Category Archives: mourning

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.

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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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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Carl and the Serpent

At first, I wasn’t sure what I was watching. Carl and Bee were pulling on something and neither were going to let go. The problem was the thing was a black snake that had slithered up on the porch to sun himself and didn’t realize what he had gotten himself into.

All I could do was scream. I am not sure if I was crying out for the snake or for the safety of my dogs. I couldn’t tell if the reptile was poisonous from my distance and I wasn’t going to get any closer.  So after a couple of minutes of tug a war, the dogs were no longer pulling.

It was then that I went into the screened in porch and looked over to see the remains of the snake. The head was lying on one side of the porch and the rest of the creature was lying between both dogs. Foam was seeping out of their mouths as they protected their prey.

I called my husband for advice and he told me to get the snake off the porch and throw it over the fence. Even though the snake was dead, I still didn’t want to go near it. So I recruited a neighbor to come to my rescue and discard it for me.

As he went to pick up the head, the snake opened its mouth. This absolutely creeped me out. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The mouth continued to open and close while the rest of the body slithered around five feet away. What I learned later is that this isn’t that unusual.

I couldn’t help but think about this verse as I pondered the continued movement of the snake. John 15:5-6 states, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

Just as the snake’s body had been removed from the head, we can also be removed from the vine. Sometimes, people may even look spiritually alive and make all the right movements, but in the end, if they don’t remain in Jesus, they are dead.

John 15:7 states how we are to remain in Jesus.  It states, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

If we stay in God’s word and it remains in us, we can ask whatever we wish and it states that it will be done for us. But we need to be careful in knowing that it may not happen immediately or even in our lifetime. And in many cases, the end result may look very different from what we have perceived it to be.

Just as the snake continued to open and close its mouth, my perception of what a dead snake looks like was definitely different from what it was in reality. As for Carl, he did suffer a battle wound on his left ear. It appears the snake must have dug in as Carl and Bee pulled him a part. But thankfully, he seems fine and ready for his next encounter with the wild.

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Living Oblivious

Carl was oblivious to the circumstances. He was prancing around like he was going to be chosen to go camping. On the other hand, Bee wouldn’t leave my side for fear that she would be left behind. I tried to comfort the little girl by telling her she would be the one to go but after being left in the past, she didn’t want to take a chance.

It is funny to think about the differences in the dogs’ behaviors and the assumptions that both made about what was going to happen. Carl appeared to be a little arrogant with his head held high as he pranced around. On the other hand, Bee seemed terrified of being left.

As I observed the posture that my dogs took, I couldn’t help but think about our own posture before God. Many people emulate the confidence the Pharisees portrayed regarding their final destination.  They were so prideful about knowing how to get to Heaven that they didn’t recognize the only Way to get there.

On the other hand, prostitutes, invalids, and the twelve disheveled men that Jesus selected as His disciples followed Him around for three years until it became crystal clear that this man was God’s son.

How often do we all live in a state of oblivion? Just the other day, I found Carl sleeping on the back porch directly under the sun roof. As he lay in the brightness of the sun, the light diminished his figure in the process.

The contrast of his figure made me ponder. Isn’t this how we should live so that we don’t get caught in a state of oblivion? Jesus states that He is the light of the world. John 8:12. If so, if we are living in His light, shouldn’t our figures be diminished and His enhanced?

Carl didn’t see it coming when I pranced him over to the neighbor’s house before loading Bee into the truck. He continued to appear confident and sure of himself. I almost felt sorry for him. Then it struck me. Isn’t that how we exist in our own state of oblivion, confident in ourselves without regard for God?IMG_1793