Going to the Park as a Blind Mama

The first time I took my daughter to the park was intimidating. I knew she was big enough to start going in the swing, but it wasn’t her I was nervous about. I wasn’t terribly comfortable with the layout of the playground. What if I couldn’t find the baby swings? Would other parents be grabbing me and dragging me around the place if they saw me trying to get oriented? What if all the baby swings were taken? How would I know and wouldn’t it be really awkward if I just stood there close by, listening to determine whether they were occupied? What if the other parents talked to me? Or, what if none of the other parents wanted to talk to me? What if all the children were attracted to Prim and she couldn’t do her job because she was being distracted? 

I know it sounds dramatic, but my heart was racing along with my thoughts as I directed Prim to the gate of the playground and we made our way toward where I thought the swing set would be. As I suspected, parents did immediately notice me and offered help, but it wasn’t in the sort of aggressive way I was expecting. They just greeted me kindly and offered help if I needed it. I had an immediate sense of simultaneous panic and relief, something like, “Oh no! They are talking to me!”, while at once thinking, “Oh thank the Lord, they are talking to me”

One dad let me know that he and his child were using the swing closest to me, but that there was one available right next to them. I was endlessly thankful he had chosen merely to give me useful information about the location of an available swing, rather than seeing me close by and rushing to move himself and his child out of the way, which sometimes happens and always makes me feel terrible. We struck up a friendly conversation for a minute while we pushed our little ones in the swings side by side, and I started to breath. This going to the park thing wasn’t so bad after all.

Every time I have gone since, it has gotten easier and easier, and today was down right delightful. Little Miss thoroughly enjoyed her time in the swing, then walked and crawled about, happily observing the other children at their play, climbing the steps of the jungle gym, and obliging me as I put her on the slide a few times. One mother admired my daughter, remarking, “She’s gorgeous.” and we had a casual back and forth about our little girls, while two other mothers recognized me from a mums and tots group we have taken part in and we chatted amiably the whole time. 

Once a cause for anxiety, trips to the park are becoming more and more a blessing, and the glimpse of possible friendships developing from it is an even more unexpected bonus. Add to that Prim’s great work taking me right to the gate of the playground, and then the baby swings, and the incredible weather… and I’m just feeling really thankful for trips to the park with my two sweet girlies.

Too Good to be True?

“This is too good to be true.” 

I thought it the night my then boyfriend and I made our relationship official. I thought it at new years 2020 when we got engaged. I thought it on our wedding day. I thought it the moment I found myself in a hospital bed with our sleeping firstborn cuddled against my chest.

There are some things in life that prompt a kind of otherworldly happiness, a transcendent delight that seems somehow out of place compared to the rest of our human experience. That’s why so often we describe such things as “too good to be true”. We are natives to a world full of brokenness. Our expectation for existence itself is shaped by our rather uncomfortable familiarity with pain, disappointment, fear, guilt, grief, and conflict, among a host of other wrongnesses. It isn’t just romance that prompts such moments, but let’s use it as an example.

We are very aware that even the most amiable of earthly romances have not escaped the enevitable, tragic ending that all human relationships face, that is of separation in death. All earthly relationships, no matter how special or intense, come to an end. Even if two people proclaim their undying love for one another, and live it out, they themselves are not undying creatures, at least while they dwell on Earth. This is why we have tragic love stories, like those in the classic dramas or Shakespeare. With the existence of transcendent joys comes the potential, even inevitability of profound sorrow.

There’s something very wrong about that, though. The reason we have such phrases as “undying love” is precisely because we feel that love is something that should last, something eternal, something that doesn’t quite make sense in the context of a world full of betrayal and death. So, too good to be true? Yes, in one sense, it is. 

And yet, it is true. 

Perfect love stories untainted by sorrow are a thing only of fiction, but beautiful love stories do exist, and it begs the question why? 

I am from the eastern US, a place that at one point must have been completely forested, and even now is full of trees. I grew up walking wooded paths in all seasons, and always loved looking at the patches of sunshine that filtered through the canapy above, pooling in warm golden puddles on the forest floor. There was one particular place, a thick pine grove at the top of a steep rocky hill beside the Patapsco River, where even in brightest daytime it was always dark and full of shadows. The top of the trees had become so thick that the lower limbs were no longer living, and many of them had fallen onto the ground and tangled themselves into shrubs growing up between the trunks. The gnarled scaly branches seemed to reach out sometimes to snag clothes and hair, and crackled menacingly underfoot. 

