The Importance of Remembering

Bee has been gone for nearly three weeks. She has been with my daughter and her family. One member of my daughter’s family is her dog Maddie who can be seen in this picture doing what she does well, jumping. Bee, on the other hand, is waiting for the door to open so she can come in and have her dinner.

Just the other day, after we had gotten off a cruise ship, my husband and I were taken by bus to the airport where we were corralled into a check in line. As we all waited patiently, people were coming off buses and stepping in front of us, disregarding the lines of people off to the left.

I could feel my anger building up and the need to call out to the service attendants about the unfairness of the situation. My husband told me to calm down which only caused me to become angrier. Why had I become so annoyed in only a matter of minutes? What was it about my own nature that precipitated these emotions?

“The Israelites said to them, “’If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.’” Exodus 16:3

We all have a tendency to judge the Israelites for their negative attitude as they were shuffled out of Egypt and led through the wilderness. But if I can’t keep a positive attitude for thirty minutes in an airport line, why would I think that I could stay cool wondering in the desert without food or water?

And if I struggled over such a minor issue, how can I get through the major calamities of life? There is only one way that I know of. Remembering who God is. If we can only take the focus off of our present circumstances and place it on who God is, our feelings will follow.

Bee finally got inside and has eaten not only that meal but many others while being with my daughter’s family. She has added an inch or two around her waist and doesn’t seem to be missing me. But none the less, I am looking forward to having her home and our family all together again.

God’s Power Exemplified

As Bee led me down the beach, her raised tail and upright body demonstrated to me that she was enjoying the sea breeze and the last of the warm fall temperatures. She even loved the feel of the sand underneath her paws. But the one thing she did not enjoy was the sensation of the cold ocean water as it drenched her without warning. 

Bee seemed so confident on dry land but just the brush of the cold ocean water repelled her towards the higher sandy beach and the safety that I had to offer. Aren’t we all like her in a way? When all the conditions of life are to our satisfaction, we appear so confident. But once the cold unpleasant experiences surface, we run towards the comfort that we enjoy?

The Israelites are a perfect picture of how humanity reacts when the waves of life come lapping at our feet. God had just redeemed them from a life of slavery and was leading them out into an unknown existence. The Israelites were in high spirits during their first few miles of their journey but then when they heard the chariots of the Egyptians come out of nowhere, they were terrified and faithless.

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” (Exodus 14:21-22)

God had to create an impossible situation in order for His power to be exemplified. The Israelites had already gone through a night where the angel of death had killed all the first born of the Egyptians but even so, they needed to see an unexplained supremacy take control of the physical world. And that is what God gave them.

After Bee shook the water off, she continued to walk down the beach with a confident air. On the other hand, I looked out over the ocean and waves and was struck by its enormity and force. Thankfully, God didn’t cause the ocean water to stand straight up as I walked the beach. He didn’t have to. Just knowing his word and what he has done in the past is enough to believe that He could.

Contemplating the Benefits of Discomfort

Bee came running inside her doggy door and immediately shook off the cold weather that had swaddled her body while she was out doing her business. Once inside, she headed directly towards her warm cozy bed that is lodged in front of the fireplace.

She couldn’t get there fast enough. Instantly, she laid her pudgy body down and sprawled out so every inch of her physique could feel the warmth of the gas flamed fire. Nothing or no one was going to get in her way.

How quickly do we place our sights on the comforts of this world and nothing or no one better get in our way? I have to admit that I love having air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. I also jump at the idea of planning a trip, particularly if it involves having my meals prepared and my bed made each morning.

And in moderation, there is nothing wrong with this lifestyle. But what if we decided to get uncomfortable every once in a while? What if we do a couple of things a week that we really don’t want to do but know that if we do, we could actually meet the needs of someone else?

Jesus gives us something to think about when making these decisions.

Matthew 25:31-40 states, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Bee hasn’t moved since finding her sweet spot in front of the fire. As for me, I am considering my options and writing down my to do list.

Hidden Gifts

It’s time to move on. Carl still lies in the backyard under a mum and a spread of ivy that is covering up where there used to be churned up dirt. Time to look in a different direction. A time for leaving the path that I have been so accustomed to and finally putting it to rest.

Bee’s ears perked up by the mention of a walk. Her body came to life at this simple word. Instead of being told to stay, the temperatures have become perfect for our little Frenchie with her smashed in nose to take to the streets. A time to wiggle her little tail and pull her master around the block.

Now that Bee has taken center stage, her personality has begun to shine. It has always been there but my attention was pulled in another direction. How often do we get distracted by certain things in life that keep us from seeing the gifts that are right in front of us?

So many of the religious leaders that interacted with Jesus missed the gift that God had given to them. For thousands of years, the Jews had been waiting for the Messiah. They had studied the law and knew the scriptures but when Jesus finally arrived, the religious leaders missed the gift.

