At the end of January we welcomed a ten-week-old puppy into our home, two weeks after the death of our older dog. I’d had a bad case of puppy fever for months but wanted to make sure I was mentally and physically prepared for the work and training that would be involved. Although we’ve cared for eight newborn babies, River is our first puppy.
Before we got her, I imagined our biggest worry would be sleep deprivation and that our precious pup would interrupt our rest multiple times per night with whimpering and potty breaks, but that only happened once. Our girl sleeps through the night like a champ!
While our nights are more restful than we expected, my days are lived at a level of vigilance I haven’t seen since our children were toddlers. River is either in my lap trying to chew my hands, my clothes, or whatever else she can reach underfoot or out of sight and is potentially up to no good. Some days, I’m so exhausted I wrap her up in a blanket, and we take an afternoon nap together on the couch. It’s amazing how little I accomplish these days.
In our pre-pup days, I studied a Bible verse during breakfast, summarized what I read in a journal, wrote out a meaningful verse in a second journal, and then read a short devotional from an additional book. This quiet time in God’s Word set the foundation for my day.
After multiple mornings when I spent more time removing River’s teeth from the ribbon bookmark hanging from my Bible than actually reading the Bible itself, I gave up on my usual routine temporarily. But I missed that dedicated time in God’s Word. Recently, when I started feeling a little overwhelmed and spiritually disconnected, I realized my personal worship might need to look a little different for a while.
I intentionally decided to focus more on music, which is easier than carving out a dedicated quiet time for Bible study while training an unpredictable, exuberant, and also adorable puppy. Songs written by man can’t substitute for the divinely inspired Word of God, but the Bible tells us we can — and should — sing His praises:
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Psalm 100:1-2 (KJV)
The psalmists wrote songs to praise God and in remembrance of miracles from biblical times, like the parting of the Red Sea. Today, songwriters continue to praise Him with lyrics relatable to modern audiences, and many contain lines or phrases taken directly from Scripture. Songs from artists, like Lauren Daigle and Need to Breathe, help focus my mind on God.
And with how much time outdoors I now spend with this puppy, I am seeing with fresh eyes how even creation sings. Because the world is new to River, she’s distracted by singing birds, scampering squirrels, the sounds of barking dogs and honking horns. And it’s helped me to see familiar things with new eyes too: how moss looks more vibrant in the winter, where the water pools into puddles when it rains, how the perennial plants are starting to poke up through the soil.
I gravitate towards shafts of sunlight on chilly afternoons while I watch and wait for her to go potty. The warmth feels good as I turn my face towards it, whispering words of gratitude. Creation sings in harmony with the robins in my backyard, and taking time to appreciate the beauty of the natural world helps me focus on the One who made it.
Sometimes circumstances throw our regular routines right out the window, and we have to adapt. But if we seek God, we will find Him.
I know this period of puppy training won’t last forever. In a few months, I’ll hopefully have a housebroken dog and resume my usual morning routine. For now, I’ll focus on worshipping the Lord through song, raising my hands and voice in thankfulness for His faithfulness, and I’ll revel in the beauty of His creation, where He so clearly speaks to me.
Do you have a regular routine for personal worship? How have you changed it to adapt to a specific season of your life?