Category Archives: Jesus

Carl the Super Hero Dog

Carl acts like he is a super hero dog. And why not? He is able to go through walls. (With the help of a remote controlled doggy door) Any time he wants water, he can go to his bowl that is always full. But when Carl stands on the back deck and runs off all the wild animals with the sound of his ferocious bark, he stands like he actually has super powers.

But the truth is Carl is not a super hero dog. As much as he wants to be, he has limitations. He is totally dependent on humans to feed him, bathe him, and meet all of his medical needs.

It is easy to see that Carl doesn’t have super powers but it can be more difficult for us to see our lack of power. If we are healthy and gainfully employed, it can be easy to list all of the ways that we are in control of our lives. Doesn’t our toil produce the money necessary to purchase what we need?

If we take a closer look, we might see that we shouldn’t be so quick to take the credit for our self-sufficiency. In Psalm 127, Solomon writes, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” To get a clearer picture of what this verse means, I looked up in Dictionary.com what “in vain” means. And I was surprised to see it meant “without effect or avail; to no purpose.”

We can build all of our lives but if the Lord is not at the center of why we are building, it serves no purpose. Yes, our efforts will put food on the table and a roof over our heads, but ultimately will not produce the eternal fruit that we were created for.

Since we are spiritual creatures, we need to realize that everything that we are given, has been given to us by our Lord. With this knowledge, we ought to give Him the credit for all His gifts.

It might be difficult to convince Carl that he is not a super hero dog, but I can assure you that when it is time to eat, he is eager to demonstrate his gratitude by looking up at me with a humble expression. Hopefully, we can extend even more thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father.

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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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Seized with Revenge

Carl is definitely the top dog at our house. But whenever he sees his sister Bee get preferential treatment, he has a hard time with his emotions. If she walks in front of him on a walk, Carl will nip at her to let her know that she needs to get back. At dinner time, Carl will always be fed first and treats also need to be given in that order.

But if you want to see Carl get into a fighting mode it is when attention is given to Bee from friends and strangers. Whenever someone will reach down to pet his sister dog, he goes crazy mad! His calm demeanor is immediately changed to a dog with only revenge on his mind. And don’t even think about reasoning with him when he is in the heat of the moment.

As many times as we have tried to reason him out of his hostility, it does no good until he is given some time to cool down. Isn’t Carl like so many of us when our buttons have been pushed? Can you remember a time that you were so angry at someone that all you wanted was to see harm done to them? You may not have actually acted out the feelings, but the thoughts were clearly being played out in your mind.

It is moments like these that I am thankful that God included David in the Bible. We think of him as the one that was constantly being sought after by Saul because of the hatred he had towards David. But God demonstrates through his word, that even men like David, a man after God’s own heart, could become seized with revenge.

David had been running from Saul and found himself in the wilderness surrounded by six hundred needy men. During this time, he sent these men out to protect the local shepherds from bandits and to literally create a wall of protection. There was one particular wealthy shepherd by the name of Nabal that had benefited from David’s safeguard.

It was shearing time and was the custom, David had expected his men to be given some of the meat from the slaughter. So when David had sent several men to Nabal to receive what was rightfully his, Nabal blatantly refused to give him anything.

Seized with anger, David put on his sword and led his men to kill Nabal and all the males of his family. David was determined to act out on his revenge and nothing could stop him. Oh but wait. Who do I see in the distance with donkeys carrying enough food to feed an army?

Nabal was an evil man. No one disputed that. But his wife Abigail was exactly the opposite. She was a wise woman with integrity. When one of the servants had heard that David was coming to destroy Nabal’s family, he went to Abigail and told her the situation. This woman probably had every reason to allow the slaughter of her husband to take place, but she didn’t.

Instead, she prayed to God and He gave her the words to speak to David. Incredibly, what she said had such impact that David turned his men around and went back into the wilderness. And she went home to her husband.

But God wasn’t finished yet. It states in 1 Samuel 25:38 “And about ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.” And doesn’t it say in Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”

Many times when we are so angry and can only see the wrath we want to impart on others, we should stop and allow God to work. David would have had suffered major consequences for the death of Nabal. In the same manner, when we act before giving the situation to God, we will also have a cost to pay.

As for Carl, he usually gets over his feelings towards Bee once he receives the attention that he craves. If only he could understand that God cares about him and will supply his needs. Realistically, he is only a dog. But one that has taught me so much.

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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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Carl, a Product of God’s Sense of Humor

Carl was born on October 6, 2014, the same day that my husband’s father entered into an assistant living community. We never knew that this day would change our world in so many ways. For my father in law, this day would mean going from independence to a life of being told what to do and where he could and could not go.

Our life also changed on this day in October because of the peace we would experience from knowing that Joe, my father in law, would be receiving the care he needed after being diagnosed with dementia and lung cancer.  But it was also the birthday of our little dog that would rock our world.

