Author Archives: coradarrah

About coradarrah

Author of Here We Go Joe and Seasons at the Bus Stop. I am currently going into schools and sharing my life as an author.

The Neon Lights of Fear

Vern’s cries could be heard upstairs. Not sure why there was such a commotion, I peered down to find Bee in front of the fire. The place I left Vern only moments earlier. And there lying on the carpet steps away from the ideal spot was Vern with body creeping ever closer to the place he gave up.

There is only one reason Vern would give up such an idyllic location. Fear. Plain and simple. Even though his sister is smaller and much older, the little French Bull dog is afraid of the bully that he resides with.

Why is he afraid? Before giving him such a hard time, look at your own fears. The unwelcome thoughts that come through your mind coupled with the emotions that enhance them. The road blocks that stand in your way of going down the path that God has etched for you.

Are you afraid of failure? How about success? Or what about change? Could it be a conversation that you need to have with someone you care about? And it goes on and on. The four letter word that can take over, if we aren’t careful.

So when the neon lights of fear flash in front of you, what should we do? Ignore them and they will come back, hold back and they will take hold. The answer is simple and complex all at the same time.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

If we can place our focus on our God, our mighty and compassionate Lord, He will lead us through the fear and create a confidence within us.

As for Vern, it is hard to predict if he will overcome. As long as he succumbs to Bee’s stern approach, fear will hold a grip on our little bully. Only time will tell.

Close to Home

Vern only knows what is directly in front of him. He doesn’t know how other dogs live. He only knows about his yard, house, and what he spots when we walk around the block. Vern knows what he will be receiving when I say “treat” or “dinner”. But if he wanted a different yard to play in or a different kind of food, he would be out of luck.

So far, life has treated the little French bulldog well. But if he was to get hurt or lost, he would have a difficult time without our assistance. And as little as our puppy knows, he does have the sense to realize how much he needs us for direction and protection.

In Mark, chapter 6 a multitude of people come running after Jesus. They didn’t have food for the day or a way to protect themselves from the elements. But they came anyway. And what is Jesus’ reaction to these people that appeared to be lost? Mark 6:34 states, “And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.”

Have you ever thought of yourself as lost or unprotected from the hurled rocks that are being thrown at you from all directions? If so, you are just like these people that came to Jesus. And just like them, there is a shepherd that wants to guide you home.

Vern rarely tries to get out of the fence or squeeze through the screen door. He has become content in knowing that if he stays close to his human provider, he will be safe and loved.

If only we could imitate the animals that God gives us to help us home….

Facing our Fears

Vern loves to go camping but when it is time for sleep, he transforms from a confident male to a meek puppy full of fear. Last night as we lay our heads down and turned the light off, Vern began to cry. At first it was a soft whimper but when we didn’t react, it transitioned into a loud howl. No matter how many times we reassured him that it would be okay, the cries continued.

So finally, he got what he wanted. As I reached down and brought him up into the bed, I knew that it was not going to be pleasant. And I was right. All night, Vern snored right in my ear. An intermittent sound that reminded me of riding a bike over gravel. If that had been the only issue, I believe I could have gotten some sleep, but it wasn’t. Either his paws were pressed into my back or he was moving around to get comfortable.

Fear is one of the strongest motivators known to man or beast. We will persist down the wrong path in life due to being afraid of change. We will stop our dreams in midstream when the fear of failure or even success takes over. Fear is why so many people never reach their full potential.

Jesus knew fear like no one else and he looked it right in the eye and conquered it. Matthew 26:38-39 paints a clear picture of this fear. “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘”My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as your will.’”

As we know, Jesus took the cup of the cross and went straight into the depths of death for our sake. Hopefully, because of his willingness to fight off fear, I can do the same.
I am not sure where Vern will sleep tonight. I hope he will conquer his fear and sleep on the floor. But only time will tell.


(I want to dedicate this entry to Lucita Lyons, my sister in Christ. She passed away this week from breast cancer. This woman of faith encouraged me to keep writing, even after my main muse, Carl died. I will always remember her for supporting me through my fears.)

The Art of Contentment

Vern appeared perfectly content. After breakfast had been served, he went for his morning walk around the neighborhood. He spotted a deer in the distance and pulled tightly on the leash when another larger dog came into view. But now that he was home, Vern had nothing else on his agenda but to do a little relaxing before taking a short nap.

