Staying Put

Carl stayed put. He didn’t seem in the least bit interested in moving from his bed. He was cold and didn’t want to take a chance at losing the little warmth that his body had generated throughout the night. Little did he know that even though the heat wasn’t working, there was a little fireplace in the bathroom that was blasting out heat.IMG_4342

How often do we stay put because of the fear of losing what we so desperately are trying to hold on to? Just like Carl who didn’t want to lose the warmth of his bed, we can hold on to things in our lives that can keep us from the real blessings that God has in store for us.

Jesus was constantly confronting people to let go and move forward. In the book of John, chapter five, He addresses a man that had been afflicted with an infirmity for over thirty-eight years. This man had spent most of his time with others that had afflictions at a pool called Bethesda. It was believed that an angel would stir up the pool and the first person to go down into the water would be healed.

When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed, the man told Jesus that he didn’t have anyone to help him into the pool. This could have been true but I wonder if the man really didn’t want to let go of what he had come to know and become comfortable with.

We can all become comfortable and complacent in our present situation, even if it involves emotional or physical abuse. We can become paralyzed by the thoughts of a change in our lives. Too many times, we stay put when just around the corner is a blessing that God has created just for us.

Carl finally got up and walked into the bathroom to see his Frenchie sister curled up in front of the fireplace. Given the warmth of the room, he made his way to another bath mat and laid down and fell into a deep sleep. It was clear that he was glad that he had left the cold spot in the bedroom.IMG_4343

I couldn’t help but think about the many times, that I have forfeited the blessings for staying put in the cold spots of my life. Thank you God for the reminders of your presence that come through my little dog.

Loneliness

Loneliness swept over my little dog like a hurricane swirling onto shore.  Carl starred at me as I left the back porch with a look of sure terror. It was clear that he wondered if I would ever come home and if he would be left stranded in the solitude of his existence.IMG_4232

So many of us experience loneliness on a regular basis. My husband is a courier that travels to remote places where people are literally stranded without human contact. He has shared with me how some people will do anything to extend a conversation so that they don’t have to walk back into isolation.

The other day I was listening to a talk show and the topic of loneliness was being discussed by a psychiatrist. The doctor mentioned that being alone can be just as bad for your health as obesity and addictions. Given our society’s push for independence and how needing people is seen as a weakness, it isn’t difficult to understand why loneliness has become such a problem.

Psalm 68:6 states that God puts the lonely into families. If this is the case why are there so many lonely people out there? In the same verse it states that the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. In other words, when we act independently or prideful and give the air that we don’t need others, we will probably end up alone.

Carl is hardly ever left alone for more than a couple of hours. And when he is left, his sister Bee is always with him. IMG_4037But it is clear that he has an intense need for human contact. Even though it can be a pain at times, we have come to appreciate feeling so needed.

 

Masking our Weaknesses

Carl never likes to show his weakness. When he is distraught, instead of whimpering and demonstrating a feebleness in his character, he will bellow out a howl of authority and strength. The sad thing about this action, is that instead of drawing comfort, I usually will end up yelling at him to stop being so loud.IMG_4145

I can’t find fought in this action because I know that I can be just as guilty. When I feel vulnerable and in need of another’s comfort, I usually will mask it with an independent spirit.

Why is it that most of us want to appear strong, without a need for others? Are we much more concerned about how others think of us that we neglect one of our basic human needs, to be comforted?

Jesus saw right through this human flaw. He was constantly challenging his own disciples to shed off their pride, and admit their weaknesses. Even after three years of being with Jesus, Peter still wanted to hold onto his human strength and refused to admit his weakness in character.

After Jesus told Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed, Peter refused to believe that he could do such a thing.

Matthew 26: 69-75 paints a picture of a man who not only betrayed his best friend but did it in a very short period of time.

“Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”

But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”

And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”

And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”

Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed.  And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.”

We all can relate to Peter in this situation. Instead of admitting his fear, Peter acted like he had it all under control. Choosing a strong demeanor over admitting weakness demonstrated for all mankind the flaw that we all possess.

No matter how much I want Carl to change, I know in my heart that he will choose to act like he doesn’t have a feeble bone in his body. On the other hand, I can only hope that I will be willing to become weak so that God can transform me by his strength.IMG_4170

 

 

Happy Birthday Carl!

Of all days to have a birthday, it is today. Carl is now four years old. I hope that this will be a special day for him, but I won’t know for sure. Instead of enjoying the day with him, we are headed to Washington D.C. with our grandchildren and Carl is staying at Suite Paws, a pet resort.IMG_0096

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that this fawn colored Frenchie would be such an important part of our family. But the truth be told, Carl has had a profound impact all of us. Given his very needy personality and endless displays of cute expressions, he has melted our hearts into a soft pile of mush.

This morning on the way to taking Carl to his destination, he looked at me with his soft brown eyes and caused me to question even going on the trip and leaving him. But the desire to give up the trip passed and he willingly went into the door that would separate us for the weekend. IMG_4250

Thankfully, there are no doors that keep us away from God. It may seem that way at times, but when I open my Bible, I am comforted by the words that tell me otherwise. Psalm 23:4 states this truth, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”

This Psalm has always encouraged me when I felt alone. Knowing that I have a shepherd that loves me and wants me to believe that in the darkest times of my life, He is with me.

