For the past four years, Adi and I maintained a certain morning routine. We got up, ate, then settled on the chair near the front window. While Adi enjoyed a post breakfast snooze, I enjoyed an hour of quiet time with the Lord. That time was a balance of devotional reading, Bible reading, and journaling. By the time I had finished my cup of coffee, I could hear my husband getting up and ready for work, which meant it was soon time to wake the kids before clipping a leash on Adi’s collar and heading out for our morning walk.
This morning routine was interrupted when our puppy Summer arrived. She had no interest in settling down after breakfast. Who could blame her? With a good night’s sleep and a belly full of food, she was ready for a round of puppy play. So, Adi and I obliged.
My quiet time took a direct hit. At first, I tried to squeeze it in later in the day. No success. Next, I tried listening to podcasts by a favorite pastor. Only refereeing a puppy and adult Lab meant I missed much of what was said. Finally, I tried to exhaust Summer as quickly as possible. As soon as she fell asleep, I devoured a short devotional and brief portion of scripture before rushing off to get the household up and going.
As days turned into weeks, I could feel myself growing spiritually drier. It began to affect my relationship with the Lord. In turn, my ability to handle the bumps of the day with grace, minister to my family, and offer encouragement to others was also impacted.
“Help,” I cried to the Lord one morning. “I need to reclaim that first hour of the day for you. I know our dogs are a blessing from you. With Adi, you gave me the gift of a morning prayer walk. Open my eyes to see the gift You are giving through Summer.”
My first step was to introduce Summer to the concept of quiet time. After giving the dogs their morning meal, I began sitting on the area rug in the living room. Adi joins me first and curls up for a nap. Summer joins us a few minutes later. Once I have her settled on my other side with a chew toy, I can allow my non-morning person brain to wake up over some devotional readings and a cup of coffee.
About the time I’m ready for my scripture reading, Summer is getting restless. So, I rouse Adi, slip on shoes, and take the dogs outside. Adi situates herself as sentry at the top of the hill while Summer explores the yard. I downloaded the Bible app on my phone so I could read while shadowing Summer. Only reading and keeping an eye on a puppy don’t go hand in hand.
One morning a verse in my reading arrested my attention. I kept running the words through my mind as I played puppy fetch and supervised rounds of Labrador wrestle. I realized focusing on one verse worked much better than trying to read a lengthy passage. So, the next morning, I opened to that verse the moment I stepped outside and continued to meditate or chew on it. As I turned it over in my mind, I was reminded of a photograph I had taken of Adi looking out over a mountain just as the sun broke through the heavy clouds, showering rays of light down on the treetops. Later in the day, I pulled the photo up on my computer and added the verse. Typing it onto the picture only etched it deeper into my mind and heart. This would become the first of many photo-journaling entries that record the verses I have now memorized during those morning minutes shadowing Summer.
As days turned into weeks, I found my relationship with the Lord growing strong once again. He had heard my cry for help and answered. He knew that one of my weaknesses is sitting and memorizing scripture. He also knew that if He put me outside in His creation with a block of time where I could only focus on one verse , my scripture craving spirit would easily commit His Word to memory. Since paper, pens, and puppies don’t mix too well, He even provided a different method of journaling His Word. Through Summer, the Lord gave me the gift of time to indelibly write His Word on the tablet of my heart (Proverbs 3:3). He also taught me that He takes the interruptions of life and makes something new.
“See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”Isaiah 43:19
What new thing is the Lord doing in your life?
Later this month, I will share that first scripture photo. It will mark the beginning of something new on this blog. In addition to the “Lessons from a Lab” that are posted on the 1st of the month, I will begin sharing a scripture photo around the middle of the month. This new addition will hold true to the theme of my blog in that you will find a Labrador tucked into each picture. My hope in sharing my photo-journal is two-fold. First, that you will take a moment to chew on God’s Word. Second, that it will inspire you to create your own scripture photos.
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