Category Archives: children

Marking Territory

Marking territory is serious business for male dogs. Just this morning, Leo went outside and sprayed the side of a plant stand. As soon as he was finished, Carl hiked up his leg and let it flow. Leo couldn’t allow the last urine smell to belong to Carl so he returned to the same spot, found his target and squirted what was left from his bladder.

Never having male dogs before, I was unaware of how important it is for these pooches to let other canines know who the alpha dog is. But it’s the dynamics of how Bee, our female dog gets along with her brothers that is most intriguing.

Being by far the smallest of the three, Bee has to use her wit in order to let her brothers know that she is not to be bullied around. Whenever there is a major confrontation, Bee doesn’t hesitate to get right in the middle of the scuffle.

I can totally relate to Bee. I had three older brothers that dominated the household. Trying to make my voice heard was very difficult at times. I was never able to win a physical fight or argument due to their strong personalities. As I observed Bee, I realized she used her wit to compete with these two male dogs.

Over the years, I have also come to understand that I don’t need to win an argument or be financially successful to find the joy that was destined to be mine. As I have studied the life of Jesus, I have learned to put my trust in Him and take my eyes off of what others have.

Matthew 11:28 states, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light”

I am so thankful that I can find rest in Jesus. As long as I continue to look to Him for the meaning of this life, I know I will experience the peace that surpasses all understanding.

As for Bee, she has taken a tennis ball and is using it to taunt her male friends. Every time Carl or Leo get close to it, she puts it back in her mouth and slings it across the floor. She has taught me a great deal in her approach. Instead of focusing on who she isn’t, she is taking full advantage of who she is. You go girl!

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Carl’s Identity

Carl pulled so hard that I thought I was going to fall forward on my face. He wasn’t pleased at all with his situation. Instead of leading the pack, he was steps behind the two dogs and it was clear that he felt doomed.

When he is walked alone, he usually struts himself with a confident air and appears totally carefree. But when walking with the other two dogs, if he isn’t steps ahead of them, his demeanor totally changes.

In the last two days, our country has suffered a great blow. 59 of our American citizens lost their lives when a man with no apparent cause sprayed gunfire down on a country music concert in Las Vegas.

What has hurt the most is the lack of compassion for the families of the individuals that lost their lives. Instead, politicians have used this opportunity to stand on their platforms and once again, we have become more and more divided.

If only our country could stand together and grieve with the victims of this senseless act. But unless we can place our identity in Christ this will never happen. Just as Carl wants to extend his lead over the other two bulldogs, we take our stand with our political or cultural affiliation.

It will only be when we go to our Heavenly Father in prayer and extend ourselves to the individuals that are suffering that we will find healing.

Carl will probably never understand how to get over his need to be first and in front of the pack. I am sure that the next time we go out for a walk, he will pull the leash and try to push ahead with his own agenda. But I have to remember, he is only a dog. Didn’t God create us to be so much more?

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My Lost Dog

We were on our way home. Just as we were going to turn the corner at the top of the hill, Carl got loose and ran as fast he could. I called his name but he was determined to run ahead towards our house. But what he didn’t know was there was a gang of dogs waiting for him.

When I finally got up to the top of the hill, I looked over to see Carl being chased past our house and down the road. A sense of dread swept over me as my little dog fled for his life. My dog was now lost from my view and I felt totally helpless.

This experience reminded me of a time when my daughter was only five years old. We were staying at a beach house with several different families. One midday, we decided to go out for lunch. Everyone packed into three vehicles and made our way to the restaurant. As we all began to unload, it was clear that my five year old daughter was not with us.

This was the time before cell phones and there was no way to contact her. My husband and I jumped back in the car and made the fifteen minute drive back to the beach house. Crazy thoughts raced through my mind as we rushed back.

God demonstrates through his word that He knows how it feels to be a parent of a lost child. In Luke 15, Jesus shares a parable about a wealthy man and his two sons. One son wanted to leave and take his inheritance. I am sure this hurt the father as he watched his son walk away with the possibility of never seeing him again. The story describes how the son squandered all his money and eventually took a job feeding pigs. After he finally came to his senses, humbled himself, he journeyed home to experience the consequences of his actions.

The father could have easily reprimanded his son but instead he demonstrated God’s true nature. Luke 15:20 states, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

I am so thankful for this verse and the knowledge that no matter what we do, God has compassion for us and only desires for our return.

As for my daughter, she was waiting for us on the porch with a relieved expression across her face. As I wiped my own tears of thankfulness, I apologized and gave her a huge hug.