It was not an inviting wood. I often imagined the sorts of dark-dwelling creatures that might be lurking in the underbrush. Those lovely pools of sunshine were very rare there, and were thus all the more precious to me. There, they weren’t just pretty, but a sign of hope, that light still existed somewhere beyond my gloomy surroundings. 

Things we call “too good to be true” can be like that. They point to something else, a world beyond our present reality that is full of goodness and light. As Christians, we call that place Heaven, and the source of the light is the king of Heaven, that is, Jesus. Our world is dark, and we in some ways only expect dark things because of that, but there are beautiful things because there is a beauty that exists eternally outside our realm of space and time. Like the sun glimmering through the branches of the trees, Jesus shines into our somber reality in every lovely or joyful thing we have on earth. 

So, too good to be true? No, only too good to be earthly, and it is a sign of God’s grace that we can see it. Even when the world was corrupted by our sin, God did not abandon us entirely to it. He preserves such good things out of his own goodness so that we can see him, and be lead to worship him. It is like Psalm 19, which says that the Heavens declare the glory of God. So it is that every otherworldly beauty beckons us to kneel in reverent awe of the one who made it, and when we rise to carry on, we have hope, knowing that they point to a time to come, when those things that seem “too good to be true” will be the only truth. The sun puddles of the forest will expand to engulf every bit of the wood, and there will be no more shadows. 

Prepping Your Small Living Space for the Arrival of a Baby

When my husband and I moved into our one bedroom, city apartment, we were not thinking about having children there. It was all the space we needed, just the two of us and our Labrador retriever, but adding another human into the mix was not something we thought about until we saw that second line on the pregnancy test. Ready or not here I come, baby seemed to be saying, and since moving wasn’t an option right away, we set to making room in our little home for our precious new addition.

Let me just say, it has not been easy. Our apartment felt crowded before, just with our own belongings, clothes, computers, kitchen supplies, and music equipment, but we’ve found a few things to help us make it work.

1. Abandon the conventional 

We do not have room for a dresser, and our wardrobe has limited space. Finding places for our own underclothes and pajamas, for example, was a challenge to begin with. We started by storing our underclothes in baskets beneath our nightstands, but I found that baskets can be horrible for storing clothes, because it just ends up in a massive tangled pile. I made dividers using cardboard and fabric to organize the contents of our baskets, and the system works well enough for us. Now, baby has her own set of baskets with dividers, too.

2. Utilize vertical space 

Shelves, Closet hangers, and wall and door hooks are all excellent options for organizing your small space. That said, if you are living in rented accommodation, sometimes you are limited as to what will work for you in this category. Such things as free-standing shelves or coat hangers may make good use of a corner, while pocket organizers or hanging shoe organizers may maximize storage in a closet or on a door. I use pocket organizers on our wardrobe door to store various small items, like baby’s hats, socks, booties, and bibs.

3. Allocate extra uses for otherwise one purpose spaces 

My friend suggested putting our laundry basket in the shower. This won’t work for us, as the laundry bin we have is fabric and would be destroyed if we did that, but if you have a plastic laundry bin, the shower is a great place to store things when not in use. You can also store cookie sheets in the oven (but whatever you do DO NOT store anything that is not oven safe in the oven. I had a roommate do this once without notifying me, and the result was melted plastic and a fire in our oven.

4. Don’t underestimate the space available under the bed 

Under the bed is a fantastic location for baskets, rolling storage containers, suit cases, and random items that you do not need to access regularly. Use the hardest-to-get-to places, such as the middle area or under the head of your bed, to store things that you don’t often need, and use the edges for things you use daily. I have a line of baskets beneath the foot of our bed that I can pull out throughout the day to access baby clothes and cloth diapers, and find that it works very well. If you don’t have much space under your bed, consider getting risers to lift it a few inches higher and give you more room to tuck things beneath.

5. Declutter! 

I didn’t know how wonderful it can be to get rid of unnecessary stuff until I moved into such a small space. Finding things I can donate or throw away is like finding buried treasure for me now days. Along with this is avoiding collecting more things than you need (I’m preaching to myself here!). Babies really don’t need as much stuff as the industry would have you believe. If you’re making a baby registry, add only the essentials, and leave out anything that seems gratuitous. You will thank yourself later when there are less things to put away.

