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An Alaskan Christmas Story

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Americans need a good dose of Christmas.

As a nation, we are desperately lost, emotionally broken, spiritually deprived and headed for the same fate our “unadoptable” Alaskan husky dog was before my husband and I welcomed her into our home.

It’s been four years since we adopted Kenai, a skeletal ball of nerves wrapped in cinnamon colored fur with spotty white “socks.”  Obviously abused, she had zero trust in humans and no confidence in herself. Animal control officers almost deemed her unadoptable.

She was literally scared of her shadow, fearing door entryways and basically everything inside our home, including us. She parked herself on our new chair in the living room corner. For three months she ate, drank and napped when she wasn’t staring at us and only left her perch when we’d take her outside to walk and potty.

One cold and snowy winter night with near zero visibility, we feared this one-sided love affair had come to an end when she got away and bolted up and around our mountain. The more we called, chased and searched, the deeper into the woods and higher she climbed. Though we were forced to give up our search for the night, we refused to give up hope.

Miraculously, she found her way back to our yard in the wee hours of an Alaska winter morning’s deep darkness. Despite our loving calls, she was afraid to come inside until we came up with a far-fetched idea to coax her inside walking our tiny terrier nicknamed “the rabbit killer” (for reasons not worthy of this column) on a leash nearby in hopes that she would follow.

She did.

Although we loved Kenai deeply and wanted desperately for her to come inside, we were at a complete loss on how to effectively communicate that message. Kenai needed an intermediary. A conciliator. A go-between. In our terrier, Kenai found a canine compatriot to communicate “There’s nothing to fear, come near, welcome home” in a way she could understand.

Four years later, Kenai’s doing great. She’ll always be a little quirky, and full-blown crazy sometimes if something snaps in her head and sets her off. She’s slowly learning to do normal things like eat her food on the floor and play with toys if no one is watching.  She loves to go for rides, begs for us to pet her, and even dares to bark now, with the cutest, most feminine and sweet bark you’ve ever heard.

We added another sled dog to our pack, a well-balanced rescue that came with an amazing story all his own that I’ll share one day when the time is right. He’s rubbing off on Kenai in all the right ways. As for our terrier, well, she’s moved on from rabbits to shrews. I guess we should be grateful.

With happy ears and a look of contentment on her face, Kenai’s resting in her now-worn out leather chair as I write.  I think back to that winter morning years ago and the extremely loved shell of a dog curled up in that chair. I realize I learned something big about God’s love that day. An Alaskan Christmas story all my own.

God sought us before we knew Him, reached out to us before we trusted Him and loved us before we knew how to love him back.   He sent someone like us…an intermediary...Jesus, to communicate his message in a way we could understand. Through Jesus’ birth, eventual death, and resurrection, we come to understand (as much as is humanly possible) that God’s love for us is so deep and wide and high that we cannot escape his notice – even when we try.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

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