Category Archives: miracles

Carl’s New Normal

I haven’t seen Carl in days and can only wonder how he is adjusting to his new family. It is strange not to have my four legged friend looking up at me with his soft brown eyes and scratching my leg so that I will reach down and give him the attention that he desires. I can’t help but think about how he is handling this drastic change in his life.

Drastic changes. Ones that we can’t predict and have no control over. There are many people in Florida and Houston that have had their world transformed with no idea of how to adjust to their new normal.

New normals can either make people bitter or better. What determines this can be found within the person and not necessarily the circumstances that surround them. A great example of this can be found in Numbers 13. Moses had assigned one man from each of the Israelite tribes to go and explore the Promised Land and come back and give a report.

We should remember that these people had been abused and used by the Egyptians for years. Then God trained up Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and to bring them into a land that He had promised them through Abraham.

It would seem that these people should have trusted God after He had miraculously brought them through the Red Sea and then devoured the Egyptians. But as we all know, we can have a very short memory when we are placed in perilous situations.

So when the men came back, Only two out of twelve men had the faith to believe that God would provide them a way into the land that they had been promised.

Numbers 13: 30-31 states,” Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”

How often do we doubt that God can get us through the times of uncertainty?

More time than we think… Just as the men couldn’t believe that God actually had a place that was better for them, we also doubt how God can get us through times of trials.

As for Carl, he has been staying with some friends that have been living in our home while we have been away on vacation. I have heard that he has been behaving himself for the most part. I guess he has been able to adapt to his new normal better than we expected.

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Making Himself at Home

When I got home today, my husband told me that Carl and Bee had gone exploring down the road.  Apparently, the wind had opened the screen door and the dogs took their opportunity to escape.

But what Carl did after he got lose was surprising.  Instead of heading straight to the neighbors he loves so much, he decided to make his way to unchartered territory.

The houses on our street each have close to an acre and are pretty spread apart. Each yard is full of pine trees in the back of the homes with nothing but game land bordering the lots. Happy to be free, Carl and Bee ran past three houses and noticed that the backdoor of the fourth house to be open.

Being the curious dog that he is, Carl looked in and spotted a big sheep dog and the owner of the house and made his way past them, jumped up on the couch, and made himself at home. Bee on the other hand, wouldn’t come in and decided to run back in the direction of home.

The owner of the house thought this was very amusing but knew he needed to find out where Carl had come from. So he left Carl slumbering and walked down to find the owner of this peculiar dog. Once my husband realized that both Bee and Carl were missing, he grabbed a leash and headed down the road.

As I thought about how Carl could have made a bad decision that could have led him into danger, I can’t help but think about all the animals that are being impacted by Hurricane Irma and Harvey. It breaks my heart to think about the animals that will suffer because of these storms.

I couldn’t imagine having to make a choice of leaving for shelter without my two dogs. This provoked me to ask what God thinks about the animals that He puts in our lives. I was truly encouraged when I read Proverbs 12:10.  “A righteous man regards the life of his animal.”

Matthew 6:26 states, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Both of these verses encourage me as we wonder how the animals will survive through these hurricanes. My prayers are definitely with these four legged friends.

As for Carl, when my husband made his way into our neighbor’s house, he couldn’t help but laugh at our little dog and how he had made himself at home.

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Allusions of Reality

Carl could see his reflection in the window pane and started to howl at it. He couldn’t be convinced that what he was barking at wasn’t real. So instead of ceasing, he took the barking up another notch. Determined to make the allusive figure leave, he looked right at it and then back at me. Realizing my little dog wasn’t going to stop the ear piercing screech, I opened the door so that Carl could go out and see that the image wasn’t real.

Reality. As I watched Carl react to the suggestive figure on the other side of the glass, I began to ponder how we can be just like him as we go through this life. Reality can mean many things to different people. For some, making money, seeking power, and climbing the ladder of success is their reality. For others, putting all their hopes and dreams into their family is their definition of what is true and right.

But what if this life is a temporal set of circumstances that isn’t reality at all. What if what Jesus tried to tell us when he walked this earth is the only true reality? In John 12, Jesus knew he would be crucified in only a few days and his words became more urgent.

John 12:44-46 states, “Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

Could this light he is referring to be the true reality? If so, where can we find it? And how can we be sure that we are living a life based on truth and not on an allusive falsehood?

I must remember the facts about this man. Jesus died. Just like we all will do. But this is where He was different. He actually rose from the dead and walked on the earth. He ate bread with his friends and even allowed Thomas to place his finger through the hole in his hand. But what gives me the most encouragement is that He ascended into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father.

