Our daughter is obsessed with animals. I guess that all little kids like animals to some degree and I’m sure that for kids under the age of 10, one of the most popular future occupations has got to be Veterinarian, but Anna could be the ring leader of this popular fascination. For years she has pined for a pet. She would harass me for a dog every single day and all day long if I had not already convinced her of the utter uselessness of repetition on that score. She knows very well that I refuse to even discuss the matter of bringing a dog into my home until everyone in said home is well out of diapers and pull-ups. I am not going to be personally responsible for dealing with the fecal matter of two kinds of mammal. In return, Anna has assured me that she loves me very much, and loves living at home, but is looking forward to the day when she has her own place just so she can buy a puppy, first thing.
Anna dreams about pets. She talks about pets. She ties string around the inanimate necks of her stuffed animals and drags them around the house. She imagines her younger siblings to be pretend animals and somehow even becomes her own imaginary pet! She comes home from school, binds leaves of paper together into books that she writes and illustrates about her going to the pet store and picking out some animal for her very own. Wow. Intense, right? Yeah... well, a few weeks ago, Christy diagnosed this very singular condition right before we were about to go to bed when she very solemnly said to me, “Babe, our little girl is pet-deprived.”
Pet-deprived?! Is that like being asthmatic or having an immune deficiency? Do we need to call someone? No... turns out we were starting a conversation about Anna’s birthday. And look, before you jump to any conclusions, no! We did not get a dog or a cat or anything like that. Jack is still firmly kicking it in diapers and I am still stalwart in my ‘no dog till that day’ thing. We decided to get Anna some birds. Two birds to be exact: a couple of parakeets. We got a cage, some food, a perch or two, the whole nine yards. On Anna’s birthday, the family were all sitting around as I brought out the cage covered in a sheet. Anna had no idea what it was. When she uncovered it, she stared blankly at the birds for a moment and then a smile broke across her face as she exclaimed, “A Pet! I got a pet! I got a pet!” I said, “You’ve got two pets.” and she returned, “I got TWO pets!” Christy said, “Anna, you get to name them and they’re both girls.” And then, without waiting, deliberating or even thinking, Anna busted out, “The white one is named Keira and the yellow one is Ashley.”
Whoa! My head was spinning... I thought this naming process would take some time and maybe even some editing, but no. She busted those names out as if she had been waiting on this day her whole life. That little heart of hers was so filled with love for animals and so ecstatic to find that she finally had some animals to love, that the names Keira and Ashley just burst right out of her heart and landed gently on those feathery little heads.
This week I have been reading and re-reading John chapter 10 where Jesus calls Himself the “Good Shepherd.” I noticed something the other day that I’ve never really seen before. Jesus says, “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” I love how it says that He calls His own by name. He owns His sheep. They’re His, and He knows their names because He probably named them. There’s someone who knows you and made you the way you are because He absolutely loves you. He loves who you are. His overjoyed heart loves to have you as His and He delights in being followed by His own! His favorite day was probably the day you became His!