Yesterday, I ran across a photo of my girls with our big chocolate lab named Nick. He was one of our best dogs (we’ve had quite a few over the years), a gentle giant and dearly loved, but when he was young, he had a penchant for eating some odd things.

Crayons, for instance.

Sugary treats from the counter. (He survived an entire plate of brownies, a baker’s dozen of blueberry bagels, and an entire bag of brown sugar with a Halloween candy chaser.)

One (only one) of every pair of shoes in the house, except Kevin’s. I’ll leave you to speculate why.

Sunglasses and cordless phones.

Toys of all kinds, with a particular fondness for Barbie and her accessories.

Yes, good ol’ Barbie. Maddie got a Santa Fe Barbie one year for her birthday. She was a lovely little thing, with dark hair instead of the characteristic blonde, and she came with a fringed skirt and Southwestern shawl in pink and turquoise, pink hat in a Clint Eastwood/The Good, the Bad & the Ugly style, and fabulous turquoise boots.

Maddie LOVED her, and they spent many beautiful hours together.

Then, one morning, she came up to me with a solemn expression, and concern in her wide, brown eyes.

What’s wrong, honey?

I can’t find Santa Fe Barbie’s clothes.

They’re not on her?

No. I put her in something else to work in her barn, so she wouldn’t get the pretty clothes dirty.

Okay, I’ll help you.

We looked everywhere. I seriously tore the playroom apart looking for them, and turned her room upside down, too, but to no avail. Maddie didn’t play with that doll all day, because she wanted to wait for “the good clothes,” and Poor Santa Fe Barbie remained alone, and in her barn clothes with no hope for more fashionable attire, unless she wanted to borrow from her blonde friends.

(But we all know when you’re a winter, your spring/summer friends’ wardrobes just don’t flatter, so her chances didn’t look good. Poor Santa Fe.)

We finally gave up for the day, with the assurance that I would keep an eye out. But it was actually Maddie who discovered them the next day. With those same eyes brimming with tears…

Mommy? I found Santa Fe Barbie’s clothes.

Well that’s great! Why are you crying?

Because, well…come with me, and I’ll show you.

She grabbed my hand and we walked out to the back yard. There, right in the middle of the yard, was a well-dressed pile of dog poop, topped off with a partial turquoise boot, and trimmed in a piece of fringe.

Goodness honey. I’m so sorry. Do you want me to see if I can salvage any of it?

Incredulous, she looked back at me and said…

No! Yuck! She will never wear any of THAT ever AGAIN! She’s better off staying in her barn clothes FOREVER.

It’s funny, the things we love and think we need. The things we may have lost for whatever reason, and, the longer they’re lost from us, the need for them becomes more and more inflated in our minds. We try to find them, reclaim them, and recapture what we think they gave us, but often, if we do find the thing, it’s not what we remembered at all. It’s tarnished somehow, and we realize that it was either not good for us to begin with, or had only been meant for a season in our lives.

We realize we are better off right where we are, enjoying what we actually have right now.

My girl, now grown, is one of the most contented people I know, and she lives most of her life in her barn clothes. Who says Barbies (and the dogs who eat their stuff) don’t teach good lessons?


I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4:11-13 MSG

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 ESV