Category Archives: God Fearing

Front Row Seat

I have to make a confession. Neither Carl nor I like the night time. I don’t like driving in the dark and you won’t see Carl or I walking after the sun has set. But if there was to be an exception, it would have to be during the Christmas season when many have their houses lit up with glowing lights.

IMG_2428

My distaste for the darkness of night gives me more respect for the shepherds that spent night after night tending to their sheep. Instead of being nestled in their beds they were out in the fields protecting their livestock from the dangers of the dark.

As we all have probably experienced in the darkness, shadows take on a life of their own. We can think we see something but in the light, it ends up being nothing but an overblown imagination.

But this was different. Instead of a shadow, an angel surrounded by a brilliant light appeared among the shepherds. Their initial reaction was a deep seated fear of this heavenly being. But as quickly as the fear set in, the angel comforted them with words that would be remembered for the rest of time.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12.

As the shepherds were digesting these words, what happened next sealed their belief that this was truly from God. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14.

And sure enough, the shepherds left the field and found the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. After seeing the baby, they were so filled with joy that they couldn’t stop talking about the child and what the angel had told them.

Why did God have his angels appear to these shepherds? What was it about these men that gave them a front row seat to the most incredible event of mankind? Weren’t shepherds considered unreliable and on the bottom of the social ladder? Weren’t shepherds unable to enter the temple because they were considered unclean?

Humble hearts. These men were chosen for their humble hearts. Even today, God doesn’t choose the prideful man with everything this world can offer. Instead He seeks out the ordinary. The ones that have a hunger in their hearts for the truth.

Just the other night, I was driving through a neighborhood with all the lights of Christmas all around me. As I rode in awe of the lights that portrayed different interpretations of Christmas, I couldn’t help but think how pale it all was compared to the brilliance of the glory of God that lit up the skies on that night so many years ago.

 

 

 

The Gift of Friendships

Poor Carl. He was barred from his bed and once again had to sleep on the couch. Bee, stood in the doorway and made it crystal clear that he was not going to enter. So instead of experiencing the abuse of the Frenchie, he turned and walked down the darkened hallway to sleep alone.IMG_2403

I am sure he feels that no one understands his plight. Others would call him a wimp if they knew how his smaller sister was bullying him. As much as I wish I could teach him to stand up for himself, Bee has taken the role of the alpha and they need to work it out.

Mary must have felt similar feelings when the angel came to her and told her that she would carry the Son of God in her womb. Who would have any understanding of the situation and how to find peace in it?

When we go through trials alone, we can become very self-absorbed and just feel sorry for ourselves. But if we can find someone that has gone through a similar situation, we can find peace and purpose in our hardships.

God knows us and knew the importance of having someone for Mary at this time. Luke 1:39-41 states, “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

For the next three months, Mary stayed with Elizabeth as she came to full term and delivered her baby. This must have been a very special time for both of these women as they shared the joy of being a first time mother.

God loved these two women so much that He gave them each other at such a sensitive time in their lives. And if He demonstrated his love for these women by giving them each other, why shouldn’t we acknowledge His love in the friendships that He has given us?

 

Harnessed

My first guests had started to arrive and Carl was his predictable self. He was overly excited and no matter what I said to him he wouldn’t listen. Reprimanding him wasn’t preventing him from jumping up and snipping the knees of everyone that he could reach.  I knew that I had to try a different tactic. Then I thought about the harness that hung up on the nail in the porch.

It was crazy how quickly Carl transformed into the submissive and meek dog that I believed he could become. It was like the harness weighed a massive amount and kept his body from trying to jump up. Instead of the hyperactive dog that usually greets my friends, Carl lay down on his bed and calmly stared upward.

Everyone enjoyed being around this meek and mellow dog. But when our society hears the word “meek” we don’t usually attribute it to a positive trait. Instead, we think of someone who is insecure and pitied. Then why does Jesus say in Matthew 5: 5 that the meek will inherit the earth?

If we turn our television on we definitely don’t see the meek capturing the attention of the world. So who is Jesus referring to? If we go back into the Old Testament, David writes in Psalm 37:9 that those who wait on the Lord will inherit the earth. He then repeats this again but changes the wording to meek in verse 37:11.

How do the meek wait on the Lord? Can you picture someone you know that doesn’t get easily angered? Someone who is criticized and doesn’t spat back what they are feeling? Can you think of a time that your feelings were hurt and you wanted to retaliate? Do you remember how hard it was to hold your tongue and not share the injustice with someone? This takes power. Power that comes from waiting on the Lord.

When we trust God, we will wait for Him to implement the judgment that is due. This is the meekness that Jesus and David are referring to. An inner strength that will allow us to enjoy our inheritance.

I was thankful for the harness that physically helped Carl become the meek dog that my friends enjoyed having around.  Hopefully, in the future when I want to snip at people for the injustice that will surely come my way, I will remember the harness of God’s word and turn my attention to waiting for Him.