Life for Vern is light and free of burdens. Not so much for all of us humans. All of us have concerns weighing on us. Covid has impacted all of us in our own unique way. And if it isn’t this nasty virus on the top of our minds, then it must be the political craziness that stirs all around us. And the list can go on and on….

So I was reflecting on Jesus and if he was present today what he would be talking about and doing with his time. And as I studied what he talked about and what he did, I was a little surprised. Jesus never discussed politics nor did he get involved in heavy discussions about the way the Romans were treating the people of the day.

Instead, Jesus focused on the kingdom of God. He spoke in parables to the masses that had come to him for hope. He healed people and removed demons. He raised people from the dead and fed thousands with only a loaf and a couple of fish.

Jesus saw our inner needs being far more important than all the stuff swirling around. And I believe if he was here today, he would say exactly what he said over two thousand years ago. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Vern has found a cool spot near Bee and is enjoying a moment of tossing around on the rug. With no cares or worries, this little dog has a lot to teach me. When I want to place the afflictions of the day upon my back, I need to look down at my four legged friends and remember the one who is always there to take on my burdens.

In the Shade of Little Things

Vern slipped his little body through my legs and slithered outside where he began to explore the freedom of the world. My first attempt to catch him was unsuccessful as his small black frame slipped from my grasp. I had to take a different approach so I rushed back inside and found the treats that stopped him in his tracks.

Even though Vern is a little guy, he has made a huge impact on our lives. His sweet personality and curious nature have brought a smile to our hearts.

Have you ever noticed how God uses little things to draw us closer to him? It could be so small at first that we might not even notice it. A tiny voice in the back of our mind, a new friend that speaks a different way of doing life, or a virus that can’t be seen with the naked eye.

Jesus stated in Mark 4:30-32, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth, but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”

God uses little things to create the biggest changes in our lives. This has become apparently clear as we all have struggled to be grateful in the times of Covid-19. But if we focus on the little things that we have been given, hopefully, we will not miss out on the shade God is providing.

Words of Life

Vern was incessant on picking up any small pebble or plant that he could find along the hard concrete road. If it was in anyway in his reach, it was in his mouth for at least a good tasting. After he would roll it around for a taste test, he would decide to either swallow it or drop it back on the road. It was just what he does.

Vern’s behavior of picking up stones reminds me of the parable of the sower. Jesus states in Mark 4:3-4 “Listen! Behold a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it.”

The crowds of people listened intently to the parable but most didn’t understand what he was trying to say. Today, in our world there is a sower sowing for all to hear. Right now as you read the words that Jesus preached, the sower is sowing.

What happens to the word will depend on the softness of your heart and your willingness to take it in and mull it over. If you let the words fall to the ground without taking it in, the birds of the air, or Satan himself will pick it up and take it away.

Instead of letting it drop away without much thought, pick up your Bible and cultivate the word in your heart. You might be surprised at how impactful it can be in these unprecedented times.

As for Vern, hopefully with time, he will quit putting everything in his mouth. But for now, I can’t imagine what is mulling around in his mouth.

Destinations

Vern and Bee stayed at the campsite as we made our way to the trails that circled Stone Mountain. I had been warned about the number of steps that you must climb upward in order to get back up from the waterfall. So when we saw that there was a trail that would take us around the back of the mountain, we took it.

Little did we know that what we gave up in stairs, we drastically multiplied with steps. At first the path through the woods was flat with tangled roots, but as the day went on, the incline became steeper and more intense. At one point, we even lost sight of the trail we were supposed to be using and took a primitive path that only headed straight up.

The ascent seemed like it took hours. As we continued the steep climb I found myself covered with perspiration and having a difficult time catching my breath. The steps had turned to stone and it seemed impossible to find a place to lodge my foot to continue the climb.

As I struggled with the ascent upwards, I couldn’t help but think about the steps Jesus took towards the cross. If you ever have a chance to take a walk in the mountains, each step is essential to get to your destination. It is particularly mind boggling when you get to a point that you know that you have no choice but to go forward even when the terrain screams out to turn back.

I wonder sometimes if Jesus wanted to turn back as he made every step along the way. At the very beginning of his ministry when he was baptized in the Jordan, he must have known his final destination. Miles of walking through the dessert led him to Samaria where he spoke to a woman by the well. As he conversed with her and she was awakened to who he was, it must have provoked a thought of the journey ahead. Or what about the time he fed the thousands of people with a holy happy meal. To witness all the people experience a full stomach for the first time in their lives must have been a reminder of where he was going. Later towards the end of his ministry, as he rode into Jerusalem on the back of a mule, he must have known that there was no turning back.  While the people waved palm leaves and created a path for him, he knew he had come to his final destination. (Visit Luke 19:41-44)

Once we had finally made it to the summit of Stone Mountain and enjoyed the spectacular views, we walked down a gravel path to the car and safely back to our campsite where we were greeted by Vern and Bee. Neither of them had any idea of the treacherous journey we had just encountered. But that was okay. Vern acted like he was truly happy to see us.

