Category Archives: miracles

Temporal Joy

There was a marked contrast in how Bee and Carl were behaving. Carl was strutting around with a joy based on the fact that his earthly father loved him. They had just gotten back from a long walk in the cold weather. Just the two of them. Then there was Bee. She was clearly annoyed that she had been left behind.  No matter how I tried to console her, she was upset and demonstrated it by being domineering. IMG_2852IMG_2803

Another contrast that I noticed happened last night at the end of one of the most exciting football games I have ever witnessed. The Minnesota Vikings were down by one point and it appeared that the New Orleans Saints were going to move on to the quarter finals. With only one play left and over 61 yards to cover, Case Keenum threw a touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs to win the game.

But it wasn’t the way that Case initially reacted to what happened that caught my attention. Even though many compare how he ran around the field trying to find someone to hug to Jim Valvano when North Carolina State won the national basketball championship in 1983.

It wasn’t even the fact that Case shouldn’t have been the quarterback playing in this game. Being the third in line at the beginning of the season, who would have ever believed that he would be the one throwing the football?

No the contrast came when Case was interviewed to share his thoughts about this moment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG2XgL76uwI

He shared how this was the third most important moment after giving his life to Jesus Christ and marrying his wife. Then he walked off.  And then what I saw in the background as they moved the cameras off of Case caught my attention.

There was Stefon Diggs reenacting the play that won the game. With photographers all around him, he reenacted catching the ball and running into the end zone.

I can totally relate to what he was doing. I have also tried to recapture that brief joy that comes from doing something incredible. If not physically trying to reenact it, thinking about it and playing it back in my mind and hoping to capture that emotion that came with the initial act.

But I have never been able to experience the same joy that came with the act itself. And that was what stood out to me. Case knew it too. He knew that the throwing of the football was third in his list of priorities.

For all of us, we will have victories (maybe not as spectacular as this one) and we will also have defeats. And as long as we have our priorities in order, we can experience an eternal joy that can only come from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

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.

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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.

 

 

Kicked to the Curb

He literally got kicked to the curb. My husband and I were headed on a cruise and we had worked it out with a young couple that they would take Carl for the week. Our flight was very early Sunday morning, so we dropped him off on Saturday afternoon thinking all was good.

The house was perfect for Carl. It had a huge back yard where he could frolic around and two other dogs for him to play with. The couple even sent us a picture of Carl hunting for food under a piece of furniture with a caption stating that he was doing well.

So when I got the long text Sunday morning after arriving in Miami, that the arrangement was not going to work, we were in shock and disbelief. Apparently, Carl had spent all night doing what he does best. Howling.  And when I say the word howling, I mean it in the most literal term possible.

The text read that they had tried almost every room in the house to pacify the little dog but nothing worked. They even allowed Carl to take up residence in their own bed but he would have nothing to do with it. His howl persisted throughout the night until the early morning.

And it was in the early break of day that the text was clearly written that Carl could not stay. Once we read the text, we began to brainstorm what we were going to do before getting on the ship and sailing out of cell phone range.

Our first thought was calling Leo’s parents to see if they could return the favor of keeping Carl since we kept Leo for over six weeks. But when my husband called Leo’s human father, he was met with a situation that wouldn’t work. His mother had been taken to the hospital and he was needed to assist in her care.

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So concerned

Our next thought was sending our little dog to our next door neighbors. But Carl had already burned that bridge after scratching their young child.  To make the situation even more challenging, they recently brought home a cat that our little dog felt the strong impulse to pursue throughout their house. Even though our neighbors love Carl, they had made it clear that he was just not welcome.

We were running out of options and time. Our bus was going to pull up in minutes and we would soon be taken one step further from resolving our situation. The couple had already packed up all of Carl’s belongings and driven him back to our house where he was greeted by the sound of silence.

Out of desperation, we made the call that we didn’t want to make. We knew it would be a major interruption in their lives but we just didn’t have a choice.

Our daughter and her family live over two hours away. They have four small children and a cat to boot but we had no option but to try. So we were pleasantly surprised when my son in law, who has made it clear in the past that Carl is not his favorite canine, agreed to make the inconvenient drive to pick up our abandoned pooch.

As clear as it is that my son in law doesn’t care for Carl, the opposite can be stated about my granddaughter. Ellie loves to pamper our little dog whenever she has the chance.  If she could have her way, Carl would be welcome at their house on a permanent basis. So she was absolutely elated to make the long drive to retrieve her little canine friend.