As for Carl, once everyone left, I released the harness and he returned to his crazy self. Got to love him.IMG_2346

Walking Past Fear

Carl was frozen in fear. Once again, he wouldn’t, or maybe couldn’t walk past the object that terrified him. During the day when the light illuminates all around him, he is big and in charge. He dominates without hesitation. But at night, without the clarity of light, this all changes.

Each night, Carl will arise to go get water or do his business outside. Once he begins the walk back to his bed, the horror begins. On the other side of the bedroom door, lies his worst nightmare.

Bee has picked up on Carl’s fear for months now. Even after Leo left, she has realized that she can stand alone on the other side of the door and keep Carl from entering. She is quiet and stands squarely in the path between the hallway and his bed. Even though she is smaller than he, the darkness transforms her into a horrendous monster.

As I have watched this playout every night from the height of my bed, I wonder why Carl can’t stand erect and walk with the authority that he possesses during the light of the day.

I can’t give my little dog too much grief. I know the power of the dark. Particularly if I am alone, every sound is amplified and every shadow is magnified. What may seem insignificant in the light can be overwhelming in the dark.

I have often been puzzled by what is stated about Jesus in John 1:4 “In Him was life and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

Jesus came to give life and be the light that we all need in order to experience the true meaning behind this life we are given.  I know that He serves as a light for me when the things of this life get overwhelming. When I wonder around in the darkness of not understanding why things happen and how angry the injustice of this life can be, I must turn to the light source to illuminate truth.

In the same way, Carl can’t see that Bee is smaller and more petite than he is. He should have no reason to hold back from walking right past her as he does during the hours of daylight. But the darkness has power over him that keeps him frozen in fear.

I am not sure how I will work this issue out. I may place a light in the hallway that turns on so that Carl can see the object of his fear. But until then, I am willing to get up, pick up my shaking pooch and place him on his bed so that he can feel safe once again.img_2194-1.jpg

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?

IMG_2253

New Normals

Carl woke from an evening snooze and looked over at the sofa. There, sleeping on his section of what had always been his spot, was the male dog that had made his way into his home and into his owners’ hearts. At first, Carl just stared at the slumbering animal. But then for no reason he jumped down off his father’s lap and went over to the edge of the couch and placed his head level with the pooch.

What happened next was shocking. Carl raised his leg and begun to urinate on the side of the couch. Why had our dog acted in such an inappropriate manner? Was he having to adjust to his new normal?

New normals. They come out of nowhere. Many times with no preparations for how to live through them.  A loved one develops Alzheimer’s and family members are faced with decisions that they have never encountered. A spouse dies and the uninvited new normal moves in.

Two thousand years ago, the most impactful new normal was born. The religious community was shaken to their roots by this event. Herod, the political leader of the day was so intimidated by this child that he had all male babies killed. Why would such a powerful man sink to such a wicked state of mind? Could it be that he didn’t want to live with the new normal?

And ever since this child was born, lived, died, and was resurrected, we have had to learn to adjust to the fact that life doesn’t rotate around us. We can try to brush his existence away by staying busy or feeding ourselves off of the world. But in reality, we will all have to face the truth either during this lifetime or the next.

Once my husband saw what Carl was doing, he moved quickly. With a pointing finger and a harsh word, Carl lowered his leg and moved away from the sofa. Overall, the dogs have adapted to their new normal but as we all know, it can get messy at times.

IMG_2248

A Tender Side of Carl

All is calm. Leo left to go to the groomers and both Carl and Bee are resting quietly. Since Leo has been with us, I have noticed a tender side to Carl as he relates to Bee. He has been very protective of his Frenchie sister. Many times, I have caught him sitting very close to her and nipping tenderly at her ear.

This behavior reminds me of how a courting young man holds his girlfriend close to him. It also paints a picture of how God draws near to us in the midst of difficult situations.

Joseph was a man that went from being his father’s favorite with a promising career to a man who was imprisoned for no valid reason. Throughout the book of Genesis, Joseph’s life is portrayed for all of us in the darkest most trying times of our lives.

I am sure he had no idea why he was sold by his brothers to foreigners. And just when he seemed to be getting his life on track, Potiphar’s wife accuses him of rape and he is wrongly imprisoned. To make matters worse, he is forgotten by Pharaoh’s butler and left in the dungeon for two more years.

How often have we felt forgotten by close friends, family, and even God? It would appear by what had happened to Joseph, he could have focused on being forgotten. But he didn’t. Genesis 39:2-3 tells us, “The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand.”

Joseph serves as a model to all of us in the depths of our suffering. He could have easily blamed God and become bitter but he didn’t. Instead Joseph focused on God and all the blessings that he had received even in the direst times of his life. Even the Egyptian, an ungodly man, saw this and contributed Joseph’s success to God.

Joseph didn’t understand why he had to go through such suffering but if we study our Bibles, it is clearly stated. In the same way, we don’t understand why we have to experience the trials that we go through but there will be a day when it will be revealed to us.

Watching Carl interact with his sister has been a great reminder of how God wants to comfort us in our times of need. Even though we can’t see God, if we pay close enough attention, we will be able to see the picture He is painting in our lives.