Category Archives: God Fearing

Carl’s New Normal

I haven’t seen Carl in days and can only wonder how he is adjusting to his new family. It is strange not to have my four legged friend looking up at me with his soft brown eyes and scratching my leg so that I will reach down and give him the attention that he desires. I can’t help but think about how he is handling this drastic change in his life.

Drastic changes. Ones that we can’t predict and have no control over. There are many people in Florida and Houston that have had their world transformed with no idea of how to adjust to their new normal.

New normals can either make people bitter or better. What determines this can be found within the person and not necessarily the circumstances that surround them. A great example of this can be found in Numbers 13. Moses had assigned one man from each of the Israelite tribes to go and explore the Promised Land and come back and give a report.

We should remember that these people had been abused and used by the Egyptians for years. Then God trained up Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and to bring them into a land that He had promised them through Abraham.

It would seem that these people should have trusted God after He had miraculously brought them through the Red Sea and then devoured the Egyptians. But as we all know, we can have a very short memory when we are placed in perilous situations.

So when the men came back, Only two out of twelve men had the faith to believe that God would provide them a way into the land that they had been promised.

Numbers 13: 30-31 states,” Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”

How often do we doubt that God can get us through the times of uncertainty?

More time than we think… Just as the men couldn’t believe that God actually had a place that was better for them, we also doubt how God can get us through times of trials.

As for Carl, he has been staying with some friends that have been living in our home while we have been away on vacation. I have heard that he has been behaving himself for the most part. I guess he has been able to adapt to his new normal better than we expected.

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Allusions of Reality

Carl could see his reflection in the window pane and started to howl at it. He couldn’t be convinced that what he was barking at wasn’t real. So instead of ceasing, he took the barking up another notch. Determined to make the allusive figure leave, he looked right at it and then back at me. Realizing my little dog wasn’t going to stop the ear piercing screech, I opened the door so that Carl could go out and see that the image wasn’t real.

Reality. As I watched Carl react to the suggestive figure on the other side of the glass, I began to ponder how we can be just like him as we go through this life. Reality can mean many things to different people. For some, making money, seeking power, and climbing the ladder of success is their reality. For others, putting all their hopes and dreams into their family is their definition of what is true and right.

But what if this life is a temporal set of circumstances that isn’t reality at all. What if what Jesus tried to tell us when he walked this earth is the only true reality? In John 12, Jesus knew he would be crucified in only a few days and his words became more urgent.

John 12:44-46 states, “Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

Could this light he is referring to be the true reality? If so, where can we find it? And how can we be sure that we are living a life based on truth and not on an allusive falsehood?

I must remember the facts about this man. Jesus died. Just like we all will do. But this is where He was different. He actually rose from the dead and walked on the earth. He ate bread with his friends and even allowed Thomas to place his finger through the hole in his hand. But what gives me the most encouragement is that He ascended into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father.

So if Jesus is the reality that lasts for eternity, it gives me a lot to think about as I ponder how to live out my life.

After a while, Carl stopped barking and laid down on the cool floor to wait for another allusion to bark at. As the daylight changed how it reflected on the window, the figure that he once saw disappeared and was no longer real.

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From Old to New

First of all, I want to let everyone know that Carl is doing well. He has stopped coughing and has resumed his normal activity. But whatever Carl had, Bee now has. She has been displaying symptoms for the last couple of days. The only encouragement is that since Carl is now better, I am hoping that she will also get over this sickness.

For two days, Carl, Bee and I were imprisoned in my bedroom while a team of four painters scurried through my house and painted all the walls. Once they were finally finished and we were able to leave the confines of the bedroom, I felt I was going into a new house. With each wall painted and no pictures displayed, it felt like we were at a fresh starting point.

Since I haven’t moved in over thirty four years, it felt good to think I had a new pallet to work with. I could display pictures in an original format and rearrange furniture. It will be the same house but new in many respects.

Jesus shared an interesting parable in Luke 5:37-38 that took some study to understand. He stated, “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will spill, and the wineskins will be ruined. Instead, new wine is poured into new wineskins.”

I am sure the Pharisees were just as perplexed as we are today when hearing this parable. The Pharisees were stuck in their traditions and didn’t want to change how they had worshipped God for centuries. Jesus had challenged their convictions and they not only didn’t like it but wanted him killed. The new wine, Jesus, could not be placed in the old wine skins, the Pharisees’ desire to maintain the power that comes from being religious leaders.

For us today, when we encounter the real Jesus, it will cause us to want to change. He will cause us to have a desire to be different than what we have been. And hopefully, the new wine of Jesus can go into our transformed vessels. As for my house, I am in the process of changing things up. Placing pictures that have meaning in the forefront and packing up pictures that have no significance.

