9 Christmas Lessons from Toddlers and Puppies
Julie BarrierDr. Julie Barrier, along with her pastor-husband, Dr. Roger Barrier, have taught conferences on marriage and ministry in 35 countries. The Barriers are founders and directors of Preach It, Teach It www.preachitteachit.org, providing free resources in 10 languages to 5 million visitors in 229 countries. The Barriers pastored 35 years at Casas Church in Arizona, Julie has served as a worship minister, concert artist and adjunct professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. She has authored or composed of over 500 published works.
- 2015 Nov 30
Adorable babies and pets fill our Facebook pages and YouTube videos. They make us smile. This Christmas, learn from the little ones in your house and their furry friends.
Vets tell us that our canines have the emotional and intellectual capacity of two-year-olds. I beg to disagree. Toddlers are much dumber than dogs, and I have hard evidence to prove it. (Just kidding!) But we can learn from both of them. And should.
The average toddler spews strained spinach all over his Mom’s white blouse and smashes half-eaten graham crackers on the kitchen floor. They are often food-smeared, grimy and dingy, causing chaos in their wake. I drank bleach at two. Not my favorite drink...
Beauford, my daughter Bronwyn’s mini-doxie, is much tidier. He bolts anything down, edible or not. Nary a crumb is wasted. He licks his black coat until it shines and cries if he muddies his paws.
Spiritual babies soil their lives with careless choices and hidden sins, leaving a trail of broken relationships and messy consequences behind them.
Be clean. Confess your sins to God. Allow Him to wash your soul until it shines.
"But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness." 1 John 1:9 NLT.
Prissy Beauford always checks himself out when he saunters by a mirror. He loves what He sees! He will not rest his posterior until a fresh, warm, fluffy blankie is pulled out of the dryer to keep him warm. He knows what he wants: salmon for dinner! No plain kibble for him!
Two-year-olds whine incessantly. They hate their strained carrots. Naps are hell. Most of the time, Moms have no idea what they want or how to placate them. I loved singing at night. Mostly about 2:00 a.m.
Spiritual infants whine about circumstances and question God’s will.
Discover what God wants for you. Stop whining. Confidently learn who you are in His eyes.
"Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me." Psalm 25:4-5 NLT
Beauford is driven by his voracious appetite. Bronwyn dressed him in a red velvet Santa suit and dragged him to a preschool Christmas party. The poor pup was slapped around, tail-pulled and slobbered on by pesky kids. But resourceful Beau, in fire-hose fashion, lifted his leg and squirted any approaching child.
Bo-Bo now freely roamed the room unimpeded, scarfing leftover icing and sprinkles from the kiddies’ Christmas cookies. When Beauford’s pet human had her back turned, he concocted his evil plan. One toddler Mom had mistakenly placed her child’s hot dog on a chair near the food table. My daughter heard a loud “snarfing” noise in the direction of her devious dog. A putred fleshy orb protruded from his tiny piehole. In one quick yank, Bronwyn extracted a foot-long Oscar Meyer wiener from her pint-sized pooch. The half-masticated sausage was almost as big as his entire body. Bo-Bo collapsed on the pavement, gave Bron a grateful tail wag, and continued to devise a plan to get that lunch meat back down his gullet.
Toddlers grab, claw and fight over toys, scratching nearby siblings in the process. My sister and I decapitated every Barbie we had. There were never enough cookies. We had an insatiable appetite for forbidden fruit, whether it’s the magic cabinet that’s just above reach or the red-hot stove burner that looks so inviting. No wonder parents “child-proof” their homes!
We are wired to be sneaky. We all have a devious streak, a demanding sin nature that rears its ugly head at every opportunity.
Recognize that you are flawed. Exercise self-control. Depend on God’s power to overcome.
"When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us...But now we have died to it and are no longer captive to its power." Romans 7:5-6 NLT
My grandpuppy, like most celebrity rat dogs, has a unique sense of style. He sports Christmas pajamas replete with jingle bells and blinking lights. He also owns a reindeer costume with antlers (a mere $30!!! at Petco). I saw Beauford naked the other day and had to avert my eyes. He was equally mortified and dashed behind the couch to hide his shame. Beauford loves his outfits!
Two-year-olds consider clothing to be optional. In fact, they run away from any grownup that attempts to clothe them. Once attired, the little nippers take the most inopportune moments to disrobe-usually in a December snowstorm or in front of snooty Aunt Bernice sitting by the Christmas tree. Okay, I confess. It was me. I hated Pampers.
Don’t be naked! Clothe yourselves in God’s protection.
Paul tells us to wear clothes.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 NIV. He also warns us in Ephesians 6 to don our spiritual armor for protection from Satan.
Potty-training is a challenge “twofers” seldom conquer until the age of three, and in the case of boys, until high school. Buzzer bells, M & M’s and potty chairs seldom coax the little buggers to do their business. Mom said I couldn't go to preschool until I knew when and where to pee. Why couldn't I figure out what the big ivory bowl was for?
Beauford knows. It is a cooling drinking fountain on a warm day and a Jacuzzi when he is feeling a little verklempt. Yes, our little pooch knows he is supposed to go outside to poop, but if the weather is cold or rainy, he simply backs up to the dog door and sticks his booty just far enough out of the dog door to leave his little brown present. After all, he can’t get his Santa sweater wet.
Discipline and self-sacrifice are unknown to the immature Christian. We bend God’s Word to say what we want, we demand God answer our every whim.
Learn to wait on God and submit to His will, even if it costs.
"I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him" Psalm 62:1 NLT
Most toddlers slam into coffee tables corners, trip over Daddy’s shoes or run into walls. They crazily race around the house until face-planting with exhaustion. My Daddy tried to be Tarzan and jump off the roof with a knife in his teeth. I had my Dad's daredevil genes.
My grand-dachschund is much too wily and lazy for over-exertion. He demands that his owners carry him from place to place with two or more blankets and chew-toys in tow. To avoid leaping, scampering or sauntering like most pooches, Beauford prances up carpeted ramps leading up to his king size bed and favorite recliner. He is a dog of leisure. Yes, Bo-Bo has trained his humans well, by golly!
Our lives are lived to extremes. We either frantically, aimlessly race like toddlers or lazily lounge like our pets.
Are you stressed? Learn to lie in the lap of God’s presence. Are you unmotivated and apathetic? Let the Holy Spirit supercharge you with His passion and vision for you!
"Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act. Don't worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes." Psalm 37:7 NLT
"Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically." Romans 12:11 NLT
Why do we love our pets so? Perhaps we gaze into their whiskery little faces and see our reflections. The mischievous antics of our little ones remind us of our fallenness, and their zest for living reminds us of the exuberance and joy God intends.
Pups wag their tails with joy at the sight of their masters.
Worship with joy in God’s presence as you awaken each day.
Zephaniah 3:17 reads:
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing."
Take a moment to meditate on your “Owner,” your Creator and Father. Can you imagine the love of a God who sings over you? His Divine Dance for you will invigorate you! His protection and power can slow you down and give you peace.
Learn from our furry friends. Learn from our little ones. Enjoy God. Be content. Stop and feel the warmth of His presence.