He bounced out of his bedroom like getting up this morning was the best thing that has ever happened to him.  Despite his advanced age, the energy he has to start his day is absolutely remarkable.  I’m somewhat intimated by the enthusiasm he displays.  He seems more than ready to take on the day, whatever it may hold.  He’s not worried about what is going on in the outside world, nor is he stressed by the latest news or headlines.  He’s confident that his needs will be met by those who love him, and in return he is prepared to share his love for them.  He is the epitome of a “positive thinker”, always looking for the best from the people around him and the situations that may confront him. Whatever is inside of him I’d like to bottle because the world needs more it……..especially me!

It probably comes with no surprise that who I’m talking about is my fuzzy little companion, Wiggles.   This little bundle of energy has been part of my life now for almost 11 years. I got him at lunch one day when I had stopped by a fast food restaurant. After I ate I met this adorable puppy. A woman had come from out of town and had been waiting for a couple of hours for the “buyer” to show up, per arrangements they had made on the phone the night before.  It had become apparent that the buyer was a “no show” so she was just looking for a good home for this little guy, the last of the litter of pups she had already delivered that day.  As soon as I saw him my heart melted.  At 10 weeks old he still fit in my hand, a black little bundle of fur that immediately bonded to me.   I couldn’t resist!

Wiggles got his name from my wife because his whole back end shook when he wagged his tail…..which was almost in constant motion.  FYI – it still does 11 years later!  My wife was working at a hotel at the time, so Wiggles came with me to the church where I served every day.  During this season I was acting as an interim Principal for our Christian school, so Wiggles quickly became the school mascot.  The kids loved him….and I think the teachers and parents did too! He followed me around everywhere I went, rarely straying more than a couple of feet away from me!

Wiggles quickly attached himself to both Chris and I, but in different ways.  If I’m home he’ll always be in whatever room I’m in.  He wants to sit in my lap or sleep on a comfy spot nearby.  When he wants to play he wants “mom”.  He’ll actually avoid me and take his toys straight to her, then enter into a growling fest as she tries to take it away from him.  Mom is also the one he wants to put him to bed each night.  Bedtime for him is 10 PM, and he lets us know it!  Chris and Wiggles go through a nightly ritual before he retires to his “bedroom” (our 3rd bathroom in my study).  It’s pretty amazing to watch!  But he wants Dad to get him up every morning.  If I open the door he’ll come bouncing out, but if mom tries to get him up he’ll just lay there and look at her.  It’s hysterical!

I think I can safely assume that many of you who are reading this also have a character or two at home who masquerade as your pets!   Their personalities come through in all sorts of ways.  Recently a spat of movies have explored these loving sidekicks — “A Dog’s Purpose”,   “The Life of Pets”, “A Dog’s Way Home”, and “Call of the Wild”.  In each of them the film producers have examined how these animals display admirable qualities that we would do well to emulate.  Like Wiggles, these furry friends express themselves in various ways that teach us about all sorts of things like love, loyalty, and faithfulness.  But perhaps most of all, they teach us about how to the start our day with a good attitude!   In fact, as far as I can remember, I don’t think Wiggles has ever gotten up in a “bad mood”.  He is always excited to welcome the new day, greet me with enthusiasm, and act like he’s expecting nothing but good things to happen.  I don’t know what he has inside of him, but whatever it is I’d like to bottle it and sell it. The world could use more of us to wake up with such a positive outlook on the day!!

I’d like to think that I’ve learned that lesson myself, but there are times when that simply is not true.  While Wiggles seems to say “Good Morning Lord there are times when it seems like I’m saying Good Lord, It’s Morning.  Whether it was the stress from the day before or the anticipation of the workload that awaits me for the day ahead, there are just times when I don’t seem to have that “can do, happy attitude”.  It’s not that I’m a grouchy pants Grinch —I’m just not as enthused about the prospects for the day as Wiggles seems to be.  Even after a refreshing shower, a cup of coffee, and my daily devotions my outlook for the day can be less than stellar.

In a strange way God is “convicting” me by watching how Wiggles starts his day. The sense of eager anticipation and expectation are a constant in his routine.  He doesn’t get up in a bad mood, even if we put him to bed late, it was too hot to sleep comfortably, or how many times the grandkids may have chased him around the house.  Even when he’s been in trouble the day before he wakes up the next day ready to go.

I know God doesn’t want us to be phony or put on some type of show just to impress others with our positive outlook on life.  But I do think God may want to make some attitude adjustments in our lives at times when we let the circumstances of the day before, or the prospects for the day ahead, change our demeanor and outlook on life.  We seem to all be a bit to prone to let the situations going on around us influence our attitude. A simple mistake, an unexpected interruption, a disturbance in our normal routine can set off a chain reaction where our attitude take a tumble. At that point we may start talking to ourselves trying to snap out of this slide into negativity, but often we’ve set ourselves up for this slippery slope because we started the day leaning somewhat in that direction. Perhaps we should work on starting our days in a more positive way so that when things deteriorate we will have a cushion to keep us in positive frame of mind.

If you’re a Christian you know that one of the ways we’re often encouraged to do that is to start our day with a time of personal devotions and reflection. However, as important as that is, I think there’s more to it than that.  Starting our day encouraged and excited about the day that lies in front of us is as much of a mindset as it is a spiritual discipline.  It comes down to a couple of key questions:  Do we really believe God is in control of our lives? Are we willing to accept the role He has given us?  Do we see the best in people around us or do they disappoint us?  Have we honestly done everything we know to do in whatever situation we find ourselves?  Often the start of our day is a reflection of both our attitude and our obedience to the known will of God. When you think about it, we are actually in control of both of those things.  If we are getting up with a “less than stellar” attitude, perhaps it’s time for us to sit ourselves down and ask a few tough questions.

Wiggles is just another example of God’s amazing creativity.  The joy he demonstrates when I open his door each morning is merely a reflection of his whole outlook on life.  He can’t wait to say “Hi”, he’s ready to go from the moment he wakes us, and he wants nothing more than to make me happy.  I would love to be known as a person who is like that.  I want my disposition to reflect the God I serve and my own positive outlook on life.  Yes, things happen that are less than enjoyable on an almost daily basis. But if I can learn to start each day with a smile on my face, joy In my heart, and a plan to keeping looking up, I think I’ll enjoy my personal life more and I’ll be  much more enjoyable for others to be around (did I hear you say AMEN?).

I love Wiggles!  He’s a great companion that has brought me countless smiles over the years.  But today I’m grateful for a life lesson he’s teaching me – starting you day right can make your whole day better!

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