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Vern and the Little People

Vern stood still and watched as the short humans played all around him. Their quick moves and rolling on the floor was different from the taller humans he was accustomed to. He seemed to enjoy this version of humans and particularly liked it when they would include him in the wrestling around game.

Vern wondered why they were so different. His regular humans appeared stiff and wouldn’t run and roll around like the smaller version. They didn’t care about exploring under tables and inside closets and weren’t as much fun to be around. The smaller sized humans seemed more curious about life and were constantly asking questions.

In the days of Jesus, children were not valued as they are today. They were considered a nuisance and were discouraged from asking questions or interrupting their parents. But Jesus looked at them in a totally different way. “But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16)

Jesus knew that children were inquisitive and hadn’t been tainted by the world like their grown up counterparts. He also knew they had eyes of faith that could actually understand the kingdom of God. Even today, if we are lucky enough to have contact with these little people, we should observe them carefully.

As for Vern, he has enjoyed the never ending movement and carefree attitudes of the little boys as they have taken over the house. If only we could all emulate the hearts and actions of the children God has placed in our lives.

Unspoken Wisdom

Vern has never spoken a single word since we brought him home last March. He hasn’t shared his thoughts or yelled out when he thinks he has some incredible bits of knowledge. But even though he hasn’t spoken, he has communicated volumes through his body language. When Vern gets up on the chair and gazes out the window, I know he’s waiting for his human father to return. And when I see him draw close to the door, he’s telling us he wants to go for a walk. 

In a similar manner, God doesn’t use his voice to speak to us. That’s why it’s important to listen for his wisdom through other means. So how do we hear him?  By meditating on his word in the quietness of the day.

Lately, this has become extremely difficult.  With the many voices of social media vying for our attention, we can be swayed to believe there is no need for God’s voice.

“Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:” (Proverbs 1:20-21)

When you have the opportunity to stop and tune into what God is trying to say, do so. Listen with your heart and try to apply his word to your life every chance you can.

Vern has taught me a lot in the last year. Watching my four legged friend make his way in this world has demonstrated how God works through quiet times. Without a vocalized word, Vern continues to confirm the value of unspoken wisdom found in silence .

Hidden Blessings

How often do we miss out on the blessings of life because we have our sights on hopes that don’t materialize? So often, I get hung up on my own desires and miss out on the small gifts all around me. Today, it’s cold and raining outside. I could be bummed about the weather or I could look for the hidden blessings. So many reasons to be filled with joy…

Be of Good Courage

Vern was filled with fear. He wasn’t sure what was going to happen once the door opened and we walked out. Would he be left alone? Would his human friends ever return?

Fear can overtake all of us. If we aren’t careful, a single thought can be magnified and swallow us up. Joseph of Arimathea felt fear when he knew he needed to go to Pilate and ask for the body of Jesus. It states in Mark 15:43, “Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.”

Joseph knew that if he went to Pilate, he was declaring his faith in Jesus. Given the other men on the council had just put Jesus to death, he was risking his position and his many relationships. The scriptures states he “took courage”. So when do we need courage? When we are afraid.

When was the last time you received a prompting by the Holy Spirit to do something and you felt fear rush through your body?  It shouldn’t surprise you. But like Joseph, take courage and push through the fear and watch how God works.

As for Vern, other than rearranging the rug and pulling down some pillows on the floor, his fear was contained.

Life at a Distance

Vern just walked in with a distinct smell on his lips. He was spotted outside a couple of minutes ago doing his business, so it is best for everyone to keep their distance.

Just got back from the grocery store where everyone was wearing face masks and practicing social distancing. I appreciate the seriousness people are taking with the virus, but it still makes me sad living my life at a distance.

I miss the eye contact and the spontaneous hugs when running into someone you haven’t seen in months. How about the times when sadness overtakes you and a friend or loved one reaches over to hold your hand. Moments that were so common place are now memories.

People are created to be social. When I think of Jesus, I think of his touch. He began his ministry by touching a leper, unthinkable to the societal norm. Jesus didn’t stop there. Later, he healed a blind man by touching his eyes.  And there was the time the woman, tormented by bleeding for twelve years, considered unclean, reached out to touch Jesus’ garment. Everyone was thinking he was going to rebuke her, but instead calls her daughter. And then there was the time he demonstrated his love for his disciples by washing their feet. Touching. Our God touched us and I believe we are meant to do the same.

