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

Closer to the Storm

A lot can happen in 48 hours. The clouds have gotten heavy and the winds have started to blow. Instead of being alone though, Carl now has four other dogs and a cat to keep him company. Four children are making our house their home, and my son in law and his mother are hunkering down to ride out the hurricane.IMG_4192

Carl seems happy to have so much attention and is enjoying this time without a clue of the reason for the onslaught of humans and canines. The television is on more than usual and everyone is praying that Florence will not create the devastation that the forecasters are calling for.

There must be countless numbers of other families that are feeling the impact of this storm even before it has made landfall. People who are headed west without a clear destination. Others that have settled in with family or friends that ordinarily they would never consider spending a night with.

God is good and good all the time. He is sovereign and even though no one can understand the reason for the devastation that is getting ready to take place, we must put our trust in His will for our lives. I know for me, there are many lessons that I am in the midst of learning. IMG_4168

“Lord, please help all of us, particularly me, to see your goodness through the storms of our lives.”

Transferring the Heart from One to Another- A Good Hug

 

Carl doesn’t hug. He will jump up on my lap and rub against my leg but he doesn’t hug. I never thought about how dogs or any other animal lacks the ability to embrace until the other day.   I must admit I am typically a tentative hugger. Joe and Ellie 7-3

I grew up without many hugs from family members and up until just recently wouldn’t initiate a hug. I had a good friend that challenged me to change how I hugged.  Instead of a weak squeeze with a little pat on the back, she encouraged me to use a strong grasp that let the person know that I cared.

Why did God create us to embrace others? What emotion or unfulfilled need is met with a strong hold by two people? I never gave this much thought until the other day. I had gone to visit a family that lost their young son from an aggressive cancer.

Once I entered the house, the grieving mother approached me with an intense hug. This hug was different.  It was like a need was being met by transferring the heart of one to another. The embrace lasted longer than most and once we separated, I couldn’t help but feel that God had actually created us to hug.

As I thought about hugging, I decided to research in the Bible to see if there was any mention of Jesus hugging others. And to my astonishment, there is not one verse that states that He hugged anyone. One friend stated that He probably didn’t embrace others due to the amount of power that he held.

In Mark 5: 25-34, there is an account of a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years. She has been to doctors but her condition has only gotten worse. When she heard about Jesus and how He had been healing others, she made her way through the crowd and reached down and touched the hem of his garment.

“Immediately, her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.  Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

There could be many other reasons why hugging by our savior is not mentioned.  It may not have been the custom or the authors didn’t find a purpose in writing about it. Anyway, I do believe that God did create us to hug each other.

As for Carl, getting him to put his paws in my lap is probably as close as I will get to a real hug. But that is okay.  IMG_4149God has given me enough people to hug and Carl seems to be content with a good pat on the head.

The Price of a Peaceful Heart

If I just didn’t love Carl and Bee so much.  But the truth is our little dogs are our “babies”.  With the approaching hurricane, my husband and I had to make an extremely difficult decision. Instead of going to Puerto Rico for several days with my daughter whom we haven’t seen in many months, we canceled our trip. IMG_2358

Carl and Bee have a difficult enough time when we are gone for several hours but if we got stranded away, they could definitely be traumatized.  So, with heavy hearts we are going to stay home where we will be with our dogs as Florence makes its way over us.

To make life even more interesting for us as we go through hurricane force winds, our four grandchildren will be joining us for the ride. Given that my other daughter is an EMS worker in Wilmington, it just made sense that they be evacuated.

The hurricane isn’t supposed to arrive until Thursday but our little ones will be coming tomorrow afternoon. So instead of a quiet vacation on the island of Puerto Rico, we will create our own island as the waters approach Durham, North Carolina.

Carl has no idea of the sacrifice we will be making by staying home, but that is okay. Peace in my heart is much more valuable than a drink with an umbrella and time on the beach.

Lord, I know you will be with us as we go through this storm. Just as your Son tamed the winds and waves, I believe You can give us a peace during the days and weeks to come.

Our Unfulfilled Purpose

Carl doesn’t care too much about anything but getting his needs met. Two meals, water, a place to sleep and lots of stroking are all the essentials to a happy life. For the most part, this is the same for all dogs.  They go through life doing what they are intended for, being loved and loving the people in their lives.IMG_4135

If you think about it, all animals have a specific purpose that they go through life fulfilling without much effort. So why then is it so hard for us humans to be content in the role that we were created for?

The answer can only be found within the pages of the Bible. Adam and Eve had everything they needed or could want in the Garden of Eden. They began their existence fulfilling their purpose by living in harmony with God. All was going well until Eve was tempted by the serpent.

