Category Archives: hurting

Goodness in the Pain

IMG_3182

It was clear that Carl’s sister was agitated and was not going to tolerate the attention that Carl was receiving from all of the grownups in the room. Her eyes zeroed in and her body began to shiver. The hair on the nap of her neck was raised and before anyone could stop the quarrel, she charged in on her prey.

Immediately, the adults in the room started screaming and attempted to pull the two bulldogs a part. After a couple of horrifying moments, the dogs were separated.  Carl was immediately surrounded by concerned women with sympathetic words and soft pets to his head.

As I gazed into his deep brown eyes, it was clear that he was loving all of the attention he was receiving. As the women inspected his hurt paw, Carl sat as still as possible and looked down with a forlorn expression indicating that he was definitely hurt and would appreciate all the tender loving care they wanted to provide.

The situation was quite alarming for the women who experienced the two dogs fighting at their feet. As for Carl, it was very disturbing and quite painful. But even in the midst of the pain, there was an ounce of good in it.

How can I say there is good when there is pain present? When I was twelve, I was in a serious motor boat accident that left me scarred for life. I was thrown out of a boat and ended up in the exact path of the propeller. After the blades had made mincemeat of my left arm and side, I was rushed to Duke Hospital where I spent one of the most painful nights of my life.

So how can I say there is good when pain is present? I would never wish what happened to me on anyone but I can tell you that something incredible occurred during the pain. An awareness stemmed from that particular day of pain. An awareness that I had a purpose in my life.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse that I hold close to my heart because I truly believe it was not only given to the Israelites but to anyone that may not understand the pain in their lives.

“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.”

I would never want to relive that summer day in 1969. But as crazy as it sounds, I am grateful for the experience because I believe that God had a purpose in the pain to awaken me to His presence.

It would be great to hear your story on how God changed your life through pain.

As for Carl, he nursed his womb all night long and was still limping in the morning. I am sure he will be fine in the near future, but in the meantime, he sure seems to be enjoying all the attention he is receiving.

 

Vulnerable

Carl is beginning to pipe up and has started that annoying howl that has gotten him in lots of trouble in the recent past. I am not sure why he has started to make this obnoxious noise except that he wants my attention. For the last couple of days, I have been very attentive towards his needs and today was totally different.

With winter weather that has kept us house bound, Carl has enjoyed the knowledge of having a back rub or sitting on a human’s lap.  Every day has been spent either sleeping or trying to get my attention. But these last couple of days Carl has realized that his human mother is not herself.

If any of you out there have turned 50, you know the right of passage that you are faced with.  The dreaded colonoscopy. Every ten years, each of us over 50 are confronted with not only the procedure but the prep that comes with it. I am not going into specifics but I can tell you that this process has lengthened and gotten a little more complicated.

Instead of just one day of prep, the new process includes four days of a low fiber diet which is totally different from the diet that I would have predicted. After eating carbs and bread for four days, the day prior to the procedure I was confronted with a liquid diet that ended with 64 ounces of Gatorade and Miralax.

I haven’t fasted in a while and wondered how I would handle a day without food. For someone who doesn’t want to miss a meal, how would my attitude be when I had to go without?  Around 1:00 in the afternoon, I was beginning to feel the effects of having nothing on my stomach. I could tell that my irritable attitude was rising up from within.

This is when I tried to consume my thoughts with distractions from the Australian Open and later with the NFL playoffs. I was feeling a little vulnerable with the knowledge that I had a ways to go and knew that my stomach wasn’t going to be satisfied for at least another 24 hours.

As I reflect over this experience, a verse in Matthew 17 keeps coming up.  Jesus had just been up to the mountain where He, Moses, and Elijah were transfigured in the presence of several of his disciples. Once He comes back down to the people, He is instantly confronted by a man that desperately wants his son to be healed from a demon.

The man tells Jesus that several of his disciples tried to heal the boy but couldn’t. It was clear the disciples thought they could, but were unable to. When asked by them why the boy couldn’t be healed, Jesus tells them, “However this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Prayer and fasting. Why would God want us to fast? Being without food caused me to feel vulnerable. I didn’t feel as in control as I usually do. It is in this state of mind that we can go to God and have a better perspective of who He is. While fasting, I felt weak which made God strong.

