precious eight-week-old puppy was with our breeder at the emergency vet.
“It’s not good,” she had said with a shaky voice hours earlier. Her phone call at 2pm came as a total surprise. I stumbled off the ice skating rink to talk in private away from the kids.
“We lost another one to this rare esophagus complication, and yours has been throwing up all day. I am taking him to get an x-ray and we’ll see if he has it. If he does, we will have to put him down tonight…”
I glanced at my kids as they skated in joy and felt as if my head had just come crashing down on that cold, hard ice.
I don’t remember what came out of my mouth, but I’m sure my sweet breeder does.
“I am so sorry,” she said. “This is very unusual.”
I hung up the phone in a swirl of disbelief…mourning the death of a dream, the possible loss of that precious puppy, the painful surrender of all control, the bewilderment that all of my well-laid plans could be fruitless, and the anger over the worst possible timing.
Little did I know, that moment was a great preparation for 2020! Haven’t we all had to sit in that tailspin? And more than once. Perhaps we are still in it.
And we wait. We wait like I did for the remainder of that Christmas Eve. We wait in the middle of a story wondering how it will end, and knowing it is completely out of our hands. We wait in a wrestle of fear and hope.
At 8pm, we received the news we’d been awaiting. I dashed to my ringing phone, heart beating…
“He’s perfect!” She shouted. “It was just a little bug.”
I exhaled, dropped to my knees, then started dancing in the kitchen, eating icing so as not to scream!
Christmas morning felt like Easter to Will and me as we watched that little puppy jump out of his box!
I can laugh about it now. And as I reflect on that story and prepare for another Christmas, I ponder what game-changing news I am waiting to hear.
“COVID-19 is over!”
“You can hug everyone without a mask!”
“World peace has arrived.”
There are many words.
But as I reflect on my fears and hopes and dig a little deeper, I find a refreshing peace in the words that have already been spoken.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”(Luke 2:10 NIV)
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matthew 28:6 NIV)
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I’ve called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
We get excited at Christmas to celebrate Christ’s first arrival as we eagerly await His coming again and reflect on His last words,
“Yes, I am coming soon.” (Revelation 22:20)
The words of one of my favorite Christmas songs, Oh Holy Night, ring true:
“The thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
In our weariness, we wait. We rejoice in a hope that doesn’t disappoint no matter what we face today.
We don’t know when He will return, but we know it will be beyond what we can even dream or imagine. No more sickness, no more death, no more pain.
While Jesus is beyond comparison, our response may be similar to Anna’s when she first met Sammy. She knew she would love her puppy, but she was shocked that Sammy loved her. As he tackled her with kisses, she squealed in delight and disbelief, “He likes me! He loves me!” I imagine that’s how it will be when we meet Jesus face to face. We’ll be blown away by how much He actually likes and loves us.
Weary, we wait. Hopeful, we rejoice…and trust that moment will come with perfect timing beyond our current understanding.
Like a puppy arriving right before quarantine.