I couldn’t find Carl. No matter how hard I tried, he was lost. The sense of loss was so real I almost started crying. It was then that I woke myself up and looked over to where Carl was sleeping peacefully. As if he knew I was concerned about him, he raised his head and looked up at me with his soft brown eyes. Thankfully, what had seemed so real was only a dream.

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Living in the Shadows

For the last week, Carl has been living in the shadows. I never thought there would be a day that Carl would not be in the center of our home’s attention. But given our grandchildren are staying with us, Carl has been living his life beyond the forefront.

There are many of us that never live in the forefront. We may appear insignificant to the masses and walk around without ever being noticed. We may have mundane occupations that never receive the awards and accolades that others we know receive.

What is interesting is as I read the story of David, I have realized he is one of us. When Samuel went to anoint a son of Jesse to become king,  he thought he knew exactly who would be chosen. Samuel asked Jesse to present his sons to him. The first son to parade before God was Abinadab. Since Jesse chose him first, he must have had a special place in his father’s heart. But God told Samuel that he would not be king.

As Jesse called Shammah, he must have thought that it had to be this son. If it wasn’t Abinadab it must have been this strong young man that demanded the attention of others. Perfect candidate for being a king. But once more, Samuel hears no word from God.

I can’t imagine how Jesse felt as the sons that he would have chosen paraded by the prophet without even a second glance. All seven of them didn’t even get a nod.

Then Samuel asks Jesse if this was all of his sons. Just the thought of not even being considered states a lot about how Jesse felt about David. Can you imagine how David must have been treated as a child if he isn’t even a blimp on the radar?

Jesse responds by telling Samuel that there is one more BUT there is no way God would be considering anointing him.  He is out shepherding the sheep. A job that would be given to servants or ones that you don’t want around. I am sure Jesse must have been thinking that Samuel had it all wrong. Why would God want David?

In the isolation of the fields, God had been preparing David for his position as king over Israel. The lonely nights where David only had God to speak with and to rely on. God knew David’s heart. He knew that in this mundane, out of the forefront life, God had a man that he could etch into the greatest king that was ever known.

This encourages me as I sit here and peck out words that I believe God put on my heart. For so many years of working in a classroom without recognition and being the youngest of five. I can relate to David. I know that I was never chosen to be a king but I do believe I was chosen to be a child of God.

As for Carl. The grandchildren will eventually go home and he will once again return to the forefront of our attention. But until then, you can find our little pooch living in the shadows.

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Unexpected Outcomes

Carl had to stay with our neighbor while we were in the mountains. The campground that we were staying in had strict rules that I knew Carl could not abide by. When we were ready to pull out, I took off Carl’s collar and directed him to the house next door. I wasn’t sure if he would be upset that we were going to leave him but this concern quickly evaporated when he ran up to the door and began to scratch with his paw.

After we had settled into our campsite, I texted my neighbor to find out how Carl had been doing. What she said was a little disturbing. “Carl had a semi-serious incident with one of our cats but all is now in hand.”

I am not quite sure what happened but I can guess that Carl spotted the cat and without thinking, ran after it. Given the cat still had his claws, I am sure the incident wasn’t pretty.

How often do we run or walk into situations without understanding the implications? One day, while camping, we decided to walk one of the trails in the Smokey Mountain National Park. The sign said it was 1.2 miles long and that it would lead us to a waterfall. I should have realized that something wasn’t right when the trail took on a steep grade that was very difficult to walk.

As we continued to struggle upward, I had to stop to catch my breath and contemplate if the water fall was worth all this effort. But given my persistent nature and my husband’s encouragement, we made our way up the steep incline to our final destination.

The further into the dense forest we went, I had to question if we were on the right trail. The sound of rushing water had ceased and the possibility of a waterfall existing so far up seemed unlikely.

Finally as the trees began to thin, we could tell we were close to the end of our hike. In the distance, there was a clearing but no sign of a water fall. And what we found in the clearing was even more puzzling.

When was the last time that you can remember going down a trail in life and ending up in an unfamiliar destination? I am sure the disciples that followed Jesus began their journey with a preconceived notion of where it was going to take them and ended up in a place that they would have never imagined.

I can’t even conceive what Levi thought when Jesus approached him. In Luke 5:27-28 it states, “After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.”

Giving up his income and status, Levi left everything he was familiar with and got up and followed Jesus. Just as we didn’t have an idea what would be at the end of our trail, Levi could have never guessed where his decision would lead.

Once we finally got to the end of our trail, three tombstones greeted us. Violet, Theodore, and Guy Wiggins. No date of birth or death. Just three fairly new stones up the steepest trail I have ever traveled.

