The blue-cold quiet of the snow had settled over my neighborhood, and the usual noises of dogs barking and cars passing on the road in front of my house was muted by the 4-inch layer of crystalline insulation.
My new puppy was calmer outside than in, so even though it was only 26 degrees and I didn’t have a coat on, I was feeling more peaceful than I have for several days watching her calmly sniff around the fenced-in part of my back yard.
I’ve been chasing Tilly around the house all week, employing every technique in the book to try to get her to stop biting and chewing. I’ve sprayed her with a water bottle, stomped my foot really loud, squealed like a puppy when she sunk her teeth in deep, and removed my hand from mouth and replaced it with a toy.
Eventually, however, my sister, Sierra, who is staying with me for three months while she does an internship, showed me how a firm “no” is the best method. She’s had puppies before. I’ve only had a dog.
I’ve come to realize that having a dog prepares one for a puppy about as well as a roommate prepares one for a baby. Not at all, really.

My other strategy to help Tilly learn not to chew on everything she sees is to remove most of it. When I brought Tilly home, I decided not to put away books and magazines on low shelves or remove rugs from the floor because I was planning to just train her to leave them alone.
And eventually, that will work.
But to start with, there were too many things to say “no” to for such a young puppy. She would go from the lamp cord, to the book cover, to the recliner handle, to the potted plant, chewing her way around the house. I would spray, stomp, and yelp, and then she would begin her circuit again.
Tilly’s attention is more focused when the distractions are minimized.
I was standing out in that blue-cold quiet when Jesus showed me that this is what He wants for me too. Fewer distractions. That very night I was home rather than at yet another meeting because of that snow lying on the ground. My exhausted soul was secretly relieved.
My year of “empty” has been harder than I imagined. And without really understanding how it’s happened, I find myself busier and more rushed than ever. I have emptied out things in my life, but I haven’t yet emptied out my schedule. Or the stress that goes with it. And when I try to determine what I will drop, I realize “I” am too tied up in it all.
Who am I if I am not “doing”?
And Jesus says, “Exactly,” for that’s what he has been wanting me to ask myself all along.
So it’s not just Tilly, but me too – we both are more focused when the distractions are minimized.
Now, to figure out what to put away.