Genesis 3:1-6 states,

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

How often are we tempted by the one thing that we are told to stay away from? Just like Eve, we can fall into temptation because we have desires for things that are not from God. Notice how she saw that the apple was pleasing to the eye. How often are we distracted from spending time with God because of our pursuit of what is pleasing to the eye?

God had given them everything they needed but Eve wasn’t content with it. She believed the serpent’s lie and decided she wanted more. It is when we pursue the things that we want that we can lose sight of our real purpose.

Carl doesn’t think about his purpose and he doesn’t have to. He goes through life being a dog that seems content with who he is and what he has. We all have so much to learn from Carl and the animals that are around us. If we could focus on our true purpose of glorifying God, what an incredible world we would have.IMG_4115

 

The Blessings of Waiting

Carl spends most of his day in the waiting mode. He is either waiting for the delivery of food, human contact, or a good walk around the block. When he is in the act of waiting, it is clear that this is not what he wants to do.  He demonstrates this by looking right at us and letting out a squeal that reminds you of a wild pig. When this tactic doesn’t work, he will lay down on the floor and produce a pitiful expression.IMG_2080

No one likes to wait.  It makes us feel awkward and uncomfortable. Just yesterday I went to the drive in window at my bank and found one car in front of me. Given my most recent wait times, I was expecting a couple of minutes but after five minutes, I began to fight off feelings of agitation. When my watch indicated that I had been waiting ten minutes, I began to think of ways to get out of line.

Waiting in line is one thing but waiting in life is completely different. Have you ever thought of the times that you believed it was time to receive what you wanted and how you felt when you had to wait?

So often we make plans and insert them into our heart only to come up empty. It could be a successful career, a spouse, a baby, a huge house, and the list goes on and on. No matter what your situation is in life, you are probably waiting for something.

Proverbs 16:9 states a simple fact that can be easily understood but hard to digest. “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

In other words, we can make plans and become passionate about them but God will have the final say on what will actually happen. We also need to remember that God does this because He loves us. He knows when it is best for us to wait and when it is time to be given what we desire.

As I have grown older and hopefully a little wiser, I can reflect back on my life and look at the times of waiting as a blessing. I had to wait to become pregnant with both of my children and know I appreciate them much more because of the wait. And at the other end of life, my husband and I had to wait for the death of our parents.  All four of them had terminal illnesses that lingered for months and for one, years.

During these times of waiting, my character was revealed. Many days were spent in a constant desire to be in a different place of life. But even as difficult as it was, I do believe God intentionally placed me in a state of waiting to refine me.

It is too bad that Carl doesn’t change due to all of the waiting he has had to endure. I have heard the waiting that we go through referred to as the white spaces in our lives. I find it fitting that Carl happens to be a white dog and thus the white space that has made his home in my life.IMG_2163

 

The Brutality of Disappointment

Disappointment could be clearly seen plastered across Carl’s face. I didn’t have time to take him for his walk and as he followed me around the house, he shared with me his pitiful frustrated state of mind. He knew when I put my tennis outfit on instead of my walking clothes that I was going to leave him behind.IMG_2164

Disappointment is a bitter emotion that can cause us to turn from our faith and rely on our feelings. When we are not studying the truth and something happens in our lives, our natural response is to immediately turn to our feelings as the picture of our reality.

But if we are in the Bible and digesting the facts of God’s word, when disappointment does coming knocking, we will be better prepared to accept any situation that comes our way. David and Saul are great examples of this. David, meditated on the truth and was constantly calling out to God. Saul on the other hand, relied totally on his feelings when making decisions.

Even though Saul was king, he didn’t feel like it. He constantly compared himself to David and lived in a state of disappointment. These feelings drove him to spend his entire life hunting down David in order to make himself feel like the king.

David on the other hand was living in danger every wakening moment but didn’t see his life based on his emotions but on the truth that God never breaks promises. He had been anointed as king and he believed that his God would ultimately place him in this role.

Many times in the book of Psalms, we can witness David working through his emotions based on the truth. Psalm 61:1-4 is a clear picture of how this man dealt with his feelings.

“Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You. When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy.  I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.”

David starts with a plea based on his emotions but he quickly takes the focus off his feelings and turns it towards the truth about God.

We have so much to learn from this scripture and how to overcome the entrapment of our feelings. As for Carl, he will never understand this principle of putting the facts before his feelings. Even so, I am thankful for him even if I have to constantly assure him through the emotions of his disappointments.IMG_4102