My excursion up Stone Mountain was nothing compared to the journey Jesus took in my place to the cross. But I am grateful for accomplishing this feat and particularly the reflection of Jesus as I took one step in front of the other.

Vern’s Idea of Contentment

Vern looked up from the back seat and began to whimper. Was he distressed or just didn’t understand where we were going without his sister Bee. As much as he enjoyed being with us, it appeared that he just couldn’t figure out why she was left behind. We would have thought Vern would love the idea of having our undivided attention, but given he has never been away from Bee, he probably did miss her.

We can’t fault Vern for wanting his doggy companion to be with him. Aren’t we all like him to a certain degree? From an outsider’s point of view, everything should be wonderful, but it just isn’t. That one thing that we desire, is missing.

So how can we be content in our circumstances, no matter what is going on? Particularly now, with life turned upside down and normalcy nowhere to be found. Sometimes, I personally want to scream for the life we had before Covid-19.

There is a scripture tucked in the book of Psalms that can serve as a springboard for all of us. “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 34:4) But how do we take delight in the LORD when our treasures are bound in the things of the world? “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.”(Psalm 34:3)

As we go through these times of uncertainty, we need to trust in the LORD and do good. If we cultivate faithfulness, our desires will change. Instead of looking to the ways of the world for our contentment, God promises us to change our hearts. As for Vern, he seems to have calmed down and is now content being close to his daddy.

The Positive Power of Immediacy

As soon as Vern was taken out of the stroller and placed down on the hard concrete, he immediately took the lead. He was not going to let his sister Bee push ahead of him through the neighborhood. No, he was determined to be in charge.

How often do we immediately act? Vern doesn’t even consider thinking about his choices, he just does what his little puppy brain tells him. That can include eating rocks or flipping bugs up in the air until someone gets hurt. No matter what he does, he acts immediately.

I never thought of doing things immediately as a positive attribute. Many times, if we rush into an act without too much thought, we can be considered rash and irresponsible. So why is the word “immediately” used over thirty-five times in the book of Mark?

After Jesus was baptized, it states the Holy Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness. When Jesus approached Simon and Andrew and asked them to follow him, they immediately dropped their fishing equipment and went after him. When Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, they immediately went to the synagogue where Jesus entered and taught. And the use of this word goes on and on throughout the book.

How often do we over think the things that the Spirit puts on our hearts? How many times have you thought of a good deed that you could do but your created excuses took over? Instead of reacting immediately, it is easy to think the situation right out of our minds.

Vern on the other hand, acts without thinking about any of the consequences or outcomes of his actions. He just does. Even if the end result doesn’t always produce a positive outcome, at least he does it. I can learn from Vern and act when it is clear that the Spirit of God is directing me. How about you?

Son Drenched Days

The sound of the pitter pattering of Vern’s web shaped feet could be heard as he made his way across the back porch. For the first time in five days, the rain had stopped and the sun was making a strong come back. Finally, after being cooped inside with little to do, the puppy appears delighted to be able to explore the outside world.

But instead of spending a lot of extra energy on petty things like eating pine cones or digging up dirt from the wet ground, Vern has found a spot in the warm sun and has sprawled down to take in the balminess of the day.

For many of us, the clouds of life have covered up the Son and all his goodness. We have been so focused on the troubles that have come raining down on us, that we have been unable to see the hope that is ever present.

James 1:2 states, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”

This might be one of the hardest verses to wrap our minds around, particularly when we are experiencing trials that don’t appear to be ending. Clouds of life have closed in and all we want is to get out of the trials.  If we could change our mindset and consider the joy that is all around us, we might be able to see life from an entirely different perspective.

We can begin by training ourselves to think of the blessings that we still have. Instead of negative thoughts, scream out the goodness that is present. You may have forgotten about these hidden treasures that just need to be recognized.

Vern hasn’t experienced a lot of life up to this point, but I can tell that he lives in the moment, whatever it has to offer. Either in rainy days or in sun drenched mornings, his demeanor is bright and sunny. A clear reminder of the goodness that is ever present.