Stuck

I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t find Bee anywhere. She wasn’t snuggled up in front of the fire or buried in her oversized bed. I even checked the bathroom to see if she was cuddled up on one of the bath mats. It had been at least twenty minutes since I last saw her and knew she would come in from the cold temperatures if she could.

I raised the curtain on the French door that led to the backyard and saw my little girl sitting on the top step. I quickly opened the door and called for her to come but she wouldn’t budge.

My first fear was that she had cornered an animal that she didn’t want to give up. I cautiously made my way towards her to inspect what could be her prey. Given that we have had a possum on our porch, I didn’t want to take any chances. And even though most of the snakes have disappeared I couldn’t help but remember the snake that Bee and Carl had literally tore in half just a few feet away from where she was sitting.

After a close inspection, it was clear that she didn’t have a prey so why wouldn’t she come when I called? Even after tempting her with treats, she seemed stuck.

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in life? Stuck in a period of life that no longer brings you the joy that you remember having in your youth.  Stuck in thoughts of wanting something that will bring fulfillment but no matter how hard you try, it just doesn’t come.

Do you remember Let’s Make a Deal, a game show where the contestants had to pick a curtain where they could receive a fabulous gift or a booby prize that was worthless? Sometimes, I think life can be like this. We come to intersections where we have to make decisions that could bring fulfillment or leave us empty and stuck.

In John 15:9-11 Jesus gives us a clear path on how to get us unstuck. He states, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

So whenever I feel stuck, I know that I need to get into my Bible and draw close to this man that understands how to give me joy to the fullest.

As for Bee, after not making any attempt to climb that last step, I reached down and brought her inside where she rested until I took her to the vet. After close examination, it was determined that Bee must have tweaked her back. She received a steroid shot, muscle relaxers, and strict orders to rest.

And even though she scared Carl half to death the other night, he took it upon himself to jump up on the couch and draw close.

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The Power of Fear

Power. It takes all kinds of shapes. Last night I saw it in its most primitive state. After feeding Carl and Bee, I went back into the bedroom and went back to sleep. A few minutes later I awoke to a feeling that something wasn’t right. I sat up and looked at the two dog beds and found them vacant.

Anxiety filled my heart as I arose and walked down the darkened hallway back into the kitchen. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find but I knew it wasn’t going to be good. There shivering in the corner was Carl. He had been trapped there by the power of fear.

Fear takes on a life of its own if it isn’t dealt with. In the last couple of months this has been clearly played out in the life of my dog Carl. But I know there are areas of my life that fear can grasp on to and squeeze harder if I am not careful.

When I was a young girl, I was involved in a boat accident that left me scarred for life. As I was under the water with the boat coming straight towards me, a fear was born. Little did I know that it would take on the shape that it did.

Obviously, I was afraid of boats but specifically catamarans. The flat surface of the boat was a perfect place to get trapped under if the boat flipped over. And then there are bridges, particularly high ones that lift the cars far above the water. Just the thought of these, makes my heart race and palms perspire.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6 sums up how we should all deal with our fears. The power of fears comes when we give it time to fester in our minds and hearts. If we instead turn our focus onto God and all His blessings, fear will lose its power.

But as for Carl, his fear has taken the shape of his sister dog Bee. Every time she stands in front of him and he backs down, her power over him increases. What started off as a little anxiety has blown up into a nightmare for all of us.

I would love to hear from anyone that may have a suggestion on how to resolve this issue.  I am out of ideas and am willing to try anything to bring our dogs back into a harmonious relationship.

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Harnessed

My first guests had started to arrive and Carl was his predictable self. He was overly excited and no matter what I said to him he wouldn’t listen. Reprimanding him wasn’t preventing him from jumping up and snipping the knees of everyone that he could reach.  I knew that I had to try a different tactic. Then I thought about the harness that hung up on the nail in the porch.

It was crazy how quickly Carl transformed into the submissive and meek dog that I believed he could become. It was like the harness weighed a massive amount and kept his body from trying to jump up. Instead of the hyperactive dog that usually greets my friends, Carl lay down on his bed and calmly stared upward.

Everyone enjoyed being around this meek and mellow dog. But when our society hears the word “meek” we don’t usually attribute it to a positive trait. Instead, we think of someone who is insecure and pitied. Then why does Jesus say in Matthew 5: 5 that the meek will inherit the earth?