6. Rearrange the furniture 

Sometimes we take it for granted that whatever layout we currently have is the best one, but moving things around may offer just the opportunity you need to make better use of the space you have. We decided to move our bed into the corner when we brought our baby’s cot into our room, and it’s been a great improvement.

7 Identify spaces that could be put to better use 

Got a narrow open area between the toilet and the wall? You may be able to find a shelf to fit. Got a suitcase stored under the bed that’s currently empty? Find something you can put inside of it. Maybe you have some room on top of the fridge or microwave that could be useful. Look around your home and find places that could serve you better in terms of storage, perhaps with the addition of a shelf, basket, or hook.

8 Identify specific places for particular things 

Life in a tiny apartment can feel chaotic, and unfortunately, that can get a whole lot worse with the arrival of a baby (envision me frantically digging through a drawer while my newborn is screaming in the background). Sometimes I feel like no matter how hard I try to organize things, everything just ends up in random piles. Combat this problem by naming specific spots for particular items… a basket for hats, a shelf for books, a drawer for baby towels and burp cloths, etc. This is something we are still working on, but I think once we have found a system that works, it will be a great help! That said, it is important to discuss whatever you do with the other members of your household. For some, it may be important to label these areas clearly so that they can remember what goes where. Some may prefer a highly detailed system of organization, whereas others may find that it is best just to have a general area for a certain category of things, and not worry so much about the actual organization of that area itself.

No matter what changes you decide to implement in your home before the arrival of your little one, remember that organization is meant to be a help to you, not a cause for stress or anxiety. If you are struggling to make your space work for you, be patient with yourself, and don’t be afraid to enlist the help of friends or family members. Making such changes is definitely worth it if it means less time frustrated over a chaotic home environment, and more time with your baby. Still, it doesn’t have to happen all at once, and if it doesn’t happen at all, it will be okay! As I mentioned, our space frequently feels chaotic to me even with our organization efforts, but I am trying to remind myself that at the end of the day, life is more than tidy bedrooms or dishes tucked away in cupboards. Sometimes we just need to breath in the sweet times with loved ones and thank the Lord for having a home to live in and be messy with them.

Are there other things you would add to this list? What have you done to make a small space work for you and your family? Let me know! See you next time!

Learning Hospitality

With four people and one dog living in our little 1 bed apartment for the last month, life has felt quite full recently. Full, like a cup of hot tea that you have to balance just perfectly, or else burn your hands. Full, like a vas bursting with vibrant blooms. Full, like a car packed tight with traveling things, straps dangling out the doors and just barely enough room to see out the back. Full, like the feeling after a much needed meal, with the pleasant warmth of it heavy in your belly, and the taste still in your mouth. 

We have been challenged in it. More often than not, it felt like a grand Game of human Tetris, as we squeezed by one another in the kitchen, or tripped over one another in the sitting room. Logistics were a constant balancing act, with three adults in the house, but only two sets of keys and no buzzer on the front door of the apartment building. Plans had to be discussed carefully. Phones kept charged. Responsibilities carefully delegated and schedules organized so that everyone could access what they needed at the time they needed it. 

It was a challenge spiritually, finding that when our routine was interrupted we were much less likely to spend the time we needed to with God. It was tricky sometimes emotionally, with lack of space or privacy for all of us, always needing to and often failing to make proper concessions for the other people around us to be cared for. 

It was a challenge as parents of an infant. If she didn’t sleep, would our guests be kept up as well? If she was cranky during the day, would our guests be stressed? 

There were more elements to consider, too, when unexpected things happened. For example, one night our dog woke up one of our guests throwing up. That’s not a fun situation to deal with when it’s just you being woken up, let alone your poor sweet jet-lagged friend who traveled thousands of miles to see you and now is sleeping on your couch. Our tiny, old living space is not the most comfortable spot at the best of times, but now, we were constantly reminded just how unideal it was because we were conscious of the way it might be affecting our friends. Were they too cold? That draft coming in our window is awful. Could they relax in the shower we cannot get properly clean for the life of us? Did they mind how awkward it was to eat meals without a table? Goodness, if only our tiny kitchen had a place to sit. They must be so uncomfortable having to stand in the kitchen, like I do every evening, as my child sleeps in the bedroom and my husband finishes his evening shift in the sitting room.