There will be a day when we will touch relatives and friends again. But for now, I believe Jesus is calling us to touch the ones that live within common walls. As for Vern, he will get his hugs in a little bit. Until then, Bee can be his hug buddy.

Vern’s Feelings of Remorse

Vern knew he had made a bad decision. The harsh rebuke clearly demonstrated that he had reacted in a way that was not acceptable. With head held low to the ground, the little dog scurried under the foot stool and scrunched into a ball. Maybe, here, covered by the flaps, no humans would see him. Maybe he could become invisible.

How often, when we make poor decisions do we want to hide away from the world? Sometimes, a deep sense of remorse for our actions causes us to want to flee. Peter, Jesus’ disciple knew this feeling of sorrow over his actions. Jesus clearly told him that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed twice. Peter, being his self-assured self, told Jesus that he would stand by his side, no matter what happened. (Mark 14:29-31)  

As we all know, Peter did deny his relationship with Jesus. And what did Peter do? He wept and then fled. The moment of truth was like a mirror of his character, and it was too much to bear.

The cool part of the story comes when Jesus is raised from the dead, and his last personal conversation is with Peter. Jesus knew Peter felt remorse for his actions and desired to reassure him of his love. And like Peter, Jesus knows our unique needs and treats us accordingly.

In the same manner, after Vern had been under the stool for a couple of minutes, my husband sat down on the floor, took the scared pooch in his arms, pet his coat, and reminded him of his love.

Counting My Blessings

My hands began to shake and I had to take a couple of deep breaths as I opened up the test results. Just like so many others, Covid has been creeping ever so closely and this time I believed I would be its next victim.

Once I realized that I had been in direct contact with someone who was sick, I quarantined myself. No tennis or going off my property. Instead, a good raking and removal of the leaves would be a good task to keep my mind occupied.

Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. Some can’t be seen while others are right in front of you. We have lived in the same house for thirty-six years and never have I been so thankful for our little piece of earth.

Thankfully, the word NEGATIVE popped up. Another blessing. What are you thankful for? Just take a moment and ponder your unique circumstances. You will be glad you did.

Life Before Writing

For thirty-two years, my life revolved around teaching children with disabilities. Some of these children were severely disabled, unable to talk, feed themselves, or walk. Others had emotional issues that interfered with their ability to focus on anything outside of their hostility. Many had autism while others had Downs Syndrome. Each child was unique and special. Laughter rang through the walls and in the most difficult circumstances tears flowed. I am forever thankful for this career that defined me for so long.

Once I retired, I decided to write and share my children’s books with all kinds of children. This picture was taken with a rambunctious group of first graders as I shared Jerry Barry: Living Healthy, and Seasons at the Bus Stop. Love it!

Vern’s Corner of the Room

Vern finally settled down and closed his eyes. He was not happy and could you blame him? He had been taken off the warm bed and instructed to retreat to the foam mattress in the corner of the room. The little dog couldn’t comprehend why he wasn’t allowed to sleep snuggled in between the humans where he felt safe and content.

Recently, life has taken a huge turn for all of us. We can easily ask the same questions that Vern has asked. Why can’t life return to the normal that we have become so accustomed to? Why can’t I travel and visit with friends and family without having to be consumed with the dangers of Covid? So many whys and no clear answers.

As the months pass with life only becoming crazier by the moment, we can all become very bitter about the turn of events that have impacted our lives. We can become overwhelmed with our personal situations or we can choose another course.  

Paul has some excellent advice that all of us can benefit from. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

If only Vern could change his thinking. But I have no control over what he thinks, but I do have control over my thoughts. So right now I am making the decision to ponder the excellent and praiseworthy. And that includes all of you who are reading this. Thank you. And for Vern, I will turn the little fireplace on to warm up his corner of the room.

Why do I Blog?

A couple of years ago, after retiring, I found myself in a state of limbo. I had spent all my life either in school or teaching children. I had a purpose and my life was full. Once I retired, I began to feel lost. I described it to be like the Israelites muddling around the desert for forty years. These people had no destination and neither did I.  After a year of trying to rediscover who I was, I decided to start blogging. I was nervous and very insecure about the process. Did I have a voice? Would anyone want to read what I had to say? Fear swept in and I put off the process for a while. Then Carl came into my life and everything changed.  He was my muse. All I had to do was look into his brown eyes and the story unfolded before me.