It feels good to be back at my desk sharing my thoughts with you in a blog. It’s been too long since I have done that. If you remember, I decided to take a pause this Lent from my writing. It was a favor to myself and to you.  I know I can get really overwhelmed by adding too many new things to my daily Lenten rituals. I try to read too many daily reflections, listen to too many inspirational podcasts on top of ramping up my prayer time and depriving myself of something. A few days into Lent, and I am ready to give up.

This Lent I paused. I let go of the need to be productive. I let go of the need to “do” Lent right. That is to do Lent as I had always done it in the past. I opened myself up to something different. I asked God to show me how to “do” this Lent. What did He want me to do? What did He not want me to do? How could I make the best use of these weeks to prepare myself to be open to the new life He had in store for me come Easter Sunday?

In answer to my request, He sent me Nellie. (See the picture above.)

My friend, Janie, needed someone to watch her middle-aged hound mix, Nellie, for a few days. All the dogs I have had in my adult life were hounds. I am a sucker for their human-like eyes and beautiful coloring. I eagerly offered my services.

It didn’t take long to realize Nellie had some life lessons to teach me. She taught me the importance of rest. She slowed me down. I found myself just wanting to pet her every time I walked through the room she was in. As I spent more and more time on the floor with her, I began to feel such calm and peace.

She taught me that sometimes the best way to get someone’s attention is to just stay close. You don’t have to say a word. Your mere presence can speak volumes. Nellie would sit herself down next to my husband’s recliner and just patiently wait for him to notice her. He always did and eventually she got just what she wanted – some love and attention. I’m working on this one. I haven’t mastered it yet.

Nellie also taught me that it’s ok to have treats throughout the day, even during Lent. And especially after a long walk. Life is too short to go without treats.

These were important life lessons for me to learn, but the most impactful thing I learned from living with Nellie was something much deeper, something essential to spiritual growth. She showed me what it means to abide.  

To abide is to dwell, remain, be present, be held and kept. To stay.

Jesus reminds us of the importance of abiding in Him in Scripture. The only way to truly live this life as God meant it to be lived is to abide in Him. To grow in trust so to be able to know the peace that comes from staying close to God. Surrendering and letting ourselves be held and kept. To not let anything tear us away from the Giver of all that we need.

Nellie was my role model for how to abide. She silently remained close at all times. She would follow me from room to room wanting always to be in close proximity to me. When I went outside for a minute, she was at the door watching and waiting for me to come back. She would literally lean on me when she wanted attention. She felt at ease and at peace when I was near.

I love the unexpected and fun ways that God answers our prayers. He honored my desire to make this Lent special and different. He told me how he wanted me to “do “this Lent. He wanted me to simply abide in Him. Lean on Him. Stay closer than ever. If I learned to do that, I would know the new life of ease and peace that comes with abiding. He wants that so badly for all of us.

He showed me how to do that with one of my favorite things, a hound, named Nellie.

Time for a treat,


“To abide in Christ means to keep up a habit of constant close communion with Him – to be always leaning on Him, resting on Him, pouring our hearts to Him and using Him as our Fountain of life and strength, as our chief companion and best friend.”

J.C. Ryle- 17th Century Anglican bishop

Joan Carey, Firstfruits executive director, is an author and speaker with a passion for helping women grow in their relationships with God. Her Ponder This book contains a series of modern day parables sure to get you thinking about and seeing our extraordinary God in our ordinary experiences. Joan invites you to use resources on this website for daily reflection in your journey to grow in God's loving care for you.
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