As writers we often put too much pressure on big stuff like our pending novel and forget to pay attention to the smaller things in life- like a sweet little dog. I met Joseph at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference and he has agreed to share his story.
Seven months ago we adopted a dog named Stormy. Seven months ago I was at the tail end of Santa Claus Season (all caps are appropriate when you wear a red suit and impersonate Saints for a living 60 days a year,) and working frantically to edit a book that was entered in a contest. In addition, I worked full time at night. I was home and with the family long enough to say “Howdy” and then back to work every day. My wife is tolerant of this, knowing the greater goal is to break into being a novelist. This is just part of the cost – my absence and inattention to my family.
Somewhere along the line Stormy decided that I didn’t care much for her, when in fact I was madly in love with my new girl. Her predecessor had left a giant wound in my life when she I was in need of healing. My heart was broken and I could not figure out why this little creature didn’t care for me, but was nuts about my wife. Every night I prayed fervently that God would heal this little dog and let her be happy in my house. That he would let her forgive the people who had abandoned her and abused her in her previous life.
Things went forward and over the following months we did a mission trip to Haiti. Stormy was surprised to see us return. She’d been abandoned too often in her life and clearly didn’t expect us to come back to her. But her joy with me was short-lived. After a day or two she once again began avoiding me and refusing to make eye contact.
I left town again a month later to visit my mother. When I got back it was the same thing: excitement, joy, and then distance.
This past week my wife and I went to the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference. It was a wonderful trip and it was nice to be home again with my happy little dog. We got back at 10 at night and early the next morning I packed a bag and left for the hospital to have knee surgery. She looked disappointed as we left the house.
I came home that afternoon and haven’t left the house but once in the last five days. I was too sick and in too much pain to hobble far at all. I spent the day on the couch and the floor trying to get comfortable.
That’s when the miracle happened. The little dog who kept her distance for the last five months spent the entire day coming around for pets, tummy rubs, and gentle kisses on the head. She made eye contact all day long. I almost wept for joy – she was finally comfortable being in the same room with me.
It dawned on me that God had a message there in that little animal just for me: Be still. Quit thrashing around and being so busy with your jobs that you turn aside the love that I have provided for you. Sit where you are, open your heart, and be healed of your wounds.
It took a little Shetland Sheep dog to remind me that God has infinite love for me and he shows it in infinite ways if I will just be quiet long enough to listen. It wasn’t the dog that needed healing – it was me.
Joseph Courtemanche is a former Police Officer and certified Middle East, North Africa analyst. He is a distinguished veteran of the Naval Security Group of the United States Navy and is a former Arabic linguist. His linguistic and intelligence experience provide the background that’s crucial to his writing in the Action/Thriller genre. He is a graduate of The University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and holds degrees from two other colleges.
Joseph writes his novels from a Christian perspective with the gritty realism that modern readers demand. His as-yet-unpublished Assault on Saint Agnes won Second Place in the prestigious Athanatos Christian Ministries 2013 Christian Novel Contest. (Link http://christianwritingcontest.com/contest2013/2013-christian-novel-contest-winners/197.htm)
Joseph and his wife live in Saint Paul, Minnesota with their two Shetland Sheepdogs in an old Victorian home. He blogs several times a week at: http://www.commotioninthepews.com . His writing covers every topic from old music videos to current political events – all with a Christian world view. You can follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/josephcourtemancheauthor and his twitter feed is @joecourtemanche.
His writing motto is:
Biblical-Strength Heroes for a Modern World