So if Jesus is the reality that lasts for eternity, it gives me a lot to think about as I ponder how to live out my life.

After a while, Carl stopped barking and laid down on the cool floor to wait for another allusion to bark at. As the daylight changed how it reflected on the window, the figure that he once saw disappeared and was no longer real.

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To Be Touched

My heart went out for Carl. He was clearly depressed and there wasn’t anything that I could do to improve his state of mind. He had been left by himself at the pet resort for four days. His sister Bee had gone to stay with a family and wasn’t there to share the kennel that they had occupied in the past.

During the days, he spent his time playing with the other dogs but none were his sister. I am sure the nights were probably the hardest as he lay in his crate waiting for a familiar face to appear.

Once he got home, his entire demeanor was somber.  The playful Carl was nowhere to be found. Instead a quiet subdued dog occupied the body of my little pet.  It was clear that he had missed the human touch that he was so accustomed to receiving.

Human touch. We can take it for granted. Particularly if you get a large dose of it on a regular basis. But not everyone experiences hugs or holding hands. Many people are either rejected or don’t understand the significance of this basic need.

Jesus knew the importance of touch. Many times He reached out to the ostracized.  In Matthew 8:2-3, He is willing to put his hand out to someone who has been shunned for years. “Suddenly a leper came and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing, He said, “be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”

Jesus could have easily healed this man without the personal touch he extended. But He knew that this man needed more than just being healed. He needed the contact by another human being.

Carl also needed the touch of his family members. He had missed it deeply. But after a night of resting on my husband’s lap and receiving the stroking of his hand over his furry back, Carl transformed back into the rambunctious Frenchie that we have grown to love and adore.

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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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Walking Through Doors

Carl spotted the small animal from the inside window grazing in our back yard. His ears perked up and his body stood erect. After a short shallow growl, he moved toward the doggy door and waited for it to open before rushing out into the great outdoors.

I am sure the animal was caught off guard to see a dog come from the other side of a wall.  But before it could think, it had to get to the fence and climb up and over before the bully had a chance to attack.

It is amazing how today you can find remote controlled doggy doors that are triggered by an electric impulse. But what is more amazing is knowing that someone actually walked through walls.

In John 20:19-20 the Bible states, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”

Did you see that? The doors were locked but Jesus came and stood among them. Isn’t it encouraging to know that Jesus can walk through walls? What walls in your life do you think Jesus can’t get through?

I know for me, there are times that my lack of faith can build a wall that I wonder if Jesus can get through. During these times, I need to go back to this passage and remember that Jesus can get through any wall that I may build.

As for Carl, as long as he wears his collar with the remote controlled opener, he will be able to come and go as he chooses. In and out without any problem. So if Carl can go in and out as he pleases, why is it so hard to believe that Jesus can’t do the same?

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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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Carl’s Leap Forward

Bee can’t jump but Carl can. A couple of years ago, Carl went to stay with some neighbors and he came back jumping. Even though Carl and Bee are very similar in stature, Carl has been practicing the art of raising his body and leaping onto the furniture.

What causes one person to be able to leap through life higher than others? Why are some content with staying on the ground while others are jumping to new heights? David gives us a glimpse of how God is ready and waiting to give anyone who asks, a push upward.

In my previous blog, David had just been anointed as king. But he didn’t take on this role until much later. Instead, he returned to the pastures and the sheep that he had surrounded himself with. No one considered much of him.  But God did. He was grooming David by placing him out in the pasture where he was forced to kill both a bear and a lion.

It is hard to imagine how this young adolescent felt about what he could accomplish after he slayed these two animals. But I am sure his confidence in God had increased as he thought back on these events.

So when David witnessed the harassment of the Israelites by a Philistine giant, he knew what he had to do. Even when his brothers and King Saul tried to convince him that he was crazy, he pursued the mission of killing the giant.

Why would David take on Goliath when all the others pulled back in fear? In 1 Samuel 17:26 David asks, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

It is clear from this question that David not only believed in God but knew Him intimately. This relationship was so real that David couldn’t stand by and allow this nine foot bully to intimidate the army of the living God.  While all the other men stood on the ground focusing on serving a hollow king, David was already leaping into a spiritual battle.

There are many times that I should be focused on our living God but instead my eyes are stuck on mortals with no power. But when I turn my attention on to God, you may see me soaring through life.

Just this evening, Carl took another leap onto the couch and made himself comfortable. Poor Bee was left with her front paws up on the furniture wondering how Carl could get himself up so high. But don’t feel too sorry for her. I bought her a deluxe bed that her brother is not allowed on. My only concern is that he will mark his territory when I am not looking. Time will only tell.

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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