Lately, I have been focusing a lot on being mindful of everyday circumstances and the lessons that I can glean from them if I listen carefully to that still, small voice that is speaking all the time. I had one of those moments this week, and I’m still a bit surprised about how much I learned from my daughter and a tattered little stuffed animal.

My youngest girl, Olivia, is 11. Sadly, she and her sisters are beyond the days of believing that their treasured stuffed animals are alive and have feelings. However, they each have a few “lovies” that have been around for so many years that they have become permanent decor or sleeping companions. Coco is one of these such beings. He is a little brown and white, bean and stuffing-filled puppy that can fit in the palm of your hand. There is nothing exceptional about Coco except that he is well-loved by my daughter and has been for six or seven years.

A few days ago, our dog, Bristol, took offense to Coco for unknown reasons, and she chewed half his face off. The culprit was happily ripping most of the stuffing out of the poor little guy before I discovered the atrocity. Reluctantly, I broke the bad news to Olivia and told her that it was time to say goodbye to Coco. He was just beyond reasonable repair. I left it at that and went to work on my latest quilting project.

A little while later, I discovered Olivia digging through my fabric stash to look for something suitable to reconstruct Coco’s face. I somewhat impatiently told her that the damage was too great and that she just needed to throw him away; however, Olivia was persistent and she did the best she could do with some fabric scraps and a glue gun. She brought him to me and was obviously not pleased with her handiwork. Only this time I could see in her eyes that she actually was a bit upset, though she was trying to hide her child-like emotions. I looked at the pathetic little puppy and explained to her why I thought there was no hope. His eyes had been ripped off, he had no nose, one floppy ear was mostly detached, and half of his face was completely gone. Clutching her pet, with stuffing spewing on the floor, Olivia said simply, “I’m just not going to give up on him.”

That’s when I heard another voice quietly whisper, urging me to help her. With a sigh, I set aside my quilt, and gently took Coco from my daughter’s hand. I said a silent prayer for patience and the ability to perform canine facial reconstruction, a delicate procedure that I did not ask for, nor felt at all skilled to complete. While I worked, I thought of the many times that I may have been “beyond repair” and how grateful I am to have a loving Heavenly Father Who refuses to give up on me, even in times when I have given up on myself. I contemplated the compassion and patience with which He sees us, His creation, loved, cherished and never outgrown, never “too far gone.” He showed me that through His spiritual eyes, I am beautiful no matter what I look like on the outside, and He told me that there is nothing I can do that will cause me to fall out of His grace. He revealed that He will always be there to rescue me when the rest of the world turns its back.

The reconstruction took about an hour. Coco does not look quite like he did before the mauling incident, but he did receive 2 new blue button eyes and a shiny green nose. He has obvious scars from the incident that are unlikely to heal, reminders of his second-chance granted, but the prognosis is good that he will be loved for many more years. We decided that he needed a new name to suit his new look. Holding “Patches,” Olivia beamed at me, and the smile of gratitude on her face was the greatest reward I could ask for.

I could have dismissed this entire incident as a just another childish impracticality and went about my business. Countless times I have assuredly done just that and missed out on an opportunity to receive a blessing. That day, I was thankful for that gentle whisper and the opportunity to learn from a little stuffed dog named Patches.

“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” Kings 19:11-12