“The Lord is my strength and my shield;my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Psalm 28:7 (NIV)
I never thought I would say the words above. It’s not that I have anything against reptiles. I just never had any desire to own one… ever. However, because of the bonus blessing God gave to our family less than a decade ago, I have grown to love all things scaly, leathery, and slimy (or at least appreciate most of them).
I thought my response two years ago to our kindergartener’s request to buy a scorpion was brilliant: “Sure, your pet scorpion can live at the pet store and we will have visitation rights whenever you like.”
So… when our youngest started catching reptiles around our house and familiarizing me with how tolerable they were, my opinions started to change a little. I have to admit, though, owning one still wasn’t my idea. My husband is the one who started thinking about getting a real setup for the salamanders being caught since the temporary habitats allowed one to escape into our house and get lost in the duct work while the other escaped into freedom outside. That thought morphed into a 40-gallon tank to house a bearded dragon that will live for approximately 10 years. What cinched the decision for me was when the pet store clerk told me about how her bearded dragon plays tug-o-war with her dog… our dog needs a companion and it seems as though a bearded dragon is less expensive and less maintenance than another dog.
The first week we had him I had one goal… to keep him alive and not burn our house down with his heat lamp. The experience reminded me of bringing home our children from the hospital; however, I had babysat my whole life so I knew more about infants than I did about reptiles. I observed him, he observed me and when I would get brave enough to attempt to pick him up, I was convinced he wanted to bite me (despite my husband’s repeated reassurance that they don’t bite, anyone).
I knew I was hooked and he was growing on me, though, by the end of the week when I caught myself standing in the grocery store Googling “what vegetables and fruit can I feed a bearded dragon?” I was more excited about his food purchases that week than I was about our own. I never knew buying a peach and mango to give as a treat could bring me so much joy! It’s now the end of the second week, although it feels like we’ve had him for much, much longer. I’m not squeamish anymore when he swallows live crickets (I want him to grow big and strong – did I really just say that?) and I’ve even given him two baths to help with the shedding process.
I’m so glad our Heavenly Father doesn’t treat me the way I approached the addition to our family. He welcomes us with loving arms and gladly takes away our sin simply because He’s God. He always provides us with what we need and gets pleasure out of blessing us just because He can. Becoming a grandmother to our youngest’s reptile reminded me about how blessed we are to be loved by our Heavenly Father – no strings attached.
© Cheri Swalwell 2016