Category Archives: Christian

Carl the Super Hero Dog

Carl acts like he is a super hero dog. And why not? He is able to go through walls. (With the help of a remote controlled doggy door) Any time he wants water, he can go to his bowl that is always full. But when Carl stands on the back deck and runs off all the wild animals with the sound of his ferocious bark, he stands like he actually has super powers.

But the truth is Carl is not a super hero dog. As much as he wants to be, he has limitations. He is totally dependent on humans to feed him, bathe him, and meet all of his medical needs.

It is easy to see that Carl doesn’t have super powers but it can be more difficult for us to see our lack of power. If we are healthy and gainfully employed, it can be easy to list all of the ways that we are in control of our lives. Doesn’t our toil produce the money necessary to purchase what we need?

If we take a closer look, we might see that we shouldn’t be so quick to take the credit for our self-sufficiency. In Psalm 127, Solomon writes, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” To get a clearer picture of what this verse means, I looked up in Dictionary.com what “in vain” means. And I was surprised to see it meant “without effect or avail; to no purpose.”

We can build all of our lives but if the Lord is not at the center of why we are building, it serves no purpose. Yes, our efforts will put food on the table and a roof over our heads, but ultimately will not produce the eternal fruit that we were created for.

Since we are spiritual creatures, we need to realize that everything that we are given, has been given to us by our Lord. With this knowledge, we ought to give Him the credit for all His gifts.

It might be difficult to convince Carl that he is not a super hero dog, but I can assure you that when it is time to eat, he is eager to demonstrate his gratitude by looking up at me with a humble expression. Hopefully, we can extend even more thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father.

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Needy

Calling Carl needy is an understatement. If he is left in the backyard, it won’t take him long before the howling begins. If I come home after a few minutes of being gone, Carl will act like I have been gone for days. But the one time that he acts the neediest is when I come back from taking Bee on a walk. When we enter through the door, the little bully can’t contain himself. He is jumping up and pushing Bee out of the way so that I can only give him his desired attention.

Being needy can be considered a weakness by many people. But not to God.  He looks at our hearts and the need we have for Him. Even if we mess up, God will forgive us if He can see our desire to have a relationship with Him. This is demonstrated in the book of 1 Samuel during a very dark period for David.

David was tired of being hunted down by King Saul. He was relentless and wouldn’t stop until David was dead. This had been going on for years and David had been worn down. He wanted to please God but his faith had waned. So what does he do? Lies. Not just once but many times.

Now King Saul was also a sinner. After the Philistines had marched towards the Israelites to begin war, Saul tried to confer with God and got no response. So without regard to God, he visits a witch to find out his destiny. The spirit of Samuel, the prophet appears to her and to Saul. And what he says is not the news that Saul was looking for. He tells him that he and his sons will be killed in battle.

So why would God save this man and have King Saul killed? Only one reason. Because even though David’s lack of faith led him to lie, he ultimately had a desire for a deep relationship with God. If you read the Psalms that David wrote during this time, it is clear that he has a deep need for his maker.

This inspires me a great deal as I struggle through this life. When I think about how David’s life was spared and how he ultimately became king, I am encouraged.  So as Carl comes up to me with a look of need in his eyes I will reflect on how much God wants me to need Him.

Thank you God for using my little dog to help me see my need for You.

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Seized with Revenge

Carl is definitely the top dog at our house. But whenever he sees his sister Bee get preferential treatment, he has a hard time with his emotions. If she walks in front of him on a walk, Carl will nip at her to let her know that she needs to get back. At dinner time, Carl will always be fed first and treats also need to be given in that order.

But if you want to see Carl get into a fighting mode it is when attention is given to Bee from friends and strangers. Whenever someone will reach down to pet his sister dog, he goes crazy mad! His calm demeanor is immediately changed to a dog with only revenge on his mind. And don’t even think about reasoning with him when he is in the heat of the moment.

As many times as we have tried to reason him out of his hostility, it does no good until he is given some time to cool down. Isn’t Carl like so many of us when our buttons have been pushed? Can you remember a time that you were so angry at someone that all you wanted was to see harm done to them? You may not have actually acted out the feelings, but the thoughts were clearly being played out in your mind.

It is moments like these that I am thankful that God included David in the Bible. We think of him as the one that was constantly being sought after by Saul because of the hatred he had towards David. But God demonstrates through his word, that even men like David, a man after God’s own heart, could become seized with revenge.

David had been running from Saul and found himself in the wilderness surrounded by six hundred needy men. During this time, he sent these men out to protect the local shepherds from bandits and to literally create a wall of protection. There was one particular wealthy shepherd by the name of Nabal that had benefited from David’s safeguard.

It was shearing time and was the custom, David had expected his men to be given some of the meat from the slaughter. So when David had sent several men to Nabal to receive what was rightfully his, Nabal blatantly refused to give him anything.