So yes, we were challenged, but we were also blessed beyond measure, and are more aware than ever of the graciousness of our God who alone can be credited for the gift it is to live somewhere safe and warm, with family and friends that may as well be family close at hand. For all the trickiness that has been involved with our living situation over the last 4 or 5 weeks, we have delighted in laughter together, lovely meals and conversation, time for our guests to enjoy and get to know our daughter, movie nights, wine nights, prayer and Bible time, walks and wanders outdoors, and shared responsibilities around the home.

As thankful as we were to find accommodation a month before we got married, my husband and I (admittedly mostly I) have spent a good deal of the last two years living here complaining about all it’s inconveniences… too small, no table, no tub, moldy, broken appliances… the list goes on, but we have found recently that as God has challenged us to be hospitable even in our small inconvenient space, we have seen his blessing in it multiply greatly. A roof over our heads, indeed, but a place where we can love and provide for dear friends? A place where we can host family? A place where we can give of ourselves, our time, money, and effort to others… a place where the Gospel can be discussed, where, we pray, Christ can be glorified? Wow. That is true blessing. I hope he will do as much and far more in our next home. 

Increasing Productivity as a Recovering Master Procrastinator

I got suckered by a Facebook ad yesterday. It was a somewhat intriguing article about someone’s journey freeing themselves from the shackles of chronic debilitating procrastination. At the end of the article was an invitation to take a free quiz to learn what kind of procrastinator you might be, and get a plan to defeat it. Against my better judgement, I clicked the link and took the quiz. 

As I suspected, it was a useless waste of time, because I had to pay for my results, which I refused to do, but it did get me thinking. How on earth will I ever quit my habit of procrastination? It is a vice that has troubled me as long as I can remember, and I can only say I’ve made any significant progress in curbing the habit in the last year or so. The fact that I am writing this right now is proof that I am not as beholden to my habit of procrastinating as I once was, however, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Here are a couple of thoughts that have recently occurred to me in the pursuit of that elusive goal.

I first considered when I am already successful as a non-procrastinator. Are there already times when I refuse to allow myself to say, “I’ll do that later.’? The answer is yes, of course there are. I am a mother. That means any of my child’s immediate needs always take precedence over my preferences, indecision, anxiety, laziness, or whatever the cause of my desire to procrastinate may be. I just have to do, and resolutely ignore any part of me that protests that I would rather do it tomorrow. This is true of any situation wherein I find that I am not tempted, or at least can resist the temptation, to delay the task at hand. I make a conscious decision to prioritize the thing in question, and choose to do it whether I want to or not.

So what does this tell me about the situations where I am not successful in resisting the urge to put things off? It tells me that when I procrastinate, it is either because I have:

A. Not made a conscious decision to prioritize the task

B. Have not consciously considered the consequences if I do not complete the task, and or

C. I have become distracted by my feelings surrounding the task and have irrationally allowed those emotions to dictate my behavior.

There have been times that I have felt powerless to break the hold that procrastination has had on my life thus far, but identifying these causal factors, and noticing places in my day-to-day routine where I already regularly resist the tendency gives me great hope. If I can begin to identify the moments when I think, “I’ll do that later”, I know that I can redirect my thoughts to consider why I want to delay the task, and, if appropriate, choose to instead prioritize and complete it, just as I do with duties related to mothering. 

I know all of this sounds very simple, and it is, but I think the reason that it is a revelation to me now is because procrastination for me has never been a very thoughtful thing. It has always been a sort of knee-jerk reaction, or gag reflex. Something came to my attention that I needed or wanted to do, I thought, “I’ll do that later”, and that was the end of that. The pattern is so familiar that many times I hardly even notice the thought at all. The thing just gets pushed to a later time, and I get annoyed with myself when I realize I still haven’t gotten around to doing whatever the thing is I could have already done. It sounds stupid but “catching myself in the act” so to speak is a new sort of skill, and the opportunity to develop it further is an exciting prospect to me. Here’s to ever increasing timely action and efficiency.

A Dwelling Place for Eternal Beings: Learning About Contentment in a Season of Searching

They say moving is one of the most stressful life events you can experience. I always thought that was because of the effort of physically dragging all your belongings from one place to another, and then finding yourself in a place where you may not have the same social circle you are used to and feel out of place and disorganized. Having actually moved several times since then,, though, I personally think the hardest thing about moving is all the stuff that happens before you actually start packing, that is, the house hunt. 

