Category Archives: Fathers

Staying Close By

Carl is making typing very difficult. I am sitting on the couch next to Leo and of course Carl feels the need to sit with us. Leo spent a couple of days with his family and when he returned we all noticed something different. Instead of his rambunctious self, he chose to sit in place. Given that it was Sunday evening, we all decided to watch him closely and have him seen by his veterinarian in the morning.

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This is Carl watching over Leo

 

Last night Leo spent most of his time sleeping and refused to go up steps. He ate his dinner and then climbed into the bed for the night. I did find it interesting when he didn’t get up to eat when Carl and Bee made their way into the kitchen for their middle of the night breakfast.

 

But it was when I heard something fall that I knew Leo was in trouble. At first I couldn’t find him but when I went into the family room, I saw the little black dog flat on the floor. It was clear that he had collapsed and he couldn’t get himself up.  I ran over, reached down and scooped him into my arms. His body was shaking feverishly and all I could do was hold him close to my heart.

 

During the most difficult times in my life I have been truly comforted when someone has taken the time to stay near me. I will never forget the time that I had severe food poisoning and my husband didn’t leave my side. It was an awful experience for him to endure but even so, he stayed close by.

 

I love Psalm 23:4

“Even though I walk

through the darkest valley,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;”

 

It is so comforting to know that when we go through challenging situations that God is with us. All we need to do is call out to Him and believe in his faithfulness.

 

As for Leo, his human father picked him up early this morning and took him to the vet. After some probing around, it was found that Leo’s left hip is bothering him. He was prescribed some doggy pain meds and is now resting comfortably.

The cool thing in all this is how compassionate Carl and Bee have been towards Leo. They can sense their four legged friend isn’t feeling up to par and have been very sensitive to his needs.  I am sure it won’t last for long, but I will appreciate these moments when everyone is being kind to one another.

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Bee checking out Leo to see if he is okay.

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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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.

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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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Carl’s Leap Forward

Bee can’t jump but Carl can. A couple of years ago, Carl went to stay with some neighbors and he came back jumping. Even though Carl and Bee are very similar in stature, Carl has been practicing the art of raising his body and leaping onto the furniture.

What causes one person to be able to leap through life higher than others? Why are some content with staying on the ground while others are jumping to new heights? David gives us a glimpse of how God is ready and waiting to give anyone who asks, a push upward.

In my previous blog, David had just been anointed as king. But he didn’t take on this role until much later. Instead, he returned to the pastures and the sheep that he had surrounded himself with. No one considered much of him.  But God did. He was grooming David by placing him out in the pasture where he was forced to kill both a bear and a lion.

It is hard to imagine how this young adolescent felt about what he could accomplish after he slayed these two animals. But I am sure his confidence in God had increased as he thought back on these events.

So when David witnessed the harassment of the Israelites by a Philistine giant, he knew what he had to do. Even when his brothers and King Saul tried to convince him that he was crazy, he pursued the mission of killing the giant.

Why would David take on Goliath when all the others pulled back in fear? In 1 Samuel 17:26 David asks, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

It is clear from this question that David not only believed in God but knew Him intimately. This relationship was so real that David couldn’t stand by and allow this nine foot bully to intimidate the army of the living God.  While all the other men stood on the ground focusing on serving a hollow king, David was already leaping into a spiritual battle.

There are many times that I should be focused on our living God but instead my eyes are stuck on mortals with no power. But when I turn my attention on to God, you may see me soaring through life.

Just this evening, Carl took another leap onto the couch and made himself comfortable. Poor Bee was left with her front paws up on the furniture wondering how Carl could get himself up so high. But don’t feel too sorry for her. I bought her a deluxe bed that her brother is not allowed on. My only concern is that he will mark his territory when I am not looking. Time will only tell.

Our Internal Prison

Carl will now have to go to the kennel when we go out of town. Instead of roaming around in the freedom of our neighbor’s house, he is headed to spend at least 20 hours of his day in a cage. We will pay extra to allow him to play for three hours with other small dogs. But for the majority of the time, Carl will be in his designated pen on his bed.

I hate to do this to him, but for now, it is best for everyone. We won’t have to worry about him clawing at the small boy who lives next door. And if he does get too rowdy with the other dogs, he will be placed back in his cell. I mean cage.

Carl’s decisions and actions caused his move from freedom to being confined. And so can ours. People lose their freedom every day when they break the law. But many people who are walking around have also created their own prison. They live in the cell of their inner being without ever knowing true life.

Many things can place us in our own prison and keep us from growing in the way that God has created us. David was in his own prison and didn’t seem to realize it until God sent Nathan to give him a wakeup call. Most of the time, we think of David as the young boy who had killed the giant with one stone or the most notorious king of Israel. In 1 Samuel 13:14, David is described as a man after God’s own heart. So what happened?

Instead of going off to war, David gave in to complacency. Having plenty of time on his hands, his eyes began to wonder. And they landed on a beautiful woman that was married to one of his officers.  After having his way with this woman, she became pregnant. At this point you would have thought that David would have done the right thing. But David was in his own cell that he didn’t want to give up. The desire for this woman was stronger than the motivation to do the right thing. So David sends orders to have the woman’s husband sent to the front lines where he is killed.

Thankfully, after Nathan confronted David, he realized the sin he had committed and was given the key to freedom. Even though he had been given his freedom, he wasn’t given a get out of jail pass. David ended up paying a high price for his actions for the remainder of his life. Even though the rest of his life was frosted with the consequences for his iniquity, he no longer existed in the prison of unconfessed sin.

Carl is home from the time he spent at the kennel. He seems exhausted from the anxiety he must have felt as he waited to be taken out of his pen. He seems more humble than usual. Hopefully, he has learned something from this experience. Not sure though. Either way, I hope that I can imitate our heavenly father and extend some grace to Carl like God extended to David.

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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.