In the midst of our grief, I press-in to what’s true:

God is always good. He makes beauty from ashes. He loves and forgives, then loves and forgives again. And again. And again.

Jesus knows pain. He knows grief. He knows about situations you can’t change. He knows the sadness of death.

The other day as I was reflecting on the life of sweet Ellie, the question of what I learned from this silly clown of a yellow Labrador emerged.

Ellie’s life was simple. She ate. She played. She slept. Eat. Play. Sleep.

cropped Ellie and Spence in the snow


We’ll talk about the eating and sleeping part next week – but for today, let’s talk “play” . . .

There was nothing, NOTHING more enticing to Ellie Rose than a good throw of the tennis ball. Of course, all retrievers love this but Ellie lived to play.

When she was a puppy, I would take her to the Broad Ripple Bark Park in Indianapolis and she would flip every dog’s water bowl into the dirt, creating a big mud pool that was perfect for a wrestling tournament.

The dogs loved it. The owners? Not so much.


 (This photo was after I hosed her down…)

She made quite a name for herself. In fact, my friend Amy left a comment last week referring to the muddy mess she was during that time.

She also didn’t care to waste precious play time messing around with all that dominance stuff. As soon as Ellie charged through the gate and united with her pack of friends, she dropped to her back to show she would submit – she didn’t care to be dominant because who cares about that stuff anyway?

There’s playing to be done and play time is joy time. Pure, relentless, exhilarating joy time.

Don’t we all need to spend more time playing?

Sure, the lives of Labradors don’t include earning a living or paying bills. Labs don’t have to deal with dysfunctional family stuff and they don’t get snippy when they’re tired because if they’re tired, they simply take a nap.

However, maybe we could take a cue from the simplicity of a dog’s life.

There might be dishes in the sink and laundry to be done (isn’t there always?) and floors to clean. There might be deadlines and appointments and plans we can’t break.

But sometimes I wonder if my children will remember a clean house or a joyful mom.


I don’t want my children to remember how hard I worked as though it was too much of a burden to have a family. I don’t want them to recall exhausted moments and sighs. I don’t want them to ever get the message they’re just too much. Too much work. Too much responsibility. Too much distraction.

And yes, we can’t always wade in the creek and play Uno twenty thousands times a day but we can at least once a day, right?

When we stop and breathe in this beautiful life, we breathe out distraction. When we watch what’s real, we can better discern what’s fake. And when we hear the giggles of true joy, we deafen the voices that tell us lies.

stop and breath pin

Play time is joy time. And joy time is the best time.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord.

– Psalm 96:11-13

How can you play this weekend, friends?

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