We’ve been on the house hunt for half a year now. I’ve found it incredibly challenging for a couple of reasons. I suppose there are the obvious difficulties, of identifying houses that fit your criteria, establishing that they are available and within your budget, visiting them, and potentially making an offer, but then there is the emotional element.

Every house we visit that seems viable, I start imagining. I envision our baby growing up there. I think about the things we might change, the furniture or decorations we might use, what we might do with the garden or shed, the opportunities we might have there to be a blessing to our church family or neighbors through hospitality. With each house, a new set of dreams is born, and each time we have to move on from that house, for one reason or another, those dreams have to die. 

As those dreams come and go, I find that I struggle more and more with contentment in our current situation. I visit a house and see that we could have a kitchen table, a bathtub, a garden, a sitting room big enough to have company, room for our daughter to crawl and toddle safely, storage (blessed, blessed storage space), etc, and naturally I am reminded that we don’t have those things right now, and it could be a while until we do. The emotions rise then, frustration, fear, doubt, and I have to reevaluate. What is really important here? Is it the convenience of a kitchen table, or the luxury of a bathtub, or is it something else? 

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Phil 4:11-12).

My husband works weekdays from our sitting room, which means my dog, my daughter, and I spend our days in our bedroom and postage stamp kitchen. Baby plays with her toys on the bed, or, if I have cooking or cleaning to do, she sits in her bouncer or plays on her mat (which covers pretty much our entire kitchen floor hahaha), and I scoot awkwardly around her to do my chores. It’s times like these that I think, man, it would be great to not have to trip over my baby in order to do my laundry.”

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:16, ESV)

It was in one of these moments that the Lord stopped me in my tracks. I listened to my baby cooing as I stepped carefully around her on her mat, and was tempted as usual to dwell resentfully on the lack of space, but instead all I could think about was her. Suddenly I saw her, not just as my sweet little baby, but as an eternal soul. Her days were already laid out for her by the all-powerful God that made her, days that I was living with her even now. God planned that she should be playing on her mat in our tiny old apartment, and that I should be singing to her while I shuffled around her to do dishes and fold clothes. God planned that I should be her mother, and my husband her father, and my dog her canine pal. God planned that we should raise her up to know and love him, to teach her his ways, and God willing to prepare her for an eternity spent worshipping him in glorious daily activity in the new Heaven and new Earth. 

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

Joy filled my heart at that thought. I didn’t have to have a kitchen table to teach my little girl about Jesus, or to model his love to her every day. I didn’t need a bath tub to tell her what it means to be a sinner in need of forgiveness, or to share the Good News that Jesus took the wrath that we deserved and that we may have everlasting life in him.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)

When I think about our apartment in the context of worldly standards, it is just a drafty, old matchbox, but when viewed in the context of eternity, it becomes a sanctum of holy joys, a place where God can be served and praised and delighted in, a place that may not be suited to comfortable dining, or entertaining any number of guests, but that is perfectly suited to entertaining the Holy Spirit, and all the work he has for us here and now as he intended from eternity past. I still look forward to moving, and I think we will still struggle from time to time with contentment regarding our housing, but I pray that every time my thoughts stray toward dissatisfaction, God would remind me once again of the incredible blessing it is to have his sovereign hand at work in our lives. Now is not a wasted season spent searching for a home while we are trapped in a cold and inconvenient living space. Now is a season that God has planned to prepare myself, my husband, and my baby for an eternity spent in the house of our Father. There is no house hunt more important than the one that ends there.

Transferring Guide Dog Schools?

 I am a proud guide dog user, and a proud graduate of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, based in Yorktown Heights, New York. Both of my beautiful black labradors were bred, raised, and trained through GEB. I got wonderful post-graduate support from my trainers there, and expected to continue attending for successor dogs for the rest of my guide dog working life, and then I moved internationally. 

As far as I can tell, Guiding Eyes would still be willing to work with me as someone that has already worked with them twice. I actually already did meet up with my trainer about a month after I moved here (she just happened to be coming on vacation and stopped by to check in with us ha. That’s definitely commitment), but there are complications when I need post graduate support, with the distance being so great. Thus, I am considering transferring to my local guide dog school. 

In some ways, I am quite bewildered by this idea, because I have loved my experience with Guiding Eyes so much, and even more so as a returning graduate. It is lovely to have that connection with trainers and staff, and have that whirlwind catch up session any time you have a field visit or go back for a successor dog. If I carried on going there for every one of my guide dogs, there could be staff there when I am fifty that were there when I was sixteen. In that way, it is a very special relationship that I do not want to relinquish too easily. That said, I am also a naturally very curious person, and would be interested to observe the various differences between the two schools by pursuing follow up support and training with my local school… that in addition to the minor factor that they are not located an ocean away, which does make any necessary extra support a bit easier to organize.

