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A Different Kind of Friendship

Vern and Bee have become good friends. Each morning you can find them either playing or lying next to each other in front of the fire. When coming home from a trip or just the grocery store, Vern and Bee are sitting next to each other as they wait for our return.

Friendship is one of the most incredible gifts God has given us. Another person who can be trusted with our inner secrets and feel our pain in times of sorrow. Someone who can laugh with us over our mistakes and cry with us when we are hurting.

Enoch had such a friend. In Genesis 5:24, Enoch is described differently than all the other men in the lineage between Adam and Noah. All the other men lived, had children, and then died. But with Enoch, it states “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him”.

What a cool verse. I can envision the scene. Enoch got up every morning and sought out God. And God whispered truth to Enoch and Enoch obeyed whatever he was told. Enoch loved God and wanted to please him. For three hundred years, he started each day, talking to his friend. No matter the situation, Enoch confided in God.

Then one day, as Enoch was discussing life with God, God made a decision. Why should Enoch live on this earth any longer? So God said to Enoch, “Why don’t you come to my house?”

Being obedient and full of faith, Enoch accepted the invitation. And now Enoch resides with God in heaven. And once we make our way to meet our creator, I believe Enoch will be right there to tell us what an incredible friend God is.

Vern and Bee have a friendship that has grown deeper with time. Our two French bull dogs sharing life together under the same roof. No words necessary. Just a compassion and concern for each other.

A Gift For Christmas

Have you ever noticed how content our pets can be with the bare minimal? A little love and attention, along with some food and an occasional treat is all they need in order to feel satisfied with their circumstances. Vern and Bee exemplify what it means to find joy within any environment. Vern is enjoying the fire and gnawing on a found bone. Bee is content with just being.

So why is happiness so fleeting for us humans? Why can’t we know the joy we were created to experience? Tomorrow, Christmas Day is upon us and how are you feeling? Excited at the prospect of what you will receive? Maybe. But for some it’s a reminder of what has been lost. Others are wishing so hard their situation was different that they can’t even consider the blessings that surround them.

Take a moment and soak in this verse that I happened to stumble upon. Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica. He writes, “In EVERYTHING give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)

Notice Paul states, in everything…. Not some things or the good and pleasant things but EVERYTHING. Are you sick? Be thankful. If you are alone, give thanks. If you are in an unhappy marriage? Find reasons for gratitude.

Just give it a try. Stop and bow your head and give thanks for your circumstance. Don’t veer off to the negative. Stay focused on the blessings. Hold on to the good in your situation, even if you have to dig deep… Dig…

Have you ever wondered what God’s will is? Well here it is. Giving thanks. And as you nestle into the will of God, try focusing on his Son and what He did for you. That will surely give you reason for gratitude. Then you will understand the true reason for this season.

Vern and Bee want to wish all of you a Merry or more importantly a grateful Christmas.

Love,

Cora

A Waiting Mindset

Vern looked from person to person, waiting to see what would happen next. Would a walk on the beach be in his future? Or maybe a stroll down the sidewalk where he could interact close and personal with other four legged friends. Whatever the event, he was ready for it to happen. No more waiting around. Let’s do this!

All of us have had to wait.  Most of us have had the experience of waiting for a delayed airplane? Some have had to wait for a dreaded surgery.  On the other side of the coin, some like myself are waiting for a cruise that was supposed to happen two years ago but has been pushed out into the future because of a broken leg and Covid. No matter if the future event is pleasant or feared, everyone has gone through the motions of waiting.

As David is writing Psalm 27, he is waiting. He had been appointed king by the prophet Samuel, but nothing about his life spelled royalty. Instead of sitting on a throne, he was sitting in the midst of despair. David was waiting, but it’s what he is waiting for that gives him the power to turn the waiting into a blessing.

Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD.”

Instead of focusing on what the future holds, David looks to the LORD for the present. He decides to look upon the goodness of the LORD (Psalm 27:13) and wait in the LORD, not what the future may or may not bring.

A couple days ago, my husband and I had plans. We were excited about a visit with some friends, but in the last minute, our friends had to cancel. So instead, we decided to pack up Vern and Bee and make our way to the beach for two days of unseasonable warm weather. And as we enjoy the pleasant temperatures and the sand between our toes, our two little Frenchies wait alongside us for what will happen next.

Vern and Bee are waiting to get the sign from their human father that it’s time to walk. They are sitting still, listening for any indication of movement. Hoping for the call they love to hear. “Vern, are you ready for your walk? Bee, are you coming?”