As the day went on, Carl could tell that I wasn’t myself and gave me my space. But that evening, when I was at my weakest, I looked over at our little pooch and found him in a prayer stance. I could only smile and thank God for the lessons He has taught me through this little dog.IMG_2906

The Power of a Name

Carl has been away for over a week. He has taken up residence with my daughter’s family. I got a text from her stating that her children didn’t want to let him go.  They had fallen in love with our sweet dog and proved it by changing his name to Uncle Carl.

IMG_2841

Prior to this stay, Carl was only tolerated by my daughter’s family. So when I had heard that his name had been changed, it warmed my heart. How often do we enjoy hearing an endearing name come from someone we love?  As a mother, I cherish being called mom or mommy.

When my husband and I were dating, he began calling me Little. When we were married, he had this name engraved inside my wedding ring. To this day, I find it very special when he refers to me as Little.

If given a name by a loved one is special, I can’t help but wonder what Abram and Sarai felt when God intentionally changed their names. In Genesis 17, Abram has an encounter with God. At the age of 99, we could all assume that Abram was waiting for his final exit. But God had other plans for him.

The first thing God did was change his name as well as his wife’s. Abram’s name would be Abraham which means father of the multitudes and Sarai’s name would be Sarah which means princess of nations. Given that this couple had been barren for long after their child bearing age, Sarah laughed when she had heard the news.

I am sure even after God had told them that they would have a child, Sarah and Abraham had to continue to doubt. But what about the name changes? Why would God change their names if He wasn’t going to make them parents? The time between God’s announcement and the pregnancy had to be agonizing. And all they had to believe with were the names that God had given them.

Sometimes when my husband and I are going through rough spots in our marriage, I will think about the name inscribed in my ring and how much he loved me when he called me his Little.  And just like Abraham and Sarah, I believe that the love that is represented in this name will get us through the tough times and allow God to work his miracles.

As for Uncle Carl, he is now home and missed by all the grandchildren. He also sIMG_2845eems a little sad to be among the quiet walls of our home. I am sure that over time, he will bounce back to the playful dog that we all know.

As for my daughter’s family, I truly feel thankful for the love that was extended to our little dog and the name that officially made him family.

 

 

Who is in Your Boat?

Carl continues to live in a state of anxiety. He just can’t shake it.  No matter how often my husband and I come to his rescue, he still believes that his sister will cause him harm. Every night, we have to use our bodies as a wall that gives Carl the courage to scoot past his sister and jump up into his bed.IMG_2799

No matter how often we come to his rescue, Carl can’t believe that we can be powerful enough to protect him. I was doing a lesson in Matthew 15 and was asked how the disciples must have felt when the storm came up and Jesus walked across the water to the boat.

Earlier in the day, the disciples had been a part of one of the greatest miracles they had witnessed since Jesus began his ministry. They had taken the bread from Jesus and handed it out to over ten thousand people. It was through their very hands that the five loaves of bread and two fish fed the multitudes.

Then why couldn’t they believe that Jesus, who could heal the sick and feed the multitudes, rescue them from the raging waters of the sea? When I thought about it, I had to confess that my faith can be just like these men. I can see and even be a part of incredible miracles one moment and then question the power of God in my own life.

It is easy to believe that God can do great things for others but when it comes to the uncertainties of my life, I have to pause. Just like the disciples, my faith can be limited.

The extremely cool thing about this passage is that Jesus didn’t just calm the winds. He also didn’t leave Peter in the water when his faith wavered. Jesus did something that I need to always remember. He got in the boat with these men. And He will get in my boat too.

Carl has made it back to his bed to sleep the morning away by himself. I went back to be with him and sit on the edge of the chair and stroke his head. As I ran my fingers across his head and onto his back, I couldn’t help but visualize how Jesus sits with us when we go through the rough storms in our lives.

IMG_2800

 

Stuck

I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t find Bee anywhere. She wasn’t snuggled up in front of the fire or buried in her oversized bed. I even checked the bathroom to see if she was cuddled up on one of the bath mats. It had been at least twenty minutes since I last saw her and knew she would come in from the cold temperatures if she could.