So, it is my local school that will be delivering a follow-up visit with Prim and I tomorrow, and I am looking forward to the process. I am hoping to get a couple of things out of the visit.

1 Work on impulse control.

now that Prim is not only responsible for my safety, but also my baby’s, I am much more conscious of the way food and dog distractions can be dangerous, even life threatening. We had a frightening experience not too long ago, which I will write about another time, that convinced me this is an area that needs a bit of work for us as a team.

If I were to work with a Guiding Eyes instructor on dog distraction, I would expect them to encourage me to use a combination of leash corrections and counter conditioning (rewarding Prim for looking at me rather than looking at the other dog). I would anticipate possibly some use of the touch command, which I have described in another post, and other obedience exercises in the presence of other dogs. I assume the trainer tomorrow will expect that my training may be slightly different to that of his school, but I hope he will describe what he would personally do to work on this. It can be so helpful to hear other perspectives, more tools in your tool box and all that.

2 Work on a challenging route.

Most of my daily routes are not all that complex, and the truly complex one is sadly a long enough walk that I think it would be a bit unmanageable to do with the trainer, but there is one I can think of that I have never quite gotten a firm handle on, and that seems always to be a bit of a struggle for Prim in the distraction department.

3 Obtain a harness from the local school.

This feels a little strange to do, because Prim was trained by Guiding Eyes, and represents them, to the extent that a dog can represent an organization, when she puts on the harness with their name stamped into the leather, but I have requested whether we could be issued a harness from our local school, as recent events have revealed that the GEB harness is much, much different from the one people expect to see here, and that has caused problems more than a couple of times.

The only major snag in all this is that my childcare plan got derailed last minute, which means baby has to be there while we work on all this. How will all this go? I have no idea… but I shall update here with any relevant thoughts.

If I Could Name All the Guide Dog Puppies | A List of Names Beginning with G

It’s 2022, and so far as yet this year you have not heard any of my puppy name ideas, and that is an absolute travesty. I know that you have been waiting eagerly, the way my dog is currently waiting for her dinner, that is, drooling and dancing around my feet while I try to get other things done. Calm yourselves then, sit, good readers, sit and listen, for I have a whole list of G names for you to enjoy.

Guppy (Masculine, or neutral?): I always thought this was just a nickname for a baby fish, but apparently it is an actual type of fish, the most popular sort of fresh water tank fish, also called a rainbow fish. How cute would it be to call them Guppy Puppy?!

Geansí (Neutral): pronounced Gan-Zee. This means jumper in Irish, as in sweater, and it sounds ridiculous to call your dog Jumper or Sweater, but for some reason the same word in Irish is my top name for a big fluffy doggie if we ever got a second one.

Gabbro (Masculine): a crystalline, blue tinged rock. Reminds me of Gabriel in sound.

Gaither (Masculine): a second name name, but also apparently a Scottish variant of the word gather… go figure.

Gala (Feminine): a fancy party, but could be a fancy puppy.

Galaxy (Feminine): a name for the puppy with stars in her eyes. 

Gallagher (Masculine): Irish, meaning “eager helper”.

Galahad (Masculine): English, meaning pure or selfless.

Godric (Masculine): Old English, meaning God’s power. Notably the first name of the founder of the Gryffindor house in the Harry Potter series.

Gulliver (Masculine): as in Gulliver’s travels, which I have not read, but reminds me of Oliver without being quite so common place.

Gondor (Masculine): here’s our LOTR reference for this list… the greatest kingdom of men in Middle Earth.

Gossamer (Feminine): as in light, delicate, gossamer wings.

Glimmer (Feminine): a glimmer of hope, the glimmer of starlight on the surface of the water. I like it.

Gazelle (Feminine): another lovely delicate choice for a sweet girl.

Galatia (Feminine): a region in the ancient world that eventually became part of the Roman empire, Saint Paul wrote a letter to the Galatians, now a book in the New Testament. Definitely worth a read, by the by.

Galen (Masculine): 129–199, a Greek physician that advanced the field of both anatomy and physiology, and also a cool name. 

Galena (Feminine): a dark-colored mineral.

