Category Archives: Fear

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?

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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.

What Might Happen

A friend’s dog is staying with us.  Another French Bull dog. He is a good looking brindle with brown eyes and a face that you have to love. Carl has been tolerating the invasion of another male bully but there are rules that we must all follow. The most important one is that Carl gets the maximum amount of attention, no matter the circumstances.

This is being lived out as I write this. Leo has begun to bark at Carl and a staring contest is going on right behind my chair. Carl doesn’t want Leo to receive the attention that he believes belongs only to him.

A couple of minutes ago, I had Carl in my lap and was stroking his back as Leo slipped beside the chair. What happened next is so typical of my little dog. Carl began to show his dismay by growling under his breath. Here he was, in his favorite spot in the whole world, and he couldn’t enjoy it because of his obsessive thoughts about what might happen.

How often do we get sucked into thinking about all the things that might happen and disregard the pleasantries of the present? We can be enjoying a beautiful fall day without too many worries, and a thought about the future pops into our brain and takes over. Instead of sending the thought on its way, we allow the thought to make its home in our heads.

As I cruised through the Bible to find verses that can help us, I was amazed at how many verses addressed worry or thinking about things we need to stay away from. Proverbs 55:22 states, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

So instead of worrying about situations that we don’t have control over, go to God in prayer. And when we pray, start with thanking Him for the power He possesses to overcome any and all situations that we may be worried about.

It is too bad that Carl doesn’t understand how to pray and move beyond the worries that have consumed him. Instead he converts over to the piercing howl that I have grown to know as his way of drawing more attention his way.

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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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Carl’s Feelings of Defeat

Carl lay on the floor and looked like he had been totally defeated. He had been crying out for my attention and I was too busy to give it to him. So when he realized that he wasn’t going to receive it, he lay on the floor in udder defeat.

Defeat. It comes in many different forms. Some are huge hits to our ego while others can be tolerated. I play a lot of competitive tennis and with it comes wins and defeats. But one thing I have realized when I lose a match, my life doesn’t change once I am off the court.

Then there are the big defeats. Several years ago after retiring from teaching, I decided to start a tutoring business. I began with an air of arrogance that I would easily find clients. But this isn’t what happened. Time and time again, I would talk with potential clients and they would decide not to use my services.

The feelings of inadequacy swept over me with every rejection. I questioned my skills and three decades of experience. What would seem an easy transition turned into a defeat.

But my experience was nothing compared to what the Disciples of Christ felt when their leader was tortured and then killed on the cross.  All of their hopes and dreams of a worldly kingdom with Christ as their king came crashing down as the blood dripped onto the ground.

This was supposed to be the greatest downfall in history. But what appeared to be a totally hopeless situation changed into the most ultimate victory of all time. And because of this spiritual triumph our defeats can also be transformed. For me, it ended up to be a blessing that my tutoring business didn’t work.  God had other plans for me.

As for Carl, he got a super long walk this morning and a lot of verbal stroking that made his ears perk up and his body walk in a self- confident strut.  And as I observed my pooch swaggering down the street, I smiled and thank God for my defeats that have been transformed into victories.

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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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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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