Giant, bulbous tears rolled over the chubby apples of my four year old daughter's cheeks. Her clammy little fingers clung to mine. I looked down into her watery, blue eyes. Blond ringlets danced around her face as she nodded. I smiled at her before turning to smile at my husband. He nodded.
“We're gathered here today to say good-bye to a cherished friend,” he began
“What's cherried?” Courtney asked. She wiped away a tear.
“Cherished sweetie,” I corrected. “That means we loved her a lot.”
“Okay.” Her little head turned toward her daddy and nodded. He grinned and started again.
“Pinkie lived a good life.”
“Pinkie 'Lizbeth Tewart,” said Courtney.
“Pinkie Elizabeth Stewart,” my husband continued, “brought joy and love to our home during her two weeks with us. We will miss her.” He knelt beside Courtney. “It's time.”
Four years of courage and compassion mustered together to gently drop Pinkie-the-carnival-goldfish into the toilet with a dull splash. Courtney watched the small lifeless being bob in the water. “You were my best pet ever,” she sighed. My husband bowed his head, but the light shaking of his shoulders betrayed the stifled laughter.
After the toilet was flushed and the final prayer prayed, I sat with my family at the kitchen table. I set a plate of cookies between us.
“Maybe we should get you a real pet,” I suggested, passing out cookies. “Not just something Daddy wins at the fair.”
“Can I have a turkey?” my daughter asked hopefully.
“A turkey's not really a pet,” my husband said. “More like a dog, or a cat.”
“Or a bird,” I offered, “or hamster.”
“Or a rock,” John chuckled.
Courtney giggled. “Rocks aren't pets Daddy.”
Leaning low across the table, John motioned Courtney closer. “They used to be,” he whispered. Her innocent, trusting eyes widened. I bit back a grin.
“Why don't you think about it?” I said. “You can decide later.” Courtney hesitated. I handed her another cookie.
“Okay!” she agreed. ~
~Two weeks later I sat between my spouse and my child as the pastor spoke passionately out of the book of Luke about Christ's triumphal entrance to Jerusalem. Courtney colored as John & I listened. After the service we greeted our friends and chatted with my parents. It wasn't until we were almost home that my daughter surprised me.
“I'm ready for a new pet!” she announced.
I twisted in my seat to smile at her. “What do you want?”
I glared at my husband as he coughed over a laugh. “A rock?”
“Yes! Rocks love Jesus too!”
“They do?” I asked skeptically. “How do you know that?”
“Pastor Dave said so,” she smiled.
As I thought about what the pastor may have said, John began laughing. “You're right sweetheart!” He glanced over at me, his eyes twinkling. “He said so this morning. Luke 19:40. If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers.”
“A stone is a rock, right?” Courtney asked, her little heart doubting.
I looked at my daughter, at her innocent, trusting blue eyes beneath a soft, golden blanket of curls. Her face radiated hope. My heart welled with pride at the pure love of her heart for her Savior. And she wanted a pet who loved Him as much as she loved Him.
“Yes Courtney, a stone is a rock,” I smiled. She smiled back. “I think that's an excellent idea.”
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