I would have never guessed that at the top of a mountain in a national park, there would be a family cemetery. As we made our way back down, I considered our situation and what we had discovered at the end of such an arduous journey. It definitely wasn’t what we expected. In the same way, following Jesus can also lead us up trails high above the world below to unpredictable discoveries.

Sadly, Carl had no idea when he entered my neighbor’s house that this would be his last stay with this family.  Apparently, he had not been happy about being left and he made his feelings known to the dogs and cat in the house. He even unintentionally scratched the four year old boy that he loves so dearly.

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Carl’s Purpose

Typically, Carl doesn’t attend to the movies that come across the screen but for some reason, this one caught his attention. With ears perked up and eyes staring straight at the television, Carl was completely absorbed. Given the movie was all about a dog and his purpose, I was not too surprised at my dog’s reaction.

As we watched the movie about a dog trying to figure out his purpose, it was fun to think that Carl could be thinking about his God given purpose. Could my four legged pooch actually have a reason for being?

You see, Carl was not our first choice. I had specifically asked the breeder for a brown French bull dog with a dark muzzle. The puppy was born and I was elated that it was a female and looked exactly how I wanted. But as fate has it, the puppy died only days after it was born which left us in a predicament. Do we wait the months or even years for another brown dog or do we purchase a different colored pup.

When the breeder sent us pictures of our little Carl, we couldn’t resist. So on December 6, 2014, we brought home our baby boy. I am not sure if we immediately understood why Carl was in our lives but after a couple of months of his antics, the fog began to clear.

During those days, I was also searching for my own reason for existence. I had recently retired from teaching and felt like an Israelite wandering in the desert. I had started blogging about my own personal time of searching but something was missing.  

If anyone knew their purpose, it was Jesus. In John 12:27-28, He states, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name!”

As I think about what He states in this verse, my own purpose becomes a little clearer. If everything Jesus did was to glorify His father, then shouldn’t I have the same mindset?

But how can a retired school teacher and a crazy little French Bull dog glorify God? We can’t. But God can. Can’t He who created us, give us just what we need in order to reflect His goodness to everyone we come in contact with?

As I gaze over at my little dog with his attention still on the screen, I have to laugh with God. He could have given me the perfect looking dog with the best temperament but instead, He gave me Carl.

 

Ended for Our Good

The word “good” struck a chord with me this morning. Yesterday, I was walking Carl around the block.  A neighbor who was walking her dog yelled out to me. “You have a handsome dog.”

“Thanks.” I responded.

“Is he a good dog?”

That was a very difficult question to answer. Just as I was going to respond, Carl began to lunge at her dog and began to growl furiously.

I couldn’t help but think about an hour earlier when a friend came in the door and how I had to pull him off of Bee when he couldn’t get the attention he desired.

But then there are the times that Carl is meek and mild and gives me that adorable little expression that I have come to love.

Today is Good Friday. What was possibly good about this particular day in the life of Jesus?

As the rooster crowed and the morning began, Peter could be found weeping over the fact that he had denied Jesus three times.

Judas, one of the men that had walked with Jesus for the last three years was found hung in the Field of Blood.

The night before, Jesus had been beaten and spat upon and mocked by the religious leaders. Now he was taken in front of the Governor to receive his sentence.

But the Governor’s wife pled with him after having a dream to have nothing to do with Jesus. But being afraid that he would lose his job, he washed his hands and gave the people the choice to have Barabbas, a known murderer or Jesus freed.

Incited by the religious leaders, the people screamed in unison to have Jesus crucified.

What came next was pure torture. Whips made with bits of glass were used to scourge Jesus to the point of death.

Then a purple robe was placed on his open wounds and a crown of thorns crushed onto his head.

After spitting on his face and making a mockery of Jesus, they ripped the robe off and led him up the hill where he would be crucified.

Once Jesus was at Calvary, the soldiers hammered nails into his wrists and feet and raised Him up high for all to see.

Then for six hours Jesus hung on the cross.

Again, I ask, “Why is this called Good Friday?”

Then something amazing happens. Around the third hour with the sun high in the sky, day becomes night.

At this point, could God’s heart be breaking?

And then if it couldn’t get worse, Jesus shares with us what was happening to Him by His last words, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”

And He gave up His spirit.

But it isn’t over!!!!  Maybe there is good in this.

Could the good come from what was happening behind the scenes?

The Bible states that the earth began to erupt and the graves of the saints were opened and they entered into the city and appeared to many.

The veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom so that now we have access to our God.

And we all know what happened three days later? So what started off as a day that couldn’t possibly be good ended for our good.

Thank you Jesus.

 

 

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