The love of power and the deep seeded pride of being right had kept them blinded from seeing exactly what they had prayed and yearned for.  Before I can judge these men, I need to reflect on my own life and see what keeps me from seeing the gifts, particularly the gift of Jesus.

I know that the distractions of this world with all of its glamour and pleasantries has kept me from seeing who Jesus is. If I could just move these distractions out of the way, I probably will be surprised at how much clearer I can see who Jesus is.

I have realized from having to go down this altered path in life that there are gifts for us to take hold of. And for me, Bee just happens to be one of them.

Treasured Relationships

Walking Bee looks a lot different from when we walked Carl. Carl always led and under no circumstances did he need assistance. He could walk over five miles and hardly break a sweat.  Bee on the other hand, can only walk a couple hundred yards in the heat before needing to stop and catch her breath.

So today, my husband decided to pull out the doggy stroller so Bee could complete a walk around the neighborhood with us. And sure enough after only a few minutes, we had to place her in the stroller, and tie her down so she could enjoy our company.

In today’s world with everything calling for our attention, we might need to be tied down so we can enjoy each other’s company. So often we are distracted by good things but miss out on the best things that God has provided.

One of the most valuable treasures that God has given to us are our relationships with people who have common spiritual values. People who are willing to encourage us in our weakest moments without judgment or condemnation. People who feel comfortable giving us advice when we are fighting our own personal battles.  

Proverbs 20:21 states, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”

Proverbs 24:25-26 states, “The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength. Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.”

When we have a common purpose and are willing to listen to the advice of people we can trust, we will be victorious in the end.

Dogs are not able to give advice but they are able to extend an undeniable sense of love and compassion for their two legged friends. And since Carl has passed, Bee has been there to show us lots of love, even if it is from the inside of a doggy stroller.

Unfamiliar Waters

I am now in unfamiliar waters. Far from the normalcy that I have become accustomed to. Since Carl has left us, life has taken me in a direction that I didn’t choose or predict.

Many times in life, we get diverted and have to figure out how we are going to handle the situation that has been placed in our lives. There is no one that knew this better than the Apostle Paul. Since his conversion, life changed drastically for him.

Paul lost all control of his circumstances. After being imprisoned for his faith, taken on a ship in rough waters, and then shipwrecked on an island called Malta, this man only had his faith in God to rely on. While on the island, he accidently picked up a poisonous snake that bit him. Everyone thought he would die but instead, he lived without any effects of the snake.

Malta was a place that Paul did not plan on going to. He probably wondered how God would use him on such a small remote island in the middle of nowhere. But He did. Just like Paul, I am in a place that I was not expecting to be in without my little writing buddy by my side.

God has given me Bee, my other French bull dog to help fill the gap. She has been a little lost since Carl has left us, but enjoying all the extra attention a one dog family affords. She has been quick to get in my husband’s lap and come by my side for extra petting. Just this morning, she truly enjoyed a walk around the block without having to fight her way to the front.

Just like Bee, I need to be willing to look forward and not towards the past. And if I do, hopefully, I will understand how to find God’s presence in the midst of unfamiliar waters.

Carl- On the Other Side

If Carl could see my husband and I as we have mourned for him in the last couple of days, he probably wouldn’t understand the tears or sad looks. He wouldn’t comprehend how the thought of him in all of his usual places causes us to catch our breath as we try to shake off the unwelcome feelings.

The pain of loss is a difficult emotion to move through. I keep telling myself that is better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all. But it still doesn’t make the feelings go away or change the realization that we will never see our beloved Carl again.

I have received several encouraging notes about a Rainbow Bridge where animals go until they greet their owners on the other side. A place where animals have all their needs met and no longer suffer.

I love the thought of Carl running around an open field making new four legged friends. No leashes or restraints, just the freedom of running free. I can also envision him as he turns his head upward and howls for everyone to know that he has arrived.

But what gives me the most hope about this situation can be found in John 11:32-33. “When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

What gives me the most encouragement is the fact that Jesus entered Mary’s pain. He didn’t minimize it or down play it, but he allowed it to consume him. He cried with her and I know he is crying with me now. He doesn’t think being upset at the loss of a dog is silly or trite. Instead, he is beside me as I suffer.

It brings me an extreme amount of comfort just knowing the author of life has entered into our pain. And with this knowledge, I believe that He will provide for our furry friend in death as he takes care of us in life.

I want to thank all of you who have supported me as I have written about all the craziness that came with living with Carl. I am not sure if I will continue to blog, but I am sure God will provide an avenue if it is meant to be. In the meantime, if you would like to purchase my book, Empty Hands, it is now available today on Amazon as an eBook for only $.99.

Thank you,

Cora