Carl’s Comfort Spot

There was no disputing it. Carl was comfortable and he didn’t want to move. It was turning 9:00 am and he wasn’t even thinking about the possibility of getting up.  But do you blame him?  He had nowhere to go and the sleep he was going in and out of was just too enjoyable to give up.

How often do we wish for an easy alternative when we have been thrown a hard ball in life? I know for myself that when I have a problem that can’t be solved and keeps pestering me, I will tend to start daydreaming about my next vacation.

So why does God allow the hard times to come knocking on our doors of life?  And why does He allow them to not just knock on the door but shove through them and take residence?

Consider Peter. After Jesus was resurrected, this man spent the rest of his life telling others about Jesus. He was constantly persecuted and was crucified upside down for his faith. Peter chose a life of hardship over comfort for only one reason. He believed with his entire being that this world was not his home.

With a heavenly perspective, we all can withstand life’s hardballs. I have often heard that if we live our lives with heaven as our destination, we will be able to withstand the earthly storms that blow our way. But if we only look at life through a worldly perspective, we will end up hopeless.  

I don’t blame Carl for his choice for comfort. If I was a dog, I would look for the most relaxing spot in the house to lay my head. But we are not dogs.  Unlike all other animals, God breathed the breath of life into our nostrils, causing us to be eternal. (Genesis 2:7)

As an eternal being, I am looking forward to my life after this one ends. And I hope to see you there as well.

Slammed Doors

Carl stood at the door waiting for us to call his name to come along on a journey. But today, Carl wasn’t going to be able to come. Instead of joining us for a fun episode of life, the door was shut in his face.

How often do we wait at the door of opportunity to have a door shut in our face? We can be so excited about life one moment and then the next moment, we feel like God has played a joke on us.

It is during these times of trials and suffering, with no entrance in sight that we are forced to take our focus off of what is on the opposite side of the door. It is at this moment that we are provided other options, ones that we may not choose, but ones that have to be faced.

Most of the people Jesus interacted with had doors shut in their face. Individuals just like you and me that were locked out of the dreams that they had based their happiness on. Some chose the path of bitterness and resentment that left them facing the locked exit.

But then there were the few that understood Jesus’s power to show them an upward direction that would transport their earthly journey to a spiritual one.

There was a Gentile woman that knew what life was like to have doors slammed in her face. Her daughter was demon possessed and was suffering. This mother had heard about the miracles that Jesus had performed and believed that He was from God.

The woman respected Jesus’s mission. He had come specifically for the Jews but she had to try. So when she engaged Him in a conversation about dogs eating crumbs, Jesus opened the door of healing. (Matthew 15:21-28)

As we drive down the road towards our destination, I can’t help but think about the door that Carl is facing. Hopefully, he will realize that he needs to look beyond the door until we return. If not, he will be staring at a shut door for quite a while. Poor Carl.

Stuck

Carl is stuck. It has been several nights that he has not budged from the couch.  No matter what I say to him, he refuses to get up and go back to the chair that has been his bed for countless nights.

Carl’s Bed

I have several theories that may be causing my little guy to choose the isolation of the living room over the bedroom where we all have been joined together for the last couple of years. He could be avoiding Bee, who he has been fearful of or he could just be content with being stuck in the couch.

Carl’s greatest fear

If you live long enough in this world, you will encounter a sticky place in life. We can be moving forward and then something occurs that gets us to stay put.  The cause can come out of nowhere or it can be as simple as settling into a routine.

Jesus encountered lots of stuck people.  Some that seemed more set in their ways than others. It was evident that the paralyzed man that sat at the pool of Bethesda was stuck. He had been sitting at the pool for years waiting for someone to help him so that he could be healed. There was also the Samaritan woman who had been stuck in the cycle of sleeping with men to meet a need that she believed couldn’t be met in any other way.

These examples are obvious but have you ever thought of Martha being stuck? Here was a woman that opened her house up for Jesus and was busy preparing a meal for him.  How can her innocent behavior be perceived as being stuck? If you take away the layers of duty and good works, you will see someone stuck in bitterness and resentment.

I can totally relate to being stuck where Martha was. For years, I took pride in my works and as I looked around, anger would come gushing out towards the people that weren’t working as hard as I was. My heart grew a hard shell towards people that I believed were getting an easy pass in life.

But then Jesus spoke to me through Martha. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 38:41-42

I can envision Jesus doing what I do a lot with both Carl and Bee. He took his fingers and pointed them right at me and then turned them towards Him. “Cora, Cora, you are worried and upset about many things. Take your focus off of others and place them on me.”

