Before I Make Mashed Taters for 20 People, I Have Something to Say


If I were still a Christian, I would have a great analogy here.

Toast (pictured above) (the furry one) has been with us now for about 3 months. Our foray into having a dog trainer come and help us was a bit of a disaster. “Mike” the dog trainer apparently has his own dogs who are trained so well that he can just look at them and they know to recite the alphabet while standing on one leg. But Mike’s instruction to us didn’t work. He instructed us to ignore Toast when he jumps up on us, and to give him something appropriate to chew on when he mouthed or bit us. Sounds gr-r-r-r-r-r-eat! EXCEPT THAT KEPLER IS TOO SMALL TO DO THIS. Keppie did try to “be a tree” when Toast jumped, but as Toast grew, Kepler didn’t grow and it became unmanageable to expect Kepler to be able to stand fast when Toast jumped on him.

And with one thing and another, gradually I started to feel like this dog ownership thing was not for me! I do know that it is, as I heard many years ago, a goal big enough to demand my best. I want my dog to make my life easier, not harder. But a dog has to be trained and guided, else he’s going to be acting in ways that are REALLY not compatible with having a small child.

As it so happens, Greg spoke with a different dog trainer on the phone yesterday who told us Toast should be on leash or otherwise under our control at all times. AS IT SO OFTEN HAPPENS, something very basic like that has tremendous power to change my experience.

And here’s the analogy. Putting Toast on leash gave him structure and confidence that someone else was in charge. Without that confidence, he was unable to control himself and was pretty much bouncing off the walls. Jumping up on my me, jumping up on Kepler, jumping up on the furniture, grabbing things off the counter, just generally being a poorly trained dog, but doing what came naturally to him.

As a Christian, I used to think that it was nice to know that God was in charge, and that I could have confidence that Someone was in charge of things. I am completely fine with not having that point of view anymore, but I still see how valuable it is for a being (Toast) who is obviously dependent on a higher-order being (his sometimes clueless owners) to know that his owner can be trusted and depended on to be consistent, to set boundaries and enforce them, and to love him the way he needs to be loved.

So, I’m off to make mashed potatoes for 20. No doubt I will make way more than these 20 people will eat, because my eyes are ALWAYS bigger than peoples’ stomachs, but no matter.

2 thoughts on “Before I Make Mashed Taters for 20 People, I Have Something to Say

  1. Ironically, your second to last paragraph is the very essence of Divine security. It’s easy now, when we are safe and “toasty” in our homes and communities to not think we need someone beyond ourselves to be in charge but when I consider what happened in Paris last night I take great comfort in knowing that SOMEONE else is driving the bus and He has an agenda which will accomplish a much greater purpose than I could ever think or dream up.
    For instance, what Eli has gone through has made him stronger and filled him with meaningful character and focus but it was hell for awhile. As I recall and I may be wrong, one of the things that turned you against God was the fact that He was not answering your prayers for your children. Since He was in charge, He saw all of our family needed to confront our poor coping processes and learn to move outside the realm of enabling and take a different tack.
    I don’t mean God is only available for stuff I can’t handle but I’m most grateful for how He is committed to forming us in His image and making our lives so much richer and meaningful.
    Consider this: Christianity is the only religion that doesn’t have faux gods and yet God forbids us (no graven images) to represent Him. But the reason is because He is forming Himself in us and we are His image. In the mean time many of us have prayed faithfully for Eli’s recovery and give glory to God. We also pray faithfully for you and your precious family and just love seeing you grow and be enriched in the process.


    1. Actually, mom, it was NOT issues of prayer about my children that were key in my change in belief. Whether it is the God of the Bible or the Universe or some other Higher Being, I recognize the gifts I have received, and that includes the gifts that have come through the pain and processes related to several areas in our lives. I am truly grateful for this journey, and although I do not believe the same way in prayer that you do, I humbly accept the love and generosity and belief that impels you and others to pray for us.


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