Galway (Masculine): a town on the west coast of Ireland known for its bay and talented street musicians.

Gardenia (Feminine): a bush or tree native in warm areas with fragrant, yellow or white blooms.

Gecko (Neutral): as in the lizard, known for being very vocal and active at night. If you’ve read my lists, you know me and naming dogs with other animal names. I just can’t help myself at this point.

Genoa (Feminine): a city in Italy, and also the name of one of my friend’s guide dogs and I thought it was pretty.

Well, are you satisfied? What would your picks be for a litter full of G puppies?

For more puppy names, you can find all my ideas in the “Guide Dog” tab of my blog, or find my list of A names here to start at the very beginning.

Give Me the Will of a Woman

It’s 2022… and you know what that means.

More posts at random intervals on semi-arbitrary topics written purely for the enjoyment of the process you say? Ha, wrong again… well, I mean probably right but first…

It means it’s time for another poetic reflection. The Lord taught me many things over the last year, and one of those things has been my desperate need for Him to reform my desires, to cause me “both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13, ESV). This is my prayer for this year, that he would continue that refining process, changing my affections to reflect His, that I would hunger less after the things of this world and more for the things of His kingdom. I pray that he would do the same for you, and hope that you had a blessed Christmas and New Years.

I Need the Will of a Woman

I need the will of a woman,
Not the will of a wisp.
I need the want and the strength to do, like Ruth did, 
The thing I’m called to.


I need the Word, sung and sewn in my heart by the “Great Gardener”,
Who will change my will.
Would that he would. 
Would HE so that I could 
Walk on The Way that is narrow,
And plant the seeds he has placed in my hand.
My shepherd knows all of my faults.
He knows that I strive and fumble and fall.
He knows my will is the worst of them all,
And it is a wisp.
It is a whim that blows only one way,
And that only against.
It tantalizes, teases, whispers delights,
But they are always fleeting,
And always come at the price 
of blood.
I need the will of a woman like Mary.
“Let it be unto me as YOU have said.”
And let my will be dead.
Let my will be yours, And your will be done.
Give me the will of a woman.
Like Lydia who with her whole household sunk
Beneath the water and then rose up,
And left her old desires there in the sea,
To follow her Jesus to the cross,
To count every other thing as lost…
For the sake of Christ,
May He renew my mind,
And give me
The will of a woman of GOd.

If I Could Name All the Guide Dog Puppies | A List of Names Beginning with F

We’ve gotten a few puppy name posts in this year, but we have time for at least a couple more! Looking for a name for a service dog or just a pet in general? Here’s a list of ideas beginning with the letter F. You can find my other lists, A through E, in the Guide Dog section of my blog.

Fauna (Feminine): the companion name to flora. I thought about using Fawn but I actually like the A ending here and I think it adds something to the name… namely, an “Ah” sound. Haha.

Fiorella (F): Italian, meaning little flower. 

Feodora (F): Similar in sound, but a version of Theadora that apparently derives from Spain. Also means, “One who trusts another.”

Freesia (F): a flower that represents thoughtfulness, liberty, friendship, and innocence 

Frodo (Masculine): I’m always bringing up the LOTR names, but really, how cute!

Frost (Neutral): perfect for a pup with a winter birthday.

Francie (F): One of Prim’s canine pals has this name and I think it’s adorable, though I am not sure exactly where it comes from. 

Ferrari (M): as in the car. Particularly for guide dogs, I think car names are fun because they are your aid to transportation.

Flossie (F): a short form of Florence, this name has a vintage feel, but is not that common for people at the moment so seems like a name that could work well for a dog also.

Finian (M): Finian’s Wake, Finian’s Rainbow, deriving from an Irish name meaning “fair” 

Frisco (M): I suppose this is a masculine name, although I had a Beanie Baby called this as a child that I always referred to as a girl, so take your pick.

Fabian (M): Latin, meaning “Bean grower”.

Fiesta (F): the best title for a dog who is a total party animal.

Foley (M): for anyone who has read Artemis Fowl, this was one of my favorite characters from the series. It is also a sirname and the word used for sound effects created artificially for movies and radio.

Friar (M): we’ve had Abbot, Bishop, and Chapel on previous lists. This is another religious order name. I think of Friar Tuck from Robin Hood a jolly brother, but evidently also a fierce fighter.

Do you have a favorite F name? Let me know, and check out my other name lists for more ideas.—