If we turn our television on we definitely don’t see the meek capturing the attention of the world. So who is Jesus referring to? If we go back into the Old Testament, David writes in Psalm 37:9 that those who wait on the Lord will inherit the earth. He then repeats this again but changes the wording to meek in verse 37:11.

How do the meek wait on the Lord? Can you picture someone you know that doesn’t get easily angered? Someone who is criticized and doesn’t spat back what they are feeling? Can you think of a time that your feelings were hurt and you wanted to retaliate? Do you remember how hard it was to hold your tongue and not share the injustice with someone? This takes power. Power that comes from waiting on the Lord.

When we trust God, we will wait for Him to implement the judgment that is due. This is the meekness that Jesus and David are referring to. An inner strength that will allow us to enjoy our inheritance.

I was thankful for the harness that physically helped Carl become the meek dog that my friends enjoyed having around.  Hopefully, in the future when I want to snip at people for the injustice that will surely come my way, I will remember the harness of God’s word and turn my attention to waiting for Him.

As for Carl, once everyone left, I released the harness and he returned to his crazy self. Got to love him.IMG_2346

God’s Timing

It only took months but he finally got it. After countless nights, Carl figured out a way to keep himself safe from his sister’s wrath. It was as simple as timing. He figured out that if he came into the bedroom before Bee, he could race across the room, jump onto his chair, and snuggle deep into his cushion.  Then when she finally appears, he would be safe from the horrors of her domination.

Timing is a significant variable in our lives. After being married for over three decades, I have come to realize that the time I share unpleasant information with my husband can be the most important variable on how he will receive it.  Early on in my marriage, I would blurt out whatever was on my mind the second he walked in the door. It took a while but I finally realized that this wasn’t helping anyone.

So now, I hold my tongue until he has had time to relax a few minutes, get some food in his stomach and unwind from work. Timing is a factor that we should never take for granted, particularly when we are praying to God. God knows when it is best to answer our prayers.

We all want our prayers answered immediately, particularly if there is suffering involved. We don’t want to wait and hold on to the ordeal that life can throw at us. The Israelites felt this way when the Babylonians had taken them captive. For seventy years they were tortured and exposed to horrors that were unbearable.

So where was God? Why would He allow his people to experience such suffering? God had spoken through Jeremiah years before and pleaded for his people to repent and return into a relationship with Him. He had even shared with Jeremiah how long these people would be in bondage.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I know this verse specifically pertains to the Israelites but I do believe that God has plans for each of us. And in these plans He has a specific timeline for all the details of our lives. So when I experience suffering and want God to fix it now, I must trust in His perfect timing.

Carl’s inability to understand the importance of timing is a reminder to me that I don’t understand many of the lessons that God tries to teach me. As he learns the benefit of getting into his bed before his sister comes into the room, I need to look into my own life and trust God with the details.

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Carl was afraid to come out of the shower.

Walking Past Fear

Carl was frozen in fear. Once again, he wouldn’t, or maybe couldn’t walk past the object that terrified him. During the day when the light illuminates all around him, he is big and in charge. He dominates without hesitation. But at night, without the clarity of light, this all changes.

Each night, Carl will arise to go get water or do his business outside. Once he begins the walk back to his bed, the horror begins. On the other side of the bedroom door, lies his worst nightmare.

Bee has picked up on Carl’s fear for months now. Even after Leo left, she has realized that she can stand alone on the other side of the door and keep Carl from entering. She is quiet and stands squarely in the path between the hallway and his bed. Even though she is smaller than he, the darkness transforms her into a horrendous monster.

As I have watched this playout every night from the height of my bed, I wonder why Carl can’t stand erect and walk with the authority that he possesses during the light of the day.

I can’t give my little dog too much grief. I know the power of the dark. Particularly if I am alone, every sound is amplified and every shadow is magnified. What may seem insignificant in the light can be overwhelming in the dark.

I have often been puzzled by what is stated about Jesus in John 1:4 “In Him was life and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

Jesus came to give life and be the light that we all need in order to experience the true meaning behind this life we are given.  I know that He serves as a light for me when the things of this life get overwhelming. When I wonder around in the darkness of not understanding why things happen and how angry the injustice of this life can be, I must turn to the light source to illuminate truth.