Life has been so much better since the stickiness of bitterness and resentment have been unglued. I can’t say they don’t come to visit every once in a while but if I keep my eyes on my savior, I can keep them from sealing onto my heart.

Carl is still stuck to the couch and the fear that must be keeping him there. Hopefully, he will make a decision to unglue himself but until then, I know where I can find him.

Pushing Forward into Confidence

Carl hid behind the blanket and it was clear he didn’t want to be seen. When he heard the closing of the door, he knew he had missed his opportunity to ride in the shot gun seat in the big black truck.  Instead of riding with my husband on their regular Sunday morning drive, Carl stayed put in his comfortable bed.

I had encouraged him to get up and catch up with my husband but he seemed to lack the confidence to do so. What had been a move that Carl did automatically, he now seemed hesitant to even try. Could this little dog who seems so confident at times, feel insecure today?

We can easily lose confidence in life if we aren’t careful.  A blow to our self-esteem can come out of nowhere and if we aren’t centered, can send us reeling. When this happens, I find myself backing away so that I won’t feel the hurt that comes with the blow.

Many times, I have probably given up some of God’s most amazing gifts because I pulled away when I allowed my feelings to dictate my actions. Instead of pushing through the stabs of pain and using it to refine my heart, I have taken myself out of the fire.

“These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold;” 1 Peter 1:7 Living Version

God has a purpose for the fires in our lives. It is meant to refine our faith, not weaken it. This encourages me when my feelings are telling me one thing but His word is speaking an entirely different message.

As for Carl, I will encourage him to get up and move past the disappointment he currently feels. And when I push him, I am going to also push myself to not pull back but push forward when the fire begins to get a little too hot for my liking.

Happy Valentines

First of all I want to wish my husband of 40 years, this March 3rd, a Happy Valentines. Then to all you wonderful people who have encouraged me as I have written about this little valentine.. Have a truly blessed day and treat yourself to some extra love and care.

Our Sweet Valentine..

Paralyzed with Fear

I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.  It had been so long since I had seen Carl in this position that it took me a minute to realize what I was looking at. I had gotten up in the middle of the night and I happened to look in the hallway and there, paralyzed, was Carl.

Darkness was surrounding him on all sides. I could see Carl’s body shake and knew he was unable to make his way through the door and over to his bed. As I peered in the direction that he was looking, all I could see was Bee, our other French bull dog dozing on her pillow.

Fear can paralyze all of us. It can stop us in our tracks and surround us like the darkness of night. Whatever we are facing can seem too large for us to get through. To others it may seem as passive as a sleeping dog, but to us, it can be too massive to get around.

When the fear begins to continue to lie to us about our inability to move, there is someone that we need to picture in our minds. Someone who didn’t allow fear to dictate His next moves. Someone who knew the horrific events that He would have to get through on our behalf.

Jesus didn’t allow the fear of the night to stop Him from the journey that took him to the grave, the place where we fear the most. He did this so that we would continue when our hearts tell us to stop.

The same power that was used to raise Jesus from the dead is the same power that we as believers have to walk through our fears.

The only thing I could do when I saw Carl stuck in place was to escort him to his bed. He didn’t want to walk by his sister Bee so he took a detour under the bed and slid close to the outside wall. Even though it wasn’t the most direct route, he did have the courage to find his way to his bed.

Hopefully, the next time I am gripped with fear, I will be willing to find my way through it, even if I have to follow Carl’s example and take a detour.

The Passing of a Loved One

Carl’s friend Leo had to be put down today.  Leo was a very special dog. I know because we had the privilege of taking care of him for six weeks while his human family transitioned into their new home. Leo had a way of letting you know that you were loved.

You will be missed..

People tell us that dogs are man’s best friend. I have to disagree. Dogs, particularly ones like Leo, are more than friends. They are family.  He had a way of sticking to my heart strings and even though I didn’t see him again, he will always have a place in my heart. Pets can do that to you.

Sometimes when a loved one passes on, the pain can be very difficult. All kinds of questions for God arise that usually can never be answered. But even through the pain, gratitude for the experience of having that loved one in our lives should reign over the unanswered questions.

So I want to thank Leo’s family for entrusting us to take care of their four legged “baby”. Thank you Leo, for the short time you came into our home and became a part of our family.  But, most of all, I want to thank you God for creating animals like Leo, who love us unconditionally. 

Peace to you Leo and to your family…..

Good Times