Category Archives: Fear

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.

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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?

 

A Life Changing Dream

As I look towards the fire, I can’t help but smile at my little white dog. He is cuddled up on the couch as close to the fire as he can get. The blower to our furnace is broken, so for now, the gas fire place is the spot to be near to stay warm. Carl’s eyes are closed and he seems to be preoccupied in his world of dreams.

Dreams. Many of them can be unpleasant and others can take you to the edge of ecstasy. I can’t say that I have had any in my lifetime that changed the course of my life. Some have given me something to think about but for the most part, nothing earth shattering.

But this isn’t the case for Joseph. Ever since he had found out that Mary was pregnant, he couldn’t think about anything else. He wanted to believe her but how could it be possible that she was pregnant without sleeping with another man?

And the nights were the worse. Sleep didn’t come easily. But this night Joseph finally drifted into a deep coma. This is when it happened. An angel appeared to him and even though he was asleep, Joseph knew that this was the most real experience he had ever had.

The angel shared a clear message from God. ““Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21.

Joseph awoke and knew that he had to honor God by coveting the relationship he had with Mary. The angel was very clear and Joseph knew he had to do whatever it took to protect this woman and the baby she carried. And this is where the journey began that would ultimately change the course of humanity.

Unlike Joseph, Carl’s dreams seem to be only a fleeting set of pictures that may consist of his doggy family or a wild adventure that has no real significance. On occasion, Carl has awoken with a strong reaction to something that appeared in a dream. But after a few moments of adjusting his thoughts, he has been able to calm down and fall back to sleep.  IMG_2048

The Power of Fear

Power. It takes all kinds of shapes. Last night I saw it in its most primitive state. After feeding Carl and Bee, I went back into the bedroom and went back to sleep. A few minutes later I awoke to a feeling that something wasn’t right. I sat up and looked at the two dog beds and found them vacant.

Anxiety filled my heart as I arose and walked down the darkened hallway back into the kitchen. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find but I knew it wasn’t going to be good. There shivering in the corner was Carl. He had been trapped there by the power of fear.

Fear takes on a life of its own if it isn’t dealt with. In the last couple of months this has been clearly played out in the life of my dog Carl. But I know there are areas of my life that fear can grasp on to and squeeze harder if I am not careful.

When I was a young girl, I was involved in a boat accident that left me scarred for life. As I was under the water with the boat coming straight towards me, a fear was born. Little did I know that it would take on the shape that it did.

Obviously, I was afraid of boats but specifically catamarans. The flat surface of the boat was a perfect place to get trapped under if the boat flipped over. And then there are bridges, particularly high ones that lift the cars far above the water. Just the thought of these, makes my heart race and palms perspire.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6 sums up how we should all deal with our fears. The power of fears comes when we give it time to fester in our minds and hearts. If we instead turn our focus onto God and all His blessings, fear will lose its power.

But as for Carl, his fear has taken the shape of his sister dog Bee. Every time she stands in front of him and he backs down, her power over him increases. What started off as a little anxiety has blown up into a nightmare for all of us.

I would love to hear from anyone that may have a suggestion on how to resolve this issue.  I am out of ideas and am willing to try anything to bring our dogs back into a harmonious relationship.

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God’s Timing

It only took months but he finally got it. After countless nights, Carl figured out a way to keep himself safe from his sister’s wrath. It was as simple as timing. He figured out that if he came into the bedroom before Bee, he could race across the room, jump onto his chair, and snuggle deep into his cushion.  Then when she finally appears, he would be safe from the horrors of her domination.

Timing is a significant variable in our lives. After being married for over three decades, I have come to realize that the time I share unpleasant information with my husband can be the most important variable on how he will receive it.  Early on in my marriage, I would blurt out whatever was on my mind the second he walked in the door. It took a while but I finally realized that this wasn’t helping anyone.

So now, I hold my tongue until he has had time to relax a few minutes, get some food in his stomach and unwind from work. Timing is a factor that we should never take for granted, particularly when we are praying to God. God knows when it is best to answer our prayers.

We all want our prayers answered immediately, particularly if there is suffering involved. We don’t want to wait and hold on to the ordeal that life can throw at us. The Israelites felt this way when the Babylonians had taken them captive. For seventy years they were tortured and exposed to horrors that were unbearable.

So where was God? Why would He allow his people to experience such suffering? God had spoken through Jeremiah years before and pleaded for his people to repent and return into a relationship with Him. He had even shared with Jeremiah how long these people would be in bondage.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I know this verse specifically pertains to the Israelites but I do believe that God has plans for each of us. And in these plans He has a specific timeline for all the details of our lives. So when I experience suffering and want God to fix it now, I must trust in His perfect timing.

Carl’s inability to understand the importance of timing is a reminder to me that I don’t understand many of the lessons that God tries to teach me. As he learns the benefit of getting into his bed before his sister comes into the room, I need to look into my own life and trust God with the details.

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Carl was afraid to come out of the shower.

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

Vulnerable

A lot has happened in the last couple of days.  Bee has been having a very difficult time keeping her emotions in check. She and Leo have been fighting more and blood has been spilled too many times to let this arrangement continue. So with a heavy heart, I had to call Leo’s owner and ask for him to be removed from our home.

After a thorough survey of the damages, both Bee and Carl have had some battle wounds that needed to be addressed. A quick trip to the vet unveiled several places that will need an antibiotic to speed the healing.

Since Leo has left, both Bee and Carl seem like different animals. The tension has dissipated and the four of us have slipped back into our familiar routine. Carl no longer has to wonder if he has to share the couch but can take up residence lying on his back with his legs pressed against the cushion.

Many times during the last days, I felt torn emotionally. Feelings of vulnerability swept through me as I tried to break the dogs up. I desperately wanted this arrangement to work but I was just not able to predict the triggers that would send the dogs over the edge.

Most of us don’t like feeling vulnerable. We feel exposed and have nothing to hide behind. Whenever we find ourselves in this position, we assume that God is punishing us. I am sure the Israelites felt this way when they reached the outskirts of Jericho.

This generation of Israelites had been raised in the desert, waiting to go to the Promised Land and their first conquest was the city of Jericho. But before pursuing their enemy, God had one command for all of the men. Joshua 5:2 states, “At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.”

Did I hear that correctly?  God wants Joshua to circumcise all of the sons of Israel. I am sure most were wondering about the timing of this command. Joshua must have known that they were truly vulnerable with all the men healing from a very painful procedure.

So why then? Why would God command the men to be made weak right before this major battle? Could it be that God knew that it would be easy for the Israelites to win the battle of Jericho and put their trust in themselves and not God?

I know that during those last days of having Leo with us, I struggled with the fact that I couldn’t fix this issue. I didn’t want to believe that I had no power over the situation. So I ended up letting go of the problem and putting it in the hands of God.

Once again, God has demonstrated his will in my life through the actions of my little muse, Carl. As he sleeps peacefully on his section of the couch, I can’t help but thank Him for knowing what is best.

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