Seized with anger, David put on his sword and led his men to kill Nabal and all the males of his family. David was determined to act out on his revenge and nothing could stop him. Oh but wait. Who do I see in the distance with donkeys carrying enough food to feed an army?

Nabal was an evil man. No one disputed that. But his wife Abigail was exactly the opposite. She was a wise woman with integrity. When one of the servants had heard that David was coming to destroy Nabal’s family, he went to Abigail and told her the situation. This woman probably had every reason to allow the slaughter of her husband to take place, but she didn’t.

Instead, she prayed to God and He gave her the words to speak to David. Incredibly, what she said had such impact that David turned his men around and went back into the wilderness. And she went home to her husband.

But God wasn’t finished yet. It states in 1 Samuel 25:38 “And about ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.” And doesn’t it say in Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”

Many times when we are so angry and can only see the wrath we want to impart on others, we should stop and allow God to work. David would have had suffered major consequences for the death of Nabal. In the same manner, when we act before giving the situation to God, we will also have a cost to pay.

As for Carl, he usually gets over his feelings towards Bee once he receives the attention that he craves. If only he could understand that God cares about him and will supply his needs. Realistically, he is only a dog. But one that has taught me so much.

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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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Carl’s Desire for Freedom

As the sun poured through the window, Carl fluttered his eyes and looked around. After seeing that no one was stirring, he snuggled deeper into his bed, closed his eyes and slipped back to sleep. Once I awoke and looked over at my slumbering pooch, I could only wonder what he was dreaming about. Could he be dreaming about running free alongside the dogs he is forced to stay away from when we are walking? Or could it be a dream about prancing through the forest that lines our backyard, with no fears of being caught and having the dreaded collar placed around his neck?

As young teens, we hope for the day that we can be free from the restraints of living under the rules of our parents. Then once we grow independent from our family, we realize the freedom we thought would be in front of us has been replaced by the responsibilities of raising our own family. As the years pass, we hope for the day the children will be on their own and we will have enough money to leave the work that has kept us shackled.

Life after work and no longer being responsible for others does seem freeing but never completely satisfying. How can we actually experience the freedom that our souls desire? We can live for just ourselves and pursue the desires our flesh yearns for. But is living for ourselves truly freedom? There must be more.

In Galatians 5:13, Paul states, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

This sounds like a paradigm to me. I have heard all my life that I will be the happiest when I don’t have the responsibility of taking care of others. But this verse states exactly the opposite. My freedom comes from my relationship with Christ and my gratitude for what He did for me will be seen through the love I extend towards others.

Since Jesus is the author of life, I believe He knows how I can receive true freedom. On the other hand, I am not sure Carl will ever understand how the restraints we place on him are a demonstration of our love. And that is okay. Just as Jesus knows what is best for us when we don’t understand, we will do the same for Carl.

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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.

 

A Feast for the Thankful

I was awoken once more by the quiet but persistent whimpering coming from the chair in the far corner of the room. I looked up to see the time was a little after 4:00 am. Moments earlier I had been in a deep state of sleep so it took me a few seconds to open my eyes and rise from my bed.

After placing my feet into my bed slippers, I shuffled down the hall and turned the corner, walked past my desk, and headed into the dark pantry. An illumination from the electric doggy door provided just enough light to see the dog dishes. As I lifted the lid off the dog food, I could hear the smacking of lips from my two Frenchies.

Once, the dog food was in the dishes and the lid was back on the container, I headed into the kitchen and placed the food on the floor. Hardly seconds after the dishes hit their destination, the two pooches placed their heads down and began sucking up the morsels of food.

As I watched them, a thought resonated in my brain. Never, not once, had my dogs given me thanks for their food. No looking up into my eyes with gratitude or coming over to me and giving me acknowledgement for the food that sustains them. For years, I have forfeited a full night’s sleep to get up and feed them. But even with this sacrifice, I had received no sign of gratitude.

The scenario caused me to stop myself from being frustrated with my dogs when I thought about the times that I had dived right into a meal without giving God the thanks He deserved. How many times have I not even given God a thought when I began a meal? Too many to count.

As I was thinking about the importance God puts on gratitude I ran across a story in Luke 17. Jesus was traveling between Samaria and Galilee and ten lepers call from a distance for Him to heal them. Jesus tells them to present themselves in front of the priest. As they were going, they were all healed. But what happens next is both surprising and appalling. Let’s pick up the story in Luke 17:15.  “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Did God need their gratitude? No. Then why did Jesus address the issue of the other nine and their lack of thanksgiving. Could it be that Jesus was more concerned with the condition of the nine lepers’ hearts then the skin sores that had covered their bodies?

In the same way, Jesus is greatly concerned about how grateful we are. If we are humble enough to lower our heads before our earthly meals and give thanks, we could be good candidates to receive a personal invitation to the heavenly feast that awaits for the children of God.

Carl and Bee will probably never show gratitude for the food they receive on a daily basis. But whenever Carl looks at me with those deep brown eyes, I know in his heart that he is thankful for my efforts.IMG_1791