I personally believe that God has a great sense of humor. To have two major events happen on the same day without our knowledge can only be seen as a touch of humor from our maker. If you think about it, He created us with a sense of humor so why should we think He doesn’t have one?

Didn’t God allow Sarah, an old woman far beyond her child bearing age, to carry a child to term? Even when she laughed when God promised Abraham that he would be a father. And what about the day that He stopped the rotation of the earth long enough for Joshua to destroy the Amorites? Could this be an act of humor as He observed the Israelites battle with the extra couple of hours of sunlight?

But the one time in the Bible that clearly demonstrates God’s sense of humor can be found in Numbers 22:27-34 when he opened the mouth of a donkey to tell his servant Balaam, that an angel was standing in the road. God must have been shaking his head and wondering what he had to do to get his attention.

So if God opened the mouth of a donkey to speak to Balaam, I believe God can use a tailless French bull dog to speak to me. Carl may not speak words but he has surely spoken volumes as I have tried to discover what God’s will is for me. And the coolest part of owning this little Frenchie is seeing a glimpse of God’s humor every day.

 

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Living in the Shadows

For the last week, Carl has been living in the shadows. I never thought there would be a day that Carl would not be in the center of our home’s attention. But given our grandchildren are staying with us, Carl has been living his life beyond the forefront.

There are many of us that never live in the forefront. We may appear insignificant to the masses and walk around without ever being noticed. We may have mundane occupations that never receive the awards and accolades that others we know receive.

What is interesting is as I read the story of David, I have realized he is one of us. When Samuel went to anoint a son of Jesse to become king,  he thought he knew exactly who would be chosen. Samuel asked Jesse to present his sons to him. The first son to parade before God was Abinadab. Since Jesse chose him first, he must have had a special place in his father’s heart. But God told Samuel that he would not be king.

As Jesse called Shammah, he must have thought that it had to be this son. If it wasn’t Abinadab it must have been this strong young man that demanded the attention of others. Perfect candidate for being a king. But once more, Samuel hears no word from God.

I can’t imagine how Jesse felt as the sons that he would have chosen paraded by the prophet without even a second glance. All seven of them didn’t even get a nod.

Then Samuel asks Jesse if this was all of his sons. Just the thought of not even being considered states a lot about how Jesse felt about David. Can you imagine how David must have been treated as a child if he isn’t even a blimp on the radar?

Jesse responds by telling Samuel that there is one more BUT there is no way God would be considering anointing him.  He is out shepherding the sheep. A job that would be given to servants or ones that you don’t want around. I am sure Jesse must have been thinking that Samuel had it all wrong. Why would God want David?

In the isolation of the fields, God had been preparing David for his position as king over Israel. The lonely nights where David only had God to speak with and to rely on. God knew David’s heart. He knew that in this mundane, out of the forefront life, God had a man that he could etch into the greatest king that was ever known.

This encourages me as I sit here and peck out words that I believe God put on my heart. For so many years of working in a classroom without recognition and being the youngest of five. I can relate to David. I know that I was never chosen to be a king but I do believe I was chosen to be a child of God.

As for Carl. The grandchildren will eventually go home and he will once again return to the forefront of our attention. But until then, you can find our little pooch living in the shadows.

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Carl’s Desire for Freedom

As the sun poured through the window, Carl fluttered his eyes and looked around. After seeing that no one was stirring, he snuggled deeper into his bed, closed his eyes and slipped back to sleep. Once I awoke and looked over at my slumbering pooch, I could only wonder what he was dreaming about. Could he be dreaming about running free alongside the dogs he is forced to stay away from when we are walking? Or could it be a dream about prancing through the forest that lines our backyard, with no fears of being caught and having the dreaded collar placed around his neck?

As young teens, we hope for the day that we can be free from the restraints of living under the rules of our parents. Then once we grow independent from our family, we realize the freedom we thought would be in front of us has been replaced by the responsibilities of raising our own family. As the years pass, we hope for the day the children will be on their own and we will have enough money to leave the work that has kept us shackled.

Life after work and no longer being responsible for others does seem freeing but never completely satisfying. How can we actually experience the freedom that our souls desire? We can live for just ourselves and pursue the desires our flesh yearns for. But is living for ourselves truly freedom? There must be more.

In Galatians 5:13, Paul states, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

This sounds like a paradigm to me. I have heard all my life that I will be the happiest when I don’t have the responsibility of taking care of others. But this verse states exactly the opposite. My freedom comes from my relationship with Christ and my gratitude for what He did for me will be seen through the love I extend towards others.

Since Jesus is the author of life, I believe He knows how I can receive true freedom. On the other hand, I am not sure Carl will ever understand how the restraints we place on him are a demonstration of our love. And that is okay. Just as Jesus knows what is best for us when we don’t understand, we will do the same for Carl.

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