Hopefully Carl will not feel alone and abandoned in the next couple of days. Instead, I hope he will enjoy playing with the other dogs and know in the back of his mind, that he is loved. Happy Birthday Little Guy.

Caged Anger

Bee, my other French Bull dog would not stop barking.  Carl and I were at a neighbor’s house and I couldn’t concentrate due to the constant high pitched bark that was coming from my yard. I had an idea of what she was barking at but wouldn’t know for sure until Carl and I went home to investigate. IMG_4236

Since the evacuation of my grandchildren, son-in-law, and animals from Wilmington, North Carolina on September 12th, their cat had been missing.  He escaped once he got out of his crate and hasn’t since been seen.  We placed a notice on our neighborhood website but the cat has only made one appearance.

Trying to catch the cat, my husband placed a live trap out behind our back yard in hopes of catching Henry and returning him to his home. Yesterday afternoon, the trap was checked and sure enough an animal had been caught.

Live traps can be tricky. They don’t guarantee the animal you are pursuing will be the one that is caught. Just like animal traps, life can have its own set of snares that we can end up in with no likely way out.

Anger can be perceived as a trap in life that is hard to get out of. Once we have been wronged we can enter its hold and believe there are no options but to stay entrapped by the tentacles of strong emotions.

James 4:1-2 in the Message version of the Bible puts it this way. “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.”

Anger is defined as the appalling wars and quarrels that battle within our hearts. We usually want something that we can’t have or am furious over the fact that something happened that we can’t change.

So how do we free ourselves from the cage of this insidious trap? We pray. We go to God and ask for a grateful heart. We stay on our knees so that He can reveal to us the changes that need to be made in our souls. Only through prayer and reading the scriptures can we find the key that opens the cage of anger.

My husband called me over once I returned from my neighbors to find a possum trapped inside the cage that was intended for Henry. The possum was not very happy and hissed at all of us as we stared at the wild animal.IMG_4233

Thankfully, after being released, the possum’s scent evaporated into the air and Bee stopped barking. She finally made her way into the house and clambered into her bed where she had a peaceful night sleep.

Dear Lord, help us to be more like our furry friends and let go and take hold of the peace that you want so desperately for us to enjoy.

Created Storms

Carl was exhausted the day the children left. For eight days he had been totally engaged with the young children and the three small dogs that had come to live with us during Hurricane Florence. Several times, his patience ran out and he had let out a growl to let everyone know that he had had enough.IMG_4212

Thankfully, our grandchildren’s house regained power after a week of being plummeted with strong winds and rain. Several large trees had fallen and there was debris everywhere.  But with minor damage to the house, the children were able to go back to some sort of normalcy.

In times of great storms like Florence, we all come to wonder why God allows these catastrophes to occur. We will never completely understand why but we can get a glimpse of his reasoning through the scriptures, particularly in the story of Jesus walking on the water.

Mark 6:45-51 states: “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.  After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land.  He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.”

Note that Jesus made his disciples get in the boat. He knew what was going to occur but instead of preventing the storm, he created it. How often do we think God is working when our lives are without troubles? So often when the storms come in our lives, we ask where God is. From this story, it is clear where Jesus was. He was praying for his disciples in the mountains. When our lives are rocked by storms, instead of wondering where Jesus is, we need to remember that he is interceding for us before the Father.

Carl couldn’t understand why he was being faced with his own particular storm. Days of having his own personal space stripped from him made him irritable and out of sorts. But once the storm passed, he returned to being content once more.

“Dear Lord, please help me to have comfort knowing that you are praying for me when I am in the midst of my storms.”

The Storm Continues

Carl is taking advantage of the quiet house before the children return from the movies. We are thankful that we haven’t lost power at this time but won’t be surprised if we fall victim to the strong wind gusts of Florence. The three guest dogs are also resting in the garage and getting used to their new setting.IMG_4196

On the other hand, it is hard to be at peace while my daughter is working as an EMS nurse in Wilmington.  I got a text around 11:00 that she and her crew were headed out for a rescue mission. I can’t imagine how it would feel to be battered around by the strong winds and rain while focusing on taking care of a patient.

No one knows the number of days that this hurricane will play havoc on the eastern part of North and South Carolina. I can tell you for myself that I feel physically and mentally exhausted from the days leading up to this storm. But even as difficult as it has been to give up an incredible vacation to Puerto Rico and take in six family members, I can only believe that I am blessed.

I am thankful that I am rooted in God’s word. Knowing that God is sovereign and has a plan in this storm, helps me to take the focus off of myself and on to the people He has placed in my home. As for Carl, he has been a little agitated by all the activity but seems to be coping.

Dear God, please help me to be available to be used to do your will, particularly in trying times like these. Also, please take care of my daughter and the other individuals that are putting their life on the line to save the people of their community.Sara