Thankfully, once we were on the ship we received the picture that calmed our fears and let us know that our little dog was going to be okay. There perched in his own seat, among the four little children, Carl was making the ride down interstate 40 to his temporary home.

Throughout the first night on the ship we couldn’t help but wonder how our little guy was doing. So the next morning after paying the extra money needed to make an international call, we telephoned our son in law to check on how the night had gone. Fearing that Carl may have repeated the howling episode we were elated to hear that all went well.

For Carl and Ellie it went better than just well. Ellie was allowed to let Carl sleep with her in her bed. A blanket had been placed on the end of the bed for the little dog. But when my son in law checked on the twosome, Carl was found in a deep sleep with his head on the pillow and his body tucked securely under the covers. And as for Ellie, a big grin was plastered across her face as her arm rested across Carl’s belly.

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Bon Voyage!

 

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.

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Left in the Manger

Carl doesn’t understand Christmas with all the comings and goings. Our schedule has changed with all the parties and people dropping off gifts. All the changes seems to have caused our pooch to become edgy and he appears to only want life to get back into a normal routine.

I enjoy spending time with friends, baking cookies, and getting into the shopping rush but I also like the predictability that life has provided us over the last couple of years. One of those routines that I have enjoyed the most is writing this blog and reflecting on how Carl may view life along with a spiritual lesson that I feel the need to share.

This season I have particularly been preoccupied with the reality of what actually happened two thousand years ago in a stable that could have been easily the side of a cliff. With the sound of Christmas music in the background, I can’t help but feel that many of us only know Jesus as the little baby lying in swaddling clothes in the manger with a bright light shining all around him.  Oh and let’s not forget the shepherds and the wise men that came by to worship the baby.

Just as they left with baby Jesus lying in the manger, we can easily walk back into our lives without considering who this baby grew up to be. As you begin to step away from this season, consider the young mother who couldn’t walk back into her previous life. Instead in Luke 2:19 it states, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

For the next thirty-three years, she must have pondered over who this baby had become. And as she stood near the cross where her son was being crucified, she must have only been comforted by the knowledge that she knew that He was truly from God and was God.

So give yourself a true Christmas present this year. Open the Book that God gave us. The one that may be collecting dust. Turn to the third chapter of Luke and follow the journey that Mary must have taken as she watched her baby become a man.

Carl is getting antsy as he notices that we are getting ready to leave once more. This time to the Christmas program that our church puts on each year. He is following us around like he knows that we will be exiting any minute. And as we close the door behind us, he will find his way back to the comfort of his sofa.

Carl and I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a New Year full of God’s eternal treasures.

As a side note: Please let me know if I should continue to write this blog by liking it or writing a short comment. I am considering taking up a different style of blogging but would like input from you before doing so.

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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.

 

 

 

An Allusive Light

Every once in a while when I have the flash light in my hand, I get tempted to put the lazar function on and trace it over the floor. It only takes a minute until Carl spots the light and begins to hunt it down. He usually gets very excited and will slip and slide all over the floor until the light is turned off.

What is it about the light that causes such a reaction from my dogs? And why does this light cause Carl to become so consumed that he is willing to do anything to get to it?

More importantly, what was it about the star that rose in the sky after the birth of Jesus that caused the wise men to leave their homes and travel thousands of miles to find the baby? For months, they traveled, gazing up at the star that was directing them towards Bethlehem.

It is interesting that they are referred to as wise. Dictionary.com defines the word “wise” as “having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.”

I am sure many didn’t see these men as wise as they packed their gifts and headed out into the desert in search for an unknown destination. Even so, every night when the shadows of the last light slipped behind the horizon, the star would appear even brighter than before.

As they drew closer to the Christ child, their excitement must have grown. And when they arrived in Jerusalem, people began to talk about them. They seemed so determined to locate this baby that King Herod called them into his chambers to find out more.

But being wise, they knew that this king only wanted ill will for this infant. So after leaving Jerusalem they determined not to go back to the king with the infant’s location.

Finally, after months of travel, they arrived at their destination. There was nothing about the house they entered that would indicate royalty. The parents were apparently very poor and the baby had no physical trait that would indicate that he would become a king over all humanity.

But none of that mattered. These men knew that they were in the presence of God. In reverence, they knelt in front of the baby and his mother and laid down their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

These men must have felt a satisfaction that can only come from being in the presence of God. Unlike them, Carl will never feel the satisfaction of catching the light that is so allusive.

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