Our first house was a haven of glorious, mature, maple trees. We were just outside of Nashville, but when you drove down our street, you felt as though you had entered the Smokey Mountains of East Tennessee. In the middle of the day, all you could hear out on the front porch was the rustling of leaves and the occasional barking of one of the neighborhood dogs. There were several, but two little hound dogs, named Lady and Champ, stole my heart the day we moved in.

Lady and Champ were like a couple that had been married for years. You would never see one without the other trailing closely behind. Even though they belonged to Ronnie and Patty, our next-door neighbors, they spent many cold winter nights curled up together in our basement on a warm blanket. We considered them a part of our family. You would have thought they had been with us for years the way they would come running when they saw us pulling into the driveway.

Champ would drop to the ground at our feet and roll his plump self over for anyone who might want to scratch a sweet auburn-haired beagle's tummy. They never missed a chance for affection and they never missed a cookout. When we moved, I cried. I had to leave those beautiful trees and I had to leave Lady and Champ asleep on the front porch with no idea that we weren't coming back.

We've been in our new house for over three years now. Just the other day, Mike walked in and said, "Ronnie and Patty moved. Did you know that?""No I didn't," I replied. When I thought about what he had said, I envisioned the house being empty. If Ronnie and Patty had moved, then that meant that Lady and Champ were gone, too. Suddenly I felt so sad. They were gone. I would never see those little hound dogs again. My heart sunk.

I thought about them all that day. As afternoon came around, Shane came bounding down the stairs and asked if we could go outside and play. When we did, I looked around at all the trees that we have planted and how they are really beginning to blossom. I waved at my neighbor across the yard — someone who has become a dear, dear friend. And out of nowhere, came Cowboy, the rambunctious, but gentle German Shepherd from next door. Cowboy and Shane have become the best of buddies.

As I stood in my yard watching my son play, I realized something very important. I left my last home with the comfort that I could always go back and visit the things I missed most. I had every intention to go back often and see Lady and Champ. When I learned that they were gone, I felt the loss of that comfort ... then realized that I hadn't had enjoyed that comfort for a long time. Everything that we knew about home had changed — not necessarily a change for the better or for the worse, it had just changed. Three years had gone by, and not once had I found the time to go back. Though leaving my two little buddies was sad, it proved to have been a part of God's plan for our lives. Lady and Champ will always hold a special place in my heart. I know they're romping around a new place somewhere else with someone else to love them. We had found a new set of friends, we were growing new trees, and the three of us now enjoyed a new adopted pet friend.

Sometimes God chooses to change our paths in much more profound ways. In order to do that, our lives sometimes have to come to a screeching halt so that we don't miss an important turn in our path. With every change, however, He provides new insights, new goals, new visions, and a newfound strength to let go of our past. He teaches us that joy sometimes comes through pain. He reminds us to trust in Him and to believe that His plan is His perfect way of bringing us, ultimately, back to Him.

He teaches us that joy sometimes comes through pain.

And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure. (Isaiah 33:6)