This is the season of waiting. As I write this, there are twelve days before Christmas. A time of celebrations and presents. A time for children to build imaginary expectations of what they might find under the tree. And a time for everyone to contemplate the meaning of this season.

Christmas music is declaring that Jesus Christ is born. Go tell it on the mountain, Jesus Christ is born. I find it interesting that the word “is” is used instead of “was”. Present tense. And that is where you can find the present that won’t disappoint. A present which gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:15-16 “Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”

You see, turning to the Lord is a gift. When we understand the real reason for the season, a veil is taken off of our hearts, and we enter a new life.

Bee and Vern don’t understand the meaning of the tree that has been placed in our living space. A reminder of the season. A reminder of the life that has been given to us so that we might live for eternity in relationship with God.

Over “There” is Only an Allusion

Bee and Vern looked through the slits in the porch, staring at the still sound waters that surrounds Wrightsville Beach. If I could read their thoughts, I believe they would be asking me to take them over there where they could play in the waters and dig in the sand. Over there would surely make them happy.

How often do we believe that if we could be “there”, or when we get “there” we would be happy? But what we don’t realize is that “there” is only an allusion.

If you study the words of the Bible, you will notice a common theme of the present tense that flows through both the Old and New Testament. Exodus 14:13 states, “Do not be afraid. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today.”

And how about Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Matthew 6:34 states, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of it’s own.”

Hebrews 3:13 simply states, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

All we have is here and now. And only in the present will we discover the gift of joy that our Savior wants us to draw upon.

So just like Bee and Vern, we can all be content in our present condition. And they do seem content as they watch the waters from a distance. For us, no matter where we are, we can find joy, if we can push out the thought of “there” and rejoice in the here.

A Happily Ever After

From a distance, Vern and Bee’s coats look amazing. But if you get up close, you will see some patches of dandruff on Vern’s back and redness around Bee’s neck. No matter how hard we try to address these issues, they persist.

When God created the earth and finished with the creation of man, he looked over the world and said it was good. And it was. Creation had started with the animals being herbivores, with no need to kill other species. The soil was rich and there was enough food for all to eat until full.

So what happened? Man wasn’t satisfied with what they had been given. We wanted more than what God had so generously provided. So after Adam ate of the fruit, sin came into the world. And a separation took place between the creation and the creator. Peace and tranquility were replaced with suffering.

But thankfully, there is a happily ever after for those who place their hope in Jesus. You see, God loves us too much to leave us without a way to spend eternity in the new heaven and the new earth. In his infinite love, he commanded his son, Jesus, to come to earth and be the perfect sacrifice for each and every one of us.

So, if you haven’t gotten to know Jesus, please do. Take some time to read his words and actually get to know him for yourself. John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” You see, Jesus is the word and was sent so that we could actually know God and how much he loves us.

Vern and Bee will probably suffer from skin allergies all of their lives. But I do have hope that we can figure out ways to minimize the impact the allergies have on them. In the same manner, I will hope for a time when suffering no longer exists and all creation will be as God intended.

The Broken Chosen

Have you ever been shelling down a beach that is known for its incredible sea life? If you have, you probably weren’t alone in your pursuit of the perfect shell. A shell that has all its elements intact and has a uniqueness that prompts you to stop and pick it up.

This morning my husband and I woke and immediately headed for the beach. As we walked onto the sand, hundreds of other shellers were stooping in the water, on a sandbar, or on the shore pursuing the perfect shell.

As I walked and raked through hundreds of shells, I thought of how I was seeking for the unbroken. A shell with no sign of distress or torn parts. I only wanted the beautiful and highest of standards.

My thoughts caused me to question my motives. Why was the perfect shell worth choosing? Why not look for the broken or distressed? Couldn’t I see beauty in these shells with their imperfections?

And then my thoughts turned towards our heavenly father and how he chose me with all my inadequacies and brokenness. How he sought me out among the masses of people that are more beautiful and talented.

David must have also asked the question of why he was chosen to be king of Israel when Samuel approached him. Weren’t all his brothers stronger and mightier than he? And it was clear their father thought very little of him. So why did God choose him?

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

I then began to see how lucky the broken shells were. They were being thrown back into their natural environment to enjoy their surroundings, while the chosen shells were stuffed into a bag and brought home to be placed on temporary display.

And it occurred to me how blessed the broken are, particularly when they are chosen by a gracious father with heavenly insight.