I raised the curtain on the French door that led to the backyard and saw my little girl sitting on the top step. I quickly opened the door and called for her to come but she wouldn’t budge.

My first fear was that she had cornered an animal that she didn’t want to give up. I cautiously made my way towards her to inspect what could be her prey. Given that we have had a possum on our porch, I didn’t want to take any chances. And even though most of the snakes have disappeared I couldn’t help but remember the snake that Bee and Carl had literally tore in half just a few feet away from where she was sitting.

After a close inspection, it was clear that she didn’t have a prey so why wouldn’t she come when I called? Even after tempting her with treats, she seemed stuck.

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in life? Stuck in a period of life that no longer brings you the joy that you remember having in your youth.  Stuck in thoughts of wanting something that will bring fulfillment but no matter how hard you try, it just doesn’t come.

Do you remember Let’s Make a Deal, a game show where the contestants had to pick a curtain where they could receive a fabulous gift or a booby prize that was worthless? Sometimes, I think life can be like this. We come to intersections where we have to make decisions that could bring fulfillment or leave us empty and stuck.

In John 15:9-11 Jesus gives us a clear path on how to get us unstuck. He states, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

So whenever I feel stuck, I know that I need to get into my Bible and draw close to this man that understands how to give me joy to the fullest.

As for Bee, after not making any attempt to climb that last step, I reached down and brought her inside where she rested until I took her to the vet. After close examination, it was determined that Bee must have tweaked her back. She received a steroid shot, muscle relaxers, and strict orders to rest.

And even though she scared Carl half to death the other night, he took it upon himself to jump up on the couch and draw close.

IMG_2367

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.

img_2312-1.jpg

A Broken Stitch

So I had some minor surgery the other day on my head. I have been blessed with a genetic condition that causes my hair follicles to get blocked. Once the blockage occurs, a cyst is born.  Over time, just like an oyster creates a pearl, my head produces a hard substance that is encased in a sack.

Over the years, I have produced close to a dozen of these pearls and once they get too large to ignore, I get them taken off. I have been avoiding having these annoying bumps removed due to the distaste for pain and the fact that they don’t bother anyone but me. But after consulting with my dermatologist, I sucked it up and had four of them removed.

Of course, I was sent home with a set of instructions of things that I shouldn’t do for at least twenty-four hours. No bending, stooping, or lifting. To my defense I would like to explain to those of you that haven’t had surgery on your head that there aren’t as many nerve endings so the recovery is pretty painless. The problem with this is that you may tend to do more than you should. Which is exactly what happened to me.

The second I got home, Carl started jumping up on me for attention. Once I calmed him down, Bee and Leo were looking at me so I had to reach down and give them some love. Then it was dinner time for the dogs which again meant scooping down for their food. When I was finally able to sit down to watch some television, Leo climbed up on my lap.

I thought everything was going well until about 8:30 PM. I had just sat down from cleaning the dishes and I felt something wet on my shoulder. I called my husband over to check out the blood I had caught in my hand. Apparently a stitch broke and blood was gushing out of the incision. He immediately found a bandage for me to put on top of the incision.  After a call to my daughter who is a nurse, I was instructed to lie with my head elevated and keep the bandage securely on my head.

This is when the dogs took their positions on the floor next to the couch. All three of them seemed extremely concerned and wouldn’t budge. For the thirty minutes it took for the bleeding to subside, the threesome didn’t take their eyes off of me.

As I lay there, I couldn’t help but think about how God watches over me on a constant basis. He is concerned about me during difficult and joyous occasions. Psalm 121:7-8 states this truth for all who seek the Lord.

“The Lord will keep you from all harm—

He will watch over your life;

The Lord will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.”

Even though I wasn’t sure if a trip to the emergency room was in order, I was extremely comforted by my dog’s actions. After a while, Leo and Carl made their way up onto the couch and positioned themselves against my body. All was well until Carl woke from a bad dream, saw Leo up against me, and began to growl.

Thankfully, no major fight broke out and we are all doing well. All the dogs have moved on to their own routine and I am healing nicely.