Category Archives: growth

Slammed Doors

Just days ago, I was referring to Bee as Leo’s nurse but I am not sure what to call her now. Two nights ago, I had gotten up for the middle of the night feeding and after distributing food to the three dogs, I slipped back into bed. It was then that I knew something was different.

After finishing her food, Bee made her way back into the bedroom and sat erect on the rug next to my bed. She seemed alert and ready for something, but I wasn’t sure what.

A couple of minutes passed and she didn’t back down from her stance. Then it happened. Carl slowly made his way down the hall and just before entering the room, Bee began to growl and sprang towards the defenseless pooch.

Even though it was the middle of the night and my husband was fast asleep, I had to let her know that this behavior was not acceptable. So with a harsh verbal command, Bee retreated.

I am still not sure why Bee acted in the manner that she did. It could be that she is just fed up with all the changes that have taken place in her life. She might be telling her male canines that she is not going to be pushed over because she is a smaller female.

Don’t we all feel this way every once in a while? Life is okay when one or two minor modifications take place, but when we get slammed with a huge change that doesn’t appear to be budging, we may respond like Bee did the other night.

We all have a choice on how we respond to the slamming doors in our lives. We can act irrationally or we can look upward for insight and comfort. Throughout the Gospel of John, there are many references to the reaction of the people regarding Jesus. He was definitely a door slammer to all of the religious community of the day.

But it is the Pharisees that really get me. These men had been studying the law and the Old Testament. They should have been the first ones to embrace the Messiah. But all they saw was a slamming door.

By the time Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead and many of the parishioners had begun to follow him, the religious leaders were fed up. Instead of looking to God and realizing that this man was the Son of God, they became angry due to their lack of control.

I am sure all of us have reacted like the religious leaders did when our lives have been modified without our permission. Thankfully, Bee was more relaxed last night and was able to let Carl and Leo slip past her without incident. Maybe she has actually learned to accept what she doesn’t have the power to change. Hope so.

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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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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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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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.

Shaking Off the Anger

Bee was the first French Bull dog that we owned. She was a perfect little dog and loved her life with my husband and I. As a puppy, she got all of our attention which meant snoozing in my husband’s lap in the evening and sleeping at the end of our bed each night.

She loved the long walks we would take and other than pulling too hard on her leash, she was obedient and practically ignored all the other dogs on the trail. Her life basically revolved around sleeping when we were away and playing with her bones.

And then in December of 2014, her life changed drastically. It has been difficult to know how she has felt about her brother. With his demanding personality, Bee has had to fight for the attention that just came naturally her way.

I am proud of our little girl and how well she has handled the changes that have taken place in her short lifetime. She could have become very bitter and turned her feelings into angry rage. But not our little Bee.

Recently with the addition of a third dog, Bee has demonstrated that she doesn’t get her happiness from what is happening around her. Instead, it has been made clear that she has been blessed with a positive disposition and is able to go with the flow.

For some of us, going with the flow comes easily but for others it can be much more difficult to let the unwanted obstacles in life pass by without getting upset. Every time an unplanned circumstance that disrupts our life comes our way, we are faced with a decision. Do we get aggravated and wear our irritation on our sleeve or do we hand over our feelings to God?

Ephesians 4:26-27 is packed with some great advice about anger. It states, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.”

God knows we will become angry at times but it doesn’t give us an excuse to sin. He also knows that we need to let our anger go and not stay mad even for a day. There is nothing that Satan wants more than for us to stay angry and ultimately sin because of it.

One of the attributes that I love about dogs is their ability to let anger go. One minute Bee, Carl, and Leo can have their hair raised up and ready to fight and the next, they shake off their anger and walk away. The next time I become angry, I hope to remember how Bee has been able to move past her own feelings of being an only dog and give myself a good shake and move on.

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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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