Combatting Loneliness

Vern and Bee were left alone this morning. All by themselves with hours of solitude facing them before their caregivers make their appearance. Both dogs knew something was about to happen as they watched the suitcases skate across the floor and out into the vehicles. But when the door slammed closed, the reality of the situation became crystal clear.

How often do we feel the impact of being left behind? When my daughter was four, she was unintentionally left behind at a time share. With the number of people going to a restaurant, my husband and I assumed our daughter was in the other car. When we finally made it back to her, she was visibly shaken. When asked what she thought, she shared that she had formulated a plan for the rest of her life that excluded us.

At one time or another, we all have been left behind for some reason or another. We have felt the isolation and insecurity that comes with the solitude of being left alone. And when these times come again, and they will, how can we face them with a growing spirit?

God has never wanted us to feel alone. He created us to have a relationship with him and others. But knowing we would sin and separate ourselves from others, he not only allowed his Son to die for our sins, but also provided us with the Holy Spirit to abide within us, so we wouldn’t be alone.

“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 1:13)

The Holy Spirit lives within us and is a counselor, advocate, friend and so much more. But when I find myself alone, even in a large crowd, I know that I have a living spirit that lives within me that I know is there for me, at the times I need a friend the most.

As for Bee and Vern, they will be fine until their caregivers arrive. And until then, they have each other to lean up against in their comfortable home and backyard.

Satisfied Ambition

As I approached the door, I didn’t realize that Vern was at my feet. And when the door opened, Vern made his way down the steps into the yard. Given I was still on crutches, there was no way to chase after him, so I had to take a different approach.

I stayed as calm as I could as I went through the garage trying to find a treat that might entice him. But there wasn’t any type of food in the outside refrigerator he would enjoy. So I hobbled up the back stairs, almost tripping as I went. Finally, I made it inside and found some sandwich meat to persuade him to come into the house.

After retrieving the sandwich meat, I called to Vern with the only word I believed would convince him to enter into the screened in porch. “Treat” And sure enough as I held the meat towards the opened door, he trotted through the opening and snatched the meat off the floor.

As I was watching Vern walk outside and look around, I wondered if he even knew why he wanted to escape the safety of his home. What was out there in the world that he fought to get to? Would he be content with the fact that he had obtained his goal?

James Buchannan Duke was a determined man. Ever since he was a little boy in the 1860’s, he was preoccupied with becoming successful. When his father started selling tobacco, he became obsessed with the business. He surrounded himself with driven men and pushed forward until he literally made a fortune.

Towards the end of his life, James Buchannan formed a forty million dollar foundation for the building of Duke University and to the support of other colleges in which he held in high esteem. When signing the documents, he was asked whether luxury wouldn’t spoil people. His response was shocking to say the least. He stated, “There will be no luxury. Nothing makes people so unhappy as luxury. Satisfied ambition is an awful thing.”

Did I hear that correctly? James Buchannan had everything he had ever wanted and he writes that it only made him unhappy. And then to finish his statement by saying satisfied ambition is an awful thing. How many of us believe that if we can only obtain our goals and get to the place we dream about, we will be happy?

Paul writes to the Romans regarding life in the flesh. In Romans 8:6 he states, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

How often have you thought happiness and peace comes with the accomplishments of worldly goals? I know I have fallen victim to stretching my resources to obtain a dream that came up short.

As for Vern, he came inside and made his way onto the couch where a peace settled in. And instead of meeting death by car, he is now content living within the confines of his master’s home.

The Great Power Outage

Vern doesn’t feel well. He threw up his breakfast in several different piles and is now sitting very still. He doesn’t have the energy he usually does. Instead of playing with his sister Bee, he glares around the room with no power to move.

Have you ever felt the power to move forward has been zapped out of you? Instead of getting the important tasks on your to do list done, you sit frozen in front of a screen, with no energy to proceed.

Can you imagine a day without power? Not the electrical kind but the kind that we can possess to change and draw closer to our main source?

When Jesus was getting ready to die, he warned his disciples of three days when the power would be cut off. Days filled with hopelessness and impossibilities.

Matthew 26:31 “Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

And sure enough, Jesus was crucified and with unmet expectations and shattered dreams, his sheep fell away. And for three days, while Jesus lay in the tomb, the power was cut off. Darkness filled the hearts of the people. From all appearances, Satan had won and the world was his to reign.

But then on the third day, Jesus rose. And in that moment, the power came on. Power to raise men from the grave, power to change our impossibilities to incredible possibilities. Power to unite his sheep.

Vern did get up long enough to take a short walk before falling asleep on his blanket. Hopefully, with a little bit of time, he will be back to his normal self.