In the same way, Carl can’t see that Bee is smaller and more petite than he is. He should have no reason to hold back from walking right past her as he does during the hours of daylight. But the darkness has power over him that keeps him frozen in fear.

I am not sure how I will work this issue out. I may place a light in the hallway that turns on so that Carl can see the object of his fear. But until then, I am willing to get up, pick up my shaking pooch and place him on his bed so that he can feel safe once again.img_2194-1.jpg

Vulnerable

A lot has happened in the last couple of days.  Bee has been having a very difficult time keeping her emotions in check. She and Leo have been fighting more and blood has been spilled too many times to let this arrangement continue. So with a heavy heart, I had to call Leo’s owner and ask for him to be removed from our home.

After a thorough survey of the damages, both Bee and Carl have had some battle wounds that needed to be addressed. A quick trip to the vet unveiled several places that will need an antibiotic to speed the healing.

Since Leo has left, both Bee and Carl seem like different animals. The tension has dissipated and the four of us have slipped back into our familiar routine. Carl no longer has to wonder if he has to share the couch but can take up residence lying on his back with his legs pressed against the cushion.

Many times during the last days, I felt torn emotionally. Feelings of vulnerability swept through me as I tried to break the dogs up. I desperately wanted this arrangement to work but I was just not able to predict the triggers that would send the dogs over the edge.

Most of us don’t like feeling vulnerable. We feel exposed and have nothing to hide behind. Whenever we find ourselves in this position, we assume that God is punishing us. I am sure the Israelites felt this way when they reached the outskirts of Jericho.

This generation of Israelites had been raised in the desert, waiting to go to the Promised Land and their first conquest was the city of Jericho. But before pursuing their enemy, God had one command for all of the men. Joshua 5:2 states, “At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.”

Did I hear that correctly?  God wants Joshua to circumcise all of the sons of Israel. I am sure most were wondering about the timing of this command. Joshua must have known that they were truly vulnerable with all the men healing from a very painful procedure.

So why then? Why would God command the men to be made weak right before this major battle? Could it be that God knew that it would be easy for the Israelites to win the battle of Jericho and put their trust in themselves and not God?

I know that during those last days of having Leo with us, I struggled with the fact that I couldn’t fix this issue. I didn’t want to believe that I had no power over the situation. So I ended up letting go of the problem and putting it in the hands of God.

Once again, God has demonstrated his will in my life through the actions of my little muse, Carl. As he sleeps peacefully on his section of the couch, I can’t help but thank Him for knowing what is best.

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The Other Side of the Glass

I just got back from walking the dogs. I was going to walk Carl first and then Leo and Bee but after Bee got loose and started running around the neighborhood, those plans went out the window. After slipping out the gate, she literally took a bee line to the neighbor’s house. Once she saw no one coming to the door, she ran across the street without even a glance to see if a car was coming.

I was concerned that I might not catch Bee, but thankfully, she saw a cat sitting on the other side of a sliding glass door. This is when she started barking and clawing at the glass in hopes that she might reach the stoic feline.

As I think about Bee barking at the neighbor’s cat, I wonder if she thought she would have been satisfied if she could have gotten to the animal on the other side of the window pane. Just watching her do everything in her power to reach the cat, it seems like she had it in her mind and heart that fulfillment was in her grasp.

How often is a sense of being totally satisfied on the other side of the glass? What is it that you believe can complete you? A bigger paycheck? A new romance? Fame and fortune? No matter what it is for you, if you have gotten through the glass and obtained it, you probably came away disappointed.

Then what? Weren’t we created to be filled? YES! But how?

Jesus clearly states how we can be satisfied in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:6 states: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Isaiah 55: 1-2 states it this way.

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters;

And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat.

Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Why do you spend money for what is not bread,

And your wages for what does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,

And let your soul delight itself in abundance.”

Jesus confronts a Samaritan woman who believed being satisfied came in the form of a husband. After having five husbands she was ready to look elsewhere for satisfaction. It was then, when she knew that no man could complete her that she was eager to hear what Jesus had to offer. So what does He offer her? And what is He offering us?

Living water. Water that satisfies and completes us.

Bee never got through the glass. I was able to fasten her leash to her collar and lead her away from the cat. Just the two of us ended up taking a walk around the block. And from the way she carried herself, I think she felt a sense of satisfaction that just couldn’t come from the cat on the other side of the glass.

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