Carl has been perplexed by all the changes but as long as he gets his food and has his usual throne to sleep on, he will be fine.

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Muzzled

Carl was awake most of the night. He had started throwing up two days ago and last night it became chronic. Several times my little dog placed his paws on the bed frame hoping that I would pull him up on to the bed. When he realized that he wasn’t going to sleep with us, he made his way to the couch until he became sick again.

Once the morning came, I called and made an appointment for him to see the vet. Even though he wasn’t feeling well, he still demonstrated to all of us that he didn’t like getting his temperature taken or having someone move their hands all over his body. So the muzzle had to go on to prevent anyone from getting hurt.

A muzzle is an interesting apparatus. The one that Carl wears allows him to see but he can’t open his mouth very wide. It has a purpose and if used correctly can ensure that our little dog can receive the care he needs.

As humans, we don’t need a muzzle to keep us from biting others but sometimes we should wear one when we can’t control what we say. I know several times a week, I will think about something I said and wished that I had used a muzzle to keep the words from coming out.

As I looked over the scriptures that pertained to speaking out of turn, I became more and more convicted about my own misuse of words. Psalm 141:3 states, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Ephesians 4:29 states, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”

But the verse that always makes me sit up and pay attention comes from James 3:5. It states, “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.  See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!” We may not realize how the words we say can have such a powerful impact on others.

Carl’s muzzle won’t fit over my mouth but it sure can serve as a visual reminder that I can use when I am tempted to say the words that I should keep to myself. It has been a day since we took Carl to the vet. The vet was puzzled by his symptoms and we still don’t think he is totally back to normal.  Only time will tell.

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Carl’s Desire for the World

Carl was afraid to move. He didn’t want to lose sight of where I was sitting so he lay on the floor looking intently in my direction. Carl is petrified that he will miss out on a chance to go out into the world. He loves being at home but if he can rush through the door and explore the great outdoors, he is there. So if he sees me move towards the front or back exit, he is ready to pounce his way out.

I can remember as a teenager being caught in the same trap of being afraid to miss out. I loved going out into the world beyond the four walls of my home. Everything was an adventure that couldn’t be missed. This led me into several compromising situations as I grew up and made my way into adulthood. The desire to experience the unknown didn’t always turn out the way I hoped it would.

I am sure King David felt this same way as he reflected back on his own life. As a middle aged man, he began to grow apathetic in his role as a leader. So instead of fighting with his soldiers for the cause of Israel, he spent his time daydreaming about being out in the world. And it was in this moment that his life changed forever.

King David saw a beautiful woman bathing outside beyond the palace and wanted her. At that moment everything changed. He was determined to have this woman, no matter the cost. If only he had been grateful for the women God had already blessed him with. But after a cutting remark by one of his wives, his thoughts turned from inside his home to the outside world.

What started as an adventure turned into a desire that he couldn’t resist. His heart became hard towards being righteous and pleasing God. All because David believed the lie that we are all so gullible to believe. If I can just have this one thing, I will be happy. This happens so often when we turn our sights away from our own home and become determined to have what isn’t ours.

How often do we make bad decisions because we want to leave what we have been blessed with for the world? If only we could enjoy the life that God has given to us.

Carl has come in the house and is now scratching my leg to seek my attention. He seems content with playing with Bee and running up and down the hallway. After playing until exhaustion sets in, he has laid his body down right in front of the door in anticipation of his great escape into the world.

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Under the Sun

Carl could care less about the drop in temperatures and the long shadows that crossed the lawn. He didn’t seem to be in awe as the moon passed in front of the sun. He only cared that he was able to sit on the red chair in the front of the garage with my husband.

On the other hand, I was mesmerized by the solar eclipse. It was so cool watching the moon cross in front of the sun and give off the feeling that night was coming.

We were not able to experience a total eclipse but were able to feel the impact of a partial one. It was eerie to witness how people stopped what they were doing and come outside to experience what was happening under the sun.

Ecclesiastes is a book written about what happens from the perspective of being under the sun. The writer of this book shares how we will never completely understand why things happen due to the fact that we are not looking at life from above but below the sun.

This book gives a realistic point of view of what is meaningful and what isn’t. Given the author had more wealth, knowledge, and opportunities than most, he could share that most everything was like a vapor of air passing by. Than why do we work so hard and put all our dreams in worthless vessels? Because we view life from under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:11 states “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

So what do we do? How do we find meaning during this time on this earth? Can it be found above the sun in the spiritual realm? That is what I am setting my sights on. As for Carl, he seems to be content in the little things in life, like sitting with us humans as we gaze up at the sky.

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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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